Overview – The Samurai is just about the dominant advanced job Final Fantasy Tactics in terms of melee combat. A Samurai is at least as effective as a Knight both in its ability to deal damage and to absorb hits. But, it is also nearly as flexible as a Monk on how it approaches a battle. There is a major limitation on this flexibility, though. A Samurai can only use a Draw Out ability when you have at least one weapon with the same name as the Draw Out ability unequipped in your inventory. And, each time Draw Out is used, there is a chance the corresponding weapon is broken. This means you will have to constantly spend gil to keep using the Samurai’s abilities and some won’t be available until late game no matter how much JP your character has. The following guide to the Samurai job in Final Fantasy Tactics will help you best take advantage of the job benefits and spend your job points wisely.
Prerequisites – To unlock the Samurai you need a level 3 Knight, a level 4 Monk, and a level 3 Lancer. The Lancer job follows a different tree than the other two jobs. Thus, in total, you need six jobs at varying levels to unlock this class. In general, you should start with Knight and Monk because the skills from those jobs are more useful to a Samurai than the skills from other jobs.
Advancement – A Samurai is the final job on its tree. You can still switch to other jobs, but no job requires any levels of Samurai.
Equipment – A Samurai can equip katanas, armored helmets, armor, and robes. Except for the weapon, this is a nearly identical setup to a Knight and a Lancer, which means your character can easily switch to those classes. Keep in mind that you need at least one of each weapon that you intend to use with Draw Out in your inventory and you should have two or more to be safe.
Draw Out: Asura Knife (100 JP) – With the exception of Kikuichimoji, every Draw Out ability can attack an enemy within three squares, dealing damage based on the quality of the weapon or buff an ally within three squares. You are likely to only have access to an Asura Knife when you first unlock Samurai. Until you find a Koutetsu, this is a solid skill for attacking at range and dirt cheap to learn. Even when you do find a Koutetsu, since the Asura Knife is cheaper, you may want to use this skill to avoid risking a more expensive weapon.
Draw Out: Koutetsu (180 JP) – The damage of the Koutetsu is higher than the Asura Knife. Once the weapon is available, pick up this skill.
Draw Out: Bizen Boat (260 JP) – This weapon deals MP damage instead of hit point damage. Like other attacks that do MP damage, you simply won’t deal enough damage to meaningfully affect the battle. Don’t bother with this skill unless you have nothing else to spend JP on.
Draw Out: Murasame (340 JP) – The Murasame will actually heal an ally. Since this allows your Samurai to have healing without having to spend a secondary skill slot on it, this is a great ability, especially at a relatively low job point cost for this point in the game.
Draw Out: Heaven’s Cloud (420 JP) – Just like Koutetsu, the main advantage of this ability is that it deals more damage than its predecessors. Heaven’s Cloud also applies Slow, but that benefit is slight. The general rule for Draw Out abilities is that you should learn them as soon as you can buy the weapon in multiples and this ability is no exception.
Draw Out: Kiyomori (500 JP) – Kiyomori puts Shell and Protect on an ally. A Priest requires two actions to give the same benefit and doesn’t have the same offensive ability. This skill is amazing.
Draw Out: Muramasa (580 JP) – Confusion and Death Sentence are relatively weak status effects, but the attack also deals damage, so it is worth using even if you are unlikely to see benefits from the effects.
Draw Out: Kikuichimoji (660 JP) – This is the one Draw Out ability that works significantly differently. It attacks all creatures in a straight line for eight squares. The extra range is amazing and the only drawback to this skill is that the Kikuichimoji is very expensive to replace when the weapon breaks.
Draw Out: Masamune (740 JP) – Masamune buffs allies with Regen and Haste. That is pretty much the best combination of buffs in the game and you don’t need a Time Mage to use them. As amazing as this skill is, you need to beware breaking your Masamune.
Draw Out: Chirijiraden (820 JP) – The Chirijiraden deals the most damage of all Draw Out abilities. Try to judge the remaining hit points of your enemies and use a weaker power when that is enough to finish off an enemy, just to avoid breaking this weapon.
Reaction: Meatbone Slash (200 JP) – When your Samurai is reduced to critical hit points, there is a chance the Samurai will respond with damage equal to the maximum hit points of the Samurai. This will just about instantly kill almost any enemy in the game unless the enemy is at maximum hit points and is quite sturdy, but that still doesn’t make it a great ability. You generally would prefer to prevent damage than counter only when your character is about to die.
Reaction: Blade Grasp (700 JP) – Blade Grasp is the best Reaction ability in the game for preventing damage. When the Samurai is subject to a physical attack other than from a bow or crossbow, the Samurai has a high chance to avoid the attack altogether. This can be combined with an equipped shield while the character is in another job to deflect or avoid the majority of physical attacks. A Lancer, for example, with a shield and Blade Grasp, is very hard to hit during the few moments that the Lancer isn’t completely immune to attacks due to the Jump power. This should be the first ability any Samurai learns, with the possible exception of Asura Knife.
Support: Equip Knife (400 JP) – The name of this ability is misleading. It actually allows a character to equip katana. Since a character doesn’t need to be wielding a katana to use Draw Out, this ability is not particularly good.
Support: Two Hands (900 JP) – If you want to deal absolutely top end damage, at the cost of being unable to wield a shield, this is the best skill in the game for dealing damage. A Knight with the Two Hands skill and a sword like Excalibur can potentially one-shot many enemies in the game. The Lancer ability of Attack Up offers less risk, but also offers less damage benefit. On the other hand, some classes can’t wield shields anyway, in which case this is a great ability with basically no benefit. You should definitely make sure all of your Samurai learn it, even if you aren’t sure whether you ever intend to use it.
Move: Walk on Water (300 JP) – The name of this ability says it all. Samurai don’t really need this because they have a ranged attack and most other classes are better off with an ability that increases movement speed. You should generally pass on this ability until you have every other skill.
Strategy – When you advance a character to Samurai, you generally do so to learn Support and Reaction skills. Even if you intend to learn Draw Out skills with that character, you only need to learn the skills for katana you have access to. Draw Out skills are worthless if you don’t own the respective katana. The best way to handle this is to always keep a reserve of job points equal to the next katana on the list and simply buy any other skills as you can afford them. Draw Out is an excellent secondary skill for other jobs if you prefer to switch the character, because it is flexible and only requires gil to support. On the other hand, Samurai is an amazing job for a character to finish the game in. It has relatively good maneuverability, deals high damage, wears great armor, and has a good base evasion rate. Make sure to learn Move +2 from Thief to augment the speed of your Samurai, but beyond that the job is relatively self sufficient.