Overview – The Time Mage in Final Fantasy Tactics is almost purely a support job. But unlike the Priest that heals and grants defensive boosts, the Time Mage generally grants offensive boosts to your allies and hindering effects to enemies. It is a nearly perfect job to combine with Wizard or Summoner and even has a very nice synergy with Chemist. In fact, the Time Mage synergizes incredibly well with almost any spell casting job. The following guide to the Time Mage job in Final Fantasy Tactics will help you best take advantage of the job benefits and spend your job points wisely.
Prerequisites – In order to unlock Time Mage you need a level 2 Wizard. You can get a character to this point quickly if the character doesn’t spend a lot of time as a Chemist or Wizard. In general, though, you want a Time Mage to have learned at least Fire, Bolt, and Ice from Wizard before starting this job.
Advancement – A Time Mage can directly advance to a Summoner once it has reached level 2. Additionally, Time Mage is one of the four classes required to create a Calculator.
Equipment – Time mages can equip staves, hats, robes, and clothes. This equipment set is nearly identical to most other spell casting jobs, which makes it easy to swap between spell casting jobs rather freely.
Time Magic: Haste (100 JP) – This spell is, by far, the best spell that a Time Mage has access to. You can increase the acting speed of up to five members of your party with it. Learn this first and use it at the start of every battle. The increased speed effectively adds another character to your party.
Time Magic: Haste 2 (550 JP) – The only benefit this spell has over Haste is that it has a vertical component. In the late game this might prove handy, but don’t waste JP on it early.
Time Magic: Slow (80 JP) – Slow is essentially the reverse of Haste when cast on enemies. It is much harder to bunch enemies than allies, so the spell isn’t as useful. Still, it should be the second spell you learn for your Time Mage and usually the second spell your Time Mage casts in a battle.
Time Magic: Slow 2 (520 JP) – Slow 2 gains the exact same benefit over Slow that Haste 2 gains over Haste. Against enemies that will often be standing on multiple heights even when they are bunched, this is a much more useful benefit and this spell, despite its high cost, should be a priority for you once you’ve picked up all the cheap spells.
Time Magic: Stop (330 JP) – Given the amazing benefit of preventing a cluster of enemies from acting, this spell has a remarkably low JP cost and a rather reasonable MP cost. It works often enough that it is definitely worth saving JP for after you acquire Slow and Haste.
Time Magic: Don’t Move (100 JP) – Just about the only reason not to learn Stop as the third spell for your Time Mage is because you learn Don’t Move instead. Against melee opponents, it essentially allows your ranged attackers free range, but has little effect against ranged attackers. The weakened benefit is balanced by a cheaper MP and JP cost.
Time Magic: Float (200 JP) – Floating is practically worthless and never worth either the JP to learn the spell or the MP to cast it.
Time Magic: Reflect (300 JP) – Reflect will prevent and return to the caster most of the spells in the game. This may sound amazing, but it also means you can’t use Cure spells on an ally, so it must be used with care. One way to make this incredibly useful is to rely on the Item skill for your healing. Additionally, if the enemy force includes a character that can cast White Magic or Time Magic, this spell can be used on an enemy to prevent that enemy from being healed or buffed. The original caster will get that benefit, but usually that doesn’t matter. It won’t always be useful, but you can manipulate the situation to make it useful sometimes and when it is useful, it is nearly critical. All Time Mages should learn this spell early.
Time Magic: Quick (800 JP) – Quick makes an ally act immediately. This isn’t very useful in the first half of the game, but in the second half of the game where your characters tend to be specialized, this is amazing.
Time Magic: Demi (250 JP) – Demi is a spell that many new players learn and think is awesome until it fails to work like they expect. It reduces the hit points of the target by a set percentage. Since it is a percentage, this spell can never kill and is less effective against already weakened enemies. It also has a chance to fail unlike damage spells. Overall, it is pretty much a waste of JP.
Time Magic: Demi 2 (550 JP) – The only advantage of Demi 2 over Demi is that it has more vertical effect. It is at least as much of a waste of JP as Demi, if not more.
Time Magic: Meteor (1500 JP) – This spell is insane. It deals the highest damage of any spell in the game, but also costs the most MP, takes the longest time to activate, has the largest area effect, and costs the most job points. Don’t bother learning this until your Time Mage has at least 150 MP available.
Reaction: Critical Quick (700 JP) – When the Time Mage’s health gets reduced to a critical level, the Time Mage can act immediately. This is most useful if the Time Mage has some form of healing, but still offers the Time Mage a chance to run away even if healing isn’t an option. Reaction skills that prevent attacks are generally better and Auto Potion is definitely better, so there is rarely a need to learn this skill.
Reaction: MP Switch (400 JP) – MP Switch causes the character with this skill to take MP damage instead of hit point damage. Any spell caster will be forced to chug ethers like crazy to be useful with this skill, but it is particularly handy for essentially increasing the health of a fighting class that doesn’t otherwise use MP. It also works well with any character that has learned the Chakra skill.
Support: Short Charge (800 JP) – If there is any reason to become a Time Mage, this skill is that reason. This skill makes the character effectively under a Haste effect at all times and it stacks with Haste. Every single job benefits from this. Any Time Mage should learn it before leaving the job and usually as one of the first skills learned.
Move: Teleport (600 JP) – The Time Mage can attempt to Teleport. The Time Mage can potentially move any distance, but the longer the Teleport the greater chance of the skill failing completely. When it does work, it ignores all height restrictions and moves through any obstacles, including enemies. It is an excellent skill for any spell caster. If you intend to build a Summoner that also casts Black Magic, this is the one skill from Time Mage you should learn before progressing.
Move: Float (540 JP) – The skill is no more useful than the spell, especially given that it costs nearly three times as many job points.
Strategy – Time Magic is an effective type of support magic for almost any casting job and Short Charge is effective for almost any job in the game. In fact, you may want to quickly level a warrior character to Time Mage just to acquire Short Charge and then never look at the job again. If you actually want Time Magic, Haste, Slow, and Quick are generally your best spells in most battles. Time Magic also makes a good secondary for a Summoner, allowing a character to either attack big or support other characters. If you choose to combine Time Magic with another job with almost no offense, like a Priest, you definitely need to make sure you have another character in your party who can take up the offensive slack. In general, Chemist is a better combination than Priest because a Chemist can use a gun and Reflect synergizes better with the Item skill.