A common mechanic in tactical role playing games is the ability to recruit monsters to your party. Final Fantasy Tactics is no exception to this rule. The Woodmen in Final Fantasy Tactics are essentially monster versions of very limited Priests. Except for having higher hit points, human spell casters are basically better in all ways. The one main reason you might want to acquire Woodmen is to breed them and then try to use Poach on them to get some rather high quality items. The following guide to Woodmen in Final Fantasy Tactics will help you optimally use this monster in your party.
Innate Ability: Counter (All) – All monsters have the ability to counterattack. Woodmen do not deal very much damage with this counterattack, so you shouldn’t rely on it for defense.
Innate Ability: Weak to Fire (All) – Woodmen couldn’t possibly have a worse weakness than fire. Fire is the most common element in the game. The only reason this isn’t too bad a weakness is because Woodmen tend to stay in the back lines and not get near any enemies.
Innate Ability: Earth Absorb (All) – Woodmen are healed by an earth element attack. If you have a Monk in your party, you can potentially attack with it and heal your monster at the same time.
Innate Ability: Can’t Enter Water (All) – Woodmen can never enter water squares. Combined with their woefully low movement speed, they are all but worthless in any map with water.
Special Ability: Leaf Dance (All) – The basic attack of this monster is unlike almost all other monsters. The damage is quite low, but it attacks all creatures within two squares and can’t miss. You generally have to be desperate to use this attack, but at least you can hit a lot of enemies if you do.
Special Ability: Protect Spirit (Woodman w/ Monster Skill, Taiju) – This ability places Protect on all creatures within two squares. It can fail, but it won’t fail often at the levels where you first start using this monster.
Special Ability: Spirit of Life (Trent) – Spirit of Life will heal all creatures within two squares of the Trent. This healing is not a spell so it won’t be stopped by Reflect and the healing is actually quite good for area healing. For this reason, a Trent may actually be a valuable addition to your party if you need to use Reflect to survive enemy spell casters.
Special Ability: Clam Spirit (Trent w/ Monster Skill, Taiju) – Clam Spirit applies Shell to all creatures within two squares of this character and has the same failure chance as Protect Spirit. A Priest offers a more versatile way to cast the spell. The only meaningful advantage of this ability is that it bypasses Reflect, but if your team has Reflect, it doesn’t really need Shell.
Special Ability: Magic Spirit (Taiju w/ Monster Skill) – The only reason that you might ever want to include a Taiju in your party is the Magic Spirit ability. It restores MP to all creatures within two squares of it. No other ability in the game restores MP to multiple allies at the same time. This benefit only matters if your entire party other than the Taiju uses MP, which is incredibly unlikely, so this skill is probably just a waste of time.
Strategy – The reason that a Priest is so good is because a Priest has a large assortment of defensive and healing spells. Woodmen are just too limited. Each type has access to a few defensive abilities, but without any real versatility and incredibly limited range. It just isn’t a good enough deal. You are better off teaching a Priest to wear armor than including any of the various Woodmen in your party. The Taiju can be a source for getting a Defender if you are willing to breed it and then Poach it, but that doesn’t require you to actually use any of the abilities of the monster.