Overview – The Archer job in Final Fantasy Tactics is one you dabble in or use for almost the entire game. There is almost no middle ground for this job. The main reason for this is because the best feature of the job, the ability to use a crossbow, is rarely worth wasting the support slot of another job. Some of the Archer abilities transfer well, but you rarely need a lot of them. The following guide to the Archer class in Final Fantasy Tactics will help you best take advantage of the job benefits and spend your job points wisely.
Prerequisites – You need a level 2 Squire in order to unlock the Archer. This is quite easy to unlock. In fact, there is a good chance you will be capable to switch a character to the Archer job before you are actually ready to switch jobs.
Advancement – A level 2 Archer can become a Thief and a level 3 Archer can become a Ninja. The job abilities of the Archer synergize better with the Ninja than with the Thief, so if you are working towards Thief, you probably want to switch as soon as possible while you may want to hold off if you are working towards Ninja.
Equipment – An Archer can equip a bow or a crossbow as a weapon and can equip a shield while equipped with the latter weapon. Additionally, the Archer can equip clothes and a hat. This defensive equipment set is nearly identical to a Squire. The similarity of equipment makes it easy to switch between the jobs relatively freely.
Charge: Charge +1 (100 JP) – Every single skill in this set works exactly the same way, just with a different degree of cost and benefit. When you make a normal attack with any skill from the Charge set, the attack does not immediately resolve. Instead there is a delay and then it deals additional damage depending on how large the boost. You may be tempted to get the weakest version just to have access to a small benefit, but usually it is a waste. Both of the next two skills offers more damage and the extra time they take to activate will rarely meaningfully cost you. You should only purchase this skill if you are pushing through the class quickly, intend to learn every skill in the class, or you have already purchased multiple other skills in this set.
Charge: Charge +2 (150 JP) – This is nearly identical to Charge +1, both in time and damage bonus. You should save your job points.
Charge: Charge +3 (200 JP) – Charge +3 is the first really good option. It gives enough of a boost to meaningfully improve your damage while not taking too long to use. Generally you should buy this for an early advantage and then save up for Charge +5.
Charge: Charge +4 (250 JP) – Charge +5 is the best deal for this set, but Charge +4 is very close in value. If you only want to spend a brief time in this class and then move on, this is a good choice of skills.
Charge: Charge +5 (300 JP) – In terms of time cost to damage benefit, this is the best skill in this set. Unless you really need to save JP or have your eye on only one skill in this set, this should be your first learned Charge skill.
Charge: Charge +7 (400 JP) – The time difference between this skill and the last one is noticeable. All too often, your target will walk away before you can use this skill. It is worth owning, but only after getting one of the earlier skills first.
Charge: Charge +10 (600 JP) – It is incredibly rare that Charge +10 will actually land a hit. Don’t even consider this skill if you intend to finish in a melee job.
Charge: Charge +20 (1000 JP) – Landing this attack is so close to impossible, it almost isn’t worth mentioning. If it does land, you are probably assured a kill, but you should only expect to land this attack when using a spell like Stop to assure the target can’t move. Only learn this ability after you have characters in your party that can immobilize in some way.
Reaction: Speed Save (800 JP) – Speed Save is a tricky ability, because equipping it means you can’t have a counter or avoidance ability equipped to the character. Whenever the Archer takes hit point damage, the character gains a boost to speed for the remainder of the battle. That is a nice advantage for a Ninja or a Thief, but doesn’t help an Archer that much. A better choice is to equip an evasion ability from another job, but until you get such an ability, this isn’t terrible.
Reaction: Arrow Guard (450 JP) – While Arrow Guard is an ability that evades attacks, it only evades attacks from bows and crossbows. This may seem good for an Archer, but usually the main threat to an Archer comes from melee and magic attacks. It is better to pick this up if you intend to change this character to a melee job and want some defense while assaulting archers.
Support: Concentrate (400 JP) – This ability is situational, but when it is good, it is great. When you use Concentrate, the attacking character has 100% accuracy. There are plenty of battles where this type of accuracy is nearly critical, even at the cost of other Support abilities. If there is any ability you should learn before changing jobs, this is the one.
Support: Equip Crossbow (350 JP) – The ability to equip a ranged weapon is nice, but almost useless for every other job, with the exception of Squire and Thief. Usually, even when equipping a crossbow is useful, you would rather have a different Support skill equipped, but that will depend on your equipment and available skill options.
Move: Jump +1 (200 JP) – You should almost never need this ability for any class other than an Archer. Move +1 from Squire is almost always superior and you have to be a Squire before you can be an Archer. The ability to climb cliffs is useful for an Archer and they don’t jump very well, so this is useful at least temporarily, but only barely. In general, you are better off jumping into Thief briefly, learning Jump +2 and then returning to Archer.
Strategy – There are two main ways to approach being an Archer. The usual approach is to learn Concentration and a few Charge skills and then change to a different job. A good suite of Charge skills will usually give you enough options to deal very efficient damage. Obviously, having all of the skills makes you maximally efficient, but you rarely want to spend that long in the job. A nice combination is to have Charge +1, Charge +3, Charge +5, and one of the remaining three options. The other main way to play an Archer is essentially never leave the job except for brief stints in other jobs to pick up a few key skills. If you take this approach, make sure to learn Equip Crossbow before leaving so you can still mostly act as an Archer.