Overview – Calculators are by far the most complicated job in Final Fantasy Tactics. Calculators cast spells learned from other jobs, even when those spells aren’t equipped as a secondary skill. They also cast those spells without a MP cost and with complex targeting rules. Understanding exactly how a Calculator functions is critical to effectively using this job in combat. The following guide to the Calculator job in Final Fantasy Tactics will help you best take advantage of the job benefits and spend your job points wisely.
Prerequisites – The Calculator is unlocked when you have a character that is at least level 4 in Wizard and Priest and at least level 3 in Oracle and Time Mage. Because Calculators need to know lots of spells, you will probably need the Calculator to be much higher level in each of those jobs to function effectively.
Advancement – There is no advanced job that requires levels in Calculator.
Equipment – Calculators can equip sticks, dictionaries, hats, robes, and clothes. This equipment set is very similar to other spell casting jobs so you can easily switch jobs with this character.
Math Skill Basics – To use the Math Skill, the Calculator must have at least one skill from among CT, Level, Exp, and Height and at least one skill from among Prime Number, 5, 4, and 3. The way the Math Skill works is that you activate the skill and then choose a spell that the Calculator has learned from Priest, Wizard, Time Mage, or Oracle. Not all spells can be chosen. Some spells do not work with the Math Skill ability, but even if a spell does work with it, you can’t choose it if the character hasn’t already learned it. After choosing the spell, you choose one skill from the first category and one from the second. These skills are used to determine the targets for the spell. Instead of the normal range and targeting rules, the spell affects all characters on the board that match the combination of skills you chose. Also, unlike with normal spells, when you cast a spell with the Math Skill, it activates immediately rather than having a delay.
Math Skill: CT (250 JP) – This skill targets characters based on the current CT. CT is always a number between 0 and 100 and you can easily check the CT of any character. The advantage of using CT to determine targets is that the CT of characters does not remain constant and you can take active measures to try to make characters have similar or different CTs by using spells or skills that affect speed or CT. CT is the option where you are most likely to have at least one available target at all times and rarely be forced to affect a target you don’t want to, so it is probably good for a first choice.
Math Skill: Level (350 JP) – Despite the fact that this skill is the most expensive in terms of JP, Level is also the easiest to use. Level rarely changes during a battle so you can look at it once and then not worry about it changing. Additionally, enemies often share a level, which makes it a lot easier to affect multiple enemies at once. You can also try to make your allies share a level, but this takes a lot more work. The biggest drawback of Level is that when enemies and allies share a level, you basically can’t do anything to avoid that.
Math Skill: Exp (200 JP) – Exp is a very complicated Math Skill to use because it changes with every action that every character takes. Exp checks the current experience of the character. This can be any number form 0 to 99, with 0 being a little more common because that is what experience is set to when a character levels up. You need to pay very close attention when you use Exp and you should expect that some characters will have exactly the same value.
Math Skill: Height (250 JP) – Height is a much smaller range of numbers than any of the previous skills. It also can be at a half increment. If a character is standing on a height that is at a half increment, the character is immune to any Math Skill based on Height. It is possible to use this to your advantage, but it also can interfere with your ability to use Math Skill. This is generally the last one you should learn of this set of four.
Math Skill: Prime Number (300 JP) – When used with Math Skill, Prime Number will affect the chosen parameter if it is a prime number. For example, if you choose Level and Prime Number, all level 13 and level 17 characters will be affected, but level 16 characters won’t. There are 25 prime numbers between 0 and 100 and eight prime numbers in the first 20 numbers. Overall, that makes this a pretty strong choice in this set. The one major flaw with Prime Number is that it doesn’t affect the number 0.
Math Skill: 5 (200 JP) – The 5 skill will affect any parameter that is a multiple of the number 5, including the number 0. The main advantage to using this skill is that characters are always at 100 CT when they act, so you can always use this to affect the Calculator with CT if you want, because 100 is a multiple of 5. Of course, this also means that you can’t avoid affecting your Calculator if all you have is CT and 5.
Math Skill: 4 (400 JP) – The number 4 is pretty lousy. Prime Number is basically just as common between 0 and 100 and costs 100 JP less. This should usually be the last Math Skill you learn on a Calculator.
Math Skill: 3 (600 JP) – This skill has exactly the opposite advantage of 5. It can never be used to affect the Calculator with CT, which means the Calculator will always assuredly be safe from damaging spells when using CT and 3. Obviously, it is also about 35% more common than either 4 or Prime Number, which is why it is so expensive.
Reaction: Distribute (200 JP) – Distribute is interesting for a Calculator, but really comes into its own for a Priest. When this character is healed, any excess healing over the Calculator’s maximum hit point value is distributed evenly among all other allies on the board. On a Priest, this ability can be used to heal all allies every turn regardless of position, which would make a Priest even better at area healing than a Bard.
Reaction: Damage Split (300 JP) – Whenever this character takes damage, if the character survives the damage, the character then heals an amount equal to half the damage taken and the enemy damage equal to the amount healed. The exact benefit of this depends on how much damage enemies are doing, but it will usually effectively increase the health of the Calculator by at least 50% and deals damage at the same time. Combined with some form of healing spell, a Calculator can literally heal an enemy to death. This is the one Reaction ability that even challenges Auto Potion for best choice for a spell caster.
Support: Gained Exp Up (350 JP) – Unless you rush towards Calculator as quickly as possible, by the time you unlock a Calculator, you probably aren’t in great need of doubling the speed that your character gains experience points. But, if you feel that your character does need experience points more quickly, this will greatly reduce the grinding you need to do.
Move: Move-Get Exp (400 JP) – The nearly trivial amount of experience points you get for moving is only worth it if you have already equipped Gained Exp Up on the character and still feel the character is leveling too slowly. If that still isn’t fast enough, there is nothing else left to do.
Move: Move-Get JP (360 JP) – This is essentially the same as above skill except it earns you JP when you move. It is just as worthless for much the same reason and actually more worthless because JP is extremely easy to get with skills like Accumulate.
Strategy – In true, a Calculator is only really useful once you have learned all eight skills from the Math Skill set. You need the flexibility of combinations to really get the right targets. Whenever you use Math Skill, pay close attention to what spaces are glowing green before confirming the ability. Those are the characters that will be affected by the spell. If you see a green glow under an ally when you are casting Flare, for instance, you want to change the parameters. Similarly, if you are casting Haste and you see the glow under enemies, you need to change the parameters. Also, a Calculator is basically worthless unless you have learned a lot of spells from other jobs. This means that even once you learn everything from the Math Skill set, you should have the Calculator return to the other spell casting jobs and learn more spells. If you unlock Calculator by happenstance but don’t intend to use the job, then just have the character learn Distribute and Damage Split. The latter is always useful and the former is cheap and might prove useful.