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. Panthers are a useful type of monster to add to your party because they move like a Thief but fight like a Knight. More powerful Panthers gain ranged attacks which are also generally useful. You can create a hybrid human character with similar abilities, but it may just be easier to get a Panther than to piece together multiple jobs. The following guide to Panthers in Final Fantasy Tactics will help you optimally use this monster in your party.
How to Acquire – You can acquire Panthers at Mandalia Plains or Zirekile Falls.
Innate Ability: Counter (All) – All monsters have the ability to counterattack. Since Panthers move quickly, this ability will probably be used a little more often than with slower moving characters.
Innate Ability: Weak to Earth (All) – All Panthers take increased damage from earth attacks. Thankfully, this damage type is very rare. You need to be wary if there is a Summoner or Monk among the enemies, but those are the only real risks.
Innate Ability: Ignore Height (All) – The ability to ignore heights means that a Panther can jump on top of any surface, as long as it is a surface the Panther can normally walk on. The last restriction is important because Panthers are still worthless around water. A Vampire can potentially use this ability to get to a height and attack from range, but other Panthers don’t get a lot of benefit from, except on city maps.
Innate Ability: Can’t Enter Water (All) – Panthers have a second weakness that is absolutely devastating on some maps. Unlike most characters, a Panther simply can’t enter water at all. This weakness means you should never bring a Panther to a map with any water, unless it has very little water and the Panther is a Vampire. City maps are best for Panthers
Special Ability: Scratch (All) – Scratch is the basic attack of the Panther. It deals respectable damage that can be increased by increasing the Brave of the Panther.
Special Ability: Poison Nail (Red Panther, Cuar) – Poison Nail has a chance to Poison an enemy. As an added effect to damage, Poison is nice. On its own, this is a nearly worthless ability, especially since it can fail.
Special Ability: Cat Kick (Red Panther w/ Monster Skill, Cuar, Vampire) – Cat Kick is pretty much worthless, unless you want to push an enemy. And, even then, it only has a chance of pushing. The damage of this ability is completely random, but maxes out a value that is quite low except near the very beginning of the game.
Special Ability: Blaster (Cuar w/ Monster Ability, Vampire) – While the success rate on Blaster may be low, it is amazing when it does work. It can apply Stop or Petrify to an enemy. These are both great abilities and, like all monster abilities, this doesn’t cost MP to use. A Vampire should generally use Blaster every round and only deal damage with counterattacks.
Special Ability: Blood Suck (Vampire w/ Monster Ability) – The main benefit of this ability is that it never misses, though it can be evaded. The enemy loses 25% of its hit points and your Vampire heals that amount. Furthermore, if the enemy is a human character, it has a chance to be inflicted with Undead. The latter benefit doesn’t help that much, unless the enemy has a very nasty Reaction ability. It takes a lot of effort to set this up, but the large swing in health can be devastating. Generally, this is better than Scratch if your Vampire is fighting in melee.
Strategy – It is pretty easy to get Move +1 on a Knight, which means the Red Panther has almost no advantage compared to a human character. On the other hand, a Vampire brings some skills to the table which aren’t quite as easy to mimic with human characters. The ability to use Stop and Petrify every turn is potentially very powerful, especially if you have some means of increasing the magic attack rating of the Vampire. Alternatively, if you have a front line warrior with Monster Skill, a Vampire can devastate in melee combat by using Blood Suck every round and this is one of the very few ways to disable an enemy with a powerful Reaction ability.