Okay, I’m rather late coming into this topic, though I just picked it up and started playing through it for the first time since I got it and, besides from Salamander spanking me once, I haven’t had much of a problem with it at all. Of course, alternatively, I have already beaten the nes version of it. Anyway, I’m…Just after visiting Doga’s house, and here’s roughly how my party progressed.
2 red mages
You just can’t go wrong with these guys. They basically do just as much damage with swords as a fighter, they can heal, and they can use black magic which is rather powerful while you’re still on the floating continent.
Okay, so they start out sorta weak, but keep with them. They’re supplied with fairly decent equipment when you need it, and as long as you keep them unarmed and doing an action (be it guard or retaliate) Their class level just keeps getting higher and higher. And since their class level is added to their unarmed (twice for two hands), later, say after the tower of Owen, they become a physical powerhouse, especially with retaliate (if you can get lucky, which is a bit easier to do with bosses that attack twice). I’ve basically kept him a monk and plan to keep him a monk for as long as I can, cause right now he’s my highest damage dealer, and very fast at it too.
1 black mage
Okay, black magic is fairly godly in the beginning part of the game, and becomes even better once you start getting the staves that let you use the base spells for free AND boost your INT. Save you highest level spells for bosses and your black mage will be the main damage man. Eventually however, he becomes a damage magnet, even with his best armor in the back row. Blasting against Salamander and Kraken with your highest level attack spells will bring them to their knees soon enough while the rest of your party can concentrate on staying alive. However, after the kraken, black magic starts being outdone by normal physical attacks.
Red mage to Knight.
Made this change as soon as it became available. When I did this I was hoping it would be a major improvement. Not sure if it was. True, better armor, but it’s a slow progression for class levels, so a slow progression of max hits. All the same, not dissatisfied, and it’s nearly self-sufficient with a blood sword. I sorta wish guard would block damage from your allies before they were in critical though. I’d probably have kept my black mage if it did that. And they are just too slow in battle for my taste. Hit first hit hard is the best kinda strategy, cause the random encounters in this game can be pretty brutal if you’re careless.
Red mage to Thief
Thief is a good class. Lot’sa hits, fast, and once you reach that one town (the one where your boat is changed with the sewer) it gets awesome armor and boomerangs, so it can be backrow too.
Black Mage to White Mage.
At this point, what with the loss of the red mages and the Knight’s ability to heal rather pathetic, We’re running short on healing. So, switching over the black mage to a white mage makes up for that, and, once you get to Sumeria and open up the shops, you get staves that let you cast third level black magic and some other spells, and you can always equip a couple wizard’s staffs to push up a white mage’s damage rate. Still low defense, but at least it can heal itself.
Anyway, this of course, isn’t counting the necessary class changes for certain bosses (scholar, dragoon). Also, I’ve never equiped a shield after I got more than one weapon.
Helpful? Of course, if you’re already a decent ways into a game, you’re probably best getting something other than a monk. Maybe another thief? Black mage? Dragoon? Red Mage? I’d suggest something more along the hit hard hit fast, so I’d say against viking or knight. As for rangers…thieves are faster, seem to hit just about as hard, and have a bit better equipment, at least at the point I’m at.