P06C: Into the Bresha Ruins -- Monsters
The marker for Atlas is deep in the Ruins -- and as you approach the stairs and chat with the Guard there you learn that you new ID's gain you access beyond his Guard Post -- which is a good thing since that is where we need to go.
Up the stairs at the top you will find a Treasure Sphere with 2 Potions in it, and a few steps deeper into the Ruins will trigger a battle in which, among other things, you are introduced to the Monster Taming System -- and score your first Monster Crystal and unlock a Paradigm Pack. Moogle then explains to you a little about monsters and how you can train them to fight with and for you. Read the Monster Crystals Primer Page that opens, and you now know that you can access Monsters from the Character Menu (they call it the Main Menu but that is confusing since there is an actual Main Menu so I will continue to call it the Character Menu, but you get the idea).
You need to open the menu and select Paradigm Pack within the Party Paradigm menu to add your new Monster to your party -- and remember that Monsters also get upgrades within the Crystarium so do not neglect to boost their levels and skills, right? After you close the Primer page you are given the option to take the Paradigm Pack Tutorial -- and I think you should do that!
Adding your first Monster companions
After you complete that tutorial you will get the Feral Link Tutorial and I really recommend that you complete that since it will give you a sample battle in which you use it to get to know it. As you likely have guessed there is a lot more information on the Monsters and their abilities and uses in the Primer Pages of the Datalog, so after you complete the tutorials why not spend a little time reading the pages so you are well informed?
You can now access the Monster selection from the Character Menu and do things like choose custom names, apply adornments, and the like. When you enter the Crystarium you will notice that in place of CP you upgrade your Monsters using special items that you have collected -- and you can apply an upgrade to one of your Monsters now!
By this point you should be pretty familiar with the Monsters, how they work, and how they will best serve you -- if not, re-read the Primer Pages for them again, seriously, because they represent an important element in your battle capabilities from here on out!
Now would be an excellent time to save your game...
-- Now let's examine this Monster Thingy --
Now that you have obtained your first Monster Crystals, added your first Monsters to your Party, edited your Paradigms, and maybe enjoyed a few battles with your new Monsters present, it is really time for us to take a closer look at this Monster thingy -- and why it factors as an important element not only of game play but also as a focus for your strategic play...
The first thing you need to understand is that you can fight specific monster types in several encounters and NOT obtain a Monster Crystal for them -- and when you DO obtain that Crystal you will not obtain any more for THAT Monster, unless you use the one you have to boost the skills of one of your other Monsters. I can hear you saying "Whhhaaaaat?!"
OK, in addition to being able to apply certain items in the Crystarium in order to level-up your Monsters, you can also have them absorb OTHER Monsters that you have captured. The good news is that once they do that, you can capture another one of the same Monster now that you no longer have that crystal in your inventory.
The other good news is that absorbing Monsters really does increase the effectiveness of your Monsters if you do it right. What do I mean by "if you do it right?" Simple really, because when you examine the individual Monsters you have in your kit you will notice that they have different attributes and stats -- and if you find, for instance, that one of the Monsters in the trio that are your active group can use one of those stats, you can try to absorb it from a Monster you are not leveling.
Remember that you only absorb passive abilities through Infusion, and it is not guaranteed, but you can obtain new passive abilities in the process.
If you open the Character Menu then the Monster Menu you can look at each of the ones you have, and you will notice that there are boxes on their screens that show you their stats and traits -- for example my Cait Sith (who I named Catty) and have raised to Level 15 is a Medic and has the attributes/stats Late Bloomer, Hexproof, and Calm. Her Passive Abilities give her Improved Cure, Resist Magic 15%, and Resist Curse 15% -- and I have outfitted her with the Aqua Ribbon Adornment because it looks cute on her...
I happen to have an Uridimmu Commando with the stats Well-Grown, Flameprone, and Vicious, and if I were to Infuse it with Catty there is a chance (not a guarantee) that she might receive a good ability from the process. Before you go hog-wild and start Infusing Monsters left and right you should be aware that there are some rules that apply to the process -- for example when you examine the Passive Abilities of the Monster you are considering Infusing and see that there are padlock symbols beside some of their Passive Abilities, this indicates that those abilities CANNOT be Infused. If there are no Passive Abilities (for example on a low-level Monster) Infusion is not going to help.
Adding passive abilities via Infusion
After that you must consider what abilities you are actually trying to pass on -- they need to be complimentary to the job of your Monster and ideally make it a better whatever it is -- so for instance boosting the ATB recharge or adding healing ability to a MED would be the way to go in that case, whereas you would want a completely different set of abilities for a SEN or COM... But before you get too deeply into focusing upon that, it should be pointed out that the Monsters you are going to be using now are very likely not the ones you will be using down the road... Your focus should be to build a decent set of Monsters with jobs that will help you now while you go about acquiring the Crystals and materials you will need for making the more permanent team you will be creating.
Bear in mind also that this guide is not an in-depth treatise on the care and training of Monsters -- it is in fact intended to help you get through the game with good success and cover most other subjects in general. There are some very good in-depth Monster guides to be had online when you are ready for advanced study on the subject.
You can eventually Infuse up to 10 Passive Abilities on a Monster, and if you take care to go after the ones that are particularly useful or helpful for your Monster, you can create an amazing team of Monsters to fight with -- but carelessness in the process of development almost always leads to mediocrity, so spend some time in study and SAVE before you start Infusing and leveling in case you make a mistake and need to back out!
The different stats/abilities are:
Balanced -- Balanced parameter growth
Brainy -- Learns many abilities
Early Peaker -- Reaches a maximum level of 20
Flameprone -- Weak against Fire
Flameproof -- Strong Fire resistance abilities
Fogproof -- Strong Fog resistance ofr learns Fog resistance abilities
Frostproof -- Strong Ice resistance or learn Ice resistance abilities
Hearty -- High HP growth
Hexproof -- Strong Curse resistance or learns Curse resistance abilities
Late Bloomer -- Reaches a maximum level of 70 to 99
Loyal -- Learns abilities that will be activated when allies are in danger
Magical -- High Magic growth
Manaproof -- Strong magic resistance or learns magic resistance abilities
Meleeproof -- Strong physical resistance or learns physical resistance abilities
Painproof -- Strong Pain resistance or learns Pain resistance abilities
Pinch Hitter -- Learns abilities that can be activated when in danger
Rare -- Difficult to encounter or recruit
Resourceful -- Learns abilities that improve post-battle rewards
Sparkprone -- Weak against Lightning
Stoic -- Has numerous resistances or learns many resistance-based abilities
Strong -- High Strength growth
Thunderproof -- Strong Lightning resistance or learns Lightning resistance abilities
Venomproof -- Strong poison resistance or learns Poison resistance abilities
Well-Grown -- Reaches a maximum level of 30 to 60
Wimpy -- Has multiple weaknesses
Windprone -- Weak against Wind
Windproof -- Strong Wind resistance or learns Wind resistance abilities
Zippy -- Speedy monster with abilities such as Auto-Haste or Critical: Haste
As you can see there are a number of good -- and bad -- stats/abilities that your Monster can have, and while there is a Rare one, just because a Monster is Rare does not necessarily mean that it is either desirable or that it will fit into your team dynamic... But still, Rare is generally good.
Once you have the team candidate your thoughts should be turning towards improving their effectiveness and that means leveling them -- but as you will quickly see, they do not level the same way as your other characters through CP, but rather through special items that you need to acquire either as loot or purchase from the Chocolina.
This can be a little complicated in that there are three types of Material that you will need to use, distinguished by Material Grade, Material Type, and Material Variety... These break down and apply in the game as follows:
Material Grade: this is related to the actual improved level of your Monster -- which you can tell by how many of the five yellow faces are lit on their individual screen. There are five cat-like faces, and when they are lit in yellow it indicates the improved level of that Monster. The more that are lit, the higher grade of material is required to improve and level them.
Material Type: this relates directly to the bonus stats granted for each node in the Crystarium that you unlock -- and include Vitality (HP), Power (Strength), Mana (Magic) or a special type called Potent that will raise all three. Which you raise has everything to do with what job the Monster has -- for instance if it is a COM or RAV, you will want to focus on Speed, and so on.
Material Variety: basically this just refers to the appropriate type of material, either mechanical for constructs or organic for creatures.
Generally speaking the higher the level of the Monsters you are battling, and the better you do, the more likely you are to obtain materials you can use and that you want. But the only way to do it is, generally speaking, to spend a fair amount of time farming -- an action you can combine with grinding CP to make it less painful! In fact the process of Monster Grinding is something that we should do a little of now, just to get our new friends some better abilities and levels so that they can help us better now!
Monster Grinding to improve your lot
-- A Little Monster Grinding --
Now that you have added Monsters to your party you may want to take a little time to run around in circles after the brief CS ahead and pick up a few dozen battles in order to gain more crystals and drops so you can diversify your Monster collection and upgrade the ones you decide you want to have active to get them a little closer to your own level capabilities -- after all going in with them in their current low-level state does not really help you as much as it will if they have more umph, and more capabilities...
Like before when you were learning the Mog Clock and practicing preemptive strikes, you can just run around to flag random battles and grab the items and experience you need right here, before you have your confrontation with Atlas.
The idea is to not only acquire a bunch of new Monster Crystals, but to level these new Monsters so that you can see what passive abilities that they gain, and then if they have one or more that you want to add to one of your team trio to then Infuse them to see if you can add that passive ability to your teammate. Obviously you should save before trying that in case you get a passive you do not want -- remember each Monster can only have a maximum of 10 Passive Abilities.
Considering that the area that you are in right now will drop an abundance of the quality of materials that are required for the lower form of leveling you should find this to be a very quick and easy process -- simply run around to spawn pickup battles, ace them, and collect the materials and crystals, then level the Monsters and see which have the abilities you want, then infuse them to see if you get them. If a leveled Monster does not have abilities you want, release it and get another of its Crystal type so you can try again.
-- Monsters, Paradigms, and You --
One of the things that adding Monsters to you party will impact is the Paradigms that you use, and you will notice that yours have changed now and, depending on whether or not you fill all three optional Monster Slots, additional ones will be available that you can add to or replace the ones in your party list with. Bear in mind that just because you obtain a Monster does not mean you will actually want to or need to use it -- each one has a job, and you want to select the Monsters that will compliment your current setup.
Obvious choices include Medic, Saboteur, and Ravager -- though do not overlook the benefits of adding a Sentinel to your party, since that can really help reduce damage, especially when you go with a SEN/SEN/SEN Paradigm! I am pretty flexible when it comes to my approach to combat -- I like to go with what works best for me -- and I like having a Medic handy because it can often make all the difference in the world -- assuming you are keeping your Monsters leveled with your characters that is...
My preferred Paradigm setup at this point is:
Tireless Charge (COM/COM/MED)
Relentless Assault (RAV/COM/RAV)
This works OK for pickup battles and adventuring, but when heading into a Boss Battle adding a Monster with SEN for solid damage reduction makes sense.