Zodiac Learning FAQ, ver. 1.0, 8 Nov 01

Errors in this?  Contact me at sugarlessdel@yahoo.com.

Introduction:
In Final Fantasy Tactics, which is a great game that I unfortunately 
didn't appreciate properly for far too long, there are several types of 
magic.  Most can be used by the Calculator character, which is good to 
know, because you're going to want one of these if you go much further 
in this FAQ.

One type that can not be used by the Calculator is Summoning Magic.  
This magic is slower than moss climbing uphill, uses up an inordinate 
amount of MP, and is among the most devestating of anything in the 
game.

Whether you like the use of summoning, or if you just have beaten FFT 
and need to go through again and burn out every single little secret, 
you will want to learn Zodiac, as it's the most powerful summon in the 
game.  Unfortunately, Zodiac (like Ultima) can only be learned by 
having a mean monster guy who's trying to kill you cast it on the 
person you want to learn it.  Even more unfortunately, the person you 
want to learn it will only learn it if he somehow manages not to become 
dead during the process.

The only monster in the game that will cast Zodiac is the Serpentarius 
Zodiac Monster on the bottom floor of the Deep Dungeon (End).  There 
are lots of FAQs on how to get to this encounter; go read one if you 
like.  I would highly recommend you try the fight at least once before 
continuing to read this FAQ; you might come up with a better strategy 
than me, and I would like to hear it if you do.

(By the way, the reason there are no recommendations for levels or 
things like that in this document is that if you can make it to the 
End level of the Deep Dungeon, you don't need me telling you how to 
get your fighters dressed.  You know how to kill monsters.  This FAQ
is not about killing monsters; it's about making them do your bidding by teaching you Summons.)

Strategies:
Commonly seen strategies for not getting killed by Zodiac can include 
boosting the bejeezus out of the Magic Defense of the character you 
want to learn the spell (henceforth, the "Student"), or using the MP 
Switch technique.  You have to do something -- Summoners tend to be 
pretty lame in the old HP department, and taking the full brunt of 
Zodiac is quite likely to kill them.  But I don't like either of those 
two strategies, because tweaking the numbers like Magic Defense gives 
stupid ol' me a headache, and because MP Switch takes forever to learn, 
unless your Summoner is also a master Time Mage.

I usually learn Zodiac as an afterthought; the Student is generally 
Cloud.  Who, it goes without saying, is not a master Time Mage.

Another effective technique, requiring a Mediator, is to talk the 
Student down to an abysmally low Faith, let him learn Zodiac, then talk 
it back up.  You may have that sort of time; I sure as heck don't.  Do 
this instead.

Eight major steps to easily and quickly learning the Zodiac summon:

1.  Skills known by party members should include: Battle Skill, Math 
Skill, and (if you like) Two Swords.  Two Swords will make things 
quicker.  I would personally bring at least two guys with Battle Skills 
(and if one's a ninja, then that adds a lot to his abilities here), and 
usually I like to make Orlandu a knight, because you don't want this 
fight to be fair, you want it to be completely lopsided and to 
manhandle your opponents.  You can play fair next fight.

2.  Defend all characters against the Poison Frog attack.  The 108 Gems 
accessory defends against both Poison and Frog, so it would be a good 
choice.  (If you haven't tried fighting Serpentarius, he uses three 
attacks- Poison Frog (which simply turns you into a poisoned frog), 
Zodiac, and Midgar Swarm.  The latter two are just summony magic.  He 
can attack physically, but he's a weakling, so he won't unless you make 
him.  Which you will.)

3.  Speed up the Math Skill character.  Note I do not say Calculator; 
Calculators are ungodly slow.  Make him either a Black Wizard (for 
higher MA figure) or do like I did and make him Ramza and a Squire.  He 
can Scream, he'll have a faith of at least 70... and you can give him 
the very effective Excalibur, lending him Haste and strengthening Holy.

4.  Start the fight by using some Math Skillage to cast Holy and wipe 
out all the opposing Apandas.  They will only get in the way.  First 
priority should be the ones closest to you, then work your way up using 
only the Math Skills.

5.  There should now be seven creatures left standing: the Byblos, the 
Serpentarius, and your party.  The Byblos, you might want to turn to 
stone or Speed Break him into a slow oblivion while Math Skills are 
doing their job; he has some mad attacks which can kill the 
Serpentarius before you're ready.

6.  Cast Innocent (Doubt Faith) on everyone.  At the very least, make 
sure you catch everyone who will go near Eldibs in step 7.

7.  Send up people with Battle Skill to Mind Break the Serpentarius 
until they stop getting Exp and JP for it.  (Obviously, the reason 
Ninjas are so useful for this is that you can drop his MA by as much as 
6 in a single strike.)  When that happens, it means he's down to an MA 
of 1.  Maintain Innocence on everyone until this happens.

8.  Allow Innocence to expire.  Corner the Serpentarius (which isn't 
really that hard, if you're using two Knight/Ninjas and your Summoner).  
Don't feel a need to Speed Break him; he'll get around to casting 
Zodiac shortly and you'll get a chance to learn it.  Note that if he 
does cast Zodiac while the Student is innocent (and therefore takes 
zero damage), the Student won't learn it.  He's actually going to need 
to lose some HP to make it happen.

Miscellaneous: 
Remember that there is no shame in casting Cure 3 on everyone if he 
does some damage by physical attacks or he casts Midgar Swarm too many 
times or anything like that.  You may heal the Serpentarius.  It 
doesn't matter.  Without his magic, outnumbered five to one, you can 
take him, I promise.

Also note that if you have room in your party after this battle, and 
you haven't sent the Byblos to the great beyond, he will join your 
party for good.  Better than a Black Chocobo!

Props:
Heavy thankfulness to Fritz Fraundorf and the GIA (erggibbon@aol.com 
and www.thegia.com, if you will) for writing a stupefyingly good FAQ 
and raving madly about the game so long that I was forced to continue 
giving it another shot until I finally learned how to play.  Massive 
thankfulness to Square for publishing such a gem of a game and forcing 
people around the world to dig through the most horrible piece of crap 
transation since Zero Wing to find it.  Way to go, guys!

Nonsense:
This document is copyrighted 2001 by me, Del Greer.  If you want to 
violently infringe upon my rights under US law, just know that I will 
probably never find out about it.  If you do copy this to another site 
for some reason, I promise I won't mind if you maintain the document 
(including this paragraph) in its entirety.  If you somehow derive some 
profit from this document (i.e., by publishing it, putting it on a CD, 
or whatever), just know that I will be shocked, and if you don't tell 
me before you do it, I'll sue ya if I find out about it, because you 
will be flagrantly breaking the law.  If you profit in the form of 
winning a bunch of money because you made a bet with a friend ("See?!  
I told you I could learn Zodiac in 8 easy steps!"), you should know 
that you and your freinds are tremendous nerds and you should probably 
go out to a bar or a ball game or something.  Get a life, man!

I would be grateful if you e-mailed me if you posted this on another 
website or otherwise published it; I would then forward you any 
corrections or further editions that came into existence.  Free.  Using 
all recycled electrons.  See if you can get a better deal than that!

More thanks:
Thank you for reading my very first gamefaq!!