-- Final Fantasy X (US) Gang of Thieves Guide --
-- by Mike Malone (christopher.malone2@gte.net) --
-- Copyright 2002.  All rights reserved.
-- Version 1.0, 11/05/02 --

LEGAL DISCLAIMER: This guide is for personal use only.  Please do not
post this guide on the Web or elsewhere without getting permission 
(via e-mail) from me.  If permission is granted, the guide must be posted as is 
without modifications or changes to the basic text formatting.

-- Table of Contents --

   I. Version History
  II. Introduction to Gang of Thieves Party Concept
 III. Intended Audience
  IV. Character Design
   V. Milestones
  VI. Combat Tactics
 VII. Equipment
VIII. Caveats and Contact Info
  IX. Thanks and Credits

-- I. Version History --

v1.0 04/09/02: Completed initial version.
v0.2 03/19/02: Substantial revisions and additions.
v0.1 03/05/02: Initial draft.


-- II. Introduction to "Gang of Thieves" Party Concept

This document describes an overarching strategy for playing the game Final 
Fantasy X (FFX), a strategy that is affectionately called the "Gang of Thieves."  
Playing a Gang of Thieves party in FFX focuses on building characters who rely 
heavily on the Steal, Mug, and Bribe skills, with the ultimate goal of advancing 
to high-end play involving the Omega Ruins and the Monster Arena (and the ripe 
opportunities for pillaging that these areas provide).  

By concentrating on skullduggery instead of just forming a general purpose 
party, you increase your ability to acquire rapidly the better items which, in 
turn, improves your chances against the more powerful foes in the final areas of 
the game and in the Monster Arena (thus allowing you to find or pilfer even 
better items, etc. etc.).  Plus, using Steal and Bribe is fun!

Note that while much of the advice in this guide might be viewed as 
"powergaming," part of the fun of the Gang of Thieves is the role-playing.  One 
of the charms of FFX and the Sphere Grid system is varying the characters' 
development based on your own concept of their personalities, and watching those 
individuals meld in combat into a tightly knit team.  Creating a Gang of Thieves 
party is meant to promote this kind of play, not stifle it.  To paraphrase a 
dialogue between Auron and Tidus: this is advice, not a lecture. 

There are four topics of interest when developing a Gang of Thieves: character 
design; game play goals and milestones; combat tactics; and equipment.  Each of 
these topics will appear in its own section below.  First, however, a few more 
introductory comments...


-- III. Intended Audience --

This guide targets the "advanced" FFX player.  In general, that is someone who 
knows what terms like "Preemptive Strike" and "Celestial Weapon" mean without 
having to be told by this document.  

Another assumption the guide makes is that you have played the game (or most of 
the game) through once and are thinking of playing it through again from the 
beginning in order to build a Gang of Thieves from scratch.  Mind you, this is 
just a recommendation, not a firm prerequisite.  Playing the game through once 
before attempting to organize a Gang of Thieves will provide you with a broad 
range of intuitions about the various character designs, tactics, and story 
milestones outlined below.  Of course, if you decide to start over but want to 
take advantage of a saved game from early in the story rather than replaying all 
the introductory episodes then by all means do so. 

Finally, being an advanced guide, this document necessarily contains spoilers.  
On the other hand, this is largely high-level, conceptual information; for 
specifics about the Sphere Grid, what items are available to be stolen or bribed 
from various fiends, finding and customizing high-end equipment, etc., there are 
already excellent and detailed FAQ's available, and this document makes no 
effort to replicate that information except in passing.  (In fact, the document 
assumes you either have access to these FAQ's or otherwise know how to find this 
information, which is perhaps another indicator that you are an "advanced" 
player.)

-- IV.  Character Design

A thief is someone who steals, and in FFX, the most common way to steal 
something is (oddly enough) to use the Steal skill.  So to have a Gang of 
Thieves you will need several characters with the Steal skill (if you only had 
one character who can Steal, it wouldn't be much of a "gang," would it?).  Three 
to four characters with Steal (known from here on out as "Thieves") is about the 
right number to form the core membership of a Gang of Thieves.  

However, theft alone will not allow a party to survive long in Spira.  There are 
actually five major roles for characters in the Gang of Thieves concept (roles 
which of course appear in general game play as well); this document calls the 
roles Thief, Tank, Enforcer, Mastermind, and Medic.  Carefully assigning roles 
to each character is a big part of a successful thieving career.  A given 
character will usually have two or three or, sometimes, four or more roles.  
During the initial phases of the game (up to, say, the point where you reach the 
Calm Lands), focusing on just a couple of roles per character, and having good 
coverage in your party for all five roles, is crucial to your ability to advance 
rapidly through the game.  After that, it becomes possible to diversify as your 
characters become more competent and better equipped.


 1.  Roles

This section describes each role and provides information about what characters 
are best suited to that role, what abilities go with the role, and what are the 
other roles this role combines well with.

A.  Thief

A Thief is a character who will be a primary user of the Steal skill.  Rikku, 
Tidus, and Kimahri all make excellent Thieves.  Yuna, Wakka, and Lulu can also 
be assigned this role.  Auron starts too far away from the Steal ability on the 
Sphere Grid, and is too useful in other roles, to be well-suited for life as a 
Thief (although anything is possible).

Steal, and possibly Mug, are the definitive Thief skills.  In addition to these, 
another ability useful for Thieves is Luck, which can increase your chances of 
stealing items.  You will also want to give at least one of your Thieves the 
Bribe skill (see "Master Thief" below).

The primary characteristic of the Thief is Agility.  You want your Thieves to 
act early and often.  Good Defense, Evasion, Magic Defense, and HP's are also 
desirable.  Because Thieves are busy stealing or using support skills like Luck, 
they need to be able to absorb a bit of damage; otherwise, you will spend 
valuable time swapping in Medics for healing.  Fortunately, Rikku's area of the 
Sphere Grid contains a nice cluster of HP nodes right by the Steal skill; this 
goes a long way towards keeping your Thieves from being too frail.  

To build a Thief, you will need to get that character over to Rikku's part of 
the Sphere Grid ASAP.  Unfortunately, there are Level 1 locks and an annoying 
path of dead space in the Sphere Grid between the large central area (where 
Tidus, Kimahri, Wakka, and Lulu start), and the Steal skill.  Nevertheless, it 
is possible to get Kimahri, Tidus, Wakka, and/or Lulu over to Rikku's region by 
about the time you are approaching the ill-fated Mi'ihen Operation (see "Game 
Play Goals and Milestones"); so even before you get Rikku it is quite feasible 
to have a Thief or two in the party and get a head start on a life of crime!

For anyone other than Rikku, becoming a Thief may put a dent in the character's 
early development; thus it is usually your Thieves who will benefit most from 
the judicious use of Return, Friend, and Teleport Spheres.  These spheres will 
let them resume training on a path they had to abandon or allow them to skip 
across the Sphere Grid to some useful area already explored by another 
character.  Thoughtful use of these valuable spheres is crucial for developing 
Thieves who are also masters of one or more of the other roles.

The Thief role combines well with Mastermind and Medic.  With a little patience, 
clever Sphere Grid management, and good equipment, a Thief/Enforcer is also 
possible (and rewarding).  However, being a Thief does not combine well with the 
Tank role (see "Tank" below).  

a.  Master Thief

Eventually, you will need to develop one of your characters into a "Master 
Thief."  Rikku is the obvious choice for Master Thief, but Tidus or Kimahri can 
also serve well in that role.  There are two characteristics of Master Thieves: 
they have high Luck; and they have the Bribe ability.  Luck affects the 
likelihood of stealing items, so as your thieving career matures you will want 
to take advangate of your Master Thief's high Luck by giving him or her the most 
opportunities to use Steal.  Luck Spheres can be found throughout the game, and 
Fortune Spheres as well (although less frequently), and using at least some of 
these on the Sphere Grid to boost your Master Thief's Luck stat is a reasonable 
investment in your larcenous career.  If you feel a little uncertain about this 
application of your limited Luck and Fortune Spheres, then plan to develop your 
Master Thief as an Enforcer also, so that you also take advantage of the 
increase in critical hits that having high Luck will provide.

Does Luck affect your success rate in using Bribe?  Frankly, I'm not sure that 
it does.  But to be on the safe side, give Bribe to your Master Thief; then 
you'll be doing your bribing with the character who has the highest Luck.  


B.  Tank

It can take several rounds of combat to pick clean the pockets of any fiends you 
happen to encounter.  During this time, you will use your support roles of Tank, 
Mastermind, and Medic to keep your Thieves alive and happy.  Of these, the Tank 
is a character who is designed to protect your Thieves by taking damage onto 
him- or herself.  The primary skills of the Tank are Guard, Sentinel, and 
Provoke.  Auron is the definitive tank; Tidus, Wakka, and Kimahri can also serve 
well in this role.  Also, if you anticipate some high-powered incoming attack, 
Yuna's Aeons provide awesome tank action, and can survive even massive blows if 
they use their special Shield command.

Clearly, Tanks need high HP's and high Defense.  High Magic Defense and Evasion 
are also nice, but the parts of the Sphere Grid that are good for Tanks in 
general are not always so good for Magic Defense and Evasion.  You will need to 
decide how to prioritize the development of these stats.

Tank combines well with Enforcer and, to a slightly lesser extent, with Medic or 
Mastermind.  In general, it's harder to have a Thief/Tank, because usually you 
will want your Tank to be using Guard/Sentinel or some such, which prevents them 
from using the Steal skill.

You will want to have one or two Tanks in your party, including one whom you 
plan to develop and equip as your "Uber-Tank" (see below).


a.  Uber-Tank

Once your gladiator activities in the Omega Ruins and Monster Arena begin in 
earnest, you should designate at least one of your Tanks as the Uber-Tank.  The 
role of Uber-Tank is more a matter of equipment than development, although you 
will definitely want to concentrate on having high Defense and HP's for this 
character.  See "Equipping the Uber-Tank" further below for more on this.


C.  Enforcer

The role of the Enforcer is twofold: to protect the party by incapacitating or 
dispatching fiends who have been picked over, and to deliver KO blows to end the 
combat.  Again, Auron is a superb Enforcer.  All the other characters can also 
be good Enforcers, given time and careful Sphere Grid routing.  In particular, 
Tidus, Wakka, and Kimahri can progress rapidly as Enforcers by focusing their 
development on the combat-related parts of the Sphere Grid (in general, the area 
from about 10 o'clock to 3 o'clock, viewing the grid as a clock face).  Lulu 
makes an outstanding Enforcer if you concentrate on developing her magic skills 
to the exclusion of other roles, and Yuna can be a good quasi-Enforcer through 
the judicious use of Aeons as well as magic.  Rikku is probably the hardest to 
develop into an Enforcer, but even she can master that role if she is heavily 
trained in Black Magic or is propelled across the Sphere Grid to one of the 
areas that emphasizes physical attacks.   (With her high Agility, she can in 
fact become a deadly Enforcer in the endgame if equipped with her Celestial 
Weapon.)

The best Enforcer will have two characteristics.  First off, he or she will be a 
character who has concentrated on this role for most of their career, so that 
their primary statistic for determining damage inflicted (either Strength or 
Magic) is steadily increasing over time.  That is why having a Thief/Enforcer 
takes a little extra effort; except for Rikku, becoming a Thief usually requires 
a significant detour in a character's early development, making it harder to 
develop their full potential as an Enforcer without a little catch-up later on.  
The second characteristic of a good Enforcer is the possession of a weapon with 
the Break Damage Limit auto-ability.  This only applies to the final phases of 
the game, but at that point it becomes crucial, so you may want to plan ahead 
and concentrate on developing characters as Enforcers whom you plan on being 
able to provide with this all-important auto-ability.  See the "Equipment" 
section (and, specifically, "Celestial Weapons") for more on this.

As mentioned, the primary stat of an Enforcer is either Strength or Magic, 
depending on their preferred offense.  Good HP's are, as usual, desirable, as 
are high MP's (so that your most punishing abilities can be applied repeatedly 
without worrying about running out of fuel).  High Agility is nice, although 
less essential than for Thieves. 

For physical attackers, useful Enforcer skills are Quick Hit, Delay 
Attack/Buster, the various Break skills, and (for easy take-out combos with 
Life) Zombie Attack.  Status effects on your weapons like Stonestrike or 
Deathstrike can also be a major boon, and can turn a weak but quick character 
like Rikku or Yuna into a great "special tactics" Enforcer.  

For magical assaults, the various -aga elemental attacks, Flare, Demi, Holy, and 
Doublecast are obvious choices.  Bio is also useful, but requires some care, 
lest some fiend die of poison before you have had a chance to pick them clean of 
valuable loot.  Ultima is of course a great multi-target take-out but it usually 
isn't available until much later and for most of the game Flare plus Doublecast 
can be used for similar effects.

The Enforcer role can be combined very effectively with Tank, Mastermind, and 
Medic.  Having a Thief who is an Enforcer is also possible, but as discussed 
above, they tend to have somewhat less firepower than a more focused Enforcer.  
Nevertheless, despite the extra effort to develop and outfit one, having a 
Thief/Enforcer can definitely streamline your combat tactics by permitting 
heavy-hitting Mug assaults and by allowing a smooth transition from the 
"thieving" phase to the "mop-up" phase (see "Combat Tactics" for more on these 
phases).

You should plan to have two or more Enforcers in your party.  As few as two can 
handle the action for much of the game's progress, but eventually you will want 
three or more so that your entire frontline can be filled with characters 
capable of inflicting heavy damage.  Also, keep in mind that the game's plot 
sometimes requires you to use specific characters; for example, for any 
underwater situations you will always be forced to use Tidus, Rikku, and Wakka.  
Therefore, developing at least one of those characters as an Enforcer can be 
very helpful for these special circumstances.

D.  Mastermind

Anyone can pick a pocket or whack a fiend; the job of the Mastermind is to bring 
it all together so that your party can steal as much as possible with the 
minimum expenditure of time and resources.  To that end, a Mastermind is a 
character who controls the pace and conduct of an encounter by using skills like 
Haste/Hastega, Slow/Slowga, the Silence/Sleep/Dark/Delay skills, Threaten, and 
Provoke.  The point of all these skills is to keep a fiend alive while hindering 
or preventing them from attacking.  Thus, they can be safely ignored while you 
turn your attentions elsewhere, and then re-targeted for thieving activity when 
you are ready.  Masterminds can also use skills like Scan, Luck, Jinx, Dispel, 
Reflect, and Reflex to protect and support their Thieves.  

Having two or more accomplished Masterminds and knowing when and how to apply 
their abilities is at the heart of managing a successful Gang of Thieves.  Tidus 
and Wakka are the obvious choices for a Mastermind if you follow the default 
paths on the Sphere Grid; in fact, the three most potent tools in the  
Mastermind's toolkit--Hastega, Slowga, and Delay Buster--are all on Tidus's 
track.  However, any of the characters can develop a sideline as a Mastermind 
with a little planning.  

The most valuable statistics to develop for your Masterminds are Agility and MP.  
Of lesser priority, but still important, are the defensive attributes (HP's, 
Defense, Magic Defense, and Evasion).
 
Mastermind combines well with all the other roles, particularly Medic. 


E.  Medic

The Medic's job is clear: heal damage; revive KO'd characters; remove status 
ailments; and proactively apply protective measures like the Nul spells and 
Shell, Protect, Reflect, Auto-Life, Regen, and Reflex.

Unless you do something very unusual, Yuna will almost always have Medic as one 
of her roles.  In fact, during the early part of the game, you can get by with 
her serving as your only Medic.  But as the game progresses, the more characters 
you have with essential Medic skills like Life and Esuna the better.  Tidus, 
Kimahri, and Rikku have starting positions that make it fairly straightforward 
for them to move over into Yuna's part of the grid, but any character can be 
chosen for some Medic training and having someone hearty like Auron be able to 
cast Esuna or Life can be very advantageous.  The Life spell, in particular, is 
easy to pick up even for a dedicated Enforcer, Mastermind, or Tank, as it lies 
near the backdoor between Tidus's area and Yuna's.  This means that an attack-
oriented character meandering through Tidus's region can readily pick up Life 
along the way.  As your characters mature, almost every character is likely to 
take on some aspects of the Medic (if nothing else, by being able to administer 
to their own needs by the use of moves like Drain).  

Your Medics should have as many HP's and MP's as possible; that way, you don't 
need to worry about them dying or needing to take an Ether or Osmose break in 
the middle of a tough combat.  To that end, using HP and MP Spheres you find 
during the game to boost your Medics is a good investment; the areas around 
Life, Curaga, Holy, or Auto-Life are nice spots for these customizations to the 
Sphere Grid. Agility--so that the Medic can act more often--is also a high 
priority. The other defense-oriented stats are helpful as well (for the same 
reason that HP's are important).
 
One thing to keep in mind is that the Use ability makes anyone into a low-end 
Medic by virtue of the ever popular Al Bhed Potion.  When you are moving Thieves 
next to the Steal node but have no plans on moving further left, consider 
whether spending a couple of extra SL's to get Use might provide your gang with 
more flexibility.


2.  Characters

This section describes all the characters and offers advice about what roles 
they are suited for and what trajectories through the Sphere Grid support those 
roles.

A.  Tidus

Tidus begins in the center of the Sphere Grid and given a little time has 
relatively easy access to almost every other area.  This gives him enormous 
flexibility, but it also means you need to plan carefully what roles you want to 
use him in and how best to maneuver him through the Sphere Grid.  His default 
path (that is, the path that goes on for quite some distance without requiring 
locks to be unlocked) will make him an Enforcer/Tank/Mastermind, and as he ends 
up in Yuna's territory he will eventually acquire some skills as a Medic as 
well. However, because of his good Agility (as well as the role-playing value) 
it is certainly worth considering putting him in the Thief role instead, which 
will involve an altogether different route towards the lower region of the 
Sphere Grid, requiring three Level 1 Key Spheres.  But even if you decide to 
make him a Thief, it is probably worth traversing a small part of his area to 
get the Haste spell and possibly the Delay Attack skill, and then backtracking.

It also works well to have Tidus move past Kimahri's starting point into Wakka's 
area and pursue that variant of the Mastermind/Enforcer career (which, when 
combined with Wakka's own abilities, gives your party a nice "control panel" 
that is particularly effective during the early to middle part of the game).

B.  Yuna

Our Lady Summoner begins in the "medical school" portion of the Sphere Grid, and 
unless you have her sit next to the first Level 2 lock and veer off into Tidus's 
area of the grid once it is opened, she is pretty much destined to be a well-
trained Medic.  Once you move a little further and reach the next Level 2 lock 
near the Life spell, however, you have several choices.  First off, you can of 
course continue her default career which emphasizes Medic-related skills to the 
exclusion of everything else (until the very end of her natural path when she 
gets Holy).  This is perfectly viable because her Aeons give her a default 
capacity as a special-ops Enforcer/Tank. 

Another tactic is to wait on the Level 2 lock near the Life ability, and move up 
into Tidus's area of the grid with the goal of making Yuna into a Mastermind by 
acquiring Delay Buster, Hastega, and Slowga.  (Even if you do this you will 
probably want to continue past the lock to Pray or beyond and then engage in 
some modest backtracking.)   Once you have these crucial Mastermind skills, you 
can resume her Medic training, either by backtracking to her own default path or 
(depending on what Kimahri and Rikku have been up to) by using a Friend or 
Teleport Sphere to jump further down to the key Medic skills of Curaga and 
Regen.

You can also continue this excursion into Tidus's area in order to make Yuna 
into a Warrior Monk (i.e., an Enforcer) by continuing along the upper half of 
the grid towards the right, thus basically progressing backwards through most of 
Tidus's default path.  Although this sounds a little odd, it works because 
Yuna's Celestial Weapon (with its Break Damage Limit auto-ability) is perhaps 
the easiest to acquire of the Celestial Weapons.  With Enforcer training and her 
innate high Agility, Yuna can be a deadly combatant, inflicting punishing blows 
with her staff and then summoning Aeons for additional firepower or Tank action.


C.  Wakka

The default path for Wakka emphasizes the Enforcer and Mastermind roles.  
Following this path makes Wakka into an excellent Enforcer with a decent choice 
of Mastermind abilities, and the fact that he has a built-in ranged attack makes 
this a highly desirable option.  Unfortunately, the path also positions him far 
far away from the Rikku area, making it hard to give Wakka a Thief role as well 
unless you take strong measures like using Friend or Teleport Spheres.

This implies that if you want to make Wakka into a Thief, you should not stray 
too far into his default area (but do go far enough to get Silence Attack 
certainly, and maybe Sleep Attack), so that when Level 1 Key Spheres become 
available you can backtrack him to the lock right near his starting position and 
move through that into Kimahri's area and then into Rikku's.  This requires some 
patience but is a good way to build a Thief/Mastermind/Enforcer.  After Wakka 
has Steal and has spent a little time in Rikku's area, you can always pop him 
back to his area with a Return Sphere (these become plentiful in the last third 
of the game) and have him resume his regular growth path, which is a fertile and 
well-rounded one.


D.  Lulu

If you follow Lulu's default course of development, you will end up with a 
powerful Enforcer who for most of the game will provide what is arguably your 
most significant and versatile on-demand firepower (apart from Aeons).  But 
don't assume that the best way to achieve the goal of Lulu as Queen Enforcer is 
actually the default path.  If you want her in full Enforcer mode, consider 
taking the shortcut through Wakka's area that requires two Level 1 Key Spheres 
(to get into Kimahri's and then Wakka's realms) and then a Level 2 Key Sphere 
(to get back into the second half of Lulu's area just upwards from the Demi 
spell). See the "Spherimorph" milestone further below.

However, despite this useful shortcut there are several alternatives that might 
make you want to have Lulu veer away from this pure Enforcer path.  One is to 
develop Lulu into a Thief.  Although she is not an obvious choice for this role, 
she begins close to Rikku's area of the Sphere Grid, and there is a certain 
delicious role-playing value to be had from watching her scurry around picking 
pockets in her elegant Gothic apparel.  There are two options for developing 
Lulu as a Thief.  One is to build up her Magic skills and then pop her over to 
Rikku's area later on when Friend or Teleport Spheres become available.  The 
other option is to skimp on Magic development initially and make her into a 
Thief as soon as you can unlock the three Level 1 locks she will need to pass to 
get to the Steal skill.  In the latter case, her magical attacks will definitely 
suffer at first, but that is not much of a liability in the initial part of the 
game.  Eventually she can migrate either back to her own area or up into Yuna's; 
in either case, significant boosts to the Magic statistic and skills like Flare 
or Holy will position her as a heavy duty Enforcer (as well as giving her some 
good Medic capability if you go the Yuna route).

Another Lulu variant for a Gang of Thieves is to develop her as a Mastermind by 
moving her into Wakka's area of the grid fairly early on.  She can follow the 
initial part of that course and either stop on Drain (which then becomes a good 
default attack as it does non-elemental damage) or move a little further and do 
some modest backtracking.  Alternately, she can proceed all the way to Osmose 
with the intent of using a Return Sphere to get back to the lock next to Drain.  
In either case, once a Level 3 Key Sphere becomes available she can open the 
lock between Drain and Flare, quickly nab Flare, which can become her standard 
heavy weapon, and then proceed through the final regions of her own area to 
improve her Magic and get Doublecast.   This Mastermind/Enforcer career has the 
additional benefit of providing ample opportunity to watch Lulu's attack 
animations (which I personally find extremely amusing although I suspect that 
not everyone agrees with me).    

Finally, it can be very useful to make Lulu into a Medic to take advantage of 
her high Magic and MP's.  This could conceivably be done early on by skimping on 
elemental attacks and wandering through Tidus's area to Yuna's, but it is 
probably preferable to use a Friend or Teleport Sphere or to walk there directly 
from the "side door" near the Use ability (after making her into a Thief). 

E.  Kimahri

Like Tidus, Kimahri is centrally located, and can thus be evolved into almost 
any role you care to see him in.  He makes an obvious Thief, however, for one 
simple reason: he has the easiest route (apart from Rikku) to the Steal skill, 
and can easily get there some time ahead of the point where Rikku joins the 
party.  This initially requires some patience, because you will have to use two 
Level 1 Key Spheres to unlock the rather dreary little path that connects his 
area of the grid with Rikku's.  But by the time you reach the Mushroom Rock Road 
you should have enough Level 1 Key Spheres to make this happen.

The value of this tactic is that not only do you make Kimahri into a Thief, you 
position him to become a Thief/Medic/Enforcer by having him move into the final 
part of Yuna's area when you are able to open the Level 2 lock next to the Use 
ability.  He can then get Curaga, Regen, and Holy far sooner than Yuna would in 
general be able to acquire them, thus making him very powerful on his own and 
opening up opportunities for the clever use of Friend and Teleport Spheres.

A variant of this strategy is to make Kimahri your Master Thief instead of 
veering off into Yuna's territory.  This provides him with a steady lock-free 
growth path for some time once he has broken into Rikku's area. 

And, of course, you needn't make Kimahri a Thief at all, but can have him move 
up or to the right for a job as an Enforcer, Tank, and/or Mastermind (but see 
"Birani and Yenke Ronso" under "Game Play Goals and Milestones").   If you do 
this, it is best to give up on having him become a Thief (until, perhaps, very 
late in the game).  Trying to make him into a Thief who is also a physical-
attack-oriented Enforcer runs the risk of spreading his talents too thin.  
Kimahri as a Thief/Enforcer may not have the Strength required to serve well as 
an Enforcer during the endgame. 


F.  Auron

Can you say "Enforcer/Tank?"  I thought you could.

Really, Auron has little choice about his career early on, as the only alternate 
path near his starting point is blocked by not one but two Level 2 locks.  
Moreover, even if you wait on these locks, you only end up in Wakka's area, and 
delaying Auron's early development to take that route is questionable at best.  
So the Sphere Grid basically forces you to move Auron through a good chunk of 
his own area, and the end result is a solid foundation of Enforcer/Tank skills. 

After that, you can continue that career or wander off into various 
Enforcer/Mastermind-oriented areas in Wakka's or Tidus's domains.  But unless 
you do something very dramatic, it is hard to make Auron into a Thief, and it 
also takes some patience to fold in some Medic abilities.  In short, Auron has 
the least flexibility of any of the characters.  That's o.k., though, as he is 
very good at what he does.


G.  Rikku

Born to steal, Rikku will almost certainly be a primary Thief in your gang.  The 
question is what other roles to assign her.  She is a clear candidate for Master 
Thief, and it is not that difficult to get her into any other role you can 
imagine.  So plan ahead and choose something that complements your other 
characters' builds.  I personally like her as a tactical Black Mage 
Thief/Mastermind/Enforcer created by combining key segments of her own, Lulu's, 
and Wakka's areas.


3.  Sample Gang of Thieves Party

Here is a quick rundown of a well-balanced party that does not require too much 
waiting for locks to open (some, but not too much).  This includes a brief 
description of the characters' paths through the Sphere Grid.  In general, 
Wakka, Auron, Rikku, and (optionally) Lulu will use the regular paths through 
the Sphere Grid and will thus not require any locks to be opened for some time.  
This means that Wakka (and, once you get to Luca) Auron will progress steadily 
in their roles as Enforcers, giving you the necessary firepower to handle most 
any situation.  Tidus, Yuna, Kimahri and (optionally) Lulu will chart custom 
routes through the grid, which means they will probably have to wait at certain 
points for locks to be opened.  But by the time you reach Djose Temple you 
should have everyone (except maybe Lulu) progressing smoothly along their 
various careers.

Titus -- Thief/Mastermind/Enforcer/Tank: Have Titus move along his default path 
as far as Delay Attack (or so--use your judgment if you have other ideas); then 
backtrack, traverse Kimahri's area, and go get Steal; maneuver further in 
Rikku's area to develop HP's etc., then use a Return Sphere or Friend Sphere 
(you will probably have one by now) to move to one of the Enforcer/Tank-oriented 
areas and resume development along those lines.

Yuna -- Medic/Mastermind/Thief: Move Yuna about as far as Cura on her default 
track (your mileage may vary here) then backtrack to the Level 2 lock near Life 
and move past it (once it is unlocked) to get Hastega and Slowga; then maneuver 
(preferably by jumping with a Friend or Teleport Sphere) to the Steal area; 
finally, resume Medic development in the Curaga/Regen/Holy area of Yuna's region 
by moving through the Level 2 lock next to Use.

Wakka -- Enforcer/Mastermind/Tank: Just use Wakka's default path and then switch 
over to Auron's towards the end (usually via the Level 2 lock that appears after 
you have the Buster skills but before you get Triple Foul).

Lulu -- Enforcer/Medic: Either use her default path or use the aforementioned 
shortcut through the Level 2 lock in Wakka's area; continue all the way to 
Flare; backtrack to get Doublecast (optional, depending on where you stand with 
Level 4 Key Spheres); now jump into Yuna's area for Medic development.

Kimahri -- Thief/Medic/Enforcer/Mastermind: The route I'm about to describe 
requires some patience, but it definitely pays off.  After some limited 
maneuvering in his own area, have Kimahri wait on the Level 1 locks leading to 
Rikku's area.  Once these can be opened, go get Steal and some HP's.  Now, wait 
again on the Level 2 lock into Yuna's area (next to Use).  Once you open that 
lock, have Kimahri complete the final bit of Yuna's path (through Curaga, Regen, 
and Holy).  If you apply yourself you can finish this before the fight with 
Biran and Yenke, making that combat very simple indeed (Regen sets you up for 
multiple Steal attempts; then use Holy to finish them off).  Now jump (via a 
Friend or Teleport Sphere) into Tidus's realm to get Hastega etc. and then 
meander back into Yuna's realm for Life and the other support White Magic 
skills. 

Auron -- Enforcer/Tank/Mastermind: Simply use Auron's default path all the way 
past Zombie Attack (which you can take or not as you choose) to Sentinel.  Then 
continue development in either Tidus's or Wakka's region.

Rikku -- Master Thief/Enforcer -- Develop Rikku all the way to Bribe; then move 
into Lulu's area for Black Magic Enforcer training.  Be sure to get Demi, Death, 
and Bio; these are great support spells that don't require the Magic stat to be 
as highly developed to be effective.


-- V. Game Play Goals and Milestones

This section outlines general goals to keep in mind when developing your Gang of 
Thieves, followed by specific milestones in the story's plot where important 
items (usually spheres) can be acquired or when other possibilities open up.


1.  Overall Goals

This section describes some basic guidelines for playing the game.  Most of this 
advice applies regardless of whether you are playing a Gang of Thieves or not, 
but I felt it was worth reiterating anyway.

A.  Involve Everybody

In general, try to make sure everyone acts at least once during every encounter 
so that they get AP for that encounter.  This is a general principle of FFX 
character development, but is even more true when playing a Gang of Thieves, 
because you are trying to develop your characters to serve well in multiple 
roles.  Fortunately, one of the advantages of playing a Gang of Thieves style 
game is that it is much easier to involve everyone.  Your Thieves can always 
attempt to Steal, or use Luck to set up an encounter for optimal thievery.  Your 
Tanks can be using Guard or Sentinel.  Your Medic can Pray.  You Mastermind can 
be incapacitating the foe or boosting other members of the party.  And your 
Enforcers can be dispatching enemies who have been looted.

With a little practice, patterns will evolve and it will become second nature to 
conduct an optimal sequence of set up moves, Steal attempts, and support 
activities that keeps everybody well-occupied.  See "Combat Tactics" for other 
tips relevant to the conduct of battle.

B.  Overkill

You should have the goal of killing every creature with an Overkill, and 
certainly every Boss.  Overkill increases your AP and gives you extra loot, 
which is of paramount importance for getting good spheres as early as possible 
(e.g., an encounter that normally gives you one Return Sphere will give you two 
if you manage to pull off an Overkill).  

Overdrives are the key to ensuring Overkill, in particular Aeon Overdrives.  
Manage your Aeons shrewdly so that you can always have the satisfying (and 
potentially lucrative) experience of watching some big Boss fall to Hellfire, 
Mega-Flare, or Oblivion.

C.  Minimize Expenditures

Eventually you will get Bribe, and at that point, you will never have enough Gil 
again.  So, start counting your pennies from the get-go.  Usually this isn't 
hard, because most of the equipment offered by vendors during the initial parts 
of the game is kind of lame (for lack of a better word), and you will probably 
find better from chests and monster drops.  But sometimes you will be tempted to 
buy.  Think carefully about the value of any purchase over a couple thousand 
Gil.  If it will noticeably reduce the time or resources you require to conduct 
a full thieving assault, then go ahead and buy it. Otherwise, it might be best 
to save your money for later.  (Good examples of useful equipment to get early 
on are Slowtouch/Slowstrike, Firststrike, or Initiative equipment.  
Counterattack, on the other hand, may not always be such a good idea because you 
can lose control over who gets killed when and thus lose out on thieving 
opportunities.) 

D.  Save Before Using the Sphere Grid

This is good advice in general, but when you are spending a lot of time 
carefully crafting a Gang of Thieves it becomes even more important not to make 
any mistakes on the Sphere Grid.  Without exception, save the game right before 
you use the Sphere Grid.  Personally, I have a spot set aside specifically for 
saving immediately before using the grid, and I also keep a history of the major 
milestones so I can go back to earlier parts of the game (if that proves 
necessary).  Also, be sure to access the Save Point after using the grid so that 
you automatically heal up if you've gained additional HP or MP (you don't need 
to save to get this healing effect; just enter the menu). 

2.  Milestones

This section describes significant milestones in the development of your Gang of 
Thieves.

A.  Mi'ihen High Road

You can get two Level 1 Key Spheres for "free" on the Mi'ihen High Road (one 
from a random person walking by--so be sure to talk to everyone--and the other 
when you prepare to leave Rin's Travel Agency).  Also, if you can dispatch the 
Chocobo Eater by pushing it off the cliff, you will get two more Level 1 Key 
Spheres.  These spheres can be used immediately either to move Kimahri into 
Rikku's area and/or to have Tidus, Wakka, or Lulu begin moving in that 
direction.

B.  Mi'ihen Operation Boss

The big Boss you fight (twice) during the operation against Sin will give more 
Level 1 spheres.  Be sure to Overkill (both times!) using an Aeon.  At this 
point, you should have more than enough Level 1 Key Spheres to have cleared a 
path for all the characters you have earmarked for thieving careers. 

C.  After Djose Temple

You will find even more Level 1 Key Spheres alongside the road on your way to 
the shoopuf.  Also, along this road you will encounter Belgemine and acquire the 
Summoner's Soul, which lets you give new abilities to your Aeons.  If you have 
developed a Thief early, you may already be able to add useful abilities like 
the Nul spells.  (These protection spells are good investments for Aeons because 
they use cheap and easily found ingredients, and although they reduce damage 
from the corresponding element to zero the Aeon still gets full credit towards 
its Overdrive for that damage!)

D.  Acquiring Rikku

Once you acquire Rikku and get to Guadosalam, you will be able to use the 
Customize option.  One of the primary objectives for a Gang of Thieves is 
acquiring items for use in customization.  If you have been thieving along the 
way, some useful customizations may already be available.  Don't be afraid to 
experiment and customize early on, because with a Gang of Thieves you can easily 
acquire more items for customizing later.

E.  Spherimorph

The Spherimorph is the Boss at the end of Macalania Forest.  Be sure to Overkill 
it for two Level 2 Key Spheres.  You can now open the lock between Yuna's and 
Rikku's areas that sits next to the Use skill.  This is arguably the most useful 
Level 2 lock to open, allowing you to rapidly acquire Curaga, Regen, and Holy.

Movement between Tidus's area and that of either Yuna or Auron also becomes 
possible; these open up additional opportunities for building up Medic or 
Enforcer skills, respectively.
 
Also, if you decided to have Lulu take the shortcut through Wakka's area, she is 
probably sitting now in front of the Level 2 lock.  You can unlock it here and 
have her move rapidly to the Firaga/Thundaga/Blizzaga/Waterga area.  This gives 
you some very significant early firepower (at the cost of some flexibility in 
her initial build and some probable need to backtrack later).

F.  Bikanel Island & Home

In one of the sand pits here is a chest containing two precious Teleport 
Spheres!  If you have planned ahead in anticipation of acquiring these you can 
now make two major mid-career changes; see the "Character Design" section above 
for suggestions about the possibilities here.

Also, in an out-of-the-way corner beneath a stairwell in Home is a chest 
containing a Level 4 Key Sphere.  This is the first such sphere that becomes 
available in the regular course of the game (arriving, in fact, before any Level 
3 Key Spheres would normally be seen).  Unfortunately, most of the truly high-
powered abilities are behind some combination of multiple Level 3 and Level 4 
locks.  So, although you could conceivably use this sphere for Copycat or Zombie 
Attack, I would recommend saving it for when you have an additional Level 3 or 
Level 4 Key Sphere and can unlock Doublecast (which is extremely useful if you 
have Lulu serving as an Enforcer), Full-Life, or Auto-Life.

G.  Calm Lands & Monster Arena

If you are just playing FFX "normally" and aren't building a Gang of Thieves, it 
is fairly easy to finish the game without interacting much with the Monster 
Arena.  On the other hand, it is probably true to say that the Monster Arena is 
THE reason for building a Gang of Thieves, because the point of creating such a 
powerful and flexible party is to be able to engage the lethal fiends in the 
arena, steal their loot, and defeat them.  So you will probably be spending a 
lot of time here in the Calm Lands and Monster Arena.

As soon as you can, you should acquire some Capture weapons from the geezer who 
runs the Monster Arena and begin stocking up on critters.  Getting a head start 
on fiend collecting as you continue past the Calm Lands towards the 
confrontation with Yunalesca will be a big help later when you get the Airship 
and start fighting in the Monster Arena in earnest.  Immediately customizing 
some or all your Capture weapons with Sensor (requires two Ability Spheres) can 
be very helpful for coordinating capture efforts with your thieving activity.  
(Later on, having at least one character with a Capture + Piercing weapon may 
also be a good idea; Piercing requires a Level 2 Key Sphere, so you will want to 
wait until those become plentiful.)
 
The Calm Lands is also where some of the better Bribe deals begin appearing (in 
particular, getting two Friend Spheres from a Couerl or two Level 4 Key Spheres 
from a Brain Chimera is a good early investment--I hope you've been saving your 
Gil!).

H.   Yenke and Biran Ronso

If Kimahri is a Thief, be sure to rob these bad boys of their Level 3 Key 
Spheres!

I.  Yunalesca, Airship & Final Encounter with Maester Mika

After you defeat Yunalesca, take the airship to Highbridge and go meet Maester 
Mika and have him vaporize from despair (good riddance).  Now all the Temples 
are opened up for revisiting, which can provide you with additional attribute 
spheres for modifying the Sphere Grid.  Acquiring these is well worth your time, 
since in order to defeat the more powerful Monster Arena monsters you will be 
having your characters traverse huge swaths of the Sphere Grid.  The sooner you 
get these spheres, the better off you will be in terms of planning where to put 
them.  The regions around Auto-Life and Ultima are good places to lay down 
several customizations. 

[Note: the remaining milestones after this one don't come in any particular 
order; they are all available once you get the Airship.]

J.  Besaid Monster Capture & Pickpocket

Not long after getting the airship, it might be a good idea to go right to 
Besaid and capture the three feeble monsters that are indigenous to that island.  
Then return to the Monster Arena where the keeper will have created a new fiend, 
Stratavis.  If you are patient and have a reasonably tight party and good Aeon 
support, you can spend a while dispatching Stratavis 8-15 times (depending on 
Overkills and the occasional rare drop of Dark Matter); this will get you enough 
Amulets to add Pickpocket to some armor.  

Unless you have what it takes to get Master Thief directly (see below) this is 
probably worth doing: the acquisition of Master Thief is potentially a long and 
difficult road, and in the interim the Pickpocket ability will serve you well.  
For more on the Pickpocket auto-ability see the "Equipment" section.

J.  No Encounters Equipment

You will definitely want the No Encounters auto-ability on at least one piece of 
equipment.  It will facilitate your advanced thieving career by making it easier 
to travel quickly and safely on item-gathering or monster-capturing missions.  
The Boss at B'aaj Temple will drop a weapon with this ability, or you can steal 
a bunch of Purifying Salts from undead monks in Yevon Dome (at the end of the 
Zanarkand Ruins) and customize some of your own armor.

K.  Omega Ruins

Find the secret Omega Ruins location on the airship map (it's on the right side 
of the map roughly halfway between the top and bottom, away from the mainland).  
The Omega Ruins is a large area full of powerful monsters and good loot.  In 
particular, the Omega Ruins is where you find Mimics (chests that turn into 
various monsters created out of fiery junk); these Mimics will be a primary 
source of income since killing one provides 50,000 Gil (although no AP).  See 
"Gillionaire, Pickpocket, and Master Thief" below for more on this.

Keep in mind, however, that it is a death sentence to travel far in the Omega 
Ruins unless someone who has Firststrike is in the front of your formation at 
all times and unless you also have good coverage for Confuseproof, Berserkproof, 
and Stoneproof.  Without this protection, any encounter with a Great Malboro or 
a Spirit is likely to be fatal: your whole party can end up poisoned and either 
Berserk or Confused.  (Against a Great Malboro, use your Firststrike opportunity 
to Provoke the foul fiend, thus preventing a Bad Breath assault.)  Demonoliths 
(with their petrifying breath) pose a serious risk as well.  The other 
creatures, though  powerful, are not nearly as deadly.

L.  Gillionaire Equipment

You will need this to keep the Gil flowing for Bribes. Rikku's Celestial Weapon 
has this auto-ability; otherwise, by capturing all the monsters in the Omega 
Ruins, you can get the Designer Wallets to add Gillionaire to some other weapon.

M.  Master Thief Equipment

If you are blessed with the patience and dexterity required to open four chests 
without touching any poles while winning the Chocobo Race at Remiem Temple, you 
can acquire the Pendulums necessary to add the Master Thief customization to 
some armor.  This is quite difficult; after many unsuccessful attempts that left 
me frustrated and humiliated, I was forced to give up on nabbing four (much less 
five) chests, although I was able to manage three.

For those who aren't adept Chocobo jockeys, your best alternative is probably to 
Bribe Ultima Weapon in the Omega Ruins (which will require investing roughly 
1,400,000 Gil and actually arriving safely at Ultima Weapon's lair, so this can 
take a fair amount of effort).  This will provide you with 99 Pendulums, which 
is enough to outfit three Thieves, should you care to do so.  There are other 
options for getting Pendulums, which can be gleaned by perusing the FAQ's on 
item customization and the Monster Arena.

 
-- VI. Combat Tactics

This section describes combat tactics and some of the more important (or 
overlooked) combat skills available to characters.

1.  Basic Flow

The basic flow of a thieving encounter is as follows:

...Set Up
...Thieving
...Mop Up

Each of these phases receives its own discussion below; however, it is useful to 
keep a few general things in mind.  Basically, the goal of a thieving encounter 
is the rapid accumulation of as much loot as possible.  Thus, although I am a 
fan of certain time-consuming activities like using Aeons, I do like to keep the 
time invested in thieving encounters to a minimum.  If you are planning a key 
customization and are gathering some large number of the requisite rare item by 
means of thieving, every second saved can help get you to your target number of 
items more quickly.  To that end, minimizing swapping of characters is a good 
way to save time overall.  Whenever possible, I try to keep swapping confined to 
the set up phase; after that, the less swapping the better.  Usually it is 
necessary to swap in one or more Enforcers for the mop-up, but the amount of 
mop-up you are able to do without swapping (while still achieving the "Involve 
Everybody" goal) is in some sense a measure of the caliber of your Gang of 
Thieves.


A.  Set Up

This phase involves a variety of different activities: getting Luck applied 
(optional, but recommended for encounters where you want to increase your 
chances of successful Steal attempts); having your Masterminds or Medics apply 
improvements to your abilities and defenses (like Hastega, Reflex, Protect or 
NulBlaze) or crowd management effects (like Slowga or Sleep Buster); having your 
Enforcer take out undesirable foes; having your Tank prepare for incoming 
assaults (by using Sentinel).

Obviously, this phase goes much more smoothly if you have a Preemptive Strike.  
This will allow you to concentrate on your preparations without having to worry 
about, say, Yuna getting hit by a Behemoth's Heave attack and going down like a 
sack of potatoes, thus creating a mini-crisis that wastes time and either MP or 
a Phoenix Down.  To that end, having someone with the Initiative modification in 
the front line is a good idea.  Firststrike can also be very helpful (or, in the 
case of Malboros, positively lifesaving).

Assuming you don't have Preemptive Strike, however, you will need to weave 
together a variety of different activities.  What exactly is best to do will 
depend on the encounter, of course.  If you intend to engage in some thieving 
but the encounter also includes creatures that you aren't interested in stealing 
from it is usually a good idea to take them out quickly with an Enforcer.  
Casting Haste/Hastega or Slow/Slowga is also a high priority in general.  (There 
is nothing more annoying than getting bogged down with some ponderous sequence 
of Medic activity during the thieving phase because you decided to take a "short 
cut" and not cast Hastega.) 


B.  Thieving

From preparation you will segue into thieving proper.  There are two basic 
flavors of thieving activity: quick-and-dirty and prolonged.  For quick-and-
dirty, you are just trying rapidly to grab a few items and you don't really care 
about maximizing your loot.  For these types of encounters there may be little 
if any set up.  Instead, you just orchestrate a short sequence of Thief and 
Enforcer moves and get on with your life.

For prolonged fights (e.g., against large fiends or bosses with lots of HP's and 
valuable items to steal), be prepared to do any necessary groundwork (via your 
Tanks, Masterminds, or Medics) to ensure your Thieves' survival for several 
rounds after the set up phase.   You will need that extra time to keep trying to 
Steal even after a couple of failures; there is often more loot to be had for 
the persistent.  This implies that Mastermind skills like Delay Attack/Buster 
may need to be applied two or more times while you conduct your thieving.  It is 
for long encounters like these that the Tank comes into his or her own; a good 
Tank using the Sentinel ability and boosted with Protect, Regen, etc. can do 
wonders for the safety and longevity of your Thieves.


C.  Mop Up

Mop up is the activity of KO'ing fiends to end the combat.  Of course, you can 
do opportunistic mop up during the set up and thieving phases of the encounter. 
Look for opportunities to bring an Enforcer in early in the encounter to perform 
a KO move, then pull them out and forget about them.  This lets you concentrate 
on your Thieves while helping fulfill the "Involve Everybody" goal.  
Alternately, having characters who are Thief/Enforcers can ease your transition 
to mop up by either letting you KO fiends without swapping characters or by 
killing two birds with one stone (as it were) by using Mug to both steal and 
deliver a KO blow. 

In any case, once all the thieving is over, final mop up is usually a 
straightforward affair (at least, straightforward in the sense that dispatching 
fiends is in fact the main activity of the game, so there is no point in saying 
much about it here).  Do keep Overkill opportunities in mind, and delivering a 
final vivid coup de grace with one of Yuna's Aeons is not only a good way to 
maximize your Overkill chances but it also provides satisfying explosions and 
vibrations of your game controller (if you are into that sort of thing).


2.  Skills and Abilities

This section mentions a few character skills and abilities that merit some extra 
discussion.

A.  Steal  

This entire document centers around the Steal skill, but so far very little has 
been said about it!  That is partly intentional, as the basic mechanics of the 
skill are quite straightforward (in fact, you get a little lesson in using Steal 
very early in the game the first time you encounter Rikku).  There are also a 
couple of excellent FAQ's on Steal that detail exactly what you can expect to 
acquire from every fiend in the game.  Still, in terms of using your time in 
combat for the most expeditious and successful thievery possible, there are some 
things that any good Gang of Thieves player will need to know.

Each fiend carries two types of "treasures" that can be stolen: common and rare.  
Each treasure is a bundle of one to five items (e.g., Smoke Grenade x 3), 
although a very small number of Bosses carry more than five of a given item as a 
single treasure. In order to avoid confusion, this document uses "treasure" to 
refer to what can be stolen (so, Smoke Grenade x 3) and "item" to refer to a 
type of item (Smoke Grenade).

Usually, the rare treasure is significantly more desirable than the common one 
(for example, the Mushussu--a dragon fiend in the Sanubia Desert--has a lowly 
Hi-Potion for its common treasure but a lovely Gold Hourglass for its rare 
treasure).  Sometimes, however, the rare treasure is just a larger number of the 
same item that is in the common treasure (for example, a Flame Flan has one Fire 
Gem for its common treasure, and two for its rare treasure).

Although the exact mechanics of how the game determines the success of Steal 
efforts are not clear, there are several rules of thumb.  First off, the initial 
Steal attempt will always succeed.  Keep that in mind if you are trying to steal 
a rare item, because in that case you will want a character with Master Thief or 
Pickpocket to make the initial attempt.

Apart from the first attempt, the more treasures that you have successfully 
stolen from a fiend, the less likely it is that the next effort will succeed.  
Usually after three successes or so it becomes difficult to Steal more.  But, 
just because you have failed doesn't mean there isn't more to Steal.  Sometimes 
you can fail several times and still have one or more successful attempts 
thereafter.  Thus, if you are trying to Steal highly sought-after rare 
treasures, be patient and use your Tanks or Masterminds to hold off the foe 
while your Thieves try repeatedly to garner more loot.  Still, eventually you 
will reach a point where repeated attempts aren't worth the effort.  It is in 
fact probably the case that fiends have a set maximum number of treasures that 
can be stolen from them (perhaps randomly determined per encounter) and that 
after four to six treasures the monster's purse is empty.  (Even after hours and 
hours of thieving I'm not 100% certain that fiends carry a fixed number of 
treasures, but for all intents and purposes you can assume that they do.)

a.  Steal and Luck

Luck increases your success rate for Steal attempts.  Obviously, for a Gang of 
Thieves, that is a good thing.  The tables below show a comparison of the 
results of Steal attempts based on whether or not Luck was applied (each table 
shows ten trials of ten Steal attempts each, with each row showing one such 
trial).  Note that although these tables do show general trends, the sample 
sizes are too small for these findings to be taken as definitive, so don't 
expect your experiences to match exactly the outcomes shown in the tables.

		Steal without Luck
			Attempt
Trial   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9  10
-----------------------------------------------
  1     R   -   -   C   C   -   -   -   -   - 
  2     C   C   -   -   -   -   -   -   -   -
  3     C   -   C   -   C   -   -   -   -   -
  4     C   -   C   -   C   -   -   -   -   -
  5     C   C   -   C   -   -   -   -   -   -
  6     R   C   -   -   -   -   -   R   -   -
  7     C   -   C   -   -   -   -   -   -   C
  8     C   R   C   -   -   -   -   -   -   -
  9     C   C   -   C   -   -   -   -   -   -
 10     C   -   -   C   R   -   -   C   -   -

Total successful attempts = 30
Average successful attempts per trial = 3.0
Percentage of rares among successful attempts = 17%


		Steal with Luck
			Attempt
Trial   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9  10
-----------------------------------------------
  1     R   -   C   -   -   C   -   -   -   C 
  2     C   -   C   -   C   -   -   -   -   -
  3     C   -   -   C   -   -   -   C   -   -
  4     R   -   -   C   -   -   -   -   -   -
  5     C   -   C   -   C   C   -   C   -   -
  6     C   -   C   C   -   -   -   C   -   C
  7     C   -   R   -   -   -   -   -   -   C
  8     C   C   -   C   -   -   C   C   -   -
  9     C   C   -   -   -   C   -   -   -   -
 10     C   -   C   -   C   -   -   C   -   -

Total successful attempts = 37
Average successful attempts per trial = 3.7
Percentage of rares among successful attempts = 8%

You can see from this that Luck provides a significant boost to Steal success 
(approximately 25%).  This can be a big savings in time, not only because it 
takes fewer rounds to Steal the same number of items, but because what these 
tables don't reflect is that the longer it takes to Steal, the more likely a 
fiend is to inflict serious harm on some character.  In short, casting Luck 
early in the combat, preferably at a time when most or all of your Thieves are 
on the frontline, can be very beneficial.  Luck also has the desirable effect of 
improving your characters' odds of evading, striking a blow, or inflicting a 
critical hit.  (Note: In the author's opinion the difference in the occurrence 
of rare treasures between the two tables is probably just random.)


b.  Steal and Jinx

Preliminary research using Jinx and Steal indicate that Jinx has little if any 
effect on the success rate of Steal attempts.  Using Jinx provided about a 6% 
increase in success rate (compared to 25% for Luck), and that 6% may or may not 
be "real" given the small sample sizes involved.   So, this document does not 
make a point of recommending that you use Jinx for improved thievery.  On the 
other hand, as Jinx can help your characters inflict and avoid damage, it can be 
useful to apply for prolonged combats, and although it doesn't seem to help 
thieving that much, it may help a little.


c.  Steal, Pickpocket, and Master Thief

The auto-abilities Pickpocket and Master Thief boost your chances of stealing 
rare treasures.  The tables below show a comparison of Steal attempts with 
results for efforts made using Pickpocket or Master Thief (compare these to each 
other and to the "Steal without Luck" table above to get a sense of the effects 
of these auto-abilities).

		Steal with Pickpocket
			Attempt
Trial   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9  10
-----------------------------------------------
  1     R   C   -   -   -   -   C   -   C   - 
  2     R   R   -   -   -   -   R   -   -   -
  3     R   C   -   -   -   -   R   -   -   -
  4     C   C   -   -   -   R   -   -   -   -
  5     R   C   -   R   -   -   -   -   -   -
  6     R   C   -   C   -   -   -   R   -   -
  7     C   -   -   -   R   -   C   -   -   -
  8     C   R   -   -   -   -   R   -   -   -
  9     C   C   R   -   R   -   -   -   -   -
 10     C   -   -   C   R   R   -   -   -   -

Total successful attempts = 34
Average successful attempts per trial = 3.4
Percentage of rares among successful attempts = 53%

Observe that whereas the description of Pickpocket in the game would seem to 
indicate that when using Pickpocket one would steal all rare treasures first, 
followed by common ones, in point of fact it is not unusual to steal one or more 
common treasures before acquiring a rare one.  Be that as it may, clearly the 
Pickpocket auto-ability dramatically increases your chances of stealing a rare 
treasure (comparing with the tables above indicates that you are more than three 
times as likely to get a rare treasure when using Pickpocket).


		Steal with Master Thief
			Attempt
Trial   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9  10
-----------------------------------------------
  1     R   -   -   -   -   R   -   -   R   - 
  2     R   -   R   R   -   -   -   -   -   -
  3     R   R   -   -   -   R   -   -   -   -
  4     R   R   R   -   -   -   -   -   -   R
  5     R   -   -   R   -   -   -   -   R   -
  6     R   -   R   -   -   -   R   -   R   -
  7     R   R   -   -   -   -   -   -   -   -
  8     R   R   -   -   -   -   R   -   -   -
  9     R   -   R   -   -   R   -   -   -   -
 10     R   R   R   -   -   -   -   -   -   -

Total successful attempts = 31
Average successful attempts per trial = 3.1
Percentage of rares among successful attempts = 100%

As advertised, using Master Thief results in stealing only rare treasures.  The 
frequency of successful attempts remains about the same, however.  

Note that in terms of usefulness Master Thief does not totally supersede 
Pickpocket.  In fact, they are in some ways complementary skills for a well-
rounded Gang of Thieves, because there are times when you actually want to be 
able to acquire the common treasure during a Steal attempt, and Master Thief 
prevents that from happening.   A mature Gang of Thieves will probably want to 
have both auto-abilities in play.


d.  Steal and Multiple Characters

Having multiple Thieves working together to Steal does not increase (or 
decrease) the success rate of the individual thieving attempts (in other words, 
a table such as the "Steal without Luck" table will look pretty much the same 
regardless of whether one or two or more thieves are making the attempts).  On 
the other hand, using multiple thieves clearly saves time, as you can make three 
attempts per "round" of combat instead of just one.

B.  Mug

Mug combines a steal attempt with a physical attack.  This can be a very useful 
skill but requires some care to manage.  Unlike Steal, you need to hit the fiend 
for it to work, so you have to choose your target carefully, and having 
characters with low Accuracy attempt to Mug evasive fiends (or having anyone but 
Wakka attempt to Mug fliers) is not going to work very well.  

Early in the game, Mug is at its best when combined with weapons that provide 
crowd control effects like Dark, Blind, Silence, or Slow.  It can also be used 
to good effect with Zombiestrike (on the weapon, that is) in combos; see below.

During the endgame, Mug comes into its own as a way of doing thieving while also 
inflicting the extreme amounts of damage that are required to overcome the more 
powerful foes in the Monster Arena.  This is best done by melee-style Enforcers 
using their Celestial Weapons or custom Break Damage Limit weaponry.  A 
Thief/Enforcer who can reliably Mug a rare treasure from some powerful fiend 
while simultaneously hitting for 99,999 damage is indeed a thing of beauty.

C.  Lancet

One skill to get the hang of using is Lancet.  This special ability has several 
useful characteristics: it does direct non-elemental damage at range (small or 
weakened fliers can be taken out quickly this way even if Wakka is otherwise 
occupied); the damage it does (based on Magic statistic) is modest and 
predictable so you can avoid prematurely terminating some yet-to-be-pilfered 
fiend; and, most importantly, it restores HP and MP to the user.  Powerful 
characters can easily Lancet for hundreds of HP's and MP's of damage.

The MP draining effect makes Lancet particularly useful for your Masterminds, 
who may well be characters like Tidus or Wakka who aren't blessed with many MP 
spheres in the earlier parts of their careers.  Using Lancet can ensure that 
they get a steady flow of MP coming in to replace that which they expend using 
their skills.  And, in general, Lancet is a great placeholder skill for when you 
want the character to do something but aren't sure what (this often occurs when 
you want to swap someone in order to satisfy the "Involve Everyone" goal but 
don't have anything specific for them to do). 

Kimahri, of course, always has this skill, and if Tidus is a Thief he will pass 
right by it on his way down if he takes the direct route.  For Wakka and Lulu, 
if they are on the way to becoming Thieves by moving through Kimahri's area, it 
is worth considering whether to make a short detour up to acquire Lancet.

D.  Pray

Like Lancet, using Pray is a great thing to do when you have nothing better to 
do.  If possible, I like to make the transition into an aggressive thieving 
phase with a couple Haste- and Luck-ready Thieves and a Medic with Pray.  The 
Thieves can then ply their trade while the Medic just Prays, healing any minor 
damage for free.  A fast Medic (e.g., Yuna) will act fairly often, letting you 
Pray frequently or giving you ample opportunities to swap in a Tank, Enforcer, 
or another Thief, should any of those prove desirable.

E.  Reflex

This skill is in a slightly odd part of the Sphere Grid, and if you pursue 
anything but the default Lulu growth path, then there is no natural time at 
which to acquire it.  Nevertheless, if you get it or decide to get it, it is 
worth keeping in mind as a support skill.  Since Thieves tend to have reasonably 
high Evasion already, a well-timed Reflex at the onset of a prolonged battle can 
prevent wasted time and MP for healing and what-not later on.

F.  Zombie Attack

This can be a very useful way to set up an easy mop up (at least, when used 
against fiends that aren't immune to Zombie).  By turning a fiend into a Zombie, 
you have a pretty much guaranteed one hit kill using Life or Full-Life.  So, if 
your Mastermind combines crowd-control skills with a weapon that has Zombietouch 
or Zombiestrike, or if your Thieves use Mug in conjunction with a Zombiestrike 
weapon, you can sometimes save time once your stealing is done and you are ready 
for mop-up.  Tactics like this can be very useful for optimizing a party that 
has lots of Medics but little Black Magic firepower.

G.  Guard and Sentinel

These are the lynchpin skills for the Tank.  Sentinel is a superb ability, as it 
reduces incoming damage while protecting your Thieves.  For a long combat, use 
Protect and Regen on your Tank to take full advantage of this tactic.  Also, 
combine Sentinel with Counterattack or Evade & Counter and you can dish it out 
whenever you take it!  (Yes, I say elsewhere that Counterattack and Evade & 
Counter aren't always a good idea, but they are, as I also said, extremely 
useful in some settings--just use your best judgment.)

H.  Threaten and Provoke

Although these become less useful in the endgame as most fiends are immune, 
during the middle part of the game these are great Mastermind techniques.   If 
you can get equipment such as Fireeater or Lightningeater, Provoke is great to 
use on bombs or imps, since you not only divert their attention but you will 
heal the targeted character!  Also, Provoke is by far the best way to deal with 
a Malboro or Spirit; try provoking the latter in the Omega Ruins for a pleasant 
surprise.


-- VII. Equipment

This brief section provides some tips on equipping your characters as well as 
the auto-abilities of armor and weapons that are most important for playing a 
Gang of Thieves.

1.  Celestial Weapons

In the course of building a Gang of Thieves, you will probably want to acquire 
at least some of the Celestial Weapons.  I will not provide any details on this, 
as there are whole FAQ's devoted to this topic.  But I will mention that of the 
seven weapons, Auron's and Yuna's can be acquired almost as a matter of course 
if you are aggressively pursuing a regimen of monster capture and Aeon 
acquisition.  Knowing that it will be straightforward to provide these two with 
top-end weaponry means you can concentrating on building good custom equipment 
for the other characters.

2.  Custom Weapons and Armor

For characters for whom you can't or won't acquire the Celestial Weapon, you 
will eventually want to provide top-end custom equipment with three or four 
slots of useful modifications.  Again, whole FAQ's have been devoted to this 
topic and I won't say much here except for one small tip: if you need equipment 
with four empty slots, there is a reliable source available during the endgame.  
After you have full access to the airship and have completed the Highbridge 
sequence, Wantz (Oaka's brother) will appear in the Macalania Forest with a full 
inventory of empty four-slot equipment.  Find him at the southern edge of 
Macalania Forest, right near the passage to the Thunder Plains.  (If he isn't 
there, that means you were inconsiderate to him or to Oaka at some earlier point 
in the story: shame on you!)

3.  Auto-Abilities

This section discusses several of the auto-abilities that are most useful for 
Gang of Thieves members.  

A.  Gillionaire, Pickpocket, and Master Thief

No self-respecting Gang of Thieves party should be without these.  

Gillionaire adds to your Gil intake and thus helps you Bribe more often.  'Nuff 
said!  But one thing to be aware of is that the character with Gillionaire must 
be in the front line when the combat ends in order to get double the Gil.  Some 
guides say that Gillionaire only requires that the character participate in a 
battle, but I have verified that in the U.S. version the character must be in 
the front of the formation when melee ends in order for you to get the bonus.

Pickpocket and Master Thief give you a more controlled sequence of Steal 
operations, depending on which you use.  These are described in some detail 
above in the "Steal" section. 

In any case, the Gillionaire, Pickpocket, and Master Thief auto-abilities all 
take a little effort to acquire.  More information on when and how in the game 
you might try to acquire these is given above under "Milestones."


B.  Counterattack, Evade & Counter, Magic Counter

These are great abilities for weapons, but they can cause you to lose control of 
when and how fiends get killed.  So equip such weapons with care, particularly 
if they are combined with instant KO modifiers like Deathstrike or Stonestrike.


C.  Initiative and Firststrike

As mentioned under "Combat Tactics," these can be a great boon for giving you an 
extra edge in combat.  Also, Firststrike is obligatory for traversing the Omega 
Ruins unless you have No Encounter, since being Ambushed by a Greater Malboro 
can be fatal for even a very strong and well-prepared party.  (See under "Omega 
Ruins" above for more on this.)


D.  Auto-Protect and Auto-Regen

These are great abilities for your Tank characters when combined with Provoke or 
Sentinel.  (Auto-Shell and Provoke also work well against spell-casting foes; 
but unfortunately Sentinel does not work against spell casters.)  These auto-
abilities are in fact standard equipment options for the Uber-Tank (see below).


E.  Auto-Haste

Giving your Master Thief Auto-Haste is an excellent idea.  In fights against the 
big critters in the Monster Arena, periodically having your characters be KO'd 
is pretty much inevitable, and being KO'd causes a character to lose any effects 
such as Haste.  Thus it can be difficult to keep your key characters constantly 
Hasted without using valuable time to recast Haste or Hastega, and since each 
action can be precious in terms of inflicting damage or simply staying alive, 
taking time to recast spells may not always be wise.

However, with Auto-Haste, your Master Thief is always operating at peak 
efficiency, allowing you to squeeze in thieving attempts at every opportunity.   
Similarly, giving your primary Enforcer Auto-Haste can be extremely helpful.

One fairly easy way to get enough Chocobo Wings to customize armor with Auto-
Haste is to capture three of every type of wolf from the Monster Arena.  Also, a 
Machea can be bribed to provide roughly 40 Chocobo Wings for the significant but 
not wallet-shattering sum of roughly 360,000 Gil.


4.  Equipping Your Uber-Tank

As mentioned under the "Tank" section of "Character Design" (see above), you 
will definitely want to evolve one of your Tanks into an Uber-Tank.  This is 
largely a matter of providing an optimized set of equipment.

First off, you want your Uber-Tank to have the Firststrike auto-ability on their 
weapon (this makes Auron a good choice for Uber-Tank, as he is already the 
default Tank for the party and his Celestial Weapon has the Firststrike ability 
built in).  

Then you will want to provide your Uber-Tank with at least two pieces of custom 
armor.  The first armor aims at providing optimal protection for encounters with 
heavy-hitting physical attackers (particularly those that like to Counterattack 
physically whenever your characters touch them).  This armor should be 
customized with auto-abilities like Auto-Protect, Auto-Regen, Auto-Phoenix, 
Auto-Med, Auto-Shell, or Break HP Limit.

The second armor is more specialized, but is used for encounters with fiends 
that use some variety of the nasty Poison/Darkness/Confuse/Berserk combo (mostly 
Malboros but there are some others).  Providing your Uber-Tank with armor that 
has Sleepproof, Confuseproof, Berserkproof, and Auto-Med ensures that at least 
one of your characters will remain healthy and lucid for such encounters so that 
your whole party does not fall prey to these nefarious attacks.  Use your 
Firststrike opportunity to swap in that armor.

Equipped with these two armors and a Firststrike weapon, your Uber-Tank provides 
supreme protection for the rest of your party.  In the Omega Ruins and Inside 
Sin (the places where Great Malboros lurk) you should leave your Uber-Tank in 
the frontline at all times.  Avoid the temptation to swap him (or her) out!  I 
have lost hours of gameplay over the course of my FFX career because I swapped 
out my Uber-Tank, forgot to swap him back in after the encounter, and was then 
Ambushed by a Great Malboro.


-- VIII. Caveats and Contact Information

This document is based on the U.S. version of FFX.  In particular, I don't have 
access to the International version, which has several new skills that mesh well 
with the Gang of Thieves concept.  However, I believe the information and advice 
contained herein is general enough that it will be clear to anyone who has the 
International version how to take advantage of that game's modifications to the 
Sphere Grid and available skills.

I do not currently operate a website, so this guide is only available through 
other sites that have an agreement with me to publish it.  If you have any 
questions, suggestions, or corrections, please e-mail me at 
christopher.malone2@gte.net.  I will try to respond appropriately, but it may 
take a while for me to read and process any given e-mail, so please be patient.


-- IX. Thanks and Credits

Many thanks to SquareSoft for creating a truly epic game!

Also, big warm "Thank you's" to the hard-working people who wrote and maintained 
the many FAQ's from which came the raw knowledge that encouraged me to conceive 
and execute Gang of Thieves parties in FFX (currently on my third gang and my 
fourth time through the game). Those include, in particular, Christine Bomke and 
Muni Shinobu.