Star Ocean: Till The End of Time
Assault Magic FAQ 0.9
By Roger Pope, March 9, 2005



Table of Contents:
I.....Intro
II....What is Assault Magic?
III...Sophia vs. Adray
IV....Skills
       ->Basic Attacks
       ->Passive Battle Skills
       ->Support Skills
       ->Tactical Skills
       ->Assault Magic
       ->Active Battle Skills - Non magic
       ->Non-Assault Magic
V.....General Setup
       ->What Spells should the AI be able to Cast?
       ->Skill Setup - Status
       ->Skill Setup - Tactics
VI....Short Range Setups
       ->Stun Bomb + Short Major Sophia
       ->Ifrit Sophia
       ->Southern Cross Adray
       ->Southern Cross Sophia
VII...Long Range Setups
       ->Flare Sophia
       ->Stun Sophia
       ->Flare Adray
       ->Tactics - Setting and Formation
       ->Tactics - Practice
       ->Full Active Mode
VIII..Conclusion
XV....Acknowledgements
X.....Appendix
       ->Battle Skill Damage Comparisons
       ->Item Creation Primer
       ->Creating Factors
       ->About Decoys
XI....Terms of Use


Intro:



What is Assault Magic?
Assault magic is a player created term, which refers to those magic spells
which can be set as battle skills.  Using those spells as assault magic is
vastly superior to just casting magic from the Symbology menu for two reasons.
First, and most importantly, you are able to chain assault magic spells
together for Cancel Bonuses, thereby doing considerably more damage.  The Other
benefit is that assault magic generally casts much more quickly that plain
magic.


Sophia vs. Adray:
They are both required in your party, and the both have near identical spell 
lists, so why would you choose one over the other?  If all you want the 
character to do is cast healing spells and maybe the occasional stat boosting 
spell, as I hear many people claiming is all they do with Sophia and Adray, 
then you're probably better off with Adray.  He has more health than Sophia and
his spell windups are significantly shorter.  If you want use short range
Assault magic, then you're probably better off with Adray for the same reasons,
but in Addition, adray learns the most powerful short range assault magic,
Southern Cross, much earlier than Sophia does.  If you want to use long range
Assault magic, which does more damage, stunlocks better, but it a little less
fun, then Sophia is unquestionably better than Adray, because many of the
better spells are not available to Adray in assault form.  Adray has only two
long range assault spells, Firebolt and Ice Needles, neither of which is 
exactly a powerhouse.




Skills:

Basic Attacks:


Passive Battle Skills:
These are skills that need to set in the battle skills menu.  They add an 
effect to the basic attack they correspond to with a set probability, and 
nothing special needs to be done to activate them.  Because these skills take
Battle Skill Slots, they are counter-productive to use while employing an
Assault magic strategy, but can still be useful to Sophia/Adray in special
circumstances.


Critical Hit - Sophia Level 24 - Adray Level 24
Requires 2 CP to Set
Adds the chance that any hit dealt will do critical damage.  Probability 
increases with proficiency.  Not a worthless skill but is very outclassed by 
Increase HP Damage and Increase MP Damage.

Increase HP Damage - Sophia Level 27 - Adray Level 27
Requires 4 CP to Set
Adds 50% HP damage to every attack that this skill is set to.  This skill 
always activates, and increases in damage rather than probability like the 
description says.

Stun - Sophia Level 29 - Adray Level 29
Requires 2 CP to Set
Adds the chance that any hit dealt will stun enemy.  Probability increases with
proficiency.  Not very useful for Sophia or Adray.

Increase MP Damage - Sophia Level 32 - Adray Level 32 
Requires 4 CP to Set
Adds 50% MP damage to every attack that this skill is set to.  This skill 
always activates, and increases in damage rather than probability like the 
description says.  This will also add a set amount of MP damage to attacks that
otherwise do no MP damage.

Fear - 2 CP - Sophia Level 36 - Adray Level 36
Requires 2 CP to Set
Adds the chance that any hit dealt will make the enemy attack less.  I have 
never used this skill, with any character.






Support Skills:
These are skills that must be set in the battle skills menu, and are always 
active once set.

First Aid - Sophia Level 3 - Adray Start
Requires 1 CP to set
Whenever you take damage of any magnitude greater than zero, there is a chance 
to be healed for value equal to 20% of total HP.  Probability ranges from 5% at
level 1 to 10% at level 10.  Usefulness of this skill is somewhat lost on 
Sophia, who will usually be at very long range.

Standby Healing - Sophia Level 14 - Adray Start
Requires 1 CP to set
When not at full health character recovers a set amount of HP at intervals 
while not moving.  Not a useful skill at any proficiency. 

Critical Hit HP - 2 CP - Sophia Level 22 - Adray Level 23
Requires 2 CP to set
Adds a probability that any physical attack doing HP damage will be a critical 
hit (physical defined as one that is not a magic spell).  This skill has no 
effect on physical MP damage. This is not the same skill as the Critical Hit 
passive skill.  This skill stacks with all other skills, whereas the other was
limited to the slot it was set to.  This skill is very useful in certain 
circumstances.

No Guard - Sophia Level 46 - Adray Level 46
Requires 5 CP to set
Character will not be disturbed if s/he takes physical less than or equal to 
1/15 of current HP.  Extremely useful skill that's usefulness is once again 
lost on Sophia

Quick Symbol - Learned from Brittle Tome
Requires 3 CP to set
Brittle Tome is authored by Sophia, Maria, Mirage and Osman for a difficulty of
100. Quick symbol allows spells to be cast in one half the time that they would
otherwise require.  This skill stacks with accessories that reduce casting 
time, so if Sophia had Quick Symbol and something with 1/2 casting time, the 
total casting time would be 1/4 of the standard casting time.

Increase MP - Learned from is learned from Fading Tome, authored by Osman, for 
a difficulty of 99.




Tactical Skills:
These are skills that are either set tactical skill menu outside of battle, or 
used in the tactical skill menu in battle.  I realize there are more skills she
can learn through item creation, but I feel most of them are unnecessary for 
Sophia/Adray.

Scan Enemy - Sophia Level 13 - Adray Level 42
Allows character to see current/maximum HP and MP of enemy, what enemy is 
strong/weak to, and what enemy can drop.  Does not show HP/MP values of bosses.

Taunt - Sophia Level 21 - Adray Level 20
Character says something to draw enemies' attention towards himself and 
hopefully away from another character.  Not useful for Sophia as pretty much 
the only reason for any character to ever use taunt is to get an enemy off 
Sophia!  Should you be using both Sophia and Adray, then you might have
occasion to use it to protect Sophia.

Berserk - Sophia Level 42 - Adray Level 35
Fury use is halved.  Physical damage is up 30% and defense is lowered 30%.  
This skill is a must for Sophia.

Convert Damage - Learned From Tattered Tome 
Convert Damage is learned from the Tattered Tome, authored by nearly all 
authors (Fayt can do it for you) at a difficulty of 40.  What convert damage 
does is allows damage dealt to either HP or MP be diverted, depending on the 
setting.  For Sophia, because of her low HP, you'll want to set this to 
Preserve HP, which means that every 7HP damage she would have taken is changed
to 1 MP damage.  This will roughly double the total damage she can take.  
This will still be an improvement for Adray, but not as much so.




Assault Magic:
This is what this guide is all about! These are spells that can be set as
battle skills, which should be chained together for Cancel Bonuses.  Assault
Magic is a variation of normal attack magic, and using them as battle skills is
preferable to casting them from the Symbology menu.  Keep in mind that a spell 
cast as a strong skill will simply do 1.3 times the weak damage, which is the 
same as the Symbology menu damage.  Sophia's repritoire of assault magic is
much more vast than Adray's, and includes every assault spell that Adray has,
so I'll be referencing her the default.  If I put {Adray Level} in braces, that
means he learns the spell at the specified level, but is unable to use it as
Assault Magic.

The expected damage info is taken from Echang's FAQ, but has been reinterpreted
so hopefully it'll be easier to understand.  Basically the damage done by every
spell is the sum of three factors:

INT * Multiplier
Proficiency * Multiplier
Innate Spell Constant  

So, without further adieu, here are the skills:

 
Fire Bolt - Sophia Level 5 - Adray Start
Requires 2 CP to set
Fire Elemental
MP-Minor: 10   MP-Major: 5%
Fury Use: 20/42
Damage: (0.5I + 2.5P + 20)*n
Fires 1-4 bolts towards target, depending on proficiency.  Has homing 
capabilities, but can still miss.

Ice Needles - Sophia Level 10 - Adray Start
Requires 2 CP to set 
Water Elemental
MP-Minor: 10   MP-Major: 5%
Fury Use: 20/42
Damage: (0.3I + 4.5P + 15)*n
Fires 5-10 icicles towards enemy, depending on proficiency, each with a chance 
to freeze the enemy.  Can be used at long range, but loses much effectiveness.


Lightning Blast - Sophia Level 15 - Adray Start
Requires 3 CP to set
Wind Elemental
MP-Minor: 10   MP-Major: 5%
Fury Use: 20/42
Damage: (0.4I + 10P + 8)x8
Fast, decent damage, but limited to close range.


Earth Glaive - Sophia Level 19 - Adray Start
Requires 3 CP to Set
Earth Elemental
MP-Minor: 10   MP-Major: 5%
Fury Use: 20/42
Damage: (0.5I + 8P + 30)*3
Fast, decent damage, but limited to close range.


Efreet- Sophia Level 25 - {Adray Level 21}
Requires 5 CP to set
Fire Elemental
MP-Minor: 35   MP-Major: 8%
Fury Use: 30/60
Damage: (0.4I + 70P + 70)*4
Rather damaging spell when first aquired.  Affects large area in front of 
caster, but limited to short range.  I don't understand why Adray doesn't learn
this in Assault form, as it seems more consistant with his other skills than it
does Sophia's.


Thunderflare - Sophia Level 30 - {Adray Level 27}
Requires 4 CP to set
Wind Elemental
MP-Minor: 40   MP-Major: 8%
Fury Use: 30/60
Damage: (0.4I + 12P + 5)*5
The best stunlocking spell in the game, and the core of the Stun Sophia 
strategy.  The expected damage reflects the big hits, but there are several 
weak hits in between each big hit, although the damage is negligible.

Deep Freeze - Level 35 - {Adray Level 30}
Requires 6 CP to set 
Water Elemental
MP-Minor: 80   MP-Major: 10%
Fury Use: 30/60
Damage: (0.4I + 45P + 150)*4
The only Assault magic I ever recommend casting from the symbology menu.  
Has a good chance of freezing enemies, thus is good for shatter skills.

Dark Sphere - Sophia Level 40 - {Adray Level 35}
Requires 8 CP to set
Non-Elemental
MP-Minor: 200   MP-Major: 8%
Fury Use: 40/70
No Damage
This spell has a chance of instantly killing enemy, but I don't feel it's 
useful at all, since any enemy that could be killed by it would be faster 
killed by other spells.

Stone Rain - Sophia Level 45 - {Adray Level 42}
Requires 5 CP to set
Earth Elemental
MP-Minor: 80   MP-Major: 10%
Fury Use: 40/72
Damage: (0.5I + 30P + 150)*6
A decently damaging skill that stunlocks pretty well.  It can be a decent 
alternative spell in for the Stun Sophia Strategy.  Unfortunately lots of 
enemies seem to be immune to earth.

Explosion - Sophia Level 50 - {Adray Level 45}
Requires 7 CP to set
Fire Elemental
MP-Minor: 300   MP-Major: 10%
Fury Use: 40/72
Damage: (0.5I + 250P + 200)*5/2 + (0.5I + 250P + 200)*5
This is the most damaging skill in the game, with decent stunlocking potential
and the core of the Flare Sophia strategy.

Laser Beams - Sophia Level 54 - {Adray Level 54}
Requires 7 CP to set
Non-Elemental
MP-Minor: 150   MP-Major: 12%
Fury Use: 40/72
Damage: (0.5I + 100P + 200) * 6
Pretty good non-elemental damage with a rather long windup.

Lightning Strike - Sophia Level 60 - {Adray Level 57}
Requires 8 CP to set
Wind Elemental
MP-Minor: 300   MP-Major: 12%
Fury Use: 50/86
Damage: (0.5I + 12P + 350)*8
Rather weak spell considering MP and CP use, but stunlocks rather well.

Southern Cross - Sophia From Scroll - Adray Level 40
Requires 6 CP to set
Non-Elemental
MP-Minor: 120   MP-Major: 8%
Fury Use: 30/60
Damage: (0.5I + 25P + 200)*6 + (MP Damage = 0.16*HP Damage)
This is one of the best Assault spells that Adray can learn, and a decent
reason to choose him over Sophia, who must learn this from Puzzling Scroll.
(Puzzling scrolls is found on floor 108 of Sphere 211.)  This is one of the
few spells that does MP damage.  Affects large area around caster.  Limited to
Short Range.


Blood Scylla - Sophia From Scroll - {No Adray}
Requires 7 CP to set
Non-elemental
MP-Minor: 300   MP-Major: 12%
Fury Use: 40/72
Damage: (0.4I + 20P + 320)*3 + (MP Damage = 0.35*HP Damage)
Must be learned from Abstruse Scroll, found on floor 1 of the Maze of 
Tribulations.  Drains enemy HP/MP to heal Sophia.  Affects very large area 
around caster.  More effective at short range, but still very usable at long 
range. 

Gremlins - Sophia from Scroll - {No Adray}
Requires 6 CP to set
Earth Elemental
MP-Minor: 50   MP-Major: 6%
Fury Use: 30/60
Damage: (0.3I + 15P + 120)*n + (MP Damage = 0.2*HP Damage)
Must be learned from Recondrite Scroll, found on floor 209 of Sphere 211.
Summons 6-10 critters to attack enemy once, depending on proficiency.  
Potential usefulness is greatly reduced by the fact that it is learned so late,
and that it is earth elemental.

Meteor Swarm - Sophia From Scroll - {No Adray}
Requires 10 CP to set - Limited to Strong Skill Slots
Fire Elemental
MP-Minor: --   MP-Major: 15%
Fury Use: --/96
Damage: (0.5I + 350P + 300)*(3n)
Sophia's "Ultimate" Skill.  Must be learned from Profound Scroll, found on 
floor 210 of Sphere 211.  Summons 12+ meteors to strike random locations on the
battle field, number of meteors increases with proficiency.  You can probably 
expect that any one enemy will be struck by 3-5 meteors per swarm, and that 
each meteor will hit 3 times.  Does incredible damage by itself, but it 
consumes so much CP and Fury that it can only be chained with Firebolt, which
is not impressive.  Overall, Explosion -> Explosion chains are much more useful
than Firebolt -> Meteor Swarm chains.  This skill was fire elemental in the
original version, then non-elemental in the Directors cut, then made fire-
elemental again in the NA/PAL releases.





Active Battle Skills - Non Magic:
These refer to the physical skills that characters learn that have nothing to
with magic. They are based off of physical attack power rather than INT, 
but are still chainable with Assault magic.

*Exapanded Info Coming Soon*





Pure Spells:
These are spells that can only be cast from the Symbology menu.  Even though
these spells are the opposite of Assault Magic, I'm including them for
thoroughness.
You must have the requisite fury in order for the spell to besuccessfully cast.
Unfortunately, the game will allow you to attempt to cast a spell when you 
don't have enough fury.  When this happens, you will simply see a "Miss" and no
MP will be drained, but you will have still lost the time it took you to cast.


Healing - 20 MP - Sophia Level 3 - Adray Start
Basic healing spell.  Good healing at low proficiency and only gets better.

Antidote - 10 MP - Sophia Level 4 - Adray Start
Cures poison.  Enough Said

Silence - 10 MP- Sophia Level 5 - Adray Start
Prevents enemy from casting spells.  Kinda useful, but not very.

Acid Rain - 15 MP - Sophia Level 12 - Adray Level 19
Lowers enemy defense.  The only place I can think of where this would be really
useful is in the Urssa Laval Caves, where the enemies have ridiculous defense
compared to your attack power.

Protection - 30 MP - Sophia Level 17 - Adray Level 23
Raises defense by 50% for about 60 sec. Duration goes up with proficiency.  
Very useful spell.

Cure Condition - 15 MP - Sophia Level 20 - Adray Level 29
It's like an uber antidote.

Restoration - 60 MP - Sophia Level 22 - Adray Level 32
Raises incapacitated ally.  Restores little HP/MP in the process, but improves
with proficiency.

Power Up - 30 MP - Sophia Level 25 - Adray Level 25
Raises attack by 50% for about 60 sec. Duration goes up with proficiency.
Useful in the main game, but has no effect once characters obtain maximum
attack.

Crush - 25 MP - Sophia Level 29 - {No Adray}
Damages enemy.  Only damaging spell that Sophia cannot set as assault magic, 
thus making it worthless.

Faerie Light - 40 MP - Sophia Level 32 - Adray Level 37
Heals all allies.  Amount healed is much less than with the heal spell, but 
good when everyone needs healing.

Reflection - 20 MP - Sophia Level 37 - Adray Level 39
Cuts magic damage in half, lasts about 60 seconds.  Decent spell, but there are
usually better ways of preventing magic damage, such as wearing a Blazing
Pendant.

Gravitation - 30 MP - Sophia Level 47 - Adray Level 48
Slows enemy movement and occasionally disrupts enemy action in a large area.
Not incredibly useful, but handy if the enemy is immune to the spell element
you have set.

Angel Feather - 30 MP - Sophia Level 57 - Adray Level 60
Raises all stats by 20%.  Generally speaking, much inferior to Protection and
Power Up, though could be useful on higher difficulties to improve HIT, thus
less enemy parries.








General Setup:


What Spells should the AI be able to Cast?

In order to get the most out of your mages while AI controlled, you 
need to prevent them from casting extraneous spells from the Symbology menu, 
thus forcing them to use their Battle Skill Spells (aka, the Assault Magic).
The only spells you want enabled are:

Healing
Antidote
Silence
Protection
Cure Condition
Restoration
Fairie Light
Deep Freeze (depending)
Gravitation (depending)

Deep Freeze is nice for the shatter kills.  It's your call as to whether or not
you enable it.  Gravitation is a nice spell when enemies are immune to the
spells she has set.  Once again, it's your call as to whether or not to want to
use it.





Skill Setup - Status:
I'll come out and say it up front:
THE AI TRAINING FAQ IS WRONG
THE AI TRAINING FAQ IS WRONG
THE AI TRAINING FAQ IS WRONG
THE AI TRAINING FAQ IS WRONG
THE AI TRAINING FAQ IS WRONG

There is no reason whatsoever for any character to not have an attack rating of
10.  There is arguably reason to let defense lag, but all characters,
ESPECIALLY SOPHIA AND ADRAY, want a high attack rating to get the most out of
Cancel Combos.  Having a high attack rating does not make them run into the
melee.  They'll find a way to do that regardless of their attack rating.  Bump
their HP/MP/Defense up to 10 also.




Skill Setup - Tactics:
Berserk is on.  Whether you like it or not, it's on.
Her AAA doesn't really matter.  Ideally she's staying out of the fray so it's
irrelevant.  You might also want to include Convert Damage, set to preserve HP.
This makes it so she's a little more likely to survive in the event she is
smacked around.







Short Range Setups:
You'll want Sophia/Adray to have the right weapon setup, which will generally
be the first thing covered.  I assume you know how item creation works.  If you
don't you can check my appendix (which has a crash course to IC), or check
another FAQ.  Please don't email me about IC general questions.  I cover the
specifics of Item Creation for in great detail later in the appendix, so don't
worry if you don't know where a certain factor comes from.


Stun Bomb + Short Major Sophia:

This really isn't "Assault Magic"  But it's handy info regardless.
This "strategy" was originally developed for aquireing the "Defeat Luther at 
Level 1" Battle trophy.  What you do it take a Laser Weapon, and load it up 
with 8 (ATT +500) factors from Orichalcum (see the appendix on how to make 
orichalcum), or you could go all out and use the Imposing Scroll won from the 
battle arena so they're (ATT +1000) factors.  Once you have your weapon, go 
into battle with some 20-40 stun bombs.  Your formation should be loose line 
and all characters should be set on manual.  As soon as the battle starts use a
stun bomb on the enemy.  Run Sophia over to the enemy and position her in
close/mid-range, and use her short major attack.  Now switch to another
character and use another stun bomb.  If you timed this right, the item
timer will have just worn off after the second hit from Sophia's staff has hit,
thus you can keep the enemy perpetually stunned, meanwhile sophia is dishing
out major damage.  You can use this strategy on Luther and Gabriel, getting the
time related trophies and the no damage trophies at the same time, but I
wouldn't try it on any other post game bosses.


Ifrit Sophia:
*Exapanded Info Coming Soon*

Southern Cross Adray:
*Exapanded Info Coming Soon*

Southern Cross Sophia:
*Exapanded Info Coming Soon*





Long Range Setups:
There are basically two ways to go about making Sophia really effective in
Long Range Applications.  Adray doesn't get very effective long Range.  You 
can go the Flare route, or the Stun Route.  With Stun Sophia, you're using 
Thunderflare, Lightning Strike, and/or Stone Rain to keep the enemies 
stunlocked as much as possible and to prevent as many enemy attacks as 
possible.  With Flare Sophia, you're chaining Explosion for major damage. 
Explosion does more damage against an enemy strong against Fire than the non-
elemental Laser Beams does to that same enemy; explosion is also better at 
stunlocking, making it definitively better than Laser Beams.

As with short range setups, in long range setups...
You'll want Sophia/Adray to have the right weapon setup, which will generally
be the first thing covered.  I assume you know how item creation works.  If you
don't you can check my appendix (which has a crash course to IC), or check 
another FAQ.  Please don't email me about IC general questions.  I cover the
specifics of Item Creation for in great detail later in the appendix, so don't 
worry if you don't know where a certain factor comes from.  
 


Flare Sophia:

Adept Staff:
->INT +1000
->INT +1000
->INT +1000
->INT +1000
->INT +1000
->6% MP recovery at intervals during battle
->-3 Fury use
->+50% damage for fire-based spells
Accessory: Bangle of Intellect (Fully Refined)
Accessory: Varies

Skills:
Short X: None
Long X: Explosion
Short O: None
Long O: Explosion

This setup will not maximize her intelligence initially, but it will eventually
max out in her later levels... around level 220.  Just a little historical
note, previously I recommended using 4 (INT +1000) factors and a (+30% INT
Increase) factor, but I did the math, and it turns out that 5 (INT +1000) will
max your INT a few levels earlier.  It should be noted that magic damage,
especially Explosion, is heavily influenced by proficiency, thus missing a few
points of INT isn't too great a sacrifice.  Your first Accessory will be a
Bangle of Intellect, which has (+30% INT increase) and (30% INT increase).  I'm
not entirely sure what difference the "+" makes in that factor, but from what
I've observed, the combined effect is really close to 60%, so it's a moot point
anyways.

Your varied accessory will be a fully refined Ring of Mental Power (6% MP
Regen), a Victory Trophy (6% MP Regen, 1/2 casting time, -2 Fury), or an
appropriately refined Blazing Pendant (Earth and Wind HP absorb).  The reasons
to use a Ring of Mental Power or a Victory Trophy are obvious enough, as they
let you keep casting Explosion without resorting to Mental Enhancers; the
Victory Trophy just has more perks but is harder to get than a Ring of Mental
Power, and there is only one in the game.  The Blazing Pendant is necessary to
get the No-Damage Trophy against post game bosses Lenneth and Freya.  Both of
these bosses cast Stone Rain and Lightning Strike and your chances of not being
hit are really slim, so the blazing pendant nulls the damage while keeping you
on the track for no damage.

Additionally, you might consider making your varied accessory a Wind Ring,
because occasionally you may want to go the Stun Route, and make use of the
stunlocking power of Thunderflare, even if your setup is primarily for
Explosion.  When you do use Thunderflare, you're not going much damage, but an
extra 50% damage can always help... I just don't feel that it's important
enough to make it a permanent part of her weapon.







Stun Sophia:

Adept's Staff:
->+1000 INT
->+1000 INT
->+1000 INT
->+1000 INT
->(Variable)
->6% MP Recovery 
->-3 Fury use 
->+50% Wind (or Earth) Damage
Accessory: Bangle of Intellect (refined) 
Accessory: Varies 

Skill Setups:

Pure Stunning:
Short X: None
Long X: Thunderflare
Short O: None
Long O: Thunderflare
Support 1: Quick Symbol
Support 2: Increase MP

Stunning with Damage:
Short X: None
Long X: Lightning Strike
Short O: None
Long O: Thunderflare
Support 1: Quick Symbol
Support 2: None


Stunning with Stone Rain:
Short X: None
Long X: Stone Rain
Short O: None
Long O: Stone Rain
Support 1: Quick Symbol
Support 2: None



You can really go several different ways with this and everyone has their own 
opinions, but this is the way I would set up a Stun Sophia, though I personally
prefer a Flare Sophia.  Your varied weapon factor is going to be either 
INT +1000 or 1/2 Casting Time.  What it boils down to which do you prefer
while you're wearing a Blazing Pendant during the Lenneth/Freya fights: 1/2
casting time or max int?  I would choose the 1/2 casting time myself, as the
hit to your int won't be too bad, and 1/2 casting time can come in really
handy.  When you're not fighting those two, your varied accessory should be a
Victory Trophy to compliment INT +1000, or another Bangle of Intellect
to compliment 1/2 casting Time, whichever you have on your weapon.

If you're going the Lightning Strike route, you need Lightning strike on weak
in order to pull off a 250% Cancel Combo.  And just in case you're wondering,
yes 1/2 casting time and quick symbol do indeed stack, for a net casting time
of 1/4.

Stone Rain is like a halfway point between explosion and thunderflare. It 
stuns better than explosion, but not as well as Thunderflare, or even lightning
strike. It does have an advantage over thunderflare, however, that one Stone 
Rain bleeds into the next, like explosions do, and it does more damage than 
even LS -> TF.  Unfortunately, it seems that a lot of non-boss enemies (and
probably a few bosses) are Earth Absorbing, thus I can't whole heartedly advise
you go the Stone Rain route, unless you're just doing it for fun, and know the
limitations.




Flare Adray
*Exapanded Info Coming Soon*








Tactics - Setting and Formation
Sophia's AI is best set on "Concentrate on Healing/Recovery".  It's even more 
effective than Concentrate on attacking.  I don't know why, but that just seems
to be the way it is.  You want the formation to be Loose Line (Sophia at the 
bottom of the screen),  Guard, or Escape, depending on the situation.  Loose 
Line most useful when leveling or getting money when you're fighting the same 
enemy repetitively and you know that she'll be farthest away from enemies in 
that position and the other characters will be very close in those positions.

Guard and Escape are used under the notion that the other two characters will 
intercept enemies leaving her to cast at will.  Escape is preferable when both
character are short-range fighters.  Guard is preferable when one or both
characters are long-range fighters or have skills set such that they are
intended as long-range fighters.




Tactics - Practice
Against general enemies, set the formation as you see fit and have at it.  
There is really nothing special to worry about.  Against bosses on the other 
hand...

You pretty much have to rely on making the action happen in one corner of the 
arena, and setting Sophia in the opposite corner.  If you're controlling 
Sophia, your other characters must be able act as decoys.  This means being 
able to stay alive for about one minute by themselves without your 
intervention.  Having high defense layered with the Protection spell is a good 
way to go.  Your Formation is going to be Escape.  Start off the Battle with 
all your characters set to Manual, and Sophia should be wearing a pair of Bunny
Shoes.  Have one of the other characters use taunt, then hold out until the 
boss moves towards you. Once the boss is within attacking range, use a stun 
bomb, and have Sophia start running to the opposite corner.  When she is able 
halfway across the battlefield, turn your other characters off manual.  Get to 
the other end of the battlefield, and equip whatever it was you took off to 
wear Bunny Shoes.  At this point you get to start bombarding with Explosions, 
Thunderflares, and Lightning Strikes like a madwoman.  You can control other 
characters for short periods of time but don't do if for too more than a few 
seconds at a time (preferable right after she's started a combo), because she 
is kinda stupid and tends to run in with manual attacks when it's not needed.  





Full Active Mode:
If you happen to unlock Full Active mode, you can do even more damage by 
starting with a weak attack, then starting the cancel chain at 175% rather than
100%.  This means your final spell will be at 300%.  To do this, you'll need a
total of -4 fury reduction.  I recommend you get it from the -3 built into your
Staff and the -2 from Victory trophy.  Also, you might as well ditch the
Blazing Pendant and live with taking damage from Freya and Lenneth, as if
you've unlocked FAM, you probably already got those trophies.






Conclusion:
Well, that's about it.  I think I've covered all the basics.  If nothing else, 
I hope I've convinced you that Sophia (and magic in general) is not as totally
worthless as it first appears to the casual observer.  I would like to include
in my thanks the author of the original "Abusing Sophia Guide on 4D" so if you
know who that was, let me know.

Contact Information:
I can be reached via email at sifian42@yahoo.com. Please use a subject line 
that explicitly refers to this guide.

Acknowledgements:
Tri-Ace for making the game
Square-Enix for publishing the game
GameFAQs, for being a great repository of knowledge and a gather point for like
minded people.
AIex, for the IC tables that helped me immensely.
randomstuff, for the incredicle item creation calculator
Ladysoalluring, Kaiyan Wang, Marty81 and Hotaru, for all the feedback they gave
me while writing this guide.









Appendix:




Battle Skill Damage Comparisons:
Here is how the damage of some of Sophia's Better spells stack up.  This is 
totally based off of 9999 INT and max proficiency.  The numbers given is the 
sum total of the expected damage done by a cancel combo chain, starting from 
100% and chaining up to 250% (300% in the case of TF->TF).  The first list is 
what can be expected against an average enemy.  The second is the what can be 
expected against an enemy strong to the element in question, but you're using 
an accessory that increases spell damage of that type by 50%.



Raw Damage Comparisons

Thunderflare -> Thunderflare: 175811 -> 237680
Ltn.Strike   -> Thunderflare: 245210
Stone Rain   -> Stone Rain:   278742
Laser Beams  -> Laser Beams:  317104
Explosion    -> Explosion:    492287

Damage to Enemy Strong to Element + 50% damage

Thunderflare -> Thunderflare: 131858 -> 178260
Ltn.Strike   -> Thunderflere: 183907
Stone Rain   -> Stone Rain:   209056
Laser Beams  -> Laser Beams:  317104
Explosion    -> Explosion:    369215

This would mean that it would take Sophia 162 chains to whittle down 4D Freya's 
HP.  At roughly 2 chains per minute that would be 81 min.  It took me about 30 
min to kill 4d Freya, meaning that Sophia probably did on the order of 3/8 of 
the total damage, my maria did 5/8, and my third character was a dummy 
character who helped out more by being kept alive doing nothing than he did on 
auto.




Item Creation Primer:

This is not supposed to a full item creation FAQ, but rather a primer to help 
you with a few things I mentioned in the guide.
Your best general resources on item creation are:

Item Creation FAQ - by A I e x (general info)
Item Refining FAQ - by Demonfayt (descriptions of items and how they refine)
Item Creation Calculator - www.crashedweb.com/so3

Once you unlock the use of workshops, you can do item creation.  Original 
creation creates new items based on price, and requires nothing but time and 
money to do.  When doing original invention you will see a progress and quality
meter.  Progress is the current progress on one item.  Quality refers to how 
well your characters are working.  It will decrease with each iteration and the 
likelihood of creating another item successfully also goes down.  Specify plan 
will refine certain factors and requires materials corresponding to the type of 
item creation you wish to do.  Synthesis requires synthesis materials and is 
used to transfer properties from one item onto a weapon.  You can see if a you 
have had any success based on the character's reactions.  Happy = Success, Sad =
Failure.  To get items created through original creation, you must request 
submission.  To get specify plans to work, you simply wait until you get a 
notice that item creation is complete (but don't let your money or quality run 
out or you'll get nothing).








Creating Factors:
It's not entirely obvious where the various factors needed on Sophia's weapon 
come from, so I'll explain the easiest way to get each.  I'm assuming you 
understand the basics of item creation and synthesis, and that you also know 
where to get all the inventors.  If you don't, please refer to item creation 
guide by A I e x.  Just a note, the teams I suggest are not picked for their 
high creation skill, but rather to eliminate overlap.  I advise you use them, 
because while it may be harder to make an item, you'll be saved much 
frustration by not making heaps of items you don't need.  I would also like to
add that pretty much all of this info is taken directly from the item creation
guide, by A I e x, and from the item creation calculator, by randomstuff.

 
-->Adept Staff
While not exactly a factor, this is the best base weapon for Sophia, as it has 
all 8 factor-spaces free, and it gives an innate INT boost.  It can be 
purchased from the Retail Rabbit in western Peterny, or Rumina and Ruddle in NW
Aquios.  The retail rabbit only stocks the Adept staff on disc 2, and requires
that you speak to him less than 3 times in disc 1.  The Rumina and Ruddle shop
is available only after returning from Sphere 211, and is inside of what
appears to be a private residence.

-->+1000 INT
This factor is derived from the Dark Crystal, which is created by alchemy 
exclusively by Ansala. The best team for this is:
Ansala + Misty Lear + Sophia at 3340-3390 
The factor on the Dark Crystal is +500 INT, which needs to be refined.  You can
choose to refine it directly via alchemy, or you can synth it onto the weapon
in unrefined form and refine via smithery.  I prefer the latter, as you can
refine multiple factors at a time that way.  One last note is that when
synthesizing, you MUST synthesize for only one pass of the synthesis, because
you don't want the second factor on the crystal, Chaos (attack Effect).  +1000 
INT does not duplicate, so you must do a separate synthesis for every +1000 INT
that you want.

-->+30% INT Increase
This factor comes from a refined Bangle of Intellect.  There is a very good 
chance that this has already been invented by the time you're ready to settle 
down and make Sophia's weapon, so check the invention list first.  If it hasn't
been invented, I recommend you use one of the following teams, in order of best
ability to least.
Aqua & Evia + Peppita + Roger at 331-365
Aqua & Evia + Cliff + Roger at 304-334 
Aqua & Evia + Cliff + Adray at 386-426
Beware of item overlap on the edges.  Yes, I know how badly Cliff and Adray 
suck a crafting, but these teams eliminate all items with values identical to 
the Bangle of Intellect.  Just a forewarning, this still includes some overlap 
with the Ring of Might, which is very hard to make.  If you fail more that 3-4 
times consecutively, give up and try again.  Like with the Dark Crystal, only 
let the synthesis bar fill as many times as you which to transfer factors onto 
the weapon, as you may or may not want both of them on your weapon. Also like 
with Dark Crystals, you can choose refine them directly, or refine the weapon 
afterwards.

-->6% MP recovery at intervals during battle
This factor comes from a refined Ring of Mental Power.  The ideal teams are:
Chilico + Peppita + Mirage at 199-219
Chilico + Mirage + Sophia at 168-184
There is still a lot of overlap in this one that you can't do anything about.  
These teams at least eliminate the loathable "Feline Guardian" and "Adorable 
Kitty Doll", both of which I have seen crafted FAR too many times.

-->-3 Fury use
Comes from refined Ring of Animosity.  Your ideal team is:
Chilico + Mirage + Fayt at 566-624
Thankfully, you can eliminate ALL overlap on this one.

-->+50% damage for fire-based spells
Comes from refined Flare Ring.  Your team is:
Sophia + Chilico + Aqua & Evia at 813-897
This overlaps will all 4 elemental rings, so you could get it on the first try
or the 10th try depending on your luck.  Depending on your play style, you may
want to hang onto a Wind Ring in addition to the Flare Ring.

-->1/2 Casting Time
Comes from Star Pendant.  Your team is:
Chilico + Aqua & Evia + Sophia at 3700-4100
You can also get this factor from a refined Emerald Earring, but this is just
easier.


-->Blazing Pendant
This accessory is not meant to be synthesized onto a weapon.  It comes with
Recover HP of 1/20 dmg from fire attacks.  When you refine it, evolves in a
succession of:
Recover HP of 1/20 dmg from fire attacks
Recover HP of 1/20 dmg from water attacks
Recover HP of 1/20 dmg from earth attacks
Recover HP of 1/20 dmg from wind attacks
Recover MP of 1/10 dmg from fire attacks
Recover MP of 1/10 dmg from water attacks
Recover MP of 1/10 dmg from earth attacks
Recover MP of 1/10 dmg from wind attacks
Now... the next stage in each evolution can occur in two ways, it can either 
change the existing stage into the next, or it can add the next stage without 
changing it.  Put in simpler words, you could refine it 7 times and depending 
on how your luck went, you could end up with all 8 factors, or you might end up
with just "Recover MP of 1/10 dmg from wind attacks".  Depending on your level 
of patience (with saving and resetting), you want at most HP recovery from all 
4 elements, or at least HP recovery from Earth and Wind.  As has been mentioned
several times, Earth and Wind are essential for getting the no damage trophies 
vs. Lenneth and Freya.  Just a note, it must be Recover HP in order to null the
damage, because with recover MP, the damage is still dealt, you just gain MP 
while being hurt.  To create the Blazing Pendant, you want the following party:
Chilico + Peppita at 360-400 (this group has no overlap!)
Chilico (solo) at 325-360
Every other crafter has massive overlap in this price range so these are 
basically your only options.  Chilico solo with the cherubic bust still has a 
50% chance of making it, so it's really not a bad deal.

-->Skill Tomes
All skill books have the same base cost of 1500, so it's always a crapshoot to 
see if you get the one you want.  Quick Symbol is learned from the Brittle 
Tome, authored by Sophia, Maria, Mirage and Osman for a difficulty of 100.  
Increase MP is learned from Fading Tome, authored by Osman, for a difficulty of
99. Convert Damage is learned from the Tattered Tome, authored by nearly all 
authors (Fayt can do it for you) at a difficulty of 40.







About Decoys:

On Galaxy and Universe, the damage dealt by any enemy can be totally nulled by 
reaching a defense of 5000, though on Universe, it is necessary to cast the 
Protection spell on them.  The easiest characters to do this with are Fayt and 
Mirage.  Fayt should have a fully refined Valiant mail, and Mirage should have 
fully refined Dragon Leather, to be replaced by Valkyrie garb as soon as 
possible.  Lenneth's attack is low enough it can be nulled without requiring 
the garb.  Both characters should have their best smithable weapons (Veinslay 
and Mithril Gauntlet respectively) completely filled with +30% ATT/DEF factors. 
This factor comes from refining Boots of Prowess, craftable by Chilico.  (check
another FAQ for more details).  Their accessories should be one fully refined 
Boots of Prowess and a Tri-Emblem.  The tri-emblem will add 1000 ATT and 50 DEF 
to the base ATT and DEF, plus it has lots of nice factors, making it much 
better than using any "Ultimate weapons".  If Mirage doesn't quite reach 5000 
DEF like this (in one of my games her DEF was only 5012) a couple of Def 
Berries will for sure do the trick.  Cliff can be substituted for either 
character, but he will need DEF Berries, and even when giving him all Def 
Berries in the game, it is possible in some games that he will never reach 5000 
DEF.  Also, in order to reach 5000 DEF, he must use 10x BoP, thus no tri-
Emblem.

On 4D you have a different situation, because damage can't be nulled.  I'll 
just describe my personal setup.

Sophia (Flare Version)

Cliff:
Mithril Gauntlets with 8x BoP
Accessories: Tri-Emblem, Red Talismen.
Maxxed out HP with Health Berries
Skills:  Fists of Fury on both short, First Aid and common support symbols
Using Convert Damage -> Preserve MP

Main idea of cliff is he's a tank, who will kill as much damage as possible 
with his defense, and regenerate a lot with first aid.

Maria (aka the MP tank):
Dragoon Laser
-->+1000 ATT
-->+30% ATT/DEF
-->+30% ATT/DEF
-->+30% ATT/DEF
-->No HP Damage 30% of the time
-->No MP Damage 30% of the time
-->6% MP Regen
-->6% MP Regen
Accessory 1: Tri-Emblem
Accessory 2: Star Talisman
Armor: Valkyrie Garb
Use all Magi+ berries on her
Convert Damage -> Preserve HP
AI: Act in well-balanced Manner, except vs Freya, where it was Attack will all 
Might.

Skills:
Short X: None
Long X: Aiming Device
Short O: None
Long O: Energy Burst
Support: Max Fury (learned from Moldy Tome)
Support: Critical Hit MP

With this setup, Maria's Mp will be around 32000, and will actually be able to 
survive Freya's attacks and usually regenerate the MP lost before taking 
another serious injury.  Just a warning though, she'll still die if hit by 
Ether Strike.


Critical Fight Details:

Gabriel Celesta:
This is before I made my decoy's weapons, so he was a handful.  What I ended up 
doing was setting Sophia up with thunderflare, and controlling Cliff to chain 
Fists of Fury, the combination of these attacks was really good at keeping 
Gabriel in place, while minimal damage was dealt to my party.  Maria's Skillset 
was the same as suggested above.

Super Blair:
Usually one of the hardest bosses.  She didn't give me any problems using the 
above setup.  I was controlling Flare Sophia.

Lenneth:
Keeping her in place is more important than doing her damage.  I controlled 
Sophia chaining thunderflares, while occasionally casting protection on Cliff.  
Cliff took net damage over time, but healed himself as needed.  I got all 
trophies at the same time.

Ethereal Queen:
Flare Sophia.  She's awkward in the sense that you cannot keep her pinned on 
one end of the arena.  Just run along when she does move so you keep maximum 
distance.  I don't think she ever successfully pulled Celestial Star, but if 
she does just throw a stun bomb at her.

Freya:
This is where the tactics change.  There was no way I could keep Cliff from 
dying instantaneously, so I ended up turning him into Maria's decoy.  I set him 
on Manual, with AAA set to Standard, and equipped a Blazing Pendant.  The 
beauty of this is he'll stop Freya in her tracks if she ever pulls a weak 
attack, and he's a great target for magic.  Every spell cast on cliff is a 
spell that isn't cast on Maria or Sophia, so he's definitely worth keeping 
alive for that reason alone.  Occasionally you may have to take Cliff off 
manual every now and then to get him back into the middle of action, because he 
can't AAA anything if the action goes too far away from him.  Maria's Energy 
Burst will disrupt many Ether Strikes, but not all of them, thus if one ever 
gets out, be prepared to pop an analeptic as soon as possible.  Using this 
strategy I killed Freya in about half an hour.  It's not quite the 23 min 
benchmark I've heard, but it's a hell of a lot faster than the 1 hour allotted 
you.

Urssa Cave Temple:
Everything was laughably easy.  I controlled Maria, and Fayt died after 3 
energy bursts, and Luther didn't take much longer.





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