Most of my friends know that Final Fantasy VI is my favorite game of all time. I used to be completely obsessed with this game as a kid. I would play through it a couple of times a year, I've beaten the game using only a single character, I've beaten the game with all of the characters at level 7, and I've beaten several different user created mods. Once I got to college though, my obsession with this game tapered off and I no longer tried to do ridiculous challenges or play through it every time I was bored. In fact, I haven't played through this game in close to five years.
With Luke playing through the game right now, my interest in this game has peaked again. I decided that I was going to rank the characters for him so he could have all the information he could possibly need to build his final party. In addition, this game more than any other, seems to have very polarizing views regarding the characters. Several characters in the game are completely overhyped (like Sabin), while others don't get the respect they deserve (like Relm). So my second goal is to clear some of these misconceptions up ... assuming anyone even cares.
A couple of quick points before I get started. For this guide, I am assuming reasonable levels. Its pointless to compare the characters when everyone is level 99 and casting Ultima for 9999 damage. So what do I mean by reasonable levels? What the characters levels would be without any excessive grinding or Exp Egg abuse, which means that you should be no higher than level 30 during the Floating Continent and no higher than 60 during Kefka's Tower. I am also assuming that no glitches are being exploited. So no Vanish/Doom throughout the game, and no Relm's sketch glitch to get 99 of every item. Characters will be evaluated based on stats, abilities, and equipment.
Here is a quick description of character stats (these stats assume no equipment on and no Esper boosts):
Extra HP: How much HP the character gains per level.
Extra MP: How much MP the character gains per level.
Vigor: Stat that determines physical damage. Generally, 2 points of Vigor is 1 point of Battle Power.
Speed: How fast the ATB guage fills for the character.
Stamina: Determines how many HP gained for Regen, how much is lost for poison/seizure, and is used as a defense for sudden death attacks.
Magic Power: Determines damage dealt by Magical attacks.
Battle Power: The characters base battle power. This + Weapon's Battle Power = True Battle Power.
Defense: Character's base defense. This + Equipment and Relic Defenses = True Defense. This is only for physical attacks.
Evade: Due to a bug in the SNES version, this stat does nothing.
M. Defense: Same as defense stat but for magical attacks.
M. Block: Evasion percentage vs ALL attacks. This percentage is actually out of 128%. So 100% M.Block is not perfect evasion.
Overview/Stats: When Terra first joins, she is nothing special. Her magic is easily outclassed by Edgar's Tools and Sabin's Blitzes. Once she rejoins after the Magictek Factory, she really starts to shine. Teach her some level 2 spells and suddenly she'll be out damaging everyone else for the rest of the game. Her main strength is in her Magic Power stat, and she has the second best Magic Power in the game. The magic skill set is easily the best skill set in the game, so characters having a high Magic Power will almost always be out damaging every one else with thier spells. The rest of her stats are typical mage stats: High Magic Defens and M.Block, low Vigor and Defense.
Stats: Extra HP: 40 Extra MP: 16 Vigor: 31 Speed: 33 Stamina: 28 Magic Power: 39 Battle Power: 12 Defense: 42 Evade: 5% Magic Defense: 33 M. Block: 7%
Special: Terra's special is Morph, which means she can turn into an Esper temporarily during battle. While an Esper she does double physical and magical damage! You can't morph all the time though, which severally limits the usefulness in this ability. It is useful for a couple of early boss battles, but that's about it. It does not become available for use until Terra rejoins after the Magitek factory sequence. In addition, she is one of the two characters in the game which can learn spells without Espers, which is more nifty than anything else.
Equipment: The funny thing about Terra is although her base stats strongly hint that she should be a mage, her equipment hints that she should be a fighter. She is able to use Heavy Armor, swords and shields, in addition to certain mage equips and the female only equips. Basically, she can use almost every piece of equipment in the game. Her equipment is so good, that you can actually raise her as a fairly competent fighter if you equip her properly. She is one of the few characters in the game that can use Illumina, the game's ultimate sword. In addition, she can equip the Force Armor and Minerva, which are amongst the top tier in terms of armor. She can easily reach 128% M.Block with her equipment, making her basically invincible during the end of the game.
Overall, her high Magic Power, amazing equipment, and versatility make Terra a top tier character. Her only weakness is that she is mediocre at the beginning of the game.
Extra HP: 48 Extra MP: 7 Vigor: 37 Speed: 40 Stamina: 31 Magic Power: 28 Battle Power: 14 Defense: 46 Evade: 15% Magic Defense: 23 M. Block: 2%
Overview/Stats: Let me be honest here, at the beginning of the game Locke is terrible. He needs the Genji Glove equipped to even be passable in the World of Balance. Everyone else's Magic attacks and specials will out damage everything that he can do in the first half of the game. However, in the World of Ruin he becomes a competent fighter due to his amazing equips. It should be clear from Locke's stats that he is designed to be a fighter. He is tied with having the third worst Magic Power in the game, and even his physical stats aren't anything special really. He does have the best Speed out of everyone else in the game. It is a shame that Speed is hardly noticeable due to how the ATB gauge works. The only thing a high speed means, is that Locke might get his first turn faster than everyone else. This is hardly impressive.
Special: Locke has the steal ability, mean means there is the chance he can steal items from enemies. This chance is based on Locke's current level compared to the level of the monster he is stealing from. With the thief glove on, Steal becomes Capture, which is basically the fight command but with steal added in. This all sounds well and good, until you realize that there is nothing really worth stealing in this game. With a couple of exceptions, the only things you can really steal from enemies are really minor objects, such as potions or outdated equipment. Steal is good to make a few extra gil in the WOB, but that's about all it is good for.
Equipment: Luckily for Locke, his equipment is his saving grace. He is one of the few Illumina and Atma Weapon users in the game, which is always awesome. In the WOR, he gets a weapon called the Valiant Knife, which only he can use and happens to be one of the best weapons in the game. This weapon is defense piercing and does increased damage the lower his HP are. This weapon is great to use with the Offering, since it ignores the Offering's damage penalties. He is also one of the few Force Armor users, so it is easy for him to get his M.Block to 128% and make him invincible.
Locke is one of the most overrated characters in the game. If he didn't have his special equips, he would easily be bottom tier. He is awful for all of the World of Balance, and is only a decent fighter in the World of Ruin when using the Offering. Overall, Locke is a mid tier character.
To be continued...