One of the other specificities of Final Fantasy Tactics is the ability to recruit monsters onto your team. They function just like any other unit, with the difference that they can’t wear any equipment and can’t change jobs. Instead, there are three tiers of increasing power within each of the 16 monster types, with different abilities at their command. E.g. Chocobos can be yellow (the basic kind), black (can fly) or red (very fast). This makes each individual monster less versatile than a human unit, but that doesn’t mean you should outright discount them. The most powerful monsters (e.g. Tiamat, Dark Behemoth) can easily cause devastation among enemy ranks. Each monster also has Counter as an innate skill.
Any monsters on your team will reproduce, as long as there is space left on the roster. Oddly enough, you only need one monster of a given species to produce offspring, and they don’t appear to have genders. I guess Ivalice’s wildlife is entirely comprised of hermaphrodites. Oh, and they all lay eggs, even the species that look like they should be mammals. These oddities aside, low-tier monsters can produce offspring of any tier (although the colour of the egg isn’t an indication of what you will obtain), so, for instance, a regular Behemoth can produce a Dark Behemoth. The other interesting fact is that killing a monster with the Secret Hunt/Poach ability equipped will send its remains to a Fur Shop/Poacher’s Den, which will make one of two items out of it, either a common or a rare one. This is the only way to obtain some of these items, so it’s a profitable venture. You can poach enemy monsters as well, but it’s a lot easier to produce your own poaching material, cruel as it sounds.
Chocobos: These large birds, part-ostrich, part-chicken, are one of the mascots of the FF series. They’re good all-rounders, have some handy abilities and can be very annoying when encountered as enemies. The main unique feature of friendly chocobos is that they can be used as mounts during combat: just move one of your characters to the same tile, and they’ll hitch a ride. This grants them the superior mobility of a chocobo and full status immunity, for some reason, all the while retaining their own abilities. The game even gives you the possibility of recruiting a yellow chocobo called Boco as part of the storyline.
- Chocobo: The typical yellow kind. It’s the weakest of the lot, but has the advantage of being able to cure itself or allies, as well as attack. Given a party member with Monster Skill/Beastmaster, it can also use Choco Esuna to cure status afflictions.
- Black Chocobo: As the name indicates, it’s a purplish/black colour. It’s also the slowest type of chocobo (and one of the slowest monsters overall), with the lowest HP. However, it has the highest attack power and evasion of its kind, and can fly. It can use Choco Esuna and has a long-range attack called Choco Ball/Choco Pellets. With Monster Skill/Beastmaster, it can also use Choco Meteor.
- Red Chocobo: It’s bright red and the fastest of its kind, with the most harmonious stats. It’s actually one of the fastest monsters in the game, along with the Tiamat and Pigs. It’s less evasive than its counterparts, but has Ignore Height/Ignore Elevation as a trait, so terrain is a non-issue for it. It’s more offensively focused, knowing all three chocobo attacks (including Choco Meteor). With Monster Skill/Beastmaster, it can use Choco Cure. Its rare poach is a Barette (a female-exclusive accessory).
Goblins: Diminutive furry critters with large ears and protruding canines, wearing caps and jackets, Goblins are really nothing to write home about. While the Gobbledeguck/Gobbledygook can do relatively well in melee, they’re otherwise easy to kill and have a weakness to ice. They don’t have anything useful to poach either.
- Goblin: Your run-of-the-mill Goblin mook, brown with a red cap and jacket. It knows Eye Gouge, which has a chance of blinding the target and…that’s it. With Monster Skill/Beastmaster, it can use Goblin Punch, which inflicts damage in proportion to the amount of HP it’s lost, which can be mildly dangerous.
- Black Goblin: Same as the above, only with black clothes. It’s only slightly faster and a tiny bit more evasive. Instead of Eye Gouge, it knows the marginally better Turn Punch/Spin Punch, which deals damage to all surrounding targets. Like its predecessor, it can use Goblin Punch with Monster Skill/Beastmaster.
- Gobbledeguck/Gobbledygook: It’s a greyish brown and wears green clothes. Slightly more powerful, faster and more evasive than its predecessors, it knows all of their attacks plus Goblin Punch. With Monster Skill/Beastmaster, it can use the fairly dangerous Mutilate/Bloodfeast, which allows it to drain ¾ of a target’s HP, but it’s really not worth getting one just for that.
Bombs: These floating balls of fire with faces and carnivorous grins are one of the mainstays of the FF bestiary. They can be an interesting option, despite not being very speedy or much good in melee. They absorb fire and, oddly, take only half damage from ice. What’s more, they float, so they’re immune to earth attacks, and the one element they’re weak to (water) is rare. Their trademark move is Self-Destruct, which will kill off the Bomb, but damage all surrounding enemies by the amount of HP it has left and inflict any survivors with the ‘Oil’ status, which should theoretically make them weak to fire…but is actually glitched.
- Bomb: The typical red kind. It’s slow, has limited range, is fairly weak and has no means of capitalising on its good magic stat. With Monster Skill/Beastmaster, it can use Small Bomb/Bomblet, which is just a slightly better physical attack.
- Grenade: It’s blue instead of red and even weaker in melee than its predecessor, despite being slightly faster. Small Bomb/Bomblet is part of its regular arsenal, but, for some reason, is now considered as a magical attack. It can also use another magical attack (Flame Attack) with Monster Skill/Beastmaster.
- Explosive/Exploder: This one is grey. It’s slightly better in melee than its counterparts, but as slow as the regular Bomb. It has a fire-elemental magic attack called Spark, which is pretty nifty, as it will not only damage surrounding units, but also heal the Explosive/Exploder. It can also use Small Bomb/Bomblet (the magical kind) with Monster Skill/Beastmaster.
Panthers: As the name implies, these are large felines. They’re fairly potent in melee, have innate Ignore Elevation, and are both fast and evasive, but their abilities mostly focus on status effects that have a low success rate (especially when used by your own team). They’re also weak to earth, so enemy Summoners and Monks can be a liability.
- Red Panther: It’s actually a sandy colour, rather than red. Not much to write home about except its evasion and the fact that it can inflict Poison with its Poison Nail/Venom Fang attack. With Monster Skill/Beastmaster, it can also use Cat Kick/Cat Scratch.
- Cuar/Coeurl: This one is a greyish-blue colour. It’s faster and better in melee than its predecessor, as well as being the most evasive of the three, and has Poison Nail/Venom Fang and Cat Kick/Cat Scratch as regular attacks. With Monster Skill/Beastmaster, it can also use Blaster, which can inflict either Stone or Stop.
- Vampire (Cat): Dark purple in colour. Faster and more powerful than either of its counterparts, it’s slightly less evasive than the Cuar/Coeurl. It knows the more useful Blaster as a regular attack instead of Poison Nail/Venom Fang. With Monster Skill/Beastmaster, it can also use Blood Suck/Vampire, which not only drains 25% of the target’s HP, but also has a 25% chance of inflicting the Vampire status.
Mindflayers: They look like humanoid squid in robes and are also a recurrent enemy in the FF series. While the lower two ranks are not dangerous, the actual Mindflare/Mindflayer can quickly become a party’s worst nightmare, due to its Mind Blast ability, which can cause either Confusion or Berserk. Other than that, however, Mindflayers are lacklustre in combat and have a notable weakness to lightning. They absorb water, but considering how rare water-elemental attacks are, it’s hardly an advantage.
- Pisco Demon/Piscodaemon: A reddish-pink squid in a brown robe. It’s rather slow and weak, and only has one measly melee attack to its name. With Monster Skill/Beastmaster, it can use (Black) Ink, which can inflict Blindness on all surrounding targets. Yay.
- Squidlarkin/Squidraken: A purple squid in a green robe. It’s even slower than its predecessor, with only a tiny evasion gain to compensate. It knows Black Ink/Ink as a regular attack, as well as Odd Soundwave/Dischord, which removes positive status effects from surrounding targets. It can use Mind Blast with Monster Skill/Beastmaster, but that’s a very minor perk.
- Mindflare/Mindflayer: A pale green squid in a bright red robe, and the only real threat of the lot. It has the same speed at the Pisco Demon/Piscodaemon, but packs a bit more of a punch and is slightly more evasive. Instead of Odd Soundwave/Dischord, it knows Mind Blast and isn’t afraid to use it. With Monster Skill/Beastmaster, it can also use Level Blast/Level Drain, which will lower a target’s level by 1. Interesting, but nowhere near as deadly as Mind Blast.
Skeletons: Horned skellies in capes. They can use elemental attacks, and if they get killed, there’s a 50% chance that they’ll rise again when their timer runs out, instead of crystallising, albeit with a random amount of HP. They’re also immune to Poison. However, their attacks aren’t very varied, they’re slow, and due to their being undead, they’re weak to both fire and holy. The latter also includes curative magic, so you won’t be able to heal them in combat, short of using a move that drains HP (and will therefore damage the user when used on an undead target).
- Skeleton: It has a blue cape and a lightning-elemental magic attack. With Monster Skill/Beastmaster, it can also use a water-elemental one. Other than that, it’s rather slow and otherwise unremarkable.
- Bone Snatch/Bonesnatch: It’s yellower than its counterparts, has grey horns instead of brown and a green cape. It’s slower than its predecessor, but a bit stronger and more evasive. It can use a water-elemental attack, which is less useful than the lightning one. With Monster Skill/Beastmaster, it can also use an ice-elemental one.
- Living Bone/Skeletal Fiend: It has a red cape and identical stats to the Skeleton, barring its slightly higher evasion. It can use an ice-elemental attack, and a wind-elemental one with Monster Skill/Beastmaster.
Ghosts: Spirits in ragged cloaks that specialise in status effects. As far as undead monsters go, they’re more useful than Skeletons, with significantly better evasion and movement range. Oh, and they can teleport. And, like Skeletons they have a 50% chance of reviving after death and are immune to Poison. Also, since they float, they’re impervious to earth-elemental attacks. However, they’re weak to fire and holy, and you’re SoL if you need to heal them.
- Ghoul: A purple ghost in a yellow cloak. It’s the slowest of the lot and the easiest to hit, but has arguably the most annoying ability, as it can put targets to Sleep pretty consistently, given its high magic stat. With Monster Skill/Beastmaster, it can also inflict Oil, which is far less useful.
- Gust/Ghast: A grey ghost in a red cloak. While it’s faster and slightly more evasive than its predecessor, it also has the least useful skillset, as it can inflict Oil (which does nothing in the original game) instead of Sleep. With Monster Skill/Beastmaster, it can also use Drain Touch, which will drain 1/3 of the target’s HP.
- Revenant: A yellow ghost in a green cloak. It has the highest speed, evasion and magic stat of the lot and knows Drain Touch as a regular ability, which makes it fairly annoying to fight. With Monster Skill/Beastmaster, it can inflict the Zombie status, which is almost as useless as Oil.
Ahrimans: These monsters consist of a large eyeball with legs, a tail and bat wings, and are also a recurring presence in the FF series. Much like Mindflayers, they have some nasty status effects in their skillset. They also have a good movement range, take half damage from wind-elemental attacks and can actually hit pretty hard. However, they’re very slow and have a weakness to ice.
- Flotiball/Floating Eye: A green eyeball with orange wings. It’s the weakest of the three and has no regular ability to make use of its passable magic stat. It can only use Look of Fright/Dread Gaze (lowers Brave(ry) by 10) with Monster Skill/Beastmaster.
- Ahriman: A yellow eyeball with purple wings. This guy is significantly more annoying than its predecessor: it’s a little faster, stronger and has a better magic stat, which it can put to use with Look of Fright/Dread Gaze and Look of Devil/Bewitching Gaze, which can inflict Stone, Blind, Silence, Immobilise and Disable. With Monster Skill/Beastmaster, it can also inflict Death Sentence/Doom.
- Plague (Horror): A red eyeball with black wings. Surprisingly enough, it’s weaker, slower and less evasive than its predecessor. It can use Death Sentence/Doom instead of Look of Fright/Dread Gaze, but Look of Devil/Bewitching Gaze is very much on its menu. With Monster Skill/Beastmaster, it can also use Circle/Beam, which lowers a target’s magic attack.
Aevis: These are large birds, which are actually not half bad in combat. They have a good movement range, speed and evasion, and can hit pretty hard. They also take half damage from wind-elemental attacks, although they’re weak to earth-elemental ones (due to landing between every move).
- Juravis/Jura Aevis: A blue bird with white feathers on its chest and head. It’s the slowest of the lot and has very little to offer in terms of attacks. It can use Featherbomb with Monster Skill/Beastmaster, but that’s it.
- Steel Hawk/Steelhawk: A grey bird with yellow feathers on its chest and head. It’s a good deal faster than its predecessor, but slightly less evasive. However, its abilities are still not very good, as its only extra normal attack…steals gil from the target. However, with Monster Skill/Beastmaster, it can also use Beak, which can petrify the target.
- Cockatoris/Cockatrice: A black bird with bright pink feathers on its chest and head. It’s fast, it’s evasive, it hits hard and has Beak as a regular attack, which makes it a lot more dangerous than its counterparts. With Monster Skill/Beastmaster, it can also lower a target’s physical attack.
Treants: Sentient humanoid trees with leaves that look like hair, and among the worst monsters of the lot. They’re very slow, have low mobility, no evasion and a weakness to fire, which is one of the most commonly-used elements. They can absorb earth, but that’s hardly a compensation. Their only interesting quality is that they’re one of the rare monsters with curative and buffing abilities. But honestly, you’d be better off using a plain Chocobo instead.
- Woodman/Dryad: A brown tree with green leaves. It has a magic attack in its arsenal and a good magic stat to back it up, but that’s about it. With Monster Skill/Beastmaster, it can also use Protect Spirit/Guardian Nymph, which casts Protect.
- Tre(a)nt: A grey tree with pink leaves. It’s weaker than its predecessor in every way and just as slow. However, it knows Spirit of Life/Life Nymph, which restores HP. With Monster Skill/Beastmaster, it can also use Clam Spirit/Shell Nymph, which casts Shell.
- Taiju/Elder Treant: A greenish tree with golden leaves. Its stats are identical to the Woodman/Dryad, except for its higher HP. It knows both Protect Spirit/Guardian Nymph and Clam Spirit/Shell Nymph, and, with Monster Skill/Beastmaster, it can also use Magic Spirit/Magick Nymph, which restores MP. Its rare poach is a Defender sword.
Minotaurs: Bipedal bulls with axes. These guys hit really hard and are always a threat to be reckoned with, especially the Sacred/Sekhret. They also have a lot of HP, so they’re difficult to kill. Their main problems are their bad movement range and speed. They’re also weak to water, but that’s hardly an issue.
- Bull Demon/Wisenkin: A grey bull with brown horns. It’s slow and not particularly strong, and has an inexplicably high magic stat (as it doesn’t have any magic attacks). With Monster Skill/Beastmaster, it can use Gather Power/Beef Up to raise its attack power.
- Minitaurus/Minotaur: A reddish-brown bull with purple horns. It’s just as slow as its predecessor, but significantly stronger and more evasive. On top of its regular physical attack, it now has Wave Around/Feral Spin, which damages all surrounding units. With Monster Skill/Beastmaster, it can also use Blow/Breathe Fire, which puts that high magic stat to use.
- Sacred/Sekhret: A purple bull with dark brown horns. This guy is just as strong as the Minitaurus/Minotaur but significantly faster as well, which makes it very dangerous. Instead of Wave Around/Feral Spin, it can use an earth-elemental magic attack called Mimic Titan/Earthsplitter (and yes, it still has that high magic stat) and Gather Power/Beef Up. With Monster Skill/Beastmaster, it can also use Blow/Breathe Fire.
Malboros: Another staple of the FF bestiary, these disgusting, slimy, tentacled carnivorous plants are named after Marlboro cigarettes because of their trademark Bad Breath attack, which inflicts a plethora of negative status effects. This can be extremely crippling, but they’re otherwise slow, not very mobile, have no evasion and are weak to ice. One thing worth noting, however, is that, due to their size, you can climb on top of them to reach higher ground.
- Morbol/Malboro: A bright green mass of tentacles and slime. This one is actually not much of a threat, because it can only use Bad Bracelet/Bad Breath (why “bracelet” instead of “breath”? the world may never know) with Monster Skill/Beastmaster. Otherwise, it’s slow and rather weak. Its only other notable skill is Lick (eww), which grants the Reflect status to an ally.
- Ochu: This one is a dirty beige colour and even less dangerous than its predecessor, because it has fewer HP and can’t use Bad Bracelet/Bad Breath at all. Instead, it has Goo, which inflicts Don’t Move/Immobilise. With Monster Skill/Beastmaster, it can also use Lick.
- Great Morbol/Greater Malboro: This one is blue, and although it’s just as slow as its counterparts and slightly weaker, it has a lot of HP and Bad Bracelet/Bad Breath as a regular attack, which makes it a lot more dangerous. With Monster Skill/Beastmaster, it can use the truly nasty Molball Virus/Malboro Spores, which will permanently turn a target into a Morbol/Malboro, with no possible cure. What’s more, its common poach is an Elixir.
Behemoths: These large hulking horned beasts are another FF staple and among the best monsters you can recruit. They have no elemental weaknesses, good abilities, top-notch HP, strength and magic, and the Dark Behemoth even has decent speed for its size, meaning that they’re tough to kill and can really dish out the hurt. They also have some interesting poaches and can be climbed upon to reach higher ground. So do yourself a favour and get one of these babies for your party.
- Behemoth: A large purple beast with a yellow mane and red horns. It’s a bit slow compared to its successors, but its other stats are already very high. It can use Stab Up/Gore, which is just a physical attack, but a nasty one, and Sudden Cry/Heave, which has a chance of KO’ing the target outright. With Monster Skill/Beastmaster, it can also put its high magic stat to use with Giga Flare/Gigaflare.
- King Behemoth/Behemoth King: Yellow with a green mane and blue horns. This guy is speedier and packs even more of a punch than its predecessor. It has the same abilities as the Behemoth, except for its Monster Skill/Beastmaster attack, Hurricane/Twister, which takes away 1/3 of the target’s HP. Its common poach is a Cherche (female-exclusive accessory).
- Dark Behemoth: Dark green with an orange mane and yellow horns. You don’t want to mess with this fellow. It’s extremely strong and durable, but also faster and more evasive than its predecessors. It has the same regular attacks, but its Monster Skill/Beastmaster attack is called Ulmagust/Almagest and deals damage proportional to the amount of HP the Dark Behemoth has lost. Considering how much it has to begin with, this can be devastating without even endangering the big guy itself. Its rare poach is a Stone Gun/Stoneshooter.
Dragons: The large four-legged kind with tiny wings. They’re not as overwhelming as Behemoths, but they’re faster and have a better movement range. They also benefit from being accompanied by a Dragonkin Reis. They specialise in elemental attacks, and you may even be better served by a Blue Dragon rather than a Red one, depending on what you’re fighting. They also have interesting poaches and can be climbed upon to reach higher ground.
- Dragon: This one is green. While it already has good physical and magic stats, it’s slower than its successors and has no elemental attacks. With Monster Skill/Beastmaster, it can use Tail Swing/Tail Sweep, which deals randomised damage.
- Blue Dragon: Three guesses as to its colour. It has better speed and slightly higher evasion than its predecessor. It can use Ice Bracelet/Ice Breath, which can come in extremely handy, considering that many enemies are weak to ice (notably Ahrimans, Malboros and Hydras). With Monster Skill/Beastmaster, it can also use Thunder Bracelet/Thunder Breath, which helps against Mindflayers. Its common poach is a Cashmere (for Dancers), and its rare poach is a Dragon Rod.
- Red Dragon: C.f. the name. It has all around better stats than its predecessors and is very fast. The problem is that, unlike what you might expect, it has Thunder Bracelet/Thunder Breath as a standard attack, which is noticeably less useful than fire. You need Monster Skill/Beastmaster to get it to use Fire Bracelet/Fire Breath. Its common poach is a Salty Rage/Sortilège (FYI, “sortilège” means “magic spell, charm” in French, so the vanilla translation is particularly ludicrous here), a female-exclusive accessory, and its rare poach is a Dragon Whisker lance.
Hydras: I love these guys. They’re my favourite monsters of the lot and possibly the best you can recruit, in spite of some weaknesses. Then again, if they didn’t have any, they could simply team up with Cid and Reis, kick the game’s butt and go out for a drink. But I digress: they have no evasion, they’re weak to both ice and wind, and they’re not the physical juggernauts that Behemoths are. They’re also a bit worse at magic than Dragons. However, they’re very fast, have huge HP, and their three heads enable them to attack in three directions at once, which can be devastating. They can also benefit from a Dragonkin Reis accompanying them. They have good poaches as well and can be climbed upon to reach higher ground. Grab one for your party ASAP.
- Hy(u)dra: Rusty orange in colour, this is the ‘basic’ version in every way. While its stats are very good, it’s still the worst of its kind. Its normal attack is the aforementioned three-directional chomp, and with Monster Skill/Beastmaster, it can also use Triple Bracelet/Tri-Breath, which halves the targets’ HP. Its common poach is a Blood Sword.
- (Greater) Hydra: This guy is sooty grey. It’s faster, hardier and stronger than its predecessor, and can use Triple Flame/Tri-Flame on top of its normal attack. The catch is that the attack suffers from the Rafa/Rapha-Malak/Marach syndrome: it hits three times at random within a four-tile radius. However, since the range is smaller and the attack is stronger, it has a higher chance of dealing considerable damage. With Monster Skill/Beastmaser, it can also use Triple Thunder/Tri-Thunder. Its common poach is a Setemison/Septième (a female-exclusive accessory), and its rare poach is a Rubber Costume/Suit, which protects against lightning.
- Tiamat: This nasty bugger is a deceptively innocent off-white colour. It has the same stats as its predecessor, except that it’s even faster, which makes it one of the fastest monsters in the game, alongside the Red Chocobo and Pigs. It also has the strength and durability of a Dark Behemoth, and knows Triple Bracelet/Tri-Breath, Triple Flame/Tri-Flame and Triple Thunder/Tri-Thunder. And as if that weren’t enough, Monster Skill/Beastmaster allows it to use Dark Whisper, which is darkness-elemental, hits six times at random instead of three and has a chance of either putting the targets to sleep or KO’ing them outright. Its common poach is a Ryokan Silk/Wyrmweave Silk (best cloth weapon for Dancers), and its rare poach is a Whale Whisker lance.
Pigs: Adorable little bipedal oinkers. They’re mostly an in-game joke, as they’re very fragile and weak, and have silly ability names. Their only advantages are their speed (as high as a Red Chocobo’s or a Tiamat’s!), very high evasion and top-notch magic stat, which ups the likelihood of their status effects sticking. The real reason you’d want to recruit one, however, is their excellent poaches. So pigs for the slaughter, pretty much. The fact that they’re so cute really doesn’t help…
- Uribo/Pig: A yellowish colour. It’s the most evasive monster in the game and has a physical attack called Straight Dash/Reckless Charge, but its strength is so puny that there’s not much point in using it. Surprisingly, however, with Monster Skill/Beastmaster, it can use Oink/Squeak, which will revive a KO’ed comrade with full HP. Its common poach is a Cachusha (female-exclusive accessory).
- Porky/Swine: This one is most decidedly pink. It’s a tad hardier and stronger than its predecessor, although slightly less evasive, but it’s still no good in straight-up combat. On top of Straight Dash/Reckless Charge, it knows Pooh/Toot…which inflicts a target with Confusion or Sleep (no comment). With Monster Skill/Beastmaster, it can also use Nose Bracelet/Snort to Charm a human target. Its common poach is a Chantage (female-exclusive accessory).
- Wild Boar: It’s blue, and its stats are significantly better than those of its predecessors, but you can only breed this fella, as it never appears as an enemy (unlike what its name might imply). It has Nose Bracelet/Snort as a regular attack and a very…unique Monster Skill/Beastmaster ability called Please Eat/Bequeath Bacon. The poor lil’ guy turns itself into a roast to be eaten by another character, who will then level up (in WotL, this is notably the only way to level up Onion Knights). Its common poach is a Ribbon (female-exclusive accessory which protects against most status effects).