Zodiark is an optional boss, and the most powerful Esper in Final Fantasy XII. He is fought in the special dig site of the Henne Mines and defeating him unlocks his license on the License Board. Zodiark is also fought in Stage 97 of Trial Mode in the Zodiac versions.
Page 1: ObservationsEdit
Strongest of the scions created by the gods, they feared his growth, and so kept him a child. So indomitable is his strength that all things are by him twisted and pressed into oblivion. He alone fashions the laws governing all things, and administers punishment in place of the gods. So is he Keeper of Precepts, and his authority is absolute.
To gain access to the optional area of the Henne Mines, the player must acquire ten Espers and talk to Geomancer Yugelu in Jahara to have him open the door that leads deeper into the mines. Zodiark is found at the very end. The path to Zodiark is littered with strong foes, but the player can use the Immobilize glitch to avoid them.
As the Immobilize glitch requires the party leader to be a decent distance away from the rest of the party, the trek will still be difficult. Fleeing is not suggested, as certain enemies can transport to the space in front of a character, and if there are many teleporting enemies the player's path may become blocked. Without a correctly trained party, the trek to Zodiark can be harder than the Esper itself. Many enemies fought here are undead and appear in groups, so casting Curaja on them deals good area damage, and the Holy-elemental Excalibur and Holy Lance are good, especially coupled with the Holy-boosting White Robes, if available.
Once the party enters the battlefield they cannot leave until they defeat Zodiark. As soon as the party enters the area Zodiark casts its special move, Darkja, a powerful Dark-elemental cinematic attack that has a chance to instantly KO a target, and can inflict Blind on a character even if s/he is KO'd.
The Esper starts the battle with Reflect, Protect, Shell, and Haste. Zodiark's Banish Ray is Dark-elemental and will usually inflict massive damage, often killing a target without the Bubble status or a Bubble Belt (with Bubble it is possible to break the HP limit, although the screen always displays 9999 as the max). Zodiark will not use Banish Ray if everyone is immune to or absorbs Dark elemental attacks, however this is not recommended as Darkja will be used twice as often.
At half HP Zodiark erects a Magick Wall if its Reflect status has been previous dispelled at any point during the fight, making it immune to magick attacks for two minutes. At quarter health Zodiark begins using Shift to change his elemental weakness; once the player figures out his vulnerability (he is initially weak against Holy), Zodiark will change it.
When Zodiark's HP is HP Critical, its attacks grow stronger and faster. Darkja is used more often. The most dangerous part is when his HP is almost gone. Zodiark's Battle Cry will empower his attacks. Once Zodiark puts up the physical paling, physical attacks will be useless from then on, as Zodiark will only erect it again as soon as the Paling falls.
It is recommended for the party to be at least level 70. Bubble Belts, strong weaponry and equipment that absorb Dark-elemental damage will be useful. It helps to equip Black Masks for this purpose, but it is best to leave at least one active party member vulnerable to Dark element or Zodiark will cast Darkja twice as often. Absorbing Dark-elemental damage will not spare a character from an automatic KO from Darkja, and there is no equipment available that can protect against it. Most shields are useless in the battle as Zodiark's attacks ignore evasion, though one may want to equip the Shell Shield for the Auto-Shell, and Demon's Shield for absorbing Dark.
Good weapons to equip are Tournesol, Zodiac Spear, the Masamune and Kumbha, Mesa, Holy Lance, Excalibur, or even the Wyrmhero Blade, the latter three being Holy-elemental, the element Zodiark is initially weak to. Good accessories include the Bubble Belts, Hermes Sandals, and Genji Gloves.
Before entering the map where Zodiark resides, the party should cast Protect, Shell, and Haste. Regen, Bravery, and Faith are also useful. It is possible to use Berserk, although for this battle it may be better to use sober characters. As Zodiark's HP is not overly high, the player can power through the battle with berserked characters before he gets much of a chance to act, but there is no save point before the battle and the auto-save of The Zodiac Age version doesn't return the player to the room where Zodiark as, as it is impossible to leave once the battle starts.
The player should enter the battle with only a weak character who is not a member of the main party, because right at the beginning Zodiark casts Darkja, and there is no reason for the entire party to be exposed to it. After Darkja the player can bring in the main party. This character can throw a Dispel Mote at Zodiark as first move. This can be done if the player is going for a quick win, as dispelling Zodiark makes him put up a paling when he's on low health, and thus it is better to not dispel him unless the player plans to kill Zodiark so fast he won't have a chance to put up the palings, more possible in the Zodiac versions where the damage cap has been removed. The quick win method involves the party of berserked and otherwise fully buffed individuals with Holy-elemental or ultimate non-elemental weapons all attacking Zodiark at once; Excalibur can deal 25,000 damage per hit, and Zodiark only has 336,000 HP, meaning three characters attacking at once depletes his HP before he can do anything. If the character is also in critical health they will also do long combos and deal boosted damage if they have Adrenaline.
If not going for the quick win with maximally powered characters, the party should not dispel Zodiark's buffs, as doing so will trigger it to use Magick Wall when it falls under half HP. Spellcasters should equip Opal Ring to bypass Zodiark's Reflect status. Non-elemental spells, like Scourge, are recommended once Zodiark begins using Shift.
The player should plan to react and recover from Darkja: when the main party falls, the player should bring in the reserve party and heal with Arise or Phoenix Downs (preferably the character would be equipped with Pheasant Netsuke to mimic Arise). The reserved party can fight for a bit, but they probably will not be as strong as the main party. At times the main party may need to be switched in to heal the reserved party. This technique is important when it comes closer to the end of the battle when Darkja isn't the only worry. It's good to keep the party spread out so area attacks like Scathe won't affect everyone.
The first part of the battle is simple. One strategy is to cast Berserk and Bravery on the strongest physical attacker. If Holy-elemental weapons are in the player's possession, equipping them is suggested for it is Zodiark's weakness for the time being.
When Zodiark's HP is close to one quarter, he will begin changing his elemental weakness, and the player should change their weapons to non-elemental ones. This is when the player should start to use Quickenings. The battle could end immediately with a long enough Quickening chain. If that doesn't finish him off, Zodiark will begin to use a Physical Paling, which makes it immune to physical attacks, and it will recast the Paling as soon as it wears off. Casting Scourge or Scathe repeatedly is suggested. The player can take away the party's weapons and equip Demon Shields to absorb Dark damage, as magick can be cast just as well without a weapon, although staves can boost Magick Power.
The player must beat Zodiark by casting preferably non-elemental magick. Scathe is the most powerful one, but takes a while to cast, so one might opt to using Shock or Scourge instead.
If the party is at a high enough level they can try to power through with a strong party buffed with Protect, Haste, Shell, Bravery, Regen and Berserk on all members. After saving at the Gate Crystal, the player should bring in two members from the reserve party and use the Immobilize glitch to travel to Special Charter Dig and tank the initial Darkja, and bring in the main party. Under the barrage of heavy attacks Zodiark will not use Darkja and will constantly try to cast buffs and use Shift, but will be unable to put up the Palings.
Great Trango, the invisible ultimate one-handed sword added in the Zodiac versions, can be rarely stolen from Zodiark. If the player really wants one, the following strategy can be used in The Zodiac Age version: The player can clear Special Charter Shaft off all enemies, leave, and then return. If there are still enemies around, the player should again kill them and leave and return. The goal is to create an auto-save at the start of Special Charter Shaft to a state where Special Charter Shaft has no enemies. The player can then run to Zodiark's lair unopposed, steal, and if they don't get the Great Trango, start again from the auto-save.
Defeating Zodiark unlocks its sprite on the Sky Pirate's Den in the PlayStation 2 versions, and awards the "Zodiac Knight" trophy in The Zodiac Age. The player will also gain the ability to control Zodiark as a summoned Esper. As summoning Zodiark uses up all of the summoning character's MP, which may be needed for healing and buffing, one may consider giving Zodiark to Basch as he has the lowest MP.