While there are Red Mages & Wizards, there is no such thing as Red magic. Red Magicians can use both White and Black magic, though many of the higher level spells are unlearnable by them. While they (usually) have more spells to choose from at each level than the other magic users, they still only have three slots available for each level.
Red Wizards can learn 22/32 Black magic spells, and 8 of the 10 they can't are either instant death or stop spells that tend not to work anyway. The only really useful spell that they lose is Flare, but the improved physical strength of the Red Wizard over the Black Wizard generally makes up for it. The other useful spell that Red Wizards can't learn, Saber, is not a big loss since you can find an item that mimics the effect. Red Mages will have to wait until after the class change to learn several spells that Black Mages can learn, including Thundaga and Blizzaga.
While Red Wizards can learn most of the useful Black magic spells, they can only learn 18/32 White magic spells. Only five of these (Fear, NulAll, Dispel, and the first two Heals) are not exceptionally useful. The remaining nine (Curaja, Healaga, Full-life, the four Dia spells, Holy, and Stona) are all useful, especially late in the game. Fire spells can help make up for the lack of Dia spells. Additionally, the Red Mage cannot learn Life, so you will have to wait until after the class change to be able to revive.
- * denotes spells that can only be learned by the Red Wizard - the rest can be learned by both the Mage and the Wizard.
Obviously, what spells a Red Mage/Wizard should get depends on what other magic users are in your party (see the Classes and Party recommendation pages for more information). For the purposes of this section, Ninjas and Knights do not count as magic users since the spells they can learn are fairly trivial, they will be spending most of their time attacking, and they do not learn their spells until pretty late in the game anyway. The likely party configurations are:
- Red Mage, White Mage, two non-magic users
- Red Mage, Black Mage, two non-magic users
- Two Red Mages, two non-magic users
- One Red Mages, three non-magic users
On most levels there are 3 clear best picks regardless of what your other casters have; only on a few levels do you have a real choice.
Spells are divided into a few types, which affects how you divvy them up when multiple casters are available. The Nul class of spells, though useless early on, are absolutely essential in mid-to-late game; however only 1-2 casters need to know these spells. The Cure spells are extremely useful at all stages in the game no matter how many castings of them you have; it is recommended that you always learn all the cure spells even if you have plenty of other mages that can cast them. Elemental spells, on the other hand, are very strong early on but go obsolete by later in the game; these make for a tradeoff where you have to balance immediate versus long-term needs. Most other spells are of the character-bonus type and are marginally useful at all stages in the game, but unless you have more than enough of all the above spells already these usually won't make the cut into the top three.
One exception to the above is the version of the game which has MP instead of per-level casts. In this version cure spells may well go obsolete later on, as their MP cost becomes inferior. In the NES and other per-level-casting versions however red mages should always learn all the cure spells, as later on these may be the only lower-level spells that are still useful.
- Cure, Fire, Thunder
Not a hard choice since you need the elementals and the more curing you can do through magic the better, especially in the beginning when items are still expensive.
One alternative is to give up one of the black spells (preferably if another mage already knows it) and save a slot to get Blink, Protect, or Focus instead as these will have better late-game utility. This is a tough call though since when you need Fire/Thunder you'll want to have all your mages cast it as much as possible; they aren't spells you can have too much of early on. By late game both black spells will become useless but it'd be rare at that stage to use one of the alternative spells in a serious battle.
Giving up Cure is not recommended no matter how many white/red mages you have, as this remains useful in bulk at all stages of the game.
- NulShock, Blizzard, Temper
Blizzard is the only one of these spells useful in the early game, but unfortunately will be obsolete by the time you encounter monsters vulnerable to it.
NulShock is useless early on but by late game at least one and preferably two mages should learn it; if you have more white/red casters than that you may wish to leave it off of one of your reds.
Temper increases damage rate of a select party member and is stackable, and is believed to be good at all stages so long as you have a strong attacker to cast it on.
If you do want to give up one of the above three, Invis or Slow are probably the next best alternatives. Overall this is a weak level for spells however and unless you have extra money you may find yourself not investing much in it early on.
- Cura, Fira, NulBlaze/Thundara
Level 3 brings some difficult choices. Cura, NulBlaze, Fira, Thundara, and Focara are all very useful spells, and which you choose can depend heavily on what other casters you have in your party.
NulBlaze is the most essential single spell and should be learned by one caster. Do not be tempted to leave this spell off even though its usefulness may not be apparent until later on. Likewise, do not rely on a knight to cast it even though they will learn it eventually. If you have a White Mage however you won't need a Red to learn this and if you have multiple Reds only one will need it.
Cura is the next most essential spell, as it remains extremely useful throughout the game.
Fira is also essential as you'll meet monsters in bulk that are vulnerable to it throughout the early and mid-game; even though Diara provides a similar style of damage it's recommended to have multiple fire/dia casters even if it means giving up Thundara.
Thundara, though quite strong, probably needs at most one caster to know. Only sea/river creatures are vulnerable to this and you will not face them in bulk early on the way you do with fire-vulnerable monsters.
Focara you can do without unless you have a three-mage party that already has plenty of NulBlaze and Thundara.
- Haste, NulFrost, Blizzara
Haste (Fast in the NES version) is one of the most useful spells in the game at all stages in the game, and is a must-have for any and all casters that can learn it.
NulFrost is absolutely essential for at least one and preferably two mages to learn. Even if another mage already knows this spell, it's still recommended to have a second one learn it. You probably don't need a third however.
Blizzara is quite useful, and well worth having one or many casters learn. In the volcano stages you will regret not having as much of it as possible. After that it starts going obsolete though, and by late game is quite useless.
Resist the temptation to get Poisona with a red mage, as it can easily be replaced for less money with items. You might want the convenience but in the end you'll wish you had more castings of Haste available instead. If you feel you have enough NulFrost or Blizzara already though you can purchase this spell once you feel like wasting the money.
- Life, Curaga, Firaga
These three powerful spells are the clear choice for this level.
Life is the most essential by late game as it is the only way for a Red to revive anyone; even if you have multiple Red/White mages you're better off having all your reds learn Life just in case the others all die. You will have to wait for the class change to get Life but that shouldn't be a problem as you will make plenty of use of Curaga and Firaga before then anyway.
Firaga is extremely helpful in bulk in the ice stages of the game which come up shortly after you would learn it, and remains useful for a long time after that against undead. It's recommended even if other casters already know it.
Curaga, like the other cures, is quite useful throughout. With the extreme usefulness of Firaga and Life you may actually find yourself avoiding use of this spell to conserve castings for them, but there's nothing on this level that you will find more useful even in bulk.
Teleport may be tempting but hold out for the more useful Exit instead.
- Exit, Thundaga, Protera/Invisira
Exit is an essential spell, and coming on a level which is weak in other choices becomes even more obvious. Some people recommend not having multiple party members learn the Teleport/Exit spells but unless you really know what you are doing, or want to make heavy use of reloading, you will find this to be one of your most regularly used spells.
Thundaga is a powerful necessity, and will make the underwater stage of the game far simpler even though you find gauntlets that cast Thundara right around this time.
Both Protera and Invisira will find utility at times, and can be worth having a single party member learn. Exit only needs 1 cast saved for it and Thundaga is useless in certain parts of the game, so having at most one Red learn each of these as their third spell can be worthwhile eventually. There is an item that casts Invisira so it's probably the less important of the two. Both of these spells affect the entire party and are stackable, so can be quite beneficial in the endgame.
- Blizzaga, NulDeath
You can only learn these two, so get both once you have the money. Blizzaga is the only one that you will find use for however and even that may not come until very late game.