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For more details on which party members should be in these roles, see the Roles page.

There's a paradigm system in Final Fantasy XIII that can only be used when your characters have turned l'Cie. These are combinations of roles for your characters, and each have different strategies behind them. You should become very familiar with the paradigms available to your party, as it's difficult to make it past some of the harder battles with no strategy.

You can have up to three characters in your party, although at times you'll either be by yourself or with a single support characters. Paradigm shifting is crucial to battle outcomes, and also something the game doesn't let you forget. It may seem a little complex at first, but after a few battles you should get used to it.

Below is a table of basic role descriptions to give you a general idea of what each role will be doing. When paradigm shifting, there may be a better choice or worse choice, but there's never a right or wrong choice. How you fight and your battle style are entirely up to you. Choose a couple you're comfortable with, add them to the Paradigm Deck, and you're ready for battle.

English Japanese Color Description Occasion
Commando (COM) Attacker (ATK) Build attack chains more easily with enhanced strength. Weakening the enemy, maintaining the stagger bar
Ravager (RAV) Blaster (BLA) Charge enemy chain gauges with concentrated attacks. Getting the stagger bar up
Sentinel (SEN) Defender (DEF) Shield allies from enemy attacks with enhanced defense. Good for making another target while attacking the enemy
Synergist (SYN) Enhancer (ENH) Support allies with an array of magical enhancements. Give your party an offensive, defensive or status boost
Medic (MED) Healer (HLR) Focus on restoring HP and removing status ailments. Low health, life-threatening upcoming attack or removal of status effects
Saboteur (SAB) Jammer (JAM) Enfeeble enemies while charging their chain gauges. Weaken the enemy with status effects

Set up[edit]

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PlayStation 3,Xbox 360

Through the Paradigms menu, you can customize your own paradigms and add them to the Paradigm Deck, and after The Fifth Ark you'll be able to create your Battle Team, allowing you to use any three characters you want. In each deck, you can assign paradigms to six slots. You don't have to use every slot, and you can assign the same paradigm to multiple slots (for advanced play). There are many possibilities, and a paradigm perfect for every occasion.

Customize

Here you select a slot to form your own paradigms. Whenever a new party is formed, either by the game assigning them or after changing your Battle Team yourself, a few computer-generated paradigms will be in your deck. Select a slot to edit it, then move the cursor over the role below the character you want to change. When you select that role, you'll be taken to a list of available roles for that character, where you can select the one you want. Do this for each character in the paradigm slot until you have everyone set in the roles you want. To change the order of the paradigms, select the paradigm slot, then move the cursor up or down to the slot you want to switch it with. Lastly, use Square button to set your active paradigm, which is the one that your party starts with at the beginning of battles.

Delete

The delete option simply removes paradigms from the slots you select, leaving them blank.

Generate

In the generate mode, you can select a slot (empty or otherwise) to have the computer set up a paradigm for you. You can choose between offensive, defensive and balanced paradigms. This is not suggested, as making your own paradigms will become second nature and will allow you to fine tune your gameplay.

Battle Team

This option only becomes available at the end of The Fifth Ark. Here you will be able to change your three-character party by selecting one of the six available characters, then moving the cursor to a character you want to swap with and selecting him or her. The first three slots are your active party, and the first slot is the party leader. The party leader is the character you will be controlling, so make your decision based on the coming battle if you know what's ahead, or your general strategy when dealing with random encounters. This can be a double-edged sword, as you may need to take control of more complicated roles, such as Synergists or Saboteurs to ensure your party is getting the right buffs or the enemy gets the right debuffs. As a general rule, unless the AI is being very inefficient, choose the easiest character to control as your party leader (usually Commando, Ravager or Sentinel). One last thing to consider is who has an Eidolon and what does that Eidolon do?

Strategies[edit]

Different battles will call for different approaches based on the specific weaknesses and strengths of both your party and the enemy or enemies. You'll want to have a well-balanced Paradigm Deck for normal exploration where you'll be running into random battles against enemies you may or may not be familiar with. Once you've learned which enemies are in the area, or before harder fights, you'll want to customize your deck to give you the best advantage. Sometimes this will be an offense-heavy deck, sometimes defensive and sometimes in between. Many times the only way to realistically win a hard battle without spending a lot of time and Phoenix Downs on it, is by using status effects to your advantage, so don't ignore your Syngerists and Saboteurs.

Offense[edit]

Commandos and Ravagers are the mainstays of offensive paradigms. Commandos will do enormous, mainly physical, non-elemental damage and stop the enemy's stagger bar from dropping too quickly. Ravagers on the other hand, use mainly magic attacks based on elemental damage and quickly build the enemy's stagger bar. The key to quickly defeating enemies (or defeating them at all, sometimes) is to stagger them so you can do up to 999% damage with your attacks. You can boost the efficacy of your offensive roles with boosts from a Synergist, or debuffs from a Saboteur.

Syngerists have the ability to boost your physical and magical damage, and add status effects to your characters' weapons, which makes Commandos especially devastating. Synergists also have more indirect boosts, such as Haste and Vigilance, which will make your ATB gauge fill up faster and reduce interruptions to your attack queue, respectively. Saboteurs, however, work against your enemy to create status weaknesses with Imperil, susceptibility to interruption with Curse, lowered defense with Deprotect and Deshell, and they can also remove any status enhancements the enemy might put up. Another feature of Saboteurs, is they can also slow down the decay of enemy stagger bars, just like Commandos. This is especially important in some two-character party situations, where you might not have access to a good Commando.

Recommended paradigms
  • Relentless Assault (COM RAV RAV): This will be your go-to paradigm for offense for most of the game, as you'll have access to the Commando and Ravager roles for most characters early on. This paradigm allows your two Ravagers to quickly build up the stagger bar, while the Commando maintains it and does good damage.
  • Tri-Disaster (RAV RAV RAV): Switch to this paradigm after getting in a few hits with a Commando or Saboteur (so the bar doesn't fall quickly) and you'll stagger the enemy in no time. You can go straight to this paradigm if the enemy's chain resistance is low enough, and it may be better for you anyway against an enemy with status weakness if you don't want to wait for a Synergist to buff your Commando with an Enelement.
  • Undermine (RAV SAB): This is a great paradigm in the chapters where you only have Sazh and Vanille. Vanille can debuff enemies making them easier to kill, and at the same time prevent the stagger bar from dropping.
  • Mystic Tower (SEN RAV RAV): This is a great paradigm to quickly stagger a tough enemy who would otherwise be doing your Ravagers too much damage. Note that without a Commando to direct them, the Ravagers will target different enemies, so this is best used on a single enemy.
  • Offensive Screen (SEN COM COM): Use this paradigm to have your Sentinel soak up damage from enemies, leaving your Commandos free to do massive damage and use Blindside.
  • Strike Team (SYN COM COM): Buff your Commandos to do extra damage and elemental damage. Note that the Synergist is first in the paradigm (meaning the party leader), so you can direct who gets what buff to avoid the AI buffing with defensive enhancements.

Defense[edit]

Defensive paradigms are used for recovery or in anticipation of a strong offensive from your enemy. Because staggering the enemy is the key to success, you'll want to spend as little time in a defensive posture as possible. If possible, try to use a balanced paradigm instead, so you can continue to damage the enemy while you heal or rebuff. In some cases it will be unavoidable, and you'll need to focus on your party's survival.

The most defensive roles are Sentinels and Medics. By their very nature, they are simply helping your party and not attacking. At higher levels your Sentinel will be able to respond with his or her own attacks, but even so the Sentinel's main function is to create a damage sink for enemies to throw their attacks into. Sentinels have abilities that reduce the damage they take, and they also provoke enemies into concentrating on them at the exclusion of the other party members. This can be used in an offensive paradigm to free up your other characters to inflict damage, but on defense, it will allow your support characters to heal and buff your party without getting killed.

Your Medic should be the main way you replenish HP so you don't waste items and time in the menu selecting those items. Once a Medic has learned Esuna, they can also take off status effects. In general, the best Medics also aren't the toughest characters, so pairing them with a Sentinel can make their job easier. Synergists can also be employed to remove unwanted status effects, and they can buff your party against physical, magical and elemental damage as well as stop them from being interrupted.

Recommended paradigms
  • Combat Clinic (SEN MED MED): Your emergency paradigm when you need to recover very quickly (with two Medics), while minimizing damage.
  • Guarded Assault (SEN SEN COM) and Patient Probing (SEN SEN RAV): When you need to stay alive against multiple enemies. Switch between these two paradigms for stagger maintenance.
  • Protection (SEN MED SYN): This is a standard regrouping paradigm with a Sentinel to take damage for you while the Medic heals the party and the Syngergist buffs everyone.
  • Convalescence (MED SYN SYN): If you don't have a good Sentinel in your party, or you just want to quickly rebuff so you can get back to fighting, this paradigm will keep your party healed while your Synergists are working.
  • Lifeguard (SEN MED): When your party is Snow and Hope, this will be the paradigm you'll want to protect Hope's meager HP while he heals you both.

Balance[edit]

A balanced paradigm allows you to keep attacking while you're healing your party or putting status effects on yourself or the enemy. Synergists and Saboteurs can be a part of both offensive and defensive paradigms, but they are key players in a balanced team. Balanced paradigms are good for times when you're exploring and you aren't sure what you might run into. In general, a balanced paradigm of a Synergist to haste everyone along with two offensive party members is a good active paradigm.

While you're attacking with Commandos and Ravagers, you can use Medics, Synergists and Saboteurs to keep your party healthy or speed up the fight. Against tough enemies the Medic will allow your party to keep inflicting damage while they're taking their own. The Syngerist will speed you up, defend you and buff you with elemental damage to increase your lethality. Saboteurs can make every hit much more effective by increasing an enemy's susceptibility to magical, physical or elemental damage. Against very strong opponents, abilities like Slow, Pain and Fog can make an otherwise unwinnable fight within your grasp.

Recommended paradigms
  • Decimation (COM RAV SYN): Your basic starting paradigm to haste your party and maintain the stagger bar. When everyone's hasted and the Commando has landed some hits, switch to Tri-Disaster (RAV RAV RAV) to quickly build the stagger bar.
  • Bully (COM SAB SYN): Against a single opponent, this paradigm works great by buffing your Commando while weakening the enemy. This is most effective on enemies that you'll kill through damage before staggering.
  • Hero's Charge (COM SYN MED): This is the ultimate single-character backup paradigm. Great for use on multiple weak enemies with an area-of-effect attack like Blitz or Ruinga, or as a more recuperative paradigm against a strong enemy that still allows you to attack.
  • Diversity (COM RAV MED): A common paradigm for quickly healing your party while maintaining an offensive, to be switched back out of when everyone's health is topped off.
  • Matador (SEN SAB RAV) and Dirty Fighting (SEN SAB COM): These paradigms allow your offensive role, either Ravager or Commando depending on which will be most effective, to fight enemies weakened by your Saboteur while they are focused on your Sentinel.
  • Devastation (COM COM SAB): Two powerful attackers can damage opponents while your Saboteur weakens them.

Paradigm list[edit]

Two-character party
Double Trouble COM COM
Slash & Burn COM RAV
Misdirection COM SEN
Divide & Conquer COM SAB
Supersoldier COM SYN
War & Peace COM MED
Dualcasting RAV RAV
Arcane Defense RAV SEN
Undermine RAV SAB
Archmage RAV SYN
Yin & Yang RAV MED
Twin Shields SEN SEN
Stumbling Block SEN SAB
Building Block SEN SYN
Lifeguard SEN MED
Havoc SAB SAB
Tide Turner SAB SYN
Sap & Salve SAB MED
Rally SYN SYN
Symbiosis SYN MED
Double Dose MED MED
Three-character party
Cerberus COM COM COM
Aggression COM COM RAV
Offensive Screen COM COM SEN
Devastation COM COM SAB
Strike Team COM COM SYN
Tireless Charge COM COM MED
Relentless Assault COM RAV RAV
Delta Attack COM RAV SEN
Ruthless COM RAV SAB
Decimation COM RAV SYN
Diversity COM RAV MED
Guarded Assault COM SEN SEN
Dirty Fighting COM SEN SAB
Strategic Warfare COM SEN SYN
Solidarity COM SEN MED
Exploitation COM SAB SAB
Bully COM SAB SYN
Scouting Party COM SAB MED
All For One COM SYN SYN
Hero's Charge COM SYN MED
Discretion COM MED MED
Tri-Disaster RAV RAV RAV
Mystic Tower RAV RAV SEN
Smart Bomb RAV RAV SAB
Malevolance RAV RAV SYN
Thaumaturgy RAV RAV MED
Patient Probing RAV SEN SEN
Matador RAV SEN SAB
Riot Shield RAV SEN SYN
Entourage RAV SEN MED
Assassination RAV SAB SAB
Guerilla RAV SAB SYN
Variety RAV SAB MED
Coordination RAV SYN SYN
Supernatural RAV SYN MED
Perpetual Magic RAV MED MED
Tortoise SEN SEN SEN
Overcaution SEN SEN SAB
Conservation SEN SEN SYN
Consolidation SEN SEN MED
Countermeasure SEN SAB SAB
Premeditation SEN SAB SYN
Attrition SEN SAB MED
Prudent Planning SEN SYN SYN
Protection SEN SYN MED
Combat Clinic SEN MED MED
Infiltration SAB SAB SAB
Espionage SAB SAB SYN
Safe Subversion SAB SAB MED
Superiority SAB SYN SYN
Evened Odds SAB SYN MED
Perseverance SAB MED MED
Rapid Growth SYN SYN SYN
Recuperation SYN SYN MED
Convalescence SYN MED MED
Salvation MED MED MED