Characters earn experience according to the number of enemies that each one defeats. Therefore, a character with limited attack abilities will earn less experience than a character with good offensive abilities.
Characters can be divided into three groups based on this observation:
- Strong physical attackers, who can equip the best weapons (6): Fighter, Barbarian, Lark, Paladin, Ranger, Thief
- Strong magical attackers, who can cast mass-distruction spells (2): Wizard, Cleric
- Weak attackers, who can equip low-level weapons and cast low-level spells (3): Illusionist, Alchemist, Druid
In general, a party should include:
- A destroyer (Cleric or Wizard), who can cast mass-destruction spells;
- A natural healer (Cleric or Druid), who can cast healing spells since the beginning of the game;
- A second healer (Paladin, Illusionist, Ranger), who can learn healing spells during the game;
- A dodger (Thief, Alchemist, Illusionist), who can avoid most traps in the dungeons;
- A first attacker (Barbarian, Lark, Paladin, Fighter), who can use the best weapons;
- A second attacker (any of the above 4 plus Ranger, Thief and Wizard), who still has good attack abilities.
Well, these are six, but you can only have four characters in your party. This means that you should choose characters that fill two positions.
- The frontman in the party should be the character with the highest dexterity; he/she will dodge most traps in the dungeons.
- The second character should be one who can only use short-ranged weapons; otherwise, in battle he will waste turns moving forward, and will earn less experience. As an alternative, a character with strong armor can fit this position, too.
- Third comes the character who lacks the requirements to be the fourth one; that's all.
- The best physical attacker should be the last; at battle start, he will be behind the limited short-ranged attacker, and can support him/her.
In order to use all character classes, you have two options: (1) change the party formation when you reset the game and continue the same game, or (2) play three games to use all eleven classes extensively. This section describes significant trios of parties.
Traditional — Healers — Alternate
The healers team is good for beginners. If you create all its characters with Wisdom=20 (plus Int=20 for the Ranger), every character will be able to cast Sanctu/Heal since the game start. Surprisingly, the Illusionist results in a powerful melee fighter, thanks to her dexterity bonus.
The alternate team is more challenging than the previous two, as it has limited healing and no mass-destruction spells. The fact that three characters can use black magic does not compensate.
Three balanced parties
Here's a set of three equally balanced parties that allow to use all the 11 different characters in just three games. This outfit also allows to get four different sprites in each party in the game versions before the NES one.
Three unbalanced parties
A party that does not include at least either a Cleric or a Wizard has very slim chances to pass a specific point in the game, and thus to complete the game at all, unless they buy some Sands of Time. Said this, the weakest possible party that can still beat the game would be the following.
Vice versa, many strong parties are possible. One of the strongest is:
- Thief (top dexterity)
- Cleric (top healing magic)
- Wizard (top offensive magic)
- either Barbarian or Paladin or Lark (best weapons and either good dexterity or some healing magic)
Therefore, the following is a set of three very unbalanced teams. The Wizard is featured in two parties.
Three thematic parties
In the NES version, four characters are Female by default (sex is pre-determined with the class). Four other characters are Dwarves by default. The four remaining classes can all use black magic. These are three parties already.
Girl Power is a strong party: they have three healers and two physical attackers. Dwarf Nation has very limited magic, and is reminiscent of the "physical party" described in the section above. Dark Boys is a party that attacks mainly with fireballs instead of using weapons; unfortunately, MP run out quickly.
Three monochromatic parties
In the NES version, each character class has a different sprite. Each sprite has a main color: red, pink or blue. Adding a Cleric to the three red characters, you get four somewhat balanced parties. The main difference between the three is that the Pink party has more healing skills and the Blue party has less.
Clerics & Wizards only
Unlike later RPGs, the Cleric and the Wizard have the same endurance as any other character. Together with their strong healing skills and offensive magic, they are rather powerful. A party of two Wizards and two Clerics works well in this video game!
|1. Cleric |
|1. Destroyer:||All 4|
|2. Healer:||Cleric-1, Cleric-2|
|3. 2nd healer:||-|
|5. Attacker:||Wizard-1, Wizard-2|
|6. 2nd attacker:||Cleric-1, Cleric-2|
Japanese cover party
The original US cover depicted the enemy, Exodus, because the possible characters were too many to be all represented on the cover (11 classes times 5 races times 2 sexes = 110 possible characters), and a selection could have been a spoiler or misleading. Not so the Japanese NES cover, that selected four characters. Let's examine such party.
All in all, this team has limited healing (the Illusionist is the main healer!) and limited physical attack (the Fighter has limited dexterity).
The Illusionist should start with high enough Wisdom to cast a healing spell; her initial attributes should be Str=5, Dex=20, Int=5, Wis=20; although the Illusionist is a class oriented towards Dexterity, being a Bobit would allow her to use decent healing magic. After all, the main dodger of this party is the Thief (suggested: Elf with Str=15, Dex=25, Int=5, Wis=5).
The Fighter should better have improved dexterity, or he will miss enemies too often; an Elf or Dwarf with initial attributes Str=15, Dex=25, Int=5, Wis=5 would make him as strong and dexterous as possible.
The Wizard never leaves any doubt: a Fuzzy with initial attributes Str=5, Dex=15, Int=25, Wis=5. After your first visit to Ambrosia, he will be able to cast mass-destruction spells and a little bit of Healing spells.