Chains! Quick update: There are more chains out! I haven't updated this guide with them yet. I will do so, but for the time being, here are the new chain bearers who are not listed yet (None are out in global yet, all but Edward are from the 4th anniversary): Faris - Tier 2 physical wind chain Celes - Tier 2 physical ice chain Edward - Tier 2 magical holy chain (30% Mag/mind) Steiner - FF9 Realm Chain Irvine - FF8 Realm Chain A quick table of all the chains we have in global right now: Spoiler Chain Soulbreaks are among the most game-changing relics we have at the moment. Many people will shape their teams around the chains they own, especially since the metagame has shifted more and more towards mono-element teams that can smack down an enemy's single weakness, particularly in the very difficult magicite dungeons. We now have a lot of chains, and a different style of chain is coming in the nearish future (most likely around the end of June), so now seems like a good time to get a quick crash course in chain usage. I am stupidly verbose. Expect lots of text. All chains provide two primary bonii: They give a 'field bonus', and then have an actual chain count. Both of these are reset when you start a new chain (so you cannot 'keep the chain going' by reusing the soulbreak before the first chain ends, that will erase the first chain and start a new one). The field bonus is 'every attack of the chain's element does extra damage', where the extra damage is either +20% (Tier 1 chains) or +50% (Tier 2 chains). This is true regardless of what little number percentage pops up on a given enemy. The second one, the count, is counted per-enemy. If an enemy is hit by an attack of the chain's element, their percentage increases per hit. So if you use Sky high (hits four times) during a wind chain, an enemy's count will go from 0 (100% damage, so normal) to 4 (104% damage). This means every successive hit against them will do more damage. This counts 'any damage of the chain's type' - Beatrix using Saint Cross (hits twice) will increase the count of a holy chain by 2. Beatrix with her USB active using Assault sabre will boost it by 5 (assault sabre hits 5 times for holy damage) then 4 more (as she does her four-hit holy chase). Thus, the basic rule for chains is: Activate a chain, do a lot of elemental attacks or elemental soulbreaks that have a lot of hits while the chain is active, and save your big OSB or ASB finishers for the very end of the chain. That is the crash course on 'what is a chain and how do I use it'. It is worth using a chain bearer even if they are otherwise not helpful to your team, as they can help your primary DPS do their job much more effectively. So yes, it is generally worth using a team of Shantotto / Physical DPS / Physical DPS / Support / Healer even though Shantotto's damage won't be terribly hot. Exceptions abound, of course. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Types of Chains; comparing chain tiers Chains then fall into two categories, 'tier 1' chains, and 'tier 2' chains. Right now in global, we have all of the tier 1 chains - so every chain we have now is tier 1. Tier 1 chains have a field bonus of +20%, and the count caps at 99. Tier 1 chains except Zack's also open doing a number of hits to one target, so their counts start at 11% or 22% (Although do note - the count is per-enemy, so against multi-target fights that might not be as helpful!). Tier 1 chains also each have an unusual effect they give in addition to just the chain's effect, these are somewhat unique and we'll go through them below. Tier 2 chains are then very firmly split into 'physical' and 'magical'. They raise either the party's attack or magic by +50% (This is like shout or onion knight physical USB on the physical end, and 'higher than anything we have' on the magical end), have a field bonus of +50%, and the count caps at 150. None of them do any damage to enemies, nor do they have any additional effects. Tier 1 chains vs Tier 2 chains First let's get this out of the way: Tier 2 chains are, in fact, better than tier 1 chains. Even using say Prompto in a magical lightning team will almost certainly get you more mileage than Shantotto, in a vacuum. Now, let's step outside of the vacuum. If you /have/ a tier 1 chain, then the tier 2 chain is far less critical. It may help, but if you already are using a fully dived Ramza or Onion or simply have your buffs accounted for, then you may not critically need the boostga. The tier 1 chain bearer might more easily fit into your party setups - people have a lot more smoothness fitting Tidus and Edge in their team than Strago, for example. And then tier 1 chains are fantastic, people have sub-30'd 5* magicite using them and find that to be absolutely plenty. So if you /have/ a tier 1 chain, you don't need to empty the bank trying to get a tier 2 chain of that same element. This also holds if you trip into a random tier 1 chain, don't be unhappy - you just got one of the strongest relics in the game, you're good. Tier 1 chains are listed as 'physical' or 'magical', but none of them besides Zack actually come with a boost of any sort, so they actually function well enough in either team. The designation is more that the physical characters may have trouble participating in a mage team (And vice versa). This does put extra weight on the chain bearers who can self-boost - Garland can use darkness abilities to buff himself so he works just fine in a magical team, while Warrior of Light has a lot more trouble doing that. Tier 2 chains are listed as 'physical' or 'magical' because they come with a +50% boostga for their type, so you are far more encouraged to match them up with the appropriate type of team! In addition, some of the new high end content encourages you to bring an all-physical or all-magical team (or alternately punishes you for not doing so!). However, if push comes to shove, people have beaten 5* magicite with Prompto in a mage team, so you can make it work. Realistically, a tier 2 chain of the wrong phy/mag type is still better than a tier 1 chain of the appropriate type. The tier 2 changes do not come with hastegas, but by the time we get them we will also /get/ a 5* whtie magic skill 'hastega' which does what it sounds like, so that may be easier to slot... although white mages tend to have their slots be overtaxed as it is... And I mean... again, this is all just 'in a vacuum'. If you have a series of other Kain soulbreaks, you may want him to hang out in your team regardless, as entrusting him to do both might become more viable. If you really /hate/ a character, like the magical tier 1 ice chain bearer, you might want to use someone else even if it's less competent to do so. Same with if you particularly like RedXIII, then he becomes a better pick. And of course, if Ingus' last stand is super helpful for a given situation then he becomes way more valuable. Plus, RNG be RNG. You might spend 500 mythril, fail to get Kain's chain, and then 100gem Shantotto's chain as an off-banner relic or daily draw or something. So take all of this as helpful information more than written in blood. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Interesting tricks involving chains - Cross-Chaining. Certain moves, such as Merton(Er, Meltdown) and Palom's BSB commands, hit multiple elements. These will boost the chain regardless of which element they are hitting, although they won't gain the field damage bonus unless they are actually hitting the same element as the chain. There are very niche situations where this is helpful, primarily against wall-changing bosses. A quick example of that: FF3's Hein liked to swap around his weakness, we had a lightning chain. Our party Palom and second Shantotto would constantly up the chain while hitting whatever his actual weakness was at the moment, so when he did swap back to lightning he'd be ready to be detonated with a high count. (I /think/ they will get the count boost, though? Like I believe you do get the count boost, but am not sure so I am erring on the side of caution) - I've mentioned this before, but don't be afraid to try a physical chain in a magical team or vice versa! In honesty, a chain bearer doing basically nothing but causing the chain is still worthwhile (and often the case when Snow was your chain bearer before icicle rush came out!), and now all the chain bearers can at least use a four-hitting chain bolstering ability. - Chases become extra valuable during chains. While Butz is a useful character even with just his USB1, having a matching chain makes those 8-hit chases go from helpful extra damage to absolutely fantastic. In addition, mild hit boosts become extra valuable - getting five hits over four adds up over the duration of a chain. - Remember, in a pinch, if you have EnElement your attack command becomes 'an attack of that element'. So if you are down to the wire, out of assault sabres, and Orlandu is about ready to charge what may be the final OSB - you can at least up the chain by /one/ more real quick.