Any party member who isn’t wearing a Black Mask or Demon Shield is as good as dead. Zodiark WILL open the battle with Darkja, so send in a sacrificial lamb solo to cast Dispel, then bear the full brunt of the attack. Make it someone you don’t want to use for the battle so you don’t care whether or not they get killed. If you use Berserk on your Excalibur wielder, he will knock Zodiark’s HP off like crazy, but if you do this, cast Berserk some time before you cast all your other buffs. That way, it will wear off not long into the fight. There is a very specific reason for this. When Zodiark is down to about ¼ HP, he will use Shift to change his elemental weakness. When you get close to that point, set your battle speed to minimum. Up to now, the battle hasn’t been too bad, if you are quick and aggressive enough you may only see one Darkja with your full party. But now, we’ve come to a crucial turning point, decide which path you are going to take before you even go into the Special Charter Dig. You will have no time to think when the time comes, you must just react.
Option 1- Balls to the wall
The instant you see “Zodiark readies Shift” at the top of the screen (you should be watching for this like a hawk when his HP nears ¼), start a Quickening. This is why I told you to set speed to slowest before this point, so your zero charge time Quickening gets in before Zodiark has a chance to charge anything. He’ll have just over 80,000 HP left at this point, which is a long way to go with one chain. But if you’re quick enough with the first one, and your battle speed is at slowest, you have a chance to switch in another party member if the first one doesn’t finish him. If his Paling goes up before you start the second chain, you’re screwed. Go to option two, but with all those MP you just burned, you don’t have much of a chance. If you do get the second chain in, 80,000 HP is not a lot for two Quickenings at this level. If you’re terrible at Quickenings, or just don’t want to leave it to luck, you can throw Knots of Rust in the Estersand to fully charge a Dark Matter. If you don’t know how these work, the damage from every Knot of Rust you’ve used since the last time you used a Dark Matter is added up to calculate DM damage. This caps at 60,000. So if you select Dark Matter before he readies Shift, you should easily be able to take him down. You’ll be able get three to four Quickening chains in before the Paling goes up.
Option 2- Grind it out
Those of you who go this route will not be relying on luck any less than the Quickening users. The instant you see “Zodiark readies Shift” at the top of the screen (you should be watching for this like a hawk when his HP nears ¼), switch to non-elemental weapons. This is why I told you to set speed to slowest before this point, you’ll only get a few more attacks in, but you want them to do damage, not heal. Set it back to max when your weapons are good. At about 20% HP, Zodiark will become immune to physical attacks for the rest of the battle, and he will be spamming the shit out of Darkja. In between, you will be seeing a lot of Scathe, which really hurts and can’t be Reflected. Watch for Zodiark to use Faith, and Dispel it IMMEDIATELY. He will often follow it with a Magic Shield, making him invincible. Non-elemental spells like Shock and Scathe are the only way to go at this point, I would equip Mirror Mail on the party to Reflect triple the Scathe at him. It’s a calculated risk, the weak armor makes you more vulnerable, but you can deal damage faster. One way or the other, this stage of the battle isn’t going to last long, so the risk is worth it. I’ve only used this method to beat Zodiark once, and it was not pleasant. Darkja will be knocking people off left and right, and you’ll be too busy scrambling to revive and heal to attack. I only recommend this if you really suck at Quickenings.