Mechanics – Magic Damage Basics

Monkun’s Mechanics and Theorycrafting – Magic Damage Basics

If you haven’t already, check out my article on physical damage basics. The formula for Magic Damage is very similar to Physical Damage and is actually a bit simpler to calculate because there are not as many supporting variables involved. Critical hits are currently not a factor in magic damage nor is there any weapon type variance to consider.

Magic Spells vs. Abilities that cause Magic Damage (Magic Abilities)

Let’s quickly go over the difference between Magic Spells vs Magic Abilities. While both Spells and Abilities use the MAG stat and Magic Damage formula to compute damage, the game does treat them differently in some circumstances.

Magic Spells belong to a specific school of magic, namely Black, White, or Green and using them can trigger certain counters. One notable fight is the Intangir/Enhancer Sword Trial where Intangir will counter any magic used with Meteor. Magic Spells can also be used twice via Dual Cast. While in a battle, Magical Spells are denoted by a Star Burst icon (see pic below).

Magic Abilities, like Bio Blaster, Kefka’s Hyperdrive, and Locke’s Mirage Dive are a bit different in that they do not belong to any specific school of magic and do not typically trigger magic spell counters like in the Intangir/Enhancer Sword Trial. One major downside, in my opinion, is that you cannot use Magic Abilities in conjunction with Dual Cast. While in battle, all abilities (including Magic Abilities) are denoted by a Crystal icon (see pic below).


Now on to Magic Damage!

Magic Damage Basics

The simplified formula for Magic Damage can be expressed as follows:



Total Unit MAG: Base MAG + Equipment MAG + Traits/Materia + Buffs/Debuffs

  • Base MAG vs. Equipment MAG = Similar to ATK as mentioned in my previous article, it’s important to distinguish between Base MAG and Equipment MAG. Most abilities that give +% MAG will only grant bonuses based on Base MAG. Equipment such as Hero’s Rings which grants +10% ATK/MAG work the same way.
  • Traits/Materia = Most traits and equipment such as Hero’s Rings that grant the same bonus type (+% MAG) will stack additively. A unit with a native +20% MAG Trait equipped with 2 Hero’s Rings and a +10% MAG materia will effectively gain +50% of their Base MAG.
  • Buffs/Debuffs = Buffs such as Focus and Faith also grant bonus MAG in battle based on Base MAG only. The same applies for Debuffs such as Power Break/Full Break when used on your own unit. Stacking of Buffs/Debuffs is not discussed in this article but will be addressed in a future article.

Additional Multipliers/Modifiers:

  • Level Correction Modifier = The higher the unit level, the more damage they will do as a result. This is also explains why two units with identical MAG values will deal different damage if one is a higher level than the other. This is calculated as: 10 + (Current unit level/10)
  • Spell/Ability Multipliers = All magical damage spell/abilities have an associated multiplier. The basic elemental spells such as Fire, Blizzard, and Thunder for example all have a multiplier of 1.2x or 120%. Fira, Blizzara, Thundara all have a multiplier of 1.4x or 140%.
  • Elemental Weakness Multiplier = The enemy’s elemental weakness can easily be identified by using Libra or Analyze on it. The typical multiplier is 1.5x if an enemy is weak to a specific element however this can modified further by debuffs such as Imperil.
  • Spark/Chain/Elemental Chain Multipliers = Depending on the timing of attacks, physical hits can also gain additional bonus multipliers from Sparks, Chains, and Elemental Chains. These bonuses will be discussed in detail in a future article.

Total Enemy SPR = Final SPR value of enemy including any buffs/debuffs and SPR Ignore component of any attacks

  • SPR Ignore = Some magic spells/abilities have a partial SPR ignore component, such as Kefka’s Hyperdrive or Meteor. The most common SPR Ignore abilities will ignore 25% DEF while some future abilities may ignore SPR at even higher percentages. While mathematically 25% SPR ignore can be expressed as a positive multiplier of 133.33% or 1.3333, it’s simply easier to express this as it relates directly to SPR. (This is potentially useful to know when comparing the multipliers of different abilities.)

Damage Variance

After all the other calculations are completed, the final damage is then randomized from 86% to 100%.

Introduction to Theorycrafting – Magic Damage

Now that we’ve covered the basics of Magic Damage, let’s try applying this knowledge to a few examples that may help you with your party building decisions.

Example #1: If they have the same MAG, who does more damage? Dual Cast max level 4* Vivi using Fira or max level Exdeath 5* using Firaga?

Let’s ignore the fact that Exdeath is much tankier at max level compared to Vivi and just focus on the pure damage output. In this example we’ll be using Golem 2*. Through the data I’ve collected, I’ve been able to determine that Golem 2*’s SPR is 150. Let’s assume both Vivi and Exdeath in this scenario have 180 MAG after all equipment/buffs.


For this example, we will ignore Damage Variance as we’re looking solely at the max damage output. This leaves us with the following:


Vivi pulls ahead in this scenario because Dual Cast is *that* good. Let’s add Damage Variance back into the mix to show the min and max ranges. It’s important to note that Damage Variance is calculated individually with each cast of Fira in Vivi’s Dual Cast and you may notice that both casts can differ in damage. We’ve already calculated the max potential damage so all we need to do now is calculate the bottom range.


Against Golem 2*, Vivi’s Dual Cast Fira will do from 14795 to 17203 damage while Exdeath’s single Firaga will do from 10700 to 12442 damage.

Of course, pure damage output is only one of many factors you should consider when selecting a team. Survivability is important as well and Vivi is quite squishy having only 1504 max HP at max level 4* compared to Exdeath’s 2401 max HP at max level 5*.

Example #2: Using the best non-TM and limited-time event equipment/abilities available, who does more damage? Dual Cast Vivi using Fira or Exdeath using Firaga?

While the previous example illustrates the power of Dual Cast, let’s go through a similar example this time using real game equipment/ability limitations. Consider the following scenario:

Max level 4* Vivi has 194 MAG with following gear equipped:

Ice Rod (+26), Mage’s Hat (+10), Black Robe (+20), 2x Hero Rings (+20%) and 3x MAG +10% Ability materias (+30%).

Max level 5* Exdeath has 276 MAG with following gear equipped:

Ice Rod (+26), no helm/no armor, 2x Hero Rings (+20%) and 4x MAG +10% Ability materias (+40%).

This time we’ll set up our formulas as follows:


Let’s ignore Damage Variance again for the moment to focus on max potential damage.


Unfortunately, Vivi has several major disadvantages at play here despite being able to equip head and armor slots with +MAG gear. First and foremost, Vivi can only reach level 60 so his level modifier is lower than Exdeath’s. Also, Vivi’s base MAG is only 92 while Exdeath’s is 112 before any +MAG% native or equipped abilities (Exdeath also has a native +30% MAG trait). Lastly, Vivi 4* has one less ability slot compared to Exdeath 5*.

Let’s calculate the bottom range to show the complete story:


Against Golem 2*, Vivi’s Dual Cast Fira will do from 9667 to 11241 damage while Exdeath’s single Firaga will do from 14150 to 16454 damage.

As we can see, when both are properly geared, Exdeath pulls ahead in the damage department as well as having a bigger HP and MP pools.

To be continued with more examples…


References and Credits:

While some of the information was obtained from various sources such as the FFBE Reddit, Exviuswiki, and other Japanese gaming sites such as Altema and Famitsu, the majority of the research, data collection, examples, and theorycrafting is completely my own work. (Special shout out to TrillionMeeSeeks for providing me with unit stats for Vivi – thank you!) If you feel that I may have missed crediting a specific author or individual, please drop a comment below. Thanks 🙂