If you want to have a far easier time in Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch, it’s suggested that you capture and train a good team of familiars once Esther has the ability to Serenade. Taming new familiars is a strategic decision on how easy you can make your adventuring later, since the earlier a familiar joins you, the more time you have while doing Errands and Bounty Hunts to increase their levels (and hence, their stats).
Shortcuts to fast leveling once you have a ship and the ability to fly around the world. Examine and explore these locations if you’re interested in XP farming.
There are four familiars you cannot get rid of (by releasing them) — Oliver’s Mite, Esther’s Drongo, Swaine’s crap-tacular Hurly, and Marcassin’s Relixx, there are three more familiars that are provided to you for free (via the main story) and more if you complete various Errands and side missions.
They are the Thumbelemur from Tommy Stout, the Seed Sprite from the Golden Grove, and one of three familiars from the Great Sage after completing the Trial of Strength (Shonky Honker, Boggly Boo, or Naiad) all which suck (except the Thumbelemur, which one form can learn a Revive-in-Battle spell).
The below are suggestions based off of 135 hours of gameplay on Normal and 20/20 hindsight, because if you’re going to do something, do it with overkill.
Capture the following creatures early on, as they fit into the mid-game and late-game structure described below. You may consult your in-game Wizard’s Companion for more details on each creature.
Bonehead (Shimmering Sands)
Little Bighorn (Old Smokey)
Shrimpaler (Old Smokey)
Tin-Man (Pig Iron Plains)
Oliver is used primiarly for slinging spells and attacking, assuming the rest of his fireteam (Esther, Swaine and Marcassin) are equipped and up to his level. It’s important to that for the Merit Awards from the Very Swift Solutions shop that Oliver purchase the “True Hero” perk, because the extra 100 HP and 100 MP will let Oliver “tank” some enemies with a correctly equipped familiar.
Oliver is adept with Milites, Vermes, and Dracones.
Needless to say, a Medal of Impunity should always be worn by Oliver himself, regardless of any other equipment because it will save his ass. That’s right. IGN can print words in these guides we’d never say. Actually, who the hell are we kidding? We always use profanity.
Oliver starts off with the Mite, a damn good familiar …. until you get to Level 75 and enemies start really hammering home the dominance-opposition of the Stars, Suns, and Moons of your starter Mite. The only Planet aligned familiar, a Nobilia that you won’t get until you clear the game, will be practically useless after so long of an investment.
The Mite familiar in battle.
The mite can metamorph into a Dynamite or a Mermite (the latter is better if just by a shade), and the only reason you have this creature with you is because it attacks with a golden glim, and it has decent attack and movement speed. You can also defend with the Mite (all versions) and dispense with the need to switch to Oliver (with D-PAD DOWN — all the Pokemon trainers humans can use provisions, tactics, and defend).
Keep the mite around, but you will be using it mostly to occupy time late in the game until the next two familiars are available …
This creature is first found on the path to Old Smokey. It has big arms, looks goofy, but will be a tough customer for your Mite to kill, even if your gear and level are slightly over the enemy. This is because the Little Bighorn is a fighter who is resistant to physical attacks. Sounds like a perfect combination. The other great thing about this familiar, despite finding it early on to make it one of the few creatures to reach L99 first, is that it is neutral to most of the elemental attacks (see its stats).
Capture one, and if possible, capture a second one and start feeding it (or both) treats to “balance out” its growth in attack, defence, magical attack, magical defence, accuracy, and evasion. The gear it uses will be the same as the Mite, and before long, you may find this creature to be your main hitter. The Splatterhorn and Batterhorn versions of this creature are good upgrades (they can learn healing spells, in case you need to cast one in a hurry).
LITTLE BIGHORN No. 2
Dupe the first one. You may want the other set of tricks, or simply a clone army that doesn’t succumb to Dark Side mind control and murder you.
Esther will probably be only used when you have a creature that needs to be Seranded (captured). Otherwise, it is always a bad idea to take control of Esther, unless she’s about to die and too dumb to cast healing, or if everyone else is dead (in that case, you’re probably screwed).
Esther prefers using Aquatica, Aves, and Flora.
The fat ass blue bird is a good build for magical attack. Keep boosting that stat above others. When you morph it into a Flourongo or Electrongo, stack Field only attacks (spells which affect the entire battlescape) and watch the place turn red.
AND THE REST
We used a Green Buncher simply to fill out space, but despite that creature’s hefty attack score (over 500 by L50), it is vulnerable as an Overripe Buncher/Underripe Buncher to physical attacks by bosses and other creatures. We left these two spots on Esther’s team open for interpretation.
Swaine is called in to loot enemies with his Mugshot spell. Generally speaking, Swaine will be under-level compared to Esther and Oliver, chiefly because he joins the party about a quarter or later into the game. However, if you are truly grinding, you can even out the levels rather quickly.
Swaine prefers Automata, Mortui, and Bestiae. Notice that his default starting familir, the Hurly, is not present for this line-up, because it sucks (too slow and different genus type).
Little Tommy Stout’s familiar from Ding Dong Well will find a home with Swaine. The bot uses it well, and the creature is reasonably potent by now to continue leveling. Morphing the creature to the defensive Aye-Aye Catcher will let you learn Upsy Daisy, which lets you revive fallen allies in battle without using a Phoenix Down/Tear/Drop/Crap. Naturally, this creature is a secondary fighter (the mantles it uses rely primarily on evasion), so you need to bulk this kill squad with something that actually kills.
The skeleton men roaming the south Summerlands are worth picking up and using. Like the Little Bighorn, they are fighters who are resistant to physical attacks, but they have a weakness to Light attacks, which some creatures may use late in the game. Like the Mite and Little Bighorn, the Bone Heads use similar equipment (swords and shields) but they equip Fang items instead of badges. Keep one around but don’t over-do it; the Bone Head is a comparatively slow attacker, and its size prevents it from ganging up on small enemies with Oliver’s smaller creatures.
This giant robot is more of a damage sink (assuming Swaine has the HP to take it) and can be tamed once you reach Autumnia and the town of Hamelin about a quarter through the game. It’s slow, bulky, and probably not as good as the Bone Head. However, it is fairly resistant to physical attacks and the Swaine A.I. will depoly it frequently (more so than the Bone Head, which may be because of certain Tactical settings). With this familiar, Hammers are better than Axes, but if you don’t feel like messing around, you can duplicate the Bone Head (much like Oliver duping the Little Bighorn) and stick with that set-up.
Note though, that the Tin-Man can use Armor, some of which have excellent defence stats for turtling in a boss fight. This small bit of survival may be enough to let you switch to Swaine, summon the Aye-Aye Catcher (Thumbelemur) and cast Upsy Daisy to revive an ally before everyone dies.
Marcassin joins the party very late in the game (about 80% through), so unless you plan to farm Tokotoko for a while, he may be rather under-used. This character uses the same wand(s) as Oliver, but there’s probably no need for him to use anything but his default Imperial Scepter.
Marcassin prefers Daemonia, Minima, and Nymphae, hence capturing and developing one of these familiars early on for his use later.
His starting familiar will probably be at Level 40 (or so) depending on your level. It’s not a good fighter, but it will have good magical attack (much like Esther’s Drongo). Focus on that and let the Shrimpaler / Impaler you grabbed early on do the heavy lifting.
Along with the Little Bighorn, the Impaler is a good creature to enslave at Old Smokey. It’s fast, mobile, but can’t stand up in a toe-to-toe fight. However, the field attacks as a Hymnpaler or Grimpaler are potent (as far as magical attacks go). The key strategy is to capture one early and level it with Oliver or an open slot. During mid-game, the Dryad Spear is a good weapon for this creature, since each stab will generate a small amount of health. Late game, this creature serves back-up duty.