Sabin is a playable character in Final Fantasy VI. He is a Monk, which makes him an excellent physical combatant, and he can also use magical attacks through Blitz commands that channel his ki. He is only a required party member for a brief portion of the World of Balance, but makes a powerful ally to bring along throughout the game.
Sabin has naturally high physical stats. His Strength and Stamina are the second-highest in the playable cast, second only to Umaro, yet his Speed is tied with Gau for the third-highest, and he also has great Evasion. Sabin's main flaw is his low Magic, which is tied with Locke for the third-lowest in the game. Additionally, his Magic Defense is the second-lowest, and his Magic Evasion is below average.
While Sabin's stats incline him towards physical combat, most of his Blitzes deal magical damage. This makes training Sabin a bit counter-intuitive, as in the long run it will be far more beneficial to boost his Magic than his Strength. It is therefore best to train him with magicite that include Magic stat gains on level up.
Sabin is focused on lightweight options. He joins the party equipped with a Metal Knuckle, Leather Cap and Leather Armor. His weapons are limited to claws, and his armor options consist of universal shields, hats, and light armor.
Sabin's weapon draw is limited; there are only a handful of claw weapons in the entire game. As his Blitzes are universally superior to normal attacks as long as the player can master their inputs, his weapons are more for utility options. Most of his claws have elemental properties, and his stronger claws offer helpful stat bonuses. Because Sabin's strongest Blitz commands rely on Magic, his ultimate weapon, the Godhand, is actually less effective for him than the Tigerfang, as it boosts his Magic and the Godhand does not.
Sabin's unique ability is Blitz, which lets him perform a special attack depending on the player's button input. When the player chooses Blitz in the command menu and confirms their selection, they must then input a specific sequence of other button presses before confirming them. If they input them improperly, Sabin will waste his turn trying to perform the Blitz incorrectly. Sabin learns new Blitz commands as he levels up, and his final Blitz, the Phantom Rush, can be learned instantly through a sidequest in the World of Ruin. Despite Sabin being a physical fighter, all of his Blitzes except for Raging Fist and Meteor Strike rely on his Magic for damage calculation.
Provided the player can master their inputs, there is no reason to perform any command other than Blitz at most any point in Final Fantasy VI. Raging Fist is a powerful attack that ignores defense and has a very simple input, and the Rising Phoenix provides a powerful group attack comparable to tier-two magic spells. Sabin's sixth Blitz, Razor Gale, is not as powerful as late-game spells, but has utility as one of the few wind-elemental attacks the player has access to, the others being the spell Meltdown and a few Lore and Dance commands.
In the World of Ruin, as soon as the player has access to the Falcon, they can travel to Duncan's Cabin and learn the Phantom Rush immediately. Phantom Rush is extremely powerful, a non-elemental magic attack on a single target that ignores defenses. With a spell power of 128, it is more than twice as powerful as Flare and almost as powerful as Ultima. With good training to Sabin's Magic, Phantom Rush can easily hit the damage cap. The only drawback of Phantom Rush is the complex inputs needed to execute it, but if the player can do so without difficulty, Sabin can pull his weight through the entire rest of the game simply by using Phantom Rush every turn.
In the World of Balance, Sabin joins the party on Mt. Kolts during the fight with Vargas. Once Vargas's HP falls below a certain threshold, a cutscene will play and the player will command Sabin alone. Using a Blitz command will instantly end the fight. Sabin remains a required party member through the Lethe River and is the focus of one of the Three Scenarios. After the Battle for the Frozen Esper at Narshe, Sabin is an optional character available for the rest of the World of Balance.
Sabin is recruited in the World of Ruin by visiting Tzen. Upon entering town a cutscene will occur, and the player becomes unable to leave town. Sabin is holding up the Crumbling House which the party must enter, save the child in the basement, and get out within six minutes. Afterward, Sabin rejoins the party. Sabin can be recruited at any time of the World of Ruin, but is available as soon as Celes reaches the mainland, and it is preferable to recruit him then as a second party member is extremely helpful.
After recruiting Sabin on Mt. Kolts, if the player goes all the way back to South Figaro and speaks to Duncan's wife, there is a brief scene where Sabin informs her of Duncan's fate. This must be done before reaching the Returners' Hideout; the scene will not trigger when visiting Duncan's wife later in the game.
When the player visits Figaro Castle with both Sabin and Edgar in the party and rests the night, a cutscene will occur of Sabin reflecting on the events that made him leave the castle ten years ago. The scene offers no gameplay benefit, it is purely for story. The scene can be viewed in either the World of Balance or the World of Ruin. If the castle is visited with only Edgar in the party, he will comment on Sabin not being there; if the castle is visited with only Sabin in the party, an identical scene will take place of him going to explore the castle upon entering it, but the cutscene of Sabin's past will not occur.
If Edgar and Sabin are both in the party when the player meets Setzer, Sabin will react in surprise at the presence of Edgar's two-headed coin. If only Sabin is in the party, there is no change to the scene compared to how it plays out when Edgar is not in the party.
When the player defeats the Tentacles in Figaro Castle, Sabin will have a few lines of dialogue that occur during the cutscene with Edgar afterward. There was also a line of him address a disguised Edgar when speaking to him in Nikeah, but the line was not implemented.
North of Narshe in the World of Ruin is a grove of trees in the shape of a cross. This is Duncan's House; if the player visits the house with Sabin in the party, a cutscene will occur where Duncan automatically teaches Sabin his final Blitz technique, the Phantom Rush.
If Sabin was not recruited in the World of Ruin, Edgar's ending scene that they share will be different when escaping Kefka's Tower at the end of the game.