I'm not all smiles and sunshine!Vanille in battle
Vanille is a playable character in Final Fantasy XIII who concentrates on casting magic from a distance, as opposed to the close combat style of Lightning and Snow, although her casting animation is slow compared to most other party members. Despite being able to use the Attack command at the start of the game, she cannot use it after Chapter 3 because she does not have the Commando role, which she unlocks in Chapter 10.
When the player first acquires Vanille in the Pulse Vestige, she already has three ATB slots, though unable to select magical abilities or utilize paradigm shifts. She's the only one able to fight her Eidolon with five ATB slots as it's possible, albeit difficult, to acquire a third-tier weapon before that. Vanille's victory pose is to throw her rod into the air with a smile, then catch it and fold it into its pouch.
Vanille has the second highest Magic stat in the game, making her a good Ravager, and she can learn all elemental spells up to the -"ra" rank, with Fire and Ice being her -"ga" specialty. She lacks the elemental strikes. She learns Fearsiphon and Overwhelm, but does not learn Vigor.
She is an effective Saboteur, specializing in abilities that lower the enemies' defenses. Vanille is the first of the party to access Saboteur and is the most developed SAB for the majority of the game. She learns every spell except for Slow, Curse, and Daze, and has a weapon that boosts the success rate of debuff spells.
She has the only full ATB skill that is not a Commando or Ravager ability: Death, a Saboteur ability that deals heavy non-elemental magic damage to an enemy and has a 1% base chance of inflicting instant KO, but the success rate is boosted by the SAB role bonus and the number of status ailments on the enemy. Unlike Snow's Sovereign Fist or Fang's Highwind, Vanille's Death does not clear the enemy's chain gauge and benefits from the En-spells, allowing her to reach the damage cap and do so repeatedly. Unlike all other full ATB skills, Death will not delay the end of a stagger period or keep an enemy alive at 1 HP during the animation.
Vanille's greatest strength lies in her Medic role, where she rivals Hope when it comes to effective healing as both learn all MED skills. Due to her higher HP stat, Vanille is less likely to be knocked out by powerful attacks than Hope. She learns the MED spells earlier, but Hope tends to have higher MAG so he can heal for more.
Compared to the other party members, Vanille makes a weak Commando or Sentinel. As a Commando, she doesn't learn Blitz or Launch and has lower STR, but can cast Ruin and Ruinga for damage, although she doesn't get Ruin until stage 7, and Adrenaline until stage 8. She learns Reprieve and Mediguard as a Sentinel.
- Base statistics
Let's see some fireworks!Attacking with Hecatoncheir in Gestalt Mode
Vanille's Eidolon is Hecatoncheir, a multi-armed, Earth-elemental Eidolon that transforms into a bipedal mech with four machine gun turrets. Vanille calls her Eidolon by the pet name "Hecaton" (a nickname found on the inner circle of his summon symbol, rather than "Hecatoncheir").
Vanille's weapon is a binding rod. Its headpiece resembles a pair of antlers and the body consists of four long wires with hooks that deal damage to enemies by latching on and pulling, similar to a fishing rod. Vanille is the only character who has no weapon when she first joins the party.
Vanille starts with Binding Rod that boosts her STR, but as Vanille doesn't have many physical attack abilities, this weapon is quickly outclassed by her other weapons. Pearlwing Staff provides the highest MAG of all her weapons and has the synthesized "Magical Wall" ability.
Her Belladonna Wand has the "Improved Debuffing" passive ability that boosts the success rates of Poison, Deshell, Deprotect, Imperil, and Dispel by 20%, while Lv II boosts them by 40%, and has the ability to synthesize "Buff Duration".
Healer's Staff has "Improved Cure" that augments the healing of MED spells by 10%, and 20% at Lv II, but has low max stats. Rod of Thorns is her balanced weapon with equal STR and MAG and the ability to synthesize "Magical Wall". Heavenly Axis has "Stagger Lock" and high MAG, but seeing that Pearlwing Staff gives more MAG without the Stagger Lock, this weapon is not so useful for her.
Mistilteinn has "Ally KO: Power Surge" that boosts Vanille's damage by 110% for each KO'd ally, while Lv II boosts it by 130%. With this weapon fully upgraded and two KO'd allies, Vanille can potentially do x3.6 damage and still add to that with "Critical: Power Surge", but the benefits would be situational.
Vanille is a playable party member in chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, and 13. Near the end of Chapter 9 the player gains the ability to freely configure their party make-up, and Vanille can be used as the party leader, where she also appears as the player-controlled character on the field. If used as party leader on the Archylte Steppe, she can ride a chocobo and find buried treasures. There is an optional scene between her and Hope, viewed by visiting Yaschas Massif. In Oerba, there is a sidequest involving finding missing parts to fix Vanille's pet robot, Bhakti.
Vanille is a mandatory party member in the following boss battles:
- Manasvin Warmech (Chapter 3)
- Garuda Interceptor (Chapter 3)
- Dreadnought (Chapter 4)
- Enki & Enlil (Chapter 6)
- Midlight Reaper (Chapter 8)
- Brynhildr (Chapter 8)
- Bahamut (Chapter 10)
- Hecatoncheir (Chapter 11)
- Anavatapta Warmech (Chapter 12)