I discovered an option I hadn’t seen before when I first booted up my copy of Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster. Upon opening the Final Fantasy X menu, I was asked whether I wanted Standard Sphere Grid vs Expert Sphere Grid. It took me less than two minutes before I realized I had no idea how to play.
Since we had never encountered the Expert Sphere Grid before, it was only available in international versions of Final Fantasy X. For those of you, like me, who were unsure which grid to use in this situation, here is a breakdown of both grids so you can make an easy choice?
Standard Sphere Grid
Most of you are probably familiar with what is known as the Standard Sphere Grid. Each character starts in its own grid area, and most characters are separated by several modules.
Your characters follow fairly straightforward paths when using the Standard Sphere Grid. If you required Yuna to be both a white and black image, you would have to spend quite a few moves.
Beginners don’t necessarily have to worry about that. This sphere grid is excellent if you don’t know precisely what path you need your characters to take, or if you don’t need to think about it too much.
Another benefit of the Standard Sphere Grid is its sheer number of nodes. Unlike the Expert Sphere Grid, XC Grid has approximately fifty more nodes, so you can maximize your stats using XC Grid. On both grids, stats can be maxed out, but on the Standard Grid, there are many more empty spaces, making it a more challenging task.
Expert Sphere Grid
I was confused by the Expert Sphere Grid option when the option to choose my grid came up. Since I had never seen it before, I had to do some quick research to figure out how “expert” I should use it.
Based on the above image, it’s easy to see that your team members all start in the center of the grid very close to one another. The fact that each team member already has a few nodes filled out makes it easier to change roles and paths early on.
Lulu and Yuna, for instance, can switch roles early on, making Lulu the white mage and Yuna the black mage. It is also possible to combine the two methods if you wish. Early in the game, you can easily customize the roles of your team members and tailor them to your needs since everyone starts so close together.
To customize your characters well without wasting spheres and moves, you do need some prior knowledge (or research). Beginners may want to stay away from this grid for their initial playthroughs since it is straightforward to wander about the board without a clear goal in mind, leaving your character a jack of all trades.
Additionally, this board requires a lot of deliberate action and has fewer empty nodes to customize later in the game for those who want to maximize their stats. While it is possible, careful consideration is required.
Comparing the Grids
In Final Fantasy 10, the difference between the two grids is where each character starts.
All party members are located very far from one another on the Standard Grid. They essentially have sections of the grid and a path that deviates slightly until they reach the end. This defines each character well into their roles – Tidus is a warrior with a lot of agility, Lulu is a black mage, etc.
On the other hand, all characters in the Expert Grid begin on the same node. Each character starts connected to a section of the grid-like their section on the Standard Grid, but you can send them down any path you choose.
There’s no reason you can’t create a white image out of Tidus, make Lulu a fighter who deals with lots of status ailments, and turn Tidus into your white mage. Characters who change their path will face challenges early on but are eventually able to adapt to their new role.
Which Sphere Grid Should You Choose?
Using either grid, it is more than possible to win the game. In addition to the Standard Grid, using the Expert Grid is an excellent idea for those who want to experiment with their characters and builds. It’s possible to beat even the most challenging bosses in the game when considering stat maximization.
For example, the Expert Grid has early availability of Lancet for every party member, which is especially advantageous for mages with a high requirement for MP, as well as access to Steal and Use as early as your first Level One Key Sphere. Additionally, the ability to learn basic black and white magic spells on multiple characters is quite useful.
People might be swayed by the fact that the Standard Grid has more nodes overall. Ultimately, this means that it is possible to maximize the essential combat stats while also achieving 99,999 Max HP with enough grinding and sphere collecting. On the Expert Grid, this feat isn’t possible due to fewer nodes, but it’s also not necessary.
My first time playing the game, I have no interest in maxing out stats, and I am sorely tempted to make Tidus a black mage just for the sake of it. Choosing a game to play should be based on your playing style and game goals.