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It seems Esther will happily burn all her mana on party buffing songs that aren't really necessary on the first random bunny we find outside town. I'd prefer it if she would save her mana for boss fights and bounty hunts instead.

I know about the Tactics option for "Don't Use Abilities" but I still want her to use low-mana offensive familiar spells while I control Oliver for his more flexible spellbook. However, the expensive buff songs like Quick March and Cheer are built-in to her character, so I can't simply disable them by swapping familiars out. Swaine doesn't have a large mana pool for familiar special abilities.

How can I have the AI use Esther as an offensive familiar caster and not a coffee-addict bard?

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This is an unfortunate limitation of Ni No Kuni - you can't really get fine-grained control of your AI teammates. What I tended to do was set them to not use their abilities at all, and then override that with "all out attack" or "all out defense" options as needed.

To quote myself:

While in combat, your other party members will be controlled by an AI. These AI helpers are generally dumb as bricks. You can set a basic AI script for them in the Tactics menu while in combat. These boil down to things like “don’t waste your MP” or “WASTE YOUR MP, OMG WASTE IT NOW” and so on. Your AI companions will tend to throw out their first familiar whenever combat starts, so keep that in mind if you have a preference about who they’re using.

A bit after you’ve filled your party, you’ll also get the option to press a button and have them switch to “all out attack” or “all out defense” tactics on the fly. This can be handy in situations where you need them to heal you or do heavy damaging moves on your command.

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