After playing the Berserkers, my thoughts turned to a different variant goal. See, most Final Fantasy variants, like weak parties or solo characters, turn into an exercise in retrying. FF's battles include enough random elements and variance that almost every fight can be won with enough reloads and retries. Victory rings somewhat hollow when there's no possibility of defeat.
I want to win the game, without losing. The goal is to complete the entire game without ever suffering a party death and reload.
For even this victory to have meaning, we must specify no level grinding, same as the Berserkers. Let's not spend about a month leveling to 50 before Marsh Cave. :) The Berserkers had a bit of a loophole for "stealth" level grinding, in that I could call a retreat from a dungeon to revive and heal, if necessary. That possibility can't be avoided -- I'd rather retreat from Ice Cave than throw into suicide a solo remaining character -- but I'll carefully note any such instances.
I've actually tried to do this a couple times before, both back in the day on an NES and recently on an emulator. I usually tried with a party of Fighter - Thief - Red Mage - White Mage, but that's suboptimal. New discoveries about the mechanics of running render the Thief irrelevant.
The next task is to pick our party for this attempt. One Fighter in the lead is indispensable. I also insist on two White Magic casters, for the critical spells LIFE and EXIT and redundancy so each can raise the other. It makes the most sense to have them both be Red mages, since they double up for black magic duty as well including FAST, and physical capability early on.
The fourth slot is up for grabs and could make sense either as a Black Belt, second Fighter, or third Red Mage. Well, the BB doesn't convincingly surpass the fighter until level 32, which I don't intend to reach in this exercise. A third RM is tempting for triple redundancy on the white magic, but I think that'll leave me with insufficient offense against Fiends. So a second Fighter it is.
So it's the classic super-powered party: Fighter - Fighter - Red Mage - Red Mage. Hey, some folks like to accomplish normal things with weak resources and limited options. I like to accomplish extraordinary things with normal resources.
Of course, Diablo 2 has this variant concept, it's called Hardcore. My FF1 variant is slightly different, in that individual characters who die can be resurrected (who wants to stake the entire game on an ASTOS RUB?) And because I intend a single pass without level grinding, this also bears similarity to the Diablo 1 Ironman games. (Although FF1 certainly doesn't lend itself to true Ironman style play without visiting and returning to towns. You'd never have enough heal potions, and spell recharges would be limited to about five Houses the whole game.)
So I dub this variant Ironcore.