Arknights: Mastery Priority Guide - Black Forest Wills A Dream

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Aww no cool Nordic name for this event? That's lame. On CN this event was Skógrinn Svartr Vill Einn Draumr. Guess they dumbed it down for EN. To be fair, I have no idea how to pronounce Skógrinn Svartr Vill Einn Draumr. But it looks cool! And no IS#4 announcement yet either? Double lame! Oh well. Typhon is at least a great unit so I'm still excited.

This article specifically covers the new units from the Black Forest Wills A Dream event, You can find the full version of the guide here, or on the banner below which covers all of the other noteworthy Masteries in the game

FAQ and Banner Discussion

Q:  Should I pull?

A:  Yes.  Almost a hard yes (more so than Eyja’s banner), although as we'll get into, pull choices are getting pretty dicey.  As powerful as Typhon is, she isn't quite the "must-have" tier.

Typhon is a direct powercreep to Rosa and does so in a pretty dramatic fashion.  On top of incredible total damage and huge DEF-pierce, Typhon is probably the simplest meta unit to use while still holding a lot of flexibility in that use.  Need steady map-long DPS?  Activate S2 twice and you're done.  Can't keep a boss in one place or know how to deal with additional phases?  Just let S3 track it for you (plus ammo!).  If you measure power compared to ease of use, it doesn't get any better than Typhon.

Q:  I have Rosa.  Do I need Typhon?

A:  Well, you don't need anyone.  The answer to this sort of question is always a sort of "welllllllll not really because you don't need anyone specific, but..."  However, in the case that "but" is pretty dramatic.  I don't want to spend a lot of space punching down on an old unit, but Typhon is pretty much better in every meaningful way.  Rosa was a nice supplemental DPS unit, but not really a core meta one.  Typhon elevates that Besiger role well into the core of the meta.

Q:  But I don't like Typhon's art!

A:  No one does.  I'm tempted to write something snide here.  I get that LM7 art is questionable, but as someone who has to analyze units in an objective way, getting bent out of shape because of LM7-face seems so... petty.  On the other hand, I've always encouraged rolling for waifu and art is just an extension of that.

I only really put this question here because I know it comes up a lot and if you're one of these people, I want to point out that she gets a totally free skin as part of the IS#4 rewards ladder in only a couple of months.  It looks much much better than her default art.  Ultimately, you should play the game as you have fun with, but I'd be very cautious about passing on a unit of Typhon's power just because of her art.

Q:  Who should I plan to pull for, Typhon or Ray?  Does owning either Pozëmka or Ch'en the Holungday affect the pull decision?

A:  Guards get a lot of attention for how crowded their class is, but I think Snipers are probably the most stacked.  There's four of them which tread that S+/EX line now, and really, I don't think either Typhon or Ray should be skipped by many people.  All four are extremely good and are good at different things.  A well rounded high-end roster will include all four.

However, we're entering a rather... dangerous time when it comes to pull priority.  Almost every unit in the next 6 months is good.  Pull decisions are going to get really hard for non-spenders.  It's so bad that I'm dedicating a full question to the topic in the next item.

So that said, I suppose I still have to compare them since a lot of people are asking these questions.  Supposing you decide that Snipers are where to tighten the purse strings a little bit...

Again, keep in mind, this is nitpicking.  I know I sound like a broken record here, but nothing here should be taken as some indication the unit is bad.  All four are top tier units!

First, I would aim for at least one of Ray or Typhon regardless of if you already own Ch'en and/or Pozëmka.  Ch'en is her own beast among the four of them since she is more area focused, while I think Pozëmkais probably last in power among the four.  Of course, all content is clearable without either Typhon or Ray, so feel free to adjust here depending on your comfort level with current content.

Which to focus after that I think comes down to the kind of player you are.  I hesitate to use the words "quality of life" with Typhon because it really undersells her.  She's a DPS unit and an amazing one.  QoL is nearly insulting in this case.  Yet she does lean more in that direction than Ray does.  Typhon is about as simple as end-game units get.  S2 is infinite duration so you set it up then forget it.  S3 tracks the boss for you so you just wait for her to target the enemy you want dead.  It doesn't get much easier.  In comparison, Ray requires a ton more micromanagement between her ammo and her sandbeast which is essential to maximizing her.

I think *most* players will be better off with Typhon.  Simply put, she's easier to use and you'll more reliably get good results.  Typhon will also be much more helpful in progressing through IS#4 since Ray won't be out for another 5-6 months.  However, Advanced players who aren't afraid of depth will get more use out of Ray.  Ray has a higher potential ceiling, but requires a good amount of work to get there.  She isn't for the faint of heart, but is rewarding for those brave enough to try.

Q:  With all of the meta units coming up, can you make general pull priority suggestions?  The lookaheads don't really give that information.

A:  I usually avoid things like this in my articles.  There's a lot of potential nuance here and the answer can vary quite a bit with your existing team and preferences.  Nevertheless, as I've noted elsewhere, almost everyone upcoming is good.  There's a lot of confusion there, so I'll give my two cents on relative importance.

Must Pull:  Degenbrecher

Strong Pulls:  Typhon, Ray, Virtuosa

Maybe:  Jessica the Liberated

Probably Pass:  Hoederer, Viviana

(see notes for Shu and Zuo Le)

A few notes among this list.

Degenbrecher - On her release, I was cautious about elevating Degenbrecher to the EX tier.  She was, of course, very very good but fast bursts don't tend to be as good as long bursts.  However, as it turns out, Degenbrecher is just too damn good at it on an incredible cycle with control.  She's insane and is a pretty hard IS#4 carry.  I’m still not totally sure if she’s an EX unit, but she is by far the best unit ahead.

Typhon vs Ray - Both have value.  Ray has a higher ceiling, but Typhon is easier to use.  We also have six months of content before Ray, so I don't think you should really "choose" between them.  I've never been a fan of missing opportunity value, and the opportunity value says to grab Typhon now.

Jessica the Liberated - If you follow the community with any regularity, you've probably seen some hype around Jessica and IS#4.  I updated the lookahead in this article myself about it too.  However, she got booted from the IS#4 meta as fast as she entered.  She does have value since she's part of a lot of optimized clears.  She works well with various relics, has bulk, utility, and enough damage for basic holding.  However, it's all very advanced and minmax'd.  She is very hard to use in that role and most people won't get anywhere near that value.  She's not bad by any means, and her flexible kit makes her a reasonable overall unit, but don't get carried away by the hype.  Jessica is *not* an IS#4 carry that you may be expecting.  Look to Degenbrecher for that.

Hoederer and Viviana - If you're a fan of either of these, I'm sorry.  I can already see some Hoederer fans raging on Twitter about this (at least Viviana fans embrace her being mooseless).  I want to be clear that neither of these units are bad.  The problem is *everyone* in the next 6 months is good.  If you like them, by all means roll for them!  However, some tough choices will have to be made for pull priority, and these two are the easiest cuts for most players.

Lessing - He's not on this list because he's a Welfare.  But also he's awful.

Shu and Zuo Le - I didn't include these two in the above list as I like to let new units marinate a bit before staking my flag on them.  Foresight is one of our great benefits on global and snap judgements are prone to being wrong.  However, I know a lot of people will want at least a cursory preview so…

Zuo Le will have a very similar assessment to Executor the Ex Foedere.  They go about getting to their destination a bit differently (Zuo Le is more about skill spam), but ultimately have very similar use cases.  He is very powerful, but also more replaceable.  I expect him to still be below Degenbrecher in priority among Guards, although well above Hoederer and Viviana.

Shu is... complicated.  Her S3 literally breaks the game in places and has the potential to be the go to stall option over Mostima.  However, it's tough to say at this point if that's useful or just gimmick-y.  There's also her ludicrous Sui Talent which is going to have a very angry rant associated with it at some point.  Toxicity aside, it's stupidly powerful and is going to greatly muddy the pull decisions.

Full honesty, I’m not sure where Shu fits on this list and I’ve rewritten her section several times.  We’ll have to see how things unfold on CN.

4 and 5★s - There are no must have gacha 4 or 5★s coming up.  Bassline is the only one who might have some decent value for more than a small fraction of niche players.

Q:  Will there be any grade updates for IS#4?

A:  Maybe some minor ones.  I’m still reviewing things.  In general I try to balance the guide so that such seasonal adjustments aren’t needed.  The guide focuses on Ascension 7/10 rather than max so the specific pressures that tend to get talked about in meta discussions are lower impact.

A few specific items I may address:

  • Upping Protector grades.  Don’t expect anything extreme, but raw bulk blockers are pretty useful in IS#4, as well as seeing their overall value trending upwards lately.
  • Maybe upping Caster grades.  IS#3 was harsh on Casters with runaway RES as Ascension increased.  That is reigned in quite a bit in IS#4 so Casters see a resurgence of value.  I avoided overdoing negative grades on Casters during IS#3 (since most of the pain was over Ascension 7) so I don’t think any major adjustments are necessary, but a few key units might see a grade bump up.

Q:  Any tips for IS#4?

A:  No.  I know I stretch the topics a “Mastery” guide should cover quite a bit already, but IS strategy is a huge rabbit hole.  I’m already spending a huge amount of space discussing pull priority.  IS#4 is worthy of an entire article and not a single question in a FAQ of an unrelated article.

What I will say though is that if IS#3 scared you off with it’s frustrating RNG, give IS#4 another try.  They really reigned in a lot of that frustrating RNG (no more Metastatic!) and the Totem system lets you straight up eliminate insta-lose maps (no more OOC!).  IS#4 is quite a bit easier than IS#3 is, at least until the ending 4 update, but that’s a problem for future us.

Q:  Who is Valarqvin and why is she in this update?  She wasn't in the event announcement.

A:  Valarqvin is the welfare unit for IS#4 (the fourth iteration of Integrated Strategies).  She is earned in the IS#4 rewards ladder in the same way Highmore was for  IS#3.  She is not technically a part of this specific event and, as I publish this article, IS#4 has not been announced yet.  However, this event is directly associated with IS#4.  It is supposed to be the lore lead-in to the story of IS#4.  I expect the next IS to be introduced or announced very soon, so Val is included in this update.

Q:  How does the Necrosis damage on Valarqvin's kit work?

A:  I'm planning to write a full article on this topic, so stay tuned.  Short version though, it works the same as it does for enemies, however the effects when triggered are slightly different.  Instead of the SP effect the Ch10 enemies inflict, friendly Necrosis deals 800 damage per second for 15 seconds along with a 50% Weakening effect.

Q:  Any Module thoughts this patch?

A:  EN - Black Forest Wills A Dream

This batch of Modules is relatively unimpressive, aside from Typhon's.

  • Flagbearers - For as meta as they are, the Flagbearer Modules are pretty missable.  The base effect works around a problem that's pretty minor and requires special positioning to do so.  It's just not that important.  The Talent buffs are more notable since it enhances all of their support options, but none of the buffs especially justify the costs.  Given how important Flags are, all of them are worth a gander, but your blocks are probably better spent on DPS options.
  • Typhon - Like all Besigers, Typhon's base Module is a must get.  The base attack scale effect is just ridiculously powerful and accounts for a 20% damage increase for a relatively low cost.  Her upgrades are also extremely good. but a bit less essential.  While Rosa needs her upgrades for just general damage, Typhon's are primarily focused on high-DEF enemies.  Against low-DEF enemies, her upgrades are barely noticeable.  Typhon's fully upgraded Module is definitely worth pursuing, but the upgrades are less essential than it is for Rosa if resources are tight.

CN (lookahead) - Here A People Sows

  • Chongyue - Chongyue got a pretty good Module, but maybe not the busted one it appears at first glance.  A lot of the benefit comes down to the extra ATK which scales extremely well with his kit.  The level 2 benefit is quite nice as well, letting him better keep up against waves of enemies.  Level 3 is an odd question mark though.  With how his SP generates, it actually has no benefit once his S3 is ramped-up.  Instead it just helps with that initial windup time, but not to any particularly strong degree.  Given the costs, his level 3 Module isn't worth it.
  • Mountain - A solid Module, although nowhere near as flashy and impactful as Chongyue's.  His regen means the ASPD buff is almost always applied, but the upgrades provide a decent improvement to his crit chance.  Those can be helpful things for the cheap early hold that Mountain is, but with so many ridiculously powerful Modules lately, it's a bit less essential than others.
  • Other Fighters - The non-6★ Fighters/Brawlers have always been a pretty uninspiring group, and they got Modules to match.  The gap between the rarities grows ever bigger.  They aren't awful Modules, with each providing an alright boost to DPS, but they aren't what the group needed either.  If you aren't a niche player or already using them, there's nothing worth looking at here.
  • Zuo Le - An all around solid Module for the new kid.  The full upgrade is essential if you plan to make use of him.  It provides a big bump to his ASPD and skill cycles (directly via the SP buff and indirectly by attacking faster) as well as lowering his thresholds.  It not only adds a huge dose of damage, but a huge dose of usability too.  The only downside is there's just so many meta Guards these days... It's tough to say all of them are essential and Zuo Le is just one of many options.
  • Shu - Shu has a solid Module, although not really one to blow you away either.  She’s already quite powerful as it is and most of the upgrades on her Module are relatively minor.  However, the automatic sowing from her level 3 is quite good which makes it a notable Module still.  But given the costs versus impact, it isn’t top priority either.

Q:  "The shilling myself question"

A:  If you missed it in the previous updates, I published my first fictional work.  You can find the clean version of it over on AO3 here.

Black Forest Wills A Dream - The Woe-cleansing Hurricane


S3M1 Breakpoint
S3M3 S++ S++ S++
S2M3 S+ S S++

Typhon is a powerful DPS unit with a lot of flexibility that will appeal to all kinds of players. She has huge DPS and DPH on a big range and a kit that works just as well against waves of trash as it does against bosses. To that end, she has two extremely powerful skills which makes her one of the strongest M6 considerations in this guide.

Her S3 is usually the skill to start with for Mastery. While there is a relatively even divide in usage between her skills, the upgrades to her DPS via S3 Masteries are quite a bit higher. Notably she gains extra ammo at M2 and M3 which are particularly valuable given the tracking nature of the skill and significantly increase her total damage. When activated, S3 "locks on" to the target and follows it, including if it moves out of her normal range or through a phase change. The extra ammo through Mastery is a big gain to usability on one of the most powerful boss killing skills available.

Make special note of the breakpoint on S3M1 which adds an additional instance of damage. That's a whopping 20% damage increase alone which makes it one of the most valuable breakpoints in the game.

If there's any knock against Typhon's Masteries, it's that her S2 Masteries aren't terribly impressive. The reduction of SP cost by 1 and initial SP improvement by 2 make it almost seem like they wanted to draw attention to it, like tipping a penny instead of nothing which might otherwise imply you just forgot. That oddity aside though, the ATK increase on such a huge quality-of-life skill makes Mastery well worth pursuing. It's especially important for IS use where you really want to maximize the flexibility of one of the top Sniper picks.


S2M3 C C+ C+

Yet another 5★ Caster to join the ever bloating group, although Santalla manages to stand out a little due to the potential power of Chill/Freeze and decent DPS. She makes a reasonable consideration for promotion and Mastery, although a long cycle and RNG ultimately make that relatively low in priority. S2 is the skill to go for to that end. All of the unique aspects of her kit are tied to her S2 and Mastery is a slightly above average benefit to DPS. However, Mastery doesn't change any core aspect of the skill so if you find her unsatisfying at SL7, Mastery is unlikely to change that opinion.

Unfortunately, her upsides are mitigated by the random nature of her S2. It actually isn't totally random. The icicles occur in a rotating fashion of parallel lines along her orientation (that is, columns if she is positioned up/down and rows if she is positioned left/right). They fall, relative to her, left > right > center, then repeat. Within that column/row it is still random. This pattern, along with the splash, allows her to still apply Freeze relatively consistently, although the RNG can still result in frustrating misses.

The Freeze additionally benefits her via RES reduction, although that only ends up applying to a relatively small portion of her total attacks.

There's no reason to pursue her S1. It's a generic skill that removes all unique aspects of her kit as well as having significantly lower overall DPS. The only benefit it has over her S2 is uptime, but at that point you're better off just using a different unit.


S2M3 B- B B

Valarqvin is our first introduction to friendly Necrosis damage. For a 5★ introducing a new mechanic, she's pretty decent at it too since her Necrosis damage is calculated before enemy RES (unlike Primal Casters). In the broader assessment, her total damage isn't all that special and her skill cycle is too long for the duration the debuff lasts. However, the ability to reliably apply 12k damage which bypasses traditional DEF and RES is pretty powerful for the rarity. It makes her a unit worth noting, especially for those who favor more off-meta approaches, although she is mainly just a novelty for more meta focused players.

S2 is Valarqvin's better skill by quite a bit, primarily due to how S1 struggles to build Necrosis damage in a timely manner. At max level and S2M3, she will only require 6 attacks during S2's duration to trigger the Necrosis fallout which is just over 6.5 seconds. A decent pace! That's down from 8 attacks at SL7 so Mastery makes a fairly large difference as well.

In comparison, she requires 3 charges of S1 to trigger the Necrosis Fallout against regular enemies. At best, this takes 8 seconds at S1M3 which is already slower than S2 along with a lower target count. This also assumes all 3 charges hit the same target and she's allowed to build up two (her max) before the target comes in range. Any benefits to consistency that these charge skills typically have is mostly lost to S2's pretty forgiving downtime time. And finally, all these numbers stack up much much worse versus elites. Even against elites and bosses, she can still still trigger Fallout in a single S2 activation while S1 requires a whopping 8 charges at 7 SP each!

The one exception here is within IS#4 where her mode specific Talent will allow her to apply Necrosis Fallout on regular enemies in two charges and elites within three thanks to the extra build-up. That might have some value if you're aiming for low-rarity IS#4 clears, but is just too fringe of a scenario for most people to consider.

The Grading System

Story vs Advanced vs Roguelike

There are very few absolute answers when it comes to prioritizing upgrades. A major determining factor is what exactly your goals are. Now, there are actually many more types of players than these three, but the most obvious delineation as far as which Masteries to think about comes down to the type of content you're most interested in clearing. If you only find value in first time story clears and risk 18 CC, then your goals will be different for someone looking to reach high-risk (25+) in CC.

Story - A story player is a player who is only interest in rewarded content.  This means all normal stages and challenge modes (without added personal challenges), risk 8 on CC daily stages, risk 18 on CC permanent stages, and the SSS game mode.

Advanced - An advanced player here is any player interested in non-reward topics such as higher risk CC and more min-maxed gameplay or specialty clears.

A note on the topic of the Advanced grades is that these grades should not be taken as specific advice for a specific CC. There may be an occasional specific note to provide some context or example, but the intention here is to be more general than a particular event and prioritize skills that will be broadly useful in multiple scenarios. A skill appearing once in a high-risk CC is not enough for inclusion here as CCs tend to lend themselves to niche scenarios that can't really be planned for. Further still, Advanced grades encompass all min/maxed gameplay and do not, strictly speaking, have to be about CCs.

Roguelike - These grades are specific to the Integrated Strategies game mode (aka, the Roguelike mode or IS#2 or IS#3).  These grades are slightly different compared to the Story vs Advanced delineation since the same sort of pressures apply in the mode regardless of the type of player you are.  These grades tend to be more "meta" focused than the others.  For IS#3, only up to Ascension 7 (trimmed medal) is considered for grades, however write-ups may include suggestions for higher Ascensions.

The Grades

S - These Masteries are the cream of the crop. They are Masteries that everyone with the unit should do and give a high priority to. Units with S tier Masteries get an outsized value from them, either because the skill is incredibly powerful or because it changes how the unit is used.  For the Roguelike mode, S-tier grades are reserved for the best skills on the most meta of units (whereas meta value is not necessarily a requirement in other mode grades).

A - These Masteries are powerful Skills that most players who have the unit should do. These are among the most powerful Masteries in the game, but less overtly overpowered than the S-tier Masteries.

B - These Masteries are reasonably powerful and worthy of consideration, but have a factor which hold them back. The impact may be relatively small for the cost, the unit may not be especially powerful already, the unit may not fit well into the meta, or there may be a better version available, among other examples.

C - These Masteries are strong enough to be noted, but should only be done by the most end game of players with nothing else to do. There's value in them, but most players will have something better to be doing.

Breakpoint - Not a true grade, but a designator given to an M1 that gives an unusually large benefit. In most cases, these should be prioritized immediately after the E2, thanks to their low cost and high value. Note that there are many M2 and M3 breakpoints but they are not considered breakpoints for this purpose as the cost is much more expensive. Also note that some breakpoints on valueless skills are excluded as well.

NG or None - Not a true grade, but these are sometimes used for Skills which are noteworthy but not worth Mastery.  Either the skill or unit is not worth using, or the Mastery has very poor Mastery gains.  NG stands for "No Grade".

Please remember all rankings here are considered independent of E2 priority, but do consider overall unit strength.  And most importantly, these grades should be treated as guidelines rather than absolute requirements.

Mastery Look Ahead

A whole bunch of new units this time! I've added the units for both the To the Grinning Valley event and the Here People Sows event. It's a bit earlier than usual for the latter so hopefully I don't regret it, however the event has been over for a few weeks and there's no special content on the immediate horizon so I don't see much changing before the next Mastery article. Additionally, there's a new addition to the lookaheads: TL;DRs! While I do hope you actually read my lookaheads, I've opted to include a shorthand as well to summarize which skills I actually recommend since it's not always clear.

Come Catastrophes or Wakes of Vulture
Coldshot Welfare While I always applaud HG for trying new things, Coldshot seems like a half baked idea. There's potential in the archetype and I look forward to what the eventual 6★ can do, but in Coldshot's case, the kit just isn't there. The ammo mechanic is a hindrance with no upside that regular skills couldn't do which leaves her as a low DPS, poor range, single target unit with no utility. She at least hits fairly hard which is nice, but even then doesn't compare well to similar options at the rarity. She will be ungraded, but stick with S2 if you do raise her. S1 just has no upside in comparison.

tl;dr Ungraded, but favor S2.
Almond Gacha Being a Hooker (puller) already put Almond in a tough spot even before we knew her kit. The competition is tough between Gladiia and Cliffheart who are both commonly available welfares and both extremely good. Surprisingly then, Almond’s kit is "ok" for what it is. Not good exactly, but she at least has value in various Nicheknights. However, for the general player with no access restrictions, both of her skills are inferior to her competition. Gladiia's S1 is better than her S1 since she has no force increase at M3, and Cliffheart's S2 is generally better than her S2 since her cycle is much worse.

tl;dr Ungraded, but both are options.
Jessica the Liberated Gacha We haven't had a unit like Jessica in a long time, who has quite a difference in value, depending on the game mode. As an overall unit, she is merely average. She is a hybrid Defender mixing some utility, alright damage, and alright bulk. Not a bad package, but not especially great either. However, Jessica has carved herself out an incredible niche in the Roguelike mode. She ends up providing a near perfect mix of attributes for the demands of the mode with few flaws. The biggest flaw, her fairly low ATK on S2, isn't an issue in her basic laneholding role either (at least in IS#4). It's difficult to get too into the nuance in a single paragraph, but she's become the top Defender pick in IS#4, even edging out Horn who struggles a bit in the more confined maps. For Story players, her S3 will be the higher graded skill with a mid-level grade. It has a big ATK boost and lots of utility to go with it. S2 will be somewhere behind. The fairly low ATK on the skill will make it harder to find general use. However, for the Roguelike specifically, S2 will be the highest graded skill thanks to its better cycle and burst. It just ends up used more often than S3.

tl;dr S3 higher graded, mid-priority. S2 low-priority, but higher for IS.
Episode 13 - The Whirlpool That Is Passion
Delphine Welfare Delphine is surprisingly decent given how bad the recent 5★s and story welfares have been. She is another well designed Mystic Caster like Harmonie, and can output some pretty decent total damage, especially with the Arts DoT attached to her S2. Of course, 5★ Casters have a tough time justifying investment costs and that remains true here. Delphine is certainly a marked improvement relative to the recent lower rarities, but she will still be a fringe option. There’s a chance she picks up a grade, but if she does it will be lower than either Harmonie or Indigo due to a lack of utility.

tl;dr Leaning ungraded. Favor S2, as with other 4-5★ Mystic Casters.
Verdant Gacha Verdant is a somewhat similar situation to Humus, but much worse. He has the same fundamental problem of being worse than a freely available welfare unit (Bena, available from Record Restore), however unlike Humus and despite being a good archetype, Verdant isn't a particularly good take on the Dollkeepers. The Achilles heel of the Dollkeepers (and why Specter2 was so bad on release) is their effective cycle time since they can't generate SP in doll form. That flaw is on full display with Verdant, which is especially egregious since his S2 is already a bad DPS skill. Then to grind some salt into the wounds, his doll does essentially nothing in the meantime. Go with S2 if you do want to Master a skill. A bad DPS skill is better than no DPS skill and he doesn’t have the stats to tank with S1.

tl;dr Ungraded. Both skills are bad options.
Vendela Gacha Generally, Vendela is worse than the already ungraded Hibiscus the Purifier, so she is unlikely to pick up a grade. However, she is at least usable which is a step up from many recent 5★s. The unique value of her kit is in her S2, and abusing the taunt and reflect is the key to any niche she has above Hibiscus, however that is ultimately very situational and in most cases Vendela will just seem underwhelming. Her fairly mundane S1 may actually be the better daily driver given it has higher uptime and damage potential (before accounting for the reflect), although again Vendela's S1 is inferior to Hibiscus' S1 and Hibiscus doesn't have the reliance on it to begin with.

tl;dr Ungraded. Both skills are notable but likely lean S2.
Hoederer Gacha Hoederer is a tricky unit to evaluate. The damage is certainly there but in general people are getting carried away by highlight reels, which tend to play to his strengths and avoid his weaknesses. For example, he can solo 7-18 which is impressive.... but Executor2 could do it pre-Module on CM and he isn't top-tier meta either. Those Crusher weaknesses are potentially harsh too. The archetype frailty is here, S3 can be draining without a steady flow of enemies, and the cycle time is.... weird to say the least, among other issues. To be clear, he is good, especially relative to expectations of the archetype, but he is also probably not the new Surtr (which yes, I have seen someone say). We'll need some time to really assess just how good he is, but regardless his S3 should be well graded as his main skill. His S2 will pick up a grade also due to the stunlock potential on longer-windup enemies, however Mastery doesn't influence that use-case. S1 may be graded as well due to how much it heals on a short SP cost, but its uses will probably be crowded out by S3 and S2.

tl;dr All skills are potential options.
Zwillingstürme im Herbst
Caper Red Certs While recent non-6★ of new archetypes have been very undertuned, Caper is an exception who makes for a pretty nice low-rarity DPS unit. She has a good stat spread, strong DPS, a unique range, and doesn't seem to be as impacted by ASPD debuffs as other units. On the other hand, she has little utility, and meta-chasers won't find any value in what she brings. Still, niche players will find her to be a quite nice addition, and she's probably even good enough to justify the cert cost for newer players. S2 will be the skill for Mastery. It has far better damage thanks to the extra projectile. S1 doesn't do anything special and doesn't have good damage numbers for an Offensive Recovery skill of its nature.

tl;dr S2 modestly graded. Pass on S1.
Diamante Red Certs Diamante has gone pretty well under the radar, and that's largely because he's probably the least interesting unit in the patch. He's awkwardly set up to do most of his damage to units already under Elemental fallout, but the units best at applying Elemental fallout (Virtuosa and Ebenholz) don't need his help. He also isn't great at applying Necrosis himself, and even in the best case scenarios, his damage isn't particularly noteworthy. Add on a 600 red cert cost and you get a unit that’s not really worth the cost. That said, I wouldn't be too shocked if he shows up in some niche clears as a source of pseudo-True Damage, but even that will depend on if other Elemental damage dealers line-up with the niche theme. In such rare cases, either skill might have potential. His S1 is probably best in an isolated vacuum since it's the skill that can actually apply Necrosis, but S2 will out damage it if paired with other Elemental units.

tl;dr Likely ungraded, but both skills may be options.
Lessing Welfare After a strong start, the 6★ Welfares really fell off a cliff and that trend continues with Lessing. He's in a natively bad archetype and has meaningless utility, resulting in a unit with no good place on a roster. Self status removal seems an odd choice to design a unit around given that Lumen (another welfare) can already do it for everyone. There's a decent chance Lessing becomes the second ungraded 6★ after Vigil. If he does pick up a grade, it will be on his S3 which is the most impactful in total. Husbando and Welfare players will probably want his S2 as well, but for the general player, the effective cycle is far too long to be useful.

tl;dr Potentially ungraded. Lean S3, if desired.
Bassline Gacha Bassline is the best gacha 5★ in quite a while. He fills a strong basic role with plenty of niche value that makes him a pretty appealing consideration. His S1 is identical to Nearl (Defender) but he overall trades some healing effectiveness for bulk. Although like Nearl, the choice to invest in him rather than the much cheaper (and great in IS) Gummy is a fair question. His S2 adds some unexpectedly great additional niche value as well. It is the single best no-damage-stall skill currently available (think the UT gas cans / eggs or flowers) with a full 60 second uptime (20 seconds more than Nearl's S2), and the external Arts mitigation is also rare. To be clear, that niche will rarely see practical use. But it’s still worth nothing that he’s the increasingly rare kind of 5★ with the potential to appear in advanced end-game content.

tl;dr S1 well graded, similar to Nearl S1. S2 is a good Advanced stall option, but probably ungraded like other similar skills.
Viviana Gacha It's not really fair to compare Viviana to Surtr, who is one of the best units in the game. However, it's rather inevitable. It's also useful, I think, to show why Viviana is a below average 6★. Viviana lacks everything that makes Surtr so good, resulting in an ultimately subpar unit with little upside. She does cap out at some very high Arts DPS from a melee tile, which is natively a pretty strong niche to have, but the upside ends there. She has a long wind-up, no RES-shred, heavy RNG, a focus on "dueling", and no self-sustain. Whereas Surtr is brain-dead drop and delete, Viviana is quite a bit harder to use for usually far worse results. S3 will be her main, and probably only, skill for Mastery. It has the highest DPS and limits the RNG to her shields rather than her damage. There won't be much need to invest beyond that. S2 is decent enough, taken alone, but in places where it's better than S3, you should probably be using a different unit instead. The extra block will often result in her shields getting eaten up by trash hits.

tl;dr S3 likely the only graded skill, with mid-tier grades.
Virtuosa Gacha Limited Virtuosa (a.k.a. Arturia) is a remarkably unique unit. While most "unique" units end up being quite niche or gimmicky, Virtuosa is very powerful as she is the first unit to truly exploit the potential of friendly Elemental Damage. I do not have the space here to give a full write-up of the Necrosis effects, but the important part is that, when triggered, it effectively deals 12k True Damage. This is more than enough to kill most basic mobs and many elites, and Arturia can often trigger it on large groups with her Talent alone! She is currently the best "sweeper" in most situations, while also being similarly effective against bosses.

S3 will be her primary graded skill, with S1 somewhere behind. S3 triggers the Necrosis Fallout incredibly fast on all targets in a wide area. S1 will be more situational, but at S1M3 she begins with a full 3 charges which allows her to heli-drop the Necrosis Fallout effect against even bosses. Her S2 will probably be a pass. It's still good, but she's so good with her other skills there's rarely reason to bring another unit into the fold.

Lest I oversell her, there are two drawbacks to keep in mind. First, enemies can have both resistance to the Elemental Damage itself and to the resulting damage. Only enemies from her initial event currently have either resistance, which is why she is so powerful, but like normal RES with Casters, if it becomes more common, it will severely limit her. Second, her DPS isn't actually that high. As HP pools bloat in difficult content, she will become less and less effective compared to more traditional DPS options.

tl;dr S3 top-tier graded. S1 next and also high-graded. S2 possibly low-graded.
The Rides to Lake Silberneherze
Harold Welfare One has to wonder why Harold exists (As a unit, not as a character. As a character, he’s fantastic). There are already two 5★ Wandering Medics who are both good, and now a 6★ one as well, who is broken, so the design space is already pretty crowded. Harold straddles the line somewhere between the two Berries. He has better regular healing than Honeyberry S1, but a better cycle than Mulberry’s S2. That’s useful, especially if Harold fits into your niche or preferences, but anyone with either Berry or Eyja already raised won’t find him useful. His S2 will be graded similar to the Berries. The numbers between S1 and S2 are very comparable, but S2 has the additional Elemental Healing, which doesn’t leave much benefit for S1.

tl;dr S2 graded similar to Honeyberry/Mulberry S1.
Leto / Лето Gacha A Physical based Guard isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Being Physical is why SilverAsh is so good, for example. However, Leto just doesn’t hit hard enough and has no other real benefit to compensate. At max she tops out at around 1.6k ATK which is enough to punch through some basic DEF, but not tough DEF. She doesn’t bring much else to the table either. Aside from her DPS, she has almost no utility. Only Rosa’s S2 really benefits from her buff, and she has an awkward and unnecessary drawback. Overall, she is functional enough that she may find use in various niche clears but not much else. Leto will be ungraded, but go with S2 if you plan to raise her anyway. It has the higher ATK which she needs to puncture armor as well as the usual Lord benefits.

tl;dr Likely ungraded. Strongly favor S2, if desired.
Degenbrecher Gacha There’s an angry rant brewing, come Degenbrecher’s global release. I don’t get too fussed by powercreep in general, but Degenbrecher does it by tossing out one of the basic design principles of her archetype. She has Auto Recovery on her S3 instead of Offensive Recovery, which every other Swordmaster skill before this has had. And, shockingly (/s), it makes her really good. Her S3 is quite literally Irene’s S3 but better. AAAAAAAAAAA- ahem. Anyway, Degenbrecher teeters on the EX-tier with very strong burst damage on a competitive cycle. She also brings a new keyword, Tremble, which like previous new keywords will have to have specific coded immunities on enemies which gives her a leg up versus other forms of control. Her S3 will be among the highest graded skills in the guide. As mentioned, the Auto Recovery gives it a huge advantage and it also happens to be her best damage too. Only S3 is necessary for Mastery, but both S1 and S2 can make justifiable secondaries. S1 for AFK memes, but S2 otherwise with its shorter potential cycle and a reliable Tremble trigger.

tl;dr S3 is an easy S++ skill. S1 and S2 may get moderate grades as well, but neither compares to S3.
To The Grinning Valley
Warmy Gacha Releasing the 5★ Primal Caster for Burn before any Burn Ritualist is such a Hypergryph thing to do. Ugh. Regardless of who is released down the road though, I wouldn't expect any assessment of Warmy to change. Primal Casters are in a bad spot by default since they are reliant on another unit and are mediocre at applying the Elemental effect themselves. That's true for Diamante, and Warmy's kit is nearly a copy paste of his so the assessment ends up the same. She does enough damage to be usable if you want, but there just won't be any good meta justification, especially among the vast oceans of 5★ Caster options. As with Diamante, the skill selection is a pick your poison. S1 will allow her to inflict Burn, but is not very good at it. S2 relies on someone else to inflict Burn, but will do more damage in that case.

tl;dr Likely ungraded, but both skills may be options.
Ray Gacha Guards get a lot of flak lately (rightly so tbf) but what about Snipers? With Ray there are now four hyper-meta Snipers that tread the EX line. Ray is a single target specialist who hits extremely hard with a ton of flexibility and range. She's well designed too, showing how a kit can make use of the Hunter Trait, which Coldshot failed to do. Despite some stiff competition, Ray shows a ton of potential. Ch'en remains the go to Sniper for area sweeping, but Ray seems to show a higher ceiling than Pozemka or Typhon for single target DPS. She stole the crown of top Sniper pick from Typhon in the most recent CN IS#4 tournament for example! However, she is a very high skill ceiling unit and many people will prefer Typhon's simplicity compared to micromanaging Ray's pet. As for Masteries, S3 is the clear winner and will be another S++ graded skill. The secondary skill is harder to suss out and Ray could end up a graded M9, although both S1 and S2 will be comparatively low priority. I favor S1 for the really fun tech it enables. With her pet she can Shift at angles that more classical Shifters can't hit. S2 meanwhile may appear as an AFK skill but actually requires a lot of micromanagement to work with her ammo mechanic. It's a good skill, but seems to have a fairly small niche over S3.

tl;dr S3 top-tier grades. S1 and S2 possible lower-end grades.
Here a People Sow
Wanqing Welfare Hey, a good 5★! It only took being added on to an already good archetype. Much like Harold, Wangqing exists in a pretty crowded space. It's good by default which makes him notable, but you only need so many Vanguards. Although largely redundant, Wanqing brings some new and viable utility which should make him an option to consider. His DP generation and uptime are identical to Elysium so he should be graded similar to him, with the difference mostly coming down to the utility the situation calls for. New players and Advanced players will find him quite nice for a welfare, although Story players will mostly find him to be just another option among a sea of many, especially with Agents being in the fray as well.

tl;dr Both skills should be well graded options, similar to other Flagbearers. Favor S2 first with S1 being a more advanced luxury.
Grain Buds Gacha A rather average 5★ which, given recent trends, I suppose is better than normal. Grain Buds is really nothing special. She isn't really bad but doesn't really do anything special either. Just sort of filler that's difficult to find much to say about. She’s a modern replacement to Istina who was pretty fringe herself. If she appeals to you or you play any low rarity niche, then S2 is the target since she can reach 100% Slow uptime for the skill duration on a pretty good cycle. However, neither her DPS or utility has much general value.

tl;dr Ungraded, but favor S2, if desired.
Zuo Le Gacha Another busted Guard. At least Shu is broken in an interesting way. Zuo Le is just the latest entrant in the ever growing power spike. He's quite comparable to Executor the Ex Foedere in his gameplay, although he relies more on rapid skill activations. This makes him quite adept at low operator clears since he can keep up with even heavy rushes. I ultimately think he falls a bit under Executor and other recent Guards though. His DPH isn't especially high and he requires quite a bit more micromanagement and planning to use. That is nitpicking though, which is necessary given the recent powercreep. Zuo Le is extremely good and will be well graded. He's likely to be an M6 consideration, with S3 probably being the better graded. The instant duration and burst of his S3 plays better into his skill spam niche since S2 ends up with a longer skill cycle, although the reliable Barrier and extra block on S2 make it worth a solid look as well. His S1 might have some value as an AFK skill, but with no way to control his HP or Barrier, it falls more into the classic Musha problems.

tl;dr Strong M6. Top graded S3. Same grade or slightly lower for S2.
Shu Gacha Limited Oh boy. Shu is... difficult to assess. She is the most broken operator we've ever gotten, although I don't mean that in the way it's typically used. She isn't the "strongest" but rather she quite literally breaks the game in places. On top of that, her Sui Talent is incredibly powerful (and frustratingly toxic since it's locked behind Limiteds). It makes her painful to assess in write-ups like this. Is she a must pull or is she a pass among a sea of busted DPS? Honestly, it's hard to say. Attempting to look beyond that weirdness, she is a very solid Guardian with incredible healing numbers and stall potential that should see her with regular use. S3 will be the first target for Mastery which has some pretty serious gains for her core use. S1 will be well graded behind it, likely with the same grade as Saria's S1 (they're identical except in name). Her S2 is the final choice which is her best raw healing skill, although that usage trails a little behind the other two.

tl;dr At least M6, S3 > S1. S2 a consideration as well.
Reclamation Algorithm 2
Kestrel Welfare Kestrel fills a hole at the rarity which has been missing since launch. The offensive oriented 5★ Pioneers focus more on burst rather than fighting prowess so Kestrel fills a gap between Scavenger and Siege. Too bad she came out in year five of the game instead of year one then. Pioneer value has been in the toilet for years now and she comes right on the heels of a much better welfare at the same rarity, Wanqing. Niche players may be able to extract some value out of her, but in general, Pioneers just have no role in the current metagame. Even brand new players won't be able to benefit from her since she's locked behind the RA2 shop (although that may change if we also get the compensation currency that CN got)!

tl;dr Ungraded, but S2 is the better option.
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