Well, this is unexpected. I was prepared for either Mlynar or Stainless to be next, but I’ll admit I was expecting Stainless more. Not that I'm complaining. The skins in this patch are to die for. That Utage skin? Unf... It would have been a bigger crime than Dorothy to delay that. Oh ya, I guess there's some good new units here that people have been waiting for too.
This article specifically covers the new units from the An Obscure Wanderer 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
Q: Should I pull?
A: An emphatic yes. Many consider Mlynar to be the single best unit currently in the game. Sure, some might argue for Texas2, Surtr, or Ch'en2 instead, but everyone with any sense of the game will still have him among the very top. Plus, if one of the best units in the game wasn’t enough to convince you, the supporting 5★, Proviso, has the best RIIC base skill in the game. Speaking in terms of meta value, there is no reason to skip this banner.
Q: Wait, Mlynar is next? I thought we expected him to be delayed? What does this mean for Texas2?
A: Mlynar is indeed next, and it is indeed unexpected. Much of the schedule prediction talk was predicated on the idea that Il Siracusano would be run during Golden Week. The idea was that Texas2 during Golden Week would necessitate moving Mlynar’s release since there wouldn't be enough time to run the required Chapter 11 events on top of Mlynar. That’s where the idea that he would be delayed came from.
I talked about this topic a bit in my Dorothy Schedule article, if you want to see some of the speculation (it’s near the end).
Yostar, though, seems to have thrown us yet another curve ball. I don't want to get into too much detail here since this isn't a schedule prediction article. However, it now seems that Texas2 will not be during Golden Week. It is still possible, but would involve both the Near Light Rerun datamined date (April 14th) being changed and the Chapter 11 pre-banner being skipped. Those options, while possible, are unlikely, so odds are that Yostar will now run the events in order which would place Texas sometime in May instead.
As for why? We can only guess.
Q: I already have what I think is a powerful team, should I still roll for Mlynar?
A: Probably, yes. The thing with Mlynar is that he is so powerful that he opens up a new tier of power. Mlynar (and Texas2) don't expand the current top crust of the meta. They add a new layer to it. Of course, if you already find the game to be easy with your current team and have no interest in things like Ascension 15 IS#3 and high risk CC, that may not matter to you. However, a very top meta team pre-Mlynar will perform noticeably worse than a team with Mlynar (and/or Texas2).
Q: Should I skip this banner to roll for Texas the Omertosa?
A: No, don't skip this banner. The only exception in terms of meta-value is if you feel Texas2 is completely unmissable due to being a Limited. That matters to some people; however, there is a tremendous opportunity cost to skipping Mlynar. Mlynar is every bit as valuable as Texas is and this will be by far the best chance we will ever have to get him. Opportunity cost is an aspect many people overlook when it comes to pull decisions. By skipping Mlynar, you are removing many good total outcomes (getting both units) to increase the odds of a mid-level outcome (only getting one unit).
Only you can decide where that balance is for you, but know that if you choose to skip Mlynar you are giving up a lot of value.
Q: Does Mlynar powercreep SilverAsh?
A: Yes, Mlynar is better than SilverAsh. Sure, SilverAsh maintains some niches thanks to his strong Talents. However, the damage difference is staggering, and a large majority of the time Mlynar is the preferable pick.
The long answer is far more nuanced due to the type of game Arknights is. Powercreep means different things to different people. Many casual observers less familiar with Arknights would see discussions of meta and powercreep through the context of multiplayer. That is, using the non-meta options puts you at a disadvantage. However, that isn't really what happens in Arknights. In another game, Unit A powercreeping Unit B often makes Unit B worthless. That isn't the case here. Unless the stage design itself begins to change as a result of the powercreep (which so far it hasn’t), SilverAsh is no worse than he was before this patch, and he is still a top-shelf unit.
Q: Why is Mlynar only graded S++ when SilverAsh has been graded S+++?
A: This is the first part of a larger grade adjustment I'm working on. I wasn't planning on doing it yet, but the event being moved up has left me little choice in this aspect.
One of the changes I am intending to make is to remove the S+++ grade. It looks silly and the nuance it adds isn't really helpful, not to mention it closes some doors as the game increases in power. Should the next busted unit be graded S++++ if they happen to be better than Texas2? Would I be using S+++++ in a couple years?
Essentially from here on out, S++ is the ceiling. The best of the best skills will be in this category since the nuance between them loses a lot of meaning. Thus, Mlynar and SilverAsh have the same grades (or will when I push the update). Is Mlynar's S3 better? Yes. Does the difference between two of the best skills in the game matter enough to complicate the guide? No.
I will be considering alternatives in the future, so if you have any feedback, please let me know!
Q: Should I pull for Mlynar Potentials?
A: No! Unless you are an endgame player, in which case you're not reading this article in the first place, it is never worth pulling for pots. Even Bagpipe’s SP pot, and Texas2’s redeploy time pot are minor upgrades in the grand scheme of things. It simply costs too much in pull resources for a difference that will only matter if you are pushing the very very *very* endgame.
With all that said, Mlynar has some of the most valuable Potentials in the game. Strangely so. His Talent and ATK pot add over 9% more DPS over pot1. Again, I am *not* telling you to pull for pots here. If you are a non-spender, do *NOT* pull for potentials! However, if you've ever considered spending a little bit to go that extra mile on a unit, Mlynar is the one to do it on.
Just don't miss out on Texas2 because of it.
Q: Should I be raising Proviso for her base skill?
A: I want to emphasize something first. You should NEVER E2 a unit for their base skill alone. The best ones take literal years of ideal play to pay off. It is not worth it!
Except… Proviso might be the first exception to that rule. Not only is her Trading Post (TP) skill ridiculously good, but it double-dips by allowing an extra factory slot in 2-5-2 bases. Her skill works just as well (if not better) in a 2-slot TP which frees up power to upgrade a factory to 3-slots, which would normally need to be left at 2. It's difficult to calculate the exact returns on the skill, but some rough estimates place the break-even point (under ideal circumstances) at around 6-8 months instead of the more typical 3+ years.
A word of warning though, the above assumes ideal circumstances. If you're running 2-4-3, that break-even time goes *way* up since you don't get the extra factory slot (it still is likely worth it long term). It also assumes you're doing good rotations and have otherwise good units to round things out. However, Proviso is a pretty decent unit herself, and big base numbers are extremely satisfying.
An Obscure Wanderer - Never Vowed
Mlynar is the best Physical Melee DPS unit in the game, and possibly the best DPS unit period, depending on who you ask. His S3 is his key skill, and the Mastery gains on it are big. Units of Mlynar's caliber are simple to evaluate because of how game-defining they are. Their primary skills should be your highest priority among Masteries. Simple as that.
I would not bother with his S2 Masteries and they are ungraded here. It has a fairly high Mastery rate among secondary skills, but that is more a reflection of his overall power and popularity as a unit. Compared to S3, niches that his S2 might be useful in are much more narrow compared to other secondary skills on other top-tier units. His S2 Masteries will be an expensive alternative you're not likely to ever practically use.
Given how valuable her base skill is, many people will promote Proviso anyway, which makes the Mastery decision relatively interesting. Proviso is essentially a slightly better Podenco. She has better damage and duration, but a worse cycle time. That isn't amazing, given that her promotion and Masteries cost twice as much, but it still makes her a more than functional utility option. Her S2 Masteries are very important to using S2 since they provide big boosts to both damage and uptime. The interval reduction at M3 is especially valuable for her DPS, though her overall damage is relatively low still. While she is not as cost effective, her Masteries are reasonable, if low-priority considerations to make a unit you likely are investing in anyway capable on the field. Her S1 is ungraded. It may be useful to those who want to use Proviso as a regular member of the team and has big Mastery upgrades, but it’s easily outclassed by a myriad of other, better options.
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). 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 a lengthier discussion on why this is, please check out the main Roguelike mastery guide linked below. I've excluded most of the discussion from the main guide, simply because this guide is already long enough as it is.
Additionally, please check out the main Roguelike guide for more in-depth operator specific discussions specific to that mode. Although I have updated most write-ups in this guide to reflect all of the grades, some of the nuance on the best picks won't come across as well here, and the main Roguelike guide will provide a better analysis of who is a strong pick.
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
MonHub collab units are added below, but Chapter 12 isn't out yet. Looks to be an interesting patch though!
|The Legend of Luo Xiaohei|
|Luo Xiaohei||Collab Welfare||There isn't a lot to say about this collab unit. He is fine, but nothing special, and you'll be better off just using Arene for your low rarity ranged Guard needs. That said he will definitely appeal to a lot of people and doesn't cost much, so go with S2 if you want to Master a skill which gets a decent increase to his damage output and is the more impactful skill. S1 is certainly a novel skill, but the low damage per hit means it just isn’t that useful for anything but cuteness.|
|Mizuki and the Caerula Arbor|
|Highmore||Welfare||Highmore is very similar to La Pluma to the point their S1 is literally identical. La Pluma is still the better unit in general since her ASPD talent is better for what the class does, but Highmore will still be a very viable alternative (or addition, double reaper go brrrr). This is especially true in IS#3 where she is the better pick with some big advantages thanks to her mode specific talent. There is a much bigger difference across their S2s however, with Highmore’s being far less valuable. The bulk that her S2 brings isn’t as useful and is much more niche in addition to some pretty poor gains. Stick with just her S1 for Mastery which makes her a very consistent and reliable option in IS#3. La Pluma will perform better elsewhere though.|
|Chapter 11 - Return to Mist|
|Dagda||Welfare||Brawlers have always been a bad archetype (the best Brawler only becomes good by turning into a Centurion instead), and Dagda doesn't change that. Her damage is subpar even with her skill active, and is comically bad when her skills are down. And she can only block 1. There is very little to like here. Even her Mastery gains are poor, which makes any suggestion difficult. Go with S2 if you insist on raising her. Who the hell thought Defensive Recovery on her S1 was a good idea?|
|Totter||Gacha||Totter is a pretty good unit for what he is. His niche is a helpful one, though not quite enough to put him into the top tiers of 4★s. Instead, he’s a solid unit that can be useful to have at times. He incidentally comes out at the same time as a new SSS stage that plays to his strengths extremely well. He's still unlikely to be graded, but both of his skills will have use if you want (favor S1 for SSS specifically).|
|Paprika||Gacha||One has to wonder why Paprika exists. She isn't bad in the absolute sense, but she serves no purpose in the broader game, competing directly with some very strong units while offering no special value herself. If you need the healing, there are plentiful other options that provide much better support or much lower costs (or both). She will be ungraded and you shouldn't be raising her, but go with S2 if you insist. It at least brings her healing up to a respectable total compared to her S1.|
|Stainless||Gacha||The only good unit from the Chapter 11 patch; however, Stainless is still pretty niche. He does have plenty of support use, so he is far from a bad unit, but the setup he requires puts him on the gimmicky side of things. He'll have pretty low Mastery grades. Without Mastery he can still be a pretty effective support unit, with neither his S1 or his S2 being exceptionally worth a Mastery; in particular, his S2 is a great skill, but it only needs SL 7). S3 will be his best Mastery option. The setup it requires can be a burden, but it has a huge attack multiplier with a lot of flexibility. If that DPS aspect doesn't interest you though, he can still be safely used at M0. Be wary of overvaluing his S1. Although the final number is good, it requires much more setup than other comparable buff skills.|
|Vigil||Welfare||Vigil looks to be the weakest 6★ of 2022. Even on paper, his kit isn’t very good. It has low DP gen, no ATK improvement, and no real utility. However, it's even worse than that. His wolves, which his skills are reliant on, are incredibly weak. They are statistically worse than Beanstalk's or Blacknight's pets, and the supposed benefits of them come nowhere close to making up the difference. If that weren't enough, there are many bizarre interactions in his kit, bordering on bugs, which remain unfixed as of this writing. There's too many to list here in this look ahead, but check this write-up by Boelthor over on Reddit for some more info. You'll get much better value raising Blacknight, or even Beanstalk. I hope this changes by his release on EN, but as it stands, he'll be among the lowest graded 6★s post-Module upgrades.|
|Lunacub||Gacha||Lunacub’s permanent stealth will certainly have some uses, but her DPS isn't high enough to justify the added investment. Her cycle time is perplexingly long for a year four unit, and the lack of attack multiplier on her S2 means she'll struggle more compared to her competition. She's a bit like Kirara in that regard: a nice idea hamstrung by poor damage and skill uptime. She'll be ungraded, but go with S2 if you particularly like her.|
|Penance||Gacha||If you relied only on the initial flurry of highlights, you could be forgiven for thinking that Penance is the hyper meta unit of this banner. She is a cautionary tale of not using only Youtube/Bilibili highlights to guide your opinion. Of course, she’s still a monster of a unit. She hits hard, has a mountain of bulk, and an absolutely incredible damage reflect. She is potentially the best solo lane holder in a lot of scenarios. However, for general purposes, Mudrock remains the go to choice, as Penance’s kit works poorly in a full team comp. Because she is reliant on having enemies to kill in order to maintain her bulk, she ends up rather inflexible compared to her competitors. S3 will be her main skill worth Mastery. Her other two skills are fine, and big Penance fans will find both of them useful, but her S3 is far and away the best option. They won't justify the investment cost for most.|
|Texas the Omertosa||Gacha Limited||Texas is the banner’s real winner and the latest to power creep an older unit (RIP in pieces Phantom). She is extremely powerful and is at the very tip-top of the meta. She has better ST Arts DPS than both Surtr and Eyja. Not only that, she also has a mountain of utility; her S2 has a strong RES debuff which makes her effective against nearly all enemies, her S3 has range, anti-air, and heavy crowd-control, and that's on top of the benefits of being a FRD. Both her S2 and S3 will receive top tier grades. She will be the highest graded M6 yet, so plan for both.|
|Quartz||Red Cert Shop||Quartz certainly has an eye-catching stat-line, but she isn't any better than other alternatives, even at her rarity. She mainly seems to be here to tease the ridiculous stats the eventual 6★ on the archetype will have. She'll be ungraded due to said alternatives. There just isn't much value in raising her beyond novelty. However, you'll want to prioritize S2 should that appeal to you.|
|Qanipalaat||Red Cert Shop||Qanipalaat is a fairly interesting unit with some unique aspects to his kit. He's pretty decent too, for his rarity, with good crowd control and reasonable damage. However the ever present problem with the 5★ Casters is present here. It's a crowded group and being just decent isn't enough to particularly standout. Ultimately he doesn't justify the investment, especially with the added red cert cost. The Mastery gains on his S2 are pretty good, so he may end up with a low grade, but he shouldn't be on most people's planners for any reason but personal desire. Pass on his S1 which is just a worse version of Amiya's S1.|
|What the Firelight Casts|
|Puzzle||Welfare||A lot of people, myself included, initially scoffed at Puzzle. He clearly isn't as good as Cantabile (who almost everyone has) and has fairly high SP costs for a Vanguard. However, he's proven himself to be a solid option, especially for a Welfare. To be clear, he is nowhere near as valuable as Cantabile. He is more DPS oriented, which is nice, but not really the purpose of the role. However, his DPS and utility are good enough that his S2 warrants moderate consideration. It charges surprisingly quickly and outputs a ton of damage on top of his flexible archetype. His S1 may be worth considering as well, but it only gains damage at M2 and M3 so odds are it will be ungraded aside from the M1 breakpoint.|
|Harmonie||Gacha||Within the realm of 5★ Casters, Harmonie is pretty decent. How many times have I said that before? It's a crowded group. Harmonie is still far from a must-raise, but she stands out as having a well designed kit. It has decent damage, good utility, and it all works well together. Niche players especially will find her quite nice. S2 will be the obvious choice for Masteries and will likely end up with a modest grade. Although she exists in a crowded space, her utility along with solid gains will make it something to consider on the lower end of priority.|
|Reed the Flame Shadow||Gacha||How do you improve the often subpar Caster class? By making them a Medic, of course. Makes total sense. Duh. Reed's alter form is just the most recent big meta unit. There's a lot of those lately and I only have so many adjectives to describe how busted these units tend to be. Reed is a tremendous unit. She features the highest Arts ST DPS in the game, alongside some of the highest HPS and extremely flashy mass crowd-clearing to boot. However there is some reason for caution. Certainly she will be an upper crust unit, but a few small usability quirks may keep her off the very top. Unlike units like Surtr or Ch’alter she has to choose between ST or AoE damage, she needs other units to deal full ST damage, and Arts Weakening isn’t as good as RES shred. She is extremely strong but we’ll need some time to judge just exactly *how* strong. Regardless, Reed will be a top graded M6. Plan for both S2 and S3.|
|Where Vernal Winds Will Never Blow|
|Jie Yun||Welfare||Jie Yun is one of those units that's quite good... for her rarity. While she lacks the utility that elevates the more meta 5★ options, she has solid damage and a surprisingly good cycle time. Beyond that, there isn't much else to say since her kit is pretty straightforward. Most players tight on resources won't want to invest, but she is good enough and has enough appeal outside of the meta that she'll garner a modest grade. Stick with S2 for Mastery. It is the better skill and has *extremely* strong gains. S1 has significantly worse DPS and its only real benefit is being auto recovery.|
|Firewhistle||Gacha||Fire Whistle is a good unit because her archetype is inherently strong. However, she has a slightly different niche than Ashlock. While Ashlock is useless if forced to block, Fire Whistle’s skills work mostly as normal (like Horn’s S2), making her an effective blocker as well as a long range nuker. In my opinion, this isn’t as valuable since effective blocking isn’t why you bring the archetype to begin with and Ashlock does the nuking part better. Still, Fire Whistle is quite good and much more forgiving. Both of her skills are usable and likely to be graded. While S2 has the greater total damage and is better for blocking, it has a notable lack of burst and a high SP cost. S1 meanwhile will be more consistent, reliable, and better against armor.|
|Lin||Gacha||HG disappoints yet again with the Phalanx archetype. The perplexing decision to make Lin a Phalanx caster aside, they just can't seem to get it right after Beeswax and Mint. She rates slightly better than Carnelian (not a compliment), and really only because she requires no ramp up for her damage. Overall, her damage is nothing special by current standards and she has a shockingly long cycle time. There is a decent chance she finds some fringe use in the meta thanks to her shield, and should still be more than serviceable for those who like the character. However, given the relative strength of recent 6★s, her grades will end up fairly low. Both S3 and S2 are worth considering, though S2 may end up ungraded due to awful gains.|
|Chong Yue||Gacha||Yet another hilariously busted unit. Chong Yue hits hard and fast over a long range. He also gets a lot out of buffs, meaning that he should scale nicely into difficult content. His kit can be deceptive since unlike other dual strike units, his hits count independently. This means he gains SP twice as fast and can even trigger his S3 off of the second attack.
|A Death in Chunfen|
|Wind Chimes||Gacha||When Quartz was released, many were curious as to what the higher rarities of the Crusher archetype would bring. Turns out the first 5★ attempt is... really bad. Her primary gimmick is just too weak and her cycle time is just too long. Even if her S2’s SP cost was halved, she wouldn’t be good – but it isn’t, and she has a perplexing 30 second cycle for a paltry amount of damage. Wind Chimes is a unit to avoid, but if you were intent on raising her anyway I'd actually consider S1 instead despite the fact that it’s a generic Attack Up skill. The power on S2 is just so anemic that only two hits from S1 will out damage it (in less time than the 5 second wind-up), but even then she's quite a bit worse than the commonly available Centurions.|
|Qiu Bai||Gacha||Qiu Bai is a difficult unit to rank, and she has caused quite a bit of discussion. I suppose that means she's actually well balanced compared to the hyper-meta state of many recent units. Qiu Bai has some significant drawbacks such as an RNG factor, a lack of RES shred, and an unusually long downtime. However, her range, control, and strong multi-target DPS still give her a ton of potential. S3 is likely to be her "meta" skill when she appears in high end gameplay due to its extremely high DPS, but S2 will often be the better "every-day" skill due to its much shorter cycle. S1 may be appealing, too, since it is her most consistent control skill, though I am unsure if it will garner a grade. Regardless of how you intend to use her, S3 should be your highest priority target. It has some of the most extreme gains over Mastery of any skill in the game; Mastery will be essential to using it at all.|
|Leaves Chasing Fire|
|Rathalos S Noir Corne||Collab Gacha||Noir Corne is an interesting iteration on the Musha archetype. While the shortcomings are still there, his kit comes together better in total, and he brings enough burst and utility to make him something to consider, though far from mandatory or meta. His Mastery selection will be similar to his counterpart, Akafuyu, but will be graded higher. Both skills are strong, but have differing uses, so you will likely want to pursue both. If you only did one it's really a matter of preference, but I would start with S1. It handles both trash due to its reset and elites thanks to its block, plus the Offensive Recovery plays better to the archetype.|
|Kirin X Yato||Collab Gacha||Yet another super strong Limited Fast-Redeploy. Thanks HG, very cool. Yato isn’t quite as busted as Texas the Omertosa, but that’s hardly an insult. There is certainly room for both. For Masteries, Yato will range anywhere from a simple M3 all the way to M9 depending on your preferences. For many players, just Mastering S2 will suffice. It is the easiest skill to use and does so much damage that it covers the majority of use cases. S3 is also quite powerful, but it requires more planning and map knowledge to effectively use. While a strong skill and Mastery, not everyone will get as much use out of it. Finally, her S1 is a fringe consideration. It has extremely long uptime for an FRD and is buff receptive (think of Exusiai’s S3); however, it is much harder to use effectively and her other skills will be more than enough most of the time.|