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In this guide, we will go over both basic and more complex topics, such as good early-game units, and the various traps and pitfalls that a player might fall into when teambuilding. We will also discuss some Operators that are useful additions to the team early on.
This guide assumes that the reader has completed Chapter 0 of the story or rolled on the gacha. Either of these two actions will provide players with enough Operators to form a team.
Before getting started, let's go over some basic terms that will be used often in the guide:
Deployment Points (DP): The resource used to deploy Operators. Each Operator has a DP cost, varying with class, specialty, and rarity.
Block Count: This is the amount of enemies that a certain Operator will be able to stop at once. Enemies exceeding the block count will simply pass the Operator.
Elite: This is essentially limit breaking/ level caps. Elite Promotion resets an Operator’s level while keeping their stats, increases their level cap, and usually grants new Skills or Talents. When talking about Elites, we will use the term 'E0' or 'Non-Elite' for their unpromoted form, 'E1' to refer to their first promotion, and 'E2' for their second promotion.
A Few Quick Tips
Here are a few tips new players should remember as they build teams and choose Operators to raise:
Arknights encourages variety.
- Arknights wants players to invest in and enjoy using a variety of different units. Many maps have gimmicks or enemy types that are hard-countered by a very specific unit archetype. In fact, Challenge Maps and events like Contingency Contract may penalize or outright ban specific types of Operators. If you rely entirely on your Snipers for DPS and you try to complete a Challenge Map where Snipers are banned, you're going to have a bad time.
Low-rarity units are viable.
- Resources that you put into 3★ and 4★ units are not wasted. Many low-rarity units can pull their weight in Arknights, especially in the situations mentioned above, where you might have to change your party composition dramatically. In 99% of maps, you won't need three AoE Casters, but that one time you do, you'll be glad you raised Lava before you pulled Gitano and Skyfire!
Higher rarity units have higher DP costs.
- Especially for those who intend to whale, it is tempting to deploy all high-star Operators. DO NOT fall for this trap! Early on in a map, players are usually strapped for DP, and since higher-rarity Operators cost more to deploy, using too many of them creates a snowball effect which can set back deployment speed immensely. As a loose guideline, half your team should be 4★ or lower rarity Operators.
Start by setting a “core” composition.
The Operators included within this selection will be the backbone of the team and will more than likely be used 90% of the time.
The core will consist of a Vanguard, one Anti-Air Sniper, one Caster, one Defender, and two Medics. For more details on these individual classes, check our Class Guide:
First, the team needs someone cheap and reliable to hold the frontline at the start of a map until things get settled; even better if they can provide extra DP. These are exactly the traits of Vanguards: they have low DP costs and have Skills, Talents, and/or Traits that generate DP.
Second, many stages have flying "drone" enemies that cannot be blocked. This is where the Anti-Air Sniper comes into play. (To check if a Sniper is Anti-Air, check the Operator's Information page and look for the Trait "Targets Aerial Enemies First.")
Anti-Air Snipers tend to have low DP costs and deal decent ranged damage. Even when there are no drones on the field, these Operators give you a great damage spike early in a map, so they are usually worth deploying.
Third: there will often be at least one enemy with a high DEF stat that physical damage dealers will struggle to defeat. Instead of chipping away in futility, use Arts (magic damage) Operators, who will completely ignore DEF and instead target the lower/rarer RES stat.
Although Supporters and a few select Guards have magic capabilities, Casters are the main source of magical damage. As such, it is usually a good idea to have at least one of them in a team composition.
Fourth, Defenders are needed for their ability to block a large number of enemies. These Operators can Block up to three enemies at once, preventing foes from reaching your escape points. They tend to have high DEF and HP stats to survive enemy attacks, and they may have Skills that help them to shrug off incoming damage.
Be aware that some Defenders have healing Skills instead of defense buffs. It's important to note that these "Healing Defenders" can only Block-2 until their first promotion to E1. It's also important to realize that their healing Skills make their allies more survivable, but do not help the Healing Defender survive burst damage the way a defensive Skill would.
Finally, of course, our Operators will need to be healed so they can keep fighting. For this, we look for two Medics, Operators who heal nearby allies instead of attacking enemies. Early in the game, most Doctors will only have single-target Medics, so it's important to have two of them. Sometimes you may need your two Medics to take care of different groups of Operators, and sometimes you might need both of them working on the same Operator (probably your main Defender) to keep them alive while enemies pummel them.
Later in the game, you may start pulling AoE Medics. These Medics are able to heal up to three injured allies at once, making them very efficient. However, they have a different healing range from ST Medics and their heals tend to be weaker, so replacing all your ST Medics with AoE Medics is not a smart idea. In most situations, it's best to have one of each.
The Rest of the Team
For the purpose of simplicity, this “Basic Setup" template is generally balanced and able to deal with most situations that it faces. Next, this guide will introduce some of the more advanced setups that can be used and the thought process behind forming them.
Of course, this is just a template. Team compositions should be changed to what the situation calls for.
The basic setup is essentially an extension of the “core”, where almost every class is doubled. The difference is that instead of having 4 Medics, it adds 2 Guards. Instead of adding another Defender, the last slot is a flexible choice.
In this team composition, the second Sniper does not have to be Anti-Air, but can be a different type of Sniper like an AoE sniper—Shirayuki, for example. The same goes for the Caster slot; if the first Caster is AoE, the second can be single-target, like Amiya.
For the Guard slots, it is highly recommended to have a Duelist Guard, such as Melantha. These are easily found by checking their trait description, which should specify "Blocks 1 Enemy." The other Guard is a free pick: just pick your favorite.
In the end, the basic setup should have 2 Vanguards, 2 Snipers, 2 Casters, 2 Medics, 2 Guards, 1 Defender, and an Operator of choice.
Specific Setup Situations: Dealing with Swarms
This is a map where there is only one exit and a huge flow of enemies. Single-target Operators might not kill them all in time, which means AoE Operators are preferred, perhaps along with an extra Defender to hold the enemies in place.
For this, a team that involves gathering all enemies into one concentrated location and weaving a kill zone is optimal. First, set up 3 AoE Operators (Casters or Snipers) and 2 Defenders as the core. The Defenders gather all the enemies, and the AoE Operators defeat them all in one fell swoop.
Consider also that Defenders and AoE Operators are rather costly, so this composition may take too long to deploy without sufficient DP generation. An extra Vanguard may be necessary to fix the DP drought. To complete this team, bring along an Anti-Air Sniper and a Duelist Guard to deal with drones or stray single enemies, as well as the usual 2 Medics for healing.
In the end, this team should consist of 3 AoE Operators, 2 Defenders, 3 Vanguards, 1 Anti-Air Sniper, 1 Duelist Guard, and 2 Medics.
Readers may notice the absence of Supporter and Specialist Operators in these recommended teams. This is mainly because these two types of classes, like their names imply, focus mostly on supporting the team through a specific niche; they may focus on stalling for time, being redeployed multiple times per map, moving enemies around on the field, summoning additional units, etc.
That doesn't mean that Supporters can’t deal damage, or that Specialists can’t block enemies. It just requires knowledge about specific operators within those categories. The takeaway should be that as players get more familiar with the game and its Operators, they can further diversify their teams with Specialists and Supporters to match their playstyle.
Having said all that, let's go over some Operators that are great picks for a new team.
|Kroos||On the subject of anti-air, Kroos and Jessica are solid alternatives to Rangers. Both are able to deal with air and ground units with relative ease, and unlike Rangers, they can promote to further increase their strength. The main difference between Kroos and Jessica lies in their maximum promotion levels. Jessica can be promoted up to E2 but costs more materials; Kroos can only be promoted once to E1 but has a lower cost.|
For more recommendations, check our Guide to the Best Low Rarity Operators:
Leveling Order for Operators
To wrap this all up, here are a few quick pointers about leveling your Operators:
- Beginner Tip: Make sure to have at least two 3★ Operators in your first major team. The game completely refunds the cost of leveling two 3★ Operators via the Mission Board, so you can basically max them for free.
- Should I level one Operator or several? Generally speaking, it's better to level Operators evenly rather than have a single Operator overleveled. It is crucial to remember that Operators function as a team. Damage dealers can’t deal damage if they’re low level, Defenders cannot hold the line if Medics are weak, and players might not even get past the first wave if Vanguards are falling left and right.
- Do Skill Levels matter? YES. Skills are incredibly important in Arknights, so keeping them leveled is vital. For some Operators, Skill Levels are even more important than their regular EXP levels!
- How high should I level? Answers will vary depending on player and playstyle, but my personal recommendation is to get an Operator to E1 level 30. Doing so allows players to actually get a feel of how the unit operates and then decide whether or not they want to continue using them.
- Who should I E2 first? Check our "Guide to High Impact E2 Promotions" for some advice on this crucial decision: