Arknights: The WORST 5★s and All That's Wrong With the Rarity

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Hello, and welcome to another TacticalBreakfast non-Mastery article.  It's been a while since the last one... I really should do these more regularly.  Ahh well, this one was fun to do.

5★s are near and dear to my heart.  I've never really enjoyed blowing away content with meta units, so a few years ago I settled into a niche (as many old players do) to create some artificial difficulty.  That niche ended up being 5★ only, which is because many of my favorite units are at the rarity!  It gave me both a good dose of interesting challenges, as well as an excuse to regularly use a team of favorites.

In terms of the broader game though, the 5★s have always occupied a weird place.  There are currently 145 5★s in the game, as of the Operation Lucent Arrowhead patch.  Even at the start of the game when options were limited, only a few were truly worth promoting for everyone.  Most of those can be attributed to balance mistakes (like Lappland and Specter), and further still, many unique niches the 5★s had have since been supplanted!  Yet, as a collection, they have rarely been bad either.

Well... mostly anyway.  The topic of 5★ quality has been a hot one lately.  At a time when the top of the game is exploding in power, and every new patch brings a new hyper powerful 6★, the 5★s have been trending in the exact opposite direction.  Lately, the rarity is plagued by some truly atrocious design decisions, with even the very best new 5★s barely treading on the historical average, and most being much worse.

Hypergryph, if by chance you read this, know you're personally hurting me!

Anyway, in light of this, and the fact I've been slowly working on a side project of a 5★ tier list, I had the idea where an article that analyzes the worst of the rarity might be a fun one.  I have a lot to say on the various choices for worst, and going through them while trying to apply an analytical measure seemed like a fun exercise.  In the end, I hope to definitively crown a WORST OF THE WORST 5★.  And spoiler alert, I don't even know who it is yet as I write this introduction!

This article will analyze the roughly bottom twenty 5★s who I think have reasonable arguments for being the worst.  It’s actually 18 total1, which is the bottom 12% of the current 5★s, as of this writing.  From this I will take the bottom 5 units by score and crown THE ABSOLUTE WORST 5★ from among them!

The Downward Trend of 5★s and What Inspired this Article

I waffled a bit on how exactly to write this section.  It started as just a backdrop I was only even vaguely aware of - an instigation to my irritation and not a fully formed thought.  Then it became a footnote to an off-hand comment somewhere buried in a random write-up.  Then that footnote became a few paragraphs.  Then a full analysis of "generations" of units.  Then a full essay.  That essay got clunky though, and was more of a rambling mess.  So now we're here, back to a few paragraphs and a graphic that I hope will illustrate my point.

Essentially, I've found myself growing more and more frustrated with the rarity as the game has aged.  What started off as arguably the most well-balanced rarity full of meaningful and interesting characters is now a shadow of itself.  The reason for this, I think, is that the ceiling of the game has exploded, but nothing else has.  Only the top of the game has gone up while everything else has stagnated.  This isn't exclusive to the 5s, but that is where it's most obvious.

We are in an era of the game's life where every new 6 is a new level of power.  It's an era where Qiubai, a Lord Guard with Surtr levels of DPS, was broadly considered a skippable unit.  It's an era where Shu, a Limited unit, has a passive buff tied to other Limited units.  It's an era where Ela undercut another meta 6, Ray, less than a month after the latter’s release!

But those headline 6s are the only place where it's gone up.  I'm not even saying that 5s should be meta.  Given the breadth of the 6s now, that'd be near impossible.  However, in those very same patches, which introduce a new and insane 6 every month, we get 1-3 5s which are, at best, side-grades to long term units, and most are well under the historical average.  We used to discuss some 5★s as being enough to compete for team slots in a meta roster.  Now the bottom has fallen out and they're barely worth acknowledging.

Take a look at the following graphic.  It starts at So Long, Adele, but the trend has been going on for even longer than that.  I just had to make a cutoff somewhere for readability.  Keep in mind the rankings here aren't even in absolute terms, but are relative to the rarity.  The 5s don't even compare well TO THEMSELVES.

The downward trend of the rarity

It's frustrating to anyone who fancies anything remotely off-meta.  Don't like running meta 6s?  Well, too f-ing bad.  It's either that, or actual garbage.  Take your pick.  Cantabile, almost two years ago, marked the high water mark for the rarity, and it's been falling every patch since.

It just makes no sense.  Why should Leto have a drawback when she's worse than existing 5 Lords even without it?  Why should Kestrel be saddled with a useless mode-specific Module?  Why is Vendela worse than a unit not even two years old?  How are Fuze and Doc in the same patch as Ela?  Why is the best 5 in the last 6 months, Bassline, a near exact copy of a damn launch 5!


Ahem.  Thanks for indulging my rant.  Alright, on with the lighthearted rest of the article.


A few caveats before we dive in.

  • This article is largely my opinion.  Of course, I am approaching this on a factual basis as an experienced player with nearly all of the 5★ roster raised (125 of 135 to E2 50 M3 mod1 minimum), so I'm not just throwing random units I don’t like out.  However, the factors that go into the "worst" are different for different people, and I don't expect everyone to agree with every detail.  Such is the nature of Arknights.
  • I'm trying to have fun with this article.  Although I'm approaching it analytically, who is truly the worst doesn't actually matter.  The rankings here shouldn't influence anyone's decisions.  This is just for fun!  As such, expect a decent amount of language, exaggeration, and satirist humor, especially compared to my usual Mastery articles.  Don't take anything here too seriously.
  • Is your favorite on this list?  Sorry.  I respect your choices though, for what it's worth.  A few of my favorites are down here too.  It takes a bold person to truly appreciate the worst this game has to offer.
  • I will try to limit the "Suggestions to Fix'' comments to either minor tweaks, or things that would be reasonably possible within Hypergryph’s existing systems (e.g. Modules), or to reasonably small buffs that are within the realm of historical possibility (such as the Chain Caster buffs).  The goal here isn't to completely redesign kits.  HG has shown little intention of that and it's an endless rabbit hole of possibilities, almost none of which are realistic or useful here.
  • For the purposes of this article, the CN release order is used.  This is a relatively minor difference primarily affecting the weird shifting of events to make W align with the global anniversary.  Many 5★s appear as "Year 1" on EN but are not actually.  The CN order better reflects HG's design choices over time.
  • This article was done based on what we know as of the Operation Lucent Arrowhead patch. As I write this article we’re on the cusp of the 5th anniversary on CN.  That could have an influence on this article (plus more if I get lazy), or if you're reading this at a later date, things could be VERY different!  So be aware of the time context this was written.
  • In the interest of brevity, since this article is already long, the write-ups won't address every single point of score.   It's just not practical.  Hopefully you can read between the lines for the details not explicitly said.

The Grading System

I'll be grading the units here on a scale of 0-100, with the grade number depending on a number of factors.  I'll attempt to define them here.

Scores may go negative.  At first I had thought of avoiding this in the interest of fairness.  I toyed with the idea of a "baseline" score for some values to give some room for negative consequences without making things too arbitrary.  But those are clunky.  Negative scores are funny when some aspect of these units is truly offensive.  Call it artistic license.

General Value - 60 points - This is the thing most people will care about.  How good is the unit in the general game?  Can they be used in any given team or stage?  Do they have a good general purpose role?  Replaceability is not considered here (that factor is placed under the Niche grade), but rather judges a unit on their own merits.  After all, not everyone has every option available in a gacha game.

Niche - 20 points - When you start to dig into the deep bones of Arknights, it is ultimately a game of niches.  I'm not referring to thematic clears when I say that, although that is a factor in this grade, but rather unique and special things a unit does.  It's why we get situations where Bison and Skyfire have been part of high-risk CC clears, for example.  The best units in the game don't need to rely on their niche value, but among the worst, those special things make the difference.  A generally terrible unit may still be useful on occasion. 

There are four sub-factors considered within this number.  First, is the niche unique?  The more common a particular feature is, the less valuable it is.  Second, is the niche useful?  Not all niches are equal!  Third, and heavily related to the first two, is replaceability.  This is a big topic  in this article to the extent that early drafts of this article had it as its own section.  However, thinking about the game more broadly rather than specifically about bad units, I think replaceability is better thought of as a subsection of niche (at least with how niche is used within this article).  If the same thing can be accomplished by a readily available or a lower rarity unit, then that directly hurts any niche value they may have.

The final factor in this grade is the previously mentioned thematic clears.  For those newer players who might not know what I'm talking about, this is creating teams based on a certain theme.  For example, I personally often do 5★-only clears.  Other examples might be Vanguard-only or Liberi-only teams.  For the purposes of this guide I'll be sticking with common themes.  That might be a bit subjective, but you can craft hyper-specific niches in which anyone is good simply because they're the only ones.  But what good is that to anyone?  Nightmare being a Caster might save her from the bottom since Caster-only is pretty common, but sorry, Tsukinogi being a member of your Elafia-only squad isn't going to get her any bonus credit.  As a general rule, any category recognized by arkrec is worth considering.

Design - 15 points - 5★s often end up as a testbed for new mechanics.  Well, testbed probably isn't the right word since it's not clear that Hypergryph is doing actual testing, but I digress.  We often see our first glimpses of new ideas and archetypes at the rarity.  A well designed unit that tries something new is worth noting.  However, on the flip side, novelty is not enough alone.  Faulty and unnecessary design choices can completely neuter even the most unique of ideas (looking at you Windflit and Spuria).  Usability is also a factor here.  Although it's a touch subjective, elegant kits deserve recognition and frustrating kits deserve derision.

Design alone cannot carry a unit to "goodness", thus the relatively low point total.

Note that “design” here refers purely to gameplay.  Aesthetics are completely subjective, and AK has probably the most varied tastes of any gacha game community, so they will not be considered.

Other - 5 points - A catch all category for less tangible aspects.  Perhaps there's historic value in a unit.  Perhaps they have strong story characterization that deserves some acknowledgement.  There's a lot of possibilities that could fall into here.  Although, if I'm honest, this category was originally named "Personal Fudge Factor".  It's likely to be more subjective.  Take that as you will.

This scale is done relative to other 5★s only, so someone like Lappland would be a near perfect score.   The reason for this is primarily because this article is 5★ focused, but also there is the fact that Arknights is a top heavy game.  6★s are just so far and away better that practically all 5★s would be graded fairly low were this scaled towards the absolute top of the game and I think that would confuse things more than necessary.  The difference between Mlynar and Lappland is much greater than the difference between Lappland and Spuria.

The Bottom 5★s

Note this list is done based on release order.  See the end of the article for the rankings by score and crowning of the worst 5★.


7 2 0 0

The Downside: If you were to make a list of key early units which exemplify the early design mistakes (the bad kind), Skyfire would be near the top. Early on, it seemed as if Hyphergryph was afraid of Arts damage. They seemed to overvalue the impact it would have in bypassing DEF and thus most early Arts based units are severely undertuned. With the exception of Eyja and Ifrit, not a single truly good Arts based unit came out until Surtr2, over 16 months after launch (no, Ceobe was not that good at the time3). Most people would probably point to Mostima as the best example of this, and she would indeed be up there, but Skyfire probably suffered the most out of any unit. Her DPS is truly pathetic for what should be a DPS unit. It barely reaches half of pre-Module Leizi, another unit who would be on this list were it not for her Module. As a 5★ she lacks the cost effectiveness of the cheaper options like Gitano for the early going, but also lacks the design space of the a 6★ like Dusk or Mostima. But perhaps worst of all, they wasted Kana Ueda on her. Truly a missed opportunity.

The Upside: Despite all the bad stuff, her skill cycle is actually really good. Additionally, while a Stun uptime of only 20% isn't good, it's not awful either. It’s enough that she appears in a smattering of both niche and general clears. Older players may remember the early CC#4 clear which featured both Mostima and Skyfire, and that clear was only possible because of her Stun. That counts for something, right?

Suggestions to fix: Like a lot of early units, the flaws in Skyfire are too deeply seated. She's nearly impossible to make good with something like a Module that isn't severely overtuned. Instead she would likely need a rather large overhaul to reach some sort of passable level. Even flat doubling her DPS would put her fairly below more contemporary options. That said, removing the interval increase would at least be a start. A 1s stun every 2.9s would be a reasonable niche to have.

5 5 12 -3

The Downside: I was going to put Sora in the Dishonorable mentions list, but then I remembered she's a bunny traitor, so she goes up here instead. Lupos suck! Embrace the bun! *Ahem* anyway... people don't deride Bards like they used to, and you can thank Skadi for that. But in the old days, Sora was the example of the replacement value problem all buffers have. A buffer has to justify their team spot over just bringing another DPS unit, so what happens when your buffer can't attack, block, and only has a barely noticeable heal? Add onto that how Inspire only adds on after ATK buffs and Sleep before any other unit could interact with it and you get a really awkward unit. Compare that to how Warfarin, another release 5★ is perceived. A few of those aspects have improved in value over time, but nowadays Sora isn't even the best option at the rarity either!

The Upside: I will at least give some credit to her for trying new things though. For a launch unit, Sora was ahead of her time and she laid some important groundwork for future units. There are also few sources of Inspire buff, so if your niche doesn't have access to Skadi, she might still find some meme usage compared to Heidi thanks to her uptime.

Suggestions to fix: It's hard to overcome the replacement value problem given Sora's current kit. Skadi2 only does it because she's an overtuned limited 6★, so Sora is a case where there isn't a simple fix. That said, an off-skill buff like Heidi or an enhancement to her healing would be a good start. Perhaps something that plays into the Sleep aspect would give her some niche value as well. Something like, allies in range deal more damage to Sleeping enemies?

20 0 0 5

The Downside: Savage is a 4★ but with 5★ costs. Her S1 is quite literally the 4★ version of the Power Strike skill. Her S2 is also severely overpriced for an Attack Recovery skill. While it makes some sense that they wouldn't want a launch welfare to be too good (gotta bait people to roll when the game just opens, of course), the balance with Savage went way too far in the wrong direction.

The Upside: I contend that Savage isn't actually a bad unit. Certainly she's not a good unit. She's overpriced, has no utility, has a way too high of SP cost on her S2, and is very replaceable by much cheaper 4★s like Estelle. However, Centurions are natively pretty strong, and even just setting her down with S1 sees Savage being more useful than some of the other contenders on this list. The 5 “Other” points here are because she's a bunny, and above all else, I am a bunny man. Shame on me if she made the bottom 10.

Suggestions to fix: Replace her S1 with the Power Strike alpha. Drop the SP cost of her S2 by at least half, or better yet, give her some sort of SP generation on her Module. Something like +1 SP for every enemy attacked would be a huge buff that plays into the archetype. Removing the high-tile restriction from her Talent would be a good easy buff too.

15 10 3 0

The Downside: Grani is probably the least talked about bad unit. I'm not sure why either. Perhaps because she's popular given her relationship with Skadi? Perhaps because she's a welfare (although that hasn't really saved Ceylon)? Regardless, her main flaw is something endemic to early design: horrific SP costs. 20 initial SP on a Vanguard is tough enough, then add 70 SP downtime on a defensive version of the weakest Vanguard archetype? It's a tough spot to be in.

The Upside: When her skill is actually up she has some decent stats and bulk, plus attacking multiple targets. It's not great considering the downsides, but she has crept into a variety of niche clears at least. She’s a very strong member of Vanguardknights, which is a lot more value than many other members of this list can boast.

Suggestions to fix: Simply, her S2 needs the SP cost cut in half. She should have a cycle that's at least competitive to Vigna. With skill up though, Grani is *almost* decent so she probably doesn't need much more than that to be usable. Another option would be to reduce her redeployment time like Wild Mane. The 20 initial SP would still be a big drawback, but turning her into a low-cost, full-refund, early stall type unit has some appeal.

0 7 7 -2

The Downside: Nightmare is a rare sort of unit who has two modes. She had two chances to be decent and somehow struck out twice. Her S2 seems like it should be good. After all, it deals True Damage on a 20 second cycle! Yet the snare here works directly against her and Auto Activation makes it extremely unreliable. It deals really pitiful damage against totally random targets and does nothing against blocked enemies. About the only time it has ever been useful is against the SN flowers who move fast enough they still take some damage even with the snare. Then on the other hand with her S1, she got saddled with an 80 SP skill that's so endemic and problematic in early design.

If that weren’t bad enough, she also has what's probably the worst E2 art in the game. E2 art is always dynamic and powerful with creative backgrounds! Then you have Nightmare who is... sitting slightly differently with a shadow. And then the free skin she got that could have fixed it is... just as bad. OK. She’s the only unit on this list who lost points for art.

The Upside: On the flip side, Nightmare does have a place in some niche clears. She is the only Caster who can heal, which has given her some occasional use in Casterknights (although Lin has really hurt that value), and her S2 has been useful on rare occasions. She also picks up a few bonus points for flavorful design, although that's tempered by her truly dreadful E2 art.

Suggestions to fix: There isn't really a quick fix with Nightmare that doesn't involve a significant change to her base kit. There's some interesting potential in her modal operation and in the Nightmare effect itself, but her current kit comes together in a way that makes it tough to fix without an overhaul. I hope HG comes back to her some day, but it's the sort of thing best redone from the ground up. There isn't too much hope for the original unit, although removing the snare and auto activation on S2 would at least be a start.

3 0 2 0

The Downside: If you've been reading my stuff for a while, you might expect me to stretch here to say something nice about Swire. She was one of my original favorites, afterall, and was my Reddit flair when the Mastery guide originally took off. I will not defend her though! One of the things April made me realize was just how frustrating it was to try to involve Swire in my clears. She's just so bad that it was stressful trying to include her as anything more than a cheerleader! Her 45 Attack Recovery SP is the sort of bad that it's almost incomprehensible. Did anyone at HG playtest her even once? All for a buff that only works on half of units, with a tile restriction, that's barely noticeable anyway? She has no on-field presence herself either! Fuck! FEater was my actual OG waifu anyway.

The Upside: I'm struggling to find something positive to say with Swire. She's a good story character I guess? Her passive buff that's always on is alright? The one upside I can really think of is that her S1 has a decent cycle and a usable range, but that's just cope against how bad her S2 is.

Suggestions to fix: Swire is the sort of kit that just needs redone. I'm trying to avoid kit overhauls in this article since it's a rabbit hole, but her kit is so broken that there isn't one simple fix here. Allowing her Module buff to apply to other units would at least be something, I suppose. It would give her some valuable passive benefit to being on the field at least.

10 5 8 2

The Downside: Glaucus is a bad unit that has gone under the radar of awfulness for quite a while. That's probably because in the old days CM conditions often leaned on classbans. There were also limited control options in general. That all made Glaucus more appealing than she is now. Perhaps worse though is a trend in game design. Glaucus only triggers her effects against Drones specifically. Not all aerial enemies are drones, and lately this seems to be more and more the case. Damazti Cluster's nuke drones? Not drones. Hovering Seaborn in IS#3? Not drones. Dolly? Believe it or not, not a drone. While those may be thematically correct choices, it turns an already small niche even smaller and is just not worth anything in the modern game.

The Upside: She has a really good cycle time, and the effects on her nuke *are* pretty decent. Glaucus is somewhat unique in this list as she's largely a victim of game design where proper Drones are just not common anymore. In rare cases where there are Drones, she's at least passable. I gave her a couple points for her character design too. You won’t find many disabled characters in modern gachas.

Suggestions to fix: Change her Drone condition to Aerial enemies (like Cutter). It may not be thematic but it would greatly expand her useful targets. Better yet, to stay in theme, change it to Machina enemies, which is an official type of enemy and isn’t otherwise used anywhere. It’d be a much more thematic choice, and greatly expand her potential.

10 5 0 0

The Downside: I want to take a moment to reflect on how bad a Medic has to be to make this list. It's actually fairly hard for a Medic to be so bad that they qualify for the "worst" discussion. While the best Medics have utility which make them good, their fundamental job is pretty straight forward. Even Breeze and Paprika do that fundamental job well. And so we come to Ceylon, the first Therapist Medic who has a Talent that only worked in one event until recently (now a whole two events), and a mind numbing 80 SP cost on her main skill. Her secondary skill is no better either. Being Auto Activation means she blows all the charges before anything even happens!

The Upside: She *does* heal, as pathetic as it is, and she’s the only Medic who can apply Resist without healing first. That's something at least.

Suggestions to fix: One of my initial suggestions here was to give her the other Therapist Module, which is generally better, but a Ceylon fan I know pointed out that "her healing sucks so much that it doesn't matter". The other suggestion though still works. Her Talent needs to be retooled. It's a thematic idea, but it's one of those thematic ideas that doesn't belong in the game. Operator mechanics should not be a function of an event's theme, especially if HG isn't going to actually care to label water tiles as water most of the time. Replacing it with some sort of SP generation would make her S2 more viable, as well as it's unique Resist niche. Making her S1 Manual Activation would be a big help as well, and would give her a niche more akin to Purestream.

0 5 0 2

The Downside: If you asked any random person (who isn't making a detailed article) who the worst 5★ is, a lot of people would answer Tsukinogi, and before I really dive into my justification for why she isn't the worst, I'll say that they're mostly right too. Tsukinogi is a *really* bad unit. Abjurers blend healing, damage, and defense. Tsukinogi does all of those badly in a game where purity of purpose tends to matter. In the best case scenario you do 48 seconds of really bad damage, then 20 seconds of bad healing, with a Shelter effect that only triggers when the unit is already almost dead.

Also, a bit of trivia, the healing aspect of the Abjurer’s Trait was added later when the second one was added to the game. This didn’t really affect Tsukinogi though since her healing sucks almost as much as her damage.

The Upside: So why don't I think she's the worst 5★? Even after five years, she is *still* the only unit that can reveal invisible enemies from a ranged tile. No, Scene can't since she needs to deploy her buggies. Yes, Totter is better if you aren't using 6★s but he still isn't a proper reveal. I can feel some of you rolling your eyes as you read this, and you aren't really wrong. Tsukinogi is a truly bad unit. However, as a niche player, I've used Tsukinogi in seriousness at least four times over the years. That's more than a lot of units on this list, so can she truly be "the worst"?

And, as a fortunate update from when I first wrote this draft, Tsukinogi is finding some surprising use in CCBP#2 for exactly this reason! Granted she’s since been optimized out, but still… :copium:

Suggestions to fix: Honestly, I don't think there is a fix that doesn't involve a complete overhaul of her kit. Abjurer's are just such a weak base that there's almost nothing you could do here short of something totally unreasonable. It's a sad state of affairs for the entire archetype, and it's a miracle that Quercus and Silence had enough in their base kit to evade the bottom. Perhaps a new Module which provides some sort of enhancement towards revealed enemies would at least play into that minor niche she has.

15 2 2 -2

The Downside: Aosta holds a special place of hate for me. I loved the launch Lupos4 and was excited for more. After over a year and a half we finally got another Lupo and it was... this asshole. A boring character with a weird design and an awful kit. He's expensive, his cycle time is bad, his damage sucks even in perfect conditions, those conditions are harsh, and his damage is mixed Arts/Physical for the double whammy of enemy defenses. His kit is also just very incohesive. His Talent only triggers on unblocked enemies, and his S2 has a Bind to keep unblocked enemies in range to damage, but his interval is so long and his range so short that he rarely hits enemies in range more than once. In many cases, I'm tempted to give bonus points when an operator at least inspires a meme, but in Aosta's case it just further demerits him. The Aosta meme is one of the least funny and awful memes in the whole community.

The Upside: I don't want to say anything nice about Aosta. I hate him. However, in the interest of fairness, his bleed effect can be useful against things like the IW enemies. There are *much* better solutions to this though, such as Blue Poison at the same rarity and class, but it's... something at least.

Suggestions to fix: Increase the bind time on his S2, or remove the interval increase. A range expansion like Ch'en2 would be a big help as well. It's one thing to be undertuned, but it's another to be hamstrung by a kit that doesn't come together well. He needs more ability to keep enemies in range to get any value out of even the idea of his kit.

Nine-Colored Deer
10 0 0 5

The Downside: I could copy and paste the write-up for Tsukinogi here and just remove the bit about invis reveal. NCD might be my first flirtation with the modern frustration of the 5★ design space, Year one design was bad across the board, not just on the 5★s I talk about here (see pre-Module Skadi1 and Mostima for example). Because of that, I can sort of forgive the early awfulness of units like Tsukinogi. Hypergryph seemed like they learned from the mistakes and design was looking up! But when it came to Abjurer's they put out a second one 1.5 years later, that was just as bad, if not worse. Great, thanks.

The Upside: Were this article only considering on-field performance, NCD would likely get the crown of worst. However, two important things save her. The first is quite unusual since it's her base skill. If you're new to the game, base skills are notorious. The good ones are almost always locked behind expensive E2 promotions on bad units and usually take *literal* decades of real time to pay off5. NCD just so happens to get one of the best base skills in the game and it's available already at E0! That alone makes her uniquely valuable to have, even if she is completely terrible in battle. NCD also gets some points for her amazing aesthetic design. While I generally avoided giving points for that in this article, a collab with an 80s anime that almost no one knows about is exactly the sort of aesthetic choice that makes Arknights so great, and her art is absolutely gorgeous.

Suggestions to fix: Like Tsukinogi, I don't think there's a fix here that doesn't just redo her entire kit or add some absurd amount of stats. The base Abjurer is just too much of a mess to fix without starting over.

0 3 6 2

The Downside: Kirara is a design oddity. Many bad units here are poorly designed, yet they tend to be of the sort of poor numbers, bad solutions, or unnecessary drawbacks. Instead Kirara seems just shortsighted. Almost her entire kit seems centered around self-sustain which is pretty weird considering she has reduced taunt, high dodge, and 0-block. The intention *seems* to be that she can be placed very aggressively to soften up targets, yet she has incredibly poor damage too! Add on a complete lack of meaningful control, and Kirara ends up as a big question mark. What exactly are you supposed to do with her other than be disappointed by her DPS?

The Upside: The only point that I can come up with is that she's Utage's girlfriend, and I like Utage. Her Op Recs are pretty good too, so she at least has some alright ancillary story presence. If I *really* stretch for something, she works alright on originium tiles since she counteracts some of the health loss.

Suggestions to fix: Kirara isn't an easy unit to fix. To remain true to her intention (or what seems to be her intention anyway), she flat out needs more DPS, and a lot of it. A Module which adds extra damage on enemies above a certain health percentage would likely be a good start. It would play into her forward-placement niche while giving her some condition to avoid being too generally good. Some extra SP generation on her Talent would help too since one of her big flaws is with skill cycles. Her S1 is Attack Recovery with her long attack interval and S2's cycle is just really long for the damage it deals.

6 5 0 -2

The Downside: Anyone who has been around the community for a while will probably have seen some newbie complain that Ifrit is bad because of her range. The meme (and a reasonably accurate meme) is that "Ifrit only needs one tile to be good!" OK, so now take that range downside and remove almost all the damage, add a Talent that encourages doing even less damage, and tada! You get Corroserum, a laughable shadow of all that makes Ifrit good. He came out 2.5 years after launch, yet has worse overall DPS than Skyfire. Truly a remarkable feat of awfulness.

He also deserves special derision for his self-stun. That seems to be a favorite drawback of HGs to throw on 5★s who totally do not need it. In theory, it should synergize with his Talent, but on what planet is doing less damage a good thing? Corroserum was the first to be given this particular plague upon the rarity and that deserves a special level of hate.

The Upside: The one good thing Corroserum can do is Silence enemies in a True AoE. Of course, Silence is an awkward effect. Game design dictates it's never a necessity, and Lappland makes pretty much every other Silencer bad by default anyway. Still, it's something, and it's even been useful on occasion such as in some SN niche clears.

Suggestions to fix: Straight up, Corroserum needs more damage. Even doubling his damage would still put him behind several of the 5★ Casters. That level of buff is unlikely to happen without a complete overhaul of his kit, but still there isn't much within the realm of Modules that can fix just how bad his DPS is. Perhaps an effect that damage scales versus Silenced enemies? Either way, Corroserum needs a lot of work.

3 3 1 -3

Windflit holds a special place of irritation for me. I feel like he was really the first of the modern generation of bad 5★s. If you look at the general layout of the bad ones you can see they're mostly loaded towards the launch of the game or to recent memory. After you get through year one, things level off reasonably well. There's still a few duds in there of course, but years 2 and 3 end up being pretty solid in total! Even after Windflit, there's still some very solid 5★s like Astgenne and Cantabile, but he was the one that really brought the terribleness into focus for me. On reflection, it probably should have been Corroserum as he was the first awful limited-banner throw-away unit with no story, but a number of quality units around him hid what was to come. Instead I think Windflit really marks the start of the decline. That's hidden a bit by a number of "alright" units (Erato, Minimalist, Hibiscus, etc) but the overall quality drops here (which this article does not really capture as it focuses on the bottom of the barrel) and there's a marked increase in the number of duds after.

That's my personal gripe against him out of the way, so let's try to look at his awfulness a little more analytically.

The Downside: Holy drawbacks batman. This seems to happen a lot with modern 5★s. The ideas of something new are here but HG seems to be afraid of "overtuning" them. I have no idea why since most of them would still be bad with no drawbacks at all. It's not like Warfarin is particularly overpowered in the buffing department, so to see Windflit only affect two classes (and two of the last classes you'd want to buff), with tile restrictions, with battery cycle restrictions, with setup costs and time, while being pretty worthless on his own is really remarkable. I can’t even give him points for being an Artificier, which I like the idea of, since Roberta came first.

The Upside: His total buff is pretty good. It's hard to set up and there's basically only two or three units worth putting it on, but +88% ATK is alright when everything lines up. Artificers being able to double as body blockers is an alright thing to have access to also in niche clears, although Summoners also being Supporters limits that niche clear value.

Suggestions to fix: Just remove the class restrictions. It's not needed. I like Artificers as a group and I think needing to deploy the devices makes their own shortcomings that will natively keep him in line. Needing two adjacent tiles next to a unit is a bigger drawback than people think it is. He'd still be below Warfarin in value, but might be someone worth looking at in buff comps instead of a back of the roster throwaway.

Wind Chimes
15 0 -3 0

The Downside: One of the themes in this article is that bad melee units tend to fare better in the rankings. Melee units just have more value and as long as a unit can make a functional blocker, they have at least *some* value. So here comes the Crusher class that can't even do that. I think HG really underestimated how harmful having 0 DEF is. It's the sort of handicap that the limits of low rarity can't make up. Design-wise, you can add enough stuff to Hoederer to make him decent. He's a 6★ so there's basically no limit to what you can do. However, the restricted design space of the 4 and 5★s means there's less you can do to make up for the problems. Wind Chimes doubles down by also having an awful S2. A whole 6k damage on a 30 second cycle is impressively bad. It's so bad that her generic S1 only needs two attacks to do as much damage.

The Upside: The *one* saving grace for Wind Chimes is she has a good ATK value on S1 for a 5★, but that's not much considering how fragile she is. Although that said, her high HP is also not awful in rare scenarios where DEF/RES don't matter as much, such as the Damazti Cluster fight.

Suggestions to fix: I'm not sure there is actually anything that can be done here. Crushers' drawbacks just can't be made up with the design space available to 5★s. I'd love to say something like reducing S2's SP cost, which is a problem, but she'd likely still be horrifically bad even with a very short cycle time. 4 and 5★ Crushers are just doomed from the start.

0 0 -10 -5

The Downside: Spuria has the dubious honor of being the only unit on this list who is actively detrimental to have on the field. She has no form of self sustain like Aak does, so the Geek Trait just constantly pulls healing away. All for a poorly designed buff that only applies to a narrow set of units, and makes many worse rather than better. Unit combos are already low value in Arknights, now try making them need 3 slots instead of 2! It's actually remarkable that a buffer unit can score a 0 on the Fun scale. Buffs are fun, yet somehow Hypergryph made a buffer that is anger-inducing to use instead.

The Upside: The only thing that saves her any points at all is her high DEF-ignore. It's an extremely minimal use, but if you're willing to suffer through the RNG, you can at least theoretically extract some DPS with her S1 against tough enemies. But even that’s a stretch since the effective cycle of an on-deploy skill is so long. The best upside of it is that she’s off the damn field during the downtime!

Suggestions to fix: Remove the stun chance entirely. She still wouldn't be good, but she'd at least be worthy to consider. Her own reliance on external healing is drawback enough for the archetype. If you wanted to maintain some negative effect on the receiver still, changing the stun to self-damage would be a vast improvement to utility. Buffing Kroos2 while seeing if you can keep her alive for the duration actually sounds kinda fun! I'll admit that's fairly close to Aak, but the stun aspect is just far too limiting. Another option would be to give her some form of reduced redeployment time which would benefit both of her skills and be a roundabout way to mitigate the Geek Trait.

3 -3 -5 -5

The Downside: It's actually pretty rare for there to be multiple entrants in the same archetype on this list. Certainly, some archetypes are just natively questionable, but even Abjurer's eventually learned from their mistakes and we got a decent one with Quercus. That just makes Bryophyta all the more impressive. How in the hell did a modern unit manage to be worse than the existing Instructors, an already bottom of the barrel archetype? Bryophyta is a special level of awfulness, even within the context of this article. While most other direct comparisons have situations where the units differ, he somehow manages to be strictly worse than a 2.5 year old welfare!

Bryophyta awfulness is a truly impressive feat and he makes a terrific example of all that's going wrong with the modern 5★s. Some designer looked at Whislash and thought, "yup, that's too good". He buffs the least useful stat to buff, has a restrictive range, has a bad cycle, and has minimal offensive value. Then on top of that he stuns himself at the end of his skill! WHY? You can't even use him on his own since he'll just leak! This article tends to give some bonus points to melee units by default since they can at least block, but that's tough to sell here. He's just so much worse than everyone else that there's almost no reason to use him, even in niche clears with limited options.

The Upside: I have to admit, I'm really struggling here. It's super hard to justify Bryophyta in any way. About the only thing I can come up with is that his base skill is pretty good. Even at E0 it's a 30% factory skill, which is nice for newbies out of a welfare unit. But even that value is limited since 25% workers are common, and a 5% improvement isn't even noticeable. The fact I'm even talking about a 5% factory improvement as an upside should illustrate just how awful he is.

I’m tempted to give him some bonus points just for making Swire look better in comparison. Now she isn’t even the worst 5★ Instructor!

Suggestions to fix: Give him better numbers and better combat capabilities so he at least isn’t worse than Whislash. Unfortunately Instructors are bad across the board, so a lot more work would need done to make any of them passable, but he at least shouldn’t be worse than the 2.5 year old welfare!

20 5 5 0

The Downside: A common thread in this article is that many "bad" units aren't necessarily bad. They're just worse than commonly available options. That line of thought comes to its ultimate head with Almond. There are *three* Welfare Hookmasters, including a meta-caliber 6★ and a great 5★ everyone gets within a week of playing6, not to mention a far cheaper 4★ who does the base job just as well. Almond doesn't really slot into any niches either so... what possible value could she have? On top of just being dwarfed by her competition, she's not a good unit on her own merits either. Her S2 has a bad cycle for a single use skill compared to all other Shifters, and the cumulative pulls don't actually do much with how Shifting works in this game. Then her S1, which is alllllllmost great, is stuck on force level 1. Also she's designed based on the literal worst dog in existence. Gross. Have you heard her Trust Tap line?

The Upside: While Almond should score a 0 on the niche scale by being so damn replaceable, she saves a few points thanks to her charge based S1. If you don't have access to Gladiia in your given Niche-clear, it's actually pretty useful, despite the low Force level. And although it doesn't mesh well with the actual Shift mechanics, S2 is still a stall with a fairly significant potential Shift distance. You have to stretch pretty far to theorycraft a situation that's the better choice over Cliffheart or Snowsant though. Finally, while it's difficult to craft a meaningful niche that includes Almond but doesn't include Cliffheart or Snowsant, Shifters *are* still natively useful. If somehow she was your only option, she'd still be a usable choice.

Suggestions to fix: While I appreciate what S2 is trying to do from a design perspective, I'm not sure there's anything that can really be done here given how Shifting works in game. Instead, upping S1's Force level would make it instantly viable. A flat increase to Force level 2 is probably too good as it would be superior to Gladiia's, but even some sort of conditional Force increase would greatly increase her potential, without encroaching on the other 5★ Hookmasters.

The WORST Five

Spuria - Her presence here shouldn't surprise anyone who regularly reads my articles.  I'm a known Spuria hater.  No other unit is actively detrimental to have on the field, and any fringe use people come up with her S1 is pure cope by the numbers.

Bryophyta - In an absolute sense, Bryophyta probably shouldn't be as low ranked as he is.  However, he commits such a grave sin of being worse than another bad welfare that he forced me to reconsider how replaceability factors into rankings.

Windflit - A lot of people have tried to make Windflit work.  A +88% buff sounds like it should be good.  However, his kit is just so poorly executed that he's probably led to the most frustration of any unit in the bottom five.

Swire - Perhaps the most surprising entrant of the bottom five, however Swire just costs so much for how little she does.  Most old units have absurd SP costs, but just how in the world did Swire get saddled with 45 Attack Recovery SP?  It's so bad that on many maps it's literally never available, and when it is, the buff is hardly noticeable.

Tsukinogi - If there's any instance of personal cope on this list, it's Tsukinogi.  She has a unique niche!  She can't be bad!  Except the game design dictates that her niche almost never matters, and outside of that she is truly horrific, bringing almost nothing of value to the field.

The King/Queen of Shit

Drumroll please!  We've finally come to the crowning achievement of awarding the crown the worst goddamn 5★ in the game!

The worst 5* in the game

To no great surprise, the worst 5★ in the game is Spuria.  She actually came out a full five points worse than the runner up, Bryophyta, and that's with me trying my best to be objective!  Ultimately the difference comes down to her Geek Trait and the lack of any sort of internal sustain.  Of the many bad units here, she is the only one who is a problem to actually have on the field.  Even if her Trait were removed entirely she likely would still be in the bottom five due to the extremely narrow range of units that actually benefit from her buff.  Instead she makes the "replacement value" problem all buffers have worse by a whole third unit.  Spuria is just so ridiculously offensive in design and use that, in the end, crowning the worst was really no contest.

The final rankings

(Dis)-Honorable Mentions

One thing I realized in the course of writing this article is that a lot of bad units don't actually qualify anywhere close to "the worst".  There's a lot of 5s out there, so there's some stiff competition to make the bottom 20.  Some bad units like Coldshot just aren't *that* bad.  That doesn't mean they aren't worth making fun of though!

This section is units whose terribleness is worth noting, but weren't quite bad enough to justify the space in an already lengthy article.

Vulcan - Vulcan looks worse in comparison given how meta Mudrock and Penance are.  However, Vulcan is still a pretty serviceable unit in the right conditions.  Her skill cycles are a tough spot and she has no sustain outside of her skills which is a big usability problem.  But still, she's bulky with good sustain and reasonable damage.  There are much worse units on this list.

Franka - On the first draft of this, Franka was in the naughty list.  Maybe she still should be, but when I went back to review my first draft she just didn't fit in.  She is most certainly not good, but I've personally gotten by far the most use out of Franka compared to anyone else on the main list.  Her value is unique, especially for the rarity, and her Module really helped with the RNG too.

Flamebringer - FB is one of those units where this initial criticism was probably overly harsh.  With S2 up he's a really solid on-field presence and if you want to see some of his viability, check out almost any clear by Reiru on Youtube who uses him quite a bit.  But man, 40 SP Attack Recovery is a lot.  Flamebringer escapes the "worst" conversation, but not by much.

Executor - I waffled quite a bit on if OG Executor should make the list or not.  His kit is really awkward since you have to choose between bad-DPS on a good cycle, or alright-DPS that's neutered by DEF on a super bad cycle.  Ultimately though his damage isn't *that* awful and the main flaw against him is really that Pinecone is better.  I don't think that's quite enough to put him on the main list, and Aosta is worse anyway so the only real difference is how long of angry rant I give him.

Breeze - Breeze avoids the bottom of the list because of her archetype.  She's worse than Perfumer, but AoE Medics are just natively good and Breeze does have some (mostly) reasonable numbers.  If you were stuck in a niche where your only Medic is Breeze, you'd still do OK.  Although costing 600 red certs with no option for her to spook you nearly sees her make the list anyway.

Reed - Mixed damage is the kinda thing that probably seemed good to whoever designed Reed's kit, but it's a really big drawback.  They even took away her 2-DP niche with Modules, which certainly wasn't fair.  However, she isn't even the worst Charger on this list, so putting her on the mentions list seems a bit more reasonable despite her general awfulness.  Sadly, OG Reed falls more into the "valueless" category of unit rather than "awful".

Snowsant - If Bryophyta is on the list for being worse than another welfare at the same rarity, why isn't Snowsant?  Because Shifters are actually useful.  Snowsant has some unique value among Pullers since her S2 has unlimited targeting and her Slow is versatile (similar to FEater).  It's a pretty small niche, but it's more than a lot of other units mentioned here, and significantly more than Almond who did make the naughty list in the same archetype.  The replacement value problem of Cliffheart and Gladiia would see Snowsant ranked pretty poorly if this article were ranking everyone, but not low enough to make the worst of the worst.

Pre-Module Leizi - Leizi's evolution is a good example of just how important a good cycle time is.  While it did help her damage by quite a bit, her Module didn't really fundamentally change her skill when it was up.  The difference instead was bringing her absurd early design SP costs down to a lightning fast level!  To the point of this article though, while her cycle was abysmal and thus why she was often among the worst discussion early on, she still had enough damage that I don't think she qualifies for the worst discussion.

Folinic - The OG Harmasist, well before Kal'tsit or Hibiscus the Purifier.  Folinic has had a somewhat rough time of it since there's just so many good Medics in the game.  She has a tough time standing out as anything more than a design oddity with neither her healing nor her damage particularly standing out compared to her contemporaries.  Still, she's never been particularly bad either with a lot of flexibility and a unique Talent buff (thanks to her Module).  She'd also get bonus points for exploring new design spaces well ahead of her time.

Pre-Module Tomimi - Tomimi would have been on the list.  A Caster dealing Physical damage is already awkward but the real flaw in her kit was that absolutely horrific range.  She was basically useless in most maps if they didn't have perfect tile setup.  However, her Module opens up those corner tiles.  She still isn't good, but she has decent damage on a good cycle, and those corner tiles open up a ton of options.  The age of the game helps her too since Physical is more commonly the preference now than it was on her release thanks to bloating RES.

Brawlers (Indra, Flint, Dagda) - I wanted to include a brawler in the main list (almost certainly Flint), but when it came down to actually crafting and comparing them to the other worst units, all of the Brawlers just stood out as significantly better.  Instead, the problem with Brawlers has more to do with the game design that devalues their niche.  Why would you ever drop a Brawler early instead of a Vanguard followed by a real Guard?  The early-map pressures just don't call for what Brawlers provide.  Ultimately though, all three of them do have a low DP cost and respectable DPS numbers.  Far from good, but not the worst either.

Whislash - I've said multiple times that Bryophyta is worse and trashed on Instructors in general.  Whislash is a bad unit who deserves derision, but I'm putting her down here instead as a matter of my own consistency.  At least Whislash can carry her own weight offensively which is more than a lot of other units on the list can say.

Lava the Purgatory - I wonder if this is just my own historical bias here.  When she came out I was a big fan of Lava2.  I love the 5★ alters and I'm sad that HG seemed to stop doing them and I thought her kit had potential with high total damage that was more or less helidroppable.  That hasn't really panned out and even in my 5★ specific clears I just haven't found meaningful use out of her.  Looking back there's definitely a lot of flaws with Lava2's kit but overall I have a tough time seeing her as being in the discussion for worst.  There's just too much damage potential in her kit despite the flaws.

Tachanka - Big Attack Recovery costs are never good, especially on such a short skill (4 whole seconds!).  He's definitely a bad unit, but there's also few units that are as good to stick in buff-comps.  He's so good at it that I have a tough time actually putting him in the worst discussion.

Heidi - While not exactly a good unit, Heidi does have some upside compared to Sora.  She has a fast cycle, an off skill buff, and can toggle between offensive or defensive depending on needs.  There's interesting play/counterplay with her Block count manipulation too.  There are multiple worse buffers than Heidi so she doesn't quite fall into the worst discussion.

Paprika - If I were to pick one unit in this dishonorable mention list that's likely to catch me flak for not being included in the worst list, it's Paprika.  However, if Breeze doesn't make the list because AoE Medics are natively good, then I feel the same must apply to Paprika.  Her archetype is a bit worse, but it's functionally similar with some relative upside, and she has more than enough healing to be usable if she lines up to your niche.  Instead, Paprika is a design oddity.  Not the worst unit, but why does she exist in the first place when AoE Medics already existed? 

Poncirus - Not sure how HG missed the mark so badly here.  Worse DP generation than a 4★ S1 and a long charge time on a Vanguard.  Pretty big design mistakes!  There was a lot of potential here!  However, her final stats are pretty decent still which has enough niche value to keep her off of the big list.

Coldshot - Like Paprika, I feel like the design choices on Coldshot deserve more criticism than the unit itself.  The Hunter archetype has some interesting counterplay potential as can be seen with Ray, however with Coldshot it's just unrealized.  Rather than being an aspect of her kit to work with, it's an annoyance that makes her feel bad to use.  Ultimately though, Coldshot hits pretty hard for a 5★ on a pretty good cycle.  She could have been designed better, but for a 5★ Welfare she could have been a lot worse too.

Leto - Leto seems worse than she is.  She compares very poorly to Lappland, but Lappers is one of the best 5★s in the game and would be incredibly unlikely to have the same specs were she to come out today so that isn't really a fair bar of measurement.  Ignoring the comp to Lappland and the weird drawback, we instead get a Lord with reasonable DPS, reasonable DPH, and a good cycle.  While she is far from a good unit, there are much much worse 5★s than Leto.  However, her drawback does deserve special criticism.  It’s completely unnecessary on a unit that already compares poorly to historical units, and such choices are endemic to recent design.  That alone nearly got Leto put on the naughty list.

Kestrel - I really tried not to hate Kestrel when she was announced.  Pioneers have long been a meta punching bag up and down the rarities.  However, Kestrel somehow filled a common hole that’s been missing since launch.  There wasn’t really an “offensive” oriented 5★ Pioneer!  Texas and Chiave are more “burst” rather than “offensive” in what I mean here.  So even if Pioneers are off-meta, there was still a reasonable design space for her!  Right?  Well, actually yes, but how the hell did she get a Module that’s mode specific to RA2?  Made even worse due to the fact crit Modules tend to be valuable and this RA2 Module killed any chance of her getting that!  Plus being tied to the RA2 rewards ladder means she’s inaccessible to anyone who might actually use her.  What a wasted opportunity.

Doc - Man, they just can’t seem to get Instructors right.  Doc would probably have an alright niche as a non-Medic healer if he had unlimited uses of his skills, but with only 3 uses per deployment and little combat capability, he joins the other 5★ Instructors in a race to the bottom.

Fuze - He’s not really bad, but I think he deserves some level of indignation for thematic design taken too far.  A Centurion that can hit air is good!  It's a shame his S2 is so damn situational.  Was there really a need to restrict it to a high-tile that he has to face?

Aroma - She belongs in the naughty list and very possibly the bottom 5.  Useless control and awful damage.  However, she is brand new so avoided the main article since I don’t really want to retool everything just before posting.  At least Odda looks to be decent.  Unfortunately that just continues the overall trend since he’s really just a Centurion sidegrade!

Other Notables

This section is for operators that I don't think are bad at all, but might attract some questions that are worth at least addressing, or have some nuances/factoids I want to mention.

Firewatch - I wanted to mention Firewatch because she's an interesting example of how the game has evolved.  Near launch, Firewatch was considered to be a pretty bad unit.  She had a unique recruitment tag (since supplanted by Cutter) so a lot of people had her and thus generated a (relatively) large amount of discussion.  She’s regarded as quite a good 5★ these days with a lot of flexibility, a powerful niche, and can punch through big armor.  None of those things really mattered around launch though.  There was no place for her Stealth to matter, and there were few high DEF enemies (the same reason why Exusiai was a top three 6★s at launch), so most of her long interval shots felt wasted.  All that left her with was an RNG nuke on a long timer.  That perception is very different now and Firewatch is probably a top 10% 5★ these days, which makes her an interesting point of note in the evolution of the game and of the rarity.

Greyy the Lightningbearer - Similar to Firewatch, Greyy2 deserves some note for his evolution, although in his case it came around much quicker.  While never in the “worst” discussion, his initial perception was quite poor.  Flingers are a poorly regarded archetype and he had weak damage with bad RNG on his control.  However, Greyy2 got a great Module that went rather under the radar and niche players at large warmed to him pretty rapidly.  Plus he has an amazing base skill as the cherry on top.  These days he’s one of the best 5 Snipers out there!

Bison - Bison is a good case of the “replacement value” problem.  He’s really good at tanking.  But so are like ten other units at the same or lower rarity.  Still, while there may be very little reason to ever use Bison over other options, I have a real hard time calling him bad.

Hung - A lot of old players have some bad feelings for Hung.  He was the 5★ on the very first Limited banner, and a male furry which was a uhh... interesting thematic choice given the typical gacha game audience.  That's a rabbit hole I don't want to get into, but suffice to say, his reception was *really* bad.  Only Aak had it worse.  However, Guardians are a great class top to bottom and Hung is no exception.  His skills tend to charge fast, and at only 2 initial SP, his S2 is one of the best helidrop stall skills available.  If you asked a random sampling of players to name bad 5★s, Hung’s name would probably come up a lot, but it’s not something that stands up to objective scrutiny.

I’m not a furry btw… Just feel like I need to clarify that…

Mr. Nothing - I will never understand how Mr. Nothing got the reputation he has.  It abated somewhat since IS#3 really proved his potential value, but it’s always been there.  Despite that, he was somehow trashed on constantly since his release, and unjustly so.  He has a flexible kit with a ton of creative options built-in.  For me, he isn’t even a bottom half 5★, yet for reasons I will never understand, some people still consider him a bad unit.

Duelists (Aurora, Cement) - Duelists aren't bad, they're just hard to use.  Get them ramped up and their stat sticks are hard to ignore.  Being hard to use wasn't really a factor I considered when making this list, so both Aurora and Cement are safe.  I’d go as far as to call Aurora good (for a 5★) with her extreme stats, short cycle, and powerful control.  But again, why does she have a limiting self stun on her?  At least it’s on her off skill…

Primal Casters (Diamante / Warmy) - I wanted to call these two out for a design annoyance.  Neither of them are actually that bad, however the fundamental design here will forever keep them in the mediocre pool.  Primal Casters are designed to benefit off of other units dealing the Elemental Damage.  They otherwise suck at applying it themselves.  However, the other units will either be a 6★ like Virtuosa that does not need their help, or another mediocre 5★ like Valarqvin since Elemental Damage is quite powerful and balance will dictate no 5★ will be particularly good at it.  In other words, 5★ Primal Casters will always suck which makes their fundamental design seem pretty shortsighted.

Some OP you think is bad but I didn't address - I'm only adding this to cut off some comments.  There are a lot of OPs which might have a perception of being bad.  That's largely because there are better and commonly available options or they don't fill in a key role that's really necessary.  However, that alone doesn't make these OPs bad.


1)  Why not an even and aesthetic 20?  Short answer, I wasn’t sure who to include as the next two.  I covered the units I wanted to cover in the 18, and forcing another two in felt awkward with whoever I chose.  See the dishonorable mentions for why.  This article focuses on the “worst” which is a major problem, but perhaps the bigger problem is the wide-range of middle-ground mediocrity.  But that’s a topic for another article.

2)  It was pointed out to me that Podenco and Click came out during this time, and yea, they’re pretty good for their rarity.  I’m putting it in a footnote though because getting into that nuance in that paragraph really distracts from the point.

3)  Just to cut off some comments, Ceobe is a much better unit now, bordering on meta.  She owes this largely to her Module and an increasing trend upward of enemy DEF, which are both relatively recent changes.  However, around the time of her release, there just wasn't a lot of value in a ST Caster that only did good DPS versus a very slim subset of enemies.  Certainly she wasn’t as bad as the 5s of the time, but she was nowhere near Eyja or Ifrit.

4)  I know I said Lupos suck in Sora’s section.  Deal with it.

5)  Although a bit dated, check out this spreadsheet if you don’t believe me.  The only base skill in the entire game worth E2ing a unit for (base skill alone, and not their ancillary value) is Proviso.

6) Yes, I'm aware Cliffheart isn't technically considered a "welfare" by most players.  However, for practical purposes in this article she is.

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About the Author(s)

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