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Arknights: Ash in-depth gameplay analysis

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Introduction

The Rainbow Six Siege collab brought us yet another 6* Sniper, this time with an explosive and stunning kit. I have done a guide each for 2 AA Snipers recently, so let’s do 1 more. Given that she’s another 6* AA Sniper, how would she differentiate herself to the current 2 6* AA Snipers? Quite a lot actually, let’s get into it, we have so much time and so little to see… wait, strike that, reverse it.

Overview

Ash is the third 6* Anti-Air Sniper in the game, specialized in nuking enemies down really fast. Like, faster than Exusiai! (kinda) Obviously it will have some drawbacks, in this case, having a very strict condition to that damage, and a really short window to deal that damage. Another skill she has can do a really big explosion but can only be used twice per deployment. With a very fast start for her first deployment of the map, she’s ready for any rushing assault anywhere.

Stats

Offensive stats

Last time with Archetto, there was only Exu to compared to so it’s a bit rough comparison for Arch. Now we have at least 3 to form a decent comparison. Between the 3 of them, Ash’s ATK sits comfortably in the middle, like literally middle (Exu 630 → Ash 624 → Arch 618). Attack interval remains the same for any baseline AA Sniper at 1 per second. Do remember that Exu has a talent that give her more ATK SPD, so Exu actually win that department.

Defensive stats

Ash’s DEF is also the middle of the pack, but just like what I said in the Arch’s post, the difference is too small to matter.

As for her HP, guess what, it’s also in the middle of the pack, and once again, literally middle (Arch 1705 → Ash 1689 → Exu 1673). Do remember that Exu has a talent that gives her HP, so Ash’s HP is actually at the bottom rank.

Cost

Same with the other 6* AA Sniper, 12 base and 14 after E1. However, Ash has something special for this later.

Range, Trait, Talent

Range

The same as any other AA Snipers

range
AA Sniper range at base (left) and E1+ (right)
Trait

Take a guess.

Yea it’s “Prioritize aerial enemies first”, like any other AA Snipers.

Talent

First talent: Auxiliary Equipment

Available at E1: After deployed, immediately throw a flashbang at an enemy within range, stuns all enemies in an area for 3 seconds.

At E2, stun duration increases to 4s.

The target priority for the flashbang is the same as Ash’s target priority.

If there are no enemy when deployed, the talent doesn’t work and is wasted completely.

The stun radius is 1 tile around the target.

This talent alone doesn’t sound too impressive, even as a panic stun. But the rest of her kit is going to complement this talent massively and is actually the thing that make Ash’s identity, especially, one of her skills.

The real Ash in R6s recently lost the stun grenade but this collab was done a long while ago so that’s fine.

Second talent: Breaching Specialist

Available at E2 – Breaching Specialist: The first deployment has -3 DP cost and also immediately gain 17SP.

Potential 5 increases the SP gain to 20.

This is the first of what makes her first talent good. Even better, potential 5 actually bring this talent effectiveness up really nicely, but I’ll explain it later when we get to the second part. (Spoiler, it has something to do with her relatively low SP cost skill)

Because of this talent, none of her skill has initial SP, which is significant because one of her skills has limited use per deployment, or if you just want to move Ash around. The second deployment onward will have no initial SP.

The -3DP cost is also not small either, it allows her to be quickly deployed mainly because she has the same cost as Mountain (and less if you deployed Elysium), and with the extra initial SP, the stun on deployment, Ash is able to bring out an assault faster than anyone to stop a fast and early rush.

These 2 talent sections may be small, but it’s mostly because it affects only her own skills. The effects are pretty hella amazing though, in 1 particular skill she has (just like the first talent).

This talent also symbolizes the real Ash in R6S pretty well, as someone who rushes quickly to the enemy at the start of the match.

Skills

RIIC Skills

Always available – Team Rainbow: When this operator is in the Control Center(CC), decrease morale consumption by -0.05/h for EACH rainbow member operator in the CC.

This is the skill that’s needed for the “infinite morale” trick with the R6S team. There are 4 Rainbow members (Ash, Blitz, Frost, Tachanka) all with the same skill. Due to that, if all 4 are in the CC, each will give a -0.20 morale/h, totaling up to -0.80/h.

BUT, any operators in the CC already gives a basic -0.05/h to everyone in the base (which includes the CC), having 4 of them in reality gives the exact -1/h which mean morale is NOT consumed at all. And with the 5th member in the CC, that’s a morale reduction of -1.05/h, which in turn put it into a morale recovery of +0.05/h, turning the CC into a dorm of sort.

“There’s still a lot of work that needs to be done, Amiya. YOU can’t rest now!”

Available at E2 – Intelligence Reserve: When this operator is in the CC, for each rainbow members, Intelligence Reserve +1

Don’t even care about this base skill.

Okay fine, Intelligence Reserve is a resource used by Blitz in the HR (need E2), or Frost in the Workshop (also need E2). Still not worth it compare to a good skill in the respective version (Eyjaf/Provence for HR or a lot of specific workshop skills)

First skill: Support Fire

Stats at level 7

ATK +11% and every attack hit twice, 49 SP cost, 0 initial SP, infinite duration.

Auto Recovery, auto activation

Masteries

M3 gives +15% ATK, 45 SP cost.

Yep, that's it. The whole cost of a M3 for that.

Advanced Details

I have no idea why the skill gives so little damage. But it hits twice and has infinite duration so it’s something. In fact, if you do the math the skill deal a total of 115%*2 damage per hit per second, which is “higher” than Platinum S2M3 228% damage per hit per 1.25s. Also, it’s also a better GT S1 if enemies are coming in consistently (which never really happen except maybe in these OD maps).

Remember her second talent, this skill basically has 17(20) less SP cost, which push this skill down to around 29-32 SP cost (not 25SP because only a massive idiot woul… okay moving on) which is pretty good wind-up time for an infinite duration skill. Heck, even without that talent it’s still a pretty short cooldown for an Auto Recovery infinite duration skill (I mean not the infinite kind like Jaye, Surtr, Mr. Nothing,…) with Plat S2M3 coming close at 50SP.

Possible usages

For Annihilation map? When you forgot to switch skill after E1 her? Idk skill’s pretty suck. Okay not really, but it sucks after you realise what her next skill (or next 2 skills) can do.

Second skill: Assault Tactics

Stats at level 7

Immediately trigger talent 1 again, greatly reduce attack interval (-80%), deal 210% ATK against stunned enemies, gain 31 bullets. Skill ends after all bullets are used and can be manually deactivate. 29 SP cost, 0 intial SP, “infinite” duration.

Auto Recovery, manual activation.

Masteries

M3 gives 250% ATK against stunned enemies, 25 SP cost.

Advanced Details

This is the final piece that makes her talents amazing. At M3, this skill only has 25SP cost, and she gets 17 on first deployment. Oh and she stuns her target upon deployment for 4s, giving her up to 21SP after it is over, leaving only 4s left to get the skill ready. Not good enough? At potential 5 (whale territory though), she gets 20SP upon deployment, leaving only 1s left to use the skill after the stun is over. That’s a start faster than anyone but fast-redeploy specialists! And unlike those Specialists, Ash can continue using her skill afterward.

If you somehow use this skill when there’s no enemy around, the talent is again wasted, but Ash will still get the 31 bullets and be ready with shooting anyway.

If she’s not shooting, the bullet will of course not be spent, and thus technically it has infinite duration. Obviously the real duration is how long she needs to empty the magazine. She has an attack interval of 0.2s, and to empty 31 bullets she’d need 6.2 seconds, assuming she’s shooting constantly.

If you noticed, the stun duration of her first talent is only 4s, while she needs 6.2s to empty the whole thing. That means 2.2s of not getting the benefits of massive damage against stunned enemies. That’s where 2 important ideas come in to maximize this skill:

  • Ally. If you want to “maximize” the entire 31 bullets of massive damage, you have to get some allies. There are 2 branches here: ATK SPD, or additional stun. Sources of ATK SPD is actually pretty low, but the few that work great with Ash, oh boy are they a given, Elysium and Aak. Aak S3M3 alone will let Ash use about 26-27 bullets before her stun is over, Elysium gives less ATK SPD but also -DEF and reveal invisible. The other branch is extra stun, W is the best nominee here, not because she stuns, but also she amplifies damage taken by stunned enemies. W S3 also has a delay that is long enough for Ash’s stun to wear off, so if both skills are used at the same time, the enemies will be stunned for the entire duration of Ash S2. This is much more feasible to do than getting ATK SPD, but W is also another limited unit, so wack. Projekt Red is kinda more feasible, and she got a 2s stun (3s at M3), which is just barely enough to 6s out of 6.2s.

  • The skill can be manually deactivated. I would like to emphasize this more than ally synergy because otherwise people might believe that Ash is weak without ally. Which she is absolutely not. However, it’s not like Ash can just solo the entire map either. Anyway, in 4s, Ash S2M3 can kill almost any non-boss elite threat in the map. Just turn it off after the target is dead, or in worse cases, after the target is no longer stunned and let your ally finish him off afterward, a third case for the first bullet point (heh, bullet point).

With the 4s duration, theoretically Ash can fire 20 rounds out of 31 to deal those massive damage. In reality though she’ll get like 18 or so because there’s a short transition between throwing the flashbang and shooting, as well as the bullet’s travel time.

Fun fact: the reason this skill gives 31 bullets is because the actual Ash in R6S has 31 bullets per magazine for her assault rifle as well. And if you look at the skill icon carefully there's a "31" at the bottom right of it.

Possible usages

Controllable low cooldown fast rotation Exu.

You see, Ash is different from Exu. Not just in quality-of-life stuffs, but also the enemies they work best with. Exu is uncontrollable, however predictable it is. Which means in order to best use her, you have to learn timing, which means learning enemy spawn pattern. Sometimes, that pattern will never fit Exu’s own pattern. That’s fine now, since Ash has, one, a lower cooldown, two, a short duration skill which can also be cancelled earlier, which means beginning the recharge faster, having it ready again earlier, and three, manual activation.

With that, Exu is much more preferable to kill predictable enemies such as bosses, and a few special elites, while Ash is perfect for entering a map blind and great for killing irregularly spawned elites.

Put it another way, and take recent event for an example, those Blindeys that are tanky but can only be blocked by same attribute ally. But, you only realized that they slipped a lil bit too late, so now you either need a firecracker (and extremely tight splitboxing) or restart the run. With Ash, you can now stop that right then and there, or preemptively delete them. Most elites are stunnable, so her ability to delete them is rarely being affected.

Or another example of a dangerous enemy that aren’t bosses, Twilight of Wolumonde’s infamous Blood Shaman. They are actually stunnable, unlike the casters. So you can both stop them and murder them in 1 fell swoop. It’s the same strat I use with Rosa in that event, but Ash do it faster with a shorter rotation, ensure that the skill will always be ready. Rosa has a multi-target though, so it’s easier to aim, but Ash does it just as efficient.

You can also just use it as an on-demand short-ish cooldown 4s stun, even if Ash can’t kill them in that time, which mostly only defender-type enemies can do.

You also have to be careful with a few things. Most notably, Ash’s priority during S2 does not change, therefore she still prioritises drones and enemies with least path to blue box. Stunned enemies cannot move, and any not-stunned enemies still move forward. If Ash doesn’t finish her job faster than those enemies moving passed the stunned enemies, she will start shooting them instead of the stunned one due to the priority. Or if drones are in play, Ash will prioritize them first, and/or prioritize using the stun on them first, so it can either be Ash throwing stun on a group of enemies but then shooting a drone, or stunning only a faraway drone and then the closer enemies are still free.

Third skill: Breaching Rounds

Stats at level 7

Fires a Breaching Round forward, dealing 260% physical ATK as it passes through and pushes them backward. The Round will explode at the end of the journey and deal 360% physical ATK in an area. If the Round hit a high ground tile, it immediately explodes and deal 720% physical ATK. 25 SP Cost, 0 initial SP.

Can only be used 2 times per deployment

Push force is 2

Auto Recovery, manual activation

Masteries

M3 gives 300% passing damage and 400% normal explosion damage, 800% high ground explosion damage.

(yes the only thing gained from M3 is damage)

Advanced Details

The skill has a different range than usual and will always travel the full range if possible, target priority does not matter at all.

skillrange
It's actually 1 tile farther than her normal range but it's not that great as I will explain later

The Breaching Round will travel along that range until the end of it where it will explode dealing the standard explosion damage. Only when it hits high ground (ranged tiles, edge of map, buildings,…) from a low ground, then it explodes earlier, and deal double the original damage.

example
Examples of eligible high grounds tiles (approved by Obi Wan), an example of a normal explosion (bottom right), and an example of what feels like high ground but isn't (top right)

The normal explosion will explode at the middle of the 4th tile, therefore even if there’s a high ground right afterward, it still deals the normal damage.

4th
1736 is no way 800% of Ash's damage

The tile Ash is on is always considered a high ground, or at least, the rounds seems to start its journey on the tile in front of Ash, so the high ground in front of Ash will never trigger the explosion.

fronttile
Also applies for other maps with ranged unit being able to deploy on low ground like MN-EX-8

It also needs to be on a low ground before hitting a high ground in order to get the strong explosion. If it simply travels along a bunch of high ground, the normal explosion with occur.

hightile

The explosion radius is 1.5 tiles. The Round while travelling has a width of roughly 2 tiles, so it is capable to reach both end of her normal range (except enemy that are really on the edge of her range).

The Round will push enemies in the direction Ash’s facing, except the enemies that are directly beside her. They get pushed slightly to the side instead.

The limit of 2 usage is only per deployment, not for the whole map like Sussuro’s S2 or Guard Amiya’s S2. You can actually just redeploy Ash to use again. Do remember about the limit of Ash’s second talent, her second deployment and onward will not have the extra SP or reduced DP. It is still, however, a massive limitation, the fact that it has a low SP cost doesn’t help either. Also the actual Ash in R6S only get 2 Breaching Rounds as well.

Possible usages

This is one of the highest one time nuke any operator can get. With 800%, only Conviction can have the same % but at a much harder condition to achieve. That make it extremely receptive to buffs and allows a delete of any enemy but bosses with a buff or 2. And technically with enough buffs and debuffs, even those bosses, but that’s meme territory.

The theory of this skill is to push the enemies backward to be in range of the explosion that occurs when it reaches a high ground, while also catching some approaching enemies as well. The best distance to do that is like 1-2 tiles, which is the easiest way to detect a good spot to use the skill.

The skill has a limit of 2 usage per deployment so take that into account. I’ve tested it around in many maps and there always are many good spots and good targets. It’s just due to the 2 use per deployment limit that put a stop to it and force a massive calculation to just use it, because you have to either take account of redeploy time or save it and make every use count. For the former, she can’t make use of her second talent because the +SP and -DP is only for the first deployment, and for the latter, she can’t use the first talent of an on-demand stun. Actually neither way use the first talent that well, but one use it way more than the other.

Modules

Not available yet. Check back after it is released.

Closing Thoughts

Ash packs quite a punch for an AA Sniper, enough that she’s managed to catch up to the infamous Exusiai, whereas Archetto needs some special situations to be comparable. At the very least, I won’t have to spend efforts to convince people that Ash is strong, while Archetto certainly needs a lot of work to convince people that she’s worth the 6* status and is better than any of her 5* counterpart except very specific situations.

  • Ash S2 is one of the best threat-delete skills in the game (except for bosses). All of its perks just work nicely together. This is Ash’s best skill and definitely the star of this show. Amazing for going into a map not knowing ahead, great for stopping high threats of the map, assuming they are stunnable. Do remember the target priority before using the skill. Take this 3 Snipers 6-5 clear as an example, where Ash single handedly take care of the Possessed Javelin Thrower coming from the left side without taking retaliation.

  • Her S3 is limited to 2 use per deployment, so whatever benefits it has is immediately rendered moot. Still, it is an amazing nuke, and despite the wall of text, the requirement to pull it off isn’t that complicated. It can put a massive dent to tanky enemies, and with some buffs, just straight up deleting them. It also push enemies so there can be some additional benefits as well. The only problem is the 2 uses per deployment, something I think I haven’t mentioned yet.

There are many great possible allies for her if you wish to go down that route. Aside from the obvious Elysium, W’s S3M3 is one of the best partners for her. Use Ash S2 and W S3 at the same time and most enemies will be stunned for the whole duration of Ash S2. W S3 also have a bigger AoE, massive damage that can overlap each other so that only the chonky enemies would survive, leaving Ash then to finish the job. It also has a 3 second delay while Ash stuns for 4s so the stun duration barely overlap each other as well. Oh and as the nail in the coffin, guess what will happen to stunned enemies inside W’s range? Sadly, this amazing combo involves 2 limited unit.

Remember when I said Archetto is the best AA Sniper to start out with? Yea sorry Archetto but Im going to have to ask you to share the title with Ash. Technically Ash is better as a starting out AA Sniper, but Ash is very very limited, and Archetto does handle a swarm/drones better over a longer duration.

Outro

So how do you find Ash, for those that got her? The convenience of manual activation alone certainly will already bring Ash to be more favorable than Exu, however higher ceiling Exu can bring. Ash also fares against armor much better than Exu (against stun-able enemies), so their presence also doesn’t faze her if she’s alone without buffers/debuffers. Also Ash potential 5 is pretty strong, as it’s a great improvement to her rushing power which is one of her main assets, but given that this banner will likely never return, feelsbadman. Also I almost forgot to mention that Ash S3 can only be used 2 times per deployment.

Anyway, thank you for reading and I’ll see you next time.

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Random pleb Arknights guide writer on reddit

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