Penance is the future 6★ Juggernaut Defender featured in the Chop the Thorns banner, which will run during the Il Siracusano event. Penance rose to fame due to being the second Operator to be able to solo 7-18 in its entirety, not even needing full masteries. Why was she able to do this, and how well do her strengths translate into other types of content? Let’s find out!
Much like Mudrock before her, Penance is a powerful, high cost Defender with very strong offensive and defensive capabilities, but with the significant drawback of being unable to be healed directly (though, as with all other Operators with this characteristic, Regen effects such as Bard Supporters will still work).
Unlike Mudrock, however, her particular niche does not lie in damage-blocking Shields, but instead in nigh-unbreachable Barriers that can skyrocket her effective HP well over eighteen thousand, all without ever having to reduce her offensive capabilities.
Compared to Mudrock, Penance has significantly higher HP (the third highest in the entire game, only behind Wind Chimes and Quartz) and a bit more Attack, while having significantly lower Defense. This increase in HP is massively beneficial to Penance, as her main gimmick relies on this number. Other than that, the other differences in stats aren’t particularly notable.
Guardian of the Law
When deployed, Penance gains Barrier equal to 50% (+5% at P3) of her Max HP, and an additional 10% whenever she kills an enemy. This Barrier stacks up to 300% of her Max HP.
This Talent is the cornerstone of Penance’s kit, and she relies on it heavily to function properly. As Penance cannot be directly healed and has no way to heal herself, she needs to replenish her Barrier constantly, which acts as a refillable temporary HP bar. Thanks to this Talent and the ways her Skills interact with it, Penance is able to not only keep herself safe, but also reach monstrous HP levels of over 18000 when fully topped-up, as this Barrier effect never decays and continuously stacks.
Wreathed in Thorns
When Penance is attacked while having any amount of Barrier granted by her own Talents or Skills, she deals 50% (+3% at P5) of her Attack as Arts damage back to the attacker.
While this kind of reflect damage effect isn’t usually particularly powerful, Penance actually manages to make good use of it in a similar manner as Młynar via having it interact with Penance’s Attack. It’s still not going to do much while she’s off-Skill (barely 450 damage), but it actually starts doing a noteworthy amount with her third Skill active, particularly against enemies with global range or very high Attack Speed, as we will see later.
Skill 1: Final Word
When activated, Penance deals one additional hit equal to 200% of her Attack as Arts damage. When Overcharged, the regular attack also deals 200% physical damage and stuns the target for 5 seconds. This Skill has an SP cost of 3 and activates automatically.
This is a decent Powerstrike-adjacent Skill, but it suffers from being far too simple and not interacting with Penance’s kit in any meaningful way. The damage itself is not horrible for how quickly it charges, but it is also nothing to write home about, and the Overcharge effect has the unfortunate quirk of being in an auto-trigger Skill, meaning it will activate whenever there’s an enemy within range and cannot be properly controlled.
Overall not bad for a first Skill, but there’s very little reason to use this over any of Penance’s other Skills.
Skill 2: Diligence
When activated, Penance stops attacking and gains 60% Shelter. All enemies within the surrounding 8 tiles take 140% of her Attack as Arts damage every second, and the Barrier gain on kill effect of her first Talent is doubled. This Skill has an SP cost of 30, and lasts for 20 seconds.
This Skill is Penance’s simile to other Defender’s “tanking” Skills, granting her a quite large Physical and Arts damage reduction via her massive Shelter effect. This Skill also serves as a way to thin out larger waves of enemies while simultaneously feeding Penance’s Barrier, but it is lacking when it comes to dealing with more dangerous threats.
The effects of this Skill are by no means bad, but in the conditions where it’d be most useful it will always pale in comparison to her third one, which also benefits from large, constant waves of weaker enemies. Unless you specifically need Penance to be dealing Arts damage or absolutely hate the defensive SP gain type of her third Skill, I’d suggest using that one instead.
Skill 3: Through the Thorns
When activated, Penance immediately gains Barrier equal to 130% of her Max HP, her Attack Interval increases by 0.9 seconds (to 2.5 seconds per attack) and her Attack increases by 400%. Additionally, her Taunt level is increased. This Skill lasts for 30 seconds, and has a Defensive SP cost of 20.
This is the Skill Penance is infamously able to solo 7-18 with, and it is not difficult to see exactly why. Just by activating it, Penance obtains a Barrier that gives her an extra 6000 effective HP, already putting her at over 10k if cast while she’s at full HP and with no barrier. The Attack boost is also nothing to scoff at, giving her a monstrous 4580 Attack to not only directly kill enemies with, but also reflect as heavy Arts damage to any enemy who dares attack her, including all the ranged ones baited by her increased Taunt.
The only real downside of this Skill is the unconventional SP gaining method, requiring Penance to get hit 20 times to activate it. Essentially, this means Penance needs to feed off “weaker” (for a very wide definition of weak) enemies that cannot break through her Barrier in order to get the ball rolling, but she snowballs incredibly hard once she’s able to cast this Skill. This is why 7-18 is the perfect playground for Penance: the regular enemies cannot hope to deal any meaningful damage to her but still feed the SP of this Skill, while the only real threat comes so late into the stage she not only has her Barrier fully set up to its limit, but also a +400% Attack buff ready to dish out some remarkable levels of damage.
Overall this is Penance’s most noteworthy Skill, interacting with her entire kit in powerful and meaningful ways and providing incredible results once she gets it going.
So, should I pull for Penance? Is her Barrier-centric kit strong enough to warrant pulls? Will I even use her if I already have Mudrock? The answer is DEFINITELY YES. Penance is strong enough that most players will benefit from using her regularly, and different enough from Mudrock that advanced players will still enjoy the variety she provides. Not only that, but she’s also part of one of the most powerful banners ever released, sharing a rate-up with the meta-defining Texas the Omertosa, meaning that even if you fail to pull her you will still be getting an insane return in power for your pulls.