Hello again! Since I have finally finished writing on Ashlock and Fartooth from the Pinus Sylvestris event that happened before Near Light, our current event, I finally can move on to something more recent. And it’s a unit I have issues with remembering her name. Flamemane is our new 6* Pioneer, coming along as the other rate-up with the shiny limited Nearl the Radiant Knight. But where there is light, there is also darkness, and Nearl casted a large shadow over Wildtail.
Flametooth is the new 6* Pioneer to join the company of the dead Siege and the barely living Saga in the current world of Bagpipe. Surprisingly, she is slightly better off than those two even in the very hardest content. Where both Siege and Saga are about long duration burst DPS with their S3 or low cooldown small nuke with their S2, Flamelock is the combination of those two, a low cooldown short duration burst DPS. In addition, Ashtail also possesses pseudo-immortality through massive evasion, the ability to have 3-block – a rare ability from a non-Defender unit – and the ability to attack 3 enemies at once, like an AoE Guard.
Within the Pioneer family, Flametail (yea sorry I’ll stop with the joke now) has the second highest ATK, losing to Saga.
As for attack rate, it’s weird. Most websites list it as 1.05 seconds attack rate. Now first thing first, why is there that .05 at all? But second of all, it’s not even correct. Since 1.05 seconds is 31.5 frames in a 30FPS scale, the game has to round it to 32 frames, making it in practice 1.067 seconds. Anyway, you can practically consider it 1 attack per second, but over a long time they will lose an attack because of it not being perfectly 1 second.
Now here’s a funny part, but slightly off-topic, so skip to the next paragraph if you want to. For the longest time, within the Pioneer family there is a massive division between them. It all comes down to whether they get +ATK or +DEF from their trust bonus. Have you ever felt like Texas is way too squishy while Zima just shrugs off most early enemies? That’s the difference of merely 70 DEF on a melee unit, the trust bonus that Zima gets but Texas doesn’t. And it is also why Skadance is broken even though she “only” gives about 140 DEF to everyone.
But back to the main point. Flametail’s HP is actually low compared with the rest of the Vanguards. She only beats Saileach, Texas, and Chiave, along with the 4* or lower rarity.
As for base DEF, Flametail looks like one of the highest for the Vanguards (and is actually highest if you don’t count trust bonus but that doesn’t really make sense), losing only to Grani, Zima, Siege, Saileach, and Elysium (and technically, Courier when his talent kicks in). Note that all 5 I just listed have +DEF in their trust bonus and that Flametail has none.
However, if you read the Overview, you should know Flametail has an even better defensive capabilities than what her stats show and we’ll get to that eventually.
Being a 6*, her cost is slightly higher than the rest. In the Vanguard case, it hurts even more because the idea of a Vanguard is to deploy them early for combat. Starting at 12 DP cost, she ends up with 14 from E1 onward.
Range, Trait, Talent
Pioneer, or a majority of melee units, have a fairly simple range of just 1 tile in front of them that is also unchanged with promotion.
Block 2 enemies
Uh well, back then, all Vanguards with this trait generated DP through their skill, hence the outdated “DP-on-skill Vanguards” name. Now, with Standard Bearers and Tacticians – all having DP generation through their skills – that old name doesn’t make much sense anymore.
Anyway, it just signifies that these Vanguard are called Pioneers, having 2 blocks and combat abilities for the early phase of the map.
First talent: Vanguard Swordmanship
Available at E1 – After dodging an attack, the next attack deals two hits.
At E2, it becomes “After dodging an attack, the next attack deals two hits and attacks a number of enemies equal to block count.” (the in game description is incorrect and this particular phrase explains it better)
Here’s the first sign of what Flametail is all about: Evasion, and more specifically, counterattack. Her damage spikes up after she dodges an enemy attack. It matters not if the evasion source comes from herself or others, as long as she dodges an attack, her next attack is enhanced.
She does not “store” the enhanced attack. That is to say, if she dodges 5 ranged attacks without being able to attack during it, only her first next attack deals double hits, not her 5 next attacks.
With 2 blocks, after dodging she can boost her damage up to 4 times, because it hits twice, and it hits 2 enemies. I wonder if there will be an easy way to boost her block count hmmmm.
Her sword glows red when this talent is activated. Though, in melee combat that’s not really visible nor lasts long enough.
She can dodge Aak's buff and get the bonus, but Aak S3 attacks fast enough that she'll only get at most 2 enhanced attacks from it.
Second talent: Pinus Sylvestris Leader
When deployed, all “Kazimierz” Operators gain 22% physical dodge.
Potential 5 increases that to 25%
The second sign of her evasion theme. This time it’s also a team support talent... somewhat.
The list of Kazimierz Operators are: Justice Knight, Nearl the Radiant Knight (but not Nearl the defender), Fartooth, Ashlock, Wild Mane, Blemishine, Whislash, Platinum, Meteor, Gravel.
The most noteworthy beneficiaries are Nearl and Blemishine.
Nearl main role is to drop on top of the enemy and duel them until death. Apart from having 4 layers of shield, which block 4 hits, an additional 22% evasion can go a long way. It doesn’t really work that well for her S3, because the Sun doesn’t get the evasion, and if something manages to break through her 6k HP 500-600 DEF Sun before dying, a 22% chance to dodge a physical attack is far too unreliable for Nearl when they finally reach her.
Blemishine is a Defender who usually prefers to be in the front line. Evasion then clearly is beneficial to her because she was supposed to tank some hits, and dodging a hit once in a while definitely would work out against the heavy hitting enemies that she’s supposed to be tanking. You know, just like the same way that Hoshi's talent is nice when it proc once in a while. (Also dodging an attack still gives her 1 SP for her S2 and S3 as well.)
Wild Mane’s main schtick is that she pushes enemies away to prevent them from attacking her. What little attack they can manage to sneak in between the pushes is then negated 22% of the time. Sounds great, but Wild Mane herself kinda sucks, so…
Whislash preferred to hide behind or to the side to support allies, she shouldn’t be in position to take advantage of the evasion chance, unless you use her as a ranged bait… somehow.
Gravel… is Gravel.
Always available – Tiny Leader: When in the Control Center, increases morale of all Operators in there by +0.05/h
Available at E2 – Knights of Pinus Sylvestris: When in the Control Center, each Pinus Sylvestris operator in the Factories has +10% efficiency for Battle Records and -10% efficiency for Precious Metals.
Her first one is just basically the regular one for the CC.
For the second skill, she boosts EXP factory while reducing Gold bar factory. This means that if you want to use this combo, the Pinus operators have to be working in an EXP factory.
The Pinus Sylvestris operators are Fartooth, Ashlock, and Wild Mane. Justice Knights doesn’t have a factory skill, but she does have a Power Plant skill that also boosts Wild Mane in the EXP factory. Flametail herself also belongs to the Pinus of course, but she needs to be in the CC if she wants to boost the rest.
Stats at level 7
Immediately gains 6 DP and is guaranteed to dodge the next Physical attack, no duration, 19 SP cost, 6 initial SP.
Auto Recovery, auto activation
M3 gives 18 SP cost, and 9 initial SP.
Yep... that’s it...
Just like her first talent, the guaranteed evasion doesn’t stack. If she used this skill 5 times without being hit, she would only dodge 1 next attack, no more.
As for DP generation, it loses out very slightly to the generic Charge γ from the other Pioneers. For a precise number, at M3, this skill gives 0.33 DP/s while the Charge version gives 0.342 DP/s.
If Flametail get the 22% chance dodge from her talent, the guaranteed dodge effect from this skill will not be used. It still only holds 1 charge though.
Uhhhhh… maybe not. Honestly, it certainly is better than the regular Charge γ skills despite the slightly lower DP generation, because of the guaranteed dodge which also gives her some offensive capability through her talent. It’s also funny against the Mudrock Colossus (e.g. the Dossoles Water Gate annihilation), but that’s about it.
Stats at level 7
Immediately gains 12 DP; Deals 210% physical damage twice to up to 6 enemies in a certain range and stuns them for 0.5 seconds; In that same range, allies gain 45% physical evasion for 10s; 40 SP cost, 26 initial SP.
Auto Recovery, manual activation.
M2 gives 230% damage, 50% evasion, and 28 initial SP
M3 gives 13 DP, 240% damage, and 30 initial SP.
This skill is almost exactly like Texas’ S2: deals damage twice and stuns, all within the same range.
The evasion field effect is similar to Shamare’s S2 in that it is a lingering effect. It doesn’t stop the skill from recharging like a regular durational skill. That means you have only 30s downtime where her allies don’t have the evasion buff. Except that’s still a pretty long time.
If Flametail is retreated, the evasion field disappears immediately.
Multiple instances of this field do not stack. So you can’t just Liskarm + Flametail into casting this skill 5 times. Even if it does stack, it also wouldn’t work that well because…
Evasion chance stacks multiplicatively. So her talent of 22% combined with this skill 50% only gives 61% chance to dodge an attack.
Surprisingly, there are not many reasons to use this skill, despite the similarity to Texas’ S2 which is debatably a good skill. The stun lasts too short, so it can’t do anything but stop an attack, whereas Texas can stop them for 3 whole seconds. This skill has a higher %, but it deals physical damage, while Texas’ deals arts damage.
The evasion buff is also nearly meaningless. It has too high of a downtime to be reliable, and it has a low enough % evasion to be reliable.
To put it in a different perspective, Deepcolor’s S2 – a skill with the same % physical evasion, over a larger area, for a longer duration, with higher uptime, costs less to upgrade – is used very little. So you can imagine how good Flametail S2 is.
Basically, it requires a very specific strategy to make use of this skill. The simplest one I can think of is having her close to Blemishine to provide 61% physical evasion while stun-cancelling 1 attack every 40s, and even then that’s not really good.
There is another reason to not use this skill, so she can use her signature skill below.
Stats at level 7
Gradually gains 8 DP over the skill duration, attack interval reduced, ATK +60%, block +1, gains 80% Physical and Arts evasion, 8 seconds duration, 19 SP cost, 3 initial SP.
Auto Recovery, manual activation.
M3 gives +90% ATK, 16 SP cost, 6 initial SP
The skill reduces her attack interval to 70%, so now she attacks once every 0.733 second, or 22 frames (in a 30FPS scale).
Block +1 also means that her first talent now allows her to hit 3 enemies at once after a dodge.
Blocking 3 enemies is also a feat that few non-defender can achieve. The others are Centurions (formerly called AoE Guard, 5 members), Liberators (only Tequila for now), Whislash, Pallas, Roberta, and Mon3tr. You’ll notice that most of them are Guards. Of course, I am not counting block count buff skills like Nian, Pallas (though Pallas affects herself so it still counts there), or future unit Heidi (and potentially more units in a further distant future).
Unlike her previous skills and her 2nd talent, this skill also gives her Arts Evasion, which is quite significant.
Unlike her second skill, this skill gives 80% evasion. Combined with her second talent, her physical evasion rate becomes 84.4%; If she is at potential 5, it’s 85%. Her Arts evasion is still only 80%. Although I guess, for some people, those numbers are probably still unreliable (if you do, perhaps you played XCOM before?).
This is her signature skill, giving her the niche of a pseudo-immortal tank that also mows hordes of enemies. She gets more ATK, she attacks faster, and if she dodges, which is very easy to do, she counters with a double-hit toward 3 enemies. What more can you ask for? Skill duration? Well about that…
The skill duration and rotation is a double-edge sword in this case. Let me list the obvious downside first, because I’m sure everyone has already talked about it.
8 seconds is not a long duration, as much as my ex would argue otherwise. If the enemy she’s dueling with can survive longer than 8 seconds, Flametail is in big trouble. And it’s going to happen more often than not if she’s “dueling” an elite and not 1v2 or 1v3. Against weaker enemies though, she probably can because the skill also nearly doubles her attack and increases her attack rate, the evasion then is basically just to preserve her HP and lessen the need for healing.
But the upside is its low 16 SP cost. It has an extremely fast rotation. As fast as it runs out of steam, it also comes back just as quickly. Maybe she can’t duel elite/boss in 8 seconds, but what about letting her team join in? If her team can kill that enemy in around that time, Flametail is going to have her skill ready for the next one in almost no time at all. In this way, she is a front line unit that practically has permanent pseudo-immortality against most of the important enemies in the map.
Her combat power is also amazing in the early phase. Combined with the above point, she can be deployed first as a normal Vanguard, generate DP and kill early mobs, then later on transcend to be a DPS tank in the later phase. All in a package of just 1 unit.
Not available yet. Maybe check back after it is released
Flametail is a unit that’s way different in practice than at first glance through her numbers. She combines the ability to generate DP, fight horde, and tank enemies, in both the early and the late phase of a map. She’s great to be deployed early and remains there as a frontliner for the rest of the map
S1 can be treated as a regular Charge skill from other Pioneers. But it’s slightly better due to guaranteed dodge which triggers her talent, so she can remain a combat unit even if she’s using this skill, unlike other Pioneers who have nothing left if they are using their respective S1.
S2 is just a worse Texas’ S2. You can’t even say “but I might want 2 Texas” because it cannot even do that properly. It’s better to think of it as an evasion buffer and just ignore the stun completely. And even in that case, it’s still not even worth it.
S3 is what Flametail is known for. It gives her a variety of roles that’s relevant in nearly all types of content. This skill gives DP generation, AoE attack, relatively high DPS that goes even higher with a dodge, and pseudo-immortality. It also has an amazing skill rotation so that it’s always ready when you need it.
Let’s compare her with her peers. Siege’s already dead, but regardless, in the time it takes for Siege to gain 2 charges of her S2, Flametail can use 1 of her S3. And 1 of Flametail S3 deals more damage, has better survivability, and generates more DP. Siege S3 hits harder but remains single-target, and Flametail has the ability to use 2 of her S3 in that time.
Saga also revolves around early hordes fighting with their respective S3. They have the same DP generation with the same uptime (though Saga gives more DP in the beginning, Flametail needs a few more S3 to catch up). The main differences here are Saga hitting hard versus Flametail hitting fast; Saga having longer duration longer downtime versus Flametail having shorter duration shorter downtime; Saga has the SP granting talent to other allies versus Flametail on S3 has no real support at all other than her (limited) talent; Saga also has range extension versus Flametail regular range.
But when it comes to survivability, Flametail is still the best. Siege has nothing but stats; Saga has only a 1 time use regeneration and only 70% physical evasion. The regeneration can be nice but the 1 time use per deployment is insufficient for long term fighting. And that’s where Flametail is right now in the Flagpipe meta: a low DP cost, nigh immortal pseudo-Centurion-Guard that generates DP.
By the way, what’s up with the Pinus and short duration–short cooldown skills? Fartooth has 20s/20SP rotation, Ashlock has 10/18 rotation, and Flametail has 8/16. No I don’t know who’s this Wild Mane you’re talking about.
Here are some small video examples I can find
NL-EX-8 vanguard only (loooooooong video): https://www.bilibili.com/video/BV19341187pP
H9-3 vanguard only (not long video) with specific usage of her S2: https://www.bilibili.com/video/BV1rZ4y197DP
Any Risk 29+ CC#8 videos I guess. She really shines there from what I heard. I can’t watch them for spoilers though so you have to search them yourself.
But enough of me gushing about Flametail, what do you think about her? As I said, she is very different in practice than in number theory. I’m sure everyone’s impression of her will improve when they get to try her out.
Anyway thank you for reading and I’ll see you next time.