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Arknights: New Operator Spotlight - Thorns

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Is Thorns Good? Is Thorns Worth It?

Thorns official EN release image

Thorns is a new 6★ Ranged Guard Operator who has just been released on the global Arknights server. He’s been the focus of many memes, his personality can be summed up as “hot mess,” and whispers of his power level and its proximity to 9000 have been floating around for months. What’s the rundown on this eccentric Operator? Is Thorns worth the hype?

What is Thorns’ Role? What Makes Thorns Special?

Guard icon

As previously stated, Thorns is a 6★ Guard—specifically, the most recent addition to the Ranged Guard archetype. Most Ranged Guards have some combination of ranged DPS, survivability, and crowd-control. Thorns specializes in the first two, adding “Arts damage over time” to his DPS, “HP regen” to his survivability, and “multi-target counterattacks” in the middle of both. For the fine details on his stats, Trait, Skills, and more, take a look at his Operator page.

Thorns’ coup de grace is his S3, Supreme Arts, which buffs his ATK, ASPD, and attack range while removing the damage penalty that Ranged Guards suffer on their ranged attacks. The mindblowing thing about this Skill is its duration: it lasts for 30 seconds the first time it is used in a battle, then it becomes permanent the second time.

Let’s say that one more time: the buffs become permanent the second time they are used in a battle. They also double in strength. As if gaining Sniper attack range and attack speed on a ground unit wasn’t good enough on its own.

To say this Skill is strong is an understatement. Supreme Arts gives Thorns unparalleled potential for consistent DPS. On long stages, particularly endurance runs like Annihilation stages, this Skill’s value is incalculable.

When Should I Use Thorns?

  • Let’s start with the obvious: with Block-2 and ranged attacks, Thorns is excellent for any situation where you have to split your attention between ground and air enemies.
  • Thorns’ Nerve Corrosion Talent deals Arts damage over time to enemies that Thorns attacks. This gives Thorns an extra damage edge against high-DEF opponents.
  • In addition, Nerve Corrosion’s damage is doubled against ranged enemies. Are you being pestered by enemy Snipers? Thorns can solve that problem for you.
  • Thorns’ E2 Talent, Echoes of Ancestral Waves, grants Thorns HP regeneration when he isn’t actively attacking. With his respectable defensive stats (including innate RES), this Talent makes Thorns a deceptively hardy Operator.
  • Protective Spikes, Thorns’ S2, is usually forgotten because of the might of Supreme Arts. However, in addition to being a cute reminder that Thorns is a sea urchin, Protective Spikes can be surprisingly useful:
    • For the duration, Thorns stops attacking (his counterattacks do not count as attacks), so Echoes of Ancestral Waves will trigger, giving Thorns on-demand self-healing.
    • It massively increases Thorns’ DEF. In combination with Echoes of Ancestral Waves, this makes Thorns ridiculously difficult to kill.
    • The counterattacks are multi-target. On a stage where enemies are going for quantity over quality, Protective Spikes can be a better answer than Supreme Arts.
Thorns S2
  • Of course, Supreme Arts is one of the best reasons to use Thorns. Once it activates, Thorns outranges and out-attack-speeds every other Ranged Guard currently in the game. There isn’t even a point in listing situations where Supreme Arts is useful: it’s that widely applicable.
Thorns S3
  • Let’s be honest: with his ranged attacks, hefty survivability, and terrific DPS, Thorns is a good choice for almost every situation. However, there are some places that Thorns is particularly well-suited for:
    • Annihilation stages call for endurance in every sense of the word, and Thorns has got it in spades. There is arguably no game mode better suited to Thorns’ kit than an Annihilation stage.
    • Challenge stages and Contingency Contracts are a great fit for Thorns’ versatility. Are Snipers banned? Thorns is basically a Sniper. Are Defenders banned? Use S2 and shrug off your enemies. Are Medics banned? Thorns can self-heal.

When Should I NOT Use Thorns?

  • Supreme Arts has [Attacking Enemy] SP charging and has to be activated twice before it really unleashes its full power. If you need to hit the ground running on a short, frantic battle stage, Thorns might take a little too long to get up to speed.
  • The one thing Thorns lacks is burst damage. His consistent DPS is phenomenal, but when you need to hit the delete button on a particular wave of enemies right the hell now, Thorns might not be the best choice.
  • While his Talent does deal a little Arts damage, it’s not really enough to eat through high-DEF enemies quickly. If facing a lot of extremely high-DEF targets, Thorns’ DPS will flag, which might make other Operators a more appealing choice.
Thorns poke .gif
"Enough chatter, get to the good part already!"

Thorns or SilverAsh?

This is the burning question that’s on everyone’s mind. Does Thorns finally unseat the legendary SilverAsh as the best Ranged Guard and as arguably the most broken unit in Arknights? Well… let’s just say it’s a close one and get right down to comparing them!

HP ATK DEF RES DP
Thorns (E2) 2612 741 472 10 20
SilverAsh (E2) 2560 763 447 10 20

Thorns vs SilverAsh

Here’s the thing: yes, Thorns and SilverAsh are both 6 Ranged Guards, and yes, they’re both broken. However, in terms of actually using them, they couldn’t be more different.

SilverAsh has two purposes: he reveals stealthed enemies, and he schwing-schwings enormous burst damage to destroy a single wave of enemies. Remember how the one thing Thorns can’t do is burst damage?

Thorns has one purpose. He charges Supreme Arts, awakens into a pseudo-Sniper, and rains consistent DPS down on everything that crosses his path for the rest of the fight.

(Both of them are also shockingly durable if they’re using their S2s, but nobody really uses them for that unless they have to. Anyway, they’re on pretty equal footing there, so we’re going to ignore it for the purposes of this comparison.)

SilverAsh is focused entirely on burst damage; between Truesilver Slashes, his DPS is pretty unimpressive. Thorns is focused entirely on consistent DPS; he has no sources of burst damage whatsoever. They fill different niches and are used for completely different challenges.

So which one is better? Sorry to give you the cop-out answer, but it depends on what other Operators you have and what the stage calls for. If you already have other strong burst-damage Operators like Schwarz and Ch’en, then Thorns is more valuable. If you’ve been focusing on sustained DPS from Operators like Ifrit and Blaze, then SilverAsh is instead. And if you have both, well, SilverAsh will be stronger on some stages and Thorns on other ones. What can we say? Ranged Guards are just a strong archetype overall, and these are two sterling examples of why.

Thorns deploy .gif
Thorns has the bigger sword, though. Draw your own conclusions.

In Conclusion (TL;DR)

Thorns is incredibly powerful and fills a very different niche from SilverAsh. His specialty is high, reliable, sustained damage, and there’s no question that he goes all-out in delivering on this strategy! He’s got Protective Spikes for backup, Nerve Corrosion to take care of pesky ranged enemies, and the ultimate Annihilation Mode tool in Supreme Arts… plus, he’s a very attractive husbando to boot.

If you’re planning to pull for Thorns, then we at GamePress wish you gallons of seawater luck in the pursuit of this spiky, wacky, memetastic sea urchin!

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About the Author(s)

A 4★ Supporter Operator with the "Writer" tag. Loves creative writing, all forms of editing, video game design, and badgers.

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