Arknights: What Happened to Siege?

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Siege is a popular 6Pioneer Vanguard, the first one of her rarity to be released and one of the 6 available on the Newbie Banner. Perhaps unsurprisingly for such an old unit, her usage has decreased significantly in recent times, to the point where many endgame players prefer using the 5★ Pioneer Vanguard Texas (who is now a free unit) instead. But why is that?

In this article we will explore why Siege is not as impressive as she used to be, why that came to be, and what the future might hold for her. Let’s get into it!

What is a Vanguard?

Let’s start off with a very easy question: what, exactly, is the role of a Vanguard? With the exception of 2Yato, Vanguards are designed to be cheap to deploy units that are used early in a stage to produce Deployment Points to enable faster deployment of stronger, more DP expensive units. They will often be required to hold lanes early on before eventually being retreated and replaced. Siege absolutely does this job and she does it fairly well.

But that, in itself, may be the real issue. From this basic blueprint we branch into more specialized kinds of Vanguards: from the DP-printing kings of the Standard Bearer archetype, to the absolute killing machines of the Charger Vanguards (and whatever Beanstalk is, I suppose). These archetypes do their specialized jobs far better than Siege can do either of them at once, making her more of a “generalist”. She loses in Average DPS to the 4★ Charger Vigna unless she cripples her DP generation entirely by using her third skill; Skull Breaker (which generates no DP at all), and she gets crushed in DP Generation speed by everyone’s low rarity darling, 4Standard Bearer Myrtle. Siege’s strength is in providing a balance of both an attacking/blocking presence + DP generation, rather than maximizing either one.

Vigna vs. Siege

Vigna S2 in Orange against Siege S2 in Blue. The 4★ wins by a landslide unless the latter constantly hits multiple enemies at once. (Average DPS)

DP Generation Graph.

Siege S2 also makes for a poor DP generation tool by itself, even if her charges pop the moment they are ready.

The Vanguard Meta

The true culprit behind Siege’s fall from grace, however, may be something else entirely. It’s the Vanguard meta itself. You would have undoubtedly noticed a massive shift in the meta landscape if you were a player during Bagpipe’s release. She revolutionized the Arknights early game metagame with her insane Initial SP talent, which enabled warp-speed starts from other Vanguards, and her impressive burst damage.

A Vanguard was a unit you were supposed to use to hold lanes early on when the enemies are softer and weaker while producing some DP themselves, a unit you were supposed to replace as soon as possible in favor of stronger ones. But Bagpipe changed this definition almost entirely, and with it, the presence of Siege in the meta. After all, what need do you have for a Pioneer to block and hold early enemies if Flagbearers + Bagpipe give you enough DP to deploy core Operators and cover multiple lanes before the initial enemies even arrive? What need do you have for a Pioneer when Bagpipe herself can hold a lane by dishing out enormous damage while blocking two enemies at a time and still generating DP?

Very quickly, Bagpipe + Standard Bearers became not only the most versatile option for opening stages, but also the most powerful and viable in the late parts of those same stages because of the ability to re-deploy Bagpipe as a burst DPS option (if you even retreat her at all). Thus, people started forgetting about Siege entirely  in favor of the new “flagpipe”-oriented meta. 

You might expect that other Pioneer Vanguards would have suffered the same fate as Siege.  And while that is true to some extent, as the pure role of a Pioneer got abandoned in favor of more effective strategies, people started looking at Siege’s Archetype competition with a different objective.

The Competition

The way this article has explained things so far may have led you to believe that Pioneers are just not viable for the current endgame, but a quick look at reality will show you that this is not correct. Some other Pioneers are doing just fine in the current meta, if not actually thriving. Why is that?

This all comes back to how simple Siege’s kit is: she generates DP, can take a punch, and hits decently hard. Meanwhile, other units of her same archetype can bring something new to whatever squad you put them in, letting them keep relevance even when the stages enter their final moments by supporting whichever units are actually doing the heavy lifting.

Texas, for example, has a reliable, AoE and decently long Stun she can cast on command with a nice chunk of Arts damage attached to it. This singular Stun ends up propelling her to the hardest reaches of content such as Contingency Contract, where those three measly seconds can mean the difference between a clear and a failure.

Saga , on the other hand, packs better damage, range and extra support features, notably her SP generating Crippled status effect. She can take advantage of this herself through usage of her second skill, Cleansing Evil, or let others take the kill for that nice surge of SP. Or she could just go with Fierce Glare instead, and hit multiple enemies at once with her extra range for pretty high amounts of damage while also feeding SP to whoever takes the kill. Not to mention her survival-oriented talent.

Saga vs. Siege S2

S2 Saga in Purple vs. S2 Siege in Blue. Saga manages to keep up almost perfectly (if not better) while sporting better range, skill control and extra support features. (Average DPS)

Saga vs. Siege S3

S3 Saga (Brown) vs. S3 Siege (Pink). Saga manages to out-DPS Siege until about 850 defense, but still has her extra range, target count and DP generation to compensate.

What Now?

It’s impossible to predict what future awaits Siege, but unless her Module somehow boosts her in such a way that she develops a niche over Saga and Flametail (both of whom will get their Module at the same time), things are looking kind of grim for her (perhaps grim enough that she’ll be the next Alter unit?)

If you are a newer player reading this because you pulled Siege on your newbie banner, don’t let the takeaway be that she’s a completely useless unit that you shouldn’t invest into. Siege’s combination of cheap DP cost and strong blocking and DPS make her a more-than-competent Vanguard for early game stages, especially for players with limited rosters. It isn’t until late/end game and as players obtain and develop the better alternatives that Siege’s shine starts to dim. New players will likely get a ton of mileage out of an E1 Siege, but promoting her to E2 is something players may find is not worth the costs. 

As a final note, it is good to keep in mind that, as with almost all 6 Stars in Arknights, showcases and high difficulty clears exist and can be done with Siege, so players who love or want to use her should certainly do so, but your overall meta-efficient development dollar is likely more efficiently spent elsewhere.

Siege E2 Art
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