The 6* Agent has arrived. Agent Vanguards at their core have always been powerful. They combined the specialties of Executor Specialists and the DP generation speed of Standard-Bearer Vanguards. With that combination, they are prevalent in any phase of a map: early phase for DP generation and late phase for helidrop assassination. Cantabile and Puzzle both missed just a bit to be prevalent in both phases, but Ines, with her 6* stats and even more utilities, truly broke what we knew of Vanguards, sits comfortably half a tier below the broken tier of units like Młynar, Texas2, Yato2… and relegates Bagpipe to merely a supporting position.
Btw sorry for being late, had to upload this post on Internet Explorer.
Ines is the first 6* Agent Vanguard. Agent Vanguards generate DP when attacking. Because of their fast attack rate and decent damage, they can replace either a Standard-Bearer or be the laneholder. With Standard-Bearer level of DP generation, long duration Bind, movement speed reduction that bypasses invincible, invisible reveal, invisible, relatively high damage, large range, ATK/ASPD steal, and an off-field presence, Ines is here to show you what role compression truly means.
Agent Vanguards, being designed for combat, have high offensive stats compared to their Vanguard family. They lose only to Chargers, who are usually designed with primarily damage in mind. Ines being a 6* also means she’ll get even higher stats.
Agents also attack once per second, like pretty much most Vanguards except for Standard-Bearers.
Their defensive stats are a bit off on the other hand.
They have the second highest HP of all Vanguards, tied with Pioneers (just a smidge lower to be precise, so technically third highest) and lose to Chargers.
However, they have the second lowest DEF. Ines loses to pretty much anyone other than the Tacticians, the 2*s, the 3*s, Scavenger, and the lower rarity Agents.
Thankfully it doesn’t matter too much, but that’s for her talents and skills.
Agents’ DP costs are absurdly low. For example, Cantabile, a 5*, has the same cost as Myrtle, a 4* (part of the reason why she can beat Myrtle). Unfortunately, Ines is a 6* so she gets 1 more DP cost than the 5*, slightly reducing this advantage. Starting at 9 DP cost, she ends up with 11 from E1 onward.
Range, Trait, Talent
Agents’ range is longer than most melee units in general.
This range is very good for what they are designed to do, combat-oriented DP generation. It also allows them to safely attack from afar or reach and kill enemies before they approach the Agent.
Ines, however, gets even more range with her skills.
Has reduced Redeployment Time, and can use ranged attacks.
Agents’ redeployment time is 35 seconds, half of the regular redeployment time of most operators.
The “can use ranged attack” is meant to imply their longer-than-usual range, but it also means that they are capable of attacking aerial units. It’s the same as Sentinel Defender “attacks from long range” and Lord Guard “can launch ranged attacks”. Now that still doesn’t explain Tachanka’s capability of hitting aerial units but it’s a trend.
First talent: Shadow Weaver
Available at E1: the first hit on each enemy Bind the target for 3 seconds and [Steal] 50 ATK from them. (Effect expires when enemy is defeated or Ines retreats)
At E2, the Bind duration increased to 5 seconds, and ATK Steal increased to 90.
Potential 5 increases the ATK Steal by 10, to 60 or 100.
This talent is deceptively powerful. Both of its aspects sounds fairly average at first glance.
The Bind stops the enemy from advancing, you know, usual Bind stuff. But it lasts 5 seconds, that’s a fairly long duration for an effect that can be achieved as soon as Ines is deployed.
And it works per deployment, not once per enemy. That is to say, she can also deploy, bind someone, retreat, and deploy again a bit later and still bind that same enemy again.
Furthermore, very few in the game are inherently immune to Bind… Only Kristen phase 1, Rathalos, and IS#4 ending 2 boss during his skill. That's 3 bosses within 4.5 years of Arknights, and only 1 of them is immune to bind unconditionally. There's of course also some CC risks that gives Bind immunity but you can just not pick them, and there were only 2 of it so far.
So it works if you want her to do constant fighting because she will constantly bind new enemies entering her range, and still work as an assassin with added crowd control even if the enemy survived her first attempt. It’s quite a powerful effect for her and her team. This is easily Ines’ strongest aspect, and it’s innately given to her.
The ATK Steal is a little weaker. 90 ATK Steal is still a decent amount though. The Steal is permanent as long as Ines and the target is still alive and has no limit on Ines. When you consider it, 90 ATK Steal is both +90 ATK and effectively +90 DEF (and some amount of RES). 90 ATK is also a fairly decent amount to most enemies, especially for early mobs making Ines less reliant on sustain. And it is also a fairly decent amount relative to Ines’ base attack of 639. Speaking of base attack, the ATK steal is in essence just Inspire buff, a flat addition in the end after all the other attack buffs, and is calculated before attack scales (think of Firewatch S2).
Do note that both the Bind and ATK Steal is only applied on attacks that actually damage an enemy. So if there is an enemy that dodges the attack (or shield, etc.), Ines won’t Bind nor Steal. Basically, it's the first time Ines damages an enemy, rather than making a hit. This also has the consequence of being unable to Steal ATK from Stainless’ Device as it is immune to damage, which also applies to Muelsyse’s melee clone.
Second talent: Shadow Sentry
Available at E2: Enemies within attack range lose invisibility and have -30% movement speed. After retreating, Ines leaves behind a Shadow Sentry with the same effect (max 1).
This talent is also deceptively powerful. Not only that it is another nail in SA’s coffin, it also slows for 30%. That is a fairly significant amount. This slow is a field-effect, meaning it bypasses invisibility (not because of the other effect), and invincibility as well. There is only one other effect like this in the game, belonging to Mostima.
For a recent example, Ines and Mostima can slow down unidentified Episode 12’s civilians, meaning you’ll have a lot of time scanning them without needing to block them as much. You might have also seen a couple CC#12 videos where Mostima slows down ‘Hateful Avenger’ while he is invincible, Ines will also be able to do that (just with 30% instead of 90%).
This slow is a Movement Speed reduction, meaning no enemy is immune to it.
The Shadow Sentry does not take a tile. You can place the Sentry and then place another operator on top of it and nothing is wrong with that.
You can then still deploy Ines in a different place, and the Shadow Sentry remains in the old place until Ines is retreated for the second time, where it then switches to that new spot.
The Sentry has the same range as Ines, 2 tiles ahead of itself. It doesn’t change range if Ines changes her own range though.
The Sentry can slow and reveal aerial enemies.
This means that Ines has the ability to slow 2 places at the same time, reveal invisible in 2 places at the same time, or slow and reveal without taking a deployment slot. Even with SA’s expanded range on S3, it still won’t match the ability to selectively reveal 2 areas that also slow, or just simply revealing without taking a deployment slot. Suck it SA.
Fun fact, apparently the Sentry actually is not a permanent effect, but only lasts 3600 seconds.
With just these 2 talents alone,Ines is already a very powerful asset to most teams. Ines brings absurd crowd control along with the versatility that being a “fast” redeploy gives. Did I mention that she’s a Vanguard with a Standard-Bearer-tier DP generation? And that her skills are also pretty strong along with these talents?
Always available – Personnel Managements β: When this Operator is assigned to the HR Office, HR contacting speed +35%
Available at E2 – Shadow Gathering: When this Operator is assigned to the Reception Room, Clue search speed increases by 20%, then by another 2% per hour, up to a maximum of 30%.
The Office skill is worse than the “free” operators Ethan and Orchid at 40%.
But the Clue search skill is pretty good. It’s the highest clue search without any negative condition attached (you know, other than wait 5 hours). It’s higher (on average) than Vigil and Ch’en at 25%. There’s also some other clue speed attached to rarity and other tidbits but that’s not important. It’s pretty good for a clue search skill basically. However, friend credits on the whole are very low value, so her base skill isn't anything more than a nice extra. (How many times have you gotten just a bunch of expedite plans and furniture parts in the shop?)
Stats at level 7
The next attack deals 55% Arts damage per second to the target for 3 seconds (does not stack), gains 2 DP.
Instant attack, 3 SP cost, 0 initial SP
Offensive Recovery, auto activation
M3 gives 80% Arts damage per second, and 3 initial SP.
This skill’s DoT part does not trigger Defensive Recovery skill. So unless there are future enemies with Defensive Recovery, this is only to prevent Ines from pairing with Stainless. And I straight up don’t know why they prevent that. It’s not great even if it works. It still trigger IS#2’s Big Sad Lock and Singer special ability anyway.
When attacking constantly, Ines can generate 2 DP every 4 seconds which is 0.5 DP/s average. Elysium can generate 0.54 DP/s on average, which sounds great for this skill. But not really, needing constant attack aside, the combat ability is not that good and it can’t give a big DP rush like Elysium can, so it’s very lackluster for both combat and early phase DP generation.
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Other than AFK clear, never.
In fact, even Puzzle would do the Agent AFK DP generation better. He also generates 0.5 DP/s, but he has talent to speed it up with every new enemy spawn with the extra SP, making up for any lost time from not attacking. Of course he lacks the massive utilities that Ines has, but those talents are better used with her other skills. Puzzle also generates a lot more DP when combined with Stainless, so it is just solely her talent utilities that Ines holds over Puzzle in this AFK DP generation role.
Furthermore, if you want Arts damage from a Vanguard, Puzzle also does that much better with his S2 (or Blacknight’s Slumberfoot with S2, or Muelsyse with an Arts clone). There is really no reason to use this skill, other than AFK clear where you need a DP generator and a fighter in one package.
Stats at level 7
Expands attack range, ATK +80%, and gain Invisible; Attacks grants 1 DP and Steal 6 ASPD from the target (up to 60 ASPD, lasts until the skill ends or Ines retreat)
12 seconds duration, 24 SP cost, 15 initial SP
Auto Recovery, manual activation
M3 gives ATK +110%, Steal 7 ASPD, up to 70, and 20 SP cost
Unlike the ATK Steal of her talent, this ASPD Steal lasts until the skill ends or Ines is retreated. The enemies dying do not remove the ASPD stack.
If continuously attacking, she can make up to 17 attacks during the 12 second uptime, with the max ASPD stack happening on the 10th attack just before the 8 seconds mark.
Her Potential 4 increases her ASPD by 8, giving her 1 more attack during this skill for 18 total attacks instead, with the max stack happening slightly after the 7 seconds mark.
This is her new range with this skill:
Like Cantabile, Ines can also immediately activate S2 on deployment with Bagpipe in squad.
But if you used Cantabile with Bagpipe before, you’ll know that you can’t deploy Cantabile and immediately activate S2 without being targeted by ranged enemies. This is because there is a frame of gap between being invisible from deployment, and turning on skills to get the invisible effect. The same thing also happens here.
Aside from the obvious fact that (most) Area of Effect damage can’t affect Invisible while they can affect Camouflage, Ines’ invisibility is also different from Cantabile’s camouflage in the way that Camouflaged ally loses the effect if they are blocking, while Invisible ally does not. This was not important for ranged allies but it is for Heavyrain and Cantabile. Only the enemy blocked by the invisible ally can target them. And Ines only have 1 block, meaning only 1 enemy (and some skills/environment effects) can hurt her during this skill duration.
This is an amazing skill and is Ines’ main skill. No it’s not only because of the invisibility (if you read my Firewatch guide, you’ll know how much I love this status).
I mean, the invisibility is really good and is a major part of why this skill is so powerful. It allows her to attack and consequently generate DP without much fear of retaliation. But it also has extra range, 5 seconds bind, -30% movement speed, and the stats Steal. All of which also contributed to what make this skill so good.
She can safely perform this skill with the invisibility stopping ranged enemy attacking her. The bind, and the slow, prevents the enemy from approaching her during the skill. If the enemy did manage to get close to her, not only her invisibility does not wear off to other enemies around as I have said, but said enemy would also have lost up to 70 ASPD, meaning they cannot make many attacks to her until her skill ends.
It also deals a decent amount of damage. Not only does Ines have more stats than the 5* Agent Cantabile, this skill also gives more +ATK and +ASPD than Cantabile’s, and gives the same DP amount of 18 (kinda). Meaning Ines can handle even more types of enemies than Cantabile can. Cantabile’s only advantage is ammo skill, which can allow her to “hold” her Camouflage much longer, and technically she has a faster DP/s, but even then, Ines has a lower SP cost to counter that.
And speaking of SP cost, 20 SP cost is absurdly low. That’s a faster rotation than her redeployment time. And given that she’s also a decent “fast” redeploy assassin, it means that she can either remains on the field with this low downtime, or still just do the regular helidrop/assassination job.
The range expansion is also a good effect. It allows her to look for more enemies to generate DP and bind. While it does not expand her Sentry’s range, her second talent still works for her own range, so it is still a bigger area to slow and reveal.
Think of enemies like Crawler and Reaper (originally from Under Tides event). As Invisibility avoids their AoE effect, and blocking does not remove this invisible status, Ines is absolutely safe from being stunned by Nervous Impairment while also Binding and slowing the Reaper as well. For another example, Episode 12’s Drone that summons more spiky balls periodically. Or in IS#3 with Broodmother, she can use her invisible and get hit by 1 spiky ball but not losing her invisible, cutting off any future ball, while Cantabile need to kill the spiky ball fast or they will make another attack on her as she can’t keep her camouflage while blocking.
This safety combined with a relatively large range means she will almost always be able to do her full damage and DP generation
Stats at level 7
The first deployment costs 0 DP, places a Shadow Sentry on the field, retreats, and immediately refreshes her redeployment time.
After deployment, +120% ATK, immediately retrieves the Shadow Sentry and deals 140% physical damage up to 5 enemies it passed through; while active, gains 1 DP for each attack on an enemy.
13 seconds duration, 0 SP cost, 0 initial SP
M3 gives ATK +160%, Sentry deals 200% Physical damage up to 6 enemies, 16 seconds duration
How it works is that the very first deployment on a map, Ines costs 0 DP, is invincible, immune to status, imprisonment (cannot be relieve in SSS), unable to manual retreat, and instantly retreats after that deployment, placing down her Sentry.
In effect, this is a complicated way of saying she is allowed to place her Sentry immediately and for free. Then, every subsequent deployment, she drags the Sentry to her new deployment spot, dealing damage and Bind/Steal along the way.
It can drag the sentinel across the entire map, however it will only damage, and consequently Bind/Steal, the first 6 enemies it passed.
The Sentry when flying toward Ines has a movement speed of 10 (or 5 tiles per second) and a damage radius of 1.4 tiles. If Ines is deployed on the same tile, it can still damage enemies 1.4 tiles around her.
The Sentry also works with both of her talents. Meaning up to +540 ATK (or 600 if you’re rich) on deployment, 5 seconds bind, and can still hit invisible enemies.
The 200% damage is affected by her new ATK, including both the +160% ATK and the stolen ATK.
The Sentry also generates DP, meaning up to 6 DP just on deployment.
In SSS, Ines will go back to the deployment waiting zone after the first deployment (ready to be deployed instead of having to draw card again). If you deploy Ines the first time on someone else, all the buff stack will be gone because she technically “retreated”. You cannot place someone else on her during the animation of this first deployment (the “Imprisonment” effect I said above) to get a free Vanguard stack.
If Ines is somehow defeated/retreated before she completely fade into the shadow, the skill is canceled, she still costs 0 DP and you still have to do the first deployment again. This is only valid with force retreat effects that bypass invincibility though, i.e. FrostNova tile ban.
This skill is ultimately flashy while not being as good as her second skill. It does have several advantages but they all come with drawbacks.
In most cases, it is an instant 5 seconds Bind on deployment that also deals decent damage. Ines does get a lot of ATK with this skill to kill enemies that maybe her S2 couldn’t dent. The problem is that unlike S2, she is not guaranteed to do a full duration of her skill.
It is a great way to Bind and damage in 2 areas at once, amping up her global presence. But after the initial damage and bind, the secondary area no longer receives her support because the Sentry moved away. This is probably fine in many cases as Ines has a fairly low redeployment time, but that is debatable for some.
Which also leads to the fact that you have to carefully place Ines every deployment, both location and direction, to make use of this global presence while also keeping a good Sentry placement afterward.
To be fair, it is still a decent skill, it’s just not her second skill. And it also requires a certain level of game experience that a text guide like this can’t provide you.
Not available yet. Maybe check back after it was released
Ines is the strongest swiss army knife in Arknights right now. In virtually every stages, events, or gamemodes she will be able to contribute something for all players of all skill levels and of all prefered playstyles, with DP generation, high damage, and strong crowd control being the major contributors. This is all true whether or not you have Bagpipe.
S1 is a skip.
S2 has very good DP generation and damage, making it a great answer to both the early phase of a map where you need DP and the later phase when you just need more damage to finish it out. It can easily replace a Standard-Bearer because of the similar DP output and the fact that Ines continues to be relevant in the later phase with her massive amount of utilities and some decent damage, whereas more Standard-Bearer’s become dead weight after the early phase.
S3 is a little less powerful but can pay off if you make use of its advantages right, or mostly as instant damage plus Bind on deploy because Phantom hasn’t been powercrept enough already. It does has more damage than her second skill, though with far less utilities.
If you read the intro, you’ll see I made some statement that most of the playerbase would call “bold”. I did not say that lightly though, but to explain my take I’ll have to explain, or rather, convince you of some preliminary things first.
As I have said, Ines can generate a lot of DP as long as she’s fighting. This leads to the extremely common misconception of “but Agent can’t generate DP without enemies” as their downside when we’re talking about DP generation versus a Standard Bearer. But you see, if there are no enemies, what are you needing DP for?
On most stages, the DP constraints are low enough that you don’t need a Vanguard entirely. This means Ines is as useful, or as useless, as every other Vanguards. The downside of “not having enemies to attack” turned into “hey she’s as good as a laneholder until the harder enemies show up”. Again, the 5 seconds bind to first strike and the constant slow helps a lot in stopping enemies from reaching her, and the ATK Steal make it harder for the enemies to kill her.
If the enemies can overrun her, she can generate a lot of DP. If the enemies can’t, you have all the time in the world to deploy someone else. In order words, if the enemies can overrun her, she replaces Myrtle/Elysium. If the enemies can’t, she replaces Mountain/Thorns.
On harder stages, more specifically in places like high risk CC or high difficulty IS, even basic mobs are tanky enough for Ines to not kill in a hit or two. So of course she can generate DP, and her massive crowd-control potential remains useful here.
So, while “Agent needing enemies to generate DP” is a downside, it is a downside that is very easy to manage. It simply means you can’t just “haha skill go brrr” like you can with a Standard-Bearer… Unless you’re using Cantabile, just hold those ammo fam.
Before the next point, I do have to mention Ines’ half-reliance on Bagpipe’s talent. While 5 SP is a very short windup, as you might have seen with Specter1 and Surtr, instantly go invisible on deploy means a lot more safety for assassinating and helidropping. And as I have said in the S2 section, there is a frame of vulnerability when switching from being invisible on deploy to being invisible with her S2, that is easily fixable with a couple of ways like using her expanded S2 range, bait an attack animation with someone else, or just simply take 1 hit.
Finally, “relegate Bagpipe to a support position”. I don’t think anyone would doubt that Ines beat Bagpipe in DP generation. I have already argued that Agents can match Standard-Bearers in DP generation (more like just Ines and Cantabile). So between Bagpipe + Standard-Bearer and Bagpipe + Ines, the latter combo does far more and is more versatile over many different situations, with the only one come close to it is Bagpipe + Saileach. Hopefully you can agree with this after everything so far.
But then what about their DPS? Surely Bagpipe does more than Ines. Well about that. In most cases, Bagpipe does do a lot more DPS than Ines over their respective skill duration. And since “most cases” here refer to almost every story/event stages, a regular player will not see the difference and therefore will not see why would Bagpipe have to take a backseat for Ines. But the reason I said that, is what I have said in the S2 section and way back in my Firewatch guide: guaranteed damage.
Bagpipe’s main flaw nowadays is solely due to that 1 tile range she has (and I guess lack of aerial targeting?). She has to put herself in danger to fight, and if the +120% DEF she has is not enough, whether it is due to arts damage or just overwhelming physical damage, she is not going to deal much more damage when she died. Think of CC#12 Nameless Sanctuary, obviously she’s not going to deal with ‘Hateful Avenger’, but she’s not going to win against the normal hateful avenger (below 50% HP), and the Sarkaz claw bois either. Or in Episode 12, against the ‘Damazti Cluster’, if you deploy Bagpipe for some helidrop damage anywhere, she will be nuked by the global single target skill (called Derivative Iteration) by each of the Cluster, and pretty much instantly die from it when there are 3 clones around (mostly in H12-3 and H12-4). The Trillbys ignore her eventually. She can’t be deployed near the drones. Or in Lone Trail, while Kristen is somewhat fragile for a boss, she deals arts damage so Bagpipe will need help surviving. For an aside and unrelated notes, Vigil has the same DPS and total damage as Bagpipe, both having around 3k5 DPS and 65k total damage.
Even further, even before Ines, Bagpipe has already taken the supporting position. The prevalent of Standard-Bearers means a lot of people had already taken the mindset of “just Myrtle it, and instantly deploy the entire team” finishing the setup entirely. Maybe they’ll use Bagpipe for some early elite spawned before setup is complete.
On the other hand Ines, with her range, invisible, Bind, 30% slow, ATK and ASPD Steal, does not crumble to enemies easily. She is rarely targeted by ranged attacks, Binds and slows the enemies to prevent them from even approaching her, stealing ATK and ASPD so they can’t even hurt her or her allies much, and even if she dies or her skill ended, she leaves behind a slowing field, continuing to hinder the enemy. AND, she has half of Bagpipe’s redeployment time. Of course you can use both, and I did just say that Ines is half-reliant on Bagpipe’s talent. Even after the team is set, Ines can still dart around the map providing these utilities, something that Bagpipe can’t do.
But in the end, regardless if you agree about my take or not, I hope you can at least believe that Ines is one of the top 2 vanguards right now. The sheer utilities she can provide is immensely valuable to both new and veteran players alike.
Here are some video clears I guess:
7-5 Ines + Saga (the placement is a little funny)
H8-4 9 Vanguards (we've come a long way from needing 13 Vanguards)
And if you need some example on S3.
For the doubters who think needing enemies to generate DP is bad:
Annihilation 3 Lungmen Downtown Ines + Ling (only picture for now will update when video out)
Annihilation 11 South Prison Ines + Ifrit + Mizuki + Mudrock (guess where they place Ines)
There are also a subset of clear that Ines shine really well in, but it is ultimately a meme clear and is not an indicator of operator’s strength in general. These are “1 tile only no hit taken” clears, where the CN players got so bored that even normal “1 tile only” is not enough for them. They are pretty hilarious and is a still pretty good indicative of how stupid Ines' talents are though. Anyway, try to guess which tile they pick for these clear because some of them goes wild.
WD-EX-8 *CM* (guess the tile)
MN-8 (guess the tile)
So how did you feel about Ines? I really like her massive amount of utilities, and the proactive gameplay thanks to the lowered redeployment time makes her really fun to use. Anyway, thanks for reading.