Standard Banner: Goldenglow & Aak
The new Standard Banner features the following Operators:
Should You Pull?
Probably not, but mostly because of timing.
This is actually a decent Standard banner. Goldenglow is very versatile and Aak is a powerful buffer (as long as your Operators can survive his shots). The 5★s range from “outclassed but usable” to “powerful in her niche” to “still strong.” It’s not a perfect Standard banner, but it’s still pretty good.
Despite this, it’s probably better to put your resources into the Great Axe and Pen Nib banner while it’s here, and even stronger banners like Never Vowed and Chop the Thorns are around the corner. Keep that in mind before you commit to this Standard.
As with all banners, a 5★ or higher Operator is guaranteed in the first 10 rolls. Should you pull for that? Maybe, especially if you don’t already have Goldenglow. A 10-pull is not a huge investment (as long as “Great Axe and Pen Nib” didn’t drain you dry, at least) for a chance at some potentially useful Operators.
+ The first Caster who rivals Eyjafjalla in damage (and may surpass her in utility, depending on the situation)
+ E1 Talent gives her drones a chance to explode while her Skills are active, dealing terrific AoE damage
+ E2 Talent gives her flat RES reduction, helping to make up for her low base ATK
+ S2 is a permanent Skill, meaning her Talent always has a chance to trigger after it activates
+ S3 gives her two extra drones and infinite range, as well as an ATK buff and the usual chance to activate her Talent, making it very powerful and very versatile
= Goldenglow herself does not attack during S3, but having three drones for the duration tends to make up for this
- Low base ATK
- Her drones reassess their targeting after they explode, which can result in the drones losing their “damage increases the longer you attack the same target” buff (especially with S3’s infinite range)
+ Functions as ranged Physical DPS while providing powerful buffs and (erratic) crowd control
+ S2 and S3 buff Aak as well as the closest ally in front of Aak (two buffs for the price of one!)
+ S2: Powerful defensive buff
+ S3: Powerful offensive buff (a lot stronger than it sounds due to the ASPD increase)
+ Even if he kills an ally with S2 or S3, at least he still gets the buff.
= …wait, what??
- When he applies his S2 or S3 to an ally, he does it by SHOOTING THEM FIFTEEN TIMES, and a lot of Operators (especially ranged Operators) can’t actually survive this!
- The random nature of his Talent means you can’t depend on its effects
- Constantly loses HP as part of his Trait; his Talent can heal him, but you may still need a dedicated healer to keep him alive (and BE CAREFUL where you place that healer if Aak’s using S2 or S3!)
+ Usual archetype strengths: Wider attack range than most Sniper archetypes, high base ATK, prioritizes low-DEF enemies
+ Her Talent deals bonus damage to ranged enemies
+ S1 is a rare defensive Sniper Skill that makes her Invisible (not targetable and doesn't take damage) with great uptime; it's perfect for safely taking out ranged threats from otherwise-vulnerable positions
+ Massive AoE and ST burst damage potential with her S2
= Strong for specific use cases, but those cases are not common, and she's not as great for general use
- Usual archetype weaknesses: Slow attack speed hampers her DPS despite her high ATK
- S2 is slow to charge (though her Module helps with this)
- Getting maximum damage out of S2 takes luck, planning, and Mastery
+ S1 puts enemies to Sleep (cannot act but also cannot take damage); good for stalling or for Sleep strategies
= Talent (chance to refund part of her SP cost when a Skill finishes) can greatly reduce her Skill charge time, but it is inconsistent
= S2 is a strong AoE ATK buff, but as an Inspire buff, it competes with other Bard Supporters like Skadi the Corrupting Heart or Heidi
- Usual archetype weaknesses: Has no damage potential whatsoever; limited attack range makes it difficult to deploy her on some maps
- Skills have high SP costs if her Talent doesn’t trigger, especially S1
+ Usual archetype strengths: Multi-target attacks that hit a number of enemies equal to Block count
+ One of the very few Operators who can escape death multiple times on a single deployment
+ Talent recovers her HP over time (very powerful combined with her S2)
+ S2 gives her a massive ATK buff and prevents her HP from falling below 1, allowing her to absorb an infinite amount of damage for the duration
+ S2 has very high Initial SP (especially at M3), allowing her to use it as a heli-drop
= S2 self-Stuns her when it wears off; this can allow enemies to walk right past her, but it can also save her life by giving her Talent (or an allied healer) time to recover her HP
- Usual archetype weakness: Must be E2’d to increase her Block count (and thus her number of targeted enemies) to 3
- S2 has a short duration, so it must be timed very carefully, especially because of the self-Stun afterwards
Goldenglow, the youngest of six siblings, has had to make the best of multiple bad situations. Her father died, her job got her Infected, and her family can’t afford to take care of her, so she came to Rhodes Island to become a hairdresser. Considering what an incredible Caster she is, however, she must be sending money back home hand over fist. Armed with a set of explosive lightning crystals and the ability to send them out at infinite range, Goldenglow’s past may be sad, but her future is bright indeed.
Goldenglow is the first Caster to provide serious competition for Eyjafjalla, although you’d never think it from looking at her low base ATK stat. Goldenglow is a Mech-Accord Caster, and her crystal drones (yes, she can have more than one) have a chance to explode while her Skills are active. These explosions are where the majority of Goldenglow’s damage comes from.
Her S2 gives her terrific sustained DPS, being an infinite-duration Skill with unlimited potential for drone explosions. Her S3 is renowned for giving her infinite range, allowing her to zap enemies from any position. With the flat RES ignore on her E2 Talent and the enormous damage modifier on her crystal explosions, Goldenglow doesn’t need high ATK to chew through an entire map of enemies.
I recommend pulling for Goldenglow.
Aak is a powerful unit, but he’s also difficult to use. His S2 and S3 grant enormous buffs, but both Skills also inflict 15 attacks at 500 ATK power on the poor ally receiving them. For this reason, Aak is something of a “win-more” button. He doesn’t buff weak Operators into being strong enough to compete; he buffs strong Operators so they become even stronger.
To maximize Aak’s performance, it’s important to have sturdy DPS units or Operators that can increase the survivability of other units. Operators like Shining or Nian can help more fragile allies endure Aak’s assault, allowing him to work with a wider range of units in a wider range of situations.
It’s also worth remembering that Aak is a decent ranged DPS and crowd control unit in his own right, especially with S1. This comes in especially handy on Challenges or CC stages where Snipers are banned but you still have a bunch of drones to kill, or when Supporters are banned but you still need crowd control.
I don’t recommend pulling for Aak unless you like to min-max your buff usage or you have ridiculous, off-the-wall strategies in mind for him.
Firewatch is great fun to use because of her S2, which drops multiple warheads onto the field for big explosions and even bigger damage. If luck drops the bombs close enough to each other, the multiple blasts can rack up mindboggling damage on their targets! And while her S1 is visually overshadowed by her tactical air strikes, it’s a rare defensive-oriented Sniper skill that makes her Invisible (meaning she can't be targeted by enemies nor take damage from them, even splash damage). With S1, Firewatch can be deployed in vulnerable places to take down high-threat ranged enemies safely, which can be a very valuable service.
In specific situations where her eclectic abilities shine, Firewatch can be a great Operator. For more general use, however, Firewatch isn’t always as effective. Her regular attack hits hard, especially on ranged enemies (her Talent increases her damage against ranged enemies), but her ASPD is so slow that it neuters her DPS into the ground.
I don’t recommend pulling for Firewatch, but she can be a useful tactical option if you pull her.
Sora, the original Bard Supporter, used to be renowned for her S2, which grants a percentage of her ATK to allies within her range as an Inspire buff. However, with the release of limited and welfare Bard Supporters who have more powerful Inspire abilities, Sora’s S2 has fallen off in popularity—not a good look for an idol singer who depends on popular opinion.
Luckily, Sora’s S1 has actually become more useful as time has passed. Sora’s S1—which puts all enemies over a wide range to Sleep—was originally just a stalling technique, since Sleeping enemies cannot be attacked by most Operators. But now that there are Operators and strategies focused around keeping enemies asleep for prolonged periods, Sora’s S1 can add to your Sleep cycles (or should we say REM cycles?). The Skill’s large SP cost and her inconsistent Talent can make the timing a bit tricky, but once you get the rhythm down, Sora’s song can sweep the critics off their feet.
I don’t recommend pulling for Sora unless you really like Sleep strategies.
Specter is the Undying Operator, able to laugh in the face of death for several seconds at a time with the boundless power of her S2. Once her S2 is activated, Specter can withstand any amount of damage without falling below 1 HP, cackling madly as she drives her buzzsaw-on-a-stick into the soft, squishy bodies of her enemies. Did we also mention the massive, bloody ATK buff she gets? We might have forgotten amidst the carnage.
The tricky part is, once S2’s duration expires, Specter becomes Stunned for several seconds. Poor timing can result in Specter falling unconscious just in time to let several enemies past her. However, there’s a silver lining to the self-Stun as well: if you used Specter’s S2 to absorb a lot of damage, she’s probably at 1 HP, so taking any hit would force her off the field. Becoming Stunned gives her a chance to avoid melee damage so an ally Medic or her self-healing Talent can get her back into fighting shape instead. It’s pretty insane. Just like Specter.
I recommend pulling for Specter.