Standard Banner: Saga & Mountain
The new Standard Banner features the following Operators:
Should You Pull?
This banner is almost a good investment, but it’s not quite good enough and it’s coming at a bad time. Saga is good and has a unique niche as an SP-generating Vanguard, but her main role is still DP generation and lower-rarity Vanguards can do that job just fine. Mountain is an excellent lane-holder, but at this point there are lots of other good options for laneholding as well.
If you don’t have Bagpipe (to enable Flagbearers) or any other strong laneholding options, this banner could be worth a little attention. However, there are multiple better limited banners around the corner that are much more important than this Standard banner is.
As with all banners, a 5★ or higher Operator is guaranteed in the first 10 rolls. Should you pull for that? Probably not. Blacknight is excellent, but Sesa is underwhelming and Tsukinogi is an Abjurer (which, sadly, tells you everything you need to know). The odds are not in your favor.
+ Talent 1 puts the "Critically Wounded" status on enemies that Saga would have killed, reducing them to 1 HP and making them impossible to block; the Wounded enemy will move through Saga and can be killed by a nearby ally; when a Wounded enemy is killed, the Operator who dealt the final blow gains SP
+ Talent 2 gives Saga some healing and Physical Dodge the first time she drops below 40% HP
+ S2 deals damage to enemies in a cross pattern from Saga’s position and executes Wounded enemies (this is the only way Saga can kill Wounded enemies by herself); the Skill immediately generates DP and can hold multiple charges
+ S3 massively increases Saga’s damage, allows her to perform bonus attacks on low-health targets (making it easy for her to Wound them), and generates DP over the duration
- If Saga is placed too close to an exit, a fast-moving enemy (i.e., Wolves) might be able to get past her and enter your base, even while Critically Wounded
- It can be tricky to make sure Saga defeats the enemy (so it becomes an SP battery) while still having another Operator in range to get the SP before the Critically Wounded enemy dies on its own
- S3 has low uptime
+ Usual archetype strengths: Low DP cost, fast ASPD
+ Between his Talents and his S2, he’s great at holding a lane by himself
+ Gets critical hits from Talent 1
+ Both Talents give him extra survivability (an enemy ATK debuff from Talent 1, bonus DEF and Physical Dodge from Talent 2)
+ All three of his Skills can hit multiple enemies, helping to keep large numbers of weak enemies under control
+ In addition to offensive buffs, S2 reduces his DEF in exchange for HP regen; since Mountain has low DEF but high HP, this is a good trade for him
+ S3 has surprisingly high burst damage and Pushes enemies away—he can Push enemies into pits or just Push them away to interrupt enemy attacks
= Can switch between Block-1 (default) and Block-2 (using S2), with the advantages and disadvantages of each
- Usual archetype weaknesses—has trouble damaging high-DEF enemies and can be too squishy to duel enemies with really high DPS—but he suffers less from them than other members of his archetype
- S2 charges very quickly, but it does need to charge, so you may not be able to change his Block count as soon as you would like
+ Usual archetype strengths: Cheap DP cost, high base RES, Arts-based attacks, and a wide attack range
+ Buffs allies in her attack range with Shelter (take reduced damage) when they are low on HP
+ S1 grants Physical and Arts Dodge and reveals stealthed enemies within range
+ S2 greatly increases the effects of her Talent and grants HP regeneration to allies within her attack range (helpful for healing Enmity Operators, Summoner minions, etc.)
= Heals allies while Skills are active; on the one hand, healing is more useful than her low Arts DPS, but on the other hand, healing allies actively works against her Talent’s Shelter buff, which only triggers at low HP
- Usual archetype weaknesses: Terrible base HP, ATK, and DEF
- Skills have poor uptime
- The HP requirement on her Shelter Talent means that it isn’t very helpful if A) your units are usually at high health or B) enemy DPS is so high that the Shelter activates too late to help
- Her defensive role doesn’t suit most typical Arknights strategies, and even if it did, there are other Operators with stronger defensive utility
+ Usual archetype strengths: Huge attack range, attacks deal splash damage
+ Increases the Physical damage dealt to all blocked enemies on the field from all Operators (Talent)
+ S2 debuffs enemy ASPD, which is especially effective against enemies who already attack slowly (i.e., Colossi)
- Usual archetype weaknesses: High DP cost, slow ASPD, reduced effectiveness against single targets or high-DEF targets, needs to be promoted to E2 for maximum attack range
- Notably lower DPS than fellow 5★ AoE Sniper Meteorite; inferior version of 6★ W, whom many Doctors pulled for heavily (because she is a limited Operator)
- Particularly fast enemies can run right past his slow-to-detonate S2 shots and avoid the damage/ debuff
+ Usual archetype strengths: Able to attack at range but also Block on the ground with her minion, which costs no DP to deploy and does not count against the unit limit for a map
+ Excellent synergy with other Sleep-inflicting Operators (she’s one of the core units for Sleep-focused strategies)
+ S1 puts Blacknight’s minion to Sleep; the minion recovers HP while asleep, and if attacked, it wakes up and gets a large ATK and ASPD buff for several seconds
+ S2 inflicts AoE Sleep and changes the minion’s attacks to Arts splash attacks that deal bonus damage to Sleeping targets
= As usual, Sleep can be a double-edged sword, since most Operators cannot attack Sleeping targets
- Usual archetype weaknesses: Lower DP generation rate than many other Vanguard archetypes, can only deploy her minion within her attack range
Saga’s weapons are relentless cheerfulness, a huge naginata, and the “Critically Wounded” status ailment, which turns enemies into SP batteries for Saga’s allies. With her S2, Saga can execute her SP batteries—sorry, I mean “her enemies”— by herself. With her S3, Saga amplifies her offensive prowess so she can Wound incoming targets even more effectively.
Vanguards are essential for just about any strategy on just about any map, but sometimes they can feel like deadweight once you’ve gotten all the DP you need to deploy your Operators. This is never a problem for Saga. Not only does she Block-2 and hit hard, but she brings one of the most valuable utility functions to the field: bonus SP for her allies. As long as there’s something for Saga to kill, she’s a useful utility character, even once your DP needs have been filled for the map.
I don’t recommend pulling for Saga, but she’s worth raising if you pull her.
Considering that Brawler Guards had been a long-running joke in the Arknights community, few people were expecting great things from Mountain when he came out. Mountain has smashed those expectations as thoroughly as he smashes skulls. Dueling, soloing, multi-target, Pushing… Mountain does it all.
Do you need an Operator to hold a lane solo? Mountain with S2. Do you need an Operator to duel a nasty Arts damage target? Mountain with S2. Do you need an Operator to grind through a horde of weak enemies quickly? Mountain with S2.
Do you need an Operator with Physical burst damage? Mountain with S3. Do you need an Operator to Push enemies from a ground tile? Mountain with S3. Do you have a big, slow enemy who could be juggled with some timely Pushing shenanigans? Mountain with S3.
I recommend pulling for or buying Mountain.
Tsukinogi sounds pretty good on paper. She grants a defensive Shelter buff to low-HP allies and directly heals them while her Skills are active. Her S1 reveals Stealthed enemies over a wide area and grants allies Physical/ Arts Dodge that might save their lives. Her S2 improves her Shelter buff and regenerates HP to all units within her attack range, allowing her to heal units that “Cannot be healed by allies,” like Musha Guards or summoned minions.
Unfortunately, Tsukinogi has terrible stats, her Shelter buff is very weak, and her Skills have poor uptime. Her low stats hold back her healing potential, and her healing is counterintuitive to her Shelter Talent, which only activates when allies are low on health (although the Shelter effect is so small that it barely matters). In the end, Tsukinogi is unlikely to save any Operator that you couldn’t have saved just by deploying a Medic next to them instead.
At present, Tsukinogi’s biggest claim to fame is the extremely niche utility of revealing Stealthed enemies from a ranged deployment spot. However, there are usually better ways to handle Stealthed enemies (i.e., SilverAsh, Scene, or just Blocking them).
I don’t recommend pulling for Tsukinogi.
Sesa is one of those units who looks fine in a vacuum. He’s a textbook example of his archetype: he benefits from a large attack range and high base ATK, but he suffers from high DP cost and slow ASPD. He’s great for wiping out hordes of weak enemies that might otherwise overrun your defenses, and he even has some tasty utility with his S2, which adds an ASPD debuff to his attacks for the duration. Debuffing ASPD can dramatically reduce enemy damage output, especially if stacked with ATK debuffs like Shamare’s Cursed Doll.
The problem is that Sesa is part of a relatively weak archetype that still has multiple Operators who are stronger than he is. Fellow 5★ Meteorite has higher DPS thanks to her crit chance Talent, and her S1 expands the radius of her splash damage, which makes her better at the whole “AoE” thing. Meanwhile, 6★ AoE Sniper W is hugely popular and also a limited unit, meaning lots of Doctors pulled on her when given the chance. As a 6★, she is of course stronger than Sesa, which means any Doctor who successfully pulled W probably doesn’t have much reason to pull for Sesa now.
If AoE Snipers as an archetype were more widely used, there would be a compelling argument for raising the debuffing Sesa in addition to Meteorite and/or W. However, since AoE Snipers are a niche group in the first place, it’s hard to justify raising Sesa if you already have one of his superiors.
I don’t recommend pulling for Sesa.
Blacknight is a mercenary and the answer to every insomniac’s prayers. She travels with a “Wasteland Long-snouted Slumberfoot,” an adorable mythological tapir with the power to make people fall instantly asleep. Blacknight commands this power in various ways—she may give her Slumberfoot a healing nap, or she may put her enemies to Sleep so the Slumberfoot can feed on their dreams. Violently.
Blacknight is a capable Vanguard on her own. Her DP generation is lower than most Vanguard archetypes, but still respectable, and her combination of ranged damage and an infinitely-respawning minion make her very versatile. However, where she really shines is the application of Sleep. Because it holds multiple charges, Blacknight’s S2 is very spammable, allowing her to chain-Sleep multiple targets and deal substantial Arts damage to them while they doze. Paired up with units like Blemishine (who can attack Sleeping enemies) and/or Kafka (who can also inflict Sleep while Blacknight is charging her S2), Blacknight enables strategies where you tear apart difficult enemies without ever taking a hit in return.
It goes without saying that Blacknight’s value drops dramatically when enemies are immune to Sleep. It can also be tricky to apply her Sleep to enemies with damaging auras or long-range attacks, as enemies must be adjacent to Blacknight’s Slumberfoot before S2 will work on them. These limitations aside, Blacknight combines DP generation, decent damage output, an easily renewable Blocker, and terrific stall capability into one fierce package. Her good reputation as a mercenary is certainly well-deserved.
I recommend pulling for Blacknight, especially if you like Sleep-focused strategies. This is not the best banner to pull for her, though.