List of Changes - July
Hila: Deer's Two-Piece - Tier 1
Mercedes: Unfussed Basker - Tier 5
Ashe: Fabled Sea Knight - Tier 2 (defense icon added)
Caspar: Summer Intensity - Tier 3
Leonie: Relentless Rays - Tier 2
Byleth: The Fódlan Star - Tier 1 (defense icon added)
Summer Freyja: Fleeting Summer - Tier 2
Summer Freyr: Estival Dreams - Tier 2 (defense icon added)
Summer Ogma: Blade on Leave - Tier 4
Summer Norne: Seaside Volunteer - Tier 3
Summer Caeda: Sea-Blossom Pair - Tier 1 (defense icon added)
Selena (Sacred Stones): Fluorspar - Tier 1 (From Tier 2)
Ingrid : Galatea's Heir - Tier 1 (from Tier 2)
Jill : Fiery Dracoknight - Tier 2 (from Tier 3)
Fjorm : Princess of Ice - Tier 2 (from Tier 3)
Gunnthrá : Voice of Dreams - Tier 2 (from Tier 3, defense icon added)
Resplendent Celica: Caring Princess - Tier 3 (from Tier 4)
Tsubasa : Madcap Idol - Tier 3 (from Tier 4, defense icon added)
Spring Catria : Spring Whitewing - Tier 3 (from Tier 5, defense icon added)
Legendary Robin (F) : Fell Vessel - Tier 3 (from Tier 5)
Legendary Lyn : Lady of the Wind - Tier 3 (from Tier 5)
Kris (M): Unknown Hero - Tier 2 (from Tier 1)
Kris (F): Unsung Hero - Tier 2 (from Tier 1)
Winter Sothis: Silver Specter - Tier 2 (from Tier 1)
Brave Claude: Almyra's King - Tier 2 (from Tier 1)
Bridal Micaiah: Dawn Wind's Duo - Tier 2 (from Tier 1)
Caineghis: Gallia's Lion King - Tier 2 (from Tier 1)
Annette : Overachiever - Tier 3 (from Tier 2)
Osian : Scolded Soldier - Tier 3 (from Tier 2)
Fallen Corrin (F) - Wailing Soul - Tier 3 (from Tier 2)
Alm: Hero of Prophecy - Tier 4 (from Tier 3)
Brave Alm: Imperial Ascent - Tier 4 (from Tier 3)
Say'ri : Chon'sin's Blade - Tier 4 (from Tier 3)
Resplendent Elincia : Lost Princess - Tier 4 (from Tier 3)
Resplendent Reinhardt: Thunder's Fist - Defense icon added
Legendary Sigurd: Fated Holy Knight - Defense icon added
Valentine's Alm : Lovebird Duo - Defense icon added
Fallen Dimitri: Savage Boar - Defense icon removed
Weapon Refinery & Remixes
Fallen Robin (M): Fell Reincarnation <TIER 3>
Outside of the weapon’s base effect, Expiration’s refinement is identical to Joshua’s. Unfortunately, this does not do much for Robin due to his relatively weak magical bulk. Being green also does Robin no favors due to red powerhouse units such as Legendary Sigurd, Legendary Lilina or Duo Lif. This is particularly unfortunate as he would also find it difficult to specifically focus on the ranged or melee matchups with the help of the Save skills.
Legendary Robin (F): Fell Vessel <TIER 3>
On top of sharing the same refine as Fallen Robin, Legendary Robin is also granted a remix boost in Dragonskin II, which gives Legendary Robin a much needed bump in stats. Her generalist stat distribution on top of lack of competitive skill access in her past makes her borderline painful to use. Nowadays, the stat steroids provided by both Expiration and Dragonskin II allows her to use skills such as Dragon’s Ire and Dragon Wall much more competitively. While there are still issues with guaranteed follow-ups, it could not be denied that Legendary Robin got significantly better than before.
Fjorm: Princess of Ice <TIER 2>
The main parallel that is drawn is Nowi; Fjorm trades the adaptive damage on ranged, magical damage on melee for 2 ATK, 4 DEF/RES in the enemy phase and no cooldown penalty. While the stats are much appreciated, adaptive damage is something that can be relatively difficult to weigh as it is largely matchup dependent. In the current state of the game as of the time of writing, Nowi hitting for magic damage could not be ignored due to most defensive teams prioritizing physical over magical bulk.
Fjorm does have the added benefit of Ice Mirror access, which could potentially be a game changer as defensive special’s damage reduction could not be negated. This opens up Fjorm to either stick to Shield Pulse for Turn 1 access, or damage reduction stacking with Close Call and having a cooldown support from either Velouria or Infantry Pulses. As such, we felt that Fjorm being placed in the same tier as Nowi is probably appropriate.
Gunnthrá : Voice of Dreams <TIER 2 (Defense)>
Blizzard’s refinement is simply the same as Grima’s Truth, which stacks along with her penalty damage boosting base effect. The developers also gave her what is essentially 4 ATK/SPD boost on the base effect. In short, Blizzard pretty much obliterates anyone without any form of debuff negation if the said unit is affected by debuffs. With that said, she is only placed to Tier 2 due to the prominence of debuff negation in plenty of units, however she would definitely be potent against opponents without an answer to debuffs.
Dorcas: Serene Warrior <TIER 4>
Dorcas’s stat distribution is not competitive due to his low RES and SPD, and his refinement does him no favour as it is simply a stat stick. Buff negation on foe is probably not very useful compared to the likes of stronger effects such as Null Follow-Up and debuff negation.
Spring Catria: Spring Whitewing <TIER 3 (Defense)>
Spring Catria’s Huginn Egg shares many similarities to Winter Bernadetta’s Hrist with a boost in ATK/SPD and a first attack damage reduction. In exchange of Hrist’s 1 damage within 2 spaces at the start of turn, Huginn Egg has what is essentially Chill ATK and Chill SPD on the weapon. The sole reason why Winter Bernadetta was considered in Tier 1 for defense was precisely due to the 1 damage effect, which enables heal traps such as Return, Rescue and more recently, Nudge. Winter Bernadetta’s colour is also largely superior considering the prominent offensive powerhouses being largely blue units, such as Brave Hector and Resplendent Micaiah.
Further considering that red units usually either have very high speed (which means Catria could still get followed-up) or complete side steps the damage reduction (Laslow and Winter Altina), Spring Catria is placed conservatively in Tier 3 for defense.
Gerome: Masked Rider <TIER 5>
If Gerome was a blue unit, he would at least have the niche of taking units such as Legendary Sigurd in 1 hit, allowing him to be a relatively passable frontline for a Far Save unit. Unfortunately that is not the case, and Gerome probably takes way too much damage from that role. Coupled with the usual complaints of low RES, low SPD and still terrible skill access, Gerome remains in Tier 5 despite the refinement.
Legendary Lyn : Lady of the Wind <TIER 3 (Defense)>
The boost in Laws of Sacae does provide Legendary Lyn a role as a pseudo-Firesweep unit against slot foes such as Brave Hector and Fallen Edelgard. This condition is also shared by Ingrid’s Luin, with the notable exception that Laws of Sacae only works against melee foes. However, the big difference was that Luin provided true damage on top of the pseudo-Firesweep, which could potentially chip down potential tanks. That is unfortunately not the case for Legendary Lyn, and she might struggle to do sufficient damage due to her outdated offensive spread. Regardless, with sufficient investment, Legendary Lyn should give any slow enemy-phase units a potential headache, hence she slots into Tier 3 for her potential in defense.
Cavalry and Flier weapon users (Sword, Lance, Axe) yet again got another skill after a very rough patch last year. As a skill that activates only in the player phase, Flow Refresh is predominantly going to see play in Aether Raids Defense. This is one area in which ranged counterparts were generally seen to be better, so this skill actually breathes some fresh air in the potential options for defensive contributions. Flow Refresh also has notable application in Hit and Run strategies for Offense, however Near Trace are probably more competitive in that regard.
We reviewed some of the melee cavalries and fliers that are predominantly used in Aether Raids Defense. Jill is also re-assessed as she finally obtains a Passive B that works well with her personal weapon (essentially Dive Bomb on an Axe).
- Ingrid : Galatea's Heir <TIER 1 (Defense)>
- Tsubasa : Madcap Idol <TIER 3 (Defense)>
- Jill : Fiery Dracoknight <TIER 2>
Bridal Micaiah: Dawn Wind's Duo <TIER 2>
Bridal Micaiah’s Duo Skill is game breaking only if she could press the button. Without the almighty button, Bridal Micaiah’s combat prowess leaves a lot to be desired due to being a flying mage, which locks her out of competitive skills such as Null C Disrupt and Null Follow-Up.
Caineghis: Gallia's Lion King <TIER 2>
Winter Sothis: Silver Specter <TIER 2>
While both Caineghis and Winter Sothis gained access to Save skills, they are mostly superseded by more competitive armors such as Brave Hector and Fallen Edelgard. Both of these units merely have a stat boosting weapon that is largely insufficient to be Tier 1 in the current meta.
Kris (M): Unknown Hero <TIER 2>
Kris (F): Unsung Hero <TIER 2>
Both are essentially sidegrades to Fjorm, except they are much speedier and have cooldown reduction. While some comparisons can also be made to Brave Hector with the cooldown reduction and debuff negation, Brave Hector also has access to Save skills, which brings another dimension to how Brave Hector could be used. The same could not be said for both Kris.
We will want to look at other units of similar archetype as both Kris in the next update, with more details at the end of the article.
Annette: Overachiever <TIER 3>
Valentine's Alm : Lovebird Duo <TIER 2 (Defense)>
Both of these axes are not doing enough to warrant their placement in Tier 2. This is especially troubling due to the prominence of inheritable axes such as Plegian Axe, which provides some parity between these 2 axe units and the generics such as Ninja Hana and Echidna. Valentine’s Alm still have some potential application in Aether Raids Defense due to Scepter of Love’s damage boost scaling from foe’s DEF and Lunar Flash, while Annette’s rally-based movement boost is probably too much of a hassle to shoehorn into the team in 2021.
Brave Claude: Almyra's King <TIER 2>
Osian: Scolded Soldier <TIER 3>
Say'ri: Chon'sin's Blade <TIER 4>
These units in particular are badly hurt by the introduction of Fatal Smoke. Claude’s whole scheme of healing half of his HP no longer applies, which relegates him back into the old squishy self. The impact on Osian and Say’ri are even more pronounced; inability to heal means losing the ability to Distant Counter, which bothers both Osian and Say’ri badly enough to consider them for a demotion
Selena (Sacred Stones): Fluorspar <TIER 1 (Defense)>
Legendary Sigurd: Fated Holy Knight<TIER 1 (Defense)>
We mentioned in the previous few articles that space control is increasingly prominent, and Selena having that extra movement becomes something that is a worthwhile advantage compared to Ishtar. Hence she is also bumped up to Tier 1.
As for Legendary Sigurd, while his offensive potential is still notable when combined with Near Trace, we are also rightfully criticised as Legendary Sigurd is much more obnoxious to deal with on defense. In other words, he broke the system.
Resplendent Alm: Hero of Prophecy <TIER 4>
Alm’s Falchion refine is no longer as cutting edge as it used to be, and his stat distribution are sub-par despite the Resplendent boosts.
Fallen Corrin (F): Wailing Soul <TIER 3>
Fallen Corrin (M): Bloodbound Beast <TIER 3>
The stat gained from both of Corrin’s weapons is no longer as competitive as it was originally released, and their originally competitive stat spread is superseded by more competitive infantry units. For the male variant, the Guard effect is superseded by stronger effects that are probably mentioned many times in this article.
Yarne : Timid Taguel <TIER 3>
As we do not have enough recoil-based skills to work with, Yarne’s HP condition might just be a little too tight to be a reliable Galeforce unit. This meant that Yarne mostly relies on taking a hit from the foe before activating Galeforce, which makes him pretty much the same as any Galeforce without any form of acceleration support.
Brave Alm: Imperial Ascent <TIER 4>
Please send help.
Generics are defined as units that do not have access to a unique weapon. As such, they will be tiered based on similar units from the current tier list placements. An explanation will be provided if required.
- Mercedes: Unfussed Basker <TIER 5>
- Caspar: Summer Intensity <TIER 3>
- Leonie: Relentless Rays <TIER 2>
- Summer Ogma: Blade on Leave <TIER 4>
- Summer Norne: Seaside Volunteer <TIER 3>
The infantry units of this batch are mainly differentiated by their defensive spread. Ogma’s skew towards DEF does him little to no favor in the current metagame, while Norne’s more even bulk is more manageable to use. While Caspar’s RES is also not great, he is rated more forgivingly due to more competitive inheritable options (most notably Plegian Axe).
Summer Hilda: Deer's Two-Piece <TIER 1>
Due to the prominence of Duo’s Hindrance on defense, the isolation on duo skill can only be treated as a bonus and not a centerpiece of her tiering. However, Hilda’s weapon can be considered a sidegrade to Brave Lucina’s by providing cooldown acceleration. The main difference between the 2 is that Brave Lucina does provide acceleration on both the unit’s and the foe’s attack, which only the latter is true for Hilda. This is relevant should players opt for higher cooldown specials. Hilda’s weapon does come with the added benefit of working with all unit types, while Lucina only works with physicals. We felt that placing Hilda on the same tier as Lucina is appropriate.
Summer Ashe: Fabled Sea Knight <TIER 2 (Defense)>
Summer Ashe essentially has Freyja’s Binding Necklace on his weapon, which makes more or less a stat stick with 3 movements. With the introduction of Flow Refresh as well, Ashe gained yet again another tool that he could use in the defensive context. His ability as a frontline however is somewhat superseded by the utilization of Armors with Save skills, which promotes the use of higher damaging alternatives such as Legendary Sigurd instead. While we do not think that simply being a stat stick is sufficient enough to set the meta alight, he will still be valuable as a mobile bruiser that is difficult to take down in the enemy phase.
Summer Freyja: Fleeting Summer <TIER 2 (Defense)>
Summer Freyja shares a lot of similarities with Summer Ashe due to having Binding Necklace and the offensive half of Null Follow Up similar to Flow Refresh on her weapon. The SPD-based damage reduction is also nice for Summer Freyja’s bulk in the defensive context. However, similar to Summer Ashe, the role is superseded by Save armors for the most part. Summer Freyja is also ideally used in a composition that is transformation conducive, which could be an issue depending on the set up.
Summer Freyr: Estival Dreams <TIER 2 (Defense)>
Essentially a more finicky Sigurd (the original one, not the Legendary), Freyr provides much of the same benefit as him with guaranteed follow-up and a substantial ATK boost on initiation. Freyr however also wants to be in a transformation friendly composition compared to Sigurd, and Sigurd in general is much more difficult to take down in the attacker’s player phase due to Sigurd’s damage reduction against magic. We currently slot Freyr in Tier 2, and we will be reviewing the other red cavalry melee units in the next update.
Summer Caeda: Sea-Blossom Pair <TIER 1 (Defense)>
Summer Caeda’s effectiveness against physical weaponries and armors is particularly great in the defensive context, as most of the prominent tanks fall into either of those categories, particularly Fallen Edelgard and Brave Hector. The main issue Summer Caeda faces would be her less than ideal bulk, which means that even with Flow Refresh, Summer Caeda is unlikely to be able to take a single hit from specials such as the usual Bonfire from Brave Hector or Fallen Edelgard. This could be somewhat remedied by either using ATK DEF boosting skills instead of her base ATK SPD Catch 4, or using Windsweep.
With that said, a single effective hit from Caeda still deals a large amount of damage on Summer Caeda despite the flaws stated above. We felt that Tier 1 on defense is probably the most appropriate.
Byleth: The Fódlan Star <TIER 1 (Defense)>
Byleth’s placement in Tier 1 for defense is relatively straightforward; Null Follow-Up on his weapon meant that Windsweep is always an option. Cooldown -1 and Time’s Pulse along with Sublime Heaven meant instant specials with the ability to pierce through damage reduction. The Drive Null Follow-Up is pretty much a cherry on top, as it is helpful against units that rely on guaranteed follow-up rather than speed, such as Fallen Morgan (M) and Pirate Tibarn.
One frequent point of discussion that consistently popped up in our discussion is whether we should be adjusting the units more aggressively due to the centralising nature of the Save skills. This applies to both Far and Near variants. The Save skills have pretty much redefined the role as an Armored unit and probably dragged even the most mediocre armored units into the spotlight. While we already adjusted some of what we believe to be the stronger choices for such skills (most notably Arden), the armored units on the lower tier probably deserve a second look with a fresh set of lenses.
Another area we are looking into is the godsword category. The space control meta does somewhat limit their offensive utility in the meta as it is potentially difficult for them to protect the backline from getting sniped. Nott and Seiros are both being an extremely common unit to deal with in the Dark and Anima season respectively, which means that it is a universal hit for pretty much all the red units.
We also wish to not go absolutely overboard with the reassessments stated above as the developers are fully capable in reversing all our changes by introducing a counterplay for the problems they introduced. We would discuss the above issues in more detail, and changes would be made if they are required.