List of Changes - September 1st
Geese: A Life at Sea has been placed in Tier 4
Brigid: Orgahil Pirate has been placed in Tier 3
Veronica: Harmonic Pirates has been placed in Tier 1
Tibarn: Shipless Pirate has been placed in Tier 1
Darros: Seawalker has been placed in Tier 4
Edelgard: Adrestian Emperor has been placed in Tier 1
Dimitri: King of Faerghus has been placed in Tier 1
Claude: Almyra's King has been placed in Tier 1
Lysithea: Earnest Seeker has been placed in Tier 2
Jorge: Traveling Peddler has been placed in Tier 3
Legion: Masked Maniac has been promoted to Tier 3 (from Tier 5)
Shiro: Raw Talent has been promoted to Tier 3 (from Tier 6)
Cecilia: Etrurian General has been promoted to Tier 5 (from Tier 6)
Rudolf: Emperor of Rigel has been promoted to Tier 1 (from Tier 2)
Anna: Wealth-Wisher has been promoted to Tier 3 (from Tier 4)
Naesala: Sky's Shadow has been promoted to Tier 3 (from Tier 4)
Cynthia: Hero Chaser has been promoted to Tier 5 (from Tier 6)
Sumia: Maid of Flowers has been promoted to Tier 5 (from Tier 6)
Anna: Secret Seller has been demoted to Tier 3 (from Tier 2)
Nino: Pious Mage has been demoted to Tier 3 (from Tier 2)
Tharja: Dark Shadow has been demoted to Tier 3 (from Tier 2)
Delthea: Tatarrah's Puppet has been demoted to Tier 4 (from Tier 3)
Cecilia - Tier 5
Triangle Adept effects in most circumstances are valued rather poorly. However, the very nature of Cecilia’s base weapon salvages the refinement somewhat due to the potential double value as a Raven Tome. Flier effectiveness could be useful with the recent resurgence of flier comps in defense maps, however counterplays are already available in the form of Ashnard and Young Minerva. Hel’s matchup against Cecilia is just about as good as any other mages due to her low Resistance.
In most traditional team composition, the Triangle Adept refine doubles down on both her strong and weak match-ups. Her neutral match-ups however, are a mixed bag due to her status as a Gen 1 Cavalry Unit; her low base stat total means that durability against other green mages (notably Thrasir) could be an issue. One possible solution to the above issue would be to use a Blue Cavalry mage (such as Ursula / Reinhardt) to snipe potential red threats first (such as Eliwood, Sothis or Seliph), and then look into closing out with Cecilia. However, this strategy can be rather unreliable at times if the opponent simply runs more than one red unit at a time.
In short, Cecilia’s refinement is decent. However, the disadvantages posed by Triangle Adept harms her consistency as the drawback can frequently be problematic; an issue which is further compounded by her lack of stats throughout the board.
Legion - Tier 3
Legion’s refinement is likely to be the most noteworthy of this batch. The base effect is similar to Fallen Ike’s Chaos Ragnell, but it follows the foe’s buffs instead of self debuffs. Of course, while that is unquestionably worse, the stat swing is still potentially huge. However, the main issue is not the potential, but rather the consistency; visible buffs are not the dominant strategy in defense maps due to the ever presence of Aversa or Panic Manor. The lack of visible buffs on the opposing end meant that the refine provides absolutely no stats, which is of course never a good thing. The base effect however, comes into play if there is a visible buff granted following a Refresh action, such as those of Mirabilis, Peony, or Legendary Azura, so it can be a good failsafe if he gets hit by a buffed enemy.
The additional refined effect is also notable; it provides an offensive boost and cooldown acceleration on hit (similar to Heavy Blade) as long as the foe has more than 75% HP. The most practical application being Galeforce for offensive reasons. This can be rather limiting at times however, as it locks out plays against a foe weakened by Bolt Tower.
Sneering Axe can be inconsistent to work with, however the potential reward is undeniably attractive. Legion himself is also in a good spot due to having a good SPD stat (along with the refined effect) and access to speed-based damage reduction skills such as Close Call. With consideration of the combination of these factors, we’re promoting Legion by several tiers for now.
Setsuna - Tier 5
The fate of a launch unit as a physical ranged unit can be pretty damning at times. Particularly since Gen 3 (January 2019), newer daggers and bows have a stat advantage over their magical counterparts. This is further widened by the stat increase over the years. Unless the unit’s personal weapon actually brought something new to the table (most notably Kagero), their weapon is merely playing catch-up against their modern counterparts.
Setsuna’s Yumi unfortunately falls into the latter category, as it is simply a giant stat-stick against ranged foes. While the debuff immunity for ATK and SPD could be useful against Mirabilis’s Whimsical Dream, that is potentially reversed by the bonus requirement, which is easily undone by a Panic. Furthermore, with the existence of Spendthrift Bow, any gap closed by Setsuna’s Yumi is widened once more when we consider a modern bow unit such as Norne with Spendthrift Bow.
Essentially, Setsuna’s tiering is very similar to Matthew’s; as a budget unit, she will definitely perform with the correct investments. However her ceiling is limited due to her subpar stat distributions.
Shiro - Tier 3
Shiro’s refinement isn’t exciting, but it is still worthy of a 5-star exclusive. Assuming Shiro’s ideal condition for Bright Naginata to work (Enemy Phase, within 2 spaces of an ally), he receives a +9 ATK/DEF boost along with debuff immunity. What could be useful is the latter condition, as it removes the need of soaking chills using your other units. This could potentially open up seal slots for further support, such as those of Drives or visible buffs. However, Shiro’s primary issues are not wholly addressed by this refinement. His RES is still mediocre, and his lack of SPD further compounds the problem due to inability to leverage damage reduction skills.
When compared to the competition, it is also difficult to justify investing in Shiro, as the other units with the same debuff negation mechanic do not have the same problems. Brunnya has good magical defenses, while also being a ranged unit for potentially more aggressive plays. Kris (F) has good speed as a lance unit, and has a further cooldown reduction on her Spear of Shadow, which offers a wider range of viable playstyles.
Ultimately, Shiro’s debuff negation is still a desirable effect and warrants a promotion from his existing tier as a result. Despite the flaws stated above, Bright Naginata provides Shiro a new lease of life, even if he is weaker than his competition.
New Skill Considerations
Dive Bomb is essentially a Desperation, except hinging on foe’s and unit’s HP to be higher than 80%. This allows a unit who wields this skill to repeatedly attack without risking retaliation. Unlike Desperation, only melee fliers are capable of using this said skill. The most straightforward use for such a skill would be with Galeforce strategies, however, that is not without opportunity cost; losing Wings of Mercy means that such a Galeforce strategy probably relies on running away from enemy range, which could be difficult to do with 2 movements without using Hit and Run / Drag Back. We decided to bump the remaining speedy lance fliers, as Curtains and Dive Bomb does allow some level of consistency that is undeserving of the lowest tier.
The big winner of the skill, however, is Naesala. He had the same 3 movements as the skill’s original wielder, which definitely opens Naesala for more possibilities when it comes to disengagement.
- Naesala to Tier 3.
- Sumia to Tier 5.
- Cynthia to Tier 5.
Flora Guide / Fox Tomes
For Flora Guide and Fox Tomes, we considered both to be more of a weapon specifically for Aether Raids Defense. Flora Guide inflicts a -5 SPD and RES in-combat debuff to foes within 2 spaces, while Fox Tomes (currently with only red ones available) inflicts -4 to all stats in combat. Flora Guide is more specific in terms of the debuffs, applies in the enemy phase, and has potential usage in terms of supporting allies (even if it is only affecting melee match-ups in most cases).
For both weapons (more so for Flora Guide), the issue arises when considering the current state of speed in 2020. Due to damage-reduction skills relying mostly on speed, this means that speed is desirable among many infantry heroes. Attempting to win speed checks for follow-ups is much more difficult than it used to be. As a result, older mages are very likely to struggle in terms of keeping up with the speed creep, and stacking attack is likely to yield more results for such mages.
The main point of reference is Lilina, where she is the poster child of a nuke with a strong focus in attack. Lilina also has Chill RES embedded into her weapon, which proves even more support utility for her magic allies. Considering this, we decided that modern mages with a strong speed stat are more likely to succeed to wield such tomes in Aether Raids defense. Unfortunately, most of the quick mages already have a preferred tome, with Linde being the only one having a mediocre weapon that requires attention. We also adjusted some of the tomes for consistency throughout the tier list.
- Fallen Delthea to Tier 4.
- Tailtiu to Tier 4.
With the increased prominence of Lull skills, skills that hinges on visible stats becomes an increasingly difficult proposition. This is largely due to the increased pool of units with Lull skills available for inheritance, and more opportunities to obtain the said fodder. The circumstances in which the blade tome is capable of sweeping the team is increasingly rare due to this reason. As such, the 2 most common Blade units, Tharja and Nino are adjusted due to this change. Moving forward, we will also address other units with similar mechanics.
- Nino to Tier 3.
- Tharja to Tier 3.
This skill is very similar to Tharja’s Hex, except it provides a -4 to ATK/SPD rather than -5. Debuffs based on ATK are likely to be more valuable, as they can be effective against both physical and magic threats. This skill being locked to fliers only does provide them a much needed boost in terms of skill accessibility.
However, one should also consider that the C slot is taken up by Pulse Smoke in most cases to tackle turn 1 specials due to Infantry Pulse. Should a player choose to use the Rein skills over Pulse Smoke, the support will have to accommodate for the lack of counterplay against Infantry Pulse by running Pulse Tie. We will look into adjusting units based on this in the near future.
Unity skills are a powerful upgrade to Bond skills, offering large boosts to two stats without the adjacency requirement. This lack of adjacency requirement is a huge advantage that Unity skills have over their Bond counterparts.
For melee units, Distant Counter is probably too much of an opportunity cost to handle. The same could not be said for ranged units, as the melee match-ups are currently less likely to be a threat at the time of writing. Units with Distant Counter weapons and ranged tanks are likely to be the best users of unity skills.
In concept, Unity skills are difficult to fault. However right now, ATK and DEF is not the most desirable combination of stats due to the higher prominence of ranged magical threats over melee ones. The SPD/RES, ATK/RES and ATK/SPD variant of the skills are likely to be more impactful.
The theme of this banner is Solo-based effects. It is worth noting that solo conditions are hard to enforce when controlled by AI, hence it would be difficult to leverage such weapons in AR-D. All the weapons introduced in this banner have some form of solo condition tagged onto the weapon. For melee generic weapons, lance archetypes receive the Flowing Lance, axe archetypes gain the Deck Swabber. These melee weapons are a more defensive option (reducing ATK is very valuable as it is both effective on magic or physical) and are worthy of consideration. The new bow, however, is not the best as there are already many offensive bows that provide effective ATK/SPD (Coral Bow, Bouquet Bow, to some extent Candlewax). As there are also personal weapons with similar effects to the weapons, the floor of many units has significantly raised. Adjustments would need to be made in the future regarding the availability of such weapons.
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. We also adjusted some of the placements of other potentially similar units in the tier list.
Geese - Tier 4
- Apotheosis Anna - Tier 3
- Donnel - Tier 4
Brigid - Tier 3
- Summer Joshua - Tier 3
- New Year Anna - Tier 3
Darros - Tier 4
- Mustafa - Tier 4
Pirate Tibarn - Tier 1
Similar to his first incarnation, Pirate Tibarn has an automatic follow-up mechanic, albeit with a solo condition instead of HP. Solo conditions are largely a non-factor in Galeforce strategies, as it is easy to meet when diving head-on into the foe.
As a flying beast, the bonus movement is extremely useful, specifically in a Galeforce strategy. This is coupled with the flier’s ability to ignore terrains, opening up more angles to attack from.
Pirate Tibarn also has the advantage of having cooldown reduction in his weapon, meaning that it is not difficult for Tibarn to reduce his Special cooldown and activate Galeforce in a single round of combat.
Lastly, with a solo condition, the self combat buff and a foe combat debuff in ATK also improves the likelihood of meeting Heavy Blade checks, even without an attack-boosting passive in the seal or A slot.
When compared to his original form, Pirate Tibarn not only has the advantages stated above, but also a colour advantage by being a colourless beast. As such, Pirate Tibarn has been placed in Tier 1.
Pirate Veronica- Tier 1
Similar to Pirate Tibarn, Pirate Veronica also has a solo-based follow-up mechanic with cooldown reduction. This naturally pushes Pirate Veronica towards a Galeforce role as well. The difference however, is the combat buff she gains and combat debuff she inflicts; DEF and RES instead of ATK. For use with Galeforce strategies, this is strictly inferior to Pirate Tibarn’s weapon as it does not help in meeting Heavy Blade checks. However, the extent to which this drawback affects her success will likely be marginal.
Pirate Veronica’s Harmonic Skill is the one-time follow-up negation in player or enemy phase. This is especially useful in Light season if Bramimond is the first to engage in combat.
As a harmonic skill, this effect can only be used by units from certain games. Fortunately, the Fates cast is one of the largest in the game, hence it is not difficult to find a competitive unit that can make use of this skill. In terms of unit synergies, Laslow and Keaton are notable examples as they are more likely to safely reach the HP threshold for Vantage due to blocking follow-up attacks.
Despite being worse than Pirate Tibarn in the Galeforce role, Veronica’s support utility is something that needs to be considered as well.
A New Future; Choose Your Legends 4
With the arrival of Choose Your Legends 4, it is likely that the banner ushered in a new age of stat totals. All the new units from this banner possess a higher base stat total compared to previously released heroes, and the dragon flower cap for all the units has since increased as well. While quantitatively the stat total are likely to remain constant due to dragon flowers, having more base stat does mean that more min-maxed opportunities are possible for newer units.
Brave Lysithea - Tier 2
As a typical glass cannon mage, the first intuition would be to tier her based on her defensive potential to the likes of Ophelia and the original Lysithea. Unfortunately, Brave Lysithea falls short in this regard. While her +6 ATK/SPD bonus is fairly easy to achieve, her automatic follow-up clause relies upon Lysithea having been damaged. This can be difficult to do especially in defense, as it is difficult to balance between dealing damage to Lysithea, and making sure that the frontline is capable of warding off offensive threats. In short, Brave Lysithea’s weapon is likely to simply be a stat stick that is effective to cavalry units.
There is however, some value in using Lysithea in offense, specifically in the Astra season. This is because of Duma’s prominence in the season, which enables her weapon to be in full strength much quicker. If a player is reliant on their Bolt Tower, it might not be a bad idea for players to hedge their risk by using Brave Lysithea when their Bolt Tower is destroyed. However, assuming that no upheaval is present or it is Light season, Lysithea becomes a much more difficult proposition in offense due to her lacklustre bulk without investment.
In summary, assuming Lysithea is capable of reaching her optimal circumstances, she is a powerful hero in the player phase. However, setting up is definitely a problem for Lysithea, with the only reliable method being Duma’s Upheaval or the use of niche Assist skills like Ardent Sacrifice or Reciprocal Aid. Without her guaranteed follow-up attack, Lysithea is simply a stat stick capable of doing decent damage.
Brave Edelgard - Tier 1
Brave Edelgard is an armored unit in classification, but little else: her weapon grants her bonus movement, granting her unparalleled mobility among other armored heroes. Furthermore, as her weapon already has cooldown reduction, she can either activate Noontime or Sol regularly if she has Brave Lucina behind offering support.
Brave Edelgard could also run a viable Galeforce strategy due to Black Eagle Rule granting automatic follow-up. In the player phase it is significantly weaker than Bold Fighter due to the lack of on-hit acceleration, however it does grant Edelgard some durability in the enemy phase if it is required.
The biggest issue with Edelgard is that her unique B passive does not provide any form of defensive mechanisms on the first hit. This meant that without disabling specials either from using Pulse Smoke or Pulse Tie skills, Edelgard is likely to take considerable damage despite her bulk. Even after considering Edelgard’s damage reduction on the 2nd hit, one could argue that stopping follow up all together (such as using Odd Follow-Up) could be better than the damage reduction from Black Eagles Rule. As such, we will evaluate Edelgard’s placement in future with this drawback in mind.
In consideration of Edelgard’s placement, we also opted to promote Valentines Rudolf, as Thorn Lance does provide the follow-up negation discussed above. Similarly, Rudolf’s placement will be monitored and re-evaluated in future.
- Valentines Rudolf to Tier 1.
Brave Dimitri - Tier 1
Blue Lion’s Rule is a phenomenal skill: the usual problem with SPD-based damage reduction is that barring a few exceptions, most mages are likely to have a good mix of ATK and SPD. This meant that the success of SPD Based reduction can be rather limiting at times. Blue Lion’s Rule completely circumvents this problem by relying on DEF instead of SPD, which is usually a nuke’s dump stat. The power of automatic follow-up with the same check is also difficult to negate.
Another boon is Dimitri’s SPD: a base value of 36 is still quite competitive. This means that unlike Edelgard, Dimitri can rely on outspeeding the opponent along with Blue Lion’s Rule guaranteed follow-up to negate impact skills. Dimitri wielding a weapon with a Distant Counter effect also means that his A passive slot is open for further optimisation, though ATK/DEF Unity is an attractive skill.
Moon Gradivus also grants on-damage Special acceleration, which enables Dimitri to retaliate with Noontime. This effect however is definitely weaker than cooldown reduction, as it removes the ability to run Sol along with Brave Lucina’s enemy phase acceleration. Barring that nitpick, this means that Dimitri is free to use other allies to support his endeavours.
The achilles heel of Brave Dimitri is his poor RES. This is particularly troubling in light of his colour, as he is naturally disadvantaged against Thrasir. Dimitri does have some answers against Thrasir by trying to prevent a follow-up attack using the SPD/RES Solo seal along with stacking speed, however the match-up is still largely in favour of Thrasir.
Despite this weakness, Dimitri is a powerful unit with a very good Distant Counter weapon and a B passive that is extremely reliable. The merit of these two unique skills is sufficient to place Dimitri in Tier 1.
Brave Claude - Tier 1
Traditionally, flying bow heroes have struggled due to two reasons; weakness to bows and lack of access to competitive B skill passives. These two factors remain true for Brave Claude, however Brave Claude’s weapon simply could not be ignored.
To quote from the free pick article for CYL4:
Other than the standard cooldown reduction and stat boosts, Claude’s main utility is that he heals for 50% of his own maximum HP after he charges his special. This is radically different from healing specials such as Sol and Aether, as those are not only determined by the damage that is dealt but also the amount of maximum HP the opponent has. Furthermore, nothing is stopping Claude from running a low-charge cooldown special such as Moonbow or Ruptured Sky. There is also the option of running Claude with Brave Lucina, which enables Claude to run a slightly more powerful special such as Luna.
Specifically in the context of Aether Raids Offense, the scaling is based on Claude’s maximum HP. With the help of Summoner Support and Mythic Heroes, it is rare for any healing special to be able to heal for the same amount as Wind Parthia. Claude essentially got the best of both worlds; an offensive special to help take down the opponent in both player and enemy phase, and unparalleled healing that improves Claude’s survivability even further. We believe that simply by the merit of Wind Parthia, Brave Claude is a contender to be one of the best units to be used in Aether Raids Offense.
Jorge - Tier 3
Flexibility is one of Jorge’s most defining features. If Jorge is utilised as the main unit, he can be a tank due to his commendable bulk, along with Daniel-made Bow providing cooldown reduction and in-combat ATK debuff. As mentioned above, in-combat ATK debuffs are especially valuable due to it working against both physical and magical threats. However, his inadequacies in SPD and being blue meant that Thrasir with Killing Intent will be very likely to shred through Jorge’s bulk.
What most units could not do compared to Jorge is that he can be competent in combat while providing support to his allies. The in-combat 5 ATK buff allows Jorge to function as a competent support unit. This pales in comparison to Male Corrin’s Yato and Kaden’s Kitsune Fang, however Jorge’s potential in combat cannot be understated.
Jorge is akin to a Swiss army knife; while not the best in any particular role, he can do just about anything at a competent level. He is not one that will shake up the meta anytime soon in terms of sheer competency, but Jorge is definitely a viable hero with several noteworthy playstyles.
Updated Olwen: Blue Mage Knight's Tier List icon to reflect her Resplendent form.
Updated Eirika: Restoration Lady's Tier List icon to reflect her Resplendent form.