Welcome to This Week in Summoner Duels, an article series with tips and tricks for the current week of Summoner Duels Ranked or Summoner Duels Survival. The aim of this series is to give players a brief overview of what they can expect to see in Duels, so that they can better prepare for and react to the meta. This includes the map, Captain Skills, and particular Heroes that may be powerful or relevant in the current season.
Summoner Duels: Survival
This week is Summoner Duels Survival, the variant of Summoner Duels in which players build a set of four teams consisting of five units each. Each team has its own Captain and each can use a different Captain skill. When players load into a match, each player has the chance to view the other player’s teams for about 30 seconds, and can choose two of those four teams to ban. After this, each player is shown the remaining two of their own teams and chooses one of them to use in combat. The match then plays out as normal. In this way, players can choose to ban teams that have particular units they do not wish to fight, or lack counters for, like common meta threats such as Valentine’s Chrom, New Year Dagr, Spring Sonya, or whatever a particular player wishes.
Astute players may notice that they always have a choice between two teams before loading into the match, so it is entirely valid to build three teams they intend to use, and a fourth team that serves no purpose and they have no intention to actually use in combat. Players might find it useful to build a team consisting of popular meta choices to be an easy choice to ban, leaving their more rare, interesting teams on the table. Of course, you must use your own discretion when deciding how to build your teams.
The Map: Shifting Sands
This week’s map, Shifting Sands, is largely composed of desert tiles which do not restrict movement. It also has large “moats” of water tiles running from left to right along most of the top and bottom of the scoring box, and a couple of trench and forest tiles inside the box. The water tiles are impassable for infantry, armored, and cavalry units, so flying units have a substantial advantage when it comes to free movement and can effectively threaten areas of the box while being protected by the moat. Cavalry units are still a solid choice as well due to their high base movement, but their effective movement is more limited than some weeks. Teleportation effects like Ash’s Opening Retainer may also be useful to allow non-flying units to warp over the water tiles. Lastly, it is important to remember that armored units using a skill like A/R Far Save can only protect units on terrain the armored unit can traverse, so they cannot protect flying units if those units are on the water.
The captain skills available this week are:
Secret Maneuver, which activates during the Captain’s combat and disables the skills of all other foes. In addition, it provides Special cooldown count -1 to all allied units at the start of turns 2 through 5, charging up the team’s Specials.
Eminence, which grants the Captain the Pathfinder effect, allowing their allies to move through their map tile without “spending” a tile of movement. In addition, foes within 3 spaces of the captain have their Def and Res reduced by 3 in combat.
Mass Confusion, which grants Atk +5 to the captain during combat. In addition, at the start of turns 2 through 5, it applies Atk/Def/Res -7 to any foe adjacent to another foe through their next action.
Secret Maneuver is a highly powerful Captain Skill that is extremely useful on the right team, as it allows units to charge Specials like Blazing Wind or Lethality before their first combat, so they can immediately shred through units that would ordinarily survive a hit. Eminence is an interesting Captain Skill that is mediocre for most teams; the Pathfinder Effect is rarely game-changing and the foe debuff is a relatively minor benefit. Mass Confusion is a solid choice that can be very good on the right team; in particular, it is excellent when paired with units like Gunnthra that gain in-combat effects when their foe has a visible stat debuff. Overall, Secret Maneuver is generally the best choice, but requires particular skill choices to get the most out of. Mass Confusion is another very solid choice. Eminence is generally the weakest of the three, though it may have some relevance on particular teams.
In every season so far of Summoner Duels Ranked and Survival, there are three Bonus Allies. Using one of these allies on a team allows the player one extra loss before they get kicked out for the week, so they can lose a total of 4 times instead of 3. In addition, the bonus ally reduces the Glory lost on a defeat by 40 points. These effects are both useful, and many players will opt to use one of the three, so players should expect many teams they face to include one of the three - though there may be some teams that do not. This season, the bonus allies are Legendary Nanna, Legendary Celica, and Legendary Robin (F). Since this week is Summoner Duels Survival, it is only necessary to include a bonus hero on one out of the four teams in order to receive the bonus effects. Likewise, if a player’s team is extremely weak to a single unit, bonus or otherwise, they can simply choose to ban all opponent’s teams that use that unit. So the bonus units and other common units are not as unavoidable as they can be in Summoner Duels Ranked.
Legendary Nanna is a sword cavalry. Her unique weapon and skill allow her to ignore all forms of percentage-based damage reduction when attacking, as well as to follow-up before her foe can counterattack (if she is fast enough to follow-up). She is an extremely threatening unit in melee combat and is very difficult to survive without triangle advantage and high Def. Her B skill Hoðr's Zeal also grants Canto (Rem. +1), allowing her to retreat at least 1 space after combat. Overall, she is a good choice of bonus unit with great combat and good mobility.
Legendary Celica is a green tome infantry. Her unique tome Saintly Seraphim grants bonus damage based on 25% of her foe’s Res, making her a strong attacker. In addition, her B skill Soul of Zofia grants the effects of Null Follow-Up and Desperation 3. While her combat is strong against many units, her HP and Def are rather low so she is vulnerable to being KO’d on the counterattack against common Far Save units like Ascended Fjorm. Her matchup against Brave Hector, another common choice, is generally very favorable - she can usually KO him in one attack unless he is using Hardy Fighter and Aegis, and if he is, she can likely survive his counterattack and may KO him on the follow-up. As an infantry unit, Celica’s mobility is mediocre, she can move 2 spaces under most circumstances and cannot traverse water. Overall, she is a solid choice that is good against some common meta units and weak against others.
Legendary Robin (F) is a colorless flying dragon. She has a relatively balanced statline and her A skill Dragonskin II removes her weakness to bows and other flying-effective weapons. Her unique weapon Expiration provides Distant Counter as well as a stat boost and a Guard effect when her HP is at least 25%. As a flying unit, she can use skills or seals like Ground Orders that may help a team’s mobility. Due to her low Res, mediocre Def, and lack of damage reduction unless using a skill like Dragon’s Wrath, her combat can be good but she is often KO’d by many common meta threats like Ninja Corrin (F) and Valentine’s Chrom. Her matchups against those units are much better if players have given her more merges and some good inheritable skills. Overall, she can be a solid choice of bonus unit but as an enemy phase tank she is not necessarily reliable.
All three of the bonus allies are decent choices this week, with Nanna being the clear standout with highly threatening melee combat and good mobility. Despite her strengths, however, she may struggle with the amount of water in Shifting Sands, as this can block her movement and give the range advantage to enemy fliers.
Units to Watch Out For
There are several units that are extremely powerful and will likely be decently common in this phase of Summoner Duels. The following list showcases a few of those, though it is by no means conclusive. Since this is Summoner Duels Survival, players must decide which threats their teams can reasonably handle, while being free to ban teams with particular units that are extremely dominant. Some of the best choices this season are:
Spring Sonya is an up-and-comer in the Summoner Duels meta, a green tome flier with an incredibly powerful weapon and Harmonic Skill. Her Harmonic Skill grants Special cooldown -2 to herself and all allies from Fire Emblem Echoes and Fire Emblem Awakening, allowing her to provide charge for potentially an entire team if the right units are used, as well as granting units from those titles a boost of Atk and Spd +4 in combat for the remainder of that turn. Her tome, Magic Rabbits, has a similar Special-accelerating effect at the start of turn 1, as well as allowing her to warp within 2 spaces of any ally within 2 spaces, and granting a bonus to her Atk and Spd in combat. With this tome, she can immediately charge powerful Specials like Luna or Blazing Wind, and her warp effect allows her to threaten huge areas of the map from safely behind her allies. Especially in combination with Secret Maneuver, she is a highly threatening unit.
New Year Dagr has been a prominent threat in Summoner Duels since her release, largely on the strength of her Duo Skill, which grants Pathfinder to all allies within 5 rows and 5 columns centered on her position. This can easily be used to grant Pathfinder to an entire team, allowing the team to threaten ever larger areas of the map as each unit moves further into position and their teammates can move through them freely. Dagr’s combat is also solid, with her unique Jotnar Bow accelerating her Special activation in addition to debuffing her foe’s stats based on Dagr’s visible buffs, and her unique B skill Sun-Twin Wing debuffing her foe’s Spd and Def by 5 and granting her the effects of Null Follow-Up so long as she is above 25% HP. Dagr is an extremely strong unit in nearly every rotation, but she also benefits significantly from Secret Maneuver, as it allows her to charge Specials like Deadeye and Blazing Wind that can KO some of the units that ordinarily give her trouble.
Eitri is also a highly useful unit in the current rotation, due again to her strong combat, flying movement, Canto 2 effect in Grim Brokkr, and ability to charge a Special using Secret Maneuver. Eitri’s Canto allows her to get free KOs in many cases by retreating, if her combat is strong enough and the unit is not protected by a Far Save. Depending on Eitri’s build, she can often defeat Brave Hector while easily surviving due to her solid defenses and the damage reduction effect of Divine Recreation. Her matchup against Ascended Fjorm is bad under normal circumstances, since Eitri lacks the Speed to follow-up and her guaranteed follow-up is canceled by Hardy Fighter. With Secret Maneuver, however, it is very possible for Eitri to use a Special like Blazing Wind that targets foes before combat, especially if receiving Special charge support from units like Valentine’s Chrom or Velouria. This build will obliterate most common Far Save units, including Ascended Fjorm, unless they can avoid the Special by being positioned out of its target area on the map, which is generally hard to maintain throughout whole turns.
Legendary Claude is one of the best flying units in Arena, and he’s no slouch in Summoner Duels either. While his damage dealt is not as insanely high as other threats like Eitri and Spring Sonya, where Claude really excels is his B skill Fallen Star, which grants him 80% damage reduction on the first counterattack he takes during combat, as well as an after-combat status effect giving 80% damage reduction on the first hit in his next combat that turn. In addition, it applies the Gravity status effect to his foe and foes adjacent to them after combat, restricting their Mov to 1 through their next action. This can be a hugely restrictive effect on many teams that rely on mobility, and Claude is generally excellent at applying it due to his damage reduction. Failnaught has multiple useful effects as well, the Null Follow-Up in particular makes it easy for him to survive counterattacks from most slower foes. As with other units mentioned earlier, Claude can use Secret Maneuver to charge powerful Specials to KO many foes in one hit.
Yuri remains a strong unit in Summoner Duels for the sheer variety of useful effects he possesses. He has an innate March effect in Honorable Blade as well as Canto 2, allowing him to move up to 3 spaces and retreat 2 spaces after taking an action - which includes combat, but also the use of Foul Play, his unique Assist which swaps the spaces of himself and any allied unit exactly 3 spaces away from him. His combat is also solid, though he may struggle against many Far Save units; he can charge a 2-cooldown Special like Moonbow or Glimmer fully at the start of each turn using his default Time’s Pulse. He may also opt for longer cooldown Specials like Lethality or Blazing Wind in order to more effectively deal damage to units using Far Saves.
Valentine’s Chrom is perhaps the most meta-defining threat in Summoner Duels. His bow allows him to charge his and his target’s Special by 1 whenever he either uses a movement assist or is the target of a movement assist, such as Reposition or To Change Fate! In combination with the Slaying effect of Destiny’s Bow and the C skill Time’s Pulse, this allows Chrom to charge his Deadeye fully simply by using a movement assist on turn 1, as well as charging an ally’s Special by 1. With a charged Deadeye, he can do extremely high damage to most units, as he nullifies non-Special based damage reduction, doubles his damage, and is effective against Armored and Flying units - so almost every common user of Far Save skills except for Brave Hector. In particular, he can reliably one-shot Ascended Fjorm, the most common Far Save in Summoner Duels, unless she is using a very unusual build with Svalinn Shield or a similar effect. However, Far Save units are still useful against Chrom. Since he does not have Canto effect, Chrom is generally forced to attack from within enemy threat range in order to KO a unit, and cannot retreat. This can allow another one of the player’s units, protected by the sacrifice of the Far Save, to KO Chrom on their next turn.