This Week In Summoner Duels - February 16th 2022

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Welcome to the first edition of This Week in Summoner Duels, a new article series with tips and tricks for the current week of Summoner Duels Ranked. 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. 

The Map: Narrow Detour

Narrow Detour map

This week’s map, Narrow Detour, features a wide open plain of normal tiles with some water, trenches, and breakable walls in a diagonal line from top left to bottom right. There are also some mountains and forests along the edges. By breaking a single wall tile in the center of the map, each of which breaks when hit by any unit once, the player’s units can move unrestricted through most of the scoring box, though the trenches may pose a slight difficulty for cavalry. The water tiles are usually not consequential unless one player is chasing around the sides of the map rather than attempting to maintain threat and control over the majority of the box. 

Captain Skills

The captain skills available this week are: 

Adroit Captain, which boosts the Captain’s Spd by 5 during combat, and grants the Captain and all allies within 2 spaces of the Captain the Null Follow-Up effect in combat if that unit’s Spd is greater than their foe’s Spd. 

Turmoil, which grants the Captain the March status effect at the start of their turn, allowing them to move 1 extra space. (Note that this does not stack with other skills that grant March, such as Armor March or Yuri’s Honorable Blade). In addition to this, the Captain counts as 2 units for the purposes of determining box scoring - in which 2 points are awarded at the end of the round to any player whose units within the box outnumber the other player’s units in the box by 2 or more. So under normal circumstances, if player 1 has five units inside the box and player 2 has three at the end of a round, player 1 would be awarded 2 points. If player 1 is using Turmoil and has their Captain inside the box, and player 2 does not have a Captain inside the box, they only need to outnumber the other player by 1 unit in order to obtain those points. 

Effulgence, which grants Atk/Spd+4 and neutralizes penalties to allies within 2 spaces of the Captain during combat (note that this does not affect the Captain themselves). 

Of these captain skills, Turmoil is generally the most useful across a wide variety of teams, as it can be used on many different Captains to improve their Mov, either allowing the Captain to threaten a larger area of the map if the captain has threatening combat, or allowing a support unit like Ash or Hatari Azura to more easily keep up with the rest of the team. The effect on box scoring is also noticeable, since it means it’s that much easier to sneak in a couple extra points if you can push your opponent partly out of the box. In addition, using Turmoil effectively cancels out the scoring advantage of the other player’s Turmoil. 

Adroit Captain can also find relevance on many teams, particularly units that benefit from the Null Follow-Up effect that either cannot use it normally due to not being infantry, or wish to use it with another B skill such as Windsweep - using Adroit Captain allows the Captain and any units within 2 spaces of them to ignore the follow-up restrictions of Windsweep and freely follow-up attack. It can also be useful on fast tanks that want to use another B skill while also using Null Follow-Up to cancel out enemy follow-up shenanigans, such as Legendary Dimitri

Effulgence seems to be the least useful of the three skills, and generally an inferior option to one of the other two for most teams. While the stat buff and penalty neutralization are interesting, the area it affects is small, and penalties are not currently very common in Summoner Duels to begin with, due to the fact that most stat debuffs in Fire Emblem Heroes generally last through the target’s next action - so in Summoner Duels, the debuffed unit can simply end their turn at the first opportunity to clear all penalties. 

Bonus Allies

In every season so far of Summoner Duels Ranked, there are three Bonus Allies the player can use, if they have that unit in their barracks. Using one of these allies allows the player one extra loss before they get kicked out of Summoner Duels Ranked 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 most teams they face in Summoner Duels Ranked to include one of the three - though there may be some teams that do not. This season, the bonus allies are Eir, Hel, and Elimine. Of these three, Eir may be the most common, as she is the only one of the three that has been available for free, by completing Book III Chapter 1 Part 5. Most players will have Eir in their barracks, while many will not have Elimine or Hel. 

Eir is a colorless flying dagger unit. She has high Spd and Res, decent Atk, low HP, and very low Def. Her unique C skill Sparkling Boost+ provides a powerful healing effect, healing the ally on her team that has been dealt the most damage by 20 HP at the start of her turn. In addition, it boosts the Res of any ally above 50% HP by 5 while in combat. This provides some useful support for tank units, if they can survive to the start of the next round in order to get healed. Her weapon Lyfjaberg (+Eff) contains a variety of effects, denying her foe’s follow-up attacks and slowing their Special charge in combat, boosting her Atk and Res based on her current HP, and healing herself and allies slightly after combat. She is easily KO’d by most strong physical units, but may be more difficult for mages to KO, as well as dragons due to her default B skill Mystic Boost

Hel is an axe flying unit. She has high Atk and Spd, decent HP and Def, and relatively low Res. Her unique C skill Inevitable Death lowers Atk, Spd, Def, and Res of all enemies within 2 spaces by 4. Her weapon Hel’s Reaper contains several effects, including removing her Flying weakness, accelerating her Special cooldown, and granting two effects if her foe does not use a tome or staff: targeting their Res instead of Def for damage calculations, and allowing her to survive on 1 HP if she would be KO’d, once per combat. She also comes with the skills Distant Counter, allowing her to counterattack at all ranges, and Guard Bearing, giving her 50% damage reduction for a single hit in enemy phase once per turn. This combination of skills makes her very difficult for many units to KO, as Guard Bearing allows her to survive the first hit with more than 1 HP, and then Hel Scythe allows her to survive the second hit with 1 HP; her high Spd also allows her to avoid many follow-ups naturally. She often uses the Mystic Boost seal to heal 6 HP after combat, effectively resetting the Miracle effect of Hel’s Reaper for the next combat. She can be a very difficult unit to KO, and benefits significantly from the effects of Adroit Captain, both the Spd boost and the Null Follow-Up. However, her Miracle effect does not work against tome or staff units, so they can KO her more easily, though staves will deal low damage if she is using Mystic Boost, as it disables the effects of Wrathful Staff and similar effects. In addition, Hel herself is not the most threatening of units on player phase, particularly if the other team has a Near Save unit with high Res and Atk. She has low mov, can only attack in melee, and must rely on her Atk and Special for damage. It may be easy for some teams to simply avoid her if they have enough mobility. 

Elimine is a flying staff unit. She comes with a variety of support effects which make her extremely useful in Aether Raids and decently useful in Summoner Duels. Her unique weapon Staff of the Saint buffs the Def and Res of allies within 2 spaces by 6 at the start of her turn. It normally also applies False Start, a status effect that disables enemy skills that activate at the start of their turn, to any foes in a cardinal direction (North, South, East, or West in a straight line along the map) if her Res is greater than theirs. However, this effect does not work in Summoner Duels. She also has the unique C skill Holy Ground, which provides allies within 2 spaces an in-combat buff of 4 Def and Res while also reducing their damage taken in combat by 30% (Note that this does NOT apply to out-of-combat damage from Specials like Blazing Wind). This is a useful effect, particularly for supporting units using Near Save or Far Save. Elimine’s combat is rather weak, though she does deny counterattacks with Staff of the Saint, and comes with A/R Far Trace, potentially allowing her to retreat after combat. 

Of the three bonus units, Hel is probably the most dangerous and important to plan around, since an unprepared team may find themselves unable to KO her at all, as she constantly regenerates using Mystic Boost while slowly whittling down their HP. She is much more easily dealt with by powerful tome wielders, especially those with a Brave effect such as Ninja Corrin (F), AoE specials like Blazing Wind, or Near Save units with high Atk and Res that can tank her hits while shielding their team from her. However, the utility of bringing a Near Save unit to counter Hel instead of a Far Save unit to counter many of the more common offensive threats is debatable, and whether it’s a good decision will depend on a player’s particular situation, the rest of their team and what units they have available in their barracks. Eir is easily KO’d by many physical offense units and many Far Saves, and likely will not pose a threat to teams using common meta threats unless all their offensive units hit Res. Elimine provides useful damage reduction which can make tanks more difficult to KO, but lacks powerful combat herself and may fail to make an impact in many matches. 

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.

Valentine’s Chrom is perhaps the most exciting new unit for Summoner Duels, and based on the non-ranked season prior to this week, he is quite common. 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.

One other thing to watch out for with Chrom is the Vantage build. By using the Fury seal, a Chrom with less than 44 HP (his base HP is 40) can do 11 chip damage to himself after combat, 6 from Fury and 5 from Close Salvo, and place himself into Vantage range after a single combat. This can checkmate certain teams if they do not have a way around it, since Chrom’s attack is quite high, he can easily oneshot common offensive threats like Yuri and New Year Dagr in most cases. Using the Hardy Bearing seal, or using Windsweep on a unit faster than Chrom will generally solve this problem.

Units with already high Mov and no access to a March effect benefit significantly from Turmoil, including many powerful cavalry such as Brave Eirika, Summer Caeda, and Legendary Lilina. By using Turmoil, a unit like Eirika or Caeda can threaten enemies up to 5 spaces away, dominating a huge portion of the box and forcing the other player to step carefully, lest the Eirika or Caeda move in to get a KO and then retreat using the Canto effect in their weapons. Lilina is another highly threatening unit; ranged cavalry can attack units up to 6 spaces away when under the effects of March. Lilina’s Gifted Magic allows her to deal significant damage to Far Saves, though she must be careful to actually include the Far Save unit in the target area of the AoE before they move to Save in combat, as otherwise they will take no damage. She can also opt for a stronger Special like Blazing Wind if using Quickened Pulse seal and receiving 1 charge from Valentine’s Chrom.

Eitri is also a highly useful unit in the current rotation, due again to her strong combat, Canto 2 effect in Grim Brokkr, and ability to gain an extra space of Mov from Turmoil or another source such as Gray Waves on Hatari Azura. 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 generally bad, since Eitri lacks the Speed to follow-up and her guaranteed follow-up is canceled by Hardy Fighter. However, under rare circumstances it is possible for Eitri to use an AoE like Blazing Wind that targets Fjorm before combat, if using a large amount of charge support from units like Velouria and Valentine’s Chrom.

Hatari Karla is another rare threat, being highly effective at dealing damage to most of a team to weaken them before being KO’d. With Dryblade Lance, she lowers her Special’s cooldown by 1, charges it by an additional 2 at the start of turn 1, and adds a percentage of her Spd to the Special’s damage when it activates. This weapon allows her to use a large AoE special like Growing Wind, which hits an area up to 5 tiles wide, to hit most or all of the units on the opposing team while doing massive damage equal to her Atk minus her foe’s Def, plus 50% of her Spd (which will generally be around 50-60 depending on her skills and buffs, so an extra 25-30 damage). This can knock an entire team down to single digit HP and make them easy pickings for the remaining 4 units on Karla’s team, even if she is KO’d after attacking. This is a difficult effect to counter with Saves, as the AoE on Growing Wind is large enough to hit every possible space a Near Save unit could occupy while activating their Savior effect on Karla’s target. If the Karla is not using some form of Windsweep or Hardy Bearing, Vantage may allow a Save unit to counter-KO her after getting hit by the AoE, but before she attacks in combat. And of course, a player may notice that an opposing team has Karla, check her build, and then play more cautiously, keeping one of their units waiting to KO her before she can attack if she comes too close.

While he does not benefit particularly from the terrain of Narrow Detour, 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. 

Other Strategic Tips

Due to the relatively unrestricted terrain of Narrow Detour once the breakable walls are broken, cavalry units can threaten large areas of the map due to their high Mov, especially if one of them is a captain using Turmoil, or otherwise has access to a March affect such as Legendary Sigurd using Holy-Knight Aura. The March effect of Turmoil can be reversed into a Gravity effect if the unit is hit by Stall, so units like Riev may be useful as well to limit the mobility of the enemy team. However, the Stall status only lasts through the unit’s next action, so if they can move, end their turn, and get Danced, they will clear the Stall and once again have high Mov. 

Adroit Captain can also allow for players with a highly-invested tank unit with lots of stats such as a +10 Legendary Dimitri or Brave Marth to have essentially no weakness and set themselves up to win combat encounters against the majority of units in the game on the sheer power of stats, negating follow-ups, high damage, and possibly damage reduction. This can be highly effective against players who simply lack a unit that can survive combat with the tank, however, it does render the team vulnerable to particular counters depending on the tank chosen. 

While by no means unique to this season, Winter Bernadetta can be used on a team to place a unit into Vantage range without seeing combat. The 1 HP damage from Hrist that she applies to self and nearby allies at the start of her turn allows one of her allies to use a skill like Ardent Sacrifice to heal Bernadetta, or another ally, while dealing themselves 10 damage. Depending on their HP, this may drop them below 75% and into Vantage 3 range, allowing them to counterattack before their foe attacks unless that foe is using an effect like Hardy Bearing or denying counterattacks with an effect like Windsweep or Dazzling Staff. This is a decently popular strategy on Valentian Palla, as her Ladyblade allows her to strike twice even on enemy phase while also targeting the lower of her foe’s Def or Res, dealing high damage to most foes. It also has Canto 2, making her a highly mobile unit on player phase as well. While she does not particularly excel in the current map or captain skill rotation compared to other seasons, this strategy can still be used to checkmate some teams if the opposing player does not have a counter for her, so it is an important thing to consider when choosing units.  

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the real Fire Emblem was the whales we hunted along the way