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, Bonus Heroes, and particular Heroes that may be powerful or relevant in the current season.
Summoner Duels: Survival
This week’s Summoner Duels rotation 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 Brave Seliph, New Year Dagr, Valentine’s Chrom, 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: Long River
This week’s map, Long River, features a largely open grassy plain with unrestricted movement. It has two rivers, hence the name, around the edges of the scoring box, as well as a few forest tiles and trenches. The largely open terrain of this map means that cavalry units excel with their high Mov, while flying units also have a valuable niche for being able to move freely over the water, forests, and trenches.
The captain skills available this week are:
Effulgence, which grants a boost of Atk and Spd +4 and neutralizes the stat penalties of the Captain and any allies within two spaces of the Captain during combat.
Might of Myriads, which boosts all the Captain’s stats by 6 during combat and allows them to counterattack at any range, but only for units that are not activating a skill such as A/D Near Save or A/R Far Save.
Eminence, which gives the Captain the Pathfinder effect, allowing allies to move through their space without spending any movement, as well as inflicting -3 Def and Res on foes within 3 spaces of the Captain during combat.
All three of these Captain skills are solid choices. Might of Myriads excels on infantry units with high stats, especially if a player has them highly invested with merges, dragonflowers, and rare skills. Units like Flame Lyn and Legendary Dimitri use this skill well, particularly because it allows them to counter at range while still gaining the effects of another A skill. Eminence is useful for teams with high mobility to allow units to threaten a larger area of the map if they can move through the Captain’s space. Effulgence is also a strong pick that excels against some teams using skills that inflict penalties such as Sabotage Atk; it is more situational but penalty effects are fairly common so it is a reliable choice, and the Atk and Spd boost is appreciated by many units.
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 Ninian, Legendary Lilina, and Legendary Tiki.
Legendary Ninian is a green cavalry dragon dancer, so she has the ability to refresh an ally after they have acted by using her Assist Dragon’s Dance. If she uses it on turn 2 or later, she also refreshes herself and can act again. Her Faithful Breath also has various beneficial effects, including debuffing nearby enemies when she dances and allowing her to avoid counterattacks from units that are debuffed or that she has triangle advantage against.
Legendary Lilina is a red tome cavalry. Her unique Special Gifted Magic deals damage before combat in a small area-of-effect around the target, similar to Blazing Wind. Lilina can charge Gifted Magic at the start of turn 1 and activate it before her first combat, and continue to activate it as long as she gains at least 1 charge during combat by attacking an enemy that is not using a skill like Guard that slows Special charge.
Legendary Tiki is a blue armor dragon. Her unique C skill With Everyone! II buffs her stats at the start of her turn, but more importantly, it functions as a Far Save skill, allowing her to enter combat in the place of any allies within 2 spaces when they are attacked by ranged enemies such as bows or tomes.
Of the bonus units available this week, Ninian is a very strong choice simply by virtue of being a dancer with high movement, and she also has other useful effects like applying debuffs, refreshing herself, and denying counterattacks in some cases. Lilina is potentially useful due to her high Mov and range, but she is walled by some common Far Save units like Brave Hector or Ascended Idunn, especially if they use Hardy Fighter with Aegis. Tiki is also a solid choice; while there are better Far Saves, a player may not have them, and at a minimum she can still shield a teammate and protect them from being immediately sniped even if she gets KO’d in the process.
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.
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. This season, some of the top choices are as follows:
Brave Seliph is a great unit in open maps due to his great Mov when buffed with his C skill Heir to Light, ability to survive counterattacks when initiating, Canto 2, extra damage when he moves more spaces before combat, and extreme power in combat. He can threaten huge areas of the map and generally won’t die to a counterattack even if the enemy has a Near Save that can shield their allies from him. However, he must be wary of Stall effects that reduce his Mov to 1.
Hatari Azura is a green tome cavalry dancer. Her 3 mov allows her to keep up with the movement of cavalry allies better than most, but what really sets her apart is her Gray Waves, shared with Legendary Azura, which functions as Sing but additionally grants the March status effect to infantry and flying allies, increasing their Mov by 1. Additionally, Azura’s Dancing Flames buffs all her adjacent allies by +6 in all stats whenever she uses Gray Waves to give an ally another action. Her Harmonized skill with Leanne is essentially another Dance that only affects allies from Fates and Path of Radiance, granting another action to the highest of those allies within 2 spaces that has ended their turn, as well as granting Resonance: Blades to all allies from those titles, increasing their Atk and Spd by 4 during combat. Legendary Azura is another strong choice, as she shares the Gray Waves effect of granting March to infantry and flying allies, in addition to Null Panic if she opts for Gray Waves II.
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. Since this week’s map features open terrain that cavalry allies can freely move through, Dagr can enable them to move through huge areas of the box in a single action, dominating the terrain when she activates her Duo skill.
Summer Thorr is a dominant team-defining threat. Her weapon Divine Whimsy has several useful effects, the most prominent being that it targets the foe with the lowest Spd at the start of Thorr’s turn, applying the Stall effect as well as a new effect called Exposure to that foe and any foes within 2 spaces. Stall restricts the unit’s movement to 1 space through their next action, but only if that unit was under the effect of March from a skill like Armor March or Yuri’s Honorable Blade. Exposure causes that unit to take +10 damage from enemy units, so Thorr and her teammates deal 10 extra damage on each hit. Divine Whimsy also accelerates her Special trigger by 1, and Pulses it by 1 at the start of any turn on which she’s within 2 spaces of an ally. Stall is an increasingly relevant effect in Summoner Duels, as it applies Gravity to any units under the effects of March, restricting their Mov to 1 space through their next action. This flips the table on units like Brave Seliph and Legendary Sigurd that would otherwise have 4 Mov and be able to move freely all over the map. Thorr’s Duo skill with Loki targets all foes within 5 rows or columns centered on her, neutralizing any Bonus that is active on those foes, including both stat bonuses and positive status effects like March. It also targets foes in the same row or column, inflicting Gravity, which restricts their movement to 1 space through their next action. With all of these powerful effects, Thorr is a great addition to many teams and a unit that you should prepare to face.
Brave Byleth is a colorless tome flier with a variety of strong effects that make her a threat in Summoner Duels. At the start of her turn, her weapon Inner Wellspring provides a buff of Null Follow-Up and charges her Special by 1 so long as she is within two spaces of an ally. In combination with the Slaying effect on her weapon, this fully charges her Special Divine Pulse. Divine Pulse activates in combat to boost damage by 25% of her Spd, reduce the damage taken from her foe’s next attack by 75%, and boost the damage of Byleth’s next attack in that combat by 20% of her Spd. The damage bonus is useful and the 75% damage reduction allows her to survive strong hits from units, including threats like Valentine’s Chrom with charged Deadeye, since Deadeye does not bypass Special-based damage reduction. However, if not using Iote’s Shield or a similar effect Byleth will still take a large amount of damage from Deadeye, since she is weak to bows and Deadeye doubles damage. Then, after combat, Inner Wellspring charges her Special by 1 if it activated before or during combat, effectively fully charging it again for the next encounter. In addition to these unique skills, Byleth’s new inheritable B skill Spd Preempt grants her a Vantage effect against any bow, tome, dagger, or staff units she is faster than, allowing her to counterattack before her foe attacks. This can be bypassed by Hardy Bearing and similar effects. In most seasons Byleth pairs well with a unit using a skill like A/D Near Save to protect her from the melee foes she can’t counterattack.
Rearmed Robin (F) is a new addition to the meta and already one of the best Near Saves in the game. Her stats are sky high all around with Arcane Grima, particularly her Spd, giving her great matchups against most melee foes. In addition, her A skill Dragonhide removes her vulnerability to armor-effective damage while boosting her stats further and providing extra Special charge when attacked. Her ability to outspeed some fast melee foes and target Res means she has a great matchup against units like Brave Seliph and Brave Eirika that can outspeed and survive counterattacks from many common Near Saves while dealing huge damage back with her high Atk, bonus damage, and targeting Res, which is much lower than Def for some common melee threats. However, if using a Hardy Fighter build like her default kit, she is vulnerable to Pulse Tie skills, and using her as a Near Save means giving up the opportunity to use a Far Save on that team, as Summoner Duels only allows one Savior per team.