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’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 Bridal Catria, New Year Dagr, Summer Thorr, 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: Desert Barrier
This week’s map, Desert Barrier, features a number of forest and unbreakable walls, as well as a few breakable walls and trenches. In particular, the scoring box is split into left and right halves by unbreakable walls and forests, so cavalry units are incapable of traversing it without assistance from a unit like Ash or Summer Tana allowing them to teleport over it, or going outside the box to go around. The breakable wall tiles and trenches in the box make going around somewhat inconvenient as well, and even the unbreakable walls and forests on the left and right edges of the box could get in the way. Overall, this makes most cavalry units a weak choice this week, aside from a few with strong support effects that don’t require the unit themselves to enter combat such as Hatari Azura, Legendary Eliwood, or Astrid. Flying units are arguably the best choice this week, due to their ability to ignore the movement penalties of forests, but they still cannot move through wall tiles. Infantry are a reasonable choice but are slowed by forests. Armors are not slowed by forests, and maintain relevance by using skills like A/D Far Save or D/R Near Save to protect their teammates, but may have difficulty threatening large areas of the map due to their limited mobility. The structure of this map makes it somewhat difficult for units like Summer Edelgard or other armors to use Assault Troop without breaking at least one wall and then moving into that tile, though certainly not impossible, and they may also be a good choice.
The captain skills available this week are:
Secret Maneuver, which activates during the Captain’s combat to disable the skills of all foes other than the one they’re in combat with, similar to Bramimond’s Impenetrable Dark. It also activates at the start of turns 2 through 5 if the Captain is alive, charging all allies’ Specials by 1 each turn.
Erosion, which activates during the Captain’s combat and causes skills like A/R Far Save and A/D Near Save to not trigger, allowing the Captain to attack any unit they can reach. It also activates whenever an enemy Savior skill triggers, inflicting Def/Res -4 on that enemy and removing their ability to counterattack. Note that this counterattack denial does not work against Ascended Fjorm due to the effects of Nifl’s Bite.
Storm of Blows, which activates during the Captain’s combat to neutralize any bonuses their foe has. It also grants the Captain and any allies within 2 spaces a guaranteed follow-up attack during combat.
All three of these Captain skills are highly useful on the right team but Erosion is overall the strongest, being borderline overpowered when used on mobile units like Eitri or Valentian Palla to allow them to threaten large areas of the map, ignoring any Savior protection, and retreat after they get a KO. Canto Control does limit this somewhat, but outside of extremely high investment teams it is not common on most units. It is a common choice on Valentine’s Chrom on teams at high levels, and you can simply elect to ban any team he appears on. However, the other Captain skills are also good on the right teams and may be worth using. Secret Maneuver is fantastic for the Special charge effect in particular, that can allow charging powerful Specials that can hit whole teams like Blazing Wind or Growing Flame. Storm of Blows can be great to neutralize the stat bonuses of units using effects similar to Bonus Doubler, such as Legendary Marth who has a similar effect in his weapon. Stat bonuses are relatively common and guaranteed follow-ups are generally useful so this is an easy Captain skill to get some value out of, if less obviously overpowered compared to Erosion.
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 Deirdre, Legendary Dimitri, and Legendary Marth.
Legendary Deirdre is a blue tome infantry. She has strong combat, especially against dragon units, but also against many others due to her tome Spirit Forest Writ debuffing her foe’s Atk and Res by 6 and by an additional amount based on how much her Res exceeds theirs up to -12. Her Circlet of Balance Special is a damage-dealing Special that scales on her Res, but also has an effect similar to Miracle that essentially allows her to survive on 1 when her HP would hit zero under specific conditions: either her or her foe’s Special is ready or has already triggered, and either she initiates combat or her foe has a weapon with range 2. The first condition is easy to activate by charging Circlet of Balance using Time’s Pulse, Quickened Pulse, Secret Maneuver, or a similar effect. The second means that she can generally survive any one hit from a ranged enemy and retaliate with her own powerful Special, possibly KOing them outright. However, this effect only works once per match, regardless if Deirdre heals up to more than 1 HP. In addition, Deirdre has terrible Def and mediocre Spd, so she is vulnerable to strong physical hits especially from fast units. In particular, melee units can generally attack her without fear of retaliation and the miracle effect will not activate against them if they initiate combat. Ranged units with effects that allow them to strike twice such as Brave Bow+ may be able to knock Deirdre down to 1 HP with their first hit and KO her with the second, but this is more difficult due to her debuffing their Atk by up to 18 merely with Spirit Forest Writ.
Legendary Dimitri is a lance infantry. He has solid melee combat with Spd-based damage reduction in his weapon and bonus damage in his B skill Atrocity, which also has a Smoke-like effect that debuffs the stats of nearby foes after combat as well as inflicting Special cooldown +1, which will effectively “un-charge” Specials that are ready to activate. Dimitri is a solid choice that somewhat does not fit the meta this week; he benefits significantly from Captain skills that are not available such as Adroit Captain for its Null Follow-Up effect, though there are now other ways to obtain this such as Inf. Spd Tactic. The Pulse Smoke-like effect of Atrocity can be highly useful to weaken foes using skills like Hardy Fighter for precharged defensive Specials as well as offensive Specials like Deadeye or Blazing Wind, but it requires Dimitri to attack in order to hit nearby foes, which is not always reliable.
Legendary Marth is a sword infantry. He has overpowered melee combat, particularly against dragons, due to a combination of effects from Exalted Falchion (+Eff), Shining Emblem, and Binding Shield II. Exalted Falchion buffs his stats proportional to any visible stat bonus he has, as well as buffing his stats by twice the amount of any stat penalty he has, which essentially turns the penalty into a bonus. Shining Emblem buffs all his own stats by +6 at the start of his turn as long as he is within 2 spaces of an ally. With the combination of these effects, Marth easily gets +16 to all his stats, or more if he’s using skills like Bonus Doubler A or seal. Binding Shield II activates when in combat against dragons as well as foes he outspeeds by 5 or more, denying counterattacks, preventing his foe from making a follow-up attack, and giving him a guaranteed follow-up attack. This means that against all but the fastest of foes, or those using Null C-Disrupt, he can generally attack without fear of retaliation, and stat buffs turn him into a monument that is very difficult to damage. However, he does have weaknesses. Effects like Lull skills or Dull Close that disable his stat buffs will also remove all his bonus proportional to them, so Storm of Blows is useful against him. In addition, as a melee infantry unit, his mobility and threat range are rather limited, particularly in this map with the forest tiles in the scoring box.
Of the bonus units available this week, Deirdre and Marth are great choices, and Dimitri is a solid choice. All can perform well on the right team, and none of them exactly have the right strengths to take advantage of this week’s map, mostly due to being infantry units rather than flying. 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:
Eitri is a highly useful unit in the current rotation, due again to her strong combat, flying movement, and Canto 2 effect in Grim Brokkr. 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. What really sets her apart this season, in addition to flying units being able to ignore all the forest and trench tiles on the map, is access to Erosion, which allows her to ignore any enemy with Far Save and simply attack the foes in front of her. If her movement can be boosted by an effect such as Gray Waves or Pirate Hinoka’s Duo skill she can threaten an even larger area of the map.
Valentian Palla is a unit that’s maintained an impressive amount of relevance in Summoner Duels since the mode’s inception, on the strength of simple but powerful effects. Namely, being a flying unit with a weapon, the Ladyblade, which has built in Canto 2 and strikes twice on both phases, as well as targeting the lower of her foe’s Def or Res. This allows her to be flexibly built for Vantage using Distant Counter, or as the only player phase Hit and Run unit that actually uses Hit and Run, which moves her 1 space away from her foe after combat, for a potential total of 3 spaces when including her Canto. This is a strength she has over Eitri, who is limited to retreating two spaces. In particular, against foes using Canto Control, Palla can still retreat two spaces - one from Hit and Run and one from Canto - while Eitri’s Canto is negated entirely. In addition, Palla has better matchups against some common meta units like Valentine’s Chrom, as well as bonus units this rotation like Legendary Deirdre. Palla excels when paired with Winter Bernadetta and using Ardent Sacrifice to get into Vantage range, or when paired with a movement-boosting effect like Odd Tempest or Gray Waves from Legendary or Hatari Azura if she’s using Hit and Run.
Flame Tana is a green dagger flier. She has strong combat as well as multiple useful support effects. Her Kindling Taiko strengthens her damage and reduces her damage taken against blue, green, and colorless allies, but most importantly, it also confers a buff of Canto 1 to Tana and all allies within 2 spaces at the start of her turn. This allows all of those allies to move 1 space after combat. While it is less Canto than some other units have access to, this can be a gamechanging effect for units that do not otherwise have access to Canto, such as many infantry units, or flying or cavalry units that prefer a B skill other than a Trace. In addition, Tana’s Harmonized skill with Peony functions similarly to Dance, granting another action to the ally with the highest HP within 2 spaces that is from either Fire Emblem Heroes or Fire Emblem Sacred Stones, as well as providing Resonance: Blades to all allies from those titles, boosting their Atk and Spd by 4 during combat.
Hatari Azura is a green tome cavalry dancer. As one of only two cavalry dancers in the game along with Masquerade Sigurd, 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. In a season where flying allies dominate the terrain like this one, this is a highly useful effect to pair with a unit like Eitri or New Year Dagr. 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.
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, however, in this season the possibility of enemy captains using Erosion makes this less consistent.
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 trenches and forests which restrict the movement of cavalry, Dagr excels as a flying unit that can help her team get more mobility with Pathfinder.
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. So Thorr can charge up a powerful Special like Blazing Wind at the start of turn 2 with only one extra Pulse from a source like Valentine’s Chrom, Legendary Hector, the Quickened Pulse seal, or the Secret Maneuver Captain skill. 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.