With the 2nd Anniversary of Girls’ Frontline EN, MICA Team has once again been kind enough to provide us with a True Core Mask:
This wonderful item allows for the selection of a single production 5★ T-Doll to add to your armory, including Heavy Production-exclusive SGs. This is exactly as amazing as it sounds, as it allows any commander who simply logs in during this event to bypass all the production RNG and get the T-Doll they want guaranteed, which is something that you’d have to pay money for in many other gacha games.
With well over two dozen 5★ Dolls currently in the pool and the meta shift of Isomer coming up, the question of what to spend this amazing item on is not as easy as it was last year. This guide is intended to help make that choice easier for players.
5/8 update: Added a short note about FP-6's rarity.
For those who don’t want to read the in depth breakdowns below, there are a few simple rules.
First, DO NOT use the True Core Mask until after the General Production Rate-Up has ended. With the full suite of anniversary rate ups, it is quite possible you will produce the Doll you were originally aiming for, letting you spend the Mask on something else.
Second, do not get the icon unless you are a non-duper who already has every single doll in the game. You will be able to buy it for 5000 Friend Points in the shop eventually anyway, and it’s not like you’re actually going to use this core mask as your GFL icon, right?
Third, the general priority is as follows:
- Get your raifu, if you somehow still don’t have her
- Grab Carcano M91/38 (if you still do not have her) or a SG that you don’t have
- Take CMS/P90 or any other rare non-HG craft
- If for some reason you have everyone but certain HGs, you can get a HG.
- If you have everyone unlocked, a second copy of Carcano M91/38 or anyone else you’d like to dupe (assuming they are dupe-worthy).
Quick note on M91/38 vs. SG: In terms of resource efficiency for players who want 100% T-Doll collection, grabbing a 5-star SG is by far the better choice - SGs cost twenty times as much resources to craft compared to RFs, and their drop rates aren't different enough to make up the difference. In terms of pure content usefulness, however, additional SGs don't come even close to Carcano M91/38 - her niche is unparalleled, especially for dispatching threatening foes in tough missions or ranking events, and she's the cheapest core-farming option.
SGs on the other hand are currently cooling their heels without much meta usefulness, as the bulk of SG usefulness comes from their armor and high HP, which is often adequate regardless of which SG you fielded. Do note that while it is not necessary to have Carcano M91/38 to rank highly, she can make it easier for struggling players.
With that out of the way, on to the full analysis.
Dolls will be classified on three categories:
- I do not have this Doll, should I get them?
- I have a Doll that fills a similar niche, is this unit enough of an upgrade to pick anyway?
- I have this Doll, should I get a dupe?
Unless you are 100% dedicated to the meta, the True Core Mask is the perfect time to tell the production RNG to shove it, and pick up your raifu who refuses to come home. Don't repeat the tragedy of players who crafted for IWS2000 or Negev for months with no avail.
Note that the True Core Mask exchange is unfortunately limited to 5★ T-Dolls only.
As a broad category that is extremely cost-efficient to pick, SGs should be first priority to pick from the True Core Mask, because the cost of crafting Shotguns is massive, and the odds of pulling one are painfully low. As a result, using your True Core Mask to get a Shotgun will save you an order of magnitude more resources and time compared to picking T-Dolls who can be pulled from standard production.
The SG T-Dolls below are listed in order of pick priority:
S.A.T. 8 is without a doubt one of the most valuable SGs in the game. Her stats are solid, but her Skill is what truly makes S.A.T. 8 stand out. By deploying a shield on anyone in the front row (tiles 3, 6, 9) at 2s, she can dramatically reduce scratch damage taken by herself or other armored T-Dolls who happen to be in the front line. Since damage to this shield is calculated after Armor, this benefits SGs far more than other units. As the cherry on top, if you can keep the shield up, there is only a 1 second downtime!
I don’t have S.A.T. 8, should I get her?
YES! Without any doubt, S.A.T. 8 should be the priority number one out of all SGs. She is currently the only Doll with her niche: a low ICD shielder. S.A.T. 8 is priority one for picks (assuming your already have a Carcano M91/38, in which case, see the note above). Do not overlook her for any reason.
I have S.A.T. 8, should I get a dupe?
Generally speaking, no. While S.A.T. 8 is unique in what she offers, this niche is not so in demand that you ever really need multiples of her.
I have another Doll that fills this niche, is SAT-8 an upgrade?
If for some reason you're reading this article after M500's Neural Upgrade already came out on EN and have her but no S.A.T. 8, yes, you should still get a copy of her. Her self-sufficiency does intermittently come in handy.
KSG is the Queen of Armor, with the maximum base Armor value of 24 atop all SGs alongside an Armor-buffing Skill not shared by other SGs with her Armor stat. (You can ignore the Evasion boost in her skill, as it will result on only a fairly negligible number of additional misses.) KSG’s tiles are pretty nice too, fitting in position 6 for MG/SG formations without losing coverage. Between her ability to reach the highest possible SG Armor value (alongside M590) and powerful tiles, KSG is hard to turn down for players who already have S.A.T. 8.
With the upcoming enemies that encourage unorthodox formations such as RFSG, SGs are now used more for raw tanking abilities than their tile buffs, knockbacks, or synergy with MGs. In this area, KSG is outclassed by S.A.T. 8 in only attrition and peerless in terms of the highest per-hit damage she can sustain before she takes more than 1 damage.
I don’t have KSG, should I get her?
If you already have S.A.T. 8, yes you should. KSG is top dog at her role, and being an SG is painfully expensive to craft (even if she is relatively more common than the others in this list).
I have KSG, should I get a dupe?
Unless you one of the writers of this guide, and thus love KSG to an irrational degree, no, duping KSG isn’t worth it.
I have another Doll that fills this niche, is KSG an upgrade?
KSG will be a fairly noticeable upgrade. While Super Shorty has a weaker Skill equivalent, her low base Armor and HP hurt her tanking ability. With nothing more than a 30% Armor buff, KSG will outdo Super Shorty by about 10 points of Armor under Skill - the gap widening as Fairies are added in.
The only other SG capable of reaching KSG-levels of armor, M590, has subpar tile buffs and a lower pre-skill Armor value.
FP-6 matches KSG for base Armor with a tiny bit more HP, but her Skill is entirely different, being a shield with a damage reduction effect plus some initial knockback. This said, she’ll generally be picked less than SAT or KSG due to her long ICD, difficult skill, and awkward tile placement.
I don’t have FP-6, should I get her?
FP-6’s acquisition serves as a matter of debate. While she is certainly useful, if you already have SAT-8 and KSG, picking up FP-6 is less of a priority because they’ll both outdo her for combat. FP-6's unique niche is CE stacking, but the usefulness of that niche is essentially zero.
The one major benefit of picking FP-6 over other 5-star SGs (provided you already have S.A.T. 8 and KSG) is to save resources if you are a completionist. FP-6 notably has the lowest craft rate among SGs and will take on average anywhere between 50%-100% more crafts than other choices.
I have FP-6, should I get a dupe?
Nope. Not worthwhile.
I have another Doll that fills this niche, is FP-6 an upgrade?
As a shotgun, FP-6 generally is outdone by other SGs even in double SG formations, but she does work decently as a secondary SG tank in prolonged battles. With that said, if you are considering getting an FP-6 you presumably have all the other SGs on this list, at which point you can fill the majority of her niche just fine on your own. As such, the utility of getting FP-6 is likely limited to saving Heavy Production resources for players aiming for a high T-Doll collection percentage.
Saiga is a potent Offensively-oriented SG who also backs that up with above average Armor and solid HP values, with fantastic tile buffs to boot. Saiga is therefore a solid SG pickup, albeit for a niche that is somewhat less used than the other ones above. (Her Skill has some useful quirks - see her Analysis page above for details.)
I don’t have Saiga-12, should I get her?
Yes. Absolutely. Saiga is top of her niche as well (if you disregard the uncraftable Elphelt), and assuming you aren’t bypassing one of the above SGs to pick her up, Saiga is well worth saving yourself the resources.
I have Saiga-12, should I get a dupe?
No. While Saiga is good at her job, you aren’t going to need a second one. If you have advanced enough in the game to be considering using the True Core Mask for a dupe, there are much better options than Saiga.
I have another Doll that fills this niche, is Saiga-12 an upgrade?
Perhaps? In the case of Saiga, get her anyway because SG crafting is a miserable experience.
AA-12 is another offensive SG, whose decent RoF is further boosted by her Skill to enable an incredible albeit delayed burst of damage and knockback. Her special equipment (from Polarized Light ranking) is also a fairly potent tool, though EN will not get that for a long time.
Unfortunately for AA-12, USAS-12 walk all over her in performance thanks to having a much-lower initial cooldown.
I don’t have AA-12, should I get her?
AA-12 is actually a case where there is a serious consideration for picking someone else. She’s not going to revolutionize your Echelons in the way that some other T-Dolls might, and she does not fill an in-demand niche. For this reason, we would recommend against picking AA-12 unless you have filled all other roles, or for waifu/completionist/costume reasons.
I have AA-12, should I get a dupe?
Negative. Just don’t do it.
I have another Doll that fills this niche, is AA-12 an upgrade?
If you made it this far down the Shotgun list, you already have Saiga, so picking AA-12 for her niche isn’t worthwhile. Her primary upgrade is in knockback chance, and how worthwhile this is can be seriously debated. Meanwhile, if you have the above SGs, you could instead be picking up Grape, or M200 for instance.
Strong Niche/Painful Pull rates:
Dolls under this listing offer a potent, even potentially game-changing niche, or have a pull rate from crafting that means you can expect to invest astronomical amounts of resources into acquiring them.
If you are considering these Dolls, it is assumed you already have all the SGs listed above or are not dependent on them to clear content.
Carcano M91/38 (Grape)
Affectionately known as Grape and PurpleCano among many other names, Carcano M91/38 fills a niche that no other Doll can match: non-Elite Mob Deletion.
There's nothing quite as satisfying as her incredible overkill, and that 45x Damage Multiplier is no joke. Hydras and Doppelsoldners are dispatched with ease even when they have some Shielding in place, and she can single-handedly carry Amongst meta-useful Dolls, Grape is a top tier pick, and should not for any reason be overlooked.
A quick note about Grape and Hydras/Gundams: These enemies are coded strangely by MICA and are considered Elites until they have stopped moving at least 1 time. (This is actually true for all mobs but these two are the only ones slow enough to not stop moving ) This can be achieved by kiting, and in some cases, MICA compensated by including enemies that are designed to die instantly and force these units to stop moving and reclassify them. The Hydras on 10-4E however lose this tag instantly instead of stopping.
Grape allows you to corpse drag 10-4E for Cores too, making her a seriously compelling dupe for players who already have her. Her usage will also increase in the upcoming Isomer Ranking and potentially beyond.
Do note that Uhlans are not 45x Damage blasted by Grape, they are considered Elites. Bear this in mind when using her; here's a handy infographic from Arcus explaining what enemies she works against:
I don’t have M91/38, should I get her?
YES. Grape’s potent Skill, somewhat odd tile interaction with M200, and unmatched niche for the active deletion of high priority targets is hard to overstate. Grape is not a cure all for your Doppelsoldner woes, but she goes a long way.
I have M91/38, should I get a dupe?
IF, and only IF you have covered you bases, a dupe Grape is a very useful pickup, as you can drag 10-4E faster, and for easier times with Doppels and upcoming content. Make sure you have filled other important roles before duping. (Don’t be one of the helpers and have 4 Grapes unless you actually know you will use her.)
I have another Doll that fills this niche, is M91/38 an upgrade?
There are dolls that can fill her role somewhat adequately with proper buffers, however, no other Doll can match Grape within it. She is completely unique in what she does and the efficiacy. Get her.
C-MS (or CBJ-MS if you’re a nerd)
Easily one of the most useful main tanks for any situation, C-MS makes a compelling argument as a Core Mask candidate.
With an all-around good statline with decent HP and Evasion, wide tile coverage with a great effect (15% Damage/5% RoF), and a powerful skill that makes her one of the best Evasion SMG tanks in the game (with the crown sadly stolen by Dorothy Haze), she is certainly worth your consideration.
C-MS's skill is a rare mode-switch design, switching to a different ammunition type each time it is activated. At Skill Level 10 on the default setting, C-MS will grant herself a permanent 65% Evasion buff, granting her impressive survivability. The rarely-used Damage setting grants C-MS a mild 85% boost to her Damage, which when combined with her ability to equip AP ammo can let her shred enemies with decent armor but low HP (namely Tarantulas). The Accuracy setting ultimately doesn’t see much use as the Evasion or Damage settings are far more useful.
I don’t have C-MS, should I get her?
C-MS is a very lucrative choice if you are looking for a strong main tank SMG. Her uptime of “basically infinite lul” for any selected setting can grant her incredible endurance on the Evasion setting. Her tile buffs provide a healthy boost to damage with a small RoF increase (Buff those annoying 75 RoF ARs into the next frame!), and her base stats are all-around solid.
I have C-MS, should I get a dupe?
No need. While C-MS is certainly versatile and useful, ARSMG teams are not spammed to the extent they once were, making C-MS dupes not a priority.
I have another Doll that fills this niche, is C-MS an upgrade?
While C-MS can't compete with Dorothy in raw numbers alone, you can actually combine them (provided you toggle Dorothy's mode to provide an evasion buff to C-MS) to give C-MS an insane amount of Evasion. Plus, no one else can equip AP ammo like her.
The resident squirrel, P90 brings with her a complex but powerful Skill, excellent stats, and incredible Tile Buffs to round out the package, making P90 an exceptional Main Tank.
P90’s Skill, Squirrel, is the star of the show, which, after a somewhat long ICD, creates 1 Hologram per Dummy Link in front of P90. These Holograms have 3 HP, and maxed out armor, allowing them to soak up to 15 hits for P90 over the next 3 seconds, provided the enemy does not have Armor Pen. These holograms also interact with shield skills such as Sei. The second part of P90’s Skill is the Arc Shadow effect, which is applied if P90 loses more than 5% health, or when Squirrel activates. Arc Shadow provides a stacking Evasion buff, and a bit of a DPS kick in the form of 4 assured crits.
For a longer more detailed breakdown of P90’s Skill and uses, please see her character page above.
I don’t have P90, should I get her?
If you want another strong Main Tank to field alongside grenadiers, absolutely. While P90 can't stand up against the new enemies with AoE attacks who can instantly wipe out her holograms, other SMGs don't really fare better in that department. P90's raw stats and tiles allow her to hold her own, and her Skill still holds up very well to soak Damage against the vast majority of enemy types.
I have P90, should I get a dupe?
No. While P90 is an excellent Main Tank SMG, AR/SMG teams are not fielded in such quantities that you are likely to need more than one of any given main tank.
I have another Doll that fills this niche, is P90 an upgrade?
WDYM “fills this niche”? As far as P90’s concerned, she is one of the more unique SMGs thanks to her skill, which trivialized the Sangvis Ferri bosses during Isomer Ranking. Other things to mention about her is that while she buffs her own Evasion rather highly, she also produces the holograms mentioned earlier which can tank by themselves under the right circumstances. Considering how none of the Sangvis Ferri bosses fought in Isomer Ranking have link-splashing AoE attacks, you will find yourself able to use her to great advantage.
Other low Craft Rate Dolls:
Dolls under this category may not provide special one-of-a-kind niches that are commonly exploited, though they are quite rare Dolls that can be considered if one has the dolls from both the SGs and the Irreplaceable Niche category.
AK-12 brings in everything you want in a Position 1 AR. With impressive base stats, tiles that provide a healthy amount of damage for Off-Tanks (with some RoF as well for the Direct DPS OT variety), and a powerful skill.
AK-12’s skill, “Eye of the Snow Wolf” can be seen as AK-12’s own Pocket-Ribey that also buffs Crit Rate and has a stronger effect (35% boost to Damage, RoF, Accuracy, and Crit Rate), and high uptime (5s Duration, 8s Cooldown). The one downside with AK-12’s skill is its ICD. At 6s, you would usually want a self-sufficient AR’s skill to go online slightly faster, though this can be seen as a nitpick.
I don’t have AK-12, should I get her?
If you are looking for a powerful AR who puts in work by herself, yes. While the existence of ARs such as K2’s effective 0s ICD (though lacking performance in boss fights and straight up failure against armor) or AR-15 Mod’s… very existence can make AK-12 seem less appealing, she is still a great addition to any AR/SMG team.
I have AK-12, should I get a dupe?
Haha, no. While strong, AK-12 does not bring anything unique enough to warrant raising multiples of her, and the days of deploying AR/SMG teams en masse has since past.
I have another Doll that fills this niche, is AK-12 an upgrade?
Probably? AK-12 is one of the top choices for a Position 1 AR, though, against AR-15 Mod, who is available for free provided you have the memory fragments and cores, AK-12 would not be an upgrade.
AN-94 is an incredibly powerful, though incredibly buff-hungry, multi-hit AR. With base stats on a similar level to AK-12 and a tile buff that provides high coverage and meaningful stats for SMGs, AN-94 is an exceptional generalist AR who will see frequent use for any commander that trains her up fully. AN-94’s Skill sets her apart from the other Multi-hit ARs, and is what makes her hailed as “the better G11”.
- The passive lets her hit any new target twice after her current one is defeated, and contributes an absurd amount of pre-skill DPS if she is able to kill enemies quickly and keep the momentum going.
- Her Active is effectively double damage and has uptime rivaling that of most other self-buffers whose multipliers reached 75% at most.
Compared to G11 whose skill has a short duration of only 4.5s combined with a lengthy Cooldown of 16 seconds. AN-94 has far better skill uptime and can outdamage G11 in both short and long fights, losing only in perfect conditions that let G11 mow down all enemies in one burst.
I don’t have AN-94, should I get her?
If you have the other options listed in the SG/Irreplaceable Niche category, absolutely yes. A properly geared AN-94 can unleash ridiculous amounts of damage (and consistently, too!) that other ARs could only dream of.
I already have AN-94, should I get a dupe?
No. While impressive, AN-94 is not dupeworthy as AR/SMG echelons are not going to be spammed to the point of needing to raise multiples of her.
I have another Doll that fills this niche, is AN-94 an upgrade?
No one really has AN-94's passive, and she's competitive even among burst ARs. Unless you absolutely need G11’s burst and are confident that everything will be dead by that point, you will be better off using AN-94.
The centerpiece of the IWS-Exodia formation (or meme, take your pick), IWS-2000 packs a massive punch thanks to the behemoth +180% Damage boost from her Skill. The downside to this is she takes a 35% hit to her RoF in the process, leaving IWS with an effective overall DPS increase of just over 80%. This means that using IWS as a generalist RF all but mandates dedicated RoF buffs to allow her to fire with any degree of haste.
IWS’s chiefly touted niche was that of a Hydra killer and massive upfront damage numbers. However, with the arrival of Grape and M200, she faces more competition in both these roles, and depending on your point of view can be quite outclassed in them. While the meme of IWS Exodia/Double Jupiter exist, these team compositions have specific uses and they are not to be used as generalized mob clearers.
I don’t have IWS-2000, should I get her?
If you already have the recommended SGs, Grape, P90, C-MS, AK12, and AN94, then yes, IWS can be considered a worthwhile pickup. However, the value she adds to your armory is less than that of the aforementioned collection of Dolls. Also, if you are going to pick up IWS, please do your research on her usage first, she is not a single target win button.
I have an IWS-2000, should I get a dupe?
Nope. IWS-2000 is very good at what she does, but what she does is not in high demand, and she does not perform well in general usage.
I have another Doll that fills this niche, is IWS-2000 an upgrade?
IWS's utility is not replaceable, but what she offers isn't really something suitable for general usage. You pick who you field depending on what you are fighting, and what other units will be deployed alongside them. If you just want to fight standard mobs and have no interest in using IWS to perform incredible deathstack killing feats like the below video, conventional RFs will be far more flexible and reliable.
As her intro implies, Negev is a specialist. A specialist at what you ask? Armor Buffing, and very long MG battles.
Negev’s 20% Armor Tiles are just as good as they sound, making her (for now) a lynchpin of Armor Stacking, doubly so as she can be placed in any of Position 1, 4, and 7 and hit the SG in position 6.
In long battles where her skill can ramp up to 3 stacks thanks to her Skill providing an exponentially scaling Damage buff per reload, Negev's DPS is uncontested. Unfortunately, these fights are far and few in between, and often can be cleared even without Negev. Her last big hurrah was Judge (Chapter 9/10 boss), preceded by the Garm bossfight in Deep Dive ranking. Aside from those battles, Negev collects dust in everyone’s armory.
She will probably see use in the standard Isomer storyline as Judge makes a reappearance, though again, Negev is not a necessity for that battle.
I don’t have Negev, should I get her?
No. Negev is a hyper-specialized MG, with extremely limited use cases, and completely outclassed outside of them. If you have every Doll mentioned prior to this point, including all 5★ SGs, Negev can be considered, but only as a completionist pick, and even then, a dupe of a more useful Doll such as Grape should be considered first.
I have a Negev, should I get a dupe?
NO. Think about the last time you used Negev. Think about the last time you even considered using Negev. Now, look at your Index. Filter by 5★ and look at who's missing. There is your list of reasons not to get a Negev Dupe.
I have another Doll that fills this niche, is Negev an upgrade?
While it can be conceded that Negev’s niche of 3rd Volley and on DPS is unique, that doesn’t make it in demand or useful in 99% of the situations, and planning for that 1% isn’t useful when other T-Dolls can usually step in and do just fine all by themselves.
RF/SMG/AR crafting all have roughly equal resource investment, so, if you have made it to this point without finding a Doll you want or need, the question of what to pick will focus on what holes you have in your armory, so you can patch up your Roster. As such, these overviews will be briefer, and mostly give a summary of a Doll's role and effectiveness.
In the case of RFs, the options are Carcano M1891, M200, M99, NTW-20, Lee Enfield, WA2000, and Kar98k. As a rule, do not pick dupes from this pool.
Carcano M1891, or Strawberry, has a strange skill, and tends to be paired with Python, to exploit Python’s passive. She’s a highly niche pick at the best of times. If you have a targeted usage in mind, she can be considered at this point, but ONLY if you have a targeted usage and plan for her.
M200, EN daughter (not actually a potato), is a potent Doll, putting massive Damage and sure hit attacks downrange. If you made it this far, M200 is a good pick, but she’s fairly common from crafting, so hunt for her during Rate Up first. Putting M200 to use requires a bit of care because her RoF is fixed when using her Skill, meaning she favors Damage Buffs over RoF. Although there is an interesting interaction with the Carcano sisters Buff Tiles that allows M200 to give a seventh time with her Skill active. Pull from rate up, only use your Mask on her if you have filled other valuable niches and M200 refuses to craft.
M99/NTW-20 are big Bamboo type RFs. They have fallen by the wayside in the wake of rising HP values and already niche status. Neither are good picks for the True Core Mask. NTW has her Mod which gives her a bit of a different niche by shortening her ICD, and giving her an extra set of Skillshots after the big cannon shot, letting her destroy a big target, and then chew up the trash afterwards. This is a niche that can be useful, but requires heavy investment (at least a Mod 2) to achieve, and one should be careful with using NTW Mod as an incorrectly built team can backfire and see your Echelon on the receiving end of the slaughter instead.
Lee/WA2000 are the 5★ self buffing RFs, for Damage/RoF respectively. Both are excellent general use RFs, and if you made it this far, they are acceptable picks if you are missing either of them in your armory already and fill all roles listed in the higher priority sections. Bear in mind with WA, you need to watch the RoF of her and her partner otherwise they tend to Corpse Whip wasting some DPS. Lee also receives a Special Equipment from Shattered Conexion Ranking that gives her extra RoF.
Kar98k has a bit of a unique niche in an early 2 shot bamboo RF with a smaller multiplier, aiming for her current target. Thanks to the Bamboo rework, Kar is more useful than she once was, but is somewhat of a niche pick outside of a targeted formation. Because Kar’s Skillshots are aimed at her current target, make sure you keep track of who she’s shooting, to ensure that you blast the target you want, not some poor Strelet. Stop Strelet abuse 2020!
For SMGs not already mentioned, your choices are between Thompson, Vector, MP7, G36c, Suomi, Type 79, SR-3MP, and Type 100. As a reminder: do not pick a dupe!
Thompson and G36c are both Force Shield SMGs. Unfortunately, their skills are on a lengthy 8s ICD, and Force Shield SMGs are rarely deployed unless you will need to survive against massive enemy attacks that appear late into fights. Additionally, both of them have low Evasion compared to other SMGs, so they will likely be taking considerable damage after each fight. As a final nail in thier coffin, the revamped New Player Rewards provide an MP5 partially linked and free of charge. Do not use your True Core Mask for either.
Vector is an amazing molotov Off-Tank SMG with high HP and a great RoF tile for the AR placed behind her. While she performs very well in softening up enemies and leaving them on low HP (or outright killing them if their HP is low enough), she simply is not a hard requirement, nor does she bring anything particularly unique outside of “super high damage molotovs”. In general Vector drops fairly often from SMG crafts, so picking her isn’t a great choice.
Suomi possesses very high base HP, though her Evasion is some of the worst across the entirety of the SMG class (Seriously, MP5’s Speq by itself has more Evasion than Suomi), and her tiles aren’t particularly anything of note. Her Skill provides a fairly large 150% Evasion self-buff, though the 6s ICD means it takes a decent bit of time to get going, and other SMGs would have better effective HP thanks to having their skills up and running faster. Not a priority unless you plan to ruin everything.
Type 79 has high HP and grants a fairly huge 20% FP buff for those affected by her tile buff, and her Skill is a flashbang. That’s… it. She’s almost a flat upgrade to UMP 9, for what that is worth. Oh, and some nice Skins. Do not pick.
SR-3MP (or Shrimp) is one of very few direct DPS SMGs (and is the only one obtainable from productions as of this writing). She has high base HP and FP, tiles with good coverage and effects (18% RoF/30% Crit Rate, though is bested by JS 9 as Shrimp will be unable to buff the AR on Position 1 if she is on Position 8) and a skill that increases her damage by a whopping 260%, a boost that raises her damage about to the level of some ARs if built adequately (this just means giving her a Damage tile from your Position 7 AR, and equipping Shrimp with a well-enhanced ITI MARS and HP Ammo, don’t go crazy with overloading buffs on Shrimp. PLEASE.) Also, DPS SMGs have their damage tied to their links as well, which is something a grenade-based OT doesn’t have to worry about.
Not a great pick with the True Core Mask especially when she drops like candy from 10-4E.
Type 100/100 Shiki
Not even going to try sugarcoating this. Type 100 is absolutely awful. Poor Evasion (even a Speq cannot save her from this fate), tiles that are decent at best but pale in comparison to other SMGs, and a Skill that comes in way too late for what it does. A flimsy shield with a different buff depending on if it survives, with either a 65% Evasion buff (basically C-MS’s default skill, only she would’ve had that buff going for 7-11 seconds before Type 100 could) or an 85% Damage buff (Also what C-MS can do, but C-MS doesn’t need thirteen seconds to go by before she can use it).
MP7 is considered the one who power-crept Suomi, having wider tile coverage to fully support 3AR backlines should you be using them, higher base Evasion, a higher Evasion buff on her skill, and increased move speed with her skill active for faster kiting. However, MP7 should NOT be considered even remotely for your True Core Mask, even with that streak of positivity. The reason for this? MP7 was originally released with Singularity as a farmable drop. Farmable drops that were originally released with the event will remain farmable once the event has entered the Campaign menu. It is likely that sometime within the next two months, Singularity will enter the Campaign menu for EN. So instead of using your core mask on MP7, wait out one or two months for Singu to enter Campaign and farm MP7 that way.
AR’s have the largest pool of 5★ units, as the nominal generalists of GFL. However, as mentioned several times above, AR/SMG compositions are not spammed en massee as they were in the past meaning that you should focus upon having a selection of targeted ARs, tailored for their roles, and less generalist ARs. We can divide ARs into two broad categories. Self Buffing ARs and Grenadiers. By and large, even every AR listed here is unlikely to be an efficient use of your True Core Mask. Should you have made it to this point, either possessing every Doll, or otherwise not wanting to choose from them, you may consider the following information to inform your choices. However, do not, for any reason, pick a dupe AR from this list.
Grenadier ARs include 416, FAL, Zas M21, K11, and ADS.
Self buffing ARs include: G41, Type 95 and 97, RFB, T91, K2, and sorta G11. MDR and 64 Shiki fit this role loosely, as they have conditional behavior based upon the battlefield situation.
416 is not, to her eternal disappointment, all you need. At the moment, she gets laughed at by M4 SOPMOD II Mod, but will become more competitive again after she gets her own Mod in Shattered Connexion, but that is a long way away, and SOP still holds her own. Further, 416 is quite common from production, so do not pick her.
FAL, available either from production or by spending a dollar, earning her some less than flattering nicknames, but she rises above them to provide effective combat performance. Her lower ICD means she fires her grenades earlier than 416 or SOPMOD, in return for lower Damage Multiplier on each grenade. Make note, FAL fires her grenades in sequence, each with separate targeting, so FAL can suffer from triple the Grenade targeting RNG. Keep this in mind. She also comes with full coverage 20% Evasion buffs, and a pet mink. FAL is also a fairly common crafting drop from production. Do not pick her with your True Core Mask.
Zas M21 breaks the traditional mold of grenadiers, as her Grenade fires way earlier, at 4 seconds, has a low Multiplier, 3x, and conditional buffs. Zas is a wonderful farming Doll, thanks to that early Grenade, and the buffs it can provide. Either a debuff to the enemy causing them to take more Damage, or buffing Zas’s own Damage, Zas sits somewhat outside the mold of self-buff ARs, but also on the edge of grenadiers. For the discerning Commander, however, Zas can be put to fantastic use, but she is less plug and play than many of her companions in this regard. Do not pick Zas with your True Core Mask.
K11 is a very potent Grenadier whose Skill also contained a few caveats. Namely, K11’s Skill grows in power based upon how many Dummies she has left. Each Dummy fires a grenade dealing 4x Damage, as well as applying a status to the enemy that causes them to take increased Damage from following grenades. This gives K11 potentially massive Damage potential, at the cost of losing strength if she is injured, suffering from extreme Grenade targeting, and not hitting its stride until K11 is maxed out. K11 is also not a great pick for these reasons.
ADS takes a few cues from Zas, with a 5 Second ICD, a Debuff effect on Grenade hit, but without quite as solid stats to back them up. ADS’s claim to fame is her unique passive effect, Erosion, which reduces the move speed and Rate of Fire to the course of 6% per stack. While this doesn’t sound like much it adds up over time, and when enemies are afflicted by 5 stacks of Erosion, they are stunned, and suffer an explosion that deals 6x Damage. Cool huh? The radius of this explosion is bad, it’s just extra DPS on the primary target.
Erosion is applied at a 40% chance by each normal attack, which is fairly quick thanks to ADS’s solid base 78 RoF, and once ADS’s grenade is fired, for the next 5 seconds, every attack will apply 1 stack of Erosion. ADS’s grenade itself applies 3 Stacks of Erosion to everything in a radius, and an extra 2 to the main target, instantly stunning them and inflicting the explosion effect. As such, ADS can in fact hard CC a single target for 7.2 seconds with enough RoF. While a powerful tool, Elites and Bosses are immune to CC effects so ADS’s performance will highly depend on what she is fighting. Do not pick ADS either.
G41 is considered “the gold standard” of ARs with fairly good base stats, a fair enough tile effect for where she usually is placed, and a reliable, if generic, self damage buff skill. There’s nothing really hidden about G41, what you see is what you get with her. For doing basically nothing special, G41 is not a good pick.
Type 95 possesses high base stats (except for RoF, where she’s mostly average), tiles that have amazingly poor coverage, and a skill with a weaker effect than G41, though with a faster ICD and longer uptime. A third-string Position 7 AR, Type 95 has since fallen to the wayside as she really hasn’t brought anything noteworthy to the table aside from a Speq that you can buy from the Expedition Black Market. For also not doing anything noteworthy and being beaten out by basically any other Position 7 AR, Type 95 is not a good pick.
Type 97 herself was usurped by K2 in spectacular fashion. A Position 1 AR with good base stats, a low ICD RoF self-buff skill, and access to the same Special Equipment that Type 95 also has. Unless the fight is going on to the point where K2 starts debuffing herself heavily, K2 will win out against Type 97 handily. Also, both of them have laughable performance against armor. Due to sheer mediocrity, you guessed it, she is not a good pick.
RFB is a unique take on the self-buff AR, behaving almost like an RF that doesn’t have access to AP ammo with her Skill. Very high Damage and Accuracy (that both get buffed even more with her skill), very low RoF for an AR, and a Skill that, in addition to the already mentioned buffs, changes her targeting to the backline. The backline targeting can help for eliminating threats such as Jaegers behind enemies such as Scouts or Guards, though at a 6s ICD, you wish it went online a bit sooner. While excelling in certain roles and against certain enemies, RFB remains not a priority.
T91 performs about to the level of 9A-91 assuming 9A doesn’t have her special equipment. Considering she takes 105 cores to fully link and 9A-91 only takes 63 (and possibly even less, she is fairly common among 4★ ARs) and that AR/SMG teams aren’t deployed in huge quantities, she is ultimately not a priority.
K2 is basically Type 97 but better in any standard mobbing battle. Think of her as a Muti-hit Position 1 AR with a 0s ICD. K2’s passive mode has her landing three hits per shot with each hit dealing 52% of K2’s damage, meaning an overall DPS increase of 56% for those first 15 shots. Once K2 goes past 15 shots, she begins to debuff herself quite severely if she remains in Passive mode for too long. K2’s active mode gets rid of the burst, but instead a single shot that reduces the overheat stacks from Passive mode and builds in damage each time K2 strikes the same enemy. While this sounds like it would be good for fights such as bosses, her Active mode inflicts a rather heavy Movement Speed penalty, and with most late game bosses making you move both your tanks and DPS around to avoid taking lots of damage, this leaves K2 a borderline sitting duck against future bosses.
Also, as this point really can’t be stressed enough, PLEASE don’t send K2 against armored enemies. The armor penalty will act against all of her shots, which have REDUCED FIREPOWER WHILE GOING TO 15 SHOTS. While she has unparalleled unarmored mobbing potential, though she struggles massively against other enemy types, leaving her not a good pick.
G11, once the queen of multi-hit ARs, has since fallen a few places thanks to an increased prevalence of armored foes (and an overall increase in enemy armor). However, even with these aspects hindering G11’s performance, her burst damage still remains unparalleled against unarmored opponents… If only AN-94 didn’t have a passive skill and far superior uptime. G11 does however have the advantage of a massive 30% Damage tile for what it’s worth, so she can power up the damage of your Off-Tanks should you want to do this (although buffing your actual DPS is more important). Ultimately, unless you somehow have AN-94 but not G11, she is not a good choice unless you need her burst damage.
MDR fills an odd space in the AR world. Her Skill depends on the state of the Tile in front of her. If that Tile is occupied, the Doll in that position will receive an 40 HP shield and a massive Evasion boost. If that tile is empty MDR receives a modest buff to both Damage and RoF for ten seconds. There are a few quirks to this, for instance, if you correctly micro the Frontline, you can give both tanks the Shield and Evasion buff. Alternatively, you can position a Doll on MDR’s tiles, then move them away and let MDR buff herself. Granted, MDR cannot quite stack up to pure self buff ARs, thanks to the more modest nature of her Skills’ buffs. Continuing our trend, MDR is not a good pick.
64 Shiki is...odd. Her Skill is filled with conditionals depending on how many enemies were on the field. When 64 Shiki’s Skill activates she will receive either an Accuracy/RoF (if there are 5 or more groups of enemies on the field) or Damage Buff (less than 5 enemy groups on the field). After 3 seconds, if there are more than 2 groups of enemies on the field, any Dolls on Shiki’s tiles will receive a 25 HP shield. If there are 2 or less enemies, 64 Shiki will buff herself, and the units on her tiles. In theory, Shiki can compete with the best of the best, but the conditionals involved make getting the full use out of her difficult. 64 Shiki is thus unlikely to be a good choice for the True Core Mask.
Machine Guns (MGs)
While MGs may be a good value for in terms of the resource cost, they are not a good return on the investment in any other way. As discussed with Negev above, MGs are not used heavily in the current meta, and very little content requires them, Judge being the primary exception. If you have exhausted every other option on the list to this point, perhaps you can consider an MG, but even then, there is more value in duping certain powerful Dolls than picking an MG at this time (Grape. Dupe Grape before picking MGs.)
Should you be considering an MG, PKP should be picked, or should she already be in your armory, MG5. Do NOT dupe an MG using your True Core Mask.
PKP is everything you want out of a first-volley MG, save for her tiles. PKP’s Base stats are near flawless, with an extremely high 95 Damage, 31 Accuracy, and a decent mag size of 10 (+however much you get from your box).
PKP’s Ultimatum skill grants her a 20% chance to fire an extra shot that always scores a critical hit (at SL10), making her the highest DPS MG by a long shot if you are lucky. In addition, PKP’s extra shots have a chance to crit on themselves, which can increase the damage of that crit to 225% instead of 150% (more with Crit Damage multipliers!). PKP’s tile buff is unfortunately lacking, as while it has high coverage, she lacks the ability to buff Armor, and instead buffs RoF (a near-useless stat for SGs, their RoF is super low already so adding some can work, though not too well) and Accuracy (not bad, but SG hit rate can already be fairly consistent to knock enemies back with a well-enhanced ITI MARS).
I don’t have PKP, should I get her?
If you have gone through the other options on this list and decided you didn’t need them, then sure, go ahead and pick up PKP.
I already have PKP, should I get a dupe?
A few paragraphs ago…
“Do NOT dupe an MG using your True Core Mask.”
I have another doll that fills this niche, is PKP an upgrade?
Considering that PKP is the most powerful first-volley MG on EN as of now, yes. Her Skill may be chance-based, but the odds that you’ll get enough procs of her passive to deal some major damage. Does this make her worth getting with the True Core Mask? Not in the least.
Just up-front: It really isn’t a good idea to use the Mask on a HG, unless you have basically everything else you could want. Yes, some HGs can be really rare, though their rarity doesn’t justify using the Mask on them with how cheap the HG recipe is. While the two HGs that will be discussed provide hard-to-replace utilities, you are far better off saving up a ton of contracts and trying to just craft the HG you want during the Standard Production Rate Up.
For a point of comparison, you can craft dozens of HGs per SG craft, especially if using the cheaper 30x4 recipe to fish for Px4 Storm. Even AR/RF crafts do not have a good rate of exchange, about a 4-1 to HGs, similar for MGs.
A truly shining example of the expression “tiles alone do not make the HG”. Contender is very often idolized by players for her extremely wide tile coverage, her high Damage/Crit Rate buffs from said tiles, and unique (among HGs) ability to equip AP ammo. However, Contender’s skill is what sets her back from actual buffer HGs in the vast majority of fights. (Note that in MG/SG teams, they don’t care much about HG skills, so she is able to be placed there easily thanks to her tiles.) Her skill being a damage vulnerability + retarget on to the enemy that got hit by said skill sounds useful, until one realizes that it has no practical use against standard mobs since the unlucky mob would’ve gotten killed fairly quickly (hopefully) without use of her skill. In addition, her retargeting ability only affects the standard targeting of T-Dolls, so if there is a Doll in the echelon who operates on non-standard targeting (examples include: M200 (skill active), AUG (skill active), Kar98k (with skillshots), IWS (ALL THE TIME) they will ignore Contender’s retargeting.
About Gunboats: Yes, Contender is usable as a buffer/Typhon Killer in Gunboats, however, Gunboats are deployed in EXTREMELY limited quantities when there are very specific enemies on the field, and she is far from a hard requirement unless you are forced to use the 4MG+Contender type of Gunboat. Players have made fully functional Gunboats using Dolls such as SR-3MP, C-MS, Thunder .50, AUG, and more, provided they had sufficient buffs from their fairies (3★+ for most popular statsticks).
I don’t have Contender, should I get her?
Nope, unless she’s the one 5★ you’re missing to complete your collection and you didn’t get her from your Rate Up contract spam. Your Core Mask is better used elsewhere.
I have a Contender, should I get a dupe?
Extra NO. If you are going to spend your True Core Mask, please for the love of anything do not use it on an HG. W H Y W O U L D Y O U D U P E H E R???
I have another Doll that fills this niche, is Contender an upgrade?
Good, you farmed a Python, she's armed with basically the same tiles, and is just flat better.
Contender’s primary niche these days is her retargeting, which sees limited value given current content.
Another HG commonly glorified for her tile buffs (though with a far more noteworthy skill), Px4 can do something unique to only her and Jill (though with Jill only available for those who completed E1-8 of the Valhalla collab). Px4’s 50% Crit Damage buff (at the cost of losing 20% Crit Rate for said dolls who received the Crit Damage buff, which is MULTIPLICATIVE, NOT ADDITIVE.) can be an amazing DPS boost in the right circumstances, especially for RFHG teams where they will have an innate boost to Crit Damage thanks to capes. However, Crit Damage buffs only apply when a crit is landed, which means access to fully enhanced (and calibrated) gold Crit Scopes AND an external source of Crit Rate (commonly Five-seveN, though other options are definitely available) is necessary for those who are looking to get the most out of Px4. In addition, Crit Damage is calculated after armor is applied, and while RFs can largely negate this with AP ammo, this can prove detrimental for ARs against foes with heavy armor, as they would have been better with traditional Damage buffs.
Useful for: Buffing Crit Damage and being the bane of #ask-help’s existence since September 2019
I don’t have Px4 Storm, should I get her?
For similar reasons as Contender, No. Perhaps even more so, as Px4 can be obtained from even the minimum possible recipe of 30/30/30/30. If you want Px4 that bad, just spam 30x4 ad infinitem .
I have a Px4 Storm, should I get a dupe?
NO! Next question.
I have another Doll that fills this niche, is Px4 Storm an upgrade?
Px4’s niche of Crit Damage buffer is hard to replace, to be certain, but she is not worth a True Core Mask, understand?
Hopefully, this document arms you with the knowledge to put your True Core Mask to good use (Don't pick an HG please), or at the very least, what not to do.
This Guide was written in collaboration with General BLT #8675 and UMP45 [Docanon222]#0220, a major thanks to both of them for their help and hard work on this.