- A strong support who can carry you through challenges?
- A limited servant, so you should roll for him now?
- The subject of many memes?
If so, that's not your man, but Buster Meme Superstar Merlin's Sweet Buffs!
The much awaited Merlin has arrived! If you thought Zhuge Liang (El Melloi II) was overpowered, this guy has some news for you.
Since Merlin is perhaps one of the most polarizing characters, we thought it would be best to get the viewpoints of all the different staff members on him so people can better form their own opinions.
The Great Merlin Debate
NorseFTX: “Never rolled Merlin myself, but every time I come across a difficult quest, I look for him on my Support list. Even if I’m not a big fan of his personality (being a frequent liar), he’s so useful that I’m willing to tolerate him. The total number of times I have watched Garden of Avalon is probably several hundred or maybe even thousands of times. He keeps everyone alive in teams that want to stall, and he increases damage output for teams that want to smash, especially Buster crit teams.”
“I wish Merlin didn’t exist because he broke the game.”
Rath: “Merlin is one of those servants you never realized you were so dependent on them until they’re gone. He provides the three fundamentals of supporting - Hard defense, Sustain, and Offensive buffs. Few other servants will ever provide the same level of support in the package he does.
That said, there’s still some level of skill to using him - with NP gauge drain effects in your party it’s possible to use Illusion on turn 1 to nullify a round of damage and plaster the enemy with that nasty Critical Rate Down debuff, then have it back up in time to block an NP. Hero Creation’s Max HP buff is also overlooked, but it can actually be the turning point in hp for some servants to survive AOE NPs if they have class advantage. When Illusion’s on cooldown, don’t give up! Throw Hero Creation on the person with the most HP before Merlin gets crushed and maybe they can compensate where he’s failed.
Also 1st ascension sprite is the best, objectively. The less of his smug mug we see, the better.”
Chris: “My favorite thing about Merlin is that he allows otherwise-overlooked Servants to shine. In my case, this Servant is Altria Lancer, whose damage potential pre-Merlin was pretty low… With Merlin, she can now deal delicious crit damage, and her NP spam becomes more potent as well.
...On the other hand, a piece of me does hope that he had never existed, as this capability also takes away a lot of Servants’ uniqueness, and the content powercreeping resulting from his release makes a lot of fun (and previously viable) strategies obsolete.”
Haku:"I'll never forgive Merlin for showing up on cue when my brother smugly did a Mickey Mouse dance and told me that he'd summon Merlin right then and there. And for making many future challenge quests specifically designed to gimp him hurt other casters. And for his lack of defense buffs. And for being hard to cosplay well with his ridiculously fabulous and floofy hair.
That being said, I do appreciate how much he trivializes some challenge quests with his multi turn sustain, full-party invincibility, and ability to enable high burst. And his ability to enable high damage farming on some Buster servants. And how he always shows up on my friends list when I need him, except for that one time of greatest need (for farming efficiency). And for that glorious, smooth voice from the King of Mentor Characters, Takahiro Sakurai. Mmm.
Sizzle: “Wow, it seems Merlin has some bad juju coming his way from the writing staff. I’m rather fond of the fluffy cretin, even if he tends to define a lot of the upcoming boss content. Luckily, support Servants like Merlin and Waver simply improve other Servants, so rather than hog all the attention they sit in the background and let your favourite Servants do their thing more easily. There are far worse possibilities when it comes to powercreep, if we really want to take that angle.”
“Still. Merlin will be everywhere, joining Waver in the Caster tab. Even worse, those fortunate/rich people who rolled them both might show the two of them in the ALL and Caster tabs.”
“While others have talked about his performance in hard content, his farming performance is actually a different sort of support flavor. He provides less immediate NP gauge boosting opportunities than Waver, which can slow you down during events or if you're missing Kaleidoscope. The bottleneck in farming speed is often simply the time in which NPs can be charged rather than damage. However, he's fantastic for Free Quests that do require high damage to clear. Take Babylonia’s Lighthouse Free Quest, where the final wave has two high HP Sabers. An Illusion-infused (star gen) high hit count Archer NP in wave 2 sets up a Buster Archer perfectly to evaporate the crabs in the final wave. ”
“The upcoming 2 years will be mostly defined by Merlin, but eventually he takes a bit of a backseat when it comes to clearing stuff as quick as possible. It’s usually more useful to either provide more NP gauge via Waver or a certain future Quick Support, or to create a situation in which a Quick or Arts NPs can refund themselves.“
Ceui: “There are three Servants in the entirety of FGO so far (including JP) that I would consider a Quality of Life Improvement. By having them, they reduce the real time you need to spend on quests in FGO and as a result, you have time to actually have a life and go outside. Or worse, to spend time in another gacha game. They are Zhuge Liang, Merlin and Scathach - Skadi.
There is little that needs to be said about why Merlin is so strong and what makes him so strong. He is simply the pinnacle of Supports in the game, plain and simple, who pushes the boundary of so many Servants to unmatched heights that they could only dream of. I used to convince myself that I could just borrow my friend’s Merlin so i could stop putting him in my line up once in a while, but too much power does corrupt and I am too weak to resist the temptation.
As an abuser of Merlin and Zhuge Liang for the past 2 years and currently a dirty Skadi farming lucksack, I can certainly vouch that having this unholy trinity of OPness has allowed me to actually have a girlfriend for once, because I don’t have to spend 5 minutes on each quest anymore on each event. 10/10 best wingman.”
Hitter: “Some people tend to downplay Merlin, but trust me, in my opinion, he is the “end all be all” support Servant in the sense that if you build your team around him, you’ll likely never need another support (barring those very obscure challenge missions which make it a point to actually target Merlin users).
He’s perfect for both offensive teams and defensive teams. Merlin+Waver+Buster Servant will generally outpace opponents for most of the battles you’ll face, while Merlin in a defensive lineup will make you outlive everyone. He does have some drawbacks, but they’re laughable compared to his strengths. Don’t get me started with double-Merlin comps...”
Soren: “There’s a lot of things people (including the rest of the staff) say about Merlin. Ignore all of those things. They’re not relevant. I’m going to teach you the true secret of Merlin right here. Are you ready? Ok.
Press skill 3 on DPS hit red card see big numbers pop up monkey brain likey.
Welcome to FGO enlightenment. Also it’s fun to watch Fou beat him up.”