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MMM - Contrarian Cupid Called Caren Carouses Cascade of Chocolates, Callously Cold-Shouldering Caliginous Chap (Valentines 2021)

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The Modern Magus Magazine

Let me tell you, the Fuyuki crew has appeared in full force this year. First Muramasa makes his long-awaited arrival with all the impact an insanely good Arts farmer can, and now we’ve got the youngest member of the Kotomine family showing up to do what their namesake does best - troll the everloving hell out of people.

...except not, since she’s a demi-Servant with an actually pretty nice God inside. So much that pretty much all the cynicism and snark inside Caren got replaced with fervent devotion to her faith and love.

Normally I’d call that sickeningly sweet, but it’s Valentines, so it gets a pass. Damn normies.

NA Release Date: 02/2023
Introduction

But hey, she’s still got her pantless outfit, so the old Caren is in there somewhere.

Servant Data
Ruler

5

5
Item Construction A

Increase your Debuff Chance Rate by 10%.

Independent Action A

Increase your Critical Strength by 10%.

Masochistic Spiritualist Disposition EX

Decrease own Debuff Resist by 20% [Demerit].
Increase own ATK by 20% when debuffed.

Core of the Goddess B

Apply Damage Plus (Total Card Damage +225).
Increase Debuff Resist for yourself by 22.5%.

Ironclad Faith A

Immune to [Terror] and [Fascination] debuffs.
Increase own Buster Resist by 10%.

Overview

So far as base stats go, Caren is pretty in-line with most Rulers. Possessing the beautiful combo of an offensively-focused Ruler, her HP stat is fairly high, but even higher due to her inherent defensive class advantage, while her Attack stat gets significantly boosted by the inherent Ruler class attack multiplier, making her offensively quite powerful. While not as good as Holmes on the offensive front, Caren actually has an offensive NP, allowing her to leverage her strong fighting power more effectively.

She’ll still crumple like paper versus Avengers, so try not to do that. Not that I absentmindedly took QSH into the Kagekiyo challenge quest last event or anything. Nope.

On the passives front, Caren somewhat unsurprisingly has the carte blanche of whatever random skills seem fitting for her character, hitting every single Class Skill except for y’know, Magic Resistance. I thought that was a Ruler Class Skill?

Starting with the ones we all know, Caren has Item Creation, Independent Action and Goddess Core. The boost to debuff success rate helps since, well, she has a number of debuffs, a boost to critical damage output is always nice, especially on a Quick-oriented Servant, and Goddess Core brings its usual package of small regular card damage boosts and big Debuff Resistance buffs. Well, except the latter is kind of moot:

First of Caren’s unique passives is Masochistic Spiritualist Disposition. Those who have read HA will know this as the thing that makes her start coughing up blood when she’s near demons, essentially acting as a radar for them by ‘empathising’ with the possessed victim’s condition. In game, this takes away almost all of the debuff resistance Goddess Core grants, while also giving her a passive 20% attack buff while she’s inflicted with a debuff. That’s...surprisingly helpful. I’d probably prefer just having EX Magic Resistance for the traditional nigh-immunity to debuffs, but extra damage is also cool, even if it may be tricky to trigger.

...is what I would say, but as it turns out, the Avenger passive that, well, Avengers have, as well as Black Grail actually apply invisible debuffs to those affected. For Avengers, this even works from the backline. So, if you want Caren to just always be 20% stronger offensively at no cost, slot Angra in the back row. Now isn’t that thematic.

Second on the unique passive list is Ironclad Faith. Providing her with Immunity to Terror (The Abigail / Gilles / Van Gogh-chan Stun debuff) and Fascination (Summer Kiara’s exclusive debuff), it gives her an odd niche to avoid getting stonewalled by some debuffs. On top of that, it grants her a passive Buster Resist...making her, so far as I know, the only playable Servant to have Card Resist Up in her kit? I may be forgetting someone.

So on the whole, Caren has some solid base stats and a collection of good passives to further augment her abilities.

NP Generation
Servant Skills
Noble Phantasm
Conclusion

So how is the Love God-turned-Goddess actually? Wait, why does that sound oddly familiar…

In any case, on one hand, Caren has her role entirely under wraps:

This lady has some pretty fine team support. And she’s meant to be a farmer. Skill-tied team Invincible, multiple NP gauge drains, a taunt, a team NP gain buff (except self), and a fairly good attack down and defense down debuff combo is nothing to scoff at. Then again the debuffs provided by her NP. Caren is solidly in the position of an offensive Servant who trades raw power for supportive ability, but the payoff is more than worth it when put in practice.

If it weren’t clear enough already, Caren can farm. For more damaging setups, it requires her to jump through a few hoops, but facts are facts, and people die when they are killed. It’s Tautology in action. While it’s not like Quick as an archetype were begging for class-neutral Quick farmers when Zerkerlot, Dantes, and Voyager have been around for ages, but Caren does comparatively bring more flexibility in setup due to her gauge chargers, on top of much better Challenge Quest performance, especially when Skadi’s own support can sometimes be lacklustre in such scenarios.

Defensively Caren practically has the entire team covered by herself. Both her taunt and team Invincible buff provide a safety net for both herself and her teammates, not even accounting for what said (likely supportive) teammates can provide themselves. While recent trends in DW accounting for Casturia’s impenetrable Invincible buff has made Invincible Pierce more prolific, Caren herself has means to soft counter the effect, in way of the Buff Negation on her NP, assuming the incoming enemy NP applies Invincible Pierce before damage.

However, she’s also crippled by her inherent flaws, something something Angra sex joke:

On the farming and CQ front both, it’s natural that Caren is good, but usually far from the best option. While I’d normally say “such is the curse of the universal farmer”, it rings a little harder for Caren since Mooncancer is super rare to see, not even just in AOE quests. When Caren isn’t providing the best damage in a less ideal class, more often than not her farming or CQ deployment may come more to ease of use or laziness than actually using the best option. Believe me, I do that already with Space Ishtar.

Caren overall is something of an odd case where, if she were in a different class, even if just Avenger for the higher attack and slightly more common class advantage, she’d be a much stronger competitor in the grand scale of the game. If we got this kit on a Berserker she’d be among the new farming gods, I guarantee. But that’s largely speaking from a farming perspective.

The defensive benefits of Caren’s Ruler class can pay out in spades for challenge quests, it’s the same reason QSH is such a valued clutch backline Servant - the fact he can be used almost anywhere. Likewise, Caren packs strong enough offense and versatility to be applied to almost any farming and CQ content, outside of the rare exceptions she lacks the damage output necessary, and can’t use Black Grail to patch it up. If a few places on the universal farmer ladder is the cost for being one of the safest AOE damage dealers for harder content in the game, I’d say it’s a pretty even trade.

She’s a good lil’ babe. Rath™ Seal of Approval, with a recommendation.

Outro

Valentines if often nice, if only for the fact I have one Servant to cover. I wouldn’t want to fulfil Waver’s long-time dreams and die of overwork myself, after all!

Throwing typical cynical single anime nerd snark aside, I hope everyone reading has a wonderful Valentine's Day with those you cherish, even if said people aren’t in your romantic scope.

Yes, I mean waifus and Vtubers. Outside of tricking them to accept being your wife through Superchats, it isn’t happening. But still, it’s fine to appreciate and enjoy the time you spend with said digital personalities, even if they’re sardonic nuns-turned-goddesses, drug-dealing dragons, lewd beyond belief, or a beheaded eldritch being slowly awaiting the day to reclaim your body and channel in the name of revenge and cooking spiders.

...okay, maybe I’m being too specific there. Until next time.

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