The Modern Magus Magazine
So, the New Year comes in with a nice, gentle start, by simply killing a meme. To be honest, I was somehow expecting it to be longer before we got a fellow Pretender to join Oberon in his class roster.
And Hephaestion is basically the most suitable canon Servant out there to fill in, so you’ll hear no complaints from me.
This is entirely tangential to the actual MMM, but El-Melloi Case Files is basically my favorite spin-off to the Fate series, encapsulating the cutthroat and intriguing environment of Magi that Clock Tower creates rather finely. And it also has Reines in it, which automatically earns bonus points. So watch it / read it / whatever you prefer when you get the chance. It has its own Seal of Approval from me.
Boy, don’t you hate it when your boyfriend’s sister dresses up like you to redirect curses from you because the King of Conquerors has that much of a target on their head, but they still don’t like you as much as your totally-homo “best friend”?
Regardless of how amusing the lore setup to Hephaestion’s existence as a girl basically dragging the discount store Iskandar skillset is, having any extra Pretender in the game is nice. And her inclusion also ushers in some pretty nice NP buffs to Reines and Gray, which I’m frankly more excited for, somehow.
|Base Atk||1,646||Base HP||1,786|
|Max Atk||9,879||Max HP||11,168|
|Grail Atk||11,961||Grail HP||13,541|
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Being the first entry into the SR Pretenders lineup, there’s sadly not much to be done for comparisons against her class competition - after all, there’s only one of them. However, in general for a 4* Servant Hephaestion packs a good, offensive statline - anything nearing 10k Attack is high for her rarity, and her HP in turn is reasonably good considering her offensive presence.
Inarguably more interesting, however, is Hephaestion’s passive lineup. With no real class skills for the Pretender class, this area is basically a free-for-all design-wise, and it really shows. With high-ranking Independent Action and Territory Creation, she gets a moderate boost to both her Critical Damage and Arts cards, combined with Disguise Creation B, giving her a passive 10% Critical Resistance and Stargen buff, she has some very respectable boosts spread around her statline. The Critical Resistance in particular is quite nice to prevent any nasty surprises, even if it doesn’t fully prevent criticals from most enemy types (as typically the critical chance ranges from 10-15%).
Lastly, is ???. Yup, following Oberon’s stead Hephaestion also has a spoiler-guarded skill which I cannot call by name for now. Regardless, it’s a very neat 10% NP Power buff, meaning she’s already getting a notable boost to her NP’s damage just from the baseline.
All in all, Hephaestion has a very strong start to her statline.
So, how does Hephaestion fare in practice? On one hand, she’s built up steam and all ready to chug along:
However, she can also find herself rapidly derailed when she hits a bend:
So far as the real, permanent introduction to the Pretender class goes, not cursed by the despair of a limited banner or the SSR pull rate, Hephaestion is far from a bad start. She’s simplistic, sure, but simplicity is her weapon to bear like a sword and cut the knot of this game’s rock-paper-scissors class triangles, paving way to an actual option to handle Alter Egos.
Being a looping-focused Arts ST Servant with a very clean, damage-focused kit and a nutty gauge charger certainly helps in that, but she honestly could’ve distributed some of the raw offensive power in her kit into more generalistic supportive or utility effects and she would’ve accomplished the same effect - you wanna take down an Alter Ego? Bring Hephaestion. You wanna bring down any of the 7 OG classes except Rider or Assassin? Hey, she can do that too. In fact, she’s a rather convenient tool for the lazy player in us all that hates swapping around team formations to match class advantage, though Berserkers still do it better.
So yes, she’s very solid, if not anything to write home about. Just the fact she can pop up randomly in your pulls in the future to fill out your class options sells her better than most of her actual gameplay power, so it’s very good to have her around. Rath™ Seal of Approval.
The thing they don’t tell you when I write MMM’s about any Foreigner-Alter Ego-Pretender triangle Servant is I have to constantly double-check the class advantage between the three, since I keep getting it wrong. But I was prudent…this time.
I suppose since it isn’t in my tradition to dedicate whole sections to Servant buffs, I will just add that the buffs to Reines and Gray both are fairly impactful for them - I believe Gray’s 10% gauge charger post-NP theoretically allows her to NP loop now (Kaleido+Mana Loading, double Koyanskaya of Light into Oberon battlesuit swap just barely gets her there), which is a solid win for the welfare Assassin farming meta. Kiichi Hogen worked but…well, Quick farming can be annoying depending on your offensive option.
And Reines is now essentially a competitor to all NP refund-based farm loops, and in some situations is actually superior to Skadi (at least, I believe if damage output can be sacrificed a little, Skadi+Reines is now better than double Skadi). And I’m all for evening out the SSR support balance a little more.
…So, when is Merlin getting that Hero Creation strengthening, huh?
I’m not even kidding, he could kind of do with another gauge charger.