Summer 2019 - Tier List Change Log

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Finally, the Tier List Change Log is here, and all the Servants are placed into the Tier List at last. That certainly took a while did it not? Since we've received a fair amount of comments, here, in the feedback, or elsewhere about why it wasn't updated - the reason is far more simple than you might expect: between illness (the European heat wave did not help) and various travelling schedules among the team, we barely got all the content out in time. Ideally, the Tier List would have been updated a week ago, but alas.

But it's back to normal, as the avalanche of content the last few days hopefully attests to, and we have got 8 Servants to assess here. For now, we'll only explore our thoughts on the Summer Servants and not the Tier List as a whole. There's an upcoming gap in new Servants after Summer Part 2 as we dive into Nero Fest Challenges and lottery shenanings, which makes it a perfect time to implement some of the changes we've been talking for a while about (at last!). In addition, we have a few changes to make with older Servants that are a better fit elsewhere. 

Anyway, let's get started on the swimsuits. If you have thoughts, feedback or ideas you would like to share on any Servant placement, feel free to drop a comment on the Change Log discussion thread

4 Star Tier List Changes

Placed into Tier 2:

With only a minor loss in NP damage compared to Santa Alter, Ishtar makes up for that in better skills that improves everyone's regular performance, her own Critical Potential and a double heaping of hard survival. In addition she provides a welcome amount of Quick Support, with the interaction of her NP Gain and Quick buff making her more potent than she looks at first glance especially for Servants with silly Quick cards like Jack, Kintoki or Okita. That she can AoE Farm with a Kscope and still buff the team is always a big plus.

Still, she has got really schizophrenic NP gain, with a simply awful Quick card. Plus, her survival and critical potential is a bit iffy to use when they compete in timing and potentially stuns. For such a solid performance though and the benefit of welfare NP5, we decided to put her into Tier 2.

Placed into Tier 2:

While Fran may be a bit tricky to use, this utterly-relatable-Servant-after-that-massive-heat-wave has some downright absurd NP Spam capabilities once she really gets going. Timing her super Galvanism requires some good predictions, and having 10% NP Gauge ready, but with some extra support (Quick buffs!) she can certainly launch that NP again soon with all the same buffs still active. 

That aspect will only age better and better as better Quick Servant Supports are released, and she still packs some neat utility as her NP spam can stunlock to a certain extent all the while her Attack Down removes buffs. 

She is a bit fragile though given her demerits, and using her at NP1 can feel limiting (can't easily cast Galvanism at 100% NP Gauge), which makes her a little bit harder to use than Tier 1 Servants. After all, we do assess all Servants at NP1. As such, we feel Tier 2 fits her best for now. 

Placed into Tier 4:

If only Nitocris's entire kit was as good as the offensive buffs on her third skills. In the end, she has a few powerful skills that don't synergize particularly well with what she is trying to do. Her NP refunds fairly well, but then has Instant Kill chance. Any instantly killed enemies do not offer any additional hits at all and seemingly serve just to neuter her refund potential. 

Thus, while she can help the team with a Taunt and provides some steady NP Gain with her third skill active, she doesn't offer enough support to be a support, nor enough damage potential to truly either farm well or perform strongly in difficult content. Instead, she Medjeds somewhere inbetween. 

Unfortunate, because Nitocris is clear Tier EX mater--- , I mean, her gameplay value limits her to Tier 4

Placed into Tier 2:

The first of the more divisive placements within the team as a whole. One our colleagues uses her for almost anything, swearing by her NP Gain and overall kit, while other find her simply an average Servant with relatively low damage outside of her Anti-Divine/Burning Field niche. 

Her sustained potential is impressive though, with some useful support, very low cooldown Critical steroid (that synergizes amazingly well with everyone overworked shut-in) and Hard survival to boot. In addition, there are many Servants with Divinity as a passive and anti-Divinity is one of the best traits to have, especially on a Berserker. 

Thus, she squares off well with a Servant like Berserker of El Dorado (they support each other well too), providing the sustain to her more one-shot nature. Tier 2 fits her well. 

Placed into Tier 4:

With one staff member being a raging Helena enthusiast, the following PSA must be made:

"Despite being super cute and amazing and clearly the best Servant in the game...," 

ahem...Helena (Archer) is unfortunately one of the weakest Servants in this batch of Summer Servants. With NP Gain completely centered around her 2 Arts cards, and a QQAAB deck, damage simply isn't what she excels at. She packs some useful utility, but her main support is only her teamwide NP Gauge boost and some minor stargen/NP debuffs. Thus, unlike her Caster counterpart she does not mix the support and damage-dealer roles well, as her NP Damage is far from good enough to compete with some of the awesome Archers available (of which there are many). 

Still, despite the usual atrocious cooldown of Mana Tuning, it IS still a teamwide NP Charge. And if any Master does not own one of those, she is still amazingly valuable for all sorts of farming. That value alone makes her incapable of being a Tier 5 Servant, as we cannot assume all Masters own one of those. Helena (Archer) thus shoots herself into Tier 4, but her value may be lessened if Masters own other NP Gauge Boosting Servants. 

Placed Into Tier 1:

Did balance between Servants get chucked out the window during her release?

Why did they stick so many passives into that kit, including Madness Enhancement? Why is her 40%(!) Buster targetable and with a debuff cleanse while Kiyohime (Lancer) has a 30% Buster buff for the same duration? Why is her Stargen buff for all targets and not just male? Why is her effective steroid-level, even without her Critical buff, at a high 68% and it's even targetable? What is that absurd, First Hassan-level Arts cards doing there!? What is...

Rant aside, Raikou (Lancer) is simply a great Servant who can support well (especially during raids where one needs that cleanse!), critically hits extremely hard from the multiplication of all her buffs, can potentially make those stars herself and still has a hard-hitting NP. In addition, she has Defense Pierce and overall good NP Gain (although her Quicks are a bit average more than good). 

She does lack survival, and she is a bit more reliant on good card draws than the average Servants, but she is extremely stellar as a Servant especially at NP1. For optimized play she does lack an NP Charge, but we cannot hold that against her really. A great addition to Tier 1

5 Star Tier List Changes

Placed into Tier 2:

Whether Nero ought to be placed into Tier 1 or Tier 2 really tends to come down to how much value one places on farming capability. The team was somewhat fractured in whether her overall kit fits in better with Tier 1 vs Tier 2, but we went with Tier 2 in the end. 

Nero packs some delicious farming potential though, with very strong Arts cards, 50% NP Charge, multiple self-buffs and even the potential to buff another with her massive Attack steroid. Thus, Nero is also an ideal candidate to clear out a 2nd wave and prop up the main AoE DPS for the final wave. Next to that, her defensive performance is okay, with a nice niche in being very tanky against Berserkers. 

Still, her akward cooldowns and AoE NP are often less ideal in CQ situation, and she is still a Caster with all the various demerits that class has such as a general lower Attack and a 0.9x modifier. Her ST performance isn't as good as Sanzang and Ilya, but she makes a decent substitute especially for an upcoming murderous CQ at Nero Fest. Nero this fits in well at Tier 2.

Personal note: Some Servants tend to offer, what can only be described as, "Quality of Life" improvements. These Servants, such as Arash, Nitocris, Francis Drake, Waver, etc. are those who make life much easier when going about the daily grind. Nero Claudius (Caster) is one such Servant as her ability to speed up farming is one of the best around - even in class neutral situations. 

Placed into Tier 3:

The other more contentious placement - is she more fit for Tier 3 or Tier 4? 

On the one hand, she has an utterly absurd amount of personal steroids, pushing her raw non-trait dependent NP Damage at the very top of the table even at NP1. In fact, she nearly outdamages Kintoki at NP5 at maxed skills, and will outdamage him if her third skill is double stacked. In addition, she packs some supports and can function (eventually with Skadi) as a decent Critical Servant. Her passives are excellent for a Rider after all. 

But, her NP Gain on her Quicks unfortunate as it makes her difficult to support properly. In addition, she already has various holes in her kit (survival, NP charging, more stargen/crit buffs) that she'd like others to fill up. Her non-NP damage is also nothing truly terrific. 

Thus, Maid Alter has great potential, and cooldown reduction is rather unique. Being among the best at something, even if pulling it off can be a bit gimmicky at times, is also rather nice. She fits well in Tier 3.5 so to speak, but we've ultimately nudged her more towards Tier 3 based on consensus. Besides, with Skadi coming out in the future - a bump up would've been inevitable. 

Tier Explanations

The explanation button on the Tier List brings up a personalized explanation on why we placed a Servant in the Tier that they are in. For the Agartha release we added the following Tier List Explantions:

With strong NP Damage from her various Quick boosts, Ishtar packs a strong NP5 welfare punch even amongst the crowded Rider Welfare Servant list. Yet, it's her combination of this AoE damage, critical potential, hard survival and good all-around teamwide support that elevates her from middle of the pack to a great pick. Sadly, her poor Quick card performance and resultant NP Gain does hold her back a bit from being among the cream of the crop. 

Frankenstein (Saber) packs both strong base NP Gain performance, good hit counts and an utterly amazing NP Gain boost. Her NP spam potential, especially under the influence of Quick Performance buffs and good card draws, is excellent and her own 3-turn steroids ensure each NP in that 3-turn window seriously hurt. In addition, she packs some ever-useful utility in a targeted buff removal, all the while her NP spam has serious stun-lock potential. 

Still, her various demerits and difficulty using Galvanism optimally at NP1 hold her back a bit, but she's a stellar Quick Servant that will only see her performance become stronger and stronger as better Quick supports arrive. 

With decently strong individual skills, Nitocris (Assassin) ought to be much stronger than she actually is. Without her third skill up, her NP Gain is rather weak, while her AoE farming potential is hamstrung by her Instant Death capability indirectly reducing its hit count and thus refund potential. Her defensive nature is still fairly useful with a Taunt always being a welcome addition, especially to help her gain a bit more NP Gauge to launch her NP with. Her lack of synergy between her skills reduces her potential, but she is still a decent Arts Assassin otherwise. 

With excellent hit counts on her Buster cards, her NP Gain potential is rather good. Factor in her teamwide support, very short cooldown Critical steroid (that synergizes extremely well with Buster Critical supports like Merlin), and decent survival for a Berserker, and Nobunaga's kit works very well as a sustained offensive Buster Berserker.  In addition, she has a wide niche in anti-Divinity bonus damage. 

Still, her pure damage performance by herself is rather lackluster, being dependent on supports to bring her up to par with competing Berserker. Plus, charging her NP Gauge does often mean making use of an ABB chain, which does a fair bit lower damage without the Buster start. Nonetheless a great Berserker for any piece of harder content if provided with the Buster Critical supports. 

With difficulty charging her NP bar, with only her good Arts cards to save her, and a terrifyingly long cooldown on Mana Tuning, Helena Blavatsky (Archer) is mainly suited as a support in situations where her teamwide NP Charge is essential to clearing a quest quickly. Her ability to still launch a damaging NP and charge NP Gauges is especially valuable to Masters without any other sources of teamwide NP Gauge boosting. 

Still, her NP Damage is among the weakest of her rarity and her utility, while useful, limits her overall support potential to mainly her NP Charge. A useful farming Servant for sure, but she lacks the enduring performance expected of higher Tiers. 

With a kit overloaded with powerful passives, multiple skill effects and an overpowering Defense-piercing NP, Raikou (Lancer) is at the very forefront of 4* Servants. With an utterly impressive Arts card, strong, even self-sustained to a dgeree, Critical potential, strong sustained damage and even extremely viable targetable Buster support, Raikou can practically do all offensive roles. 

Still, she is not perfect. She lacks any survival skills whatsoever, and she is fairly draw dependent when it comes to unleashing her full damage potential or charging her NP Gauge with that bonker single Arts card. Either way, she has a firm hold here with an unanimous placement into Tier 1 as her performance at NP1 is exceedingly powerful. 

Nero Claudius(Caster) is strong overall Servant, but excells especially in her role as farming Servant. With a 50% NP Charge, a powerful targetable steroid, 2 Buster cards, high NP Gain, and multiple steroids to buff herself with, Nero Claudius has all the essential components for an ideal farming Servant. However, even outside of farming her performance is strong, with nice defenses against counter-class enemies, Pierce Invincibility on NP and two exceedingly powerful Arts cards to charge her NP Gauge with.

Still, her unsynced cooldown limit her a bit, while her overall survability competes with applying her steroids for offense. In addition, her damage ceiling does suffer from being placed in the relative offense-unfriendly Caster class. Regardless, Nero Claudius (Caster) adds great quality of life to any Master.

With what can only be described as ludicrous speed damage potential on her NP, Maid Alter's single target NP Damage stands amongst the highest of all Servants outside of anti-trait shenanigans. In addition, she packs rare targetable cooldown reduction and some Quick support for her allies, while her critical capability is rather decent given her passives. 

It's a good thing she criticals easily, as her NP Gain is rather middling, with her Quick cards being rather weak. Her sustained damage is likewise on the weaker side, relying on her NP to do the heavy lifting. Along with her lack of survival, Maid Alter is thus difficult to support properly, especially without Skadi to improve her performance. Yet, her placement may yet improve when Quick supports become more readily available.