Arjuna spooks have long been a joke in FGO, but if we convert Arjuna to a space cat and give him only 1 actual banner ever, does that make him better?
I’m going to start by saying I’ve used Arjuna Alter quite a bit for farming in JP, and regarding his ranking in EX- tier…well, I disagree. I do. (I also do for Kama and Tamamo but whatever). Is he good? Yes, yes he is. Is he as good as people think? I’m not convinced of that because he does have some glaring weaknesses (though tbf some of them are things just about everyone has). Anyway, I’m sure y’all will tell me how wrong I am in the comments and that’s fine, this is a discussion, we can have different opinions.
S1 pairs what would be a normal selfish 3-turn 30% Attack buff with an absolutely bonkers 50% SPECIAL Attack buff vs. “Debuffed” enemies except Unremovable debuffs, so some very specific boss fights? - and don’t let it being 50% fool you, what this does is basically doubles his attack (an attack which is already pretty high, ranking 5th among the Berserkers). And it doesn’t even have a longer-than-normal CD to go with it - both these buffs are active for 3/5 turns.
S2 is another great skill, paring a very large Buster-specific star absorb with a 30% battery. If Carnival Phantasm taught me anything, it’s that Berserkers can’t be trusted to go out and grab batteries - AA is only the 2nd AoE Berserker with an actual battery (since Chacha’s is spread out over a few turns instead of being all at once). And he’ll stay like that since Summer Bryn next year also only has NP regen instead of an on-demand battery for turn 1 farming.
So Arjuna Alter is just a reskinned Spartacus, that theft is oppression
S3 is a weak skill on Arjuna - it’s a Guts with a smaller revive and a 3 turn heal. On many other Servants this skill would be nice to have - but on a Berserker with no other means of survival (Evade/Invincibility/Def Up/Damage Cut/Attack or Crit Down/always suffering from taking double damage) it’s just kinda there. Paired with the right people like Reines/Waver/Merlin it could come in handy.
Skill (and Ascension) Mats:
A Gold Servant needs Gold mats - he takes Grease, Lamps, Hearts and Eggs for his Ascensions and takes Lamps, Grease, Rings, and Eggs for his Skills.
72 Rings (32); 33 Lamps (34); 32 Grease (31); 6 Hearts (35); 35 Eggs (20)
Lamps and Grease probably won’t be a problem, and Hearts would be if you needed more than 6. Eggs will be the real delay here for most people - you get idk, 10ish or so of those 20 from the story (I’ve heard different amounts from different people) and they have a bad drop rate.
Mat Farming Locations and (Approximate) AP Cost:
Rings (Giant’s Flower Garden, LB2): 3,528 AP
Hearts (Carter Residence, Salem): 976.8 AP
Eggs (Thevar, LB4): 5,974.5 AP
Total: 10,479.3 AP/// 37 Days (Natural AP regen)// 75 Gold Apple Refills.
His 3rd skill is his worst and can probably be left at whatever point you run out of the mats for it. S1 is his best in regards to damage but S2 lets him NP on turn 1 easier if it’s the full 30%, so which one you go for first depends on if you’re running him with CEs like Aerial Drive or CEs like MLB Kscopes. If you’re short on Lores just his S2 would get one for the full 30% battery but you’d probably want them for his S1 if you can spare it.
His NP is an AoE Buster that inflicts a pre-damage Buster Resist Down - upping the damage quite a bit with his S1 to about 56k*/enemy total (31k* if they resist his Buster debuff). (*That’s with his Berserker class advantage already).
But otherwise it doesn’t do anything special, it’s just a nuke. On someone who’s meant to just kill things though, that’s not really a bad thing to have them be simple to use. And 56k/enemy @just NP1 is a really good place to be for dealing damage, since any outside Charisma/NP damage/Buster buffs will push that even higher.
The closest comparison for Arjuna Alter is going to be Raikou - they both have crit star absorb, AoE Buster NPs, the potential for supereffective damage, and some survival. Arjuna gets the nod for ease of NP and the ability for more Buster brave chains. Really most of what Raikou can do, Arjuna can do better. Her NP damage vs. either of her traits (let alone both) is better than his even if they’re debuffed, and she has 2 Arts cards that could also crit (and she has in-kit crit damage buffs now) for NP gain, but her Buster buff is only 1 turn and her face cards will hit for less in general, especially so if Arjuna has both parts of his S1 in play. You also can’t control if the enemy is Demonic/Sky/Earth while you can (usually) control if they’re debuffed or not. And a battery is more reliable than trying to use face cards for NP gen.
If you want to use Arjuna Alter for gameplay (because for design the answer is always "yes summon if you like them) - there are a couple of things you have to make sure you’re doing. He’s very reliant on others making him stars/providing him star gen buffs if you want to crit on his Busters, he’s reliant on others for NP charging past turn 1 if you want to use him for wave clearing, and he needs outside crit buffs and, most importantly, outside sources of debuffs for sustained damage, because that alone takes his damage from “sky-high” to “yeah, pretty good”. Merlin can debuff with his S2, Skadi with her S2, Reines and Waver with their NPs, but you’re going to want to load up on sources of that so it’s always ready for him, whether from other Servants or from Command Codes. And in fights (like some recent ones), where the enemy is debuff immune, or if they spam debuff removal, or have other forms of defense like Evade or Invincibility, AA falls off a cliff since he doesn’t have any way to deal with that (though as I said at the start, a lot of Servants don’t have that and you can work around it just fine).
Arjuna Alter is one of those Servants that I say is good, but is best when someone else put in the work to summon and level and you just borrow to help you clear stuff.