Powercreep and refines forecast

A thing I started back in March and wanted to finish off.

Powercreep in the next 6-12 months will have a lot to do with movement. The earliest signs were maybe duo Ephraim, Annette, or duo Palla, which at least were prfs, armoured stride, and B.Edelgard. Then came odd tempest and canto. In March we got the Grimoire, and days ago we got Sumia’s canto refine. Since IS has routinely used seasonals as a way to live-test ideas before adding them to the permanent pool, we can expect these effects on a permanent pool unit within a year. I wouldn’t be surprised if canto B-skills became a thing. Recently, Dagr introduced even tempest and put pathfinder in users’ hands.

The counterplay which they’re implementing to all this extra mobility is save skills, which are going to transform the meta. Save skills are limited to armours and tie up the C-slot (so it competes with armour march), which provides some limitation to the mobility of teams that want to rely on saves. More importantly, mobility is mainly an advantage for finding suitable targets, which probably cease to exist when they’re all covered by some wall of an armour that effectively occupies 13 spaces. For example, H.Nowi might find a way to turn the whole map into a red zone, but it won’t matter if the only enemy she can initiate on in that zone is B.Hector even though there are 4-7 other units in the red zone. They’re still outside her effective threat range.

Saves allow units with insufficient bulk to occupy aggressive positions, which amplifies the high threat range meta because they can now get even more aggressive now that they don’t need to worry about getting sniped or galeforced. Teams that don’t use saves will have a challenge (and it’s unclear how much of one) in how they can create threat to equal the aggression coming at them when they need to spend skill slots and stat points making sure frontliners don’t just die.

I fear that saves are going to end non-WoM galeforce play in AR. The reason is that smart teams are going to put their far save in the back row and line their frontline with traps, so that I won’t be able to use a ranged unit to crack a hole in their frontline for a galeforcer to get behind their traps. I might be able to kill the far-save armour, but then I’m just left with a ranged unit staring down a bunch of glass cannons and no square from which I can attack with a galeforcer. I don’t see it being the case that the meta will ever shift to make save irrelevant, which means it’s possible galeforce all-ins are permanently dead. We’ll see.

Several effects are getting developed as counterplays to saves:

  • firesweep effects. They started dabbling in this with Eleonora, Y.Merric, and Shamir; recently they added Ingrid as well as Ishtar’s refine, which enables her to windsweep and still double. There’s also Solon, but I find him unreliable because on offense he can’t hit save armours hiding in the back row and on defense the raiding party can make a support unit absorb the debuffs for a save armour. I wouldn’t be surprised if a duo skill granting NCD came out at some point, but it’s unclear to me how much that will matter while it’s possible to protect your duo’s hindrance. More importantly, Soleil and Cynthia can expect their refines within several months, and they will probably be oriented towards dealing with save armours. Who knows, maybe Soleil will even get an anti-armour firesweep weapon.
  • NFU and null guard effects, which will disable a lot of the fighter skills and prf weapon effects armours tend to rely on
  • impacts, which will at least make hard for armours to double on their enemy phase
  • true damage (ex: Ingrid)
  • tanky units with forced doubles (ex: P.Veronica, Duessel, Marianne) - probably going to be expanded less than the other counterplays
  • pulses on non-infantry units, which can greatly help blasting or cutting through armours’ high defenses. IS has already started spreading extra special charges to non-infantry with units like NY Velouria and G.Rafiel. L.Lilina pulses herself on turn 1. Pent just got added. L.Hector is coming due for an upgrade to his prf skills, so maybe something will happen with Ostia’s Pulse. Ares might get a good refine.

With all of that in mind, my current predictions for CYL3 refines:

  • B.Alm: keeps current effects, and the rest is hard to guess. I’m expecting some easy condition (ex: if unit initiates combat or if foe’s HP >= 50% at start of combat) for an additional 5 to all stats, after-combat healing to cover Scendscale recoil, and an additional effect which might be tempest on all turns (HP conditional sounds very plausible). They designed this unit to get in there and mix it up with the mob.
  • B.Eliwood: very hard to guess beyond padding his stats by another 4-5 points. I’m expecting Finn to get the impact refine which made me wonder if Eliwood would get a firesweep refine, but with all the extra def and res from his weapon I don’t see them giving him a firesweep effect. (But if they do, Ingrid is the live test because if they release the CYL3 refines a month or two after CYL5 then the test-release timing is similar to that of V.Rudolf - B.Hector.) So either they make him a blue version of his Blazing Durandal variant (like they turned Ayra and Hector into what people were already doing with those units, RA spam and omnibreaker respectively) or they play on his support potential. For example: When using a rally skill, grants [bonus doubler] to target and allies within 2 units of target OR in an extreme case: if unit uses a rally skill, unit can act again (once per turn).
  • B.Micaiah: instead of adding foe’s current penalties to each of her stats, adds foe’s current penalties + 4 to each of her stats. Forces a double, an undouble, or both; I’m guessing forced double because they’re going to leave room for people to add sturdy impact. One additional effect which I’m having trouble guessing, but if I had to guess I would go with 30% off damage from a foe’s first attack (on either phase) or possibly the sparking tome effect. I think they’re going to make her a serious threat to B.Hector, and the 30% would be necessary against one-shot bonfires.
  • B.Camilla: increase to the atk/spd boost her weapon already provides. Gravity will now extend to foes within 2 spaces of the target. May or may not provide some kind of extra stats to nearby allies like B.Vero’s staff. May or may not inflict effects additional to gravity such as panic or decharging their specials. A less likely buff is that she’ll get some kind of odd recovery-like effect, removing status effects and debuffs on allies within 2 spaces at start of turn. That would synergize with her atk tactic.

Other refines:

  • Finn and Dire Thunder. Brave weapons are on the rise (think ninja weapons, Sp.Severa). I’m predicting impact effect for Finn because that’s what Swordhardt and L.Leif got.
  • Libra’s time is very near, and the obvious outcome is that he’s going to get a glorified huge fan. He comes with noontime in his kit. They’ll keep the +10 dmg, add 4-5 to all stats, and give him the extra special charge. That’s probably going to be about it.
  • Soleil and Cynthia, as mentioned earlier
  • Kaze is due time-wise but it doesn’t feel like his era, like, the kind of ideas IS is working on don’t fit him as far as I know.
  • Legault and Sothe are also coming due. Legault I’m thinking dominance, but penalty doubler is also possible. Sothe, I’m not sure. Probably not dominance. Probably switches him from the effect he debuted to a 4-range threaten like M.Morgan and Mist. That’s all I feel sure about.
  • Owain is going to get something hilarious like Nina got.
  • Canas is overdue, and I have no idea what they’re going to do with him because they seem to have accepted that owl effects are out of date.

Other powercreep:

  1. Bows have gotten a huge buff over the last year or two with spendthrift, budding, reindeer, Plegian, and that bow that comes on P.Brigid. I’m wondering when they’re going to switch their attention to daggers, because there are a few ways they might try this. My guess is that they’re going to release refine effects that are similar to new inheritables or prfs.
  2. the effect on Sparking Tome will either appear on more weapons or become a series of A-skill which is basically the inverse of unity skills, granting +5 to two stats and turning the foes’ visible buffs into net penalties. Competing in stats by reducing opponent stats rather than increasing your own has several advantages, the main one being that atk debuffs decrease damage taken regardless of which defense stat the opponent hits, whereas extra stats in def or res only work for one category of damage.
  3. Damage reduction blockage is in its nascent stages. Deadeye was the first; duo Lif was the second.
  4. 100% speculation, but ploy 4 is coming. It will debuff three rows and columns Arvis/Saias style, or it will debuff two stats, or we may get two separate lines (but threatens went dual stat and also gained the ability to buff its wielder, so maybe we’ll get both).
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This is so incredible and amazingly well thought out, major props!

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I feel like you’re also missing Canto and Pathfinder as other movement related things added somewhat recently.

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Pathfinder I did mention, but I did miss canto. It’s mostly a protective measure and doesn’t do much for aggression (i.e. I’m not convinced saves are such a big deal for dealing with canto), but I’ll include it because the point about saves was following up on the initial discussion of movementcreep.

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I think Sumia kinda shows that they’re now willing to put canto a bit on differend things.
Reginn had it exclusive to let her shine a bit but now they’re bringing it over.
Question is if they’re willing to put it on an inheritable B or C skill… Time will tell.

Another thing I’m kinda hoping is some old skills to get a tier 4 version
The Goad/Hone skills, Tactic skills, Ploy skills and smoke/savage blow/breath of life…
The A slot has a lot of amazing stuff, but the C slot still lags behind a bit. In fact I feel fliers clearly got the good one here.
Might be a bit bias tho. Since I would love for Quan (Goad cav 4) or Jaffar (Savage Blow 4) to get a boost in their niche.

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Adding to this some other skills could also use updated versions. Boost skills could use something to make them actually worth considering. Dual boosts is an obvious choice but I think changing the condition is also a good idea. Make it work off max HP like Virion’s weapon. I would also like to see dual smokes. Just like dual chills they would be 2 stats but do -5 instead of -7. Also give us more T4 brazens, we still only have one and that was like 2 years ago.

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Still waiting for T4 Defiant Skills!!!

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I just want a Larcei refine. I’m curious how she will compare to Ayra after.

I think for the updated ploy skills, it’ll just be debuffing 2 stats, similar to chill atk/spd etc.

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I mean there’s also both Altina’s who ignore DR :feh_birbpeek:, and OG Altina debuted all the way back in November 2019 iirc :fgo_ereshpeek:

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Still dreaming for T4 Brash Assault that becomes so broken it gives all the slowpokes of gen 1 a helping hand

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I agree with all that’s been mentioned. I just want to point out that the new AR system fits right into this. Not only the two new offensive Mythics are “movement creep” you mention but also for the fact that with the addition to one extra unit offenses became more vulnerable to turn one shenanigans and cavlines. The usual counter was to not run offensive structures (counter productive) to have some extra room to protect your units, and sometimes that wasn’t enough. Having a 6th unit to hide could be seen as a liability more than an advantage which could make selling the new shinny toys hard to some players. I think IS didn’t want to risk it a hence why they released the Save skills when they did (right after Seiros, before Dagr).

They also made sure that Save skills had a hard counter beforehand in the form of nfu sweepers, which make me believe they have no plans to release any kind of antisave skill in the near (or far) future (nor any armor will have access to NCD for that same matter).

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I actually saw the sixth and 7th team slots as favouring offense. Galeforcing 6v7 is easier than 5v6 especially when so many duos and harmonics grant extra actions. Duo’s hindrance, yes, but in a galeforce all-in offense can opt just to kill the defending duos and harmonics unless the defense builds specifically to deny that (which they don’t because the only galeforces people know about involve daggers and WoM and most defenders don’t know what to do about it other than frontline with ranged cavs or put a far save).

I should add as a caveat that I haven’t figured out how to maneuvre 6-member galeforce all-ins yet. The 5-member teams were straightforward because it was forward reposition + dance on one side and smite on the other; it’s not obvious how to incorporate the sixth member without a second refresher, but then having a bonus unit becomes a potential issue (and unlike before I actually need to respect the scoring system if I don’t want to fall out of the vault). Plus, canto and duo/harmonic double refreshes had joined the game by the time I was just getting reacquainted, and now I need to figure out pathfinder too. Not complaining because these all favour galeforce play, but I have work to do.

Of course, even near save can be a serious issue for trying to raid with galeforce. I discussed why far save might shut it down, but one base kit Gustav can potentially rule galeforce out against a given defense depending on specifics of threat range. If I can hit him with Lilina/Ophelia (and I’ve done it to a lot of defenders who probably thought it impossible) I might be in business, but I don’t know about being able to rely on that.

Also, I think it’s a mistake in principle to make a NCD fighter skill. The framework of the game won’t support it well; there need to be counterplays against armours especially now that savior got added. NFU windsweep doesn’t even augment damage the way hammers do.

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Larcei’s gen 4, there’s no way she’s getting a refine any time soon lol

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Again I agree completely. The new system favors defense for sure. We can even stay in the VoH without a defense, just taking - 40 (I know that from experience as I don’t have a Light defense) and I love to for that. But the new system also made 1 turn shenanigans stronger. On one hand, defense has one extra slot to fit a 3rd dancer or a combo piece (like WBerni + healers). On the other hand, the 7th slot (someone that was supposed to not be able to act at first) allowed for dancer traps to become a thing, and those are way more reliable than other turn 1 initiations.

I’m not sure if IS was aware of that interaction (I would guess so as most defenses use a dancer, so putting Seiros in one of those would have reveal it. But at the same time, I don’t belive IS invests in playtesters. They seem to let the community work things out for them instead), but we can’t deny it goes against their intention to strengthen offense and weaken defenses (we were supposed to fight 6vs6 until the first kill or so it seemed when they announced the changes).

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I save skill counter with Candelight and Micaiah. Micaiah can also counter frontline glass cannons because most are mage units who do nothing on her anyway.

But before I clued in to using this strategy, I was afraid of them lol.

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In practice yes, it’s unclear that allowing a fourth offense mythic actually helped offense because it’s questionable whether 8-10 extra stat points and 3-4 skill slots that could be used for extra support functions makes offense easier when there’s an extra unit attacking you. If you have a save, maybe. And maybe that was the point.

Developmentally I find saves really hard to believe because it looks to me like they’re running themselves into a corner and a dead end. When saves become standard all player phase is going to be directed against armours and enemy phase will be concentrated in armours only; the number of relevant matchups just plummets and the game loses its strategical richness.
Maybe some mythic that comes with save to open book VI or VII? I wouldn’t be surprised if they provided that to help newcomers. And then, what, they turn AR into a minor thing and release the next major mode where saves are either nullified (banned) or not good enough?
Or they make player phase so powerful that omnisave strategies consistently overwhelm the armour and people get forced to switch to playerphase-and-save (like “snipe and tank”)?

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I’m not sure they are running themselves into a corner. Saves are strong but they do have counters, and I’m sure IS will release more in the future (they seem to love to give everyone sweep + NFU as of late), even if Null Save is not among them.

I think I understand where you are coming from, but before saves, AR - O was already heavily skewed toward tanking. BClaude, BIke, Brunnya, BHector, WAltina, NYAlfonse, BEdelgard, etc. were (and still are) pretty common carries, while PP strategies were seldomly used. Save skills might skew things a little bit more towards them, but the won’t be a huge metashift. People were already trying to overpower tanks before and they will do so more now.

The archetype that has taken the biggest hit is the one that relied on killing the suports/Mythics and that’s probably what IS wanted to do with the save (as like I said before, turn 1 shenanigans were kinda counterproductive for them).

That doesn’t mean they have stopped working all of the sudden, it’s just that they are not as overwhelming as they used to be. They can still take down the savior on turn 1 or 2 by sheer power.

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