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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Damage reduction blockage is in its nascent stages. Deadeye was the first; duo Lif was the second.
- 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).