The Forge, or my own path in AK

So, im just started to play AK right in the beginning of Nian banner. Of course, i asked a lot of questions during the early game, but noticed one thing, community is a bit of centered around certain operators, and different approach to game isnt very popular among the community.

My team+roster

As you can see my team selection is not very common nor meta-oriented, but i do like my main team, mainly because of fact that both of my defenders is blacksmiths, and both of my ranged dps have a poison theme.

However, i was advised not to use Vulcan in early game because of her inefficiency as main tank. I had doubts about this, and decided to make some kind of challenge, to pass as many stages as possible using Vulcan as main tank since i got her on first week due to lucky senior ops tag.

And in general, i have no issues to use her at all! She is just a bit complicated to use than general defender because of inability to heal, but in return she can reliably tank with her s1 or be a mix of tank and aoe dps with s2. So far the only support she require is the heal from Perfumer passive + S2, which also affect her passive as well. Later ill develop Angelina to E2 as well, and passive heals will be even better.

So i dont think Vulcan is too niche unit at all, she is just more complicated to use than average defender.

Another example of non-meta unit in my team is Cliffheart. She is given for free, but by some reason she is not very popular despite of nearly same utility as ranged guard + true damage with crowd control on her S2. I often use her on majority of maps, and she os doing fine if putted behind some defender to benefit from her trait.

So i wonder to know, if you have any similar experience with non popular/off-meta units? Id really want to know your own experience in this question.

Also if you want to give me some tips about anything, id be much appreciated. As i said i generally don’t care much about meta and simply play units i like, but any new information or opinion will be very welcome.

Atm im in middle of ch4, because im improving my base, all buildings aside of very bottom one is lvl 2 with dorms, and 2 factories lvl3. I decided to select 2/4/3 setup because it seems like easier to maintain.
Cleared Anni 1 and Anni 2, think my team is too weak to try Anni 3 yet.
Also occasionally working on level 7 skills, Myrtle, Fang and Vulcan is already developed, all other main team units at ~4-5 skill lvl.

Edit: updated roster.


This is completely fine.

The meta worship in the AK community can get out of hand at times. In the end, it’s best to consider the ‘meta’ as a guide rather than the final word. Also, the notion of ‘meta’ is built around a specific play style, which might not apply universally. For example, crowd control is underrepresented since it’s generally easier to just block things with defenders and kill them using DPS. ‘Meta’ is there to show you the path of least resistance, but the game is perfectly playable (and oftentimes more rewarding) by playing with the units you like.

Exception is the seasonal Contingency Contract event since it tends to favor certain lineups over others, but that’s a different discussion entirely.

Also, good job making Vulcan work for you! The problem with her is that she’s kinda rare and it’s not too easy to fit her into just any team due to her high cost and trait.


Actually that’s why my Vanguards have maxed skill, but Vulcan can be utilised in early to mid part of level reliably once you invest some into Vanguards skills to speed up DP gain. She just cost as about as 1,5 price of defender that is not a big deal actually assuming she is far tankier when her skill is active. For example, Ifrit have about same cost and perfectly playable as well, and her cost even didn’t mentioned as a flaw.

Her trait is, in my opinion, just more looking bad than it is in real. Generally she is decently self-sufficient even on my current E1 40, but she is very reliant on skill timings, where many can be easily screwed, however general rule is to press skill once she get into 1/5 of her hp. When her skill is on cd, an you see she is in trouble, you can hit Perfumer S2, and usually its enough. Based on review of person who used her, she gets entirely self sufficient at M3 of her skill 2 and able to perform as helidrop duelist if necessary, also based on videos on YouTube, she is capable to solo kill bosses.

Thats exactly why i liked her, not to mention she will benefit well from Aak skill, and i overall pulled most of units that have synergy with her.

I’m having a lot of fun with a seriously underlevelled squad going through the story maps again.
A couple of the boss stages needed a bit of extra power to beat, so I got the chance to use the 2 star ops. They max at level 30, but are great units early on. No one seems to mention them for starting out, but they are great through Ch1-3.

A lot of the team I’m using are popular operators but Beehunter and Deepcolor, who don’t get a lot of attention, are both wonderful units to have in this team. Hopefully I can continue to find uses for them later on, once I’m done with the playthrough, but I’m a little worried they’ll be scaled out by the stat game.


Wow, i will definitely try to do something like this later!

I wanted to try Deepcolor on my own as well, but also curious about Frostleaf just because she is only ground unit that is able to attack behind two other units in row, however i don’t have one yet. That is sounds at least promising, also she should be at the very least at same level of power as Midnight, and he is quite a good unit as for its rarity.

Edit: while looking YouTube for guides, i found two guys, ZEROPHOS and Nekogitsune, who made an awesome"I wasted my materials on x" collab series. Definitely worth to look at if you have doubts about certain operators.

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I have my own pot 2 Vulcan lying around at E0 1, so I might consider this as a future project.

Anyway, don’t let the ‘off-meta’ label for Vulcan get you down. Oftentimes, people who say this have probably never used her because of her rarity. Also, she has a high learning curve since you can’t use her ‘normally’ like a usual defender. But yeah, if you want to make her work, I think Angelina and Myrtle for the passive healing are the way to go.

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I think Dreamy has a insightful video on Youtube about Deepcolor’s usage if you want to make use of her even for later chapters.

Myrtle only heals the vanguards passively, something to keep in mind while using her.

Also to add onto the topic, I generally use my favorites regardless of meta or what not, I have silverash and he’s still e1 50, with skill at level 3 and Blaze is at E2 36 with skill 2 at M3, it depends on how you have fun imo. The meta really doesn’t matter except for CC and even there you can skip meta if you are satisfied with risk 15 clear, you won’t be missing much after that point.

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I meant to say Perfumer. Not sure why I put Myrtle instead. Thanks for the correction.

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You can definitely clear the game with anything, even with shitty operators, the differences is how hard it is and how fast it is to do so. People definitely don’t have to follow the meta, but if you do want to play efficiently there’s no harm on listening to the meta-players, usually they aren’t wrong. They are not wrong to say that Vulcan isn’t a good unit for begginers, or even at the endgame normal play. but that doesn’t mean she’s completely useless, she is just harder to use and has a very different way to use. Especially the current content isn’t hard at all, you can get away with anything. She’s expensive as hell for a defender(might struggle a lot if you don’t have good vanguards yet), below average survivability out of skill range, and can’t be heal by normal healers. You can see why she’s not begginer friendly, just sayin. She’s a lot better when you maxed her(or at a very high level skill), just check out Hino’s guide on Vulcan. Ops like these are usually low priority since it’s just better to raise ops that fills standard roles first, instead of special roles like Vulcan. Especially if they need high investment, what they do is just slowing your game progress. With that said, while there’s an efficient and long lasting way to play the game, but there’s no definite way to play it. Game offers a lot of variety, there’s meta(meta in this game defines efficient operators, operators that are very versatile), you can follow it or not, your choice. Silverash is the OPiest operator in the game, but if you don’t like him, you can kiss his ass goodbye.

Think you kind of missed the point there. I’m not worried about getting use out of her during the later story chapters. She’ll have to be useful, she’s part of the squad after all.

So far she been been very useful and the level gap I’m playing with is not easy. That screenshot above is e0-20’s beating an e1-20 stage. Hence the 2star lvl30’s for extra power.

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Well id rather point that there is a lot of quite efficient
strategies around non-popular units, but they require a clear understanding of what unit able and what is unable to do. Based on above mentioned Nekogitsune review, Dur-Nar is actually a good choice for tank and able to tank things and do burst dps better than Hoshiguma.

Earthspirit is actually best pure slow support with s2 m3 and she is only operator able to stun unlimited amount of targets.

So its all about finding a good strategy around the unit benefits. Great example is Magallan, she is awesome all-in-one unit, but require some clever planning to use, and ironically she isnt very common to use at all. Nightmare S2 together with strong pusher is nearly a delete button once you manage to make it work. And so on. Even Aak despite being so flexible unit isnt too common to use in beginner strategies despite with S1 he brings a lot of croud control and have a great skill cd to use him as sniper.

And so on. This game is all about strategies, so its possible to make a very reliable team with underrated units. And i like people who just use unit they like and build they team around it, because its a fresh new experience, and you actually learning ingame interactions, plus you really feel rewarded for such style of gaming.

I still remember video of clearing 3rd anni with Doberman and team of 3 star units. Thats is much more excited to watch than general Silverash sching-sching approach.

If the team is able to perform in hardest content, than its good enough for me.

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She can be used as main defender just using her as a main defender actually, but need to understand that she is a different from other defenders and have, lets say, a clear border line of damage she can tank, especially with s2 equipped. But she have a decent survivability even without her skill if someone decent like Kroos is helping her to clear the line while her skill is on cd. Other than that, no.problems at all, however she is obviously better at tanking single heavy damage wave of several Hazmat guys than few separate waves of red loggers for example.

Idk where you got that info from but frostleaf isnt the only ranged guard

I mean she is only capable to deal damage outside of ranged guards range. That allow her to cover more squares than usual ranged guard range. By some reason, i messed up with her range completely and originally made a wrong conclusion.

I think you got confused with ‘the big delete button’ himself.
Which is kinda against what you’ve got going on here :upside_down_face:

If you refer to Nightmare strategy, she is quite viable, but require to make a team around Nigtmare itself, thats why its quite rare to see, because she require to raise at least Shaw/FEather ,Nightmare, and Manticore to work, however i predict she will devastate things with Weedy in future.

I just tried to gave an example of non common team that works late game.

Edit: Ah, you mean SA, thats rather not the case, i just by some reason thought that Frostleaf have extra square in front as well :confused:

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As long as you’re having fun that’s all that really matters :smile: just cuz an operator is thought as not beginner friendly certainly doesn’t mean they’re bad, and it can be a lot of fun working out different strategies.

Personally I just got Estelle leveled up and I’m having a lot of fun with her. Most people tend to ignore her in favor of Specter, but the shy gator is just so much cuter! I’ve also had Pramanix as a main member of my party for a while, which is apparently unusual. The best operators beat everything with their favorites :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

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I have Estelle and planning to use her as well. Also pretty interested in using Ambriel and Frostleaf that i hope to eventually get from recruitment.

Recently got Vigna, looking pretty cool as well despite being a 1 block vanguard.
Also hope ill eventually collect all welfare units i missed in future. Also hope im still have a possibility to get Savage in future as well…

I remember seeing something about a month ago saying that the CN server was going to get a re-run for Savage, although i can’t find it now. Might have been for the one-year anniversary event. And it does seem the Welfare units will be making a return, but hard to say in what order or how often–at the very least, they’re not doing it the same order as they were originally released since the summer event is the first one being repeated.
I definitely get some good use out of Vigna, dishes out some good damage and the full DP refund makes her good for either an early stopgap or an assassin. Got her E2d and working on getting her mastery up - luckily pretty cheap for 4 stars ops.

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