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AETHER RAIDS OFFENSE TEAM & UNIT BUILDING To help alleviate a lot of the stress many people have with this mode, I felt it would help to provide a list of general team and unit building strategies that are consistently effective, especially against the most consistently troublesome defense maps. I will be regularly updating this thread, especially as the mode is updated and new units (especially Mythics) are added that have a big impact. I encourage you all to ask questions, share what works for you, and scrutinize the ideas presented, so that we all may have better results and fewer headaches. This thread is created in mind for F2P players specifically, due to the extra challenges associated with limited resources, but of course all are welcome to post and discuss. Note that this thread is specifically for discussing offensive strategy. If you wish to discuss your weekly progress, feelings about the mode, defense maps, etc, please use the Aether Raids General Thread. Sections: Notable Unit Builds & Setups General AR Tips & Strategies Common Defense Map Setups & Tricks Basic AI Primer Example Team & Unit Builds Frequently Asked Questions 1. Notable Unit Builds & Setups a. Super Mixed Bulk Units Quite simply, stack up your Def and Res to the point where most units do little to no damage, even when they have a weapon advantage. Most players have seen this used by attackers who have Surtr, simply putting him in the way and letting other units suicide on him. However, not everyone has Surtr, and even if they did, many defending players are wising up by using more effective weaponry and other tricks that can take him out easily. No unit can take on every situation, so it's worth considering a variety of options for this kind of role. It's generally a wise idea to have only one of these types of units on a team, though it's worth considering having multiple teams using different units (ie: one team with Fjorm, another with Hrid). Ideally they should be able to tank and kill most things that come at them. Giving one of these units Summoner Support is highly recommended, as they'll want as much of every stat as they can get. It is often worth calculating how much damage each enemy can do before even picking this team, in order to know whether or not they'll survive a large number of attacks. Eir's Light Blessing HP/Res boost and C skill helps these units out tremendously. Example 3-4★ units: Lukas, Hawkeye, Selena, most armors and dragons Essential stats: Def/Res Weapon: Unique weapons, DC weapons, defending stat boost weapons (ie: Berkut's Lance), Slaying weapons Special: Generally damage boosting ones like Glimmer, Moonbow, Iceberg, Bonfire, or healing skills, notably Aether. They shouldn't depend on defensive specials like Aegis to keep them going unless it's Saber I guess. A Skills: Anything to enhance their survival and counter killing ability, especially DC/CC or Steady Stance 4 (though SS3 will usually suffice). Bond skills not recommended due to these units often ending up going in alone. B Skills: Null C-Disrupt, Null Follow-Up, Dull Ranged, Dull Close, Guard, QR, Special Spiral, Mystic Boost C Skills: Atk Smoke is always the best choice. If you can't spare a 4* Kaze, anything that could be useful in the moment or preparation like Atk Ploy. Seals: Distant Def, Close Def, Warding Stance, Atk Smoke if you don't have it for a C skill General Strategy: Unit is buffed and sent into enemy territory, sometimes to kill off a frail enemy. If possible, stacking Drives/Wards from a safe distance can be very helpful, but there are going to be many situations where that isn't feasible. Weaknesses: Firesweep weapons with Poison Strike, Pain+, Firesweep Lunge pulling them onto traps, Null Follow-Up users (if unit is slow), Luna/Moonbow Pulse setups, extremely high offense units, effective weaponry, Bold Fighter, overwhelming number of units doing too much damage b. Vantage Counter Units Nothing groundbreaking here, but sometimes it's possible to bait some or all of your enemy's units with these setups. This is a very nice way to deal with hyper-offensive units, provided your unit is safe to get into Vantage range. Just make sure to check every enemy first to determine whether or not your unit can actually kill them in one hit, and more importantly, see if they have Hardy Bearing. The downside to this strategy, other than most people anticipating it and using Hardy Bearing, is that many of the best units for it are 5* exclusive, and nearly any unit is going to require a good deal of investment, including getting DC/CC. Example units: Ares, Laevatein, Nino, Jaffar, Keaton, any unit with exceptional Atk and/or means to get it, or spam specials Essential stats: Atk Weapon: Bladetomes, Slaying weapons, unique weapons (notably DC weapons for some units), Pain+ Special: Varies, but other than with Ares, it shouldn't be needed for damage or else you're running the risk of getting killed. Miracle can also save that unit from worrying about Hardy Bearing or units that are just a little too strong. A Skills: Distant/Close Counter, Fury, Brazen Atk, Fierce Stance, Fierce Breath, Bonus Doubler B Skills: Vantage C Skills: Misc buffs, Ploys, Def/Res Smoke, Savage Blow Seals: Brazen Atk, Fierce Stance, Savage Blow General Strategy: Aside from the obvious "get unit to under 75% HP and put in good spot", there are some finer points to this. If the enemy has a Bolt Trap in range, you might be able to get that 75% without having to engage, giving frail units the start they need. Surrounding the unit with Goads, Drive Atk, etc can also be necessary to ensuring they're strong enough, if it's safe to do so. Weaknesses: Hardy Bearing (commonly on Ophelia, and naturally on Dancing Micaiah), Firesweep weapons, Staves, Sacae's Blessing, bulky units too strong to die in one hit, Chill Atk and similar debuffs, Dull skills vs your Bladetomes, unit having no safe way to get below 75% HP, Eir/Healing Tower bringing your unit back up above 75% at a really bad time c. Galeforce + Wings of Mercy Again, not a novel idea here, but it can go a long way, just as it does in other timed events like Grand Conquest. Teams with this setup should be using Wings of Mercy on at least a couple units, even if you only have Galeforce on one unit, since the benefit here is getting the jump on the enemy team before they can even do anything. This setup in particular can often allow units to box in enemy mages, which is great if they're the only ones left. Having multiple dancers is useful, and giving an otherwise useless bonus unit a skill like Smite can help you reach otherwise inaccessible foes. Example 3-4★ units: Caeda, Cordelia, Cherche, most cavalry melee units Essential stats: Atk/Spd Weapon: Any, though technically anything to help cooldown (including gaining a follow-up attack) is going to provide the most opportunities A Skills: Swift Sparrow, Fury, Deathblow, Sturdy Impact, Heavy Blade, Flashing Blade, Bonus Doubler B Skills: Wings of Mercy, misc B skills depending on the unit C Skills: Smoke skills, misc buffs, whatever ya want really Seals: Heavy/Flashing Blade, Atk/Spd boosting seals, Darting Blow General Strategy: As always, do a calculation before you advance to make sure you can trigger Galeforce and/or Wings of Mercy. One unit is sent in (possible using Smite or Reposition) to attack and (ideally) kill an enemy. If they're not the Galeforce user, they are instead someone like a low HP Fury mage or whatever who can consistently get below 50% HP for Wings of Mercy. From here, the rest of your units, including the dancer, can jump in and take out the biggest threats. Sometimes, you can instead kill a unit and then have your Galeforce user pull back, but be wary of dancers. Also note that the Bolt Trap can be used to pre-emptively reach WoM range. Weaknesses: Enemies with Guard/Steady Stance 4/Hack-o-Lantern, enemies who are too bulky/soft/high Atk or Spd to activate Galeforce, Wary Fighter and other double prevention skills, entirely mage setups preventing a 5-cooldown Galeforce from activating, traps or structures that prevent other units from warping in, unit is unable to retreat or safely end their turn, Eir/Healing Tower bringing someone out of Wings of Mercy range. d. Raventomes Given how common healers (notably Veronica), archers (notably Lyn), and even dagger users like Eir can be, having a unit who can safely bait or tank those units can be invaluable. Having Null C-Disrupt can turn these setups into complete jokes if you have it, but there's also an advantage to not having/using it-- enemies like Veronica can be left alive while you take on someone else or grab the pots. Most of the ideal units for this strategy are 3-4* units (including GHB units Robin and Lyon) and are therefore pretty easy to make. Of special note is that Eir's Res boost can patch up the low Res of units like the Robins. Example 3-4★ units: Robin F, Robin M, Cecilia, Sophia, Lyon, etc Essential stats: Def/Res Weapon: Raventome/Unique Weapon with same effect Special: Flexible, they won't be depending on it A Skills: Usually Triangle Adept, sometimes defensive skills like CC or Distant Def B Skills: Null C-Disrupt, QR, Dagger/Bowbreaker, Dull Ranged C Skills: Atk Smoke, misc buffs or Ploys Seals: Distant Def, Warding Stance, anything from the skills above General Strategy: Ideally you can either place them someplace safe to bait the foe, or even send them in to safely pick off a Dazzling/Firesweep attacker and withstand the rest. In some situations, you can even bait a cavalry unit like Veronica away from a dancer, allowing you to focus on the rest of their team. Weaknesses: Pain+, Poison Strike with Firesweep, unable to kill Eir due to Lyfaberg preventing follow up attacks and Eir's decent Res, enemies with triangle advantage preventing a safe bait attempt. Technically Cancel Affinity, but these days, Lyns are using Poison Strike x2 with Firesweep Bow. e. Effective Weaponry It's pretty common to encounter armor or flier teams stacking Wards and Goads. Preparing some units specifically to handle these kinds of maps can turn them from a regular issue into a low-effort battle. Due to armors usually using Wary Fighter, or fliers stacking Spd to the mid-50's, it may be necessary to use units with enough Atk to take these foes out in one shot, or perhaps with the bulk to safely bait them. Example 3-4★ units: Frederick, Oboro, Caeda, Ursula, original Marth, most archers Essential stats: Atk and potentially Spd/Def/Res depending on the foe Weapon: Best effective weaponry, usually refined for Atk or Spd, with exception for weapons like Falchion with excellent unique effects Special: Glimmer, or other preferable damage boosting special like Moonbow, Iceberg, Bonfire, etc. Don't use high charge specials except Galeforce. A Skills: Deathblow, Fury, any offense boosting skill. Triangle Adept not recommended, don't use it and don't use units who depend on it. B Skills: Breakers, Chills, Null Follow-Up, Desperation, really whatever works for that unit and their enemy type. Wings of Mercy is great too. C Skills: Generally buffs, Def/Res debuffs, or Savage Blow Seals: More offensive stuff (+Atk, Brazen Atk, Darting Blow) or Savage Blow General Strategy: Not a lot to say, though you probably want to calculate to see how much damage the unit will do before you even select that team. Stack some buffs and send them in, but unless they've got the defenses for it, don't leave them there to tank and counter kill. If your unit is cut out for this, they should be taking out nearly any target foe with a single hit. Weaknesses: Anti-effective shields (Iote's, etc), no safe approach, unit's offenses are too poor for a given enemy's stacked defenses f. Unique Skill Effects Just a couple things I wanted to add that are particularly useful for AR. Aversa's Night: Absolutely invaluable against many setups, especially if you're a Hrid fan. Give Aversa HP+5 in her A slot and seal, and either Axebreaker (for Surtr) or Renewal (in case of Duma) for her B slot. C slot can be any buff you prefer, I usually bounce between Fortify Fliers, Drive Res, and her native Odd Res Wave depending on the team. Draw Back or Smite for Assist. Some players have a single Aversa merged up, which is fine, but I've opted to make 2 Aversas with Light and Astra Blessing, since I'm certain I'll need her for both once we get an Astra hero. The HP boost from active blessings is sometimes necessary for her to affect some of the bulkiest units, and usually makes the extra HP from merges unnecessary. Note that always having Aversa can backfire if the enemy is either split up, has too much HP, or using Restore shenanigans (discussed in a section below), so it might not be wise to have her on all 5 teams. Thokk (Loki's Staff): Like Aversa's Night, a very valuable ability to have. Loki should also be given as much HP as you can get for her. Consider Live to Serve or Renewal for her B slot to help her HP stay up. Bear in mind that some defense maps use skills like Guidance to circumvent the Gravity effect, and as such you wouldn't want her on more than probably one or two teams since you may get more from units who can Smite/Reposition/Draw Back. Witchy Wand: Perhaps the best way to reliably shut down Pulse Parties, Halloween Mia's staff is a real game changer if you managed to pull her when she was available. Note that this staff works fine on any healer, though I highly recommend using it on a flier or cavalry since it's mostly about the landing the effect. Killing anyone with this staff is merely a bonus, so the priority is, as always with staves, the Dazzling refine. Interestingly, Halloween Mia's original banner ended the day before Aether Raids were introduced. I think a lot of people have since wished they had pulled her. Yato, Falchion, and Kitsune Fang (Corrin M, Marth, Kaden): These skills (with unique refines on the swords) provide a great amount of additional support. Some players even make multiple Corrins, for instance, allowing them to reap some incredible stat boosts for one character. The main disadvantage to using these skills is that some maps are designed in a way that there's no safe place to put these units while still granting their boosts. 2. General AR Tips & Strategies a. Doing the Pre-Fight Math This might go without saying, but before selecting your team and starting a fight, carefully examine the enemies you're up against. It's unwise to assume that your best team will be able to handle a map just because you usually do ok against those foes. This is generally the least fun part of AR. Enemy Atk by Unit: If you're planning to tank a number of foes at once, compare your tank's stats to every foe. Don't forget to factor in Fortress, Blessing, and Bonus unit stat boosts. Consider their skills, buffs, debuffs, and whether or not they'll get Dance'd or Restore'd. There are situations where devastating foes (like Reinhardt or Ophelia) do little to no damage due to how heavily you've stacked your defenses, and how heavily debuffed those foes are. It's also worth noting if certain units can take a hit in order to buy some time, like if a melee dancer hits your Eir instead of suiciding against your tank. Enemy HP and Def/Res by Unit: Determine which enemies can be killed by which units. Take special note of Wards and other out of combat skills, which if unnoticed, can unravel your strategy. Calculating how much damage your own units can do can be important for determining Damage Ratio, which in turn affects attack priority (discussed below) Enemy Damage Ratio: This usually won't matter except in very specific situations, so you rarely need to calculate it. Anytime where your unit can be attacked by more than one unit, assuming they all have the same result (win, draw, or lose) and no special effects like Poison Strike or a staff, the one that attacks first has the highest damage ratio. This is calculated as [Damage Dealt] * 3 - [Damage Taken], which factors in post combat damage things like Poison Strike, healing from specials like Noontime, and damage reduction from things like Deflect skills. Note that Damage Dealt and Damage Taken never exceeds a unit's HP, so if you hit for 50 but only take away 5 HP from your foe, it counts as 5. b. The Best Move in the Game: SMITE For the most part, we've been conditioned to using Reposition and Draw Back for most of the game's content. They're great here too, but of special note is Smite. I highly recommend you bring at least one unit with Smite on every team, ideally one that doesn't need to do much fighting (such as a obligatory Bonus Unit or a spare Eir). Smite onto Traps: If a unit lands on a Trap after being pushed there with Smite, Shove, or Reposition, they will still trigger the trap, but they will not lose their turn. This is invaluable knowledge since it allows you to bypass the worst part of a trap and opens up a chance for a kill. Smite is best suited for this action since it gets the most distance, and unlike Reposition, they generally don't need to be pulled back somehow. Smite over Impassible Terrain: Mountains, forests, water, etc can all be passed over by non-fliers if someone uses Smite on them. On the Desert map in particular, this is of great value since there are mountains blocking your approach from the south. Note that you cannot Smite through obstacles, structures, walls, or enemies. Smite into Enemy Lines: This is of great value against cavalry teams and other setups where your units normally don't have the range to get the jump on far-reaching foes. This is of special note if you can't afford to Reposition or Dance your way there, or if you need to send multiple units. c. Escape Route Dancers at Level 1 This is something of a niche strategy. With Duma being an inevitability, there's a very brilliant way you can capitalize on Upheaval's damage: Give Escape Route to a Dancer with incredibly low HP. This is a little more complicated than it might sound but can be extremely rewarding if done right. There are a few stipulations to this, however. The Dancer in question should/must: Have 14 max HP: Since Upheaval does 7 damage, any match against Duma would automatically put this unit in range. Note that this will not work well (or at all) with Eir on your team (due to her healing), and is more or less screwed up by active Blessings unless there are two Dumas, in which case you can go as high as 18 base HP, for a total of 28 HP with 2 Mythics. Be Promotable: The only way you can retain such low HP on a unit is by keeping them at level 1. However, this means that the unit can't get SP to learn Escape Route and any other skills unless they are promoted from 3★ or 4★, as once promoted, they will not have a chance to get more SP. Never Level Up or Merge: Increasing this unit's HP makes it harder to reach that 50% HP threshold, so this means you should never level them up. You will almost certainly only use them for AR or other content where they will not be getting any kills. Likewise, they must never even attack a unit, even when it's safe to do so. Their weapon's only purpose is to provide buffs (if possible) or to break obstacles. With that in mind, only a handful of units meet the criteria to pull this off on maps with a single Duma (that is, have 14 max HP): Young Azura: Using the 4★ version. Note that learning her unique tome is not necessary since it doesn't provide any support to other units. If you already used your 4★ version, you could spend grails, though of the units available for this, she's technically the least useful. Reyson: Must be -HP, or at least until they demote him to 3★. A pretty good choice for this since his 5★ weapon heals others, which can be very useful against Duma. Also, as a flier, you can use flier buffs. Pretty nice. His transformation effect also makes him an excellent choice if for some reason you can't get/keep his HP low. Silvia: Must be -HP and summoned at 3★ if you want her at 14 HP. Her sword doesn't matter unless you can spare a Kadomatsu or Geishun (normal versions are fine since you don't want to refine or attack). Other dancers, including regular Olivia, are suitable if you are using the same strategy with a 18 base HP build, including merged 5★ exclusives except +HP versions of Flying Olivia and original Azura. Also note that Bolt Traps/Towers can be exploited in similar ways, though may require extra steps or turns and isn't always going to be a safe option. d. Considering Structure Placement Going to generally run through my own opinions on the structures and where they typically work best. Note that I will be referring to their placement based on the slot (1 through 6), with the 1st slot being the one farthest left, and the 6th being the farthest right. Empty Slot(s): Might seem odd to start with what to keep open, but it's worth considering the importance of any unused slots for the purposes of positioning and retreating. Since you can only fill 5 slots anyway, one has to stay open. Of all of them, slot 4 is the most valuable to keep open due to it being the most consistently open pathway for advancing in any terrain, especially Lava Floes' lava in column 3 and Spring Breeze's wall, also in column 3. Slots 2 is too valuable for structures and is also blocked by the wall in Abandoned Castle. Some players will opt to use fewer structures to open up more slots, which is fine and worth discussing but I think it's not a worthwhile trade compared to effects like Gravity or whatever. Fortress and Escape Ladder: Since the former is required and the ladder latter should always be set while you have access to it, we might as well consider them both in play at all times. The best place to put them are on the far ends (1st and 6th slot), since they're out of the way. It doesn't matter which goes where. Bolt Tower: I'm not super crazy about Bolt Tower since the damage can cause problems, like making a healer run around healing everyone hit by it before you've attacked anyone. Alternatively, players with Healing Towers are likely going to heal up the damage anyway unless you're advancing early enough. With that in mind, there's no ideal spot for it, so place it based on whatever is open. Tactics Room: Of the normal structures, this is the most popular, and for good reason. Many maps go from being a mess to a joke if a ranged enemy is caught in its effect. After Escape Ladder is maxed out, I recommend upgrading Tactics Room next. Anyway, I personally place mine in the 2nd slot, as I've noticed that most Defense maps are positioned on that side (especially Abandoned Castle maps), often with troublesome ranged units like dancers, Lyn, or Veronica placed in that column. Placing it in the 5th slot is also a decent idea, but mostly only helps against the Cavalry in a Corner setup. Healing Tower: Place it in the 3rd slot so it covers the most ground. Doesn't have much use elsewhere, unless you're running teams where you deliberately want low HP, in which case slots 1 or 6 is also fine. Panic Manor: Flexible, but I'd generally put it in slots 2, 3, or 5. Tactics Room is arguably more useful and deserves higher priority for placement. This structure is usually useless if you have Aversa on your team. Catapult: 2nd slot, 5th slot, or 6th slot. Schools: Like Bolt Tower, these can go wherever. Mine end up in slot 3 usually since it's the only place left. They're not particularly great aside from when they're bonus structures. e. Planning Your Blessings Choosing who to give Blessings to is difficult primarily due to taking away that It seems fair to say that we can expect one of each blessing every 2 weeks, so hopefully people aren't running out of them just yet. Until we start getting more Light/Astra heroes and effects, we can only really plan them around Eir and her HP/Res Boost. Note that I will not be discussing who to give Anima/Dark Blessings since this is focused on AR Offense, not Defense. Also remember that Legendary Heroes gain the Blessing effect (including stats and score boost) if their season is active alongside the Mythic's season (ie: Fjorm with Eir in Water+Light Season). By default, anyone who is well suited for the roles suggested in Section 1 makes for a good candidate, and should be given a Blessing even if only for the scoring. Dancer(s): You should have at least one Light blessed Dancer, even if you've got Legendary Azura, since she's going to bring your score down if it's not Water+Light Season. There are a lot to pick from, but if you can't make up your mind, consider taking a random 4* Dancer like Olivia, Silvia, or Reyson and simply focus on their ability to buff/support. Most dancers are ill suited for combat here anyway (with some exceptions like Dancing Micaiah). Keep in mind that Tactics Rooms are very popular defense map structures, so ranged dancers (aside from Legendary Azura) may be less practical unless you can use positioning skills like Guidance or Aerobatics. You may want to think about saving a dancer to use alongside the inevitable Astra hero down the road as well. Res-Oriented Units: You can never have too much Res, especially with Yune on the scene. Ironically, her Dark type means she's always up against Eir, who is boosting everyone's Res, making her B and C skills less practical. Mages are also incredible popular for Defense, owing to the powerful tomes like Missletainn and Forblaze, so going all in on Res can shut those units down (but watch out for Luna). Ploys and units with Ploy-type tomes are also worth considering. HP-Based Skills: Aversa and Loki go without saying, but also consider a unit like Cherche who has Panic Ploy and makes for a great Galeforce user (and hey, Flier buffs with Eir). Other than Panic Ploy, I'm struggling to think of other stand-out HP based skills, but surely we'll see new ones added in future banners. Astra Hero in the Future: The first Astra hero will almost certainly appear in late May, with HP/Def+5 as their boost. Keep in mind that these units will regularly be up against Duma blessed units gaining Atk boosts. We'll discuss this more when that hero is introduced. f. Bonus Unit Rotation Pattern The 10 Bonus Heroes go like this, as of now: Mythic Hero on rotation based on release (ie: Eir > Duma > Yune) New Banner Heroes: If there are fewer than 4, those slots will instead seemingly be random heroes. New TT/GHB Hero that corresponds to the release of the banner heroes above Old TT/GHB Heroes going down the Grail list (sorted by Added) Legendary Hero based on release order (ie: Ike > Ephraim > Robin), might not include Fjorm Askr Trio + Fjorm, in order Alfonse > Sharena > Anna > Fjorm g. Other Useful Tips Focus Resources on Offense Structures: Since your points are coming from your offense matches, and given how difficult they can be, prioritize your Aether Stones and Dew for Offense Structures. Level up the Escape Ladder as early as you can, and spend Dew on the Fountain/Pots as well as the Fortress (O) over (D). Note that each Fountain/Pot upgrade gives you approximately an extra run per season. LEGENDARIES: Not everybody knows this somehow, but using a Legendary hero in AR alongside a Mythic will grant that Legendary the full blessing effects if both of their seasons are active. For example, using Fjorm and Eir in Water+Light season gives Fjorm the HP/Res boost and increases your score. With that in mind, Legendaries are some of the best heroes for AR and very much worth investing in. Sniping Units from Behind Structures: With the considerable amount of structures available, it's sometimes possible to snipe units from behind structures and pull back to safety from the ranged units. Also, if melee units are behind a wall of structures, they are trapped and won't take any actions besides Rallying until there's an opening somewhere. Boxing in Ranged Units: Another exploit based on the excess of structures-- if an enemy ranged unit is in a position where you can place units all around them, preventing them from moving, you can buy yourself time to kill the other units or grab the pots. Just be mindful that they don't have Wings of Mercy or other teleporting moves. 3. Common Defense Map Setups & Tricks Horses in a Corner Armors in a Box Fliers in a Ball Infantry Pulse Party Restore/Rally Gambit Firesweep Lunge Trap Other Miscellaneous Threats, or "I Keep Getting Screwed Over by Legendary Azura and Everybody Seems to Have Her Except for Me Because I'm Cursed" 4. Basic AI Primer a. The 5 Damage Rule - How to Bait Dancers & Ralliers This is one of the most important things to understand when it comes to the AI, so it gets top billing. Dancers & Ralliers will prioritize attacking over their Assist skill when one of two things can happen: The enemy gets a kill The enemy's combat forecast shows them doing at least 5 damage from their regular attack That second point is the one that matters. This is the "5 Damage Rule" which I will often bring up when discussing AI. You must never forget this rule, as it is often the difference between a smooth win or a horrible defeat. Some things to consider when factoring what does and doesn't count towards this 5 damage: Special activation does NOT count. This includes general damage skills like Iceberg or Moonbow, but also pre-battle skills like Blazing Wind, or defensive specials like Aegis. For example, if Ophelia does 5 damage from Blazing Light but 0 on her normal attack, she'll Rally instead. Likewise, if Legendary Azura could hit Fjorm for 10 damage before Ice Mirror is factored in, she'll attack, even if she ends up dealing 2 damage. Miracle will also not interfere with this, like, for instance, your unit was at 5 HP and would otherwise have been killed. Damage Reduction skills do NOT count. For example, if Legendary Azura would deal 8 damage to Sigurd, but Divine Tyrfing reduces that to 4 damage, she will still attack because the forecast would say 8. Doubling is factored into this. For example, if this enemy's combat forecast would read 3x2 on their battle forecast, they will attack, even if they'll die before getting that second hit in. The same applies if the enemy unit had a Brave weapon. Pre/Post Combat damage does NOT count. If the enemy unit has Poison Strike, or your unit has Fury, their 0 damage from their actual hit will still count as 0. Healing skills are also NOT factored into this. If your unit recovers that 5 damage due to a skill like Aether or Mystic Boost, it won't change whether or not a dancer will attack them. Damage taken by the enemy is not considered, including if this enemy unit dies from this combat. They only care about how much damage they could do. Vantage is not taken into account. If the enemy unit would have normally done 5 or more damage, they will attack anyway, even if they are killed first. Consider this when deciding between skills like Fury or Life & Death for a Vantage build. b. Attack Priority The order in which units attack can be extremely important if certain skills like Vantage are in play. It's also important to know who will be attacked if multiple units are in range. Anything highlighted like this is generally something you won't need to think about. Here's the sequence for Target Priority: Win > Draw > Loss: Of course, they'll go for a kill if possible, but they'll prefer to make an attack that does even 0 damage over an attack that gets them killed on counter. Able to Debuff foes by at least 2 Def or Res using certain specific skills: This only applies to Veronica's staff, and to a lesser priority, Seal Def/Res skills, unrefined Rogue Daggers, and Kitty Paddle/Poison Dagger. The main thing here is that Veronica (using her default staff) will prioritize a target that can be debuffed over one that can't due to already being debuffed. Highest Damage Ratio: [Damage dealt] * 3 - [Damage taken] = Damage Ratio. This includes negative numbers. See Section 4.h below for more specifics on what counts towards this. Special Charge Increase: Another obscure rare thing, this is the enemy's ability to leave their target's special value at a higher amount (eg: Aether at 5 charge instead of 4 or less) than when battle started. This probably won't be an issue and you can almost always ignore it. Lowest Slot Order: All else being equal, your unit on the right end slot of your team will get hit. For the most part, it comes down to the W>D>L result and damage ratio. Now let's look at Attack Order: Win > Draw > Loss: Just like above, units would rather deal 0 damage than die. Able to Debuff foes by at least 2 Def or Res using certain specific skills: See above for more details. This basically means Veronica will almost always go first when she has an attack and no heals to do unless you're already debuffed. Since you need Null C -Disrupt to counter kill her, she'll both survive and debuff you with one of those specific skills. Able to Debuff or damage foe using a different list of skills: While Veronica's staff and a few other obscure skills have priority, the next units are those with a certain set of skills, which include all other status inflicting staves (but not Fear or Slow), Pain, Deathly Dagger, and Panic-inducing weapons like Legion's Axe. On a lower priority is Poison Strike. This primarily means that most staves will generally attack first, followed by Firesweep users with Poison Strike, then everyone else. Highest Damage Ratio: [Damage dealt] * 3 - [Damage taken] = Damage Ratio. This includes negative numbers. See Section 4.h below for more specifics on what counts towards this. Highest Movement Range: Assuming everything else above is equal, units with greatest movement range go first. This usually means cavalry, but also includes units getting a movement boost like Tibarn or units hit with Grey Waves, or even Armor March. Gravity also affects this, so a Gravity'd cavalry would go after an unaffected infantry. Special Charge Increase: See above. Usually inconsequential. Highest Slot Order: All else being equal, the unit on the top of the list will go first. Since you can only see the lead unit in AR (before battle), you might not know it. So, before sending in your tank, when you're looking at the enemies, observe what skills are set, because things like staves and Poison Strike can and will take priority before other attacks make their move. c. Assist Order Priority The order in which units perform their assists can have a major effect on how the battles go. Is Ophelia going to Rally before someone else, and will Azura dance Ophelia? Clever Def map makers understand this sequence and use it to ensure that dangerous units like Ophelia aren't exploited by debuffs. Let's look at this priority of using assists before initiating combat (that is, at least one enemy unit is in attacking range of one of your units). Units with non-movement assists: Movement assists (Swap, Draw Back, etc) are only used when no other units on the team have a turn and can attack a target. Note that Future Sight's AI works like Swap, and Lucina will not use it if she has an enemy target in her attack range. If the enemy has any of those movement skills and a target in range, they will attack (after other assists are done) unless their allies are in the way. Units with no weapon: Weaponless units take priority with their assists since they have nothing else to do. Unit who is the furthest distance from their closest enemy: This can be a little tricky if things like walls or Gravity are in play, but as a general rule of thumb, the furthest away units will use their assists first. These units do not need to have an enemy target in range, but Rallies will only be used if their assisted ally has an enemy target in range (or, in the case of Rally Up, they'll use it if said ally is within two spaces of someone who can Rally'd). Dance/Sing/Grey Waves > Heal/Restore/Rally: Assuming someone can be Dance'd and the Dancer is eligible to do so (see the 5 damage rule above), the dancers will jump to the top of the priority list. Of course, this requires someone take an action first. For example, a Rallying unit will use their Rally (if the conditions are met), and the Dancer will immediately Dance that Rallier. Unit with the lowest slot order: Assuming all those other things are equal (ie: two dancers at the same range from a potential target), this is what decides who goes first. Since you can't see the enemy's slot order in AR beyond the first slot, you can't tell. I'm going to add a picture example in the near future. If there are no enemy units in range and thus no combat can happen, the AI will then change it's priority a bit. Dance/Sing/Grey Waves > Heal/Restore > Rally > Movement Assists: Of course, the Dancers always go first. Keep in mind that their dance'd target being in range to attack will change the assist priority to the list above. Also note that because movement assists are at the end of the list, Future Vision will go after the dancing, healing, and rallying unless those other skills can't be used. Units with no weapon: Not that there are a lot of weaponless units, but in this case, a weaponless healer would go after a dancer, whereas before it would be the opposite. Healers using Staves/Sacrifice > Other units using Reciprocal Aid/Ardent Sacrifice: Again, something you don't see a lot, but staff users and Micaiahs would take priority with their healing. Unit who is the furthest distance from their closest enemy: Two dancers? Assuming all else is equal, the one further away will use take priority. Unit with the lowest slot order: Again, assuming everything else is equal, this is the final decider. If two dancers are the same distance from their target, it will come down to this. Note, however, if something is done to allow a unit to now attack (like Dance, Future Vision, or a unit can suddenly warp into attack range), the priority list will refer to the first list above until no more units are in range of an enemy target. d. Dance Target Priority For the most part, Dancers are going to use Dance on whoever is immediately available, unless they're in range to attack and do more than 5 damage. However, if positioning skills like Wings of Mercy or Aerobatics suddenly come into play, the Dancer might suddenly have multiple units available to Dance. In these cases, this is how they determine the target of their Dance: Unit with an enemy in attack range: Priority goes to units who has at least one foe they can attack over those with no foes in range. The results of those fights is not considered. Unit with the highest visible stat total: Factoring in Atk/Spd/Def/Res but NOT HP, the Dancer will prioritize the unit who has the highest amount. This includes skills (weapons, Fury, etc), stat boosts (merges, dragonflowers) field buffs (Hone, Rally, etc), debuffs (Ploys, dagger effects), and Panic'd buffs, but not in-combat buffs (Drives, Bonds, Bonus Doubler). Note that the status recovery effect from being Dance'd or any stat boosts from things like Earth Dance are not factored into this. Highest slot order unit: As in, the order they're listed from their Edit Defense Team screen. Since you'll only be able to see who their first unit is, you kinda can't tell. What's interesting is that the Dancer will not necessarily focus on whoever is strategically ideal. Even if a Reinhardt with his special ready could murder everybody, Azura might still pick some weak unit to Sing just because they meet the criteria listed above. e. Rally Target Priority Since Rally gambits are one of the deadliest tricks in AR, this is important to understand. Note that Harsh Command counts as a Rally when it works, and that Ralliers don't change their AI even if their target has Panic. Rally users will prioritize their targets as follows: Highest Amount Buffed: For example, a unit who already has Atk+4 from Hone Atk 3 would have lower priority for Rally Atk/Spd+ (which is Atk/Spd+6) over someone who has no buffs. Ally closest to their Enemy: Ralliers will prefer units closer to their targets over units who are further away. Unit with the highest visible stat total: Factoring in Atk/Spd/Def/Res but NOT HP, the Dancer will prioritize the unit who has the highest amount. This includes skills (weapons, Fury, etc), stat boosts (merges, dragonflowers) field buffs (Hone, Rally, etc), debuffs (Ploys, dagger effects), and Panic'd buffs, but not in-combat buffs (Drives, Bonds, Bonus Doubler). Note that the status recovery effect from being Dance'd or any stat boosts from things like Earth Dance are not factored into this. Highest slot order unit: As in, the order they're listed from their Edit Defense Team screen. Since you'll only be able to see who their first unit is, you kinda can't tell. *Note that Rally Up users will use their Rally on an ally that is in range of their preferred target if they can't reach them, so long as the effect reaches them. In terms of positioning, Ralliers will prefer to Rally from a position based on these rules: Position is on a Defense Tile Position is the furthest away from enemies Position requires teleportation (like Wings of Mercy, Guidance, etc) Position terrain priority: Flier-only terrain (like mountains) > Forest > Trench > Regular Position requires the least amount of movement Position has higher "tile priority": Consult the linked image, units take the highest number tile possible when everything else above is equal or doesn't apply. In short, units will prioritize being more north over south, more east over west, and more north over east when they have a choice. In AR, this means that units are generally going to stay back at enemy lines when Rallying unless they have no other position and have to run/teleport forward (which many players set up deliberately to put them in attack range). f. Healing Target Priority As a rule, Healers will prioritize healing over attacking unless they can get a kill. For almost all heals and targeted allies, the target ally has to recover at least 10 damage for the Healer to heal anyone before they make their attacks (Physic/+ require 8). Keep note of this since Bolt Tower/Trap can and will trigger enemy healing, even if you haven't engaged an enemy yet. In terms of target priority, it goes like this: Unit who would recover the most HP from the heal: For example, if two units are hurt, one has taken 10 damage and the other 20, the Healer will prioritize the one who took 20. If they are the same... Unit with the highest visible stat total: Factoring in Atk/Spd/Def/Res but NOT HP, the Healer will prioritize the unit who has the highest amount. This includes skills (weapons, Fury, etc), stat boosts (merges, dragonflowers) field buffs (Hone, Rally, etc), debuffs (Ploys, dagger effects), and Panic'd buffs, but not in-combat buffs (Drives, Bonds, Bonus Doubler). Highest slot order unit: As in, the order they're listed from their Edit Defense Team screen. Since you'll only be able to see who their first unit is, you kinda can't tell. Note that if the healer's team has no other units who can make an attack, the healer will heal any amount of damage. g. Restore Target Priority Restore is the sneakiest of the heals since it can trigger the AI without needing to heal any damage, so long as someone is debuffed (see the Restore Gambit strategy in section 3.e). Assuming the healer cannot get a kill, they will use Restore based on this "order": Lowest slot order unit: As in, the order they're listed from their Edit Defense Team screen. Since you'll only be able to see who their first unit is, you kinda can't tell. This is what makes Restore so sneaky; you can't tell who will be Restore'd until they use it. As such, if your setup will debuff the foes and the enemy has Restore, consider what could happen based on which unit the healer Restore's. Note that the AI will prioritize Restore's healing over status removal if any unit has taken 10 or more damage, in which case it will use the Healing Priority rules above. h. Damage Ratio When deciding who to attack and who attacks first, the enemy's attack priority (after Win > Draw > Lose) is based on their damage ratio as per the following calculation: [Damage Dealt] * 3 - [Damage Taken] Whichever unit/target has the highest value goes first. Doesn't matter if numbers are in the negatives. Note the following details about this: Pre-combat damage (ie: Blazing Wind) are factored into this calculation. Damage done to foes within the area of effect from skills like Blazing Wind is NOT factored into this, only damage to the main target. Post-combat damage (ie: Pain, Fury, Poison Strike) are NOT factored into this calculation. Damage reducing specials/abilities (ie: Ice Mirror, Miracle, Divine Tyrfing, Deflect seals) are factored into this calculation. Healing skills during battle (ie: Noontime, Aether, Absorb) are factored into this calculation. The amount healed from a defending unit is reduced from the [Damage Dealt], while the attacking enemy unit will have their healed amount reduced from [Damage Taken]. Like with Damage, this is capped at a unit's max HP (ie: a unit using Aether when they're already at full HP would be 0 HP healed). Healing skills after battle are NOT factored into this. This includes skills like Mystic Boost and Carrot/Egg weapons. Vantage is factored into this. If a defending unit has Vantage and kills their foe before they can attack, then the [Damage Dealt] is effectively zero (not counting damage from pre-combat specials). Total HP: Both Damage Dealt and Taken are capped at a unit's max HP. If you could deal 60 damage to a unit that has 35 HP, it counts as 35 damage. Likewise, healing from specials won't count if the unit is already at max HP. As such, it's common to see the low HP units (like dancers and mages) killing themselves on your super tank before the high HP units due to having less HP to subtract. Generally this isn't too hard to calculate, but keep in mind that the Damage Dealt/Taken may change based on some criteria, like: Stat changes: Notably from daggers, but also things like if an enemy or ally providing buffs is now dead Special activation changes: If your special activates when you fight one foe and it's not ready when the next unit attacks, the AI is going to respond accordingly. This can mean a bulky unit is waiting until the moment comes when your special isn't ready so they can attack and survive. i. Tricks to Exploit Enemy AI --- j. Full AI Guide If you want a more in-depth guide to AI, check out this guide, which covers practically every aspect of AI: https://vervefeh.github.io/FEH-AI/index.html 5. Example Team & Unit Builds Hey Johann! Whatcha Using? Legendary/Mythic Hero Builds Eir Fjorm Legendary Ryoma Legendary Eirika Legendary Azura Gunnthra Legendary Lyn Legendary Lucina Hrid Legendary Ike Legendary Robin Legendary Tiki Legendary Ephraim Legendary Hector Legendary Marth Legendary Roy Dark/Anima Mythics 6. Frequently Asked Questions Do I need [Unit/Strategy X] to even stand a chance at reaching higher tiers? Should I save orbs for Mythic Banners? What should I do with my spare Eir(s)? Can you do my Aether Raids for me while I go get some snacks? ------------------------------------------------- I will be updating/revising this thread regularly, and I'm planning to add pictures (and maybe even a gif or video here and there) for some of these subjects. Feel free to suggest anything you think should be covered, etc.