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MrSmokestack

Nino, Pious Mage [Complete!]

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Background

Spoiler

In Fire Emblem: Blazing Blade, Nino is a young girl descended from a family of gifted mages. However, her family was murdered by Sonia, one of Nergal's morphs, and she was taken into Sonia's care as her "adopted" daughter. When Sonia infiltrates the Black Fang by marrying their leader, Brendan Reed, Nino becomes close with his sons Lloyd and Linus, seeing them as her stepbrothers, as well as Jaffar, an emotionless, young assassin with an obscure past. The latter half of FE7, where she becomes a playable unit, is one tragedy after another that both leads to the dissolution of the Black Fang and continues to follow her for years after the game's events have passed.

In terms of gameplay, Nino's playable appearance in Heroes is identical to her appearance in her original game. Her niche as a lategame growth unit, otherwise known as an "Est", makes her exceptional here in contrast to FE7, where she was a liability for people simply looking to complete the game. Having been in Heroes since launch, she remains one of the best mages in the game due to her default weapon, Gronnblade, and a stat spread that emphasizes a glass cannon offense that her tome augments perfectly. In short, she's easy to use, readily available, and works with barely any investment.

Default Nino

Spoiler

Neutral Stats
33 / 33 / 36 / 19 / 26
Total: 147

Starting Skills
Weapon: Gronnblade+
Assist: Draw Back
Special: None
Passive A: Resistance +3
Passive B: None
Passive C: Hone Atk 3

Note that Nino gains a +4 stat bonus if she takes Res as her boon, which will increase her stat total by 1.

Out of the original three -Blade mages, Nino has the best offensive spread with 33 / 36, in contrast to Tharja's workable 32 / 34 and Odin's mediocre 22 / 32. She is tied for 3rd highest Atk among green mages in the game, with first place, Summer Elise, being three points higher than her. However, her Spd, which is currently tied for the 2nd highest among all mages in the game, is beaten only by Bride Caeda's 37.  -Blade builds get more return out of higher Spd than they do higher Atk, which gives Nino considerable leverage over her competitors, and since she's such a good girl she's nice enough to come with one of her own. Her other skills aren't of any note, though Hone Atk is useful as a generic support option and Draw Back can fill in for her assist if Reposition isn't available.

As a ranged nuker, Nino's weak point understandably comes from her poor physical bulk; anything upwards of 52 Atk will off her easily, which can make initiating shaky. Her Res in general is above average, fortunately, and with investment she can handle Reinhardt, one the best ranged nukers in the game period, with ease thanks to being a green unit. Sadly, her low stat total not only cuts down on her bulk but also reduces her scoring potential, making scoring well difficult at the highest levels of arena.

But best of all? This is a unit that can be pulled from the general pool as a 3* or 4*. Few units with that offense are available right off the bat; indeed, Linde is a fellow mage that has a similar spread to her, but is a 5* exclusive. Nino really is a diamond in the rough.

Example Sets

Spoiler

Standard

Spoiler

(+Spd  -Def)
33 / 49 / 42 / 19 / 29
Weapon: Gronnblade+
Assist: Reposition / Draw Back / Dual Rally Skill
Special: Glimmer / Moonbow / Aether
Passive A: Fury 3 / Life and Death 3 / Swift Sparrow 3
Passive B: Desperation 3
Passive C: Drive Atk 2 / Drive Spd 2 / Hone Atk 3 / Spur Atk 3 / Atk Ploy 3
Sacred Seal: Deflect Magic 3 / Distant Def 3 / Heavy Blade 3 / Atk Ploy 3

Realistically speaking this is the only set Nino is going to use. In addition to being her best set, it's also very easy to make on a budget, which the slashes take into consideration; Nino comes with her Weapon, Assist, and C Passive already,  so the rest is just a matter of filling in the blanks.

Reposition is the preferred assist. If you can stomach the difficulty of going without one, however, a dual rally assist costs double the SP for arena points.

The special usually does not matter. Glimmer's CD reduction buff makes it useful against targets with high HP while Moonbow handles the high Res ones. I prefer Aether however due to its SP cost and the fact that -Blade mages do not need their special to nuke everything regardless of color.

Fury, Life and Death, and Swift Sparrow all augment Nino's damage on player phase. Fury is the most common choice of A passive compared to the other two however, since it is both cheap to obtain and gives Nino extra Def and Res to make OHKO'ing her on the counter much harder, especially after summoner support and merges. It also procs HP% skills passively even if Nino takes no counter damage, which is important for her choice of B passive.

Desperation was made for Nino. It offers a workaround for her glass cannon offense against units that can KO on the counter but can't survive both hits from her tome, especially if when she's fast enough to double. Unless her HP is brought up to 41 or higher due to merges or summoner support, Nino can proc Desperation after two rounds of combat from Fury's recoil damage alone.

The C passive is flexible, as always. Hone Atk is good enough and doesn't need to be switched for anything, though the Drive skills and Atk Ploy offer additional points. Atk Ploy in particular works well with a teammate's Panic Ploy to make hits from units that need buffs to function easier.

The Sacred Seal slot offers room to run Atk Ploy if it's not available, though sacrificing those extra points for extra durability vs Reinhardt via Deflect Magic is usually more worthwhile, assuming Distant Def 3 isn't being used by anyone else on her team. Lastly, Heavy Blade 3 works very well with -Blade units like Nino since the boosted stats are added to their Atk stat instead of being counted separately. With +8 / +4 / +3 / +3 boosts, Fury Nino has an effective 67 Atk discounting supports, Spurs, or Drives, negating the CD penalty from her tome entirely.

Horseslayer

Spoiler

(+Spd  -Def)
36 / 48 / 42 / 19 / 29
Weapon: Keen Gronnwolf+ (Special Skill Refinement)
Assist: Reposition / Dual Rally Skill
Special: Iceberg / Aether
Passive A: Fury 3
Passive B: G Tomebreaker 3 / Bowbreaker 3
Passive C: Hone Atk 3 / Atk Ploy 3
Sacred Seal: Atk Ploy 3 / Distant Def 3 / Deflect Magic 3 / Spur Atk 3

This set is far more niche than the previous one, though it is specialized for arena defense teams as a counter to Horse Emblem.

Keen Gronnwolf's unique refinement goes a long way to improving Nino's durability vs ranged horses, and in tandem with Atk Ploy and Distant Def she can soak hits from mages pretty well. Her matchup vs Brave Lyn is still very shaky, however, and running Bowbreaker to handle her is less effective than running G Tomebreaker to halt enemy Ninos, Cecilias, and Julias. Compared to the above set it loses significantly in damage output, but it can surprise players expecting the usual from a characteristically glassy unit.

 

Closing Thoughts

For a unit that can be pulled at a low rarity, Nino is one of the best base game ranged nukes in Heroes. Her stat spread and default weapon is a tried-and-true combination that has managed to stay relevant through all the meta shifts the game has seen so far. Even her low bulk can be worked around with little effort by using common passives like Deflect Magic and Desperation to make her performance more consistent. Due to her availability, performance, and low level of maintenance, I would strongly recommend raising a Nino to new players in need of a unit that is futureproof. She always does her best, after all.

As of this edit made on 19 December at 8:06 PM, this analysis is now complete. Feel free to post suggestions and criticisms below.

Edited by MrSmokestack

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This is more of a nitpick than anything else, but you're actually not supposed to add an apostrophe in "Ninos, Cecilias, and Julias"

Thanks for setting this up, btw, I've had a Nino sitting around and figured I'd finally dust her off and give her a chance to shine.

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18 hours ago, MrSmokestack said:

Compared to the above set it loses significantly in damage output, but it can surprise players expecting the usual from a characteristically glassy unit.

I would also recommend Gronnraven Nino to surprise unsuspecting players. My BH!Lyn+10 with Summoner Support and Hone Cavalry buff died to one. I was rushing through my Arena streak that week and had to restart due to that cheeky little Nino.

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Damn it, you beat me to her. She's my favorite mage because of her utility. Green (anti-Reinhardt), one of the faster offensive mages in the game, and naturally comes with Gronnblade, Drawback and Hone Atk 3.

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Nice writeup! I wanted to throw an honorable mention out to Miracle for Life and Death variants of Blade Nino-- as you mention with Aether, she rarely needs her special for extra punch, and Miracle actually gives her a means of slightly overcoming her status as a glass cannon by being able to facetank hits in a pinch or beat Vantage DC-users when it's charged (the latter is especially useful IMO). Definitely worth a mention in my book, it's easily my go-to special on her. 

Edited by BANRYU

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@BANRYU Thanks for the suggestion!

I would argue Hardy Bearing is more dangerous to Nino than DC Vantage though, since it’s still possible to ORKO the latter from full health to avoid the proc while it’s impossible to accomplish the same thing against the former, especially once Nino procs Desperation. And fortunately for Nino, Hardy Bearing isn’t all that common.

Furthermore, Miracle only has 200 SP, so Aether is still better for arena scoring. It’s a bit too niche for only being very effective against neutering one particular skill to be a go-to though, especially when Glimmer and Moonbow can give Nino extra damage.

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For the Gronnblade+ build, I'm going to have to say that Fury 3 and Distant Defense 3 is overall much better than Deflect Magic 3 as it increases her bulk greatly allowing her to tank hits from daggers and non-brave bow archers, all the while mitigating Reinhardts damage, sometimes completely especially if you have an Ephraim or Eirika around with proper Hones.

Edit: You could also run Heavy Blade 3 since Nino after buffs will reach some pretty high attacks. If she gets counterattacked and can follow-up with a higher attack than her opponent she could proc Moonbow in one round of combat.

Edited by Logos

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25 minutes ago, Logos said:

For the Gronnblade+ build, I'm going to have to say that Fury 3 and Distant Defense 3 is overall much better than Deflect Magic 3 as it increases her bulk greatly allowing her to tank hits from daggers and non-brave bow archers, all the while mitigating Reinhardts damage, sometimes completely especially if you have an Ephraim or Eirika around with proper Hones.

+Spd -Def +0 unbuffed Nino with Distant Def 3 seal dies to +Atk -Res +10 Reinhardt with Horse buffs and Moonbow + QP.

With a +3 Res buff she survives, but it’s a shaky matchup so I’m not convinced that she’d make better use of it compared to a less frail unit on the same team.

I’ll add a mention for it in the main build though since DD3 is worth more SP.

25 minutes ago, Logos said:

Edit: You could also run Heavy Blade 3 since Nino after buffs will reach some pretty high attacks. If she gets counterattacked and can follow-up with a higher attack than her opponent she could proc Moonbow in one round of combat.

While 53 Atk after Hone Atk isn’t very high, I’ll add it because again, the SP cost. Desperation will make Moonbow more annoying to proc though.

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23 minutes ago, MrSmokestack said:

While 53 Atk after Hone Atk isn’t very high

The -blade tome's buff conversion seems to be applied to Atk, rather than damage (the result after conversion is, after all, affected by the weapon triangle). So her Spd, Def, and Res buffs are also factored into the Heavy Blade calculation.

Clip below: Nino with the Heavy Blade seal (53 Atk, +3 Spd buff) attacks Ike (55 Atk) and has Glimmer's CD decremented by 2 on her attack.

Spoiler

 

 

Edited by LordFrigid

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23 minutes ago, MrSmokestack said:

+Spd -Def +0 unbuffed Nino with Distant Def 3 seal dies to +Atk -Res +10 Reinhardt with Horse buffs and Moonbow + QP.

With a +3 Res buff she survives, but it’s a shaky matchup so I’m not convinced that she’d make better use of it compared to a less frail unit on the same team.

I’ll add a mention for it in the main build though since DD3 is worth more SP.

While 53 Atk after Hone Atk isn’t very high, I’ll add it because again, the SP cost. Desperation will make Moonbow more annoying to proc though.

The odds of such a scenario is so low that I don't know why you're taking a +10 Reinhardt with buffs against a completely unmerged Nino and unbuffed Gronnblade Nino. The point of DD3 is that it offers much more utility due to Nino's naturally high Spd and temporary 25 Def when under attack. She'll survive most Reinhardts, and even a +10 +Atk Reinhardt with Hone Cavalry buff and Atk+3 Seal loses to a unmerged and unbuffed Nino. Deflect Magic 3 only lets Nino survive all Reinhardts (can't even say Olwen because she couldn't kill Nino anyways).

Edit: Also what Lord Frigid just said.

Edited by Logos

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4 minutes ago, LordFrigid said:

The -blade tome's buff conversion seems to be applied to Atk, rather than damage (the result after conversion is, after all, affected by the weapon triangle). So her Spd, Def, and Res buffs are also factored into the Heavy Blade calculation.

And that's another misleading description to dump in the bin.

Noted, thanks.

4 minutes ago, Logos said:

The odds of such a scenario is so low that I don't know why you're taking a +10 Reinhardt with buffs against a completely unmerged Nino and unbuffed Gronnblade Nino. The point of DD3 is that it offers much more utility due to Nino's naturally high Spd and temporary 25 Def when under attack. Deflect Magic 3 only lets Nino survive all Reinhardts (can't even say Olwen because she couldn't kill Nino anyways).

It's a general use set so it's good to account for the worst-case scenario.

Also look what I wrote:

31 minutes ago, MrSmokestack said:

I’m not convinced that she’d make better use of it compared to a less frail unit on the same team.

I’ll add a mention for it in the main build though since DD3 is worth more SP.

DD3 is a good option for Nino, I get that. But other more bulky units on her team are going to want that seal more.

And regardless I'll add both seals to the OP. Thanks for the input guys!

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4 hours ago, Logos said:

The odds of such a scenario is so low that I don't know why you're taking a +10 Reinhardt with buffs

I would not say the odds are low. It depends on your Arena team and Arena Assault team 1

For Arena Assault, Reinhardt +10 is not uncommon if you set team 1 as a merged armor team. I see two or three Reinhardts every run.

For Arena, if Nino is +0 and so is the rest of the team, Reinhardt +10 is not very likely to appear, but if you are running merged units, the chances of facing Reinhardt +10 starts to go up.

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20 hours ago, MrSmokestack said:

@BANRYU Thanks for the suggestion!

I would argue Hardy Bearing is more dangerous to Nino than DC Vantage though, since it’s still possible to ORKO the latter from full health to avoid the proc while it’s impossible to accomplish the same thing against the former, especially once Nino procs Desperation. And fortunately for Nino, Hardy Bearing isn’t all that common.

Furthermore, Miracle only has 200 SP, so Aether is still better for arena scoring. It’s a bit too niche for only being very effective against neutering one particular skill to be a go-to though, especially when Glimmer and Moonbow can give Nino extra damage.

I'd argue that 1) it's still worth mentioning for longer-term modes like Chain Challenge and Tempest Trial, where the lower CD is less of an issue and 2) that if she doesn't need her proc to land extra kills anyway (I've personally never found it necessary, my Nino was without a proc for ages and she never struggled to kill anything I needed her to with the possible exception of TA reds and G Tomebreakers), might as well use something that has other uses.

Growing Wind was another one I experimented with, but the AI aren't very good about bunching up so it doesn't come in handy very often. 

I suppose the one upside of Aether IS the extra arena scoring lol. I don't think it benefits her much otherwise though (healing is sort of counterintuitive to Desperation)

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As a note, Nino can actually function just fine with +Spd -Atk nature, and running Fury 3 on her gives her enough bulk to absorb just one physical attack from full health.

+Spd -Atk is actually very similar to Bride Caeda's attack and speed in terms of Caeda running +Spd -Def or similar, so Nino would only be a Green Bride Caeda if forced to run the nature, though of course Nino has the benefit of being a 3*-4* summonable unit, and Caeda is a 5* locked to events in the middle of Spring or randomly in Legendary summonings. 

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