July Character Re-balance: First Impressions

If there’s one thing we have to give to KMR with this update, it’s that he probably made one of the biggest character rebalance in the history of Granblue Fantasy, upgrading and improving nearly all the characters that were deemed outdated or bland. It didn’t solve all the issues those different chara used to have, but most of them definitely got a very good deal, and some even received better buffs with this rebalance than what some characters received with their 5* uncap.

After updating the tier list accordingly to all the change that have been documented, I have to recognize that the overall gap in power and desirability between “core” characters and the rest has decreased by a lot compared to the HRT days. FKHR did mention that he wanted to make characters more interesting to play, with niches that can involve interesting character pairing, and I’ll have to admit that this update is pretty spot on overall.

Let’s try to go over the change and see who won the biggest with this patch (I won’t go over all the characters that were affected by the patch, only those that were impacted significantly). If you’re not familiar with those characters, or not aware of the buffs they received with this update, I highly recommend you to refer to the tier list write-ups, or to read the previous article from Meshocku.

The “Losers”:

Chat Noir and De la Fille are probably the two characters that could have expected better from this update (does Cygames have something against French named characters?) Even though I call them “losers”, they still received some non negligible buffs, but it’s still not enough to make them relevant. They still both have a niche, Chat Noir with his random delayed debuffs that are a bit more reliable now, can be pretty interesting to lock enemies with CC, as well as with his slow and dispel; DLF with her team mirror image ougi that allows her to protect characters from lethal single target attacks, or simply prevent characters from getting hit (and there are a few characters that will appreciate that, namely Lucio).

But this update didn’t really alleviate those two characters respective issues:

Chat Noir still has a super clunky kit, and it’s nearly impossible to predict what he’ll end up doing (Para? Blind? Charm? Lose his Forewarning buff before he can ougi?) because of all the RNG involved, making him simply too unreliable. The self buffs he gets with Forewarning and Riddle are still way too weak, and being able to lose Riddle if the two mirror images are consumed makes him subject to lose all of his usefulness. The only silver lining is that, much like Clarisse in this patch, his third skill dispel + white damage nuke has been buffed with a much lower CD, and no more ougi consumption.

De La Fail remains a very low dps character, and instead of having her counter buff herself to provide an echo, it would have been much more interesting to make her a buffer much like her Earth version. At the very least, she has a slightly better niche than Chat with her protection and Revitalize as there are a few characters that can benefit from those.

Much Better, But Not Quite There Yet:

Cerberus, Eustace, Melissabelle and Vaseraga got pretty consequent buffs, which make them all transition from “Mediocre” to “Decent/Good” characters.

Eustace_BThe Team Critical buff on Eustace makes him less of a solo player, and grants him some sort of team support, although it is locked behind a level 5 loaded level ougi. The 50% normal attack up buff is pretty good, but chances are once you are at 5 stacks, you’ll want to ougi ASAP and not risk losing your stacks because of death or because of a dispel. But he at least is a decent auto attacker (remember that he gets a DA/TA buff every time he uses his second skill) while he’s charging his loaded stacks. The advent of supports like Yugu who can boost his meter generation helps him a lot too. Overall though, Eustace remains very vulnerable to enemy debuffs, and has a too long ramp up time to get to the level where he hits hard with his autos and/or his ougi.

Melissabelle_BTalking about ramp up, that’s pretty much the main issue Melissabelle has as well. While previously, what she had couldn’t even be qualified as a ramp up since the damage increase she was gaining with each of her skill cast was ridiculously negligible, with the update she gains up to 50% special mod attack up, and that is huge, especially in an element like wind. Her nukes also have been buffed to relevancy, and at max stacks she ends up finally dishing over 1m damage with them, and can reach even higher value as her passive provides her a skill cap up the lower HP she has (which fits extremely well with her ignition that costs HP, and wind playstyle in general).

The problem is that to get there, you need to cast 10 times nukes. That’s not only a lot of button clicks, but also a lot of time lost in animations. Well now at least, Lecia will love her even more since you have to press her nukes buttons regardless. Pairing her also with Anriet could be a good idea seeing how our hair potato synergies well with CD reduction and ougi spamming in general. The baha synergy problem remains the one thing I don’t think a patch will ever be able to fix (although with the new baha upgrade coming soon, can we expect triple race baha weapons?), but then again maybe having Nio 5* instead of Korwa could help in that regard?

Cerberus_BCerberus case kinda feels like FKHR gave up, and just went “You want a character that triple attacks? I’ll give you a character that triple attacks”. It’s simple : now, as long as you ougi whenever your bar is full, you will always TA with Cerberus after her first ougi. It feels kinda crazy, and I’m sure it also makes Predator pretty jelly. At the same time, Cerberus kit got buffed so that she would not only land her debuffs more reliably, but also bring even more raid utility through a stacking debuff resist down which every Triple Attack.

With the resurging popularity of Song and her 5*, having someone that can stack debuff resistance down on a separate category (it probably cumulates with your usual Pilfer, Thor, Unknown Harp) is really neat, more paralock is always welcomed. Her debuffs are really not too bad for solo play perspective, as blind and charm will both prevent your characters to take too much damage after a conjunction, or simply save Six stacks so he doesn’t get hit.

Then, what is Cerberus issue? Well, it’s the fact that between her passives and her skillset, Cerb tries to be two completely different things, on one side she tries to be a good auto attacker, but she doesn’t get the self buffs to make herself a competitive option over the other dark powerhouses, on the other hand her debuffs are nothing out of the ordinary and her utility isn’t something that would justify slotting her by all cost (like a unique debuff, or veil).

Vaseraga_CVaseraga  was already hitting hard before, well now he hits even harder. With this update, he joins the select club of few characters that can reach 2m damage nukes. And that’s nothing to laugh at, especially when considering that ougis are generally limited to half of that amount of damage, and locks you out of attacking for much longer. But not only that, Cygames finally decided to make his buff a special attack mod (They really should have done that from the start), pretty similarly to how Siegfried self buff was upgraded.

The two characters are in the end pretty similar and yet Vaseraga is not quite at the same level as Sieg yet. The issue probably lies in the fact that Vase has much less uptime on his self attack buff compared to Sieg. In the end, Vase is the complete opposite to Cerberus, he has very bad DA/TA rates, but extremely high auto attack damage. But that can always be fixed by having the MC play a DA/TA buffing class such as Elysian (further boosting his nuke cap damage with Qilin Harp).

His new passive that makes him tankier the lower his HP would have made him an excellent sustained enmity attacker if only he had a way to draw aggro from the enemies, so it might be interesting to use some workaround by grouping him with characters that lower their own hostility (Six, Jamil, Orchid with her EMP, Veight with his EMP).

Not the Jackpot, But Still in a Very Good Position

While the update didn’t make them “core”, they are now pretty great characters that can claim a spot in most parties, and if the conditions are gathered, can even dethrone some of the said core characters.

Societte_BWater Societte didn’t really get that huge of an upgrade on paper, but in practice she fills a pretty important niche in water: she sustains Stamina and allows your characters to constantly have a 10% echo to break auto cap (which is not extremely hard to reach in Double Varuna, especially if you happen to have a few Murgleis). With her total healing reaching 4900 HP every 3 turns (that’s with her healing EMP nodes), she ends up healing more than a Sage, while also providing meter if your team is full HP (pretty important when a lot of water characters offer team buffs on their ougis), as well as damage with her echo.

She’s typically the kind of character whose value increase the more your grid and character pool gets reaches the end game, especially with GW 5* characters: Quatre will extend the buffs, while Uno will benefit from the echo buff for his assassin move. Socie will also provides a mist and a delay, the first one helping to reach def cap and the second one being used to prevent enemy ougi from lowering your HP too much. And while her own dps isn’t exactly high, both her regular and EMP passive will at least guarantee her to have some reliable multi-attacks most of the time.

Charlotta_CCharlotta on the contrary, is here to boost Magna teams performance, as she pretty much becomes a Jack of all trades with this update. The DA/TA buff she gains with her passive and the normal attack buff can both be exploited to the fullest in a levi setup. Her def down is more reliable, and is enough to reach def cap when coupled with Altair’s mist. Her nuke at lvl 100 isn’t conditional anymore, and you can finally get to use her third skill nuke without it being a waste of time when the enemy isn’t in overdrive. And finally, her additional 700k damage on ougi is a much welcomed change, as it not only make her a good contender for ougi chain burst Strike time water teams, but also synergies well with water gameplay that often involves chain bursts and meter boost.

Still, you’ll want to time well the usage of her third skill as it is pretty much the only tool you’ll have to protect Charlotta from losing her stacks. Her shield added to defensive carbuncles could have been an option if it didn’t mess with Bonito… Still, there isn’t a lot of solutions to keep Charlotta safe from being hit. You’d either need to use Uno or Yngwie. In raid configuration where the boss is CC’ed enough though, you might just simply ignore it and not necessarily try to keep Charlotta stacks at all costs, after all keeping those stacks intact is not as crucial as it might be for Six or Halle.

But much like many other characters in that sort of position, jack of all trades means that you’re also master of none, and as your water collection grows you’ll most likely end up replacing Charlotta with more specialized units.

Io_(Grand)_BIo is a bit of a mixed bag. While she obviously gains a lot from this update, a lot of people were expecting her buff to be among the strongest since she has a limited character status. In the end, Io didn’t end up becoming the savior of Light as many people hoped, but she’s still an excellent character compared to her her pre-buff version.

Her overall supportive strength has increased by a lot, being able to now to nuke enemies for up to 1m4 damage and cast a 4 turns (ougi turn included) Stamina team buff, and a damage cap up buff. The stamina buff seems to be the same as Uno, meaning that it’s a 20% damage boost until you reach 50% HP or less, which pretty much never happens when you start to have a few swords. And even if that’s the case, Io will heal you for days, making sure that your HP remains high in any circumstances. She also has access to a team damage cap up buff, which seems somehow pretty ironical since light is probably one of the few elements where capping is actually difficult, and requires you to invest into characters like Song 5*.

That wouldn’t be too bad if activating those buffs didn’t require you to actually manage carefully your meter gauge, as she will consume up to 75% meter in order to get all her buffs, which is a pretty big issue in an element lacking both Trium and strong DA/TA buffers. Most of the time, you’ll be fine with only using 50% meter to get her stamina buff, since the cap up buff is rarely relevant in the actual state of light weaponry. The good thing is that Io will still buff in one way or another your light damage team, especially thanks to her passive that will grant your team between 10% and 25% light attack up depending on how many stacks you have on you. Free is free though, and passive attack buffs are pretty much some of the best you can get when you want to race hard.

Using Elysian, Dagger classes, Uplift on CR, Amira, Juliet or DLF for Revitalize are all options to consider in order to fill Io’s meter gauge as fast as possible, which could be reasons to make her less attractive as it restrain your team composition choices. But Io remains a character that still has an incredibly high potential, granted Cygames ever decides to grant Light some good primal weapons that would allow it to run Double Zeus compositions (much similarly to Double Varuna). Light Stamina and affordable Light Trium would pretty much solve all the issues Io currently has, allowing her to get meter easily and making her damage cap up buff suddenly vital in order to maximize light dps.
A little thought for Ferry who died a little more with this patch as yet again a character that wants to ougi often / needs to manage her meter gauge appears.

The Winners

720px-Cagliostro_C

Cagliostro‘s buff was pretty straightforward, but really efficient, and exactly what the character needed to shine again. Putting her up again to 5* standards, she now receives a buff on par, or even better than what characters like Altair can provide, granting the full offensive arsenal to your team with Attack up, Crit and DA/TA buffs. While the attack up mod remains normal, it’s pretty interesting to note that those buffs will stack with any other type of buff, never overlapping nor overwriting others.

That alone makes our favorite uncle become probably a must have for many players, being able to not only stack but sometimes even further synergize with other buffer characters (Mahira drum stacks for example), while still providing extremely good sustain to your team, as well as a clear. Not everything is perfect still with her improved skillset, her first skill remains rather weak (although AoE attacks have proven pretty efficient to remove mirror images against Water boss like Macula and Gabriel), and the clear is still stuck to your buffing skill. But since Cygames also fixed the cooldown reduction of the Phantasmagoria, bringing it to a 3/7 uptime, it’s not even that much of an issue anymore.

Uncle Cag, or should I say “Coreliostro” became one of those characters that remain a good investment for your team from the early to late game, and while she might not be included in every team and every fight as your character pool increases, she will always remain a good option for fights where utility is needed, which brings her up to par with other similar 5* characters in other elements.

Zeta_B

Rejoice Hanakana fans, as Fire Zeta finally gets her much needed upgrade, allowing her to go from one of the worst assassin in the game to one of the best. Why? Because she gets an incredibly strong move, stolen from Jamil, that most people refer to as Anytime Assassin. Use your first skill to place a mark for 90 seconds, use your second skill as long as the mark is still up on the enemy, and Zeta will unleash an Assassin move on the enemy, with the usual 1.16m auto cap break, and with a ~x3.4 total damage multiplier.

Still, the buff wouldn’t be that extraordinary if Zeta didn’t receive in a previous update her EMP passive, which grants her an impressive 50% DA / 35% TA buff whenever she casts her second skill. Combine it with the ougi effect from the Xeno scythe axe, and getting at least a DA on her assassin move is pretty guaranteed, with a TA being pretty likely as well.

That change makes Zeta already an incredibly good burst character, but there’s more. Zeta also got 3x Critical nodes with her EMP update, and the update also blessed her with more crit after her ougi, which ends up making her extremely likely to crit when facing wind enemies. This not only allows Zeta to reach with ease her Assassin auto cap, but it also allows her to have relatively high auto attack damage in general, and compensates well for the lack of an attack up self buff. And that even with a colo canes grid. Or maybe should I say that Colo cane grids are probably one of the grids that can make use of her potential the most.

Because Zeta still has a few flaws, much like every other fire attacker, and one of them is being completely unable to lower her own HP in an element that has a lot of options for Enmity (Ecke Sachs, Crimson Finger), whether it is Magna or Primal. Her lack of self DA/TA buff outside of assassin moves will force you to provide external support, most likely Korwa (magna only), Socie or weapons like Athena Spears / Benedia. And finally, her mark can also fail as it is a debuff, which would transform Zeta pretty much in dead weight if she were ever to miss her first skill, so using characters like the newly buffed Clarisse, and classes like Elysian could always be good calls here.

Still, if you manage to land her mark (which remains pretty likely), speed is of the essence as you should be able to use her Assassin twice in a 90 seconds time frame if you spam turns fast enough. Which means that if you play it smart enough, Zeta can provide you an assassin move every 6 turns, which most other assassins would kill to have (especially considering other dated ones like Birdman).

 

3 thoughts on “July Character Re-balance: First Impressions

  1. Io literally went from 0 and stayed on 0, i.e., people who had her didn’t use her, and will continue to not use her even after the patch.

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