A pleasant sunday... wait, monday to you! Hope you've been doing well. I'm a bit swamped when it between hobbies and current on-going exams which are going to end early to mid august, just to keep you updated. I hope everybody can understand. At least it's rainy and cooling down a bit, it's been pretty hot lately.
This banner is one many have looked out for for a longer time and you'll see why. For one, this is the first banner that gives us 130% imperils! So if you're building your team, you might be able to benefit from that as they come with fire, ice, dark and wind 130% imperils. Now we're missing the other half!
Banner Review: CG Vaan SoF Vaan & DH Penelo Dancer Penelo by Memel0rd
CG Vaan Seeker of Freedom Vaan: Trust Master Reward :
A Brother's Sentiments (Materia) - Increase physical evasion (20%) Increase resistance to paralyze (100%) Increase equipment ATK (50%) when dual wielding STMR :
Durandal (Sword) - 163 ATK, 30% Provoke, 30% Physical Evasion (doesn't stack btw)
Vaan is the highly anticipated unit for quite a few reasons. Not his character though, not too many people like him as a protagonist.
His base stats are really well rounded with high HP, DEF and SPR but focuses a lot of his ATK. Which can be used properly unlike a good bunch of other breakers. And while he does have 100% TDH, his own TMR focuses on TDW, it's easier to cap and can use the 6x chain cap. Other than that, he has only 120% ATK, which is significantly lower than meta damage dealers. In terms of survivability, he can be built in different fashions. His innate 70% HP and total 60% physical evasion can turn him into an evader extremely easily, and if you want some SPR and don't care about dealing damage, equipping a shield will grant another 40% SPR and 10% HP. In the meta section I'll go over the different build choices that SoF Vaan can utilise. He's resistant against paralyze through his TMR ability and through his TMR, double the trouble, petrification, poison and disease, which overall are decent resistances but leave out important ones such as Sleep or Confusion. He does have a 100% beast / human killer though, which are very common enemy types and his damage is definitely not bad either.
SoF Vaan can W-/T-Cast all of his abilities except for Luminescence, which is a shame as it is his only form of chaining via Aureole Ray. With Dualwield you can still cast it twice, which can be paired with MM Xon, Regis, Nichol of the Epsilon Star or if you're using her, SS Charlotte. It's a solid option for DV, though you'll have to seperate it from all other actions due to the limitations on it.
To match his massive 60% innate evasion well, SoF Vaan can use a 100% provoke that lasts 2 turns easily due to the T-Cast, but we'll talk about better options later down the road.
From here on, SoF Vaan has a set of incredible breaks and decent finishers. We'll start off with his damage options and then take a closer look at his breaking capabilities.
Vaan is really simple when it comes down to acting as a side finisher. He has three different finishers with 2000% modifiers, buffed up to 3000% later on, that either apply an 80% ST fullbreak or 120% fire wind imperil while unlocking stronger versions of themselves. The fullbreak itself is extremely useful to have on-demand and if his LB isn't available his best source of breaks.
After using the Fire or Wind Achilles, True versions will be unlocked that will keep unlocking themselves each time you use them. If you wait too long, you'll have to use the regular versions once. The difference isn't huge but sets a milestone in the FFBE meta: 130% imperils. SoF Vaan is the first unit to provide us with 130% imperils. The finishers are also slightly stronger with 2200% / 3200% modifiers.
How do you gain the modifier boost? Through Earthen Eruption, which is his first CD, available at Turn 1 with a 4 turn cooldown and neat self-buffs. For one, the 1000% modifier boost on all prior abilities as well as Red Spiral, his main finisher, while having a 4000% modifier itself and granting us a 250% ATK buff for 5 turns. Thus easily maintainable. Red Spiral itself is a plain 3500% / 4500% finisher that's on-demand and can be fit in whenever you want.
Outside of his ST 80% fullbreak, Vaan also has an on-demand AoE 75% fullbreak, which, yet again, is a great one to have on-demand, though due to the T-Cast you might just want the ST version a few times.
If that doesn't suffice, he is a CG Protagonist and thus gets his LB filled up fully at the start of the battle and it's amazing. It costs 34 crysts so can be a bit finicky to maintain without external support, but it surely does the job. An AoE 2 turn 85% fullbreak and an AoE 130% fire imperil while dealing decent-ish damage, which is nice for mob / event clearing. If you want a unit for events, this is likely the best deal. Instant access, huge breaks and imperil before dealing damage and then a nice mod. The breaks compete with last banner's Healing Avatar Lid with less turn duration but the novelty of having it available at Turn 1. Which makes this the highest Turn 1 break available without external support.
Now, SoF Vaan still has two aces up his sleeve in form of two different CD abilities.
His first one, Assault Strike+, shares the same niche as Healing Avatar Lid's though instead of having a 4 turn cooldown, has 6 turns. It's still a removal of all enemy buffs, leaving on all of your debuffs saving you additional work and it's just good.
The second one is truely remarkable. We all love to see some AoE mirages. At least I hope we do, because I do. Rikku (FFX-2) is great because of the AoE mirage that she can use each turn with her multi-cast. SoF Vaan simply uses Jade Parry once and then immediately casts an AoE mirage. The twist? Next turn, it'll auto-cast another AoE mirage. 2 turns after again. 3 turns after yet another time. So you use Jady Parry once and receive AoE mirages 3 times each turn without having to do anything. It's on a 4 turn cooldown as well so you can maintain it all the way unless he dies.
How does he fare in the meta?
SoF Vaan is an amazing unit hands down and is the one you most likely want from this banner.
He has two different main build choices.
If you have been around for some time and obtained a lot of the event gear in the past, such as K Producer's Jacket, Wrapped Gift and most importantly Moogle Charm, as well as grinded the FF12 event materia that grants 10% auto-provoke and physical evasion, you can gear him towards auto-provoke and evasion. All that on a unit with amazing breaks and other really good utility as well as a decent amount of finisher damage or AR chains.
If you don't need that because your e.g. Paladin Cecil absorbs everything by default, you might want to focus all on ATK because while his damage per se isn't as huge as other finishers, he's an excellent breaker and doesn't rely on more damage. It's there for you, for free, as long as you have natural chains going on you can just slap them in. His average damage that way is similar to WH Raegen, so it's excellent side damage for sure. "For free".
As the breaker role has it, I wouldn't say he's straight up the best breaker or outclasses Healing Avatar Lid, because he doesn't. He has a way inferior chaining game and can't grant his allies AMoE chains either, but if you're already settled on chainers in your team then I'd definitely recommend SoF Vaan over her any day of the week. That being said, he CAN still chain. Not super well, but you could break on Turn 1 with his LB and then AR chain with e.g. MM Xon.
For Dark Visions you could build him a bit more tankier if there are ambushes, outside of that can act as an amazing breaker due to his LB always being available at the start, even if you don't use it immediately on Turn 1. You don't have to build anything up and if you finish the fight on Turn 1 or Turn 2 is very likely the best option to use.
Definitely another well designed unit with cool niches similar to what people used Kryla for. With higher breaks and AoE mirages.
His TMR is so and so, great for him as it perfectly fits and could also be used for an evade provoking MM Xon, but 50% TDW with 20% phys dodge is often inferior to 50% TDW + ATK% or Dual Form (100% TDW). His STMR is the perfect fit for the type of build SoF Vaan goes for. 163 ATK, 30% phys dodge and 30% auto-provoke, which means this is also the first weapon we have to get 30% auto provoke. In terms of Auto-Provoke, it'd ease up on the chest slot and another materia slot while obviously granting 30% evasion on top of that. Even as another 30% evasion weapon itself it's great as the 30% provoke will be ignored as long as another unit has 100%. So you can pair it up with Butterfly Knives or Locke's Dagger and boom. One of the few STMRs I might actually STMR moogle simply because it can be used on so many different builds and benefit from a lot. Heck, even Paladin Cecil could use this extremely well.
Build + Maths: Seeker of Freedom Vaan Damage Build: https://ffbeEquip.com/builder.html?server=GL#8f3b13f0-cf48-11ea-8219-c768f320c4e6 Evade Provoker Build: https://ffbeEquip.com/builder.html?server=GL#d784a1d0-cf48-11ea-8219-c768f320c4e6
Seeker of Freedom Vaan Damage ATK post 250% buff: 3250 RH Assuming chain capping Rotation: Turn 1: Earthen Eruption + True Fire Achieles + Red Spiral Turn 2: True Fire Achilles + Red Spiral x2 Turn 3: Red Spiral x3 Turn 4: Red Spiral x3 Turn 5: True Fire Achilles + Red Spiral x2 Turn 1: [ 3250^2 x 40 + ( 3250^2 x ( 32 + 45 ) x 2.3 ) ] x 6 = 13758712500 Turn 2: 3250^2 x ( 32 + 45 x 2 ) x 6 x 2.3 = 17783025000 Turn 3: 3250^2 x 45 x 3 x 6 x 2.3 = 19677937500 Turn 4: 3250^2 x 45 x 3 x 6 x 2.3 = 19677937500 Turn 5: 3250^2 x ( 32 + 45 x 2 ) x 6 x 2.3 = 17783025000 Average Turn 1-5: 17,736,127,500 Highest Burst: 19,677,937,500 Character Design:
9.5/10 Trust Master Reward:
7/10 Limit Burst:
9.5/10 Future Proof:
9/10 Dark Visions:
9.5/10 Free 2 Play:
9.5/10 Pay 2 Play:
9.5/10 Personal Rating:
9.5/10 Optimal Rating:
9.5/10 Trust Master Reward :
Desert Bloom (Materia) - Increase MAG (40%) Increase equipment MAG (50%) and accuracy (25%) when single wielding any weapon STMR :
Rabanastre Dancer's Clothing (Clothes) - 22 DEF, 21 SPR, 71 MAG, +40% MAG
If you have one amazing unit on a banner, good chance you'll have a....
DH Penelo's base stats have the classy mage spread: Decent HP, mediocre DEF, high MP/MAG/SPR. Also what happened to her blue shining dagger? In offensive passives, not many mages can be as impressive as DH Penelo. I mean, with her own TMR she has an innate 200% MAG and 300% MTDH. Only with her TMR you already capped MTDH, which helps a lot, especially in gaining some bulk. Because the innate bulk is mediocre. 60% HP/DEF/SPR isn't bad and we've seen much worse but she'll need a helping hand. She does have a guts passive on top of it though, but due to her ease of use isn't a huge deal if she does die during the fight. She's resistant against confusion and charm, which leaves almost all status ailment widely open, but just like Vaan has a 100% beast / human killer, which are common enemy types.
Also I'm just assuming, so don't get offended when I do, I doubt any of you will use the 40% DEF/SPR + 10% HP passives from equipping shields. Hey... don't point at me like that.
DH Penelo can W-/T-Cast all of her abilities except for Lumiscence, which is the same as SoF Vaan's just that it scales with her MAG. It has all the physical mechanics going for it but the modifier of 2500% is too low in comparison and her innate killers also don't work. It's nice to have to bypass magic immunity if necessary, though would require a MTDW build to cast twice.
She does have a small set of supportive abilities but... they aren't super good. Well, some aren't. Her Mist Curaja and Mist Banish aren't that worth to use. The heal is too minor and a ST mirage has to be better than two stacks to be truly worthwhile. Mist Shellga can be good if you're still lacking magic mitigation and would need that 30% mit to survive, but in a good amount of team comps isn't needed. Mincing Minuet is a fantastic ST 70% fullbreak in emergency cases, but it's more likely for her to die first than the breaker. If you're a new player, this break will easily suffice for a long time.
And from here on we only have her damage dealing kit left. That was quick, eh?
All chains from here on are CWA chains and truth be told it's as simple as modern mages can get.
The structure is very very similar to SoF Vaan's mechanics.
You have a set of either Fire, Ice or Dark chains that have 3600%/3700% modifiers as well as their respective imperils and after using her CD ability, Channeling, which can be used right at the start and grants you an undispellable 250% MAG buff, upgrade.
These upgrades unlock themselves again, so once you get them you're basically settled. These upgrades have 4600% modifiers, or in dark's cases 4800%, imperil their respective element by 130% and imbue DH Penelo. The imbue isn't too important.
From here on you can either keep upgrading your Fire or Ice chains, while Fire is way superior.
Her fire chains have a matching CD ability, Ardor, which is available at Turn 1 with a 3 turn cooldown, imperil fire yet again and has a 6500% and then proceeds to buff Mist Firaja up by another 1000% for a total of 5600%. Which is nice.
The less ideal option would be Mist Blizzaja. You can get the modifier boost through her LB, which isn't a great LB, and the modifier boost would only be 600% instead of 1000%. It lasts for the rest of the battle though.
Mist Darkja has no modifier support what so ever but with T-Cast can chain nicely alongside Umbral Dragon Dark Fina, who has really high damage output.
How does she fare in the meta?
DH Penelo is... she's good.
Her damage is vastly inferior to UDD.Fina while also focusing on CWA chains and having less bulk, but also works nicely with her and proves to be the best partner for her in Dark Visions since all of Penelo's chains are ST, too. This does give her a good-ish niche in the meta, though every area that doesn't prefer dark element she'd lose out on Ace and Rem.
Her average damage is very similar to both BB Rem and WC Ace while lacking the bulk they have and lacking the great physical mechanics they utilise, thus limiting her quite a lot in DV due to only having three elements and having the common mage issues for finding proper chaining partners outside of the dark element. Especially since all other decent chainers with fire or ice element are AoE chaining instead of ST.
In trials she is decent though the damage difference between DH Penelo and UDD.Fina is massive. Yet again, you can use them simultaneously for dark damage in trials as long as it works.
In terms of pure damage she sets a good middleground but isn't ground breaking.
As long as you have a rod equipped, DH Penelo's TMR is a worse version of Top Operative, but they can stack with each other and can make for a good addition for MTDH builds. Besides, the MAG difference is minor and still makes a good TMR to get. Her STMR can be a really strong piece of clothing for mages with 71 MAG and 40% MAG, but you gotta keep in mind that it's Clothes, not robes. So some materias that depend on robes... you might want to equip different ones. It's a good STMR but I wouldn't moogle it.
Build + Maths: Dancing Heart Penelo Damage Build: https://ffbeEquip.com/builder.html?server=GL#55626c50-cf48-11ea-8219-c768f320c4e6 Realistic Build: https://ffbeEquip.com/builder.html?server=GL#3a46c460-cf49-11ea-8219-c768f320c4e6
Dancing Heart Penelo Damage MAG post 250% buff: 3845 Assuming spark chains Rotation: Turn 1: Channeling + Ardor + Mist Firaja Turn 2: Mist Firaja x3 Turn 3: Mist Firaja x3 Turn 4: Mist Firaja x2 + Ardor Turn 5: Mist Firaja x3 Turn 1: [ 3845^2 x 65 x 3.6115 + 3845^2 x 56 x 4 ] x 2.3 = 15598909369 Turn 2: [ 3845^2 x 56 x 3.6115 + 3845^2 x 56 x 2 x 4 ] x 2.3 = 22110414169 Turn 3: [ 3845^2 x 56 x 3.6115 + 3845^2 x 56 x 2 x 4 ] x 2.3 = 22110414169 Turn 4: [ 3845^2 x 56 x 3.6115 + 3845^2 x ( 56 + 65 ) x 4 ] x 2.3 = 23334531439 Turn 5: [ 3845^2 x 56 x 3.6115 + 3845^2 x 56 x 2 x 4 ] x 2.3 = 22110414169 Average Turn 1-5: 21,052,936,663 -> 141% of Serah's damage ( 14,967,170,643 ) -> 128% of Four Winds Physalis' damage ( 16,424,984,030 ) -> 102% of Benelovent Beauty Rem's Damage ( 20,587,710,541 ) -> 99% of Wild Card Ace's damage ( 21,172,119,331 ) -> 65% of Umbral Dragon Dark Fina damage ( 32,323,930,256 ) Character Design:
8/10 Trust Master Reward:
1/10 Limit Burst:
6/10 Future Proof:
6/10 Dark Visions:
5.5/10 Free 2 Play:
9/10 Pay 2 Play:
7/10 Personal Rating:
7.5/10 Optimal Rating:
For those with Healing Avatar Lid or Rikku a passable banner for sure but if you dig into it and get a nice Seeker of Freedom Vaan AND got the auto provoke gear.... rejoice my friend. Vaan is a valuable unit even past the introduction of Neo Visions and has two amazing niches other breakers don't fulfill while still having huge breaks to offer and some additional mirage support. Unless you're settled with another high tier breaker such as Rikku or HA Lid, I'd definitely recommend trying your luck. DH Penelo is a good mage but that's all you can really say about her. If you haven't gotten any good mages so far and you got her while pulling for Vaan, she is definitely a lot stronger than other mages that will just suffice, but if you're already invested into mages I wouldn't recommend going for her as she doesn't add a whole lot to the roster of mages and is behind the powercreep curve by a slight amount. And trust me, that curve will ramp up.
Hope you had a great weekend and a good start into the week. And hopefully I'll pass all the exams! NOW OFF to hang out with my flatmates a bit and then sleeps.