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Illyasviel von Einzbern
Debuts in Fate/Stay Night
Originates from you know I feel like Fate/ is culturally significant enough to justify including its own characters as 'major figures from literature,' it's at least as significant as the works of Dumas were in their day, what with being popular serialized fiction and all
Cheerful Mystic Code A: Increase own Buster Card Performance by 30%/50% for 1 turn. (Cooldown: 7/5 Turns)
Child of Nature B: Apply Invincible to self for 1 turn, and increase own NP Gain by 18%/28% for 3 turns. (Cooldown: 8/6 Turns)
Suspicious Medicine A: 70% chance to apply a 1000 HP Guts (1 time, 3 turns) to targeted ally, 70% chance to apply Nullify Debuff (1 time) to targeted ally, heal targeted ally for 1000/3000 HP. (Cooldown: 8/6 Turns)
Quintett Feuer (Buster): Increase own Buster Card Performance by 20% for 1 turn. Deal significant damage to an enemy. Decrease own Attack and Defense by 10% for 3 turns. (Has an Interlude to increase damage, and Increase own Star Drop Rate and NP Gain by 20% for 3 turns.) (Overcharge: Further increase Buster Card Performance)
+Second highest Attack of all Casters, even in JP
+Fairly high HP
+Double stacks Buster Buffs, making her NP hit very hard
+Overcharge helps her NP immensely, she can do huge burst turns with the right setup
+Has a passive that gives her 3% NP Gauge per turn (I usually ignore Passives, but this is worth noting)
+Has two NP Gain increases after her interlude
+Second skill is fairly low cooldown for what it does
+Has an interlude, in general
+Third skill has decent effects on it, and can help her ignore the demerits on her NP
-NP has demerits to begin with. It doesn't have a higher modifier than usual, and Bedivere has the same Overcharge effect on his without any drawback, so this is an odd choice
-Third skill is RNG
-NP Gain is fairly average even with her two NP gain buffs and three arts cards
-Can't generate stars at all, even with the interlude buff
-Is a damage servant without any crit skills
-Can't Buster Brave Chain
-Only team support is RNG
Overall Opinion: Illyasviel is built for huge burst turns, which makes her excellent at clearing out high end bosses at the end of Part 1. However, Part 1.5 introduces bosses with multiple health bars, meaning that excessive damage is often wasted. Ilya can still contribute, but you need to be choosier with when she dumps her damage and keeping her alive and sustained. She's a little finnicky for what she does, even if a huge Caster-shaped beatstick is pretty hard to come across. It doesn't help that Part 1.5 also introduces Alter-Egos, who are almost universally huge beatsticks, and are effective against Assassin bosses. And that Sanzang, a slightly weaker but much more sustainable servant, exists. Ilya's usable, but she's basically one and done without the right setup, and tossing a big nuke onto a boss gets less and less useful as the game goes on.
Recommended Craft Essences: Ilya exists to drop a big NP on people. As such, I recommend craft essences that boost NP Gain or starting NP, and then also boost NP Strength. Examples would include Cute Orangette, Halloween Princess, or the chef's recommendation, Demonic Bodhisattva, which takes advantage of her strong Overcharge effect.
Chloe von Einzbern
Debuts in Prism Ilya
Originates from Prism Ilya is like that one Monte Cristo ripoff set in space that your college professor made you read for some reason
Mind's Eye (Fake) B: Apply Evade to self for 1 turn. Increase own Critical Strength by 18%/36% for 3 turns. (Cooldown: 8/6 Turns)
Projection B: Increase Buster/Quick/Arts Performance by 20%/35% for 1 turn. (Cooldown: 8/6 Turns)
Kissing Freak B: Increase own NP Gauge by 30%/50%. Increase own Star Drop Rate by 50%/100% for 3 turns. (Cooldown: 8/6 Turns) (Strengthening Quest: Increase Ilya's Buff Success Rate by 30% for 3 turns)
Triple Crane Wings (Arts): Apply Sure Hit to self for 1 turn. Deal significant damage to a single enemy. Decrease enemy's Critical Rate by 20% for 3 turns. (Overcharge: Further decrease Critical Rate)
+Third highest attack of all 4* Archers
+Can crit well thanks to Mind's Eye
+Extremely good NP Gain
+Very good stargen with Kissing Freak
+NP generates a lot of NP back on its own
+Can Arts Brave Chain to refill NP, back to full if she crits
+Kissing Demon can help patch up turns where you can't arts brave chain
+Extremely sustainable damage
+Having an Evade is nice
-Doesn't have a Star Weight skill, so can have some troubles getting stars for arts crit shenanigans
-Only one Buster card
-Quick cards are kind of lackluster in terms of NP Gain
-No team support
-Has what is probably the most absurdly specific synergy in the game
Overall Opinion: Chloe is just very, very good. She isn't going to blow you away with ludicrous damage numbers, but she just keeps NPing, over and over, until the enemy is dead, and the fact that she has NP5 to go along with that means that her sustained damage is among the highest in the game, outdamaging even Summer Arturia unless you somehow get her to NP2-3ish. And even then, Chloe has crit fun. There's very little to complain about with Chloe, she's just really solid at killing bosses and high-HP generic enemies.
Recommended Craft Essences Chloe likes Arts Performance, NP Strength, and Crit Damage. I recommend Formalcraft, Another Ending, and Emerald Float.
Debuts in Fate/Grand Order
Originates from Arco Wada was really into the female warriors in Dragon Quest 3, so really we have Akira Toriyama to blame for this
Hero's Great Principle B: Apply Invincible to self for 1 turn. Increase own NP Gain by 30%/50% for 1 turn. (Cooldown: 8/6 Turns)
Mana Burst (Bravery) D: Increase own Buster Performance by 20%/40% for 1 turn. Increase own Defense by 20% for 1 turn. (Cooldown: 7/5 Turns)
Legendary Crimson Hero EX: Requires 100% NP Gauge or more to activate. Reduce own NP Gauge by 100%. Randomly apply one of the following effects:
Increase all allies Buster Performance by 30%/50% for 3 turns.
Apply Invincible to all allies for 1 turn.
Restore HP of all allies by 2000/3000.
Increase Attack of all allies by 30%/50% for 1 turn.
Generate 30/50 Critical Stars. (Cooldown: 8/6 Turns)
Bathory Brave Erzsebet (Buster): Deal significant Defense-ignoring damage to a single enemy. Apply a 500 damage burn to the target for 5 turns. (Overcharge: Further increase Burn Damage)
+Some of the effects on her third skill are insanely good
+Decent attack and HP
+All of her skills have some kind of defensive effect
+Her NP does good damage due to NP5, her Buster boost, and ignoring defense
+Can Buster Brave Chain with her NP
+Decent NP Gain, especially with first skill
-Her third skill is still functionally useless and practically doesn't exist, unless you're about to die to an AOE NP and really want to gamble on the invincibility. It's too gimmicky to rely on.
-Insanely finicky, due to all her skills being double-layered. Do you want NP gain? Hope you like blowing your invuln
-Despite how finicky she is, doesn't actually do much besides hit stuff and not die
-No crit or star-related skills (No, her third skill doesn't count)
Overall Opinion: Brave Liz is basically the poster child for 'usable but unexceptional welfare.' She hits decently hard, has a decent NP, has no major flaws outside of her third skill being more of a joke than anything, she just doesn't do a whole lot outside of existing. She's generally outclassed by Bedivere as a ST Buster Saber if you have him at even NP2, but she at least has her free NP5 going for her. And being decent but unexciting isn't really a bad thing.
Recommend Craft Essences: What you see is what you get with Brave Liz. She wants anything that boosts her NP while also giving a Buster up, and that's about it. Starting NP, NP Gain, NP Strength, it all works. I recommend Pharaoh Chocolate, Brave Hero Eli-Chan,, and Our Conquest is the Sea of Stars, but there's a ton of things she works fine with, even just generic Buster ups.
Debuts in Fate/Grand Order
Originates from the Ptolemaic Kingdom of Egypt
Imperial Privilege A: 60% chance to increase own Attack by 20%/40%. 60% chance to increase own Defense by 20%/40%. Heal self for 1000/3000 HP. (Cooldown: 7/5 Turns)
Golden Rule (Wealth and Body) B: Increase own NP Gain by 20%/40% for 3 turns. Increase own NP Gauge by 10% every turn for 3 turns. Heal self for 500/1000 HP every turn for 3 turns. (Cooldown: 8/6 Turns)
Protection of the Goddess C: Apply Invincible to self for 1 turn. Remove all debuffs from self. Gain 10/20 Critical Stars. (Cooldown: 8/6 Turns)
Uraeus Astrape (Buster): Increase own Buster Performance by 30% for 1 turn. Deal heavy damage to all enemies. Decrease own HP by 1000. (Overcharge: Further increase Buster Performance)
+Fairly high HP
+Insanely survivable, due to all skills having low cooldowns and strong defensive/healing effects
+NP does decent damage due to the buff on it
+Can Buster Brave Chain with NP
+Incredibly high NP gain and Stargen
+NP Gain and Stargen further boosted by having two skills that support them
+Buffs on Imperial Privilege are huge if they trigger
-Imperial Privilege is very RNG dependant
-Second lowest attack of all 5* Assassins
-Has no direct, reliable attack buffs
-NP damage is kneecapped by being AOE
-Only one arts card makes 'unlocking' her NP gain cumbersome
-Has no taunt to take advantage of her survivability
-Has no guts to really open up her solo potential
Overall Opinion: Cleopatra is like that one Simpsons gag with the haunted doll, where the guy says something and Homer goes 'that's good!' and then the guy says something else and he says 'that's bad...' Cleopatra has one of the best Overcharge effects in the game, the Buster gimmick Ilya and Bedivere also have, but at a higher grade. (That's good). But her NP is AOE, so she can't fully become a boss killer, even if it helps farming. (That's kinda bad.) She's insanely survivable (that's good) but she has no way to take advantage of that other than hoping the enemy tries to hit her (that's bad.) Her imperial privilege gives huge buffs, but it's RNG. She has among the best NP gain and Stargen in the game, but she can't loop these things into each other due to her buster NP, so she's locked off from the kinds of plays Chloe and Jack can make. She has all these stars, but she has no crit damage or star weight skills.
Cleopatra functions best as a support/secondary attacker for a real heavy hitting Assassin, like King Hassan, and in that role she excels. She'll never die, she'll constantly make stars, she'll bust out her own strong NP a decent amount, and she can use the fact that her NP's AOE to take out an earlier wave and speed up the process. There are lots of little tweaks to her that you could do to make her a lot better than she is, but as she is, she's still good. And if you're fighting a Berserker boss, pair her with Ozy for her to suddenly rocket up into being 9/10.
Recommend Craft Essences: Cleopatra can work well with a lot of Craft Essences. If you want her to be a pure support, 2030 is the obvious choice. If you want her to take advantage of the stars she makes herself, give her Talk on the Heated Sands or Former Wish. If you want to live a gimmick, give her Maid in Halloween. Little Halloween Devil, Halloween Princess, Demonic Boddhisvata, and Black Grail all also work for increasing her NP damage or ability to spam her NP. Cleopatra does so many things that there's a lot of CEs that work on her, so feel free to experiment.
Vlad III (Extra)
Debuts in Fate/Extra
Originates from 15th Century Romania
Protection of the Faith A++: Increase own Debuff Resist by 50%/100% for 3 turns. Heal self for 1000/2500 HP. Increase own Defense by 20%/40% for 1 turn. Increase own Attack by 10%/20% for 3 turns. (Cooldown: 7/5 Turns)
Tactics B: Increase NP Strength of all allies by 9%/18%. (Cooldown: 7/5 Turns)
Innocent Monster A: Generate 5/10 Critical Stars a turn for 3 turns. Apply Taunt to self for 1 turn. (Cooldown: 7/5 Turns)
Kazikli Bey (Buster): Apply Ignore Invincible to self for 1 turn. Deal significant damage to a single enemy, and additional damage if the target is [Evil]. (Overcharge: Further increase damage to [Evil])
+Very high HP, approaching some 5* Lancers
+Protection of the Faith stacks an insane amount of buffs on a very short cooldown
+Has a taunt on a very short cooldown
+Innocent Monster and Protection of the Faith feed into each other well, and share cooldowns, so they can always be combo'd
+Ignore Invincible is nice to have
+[Evil] is an incredibly common target to hit for how much damage he gets off of hitting it
+Can Buster Brave Chain
+Great NP Gain, decent Stargen
+Basically immune to debuffs
-Fairly, though not extremely, low attack
-Has two attack buffs, but they're both fairly weak
-Tactics is pretty underwhelming
-No Star Weight or Crit Damage skills
-Ultimately, doesn't do too much damage to non-[Evil] targets
-Has taunt, but lacks Guts, Evade, or Invincibility
Overall Opinion: Extra Vlad is great, and he's great almost entirely because they decided to shit seventeen effects onto Protection of the Faith. It has more effects on it than some launch servants have across their entire kits, and they're all pretty good, even the Debuff Resist due to how high the numbers are on it. Combine that with having a taunt, a strong NP, and good NP gain, and yeah, he's a really good servant. His damage against non-[Evil] servants is middling, and he isn't a huge taunt machine like George, Leonidas, or D'Eon, but the fact that he has a taunt at all is rare, and he function fine as a backup tank that also brings a ton of survivability. And if the enemy is [Evil], and that's a pretty common thing, his damage skyrockets.
Recommend Craft Essences: Extra Vlad likes things that help him make use of his stars, increase his Buster damage or NP damage, or help him survive. You're usually going to have to sacrifice at least one of those things when selecting a CE for him. Tales of Love and Hope is a good choice if you want him to crit, Maiden Leading Chaldea is a good choice if you want him in more of a secondary attacker role, and while the numbers on it are low due to it being a 4*, King Joker Jack boosts his survivability a little bit while also increasing his damage, so it's worth a look as an all-purpose CE.