2021 and the second year of King of Fighters All-Star International are coming to a close. With the Guilty Gear collaboration wrapped up, and plenty of time to have tested the recently released Special Signature Chizuru, now is the perfect time for a year-end tier list update.
There are hundreds of characters in the game now and tons of different build combinations. There are many to consider when building a character now, so the last thing you want to do is build up a character that is inadequate in the current meta (Unless they are a favorite character of yours. In that case, build away). That’s where this King of Fighters All Star Tier List comes into play. So whether you’re a seasoned or new player, you will know what your best options are. There’s a ton we need to dive into, so let’s get started.
Explaining the game mechanics
Before we dive into the King of Fighters All Stars Tier List for December 2021, let’s explain the basics of the game.
The Five Elements
Each character in the game belongs to an element. There are five elements in total: Red, Blue, Purple, Yellow, and Green.
- Red is strong against Green
- Green is strong against Yellow
- Yellow is strong against Purple
- Purple is strong against Blue
- Blue is strong against Red
Elemental advantage or disadvantage is either moot or critically important, depending on the game mode. Take Absolute War, for example; so long as your character is strong enough, you’re going to nuke down everything. But in a game mode like Element Advent Dungeon or Immortal Dungeon, elemental disadvantage means you will take significantly more damage, and your characters will die easier. In Reviving Hell’s Dungeon, you flat out cannot use fighters of the required Element at all.
The Three Types
Along with having an Element, each character in the game also has a type. There are three types: Attack, Defense, and Balanced. The type of the character will determine said character’s primary base stats: Attack, Defense, and HP.
- Attack Type fighters have the highest base attack stats of all the three types but the lowest HP and defense.
- Defense Type fighters have the highest defense and HP stats of all the three types but the lowest attack stats.
- Balance Type fighters have attack stats moderately higher than Defense Types but still significantly lower than Attack Types. They also have HP and Defense relatively higher than Attack Types, but significantly lower HP and far lower Defense than Defense Types.
When the game first started, these base stat differences mattered significantly. Defense Types clearly couldn’t keep up Attack Types in raw offensive power, etc.
But back then, we didn’t have the awakening system.
We didn’t have FES card sets or imprint stones.
We didn’t have transcended cards or the fame system.
Presently, base stats really don’t matter nearly as much as they used to. Sure, some Attack Types are still really frail, but there are many dominant Defense and Balanced Types on the offensive side of things. As a result, you can essentially ignore base stats these days. The character kit is the most important thing.
The six-character classes
Every character in the game fall under one of six classes. These classes are:
- Bronze border
- Silver border
- Gold border
- Special Signature
- Boss Syndrome
At this stage in the game, FES, SS, and BS characters are the only characters especially relevant. The lower classes still have value in certain PVE content, but you should not be investing too heavily into them.
Each character in the game has a total of eight skills:
- Three active skills
- One level 3 finisher skill that uses three bars of power
- One level 5 finisher, also known as the Ultimate skill. These Ultimate skills use three or five bars of power
- One Striker skill, only useable when the character is in the Striker spot in your team composition
- A leader skill, which applies to every applicable member of the team when a character is placed in the first spot of your team
- An Awakened skill, which you can only use if a character is awakened.
Active Skills and Finishers all fall under one of three categories:
- Blast skill
- Strike skill
- Grab skill
Grab skills are the redheaded stepchild of the family, as grab skills are easily cancellable. For this reason, grab skills are the worst skills for PvE content (Except for PVEPVP content).
Using active skills gives you power. When you have three or five bars of power you can activate the finishers of your characters. Some characters have 3-PG Ultimate skills, and these are the cream of the crop for PvE content. Ultimate skills not only do great damage but also stall the timer. Time stalling is a heavily used technique in this game, so you want characters that can do it effectively.
3-PG Ultimate skills are not always the best Ultimate to use, however. Take Orochi Leona, for example. Her 3-PG Ultimate is terrible because it is extremely short. And since she has a skill in her kit that greatly increases her power charge rate, she can easily reach five bars of power. And since her 5-PG Ultimate is much longer than her 3-PG Ultimate, her 5-PG is the best option.
But generally speaking, 3-PG Ultimate skills are better.
Striker skills are extremely useful and range from stun effects or heals or healing effects to specific DOT damage or attack buffs.
The Leader skill applies when you have a character in the first slot of your team. Leader skills range from buffing stats to increasing the potency of specific DOT effects. Most Leader skills only apply to certain elements, types, or team tags.
Last but not least, we have the Awakened skill. Activating an awakening skill increases a character’s attack and defense, resets skill cooldowns, and decreases active skill cooldowns by 80%.
Special Signature and Boss Syndrome characters have an advantage over everyone else. The awakened skills of SS and BS characters increase attack and defense by 6% and last for 13 seconds. The awakened skills of everyone else increase attack and defense by 5% and last 10 seconds.
Core and Core Effects
Every character in the game has a core grid and core effects. It cannot be accessed unless you invest in the core grid. Always max out the core grid of every character you intend to use.
But we’ve gone on long enough about the game mechanics, haven’t we? You’re here for a KOFAS Tier List. So let’s get on with the main event!
Explaining the Tier List
There are hundreds of characters in KOFAS, and ranking all of them would not only take an eternity but would also be pointless. A lot of characters now are little more than Codex fodder. This tier list is to help you optimize using your resources by investing in the best characters. For that reason, I will be picking a handful of characters per element per tier.
To keep things organized, I will be listing characters in order by their respective element. The order will be Red->Green->Yellow->Purple->Blue.
The tier list designations go as follows:
SS Tier- The best of the best
S Tier- Top tier characters who can’t keep up damage-wise with SS tier characters, but great characters nevertheless
A tier- Good characters, but they’ve dropped down in the meta significantly; Likely due to power creep.
Sol Badguy (Red/Balanced)
Coming in as the number one Red unit in the game, and the number one unit in the game (In my opinion) is Sol Badguy!
Now I know that some of you may be surprised by this pick. After all, Sol Badguy is a character that every player could get for free at 3-star awakened. But him being free is one of the reasons why he’s the best character in the game.
So, what makes Sol Badguy so good? It all boils down to one thing: DOT explosion. The Guilty Gear characters have set a new ceiling for DOT explosion effects. Before they came around, characters with DOT explosions typically had multipliers like 2X, 2.5x, 3X, etc. But Sol Badguy? His DOT explosion has a 5.5X multiplier. And with a mere 1-second cooldown, he can essentially spam it.
The key to getting the most damage out of Sol Badguy is by using his charged first skill so you can let the burn explosions rip. His third skill increases target damage received by a whopping 28%. His 3-PG default finisher increases target damage received by 15%, so that’s always great to weave into your skill rotation as well. The 30% power charge rate in his core means that he can use his finishers very quickly. Offensively speaking, Sol Badguy is a monster capable of nuking down pretty much anything. He will hard carry you through content for a very long time.
What I love most about Sol Badguy and the Guilty Gear collab, in general, is the revival of scaling DOT damage. After Netmarble released the awakening system, valuable DOT damage cards sets like the Gintama set and Seven Knights set began to lose prominence.
It reached a point where scaling DOT damage began to suffer from diminishing returns as there was no reason to scale DOT damage over your attack. But with Sol Badguy, you will get better results by scaling DOT damage because all of his damage comes from his burn explosion. That’s why I recommend giving Sol three burn damage imprint stones instead of the Guilty Gear imprint stones.
This is great for the future of characters that rely on DOT damage and gives players more options when deciding character builds and what cards to build up.
Sol is also no slouch when it comes to defense. He gets Super Armor while charging his Gunflame skill, so he cannot be interrupted. His third skill has Hyper Armor which gives Super Armor and damage immunity for three seconds.
He has fantastic defensive core effects, having a 30% chance to stun opponents for three seconds when attacked, and can heal 10% HP over ten seconds when he drops below 50% HP. His Bounty Hunter core effect gives him a shield that absorbs damage for 7 seconds, or until it receives 20 hits. And like all Guilty Gear characters, he decreases damage received by 70% for 3 seconds after he receives 5 accumulated attacks.
So yes, he is a monster. Sol Badguy is superb in virtually every piece of content in the game. He easily one keys every difficulty of Guild Raid Rugal and Nightmare Geese. His Red Balanced typing makes him great for late-game RHD, which requires a Red Balanced team. He’s fantastic for most Team Relay Dungeons, especially Immortal Rahk and Immortal Nix. He’s also amazing in PVEPVP content like Chapter of Fight and Absolute War.
And he’s a completely free character. Everyone playing during the Guilty Gear collaboration should have him at least at 3-star awakened. You could obtain two generic SS memories from the Guilty Gear collab, and you better believe that Sol deserves them. Feel free to take Sol Badguy up to 5-star awakened because he is the best character in the game.
Boss Syndrome Goenitz (Red/Attack)
Not too far behind Sol Badguy is Boss Syndrome Goenitz. Boss Syndrome Goenitz and Boss Syndrome Leona brought a new level of power to the game, making previous BS characters somewhat pale in comparison.
BS Goenitz has an amazing leadership skill that increases the attack of red element fighters by 65%. This is the highest single stat buff leadership currently in the game.
Goenitz has double DOT damage in his kit, dealing Bloodshed damage with his first skill and shock damage with his 3-PG default. His third skill increases his attack by 35% and deals an additional 20% damage to bleeding targets. He also has a core effect that increases all active skill damage by 80% on bleeding targets. Make sure to weave in his 3-PG finisher, as he has a 70% chance of resetting his active skill cooldown upon landing a hit to shocked targets.
On the defensive side of things, Goenitz has Hyper Armor on his second skill and a 60% chance to remove Super or Hyper Armor from an opponent. He also has the OP fear effect, having a 50% chance to inflict fear on enemies when attacked. He also has a 7-second shield that can absorb 20 hits that activates when he uses an active skill.
Despite having all this going for him, Goenitz is a massive glass cannon. He absolutely cannot take any hits and gets killed very easily. That is what ultimately lowers his stock, but overall it doesn’t matter as much as you may think. Once properly built, Goenitz kills everything before they have a chance to lay hands on him.
Special Signature Nyotengu (Red/Defense)
The first thing that stands out in SS Nyotengu’s kit is her leadership. Most of the strongest characters in the game are female fighters. So a leadership that increases female fighters’ attacks by 45% and power charge rate by 20% is absolutely timeless.
The second highlight of SS Nyotengu is how tanky she is. She is incredibly durable, which makes her very annoying to fight in PVEPVP content. She has the same 7-second, 20-hit bubble shield as most other SS/BS characters. The Dead or Alive special core effect also decreases damage received by 30% for 5 seconds when attacked. And it’s only on a 5-second cooldown. She also has Hyper Armor on her second skill. Yeah, she’s annoying.
Nyotengu is also very potent offensively. She only has bleed damage, which isn’t the most premium DOT damage out there, but her raw power makes up for it. Her first skill increases her attack equal to 47% of her defense for eight seconds, and her third skill increases attack by 35% for eight seconds. Combine these with her second skill, which increases target damage received by 22%, and you have a monster of a character.
SS Nyotengu is everything you can ask for. Fantastic leadership, a 12% HP heal striker skill for support, excellent damage output, and very strong defensive capabilities. It pains me to this day that SS Nyotengu is the one character from the Dead or Alive Collab that I did not pull.
Angel of Paradise Honoka (Red/Attack)
Angel of Paradise Honoka holds a special place in the community. While she isn’t the first collaboration FES character to be better than some SS/BS characters, she was the first recognized for it.
Angel of Paradise Honoka has a great leader skill for DoA characters, increasing their attack by 45% and power charge rate by 20%. She has a great double DOT damage kit, capable of dealing with burn and starlight damage. Her first skill is an absolute nuke that is excellent for one-shotting enemies in PVEPVP content.
Her core effect of stunning opponents inflicted with burn or starlight for 3 seconds upon attacking them is great for setting up a combo. Use her ranged one skill to inflict burn, then the second skill for the attack increase and damage immunity, then the third skill to finish them off.
Honoka shines most when spamming her awakened skill rotation, as her active skill damage is bumped by 50% when attack enemies inflicted with burn or starlight.
Honoka’s single glaring weakness is that her skills do not have many hits. Because of this, she isn’t great for shield shredding in Guild Raid. I recommend you let someone else do that for her, and once the shield is down, Honoka can go to town.
Special Signature Mai (Red/Attack)
SS Mai is the first Special Signature character released in KOFAS, and while she has definitely been power crept by newer characters (Like AoP Honoka), she is still a powerhouse.
Mai has a great leader skill for female fighters, increasing their attack by 60% while lowering HP by 5%. Like Sol Badguy, she’s all about burn damage. She has to burn damage on two of her skills and increases active skill damage by 50% when attacking burned enemies. Her third skill also increases her attack by 28% for 7 seconds.
Mai has a solid amount of survivability for an Attack Type. She has 3 seconds of Hyper Armor on her first skill, and her third skill gives 50% damage reduction for 3 seconds. Both her second and third skills can heavily reduce enemy power charge rate, making it harder for them to use their finishers. Her core effects also grant her burn immunity and freeze immunity after she uses her 3-PG default finisher.
Special Signature K (Red/Balanced)
Special Signature K is a bit of a bittersweet character. K is an extremely popular character, and the community craved an SS version of him for a long time. We expected him to be the King of Burn. He’s not even close.
He is, however, still a top-tier character.
SS K is a Red Balanced unit, great for RHD, and he has an incredible leader skill which buffs All-Star Fighters’ attack by 55% while lowering HP by 5%. Almost all of the best characters in the game are All-Star fighters, so his leader skill has a lot of value.
K has two attack buffing skills, on Second Shoot and Minutes Spike EX, and can increase his penetration by 1400% with Second Knuckle. He has Hyper Armor on his first skill and can remove Hyper/Super Armor with Crimson Star Road Combo.
What makes SS K a disappointing character is his underwhelming damage compared to other top-tier characters. He has no damage increase when attacking burned characters, and his DOT explosion on Crimson Star Road Combo is weak. It only has a 1.8X multiplier. Even Summer K has a stronger DOT explosion multiplier. And his is built into his core, and he’s a gold border character.
SS K is a strong character but definitely on the power creep chopping block moving forward.
The Guilty Gear collaboration was easily the best in KOFAS history. One of the reasons for this is the pro-player move of significantly upping the power level of FES Collab characters. There are three SS/BS characters in the SS tier for the Green element, and none of them are number one. That spot goes to I-No.
I-No has a great leader skill for Guilty Gear fighters, increasing attack by 60% and lowering HP by 5%. She possesses the amazing DOT split of poison damage and shock damage, making her perfect for Nightmare Geese Guild Raid. She deals poison damage with her first skill and shock damage with her third. She can also reset the cooldown of her second skill, which gives her Hyper Armor, by landing an active skill on a shocked opponent. Oh yeah, and her third skill gives her a 38% attack boost too.
Part of what makes I-No so strong is that she has a DOT explosion with a 5.5X multiplier. Just like Sol Badguy. One of her core effects gives her a 30% increase in poison attack damage, so while her shock is nice too, poison is where her big numbers come from.
I-No is the number one Green fighter because she deals damage. Incredible damage output, lots of hits on her skills, which make her great for shield shredding, and extremely useful DOT split. The reason why this is so great for players is that collab FES units are way easier to build and max out than SS/BS units.
With SS/BS units, your only option is summoning on the banner and using rare generic SS/BS memories to rank them up. But with standard collab FES units, you can use any FES memories to create dimensional invitations to level up your collab FES characters.
In some ways, this makes saving your rubies for collaborations the new meta, as the rates in this game can be pretty brutal. I spent 50,000 rubies to get BS Goenitz, and BS Leona to 3-star awakened. With collab FES characters, you only *need* to pull them once. Fantastic value and fantastic character.
Special Signature Yuri (Green/Attack)
SS Yuri is as strong as she is adorable. Yuri arguably has the best leader skill in the entire game, increasing All-Star fighters’ attack by 45% and power charge rate by 20%. Her first skill applies a 20% increase to target damage received, and while charging, that goes up to 30%. Her charged first skill also increases her penetration by 1500.
Her second skill increases her attack by 35% for 7 seconds and only has a 70% chance of removing Hyper/Super armor from an opponent. She also has a core effect that has a 100% chance of removing Hyper/Super Armor while giving herself Hyper Armor on a 15-second cooldown. As per usual, she has the signature SS/BS bubble shield.
On top of all that, her third skill has burn explosion with a 3.8X multiplier (If you are still wondering why people were disappointed in SS K, this is why). Her 3-PG default grants her 15% power and increases attack by 15% upon use. Yeah, this Chibi girl is strong.
Boss Syndrome Nightmare Geese (Green/Attack)
Nightmare Geese is a fitting name for the character as he can be a nightmare for your enemies to go up against. He has a super strong leader skill of increasing Attack Type fighters’ attacks by 45% and power charge rate by 20%. Many of the strongest characters in the game are Attack Types, so this will always have value.
Nightmare Geese has an excellent DOT split of shock damage and lightning damage, great for Guild Raid, Team Relay Dungeons, and Spider Robot. His first skill deals shock damage and gives him 4 seconds of 75% damage reduction, which makes him pretty tanky. His second skill grants Hyper Armor for 3 seconds and has a 70% chance to ignore the target’s guard. Finally, his third skill applies Blackout and gives him a 30% attack increase for 7 seconds.
He deals 50% increased damage to enemies affected by shock or darkness, and his second skill has a 50% chance of resetting the cooldown of his first and third skills.
And we can’t end this off without talking about his massive 40% chance of applying Fear upon landing an Active Skill. Keep in mind that after using your awakening skill, you can spam skills. So it *will* happen.
There aren’t too many flaws in Nightmare Geese’s kit. His damage isn’t as strong as most would like it to be, and skill canceling his third skill can be a little sluggish. But overall, he’s a fantastic, well-rounded character.
Special Signature Marie Rose (Green/Balanced)
Our last SS tier Green fighter is SS Marie Rose. She is a free SS character that everyone could obtain during the Dead or Alive collab event.
Regarding her leader skill, she is basically the Balanced version of Nightmare Geese. She increases Balanced Type fighters’ attack by 45% and power charge rate by 20%.
Marie Rose has a couple of things going for her in her kit. She has starlight damage, which is the most premium DOT damage in the game. Her first skill gives her Hyper Armor and has a PVP exclusive that disables the enemy’s active skills for 4 seconds upon landing a skill. Her second skill grants super armor and increases target damage received by 26%, and her third skill deals starlight damage and increases her attack by 35% and penetration by 1400.
Using her first skill also resets the cooldown of her second and third skills. A good skill rotation is to use the second skill for the Super Armor so you can’t be interrupted, then the third skill, followed by the first skill for the reset and Hyper Armor.
Marie Rose is arguably at her best in PVEPVP content. She has a core effect that reduces damage received by 75% when she has 50% HP. She also has a 50% chance to stun an enemy for 3 seconds when attacked. That’s on top of the Dead or Alive core passive of reducing damage by 30% for 5 seconds when attacked. She is an extremely durable character and a mainstay for Balance Type League and Chapter of Fight.
Special Signature King (Yellow/Balanced)
People in the community didn’t think the developers would release anyone stronger than BS Goenitz or BS Leona for a while. And then immediately, after their banner, they released SS King.
SS King was a long-awaited character since King didn’t even have a regular FES unit up to that point. As a result, King was a very irrelevant fan favorite for a long time. That time has definitely passed, as SS King is an absolute monster.
SS King is so strong that she can nearly reach 400 million in Spider Robot by herself. Not only has that never been done before, but no other character came close to achieving that.
What makes SS King such a powerhouse is her multipliers. She increases active skill damage deal to enemies inflicted by darkness by a whopping 120%. She also has a 30% chance of dealing damage equal to 700% of her attack on a 13-second cooldown.
Her first skill increases target damage received by 25% in base, and by 30% when charged. Her charged first skill also increases penetration by 1500. Her second skill increases her attack by 35% and stuns the target for 3 seconds as an insult to injury.
Her third skill gives Hyper Armor for 3 seconds and has a 60% chance of removing Hyper/Super Armor. You also reset all of King’s active skill cooldown timers by using her third skill.
If all that isn’t enough, King also has a 70% chance to remove shield effects from enemies upon landing an active skill. This makes her an absolute terror in PVEPVP content. She stuns you, she removes your shield, and you’re dead. I would argue that SS King is the single strongest damage dealer in the game. King fans rejoice.
There were six characters in the Guilty Gear collab, and five of them have made their way to the top of the SS tier.
The value that Ramlethal provides your roster is simply incredible. She’s a Yellow Defense Type, which you need for RHD, and she has the best DOT split in the game; Starlight and Darkness. Both of these are incredibly useful for Guild Raid.
Her first skill increases attack by 35%, deals with darkness damage and starlight explosion with a 5.5X multiplier. Her second skill deals starlight damage and darkness explosion with a 5.5X multiplier. And it applies the fear effect. Her third skill provides her with Hyper Armor, which you can use even while being attacked.
Ramlethal’s 3-PG default finisher deals with both starlight and darkness damage as well, so you will want to use it more so than you would with other characters. She also has some really strong core effects. She has a 70% chance of applying fear to attackers when she is attacked and a 40% chance of dealing additional damage equal to 650% of her attack upon landing an attack. This is definitely a lethal ram if I ever saw one (See what I did there).
Because of the overall utility she provides, along with the top-tier damage, there is debate whether or not if she is the best Yellow Type unit in the game. Every player in the game could get a Ramlethal memory for the Guilty Gear Rush Dungeon shop, which made for a great headstart on building her. She is an absolutely superb character.
Special Signature Kyo (Yellow/Attack)
SS Kyo was the damage-dealing champion of KOFAS for quite some time. And as one of the most iconic characters in King of Fighters, he deserved the top spot. Power creep has dethroned Kyo, but he is still undeniably strong.
Kyo has the perfect leader skill for a Special Signature team, increasing SS fighters’ attack by 60% and decreasing HP by 5%. As you would expect from Kyo, burn damage is his main DOT damage, but he also has starlight damage on his 3-PG default finisher. This makes him excellent for Lunatic Guild Raid Rugal. His second skill grants Hyper Armor and increases damage received by 20%, and followed by his third skill that increases his attack by 30% and can reset his second skill.
He has a strong damage multiplier in his core effects, increasing active skill damage by 60% when attacking enemies inflicted by burn or starlight. He has good survivability, with a 30% chance to with a 30% chance to gain damage immunity when attacked.
SS Kyo and his banner pair SS Iori began a trend for SS characters that give benefits from having both characters on the same team. In Kyo’s case, his active skill damage goes up by 20% when you have Iori on the team.
Kyo is no longer the strongest character in the game, but he is still more than strong enough to carry your roster through most content.
Special Signature Honoka (Yellow/Defense)
SS Honoka came out of nowhere and ended up one of the best surprises in KOFAS. As a free-to-obtain character from the Dead or Alive collaboration, the community didn’t expect too much from her. Turns out that she was the second strongest yellow unit in the game behind Kyo. SS Honoka is who really solidified the current state of the game with her showing that even Defense Type characters can be offensively dominant.
Like Angel of Paradise Honoka, SS Honoka’s first skill is a nuke that one-shots enemies in PVEPVP content. Both her first skill and third skill have burn damage, along with Super Armor and a 35% attack buff. Her second skill grants Hyper Armor and has a 70% chance to reset after using it.
Honoka has a couple of strong multipliers in her core, increasing active skill damage by 90% when attacking burned enemies. She can also increase her attack and penetration by up to 15% and 1500 respectively by attacking five times.
SS Honoka may not have been on SS Kyo’s level regarding damage, but the fact that everyone could get her to 5-star awakened for free really put her over the top. SS Honoka personally hard-carried me through a lot of content after I maxed her out. To this day, she is an invaluable member of my roster.
Boss Syndrome Krizalid (Yellow/Balanced)
BS Krizalid was the first BS character I ever summoned for, and I do not regret it one bit. Krizalid is a utility workhorse, being able to dish out both starlight and darkness damage. At the time of his release, characters with either were few and far in between. For a character to have both? A must-summon.
Krizalid has the same leader skill as SS Kyo, except for BS characters, making him a great leader for a BS team. He has a powerful multiplier in his core, dealing additional damage equal to 120% of his attack on enemies inflicted with starlight or darkness.
BS Krizalid is an incredible character in PVEPVP content, possessing numerous abilities that make him a pleasure to use and a pain to kill. His first skill gives him Hyper Armor for 3 seconds, and his second skill reduces damage received by 80% for 3 seconds. On top of that, using his second skill resets the cooldown of his first skill every 18 seconds. His third skill allows him to disable the enemy’s roll for several seconds, even if they’re guarding. This guy has been one of my go-to PVP characters since I pulled him.
BS Krizalid doesn’t have the highest damage output, but his skills have a lot of hits, so he shreds shield very effectively in Guild Raid against Nightmare Geese or Rugal. He is the perfect balance between damage and utility.
Boss Syndrome Leona (Purple/Defense)
I debated whether or not I should summon for BS Leona for a long time. When I finally summoned for her and BS Goenitz, it was on the last day of their banner. And let me say that I am glad I did.
Continuing the trend that SS Honoka set, BS Leona became the strongest character in the game, despite being a Defense Type. And when you look at her core effects and skills, you can see why.
She has an 18% damage multiplier on critical hits, so you definitely want to scale her crit stats. She increases target damage received by 35% upon using her first skill, gives herself Hyper Armor, and can take away enemy Hyper/Super Armor. Her second skill increases target damage received by 27% and deals burn damage. And Leona’s active skill damage goes up by 110% when attacking burned enemies.
If she sounds like a monster now, wait until you see her third skill. She gets an attack buff equal to 55% of her defense and deals additional damage equal to 50% of attack on burned enemies. Oh, and it also inflicts the fear effect. And since fear has no counter at the moment, it means she’s going to CC you, and she’s going to hit you.
Leona also has a very strong DOT explosion on her 3-PG default, with a 4X burn multiplier. It’s a good idea to weave in her 3-PG default before using her ultimate for this reason.
She doesn’t have BS Goenitz ability to inflict fear when she is attacked, but being a Defense Type grants her high defensive stats. She also has the same bubble shield as Goenitz, which makes her even more durable.
Special Signature Baiken (Purple/Attack)
Baiken is a pure offensive powerhouse from start to finish. She has a new kind of leader skill that we have never seen before, increasing Attack Type fighters attack by 40% and critical damage by 50%. This makes her an incredible leader for crit-heavy Attack Types like BS Goenitz. She has a 24% damage increase multiplier when dealing with critical hits, so definitely scale her crit as much as you can.
Baiken increases target damage received by 28% when attacking them while shocked and increases active skill damage on bleeding targets by 80%. Her second skill inflicts bleed when used normally, and is shocked when charged, so be sure to use both in your skill rotation. Her first skill resets the cooldown of her active skill every 12 seconds, so this is easy to do. It also increases damage received by 28%, which works well with the 35% attack buff on her third skill.
Her 3-PG default finisher has a 60% chance of resetting her skill cooldowns, similar to Orochi Iori’s default finisher, so be sure to weave that in. Since her second skill also applies fear and gives her Hyper Armor, a good rotation is a second skill, third skill, first skill, second skill (Charged). Followed by 3-PG default, repeat the above skill rotation, then use her Ultimate.
When it comes to raw damage, Baiken is actually even stronger than BS Leona. Where Baiken falls off significantly is the area of survivability. Baiken is a frail gal, incapable of taking any hits. She does have a new kind of bubble shield, one that can only be removed by dealing with critical hits, but it only applies in PVP. In PVE content, she lacks this protection, and as a result, is a complete glass cannon. In other words, destroy everything before she can get touched.
Boss Syndrome Zero (Purple/Attack)
BS Zero is an absolute monster of a character that I hate going against in PVP. Zero has both poison and bleed DOT damage, and you will want to utilize both of them in content. Zero has a 30% chance of resetting active skill cooldowns when using a skill on a bleeding enemy. He also has a 70% chance of increasing attack for 7 seconds when using a skill on a poisoned enemy.
A good strategy is to use his third skill to inflict poison, followed by his second skill for the bleeding damage and fear. After that, use his first skill and hope you get the skill to reset so you can go to town.
BS Zero has some skill abilities that really make him quite dominant in PVP. Along with applying fear with his second skill, his first skill has a 70% chance of breaking the target’s guard. It also disables guard for a whopping 4 seconds, severely reducing your ability to defend yourself. At this point, dodge rolling is your best option, but Zero’s skills cover a lot of ground. So even then, you’re probably going to get hit.
Zero has the standard 20-hit bubble shield for 7 seconds which really ups his survivability. If you Baiken has him beat on damage, but Zero is a more complete character for those who want more of a safety net for their characters.
Special Signature Athena (Purple/Defense)
SS Athena, alongside SS Mai, was the first SS character introduced to the game. And surprisingly, she has managed to hold her position in the top tier fairly well.
Athena has a timeless leadership, increasing purple element fighters’ attack by 45% and power charge rate by 20%. Netmarble loves reducing our power charge rate in PvE content, so I highly recommend having a character with an attack/power charge rate leadership for every element. There are a couple of other options in the purple element pool, but none as strong as SS Athena.
SS Athena immediately stood out upon release thanks to having the premium starlight damage, which was incredibly rare at the time. She has starlight on both her first skill and 3-PG default finisher, and to this day, is still great in Guild Raid. Her first skill also increases her attack by 46% of her defense, and her second skill gives a flat 35% attack increase. It also decreases damage received by 75% for 3 seconds. Her third skill grants Hyper Armor and has a 40% chance to reset itself upon use. She also has a 70% chance of resetting her first skill by landing her second skill.
Compared to newer units, SS Athena’s kit is pretty basic. She has a 100% damage multiplier when attacking enemies inflicted with starlight, but this only applies to critical hits. This significantly reduces her offensive potency, as she isn’t a crit-based character. She also doesn’t have the bubble shield protection that newer SS/BS characters have, making her less durable. She is still a great character who is aging very well.
Special Signature Iori (Purple/Balanced)
SS Iori was a bit of a disappointment upon his release. While SS Kyo shot to the top of his element, Iori didn’t shoot to the top of his. Regardless, he has a lot going for him in his kit.
Just like Kyo benefits from Iori being on the team, Iori wants Kyo on the team as it gives him immunity to both stun and darkness when he is. This is a great bit of utility, especially in PVEPVP, and can be the difference between Iori losing or winning.
Iori has darkness damage on his first skill and burn damage on his 3-PG default, giving him solid utility for multiple difficulties of Guild Raid. He has Hyper Armor on his second skill and a 35% attack increase on his third.
Iori has a very strong leadership for SS units, increasing SS fighters’ attacks by 50% and power charge rate by 15%. His first and third skills have a 20% and 50% chance of resetting themselves respectively.
A lot of factors make Iori lean more towards PVEPVP/PVP content than pure PvE content. He has two potent PVP exclusives, with his second skill disabling target skills for 4 seconds and his third skill being able to remove Hyper/Super Armor.
Iori’s underwhelming damage is why he found himself relatively low on the tier list, even as a new character. PvE content is the brunt of the content in this game, and he just isn’t as good at it as other fighters. He can’t increase target damage received and has weaker multipliers than other top-tier fighters. He’s strong, just not that strong.
Special Signature Dizzy (Blue/Balanced)
Dizzy has everything that you can ask for from a fighter. Arguably the strongest fighter in the game (Though not as accessible as SS Sol Badguy), Dizzy does everything you need.
Dizzy has double DOT in chill damage and burn damage, and also double DOT explosion as well. She doesn’t have the 5.5X multiplier that Sol Badguy does, but a 4.5X multiplier is still darn strong.
Her first skill gives her Hyper Armor, which can be used while she is attacked, and has a 50% chance to ignore enemy guard. Her second skill applies chill damage or burn damage depending on if you charge it or not, and also applies freeze and stun respectively.
What I love most about Dizzy are her extremely long 3-PG default and Ultimate skills. They are so long that you can basically cycle between them infinitely. It is not only hilarious to watch but also satisfying. It’s an extremely effective way of cheesing through timed PVE content.
Dizzy’s damage output is nothing to laugh at, and she gets a lot of help from her core effects. One effect increases target damage received by 40% when she uses her third skill. Her final core effect increases attack by 35% and penetration by 2500 for 5 seconds upon attacking an enemy. This has no cooldown, so you can keep getting this buff.
Like Baiken, she has the PVP-only critical hit bubble shield. Unlike Baiken, she is quite sturdy, and this shield can be a huge pain if you don’t land crits. All in all, this is a perfect character. The Guilty Gear collab really set the standard for characters moving forward. It’ll be hard to imagine them releasing characters that eclipse Dizzy anytime soon.
Boss Syndrome Igniz
Boss Syndrome Igniz makes his original FES variant look like a child by comparison. His Boss Syndrome upgrade not only gave him increased shock damage but also darkness damage and darkness immunity. Darkness damage is becoming increasingly common in the meta, so complete immunity is a fantastic piece of utility.
Igniz has several strong attack buffs in his kit, increasing his penetration by 1600 for 7 seconds on his first skill and increasing attack by 36% of his third skill. One of his core effects gives him a 50% chance of increasing target damage received by 35% for 7 seconds upon landing a skill.
Igniz also gets a whopping 50% active skill damage increase so long as there is another NESTS fighter on the team. And chances are, there always will be.
This character is pretty terrifying in PVP content as well, having a 40% chance of applying fear to enemies when using his skills. His second skill also has the PVP-exclusive of disabling the target’s active skill for 5 seconds upon landing it. When you’re in content where you can’t switch out characters, like Chapter of Fight or Absolute War, this is a massive pain to deal with.
Igniz has Hyper Armor on his second skill, but aside from that, doesn’t have too much in the way of protection. He can apply fear, but he has to strike first, so when an enemy is faster than him, he can get KO’d pretty easily in PVP.
But that’s okay because his damage output more than makes up for that.
Special Signature Kasumi (Blue/Attack)
Kasumi is the fourth SS character released during the Dead or Alive collab and the strongest of the four.
Kasumi has an incredible first skill that increases her attack by 35% and decreases the target’s defense by 30% for 7 seconds. Her second skill gives her Hyper Armor for 3 seconds and has a 60% chance of removing the enemy’s Hyper/Super Armor.
Her third skill is an absolute nuke, increasing target damage received by 26% while also dealing additional damage equal to 220% of her attack. This is an incredibly powerful multiplier and one of the reasons why Kasumi is so strong.
Kasumi has some nice core effects too, one of them being darkness immunity. She doesn’t have shock damage on any of her skills but rather it is built into her core effects. She’s also pretty tanky in PVEPVP content with an effect that decreases damage received by 100% when attacked by a target with 90% HP. Combined with the Dead or Alive passive of decreasing damage received by 30% when attacked, Kasumi is one of the sturdiest Attack Type fighters in PVP content.
Special Signature Kula (Blue/Defense)
SS Kula, just like SS K, was a little bit of a disappointment upon release but is still a powerful character. She has a 45% Attack leadership for all characters, which is incredibly flexible.
As you would expect from Kula, she’s all about chill damage. Make sure to include a variant of K on the team because doing so increases her chill damage by 120%. Kula’s second skill increases penetration by 1500 for 7 seconds, and when charged, gives her an attack buff of 50% of her defense. Her second skill increases target damage received by 30% and freezes the target, and her third skill has a chill explosion. The explosion on her third skill only has a 2.8X multiplier, so it’s way outclassed in the current meta, but it’s still pretty strong.
Kula is a solid character, but like K and Iori, just kind of has an underwhelming kit compared to other SS characters, which dropped her value on the tier list. After the release of SS Dizzy, she is no longer the strongest chill character in the game, which doesn’t help her.
The final character in the SS tier is none other than Merlin from Seven Deadly Sins. Remember when I said AoP Honoka was the first recognized collab FES unit stronger than SS/BS characters but not the first? Well, I’d like to introduce the first.
Merlin is the de-facto leader when using a Seven Deadly Sins team, increasing 7DS fighters’ attack and power charge rate by 45% and 20% respectively.
Merlin possesses one-of-a-kind utility, being able to inflict every DOT effect in the game aside from starlight. Her Random Ball skill randomly inflicts shock, bleed, poison, or burn upon use. One of her core effects lets her deal burn, chill, or darkness damage equal to 40% of attack upon landing a basic attack.
Her second skill grants her Hyper Armor for 3 seconds and applies chill damage for 6 seconds. She has a massive multiplier in her core, dealing additional damage equal to 170% to all enemies when attacking enemies inflicted with chill damage.
Merlin is a fantastic PVP unit as well. Her first skill has a 100% chance of ignoring the target’s guard and a PVP exclusive of disabling enemy buffs on active skills for 3 seconds. So while you’re setting up Merlin, your enemy cannot set up on you.
Random Ball also has a massive 70% damage reduction effect for 4 seconds, giving Merlin incredible survivability. She also has a core effect that freezes enemies for 2 seconds upon landing a critical hit.
Merlin’s only real weakness is that she isn’t the greatest at skill spamming after using her awakening skill. All three of her skills are knock-ups, and Random Ball is a juggling skill as well. As a result, her awakened skill can be very clunky. Random Ball has a long animation and it’s hard to skill cancel into her first or second skill as well. But this one con is far outweighed by her pros.
The Rock (Red/Attack)
When Netmarble first announced they were collaborating with WWE, I was one of the many people left shaking their heads. But after testing the characters out, I could definitely smell what The Rock was cooking.
The Rock became the strongest bleed character in the game when he was introduced and possesses two incredible pieces of utility. The first piece is an incredibly long Ultimate skill. It was after the WWE collab that time stalling became more popular in KOFAS. The People’s Elbow is the most electrifying move in all of sports entertainment, and also the longest.
The other most noteworthy piece of utility in The Rock’s kit is his ability to juggle his opponent. Forever. I am not exaggerating. Weave his basic attacks in between cycling his active skills, and you can keep your opponent in the air permanently. You can use this strategy to completely cheese boss stages and ignore any extra effects that you would ordinarily have to deal with.
The Rock is also fantastic in PVP content, with his first skill reducing damage received by 70%. His glaring weakness is his 3-PG default finisher. The Rock Bottom is a grab skill, so it is instantly canceled in most PvE content.
Related read: Coprehensive WWE 2k22 Review
FES K (Red/Defense)
FES K is a utility machine for Red units. His 45%/20% attack and power charge rate leadership for red units will always be valuable, and his stock shot up after the release of SS K.
FES units can use the Ultimate cards of their SS Variants, and SS K’s Ultimate card filled the glaring weakness of FES K’s kit; poor Ultimates. So long as you have SS K’s special card, FES K is an excellent PvE unit. He has to burn damage on multiple skills and deals additional burn damage when attacking burned enemies.
He’s no longer particularly good in PVP due to his lack of Hyper Armor, as it’s too risky with all the BS/SS powerhouses currently in the game. You can make him work as a budget PVP option, but he’s no longer a go-to.
SS Rachel has been a workhorse since the release of the Seven Knights collaboration. Her typing makes her perfect for both Immortal Rahk, Guild Raid, and endgame RHD.
She has an attack increase and some burn damage on her second skill, and Super Armor and a 70% damage reduction on her first skill. Her third skill gives her a 10% bump to her power charge rate while reducing the enemy’s power charge rate by 5%.
Rachel was my go-to Balanced unit in PVP content for a very long time, but like FES K, cannot compete in the current meta. She has some solid defensive abilities, like damage immunity and a 30% heal, but the lack of Hyper Armor really hurts her. Characters nowadays have long skills with lots of hits and get their Ultimates quickly. Her defensive abilities are no longer enough to keep her alive.
Mr. Karate (Red/Attack)
Mr. Karate is one of the few Unified banner units that has been able to stay relevant in the age of BS/SS characters. As far as Unified banner units go, Mr. Karate is definitely the strongest.
His first skill has a 50% chance to reset itself upon use and a 70% chance to ignore guard. He gets Hyper Armor and 1000 penetration on his second skill and a 30% attack increase on his third skill. Mr. Karate also has a very long Ultimate finisher, making him great for time stalling.
The problem with Mr. Karate is damage is all he has. He has no DOT or any other niche ability. Since his utility is near non-existent and his damage far outclassed, he will continue to drop in the ranks as the game goes on.
That being said, he still has great damage when damage is all you need, and being a Unified banner fighter, he is much easier to max out than BS/SS fighters.
NESTS Kyo (Red/Balanced)
NESTS Kyo was irrelevant for a long time until the developers gave him a buff. Now, he is aging pretty well for a Unified banner fighter. He has a 28% attack increase of his first skill and can disable enemy dodge for several seconds in PVP. His second skill gives him Super Armor and increases his power charge rate by 70% and decreases the enemy power charge rate by the same figure upon landing the skill. Last but not least, his third skill increases his critical rate by 18% and gives him Hyper Armor for 3 seconds.
NESTS Kyo is definitely more geared towards PVP content, as his second skill is a grab that doesn’t work in a lot of PvE game modes. He also lacks a 3-PG Ultimate finisher, meaning you have to use him manually in PvE to ensure he does his 5-PG finisher. He works well as a budget PVP option but is not particularly great in PvE anymore.
Geese XIV (Red/Attack)
Geese XIV must have his BS version’s Ultimate card, otherwise, he is not S tier. BS Geese’s Ultimate is very long, making Geese XIV great for time stalling when he has it equipped.
Geese has some solid utility, including shock damage and shock explosion with a 3X multiplier. This is one of the highest multipliers amongst the game’s older characters.
He has an attack increase of his first skill, a stun and damage immunity on his second, and shock damage on his third. He also gives himself 4 seconds of Super Armor after landing a blast skill.
Geese is a solid option for Immortal Rahk for time stalling and Immortal Nix for DOT explosion. He also works well as a placeholder in RHD. However, his kit is clearly quite dated, and it makes him less practical in the most difficult content.
Boss Syndrome Orochi (Green/Balanced)
BS Orochi and BS Rugal were the first BS characters introduced to the game and the first BS or SS characters to start clearly suffering from power creep.
Compared to newer BS units, BS Orochi has a very uninspired kit. He has a 50% damage reduction on his first skill, a 30% attack increase on his second, and Hyper Armor on his third. He can also ignore the guard and disable the target’s skills for 2 seconds in PVP.
BS Orochi’s damage started to fall off pretty much immediately after he was released, and when combined with his lack of utility, it quickly dropped him out of the SS tier. He is still very useful in PVP, being geared towards that more than PvE. He also has his uses in PVP, having an excellent leadership for BS characters and a long Ultimate to time stall.
Angel of Paradise Kasumi (Green/Defense)
Angel of Paradise Kasumi is an excellent addition to anyone’s roster. She’s perfect for endgame RHD where you need a Green Defense team and is the strongest poison damage unit outside of BS/SS characters.
Kasumi inflicts poison damage with her first skill and poison explosion with her third. She increases her attack by 45% of her defense with her second skill and also freezes the opponent for 3 seconds.
She has incredible durability in PVP content, reducing damage by 85% for 4 seconds when attacked, and gets damage immunity for 3 seconds when using her grab skill.
Like Geese XIV, Goenitz is only S tier if you have the special card of BS Goenitz. Before BS Goenitz, most players wouldn’t use any Ultimate skill with Goenitz because his 3-PG default finisher was longer. But now, Goenitz has an excellent Ultimate for both damage and time stalling.
Goenitz is all about bleed damage and landing critical hits, so be sure to scale hit crit as much as you can. Goenitz deals bleed damage equal to 46% of his attack every time you land a crit. His first skill increases his crit rate by 12% and disables enemy roll for 3 seconds, and his second skill gives him a 28% attack boost. His third skill gives him Hyper Armor for 3 seconds and is his lone way of protecting himself in his entire kit.
Goenitz doesn’t have a smooth awakened skill rotation as his first skill is both a knock-up and juggling skill and his second skill is a grab that often gets canceled. However, he still has enough damage to make up for it, especially with his new finisher.
Winter Love Messenger Jenet (Green/Balanced)
Winter Love Messenger Jenet is one of the few Unified banner characters with multiple DOT effects. She can deal chill damage with her first skill and shock damage with her second skill. Her second skill also has a damage multiplier of an additional 200% of attack when attacked by chilled enemies.
Her third skill gives her Hyper Armor and freezes the enemy for two seconds, and she has 85% damage reduction for 4 seconds built into her kit.
She has the premium 45% attack and 20% power charge rate leadership for green fighters, which will always be relevant. Ash Crimson is also on the Unified banner and has the same leadership, but Jenet is a much better character than him overall.
King from Seven Deadly Sins is the premium version of Shion, having the same 45% attack and 20% power charge rate leadership for yellow fighters. He also happens to be a much better active fighter.
King has starlight damage of his first and third skills and the petrifying effect on his second skill. His first skill gives him an attack increase equal to 45% of his defense, and his third skill gives him 3 seconds of Hyper Armor.
His core effects give him additional PVP value, with him possessing immunity to petrify and the ability to disable the strike skills of enemies for 3 seconds when attacked. King and Merlin are easily the strongest 7DS characters and likely the ones that will age the best.
Right on King’s tail is the Dragon Sin of Wrath himself. Meliodas is a strong character that leans more towards PVP content than PvE.
His first skill gives him a 29% attack boost and inflicts stun for 2 seconds if the skill is successful. He also has a 50% chance to ignore the enemy’s guard with this skill.
His second skill deals with darkness damage, and in PVP has a 50% chance of removing the enemy Hyper/Super Armor. His third skill gives him Hyper Armor and can be used while attacked so long as he is standing.
Meliodas has stun immunity in his core which is extremely useful for PVP, as being CC’d usually meant you are dead. He can also reflect 15% of damage received in PVP if the damage comes from a blast skill.
He doesn’t have the strongest multipliers, making him unideal for endgame PvE content. But he remains a very strong character in PVP.
Orochi Iori (Yellow/Attack)
Orochi Iori is the Heihachi Mishima of KOFAS. He’s an ancient character but manages to stay relevant. And the reason for that is because he is the original crit king of KOF.
Orochi Iori has a massive 60% crit damage buff on his second skill, and his third skill gives a 20% attack and 15% crit rate. His third skill also reduces his own defense by 12% and he only has super armor on his first skill. In other words, this guy can’t get hit or he dies. It takes some time getting used to, but his raw damage output makes up for him being a glass cannon.
What really helps Iori is his ability to fully reset all of his active skill cooldowns after using an Ultimate move. He gains 1.4% power after landing a crit, so build his crit as much as you can and spam his Ultimate like there is no tomorrow.
Angel of Paradise Nyotengu (Purple/Balanced)
Angel of Paradise Nyotengu immediately made noise in the community thanks to her leadership ability. Instantly recharging 5% of power upon defeating an enemy is meta for Time Attack and always will be.
Nyotengu also has some other things going for her, such as darkness damage on her first skill. Her active skill damage goes up by 70% when attacking enemies inflicted with darkness and another 30% just by using her first skill.
Her second skill has a 35% attack buff and a 60% chance of removing the enemy Hyper/Super Armor. She has Super Armor on her first skill and damage immunity on her third skill. She’s pretty good in PVP, but you have to skill cancel one into the other to give her makeshift Hyper Armor.
Out of all of the Seven Knights characters, Eileene is aging the best in PvE content. There was a time when this gal was the Queen of PvE. Eileene is all about shock, having it on her third skill as well as both of her Ultimates. In addition, she has a shock explosion with a 2.3X multiplier. She has a 28% attack increase on her second skill, and like Orochi Iori, she resets all her skills after using an Ultimate move.
Eileene has super armor on her first skill and damage immunity on her second, but she isn’t doing too good in PVP anymore. But for players who have her built up, she can still put in a lot of work in PvE content.
Ever since he was released, Nameless has been the king of Time Attack. And to this day, that hasn’t changed. It’s all thanks to his NESTS Test Subject core effect, which makes him obtain 5% power every 3 seconds just by landing attacks. Combine this with his lengthy Ultimate skill, and Nameless is an extremely effective time staller.
Nameless recently received a buff that made him even stronger. He gets an attack buff of 45% of his defense on his second skill and a flat 28% attack increase on his third skill. On the defensive side, he has super armor on his second skill and damage immunity on his third. His first skill can also disable guard roll for 4 seconds and active skills for 3 seconds in PVP.
Nameless is getting old but aging very well. He’s still outstanding in PvE and a great budget option for PVP.
Dancer Elizabeth (Purple/Balanced)
Dancer Elizabeth feels like a character that went completely under the radar after the Seven Deadly Sins collaboration ended, but she has a lot going for her. She has double DOT damage, dealing poison damage with her third skill and passively applying starlight damage thanks to her core effects.
She doesn’t have Hyper Armor or damage immunity of any kind but has other abilities that make her solid in PVP. Along with having Super Armor on her first skill, she gets an 85% damage reduction for 4 seconds on her third. Her second skill has a strong 80% of ignoring the target’s guard, meaning she has a strong chance of killing enemies before they land a hand on her.
I wouldn’t bring Dancer Elizabeth into endgame PvE content that’s all about damage, but for lesser PvE content and PVP, she is very good.
Alongside Sol Badguy, we also got May for free during the Guilty Gear collaboration. And what a fantastic free character she turned out to be.
Her typing is fantastic for endgame RHD, Immortal Typhon, and Immortal Vulkan. You’ll want to have Lady Chang on the team, as May gets a 50% boost to her active skill damage when she is.
May has chill damage on both her first skill and third skill, and her third skill also applies a freeze. She gets Hyper Armor on her second skill and also increases target damage received by 28%. Her Ultimate skill is exceedingly long, and May just might be the new queen of time stalling.
May works great in PVP as well since her first skill is a long-range skill. And in case you slip up in PVP, May disables enemy active skills for 4 seconds every 12 seconds when she is attacked.
Free is always great, but when free characters are as great as May, there’s nothing more you can ask for.
Boss Syndrome Omega Rugal (Blue/Attack)
Ironically enough, BS Rugal is slowly but surely going down the same path as FES Omega Rugal. That is to say, a pure damage dealer that will inevitably get left behind due to power creep.
BS Rugal has double attack buffs, one on his first skill and one on his third skill. His second skill gives him Hyper Armor for 3 seconds and has a 40% chance of resetting cooldown upon a successful attack. He has immunity to stun in his core which is great for PVP.
He has a pretty nice final core effect that decreases target damage dealt by 25% and increases the damage they receive by 25% for 7 seconds after Rugal lands an active skill. And that’s pretty much it for his kit, which is the problem. He has no active DOT damage, just passive bleed in his core. Bleed is a lower-tier DOT effect, and it’s only passive, which means he cannot inflict lingering bleed. If you already have him and have him built, he is still a great character capable of dishing out a lot of damage. But raw damage is pretty much all he has going for him, and as time goes on, he’s just going to keep being outclassed by newer units.
Angel of Paradise Marie Rose (Blue/Defense)
Angel of Paradise Marie Rose is another Dead or Alive MVP character for me. She has the same great typing and DOT damage as May, being able to inflict chill damage on two of her skills. She also has chill explosion with a 2.5X multiplier on her third skill. Her third skill has a 70% chance of resetting itself, and her first skill gives her Hyper Armor.
Marie can increase her defense by up to 50% for 5 seconds upon landing an attack, thanks to her final core passive. And since you will probably have a defense card set equipped on her, that means 50% more attacks.
She also has an incredible passive effect, which gives her a 50% chance to disable Special Moves for 10 seconds in PVP. This passive is a lifesaver, and Marie Rose has been one of my go-to PVP characters since I got her.
Dellons, Dellons, Dellons. Upon release, this guy was an absolute must-have; he was by far the best character in the game for dealing with darkness damage and one of the best damage dealers. He has fallen down significantly since then, but don’t count him out just yet.
He has darkness damage on his first skill, third skill, and 3-PG default finisher. His third skill also gives him 3 seconds of Super Armor, with his second skill giving 3 seconds of damage immunity.
His second skill has some other great effects, like preventing enemy buffs from active skills for 4 seconds in PVP, a 30% increase in active skill damage, and a cooldown reset of his first skill.
His damage is no longer top tier, but Dellons is still a fantastic character for things like RHD, dealing darkness in Guild Raid, and PVEPVP content.
Original Zero (Blue/Attack)
Original Zero, like Goenitz and Geese XIV, needs his BS version’s Special Card to be an S-tier character.
Like many other Unified banner characters, Original Zero is a pure damage dealer. And since he is relatively easy to max out these days, that isn’t such a bad thing.
Zero deals damage and nothing else. He has a 20% attack increase on his first skill, and one of his core effects increases his active skill damage by 20% when he uses his third skill. Landing his third skill also resets his first skill.
Original Zero is a fantastic budget PVP option, thanks to a couple of things in his kit. For starters, he has the passive ability to reflect stun effects. His first skill stuns the enemy even if they are blocking, and his second skill has a 100% chance to ignore guard. There’s very little defense to his onslaught except killing him first.
I have to admit that I was a little disappointed by what Netmarble did and did not give Diane in her kit. But they still did a pretty good job with her, and she definitely has her uses.
She can increase her attack by 45% of her defense with her third skill and decrease the target’s defense by 30% with her second skill. Her second skill also has a 3-second stun which comes in handy.
Her first skill is a little bland, only providing Super Armor for 3 seconds. And that’s where the problems with Diane’s kit start to become clear. She has no Hyper Armor or even damage immunity built into her skills. She does have 3 seconds of damage immunity in her core, but only when HP is below 49%. And it has a 15-second cooldown. She decreases damage received by 70% for 3 seconds when attacked with 50% or more HP, also on a 15-second cooldown. Plenty of characters has these abilities built into their skills and with less harsh cooldowns.
I would’ve loved if Netmarble introduced some sort of Earth-based DOT effect for Diane, but that wasn’t the case.
Lady Mr. Big (Red/Defense)
Lady Mr. Big’s effectiveness in high-end PvE content has all but dropped off a cliff, but she remains a very solid budget option for PVP.
Lady Mr. Big has 3 seconds of Hyper Armor on her third skill and an attack increase of 38% of her defense on her first skill. Her second skill deals poison damage, but she is better off as a striker if you want her poison damage for something like Guild Raid.
What keeps Lady Mr. Big relevant as a budget PVP character are two of her core passives. One passive stuns the attacker for 2 seconds, 6 seconds after Lady Mr. Big is attacked. That gives you all the time you need to launch a counterattack. Her final score passive has a 50% chance of decreasing the target’s attack by 40% for 10 seconds when she lands an active skill. This is often what allows lady Mr. Big to survive for 6 seconds.
Everyone received Elizabeth for free during the Seven Deadly Sins collab, and she’s a fine free character. Her Green Defense typing is perfect for endgame RHD.
She has Super Armor and an attack buff on her second skill and a 70% damage reduction on her third skill. She decreases damage received by an additional 50% for 4 seconds when she receives a critical hit.
Her third skill also increases her power charge rate by 50% for 7 seconds. This allows her to use her Ultimates very quickly, which is great for content like Time Attack. She’s also a solid budget PVP option.
Along with Green Elizabeth, every player also received this FES version of Meliodas for free.
Free Meliodas has a solid mix of PvE and PVP value with his skills and core abilities. His first skill gives him a 28% attack buff and has a 70% chance of ignoring guard. His third skill gives him 3 seconds of Super Armor while inflicting 7 seconds of bleed damage. His second skill has the same damage reduction effect as free Elizabeth, reducing damage by 70% for 3 seconds.
Meliodas has some interesting DOT protection in his core, reducing bleed and darkness damage received by 60%. He also decreases enemy defenses by 35% for 5 seconds when attacking a bleeding target.
Free Meliodas isn’t a top-tier attacker, but he is a solid placeholder.
Shane is in the same realm as BS Omega Rugal in the sense that she is a pure damage dealer that will inevitably fade into obscurity due to power creep. But that time isn’t here just yet.
Shane remains a terrifying foe to come across in PVP due to her high damage output. One of her core passives gives her 2 seconds of damage immunity, and a 35% attack increases when she is below 3 bars of power. Her final passive increases her attack by 15% upon landing her first skill, and it resets the cooldown of her third skill. It also gives her a 25% damage reduction for added protection.
Her first skill gives her Super Armor and reduces damage taken by 80%. Her second skill also gives Super Armor and stuns the enemy for 2 seconds. Her third skill is a nuke that increases attack by 28% and disables strike skills for 3 seconds in PVP. A solid option indeed.
Lady Original Zero (Yellow/Attack)
It’s crazy looking at how far KOFAS has come that Lady Original Zero is now just an A-tier character. Once upon a time, this was the strongest character in the game and the fastest content clearer. And looking at her kit, you can see why.
She has a 28% attack increase on her first skill, with a 100% cooldown reset chance. She can increase her penetration by up to 2000 for 5 seconds, thanks to one of her core passives.
Lady Original Zero is still a solid PVP option too. Her second skill can disable both enemy roll and blast active skills for 4 seconds when it successfully hits the opponent. She also has a 2-second petrify on her third skill and petrify reflect built into her core.
She can no longer carry you through the endgame of PvE content but is a great placeholder until you build up some of these newer characters.
When it comes to the Seven Knights characters, Rudy is probably aging the best in PVP and the worst in PvE.
Let’s make one thing clear right away; Rudy is NOT a damage dealer. He can carry you through some of the easier PvE content like RHD but in other game modes like Deimos Base? You probably want to leave him behind. Rudy shines most in PVP.
Rudy has a defense to attack conversion buff of 46% on his first skill and a 30% defense buff on his third skill. His second skill gives him 3 seconds of Hyper Armor and stuns the enemy for 2 seconds. The best thing about Rudy is that he can very effectively juggle enemies in PVP by weaving basic attacks in between his skill rotation. If this doesn’t kill the enemy outright, it’s enough to get him to his 3-PG Ultimate to finish the job.
Rudy also has a unique core passive which grants every member of the team 3 seconds of Super Armor when they land a critical hit. And did I mention that he’s stun immune?
To this day, I still use Rudy in Defense League Match. Well worth it.
If you have BS Igniz’s Special Card, this greatly improves the viability of FES Igniz.
FES Igniz recently got a buff which gave him some sorely needed survivability. His third skill deals with lightning damage and gives him a damage reduction of 50% for 4 seconds. He gets 2 seconds of Super Armor and an 11% increase to critical rate on his first skill as well.
His core effects can increase his attack by 15% and his penetration by 2000 for 5 seconds. He can also increase damage dealt to enemies by 15% and decrease damage by 25%, thanks to his final passive.
He’s an old damage-dealing character. Not the best anymore, but he can get the job done in the midgame.
Lady Maxima (Purple/Attack)
Lady Maxima is one of the rare double DOT characters in the Unified banner, and this is part of what keeps her somewhat relevant. She has both burn and shock damage, though her shock damage only lasts for 4 seconds. So if she isn’t awakened, it’s hard to get something out of it.
She can increase the potency of her burn and shock effects by 40% when her combo is 10 or higher, so try to keep from getting hit. On the defensive side, she has 2.5 seconds of Super Armor on her second skill and 3 seconds of damage immunity when she is attacked.
Halloween Gatecrasher Chris (Purple/Balanced)
If you don’t have SS Athena, then Halloween Gatecrasher Chris is your best option for attack and power charge rate leadership for purple fighters.
Halloween Chris isn’t particularly good for PvE outside of providing his leadership. His skill rotation is a little wonky and not very good for spamming when he’s awakened. Where Chris shines is as a budget PVP option.
His second skill gives him Super Armor for 3 seconds and decreases damage received by 75% for 3 seconds. His final core passive petrified the enemy for 2 seconds when attacked, and you can follow that up with an additional 2-second petrify with his third skill.
Orochi Leona (Blue/Balanced)
Orochi Leona is a great mid-tier Unified banner character with solid utility in various game modes. I have an attachment to her since she was my first roster-carrying character when she first came out.
Orochi Leona has a nice blend of PvE and PVP value. She has extremely low SCD, with one of her core passives decreasing the base cooldown of all her active skills by an additional 0.6 seconds. For a time, she had the shortest SCD of any FES unit in the game.
She has Super Armor and a 70% damage received decrease on her first skill, with a 100% chance to ignore the target’s guard. Her second skill deals shock damage and increases her power charge rate by 70% for 10 seconds. This allows her to reach her 5-PG Ultimate very quickly. Her third skill gives her Super Armor, 25% attack and 20% critical rate for 5 seconds.
She has a shock explosion in her core, with a 3X multiplier, and also recovers HP by 3.7% of damage dealt when she deals a critical hit. She’s a great budget PVP character. Lure the enemy in with her second skill, then finish them off with her third skill.
Winter Love Messenger Goro (Blue/Defense)
Winter Love Messenger Goro has an interesting kit. His first skill increases his attack by 29% of his defense for 7 seconds, and his second skill deals poison damage. You would think a Winter-themed character would deal some chill damage, right?
Anyway, Goro also gets Super Armor for 2 seconds with his third skill, and it freezes the enemy for 1.4 seconds. This skill is the key to Goro’s damage output, as he deals massive additional damage equal to 300% of his attack on frozen enemies. This makes it essential for him to be awakened so he can spam his third skill.
Goro can increase his attack and defense by 20% when his power meter has 3 bars or less, but overall, he’s very lacking in terms of protection. This makes him a poor choice for PVP but a solid option for midgame PvE and endgame RHD.
Question: Should I invest any rubies into the Unified banner?
Answer: Absolutely not. Netmarble hasn’t touched the Unified banner in almost a year. There are a couple of characters in there worth having, like Nameless, Goenitz, and Mr. Karate, but it still isn’t worth your hard-earned rubies.
We get our hands on plenty of summoning tokens and tickets for the Unified banner from various events in the game. Save your rubies for BS/SS banners or collaborations.
Question: Should I try to get a BS/SS character to 5-star awakened?
Unless you are a whale, I wouldn’t recommend it. You can expect to spend somewhere in the 70,000-80,000 ruby range to max out a BS or SS character. And that’s if you get pretty lucky on summons.
Characters only need to be 3-star awakened to unlock all five imprint stone slots. Focus on building a roster of 3-star awakened characters first, then go from there. Take your collaboration FES units to 5-star awakened instead.
Question: What advice can you give me to future-proof my account?
Answer: I would suggest that you use resources only when you absolutely need to. We get a few Carnival events a few times a year, and these typically require us to get fighter memories, battle cards, etc. These Carnivals typically have great rewards, and you don’t want to miss out on them.
If you store up some tokens and summon tickets for a rainy day, you can clear these Carnival events without using any rubies.
That officially wraps up the KOFAS Tier List for December 2021! It’s been a pretty crazy year for KOFAS, and I am excited to see where the game goes in 2022. Hopefully, this tier list helps you decide on some rank-up decisions and will help you optimize your roster as efficiently as possible.
Here comes the obligatory part where I state that this is not the definitive tier list for KOFAS and that everyone can have their own opinions on who is top-tier or not. Drop your opinion in the comment section below, and we will see you next year!