Class advantage in Fate/Grand Order is a fairly straight forward concept to understand and apply. The gist of it is that any unit will deal 2x (advantage), 1.5x (half advantage), 0.5x (disadvantage), or 1x (no advantage) damage to another unit depending on the classes of the attacker and the class of the target. A common piece of advice given to beginners is to always bring classes with either full or half advantage to a node, as that will usually be enough to trivialize a fight, barring some exceptions such as bosses or challenge quests that may have unique gimmicks.
Although class advantage is usually the primary consideration when constructing a party for a specific node, many players often overlook or are unaware of the effectiveness of other factors that should be considered when deciding on which servants to include – the most important of these being powermods, anti-trait buffs, and supereffective mods.
This article will attempt to outline notable applications and examples of the aforementioned buffs in both farming and boss encounter/challenge quest contexts where class advantage may not necessarily be the best avenue to pursue, depending on a player’s resources.
Disclaimer: The purpose of this article is not to downplay the effectiveness of class advantage or explicitly advocate for the use of servants with powermods, anti-trait buffs, or supereffective mods over the alternatives that do have class advantage. The vast majority of situations, both in farming and high difficulty encounters, will still have class advantage as their most effective answers.
The purpose of this article is to highlight the existence of scenarios in which damage neutral options exist as competitive and viable alternatives to class advantage due in large part to the impact of the aforementioned buff types.
This article will refer to the attribute mechanic for the purpose of calculating noble phantasm damage, more information on which can be found here:
NP Damage Information Taken From:
Important terms / acronyms used in this article can be found here:
How NP Damage is Calculated
For the sake of convenience, all links to entries of servants currently released in NA will lead to their NA entry in the Atlas Academy database - strengthenings that are exclusive to the JP version of the game can be viewed by switching to the JP database via the options at the top of the page:
The following damage calculations assume that all servants have received their strengthenings, even if they are exclusive to the JP version of the game at the time of writing.
Of the 282 playable servants in the game at the time of writing, 44 of them require Dragon Fangs to meet skill and/or ascension requirements, making it a common material – and one that is needed in large quantities.
The node consists of 3 waves of rider wyverns, with wave 3 having a ~110k HP gold wyvern. Conventional wisdom would have you bring AoE assassins or berserkers to this node.
NP Damage to rider wyverns (earth attribute):
|Siegfried (with anti-dragon PM/SE)||51,313|
The hardest hitting AoE assassin is SSR Shuten-Douji who at NP1 deals a total of 59,040 damage with self-buffs and class advantage.
Welfare SR Scáthach (Assassin) at NP5 will deal 49,924 damage with self-buffs and class advantage.
However, if we choose to factor in SEs into our teambuilding for this node, we find that there is an SR servant who outdamages Scathach despite being only NP1 and class neutral.
SR Siegfried at NP1 will deal a significant 51,313 damage with self buffs and no class advantage against the wyverns, due to the PM he possesses on his third skill and the SE on his noble phantasm, both against dragons. At NP2 he deals 64,140 damage against dragon enemies, outdamaging an NP1 Shuten-Douji.
For many NA players, Siegfried will actually be their best option for farming this node, as he is both more accessible than the SSR assassins and outdamages the NP5 welfare SR assassin. While the upcoming welfare SR Gray will outdamage an NP1 Siegfried, he still outdamages her at NP2.
Commonly referred to as soap, aurora steel is required for a number of powerful servants such as Skadi, Space Ishtar – who recently rose to further prominence due to the release of Caster Artoria (more information on that here: https://atlasacademy.io/caster-artorias-impact-on-the-game/), and Valkyries.
The node consists of 3 waves of rider Valkyries, all of whom possess the divine trait, which is what we will be focusing on. The main difficulty in farming this node is the presence of a 180k HP Valkyrie in wave 3.
NP5 SSR Shuten-Douji will do the most damage in wave 3, with her self-buffed damage being 79,569. However, she suffers from attribute disadvantage (0.9x damage), as her attribute is earth while that of the Valkyries is sky. This also applies to fellow AoE assassin SSR Semiramis, whose attribute is also earth and suffers from an unreliable damage buff in her third skill, which requires 8 critical stars to activate. The remaining AoE assassin SSR Cleopatra, while possessing a 1.1x attribute advantage (man-sky), possesses an unreliable damage buff in the form of Imperial Privilege (40% chance of failure).
There are various other alternatives, including alter egos such as Okita Souji (Alter) and Sessyoin Kiara, both of whom possess half class advantage (1.5x) with Okita Souji (Alter) in particular possessing a 1.1x attribute advantage (man-sky).
Since batteries are often the primary consideration when constructing teams for farming, we will be looking at the highest damaging servants possessing batteries from both classes – Semiramis and Okita Souji (Alter).
NP damage to rider Valkyries (sky attribute):
|Semiramis (with skill 3)||68,257|
|Semiramis (no skill 3)||45,554|
|Okita Souji (Alter)||77,722|
However, we find that if we approach the node not through class advantage but through SEs, one class neutral servant comes to mind as a functional alternative to the aforementioned limited SSRs due to his NP's massive anti-divine SE – Karna.
NP damage to rider Valkyries (sky attribute):
Impressively, his damage is comparable to an NP5 Semiramis with her conditional buff and strengthening (currently exclusive to the JP version of the game) accounted for. Although he is not the most optimal servant for clearing this node, he will be the best option for players who either don’t have Okita Souji (Alter) or don’t want to work around Semiramis’ conditional skill 3 (assuming her strengthening is available). In addition, he is permanently available in the summoning pool while both of the aforementioned servants (and all the other SSR AoE assassins and alter egos) are limited, meaning that one is more likely to possess copies of him over the alternatives.
Putting aside how one should look to acquire spirit roots from event shops instead of farming them due to their rather low drop rate of 165.7 AP/Drop (value courtesy of Atlas Academy's drop lookup tool), this node consists of 2 waves of various low knight / berserker class mobs followed by a third wave saber spriggin sitting pretty at an intimidating 236k HP.
For this example, we will look at how effective an SE can be at making a "mediocre" option more useful than more obvious choices within the context of class advantage.
NP damage to saber spriggan (earth attribute):
|Chloe von Einzbern||105,567|
|Altera the San(ta)||109,705|
We look at Emiya (Alter) here because he is the hardest hitting ST archer after his strengthening.
Chloe, or Kuro, is the first of two welfare SR ST archers. Notably, she possesses a massive 50% battery, making her extremely convenient for farming purposes.
Altera the San(ta), or Santera, is the second of the two welfare SR ST archers. Although she deals slightly more damage than Kuro, her battery is significantly smaller at 20% and she is also attribute neutral at 1.0x (star-earth) while Kuro possesses a 1.1x attribute advantage (sky-earth). For these reasons, we will be looking at Kuro over Santera for comparison purposes.
If a player does not possess either an SR or an SSR archer, their best option with full class advantage would appear to be David. At first glance, David appears to be a significantly worse option than the previously mentioned servants as his base NP damage, even after his strengthening, pales compared to that of the gold archers - 89,195 to be precise. However, his strengthening also gave his NP an additional effect - an SE against "Giant" type enemies. As spriggans do indeed possess the "Giant" trait, his NP damage jumps to....
NP damage to saber spriggan (earth attribute):
|David (with anti-giant)||178,390|
This is an incredible amount of damage for a 3* servant, but how well does he perform in an actual farming scenario?
If we assume that the goal is to use the servant's noble phantasm immediately on wave 3, there are two basic setups that can be compared. We will be comparing David with Kuro, as the latter has the largest battery of the aforementioned servants, making it easier for her to utilize her NP.
|Servant (NP5)||Support Servant||CE|
|Chloe von Einzbern||Waver||Black Grail (MLB / Level 100)|
|David||Waver||Aerial Drive (MLB / Level 100)|
In a setup where Waver is present, Kuro does not require any additional starting charge from her CE, as his 50% total charge and her own 50% battery allow her to NP without additional assistance. The strongest damage CE in the game (with the exception of event specific PM CEs) is undoubtedly Black Grail, as it gives not only a incredible 80% boost to NP damage when MLB, but also possesses a rare attack stat of 2400 at max level, while most full attack CEs cap out at 2000.
Due to David not possessing his own battery, we give him Aerial Drive - which has not only a full attack stat of 2000, but confers him with 50% starting charge and both buster and NP damage buffs, which are multiplicative with his and Waver 's attack buffs. Aerial Drive also has the benefit of being an easily accessible CE, as it was obtainable via the shop in the Halloween 3 event and its rerun. In contrast, Black Grail is a gacha only CE that has only ever had one rateup - the Kintoki release banner.
With all that taken into account, let's see how the two setups fare:
NP damage to saber spriggan (earth attribute):
|Servant (NP5)||Support Servant||CE||Damage|
|Chloe von Einzbern||Waver||Black Grail (MLB / Level 100)||301,694|
|David||Waver||Aerial Drive (MLB / Level 100)||332,710|
As you can see, David manages to edge out Kuro despite being a lower cost / rarity option while also utilizing a more accessible setup due to the strength of his SE. While both setups would be sufficient to clear the spriggan, the purpose of this example was to demonstrate the significant impact an SE can have on NP damage.
Boss Encounters / Challenge Quests
The vast majority of the "high difficulty" content in FGO can be cleared relatively easily by employing class advantage or solo support tactics. However, there are some instances that demand / allow for a more creative approach in lieu of simply taking a random class advantage servant to the node in question.
Saber Alter Memorial Quest
A rather infamous challenge quest that was available as part of the memorial quests during FGO's 2nd and 3rd anniversaries, the Saber Alter memorial quest was actually fairly straightforward and could be easily cleared through various strategies such as soloing with Jeanne d'Arc or Archer Artoria. That being said, some people took it upon themselves to TA (turn attack) the CQ - clearing it in the minimum number of turns possible - 3 in this case.
Some Saber Alter Memorial TAs (click to expand)
One TA of this CQ used Sigurd, who possesses no inherent class advantage against Saber Alter but does have an anti-dragon SE on his NP. This is significant because Saber Alter, along with all but one (Caster Artoria) of the various Artoria variants, possesses the Dragon trait.
From the video description:
Some thought processes:
Among buster servants with neutral damage, only three: Jalter, Carmilla (actually a quick servant), and Sigurd can 3 turn w/o CS. Sigurd, with 100% crit dmg, Earth attribute, and a special NP effect on dragons makes this possible.
The point of mentioning this Sigurd clear is because it demonstrates the power of SEs, even when there is no class advantage of which to speak. Of the aforementioned servants, Carmilla also possesses an SE on her NP - hers being against female enemies.
The strength of the anti-dragon SE becomes apparent when we calculate his base NP damage against dragons with no class advantage and compare it to those of the ST SSR archers who do have class advantage.
NP damage to saber Artoria Pendragon (Alter) (man attribute):
|Sigurd (against dragon)||138,144|
|Archer of Shinjuku||140,752|
|Orion (non male)||102,852|
Even without class advantage, Sigurd significantly outdamages Orion and comes fairly close to Archer of Shinjuku and Artoria due to his SE and 1.1x attribute advantage (earth-man) against Saber Alter.
All Sabers Must Die!
Mysterious Heroine X, or MHX for short, is a contentious servant. Regarded as fairly weak on release (and rightfully so), she has since received 3 interludes and 1 strengthening, making her the first servant to receive 4 buffs. Her original issue was that she had an anti-saber / saberface niche (PM on skill 3 and SE on NP) as an...assassin. The common consensus was that if one really wanted an anti saber servant, it'd be better to simply bring an archer servant. Even after all her buffs, she is prone to being overlooked as an option in saber / saberface encounters.
So how good is she really?
MHX NP Damage Calculations (NP5):
|Conditions||No Class Advantage||Class Advantage|
|(saber and saberface)||178,930|
|(1 of saber or saberface)||119,287||238,574|
|(no saber or saberface)||79,524||159,048|
So what are the implications of these numbers? For comparison's sake, the class advantage damage values for all ST SSRs (with the exception of riders and avengers because it is hard to justify bringing MHX against casters and rulers) will be listed below.
NP Damage for NP5 ST SSRs with class advantage:
|Archer of Shinjuku||140,752|
|Orion (non male)||114,280|
|Sigurd (non dragon)||167,410|
|Beni-enma (non evil/chaotic)||133,962|
|Tamamo (non male)||127,892|
|Jack (non female)||137,242|
|Illyasviel von Einzbern||150,210|
|MHXA (non sabers)||114,738|
|Yang Guifei (no burn debuffs / living flame stacks)||110,822|
MHX at NP5 compared to the ST SSRs of other classes at NP5:
|MHX Compared To||Observations||Extra Notes|
|Sabers||Does not outdamage anyone vs lancers, even when hitting the saberface trait|
|Archers||Outdamages everyone vs sabers with the saberface trait||Will outdamage Orion if he is not hitting male enemies even if MHX is not hitting the saberface trait|
|Lancers||Does not outdamage anyone vs archers, even when hitting the saberface trait||Will come close to Tamamo if she is not hitting male enemies and MHX is hitting the saberface trait (~8,605 damage difference)|
|Assassins||Outdamages almost everyone vs riders (base damage with no trait consideration) (First Hassan does ~13,290 more damage)|
|Casters||Will not outdamage Illya vs assassins||Will outdamage Xuanzang when hitting the saberface trait|
|Berserkers||Outdamages almost everyone when hitting the saberface trait (Kintoki does ~326 more damage)||Will outdamage MHXA if they are hitting an enemy with both the saber and saberface traits but will lose if the enemy only has the saber trait|
|Extras||Does not outdamage anyone if they have class advantage||Will outdamage Yang Guifei if she has no stacks / burn debuffs active|
For a final point of comparison, we compare MHX to the two welfare ST SR archers as they would be the best options against single saber enemies for players who lack an SSR to fill that niche.
NP damage to sabers:
|Altera the San(ta)||109,880|
|Chloe von Einzbern||95,970||MHX (non-saberface)||119,287|
From the numbers, we can see that NP5 MHX outdamages both NP5 Santera and Kuro vs sabers, even when not hitting the saberface trait. However, it would be misleading to imply that MHX is better than Santera or Kuro just because she outdamages them at NP5 as most players will not have an SSR at NP5, and a limited one at that.
On that note, let's see how MHX stacks up to them at differing NP levels.
NP damage to sabers (no saberface trait):
While MHX does only ~534 less damage than Santera at NP3 and outdamages Kuro even at NP2 vs sabers, Santera and Kuro have an easier time using their NPs as they both have their own batteries. So while MHX may be an appealing option in a vacuum due to her high damage, one must always consider the practicality of their setups.
For challenge quests, high difficulty content, and boss encounters, the relatively regular frequency with which the various Artoria Pendragon, Jeanne d'Arc, and Nero Claudius variants (all of whom have the saberface trait) appear as enemy units establishes MHX as a viable servant around which to build a team, should the player not possess servants with class advantage that outdamage her in these encounters. This also applies to any saber class enemies in general, as the 50% PM on her third skill makes her competitive with the gold archers.
This is not to say that the raw damage values are the only things to consider when team building. One must also take into account other aspects of the servants being used, foremost among these being battery and PM/SE/Anti-Traits on NPs. For example, although NP5 MHX outdamages NP5 Kama vs riders, the latter possesses a 50% battery that makes it easier for her to utilize her NP with minimal assistance. An NP5 Jack (anti-trait buff on NP against females) who is hitting class advantage on a female unit will heavily outdamage NP5 MHX vs the same enemy, assuming she is not hitting the saberface trait.
In conclusion, her strength as a standard ST assassin aside, MHX fills a relevant anti-saberface niche and works well against saber class enemies due to the strength of her PM and SE.
To reiterate the earlier disclaimer, the purpose of this article was not to downplay class effectiveness, nor was it to overly exaggerate the impact of buffs such as PMs, SEs, and anti-traits. It was to point out scenarios in which damage neutral options existed as competitive alternatives to class advantage or existing class advantage options were bolstered, both through the impact of the aforementioned buff types. There were other notable examples that could have been given, such as the infamous Camelot Gawain encounter to which people usually bring Euryale or Orion (anti-male SE on NP and anti-male PM on skill 2 respectively) or Medb (anti-male SE on NP) to a certain boss encounter in Lostbelt 5. That being said, the hope is that anyone who reads this article will be inspired to be more creative with their resources when approaching team building.
All videos and images included belong to their respective publishers.
All images, unless otherwise noted, are official Fate Grand Order game assets.