Thursday, January 20, 2022

Blue Archive – Comprehensive PVP Guide

How 2 PvP

If you don’t care to learn about the finer details of BA’s PvP, it’s fine for you to skip to the team building section of this doc. While the details in this section may help you increase win rate, knowing which units are good is enough if you’re only here for a quick cash out.

That said, this section will explain in some detail the things you can think about when attempting to improve your win rate.

Positioning and AI behaviour

Games can be won and lost on positioning alone. Unit positioning is a very deep and complicated topic in which you can dedicate a whole document to explaining all kinds of possibilities surrounding where your students decide to sit on the field. I wish I could do that, but it would be a truly exhausting task so instead this section will just give you a basic idea of why positioning is important. There will be more student specific position information in the units/teams section of the doc.

 
 

Firstly, your students spawn into the map based on the slot you put them into on the team building page. The student in Pos1 will spawn closest to the bottom side of the screen, while the student in Pos4 will spawn closest to the top of the screen. This is true for both Attack and Defence.

Old screenshot from BA community Discord. 

Secondly, the combination of your units position and the enemies positions will affect where everybody will stop. This is important for both offensive and defensive reasons.

  • The AI will (almost) always centre their EX skill on their AA target. Better positioning can lead to deeper angles for skill shots
  • Having your student stop in a place where they are unlikely to get hit is ideal

 
 

Notice the different places every student stops in these screenshots. These are different battles. Look out for especially Nonomi and Tsubaki:

1.

2.

Notice how Nonomi in the 2nd screenshot is hugging Tsubaki’s behind very tightly, but in the first she is maintaining a healthy distance. This is absolutely not ideal, because any AOE targeted at Tsubaki will spill easily onto Nonomi, taking her out of the game. This won’t happen if she hangs back more.

The attacking team and their positions from the team building screen are basically the same, but on the actual field their real positions are different. The biggest reason for this change lies in the defending teams positions. The detailed explanation would take multiple pages of walls-of-text to explain, so the extremely-over-simplified explanation is: In screenshot 1, the main tanks are in D1 and D2, but in screenshot 2, the main tanks are in D3 and D4. Due to factors I can’t begin to explain, such as student range, class behaviour, and AI quirks, the difference in the defending team’s tank positioning caused Nonomi to be squished up to Tsubaki. A simple solution for this would be to place Nonomi in A1 and my tanks in A2/A3. What should happen is Nonomi will stop a fair distance beneath an A2 Hoshino; at the same time Tsubaki and Hoshino can potentially engage with the D3/D4 tanks closer to the defender side of the map. This setup is also unlikely to change the outcome of the fight in screenshot 1.

Finally, unit position can affect the time it takes for your units to begin shooting. Here’s an extreme example. Remember screenshot 1 above? You can see Haruna stopped in place there ready to shoot. She stopped there with 2:56 on the clock.

But she’s not done yet. What happens after is she moves down to the barricade at the bottom of the screen because her SR class AI wants her to be behind cover. She doesn’t start shooting until 2:50. That’s 6 whole seconds not dealing any damage when everyone else has already started shooting. 

Unlike the problem with Nonomi hugging Tsubaki’s behind, this isn’t always a game changing problem – but it’s still a problem you want to iron out because every edge can matter when the battle is already filled with randomness. The solution to this problem would be to place Haruna in A1 so she spawns in the right spot to take cover and shoot immediately. 

Hang on, but the solution to my previous problem was to move Nonomi to A1 – now I have to move Haruna to A1? This is where the intrigue of PvP is. You’ve got two glaring problems with your formation and you have to find a way to optimise them based on many unknowns. You’ll often find yourself weighing the pros and cons of your unit positions and having to compromise. Luckily in this particular case, the solution can be simple: Keep Haruna in A1 and move Nonomi to A4. This will allow Haruna to keep the cover and Nonomi to keep her distance.

This was the simplified breakdown of why position matters in PvP. A detailed guide for positioning would require a whole document of its own – it might happen in the future, but you will have to settle on this for now.

 
 

Terrain

You don’t notice it as much in other game modes, but in PvP terrain can drastically affect the preference for some units over others. In most cases, terrain will affect both the units you decide to pick and what position you put them in.

Each unit has terrain they like and dislike. Their mood within each terrain directly affects some aspects of their performance.

MoodDamage MultiplierBlock Rate Behind Cover
  (SS)1.3x75%
    (S) 1.2x60%
    (A)1.1x45%
    (B)1.0x30%
    (C)0.9x15%
    (D)0.8x0%

Some units can heavily prefer one piece of terrain over another, while others can be relatively neutral for each.

 

Left: Haruna mood. Right: Hibiki mood.

I don’t think the difference in damage dealt needs any explanation. More damage = good. Less damage = bad. Duh.

The one that people don’t catch is the block rate. Blocks completely absorb damage thus it plays a large part in the survivability of a unit. A unit who hates the terrain they are in will never block incoming damage when taking cover. Not only is the survivability of the unit lowered, but it also indirectly affects your other units because the sad unit is occupying cover that another happier unit can utilize instead. 

Furthermore, each terrain has a different playing field.

URBAN

A street filled with signs and barricades for your units to take cover. There’s enough cover for all units on one side, leading to not only increased survivability for the back-line but also some occasional funny behaviours from the AI while it tries to figure out what it wants to do.

The clock tower at the top can collapse when hit by AOE skills, knocking back units standing underneath it and leaving an obstacle for your students to walk around. 

Due to how many barriers there are, this map heavily favours those who can take cover. Single tank compositions were the most common, followed by double tank compositions. You would almost never see or use a triple tank formation in Urban. Teams often aimed to kill the backline first. 

OUTDOORS

A barren area with only a single barricade on either side. The tower on the top of this map can also fall. The lack of cover raised the double tank meta to the top, with some people opting to use 3 tanks. You will very rarely see single tank compositions. Outdoors requires a balance of front-line and back-line damage.

 
 

INDOORS

(not out yet)

List of Defenders and the Refresh Button

Everybody’s favourite button in PvP because this is the most “gameplay” you’ll get that doesn’t include theory crafting. It randomly refreshes the list of defenders for you to attack. Lower ranks will see higher variation in their opponents because the list will attempt to show you those who are 70% of your current ladder position.

In this screenshot I am rank 730. 

70% of 730 is 511, so the opponent at the top of this list will be around this rank. 

This button is useful especially once you begin to understand what your team is capable of and who your preferred match-ups are. Needless to say that if you know your win conditions, you can be picky about who to go up against to maximise your win rate.

As you play more PvP and get a handle for the meta, you’ll also be able to predict teams and their positioning based solely off the unit on D1.

In the screenshot below, the visible units on the defenders side are Shun, S.Mashiro, and Hibiki.

With Shun in D1, I can make a reasonable guess that there will be a tank on D2 and D3, with S.Hina or Iori occupying D4 because:

  • It’s unlikely for there to be a tank on D4 because this will introduce a spacing problem if they put DPS on D3. 
  • If Shun is in D1, a tank in D3 and D4 can also potentially expose Shun to a smartly placed DPS on A1, removing her from the game quickly. 
  • Thus, there is going to be at least one tank on D2 or D3. 
  • Knowing D4 is going to be S.Hina or Iori is based on experience, knowledge, and data surrounding the common picks of this terrain, outdoors. 

I’m right!

Of course, this isn’t the only possible combination given the exposed students on the list. It was just a quick example to demonstrate how you can think around the information you can see. To optimise my success I will have to account for multiple possibilities with a team that can handle itself against different set-ups. 

 
 

On a separate note, there will be a rank you will reach where the refresh button doesn’t really change the opponents you are allowed to attack. If you are at this point then you’ll have to start remembering player names and the teams they run to set up the right attack team; you can no longer pretend the teams you can’t win against don’t exist. Good luck.

Understanding Defence and Damage Graphs

First things first, the numbers on the damage graphs in PvP are absolutely NOT a direct indicator of how good a unit is. However what it can do is tell you a story of how your battle went. Damage graphs are the only feedback you get as a defender – so if you are finding yourself with an abysmal defence win rate, you may want to start looking at your logs to try and find the problem. 

There are many clues in a damage graph to help you piece together how a battle unfolded.

From this log below I can deduce that:

  • The enemy Tsubaki doing 0 damage means she was killed instantly at the beginning of the match
  • My Nonomi and Arisu also died at the beginning of the match, having done no damage even when the attacker had no tank
    • Could they be in a vulnerable position?
  • The enemy S.Mashiro did 0 damage. This is only possible if the battle was quick. My Hoshino must have cleaned up quickly despite not having DPS backup.
    • Perhaps I need to replace my backline with faster, less risky units?

This might seem a little straight forward to some, and confusing to others. Understanding how your fights go down even if you can’t watch them will offer you an advantage in making your defending team.

Another thing you want to utilise as a defender is the element of surprise. As you climb ranks, attackers see less information about the defending team. You can absolutely use this to your advantage by deploying uncommon picks and positions. While there are indeed a handful of units in each terrain that are staple to every team comp, they are not infallible. I’m not going to reveal any secrets in this document (there are many interesting, high win rate teams), but you can be assured that your waifu can probably hold up in a defending team given the right support and the proper conditions – just be prepared to do some experimenting. 

Author: VirtualScepter (Causew#5130)
Source: Comprehensiven’t Blue Archive PvP Guide
For the latest version, please check out the original article



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