Dark Athena is the newest craze to sweep through NA/EU as she is somewhat unrivaled in her speed and efficiency in clearing end game content. For the purposes of this article, I will be focusing on Arena 3 set ups to better optimize your experience from both a Solo and Coop point of view. This will include inheritance suggestions, Latents, and subs to bring.
I have written extensively about Arena 3 since my first clear in August 2016, but I want to produce a template to aid in your Dark Athena adventures.
If you wish to read my comprehensive Dark Athena guide, please refer to it HERE.
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My second solo clear (first one recorded) and this was done pretty much right after I bought her so things may look less polished overall.
Powercreep has slowly caught up to Arena 3 and with Dark Athena, more and more people will be having their first taste of the Radar Dragons and other wonders held within this 25 floor dungeon.
Arena 3 has randomized spawns that are drawn from a fixed pool encounters so you can somewhat plan ahead for what you could encounter.
However, there are very few spawns that are actually threatening to Dark Athena and provided you loosely follow the templates shown below, you should have sufficient tools to deal with them.
Finally, everyone will have different Killer Latents, orb enhances, and sub compositions so your damage output will vary and it is up to you to go into Endless to damage test on your own.
Solo mode enables you to use a Badge of your choice, but restricts you to a smaller health pool, less actives, and a more rigid composition in order to maximize your experience.
Despite the fact that an “ideal/optimal” team exists, you do have some room for creativity provided you can meet the the health threshold outlined for Gaia Dragon. The optimal team simply means you require less effort overall (fewer combos) to sweep floors and does provide various levels of security against all possible encounters.
Solo Dark Athena Arena 3 – No HP Badge
With this set up, you require exactly 6 wood resists to survive Gaia Dragon’s attacks without the use of a shield provided you are at full health. If your HP differs from this value (64,294), you must adjust your wood resists accordingly.
If this is not feasible with full +297, you can simply opt to use the bonus HP badge.
Physical Killers are used to counter Ilsix after he enrages and produces a board of water, hearts, and locked jammers. The Killers will enable you to combo hard with water TPA and you can kill Ilsix without burning an additional active skill.
Using the 6th latent slot extender can have merits as it will allow you to have additional SBR for an added level of safety, but is not mandatory.
What I am using
Surprisingly, I have a team that is actually quite close to the ideal one and still works amazingly well.
Solo Dark Athena Arena 3
Coop allows you to bring 4 additional actives along with a significantly higher health pool. As such, your set up and strategy will vary due to the fact that you have a larger cushion to work with.
In coop mode, you no longer have to worry about SBR coverage as you should be more than able to find 5 across 8 subs. In addition, the overarching need for Fujin is dramatically lower as the larger HP pool facilitates an easier Hera Dragon clear. However, running Fujin is still beneficial.
Due to the larger HP pool, you no longer have to worry about wood resists and surviving Gaia Dragon’s attacks and instead should switch your focus to dark resists and overcoming Hera Dragon’s threshold if you do not run Fujin. Fully maxed out teams will always be able to naturally tank the first hit and it becomes a game of overcoming the 107,750 attack without using a shield/damage mitigation. This will automatically grant you 2 additional turns to dance with Hera Dragon and will only improve your consistency. In fact, even if you do run Fujin, you can use these turns as extra stalling if required.
What subs should we run?
Due to the fact that SBR coverage is no longer an issue, you may not actually need to run Loki if you are able to find an alternative sub that is just as hard hitting. However, Loki does has naturally high base HP and may help in overcoming the HP threshold for Hera Dragon.
Despite the fact that Dark Athena has a lower dependency on active skills, you should still try to prioritize using subs with relevant base actives. This is because stalling is problematic due to the RCV component being tied to damage activation as well as having to wait twice as long in coop.
Naturally, Haku is still a core sub and you should use her as much as possible along with the Dragon Killers. Otherwise, prioritize cards with TPA, 7 combo awakenings, high base stats, and relevant active skills.
Inheritance set up
You have 4 additional active skill slots to play around with but will still try and mimic the solo set up with a reshuffling around of the inherits. You want to place key active skills on your Dark Athenas as they recharge twice as fast as your subs. Thus, you want to move Fujin to a sub instead as it is a one time use. Furthermore, you want to try and plan out who will absorb Hephaestus’s 15 turn delay (ideally the side with Fujin).
If you are fortunate enough, some teams will run double Fujin to seamlessly counter Vishnu and Hera Dragon, but that is really not required as Dark Athena’s delay is enough to handle Vishnu.
Theory crafting a coop team
If I had every card in the game and could build a dream team for both sides, I would probably create something along the lines of the following:
Coop Dark Athena – Arena 3
This team will require a few dark resists to tank the 107,750 hit from Hera Dragon, but otherwise should follow the solo set up while replacing wood resists with dark and SDR as needed.
The bottom team is designated to absorb the 15 turn skill delay from Hephaestus Dragon and if everyone is fully charged up, you can have two Haku still ready to use with the potential to have the third and Persephone ready if you use SDR or less skilled up inherits.
Worst case scenario is you blow your delay on Hino then get Vishnu and are forced to use your delay. Naturally this will cause Hera Dragon to appear, but if you have met the HP threshold to survive her first two attacks, you can then cycle Indra up and have a walloping 10 turns to kill before you actually die.
What I am actually using
Naturally I do not have access to most of the desired cards and will be using a set up that is similar, but not quite the same as the “ideal” one:
Coop Dark Athena – Arena 3
Despite the fact that Arena 3 has 25 floors and varied spawns, very few are actually a threat to Dark Athena. Provided you mirror the ideal teams as closely as possible, you have more than enough tools to counter them and most of it can be done without using active skills.
One thing I want to stress is that Dark Athena’s active skill is a get out of Jail-Free card as a 3 turn delay (5 with inherit) means you can safely catch your breath, stall back for skill, or prep your board.
The Tans have 3.5 million defense and requires at least two dark combos with one being a TPA to pierce. However, you can simply delay them and pick them off and dance on the final one
Killer Latent – F8
These Tamadras have 5 million defense, but are also light which means you only need to overcome 2.5 million. This can be achieved with a single dark TPA and 7 combos. You are able to tank 2 consecutive hits in solo mode without healing so you can hoard orbs and prep your board accordingly. If things go poorly, you can simply delay it.
Sha Wujing – F9
Just delay him or use a shield.
PreDRA – F13
Use your true damage and if playing in coop, make sure the appropriate player kills the Celestial on floor 12.
Zeus & Hera – F14
I simply wait out the two turns and then delay. The regular strategy of one shotting, having them heal to 50% +1, and then pinging below does not work due to the fact that your RCV component is tied to dealing damage. As such, I simply delay them after the status void drops off.
Sopdet – F16
While she is light, you can match a maximum of 3 combos total with one of them being dark (assuming 6 total orb enhances). I aim for 2 to accommodate one random skyfall while doing my best to match at the top of the board. After she turns dark, you have more wiggle room, but never match dark and water at the same time. Matching TPA fire and water can help when dark orbs are not present.
Hinokagutsuchi – F18
Just delay him. Dragon Killers make for impossible damage control against something as fragile as him.
Parvati – F18
You cannot match dark and water and should simply rely on Dark matches to chip down. Just be aware that she hits for 36,722 when under 30%. You can always heal her back up to stall if required. A tedious, not dangerous floor.
Meimei – F18
If you have a poor board to start with, you can let her do her first move that generates wood, light, and dark orbs. From there, you can dark TPA her down with your Physical Killers on your two leaders.
Vishnu – F20
Vishnu can be delayed and I do so once I have chipped him down or am unable to heal again. You might as well chunk him down by a modest amount before delaying as you then have even more turns to kill a smaller amount of health. He is also Fujin-able if everything goes wrong.
You must keep your damage below 1 million and I avoid dark TPA here. The 7 combo awakenings are also a liability here.
Ilsix – F21
Depending on the number of Dragon Killers on your team, you will need to control your damage appropriately. Try not to use heart orbs when above 45,518 health. When he goes into a Frenzy and creates water, hearts, and locked Jammer orbs, you can rely on water TPA and Physical Killers to kill.
However, this may not always be feasible and you can always use damage mitigation to tank a hit while clearing the board as well as a Ryune board to heal and deal damage. Just be aware that there is a 1/3 chance for a 46,238 preemptive on the next floor.
Radar Dragons – F23
All of the Radar Dragons have Dragon typing and this will influence how much damage control you need to exercise when facing them. I highly recommend you go into Endless and damage test varying amounts of combos/dark matches to give yourself an understanding of what is required as each on has different thresholds to overcome.
These may sound like overly simplified strategies, but Dark Athena does make life simple.
Hephaestus has been the bane of most solo runs due to his 15 turn skill delay preemptive. However, Dark Athena is more than capable of facing him due to her high damage, ability to run Dragon Killers, and naturally tanky leaderskill.
In solo mode, you are able to tank 5 hits in a row (61,655) without the HP badge (6 with) and if you mirror the ideal set up, you can have Hakus ready after only a few turns with Loki being available to lend his damage enhance and haste right away.
For myself, I try my best to only heal when required while bringing him below 50% as fast as possible. Once below 50%, I use Loki (Haku if needed) to sweep and have the damage enhance carry over for the Kali.
Noah Dragon is easily my least favourite spawn and the “easiest” method is to simply stall out the 99 turns of 5 million damage void. To do this, you should only heal when he is absorbing dark as you are forced to deal damage to trigger your RCV multiplier.
If you prefer not to wait 99 turns, you must wait for a desirable colour absorb to try and do as much damage as possible (under 5 million per card). This will trigger the first Judgement and then it is simply a matter of using your burst to hit under 20 million per card to finish them off.
Provided you have enough wood resists to tank the 68,255 hits, Gaia Dragon should be a relative cakewalk. You have 6 turns where you cannot exceed 24 million damage and then one turn where the board goes dark and the shield drops. If you understand your burst potential, Gaia Dragon should fall over relatively fast.
Going for a clean one shot is far too risky and it is best to simply deal as much damage as possible on the first turn without pushing him below 50%. Once he swaps colours, do an appropriate amount of burst to finish him off as he will now be at a much more manageable amount of health.
If you have Fujin, free win. However, you should take one turn to set up your board and let her heal you back to full health before killing.
If not using Fujin, you should be playing in coop (solo can always have Fujin with a friend) for the augmented health pool and you ideally can survive the second attack for 107,750 damage. This will grant you plenty of time to safely chip her down while staying below 2 million per card.
Kali – F24
You need to deal just over 26 million damage to avoid the execution zone of 150,096 damage. However, if you want, you can use an appropriate amount of damage mitigation to survive this attack and then kill as per usual once the 50% damage reduction drops off.
Dark Athena is the new “in thing” to farm Arena 3 with. She combines consistency, tankiness, amazing damage output, and the innate ability to handle almost every spawn with little effort.
While the showcased teams are more streamlined for maximum efficiency, you can exercise creativity, especially in coop. Dark Athena is forgiving enough and you generally can kill most floor with only a single dark TPA and water combo.
Let me know what you are using on your Dark Athena team(s).
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