Tifa x Haohmaru Versus Alt. Arena 3

Health update at end of article


Alt. Arena 3 is considered the hardest dungeon in the game at this point in time and when it first came it out, it provided a great challenge to many players due to the revamped mechanics and health pools.

Despite having numerous lethal mechanics present, it can be cleared by a wide variety of teams but one important factor is consistency. Getting a single clear is great but being able to repeatedly farm this dungeon is invaluable from a rewards perspective.

For myself, Tifa x Haohmauru is my most consistent team due to the deep sub pool Light can draw from, 7×6, Auto Follow Up Damage, massive healing, and incredible damage potential.

At this point in time, 7×6 and Auto Follow Up Damage are the strongest leader skill mechanics and being able to utilize both of them will most likely solidify this leader pairing for a prolong period of time.

With this in mind, I wish to explore how I built my own team along with addressing the major hurdles that can be found in Alt. Arena 3.

Video clear

Notable Alt. Arena 3 mechanics

Alt. Arena 3 is currently the hardest dungeon available in North America and will push many teams to their limits. As such, it is important to understand the key mechanics that must be addressed.

The following is a brief summary of the notable mechanics in the dungeon. This may not be an exhaustive list for every team but is the checklist I use when team building for this dungeon.

  • Damage Absorb Void (Fujin -style)
    • 2 turns is ideal
  • Jammer skyfall buff (eg.  )
  • Skill Delay Resists  for the above
  • VDP
  • FUA (maybe )
  • 100% Blind Resist Blind Resist
  • 100% Poison Resist Poison resist
  • Cloud Resist
  • Effective HP > 100,375 (largest preemptive)
  • One Awoken Bind clear or orb changer that removes Poison
  • 1 Dark Resist Dark Reduction or built in Damage Reduction
  • Not reliant on Light for Damage Reduction/activation
    • If reliant, bring shield or active that counters unable to match mechanics
  • Self RCV buff/debuff or exceptionally high RCV

Being able to address each of these options will ensure a much higher clear rate overall.

Tifa x Haohmaru overview

 Base Tifa

Active: Change Heal orbs to Light orbs; For 3 turns, reduce damage taken by 35%; Enhance all Light orbs. (8 turn CD)

Leader Skill: 4x ATK & RCV when matching 5 or more connected Fire or Light orbs up to 6x at 7 orbs; [Board becomes 7×6]; 2x ATK and 1.5x HP for Light Att. [2.25/144/36]

Awakenings: Light Row Light Row Light Row Light Row Light Row   Skill Lock Resist Skill Boost
Super Awakenings:   
Typing: Attacker / Physical
Weighted Stats (Limit Break): 950 (1188)
HP 5055 (6319) / ATK 2045 (2556) / RCV 109 (136)

  Wandering Swordsman, Haohmaru

Active: For 1 turn, increase combo count by 2; Change all orbs to Fire, Light, and Heal orbs (13 turn CD)

Leader Skill: 1.5x all stats for Light Att.; 2x ATK when 4 or more combos; 5x ATK when matching 6 or more connected Light orbs; 50000 additional damage when matching 6 or more Light orbs [2.25/225/2.25]

Awakenings:    Light Row Light Row Light Row   
Super Awakenings: 45  
Attacker / Physical
Weighted Stats (Limit Break): 907 (1134)
HP 4045 (5056) / ATK 2353 (2941) / RCV 98 (122)

  • 7×6 board
  • Auto Follow Up Damage
  • Large sub pool
  • High RCV
    • Can potentially ignore -75% RCV debuff
    • Can proc RCV from Fire
  • Can take advantage of passive damage awakenings
  • Only need to own one of the leaders
  • No natural Damage Reduction
  • Reliant on Light to activate
    • Hera Nyx requires a solution

Due to the asymmetrical nature of this pairing, players only need to own one of these leaders and can use any Light sub they wish. This alleviates some stresses for team building and having this freedom is certainly a boon to less developed boxes.

Regardless, the two together are able to naturally use the larger 7×6 board which grants an additional 12 orbs. These orbs help provide a larger combo count along with ensuring most given boards have sufficient Light orbs to activate.

On a 7×6 board, a Row will require 7 orbs to trigger and while Haohmaru can fully activate with 6, it is best to save orbs for a full Row as it will grant significantly more damage as both leaders come with a total of 8 Light Rows Light Row.

In addition to this, the Auto Follow Up Damage removes the need to use FUA which also means Rows can still be formed and your damage is not hindered. This also means players can use a wider variety of orb/board changers along with “gaining” an extra combo as that column of 6 Hearts can be broken up into two separate combos.

Another key aspect to this team is their ability to heal massive amounts of health due to the bolstered RCV multipliers. While it may seem like overkill, it helps ensure the 75% RCV debuff can go mostly unnoticed along with the healing activating from either connected Fire or Light orbs. This gives Tifa x Haohmaru teams the capacity to stall without killing a floor as a blobbed Fire match will most likely not deal enough damage as Haohmaru will not activate.

While all of this sounds impressive, there are two major hurdles players should be aware of: no built in Damage Reduction and a dependency on Light orbs.

In Alt. Arena 3, there is a 50% chance Dark Agni will spawn who delivers a -100% HP preemtive. This will execute any team regardless of their health pool but at the same time, any form of Damage Reduction will prevent this. As such, Tifa x Haohmaru teams must run a single Dark Damage Reduction Dark Reduction latent. While this is easy to accomplish, a lack of Damage Reduction also means a weakness to Gravity + Hit move sets.

This manifests with Hera Nyx who will prevent Light orbs from being matched for 2 turns along with a Gravity + Hit as her first non-preemptive attack. This means players must either bring an active that cancels out unable to match orbs or utilizing Tifa’s shield to survive this attack.

Team building

The following is the Tifa x Haohmaru team I was able to make from my Monster Box. It is able to address all of the above mechanics while having sufficient health to survive any preemptive at full HP:

Solo Alt. Arena 3 – Tifa x Haohmaru
HP Badge
SA 45
Latent Skill delay resist x6 Devil killerDevil killer
Devil killer
Dragon KillerDragon Killer
Dragon Killer
Skill delay resist x4
God Killer
Skill delay resist x5
Dark Reduction
Skill delay resist x4
Devil killer

The least spicy aspect of this team is my utilization of Fujin as an inherit. They only provide a single turn of Damage Absorption Void along with no additional awakenings. While this is lackluster, I decided to place it on Tifa as it will charge up in time for Machine Athena and if Machine Athena or Durga does not spawn, I immediately use it to reset Tifa’s active.

This is because I need to have her shield ready for Hera Nyx as it is my only way to survive her Gravity + Hit combo. I decided to not bring an active to cancel out unable to match orb effects as I do not wish to give up any of my other inherits along with Tifa’s shield being sufficient. Just be aware you will need to stall a couple of turns which should not be too difficult.

While not stated in my checklist, there is a soft HP check on any of the Tamadra floors as the two will both attack for a total of 135,000 damage. Generally speaking, this will be too much damage for a given team to handle but the Effective Health can be met due to Diaochan and her natural 14% Light Damage Reduction. This brings each hit down to 58,050 or 116,100 in total. This may or may not be possible for all teams to survive, but my on-colour inherits helped raise me to 120,844 HP.

Thankfully, the fun with Diaochan does not stop there as her valuable base active, 2 turn cooldown, Super Blind Resist , and naturally high RCV all help shape her into a powerful card. The Super Blind opens up inheritance options and is the main reason why I chose to use Yellow Ranger’s Weapon Assist twice.

This Weapon Assist is able to fully clear Bind/Awoken Binds along with generating Light and Heart orbs on a 10 turn cooldown. This has wonderful synergy with Diaochan and Fenrir Viz’s low cooldowns and enables me to use an active I actually want on a regular basis. Furthermore, each Weapon provides a single Poison Resist Poison resist, Time Extend Time Extend, and Enhanced Heart Orb +heart. While the additional healing may feel like overkill, I find it helpful as it will always guarantee I can fully heal even if hit by the -75% RCV debuff. Furthermore, these two Poison Resists are also meaningful as my Haohmaru friend uses Karn’s Weapon Assist who provides three Poison Resists along with 2 Light Rows Light Row.

In regards to Fenrir Viz, he is one of the strongest subs for AA3 as his Cloud Resist , Jammer Skyfall active on a 1 turn cooldown, and higher HP help guarantee him a spot on most teams that can take use him.

At this point, my two leaders, Diaochan, and Fenrir Viz are not pumping out much damage but this is okay because I am able to have more than enough damage from two hard hitting subs and layer in Passive Damage to bolster them further.

For myself, I chose to use Bradamante and Halloween Cotton as my two Damage solutions as both possess high personal damage with natural combos along with VDP . Both these cards take on either Devil Devil killer or Dragon Killer Dragon Killer awakenings to ensure the final floors are dealt with easier but their usage of Brachydios Weapons pushes them over the top for damage output.

Each Weapon provides >80% which translates into 1.5x personal damage that should be active most of the time as players can always return to full health with relative ease. Furthermore, I will gain a total of 8 Enhanced Light Orbs +light orb between the two assists which catapults my damage output to new heights.

This enables these two subs to deal essentially all the damage I would ever need and was able to hit Damage Cap without a burst in one AA3 run:


Tifa x Haohmaru is my most consistent leader pairing for Alt. Arena 3 for my given Monster Box and the ability to use both 7×6 and Auto Follow Up Damage is amazing to say the least. So many mechanics become trivialized along with the capacity to deal spectacular amounts of damage on a regular basis.

Of course, this team is not without faults and players must make sure they have a solution for dealing with Hera Nyx along with a single Dark Damage Reduction to survive Dark Agni’s preemptive.

Let me know what you think about Tifa x Haohmaru along with the teams you have built with these two leaders.

Happy Puzzling!

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Health update

My pain flare up that started on January 1st is still lingering and is keeping me from standing as much as I would like as the pain will shoot down through my buttocks and down my legs along with wrapping around my groin.

On the bright side, I have incredibly kind neighbors who drove me to Costco on Saturday and was the first time I had left the condo building since January 1. I enjoyed the change of scenery and was able to pick up various items Pancaaake and I need anyway.

After returning home, I was unable to truly stand without support and this is somewhat the norm now despite constant stretching, heat, and movement I am capable of.

Regardless, it is a bit easier to sit and focus and I do have some interesting article topics floating around in my head as I have been thinking of various talking points whilst unable to function.

23 thoughts on “Tifa x Haohmaru Versus Alt. Arena 3”

  1. Great read! I -finally- beat AA2, so now I’m going to start working on AA3… I’m expecting it to be easier than AA2, as more of my top end team comps should work better with less heavy hitting preemptives.


    1. Glad you enjoyed it =)

      I do agree that the lower preemptive check opens up new possibilities and is one main reason why I feel Tifa x Haohmaru works so well as they can overcome those thresholds

      On a side note, who did you use for AA2?


      1. I used Ina/Phenom, with Hiei, Planar, Veroah and Eir with full resists on the team. As always, PSI combined with bad spawns kept me from beating it, but my winning run was pretty smooth. My normal A5 Ina/Phenom team didn’t have enough health.


  2. I hope I’m not misunderstanding your rationale for choosing Fujin over other void damage absorb options in asking this question (if so, sorry…).

    Would there be more ideal options than Fujin as an inherit? I’m thinking Awoken Lugh and DRaizer in particular.


    1. There are so many better options but this is the best for what I have to work with as I lack any 2 turn fujin

      I think I acquired Lugh recently (this clear was done a long time ago) and now with Awoken, his active can be used even if no spawn as before it was unable to be used


  3. As always, excellent write up… never thought to use TIFA/HAOHMARU pairing… it’s so frigging wicked !! . I dont have Bradamante. Is edward a suitable replacement ?


        1. Thanks for the input! To think back, fujimi fantasia is the most underrated REM since it has a lot of key subs, strongest equip and couple of strong lead.


    1. Glad I could show you something new =)

      As for Bradamante replacements, Edward works for sure but the the main drawback is less damage overall along with a longer base CD


  4. Are you always able to find a friend Haomaru with Karn assist, or is it bc you’re using your own helper? I have some Haomaru friends and that set up seems really specific (and very nice!).

    I also notice that in general, it’s hard to optimize my teams’ weapon assists bc my friend helpers tend to have assists that are all over the place. So I can never expect them to carry a critical weapon assist that for example, would provide me 100% coverage for a certain hazard or a mandatory AS, which makes team building kind of awkward sometimes.


    1. I have quite a deep friend list and they seem to have him up whenever I needed it =)

      I do agree that the friend system is problematic as it can greatly throw off team building if you are always having to use different friends/inherits


      1. Update to this: This issue has somewhat improved for me bc I now have 1 reliable Haomaru friend with an Aerith equip.

        The funny thing is, I finished complaining by posting that first comment and sent that player a message of appreciation, saying they’re one of the only reliable and active Haomaru friends I have left (I have a lot of friends who frequently switch leaders or put up less than ideal weapon assists and SAs). I was waiting to see if there would be a response and next thing I know, this person BF-ed me!


  5. Wanted to say I really appreciate all these detailed articles and time you put into these posts! Glad to hear that you’re feeling a little bit better too. Thanks for keeping us updated!


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