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This article will give an insight about advanced strategies in Arknights, which are generally applicable to more late game content, assuming Elite 2 Operators, when operations are harder and stricter.

Aggression

Understanding the way your own Operators, as well as enemies choose targets is crucial to the good execution of any strategy. A good aggro management will help significantly reduce the amount of mitigations needed, and ensure your plans go smoothly. Aggro management is an absolutely critical skill to master in order to strategize effectively in Arknights.

Pathing

Observing and understanding the path that individual enemies take towards the Protection Objective is crucial to any operation, as they tend to be very surprising. Observing a map and quickly determining chokes that enemies can be funnelled into is a necessary skill in utilizing the available tile layout to make the most of your Operators' range and squad size. It's also great for learning to turn every lane into an Ifrit lane. A good understanding of enemy pathing is pretty much a requirement of operations that feature Roadblocks.

Opener

The opener is the first moments of any stage, and it is crucial, as it is the time when you still don't have your defenses set up. Usually, Vanguards are the stars of the show.

There are several choices in term of the opener. The most easily accessible one is to use Pioneers. The Pioneer subclass falls under two sub-categories: offensive, and defensive. Their 2 block count generally offers a safety that the higher damage, single-block Chargers do not have. Attacking Pioneers usually have low DEF (like Texas) and defending Pioneers usually have low ATK (like Courier), so Doctors may choose different operators for different operations. Saga can provide extra SP for herself or other operators, which can accelerate her own DP generation.

One of the most popular opener strategies is to use one or several Standard Bearers along with Bagpipe. Bagpipe can provide 6 initial SP to vanguards (and does not even need to be actually deployed for this) and the Standard Bearers can therefore get an initial burst of DP extremely early on. With such a fast opener, the player is able to very quickly deploy their more expensive operators. This strategy is called "Bag-flagging" by the CN community, and "Flagpipe" by the EN playerbase. This opener strategy is extremely useful in case of DP shortage, however it should also not be regarded as an automatic best strategy or rule of thumb, as some maps will punish this opener, and the game isn't designed with every player having Bagpipe in mind.

Vanguards are not the only choice for openers. A low cost Operator (especially Mountain) is also a good choice for them — while he does come with the obvious downside of not generating DP for future deployments. This is often used when the opener is particularly intense and immediately floods the player with enemies which Pioneers cannot fend off. Usually, these are best paired up with a Standard Bearer.

Roles

While classes, sub-classes and modules strictly define the mechanics of an Operator, roles define what situation an Operator will be best to deal with. These roles, unlike classes, tend to be flexible for Operators, and can even change within a single run of same stage. However, some Operators and some specific skills are notorious for being hyperspecialized in these roles and being extremely capable at fulfilling them. For instance, while Saria and Blemishine are both of the same class, branch, and rarity, they have massively different set of abilities, or "kits" and cannot, and should not be compared, as these differences in kit mean that typically, neither of them can fulfil the role which the other does. This is central to challenges of "unit economy" or, in other words, the effective use of Operators to solve several problems at once, which helps a lot with certain operations where even the default squad size seems too little.

Lane holders

Lane holders will deal with the rank-and-file enemies. Whether they are Casters or Snipers dealing damage from above or Guards and Defenders physically blocking the lane, these will be tasked with dispatching the relatively non-threatening targets, the "trash" to prevent them from leaking. Lane holders typically do not need heavy damage output, but consistent and quick damage output. For example, Blaze's Skill-Blaze1.png Chainsaw Extension Module, Mudrock's Skill-Mudrock2.png Crag Splitter and Thorns' Skill-Thorns2.png Destreza are very specialized in holding lanes, and W, or Eyjafjalla's Skill-Eyjafjalla2.png Ignition can clear out lanes very quickly. A lot, but not all of the lane holders will typically not be as efficient in dealing with tougher enemies. Of course, in many operations, there is nothing but "trash," making them practically overpowered.

Boss killers/wave cleaners

At the opposite end, boss killers and wave clearers will be expert at dealing with bosses and other high value targets – enemies that aren't strictly bosses but are either harder to kill than most average enemies, or present an extremely dangerous ability that must be dealt with quickly, such as Imperial Artillery Targeteers; as well as regular enemies used in large waves that may overwhelm lane holders. Boss killers don't necessarily have damage output as consistent as lane holders, but make up for it with a short burst of damage significantly higher than lane holders can ever dream of. The quintessential boss killers are perhaps Surtr and Amiya using Skill-Surtr3.png Twilight and Skill-Amiya2.png Chimera, respectively: they more than likely have enough damage burst to dispatch a boss efficiently, but both are doomed to be retreated after this. Similarly, Schwarz's Skill-Schwarz3.png Final Tactics, Eyjafjalla's Skill-Eyjafjalla3.png Volcano and SilverAsh's Skill-SilverAsh2.png Truesilver Slash will be competent to kill general targets, but the former's range largely limits her wave clearing potential during skill uptime, specializing her towards dealing extremely high burst damage to armored enemies, while the second can be used to clear tougher waves than usual, and has some boss killing potential, but it tends to fall off when the boss (like Patriot) has extremely high RES. Silverash effectively is a wave clearer that can sometimes be a boss killer. It is worth noting that this exemplifies another lesson: certain bosses will be more easily dealt with by certain Operators within the role, rather than others, and there are many flavors of boss killers.

Stallers

Stallers are different from lane holders in that their role is rarely to stop and kill the weakest targets, but to buy time (and potentially chip away at the health of) against bosses and high value targets. The obvious reasoning when it comes to stallers is that anyone that provides slow or shift is a staller, but they also include blockers. A blocker whose role is not strictly to block for a lane holder will typically be a staller. For example, stopping the advance of a nigh-unblockable war machine using Specter's Skill-Specter1.png Bone Fracture to tank the un-tankable is stalling. Mudrock's Skill-Mudrock3.png Bloodline of Desecrated Earth tends to fall within the same category provided the right conditions. In effect, Arknights, by virtue of its tower defense gameplay, is a DPS check: the player must output a certain amount of damage to certain targets within a certain timeframe, typically before they leak. This timeframe can be expanded, and therefore the amount of damage spread out. Alternatively, they may hold certain targets that get proportionally more threatening as they are damaged, and should thus be killed last, such as the Pursuer or Imperial Strikers.

Tank/bait

Not necessarily used for stall, but with strong enough overlap, tanks and bait Operators will ease pressure off typically weaker target: they may be an Executioner Specialist like Gravel taking instant death damage in place of another Operator, such as critical shots in Abandoned Factory, or blocking a boss that would severely damage a nearby melee Operator, just as they may be a self-healing Operator like Saria or Mountain baiting out enemy ranged damage that would kill another Operator.

Damage mitigation

Damage mitigation also includes the above tank and bait Operators, as damage baited away is damage not taken, but also Operators with healing capabilities. However, the need for healing allied Operators can easily be negated by properly understanding the aggro system and having damage baited out by Operators that can take it and can recover from it with some manner of self-healing, making Saria and Mudrock extremely strong Operators. If that fails, as maps will often not allow things to go this smoothly, Medics and Guardian Defenders are effectively the best, if not only ways to do so. It is worth mentioning that one does not need to heal if surviving the entire map without doing so is possible.

Utility

Utility providers is effectively a rather catch-all term, but typically includes Operators that are capable of buffing allies or debuffing enemies, as well as other useful abilities such as SP batteries. As content becomes more difficult, it becomes extremely hard to defeat certain bosses in a timely manner without them. Naturally, most of them are Supporters, but this is not a strict rule. A lot of operators from other classes provide buffing, debuffing, and other such forms of utility, such as Saria's Skill-Saria3.png Calcification or Elysium's Skill-Elysium1.png Monitor who focus on buffing Arts damage done and debuffing enemy Defense respectively.

Strategic redeployment

Strategic redeployment is a mechanic tutorialized by the game early on: it is understanding that sometimes, the player has to undeploy an Operator to free up space in the deployment limit, or to redeploy them somewhere else after their cooldown, or to end a skill early. A lot of late game content effectively requires strategic redeployment. The logical extreme of this mechanic is the reactive, or helidrop — deploying Operators as they become needed and often, undeploying them immediately afterwards — and 1P relay — self-imposed challenge wherein only a single Operator may be deployed at a time, with the exception of robots, as they do not count towards deployment limit — playstyles.

For example, without Ptilopsis, it tends to be beneficial to undeploy SilverAsh before/when his skill completes should his presence on the field no longer be necessary, as waiting out his skill's completion, then a complete cold SP charge would effectively take longer than waiting out his shortened redeployment timer (by virtue of his talent) and redeploying him in the same position with the initial deployment SP charge.

Advanced mechanics

Splitbox

Splitboxing is a semi-advanced mechanic wherein an Operator is deployed as a enemy is between two tiles in order to keep it blocked there, effectively "splitting" its hitbox between two tiles instead of one. It is possible as all Operators have some amount of shifting regardless of enemy weight upon their deployment that pushes enemies closer to the outer edge of their hitbox, and sometimes, overlapping two tiles.

Off-String Arrow

"Off-String Arrow" is an advanced technique that is available to Operators whose attacks have projectiles. Due to Arknights' damage calculation algorithm, most of the damage is calculated when the projectile hits the target, and some skills can reset the Operator's attack animations. Using this technique can effectively raise attack output, especially for low-ASPD skills like Schwarz's Skill-Schwarz3.png Final Tactics. When a skill is activated before an attack "lands" on the enemy, the attack will be updated to receive the effect of the skill regardless of when it was fired — which can help getting the absolute most out of skill uptime.

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