Arknights Aak Guide
So you got Aak instead of Nian, and you now have sunk cost fallacy. You believe that he can only kill his own allies, so you think he’s only for memes. His medical skill is so potent that he can cure anyone as long as they’re breathing, except in gameplay. But he has so much more than just durian-flavored drugs, he also has strawberry-flavored one (just not in-game). Let’s see what more he can achieve.
Welcome to this week’s “Underrated Operator Highlight”, I don’t know what that intro was either, but it’s been a while since I used the series’ title.
Operator quote: \”You have the right to operate outside his support range\”
The first of his kind makes an appearance in the game (the first ranged specialist, the first to directly attack ally, the first of his trait…). Unfortunately gain a bad rap of being a meme specialist just due to his wonky nature and people just write off buffer. Two-third of his abilities can end up killing your own operators without careful usage (just like real drugs!!), so he got brushed off without further thoughts. So what can he do if not for that? He has solid damage, for one, and decent crowd control for another. Each of his skills is drastically different from the rest and knowing how to use them is as hard as acknowledging that Skadi is a good operator (ok too much shade throwing now, I’ll stop). Any operator, if survives his buffs, will have massive boost in their performance.
– Offensive stats:
Since he’s the first of his kind, there’s no one else of the same type to do a comparison like I did with Platinum. So I’ll probably just throw some general talks. Aak has one of the highest base ATK for Single Target (ST) ranged unit, losing only to the close-range snipers, wide-range snipers, Rosa, and Ceobe. His attack rate, however, outpace those mentioned earlier, needing only 1.3s per attack. In fact, it’s the 2nd fastest attack speed for all ranged unit, losing only to AA snipers (1s), and tying with Click (future operator).
– Defensive stats:
Surprisingly, Aak has the highest HP out of all ranged unit. He has 4 more than Executor at max level, who is known to be extremely tanky for a ranged unit. Although, as you can see that’s like 4 HP more lmao, so it’s not that much. His DEF stat is actually pretty low in comparison, still higher than most, but nothing notable with 152 at max. Aak also has a base RES of 10, this is actually huge, as only casters and supporters has any RES for a ranged unit (I know BP exists but shhh). 10% magic reduction doesn’t sound like much, but in the grand scheme of things, in combination with his high HP, his talent that heal % max HP for 25% of the time
(or under heavy pressure, 0% of the time according to my experiences) and his other talent that increase his healing by 20%, he’s a decent ranged unit to tank some extra damage, assuming a healer is nearby. Executor is still more tanky overall, of course, but Aak is not too far away. Oh, but there’s something else later that will heavily mess with his survivability, so let’s not get too excited with his defensive stats.
He has a surprisingly low cost for a 6* unit, only 11 at E0 and 13 at E1. It’s basically the same as a 5* AA sniper.
The comparison to a 5* AA sniper is actually more on point than just the cost. His range is also the same as them, at E0 and E1 alike.
classic AA sniper range
However, he does NOT prioritize aerial unit. His target priority is as standard as it gets. His real trait is that he loses 3% of his max HP every second. Most likely because he’s bored to death. This is why the defensive stats he possesses earlier isn’t as nice as it seems, though I’m not sure if it’s that’s nice to begin with. This trait forces you to either, put Aak in a position to constantly attacking to proc his own talent heal, or to always babysit him with a healer, which I believe should always be the case for most ranged unit (not full-time babysitting, just to always be in range of a healer).
There are 2 operators in this game who, when heal someone, they give that healed someone 1 SP. It’s a guaranteed SP granted if they’re the only one healing him, which is possible, especially counting his talent below.
Always available: Drug Cocktail Administration: Every landed attack will trigger one of the four effects at E0/E1/E2:
- Restore HP by 13%/14%/18% of his max HP.
→ It’s actually 15% of his max HP at E2, but his talent below affects it as well, so here we are with 18%.
- Deal 130%/140%/150% damage.
→ The damage boost stacks multiplicative of any attack buffs, either from himself or other, basically like Kroos’ or Schwarz’s talent.
- Slows the enemy for 1.0s/1.2s/1.4s.
→ The slow is the same as the typical supporter’s slow, 80%. It also means that they don’t stack together, only applies the highest duration.
- Stuns the enemy for 0.6s/0.8s/1.0s.
This talent allows Aak to do sooo many things, albeit a bit RNG-reliant. He can now self-sustain, even against some light damage by enemies, deals strong damage due to the critical shot, and crowd-control with the last 2 effects. He can be actually pretty good against ranged enemies returning fire, as he can either, outheal the damage…ish, or stun and prevent them from attacking, or kill them faster, all in conjunction with his defensive stats.
Despite the fact that he can do anything, he can’t do each of those roles perfectly (you can even argue that he can only do those roles averagely), again due to the RNG nature, as well as the fact that he doesn’t prioritize anything, so he can’t perfectly replace AA sniper as well. What we have is the classic jack of all trades, master of none. Is he better than a master of one? Depends on the maps, of course. You can also argue that the fact he can fill so many roles that he will fit to your squad regardless of lineup, and it’s also perfectly fine to keep replace him for a more specialized operator for every map, depends on how specific your line up is.
The chance of trigger each effect should be 25% each. I kinda don’t want to do a full test observation because my sanity is already low enough. It is however, dependant on RNG-roll of the game, which if determined beforehand, can be controlled. More detailed about that here, but it’s not important to this post overall.
Available at E2: Pharmaceutical Diffusion: Increase healing effect Aak receive by 20%.
This applies for his talent as well as any healing from medic. The only thing it shouldn’t work is with regen ability like Sora, Perfumer, or Angelina, as they aren’t counted as healing to be boosted by Nearl. If Nearl couldn’t boost them, it shouldn’t work for Aak’s 2nd talent as well.
Fun fact: Aak at E2, with this talent, receive exactly 500 HP from Ceylon at E2 lv1 full trust at close range.
– RIIC skills:
Always available: Neuroticism: When Aak is in the Control Center, increases the chance for the operator(s) that is/are in the Reception Room to find clues from their own faction, but at the same time, greatly increases the morale consumption of the operators that are in the Control Center.
This is the first base skill of its kind in the game as well. The morale consumption increase should be about 0.5, or to say, the rate become 1.5/h reduction, before all the other Control Center skills that reduce the morale consumption. So in total, with Aak and 4 other person that has the Control Center morale skill, it should reduce back again to 1.5 – 0.25 – 0.2 = 1.05 morales/h.
As for the clue search rate increases……………I don’t know, no one does. It’s never confirmed whether or not any operators found a little bit more clue of their own faction, but at the very least, Aak will boost it, also by an unconfirmed amount. So, if you’re missing clue 4, put any operator that is from Ursus is enough for Aak to start boosting (though, if the operators lack clue search skill, they will find them slightly slower).
A quick clue search speed formula is presented here by Gamepress.
Available at E2: Surgical Precision: Increases the mastery training speed of Medics by 60%.
This is the highest basic training speed of the game, available to only a few operators. Aak is also the first of his kind (again!) to increase the training speed of a class that is not his own class, Medics, while Aak himself is Specialist. This is of course due to his lore being an… unorthodox doctor, while his gameplay leans more into not-medic stuffs.
Now, onto his dreaded kit of friendly fire, but first…
First skill: Rapid Fire
True to its name, the skill make Aak shoots faster. This skill gives a basic attack speed buff to himself for a duration, from +30 up to +100. At level 7, this skill gives 70 ATK SPD and lasts for 26s, for a cooldown of 30s (23.07s with E2 Ptilopsis), with an initial SP of 17.
His new attack rate with this skill would be 1/((170/1.3)/100) = 0.765 second per attack. Obviously he will attacc 70% faster than usual, but that also means he can trigger his talent much more often, which means he can do his role better (except for buffing of course). More crowd control, more self-sustain…
If you want to push this further, at M3, this skill gives +100 ATK SPD, still the same cooldown, but an initial SP of 20, which means it starts after 10s of deployment (7.7s with E2…). It’s pretty amazing for maps with very fast start. It’s not too important most of time, since the cooldown doesn’t change with masteries, and the increase in ATK SPD in comparison isn’t huge.
This skill is the best to fall back to since it enhances his role independently, regardless of ally. It put an emphasis on his strength that isn’t buffing, which is what people tends to assume he is.
Second skill: Type-γ Stimpack
This is the first of his reputation as a team killer. When use, immediately attacks an ally within range (prioritize unit directly in front of him) for 15 times, with 500 physical damage each. Then increases Max HP and DEF of the attacked unit and himself for 30%, up to 80%, for a duration. At level 7, this skill hit the ally for 15 times with 500 physical damage each, and increases max HP and DEF for 50% for 30 seconds, with a cooldown of 34s (26.16s with…) and an initial SP of 22. At M3, this skill grants 80% max HP and DEF, and for only 30s cooldown, and 25 initial SP, with duration unchange.
So there we see the reason for his reputation, 15 times 500 damage is 7500 total damage. You need an ally with up to 7500 effective total HP in order to survive the buff. Because the damage is physical, DEF stat of the ally will reduce it. The 500 damage is still subjected to the minimum calculation, which always deal 5% even if the DEF is higher, which translate to a minimum of 25 damage each for 15 times. An ally needs a minimum of 375 current HP in order to survive it, which thankfully, no one in this game has HP that low, am I right Haze? However, in order to “need” the minimum HP to survive, they need a maximum of 475 DEF (500-25, because any higher DEF no longer matter), which not all have that much. Fun fact: Cardigan at E1 Lv55 has exactly 475 DEF.
These 15 attacks are also near instantaneous, lasting about 0.25s. Most medic actually has a longer windup time to heal, so the only possible time that a medic can heal in-between the attack is if they already decided to heal that unit before the skill. And despite saying the time for the attack is only 0.25s, the actual time from clicking the skill to the time the buff kicks in is near a second.
This post did the math for the assistance and stats required to survive this buff, translated by Kamil118.
You can check to see if your favorite operator can survive him or not, or I guess you can always do the math yourself. The post does miss some small details as mentioned in the comments, but overall pretty good. Although, the post assumes pot5 Shining, which I doubt most people have. You can also use Myrrh and Lancet’s instant heal talent to give some heals during the 15 hits barrage, which should be doable with pause-bullet time trick (thanks Boelthor for the info).
Now let’s talk about the effects. This buff is full defensive, giving a % to max HP and DEF, which means the higher the ally’s base stat, the better those stats become. And who would you most likely to give HP and DEF buffs to?
Haze of course Defenders or Guards, because they are the one who would use such stats the most to hold a lane, most notably Defenders. And they tend to have the stat to actually survive the drug overdose as well.
The thing that most people tends to forget is that, Aak himself also receives this buff, with no downside at all. As a result, Aak is now also tankier, which also means that he can actually do a bit of tanking himself (again in combination with his talents). And, if you count his initial SP, he can do helidrop with it (especially at M3), and since he will be recently deployed, ranged enemies would prioritize him, which he can survive with the buff, and then the defender he targeted would also brush off pressure easier (well, assuming they can survive the initial burst). It’s a decent technique to counter an incoming pressure, but not necessary to reduce current pressure, as that would mean Aak is joining in the damage to your defender, which may get iffy at times.
There’s more to this buff’s quirk, but before I talk more about that, let me go in to his final skill, which is unlocked at E2, and is somewhat similar to this skill.
Third skill: Durian-Flavored Stimpack
The first 6* of this series introduces the first third skill as well. But this skill is a bit similar to the last one. It also attacks an ally 15 times for 500 physical damage (which also prioritize ally directly in front of Aak). However, instead of giving defensive buffs, this skill gives full offensive buffs. At level 7, this skill gives +35% ATK and 35 ATK SPD to the attacked ally and himself, lasts for 20s, for a cooldown of 41s (31.54s…) with an initial SP of 27. If you want to push this further, at M3, this skill gives 50% ATK and 50 ATK SPD for a reduced cooldown of 35s, but an initial SP of 30. So in the same vein as last skill, M3 this skill allows for a helidrop usage with only 5s after deployed.
Now let’s continue the talks about these 2 skills and all of its quirks.
First, the target priority. It says prioritize ally directly in front of Aak, but in what order? This post by KeyCog tested the full prioritization within his range. Here’s the short summary, in order of priority:
- Unit directly in front of him (the 3 middle tiles), if someone is directly in front of him, but at the other side of the edge, and someone else is just right next to him on the side, the one in front still get shafted, even if they are further.
– Bison’s S2 cannot draw aggro from Aak away from the unit in front of Aak, unless Bison himself is also part of the 3 tiles that is in front of him, in which case, it doesn’t matter which distance Bison is compare to the other allies. Manticore/Ethan also does not get targeted, even if they are directly in front of him, as long as there’s someone else in the line.
- If there’s no unit directly in front of him → Unit closest to him, but not to the front.
– Bison cannot draw priority if he is further away, and Manticore/Ethan cannot reduce the priority if they are still the closest to him.
- If there’s 2 units closest to him → Unit last deployed, just like a normal enemy target priority.
– If he has the same target priority, and can attack your operators, and Bison’s S2 stated that it “increases the likelihood of being targeted by enemies’ attack”, does that mean he is an ENEMY???? Anyway, in this case, Manticore/Ethan can reduce the priority if they are deployed last, but someone else is in the same distance. Bison can also draw the priority to himself for another one in the same distance to Aak.
Also, the skill needs a
sacrifice target in order to activate. Aak is so sadist that he cannot use his S2 and 3 without an ally in his range, despite he himself always get the benefit of this skill. A small strat I actually like to do is to bring with me a Fast-Redeploy unit in order to quickly draw fire (a role that Fast-Redeploy tends to be used) to quickly trigger the buff on himself, you can activate the skill and instantly withdraw the targeted unit and still have the buff on Aak (in fact, it instantly triggers the buff), he just need to have a target to begin the process. Although, his skill 1 is certainly less work, even if you need a Fast-redeploy for a map, since you may need them for something else.
Like Warfarin’s buff, the buff is independent for the ally and for Aak. However, unlike Warfarin’s buff, this skill has a duration, which means in order to charge SP for the next use, the buff needs to run out first. The cooldown is kinda low-ish to compensate though.
The 15 hits actually count as an attack, which benefits allies with Defensive recovery skills. Many people pointed out a certain operator already, and she works the best with him for that role, but there’s more operators with defensive recovery skill that also benefit from his buffs as well, both the defensive S2 and the offensive S3, also mainly because people with defensive recovery skill tends to be Defender, who has the stats to survive the abuse.
His S3 certainly boost an operator’s offensive performance by more than double. The attack speed in conjunction with the increase in ATK result so much more. The total increase in DPS is such an amazing lure that people tends to forget about the rest of his ability. Combine with the fact that most ranged unit has strong DPS to utilize such buffs, and the fact that ranged unit tends to be weak, which requires hardcore babysit to survive the buff, plus the current view of most people regarding buffer, his reputation just plummeted from an all-round specialist to a meme, because they think they need to use it on a weak ranged unit to get a strong DPS. However, it is not a must, many ground units who are tankier can also take advantage of those buffs for a much easier setup. Bottom line is, you do not have to use this buff for ranged unit, which is where the meme™ came from. Giving this buff to a strong guard require much less setup than a ranged unit, no reason to tie yourself down to that meme mindset, plus it’s Guardknights so people would probably have some readied.
As for the effect of this skill, per usual, the ATK buff stack additively with other ATK buff (Warfarin, Sora, any possible ally buffing talents…). The one unique thing is the ATK SPD buff, which is the highest in the game, and is also one of the few ATK SPD buff in the game. The only others being Angelina with a meager 7 ATK SPD (or 8 if you’re lucky/whale enough) for everyone, and Silence with 12 (or 14) but exclusively for Medics. Again, there is a prerequisite in order to receive this huge attack speed rate (and the ATK buff as well), so maybe Angelina is a decent compromise, plus it’s on all allies and not just one.
Also, because the skill also buff ATK SPD, it’s better for allies who do basic attacks (or attacks enhanced by skills) rather than allies with instant active skill, unless said ally’s skill is an offensive recovery type. The best skills would probably be the Power Strike skills, since the % multiplier calculates the ATK buff as well and the increases attack rate increases the activation rate, and well, a certain Real Argent Slice I guess.
Also also, one thing that’s not talk about much (mainly because there’s little ATK SPD buff), is that this ATK SPD buff also affect Healing Defenders with a “healing mode” skill, since they heal with an “attack interval”. Couple with the fact that the 15 hits count as attacks, a certain healing defender with a defensive recovery skill can be nearly instantly activated, and then the healing will occur at an accelerated interval, AND the healing is also more potent because the heal is based on ATK. It’s quite a decent combo, gameplay and lore wise.
Both skills at M3 need only 5 seconds max to be ready after deployed, so as mentioned, it works pretty nicely as a helidrop option. The buff is independent as mentioned, so Aak and leave afterward for space for others, basically you can deploy Aak → wait max 5s →
kill buff the ally → retreat Aak, the same way I do with Warfarin sometime (when I don’t really need Warfarin but also need a deploy slot for a Fast Redeploy).
One more thing about the 15 attacks though, it still can be dodged, but cannot be untargeted. Manticore, Ethan, or anyone with a physical evasion ability can still dodge some hits out of 15, which massively helps with the requirement to take the drugs. But invisible ally cannot just dodge the selection like they “evaded” enemies’ attack with the invisible. Since this invisible only deny “enemy” attack, Aak bypass it with his skills (which means he isn’t an enemy :sadface:) so Manticore and Firewatch cannot escape their fate with their invisibility.
As I said earlier, I found Aak has a bit of everything, but is slightly weak at each of it. He has a stun or a slow (crowd control), a crit (high damage per shot), a self heal (self-sustain), skill 1 increase ATK SPD (burst damage), skill 2 increases defensive stats for a (limited) ally and self (defensive buff), skill 3 increases damage and attack speed for a (limited) ally and self (offensive buff), and a way to eliminate event operator that stands on an important tile. The only important part is how to actually use it at the correct time, as 4 of them is random, and 2 of them is devastating to an unprepared ally.
That should be all I can think of so far for Aak. I certainly enjoy using him, he brought more enjoyment to this game in a different way, either with buff or without buff (I legit cannot do that without Aak S1M3 and a good early RNG roll). If you decide to use his buffs, you have to be careful of who you put in front of him. Unlike Warfarin who you kinda have to either pray, or massively rework the people in her range to utilize the buff properly, but for Aak, the prioritization is really simple, only with a “small” trade off. Aiming a buff at an ally is all of a sudden, super easy, barely an inconvenience.
Have you seen his operator quote? Pretty on point right? Anyway, what do you think about Aak? Will this post change your opinion about the
unjustified meme, or is it just better to bring a different operator that isn’t dying constantly and no RNG talent, assuming you have him ofc. His kit is undeniably interesting for sure, regardless if it’s good or bad.