Arknights Cliffheart Guide

by Windgesang

Cliffheart, the other 5* free operator, due to lore reason. Her kit is fascinating with a couple of unique stuffs in it. Her strength is remarkable, capable of pulling heavy armored enemies for a decent distance. I made a post for Pramanix before, so this time I’m going to do her sister (uhh… phrasing). Welcome to this week’s “Operator’s highlight”, I’m kinda running low on people to write something about.

(If you’re seeing this line, that means I forgot to put a picture of Ghost Rider but with Cliffheart’s face here)


Cliffheart is a free 5* pull specialist that is capable of having a crowd-control and pure damage. She also has a kit that shines more than other puller’s due to that capability and a bigger reach for easier placement while still able to pull enemies. With that said, surprisingly, she has quite some high stats for a puller specialist.


– Offensive stats:

As mentioned Cliffheart has quite high stats for a puller/melle unit. Her ATK is actually one of the highest in game for melee, capable of rivaling even Guards, losing out to only non-Melantha Duelist Guards (who are meant to… duel), and Broca, without her talent below. Her attack rate is slightly slower though, at 1.8s per attack (whereas Duelist’s is 1.5s, and AoE Guard’s is 1.2s) so her DPS isn’t as high as them, not to mention she also doesn’t have any skill that increases her basic attack, only instant active skills.

– Defensive stats:

But as for survivability, clearly she cannot outpace Guards, aside from the lower rarity one. She has far lower HP, and is lower than Snowsant, who is her 5* puller counterpart. Her DEF is also lower than Snowsant’s, and is in the middle of the pack for Guard as well. However, her talent later can boost it to be slightly higher, push her to higher than some other Guard who doesn’t have DEF increasing talent/ability.

Due to her Trait (below), while her DEF may be average for a ground unit, it’s pretty damm high for a “ranged” unit, which means, as will be mentioned again in the Talent section, she’s a pretty good ranged unit to take some ranged physical attack and alleviate some pressure to your melee units.

– Cost:

Her cost is quite low, and strangely enough again, is equal to a 5* AA sniper, 11 at base, 13 at E1. To compare with Snowsant, who need 13 at base, 15 at E1, but is also free from an event to get full pot to reduce it to 10 or 12. Although, some people may miss that event, but Cliffheart is always available (maybe?).


Puller has quite a narrow range, just a straight 2 tiles in front of them, and 3 tiles at E1. The extra range allows them to pull from further away, essentially being more safe (you know, until they pull the enemy closer to them).

Cliffheart and other puller specialist’s range at E0 (left) and E1 (right)


Can Shift enemies using skills

Can be deployed on ranged tile.

With the 2nd trait, which is shared for all shift specialists, Cliffheart is one of the 5 melee units so far to be able to be deployed on ranged tile. This is so they can be place strategically to do the shifting, and they are also the only melee units that can be used in CA maps.


Karlan Hunter: ATK and DEF +6% when not blocking enemies. The % increases to 12% at E2.

This is why I said earlier that her DEF can actually outpace some Guards’ DEF, since they have nothing to boost their own. Funny enough, even with this talent at E2, she’d still lose out to Snowsant’s DEF at the same level, mainly because Snowsant has trust bonus that is defensive focused.

As for her ATK though, it can actually boost her ATK to the 2nd highest among all Guards (935.2 at max compare to Franka’s 935 at max) and lose out to only Skadi (because of course). And remember that she isn’t even a Guard.

The problem is, the talent only works when she isn’t blocking enemies, which means she’s near exclusively limited to ranged tile or some limited area. Her skill, spoiler alert, can pull enemies to her. Even if she’s behind someone else, if her skill pulls strong enough to reach her, she will be the one that block them. Of course it still wouldn’t happen all the time, and depends on who she pulls, but keep that in mind when positioning her to maximize this talent. However, you don’t have to keep it on all the time, since her base stats isn’t too terrible either.

Funny enough, because she has more DEF when not blocking enemies, she is better to tank ranged attack, but not melee attack. And the fact that she’s supposed to be an explorer and not a hunter, but whatever the whole SilverAsh family is broken in lore anyway psssh.

Anyway on to her skills.

First skill: Chain Hook

The first skill of a shift specialist is pretty generic, minus an effect or two. For Cliffheart, the next attack drags the enemy toward her with a pull force and deal arts damage. At level 7, it deals 135% magic damage and has a pull force of 1, for a cooldown of 5s (3.85s with E2 Ptilopsis).

Now, this is the first shift skill of this series, so we have a lot more to begin talking about.

First, the usual skill’s powerspike. Most skill has a powerspike at level 4, 7, and M3 (sometimes M1 too). The first skill of all shift specialist doesn’t quite fall into that. At level 7, the skill doesn’t gain much improvement, the shift force doesn’t change, and the cooldown only get reduced for pull skill. Which, Cliffheart is one, so it does drop from 6 to 5s at level 7. The skill’s main usage is to shift, however, so the pull force is usually more desired, which means level 4 would do just fine.

However, Cliffheart’s has a big privilege at M3, where she has only 4s cooldown, whereas everyone else is stuck at 5. M3 also increases the shift force by another 1 level, to 2, for all shifters. This is the staple of all shift booli memes, but if you want that, you’d already know what to do.

Then we have the shift force. In this game, all enemies have a weight value, and a shift force will shift them a certain distance corresponding to the difference to their weight value. For example, if the difference between the force and the weight is 1, i.e. the force is higher than the weight by 1 level, then the enemy is pushed for 2.066 tiles, over 0.918s. If the force is equal to weight, enemy is pushed 1.633 tiles over 0.816s. That’s for pushing, pulling has a different distance calculation.

Because of those, most people recommend to get shifters to skill level 4, to get the first force increases. The short cooldown with the relatively decent shift force makes it possible to reliably drop enemies down to pitfalls and holes (except for that one guy that drop to the hole himself). This stop working reliably for enemies with weight level of 2, since the distance is short, and stop working entirely for enemies with weight level of 3, unless you have someone to block on top of them. They won’t even budge at weight level 4, because 1-4 = -3 which no longer shift.

But that’s for pushing/pulling enemies down a hole, another thing shift force can do is to cancel enemies’ attack animation. When shifted, enemies are “flinched” for its duration which effectively cancel their attack animation, this also works for ranged enemies, and it also works for the Sarkaz caster that bind your operators. This no longer works when the difference between push force and weight is -3, where they won’t even budge.

As for Cliffheart’s skill herself, it’s pretty generic, except that it deals magic damage, which is not her default damage type of physical. It may helps killing armored enemies even without a hole to pull into. Also remember that Cliffheart’s base ATK is pretty damm high as well. As mentioned before, at M3 this skill is the only one of its family to get another cooldown reduction, to 4s, whereas other is still 5s, which means it proc more frequently and deal more damage over time.

Anyway, the thing that separate an operator from the others in their archetype is usually in their second skill, which for Cliffheart, is a doozy one.

Second skill: Binding Chain

This is what separate Cliffheart from the rest of the puller specialists, or even pusher one. She targets 2 enemies in an area in front of her and drags them toward, like usual puller stuff, but the dragged enemies take pure damage and are stunned for a duration after being pulled. At level 7, she targets 2 enemies in a 3×3 area in front of her, deal 170% of her ATK as pure damage, and stuns them for 1.5 seconds, for a cooldown of 19s (14.61s with…), but also an initial SP of 10, and a pull force of 1.

Cliffheart’s second skill’s range

Now this is one heck of a skill. First is the area of pulling, Cliffheart is the only one (so far) to be able to shift anything that is not directly in front of her, that alone allows her to have an easier time finding snipe location, or like Executor, dealing with 2 lanes at once that is split by 1 tile-width of high ground. Although, if you do that, her basic attack will probably won’t be of use most of the time, which is a shame because as mentioned in the stats section, she has quite a high ATK.

Speaking of high ATK, that’s even better because her skill deals a (somewhat) high % of her ATK as pure damage, so the damage is pretty damm stronk. The % multiplier also works perfectly with ATK buffer, which makes the pure damage more discustang. And since it is pure damage, so enemies’ defensive or resistance stats doesn’t even matter. This skill is one of the few sources of pure damage in this game, which set her apart from a lot of operators, not just shift specialists.

Furthermore, the skill also provides a stun, which is also good all on its own, and set Cliffheart apart from other shifters again. The best part is that, the skill pulls, and then stuns the enemies. Which means the actual stun duration varies depends on the enemies’ weight, because enemies being pulled is also considered stun, and the pull duration also varies depends on weight level.

The 2 corners of this skill is also only reachable by this skill itself and later on Thorns with S3. This may or may not be important, but it allows a reach capability that no other melee unit can’t.

Those sounds amazing already right? But wait, there’s more. Like Amiya, who’s also a free operator, Cliffheart has a third skill. Let’s see what it can do.

Third skill: Binding Chains… but at mastery 3

Okay that was just a lead up to a joke lol. Cliffheart doesn’t actually have a third skill.

But it’s true, this skill gains amazing boni at M3 compared to at Level 7. The very first step is at M1 though, where she pulls 3 enemies instead of 2. That’s an additional enemy to be stunned, and more chance to deal damage. The damage itself is also improved at M3, to 200% of Cliff’s ATK as pure damage, which is pretty dope itself .

The stun duration also increases, and it goes double at M3, with 3 seconds stun. Which is huge, due to multiples of reasons. First, her range, she can drag enemies in a quite wide area, which means more coverage. Second, the true damage, she can pull dangerous threat, deal huge damage (due to her ATK stat) to them regardless of defensive stats, and then render them useless for 3 whole seconds, allows your melee operators to be safe while giving more time for other to mow them down. Third, the fact that the skill also pulls, just like pushers, the skill can be used to prevent enemies from reaching your melee line. Obviously you need to position Cliffheart backward or at least sideways in order to pull the enemies away from your defensive line, but it also means that it helps reducing the threats even more.

Here’s a quick summary, the wide range means she has more cover for your melee units, true damage + stun to reduce enemies’ threat and helps eliminate them, and a pull force to pull enemies away from them, which does even better with her pull range with some setup.

One more thing that helps with the pulling at M3 is that, just like the first skill, the pull force is also increased by 1 level, which raise that up to 2, and can now pull those dangerous threats mentioned earlier much better and longer.

The last thing is the cooldown, at M3 it drops to 15s (11.53s with…). That’s a really high stun uptime of 20%. Other notable “AoE” stun abilities:

Texas with 3s every 40s, that’s 7.5%, (disclaimer, Texas stun twice for 3s, which means it can actually go to like 4s stun since the 2 stun instances is separated, still a terrible uptime though)

Mostima with 7s stun every 42.7s, which is 16.39%,

Red with 3s every 18s for 16.66%,

Phantom with 4.5s every 18s gives 25%, but it’s only 33% of the time,

W with either 3s every 16s, 2.2s every 9-10ish secs, or 5s every 33s, for 18.75%, 24.44%, 15.15% of uptime.

Anyway there’s more, but that’s just to show that it’s a strong uptime for an “AoE” stun ability. You may face more than 3 enemies at some point, but I doubt you’ll ever face more than 3 extremely dangerous enemies that you would need the stun and pure damage except for maybe CC. Another amazing part from this low cooldown is the fact that, it’s ready after just 5s of deployment. That’s more amazing than it sounds, though it’s not like Cliffheart’s redeploy time is low enough to make that matter. What it does matter is when she first deployed and can kickstart the skill, but the skill cooldown is also lower than its level 7 counterpart, which means you get to use the strong effect of this skill much more often, with the immediate helidrop potential being a bonus to accelerate the process. And did I mentioned it deals pure damage? None of the AoE stun listed above does that.

Some miscellaneous stuffs:

Speaking of her pulling, if the pull force is strong enough, she will pull the enemies straight toward her. There are 2 implications for that. One, if she’s on the ground, that’s an automatic deactivation of her talent, regardless if there’s an operator in front of her or not. This obviously doesn’t apply if the pulled enemies are stuck around a corner or something, since her S2 pull range is a bit wide, which means it isn’t a straight pull. Anyway, just a reminder that even though her talent deactivates, the damage of the pull still accounts for that, since it deals damage on contact, assuming she haven’t blocked anyone at that point yet. The other is the whole shenanigan that people coined with the term “splitboxing”. If she pulls an enemy directly toward her, that one is considered on the tile that she occupies as well, which means an ally with a range that end on her tile itself can start attacking, whereas enemies that are being blocked just by walking head to head wouldn’t be target by those allies. Which means you can have a Guard/Vanguard with 1 range ahead of themselves, to stand behind her and contribute attacking if they get pulled. However, since Cliffheart has a longer range most of the time (equal-ish range to ranged guards), and has a talent that only works when not blocking, it’s still better to let her stay behind someone else.

In fact, the stats comparison way back in the beginning of the post make it easy to compare her to a ranged guard but without the 80% damage restriction that they have. Of course she can’t attack enemies directly from her side unless she’s blocking them, but as a trade off she has true damage and stun, which no other ranged guard have. (I mean it’s not like she’s the only guard that can deal with high def enemies but still).

Speaking of blocking from the side, due to her S2 pull range being strictly in front of her and on her own tile, she cannot pull anyone that approached her from the side or behind, so be careful of that. This is because her S2 pulls as a skill and not as an attack, it won’t target the one outside its range, which enemies who are blocked from the side or behind doesn’t count as inside the range.

Added (thanks to Boelthor), because her S2 drags multiple units, it is possible to drag a setup of a strong tanky enemy couple with a ranged enemy walking slowly behind (think Anni 3 or like a few Chap 5/6 map), Cliff can drag both, and since the ranged enemies tends to be lighter than the tank, they will be drag forward, even toward Cliff’s spot itself, which make for an easy beating, especially because it also stuns, which make that ranged enemy unable to fight back. You can do this with other puller’s S2 that also pull multiple enemies, but the stuns from Cliff prevent that ranged enemy from fighting back, as well as prevent the tank from keep advancing.

Unlike pushers, pullers can freely target flying units. They still cannot pull those units, but the unit will be “stunned” for the pull duration like it was normally for other units, the drones just get binded in place. For Cliffheart, it is “stunned” in place for the pull duration, and then stunned more for the duration of her S2.

One small thing I kinda hate is how long it takes for her S2 to actually hit. She needs to swing her chains a couple rounds and then throws it out, and the chain speed isn’t stellar either. It makes timing for my 4-4 CM special challenge a bit harder than usual (more flex rofl). I mean, just look at this. (note that you can actually pull them away/into the destination, as long as they’re still stunned/disabled, and the pulling/pushing process considered as “stun”).

That was a bit longer than it should be for a shift specialist, wasn’t it? Cliffheart is known to surpass other shift specialists when it comes to utilities that isn’t mainly shifting. The stun, pure damage, and relatively low cooldown carried the arguments. That’s not to say that the other doesn’t contribute better, FEater still have an advantage when it comes to holding a lane and stall, since her talents and her pushes will be easier for stopping enemies than pulling and/or stun. However, when it comes to killing enemies, Cliffheart sure does it best among them, with her talent that increases ATK, skills that deal relatively high multiplier, and dealing pure damage.

That should be the more notable details about Cliffheart. I made one for the other sister already, so now we’re completed for the family…ish. As established, Cliffheart outshines other shift specialists for utilities that is outside of shifting (FEater is strong for holding lane with both push and talent, but not much else) with the high offensive stats, stun, and pure damage. Which means that she can also be used even in maps where there is no pitfall to drop enemies down. As menioned so many times during this post, it is also one of the few pure damage sources in this game, the others being Nightmare S2, Amiya S3, Weedy’s S3, and maybe Franka’s talent.

What about your thoughts on her? She’s quite amazing but is it enough to replace a different operator, especially other guards? I certainly use her normally quite often and not just for pitfalls, but operator slot getting really tight already cuz I have too many favorite units for gameplay xD. Well, all units are interesting, but some are more interesting than others.

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