Arknights Estelle Guide

by Boelthor

Estelle’s birthday is today, and what better way to celebrate than by encouraging other people to raise her? I can’t claim to be unbiased–my Estelle signed on within a week of the game’s launch, was among both my earliest e2s and my earliest m3s, and is one of the few operators who I’ve raised to max level. But this also means I have an abundance of experience with her, as she’s been part of my team for everything except the first few story chapters. I consider her to be one of the best 4*, in fact; she just doesn’t get noticed because while a lot of the other best 4* stand out due to uniqueness (like Myrtle, Gravel, Jaye, Utage, and Ethan), Estelle is generally in the shadow of Blaze and Specter. That’s not much of a strike against her though, as Blaze and Specter are some of the best units of their respective rarities as well.

Basic information

Estelle is a 4* AoE Guard, which means her attacks hit a number of enemies equal to her block count (2 at e0 and e1, 3 at e2). She has above-average Attack with only a 1.2 second attack interval, and the standard 1×2 range of AoE Guards. This gives her above-average dps even by single-target standards and great dps by AoE standards. She also has high HP and slightly below-average Defense, giving her above-average bulk. She costs 20 DP at pot6 (22 at pot1), and as mentioned before she blocks 3. Note that Estelle differs from most other AoE Guards in that her stats from trust and potential all go into HP rather than Attack; she doesn’t hit as hard as they do but can take hits better, and her talent scales with her max HP.

Trait: Attacks all blocked enemies

This trait is outright wrong; it means “attacks a number of enemies equal to her block count”, regardless of whether she (or anyone else) is blocking them. This isn’t a translation error though, as the original Chinese is just as misleading.

Before moving on, I need to stress the fact that simply being an AoE Guard is an important part of what makes Estelle so good. AoE Guards are inherently one of the best archetypes in the game by stats/trait alone; while other AoE archetypes (AoE Casters and AoE Snipers) pay for their AoE by having low single-target dps, AoE Guards are balanced closer to single-target operators despite being AoE, giving them an extremely high potential damage output. Furthermore, because they can block 3 they’re also reasonably bulky so they can survive blocking 3 enemies at once. This already gives Estelle a very solid foundation, and the rest of her kit just builds on top of it.

Talent: Self-Healing

When an enemy dies within a 3×3 square centered on Estelle, she is healed for 14% of her max HP (12% before pot5). This applies to all deaths in range, whether or not Estelle kills them herself–even drones heal her if they die in range. This talent is one of Estelle’s defining features, actively rewarding her for performing the basic role of an AoE Guard with sizeable chunks of healing (for perspective, a single proc of this talent is about the same HP recovery as a single heal from Silence). Thanks to this most cannon fodder enemies are a net HP gain, and because she’s AoE she can kill those cannon fodder for heals even if she’s busy fighting something more dangerous. In a lot of situations this talent alone is all the healing she needs, but if it’s not then don’t forget she can still be healed by others. Why doesn’t Flamebringer’s talent work like this HG?

First skill: ATK Up beta

At m3{m0} ATK Up beta has 10{5} initial SP, costs 35{37} SP, recovers SP over time, lasts 25 seconds, and is manually activated. It gives Estelle +80%{+50%} Attack. Hardly an inspiring skill and not one I’ve found much use for, but it still has some merits. The biggest one is that while s2 charges by getting hit s1 charges over time, so if there’s going to be a lot of downtime between waves s1 may be more suitable. It also has a longer duration and doesn’t interfere with external healing like s2 does.

Second skill: Sacrificial Strike

At m3{m0} Sacrificial Strike has 10 initial SP, costs 20{23} SP, recovers SP by getting hit, lasts 15 seconds, and is manually activated. It gives Estelle +150%{+115%} Attack and prevents her from being healed by outside sources; her own talent still works, and regen-based healing bypasses this (Perfumer’s talent, Angelina’s talent, Sora’s trait, Suzuran’s s3, Tsukinogi’s s2, Blemishine’s s2, and healing tiles).

  • Given the rarity of defense-charging skills you might not be familiar with them outside of Liskarm+brawler memes, so I’ll talk about the mechanism itself for a bit. The important thing is that this skill gains SP every time Estelle is hit, and more enemies=more hits=more SP. Given that Estelle blocks 3 she can have up to 3 melee enemies attacking her at once, in which case this skill charges fast. While it does charge more slowly with fewer enemies, fewer enemies also means you don’t need the skill as much to begin with. But much like her talent, this skill rewards her for simple doing her job, fighting groups of enemies. They also feed off of each other: more enemies means she gets hit more and takes more damage, but charges her skill faster so she can kill enemies faster to take less damage and heal herself sooner.
  • Now, on to the Attack boost. +150% Attack is huge by 4* standards; the only 4* skills with a higher dps increase are Haze s2 (which cuts her HP down to 1/4th so she dies if anything grazes her), Arene s1 (split across two hits so it doesn’t do so well against armor), and Aciddrop s2 (also split across two hits so it doesn’t do so well against armor); it’s no slouch by 5* standards either–Specter herself gets +160%, though her base Attack is higher. But while Haze/Arene/Aciddrop have such big buffs in part to compensate for average base dps, Estelle’s massive Attack boost is on top of already good dps thanks to her archetype. And this Attack boost is high enough that she can easily (and literally) punch through armor, letting her take down enemies that might otherwise give her trouble.
  • As for this skill’s downside, it’s usually not too harsh, though it can sometimes be a problem. Estelle still has her talent, and with the massive Attack boost she’ll be activating it more quickly. And one of her pros is that with her talent she can often be used in positions with no external healing in the first place, which renders the downside moot. But if she is being healed it’s a fairly short duration skill, so she won’t have to hold out too long on her own.

I consider this skill relatively high priority for m3; while it doesn’t need it the increase Attack is substantial and helps keep her healed up, plus it’s cheap since she’s a 4*.

Usage

Now, on to the practical advice on how to fit Estelle into your strategy.

Lane Tank

One of the main things that sets Estelle apart from her fellow AoE Guards is that while they are good at dealing with large numbers of enemies, Estelle prefers large numbers of enemies thanks to her talent/s2. You can simply use Estelle as your blocker for whatever major lane and she’ll provide 3 block to prevent leaks, a high damage output, and good bulk with excellent self-healing. She’ll easily filter out all the cannon fodder, leaving everyone else to focus on the major enemies (who Estelle can still help against thanks to her AoE and s2’s raw strength). Estelle does particularly well in situations with parallel lanes; all AoE Guards like this kind of setup because their AoE lets them help dps in both lanes simultaneously, but Estelle also gets to heal from deaths in either lane.

Soloing/Early DPS

I mentioned above that Estelle’s talent is often all the healing she needs, and she certainly has the block count and the damage to hold her own. If a lane has enough small fry for her to recover HP/SP relative to the actually dangerous enemies, she can easily handle it by herself. A closely related role is as a Vanguard replacement; at pot6 Estelle costs 20 DP, which is not exactly cheap this is still affordable at the start of a surprising number of stages (especially if you run Myrtle). Once you do place her down she can hold a lane on her own for more than long enough to get the rest of your operators out, and she’ll keep holding (or helping to hold) that lane until the end of the stage.

Integrated Strategies (spoiler tags since this is future content)

Also known as roguelike or Fungimist (Integrated Strategies is the game mode, Fungimist is the specific event; IS: Fungimist is like CC: Blade), IS gives you a semirandom selection of operators: classes are random, but you can choose operators freely within a class; however, higher rarity operators need more of a gamemode-specific resource called “hope”. Also, the first time you unlock an operator in that mode their level is capped at e1 max (unless your operator is lower level); they must be purchased a second time (at a discount) to have that cap removed. Due to the operators you have access to being semirandom the gamemode strongly favors self-reliant operators and/or those who fill multiple roles, and powerful low rarity operators are valuable to conserve hope for higher rarity operators. Even at e1 Estelle still has self-healing and a good damage output, making her an extremely economical operator for IS. The one catch is that she is a Guard, and there’s no shortage of good Guards when IS allows you to purchase one.

What about Specter and Blaze?

Estelle being strong is one thing, but given the strength of other members of her archetype there’s still the question of whether she’s worth it if you already have Specter/Blaze or plan to get them at some point. Luckily, here I can claim to be unbiased, as Specter and Blaze are also among my favorite operators; I’ve had them for a long time as well, buying Specter during the first run of Grani and the Knight’s Treasure and pulling Blaze the day she arrived on EN.

  • First, the easy comparison: Estelle vs Blaze. Obviously Blaze has her extended range, high sustained Attack (my Estelle has 1725 Attack during s2m3 while my Blaze has 1650 Attack during her s2m3) and increased Defense, giving her better offense and making her better at tanking individual enemies. Blaze also gets to cheat death once and has [Resist] thanks to her talents, making her even more durable. One of Estelle’s main advantages over Blaze is that while Blaze only heals herself once, Estelle is limited only by the number of enemies, making Estelle better when attrition is a greater danger. A smaller point in Estelle’s favor is that while Blaze’s s2 has a 70 second windup Estelle only needs to take 10 hits for her first s2 (and costs 4 less DP for most people), allowing Estelle to get in a skill activation much earlier if needed.
  • The more nuanced comparison is Estelle vs Specter. Both have self-healing, and both have burst skills with high power and short cooldowns but with a drawback. That said, there’s a fundamental difference between them: I’ve kept mentioning how Estelle prefers having more enemies around because they’re just free HP/SP, but Specter likes it better when there are fewer enemies. One of the big reasons is the 10 second self-stun on her s2, because it’s entirely possible for enemies to slip past her during it. This means that in situations with a high density of enemies, Specter has to be very careful about when she activates s2 or she requires outside help. Meanwhile, high enemy density just means more things for Estelle to recover HP and SP off of, mitigating the downside of her s2 and letting her cast it more often. Another consideration is that Specter’s regen is gradual–it’s meant more to heal her up between fights rather than save her life in the middle of one, and if there are enough enemies they can outpace her regen. Meanwhile, Estelle’s talent provides heal nukes that can swing the outcome of a given fight, and how much she heals scales with how many enemies there are, potentially greatly exceeding Specter’s regen (matching it at ~1 death/8 seconds for a pot1 Specter, or ~1 death/6 seconds for pot5 Specter). The cooldowns on their s2’s also deserve consideration, as Estelle only needs to be hit once every 2 seconds for her s2’s cooldown to match that of Specter’s s2. If she’s hit more often then her s2 can have a much shorter cooldown, and thanks to having a less punishing downside it’s also more spammable in general; it’s common for Estelle to have an overall higher damage output than Specter thanks to this. Overall I find that unless I’m specifically making use of Specter’s immortality Estelle usually has better performance. That’s a very big “unless” for sure, but it’s still impressive given that Specter has the advantage of higher rarity.
  • Compared to both of Specter and Blaze, Estelle has one key advantage: she’s not them, so she can be used alongside them. I’m sure anyone who has Blaze has experienced the feeling of wanting a second Blaze, and while Estelle is not Blaze she can fill a similar role in a different lane (or you can put them in the same lane so Blaze’s kills heal Estelle). And while you might have to choose between using Specter for her (helidrop) immortality or as a self-healing AoE dps, Estelle can easily take up the latter role so Specter is free to focus on her unique strengths. Or you can use them both as self-healing AoE dps, since that’s a useful enough role that it’s easy to use multiple at once.

So, should you raise Estelle even with Specter/Blaze? I think she’s strongly worth considering at the very least, since as a 4* she’s cheap to raise and the three of them are all good enough that redundancy is an advantage. Despite having both Specter and Blaze maxed, not only do I still use Estelle, I consider her one of my go-to operators.

What about Broca and Savage?

Added by popular demand, I originally didn’t include this section since these two are generally less popular, I don’t have Broca, and my Savage is still at e0 1.

  • Broca’s the glass cannon of AoE Guards, with the highest Attack but lowest HP, and without the powerful survival tools of Estelle/Blaze/Specter. Instead he takes the “dead enemies have 0 dps” approach, with a burst damage s2 that converts his attacks to Arts damage with a 1×4 range and increases his dps by ~75% while active. This makes him one of the best ground-based Arts dps in the game, and s2 has reasonable uptime as well. He generally doesn’t compete as much with his fellow AoE Guards; they don’t do Arts damage and he can’t tank very well, so there’s not too much overlap. On the other hand he is competing with other sources of melee Arts damage–and while he comes out on top or at least holds his own against most of them, he pales in comparison to Surtr. He’s definitely worth considering even with Surtr since he’s more inclined to remain on the field, just keep in mind that if you do plan to pull her Broca will lose some value.
  • Savage is the other (relatively) easily accessible AoE Guard, given away at launch and at the game’s 1st anniversary. Unfortunately, about the best thing I can say for Savage is that she’s an example of how a strong archetype can salvage a bad kit; her main strength is simply being an AoE Guard. Despite being 5* rarity with the appropriate cost to raise, her stats and skills are those of a 4* (whereas Estelle is closer to 5* performance with a 4*’s price), and since you only get one copy/year increasing her potential is a very long-term goal (generic tokens don’t work on her either). One notable thing about her is that she’s one of only two AoE Guards with a sustained dps skill, the other being Blaze. She’s a better operator than she gets credit for, but there’s really not much reason to raise her over any other AOE Guard.

Base Skill

At e0 Estelle’s base skill is Focus beta, a workshop skill. Focus beta increases the byproduct rate of all materials by 60%; unfortunately this is outclassed by the various specialized workshop skills with higher bonuses.

At e1 Estelle’s gains a second base skill, Solitude, a dorm skill. Solitude increases Estelle’s morale regen by +0.7/hour; this is somewhat helpful if you’re using her as a crafter since the workshop can drain morale quickly, but given that her byproduct bonus is low she’s not likely to do much crafting.

More reasons to raise Estelle

  • She is a precious cinnamon roll.
  • In her Trust 1 line she confesses that her childhood dream was to be a princess, and in her e2 art she’s now wearing a dress and her Oripathy crystals look like a crown.
  • Other AoE Guards use chainsaws, a circular saw, an exploding hammer (technically it’s sort of a combination hammer/magic staff and Savage’s Arts are responsible for the explosions), or something stolen from Bionicle to cause AoE destruction. Meanwhile Estelle just punches so hard that she hits three dudes at once, and during s2 even the likes of Heavy Defenders are going to feel it.

Closing

Happy birthday Estelle! If you have any questions ask away, I’m always happy to talk about Estelle.

In case you’d like to see Estelle in action for yourself, here are some videos mostly from the CN server (one is from me). These are mostly showing her performance in extreme scenarios and at max level, but they should give you an idea of what her upper limit is like.

Spoilers here, but in case you were wondering how she does in the future:

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