Table of Contents Show
A tier list and composition guide by a player who’s beaten the Expert True Final Boss on BM4.
Note: CONTAINS SPOILERS.
Chrono Ark Tier List and Composition Guide
Welcome to my Tier list/starting composition guide for Chrono Ark EA 2.0 Momori Beta! Here, I hope to show you how to start off strong and understand the relative strengths and weaknesses of individual characters!
For context, I’m a player with about 200 hours in the game, been playing since Joey was still tall. (Joey used to be tall, I swear) Before Blood Mist was added, I beat the game with all characters on expert (Except Huz, but that’s because of principle). Now, I’m working through all the cast on the True Final boss on Blood Mist 4 Expert. So far, I’ve crossed off about half the cast. (Narhan, Silverstein, Chain, Charon, Pressel, Sizz, Leryn, Ironheart, Lian, Trisha). After that, I plan on tackling the Expertplus mod over in the workshop. Check me out on Twitch if you want to see me try that, I plan on streaming my attempts once a week on weekends around 4 PM EST. (https://www.twitch.tv/augustiel_autumn)
I’ve also got a few hundred hours in other roguelike deckbuilders, from Monster Train to Slay the Spire to One Step From Eden. I was also a Hearthstone player for a few years, which taught me a lot about building a deck. In short, I know how to handle card value, I know what makes a good deck, and I know what differentiates a good deck archetype from a bad one.
I hope that’s enough background. It’s tier list time.
The Best Character in the Game
She is the best.
Charon’s general card value is above and beyond almost any other character in the game, with universal value provided with skills like Dark Blessing and Dark Heal. Her DoTs provide a ton of value in extended fights, and with skills like Vigil of Darkness she can avoid bloating your deck. Unlike most units, who have two primary builds, Charon has *three*. She has her encroachment build, her allied damage build, and her Dark Heal build, because Dark Heal is such a powerful card that it stands on its own as an entire build.
What’s more, Charon’s passive of Soul Thurible provides what is effectively an extra card in hand at all times: a 0 cost swiftness heal, which doesn’t take deck or hand space. That’s incredible value.
Charon can do it all, from flat damage to DoTs to AoE to healing, and it places her as easily the most versatile and powerful character in the game. There’s never a bad situation to have Charon on your team.
- Encroachment is the most effective DoT in the game.
- Strong AoE and single target DoTs.
- Versatile like no other character is, with healing and damage and support.
- Dark heal.
- Low direct damage
- Struggles against enemies with pain resist
- Can’t fill any individual role on her own in the endgame. Requires synergies to carry, otherwise she’s a support character.
Lian is the strongest tank in the game, with value far exceeding her difficulty in play. Her skills are all top notch, so you never waste a skill book or a level up on her, and her passive is so ridiculously strong that she’s even good with mediocre neutral cards like Smite or Dead End. If you manage your parries properly, Lian provides an extra one mana per turn, a value ranging from 2 to *13* Soulstones, which is absolutely insane.
Her ability to redirect attacks and built in healing gauge protection make her the most active tank, with the ability to directly cover for allies when they’re in danger. No other tank in the game so effectively guards allies, and none of them deal as much damage as Lian does, either. Her damage ratios and stats are on par with a DPS.
- Parry allows her to directly cover for allies.
- Only character who directly generates mana.
- Character with the most diverse utility, from debuff removal to defense to card generation.
- High card costs. Not egregious, but expensive.
- Not a solo DPS. Her attacks are highly damaging, but not enough to take down dangerous targets, usually meant to proc parry.
- Can only tank one hit + a parry each turn while preserving healing gauge, unless you have Protect Ally.
Pressel is the strongest healer in terms of raw healing delivered at any given moment, and her passive of Prophecy is another ridiculously strong one that basically moves her to S tier on its own.
Prophecy might not sound too good, because it doesn’t actually increase the amount of draws you get, but think of it this way. In having two or three more draw options, your hand size is effectively increased by three. Your options are so much more diverse by just having Pressel on your team that you practically have an additional two cards exchanges per turn.
Her damage build leaves a lot to be desired, which leaves her as a strict healer/support unit, but Pressel is so strong in that regard that she’s an easy S tier character.
- Prophecy extends the hand size by three cards, an incredible buff.
- Strongest direct heals in the game.
- Great filler cards with God’s Blessing and Adjust Aim, further diluting the deck.
- No damage or utility beyond healing and debuff removal.
- Several dead cards can make her frustrating to build.
- Requires Holy Light and Blinking Heal to cast with swiftness.
Azar isn’t actually useful except for challenges and Forgotten King, but he’s the cream of the crop for DPS. Yes, he lacks utility, but that’s because he’s simply such a powerful DPS unit that he doesn’t need it. His illusion swords provide free damage every single turn, and have ignore taunt to boot. Not a single character in the game has more sources of ignore taunt than Azar, making it easy to cut down squishy but scary enemies like Pharos Fire Mages or High Priests.
Azar also has one of the best sets of rare skills in the game, with Dancing Sword doubling his damage for two turns (And without once!), Fantasy being simply insane value, and Blade Starfall providing immense amounts of damage when combined with Sword of Infinity or Ascending Slice. Azar was my pick to beat the Lone But Not Lonely Wolf challenge, and he killed every single encounter in one turn. I don’t think any other DPS could do that.
He’s slightly more dependent on Lucy Draw Skills to keep his DPS going than other units, but when he gets going, Azar is arguably the strongest raw damage unit in the game.
- Always deals at least 9-10 damage per turn because Illusion Sword is free.
- Ignore taunt and swiftness on just about every other card. He’s like an assassin.
- All his cards are highly synergetic. Toss in whatever you feel like, and it can usually work.
- No practical utility except for damage.
- Reliant on large hand size for a lot of his damage.
- Requires setup and clever play to maximize his skills.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I hate Joey. He’s annoying. I hate him so much. But he’s also a healer who doubles as a solid DPS unit, and fulfilling multiple roles at once is my top criteria for being a good unit (See: Charon). Joey is almost always a solid pick, because Intoxication is such a strong debuff, and his regeneration skills provide very solid healing.
Joey is also one of the most synergetic units in the game, combining well with Charon, Trisha, Lian, and Chain, depending on his build. Both his Intoxication and Buff builds work respectably well, and Joey is the single best unit to run with the active item Nurse’s Claymore. He gets it up to about 50-80 damage per use on his own.
- Strong healing and buffs. And has a stun.
- Dual function as healer and DoT DPS makes his versatile.
- Heavy synergy with Charon and Trisha, two strong characters.
- Almost no direct damage.
- Also struggles with dead cards.
- No debuff removal.
Ironheart is a respectable pick, especially in comps that run two healers at once, or when played with Leryn. Thanks to his passive, he’s almost never a bad pick, though his kit can be clunky to pick skills from. Duel and High Energy Emission are top tier cards, but while the individual cards are great, they struggle to work together well.
Ironheart’s best build revolves around Shield Bash and Shock Wave, which is unfortunate for a tank. Ironheart’s damage with those skills is not to be underestimated, but only having solid situational control on Weapon Breaker and Duel is a minus that keeps Ironheart out of S Tier. But only barely. A very strong and synergetic unit, but one that struggles to actually mitigate damage for the long term.
- Strong passive turns heals into preventative mitigation.
- Lots of taunt.
- Synergy between Ironheart and Leryn is the strongest synergy in the game.
- Applies “Can’t reduce healing gauge” only to single targets. Very little in kit mitigation.
- Low synergy between his own cards.
- Only deals direct damage, but not much of it.
Selena is a very strong healer, though with clunky skills. Her only 1 cost heal with swiftness is Star Breeze, which is probably her best skill, but with so many skills that cost 2 or without swiftness, her insane healing and utility are countered and made less relevant.
Her primary build is the Lunar Curtain build, since her high cost build is so unreliable and clunky, but that locks her out of most of her kit. When you get lucky with her skills, though, Selena is a very powerful source of healing and utility.
- Really strong healing ratios.
- Lunar Curtain provides lots of preventative mitigation in the right deck.
- Healer with the best direct damage through Shooting Star and Bloody Moon.
- Can only be played with Helia, a worse character.
- Weaker healing power stat than other healers.
- Struggles with awkward targeting.
The best tankbuster in the game, Silverstein provides so much single target damage and utility that certain bosses become trivial. Skills like Rapid Shot and Quick Fire set him up to destroy most enemies, though he struggles with taunt. His primary skills with ignore taunt cost significantly more, making it hard for him to land the same sort of burst he can on a primary target.
The best thing about him is how every single one of his skills synergizes (except for Bear Trap, but Bear Trap is actually really good). All his skills except Snipe and Freezing Bomb provide strong single target damage that works with his passive, and that makes him relatively low investment when it comes to skill books.
- No bad cards. All cards work together far better than average.
- Incredible single target damage, though with less versatility than Azar.
- Only stun on a DPS.
- Really only works if you kill enemies one a ta time.
- Passive’s damage is strong, but its draw effect is largely irrelevant.
- Awkward if your other units don’t also deal single target damage.
The second best tankbuster in the game. Johan’s main builds are his hand size build and his fixed ability build, of which the fixed ability build is better. Johan’s damage is incredibly consistent because of how it comes from his (very cheap) fixed ability. Not much more to say. A simple, efficient damage dealer. When you run Johan, you rarely run into the issue of unused mana.
- Most of his damage is from his fixed ability, freeing up your hand and deck.
- Fixed ability really only costs .5 mana, thanks to Supply Arrows.
- Lots of swiftness damage.
- Low general card quality. You’d usually rather be playing cards from another character to proc his passive.
- Very few direct synergies with other characters.
- Your build really has to revolve around Johan if you want him to be useful at all. He has to be the core of the team.
Ilya’s only real set of cards is his lightning setup. ‘Nuff said.
What Ilya does that a lot of other characters don’t is that he has expensive cards that regularly feel like they pay off. Thunder Burst and Thunder Skyfall both land very hard, and Drunkenness never loses value because it’s at worst a 0 cost cycle. Fixing Thunder Burst – Ascension provides an easy activator for Sheathe effects, and the sheathe effects on his thunder skills aren’t any slouch. Ilya excels at taking down targets efficiently while not losing card value. Often, units will lose out on a lot of cards to take down a big target, but Ilya’s passive gets around that pretty easily.
- Really high value from each individual card. A hand of Ilya cards is much stronger on average than other characters, because each card is so impactful.
- Provides a lot of cycle in hand, allowing you to dig for cards.
- Strong damage ratios.
- Hard to make work with low mana. Takes time to get off the ground.
- His entire snow set of cards is weak.
- Requires lucky/skilled hand positioning to make work.
Trisha’s real power is Mirror Image, which is on it’s own a card that could carry a character. Being able to duplicate Once skills and play them for free does wonders for high power plays. Double Team, while not the most exciting passive, provides regular mana value and lets you get off insane plays. Her rares are also always worth taking, which is a plus.
- Highest crit of any unit in the game.
- Has only a bit of her own utility, but can borrow utility from other characters.
- Lots of ignore taunt, though with less combos than Azar.
- Lower base damage than other DPS.
- Requires a lot of cycle.
- Directly worse than Azar in terms of damage.
Ms. Chain is a great pick, as long as she’s not your starting pick. Her flat damage skills are clunky, her pain build sacrifices her ability to tank, but her self sustain is insane. Chain has near-permanent healing gauge protection, and with the increased aggro from both Burnnn! and Engine Reload, she can pretty regularly tank hits with no repercussions. Skills like Fire Ground and Leave This to Me! also further her utility, protecting her team really efficiently. However, so many of her cards are dead draws that I can’t place her above B tier.
Against the true final boss, however, I would put her as an A tier or S tier pick. Permanent healing gauge makes her great for tanking certain attacks when you can select the target.
- Permanent Healing Gauge Protection.
- Simple to understand and play.
- Strong secondary pain debuffs makes her synergize great with Trisha and Charon.
- Less taunt than other tanks. Relies on RNG for targeting.
- She has direct damage, but it sucks.
- Often, you have to waste a card to activate Burnnn! because her cards do so much less without it.
Helia suffers from a lack of direction. Like her sister, her skills are very segmented into two builds (Solar Flare and High Cost), leaving her internal synergies wanting. Neither build is particularly good, either. They’re manageable, and Sun Ring is an incredible skill, but they aren’t as standout as other pain builds or raw damage builds. Ilya provides better output with high cost cards, and Charon and Joey provide better Pain debuffs that don’t rely on receiving buffs.
However, that isn’t to say she’s bad. She’s definitely workable. B tier.
- High flat damage.
- Solar Flare synergizes well with support builds, allowing you to play defensively and still deal damage.
- Can order the deck with Blessing of the Sun, though it’s not particularly good.
- Half of her cards are terrible. Takes heavy investment or luck to make Helia work.
- Expensive, but with less impact per card to compensate.
- Requires an exchange and a card to draw the card she wants, which is strictly worse than Pressel’s Prophecy.
Leryn. She’s strange. Her skills are almost all shields, with a diminishing heal. She’s bumped up an entire tier when played with Ironheart, because it makes her shields recursive, but on her own she lacks a solid passive and her card quality is iffy. That said, she is the easiest source of Healing Gauge Protection on a healer, and that makes her worth running if you need the extra utility. Her discard/hand size build isn’t even worth discussing. She’s a pure support.
- Easiest access to Healing Gauge Protection for a support.
- Mobius is possibly the best rare in the game.
- Her synergy with Ironheart is insane.
- Can’t directly heal an ally out of Death’s Door without a specific card, which can be scary.
- Lower than average healing power and ratios.
- Not a single direct heal.
Sizz is the most offensive support, thanks to Eve’s attack buffs. Skills like Hindering Attack and Eve, Help! make her really strong when paired with direct DPS like Silverstein or Ilya. Her healing leaves something to be desired, which is a bit sad because of her lack of other card utility (Eve isn’t activated by cards, so she doesn’t count). Often, taking cards with Sizz can feel disappointing, because so many of them just feel like they don’t do anything.
- Eve provides tons of offensive utility! And is cute!
- Second easiest source of healing gauge protection for a support.
- Only healer with viable direct damage.
- Low healing ratios on all cards but Eve, Guard!
- Often requires a second healer in order to fully keep the team topped off, which can lead to too many heals in deck.
Hein has about as much subtlety as a brick. His kit is simple, hit hard, hit fast. It’s strong, but lacks versatility or precision. He doesn’t have as much ignore taunt as Azar, and his skills have a lot of countdown. Countdown isn’t inherently bad, but it means enemies often get a chance to act before Hein can take them down.
That said, Hein is also workable, and his ability to take down multiple enemies with the same taunt status makes him powerful in the right situation and in the right hands.
- Strong direct damage.
- Strongest multi-target direct damage.
- Fewer ways than average to avoid taunt.
- Passive doesn’t do very much. Makes him weak in single target fights
Narhan is a really interesting character, and one I like a lot. However, it’s undeniable that he struggles. His good cards, like The Mentalist and Cold Hearted, are just so heavily outweighed by cards like Nightmare Syndrome and Mental Shock. I think there’s a lot of hidden potential somewhere in his kit, and Narhan is the first character I’d move up on the list if I had the chance, but I don’t see it yet. Maybe there’s a combo between Narhan and Trisha, with Shadow Raid? I don’t know, but for now, he’s just clunky. Worse at tanking than Chain, and Identified! doesn’t do enough to be worth it.
- Strong shield and proactive defenses.
- Being able to see exactly who an enemy will be targeting allows for some really interesting counterplay.
- Most unique CC options. Sets up critical hits really well.
- It’s really hard to capitalize on the Identified! debuff.
- Identified! doesn’t work very well against cursed enemies or enemies like the Lightning Hedgehog or Charging Carousel Horse.
- CC options often aren’t great.
Momori. I don’t know how she got a job on the Investigation Team with her personality, but I guess she’s good enough since she can keep up.
First off, her passive is really good. Like, really good. A flat 40% damage reduction actually means a ton, even if the damage is delayed. Momori has so many means of offloading that damage too, that it almost doesn’t matter at times. Her Inner Desires also proc Self Damage for Relentless Slash from Lian and Evil Phantasm on Charon, which is a really strong synergy with really strong cards.
However, that’s where Momori’s utility ends. She has very little healing gauge protection, takes a ton of damage, and performs subpar for a DPS. She just doesn’t fit any niche perfectly yet. Maybe that’ll change in future patches, though, so hold your breath.
- 40% damage reduction? What the hell?
- Strongest damage for a tank. Basically a DPS in that regard.
- Basically no self-sustain or defensive skills. Basically a DPS except for her passive.
- Goes to Death’s Door much more regularly than other characters, so you have to be prepped and ready with single target heals.
- Basically, you require slightly less AoE healing, but much more single target healing. Overall, you spend about as many cards on heals.
I don’t like Huz.
Healing Wounds is kind of terrible, when you can simply overheal for 33% efficiency already. You take about 33% more damage than you heal from Healing Wounds, leaving her already subpar healing (when compared to Pressel and Joey and Selena) in a worse state than before. I don’t think her debuffs are strong enough to be worth it, either.
Out of principle, I’ve never beaten the game with Huz. If you like her and think she’s good though, more power to you. I don’t see it.
- I think Healing Wounds is one of the only options for direct Overhealing.
- Capitalizes on debuffs really well.
- Restraint allows you to protect healing gauge reactively, which can be really strong.
- Low healing, and that healing is countered by how much damage she does to the team.
- Kit lacks internal synergy.
- She tries to cover multiple roles, like Joey and Charon do, but fails. She’s instead spread too thin, and instead of being great, is really bad. Playable, but bad.
Phoenix just does things, and I don’t get it. Phoenix is an asynergetic character who can’t perform. Maybe there’s room for a similar tanking niche as Chain, but I doubt it.
Still playable, I won Expert with Phoenix, after all. But not good by any means. Phoenix feels like a restriction rather than a benefit.
- Can soak hits really well
- Free bread?
- Skills are all just… strange. They have weird prerequisites, and don’t feel worthwhile for how difficult they are to activate.
- Really annoying.
This is my preferred start. This is a team that starts off with high damage from both characters, tanking from Lian, and healing from Charon. Builds well into a Pain Debuff team with Joey and Chain, or any hypercarry DPS with a healer. It’s really the most versatile start.
This is a team that plans to play around Charon’s Evil Phantasm team damage build. Using Inner Desire, you can activate Evil Phantasm basically whenever, and it’s one of the strongest abilities for cost when you can activate it so easily. Definitely needs Pressel or Joey for strong heals, and that leaves a flex position for a support/utility character. Leryn, Lian or Narhan work well for that role.
Ironheart and Leryn is one of the most powerful two unit synergies in the game, and you can start with it, too! The idea is that you build around Leryn’s shields with Healing Arc and Protection Curve, building up large shields for Ironheart to capitalize on with Shock Wave and Shield Bash. Usually works best if you bring a second healer and a backup DPS for your other positions.
You can start with the twins. Isn’t that cool?
Silverstein works well with Sizz, because of how few attacks he does per turn but how much damage he dishes out. This is a solid start if you feel you’re getting stuck taking lots of damage from being unable to burst down individual targets. You want to take Hindering Attack, Eve, Help! and Eve, Guard! as well as a Thread of Life or two, and then any Silverstein skills you like (as long as you keep one or two Rapid Shots).
Pressel’s Prophecy allows you to control your hand better to activate Ilya’s sheathe effects. ‘Nuff said.
I call this the Bear Trap build. You take Bear Trap and a bunch of Identified! debuffs, and just spam Bear Trap wherever the enemy is about to attack. It’s goofy and not very good, but I beat the True Final Boss with it so take that.
If you find your teams lacking in utility and defense, you can start off with Lian and Pressel, picking up any DPS you can find on the first campfire. This guarantees that you have a solid base to keep your team happy and healthy.
Any DPS with Pressel or Lian is also a good choice, but I don’t know how to illustrate that!