2018-06-02: Initial posting.
As I’ve done in the past, I will begin by stating that tier lists can be dangerous and detrimental if consumed as nothing but a list of names. I would suggest reading my reasons why I believe certain characters belong here and what the list actually represents. This way you can confirm or deny whether the list or parts of it are applicable to you or not.
What the list does represent is a collection of what I’d dub “The Most Valuable Characters in the Game”. As in they fulfill the conditions as a top team member on many different teams at the highest level of content, which is the approaching Torments and 5* Magicite fights.
This means multi elemental damage dealers, the best support who is now also a multi elemental mage because of course he is, and the two new healers that lift offense and protection up to heights that not even Relm and Aphmau can reach.
The Onion Knight has the potential to be a key contributor on every single physical and magical Magicite team that you build. He’ll almost certainly be indispensable for the FFIII Torment as well.
His role during the 4* magicite era cannot be overstated. He’s the most valuable character in the game at the time I’m publishing this article. This actually changes for the worse in the coming era due to Generation 2 CSBs(+50% ATK or MAG buffs to go along with CSBs) and the Hastega 5* White Magic ability.
Onion Knight stays very relevant as a buffer considering that you’re not going to have every Generation 2 CSB unless you’re a gacha wizard, and the +50% MAG chains still stack with his magical USB. The MAG softcap is quite high at 1056 while ATK is at 806. Simply put, MAG is more useful to mages than ATK is to physical specimens, giving Onion Knight a key role on more teams than simply ones you don’t have a Gen2 CSB for.
Beyond buffing, Onion Knight gets a USB3 in the Autumn festival that makes him a quadra elemental mage in case you can’t find a place for his buffing in those(Earth, Water, Fire, Wind) elements. Even if you can find a place for buffing, there’s always the option of using both. Extra points for having Earth, Water, and Wind available as his stronger elements since they’re harder to find mages for.
Mimicking Onion Knight’s versatility, Elarra can be your healer on every Magicite team. The difference is what she provides to the team is less susceptible to replacement from other essential party roles. Her healing and offensive party buffs are unmatched for magical teams, while only Aerith equals her value on physical teams.
With the release of her USB she becomes, in my humble opinion, the most valuable character in the game.
How do you manage to be S Tier if another character meets or exceeds your capabilities in almost every way? Well, it helps that the other character is Elarra, and with Aerith being a phenomenal healer with her USB2 for half of the Magicite fights as well as a Torment means she’s still one of the most valuable characters in the game. Add in the Last Stand present in her USB2 which allows her to be even better than Elarra for some team comps, and you have who I consider to be the 2nd best healer in the game and well worth being on this list.
Bartz is a quadra elemental specialist that can, with the aid of his bizzaro world Glint, fill in on more than just his primary elements. For the time being I consider him a five team wonder buddy, with four Magicites and a Torment to his name. This number has a chance to improve two notches in the future after some testing.
With ASBs being the most powerful direct damage options we have and Bartz’s untaxed quadra-elemental monstrosity being the best ASB in the game, Bartz starts immensely strong and works down from there. Four EnElement BSBs, a remarkable quadra element USB1, what may be a sneaky good USB2, and ending with another USB masquerading as a Glint. Not only does he work well on multiple teams, but he’s forgiving in the gacha as well with his multiple ways to put together an effective character. Elarra help us all if you have Bartz’s full complement.
Sora ©Disney is weird. Global got him much earlier than we were supposed to so even though he’s not due to improve at any time in the near future, he started out obscenely powerful and will coast on that for a long time to come. Being great on “only” three teams makes him close to being cut from this list, but I’m allowing it for now.
Sora’s main strength is that he starts out the fight with EnElement which he can then use to no effort ASB when he reaches the 750 SB point mark. And this is after using 6* Spellblades to get there. With other strong options in his USB and BSB to better fill in other types of team comps, it makes him an extremely valuable character.
This all happened so fast to me. I never wanted to leave my happy place when Rinoa was an easy to ridicule mess, but a CSB, fifty USBs and LMRs, and a Bartz Tier Glint later here we are. Rinoa is an extremely strong character in two elements and her Torment, and with her BLK typed kit with her Glint she becomes a realistic option for even more.
Rinoa just has the Soul Break for the situation, with a rank based Ice chaser, two of the better Brave USBs(one for each of her primary elements), a dual-element ASB, and a broad damage high quickcast BLK Glint.
DeNA made Rinoa really good, and I hate them for it.
Vivi & Palom
Vivi and Palom are mentioned here together because what they do is very similar. With their Ability Double USBs and other means to increase their broad BLK damage rather than their specific elements(Fire and Lightning, respectively), they tap into the broad elemental coverage of Black Magic to contribute gobs of damage and chain building on numerous elemental teams.
They are two-thirds of the Second Triumvirate. Maria has been omitted since she, with her bad Legend Dive and single element LMR, doesn’t have the same tools as the other two for inflicting pain outside of her chosen element. However, in single elemental performance Maria exceeds them purely on the back of the fact that she has an ASB while they do not.
Vivi and Palom both have access to Black Magic dual casting on top of their guaranteed USB double cast. Vivi’s comes from a Trance LM2, which is stronger at 50% chance, while Palom’s is 35% but is boosted by the increased presence of +BLK damage in his various dives. This makes them potent mages for every Magicite except Holy and Dark.
Yuffie, like Sora, barely made it on here. With her Glint and the general craziness of Ninja abilities she is a potent damage dealer of three elements and a member of a Torment team.
Even the occasional jankiness of keeping Physical Blink stacks up can’t limit her damage enough to make her less than a powerful option. It’s particularly unlikely that you’ll be seven-hitting Ninja abilities in the 5* Fire Magicite, but that’s the element where Yuffie is the most forgiving, with all of her primary Soul Breaks, including her ASB being present and accounted for there, as well as a Physical Blink based super chase so she isn’t punished hard for using more Physical Blink generators instead of the primary damage ability.
Beware your Dark orb stash. Rank based anything is the mind killer.