I was quite pleased with how the FF Collab review turned out, but due to the holidays I won’t be able to replicate that level of effort for Christmas. It’s a little disappointing, but considering the quality of the REM I don’t think anyone is missing out on much.
An already dismal Christmas REM didn’t get many buffs, leading to further disappointment. However, using recent seasonal REMs as precedent, this was a likely scenario. Halloween barely received any buffs, either, and the new cards were similarly disappointing (but at least they got a new MP card). The lack of buffs can at least in part be attributed to the mid-year buffs that both JP and NA already received, possibly making them reluctant to improve them further. This is a unfortunate trend since these types of events should generate more hype, but it doesn’t look like GungHo is good at revitalizing old REMs.
Another interesting note is that the REM will only be around for a single week in all regions. I’m not sure what GungHo has in mind, maybe it’s just as simple as getting a New Year’s event immediately after, but whatever it is I hope it’s exciting and that all regions get it.
Just from a superficial look, Christmas Gremory looks to be a similar tier lead as the standard dark version. If we were to cover the minutiae, there would be plenty of differences to discuss, but for the purposes of this review I think we can safely draw this conclusion off of each team’s three biggest subs. For dark that would be Xin Hua, Pandora and Akechi and for fire it’s Dantalion, Yamato and Sanada. There are certainly differences between the two sets — like Pandora having haste, Sanada having an extra row or Dantalion having OEs — but for the most part they make an exceptional sub core for each version. I don’t think it’s stretch to say that they’ll play out much like Summer Myr and the original; one might end up being definitively better than the other once people have accumulated enough experience using them, but they’re both exceptional leads (although, unfortunately, Gremory isn’t as good as Myr).
While she lacks the quantity of quality awakenings needed to be a truly elite sub, she’s better than a typical bind clearer. Of fire’s bind clerics, only two others generate fire orbs (Guan Yu and Fire Dragon Swordsman) and one other generates heart orbs (Red Riding Hood); she’s the only that does both. Her ability to generate both types combined with good awakenings ensures she’ll always be useful, meaning she could see regular use on even the best fire teams.
So, is Christmas Gremory a worthy 8-star? For the most part, yes. While seasonal 8-stars will always have questionable value relative to their rarity, when compared to her peers Gremory is quite good. Very few others have been proficient as both leads and subs — maybe GKali and June Eschamali — and I think Gremory is a step above.
I bought Christmas RSonia for my non-IAP alt over summer and have been fairly pleased with the purchase. I did so mainly for skill inheritance to fill in as a wood mass orb changer until I could acquire better alternatives. Well, that never happened and I’m still using her to fill that role on my haphazard MAthena Arena 1 team. Her two-turn haste has exceeded expectations in co-op, helping to recharge relatively short actives like Spica and Ronove after their inherited skill has been used. This account also has a Cao Cao team that I’d like to sub her on, but she’ll likely remain attached to a Ragnarok Dragon until I roll a spare Liu Bei or Australis.
The circumstances have changed significantly since the time my alt bought her, though. At that time — sometime this last summer for the Christmas in July event — there really wasn’t anything else interesting in the MP shop so the purchase was justifiable. All of the standard MP cards were on the decline or near their bottoms, but now Ragnarok Dragon is a quality purchase and the MP Dragons with their new uuevos are looking like strong options as well. Even if you’re in a situation like my alt where she’d fill a critical role in your progression, I’d give it some deep thought before pulling the trigger. If you main leads like Acala or Awoken Ares where she’d be a good sub or inherit, she’s still a questionable purchase unless you’re swimming in MP.
My personal experiences aside, she’s historically, and still is, a disappointment considering her rarity and cost. She received a small leader skill buff some time back, but is still irrelevant in that regard. The lack of any additional awakenings is insulting, although I guess she’s better off than Halloween BSonia. All in all, I don’t see her being a good purchase for most players and is easily the worst of the 8-stars in this REM. Hopefully New Year’s offers something better to dump MP into, but I’m not optimistic.
When RKali first came out, Ra Dragon was relatively new (at least on NA) and not everyone had access to DKali. Even though RKali was an exceptionally rare 8-star, we didn’t fully grasp just how rare that was (our only previous experience was with HKali who was also an MP card) and people still chased after her to fill their holes on a team that was indisputably the best at the time. As one would expect, the circumstances are a bit different now. While Ra Dragon has risen to be one the very best leads again, there are plenty of other strong alternatives including Kaede and the easy to access Myr. There are also plenty of GFE rate-boosting events; in addition to the now normal 4x rates for godfests, we’ve seen 5x and the GFE REM. With easier access to the best teams and DKali being “easier” to get, it’s hard to justify targeting a special REM 8-star.
One advantage RKali has over DKali is her +700 HP buff, but everything considered she’s still inferior. Dark having no elemental weaknesses being the major reason, an advantage that trumps that amount of HP in almost all situations. Two of the best teams she might see use on, Ra Dragon and Ronove, don’t really have HP troubles anyways.
With the introduction of the skill inheritance stat bonuses, DKali can close that stat gap. Inheriting a DKali onto a DKali results in 69 weighted stats (332 HP, 89 ATK, 53 RCV), almost as much as RKali’s natural HP advantage (70). Of course, you can inherit an RKali on RKali to regain the advantage, but how many people actually have multiple RKalis to throw around? DKali isn’t exactly common, either, but there’s just so many more opportunities to get her.
In the past, Christmas Liu Bei was in a strange place as not many fire leads wanted TPA subs and for the ones that did, he wasn’t such an outstanding option that would prompt a player to brave a notoriously stingy seasonal REM. The outlook is much better for him nowadays, though. He has more quality leader options now including Krisha, revo Shiva and Awoken Ares (although his continued exclusion from Shiva Dragon teams is unfortunate). His additional 200 ATK also makes him outstanding offensively, allowing him to compete with the best triple prongers in the game, being the third hardest hitting in fire behind Shiva Dragon and revo Kagutsuchi.
He’s also received substantial buffs as a leader. He won’t ever be considered an elite lead, but 1.82/65.61/1.82 exceeds my expectations for a seasonal 7-star. That line does come with it’s share of restrictions, though, the full multiplier being restricted to attackers and requiring three or more fire combos. However, fire does have a surprisingly good attacker pool and leads like Krishna and Sarasvati have proven that orb-hungry activations can still be consistent with the right mix of active skills. He can rely on orb changers with haste, like Misato, or skyfall buffs, like Ares, to supply a steady stream of orbs and he even has good utility options like Cao Cao and Rozuel. His newfound bind immunity is at it’s best in this role, too, as binds will never take away your team’s stat buffs. There’s even the possibility of a full bind immune team based on Misato and Rozuel.
Do these improvements justify rolling for? Almost nothing in a seasonal REM does, especially at 7-stars. Regardless, Liu Bei is now a solid card. And who knows, maybe Machine Goemon will be more like MAthena than MHera or MZeus and this Liu Bei will also end up being a premier inheritance option.
Sakuya’s leader skill has been upgraded to 2.25/56.25/1 for healers, but in a world where top leads are tankier, hit harder and have more forgiving sub pools and activations, she just can’t compete. While seasonal 7-stars have never been outstanding leaders, that’s really the only area Sakuya can possibly excel in, meaning it’s very likely that she’ll never be buffed to a relevant level. I have to believe her being introduced in what was essentially the first seasonal REM at 7-stars is to blame. Since GungHo later decided to put any halfway exciting cards at the 8-star rarity, it’s unlikely she’ll ever receive substantial buffs as they wouldn’t want her to steal the thunder from their moneymakers.
Not much has changed for Haku’s dark version; she has her uses, but is still unexciting. She’s mainly considered a sub, although a 49x tricolor lead is still capable of getting you through the late-game. Due to her dark OEs she makes a fine sub for the newly buffed Yomi Dragon; she’d ideally have more HP, but she isn’t exactly a slouch in that department, either. She also works great with Ulquiorra’s damage enhance. There are only five other cards available on NA that have five or more dark OEs (Halloween Karin, Saito Hajime, Eschamali, Halloween Izanami, and Thanatos). Those OE’s also play well with Akechi who conveniently combos with her board change.
Her fire form does have it’s appeals, but isn’t quite as useful as her alter ego. Unfortunately there’s no fire equivalent for the buffed Yomi Dragon, but Napoleon is pretty close and she can still contribute on teams like Krishna even if they aren’t as reliant on OEs. This form works well with Silk, but fire has more five-OE options than dark (eight total, nine if you include Elgenubi from the Heroine REM) giving her less value via scarcity. Her board change combos with Sanada, but isn’t quite as good as the Akechi combo since hearts aren’t generated.
2.25/56.25/1? Not bad, could be worse for a 6-star. Restricted to balanced and god types? Still fine. Brutal combo scaling? Well fuck it.
A 1/42.25/1.69 lead is pretty respectable for a 5-star, even with the match-five and god and machine type requirements. Their biggest weakness might be their lack of HP which is middling for a 5-star and their leader skill has no multiplier. This can be addressed by pairing with different leads; June Eshamali results in 1.5/39/1.3 and fire Pollux is 1.3/42.25/1.3, both respectable sets of multipliers. I can see them helping someone into the late-game, but the lack of damage will catch up to them in the endgame.
As a sub, there aren’t any leads that can take full advantage of their abilities. Light Cecil is likely the closest, requiring both light and dark matches to activate and being able to turn the light column into an easy TPA. Balancile also has potential, but is in desperate need of buffs and looks to be row-based anyways. There’s something to be said about guaranteeing both light and dark activation for match-five leads, but the split nature of their active and OEs will more often be a shortcoming than a strength. For JP, they could be great for Kite teams, assuming he ever gets a relevant buff.
Probably their best application is for skill inheritance on match-five teams such as June Eschamali and Yomi Dragon. The eight-turn cooldown for a single column and one-turn haste is reasonable even if the other column can’t be fully utilized. The light column could actually see use on Yomi Dragon Arena 1 farming teams as a way to get around dark Shieldra absorb shields, but they won’t give you the assist skill stat bonus which plays a key role in boosting that team’s HP. Maybe in the future they’ll get an alternate dark form.
GungHo needed 5-star filler (this REM actually had no 5-stars before this) and what’s better than a straight rehash to balance out the effort put into the new Pollux & Castor. Freyja’s almost exactly the same as her REM counterpart making for a very unexciting card. The addition of killers to the original split ultimates was amazing at the time, but now that plenty of quality killer cards have been released since then their shine has diminished. The few exceptions are ones that have relevant double killers or relatively rare ones like machine, but this version of Freyja isn’t one of them. All damage enhancers look silly when compared to the Gemstone Princesses, but even if you inherit a relevant skill, her awakenings aren’t really worth the effort as all of the recently released wood devil killers — Mito, Halloween Parvati, Ceres Ana, and Wee Jas — are more effective.
Despite my negativity, she can still make noteworthy contributions which is more than most seasonal 5-stars can say. She’s particularly relevant due to the predominance of Liu Bei teams where she can help address devil-filled dungeons. While her damage enhance is lackluster, it’s still good enough to serve as an inherited skill on Liu Bei or even MAthena for those that don’t have better options. In the end, she’s a solid card, but it’s hard not to be disappointed with the lack of creativity.
As with Hanzo, Sasuke and Chiyome before her, Hatsume has potential as an inheritance base, especially because she’s in fire, the element most known for farming (although fire’s farming capabilities are currently lacking compared to water and wood). While she doesn’t qualify fully for Shiva Dragon or Goemon, she can still be used on Yamamoto and Cao Cao. Like her siblings, her main selling points are a short active, two skill boosts and a dragon killer, but unlike them, she has extremely stiff competition. Ilmina, Tsubaki and New Year’s Yamato fulfill similar criteria while trumping her in awakenings so it will come down to her shorter active to determine if she sees any farming play. I could see a situation where you use her inherited skill early in the dungeon, pop a couple hastes, then combo her with Christmas RSonia for a swipeable board for one of the later floors. There’s definitely some potential here, but who knows if it’ll ever be realized.
The Christmas healer girls are great overall value at silver. While their value has somewhat diminished since last Christmas due to skill inheritance — in that delay solutions are easier to access for teams of all elements, but also because they can’t be used as assist skills themselves — they’re still some of the most useful silvers to come from a special REM. While MZeus isn’t all that important anymore, these delays make fielding the Ra carry team all that much simpler due to their skill boost.
For a silver, Paulina is a fairly respectable leader, bringing a 3.5x ATK bonus that can make an early- to mid-game pair with Hermes or Sun Quan. She’s a fairly good inheritance base, too, with decent awakenings and a short active. She’s lost a bit of value in that regard due to water’s best leads moving away from the match-five mechanic, but she can still serve as a respectable OE stick for teams that are otherwise short of 100% enhanced water skyfalls.
Christmas is the first seasonal REM to return for a third time and confirms an alarming trend: GungHo stinks at revitalizing returning machines. To be fair, the Christmas REM was never all that exciting, but last year fostered hope that they’d keep improving it as the removal of the chibis and other off-theme cards was actually pretty exciting. However, all the returning seasonals this year were busts (Academy, Summer, Halloween) mainly due to the lack of buffs to old cards, but also because most of the new cards were boring. On the other hand, New Year’s and June Bride (and maybe the Heroine REM can be included, too) brought entirely new lineups and were better for it, but maybe they’ll be disappointing when they return next year as well? Maybe this is something only I feel, maybe I can never feel excited about this type of event again, but truly hope that GungHo finds a way to change that.
Anyways, I should probably skip rolling this REM, but as a degenerate I’ll still throw some stones at it. I won’t be rolling for Gremory, though; chasing 8-stars has crushed my spirit and I’m done with it until they release something that’s actually unique and powerful.