Simply put, Bleach is the best collab to hit NA to date. What this means exactly varies from player to player, but I believe that is just another indicator of how strong the lineup is overall. For those looking for powerful leads, all of the 6-stars qualify with Aizen being one of the best overall in the game. For those looking to improve their farming teams, there are appealing options such as Yamamoto, Toshiro and Grimmjow. The silvers are lacking, but you can’t have everything and with an estimated 30-40% gold rate it hopefully won’t hurt too much. It feels like I just hyped up FF as the best, but I’m much more excited for this REM.
I worked on this review here and there where I could in between holiday stuff so it isn’t as refined as I’d like, but since I’m unlikely to find more free time to work on it I figure I may as well publish it now. I apologize for the lack of editing; if I have time later I’ll try to go back and improve things, but I wouldn’t count on it. If you have any issues or questions, please feel free to use the comments.
As for the REM itself, I’ve been looking forward to it for a long time with Grimmjow being one of my most coveted cards. I suggest you take that point of view into consideration when reading this review because, as always, I write from the perspective of an hardcore farmer so I generally value different things than most players. I try my best to cover all aspects of cards I find interesting, but this REM is so good for farming I couldn’t help myself but focus on that.
When the collab first hit NA, I thought Ichigo was going to be an amazing lead, but I hadn’t factored how awkward a skill-reliant active would be on a rainbow team. He was still strong, but far from the elite lead I had envisioned. Much of that lesson can continue to be applied to this updated version. His buff was far from impressive, being only a slight bump up from 75.56x ATK to 100x. This nor his new awakenings help address his original problem of inconsistent damage and healing. There’s a chance that a Ragnarok Dragon-based team could be an interesting alternative to a dark-based team, though, as the hastes could help fuel a short cooldown active like Awoken Isis, but you’d still have to negotiate color coverage.
As a sub he’s still pretty awkward. The top rainbow lead is still Ra Dragon and Ichigo’s lack of god typing precludes optimal use on that team. People used his evo form for the god typing to work around this limitation, but doing so this time means you’re missing out on more than a single devil killer; a four-awakening sub just isn’t good enough anymore. The only other top-tier rainbow sub is Ronove, I guess, but only covering a single element makes him an awkward fit. Same goes for Sephiroth. The double enhance killers are an interesting addition as they make Pys trivial, it’s just too bad they don’t hit PreDRAs as well.
This version of Ichigo changes him from a rainbow card to a row card and is arguably the stronger of the two. He has everything that you’d like to see in a leader — short of an RCV multiplier — including good damage, a large HP pool and bind immunity. Damage enhance actives are always somewhat awkward on leads, especially ones with 20-turn cooldowns. This puts a strain on active availability especially since stalling is difficult without sufficient healing. The no skyfall clause can help combat this, though, as it means skyfall buffs like Eschamali will give a more consistent number of orbs to work with over the duration of the buff as unwanted skyfall matches won’t eat your dark orbs. This in turn means there’s less time needed for stalling as a single skill should technically suffice for multiple floors, helping mitigate the lack of healing. I won’t go so far as to say he’s an elite lead, but he’s very, very strong.
As a sub, he’s a fine damage enhancer. Despite the lack of rows himself, the devil killer will make up for it in many cases (although it can be a liability against monsters like Parvati). Considering a team with a paltry 10 dark rows, he will give a ridiculous 6x damage enhance with his active. The long cooldown does make him somewhat awkward to use as an assist skill and, in general, being only a single-turn buff makes it inferior to the Jewel Princesses.
Last time, Rukia was one of the best overall leads in the game. However, that was in a time when any decent ATK multiplier combined with an RCV boost was considered amazing; nowadays, we obviously expect more. The lack of an HP modifier isn’t necessarily a death knell, but that weakness does have to be taken in context; namely, Rukia makes you work a bit too hard for her 100x multiplier considering that lack of tankiness. Compare her to Yomi Dragon and her deficiencies become more obvious. As with Yomi Dragon, you can address her weaknesses with high-HP subs, assist skill stat bonuses and HP badges in single-player, but she’s significantly more difficult to activate. It’s possible Rukia can do more damage by stacking TPAs and water combos, but Yomi Dragon doesn’t exactly have damage problems, either. That’s not to say she isn’t a great lead — she’s clearly still very strong — but her buffs weren’t enough to regain her elite status.
As a sub, I find her to be slightly intriguing. She’s one of three water cards with at least two skill boosts and two SBRs (Summer Metatron and Alrescha) and the only with three SBRs. This makes her a good sub candidate for those looking for SBRs for their Meridionalis farming teams. As a normal sub, the addition of a TPA makes her a much more serious consideration than she used to be, it’s just unfortunate that her three SBRs will largely go to waste.
Yamamoto is an amazing card, especially on NA where we lack fire farming leads like Dogiragon and Drakhlist, but I struggled with whether I should call him essential or not. In the end, I decided not to.
His foremost use is as a farming lead. A 100x activation for a mere row match is one of the best returns on effort for a leader skill in the game. This means he can use row-generating actives/inherits like Laila and Chad and still do copious amounts of damage. These types of actives also have a benefit over full-board changers like Surtr in that there’s less chance of skyfall combos, making farming runs even quicker, and that you can inherit them onto subs that fit the dungeon at hand. A good example of what he can do can be seen in this Special Descended Rush video.
Considering what NA previously had access to, Cao Cao was probably the best all-around fire farming lead and I think Yamamoto is much better. His biggest downside is bind vulnerability, but I think he has other advantages that more than make up for it. Team building is so much simpler since there’s less reliance on Goemon and Surtr. This in turn makes hitting 100% SBR — which might’ve seemed like a weakness — and skill boost requirements much easier. Yamamoto also has no active reliance which means actives like Chad can be spread over two trash floors. There’s something to be said about Goemon as a fire farming lead, but he’s more proficient at lower-end content since his multiplier is rather low and dancing around one HP can be annoying.
As such, Yamamoto is likely the best fire farming lead on NA, but if we expand the scope beyond this element, he loses some of his luster. If we’re taking accessibility into account, Liu Bei is king. For speed, there’s usually some MZeus or water-based teams that are faster. For all his advantages, and for how much I want him, this is the main reason why I regard Yamamoto as non-essential.
His high multiplier does open the door for certain possibilities, though, particularly when it comes to Ganesha teams. However, even if there’s things like this Linthia clear, it’s still not an improvement on rank farming in Monday dungeon and Mechdragon Rush. One can’t deny the possibilities, though, especially on NA where we lack leads like Dogiragon and Drakhlist, but I can’t give too many bonus points for a slim possibility.
As a regular lead, Yamamoto is pretty good due his activation and multiplier, but, as might be obvious, his lack of tankiness limits his effectiveness in the endgame. He can still clear content like Arena 1 just off the back of his 100x, but that dungeon hasn’t been an endgame benchmark for quite some time. There are some fun things you can do with Scarlet and Tsubaki, but that’s really about it.
As a sub, he has some potential due to his awakenings, but in general Sanada is a better inheritance base. His active does have some value, being one of four on NA that has a combo boost attached to an orb change (the others being Meridionalis, Kundali and Noctis) and being one of six inheritable combo boost actives (Kushinada and Acala). I don’t see him being all that useful in this capacity, but it’s worth thinking about.
I debated for a long time whether to give Aizen an S+. On one hand, I feel it should be reserved for something completely insane like Kinnikuman, On the other, I felt that this is about as good as it gets for NA. Well, perhaps naively, I want to believe NA can still get something better than this so I gave him a mere S, but I want to stress that I feel that he’s better than most other special REM S grades I’ve given out in the past.
I think Aizen’s strength pretty much speaks for itself. His damage is insane, giving a flat 36x for dark cards and topping out at 576x for two dark crosses. The 4x RCV bonus means you’ll almost always heal to full even if your entire party isn’t dark/water. While he brings no offensive awakenings, he pretty much covers any utility you’d want, perhaps the most important being bind immunity paired with the bind recovery awakening he received from the YamaP buffs. Even his active is great, essentially being another Hero orb change. His biggest weakness is the lack of an HP multiplier which definitely prevents him from being on par with current top leads like Ra Dragon and Kaede, but his other strengths make him a worthy candidate in spite of that. I think this casual solo Arena 3 video by LUKA demonstrates the extent of his power well. What particularly impressed me was the ability to clear trash floors with a single dark TPA. Water TPAs were sufficient for clearing Sopdet. The ease of activation in general also means he could dedicate an active slot to a damage shield and not miss a beat against Noah Dragon.
As a sub, he won’t see much use as a base sub due to his orb change not matching his main element. There’s something to be said about a bind immune card with two skill boosts and an SBR as a pure inheritance base, but there are reasonable alternatives in water. His active is awkward as well; while a Hero-style orb change is still great, you won’t get any inheritance stat bonus on dark teams. Although it does make a nice combo with a Zuoh board.
That Urahara system went nowhere fast, didn’t it? With co-op and Liu Bei, there’s not much point to solo farming teams anymore. If for whatever reason you’re still looking for such a team, Urahara is vastly improved from last year and is a good choice for low-effort farming. However, don’t let the new maximum ATK multiplier fool you. He has the same multiplier at three jammers post-buff so for most floors you’re still getting the same 25x output. The ability to burst more than twice as much at 56.25x with two additional jammers does have it’s value, though, and makes it worthwhile to integrate some type of jammer generator like Algedi. The two additional rows are also great and give a base system team 16 rows (up from eight). The YamaP buffs also addressed a huge weakness in skill binds meaning his dungeon repertoire has expanded greatly.
As a normal lead, I just don’t see the payoff since a 56.25x ATK multiplier with no tankiness is way behind the curve. That level of firepower is tolerable for low-effort farming, but even at his maximum multiplier it’s hard to consider him even on the level of “glass cannon”, even after taking his rows into consideration. This problem is further complicated by the lack of good jammer support, making his maximum multiplier difficult and inconsistent to reach. It also means that you’re reliant on dupes to fill out a respectable team.
As a sub, he’s actually fairly respectable. A wood row on a four-turn cooldown is a great rate and serves as a strong inheritance base. He compares favorably to Leeza, although he lacks her upper potential due to having rows rather than killers. His blind resists are fairly useless, but if the orb darken mechanic (like in MAthena) becomes more commonplace, they could have some value.
Last time I praised Toshiro for his ability to facilitate easy co-op farming with Neptune Dragon leads. Well, like the Urahara system, that went nowhere fast, especially after the introduction of the much easier to access Liu Bei-Dios farming teams. However, water once again has some potential in that department. One of the main weaknesses of any farming team that relies on full-board orb changers is the time wasted via skyfall matches and the ensuing elongated attack animations. Water has two of the best leads to combat that weakness in Meridionalis (no skyfalls) and Khepri (only match five or more). This means Toshiro’s board change is inherently more valuable than, say, Dios or Surtr for those that prioritize speed. It’s unfortunate that Toshiro loses ground due to the haste animation, but the skill charge does have some value in team building and the time loss is far outweighed by the time saved by Meri or Khepri. This gap only widens when you consider Toshiro can — and almost always will — be inherited.
As a hardcore farmer, I value this card extremely high, but that won’t be the case for most players. Water-based farming is a luxury that not many people will want even if they can technically afford it. Time saving is of utmost importance for hardcore farmers, but the majority will be fine with the ALB teams they’ve already invested in. The requirement of multiple Toshiros, BOdins and Sarasvatis along with support pieces like BMeta puts reaching Toshiro’s true potential beyond the reach of many. Even if you’re fine with running a suboptimal water team, you’re still probably better off sticking with Liu Bei if only for the ease of finding a co-op partner. For this reason I refrained from giving this card a S grade overall; I don’t want to mislead people into thinking he’s a must-have, but he can be extremely valuable to certain types of players.
As a lead, he used to be a somewhat reasonable replacement for Neptune Dragon as a farming lead, but with no upgrades to his multipliers he’s become average at best. With MP being relatively easy to access now, you’re better off just buying said Neptune Dragon instead. As a non-farming sub, I don’t see where he’d be useful. He guarantees a full Neptune Dragon activation, but it seems like you’d rather run a quicker, more flexible active skill in that slot.
Kenpachi was the troll gold last time and unfortunately remains so even after a round of buffs. His awakenings buffs have made him tolerable as a base sub, but if you exclude his jammer resists he really only has five effective awakenings (although jammer resists now have some additional niche value in resisting bomb orbs). For a card with mediocre awakenings to be valuable, their active really has to do some work which is not the case here. There are almost no situations where you’d want both active parts on the same turn — maybe on a match-five team against perseverance? — and even if you value the flexibility, the cooldown is still too costly.
I speculated last time he could see use as an assist skill on dark match-five teams, but at this point only Yomi Dragon is relevant. I have a hard time imagining where he’d be better than either version of Okuninushi’s active even if the orb enhance could help with activation in some spots. He looks especially bad compared to Awoken Okuni who will contribute around 66% more HP via the assist skill stat bonus, a stat that Yomi Dragon needs much more than Kenpachi’s excellent ATK. This doesn’t mean he can’t see some fringe use, but considering the other options, it will be more out of necessity rather than choice.
Post-buff, Ulquiorra is basically another Jewel Princess, meaning he’s pretty damned good if only for his active. He’s arguably a better sub, too; although he doesn’t have their bind recovery awakening, the four dark OEs make him a better offensive option.
The only downside is that there are very few places where his active does good work. Yomi Dragon is the obvious team, but beyond that, there aren’t any relevant teams that want to go all-in on dark OEs. However, since his buff is a bit stronger than Silk’s (1.2x per OE vs. 1.15x) he’ll only need a single Eschamali to give a substantial damage enhance (2.4x) so he’s still a decent consideration — better than Awoken Loki if you don’t need the haste — even for non-OE-based teams that would run her.
As a leader, he has a no skyfall clause which could have some time saving use for farming if dark ever gets a full-board orb change, but he’ll still be inferior to leads like Awoken Ichigo and Akuma Shogun due to his pitiful ATK multiplier. However, I have used Acala — who only has a 1.5x ATK multiplier — for farming trash with Liu Bei so Ulquiorra’s 2x isn’t completely useless in that regard. That’s all hypothetical, though, so until then he has no practical use.
As a sub, he’s actually not bad. Bind immunity is always a plus and a skill boost and time extend are always welcome. Sadly, since he’s so OE-focused, he doesn’t have a good home. Like Eschamali, his OEs are good, especially on teams that are short of 100% enhanced skyfall, but unlike Escha his active prevents him from being universally good. Since his cooldown is so long it’s clunky to inherit over, meaning that unless your team is already OE-focused, his active will be quite poor. However, we already went over that the only good OE-focused team is Yomi Dragon, but lacking god typing he doesn’t qualify. It’s a bit unfortunate, but he just doesn’t have a good home at the moment.
For me, Grimmjow is the most anticipated card of any NA collab ever. Having a multi-target nuke that hits for 250x ATK is unprecedented; the previous high was Awoken Vritra’s 200x. He also has no secondary effect meaning his animation time is at the bare minimum (unlike something like Vritra that has an additional dark enhance) which means his cooldown will also be at a minimum (only six turns), potentially relaxing skill boost requirements for any team he’s inherited on. Slapping his skill on a high-ATK multiboosted card means he can do over a million damage; on a maxed out Unit-13 he can hit about 1.1 million in co-op. Also, unlike Vritra, he deals light damage, giving us a fantastic option against dark monsters. He just opens the door to so many buttoning possibilities that were previously impossible on NA; for some that could be something like Monday, but for me the ability to full-button Thieves’ Den in co-op is the greatest allure.
That being said, he has almost no use outside buttoning. As a leader he’s pretty unimpressive with no amazing water leader to pair with to carry his lackluster multipliers (although he can pair with wood’s Balboa, Artemis and Summer GSonia, it’s still not great). As a sub, the lack of a secondary effect only serves to bite him in the ass, almost requiring an inherited skill. However, his awakenings aren’t good enough to justify the effort.
I struggled with what grade to give Grimmjow, but unlike something like Toshiro, I’m going to give him an overall S despite many players not having an explicit use for him. I think every veteran player should have a button team of some sort; and I mean for things like guerrillas, not necessarily Monday or something. At worst, at max level, no ATK eggs, and full HP, Grimmjow can do a enough damage (81,250) to button Super King Carnival and with a bit more investment he can do so much more. This may not be a priority for many people, but if you’re rolling Bleach anyways and get some of these, I highly suggest keeping them and putting at least some minimal effort into them.
Last year I said Orihime was the silver with the most potential. I felt that the combined effects of her active — a 35% damage shield and three hearts — worked well together since when you’re in a position where you’d want a shield, chances are you’d want to heal as well (imagine a turn leading into a DQ Hera floor). She wouldn’t see any widespread use, but could be useful for newer players in certain spots.
Well, that was wrong, mostly because Chad turned out to be one of the best silver assist skills in the game, but also because the game shifted towards tanky leads. I still think my assessment is correct in a vacuum, but relative to where the game has shifted a 35% shield means almost nothing. Either your team is already tanky enough or you want something with at least 50%reduction to take the really big hits. In short, this active is missing the impact to see any realistic play.
I guess there is some consideration to use her on developing heart-cross teams, like maybe on Ronove to cover light, but that’s really pushing it. Especially since there have been many other recent collab silvers that are much better in a similar, heart-generating role. She’s still one of the shorter actives to generate at least three hearts which is worth consideration, but, to be honest, she’d be much better in this capacity if the just dropped the shield and became a bad wood Moogle.
A marginal silver last time, there’s not much reason to take the same card with no buffs seriously this time. What made Ishida barely passable was his active, even if it did a poor Indian 2 impression. What makes him nigh unusable is that his already bad awakenings got relatively worse. Nowadays, much more is expected from a card’s awakenings in both quantity and quality — even from a silver — and it’s hard to justify dead weight. He’s still able to be used as an assist skill, but this type of active isn’t all that effective in that capacity. Although I guess there’s something to be said about overwriting unfavorable skyfall buffs. In this respect, there are only three other cards on NA that only buff light skyfall (June Eschamali, Orpharion, Awoken Apollo; two more if you count Santa Claus and Deighk). However, even if you really, really want to overwrite a skyfall buff, I have a hard time seeing where running this card would be worth it.
Chad is easily one of the best overall silvers in the game. He’s actually a great example of what I now consider to be an S-grade silver: perhaps his uses are narrow, but where he’s used he’s incredibly strong and near-irreplaceable. Even for people that don’t see themselves using him, I strongly suggest you save at least one.
Almost all of his value will come as an assist skill for fire-based speedfarming teams. Fire had been losing ground in farming prowess, but was revitalized recently with cards like Yamamoto. There are several problems with full-board orb changers in fire — i.e. Goemon and Surtr — namely that they have crap awakenings, can’t be used as assist skills and that they’re slow since there’s a high chance of skyfall matches from a fully cleared board. Chad addresses these problems, being inheritable and only having a fraction of the skyfall chance. Furthermore, his skill can be used over two floors that only require a single row to clear which is realistic with a multiplier like Yamamoto’s.
There are some other, narrower uses for his skill. Ideally you’d rather have Vaan or Kaoru to setup combo boards for full-board changes like Dios due to their lower cooldown, but Chad can be used as a replacement assuming enough skill boosts. There’s also the possibility of use in long ranking dungeons — like on Shiva- or Hephaestus Dragon teams — since the orbs are in known positions and can be easily manipulated to be used over multiple floors.
As far as legit, everyday uses, there are almost none. Any three-awakening card is almost useless to begin with, but the lack of either skill boost or SBR is almost impossible to justify as a base sub. His long cooldown, especially when you factor inheritance, means any normal orb changer is a better choice. Collab silvers are rarely good in multiple places, though, and I still think he warrants an S grade for his farming virtues.
As a sub, Yoruichi is close to being a wood Lu Bu. She has the same suicide-style damage enhance, but instead of buffing devils for 3x ATK for a single turn, she buffs wood for 2.5x for two turns. Her awakenings actually compare quite favorably for a silver, too, really only missing Lu Bu’s bind utility. The question is whether this is actually valuable or not.
In a sense, she is if only due to scarcity, being the only inheritable one-HP suicide skill at silver and one of eight overall. HP threshold leaders are antiquated, but going down to one HP is still potentially valuable for teams like Dios, Goemon and DMeta. The rise of Ganesha has made Folklore — who requires 5% HP or less to activate — relevant as well. This also activates Grudge Strike-type skills like Vritra, Juza and Grimmjow. So there is some marginal value in this sense even if there are better alternatives.
Her damage enhance is also fairly respectable post-buff even when compared to the Jewel Princesses. However, the suicide part of the skill can make it difficult to utilize when preemptives enter the equation. I still think the entire package is solid for a silver, but it’ll take more than this to receive an A grade.
Sadly, there are very few cards in the game worse than Rangiku. She brings an assortment of utility functions, none of which are coherent. Her most valuable attribute might be her delay, but there are plenty of other options, many of which aren’t so costly to skill up. Her shortened cooldown does little to remedy her flaw of her lackluster active, although I guess it was nice they kept her max skill level the same.
I went into this review extremely excited for what was to come, but as I continued writing I found my excitement becoming tempered as I realized the limitations of many of the cards. In the end, though, I found enough good points about the gold eggs to once again be excited and I feel this REM is at least as good as Final Fantasy. Of course, the value of the REM ultimately depends on the rates, but judging from this post on the subreddit, they aren’t all that bad. This is about as good as it gets for a collab and for those that are running out of things to get from the standard REM, this is not a bad use of stones. Just remember that the Heroine REM should be hitting soon (and if KR is any indicator, so is the GFE REM).