BF Squad Building Guide 2021
Welcome to the Brave Frontier Squad Building Guide 2020! This guide aims to help players learn squad building progressively to cater to ALL skill and experience levels of players in the game.
I place heavy emphasis on Chapter 3 because it forms the solid foundation we need before we even start to build the squad. Players who lack this foundation end up with plenty of misconceptions about squad building.
This guide expects the reader to be familiar with the basic features of units (such as BB, SBB, UBB, DBB, ES, and SP) and how to unlock them. Refer to the BF Progression Guide or the wiki for more information.
BB – Brave Burst
SBB – Super Brave Burst
UBB – Ultimate Brave Burst
DBB – Dual Brave Burst
NAtk – Normal Attack
LS – Leader Skill
ES – Extra Skill
SP – Skill Points (Enhancements)
ST – Single Target
RT – Random Target
AOE – Area of Effect (Targets All Foes)
KO – Knocked Out (Death)
[1.1] The Essence of Squad Building
In essence, squad building can be divided into 4 main steps:
Specify the mission.
Identify the effects needed.
Build a squad around those effects.
Optimise the squad.
[Specify the mission] This is the most important step in squad building because the mission will dictate what kind of effects we use. Without this step, we cannot even build a squad because we would not know what effects to use.
[Identify the effects needed] This is the part where new players find a bit challenging at first since there are so many different effects in the game. Throughout this guide, we will be talking about how to go about choosing and prioritising which effects to use for a given mission.
[Build a squad around those effects] This is the fun part of squad building because you get to apply your knowledge and put it together into a squad. However, it is very important that we do this step correctly with as few misconceptions as possible, as we discuss later.
[Optimise the squad] Many players are focused on wanting to make “the best” squad. This step is only possible after specifying the exact mission and identifying the effects needed. Then, you will be ready to apply more advanced knowledge to push your squad to the limit.
[1.2] Introduction to Effects
Effects may come in the form of a useful effect (such as hp restoration), or a boost to a certain parameter or effect (such as attack boost or spark damage boost) and they form the building blocks of squad building. Effects may come from any source: LS, ES, SP, BB/SBB/UBB, etc.
As of 2020, the entire squad building process is about using precise effects revolving around the mission. Having a strong foundation in effects will not only allow us to build good squads, but will also give us very important skills such as:
being able to identify the good units from the bad ones
being able to pick the correct SP options for units according to what they are used for
Effects can be broadly classified into major and minor categories. These are the major categories that are present in almost every squad:
Gauge Effects (BB gauge, OD gauge, etc.)
Damage Boost Effects
Damage Reduction Effects
Status Ailments and Debuffs
Multiple Activations/ Actions
[1.3] In-Battle Actions (Part 1)
Apart from effects, there are also various different actions to perform during a battle. It is key to know all of them since most of them will be our sources of effects during the battle.
[2.1] Effects List
HP Restoration Effects
BB Gauge Effects
OD Gauge Effects
Damage Boosting Effects
There are 3 main damage boosting effects:
Spark (when two or more hits land together)
Damage Reduction Effects
Additional Damage (a.k.a. DoT)
Multiple Activations/ Actions
There are a ton of other effects in the game. This chapter only serves as a summary of the key effects. We will revisit some of these effects again, and more, in more detail in Chapter 5.
[2.2] Active VS Passive Effects
With so many different effects in the game, it is important that we know how to stack them. There are two main kinds of effects: active effects and passive effects. Active effects are effects which require activation. This may come in the form of a BB/SBB/UBB/DBB usage, or a certain condition met (such as x amount of damage taken). On the other hand, passive effects are effects that are always there and do not need any activation.
Leader Skills, Extra Skills, Spheres, etc. can have either active or passive effects depending on whether or not there is an activation is required.
Buff Stacking Rules In General
All passive effects stack with each other
Active effects do not stack with other active effects of the same kind
Active effects stack with passive effects
BB/SBB effects do not stack with other BB/SBB effects of the same kind
UBB/DBB effects do not stack with other UBB/DBB effects of the same kind
BB/SBB effects stack with UBB/DBB effects
For BB/SBB or UBB/DBB buffs that do not stack, the most recently applied buff will override the previously existing buffs
Programmed Random Occurrence (a.k.a. Proc) effects are instant effects which may have a certain probability to activate. They can be activated multiple times a turn.
[3.1] In-Battle Actions (Part 2)
The actions we use in a battle fall into two main categories:
To deal damage
To provide buffs (effects)
[Damage Output] Depending on context, either the SBB or the DBB can be the main source of damage.
[Buff Provision] Since UBB/DBB effects stack with BB/SBB effects, we usually use both BB/SBB activations and UBB/DBB activations to provide the buffs to the squad. DBB activations also come with a certain Synergy Effect that may be very important for certain missions. Bonded BB/SBB activations are used situationally.
When more damage reduction is needed
When single target (ST) damage is needed
For a niche method of dealing damage
When deliberately not using BB/SBB/UBB for certain reasons
As a last resort when the gauges are not filled
[3.2] Unit Roles
Unit roles are generally divided into the following:
Focusing the damage output onto certain units
Covering the remaining buffs needed from the remaining units
Without considering any passive or active damage boosting effects, there are some units who can still deal much more damage (on SBB) than others. This is because these units have multiple attacks on their SBB. Units used for their damage are called nukers. (We will discuss more detailed features of nukers in the later chapters.)
We have learnt that nukers activating their SBB not only does huge damage but also provides buffs for the squad, meaning that they also provide some form of utility to the squad. However, these buffs are usually insufficient, not to mention that the activation of UBB is also needed for buffs. Therefore, we need other units to cover the remaining buffs. Units used mainly for their buffs are called supports.
The support role is just a general role to describe any unit who provides useful buffs to the squad. There are several subcategories of the support role which you can explore later on during squad building, such as (not exhaustive):
Damage Reducer (a.k.a. Damage Mitigator)
Notice how unit roles are dependent on how they are used, rather than what they are. This is because there is no fixed definition that can be applied for all units, for all players.
[3.3] Squad Building Principles
The following are the fundamental principles of squad building. They provide the solid foundation that players need in order to build optimised squads, whether in early, mid, or late game.
Since there are a ton of unique missions and bosses in the game, it is impossible, in principle, to build a squad for everything. Having a specific focus will dictate:
what effects we put into the squad, and,
in which direction to optimise.
Without a specific focus, the squad loses its direction and purpose, and nothing makes sense anymore.
Building a good squad is only half the story. Knowing how to use it is just as important. These two skills are like two sides of the same coin, you cannot have one without the other. We will discuss both squad building and battle techniques progressively over the 3 difficulty levels: basic, intermediate, and advanced.
Opening Up Options
Having more options to work with opens up room for more optimised setups, and possibly alternative approaches which can
be the key in clearing a mission,
outperform your opponents in the case of PvP contents, or,
simply be a better squad overall.
Conversely, restricting your options also means closing the doors to potentially better and more optimised setups.
This is why it's extremely important to be flexible with how we assign unit roles (as seen in Chapter 3.1) because having fixed nuker/support labels for units will only restrict our squad building options.
[4.1] Typical Squad Requirements (Early Game)
Requirements For Nukers
At least 2 (non-RT) attacks on SBB.
(Possible) Requirements For Effects
[4.2] Squad Building Techniques (Basic)
When first starting out and deciding which units to put into the squad, you may do the following:
Put 2-3 Nukers into the squad.
Check what buffs you are missing.
Fill in the remaining 2- 3 slots with support units who can cover those missing buffs.
Ensure that at least 1 unit has a good LS to be used as the leader.
Incorporation of Various Sources of Effects
When trying to fulfill effect requirements, pay attention to ALL sources of effects. This includes:
[4.3] Battle Techniques (Basic)
Spark Optimisation: Basic Method
Spark optimisation is key for damage output. At the basic level, I recommend using Project Sparkle as a tool to output a good order and positioning for the units in the squad.
When attacking, you should always use ×1 speed. ×3 speed messes up the movement of units and thus messes up the sparking of the units in the squad. You may click ×3 speed after your units have started their (last) attack animation.
Reading The Wiki
This is not exactly a battle technique but is very relevant to battles. Bosses run on mechanics, so you need to know what mechanics the bosses have and perform the necessary actions accordingly. Alternatively, you may also seek guides from social media.
In most missions, you will have access to a set of items, either your own items that you bring, or an issued set of items for that mission. Use these items to your advantage.
[4.4] Squad for Farming
Zel, Karma, and Item Farming
For maximum zel, karma, and/or item drops, we use the following:
Drop rate boost.
Units with lots of hits.
Enemies in quests have a maximum amount of materials that it can drop which can be easily reached just by having enough hits on the units in the squad.
For example, a squad consisting of 5 Geodes is enough to hit the maximum amount of karma drops in Souls Training Ground.
Parades refers to Metal Parade, Jewel Parade, Imp Parade, and Summoner’s Training Camp (with exp tonics). These dungeons are focused on speed.
Requirements for maximum speed:
Only 1 unit attacking (the rest on guard)
Fast animation (such as Mifune)
That unit must be at the top left corner if moving type
Takes 1 turn to kill enemies
One way to kill the enemies in one turn is by having Mifune have a full BB gauge at each turn’s start.
An example of such a setup is:
With this setup, Mifune has a 34 BC × 50% = 17 BC requirement to fill his BB gauge. The setup also fills 17 BC in total, at the start of the turn.
Ensure that you have enough free unit capacity to be able to do a full 30 min parade run without interruptions.
[4.5] Squad for Arena, VA, and Colosseum (Basic)
The nature of Arena-like contents is imbalanced in such a way that the damage dealt by units activating SBB is much greater than the damage they can take, ignoring damage reduction factors. This makes survival more important* than damage output.
Effects to Have
The opponent is also likely to have KO resistance negation too which calls for the second layer of defense which we will discuss in Chapter 6.5: Squad for VA and Colosseum (Intermediate).
* In reality, Arena is so easy that you do not need much survival at all. You can optimise your squad to normal attack and kill the enemy on turn 1-2.
[4.6] Squad for Frontier Hunter (Basic)
Key support effects needed in an FH squad:
Spark Damage Boosts
Critical Damage Boosts
Twice Activation and/or Extra Action
BB Fill (instant)
Usage of a UBB
The main source of damage will be the nukers activating SBB. Since UBB buffs stack with SBB buffs, we will need at least one unit using a UBB to provide as many damage boosting effects as possible. Examples of such units are Zedus, Andaria, Ravea, and Armaiti.
In order to use BB/SBB/UBBs when attacking each wave of enemies, we must be able to fill our BB gauges without attacking the enemy. This can be done via
sphere/elgif/ES/SP/LS with BB gauge effects
using non-attacking BBs with BB gauge effects
BC drop fills from the previous wave of enemies
Similarly, we will need to fill the OD gauge without attacking the enemy. Thankfully, OD gauge does fill by 500 per turn, regardless of actions done that turn. This means that stalling the turns simply by guarding will eventually fill the OD gauge to full. However, this may be too slow for some players. Therefore, they may use a non-attacking BB with an OD fill (instant) effect.
Lastly, we need to make sure that we have a Leader Skill with Spark Damage, Critical Damage, and/or EWD boosts. If your nukers or support units have such a Leader Skill, use them as leaders. Else, you will need to add in a unit with such a Leader Skill.
Putting It Together
We now know all the ingredients to make a basic FH squad. Put as many nukers as you can into the squad, while ensuring that all the key effects mentioned earlier are present. The FH squad will typically have the following structures:
4 nukers + 2 supports
3 nukers + 3 supports
[4.7] Misconceptions and Bad Habits
Before we move on to the intermediate level of squad building, let’s make sure that we do not carry over any misconceptions with us that will hinder the squad building process, thus impeding our success.
Misconception #1: Mono-elemental squads are always the best option
The priority when squad building is optimisation instead of following arbitrary themes. Mono-elemental squads are only used when:
There is an elemental restriction.
The most optimised squad happens to be a mono-elemental squad.
There is a heavy punishment.
Misconception #2: Buff overlaps are bad
Buff overlaps are inevitable. Check what you're missing, rather than worry about having buff overlaps. The most infamous worry is worrying about having more than 1 damage mitigator. As long as you have enough nukers in the squad (like 4-5), then it doesn't matter whether you have 2, 3, 4, or even 6 damage mitigators in the squad. This applies to every other buff.
Bad habit #1: Keeping 6 mono squads and reusing them
This can be avoided if you have a solid understanding of focus, one of the fundamental principles in squad building. You should be building squads based on the mission, rather than based on themes.
Bad habit #2: Thinking about "combos" without context
These thoughts/questions include:
Is x unit good with y unit?
Is x sphere/elgif good for y unit?
What unit will be good for x sphere/elgif?
What sphere/elgif will be good for x unit?
Squad building relies on the context first, and then the interaction between your units/spheres/elgifs.
Bad habit #3: Fixing spheres/elgifs onto units
Spheres and elgifs should remain as fluid and movable as possible to maximise the number of options that we have access to.
Guides by fellow summoners
Tools and resources
Resonance Effects section removed
Chapter 4.7 condensed
Chapter 2.9 condensed
Chapter 2: Effects moved to Part 2, and in its place is a new Chapter 2: Effects (Summary)
Chapter 5 moved to Part 2
Chapter 6 and 7 moved to Part 3
Quick Glossary moved to Preface
Essence of Squad Building moved to Chapter 1
Active VS Passive effects moved from Chapter 1.3 to Chapter 2.2
Preface and contents updated to reflect the new structure
In-Battle Actions tabulated
You may contact me on Discord at Gorochu#2605 if you have any comments/questions 🙂