I thought I’d taunt the Fate/Grand Order players a bit with today’s Waifu Wednesday.
The joke’s on me, of course; having not played the game for a while and come back to it just in time for a drop rate up on the extremely popular Jeanne Alter, I burned 90+ Saint Quartz on summons only to receive more Boudicas than I know what to do with and not even a whiff of Jeanne. Serves me right for pulling Gilgamesh on my first draw back when his event ran shortly after the game launched in the West.
Anyway, let’s take a look at Jeanne Alter today, and why she might be so popular among the fanbase, particularly those under the thrall of the gacha!
Fanart by Ayuayu (Shouyu no Sato) (Pixiv)
For those less familiar with Fate as a whole, firstly, obligatory “read the visual novel” comment, and secondly, a couple of concepts are worth bearing in mind.
Key to Fate is the idea of a Servant: an existence created from a Heroic Spirit, which are, in turn, based on real-world historical or legendary figures. As Fate/stay night taught us, Heroic Spirits aren’t necessarily the result of someone’s heroic deeds in life and don’t even have to be “real”; they can come about as a result of appreciating someone’s work many years after their life, or even be created simply as a result of stories being passed down in a particular society. In many cases their original inspiration isn’t necessarily even a “hero” at all; this explains the existence of characters such as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, William Shakespeare and the like as Servants in Fate/Grand Order, happily existing alongside established heroic legends such as Lancelot, Heracles and, of course, everyone’s favourite genderbent legendary English king.
Fanart by Nekoi Mie (Twitter)
So what’s an Alter Servant? It’s actually relatively self-explanatory from the name: it represents an alternative aspect of their more common form. This is often interpreted as a “darker” take on the typically rather colourful and distinctive Heroic Spirits of the franchise — for example, in the original Fate/stay night, Saber Alter is clad in dark purple-blue armour rather than the brighter blue and white seen in her usual form, and her personality is cold and ruthless rather than the refined and dignified but somewhat warm character she exudes in her regular form.
In other words, an Alter might represent a character’s hidden darker tendencies, the side they didn’t show to the public — or perhaps simply an alternative interpretation of their legend. They’re not necessarily “evil”… though given the nature of Heroic Spirits in general, there is something of a tendency for them to lean in that direction, and this is certainly the case when it comes to Jeanne Alter.
Fanart by Maya G (Pixiv)
Jeanne Alter is actually introduced early in Fate/Grand Order’s main story as a boss character in the Orleans episode. Unlike the situation with Saber in Fate/stay night, Jeanne’s Alter hasn’t replaced her original form and instead exists alongside her “source material”, who fights alongside the player and their party. This is because Jeanne Alter was created via somewhat different means than usual — rather than being a “corruption” (for want of a better word) of an existing Servant, she was created as a separate entity through use of the Holy Grail by Gilles de Rais, who was grieving and eventually driven to madness as a result of the execution of the original, mortal, Jeanne d’Arc.
In terms of the Fate universe’s underlying “mechanics”, Jeanne Alter is an Avenger-class servant, in contrast to her counterpart’s Ruler class. This is because her creation and summoning was born from de Rais’ madness and prejudice rather than Jeanne’s own enduring heroic spirit, and as such she represents a view of what she “could” be according to de Rais’ rather than simply an alternative aspect of herself; she was created as an embodiment of a desire for vengeance, in this case against France for its “betrayal” of de Rais and the original Jeanne d’Arc.
Fanart by Numaguro (Tomokun0808) (Pixiv)
Jeanne Alter and her Heroic Spirit form have a somewhat peculiar relationship with one another. Jeanne comes to regard her Alter almost as a brash, poorly behaved little sister, while Alter herself finds herself coming to enjoy being a nuisance to her original form. While one would hesitate to describe their relationship as “friendly”, there’s definitely an element of healthy rivalry there; Alter in particular is keen to surpass Jeanne in terms of ability, even as original Jeanne consistently remains somewhat modest about her abilities and achievements, preferring to be treated just as a normal person than a “Saint”.
In terms of her mechanical implementation in Fate/Grand Order, Jeanne Alter is popular for a number of reasons. Notably, she has a very high attack power, making her eminently suitable for quickly and efficiently dealing damage to tough foes. As an Avenger-class Servant, she deals 1.1x more damage than normal, and is particularly strong against Rulers (of which original Jeanne is one) and Berserkers… though everyone is strong against Berserkers, given their nature. Her only real weakness is the Moon Cancer class, which, at the time of writing, is exclusive to the event-only servant BB.
Fanart by Naguri (Pixiv)
Jeanne’s Noble Phantasm is a powerful 10-hit attack against a single enemy that has the ability to prevent them from buffing themselves, and at higher overcharge levels can even inflict additional Curse damage. It’s quite easy to get this fired off, too, since one of her passive skills charges her gauge by 4% every turn. Her active skills focus very much on dealing damage; her first increases her critical damage and ability to absorb critical stars, her second buffs all her allies’ attack power (doubly so if they have the Dragon trait) and her third increases her Buster card power, makes her temporarily invincible… and deals a bit of damage to herself. Oh, well, nobody’s perfect.
It’s pretty easy to see why Jeanne is popular in both her incarnations, so with that in mind I wish everyone rolling for her in the current banner the very best of luck. Don’t spend too much!
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