What is a Daily Margin Statement and How to Read it?

Why bother learning anything with a hive mind?

[ Author’s Note: The daughters of Ra are a series of clones connected by a hivemind-lite called the Collective. For more info, read my expansion post]
Laura entered the holograph room and closed the door behind her. The fluorescent lights glinted off the electronic glass that covered the floor, walls and even the ceiling. The room was empty save for a small school desk and a chair. They had this room built so Mira could take her classes remotely. Ra had always insisted on traditional education for her daughters.
Laura straightened her sapphire coat with her upper arms while her lower ones fussed with the hem. She couldn’t remember the last time she was dressed so formally. Her tail kept twitching from side to side. She had asked Nimra to attend the meeting, her name was on the school records anyway, but Nimra insisted her to attend instead. As Mira’s “Decade-older sibling” (or Dex) Laura was directly responsible for Mira. Besides, Nimra wasn’t even in the same star system right now, so Laura was more relevant.
“System, call Principal Yymtrite of the Regibus Academy, Oraceon space colony,” said Laura.
She tapped a finger on Mira’s school desk and pointed at a corner of the room. The desk got up on its wheels and dutifully parked itself in the corner.
The call connected and sharp holographic projections filled the room. The walls turned a cream color, complete with glass windows and framed certificates and honors. At the far end of the room, behind a seemingly wooden desk sat a quagrigroot woman in flowing black robes. Her face was long and triangular, topped with three 3-inch nasal pipes that rhythmically dilated as she breathed. Webs of wrinkles spread around her glassy black eyes and thin toothless mouth.
“Please, take a seat,” said Principal Yymtrite, her brow furrowed a bit.
Laura snapped her fingers and the chair followed Laura to the desk and she sat down.
Foot face. Old hag. Principal Bag Pipes, and a slew of other names came to mind; things the Collective must have learned from Mira. Laura pushed them out of mind.
“Principal Yymtrite, I am Laura, Mira’s guardian.”
“There is a Nimra listed here as her mother. Aren’t you too young to be her parent?”
“Oh, no, Mira is my niece,” she lied. “Nimra is my older sister. She passed away a few years ago and I have been looking after Mira and her younger sister since.”
“How unfortunate. If memory serves, Nimra was an alumnus of ours. How did it happen?”
“She had been working for the Ignisian government. They didn’t tell us what happened.”
“My deepest condolences. However, life goes on and we must now turn to the matter of her daughter.”
“Have her grades been falling?”
“On the contrary, she has some of the highest grades in her level.”
“Then what appears to be the problem?”
The Principal leaned forward on her elbows. “You see, Miss Laura, Regibus Academy is a traditional school. Some may call our methods orthodox or even obsolete but we believe tradition is the foundation we build each new generation on. Mira’s grades are exemplary, but for us, class participation, attendance, taking notes, doing homework, everything is equally important. Her teachers complain that she doesn’t pay attention in class, never engages in the ongoing discussions or ever raises her hand to answer questions.”
“Mira is a shy child,” hardly. “Perhaps she prefers to quietly listen instead of seeking the spotlight.”
“Shy?” The Principal scoffed, her nasal tubes wriggling. “She can be very outspoken when she wants to be. A number of times teachers tried to engage her in discussion only to be shut down by her. She is vain and disinterested in our methods.“
“She is a teenager. Surely as an educator, you can understand the rebelliousness of teens.”
“I understand, and I also know that Mira is an exceptionally bright student. However, it appears our academy is ill suited to her personality. Perhaps she would benefit from shifting to a more contemporary teaching method, something more self-paced and teacher-free.”
“Wait... you’re kicking her out?”
“We think it’s for the best.”
“This is absurd! Who gets kicked out for getting the highest grades?”
“As I explained, we’re not doing this because of her grades, but despite them.”
“But if her grades are good, it means she’s working hard even if the teachers don’t see it. May be she looks disinterested but she must be busy taking notes.“
“Taking notes?” Yymtrite’s nasal pipes wiggled again. She started tapping on the interfaces overlaid on her desk. “Miss Laura, we have access to all of our students’ notebooks.”
A collection of digital notebook pages appeared on her desk each with the title “Mira D/o Nimra” and a date. There were no lesson notes, but the pages were instead filled with swirling doodles. A five-petaled flower was a recurring center-piece.
“Her lesson notes,” said the principal.
“I... I’ll talk to her. Give her at least till the end of term to change her attitude.”
“Alright, but you have been warned. If the complains against her are not addressed by the end of this term, she will not be joining us for the next one.”
The call ended and the room returned to ita former blank shimmering self. Laura sighed and stood up, snapping her fingers twice. The desk came rolling up to her. She traced a finger along its edge and a drawer slid open to reveal Mira’s tablet. She retrieved it and exited the room.
Outside, a Gynoid was disinfecting the furniture with UV light. This was ‘Aunt Grace.’
“How did the call go?” She asked as Laura exited. “Has Mira been doing well at school?”
“She’s top of her class.”
“That’s lovely.”
“They want to kick her out of the school.”
“What? Ra would be most displeased.”
If she were alive. Sometimes Laura wondered if the old droid had forgotten that Ra had passed away a long time ago. Only the first five of her clones had seen the original, but their memories were enough to cement Ra as the loving maternal figure in the shared consciousness of the Collective.
“Aunt Grace,” said Laura. “Please send Mira to my room.”
“Yes, dear. That girl can be such a handful sometimes. Just like her older sisters.”
That gave Laura pause but by the time she turned around, Aunt Grace had left. Was Laura ever like this too? Her mind returned to the doodles of the five point flower.
She shook her head and climbed onto the capsule elevator, stepping out in her room a moment later. It was a spacious bedroom with a queen bed against one wall, a pair of sofa and a coffee table by the window, a full length mirror on one end and a walk-in wardrobe-changer built into one of the walls.
In a touch-panel by the door, she selected the “meeting” pre-set. The bed folded itself into the wall, a desk rose up from the floor, the sofa, reconfigured themselves into office chairs and rolled themselves to either side of the desk. The touch panel asked ‘Drinks?’. No, not with her under-age sister.
She walked into the wardrobe changer and selected the ‘comfortable’ preset. Mechanical arms began unbuttoning her clothes and helping her out of them.
What was she going to say to Mira anyway? Put up a better facade of paying attention? It wasn’t entirely Mira’s fault. It’s hard to pay attention when you already know the material. Laura knew that all too well herself.
She stepped out wearing a black sleeveless jumpsuit that complimented her orange skin. Picking up Mira’s school tablet, she sat at her desk. It asked for a password. How pointless. They should have used fingerprints, but then again not all species have them. A moment later, Laura tapped in the password. It was a hard to keep a secret from the Collective.
The interface was relatively unfamiliar, but with a little guidance from the Collective, Laura had Mira’s doodles open upfront.
The door to the capsule elevator ding-ed.
“Come in,” said Laura putting aside the tablet with the screen turned off.
The elevator doors opened to admit a decade younger version of Laura wearing a violet tube top and matching pleated skirt. The layout of the room gave her pause.
“Take a seat,” said Laura.
“Am I in trouble?” Mira asked sliding hesitatingly into the seat.
“I just had a call with Principal Yymtrite.”
“What did Principal Bagpipes want with you? Oh...” the Collective filled her in. “She wants to do WHAT? But I am top of my class. She can’t kick me out!”
“She’s the principal and she can do that.”
“Well, good riddance! I don’t see why I have to go to school anyway, considering all of you have already been to it.”
“Mira, school is important. It’s the path Ra has set us on and it is what we have to follow. The Principal acknowledges your high grades but she has had complains of you arguing with the teachers and not paying attention in class.”
“It’s not my fault all the lectures are boring. They never teach anything new.”
“Well technically, the subject matter is new for you.”
“I already know all of it.”
“There is a difference between you knowing it and the Collective knowing it.”
“Ask me anything, I’ll prove it.”
Laura sighed. “That’s not how this works. Obviously I can’t ask you because if I know a fact, you know it too.”
“I rest my case.”
“Aren’t you old enough to understand the limitations of the Collective by now? You didn’t know about my conversation with Principal Yymtrite until I brought it up. Similarly, you won’t know the school’s subject matter until a teacher walks you through it. Besides, we’re not perfect learners. We didn’t retain everything that was taught. Having you work through the material again is helpful to the Collective and us all.”
“That’s a lot of effort you’re asking of me for a very marginal gain. Like I said, they don’t teach any new stuff, which means the Collective already knows everything they have to teach.”
“But there is a difference in that knowledge residing in your brain or in the Collective. Even if there is no new knowledge, this learning process brings all of that knowledge to your brain.”
“And what’s the point of that? If I ever actually need any of the useless stuff they teach in school, I’ll get it anyways from the Collective. So why waste my life learning everything?”
Laura sunk back into her chair, silent for a while. Then she let the words tumble out as they came to her. “Unless you are in imminent danger, the Collective restraints its syncing capabilities. It provides information selectively, only in response to a direct trigger. It will only provide the specific piece of the puzzle that you are actively looking for, but will not provide a solution, even when it can. This is a safety measure designed to prevent the Collective from over-riding your individuality. It also allows you to excel in a branch of knowledge above your sisters. The Collective aids in learning and recall, but it is not a substitute for direct expertise.”
Apparently, Laura wasn’t the first of her sisters to have such a conversation with a younger sibling. The Collective had come to her aid in the debate.
Mira stared back trying to process words that clearly weren’t Laura’s own.
“Let me demonstrate,” said Laura smiling. “You know of the Anubians and the Bastetians?”
“The Anubians... are a race of anthropomorphic canines from the star system Anubis, and the Bastetians... are a similar feline species from the neighbouring star system Bastet. They are part of the Golden Triad: an alliance of three nations that shares a rather primitive obsession with gold. Consequently they hold one of the largest hoards of gold in the entire Sapphire Dominion.”
It was a strange experience to have your own words voiced by someone else. Laura replied, “Now imagine you are a Bastetian diplomat in the year 3712 AC and have just gotten the news that a TT-35 ship flying your colors has been shot down by an Anubian battle cruiser type-C in the Hades star system. What do you do?”
“I... uh....”
“The Collective is silent, isn’t?”
“Yes...”
“Why?”
“Because, it’s a trick question! You don’t know the answer either.“
“Incorrect. This isn’t my limitation. It is the Collective’s.”
Then it dawned on Mira. “Because the question is too open ended. The Collective gives you the puzzle piece you’re looking for, not the whole solution.”
“Precisely. I knew you’d get it eventually. The Collective is useful when you know what you’re looking for. Like what is a TT-35 ship?”
“A transport ship.”
“Correct. What was it used for by the Bastetians in 3600s?”
“Umm... Prisoner transport.”
“Prisoners? Interesting. I think you’re not familiar with the concept of slavery.”
“Slavery? What is... oh! But why would anyone do that?”
“The Bastetian slave trade.”
The word must have triggered a flood of information in Mira’s mind as she stared blankly at Laura processing it.
“That’s horrible!” Said Mira finally. “How can they do that? On a galactic scale!”
“It was long before slavery was universally banned. Now back to the question.”
“It was a slave ship. The TT-35 was primarily used by slavers in the 3600s.”
Laura nodded. “Now for the next piece. What happened between the Anubians and Bastetians in the 3600s?”
“The First Gold War. The Anubians touted it as a War on Slavery, but all historians agree that the two gold loving nations were fighting for control over gold-rich planets. The Bastetians faced a crushing defeat by the turn of the century.”
“Which led to an agreement called?”
“The Treaty of Facasemia.”
“Naturally, one of the most prominent clauses of it were?”
“An end to the Bastetian Slave trade.”
“Which brings us back to the original question in 3712. Armed with all these puzzle pieces, what would Mira do?”
She took a moment. The Collective wasn’t going to help here. This is where true individuality shone through.
“We can’t call to arms,” said Mira. “We just lost to the Anubians less than two decades ago. But not responding makes us look weak. The Anubians could use the incident against us saying it was a slave ship and slavery was banned. But... we can disown the ship. Say it was rogue. Part of the black market since officially, we have banned the slave trade as well. Not to mention, the Hades system isn’t even our territory. So we have no responsibility for a rogue ship doing something in a distant star system.”
“Laura nodded. An excellent response. Though I would add that the Hades system wasn’t Anubian territory either in 3712 and you could call them out on having a battle cruiser there in the first place. With the benefit of hindsight, we know that they were putting the pieces in place for an invasion. If you call them out you may even stop the annexation of the Hades system. But then again, that wasn’t a detail you knew about-“
“Because I wasn’t looking for it.” She leaned forward on her elbows. “Laura, I get your point now. And this was no doubt an interesting exercise but my classes are nothing like this. They are all incredibly boring with the teacher just presenting facts and expecting us to memorise them. Why did Ra want us to study in a traditional school of all places?”
“To be perfectly honest, I am not sure, and I doubt any of our other sisters are. Otherwise, we’d get it too. But it is what it is and you have to bear through. We can’t have you getting kicked out.”
“I am not an actress. I can’t make them think I am paying attention when I am clearly not.”
“You know what’s a dead give away?” Laura tapped the tablet screen to show Mira’s doodles. “This. They can see this, you know.”
“Well excuse me for trying to express some individuality in that class of drones. Why can’t we have art class like all the other fancy schools do? Even in traditional schools you guys picked the most boring one for me.”
That was true, Laura’s own school had regular art class.
“Look, do me a favour,” said Laura. “I know you get all the facts from the Collective as soon as the teacher starts speaking. So just write them down. Take notes. Just make them think you’re paying attention even though you’re just transcribing the Collective.”
“That’s not my idea of exciting.”
“It’s not but it’ll keep you in school. You have less than two years of it left. You’ve gotten this far. Just get through this too and you can pursue whatever higher studies you want, even fine arts.”
“Well I assure you it won’t be galactic diplomacy,” she teased. “Don’t want to be stuck working in a bar after all that studying.”
“Well you won’t have to wait for a lazy kid sister to grow up to pursue your dreams,” she smiled back. “The day you hit your eighteenth birthday, I am outta here.”
“And where will you go?”
“To Allegra. Might as well cash in on having an older sister who served as a top ranking government official.”
“Allegra is ancient though. We should really just call her a grandmother instead.”
“Technically, she is a grandmother, just not ours.”
Allegra was the first of Ra’s clones and seventy six years old by now.
“You’d easily pass for her grand daughter though.”
They talked for a while more and then Mira left with her tablet.
Laura’s mind turned to something Mira had said. expressing my individuality.
She swiped a hand across her desk and it lit up like a screen. A few taps and swipes later, it showed a picture of Laura standing beside an oil painting of a five-petaled flower.
Individuality. How much of it did the daughters of Ra really have it?
submitted by TinyLittleFlame to CTWLite [link] [comments]

Should You Watch It? Winter 2020 Edition

Fall 2019 Edition’s Thread

Darwin’s Game

Banjo’s Perspective

Drop It
Kaname Sudou is your average high-school student, toiling away in life with his best buds. One day, however, he receives a mysterious invitation to use an app on his smart phone, and, upon accepting, finds himself thrust into an augmented reality where superpowers exist, riches implode, and death glooms overhead. Coined Darwin’s Game, this survival-of-the-fittest situation demands everything – but supplies almost nothing in return.
The first episode is a double-feature, but it only serves to stab home the point that this anime has a difficult time outrunning its tired premises and eye-rolling events. Motivations are bland. Outcomes have little consequential value. Themes take a backseat to uninteresting dialogue. Alongside the lackluster duels and the inevitable overseers, the storytelling has thus far been a keen recipe for trite dealings.
A lack of meta details and necessary explanations seek to create an air of mystery to the whole debacle, yet this direction exacerbates the show’s problems. I.e., this no knowledge is no good, for the implausibility and the irrationality of the decisions and the confrontations equates to suspended disbelief that drags down the evolution of its natural selection.

Another Perspective, courtesy of Cryzzalis:

Drop It
“I wasn’t too hopeful going into the show, death game shows are generally hard to pull off due to the large cast and limited run time. Darwin’s Game attempts to tackle this issue by focusing on only a few characters.
Normally you’d think that’s a good thing, but if anything it’s to the shows detriment in this case, as there’s not a single interesting character in the show. Thus far out of all the named characters, only two of them has been developed to the point where I can even call them one-dimensional. And I’d be damned if they’re not some impressively one-dimensional characters.
We're stuck with an extremely bland insert protagonist, wiith the few traits he has actually affecting his character negatively and a heroine who looks good, but out of place in this show.
Speaking of visuals, the fight choreography is really boring and the animation and art style is nothing special at all so we end up with mediocrity in that regard.
If I am to be honest, the show has so many faults, I can begin to cover them all and it'd only be worth watching as a hate watch or as popcorn material with your mates. There's probably a good 20-30 shows better than Darwin's Game from this season, so just don't watch i unless you're really bored.”

Eizouken ni wa Te wo Dasu na!

(English Title: Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken!)

Banjo’s Perspective

Must Watch It
Anime is life. At least, that seems to be the case for Midori Asakusa of Eizouken ni wa Te wo Dasu na!. She dreams of making anime, drawing out sketches and ideas based on her own favorite elements and the avant-garde city where she lives. With help from her money-hungry best friend Sayaka Kanamori and their newfound comrade Tsubame Mizusaki, these three ladies embark on a journey to truly define art, animation, and ultimately anime.
And they certainly go the distance. Above anything else, this anime personifies its namesake, creating elaborate sequences, stylized imaginings, and incredible moments that shape it into a juggernaut of visual awe. The fun musical choices complement the passion therein, yet it’s the self-made sound-effects from the voice actresses themselves that instill a personalized feel into the engaging wonders.
To put devil’s advocate in motion, a rather loose plot and possible pigeonholing for the main trio raise the tiniest of flags. Nevertheless, to return the other way, its overall potential is clearly there anyway as the open-ended nature of its storytelling and the grounded realism of the characters prove it has inherent writing chops. With meta inclusions of drawing techniques and the fact that the comedic pieces land upright, and this anime becomes worthy of several high-fives.

Another Perspective, courtesy of meiiro:

Must Watch It
“From first glance, “Keep Your Hands Off Of Eizouken!” may look like your typical high school girl comedy. However, it’s much more than that; Eizouken is a quirky, imaginative look into the world of animation and people following their passions. It follows three distinctly different girls, each with their own fleshed out personalities and aspirations, on their journey to creating anime together.
The most enjoyable thing about Eizouken is that it’s never afraid to blur reality and fiction together. Each brainstorming session transforms into a fantastical journey. Figuring out how a windmill moves turns into a dynamic animation sequence with explosions and all new inventions. Even more than its random ventures into fantasy, the setting of Eizouken is its own breed of interesting. A faculty room in a pool, a clock on a school the students can’t even see- there’s so much to unpack, and it never gets boring.
These settings only serve to enhance the true stars, the characters. The dynamic between the main trio is nothing short of amazing; each personality is designed to compliment and contrast the other. More than that, the cast is already fleshed out and realistic; there’s no such thing as being two-dimensional from the very get-go.
Overall, Eizouken is an enjoyable watch, down-to-earth in plot and outside the box in presentation. Many have described it to be in the same genre as Shirobako - a sincere love letter to anime. If there’s one show you don’t want to miss this season, it’s Eizouken.

ID: Invaded

Banjo’s Perspective

Watch It
What do you get when you take the future-crime aspect of Minority Report, the mind-delving craziness of Inception, and the persuasive psychosis of Silence of the Lambs? The answer is ID: Invaded.
An original (that is, non-source adaptation) story, this anime has started for itself an intriguing crime thriller in most regards. The show balances its time between the detective work of its central protagonist and the informants who analyze his findings. What transpires, then, is a cool duality whose simultaneous weirdness and realness melds together in a very neat way.
Moreover, the anime is keen on exploring the important members of its cast and the wild setting it has created. Intentional parallels across plotlines and the blurring of lines between the “heroes” and the “villains” further pushes the story and the characters to higher levels.
The artistic vision for this show isn’t anything too special, so there does exist room for improvement. But this early on, the predictions and discoveries of its identity should hopefully be a satisfying endeavor.

Another Perspective, courtesy of Nazenn:

Drop It
“With obvious world similarities to Psycho-Pass and an intriguing main character, ID:Invaded had all the pieces needed to be the next big sci-fi crime mystery, but it spends far too much of its runtime focusing on its bloated side cast and repetitive exposition.
Any moment we’re not following the MC characters investigations in a criminal’s mindscape, we’re usually stuck sitting in a room listening to generic “investigators” talk at each other, using lifeless dialogue that doesn’t showcase any of their individual personalities. One character will say something, another will repeat it back to them as a question, only for the next character to repeat it again in a different way. If they’re not using techno-babble to explaining the details of the machine in excruciating detail irrelevant to the current drama going on, they’re narrating everything that’s happening on screen to the level of allowing the show to be more of an audiobook.
While the MC’s investigations and history are very interesting, they also fall victim to this over-exposition the moment we return to the investigators. It strips away a lot of the mystery when are made to listen rather than watch, having the show tell you what does and doesn’t matter. If the show cut this excess and focused purely on the three interesting characters it would be a different story, but with its current structure it makes it hard to recommend unless you want feel like you’re being talked at for 20 minutes each week.”

Infinite Dendrogram

Banjo’s Perspective

Drop It
Sometime in the future, true virtual reality has become a norm for most gamers. Reiji Mukudori, interested in such a place, decides to make his own character within such a VRMMO video game: Infinite Dendrogram. Unlike traditional MMOs, however, this adventure has left excitement behind.
The key motif of this story comes from the understood notion that this VR world is organic and alive. Sadly, that’s the extent of the anime, for the unfortunate reality is instead that the surrounding parts are devoid of the same fortitude. The main character, his “maid”, and the supporting cast are largely forgettable. The story beats have been totally ineffective. The attempts at incorporating the gaming side of things are meager at best.
It goes on. The anime doesn’t seem up to the challenge of asking – let alone answering – the moral and the societal questions that their literal realistic fantasy entails. Not to mention that, on an artistic front, the show shows weak signs already. When all is said and done, the scope and the impact of this project is not just finite but practically zero.

Another Perspective, courtesy of porpoiseoflife:

Consider It
“I can hear the detractors now. Yadda yadda SAO clone yadda yadda loli sidekick yadda yadda kuma yadda yadda drop. What these sweeping generalizations miss is that this show is actually a fun thing to watch. The fight animation has been great, the details of the world are wonderful, and the main characters are nicely done yet without the incessant edgelord mentality that is far too common in the VRMMO subgenre.
You know that they are playing a game for the sake of playing a game, without any need for grand stakes or heavy consequences. And oh boy, does that game look like fun. A sandbox environment where the characters can change the game world significantly would be on my top list of things to try out, the concept of fully AI driven NPCs is fascinating, and the little hints about the greater gameworld makes me wish that full-dive technology was a real thing so I could waste my free time playing it.
For fans of the VRMMO subgenre, this should be promoted to Watch status. For everyone else, consider this as an alternative to the others languishing in your drop lists.”

Ishuzoku Reviewers

(English Title: Interspecies Reviewers)

Banjo’s Perspective

Consider It
From humans to elves, demons to beasts, and any other manner of creature in-between, Ishuzoku Reviewers stars a plethora of species-specific humanoids. But it’s not quite that tame. Oh no. In fact, it’s the complete opposite, for this anime focuses on the one inherent quality that drives biology: sex.
Stunk, Zel, and Crim make it their mission to critique these sexual encounters, describing their likes and dislikes which culminate in that all-important climactic score. In doing so, the anime thrusts with vigor in different ways. The comedy angle keeps the content lighthearted throughout. The emphasis on being sex-positive aligns with the ecchi genre. And the scenes may as well be deemed pornography for just how much they are willing to depict (especially so in the uncensored version).
Ironically enough, though, the diversity within the anime is also its downfall. Catering to everyone and everything means that, amidst the laughs and the sexiness, the weird and the nasty inevitably materialize. Indeed, needing to endure such moments is arguably not justifiable in the long run.
If nothing else, the project has some nice production values, and the sex shows no signs of stopping its upward debauchery. So, for now, its final review must wait.

Another Perspective, courtesy of Dagonsnake:

Consider It
“Ishuzoku Reviewers is certainly a unique show, the entire premise is simple, two guys want to have sex with as many different creatures in their fantasy world as possible, and after they sex up their local brothels, they write a review about their experience with said species, and give it a rating from 1-10.
The art is pretty good, and the character design is honestly pretty great from what I've seen so far. Every species has its own unique traits, and no two species that I've seen really look too similar. On top of this, the show probably has one of my favorite OPs of the season, and the ED isn't bad either.
The show, as you'd expect, is very fanservice heavy, there are a few scenes that are honestly, just hentai, so if you're not into that, I'd definitely recommend staying away from this show. However, if you're looking for an ecchi heavy show, or you don't mind ecchi, this show may just be for you since the humor in the show itself can honestly be pretty hilarious!
However, one final point I unfortunately feel I need to make since the show is an ecchi after all. If you're the type of person who prefers small or medium breasts, you might be somewhat disappointed as thus far the show has been pretty lacking in that regard.”

Itai no wa Iya nano de Bougyoryoku ni Kyokufuri Shitai to Omoimasu.

(English Title: BOFURI: I Don’t Want to Get Hurt, so I’ll Max Out My Defense.)

Banjo’s Perspective

Watch It
As the other major VRMMO offering of the season, Bofuri follows Maple, a young lady taking part in her first-ever online gaming experience. Like any normal human, she hates pain, and so she stacks points into her defense stat. Then more defense. Then even more defense. So much defense that her build becomes an anomaly worthy of this story.
This anime channels cuteness as Maple stumbles into upgrades, skirmishes, and interactions, causing a lot of hilarity and smiles as a result. Her best friend Sally contrasts her both in personality and skills; their buddy duo makes for a wholesome relationship. And the extra side details – such as the variety of enemies, the forums, the admin patches, and so on – solidly round out the underlying game setting.
The story and the characters seem content with where they’re at, so they’ll most likely not go anywhere too deep or too compelling, missing out on that worthwhile status. But when the action segments impress and the docile moments delight regardless of those factors, the project stacks its own defense in the form of above-average execution.

Another Perspective, courtesy of Daniel_Is_I:

Drop It
Bofuri ticks all the boxes you expect from an isekai/VRMMO show centered on an overpowered protagonist: light comedy, action, cute girls, etc. Unfortunately, ticking boxes is all it does, and it does so to the detriment of any potential it may have offered.
The premise can be grasped entirely from the title. Maple, airhead and VRMMO newbie, dumps her points into vitality and stumbles into the most broken build New World Online has ever seen. In theory, this gimmick has merit; an unkillable protagonist with no offense bumbling through combat could be interesting. This gimmick is also immediately undermined when the world starts bending over backwards to make sure Maple never experiences any struggles whatsoever. Virtually all problems are immediately resolved, often through sheer luck. Maple and co. are blessed with plot armor and play by different rules.
Perhaps the saddest thing about Bofuri is that nothing about it is egregious (except the game design), but nothing stands out, either. The world is a bog-standard fantasy VRMMO. The comedy is inoffensive, hardly eliciting a chuckle. There have been two strong action sequences, but they're sandwiched between long segments with little of interest happening. It's relaxed, but it's also utterly forgettable and requires no engagement from the viewer. Even worse, it's brainless, and thinking in-depth just makes its flaws stand out more.
I can understand why some might enjoy Bofuri, but I see no reason to watch it over the myriad of other shows it's competing with.”

Jibaku Shounen Hanako-kun

(English Title: Toilet-bound Hanako-kun)

Banjo’s Perspective

Consider It
At her school, Nene Yashiro hears about one of the seven mystical wonders haunting their building. She goes to an out-of-the-way bathroom, knocks on the stall, and meets Hanako-kun, the wish-giving spirit who maintains order between their two separate realms. For better or for worse, they now help each other, giving Toilet-bound Hanako-kun its origin.
What this show boasts most is a wonderful sense of artistry. Actual animation trends towards the low side, sure, but the shot-for-shot visuals make up for this lack and then some. Vibrant colors. Great use of lighting. Changing styles. Paneled compositions for flair. Nice designs. The anime is definitely one of the best-looking offerings this season.
Otherwise, there’s not much else to boast about. Its sense of comedy and cuteness isn’t the greatest. Its “monster-of-the-week” approach has yet to tie in well with a supposed central throughput. And the characters themselves are uninspired.
It also has a (strangely enough) unheard of problem in this medium: incorrect audio tuning. More specifically, the gain on the microphones used by the voice actors and actresses is so high, one can hear the humming feedback during quiet scenes (which are surprisingly common), breaking immersion and demonstrating an obvious misstep in execution.
Again, however, the art alone prevents the entire project from being flushed down the toilet.

Another Perspective, courtesy of ZBLongLadder:

Must Watch It
“If you’ve watched much anime set in high schools, you’ve probably encountered the “Seven Wonders” trope: a set of seven urban legends the students will use to creep each other out. Hanako-kun gives that trope a clever twist, being set in a school where those rumors are true and supernatural beings from the oddly specific and morbid minds of teenagers really do haunt the halls of the school, ranging from the inconvenient to the deadly.
The show is a creepy comedy, sort of in the vein of Nightmare Before Christmas, and while it never fails to deliver a (mostly) lighthearted tone and plenty of laughs, it also provides a wonderfully atmospheric setting and plenty of odd and uncanny moments. This is particularly noticeable in the design of the main character, Nene, who manages to be intensely moe while also being clearly a bit unsettling, with her ever-present skull brooch, green-tipped hair, and doll-like eyes that are a bit strange even for an anime character. The characters have great chemistry, particularly between Hanako-kun and Nene, the two leads.
The art in particular is excellent, with a subdued pallet and more stylized designs giving the show a storybook-like feel. The show as a whole has an almost otherworldly quality to it, especially in the old building, where most of the apparitions seem to originate.
In all, I have been thoroughly enjoying the show, and I highly recommend it to anyone who likes comedy with a dash of creepiness.”

Koisuru Asteroid

(English Title: Asteroid in Love)

Banjo’s Perspective

Consider It
Mira Konohata has a fondness for space and the galactic. Her love of the above sees her joining her school’s astronomy-turned-Earth-sciences club where she meets a bunch of likeminded girls. As a group, they aim to learn about the stars, the rocks, and the bonds they share sandwiched by these halves.
Credit where credit is due, the vibe of the anime vies for realism. Rather than injecting absurdist comedy or over-the-top silliness, the events and the mood at large stay normalized. It isn’t so much flat as it is natural, letting the cute bits and the fun reactions have a subtler delivery. Plus, while the setting is arguably a tad lame, the fluid animation does not go unnoticed for the CGDCT show.
However, it’s probably more accurate to call it “CG---" because it has effectively dropped the “DCT”. Despite the premises, where the anime is supposed to be about the study of space and the research into geology, the content often distracts itself. Granted, they work towards fleshing out the characters, so they aren’t completely meaningless, but the reasoning for telling this tale and consequently the flight of this asteroid is flimsy at best.

Another Perspective, courtesy of SpareUmbrella:

Must Watch It
“This show is, essentially, a cute girls show, but this time it's an Astronomy/Geology club. There's a diverse cast of characters, cute in their own ways, but not overly saccharine like GochiUsa can be.
One of the things that often plagues cute girl shows is the reliance on characters explicitly calling attention to something zany another character has done. Koisuru Asteroid seems to largely avoid this pitfall. It's not what I'd consider laugh out loud funny, but I believe it's trying to balance its more kooky jokes and gags with more endearing character moments sometimes glazed with yuri undertones, and having seen the first 3 episodes, I feel it's done an excellent job of this so far.
That's not to say Asteroid doesn't have elements that feel obligatory for shows of this type, episode 2 features a bath-house scene for instance (because of course it does) however even that is used to actually weave dialogue into the show - dialogue directly relevant to both the situation the characters are in and the overall subject matter of the story.
Much like Doga Kobo's previous work (New Game! in particular, which has a very similar artstyle to Asteroid) the colour palette is bright and inviting and the girls in general have pretty solid character designs.
I think this show is a must-watch not because it's necessarily ground-breaking, but is a very competently written and produced cute girl show in almost every area, and those of us that like that kind of show will definitely enjoy Asteroid.”

Kyokou Suiri

(English Title: In/Spectre)

Banjo’s Perspective

Consider It
Youkai are the otherworldly beings that beget reverence or peril depending on their alignment. For Kotoko Iwanaga and Kurou Sakuragawa, two seemingly normal people intimately connected to youkai, these beings require their wisdom and their strength (respectively). And for Kyokou Suiri as a whole, these swirling dynamics lead to a peculiar story.
Two key elements form the core of this show: Kotoko herself and the infused comedy. Kotoko more or less carries the project. Her rapport with Kurou is fun, her characterization is off-kilter, and her forwardness keeps it all moving. As for the comedy, it upholds the tricky business of coexisting with the drama without ruining it. That’s not an easy feat, so it should be praised to some extent.
Beyond these two elements, the rest is mixed. Huge amounts of dialogue are not necessarily a negative, and the exchanges here are by no means laborious. However, it’s a decidedly uneventful task as they (most often Kotoko) just sit down and explain ad nauseum without there being much to care about. Furthermore, the youkai backdrop has been uninteresting, too, and the art, while solid, really only has the character designs going for it.
Thus, the current inspection stays nominal.

Another Perspective, courtesy of Groenboys:

Watch It
“An anime can have many strengths. Production values, characters, directing, story, but Kyouko Suiri strengths lies in the thing that isn't noticeable right away but is as essential as any other aspect of an anime: the dialogue.
The characters in the anime are witty, thus the dialogue is witty, but it isn't witty in loud and overwhelming sense. All the remarks are evenly spread out throughout an episode so that the dialogue continues to feel fresh. But the biggest reason why the dialogue is so superb is how everything flows so well. Characters talk for minutes on end but it never gets stale or annoying because of how well their sentences flow. The pace of how the words are spoken is soothing. The banter between the characters, how much they respond to one another and how much information is actually being said is juuuuuust right. I have found myself watching episodes only to hear the ED and going like ‘wait, the episode is already over?’ and that is not a bad thing at all.
The reason why I gave this anime a ''Watch It'' and not a ''Must Watch It'' is because 1. the story is good now but I can't say much for later and 2. The anime is very dialogue heavy, so even if the dialogue is great if you like more action in an anime I recommend not checking this out.
For everyone else, if you like mysteries and witty characters, absolutely check this anime out.”

Nekopara

Banjo’s Perspective

Consider It
In Nekopara, cats are no longer four-legged pets with fur all over their bodies. Rather, they are basically humans with fluffy ears and expressive tails that simply take on the mannerisms of their feline counterparts. And for Chocolo, Vanilla, and the other cat girls, their daily lives are simplistic enough to have few worries, save for a recent development.
Per their catlike nature, the anime brands itself as a slice-of-life project with cuteness as its mainstay. The “cats” will climb along buildings, drool at the sight of fish, and chase after inanimate objects. All the while, their cute behavior emerges as they handle regular human activities, work at the confectionary of their household, and bounce their personalities off each other in distinct pairings.
Artistically, the designs for the cat girls are varied and fit the motifs of the anime, but the remainder of its visual acumen is passable at best. Thematically, the anime isn’t very concerned with delivering a message. Narratively, the small subplot tries its paw at world building but lacks the interest to make it meaningful.
So, characteristically, the anime elicits smiles no doubt, yet whether this shtick uses up its nine lives before the end has become a dire possibility.

Another Perspective, courtesy of alwayslonesome:

Consider It
“Ahem… do you know about moe anime? Cute girls and their adorable antics, fluffy atmosphere and expressive animation, all attached to a weekly broadcast of the utmost charm… Do you like shows like that? If so, consider checking out Nekopara! The cutest nekos you’ve ever seen await you there~
Set in a world where sapient catgirls are commonplace, Nekopara’s story loosely follows Minazuki Kashou’s opening of his bakery La Soleil. However, any plot is entirely marginalized in favour of foregrounding the antics of the Minazuki family’s nekos – the moemoe “good stuff” we’re all here for. The ensemble of catgirls includes lovable idiot Chocola, deadpan snarker Vanilla, closet-pervert Cinnamon, among others – archetypes that nobody hasn’t seen before, but still do a respectable job of bouncing off of each other and creating light-hearted comedy. The show’s appeal is greatly enhanced by the good job it does transferring the nekos’ lavishly detailed visual novel designs into animation, with plenty of perky nekomimi and expressive tail wags. For those skeptical of the property’s origins, the TV anime is remarkably ecchi-free and family-friendly, trading off cutting-edge chest-bounciness customization for all-ages wholesomeness.
All in all, Nekopara is not a project that’s especially ambitious or exciting, but it successfully capitalizes on the appeal of its source material and does its job as a moe anime very competently. If you are interested in a show that’s fluffier than a catgirl’s ears but doesn’t do much else besides, then joining Kashou and furrends at La Soleil would be a purrfect choice.”

Pet

Banjo’s Perspective

Drop It
The psychology of the mind is simultaneously a beautiful and terrifying field. Doubly so for the men of Pet who dive into this dichotomy to manipulate their hapless victims. Hiroki and Tsukasa are two such individuals that do the diving, and, while the anime would like the audience to believe its capabilities, this mess is not very promising.
So much of the show is already either misplaced or wrong. The production values, from the consistency of the art to the voice acting, are subpar. The characters desperately wish to be backed by mature writing but come off as ridiculous. And the horror elements do not have a strong enough punch to influence the viewer.
If that weren’t bad enough, the anime gets worse. Unnecessary convolution in the storytelling, uninteresting drama, and low entertainment opportunities in general compound the present mess into a catastrophe. There’s almost nothing worth praising in this project, no matter how many “peaks” or “valleys” this pet visits.

Another Perspective, courtesy of throwaway_zuk:

Watch It
“Pet is a psychological show, about people with powers to get into other's minds and alter memories. While this has been played out in various shows to different degrees, Pet manages to drive home the feeling of how scary this would actually be, and how it can be exploited.
What this show excels in, is the structure it establishes to 'memories', and the rules for 'altering' them, which the characters strictly abide by. This results in clear boundaries of what they can and can't do, with consequences for their actions, as opposed to pulling rabbits out of the hat.
As a viewer, we aren't provided with all the details at the start; in fact, we are thrown right into the mix with a confusing first episode. However, as the show goes on, we learn more about the world and the main cast, with enough questions in our mind to keep us intrigued, while also not leaving us confused.
The cast features strong characters with unique personalities, whose motives and relationships we slowly learn more about. Technically, the show is solid, with notably crisp animations and sound direction, turning the quality up in key scenes. The OP by TK, and the ED (by Memai SIREN, prod. by TK) are exquisite, living up to his reputation.
To summarize, I recommend watching this show for the unique world-building and visualization on the premise of 'altering memories', strong cast, and a mystery which slowly unravels the bigger picture.”

Rikei ga Koi ni Ochita no de Shoumei shitemita.

(English Title: Science Fell In Love, So I Tried to Prove It)

Banjo’s Perspective

Must Watch It
Ayame Himuro and Shinya Yukimura are scientists dedicated to their craft. But an unforeseen metaphysical variable has entered the equation: love. As scientists, they conclude that the only “true” solution to deciphering their feelings stems from experimentation, with RikeKoi chronicling their scientific venture.
Purely a rom-com, this anime has been filled with romance and comedy aplenty. Their different hypotheses lead to heart skips, hilarity, and huge amounts of enjoyment as the two lovebirds realize their connection among the misguided ideas. Better yet, the college setting enwraps the project in a refreshing sense of maturity, and the theme on what exactly is love receives two thumbs-up. And the supporting cast – the regular lady, the love “guru”, the woman who stirs the pot – round out the group and supply their own romantic and comedic edge for increased fun.
The artistry isn’t the most spectacular around, but its changes to match for laughs or for emotions are duly noted. And yes, perhaps their formulations are not perfect science per se, but it’s science-y enough (with or without the bear-professor education) to don those touted lab coats.
All in all, this lovely project has proven itself from the get-go.

Another Perspective, courtesy of Taiboss:

Consider It
“Remember Steins;Gate? Of course you do, change of question: Remember the early part of Steins;Gate? The part before all that plot bruhaha, where the most exciting thing you got was Okabe and Kurisu banter, in which you decided those two were the best ship ever?
Well, here's an anime that is basically that, but in explicit and sadly also in worse.
The main premise of Rikei is easily explained: A male and a female scientist like each other very much, but having never watched educational television as a child, never learned to understand their own emotions. As such, once the topic arises, they go full-on Hollywood scientist and seek to prove their mutual love in all kind of scientific and mathematical ways. All this is commented on by another scientist, the audience surrogate/straight man/best girl, who actually is a normal human being and therefore able to show how even in-universe, the main couple‘s behaviour is not normal. Now, on paper, this all sounds very nice, but it quickly runs into trouble: The characters, officially highly-educated scientists, too often behave like total idiots in topics they should understand, asking questions they should know the answer too and taking too long to come up with an obvious solutions. Also, the science often feel much more arm chairy than if it was written by an actual scientist.
In short, this is a must-watch for romance lovers, but everyone less into romance, or maybe even interested due to the S;G parallels, should prepare to groan way too often.”

Runway de Waratte

(English Title: Smile Down the Runway)

Banjo’s Perspective

Consider It
The medium of anime covers a wide range of topics, and Runway de Waratte walks onto this spectrum by highlighting a topic that is foreign to much of the population: professional fashion. Chiyuki Fujito is an aspiring model, Ikuta Tsumura is an aspiring designer, and the two together seek to become the stars they know they can be.
On the one hand, the anime has created an interesting project. The fashion premise, as denoted above, already acts as a lure for the viewer, but its steps to curate themes on adversity help with its writing basis. Hardships faced, perseverance needed. Common threads that the main characters struggle with in their tough jobs. Speaking of, Chiyuki and Ikuta are a nice duo, two sides of the same coin that have their own parts to play yet whose intertwined stories strike a solid balance.
On the other hand, the project showcases some cracks. Parts of the drama can feel overblown when harsh actions and loud reactions interfere with the overall seriousness of the story at hand. Oddly as well, the music direction, selections, and timings are often overbearing, clouding its scenes with more sound to enact emotional effect at the cost of audience distraction.
But with a clear runway to follow and primed arcs to unfold, this one may very well be smiling come the season’s end.

Another Perspective, courtesy of MapoTofuMan:

Must Watch It
“In a season that has everything from beloved sequels to a VRMMO CGDCT and to the tales of a wish-granting toilet ghost, a seemingly boring show with runway modeling as the theme was bound to fly under most people's radar. And unjustifiably so - taking Smile on the Runway's more intense moments into account, it should be able to hold its own against battle shounens when it comes to keeping you glued to the screen.
The show follows the journey of Tsumura, an aspiring clothes designer, and Chiyuki, an aspiring runway model, both of whom could never go past the "aspiring" stage until they met each other due to life's circumstances - Tsumura has to choose supporting his large family over getting into designer school, while Chiyuki is half a head shorter than the acceptable height for professional models.
Overall, Smile on the Runway looks like it's shaping up to be a nicely balanced slice of life drama with a basic but well-executed premise, more than passable technical aspects, and last but definitely not least for this kind of show - great characters. If you think your seasonal roster could use another slice of life show, then I highly recommend giving it a shot.”

Somali to Mori no Kamisama

(English Title: Somali and the Forest Spirit)

Banjo’s Perspective

Must Watch It
In a fictious land teeming with a multitude of environments and strange creatures, Golem is an ancient, sentient robot who oversees his esoteric forest. One day, he spots not a bunny or a wolf but instead a human child named Somali, seemingly abandoned and without hope. Humans no longer exist in this land, so Golem takes it upon himself to find them, to bring Somali back home, beginning the amazing journey of Somali to Mori no Kamisama
Each aspect of this project has been nothing less than great thus far. The touching story of this “father” and “daughter” evokes themes of family, time, and life. Beautiful artistry paints the landscapes with deft skill and gorgeous detail. Golem and Somali are sound characters insofar as Golem learns about emotions and Somali grows up from the world around her. Fantastic music allows the weight of the scenes to shine. And the adorableness, the wholesomeness, and the sincerity throughout grant leagues of enjoyment.
In total, the spirit and the execution of this anime is as grand as it can be right now, making this show absolutely one of the best of the best this season.

Another Perspective, courtesy of ErinaHartwick:

Watch It
"Somali to Mori no Kamisama is a quaint Iyashikei show that centers on Somali, a human child who lives in a fantastical society where humans have been mostly wiped out or are sought after as meals, and Golem, her unlikely father figure.
If I could pinpoint the two things that make the show interesting, its that Somali is as cute as they come and her relationship with Golem is unique and heart-warming. Three episodes in and the show hasn't failed to capitalise on Somali’s fascination with the eccentricity of every settlement they visit, often leading to misadventures. Somali is cute in most scenes she’s in and dazzles the audience with her boundless curiosity and adoration of her father figure, which makes way for some unique father-daughter scenes that’s just interesting to see, to say the least. While they could have made Somali just a kid who only chases things, throws a fit and does nothing else and be done with it, we instead get a child who loves to support her father and tries to help him, as we watch her father fumble bluntly in his effort to care for Somali. This dynamic is honestly one of the selling points of the show, and if you like seeing the charming (mis)adventures of a curious father daughter duo with a relaxing fantastical setting as a background, Somali to Mori no Kamisama is the show for you.”
submitted by BanjoTheBear to anime [link] [comments]

Hidden Camera Market Growth And Key Players Insights: , Sony , Hong Kong Magic Technology Development

Hidden Camera Market Growth And Key Players Insights: , Sony , Hong Kong Magic Technology Development
https://preview.redd.it/6t31e6vdjoe41.jpg?width=700&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=1e8987615c126d4cc1b7680f6668d7207313bd84
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submitted by olive_allen to TechInsightreports [link] [comments]

Finished Trails of Cold Steel 3! (massive post)

My posts on: SC | 3rd | Zero | Ao | CS1 | CS2 | Sidestories
Spoilers for CS1-3 and all Sky/Crossbell games incoming.
Holy fuck, where do I even start - that was an amazing game. I'd heard CS3 was one of the best Trails games and a huge improvement on CS1/2, but seeing it actually live up to the hype was something else. Overall this definitely felt like the meatiest Trails game yet, the chapters were extremely long yet as well-paced as Ao (well the field studies at least), so so oh so much new lore and plot reveals, tons of character development across the board, returns of characters and plot lines from Sky/Crossbell, and more and more and more. Trying to gather my thoughts on everything is going to be pretty difficult with how much happened (sorry in advance if I miss anything important). Of course, there were some things I thought it didn't do so well, but the good definitely overwhelmed the bad by a large margin. New engine was also pretty nice, I like how detailed the character faces are now.
My total play time was ~210 hours excluding idle time, so easily the longest it's ever taken me to finish a game. This was mostly because my japanese sucks and I read at a snail's pace lol - though my reading speed has improved hugely since I started so CS4 shouldn't take as long. I did reference the spreadsheet a lot (Kitsune is a god for making that), and it was a lifesaver during some of the more difficult military/political/lore discussions (though I took it with a grain of salt as I noticed quite a few mistranslations). I tried to get all the npc dialogue/sidequests, but by mid-chapter 2 it was just taking far too long, so I limited myself to npcs listed in the notebook and important-looking sidequests. I got all the Vantage Master cards of course though, that has to be my favourite minigame in any game ever (I used to be super into TCGs). Speaking of which was there a final one I missed? Only one that felt difficult was the mandatory chapter 3 one, otherwise the AI kinda sucked (too easily baited by your master). Anyway, I'm looking forward to diving into the side content/npcs when the english version comes out.
As for the new class 7, well when I first found out they were a thing my immediate reaction was "do we really need to bloat the cast even further?". It felt a bit jarring suddenly switching over to all these new characters, but I wanted to go in with an open mind. And I'm happy I did because I absolute loved them! Personally I never got too attached to most of the old class 7, it felt like quantity over quality compared to casts of previous games, so I think it was definitely a step in the right direction to make new class 7 a smaller group. They all had interesting chemistry with each other with their unique and contrasting personalities, had great character development (more than old class 7 managed in 2 games imo), and best of all they actually interacted with each other as much as they did with Rean - the lack of that was one of my biggest gripes with old class 7.
One thing I did find pretty funny though was (aside from Altina of course) how much they all seem like typical OCs: pink haired enthusiastic girl who is the SSS' biggest fan and lives on the secret floor of the apartment complex, blue haired guy who is Mueller's never mentioned before half-brother, yellow haired guy who is the secret 3rd Hamel survivor with a cursed eye, and green haired girl who is Cayenne's mysterious niece, and knows everything, and plays everyone like shogi pieces, and went to the same school as the princess/Elise, and wants Rean's dick because why the hell not. Not that I'm complaining btw, they're all fantastic additions to the cast.
Prologue
First gotta say I really like the title screen music - wasn't too crazy about CS1/2's, so this was a welcome surprise. I hope CS4's is poignant like SC and Ao's, I really liked how those games contrasted FC/Zero's to show the change in tone.
Oh here we go again, a totally unsuspicious flashforward. I'm not buying it, there has to be something going on here - these events would've played out completely differently without Aurelia and Angelica. Like the one in CS1 I don't think this is KeA's influence, but probably someone else that can manipulate causality/history and is trying to avoid bad futures (the Grandmaster?). Anyway, I was really surprised to see Arianrhod so early, talk about an exciting way to start things off. I'm happy they didn't try to hide that Ash/Musse would eventually join class 7, I thought that was detrimental in CS1 as it didn't give as much time to be invested in Millium/Crow. The character introduction has to be the coolest yet, it made me super hyped seeing Agate/Tita/Randy/Tio were coming back.
I was surprised at how much Rean grew in 1.5 years, like damn where's my invitation to the harem? In all seriousness it shocked me how beaten down by life he seemed compared to CS1/2 - I mean you see the process starting at the end of CS2, but still... it hurts. Which is why making him an instructor was the best decision ever! I expected Rean to join the military or something along those lines after graduation, so I seeing him become an instructor was a huge surprise. It felt like such a fantastic direction to take his character in - I'm surprised I never considered it. I didn't know anything about the branch school either, so it was exciting seeing so many familiar faces in it (I might've had a minor freakout when I saw best boy from Crossbell). I do like how there's a lot less students in the branch school, it makes them feel a lot more unique (again quality over quantity).
It's weird thinking back to Juna/Kurt/Altina at the start of the game, they feel very different due to the amount of development over the course of the game. I did like how Kurt/Juna initially threw tons of shade at Rean (immediately calling him out for wearing glasses) and it was also nice seeing Rean getting Altina out of secret agent mode and into student mode. Repeating the 'guy falls on girl to protect her' thing was a bit silly, but at least it was resolved 10x more quickly this time. I can't say I care about the fortress, feels like they just copied the old schoolhouse (which I already wasn't too crazy over) and took out all the interesting plot/mystery parts. It worked well in the prologue at least though, it was great seeing Juna/Kurt slowly see Rean for who he is and begin to respect him. I feel bad for poor Tita having to put up with Schmidt lol, but I suppose she knew what she was in for. Then Aurelia makes me whip out a dictionary for every single one of her lines, and finally the ironbloods have a call with Osborne - pretty solid prologue I'd say.
I think the opening plays afterwards, and it's... disappointing. Some good sakuga, but the characters look really off-model, frames are lacking in detail, and there's a lot of lazy animation techniques with no attempt to cover them up. Music is pretty great though, plus I like how it builds up hype without being too spoilery. That being said I've watched CS4's opening since, so uh, at least that makes me appreciate that CS3's isn't total crap.
Chapter 1
Wait, since when did North Ambria (Northumbria?) get annexed? I didn't know about this going in, so that was a surprise to hear - calm down Osborne jeez. I'm happy they gradually explained what happened there throughout the game, I was worried it would be glossed over. It's pretty cool to have students from so many different places - Louise from Remiferia, Valerie from North Ambria, Stark from Jurai etc. I was happy to see Rean was keeping in contact with his classmates, was worried he might be isolating himself. Oh and we get bath scenes, well they add interesting character interactions so can't complain (though throughout the game I did notice a very unbalanced gender ratio for these lol).
Aaaand free days are back, complete with bond events. This was the first time I've played without a NG+ file, so it was kinda annoying having to deal with the arbitrary limit on them (what's the point in doing that when they're all canon?). I'll look forward to getting the rest assuming the game comes out on PC. Roselia and Munk coming back was really cool, I was surprised to see how much focus random Thors students got here (RIP everyone that didn't do the Thors npc dialogue in CS1/2). It's a bit odd that Falcom assumes you've watched the Black Records NG+ scene, surely they don't expect most people to bother with those obscure collectables on top of NG+? From what I gathered Rean finding out about them and collecting the black records technically happens after CS2, which is even weirder (does Rean also do NG+? Lmao). Oh and it was really cool seeing the Capua delivery service, along with Jingo with a more unique character design. Sending all the students on field studies to help deal with Ouroboros/Jeagers is pretty nuts, though I do like how it means the whole school comes along. It's also pretty funny watching Michael having to deal with Aurelia's crazy antics.
Millium returns! It was great to see her back so soon, she's one of the few oc7 members I got invested in. Her outfit made me roll my eyes, but it's not as bad as Altina's in CS2 at least. Her relationship with Altina is really cute, especially with how kuudere Altina is about it. Millium and Altina both being artificial humans is interesting, reminds me of KeA. It's kind of sad that Altina wasn't awakened for long before being dragged into the civil war conflict :(. I have to say as much as I dislike harems, Musse's obsession with Rean is pretty hilarious. This girl gives no fucks, just dives in with her innuendos and tries to seduce Rean at every possible opportunity. Rean being so done with her shit makes it even better. I was also instantly sold on Ash, tsundere delinquent with a good heart is one of my favourite archetypes (plus he joins the best club). Also Misty returns! Didn't expect this at all, but I was happy to see Vita 'appear' so early on. Shows she actually enjoyed her little radio show.
The Soldat training is cool, feels a lot less monotonous this time around since you have a party of them. It's interesting seeing them get mass-produced and normalized into the military. I still couldn't get over Randy and Rean (Towa too) being co-workers, like that's the coolest thing ever. It's pretty crazy they have their own private train, as well as a private base when they reach the field study location. Also finally a full map of Erebonia! Having everything in english is a nice bonus. I loved finally being able to visit Saint Arkh, it's very pretty - also interesting that it was used as a temp capital when the dark dragon took over Heimdallr. CS1/2 build him up to be a good person that only joined the civil war due to pressure, but Marquis Hyarms was still a nice contrast to all the other Marquis' - very approachable. Of course Shirley would appear in the kitten quest, I should've known lol. I wish Isthmia Forest had more meat to it (look at the size of that thing on the map!), but that was still a cool section with Rose at the end (idk what she did though).
Lol can't bring Shirley back without having her molest someone. Exploring Palm was pretty great as well, I believe it's been mentioned as early as the Sky games? But yeah, I really like how huge the areas for each chapter are in this game, it's an improvement on CS1 which could be a bit limited in that regard. Mint being upgraded to minor character status was a nice surprise, I really liked her in CS1/2. Laura's return was pretty awesome too, I love her new design. Great to see she's been going around training up, because getting to Lianne's level sure isn't going to be easy. I didn't expect the training ground to get ambushed, that was pretty crazy. I was really happy to see Shirley fight with Fie, I've thought for a while that they'd make good foils for each other. It's interesting that she's enforcer 17 though, I thought she'd take the number of one of the enforcers that left the society. Or maybe other people did? Either way, there's still enforcer 16, I'm curious who they could be. But yeah, this part did a great job at showing how dangerous these field studies are compared to CS1.
So Rean's been sent orders by the government for the past year and a half huh, that's pretty rough. I loved seeing the oc7 members come in to support him, it's so nice to hear that they were worried about him being used as the government's dog. Rean's over-protectiveness of his students to the point where he hurts Kurt's feelings in order to stop him is an interesting twist on his character, I really like how this game explores Rean's character with his instructor role. Also Ash working with the intelligence division is revealed, which explains some of his previous actions. Musse starts talking cryptically like the current events are some kind of game/play, and this is when I started to suspect something big was up with her. Toval making an appearance was pretty great, plus Olivier sneaking in some artifact inspired device (or was it literally an artifact?) for communication is pretty impressive. Seeing Craig and Neinhart again was also pretty cool, I love how supportive of c7 they are despite their difficult position. And Alan joined the army (another one of my favourite Thors students yay), wow, wonder if the other fencing club members did as well.
And finally, the trip to Hamel - I've been waiting to do this since SC, so I was super hyped. Having Agate in the party was great (btw I love his CS3 design), and I'm happy they explained why Estelle and Joshua couldn't enter the country. His over-protectiveness of Tita is sweet, though this game really is shipping them hard :|. But yeah, then we come to Hamel... wow, it was as depressing as I thought it would be. Seeing Joshua, Loewe and Karin's broken possessions was really heartbreaking, especially combined with the music (very fitting remix). In retrospect I'm pretty sure one of them was Ash's, haven't gone back to check yet though. Everyone united in putting down flowers for Loewe was a wonderful moment (even Shirley).
And the finale of the chapter, this was pretty crazy - an even more upgraded Aion (idk where it gets its power from but I don't think I'm supposed to yet), nc7 come in to help Rean, and now Rudger's back from the dead? I suspected he'd come back at some point with how Xeno and Leo acted in the palace, but definitely not this early. And he has a purple divine knight?! That was definitely unexpected. I feel really bad for Fie, it's not fair that she's been left completely in the dark on this :/. At the time I thought the digital flickering of the knight was specific to the purple one, but based on later events it seems to have something to do with being brought back from the dead - maybe the knights record data from their owner and can recover it somehow? Though that doesn't explain Rudger since he never used a divine knight when he was alive. Anyway, Rean scolding his students only to be called out be oc7 was pretty funny, and it was good to see him promise to let them help next time - you can tell Rean is trying is best to turn into someone who is able to rely on others. Also Ash's eye aches, I thought he had some power to see memories of a place or something (guess that wasn't completely off the mark though).
Chapter 2
Elise and especially Alfin became super pretty over the timeskip, it's nice to see them back. Seeing Emma, Sharon and Alisa again was great, especially Tio being on the other end of the call. I don't remember much after this, so I'll just jump to Cedric - YIKES. Usually Trails tends to develop their characters in a 'good' direction, but I don't remember them ever using negative character development until now. To think Cedric would go from that adorable prince to an arrogant asshole that abuses his authority, I was in total shock. I'm happy Rean wasn't baited by his bs, but poor Kurt was affected by it (Juna was basically my self-insert for that scene). It's interesting that Kurt is to Cedric what Mueller was the Olivier, only with everything going horribly wrong. I'm assuming Osborne removing the Vander family from their position of royal bodyguards was to screw over Olivier and make Cedric easier to manipulate. But yeah, it's incredibly frustrating watching characters turn into crappy people, but equally interesting. That being said, it's pretty fucked up Cedric actually remembers killing Crow, that has to mess a 15 year old up.
Speaking of Crow, I really liked the scene where Rean momentarily mistakes Randy for him (complete with the 50 mira coin), I was actually thinking they had a lot of similarities. I loved seeing Rean go out to drink and bond with Randy, I never thought about those two having good chemistry. It was great seeing them switch to given names, and also talk about Lloyd. Definitely one of my favourite scenes in the game. I like how Towa was salty she wasn't invited lol. I can't remember when this happened, but I was so surprised to see Josette in that pocket watch sidequest, she's grown up so much since 3rd. I love how Leaves ties into everything like that, definitely didn't expect it to be the land the Capua family used to own. It's weird seeing Josette get addressed with formal honorifics haha.
Cedric barging into the mech training with his lackeys was a fun time, very satisfying smashing them to pieces. I found it hilarious how enthusiastic Aurelia was about having them fight when literally everyone else was against it, she's such a fun character. Also great to see Kurt is determined to stay at the branch school (well aside from a certain chess game in a later bond event). Musse is as cryptic as ever, though this at least shows Aurelia knows what's up with her. Crossbell being the place for the next field study was a nice surprise, I didn't think they'd actually rebuild it in 3d. It was sad that Randy was restricted from going into Crossbell, though it makes sense. But seeing Crossbell in 3d, omg it was so cool! Only less than half of it being visitable is good enough for me considering I expected nothing, plus I'm assuming more will be added in CS4.
Rufus is as good at putting on a mask as ever, interesting that he never spoke to Jusis since they last saw each other in CS2. Hearing Lloyd, KeA, Rixia and Arios are on the run and considered terrorists was sad, especially after everything they did in Ao (excluding Arios obviously), I feel you Juna. Speaking of Juna, her family was super sweet, especially the twins (shame we never get to see her dad). But then comes the best part - Tio! I didn't realise how much I missed her and Randy until this game, so happy to have them back again. It was amusing seeing them comment on how similar Tio and Altina are to each other. Actually to jump ahead, I really like that conversation with Tio in the final chapter, where they talk about how heAltina/Millium/Fie all had problems with their emotional development but were able to overcome that thanks to their friends, that was a great scene.
Anyway, so back to Geofront... ugh not another block. While I enjoyed it back in Zero due to the atmosphere, I'm really done with Geofront at this point haha. But playing as Tio again was pretty awesome (gotta nerf her just like Randy though, too OP), it's weird to think she's technically younger than everyone in the party. Alisa and Sharon returning was pretty awesome, it's cool seeing how much Alisa has grown since CS2. That hug though, if you have a favourite Falcom then what's this player choice about lol (Rean even admits he 'enjoyed' it in later dialogue). I was worried Tio and Randy wouldn't be able to meet up, it was great hearing them speak positively about Rean and co. I wasn't expecting to see red pleroma grass, I really like how they're finally tackling a lot of the unsolved mysteries from Zero/Ao.
Sharon's backstory was pretty depressing, with her growing up as an assassin and killing Alisa's father. I'm happy it was finally revealed. It also had quite a lot of interesting info - a massive assassination organization (I forgot its name) that Ouroboros took down and absorbed Enforcer 3 (Golden Butterfly?) and Anguis 4 (something Sinner?), I wonder what that was about. Considering they had silhouettes, I'm guessing they might be revealed in CS4. Also I'm curious how long Ouroboros has been around for, it doesn't feel like long, and by the signs of things Loewe might've actually been one of the first members. But yeah, I understand why Shannon never told Alisa about this.
Falcom surely can't expect me to believe this penniless professor doesn't have nefarious motives, I've lost count of how many times they've pulled that one. His design doesn't help either, my first reaction to seeing him in the fisherman guild was "hmm, is this a new Ouroboros member?". Ugh of course Campanella would try make Rean lose control, but it was great seeing Celine and Emma help out (jeez she became powerful over the timeskip). Portable railway guns is pretty scary, I don't really get why Irina is helping out the Erebonian military so much. The dinner party was really interesting, especially the 8 way tax system to screw over the noble faction. I'm happy Elise/Alfin didn't hold a grudge against Altina for what she did (Juna's reaction though lol "you kidnapped the princess?!").
As for Rufus, I was interested in how on earth he became an ironblood, turns out he's more of a psycho than I thought. Seriously, he was the one who hired V's group? As a kid? Rufus is scary, he has some serious psychopathic tendencies. It's interesting how even he doesn't know about the black workshop though, I thought Osborne would give more info to the ironbloods. McBurn and Campanella jumping onto the tower was pretty wild, poor Sharon. It's really interesting seeing things from nc7's perspective, considering they don't know anything about Ouroboros and the crazy conspiracies going on in the world (except Musse probably). I have to say, Ouroboros is a bizarre organization, I mean you can literally obstruct other members from accomplishing the Grandmaster's plans, and even be hunted down by all the other anguis, yet still be considered a part of it. Grandmaster must have really low standards lmao (in all seriousness I'm pretty sure she has a good reason). The bird cage was really messed up, I definitely understand Juna's feelings - though I can't quite say "down with the Erebonian scum!" anymore now that I understand the internal politics of the empire.
Seeing the closed down SSS building was really sad, I like all the optional dialogue you can get there. Didn't expect to be able to go into Ian's house either, it makes sense that he had an escape route planned (was kinda hoping he'd be fleshed out on more but I suppose that was Ao's job). Oh and yet another secret Geofront block, yayyyyyyy -____-. I loved seeing Emma and Tio combine their powers to find Ouroboros' location though, it's so cool seeing characters from all the arcs work together like this. Olivier joining the party was a nice surprise too, I feel pretty bad for him with how much Osborne has screwed him over, even took away the airship :(. Having Olivier in the party is even funnier in CS compared to the Sky games, since you have everyone going "wtf aren't you the prince?!". Also I really liked how everyone tried to cheer Juna up, Rean's voice message was pretty awesome.
Finally a non-Geofront Crossbell dungeon! I loved seeing the moon tower in 3d, it looks really pretty plus it's a nice bonus being able to look into the distance while on the outer stairs. Azure Siegfried finally appears too, I was getting impatient for when he would appear lol. The confrontation with McBurn and Campanella was awesome (aside from McBurn trying to burn my ps4 with those poorly optimized flame particles), and I loved that Emma was able to suppress his flames (she's grown so much). Juna and co. flying in to help fight was awesome, protect Crossbell girl! Great to see Vita make an appearance again (she's my favourite Anguis), I find it interesting that she's basically working as a separate faction now (seems like at least Blueblanc is working with her?). Oh and not!Crow appears in front of everyone, their reactions were definitely believable (I'm so happy they didn't infect everyone with plot-induced stupidity and go wHo Is ThAt MaSkEd MaN?). Finally the gnomes introduce themselves, how dare they use poor Crow like that! Altina's reaction to the orb confirms that gnomes = black workshop, and I also assumed it was Alisa's father based on her reaction (just seemed like the kind of twist Falcom would pull, looks like I was right).
Anyway, the subplot with Juna gets resolved and she is finally able to accept Rean - I actually really liked this, it's very flawed to dislike someone who saved you just because it shows your incompetence, but it's also very human. Overall this chapter did a fantastic job at developing Juna, plus she works really well as a point of connection between class 7 and the SSS. And then we have one of the best scenes in the game - I didn't expect to see Lloyd and co. at all, that was so awesome. Him and Rean (distance) fist bumping was cheesy as hell and I loved it, it was really depressing seeing them fight in CS2 so I'm so happy they're working together now. But yeah, chapter 2 did an amazing job at tying the Crossbell and Erebonia arcs fully together, overall my 2nd favourite chapter 2 next to Ao (can't beat that trade conference).
Chapter 3
Now before I talk about this chapter, I need to get this out of the way - the formula. Rean has meeting with other instructors -> goes around school -> chats with oc7 member on phone -> free day -> fortress -> meeting for next field study location -> listens to radio -> conversation with Randy about mech exercise -> mech exercise -> location announced to students -> leaving on the train w/ Aurelia's speech -> meeting w/ instructors -> sleep and wake up with Randy -> meeting w/ nc7 and instructors -> head off to meet person in charge of region -> day of activities to find what villains are doing -> reunion with old class 7 member "tHeRe'S nO nEeD fOr ThAt" -> Rean gets an order -> goes out with oc7 -> hunts down Ouroboros who succeeded anyway 'cause experiment.
Of course, this isn't new to the Cold Steel games as CS1/2 were very formulaic, but it felt even more glaring here because of how much more eventful and well-paced the story is compared to those games. Everything pretty much grinds to a halt once you start a new chapter, as you prepare yourself to grind through the same predictable structure yet again. Thankfully once they reach the field study location the formula eases up a bit and is more willing to change things up (especially in later chapters), and the formula repeats itself less often by virtue of this game only having 4 chapters that follow it, but it really is a shame CS3 feels the need to force itself into a formula in the first place.
Moving back to the positives though, Ash and Musse finally join class 7! I'm happy it didn't even take half the game for them to join this time. Jusis and Millium are super sweet together haha, they're basically siblings. Also nice to have Elise, George and Celine come over, it was interesting watching them theorize on what the black workshop could be up to (or play dumb in a certain someone's case). I have to say, back in CS2 I certainly didn't expect the black workshop to become this important, I'm really interested in what Ouroboros' other factories are like (I believe the only one we know is that doll factory in Crossbell?). They also don't see to believe that's actually Crow, which is honestly fair enough, I mean they were all at his funeral. Speaking of which I would've liked to see that... but at the same time maybe too emotional for me ;_;.
Rean's letters were interesting, it's good to know about his father's relationship with Osborne - I wonder what made him change so drastically. I'd really like to see Rean and Yun meet in person sometime, but I get the feeling that won't happen until Calvard. Aurelia teaching the girls how to seduce dense guys made me giggle. Great to finally be able to go to Ordis and the rest of that region, it was built up a lot in CS2 being the main base for the noble faction and all. I absolutely loved the design of the city, it looks gorgeous and definitely benefits from the new engine. Musse's grandfather is pretty funny (I wonder if she's actually blood-related to him?), and that scene where Musse remembers her parents at the beach was sad - I mean it doesn't tell you much, but it's rare to see Musse's genuine feelings. Actually I wonder how they died, I think it was mentioned there was a sea accident, but I wouldn't be surprised if there was something more nefarious going on. Jusis and Millium's entrance was cheesy as hell (that white house lol), I love it. Cayenne's uncle is a piece of poop, like can we have him flushed down the nearest toilet? Oh and Arianrhod appearing when they left the city was quite exciting.
Angelica appears! Raquel at day was pretty cool, it was great finally finding out about Ash's upbringing (aaaaand another dead mother). I was happy to see he has so many people supporting him, was kinda worried he was neglected. Also I started to suspect he was from Hamel after finding out his mother adopted him, though I had an even sillier theory on top of that which thankfully didn't become a thing lol. Poor Juna being the only one to recognize the info wasn't leading them to a trap, also I really like this chapter's focus on Jaegars, first time we've seen multiple groups fight together in the series I believe. Sara and Angelica's entrances were pretty hype, and yeah makes sense the purple group are from North Ambria, it's nice seeing Rean getting respected for saving tons of people in the war there after all the shit he gets thanks to father of the year's orders. I absolutely loved Raquel at night, Falcom completely nailed the difference in atmosphere between day/night in an entertainment district. The chase scene also has to be one of the funniest scenes in entire the series, it brings out the best comedic traits of all the characters involved - I was dying laughing the whole time (the music fits perfectly). Felt like a scene straight out of Gintama.
Claire is just far too kind-hearted, it's difficult to watch her try and take on so many burdens at once :(. I find it pretty interesting that Red Constellation have a business on the side for funding/legitimacy, it was a clever tactic in Ao and it's a clever tactic here. Mfw the Zephyr guys are messing around at the casino, talk about the easiest info hunt ever. Want some info, beat me at a children's card game - hmmm what does that remind me of? I love how insistent nc7 are when it comes to not letting Rean go off on his own, it was awesome seeing Ash and Musse take down Zeno and Leo. I also loved having a challenging blade battle of course. I hope you get to rematch Rudger without him hOlDinG bAcK™ in CS4.
Wow, Claire and Michael are cousins? I didn't expect that at all. I've been looking forward to finding out about Claire's backstory and connection to Riveldt for a while, but jeez that was heartbreaking. Having her whole family killed by her uncle, getting blackmailed by him, and then having her adopted family estrange her? That's completely awful! I don't think Claire was in the wrong here at all, so it's depressing seeing her blame herself. Also it's so sad she was seeing Rean as a replacement for her brother, all of this really tore at my heartstrings. I'm happy she decided to see Rean as his own person, and wew that was bold, +1 to the harem. Interesting to know why she has super brain powers too. It was awesome getting info about Calvard from Angelica, could the desertification in the east have something to do with Osborne/the gnomes messing with the septium veins? Or maybe something else entirely. And finally Sara's full backstory, I was thinking there might still be some left to tell. It's interesting to hear the reason she's into fancy older men, Sara had things pretty rough (I'm happy she had a supportive father though). Aaaand +1 to the harem again, even our dense as obsidian Rean can't misinterpret these. Also wtf, 90%?! May as well start chugging down petrol at that point Sara.
Millium going missing was worrying. Super exciting finally being able to go to Bryonia Island (wouldn't mind finding out about what all the other teams did in all the CS1 chapters tbh), and Lughman pops up with totally unsuspicious timing. Anyway I really like the atmosphere of the island, as well as the amount of variety in the areas there + cool ancient ruins. Ash half-admitting he's a tsundere was pretty funny. Not sure what Rose did here either, but I was super surprised to find out she was Emma's grandmother! Wait so is she even a vampire then, or is she both a vampire and a witch? What even is a vampire? I'm confused lol. Regardless, everyone teasing Rean about the bite mark was great, I love how much crap nc7 give Rean about his harem issues haha.
Altina saying she wants to save Millium was a really powerful moment, her VA did a fantastic job with those lines. So another one of the gnome shrines (forgot what this one was, space?), I wonder why they built those. I greatly appreciate that this one didn't make me slog through endless mundane puzzles, that was annoying in CS2. The battle against the Stahlritter was awesome, especially with all the combo moves. But damn, Arianrhod's appearance was pure hype - everyone was rightfully terrified of her. Hell Rean goes into battle with her expecting he might die, that was a bit depressing. Gaius jumping in to help was awesome - I thought I misunderstood Arianrhod's line when she mentions how powerful he is, but oh boy does that make sense in hindsight. Seigfried spouts off more cryptic nonsense, wtf did you do to best boy gnomes 😡
Rean finally finds out about Ash being connected to the intelligence division, his reaction to Ash thinking Aurelia would expel him because of that was hilarious. Aaaaand then we have Musse, I'm impressed Rean saw through her act. Seriously, thinking 10,000s of moves ahead, that's crazy - I though it was an exaggeration, but considering the endgame uhhhhhhhhh. Musse is such a fascinating character, I think she's my favourite member of nc7. I didn't expect things to go crazy that quickly, who needs alarm clocks when you have railway guns? There were a lot of awesome fights here, seeing Wallace go all out was pretty cool.
Aurelia's appearance and speech were both great moments, I love how she just oozes with charisma. Reclaiming a fortress back from Arianrhod has to be one of the hypest things ever, the music got me really pumped haha. Aurelia oneshotting a Cryptid was nuts, it never hit me how strong she actually was until that moment. Splitting the party into groups is a nice way of getting everyone involved, plus I couldn't believe Aurelia was actually playable, that's so cool! Nice to finally catch up to the flashforward, it's cool that you can kinda see Ordis from the distance. Cayenne's uncle being captured was satisfying (on top of Arianrhod scaring the living daylights out of him earlier lol), you tell him it like it is Juna. Sara's speech to the purple jaegars was powerful, I'm so happy she was able to stop them - can't wait to see this scene with Sara's amazing english va.
The confrontation at the end was definitely worth the hype, it was awesome having Arianrhod finally fight alongside the Stahlritter. Aurelia managing to make Arianrhod kneel was impressive (it's already very difficult to make her kneel in Ao, and that's with 4 people), also wow she's stronger than Lianne was 250 years ago, that's impressive. I have to admit, while I'd be lying if I said I didn't have any gripes with how Trails handles female characters, I absolutely love how many powerful women there are in this series. It's very rare to have a battle-focused series where the guys don't outclass the girls in terms of fighting prowess, doubly so for a jrpg, so I'm constantly blown away when characters like Ein/Arianrhod/Aurelia are introduced.
Moving on, Arianrhod has a divine knight?! That's overkill lol, at least that explains why she's still alive (?). Interesting that she never told the Stahlritter, I'm guessing she didn't want them to find out she's the living dead (? I really don't get how this revival thing works). Angelica knows something's up with Siegfried. Musse's identity finally gets revealed, and wow I suspected she was connected to Cayenne based on something she said near the beginning of the game (can't remember the exact line), but I didn't think she was actually a blood relative. That smug look she gave her great uncle was glorious, it was so cathartic seeing him dragged out kicking and screaming. Good to see the noble faction is finally in good hands.
The two girls seeing Ash off was sweet haha. Patrick and Jusis' reaction to Musse switching from planning genius mode to actress mode was pretty funny. I really would like to find out what's going on between Aurelia and Wallace, I get the incy wincy feeling they miiiiiight be more than just friends. Interesting to know Rose was the witch that guided Dreichels to Valimar, and also that him and Lianne were in love. I really do wonder what Arianrhod is trying to accomplish and what mission Dreichels gave her, there has to be a very good reason someone like her would join Ouroboros. 'The Great Twilight' gets its first mention, tbh I prefer the japanese names for that and The Great One, the way they roll off the tongue is mmmmm. And finally confirmation that the Stahlritter are a different group to the Einsritter, though I was surprised to hear how recently they were formed - didn't expect another connection to the cult either. It's interesting to see Duvalie starting to doubt Arianrhod, I did think they were setting something up when CS2 fleshed her out so much.
Aaaand I've hit the character limit. Didn't want to go over it, but I don't want to force my post to conform to it either, so I'll just continue in the comments (I hope that isn't too annoying).
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A look at some African Badhistory on Twitter Part I: Great Zimbabwe Edition

On October 17th, history writer Mike Stuchbery (the same guy who, incidentally, sparked off the 'were there black Roman soldiers in Britain?' debacle) posted a series of tweets about African history. This prompted the following 'rebuttal'. There are issues with Stuchbery's set of tweets but the rebuttal, while better informed on some points, is substantially worse in terms of content and accuracy. Amusingly, we can use Stuchbery's critic's (henceforth referred to as Omar for simplicity's sake) own words to rationalize the need for this post, to quote:
“Every now and then you come across a thread so wrong you have to make a thread about it well ladies and gentlemen you're in for a treat.”
I don't know about providing a treat, but I sure hope we can clarify some things about African history.
Let's begin with Great Zimbabwe: Mike Stuchbery claims that Great Zimbabwe has a population comparable to Medieval London and he cites a Scientific American article to back up his claim. Archaeologists offer a range of possible populations for Great Zimbabwe and it should be noted that the Scientific American article does acknowledge this fact. The lowest population estimate is between 1000 and 2500 individuals and is provided by Peter Garlake. The upper estimate is 18,000 to 20,000 and is provided by Thomas Huffman. Dr. Huffman's numbers were arrived at indirectly and were based on the number of huts excavated at the site. He assumed that there was one adult per hut and he extrapolated the total population based on early colonial census data gathered in the region (this would allow you to gauge items such as fertility, life span and child mortality and so on). So the population estimate is a mixture of solid fact (number of huts excavated) and assumptions and given the lack of written evidence, it is is the best we can probably do. Of course, the debate over Great Zimbabwe's population isn't settled yet as seen in a recent paper by Chirikure et al. which questions Huffman's high end estimate based on limits of local infrastructure and environment (the paper is free to access and provides a pretty good insight into the sort of fieldwork and guesswork that goes into mapping out the demographics of the site. I believe Stuchbery references this paper in an unrelated tweet and corrects his original point.)
So Stuchbery overstated his case about the population of Great Zimbabwe. Now let's move on to Omar's claim, which is:
“Great Zimbabwe was a trading post used by Yemenite traders, many of whom of Jewish origin from the region of Hadramout.”
The pedigree of Omar's claim that Great Zimbabwe was built by foreigners (Arabs, Phoenicians, Israelites – take your pick) is old as the first European discovery of the site back in 1871. Omar cites the Lemba people as evidence of this position and little else. The description of the Lemba is mostly correct. They are a Bantu speaking South African ethnic group who claim to be of descendants of Jews originating from what is modern day Yemen. There is some truth to these traditions as genetic studies of the Lemba show that at least 50% of their Y chromosome is of Semitic origin (see Trefor Jenkins' article in the American Journal of Human Genetics). However fascinating, this does not show that Yemeni Jews or the Lemba built Great Zimbabwe. What is needed is archaeological evidence and what exists does not support the Yemeni origin of Great Zimbabwe. Let's run through the evidence, shall we?
First, Great Zimbabwe is not unique; that doesn't mean it's not great, only that there are many other (approximately 200) examples of the dry (mortarless/cementless) stone architecture spread all across South Africa. The popular depictions of Great Zimbabwe only show certain features like the so-called Great Enclosure, but the site spans nearly 1800 acres and is composed multiple ruins. The dry stone walls located in the Great Enclosure top out at 32 feet, other highlights include the outer walls of the Hill Complex (which have a maximum height of 37 feet) and the conical stone tower which has a height of 30 feet. Focusing on the stone however ignores the numerous clay daga houses which dot the site. Perhaps they are not as architecturally impressive, but this was where the inhabitants of Great Zimbabwe lived and they serve as invaluable insights into the past.
Proper archaeological examination of Great Zimbabwe began in 1906, when the British Association for the Advancement of Science dispatched David Randall-MacIver, an academically trained Egyptologist, to examine the ruins. He not only accomplished that but also examined other locations such as Khami, Danagombe and Naletale. While these sites were not as big as Great Zimbabwe, all of them were feature the dry stone architecture present at Great Zimbabwe. After examining these sites, Randall-MacIver concluded that these sites were built by locals and were “essentially African” (see Randall-MacIver's Medieval Rhodesia for his conclusions). Randall-MacIver's conclusions were confirmed in 1926 by JF Schofield and by further excavations in 1929 conducted by Gertrude Caton-Thompson; later archaeologists like Huffman and Garlake too support the idea that Great Zimbabwe and other such sites were constructed locally. So what evidence is there for a local origin? Here's a short list:
1) All the Arab, Persian and Chinese porcelains and glass objects recovered from the Great Zimbabwe date to the 14th and 15th century AD, much later the earliest occupation of the site.
2) The stone walls of the Great Zimbabwe were erected in the 13th century. Pottery recovered in layers below the stone walls show that the site was occupied beforehand and as for the style of the pottery? They resemble local traditions rather than that imported from Arabia or Western Asia. Similarly ironwork, furnaces and tools excavated at the site also resembles locally produced objects.
3) The curved stonework at Great Zimbabwe doesn't resemble the geometric/symmetric designs of the Middle East. Examination of the walls also demonstrate that there was a gradual refinement of masonry techniques. The earliest walls were poorly coursed with the granite stones arranged haphazardly; gradually the coursing became neater. Most walls in Zimbabwe show a mixture of these two styles of coursing and so demonstrate a gradual buildup of the site.
So, basically Omar is full of shit and the evidence doesn't support the theory that Yemeni traders constructed Zimbabwe
Our next region of interest is East Africa. Stuchbery highlights Ethiopia and Axum as two examples of black African civilization. Omar counters this highlighting Western Eurasian genetics (brought in by neolithic migrations) and cultural influences (for example, the Ethiopian claims of descent from King Solomon) present in East African populations. The implication is that because there were Western Eurasian influences in Ethiopian civilization, that these foreign sources were the root of Ethiopian civilization making Axum and its successors not an example of an authentic African civilization. I have to call out the double standard here because it can be demonstrated that all these point apply to European civilization as well and yet we do not consider Rome as an offshoot of Near Eastern Civilization. There were Neolithic migrations of Near Eastern farmers into Europe as well migrations from the Pontic steppe. The predominant belief systems of Europe were imported from the Near East as was writing (the numerical system came from Slightly Farther East). Perhaps the greatest European civilization, Rome claimed descent from refugees from Anatolia and this trend was followed by the Franks, the British and numerous others and yet we don't consider the Carolingian Empire or Rome as foreign to Europe. So let's put to rest this idiotic double standard, shall we?
This is getting quite long and there is a lot more bad African history (including an absolute howler about Mansa Musa) to go through, so I will stop here and follow up with Part 2 in a separate post. The major takeaways here are:
1) There is no archaeological evidence to show that Jews/Arabs/Phoenicians built Great Zimbabwe
2) Estimating populations based on archaeological data is imprecise and so the best we can do is propose a range of potential populations for a site like Great Zimbabwe
3) Great Zimbabwe was one of many sites in South Africa that demonstrates dry stone architecture and so isn't that unique (but it still is pretty great)
Sources:
Information on the Lemba:
Parfitt, Tudor and Emanuela Semi. Judaising Movements: Studies in the Margins of Judaism. Routledge Curzon. 2002
Information on Great Zimbabwe:
“Great Zimbabwe”. Dictionary of Archaeology. 1999
Chirikure, Shadreck et al. “What was the population of Great Zimbabwe (CE1000-1800).” PLOS One. Web.14 June 2017. http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0178335
Ndoro, Webber. “Great Zimbabwe”. Scientific American. Jan 1, 2005.
Pikirayi, Innocent. The Zimbabwe Culture: Origins and Decline of Southern Zambezian States. AltaMira Press. 2001
Connah, Graham. African Civilizations: An Archaeological Perspective. 2nd ed. Cambridge University Press. 2001
Chirikure, Shadreck and Innocent Pikirayi. Inside and outside the dry stone walls: revisiting the material culture of Great Zimbabwe. Antiquity 82 (2008). 976-993
submitted by LXT130J to badhistory [link] [comments]

Operation Chimera Tier List...Thoughts?

I'm pretty interested in seeing what everyone feels about the current operator lineup. This is just what I think (Tiers go S to D). Obviously this doesn't mean you shouldn't necessarily play low-tier operators, or that you suck at Siege if you do, I just think they're harder to win with, because their usefulness is highly situation-dependent. This is constructed from my experience since I started playing the game a couple of years ago.
Short Version:
Attackers:
S Tier: Hibana, Ash, Thermite, Thatcher
A Tier: Lion, Buck, Twitch, Zofia
B Tier: Ying, Finka, Sledge, Blackbeard, Jackal, IQ
C Tier: Capitao, Blitz, Glaz, Dokkaebi
D Tier: Montagne, Fuze
Defenders:
S Tier: Smoke, Mira, Bandit
A Tier: Lesion, Valkyrie, Rook, Jager, Ela
B Tier: Mute, Pulse, Doc, Castle
B-/C+ Tier: Vigil
C Tier: Echo, Frost, Caviera, Kapkan
D Tier: Tachanka
Long Version:
Attackers:
S Tier:
Hibana: Godlike, 3-speed, great weapons, able to breach reinforced walls from a distance, good secondary gadgets, allows players to be very self-sufficient, works with pretty much any style of play. There's a reason her pro league pick rate is so high. There's pretty much no scenario in which Hibana will not be either completely necessary or very helpful.
Ash: 3-speed, no head hitbox (a joke, but unironically is very hard to hit compared to many other operators), great weapon choices, useful secondary gadgets, able to be versatile as well with her gadget, as you can be aggressive or play her slower and more methodically. It's pretty hard to go wrong with Ash, even if you're not a fan of a rush-oriented playstyle. Her pick rate is similarly high across the board, and with good reason. Like Hibana, and the rest of the S Tier, there's no scenario in which Ash will not be useful.
Thermite: Even though he's a 2-speed, and even though Hibana is slightly better as an overall operator, Thermite is definitely better at breaching than Hibana, as he can blow up entire reinforced walls with one charge. He has a good primary assault rifle, and also has a claymore, or flashbangs. His gadget has the potential to single-handedly win rounds, as opening up a massive section of wall the defenders didn't plan on having open is an extremely powerful thing.
Thatcher: Even though they can't stop Bandit-tricking, Thatcher's EMP grenades are absurdly useful, able to take out most defensive gadgets by either disabling them temporarily (Vigil, Echo, Pulse) or completely destroying them (Ela, Lesion, Valkyrie, Jager, Mute, etc etc.) Good weapon options (two assault rifle choices!), and at his best when used with Thermite/Hibana, but useful in most any scenario.
A Tier:
Lion: When he gets nerfed, he might be lower on my list, but as for right now, his gadget is very useful, especially for making pushes into objectives, or guarding objective sites once already inside. The ability to essentially guarantee enemy positions is invaluable in protecting attackers in performing a variety of actions. Lion has good weapon choices as well, I personally love his Vector. A good Lion in a coordinated team makes defending a nightmare when used with other operators, especially Ying and/or Jackal. His ability being global, and available to every attacker is just an added bonus.
Buck: His ability to put holes in soft walls/floors (especially floors and ceilings) quickly and at a slight distance (more long-ranged than Sledge) is extremely valuable, especially at higher levels of competitive play. He's able to put pressure on defenders from above or below, and in coordination with his team, can force defenders out in the open for his teammates to pick them off. That sort of offensive ability combined with his amazing DMR, similarly great AR (takes a while to get used to because of its recoil, but hits very hard), and frag grenades put Buck definitively on A-Tier. There aren't many attacking pushes that couldn't be improved by Buck.
Twitch: I personally think her nerf was a bit excessive, as her drones are exponentially less useful than they used to be, but they still do their job well (one drone can still take out all four Mute jammers/Bandit batteries). Thatcher's EMP grenades are undoubtedly more reliable for a similar purpose, but Twitch's drone useful nonetheless. That and she has an amazing primary weapon in the F2, debatably the best weapon in the entire game.
Zofia: Zofia is a very "jack-of-all-trades" type of operator. Her weapons are pretty good, particularly her AR, and her gadget has a lot of utility, specifically in the concussion grenades' ability to be detonated by enemy proximity. They're a great way of instantly finding out of an enemy is in a room without having to drone it first. Her impact grenades are also useful, and she has good secondary gadgets. She's less "focused" on a certain strong point than Ash, but that only makes her more well-rounded.
B Tier:
Ying: She's deadly in the hands of a skilled player with a coordinated team, especially on bomb defusal mode. The fact that she can't be flashed by her own Candelas makes Ying ideal for defuser plants, as well as generally objective room pushes of any game mode. With the ability to also carry smoke grenades, Ying can definitely make tough pushes a lot easier. That being said, Ying players usually need a fair amount of skill to use her effectively, as well as cooperation with their team. She would be in A Tier if her LMG wasn't garbage, though.
Finka: Useful at buffing an attacking team for a push or objective defense. The recoil reduction is pretty noticeable, as well as the increase in speed to reloading and ADS time. However, I find that the most useful part of Finka's ability comes from the increased walking speed through barbed wire. Finka to me is one of those characters who I like to have on a team, but I never want to play myself. I've never personally been a fan of the Spetsnaz weapon sights or LMG, and her assault rifle isn't particularly great either. However,
Sledge: Basically Buck, but not as good. He has mostly the same amount of capability, but simply lesser versions. He can't make holes as fast as Buck can due to having to physically swing the sledgehammer at whatever he wants to break, he can't break walls/floors he physically cannot touch, so he can't take out the floor below the defenders, only above, whereas Buck can come from above or below. That's not to say he's bad by any means, the breaching hammer is still useful, he has good weapons (SMG-11 secondary), as well as frag grenades.
Blackbeard: Despite his very slow movement speed and ADS time (slowest in the game, I believe) with the shield deployed, he still is an imposing presence to defenders. The simple fact that Siege has one-hit-kills for headshots makes Blackbeard's gadget very useful, especially in the hands of a player with good aim and reaction time. With his gadget, he can essentially survive multiple headshots. Very good at holding down angles and making Defenders afraid to engage in a gunfight.
Jackal: Great weapons (particularly the AR, but I also like the PDW), plus added utility from the secondary shotgun. He can also carry smoke grenades, which is a plus. His gadget I would describe as "pretty good", because its refresh rate is far too long to make wallbangs feasible, but the very fact that he can see enemy footprints, with a rough idea of how long ago they were made, is certainly helpful in tracking down roamers.
IQ: With good weapons, frag grenades, and the ability to see enemy electronics through walls, I think IQ should be more utilized, but I still don't see her around very often. Her ability is great for finding Valkyrie cameras, Ela/Lesion's mines, Kapkan traps, Pulse's heartbeat sensor, Vigil's cloaking device, etc.
C Tier:
Capitao: Even though his AR got a buff recently and is super strong, I think he's been weak ever since he got his frags taken away. His gadget is decent, especially useful for the smokes, but there's a small margin of error with the fire bolts to not only make enemies move out of corners and hiding spots, but also to avoid friendly fire. There are mostly just better ways to do what he does.
Blitz: Obviously, there are people who are insanely skilled with Blitz, especially now after his bunch of buffs. However, he's still a shield operator (only firearm being a pistol), and his gadget is inconsistent, only really working within a small minimum range at the absolute furthest. He can carry smokes though, so he can certainly be useful when used in conjunction with Ying while planting a defuser, but like Capitao, I find that there are other operators/combos of operators that can perform this function (smoking out a bomb site and defending a planted defuser).
Glaz: Another situational operator, but definitely more useful than he was for a while, now that he has the thermal scope. He can hold angles fairly well (Defenders often don't peek a cloud of smoke for fear of a Glaz on the other side) but his weapon choice is very limited (his gadget is literally a scope which only goes on his one primary weapon), and he can't hold angles as well as Blackbeard and his rifle shield can.
Dokkaebi: An interesting ability hampered by a very strange weapon loadout (a DMR and a two-round slug shotgun), at this point getting a phone call from her is more of an annoying nuisance than a serious threat, and most Valkyrie players I've encountered set up their cameras so that the Attackers won't be able to get much use out of them if Dokkaebi hacks a phone. She has smokes though (???)
D Tier:
Montagne: Good for defending planted defusers, being a big distraction, and not much else. He has smokes too, I guess (????)
Fuze: Infamously unplayable on a certain game mode, placing the gadget is loud to the point where a cluster charge detonation can be seen coming from a mile away, pretty much no one gets killed by it at higher ranks, 1-speed, weapons aren't very good (decent but high-recoil AR, pretty bad LMG), Spetsnaz sights >:(. I guess he has smokes and a pretty cool looking Elite skin, but that's really about it.
Defenders:
S Tier:
Smoke: Unparalleled ability to completely halt an enemy push in its tracks, as not only does the smoke produced by the canisters do tons of damage (even more if Finka's ability is active while an attacker is caught in the smoke), but it also obscures vision, making a push through it very dangerous for attackers. Also has impact grenades (!), as well as amazing weapon choices, especially the combination of the S.A.S. pump shotgun and the SMG-11, giving Smoke efficacy at most ranges, as well as the full utility a shotgun offers in Siege as well.
Mira: Like Smoke's gas clouds, the simple presence of a Black Mirror can make an attacking team dread pushing an objective. The one-way nature of the mirrors make them invaluable in terms of gathering information on attacker strategies. With some creativity, a mirror combined with creative kill-holes, made easy thanks to Mira's secondary shotgun option, can make certain objectives near-impossible for attackers to approach. That sort of utility combined with her amazing Vector, as well as 3-armor for good anchoring (and a nitro cell too) make Mira easily S-Tier.
Bandit: The ability to stop attackers from breaching reinforced walls by completely destroying the X-Kairos pellets or Thermite charges placed on it makes Bandit's gadget very powerful. Bandit-tricking remains a very effective way to completely stop attackers' progress in breaching certain objectives. In addition, he has a nitro cell, a very high-DPS MP7, a pretty good shotgun (if you're into that sort of thing), and is 3-speed. Pretty much a must-pick.
A Tier:
Lesion: His gadget is like Smoke's, it's definitely more powerful as the round comes to an end. When it comes down to the last seconds of a round, and Lesion has placed all of his mines, the attackers' chances of success are very slim, as pretty much every objective entry point can be guaranteed to have at least one Gu mine on it, making a push nearly impossible. The Gu mines are insanely good. Lesion has a high number of them, they slow attackers, do pretty good instantaneous damage as well as more damage over time, instantly cancel Finka's ability, render an attacker stuck with them unable to plant a defuser until they pull the needle out, are basically invisible, and to top it off, have an icon marking each Gu mine Lesion places, allowing him to watch the mines through walls. A great SMG, impact grenades, and a pretty good shotgun option just sweeten the deal. Bonus points for cargo shorts.
Valkyrie: Even though her weapons aren't great, with the MPX being especially notable for its low DPS, her ability alone makes her valuable to any defending team. With good camera placement and a coordinated team, Valkyrie's cameras can make a successful attacking push nearly impossible, as the combination of well-hidden cams and good communication gives attackers nowhere to hide. She also has a nitro cell option, which is also useful. Some argue that Valkyrie has lost effectiveness, with IQ's increased pick rate, especially in pro league, and I sort of agree (which is why I put her in A-Tier instead of S-Tier), but still think she's a great pick in most, if not all, situations.
Rook: One of the three ACOG-equipped defenders, 3-armor, very good anchor operator. His ability is not only useful in and of itself, but it also allows Rook to benefit his team without necessarily having to stay alive for long periods of time (unlike Smoke or Lesion, whose maximum effectiveness appears towards the end of a round). Good primary weapon choices, as well as impact grenades.
Jager: The Former King of Spawnpeeking, barbed wire, very useful gadget (especially when the attackers are trying to smoke out a bomb site and plant a defuser), amazing primary AR choice, 3-speed, very good at roaming, but also versatile enough to be a decent anchor. I miss the ACOG.
Ela: Even after approximately eight thousand nerfs, Ela is still a great operator. Her mines are very easy to throw in hard-to-see places, allowing her to really surprise attackers. The concussion effects of the mines often make attackers very vulnerable to being attacked. Despite her lack of impact grenades, she still makes a great roamer due to her speed, as well as the mines watching her back. She can also be played fairly effectively as an anchor too, because of her weapons. Her Scorpion is deadly at close range due to its high fire rate, but since its recoil nerf, using it at longer ranges is less feasible than it used to be. Her shotgun also isn't half bad, and she (and Zofia, but it's the same weapon) has the only pistol with a sight in the game, making shotgun use more viable with her than with many other operators. Bonus points for the green pistol laser.
B Tier:
Mute: Despite having among the most useful defensive gadgets in the game, I find Mute to be mostly OK otherwise. Mute jammers can negate the effects of many attacking devices, such as Thermite's charges, Twitch's shock drone, Hibana's X-Kairos, Fuze's cluster charges, Jackal's tracker, Lion's drone, Dokkaebi's phone calls, etc, not to mention plain breach charges and drones. However, there's not many reasons to pick Mute over Bandit for preventing reinforced wall breaches. The jammers can disrupt breaching tools, but it cannot completely destroy them like a Bandit battery can. That and Mute has no equivalent "Mute Trick" he can use to prevent breaching a reinforced wall either. He does have a nitro cell, which is useful, but he's also a 2-speed, and has weak weapon choices (and no secondary SMG-11).
Pulse: In capable hands, Pulse is near-unstoppable, but it's a very high skill ceiling. He has a great information-gathering tool on paper, but in practice it's not specific or long-ranged enough to be very useful. Plus, it's a very loud gadget (in terms of taking it out and putting it away, those sounds are easily audible by attackers). His shotgun is good, but it's a shotgun in Siege, which is inherently at a disadvantage to high-fire-rate automatic weapons. His UMP-45 isn't bad, but the fire rate and damage leave something to be desired for me. However he does have a nitro cell, and is also a 3-speed. He shines when used as a roamer, but is mostly decent outside of that use.
Doc: Similar to Rook in overall playstyle, mostly an anchor, another ACOG-able defense operator. I place him a tier lower than Rook because of his gadget. Even though the stim pistol can come in handy in clutch scenarios, it's less useful when trying to revive a downed teammate, because of the fact that line of sight (and a clear shot) with the teammate is needed. In my opinion, it is less useful than Rook's armor plates because of how active Doc needs to be to aid his teammates. Not to mention, at higher levels, a higher percentage of kills are headshots, which Doc can't do anything about. Plus he doesn't have impact grenades, which kind of sucks.
Castle: A very hit-or-miss operator, his gadget can be either very useful or actively detrimental to a defending team depending on the skill level of the player using him. Certain effective strategies however rely on Castle barricade placement. I mostly find his weapons decent (like Pulse), and he has impact grenades, which is definitely a boost overall. He also has good synergy with Mute.
B-/C+ Tier (I couldn't decide between B or C here)
Vigil: I debated for a while on where to put Vigil. On one hand, he's a 3-speed roamer with impact grenades and great weapon choices (specifically the K1A and SMG-12, but the slug shotty is fun to use also), but on the other hand, his gadget is basically useless. It can be detected by IQ, disabled by Thatcher or Twitch, it doesn't counter Lion's drone, and it even adds a visual filter to the screens of drones within Vigil's vicinity while he has the device activated, letting the drone's operator know that Vigil is somewhere within the area, even if they didn't see him on the drone. He's great for getting picks, but his gadget will not end up benefiting his team in any way.
C Tier:
Echo: A pretty good anchor, has the option for an ACOG on his primary SMG, as well as a good secondary in the Bearing-9. His Yokai drone, while effective in disrupting enemy actions (like planting a defuser), is vulnerable to Twitch drones, IQ, or Thatcher grenades, as well as just being shot and/or destroyed by grenades, breach charges, etc. His drone also cannot be seen by the rest of the team, meaning that if Echo dies, his drone just acts as a camera that no one else on his team can use, making communication pretty essential. Good Echo players have to be able to balance being in and out of his drone, making attackers fear pushing the objective, because the Yokai's sonic bursts are pretty powerful, and the effects only get worse if the affected attacker moves around, but the gap between Good Echo's and Bad Echo's is really wide. I believe that a good Echo player is able to elevate Echo into at least B Tier, as his effectiveness is so heavily dependent on the skill and game knowledge of the player, but I'll leave Echo here for now.
Frost: Fun to play for sure, but at higher ranks, and when playing against coordinated teams, it's usually very hard to catch anyone with her Welcome Mats. Her weapon selection is also not that great, her shotgun is decent, and her SMG does pretty decent damage, but has a very low fire rate. Like Echo, there are simply better trap operators you can play as.
Caviera: Good for deep roaming and being very sneaky, as she can counter Jackal as well as move around quietly with Silent Step active, but hard to use effectively in higher ranks, or against teams with good communication. Difficult to take on more than one enemy at a time with her, unless you're using her SMG, which is fairly subpar with a low fire rate. She's not very good at anchoring if the need arises, and is mostly a pure roamer, with impact grenades and 3-speed. While a good interrogation can change the course of a round, it's hard to accomplish if the attacking team sticks together, even if they're barely communicating with each other.
Kapkan: I'll be honest, if Kapkan didn't get buffed, he'd probably be in D Tier with Tachanka. His impact grenades and 2-speed are pretty much the only things that save him from D Tier. His SMG is pretty good but the rest of his loadout isn't that good, his gadget is (like Dokkaebi's) usually more of an annoyance now that it doesn't completely kill, and just does some damage on contact. Like Frost, there are simply better trap operators to play as.
D Tier:
Tachanka: Meme Tier, useless gadget, subpar weapons, pretty much no one unironically plays Tachanka.
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Operation Para Bellum Tier List....Thoughts? (I'm Trying Really Hard!!!)

I'm pretty interested in seeing what everyone feels about the current operator lineup. This is just what I think (Tiers go S to D). Obviously this doesn't mean you shouldn't necessarily play low-tier operators, or that you suck at Siege if you do, I just think they're harder to win with, because their usefulness is highly situation-dependent. This is constructed from my experience since I started playing the game a couple of years ago. I made a Operation Chimera Tier List just before all the big changes for Para Bellum were announced, and it made me motivated to make another one since it shook up my original tier list so hard. I made my original, long-winded list into a spreadsheet for easy viewing.
Attackers:
S-Tier
Hibana Godlike, 3-speed, great weapons, able to breach reinforced walls from a distance, decent secondary gadgets (RIP claymore), allows players to be very self-sufficient, works with pretty much any style of play. There's a reason her pro league pick rate is so high. There's pretty much no scenario in which Hibana will not be at least very helpful.
Ash 3-speed, no head hitbox (a joke, but unironically is very hard to hit compared to many other operators), great weapon choices, useful secondary gadgets, able to be versatile as well with her gadget, as you can be aggressive or play her slower and more methodically. It's pretty hard to go wrong with Ash, even if you're not a fan of a rush-oriented playstyle. Her pick rate is similarly high across the board, and with good reason. Like Hibana, and the rest of the S Tier, there's no scenario in which Ash will not be useful.
Thatcher Even though they can't stop Bandit-tricking, Thatcher's EMP grenades are absurdly useful, able to take out most defensive gadgets by either disabling them temporarily (Vigil, Echo, Pulse) or completely destroying them (Ela, Lesion, Valkyrie, Jager, Mute, etc etc.) Good weapon options (two assault rifle choices!), and at his best when used with Thermite/Hibana, but useful in most any scenario. Plus, his elite skin is awesome.
Lion Even with the nerf to the EE-ONE-D, it's still crazy useful, especially for making pushes into objectives, or guarding objective sites once already inside. The ability to essentially guarantee enemy positions, even for a few seconds, is invaluable in protecting attackers in performing a variety of actions, such as planting a bomb, securing the objective, grabbing a hostage, reviving a downed teammate, placing a Thermite charge, etc. Lion has pretty good weapon choices as well, I personally love his Vector. A good Lion in a coordinated team makes defending an objective a nightmare when used with other operators, especially Ying and/or Jackal. His ability being global, and available to every attacker instantly is just an added bonus.
A-Tier
Buck His ability to put holes in soft walls/floors (especially floors and ceilings) quickly and at a slight distance (more long-ranged than Sledge) is extremely valuable, especially at higher levels of competitive play. He's able to put pressure on defenders from above or below, and in coordination with his team, can force defenders out in the open for his teammates to pick them off. That sort of offensive ability combined with his amazing DMR, similarly great AR (takes a while to get used to because of its recoil, but hits very hard), and frag grenades put Buck definitively on A-Tier. There aren't many attacking pushes that couldn't be improved by Buck.
Twitch I personally think her nerf was a bit excessive (why only 5 taser shots???), as her drones are exponentially less useful than they used to be, but they still do their job well (one drone can still take out all four Mute jammers/Bandit batteries, as well as disable bulletproof cameras, Alibi decoys, and Evil Eye's). Thatcher's EMP grenades are undoubtedly more reliable for a similar purpose, but Twitch's drone is useful nonetheless. That and she has an amazing primary weapon in the F2, debatably the best weapon in the entire game.
Zofia Zofia is a very "jack-of-all-trades" type of operator. Her weapons are pretty good, particularly her AR, and her gadget has a lot of utility, specifically in the concussion grenades' ability to be detonated by enemy proximity. They're a great way of instantly finding out of an enemy is in a room without having to drone it first. Her impact grenades are also useful, and she has good secondary gadgets. She's less "focused" on a certain strong point than Ash, but that only makes her more well-rounded.
Thermite Even though he can blow """really big fucking holes""" in reinforced walls, he only has two of his exothermic charges, and he is left in a vulnerable position using them, as he has to be touching the wall to place the charge. As a two-speed, he's slower than Hibana, but beefier. He has a good primary assault rifle, and also has a claymore, or flashbangs. His gadget has the potential to single-handedly win rounds, as opening up a massive section of wall the defenders didn't plan on having open is a powerful thing. However, it's just hard for him to compare to Hibana, as she's pretty much slightly better in every category.
B-Tier
Ying She's deadly in the hands of a skilled player with a coordinated team, especially on bomb defusal mode. The fact that she can't be flashed by her own Candelas makes Ying ideal for defuser plants, as well as generally objective room pushes of any game mode. RIP Smoke Grenades, but she has a claymore, which is nice. Ying can definitely make tough pushes a lot easier. An aggressive play style is usually how I enjoy playing Ying, tossing a candela into a room I just droned out to get an easy kill on a lurker, or cooking a candela to roll into the objective room from a distance for a surprise push. All that being said, Ying players usually need a fair amount of skill to use her effectively, as well as cooperation with their team. She would be in A Tier if her LMG wasn't garbage, and if she still had smoke grenades, for the record.
Finka Useful at buffing an attacking team for a push or objective defense. The recoil reduction is pretty noticeable, as well as the increase in speed to reloading and ADS time. However, I find that the most useful part of Finka's ability comes from the increased walking speed through barbed wire. Finka to me is one of those characters who I like to have on a team, but I never want to play myself. I've never personally been a fan of the Spetsnaz weapon sights, and her assault rifle isn't particularly great. However, if you're using the LMG, may God have mercy on the defending team. With an adrenal surge active, the LMG becomes a laser beam with insane damage and a massive magazine. It's very fun to use, and surprisingly viable in competitive play.
Sledge Basically Buck, but not as good. He has mostly the same amount of capability, but simply lesser versions. He can't make holes as fast as Buck can due to having to physically swing the sledgehammer at whatever he wants to break, he can't break walls/floors he physically cannot touch, so he can't take out the floor below the defenders, only above, whereas Buck can come from above or below. That's not to say he's bad by any means, the breaching hammer is still useful, he has good weapons (SMG-11 secondary), as well as frag grenades.
Blackbeard Despite his very slow movement speed and ADS time (slowest in the game, I believe) with the shield deployed, he still is an imposing presence to defenders. The simple fact that Siege has one-hit-kills for headshots makes Blackbeard's gadget very useful, especially in the hands of a player with good aim and reaction time. With his gadget, he can essentially survive multiple headshots. Very good at holding down angles and making Defenders afraid to engage in a gunfight.
Jackal Great weapons (particularly the AR, but I also like the PDW), plus added utility from the secondary shotgun. He can also carry smoke grenades, which is a plus. His gadget I would describe as "pretty good", because its refresh rate is far too long to make wallbangs feasible (unless of course, the tracked enemy doesn't move at all), but the very fact that he can see enemy footprints, with a rough idea of how long ago they were made, is certainly helpful in tracking down roamers.
IQ With good weapons, frag grenades, and the ability to see enemy electronics through walls, I think IQ should be more utilized, but I still don't see her around very often. Her ability is great for finding Valkyrie cameras, Ela/Lesion's mines, Kapkan traps, Pulse's heartbeat sensor, Vigil's cloaking device, etc. Personally I love to run her with the 552 Commando, but a case could also be made for the AUG. Plus, I love her elite skin.
Dokkaebi Now that we've officially entered the Camera Meta, and one Dokkaebi phone hack will allow attackers access into not only the default map cameras and Valkyrie cams, but also bulletproof cameras (which are almost always placed inside the objective from my experience) and Maestro's Evil Eye's, she's become a lot more useful in Para Bellum. Her primary loadout is still really weird to me, but the DMR is great if you have good aim. Using it at long range to pick people off from outside, then pulling out the SMG-12 when you enter the building is a strategy I've found useful.
C-Tier
Capitao Even though his AR got a buff recently and is super strong, I think he's been weak ever since he got his frags taken away. His gadget is decent, especially useful for the smokes, but there's a small margin of error with the fire bolts to not only make enemies move out of corners and hiding spots, but also to avoid friendly fire. There are mostly just better ways to do what he does.
Blitz Obviously, there are people who are insanely skilled with Blitz, especially now after his bunch of buffs. However, he's still a shield operator (only firearm being a pistol), and his gadget is inconsistent, only really working within a small minimum range at the absolute furthest. He can carry smokes though, so he can certainly be useful when used in conjunction with Ying while planting a defuser, but like Capitao, I find that there are other operators/combos of operators that can perform this function (smoking out a bomb site and defending a planted defuser).
Glaz Another situational operator, but definitely more useful than he was for a while, now that he has the thermal scope. He can hold angles fairly well (Defenders often don't peek a cloud of smoke for fear of a Glaz on the other side) but his weapon choice is very limited (his gadget is literally a scope which only goes on his one primary weapon), and he can't hold angles as well as Blackbeard and his rifle shield can. DMR fire rate got a buff though, which is nice?
D-Tier
Montagne Good for defending planted defusers, being a big distraction, and not much else. He has smokes too, I guess (????)
Fuze Infamously unplayable on a certain game mode, placing the gadget is loud to the point where a cluster charge detonation can be seen coming from a mile away, pretty much no one gets killed by it at higher ranks, 1-speed, weapons aren't very good (decent but high-recoil AR, pretty bad LMG), Spetsnaz sights >:(. I guess he has smokes and a pretty cool looking Elite skin, but that's really about it.
Defenders:
S-Tier
Smoke Unparalleled ability to completely halt an enemy push in its tracks, as not only does the smoke produced by the canisters do tons of damage (even more if Finka's ability is active while an attacker is caught in the smoke), but it also obscures vision, making a push through it very dangerous for attackers. Also has impact grenades (!), as well as amazing weapon choices, especially the combination of the S.A.S. pump shotgun and the SMG-11, giving Smoke efficacy at most ranges, as well as the full utility a shotgun offers in Siege as well.
Mira Like Smoke's gas clouds, the simple presence of a Black Mirror can make an attacking team dread pushing an objective. The one-way nature of the mirrors make them invaluable in terms of gathering information on attacker strategies. With some creativity, a mirror combined with creative kill-holes, made easy thanks to Mira's secondary shotgun option, can make certain objectives near-impossible for attackers to approach. That sort of utility combined with her amazing Vector, as well as 3-armor for good anchoring (and a nitro cell too) make Mira easily S-Tier.
Bandit The ability to stop attackers from breaching reinforced walls by completely destroying the X-Kairos pellets or Thermite charges placed on it makes Bandit's gadget very powerful. Bandit-tricking remains a very effective way to completely stop attackers' progress in breaching certain objectives. In addition, he has a nitro cell, a very high-DPS MP7, a pretty good shotgun (if you're into that sort of thing), and is 3-speed. Pretty much a must-pick.
A-Tier
Lesion His gadget is like Smoke's, it's definitely more powerful as the round comes to an end. When it comes down to the last seconds of a round, and Lesion has placed all of his mines, the attackers' chances of success are very slim, as pretty much every objective entry point can be guaranteed to have at least one Gu mine on it, making a push nearly impossible. The Gu mines are insanely good. Lesion has a high number of them, they slow attackers, do pretty good instantaneous damage as well as more damage over time, instantly cancel Finka's ability, render an attacker stuck with them unable to plant a defuser until they pull the needle out, are basically invisible, and to top it off, have an icon marking each Gu mine Lesion places, allowing him to watch the mines through walls. A great SMG, impact grenades, and a pretty good shotgun option just sweeten the deal. Bonus points for cargo shorts.
Valkyrie Even though her weapons aren't great, with the MPX being especially notable for its low DPS, her ability alone makes her valuable to any defending team. With good camera placement and a coordinated team, Valkyrie's cameras can make a successful attacking push nearly impossible, as the combination of well-hidden cams and good communication gives attackers nowhere to hide. She also has a nitro cell option, which is also useful. Some argue that Valkyrie has lost effectiveness, with IQ's increased pick rate, especially in pro league, and I sort of agree (which is why I put her in A-Tier instead of S-Tier), but still think she's a great pick in most, if not all, situations.
Maestro As an Italian, I'm definitely happy to see an Italian CTU in Siege. Maestro is a fantastic anchor. With two bulletproof cameras that cannot be destroyed by Twitch or Thatcher, can be placed in hard-to-spot locations (including outside!), and can continually pester attackers with its taser, his objective defense potential is insanely high. The fact that he has a revolver shotgun secondary, useful for making murder holes or destroying hatches, as well as an LMG (on defense!!!) with an ACOG (!!!!!) makes him one of the best anchors on defense. The fact that his cameras can be seen by his entire team, not just him, is just an added bonus to an already stellar character. Plus, the AA-12 is absurd for destruction.
Jager The Former King of Spawnpeeking, barbed wire, very useful gadget (especially when the attackers are trying to smoke out a bomb site and plant a defuser), amazing primary AR choice, 3-speed, very good at roaming, but also versatile enough to be a decent anchor. Obviously his skills are off-objective, but his weapon is strong enough that he can hold his own on-site. Like so many (including probably Jager himself), I miss the ACOG.
Ela Even after approximately eight thousand nerfs, Ela is still a great operator. Her mines are very easy to throw in hard-to-see places, allowing her to really surprise attackers. The concussion effects of the mines often make attackers very vulnerable to being attacked. Despite her lack of impact grenades, she still makes a great roamer due to her speed, as well as the mines watching her back. She can also be played fairly effectively as an anchor too, because of her weapons. Her Scorpion is deadly at close range due to its high fire rate, but since its recoil nerf, using it at longer ranges is less feasible than it used to be. Her shotgun also isn't half bad, and she (and Zofia, but it's the same weapon) has the only pistol with a sight in the game, making shotgun use more viable with her than with many other operators. Bonus points for the green pistol laser.
B-Tier
Mute Despite having among the most useful defensive gadgets in the game, I find Mute to be mostly OK otherwise. Mute jammers can negate the effects of many attacking devices, such as Thermite's charges, Twitch's shock drone, Hibana's X-Kairos, Fuze's cluster charges, Jackal's tracker, Lion's drone, Dokkaebi's phone calls, etc, not to mention plain breach charges and drones. However, there's not many reasons to pick Mute over Bandit for preventing reinforced wall breaches. The jammers can disrupt breaching tools, but it cannot completely destroy them like a Bandit battery can. That and Mute has no equivalent "Mute Trick" he can use to prevent breaching a reinforced wall either. He does have a nitro cell, which is useful, but he's also a 2-speed, and has weak weapon choices (and no secondary SMG-11).
Pulse In capable hands, Pulse is near-unstoppable, but it's a very high skill ceiling. He has a great information-gathering tool on paper, but in practice it's a little vague, and a little short-ranged for it to be really useful. Plus, it's a very loud gadget (in terms of taking it out and putting it away, those sounds are easily audible by attackers). His shotgun is good, but it's a shotgun in Siege, which is inherently at a disadvantage to high-fire-rate automatic weapons. His UMP-45 isn't bad, but the fire rate and damage leave something to be desired for me. However he does have a nitro cell, and is also a 3-speed. He shines when used as a roamer, but is just decent outside of that use.
Echo A good anchor, I used to have Echo lower on my tier list, but since he got MAJOR buffs (he now has two Yokai drones, and his entire team can see the drones' camera feeds), I feel like he's finally where he belongs. I've always thought Echo was insanely good in the right hands, but now the skill floor with Echo has been raised quite a bit, since now, if you die, you're not completely useless. Decent primary SMG, but it has an integrated suppressor and can have an ACOG. Great secondary in the Bearing-9. Also, as an added bonus, can't get phone calls from Dokkaebi. I don't believe attackers get access to the Yokai drones if Dokkaebi hacks a phone either. Overall, a great operator for the new Camera Meta.
Castle A very hit-or-miss operator, his gadget can be either very useful or actively detrimental to a defending team depending on the skill level of the player using him. Certain effective strategies however rely on Castle barricade placement. I mostly find his weapons decent (like Pulse), and he has impact grenades, which is definitely a boost overall. He also has good synergy with Mute. He can also have a bulletproof camera, which is a plus too.
Vigil On one hand, Vigil is a 3-speed roamer with impact grenades and great weapon choices (specifically the K1A and SMG-12, but the slug shotty is fun to use also), but on the other hand, his gadget is basically useless. In fact, it usually does the opposite of what it's intended to do. It can be detected by IQ, disabled by Thatcher or Twitch, it doesn't counter Lion's drone, and it even adds a visual filter to the screens of drones within Vigil's vicinity while he has the device activated, letting the drone's operator know that Vigil is somewhere within the area, even if they didn't see him on the drone. His gadget is, sadly, very situational, as it is a cool idea. It's basically useful only in the scenario where the attackers know Vigil is in a particular room, but he activates his gadget so that they cannot tell what exact angle he's holding. However, now that his gadget has to cool down faster than it used to, it's depressingly easy for attackers to just wait out Vigil's cloaking device timer when trying to drone him out. That being said, he's still a very good roamer in the right hands.
Alibi Similar to Vigil in that she's a 3-speed roamer with impact grenades and good weapon options, but at least her gadget is a little bit useful. Due to the fact that all the decoys always look like a default skin Alibi with the default MX-4 Storm, with no attachments on it, not many people are actually going to be tricked by it. I find that her decoys are more useful in areas with either lots of corners for enemies to check, hoping they'll shoot a decoy on reaction and get marked, or behind soft walls that attackers tend to blindly prefire. A tactic I see a lot that works is putting a decoy behind a melee hole in a wall, so attackers have no choice but to shoot at the hole, because of the risk of an actual defender being there. I put her in B tier though because, especially in higher ranks, I just don't think her ability is incredibly useful. If attackers drone carefully, they'll have nothing to worry about, which is unfortunate because I really love her gadget and design. Not useless, but more situational imo.
B-/C+ Tier
Rook One of the four ACOG-equipped defenders, 3-armor, good anchor operator. His ability is not only useful in and of itself, but it also allows Rook to benefit his team without necessarily having to stay alive for long periods of time (unlike Smoke or Lesion, whose maximum effectiveness appears towards the end of a round). Good primary weapon choices, as well as impact grenades. My only real issue with Rook is that he never really feels essential. The protection from the armor plates is good, and no one will probably complain if you play Rook, but there are usually better anchor choices to play.
Doc Similar to Rook in overall playstyle, mostly an anchor, another ACOG-able defense operator. His gadget, however, is more situational than Rook's. Even though the stim pistol can come in handy in clutch scenarios, it's less useful when trying to revive a downed teammate, because of the fact that line of sight (and a clear shot) with the teammate is needed. In my opinion, it is less useful than Rook's armor plates because of how active Doc needs to be to aid his teammates. Not to mention, at higher levels, a higher percentage of kills are headshots, which Doc can't do anything about. Plus he doesn't have impact grenades, which kind of sucks, but he can have a bulletproof camera, which is nice. I mostly put Rook and Doc in the same category as they are very similar, and play nearly identically, the only real differences between them come down to personal play style preferences.
C-Tier
Frost Fun to play for sure, but at higher ranks, and when playing against coordinated teams, it's usually very hard to catch anyone with her Welcome Mats. Her weapon selection is also not that great, her shotgun is decent, and her SMG does pretty decent damage, but has a very low fire rate. At least she can have a bulletproof camera, but there are simply better trap operators to play as.
Caviera Good for deep roaming and being very sneaky, as she can counter Jackal as well as move around quietly with Silent Step active, but hard to use effectively in higher ranks, or against teams with good communication. Difficult to take on more than one enemy at a time with her, unless you're using her SMG, which is fairly subpar with a low fire rate. She's not very good at anchoring if the need arises, and is mostly a pure roamer, with impact grenades and 3-speed. While a good interrogation can change the course of a round, it's hard to accomplish if the attacking team sticks together, even if they're barely communicating with each other. Like Frost, there are simply better roamers to play as, with more utility outside of just being a roamer.
Kapkan I'll be honest, if Kapkan didn't get buffed, he'd probably be in D Tier with Tachanka. His impact grenades and 2-speed are pretty much the only things that save him from D Tier. His SMG is pretty good but the rest of his loadout isn't that good, his gadget is (like Dokkaebi's) usually more of an annoyance now that it doesn't completely kill, and just does some damage on contact. Like Frost, again, there are simply better trap operators to play as.
D-Tier
Tachanka Meme Tier, useless gadget, subpar weapons, pretty much no one unironically plays Tachanka.
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