Fate/Apocrypha: Which Faction is Stronger?

Fate/Apocrypha: Which Faction is Stronger?

Discussion Introduction

Ever since I watched Fate/Apocrypha I’ve wanted to dissect both factions and pit them against each other based on their in-series lore and, more importantly, Fate/Grand Order counterparts. So, since I’m finally all caught up on anime series reviews, that’s exactly what I’m going to do today.

Let’s set a few ground rules before getting into the discussion. First, I don’t actually remember which faction “won” at the end of Apocrypha — so that’s irrelevant here. But, I do remember some of the fights and will be using some of them as evidence for my own theory-crafting. I’m just doing this for fun, after all.

And second, while I’m going to be looking at rarity, stats, and active and passive skills from FGO to an extent, I’m not going to go super in-depth. If a particular skill or Noble Phantasm is relevant, I’ll mention it. If not, I won’t.

Red vs. Black

When I first had the idea to write this article, years ago at this point, I assumed that it would be an easy victory for the Red Faction. Both factions have strong servants. But the Red Faction seems to have a lot more powerful (SSR) servants than Black.

So, when it came time to start actually diving into this topic, I was shocked to find that the Factions are actually a lot more balanced than I expected. And, if we look at the rarities of the servants on both sides, the Black Faction is, surprisingly (to me, at least), the stronger contender.

I added up all the rarities of the servants, with common servants being worth 1 point up to SSR servants being worth 5. If we consider both factions have 8 servants (3 knights, 4 cavalries, and 1 ruler), the Red Faction ends up with 32 points to the Black Faction’s 34.

The Red and Black Factions from the anime series Fate/Apocrypha
The Red and Black Factions

Red Faction Servants – (32)

  • Ruler – Amakusa Shirou (5)
  • Saber – Mordred (5)
  • Archer – Atalanta (4)
  • Lancer – Karna (5)
  • Rider – Achilles (5)
  • Assassin – Semiramis (5)
  • Caster – Shakespeare (2)
  • Berserker – Spartacus (1)

Black Faction Servants – (34)

  • Ruler – Jeanne d’Arc (5)
  • Saber – Siegfried (4)
  • Archer – Chiron (4)
  • Lancer – Vlad III (5*)
  • Rider – Astolfo (4)
  • Assassin – Jack the Ripper (5)
  • Caster – Avicebron (3)
  • Berserker – Frankenstein (4)

* In case you’re wondering why I’m labeling Vlad III as an SSR servant here despite his Lancer-class version being an SR in FGO, there are two reasons. The first is minor, but it’s that his appearance in Apocrypha matches his SSR Berserker-class appearance.

The second is what really matters — the location of the Holy Grail War. In Apocrypha, it was mentioned that Vlad III is at his strongest because the Holy Grail War is taking place in Wallachia, where he and the vampire Dracula who’s based on him originate from.

Class-Based Servant Matchups

In this section, I’ll be taking a look at how the servants match up against their class counterparts from the opposing faction. Ruler vs. Ruler, Saber vs. Saber, etc.

Ruler

This Ruler class matchup really hurts me on a personal level. I love Jeanne — I’ve been trying (and failing) to get her since 2017 in FGO. But, I have to admit that in a 1v1 matchup against Amakusa, she loses.

If you haven’t played FGO, allow me to explain why this is. Jeanne’s Noble Phantasm protects herself and her allies. That’s great, it’s part of the reason why I like her. Amakusa’s Noble Phantasm, on the other hand, removes all buffs of his opponents and then deals damage to them. Basically, he’s the perfect counter to Jeanne.

I have to give this match-up to the Red Faction.

Saber

The battle of the Sabers seemed like it would be straightforward to me. If you don’t know, Mordred is one of my favorite servants. And, as such, I kind of assumed she would wipe the floor with Siegfried.

I don’t actually remember how their fight ends in the Apocrypha anime. But, I did remember something about Siegfried that made me reconsider my assumption that Mordred would easily win. Siegfried has some significant anti-dragon buffs. And unfortunately for Mordred, she has the dragon trait.

Still, Mordred is significantly stronger than Siegfried. I think she also had the most confirmed kills of any servant in Apocrypha. So, even though the fight would be closer than I initially thought, Mordred takes it for the Red Faction.

Mordred from the anime series Fate/Apocrypha
Mordred

Archer

Atalanta vs. Chiron is a match-up that’s kind of the opposite of Mordred vs. Siegfried in that I initially thought it was a coin flip but then realized there’s a clear answer. On the surface, I’d say either one of these servants could win the Archer fight.

What made me change my mind, however, is the fact that Atalanta Alter also exists within Apocrypha. Again, I don’t remember who defeated her in the end. But if I reconsider the fight to be Atalanta/Atalanta Alter vs. Chiron, it’s less of a toss-up.

For the third time in a row, I’m saying Red Faction wins.

Lancer

Can you guess which faction’s Lancer servant I think is going to win? That’s right, it’s the Red Faction again. This matchup is Karna vs. Vlad, which you would think Vlad would have the advantage in considering he’s the ruler of Wallachia and so gets a major buff. He’s also kind of hard to kill as a vampire.

There’s just one, teeny-tiny problem for Vlad: Karna is literally divine. If you’re saying “so what?” right now, allow me to explain why Karna is the single most powerful servant in Fate/Apocrypha.

Under normal Holy Grail War rules, divine servants can’t be summoned. They’re just too strong. That’s why you’re not seeing anyone summon Ishtar. I mean, in FGO: Babylonia, she opened a space-time gate to summon the planet Venus. Other servants just can’t compete with that.

Karna isn’t divine in the sense that he’s a god. But he is a demi-god, making him the strongest by a considerable margin. After all, it took the combined effort of Siegfried, Astolfo, Achilles, and luck to take him down in the Apocrypha anime.

Rider

Guess what. The Red Faction wins again. I don’t think too many people would argue against this one, though. Yes, everyone loves Astolfo — he’s great. But there’s no way he’s defeating Achilles to become the top Rider.

Achilles has a level of divinity, but not to Karna’s extent. Even so, he’s leagues ahead of Astolfo. I’m sorry Astolfo fans, but you have to admit this one.

Assassin

Okay, so all of the match-ups so far have gone the Red Faction’s way. That stops here. The Assassins in question are Semiramis for the Red Faction and Jack for the Black Faction.

Jack takes the Black Faction’s first victory here because her niche is that she’s an anti-female servant. Semiramis is female. It’s pretty straightforward in my eyes.

Unrelated, but I have NP4 Jack in FGO because she kept showing up while I was rolling for Jeanne. I’m not salty (maybe a bit).

Caster

The Black Faction also gets what I’m going to say is the easiest victory of all the match-ups in the Caster class fight. Shakespeare isn’t a combatant, and so can’t really do anything to prevent himself from being crushed by Avicebron’s golem.

I know at the end of Apocrypha Shakespeare did play an important role for his faction. But, this is a 1v1 fight I’m considering. I don’t see a situation in which Avicebron loses.

Berserker

Finally, we have the Berserkers. Spartacus is the Berserker of Red, while Frankenstein is the Berserker of Black. I think you could make a good argument for either side, but I’m going to give it to Frankenstein primarily due to Spartacus’s personality.

Spartacus is a true Berserker in that he has absolutely no sense of self-preservation. He might well be stronger than Frankenstein one-on-one. But, I think his “just click red” style of combat isn’t very well-suited to winning fights outside of FGO gameplay.

Overall Team Dynamics

Alright, so based on the 1v1 match-ups, you might think the Red Faction is overwhelmingly stronger despite having fewer servant rarity points in total. But, if all the servants were to fight each other in 8v8 team combat, I think it’d be pretty close.

Yes, the Red Faction still has some significant advantages, most notably Amakusa and Karna. As long as Amakusa is around, the Black Faction has no reliable way of dealing with the might of Karna. And, this is why the fight actually comes down to which side loses their Ruler first.

Jeanne d'Arc and Siegfried from the anime series Fate/Apocrypha
Jeanne d’Arc and Siegfried

If the Black Faction takes down Amakusa, then they can protect themselves from Karna and the other Red Faction powerhouses, like Mordred and Achilles, with Jeanne’s Noble Phantasm. At that point, I do think the Black Faction could win. That’s how significant Jeanne’s defensive buffs are.

Nobody else on the Red Faction aside from Amakusa has any way of removing or penetrating the invincibility Jeanne can grant to her team. But, how would they take down Amakusa? Jack and Vlad seem to be the best bets.

How would the Red Faction win, then? Well, they’d first have to protect Amakusa from both Jack and Vlad because those two are the biggest threats to him as I just mentioned. It would also serve them well to take down Jeanne.

With Jeanne out of the way, losing Amakusa wouldn’t be as big of an issue. Amakusa’s main role is simply to counter Jeanne. With Jeanne gone, there’s no reliable way to stop Shakespeare (if he’s still alive) from buffing the likes of Karna and Mordred and having them wipe out the Black Faction.

Conclusion

As I predicted at the start, the Red Faction is superior to the Black faction. The Red servants beat out the Black servants 1v1 in most cases, in my opinion. And, I think the Red Faction also has a better team composition. Amakusa removes defensive buffs from the enemy, and then Shakespeare buffs the heavy hitters like Karna and Mordred to take advantage of that.

But, I’d like to know what you think. Do you disagree with any of my 1v1 match-up outcomes? Which ones and why? And do you think the Black Faction has a better overall composition? Let me know in the comments.

If you enjoyed this theory-crafting article, click the like button down below. I may do more in the future with different Holy Grail Wars. Also, follow me over on Twitter @DoubleSama and come join our Discord Server if you’re interested in discussing anime with other members of the community.

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