Dragonstone users are powerful heroes that have access to unique weapons while also featuring above average stats and melee magic damage (takes into account the enemy Res instead of Def). They usually come with buffing or debuffing weapons and passives, which, combined with their great defensive stats, make for awesome defensive/tank units.
Enter Nowi, a dragon holding the amazing Lightning Breath, a melee weapon that can counter ranged attacks at the expense of delaying your special by one charge, while also sporting high Atk, HP and relatively good Def and Res. Being a blue unit, Nowi is possibly the most useful beast in the game right now alongside Young Tiki, who is a red hero and, as such, is often outshone by red sword users.
Nowi’s great Defense stat is quite rare on an infantry character with high Attack, which combined with her ranged counter-attack, makes for a great counter for both red melee heroes and ranged gray units. Both of these categories are always very popular on the Arena, and that makes Nowi one of the best anti-meta heroes out there.
Keep in mind that this guide takes into account a 5 star hero with neutral IV’s for most calculations, although the best boons and banes are also discussed here.
BUILDS AND COMBOS
Triangle Adept helps Nowi assure her strength against red units, which are currently very common — even when facing Falchion users, whose passive is giving 1.5x damage to dragons, Nowi can still easily win trades. Quick-Riposte is specially good for this since she will hardly ever double someone, but two of her attacks with Triangle Adept are enough to kill any red unit.
Despite the disadvantage that Triangle Adept brings against green units, this combo still works very well since green heroes are not as common as red ones, and those who are (Nino, Julia) already makes short work of her. Keep in mind that Quick Riposte is only active when above 70% HP, so you should try to keep her healthy in order to bait and get an easy kill on a red unit.
Using Triangle Adept alongside Lancebreaker also ensures that Nowi can handle any red hero while also countering lance wielders, which can be good if you do not have better ways to keep blue heroes in check. While this does mean that she can counter two types of units, this build is extremely offensive and gives up one of the most optimal skills for her, Quick-Riposte.
Another option is to put Vantage on her, which always has potential to single-handedly turn a battle upside-down and works very well with characters that can counter regardless of range. But Nowi’s attack is not too high for Vantage to be considered a must, since it isn’t enough to OHKO almost nobody in the game.
Another great and potentially even more reliant combo is Fury, which boosts her already amazing stats, and Swordbreaker, which similarly to Triangle Adept is used to decimate sword wielders. Here you don’t have so much disadvantage against green units while still being a counter to the more popular red swords and getting to have a whopping +3 on every stat but HP, which is very optimal on Nowi given her well spread stats.
Be aware though that TA works against any red unit, while Swordbreaker is only useful when facing sword users(which is actually Nowi’s main concern because of Falchion users). Fury also makes you lose 6 HP every time you enter a battle, which does not synergize too well with Swordbreaker.
All in all, both combos are very similar and still focus on her perfect stats for killing red heroes. In both cases, because of Quick-Riposte and Swordbreaker, you will want Nowi to keep her HP relatively high until she faces the you need to counter, and once these threats are gone, her job should be pretty much done.
Being a great tank and niche counter, most of the time in battle Nowi will be baiting and taking hits for her allies while letting them do the dirty job. Since Quick-Riposte is only active in the enemy’s turn and Swordbreaker is still useful when being attacked, Nowi can spend her action buffing allies with Rally Speed or Rally Attack on teams that have great offensive units, or just using repositioning skill such as Reposition, Pivot and even Swap in order to take the frontline and keep her friends safe.
Her C slot is also very flexible: you can either take a Hone/Fortify skill that your team does not have already, or just sport a Threaten Atk/Res in order to take less damage or hit harder, respectively. As her Seal, you will want to give either +HP or +Attack on her, since they are the most useful for her right now.
On her Special slot, since you will most probably stick with Lightning Breath as her weapon, you will want a skill with short cooldowns, like Moonbow, which is a very strong option because it is one of the Specials with less charge needed in the game and will proc if Nowi has Quick Riposte and gets doubled on the first enemy turn, ignoring 30% of the enemy’s Resistance, which gives her about +7~10 damage on the very first battle. On the other hand, Bonfire will always grant her +15 damage which is almost double the damage, but it will only be active after a whole round, when it’s her time to strike, since it will need 4 charges.
ROLES AND STRATEGIES
Nowi is best used as a frontline hero in a team where she is not the main source of damage because, even if her Atk is not bad, her Spd makes her unable to double attack most units while getting doubled by many popular heroes. She also excels at dominating sword users, making her very useful in any team lacking red counters.
For that reason, Nowi is quite perfect for a buff-centric team with Rally Attack or Rally Speed on her assist and Hone/Fortify of whatever buffs your team doesn’t have yet, while one of her damage team mates run Ardent Sacrifice or Reciprocal Aid to both enter Desperation/Vantage range and keep Nowi healthy for multiple Quick Riposte or Swordbreaker activations. She also specially works very well as a support for Nino, since she can take care of the red units while buffing the green Blade tome user, ramping up her power even more.
Nowi also fits on pretty much any team needing a red counter, although her damage output is lower than any of the blue mages. Also, she can still take a hit from most blue and gray heroes without dying and while dealing some damage back regardless of range, making for a good bruiser unit against anything that isn’t green.
In the Dragon Emblem team, which is a party of dragonstone users receiving lots of defensive boosts from Ninian’s Fortify Dragons, Nowi has a very important job of protecting her team from the fearsome Falchion users. She is the best dragon out there to kill blue heroes and she has one of the highest Attacks too, although here you will probably use three units to counter each of the colors instead of having one or two characters with high offensive power, while Ninian acts as a Support/Dancer.
The Dragon Emblem is a fun team to experiment with but unfortunately it’s currently a little weak since there are no units to benefit from the stats boost as much as Blade tome users do on the Horse Emblem team.
BOONS AND BANES
Nowi is one of the few units that makes use of all of her stats, and because of this, most boons and banes are still alright for her. In fact, using the first build, Nowi can kill any red heroes in the game regardless of her IV’s if she lets them attack her first, except for Zephiel if she has -Spd bane (which shouldn’t be too much of a problem since she can kill him on her turn).
That being said, +Atk makes sure that Nowi can hit harder against other heroes, and +Spd puts her away from being doubled by Kagero, which would be the only non green unit to kill her granted that the enemy attack her first. +Def could be interesting if she needs to fight a lot of heroes since she would take less damage in the long run, but doesn’t save her from being oneshot by Kagero.
-Res is by far her best bane possible, since her Resistance is not her best stat already, and while -HP is also very good, it makes it a little harder for Quick Riposte and Swordbreaker to be active. However, if Nowi has either of those, she will also be oneshot by Linde.
As you can probably tell, Nowi is not affected so much by boons and banes as are some of the other characters, the main difference being just one or two heroes that can kill or that are not killed by her. Your best option would probably be a neutral Nowi, or a +Spd/-Def if you really fear being oneshot, although -Def means that you will be taking more damage from characters you are supposed to counter.
No matter what build you use, Nowi will always fear green units, specially mages and heroes with high speed or Brave Axes. In fact, part of the reason that Nowi is so good with Triangle Adept is that she suffers a lot against her disadvantages either way.
Julia seems to be specially made to wreck Nowi: not only is she a green mage with high Attack, her signature tome, Naga, also deals extra damage against dragons, which sums up to deal 60 damage on Nowi even without TA. Nino also kills her on one round regardless of skills, although she takes two attacks to do so, while Hector is not able to kill her in one turn even if she has TA.
Nowi also needs to have either Triangle Adept or Swordbreaker in order to survive most Falchion users, or else she will die to Lucina on one round and in the long run for every other wielder of the divine sword. Because of this, her builds can’t escape having one of these skills since her main strength is dealing with these popular heroes anyways.