Infographic (January 2023)
Character Notes & RecommendationsHave updates or suggestions? Contact us via Reddit or Discord, find our info Behind the Scenes!
Summon Board Passive selections:
Odin choose 4 / 5 / 7
Bahamut choose 4 / 5 / 6
Ifrit, Shiva, Ramuh, Brothers 4 / 5 / 7
Leviathan, Pandemonium, Diabolos, Alexander 4 / 5 / 6
For more details and help with summons, check Summon Hub!
C Spheres - Use Maria, Alphinaud or Llyud to boost the party's ATK
D Sphere - Any ATK or mBRV based sphere is excellent for her, and avoid any that trigger based on a broken target.
Haste Rumba (S1) grants her allies ATK/SPD up buffs and places her in Rhumba stance
Regen Walts (S2) grants the BRV/HP regens on party and places her in Waltz stance
Both of these skills are instant turn rate with all weapon and crystal passives equipped and with the introduction of Shinryu and Force Gauge, you can use Penelo as a solid option to fill the Gauge using her S1 or S2 as they don't deal damage but she needs Force Enhancements which cost Enhancement Points and Force Shards/Fragments.
Intercession (EX) takes her target's BRV away and deals damage to enemies based. Both are based off her iBRV, the HP DMG is limited to her HP DMG Limit. It also heals the party and leaves her BRV untouched while maintaining her current stance buff.
Evanescence (LD) wakes her up inside by removing party debuffs and dealing tons of damage to enemies and batterying the party. It provides her her Liberty Dancer special effect which provides buffs to the party without taking up buff slots (aka an aura)
Resplendence (BT) and Liberty's Minnesang (FR) are covered a bit more in detail in the How-To-Play Notes section as there's quite a bit to say about them
Without BT effect up, her HP attacks vary depending on the stance she's in
HP++ (Rhumba Step) is a 5 HP attack to target with 2 HP splashes on other enemies.
HP++ (Waltz Step) is a fancier way of saying 5 HP attacks on target while hitting other enemies twice but also batteries Party.
Penelo is getting a GL first BT & FR, meaning we're getting these before the JP version and there is no foresight to rely on so we're going to have to really emphasize what she was already good at on top of what she's getting.
Well what is she getting? Let's break that down:
EX Rework - Her EX already did 5 HP attacks but now it deals the damage to all enemies
LD Board Rework - Her LD attack goes from 3 Full HP attacks to 5 matching her EX damage. She also gets her SPD up buff at Quest Start meaning she can trigger her speed passives and act before enemies finally (unless given a buff by an outside source she used to be very slow in the opening turn order).
New BT - Starting with her BT effects, she gets a big boost to useful stats and what makes them stand apart from other BT effects is with her blue HA and BT effects she provides 50% HP DMG Limit which is monstrous (Ramza has 51% HP DMG Limit with all buff slots full of buffs for comparison).
She also gains a Fusoya-like "BRV gain after HP attack" effect based on Penelo's HP DMG Limit which comes out after the usual "BRV gain after HP attacks based on HP DMG dealt" meaning it also circumvents Shinryu fights' BRV gain limit of 30% of any unit's given HP DMG Limit. (i.e. any given BRV gain is limited to 30% HP DMG Limit which hinders units with big BRV gains but low HP attacks like Rinoa, but Penelo effect would be able to provide 30% HP DMG Limit's worth of BRV gain for up to 60% total making her much comfier).
Finally we reach Fatal Dance. If you like Machina's Furious Blades (Burst), what if they gave Penelo the same attack but with HP splash each normal HP attack? Oh wait they did. 1 BRV hit doesn't seem that impactful and her BRV gain after HP attacks based on HP damage would get super limited right? Good thing her BT effect would give her more BRV gains and according to the SQEX Livestream splash HP attacks provide ANOTHER instance of her BT effect BRV gain (subject to change) which means every attack she does should be hitting HP DMG Limit with very little effort. But wait, there's more! It also Batteries Party (great for launches), Heals Party and reapplies her buffs to ensure Regens are up for her force conditions.
Her BT finisher despite having 5 HP attacks isn't very powerful since the HP DMG Limit is only +100% HP DG Limit.
Comparing her BT finisher vs her Fatal Dance with a launch
BT attack: 5 * 290K is 14.5M damage per enemy
Fatal Dance: 7 * 190K is 13.3M damage per enemy + 200k damage from 2 allies joining in launch (assuming they lack HA and UW which they probably won't) + 20% wall damage (1.5M) totals to 15.0M damage to main target. Adding ally HA, UW and outside HP DMG Limit effects increases the gap further with how many more HP attacks this combo has over the BT finisher's flat 5 attacks.
(Note: Penelo needs 60% extra HP DMG Limit - in addition to HA 3/3, UW 5/5 & her own BT effect - for Fatal Dance to match her BT finisher and any more has Fatal dance pulling away. 60% extra HP DMG Limit can be found from 2 BT effects and/or with supporting allies with HA+)
In conclusion, in Single Target fights, fights with a main boss and a side minion or fights with 2 equal enemies with a launchable target, Fatal Dance is the superior move to use so entering Penelo's Burst Phase with 6T left in Force Time is ideal. You can also opt for BT finisher -> next turn FR + 2 S1/S2 and enter BT phase with 8T left for a big summon hit (this can also be useful later for units with FR echo to take advantage of on the last turn of FR time as well). Just don't get too carried away with Supercharging before BT phase as it may require a bit more setup like Lunafreya LDCA/in party before FR time to ensure her BT effect lasts long enough for the entire BT phase. If you enter BT phase with 7T left of Force Time that's also probably fine if she's paired with linked attackers to melt enemy HP.
Side note: Unless you're Tidus, Cloud, Zidane, Yuna, or another unit with many HP attacks with high HP DMG limit on their BT finisher, you most likely want to enter Burst Phase with 6T left on Force Time as damage from regular buttons is surpassing the finisher from a mix of more HP attacks and increasing HP DMG Limit effects from more access to BT effects with it and Force Time effects providing it.
Speaking of her Force, that's a part of her GL first goodies! It's a non-attacking FR that removes the Party's debuffs, Heals Party, Batteries party, Restores a use of S1 & S2 and lets Penelo act right away again which is good because it asks for:
Party having 10+ buffs (20%)
Active party member BRV Regen (25%)
Active party member HP Regen (25%)
This sums to 70% increases for Penelo existing and giving out her buffs. Furthermore, it means if she uses S1/S2 in her Force Time she will gain 125% FR Bonus (which is as high as Hope's and tied for the highest bonus from a single action) which she can do a few times before passing the turn or hopping into BT phase with ease.
Before going into who she works well with (which is a wide array of attacking units), lets look at what holds her back. One thing holding her back is the amount of framed buff slots she takes up, one of which is SPD Up.
SPD Up makes her not mesh well in off-turn strategies as they want as little speed as possible to let enemies act and punish them for doing so.
Back to the buff slots, Penelo takes up 3 buff slots and many units have 2 framed buffs (1 from EX and 1 from LD usually) leaving 1 or 2 buff slots free for a very important buff. If you don't plan around this you can easily lock out units from crucial buffs that fall off and have to be reapplied (like Jack Garland's EX/BT buff or Cor's partner buff) or it locks you out of certain calls (like Lunafreya) so make sure the units you pair her with can handle the buffs. If they start with too many buffs and can't get her BRV/HP regens, they can lose the ability to raise her FR conditions well too!
"Penelo sucks because FR Echo kills her" or any variant of this point is hugely misinformed and should not be listened to. We'll cover FR Echo in more detail later, but in short FR Echo is being able to use a Force Ability during Force Time for big damage, extra percentage or new/better auras/conditions during the user's Force Time. This requires Force Boards - 5K more enhancement points needed - and the release schedule for these vary (Sorry Kain and Rinoa).
Penelo lacking echo does NOT demerit her as her BT effect, base auras and damage are worth bringing along
Using Echo during Force time WILL consume a use and doing so DOES NOT combine force conditions. Echo is purely either for the damage of the attack itself, prolonging Force Time another turn or quickly building up FR Bonus to for strong damage to follow.d having a good FR Time means she can be the FR to start things if you have units that pair with her well and have echo once they get their Force Boards. This also goes for any other solid FR units as content does not need to die in 1 FR and probably won't unless you heavily optimize and/or pull consistently.
One thing Penelo's FR does lack is a party aura during Force Time (ex. Machina FR provides Melee abilities with 50% HP DMG and HP DMG Limit during his Force Time).
With that out of the way, lets look at what she excels at! Boosting the Party's damage, doing good damage on turn and having a strong, comfy FR.
Penelo has support for days and her BT is icing on the cake enabling everyone and their mothers to do good HP damage. Her base support depends on keeping her LD special effect active and the stance she's in (Rhumba vs Waltz).
Both stances provide most of the same boosts but with varying values. The big takeaway is Rhumba focuses more on BRV Damage and ATK while Waltz focuses on iBRV and boosting BRV Gains.
If you're familiar with Hope FR, a very rough comparison to be made is she's a more aggressive Hope as she has BT, a strong transformed HP command from BT and her FR is friendlier to allies so when someone else has a chance to use her FR they will benefit more from Penelo than Hope due to higher increases.
Penelo can also be used as the dedicated damage dealer! Already touched on in her BT section, Fatal Dance is a nutty damaging button and with a BT phase, she can take her own or another Force Time and melt HP with it unless something mechanicallly stops her.
For those who don't care about the details and just want to know how to best use your newly obtained waifu here's the tl;dr:
She's a great FR Gauge filler and when it's at 100% you have a couple options:
You probably want to BT finisher right before her FR and BT phase to enter BT phase with 6T of BT effect left if you want her BT phase for damage
Otherwise use FR and spam S1/S2 for a couple of turns and passing the turn with BT finisher for another unit to BT phase also works.
Setting Up Force Time with Penelo
Theologica created a great video on how to utilize Penelo to setup ANY damage dealers Force Time that also covers future mechanics!
Penelo as a Damage Dealer
Destroth tested Penelo's personal Damage in a controlled environment that he tested other units with for a comparison, go be impressed by the big numbers!