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Analysis by accidentalgreed
Zeke - Past Unknown

5

Obtainable as a 5 only

Hero Stats

Max Avg Total Stats at Lvl 40
168
HP 40
ATK 40
SPD 15
DEF 38
RES 35

Stat Variations

Level 1 Stat Variation
5★
HP ATK SPD DEF RES
Low 17 6 4 7 10
Middle 18 7 5 8 11
High 19 8 6 9 12

Level 40 Stat Variations
5★
HP ATK SPD DEF RES
Low 36 36 12 35 32
Middle 40 40 15 38 35
High 43 43 19 42 38

IV Sets

Key stats worth increasing through nature if possible.
Complementary stats that matter, but not to the point of picking them over key stats for nature increase.
Relatively worthless stat that can safely be decreased through nature.
HPATKSPDDEFRES

Skill Sets

This is a person of fiction. Names, characters, business, events and incidents are the products of the queen's imagination. Any resemblance to suspiciously dumb blonde knights from Grust is purely coincidental. (Low-Investment / General-Use Tank)

Build by accidentalgreed
Recommended
Holy Gradivus A Atk/Def Catch 4
Positional Assist B Lull Atk/Def 3
Bonfire
Alternate: Sol
C Def/Res Menace
Alternate: Atk Smoke 3
IVs

+ATK or +DEF or +RES / -SPD

SAtk/Def Solo 3
Alternate: Mystic Boost 3

Show Explanation/Analysis

Weapon: Holy Gradivus

Assist: Positional Assist

Special: Sol / Bonfire

Passive A: Atk/Def Catch 4

Passive B: Lull Atk/Def

Passive C: Def/Res Menace / Atk Smoke

Sacred Seal: Atk/Def Solo / Mystic Boost / Atk/Def Form

  • Not much else is needed to get Zeke up and running, as the developers gave him a clear and synergistic base kit that works splendidly with his weapon and statline. In particular, Holy Gradivus essentially gets rid of the need to run Quick Riposte or Distant Counter — something other slow and bulky units usually need to do. Thus, this allows him to run: 
    • Atk/Def Catch in the A-slot, which is a great default Attack and Defense augment with pretty easy conditions.
    • ...and Lull Atk/Def in the B-slot, a default skill of which he can ask almost nothing better as it improves both his bulk and damage output while applying a debuff disadvantage on the enemy. 
  • With further dual-phase stat boosts from the Sacred Seal (Atk/Def Solo and Atk/Def Form or similar come to mind), Zeke becomes a formidable all-around threat with strong follow-up attacks in both phases, as long as you play with a good brain and keep his HP above 25%. 
  • For the most part, Def/Res Menace is a great default to keep given it improves both types of Zeke's great defenses while improving the damage output of himself and potentially other magic-using allies for the Resistance part of the skill. Atk Smoke is cheap and ultimately consistent, though, given it can reduce the Attack of multiple enemies in range rather than one singular unit per turn. 
  • To maintain the automatic follow-up conditions of Holy Gradivus, one can opt to run self-sufficient sustain skills such as Sol or Mystic Boost for longer-winded battles. Else, focusing on damage output through stat skills and Bonfire is valid.

chewing on ghast's fingers for views (Aether Raids Offense / Resistance Stacking)

Build by accidentalgreed
Recommended
Holy Gradivus A Mirror Stance 3
Alternate: Atk/Res Solo (3 or 4)
Positional Assist B Lull Atk/Def 3
Iceberg
Alternate: Sol
C Atk Smoke 3
Alternate: Def/Res Menace
IVs

+ATK or +RES / -SPD

SMirror Stance 2
Alternate: Mystic Boost 3

Show Explanation/Analysis

Weapon: Holy Gradivus

Assist: Positional Assist

Special: Iceberg / Sol / Noontime

Passive A: Atk/Res Solo / Mirror Stance 3 / Bracing Stance 3 / Atk/Res Unity 

Passive B: Lull Atk/Def

Passive C: Atk Smoke / Def/Res Menace / Pulse Smoke

Sacred Seal: Mirror Stance / Mystic Boost / Fort. Def/Res / Bracing Stance

  • Zeke coming with a distant countering weapon in Holy Gradivus and a great base 35 Resistance to go along with it means that Resistance stacking is totally in the cards for him. In particular, superinvestment in Resistance helps Zeke be more properly prepared for a majority of Aether Raids defenses as many top defending units are magic-weilding. 
  • Otherwise, the skeleton of the build isn't that different from Zeke's base build; all we're simply doing here is swapping out Atk/Def-based A-slot and Sacred seals for Resistance-based stat swings. 
    • For optimal dual-phase performance in the A-slot, Atk/Res Solo and Atk/Res Unity allow Zeke to gain some nice additional Attack and Resistance when honoring their respective positioning conditions. Mirror Stance 3 or Bracing Stance 3 pushes Zeke into the enemy phase pigeonhole but grants the ever-appreciated Guard effect, making Special charging even slower if not outright impossible for his enemy. Stalling the enemy Special also mostly compensates for his lack of true countermeasures against Null Follow-Up users.
    • Most of what's been said for the A-slot also applies to the Sacred Seal; if Zeke isn't using Mystic Boost as a complementary source of sustain or enemy healer suppression, he should be running a good Atk/Res or Def/Res stat Seal here. 
    • Zeke's higher investment in Resistance makes Iceberg the preferred burst Special over Bonfire now, though Sol (or Noontime with Geirskögul support) are at your call if prioritizing survival. 
  • There's still pretty much nothing better than Zeke's default Lull Atk/Def (for lack of options anyway, no thanks to being a cavalry unit), which serves to generally improve his tankiness by debuffing the enemy's power and defense for basically free. 
  • For Aether Raids carry play, Zeke will prefer a Smoke style as Menace's single-target behavior won't exactly prepare him against multiple fights in one sitting. Atk Smoke is easily accessible and generally improves Zeke's tankiness further by cutting the enemy's attack power. Pulse Smoke is specifically useful against setups which rely on defenders with precharged Specials. Finally, Zeke's base Def/Res Menace is still pretty good as far as general gameplay is concerned and makes him generally more self-sufficient in the stats control department. 

Tatiana Simp (Offensive / Player Phase Focus)

Build by accidentalgreed
Holy Gradivus A Atk/Def Catch 4
Alternate: Death Blow (3 or 4)
Positional Assist B A/D Near Trace 3
Alternate: Lull Atk/Def 3
Moonbow
Alternate: Bonfire
C Atk/Def Menace
Alternate: Def/Res Menace
IVs

+ATK 

SAtk/Def Solo 3
Alternate: Death Blow 3

Show Explanation/Analysis

Weapon: Holy Gradivus

Assist: Positional Assist

Special: Moonbow / Bonfire / Ruptured Sky

Passive A: Atk/Def Catch 4 / Death Blow / Atk/Def Solo

Passive B: A/D Near Trace / Lull Atk/Def

Passive C: Atk/Def Menace / Def/Res Menace / Atk Smoke

Sacred Seal: Atk/Def Solo / Death Blow / Sturdy Blow

  • Thanks to the guaranteed follow-up effect of Holy Gradivus, Zeke can run a pretty formidable (albeit comparable to Duessel) blitz-style build focused on building up damage and bringing down the enemy mainly by initiating combat. 
  • Even though this build very closely resembles the first build (and plays mostly the same in most circumstances), a few changes can cater Zeke to a totally offensive approach. Of particular note are the optional additions of A/D Near Trace, a 2 CD Special, and Death Blow:
    • A/D Near Trace's in-combat debuffs are similar to Lull Atk/Def. However, Zeke trades the ability to nullify enemy buffs for post-combat movement, which can prove useful in escaping enemy range after a fight. Given that Zeke already comes with Lull by default and Trace skills are a little difficult to come by at this moment of writing, though, Lull Atk/Def is a perfectly good default.
    • Moonbow or Ruptured Sky as Zeke's Special are preferred over most things else as they are likely to activate in one round with their lower cooldown. If you're willing to put up with a slight delay for higher reward, Bonfire is still a great choice with Zeke's fantastic Defense stat. 
    • Though the likes of Atk/Def Catch and Solo have easy enough activation conditions that forgoing their dual-phase nature isn't entirely recommended, you can run Death Blow in the A-slot, Sacred Seal, or both for an easy Attack swing in player phase exclusively. 

Strengths

Holy Gradivus 

Zeke's version of the legendary weapon Gradivus continues the mysteriously commonplace legacy of having Distant Counter built into it, allowing him to counterattack ranged units without needing to waste his A-slot on it. Even more fortunately, Zeke avoids the curse of having Distant Counter being the sole effect of the lance — Holy Gradivus comes with a guaranteed follow-up attack if Zeke's HP remains above 25% HP. Not only does this also save Zeke the trouble of wasting a slot on Quick Riposte, but it also primes his damage output and performance whether he's tanking or initiating combat against most enemies. It's a very simple and effective weapon overall.

Optimized Statline

In exchange for basically dumping Speed, which is mostly a non-issue given the follow-up effect of Holy Gradivus, Zeke enjoys a balanced but substantial stat distribution everywhere else. Most notably, he isn't cursed with terrible Resistance like other cavalry units — it sits at a solid base 35, giving him great magical durability while giving the Distant Counter effect of Holy Gradivus more mileage. 40 Atk also means Zeke isn't too shabby at all in the hitting department, as long as he's built with other Attack swing skills. 

Cavalry Perks

Increased movement and access to the Lull and Near Trace skill lines are things Zeke very much appreciates from being a cavalry unit.

Weaknesses

Null Follow-Up / HP-Conditional Follow-Up

Due to Zeke's basically non-existent follow-up potential outside of Holy Gradivus, he's rather reliant on said weapon for a threatening offensive presence. Faced against some form of Null Follow-Up, Zeke will find himself dealing significantly less without a follow-up attack. 

Similarly, should Zeke fall below 25% HP, he will basically be locked out of his weapon's follow-up effect entirely until healed up. Given Zeke's only-sufficient base 40 HP — which can't be refined for +5 HP and leaves Zeke reliant on Mythic or Legendary Blessings to increase — this is, unfortunately, a pretty easy pitfall to run into.

Lack of Stat Effects in Holy Gradivus

It can be argued that many recently-released units are mainly as threatening as they are because of the many stat swing effects built into their weapons. For instance, players tend to dread facing Legendary Chrom, Fallen Edelgard, and Zeke's Magvellian counterpart, Duessel, as their weapons apply a noticeable Atk/Def -6 in-combat under extremely easy conditions. The normal and Legendary versions of Sigurd are also worth comparison as they gain large attack boosts in addition with a guaranteed follow-up. In short, stats in a weapon is a fantastic thing to have in this day and age.

Zeke's Holy Gradivus, unfortunately, spares none of that, perhaps due to the trade-off of Distant Counter already present. While Zeke still poses a great threat due to the secondary follow-up effect in the weapon, he will essentially be reliant on his passives and Sacred Seal to strengthen his raw bulk and power. Though his base kit spares you a lot of this worry, it's something to chew on for alternative builds — he can't run a straight nuking or Galeforce builds as swimmingly well as Duessel. Simply put, Zeke tends to be less scarier in the stats department than other threats.

Cavalry Blues

Zeke suffers from terrain lockouts, which tends to render him less effective in areas with forests or cavalry trenches. Due to the previous rise of high-tier cavalry units such as Legendary Sigurd and Legendary Lilina, Zeke may also find himself wary of an increasing number of cavalry-effective weaponry. Finally, though blessed with awesome skill access with Lulls and Near Trace, there are pretty much no other exciting B-slot inheritance options to spice up Zeke's playstyle more.

Weapon Skills

Weapons SP Rng. Mt.
Iron Lance
Learns by default at 1 ★
Unlocks at 1 ★
Lance Users Only
50 1 6
Steel Lance
Learns by default at 3 ★
Unlocks at 2 ★
Lance Users Only
100 1 8
Silver Lance
Learns by default at 4 ★
Unlocks at 3 ★
Lance Users Only
200 1 11
Holy GradivusUnit can counterattack regardless of foe's range. At start of combat, if unit's HP ≥ 25%, unit makes a guaranteed follow-up attack.
Learns by default at 5 ★
Unlocks at 5 ★
Non-Inheritable skill.
400 1 16
Weapon Evolution
Weapon Upgrades
Weapon Upgrades

Special Skills

Special Skills SP Turns
Glowing EmberBoosts damage dealt by 50% of unit's Def.
Learns by default at 4 ★
Unlocks at 3 ★
Non-inheritable by Staff-wielding units.
100 4
BonfireBoosts damage dealt by 50% of unit's Def.
Unlocks at 4 ★
Non-inheritable by Staff-wielding units.
200 3

Passive Skills

Passive Skills SP Slot
Atk/Def Catch 1At start of combat, if foe's HP = 100% or if【Penalty】is active on foe, grants Atk/Def+3 to unit during combat.  【Penalty】 All effects that last "on foe through its next action." Includes penalties inflicted by a skill like Panic or Threaten and negative status effects (preventing counterattacks, restricting movement, or the effects of a skill like Triangle Adept or Guard).
Cavalry & Flying Only
Unlocks at 2 ★
60
A
Atk/Def Catch 2At start of combat, if foe's HP = 100% or if【Penalty】is active on foe, grants Atk/Def+4 to unit during combat.  【Penalty】 All effects that last "on foe through its next action." Includes penalties inflicted by a skill like Panic or Threaten and negative status effects (preventing counterattacks, restricting movement, or the effects of a skill like Triangle Adept or Guard).
Cavalry & Flying Only
Unlocks at 3 ★
120
A
Atk/Def Catch 3At start of combat, if foe's HP = 100% or if【Penalty】is active on foe, grants Atk/Def+5 to unit during combat.  【Penalty】 All effects that last "on foe through its next action." Includes penalties inflicted by a skill like Panic or Threaten and negative status effects (preventing counterattacks, restricting movement, or the effects of a skill like Triangle Adept or Guard).
Cavalry & Flying Only
Unlocks at 4 ★
240
A
Atk/Def Catch 4At start of combat, if foe's HP = 100% or if【Penalty】is active on foe, grants Atk/Def+7 to unit during combat. At start of combat, if foe's HP = 100% and【Penalty】is active on foe, grants an additional Atk/Def+2 to unit during combat.  【Penalty】 All effects that last "on foe through its next action." Includes penalties inflicted by a skill like Panic or Threaten and negative status effects (preventing counterattacks, restricting movement, or the effects of a skill like Triangle Adept or Guard).
Cavalry & Flying Only
Unlocks at 5 ★
300
A
Lull Atk/Def 1Inflicts Atk/Def-1 on foe and neutralizes foe's bonuses to Atk/Def (from skills like Fortify, Rally, etc.) during combat.
Excludes Armor and Flying units.
Unlocks at 1 ★
60
B
Lull Atk/Def 2Inflicts Atk/Def-2 on foe and neutralizes foe's bonuses to Atk/Def (from skills like Fortify, Rally, etc.) during combat.
Excludes Armor and Flying units.
Unlocks at 2 ★
120
B
Lull Atk/Def 3Inflicts Atk/Def-3 on foe and neutralizes foe's bonuses to Atk/Def (from skills like Fortify, Rally, etc.) during combat.
Unlocks at 4 ★
240
B
Threaten Def 1Inflicts Def-3 on foes within 2 spaces through their next actions at the start of each turn
Inheritable by all units.
Unlocks at 2 ★
50
C
Threaten Def/Res 1At start of turn, inflicts Def/Res-3 on foes within 2 spaces of unit through their next actions.
Inheritable by all units.
Unlocks at 3 ★
100
C
Threaten Def/Res 2At start of turn, inflicts Def/Res-4 on foes within 2 spaces of unit through their next actions.
Inheritable by all units.
Unlocks at 4 ★
200
C
Def/Res MenaceAt start of turn, if unit is within 4 spaces of a foe, inflicts Def/Res-6 on closest foes through their next actions and grants Def/Res+6 to unit for 1 turn.
Inheritable by all units.
Unlocks at 5 ★
300
C

Other Info

Origin
Fire Emblem Echoes

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