Arena has become more accessible since its inception. Gone are the days where you had to either whale for DKali or Eschamali, or grind it out glacially with a NorseBound team. Myr is a farmable lead with no weaknesses in Arena, but what if you're tired of heart crossy shit? The super MP dragon ults all make short work of Arena, but what if you don't want to make the commitment to one yet? Read on to see if Minerva x Ilm (IlmNerva) is the right Arena pairing for you. IlmNerva has 2 distinct advantages over Myr, the gold standard for Arena leads at the time this guide was written. First, the pairing is extremely flexible with board space and orb activation. You don't need a cross to achieve your full multiplier, and you will do enough damage to kill Defoud or Stratios with simple 3-pack matches. Therefore, IlmNerva has about as easy a time with combo guards as can be expected, while Myr needs to work in a cross and whatever offensive awakenings are required to kill. Second, Minerva's built in shield allows for effortless, brainless, heartless stalling on ~60% of Arena spawns. Myr needs hearts to tank and must clear the board to keep cycling them in. Minerva can take several hits while doing 1 combo at a time, then blast through when orbs become available. However, IlmNerva has one weakness compared to Myr: damage absorbs. The pairing is susceptible to healing Sopdet, to the point where she triggers an automatic loss on ill-prepared teams. IlmNerva can handle Parv, but care must be taken to avoid letting her use Himalayan Anger, which ignores the shield and depending on team, surpasses the HP cap. To run IlmNerva is to accept the fact that you will face an uphill battle on Sop and Parv. There are precautions you can take, which I will discuss in the Team Basics section and the walkthrough, but expect to die once in a while to bad luck on these two. Subjectively, there could be other reasons to use IlmNerva besides how she compares to the gold standard. Maybe you're bored of heart cross and want to try a faster take on the tanky bicolor style. Maybe you want to see everyone explode in pretty colors before your Ilm and Saria boards. Maybe you just want a gorgeous Greek Goddess to wink at you while working for Piis. If IlmNerva sounds right for you, read on. Spoiler: Team Basics IlmNerva is pretty flexible with subs. The pairing takes anything that is at least part red and doesn't erase red or yellow. Rows, prongs, sparkles, or hybrid is viable. So I will not list out specific team builds. Experiment and you can always inherit an enhance if Kali becomes a problem. With God Killer subs, you have to go all or nothing. If you have one or two God Killer subs, you will find it impossible to kill Sopdet. You will end up damaging Sop with some subs and healing her with others at best, or at worse you will damage her consistently and still die for not doing enough. It is much easier to damage Sopdet with either zero God Killers, or 4. Generally speaking, you want to bring a bind clear, a heartmaker, a delay, and a red + yellow changer. A bind clear is highly recommended on Minerva, but you could also have her carry a delay and leave binds to someone like Gadius. No matter what team you build, you need to test your damage first. Go into Endless, pop an Ilm active, solve the board as appropriate for your team's rows or combos, and take a screenshot to examine how much damage it does. You need to shoot for about 3.5M damage per card, if you want to consistently beat Kali in 2 shots, or ~10M per card for a consistent one-shot. If you come up short on damage in your tests, you will need a gravity and/or an enhance. For example, a Sakuya gravity will allow you to escape Kali's high-health nuke with 2.8M per card instead of 3.5M. Sakuya gravity would also reduce the one-shot threshold for Kali from ~10M per card to 8.5M per card. The absolute best enhance for IlmNerva is probably Silk, given the abundance of sparkle awakenings on cards like Tsubaki, Cao, and Antares. Facet or Carat can also work well, or even something as simple as Freyr or Yomi. IlmNerva doesn't need a massive 4X enhance for Arena, so don't be afraid to experiment. A question asked more than it needs to for most teams is "what latents should I use?" Generally, a team only needs latents to the extent that they orevent death by pre-emptives. Latents matter little for IlmNerva because you can easily tank Dairy Queen and Lifive. SDR are nice if you have them. Otherwise, don't sweat the latents too much. Your badge should either be an HP badge or a finger badge, since none of the other ones really matter for IlmNerva. You have ample RCV/ATK by merit of the leader skills. Use the HP badge if it can push your HP above 31K, since this will enable you to survive Parv's rage attack. If your team already has 31K HP before badges, go for the finger badge for ease of clearing the board. Floor by floor walkthrough: Spoiler: F1-F6 F1- Nothing too threatening. Kill yellow ninjas before their countdown expires, but otherwise you are free to stall. Make sure you have 5 SBR before advancing, and stall as needed toward that end. Red and purple ninjas are free stalling buddies. F2- If Dark Izanami, try to kill immediately with a fast active. Her poison and jammers can be really bothersome. If Light Izanami, kill without actives; she hits soft and makes orbs for you. If Kaguya, whack her full blast so she turns yellow and revives. Then chip her down with partial activation (e.g. red but no yellow) until Resolve breaks, stall out the bind, and kill. F3- If Dragon Zombie or Voice, you can stall a few turns, especially if DIza spawned previously and reduced your orb time. Just keep the zombie above 50% while stalling. If Amon or Kamui, kill in the first turn or two. F4- Delay if you have it. These demons will brutally murder you if they survive with even 1 HP, so blast them harder than you think is sufficient. Shoot for a row plus full activation. F5- Kill Kraken or Griffin quickly, before they bind anyone. Can stall as needed on the others. But kill Phoenix within 7 turns to avoid his nuke. Everything on this floor is made of paper. F6- If you have a bind cleric, this floor is mostly safe as houses. If not, things could get rough. Clear binds and activate fully to clear the floor. Active if needed. If you get skill locked by Ra Tama, prioritize targets you don't resist and try not to panic. Can stall forever on Ra Tama and Rodin Tama. You need to kill Yomi Tama before she gets her 2nd move. Try to walk off skill lock before advancing. Spoiler: F7-F12 F7- if Zhou Yu, use Ilm the first turn and do your best to combo in the dark, letting Ilm's Dragon Killer do the work. Do not worry about rows or prongs. Just separate your combos as able. You must drop him below 50% in the first turn, or you are fucked. Kill second turn. If Zhang Fei or Zhao Yun, kill immediately. If Gaia, hoard hearts after she does "Clod of Blessing", and use them after she does "Earth Gravity." Delay or heartmaker if heart trolled with less than 18K HP. F8- Kill Hermes immediately, before he can bind anyone or make jammer skyfalls. All others can be killed without actives, with a few stall turns if needed. F9- really easy floor. The 2 Shieldra types you don't resist can't absorb you. Kill without actives. Stall as needed. F10- do not sleep on this floor. Even if you can resist their attacks, they have low HP and devastating rage attacks. If you must stall, do not match red or yellow. Kill with full activation, but don't use any huge actives. F11- if Ronia or Blonia, you can stall until a clean shot is lined up. If Gronia, you must delay or kill on the first turn. If LFagan, burst him like he's the demons you fought earlier. He has a brutal rage nuke. If DFagan, can stall a turn or two before killing. F12- Stall a few turns and try to kill without actives. Go ahead and kill early if the board permits. Full activation with a yellow prong should work, regardless of team. Spoiler: F13-F16 F13- If Osiris, active and kill immediately. If Sphinx, stall as much as you want and kill when ready; he can't kill you above 50%. If Medjedra, avoid matching red as you stall out the leader swap, then kill with full activation. If Sopdet, you are honestly 98% fucked. Matching only red or yellow will not do enough damage to kill her in time. Also, your best efforts to achieve only partial activation (e.g., 1 red, 1 yellow, 3 combos) will be sabotaged by skyfalls, healing Sopdet. Good luck. EDIT: Courtesy of @Eustace , you can safely damage Sopdet if your team has no God Killers, and you do 4 combos with only 1 red match and 1 yellow mach. If you get overwhelmed with red and yellow orbs, try to match them in a blob with minimal off-color combos. F13- All spawns are easily killed with full activation and can be stalled on for a turn or two. Avoid actives. F14- if Kagu, avoid matching red until you can delay him. If you have no delay, you will need to either: A. Eat his 99-turn delay by hitting him full force, or B. Pray for no skyfalls into full activation, at least until his HP drops to 49%. If you trigger his 99-turn delay, try not to panic. You can regain your skills on the following floors. Just try to save red and yellow as you finish off Kagu's last 1 HP. If Venus, kill with full activation at your leisure. Keep her above 50% to resist her attacks. Keep bind clear handy for after she dies. If Meimei, pop an active and kill immediately with full activation. Alternatively, if you have Yamato, you can let Meimei attack the first turn and then use Yamato for a really pretty board. Yamato turns a Meimei board into a Saria board! If Parv, chip her down with partial activation (only red or only yellow is effective) and try to save some hearts with each "Calming Mountain Wind". Delay her or put up a shield when she's around half health, and keep chipping away with partial activation. F15- Stall the first turn while saving red/yellow and 3 hearts. Try to kill 2nd turn with full activation, with prongs of either color. Avoid actives unless you become unable to avoid the poison. You can erase the poison with no net HP loss, if you also clear a roughly equal number of hearts. This is especially helpful if you are trying to fight back from a 99-turn Kagutsuchi delay. YOU MUST HAVE 23K HEALTH AS YOU KILL GRISAR. OTHERWISE, ZEUS DIOS WILL KILL YOU ON THE NEXT FLOOR. F16- Any Zeus can be safely stalled on above 50%. Mercury and Dios will not hit you on their first turn. Treat this floor as your last chance to stall for actives, because nothing is guaranteed from here on out. When stalling on these guys, try to do either of the following: A. Match red or yellow, 1 combo total. B. Combo as much as you want without red or yellow. Kill with full activation, no actives, when all actives are ready. Spoiler: F17-F21 F17- Gran absolutely cannot kill you above 50%. Avoid actives and chip her below 50 with partial activation. Red and no yellow works well. Kill Gran with full activation after Resolve breaks. Threedia is made of paper. Kill in 1 or 2 turns with minimal actives. Full activation with packs of 3 is fine. Lifive dies to full activation. Mix in a yellow prong for good measure, working Ilm's Dragon Killer. Use a smaller active if needed. If you come up short, you must hit 6 combos on the next turn to finish him off. Failure to kill in 2 turns will ultimately make Lifive no-sell all your attacks and then kill you. Zaerog can be tricky, but not impossible. If he absorbs dark, just kill him with full activation first turn. Color and Killer advantage helps a lot. If he absorbs light, stall it out while clearing the board for hearts, or delay him. He can't kill you if you keep healing. But you can kill him when he puts up a dark absorb. Note that Zaerog will always follow this attack pattern: Set light or dark absorb, no attack > gravity (50% for you) > 10K hit plus random bind > 15K hit plus jammers > repeat. This means you should always hoard hearts during his absorb and gravity turns, and heal during the rest. Try not to panic if somebody gets bound. You have color advantage and can walk it off. Defoud is surprisingly not horrible for IlmNerva. Few leads can actually say that. You have 7 turns to kill him with full activation; no rows or crosses needed. Take a turn or two to stall and hoard red/yellow. Then kill with as many red and yellow combos as you can get. Don't worry about rows or prongs. You don't need them. F19- Dark Hera is an easy kill with full activation. Stall if needed, but try to keep her above 50%. Beelzebub, Athena, and Hera Is should be killed immediately with a board change, but not Ilm. Both do unspeakably nasty things below half health. Hera Ur can be freely stalled on. She puts up a combo guard below half, so be mindful of that if you're stalling hardcore. Kill when ready with full activation. F20- This battle is largely determined by your preparations made leading up to this. If you made it this far with actives to spare, you have basically won already. Pop Ilm and whatever gravity or enhance you have available and swing for the fences. As a general rule of thumb, you must do ~3.5M per card of going for a 2-shot, or 10M per card for the one shot. How exactly you get there will depend on team. See the Team Basics section for suggestions on assuring a proper burst. If Kali survives, relax and take a couple stall turns to catch your breath if needed. Remember that you resist all her attacks and can heal to full with just 3 hearts and 4 combos. Don't force yourself to try and kill Kali through a board blind. Heal, avoid matching red and yellow combined, and wait for a clean opening. When you have a good shot, trust in your team's power and go for it. For reference, I typically use Ilm on my first turn, then polish off the last ~45% of Kali's life with either Saria or Antares + Tsubaki. F21- basically impossible to die unless you went through a severe bout of heart troll while finishing off Kali. Just ping the Py down and keep healing. If you win, congratulations. If not, take a nap, grab a beer, grab some coffee, or something and come back later. It happens. Shit happens. A lot, sometimes. Happy hunting and enjoy the fireworks. If you have any questions, please tag me so that I can respond. I will do my best to answer. And I will gladly revise this guide as new info becomes available.