In this Honkai: Star Rail Tier List – Defensive Supports article, we’ll discuss how Honkai: Star Rail has a wide roster of characters, with 23 playable characters at launch, so it’s important to measure how they rank up compared to each other. Or in other words, a Character Tier lists of sorts. Resources are finite in this game, and players can’t fully build every single character. In this Honkai: Star Rail Tier List for Defensive Supports, we try to help them figure out where to invest these resources.
Honkai Star Rail Tier List – Defensive Supports
To properly give every Character a fair chance of representation, I’ve decided to split characters by the roles they can play in a team. Characters in Honkai: Star Rail can be categorized as follow: Single Target DPS, AOE DPS, Offensive Support, and Defensive Support. These are the main roles, with some characters showing up in two roles, while others might only fulfill one sub role in their category.
In this Honkai Star Rail Tier List – Defensive Supports article, I’ll be ranking both shielders from the Preservation Path, and Healers from the Abundance Path. These two Paths cover the defensive side in teams, which help increase a team’s survivability. There’ll be some honorable mentions for characters adding notable survivability to the team, without being Defensive Supports as well, either by delaying enemy turns, forcing them to skip it, or removing their buffs.
I’ll be taking into account how much survivability they provide, and skill points they consume, or generate, in addition to how much damage they deal, and whether they add additional utility to the team. For Five Star characters, I judge them on their base kit, without any Eidolons. Any five-star character that requires more Eidolons to function I rank lower than characters that have their whole kit from the get-go. While Four Star characters have a chance to show as rate up in several banners, so I rank accordingly. This is why I’m ranking Four Star characters based on what they can achieve with E1, E2, or E4, sometimes even on E6 performance in certain cases.
Honkai: Star Rail Tier List – Bailu – SS
Skill Point: S
Energy Gen: B
Bailu is the premium five star healer in our Honkai: Star Rail Tier List for Defensive Supports Guide. She provides healing, reactive healing, HP buff, Damage reduction, and revive. So she’s the perfect Defensive Support, who can keep your entire team alive. However, she is still a bit lacking on the utility side, and any future healers with more utility will get a higher rank. Bailu will stay relevant for long though, because she has a revive, which gives a huge margin for errors.
As a typical healer, Bailu barely add any dps to the team. However, the signature Five Star Light Cone of Bailu givse her some joint attacks to add some dps. But in terms of utility and healing strength, there’s still room for better Light Cones to be released in the future.
Skill Point Generation/Consumption
Bailu is a good character to generate SPs for the team, unless enemies bombard the team with massive damage. In such a case, Bailu will be forced to use her skill to top up the HP of the team, and not rely on her ultimate alone. That makes her a positive SP character, with a caveat. Pairing her with another defensive character eliminates this caveat.
The one weak aspect of Bailu’s kit is her limited energy generation. Her ultimate has a 100 energy cost, and she doesn’t generate a lot of energy. Bailu uses normal attacks more often than her skill, which has a lower energy refund. Moreover, she doesn’t get kills, doesn’t have follow up attacks, nor will she be the primary target of enemy hits. These are the main energy refund mechanics in Star Rail, and she lacks them all.
I was really tempted to lower Bailu’s overall rank due to the lack of energy, because without energy, she doesn’t use her ultimate, and can’t sustain her team. This would cause Invigoration stacks to runs out, revive to not work, and forces Bailu to use her skill, making her an SP negative character. However, there’s an easy solution that’s not hard to get, which is using the “Post-Op Conversation” Light Cone, which gives 8% Energy generation at S1, and 16% at S5. Players can also pair this with an energy generation main stat on the Rope accessory to elevate Bailu’s energy with ease. Finally, the Speed stat allows Bailu to take several turns in shorter duration, so she generates more energy.
The final aspect of my ranking takes into account how flexible a character is to use. It’s important for a character to have several uses, and not limit the player so much, especially in early game without long months of summoning and acquiring so many characters.
Bailu is a simple healer, which fits in literally every team. She usually provides more flexibility than Preservation characters by being able to fill the Defensive Support role alone in some teams. Even in teams where she is paired with a shielder, she provides a lot of healing, sparing the shielder from spamming skill. That way, they can provide more SP, allowing a more offensive playstyle on offensive characters.
Honkai: Star Rail Tier List – March 7th – SS
Skill Point: A
Energy Gen: SS+
It might sound a bit controversial to rank a free guaranteed four star character this high, but March 7th is an amazing character that provide solutions to a lot of issues, which is why she’s ranked highly on our Honkai: Star Rail Tier List for Defensive Supports. Her shield is stronger than Gepard’s, but given to a single ally, not the entire team. It costs a SP to cast said shield, which can be a downside, but also an upside, as she can renew the shield anytime. On other hand, March 7th has several other ways to support the team.
While she can’t sustain the team alone, a lot of teams will use two defensive supports anyway. That increases March 7th’s value a lot, because she compliments healers or second shielders very well. That’s especially true with higher Eidolons, since March 7th grants an additional shield at E2, and gets a heal over time at E6.
March 7th can dictate who gets aggro, which no other character can do. And she cleanse debuffs from allies, which is a great tool other shielders, and even Bailu lacks. March 7th also has a counter attack that counts as a follow up, increasing her shield breaking capability. On top of that, she has the Ice element, and can freeze enemies. Freeze simply forces enemies to skip turns, which is very strong defensive countermeasure.
March 7th’s ultimate comes with a built-in freeze base chance, which grows higher with Traces. So she can force her freeze on enemies in an AOE, with minimum investment. Her frequent follow-up attacks increase the chance to freeze, and help break shields as well.
March 7th will not build Crit nor ice damage on relics, so her dps will not be huge. However, her frequent counters allow her to attack two additional times per turn. This small damage will build up over time, and it’s certainly higher than all healers, and some shielders.
At E4, March 7th gets an extra counter, raising the cap to three. She also gets Def scaling on her counter damage, which improves her dps noticeably.
Skill Point Generation/Consumption
The shield of March 7th lasts for very long time, 4 turns at Ascension 4. This allows her to cast her skill once, and resort to normal attacks for several other turns. However, when facing a lot of AOE, March will be forced to recast this shield, so she start using more SP. Overall, she’s a SP positive character, that downgrades to a neutral SP character under enemy pressure.
It’s very rare for March 7th to turn into negative SP character, especially with another defensive support in the team.
March 7th has an 120 energy cost ultimate, which is the highest in game, but that doesn’t stop her from generating her energy pretty fast. In reality, March 7th has the potential to be the fastest energy generating character in Honkai: Star Rail. As a preservation character, March 7th has higher aggro than average. If she shields herself, that’s more aggro, so most enemies will target her. Each time March 7th gets hit, she will generate 15 energy, and counter for an extra 10 energy.
The total counters she can deal at E4 is three, so she can accumulate over 75 energy passively per turn, plus an extra 20 from her normal attack, or 30 from her skill, on top of an extra 11 from merely using her ultimate and freezing one enemy. So in one turn, March 7th generates most of her energy, and she definitely can ultimate before the second turn ends, which makes her a good unit to keep enemies frozen for easy defensive utility.
At worst, against a single enemy who doesn’t target March 7th at all, she can still counter, so she will generate her ultimate in a little over two turns.
March 7th is slightly less flexible than Bailu, but she’s still up there. Her wide defensive and utility arsenal make her a fit for several team archetypes. She’s actually a preferred pick over some other offensive supports with the same Ice Element. She protects allies, generates SP, spams ultimate, freezes, cleanses, switches aggro, wears on enemy shields, and even heals. There are not many other characters that can replace March 7th, without leaving something to be desired.
There are only a few places where Gepard is more desired than March 7th, and I’ll get to these situations in this tier list. So keep in mind that March 7th doesn’t reign supreme over the Preservation Path, and other characters still have their advantages.
Honkai: Star Rail Tier List – Gepard – S
Skill Point: SS+
Energy Gen: SS
Gepard is the only five star shielder on our Honkai: Star Rail Tier List for Defensive Supports at launch, and a very good one at that. He provides a shield to all allies via his ultimate. Judging by the ability to shield his entire team without using any SP, Gepard should be at the top of our list, an SS character. However, when taking utility into account, Gepard lacks a bit, which holds him back.
As a character from the Preservation Path, Gepard has higher aggro, and his A2 Trace gives more aggro. That helps Gepard turn enemies’ attention towards himself, and get attacked more often, which in turn, makes building energy for his ultimate much easier, and helps with maintaining shield uptimes. This is excellent feature, that helps protect the team, and increase survivability. However, Gepard’s usefulness stops at that.
Gepard lacks cleanse, counter attacks, damage reduction, and AOE. And his freeze is single target, and consumes SP, which is why I had to put him one rank below Bailu and March 7th. He can’t be considered higher rank, until you invest in all your characters, and survivability becomes less of an issue. At that point, any shielder will do the job, but one with more utility would be more deserving for a team slot.
At current endgame at launch, Gepard is better than March 7th with Yanqing, because Yanqing requires 100% shield uptime, and consumes a lot of SP as well, so Gepard can cover this aspect. But more importantly, Yanqing is a reliable character to freeze enemies, which covers Gepard weakness, and reduces the pressure on the team. That way, Gepard can play as a solo Defensive Support, saving a healer slot. But without Natasha or March 7th, your only source of cleanse would be Bronya, and that’s three Five Star characters, which makes the team insanely expensive and inaccessible to most players.
Gepard will only be spamming normal attacks every turn, and his A6 Trace gives him Def scaling. It’s not the worst damage in game, but still nothing compared to other shielders. March 7th has three additional counters per turn, and Fire Trailblazer has AOE enchanted attacks. So Gepard has less damage and shield breaking than these two.
Skill Point Generation/Consumption
Gepard can absolutely ignore using his skill, and focus purely on normal attacks and ultimate. That makes him one of the best positive SP characters in the game. However, his skill is the only way Gepard can freeze, so playing without his skill removes the only utility he has.
When it comes to energy generation, Gepard gets a lot from taunting enemies and getting hit often. He will have an easier time against AOE versus single target, but he still gets a lot. His energy is not as crazy as March 7th’s, but he’s still ahead of most other defensive supports.
Gepard doesn’t mind which team you put him in, but he offers little besides shielding. So he’s good in teams that have enough utility and require only survivability. Teams with double Preservation characters, Gepard fits naturally into as a main or sub tank, as well as teams which use Natasha as a source of healing and cleanses, but need more tankiness.
Some team comps are less effective, such as Gepard with Bailu, because none can cleanse, and the survivability would be overkill, while lacking utility. So overall, Gepard is a flexible character with some limitations.
Fire Trailblazer – S
Skill Point: SS
Energy Gen: S
The Preservation version of the Trailblazer is a perfectly balanced character with a lot of strength in all aspects, which is why he is S on our Honkai: Star Rail Tier List for Defensive Supports. You need shields, as well as damage, shield breaking, energy generation, and SP generation, on top of a taunt and damage reduction. However, his shields are the weakest, and can’t sustain the team alone, even though they get a minor self heal from A6.
As a secondary defensive support though, Fire Trailblazer will shine bright, with decent utility and versatility. They can shield up with normal or enchanted attacks, as well as their skill, and their ultimate does good AOE damage. They are a hybrid between offensive and defensive support, and will add a lot of pressure on enemies. They liberate the team from being stuck in a full defensive setup, and add an offensive element to the mix.
The main defensive utility of a Fire Trailblazer is the on-demand taunt, and damage reduction to the whole team, with even higher damage reduction to self. And the main offensive utility is breaking shields. Trailblazers have a lot of AOE potential, and higher than normal shield break, with the enchanted attack breaking like a skill. This is a huge advantage for breaking shields while generating SP, rather than spending SP.
Compared to proper shield breakers such as Asta, Trailblazers break slightly lower than her, but cost nothing to use. At the same time, Trailblazers provide defensive support normally, so he’s a great pick for most situations, even over full offensive supports.
Fire Trailblazer is a good damage dealer, with frequent enchanted attacks, you get higher modifiers, and AOE. We don’t build the Fire Trailblazer with Crit, so their damage is not insane, but their E1 adds def scaling to both normal and enchanted attacks, which Trailblazers have a ton of. That’s on top of ultimate damage, that Trailblazers can spam every two turns.
Skill Point Generation/Consumption
The only reason we use the Trailblazer’s skill is to negate a massive AOE enemy is charging, like Cocolia’s skill in the second phase. Trailblazers get massive damage reduction for themselves, and decent damage reduction for their team, so they will switch to consume SP in such situations, but otherwise, they still generate shields fine with normal and enchanted attacks, and they rarely need to consume SP.
I rank Trailblazer in SP generation below Gepard, but above Bailu, March 7th, and Natasha, which is very impressive for a guaranteed character.
Trailblazers can taunt enemies, get hit often, and generate energy in a similar fashion to Gepard. The difference between them is the energy cost, with Gepard having low 100 energy cost, and Trailblazer high 120 cost. Both don’t have a follow up attack to generate extra energy, but at A6, Trailblazers can generate an extra 5 energy on each turn if they maintain a shield all the time.
Depending on situation, energy generation of Trailblazers can vary from good to excellent.
Fire element sees a lot of competition from dps characters such as Hook and Himeko, and shield breakers such as Asta. However, Fire Trailblazer is very competitive against all of them, and more often, Trailblazer is the better choice. That gives them a lot of flexibility to join a lot of teams, and fill several roles.
They are especially good against bosses which are resistant to freeze and weak to fire. Fire Trailblazer can be the solution for such a situation.
Natasha – S
Skill Point: S
Energy Gen: A
Natasha is the first choice for defensive support, she’s a free guaranteed character who can heal and cleanse. Her kit is very simple, with a single target heal on her skill, and an AOE heal on her ultimate. She functions perfectly fine in most content, until you are faced with aggressive enemies that need a secondary defensive support.
Natasha is not necessarily a downgrade from Bailu, because she still cleanses, which Bailu lacks. So unless you use Bronya or March 7th, you can still make a good case for using Natasha, and in the endgame Abyss, you need two healers to cover two teams anyway.
Natasha’s sole utility is cleanse, which is a strong aspect on its own. An enemy with freeze, imprisonment, or the entanglement debuff can ruin your entire rotation by forcing your team to skip turns. Cleanse just make that disappear, on top of removing DoTs from allies, reducing enemy damage.
Before E6, Natasha’s damage with normal attacks is very low. However, Physical breaks deal damage based on enemy Max HP, not the character’s damage value. This means Natasha has a way to add some damage, by thinning enemies toughness bars with other shield breakers, and dealing the final hit with Natasha.
The other way that Natasha gains damage is through her E6, which adds HP scaling to her normal attacks. The bonus is really nice, considering the HP value is usually high on a healer such as Natasha. But that’s E6, and not everyone at game launch will get 6 extra copies of Natasha to unlock E6.
Skill Point Generation/Consumption
Similar to Bailu, Natasha relies on her normal attacks and ultimate to sustain her team most of the time. However, if enemies deal a lot of damage, Natasha will be forced to use her skill for emergency heals. So overall, she’s an SP positive character, with more SP generation than consumption. Not to the degree of shielders, but very good still.
Note that pairing Natasha with a shielder reduces the pressure on them both to use SP. So that increase SP generation for both, and makes the team go very offensive and SP heavy in the other two slots.
The two healers in game have poor energy generation, but Natasha has a lower energy cost of 90 on her ultimate. That gives her an easier time, but she still needs a good Light Cone with energy generation to solve her issue. Without “Post-Op Conversation” Natasha needs three turns or more to cast one ultimate, which is really bad. Some enemies don’t spare your team three whole turns, and bombard you with damage.
Natasha is part of almost every team at launch, whether she’s used with a shielder or not. She’s more of a must-have, rather than a flexible character. Especially when you try to build two teams for Abyss, you will need a lot more healers, and to acquire them all to replace Natasha. Even still, she will stay relevant because of her cleanse.
Stay tuned for more Honkai: Star Rail Character Guides and be sure to drop by our Twitch Channel if you have questions about the game. For more Honkai: Star Rail content, check Serval Build Guide, Qingque Build Guide, Dan Heng Build Guide, Arlan Build Buide, Sushang Build Guide, Tingyun Build Guide, Pela Build Guide, Hook Build Guide, Bronya Build Guide, Asta Build Guide, Natasha Build Guide, March 7th Build Guide, Welt Build Guide, Seele Build Guide, Sampo Build Guide, Yanqing Build Guide, Gepard Build Guide.