Character rankings 10/14 edition: the results!

mischiefmakermischiefmaker Age Unconfirmed Posts: 932
edited December 2014 in MPQ Character Discussion
EFFING FINALLY, AMIRITE?

Welcome to the fourth installment of character rankings! It's awesome to see how much we've progressed -- our first round of rankings we got 10 responses, 40 in the second round, 140 in the third round, and a whopping 229 this last round! Thanks to everyone who voted, and extra thanks to a few special people:
- Junebugkiller, for finding our new survey tool, kwiksurveys.com. If you liked the new drag and drop interface, be sure to drop JBK a line and say thanks!
- Leugensniff, HawkeyeSucks, and Budget Player Cadet, for contributing to our writeups. A lot of thought and time goes into making these informative and entertaining and these guys contributed a lot, so a big thank you to them as well.
- locked, for coming up with almost all of our theme songs! More on that in a bit...

As is our custom, we'll first review all the changes that have happened since the last round of rankings, to get a better idea of how the landscape has shifted and why some characters might have moved up or down.

New characters
Seven new characters have been introduced since our last round of rankings: Mohawk Storm, She-Hulk, 2* Human Torch, Captain Marvel, Deadpool, Beast, and the full release of Nick Fury (we didn't count Colossus, Dr. Octopus, or Ms. Marvel). This wasn't nearly as strong as the 6/14 class and was a much more diverse group both in terms of abilities and in terms of overall power. As a result, the new characters haven't had nearly the same effect on the meta, with almost none of them seeing significant play time in high-level rosters.

Changes to existing characters
On the other hand, changes to existing characters definitely shook up the meta big-time. There were seven changes to existing characters (nine if you count the corresponding changes to lower * versions): Storm, Black Panther, Daredevil, Magneto (classic), Daken, X-Force, and Hawkeye (modern). We'll talk about how their changes affected their individual rankings later, but for the game in general the significant effects were plentiful:
- Black Panther's new Battleplan solidifies the once-weak yellow color as a premier ability, making characters with weak yellow powers less playable
- Magneto's overhaul affects all characters who generate strike tiles, since his old powers were most suited to taking advantage of them, and none more so than his old running mate Patch
- Daken's tile color changes make low-health characters dependent on green less sustainable, since he no longer tanks that color for them with his regeneration ability
- X-Force's godly Surgical Strike makes every character's strongest tile color much more important, since hitting a team strongest in green or black likely means game over
- Hawkeye's new purple power gives new life to characters who can generate criticals, especially in 2* territory

True healing
Wow, has it really been so long since our last round of rankings that true healing is still new to this version? The much-maligned shift to temporary "bursts of health" actually didn't have nearly as much of an effect on existing characters as you might think -- Spider-Man was already falling out of favor with 3* rosters due to the changes in his powers, and original Black Widow is still a 2* mainstay because of how incredibly good her purple and black powers are.

Daken and Wolverine get a bit of a bump since they're the best choice now for long sustained pushes, but they were already near the top of the charts anyway, so there wasn't much room for them to go up.

For the new characters, though, it's a different story. Without the change to true healing, Beast and She-Hulk would be doing team-wide permanent heals, and that definitely would have affected their viability and ranking placement.

Level shift
It's interesting how much little changes can affect the meta of the game, isn't it? True healing probably generated an order of magnitude more reaction than the level shift, but the level shift had a profoundly more significant effect on the rankings, with many fewer 2* characters ranking above 3* and even fewer 1* characters making any significant impact on the upper echelons of the game.

The reason for this is simple: 3* characters now have even more health and do even more damage relative to their 2* counterparts (on both abilities and tile matching). When you increase your opponent's health, you increase the length of the game, which in turn increases the probability that they get either a big cascade or enough AP to cast a power, and if the power's also doing more damage, it's not hard to see why even the strongest 2* teams rarely take on maxed 3* teams any more.

Team ups
The big new gameplay feature hasn't been quite as exciting as we might have hoped for, with many players still using team ups as a place to store trophies from their vanquished uber-boosted PvE opponents. Generally speaking, this is because the best characters tend to be the best characters because they have the best abilities, so if you're already using those characters, you're not using teamups because a) you can't double up on the abilities already on your roster and b) you're prioritizing those colors over teamup AP anyway.

That being said, the teamup feature has still had impact on the metagame, in three ways. 1, removing environment AP weakened characters who had powers that took advantage of environment AP or synergized particularly well with environment powers; 2, the removal of environment AP necessitated a change in some characters' powers, and 3, characters who only have one useful power are weakened, because it's possible now to use that power as a teamup instead of wasting a whole character slot.

Of course, since it's hard to ensure that you have an infinite supply of the teamups you want, there's still some utility to characters with only one useful power.

New game modes
The final, and most recent change, is the arrival of some long-awaited new game modes. In PvP, we've seen Balance of Power and Combined Arms, two tournaments that greatly buffed 1* and 2* characters and forced their use; in PvE there was The Gauntlet, a roster-level scaled tournament with only progression rewards that brought level 300+ opponents to the masses.

Now that the two PvP tournaments seem to be here to stay, it bumps up the relative utility of a few of the lower star characters who have strong powers and/or scale well, like Juggernaut and OBW. Similarly, the Gauntlet gives a little additional weight to characters who deny AP (because at level 300+, almost every ability means you're losing a character), produce strong protect tiles quickly (because your opponents can do 600 damage per match, not counting cascades or match-4s), or have strongly beneficial effects when taking damage (same).
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Comments

  • mischiefmakermischiefmaker Age Unconfirmed Posts: 932
    edited October 2014
    As usual we encourage everyone to read through old versions of rankings; we may not duplicate all the information from previous versions, and it's also fun to see how characters have changed from round to round.

    12/2013 - the beginning
    3/2014 - standard deviation edition
    6/2014 - meme edition

    Since this is already our fourth round of rankings, and many characters have had their powers changed, either directly or relative to other powers, for this round we'll be going over all the character powers in detail again. In addition, we've rated each power: Poor, Fair, Good, Excellent:

    - Poor: useless and/or so expensive that you should never plan on using it
    - Fair: good enough to use in a pinch, but not something you should base your game plan on
    - Good: a strong power that you can rely on, but ideally you'll have something better in another color to prioritize
    - Excellent: should be one of your primary targets for acquiring AP in almost every team

    Also new to this round of rankings is a grading system for characters. For each character, we've given them a grade of Low, Medium, or High in each of three categories: Speed, Sustainability, and Power. Speed is a measure of how quickly a character can ramp up damage; sustainability is a gauge of how many fights a character can play without needing health packs, and power describes a character's maximum damage output.

    Our hope is that these ratings will be helpful as you think about what teams to put together for specific purposes -- if you're climbing in PvP, for example, you probably want a team that's got a lot of speed and sustainability, but don't care as much about power; whereas if you're in the shield-hopping stage of PvP, you care a whole lot about speed and power and not at all about sustainability. Similarly, you likely want at least two excellent powers on your team, and if you can swing it, good-to-excellent powers in 4-6 colors so that any AP you get is useful.

    Here's the heat map for this round of rankings:
    DXutee2.png
    Pretty good agreement about the top 4 and bottom 7, with more uncertainty the closer we get to the middle.

    Last but not least, for each character we've included a theme song! These are just meant to give the rankings a bit of flavor; some are insightful, some are silly, but mostly they're just for fun. Hopefully you'll enjoy the musical interludes to our wall of text!

    Tiers and final rankings (to be updated as results are posted):

    44-48: Unusably bad
    38-43: Roster spot questionable
    32-37: Playable only in specific niches
    26-31: Useful but flawed, part 1
    18-25: Useful but flawed, part 2
    11-17: Generally strong, but outclassed
    10-4: The best of the rest
    3-1: The Best There Is

    Final rankings:

    1. Wolverine (X-Force)
    2. ***Thor
    3. Sentry
    4. Nick Fury
    5. ***Daken
    6. Black Panther
    7. Wolverine (Patch)
    8. The Hood
    9. ***Captain America
    10. Hulk
    11. Punisher
    12. Magneto (classic)
    13. Human Torch
    14. Deadpool
    15. Psylocke
    16. Falcon
    17. Captain Marvel
    18. Black Widow (grey suit)
    19. Black Widow (original)
    20. Doctor Doom
    21. Ares
    22. Iron Man (Model 40)
    23. Storm (Mohawk)
    24. Spider-Man
    25. She-Hulk
    26. Beast
    27. Thor
    28. Ragnarok
    29. Storm (classic)
    30. Invisible Woman
    31. Daken
    32. Loki
    33. Daredevil
    34. Magneto (Marvel Now)
    35. Wolverine (Astonishing)
    36. **Human Torch
    37. Hawkeye (modern)
    38. Captain America
    39. Juggernaut
    40. Bullseye
    41. Moonstone
    42. Storm (modern)
    43. Black Widow (Modern)
    44. Iron Man (Model 35)
    45. Hawkeye (classic)
    46. Venom
    47. Bag Man
    48. Yelena Belova
  • mischiefmakermischiefmaker Age Unconfirmed Posts: 932
    edited October 2014
    Wait wait WAIT. Theme songs? Where are our memes? We want memes! We want memes!

    OK, since you asked so nicely, here are a bunch of self-deprecating memes about rankings. Enjoy!

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  • mischiefmakermischiefmaker Age Unconfirmed Posts: 932
    edited October 2014
    48. Yelena Belova, even

    Theme song: White And Nerdy (Weird Al Yankovic)
    They see me strollin'
    They laughin'
    And rollin' their eyes 'cause
    I'm so white n' nerdy

    Poor blonde Widow comes in dead last for the third straight time, and it's really no wonder. Her powers are too expensive to ever see use except as a PvE opponent when there are goons feeding her AP, and even if you were to use them, the effect doesn't come close to justifying the cost. On top of that she's got one of the lowest health totals in the game, and if that weren't enough, she's been buffed exactly once in the last NINE MONTHS, and that was in the Nefarious Foes tournament where a bunch of other villains were buffed too.

    Unless you're among the most hardcore of hardcore collectors, there's really no reason for her to be on your roster.

    Speed: low
    Sustainability: low
    Power: low

    Purple: poor
    Black: poor

    Recommended build: who cares

    47. Bag Man, even

    Theme song: Think I'll Go Eat Worms (children's song)
    Nobody likes me, everybody hates me
    Guess I'll go eat worms

    Poor Bag Man is so disliked that even the developers have gotten in on the Bag-bashing, with the instant classic line from Deadpool: "They chose you to protect the hero points? No one even likes you!" On the player side, Bag Man has become the de facto symbol of trolling, from WorldRunner using Bag Man and Sentry in achieving 1600 PvP points, to JCTthe3rd81 using Bag Man to defeat Sentry in 78% of matchups (although, if you need Bag Man to stop Sentry, who's the real winner?)

    Speed: low
    Sustainability: low
    Power: low

    Purple: poor
    Blue: poor
    Yellow: poor

    Recommended build: 4/1/5 keeps his powers at a marginally useable cost (and we're using "usable" very, very generously), where he might be fun to break out now and again against goons or other countdown-dependent opponents, and if you're OCD about collecting and maxing out every character, 5/3/5 is the least-terrible build, but he probably shouldn't be on your roster at all.

    46. Venom, -1

    Theme song: Rude (Magic!)
    Why you gotta be so rude?
    Don't you know I'm human too

    It's easy to hate on Venom, who shares a lot in common with Yelena: he's a 1* that you don't get in the Prologue until he's already outclassed by the opponents, and as a member of the Dark Avengers is almost never buffed for tournaments. But there are several key differences: he's a bit more robust health-wise, and his powers, while not earthshaking, are actually a little bit useful.

    Purple is rarely a contested color, so it's not hard to build up 8-12 AP in purple during long games, by which time having a couple turns of stun can mean the difference between an easy win and having to eat a couple of strong powers. Similarly, there's a real dearth of useful black powers in the 1-2* range, so while Devour won't win you games by itself, it's a useful backup in case the board is devoid of your primary colors.

    In addition, an easily overlooked feature of his purple is that it also generates a green tile -- only one, so not something you want to rely on, but for guys like Daken, 2* Wolverine, and Sentry, who have very cheap powers on green, getting one tile is often enough to greatly accelerate the game. I've used Venom in Daken/Sentry pairings for PvE, just to have someone fill out the team that I don't mind taking heavy damage and might contribute something on his off-colors.

    Purple: fair
    Black: fair

    Speed: low
    Sustainability: low
    Power: low

    Recommended build: 5/4; a single-target one-turn stun at 4 AP is much more useful than a team stun at 7 AP, especially if you want to try some web tile shenanigans with Spider-Man. That being said, if your roster is exclusively 1* and low-level 2*, you might need the health and extra damage on Devour, so 5/5 isn't terrible.

    45. Hawkeye (classic), +1

    Theme song: Mean (Taylor Swift)
    And all you're ever going to be is mean
    Why you gotta be so mean?
    ...
    You have pointed out my flaws again
    As if I don't already see them

    With the lowest health pool in the game and only two powers, it's easy to see Chawkeye's flaws. But what you'd be overlooking is one of the better low-* board control characters; his powers are reasonably cheap, and if you take the time to study the board you can often use Take Aim to create multiple criticals, especially in combination with Arrow Stab. Pair him with someone like Storm, who can shake up the board and generate enough AP to cast both his powers, and you have a fine introduction to the kind of board control team you'll want for long PvE grind sessions.

    That being said, his low health and the lack of damage on his powers really do hold him back; he's too fragile for PvP and not buffed often enough to be useful for PvE. As such, most rosters won't miss him if you decide to sell him off.

    Speed: low
    Sustainability: low (medium if paired with other board control)
    Power: low

    Red: poor
    Purple: fair

    Recommended build: If you're going to have him on your roster at all, there's no reason not to go with the easy 5/5.

    44. Iron Man (Model 35), -2

    Theme song: It’s All Over But The Crying (Garbage)
    Cause I can't forget you though you don't believe me
    Now I can't walk back
    I can't leave behind
    Where does it go all the light that we had?

    Good old reliable model 35 is a pretty solid starter character, with a decent health pool and a handful of damaging powers in useful colors. The biggest problem is that now that 2* covers are so plentiful, by the time you have all of his covers and enough ISO to level him up, you should be getting close to having a useful 2* Thor, who has more than twice the health and superior powers across the board.

    Some might quibble with our ranking of his blue power as poor, as there are so few damaging powers in blue, and Ultra-Freon Beam packs a decent punch, but at 19 AP it's just so expensive that you'll rarely have the AP for it, and prioritizing blue means giving up better, faster colors to your opponent.

    Speed: low
    Sustainability: low
    Power: low

    Red: fair
    Yellow: fair
    Blue: poor

    Recommended build: 5/5/3.
  • mischiefmakermischiefmaker Age Unconfirmed Posts: 932
    edited October 2014
    43. Black Widow (Modern), -4

    Theme song: What It Feels Like For A Girl (Madonna)
    Strong inside but you don't know it
    Good little girls they never show it

    We called mBW underrated in our last round of rankings at #32, and she's since fallen another 4 spots (remember that the +/- adjusts for new characters). Some of that might be due to the level shift as she's even squishier than she used to be, but her blue is still an excellent power, relatively speaking, outclassed only by Wind Storm, and even then not by that much.

    The biggest differentiator, though, is that classic Storm is buffed basically all the time for PvE (Gauntlet, Deadpool v2, Beast, Unstable ISO-8, and that's just in the last few weeks), whereas mBW is buffed basically never (once for the Avengers tournament, once for Widow Maker back in December 2013, and actually never for PvE), so there's rarely a reason to play her, since she's too squishy for PvP and there's always a better choice for PvE. On top of that, her blue power is really the only reason to play her, and you can acquire that as a teamup.

    Still, when you do have a reason to break her out, she's surprisingly good.

    Speed: low
    Sustainability: medium (high against single opponents)
    Power: low

    Blue: good
    Purple: fair

    Recommended build: Either 3/5 or 5/5. 3/5's main advantage is quicker steal: you lose the ability to steal black, but there's not much reason to steal black against opponents in the 1-2* range, and the faster steal trumps stealing purple and getting 4. Being able to get off Recon at 13 might make a big difference in sustainability, especially since it'll help get you the blue you need to lock down the opponent. On the other hand, she's squishy enough at max level; gimping her 10 levels makes her so fragile that you might never get off a Recon because she can't take the 4-5 hits she'll be exposed to to gather purple.

    42. Storm (modern), -12

    Theme song: Wide Awake (Katy Perry)
    Falling from cloud nine
    Crashing from the high

    While not as obvious as the falls from #1 in previous rankings for Spider-Man and Ragnarok, Storm's 12 spot drop is actually the second-biggest drop of all time (of all time!</kanye>). The combined forces of the level shift, making her even more relatively fragile than she used to be, the elimination of Jungle and Desert environment powers, which made her an absolute force of nature (pun intended!), and finally the change to her red ability, making it almost twice as expensive and therefore much harder to sustain cascades with, have relegated her to the bottom of the rankings.

    It's probably better for the game overall that you can't just trivially faceroll any opponent on a desert board, but it sure was fun while it lasted. Goodbye, Operation Desert Storm, we'll miss you. Say hello to Ragnaspam and Spidey stun-lock when you see them in the Hall of Retired Strategies.

    Speed: low
    Sustainability: low (medium if paired with other board control powers)
    Power: low (medium when paired with strong non-green powers)

    Green: good
    Yellow: fair
    Black: fair

    Recommended build: 5/3/5, although there's not too much difference between any of the 5-green builds.

    41. Moonstone, even

    Theme song: Sex Sells (Benefit)
    Sex sells
    Every night and day
    It will be this way
    Sex sells

    With a red power that's too expensive and unreliable, a black power that costs twice as much as it should, and a purple power that's just plain...weird, there's a good case to be made that the only good reason to keep Moonstone on your roster is that she's probably the most attractive character in the game. Sadly, looks won't get you far -- she's got decent health for a 2*, but she's never buffed, and both red and purple are severely outclassed at the 2* level by several other powers.

    Still, I must say that I'm surprised she ranked below Bullseye, who's been a mainstay of the bottom five for quite some time now.

    Speed: low
    Sustainability: low
    Power: low

    Red: fair
    Purple: fair
    Black: poor

    Recommended build: 5/5/3; black is a really horrible, unplayable power.

    40. Bullseye, +4

    Theme song: All-Star (Smash Mouth)
    Somebody once told me
    The world is gonna roll me
    I ain't the sharpest tool in the shed

    Speaking of Bullseye, he checks in just one spot higher, still firmly entrenched in unplayable territory. When you look at his powers, it's no wonder why -- his protect tiles are only a nuisance, easily overcome by the weakest of strike tile generators (Bullseye's tiles are 37 at max level, less than both 2* Daken at 46 and 2* Wolverine at 40). He also doesn't prevent direct damage powers from going off, so you can just charge up some powers and roll right over him.

    He's been buffed a few times for PvE, where he does have some utility, since getting two or three protect tiles buffed to 50-60 on the board early can keep match damage down and therefore improve sustainability. But even there you need to have some plan for that purple, otherwise all the damage you save on match-3s gets wiped out due to getting hit with powers because the game will go much longer. And keep in mind that if your plan for purple is OBW, which isn't a terrible idea since she does help stop AP powers, then you're getting no offense from two of your three spots, so your third had better bring the pain.

    I hear a rumor he also has a black power, but much like the Loch Ness Monster, it's never been seen in the wild and is most likely the figment of a drunken imagination.

    Speed: low
    Sustainability: low
    Power: low

    Purple: fair
    Black: poor

    Recommended build: 5/5, although we'd question whether he's ever going to contribute enough to merit a roster spot.

    39. Juggernaut, +4

    Theme song: I’ll Make A Man Out Of You (Donny Osmond)
    But you can bet before we're through
    Mister, I'll make a man out of you

    Also jumping up four spots is Juggernaut, who we called severely underrated in the last version of rankings. And while +4 is the third-biggest gain on the list, finally giving old Juggs his due as the best 1* in the game, it's frankly pretty shocking that he hasn't improved more, considering how devastating he was in both Balance of Power and Combined Arms. When buffed to 270 he has the highest health in the game (over 20k!) and does nearly 6k damage with a cheap red that makes most opponents reach for the skip button.

    Speaking of Balance of Power and Combined Arms, here’s a fun little trick for those events: the difference between a level 101 and a level 140 Juggernaut is not that substantial (in BoP it's zero, since everyone is buffed to 270). But the difference in healing time is crazy; a level 1 Juggernaut will go from downed to full health in 35 minutes as compared to nearly 5 hours for level 40, and Headbutt just about one-shots squishy dangerous characters like OBW, Hood, and Human Torch.

    Now, one might make the argument that BoP-style events only come around once a month or so, and he has little utility elsewhere, but you could make the same argument for many of the worst 3* characters. And, like his character overall, his green might be the most underrated in the game, as it provides heavy board shake and generates AP via cascades. You've probably seen multiple PvE events where Juggernaut went green and magically got enough AP to then Headbutt you to oblivion -- this isn't the AI cheating, that's just how good Unstoppable Crash is.

    If roster diversity really is a goal for the developers (and we have no reason to think that it isn't), he's likely to get even better as more events catering to 1*s are brought online.

    Speed: medium
    Sustainability: low
    Power: medium

    Red: good
    Green: good

    Recommended build: 5/5.

    38. Captain America, -2

    Theme song: Marchin’ On (One Republic)
    There’s so many wars we fought
    There’s so many things we're not
    But with what we have
    I promise you that
    We're marchin on

    Captain America was one of the biggest beneficiaries of true healing; it used to be that 2* rosters would just run OBW and Thor/Ares all the live long day, healing up in the Prologue as necessary. Now that 2* rosters don't have the same luxury, you see a lot more of the Cap, since he's got decent health and some powers that look like they don't suck.

    Unfortunately, looks can be deceiving -- his yellow is so expensive as to be functionally nonexistent, and his red and blue take too long to get going. He's actually a detriment on defense, since the AI might save up for his yellow over Thor/Ares or use his red over Wolverine/Ares, both of which are disastrous outcomes. The one place where he is pretty useful is PvE, where he's been buffed more than any other character, but in PvP you should be using him a couple times to win easier fights and then putting in your A team once he's taken some damage.

    Speed: low
    Sustainability: medium
    Power: low

    Yellow: poor
    Red: fair
    Blue: fair

    Recommended build: Still can't see a reason for anything that isn't 3/5/5.
  • mischiefmakermischiefmaker Age Unconfirmed Posts: 932
    edited October 2014
    37. Hawkeye (modern), +3

    Theme Song: Picture (Kid Rock feat. Sheryl Crow)
    I put your picture away
    Sat down and cried today
    I can't look at you while I'm lyin' next to her

    At last! The long-awaited Hawkeye buff is here, and it is good. The question is, is it good enough? Some argue that he's actually worse than before, with his red doing considerably less damage and his blue doing no damage at all. But the accompanying decrease in cost makes a little difference in casting the powers, and being able to place the tile makes a huge difference in whether the tile actually resolves. On balance, his red and blue is a bit worse than before -- red is a good bit faster, but does considerably less damage, and blue is flat-out bad, with no damage, shorter stun, and AP destruction in random colors, which is probably the worst class of ability in the game.

    But then there's his new purple, and while some liked Avoid for making Hawkeye more sustainable with tanky characters, Speed Shot is a monster, a 3* ability masquerading as a 2* power. A match-5 now gets you a critical *and* nearly 4k damage, in separate countdowns so you're not tied to protecting a single one. Against regular opponents this isn't all that great, as even a savvy player should only get a natural critical once every couple games or so, but against goons, where you can set up criticals that the opponents can't take, it gets quite a bit better.

    Hawkeye's new best buddy is now 2* Magneto, and he also pairs well with Black Widow (grey suit), as both have tile-placing powers that can almost always generate two and sometimes three criticals. You'll likely only get 5-6 countdowns out of that, since you need to match purple off the board to get the necessary AP and the resulting cascades are sure to take a few out, but if you can find another 2* combination that can generate 5-6k single-target damage, we'd love to hear it.

    Hawkeye will also play well with characters that can generate a large number of same-color tiles (Thor, Ragnarok) or have strong board shake (Storm, Magneto, Juggernaut, Loki). Keep in mind, though, that even with his health buff he's pretty squishy on defense and the AI is less likely to take advantage of his purple since it only knows how to make 5-in-a-line criticals.

    The real problem keeping him from ranking higher, though, is that it's hard to find a roster that would really use him. His highest value is in a 2* roster, since that's when Speed Shot is most powerful relatively speaking, but in a 2* roster his best pairing is with MMN, who's already committed to CStorm. Once you start transitioning to 3*, his low health becomes a much more significant barrier.

    Speed: low
    Sustainability: low
    Power: medium

    Blue: poor
    Red: fair
    Purple: good

    Recommended build: 3/5/5; blue is bad enough where you don't really care if the countdown goes to 2 or not.

    36. **Human Torch, new to the list

    Theme song: Firestarter (The Prodigy)
    I'm a firestarter, twisted firestarter

    Speaking of characters that are squishy on defense, at #36 we have the first newcomer to the list, 2* Human Torch. A scaled down version of his 3* counterpart, Johnny plays very similarly to the big-boy edition, with powerful abilities able to deal significant damage, especially over time. His red is the headliner here; at 8 AP it's relatively fast, gives back 2 AP, making the effective cost 6, and deals a very robust 275 damage per AP, one of the best ratios in the 2* canon.

    His other abilities are a touch below his red, but are quite good as well: black requires a bit of babysitting, in that you'll need to clear out the center ring of tiles and use up your blue/purple/yellow AP before casting it, but it will typically give you 5-6 attack tiles doing around 100 damage apiece. Clustered in the middle, they won't last long, but ~500 damage a turn is nothing to sneeze at. And then there's green, which is slower than it looks -- you'll want to wait until you have at least 8-9 AP before casting it, and the more AP you have the better -- but it's very effective at 9 AP, which isn't all that slow, and if you clear out green matches beforehand you're looking at doing a good 3-400 damage per turn.

    Like the 3* Torch, though, Human Matchstick, as he's affectionately called, is held back by low health, making him a prime target on defense. Just about the only difference between the two versions isn't due to the characters themselves; it's that there's basically a giant void of black powers in the 2* ability pool, so he's relatively more important since he gives you an outlet for black AP.

    On the other hand, if your opponents have no use for black, you're likely better off contesting red/green/yellow, since that both fuels your powers and denies your opponents.

    Speed: medium
    Sustainability: low
    Power: medium

    Red: good
    Black: good
    Green: good

    Recommended build: 5/5/3; as noted there's really no competition for black in the 1-2* range, while there's plenty of competition for green. That being said, 5/4/4 and 5/3/5 are fine builds too in case you intend to pair him with someone that lacks a green power, like OBW or Captain America.

    35. Wolverine (Astonishing), -7

    Theme song: Stayin' Alive (The Bee Gees)
    Ah, ha, ha, ha, stayin' alive, stayin' alive.
    Ah, ha, ha, ha, stayin' alive.


    -7 is the third biggest drop on the list, which is frankly pretty shocking considering how rare it is to have a character with true healing. Combined with a fairly powerful red and a cheap green that helps ramp up, Wolverine might now be one of the more underrated 2*s in the game.

    That being said, each of his upsides has a downside, too: yes, he's got true healing, but he can only trigger true healing up to 50% of his max, which makes him easy to one-shot, and his healing is triggered by yellow matches, so unless you're pairing him with Thor/Ares (who overlap on both of his active colors), you're giving up a turn's worth of useful AP to heal.

    Red's definitely very strong, but it won't take down a full-health 2* tank and it barely makes a dent in some of the 3* characters. And green, while having a cheap casting cost, generates pretty weak strike tiles so you generally will want to build up some red first, so it's not as fast as it looks.

    Speed: medium
    Sustainability: medium
    Power: medium

    Red: good
    Green: fair

    Recommended build: 5/5/3, as his heal is too conditional and only gets him to barely over 50%.

    34. Magneto (Marvel Now), -4

    Theme song: You Raise Me Up (Josh Groban)
    You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains;
    You raise me up to walk on stormy seas;
    I am strong when I am on your shoulders;
    You raise me up to more than I can be.


    Another surprising drop, this time for MMN, who got a big boost from the buff to mHawkeye in that he now has two strong partners instead of just one (CStorm). When taken on his own, he's really weak -- both of his direct damage powers, blue and red, are expensive and countdown-based, so are both slow and unreliable, although red is quite strong if you can get the AP for it. Purple is pretty good on it's own, as you can almost always create one critical tile and usually get two, plus you get a horde of blue AP.

    But it's his synergy with other characters that really causes MMN to shine -- he's a real asset as a blue AP battery in both PVP and PVE. Blue has a number of outlets at the 2* level: there's CStorm, of course, and now also Daken, and while Hawkeye's blue is pretty bad, Speed Shot is awesome and becomes a reliable damage dealer with Polarity Shift, so MMN should see even more play at the 2* level.

    There aren't nearly as many useful blue abilities once you start transitioning, though -- Captain America and Daken are about it since you can't use MMN and CMags together.

    Blue: poor
    Purple: excellent
    Red: fair

    Speed: low
    Sustainability: low
    Power: medium

    Recommended build: 3/5/5 -- blue is horrifically slow and should almost never be used since you always should be looking to pair MMN with a better blue user. Keep in mind, too, that since you're using him primarily for his purple, an underleveled MMN is totally fine; I wouldn't fault anyone for running a 0/5/5 (to prevent blue from ever firing on defense), 2/5/4 (make red a little bit faster at the expense of power), or anything in between.

    33. Daredevil, +3

    Theme song: Power of The Loser (Andru Donalds)
    The power of the loser
    Never underestimate the power of the loser

    Bet you thought Beast would be the worst 3* on the list, hmm? Apparently our voters disagree; as many point out, traps just too unreliable, since there are so many ways to disarm them and it's fairly easy to avoid them just by luck (and for Ambush and Equalizer, you can easily memorize which tiles are new on the board and thus narrow down which ones could be the trap).

    But don't underestimate him just because he's blind and weak. The change to his purple makes it a bit more scary since it could be literally anywhere on the board, and essentially wipes out your AP store when it hits. And if he can get more than 5-6 traps on the board, that's a bad place for you since it greatly increases the chance you'll hit one just by accident -- taking a surprise crotch kick to the face is about as painful as it sounds, and will often result in losing a character.

    We're still hopeful that they'll tweak Daredevil to a more consistently useful state. He is a small adjustment away from being a force -- for example, if overwriting tiles triggered them instead of disarming him, that'd be pretty monster. In the meantime it's common to be stuck matching your own trap tiles just to get some benefit from them.

    Purple: fair
    Red: fair
    Blue: fair

    Speed: low
    Sustainability: low
    Power: low

    Recommended build: 5/3/5; there's not too much difference between a 4-turn stun and a 6-turn stun, and the fact that the stun gets triggered randomly (or not at all!) reduces its utility greatly.

    32. Loki, +2

    Theme song: Creep (Radiohead)
    But I'm a creep, I'm a weirdo
    What the hell am I doing here
    I don't belong here

    The news that Loki will be removed from tokens and potentially given a third power is an extremely welcome one; as currently constructed, he's way too squishy and his Trickery at 11 black AP is both too expensive and often not even applicable (although it can be incredibly enraging when played on defense).

    Illusions is very cheap at a mere 5 purple AP, and can be fairly useful when combined with characters that also provide board shake, but it's still not good enough to justify using a whole character slot on.

    A third power and the health it would bring could turn Loki into a great support character for those events where you can choose all three team members, but until then, we can only be optimistic that he'll be playable some day.

    Speed: low
    Sustainability: low
    Power: low

    Black: variable; fair if playing against strong protect tile generators, good with Patch, poor otherwise
    Purple: fair

    Best build: No reason not to go 5/5, especially when his health is so low in the first place.
  • mischiefmakermischiefmaker Age Unconfirmed Posts: 932
    edited October 2014
    31. Daken, +1

    Theme song: Heavy Fuel (Dire Straits)
    My life makes perfect sense
    Lust and food and violence
    Sex and money are my major kicks
    Get me in a fight I like dirty tricks

    One of the only 2* characters to see an improvement in rankings, Daken's been heavily affected by several major changes. He only makes 1 strike tile now, but the addition of an active ability for 5 blue AP is a welcome addition in 2* land, where damage-dealing blues are hard to come by, and with a true heal to top it off he remains a great asset for 2* teams looking to make sustainable climbs in PvP or grind out rewards in PvE.

    He's relatively squishy at max 3920 health, and both his strike tiles and active blue don't do quite enough damage as we'd like, but overall he's now a top contender for A-team playtime in a 2* roster, especially since virtually every 2* team will want to chase green matches.

    Speed: medium
    Sustainability: high
    Power: low

    Blue: good

    Recommended build: Hard to go wrong here. I like at least L4 in black, as it's pretty rare to have fewer than 7 blue tiles on board, but beyond that it's a bit of a matter of taste. Personally, I'd go 5/4/4, to get maximum damage on the strike tile and getting some extra punch on the blue, but others prefer 3/5/5, so that the blue hits a bit harder. Frankly, I don't think it matters all that much -- the increase in damage from L3 to L5 purple isn't much, the improvement in healing from L4 to L5 black is marginal, and the increased damage from L4 to L5 blue only happens if you have at least 4 strike tiles on board, which is good if you use the skill as a finisher but quite marginal if you like having the flexibility of using it early.

    30. Invisible Woman, +3

    Theme song: Bag Lady (Erykah Badu)
    Bag lady you gonna miss your bus
    You can't hurry up
    Cause you got too much stuff


    dhs73.jpg

    OK, I'm mystified here. Winner of this edition's Spider-Man Memorial Wat Award, for being the character getting the most number of different votes (she had at least one vote at a whopping 43 of the 48 possible positions), Invisible Woman continues to climb in the rankings -- she's almost in the top half now! -- despite not getting any changes to her abilities or changes to the metagame that make her more viable. Maybe people are really optimistic that she'll get buffed to be a real 4* (spoiler alert: revamped x-force doesn't suck) and want to be ahead of the curve?

    At the moment, though, her powers are just way too slow. Her yellow and blue are pretty decent defensive powers, but the metagame is so far in favor of offense that even if she does manage to get one or both powers off, you can just power through them. Her one strong ability, green, generates up to 24 AP, and clever bubble placement can guarantee you never get fewer than 20, which is quite powerful, but it also ends the turn, which is really bad, and costs 13 blue and 9 green to set up, which is pretty unplayable when you consider that multiple characters are capable of ending the game with that much AP.

    Yellow: poor
    Blue: fair
    Green: fair

    Speed: low
    Sustainability: low
    Power: medium

    Recommended build: We've traditionally recommended 3/5/5, since yellow is more or less unplayably bad, but since the character is pretty unplayable in general unless you really like long slog games, I'm going with 4/4/5 -- I won't be playing her unless/until she gets a major buff, at which point I'd prefer to have whatever build will be most easily respec'd.

    29. Storm (classic), -3

    Theme song: Let It Go (Idina Menzel)
    Let it go, let it go
    Turn away and slam the door
    I don't care what they're going to say
    Let the storm rage on


    Another victim of the level shift, CStorm drops a few spots in our ranking due to her low health, but she's still one of the go-to characters in the 2* realm. The feature attraction here is Wind Storm, one of the premier area damage abilities in the game thanks to a combination of hefty damage, a long-duration stun, and using one of the two colors that can be easily generated at the 2* level.

    Lightning Strike is quite good as well, and underrated due to the cascade effect -- you get 12 AP for 12 green right off the bat, which is very good already, but then you're likely to get another 4-5 AP off ensuing cascades, making Lightning Strike more potent if you have Storm on a team that has strong powers on every (or even most) colors.

    Finally, there's Raging Tempest, which many consider her weakest, but is still a great passive ability, forcing opponents to take out Storm first or take a considerable amount of damage, since even the baby version adds up pretty fast. For hilarity, try pairing CStorm and Patch and hitting someone who's not CStorm (but has CStorm on the team) with Berserker Rage -- each CStorm's tempest will trigger the other's until one dies. Fun times!

    As noted previously, Storm's best pairing is with MMN, who provides a strong power on purple/red to complement her blue/yellow, and generates blue to power Wind Storm.

    Blue: excellent
    Green: good

    Speed: medium
    Sustainability: low
    Power: medium

    Recommended build: For 2* and transition players, 5/5/3 is clearly the only build. Once you're solidly in 3* territory, though, there are so many good powers, especially on green, that you won't use her green much, and a 3-turn stun is often enough to end the game. For this reason, I respec'd mine to 4/4/5 a while back and don't regret it -- it's won me a couple of matches in PvE that I had no business winning.

    28. Ragnarok, +3

    Theme song: Last Christmas (Wham!)
    Last Christmas
    I gave you my heart
    But the very next day you gave it away


    Ah, last Christmas, when Ragnarok reigned supreme and smashed all who would oppose him right in the face with a hammer. The nerf that came the next month has relegated him to featured-event-only duty for many, but for those willing to give him a shot, it turns out he's really not as bad as everyone says.

    Yes, he definitely has his warts -- his green is terrible on defense because it's so cheap that the AI will typically use it instead of something better, which is almost anything else, and his tile damage is so low and limited to two colors, making it hard to take advantage of his high health.

    That being said, played correctly, and on the right teams, he can still be a force. I've played a bunch of Thor/BWGS/Ragnarok, and while it's a little slow, it has powerful green generators in three colors and no shortage of game-ending options once you get that green. You do usually want to save up red until you can pair it with another green generator though, either by casting itself multiple times or by following it up with a Thunder Strike, and you'll typically want to avoid his green at all, unless there's a key special tile in the middle, or you have 20-some AP and just want to blow some stuff up to cause cascades.

    Red: good
    Green: fair

    Speed: medium
    Sustainability: medium
    Power: medium

    Recommended build: Hopefully the news that he's being removed from tokens for potential rework means he'll get a third power that makes this interesting, but for now there's no reason not to go 5/5.

    27. Thor, -4

    Theme song: Sail Away (The Rasmus)
    Remember when I swore
    My love is never ending
    And you and I will never die
    Remember when I swore

    These days the 1* to 2* transition is virtually nonexistent, but with nearly 30 3*s and no tournament for getting deterministic covers, the 2* to 3* transition is longer than ever. Thor ought be your first powerhouse character during this transition, and should be a mainstay of your roster until you can field 2 strong 3*s that go well together; even then you might find yourself breaking him out for the occasional PvE when the featured 3* characters are pretty terrible (hello, Heroic Venom, you scamp you).

    Yellow is the headliner here, as the 9 green tiles it creates fuels the most powerful color in the game and makes him viable even as you transition. Green is expensive, but does significant damage for the 2* level, and even red is serviceable for dealing damage and creating yellow matches when the board has a lot of yellow on it.

    The major downside of Thor is that he's pretty slow, but that's partially mitigated by his high health.

    Red: fair
    Yellow: good
    Green: good

    Speed: low
    Sustainability: medium
    Power: medium

    Recommended build: like CStorm, at the 2* level the clear best build is 3/5/5, but as you transition into 3*s, you may want to consider a respec to 5/5/3 -- the covers aren't exactly hard to come by, you'll typically have a better, faster use for green, and it's nice to get more damage on the red. That said, it's not a big deal, as the difference in damage even when buffed just isn't that big.

    26. Beast, new to the list

    Theme song: Paper Shoes (Incubus)
    I’d rather be on my own
    You’re about as reliable as paper shoes in bad weather


    If we had to sum up Beast in one word, it'd be "gimmicky". The design is solid in theory: Beast is a scientist, so his blue power represents the unpredictable nature and delayed effects of his research; he's also a doctor, represented by his yellow; and of course he's got some wild animal in him too, represented by his green, which smashes things up randomly and does a bunch of damage.

    In practice, though, it doesn't quite add up. Everything ends up dependent on there being a special blue tile on the board but the special tiles he himself creates are rife with problems: they're too random, too weak to compensate for the randomness, can get placed on the edge so generate fewer than four, are tied to a countdown, and top it all off, generating 4 tiles of the same color in a 9 block radius has a high chance of causing them to get matched immediately!

    The green is actually quite good, with team damage comparable to powerhouse abilities like Thor's Call the Storm, but it being conditional on a blue special tile detracts significantly from the utility since it means you need at least 8 blue (Beast himself or Black Panther) to get the special tile, which slows things down considerably. In addition, there really aren't any blue special tiles in the game that are good on their own -- 3* Captain America's is the closest, and it doesn't quite make the cut because it's so slow that by the time you get it off the game should be well on its way to over one way or another -- so you're putting up with a weak blue ability just to make his green playable. That's not a good tradeoff.

    Since the true healing change, virtually anything that's burst healing is trash, and Beast's yellow is no exception -- at 11, it's way too expensive, it's a highly valuable color, and it doesn't even heal for that much.

    A lot of people think Beast needs a rework, and it's hard to argue otherwise, but consider this: what if Daken made blue strike tiles instead of red? Beast would all of a sudden be pretty darned good, no?

    Blue: poor
    Green: fair
    Yellow: poor

    Speed: low
    Sustainability: low
    Power: low

    Recommended build: 5/5/3; his yellow is so bad that I considered going 5/5/0 for a while just to make sure that the AI doesn't have the option of saving up for it or using it on defense.
  • mischiefmakermischiefmaker Age Unconfirmed Posts: 932
    edited October 2014
    25. She-Hulk, new to the list

    Theme song: I Want It All (Queen)
    Listen all you people, come gather round
    I gotta get me a game plan, gotta shake you to the ground

    At first glance, She-Hulk looks like just another disappointing character. Her green might be the worst green power in the game -- heck, it might be the worst power period -- because it combines two of the worst abilities classes in the game (burst healing and random AP drain), plus it's expensive, but not so expensive that the AI might ignore it in favor of an actually good power.

    Her blue looks like it might be decent, but it plays worse than it looks, because the strike tiles aren't overwhelmingly strong, and in order to get maximum benefit out of it, you need your opponent to create special tiles (preferably strike tiles, since overwriting those gives you the best net effect), but not too many, or you won't be able to keep up. If neither you nor your opponent creates special tiles, her blue is worthless, and if you're overwriting your own tiles, you're getting pretty marginal benefit out of a fairly expensive power.

    So blue is highly situational -- you want to use it in games where your opponent generates strike tiles, but not too many strike tiles, and you don't generate tiles of your own. That's a pretty narrow niche.

    Finally, we come to red, which looks pretty mediocre: 1400 area damage isn't bad for 9 red, but it's nothing to write home about. But as we covered with Juggernaut, board shake and cascade ability is highly underrated -- in She-Hulk's case, at max level her red almost always generates at least one match and averages close to 2. That's pretty great if you have a team that can make use of other colors, although easier said than done since she's only contributing one useful ability.

    So, on a team with strong abilities in four or more colors, particularly one that can feed her red, you can game plan around using her board shake to cascade the enemy to death, but that's quite a lot of work just to make her viable.

    Blue: fair
    Green: poor
    Red: good

    Speed: low
    Sustainability: medium
    Power: medium

    Recommended build: I can't think of a reason not to go 5/3/5.

    24. Spider-Man, -2

    Theme song: King of Spain (Moxy Fruvous)
    Once I was the King of Spain
    Now I eat Humble Pie

    Once the best character in the game, Spider-Man continues to drop in the rankings, although it's still fairly common to see him as an opponent in PvP, since many like using his cheap stun to delay damaging powers and his protect tiles to slow down or eliminate match damage. Pairing him with a character that can fuel blue, like IM40 or MMN, can often get you 10 or 15 blue, which can be used to stun the entire enemy team, or put a character with a big power on ice long enough for you to take him out with a power of your own.

    His yellow, once a premier ability, is now relegated to obscurity with the true healing change, since like Beast's yellow, it's expensive and competes with much better powers. The bigger problem, though, is that even if you can get a bunch of protect tiles down with his purple and stun the enemy a couple times, what's your game plan from there? You need to have some way of actually downing the enemy, and Spidey contributes nothing there.

    He's an ok character for climbing, if you're not concerned about retaliations or game speed, but personally I'd rather use characters with no defensive powers that can just take out the opposition before they do too much damage.

    Yellow: fair
    Blue: fair

    Speed: low
    Sustainability: medium
    Power: low

    Recommended build: 3/5/5.

    23. Storm (Mohawk), new to the list

    Theme song: Living On My Own (Queen)
    Sometimes I feel I'm gonna break down and cry (so lonely)
    Nowhere to go nothing to do with my time
    I get lonely so lonely living on my own

    If you take each of her powers on its own and compare it to other powers of the same color, Storm comes out looking pretty bad: in general you'd rarely use her green over X-Force, Flame Jet, Judgment, Berserker Rage, World Rupture, or Call the Storm; you'd prefer Thunder Strike, Sacrifice, and Battleplan to her yellow; and you'd take Rage of the Panther, Summon Demons, and Surgical Strike over Hailstorm. Toss in one of the lowest health pools of any 3* character, and it's not hard to see why it's almost impossible for her to crack a PvP rotation.

    And yet, if you look past strict comparisons of powers and consider her from a more holistic point of view, Storm does have her place. Yes, green competes with a number of better powers, but it's also one of the very best AP generators in the game (10 green for 14 AP, plus ~1.5 cascade matches for about 18-19 AP total on average). Yellow provides some board shakeup, and if you have an abundant supply of cheap, effective teamups, it's a good way to lead in to those. And while black isn't a premier power, it's just a notch below, doing nearly 1k damage and being near impossible to clear entirely off the board, so great for using with strike tiles.

    I wouldn't recommend you invest heavily into her, but if you've got nowhere better to put your resources, putting her on a team that has game-ending or board-shaking powers in red/blue/purple could be better than you think. It's a narrow niche, though, and not even that great, which is why Storm often ends up being the least used 3* for many people.

    Green: good
    Yellow: fair
    Black: good

    Speed: medium
    Sustainability: low (medium if at least two of red/blue/purple/black create board shakeup)
    Power: medium

    Recommended build: 5/3/5. Yellow really needs a steady supply of strong teamups to be effective, and you're bound to run out of the ones you're relying on. Plus, the difference between 5 and 7 isn't huge, and neither is the damage upgrade.

    22. Iron Man (Model 40), +2

    Theme song: Charge Me Up (Jennifer Lopez)
    Running real low
    I’m moving in slow mo
    Charge me up, shift me up, I need a reload

    The biggest trap for new players in the game, Model 40 is one of the few places where adding additional covers actually makes the character significantly worse. Unibeam once might have been thought of as decently chunky, but when Human Torch is doing barely less damage for 8 (and then 6) AP, 13 AP is already awful without considering the added downside of draining other powers. Ballistic Salvo does decent damage, but 20 AP might as well be 1000 -- there's just no reason you should ever have that much AP, because the game should be over already.

    Yeah, it seems like IM40 is trash, but in actuality, Recharge is secretly the best red accelerator in the game. A 1-cover Model 40 can have 20+ red on turn 3 (double r/y boost, Recharge, match 2 red), and even without boosting you can generally be firing off a monster red power like Captain American's Star Spangled Avenger, Human Torch's Fireball x2, or Best There Is (IM40 conveniently stuns himself so that he's not taking any of Patch's colors).

    A 2-cover recharge is significantly slower, and providing blue isn't nearly as useful as red (although watch out for when 4* Thor makes her debut), but it's still reasonably fast and goes well with Captain America, who really needs that blue acceleration to reach his full potential. 3-covers, on the other hand...well, just ask around and you'll find longtime forum veterans who added a third cover and then threw the character away and started over. It's that bad.

    Red: fair
    Blue: poor
    Yellow: excellent

    Speed: high (for 5/5/1; medium for 5/5/2, low otherwise)
    Sustainability: medium
    Power: medium

    Recommended build: As discussed, 5/5/1 or 5/5/2.

    21. Ares, -4

    Theme Song: Don’t Speak (No Doubt)
    You and me, we used to be together
    Every day together always
    I really feel, I'm losing my best friend

    As much or moreso than 2* Thor, Ares is the mainstay of the 2* roster, with high-risk high-damage powers that can take down 3* teams with a little luck. All three of his powers are potent damage dealers, though you have to be a little careful using them -- green deals a minimum of 1k damage, and can do 2-3k if you save it up, but you want to make sure you're taking out the opposing team's best green power, else that damage is coming right back.

    Yellow is a little less risky, but you still want to check that there are no yellow matches on board and that you won't end the match with it, or else you don't get the healing (which adds up). Red doesn't have a drawback, but it's also his weakest power -- you generally won't be triggering the big version, and the baby version really doesn't put much of a dent in opposing teams.

    Plan on using Ares quite a lot until you're firmly in 3* land, and even then you should remember that he's quite potent when powered up.

    Green: good
    Red: fair
    Yellow: good

    Speed: medium
    Sustainability: medium
    Power: medium

    Recommended build: 4/4/5 is pretty clearly the optimal build; reducing green to 5 isn't very helpful since you almost never want to cast it that low, and improving red to level 5 doesn't give you much more of a health window. Meanwhile, reducing the yellow countdown to 2 is hugely important for making sure you get that health back.

    20. Doctor Doom, +2

    Theme song: Black Eyed Peas, Where is the Love
    Father, Father, Father help us
    Send some guidance from above
    'Cause people got me, got me questionin'
    Where is the love

    Once upon a time, Doctor Doom was marginally playable, as he had the only useful black power in the game and decent health to go along with it. Now, his health is mediocre for a 3* and his black power has been overshadowed by Rage of the Panther and Surgical Strike (not to mention competitive with Inferno and Hailstorm). His blue still fuels black, but at 9 it's not that great of an accelerator, and his black isn't so good that it ends the game -- an opponent who can clear out red tiles or cause board shake can often destroy enough of them to neutralize the threat. Of special note is playing him either with or against Daken, which is really bad; Daken clogs up all the red tiles, leaving none for Doom.

    In ranking after ranking, we keep hinting that he could be a really good character with a third power (and the attendant health increase that would bring) -- here's hoping the devs give him some love soon.

    Blue: good
    Black: good

    Speed: medium
    Sustainability: medium
    Power: medium

    Recommended build: 5/5, of course.

    19. Black Widow (original), -9

    Theme Song: The World Is Not Enough (Garbage)
    And if you're strong enough
    Together we can take the world apart

    OBW dropping 9 spots and well out of the top ten should hardly be a surprise, even though she still has one of the best sets of support abilities in the game. Conventional wisdom would attribute her drop to the true healing change, since the tactic of delaying the end of a match to cast her blue once or twice and emerge fully healed for the next match no longer works, but I actually think it has more to do with the level shift.

    Blue isn't the world-class ability it once was, but it's still pretty good on defense, and casting it once you've taken some damage gives you a buffer against more permanent damage (this works better if you can spread damage around on your team). The added bonus of delaying countdowns is a pretty nice bonus for PvE, too.

    Purple is a strong contender for best ability in the game period, as it functions as both an accelerator for your abilities and defense against your opponent casting abilities, and black is top-tier as well -- it fuels both her active abilities, and if you pair her with someone who can generate strong strike tiles you really can tear the world apart.

    So what's the problem? The issue now is health. She's never been too sturdy, but the additional gap in levels brought on by the shift means that 3* teams can easily dispatch her on defense before she can get off Aggressive Recon, and on offense she doesn't last long thanks to the combination of tanking multiple colors, true healing, and increased match damage.

    She's still a worthwhile and useful addition to your roster, and the only 2* who holds up in the 3* range, but she's not the mainstay she used to be -- just look at how many threads there used to be about how OP she was, and how many there are now.

    Purple: excellent
    Blue: fair

    Speed: medium
    Sustainability: medium
    Power: medium

    Recommended build: 3/5/5. There are those who still prefer 5-purple builds, but it used to be hard enough to get off 11 purple on defense, and these days it's just about impossible against good teams. For those who have the roster space, a second 1/5/5 build is worth considering -- you don't get black AP, but you get Recon off much faster for the big three colors (red/yellow/green), and OBW's combination of power and squishiness makes it so that it's nice to have two for those PvEs where she's buffed.

    18. Black Widow (grey suit), +1

    Theme song: Why Does It Always Rain On Me? (Travis)
    I'm seeing a tunnel at the end of all these lights
    Sunny days
    Where have you gone?
    I get the strangest feeling you belong.
    Why does it always rain on me?

    She hasn't been changed once in the past year, but a look at her rankings tells you a lot about how the metagame has passed her by: #5 (the best of the non-degenerate characters), #9 (solidly playable), #16 (barely playable), and now #19. The Ragnarok nerf took away the best way to generate the green needed for Sniper Rifle, then the introduction of Thor, Patch, and Sentry made competition for green much more intense, and the newest characters all outclass her health-wise.

    Don't get me wrong -- Sniper Rifle is still a game-winner: you get it off, and you’re in pretty good standing. But 19 AP is hard to get, even with the speed boost that Deceptive Tactics offers you, and the combination of her low health and the fact that the AI doesn't know where to place those tiles means she's an absolute non-entity on defense. Pistol is usable in a pinch if there are special tiles you can't get to, but it should only be considered as a last resort since it's so overpriced.

    She's a strong character for PvE, since goons don't do any damage to her while she's building up her AP and all of her powers can deal with countdown tiles, but outside of fun little niche teams (with mHawkeye for Speed Shot, the aforementioned Thor/Ragnarok/BWGS greenapalooza team), it's hard to see where you might use her for PvP.

    Green: good (borderline excellent)
    Red: fair
    Purple: good

    Speed: low
    Sustainability: low
    Power: high

    Recommended build: 5/3/5
  • mischiefmakermischiefmaker Age Unconfirmed Posts: 932
    edited October 2014
    17. Captain Marvel, new to the list

    Theme song: Help Me (Macy Gray)
    Some say I'm bad
    Some say I'm good
    Some they think I'm just a psycho broad but I'm just misunderstood

    Opinions are divided on Captain Constipation (seriously, have you seen the animation for her black power?) -- there are those who point to a red power that's situational and weak, a mediocre black, and a yellow that requires taking a lot of damage, and conclude that she's borderline unplayable; on the other hand, reasonably priced 2-turn stuns, as her black is, don't grow on trees, and her yellow ability on a properly constructed team can be very strong.

    So which is it? As it is with a growing number of characters, especially in the 10-20 range, it really depends on who you pair her with. By herself, she's pretty weak -- as the last character standing, she might hit you with a couple of reds and the occasional black, but you can easily work around triggering her yellow and her red doesn't do enough damage to win the game -- but if you put her on a team where there's a better outlet for the red and she can still get in front to absorb big hits to charge it, she's definitely playable.

    As such, her best friend is Patch, who creates strike tiles strong enough to charge her up every time she gets hit, and provides a powerful outlet for all that red in The Best There Is; a berserker rage followed by two hits to Marvel should be enough to let you get off TBTI and Hypersonic Punch, which should be enough to win most games. The key here is keeping Marvel at a level where Rage strike tiles trigger Energy Absorption and letting Patch tank red and yellow for TBTI; sure, you don't get full benefit from her max health, but the point here is to catch an unwary opponent by surprise when you're suddenly sporting a gazillion red, not scare them off.

    Red: fair
    Black: good

    Speed: medium
    Sustainability: low
    Power: medium

    Recommended build: I'd strongly recommend 3/5/5, which pairs best with other characters and gives you maximum benefit from her yellow, which is easily her best ability. Some like 4/5/4, which makes red slightly more playable, but it's still pretty weak and I'd prefer to be able to charge black.

    16. Falcon, +1

    Theme song: Superman (Lazlo Bane)
    No I can't do this all on my own
    I know that I'm no Superman

    Look, up in the sky! It's a bird! It's a plane! It's the weakest standalone 3* in the game! More than anyone else, Falcon depends on his teammates to be worth playing; specifically, he really needs to be paired with Daken. Why Daken? Because strike tiles benefit most from Falcon's best ability, Inspiration, and only Daken makes tiles fast enough for Inspiration to have time to ramp up into something worthwhile.

    The problem is, even with Daken, the board has to be a bit cooperative -- you need those green matches early, then you need yellow matches, and you need the strike tiles not to land on easily matched red tiles -- and of course having only one viable pairing greatly restricts a character's usefulness, not to mention that the AI will happily gobble up yellow tiles without having anything on board to augment, so he's a lot less useful on defense.

    That being said, he can be a real powerhouse on offense; it's not uncommon to see stupidly large strike tiles result from Falcon just doing his thing.

    His other powers are fairly mediocre; blue is nice for when there's a special tile tucked away somewhere you can't reach, but isn't powerful enough to keep up with anything that generates more than a a few, and purple is deceptively bad because the protect tiles prevent you from augmenting your strike tiles, so all it does is drag out the game, giving your opponent more of a chance to get the AP they need to punch through your shield of birds.

    Purple: poor

    Speed: low (medium with Daken)
    Sustainability: low
    Power: medium

    Recommended build: 5/5/3 is the most versatile build; even the most avid avian avoids Bird Strike. However, there's a couple of niche arguments for 5/3/5 -- 1, when you play in Falcon's featured PvP, not being able to target countdown tiles prevents the infuriating situation where his Falcon takes out your strike tile but your Falcon keeps taking out his Redwing tile, enabling him to take out another strike tile; and 2, a 5/3/5 Falcon is a decent Sentry-bombing deterrent, since he can take out the Sacrifice tile before World Rupture goes off. That being said, Falcon-Sentry is easily beaten by Sentry-Daken or Sentry-Black Panther, so you just have to be a bit careful when choosing your matchups.

    15. Psylocke, even

    Theme song: Destroyed (Within Temptation)
    I did my best to please you,
    But my best was never good enough.
    Somehow you're only able to see
    All I am not.

    I've been agitating for Psylocke to get her due for quite some time now -- she’s an all-around decent character with two really solid powers, red and black, which synergize well with each other. But the fact is, like BWGS, the meta game has passed her by; her 6800 health, once average, is now paltry next to the 10k sported by the top-tier characters, and going up against those characters means that even hitting an early Psychic Knife/Psi-Katana combo, giving you 2.5k damage plus 600 per turn or so, still leaves you too much health to chop through before they get enough AP to retaliate, and Betsy doesn't have the health to survive that retaliation.

    Don't get me wrong -- she’s solid, fast, and fun to play, she’s great for transitioning, she pairs well with Daken, OBW, and a few notable others, but in the endgame she falls into the same awkward hole that Punisher and Torch fall into - great characters which don’t have huge nukes or a lot of health, so are best suited for beating up low-health teams quickly.

    Red: good
    Blue: poor (How poor? Read Budget Player Cadet's excellent takedown in the spoiler tag.)
    Psylocke's blue is just so bad that it's hard to even get your head around. At first, stealing up to 19AP seems pretty strong, even when attached to a 10-AP price tag and a 2-turn countdown. But let's think about it for a moment. Why is AP steal good? Well, it gives you resources, and it robs the enemy of resources. Two problems.

    1. Robbing the enemy of resources is meaningless if the enemy has no use for those resources. If I'm running Patch/Cap/Daken, for instance, and the opponent uses bewilder on me, it's mostly going to hit purple. I don't care if I lose my purple with that team; it's AP I can never use anyway. Sure, it might hit red or blue or green, but at 10 AP, by the time Bewilder comes online, I've likely already spent my useful AP, and if not, then there's hardly going to be enough there to justify stealing 19 of it.

    2. Giving me resources is meaningless if I have no use for those resources. In the current meta, almost any solid team you can play is going to have purple as a dead color. Just check the power ratings -- how many Excellent purples are there (hint: only two, and they both belong to 2* characters)? So that means you're likely to steal purple, but your own team is likely not to have a use for purple!

    This is Bewilder's inherent paradox - the more likely you are to snag a certain color, the less likely it is that anyone on your team can do anything with it. In the 2* range you at least mitigate this problem; there, the "rare color" is usually Black, and Psylocke has an awesome black. But once you transition, it's purple all day every day.

    3. Timing. You often want to use AP steal to prevent a power from going off, but even if your opponent happens to have a cache of AP that you're actually worried about (say, a Thor-based team with a bunch of yellow or green), by the time the counter resolves, the enemy may have already used the AP, or matched other colors such that the dangerous color is no longer the highest. And that's assuming the countdown even survives that long!

    At the end of the day, the restriction of "color with most AP", which would seem to make it get the most bang for its buck, in reality just makes it completely unplayable on a fundamental level. And I don't just mean "bad now", I mean "bad regardless of what they do". Like, what if they add a whole bunch of good purple powers? Well, simple - the meta would shift, and suddenly yellow or blue would be the color that most teams don't cover.

    You can get half-decent use out of Bewilder by making sure your own team has a use for every color, but you can get almost as good use out of Bewilder by pretending it isn't there and using a decent blue power instead.
    Black: good

    Speed: high
    Sustainability: medium
    Power: medium

    Recommended build: 5/3/5. There are some people that recommend 4/5/4, since the upgrades to red and black at level 5 aren't as important as the upgrades at level 4, and getting her blue to a 2 turn countdown makes it more playable.

    Those people are crazy.

    14. Deadpool, new to the list

    Deadpool: I Just Can't Wait to be King (Elton John)
    Everybody look left
    Everybody look right
    Everywhere you look I'm
    Standing in the spotlight!

    Speaking of crazy and rare purple powers, at #14 we have everyone's favorite fourth-wall breaking psychotic, bringing with him one of the most powerful skills in the game, that just happens to be on purple. Let's break it down: Whales does 4096 to each character, which is the second-highest total in the game (Sniper Rifle does a touch more when you account for tile damage and subsequent cascades), on a color where there's virtually no competition, which also means that if your opponent tries to deny purple, they're essentially throwing away their turn since they're gathering a color they can't use. If that weren't enough, roughly once a week (or more if you can stockpile those Deadpool points) you can turn it into an “I win” button that instantly downs any team in the game.

    So why only a "good" rating for purple? The problem here is the high cost -- at 14 AP, and no good accelerator for purple, it's hard to build up the AP for it without making it your top priority. And here's where the flip side of rare purple powers bites you -- if your opponent doesn't have a dangerous purple power, when you chase purple, your opponent is free to gather the AP that actually hurts you.

    Purple's still quite good, of course, and it's only one of his powers: red is so cheap and does so much damage that unless you're bringing a character with true healing abilities, a fight against Deadpool is almost certain to leave you reaching for a health pack. That being said, the damage being based on % of health remaining makes it tough to win games with it, since you get diminishing returns fairly quickly.

    Finally, there's his black passive, which grants the ability to hide weaker teammates from powerful attacks. The best way to think of this is as an extended health bar for your other two characters -- an opponent wanting to dispatch your Hood, for example, needs to do it without using big powers, or Deadpool just jumps in front. If you're facing a Deadpool, you can mitigate this by remembering to chop Deadpool down below the health of your target character before you unleash the big moves, so the extension isn't the full amount of Deadpool's health, but it's still pretty annoying.

    Due to the high AP requirement of his purple and the teammate-protecting function of his black, Deadpool plays particularly well with Hood, especially if your third is a tanky character with strong green/yellow powers (spoiler alert: there's a few guys who fit that description who are pretty good).

    Red: good
    Purple: good

    Speed: medium
    Sustainability: medium
    Power: high

    Recommended build: 5/5/3; the extra healing from his passive isn't worth the massive loss in damage you'll take dropping to L4 in either red or purple.

    13. Human Torch, even

    Theme song: Set Fire To The Rain (Adele)
    I set fire to the rain
    And I threw us into the flames
    I felt something die

    Holding steady at #13 is glass cannon Human Torch, who's capable of dishing out huge sustained damage, but has such low health that he's often half-dead by the time he gets rolling; teams built around Torch as their primary damage dealer will find themselves targeted by even 2* teams -- yes, 2* teams, as a fully-resolved Sunder knocks off more than HALF his health.

    That said, he shouldn't be underestimated; Fireball is easily one of the best red skills in the game in terms of pure damage conversion, doing a solid 375 damage per AP on the first cast and a whopping 500 damage per AP on each successive cast. Inferno and Flame Jet serve similar functions, doing massive damage over time, and the combination of having two auto-attack mechanisms plus a cheap red power means Torch benefits perhaps more than anyone else in the game from strike tiles -- I’m reminded of a funny story when I had 2 flame jets and inferno on the board, and my opponent threw out a Berserker Rage; he lost two characters in the next turn.

    Because of this, on offense you really want to take out Torch early, because if his team gets down some strike tiles, things can get ugly even after he's downed -- it's tough to take out all the Inferno tiles, and they keep hitting you even after he's downed.

    On defense, though, his incredibly low health and the AI's penchant for casting Flame Jet with 5 or 6 AP makes him an easy target; just don't leave him standing for too long and you'll be in good shape. Ideally you''ll pair him with someone with an expensive green power who's also a scary target, like Thor, which will help the AI save up green for making Flame Jet an actual scary skill.

    Red: excellent
    Black: good (would be excellent, if not for AP drain on other colors)
    Green: good

    Speed: high
    Sustainability: low
    Power: high

    Recommended build: As discussed, red is the star here, so you definitely want 5 red. After that, it's really up to you. Green is better on offense since you want to match as much green as possible, both to fuel and protect it, so the tile should last a while and do lots of damage, while black takes a while to set up (clearing special/TU tiles from the middle, casting your yellow/blue/purple powers), but black is better on defense since the AI is so terribly bad at casting green. The damage increases are roughly the same; my personal build is 5/4/4 but really any of the 5 red builds are quite good.

    12. Magneto (classic), -10

    Theme song: All Good Things Come To An End (Nelly Furtado)
    Flames to dust
    Lovers to friends
    Why do all good things come to an end

    Probably the biggest surprise on this list isn't that Magneto fell from the top spot -- we all knew that was coming -- but given how hard nerfs hit the previous #1s, it's that he's still knocking on the door of the top 10, and might actually be underrated. Sure, he's not the take-infinite-turns, get-as-much-AP-as-you-can-carry, guaranteed-win machine he used to be, but he still brings plenty of firepower to the table.

    Start with his yellow, which is a serviceable skill -- it won't protect you from almost any ability, but it will reduce match damage to nothing and it can overwrite enemy special tiles, albeit randomly and so rarely that you only want to try that as a desperation move. That's not bad, but it's nothing to write home about (unless the people who live at home are boring and kind of weird).

    Blue isn't the game-breaking ability it used to be, but now it packs a nasty punch, and it's actually usable by the AI. Plus, blue is generally a pretty weak color, so it's hard for opponents to deny, and at nearly 5k damage, it's good enough to be something you might prioritize in many games.

    The real winner here, surprisingly, is red; yes, the old one was better, but the new one typically delivers around 2k damage, and I've seen it hit for more than twice that with regularity. At 8 AP, that's up there with the best reds in the game, especially when you consider the cascade potential and how it drives Hood's already insane AP steal power into overdrive (because there are no TU tiles on the board, each color averages a shade over 10 tiles).

    The reason red plays so much better than it looks is a bit subtle: team ups are generally inferior to built-in abilities, because you can only cast them once, and because the AI gets a random one, often at 2-3 covers. If you could choose between the AI only matching TU tiles and the AI never matching TU tiles, you'd take the former in a heartbeat; by the same token, you should almost always be avoiding TU tiles yourself.

    This creates a win-win situation when you have Magneto -- either both of you are avoiding TU tiles, leading to a massive smackdown and oodles of cascades when you cast Polarizing Force, or the AI is matching TU tiles, leaving the colors you want and not getting colors that can actually hurt you. Booya, grandma.

    For this reason, Magneto plays well with Hood. He also has massive synergy with X-Force: he covers two colors XForce doesn’t, gives flexibility on yellow, and tossing down Polarizing Force before Surgical Strike makes the already ridiculous cascades even dumber, as now you have two colors completely gone from the board. Follow that up with an X-Force and you can often rinse and repeat until the opposing team is gone.

    Yellow: fair
    Red: excellent
    Blue: good

    Speed: medium (high if paired with other board-shake abilities)
    Sustainability: medium (same)
    Power: high

    Recommended build: 3/5/5; yes, you get a bit more protection with higher levels of yellow, but killing the enemy team, as maxed red and blue can do, tends to reduce damage a heck of a lot better.

    11. Punisher, -6

    Theme song: Another One Bites The Dust (Queen)
    Another one bites the dust
    And another one gone and another one gone
    Another one bites the dust, eh

    Remember when we talked about the awkward Psylocke hole? (Hm, that sounds a lot dirtier than it did a few paragraphs ago.) Basically everything that we said about Psylocke applies to Punisher as well, except with some of the ability colors rearranged.

    His green is the star here, generating 3 hefty strike tiles at a relatively cheap 8 green AP, and synergizes well with his black, spreading that strike tile damage boost to the entire enemy team and generating attack tiles that add up pretty quickly. Red's the weakest of the set, but still useful against high health targets, especially in PvE.

    The problem is, while he's got slightly higher overall power than Psylocke thanks to three usable abilities and a green that's better than anything she has to offer, the root problem is still the same: damage just isn't high enough to down the big guns before they can gather the AP to retaliate, so his best use is really against low-health targets that you need to dispatch quickly.

    The other problem affecting him is that his best pairings, Magneto and OBW, got a lot worse, and the removal of environment tiles means he lost one of his slight advantages, as he was one of the few characters to generate 4 AP per environment tile. At this point he's a speedy low-health guy who's fun to play and useful in transitioning from 2* to 3*, but fairly inconsequential at the high end.

    Black: good
    Green: good
    Red: fair

    Speed: high
    Sustainability: medium
    Power: medium

    Recommended build: There's much debate over whether 3/5/5 is better or 5/5/3 is better, but I'd say it really doesn't matter -- get 5 green and just go with whichever power you get 5 covers in first.
  • mischiefmakermischiefmaker Age Unconfirmed Posts: 932
    edited October 2014
    10. Hulk, even

    Theme song: Hit me with your best shot (Pat Benetar)
    Hit me with your best shot
    Fire Away


    Starting the top ten is old stalwart Hulk, who holds the distinction of being quite possibly the most effective defensive scarecrow in the game. Huge health? Check - second-highest in the game after Devil Dinosaur. Ridiculous comeback factor? Check - I’ve lost my fair share of games where my characters got the clap every single round until it was over. Counters the best ability class in the game? Check and check -- take a team of strike tile generators and multiple attacks per turn into a fight with Hulk and things can get ugly in a hurry.

    What keeps him from being top tier, though, is that he's generally pretty useless on offense. Smash is ridiculously overpriced and anti-synergizes with Thunderous Clap, since it eats up a devastating 10 green before doing any extra damage, plus potentially hurts your own team. Thunderous Clap itself is decent but for 10 green AP you kind of wish it had more bite, especially compared to what else is out there in green.

    Hulk's true value comes from Anger -- if you've got him on offense and you have something better than his own green to spend it on, you'll like it when he gets angry, and you'll really like it when he gets really angry. For this reason, he plays best with Patch, where you can generate the enemy strike tiles needed to make him angry, then turn around and turn each hit into a 1K AoE attack, plus cascades, which then generates more green for more Rage for more strike tiles. A 3-4 hit cascade from the enemy team in this situation is pretty much game over -- you'll be hitting for 3k AoE, about as much as Call the Storm, plus tossing on at least 1-2k in cascades and another Berserker Rage on top of that. Maniacal cackle as you watch your Anger tiles resolve entirely optional but highly recommended.

    Green: fair
    Red: fair

    Speed: low (medium if paired with Patch)
    Sustainability: medium (low if paired with Patch)
    Power: medium

    Recommended build: 5/3/5 is generally considered best, but the key here is 5 black. Anything else is pretty marginal optimization, since you really shouldn't be looking to use either of his abilities except in a pinch.

    9. ***Captain America, +2

    Theme song: Night Train (Guns 'n' Roses)
    Loaded like a freight train
    Flyin' like an aeroplane


    3* Captain America is a lot like a freight train -- he takes a little while to get going, but once he’s rolling he’s very hard to stop. Star-Spangled Avenger is one of the top red skills in the game, and burying the countdown into the corners makes it highly unlikely that the AI will be able to match it, letting you dish out 3k of punishment every three turns into infinity.

    The same goes for Peacemaker, which puts up a huge defense tile that reduces even overbuffed PvE match damage to nearly nothing. Speaking of PvE, that's where he shines most, as being able to overwrite enemy special tiles is especially effective; you can often down or at least stun one enemy while overwriting the most dangerous tile from a second, essentially neutralizing two foes at once. The odd power out here is Sentinel of Liberty, which is almost a complete waste of space -- too expensive, and the protect tiles it creates are redundant with his blue.

    The relatively high cost of his abilities, though, and the AI putting the countdown in a random place on the board, make him a pretty weak defender. You won't often get hit with his powers, and if you do, chances are good you can take out the countdown tile so that you won't get hit with them again.

    That being said, he does have some strong offensive pairings for PvP; Hood lets you stunlock an enemy by going Peacemaker/Intimidate while also helping to gather the AP needed to get the train rolling, and IM40 gives a massive kickstart with his yellow. If you've never played an IM40/Cap/Hood team, it's a real pleasure -- just be sure to have something planned for the retaliations you'll be taking.

    Yellow: poor
    Red: excellent
    Blue: good

    Speed: low
    Sustainability: medium
    Power: high

    Recommended build: I can't see a reason not to go 3/5/5.

    8. The Hood, +1

    Theme song: Friends On The Other Side (Princess and The Frog OST)
    I hope you're satisfied
    But if you ain't
    Don't blame me!
    You can blame my friends on the other side!


    Easily the best passive in the game, and perhaps the best power in the game period, Hood's blue is game-warping -- there's almost no character in the game that you'd target before Hood, because leaving him alive means slowly watching your AP drain away while your opponent uses it to power their own abilities.

    For most players on the high end, this essentially results in an arms race -- if your defensive team doesn't have Hood on it, I get a big advantage by bringing Hood, and if your defensive team does have Hood on it, the easiest way for me to counter that advantage is, you guessed it, to bring a Hood of my own. No wonder you see so many red capes running around at the end of a tournament.

    That being said, if you don't have a Hood of your own, or would prefer not to bring someone so squishy, there are some pretty good options for dealing with enemy Hoods. As we've covered in the past, passive abilities that ramp up damage, like a Daken/Falcon team, work well, as do cheap abilities that increase damage (Psylocke/Punisher). Another tactic that I've used with good success is to have a wide variety of powers that can all kill Hood, and aggressively pursue whichever one has the fewest tiles on board -- this relies on the board being cooperative, but an X-Force/Magneto team, for example, can usually get 8 red or green fast enough to prevent Hood from doing too much damage.

    With the emergence of Sentry-bombing, Hood's black got a pretty good bump up in usefulness. It's still pretty niche and the marginal effect isn't huge, as many players are hopping perfectly fine with a L3 black Hood, but it's more than just an afterthought, and is likely to get stronger over time as more significant countdown tiles are introduced. The aforementioned Cap/IM40/Hood team, for example, is one that gets a bit of improvement from a 5 black Hood.

    Finally, there's his yellow, which is expensive, but still quite strong; it costs 15 AP but generates 18, and you can usually target the board such that you're getting 5-7 of a single color, which is often enough to trigger something really nasty.

    Yellow: good
    Black: fair (good with Sentry)

    Speed: medium
    Sustainability: low
    Power: high

    Recommended build: 5/5/3 is more versatile, as removing the turn-ending restriction from yellow changes it from "borderline unplayable" to "pretty good". If you're serious about Sentry-bombing, and want to put up PvP scores north of 1600, you probably want to go 3/5/5. And, if you're a crazy person, you might consider 0/5/5, since the extra health doesn't matter that much if both your offensive and defensive fights are Sentry-dominated, and having no yellow power means you might occasionally get a Sacrifice off instead of having the AI wait for Twin Pistols. But really all that matters is 5 blue; everything else is just tweaking around the edges.

    7. Wolverine (Patch), -3

    Theme song: Show Me The Meaning Of Being Lonely (Backstreet Boys)
    Show me the meaning of being lonely
    Is this the feeling I need to walk with?
    Tell me why I can't be there where you are
    There's something missing in my heart


    Poor Patch, who's losing all his best buddies one by one. Six months ago we wrote this:
    - Spider Man's stun means not having to worry about enemy strike tiles
    - Magneto can overwrite them, and his ultra-cheap blue/red powers take full advantage of your own strike tiles
    - Patch green + BP black = game over
    - Black Widow's Espionage double-dips on strike tiles (hey, a blue match! oh, that's TWO THOUSAND DAMAGE)
    - Patch's green will trigger Anger from Hulk, which then benefits from your own strike tiles and does area damage, and the resulting green tiles are often enough to cast Rage again
    - Psylocke's cheap red and black, plus attack tiles, add up to a lot of damage in a hurry
    - IM40's yellow produces enough red for Best There Is, plus stuns IM40 so Patch's icon gets on more tiles
    Well, since then:
    - Spider-Man's stun can't lock up the enemy team
    - Magneto's overwrite isn't targeted any more, and is therefore unlikely to hit the enemy tiles, and he doesn't have any ultra-cheap abilities any more
    - OBW has difficulty taking more than one or two strike-tile enhanced hits, thanks to the level shift
    - Psylocke's relatively low health makes her a big target on defense

    He's still a decent pairing with BP, Hulk, and IM40, not bad with Cap (who can overwrite the enemy tiles, though is quite slow), and a lot of players are finding a Patch/Daken team to be great for long sustained climbs; his powerful regeneration ability coupled with the True Healing change is likely what keeps him at a relatively lofty #7. But it's hard not to feel like the meta is passing him by.

    For now, that is -- his ability to give the opposing team strike tiles is underrated, and in the right teams (Hulk/Marvel, properly leveled), his biggest weakness can be turned into a monster strength.

    Green: excellent
    Red: good

    Speed: medium (high with a red accelerator)
    Sustainability: medium (high if you have a plan to deal with enemy strike tiles)
    Power: high

    Recommended build: 3/5/5 has been my go-to for a long time; I think it's more versatile and less dangerous than an other build, and it's easily my favorite build for PvEs, where Patch's combination of huge offensive firepower and ability to sustain long healthpack-free pushes is incredibly valuable.

    That being said, I find myself using Patch less and less, and I'm starting to wonder if 4/5/4, 5/3/5, or 5/5/3 aren't where I'll end up as the meta continues to shift.

    6. Black Panther, +1

    Theme song: Man On The Prowl (Queen)
    I'm gonna take a little walk on the wild side
    I'm gonna loosen up and get me some gas
    I'm gonna get me some action


    Perhaps the biggest beneficiary of the addition of team-ups is Black Panther, who used to be a touch overrated, but is now clearly a top-tier guy. Strong health? Check. Game-ending AOE? Check. Plays well with others? Check. And now, on top of that, has one of the best strike tile generators in the game, easily capable of getting you over 1k damage per turn. The additional power given by having 12 team-up AP is like fondant on a wedding cake -- looks nice, good in theory, but you're really there for the cake; if you ever have enough teamup AP to trigger the boosted tiles, you've either had crazy luck or you've done something very wrong with your matching prioritization.

    Oh, and let's not forget that Rage Of The Panther was untouched in the bargain, and does over 3k AOE for 12 AP and has one of the best damage effectiveness ratios of any skill in the game at 870 Damage/AP. The best part about it is that black is relatively underrepresented (albeit getting stronger with Surgical Strike) and he doesn’t have red or green, so you can pair him up with all kinds of people - Patch, Hulk, Sentry (save life by using Battleplan instead of Sacrifice - a little slower but a lot less self-harming!), Deadpool, Torch...you get the idea.

    A tip for using Rage of the Panther: if you know what color RotP will give the opponent (and you should!) and can use it to kill off a character, it grants AP before it does damage. Often I’ve managed to leave the opponent with a pile of AP they just can’t do anything with because the hero that could’ve used it died that turn. Fun stuff.

    Yellow: excellent
    Blue: fair (borderline poor)
    Black: excellent

    Speed: medium
    Sustainability: medium
    Power: high

    Recommended build: You'll note we didn't talk much about blue; that's because it's pretty awful -- reasonably cheap, but the you don't want to spend turns matching blue to protect the countdown, so it's easily matched away, and even if it does resolve, you need the resulting protect tile to also find a good home, lest it be matched away immediately, and *then* even if you can get two or even three protect tiles on board, which is incredibly unlikely, you still aren't getting protected against more than match damage. Go 5/3/5 and pretend the blue doesn't exist for the purposes of team composition.

    5. ***Daken, +1

    Theme song: Teeth (Lady GaGa)
    Show me your teeth
    Show me whatcha got
    Show me your teeth teeth teeth teeth


    Man, what is up with Daken's mouth? Did the 2* version get braces along with the shiny yellow spandex? Maybe Osborn paid for them? These are the kinds of things I think about sometimes.

    Anyway, if BP was the biggest beneficiary of the team up feature, Daken was arguably the biggest beneficiary of true healing. Already a top-tier character, he holds his spot in the top 5 despite taking a pretty hefty nerf to strike tiles (previously 138 per green match, now only 94), as he's probably the most versatile partner in the game, synergizing nicely with almost all the top characters:

    - Thor, Sentry: builds strike tiles on the green you want to prioritize, then those strike tiles boost AoE abilities
    - X-Force, Patch: strong green users, plus having two true healers means not using health packs except in case of emergency
    - BP: tanks black for BP; strike tiles boost AoE
    - Not top characters, but pairing Daken with Psylocke, Punisher, or Torch makes for ultra-fast games, and is my go-to team for climbing when the matchmaking oracle gives me 2* teams

    About the only top character that Daken doesn't play great with is Nick Fury, because Fury's best skill conflicts with Daken's only active skill, and while Chemical Reaction isn't the strongest power in the game, its 5 AP cost is about as cheap as you get. It's also tremendously versatile: it works great as an early finisher of low-health support characters like Hood, late to consume the strike tiles you've been building up all game, and even has a bit of synergy with things like Deceptive Tactics and Thunder Strike when the board is right, shaking things up a bit and giving you a key green match at times.

    His low health is compensated for by his tremendous healing ability, as he shrugs off match damage as well as anybody in the game, although at the upper end of PvP play, where damage comes in huge bursts, it's a bit of a factor and keeps him from being the best of the best.

    Blue: good

    Speed: high
    Sustainability: high
    Power: medium

    Recommended build: It's absolutely critical to have 5 purple, as that second strike tile makes a world of difference. As for the rest, the proposed Daken change would have all but forced a 5/5/3 build, but it looks like it never went through, so prospective Daken builders still have some flexibility -- I like 5/5/3 because I don't like worrying about the heal, blue still does enough damage to finish people off, and I often compensate for losing 3 tiles by getting two, which is close enough. 5/4/4 gives you a bit more punch on blue in exchange for occasionally not healing, while 5/3/5 is even more so; which one you pick is a bit of a matter of taste.

    4. Nick Fury, new to the list

    Theme song: Demolition Man (Sting)
    Tied to a chair and the bomb is ticking
    This situation was not of your picking
    You say that this wasn't in your plan
    And don't mess around with the demolition man


    Let's just get this out of the way: I think Fury is a bit overrated. I mean, don't bring out the torches and pitchforks just yet, he's still very good, but most of his skills don't play quite as well as they look on paper.

    The lone exception is Demolition, which you most definitely do not not want to mess around with -- matching a trap tile almost always means losing a character, and with the current bug, matching two tiles in the same move will deal the full value of the triggered traps twice, which is insanity in a box. Setting 7 traps on random tiles almost guarantees you're hitting one sooner or later, and even if you can take out a bunch of traps with tile-destroying abilities, the ensuing cascade can cripple a character even with only 3-4 traps left on board. If that weren't enough, Demolition is in blue, for which there's little competition at the high end; Fury would be worth running even if his other skills were garbage.

    The other two skills look great, but don't play quite as well in practice. Purple's expensive, and you'll rarely be denying your opponent purple, which means you're unlikely to use it often. When you do, you get a solid return -- the initial damage is no slouch -- but then you're putting a 2-turn countdown in a random place, which means there's no way to protect it. What's worse, getting it to resolve isn't good enough, because getting 9 AP on a delay isn't something you should rely on much, and then the strike tile suffers from the same impossible-to-protect problem as the countdown prior.

    I've played Fury a bunch and it's pretty rare for me to get more than a turn or two's worth out of the strike tile; usually it either gets matched before being resolved, gets matched after, or the game is just over: remember that purple is 12 AP in a color you can't accelerate and likely shouldn't be prioritizing, so by the time you cast Escape Plan you should already have fired off a bunch of other powers.

    By the way, does anyone else find the animation for Escape Plan amusing? Like, here's tactical genius Nick Fury, Jr., who's gotten his intel, leading his team to safety by...shooting the opponent in the face. Real subtle, Nick.

    Which brings us to yellow. Boy, if this skill isn’t just a grab bag of awesome, right? 320 points of shield tiles, 2720 direct damage, 1360 AOE damage, 2 crit tiles for even more damage, and a 3-turn stun. You don’t want to get hit by this.

    ...except that when you do encounter a fully leveled Fury in the wild, you usually don't actually get hit by this, because the AI doesn't know that it needs to save up 5 of each other color, so what typically happens instead is that the AI gets a couple of protect tiles, one of the damage skills, and one of the other two. And that's if he gets it off at all -- 12 AP in yellow is a lot.

    Now, you might argue, hey, that's defense; on offense you can guarantee having 5 of every color. Totally true, and I'll be the first to admit that a fully covered Avengers Assemble is a blast to get off. But it takes a ton of babysitting -- I can't tell you how many times I've delayed firing off AA because I didn't have enough red or green, and the board didn't have any ready matches of those, so it took at least another 3-4 turns. And the 12 AP cost is still the same on offense, so you're really looking at a skill whose speed is more like a 15-16AP skill, and it holds your other, cheaper skills hostage while you save up for it.

    Finally, there's the issue of health and opportunity cost. Fury's health is very solid, no question, but under 10k means he's still susceptible to Sentry-bombing, and to get to max health you're looking at 430k ISO. Is that investment going to win you games? Maybe. Is it going to win you more games than two and a half more 3* characters? Depends on what the rest of your roster looks like -- if you've got the top 5-6 3*s maxed and are starting to consider leveling others just for their featured events, he's a fine place to sink your ISO, but otherwise I'd recommend against it.

    Yellow: good
    Blue: excellent
    Purple: good

    Speed: low
    Sustainability: medium
    Power: high

    Recommended build: You can find a detailed analysis here, but I actually don't agree with the conclusion that yellow is that much better on offense, because it rests on the assumption that you can fire a fully-loaded yellow on offense whenever you want, when that tends not to be the case, and because there's way better competition for yellow than for purple.

    One might argue that you can change your team composition to make full-powered yellow more likely, but I'd counter by saying that it's hard to do this unless your team's other powers are also expensive, and if your team's other powers are also expensive, your team is going to be super slow, which is bad in general.

    Don't get me wrong, 5 yellow, properly fueled, is potentially game changing in the amount of damage it does, but as we discussed above, it's deceptively slow. On the other hand, getting purple to 5 doesn't matter much either, due to the issues with being unable to protect either the tile or the subsequent strike tile, so the marginal benefit you're getting is quite small.

    Bottom line: 5 blue for sure, then whatever, I don't think it matters that much. If you're the kind of person that likes to take your cue from high-level players, it might interest you to know that almost all of SHIELD built their Furies 3/5/5, while most of the X-Men built theirs 5/5/3.
  • mischiefmakermischiefmaker Age Unconfirmed Posts: 932
    edited October 2014
    3. Sentry, +8

    Theme song: You're the Best (Joe Esposito)
    Try your best to win them all
    and one day time will tell
    when you’re the one that’s standing there
    you’ll reach the final bell
    You’re the best!


    Wait WHAT? I'm sure many regular forumgoers will be shocked to find that Sentry not only didn't take the top spot, but wasn't even #2! To that I can only say, hey, sometimes you can rely on the wisdom of crowds, and sometimes the crowd just ain't that wise.

    Just look at the last few sets of rankings -- the #1 character wasn't always necessarily the best overall character, but was someone that enabled a particular kind of gameplay that was literally impossible without that character: Ragarok's 2 AP win-on-the-first-turn, Spider-Man's 2AP win-against-any-enemy, Magneto's never-take-damage...and so it is with Sentry, who is the only character in the game that enables fights to be won in under 30 seconds with almost no risk.

    For the uninitiated, what is this magical strategy? We've referred to it several times throughout the rankings as Sentry-bombing: load up with green and yellow boosts (and optionally rainbow boosts, for added security), match green, match yellow, cast world rupture, cast sacrifice, win the game. It's that simple, and that fast, and it essentially defines the metagame.

    In some sense, Sentry-bombing actually makes character rankings irrelevant. Is XForce a monster? Is Thor a powerhouse? It doesn't matter -- Sentry is so much faster that anyone else might as well not exist at the high end, except as a partner for Sentry (you'll notice references to Sentry in the entries for Black Panther, Daken, and Hood, who are just about the only characters you'll see paired with Sentry in high-end PvP).

    What else is there to say? He has premium health (fourth-best in the game after Hulk, Devil Dino, and Xforce, World Rupture deals pretty great damage for 7AP even without strike tiles (almost 2.8k), Supernova is a really powerful AoE nuke for only 11AP (10.5k total), and Sacrifice is one of the meatiest strike tiles in the game. Get rid of Sentry-bombing and he's still an absolute beast of a character; with it, he makes an absolute mockery of PvP. Even the developers have acknowledged this, with official word that he's being re-examined right now. Enjoy him while you can, and let's hope he turns out more like C.Mags than like Ragnarok.

    Oh, by the way, remember that time he was ranked #11? Well, at least the crowd's getting a little bit wiser.

    Red: good
    Green: excellent
    Yellow: excellent

    Speed: high
    Sustainability: low (medium if paired with BP/Daken and not using Sacrifice)
    Power: high

    Recommended build: 3/5/5 is about the only thing you'll see. 5/5/3 isn't bad if you care about defense, but 3/5/5 is way more versatile for tournaments like Balance of Power, and the additional damage makes it a lot easier to deal with events where the featured character also happens to be high-health to begin with.

    2. ***Thor, even

    Theme song: All About That Bass (Meghan Trainor)
    My mama she told me don't worry about your size
    She says, "Boys like a little more booty to hold at night."


    Are the Fat Thor jokes still funny? I think so. But at #2, the power of 3* Thor is no laughing matter -- he has one of the largest health pools in the game, tied with Sentry and Colossus, and the one drawback of his abilities, the high cost, is strongly mitigated by the fact that they accelerate each other.

    Red is easily his weakest power -- it does only 1370 damage at level 3, which is paltry compared to the competition (She-Hulk does more than that as AoE, plus board shakeup; Human Torch does nearly 3 times as much), and placing 3 yellow tiles generates a negligible 0.5 yellow AP on average from cascades.

    But Thor more than makes up for that with Thunder Strike, which is a contender for best yellow in the game, doing significant damage, generating a whopping 5.2 average green AP, and leading to the big enchilada, Call the Storm, which drops another 4k damage on the primary target and 2k on everyone else on the team.

    There's not much else to it; even with Sentry available, Thor's still one of the best 3*s you can get your hands on for general play. He's not just a beast on offense, but on defense his powers have so little situational variance that a bunch of monkeys smashing the mouse would probably be able to beat most teams using him.

    Red: fair
    Yellow: excellent
    Green: excellent

    Speed: medium
    Sustainability: high
    Power: high

    Recommended build: You'd be hard pressed to find anyone playing Thor regularly who isn't 3/5/5 or planning on respec'ing to it -- yellow into green is just such a monster combo that red is relegated to nice-to-have status most games.

    1. Wolverine (X-Force), +30

    Theme song: Sk8er Boi (Avril Lavigne)
    She said, "See ya later, boy."
    He wasn't good enough for her.
    Now he's a superstar


    Yeah, that's not a typo, that's plus THIRTY, as in three-zero, as in he was ranked in the bottom eleven last time, as in he used to be so unplayably bad that several players just threw his covers away to save roster space.

    Now? It's kind of like those episodes of Pimp My Ride when they take someone's old junker, only instead of adding a paint job and a DVD player, they just give him back a Ferrari instead.

    His new green is probably the second-best in the game (and you could make a serious argument for best), rocking 4k damage and generating nearly 4 AP in cascades, plus destroys enemy special tiles. And it does all that at 8 AP. Denying the AI from 12 or even 10 AP is possible, if you're fast enough and the board cooperates. Denying the AI 8 is really hard, even with Hood or OBW, and it's no accident that both of those characters have most or all of their health consumed by the damage X-Force can do.

    And X-Force isn't even necessarily his best power -- Surgical Strike is more expensive, but it destroys all tiles of a color (almost always one that the opponent has an ability in), gives you all the AP for it (at least 5-6, but I've seen as many as 16), and takes all of that AP away from the opponent. Oh, and did we mention that it does insane damage (I've seen over 8k), and generates massive cascades, and causes Hood's AP steal to go into overdrive for the same reason as Magneto's red, and synergizes with any other board-shake powers, including his own green, and saves you 15% or more on your car insurance?

    It's almost enough to make you forget about his yellow, which is merely one of the few true healing skills in the game. Yes, it's got a long countdown attached to it, but it's also tied to yellow, so you can prep the board before you cast it, and worst case you can always go to the prologue against goons, where you're sure to get it off. Indeed, the main reason I fail to use Recovery is usually because I've killed the enemy team too fast.

    Playing against X-Force, you really need to deny green and black, especially if the strongest power on your own team is also green, because getting off a Surgical Strike that collects green is pretty much game over. For that reason, X-Force absolutely owns Hulk, because you can wipe off all the green on the board with Surgical Strike and then hit Hulk with an X-Force. Sure, you'll trigger Anger, but Anger doesn't matter if he's dead or if there isn't any green on the board anyway.

    Also of note is playing against Recovery -- you usually want to match the tile if you can; the damage you'll take is marginal compared to giving him another 4k life and potentially taking an X-Force or Surgical Strike in the face, and you get any AP generated as a result of a cascade from the destroyed tile.

    All in all, X-Force is an absolute monster. Two of the best abilities in the game, a ton of health, true healing, and significant board shake -- this guy is the best climbing character in the game, bar none, and it's not out of the question to reach 1300 with him. True, he's not as fast as Sentry, but he's a ton more sustainable and more versatile, and the synergy you get pairing him with other board-shake characters (even someone as lowly as Loki) is an absolute pleasure to play.

    Green: excellent
    Black: excellent
    Yellow: good

    Speed: medium (high if paired with other board-shake characters)
    Sustainability: high
    Power: high

    Recommended build: 5/5/3. It'd be nice to get a fourth yellow to make healing a little easier, but the upgrade from 4 to 5 in either green or black are game-changing, while the upgrades in yellow aren't nearly so.

    ******

    That wraps up this edition of the rankings! Thanks for your patience in waiting for these to come out; we hope you've found them worth the wait. It's clear that doing a full one of these every three months isn't practical any more -- if you find these useful and want to see more of them in the future, be sure to head on over to the other topic and weigh in on the future of character rankings!
  • edited October 2014
    SPOILER ALERT: MischiefMaker didn't give me the full ranking list while I was working on this (probably because I'm a huge blabbermouth), but from what he did give me, I can safely assert that XForce is...
    ...apparently somewhere in the top 20.


    (I just love ruining things. icon_e_biggrin.gif )

    (Also, Snape kills Trinity with Rosebud.)

    Can't wait to see how this turns out. icon_e_biggrin.gif
  • I'm so excited!! icon_e_biggrin.gif
  • SPOILER ALERT: MischiefMaker didn't give me the full ranking list while I was working on this (probably because I'm a huge blabbermouth), but from what he did give me, I can safely assert that XForce is...
    ...apparently somewhere in the top 20.


    (I just love ruining things. icon_e_biggrin.gif )

    (Also, Snape kills Trinity with Rosebud.)

    Can't wait to see how this turns out. icon_e_biggrin.gif

    This is what you could have done
  • First batch honestly isn't unexpected. Poor Yelena and Bag-Man could really need a major rehaul.
  • I use all these people in the first batch plenty in PVP.

    Admittedly, it's just for tanking, but still, they're the core of my tanking team, along with the other 1*s. Even Bagman, since he regenerates faster than the other 2*s.
  • over_clockedover_clocked Posts: 3,961
    Ben Grimm wrote:
    I use all these people in the first batch plenty in PVP.

    Admittedly, it's just for tanking, but still, they're the core of my tanking team, along with the other 1*s. Even Bagman, since he regenerates faster than the other 2*s.
    Same as Spidey? Nice, wasn't sure about that. Of course my Bag-Man is a perpetual lvl 15 and might even get booted for a new character since I have Juggs, oBW and mBW for tanking.
  • locked wrote:
    Ben Grimm wrote:
    I use all these people in the first batch plenty in PVP.

    Admittedly, it's just for tanking, but still, they're the core of my tanking team, along with the other 1*s. Even Bagman, since he regenerates faster than the other 2*s.
    Same as Spidey? Nice, wasn't sure about that. Of course my Bag-Man is a perpetual lvl 15 and might even get booted for a new character since I have Juggs, oBW and mBW for tanking.

    Yup. He's still Spider-Man, still get accelerated healing.
  • Nonce Equitaur 2Nonce Equitaur 2 Age Unconfirmed Posts: 2,269 Chairperson of the Boards
    Ranking the 6 characters that have been added since the Survey. There are 54 characters now.

    1. Lady Thor. More health than 3 3* characters put together. With boosts, has a trivial win by turn 4.
    2. Devil Dinosaur. Highest Health, not bad damage.
    3. Blade. Lots of Strike Tiles.
    4. Colossus. Okay AOE Attack, half-decent defense.
    5. Ms. Marvel. 2* character through and through
    6. Doctor Octopus. Only his Passive is interesting. Overpriced powers.
  • I think I have an inkling what row on that heatmap spiderman is...
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