Balancing 3rd Abilities

In the past, I've played games with 'cookie cutter' specs, and I understand how difficult it is for developers to balance abilities to perfection. That said, there seems to be an overwhelming number of abilities that just aren't worth sinking 5 covers into, and therefore the 'cookie cutter' conundrum affects MPQ in a big way. For example, threads like this exist, and exemplify the disparity.

These abilities can range from outright unusable to "good, but not worth the tradeoff." The best part about balancing almost completely unused abilities is that it won't make the character (compared to its current form) more powerful, it will just allow for more variety in the form of tradeoffs. Further balance to correct this would be welcomed, as more variety is a good thing, right?

I'd like to start by compiling a list of the most egregious abilities that, unless forced into it, players will almost never cover-max. From there, if people think it's worthwhile, I'll compile these suggestions into a Suggestions & Feedback thread. Mods: I was torn about creating this here as opposed to General, as I think it will get a lot less visibility, so please move it if it's acceptable to exist in General.

Here's what I came up with so far, albeit with blindspots (I have never used a 4* outside of being given them in a match) I'm hoping others will fill in:

OBW purpletile.png - fewer covers seem more beneficial due to ability cost
Loki purpletile.png - 5 covers provides no additional shuffling benefit over 3
Iron Man 40 yellowtile.png - additional covers beyond 2 make the ability too costly, negative side-effect
Colossus blacktile.png - ability not viable due to complications and limitations
Hulk redtile.png - drawbacks pitted against two other good abilities
Psylocke bluetile.png - random and countdown-based ability that does nothing when matched
Punisher blacktile.png - damage output too low, CD tile too fragile
Spiderman (3*) yellowtile.png - too expensive and requires other special tiles to be useful
Beast yellowtile.png - undesirable burst heal
Black Panther bluetile.png - expensive and randomly placed CD tile that produces an underwhelming result
GSBW redtile.png - expensive and not balanced against other 2 abilities
Steve Rogers yellowtile.png - expensive and not balanced against other 2 abilities, blue has overlap

If you wish to argue with these abilities, or any added by others in the future, please be mindful of the polls and statistics that already exist. It is factual that there are "preferred" builds that just don't see any widespread deviation past a certain point. I don't want to discourage counter points, but please be realistic when making them.

Comments

  • PuceMoose
    PuceMoose Posts: 1,445 Chairperson of the Boards
    I think Beast yellowtile.png earns a spot as well - with the shift from True Healing to Burst Healing for most characters, any burst-healing that's not a passive is generally disliked. Beast tries to make up for it with some protect tiles, but I find it had to believe anybody would advocate a five-yellow Beast as part of an optimal build.
  • elwhiteninja
    elwhiteninja Posts: 209 Tile Toppler
    I think it might be better to look at which ones actually have interesting builds beyond the recommended.

    icon_blade.png 5/5/3 is interesting sometimes and amazing against creeps.
    icon_rocket.png 5/3/5 great for tanking
    icon_kamalakhan.png 5/5/3 is good for heals and if you have a strong green user.
    icon_wolverine.png patch can be both 5/3/5 and 3/5/5
    icon_cyclops.png 3/5/5 is good for a different red user although after the first use of yellow its pretty much only going to do a few unless there is massive shake or destruction.

    that is pretty much it. I am not too sure about 4 stars as I only have a few that are at useable levels.

    So in 40 characters 5 have different builds that are viable.
  • icon_blackpanther.png Black Panther bluetile.png - This ability drops a 2-turn countdown tile before activating the creation of a single protect tile. The issue with this is that it is an 8AP skill, meaning that percentage-wise, it will take 3 turns to collect AP and a 4th to fire off. The protect tile that drops is nothing special and it is two more turns before a second one comes around. Getting any kind of reasonable amount of the protection on the board is not realistic as the tiles are all likely to get matched away pretty quickly. Even if it was, you are limited to only four on the board at once (a situation that I have yet to see in the many matches that I have used BP in). That's a lot of collecting and waiting around for minimal payoff.

    As with many other skills in the game, if you could PLACE the tile yourself, this would be a much more valuable skill.

    To be fair, his yellowtile.png is a fine skill that has the potential to drop some quality strike tiles and his blacktile.png is one of the best AOE skills in the game, so he's a great character as is. But he has only one reasonable build.
  • atomzed
    atomzed Posts: 1,753 Chairperson of the Boards
    I think it might be better to look at which ones actually have interesting builds beyond the recommended.

    icon_rocket.png 5/3/5 great for tanking

    icon_wolverine.png patch can be both 5/3/5 and 3/5/5
    ew that are at useable levels.

    I actually have my groot& rocket as 535 and my patch ad 535.

    Both are great for tanking. I don't really like groot green cos it often punch out my blue strike tiles. And I find that the yellow is amazing esp for over scaled nodes. As for patch, the red has too strict a criteria to be useful. He needs to tank a lot of colors, and its getting harder with the current 4* meta.
  • morph3us
    morph3us Posts: 859 Critical Contributor
    GSBW redtile.png Pistol is overcosted, there's no reason why you wouldn't choose a 5/3/5 build for her, particularly given that she self accelerates into green.
    Steve Rogers (Super Soldier) yellowtile.png Extremely expensive, blue generates strong enough shields already, so 3/5/5 is a lock.

    I think the 4*s are by and large better balanced. Most of them have a preferred build, based on the predominance of PvP play for high end players, but there's usually an alternate build that's potentially better for PvE.
  • xellessanova
    xellessanova Posts: 183 Tile Toppler
    Due to Offense trumping Defense, almost all yellow defensive active powers are set to "do not max".

    Notable offenders are icon_squirrelgirl.pngyellowtile.png, icon_vision.pngyellowtile.png, icon_spiderman.pngyellowtile.png, icon_invisiblewoman.pngyellowtile.png, icon_magneto.pngyellowtile.png, icon_beast.pngyellowtile.png, icon_captainamerica.pngyellowtile.png.

    Even icon_thing.pngyellowtile.png and icon_captainamerica.pngicon_falcon.pngyellowtile.png which are incredibly powerful, will probably trigger only once per match, and don't increase enough between 3 and 5 covers to matter compared to maxing their offensive abilities.
  • morph3us
    morph3us Posts: 859 Critical Contributor
    Due to Offense trumping Defense, almost all yellow defensive active powers are set to "do not max".

    Notable offenders are icon_squirrelgirl.pngyellowtile.png, icon_vision.pngyellowtile.png, icon_spiderman.pngyellowtile.png, icon_invisiblewoman.pngyellowtile.png, icon_magneto.pngyellowtile.png, icon_beast.pngyellowtile.png, icon_captainamerica.pngyellowtile.png.

    Even icon_thing.pngyellowtile.png and icon_captainamerica.pngicon_falcon.pngyellowtile.png which are incredibly powerful, will probably trigger only once per match, and don't increase enough between 3 and 5 covers to matter compared to maxing their offensive abilities.

    I agree with you, for the most part. I'd comment that Thing yellowtile.png and Falcap yellowtile.png are part of those viable alternative 4* builds I was talking about. You could make a case for both of those abilities at 5 covers in PvE against level 395 opponents, and also against leveled 5* characters, to mitigate overwhelming match damage. They're both narrow use cases though, which is why you generally don't see them specced as such.
  • Dayv
    Dayv Posts: 4,449 Chairperson of the Boards
    I think it might be better to look at which ones actually have interesting builds beyond the recommended.

    icon_blade.png 5/5/3 is interesting sometimes and amazing against creeps.
    icon_rocket.png 5/3/5 great for tanking
    icon_kamalakhan.png 5/5/3 is good for heals and if you have a strong green user.
    icon_wolverine.png patch can be both 5/3/5 and 3/5/5
    icon_cyclops.png 3/5/5 is good for a different red user although after the first use of yellow its pretty much only going to do a few unless there is massive shake or destruction.

    that is pretty much it. I am not too sure about 4 stars as I only have a few that are at useable levels.

    So in 40 characters 5 have different builds that are viable.
    I have my 4* Thor at 5/5/3 on purpose. There are more "alternative" builds than these five.
  • elwhiteninja
    elwhiteninja Posts: 209 Tile Toppler
    DayvBang wrote:
    I am not too sure about 4 stars as I only have a few that are at useable levels.
    I have my 4* Thor at 5/5/3 on purpose. There are more "alternative" builds than these five.

    As I said I am not sure about 4* but 3* are not very dynamic
  • Pwuz_
    Pwuz_ Posts: 1,213 Chairperson of the Boards
    This is a common complaint about the game that goes back since it launched, and it's only gotten worse since true healing took effect.

    I think it's pretty obvious based on the comments so far that it's easy to identify which powers are unbalanced, but the better question would be "how to fix these powers to make any build viable without making the character too OP?"

    What's more is that a lot of these powers are healing or defensive abilities, and I'm not confident that any increases to their power or decreases to cost will make any difference in player preferred builds.

    I think one of the best examples of a healing ability that has value is X-Force Wolverine. Yes it can heal, but the reason people choose to put 5 covers behind it is because of it's alternative damage dealing power.

    Suggestion: Give all defensive/healing powers some alternative utility as well. Make some of them deal damage as well, others could have some type of AP manipulation/steal/drain/etc., others could have board manipulation. I think that by giving these powers some other function, that they could make for a more difficult decision as to a preferred build.

    Example: icon_captainamerica.png Sentinel of Liberty; existing ability plus changes random Green/Black/Purple tiles to Red/Blue. Think icon_mystique.png Infiltration. Higher covers would convert even more tiles, fueling his other abilities (or another Red/Blue user).

    Edit: On 2nd thought, this would conflict with his countdown tiles risking destroying them. Sure a player could play around that only using SoL between the returns, but the AI has proven itself to be useless in that respect. Let's just give Steve some straight up damage along with those fat defensive tiles, perhaps AoE? Nothing crazy mind you, but something on par with icon_scarletwitch.png

    How about IM-40? Along side his countdown tiles, he should change a few random off color tiles to red & blue. Or to help keep those tiles out there, change all remaining yellow tiles to red or blue? Just ideas, obviously play testing would be required.
  • Blahahah
    Blahahah Posts: 738 Critical Contributor
    At least all of those abilities function properly.

    icon_doctoroctopus.pnggreenflag.png will constantly do things in a pointlessly inefficent method. Stuns first, then damages (meaning your stun might be wasted) then removes 2 green from the enemy and awards you 2 green (even if they had 0 before the effect) then strengthing a tile.

    Its gross.
  • Pwuz_
    Pwuz_ Posts: 1,213 Chairperson of the Boards
    Blahahah wrote:
    At least all of those abilities function properly.

    icon_doctoroctopus.pnggreenflag.png will constantly do things in a pointlessly inefficent method. Stuns first, then damages (meaning your stun might be wasted) then removes 2 green from the enemy and awards you 2 green (even if they had 0 before the effect) then strengthing a tile.

    Its gross.

    It's not the only ability with that order of operations problem. icon_scarletwitch.png Reality Crush has the same problem, though that is also my argument for going 3/5/5 for her.

    I suppose those two could be partially addressed by setting a fixed order of operations for powers with multiple abilities. Obviously creation of Strike Tiles should always go 1st, then AoE damage, single Target damage, tile destruction, creating Attack tiles, creation of Defensive tiles, AP manipulation, and finally Stuns.

    Most of those things don't actually change based on order of operations though, which may be part of why it's the way it is. Strike tiles of course increase damage of all following damage, though any tile creation is at risk if done before tile destruction/cascades.
  • morph3us
    morph3us Posts: 859 Critical Contributor
    Pwuz_ wrote:
    I suppose those two could be partially addressed by setting a fixed order of operations for powers with multiple abilities. Obviously creation of Strike Tiles should always go 1st, then AoE damage, single Target damage, tile destruction, creating Attack tiles, creation of Defensive tiles, AP manipulation, and finally Stuns.

    The problem with applying the stun last is that any abilities that proc off damage, like Rock Solid, X-Enforcer, Energy Absorption, and Anger, won't be nullified by the stun. So it's a question of whether you prefer the utility of the stun to prevent the ability effect, or the surety of it landing on a target who's not downed. It's really more a factor associated with a random stun, than the order of operations in this instance, though.