Polarity's Guide on Going From 1* to 3* (Updated: 1/22/15)

NorthernPolarityNorthernPolarity Posts: 3,531 Chairperson of the Boards
edited February 2017 in MPQ Tips and Guides
Due to boredom, I've decided to write a detailed guide on all of the different stages of this game and how to go from a newbie roster to a 3* roster while explaining the theory that goes behind the advice. I figured that I've been repeating myself a lot while answering questions on the forum so I might as well have a guide to refer people to so to save some time. I'll be updating this periodically when I have time so this is very much a work in progress: the end goal is to cover everything up to having a full roster of 3* heroes. I'm going to include character descriptions, ideal team compositions, and guidelines for what goals/strategies you should have at various stages of the game, so feel free to chime in with suggestions.

Useful Links:
Iso/Level Calculator (Iso it takes to level a character to level X)
Level Cap Calculator (Max level of a character given X covers)
Marvel Puzzle Quest Wiki (Reference for character powers/stats)
Roster Tracking Spreadsheet


Stage 1: The Newbie (Developing 1* Roster)

Overview:
Get to the last 2 stages of prologue while spending as little iso on your 1*s as possible. I think my main team was all around level 30 and I had completed most of the prologue before I made the next stage, so that is probably a good benchmark to go for. This has recently become a lot harder since the amount of 2* covers given out as PvP rewards has been drastically reduced, so level your 1*s up to max level if it looks like it'll take a very long time to get enough 2* covers. Focus on leveling up your core team such that it is strong enough to complete most levels in the prologue. Also poke around in the current PvP/PvE tournaments that are going on: while you won't get terribly far, they do offer a ton of standard tokens and iso for you to get. If you can, aim for the 300 point progression reward as that will get you a guaranteed 2* cover. Opening any tournament at the very beginning will match you up against seed teams, which your team should be able to easily beat for points. I wouldn't recommend actually joining the tournament and playing your first match until later though, since your bracket will be much tougher as the only people who join right away are hardcore people.

Tips:
  • ONLY spend HP on roster slots. As you go further into the game, you’re going to be getting new heroes at a rate much faster than you can acquire HP, so do not spend any HP on anything except roster slots. Every character will be useful eventually due to particular PvE/PvP events requiring specific characters, so try to have as much on hand so that you can use them when the need arises.
  • Feel free to sell off any 1* covers that you haven't put much ISO into (level 10 and under) if you need the roster space. These covers will be plentiful later and tend not to be particularly useful in general. In order, sell Yelena, Venom, Juggernaut, and Hawkeye as needed.
  • When you're running low on health, use health packs, as they regenerate over time. If you're out of health packs, swapping in your B team (such as Juggernaut for IM35) will let you play longer if needed.
  • If you run out of roster space, consider saving up your standard/heroic tokens. If you open up a new character with a full roster, you won't have the space to use it, so you can stash them until you have space. If you're cover starved though (in that you have your characters at max level and need more covers), you should probably just bite the bullet and use up the tokens.
  • Don't complete the missions that give you 2* covers until you already have 3ish of those covers obtained elsewhere. 2* characters with a small amount of covers are just going to be wasted roster space as they'll be vastly inferior to your 1* covers, so you might as well wait until you can actually level up the 2* covers to a reasonable level before winning the guaranteed ones in the prologue to conserve some extra roster space.
  • Also don't repeat Prologue missions that have 1* covers you do not need (Venom, hawkeye, etc). Later in the game if you want those characters, those missions will be super easy and will be a reliable source for those covers. Same goes for boosts and health packs that you probably don't need at the time: you can save them for when you need them (like a PvP session), and beat the mission then.
  • If you run out of roster space, sell Yelena, then Venom, then Juggernaut, then Hawkeye. You'll be able to get a ton of standard tokens in the future to rebuild these characters if you want to, so don't worry about having to get back the covers. In general, once you stop using a 1* character, you'll probably stop using them forever. The only time where they are actually useful are during random PvP tournaments where only 1* characters are allowed, but this has only occurred twice in the history of the game, so don't expect them to be useful that frequently.
  • The Lightning Rounds are the best source of iso in the game: join at the very beginning (opening minutes) of each one, and you'll see weak seed teams that you can easily beat. You get a standard token and a good amount of iso for going up to 100 progression points which you can do off of seed teams, so do as many as you can to farm iso. Your team isn't strong enough to compete in them yet though, so I wouldn't go for much more than that.

Key Characters:

Juggernaut - A very strong tank and PvP character. Unstoppable crash and headbutt are extremely efficient at 5/5 as they only require 2 matches to activate. His main downsides are that he isn't as sustainable as other characters due to headbutt costing hp, and by the time you get enough of his covers, you probably already invested a lot into IM35, who fills the same role as him. However, his red / green only costing 6 AP means that he's a lot faster/scarier than IM35, which actually makes him significantly better at this stage in the game. If you are reading this guide and don't have your IM35 past say level 40, spending iso on leveling juggs will probably give you a much easier time as you transition into 2* land. Another small downside is that you can't use Juggs in prologue nodes involving Juggs, so keep your IM35 for those.

IM35 – Your first tank and main source of damage at the 1* stage. His red does solid damage for a 1*, his yellow provides nice utility and a secondary source of damage, and his blue will never be used due to how expensive it is, but packs a punch if you can get it off. A solid character for transitioning into bigger and better things.

Ideal Build: 5/5/3 – Again, you simply won’t have the AP to case blue a significant amount of the time for it to make a difference.

M. Storm – An amazing board clearing / AP generation character even during the later stages of the game. Her yellow generates TU AP/cascades, her green generates a ton of real AP/cascades, and black is a decent source of incidental damage early on.
Ideal Build – 5/5/3. While hailstorm is tempting for the damage, I think M. Storm's AP generation/board clear capabilities are more important, so you’ll want to max out yellow/green. 3/5/5 if you're running Juggs since you're never using M. Storm's green over Juggs green.

Modern Black Widow - A fine utility character for stealing AP and chain stunning enemies. Her stun helps greatly in making sure that you can prevent pesky countdown tiles from activating in the Prologue. Note that since none of her abilities deal damage, she doesn't scale well with leveling, so only level her up enough to survive pesky AoE attacks.

Ideal Build - 2/5 - It may seem wrong to purposefully not give a character covers, but Black Widow's purple ability is actually much faster at lower levels. The benefits of stealing black AP (fueling hailstorm which isn't terribly necessary), getting 4 AP per steal (enemy matches only generate 3 AP so 4 AP is harder to get), and purple AP isn't worth the extra AP that the ability costs at higher levels. Keeping it at two allows you to steal the more important colors (Yellow,Blue,Red,Green) for your team and keeps the ability at 12AP, which is 4 purple matches.

Classic Hawkeye - A utility character meant for board clearing/control, but is overshadowed by M. Storm in almost every way.

Ideal Build: 5/5

Character/Team Compositions

Juggs/M.Storm/M. Black Widow – Probably the best, most cost effective team for this period. Juggs covers red/green with strong, offensive abilities, M. BW gets blue/purple, and C. Storm has yellow/black. Juggs also costs less iso to level since his cap is 40, and M. BW being at 2/5 means a lower level cap as well.

IM35/M.Storm/M. Black Widow – The cookie cutter team comp for someone who is just starting out. Covers all colors while having strong abilities in all of them. IM35 is the main damage dealer/tank, M. Storm clears the board when needed, and M. Black Widow provides AP stealing / stun support. In this team composition, always keep Iron Man at least 1 level above Storm and at least 7 levels above Black Widow. This will allow him to have higher tile match damage than M. Storm and Widow in the colors they share, and thus allow him to be at the front and tank all of the damage, which means that you can conserve health packs by only healing him.

Stage 2: From Newbie To Mid-Game (1*->2* Transition)

Overview:
At this stage of the game, your 1* roster should be around level 30-50 and strong enough to complete almost all of the missions in the prologue. At this point, you're going to want to start figuring out what 2* characters you should focus on. Note that 3 Daken, Wolvie, Thor, and C. Storm are handed out at various points in the prologue, so the easiest way to make the transition is to focus on these characters. I would just play as many PvP/PvE events as I could (PvP events have a guaranteed 2* token at 300 and cover at 500), slowly accumulate covers over time, and going where those covers lead you. The most important thing to remember for this phase is that your goal is to level up a couple of key 2* characters ASAP, and the best way to do that is to just go with whatever characters you end up getting a ton of covers for. As long as the characters are mid-high tier, they're worth leveling so don't worry if the composition isn't ideal, as it's still good enough for you to work with. You should even consider leveling low tier characters if they're featured in a week-long PvE event, as they'll definitely help you do well in the event. Ideally, you would want to level your 2* characters just enough such that you can place well in PvP tournaments, so I would recommend leveling a core team of 3 2* characters to max level initially. Note that most PvP tournaments require you to use a specific character, so you will only use 2 of your 2* characters a lot of the time. This means that if you had a choice between leveling 2 and 3 2* characters at the same time, I would focus on maxing out the 2 core characters you use before working on the third one. Once you've done that, take a look at how close you are to getting a max level 3* character. Chances are that you aren't really, since the transition process takes forever, in which case you should start maxing out more 2*s to give you more options for tournaments. For example, MN Mags + C. Storm are the best offensive combo in 2* land and will wreck PvE for you, but are comparatively terrible in PvP on defensive compared to say Ares / OBW. If you don't find yourself close at all to 3* territory, I would consider any high/mid tier character worth maxing (with the exception of 2* Wolvie), especially if they are featured in an event.

Tips:
  • Participate in as much PvP as you can! The random drops are going to be your main source of 2* covers, so you want to farm those as much as possible through either the 3 day PvP tournaments or the shield simulator. The 300 recruit token is also good to aim for during the 3 day events. Try playing mostly on the last day, since people will have accumulated more points by then, resulting in more points for you to potentially get.
  • Consider spending buying some HP to use on roster slots. You won't have nearly enough HP to keep up with the rate of which you're getting new characters, so if you don't buy some slots, you're going to have to throw out some key characters at some point.
  • If you need roster space, sell your unused 1* characters. If you've already done that, then you can start selling the lower tiered 2* characters as well. Remember that these lower tiered characters are randomly buffed during PvE events, and might be your most important character for that event, so the best time to sell characters are at the start of a new PvE event so that you don't sell a buffed character.
  • Don't complete the missions that give you 2* covers until you already have obtained one of those covers elsewhere. 2* characters with a small amount of covers are just going to be wasted roster space as they'll be vastly inferior to your 1* covers, so you might as well wait until you can actually level up the 2* covers to a reasonable level before winning the guaranteed ones in the prologue to conserve some extra roster space. (This was copied from stage 1 but is important enough to be repeated).
  • The Lightning Rounds are the best source of iso in the game: join at the very beginning (opening minutes) of each one, and you'll see weak seed teams that you can easily beat. You get a standard token and a good amount of iso for going up to 100 progression points which you can do off of seed teams, so do as many as you can to farm iso. Your team still isn't strong enough to compete in them yet though, so I wouldn't go for much more than that.

High Tier Characters:

Thor – Tanky and primarily used as a green AP battery. His yellow is his main draw due to how little effective 2* characters that have an active yellow ability. His red is mediocre due to the low damage but is serviceable if you don't have an alternative red, his yellow will generate a ton of green and cascades, and is his most powerful ability, and his green is a good source of damage if you don't have a better use of the AP. In general, Thor pairs best with characters that have more powerful greens (Wolvie/C. Storm, etc).

Ideal Build: 3/5/5. Yellow is essential, and green simply scales better than red in terms of damage.

OBW - The best 2* support character in the game right now by virtue of having the exact opposite colors of Thorverine and each ability being incredibly relevant. Purple denies your opponent of AP, blue heals you and allows extended play sessions, and black turns her into a damage machine when paired with strike tiles (strike tiles treat the espionage damage as a separate attack, so you basically get double the strike tile damage off of her matches).

Ideal Build: 3/5/5. Keeping purple at level 3 keeps the AP cost incredibly low for you to spam (8AP = 2 purple matches if you let the opponent match a purple), so the other abilities are level 5 by default.

Ares - The best tanky dps character available for 2* rosters. Like Thor, his tankiness + active yellow are his main strengths. His red is a bit mediocre unless he is low life, but he has an active yellow that does a ton of damage (at a small cost of his health if the countdown tile activates) and his green is an extremely efficient finisher whose drawback can be negated by simply killing the green user(s) on the opponents team with it so that they can't use the green AP they get.

Ideal Build: 4/4/5: 5 yellow makes his countdown much more likely to go off, and 4 green/red already maximize damage.

Human Torch - Same as his big bro, Lil' Torch is a glass character that dishes out a ton of damage. Despite him being a RG character, he actually fills out a pretty important role in the 2* lineup as your primary red/black user. Since no other 2* character has a good black and Thor/Ares have a poor red, Torch is the perfect compliment to your standard 2* lineup of OBW/Ares+Thor.

Ideal Build: 5/5/3 - While theres more of a debate in 3* land, Lil Torch's build is a no brainer. Torch's black/red are the best abilities of those colors in 2* land, and you can easily find a guy with a decent green in Thor/Ares/Wolvie. This might change once 2* Daken gets his 3rd cover for the specific team comp of Daken/OBW/Torch (in which case 5/3/5 is better), but I would say that 5/5/3 is always going to be the most flexible build for Lil Torch just because of how black is non-existent.

Daken - Sustained damage dealer / regen tank (sort of). Now that 2* Daken has his blue covers, he is now viable as a great 2* PvE/PvP option for regen tanking and getting immediate/incremental value off of any green match. However, his tile match strengths moving from green to purple hurts him, as it means that he can't really tank green for your other guys. Surprisingly enough, his blue does a considerable amount of damage at level 5: up to 2k if you have 4 tiles out. Daken is pretty interesting in that there are now multiple ways to play him: you can do the more conservative route of not really focusing on blue and just incidentally pick up the AP and using it at the end of the match to finish a guy off to maximize your strike tiles, or you can be more aggressive with it and cast it multiple times through the match for good damage. Note that Daken gets a lot better if he actually tanks RELEVANT colors for your team: Daken tanking purple is useless if you don't have anywhere to use that purple. Looking at the current 2* roster, the only good characters that Daken can tank for is black for Torch (tanking black for OBW is pointless since you're never matching black to begin with for Daken/OBW), so having Torch on your team greatly increases Daken's usefulness.

Ideal Build: This really depends on what teams you are going to be using Daken in. 5 blue seems like a must since going from 1k damage to 2k damage is a huge upgrade, so it's all a matter of how much you think Daken is tanking. 5/3/5 if you only care about Daken's strike tiles and don't see him tanking much. 3/5/5 if you want Daken to tank a good amount. Note that the only character that has active abilities in black/purple/blue that Daken CAN tank for is Torch black and Daken blue, so if you want to actively use Daken as a tanking machine, the best way to do it is to have Daken be the only blue user on his team, and spam his blue whenever you have enough strike tiles. This type of style doesn't even care about strike tiles that much anyways since it removes them whenever it can, so 3/5/5 is the best build in this case. Note that the difference between 3-4-5 purple is 34-40-46, which isn't all that much if you think about it. You can also go 4/4/5 if you want more of a balanced build, since purple or black don't really need to be at 5 in order to maximize their effectiveness.

Mid Tier Characters:

A. Wolvie – One of the main damage dealers at the 2* level. Green's strike tiles give you consistent damage throughout the entire match, and red is one of the most cost-effective damage spells out there. Yellow helps him tank a little if needed. Given that you probably have Thor or Ares on your team, wolvie is mostly there for his red and his green providing strike tiles for OBW to double dip with. He's a fine character to level up if he's the only character that you're getting colors for, but he'll become obsolete as you get the higher tier 2* characters.

Ideal Build: 5/5/3. Yellow is situational, and red/green covers give the abilities more damage, which is exactly what you want.

Ms. Marvel

I don't have too much experience with the character, so here is mm's description of her, which matches the general forum consensus:
Her red power is pretty bad, sure -- it doesn't do much damage even relative to other 2*s, and it doesn't even have the niche use that her 3* version has, where you might want to bring her against a team that specializes in generating protect tiles, like Falcon/Spider-Man, since she can only destroy 3 of them. But her black is solid for a 2*; it's reasonably priced, in a color that's rare for 2*s, and does pretty good damage off the bat plus the potential to deliver a second punch that adds up pretty nicely.

Finally, there's yellow, which doesn't look like much, but it's cheap and it's incredibly good at generating cascades. As we discussed last time in CMags' writeup, you usually want to avoid gathering teamup tiles, in favor of powering your character abilities, and the same is true for the AI. Therefore there will usually be a high number of team-up tiles on the board (or the AI has been taking them, which is good for you), making cascades from Marvel's yellow very likely. Her yellow also plays well with CMags -- use it to start cascades, and follow up with his red to do big damage and generate yet more cascades.

I see her as a reasonable option for black / yellow. This isn't a good place to be though, since Ares/Thor dominate the 2* meta with their yellow, so it's going to be tough to find room for her on an average team.

Ideal Build: 3/5/5, red is bad.

C. Storm - A very solid utility/aoe damage character and a decent upgrade to M. Storm. Extremely mediocre yellow ability that doesn't do enough damage, but makes up for it with her other 2 abilities. Her green is comparable to M. Storm (the "+1 for every 2 green AP her team has" counts the AP beforehand, so using the ability when you have 12 green AP = 6 base + (12/2) = 12 total tiles destroyed), and her blue does a ton of AoE damage while stunning the current target to boot. It's worth nothing that C. Storm + MN Mags is probably the best offensive combo in 2* land, and will do wonders for you in PvE so max them after the high tier PvP all-stars if you find yourself wanting something more for PvE.

Ideal Build: 5/5/3, because yellow is too situational to be good.

MN Mags - A very solid blue battery and AP generator. While his blue ability is fairly mediocre (long countdown tile and doesn't generate AP), his purple ability at level 5 can instantly generate 10 blue AP by forming a couple of match 3/4s on the board, and his red will generate ~18 random AP on average (viewtopic.php?f=14&t=501&start=60 at the middle of the page has the info on this). Mediocre unless you pair him up with a character with a strong blue ability, in which case he becomes amazing.

Ideal Build: 3/5/5 - Blue actually gets worse at higher levels due to an increased countdown, purple is a must at 5, and red generates significantly more AP at 5.

M. Hawkeye - New Hawkeye is largely a combo character for his purple. His blue is situational (as is most defensive abilities that don't deal damage in this game), his red is cost effective but not terribly exciting, but his purple is insane if you can reliably get crit tiles off (cough MN Mags cough). I don't really see him being an option without MN Mags since blue / red aren't terribly exciting by themselves, so his role in the 2* meta is limited to adding 4k damage to the MN Mags + C. Storm combo.

Ideal Build: 3/5/5: max the two abilities that will get used.

Low Tier Characters:

Captain America - A tanky tile clearer/support character that is only good during long/drawn out matches due to his skills being extremely inefficient until you get the AP back from the countdown tile. He is best used as a tank and countdown tile clearer during PvE events where he is buffed (which happens quite often), but is pretty mediocre otherwise. Only use him if you are extremely desperate and have a ton more covers for him compared to anyone else, or if he's greatly buffed in the current PvE event and would give your team a considerable boost.

Ideal Build: 3/5/5 is the best build if you want his main function to be clearing enemy countdown tiles. 5/5/3 is an alternative build that makes his yellow actually useful defensively, but since his yellow costs so much AP, you probably won't use it that much anyways.

Moonstone - Jack of all trades, master of none. She has a decent amount of HP for a 2* so she can be considered almost a tank. Her red deals a decent amount of damage when she's the only red user, and her purple is one of the few purple skills that can deal damage (or match a pesky special tile if needed). Her black is too expensive and situational to be used in 90% most of the time: the only real application of it is when she's buffed and against a maggia thug that spawns strike tiles. This leaves us with a character that has only 2 useful skills, 1 of which is red and thus will be competing with A. Wolvie / Thor and the like. Therefore, she only has one actively good skill (purple), and that usually isn't enough to warrant a spot on the team. Avoid unless she is buffed (which is she is occasionally for women-only and DA-only tournaments.

Ideal Build: 5/5/3 - Black is really really bad. 3/5/5 is arguable if you want her purple to be dealing damage most of the time.

Bottom Tier Characters:

Bullseye - His purple is his main skill, but the protect tiles cap out at 37 for max level, which is pretty mediocre considering how abilities are going to be the main damage dealers against your team. Couple that with a single active skill that costs 16AP and low hit points, and you have a pretty meh character.

Bagman - His skills all deal with affecting countdown/special tiles, so he has literally 0 offensive capability and very mediocre defensive ones that are only really effective vs PvE goon fights. Avoid like the plague.


Team Compositions:

Given our basic team of 1* characters of IM35/M. Storm/MBW, you should be looking at replacing these characters with 2* characters that can fill similar roles/colors, and use that as your team while you build up a 2* roster. Note that while it's nice to have 1 tank, 1 board clearer, and 1 ap stealer/stunner, it isn't 100% necessary, and its more important to have a team that can cover most of the colors with a relevant active ability. While IM35 has obvious replacements in Thor/Ares/Cap (if you're desperate), there isn't really that direct replacement for the other two characters. One thing to note is that M. Storm should probably be replaced last as her red/green is still amazing even with an early 2* roster.

[Notable 1*-> 2* compositions]

M. Storm + [Wolverine or Daken] + [Generic Tank such as IM35, Thor, etc] - based off of the idea that strike tiles + hailstorm = a ton of damage. M. Storm/Daken is especially dirty in the desert stage, where M. Storm can mistress and generate green tiles to fuel daken. Thor is also really good here as he can feed green to M. Storm/Daken.

[Full 2* compositions] - Ranked in order of what a 2* player should probably prioritize in terms of team composition (don't take this too literally since OBW is obviously a top tier character despite not being in what I consider the most important team right now).

[Thor or Ares] + Daken + Torch - Probably the best sustained 2* offensive build right now. The color synergies in this team work beautifully: Daken tanks black for Torch and has blue all to himself, and Ares/Thor tank green for Torch (be sure to place Torch on the rightmost slot so that Thor can tank green for him). Note that Thor also tanks red for Torch while Ares doesn't, so Thor is probably preferred here. This means that all 5 abilities are either tanked by Daken or Thor/Ares, so this team is incredibly health pack efficient. 5 good abilities in 5 colors makes this one hell of an offensive team, even if you don't have OBW around.

Torch + OBW + [Thor or Ares] - The new cookie cutter 2* maximum offensive build that has active abilities in the entire color rainbow. Torch adds a strong red/black DPS ability to the team, Thor/Ares provide the yellow/green, and OBW provides the AP stealing / sort of heals. While you lose the strike tile synergy with Wolvie, this gives you access to black as a color that actually does things, while keeping a strong, faster red. Thor tanks both red/green for Torch (if you place him in the primary position) which is nice, so he gets a slight nod above Ares who only tanks green.

OBW + Thor + Ares - Best 2* defensive team for PvP. Thor/Ares are fat and redundant and will probably get off at least one ability through a match, and OBW always has the potential to end the game with a recon.

MN Mags + C. Storm + M. Hawkeye - MN Mags generates a ridiculous amount of blue AP. C. Storm has a ridiculously strong blue ability. They're a match made in heaven. C. Storm's green and MN Mag's red also generate a ton of AP, which makes this composition incredibly strong. Hawkeye adds 4k damage to MN Mags crits, so he fills out the third spot.

[Wolverine or Daken] + OBW + [Thor or Ares] - The old cookie cutter 2* build. Wolverine spams strike tiles and OBW exploits said strike tiles. Thor or Ares rounds out the team by tanking, providing an active yellow, and utility red/green abilities to use if they are better suited for the situation than Wolvie's abilities. Daken is a decent substitute for Wolvie if you have more covers for him.

Stage 3 - The 3* Transition (2* -> 3*)

Overview:
Congratulations! You have a maxed out team of 2* heroes and are now looking to transition into 3* characters. This is the longest transition in the game and may take months before you have even 1 maxed out 3* character. Times have changed since I wrote this guide, and now maxing out a newly introduced 3* quickly is just not doable anymore, as the rate of which they release covers for the new characters have dropped significantly. Whats more likely to happen during this transition is that you're going to collect covers for all of the 3*s at roughly the same rate, so you'll probably end up with a bunch of not fully covered up 3*s. In order to do this effectively now, I would keep the following main points in mind:
1. The ultimate goal of this transition is to build a core team of 2 maxed out, top tier 3*s that can carry you throughout PvP. PvP gives out the most awards, and so your goal should be to eventually reach top 25. That being said, do NOT focus all of your iso on immediately maxing out a 3*. This used to be a viable strategy in the past, but the enemies you face in PvE are based off the highest leveled characters on your team. This means that if you decided to max out your Captain America, then PvE levels will increase accordingly, potentially to levels that are extremely hard to impossible to deal with with just Captain America. There is a delicate balance between leveling guys for PvP and not leveling guys to keep your PvE scaling in check.
2. I would start by leveling useful 3*s (midtier+) to 94 (to keep PvE scaling in check), and then gradually level them up all at the same time. Eventually when you get a team of 2 high/top tier 3*s fully covered, you probably want to take the plunge and max them out so that you can start competing in PvP. I would consider consistently hitting top 25 in PvP the point where it's worth the worse PvE scaling, so if you feel like leveling your guys would get you there, go for it.
3. Don't level tinykitty characters unless absolutely necessary. You might be tempted to level a low tier character like She-Hulk if shes buffed in the current event, but you're never going to use her outside of featured events, so you might be kicking yourself when you all of the sudden have Sentry / LazyDaken covered up but insufficient iso to level them up.

FAQs:

When do I actually start pumping iso into my 3* characters?
By now your roster should have 3 level 94 2* characters, so the idea here is that you should only put iso into a 3* character if it can make a meaningful impact on your roster by being strong enough to replace/substitute one of your 2* characters. A good rule of thumb is that you shouldn't spend any iso on a 3* character unless they can be leveled up to ~100 so that they are similar to a maxed out 2* character, which is around ~9-10 covers. Also remember that a 3* that is level 100 but has very few of the cover that is his key ability (BP with 2 black) might just end up being worse than your 2*s. The exception to this rule is when they're majorly buffed in events, in which case its worth throwing a few levels into them if the increased levels would really help you out during the event.

Once I have a core team of 3 2* characters, are there any other 2* characters that are worth leveling up to max level?
Depends on your core 2* team. Once you transition into 3* territory, you are never going to use your 2*s again outside of them being required/buffed in events, so you're better off saving your iso (you need 170k to max out a 3*) for the 3*s because anything a 2* can do, a 3* can generally do better. However, since the 2->3* transition now takes so long, if your core team is not top tier (say something like C. Storm / MN Mags) and you're struggling to get 3* covers as a result of your mid-tier team not being strong enough, then I would definitely spend the iso to build a top tier 2* roster so that you have an easier time transitioning. One exception to this rule is OBW. Although she isn't the best in defense due to her really low hp, having one of the only good purple abilities in the game means that she'll last well into your 2->3* transition, so you should consider leveling her up if you have the covers for it. The general rule of thumb is that if your 2* team is good enough for you to consistently win 3* covers, you probably want to be saving your iso.

High Tier Characters

Characters that can almost singlehandedly carry a transitioner to victory, and that I wouldn't mind pumping iso into right away if I had any sort of 3* support for them at all.

Modern Thor - Affectionately known as lazythor, this is a very tanky character focused on getting enough green AP to wreck the enemy team with call the storm. The same analysis for MN Thor pretty much applies here word for word: average red ability, very strong yellow for ap generation (and it actually does decent damage now), and a green that does a ton of damage to all members of the opposing team. His abilities are also very AI friendly, which combined with his high HP makes him one of the best defensive guys in the game now. Definitely invest in him if you get the chance as he's very well rounded and will be a good addition to any team.

Ideal Build: 3/5/5. Red's still mediocre.

Black Panther - A very tanky support character with an amazing aoe ability. His black costs 12AP for 3.7k damage to all enemy characters at max level, and does very efficient damage. Yellow has been buffed to basically become Punisher's judgement color shifted in yellow as a baseline, and supercharged judgement if you can collect 12 TU AP. As promised the change in yellow promotes him to high tier due to having one devastating ability in RotP and one very good ability in battleplan, both of which are in colors that 3* characters are generally lacking in. He'll be a mainstay in your roster during the transition just because there are so few characters that can provide these colors.

Ideal Build: 5/3/5 The chances of the blue countdown tile surviving to put out more than 3 countdown tiles seems pretty unlikely, and the boost in yellow's damage is pretty significant, especially now that it's buffed. Black's a given.

Patch - One of the best character in the game in terms of damage potential and sustainability. Yellow is really the star of the show here: at level 5 you're guaranteed health regeneration every turn, so Patch can basically go on fighting endlessly without ever running out of health packs. Green is his main offensive ability: the strike tiles are symmetrical in that both you and your opponent get them, but this drawback can be mitigated by casting the ability when there is a purple match available and immediately matching away some of the tiles, or simply hoarding your AP until you are able to spam all of your abilities after rage to kill the entire enemy team. TBTI is rather unreliable: it's incredibly expensive, and Patch needs to tank at least 3 colors on your team for it to be good. This is a pretty big issue when you start to get a deeper roster, since if Patch isn't featured, then the boosted character will generally start to tank colors for Patch, rendering TBTI pretty bad. Luckily, green gives him a strong enough offensive punch to make him still one of the best characters in the game for transitioning. Hulk/Patch is also one of the strongest combos for fighting above your weight class, since level 5 anger + berzerker rage = massive AoE damage and cascades for you.

Ideal Build: 5 yellow is a must here, since you're bringing Patch for his sustainability. Between green and red, the best way to think about it is to completely ignore red and think of how you want to play Patch's green. 3 green means that you can use it immediately, match away maybe 1 or 2 of the strike tiles, and continue playing like normal. 5 green makes way too many strike tiles, so you need to play by hoarding all of your AP and casting everything at once. In general, most people prefer playing Patch the second way, so 5/3/5 is the generally accepted build, but 3/5/5 is reasonable if you want to play safer and/or combo with IM40's recharge.

Luke Cage - The first new character to break into high tier! Cage is a slow, defensive minded character that protects your entire team while eventually being able to deal large amounts of damage, sort of like Colossus except that he actually has considerable impact on the game. His main ability is actually his red passive, which unassumingly puts down a defense tile (maxed, this is 183 strength at level 3, 256 strength at level 5). Now, while defense tiles have traditionally been very weak because they cost AP to use, Cage's ability is the strongest defensive ability we've seen in this game because it is completely free, and blocks match damage. If the tile dies, you automatically get a new one, and this tile just comes out passively, completely for free. This means that starting turn 2, you're effectively preventing all match damage from your opponent for the entire match. Just using simple math, at level 5 this prevents 250 damage a turn. Games normally last 12+ turns, so this is saving at least 2.5k hp per game. The best part is, all members of your team get this benefit. This means that a squishy character like OBW that normally gets whittled down by match damage will be completely protected simply by Luke being on your team, making him an incredible tool for sustained pushing. Yellow is pretty expensive, but does a very reasonable 6k damage for 13AP when maxed out. Jab is deceptively expensive (you want to cast it at 12 black AP unless you're desperate since you're afraid of the tile being matched), but does a solid 1k -> 4K + stun per jab. I would say that its okay at 12AP, but you start to see considerable increases in value if you can jab twice after getting the cd tile out. All in all, this is just a very solid sustained pusher that will see play in PvP / mid-high level PvE (level 160-250) just from his red passive negating all match damage, and one other, relevant ability.

Ideal Build: Transitioners need to go 5/3/5. Black and yellow 3->5 are significant damage boosts, and its worth sacrificing red since transitioners really need their 3*s to deal lots of damage. The best pairing would definitely be OBW: Luke's red protects the team from match damage, letting OBW fuel luke's abilities with recon. For people with fuller rosters, I don't really think there is a truly optimal build, as it completely depends on how you're going to use him. His yellow works a lot better with the current 4* characters and in general as there are better black than yellow abilities right now, so I'm inclined to go 5/5/3 and make him a defensive tile guy with huge yellow hits fueled by LadyThor. If your roster is lacking a good black and has a good yellow (say, LazyThor), then 3/5/5 is clearly better. 3/5/5 might also be the better build in a vacuum since black synergizes better with strike tiles, and 12 vs 13 ap is a pretty big deal, but in the current state of the game, it seems like 5/5/3 works better on most team compositions than 3/5/5. Of course, 5/3/5 is definitely the most versatile build as it lets him contribute either power instead of just one of them, at the cost of making his defense tile weaker against anyone level 166+.

Doctor Doom - Tanky, slow damage dealer that relies on methodically setting up and clogging the board for special tiles. Doom was always on the borderline of being good, and now that they've added a third power, he has now been instantly propelled into top tier. Black does a respectable 1.2k damage at level 5, but requires the tiles to stay on the board for a good amount of time in order to maximize their efficiency. Purple is a bit confusing: you want to cast it when there are a lot of trap tiles out, but at the same time gathering the AP for it will destroy trap tiles as well. The best strategy for this ability is to probably prioritize purple early so you don't destroy traps, and then wait for a bit to spawn more trap tiles before using it. You can expect there to be at least 3 trap tiles out at any given time, so this is at least 3k damage, and can easily go to 8k+ if you plan your games around the ability. On average without trying to maximize the ability, I would say you can expect an average of 4 trap tiles, and 5k damage for 10 AP is already very respectable. Finally, blue is the best black generator in the game, and is pretty cheap to boot. This makes getting the AP for summon demons a lot faster, and gives Doom that extra utility needed to not be the slowest character imaginable. All in all, Doom is a really solid package: two abilities that do a good amount of damage, a good support ability, and a bunch of HP to boot. Since he relies on clogging the board and having red tiles to summon demons with, his ideal pairings would be with people that don't shake up the board and don't have great reds, making Ares a perfect pairing!

Ideal Build: For transitioners, 5/3/5 is ideal. Doom is going to be carrying your team damage wise, so you want to maximize his damage abilities. Once you've made the transition, then 5 blue builds become more viable. In general, 5 blue is unnecessary since the board rarely has more than 8 blue tiles anyways since you needed 9 blue AP to be able to cast the ability in the first place, but there is a pretty sweet combo with MNM's purple making blue tiles for Doom to turn into black, and 5 blue is essential for that team composition to work.

Mid Tier Characters

Solid characters that can carry you through the transition, and I wouldn't mind messing up my scaling for if I had a team consisting of two of these guys that worked somewhat well together.

Punisher - An extremely versatile, albeit unexciting offensive utility character. His green is reminiscent of 2* Wolvie's pre-nerf strike tiles, and will give you a ton of extra damage throughout the course of the fight. While clearing a random section of the board might seem bad, it can be extremely useful in getting some new tiles on it after you've exhausted all of the important colors on it already. His black is a solid aoe damage spell when used after his green in a meta where there aren't many good black skills, and his red will be your best friend in level 230 PvE fights against 16k hp opponents, and average against non-buffed opponents (1482 damage for 8AP is about 20% less efficient than A. Wolvie's red). 3 solid active skills means that he will find a place in a lot of teams that you field in the future. Although he won't be the most powerful character in your roster, he'll definitely be the most consistent. With the recent power creep in characters though, he's starting to get outclassed. He's still a very good transition character as he can fill in any missing green/red/black holes that your roster might have and can be the focus of your team, but once you have a large enough roster, Punisher doesn't quite cut it anymore. The introduction of Team-Ups was also pretty significant nerf since one of Punisher's main strengths was the ability to generate environmental AP very quickly, so he is definitely aging and not as effective as he once was.

Ideal Build: 3/5/5. 5 green is non-negotiable as strike tiles are the main reason why he's good, so it's between 5 black and 5 red. The main benefit to 5 red is that 30%->40% can matter a lot in PvE fights, where 1 turn and 1.6k is a matter of life and death. 5 black increases the aoe damage by a negligible amount, and reduces the countdown tile to 2 turns, which might seem like a big improvement, but you have to remember that the main point of Punisher's attack tiles is to abuse his strike tiles. Therefore, it doesn't matter how many attack tiles you have on the board as long as you have 1 (they do ~55 damage at level 141 by themselves) to abuse strike tile damage with. This 2 turn countdown then translates to 1 extra turn an attack tile is on board (~300-400 extra damage with 1 activation of Punisher's green) and also makes it easier to get a strike tile on board (the benefits of which is too hard to evaluate cleanly), so I prefer the red for the extra utility in PvE events, where it becomes 6k damage for 8 red AP.

Rocket and Groot A tanky support character focused on not dying / never using health packs, and helping the team out with very strong strike tiles and some random board clear. His yellow passive is his main ability, allowing him to essentially heal back up to full as soon as he's below 25% health, while clearing the board of TU tiles and potentially generating cascades to boot. Blue is his main offensive ability, giving you a whopping 1k strength worth of strike tiles, at the cost of 10AP and a 2 turn CD tile (you get to choose where to place the tile so it's reliable). Green rounds off his abilities with an unexciting, but serviceable board clear. Groot wins the game through attrition: let him soak up all of the damage, and then you can heal him back up with his yellow if he gets low. His blue then gives you enough tiles to just match-damage your opponent to death. Also remember that you can deliberately retreat in the prologue with him to get him below 25%, if you want to heal him up immediately at the start of the battle and generate that board clear. He's rated this highly because of how good he is for sustained pushing and health pack consumption, despite not being the fastest or most damaging character around.

Build: There are two schools of thought here. The first school of thought (and the most generally accepted one) is that you bring Groot for his yellow to tank, and his blue is pretty good compared to his green, so you want to be 5/3/5. The other school of thought is that 5 yellow is actually unnecessary: it's 4k vs 8k hp difference with 10 TU tiles on board, but it's unclear as to how much that matters since he can just heal if he goes below 25% again. The times it does matter is when that 4k HP prevents him from getting 1-shot, or if he dies before the board can be replenished with TU tiles. Healing less also allows you to use his yellow again quicker, which is good since you can use it to get more cascades. This would make 3/5/5 optimal, since if the extra healing from yellow is unnecessary, you might as well level up green so that it's average instead of mediocre. I would just play with him and see how it goes. If you find Groot dying a lot and you wishing that yellow healed more, go with 5/3/5. If you like using yellow for the board clear, and Groot isn't dying that much anyways, then go with 3/5/5. None of the abilities get a big enough benefit from 3->4 to be worth it, so any 4 builds are probably bad.

Blade - A special tile... specialist focused on gaining incremental advantages throughout the match. His green is his main power: this essentially gives you free strike tiles every turn assuming that there is enough red on the board, which is insane if you actually proc it, but is relatively hard to get, meaning that you need to build your team such that you don't prioritize matching red abilities. His black is pretty fast, dealing reasonable amounts of damage and giving you an AP drain tile that can either be amazing (if the opponent has colored AP in the color that you want) or marginal (if he doesn't). Note that this is especially good vs goons since they automatically generate AP every turn. His purple is pretty slow at 10AP, but at level 5, if you have a ton of strike tiles out, then it does 2k damage a turn, which is game ending over the course of a couple of turns. After playing around with him for a bit, green turns out to be pretty reliable as long as you don't prioritize red, so the board can flow with red tiles. Once you get green going, then blade becomes a very good source of sustained damage, and can probably carry a transitioner roster by himself. His low hp and general lack of bursty damage makes him not ideal, but his pure damage potential means that he's pretty high up on the characters that will do work for you in 2->3* land. Ares is a no brainer pairing with him: a great, cheap green outlet, and no color overlap whatsoever.

Build: 5 green is a must as it makes his most important skill have roughly a 14% more likely chance to proc, so it's between 3/5/5 or 5/3/5. For transition rosters, you need your 3* to be a major source of damage, so 3/5/5 is infinitely better in that his purple is really his main way of dealing major amounts of damage, and 3->5 purple more than doubles the damage on his ability. It's very dependent on his green being active, but that can also be somewhat mitigated by bringing Daken to help generate some strike tiles. 5/3/5 is the other viable build, and with a stronger roster, you'll probably use his black a lot more than his purple so it's arguably worth going for the minor upgrade in a skill you use a lot of the time compared to a major upgrade in a skill that you rarely use. 5 purple is really what allows the character to do enough damage on his own though, so I'm more inclined to lean towards 3/5/5.

Gamora - A brawlery, damagey type that is either going to be the centerpiece of your team or pretty useless otherwise. Her black makes or breaks how good she is. If she tanks all three of her colors, that means that she's going to create 7 strike tiles on average, which at max level is insane at 1050 (more strength than berzerker rage, and unconditional too!) However, if she only tanks two colors, then you're looking at a much more average 4 tiles (600 strength for 12 ap), and you don't want to know what happens when she tanks 1 or less color. Her red and green are clearly meant to be used after her black: red does pretty mediocre damage, but low ap costs means that it synergizes with strike tiles really well since you can get more strike tile triggers from using it more often. Her green is expensive, but deals a modest amount of team damage and stuns two enemies for 2 turns at level 5, which again, works infinitely better once you get her strike tiles out. If you can kill one guy on their team before or while using it, this turns into stunning the entire team for 2 turns while you wail on them with strike tiles, which is a ton of free damage and basically a game ender at that point. If you build your team such that Gamora tanks all three of her colors, then her black is going to singlehandedly carry you to victory, which is pretty good for transitioning players that have mainly 2*s to pair her with. However, as soon as you get a deeper 3* roster with characters that tank for her, she's going to drop slowly into obscurity, since she is only good if she can get a strong black off. She is ranked this highly assuming she tanks 3/6 colors. If she tanks 2/6 colors, then she falls considerably lower, to probably slightly better than Psylocke tier.

Ideal Build: 5 black is what defines the character. Between 5 green and 5 red, you are going to use red a lot more than green simply because its so much cheaper, but when you get green off, it's probably a game ender with the 2 turn stun. I think 3/5/5 will end up being the consensus best build since red is just going to be used so often, but 5/3/5 seems viable as well if your main gameplan is black into green.

Daken (Classic) - Strike tile generator and sustained pusher. Daken's two main strengths are that you'll never have to spend a health pack on him (which has been increasingly important due to true healing), and that he fits well on almost any team due to his best ability not requiring any colored AP. He doesn't have the burst/game-ending damage output like lazythor or characters like that, but any green match will guarantee you a very consistent amount of damage throughout the remainder of the match. When considering what characters to pair Daken up with, you generally want to go with characters that have 3 relevant abilities: one of which is a good green one, and none of them are blue. Daken having 2 passives means that he needs to have a partner that can cover a lot of colors to get as many active abilities as possible, and you want to match as much green as possible early to abuse strike tiles. A heavy blue partner (C. Mags) is bad for Daken since Daken relies on healing and already has an active blue ability. A very good transition character since he'll play well with your standard RGY 2* powerhouses like Ares/Thor (Ares in particular since green is cheap), and will be a mainstay in your roster throughout your 3* career. Note that Daken can't carry a team damage-wise though, so you'll need to rely on the other guy on your team to do most of the damage.

Ideal Build - 5 in purple is a must, and then it's up in the air. My philosophy is that Daken is more of a sustained pusher than he is a raw damage dealer, so his survivability is more important to me than some extra damage at the end of the match, so I prefer 5/5/3.

Mystique - A really solid AP generator/stealer supporty character, that has very different roles depending on your roster. For most transition players that lack one of the top blacks in the game (surgical strike / rage of the panther), her black is going to be one of the main damage sources on your team: at 5 black it deals a whopping 7k damage if you have a purple tile out, which will outright kill many 3*s in the game, and put a big chunk into characters such as the Hulk. Her purple has decent value throughout all stages of the game: if you rush it then you can put it down and start stealing AP from your opponent. If you get it late in the game, that stun could be the difference between you killing them before they get off another ability, or stunning annoying passive characters such as the Hulk. However in practice, it tends to be a little underwhelming: the ap steal isn't really that noticeable and you don't like to cast it early in fears of it getting destroyed before masterstroking. I typically tend to cast it late for the stun and right before a masterstroke, but even then, it's not really worth prioritizing purple for, since you normally get the AP from casting blue anyways. Blue is an incredibly efficient engine spell that fuels black or purple. It might seem like you won't get that many matches out of it, but level 3 has roughly a 54% of making at least 1 match on a uniform board, with ~4 tiles destroyed on average, whereas level 5 has a 71% of making at least 1 match on a uniform board, with a whopping ~7 tiles destroyed on average, most of which are purple / black and fuel her other abilities. Moves that can generate AP and modify the board are a lot better than they seem, and as a result, Mystique's blue is her best ability.

Ideal Build: After playing around with her, 3/5/5 is ideal. Purple has been underwhelming in practice, and blue and black both get a huge upgrade by going to 5 covers. Blue 3->5 might not seem like a big deal, but it actually is. If you've seen it in action, or trust my simulator results, it should almost doubles the amount of AP generated, and makes it much more likely to cause a cascade. 5 black allows MQ to carry her weight damage wise, as 3 black is extremely poor otherwise.

Human Torch - A strong damage dealer that doesn't play well with others. His red is extremely efficient as it basically does 2.7k damage for 6 red AP (you get refunded 2AP from the tiles you destroyed when using the ability). His green is very efficient as well once you have a lot of green AP stored in the bank, since having 10 green AP makes it tick for 2k a turn. Note that the AI uses his green very poorly, and since it drains green AP, it could be a huge liability on defense. His black is alright, but since it only converts basic color tiles (env tiles, countdown tiles, strike/attack/def tiles don't count), you're probably only going to be able to get off ~5-6 of his tiles in a cluttered board on average. That being said, at max covers/levels, each tile does 192 damage, so even only 5-6 tiles still amounts to ~1k damage per turn. He clearly has some very powerful abilities, but he is very needy in general. His black is a huge AP drain, and his green basically means that you want to constantly stockpile his green until you can use it to end the game, so you probably want him as the only green user on the team and have some way of feeding him green. His red probably lets him fit in any team that wants a red, but if you want to use him to his full potential, you need to do a lot more work team composition wise compared to a character like Punisher. I think that he's a fine transition character to build a team around, but be aware of his weaknesses in his low hp, and reliance on needing to prioritize black/green in order to get the most out of his abilities. After playing around with him a bit, his sheer damage output is more than enough for him to be a great addition to your roster.

Ideal Build: 5/3/5: 5 red is generally preferred since it's his best ability in a vacuum, and I think the green is better than black because of how much more support there is for generating green tiles (thor, desert, gsbw) than there is for attack tiles. A green fed torch will deal 2k+ damage a turn, which will singlehandedly win you the game. Most builds will work depending on who you're pairing up torch with though. If LazyDaken is his partner, for instance, then 3/5/5 might be preferable because of how awesome black/green is with strike tiles.

The Hood - AP stealer / generator. I didn't have too much exposure to the character before, but now that I've played with him for a bit, I'm jumping on the Hood train. I'm now convinced that he is the best defensive character in the game (even better than Hulk) and a strong offensive support character. It's pretty easy to see this once you've played against him at a high level a couple of times. His black does mediocre damage and has a situational effect, his yellow does a ton of damage at max level, and his blue is absolutely insane. I remember plenty of games where I just made a match to hit 9AP to use an ability, but then the hood's blue steals 1 of that AP, and the board proceeds to be completely dry of that color afterwards. A couple of turns later, and most of my AP stockpile has been drained while the enemy team is swimming in AP and killing all my guys. The Hoods also makes match 4s and AP boosts a terrible proposition since he'll just steal all the AP from the colors that you aren't focusing on.

A good metric of telling how good the character is on defense is to think about who you would want to kill first in the teams that you play against. With teams that have the Hood, I'm pretty sure that you would want to down him ASAP or dodge the team because of him, so this is indicative of him being pretty amazing on defense. On offense, his effects are more subtle since you probably aren't monitoring the enemy AP levels and seeing exactly how much he's denying them from using abilities, but it's pretty noticeable in high level fights where the games tend to get really drawn out (230 PvE events). He won't be the star of your offense, but he'll be in the background doing a ton of work. The only reason why he isn't high tier is because he relies on 5 blue/yellow covers and max level to make his abilities relevant and have enough HP to be viable, so he's a pretty terrible transition character in that he is very weak until he is near max level and has maxed out yellow/blue covers. Also, he generally relies on the other character you bring to do most of the damage, of which in 2* land the only one that doesn't conflict with Twin Pistols is Torch, which is pretty fragile. That being said, his stock rises considerably if you have another character that can deal most of the damage and cover 3 colors (such as Punisher, Torch, LazyThor, etc).

Ideal Build: 5/5/3: You're rarely, if ever going to have enough countdown tiles on the board for levels 4/5 in black to matter, and leveling up yellow/blue increases their usefulness considerably.

Captain America (Steve Rogers) A tanky support character focused on generating massive value by repeatedly damaging/stunning your opponents and clearing countdown tiles. This version of Cap has been significantly improved from his 2* version: red now does ~3.5k damage at max level, and blue now leaves behind a 300 strength protect tile that will nullify any match-3 damage from your opponents. Cap's primary role is still in attrition based matchups (level 230 PvE events v goons especially) where countdown tile clearing and consistent damage matter most, but the buff to his red has made him a pretty formidable character. His yellow is still too expensive though, so he can only be considered a 2 color character when building your team. He's also weaker on defense due to the AI not knowing where to place his countdown tiles, but he seems like a solid character to pick up.

Build: 3/5/5. Blue and red are no brainers since it allows them to hit enemy countdown tiles and increases their damage/defense strength. Yellow's still too expensive to be used, and so should be kept at 3.

C. Mags - A solid utility board shaker / damage guy. Red is his new best ability, as it's cheap and shakes up the board, which allows you to get more favorable matches and cause more cascades due to there being one less type of tile on the board (resulting in more of the other tiles, and thus more cascade potential). This ability is best used in conjunction with other abilities that remove / add tiles of a single color to the board (Thunder Strike, for instance), since chaining this into another ability vastly increases the chances of cascades. Getting ~2k damage off of the ability is pretty nice as well. Blue is very cost effective (5k damage for 10AP = 500 damage / AP), but requires both blue / red tiles on board, which can be difficult if you're prioritizing red / blue for C. Mags. Yellow is... meh. It's one of those average abilities where it's fine to cast if you incidentally get a lot of yellow, but you'll never really find yourself prioritizing yellow to cast it, or even being excited to cast it when you do.

Ideal Build: 3/5/5. Red and blue both offer significant damage upgrades (~50%) from 3->5 covers. Yellow's 5 allowing overwriting of enemy tiles is relevant, but the fact that it's random doesn't really feel too good, not to mention that you're not excited casting the ability in the first place.

Deadpool - A specialist character that is used mainly for his devestating red in high level play. Black is super situational because on defense the enemy team can just choose to ignore you, and on offense you need to put him in front just before the enemy uses an ability in order to pass the damage threshold, which means that you're going to be taking a bunch of damage anyways. While purple looks good as one of the only active purple skills in 3* land, it costing 14AP means that it's going to be hard to get o
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Comments

  • I don't understand now how I beat Prologue with cHawkeye and no tanks D: I remember it often being hurtful tho.

    Great topic, kudos. I understand you will continue adding to this, it makes an interesting read even for a non-newbie.
  • Great idea! Especially since you seem to be the most helpful and frequent commentator on these kinds of questions. Too bad there is no rep system yet.

    Some thoughts since I'm going through this process myself -

    Don't repeat Prologue missions that have 1* covers you do not need (like venom, hawkeye, or juggernaut as examples of characters people tend to skip or delete early) Later in the game if you want those characters, those missions will be super easy and will be a reliable source for those covers. Same goes for boosts and health packs that you probably want to avoid using on prologue missions - use them on PVP sessions.

    Early PVP: Your first PVP matches may be a quick get in-get out deal. Get enough points for the progression reward of a token (one or two matches usually) and then don't spend more time on them. You'll get a ISO payout and a token to save or use - or sell for more ISO. Putting more time into the events than that will generally be frustrating, especially with 1* teams that are at or below level 30. I have found lightning rounds especially fruitful for this.

    Disable the tutorial, using the gears icon on the splash screen, and you will not be forced to spend 50HP on a Hawkeye or BW cover.

    If NorthernPolarity contradicts anything I said, listen to him. icon_e_biggrin.gif
  • HailMaryHailMary Posts: 2,179
    Very cool. I'm glad you compiled this, if only for the sake of your own sanity. No more need to patiently repeat the same sage advice to several dozen people. icon_razz.gif

    Looking forward to the next couple of installments!
  • mischiefmakermischiefmaker Age Unconfirmed Posts: 932
    Outstanding start. Now all you need is a bot that auto-responds to every "need help on my roster" thread with a link to this one!

    A few additions to the 1* stage:

    - Feel free to sell off any 1* covers that you haven't put much ISO into (level 10 and under) if you need the roster space. These covers will be plentiful later and tend not to be particularly useful in general. In order, sell Yelena, Venom, Juggernaut, and Hawkeye as needed.
    - When you're running low on health, use health packs, as they regenerate over time. If you're out of health packs, swap in Juggernaut for Iron Man, as they have similar functions (high health, good damage output).
    - Hawkeye (classic) and Storm (modern) make for a fun and surprisingly powerful combination in the jungle environment (less so in other environments, but workable). Collect purple and red; use red to destroy environment tiles, then look for places where a critical tile can make a 5-way match to get double criticals from a single cast of Take Aim. Casting Lightning Storm with critical tiles on board often results in big cascades (although sometimes it destroys the critical instead, so it's a gamble, but worth taking if there are no good matches for the critical tile). The best thing about this combo is that Hawkeye gains almost no benefit from leveling up, so you can keep him at level 1 and not spend ISO on him.

    Advanced leveling:
    - Storm is best leveled in multiples of 6, as Hailstorm increases by 1 point of damage per 6 levels.
    - Black Widow gains no benefit from leveling up (neither of her powers scales with level), so level her as little as possible (only enough to prevent her from dying due to area effect countdown tiles).
    - Always keep Iron Man at least 1 level above Storm and at least 7 levels above Black Widow. This makes him tank as many colors as possible, so that you only have to spend health packs on one hero instead of three.
  • NemekNemek Posts: 1,511
    Nice guide! Thanks for putting it together.
  • I'm personally in the 1* to 2* transition and the issue I'm having is that I'm seemingly at the mercy of whatever rewards are being given out. I had a Thor at 3/3/1 a few weeks ago and leveled him up since he was my most covered 2*. He is now capped at 3/3/2, and I can't get him any higher until they start giving out Thor rewards, or I get lucky with tokens. I was in 1* land at around the Thorverine nerf and they haven't really given out many Thor covers for Top75 finishes. Every tournament I'm eagerly checking to see if they'll give Thor as a Top75 reward.

    I guess a lot of this is self inflicted. There are a lot of heroes like Modern Hawkeye, Captain America and Moonstone that I'm simply not interested in. I always pass those covers up. I've sold a few of them and aim for Top45 when I see those guys as the 2* rewards. As a result, I have a bunch of 3* covers sitting around that I can't use and not enough roster slots to just store up covers for these lesser 2*. I could probably have a high level Moonstone and Captain America if I didn't just hoarde unusable 3* covers.

    I hoarded unusable 3* covers with the idea that in the long run, I can use these whereas I won't have any use for Moonstone. However, I'm seeing how easy it is to get Top45 finishes, and just having that 1 extra cover is actually not that valuable. I guess if I was able to travel back in time and give myself advice, it's to not get so excited about 3*, Top45 is not difficult
  • Thank you for this! Well written and 100% accurate. I have a feeling I will be referring folks to this guide often.
  • NorthernPolarityNorthernPolarity Posts: 3,531 Chairperson of the Boards
    Thanks for the encouragement! I'll be adding the tips in the comments to the guide as I continue to work on it.
  • NorthernPolarityNorthernPolarity Posts: 3,531 Chairperson of the Boards
    noknuckles wrote:
    I'm personally in the 1* to 2* transition and the issue I'm having is that I'm seemingly at the mercy of whatever rewards are being given out. I had a Thor at 3/3/1 a few weeks ago and leveled him up since he was my most covered 2*. He is now capped at 3/3/2, and I can't get him any higher until they start giving out Thor rewards, or I get lucky with tokens. I was in 1* land at around the Thorverine nerf and they haven't really given out many Thor covers for Top75 finishes. Every tournament I'm eagerly checking to see if they'll give Thor as a Top75 reward.

    I guess a lot of this is self inflicted. There are a lot of heroes like Modern Hawkeye, Captain America and Moonstone that I'm simply not interested in. I always pass those covers up. I've sold a few of them and aim for Top45 when I see those guys as the 2* rewards. As a result, I have a bunch of 3* covers sitting around that I can't use and not enough roster slots to just store up covers for these lesser 2*. I could probably have a high level Moonstone and Captain America if I didn't just hoarde unusable 3* covers.

    I hoarded unusable 3* covers with the idea that in the long run, I can use these whereas I won't have any use for Moonstone. However, I'm seeing how easy it is to get Top45 finishes, and just having that 1 extra cover is actually not that valuable. I guess if I was able to travel back in time and give myself advice, it's to not get so excited about 3*, Top45 is not difficult

    I'm not sure if this was necessarily a bad idea: I think even the 25HP from selling an unusable 3* would have been better than getting silly covers such as Moonstone and Capt. I'm not sold on the idea of investing iso into lower 2* tiered characters, but I haven't really played too much with a few of them (Cap in particular) to know if they're viable in PvP.
  • Just for the sake of better visibility - make use of all different styles of fonts. icon_e_smile.gif

    Great work!
  • mischiefmakermischiefmaker Age Unconfirmed Posts: 932
    I'm not sure if this was necessarily a bad idea: I think even the 25HP from selling an unusable 3* would have been better than getting silly covers such as Moonstone and Capt. I'm not sold on the idea of investing iso into lower 2* tiered characters, but I haven't really played too much with a few of them (Cap in particular) to know if they're viable in PvP.
    Cap is pretty terrible in PvP, but a properly built Cap (3/5/5) is extremely strong for PvE, especially because he's often boosted. In the current event I've been running mine probably half the time or more, beating enemies five times his level. Moonstone is much less versatile, but using Control Shift to steal a high-level goon tile is a lot of fun and might be useful for someone trying to sneak a win against goons they otherwise can't handle.

    Additional 2* thoughts:
    - Ares might be the best 2* in the game not named OBW, although he's considerably harder to get than Thor or Wolverine. Thor/Ares is pretty strong (yes, their powers overlap, but you have the same problem with Thor/Wolverine, and their powers at least are different enough to give you some tactical options), especially on defense.
    - I think Daken deserves a mention -- he's almost as good as Wolverine as his strike tiles are better, they're free, and he regenerates. He doesn't have a nuke the way Wolverine does, but he's a much better match for Thor since you're now free to use green/red exclusively for Thor's powers, and you can level Daken so that he tanks green.
    - Since this guide is all about transitions, I think it's worthwhile to mention some 1*/2* combinations (this is more true for the 2*/3* transition, since 3* covers are much harder to come by, so it's good to know what you should be focusing on to match your current roster). For instance, MStorm/Daken/Thor is a pretty strong team and an absolute monster in the desert environment.
    - The old standby Thor/Storm (either one) is still quite strong, with Thor's yellow feeding Storm's green to feed everything else. Ideally your third will be someone who can use purple/black; Black Widow (either one), Venom, or Moonstone might fit the bill here.
    - I'm not entirely convinced that 3/5/5 is absolutely the right build for Thor. As you eventually transition to 3* heros, won't you want to use the green elsewhere? Also, if you're playing Thor/Storm a lot, you won't be using his green much there either. I think all the builds with 5 yellow are viable, depending on who you play Thor with.
    - 2* gameplan notes: 1, you absolutely need to finish the Prologue, meaning collect all the covers, tokens, and hero points. You need covers and tokens to get your 2*s into fighting trim, and your roster should be straining at its limits, so you definitely want the hero points. 2, spending a few bucks to get additional slots is a good idea if you have 3* covers expiring that you don't have room for, or even 2* covers. 2* covers tend to be harder to come by than 1* covers, and most have some utility, but if you really must sell them, do so in the following order: Bag Man, Bullseye, Moonstone, Magneto (Marvel Now), Hawkeye (modern). 3, as you start getting 2* covers, try to play as many of the PvP tournaments and finish in the top 75 to get 3 2* covers as possible. Avoid using shields -- you need those hero points for roster expansion.
  • Here are some questions for you to address:

    - At what point do you stop putting ISO into your * covers? Max? Lvl 30? When a ** cover does the same job?
    - At what point do you put ISO into ** covers? Is there any rule of thumb? I've seen people recommend getting 9 covers before putting ISO into ** characters, and there are other opinions too.
    -Now that there is a Respec option, should new players just apply any cover as it comes? For example - If my first 13 covers for Wolverine are 3/5/5 should I just apply them, knowing that when I get Green covers later I can respec him, vs holding off on leveling him until I get the covers I want? All it seems you would miss out on is 250 ISO, but get him to lvl 85 regardless of how the drops come.
    -The Shield VS area seems oddly set up, as far as rewards go. By the time you have a good pvp team you are cover maxed on your * covers, but you will have a lot of fights in there before you get ** and *** cover awards. Any thoughts on when players should start doing those missions?
  • NorthernPolarityNorthernPolarity Posts: 3,531 Chairperson of the Boards
    Emeryt wrote:
    Just for the sake of better visibility - make use of all different styles of fonts. icon_e_smile.gif

    Great work!

    I can't bring myself to pretty up the document until I've completed most of it, but I definitely plan to in the somewhat near future as It's pretty annoying to read. I guess this will separate the hardcore newbies from casuals!
    I'm not sure if this was necessarily a bad idea: I think even the 25HP from selling an unusable 3* would have been better than getting silly covers such as Moonstone and Capt. I'm not sold on the idea of investing iso into lower 2* tiered characters, but I haven't really played too much with a few of them (Cap in particular) to know if they're viable in PvP.
    Cap is pretty terrible in PvP, but a properly built Cap (3/5/5) is extremely strong for PvE, especially because he's often boosted. In the current event I've been running mine probably half the time or more, beating enemies five times his level. Moonstone is much less versatile, but using Control Shift to steal a high-level goon tile is a lot of fun and might be useful for someone trying to sneak a win against goons they otherwise can't handle.

    Additional 2* thoughts:
    - Ares might be the best 2* in the game not named OBW, although he's considerably harder to get than Thor or Wolverine. Thor/Ares is pretty strong (yes, their powers overlap, but you have the same problem with Thor/Wolverine, and their powers at least are different enough to give you some tactical options), especially on defense.
    - I think Daken deserves a mention -- he's almost as good as Wolverine as his strike tiles are better, they're free, and he regenerates. He doesn't have a nuke the way Wolverine does, but he's a much better match for Thor since you're now free to use green/red exclusively for Thor's powers, and you can level Daken so that he tanks green.
    - Since this guide is all about transitions, I think it's worthwhile to mention some 1*/2* combinations (this is more true for the 2*/3* transition, since 3* covers are much harder to come by, so it's good to know what you should be focusing on to match your current roster). For instance, MStorm/Daken/Thor is a pretty strong team and an absolute monster in the desert environment.
    - The old standby Thor/Storm (either one) is still quite strong, with Thor's yellow feeding Storm's green to feed everything else. Ideally your third will be someone who can use purple/black; Black Widow (either one), Venom, or Moonstone might fit the bill here.
    - I'm not entirely convinced that 3/5/5 is absolutely the right build for Thor. As you eventually transition to 3* heros, won't you want to use the green elsewhere? Also, if you're playing Thor/Storm a lot, you won't be using his green much there either. I think all the builds with 5 yellow are viable, depending on who you play Thor with.
    - 2* gameplan notes: 1, you absolutely need to finish the Prologue, meaning collect all the covers, tokens, and hero points. You need covers and tokens to get your 2*s into fighting trim, and your roster should be straining at its limits, so you definitely want the hero points. 2, spending a few bucks to get additional slots is a good idea if you have 3* covers expiring that you don't have room for, or even 2* covers. 2* covers tend to be harder to come by than 1* covers, and most have some utility, but if you really must sell them, do so in the following order: Bag Man, Bullseye, Moonstone, Magneto (Marvel Now), Hawkeye (modern). 3, as you start getting 2* covers, try to play as many of the PvP tournaments and finish in the top 75 to get 3 2* covers as possible. Avoid using shields -- you need those hero points for roster expansion.

    Going to work completing the 2* section and incorporating this information to the guide next. Thanks for the help! Do you think that Venom is a good character for a 1* person to invest in? While he does cover black/purple, I was always just under the impression that you should focus on IM35/Storm/BW and trying to transition out of 1* land ASAP.
    Here are some questions for you to address:
    - At what point do you stop putting ISO into your * covers? Max? Lvl 30? When a ** cover does the same job?
    - At what point do you put ISO into ** covers? Is there any rule of thumb? I've seen people recommend getting 9 covers before putting ISO into ** characters, and there are other opinions too.
    -Now that there is a Respec option, should new players just apply any cover as it comes? For example - If my first 13 covers for Wolverine are 3/5/5 should I just apply them, knowing that when I get Green covers later I can respec him, vs holding off on leveling him until I get the covers I want? All it seems you would miss out on is 250 ISO, but get him to lvl 85 regardless of how the drops come.
    -The Shield VS area seems oddly set up, as far as rewards go. By the time you have a good pvp team you are cover maxed on your * covers, but you will have a lot of fights in there before you get ** and *** cover awards. Any thoughts on when players should start doing those missions?

    Great questions! I'll be sure to add the answers into the guide (although I'm not sure where as the tips section is starting to get a little unruly.... To answer them now,
    - At what point do you stop putting ISO into your * covers? Max? Lvl 30? When a ** cover does the same job?
    I would stop putting iso into my 1*s when they're high enough to complete most of the prologue and earn you enough 2* covers so that a 2* would do the same job. For me, this was level 30 as I was luckily able to get enough Thor characters to stop putting iso into Thor. This also depends on the character: IM35 becomes obsolete as soon as you get a 2* tanky character to level 40. M. Storm takes a lot longer to become obsolete, so I would continue to put iso into her (just enough so that your 2* cover is tanking the damage instead of her). M. Widow I could see you stopping at 15-20ish. She just needs enough hp to be able to survive AoE attacks, since her abilities don't scale with level.
    - At what point do you put ISO into ** covers? Is there any rule of thumb? I've seen people recommend getting 9 covers before putting ISO into ** characters, and there are other opinions too.
    The rule of thumb is when they're strong enough to be used as a substitute/in place of your 1* characters. This is typically when their level cap becomes higher than a 1* character and when they have at least 1 cover in each ability, so I would say it could range from 6 covers (level 32 max) to 9 (level 54 max) depending on when you begin the 1*->2* transition.
    -Now that there is a Respec option, should new players just apply any cover as it comes? For example - If my first 13 covers for Wolverine are 3/5/5 should I just apply them, knowing that when I get Green covers later I can respec him, vs holding off on leveling him until I get the covers I want? All it seems you would miss out on is 250 ISO, but get him to lvl 85 regardless of how the drops come.
    Generally yes. Some characters such as MBW are weird though in that their optimal build involves deliberately not maxing out her covers, but I don't think that there is a 2* character that exists with the same problem. IM40 faces the same problem in that you don't want to max his yellow, but I'm not sure if there are any other common ones.
    -The Shield VS area seems oddly set up, as far as rewards go. By the time you have a good pvp team you are cover maxed on your * covers, but you will have a lot of fights in there before you get ** and *** cover awards. Any thoughts on when players should start doing those missions?
    As soon as you have a team strong enough to grab the progression rewards. I remember as a newbie that I was able to grind up to at least 300 points off of a level 20-30 IM35/MBW/Storm team and earn some Storm/BW covers that I needed, so this is a good early source of IM35/Storm covers. The 2* covers are pretty much impossible to get for a newbie, so they shouldn't even be thinking about that.
  • mischiefmakermischiefmaker Age Unconfirmed Posts: 932
    Generally yes. Some characters such as MBW are weird though in that their optimal build involves deliberately not maxing out her covers, but I don't think that there is a 2* character that exists with the same problem. IM40 faces the same problem in that you don't want to max his yellow, but I'm not sure if there are any other common ones.
    The 2*s that I can think of:

    - OBW is slightly better with 1 purple than 2, so it's technically optimal to hold off applying that second purple cover until you can get a third, but the difference is so small that it's not worth the risk of forgetting to apply it and having it expire. Same for 3->4, if you intend to go with a 5/4/4 or 5/3/5 build. Also, I think there's a good argument for building OBW 1/5/5.
    - Similarly, I like Hawkeye's Avoid at 2 and 3, but I really found it hard to control at 1.
    - MMN's blue is pretty bad at higher levels, although I don't even use it at L3, so maybe it doesn't much matter. I think there's a decent argument for keeping him under 13 covers though -- 1, 2, and 3 blue all have their merits, as does 4 red and 5 red.
    - There's probably a reasonable argument for not leveling up Bag Man's blue, but...I mean...Bag Man. icon_razz.gif

    For 1*, I'd also go 5/4 on Venom.
  • yogi_yogi_ Posts: 1,236 Chairperson of the Boards
    Kudos to NP and all for their ideas. This is a great post.
  • mischiefmakermischiefmaker Age Unconfirmed Posts: 932
    Oops, I missed the question on Venom. No, I don't think people should invest in him -- see my earlier post where I ranked him the second 1* to sell after Yelena. I agree that transitioning to 2* should be an immediate priority, and leveling up Venom just gets in the way of that.

    Basically the only time to use him is in the 1* tournament and as a fun gimmick with Spider Man, munching on people. If a 1* tournament does come along, Venom is probably optimal, but you can do almost as well with IM35/Storm/Juggernaut or even IM35/Storm/Widow.
  • In my short time here, I've noticed something with Juggernaut and Venom; people usually go one or the other as their +1 to the IM35/mBW/mStorm.

    Venom is a PvE character. Stun on purple, direct damage black, and if you use bagman or Spiderman (terrible ** and great ***) you can potentially devour high HP enemies. However mStorm works against this.

    Juggernaut is a PvP character with a great psychological ability but lots of downtime. Many low-mid level pvp players tend to skip him, and he is not someone to mess with in the last hour of a tournament, since he does considerably a lot of damage for 6AP and will chew up health packs. When defending, who cares if he takes damage, he immediately auto heals for the next bout. He is best used if you play once or twice a day with hours between sessions. When defending, if the AI KO's Juggernaut by suicide he will typically have done 2-4x as much damage as he had health - both of which are considerable. IF he was targeted, whoever was not being isolated first (mStorm?) has time to get other powerful abilities off.

    IMO Venom is more useful as one of those one star covers to re-aquire later when you have *** Spiderman, and can switch him in for PvE events against Hulk or other high health characters. I went Juggernaut since he fits my schedule and is useful now, not so much later.

    I think it might be worthwhile to explain the difference between good PvP and PvE characters. Daken is a great ** PvP character. Juggernaut is a great (maybe the best?) 1* PvP character. The AI is relatively dumb, and will spam powers as soon as they are available. Daken's passive powers are conditional and random (but very useful) and Juggernaut's big drawback is irrelevant in PvP. Both are not fun ones to fight as an offensive player.

    mStorm in PvP is squishy. The AI does not use Captain America or Moonstone well due to their very tactical abilities. But they are good at manipulating the board to your advantage. Placing countdowns, replacing tiles, conditional activated abilities and placing critical tiles are all much, much less effective when left in the hands of the AI.


    As far as economy, I have learned from reading here that in the early game Roster Slots and HP are most needed and scarce. Mid game, both are still needed but HP can be earned in more venues. For example, there is more HP in the later prologue, placing top 150 in most tournaments, and progression awards in events and the Versus simulator. Eventually roster slots will be less critical, more HP will be coming in, but your heroes will be sucking down ISO and there will be no more juicy prologue to supply it in relatively large quantities, and thus ISO will be more of an issue in maxing your heroes than covers at times.

    Finally, new players should absolutely look at what is coming in terms of daily drops, prologue awards, and Versus awards:
    viewtopic.php?f=6&t=3642
    viewtopic.php?f=6&t=235

    Note that after finishing the prologue (or at least doing the relevant missions) players receive:

    3 A. Wolverine Covers
    3 C. Storm Covers
    3 Thor Covers
    3 Daken Covers

    Plus by Day 30 you will get:
    +1 Thor
    +1 Daken

    In Shield Versus you will furhtermore (and a bit further off) get:
    +2 Thor
    +2 Wolverine

    There are naturally going to be some of the easiest ** covers to transition to because you are guaranteed to get them at some point.
  • In Shield Versus you will furhtermore (and a bit further off) get:
    +2 Thor
    +2 Wolverine

    These are not currently achievable I believe as SHIELD VS caps out around 1500 in most brackets.
  • Question: Do OBW or Thor ever appear as three-cover rewards in events?
  • NorthernPolarityNorthernPolarity Posts: 3,531 Chairperson of the Boards
    Question: Do OBW or Thor ever appear as three-cover rewards in events?

    They do, but they haven't been recently.
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