In-depth (but non-specific) Examination of the 5* tier

GrimSkald Posts: 2,537 Chairperson of the Boards
edited December 2018 in MPQ Character Discussion

 I've been mulling this over for a while, and decided that I wanted to write this up - essentially "break down" the 5* tier.  Ranking it is of secondary importance, mostly I want to look at what it means for the game in general and what we are likely to see going forward. 

The way I see it, the 5* tier itself is defined by two strong characteristics:

- High match damage and hit points (out of scale with even their level compared to the 4* tier. 4* characters powers scale well when boosted to 5* levels, but their hit points are somewhat lower and their match damage is a lot lower)

- Each 5* (with the possible exception of Star Lord,) does something relatively unique, or at least it was when they were introduced to the game.  I say "unique" and not "powerful" -- unfortunately a lot of these unique and interesting abilities are next-to-useless.

- Each color frequently has a broader spectrum of powers than the 4* tier (e.g. both a passive and an active component, a "transformation" power, etc.) but there exceptions in both the 5* and 4* tiers.  Still, 5* characters tend to be a bit more flexible than other tiers.

In many cases the 5* tier leads the rest of the game in directions it will go - we first saw character transformations, fortified tiles, and interaction with character attributes in the 5* tier.  I believe this will continue - the 5* tier will essentially show how the game evolves.

Unfortunately, just as anything else, not all characters are created equal.  I believe it is important for people transitioning to 5*s to understand that.  Adding one champed 5* to your roster will affect  your PVP scaling, adding another will fix you at the 5* level.  If one or both of your 5*s are low-tier then you're going to have a hard time of the game, I'm afraid.  You'd be better off leaving them at a lower level - level the character to about the level of a boosted 4* and leave them there.  The fact that you can save covers makes this decision even clearer cut.

I think a ranking of the 5* tier would be better left to it's own discussion, and I may do that at some point.  However, here's a good guide on how to judge the relative power of a character:

- Look at each of the character's powers.  I would consider separate aspects of a color as two powers (i.e. I would consider Thor's "God of Thunder" as two powers - a passive and an active.)  However, a power that replaces itself should still be considered one power - you use one and not the other.  It should always be a question of "how is this character used."

- Rank the powers as you see fit, (i.e. "excellent," "good," "mediocre," "weak," "almost useless,") obviously there's a lot of wiggle room here.  Be sure to weight conditional powers based on their condition.  For example - both Ghost Rider and Black Widow have a black that does more damage under certain conditions, however Reyes' condition will be met much more often than Natasha's.  You really want to be ruthless as to the power's practicality, any power with multiple conditions gets drastically more difficult to use.  Remember to weight the cost against the power - bear in mind that powers with a cost over 10 will be used a lot less often.

- In general, I'd say a character needs at least one "excellent" power and at least one "good" power to even consider the character to be top tier.  If a character meshes really well with another particular character, he can be really useful, but will probably not be a great deterrent in PVP.

By way of example, let's consider the character many consider the top of the tier, Thor, who for the purposes of this example has four powers:

Green (passive,) generates 5 AP a turn and cascades when Thor is under 50% - excellent

Green (active) 12 AP for 13Kish team damage - excellent

Red - 13K damage with up to 7K more under some conditions - good (the conditions will sometimes generate a few extra K.)

Yellow - (one power since it transforms,) generates big protect tiles on a repeater, will turn those to strike tiles if the repeater is destroyed.  While the repeater is out does a lot of damage for 12.  I'd say it's mediocre - there's a lot of working parts here and the repeater isn't fortified.  It will be destroyed without doing anything a significant amount of the time, a lot of the time it won't do much - generate a tile or two that may well go away quickly.  I may even call it "weak."

Still - two excellent powers, one good, and one mediocre, that's pretty awesome.  Incidentally, if you're looking for his "unique attribute" I'd say it's the tile destruction and gaining AP every turn, though his yellow is also somewhat unique in that it can transform all protect tiles, not just Thor's.

I analyzed Loki in a similar way here, to sum up that's a good, maybe excellent purple, weak green, and almost useless black.  His black resurrection ability makes him unique (though Phoenix has a similar power,) though his purple is also fairly unique as well.  So he's far from top tier (I'd put him low-to-mid, personally.)

Another example - LumberCap

Red - "Excellent" I'd say, though you can make an argument for "good." - 7 AP for a fairly big hit to two characters (you can always select which two.)  You probably won't use it for when your opponent is down to two (this may drop it to good, since it puts a condition,) with one it makes an excellent one-shot, which also gives him utility for bosses.

Purple - I'd put it at "Mediocre."  It's cheap, so very usable, but it doesn't do very much.  The CD that prevents powers is less useful, IMHO, than the 6AP destruction.  It's not awful, and it can save you from some damage, but it's hardly good.  I think it's lack of expense saves it from "weak," but you can argue that too.

Yellow - "Almost Useless."  It's a neat idea, and very in character, but in practice you don't lose characters and it's so expensive that you probably won't be able to cast it when you do.  This is practically a case study for "unique power doesn't mean its good."

So Cap has an excellent power, but that's it.  He's not top tier.


  • Daredevil217
    Daredevil217 Posts: 3,929 Chairperson of the Boards
    There are some things I disagree with here. 

    I think multiple passives and actives is the way the game is going in general, not just the 5* tier. Look at a character like Bishop as a really good example. He’s super complex in what he does and if you played his PVP a match is made and often you’re like, “wait, what just happened?”

    Also I can’t break down characters the same way you do. Thanos and Thor are tops in PVE and PVP respectively because of one power. Thanos black keeps him atop the rankings despite two other mediocre powers, which is a great example of how the breakdown falls short. I’d argue they’d still be on top with JUST those powers. Similar to Rocket and Groot in the 4* tier. They have only one good power. But it is SO good and so effective that they should be ranked very highly in the 4* tier for that power alone. 

    If you want to breakdown characters it’s hard to just add up each individual power to get a some total, even if you break powers down into their component parts. My breakdown goes like this:

    1) Are they fast?

    Yes? Then they are top tier. This is why it’s Thorkoye and then everyone else under them. The rest of the characters can then be sorted by speed, defensive deterrents, healthpack savings, etc. but really if you are fast, you will top the rankings.  

  • Dormammu
    Dormammu Posts: 3,531 Chairperson of the Boards
    Some good insights here.

    I've always thought the best (top tier) characters offer great synergy with a variety of potential teammates and make others better at what they do. They don't have to do massive damage or create the winning formula by themselves, they simply need to make better the characters who do. This is true at any tier of play. The reason Carol was voted the best 4-star character by this forum's users was because she works so well with anyone who generates countdowns or special tiles. That's a lot of characters so it gives Carol incredible versatility.

    While Thor is certainly awesome, Okoye is the key cog in the current 5-star meta. He needs her far more than she needs him. The fact that I can take two 4-stars (Deadpool, Drax) into the SIM with Okoye and wipe the floor with any 5-star team you put in front of me (possibly faster) is proof of that versatility. I mean, I once climbed to 14 wins with Okoye and 1-star Spider-Man(!) just to prove I could do it. (It wasn't even that hard.) Basically Okoye might be the best teammate in the entire game, all without being overpowered, broken, and in desperate need of an overhaul (like the ill-fated Gambit).
  • ThaRoadWarrior
    ThaRoadWarrior Posts: 9,274 Chairperson of the Boards
    ^This is why I universally recommend Vulture, because he is legit the best solo (non 5*) character lol. 

    But seriously though, context really IS key. Are you struggling to win at all, well, chase this base set of characters. Okay, you can win, but it's too slow? Now you should move on to THIS set of characters. Oh, you have this, that, and the other character? Better do this.

    I know I have a Must Have list of 4*s that I've told people in my alliance to chase, and once you have those you can do them in whatever order they come up. Such a list for 5* play seems ideal, but really the only way to do it reliably is to hoard until they show up in a special release store, or to just resign yourself to only buying into Latest.
  • GrimSkald
    GrimSkald Posts: 2,537 Chairperson of the Boards

    All fair points - my proposal really was intended to be an evaluation tool, but not the evaluation tool - context is everything.  I'd say, for example, that Okoye's passive actually goes beyond "excellent" because it literally enhances every other character and plays really well with cheap damaging powers.  I can't tell you how much fun it is to play Thorkoye in the heroic lightning rounds with Gamora - sure, her black is useless but with some TU under your belt her red is devastating, and is well fed by Thor.  Is Okoye overpowered?  No, I don't think so, not really.  Is she the best support character in the game?  For speed, absolutely yes.

    Regarding the fact that multiple passives have been making it into the 4* tier, I'd say that's very true, but the 5* tier is really defined by the passives.  A lot of the 5* characters have at least one seriously defining passive power.  It's much less common in the 4* tier, though of course it exists.

  • bbigler
    bbigler Posts: 2,111 Chairperson of the Boards
    Practically all top tier characters are top tier because of their passives: 5Thor, Okoye, JJ, Daredevil, Kitty, Thanos, Strange, Chavez, Rogue, Vulture, Medusa, Grocket, Fist, Cage, Switch, Hawkguy.......need I go on?

    The very few exceptions would be 4* Gamora and IM40. Basically, this game has become a quest to find the best passive combos. 
  • Jaedenkaal
    Jaedenkaal Posts: 3,357 Chairperson of the Boards
    edited December 2018
    bbigler said:
    The very few exceptions would be 4* Gamora and IM40. Basically, this game has become a quest to find the best passive combos. 
    Of course, because getting damage for free (and all the time, ideally) is much better than paying AP for it. It often greatly reduces the random factor introduced by the colors available on the board. Precisely the reason why Gambit was the best character ever released.