Character rankings 6/14 edition: the results!

mischiefmaker Posts: 932
edited September 2014 in MPQ Character Discussion
Welcome to the third installment of character rankings! After getting 40 responses in less than a week last time, we got more than three times that this time -- a big thanks to everyone who voted, and also to those who contributed opinions for writeups. As usual, it's helpful to hear from people with different perspectives, so if you'd like to contribute to a future installment, please do!

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

New characters
Six new characters have been fully released in the past two months: 3* Thor, 3* Captain America, Human Torch, Falcon, 3* Daken, and Sentry (we didn't count Nick Fury). These new characters were even stronger than the previous group, with no Daredevil-level dud among them, so pushed everyone down quite a bit.

This group also represents a significant uptick in average health; where 5800 used to be average for 3* characters, half this group has health above that and only one is below. This puts increased emphasis on characters who have one-shot kill powers or powers that significantly increase damage output over time.

Another thing this group represents is an increased emphasis on green as the most powerful color in the game. Green was already a strong power with Punisher and Patch, but with Daken making strike tiles on green, Thor and Sentry both having game-ending area damage powers, and even Human Torch sporting a lethal and cheap power, there's more competition for green AP than ever before, pushing some green-using characters a bit down the list.

Updates to existing characters
There were two updates to existing characters (not counting the one to Falcon, which obviously doesn't affect his ranking since he's new to this edition of the list), and they couldn't have been more different in terms of impact. Modern Storm's tweak to destroy 14 tiles instead of 16 may as well not have happened — sure, there's a little less AP and a little less cascading, but functionally she's exactly the same as she was before.

On the other hand, Spider Man's change was incredibly impactful. First, there's the character himself, who went from irreplaceably unique in the metagame (makes any fight winnable, makes any damage irrelevant, and as a result makes time the most valuable commodity) to a complete afterthought (see his writeup for details). But there's also the impact on how other characters play: Patch loses one of his strongest running mates, and characters that generate blue, like IM40 and MMN, lose the most powerful outlet for that blue.

Lightning rounds
This round of rankings saw two significant changes in lightning rounds. The first one, making villain round rewards be tokens instead of guaranteed covers, was widely predicted, and serves to make the second-tier villains (Ragnarok, Doom) a little worse, because it's a bit less effective to use them as stepping stones to the top-tier villains (Hood, Magneto). It also removes the ability to farm hero points from lightning rounds, which used to be fairly lucrative for those dedicated enough to grind out top 2 finishes.

The other change, making tokens include all heroes instead of a subset of heroes, as in the previous Courageous tokens, was much less predictable, and essentially makes the lightning rounds useless as stepping stones to top-tier villains, which in turn significantly reduces the usefulness of the lower-tier lightning round featured characters (Black Widow, Model 40, Doom, Ragnarok, Loki).

Alliances and seasons
The introduction of seasons and the increased emphasis on alliance rewards means that players now always have a reason to participate and push for points in every pvp tournament, instead of being able to take it easy on tournaments where they didn't need the rewards. This doesn't have too much of an effect on the metagame, except perhaps to put a little bit more emphasis on characters who dissuade attacks, either because they dish out a lot of damage quickly, have huge health pools, or can outright win with a little help from the board.

2* covers as fight rewards
You wouldn't think a little thing like added 2* covers as rewards for individual PvP fights would affect rankings, but in fact these have a significant effect, since they serve to make the entire 2* tier of characters more accessible. When all the 2* characters are readily obtained, the better ones are more valuable since you're less likely to be waiting around for covers, and the worse ones are less valuable because there's no reason to play them when you can play someone better instead.

Shield hopping
The final thing affecting rankings was not a change in the game at all, but rather a new development in how top players were playing. As competition for top alliance rewards and top season rewards heated up, merely grinding as high as possible and then shielding was no longer good enough for #1. Players began to shield hop: get as high as possible, shield, wait until retaliations came in and you were no longer sitting in anyone's queue, fight a couple of times, reshield before you could get hit again, repeat as many times as necessary.

This method of play enabled dedicated players to get to previously unheard-of pvp scores, and rewards characters on offense that can do as much damage as possible as quickly as possible; taking damage doesn't matter since shields are going up immediately after key fights so there's plenty of time to use health packs or prologue heal. On defense, characters who can outright win were best, but a close second is characters who take a long time to fight — long fights are dangerous to an unshielded player, and there's a good chance he passes up your team in favor of one he can dispatch more quickly and safely.


  • mischiefmaker
    mischiefmaker Posts: 932
    edited June 2014
    As usual, it's important to note that many characters are unchanged since our last round of rankings. As such, we encourage people to read through previous rankings first — information that hasn't changed, such as build recommendations, won't be reproduced here.

    Previous rankings:
    Round 1
    Round 2

    In one of the teaser posts from the voting thread, I mentioned this new visualization:


    This is a heat map showing the concentration of votes for every character. Yellow indicates a low number of votes, orange a medium number of votes, and red a high number of votes. Looking at the data from this perspective, what we can see is that most of the red is gathered at the corners — that is, our voters generally agreed on who was the best and who was the worst, but in the middle there was a lot of disagreement on exact placement.

    Lastly, since there are many characters who've been around and unchanged for so long, instead of trying to rehash what we've already said (twice), for some characters we've included a meme, just for fun.

    Hope you enjoy this edition of the rankings! Here are our tiers and our final rankings, which will be updated as we reveal more characters.

    37-41: Waste of space
    30-36: Barely playable
    25-29: You could do better
    19-24: One piece of the puzzle
    18: Um...what?
    12-17: Just missed the cut
    6-11: Pillars of your roster
    1-5: Best There Is

    Final rankings:
    1. Magneto (classic)
    2. ***Thor
    3. Wolverine (Patch)
    4. Punisher
    5. ***Daken
    6. Black Panther
    7. Black Widow (original)
    8. The Hood
    9. Hulk
    10. ***Captain America
    11. Sentry
    12. Human Torch
    13. Psylocke
    14. Ares
    15. Falcon
    16. Black Widow (grey)
    17. Thor
    18. Spider Man
    19. Doctor Doom
    20. Storm (classic)
    21. Iron Man (Model 40)
    22. Wolverine (yellow)
    23. Storm (modern)
    24. Magneto (Marvel Now)
    25. Ragnarok
    26. Daken
    27. Invisible Woman
    28. Loki
    29. Captain America
    30. Daredevil
    31. Wolverine (X-Force)
    32. Black Widow (Modern)
    33. Hawkeye (modern)
    34. Moonstone
    35. Iron Man (Model 35)
    36. Juggernaut
    37. Bullseye
    38. Venom
    39. Hawkeye (classic)
    40. Bag Man
    41. Yelena Belova
  • mischiefmaker
    mischiefmaker Posts: 932
    edited June 2014
    The very bottom of the barrel, these guys aren't even worth keeping around for tanking purposes; you're better off selling them and holding on to the roster spot or hero points to improve your other characters.

    41. Yelena Belova, +0

    Let's put it this way: I'm one of those guys that likes collecting things. I have an extra copy of more than one character. And even I haven't kept Yelena around. So we have to ask:


    40. Bag Man, +0

    I've come a long way since I first laid eyes on The Bag, way back in the early Prologue chapters. I understand a lot of game mechanics that used to confound me. But I still don't know the answer to the great mystery:


    Actually, his yellow power isn't terrible at dealing with countdowns, but that's about it.

    39. Hawkeye (classic), +0


    38. Venom, -2


    It's definitely a gimmick, but maybe it's crazy enough to work: Spider Man throws out defense tiles on purple, which an L4 Venom can convert to web tiles fairly efficiently. Once you get a couple on board, Spidey blue becomes very playable, and between the defense tiles and the stun, maybe you can prolong the match long enough to get 6 web tiles for some nom noms.

    If the structure of the game were such that you actually had to play your whole roster, I'd at least be willing to give it a try. As it is, though, there's really no reason to keep Venom around now that they don't seem to be running 1* tournaments any more.

    37. Bullseye, +1


    Yeah, sometimes I forget too.

    Since our last round of rankings, Bullseye has lost his dubious distinction of never having been buffed, but even in the events where he was buffed, he still wasn't playable — he really needs to be level 100 or so before the protect tiles provide any meaningful defense, and you still need an outlet for that purple to actually win the fight.
  • mischiefmaker
    mischiefmaker Posts: 932
    edited June 2014
    36. Juggernaut, -3


    I have to say, I'm really surprised by how low Juggernaut ranked here (also, hey, I remembered I'm a dog person, not a cat person). Don't get me wrong, he's definitely not great or anything, but 183 damage per AP on a cheap red power is nothing to sneeze at, and he's got health that compares favorably to many of the 2* heroes. In addition, Unstoppable Crash is highly underrated for cascade potential — initial testing indicates it generates an average of around 5 AP per cast, which is very strong.

    I'd definitely put him above, say...

    35. Iron Man (Model 35), +0

    I stared at this blank space for several minutes before giving up on having anything new to say about IM35. I couldn't even come up with a meme. Let's just move on.

    34. Moonstone, +0

    This character has always felt incomplete to me. You know how sometimes it seems like some characters weren't playtested enough, because they're either too good, or so so bad? Moonstone feels like someone came up with a bunch of interesting concepts and got released before they were really polished. In particular, I just can't figure out why Gravity Warp (which was actually changed once already) has such a huge swing in effect; it can be decent or literally worse than Bag Man's worst power. Maybe this guy can explain:


    Maybe not.

    33. Hawkeye (modern), -3


    Seriously, if they would just let Hawkeye place his countdown tiles instead of putting them in random places, that'd probably be enough to make him playable in the 2* range.

    32. Black Widow (Modern), -1

    Much like Juggernaut, mBW feels underrated here. Sure, she's got absurdly low health, and doesn't pack enough offensive punch to be worth playing in PvP. But with the Spider Man nerf, when it comes to taking out one specific character, this lowly 1* now has the best stun in the game — sure, it doesn't do damage like Storm's blue or return AP like Captain America's, but it stuns the whole team, is cheaper than both, and lasts longer.

    If you're looking at a PvE node where taking out one character early might make the difference (say a high-level Daken or a goon fueling multiple powers), give her a try. You might be surprised at how effective she is even on a roster full of 3* characters.

    31. Wolverine (X-Force), +6


    I really can't fathom why XForce had by far the biggest gain on the list when he hasn't changed at all, and there's now several characters with better red and green powers.

    30. Daredevil, +2

    Still easily the worst 3* on the list, Daredevil's powers suffer from the same problem as countdown tiles; namely, that you don't get the effect now, but at some later point. This means that while you can cast the powers multiple times in a turn, you still have to give control back to your opponent before they can trigger; when your opponent has control, only bad things can happen.

    His powers are even worse than countdown tiles, though, because they're not even guaranteed to trigger! Most people who have fought Daredevil know the feeling: it's easy to avoid 2-3 tiles if you just remember what colors not to match, and if he gets off more than that, he doesn't have enough health to stand up to a direct assault.

    Last time I said I thought it might be fun to play an OBW/Hood/Daredevil all-troll team — well, I did, and I'm here to tell you it's absolutely terrible. Unbelievably slow and boring on offense (match...match...match...cast trap...wait...match...match...zzzzzzzzz), and just a disaster on defense. You might as well hang out a sign that says "Free Points Here".

    One thing to note, though, is that Daredevil getting out 5-6 traps, especially when more than one of them is an Ambush, is a very dangerous situation to be in. If you're fighting against a Daredevil and there are higher priority targets, you should either have a plan for clearing traps (Daken is probably the best option, but anything that overwrites a lot of red tiles or shatters random tiles will work), or consider taking him down a little earlier than you otherwise might.
  • mischiefmaker
    mischiefmaker Posts: 932
    edited June 2014
    The characters in this group aren't terrible; each has some niche utility. But in general you're better off focusing your efforts on improving better characters.

    29. Captain America, +0


    The 3* gold Captain America proved that his abilities are quite powerful; the problem is that the 2* version's numbers are way too low. Take a look at how powers scaled between 2* and 3* versions (all numbers at max covers/level):
                      2*      3*      Ratio
    Thor red          1011    1817    1.8
    Thor yellow       723     2121    2.9
    Thor green        1001    1927    1.9
    Cap yellow        150     289     1.9
    Cap red           614	  3439    5.6
    Daken purple  	 24	   57      2.4
    Anything stand out to you there? Cap's red is clearly an outlier, which means either his 3* power is way overpowered or his 2* version is way underpowered (or a little bit of both). I know which way I'd vote -- as it stands, his 2* red is pretty unusable, except against pve goons that can't fight back. Doubling or even tripling the damage would make him eminently playable in the 2* range without making him overpowered, which would be great for PvP diversity.

    28. Loki, +0


    One interesting wrinkle about Loki is that Illusions plays nicely with the characters that generate tiles in predictable patterns, like Sentry's World Rupture or Human Torch's Inferno. Normally, if you have enough to cast the other power twice, you generally can't for quite some time because the tiles will stay occupied for a while. But with Loki around, you can cast the power, cast Illusions to move them around, and then immediately drop the power again.

    Not a great reason to bring him along, but hey, it's something.

    27. Invisible Woman, +0


    walkyourpath, who's forgotten more about MPQ than most of us know, says IW is actually quite playable, albeit slow -- once you can get the protect tile from force bubbles out, you're not taking any more damage, and crushing those bubbles should provide you with all the AP you need to finish the game. So she's probably underrated here, but with the ISO investment required to get her to a decent level, it's not likely we'll be seeing too many more any time soon.

    26. Daken, -1

    2* Daken really suffered from the change awarding 2* covers as random PvP fight rewards. It's not that he's bad, at least not in the same way as his Dark Avenger teammates Moonstone and Bullseye; it's just that when Thor and Ares covers are in plentiful supply, why bother with Daken?

    Sure, he regenerates very well, which is nice for sustainability, but if you're in the 2* range you likely need to be shielding for top placements, so sustainability isn't as much of a concern -- you really want guys with high health that can do damage in a hurry, neither of which apply to Daken.

    If the structure of the game were to change such that 2* rosters could compete against other 2* rosters, he'd be a lot more viable -- everyone in the 2* range wants green, and getting strike tiles every time anyone matches green is a strong ability. In the current meta, though, he really needs a direct damage power to be usable.

    25. Ragnarok, +1


    I'm being serious here -- 3* Thor's introduction provides a perfect pairing for Ragnarok. A Ragnarok/Thor combination gives you direct damage powers on red and yellow that both lead to green; having 12 red and 12 yellow, or 6 red/12 yellow/25 desert are generally enough to end the game. That's not cheap, but it's not that expensive either, especially when you consider that both have enough health to take a few hits.

    Unfortunately, with his wacky tile damage scaling and an utterly unplayable but cheap green power, he's completely awful on defense, and the change to the lightning rounds takes him away as an option for getting powerful Hood/Magneto covers.
  • mischiefmaker
    mischiefmaker Posts: 932
    edited June 2014
    Characters in this range are best used as half of a strong combo, but are generally not good enough to stand on their own or flexible enough to pair with more characters.

    24. Magneto (Marvel Now), -1


    In the 2* range you'll see a lot of MMN-CStorm teams, which are quite strong, especially with boosts. Using just the +3 blue/purple AP boost, which is cheap enough to use every match and come out almost ISO-neutral, you're looking at two purple matches before you can unleash Wind Storm. That's awfully fast, and while it won't win you the match, against 2* teams it can take a big chunk out of the support characters and put the primary tank on ice for quite a few turns. With a strike tile generator and a little luck, you can take on teams quite a bit stronger than yourself.

    The problem is that without a useful Spider Man, MMN really has no utility beyond being a partner for CStorm. There aren't any other blue powers at the 2* level strong enough to be worth bringing along a character whose primary purpose is to power it, and at the 3* level the only blue power worth playing belongs to Magneto, so he's a dead end when it comes to transitioning to 3* characters.

    23. Storm (modern), -1


    It'll be interesting to see how the 3* version plays. So far, she seems underwhelming, but that's a topic for the next round of rankings.

    22. Wolverine (yellow), -1

    It's surprising that Wolverine hasn't fallen even farther; it seems that most 2* teams these days are built around Thor, Ares, and OBW. Much like Daken before him, Wolverine suffers from the high availability of other, superior 2* characters. When many players can freely choose between Wolverine and Thor/Ares, well, that's not really much of a choice at all.

    That being said, Wolverine does get buffed fairly regularly for PvE tournaments, so putting ISO into him isn't a total waste.

    21. Iron Man (Model 40), -1


    Poor IM40, who's been called slow, unplayable, and is the poster child for underpowered abilities (compare Ballistic Salvo to Wind Storm, for example, or Unibeam to Fireball), quietly holds one of the best yellow powers in the game. The trick is to keep it at level 1 -- sure, you're giving up 23 levels of health and tile damage, but red/blue/yellow are all common colors, so the difference should be minimal, and let's face it, another 2k health isn't going to keep people from attacking you.

    On offense, though, level 1 Recharge is a beast of a power. Think about how many great red powers there are in the top tier -- L1 Recharge fuels them all. Getting off a Best There Is, double Psychic Knife, double Mjonir's Might, double Fireball, or Star Spangled Avenger in the first 6-7 turns can very well decide the game.

    L2 Recharge isn't bad for fueling Magneto (where 9 blue without having to match any can very well end the game) or Captain America (kickstarting the stun lock), but it's a fair bit slower than L1 and blue isn't nearly as strong of a color as red any more.

    Fun fact: Model 40 has had more featured tournaments (6) than any other character, and has been buffed more times (11) overall than any other character.

    20. Storm (classic), +1


    As early as our first set of rankings, we said that there's really no reason to go anything but 5/5/3, and while that's still the easy recommendation for players in the 2* range who rely on Storm for PvP, there's a decent case to be made that as you transition to 3* and Storm becomes more of a niche PvE player, that 4/4/5 is actually a better build. Food for thought.

    19. Doctor Doom, +0

    Mr. von Doom looks great on paper: a black power that dishes out 1k damage per turn and a blue power that accelerates the black, with a good deal of health and tile damage on colors generally given to lower-health characters. The problem is that it doesn't quite hold up in practice: 9 blue is enough that by the time you collect it, there may not be much left on the board, and 12 black is even slower than it sounds because you really want to eliminate available red matches so that your attack tiles stick around long enough to do some serious damage.

    Throw in the introduction of three new characters that affect red tiles (Daken will likely claim many of them with strike tiles, Torch and Sentry both shatter red), and the significant overhaul to lightning rounds, and there's just not very many places where you'd really want to play Doom. He's worth considering as a black-generating partner for Black Panther, but that's an awfully small niche.
  • mischiefmaker
    mischiefmaker Posts: 932
    edited June 2014
    Our mystery #18 is finally revealed!

    18. Spider-Man


    What you're looking at here is a histogram showing the number of votes that Spidey got at each position -- of the 41 possible positions, he got at least one vote at an almost unbelievable 35 of them. Basically, as a group we threw our collective hands in the air and said that we have no idea how to rank this guy right now.

    The average looks about right though; perhaps it's a touch high, but in the right ballpark. Score one for the wisdom of crowds! Previously feared for his gamebreaking blue, locking down teams on defense, and his ability to make any team infinitely sustainable on offense, the new-look Spider Man plays completely differently. On defense, the color you want to prevent is purple, since a single purple match will cut off most of your match-damage. That really adds up, especially if there's a lower-health character you need to take out quickly.

    It's the same story on offense; you really want to match a purple or two early to reduce match damage to near nothing, and then you need that purple to accelerate you quickly to end-game. For that reason, Spidey's new best friend is Black Widow, either grey suit (purple to green to sniper rifle, boom headshot) or original (steal all the AP to fuel your third character). Without one of them:


    His other powers are significantly worse; yellow is decent, but barely better than OBW's heal, and his blue is just too slow and weak to be of any use at all. There's a possibility it's playable with help -- either a blue AP-supplying character (IM40/MMN) or a web tile generator (Venom), but that's two characters with limited offensive capabilities and very little defensive scare factor.

    Recommended build: if you're planning to use him just for the occasional heal, 5/3/5 is the way to go since you're not going to want to collect 15 blue just to get an extra 900 heal. That being said, 5/3/5 basically makes blue completely useless. If you have any intention of actually playing him, you probably want to go 3/5/5.
  • mischiefmaker
    mischiefmaker Posts: 932
    edited June 2014
    These are very good characters that can play a significant role in a competitive roster; their only failing is that they're just not quite as good as some of the better characters.

    17. Thor, -1


    A bit of a clarification on the last edition's writeup: 3/5/5 is definitely the best build for those who are playing with and against 2* rosters, since Call the Storm is quite strong. Once you transition to 3* characters, though, 5/5/3 is a better choice, since you'll have better outlets for the green.

    16. Black Widow (grey), -1


    Speaking of Call the Storm, everyone loves the 3* version, with many putting it in the "game over" category. I don't think it's quite that strong -- against the AI you can often get the bulk of the damage to land somewhere that doesn't cripple you and then heal the remaining damage -- but there's no doubt that it's a premier ability.

    So why no love for Sniper Rifle, which does about as much damage to a single target when factoring in tile damage, nearly twice as much to the secondary targets, deals with enemy special tiles, and generates nearly 9 AP on average in cascades? I mean, sure, BWGS is still totally useless on defense, with her purple often helping your opponent collect green and her green all but impossible to get off, but if we're talking about game-ending abilities, her green has to be up there with the best of the best.

    15. Falcon, new to the list


    At last, the first newbie to the list! Falcon landed (hehe) a very solid #15, primarily on the basis of his yellow power, which can be one of the fastest in the game when paired with someone who makes cheap strike tiles. At max level, with only strike tiles on board, you're looking at generating 225 in strike tiles for each yellow match, which is easily the best in the game (L5 Patch does 296 per 3 AP, but takes longer and of course generates tiles for the opponent).

    His other powers aren't bad either: blue is nice for cleaning out hard-to-reach special tiles, especially against characters with extremely strong single tiles (IW, Cap, Sentry, Fury), and purple removes all match damage and is extremely annoying to play against, especially if it manages to take up space on tiles of a color you need to place specials on.

    Since Falcon plays best with cheap, plentiful strike tiles, his best buddy is Daken, and he makes for an excellent transition character, since many of the most popular 3*s rely on strike tiles as well (spoiler alert: Patch, Punisher, and Daken do not suck). One thing to keep in mind on offense is that you may not want to cast his purple at all -- putting that many protect tiles on board means you're protected from damage, but it makes his yellow much less likely to buff strike tiles, which slows you down considerably.

    Recommended build: 5/5/3 -- getting a turn off the countdown makes a pretty big difference for those times that you can't match the countdown right away, and you're going to get full protection from match damage at L3. Increasing purple is more annoying on defense, but Falcon's health is so low that you're probably not going to deter attackers, and at 12 purple it's not that easy for the AI to get off a Bird Strike anyway.

    5/3/5 is also a potential for consideration, so that Redwing doesn't target countdowns -- this makes Falcon a much more potent counter for Sentry, since eating up a single World Rupture tile has negligible effect, but taking away the Sacrifice tile is a big deal.

    14. Ares, +3


    Tied for the second biggest climb in the rankings, Ares finally gets his due as the best 2* tank in the game. Sure, Thor doesn't damage himself the way Ares does, but Thor also doesn't get going nearly as quickly, with Ares' green able to knock out dangerous low-health targets quickly and his yellow packing a two-stage punch that can put a serious dent even in 3* character health.

    Thor plays better as a transition character, though, since Thor's best power, yellow, can fuel powerful 3* green powers, while Ares' best power, green, gets overshadowed at the 3* level by better abilities. His yellow still plays pretty well, though, and you'll find 3* rosters who don't like going up against Ares just because a quick 2 green matches means someone's taking about a thousand damage or so. That's not crippling, but it does add up.

    Fun fact: Ares is the only Dark Avenger who has never had a line of dialogue in a PvE cutscene.

    13. Psylocke, +3


    All right, I'm just going to come out and say it -- I'm continually baffled by why Psylocke keeps getting ranked so far below Punisher. If we compare power for power:

    - his green generates more strike tiles, but her red does more direct damage, and gets cheaper with more tiles on board. Only having one tile is a major downside, but multiple casts of his green have less marginal benefit than multiple casts of her red. Advantage: Punisher, but it's closer than people think.
    - her black does more damage to a single target up front, guarantees attack tile damage immediately, and is quicker to get off. Advantage: Psylocke, and it's not as close as people think.
    - his red is mediocre; in the current PvE format, you'll rarely need to use the auto-kill option, which makes it a run-of-the-mill direct damage power. Her blue is more or less terrible -- you can build a team around it to make it marginally playable, and every once in a while you'll get something good out of it (like 12 black AP), but it's not something you want to rely on. Advantage: Punisher.

    Looking at just the powers, it's clear Punisher comes out ahead, but not by much. The kicker is, Psylocke plays significantly better with most of the top characters, because she doesn't compete for green, and as such makes a much better sidekick for a top-tier team.

    All that being said, I actually think she's around where she should be (I had her at #11 personally), and I'm pleased to see her rising in the rankings; I just think Li'lbunny should be down around here too. I'd love to hear from someone who plays him regularly defending his position.

    12. Human Torch, new to the list


    Burn, baby, burn! Human Torch is a bit tough to rank because there have been so few events giving out his covers; as a result it's fairly rare to see Torch on high-level teams, and most people haven't had a chance to see him in action.

    That being said, he definitely looks like a high-ranking character. His red packs a wallop, and smashing two tiles means you can get off two with just 14 AP, doing 5k+ damage in two shots. That puts it on par with Best There Is (which has higher variance in potential damage, but also puts it all in one place), and that's saying quite a bit.

    Black is similarly strong; it only places tiles in a predictable ring, which means that you won't always get all 8, and it's likely one or two will get matched pretty soon. But even if you only get 5, a worst-case situation that's about as good as Doom's black is pretty good. The AP drain on your other powers isn't the best, but easy to work around: just construct your team without expensive yellow/purple/blue powers, so that if you have any AP, you can either cast it before Inferno, or only have to lose 1-2.

    Finally, there's green, which is deceptively cheap, but you really want to wait until you have at least 8-9 AP before you drop your first one, so that you're getting several hundred damage for multiple turns out of it, instead of one or two turns of almost negligible damage. In the desert, this is a monster ability -- you can often drop two, and when they're hitting for 800 apiece, that tends to end games in a hurry.

    Much has been said about his failings on defense, but I tend to think they're overblown. A Torch/OBW/Hood team, for example, is quite scary on defense; Torch can put a big dent in your team before you can get rolling, and can continue to dish out the hurt even after he's downed thanks to the black attack tiles sticking around.

    As mentioned, Torch plays great with AP stealers, who help him ramp up in a hurry and then keep his green engine going. But he's also a monster with strike tiles, because the strike tiles can potentially do quadruple or even quintuple duty (match damage, attack tiles, two flame jets, espionage).

    If I had the covers, I'd love to try out a Daken/Torch/OBW team, which I think would be a ton of fun on offense and surprisingly nasty on defense. Hopefully it'll be better than the Daredevil/Hood/OBW train wreck I suggested last time.

    Recommended build: I'm not sure there's a bad way to go, but if I could choose I'd probably go 5/3/5. L3 black still packs a punch, and I find it takes too much babysitting for my taste (clear out special/env tiles in the middle, get enough blue/purple/yellow to not feel like you're wasting it, etc.). That being said, green is a powerhouse color, so given that you're likely to have someone else on the team who can put green to use, I wouldn't hate on 5/5/3 or 5/4/4, and they might be better defensive builds since the attack tiles stay after Torch is down while the green countdowns go away. Not having had much test driving experience, at this point I'd say just roll with whatever covers you get.
  • mischiefmaker
    mischiefmaker Posts: 932
    edited June 2014
    Characters in this tier are highly valuable targets for investing hero points and ISO; they are either very powerful main characters that can be built around or flexible support characters that play well with almost anyone.

    11. Sentry, new to the list

    In a couple of months, after a few more rounds of his covers have been given out, I think we'll all look back on this round of rankings and laugh at our silliness. Sentry at #11, we'll say, what were we thinking? Sentry and Torch might be the only two characters in the game with 3 premier powers (Thor comes close, but his red isn't good enough), but the difference is that while Torch's powers do significant damage, Sentry's are game-ending.

    Let's start with red, which at max level does something like 3k damage to the entire enemy team; that's pretty close to Sniper Rifle and Call the Storm, which are both premier area damage abilities. It does end the turn, sure, but that might actually be a bonus when you look at his green, which drops around 1.5k damage after accounting for tiles that don't get placed or get matched before they go off -- ending the turn means you're one turn closer to have your World Rupture tiles hit. Finally, there's Sacrifice, which puts down the biggest strike tile in the game, and triggers off each independent World Rupture tile, so has the potential to rock 7-8k damage very early in the game.

    Oh yeah, and he also has premier-level health, so if you think that Thor's 14 AP Call the Storm is likely to get off before you can kill him, how often do you think you'll be eating a World Rupture? Probably all the time, right? And when both World Rupture and Sacrifice are ready?


    You'll notice that so far there's been no mention of the most significant drawback to his powers, which is obviously that they damage your own team, and in a fairly sizeable way. But this doesn't matter on defense, so Sentry is just about custom-designed for the shield-hopping set: play Sentry a couple of times, shield up, gain points from defensive wins, use health packs, wait for retaliations to clear out, rinse, repeat.

    Recommended build: 3/5/5. If you're only going to play him with Daken, then a 5/5/3 build might make sense -- L3 yellow and the strike tiles you get on green are probably enough to wipe out the entire team on a World Rupture, and you also get a decent bump in red damage with a reduction in team damage. But I'd prefer to have the flexibility to play him with whomever I like -- a 3/5/5 build means World Rupture+Sacrifice will deal somewhere in the neighborhood of 7k damage or more, which is just about guaranteed to end the game, no other strike tile generator required.

    10. ***Captain America, new to the list

    Starting our top ten is the new and improved 3* version of Captain America, who's almost exactly the same as his much-maligned 2* version, just with bigger numbers across the board and a protect tile on blue that's a nice cherry on top of a delicious power sundae.

    Really? "power sundae"? Who writes this stuff? icon_rolleyes.gif

    Many people put Cap's new-look red in the "game over" category, and on offense it's hard to disagree -- doing 3.4k damage every three turns is tough for even the hardiest characters to stand up to. His blue isn't quite as powerful, but it's a good option for locking down an opposing power long enough to hit him in the face with your shield or hope that another character on his team uses up his AP with an inferior power. The protect tile is very strong, but if you're playing him right, by the time you get one, the game will be more or less over already, because you've been prioritizing red.

    Yellow has huge numbers on it, but in practice it's almost completely useless, as you're not going to prioritize yellow, so will rarely have 19, and if you do, you'll have taken a bunch of damage already.


    The biggest problem with Cap is that on defense he is slooooowwww. 12 AP is a huge number for an AI that doesn't focus on one particular color, and virtually every popular character in the meta right now has a red power (Patch, Punisher, Hulk, Thor, Magneto, Sentry), so it's unreliable to boot. And if that weren't enough, on the off chance he does manage to cast his red, he puts the red tile in a random place, which is usually an invitation to get matched.

    As a result, his best use is still PvE events, especially against goons, where his ability to overwrite countdown tiles while doing massive damage on red plus his ability to take out multiple countdowns with blue (overwrite one, stall others) are both very valuable. He's also great for taking down Hulk, since he can either stun to prevent Anger or overwrite the Anger tile as necessary.

    Cap's two best buddies are Hood and IM40, who both greatly accelerate the time it takes to get to 12 red (and 12 blue, if you have L2 Recharge); Hood's Intimidate plays great with Cap too, enabling 4 or even 6 consecutive turns of stun and accelerating the endgame once you get your first red off. Just make sure you cast all your red and blue before using black!

    Recommended build: I can't see an argument for anything other than 3/5/5.

    9. Hulk, +0


    Still the reigning champion when it comes to health and the premier counter for strike tiles, Hulk has been weakened a bit by all the strong direct damage powers; when you can down him with two or three shots, Anger just isn't that scary, especially when you're almost certain to be able to use the green he generates to fuel those big hits.

    That being said, Hulk finds a place in many rosters just due to how long it takes to build up the AP to take him down safely; long games are always dangerous, both because you're unshielded and because it increases the risk of the AI getting a big cascade. Being the premier (only) counter to strike tiles, which are the best ability in the game, is a valuable commodity too. He's still mostly useless on offense, though, except as a green-generating partner for Sentry or Patch.

    When attacking Hulk, you need to make sure that you don't accidentally trigger Anger more than once -- twice might be ok on a green-starved board, but three or more times and you're asking for a whole heap of trouble. For that reason, I suspect Hulk will be a bit more prominent after the Magneto nerf lands. As it stands it's often safe to go Berserker Rage or Judgment as long as you have blue and red charged up and ready to spam Hulk to death, but without that safety net, you run the risk of triggering Anger every turn, and any cascade has a serious risk of generating 10 or more green, which can mean the end of the game for you.

    8. The Hood, +2


    The Hood keeps climbing, and it's no wonder -- with the introduction of multiple new characters that have expensive but hard-hitting powers and the removal of Spider Man as a consistent and cheap source of stun, Parker Robbins is now the best way to both ward off enemy powers as well as accelerate your own.

    On defense, he'll usually be the first one targeted, but that's ok, because while he's still up he'll be fueling your other characters. And even if he weren't, adding another 4k health to a guy who can already take a few licks and still deliver a knockout blow, like Thor or Sentry, is plenty strong.

    On offense, his low health is a liability for those who like to play for long stretches, because there aren't a whole lot of characters whose primary color is yellow, so you'll have to choose between keeping Hood underleveled, which makes him a much more attractive target on defense, or having Hood tank at least one and likely two colors, which means munching through health packs.

    OBW and Hood make an excellent pairing -- Hood provides a consistent AP drain, and OBW is there to clean up after any cascades or a Thorned Rose plus provides the heal you need to keep a Hood team running. Do keep in mind that your third character has to pack a serious punch, and ideally has a lot of health, because you're in for serious bad times if that character gets downed. That goes double on defense; you want to make sure any would-be attackers are stuck with the hard choice of having to plow through Hood and OBW's combined 7k health or take on your primary damage dealer while both Hood and OBW are fueling him.

    When playing against a Hood, your best options are either your own Hood (they basically cancel out), or to focus on a quick cheap source of damage. Psylocke's black is the best example here, but Daken's strike tiles, especially followed by a Chemical Reaction, are a great option too.

    We continue to recommend a 5/5/3 build as it's the most flexible, but those who want to run a Sentry/Hood pairing (one of the fastest in the game on offense, and pretty solid on defense too) might consider 3/5/5, so that Intimidate affects all the World Rupture tiles at once.

    7. Black Widow (original), +1

    The increased emphasis on denying AP to prevent game-ending powers also helped improve OBW's standing, who remains the only 2* in the top ten. I've seen plenty of people arguing that she isn't overpowered, because she has low health and it's easy to defeat her on defense by denying purple. To that, all I can say is:


    6. Black Panther, +0

    Falling just short of a coveted top 5 position is Black Panther, who's kind of a one-trick pony. But when your one trick, Rage of the Panther, is "win the game", well, that's a pretty neat trick, especially when it comes paired with a robust 7k health pool that's built to take a few shots and still punch back.

    After playing with him a bit more, yellow and blue are both weaker than I thought, which is pretty bad -- if you can't generate criticals, yellow usually creates only one tile, which isn't the worst use of 9 yellow AP, but it's not exactly a power you'd like to rely on, either. If you can generate critical tiles, yellow could be very strong, but if you can generate critical tiles on environment, you're probably better off playing in the jungle/desert all the time and just using those powers. As more yellow powers come into the game, I suspect this one will look worse and worse; right now it's only playable because only Thor, Sentry, and IM40 have useful ones at the high end.

    As for blue, the less said the better -- it's really only useful if the game goes a long, long time, and that's never a good overall strategy.
  • mischiefmaker
    mischiefmaker Posts: 932
    edited June 2014
    These characters represent the best of the best. Just one of them is usually enough to provide a strong stabilizing presence in your roster. Combining two (or more, when the situation allows for it) of them together? Fugeddaboutit.

    5. ***Daken, new to the list


    Most of us predicted that a 3* Daken would be nasty, and Wolverine's boy does not disappoint. His purple power, easily his best, is up there with the premier strike tile generators in the game; creating 114 damage in strike tiles on every green match gets you hitting for big damage earlier than anyone else while also letting you stockpile green, which is clearly the best color in the game right now.

    Black is very strong as well, though since it triggers heat at one higher count than his 2* version and uses more desirable blue tiles instead of yellow, isn't quite as reliable of a heal. It's still consistent enough to provide serious sustainability for anyone looking to grind for long periods of time without running out of health packs, though.

    If he'd just had these two buffed up versions of his 2* powers, Daken would probably still be top 10, but his blue helps put him over the top. As we discussed in the 2* entry, Daken's main weakness is that he doesn't have a direct damage power, so while he's excellent at increasing damage over time, he doesn't have a good way to deal with dangerous support characters quickly or take out a character with a charged power, and he doesn't benefit from boosts at all. Enter Chemical Reaction, which at 5 AP is cheap enough to spam and does a healthy 2k or so damage, typically enough to close out a character weakened by repeated strike tile-enhanced match-3's.

    Chemical Reaction's drawback of taking out the strike tiles, however, means that you generally want to use it as a finisher; since it does around 2k damage and removes about 200 damage in strike tiles, you need to either be getting serious benefit from it now or be sure the game isn't going to go more than 10 turns.

    Daken has many useful interactions with other characters worth mentioning -- as noted already, a Falcon/Daken pairing is very fast and an excellent pairing for long climbs up the ratings, and Daken is a great way to take out an opposing Hood, since he ramps up damage quickly without needing AP and can usually scrape up the 5 blue AP needed to knock him out.

    Patch is worth mentioning here too; between the two of them, they tank every color except blue, providing excellent regenerative capabilities for long grinds, and green both generates Daken tiles and builds to Patch tiles, which you can be a bit more cavalier about casting since you should be able to self-heal much of the damage caused by the opposing strike tiles. A fun tactic once you get your Patch tiles down is to start matching tiles not based on what AP you need but rather on who has less health -- put Daken in the middle and match red/green/yellow if Daken needs healing and black/purple/environment if Patch has been taking most of the damage. Just make sure you use Chemical Reaction before Berserker Rage so that it takes out the much weaker Daken tiles!

    Finally, a word about Magneto (both versions, but mostly classic) -- he's a bad pairing for Daken on offense and a good counter against opposing Dakens, because you can quickly match blue and then place blue tiles in such a way as to suck up all the blue on board, shutting off Daken's heal and making him take a fair bit of damage every turn. However, you should feel fine about attacking a Magneto with Daken, since an AI-Magneto will actually help Daken heal by placing blue tiles in random locations.

    Recommended build: You really need 5-purple, and the rest is a matter of personal preference. I tend to think 4 is all you need in black, especially once the Magneto change comes down, but I could see wanting 5 for the ultra-conservative; similarly, I like the increased damage for 5 blue, but don't think you heal quite enough at 3 black. So mine is 5/4/4, but really any of the three are quite viable and similar enough that it probably doesn't make a whole lot of difference.

    4. Punisher, +2


    I discussed this extensively in the Psylocke entry but I really don't see why Punisher ranks this highly -- yes, he has a premier ability in green, but his other powers, while useful, aren't that great. The biggest knock on him is that he really needs green to be effective, but while his green is good, it's clearly not as good as Thor, Patch, or Sentry's green, so you're either not playing with three of the best characters in the game or you're bringing Punisher along just for his black, which is a pretty weak use of a character slot.

    Punisher does play quite nicely with Daken, though: green can rapidly create an overwhelming number of strike tiles, making Molotov Cocktail a much more powerful ability for the cost, and then his red comes into play as a quick finisher. He's also an excellent pairing for OBW, though this combo is very weak on defense, and for Magneto, who can either spam opponents to death with red and blue, or use blue to create a critical early on environment tiles, which Punisher then takes full advantage of to jumpstart AP generation, having the best crit/env multiplier in the game (4 env tile AP, 4x crit multiplier).

    Last time we recommended 3/5/5 as the best build for Punisher, but 5/5/3 might be better for PvP -- getting that attack tile on board really increases damage output once you're flush with strike tiles, and unless you're triggering ridiculously high PvE scaling, you likely won't be using the auto-kill function of red that much. That means best case you're looking at taking down a Thor/Sentry/Hulk 1k health earlier, which isn't much when you're sitting on 5-600 damage's worth of strike tiles.

    3. Wolverine (Patch), +1


    Speaking of strike tiles, there's nobody puts down more of them than perennial favorite Patch, who moves up a spot to #3 in this edition of the rankings. On the one hand this is a bit surprising, since he's lost one potential partner in Spider Man and there are a couple of new strong green powers belonging to characters that he doesn't play as well with.

    On the other hand, he's still an offensive force to be reckoned with, and is well-suited to multiple playstyles and situations -- his healing makes him a a great fit for those who prefer long play sessions and steady climbing, and his offensive firepower ends games quickly, which is well-suited to those who prefer shield-hopping, especially at the end of a tournament. And while he isn't the scariest defender around, the ability to throw down a bunch of strike tiles can be quite dangerous, resulting in the occasional defensive win or two and deterring attackers in the late hours of a tournament, when health packs are at a premium.

    I suspect he'll be hurt significantly by the Magneto change, but for now a Patch/Magneto combination is about the best combination of offensive speed, long session sustainability, and defensive capability as there is in the game.

    2. ***Thor, new to the list


    Huge health pool? Check.
    Monster damage powers? Check.
    Strong abilities in multiple powers? Check.

    What's not to like? The 3* gold incarnation of an already fairly powerful character saw increases across the board in damage output, putting Thor at #2 on our list because he's one of the few characters that can play equally well on offense and defense.

    On defense, he has enough health to take considerable damage and still survive; since you'll typically go after any support characters first, you really need one of the elite offensive combos to ensure that you can take him out before he gets enough for either Call the Storm (which is likely to down one character and do enough damage to require health packs for both the others) or Thunder Strike (which usually leads to Call the Storm plus a good 2.5k or so damage on top, gg no re). Add that his powers are easily playable by the AI and you have what is probably the most fearsome defender in the game

    On offense, while he isn't the fastest guy in the world, prioritizing yellow and going for Thunder Strike, paired with an accelerant like OBW, Hood, or Daken, tends to be fast enough. About the only thing that Thor doesn't do exceptionally well is sustainability, and even there he's pretty good, since he has enough health where you can safely go into matches down 2-3k and his tile colors allow him to tank for weaker teammates.

    Thor plays best with an AP stealer who can help get him to his high AP totals; this also helps dissuade attackers since it makes it more likely that they'll be eating one of his monster powers. When facing Thor, as mentioned, it's best to be bringing along massive firepower (think Patch/Magneto, Sentry/Hood, or your own Thor), or your own AP steal.

    Recommended build: Not much of a reason I can see not to go 3/5/5.

    1. Magneto (classic), +1


    What, you were expecting Bag Man? Magneto's game breaking abilities have been well-documented since the first set of rankings nearly six months ago, and though the end is near (last estimate said he might be changed as early as beginning of July), he's still an offensive wrecking ball, with the cheapest powers in the game, a self-sustaining blue, and one of the few useful purple powers anywhere. Enjoy it while you can, folks.

    One thing we didn't emphasize last time is that Magneto isn't just great because he vastly increases the damage output of strike tiles and allows for nearly infinite turns using red and blue; as if that weren't enough, he's also very good for getting AP in other colors. At L5, matching two blue lets you make multiple 4-ways for free, which can help pick up a critical extra AP or two to get enough for a power like Judgment; similarly, red generates about .6 matches on average so can also get you that last AP or two that you need.

    About his only weakness is that he has no defense scare power whatsoever -- he's not even particularly annoying since almost all the high-end characters have red powers, so he'll rarely be spamming his every turn. That being said, watch out for his purple; at 10 it's not unheard of for the AI to get one off relatively early, and at L5 it still packs a wallop, perhaps even enough to down an injured character.

    Recommended build: about the only must-have is L5 blue, which is such a massive upgrade on L4 that he'd probably be worth playing even if that was his only power. L5 red is outstanding on offense, both for spamming after strike tiles and for early board shake up to generate AP, but L4/5 purple is probably a bit better on defense since it might actually kill someone, and as mentioned, it's one of the few useful powers in the game so is handy on offense too. I've used all of 5/3/5, 5/4/4, and 5/5/3 builds fairly extensively, and at the end of the day I have a slight preference for 5/5/3 because of its unmatched speed and ability to prevent a bad board from ruining your day. Really, though, it's hard to go wrong with any of those.

    That wraps up this edition of the rankings! Thank you to everyone who participated in the voting, and a very special heartfelt thank you to those who offered to chip in for a SurveyMonkey subscription -- I'm honored, flattered, and humbled all at once by your generosity and am truly touched by your gestures of appreciation. Hope you enjoyed reading and see you next time!
  • i was so excited to see this tread just to see its empty after the first post :'(
  • Patience... mischiefmaker always releases the results in parts. icon_e_smile.gif can't wait to read the rest of the results and write-ups. Even if the thread hasn't been filled up yet, I salute you in advance, mischiefmaker, for what I know will be a good read! kudos to you!
  • over_clocked
    over_clocked Posts: 3,961
    I'm pretty sure that 37 (worst character) is Yelena and that 59 (best character) is classic Magneto.
  • locked wrote:
    I'm pretty sure that 37 (worst character) is Yelena and that 59 (best character) is classic Magneto.
    Other way round.

    Best was divided between CMags and LThor.

    Worst is Yelena, followed by friendly neighbourhood fantastic four-er.
  • over_clocked
    over_clocked Posts: 3,961
    How can there be more people disagreeing on Magneto being superior to the false god than people agreeing that Yelena is the bikini bottom star? Sad panda.
    Look at Magneto! He's regal, has a 'can't touch this' attitude and everything. Technically, of course, it's Thor who's regal and even godly, but meh, it's trifles.

    *bored to tears, waiting for the write up*
  • atomzed
    atomzed Posts: 1,753 Chairperson of the Boards
    Yeah, eagerly waiting for the results icon_e_smile.gif it looks great...

    I think we should have a quiz to get people to predict the number enigmatic 18 icon_e_smile.gif
  • atomzed wrote:
    Yeah, eagerly waiting for the results icon_e_smile.gif it looks great...

    I think we should have a quiz to get people to predict the number enigmatic 18 icon_e_smile.gif
  • Isay_Isay
    Isay_Isay Posts: 133 Tile Toppler


    Wow! It's a schooner!
  • Hah! Schooner?!? It's a sailboat you dumb son of a ****!

  • The wait is killing me! Can we get at least an ETA?
  • Kappei wrote:
    The wait is killing me! Can we get at least an ETA?

    ETA on post 1: 30 seconds ago!