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