With Season 12 (S12) recently commenced, and Playdom’s bomb with the nerf to the Vigilante Toolkit and the addition of the 6th Armory page with separate attack and defense slotting, everyone is scrambling to make sense of it all. Before S12 is fully on, I want to wrap-up Season 11 (S11) and introduce you to a new series that highlight some of the players/fans to the M:AA universe.
SEASON 11 WRAP-UP
S11 PvP Marvels: Avengers Alliance (M:AA) on Playdom.com has concluded with the top finisher ending with a rating of 3000. Congratulations on a lot of time (well) spent. (View stats of top 10 finishers, view Adamantium Rating list.)
Since I have been recording the PvP data from Season 8 onward, the rating climb has been an upward trend so far and it seems like it will continue. S11 saw some unusual occurrence with the zero attack bug that ranked several players in the top 10 for weeks. Also, I experienced some questionable defensive losses that I should not have lost more than once. So there does seem to be a possible hack on the client side for attacks that enable one-hit kills that should be impossible. For S12, I will have some evidence to confirm questionable losses.
PERSONALITIES FROM M:AA PLAYDOM.COM
I’m excited for this article as this is the start of a new column series that highlights the myriad of personalities in M:AA on Playdom.com. So not necessarily putting a face to a name, but partially pulling back the curtains to some of the anonymous names that we see either in the chat, on the boards, or in PvP.
Today I have an opportunity to discuss the S11 with a top 10 finisher, and update some of the data from this guide, The Best of the Best – Agent Wanderer Speaks (The Guide).
OYG: First, let’s have a little a bit of history of who you are, where are you from. What is your nationality?
Agent X: I was a top 10 finisher during Season 11. I’m remaining anonymous to some extent due to various circumstances. I’m from the southwestern US(A).
OYG: How many seasons have you been playing?
Agent X: I began in season 2.
OYG: Is this your first time to finish in the top 10?
Agent X: Yes.
OYG: If not your first time, what were your other rankings?
Agent X: Well in the previous four seasons (because that’s all the history will show on the tournament page) I’ve ranked 13th, 42nd, 49th and 30th.
OYG: Did you achieve any personal goals?
Agent X: I did. My personal goal was to get on the top 10 at least once to prove to myself I could make it.
OYG: Before we get into more specifics, in a few sentences, give your thoughts about the S11 that just expired.
Agent X: S11 had to have been one of the most dull and predictable PvP seasons I’ve seen in my time. Every match was virtually the same team in the same equipment. By the end of the season all you had to do was see the Agents name and you knew exactly what you had to face. In a sense it made it easier to plan against but it was quite tedious.
OYG: What were your thoughts on the zero (0) attack but ranking in the top 10 for days?
Agent X: It wasn’t surprising that people found some error and used it to their advantage. Playdom doesn’t really make the most foolproof game. The Angel incident at the end of season 9 is a prime example of this.
OYG: To get this out of the way, there are a lot of opinions about parkers and wallet warriors (ww). Do you park and are you a wallet warrior?
Agent X: Yes, I park. No, I’m not a wallet warrior.
OYG: Do you feel Parking is a mandatory tactic to place in Adamantinum or in the top 10? Like, everybody does it in those rating levels?
Agent X: Parking is a mandatory tactic if you’re cheap like me, but it takes extreme patience and a good knowledge of the game. You spend half the time staring at the flight deck and the other half reading the wiki.
OYG: What about wallet warriors?
Agent X: Wallet Warriors are the alternative. If you want to aim high and succeed but you don’t want to spend constant hours on the flight deck or be shackled to Power of Four then you need to spend money. The game is designed that way for a reason, Playdom has to make money somehow. I have nothing against WW’s and I’m grateful for them because they keep this game going. If I had the funds like they do I’d gladly throw cash at the game and skyrocket to 300.
OYG: I know from personal experience at my level, you don’t need to be a WW to finish in Adamantium, but you do need to park.
Agent X: Exactly. Anyone with some effort can get Vibranium these days and it’s actually not that difficult to get into Adamantium with time but you do need to try and focus on pvp to achieve either which generally requires paying or parking. Not that it can’t be done without either but it’s far more difficult.
OYG: Do you think that to finish in the top 10 you have to buff the armory with as many LE weapons possible?
Agent X: It’s dependent on level really. Anyone below 300 can get away with your standard armory updated to the latest season’s items. 300 is pure Wallet Warrior territory, that’s where you find the people with 60 LE weapons slotted.
But people really need to think before they toss a weapon into their armory, I’ve seen some throw Sheperd’s Staff in there and think “What’s wrong with you?” Getting a slight bonus now may be great in the short term but when the game shifts later and something like that may come back into play you’ll be in trouble. Stick to the 2 gold items or Spec Op stuff.
(Editor’s note: with S12, Armory items can now be unslotted, free the first time, but at a cost thereafter. The item unslotted reverts to it’s original stats when acquired.)
OYG: Is maxing out the armory, the “norm”, to have a chance to finish in the top 10?
Agent X: Yes. At the start of every season you can expect all of the top players to completely overhaul their armory and update it to the latest items. This is just for the top 10 or 20 really, for most players they should only need to update their armory every other season.
OYG: Looking at your Defensive win/loss, which we can say it’s “dismal” (less than 30%), it appears you rely on attack to carry you through. Do you subscribe to the belief that defense is a wash and attack a lot to overcome defensive ratings loss?
Agent X: Defense is a wash, particularly S11 when you could nearly predict every team would be and plan accordingly against it.
OYG: Or is there a tactical decision to not put much effort into defense?
Agent X: It’s all about the AI of the defense. Certain heroes are just terrible in the hands of the game (Omega Sentinel, Iron Fist) others are shackled to being reliant on turn order (Thor) and some are too buff reliant and Angolob (Scroll of Angolob) or Cube (Synthetic cube) will render them useless (Captain America, Hercules). I approach it with the mentality that everyone is bad on D, it’s just a matter of finding out who is bad the least
OYG: Which heroes/class on defense did you see the most?
Agent X: Agents classes varied, the only classes you don’t really see often on agents are Blaster and Scrapper.
The first half of the season was entirely Ares/Rogue, the second half was almost all Ares/Quicksilver.
OYG: Which weapons did you see the most or seemed most common?
Agent X: There was really two sets of equipment commonly seen, during the majority of the season it was Atillan stuff Guardian/Watcher/Protector and Cube. After Moon Knight appeared with his missions it shifted in the final days to Toolkit/Cube/Protector and the final option was really up to personal choice. Reboot, Warbringer Axe or Dragon’s Foot are all great choices there depending on what team you run and how defensive you want to be.
UPDATE TO A CLASSIC PVP GUIDE
This guide, The Best of the Best – Agent Wanderer Speaks, is a classic that introduces the noobie to PvP strategy, and it’s almost a mandatory read. The fundamentals in the guide are still sound, but being a year old, characters and equipment has changed and so an update would be appropriate.
OYG: As you get near the top of your level range on the ladder, the field of players you face is much smaller. I think of it as this quite zone, like on an air plane, and it has ascended above the turbulence. There is a degree of predictability of who you will fight, and so with it, a double-edge sword. With predictably you have limited options, but you still have to keep the other players off-balance. Unless of course, you are the meta (said in Judge Dredd’s voice), and expect to keep being the meta until you start losing a lot.
So the short of it, do you use a large pool of heroes or keep to a select few heroes either on attack, defense or both?
Agent X: There’s only about 8 really good heroes to use. I know people will say something like “but I made diamond with Daredevil and Spider Woman”, but just because you can do something doesn’t mean it was the best way you could have done it. If you’d replaced those two with say Quicksilver and Emma Frost you’d have likely gotten Vibranium or at least much closer to it.
OYG: How would you rank of importance?
Agent X: It depends on your level. If you’re below 70 or so, then what matters most is armory bonus for getting ranked up to Vibranium and Adamantium. By 70 or beyond, it’s kind of expected that you’ll have a high armory and that’s when you need a well-trained hero roster to start giving you that edge.
Make anyone, that can be (alt uniform) a blaster into one, then make anyone else who can be a tact into one, make any remaining possible generalists into one. Convert all remaining bruisers and infiltrators who can change into scrappers. There are many ways to ignore defense or guarantee a hit, rendering Bruiser and Infiltrator bonuses moot. So in my experience, you’re better off just loading up your bonuses towards the offensive stats.
Hero Bonus of importance Blasters, Tacticians, Generalists, Scrappers, Bruisers, Infiltrators
OYG: The system has changed to alternate hero turns to prevent unfairness of one side going all 3 first, but looking at your attack win/loss record (over 90%) this seems to be irrelevant.
OYG: I know it’s not required to have the Warbringer Axe (WBA) or the scrolls to place in Adamantium, but they do make it easier. Do you use the WBA and/or any scrolls? Or has new items been introduced that are viable to get you in the top 10?
Agent X: I have WBA and Angolob (Scroll of Angolob SOA ) but the cube (Synthetic Cube) has pretty much replaced the scroll. The cube strips buffs on its first move, and debuffs on its second move in addition to its other effects. Until its nerfed, it’s better than Angolob.
There is no real replacement for WBA yet, Girl’s Best Friend comes close but it’s not nearly the same and running Hulk does more harm than good.
OYG: Equipment that only gives extra turns seems less important. I see the Shepherd’s Staff occasionally, but most turn advantage is coming from counters, protects and hero abilities. What’s your experience on this?
Agent X: It’s really dependent on the team. Sometimes you want to factor in the advantage certain debuffs or procs can apply. I’ll give you two examples of this.
1. When the Toolkit first came out, its counter-attack did almost no damage. So a smart way to kill someone using the kit was to bleed them and purposely attack them. Even if you missed, they’d counter for near nothing and bleed out quite a bit. Elektra was fantastic for this. But the counters been fixed now and people began to use Reboot.
2. When you can get Cyclops or Elektra to apply flanked you can figure in their follow-up attack. Say you have Captain Britain and on the first turn with him you do Smashing and apply slowed to the enemy team. Then Elektra applies Flanked to whomever is protecting. When Captain Britain turn comes back up, you do Save the Queen to apply Exposed, the Flanked follow-up attack will be Right is Might and apply Dizzy/Weakened and Curse of the Otherworld since all debuffs are now up. If they don’t strip those debuffs you’ve as good as won at this point and it’s only round 2.
OYG: On The Guide list, only Quicksilver seems still viable, and maybe more so with the infiltrator armor released from Season 11 Vibranium award. I saw Ares, Rogue, Electra as the most common heroes fielded. I think more Thane, Cyclops (uncanny blaster), Thor (scrapper) will be used as well. What’s your take on common heroes and what might Season 12 look like?
Agent X: You can likely expect the usual suspects. Ares, Quicksilver, Emma, Cyclops, Thane, Rogue, Elektra
The ones I’d be on the lookout to possibly start appearing more regularly would be Deadpool, Cable, Gambit (with their respective E ISO-8) and Modern Thor. Now the reason I say Modern Thor is because of Mystic (the Diamond league weapon reward from S11), Mystic Shroud prevents you from having your buffs stripped for a round. So Thor can fire off a strengthened 2x Might of Mjlonir shot of Summon Thunder and really mess up his opponents. Pair this with someone with a fatal blow like Elektra and you can possibly take out an enemy of your choosing within the first minute. The Mystic weapon could also bring Captain America back into play, at least for the first round but I guess we’ll see.
OYG: I’m excited about them, but it seems Relentless (immune to stun) is mandatory for all characters and Inspiring for the generalist. Until the full EISO-8 armor set is released, heroes are really restricted to which would still be most viable given that Relentless is practically mandatory, especially if Ares is still near the top as favored choice (Ares L9 Crush Your Enemies, 40% stun to all). How do you see EISO-8 impacting the game? Just money sinks or real tactical opportunities?
Agent X: Both. With the Cube (Synthetic Cube) and Toolkit (Vigilante Toolkit) giving you massive evasion I really don’t see the need for Relentless eISO. There’s at least a 50% chance you’ll dodge whatever stun is coming your way. I am personally going with Reflexive eISO (Reflexive Empowered ISO-8) in my Infiltrator suit (Infiltrator Empowered Armor, S11 Vibranium award) this season. The only vulnerability an infiltrator has is scrapper double attacks, this kind of kills scrappers. On the average hero who doesn’t have that super high evasion, relentless is a good option if they are a protector. On someone who just does damage you’re better off improving that with say Street fighting or a character specific eISO.
(Editors note: At the time of the interview, Vigilante Toolkit had passive evade, but with the start of S12, Playdom modified Evade to Nimble, with 50% to evade, but has to be activated with an attack. Also, evade is no-longer stacking, so either the first evade PROCs or non will. Season 12 patch notes.)
OYG: Any last thoughts, opinions and/or suggestions, shout-outs to anyone?
Agent X: Getting top 10 was just something I did to prove a point to myself. I do not recommend it for anyone. You need to waste far more time and effort than necessary. It’s entirely for ego. If you’re sitting on 200+ challenges, sure go for it. But be content with 5-10 battles a day instead of ending up with 500+. Remember, you get the exact same rewards at 1550 that you do at 2500 or 3000. Just try to get in and stay in. Most importantly, have fun.
The one constant in M:AA PvP is to expect change. There is only change. I end this with a quote and a video:
Be like water making its way through cracks. Do not be assertive, but adjust to the object, and you shall find a way round or through it. If nothing within you stays rigid, outward things will disclose themselves.
Empty your mind, be formless. Shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be water my friend.