Like a lot of gamers, this is my first PVP tournament. And like some, I had some fairly critical misapprehensions about the whole thing. For example, I thought that I would be playing other players one-on-one. That, of course, isn't the case; the computer is driving the boat for our opponents. (In fact, none of what I'm writing will come as any surprise to veteran PVPers. This is just my thoughts and observations after a few days of playing. Nothing new here for the vets, though I would appreciate their corrections and input. This is written strictly for the newbies floundering through their first tournament.)

Like a lot of you, I haven't been playing long enough to get oomphed up enough to even think about moving up in the PVP levels. Maybe by the end of the tournament I can squeak in at the Gold level, but perhaps not. My agents are level 59 and 57 as I write this (two FB accounts), and I have heroes from the same relatively small pool of CP-cheap guys you have. I don't spend money on the game, so I spend as much time "silver farming" and resource rationing as I do actually fighting enemies.

I've learned a few things.

Managing expectations

One, given my limitations on heroes, agent levels and resources, I've decided to sluff a bit. My offensive team is a standard Tactician/Blaster pairing (Ms. Marvel and War Machine for one, Dr. Strange and Cyclops for the other), using Level 10 heroes, the highest I've got. My defensive teams are the weakest heroes I have. Why? Because getting my teeth kicked in on defensive battles keeps my level low enough to where I can actually win battles against opponents more often than not. I am consistently winning 5 daily battles and losing 1-3 now, and that gives me what I want -- a spin on the Daily Reward roulette wheel. The next day I do it all over again. When I get too successful, I find myself playing against the most powerful resource in the MAA arsenal -- Daddy's credit card. Instead of the usual Torch/She-Hulk (or whatever) pairing, I find myself playing against 135CP heroes, alt-uniforms, and agents dripping with the finest armaments and goodies Dad's Visa card can buy. I've won a few against those guys, but it's not easy (I ran into a Scroll of freaking Angolob the other day; no way in the world that Level 55 agent won that one by sweat and effort. Luckily the AI didn't know how to play it, and I weathered the match before I got incinerated). So I keep my head low and plow forward, keeping to some very simple but relatively effective tactics.

Both agents have S.A. Pincers, secondary weapons, and Offensive Accelerators. These work very nicely in tandem. I get off a quick Pincer shot and Accelerate my crew in the first round. Then it's a matter of keeping track of when the Acceleration wears off so I can redo it when needed, and not let my guys fight un-accelerated. The Pincer ensures I get one, sometimes two hits each round. When I get to Level 60 I'll probably start toting a Curative Reach in the fourth slot. At a bare minimum, my agents need to survive long enough to get that first Acceleration in.

Some hero observations

Ms. Marvel is a treasure against the usual blasters. 3 times out of 5 I end up facing off against the Torch. I love it. The AI almost always has him trying to burn her to ashes, and if she can get her Absorb Energy capability activated before he Fireballs her, it's all good. She just drinks in that good old fire energy and tops off her Health while pouring it on with Kree Strikes followed by Photon Blasts and/or Brawls (nice and easy on the stamina, that one). But she's a hit-or-miss hero; when she gets hammered early, often she goes down before getting in her attacks. And unfortunately, she doesn't absorb all the different kinds of energy flung around by the various blasters.

Dr. Strange is very powerful, but even as chipped up as I've made him, he needs some protection. Both blasters need to have the tacticians kept off of them as much as possible. When the Doc gets his Teresing Quick Action, back come the Health points and the crew is fit and ready to go some more. He just needs to survive that long. I always open with a Vapors of Valtorr area strike to get all of the bad guys hit with the Dark Void debuff, and then focus on single strikes against whoever needs killing quickest.

Cyclops has two very useful capabilities, Evasive Maneuvers and Mega Optic Blast. Evasive Maneuvers not only helps the crew dodge attacks, it gives everyone free counter attacks for as long as it lasts. Free shots that don't cost stamina are VERY handy. The Mega Blast is a good area attack; when Cyclops is Accelerated, it does fairly good damage, and better yet, it has a good chance of Stunning one or more of the enemy, giving me that many more chances to hammer them down. His Mega Blast is just about the only way I've ever beaten Wolverine, for example -- he can't turn you into sushi if he's stunned.

War Machine is pure offense. Even chipped up as he is, he's pretty vulnerable, and he often dies before the battle is over. As long as he gets that Mini Gun rolling on an X3 Charged Capacitors, he's served his purpose. His Blade Punch is very strong against Blasters in particular, and he can get two shots in before opening fire on the second round. If it looks dire for him, I'll Overcharge him and let him gun down the bad guys during the first round. Hopefully he will be Accelerated by that point, or the Mini Gun won't have that great of an effect. After the gun decimates the other guys, everything I get from him afterwards is gravy.

I tried playing with my only 90CP hero, Captain Britain, a few times. Not worth it, though I may revisit him later. I don't see enough Scrappers on the other side to keep him juiced up, and he isn't leveled up to 9 yet. Just not enough bang for the buck. I can see how powerful he would be in a higher-level game, but at this level it's all Blasters, Tacticians, and some others, most often Wolverine and Invisible Woman, until I get to the guys who have spent bucks on the game; then I get an array of War Hulks, Cables, Scarlet Witches, and the like, accompanied by agents with shiny goodies from the 64GP aisle. (I'm saving my CP pennies on both accounts for Wolverine, the human woodchipper. He is something fierce.)

To put it in basketball terms, I'm slowing the game down, keeping the score low, and winning on careful execution. If the other guy runs-and-guns me, I'm most likely toast. If I can play zone and run screens and options long enough, I can grind out a win with (relative) ease 3 or 4 times out of 5 ... usually.

Conclusion and Update

My goal for the tournament is simple. Since the 100,000 silver is mine by default, I'd like to win the gold, but I really want to get Elektra. If I can do that (saving lockboxes until I have 10, then opening them all to ensure getting a comic cover), then I've done what I think I can do in this tournament. By the next tournament, my agents and heroes will be much more capable; watch out for me then!

I've written this as a reflection on my first few days PVPing. Some of my insights, as rudimentary and simplistic as they may be, might be helpful for the other newbies. Hopefully they can at least serve as a start for your own thinking and strategizing. Let me know what you think in the comments, and don't hesitate to suggest alternate strategies.

Update (if anyone is reading): I actually manage three PVP teams, my two accounts and my wife's, who is playing at a lower level and doesn't like PVP, and I have learned a few things. My two agents have graduated to Level 67, have spiffy commander trench unis, and a sparkly array of new Iso chips. The Ms M/War Machine team was NOT working out -- no defense. I've revamped to go with Cyclops and his Evasive Maneuvers (just as on the other team, though he doesn't have the Mega Woohoo Optic Stun Everyone in the Room option yet), and Sif, a Level 9 (soon to be 10) tough lady who doesn't worry about the usual burning, chilling and other debuffs common at this level. Preliminary results are good -- she fortifies the team with her Inspire Bravery buff, and they get a lot more attacks because of the guy with the eyes. I guess the idea here is to constantly tweak and update as your agent and your teams change, and as you learn from experience. Waiting to drop some heat on the next Infiltrator that comes in to ruin my day...

Goals have upped, also. I intend to finish in the Gold at least, if not Diamond (what exactly is that Emerald Geegaw anyhow, and why do we want it?), and I'm one comic away from getting Elektra in both accounts. The last one is always the toughest, but I'm confident. Now to figure out how to beat the middle schoolers with all their wonderful toys bought with dad's MasterCard.

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