This blog article was initially meant to be posted in between PvP Season 1 and 2. However, lack of inspiration and other personal affairs delayed it by one week. But who of all expected Season 2 to be live so soon? I actually did.
So what is this article about? Mainly contemplation and strategy regarding the Agent and how he plays out in PvP. It is something that sounds very simple but after initiating a few battles in Season 2, I felt like sharing my thoughts with you all, and opening another discussion regarding PvP strategies.
PvP teams can be built in many ways; there are murder-rush teams, tanky teams, balanced teams, you name it. The most common way of creating one usually revolves around one or two heroes, with the Agent filling out a role that will cover the most valuable team member's weakness. Another way is to build a team around the Agent, where the other two heroes will improve or protect him. A third option that comes to mind is a synergetic team. An example for a synergetic team would be a team composed of Avenger uniform heroes and an Agent with Couslon's Revenge.
The options are many indeed, but this isn't a guide on how to build a team or what team is the best in game. It is an article to look into the possibilities that your Agent has.
The Agent might not look as cool or awesome as the other heroes in game. He however, is the most versatile hero at your disposal. With the ability to switch his class at the player's whim as well as his equipment, he can complement any team provided he's in the possession of the right tools. I am not suggesting that you build your whole team around your Agent, rather than exploring your options and playing to your Agent's strengths.
To finish with the foreword, I will list every class in the game in descending order based on personal preference, suggest a strategy and a counter-strategy about it. So let's get started!
The Infiltrator class allows your Agent to turn himself into a weapon that can take turns outside of his own turn, provided that he has attacked a Tactician on that very same turn. That is certainly not news but I am simply making a reference in order to stress the point of "Free Attacks". In a game, where turns matter, the ability to make free attacks without an actual Stamina cost and outside of your turn, makes a great difference when it comes down to destroying the opposition swiftly.
When an infiltrator attacks or is attacked by a Tactician, he gains the Combat Reflexes buff, which allows him to counter any attack (either single target or Area of Effect) he receives with Brawl, during that turn. Brawl is a two-hit unarmed melee move with no additional effects, but with a solid damage output. Eventhough Brawl might not look as good as other Infiltrators' Combat-Reflex attacks, it does add to the damage output without draining your Agent of his Stamina.
Infiltrator is the master of recoil damage, who can destroy heroes before they even get a chance to set up their skills. Countering is an Infiltrator's strength and it is how I would suggest, you build him.
Suggested Role: Deadly Defender
Having already pointed it out that the Infiltrator is at his best when it is not his turn my suggestion would be to take the whole Countering to another level. Equipping the Agent with a weapon capable of counter-attacking (such as Soulfinder or Ruby Quartz Rifle) will give him the chance to respond twice every time he is attacked, first with Brawl, followed by the chosen weapon's counter-attack. Two blows on the opponent who simply attacked you once or decided to attack your whole team, could have devastating effects on the opposition since the effect can occur multiple times per turn. Your Infiltrator could potentially decimate the enemy teamthrough a series of counterattacks.
There are ways to increase the damage output however. Several procs that other heroes possess, could add to your deadly defense; Magik's Fiery Retribution, Gambit's Wild Card, Annihilus Human Torch's Annihilation Wave and Cooperative Defense come to mind. They do not all necessarily come from your Agent per say, but they greatly improve what he does.
Taking it one step further would be either creating a team that would greatly add to your Agent's recoil damage output or using heroes that can counterattack, themselves. Hercules, Captain America, Daredevil, Spiderman, Quicksilver and Thing are prime examples eventhough some of those heroes' abilities to protect the whole team will potentially make you un-targetable, which is not necessarily always a bad thing.
I have personally tried this out, with Soulfinder as my only other synergy. I can say it worked pretty well against four Tacticians at least. I counter-attacked and outright knocked out Cyclops (who opened up, using his L9, Mega Optic Blast), Tactician Modern Dr. Strange (who opened with his L6, Vapors of Valtorr) and Hawkeye (who initiated the combat with his L2, Arrow Volley); not all of those were present at the same encounter of course. Captain America managed to linger with only a tiny bit of health remaining after using Shield Throw.
Lack of Tacticians in a particular battle could potentially ruin your strategy of deadly defense. However, if you're built to counter, you could do just that with whatever you have on hand, while helping your team out with other tools. Psychic and Subtle Attacks are something common, and can also block your Agent from performing as planned, since those attacks will not trigger any kind of counter-attack..
You should also note that since you expect to be attacked in order to counter, you might want to consider investing in some more Health, Evasion or Defense in order to survive the fights. If you were lucky enough to get it, the Infiltrator Power Armor is an excellent uniform that reduces melee damage, which is -usually- what Scrappers, your opposing class, will attack you with.
Moving on to the Tactician class, which along with the Infiltrator is my favorite Agent class.
The Tactician class ability is to take an extra turn whenever he uses a single-target attack on a Blaster. That extra turn follows all normal rules; it is not Stamina free, but you are allowed to use it as you see fit. As I have stated many times before, the ability to take extra turns in a game where turns do count, makes the Tactician's ability a very useful tool both offensively and defensively.
The ability to take two turns allows for great versatility. You could for example, single-target attack a blaster and then activate a defensive item for your team, or damage the whole enemy team, or even knock out that particular blaster. The possibilities are plenty!
The Tactician is the master of extra actions. The more the better and this is the build we aspire to.
Suggested Role: Quarterback
As most Tacticians you're expected to act as a team leader, coordinating and providing offense or defense where needed. Since your strength is extra actions, we'll explore the possibility of taking even more actions during your turn. These come in the form of equipment with the Quick Action and Follow-Up Attack abilities.
There are several Quick Action items out there. Some offensive, some supportive. Digital Spotter, Chrono Overdrive, S.A. "Pincer", are just a few examples that can greatly change your combat approach. Picking the right one for what you wish to accomplish is important, so while Chrono Overdrive would be a better option for an offensive Tactician, Digital Spotter could be more suited to a support-oriented Tactician Agent. Keep in mind that each Quick Action item can only be used once per round, so even if you take an extra turn after attacking a blaster, you will not be able to use it again.
Follow-Up Attack weapons have a chance to attack twice whenever they are used. Focal Plasma Cannon, Sinflayer and S.A. "Siege", are some of those weapons. These can also be considered extra actions of course that add to your damage output. So in the example of Focal Plasma Cannon, you could potentially have a total of four attacks on a blaster, each, increasing in damage. Depending on your team, you could choose whether that weapon should be single-target or AoE. Try it out and mix and match until you find what best suits you.
One could argue that Follow-Up Attack weapons are not that good and they would probably be right. Some Agents might actually want a big gun in their inventory, such as the Golden Screaming Eagle, which combined with the correct Quick Action item, could devastate a blaster.
There are other ways to obtain or give out extra turns. Quantum Jumper, Magnetic Field Generator and Power of Four are some of them, but I would encourage you to experiment on your own and find the ideal combination.
On another note, a team based on taking many turns could be greatly improved by an effective Tactician that grants free turns. Rogue, Original Ms. Marvel, She-Hulk, Quicksilver, the new and improved Dr. Srange are but a few heroes that could apply to this strategy.
If your Tactician Agent is built to take many actions per round, then the presence of a Blaster can only improve your performance. If not, you can actually pull this off rather easy by picking the right targets and following your plan as you would with a Blaster around. Keep in mind that this strategy is one that drains stamina the fastest. Invest in extra stamina if need be.
Next one on the list is the Bruiser class. The reason it scores third is the class' devastating weakness against Blasters.
The Bruiser's ability is to obtain the Enraged buff when attacking or is attacked by a Scrapper. Enraged grants increased attack, accuracy and defense while active, stacks up to two times and lasts for one turn.Even if Enraged does not grant additional turns in any way, it greatly increases the Agent's damage output.
A Bruiser can be potentially built into a monster of attack that is able to dish out massive damage.
Suggested Role: Berserker
The Bruiser's approach is much simpler and way more straightforward than the Infiltrator and Tactician's strategies. The point to this build is to greatly increase the Agent's attack and accuracy through various means other than Enraged. As the effects will stack up, your Bruiser agent will be capable of devastating attacks, both on Scrappers and other classes. The approach develops in two different branches.
Your first concern would be to build up your Enraged buff. Even if this can be done by simply being attacked by a Scrapper, it would be best if you took a safer approach to this and make it happen yourself. Ideally, I would suggest that you use a Quick Action item such as S.A. "Pincer" to first attack a Scrapper (and gaining one stack of Enraged), following-up with a normal attack with your chosen weapon (and getting both of your Enraged stacks).
Another approach would be to use a weapon with the Follow-Up Attack ability, however I would advise against it. The reason being that you want to keep the Scrapper alive but at bay, using your Quick Action weapon on him on each turn in order to maintain and refresh your Enraged buff. So a more ideal weapon would be something that deals massive amounts of damage, like the Golden Screaming Eagle.
Your second concern is adding to your damage output through weapons and gadgets as well as heroes. Strengthened would be the ideal buff and can be obtained if you have access to Girl's Best Friend (it does sound ironic playing a Berseker with a Girl's BF) or if you're using Thor who can Inspire Bravery. Another way is to increase your stats by either having Captain America as part of your team, for his Inspiring Leadership, using The Doombringer or a Norn Stone as part of your equipment. You could try using Scarlet Witch as her Probability Field will grant you several buffs, however random or Emma Frost for her Unlock Potential. Finally, other ways to increase your damage is through gadgets like Chrono Overdrive and Digital Spotter.
The more complicated thing about a Berserker is having the right tools and setting up a good sequence of actions. Pick what better suits you and try it out!
The Bruiser's weakness to Blasters is massive. Blasters totally ignore your defense stat and always land critical hits on you. A powerful blaster could knock you out in one shot if you're not built to last. The lack of a Scrapper or a protected one even, will also make you less effective in what you do.
A third point is that setting this up might be difficult as many of the items and heroes are not easily accessible/obtainable.
Three down and three to go. The Fourth choice would be Scrapper. With the recent upgrade, Scrappers seem a little more interesting and useful than before. I do believe however, that there are better Scrapper heroes than the Scrapper Agent.
Many players consider the Scrapper a rather weak class. I will not fully agree to this; I would say it is adequate. The Scrapper's ability is Close-Quarters Combat, a buff that is granted whenever he single-target attacks or is attacked by an Infiltrator. The Scrapper's next single-target attack grants one follow-up attack. He also always double-attacks Infiltrators.
The Scrapper Agent combines various traits of the other aforementioned classes and we will build him with that in mind but not going into that much detail as before.
Suggested Role: Streetfighter
When you play a Scrapper, you always want to have an Infiltrator around to be able to get the Close-Quarters Combat buff up, but using it effectively suggests that you move from target to target, punching right and left.
This can be achieved through the use of a damaging Quick Action weapon. Ideally, you would Quick Action-attack the Infiltrator, then follow-up with Brawl, gaining the Close-Quarters Combat buff, following with a normal attack against any other opponent, an attack followed by another Brawl. Rinse and repeat! You could add a Follow-Up Attack weapon in the mix to increase your damage output but keep in mind that the Scrapper bonus only applies to Single-Target attacks.
For Team-Ups, I would pretty much suggest heroes that would add to your damage not unlike the ones I have recommended for the Infiltrator class, Magik, Gambit, Annihilus Human Torch etc. A solid protector would also benefit you, keeping Bruisers at bay while you do your thing.
As I haven't tried or analyzed this as much as the previous class strategies, I encourage you to add any ideas or information that you might have.
If no Infiltrator is about you do not get the ability to jump from punching bag to punching bag therefore losing your edge. You could however perform as a Generalist would with what you have in hand, having a smaller damage output, as long as you stay away from Bruisers.
Fifth is the Blaster. I am personally not too excited about the blaster as he does not gain any buff of sorts or any extra turns in any way, just a very specific class based buff.
Why indeed... A Blaster has the ability to always land a critical hit and ignore the defense Bruisers, whether the attack applies to one or all enemies. However, that's about it. He could potentially destroy a Bruiser in one shot. In my opinion, and unless Blasters are upgraded in a future patch, you are much better off with a blaster Hero rather than with a Blaster Agent.
Suggested Role: Cannonball
Your only task as a Cannonball is to make sure you hit and demolish the wall known as Modern Colossus, Hercules, Thing, Bruiser Captain America, Thor or any other tanky Bruiser that could potentially pose a problem to your team and eventually reveal the squishy heroes that the rest of your team can tear apart.
I cannot stress the "make sure you hit" point, enough. There are several quick action gadgets that can ensure this. If your accuracy is good however, a gadget such as Chrono Overdrive that can greatly increase your damage, followed by a big gun such as Golden Screaming Eagle, will probably destroy the toughest of the toughest in one shot. The weapon doesn't really have to have a high critical chance, as the GSE has. Deadly crits is even better for this, so Goblin Glider might be an even better choice for you.
In the following rounds and as long as you manage to survive, make sure you can put that massive damage potential to good use.
The Blaster class as it is right now is not all that ideal for an Agent. The bonus against Bruisers is actually good but doesn't give you a great edge, while getting attacked twice by Tacticians can surely be rather painful. Make sure you're fully loaded on accuracy and at least some defense to help you survive the first round(s).
The final one is the Generalist. I certainly have nothing against Generalist, but with so many other interesting choices out there, Generalist might be one of the last choices for me. You play on the safe side of things without taking too many risks, but you cannot win big without some risks.
The main reason for going Generalist would be to avoid taking unnecessary risks while providing a very versatile hero to complement the rest of your team. Perhaps you are undecided as to what might be best or might want to take a more neutral approach to things. Whatever the case might be, Generalist is a good option, but less interesting in my humble opinion.
Suggested Role: Jack of all Trades
Your Generalist Agent can be anything you want him to be without getting the buffs of other classes. He can be very offensive or defensive, act as a more supportive character and pick up the slack of other heroes. He is there to fill in and assist when possible. So you could have a more balanced Generalist Agent with a Quick Action, Counter-Attack, Support Gadget and another powerful weapon, or a very focused Generalist. The possibilities are too many to list. You could actually amalgamate everything I have stated above regarding the other classes.
The only real drawbacks of a generalist is not being situational when it would be profitable. You will not be able to take extra turns, or as many extra attacks or even dish out insane amounts of damage, but you play it safe. This could and could not win the battle. Your biggest strength is also your biggest weakness.
Whether you run your Agent based on personal taste or to complement your team, your Agent remains your "Ace in the Hole". Use him strategically and he'll make the rest of the team work like a well-oiled machine.
I am unaware if anyone will actually find this article enlightening or useful; after all I doubt I'm stating ideas and facts that most people haven't already analyzed at least in their heads. This was mostly done as a mental exercise for me and a way to open a discussion regarding the Agent.
As always, I will be re-reading this to correct grammatical and syntax errors. Feel free to contribute, comment and suggest constructively. What class is your Agent? Have you tried any of the above strategies? Have you got any other recommendations? Type away!
See you in the Danger Room, Agents!