I started playing Avengers Alliance shortly before the beginning of PVP Tournament Season 8 on Facebook. Shortly after it began I started a second account on the Playdom site. I'm thinking that my experience of recently taking two accounts from level 1 to 70 playing through the Special Ops and PVP tournaments, might be useful to new players, who sometimes struggle with getting advice on the forums that is actually applicable to their situation.
PVP Tournament: Season 8 on Facebook and Playdom
In reading about the game online, I found a number of guides and read through them without knowing that many were seriously out of date and didn't reflect the current state of the game. I was particularly taken with a guide that recommended picking Invisible Woman as one's free fourth hero, and pairing her with Human Torch for a PvP team, and I did so on both accounts. This was, in fact, perfectly reasonable advice and it's the team I used for both accounts for the entirety of this season. I was far from the only player running this team; it was exceptionally common to be facing a mirror image on the other side of the battlefield. I also saw a lot of Storm and Dr. Strange.
If I was starting now, however, I wouldn't do it again. Cyclops' recent update makes him clearly the best choice for the free hero, and while Human Torch has the advantages of being very simple to use and hitting very, very hard, the fights that came down to a Human Torch on both sides go on indefinitely. Having to eat the browser refresh as a loss every time that happend probably cost me more points than going with a weaker hero would have.
As far as equipping the Agent goes, it was a struggle to figure out. One really doesn't have a lot of good options at low levels for Agent gear. With only one slot, I just used the best weapon that I had (I forget what that was; I think that it might have been the Katana). At two slots, I wanted a single-enemy weapon and an all-enemies one (one of the low-level shotguns). When it came time for my agent to attack, I always used the single-enemy weapon unless I could take out an opposing enemy with the shotgun. At the low levels, it really isn't apparent that the game has much strategy behind it. It was the third slot opening up that added any real choice. I tried a number of different things in that slot. I started researching my way to Curative Reach because of the guide's advice, but I actually settled on the Offensive Accelerator as the best use of that slot. I'm not at all convinced that blowing a round to healing is the best use of the Agent even at a level so low that the Agent isn't very useful.
If I was starting over now, I wouldn't research anything except for uniforms, iso and the Cryo-Tonfa. The latter is assuming that the meta was still full of Human Torchs. When I was looking around online for advice on how to beat Human Torch in PvP, there was very little that was at all useful to me. Some people certainly made cryptic references to "learning the game" or "finding the right counter". Since my experience of the game wasn't that researched weapons were useful, and I was depending on roulettes, lockboxes and deploy rewards for equipment, it didn't occur to me that there was actually a low-level research weapon that would be the solution.
On the Facebook account I bought some gold to spend on making the game more fun, whereas I didn't spend any money at all on the Playdom account. This provided a contrast between the experience of being a paying player and a free one. Looking back, I'd say two things about the difference at that level. The game is a lot more fun when you don't have to grind for every CP (which is what I used the gold on), but in terms of low-level PvP, what really matters is Agent gear, and spending gold on that would be insane because of how quickly it gets out-leveled (that said, I wish that I had understood how good Neurotrope was when it was on sale). I didn't spend gold on the armoury, so the only real difference between the two is that I had more heros on the Facebook account, and I got the Future Foundation costumes for the Facebook team. Those costumes do help quite a bit.
On Facebook I made Diamond, while on Playdom I made Gold. The difference was more about the outfits than it was about the hero bonus. Annhilus Human Torch can win Torch vs. Torch fights, so it cut down on the number of times I lost an attacking match considerably. The effect on the next Tournament was profound, however, since having the Savant's Spear was a significant advantage.
I now wish that I had understood how useful the Bruiser's Aegis Armor would have been, as I think it was possible that I could have made Vibranium if I had worked harder at it. The irony here is that I had the Iron Man Mk 42 costume and the Iron Patriot costume but didn't realize how good they were because I didn't see much of them, and didn't play a lot of PvE with them either because they were both stuck waiting for silver to train as I prioritized Human Torch and Invisible Woman.
I didn't get Juggernaut on either account. On the Facebook account I wound up with six out of eight covers, while on the Playdom account I wound up with seven. On the Playdom account I had nine lockboxes left over and weeks later I bought one more lockbox with one gold and that actually completed the set for me. I eventually wound up buying the lockboxes I needed on the Facebook account as well, which turned out to be only forty or so.
PVP Tournament: Season 9 on Playdom
I'd leveled up quite a bit by the time that Season 9 started. Level 50 PvP is a different experience. One actually starts running into parkers, which is a frustrating experience. I made a point of playing every mach out regardless, but it's not even valuable as a learning experience when the bonus are piled so high against you. The only thing one learns is that armoury and hero bonuses matter a lot.
Another difference is that an Invisible Woman and Human Torch team is not going to cut it. It was taking forever just to get five wins. At this point I didn't have a lot of heroes to choose from to experiment with. I had been grinding and saving CPs for the heros needed for Special Ops use after having gotten Storm and Quicksilver to unlock 4.4 (no one tells you that you'll need a Scrapper for that mission when they're telling newbies about it, and the cheap Scrappers in the game are all quite bad). As it turned out, the heroes needed for So Shall Ye Reap were Black Cat , X-23 and Thundra. I've seen Catty Black Cat in PvP once, and have never seen anyone use Thundra. I was feeling stuck for a team.
An added complication was original release Rescue. Tacticians were always a problem with Human Torch, but Rescue would wipe Burning off of everyone on top of the class advantage. The shield - heal - remove debuff routine was a real problem and she was so prevalent that I needed to figure out how to deal with her. Keep in mind that I'm now discussing the Playdom account, in which I'm not spending any gold at all (I was saving it for the trenchcoats).
Lots of people were giving advice on how to beat her, but the overwhelming majority of it depended on having gear that a new player is not going to own, or a costume that had expired (eg. the Mk 42 Iron Man), or a lockbox hero that I didn't then own (Juggernaut).
Thanks to having done a season's worth of PvP, along with lockboxes and other opportunities for gear to drop I had a bunch of stuff sitting around to equip my agent with. Since one cannot debuff a team with Rescue on it, I went looking for gear that removes buffs instead (Warbringer Axe was also an issue, so I also wanted helped with that). I had Cosmic Flame, and Soulfire removes buffs. I also had Foley's Heart Tickler, another buff removal tool.
One of the remaining two slots were taken up with a weapon from that Special Operations, the Adhesive X Launcher. While this is not a solution for Rescue in any way, it does terrible things to Wolverine, Quicksilver, Nightcrawler and especially Juggernaut, all of whom were common opponents. In the last slot went another Special Operations weapon, the Devolver.
For fights without Rescue in them, the Agent's opening would be to apply the Cosmic Flame on himself, and then hose down the other side with Soulfire-empowered Adhesive X. When facing Rescue, I would use the Heart Tickler instead in the hopes of stripping her buffs and getting through some shielding.
Within my limited selection of heroes to work with, I had only one who was capable of taking down shields (which Rescue relies on for her healing and buff removal), and none that exploited them. Black Widow gets on the team. I had faced enough Heroic Age Hawkeye to know that he was capable of stacking on more debuffs than Rescue could remove, so he became my other hero. Spending the CPs on their costumes was painful, since I would have much preferred to be spending those CPs on heroes, both for the PvP bonus and also for the play experience, but that was the cost of solving the Rescue problem. I stuck with this team for the whole tournament, even after a bug introduced in a patch took away Widow's stun in the last week. After levelling and getting ISOed, winning on the attack was rarely a problem. I won very few defensive battles, much less than I had been winning with the old team in the previous tournament, but being able to sit down and knock out my five daily battles so efficiently was worth it, and PvP was enjoyable enough that I would do some extra battles just for ranking.
I made Diamond. I really focused resources on PvP in order to get there. Beyond the expense of the CPs on costumes, I also directed a lot of silver into ISO research (and then purchasing), which made a profound difference. Black Widow and Hawkeye were already at a high level, but it was also an expense to get them up to 12. Diamond would not have been a substantially better result than Gold in this case, because the weapon was not at all interesting. My actual reward was, along with everyone else with enough PVP battles, everything.
PVP Tournament: Season 9 on Facebook
One might think that my Facebook account would have been an entirely different experience, with the larger hero bonus and expanded options. It wasn't, however. I still struggled quite a bit early in the tournament before getting my team levelled to 12 and ISOed.
Iron Man Mk 42 was my Rescue solution. Bringing a Blaster into PvP was a risk, and probably hurt me on defense, but being able to deal with Rescue was critical. Iron Patriot was the solution to almost everyone else. Shadowcat was a problem for this team, as her counterattack to Iron Patriot's 21-Gun Salute was brutal. The Warbringer Axe was less of a problem because of my agent's setup.
My agent carried the Savant's Spear that I had won from the last tournament, the Kuzuri which I had acquired when I bought my gold at the gold sale, the Offensive Accelerator and the game-changing Sinister Scepter, which had come from a lockbox. I would play around with the other gear a little over the course of the tournament, and swap the spear for the Magnetic Field Generator, a side bonus from all the farming of 4.4 that I had done, but I have yet to change my mind about "ghost tanking". The game just does not know how to deal with the tactic, so it's a winner in both PvP and PvE. I don't have anywhere like the right gear for it to be effective on the defense, unfortunately. Because it had been dropping, I saw a lot of other players using that Sceptre, but the AI doesn't understand that it should prefer to stay phased and would mismanage it, so I knew that it was doing the same to me. You need to set yourself up with Quick Action devices and gear with cooldowns to try to script the Agent's behaviour, and I still don't have anything that would do that for me.
To some degree, this team makes fights a little dull, in that there's very little decision-making to be done during the fight. Iron Man spams his Unibeam and Iron Patriot's algorithim was
- If unprotected Blaster, stab. 21-Gun Salute.
- If unprotected Blaster, stab. Overcharge, 21-Gun Salute
Once in a blue moon this would bite me if Iron Patriot didn't make it to Round 2, but with the Agent ghost tanking that was a very rare occurence. One might think that World War II Captain America would be a problem, but he tended to be more of a speed bump than a real issue.
I made Vibranium, and was pretty pleased with myself. It's hard to imagine that armour getting much use, unfortunately, as I don't really want to give every Tactician a free extra turn every time I tank an attack of theirs. I hope that Playdom does not forget about Vibranium standings when compensating Adamantium winners for everyone having gotten every award.