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Well, well well. Here we are again, the first Guardian of the Galaxy (one of my favorite books) is Rocket Raccoon (one of my favorite Guardians). So, I guess it's time to get busy with things. And maybe do another blog.

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The Goal

Simple goals:

  • Finish Adamantium
  • Obtain Taskmaster at lowest cost

In an ideal world, I would get Taskmaster with 80 boxes. That ain't gonna happen, so the goal is to get every free lockbox that is available, and hope that will be sufficient. If it's not, the gold will flow, but only after all free lockboxes are expended. I am not a Tasky fanboy.

On the other hand, complete Rocket fanboy. So, adamantium is the ideal victory condition.

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The Plan

I always like to come up with a plan for how this will roll. I like how I've made my last two adamantiums, which was a strict five a day until the last day, then burn reds as fast as I can for the last 4-6 hours. That worked for Agent Venom on the second end day (I don't even think I tried on the first... such is my dislike of Symbiotes), and worked exceedingly well for Hogun (who I never expected to be as good as he is). It's also worked in the past, like the Psylocke tournament, where I set a goal to stay under 500 attacks.

Part of making the plan work is winning about 30% of defensive matches for the length of the tournament, excluding the last day. 29% seems to be the magic number. If I can have >29% defensive winning going into the final day, I can make the adamantium.

Why exclude the final day? Well, sad truth is, there are people who hack the game. They are cheats. No two ways about it. It sucks, but it's reality, and they come out in legions on the final day. More every tournament. I get annoyed, but as long as my friends and I get to the rewards we want with a level of effort we're comfortable with, I can live with it. After all, I have the power to do the things within my control, and can be grumpy as Hell with the things out of my control... but no matter how grumpy I get, things won't change.

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Offensive Team

Current setup:

  • Tactician Power Armor
  • Iron Pepsi
    • Tactician
    • Empowered:
      • Increasing
    • Augmented:
      • L1: Extra Damage
      • L2: Extra Damage
      • L3: Extra Damage
      • L4: Tech Upgrade
  • Sexy Emma Frost
    • Tactician
    • Empowered:
      • Emma Specific
    • Augmented:
      • L1: Maddening
      • L2: Extra Damage (planned)
      • L3: Buff Stamina Recharge (planned, maybe)
      • L4: Maddening (planned)

I have been seeing tactician after tactician after tactician after tactician, which was making playing Nico very difficult, especially if the AI targeted my agent or Quicksilver ahead of Nico... odd bit of strategy from the AI, since it usually gets very excited for Nico with his tacticians. I asked a friend, and this is what he's running. The plan is to kill everyone in the first round, with high damage and extra turns in the first round. The agent relegates himself to a support role, with his only out being running through the cube progression. Rember what I said a few blogs ago, winning the Cube vs Cube battle just means running your cube one step behind theirs.

Iron Patriot really needs not much discussion. He is a mauler, plain and simple. Emma doesn't need much discussion either. She adds extra damage through her L6, extra field damage through her L9, and massive sniping damage with her L1.

While the natural inclination to Tact-Tact-Tact-a-palooza would normally be going Inf-Inf-Bruiser, there's still a lot of Quicksilver, and, short of generalizing him, there's not really much to mitigate the liability that infiltrators become in the presence of a well played Quicksilver. This way, by playing Tact on Tact violence, I can take advantage of the same stuff they are taking advantage of, negate some of their advantage, and win through better play than the AI.

With a hundred or so matches playing this setup with the Staff of Ask in place of the Mystic, I realized, I wasn;t frequently using the staff, I have periods when it goes pear shaped and I'd like an offensive weapon, and the worst things that happen involve the agent losing his turn in the first round. With Quicksilver going L1-L9, I got sick of the stuns. I also want to punish folks who run Magneto. I can't hurt them all, but, the ones that don't run his character specific ISO, they can't slow me down in the first round. Mystic also gives me a way to slow down a War Machine, if that's the way the turn order goes, though there are not many situations that would dictate not using the Tankard first on my agent's turn. At any rate, Mystic in, Staff of Ask out.

First Setup: Start through April 29

After a quick observation, with Havok largely gone from the metagame, and no longer a one hit kill threat, I've tweaked my team from the end of last season. Last season, with one shots large in my mind, I was running Deadpool (with both EISO's and holding my nose for the extent), Nico and the agent in the same way. With a Tactician agent, Havok will generally not pursue him aggressively. Nico gets better after being dead, and Deadpool can come back to life as well. Now, with no Havok, I can take my noseplug off and stop with Deadpool. Lots of options, but, there are certain characters I like to go with, when I'm not quite certain what to do... at the top of the list, Quicksilver.

I've been on about Quicksilver before, but with the powercreep of AISO, he can really murder infiltrators who don't have debuff protection (ala Mystic or Nightcrawler). Even if they don't have infiltrators, with Wide-Open and Combo Setup from his L2 and combo exploitation on his L1... you will suffer. And, for round two, add in Melt Armor. He is an absolute monster now. I didn't AISO his L9 because I almost never use it. 

Nico remains, because Nico is such a smooth facilitator. Her ability to throw an extra turn around, to apply DoTs, to apply Cower and Intimidated, to exploit DoTs and to apply Adhesive X (you want to stop Quicksilver... Adhesive X is a great tool).

Agent is there to do Melt Armor, stay upright, Exploit DoTs, and use Cube to adjust the flow. Tact PA provides True Strike which gives me 2 heroes who never worry about enemy Cube evasion.

I have traded out Grief for The Hand of Apocalypse. Deadpool and other come back to life and don't die people were annoying me, and I thought it would be nice to have an easy way to end them.

Defensive Team

Fourth Version:

Getting meh results from the third iteration, I tweaked it with the Iron Patriot armor, the Lock On AISO, and even subbing Magneto for Cyclops. I ultimately arrived at this:

  • Magneto (As below)
  • Iron Patriot Tactician (as in the offensive build)
  • Tactician Power Armor (also trying Generalist EA with Morale Boost)
    • Tankard
    • Phoenix Flare
    • Cosmic Cardinal
    • That QA thing from Emma's mission on season 2 Chapter 5.

The idea is to get the Patriot massively pumped for the coup de grace. Magneto for extra turns. The Agent is essentially locked in to a course of action by having no option that doesn't include first turn tankard. Extra turns win fights. Or at least cause enough pain to win some. We'll see how it goes. I am a bit leary of running the same junk everyone else is running, even if I'm refining it a bit.

Third Interation:

The Cyke-Pool team went 69-147 (31.9%), largely in low adamantium. While 31.9% would generally be acceptable to me, a lot of those wins were in my early implementation of the team, and it petered out below 30% over the last 100 fights or so. The only constant is change, so forward we go:

  • Cyclops (as below)
  • War Machine
    • Original War Machine Tactician
    • Increasing
    • Augmented:
      • L1: Extra Damage
      • L2: Extra Damage
      • L3: Extra Damage
      • L4: Tech Upgrade
  • Tactician Power Armor Agent
    • Asgardian Tankard
    • Scroll of Angolob
    • Neurotrope
    • Hand of Apocalypse

Honestly, I dunno if this is gonna work. I see people put the radiation AISO on War Machine, which is nice to add a DOT, but I think I'd prefer extra damage upfront. The OG's L6 does more damage than the Iron Pepsi's L6, so I thought I'd extend that advantage, rather than apply radiation. I have the radiation AISOs (a few of them actually), so I can switch it out as an attempt at change.

Lotta ways to tweak this... Agent build can use work, lot of different things to do. But gonna try to leverage extra turns and high damage for the win.

For record keeping: At the time of the change, my AFK was 90-211.

Second Iteration:

With the very annoying Cyclops thing of the whole team not fading away when they should fade, I felt like, between the results I was getting from the First Iteration and the potential to annoy people, I should try and incorporate that.

  • Deadpool (as below)
  • Cyclops
    • Jim Lee Tactician
    • Commanding EISO
    • Augmented:
      • L1: Charged Ballistic
      • L2: Focused Martial
      • L6: Empty
      • L9: Charged Ballistic
  • Tactician Power Armor
    • Neurotrope
    • Scroll of Angolob
    • Coulson's Revenge
    • Mystic

Cyclops Build:

I didn't want to spend to get his Ignore Defense crystal, though that would probably work better. 30g for an EISO when I have a decent one for him... seems steep. I could even see putting the Sharpshooter on him. The Charged AISOs will maximize his deadly crit abilities. The L2, accuracy is so much more important than damage or crits, so that's why that's there.

Mystic:

I still like Mystic, even though they downgraded it. At the very least, it forces the opponent to use buff removal to get started. If they are using the Cube as their primary buff removal, I don't have a lot of good options for Disoriented (other than Angolob), but to force them to use it to apply debuffs is a win in my book. Especially if their agent goes late in the round. Coulson hurts people badly, and gives coordination, and Mystic does pretty acceptable damage when I can't fire Coulson.

First Iteration:

I have seen 85 defenses setup like this, with me in Vibranium/Adamantium range and have gone 24-61. A bit lower than I would like at this point in the series, but AISO is a lot stronger that people give it credit for, and giving away 2-3 slots for enhanced abilities is probably not ideal.

I am not in love with this team's performance, particularly as they've put up a 5-20 since April 16th. So, retirement is nigh, but what to run. I dunno. I'll figure it out. My main problem is that I only have 5 L14 characters (Magneto, Pool, Nico, Quicksilver and Captain Ms. Marvel). So, the options at the very high end are kind of limited. I do have 38 level 13 characters.

Meta Analysis

May 5th:

Trimming the data sample to only the last 7 days of logging. For me, that's 99 fights. For Agent Steelers, 47 fights. Format is my count - Steelers' count - Percentage of the 146 fight sample:

  1. Quicksilver: 49 - 12 - 42%
  2. Magneto: 29 - 19 - 33%
  3. War Machine: 14 - 11 - 17%
  4. Cyclops: 15 - 9 - 16%
  5. Deadpool: 10 - 5 - 10%

No one else clocked in over 10% of fights. What I've been seeing is a proliferation of Asgardian Tankard based teams... combinations of the agent with Magneto-War Machine-Cyclops-Beast-Fandral. I've seen the Warriors Three team of Volstagg and Fandral fall off quite a bit. Some observations:

  • Seeing the rise of Quicksilver + Psylocke with her EISO from chapter 5. The advantages to running this are the aggression and turn advantage of having extra attacks. There are two problems:
    • Quicksilver rarely uses a single target attack for both of his first turns. He tends to go L2-L1 or L1-L9.
    • Psylocke's AI hasn't been rewritten to accomodate her EISO. So, she will still lead with Mental Coordination, even if she has Mental Coordination.
  • White Hot Iron Fist is starting to show up. This is clearly a response to War Machine and Quicksilver. Combo Breaker is very nasty when it actually works. But he has to hit his attacks to stop War Machine to firing the second volley, and without True Strike or high high accuracy, that is nothing like a given. I am 9-0 against Iron Fist teams this past 7 days, while running 80 of the fights with War Machine. It's clever idea, but I don't think it's working well enough to merit continuing. Mileage may vary.
  • TACT-TACT-TACT and TACT-TACT-Generalist teams seem to be all the rage. The turn advantage obtained from the Asgardian Tankard cannot be denied. Very very solid. Hell, I'm running it both ways.

April 29th:

127 logged by me, 92 by my peer, Agent Steelers. 

  1. Quicksilver: 42 - 35 - 35%
  2. Magneto: 32 - 17 - 22%
  3. Deadpool: 19 - 12 - 14%
  4. Fandral: 17 - 14 - 14%
  5. War Machine: 17 - 7 - 11%
  6. Cyclops: 17 - 7 - 11%
  7. Havok: 13 - 12 - 11%
  8. Beast: 16  - 9 - 11%
  9. Volstagg: 14 - 9 - 10%
  10. Rogue: 8 - 9 - 8%

That's a whole lotta tacts moving up since last week. In the 104 fights logged between us since last week, Magneto went from 18 total appearances to 49, also known as something close to 30% of fights. Quicksilver, by comparison, has been in 36% of fights, so he's still the belle of the ball, but the least popular belle in my time logging these things. Seeing Deadpool in something like 17% of fights over the last week, with Fandral and Havok kind of dropping off. What's funny is, the current sexiness of Tankard and Magneto and even War Machine, are largely stymied by Havok.

Basically, this past week, offensively, you needed a plan for Magneto, Quicksilver, Pool, and War Machine.

April 22nd:

Up to 64 fights logged now by me. 51 logged by my peer. My numbers will be first, his second, aggregates  (out of 115 fights) third.

  1. Quicksilver - 24 - 16 - 40
  2. Magneto - 14 - 4 - 18
  3. Fandral - 10 - 9 - 19
  4. Volstagg - 10 - 5 - 15
  5. Havok - 9 - 9 - 18
  6. Deadpool - 8 - 8 - 16
  7. Cyclops - 7 - 2 - 9
  8. Beast - 7 - 6 - 13
  9. War Machine - 6 - 1 - 7
  10. Rogue - 6 - 6 - 12

What's interesting to me, in comparing my numbers and Agent Steelers' numbers is the difference in some of these heroes. It could be that he hasn't logged in a bit, so hasn't seen the rise of Cyke. The continued popularity of Havok is either: a) people not realizing he's not what he was, or b) they like how he is currently. He remains very annoying, and you know, my secret to winning AFK is to run that which annoys me the most.


First Cut:

I have now logged 39 fights. Quicksilver is the belle of the ball, but, not quite reaching the ubiquity of previous belles. Time will tell if he's really going to reach that level... the rest of the top 5 are Havok (still... and he's still very annoying, though not quite as deadly), Volstagg, Fandral and Magneto.

A peer has logged 41 fights, seeing 13 QS, 7 Havok, 6 Fandral, and 5 each of Hulk, Peast, Deadpool and Rogue. QS is a weaker belle of that ball, Havok remains the #2, and he's seeing more Fandral without a W3 partner...

In a combined data set covering some number of players from L251 to L300, comprising 135 fights (mine and the peers are 80 of those), we see 43 QS, 22 Havok, 21 each of Magneto and Beast, 19 Fandral, 18 Pool, 17 Rogue and 14 Volstagg. That's probably the best call on the meta... About a third have Quicksilver, about an eighth feature Magneto, Havok, Beast, and the majority is rounded out by Fandral, Pool, Rogue and Volstagg.

I expect to see more Cyclops, since his 90's uniform doesn't seem to be dieing, nor allowing anyone else to die either.

Poll

A poll was in place here to forward the discussion of the use of Cyclops on defense after someone called me a cheat for using it. The finally tally was 39-12, against it being a cheat, a number which speaks for itself. My results with Cyclops and Deadpool were underwhelming, but I'm not quite done with Cyke. Time will tell. Thanks for your honest opinions, and if anyone has lost respect for me, you probably shouldn't have respected me in the first place. I always play the game that's in front of me, figure out how to overcome the game that's in front of me, and have generally preached that, when it comes to defense, if you can't beat it, you should match it. Sorry to disappoint.

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