Another Wednesday, another tier list! This time – 5 threats!
But as you might have noticed, this tier list is VERY different from my old tier list articles. This time instead of being some blowhard on the internet trying to pass off my subjective opinions as objective fact, I went to the TRUE arbiters of fact and truth – you guys!
The purpose of this poll was simple – rather than collecting data about objective strength (which is very difficult), I wanted to gauge community perception. What characters do people like, which ones do they not. This should IN NO WAY be taken as being purely correlative with power level or even mostly correct (though we’ll be diving into the degree to which I think it is correct later on here).
We start with a simple series of questions – which 5 threat do you prefer. After a couple dozen answers you get a ranking of all 5 threats according to your answers that looks like this:
These rankings are aggregated with other rankings, and eventually a pattern emerges. It turns out that this spread breaks up really well into quartiles – the top 4, the next 4, the 4 after that, then the bottom. And in traditional listicle fashion there’s nowhere to start but the bottom of the list!
Bottom 4 – Ebony Maw, Black Bolt, Ronan + Power, Ghost Rider
These four cluster together far tighter than any other quartile in their ratings with the exception of Ebony Maw who falls out the bottom completely (literally 3 in 5 responders placed him as objectively last). If I had to come up with a theme for these four it would be that they all have pretty bad power or action economy (or both!) and they struggle to have impact even when they get optimal actions with all the power they need.
16 – Ebony Maw
Honestly, not at all surprised. Literally 58% of all responders placed him as the worst 5 threat in the game. He’s not tanky, he’s got power issues, he gets out-punched HARD. He doesn’t make it in Black Order rosters unless they have a soft spot for him from the movies. NEXT!
15 – Black Bolt
As you’ll notice in a second, Blackagar Boltagon isn’t nearly as bad as his rating implies. He’s only nearly as bad as Ronan with a Power Gem! Admittedly the formatting of this question didn’t help him as it precluded his use as a leader, but I don’t think that matters in his case because Inhumans are pretty maligned as an affiliation despite having all stars in Lockjaw and Medusa. Where does Black Bolt go wrong? In my eyes it’s the lack of utility. Sure, he has his defensive boost like Strange and Cable. But where’s his range 2 place or Size 4 throw like Cable? Where’s his dice consistency, pushing, and healing like Strange? Sure boosting long range pierce attacks is neat but he doesn’t have the action economy to reliably double tap. If you want a high damage ranged 5 you can do better than ol’ king of the moon here.
14 – Ronan w/ Power Gem
Beating Black Bolt out by a fraction on rating is not an encouraging sign for a 5 threat. Ronan is an OKAY 4 threat in my book without power gem, but the power gem is not great for him. Sure it opens up round 1 plays but he doesn’t NEED power all that much. You only need 2 whenever you want to hand out some Judgment (which is nice but not needed) and 4 when you get dazed / KOed to mete out some Kree Justice, but if you’ve been dazed you almost assuredly have the power to spend! If he had a better outlet for his excess power I would be more impressed.
13 – Ghost Rider
The last of the bottom quartile scrum, Johnny is a sad flaming motorcycle man. Not even the revelation of Midnight Sons as a new affiliation, and synergizing EXCELLENTLY with their Bump in the Night leadership and Siege of Darkness tactic card, he just isn’t quite there. All of his “porcupine” effects never quite seem to work. Perhaps more time with him in Midnight Sons will warm people up to him but I doubt he could jump more than a few spots without significant meta changes.
Lower 4 – Cassandra Nova, Jean Grey, Loki + Mind, Thor
A bit more spread out than the train wrecks that make up the bottom 4, I begin to notice a pattern here as well. Three of these (Cassandra, Jean, Loki) are relatively fragile (for cost) control/support pieces. Thor obviously doesn’t fit the pattern of the other 3 but I do find it interesting how similar problems seem to cluster at different points in the curve. Is it coincidence or are these problems in certain characters responded to with differing levels of distaste by the community?
12. Cassandra Nova
Honestly one of my favorite 5 threat designs is Cassandra Nova so I’m sad to see her down here. Her attacks and superpowers are phenominal. Mental Domination is a bonkers good card that will see a LOT more table time once we have 10 tactics slots. But at the end of the day she is just TOO fragile. Maybe if her power economy was better so she could hold up Psychic distraction while still abusing Mind Possession and maybe holding up X-Ceptional Healing (yeah she has healing factor!) but alas.
11. Jean Grey
And somehow Cassandra Nova’s box mate is right next to her in the rankings, fancy that! Jean has a similar problem to Cassandra in that she is incredibly fragile if anyone gets up close and personal, but when it comes to the rest of her kit she has a bit of an inverted problem – she has GREAT power economy but a lot of her ways to spend it are situational / awkward.
10. Loki + Mind
This is actually one of the 5s I played a fair bit of back in prep for season 5. Mind Loki is… interesting. The gem gives him the power economy he so desperately wants, but if you use the gem you somehow end up more power hungry than when you started. And at the end of the day, you can just get most of what you want out of Mind Gem Loki out of Enchantress for one threat less.
9. Thor, Prince of Asgard
Thor gets the dubious honor of being the best of the “worse” half of the field. I think what people recognize here is just how painful his power economy issues can be. He generates 2/round but needs 6 to do everything he wants to (sure you can skip For Asgard in a pinch but extra staggers alongside the throws are quite valuable). And if he doesn’t do damage / get his wild trigger he feels PAINFULLY bad. If you’re a control team and he doesn’t pop off you just triage and control him into irrelevance.
Upper 4 – Cable, Doctor Strange Sorcerer Supreme, Doctor Strange, Amazing Spider-Man
Now we’re onto the above average 5s according to the wisdom of the crowds. Here I see characters that all fundamentally work. They all have a game plan, and some reliable tools towards that game plan. But there’s some piece missing to all of these that can become a liability if you don’t have a support plan for.
Over the hump, Cable! Totally light years away from that bottom half trash like Thor! I’ve been playing a LOT of Cable/Jean in Xmen recently and Cable in particular was a big element. Great power economy and even better action economy, great range, size 4 throw, what doesn’t he have? Consistent damage without his throw. 5 dice no rerolls works some of the time, but not as reliably as you’d like. I’ve literally had Cable lose a 1 on 1 fight with Deadpool before and let me tell you it felt AWFUL. So try and get some reroll support or dice fixing onto him if you want him to consistently shine.
7. Doctor Strange, Sorcerer Supreme
The latest and greatest in Sorcerers Supreme (though I guess that isn’t actually true as Magik is apparently the Sorcerer Supreme of Limbo?) is a bit of a mixed bag. Some people drool over Scalpel of Strange and his excellent attack suite. Others find him inferior to his OG counterpart. And going by the rankings here, the anti-new strange crowd is winning by a smidge. And to be fair as an unaffiliated inclusion a control/support piece is probably more attractive than a straight attrition piece. That said, I highly recommend you give the Sorcerer Supreme a go, he absolutely slaps in the midgame when he can use scalpel and his attack suite to brutal effect.
6. Doctor Strange
Maligned for a while and being relegated to “Defenders Only” in most people’s minds I’m glad to see one of the early 5 threats make it so high up the list (other than M.O.D.O.K.). He’s honestly got a solid overall kit if you just want general control and support. He has a push trigger on his builder, stagger/activation token on his spender, healing and bonus defense dice to hand out for DAYS… as long as his rolls keep him hot in power (which admittedly isn’t too hard). There are few things as obnoxious to burn down as a Doctor Strange with 6+ power to dump into defense dice. Personally I’ve found Strange is very much a character who wants to double tap as much as possible, so if you’re looking for a mobile 5 he ain’t your guy. But if you want some glue to keep the rest of your team together, he might be the right choice in a pinch.
5. Amazing Spider-Man
Amazing Spider-Man has been long awaited in TTS events, and will finally get his debut in Season 6 (sign ups close this friday night bracket time, so sign up ASAP). He’s got mobility, he’s got tank stats, he’s got an interesting leadership (that I’ve yet to see be used to its full potential, its a tricky one!) and in general is one of the more popular 5 threat splashes. He compares mostly evenly with Angela, but I guess Angela’s kill reset and size 4 throw just give her an edge over your Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man.
Top 4 – Corvus + Reality, M.O.D.O.K., Angela, Scarlet Witch
We come to the final four! And to the surprise of no one this is all of the greatest hits. You have the OG apex predators represented in Corvus and M.O.D.O.K., and the 2021 new blood represented by Angela and Scarlet Witch. Something I also want to point out is how unique these set of 4 are – different amounts of mobility and tank stats, different attack profiles, and even different amounts of control/utility. They don’t necessarily rate consistently head to head depending on how/why you want to use them, but they’re better for the job than similar counterparts that didn’t find a home on the top of the list.
4. Corvus + Reality
Oof. Good ol’ murder blender himself. I saw a lot of people commenting on where he actually belongs. Should he be at the top if this is talking about power levels rather than perceived power levels? Sure he’s bonkers in Black Order but just how splashable is Corvus Glaive? I’d say if you can solve his mobility problems, or really don’t care about spending your two unaffiliated slots and 8 threat on reality corvus + proxima, go for it. If he’s just going to double move into position round 1 and hope that your opponent doesnt displace him off of double tapping because you lost the priority roll of, you’re probably in for a bad time. That said, pound for pound he’s probably the best attrition piece in the game. Thanks to Glaive’s Edge you can make 7/8 die faces a success (6/8 after your first skull but who’s counting!). He’s pretty much the only character in the game who semi-routinely rolls more successes than initial dice. And on defense 3/3/3 with flat damage reduction and 6 stamina is deceptively good, making it so even solid 5 threats struggle to one round him.
Finally, the original gangster. The king of Gamma. The sultan of swatting down your opponents, George Tarleton aka M.O.D.O.K. Out of all of these 5s this is the one we KNOW is overtuned because they showed us how he’d be nerfed at Ministravaganza. His layering of wild blanking and rerolls and 10 stamina make him VERY difficult to burn down. Offensive rerolls on quite possibly the best builder in the game mean not only is he doing tons of damage but he’s in control of the board with Bow to the Will of M.O.D.O.K.. He’s been having a bit of a rough time recently though so I almost expected him to rate lower – CS and Cabal (his affiliated homes) are in a bit of a rough patch right now, and the game is playing around a lot of C and D secures which he hates. But when things are just right he’s pound for pound the baddest giant head on the table.
Even though she’s being billed as “new blood” here, Angela harkens back to the early days of the game due to accidentally being leaked ~6 months early. Sure you couldnt play her in events but people were dojoing the crap out of her for ~half a year before she released. By now, people know intimately that a long move + medium base means you can interact with the midline with a single move, and while Amazing Spider-Man is an interesting alternative Angela still seems to be the go to. And on top of that, Angelic Assassin and a cheap Size 4 throw combined with PERFECT power economy makes her one of the most attractive splash 5s in the game.
1. Scarlet Witch
Drumroll please… The winner of the public perception power rankings is…
That’s right, Scarlet Witch! The only person with a builder that can compete with M.O.D.O.K. in the 5 threat slot. She comes with a debatably better version of Corvus’ Reality Gem (at least with 2+ skulls in the roll), hands out a bunch of nifty statuses, and has a solid throw. On top of that her tactic card No More Mutants
can be absolutely game winning. And to be honest, I think this shows the wisdom of the crowds in this situation as Angela and Scarlet Witch would be my top two splash 5s right now – Angela if I want extract tricks / surfing over swarms, and Scarlet Witch if I just want a murder turret with some control on the side.
In the end I don’t think there were any real surprises with these community ratings if you’ve waded through enough facebook/discord conversations to get the pulse of the community. And while I will say again that these should not be taken as objective power rankings (despite the article title), I think these quartile groupings are pretty reflective of these characters current performance in the game. The ones with the most opportunity for mobility up/down in the rankings, I look to Sorcerer Supreme Strange and Amazing Spider-Man. Neither have been tested in the crucible of a TTS League yet and I’m looking forward to seeing them find their true worth.
As for polling methodology my poll was of course heavily flawed. I don’t think I did enough to control peoples mindset when evaluating 5s against each other. Despite the instructions alongside the link I saw people saying they used slightly different ranking criteria. Some people were outright trolly (I saw one 4th place Ebony Maw). But all in all I think I succeeded in getting the general sense of the crowd’s wisdom. Which, for popcorn entertainment like this article, is a perfectly acceptable level of accuracy in my book.
As for you guys, which of these community rankings differed from yours the most? Who do you think is overrated, or slept on? And which threat do you want me to do next?
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