Another Monday, another tier list! This time – 4 Threat Characters!
In continuation from the inaugural article of Definitive, Objective Rankings we’ve moved on from 5 threat to 4 threat. A good number of you took the poll I put out, which asked you to rank 30 characters – every 4 threat in the game except for Cyclops. Cyclops was an unfortunate casualty of the poll system I implemented as the system caps at 30 choices to debate between. And if you responded to the 4 threat poll, you’d know exactly why: it took 100 or more answers to complete. Due to the nature of this “sorting quiz” aka conjoint analysis poll, the number of questions grows at a rate much faster than the number of options. And, unfortunately, at around ~30 it gives up (and so does over 1 out of every 3 people who started the poll)!
By answering this poll, you would have received a ranking that looks like such:
These rankings are aggregated alongside the results of everyone else who completes the poll (the poll doesn’t work unless you answer enough questions for it to complete the entire rankings), averaged, and ranked along mean and median ranking to come up with a comprehensive ranking. And that right there is the Definitive, Objective ranking of how the community of poll responders values 4 threats in the game. No statement about actual power levels, just where the community sees these 4 threats when ranked against their peers.
Since we have 30 of these jerks, I’ll be splitting this episode into two parts starting with the bottom 15. Instead of breaking up by quartiles like last time, we’ll be splitting each article into three groups of 5 for symmetry reasons. And without any further explanation or blathering lets dive in!
Bottom of the Barrel – Ultron, Gamora, Star-Lord w/ Power Gem, Ronan the Accuser, Green Goblin
Honestly, not a surprise. These are all (with the exception of Goblin) characters that came out in the first ~6 months of the game. Some characters from back then stand the test of time but these do not. But in the new era have entered with card updates these sad sacks aren’t doomed to their fate for all eternity. In fact, between beginning this article and releasing it Green Goblin has already had MASSIVE buffs announced.
30 – Ultron
I have fond memories of Ultron. Back in the early days of the game when there were basically no options he actually saw play in Cabal. Size 3 flier is a helluva thing when Drop Off was legal. But with each 4 threat released he found himself outpaced. First by Black Panther, then by Venom, then by Loki (who also happened to be Cabal and paired well with early meta favorite Thor), and by the time Vision showed up on the scene Ultron was considered more clown than robot. An ignominious end to the monster to Hank Pym’s Dr. Frankenstein.
29 – Gamora
“The Deadliest Woman in the Galaxy” – yeah right. More like, “quickest woman to die in the galaxy of 4 threats”. Sure she’s fast and hits like a truck but 3/3/3 with 5 stamina is literally a factory standard 3 threat. And she doesn’t have particularly great action or power economy to work. So unless your opponent ignores your glass cannon while she takes her sweet time to set up, you’re not going to get much mileage out of this Guardian.
28 – Star Lord w/ Power Gem
Arguably the worst leader in the game at the moment, Star-Lord would be hovering near the bottom of the 3 threats already. But when you staple a gem to him that does nothing for him but make him more expensive he really gives Ultron a run for his money at the bottom of the barrel. Don’t play power gem on him, find other places to spend the threat better.
27 – Ronan the Accuser
Ronan is a character on the verge of proper functionality. He has solid attacks at melee and at range, as well as a brutal reaction to being dropped. But in game he often can come across as… awkward. Sometimes the power doesn’t work out for a Kree Justice on daze. Sometimes the attacks whiff horribly. 3 physical defense isn’t that great even if his energy and mystic are 4s. But I think he’s getting a lot more hate than he deserves here. If Guardians or Inhumans were better he’d definitely see some play as a role-playing affiliated 4 threat with them. And any number of minor buffs could push him into a much more positive light. Give him a go on your next game night you might find yourself pleasantly surprised at his “okay”-ness.
26 – Green Goblin
As someone actually playing and winning with Green Goblin in Season 6 of the TTS League, I’m a bit surprised to see him all the way down here. But on the other hand after playing with Green Goblin right now… I’m not too surprised. We’ve been gifted Goblin’s new card which by inference shows the massive downsides his current version has – his builder and his leadership. 4 dice builder on a 4 threat should be ILLEGAL if its power per damage and their only builder. His Leadership also isn’t that appealing when you’re spending a power to MAYBE get a power back on a bunch of power starved foes. But where does he shine if not through attacks and leadership? Tank stats and well laid plans. If you don’t want to play Well Laid Plans in a slow extract round 4-5 victory gameplan, don’t bring Goblin. If you don’t want a weird do-nothing tank who if he spikes / your opponent is dumb enough to attack will have all the power needed to fuel his weird swiss army kit, don’t bring Goblin. And since very few people are bringing Goblin even in Foes I can’t expect people to be taking him outside of Foes for the purpose of this ranking.
The Dregs – Black Dwarf, Hela, Captain Marvel, Red Skull, Daredevil
On from the lowest of the low and on to the ones who just barely scraped by! Again, a lot of early designs here – 2 core box, the rest came out in the first year of the game. All but Daredevil have economy issues which I think in general is a hallmark of the original designs in MCP – most average to below average characters from that time have HORRIBLE action economy, power economy, or both.
25 – Black Dwarf
Good ol’ lurchy, I wish he was better because I am reasonably whelmed by my paint job of him. His bad power economy exacerbates his already poor action economy, but if he can roost on a secure he is tough to profitably dislodge, especially for a 4 threat. In a lot of ways he’s just a slower Lizard that costs more (which doesn’t help his case TBH). At the moment I would literally only consider playing him in CS as an unaffiliated 4 threat splash, but he’s competing directly against Enchantress and Medusa for the spot, both of whom have unique and powerful tools on top of being a lot more tolerant of control than Black Dwarf. I do want to take him for a spin on the new Convocation crisis which has so much in-built lateral mobility that he can probably pretty reliably double attack from round 2 on.
24 – Hela, Queen of Hel
Hela has exactly ONE problem holding her back – the cost on Claim Soul. Her best ranged attack and she can’t double tap with it while staying relevant on a point. If it cost 1 or 0 instead of 2 (doesn’t even need to generate power!) she would be a wonderful turret that would see play in Asgard pretty consistently. She’s already a fun/useful niche pick if your opponent plays Mutant Madman – double move round one onto your opponent’s trap and force flip it with your innate 4 physical defense, it’ll work more often than you think! But alas with her power economy so dysfunctional, there’s a reason she’s down here.
23 – Captain Marvel
If I had my druthers, Captain Marvel would be in the bottom 5 rather than barely escaping. Like a lot of “bad” 4 threats she’s just a bit of economy away from working. The inconsistency of Binary Form makes it difficult for Carol to have a consistent performance. People often seem to forget that she has a size 3 medium character throw which is cash money, but when you’re constantly scrambling to make your attacks not crap with Binary Form, where the hell are you supposed to find the 3 power for a throw? And without the tankiness of Binary Form how is she supposed to survive long enough to make good use of her throw? Just all around a wonky kit which is a shame because there are some real gems in there.
22 – Red Skull
This one is hard to truly rate and I wonder if his tenure as leader of one of the more dominant affiliations in the early days of the game is keeping him above where he should be. He’s insanely good at turning M.O.D.O.K. on (a dubious honor at best), and if you ever wanted a backline support piece to delay for your heavy hitter to go off he’s your guy. But to be honest we now have Clea who essentially does his job for 1 threat less. Sure he’s tankier than her and can foist his foes’ furor on his friends but is that really worth it for 1 more threat? If you’re not using his leadership, probably not.
21 – Daredevil
Matt Murdock has it all – speed, tankiness, a spread of melee and ranged attacks. But for all those bells and whistles what he’s missing is more defining traits. Sure he can hook people in with his batons but he doesn’t have a fully fleshed out control suite like his peers in the Web Warriors. And while he can pop off HARD on his injured side and his spender, he does not have the reliable, consistent output you want from a 4 threat beater. If you want someone to throw willy-nilly into the enemy and annoy the crap out of them (and maybe make them regret it), he’s your guy. But people want that kit about as much as they want the fat kid when picking teams for dodgeball right now. Don’t think of Murdock as bad as much as being not in demand right now, a meta shift could bring him into prominence without giving him a new affiliation or tactic.
The Mediocre – Sabretooth, Wolverine, Spider-Man, Killmonger, Mr. Sinister
These are the ones who aren’t QUITE as dysfunctional as their more ranking-challenged peers, but still have fundamental issues as perceived by the community that leave them rated below the average line. These characters have a more diverse set of problems than the last 5 – some are still economy issues, but some are just stat and kit issues that make them feel awkward on the table. Or in Spider-Man’s case, he’s just not Amazing Spider-Man (though I expect a renaissance with Spider-Man (Peter Parker) in the coming months.
20 – Sabretooth
Sabretooth has been an emotional roller coaster for me. I started off thinking he was ok, then convinced he sucks, then I had a glimmer of hope that he might be nutty, then back to being below average. And it seems the community has settled on a very similar opinion. For all his mobility and obnoxious counter-attack potential he just dies WAY too easily. And sure, you can come back at me with “What about X-Ceptional Healing?” and you’d be right – it does help his survivability a TON. But right now very few teams have room for X-Ceptional Healing in the 5 cards they put on the table. When splashing a 4 threat with a tactic stapled to them do you want Sabretooth or Carnage? Unfortunately the answer right now is just Carnage. But if you can put together a reliable, consistent team with multiple Healing Factor characters on it, Sabretooth will be a great choice for that team.
19 – Wolverine
What a coincidence, landing adjacent to his box-mate on this list. Wolverine has different issues than Sabretooth’s tendency to die horribly. Sure, some mystic attacks will clap Logan’s cheeks faster than you can say “I’m the best at what I do”, but usually thanks to his great stamina pool its not his health failing him. No, instead he is just PAINFULLY lurchy. He doesn’t feel great if he can’t double attack, and his charge (while powerful) is too expensive to use r2 even if you didn’t spend to pick up an extract AND your opponent doesnt give you power generation opportunities. And to cap that off the builder can feel surprisingly dicey when you don’t hit the pierce wild. If you want to get the most bang for your buck out of everyone’s favorite X-man, go hunting with No Matter the Cost as it’ll actually give him good round 1 play.
18 – Spider-Man (Peter Parker)
I get why Peter is here despite disagreeing. With Amazing Spider-Man pushing him out of Web Warriors rosters it feels like core spidey doesn’t have a home. But right before ASM was revealed it felt like players were about to turn the corner on core Spider-Man from “sucks” to “surprisingly good control piece”. If you want a mobile as hell, surprisingly tanky control 4 threat (that is unfortunately a BIT pillow-fisted), he’s your guy. That said, in a world of All You’ve Got blenders, not a lot of teams actually want him. Thankfully with the announced alias changes I expect to see him have more table time in Web Warriors, which in turn might embolden more people to consider him as a reasonable splash when they want to play for control.
17 – Killmonger
Usurp the Throne is one of my favorite character specific cards printed. Dice steroid, VPs – whats not to love? The body that comes with it, unfortunately. Not particularly tanky, kinda short ranged, absolutely ZERO control (sure his spender staggers but if Killmonger doesn’t live up to his name he’s hosed). It also doesn’t help that he either doesn’t fit into his home affiliation’s game plans (CS, Wakanda) or is pushed out by Enchantress in Cabal. And much like how Sabretooth is hard to justify a character AND a tactic slot when splashing Killmonger is just not enough oomph for the cost.
16 – Mr. Sinister
And finally! The most 80s X-men villain I can think of (WTF is that cape? is he some kind of weird ribbon dancer?), Mr. Sinister. He’s cool, unique, and fiddly but JUST short of being a hit. After the clarification/nerf to Cloning Banks he just doesn’t do anything particularly unique. Sure, root is a rare condition to hand out but barring that he just kinda comes off as a worse Enchantress. He has had pretty big issues with power economy every time I’ve played with/against him, which TBH is the hallmark of so many unloved 4s. Admittedly if he pops off he is one of the more obnoxious 4s to deal with because he converts his power into roots and beams which means genetic samples which increases his tankiness which is harder to chew through when your superpowers cost more. Get him power and he’s pretty solid, but you can skin a very similar cat with another 4 threat.
And that will be the last 4 threat for today! Which ones do you think are the most criminally underrated? Who do you think will take the top spot? And what threat do you want me to do next (plus why is it 2 threat because 3 is basically impossible)?
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