Yesterday, I decided to take the time to tally which heroes were used on defense by the 100 highest ranked boss players. (I suspect offensive use of heroes would change depending upon opponent -- and I do not have access to that info). Let me begin with a summary of results, then I will follow it with objective observations, followed several opinions supported by this data.
hero Number of top 100 players using hero
Grog Gnog 51
Now my observations:
1. These statistics are obviously not independent. It was quite frequent to see guild-mates using identical or very similar decks. I also did not attempt to conduct a formal statistical analysis. (The fact that 4 different heroes are on the same team makes standard tests such as chi-squared tests for a predicted distribution inapplicable.) None the less, the data are striking and very obviously statistically significant.
2. Pure frequency count does not necessarily reflect a character's general usefulness as certain synergies may suggest a particular hero only in specialized circumstances. For instance, virtually all uses of Lupina were on teams also containing Solaris, Goretusk, and Grog Gnog
3. Over 3/5ths of the available characters were never used; the top six characters occupied 3/4ths of the 400 positions available on the top 100 defensive teams.
4. I am presently "only" level 58. I can suggest things based upon my experience, but I do not expect my experience to be definitive on all issues.
Finally, my opinions:
1. There is definitely very poor balance amongst Dungeon Boss characters. While some problems may be synergies (I doubt many players would greatly fear Lupina alone), I think this data points towards several badly over-powered culprits -- the worst being Solaris, though Grog Gnog, Lily, Goretusk are also problems. Were it not for the horrible balance of these characters, Agnon, Shade, Koros, and Zomm would be suspect. Many characters could easily be argued as underpowered.
2. Imbalance significantly reduces enjoyment of the game.
a. It is unfair to players who, through bad luck, fail to summon good characters early in the game.
b. It creates boredom in PVP when very little variance in opponents is encountered.
c. 10 viable characters offer far fewer strategic options than 78 nearly equal characters would offer.
3. It is hard for developers to nerf powerful characters. Players who invest in those characters feel cheated, and experienced players get frustrated re-learning game mechanics and balance. Bolstering presently weak characters is disruptive. While care must be taken to not inadvertently create a new uber-hero, it shouldn't be that difficult to make a small changes (e.g. adding 5% more attack) that neither change a character's core behavior, nor provide a sudden jump in effectiveness. Numerous small changes that gradually bring a weak character up to balance are unlikely to cause major dismay.
4. Some characters are presently so imbalanced that nerfing -- despite its problems is still in order. Slowing down Solaris' resurrection or eliminating some of its boosts to and from other beasts would be a good starting point. Limiting Goretusks taunt in some way would help put him on a par with other tanks.