Top Player PVP defensive hero use statistics, March 2018

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
Solaris 79
Goretusk 77
Grog Gnog 51
Lily 37
Lupina 30
Agnon 24
Shade 19
Koros 15
Zomm 11
Icebloom 8
Ferno 7
Hopper 7
Shadowblade 6
Daeris 3
Ekko 3
Leonidus 3
Hansuki 2
Igorok 2
Kira 2
Rocky 2
Vipera 2
Astrid 1
Brom 1
Dagrund 1
Jabber 1
Kozar 1
Krexx 1
Marrow 1
Therand 1
Torchy 1
Valkin 1

remaining 0
fortyseven
heroes

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.

Comments

  • This is a very well reasoned and written post. If I wasn’t playing fortnite right now, I’d write a longer response (which I reserve the right to do later on), but here are a few points also worth considering in your analysis:

    -The current top 100 is not really the “top” 100. PvP is so boring and stale and rewards so repetitive and useless that a decent portion of hardcore, top pvpers don’t bother competing anymore. Just get to Legend 1 each week for max gem rewards and that’s it. I’m not sure how much your numbers would shift if there was a way to include such players, but I’d expect that it would make some difference. A lot of top pvpers like to experiment with different defenses and look for things to specifically beat the current meta.

    -Losing on defense in pvp has almost literally no effect on trophies, ranking, rewards, etc. Also, win rates of 98%+ are very common at the top end right now. As such, many people, even top players, set a defense months and months ago, and just never go back and change it because it just doesn’t matter. You’re going to lose most defenses, and when you do, you aren’t going to care that you did anyway.

    -Poor matchmaking skews defensive choices. As a prime example of this, at the top end, I view Gotetusk as a junk defensive hero and waste of a slot. I can think of maybe one defensive comp where GT sort of works, and it isn’t a very common one. Other than that, it might as well be 3 vs 4 when GT is on their team. All those GT/lily/grog/sol teams are just automatic wins for top pvpers. However, since matchmaking is total garbage, most people attacking top pvpers’ defenses are not top pvpers, and they struggle against those types of teams. There is incentive to use common teams/heroes simply because lower power players don’t necessarily have the knowledge or runes to deal.

    -People are by nature lazy. They see teams/heroes a few times and just assume there must be a reason, then copy those rather than have to take time experimenting. An easy example of this is the staggeringly vast number of even max rune power teams that use both zomm and Solaris on their defense. Those two heroes prevent each other from using signature abilities. Nothing says “I don’t know what I’m doing” more than including them on the same team. And yet so many people do, simply because they see those two heroes a lot so wrongly assume they must both be good if together, rather than figure out a defense on their own.
  • MattCauthronMattCauthron Member
    edited March 26
    In a game like this there will always be a "best" team or group of teams.

    If you were to walk up to a dev and say "Hey I think it'd be awesome if all your heroes were useful". They'd go "Yea I think that'd be awesome too!... you want to design it?". The reality is it's essentially (If not actually) impossible due to the mechanics of the game. Show me one example of any game with a ton of heroes where all are used equally.

    I'll save you some time on that one. You won't.

    Going a little further on the subject - Given there is always going to be a best team (or group of heroes), if the new hero/hero rework doesn't do anything to affect the meta, you essentially just wasted development time. The game would be exactly the same before the release as it was after the release which is bad for your playerbase as it causes stagnation of play.

    People like to point to lily as a great hero who didn't immediately impact the meta. In reality the meta just took a little longer to settle as people figured out her mechanics, but it eventually did settle like the meta always does.

    The past few heroes have been significantly more balanced when it comes to creating interesting gameplay/mid fight decisions. They are a far stretch better than releasing "I win" heroes like Koros. (Though leo rez positioning did make for some interesting match ups).

    TLDR: What you are asking for is kind of like communism. Nice in theory. Impossible in reality.
  • In a game like this there will always be a "best" team or group of teams.

    If you were to walk up to a dev and say "Hey I think it'd be awesome if all your heroes were useful". They'd go "Yea I think that'd be awesome too!... you want to design it?". The reality is it's essentially (If not actually) impossible due to the mechanics of the game. Show me one example of any game with a ton of heroes where all are used equally.

    I'll save you some time on that one. You won't.

    This is true, but I also think there is a whole lot of design space between “80 heroes who are all equally useful” and “Solaris has to be on every single team”.
  • MattCauthronMattCauthron Member
    edited March 26
    In a game like this there will always be a "best" team or group of teams.

    If you were to walk up to a dev and say "Hey I think it'd be awesome if all your heroes were useful". They'd go "Yea I think that'd be awesome too!... you want to design it?". The reality is it's essentially (If not actually) impossible due to the mechanics of the game. Show me one example of any game with a ton of heroes where all are used equally.

    I'll save you some time on that one. You won't.

    This is true, but I also think there is a whole lot of design space between “80 heroes who are all equally useful” and “Solaris has to be on every single team”.

    While this is true, it also goes back to the second part of my past (Which I added later with an edit). When Solaris was designed, we were still stuck in an all fast 1 round meta. I believe Ember Shade Hopper X was the dominant offense at the time. Solaris allowed for longer fights with more interesting decisions. Hopper counters her, Zomm was redesigned as a solid counter, and Ferno wildfire counters her feathers. Ideally more heroes would be released/reworked with equally potent sustainability or better solaris resurrection counters. Undead rework was a great example of this in my mind. Before Solaris, Shade was the dominant hero on every single team. Before Shade, Kai was a big hero on every defense. There was also a period where Koros completely dominated the meta and Kozar dominated the entire offensive meta.

    The one key hero that dominates the meta will typically always exist for the same reason there will always be a best team/group of heroes. You would just expect it to change slowly over time, which is both true for this game and other similar games.

  • Agree for the most part. Which is why I think it’s even more important that pvp evolves into some combination of:
    1-runes that allow for true customization (e.g. added or modified abilities instead of just stat sticks).
    2-weekly pvp events where the rules are always changing, different heroes buffed or nerfed for the week, heroes disabled at times, limits on number of uses for each hero...whatever form it takes.
    3-faster release of revamps, epics, etc such that it never has to become as stale as it’s been for the last few months since combat revamp.
  • MattCauthronMattCauthron Member
    edited March 26
    Agree for the most part. Which is why I think it’s even more important that pvp evolves into some combination of:
    1-runes that allow for true customization (e.g. added or modified abilities instead of just stat sticks).
    2-weekly pvp events where the rules are always changing, different heroes buffed or nerfed for the week, heroes disabled at times, limits on number of uses for each hero...whatever form it takes.
    3-faster release of revamps, epics, etc such that it never has to become as stale as it’s been for the last few months since combat revamp.


    Many top players might think that's great, but this game has a lot of players. Some players like rapid changes and the experimentation that goes along with it. There are also a lot of players who enjoy being able to use the same team they are comfortable with, and knowing how to beat the defenses they see. They strongly dislike change and having to move their runes around ect.

    You have to strike a balance between the two, and of course you might think the balance is too far one way - but the player who hates change would rather new heroes be released even less often!

    There are other options like creating alternative ladders with special rule sets, but obviously the logistics get a whole lot more complicated at this point.

    It's good to always be sharing your opinions, and the devs definitely do their best to cater to everyone. You just have to step back and realize for every opinion you and your group of friends have, there's almost certainly another group of players who want exactly the opposite.
  • echonapechonap Member
    Therand 1

    Nobody else is shocked that Therand is in someone's defense?

  • I would add that looking at the defenses of the top trophy earners may be more insightful.


  • We all miss the days of using Therand dont we? I really do.
  • Therand was fun :(
  • danacdanac Member
    sirolk99 wrote: »
    Therand was fun :(

    I especially liked the two days where his 1st special would kill everything because of a glitch.

  • rather than nerf solaris - just super buff everyone else, its probably the fairest solution
    www.youtube.com/DarthCraig
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    Are all plugs shameless?
  • coneyKconeyK Member
    The main conflict that will prevent variety and balance is the following: making a crapton of money quickly and making all heroes useful are conflicting goals.

    The devs have done many small things along the way to hinder balance in many senses of the word. Shall I rewind the tape?

    1: A disproportionate amount of heroes require dark evos to ascend
    2: Shade was released alongside runes, deliberately given 5 dark-rune slots and an epic whose primary stat was attack VERY soon after his release.
    3. Epic releases were predominantly fire until enough people got ticked off. Squinch, Torchy, Lupina, Nitpick. So the devs released more epics for different elements, but still gave them the fire-material upgrade tree. When called out on this, they didn't even fully fix future epics - you still need a ton of Pyre Embers, Brimstone, Flame Spirits, Blazing Tomes, etc.

    If you could get great mileage out of Selwyn, would you be as motivated to chase after IGOROK? Why buff up an old hero to rebalance the meta, when you could create a new hero that counters the current meta, and then a new hero to offset them, and so on and so forth? I'm pretty sure Agnon was supposed to be a counter to Goretusk's stupid-high defense. Shade was a counter to Kai. So on and so forth.

    Solaris needs a nerf. What if her auto-resurrection only charged up while she was dead? That alone might make a massive difference. If not, reduce the number of turns her can't-remove-corpse status lasts by 1.
  • coneyK wrote: »
    Solaris needs a nerf. What if her auto-resurrection only charged up while she was dead? That alone might make a massive difference. If not, reduce the number of turns her can't-remove-corpse status lasts by 1.

    Or even just increase her res counter to five so she can't res as often. Many times, mostly with GT/Leo, you can't kill both tanks in time for her res to reactivate and when they or she dies, they come back. Maybe her "res beasts when ressing herself" should be removed entirely.

  • coneyK wrote: »
    If you could get great mileage out of Selwyn, would you be as motivated to chase after IGOROK? Why buff up an old hero to rebalance the meta, when you could create a new hero that counters the current meta

    @coneyK What was that about Selwyn and not buffing old heroes?

  • 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
    Solaris 79
    Goretusk 77
    Grog Gnog 51
    Lily 37
    Lupina 30
    Agnon 24
    Shade 19
    Koros 15
    Zomm 11
    Icebloom 8
    Ferno 7
    Hopper 7
    Shadowblade 6
    Daeris 3
    Ekko 3
    Leonidus 3
    Hansuki 2
    Igorok 2
    Kira 2
    Rocky 2
    Vipera 2
    Astrid 1
    Brom 1
    Dagrund 1
    Jabber 1
    Kozar 1
    Krexx 1
    Marrow 1
    Therand 1
    Torchy 1
    Valkin 1

    remaining 0
    fortyseven
    heroes

    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.

    Wow, excellent and well thought out. This game is like an onion......it brings tears to my eyes! Oh yes and it has the layers too.
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