AFK Arena: Strategy – Making something out of nothing, creative teambuilding

Players get different heroes, stages vary in difficulty, but one thing common across game experiences is getting stuck. Getting stuck can happen for any number of reasons: over levelling, a hard stage, a specific counter. Most people hate getting stuck – you’re off your progress, other people are passing you, you’re missing out on precious rewards. Me, maybe I’m twisted; I like it.

Issue introduction

If the game could speak, it is telling you “Enough with the auto-pilot, bucko. It’s time we sit down and talk”. It’s separating the wheat from the chaff, it’s a challenge – its the kind of thing you can improve from. Look, I know sometimes it’s about waiting for a mercenary, other times its just a matter of retries – but these are not what I want to focus on. I want to talk to you about the unused potential you got – Yes, I’m talking about those low ascension unloved heroes, off-meta, fodder-like, no-crystal, gearless useless wastes of bag space that you keep telling yourself you’ll use someday. The ones you hope to ascend for a union or a level cap so you can eventually forget about them; I want to talk to you about the heroes you don’t care about. The Raines, the Rigbys, The Vurks, the Wareks – I’m here today to make the case you can push yourself forward if you keep both your eyes open, and you can sometimes use them to get ideas where everything else leads you nowhere.

Well, “bad heroes” is subjective, and I need to ground this down if we want anything practical here – so for this thread, we’re going to teambuild with what others would be stuck with. I dove deep into the internet and found an AFK Arena thread in a tech blog [1]. This guy went ahead and named what he thinks is the most useless set of heroes in the late-game. We don’t necessarily agree with him, but we can advise him in teambuilding – help him make the best out of nothing. Let’s find 5 useful heroes where he would never look.

r/afkarena - Afkarena strategy: Making something out of nothing, creative teambuilding.
Our team: the so-called bad heroes

Assume all of those beauties are level 240, ascended, SI at +1. Let’s say they’re facing a campaign stage that this guy would deem Difficult:

r/afkarena - Afkarena strategy: Making something out of nothing, creative teambuilding.
A tough enemy team: Arthur Nara frontline, Lucius Gwyneth, and Ross in the back. All high tier campaign heroes at Lvl 300. Scary stuff.

How can we help the guy get through?

Analysis

If you know the enemy and you know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles

Sun Tzu, The Art of War

Most campaign levels are less carry-centric than this. I can easily see why our fictional arsenal holder will get stuck when faced with this team. If you don’t have that strong CC to counter carries, like Athalia or Nara for the enemy Gwyneth, she will wreak havoc. Speaking of her, she’s the main threat of the composition. Her ult hits the whole enemy side of the field, her ferocious ability enhanced basic attacks dealing massive amounts of physical damage are nothing to scoff at, as they can keep a whole team stunned, with their healing countered.

Also, there’s Rosaline and Nara: both secondary carries able to dish massive amounts of single target damage if set upright. Rosaline needs to follow an ally, and then she could use her Crockery very often to deal with unprecedented amounts of damage to your team. Nara doesn’t just CC, she’s also a silent but deadly threat waiting for your unsuspecting carry to fall below the health threshold; at this power ratio, she will most certainly OHKO anything with her ult.

Then, there’s the secondary threat of the tanks. Arthur receives 70% less damage from anything that faces him, and when working in tandem with Lucius and his ults they both pose a massive threat to time out the match.

But then, you can also infer their weaknesses from their strengths:

  • Gwyneth is the only AOE hyper-carry in this comp. Once she’s dealt with, you could probably sustain to fight a long fight; She also hates invades.
  • Nara can spend a long time CC’ing one enemy and not doing much otherwise. If the victim sustains long enough, she isn’t a big problem.
  • Lucius and Arthur won’t hurt you much, they’re easy to sustain through. Arthur’s mitigation only works against front-facing enemies, so he hates invades.
  • When the ally Rosaline follows moves, she won’t do anything until she is back with them. This means if her ally is invaded and CC’d, she will often walk around the battlefield like a clueless chicken for a good portion of the fight.

Note two common denominators of those weaknesses: sustain and invades.

Teambuilding

r/afkarena - Afkarena strategy: Making something out of nothing, creative teambuilding.
De ja vu: This is what we have.

With sustain and invades in mind, can you find a needle of hope in the haywire of the supposed low tier heroes?

9 Maulers, 5 Wilders, 4 Lightbearers, 5 Graveborn, 1 Hypogean. There are very little healers in our comp, in 2 contenders: Khasos life leech and Numisu totems. To avoid being constricted to them in faction disadvantage, let’s find self-sustaining carries, invaders and support heroes. A good approach would be to list them by category:

  • Self-sustaining carries: Izold, Tidus, Antandara, Satrana, Khasos, Zolrath
  • Invaders: Gorvo, Warek, Tidus, Kelthur.
  • Support heroes: Numisu, Skriath, Grezhul, Ulmus / Seirus, Zolrath (Hypogean faction bonus), Estrilda, Raine, Lorsan, Warek (absorbing CC).

Looking at this list, we’re short on carries that meet the criteria to fit here; A good start would be teambuilding around Izold. Izold has many redeeming qualities here: faction bonus, constant ult self-healing and AoE damage as well as CC and a decent SI even at +1.

After picking Izold, an invading faction-bonus assassin that ignores damage periodically and lives after death in Kelthur is a natural pick. Other Graveborn heroes like Isabella and Baden aren’t the perfect fit here, and Grezhul isn’t very useful as most damage is physical and he cant heal from his clones. This opens up the venue of a secondary faction, and looking at our arsenal I instantly gravitate towards Wilders.

Gorvo is great in this set. He instant jumps deep into the enemy team, applying heavy CC and stuns on Gwyneth where it is needed while body blocking her arrows.

Lorsan is another great hero, one I believe the author miss-tiered. Increasing team DPS before all CC is applied and providing shields if he lives long enough are both great qualities to have in a support hero.

The last pick goes to Ulmus, leaving us with a 3-2 factional bonus. His tankiness and roots support the team greatly while being able to serve as a side-carry that’s self-sustaining if he gets to ult.

Positioning is fundamental here: Ulmus should be a part of the frontline as the tankiest in the list, while Kelthur should go on Rosa, making her useless while he invades. Lorsan is the best for Nara, not suffering much from her CC. Gorvo is best in front of Gwyneth, jumping away from her arrows and initiating with the jump; so Izold gets the corner treatment. There’s merit to swapping Izold and Gorvo around, but other than that the setup is pretty static. Let me know in the comments if you would do it differently.

Solution

Look at these madmen. Visualization courtesy of my guildmate, Gorp (ignore levels / ascensions / items here):

r/afkarena - Afkarena strategy: Making something out of nothing, creative teambuilding.
The off-meta bois preparing to unleash hell itself.

It won’t be a first try win, neither will it be a second; but if you’re lucky enough to keep Gwyneth CC’d for your early-fight damage dealers to burst her, and you land the right CC at the right time, you’ll eventually win.

Concluding notes

While the solution isn’t a devastating 100% winner, it certainly beats stuck. I think using uncommon heroes is a great practice for learning advanced synergies, however, it’s often about one hero or position that you may substitute to make the difference in your level. Teambuilding creativity is one concept that is even more crucial in the very late game, where you often have to come up with 5 or more sets – creative players get better results in the long run. I’m also not advocating for abandoning the meta and the tier lists. Rather, if there’s anything I’ll be happy to see happen more is people making the best use of what they have while enjoying the strategic aspect of the game.

Feel free to check out this, an example from my channel where I use uncommon heroes to handle late-game challenges; I’ll upload more content about advanced synergies there soon.

Let me know what you think!

[1]: Tech blog: https://play.droidfeats.com/afk-arena-tier-list-by-reddit-community/

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