After many months on Test Center, Marvel Heroes’ “Biggest Update Ever” is finally on live servers. Those of you logging in to check the update out for the first time are likely to feel overwhelmed by all the changes. Skill points are gone. Characters scale off of different stats. Everyone has rows of talents to pick from. Some characters even have entirely new powers to play with! It can be a lot to take in. Heck, I almost gave up on my main (X-23) after fiddling around with her. She was sort of playable in the past, but I felt this massive update was her one critical opportunity to get some attention from the developers. She’s just not super popular. Luckily, the update was actually quite good to Laura, so I want to take this week’s column to share what I’ve put together to get the most out of the character.
My Laura build leans on her movement specialization. The respective bleed-related talents and powers will work as well, if that’s what you’re looking for, but she feels noticeably more powerful focused on the movement side of things.
- Keep Moving: Pick this to gain a 10% damage boost to movement powers across the board.
- Deadly Grace: This talent is critical to making this build work. Not only are Cyclone Kick and Open the Jugular your main cooldown abilities in this spec, but they are also how you manage your Wrath for Capoeira spam (more on that in a bit).
- Slippery Target: The talent selection on tier 3 is mostly up to taste. All three are fine options. I went with Slippery Target for the dodge bonus provided when using movement powers.
- Bloody Leap: Laura doesn’t have a whole lot of options for AoE clearing trash and this talent not only makes Bloody Harvest (a channeled AoE) a movement power, but it also gives it an extra 50% damage and doubles its healing effect. This makes it a solid power for dealing with tons of mobs while restoring your own health and it benefits significantly from our movement gear and Infinity point selections.
Currently, this talent also grants Rending Leap a Grievous Wounds bleed, but this is being moved to Final Technique (Tier 2) next patch. If you don’t plan on using Bloody Harvest, Building Ferocity is your next best choice at this tier.
- Footwork: This talent combined with Deadly Grace is what ties the entire build together. It is absolutely critical.
- Capoeira: This is your Wrath spender. Spam this in between cooldowns.
- Crimson Sweep: Open combat with this to apply vulnerability and a Grievous Wounds DoT.
- Dancing Blades: Your signature ability. Unlike other heroes, your signature is very actively weaved into your main rotation. You’ll start out with five charges and you should follow Crimson Sweep with all five charges to open up combat.
- Cyclone Kick & Open the Jugular: Your bread and butter cooldown abilities. Make sure you use these after Dancing Blades to restore additional charges to your signature (Footwork talent).
- Rending Leap: Another movement cooldown ability. This also has the added utility of having a 25% chance to reset the cooldown on the aforementioned Cyclone Kick & Open the Jugular. Even if this doesn’t proc, it will shave four seconds off of Cyclone Kick’s cooldown so you can do it all again.
- Bloody Harvest: I use this for AoE clear, but if you picked the Unexpected Recovery talent, you might want to replace this with Covert Assassin.
- Graceful Maneuver: This is your mobility skill and crowd control cleanse. It also grants a movement and attack speed buff. I don’t bother trying to keep the buff going since X-23 has incredibly short cooldowns and uses her signature so often that the small buff to Capoeira’s attack speed isn’t worth the hassle.
- Slots 1-5: I’m still working on these, but I haven’t had any issues running her own uniques, only replacing slots one and five with Fragment of Twilight and Mask of the Goat, respectively.
- Legendary: Savage Axe of Ares. This is a no brainer for a purely physical melee character like X-23.
- Uru: The Power Doop. The physical proc makes this enchant best-in-slot.
- Ring: Midtown Signet Ring. You’re using movement abilities often enough to keep this going.
- Medallion: I’m still running my Skrull Avengers medallion for the ~550 melee damage, extra HP, and attack speed. You can easily opt for the usual fallbacks of Kurse, Juggernaut, or Madame Hydra. Worthy mentions are the Rhino and Batroc medallions for the movement power focus.
- Relic: Atlantis for the critical damage.
- Insignia: I run Mockingbird for the attack speed proc. Aside from my medallion, I don’t run attack speed anywhere else in my setup, so I feel this is helpful here. You’re looking for the usual affixes such as critical hit rating, critical damage, melee damage, etc.
- Artifacts: Despite X-23’s small HP pool, I’ve still found her to be incredibly hardy. That said, X-23 does scale off of speed and durability, which makes some of the higher end defensive artifacts appealing to her for both damage and defense. For that reason, I’ve opted to run White Suit Jacket (or Fred Dukes’ Bodysuit), Advanced Circlet of Cyttorak, Sabretooth’s Furry Mane (this may be replaced once Rending Leap loses its bleed in our spec), and Black Cat’s Advanced Grappling Hook. The real stars of the build are the Hook and the Circlet. You can certainly replace the Jacket and Mane with alternatives such as Taskmaster’s Guide or Gem of the Kursed. The Hook gives huge damage bonuses to movement powers and also comes with speed, so it’s a perfect fit for a movement based X-23. The Circlet offers great offensive stats, but also solid utility with the 15000 HP shield proc that you can trigger.
- Team Up: I use Wasp for the 20% damage proc. I’m fairly sure I keep it up almost all of the time and I tend to dislike active Team Ups. Feel free to pick whichever Team Up you like.
- Angela: Many of your powers are area tagged and the +1 Speed make this pick a no brainer.
- Blade: I almost always take Blade for the 3% attack speed.
- Cable: Run this on every character. Crits are awesome!
- Doctor Doom: +10% damage for your signature and you’re using it all the time. Incredible value.
- Elektra: This pick is worth 5% damage vs. bosses for physical characters.
- Juggernaut: 6% damage for movement powers? Yes please!
- Moon Knight: For the physical crit multiplier.
- Nightcrawler: Great melee damage pick.
- Squirrel Girl: A must have for all characters.
- Wolverine: Another must have for the brutal strike multiplier.
- Mind Gem: This gem is fairly useless for us. You can dump points into Intelligence for some extra critical damage, but I put the points into Mind Over Matter for some additional health regeneration. The Wrath cost related nodes might seem appealing, but with this build’s rotation, you’ll always have Wrath when you need it.
- Power Gem: Beeline right for Potency. This node will give you a serious boost to your signature power, making it a solid pick for most of the cast, but especially for X-23. Once you’ve got that maxed out, I’d grab Indomitable for some extra defense.
- Space Gem: We can get Durability here, but these attribute nodes are fairly inefficient uses of points if you have other options available. For that reason, I go for Red Shift first. Many of our powers feature the area tag allowing us to benefit a lot more per point than we would just picking up extra Durability. Once you’ve maxed out Red Shift, feel free to go ahead and dump those extra Space Gem points into Durability.
- Time Gem: This gem is full of enticing choices for us. Like the Space gem, we scale off of Speed here, but again, it’s inefficient to go for first. Instead, go for Chrono-surge to give yourself a massive damage boost to movement powers.
Beyond Chrono-surge, it’s up to you where you go next. You could start dumping points into Speed, or you could go for Haste and/or Temporal Loophole. I don’t put too high of a value on attack speed in this build, so Temporal Loophole isn’t a high priority for me, but it’s an efficient node and it frees you up to not worry about attack speed in your gear if you go for it. Haste is also an attractive node for pure quality of life purposes. Given the restrictions on mobility now, being able to run around at 50+% speed is pretty nice, but it’s more of a luxury than anything else.
- Reality Gem: Unless you scale off of Energy, you’re going to be hitting the same nodes here on every character. Magic Bullets and Tilt the Odds are what you’re looking for. You may also want Spliced Reality if you’re running Covert Assassin.
- Soul Gem: This gem is similar to the situation with Reality Gem. You’re going to want Strike True and Strike Through. I’m also a fan of God Among Insects for the extra HP.
Now that we’ve got all the setup out of the way, how does X-23 actually play? It all comes down to Cyclone Kick, Open the Jugular, and Dancing Blades. You want to open up combat with Crimson Sweep to apply vulnerability and then blow all five of your Dancing Blades charges onto your target. Now go into Cyclone Kick and then Open the Jugular. Follow this with a Rending Leap to either reset the cooldowns of both Kick and Jugular altogether, or shave four seconds off of Kick’s cooldown. Spam Capoeira in between cooldowns. The key to successfully pulling off this rotation is making sure you’re using Kick and Jugular while Killer Trance, the buff that triggers when all charges of Dancing Blades are expended, is active. Using these abilities during this buffs uptime will restore charges to Dancing Blades, allowing you to weave your signature into your primary rotation.
Dancing Blades also restores all Wrath once its charges are expended, so you don’t want to just blow your newly earned charges as soon as you get them. You’ll want to make sure you get in enough Capoeira spam and have enough Wrath to continue to accrue charges throughout combat. This is both a fun and clunky aspect of X-23. It’s fun in that you get to interact with your signature like few other heroes on the roster do, but it’s also clunky in that you can find yourself completely without resources and thus waiting for the lengthy 40s second full cooldown of your signature if you aren’t properly managing your charges.
For me, this often happens in between fights. I’ll get through a fight and then move on to the next one without using Cyclone Kick and Open the Jugular to regain charges. Now that I’ve played this build a bunch, I make a habit of pressing the buttons even between fights when there aren’t enemies around to ensure that I don’t show up to the next one without any Dancing Blades charges. Once you’ve nailed this rhythm down though, you’ll be leaving a trail of bloody corpses in your wake wherever you go.