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Building an Arena Team in Marvel Strike Force

Michael Bitton Posted:
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Thinking about “PvP” in a lot of mobile games requires a different mindset than how you’d be thinking about tackling other types of content. PvP is often really just PvE vs. another player’s team and this is true in Marvel Strike Force as well. In this week’s guide, we’ll talk about how to build an Arena team on offense, but more importantly, how to build a team for defense.


Thinking about how to build a team on offense is straightforward. Once you learn the “meta” you figure out the best ways to handle it and you go from there. Typically, most teams you’ll encounter will feature a tank or two screening for Crossbones’ massive, but delayed, AOE and some dedicated damage dealers like the ubiquitous Yondu along with them. If you’re facing a typical Crossbones team, the match is quite literally a ticking time-bomb and your goal is to get Crossbones down before he blows up. He makes this somewhat easier for you by taunting on turn one, but with multiple tanks in play, he’ll often end up behind their screens if you don’t get rid of him quickly.

I suppose it’s best to talk about meta comps here and characters you should work on acquiring and building up. The following characters can do you no wrong in your offense PvP lineup:

  • Yondu
  • Quake
  • Crossbones
  • Gamora
  • Drax

I don’t run this particular team, though I do run Quake, Yondu, and Gamora, but these are all characters you can acquire and progress with with relative ease and they are highly effective at what they do. Yondu can be farmed in the campaign while Quake, Crossbones, Gamora, and Drax can all be found in the Arena/Blitz stores. Crossbones can also be farmed in the campaign, making him even more attractive to slot into your roster, though his node appears fairly late in the Villains campaign and with the increased difficulty nowadays, you may have a hard time getting to it if you’re just starting out.

The goal with this team is simple: kill as much of the enemy as you can while protecting Crossbones as your win condition.  Use Quake to target the center of the enemy team with her AOE slow (ignore her #2 skill unless you really need to strip a buff/taunt). Keep the team slowed and you’ll basically be going twice as often. This also means the enemy Quake you will inevitably face is a high priority target. Her AI is poor so she won’t fire off her slow until turn two, so be sure to kill her before then or you’re in for a bad time. Use Drax to screen for Crossbones and never taunt with Crossbones unless you absolutely have to.  Yondu’s first skill can be used to remove taunts and get to squishy targets and his AOE is ultimate is essential to softening things up for your Gamora, who excels at killing multiple targets thru her reset mechanic.

At some point, you’ll start running into Black Widow frequently, so you may want to work on farming and gearing up Hawkeye on the side as a tech pick to hard counter her. Hawkeye is really great at dispelling enemy buffs, applying Blind (arguably better than stun, since the enemy AI will still burn important moves if you time it right), and targeting stealth characters like Black Widow. He does have a number of bugs right now that hold him back, but he’s still worth investing in.


Defense is a whole different ballgame. There’s still a lot of overlap in the meta characters you’ll want to field on defense, but you really need to think about things differently. As I mentioned before, Quake’s AI is poor and this is key to understand for your defense team. Arena matches are typically decided in the first two or three turns and the AI doesn’t make decisions, it just goes through whatever its programmed routine is. You want to build your team considering the order in which your AI defenders will execute their moves and their position on your roster.

Since Quake doesn’t apply her slow until turn two, she’s not such a great pick to have on defense, but she can still be included if you field multiple tanks. As long as she can get to turn two without dying she’ll still be a threat when played by the AI, but before then she’s just a free kill if you have a frontline that can be breached early. I wouldn’t field her on defense without two tanks who fire their taunts off on turn one, and even then it can be dicey. Drax auto-taunts at the start of the fight, but if Yondu clears it, it’s possible for your opponent to focus fire your Quake before someone like Crossbones taunts to protect her.

I’m not a huge fan of Crossbones on defense despite his ubiquity because he does taunt on turn one, but at the same time, his threat of blowing up makes your opponent waste a ton of resources killing him so he does often do his job, it just ends up being a different job entirely.  I feel characters such as Kingpin and Hand Sentry do a better job at protecting your team.

That said the Drax/Crossbones set up will definitely tide you over for quite a while, so there’s not a whole lot wrong with pursuing it. You just may want to consider replacing Quake with someone else. Daredevil and Elektra are reliable and easy to acquire, so they are solid options to replace Quake in your defense lineup.

Feel free to experiment, but just think about your comp in terms of how you would have to deal with fighting it on offense. You’ll learn each characters patterns more as you play the game.

I wanted to talk about one more thing to consider on defense and that is positioning. This is something helpful to consider on offense, too. It’s not as important on offense since the AI won’t exploit poor positioning, however, other players will. The gist of it is that many abilities in the game chain or have adjacency based AOE effects, making targeting the center of a team the most impactful with these moves. To make this harder for your opponent, try to stick your tanks opposite each other on the far ends of the lineup. If they’re taunting, this will limit the impact of your opponent’s adjacency based abilities. You can actually break chain abilities by sticking stealth-based characters behind your tanks in these positions, since chain attacks don’t apply to enemies in stealth. Placing Elektra behind Drax or Crossbones in this case would stop any chain attacks made against them from continuing to other targets since Elektra will use a move that places her in stealth on turn one. Stealth is a great way to counter the meta right now in general, since Yondu, who is everywhere, cannot target those in stealth with his ultimate. This is why you may want to look into picking up Hand Sentry as he stealths (and provides evade) to your entire team when upgraded.

Here’s an example lineup:

In this setup, Drax is adjacent to Yondu and Crossbones is adjacent to Rocket. This forces the enemy to make some painful choices. Crossbones will blow up if left alone, making him a priority target, but if they want to get to Yondu before he fires off his AOE ultimate on turn two, they’ll need to go through Drax instead, leaving Crossbones that much more time to get his nuke off. Leaving Crossbones more time in this case also grants Rocket more time to get his giant AOE off on turn three, making this positioning beneficial to him as well. Meanwhile, Gamora, the squishiest character, sits in the center, making her hardest to deal with through adjacency.

TL;DR: Build your team around the simplicity of the game’s AI and position your lineup for optimal frustration.

Got any of your own Arena tips for MSF? Share ‘em with us in the comments below!


Michael Bitton

Michael Bitton / Michael began his career at the WarCry Network in 2005 as the site manager for several different WarCry fansite portals. In 2008, Michael worked for the startup magazine Massive Gamer as a columnist and online news editor. In June of 2009, Michael joined MMORPG.com as the site's Community Manager. Follow him on Twitter @eMikeB