Types of PvP

One concept I’ve seen misunderstood by many players in both competitive game scenes and casual game scenes is the concept of what counts as a Player versus Player (PvP) action.  Most players tend to understand this concept as something direct.  Common examples of this include being able to steal from other players, duel them, or even kill them.  But there are a lot of actions that, I argue, are heavy-handed PvP actions that most players don’t recognize as such.  Now the point of this discussion is not to make a judgement call on whether or not these kinds of PvP are acceptable.  Rather, it is to bring their existence to light, so that game creators and players alike can recognize them, discuss them, and if necessary, mitigate them.

Sidenote: While the common vocabulary for this is Player versus Player, it is more appropriate in many games to describe the actions as Character versus Character, or CvC, instead of PvP.  For the sake of consistency I'm going to continue to use PvP. 


The easiest example of this is social PvP.  Instead of damaging a player via mechanics, such as causing damaging or stealing gold, they instead damage their reputation.  It is rare for a game to not highly value a player’s reputation.  Even in short board games or other one-off style games, a player’s reputation can be crucial in clinching victory.  

Not pictured: All the friends you’re going to lose playing this game

In board games like Battlestar Galatica and other hidden identity games, a player’s reputation is vital.  If they are one of the “good guy” style players, they need to ensure their reputation is intact to prevent them from being mistakenly hindered or even killed by misled teammates.  If they are one of the “bad guy” style players, a positive reputation is required to hide their nefarious actions long enough to claim victory. 

This effect is even more dramatic in long-running games, whether virtual (such as MMOs like World of Warcraft) or physical (such as LARPs like NERO).  Having a strong positive reputation means that a player will get more frequent and generous dealings, will be included in more lucrative encounters, and less likely to be thrown on to the chopping block when a group of players needs a sacrifice.

Now that we’ve established the value of reputation to a player in these games, let’s look at ways that other players attack reputation.  The most obvious is open vilification (whether true or not), through verbal and written word.  This is a popular technique, especially with players that are particularly charismatic, popular, or both.  

But there are subtler techniques, too.  Small scale gossip is the classic example, as gamers are notorious for loving gossip and talking about other players.

Pony up the juicy details!

A particularly devious method can be employed by leaders (or other characters that have some group selection mechanic).  When a player has the ability to control who is included in the “in” group, this player can subtly bias other players towards or against particular players.

For example, let’s say that one player is an adventure leader, and frequently is given the capability of picking an adventuring crew.  By carefully selecting crew members that player wants to bond with, they can effectively commit social PvP against the players they choose to exclude.  These excluded players will be increasingly seen as “outsiders” by the players that are consistently picked to go on adventures.  Players will generally prefer reliable choices, and that means continuing to work with players they have already worked with in the past.

Sidenote: Sometimes this form of PvP (and others) is committed accidentally or unintentionally.  In the adventure leader, for example, the player may be forced to exclude some players, and even doing their best may not be able to be truly fair.  On the flip side, cunning players will hide behind this shield, claiming their intentions were innocent when they were not.


Economic PvP is simply hurting a player’s resources, rather than the player themselves.  This one is more subtle than social PvP in many ways, but in some games much more widespread.  Theft technically qualifies as economic PvP, but for this article we’re examining the subtler forms of PvP.

Photo by rawpixel.com from Pexels
Not a good thing to be forced into

One such technique is undercutting.  Undercutting is the act of selling goods at a cheaper price than another player.  Much like in the real world, this forces the victim to either drop their prices (thus decreasing their income) or lose business (also decreasing their income).  In many games that have automated stores like auction houses, this can even be done anonymously.  Even in games that display character names in auction houses, a savvy player can often hide their real name by using an alt.

Undercutting is just one technique of a more general concept – taking business away from a player.  Another common way of doing this is for a higher positive-reputation player to enter the same business.  Even with the same or higher prices, the better-liked player may take away business from the lesser-liked player.

Another way is through the collection of exclusive resources.  This can be seen clearly in deck-building games with unique cards accessible via a common pool.  When one player purchases a card, that card is gone forever, effectively preventing other players from purchasing it.  This is, effectively, a form of PvP, as by purchasing that card, a player is making other players’ decks weaker.  In draft-style games, such as some Magic: The Gathering tournaments, this technique is more commonly referred to as “hate-drafting”.  A player will sometimes take a card that is powerful for an opponent, but weak for themselves, simply to deny their opponent the powerful card.


Probably the least obvious form of PvP is Labor PvP.  Labor PvP is the act of doing work, and, in doing so, taking away this potential work from another player.  This has some overlap with economic PvP, so instead we will discuss the non-overlap.

Most jobs only need done once, after all

In many persistent games, virtual or physical, there will be events that are first come, first serve.  In LARPing, these are often referred to as modules, or mods for short.  Often, these mods can be run once (or perhaps a small, but limited number of times), and then are unavailable.  When you have this style of mechanic, a player is forced to commit labor PvP against other players whenever they do a mod.  By doing this mod, they prevent other players from ever claiming the rewards.

This can also be seen in any game where players have direct interaction with staff that are running the game, and staff time provides a benefit to a player.  Since staff time is limited, players that demand more staff attention and time get more of this benefit and deny this benefit to other players.

Now of course, labor PvP is generally-speaking less direct, and often incidental.  But it is still actions taken by a player that cause damage to other players.

In summary, there are a lot more types of PvP than players tend to recognize.  The point here is not to cast a judgement on them, or any players that either intentionally or unintentionally engage in these forms of PvP.  Rather, I seek to make it clear that these actions are a kind of PvP, and to pretend otherwise is ignorant.  Now that these kinds of actions have been established as PvP, we can discuss their merits, and encourage or mitigate them as desired.

Marvel Strike Guide: New Player’s Quickstart Guide

If you’re getting into Marvel Strike, and you want a guide to teach you the steps to best set yourself up for success, this is it.  If you’re looking for an in-depth guide to the basics of the game and the game modes, I’d recommend looking at Tauna’s Marvel Strike guide here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1uFw-vXHxJ7YbMi1BijoqM7XNtNICKHcWngu4Q0IRov0
Tauna’s guide is excellent, but gives dated character advice, which I’ll be rectifying here.

Your First Team

The Defenders: Daredevil, Iron Fist, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage.  Punisher rounds out the team.  Their portraits are in the order you should have them arranged in your team in-game, left to right.  Subsequent teams will be arranged in the same way.

Why The Defenders?  They’re a team with strong synergies and powerful in many game modes, including arena, blitz, and raids.  You can farm each of them, they’re available early on, they use a good spread of currencies (Daredevil is acquired with arena credits, Luke Cage with blitz credits, and the other 3 with campaign energy).  They are also all City Heroes, qualifying for the Block Party event (which gets you valuable ability materials).

They’re so far and away the best choice for a new player to focus on first that there isn’t any debate about it, and instead I’m going to focus on the second and third team choices.


Early on, you’ll want to pick a Villain team as well for the Villain campaign.  Now important context: you’ll eventually need the following teams in the  short-term: Cosmic, Mystic, and Mercenary, besides the teams you’ll need for challenges.

My picks:

The best team that you can guaranteed build for free is: Crossbones /
Mordo/ Yondu / Merc LT / Merc Riot Guard / Elektra

Now, notice that I say guaranteed.  And I listed 6 characters!  What is wrong with me?  We don’t have time for that, so let’s talk about the other two.  
Frankly, Elektra should be dropped from the team, as she’s a mediocre character at best when outside of an all-Hand team.  I included her as an option because she doesn’t cost a valuable currency like Mordo does (arena) and a lot of players swear by her.  I think they’re wrong and holding on to her for the nostalgia factor like a childhood blankie, but I digress.

If you’re following this guide well, you’ll place high enough in blitz to unlock around eight characters through the blitz rank and milestone rewards that you wouldn’t otherwise have access to.  For me, one of those was Loki, and he immediately went into my Villain team.  The list will change over time, but if you snag Loki, Thanos, Korath, Kingpin, or Hand Sentry (among other options), they should go right in.

If you haven’t already dropped Elektra, you should drop her for a character you obtain from blitzes.  After that it’s arguable, but I’d lean towards Mordo, unless you got a Cosmic & Mystic(C&M) character like Loki or Thanos.  If you get a C&M character, drop one of the Mercs that fill a similar role.  In other words, if you can go heavy into C&M characters, you want to do that.

The Hand Alternative

The Hand is another option to focus on farming, but I don’t think it’s as strong of a choice.  Nobu, the best character in The Hand, isn’t farmable at all and Assassin isn’t farmable until much later.  This means you have to include Hand Sentry in your team, who requires precious raid currency.  You can do this, but I think the currency is better spent on gear and the Hand in general don’t bring as many useful traits, like Cosmic.  They also aren’t as good in challenges as they rely on team synergy a lot.

Ménage à trois

Or your third team, for the less cultured among you.  Like your option for the Villain campaign, your third team to focus on is debated as well.  An important caveat – you shouldn’t be putting any resources into your third team for the first few months, except to set them up for Blitz (see Blitz section below) and maybe farming their shards (if they’re from energy and it doesn’t hurt your gear progression too much).

My pick:

Kree Minions

Critically, they unlock one of the best characters in the game: Nick Fury.  Nick Fury (NF) is the key component in the best overall team in the game right now, pairing him with 4 SHIELD minions (the brotherhood theoretically beats out NF + SHIELD in arena, but the brotherhood are near useless in raids and require heavy whaling to acquire due to not being farmable).

Overall, this means you’d have to farm & gear:

  • 5x Kree Minions (until you unlock Nick Fury)
  • 5x Shield Minions
  • Nick Fury

Star-Lord Alternative

Now the second best choice is to go for unlocking Star-Lord (SL) instead via Rocket / Ravager Boomer / Gamora / Drax / Yondu.

Overall, this means you’d have to farm & gear:

  • Rocket
  • Ravager Boomer (for unlock only)
  • Gamora
  • Drax
  • Star-Lord
  • Vision (key teammate in many game modes)
  • Merc LT (key teammate in many game modes)
  • Thanos (key teammate in many game modes)
  • Night Nurse (key teammate in many game modes)
  • Crossbones (You’re already gearing him so he doesn’t count)
  • Yondu (You’re already gearing him so he doesn’t count)

NF vs SL Comparison

The advantages of the SL strategy are that it has less total characters to gear (not counting Crossbones & Yondu) and that it has less characters that you’re going to shelve (You’re going to put Kree Oracle and Kree Royal Guard into retirement right away, while only Ravager Boomer is bad).  Gamora, Rocket, and Drax are also a notch above the remaining 3 Kree minions.  Further, there are Guardian/Ravager specialized raid nodes in some raids (but not all).

But I think those advantages are deceptive.  While you’re gearing less total characters, you’ll be spending more gear on them in the long run.  Since you stop gearing the Kree as soon as you unlock NF, that’s a big gear burden you don’t have to deal with anymore – while with the SL strategy, you have to keep gearing everyone for them to continue to be useful.  If you instead stop gearing Drax / Gamora, their advantages over the Kree minions matters much less since they won’t be powerful enough to matter in the long run.

Further, it will be a long time before you get your Guardian/Ravager team up to standard in order to do raid nodes.  At one month into the game, my second team (Villains) wasn’t far enough to be useful (~50k power), let alone my third.  At two months in, I could be that far, but instead I’ve invested that into my top two teams.  Right now, there aren’t Guardian/Ravager specialized nodes in a raid anyways.  On top of this, only a handful of people per alliance need to handle those raid nodes.  Not everyone has to have those squads.

Additionally, the ideal Starlord team wants access to two characters that are unfarmable to new players: Thanos and Vision.  You’re going to have to spend money or wait a very long time to access to the ideal Starlord team, whereas the ideal Nick Fury team is farmable very early on.

NF vs SL Summary

So, for a debatable minor advantage in gear, a modest advantage in c-team character strength (i.e. ravagers + guardians vs kree), and a niche raid advantage, let’s look at what you throw away from NF & company:

  • Best squad in arena defense (SL is a distant 3rd)
  • Second-best squad in arena offense (SL is 3rd)
  • Best squad in raids (SL is 4th)
  • Requires less characters in the long-run (NF + 5 SHIELD minions vs SL, RR, Vision, XB, ML, NN, Thanos)
  • NF squad’s ideal characters will also be available much earlier
  • NF squad’s ideal characters don’t require valuable raid or arena currency

These advantages combine to mean the NF strategy will have a noticeable gear advantage: fewer characters to gear and more gear to go between them.  The NF strategy also unlocks Iron Man, another high-power character.


Okay, so an important caveat to the above.  As you can, you should get five mercs starred up so you can get the bonus gold from the mercenary event.  You can probably get the 1-star level unlocked in your first month, and slowly go up from there.  Only equip the minimum gear needed and level up as little as possible to do the events, and nothing more.  Don’t bother to get one character way ahead of the others in shards – they all need to reach a new star level to unlock a new tier of the mercenary event.

I recommend Deadpool, Bullseye, Korath, Merc LT, and Merc Riot Guard.  Hopefully by the time you get to this point Deadpool is farmable.  Merc Sniper is a passable substitute until you get Deadpool, but should be avoided if possible.

How to Spend Your Resources

Plan out your energy spends.  If you’re following so far, get shards for the Defenders, your villain team, Kree minions, and your Mercenaries.  Do every 50 power core refresh per day and that’s it.

Rotate arena currency between your characters one star at a time, i.e. finish one star then go get a star on another character (hopefully just Daredevil and one more, like Mordo).  Blitz currency should always go to blitz orbs.  Raid currency should go to gear.  Gold should be split between buying gear from supplies and leveling characters. 


Read Skrilla’s Blitz Bible once you unlock Blitz.  You won’t get all of it, and that’s okay.  The key point is this:  Characters that you don’t have any immediate plans for should be setup the following way:

  • Level 24
  • Gear Level 4 (and all green pieces towards GL 5)
  • NO ability upgrades

In about a month, read the bible again.  If you follow it well and model your characters the way I told you, should be able to reliably unlock ~8ish characters in the month-long newbie bracket.  Once out of the newbie bracket, you should be at just about enough points to complete every milestone, and placing in the top 25% in the normal (i.e. non-newbie) bracket.

Spending Real Money

If you’re willing to spend money, I highly recommend the $10 starter pack that contains either Captain America or Deadpool (you’ll get offered one or the other, not both).  Both are stellar characters throughout the leveling process and in many of the game modes.  They’ll fill in your Heroes team until you get your ideal team going and serve you well afterwards.

Another common early option is Kingpin – not as good, but the next best choice if you want to spend more money.  If you snag Kingpin, your Villian team should look like: Kingpin / Yondu / Crossbones / Mordo and one of the Mercs.  Ideally from blitz you’ll snag a summoner character like Loki or a character with a strong AoE like Thanos to take the last slot over the merc.

Other than that just about nothing is worth the money.

And that wraps up my Marvel Strike guide for new players to get a quick start.  Disagree?  Tips I missed?  Comment below!