There’s like five team variations in PvP right now, and I blame the horrifically bad AI for it.
- Life and Death teams – the AI works great with this because it doesn’t have to make any decisions. The Empowered troops (either Lamashtu or Grave Seer) eliminate the need for smart matching to fill up Life and Death, and then Life and Death just repeatedly spams the back line while spiders flood out and web your entire team. The worst AI could play this team. Enemy hero is blessed, stealthy, gaining life, and sitting behind spiders.
- Webspinner teams – very few troops are immune to web because almost no troops have good skull defense AND impervious, so Webspinner works very well. Just throw in an Empowered troop that converts gems to skulls and AI might get lucky and wipe out entire enemy team. Entangle the Webspinner? Nah, Moon Rabbit will Bless him! Very difficult for AI to mess this one up.
- Goblin spam. Extra turn. Extra turn. Extra turn. Extra turn. There’s a lot of thinking going on with this team. The AI just repeatedly casts each troop’s ability and then casts the next one, and the next one, and the next one – meanwhile you watch all your life and attack slowly lower. Typical troops include Stringfiddler for silence, Nobend Brothers for removing Attack/dealing damage to all enemies, or exploding gems, and Norbert’s Turnip for more looping and damage!
- Lust teams. Usually 2 of them with something that sacrifices to trigger them (Firebomb dies and two Charms go off). Some different variations of this team, but they all revolve around the fact that the AI doesn’t have to “think” about anything – its entire goal is to lose troops to trigger Lust, meanwhile charming and transforming your entire team into useless troops.
Notice a theme with these teams? They all capitalize on making sure the AI doesn’t have to think about targets or making correct matches on the board. More “advanced” troops are TERRIBLE for the AI to use because the programming is SO BAD:
- Champion of Anu: Deal damage to the enemy and ALL ENEMIES BELOW THEM. AI: better hit the last enemy troop.
- Gray King: “All enemies of that Color take true damage, mana drained, etc.” AI: better choose a color that is least used by the enemy
This is why troops that have fixed, random, or hit all targets are so good for the AI to use. Suna, Ubastet, TINA-9000, Infernus – great troops because the targets are randomly selected or are the weakest targets.
- High King Irongut: 100% chance to devour enemy cuz of my attack? AI: Guess I’ll target the troop immune to devour
- Phoenicia: If there is a Firestorm, deal double damage. AI: Looks dangerous outside, I better wait till it’s over before I cast my spell…
Any time the AI is given the option to “choose” something, you can bet it will make the worst possible choice. Players have a huge advantage in this regard, because our decisions are all “If then.” Emperor Liang would be great for the AI to use, but the reason no one uses it on defense is because the AI doesn’t think at all about how the gems will fall if it destroys specific colors. Your whole team could be YELLOW troops and there might be a stack of gems like purple, purple, yellow, purple, purple and a human player would destroy all the yellow gems to get an extra turn. AI? It’d probably destroy all the brown troops because it’s that dumb.
This is especially true with any troop that boosts damage or applies an effect based on gems destroyed from an explosion. Bone Golem applies Death Mark to a random enemy for every skull destroyed. I would absolutely never trust the AI to pick a spot where it sees 4 skulls. You’d think this would be a great troop – 50% skull damage reduction, gains armor and attack, inflicts death mark? How is this not used more? Oh right, the AI will explode a gem that hits 1 skull, just because.
This is exactly why there aren’t more troop variations in PvP, because the number of “usable” teams that can actually win on defense is so low. The only reason there is variation in Guild Wars is because it’s forced and the enemy team is color restricted (which inflates the win rates of the defending team – you could have a team that does great in guild wars on defense but is absolute trash in ranked PvP defense).