Marvel: Puzzle Quest is the latest surprisingly-enjoyable game based upon the Marvel franchise. If you love the RPG mechanics of D3 Publisher’s Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords but think it would be cooler with comic book heroes, then this could well be the game for you. It certainly tickles my nerdy fancy.
However, while there’s a lot of fun to be had for free, it’s easy to feel like you’re hitting a pay wall early on. Here’s a few guidelines to follow to maximize your enjoyment in the free-to-play world.
Join the Delta Attack Alliance
If you’re a daily player and are fairly active in tournaments, consider joining the “DeltaAttack” allegiance. I’m looking for people who can add at least 300 points in each tournament. Coattail riders will get the boot. Sorry, dear readers, we’re in it to win it.
Speaking of alliances, only commanders are allowed to expand an alliance with Hero Points. Once a player is made into a Commander, they have full Commander privileges and cannot be removed from an alliance. They are also able to assign Commander status. Be advised and be selective with who you give the car keys to, kids.
Earn Free Hero Points
Farm the PvE Rewards
The easiest way to earn Hero Points in Marvel Puzzle Quest is to farm them from the Player vs. Environment (PvE) section of the game. The problem is, however, that that well dries up rather quickly.
Featured Event Rewards
Your best bet is to be active in Featured Events. Place high enough (often in the top 100 players), and you’ll get Hero Points in addition to other rewards. Unstable ISO -8 Events and Heroic Missions often have Hero Points (along with various cover tokens) as completion rewards.
Login to Marvel Puzzle Quest at least once a day to pick up a few gifts. Most days, you’ll get one of the following rewards at random:
- 250 Iso-8
- 500 Iso-8
- 3 Health Packs
- a Standard Cover token
- 50 Hero Points
Once a week, you’ll receive a Heroic Cover token. It also appears they are handing out 3-Star covers every once in a while. Players are rewarded with a Doctor Doom cover (“Summon Demons”) on Day 30, a Ragnarok cover (“Godlike Power”) on Day 60, and a Loki cover (“Trickery”) on Day 75.
Hey, Day 90, if you’re handing out villain covers, how about you hook me up with another Dormammu’s Aid for The Hood, would you?
The 3-star and 4-star Booby Prize
The good news? You just pulled a Rare or Legendary Cover from an Event or a Token.
The bad news? You already have that skill maxed or it does not fit your desired build.
Selling 3-Star and 4-Star covers gives you a 25 and 50 Hero Points, respectively. Sorry about your luck, bub.
Always participate in Featured Events
Every couple of days, a new Featured Event goes live. So far, there have been high-level Heroic Missions, PVP Tournaments, Exclusive Missions, and 90-minute Lightning Rounds. Each of these are ranked and pit you against other players competing for rewards in worldwide and instanced events. Place high enough, and you get some pretty cool rewards, from comic book covers to Hero Points. That’s pretty cool.
When you’re starting out, the Featured Events can be awfully intimidating. You’re playing from behind against people who have been playing for well over a month at the time of this writing.
If you can’t get into the top tier, then target what Event Rewards you want and try to hit that threshold. If there’s a Heroic Token at 250 Shield Points, then play until you get it and gauge if you want to keep trying for subsequent rewards like the 50 Hero Points commonly sitting at 400 Shield Points.
When selecting characters for Featured Events, look for a red crystal next to their portrait. That indicates that the character is buffed for the event. If the characters are powerful enough, then by all means use them. There’s nothing quite like free energy and boosted damage.
Also, while environment tiles are normally worthless, they become gold when a character is boosted. I’d suggest always matching Environment Tiles and Critical tiles when using a boosted character, as you’ll get some rather silly stockpiles or sick damage for your troubles.
Take note of what the playing field abilities are for that round. Thorned Rose is ridiculously good and is this game’s equivalent Cadaverous Bloom-Necropotence. Forest Fire, when matched with characters that use Red AP, can also be a game-ender.
Hot Dog Stand kind of sucks, but you may as well use it before the end of a battle to save a whopping 250 seconds of your time.
When it comes to PvE, get your covers and get out of the game
The reward system in the PvE section of the game is annoying, at best. You’ll be forced to replay missions over and again to get the Hero Points, ISO, Covers, or Standard Tokens that you covet. More often than not, you’ll get an annoying 20 ISO-8 consolation prize for your troubles.
Two things to bear in mind, though. Health recovers slowly, meaning that the risk often far outweighs the reward. Unless you really NEED these rewards, I suggest coming back later when Trivial is an understatement. The only situations that should dictate repeated playthroughs are needing a comic book cover to unlock a skill or raise your level threshold because you’re currently maxed.
I suppose needing the Hero Points to expand your Roster would also qualify.Otherwise, play through to get your First-Time Completion bonuses and get out as soon as you can. There’s just not enough goodies and far too many Zonks behind those doors.
Hero Points should only be used on Roster Slots
Let’s all gaze in wild wonder of the awful comic book collection aspect of Marvel Puzzle Quest, shall we? This is the very first and most prevalent pay wall you’ll encounter through the game. While the first one comes cheap in ISO-8 (the primary currency), every subsequent comic book slot is going to cost you Hero Points (the secondary currency). While a reasonable 50 Hero Points early on, the price climbs in 50 point increments every few slots.
I currently have 35 Roster Slots with my next costing a whopping 450 Hero Points. So, unless you’re willing to fork over some real world cash for little in return, I highly suggest you hold off on buying comics from the Heroic Packs until you’ve got somewhere around 30 (or more) slots. Currently, there are 35 different characters to collect with more sure to come in future updates.
Never buy covers with ISO
Early on, you may be tempted to spend 500 ISO-8 on a cover here and there. Don’t! That’s a newbie mistake that seems like a good idea at the time, but you’ll regret later. While you can get two and three star covers in Standard Packs, your chances are pretty small.
ISO-8 should only be spent in one of two ways: Buying Stockpile Boosts or leveling up a character. Anything else is an absolute waste, as you’ll get more than enough covers via PVE and Featured Events.
Learn to love Marvel Now Thor and Wolverine
Removed from the guide, as it’s fairly obsolete.
Character Build Suggestions
Unlike characters with just two abilities, characters with three abilities may not max all of their abilities out. This means you’ll be forced to make a choice of how to configure your characters.
Fair warning: You may occasionally need to throw perfectly-good covers away in the game if you want to keep from being semi-gimped. Don’t sweat it too much. Patience is a virtue and you’ll surely get it again some day, unless it’s a crazy-rare Legendary cover.
Ares (Dark Avengers)
Ares is a real jerk. I absolutely hate facing him in PVE events where he goes past his Level 85 threshold. However, when it comes to PVP, playing defense really works out to keeping him away from Yellow.
Sunder is an absolute beast, especially if paired with a character who can heal like Original Black Widow. At level 85, he’ll deal more than 2,000 damage outright before the countdown tile tacks another 600+ damage while healing him for most of that health he sacrificed.
His other powers aren’t that great. Rampage deals massive team damage if Ares is hurt, but you don’t really want Ares to be that hurt, do you? Meanwhile, Onslaught gives your opponent some Green AP for reparations.
I’d suggest either a 4/4/5 or 3/5/5 build for the God of War. Onslaught is weak enough an ability that you’ll only use it to finish a match or compare useless abilities to those found on Bagman.
Black Panther (T’Challa)
I’m not a fan of Black Panther’s skill set. His yellow ability, Battleplan, eats up your Environmental Tiles as part of the costs. And his Defense Grid’s tile count feels like it’s capped too low to be worthwhile. His strongest ability, Rage of the Panther, has already managed to get nerfed and gives your opponents the gift of 5 AP in whatever color(s) deal the most matching damage. That said, it deals massive team damage in a color that is full of weak skills.
I really have no suggestions on how to build Black Panther. It feels like Rage of the Panther should be maxed, but it also feels like you should avoid using it entirely unless it’s to finish off a troublesome character or to end a match. 5 AP may not be that big of a deal depending on the team.
He’s good. No doubt. But not sure what the best build is just yet. I’ll have more to say later when I get to use him.
Black Widow (Original)
The two-star Black Widow is a pretty awesome support character. For this version of Natasha Romanoff, we’re going to run a 3/5/5 build.
Aggressive Recon is a cool ability that becomes less cool as it levels up. That’s not cool. There’s no reason to level Aggressive Recon beyond Level 3. At that level, Aggressive Recon will then steal 3 AP of every color except for Purple for 8 Purple AP, which makes it far more usable than it was in the 1-Star build.
At level 5, Anti-Gravity goes from a modular either-or ability to “hey, let’s just do both” ability that adds to enemy countdown timers and heals the team. Espionage is very disruptive for stealing Purple, Blue, and Black AP, but the extra damage for those matches isn’t terribly important. That said, it’s better than gimping her Aggressive Recon and the only logical choice.
Black Widow (Grey Suit)
Sniper is a terrific ability that does massive damage and destroys tiles. It works very well with Deceptive Tactics, her Purple ability that turns basic tiles into Green tiles. The kicker, though, is that Sniper does team damage once it’s Level 5.Black Widow’s Red ability, Pistol, is also capable of tile destruction. However, it’s relatively weak.
The best build, then, ends up being a 5/3/5 build. This will maximize Grey Suit Widow’s ability to manipulate the board while dealing damage.
Deceptive Tactics also works great with Wolverine. You can also use it to drop the Critical Tile into another set of freshly-baked Green tiles for another turn with solid regularity.
Hawkeye’s Purple Passive ability, “Avoid,” is pretty lame. Hawkeye can avoid team damage, but the skill mostly just puts other characters in the line of fire.
The best configuration would then be a 5/5/3 build, with Electric Arrow and Blast Arrow maxed. This gives him the ability to set up countdown arrows from the back row that can stun opponents and deal hefty team damage.
Neither version of Hawkeye are particularly useful, but what do you expect from a guy whose power is really good with an outdated weapon?
The Hood (Classic)
The Hood is about as easy a no-brainer as you’re going to get when building if you know what each skill does. The Hood is best as a 5/5/3 build.
His first skill, Twin Pistols, destroys two 3×3 blocks, making it good for up to 18 AP and removal of troublesome countdown, protect, and strike tiles. It also ends your turn and is crazy expensive early at 18 Yellow AP. Covers 2, 3, and 4 reduce that cost a point each. Then, at level five, Twin Pistols no longer ends your turn. It becomes far more valuable at that point.
The Hood’s passive, Dormammu’s Aid, may be one of the best passive skills in the game. It steals away AP from the enemy and makes it easier to keep your killer skills going. At level 5, it will steal 1 AP of any color that has 9 or more tiles on the board. This is very disruptive to the enemy.
The Hood’s last skill, Intimidation, isn’t particularly useful as it deals with friendly countdown tiles. You’d have to pair The Hood with someone like Modern Hawkeye to find it useful. Even then, it costs 9 Black AP making it costly for a relatively weak effect.
The number of covers you have effects neither the damage nor the cost, but you’ll never use it anyway.
Invisible Woman (Classic)
So, Invisible Woman kind of sucks in her current form. She’s not as bad as Bag-Man, but she’s not far from it. I wouldn’t be surprised to see that change if enough players whine on the forums about all the hard work they put into winning tournaments only to get a Level 230 with slightly less health and far less efficacy than a Level 115 Ragnarok.
I’d almost expect her to get tinkered with in the future. In her current state, 3/5/5 is the “best” build. Invisibility, her Yellow skill, is absolutely awful. Good luck keeping that yellow tile on the board, true believer.
Iron Man (Model 40)
Iron Man’s Model 40 suit presents a bit of a problem. His yellow ability, Recharge, is great early on when it’s cheap to activate, but it becomes less effective as it levels up because the activation cost increases. Additionally, the three Yellow Countdown blocks are vulnerable for two turns, so characters with board manipulation skills (Thor, Doctor Doom, Magneto) or tile destruction (both versions of Storm, Juggernaut, and Moonstone) are able to disrupt your game plan.
If you intend on leveling Iron Man (Model 40) to his maximum level, then the only useful build would be 5/5/3. Recharge will cost you 10 Yellow AP, but it nets you Red, Blue, and Green AP in return. With the right characters, that could be very useful.
The best build would really be a 5/5/1 or 5/5/2, as they present a great balance between cost and utility. However, that would mean Iron Man would never reach Level 141, which could present a problem for a lot of players.
This version of Iron Man ends up being the Red Wizard in Final Fantasy, as he strikes the balance between support and attack fairly well.
Like Ragnarok, Classic Magneto’s Red ability is so cheap that it can create problems. Instead of creating green tiles, though, Magnetized Projectile removes 5 random tiles from the board. Unfortunately, it doesn’t generate AP in the process. Still, 2 Red AP is ridiculously cheap for something this disruptive.
Magneto’s other abilities aren’t quite as useful.Magnetic Field, his Blue ability, can create two Blue Protect tiles, but there’s a good chance you’ll be using it as a poor man’s version of Grey Suit Widow’s Deceptive Tactics to generate Blue AP. Magnetized Translocation, his Purple ability, can deal massive damage while shifting around tiles, but its damage also depends on what’s on the board.
Most people will say to take a 5/5/3 Magneto, as Magnetic Field then can generate more Blue than it costs if you’re matching two sets of blue tiles, but I could just as easily justify a 3/5/5 or 4/5/4 build.
Psylocke, let’s be honest, the only reason you’re popular is your costume. Fanboys, myself included, drooled over your wedgies of the past twenty years. Otherwise, we’d remember that you have some incredibly lame body-switching background that made you an Asian ninja that, basically, dresses like Elektra without all that modesty.
Your character is pretty good when configured to a 5/3/5 build. It’s hard to go wrong with the Strike Tiles and Attack Tiles created by Psychic Knives and Psi-Katana. I wonder if the latter is an intentional homage to Daikatana or simply a happy, rhyming accident.
Psylocke’s blue ability, Bewilder, is a bit too random to build around. Sometimes it’ll be awesome, other times you’ll steal tons of AP that both you and your opponents couldn’t use, anyway.
The Punisher (Dark Reign)
I absolutely love The Punisher. Even if you don’t know the first thing about the awesome Capcom arcade game or Garth Ennis’ run on the Marvel MAX line, you’re going to love The Punisher, too. He’s possibly the best character in the game.
There is really no wrong way to configure Frank Castle. I went with a 5/3/5 build, which I believe is the best route, as Judgment’s 3×3 tile removal is just too random to rely upon and 1 more Strike Tile will seldom be the difference between a win and a loss.
Reducing Molotov Cocktail’s countdown timer to 2 turns makes it a real headache for opponents without spot removal, and the Attack tiles whittle the foe’s health down quickly with Strike Tiles on the board. That softens them up for Retribution, the shot in the head that downs opponents with 40% or less health for a mere 8 Red AP with all five covers.
The only thing that drags Frank Castle down is his relatively low health, but he’s only human.
Nothing you could ever do would make this character useful.
You didn’t reach this page by typing “How to Level Spider-Man Bag-Man” back on Google, did you?
Steve Ditko’s iconic costume? That’s more like it.
There’s some debate when it comes to the most useful build for Classic Spider-Man. It’s hard to decide which is more useful between Web Bandages and Spider Sense. One thing’s for certain, though, and that’s a maxed out All Tied Up.
Spider-Man is a lockdown character, and a very good one at that, who can keep an entire team down when his stun skill runs a mere 2 Blue AP. As for the build, it depends really upon personal preference and your selected teammates.
If you’re going to team Spidey up with one of the Black Widow’s or Loki, then Spider-Sense is more important. If you’re looking to heal for free, then getting Web Bandages down to 9 Yellow AP (aka, 3 matches) is more important.
So, 4/5/4, 3/5/5, and 5/5/3 are all good builds.
The 1-Star Storm isn’t bad at all, but simply doesn’t have enough health to get you far in PVP. That said, she’s a terrific support character for other events.
Storm’s best build is a 5/3/5 build that maximizes her Lightning Strike and Hailstorm abilities. Getting 16 tiles off the board at the price of 10 Green AP would be a pretty decent bargain in itself, but it also generates AP for those tiles. That makes it an absolute steal that generates all sorts of combo craziness. Hailstorm is the perfect follow-up to chip away at your opponent’s health.
Mistress of the Elements also has great combo potential, but there are just too many times that it’s worthless and its effectiveness dwindles with repeated use. Plus, let’s not forget how many terrific damage dealing skills use Red AP.
Thor (Marvel NOW!)
Post nerf, the best builds for Thor (Marvel NOW!) is either 3/5/5 or 4/5/4. Thanks a lot, you dang jerks.
Yeah… I really don’t have a lot to say other than Thor went from being the best 2-star hero to near the bottom of the heap. I totally can’t wait for them to nerf my Spider-Man, too. I don’t think I’m long for this game.
Wow, this is a real cop-out character. Hey, everybody, sorry about that nerf. Here’s a 3-star variant that’s exactly the same as the post-nerf version. He just has higher damage and will live longer.
So, same advice as above. 3/5/5 or 4/5/4 are the only viable builds. He’s strong enough that you should get tired of seeing a bunch of Level 141 Thors running about soon enough. You know, until they decide to further neuter Goldilocks.
Post nerf, Wolverine is probably best as a 5/5/3 build. The change to his healing factor makes it his weakest ability by far, while the changes to Feral Claws and Adamantium Slash make them more important than ever.
Patch is one of those awesome characters that just works regardless of build. Any 13 covers will do nicely, really. I’ll likely go for 3/5/5 or 4/4/5, as I love free healing teamed with Defense Tiles.
Berserker Rage is terrific when teamed with stunners like Classic Spidey. The Best There Is can deal some silly damage when maxed. I also love that this Wolverine has that old Healing Factor that was deemed too powerful on an easily-obtainable character.
Even with his very visible drawbacks, it’s hard to fault this version of Wolverine. Now, when do we get Grey Hulk?
So, look… the only reason this Wolverine is truly Legendary, other than how hard you have to work to get his covers, is his insane stats once fully leveled. That said, his skills are iffy simply because they’re expensive.
He is, however, a hell of a tank for other damage dealers and Enraged Slash can take care of troubling sections fairly easily. There really isn’t a best build, per se. However, there’s absolutely no reason to upgrade his Recovery skill to level 5, as it then takes 4 additional turns to activate. So, consider a 5/5/3, 4/5/4, or 5/4/4 build.
Play Daily and find Facebook friends
Aside from playing the game, the only other way to get free stuff is to collect your Daily Rewards every day and find a friend on your Facebook account who will share rewards. Your friends are able to share their rewards every few hours. While it’s normally just an ISO reward, I’ve also shared covers and Standard Tokens in the past.
Feel free to share your Facebook information in the comments below.
(By the way, I’m looking to add two Facebook friends who play daily.)
PVP is garbage, but it’s also your best bet for progress
The attacking player always has the advantage in a fight. Even if you’re below the other team’s level, don’t get too discouraged unless it’s a massive advantage. Let’s take a look at the ways you get the upper hand as an attacker:
- The attacker gets to make the first move.
- The attacker may use AP Stockpile and Damage Boosts, while the AI may not.
- The attacker can select their squad to counter the opponent’s team.
- The attacker can bypass any team they don’t want to fight without losing points.
- The attacker can prioritize and target characters to remove, whereas the AI cannot.
- The attacker can “hate match” and keep the AI from getting AP for its skills.
- The AI does NOT strategically collect AP and will always prioritize a match-4 move.
- The AI overvalues environmental tiles and will often take it over a killing blow.
Taking all that into account, it’s easy to see where PVP can be a frustrating ordeal, especially if you’re attempting to crack the top 2 for the best rewards. With that in mind, always fight up in tournaments whenever possible. Beatable teams worth 30-40 Shield Points are very desirable, though they become harder to find as you make your way up the standings. That way, you’ll lose less points when your opponent retaliates. The converse is also applicable. Don’t retaliate against opponents unless you have something to gain. I know it’s tempting to seek revenge, but what you’re really doing is coughing up points to someone who’s already proven that they can beat your AI team. That’s what we call a “bad idea.” The math is against you, so perhaps think before you go all berserker barrage, you dig?
Keep an eye on your damage stats
This is absolutely vital when you consider how the AI damages characters. Be careful when leveling up characters with low Health, such as Storm, Black Widow, Loki, and The Hood, not to raise their levels so high as to leave them exposed. Take, for instance, the aforementioned team of Thor and Storm. Thor has high attack values on Red, Yellow, and Green tiles, respectively. Classic Storm has high attack values for Green, Blue, and Yellow, respectively. The icon on the tiles dictate who is in the front line on every move. It is decided by the highest attack value for that tile type. It behooves you, then, to keep Storm at a lower level to avoid taking damage. Moreover, if you can find a third character with a higher Blue rating, such as a higher-level Iron Man, you can prevent Storm from going to the front line at all unless other characters are stunned.
Your Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man can help
Tired of waiting for timers? Good news, true believer! Your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man can help you get back in the fight with some free healing. Head over to the Venom missions and enter one of the following missions:
- Tall, Dark and Nasty
- Great Responsibility
- Rescue Mary Jane
Focus on collecting blue and yellow AP tiles. The blue AP will be used to stun Venom and create a yellow Web Tile. The more web tiles you and Venom have on the board, the more health you’ll restore. Once you have whittled Venom down enough, use your 13 Yellow AP to make Web Bandages and heal. Note that this only works early on. The higher your level, the more likely you are to accidentally kill Venom and lose health rather than gain it. Still, it’s good for the moments between moments.
When increasing skills, note that just two skills may use all 10 ability slots. However, characters with three skills may only use 13 skill slots, not 15. So, you may need to discard perfectly good comic book covers simply because they don’t fit your plans. The following is a generic list of characters available in game at this time.
1-Star Characters (Common)
- Iron Man (Model 35)
- Hawkeye (Classic)
- Storm (Modern)
- Black Widow (Modern)
- Juggernaut (Classic)
- Yelena Belova (Dark Avengers Widow)
- Venom (Dark Avengers Spider-Man)
2-Star Characters (Uncommon)
- Thor (Marvel NOW!)
- Storm (Classic)
- Wolverine (Astonishing X-Men)
- Captain America (Modern)
- Hawkeye (Modern)
- Black Widow (Original)
- Spider-Man (Bag-Man)
- Magneto (Marvel NOW!)
- Ares (Dark Avengers)
- Bullseye (Dark Avengers Hawkeye)
- Daken (Dark Avengers Wolverine)
- Moonstone (Dark Avengers Ms. Marvel)
3-Star Characters (Rare)
- Iron Man (Model 40)
- Spider-Man (Classic)
- Black Widow (Grey Suit)
- The Hulk (Indestructible)
- The Punisher (Dark Reign)
- Daredevil (Classic)
- Psylocke (Classic)
- Black Panther (T’Challa)
- Human Torch (Classic)
- Magneto (Classic)
- Loki (Dark Reign)
- Doctor Doom (Classic)
- The Hood (Classic)
- Ragnarok (Dark Avengers Thor)
3-Star Characters (Gold)
- Thor (Modern)
- Captain America (Steve Rogers)
4-Star Characters (Legendary)
- Wolverine (X-Force)
- Invisible Woman (Classic)
Finally, Don’t Be Afraid to Spend a Little
Really, this is the most fun I’ve had with a Puzzle Quest game. I’d bet dollars to donuts that it’s the same for a lot of you, as well. If you just want to enjoy the game, pony up five bucks for 600 Hero Points and unlock roster slots. Yes, you’ve still got the slow health regeneration and Health Packs to deal with, but at least you don’t have to worry about managing your comic book collection.Tweet
About the Author
|Fade to Slack is a founding member of Delta Attack, an American expatriate in South Korea, and a true believer in the legitimacy of mobile gaming.
Keep up with him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/Fade2Slack so he can justify having a Twitter account.
Fade to Slack has written 352 posts on Delta Attack.