This one is just for fun. For those who have no idea what is being discussed here, Marvel and developer Scopely put out a mobile game called Marvel Strike Force which features (currently) 174 Marvel heroes and villains competing in team, turn-based battle. It’s fun – though, yes, one could argue that it’s a pay-to-play game because anyone willing to spend actual currency will advance faster and be stronger. It’s not necessary though. Have fun with it.
Any way, one of the game features is War where Alliances (collections of Strike Force players) compete for 24 hours attacking opposing helicarriers, which are collections of digital rooms defended by a combination of user players and, where users are not available, NPCs. Any character used in defence is not available for offence, and any character used for offence may attack just one time.
The strategy to the game is where players must divide their roster between the two functions.
A search on “best Strike Force teams” will yield a lot of results, but these tend to focus on other aspects of the game like Raids, Blitz, and Arena battles where teams are reusable. I, for example, being the OCPD person that I am, have a database where I design teams based on both overall performance (based on game data) and my personal statistics (which an online “use this team” list would not know).
Unsurprisingly, I come to a lot of the same conclusions regarding best teams and best characters, which is why certain characters feature across multiple teams. That isn’t allowed in War though.
How best to organise the characters into teams with the specific War restrictions? So I took some time and went about grouping every character in the game into 4- or 5-person squads that would A) utilise as many characters as possible, exactly once, but also B) still maximise their abilities in the game (i.e. put them with other characters who have synergies that enhance the individuals).
I am happy to say that I managed it and will share the findings here!
Below are the 35 teams assembled from the existing 174-character roster, ordered from weakest to strongest:
35. The Ravagers
Ravager Boomer, Ravager Bruiser, Ravager Stitcher, and Yondu
Last place might seem harsh for Yondu, but blame the other members of the team and the fact that they have only four members. These are probably the weakest Minion characters in the game even when working together, though they all gain a boost in offence from Yondu’s presence. Yondu can also help round out the team by summoning additional Ravager Minions.
34. The Hand
Hand Archer, Hand Assassin, Hand Blademaster, Hand Sorceress, Nobu (on the bench: Hand Sentry)
Obviously with 174 characters we are not forming perfect 5-character teams, so here is our first entry with an extra character sent to the bench. Nobu is here mostly as a stronger, non-Minion character with the ability to boost and revive his allies, while the Hand Minions do function pretty well together. I considered benching the Hand Assassin (a Controller like Nobu) rather than the Hand Sentry (a Protector), but I am more satisfied with the Hand Assassin’s abilities.
Bullseye, Mercenary Lieutenant, Mercenary Riot Guard, Mercenary Sniper, Taskmaster (on the bench: Mercenary Soldier)
There are a few interesting points about this group. First, this is one of the larger groups in the game so it’s the first instance of Strike Force players perhaps wondering, “How do you have a Mercenary team without ______?” That’s the thing about this list; we need them elsewhere. We keep the Mercenary Minions who don’t add much value outside this team and key characters, Bullseye and Taskmaster, who likewise only make much sense here. Second, their overall rating is low, especially in War Defence where a smart enemy could pick them apart, but in other settings like War Offence or Blitz they are a solid Minion team.
32. S.H.I.E.L.D. Minion
S.H.I.E.L.D. Assault, S.H.I.E.L.D. Medic, S.H.I.E.L.D. Operative, S.H.I.E.L.D. Security, S.H.I.E.L.D. Trooper
Getting most (all) of the Minions out of the way quick. These are also the characters the game will supply for defence if a human user does not substitute a roster character. They function well together and can receive enhancements from non-Minion characters, but the thing about non-Minion S.H.I.E.L.D. characters is they tend to enhance any S.H.I.E.L.D. character. That makes them too appealing to use with other non-Minions so you will see them later on the list.
A.I.M. Infector, A.I.M. Monstrosity, A.I.M. Security, Graviton, Scientist Supreme (on the bench: A.I.M. Assault and A.I.M. Researcher)
They are definitely the best if someone wants you to compete with a team of nothing but Minions. Without other A.I.M. characters around though, they don’t offer a ton (except perhaps A.I.M. Monstrosity). The trouble then becomes that we do not have enough for two teams and lack enough value to justify sending anyone to another squad – hence two on the bench here.
30. Hydra 1
Baron Zemo, Crossbones, Winter Soldier, Hydra Grenadier
Hydra is a different story. While again many of the characters lack value outside of their specific team, here we at least have enough characters to divide into two rather than bench people. The tough one here is Winter Soldier who I imagine some would see here and think, “Not with military characters? Not with Sam?” It comes down to synergy here with Bucky providing the boost to Hydra characters, not Military ones, and a specific benefit with Baron Zemo. Zemo is also why the Hydra Grenadier is present (as the only Minion character to receive a boost) and Crossbones (as a non-Minion Hydra character). Skip on down to the other Hydra team to understand why they all wound up together for a full picture.
29. Kree Minion
Kree Cyborg, Kree Noble, Kree Oracle, Kree Reaper, Kree Royal Guard
This Minion team are the Kree for reasons we have already seen: the full Kree roster includes some tough characters, but they function well in other places and it relegates the Minion members to their own thing. They are a weak Arena team but otherwise strong for a group of Minions, which allowed them to claw above the others on the list.
28. Sinister Six
Green Goblin, Mysterio, Rhino, Vulture
Here’s another interesting situation. The game features eight total Sinister Six villains, and a team of five of them can be wielded to great effect in this game. I admit, it’s odd to see a Sinister Six team so low on a Strike Force teams list, but the reason is that with eight we had to divide them into two four-character teams. In general, I would consider this the stronger team except that you’ll notice a prominent Sinister Six member is missing here. When we get to the other half of the team you will understand.
27. Hydra 2
Hydra Armored Guard, Hydra Scientist, Hydra Rifle Trooper, Hydra Sniper, Red Skull
Okay, I did not want to spoil the mystery but this is exactly like the Sinister Six situation. Our first Hydra team features Winter Soldier, Baron Zemo, and Crossbones, so how are they losing to a team of mostly Minions? The answer is Red Skull. First, Red Skull is a strong character in this game in his own right. Second, his synergies are strong so long as he is with Hydra Minion allies. See? This is the science of these teams. We took the non-Minion Hydra characters and made another team, plus gave them the one Minion character that has added value there. We are left with a Red Skull-led Minion team that can run roughshod over many opponents.
26. Pym Tech
Ant-Man, Stature, Wasp, Yellowjacket, Ghost
It bothers me that the statistics say to rate this team here. I would probably leave them on Defence because they are so fantastically annoying, especially in a timed match like War where the opponent has only five minutes to put them down. This team is full of status effects and, more importantly, synergies. They slow down opponents, they team-up on attacks, and they gain the ability to evade incoming attacks like crazy. It’s the Strike Force equivalent of swatting at gnats!
Cable, Deadpool, Domino, Negasonic, X-23
This was one of the first tougher decisions I had with X-23 sitting on the side until near the end. Ultimately I decided that with their five-person team and the fact that her synergy is with any X-Force ally, that trumped her synergy with Wolverine specifically (plus he has other allies, too) and I decided to leave this team alone. One of the coolest features here is that Domino will transfer all negative effects from X-Force allies to Deadpool, and then Deadpool can clear the negative effect while gaining health from it. If they happen to kill Deadpool, Domino’s presence guarantees that he revives. (Pro-tip: go after Domino first if facing this team.)
Elektra, Night Nurse, Daredevil, Moon Knight, White Tiger
This ended up being one of the first teams created because it was necessary to sort out some of the noise and they were at the middle of it. Daredevil is also a Defender. Elektra is also with the Hand. It was tempting to take them elsewhere, especially as the remaining characters include two Hero Brawlers (Moon Knight and White Tiger) who might have had use elsewhere. Then I had Night Nurse floating around who made the most sense with Shadowland characters, so here we are.
23. Young Avenger
America Chavez, Ms. Marvel, Squirrel Girl, Spider-Man (Miles), Spider-Man (Peter)
This team was another easy choice. Four-character team and they all have good synergy with one another (their synergies specify any Young Avenger ally). The question was whether to fill the fifth spot, but they also make that question simple as many of them have synergy with the broader category of Hero Brawler. That opens up quite a few options and it was all about narrowing down who would take it. Moon Knight or White Tiger? They floated around for a bit until the aforementioned Shadowland decision, and you’ll see the others later. I finally settled on Peter Parker’s Spider-Man (to Ms. Marvel’s delight) because with Miles already here and a lack of synergies on his part, his individual strength as a Hero Brawler made a good fit.
Emma Frost, Mister Sinister, Mystique, Sabretooth, Stryfe
This is one of my favourite teams from a creative standpoint. Similar to the Young Avenger team, the Marauder roster consists of just four characters and two of them, Mystique and Sabretooth, are also notable members of the Brotherhood of Mutants. I wasn’t sure exactly how to handle this and considered skipping a Marauder team altogether when the answer, Emma Frost, fell into my lap. She is the key to this entire time – not the Marauders themselves. Her synergies, and she has several, are with Villain Mutant characters. When you add to the equation the specific synergy Mister Sinister has with Emma Frost and Mystique’s unique synergy with Mister Sinister, they form a tight web that is difficult to fight. See the Brotherhood team in a bit.
21. Sinister Six 2
Electro, Shocker, Swarm, Doctor Octopus
As mentioned, we revisit the Hydra 2 reasoning. Why is Doctor Octopus with these three instead of with more prominent members of the Sinister Six? The answer lies with Doc Ock himself. For one, Octavius is one of the most powerful characters in the game on his own. He doesn’t need as much boost from his team as others do. Second, while he does have synergy with Sinister Six allies, he also has synergies specifically with chargeable Sinister Six allies: enter Electro, Shocker, and Swarm. One of the keys here is that Octavius applies charge to those allies while also healing them. That is especially important with Swarm who will start attacking himself if he loses his charge. In the end, this is the only way to divide the Sinister Six that makes sense.
Hela, Thor, Heimdall, Loki, Sif
Especially good in War Defence because of Loki, I love this team in several of the game formats. Thor charges when any Asgardian takes damage and then unleashes a powerful attack. Hela consistently summons an undead Asgardian warrior while gaining health based on the number of non-summoned Asgardian allies she has (maxed here). In War Defence, Loki applies Taunt to the primary target if he has four or more Asgardian allies (done). Sif heals herself and gains a chance to block based on the number of Asgardian allies while applying Taunt to herself. Heimdall heals himself, gains focus, gains assists, and heals with Asgardian allies. They are tough to beat when employed well.
Anti-Venom, Carnage, Scream, Spider-Man (Symbiote), Venom
I regard this team in a similar sense as the Pym Tech team but with better attack. Their charm is not in their power to brunt-force attack enemies, but rather to annoy with their status manipulations and synergies. In particular, their ability to heal one another makes them a tough Defence team (remember, opponents have only five minutes to defeat the team, so these self-healing teams are like the football team kneeling to run out the clock even without dealing damage).
18. Fantastic Four
Invisible Woman, She-Hulk, Human Torch, Mister Fantastic, The Thing
Unpopular opinion (?), I do not care much for Human Torch or The Thing in this game. The other three members of this team are features in several of my squads though, especially when they are working together in 2- or 3- character teams with others. She-Hulk is here for her synergies with Fantastic Four allies and Invisible Woman/Mister Fantastic specifically. Sue Storm is arguably the best Protector character in the game. Mister Fantastic goes from decent to strong with She-Hulk’s presence. This team is really Invisible Woman and She-Hulk (placed side-by-side so She-Hulk can invite attacks while Sue protects her, helping to absorb a tonne of offence).
Okoye, Shuri, Black Panther, Killmonger, M’Baku
This team was a no-brainer because they have such strong synergy and come neatly as a five-member lineup already. Killmonger has his Military and Mercenary sides (and he’s strong with both in other formats), while Black Panther has his Avenger side, but we already have good coverage in those areas. T’Challa, for example, is not gaining anything from Avenger allies – his presence there would merely to be a +1 in the Avenger ally count for their synergies. The challenge here is a fully-rounded team requires Shuri, one of the best Support characters in the game and difficult to acquire as a Legendary. It’s her presence that elevates this team to #17 on the list.
Doctor Strange, Elsa Bloodstone, Scarlet Witch, Ghost Rider, Mordo
Another hard decision – so much of me wanted to keep Scarlet Witch and Vision together somehow. I’m not just an MCU romantic. The pair have strong synergy in the game. It was, in this sense, a choice between her Warp Reality synergy with Vision (and his synergy with her) or her Chaos Wave synergy with Supernatural allies. Both she and Vision stayed on the list until near the very end of the draft. It ultimately came down to the fact that the others on the roster require multiple Supernatural allies for their synergy, so assembling the five Supernatural characters together became a necessity. They are tough customers though!
Black Widow, Hawkeye, Red Guardian, Yelena Belova, Punisher
This team has a funny name. So, they are the Military team because it’s their Military affiliation that makes them a thing. But you look at the lineup and it seems more like a Black Widow team. Nat has synergy with Military allies, as well as with Hawkeye, Red Guardian, and Yelena specifically. That’s where the divisions started to appear (because we have a lot of Military members available, plus there’s the obvious choice to place Black Widow and/or Hawkeye with the Avengers or Wave I – Avengers instead). Yelena – Skill Military and non-Protector Skill Military, which we satisfy with this lineup. Red Guardian needs Skill Military and Yelena. Hawkeye is here just to team with Nat. In the end, Punisher is merely here as a Skill Military character to round out the five with nowhere else to go.
14. Power Armor
Falcon, Iron Man, Ironheart, Rescue, War Machine
Yet another easy team nicely packaged as a five-person unit designed specifically to work together. While they are mostly Blaster characters, their synergy overcomes a lack of diversity. War Machine gains several boosts with Iron Man’s presence. Rescue is a Support character designed specifically for Power Armor allies. Ironheart works equally well with Tech or Power Armor characters (and all Power Armor characters are also Tech). Falcon gains block chances per Power Armor ally (hence pulling him from the Avenger side). The same is true of Tony, who is here to ground this entire squad and, as I started to close out my teams, it became clear that the Avengers had more value elsewhere than together (see Black Widow and Hawkeye above).
Longshot, Multiple Man, Polaris, Shatterstar, Kestrel
As we move down the list, some of the names get interesting. Our X-Factor team, for example, includes Kestrel who is decidedly not an X-Factor member. It starts with Polaris, who has synergy with non-summoned X-Factor allies but a specific benefit if one lands a critical hit. The same is true of Shatterstar and Longshot (who also team extremely well together). With a smart use of Kestrel (who quickly became my favourite in the game), it’s possible to lower defences and open up critical chances everywhere. Then there is Multiple Man who is wonderfully annoying as a defence character. Hit him and he summons a clone. Enough energy and he summons one for every free space. Plus he can apply Taunt and Counter to them, so your opponent wastes time hitting clones and getting hit back while the core team deals damage! Rating based on stats – personally, I love this team.
12. Defenders for Hire
Jessica Jones, Iron Fist, Luke Cage, Colleen Wing, Misty Knight
The name is meant to reflect the marriage of two separate teams. First are the Defenders: Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, and Daredevil (who we already pulled away for the Shadowland team). Second is the Heroes for Hire team: Luke Cage and Iron Fist again, plus Colleen Wing and Misty Knight. Cage and Iron Fist have synergy with both teams, while Jones has synergy with Defender and City heroes (the Heroes for Hire are City characters!). I consider them all the appetizer for the powerful combo that is Colleen Wing and Misty Knight. Those two alone can do tremendous damage when partnered. Knight makes Colleen’s Samurai Flash attack (quite powerful, especially against Protectors) unavoidable. The reverse is true for Knight’s Bionic Pummel. Put them all on defence where Knight has extra benefits and you have a tough squad.
11. Uncanny X-Men
Colossus, Cyclops, Psylocke, Storm, Wolverine (on the bench: Phoenix)
Before you attack me, Phoenix is on the bench because she is so difficult to acquire. If you have Phoenix, by all means substitute her into the active lineup and enjoy the fact that your team just got immensely stronger. Until then, the other five are more than potent. As powerful as they are, they sort of became a team by default. Many of these characters have broader synergies with X-Men or Mutant characters, but because their possible synergy matches have more specific needs they all teamed up and left these six together. Beast is also a candidate for an Uncanny X-Men team, but we’ll need him later.
Captain Marvel, Minn-Erva, Korath the Pursuer, Ronan the Accuser, Ultimus
Stepping up in class here. Without getting technical, the statistics used rate characters on a 1-5 scale and then evaluates their strength as a team. The preceding teams were 2.2 (with 1 being the highest), and now we jump to the only flat 2.0 on the list. Korath and Ronan are fine, but we aren’t really here for them. Even Ultimus – he’s powerful, but hard to unlock and will be a late addition to this team. What we have here is Captain Marvel, one of the OG tough characters in the game and someone possible to unlock rather early, and Minn-Erva, who was recently boosted by an update. Minn-Erva has become one of the best Support characters in the game with her ability to grant positive effects to allies, negative effects to enemies, and heal the whole team. Danvers is simply a tough customer who can spread the damage while charged.
Drax, Groot, Mantis, Rocket Raccoon, Star-Lord
Couple of important points here. First, yes, Gamora is a Guardian in the game, but Nebula is not and we have a better place for Gamora as a result a little further down the list. Second, do not overlook them. Groot and Rocket together make a formidable pair. Groot boosts virtually everything Rocket does, plus Rocket’s Pretty Good Plan applies Taunt to Groot and forces attention there (thus away from Rocket, Mantis, and Star-Lord, which is why he’s lined up on the outside with Drax, another Taunt character capable of absorbing damage). If Groot gets beaten (which is hard because of his ability to apply Deathproof), he has a chance to revive. Even if he doesn’t, he applies benefits to all of the Guardians and especially Rocket.
Blob, Juggernaut, Magneto, Pyro, Toad
There is a lot to like about this team. First of all, Blob and Juggernaut can absorb tonnes of damage and will use their abilities to focus enemy attacks there. Toad and Pyro are just sort of here, though I will point out that Pyro applies Heal Block to enemies with health below 50% when Magneto is present. Then we have Magneto, unleashing powerful, status-affecting attacks in addition to his Passive ability which is entirely designed around boosting Brotherhood characters. If there’s any question about this team it’s why Mystique and/or Sabretooth are not present, but we addressed that earlier with the Marauder team. Outside War, you bet that both Mystique and Sabretooth would be here.
Agent Coulson, Captain America, Nick Fury, Quake, Yo-Yo
Our group of 1.8 teams near the top of the list continues with the second S.H.I.E.L.D. team, this one consisting of zero Minion members. This team was frankly kind of painful to assemble because I like using so many of these characters in other contexts. Just considering S.H.I.E.L.D., we also have Black Widow, Hawkeye, and now Maria Hill not listed here. Cap works well with Iron Man, the Avengers, and the Wave I – Avengers. Fury now works well with Kestrel. Coulson and Fury work well with S.H.I.E.L.D. Minions. Quake and Yo-Yo are also Inhumans – what a team that is! So, as highly rated as they are, this was essentially a team of exclusion.
6. Infinity Watch
Gamora, Moondragon, Nebula, Adam Warlock, Phyla-Vell
See? Here’s Gamora. Two big things happened in the game recently: they introduced the Infinity Watch team and they empowered Gamora to a whole new level. Everyone one this team (and by everyone I am ignoring Nebula) is crazy powerful. Nebula is not a pushover, but she is the weak link in the squad – and that’s saying something. She counters, evades, revives, and jumps in to assist her Infinity Watch allies. This is another of my favourite squads.
5. Secret Avengers
Captain America (Sam), Hulk, Maria Hill, Sharon Carter, Vision
This is a slightly bizarre team owing to the newness of the Secret Avengers. The core of this team is that trio: Cap Sam, Maria Hill, and Sharon Carter who joined the game as powerful characters with strong synergy. Hulk and Vision join them as Avengers who had nothing else to do with the other Avengers joining other squads. That’s not a total loss though. Hulk is here taking tons of damage to protect the Secret Avengers while an evasive Vision attacks from the outside.
4. Astonishing X-Men
Beast, Bishop, Iceman, Jubilee, Kitty Pryde
As started with the Uncanny X-Men team, the Astonishing X-Men have the fortune of strong synergy with one another (whereas the Uncanny X-Men tended to have broader synergies with X-Men in general). This is perhaps nowhere as true as between Jubilee and Bishop, which is significant because both Jubilee and Bishop are tough customers individually. That’s the whole story here. Tough characters boosting one another.
Black Bolt, Crystal, Karnak, Silver Surfer
Another tragedy on the list as we had to take away Quake and Yo-Yo to form the S.H.I.E.L.D. team, and Ms. Marvel is with the Young Avengers. It doesn’t take anything away from this team statistically though, with strong candidates in Crystal and Karnak alongside the brute strength of Black Bolt (plus, he disables revives for enemies). Silver Surfer acts here like Kestrel – a powerful character with no particular place otherwise (though his synergy with Hero Cosmic allies work well here). Surfer’s high defence and comically long animations make him especially useful in defensive situations where his mere presence eats up a lot of clock. He’s a regular fixture of many teams right now.
2. Black Order
Corvus Glaive, Cull Obsidian, Ebony Maw, Proxima Midnight, Thanos
Standing alone in second place is the Black Order. On the one hand, they literally could not form any other team. On the other, this team is difficult to acquire (especially Ebony Maw with his Legendary status). The biggest element here is not the synergy, which the Black Order characters have with one another (Corvus Glaive and Proxima Midnight in particular), but rather their ability to grant Infinity Stones to Thanos. Thanos is strong by himself, but he has an Empowered side achievable only through acquiring the stones, and the stones only appear through the Black Order. Corvus Glaive brings the Mind Stone; Cull Obsidian brings the Power Stone; Proxima Midnight brings the Space Stone; and Ebony Maw brings the Reality, Time, and Soul Stones.
1. Crime Lords
Doctor Doom, Kingpin, Namor, Ultron
Only four people on this team, but they are four powerful characters. Doctor Doom, arguably the most powerful character in the entire game, summons “Doombots” and then gains advantages based on the number of them (plus, so much for only a four-character team). Kingpin doesn’t do much himself, but he acts as a literally kingpin. He allows Villain allies to attack on his turn, he boosts team defence, and he summons a bodyguard who taunts. Namor is…here. Ultron also summons bots (this team can go from four to ten real quick) while dealing tremendous damage with a constant threat of reviving if you do manage to beat him.
To reiterate, this list is designed to assign each character to a single team while maintaining the strength of the teams as best possible. The overall concept requires a person have the full roster unlocked, so some teams may not even be possible for you right now (they aren’t for me, and the teams I do have are at various stages of development).
Consider it just a fun guide and something to think about while developing a War strategy. Don’t be afraid to use incomplete teams with the S.H.I.E.L.D. NPCs filling in the gaps short-term!