Caution: wall of text (with some pics) about heroes not high on people priority list. This what happens when I got bored and nerd on out.
I was excited last costume chamber to get Chao’s costume. Mana control is a huge part of the game and the vanilla options are very meh at the 4* level. I am a F2P but was fortunate enough to get one of the special mana controllers over the years in Gretel. That was game changing for me .
In reading Chao’s card it seemed like a big upgrade from a mana control standpoint compared to the other vanilla options, but I wanted to see how good. I have gone on rants before about the poor quality of vanilla mana control heroes, so I will try to avoid getting too caught up in that this time … keyword “try” . When I say vanilla mana control I am basically referring to:
Li Xiu - small cut to all enemies (20%), negligible damage (150% at 616 base A value)
Li Xiu w/ costume - smaller cut then base Li Xiu (10%), but higher damage (180% at 660 base A value). IMO the damage is still negligible, not that her special is meant to be damage dealing. Aside from emblem quests and messing around the base version is better IMO with the costume boost as you might as well take the bigger mana cut because the damage is poor regardless.
Little John - Reduces mana production of enemies by 64% for 3 turns and does decent damage for AoE hero of 185% at 741 base A value. I would note he works well combined with Li Xiu as his mana reduction exacerbates Ali’s 20% cut to feel like more. You are also using 2 hero slots out of 5 though. 40% of your team be a lot to commit to mana control.
Little John w/ costume - I don’t count this. You can gain mana to your heroes by dodging, but does nothing to the enemy.
Chao - Gives a 25% cut to a single hero and 315% damage at 607 base A value.
My main issue with these is some times Chao and Li barely buy a half turn. It’s so small. To touch briefly comparing these to the likes to Hansel, Proteus, Mist, etc. is a joke and not fair at all to say they’re in the same class, or supposedly comparable, of mana control is absurd. I really feel for F2P’s and new players who are still using vanilla mana control, it’s really almost unfair. Anyways …
Costume Chao is clearly better than any of the options above. I wanted to compare him then to Gretel to see just how good he is. It’s not quite a fair comparison as Gretel has more emblems. It is the best I could do as she is my best mana controller and is considered below the previously mentioned special mana control heroes, but better than the vanilla batch.
I have only compared them on S3 normal, not on raids. They each had a level 11 mana troop so the troop boost is identical. I played them on multiple stages together although most pictures are from the same one.
Here is Chao:
Here is Gretel:
In general what I found was that if the enemy has a fast recharge, it was 50/50 on whether Chao would recharge to fire before the enemy fired its special. If the enemy had an average or slow mana generation Chao would pretty much always charge before the enemy charged it’s special. This would allow you to stack his special into the same enemy or impact a second enemy before the impact to the first one wore off. Obviously get repeated damage from his hit too. More on that below.
I was a little torn because the enemy can still charge and fire, but their charge, even at fast mana, is noticeably slower. On one hand you want to pump tiles to recharge Chao/increase steal. On the other you still want the enemy to not fire.
With a single average to slow mana enemy Chao could effectively prevent them from firing. It was then much safer to pump tiles and keep Chao rolling. Fast mana the enemy will still fire pretty regularly depending on tiles. Say, roughly half the time. If you have multiple fast mana bosses he won’t prevent them firing.
I will say his mana slow drain, even on fast enemies, is noticeable and given his fast recharge makes it more effective on a single enemy than say Little John’s generation reduction. In context with mana pots and back up time stops for say a quest or event, Chao can be super effective.
Gretel we know how her special works, I won’t get too into it. General concept is hit the enemy with the special and pump tiles into them while the special is in effect to create extra damage.
Gretel is average mana, but completely stops the special. Chao is fast and can regenerate himself to keep firing. Gretel will need mana pots to get the same output. She can be more effective then, but also requires more battle items and resources to be.
Then is comes to damage. I was surprised by the difference. Here is +1 Chao:
The 260 isn’t a ton compared to a sniper. Given he recharges himself and can fire effective faster than fast mana, repeated 260 hits add up.
Here is +18 attack path Gretel:
The 173 is way lower. You do get the splash damages to the adjacent enemies, which is something I guess. If those were other bosses though, and not mob-level foes, that damage would be nothing.
In a straight initial hit Chao wins, but tile availability will make all the difference. As I mentioned Chao can keep firing if he is still mana while you’re dumping tiles. In a 3 turn span say you fire him twice for 520.
Here is Gretel’s damage from her mana effect. The pic is from a different level, but that damage negates D value, etc so it’s all the same:
204 is pretty high for bonus damage. Usually you can get the bonus at least once for a total of 377, but if the tiles align and you can get that bonus damage 2 or 3 times it starts to tip the scales to Gretel. Again, not factoring the splash damage to other enemies. That also depends on tiles to dump in those 3 turns during Gretel’s special too.
Reduced damage but a total stop of enemy firing specials rather than increased damage for a reduced fire rate. Kind of a toss up going situationally to either one.
Overall I was surprised how close these two are. If you need a full stop Gretel wins. If you just need them to fire less Chao can do that pretty well and cause comparable to better damage.
I was really excited because I know a lot of people still dealing with using vanilla mana controllers. Having one of them now be so effective that they’re comparable to a special event one is huge. Way better than the other options and I would argue better in many scenarios than the vanilla 5* option, which would just be Leo and his 40% drop. I think if you’re in this boat leveling Chao’s costume should very well be a priority and potentially worth emblems too. He is a huge gain in that regard.
Wow, you made it this fair …
Good luck out there!