Red-Headed Stepchild: Bob’s Practical Guide to Snipers

a note on Bob’s Practical Guides: these guides are intended to be as helpful, informative, or at least thought-and-discussion-provoking as possible to a wide range of players, but are primarily for players who DON’T have all the latest-and-greatest, because of limited resources, limited luck, and/or being new players. If these guides are useful or interesting to better-resourced players as well, that is a nice bonus, but not the main intent!

So: let’s talk about snipers.

Folks have, at various times on the forums, started threads about the virtues of rainbow teams, mono teams, Slow heroes, bringing various 3* and 4* heroes with superhero Specials into a 5* world….

…but relatively little chat is about snipers. When they come up, the most common appellation is something like

  • “just” snipers

or an evaluation of what a given sniper does entirely outside of its sniper identity.

As a player who battled up into Diamond arena as a F2P primarily on the strength of sniper heroes, and as one who finds himself even now increasingly finding many of his best, at least semi-recent, heroes are again of this type, I have some experience using snipers to try to punch above my weight. It’s not for the faint of heart, and not necessarily for those who abide by conventional wisdom or have strong roster resources, but it can work.

Maybe it can work a little bit for you, too.

What do I mean by “sniper”?

For the purposes of discussion here, I’ll be generally considering a sniper to be a hero that does damage to a single target (and at least primarily as immediate direct damage).

Very often, a sniper may apply buffs or debuffs, and these may not necessarily be limited to a single target. Snipers commonly operate at Fast (or even Very Fast) speed, but slower snipers exist. (At least theoretically, a slower sniper will make up for its speed with increased damage or an increasing array of additional effects beyond single-target damage.)

Why snipers?

If you’re facing a choice between 450% damage to a single target at Fast or 450% damage to three, or even to all, at Fast, with little other difference, then you might indeed ask “why sniper?” But the assumption here is that if you’re reading this guide, you don’t necessarily have the option of doing sniper-like damage to multiple heroes at the same speed.

But let’s talk about why snipers can be useful in many contexts.

  1. Snipers are something you probably actually have.

Sometimes discussions of heroes or hero combos talk about the raw power to significantly affect entire teams (yours, an opponent’s, or both) or special combos between abilities that can have devastating effects. To play this game, though, you have to have such heroes: either standalone game-changers, or the right combination of abilities (and the latter often ideally in the same color and even in similar strengths — if one necessary part of your combo is 4* or an older uncostumed 5* hero, then pulling off the combo successfully may be more of a challenge)!

Snipers, on the other hand, are likely derided or overlooked in part because of their ubiquity: from the moment you start the game and get your first Bane, you know a bit about sniper heroes. Chances are as you progress through the game, even as F2P, you will wind up summoning heroes that are, largely, snipers, so they will always be an option.

For all the talk about “synergy” between heroes, you can only pull off combos that you actually have. Snipers are a common hero type and being able to bring single-target direct damage (generally with some kind of added bonus) is almost always some kind of option.

And even when you do have a nice combo? If four of your team slots are spoken for, a good sniper is often a useful all-purpose addon for some added oomph.

  1. Snipers bring some speed to the common player.

As mentioned above, snipers are very often at Fast or better speed. For a not-heavily-resourced player, snipers may be one of your best or at least most accessible ways to have some speedy options on your teams: many of your other special effects, from healing to buffs to heavy debuffs, may be slower heroes, and a hero who never gets the chance to fire generally isn’t helping you. Support slower heroes with at least some faster ones, though, and the story may be different.

(I’m not saying speed is everything — and in fact, in another Practical Guide I’ll argue that concentrating on hero speed can be, in some circumstances, even partly overrated, but for now let’s just say that speed can certainly matter.)

This can be a niche for Very Fast (and similar) heroes in particular: on offense, the ability to fire an ability (with damage) in two tile matches instead of generally three can help get a leg up. Not all Very Fasts are snipers…but at least some are.

And snipers help solve problems that you have Right Now. Sometimes you have a great combo building up, but it won’t matter as much if an opponent’s taunter or healer or ailment-blocker is about to fire first.

Who ya gonna call? Snipers.

  1. Snipers help with a primary concern on offense: damage.

A defense team can, in principle, win by running out the clock. But when you’re bringing PvP offense - or completing PvE stages - at some point you need to actually defeat enemies.

Direct damage isn’t the only way to do so: damage over time, counterattack, damage reflection, and other abilities can apply damage as well… but are often vulnerable to being cleansed or dispelled. Direct damage applies damage, and as aforementioned, generally does so faster — in sniper form — rather than slower.

Snipers have another advantage: they can deliver damage where it’s most needed. Doing 300% damage to all doesn’t matter if opponents can survive it and heal it away before you can exploit the opportunity, or at least not so much as applying 550% damage to one that takes an opponent hero off the board (especially in a timely fashion).

  1. Sniper offenses can help you learn about timing.

I mentioned above that snipers can help with Right Now problems, but more generally, learning to use a sniper-heavy team means that you have to think about firing heroes together. Very often, unless you have a fully-maxed top-shelf sniper, a single sniper hit without anything else may not be a clean takedown of a single hero.

Using snipers is a tactical game: do I fire a sniper now, or in another turn when I can fire two snipers. Or when I can get a buff up before firing the sniper. Or when an opponent’s buff is about to lapse. Or this opponent, together with the damage from a tile match, instead of that one. You get the idea.

That’s not to say that other heroes don’t also benefit from careful timing, and of course you rarely will use a pure-sniper team — but timing is critical for a sniper-heavy team.

For big hit-3 and hit-all heroes, you often benefit from firing them when you can. For special combos of heroes, you fire when the combo is set up. But with snipers, it’s less “pew pew pew” and more… like an actual sniper sniper, lining up your shot and taking it at the best moment. Other hero types can be a little more “make tile matches, mash the X button to win,” but snipers require more tactical decisions.

Once you’re used to thinking more tactically, that can even carry over to non-sniper use more as well!

  1. Snipers can more quickly unlock one of the best mana buffs in the game: ghosting tiles.

If you have the heroes or combos to knock opponents off the board in one fell swoop, more power to you — but especially with hit points on the rise (with ever-increasing hero power AND Legendary troops), even big multi-target hitters and combos may not create holes in opponent formations very quickly, and may tend to be more about taking down most or all of an opponent wave or team in one go.

But snipers excel at individual takedowns, and every individual knocked out opens a potential lane for ghosting tiles. A number of heroes offer various boosts to mana generation, but almost none of them can compare to doubling mana for tiles that “ghost” or cleanly miss all opponents. (Plus, of course, ghosted tiles don’t charge up opponent specials, whether they are of a color you want or not.)

This is one way to change the speed game, more than any individual mana-affecting ability or pouring resources into +mana troops — doubling your own mana while denying your opponents incoming tile mana can be a huge win.

  1. Snipers help you get “partial credit.”

Sometimes the goal — or even a feasible outcome — of a given raid or war attack is not to actually win.

Sometimes what you want to do is to at least successfully knock out a part of the target. On raids, this might be because you are trying to fulfill Path of Giants quests and need to take out a certain number of purple and/or druid heroes. Those quests, at least, don’t require you to actually win the raid, so you can take a consolation prize from a defeat if you at least knock out what you need for PoG credit, as snipers are, after all, targeted damage.

On wars, you may be faced with a team (or several teams, even mostly teams) that look to be a bit … Charge of the Light Brigade style attacks. Wars are a team sport, so if you can’t win, at least leave a mess: concentrated damage can help you take out the tank and/or a key hero to make it easier for a teammate (or yourself, depending on your alliance’s protocols) to clean up the rest.

None of this is to say that snipers, or sniper-heavy offenses, are the way you should play, but that there are advantages to snipers that may make them worth considering and including in your play. (Especially offense: notably, heroes on defense tend to fire randomly, so many snipers are less useful when they aren’t tactically guided by a patient human hand.)

But snipers can be a valuable addition to your options, not least of all if you often find yourself punching up.

Questions? Comments? Feedback? This post may evolve as folks sound off. Let me know what you think, and may RNG occasionally show you mercy!

Downthread: first video example of sniper-heavy offense

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this is definitely a viable prominent tactic used and has always been used by intelligent teams when members are diverse in levels and available strength therein.

better to have high level players taking on the high level opponents, hopefully wining but depending on what and how many heroes remain for either mid level teammates to clean up partial teams or low level teammates to cleanup a opponent with a single hero remaining. for a low level teammate with limited heroes facing say a powerful meta hero where even their best heroes are at a disadvantage strength wise to the single opponent snipers are a value to them to be able to get the victory even with not fully leveled heroes.

and during rush wars its better for someone to eliminate a team with say that certain queen of rush so someone else can defeat the rest of the opposing team remaining, in part because the dont have to face that threat and the opening in the defense gives them the advantage of ghosting tiles, again giving snippers on their team not of the strength of the opposition they face more quick killing power to achieve a victory.

snipers of other abilities are also useful if synergy is good. dont know if this has any examples, havent played in some time but that seahorse sniper from untold tales, summons replicating fiends to the hit target, then adjacent teammates, if there are any heroes these days that boost fiend damage, however either by lowering defense, damage taken or by passive that would be a very valuable pairing…if it exists, to use in conjunction with the seahorse guy.

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Phenomenal write up snark. A lot of your points are things that aren’t always on my mind so it was super helpful. The longer you play the more you have a go to one and mostly it’s to tank bust.

Bravo!!!

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I went through my top 120 heroes and found four that can hit all at fast speed and 24 fast snipers.

I agree with the point about ghosting tiles. But it’s also about “slowing” down the enemy. If they only have three heroes not nobly am I faster due to ghosting but they’re much slower in damaging me.

Snipers allow me to kill the biggest threat, “regroup”, and then go after the rest of the team.

I think one of the biggest reason some folks avoid snipers is they’re playing mono. If you have 6/7/8/9 whatever tile team it’s easy to have only hit alls at that speed (if you have those heroes). I see it sometimes when I have/choose to play mono. I can win in four turns when you charge all of your heroes. Snipers aren’t needed in that set up.

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I have relied primarily on snipers and healers while playing this game for six years now. And primarily my snipers have been Lianna, Sartana, and Joon (ok, yes and Marjana :roll_eyes: since replaced by Gefjon).

Never had Magni for four years and never had the opportunity since to use him much with C.Finley available.

Time was when two snipers was a guaranteed kill on anyone. Not so much now, where it can take more than three of mine. But for a weakened opponent I would much rather have a sniper than any of my hit 3 or aoe heroes. Plus, I can often fire off a snipe twice in the time to fire off an aoe once.

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Very nice post Bob! :+1:
If you record some of your own fights, an example at the end would be nice and reinforce the content.
I am still using Lianna ( mostly not in c1 althoug I have it ), Magni with or without costume. Joon and Marjana regurarely! :sob:
Unfortunately all my MANY puls in the costume chamber did not give me a Marjana costume. ( although I have 2 of her at 4/80 and one fully blemed and LB1.)
That were the times when I was very short of red projects a loooooong time ago! :smile:
I always pull in the chamber until I get the hotm or until running out of keys.
We will see what will come first with the next chamber when I start using my 120+ keys. :smile:

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Thank you — and that thought had crossed my mind: do you have or could you suggest someplace with recommendations for recording software? I’m running on iPadOS, though my tablet is almost old enough to have been built out of some reconstituted stone fragments that have some kind of Hebrew writing burned onto the back :crazy_face:

no offense to anyone’s religion here, I’m just making an “old tablet” joke!

ahem

The native screen recording in the O/S seems to record at Astrophotography levels of resolution, which makes the video filesizes absurdly large and unwieldy for after-the-fact downscaling; I’d prefer to actually record at a lower (but still reasonably shareable) resolution. (It also doesn’t help that my sniper raid fights tend more toward “methodical” than “quick,” or at least they do if I’m winning :stuck_out_tongue: )

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you might try the livestreaming option if your intend to upload to youtube anyway, you just need a certain latency internet speed level…no idea though…to long since i’ve done any of that stuff. you should be able to lessen the resolution for the os screen capture as well…cant remember either how to…in the settings i’d wager…

Unfortunately I am a dinosaur concerning todays technology and I have no idea that could help you.
Got the idea from @Homaclese es videos and others.

I’m not sure if you can record using Quicktime?
Might be worth checking out the link below.
https://support.sluh.org/iPad_screen_recording

Thank you for this sniper post! So insightful

I’ll check in as I have time to see what I can find about screen recording; I would actually like to do so, it’s just been unwieldy for me in the past and I’m a little crunched with work right now, but I’d be happy to follow up when I can do.

In the meantime, thank you to everyone offering kind words and I’ll be happy to continue considering other suggestions for this thread as well!

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External link to video

My first attempt at doing a gameplay share; the resolution is deliberately low, but do let me know if it’s a bit too low for purpose.

Sniper lineup as featured in thumbnail:

  • Phenexa: Pretty arguably my best healer, plus tasty offensive buffs. A passive that reduces enemy revive is also nice. Note: doesn’t cleanse, though.

  • toon!Magni: Biggest stats for sniping damage, plus toon immunities.

  • Roughian: Respectable sniping damage plus mana steal plus support goodies (including free minion-munching)

  • Himeros: Dispel-first, Very-Fast, and buffs the sniping of adjacent? Yes, please.

  • Torben: Defense down and marked for shared damage often means that Torben plus any other hit can be set-and-serve.

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Nice video Bob. :+1:
Of course your sniper team is leagues above what I can field so I still have to make do with my l.p.p.m. ( little putple pain machine ) :smile:

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@BobTheSnark curious to know if you have any recommendations for 3☆ snipers?

Can see the tiles and specials so its ok ^-^

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Personally, one of my biggest factors for looking for and advancing quality snipers is fighting Titans. Who cares about multiple targeting if you’re only facing one opponent? :man_shrugging:t5:

So unless it’s a character that buffs the team in some way- a mana or attack boost, increasing damage from matching tiles, etc.- I’m loading up with snipers when hunting Titans.

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@Elayanith indeed it is a matter of adjusting to taste (and what you have!), but the nice thing about a sniper build is that generally there is some sniper combo most folks will have access to, even if it’s “just” some healer/buffer plus whatever S1 costumes and occasional sniper from wherever in semi-unified color(s).

(I’ve never had steady performance from running mono personally and generally run 3-2 as above, but different folks have different experiences, not least of all when what you’ve got has strengths mostly concentrated in one color, of course!)

Hmm, this can be answered for a couple scenarios:

  1. 3* snipers used in their own weight class (3* tourneys, 3* Challenge levels, lower raid arenas against primarily 3* and not-heavily-developed 4*, etc)

  2. 3* snipers used outside their weight class (“win a raid using at least one Rare hero,” especially anywhere in Diamond)

I mention this because 3* sniper damage generally scales poorly against developed 5* defense ratings and hit points. So, in the latter case you want primarily want someone (a) with a nice Special worth bringing and (b) ideally pretty fast so it at least has a chance to fire once before it gets owl-bliterated or the like.

In both categories, I especially like Felton from the Musketeers for his buff reflect, but I also appreciate that he’s not necessarily a hero that anyone can just go out and get right now if you don’t already have one.

In this first category, though, definitely don’t sleep on costumed (especially Toon) versions of S1 snipers when you can get them; even though the stat boosts aren’t as heinously insane as 5* Toons, Toon stat boosts worth having even “just” for “pew pew” lasers

plus, of course, the full-strength ridonuklous Toon immunities

IMG_1815

plus S1 superior talents when fully emblemed, even sans Toon, one notable example of which is Wizard

IMG_1816

Balthazar having the chance to dispel-first for free not only from his Special but *from tile damage or slash hits” is pretty nice.

Tyrum (also, S2’s Mnesseus) is a useful utility sniper if you have costume allowing you to toggle between dispel and cleanse (especially for Bloody Battle tourneys, but generally!)

Good ‘ol Bane blinds and Azar mana-cuts (either of which can save your bacon against a big incoming enemy attack if your damage isn’t enough to end the threat; Bane, as a Monk, can shrug off some incoming ailments), and Valen (or cBerden)’s defense-down can set an enemy up for a one-two-punch takedown when paired with another attacker of the same color. (And Fighter Revive talent from emblems can be great when you are playing from behind.)

Gnomer (Grimforest, i.e. Challenge Festival I) is Very Fast. There… aren’t that many Very Fast 3* (note, though, that you’ll want, ideally, at least +9% mana generation on him to get him to fire in six tiles on offense) and Pixie says “no” to enemy/boss specials for a time.

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what about that hooded 3* from S5?? cant remember if shes hit 1 or 3, doge is good to for tournaments

Aqeela is hit-3, so I didn’t consider her as a 3* sniper per se, but her dodge is indeed very handy!

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Balthazar? That’s the 3* wizard who does damage only or Sorcerer who poisons.

Surely you mean a different hero.

Thank you so much for answering my question in detail!

I’m currently Lvl 25 and I’m working on 3☆s teams for tourney and rare quests so i can enough mats to ascend my 4☆s and 5☆s

I have cMnesseus emblemed but havent had luck with cBane and cTyrum, i just pulled Gnomer (yay?) and have Pixie so i’ll definitely look into working on them!

Thanks once again for a great response, much appreciated :heart:

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