Vanilla Tactica Encyclopedia

Hey all!

I recently started a thread about best uses for a couple of vanilla 5* heroes I have. These are by no means the essential 5’s. What I found when searching them is that pretty much every topic was “this hero is junk” or “ascend special event hero X or vanilla hero X”. You can imagine who everyone said to ascend. :laughing:

It got me thinking though as a F2P player, I naturally have mostly vanilla heroes and some special ones sprinkled in. There are all sorts of lively discussions and in depth tactic reviews for the latest and greatest HotMs, S3, etc. but that same information seemed to be lacking, or at least not readily available in a lazy search, for the vanilla heroes.

Now I get most posters on the boards are on the upper end of the game and can make entire teams of special heroes, but I think most overall players of the game, as well as most lurkers, use a lot of vanilla heroes still. It seems to me it would be a great resource for the community to have an in depth thread for uses of these 4* and 5* vanilla heroes.

Reading only what one finds in quick searches here you would go from excitement of a new hero to disappoint because a lot of them are called junk (or worse :laughing:) a lot around here because they don’t compare to the special heroes. That seems wrong. Most of them are plenty viable to play with still.

Maybe this exists and I missed it, in which case apologies and also congrats for making it this far :laughing:. Otherwise it seems like something that could have widespread use and done as an entire community wouldn’t take that much effort. A thread for a hero so when someone searches it that comes up like they have for any of the later release heroes.

Let me know what you think and good luck out there!



this is a forum treasure right here @JonahTheBard

@Muchacho this is a great initiative!

I have to think about this. I am a little bit guilty of prioritizing my special heroes over my vanilla ones, so my first wave of ascended 5*s were non-vanillas (to be fair to me, the game gave me the non-vanillas first…)

I do have to say, my mostly-vanilla defense (a core of Boldtusk +15, Elena +7 and Marjana +7) in the current no-Blue buff booster tournament have earned me a B defense grade so far, so these three must be doing something right! :wink:


Thanks @sleepyhead, worth a shot. I will go back to my corner now :wink: :laughing:



Apart from Danzaburo all my maxed heroes are vanilla (I have a bunch of dupes too)

Many of them are behind new heroes in stats, but their simplicity make them simply awesome.

Heroes like Caedmon, Kiril, Boldtusk, Grimm or Sabina with a good amount of emblems have allowed me to reach diamond twice.


Love this idea and agree vanilla heroes need more love!

Elena is a big reason I can smack scary top 100 teams and come out victorious sometimes. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: Vanilla heroes aren’t as flashy but they are a staple and too many people underestimate what they can do! Also some of them that don’t seem great at first site actually really shine with emblems - Elk is one example. His attack stat is low which makes his special seem ineffective but if you boost it with emblems he can literally become a one man army. The benefit of having less hero choices in one’s roster is there’s less competition for materials and emblems. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: Leveled heroes are the best! :rofl:


I think Isarnia was my favourite vanilla 5*, and I had plenty to choose from!

Her defence drop to all enemies made her such a powerful hero, in my opinion, vs titan, event bosses or even just hard stage map mobs.

It’s a shame the original heros are often overlooked now for the shiny new ones, but if new players were encouraged to use/max them more, I think a new generation of players would learn to love them too. :slightly_smiling_face:


Vanilla heroes? Around here we call them workhorses.

Grimm, Tiburtus, Gormek
Kiril, Boldtusk, Melendor, Sabina, Rigard
Sonya, Caedmon
Li Xiu, Little John

They are the fundamental building blocks of this game. Nothing but love for this 4* crew. And now with the emblem economy all out of whack?! And costume bonuses?! Absolute mainstays.


Ah, Li Xiu! My very first 4* card :blush::blush:

So in thrall was I to her ‘I’m gonna backhand your face if you don’t back the f**k up’ artwork, I ended up with 3 of her maxed. Lol


@BubblesUK also made this great observation on the Ninja Tower thread.

And I agree - I started using Melendor out of costume from Level 30 onward. My Sabinas, Rigards, Mels, Kirils and Boldtusks have been absolutely critical to my Ninja Tower experience. Joon, Sartana, Marjana, Azlar, Grimm, Isarnia are also all proving very useful.

Sure, the effects only last one turn in higher floors - but timing them right (firing them same turn as my snipers) has been effective!



Every special skill is designed as a whole… Lianna does so much more direct damage than Magni, Marjana or Sartana because she doesn’t have any buff or DoT to follow it.

In the tower, those secondary effects count for a lot less because the duration is cut.
So you might be losing a fraction on the impact of your special skills with heroes like Magni, Marj or Sartana where you’ll lose zero with Lianna.

But you can take it further than that…

Compare Marjana with Tyr - his special loses a lot more in the tower than Marj’s does… So she holds her own with him in there!


Thank you my good man for creating this thread!

Once I have a bit more time on my hands, I may invest some of it creating (hopefully somewhat useful) breakdowns of each vanilla hero (at least the ones that I have experience with).

Would love to be an active part of this kind of project.

Will start it off by saying that one of the most basic, most common, yet most useful heroes in the entire game is BOLDTUSK.

Not knocking any others or saying he is the absolute GOAT of vanilla heroes, but… if you are new to this game and don’t plan on spending a king’s ransom buying heroes?

You absolutely can not ever possibly go wrong leveling up at least one Boldtusk.

I promise you, you won’t regret it!

And anyone who says they do regret leveling up Boldtusk is someone who doesn’t know what they’re talking about, and you should stay away from them, as they are 100% bad news - don’t eat their candy, read their pamphlets or get into their windowless panel van.


OK, let me give this a shot by contributing a primer on one of the most dumped upon classic five-stars - The Mighty Thorne. (@Muchacho is not at all surprised that this was who I chose for my first pass.)

First of all, Thorne’s artwork is some of the coolest in the game, I think. He just has this look like he’s seen things. Kind of that Jack Nicholson “you want me on that wall” stuff. And his special skill has an awesome name too - the Icecold Finisher. So Thorne exudes cool.

The reason people dump on Thorne is because his special only does one thing, which is hit hard. It’s called Icecold Finisher for a reason - if it doesn’t finish whoever it hits, it doesn’t do anything else. And I’m not gonna deny that sucks. But it does hit pretty hard. And if you can mix it with some attack up and defense down, it hits REALLY hard. And knowing this is the key to making the best use of Thorne.

You see, Thorne has tanky stats. Like, really tanky stats. And he’s a paladin, which makes him even tankier. So you look at him, and you go, “Well, he’s gotta be a good tank.” And that, I believe, is your first mistake. Past a certain point, at least, Thorne is not a good tank. In fact, I feel like Thorne is not really good on defense at all. Because if you can’t time and target his special, it doesn’t do what it is supposed to do. (Icecold Finisher, remember?) As much as I like Thorne, I do not fear seeing Thorne on the opponent’s defense team. Like, at all. Ever. I kind of relish it, and I usually don’t even stack against him. So, first point, Thorne has defensive stats, but he doesn’t really work that well on defense. Got it? OK. Let’s move on.

Thorne’s job is to hit hard, which is why you want him on offense. Because offense is about hitting hard. And because you can time and target his special correctly. Another thing people don’t like about Thorne is that he is average speed. But you know who else is average speed? Kiril and Grimm. And you know what makes Thorne hit really freakin’ hard? Getting Kiril’s attack buff and Grimm’s defense down against the same three heroes Thorne is about to hit… HARD. Because that’s what Thorne does. If you raid 3-2, this 3tack of Kiril, Grimm, and Thorne is a pretty effective one for wiping out the opponent’s center, or one side of their defense. It’s also straight-up brutal on mob waves with three moblings, or triple bosses.

Now, if you’re lucky enough to have a special hero with elemental defense down (i.e. Frida or King Arthur), then I’m guessing Thorne’s damage just gets stupid high. I’m guessing because I don’t have either of those two. But trust me, I’m pretty sure it would be awesome.

Another way I like to use Thorne is in conjunction with Gormek and Brynhild, which is kind of a weird team-up, but it works for me in wars, where I usually go rainbow to make sure I don’t drain my bench of one color too early. I like this combo because Gormek is a giant pile of meat himself, so both he and Thorne survive pretty well. And with a fast healer like Brynhild in the middle of them, they survive really well. And Brynhild boosts their mana generation, which for two average heroes is nice. I know they are all different colors, but did you know Gormek’s defense down lasts six turns? SIX! That’s a long dang time! So you don’t have to have him and Thorne ready together. You just have to fire Gormek, and Thorne can usually take his sweet time about getting ready to fire. You still get the same punishing hit-three effect. You could also try this with Kasshrek (with or without costume), I guess, but you wouldn’t get the mana boost.

Finally, if you are going to emblem Thorne, I suggest doing it along the attack path. Now, first of all, the forum is going to mock you for embleming Thorne. Because they hate Thorne. Because he’s average mana, has no secondary effects, and requires other heroes alongside him to do maximum damage. But you’re going to use Thorne, and you’re going to use Thorne to great effect, because you are a vanilla hero warrior, and that’s what you do. (No one else is stupid enough to still be reading at this point, right?) So you’re going to emblem Thorne, and you’re going to emblem him along the attack path. Even though he has tanky stats. Even though he’s a paladin. Because Thorne hits hard. It’s all he does. So you need him to hit harder. Got it? The tanky stats are a bonus, because it usually means he lives long enough to hit hard.

So, we’re not pretending Thorne is Gravemaker or anything. But we’re not pretending he’s garbage, either. Because now we know better. He’s not a defensive hero. He’s an offensive hero who lives long enough to hit hard. There you have it - The Mighty Thorne, as told by Noble Weasel.

(BTW, his costume isn’t out yet, but I hope to get it and update this post accordingly once I do.)


I will give a shout out to Kiril for his versatility. The twin buffs to attack and defense are significant - and some ways to use these to advantage:

  1. Most obvious - combo with the likes of defense debuffers (Isarnia, Grimm) and heavy hitters (Lianna, Thorne, Joon…) for a much stronger hit…

  2. I learned this in raids - heal up just before a particularly strong attacker fires their special. At full health and with the defense buff active, many of my frailer heroes have survived emblemed Lianna specials. The number of times my Proteus, Hansel, (ok not vanilla…) or even Grimm have survived hits they otherwise wouldn’t, has let me turn the tide of many a battle!


If I may expand on a couple of these for a sec…

As someone who got Boldtusk late and who is currently leveling a second Boldtusk, I endorse this view wholeheartedly. I also believe Boldtusk should be your first priority for fighter emblems. There are a lot of good fighters in the game, but Boldtusk is always a good choice for emblems. Having him revive and then cast his special for a heal can be absolutely demoralizing for an attacker. Emblem Boldtusk.

Also, did you know that Boldtusk is the only commonly available healer in the fighter class? And, if you get his costume, did you know he’s the only commonly available healer in the monk class (which seems kind of weird in and of itself)? So, if you like class trials - and if you’re a vanilla hero warrior, you like class trials, amIright? - then Boldtusk is going to make your life a ton easier. So seriously, level Boldtusk. Emblem Boldtusk. Costume Boldtusk. Use Boldtusk. Love Boldtusk.

Also endorse Kiril as a great hero. One point here is that, especially in war, you might not have as many cleansers as you would like, but Kiril reverses not one, but two, of the most common status ailments in the game. His buffs overwrite defense down and attack down. That’s pretty darn handy. So look at what ailments you need to cleanse before going into the fight. Kiril might serve just as well in place of a proper cleanser.

Kiril’s costume is also quite handy. It can reverse two of the most common buffs in the game. So maybe you use him instead of a dispeller if all you need to dispel is, say, Vivica or Magni. And that defense down to all is just nasty. Plus, he’s a sorcerer in costume, and especially among vanillas, the sorcerer class is populated by, shall we say, less-than-impressive heroes? (Sabina is the exception, of course.) So “versatile” is indeed the word for Kiril, and I plan to level a second one with costume at some point.


Kiril is kind of like the blue version of Boldtusk. Excellent choice there when stacking blues. :+1:


Hey all, thanks for participating. I am glad it caught some interest.

I am trying to think of the best way to both collect the information and distribute it so it’s easy to find when that hero is searched. :man_shrugging:

Open to ideas, but they almost seem to need their own control thread that would come up. I wonder if more people would participate if they were split as they could start, or join, conversations about the heroes they’re interested in and ignore the ones they’re not :thinking:. Let’s face it, even if we use all these we do have favorites :wink:


Geez, why does @Noble_Weasel hate Thorne so much :laughing: . Great write up! Even if poster don’t respond much I hope the lurkers who have and use him find it


For me, valuable classic 5*:

• Lianna (maxed 2, including the costume; vital in my monogreen)
• Joon (maxed 1, including costume; not as vital with Lianna in my monogreen as I have also a maxed Poseidon, which I alternately use; holding my 18 darts for costumes of 3/70 Leo and/or 3/70 Viv)
• Magni (I have 2 sitting at 3/70 as my scopes are with my other ice legendaries, i.e Athena, Frida, Ariel, Master Lepus, Snow White, Vela and Miki; no costume)
• Sartana (I have 1 maxed and 1 standing by, waiting for the costume; rarely used nowadays)
• Marjana (stranded at 3/70 even with 20 rings, awaiting for her costume)
• Domita (I have 1 maxed and 2 standing by, costumed on the 1st already maxed; rarely used nowadays)
• Azlar (I have 1 maxed and 1 more standing by; awaiting costume)
• Kadilen (stuck at 3/70 even while sitting on 15 tonics, awaiting costume)
• Elkanen (stuck at 3/70; awaiting costume)

Valuable 4*:

• Boldtusk (maxed 2, including the costume, emblemed both; vital in my red stack)



She still hits like a truck! Bigger def-down and therefore shining against titans (unless someone own Athena).
Very strong in rush attack tournaments!


Not as strong as Seshat but still good due to her dispell!


Another fan of the Ice Queen!

For players that still do the tried and tested Elemental Summon (despite the calls not to do so) to buff their roster, and not go full tilt on Seasonal/Event/S2/S3 etc frigging etc, I’d hazard a rough guess that Isarnia would be right up the top for defence dropping heros, even compared to some of the newer ones.

A card worth ascending every day of the week and twice on Sundays, in my opinion. :slightly_smiling_face:

Edit: For typos… apologies; fat fingers, small keyboard and booze don’t work well together

1 Like

This thread is a good one for making tough decisions. I came here looking for advice on Thorne vs Richard. I have Raff and Isarnia maxed in blue and 12 scopes. Ftp so the likelihood of something better coming soon is low. @Noble_Weasel did a great job of advocating for Thorne. I have been going back and forth on it for the past few days. Leaning slightly toward Thorne at the moment for the raw damage. Anyone feel like that is the wrong move?

Also, to contribute, Joon is the best. I use him all of the time. I am considering maxing out a second Joon due to lack of options in yellow. I don’t have jackal, but I do have Mist who goes everywhere with Joon as a 1-2 punch. The long blind and high tile damage are monstrous. I emblemed him to 19 and will likely go to 20 if I can ever find 250 more emblems.


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