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MSF Beginner's Guide - Buffs/Debuffs

Marvel Strike Force Beginner’s Guide - Buffs/Debuffs
Last Updated: October 2019

Section 1 - Introduction

Hey everyone. I am Voltagesauce and I am back with another guide for beginner players. My last two guides (see bottom of page for links) have been about the game at a high level especially focused on resources and farming. In this guide, I will discuss some game mechanics and primarily focus on buffs and debuffs during battles. 

Some of these status effects are easy to understand, but many have complexity to them. When I first started playing I didn’t pay too much attention to them because I didn’t understand how crucial they were. This guide will cover how all the effects work and tips/tricks to exploit them. I appreciate you taking the time to read!

Section 2 - Disclaimers

  • This guide will not be an exhaustive list of all of the tips/tricks that are possible with all of the status effects. I’d love to hear your thoughts on other ways to strategize around these buff and debuffs.
  • There are certain character abilities that do not follow the typical game mechanic rules. These skills typically mention this in their ability description. For example, Spiderman’s special ability (Web Slinger) says that it cannot be countered. It’s important to learn about these “exceptions” as you continue playing the game.
  • I try to use lots of examples in this guide and I primarily focused on characters that newer players may have so you can get familiar with the characters and their kits.
  • The most important disclaimer and the biggest takeaway from the guide is to read and try to understand all of the abilities. This sounds silly to many of you, but it’s really easy to skim over details in the game, especially as a beginner. Most abilities do multiple things and it’s easy to miss some of the small nuisances when you first start playing.

Section 3 - Turn Meter

Before I cover the buffs and debuffs, I think it is essential to understand that turn meter is the most important in-game mechanic. MSF is a turn based game, so if you can take advantage of your turns better than your opponent or take more turns than your opponent than you have a good chance to win. The turn meter is the blue bar that can be seen above your characters and the closer the bar is to being full, the closer to their turn the character is. Looking at my defenders team below, you can estimate that the order my characters will go is Daredevil, Iron Fist, Jessica Jones, Punisher, Luke Cage.

1132574947_DefendersTurnMeter.PNG.3bb33b3d6fac4b956d3231befbd2abc9.PNG

I say estimate because each character generates turn meter at a different value based on their Speed. Each character has a defined Speed characteristic that you can see in the individual character screens. For example, Daredevil’s speed is 119(see below). Characters’ speed bar fills up based on this value and whichever character fills up to 1000 units first goes next. This Speed value can be altered by certain buffs, debuffs, and abilities.

1517298665_DDSpeed.PNG.a07151abbc8ecbb53fba62dfb0d4eeb8.PNG
NOTE: When characters are the same speed and reach the 1000 unit threshold at the same time it is a coin flip for which character will get to move first.

Most buffs and debuffs end at the start or end of your characters turn, so this will be very important to follow during your matches because it influences the amount of time that characters will have buffs and debuffs applied to them.. I will go over how/when each status effect ends in the later sections of this guide, but it is important to understand that turn meter plays a huge factor in the effectiveness of buffs and debuffs.

Section 4 - Buffs

This section will cover all of the available buffs currently in the game. When these status effects are currently applied to your character they show up as green icons above their health bars. Buffs are also called positive status effects because they are designed to provide benefits to the character. However, one small caveat to understand as you learn the game is that buffs are not always a good thing. There are always exceptions and I will mention some specific examples later.

Also, some abilities apply multiple instances of buffs. For example, a buff may last two turns instead of one.

Counterattack

Counterattack.PNG.1de63966846393820523633eb586c782.PNG

  • This ability ends after the character counterattacks once.
  • Each character has their own Assist/Counter Info. Counterattack damage scales based on the character’s Basic ability level. Some characters can also apply special effects (like bleed). MSF.gg is a great resource for seeing individual character’s information. For example, Daredevil’s page:
  • Counterattack ends most chain attacks, so you have to be careful about which enemies you use chain attacks on. Also, it may be a good idea to position a character that gains counter next to your tank to end enemy chains.
  • Counter is important when it comes to AOE abilities. An AOE played into counters can kill the attacking character easily. For example, Punisher and Rocket ultimates can get them killed very easily. You can take advantage of the A.I. by applying counters before they use their ultimates.

Deathproof

Deathproof.PNG.c665fb309a5de0f594e01806c999e955.PNG

 

  • This ability ends after the character should have been killed
  • This effect is very powerful because it forces an additional move to be used to kill a character that could have already been dead. Or this leaves time for the character to use a powerful move or be healed.
  • One exception to deathproof is percentage based damage like Minnerva's Ultimate ability. A character with Deathproof will still die from this type of attack.
  • Abilities that deal damage and clear buffs will deal damage and then clear the buff. So this will not kill characters like you may expect.
  • Characters that deal multiple attacks can be useful against characters with Deathproof because they can proc the Deathproof buff and then kill them. For example, Crossbones Basic ability has a chance of a Bonus attack.

Defense Up

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  • This ability ends after the character’s turn.
  • Being able to reduce damage by 50% is one of the strongest buffs in the game. Luke Cage and Vision are both effective characters because they can give multiple allies (and themselves) defense up for two turns. Taking only half the damage for two turns is insane especially when many matches only take a few turns to be completed.
  • It is best to apply Defense Up to characters with less of their turn meter filled because then they will have the buff applied for longer. It is ineffective to you use it on a character that is about to take their turn because it will just end after their turn.
  • This is one of the most important buffs to look for on enemies when you are choosing a target to attack. 
  • This ability also increases resistance, which is the character’s ability to resist effects (like bleeds or defense down).
  • Getting stuck behind a character with Defense Up and Taunt can be game losing. Depending on the matchup it can be a good idea to kill, slow, or stun an enemy before they can use Defense Up abilities.

Deflect

Deflect.PNG.80be3ed9d595e6c4b5e22f365e1f7f55.PNG

  • This ability ends after the character blocks an attack.
  • Each character has a Block Amount that lowers the amount of damage of the attack by a fixed percentage. These can be seen in the individual character stat screens. Most characters have 25% Block Amount, but some characters have higher. For example, see Captain America has 30%:
  •  
  • This status effect is commonly seen in Alliance War when rooms are boosted and makes the defensive team take reduced damage for three instances.
  •  
  • It is important to understand the distinctions between Deflect and Defense Up. They both reduce the incoming damage, but Deflect will only last one instance. Defense Up will last until that character ends their next turn and can block damage from many attacks. On the other hand, a benefit of Deflect is that it remains applied until the character is attacked. Defense Up can be “wasted” if that character is not attacked before their next turn.

Evade

Evade.PNG.d839ac7fb5f0038efacafb9acabe3ac2.PNG

 

  • This ability ends after the character dodges an attack.
  • The character is guaranteed to dodge the next attack unless the attacker’s ability says otherwise (unavoidable)
  • Evade can be removed off multiple characters by using AOE abilities. For example, Rocket’s Basic ability will remove the buff off the primary and secondary targets. On the other hand, using Rocket’s Ultimate ability may not be the best approach to removing multiple Evade buffs because that is a huge damage ability with a 4 turn cooldown.
  • Overall, you just want to be careful which moves you are using on targets with Evade because you may waste an important ability.

Immunity

Immunity.PNG.9812b04576c88e3f6608bba96ab0d3e9.PNG

 

  • This ability ends after the character’s turn.
  • Immunity is pretty straight forward. You don’t want to use abilities that are primarily designed to put debuffs on a character with immunity like bleeds or heal block.
  • One caveat with Immunity is that abilities that flip effects still work (positive into negative). I will talk about flipping effects at the end of this guide.

Offense Up

113017173_OffenseUP.PNG.3cfb20abdfa2c3b05061e9b5f55d6f7a.PNG

 

  • This ability ends after the character’s turn.
  • This buff becomes insane on AOE abilities like Punisher, Rocket, Crossbones Ultimate abilities. Applying 50% extra damage is pretty good, but dealing 50% extra damage to all enemies is incredible.
  • Because this buff typically only lasts one turn it is important to time abilities that grant Offense Up before their ally will use their AOE abilities. For example, Kingpin might only want to use his Ultimate ability when Crossbones is ready to use his Ultimate ability.
  • On the other hand, if you are able to swap the order of enemies move order then you can potentially delay or prevent their massive AOE attacks.
  • This ability also increases Focus, which increases the attackers capability to apply effects to the target.

Regeneration

Regen.PNG.949a51bd4af29d71ec5608af0e341bff.PNG

 

  • This ability ends at the start of the character’s turn.
  • It is important to understand that the healing is based on the character that provides the Regeneration buff. For example, Luke Cage provides the Regeneration buffs to Defenders.
  • Regeneration is a percentage so it scales based on the source character’s health. So increases their yellow and red stars can have a major impact on the usefulness of the buffs.
  • This buff can “stack” meaning one character can have multiple Regeneration buffs that will be applied at the beginning of their turn. They could each heal different amounts if they were applied by different source characters.
  • I will talk about Bleed below in the Debuff section, but it is the only other effect that ends at the start of characters’ turns. The damage from Bleeds occur before the healing from Regenerations. A character could die before the heals are applied.
  • It could be a good idea to finish off a lower health enemy if they have many a few stacks of Regeneration on them.

Speed Up

90193347_SpeedUp.PNG.8ca5cade871756a1cf00c9208eebb6be.PNG

 

  • This ability ends after the character’s turn.
  • As I mentioned at the beginning of this guide, taking more turns than the opponent is a major advantage, so this can be an extremely strong buff when used properly.
  • The less a character's turn meter is full, the more value that a character will get from a Speed Up buff. I mentioned earlier that Daredevil’s speed was 119. So if his turn meter is almost full he may only gain 59.5 extra units of Speed from the buff. However, if Daredevil’s turn meter is almost empty then he may gain approximately 300 extra units of Speed (50% of 119 5 times) before his next turn. This could lead him to take an extra turn before the opponent’s characters.
  • One reminder is that characters generate ability energy whenever they take their turn, so the more turns they take the faster and more often that they will get to use their abilities.
  • Fun Fact: This ability used to get so abused that the Devs publicly talked about nerfing it to 30%, and they decided against it when the player base criticized the decision.

Stealth

Stealth.PNG.03c9650cb6fa758b3d9cbb6b5cc3af33.PNG

 

  • This ability ends after the character’s turn.
  • Stealth targets can still be damaged by AOE abilities.
  • Chained attacks will not chain to Stealthed targets though and it will break the chain attack. This makes characters that Stealth a good choice to be positioned next to Tanks and break chains. Also, you have to be aware when choosing your attack target because you may not get full value out of your attack if you choose a target with a stealthed enemy next to them.
  • I mentioned in the beginner that buffs are not always positive. One small aspect of this effect is that if all of the characters on a team are Stealth then the opponent can choose their attack target. The characters are not protected like you would hope when in Stealth.

Taunt

Taunt.PNG.2137761b83b37beb6aff8d67e5364b7a.PNG

 

  • This ability ends at the start of the character’s turn.
  • Taunt has to be used carefully because they will be the primary attack target of the opponent. If you taunt with someone who is low health they can die very easily.
  • On most teams it is a good idea to position characters that can taunt on either end. This way AOE abilities do not damage as many of your characters. A downside to this is that chains can hit all of the characters. To counteract this, it can be worthwhile to place characters that gain Counter, have high dodge chances, or can Stealth next to the Tank. For example, Daredevil gains counter and has high dodge chances so you will typically see him next to Luke Cage.
  • Taunt is another positive effect that can sometimes be a negative effect. There are certain character abilities that allow the opponent to give taunt to their target. This can force a critical target to gain the Taunt buff and be focused down by the opponent.

Section 5 - Debuffs

This section will cover all of the available debuffs currently in the game. When these status effects are currently applied to your character they show up as red icons above their health bars. Debuffs are also called negative status effects because they are designed to provide inhibit the character. Similar to Buffs, some Debuff abilities apply multiple instances of debuffs. For example, a debuff may last two turns instead of one. 


Ability Block

569990603_AbilityBlock.PNG.177562bec523c0cea26e33a50a75d277.PNG

 

  • This ability ends after the character’s turn.
  • This is one of the tougher abilities to use properly because you have to understand the characters and matchup to decide who and when to this debuff on. It doesn’t provide any benefit if you use it on someone who is going to use their basic next turn.
  • It takes practice to figure out who the best target in each matchup, but I generally prioritize characters that provide defense up like Luke Cage.

Bleed

Bleed.PNG.333630390055ecf88577cbd5fe3e4e3b.PNG

 

  • This ability ends at the start of the character’s turn.
  • Bleed has some of the more complex mechanics of any of the buffs or debuffs in the game, so I am primarily going to cover the basics.
  • Similar to Regeneration, Bleed is based on the stats of the character that applied the Bleed debuff.
  • The damage scales based on the damage stat of the source character. So increasing the amount of yellow or red stars on characters that apply bleed is extremely effective.
  • As I mentioned in the Regeneration section, it is important to remember that Bleed will proc before Regeneration at the start of a character's turn.
  • This debuff can “stack” meaning one charcater can have multiple bleed debuffs and will take multiple instances of damage at the start of their turn. Each instance could be for different amounts if they were applied by different source characters.
  • When bleeds are spread they do not spread the original source. The percentage of damage on the new bleeds is from the character who spread the debuffs. For example, Venom would be the source of the new bleeds when he uses his Ultimate ability to spread Bleeds.

Blind

Blind.PNG.282ebdaf8fc9b387a8586e06dc35b2c6.PNG

 

  • This ability ends after the character’s turn.
  • Similar to ability block, this debuff requires knowledge of the enemies' abilities to maximize its usefulness. You can really take advantage of the A.I. by blinding a character that will use an AOE or large damage ability move on their turn. Even though they are blinded, they will use it anyways and miss their target(s). On the other hand, if you use blind on a character that is going to taunt or use another defensive move then it provides no value.
  • Some characters are not affected or affected less by blind because their base accuracy is higher than 100%. For example, Daredevil has 200% accuracy, so blinding him does not affect his chances to deal damage.

1585102900_DaredevilAccurary.PNG.6f5a9f3cb79765d114c1c885dcb0b871.PNG

  • In a lot of ways, Blind is better than Stun against the A.I. because the character will use their ability instead of saving it for the next turn.

Defense Down

1479885998_DefenseDown.PNG.e8a271f3dc06136f167fdd47038b997f.PNG

 

  • This ability ends after the character’s turn.
  • I think there may be some nuisances with the way they are coded that make them different, but overall this debuff shares a lot of similarities to Offense Up.
  • This debuff significantly increases the burst potential on any targets affected.
  • If practical based on the matchup, I think focusing any characters with Defense Down is a good strategy.
  • It is best to apply Defense Down to characters with less of their turn meter filled because then they will have the debuff applied for longer. It is ineffective to you use it on a character that is about to take their turn because it will just end after their turn.
  • If possible, it is good to synergize abilities that provide AOE Defense Down with AOE damage dealing abilities for massive increases in damage.
  • Loki isn’t an early game character for most players, but his Special ability is a good example of a powerful Defense Down ability. Using him is becoming a popular strategy to burst down an important character at the beginning of a match like Luke Cage or Ultron.

Disrupted

Disrupted.PNG.cd00131cb73ed1ad6974ebc89bf05dff.PNG

 

  • This ability ends after the character’s turn.
  • This debuff is another effect that can be abused against the A.I. because you can make character’s waste an important move. Disrupting a character that will Taunt on their next turn comes to mind. The A.I. will use the ability anyways and it will not apply Taunt to the character.
  • One entertaining interaction is a Disrupted Crossbones using his Ultimate ability and killing himself because the Deathproof could not be applied to Crossbones.

Heal Block

1338206177_HealBlock.PNG.55cbd277b3c87bfa9a9bb2f7f572f59e.PNG

 

  • This ability ends after the character’s turn.
  • This effect can be a huge nuisance on teams that rely on being able to heal their characters and outlasting opponents. For example, this can be very annoying for a Defenders team that relies on healing from Iron Fist.
  • This also is a huge problem for teams that have a healer that “heal the most injured ally” because they can try to heal an ally with Heal Block and it will fail and waste the ability. Minnerva is an example of a character that will keep healing the lowest health ally, even if they have Heal Block applied and the healing is wasted.
  • This debuff is particularly difficult to deal with in raids and dark dimension because these teams typically heal a lot to continue progressing through the nodes.

Offense Down

520655877_OffenseDown.PNG.8ee5916315af70c2384635b5b2af8e1f.PNG

 

  • This ability ends after the character’s turn.
  • This effect compares similarly to the target having Defense Up. It can be one of the strongest effects if applied to the correct character at the right time.
  • Applying this to a character that is about to use their big AOE ability can make it just tickle your entire team.
  • On the other hand, it may be worth delaying using your own AOE ability a turn if your character is affected by Offense Down.
  • Targeting characters that also applying debuffs is a good idea because they will be less likely to apply debuffs to your characters. Pyro is a good example of a character that does AOE damage and applies Bleed. With Offense Down he will do a lot less damage and be less likely to inflict Bleed.

Slow

Slow.PNG.e13f77e89e7b2403db7f9cf7e65f9612.PNG

 

  • This ability ends after the character’s turn.
  • This effect has most of the same mechanics as Speed Up. Affecting the turn order is one of the most powerful effects in the game.
  • Similar to Speed Up, Slow is most effective when applied to a character that has less of their turn meter filled (slowed for longer).
  • Slowing a tank down is a common strategy because it will inhibit them from protecting their team in a timely manner. For example, slowing Luke Cage at the beginning of a match will keep him from giving his allies Defense Up.
  • Slow can also be used to mess up the turn order of a team. Some characters rely on an ally to “setup” their attack and slowing the “setup” character down can ruin the combo.

Stun

Stun.PNG.b370842c8eb0bd20ef1e1ab3ca8dac1f.PNG

 

  • This ability ends after the character’s turn.
  • Stun is pretty self explanatory. Any time you can force a character to lose a turn is pretty powerful.
  • Similar to what I mentioned in the Buffs section, there are times where applying a Debuff to an opponent can actually be a bad thing. For example, if you stun a character with Taunt. They will Taunt for an extra turn, which could keep you from attacking their damage dealers or healers.    

Section 6 - Flipping Status Effects

One other game mechanic that is involved with buffs and debuffs is abilities that “Flip effects”. For example, Doctor Strange can “flip all positive effects on each enemy”. So any buff that an enemy has will become a debuff. There are also moves that flip negative effects on allies. And this flip is not just random. Each buff has an “opposite” debuff and vice versa. This can be a massive swing from just one ability. Here is a table for the opposite effects:

 

Buff/Debuff

Flips to

Ability Block

Evade

Bleed

Regeneration

Blind

Stealth

Counter

Bleed

Deathproof

Bleed

Defense Down

Defense Up

Defense Up

Defense Down

Disrupted

Immunity

Evade

Bleed

Heal Block

Deathproof

Immunity

Disrupted

Offense Down

Offense Up

Offense Up

Offense Down

Regeneration

Bleed

Slow

Speed Up

Speed Up

Slow

Stealth

Bleed

Stun

Counter

Taunt

Bleed


Section 7 - Conclusions

Thanks for reading this far. I feel like I learned a bunch by writing this guide and I hope it helps you too. There are a lot of really neat mechanics in this game and there is a lot to think about. I hope this covered some of the basics and gave you an appreciation for the complexity of the combat. The more I explore the game mechanics the less I autoplay and the more I enjoy each fight.

Overall, to really understand when to use abilities and who to target with them you really have to understand the win condition of your team versus how the opponent wins. In most matchups you can disrupt the opponent’s win condition by killing the correct target or applying debuffs on particular characters.

There is a lot more that could be added about each of these status effects, so feel free to let me know your tips, tricks, and exceptions.

Section 8 - Previous Guides

Beginner’s Guide - 

Beginner’s Guide for Farming Legendary Characters - 

 



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