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Card Ratings: the Heroes

Other Card Ratings posts:
The Starter Decks
The Spells
Tech I - coming soon
Tech II - coming eventually
Tech III

Heroes (not the entire spec, just the contribution made by the hero card on its own):

One of the key values a Hero provides is giving you a way to spend gold to impact the board, without using any cards. For stand-alone Hero power, I will assume that you have not teched any of that hero’s spells, and have no plans to in the future. Any “survivability” value will be reflected in grading the individual spells, where having a flimsy hero will impair the grades for that hero’s spells.

Grading Scale:

A – Superior. Has a significant effect on the game. Stats are at or above average. Impactful at all stages of the game. All abilities and stats are efficiently costed. Special mention for having an immediate impact on the board the turn they are summoned. Examples: Grave, Zane

B – Above Average. Has efficient stats, and some immediate impact, but perhaps only when raised to max level. Impactful in the early stages of the game, and doesn’t lose too much value going late, or vice versa. Examples: Onimaru, Garth

C – Average. Gives you reasonable stats, at a reasonable cost (baseline is being a 2/3 at level 1 and a 3/4 at level 5). Has a minor immediate impact when played or raised to max-band. Has a strong impact on the board in the early or late game, but not both. Examples: Setsuki, Geiger

D – Below Average. Too expensive for the stats provided. Abilities are niche or not impactful. No immediate impact. Examples: Jaina, Prynn

F – Unplayable. Even if you have this Hero available, you would never summon it, because the Level 1 body isn’t worth giving your opponent 2 free gold, and it isn’t worth the gold to level him up. Example (and sole hero to get this grade): Troq

? – Build around. Not worth it for the stats alone, but with the right supporting cast of units, could be an A or B quality card. Note that this still assumes you are not teching any spells for the hero. Examples: Quince, River


River Montoya – ? River has average stats, and low cost, and can serve as a fine filler play. Her abilities are lackluster, as sidelining is only rarely useful, and her max-band doesn’t provide significant payoff in most situations. However, in a hyper aggressive low-tech build her powers can provide significant bonuses, helping you compete with opponents who are teching up, and let you force through base damage. Also part of a combo with Smoker and Drill Sergeant / Blooming Ancient to generate unlimited +1/+1 runes, or the less pie-in-the-sky combo of Garrison + playing tech 0 units for less.

Troq Bashar – F Troq has average stats, with the option to “go big.” Unfortunately, he has no significant abilities, and the 5 & 8 level-up curve isn’t worth the gold without some additional benefit.


Zane – A. Zane is smaller than most other heros until his max-band, but his immediate impact is unmatched. Being able to add a hasty 2/2 or 4/4 (plus effectively 2 direct damage if you push away a Squad Leader) to the board is something your opponent has to keep in mind the whole game, and even then he will give you a reasonable rate for card-free damage. That’s not even mentioning his mid-band that usually gives you 2 gold and/or cards before Zane dies.

Drakk – A-. Drakk has awful stats, but some of the best abilities in the game. +1 ATK to all your attackers will usually let you break through any patrol zone, and giving any unit Haste is crushing.

Jaina – D. Jaina has weak stats, and expensive leveling for those weak stats. The only hero who never gets above 3 hp leaves her vulnerable at all stages of the game. Her max-band is strong, but again more expensive than is usually worth it.


Midori – B+. Midori has standard large hero stats, but being able to fly (albeit only on offense) makes him a substantial threat that must be answered, especially when backed by the Green or Neutral starter and a potential +1/+1 rune. In addition, his mid-band makes it easier to defend him – promoting tech 0 units to 2 cost 3/3s, and making tokens of all stripes just a little bit better.

Calamadra – A-. There is no better early game hero, combining the best stat line in the game with the ability to apply those stats at will, and a built-in way to recover from card and tech disadvantage with Tigers. Late game, however, her board impact is limited, and her abilities are lackluster.

Argagarg – C+. A poor combatant in himself, maxing Arg still contributes 4 attack and 9 defense split over 3 bodies, one of which has anti-air, for the bargain price of 6 gold. This is a reasonable card-free investment that can compete with the best of Tech I, but is outclassed once Tech II cards start arriving. A fine use of gold, but not anything your opponent will have to play around.


Vandy – A. Vandy is tied with Calamadra for best raw stats. Like Cal, she can make up for a card loss with her exhaust ability, and her inherent resistance makes it just a little bit harder to get her off the board. Her ultimate is easily controlled, and often gets a significant attack through immediately. However, her late game potential is limited to being an efficient body. Fetching Dark Pacts, Soul Stones, and even sometimes Metamorphosis gives Vandy continued relevance into the late game.

Garth – B. Garth has below average stats at any cost level, but makes up for it by generating extra Skeletal blockers at an affordable rate. He also lets you regulate your Tech II access by guaranteeing you access to the Tech II unit of your choice as soon as you start a turn with a completed Tech II (and bringing along a 3/4 hero as a bonus).

Orpal – C+ Orpal is slightly smaller than most heroes in raw stats, but dealing damage as -1/-1 runes makes up for it by helping your other attackers survive. He also provides a moderate amount of immediate board impact if supported by disposable units and leveled up, but the overall package is just ok, not anything special.


Bigsby – C. Bigsby brings average small end stats, and generally applicable mid and max band abilities. He gets bonus points for helping regulate your draws – specifically, you can bring in two Tech II cards on turn 3, planning to build your Tech II on turn 4, and if you happen to draw one of them on turn 4, play Bigsby to reserve it.

Onimaru – B. Onimaru has the largest stats of any hero – the +1 ATK means he wins fights against any similarly leveled hero. He does have the 5 & 8 leveling costs, which diminishes his ability to heal, but he can still reach the critical 4 attack threshold at level 5. Combined with a very strong max-band that is worth triggering from ahead or behind, and you have a very solid choice. Fun note: the Peace strategy is building destruction, and the Peace hero is the only one who can destroy a tech building by himself.

Quince – ?. Quince levels quickly and builds up a lot of HP, but like Arg he doesn’t have much board impact from himself. Unlike Arg, Quince can single-handedly dominate the game, given the right units on your side (or your opponents). Quince particularly likes units with Haste, or with high attack/low hp, since the Mirrors are inherently fragile.


Prynn – D. Prynn has horrible stats (only slightly better than Drakk or Garth), but also lacks any sort of useful abilities at start or mid-band. She is saved from an F grade by having a hugely impactful max band ability, making her an excellent late-game spell.

Geiger – C. Geiger is incredibly average. He’s got basic small-range combat stats, a max-band that has moderate and affordable impact, and scales through the late game, remaining moderate throughout.

Vir – C-. Draw manipulation that is slightly worse than Bigby, with slightly worse stats than him. At the top end, you get an extra HP over the average, and a large (if delayed) body. Overall not a hero you want to be playing early, but works well in the midgame to provide some support heading into the late game. This narrow window of viability earns Vir his below average grade.


Grave – A. Grave reaches the 3/4 level cheaper than most, and has Readiness plus Sparkshot in an affordable body. Then he comes with an option to pay 4 gold and exhaust to buy a Doom Grasp, which is the best spell to have on-demand. Late game, he can be a proactive answer to some Tech III options, and reaches 4/5 for less than most heroes who reach that stat line.

Setsuki – C. Defensively, Setsuki does little to protect your other cards and buildings, with her below average stats. Offensively, Setsuki is again under-statted, and swift strike only matters if you can kill something with it (which you can often do, but only in conjunction with another attack). This makes her roughly equivalent to an Arg mid-band that has more +ATK and no +Armor. Her max band, assuming you can play the cards you draw, is one of the most potent in the game, but if your tech buildings are knocked out, spamming Tech 0 units is not going to get the job done.

Rook – B+. Rook has the best Level 1 stats in the game, and the most resilience of any hero (albeit at a high cost). Played early, he’s a brick wall. Played late with immediate max-band he’s a stone wall (barring specific anti-hero spells from the opponent). Rook is a one-dimensional hero, but he’s the best at what he does.

Reminder before you go posting comments: these ratings assume that you are not, and will not, tech any of the hero’s spells (presumably because you are using your tech slots for something else).

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This is a strange thing to rate. It’s like rating every Street Fighter character’s standing fierce punch “assuming you won’t use any of their other moves.” Such a rating could certainly be made, but it seems like more of a joke thing because the assumption doesn’t have any practical value.

Btw, Troq is very much worth leveling up in Bashing vs Finesse. (Not to mention his absurd ultimate in any matchup, which we are somehow not allowed to consider?) And Jaina has dominated enough board states that I don’t really understand a D grade. Same with Prynn, a scary hero because of Undo alone, but we aren’t allowed consider that? It seems we aren’t allowed to consider highly relevant factors that matter in any actual game of Codex played.


I think the valuation on everything, this thread and its compatriots, is an exercise in considering how to best use individual cards. If you have not prepared for the current turn by teching spells for a given hero, how valuable are each of the heroes at advancing the board state? Or put another way, if what I need right now is a hero to help advance the board state, how good are the heroes themselves at doing that? Garth and Vandy can come out of nowhere and have a lot of impact. Rook can show up and be a near impenetrable wall.

Point is valuation is situational, but it is good practice to evaluate and theorycraft the rankings of things so that during the game you can see what plays might be better than others.

It seems like it would make a whole lot more sense, if you’re going to rate the different heroes, to at least incorporate their spells into the ratings. I mean, the spells are pretty closely tied to the heroes gameplay-wise, and rating them without the spells makes it feel like you’re playing Heroes Are Units.

That all said, it’s certainly a relatively interesting bit of theorycrafting going on here, even if it’s a bit unnecessarily narrowed down in sort of a weird way. ; )

This information could be useful to know for when you are in a tight spot, I do feel like the title is a little misleadin, however.

I think this will be less misleading when the Spell Ratings thread is done and can be linked to from the respective heroes cards.

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I thought the spells were being included in these ratings? Or is Vandy an exception there with all her spell references?

See this quote from the OP:

Vandy is a special exception, because her mid-band lets her fetch spells from your Codex.


Well given codex lets you build decks it can be a useful tool to quickly evaluate the power of a specs hero.

If my main gameplan is necro but I don’t want Orpal and am considering specs that are worth the gold penalty, it can be useful to know if playing their hero as just another creature is a good move, or if i’ll need to invest more.

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This post was flagged by the community and is temporarily hidden.


It should also be noted that a hero can fill more than 1 type at a time. Someone like Rook can easily be casting Entanling Vines and Bird’s Nest while beating face. Grave can level quickly and then hold board position at max band. And Sets can hit max band and sit there putting cards into your hand and twiddling her thumbs.

I think it’s totally fair to rate heroes without spells. The spell rating page is where you go look for the ‘total package’, so to speak, because you have to have the hero to use the spell.

Some heroes you play for the body. Some you play for the spells. The best ones have great spells they can use while leveraging great stats.

Not sure how this got flagged, but it is a very good point and I think very relevant.

I do think the title is a bit misleading, making it seem like the heroes are being rated overall, when in fact they are only rating one specific element of the hero. This is especially an issue when the ratings for the other cards are more general and not just rating specific elements of them.

I’m surprised at the number of people who were confused by this. Perhaps it stems from the slang of naming specs by referencing the hero?

Every spec is made up of 4 quite distinct parts, as measured by the amount of commitment needed to utilize them:

  1. The hero card - usable at a moment’s notice
  2. Tech 1 cards - just select them from your codex
  3. Spells - select them from your codex, and summon the appropriate hero
  4. Tech 2 + 3 cards - name the spec with your tech 2 building or tech lab, and select them from your codex.

The whole point of this analysis is to dissect each spec, and compare its components against the equivalent ones of other specs. What anyone does with that analysis is up to them.

Yeah. I think the biggest thing is the nature of it being a rating. I can understand the confusion - you have to be very, very, very explicit that you are rating one thing and one thing only. Otherwise it’s only natural to be clicking through the various card ratings and then come upon the heroes and think it’s the same as the others.

Isn’t evaluating heroes without considering the context of their spells kind of silly? Like, this seems like it might be a fun intellectual exercise, but it also seems liable to devolve into semantics. And even if by some miracle everyone can agree on what the different ratings mean, knowledge of those rankings doesn’t very useful when trying to improve at Codex.

For example, the fact that Prynn is rated D doesn’t contain much useful information- it clearly doesn’t mean that one should be unwilling to include Prynn in one’s deck or even summon her in the early part of the game. A huge part of her power level is her access to strong spells.

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Your last sentence answers the question in your first sentence.

It’s helpful to think about the role different cards could play in your gameplan, and knowing that the Prynn card is going to do less than, say, Bigsby helps make decisions about which heroes to pick or play.

Also, the point of these general guides and ratings is to help people improve from 0 to basic knowledge faster, and I think they are really helpful in that regard.

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I know it’s a long time later, but read loveandhugs oddly flagged comment. It explains the thought process extremely well and gives a very valuable new way to look at heroes that I think will be very important for good play. Knowing how and when to use a hero as a card free unit essentially rather than as an enabler to make a certain strategy or deck work.