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Plug and Play: The End of Metas and the Rise of the Meta Character

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While players around the globe were agonizing over the newly released heroic AAT raid last Fall, the Capital Games SWGOH crew was wrapping up a character rework for everybody’s favorite dud character, Boba Fett.

Boba was a character that a lot of work had already gone into.  The animation for his special Death from Above has always been uniquely involved, fiery, and just plain cool.  Animators nailed the overall look of the mercenary fan favorite from the beginning of the game.  But he was a squishy character, lacking in strong team-wide synergies like the Wedge-led Rebel healing meta of the day, he was relatively low damage and was basically used as a one trick ability block pony on a limited basis by a few die hard fans.

After the rework things changed quickly for Boba, mainly in arena.  According to SWGOH.gg around half of all top ten arena teams utilize Boba in some manner now.  He is consistently among the top two or three most popular SWGOH heros in the current elite arena landscape.  Crucially, however, no single team make up accounts for more than 6% of 1-10th place teams.  In other words, while Boba is everywhere he is not part of an “everywhere team.”  Boba and a few other players are meta players but not part of a meta team.  For current meta report stats be sure to check here.

So if we want to understand the difference between arena relevance and non-relevance in the game today for a specific player, the things we need to see from a character to make him or her truly elite, Boba’s rework should prove telling.   There’s a strong likelihood that the traits added to Boba in-game are the traits we ought to look for when we are theory crafting our own teams, whether or not we will actually use the bounty hunter himself.  Likewise, whatever weaknesses he had prior to the rework that remain should not be strategic priorities when theory crafting our own teams.  They probably do not matter.

tex-abilityui_passive_mandalorianThe first issue addressed was Boba’s relatively low health/protection: he was just too squishy.  The now infamous Bounty Hunter’s Resolve buff was a major change on this front.  Allowing for potentially unlimited revives as he starts the match with the buff and regains it any time he finishes off an opposing character along with 100% protection.  This has proven a modest but real improvement on defense where the AI does not manage kills strategically, however, a well executed victory on offense means Boba is usually alive and well by the end of things.

tex-ability_bobafett_special01Secondly, his Execute added a high damage single-target debuff to Boba’s arsenal.  With the growing list of debuff characters now found in high end arena matches, often times the damage this attack does proves more valuable then the debuff itself.  And with an excess 30% damage being done for each effect dispelled that can be a lot of damage.

To review, based on the rework that has made Boba relevant what we need in a character today for high end arena relevance is:

  1. The ability to stay alive for a bit thanks to adequate health/protection.
  2. A high damage option in their kit.

The Boba rework, however, also tells us something of what is not important in today’s high end arena environment.  As we alluded to earlier, the numbers suggest a strong team synergy is no longer necessary for arena dominance.  Couplet synergy like that of Chirrut and Baze is wisely evident but no trends currently exist of team-wide synergies as a factor in high end arena teams.tex-charui_maul  Indeed, with 35% of top ten arena teams using Darth Maul as a leader and climbing, one would think zeta Maul is leading mostly Sith teams, right?  Wrong.  Statistically, Maul and Emperor Palpatine are functioning more like a Chaze/Wiggs couplet, with the other spots on these high end teams more likely to go to non-Sith heroes.  Like Boba it seems Maul is more of a meta character, albeit one who functions well as a leader, but Maul does not seem to be bringing in a larger Sith meta team at this time.

So for the time being there are no meta teams, there are only meta characters. These characters do not rely on team synergies for their high-end arena relevance but rather on some basic heartiness and high damage per target attacks.  With the new Phoenix squadron on the horizon this could all change very soon, but for the mean time meta no longer means what it used to.

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