Sun Wukong is Still Bad

The reveal from the 3rd anniversary event that interested me second most was the Sun Wukong uevo. In the past I’ve mentioned in passing why Sun Wukong is bad, but I’ve never gone over it in detail. Now that all the Heroes have uevos I feel it’s a good time to discuss why.

I’d like to get this out of the way: Sun Wukong isn’t bad per say, but in PAD everything is relative and he’s unspectacular compared to his Hero brethren. Is it his stats? Nope. Well, not entirely, especially now that his uevo is amazing. It’s almost entirely due to his sub pool. I will attempt to cover where his weaknesses lie and why he’s a poor choice to raise a team for if you’re only looking for the most powerful team.

The Heroes’ leader skill requires at least 8 orbs of a single element in order to activate their 4x ATK multiplier. Therefore their modus operandi is using orb changers to augment skyfall RNG to consistently reach that 8-orb threshold. This damage can be enhanced through row enhances as rows and the Heroes’ leader skills have a natural overlap. The synergy between these two damage multipliers is so potent that damage enhancement actives like orb enhance or straight multipliers can be eschewed for an entire lineup of orb changers, further increasing consistency and damage output.

Light row support is the worst in the game. I did a quick count using PDX’s awoken skill page:

Monster Count by Element with N or More Rows

Main Elem. 1 2 3
Fire 69 15 1
Water 52 14 1
Wood 55 12 0
Light 49 11 1
Dark 51 17 1
These numbers were gathered using PDX’s awoken skill page. There may be some errors due to hand counting. This only counts monsters at the endpoints of evo trees. This means evo and uevo Hanzo would only be counted once, but FA Lucifer’s two uevos would be counted twice.

The disparity isn’t as large as one would think based on my argument, but light’s lack of of breadth certainly exists and can only be seen as a negative. This doesn’t take monster quality into consideration, though.

The other ideal quality of a Hero sub is an orb change active. Here are the orb changers by element:

Orb Change Monster Count by Element

Orb Change Type
Main Elem. 1:1 2:2 2:1 3-color 2-color 1-color
Fire 16 4 3 4 2 1
Water 12 7 2 5 1 1
Wood 14 5 5 5 3 2
Light 11 6 2 2 0 0
Dark 10 2 1 3 0 0
These numbers were gathered using PDX’s monster book. There may be some errors due to hand counting. Heartbreaker and conversion from special blocks like jammers and poison are ignored. 2:2 and 2:1 changers that include special blocks are shifted to 1:1.

In this respect, dark and light are lagging behind, another knock on light. Once again, this doesn’t tell the whole story as it doesn’t take monster quality into account. Using orb change monsters that also have row enhances — what I’d consider a quality Hero sub — the count can be narrowed to the following:

Orb Change Monster Count by Element with At Least One Row

Orb Change Type
Main Elem. 1:1 2:2 2:1 3-color 2-color 1-color
Fire 9 4 3 2 2 0
Water 4 4 2 2 1 1
Wood 4 4 4 3 3 1
Light 3 4 0 2 0 0
Dark 4 2 0 2 0 0
These numbers were gathered using PDX’s monster book.

Considering the data so far both light and dark appear inferior to the other elements with dark being worse than light. However, dark is generally considered one of, if not the best row element. Investigating why this is the case will further reveal why light is inferior.

The disparity can be easily summed up by how quickly a team can consistently reach a critical mass of on-color orbs. Tanking is not a Hero team’s strong suit, so the sooner that critical mass can be reached the better. The easiest way to obtain this is a 2-color board change, but those don’t satisfy the quick part of the equation as they are normally on a 15-turn cooldown (although their use does become realistic with a uevo Yamato Takeru). The next most obvious choice would be a 2:1 orb changer. These are great monsters — specifically Apollo and Persephone for light and dark — but they have no row awakenings. This leaves the tried and true 3-color board change.

On average a 3-color board change will give 10 on-color orbs, enough to activate a Hero’s 4x, but that’s far from what can be considered a critical mass. This is where a complementary 1:1 orb change comes into play. This combination will give 20 on-color orbs on average which is enough to hit 4x while making two rows. The following is a list of such combinations that I think are the best for each element:

Best Mass Orb Change Combinations by Element

Elem. Board Changer Orb Changer Cooldowns Rows
Fire 1263 - Divine Harbinger Suzaku, LeilanFire Wood Light 1191 -  Blazing Shrine Maiden, ChiyomeLight to Fire 9, 5 Enhanced Fire Att. Enhanced Fire Att.
Water 1265 - Ethereal Guardian Seiryuu, KarinWater Wood Dark 1192 - Blue Wind Ninja Princess, HatsumeDark to Water 9, 5 Enhanced Water Att. Enhanced Water Att.
Wood 1629 - Chivalric Demon Prince, CauchemarFire Wood Dark 1260 -  Pure Demon Lord, AstarothFire to Wood 12, 7 Enhanced Wood Att. Enhanced Wood Att. Enhanced Wood Att.
Light 1676 -  Last Son of Krypton, SupermanFire Water Light 1261 - Haughty Demon Lord, BaalWater to Light 9, 8 Enhanced Light Att. Enhanced Light Att. Enhanced Light Att.
Light 1360 - Destroyer Dragon, Apocalypse Light Dark Heart 1289 - Patricia & ValkyrieHeart to Light 11*, 5 Enhanced Light Att. Enhanced Light Att.
Dark 1269 - Banishing Claw Byakko, HakuFire Water Dark 1195 - Moonlit Shadow, Hattori HanzoFire to Dark 9, 5 Enhanced Dark Att. Enhanced Dark Att. Enhanced Dark Att.
*Apocalypse’s cooldown is being reduced to 10 turns.

The combination of a 9-turn 3-color board change with a 5-turn 1:1 orb change is optimal for cooldowns. Both wood and light don’t have such a combination and are considered inferior because of it. Dark has the biggest advantage since its combination boasts 3 on-color rows. This is one of the reasons why dark is not only the best Hero color, but arguably the best row color overall.

It’s important to pair a 5-turn orb change with a 9-turn mass orb change due to the general structure of a dungeon. Many descends are 5 to 7 floors long which means 5 skills boosts will enable the use of a 5-turn orb change early on, then have both it and a 9-turn mass orb change ready by the last floor for burst. There are certainly other ways to replicate this power, but Haku and Hanzo have set the bar so high that the other colors can only field poor imitations.

At the highest level, wood and light are lagging behind, but wood still has an edge on light.

  • Valkyrie Imbalance – Sadly, light got the huge shaft since their member of the Valkyrie cycle is inferior to her sisters in almost every way. A heartbreaker is always a good thing to have on a Heroes team as their orb changes work well together. While Valkyrie Rose’s lack of a row isn’t a deal breaker, it puts a lot of pressure on the rest of your team to find enough damage. There is a LValk version with a row in the PAD BT collab, but it’s unlikely NA will see it at this point.
  • Sibling Rivalry – While light is generally considered a better element than wood due to having no elemental weakness, in this case Artemis blows Apollo out of the water as a Hero sub. That single row means everything. Two of light’s best orb changers lacking rows is a huge blow to Wukong.
  • 2-Color Board Changers – While it’s unlikely that an optimal Heroes team will use a slow, 2-color board changer, that fact remains that wood has a great selection and light has none.

In the big picture, the differences between the colors may seem like nitpicks, but that doesn’t prevent there being a hierarchy. There are plenty of ways to reach the requirements to field a descend-worthy Hero team, but at the highest level dark reigns supreme and light is the worst, though not far behind.

The Wukong and Venus uevos go a long way toward alleviating light’s row woes, but is it enough? Consider a team of Wukong / LValk / Fuma Kotaro / Apollo / Venus / Wukong. That adds up to 8 rows which is quite good even if the synergy is a bit lacking. Before these uevos having both LValk and Apollo on the same team would’ve been impossible as you could only reach about 5 rows. Wukong’s extra skill boosts also make Apocalypse a more viable option as the extra turns on this active won’t hurt as much. A lot of good has happened for Wukong teams from two simple updates. It will only take one or two more before light fully catches or surpasses the others.

For those curious, here is how I’d rank the Heroes based on their ideal teams and utility subs:

  1. Pandora – Andromeda dethroned her for a while before her uevo came out, but I think it’s safe to say Pandora is once again king. I’m still tempted to say Andromeda is just as good due to water’s utility subs and more dark hate being added to the latest dungeons, but Pandora getting an extra row and skill boost makes her one of the best leaders (and subs) in the game. Oh yeah, and Haku. Can’t forget Haku.
  2. Andromeda – Two collab-only monsters give water teams a huge advantage: You and Baggi Cat. Baggi Cat in particular allows Andromeda to do a decent RSonia impression and You can provide damage reduction and a mass orb change when Baggi Cat’s active is down for that one turn. Sadly, NA will likely never get these two so Andromeda is a solid second rather than right on Pandora’s heels.
  3. Yamato Takeru – YT’s 3 skills boosts shouldn’t be underestimated. While YT didn’t get a second row, fire is the best equipped to overcome this. You can run subs of ROdin / RSonia / RSonia / RSonia and have 8 rows and 15 skill boosts, allowing you to use RSonia on the first turn.
  4. Perseus – Considering wood’s lack of an elite Hero sub, I’m surprised Perseus didn’t get a second row and Pandora did. Wood did need the extra skill bind resist, but he would’ve been better served getting the same awakenings as Andromeda.
  5. Sun Wukong – Light is still the runt when it comes to rows, but the gap is much smaller now. All it will take is another high tier sub to vault Sun Wukong over some of his siblings; it’s arguable that Wukong is already better than Perseus. Light will always have its elemental advantage without nearly as much hate as dark has been getting recently.