Old Cynic’s Christmas Special 2023

Christmas is back again! Seemingly quicker to return than a yo-yo on a string. And it’s Gifts that people want, things that have been cocooned in colourful paper and stacked under a slightly bemused but provocatively dolled-up, conifer tree.

And on that fateful morning, they discard the wrapping in haste only to inwardly sigh, slightly aggravated by the fact that the expensive item within is not, in fact, Merlin’s enchanted Crystal Ball or an ancient artefact granting 3 wishes.

But instead, it will likely be socks, albeit, colourful ones.

Or books, promising a magical journey to those patient enough to bother.

Or maybe even technology, -ideally a gaming device capable of getting that dopamine-releasing pleasure reward cycle going.

Which leads me neatly onto Empires and Puzzles! 😁 I’m good, right? Not trying to smell my own farts or nothing, but that was top-notch segueing, right?

Alright, alright… You’ve bumped into the Old Cynic’s Christmas Special where I get to show the world just how far I can digress from the point at hand, while still managing to find my way back home.

Here’s the agenda:

AGENDA (Empires and Puzzle at Christmas)
1. Empires and Puzzles 2023 In Review
2. Countdown of the Best HOTM from 2023 (FB poll)
3. The Best Overall Hero in 2023
4. Merry Christmas!

This post may contain speculation, personal opinion, adult comedy, and human error. It is not advice and is solely for entertainment and informational purposes.

Graphic with words, 2023 Empires and Puzzles

Old Cynic’s: Empires and Puzzles 2023 Review

2023 was such a busy year for E&P staff that many are still listed as missing following family reports.

It’s rumoured that E&P Head Quarters have been pumping out sooo many Heroes due to secret plans to launch their very own cryptocurrency based on them.

I imagine E&P put an Energy Drink dispenser on every floor, and that their quarterly seminars end with a Motivational Speaker encouraging staff to “manifest their success”.

And I’ve got it on good authority that when deciding how many pop-up promos a user gets to see on entering the game, the Devs went with, “yes”, which was also their answer for, how large should the promos be.

Just jokes! Peace, man, I come in peace.

Looking back at 2023, it’s fair to say that the power structure at the top of Empires and Puzzles has become more centralized.

Monster Heroes like Sha Wujing, Luna, and Gestalt have paved the way for total dominance, but to be fair, we’ve also had one of the best HotM ever, in Roughian & Nurgib.

And I’m still loving the old stuff, especially Tournaments and Wars.

The game at its core hasn’t changed much, but it’s true that the Heroes at the top are stronger and much more complex than we’ve ever seen before.

Best HotM 2023 (Empires and Puzzles)

Unlike last year, this year I’m gonna countdown The Best Heroes of the Month based on my Facebook Poll.

Let’s dive straight in!

3rd Place 🥉 Neema (November)
— 19 Votes —

Neema Empires and Puzzles Hero Card Small

I met Neema for the first time in the recent Rush Tournament and found her to be quite annoying. -She really looked the part.

Especially as I wasn’t paying attention going in and didn’t remove Ludwig or make any accommodations.

Congrats if you got her!

Old Cynic’s Hero Grade: Deity★★

2nd Place 🥈 Ithar (August)
— 23 Votes —

Ithar Empires and Puzzles Hero Card

Wow, this is embarrassing! We definitely see Ithar in different ways. Although admittedly, I could’ve been more charitable in my assessment.

Ithar never worked with my roster but I appreciate she was a better fit for many of you.

And that’s the great thing about a poll; the majority view gets the final say.

Old Cynic’s Hero Grade: Warrior

1st Place 🥇 Roughian & Nurgib (January)
— 76 Votes —

Roughian & Nurgib Empires and Puzzles Hero Card

Roughian & Nurgib won this poll by a wide margin. In fact, when I first launched the poll I worded it as:

“Who was the best HotM in 2023”

…and everybody just voted for R&N and no one else.

Roughian & Nurgib is a class act, universally accepted as by far the best HotM in 2023.

There’s even some merit to suggest that her appeal extends beyond the “consolation prize” domain and into the “must have” sector.

Old Cynic’s Hero Grade: Deity★★

Here’s the rest of the poll:

4. Areax (11 votes)
5. Cinisia (6 votes)
6. Uthragan (5 votes)
7. Viselus (3 votes)
8. Skargremar (3 votes)
9. Turgruk (2 votes)
10. Leadria (1 vote)
11. Suzuna (1 vote)
12. Gilligan (-)

Image of the Old Cynic with a snowy Christmas background farm

The Best Hero of 2023 (Empires and Puzzles)

I asked the Think Tank who they thought was the Best Overall Hero of 2023 and I got a few suggestions…

One member suggested Sha Wujing and Hurricane, both outstanding Heroes:

Another suggested Brimstone, the HP melting machine:

Brimstone Empires and Puzzles Hero Card

Another offered Luna and Sha Wujing on Defense (in that order), with Ghealach and Brimstone as considerations for the other top spots, with a nod to the ridiculous power of Hurricane.

Luna Empires and Puzzles Hero Card Small

For me? I thought Luna was exceedingly annoying to face (her slow tedious animation was part of it), and Xiamara was a monster to test in Beta.

But after a lot of consideration, I’d actually have to go all the way back to January and pick Guardian Hippo.

Guardian Hippo Empires and Puzzles Hero Card

She might not be the best Hero of 2023 but her mechanism is probably my favourite.

Hippo is such an easy yet rewarding Hero to build around.

Well, what do you think? Who was The Best Hero of 2023?

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

Empires and Puzzles Christmas Special 2023

Well, there you have it, another year in the books.

I hope you enjoyed the read and the year that was.

I’ll hopefully be bringing you another post just before 2024 but until then…

Merry Christmas!

And if I miss you, Happy New Year!

[Please always check in-game Hero Cards to confirm details and never chase Heroes]



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Copyright: oldcynic.com
Images used by way of review/tutorial – Copyright owned by Empires & Puzzles: Small Giant Games

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24 Comments

  1. Thank you! Nice summary!
    I also enjoyed the League, which I hope returns soon!
    This year for me made a jump up from an alliance far down in the system (3000 / 5000) to a top 50 / 100 alliance, which has been great fun.

    Best of luck to all!

  2. Like Tobov before me, I really enjoyed the League and hope to see it return soon.
    I was very pleased to see both Roughian&Nurgib and Brimstone making your favourites of the year. Combined on a team they are monstrous but (for me) great fun.
    I have finally found a team to be in that strikes the right balance between being serious and not caring, there are no prima donna’s and we share tips and information so that has really helped my enjoyment of the game.

    Thank you for all the reviews, have a great Christmas and I look forward to your output in the New Year.

  3. Nice review, and I’m happy that I have one or two of those heroes in my roster! R&N are by far one of my favorites, and it’s just a matter of time before I get a couple more of your list’s strong contenders up and running. I’m still doing that “mix and match” hero thing, trying to find magic team synergy, for which your reviews really help. (For example, I had Kalo sitting in my roster, untouched, for a VERY long time until I read about him here and realized what I had. He’s still in development, as without the LB he is squishy, and green aethers don’t seem to fall into my hands often.)

    Not being an uber strong, high end player, I didn’t get as much from League competition as others did (even though I made it through all the rounds, the rewards, such as they were, did not make it worthwhile for time, effort, and nail chewing, so I gave the second one a skip). Thanks much, have a Merry and Happy Christmas!

    1. Thank you for reading, Khyzarran. Mix-Matching is the way to go, the great thing about this game is that it’s endless in that sense.

      I’m glad I could help. Merry Christmas!

      1. You deserve it, mate.

        Perhaps the community was trolling you voting Ithar? It is a possiblity.

        Also, I noticed you graded Cookie as Deity… Can you elaborate please?

        Have a nice holiday season, OC

        1. After the little early mana reduction he could really steal the show. The lower grade is to reflect the long wait in a very fast meta.

          I always try and think about the newer player without many options, to that player I think Cookie could be awesome. But there are lots of better options.

          What do you think?

          Thanks Mig-El!

          1. I was going to level him up anyway, I cannot afford disregard heroes, but since it takes too long to make an impact I would have not considered more than an Archangel. It was a surprise see the good grade you gave him.
            I hope you are right and I am wrong.

  4. I have a monster that you did not consider that single-handedly swats down 5500+ teams and laughs when they hut back. Behold: the might of a fully 2lb Cartoon Vivica!

    Stats: ATK 1247 DEF 1264 HP 2841 (is that even allowed?!?l), Overall 1334.

    Abilities at slow: Heals all 54%, Defense up all 45% 4 turns. But with Holy? Add another 2 turns and make it uncleanseable. That reminds me – let’s cleanse all while we are at it.

    Oh, and the best is yet to come: the toon family passive. A ridiculous 75% independent chance to resist status ailments, mana reductions, and buff dispels.

    By the way, that lovely classic family bonus still applies. Tack on another 1/3/5/7% ATK/DEF/HP for 2/3/4/5 classic heroes on field at once. Hmm. 5% of 2841 is another 142, say? Yeah. All -I- want for E&P Christmas is to pull more toon heroes. And maybe you should too…

    1. “2841” ~ crazy!

      You’re right, those Toons are monstrous. And the recent buff was nice, too. Thanks for sharing your fav, Merry Christmas Archangel!

  5. Thanks for another write-up. These things take some time to do, and I am always grateful for your views.

    I’m happy to have pulled Neema, Ithar and R&N this year. R&N is already LB2 and serves as my “enemy erase button” on my attack/solo teams, and both Ithar and Neema will keep me busy with good heroes to build for some time. Areax placing 4th is a surprise, but I think her being a free Ice equivalent of Khufu has something to do with it. I also got Skargremar, and while I didn’t have a strong impression of him at first, I do appreciate having a 5* multi-hit mana-cutter, which my fire roster lacks. I see him as an upgraded C. Azar – the stats are not fantastic, but that multi-hit mana cut has made an outcome difference in some PvP battles. It’s a bit unfortunate that Suzuna and Gilligan place at the bottom of the polls, but it’s not surprising either – both of them are not outright terrible, but they live and die on certain limitations (Suzuna being only a multi instead of team healer/buffer, and Gilligan being Slow and having a powerful but somewhat situational buffer).

    There’s not much I can comment on regarding the premium summon heroes, but having met Brimstone in a Hero League battle, my initial good impression of its skillset is more than justified. Moving forward, I think I will save any Covenant Coins I get until those periods where Brimstone appears as a featured hero (ideally with Haulstone).

    I had a run-in with G. Hippo in Hero League once, and I must say, I felt like Count Dooku when he faced Obi-Wan on Geonosis, since I also hold her in high esteem. The reason for this is because I controlled the timing when her allies fired their skills, then destroyed them before I got to her, so she basically spent the entire battle spamming a harmless skill until I rearranged the board enough to kill her. Even my run-ins with Balur didn’t end as badly because he at least does something directly when he fires his special.

    Considering how badly G. Hippo fared when I went against her, and my own more favourable perception of heroes that the wider community does not seem to view as favourably, I do not consider any hero in 2023 to be the best, despite there being some very clear favourites (e.g. Haulstone, until something rounder comes along). At a fundamental level, battles still live and die on board RNG, and until that changes or I get a better roster, I find it pointless for me to consider any hero to be the best or worst (although I still marvel at every new hero’s ability to [not] suck).

    1. Thanks Nortaneous! I got Skargremar, too and he’s not that bad. -Actually a decent Red for Defense. He’s doing a lot and the 30% miss is quite good. Suzuna, too. A budget option against the right team.

      I think when I mention Hippo, as with last year, I’m more picking the hero I thought was the most fun or the most original while still being impactful, which is why I offered the Think Tank’s wise choices before I ruined it. But I agree, Hippo won’t win strongest hero of the year in any serious poll.

      “I find it pointless for me to consider any hero to be the best or worst” ~ Imv, there were many more top-end Heroes this year and it becomes a struggle to put the OPs into a pecking order. Much easier to bunch them together in a class, like, “super strong”… or “Deity: Tier 3”!

      Have a great Christmas Nortaneous, thanks for the support!

  6. I would vote Luna, as the most annoying on defence for sure – and probably my overall pick for 2023 hero. I don’t find Hippo very threatening and he must be combined with another good defensive heroes. Brimstone is though, but somehow is not an issue for me. Hurricane and Sha both are formidable.

    What about Quinn, Starwalker, Christine Dae?

    I do agree with you also on Xiamara – she is a beat on attack. And also I do agree with you on Aradia – I remember you rated her first as ** deity and I agree that is her actual raiting and not ***. I have been using her extensively – and sometimes she absolutely awesome and sometimes she feels quite useless… 🙂

    1. Whoa:

      “I remember you rated her first as ** deity and I agree that is her actual raiting and not ***.” ~ shocking stuff! 😁 Too late now!

      “What about Quinn, Starwalker, Christine Dae?” ~ No, in fairness, the Best Hero of the Year section is just food for thought. However, the Best HotM was based on an actual poll.

      There were so many strong Heroes in 2023, and you have to also consider the power creep which is covering ground like a steam train at the mo. But thank you for the submissions!

      Using Xiamara is like having something very big, slap something very small.

      Merry Christmas, Bangpūtys!

  7. Merry Christmas OC!

    I hope that your avatar is the only one who has to add that sweater! I have been conducting my own poll and wanted to share the results. The question I posed, Do I Love OC’s blog More for the content or the sense of humor and style. It was close. I voted for each option millions of times. As time expired and the poll was about to close, I cast my final vote for the latter.

    Thanks for another fabulous post. I wish you could do more of them, but we are all only human or mostly human. May your summoning luck be blessed by your wit and charm this holidays. Ciao!

    1. Hey Gabrielle!

      That sweater took a long time to make which is why I now wear it proudly every Christmas! I actually prefer the Die Hard V-neck style 80’s jumper, but that’s a bit bland for this site.

      I’ve never had a poll conducted about me that wasn’t my line-management voting on whether to terminate my contract or not, so your poll is warmly welcomed (tho does have me blushing!).

      I’m so glad that you like my blog and humour, that makes one.

      Thank you so much for all your support and please have a very Merry Christmas! 🎄☃️

  8. New thread because it is a different topic.
    Don’t you think we had a better year of HOTM in 2023. I think Gilligan is perhaps the worst one, but it is still decent and some mates in my alliance use him.
    Last year we had rubbish like Klaern or Balur and in general, the average was lower.

    Or am I completely wrong?

    1. Yes, and part of that for me is the power creep; newer HotMs are just stronger.

      2023 HOTMs:
      Leadria (Dec)
      Neema (Nov)
      Uthragan (Oct)
      Areax (Sep)
      Ithar (Aug)
      Cinisia (Jul)
      Skargremar (Jun)
      Suzuna (May)
      Turgruk (Apr)
      Gilligan (Mar)
      Viselus (Feb)
      Roughian & Nurgib (Jan)

      Some decent to great options, and all of them have some edge or skill to bring as you say.

      Looking back to last year and I wish I had Kara!

      1. I agree! A much better crop. Interested to see what their family bonus is. Unfortunately for me I had horrible luck in pulling them. I didn’t get roghian or Neema, but got 5 of the blue horse, and 1 or more of most others. Everything but the best!

        OC, looking forward to your hopost about the sole exchange when it opens up next week. If the leaked hero list is to be trusted i’m definitely taking Nor for 10. Kidding, like the dark gargoyle a lot. Also the green Bard hero as I don’t have a legendary of those, but she is slow. Might have to finally give in to my roster imbalance and take a healer. Garnet is still decent. The costumed fire Halloween hero heals too?

        We’ll see..

        Take good care fellas!

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