How to Set Up a Defense Team in Empires and Puzzles [2023]

Pin Image with words: How to build a Defense Team Empires and Puzzles

How do you set up (or build) a Defense Team in Empires and Puzzles? It’s a question I get asked a lot, so today I’m going to share my process.

It goes without saying, I don’t claim to be an expert. However, I feel I’ve been playing long enough, and have had enough exposure to varying views via this blog, to be able to construct this guide.

I’m going to be covering a lot of information here, and I hope it proves useful for both the new P2P players, who are seeking to build Top Tier Defenses, and also the new F2P/C2P players, who may find building Defense Teams especially challenging due to a lack of quality heroes and, in general, online guidance.

And finally, if you’re one of the large pool of experienced players who frequent this blog, you are invited and welcome to add your own thoughts/tips/contributions, to the comments below.

Before we start, please support me by sharing a link to this post, it really does help. Thank you!

Caveat: This post contains gameplay speculation and personal opinion. It may also contain adult comedy, sarcasm, and Human error. It is not advice and is solely for entertainment and informational purposes.

Why Doesn’t the Old Cynic Set Up Defense Teams on Request?

Setting up a strong Defense Team involves a lot of elements, all of which I’m about to cover in this post, and in short, I simply don’t have the time to build lots of teams. It’s just not reasonable for me to do.

Sure, I can pick out your best heroes. But as we’ll discover, a good Defense Team is about much more, -it’s about finding synergy.

If you’d like a vice-versa opinion on a couple of heroes, I’m happy to offer that. But if you want me to build a team for you, I’m going to refer you here!

I hope you understand.

I have long promised a post about building a Defense Team, and as my personality type hates letting folk down, here it is.

Related Reading

Before we get into the guide, it’s worth noting a number of other posts on this website which all add to the conversation. They explain many of the concepts which I’ll later touch on in this guide:

  1. The Ultimate Raid Strategy Guide – Concerning the methods used to win a battle
  2. The Complete Colour Stacking Guide – Concerning Team Stacking
  3. Empires and Puzzles Troops: A Complete Guide – A comprehensive guide to Troops. Guest contributor: David P.
  4. 1% Raid Tournament Guide – A comprehensive guide to building Defensive and Offensive Teams for Tournaments. Guest contributor: GamerrFreddie
  5. Stop Using Mono Tanks …in War – An insightful argument concerning the importance of Defense Team synergy. Guest contributor: Romain De Camas
  6. How to Read E&P Hero Cards – A guide to understanding Hero Cards
  7. Empires and Puzzles Jargon Buster – In case any of the words in this post draw a blank!
Image with words: Defense Team Guide

How to Set Up a Defense Team | Empires and Puzzles

Setting up a Defense Team can be a subjective affair, after all, our personal experiences and more importantly, our available rosters, play a big part in the equation.

Personally, I lean towards seeking synergy above all else when facing the problem of Team building.

In the years I’ve played the game, I’ve been most impressed by the dogged Teams, which create systematic loops, -making victory, a hard thing to obtain.

That’s the type of team I try to create myself, albeit, with a vastly inferior roster.

And, it’s that method which I’ll be sharing with you today, and hopefully, it will help you build a reasonable team with your own rag-tag bunch of rejects, -as I have with mine.

However, if you’re a P2P player wanting to know what your best Defensive Team looks like, there are a number of shortcuts available to you, which I’ll cover next.

Shortcuts to building the Best Elite Empires and Puzzles Defense Team (P2P Top Tier)

While the fundamentals are the same (synergy will be the cornerstone of this post), players who have access to all of the best heroes in empires and puzzles, have at least a few handy pointers available to them.

The Leaderboard Top 100 (Empires and Puzzles)

The first is the in-game Top 100 Leader board, which can be found in the RAIDS tab, just under your raid tier. Press the button called, ‘LEADERBOARD’.

The following is a list of the current Top 100 players in the world based on Cups held.

A short peruse here will show you what some of the best players in the world have constructed for use as their Defense Team.

Take a moment to see what heroes are being fielded, and Where.

Also, try to understand why they’ve been positioned that way (formation and order). What are the benefits?

The Top Alliances (Empires and Puzzles)

To take it a step further, hit the ‘TOP ALLIANCES’ tab, and select one of the top alliances to review.

There’s a lot of good info here to be found, and interestingly, you’ll see that some of the top alliances share similarly designed Defenses. -A common example is the use of Xnolphod as Tank.

Now, I don’t presume to talk for these alliances, but it’s clear that research, experimentation, and organisation, has occurred.

And all of that energy has been invested with two things in mind: Obtaining and Retaining Cups.

So, you don’t have to read about Xnolphod, to understand that he should be considered a viable Tank option.

Instead, you’ll have clear evidence laid out before you, from the people who play this game at the highest level, that good ‘ol Xnolphod, may be worth a punt.

Join an Organised Alliance (Empires and Puzzles)

If you want to, why not join an Organised Alliance and get some pointers, firsthand?

It doesn’t have to be a Top Tier Clan, so long as the players are committed, and it’s all relatively well organised.

Many Alliances, regardless of status, have off-game communications via Line & Discord. And many like to help others with their Defense Teams.

So, while you may not find a single player with access to all of your heroes, you’re bound to find a pool of experienced players who have access to or are very familiar with, your roster.

Find Defense Team Synergy Yourself (Empires and Puzzles)

If you’re a new P2P player, your goal is ultimately the same as everybody else’s, -to find the most absurd amount of synergy you can.

To create a team capable of frustrating the living daylights out of any invader.

So, the rest of this guide should help you, too.

Universal Laws Of Setting Up a Defense (Empires & Puzzles Tips)

Top World Defense Team example - Empires and Puzzles Screenshot
Current Top Defense Team – Empires and Puzzles

There are generally accepted rules that, on the whole, offer clear benefits when setting up a Defense Team. That’s not to say you can’t break these rules, but if you’re unsure, it’s easier to simply follow them.

  1. You don’t need to include every type of hero in your Defense – You don’t even need to field healers (for example) if you’d prefer not to. It’s all about finding what works best
  2. ‘Rainbow Teams’ are generally more advantageous (Read my Colour Stacking Guide for more)
  3. Speed Kills – If your heroes can fire off first, they stand a better chance of winning!
  4. If playing a Defense-Down hero, try and place them to the Left. That goes for Cleansers and Dispellers, too
  5. Some 4-Star heroes can contribute to a solid Defense
  6. 3-Star heroes are too weak to be effective in the Diamond League
  7. Don’t play a sniper as Tank
  8. Mother North is not a Tank
  9. It’s your Team, so do what you want – This is also my general rule for playing the game

Is your Strongest Team, your Best Team? Defense Synergy…

The main argument I’m going to make in this post is based on creating synergy.

What do I mean by that?

I mean, putting a team together which when viewed in their single parts may not be considered worthy of particular merit, however, when fielded together, makes the invader say,

“Huh… wasn’t expecting that.”

Play heroes who complement each other’s skillset.

Of course, if you have all the best heroes, simply seek synergy.

But even if you don’t, there’s still hope… sometimes.

The best way for me to explain what I mean is by sharing my recently destroyed Defence (destroyed by SG when they nerfed Azmia):

A Screenshot of My Defense Team in Empires and Puzzles – My Defense Team

A number of pointers:

  • I’m generally a very C2P player, with my recent blog pulls being my biggest splurge to date.
  • There are three 4-Star heroes in my Defense, although I could’ve fielded five 5-Star heroes (we’ll cover this later).
  • I owe a general apology to the world over my stance on the White Wizard.

Explaining my budget Defense Team (Empires and Puzzles)

Pre-nerf, this team was holding me near 2700 cups.

That may not seem a lot for some players, but for me, it was an outstanding feat, especially as I don’t Raid as much as I’d like to.

Let’s break the entire thing down, and share my general process.

First, let’s look at the Formation

I used to run the Reverse formation because I found it to be the most frustrating to deal with. I also liked the layout and generally got better results with it.

Reverse Formation Screenshot – The Reverse formation (Empires and Puzzles)

However, once I levelled Azmia, I saw an opportunity to try something a little different.

I wanted her to fire off ASAP, but didn’t want to leave her out front alone. So, the Double formation made more sense. However, it was just another piece of experimentation.

-If it didn’t work, I would have moved on and tried something else.

Double Formation in Screenshot – The Double Formation (Empires and Puzzles)

Now, let’s go over the Team build and layout.

Choosing my Defense Team Tank (Empires and Puzzles)

This team was all designed to make the most out of Azmia. -To keep her protected so she could keep that (once) awesome counterattack going.

I wanted a co-Tank for that reason, and Freya seemed like a good choice (based on my roster).

I really value her ability to reverse, or simply increase, Defense. Also, she creates a solid meat market out front with her minions. And most importantly, she’s quicker than Azmia, at Fast.

Both of these heroes offer Team-wide protections and also get on with the work of inflicting harm on those who would steal our Pork.

Tank Tip: For me, choosing a Tank is about selecting a hero who does a lot, ideally both Defensively and Offensively. Telluria was a beloved Tank because she did it all, including messing with mana.

There are loads of good options for Tank, including:

Hulda's Minions Healing in a Raid – Hulda doing her thing…

Remember, a ‘weak’ Tank for somebody else, might actually be your best choice.

If you don’t have a better option, Buddy might make a great Tank for you. Because, when he fires off he summons a bunch of minions, inflicts -Attack, and inflicts -Defense, on 3 enemy targets.

In fact, he would make a better Tank than some 5-Star snipers/controllers, like Malosi for example.

The Rest of the Squad (Gormek)

Now that we have a little protection going on, we need heroes capable of winning this thing.

Since I didn’t have El Naddaha, Finley, Guan Yu, Eloise, Rayne, Congalach, Penolite, or Mr. Pengi to hand, I went with plain old Gormek.

He’s an Average speed Fire hitter who, importantly, inflicts -34% Defense on 3 enemy targets. Imagine that with Freya’s minions peppering away.

Of course, my 4-Stars are Limit Broken, Emblemed, and fully insured.

While he’s not gonna win the battle by himself, he’s still the most offensive hero in my line-up.

Attrition is my Dream. And, his -34% Defense offers me some hope of p*ssing off and ejecting, any overreaching invader.

Left-Wing Tip: The Left Wing is an important spot because it houses the first hero to activate on the next turn.

That’s why so often, you’ll see a Defense-Down hero there, like Morel, Frigg, Costumed White Rabbit, and Finley.

And that’s why I put Gormek there.

Also, the Left Wing is the traditional spot for Mother North, because it gets the most out of her Special Skills (-should she revive any heroes who are fully charged, they’ll go off on that turn).

On the Right Corner is Devana (Empires and Puzzles)

Devana occupies the right corner because she’s a solid stand-alone hero.

She does so much, which I’ve documented, and I especially like her anti-minion… minion.

She also Dispels three targets, and that’s a theme I wanted to continue, with the centre spot…

Right-Wing Tip: This spot is great for big hitters (Mr. Pengi, Quenell, Cristobal), because they can take advantage of any ailments (or buffs) inflicted by the heroes before them.

It’s also a great spot to sit a free-radical, like Kalo.

The Right-Wing is also traditionally home to the common sniper.

Melendor, The White Wizard (Centre – Flank)

Costumed Melendor will regenerate health for all allies, cast +46% defense for 3 turns, and Dispel buffs from all enemies.

While experimenting, I first went with Franz in this spot, but he proved too slow. I also tested C. Jack O’Hare, but he never got me more Cups.

C. Melendor, I imagine, added to a reoccurring loop:

  • Defense-Up (Freya + Melendor)
  • Healing (Azmia + Melendor)
  • Dispel (Melendor + Devana)

Plus, I got Defense-down from Gormek, Cleanse from Azmia (60% chance), and a tiny bit of minion control from Devana.

Flank Tip: I guess Melendor is playing in a Flank-type position here in my lineup. Flanks are great for Dodge heroes, Summoners, healers, and Taunters.

Flank heroes are the most interchangeable, once you have your core Defense Team set up.

You can also tell a more aggressive team by the heroes fielded in these spots. For example, Elizabeth, Hannah, Big hitters, and Defense-Down heroes, are also fielded here.

Defense Team Hero Element Positioning (Empires and Puzzles)

Let’s reprint my Defense Team so you don’t have to keep scrolling back up:

A Screenshot of My Defense Team in Empires and Puzzles – Defense Team

Another way to gain an advantage is by placing heroes with due regard to their element. That means, understanding the colour wheel:

Screenshot of tile Damage Chart
Element Wheel – E&P
  • Yellow (Holy) is strong against Purple (Dark), but weak against Yellow
  • Purple is strong against Yellow, but weak against Purple
  • Red (Fire) is strong against Green (Nature), but weak against Blue (Ice)
  • Blue is strong against Red, but weak against Green
  • Green is strong against Blue, but weak against Red

With that in mind, and as much as it falls in line with your other criteria, positioning weak next to their element opposite, is a great idea.

I placed Gormek (Red) to the Left, and Azmia (Blue) next to him.

So, if an invader goes Green (Nature) mono in order to target Azmia, there’s a chance Gormek could benefit from Green tiles hitting him (as they’re weak against him).

Therefore, helping him to charge his mana while taking as little damage as possible.

Defense Team Review (Empires and Puzzles)

This was a solid little Defense Team while it lasted, -with Azmia grabbing a fair few Cups:

Azmia winning Empires and Puzzles cups – Azmia Snatching Cups

All-in-all, I can say from testing, that it was Melendor (despite how much he has grown on me) who was the weakest link. Followed by, Gormek.

However, there was obviously enough synergy to get some wins, so overall, I was happy.

Who was left sitting on the bench?

As mentioned above, I could’ve fielded a full 5-Star team, and here’s a list of the key heroes I left behind:

  1. Hanitra (because I was playing Azmia and wanted her Counterattack to… count)
  2. Esme (actually a very good defensive hero, I even tried to field 2 Ice heroes to fit her in)
  3. Master Lepus (because I’m playing Azmia)
  4. Magni (a solid old-timer, but past his prime + Ice + sniper)
  5. Elkanen (a weak’ish Nature old timer)
  6. Reuben (an OK Fire 5-Star hero, but without another 2020 HotM, he loses out on a key strength)
  7. Elena (I think you’re getting the point. A bunch of old 5-Star heroes from here on in, many of whom were collected from TC20)
Screenshot of Ferant in an Empires and Puzzles Raid Team – The Christmas Gang (Not my heroes)

How do you Experiment with a Defense Team?

When I talk about experimenting, I’m talking about putting a Defense Team together and letting them defend the castle while you’re away. For maybe a day or two.

See how things go. Review the data. See how many you win and lose, and take a look at the teams who manage to steal your Cups.

Are your Cups going up? -That’s generally a good indication of a good Defense Team.

How to Test a Defense Team (Empires and Puzzles)

Finally, once I’m satisfied I have a half-decent Defense Team on my hands, I’ll ask an alliance member to ‘Battle’ them.

Often, this is actually my wife, where I can watch firsthand, my team’s performance.

I tend to put together a new Defense Team every few months or so, if my team’s losing too many Cups, or if I happen to get a new hero who’s worth shaking things up for.

Like Azmia.

If I had Kalo, he’d also be worth the effort, especially given my limited roster.

Picking a War Defense Team (Empires and Puzzles)

I believe all of my observations also apply to War Defense Teams.

The 1% Tournament guide is also especially useful for seeing how to respond to the different types of War Effects.

For example, prioritising your powerhouse slow heroes, in a Very Fast War.

And for that reason, I’m not going to duplicate information here.

My view is, that it comes down to finding the best synergy for each War. But remember, some you win some you lose, it’s all part of the learning process.

I say that because Wars are less forgiving. You don’t have the luxury of 2 days to test conditions, you simply have to be prepared to start recording data for future wars, or be willing to shoot from the hip.

Top World Defense Team - Screenshot
Current #1 at the time of writing (Empires and Puzzles)

Building a Defense Team in Empires and Puzzles

I hope this helps somebody, but please bear in mind, I don’t claim to be the master of the universe… I just play the game a lot.

If you’ve got tips to share, please do. New players are always looking for this sort of information, and I’d love for there to be enough here to empower them to start experimenting with their own rosters.

My best tip is to think about what you’re trying to achieve. Try to imagine how you want your team to respond to tiles. And, build a team around that concept.

For me, I wanted Amzia to fire off first, or to be protected until she did (Freya).

Anyway, that’s all I have to say about that.

Spot an error? Just let me know and I’ll update it.

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Copyright (decoration images and text):
Images used by way of review/tutorial – Copyright owned by Empires & Puzzles: Small Giant Games

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  1. The new Magic Troops increase mana boost to 20% at max and can shave tiles even faster than the original Mana troops. There are breakpoints where Mana and Magic Troops increase mana boost. They are levels 1, 5, 11, 17, 23 and 29. Comparing Mana & Magic troops at the breakpoints gives these results: level 1 – both 5% boost (base level mana boost): level 5 – Mana 7%, Magic 8%: level 11 – Mana 9% Magic 11%: level 17 – Mana 11% Magic 14%: level 23 – Mana 13% Magic 17% (Magic is now beyond the max a Mana troop can boost): level 29 – Mana 15% Magic 20%. The Mana troop has higher Attack and Defense stats and the Magic has higher Health stats but Mana is where the difference really matters. The extra 5% opens up possibilities that were impossible before. With the right combinations of Class, Family, Costume and Magic troop mana boost a Fast hero can potentially be hitting at 6 tiles (Very Fast Speed), a Slow hero at 9 tiles (Ludicrous Speed) and a Very Slow hero at 10 tiles. Very Fast heroes just need a level 11 troop of either kind to shave .5 tiles off to knock it down to 6 but further shaving is immaterial. Average heroes can use either kind of troop to reduce 10 tiles to 9 but, again, further shaving is immaterial. Food for thought.

  2. Cynic, what are some are your favorite examples of synergistic buffs/debuffs? +Attack/-Defense is a given, Pengi is of course great with summoners, and Franz’s debuff works with pretty much everything, but I’m curious as to synergies you like that are a little less obvious – a couple of mine are Sif/Wolfgang + Taunter or Wilbur + Snow White (either version).

    1. Hey Holodigm, I’ve mentioned the key pairing in my Defense as Amiza and Freya, as they complement each others defensive weaknesses, creating a very nice little united front. When I look at my Raids of late, I am impressed with the Mother North c. Ariel link up, really creating a cornerstone of health and recovery for a team while allowing space for a different option for powerful Dark.

  3. You didn’t say there is one big difference between building raid and war defense:
    – Raid defense has to survive only one attack, and before next is fully healed back.
    – War defense stands against next attack in a state in which it was after previous attack.
    So a raid defense just has to destroy attacker faster than he is able to destroy it, no matter the cost. War defense must not only destroy enemy, but also come out of the battle in a good shape to be able to fight next battle.
    Other diffeence is that in wars there is no tiebreaker, so it is much more possibility to win battle by just surviving 10 minutes.
    These to factors make healers much more important in war defense than in raid defense.
    As I have seen, attackers often seek healerless defences in wars and attack them more, as they give better chance to get good score from attack.

  4. Hi.
    Lets say you teoretically had the pleasure to shoose from all existing heroes in the game to date. LB and 20 emblems.
    What formation and wich heroes would you take?. To make, in you head the strongest possible over all RAID defence team for most situations?

    1. Hey Linus, I’d have to get Hulda in there. My starting point, with all the current heroes, goes something like this:

      C.MN | Krampus | C.Guardian Kong (I can see why Santa’s here due to Defense-Down*) | Hulda | Penolite (ideally Mr. P but he’s Ice)

      Thanks for visiting!

  5. Since I am mainly F2P/sometimes very C2P I have to make due with who I have when it comes to Defense. My current War Defense is as follows:
    Guardian Owl, c.Kiril, Bertila, c.Sabina and c.Marjana
    All have 20 Emblems except GO who has 9 (they really need to make it easier to get them for him).
    c.Kiril is LB and soon c.Marjana will be as well.

    How can I improve this team until I get more Heroes leveled up?

    Also, in Raids I am seeing a lot of teams with 2-3 Healers. I think the worst I ever faced early in the game was 3 Healers and 2 Perfect Riposte (set so everyone was covered). Later is was 3 Healers, Deadly Riposte and Wu Kong.

    Oh Yes, Minions = Meat Shields 🙂

  6. Hey Old Cynic,
    I hope you’re summer is going well. I thought you mentioned this somewhere, but may have missed it.
    What’s your raid defense win %? I’d say mine is roughly 60% and am curious if you know how that measures up in E&P land?
    If you have the time would love to get your opinion on my defense team one of these days. Take it easy!

    1. Hey Nurgles, it’s hot in the UK at the moment and we aren’t used to this sort of weather! It’s the shock factor that gets you.

      I’m not sure on my defense win-rate, it deffo goes up and down. At the moment it keeps me around the 2700 mark which I figure is good. Message me on my fb Messenger and I’ll take a look… but I’m no expert!

  7. Hello I started this game when season 5 launched, and ofcourse i understud if I want to play I need to P2P so on…
    I’ve won rank 1 like 6 times and been rank 3 in world. And rhino i have best defense team in the whole game, becose lvl 11 troops behind my heroes I’m at 2800+ and attackers are almost all lvl 30 mana troops behind so it’s so so hard to defend becose of the troops are too slow mana on me and I cannot buy the levels for them but still doing great, not sure I want to share this team 😉 i just think why people don’t see the synergy, I’ve won almost insane attack teams with 30lvl mana troop or magic or ninja troops, and I wonder how i pulled this off and relay would be great. But somethines insane victory’s of the best players.. I’m satisfied and waiting to lvl up troops to 23 but it takes the game, so much thinking and people whine about its all about the board, I have proved to my alliance that I can go to top 10 with like 12 attack , did it last time and got to rank 25 then used 5 more attack and rank 7 , so there was difficult boards but you need to have couple ways to win if the tiles don’t match, of those 17 attacks I lost 3 to same guy and won 14 and was rank 7, and I can do it whenever I want to fast. So it’s not the board except when you need like yellow tales and 4 to 5 turns won’t get it and you lose, then it’s the board. My top trophies is 3181

    1. Wow, that sounds impressive for starting just after Season 5! Congrats! This is a fun game and there’s so much to aim for and achieve. Thanks for sharing!

  8. If you were to assemble a rainbow defense team consisting of the best heroes from one family, which family would you use? WTK, Gargoyles or Underwild? Thanks!

    1. Hey there, I’m a huge fan of the Gargoyles. Their Gargoyle Skin is a cheat code and some of them are super powerful. That said, off the top of my head, I suspect Underwild might produce a more balanced Defense. But the Gargoyles are awesome.

      Thanks for visiting!

  9. I have gazelle, khonshu, azmia as the tank which she is limit broken to 70, ahmose and roughian for war defense in that order in the standard basic formation… is there a better order to put them in or should I leave it the way it is ?

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