Xiaotu and Laohu Lunar Year Family Review (Empires and Puzzles)

Xiaotu Laohu Empires and Puzzles Split Hero Card Graphic

Xiaotu and Laohu are the ONLY Lunar Heroes currently available at the Empires and Puzzles Lunar New Year Seasonal Summoning Portal (the rest are Season 1 fodder). And as a result, the Portal feels kinda empty; like the Loo-Roll aisle, come the Apocalypse.

But are they worth trying to snag?

Well, for wrong or right, I will offer some theoretical reasoning as to the perceived value this particular grouping of pixels will have if found populating your personal version of the global sensation that is…


(No, they don’t pay me.)

Lunar Year Family Bonus
Lunar Year Family Passive Skills
Xiaotu Review
Laohu Review

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

Xiaotu and Laohu Empires and Puzzles Screenshot

Lunar Year Family Bonus

As with all of the Family Bonuses, these Lunar Year Family Heroes become stronger when teamed with other unique Heroes of the same Family.

But, what’s different here is that each Lunar Year Animal Hero will grant a different type of Bonus.

These 2 are the first and only Lunar Year Family Heroes to be released so far, but as more are released in future, there’s potential to activate up to 5 different Bonuses for the Lunar Year Heroes.

However, you will need at least two Lunar Year Family Heroes to activate their Family Bonus.

Here’s what we have so far:

Xiaotu – Lunar Year Rabbit Bonus: +5% Mana generation

Laohu – Lunar Year Tiger Bonus: +10% Attack

So, if you manage to pull both of these Heroes and play them in battle together, they’ll both get a bonus of +5% Mana generation plus +10% Attack.

Xiaotu Laohu Split Empires and Puzzles Family Bonus

Lunar Year Family Heroes will also have additional perks when used during the Lunar New Year Event.

Lunar Year Family Passive (DISABLE MINION ABILITIES)

Heroes from the Lunar Year Family share the same powerful Passive Skill:

Lunar Year Passive Skills:
1. DISABLE MINION ABILITIES ~ Attacks and abilities of all Minions owned by enemies are disabled.

OldCynic’s Thoughts:

This Passive is ridiculous. It is the entire reason I’m writing this review, -because it’s so significant.

These Heroes will Disable Minion Abilities, period.

You’re basically turning off all of the enemies’ Minions simply by having one of these Heroes on the field. -Seems absurdly powerful as it basically cuts off a large portion of gameplay, especially in the current/previous meta.

And talk about future-proofing your roster; -No matter what New Minion Monster they create, the Lunar Heroes will reduce them to Meat Sellers.

[…Unless the developers create a new Buff/rule to override this in future.]

There’s one lingering issue that comes to mind when I see a Passive this powerful:

  1. That it will be weakened in the future… You’re basically turning off Minions (besides as a HP meat shield). I’m dubious about this one, especially if too many people get hold of it.

And lots of people could because it’s a Seasonal Summoning opportunity. And everyone’s carrying Epic Hero Tokens like they’re chocolate coins left over from Christmas!

But “they” must know this, which gets me thinking about how poor (undiversified) the Lunar Portal actually is. -Maybe to ward people off?

Or maybe it’s all part of the plan, to nerf M&M (and alike) without so much as an anti-flea cat collar.

Of course, this is all speculation on my part, but we do have recent evidence of such behaviour with the Morlovia Family “Steal Buff” Passive.

Speculation aside…

What is clear is that this has to be one of the most powerful Passive Skills in the game.

So powerful in fact, that these guys could otherwise Hopscotch and I’d still rate them Diety.

And if we are to take it at face value, and this Passive remains the same, then what’s not to love?

This Passive, in my opinion, is a 1-Hero answer to all your Minion problems. It reduces them to a fancy form of Boosted Healing. And more than that, Xiaotu will use this Passive to achieve something that not even a current Beta Hero could accomplish… to 100% Stop M&M from getting any Healing.

This Passive is so strong, I had to re-read the card a million times before releasing this post for fear of getting it wrong. AND STILL, I’m concerned about it. Because surely, a Passive shouldn’t do this?

No charge, no Mana, no qualifier, just Rejected!

Xiaotu – Empires and Puzzles

Xiaotu Empires and Puzzles Hero Card

Key Facts: Fire (Red), Average, Druid, Lunar Year Family (Rabbit)

Special Skills (Reverse Recovery): 1. Deals 655% damage to the target. 2. The target and nearby enemies resist healing and receive 250 damage per each resisted healing for 4 turns.

Talent: COMPANION ~ +15% chance to summon a Thorn Minion after receiving any damage. The effect is applied at the end of the turn.

Xiaotu Review (Empires and Puzzles)

I’ve already covered the Passive Skills possessed by Xiaotu and Laohu, so please consider that as an extension of my thoughts here.

Xiaotu is an Average speed Sniper who hits for 655% with 834 Att. Definitely, a powerful hit, but you might want more for Average in the super-charged era we’re living in.

But it’s the follow-up that’s crucial for me; the “target and nearby enemies resist healing and receive 250 damage per each resisted healing for 4 turns”.

-A proper chunk of damage for an attempt at healing.

I initially rated Furdinand and M&M highly because they do sooo much stupidness that it’s hard to get a foothold without certain Heroes or a ludicrous board.

But this, “enemies resist healing” is a great way to stop one of them; M&M. Because her protection against Status Ailments comes from her Minions, whereas Furdinand’s is a looping feature of his own Buff (reflect).

That means that with Xiaotu’s Passive (the automated Kill-Switch for Minions), Miriam & Midnight can’t bounce back the Ailment.

And this “resist healing” Ailment will work against loads of Healers.

It also impacts M&M’s own non-Minion-related Boosted Healing.

And when you add her anti-Minion Passive to the mix, Xiaotu will demobilize Hulda’s Minion Healing, Diaochan’s sticky-fingered friends, Bera’s inflictions, Devana’s Lynx killers, and … NOOOOO! … the Lady of the Lake, too!

…the Beta Reference… (Mistweaver)

I did refer to Beta above when discussing this Passive (the Minion Kill-Switch) because there’s currently a Hero in there called Mistweaver, and he inflicts the same “resist healing” Ailment with his Special Skill.

However, without the Passive M&M’s Minions, on too many occasions, simply chucked the Ailment back over to me, -so then I’m stuck with this awful plight I had intended for her… Life’s a trip.

On the whole, Xiaotu is a great package, but due to her speed, I imagine won’t be as favoured. Nonetheless, in my view, there is a lot to work with and she possesses an extraordinary Passive which when paired with the second part of her Special, makes her outstanding.

If you’ve got any of the Minion Summoning gods, facing either of these Heroes is gonna be a bit of a downer.

Hero Grade for Xiaotu (Empires and Puzzles)

So for my grading, the question is:

Is this hero’s Special capable of/likely to change the outcome of a battle? Yes.

If not, do they still bring enough to the party to help defeat the deities? N/a.

Old Cynic’s Hero Grade: Deity ⭐⭐⭐

Laohu – Empires and Puzzles

Laohu Empires and Puzzles Hero Card

Key Facts: Holy (Yellow), Fast, Monk, Lunar Year Family (Tiger)

Special Skills (Fierce Fu Jow Pai): 1. Deals 605% damage to the target. 2. Boosts the caster’s health by 50% of the damage dealt.

Talent: WITHSTAND ~ +30% chance to resist negative status effects.

Laohu Review (Empires and Puzzles)

Laohu is the quicker of the two and let’s be honest, if you’re trying to get that Passive as the primary, the Hero behind it doesn’t matter as much.

And with 2 Snipers to choose from, why not opt for Laohu?

He hits as hard as anyone of note and he gives himself 50% back as Boosted Healing. And at Fast, that could be irritating, to say the least.

It’s a simple enough Special Skill and lends itself to Offense quite well. That said, I expect to see both of these Heroes on Defense due to that Passive.

In a game overrun with Minion Monsters, Xiaotu and Laohu are gonna be stars.

They even stop my beloved Bera from suppressing Minions.

Of the two, I would personally take Xiaotu, however, “Speed and Pain” is the name of the game.

For 2 extra tiles, Xiaotu offers you a strategy. But for 8 tiles only, Laohu will slap the living punk outa someone and heal himself, and in doing so, may well preserve the most important asset of them all; that bloody PASSIVE!

Hero Grade for Laohu (Empires and Puzzles)

So for my grading, the question is:

Is this hero’s Special capable of/likely to change the outcome of a battle? Yes.

If not, do they still bring enough to the party to help defeat the deities? N/a.

Old Cynic’s Hero Grade: Deity ⭐⭐⭐

Xiaotu & Laohu (Empires and Puzzles)

My final thoughts:

The Lunar Portal is disappointing. There’s no getting around it; two new Heroes isn’t much of a new family.

And when combined with the other issues we’ve seen of late, it’s all slightly disconcerting.

Still, the Heroes in isolation are fantastic and the Passive is huge. Of course, their prominence is due to the game’s meta, which for a while now, has hovered in the favour of Summoners.

Checking the current Top 100, it seems reasonable to surmise that Xiaotu & Laohu could affect up to 30% of elite Defense Teams.

I’ve reviewed the Top 100 and counted all of the prominent Minion Summoners and of the 100, 63 had 1 or more of the Super Summoners (including Waterpipe) among them, -frequently as Tank.

The Lunar Family Super Passive…

If this Passive is ever nerfed, it would significantly reduce my grading of these Heroes.

The way I see it is, an Overhealer like Esme (650 HP) has never caused me any problems. And that’s what enemies’ Minions will become with Xiaotu & Laohu… nothing but the flesh… for the ghost is gone.

For ref. Miriam & Midnight produces 3 Minions worth about 680 HP each. And Hulda does 5 at around 550 HP each (at least they did in my tests).

I’ve graded Xiaotu & Laohu so highly because they eradicate an entire wave of Minion Summoners on Passive alone. A whole class of Hero (past, present, and future), once elite, will be relegated to meat market pushers.

Of course, if you have elite anti-Minion/Summoner Heroes, these 2 might not float your boat.

But it’s hard to understate a new Family that near obliterates a whole group of Heroes on Passive alone.

That said, answer me this, is it even worth pulling at such a lacklustre Portal? I spun my Epic Hero Tokens coz … say it with me… “that Passive!”. But I didn’t, and wouldn’t, use Gems.

Anyway, that’s it from me! What are your thoughts on it all? What do you make of the new Heroes? EHTs, Gems, or nope? Feel free to have your say below.

Thanks for reading.

~All we need now is a Hero with a Passive that halves all damage from all enemies. Then we can reverse the meta by a year.

Update: Read more about the Lunar Passive, here.

[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/Zynga Games

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  1. The passive is insane. I finished easy + normal today and the final fight on normal was pretty nasty because my standard event farming team based on Freya & co didn’t do much damage. Also bringing Ariel was a bad idea because of the debuff laid out by one of the bosses, as cleansing will hit you with 1000+ damage. I suppose it would be easier with a properly designed team that includes Proteus or something but I ended up using time stops and potions with a full legendary team.

  2. This week I got yellow overdosed. Topaz on Sunday and today Laohu and Eset, But I did not come to brag (perhaps a little bit) but to ask these new heroes do not get nerfed. #FreeLunarHeroes before they are jailed, just in case.

    Perhaps it helps to change the meta to a different paradigm and we stop seeing too many minion summoners. Too bad for my Diaochan and Cao Cao, but perhaps it is the healthier option for the game.

    Glad to read this article, just like always.

    1. If enough people got them then it could shift the Meta, but it could also be used to defend the elite teams by stopping LotL, Bera, Freya, etc. It goes both ways.

      Interesting times… And I keep checking that this Passive actually works this way. -It’s incredibly strong.

      Congrats on the Heroes Mig-El, Laohu would be great!

        1. Thanks Mig-El. Where did you find that? …2028? For 1 Family! Of course, the next set of these will not be snipers. It will be CG.Panther with this Passive! Who knows.

          1. Neverwhere, it is my assumption. After all there are 12 Chinese zodiac animals and they only released two, one of the last year (Tiger) and one for the current one (Rabbit). The next two are the Snake and the Dragon. I hope they go faster than two every year, though.

  3. Hi OC,
    They might not pay you, but it is high time you were on retainer. So many players rely on your insights, including me. Your assessment is shrewd, insightful, humorous and appreciated.
    Thank you,

  4. Had decided to do only 11 EHT pulls (had 31 on hand) and was lucky to pull El Tigre. Happy to have the help against all those Waterpipes!

    Fun and nice hero, but I don’t think we’ll see so many of him in top defenses, as he can never beat out Anne, Jove or Ogima for pure damage. Will be great in offense though!

    1. Hey Tobov, I’m in good company using my EHTs but did not enjoy your good luck. Congrats!

      I agree with your assessment re. the real meta (fast big hitters). My thinking was that they commonly have protection or hindrance makers, and these Lunar Heroes remove some of that protection, at least some in its current form, Minion Summoners. Of course, I can only speak to my personal experience, but it’s often the Tank that makes the big hitters so dangerous, coz while I’m dancing with M&M, Jove is doing his stretches!

      I was thinking about future versions of this Passive… Imagine a Passive that reduced all enemy healing by 80%. Or a Passive that would stop Counterattack, or Taunt! Hahaha! Crazy stuff. You could accumulate 5 Heroes that removed all Skills and Buffs from all enemies, and then you could really run a muck!

  5. Chanted “Passive, Passive, ….” (did all the other magic luck routines), and ….

    You guessed it Bane and Dawa. Glad I don’t have more EHT to waste.

    1. 😁 Unlucky! Same here, no luck. There are for sure better Portals but other Portals don’t give me 5* Heroes either so it didn’t feel any different.

      In fact, most of my 5* Heroes exclusively come from TC20, HA10, and the SE. Better luck next time.

  6. Perhaps it’s because they’re both new, but I’m sensing a lot of synergy between Xiaotu and Roughian & Nurgib: XT prevents some/all minion attributes and R&M eliminates the desiccated husks over time. Both on passives! Was fortunate to pull both, but will need some time to level them. Looking forward to a revamped “Red Raiders” team.

  7. Hi, I was incredibly Lucky, I got Xiaotu on first pull and immediately stopped using my saved tokens, too little chance to get the Tiger. The only reason I see now to use summoners when facing these new héroes is when u pair them with Pengi, they act as healers and Pengi’s dmg booster

  8. I agree. I have 5 minion heroes I never really use and most arent leveled because I went in offense directions long back and never got the right collection of minionites to favor jumping on that bandwagon? (some of the kingdom war heroes, or bera or vela early on, but never landed any).

    Now, there are teams I wouldnt attack for the past few months. When I saw waterpipe, Id tend to avoid the attack because although with the right tiles I could usually win, with anything except just right tiles, I had no chance too often and it was frustrating.

    Same goes for Diaochan and her pickpocket brigade, or a couple of others. I didnt fight the fights anymore, they were simply too annoying even with an anti minion hero or 2 (I have both full level Gefjon and Allucard which often doesnt make the difference if say Waterpipe or LoL gets a shot off, then its wait and wait and never getting another shot yourself)

    OK, so the game had a flaw. Some of the minion heroes were too damn powerful. I personally woulda creeped it down and retried. Cut Waterpipes minions to 3 instead of 5, or knock their health down 30%. That woulda been adequate? Though they probably didnt want the backlash and hatred they got when they nerfed Xnolphod and turned him f rom the most powerful defense monster in the game: on 70% of the top 100 players defenses, nerfed to a season 1 caliber healer.

    Id have knocked him down to 15% instead of 10, might have left him a little value. Or raise him to fast speed at 10%, something better?

    So I get it, taking away that which was previously given really will piss off the boys at the pub and get ya hit in the head with a mug. Lesson learned more than once (Xnolphod, Vela, Telluria).

    But they needed to depower some of these monster minion heroes. The Kingdom heroes coupled with Vela and Bera and Waterpipe was just making a mess. You couldnt shoot, if you did you got riposted, and even if you did damage one of 2 or 3 or even 4 minion makers just added more minions you couldnt deal with fast enough who in recent releases were SO powerful the minions were changing the game withgout even any offensive attacks needed.
    How do you stop it without taking it away?

    Release the lunar heroes.
    Neither is really amazing. But the minion problem stops THERE. No more minion effects? Not even minion HITS? And its PASSIVE?!?!?

    Well I guess that solves the Waterpipe and Riposte minion issues.

    I dont know that I agree with the off switch approach. I never had Xnolphod, so I didnt have that taken from me and never screamed betrayal and robbery at having a hero I spent gems and top tier resources to level to 85 and max skills made into doorstop. But I was sorry the hero went from the most used in the game to nearly never used anymore because they overshot the correction.

    Are they doing that again? This isnt a 5 days event. There will be Lunar heroes out there before long

    As I said, I dont do minions except in a few bloody battle events maybe 1 on a team so it doesnt really affect ME a great deal, but I do still like the chess aspect of this game, choose or lose? wrong heroes and you die! And doesnt this make choice less important? You lay either lunar hero out there, no minion makers CAN be brought or you will simply be wasting a slot.

    Could they tweak it? 66% chance to reflect minion skills and attacks?

    At least leave a little element of hope?

    Some of the past year, I have really begun to wonder if they plan any of this or they really are just shooting ideas out and someone across a table say OK, RELEASE IT, IF IT GOES BAD WE WILL MAKE A NEW HERO TO ERASE EVERYONES MEMORY OF THE SCREWUP BY COMING OUT WITH AN EVEN BIGGER SCREWUP!

    1. Thanks for the breakdown TLK! The last point you make is something I also ponder; what’s the process of taking an idea and injecting it into the game?

      I saw a YouTube vid yesterday of an unrelated mobile game’s Development Team. And after months of work, they all sat around for an hour after it was released/updated. -They were all, about 30 people, playing the live game to ensure it worked as planned.

      My first thought was, Does this happen with E&P?

      It’s no doubt a complex thing to unfold new Heroes into what once was, a well-balanced game. And I have to give them leeway.

      After all, the players and developers have the same interest in prolonging the life of the game.

      That said, it’s a massive company so I imagine it’s not difficult to put the resources in place to negate some of the recent issues we’ve seen.

      Overall, the Game Balance needs constant attention if you want to achieve:

      1. Large and continued injection of new characters
      2. Considerable longevity

      And I say that from a player’s point of view, coz I don’t know how to run a games company. All I can do is speak of my own perceived retention level.

  9. Long story short. Had 1 Ice monster chest. Finished the 150 enemy’s off and got 1 EHT. Used it and pulled Xiaoto!!! As always love the reviews!! Keep up the great work!

  10. Who do you take between Roughian & Nurgib vs. Xiaotu? I was lucky enough to pull both of them, and I’m having a hard time deciding who gets the spotlight and who gets put on the back burner. Xiaotu’s passive feels stronger, but R&N go off at fast speed…thoughts?

    1. Hi Will, these 2 are both ranked as T-3s to R&Ns T-1; deffo these 2. The Passive is silly. But that doesn’t mean it’s right for you. It really depends on your playstyle and expectations. For me, I’d take either of these over R&N. But hopefully you can level both in time.

  11. Well, I’ve got Laohu. The boss of my gang has got Xiaotu. These heroes are ridiculously OP. Both of us were immediately starting ascending them. I’ll get back when we have more experience.

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