Note: As a member of the Marvel Contest of Champions Content Creator program, I was granted early access to a 5* Rank 3 Signature Level 200 Silver Surfer for the purposes of this review. I do not get to keep this champion and he has already been removed from my account.
The Silver Surfer has arrived, and that means only one thing: Galactus is on his way. But before the Devourer of Worlds arrives in the Battlerealm, we finally get his most famous herald as a playable champion to close out the 5th year of Marvel Contest of Champions.
Unfortunately, as you’ve probably already heard and seen, Silver Surfer is a bit of a letdown. By every metric I use to judge a champion, Surfer falls short. In recent months we’ve seen absolutely gorgeous works of art released into the game like Sunspot, Mysterio, Warlock, Claire Voyant, Man-Thing, Aarkus, and Guillotine 2099, and Surfer doesn’t look like he belongs in the same game as those champions. He looks amazing in all the promo art and as an avatar, but not once you get into the actual fights. He lacks the shine, detail and eye-catching extras we’ve come to expect.
When it comes to play style, he’s not very fun to play because you have to time everything perfectly to ramp him up, and if you make one mistake, it all falls apart and you have to restart. You have to constantly watch the Power Cosmic buff and Rotating Icon, which can be distracting and leads to mistakes because you’re not watching your opponent. This makes for a frustrating and anxiety-producing experience.
When you get into the actual gameplay, the damage isn’t as bad as people initially feared (given the right synergies and rotations), but it’s not really worth the effort either, especially given how stacked the Cosmic class is with monsters such as Corvus Glaive, Captain Marvel Movie, Medusa, Venom the Duck, and Hyperion. The average Summoner would have a much more rewarding and straightforward experience playing Venom, Angela, OG Thor, OG Captain Marvel, or Carnage, and at least Proxima Midnight’s difficult ramp-up comes with ridiculous damage at the end, so I don’t even think Surfer is a Top 10 Cosmic Champion.
He does have bit of utility, but it’s pretty niche at the moment. Freezerburn is one such place, but there are plenty of other champions such as Sunspot, Claire Voyant, Human Torch, Colossus, and Mephisto that can already handle Freezerburn and that Summoners have already ranked up. All of those champions have much more utility, and in many cases, are more sustainable, than Silver Surfer. When I’m looking at ranking up a champion, I want one that can solve problems. Other than prestige, Silver Surfer doesn’t solve many problems, and the ones he can solve, we already have better options for.
That’s it for the editorial part of the review. Keep reading for an explanation on how to play the champion, tips, and additional pros and cons.
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Like many Cosmic champions, Silver Surfer is all about stacking up as many buffs as possible. Simply put, Surfer gets more powerful the more buffs he has, so you want to do everything you can to maintain as many buffs on him as possible at all times.
It all starts with the Power Cosmic buff. This buff is active at the start of the fight, and consuming it with a heavy attack or SP1 allows Surfer to generate whichever buff is shown in the rotating icon. The Heavy attack generates one copy of the buff, the SP1 generates 2. Once consumed, the Power Cosmic buff returns in 9 seconds (6 with the Hulk/Doctor Strange synergy).
The rotating icon cycles between three buffs you can trigger – power rate, fury, and armor up. For example, if you throw a SP1 and the power rate symbol is shown in the rotating icon, that is the one that will activate. If the next time you throw a SP1, you trigger a different buff, you get the new buff and refresh the other buffs that are still active. Refreshing the buffs is key to keeping up Surfer’s damage.
The heavy attack has a few uses for Silver Surfer. In addition to allowing Surfer to generate a buff from the rotating icon, it also allows Surfer to phase, causing the opponent to miss for 1.1 seconds.
For each buff active on Silver Surfer, he deals an additional burst of energy damage on each hit. This scales with base attack only.
For additional utility, Silver Surfer places an armor break debuff on the opponent when consuming the Power Cosmic buff. Additionally, if at least 3 unique buffs are active when throwing a SP1, a new Vigilance buff is activated, allowing Surfer to bypass enemy miss abilities for 12 seconds.
Finally, Silver Surfer takes 100% less damage from Shock, Coldsnap, and Incinerate debuffs, and these debuffs count toward his buff count, boosting his attack. This does not apply to passive effects.
Silver Surfer’s Signature ability is relatively simple, boosting the potency of each of his buffs. As Silver Surfer is all about getting as many buffs as possible, and doesn’t do much without his buffs, this is a very important Signature ability. Silver Surfer isn’t really worth an Awakening Gem and Signature Stones though, unless high prestige is your priority.
Team Building/Key Synergies:
Bringing Hulk or Doctor Strange is an absolute must if you want to play Silver Surfer, to get the quicker refresh time on the Power Cosmic buff. If you really want to build a full-on Silver Surfer team, you want to look for synergy teams that will extend his buff duration or boost potency. Cosmic Supremacy (Black Bolt with Ronan or Kamala Khan) is one possibility. Captain America Infinity War’s Cosmic Power synergy with OG Captain Marvel, Thor, and Gamora is another option, as is Heimdall’s Lost Daughters of Asgard synergy with Hela and Angela.
Silver Surfer doesn’t have any natural healing abilities, but can heal from the Willpower mastery as he doesn’t take damage from Shock, Incinerate, and Coldsnap debuffs. As you need to spam the SP1 to get the buffs ramped-up, and he isn’t bleed- or poison-immune, he isn’t ideal for the suicide masteries.
Alliance War Defense:
Silver Surfer doesn’t appear to have much value on Alliance War defense as his specials are easy to dodge and he has no evade or auto-block mechanics. Any mystic with nullify or fate seal such as Symboite Supreme, Doctor Strange, Mephisto, Claire Voyant, or even Hood or Jane Foster will make short work of him.
All of Silver Surfer’s Special Attacks pause the Power Cosmic Buff cooldown, his Rotating Icon and all active buffs for the duration of the special.
The SP1 is used to activate and refresh Silver Surfers buffs. If the Power Cosmic buff is available, it consumes the buff, creating 2 copies of the buff from the rotating icon, assuming that buff is not already active. If at least three unique buffs are active, he gains a new Vigilance buff, which bypasses enemy miss abilities for 12 seconds.
The SP2 is the go-to for the big damage for Surfer. You want to wait until he has his buffs active to launch the SP2. If he has at least 3 active unique buffs, Surfer gains an Unblockable buff for 4 seconds.
The SP3 is used to increase the effectiveness of Surfer’s buffs. It will retrigger the active buffs and increase the potency of Fury, Armor Up, and Precision buffs by 25% for 24.0 seconds via an Aptitude buff. Each Aptitiude buff also increases the Power Rate buff potency by 25%.
Silver Surfer is the highest prestige 5* and 6* champion currently in the game.
He is a valid option for Freezeburn; in fact, that is probably the best place to play him, as the debuffs increase his damage and if you’re running willpower,it will heal him.
He is also a valid Iceman and Wasp counter, as he will not take damage from Coldsnap and Shock.
Vigilance buff does offer the ability to counter miss champions, but it takes a while to gain access to, and you’re not going to want to play him against Ebony Maw.
Has potential usefulness on Map 7 paths like Freezerburn, Buffed Up, and Tunnel Vision, but he’s likely going to cost you potions.
Requires extensive synergies with other champions not well suited to endgame content to be at his best. Even fully ramped-up, the damage does not feel like it is worth the effort, and requires flawless play or it all falls apart.
Requires a high-end skill set to play, like Doctor Octopus or Ghost, but without the big payoff those champions provide.
Heavy attack is crucial to his rotation, but is one very short hit, which makes it very limiting in stun-immune situations.
There are many nodes, especially in Act 5 and beyond, that will alter fight timing and make it very difficult to properly maintain Surfer’s buffs.
If you need the opponent to throw a special and they are being stingy it can throw off your timing and you might lose your buffs.
Surfer’s immunities are not actual immunities: he simply takes 100% less damage from Shock, Coldsnap, and Incinerate debuffs. So if you get in a situation where a node is boosting that damage of the debuff, he will still take damage. Furthermore, since he’s not truly immune, he will take damage from passive effects such as the EMP Shock and Mephisto’s Aura of Incineration.
Only healing is via the Willpower mastery, and there are only a few situations where you can gain a Coldsnap, Incinerate, or Shock debuff without actually taking a hit in the process. Not a very sustainable champion.
Unless prestige is a concern, there are too many other exceptional Cosmic champions vying for cosmic class specific rank-up resources.
Terrible for Buffet nodes and other situations where his buffs will be automatically removed.
Bring OG Hulk or Doctor Strange on your team when playing Silver Surfer.
Rotation will largely depend on the fight length and opponent’s health pool. If it’s a shorter fight, you may just want to heavy a couple times, build up to the SP3 and then to the SP2 to end the fight. In longer fights, you’ll want to use the SP1 a couple of times, then the SP3, then the SP2.
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