Quick Not-in-Depth Tierlist based on impressions 100%ing the game, as of Mercenary Patch. Will take into account synergies, level 1 ability, level 3 ability, stats, and some special perks for some units.
P.S. I don’t name every synergy for each unit, only the more notable ones for what I’m explaining.
Edit as of Orb Update: Changed some stuff to account for Orb and Item update, but haven’t tested everything.
Main Update Thoughts: Healers are a lot worse lategame because they don’t heal the whole snake anymore. Vagrant still good unit. Large nerf to Psykers overall. Sorcerers significantly stronger than before due to the systemic nerf of enemy Elite damage. Mercenaries worse at income, but have more purpose because of item upgrading. Better early income makes the earlygame way less of a nightmare on higher NG+’s.
S-Tier: These are super-effective in general, often fitting in even without synergies.
Here lies the Cleric. Moved to B-Tier.
4-cost disrupting unit that periodically pulls enemies into a white circle. The reason this is so good is because it is on a relatively low cooldown, and the effect protects you extremely well against every enemy type. Scales extremely well off attackspeed because it can permanently trap enemies in the white circles.
- The Awakening Perk will also give this attackspeed, as long as you are lucky, or only have Psykino as a mage/sorcerer.
- Technically Fairy works too, but this is too RNG-heavy.
- Not sure about the level 3 ability. It will do damage and push enemies out, but this makes it harder to perma-stun enemies, and pushing them out may hit you.
3-cost unit that curses all nearby enemies with spawning 2 critters on death for 6 seconds. This might not sound that good, but you get an insane amount of critters in later rounds as you quickly kill entire waves of enemies, which will deal with any troublesome enemies that you don’t instantly kill.
- Swarmer Synergy adds an extra hit to critters, so you do significantly more damage.
- Similarly, the Spawning Pool and Hive synergies are insanely good synergy.
- Alternatively, taking the Baning Burst which explodes your critters for high AOE damage is also nice.
- Level 3 ability triples critters spawned, which naturally triples your damage.
2-cost enchanter unit that is tanky and gives 20% damage and armor to all allies. This is just a really easy-to-slot-in unit, that will help any build.
- Combine with another enchanter for an extra +15% damage.
- Level 3 ability super-amplifies his buffs for a total of +50% damage, +30% attack speed, +30% movement speed, and +50% defense to all allies.
2-cost Sorcerer that spawns long-lasting aoe zones that bounce around the map. This seems a bit insignificant, but having sorcerer multi-casting makes enough to cause most enemies to be constantly taking damage at the same damage rate of Pyromancer/Cryomancer.
- More attackspeed/multicasting from sorcerer will benefit this greatly.
- Moved up to S-tier because of the significant nerfs to Elite enemies, increasing survivability.
A-Tier: These are usually good and will be a focus point in your runs.
4-cost Ranger Nuker that shoots a high-damage massive aoe shot. Basically the ranger equivalent of Elementor. Building around the Cannoneer will carry you against large waves.
- Level 3 is effectively a slow + 2.5* damage multiplier.
2-cost unit that acts as a good distraction against enemies, akin to Psykino. The cooldown is quite long, however.
- Level 3 is just adding large amount of damage to it, but this is actually good compared to the Psykino one.
1-Cost Psyker Explorer that shoots a weak single-target projectile. However, it is extremely tanky for a 1-cost unit, with double the HP of most other units. It also does double damage when crashing into enemy units, making it an amazing head of the snake.
- Explorer Synergy will drastically increase damage and attackspeed based on number of synergy sets, making this an actually strong unit if you build around it.
- It should be noted that by itself, Vagrant gives Psyker and Explorer synergy, thus starting at 2 sets for the purpose of Explorer.
- Level 3 Vagrant will also give increase damage and attackspeed based on number of synergy sets, stacking with the Explorer Synergy.
- The update effectively lowers synergy with ranger and warrior in exchange for higher early stats and the Psyker orb. The lack of Psyker 4 existing does nerf the overall scaling of a Psyker build, unless orbs are the focus.
1-Cost Mercenary that gives +1 interest for every 10 gold. This means you can keep compounding more and more gold past the normal 25 gold +5 interest maximum. In addition, is an early mercenary which enables you to start picking up gold from the ground, equating to about 7 per level, which is a significant amount early. Later on, mercenary will scale since more enemies equates to more gold.
- There is skill in the decisionmaking for when to keep greeding to accumulate more gold, and when to roll for more power.
- It’s easy to write this off as a bad unit, but this is an extremely profitable investment. Being slightly weaker earlier(if you REALLY needed that 1 gold or unit space), means you are significantly stronger later.
- The level 3 is pretty bad. I would not waste time trying to get it.
2-Cost unit that spawns 2 high-damage aoe bombs. This is just a strong damage unit, especially early, but has slightly bad attackspeed.
- The level 3 is alright, but just a nominal damage and aoe increase.
3-Cost Enchanter that makes your allied projectiles chain lightning at 20% damage to 2 enemies. This is significantly helpful at killing groups of enemies when using any projectile-heavy team composition.
- Rangers and Rogues fire a large amount of projectiles to make the best use of this.
- Level 3 hits 4 enemies and procs AOE effects, which is slightly better.
3-cost Mage Nuker that creates an extremely large centered aoe with high damage, but has slow attackspeed. This is an extremely good aoe unit, especially if you can increase its attackspeed or just survive long enough to let it attack.
- Nuker synergy will scale it to lategame, but isn’t too necessary since the aoe is already massive.
- Great synergy with Chronomancer to increase attackspeed and also work towards Mage 3.
- Level 3 slows enemies for 60% for 6 seconds, which helps to stall until the next attack.
4-cost Healer that spawns 5 healing orbs. It has a relatively slower attackspeed compared to Cleric. Very consistent healer, especially if skipped Cleric in the past.
- Taking Cleric+Priest will keep your guys extremely healthy since they give Healer 2 and spawn many orbs.
- Level 3 provides a resurrection on-death buff to allies, which can be useful assuming you’re having units die.
3-cost Ranger that shoots 3 arrows and pushes enemies. The fact that it shoots 3 arrows helps synergize with effects based on projectiles, such as Stormweaver. Pushing enemies is extremely useful since it helps keep them under control, even disrupting orange and white enemies.
- Level 3 shoots 15 projectiles and pushes harder, which is good for the above reasons.
2-cost Rogue+Ranger that consistently shoots dual shots forward. This is just an extremely solid unit that will shoot what you want it to shoot (especially early white enemies).
- Its synergies help connect rogue and ranger together, which can double down on the Ballista perks.
- Level 3 just increases its DPS a significant amount.
B-Tier: These are alright units and will fill out slots on your party, but aren’t usually carries.
1-cost unit that provides forgiveness against some damage by making a healing orb (seems to target lowest flat HP unit). Ideally you don’t take damage at all, but that’s nearly impossible especially when you have longer snakes against Elite enemies.
- The level 3 ability is still great, but not even close to as good as before. Spawning 4 healing orbs each time means you can effectively keep your party healthy, but it requires more effort than an all-heal and is worse for longer snakes that need to heal more units.
- Healer synergy is actually solid as of the orb update for later waves, where more enemy appear.
3-Cost unit that constantly deals damage in an aoe around it at moderately good range. The main drawback of this unit is that it is very dangerous to use it as a carry since you have to constantly be near enemies with it, and the damage it does takes too long to do.
- The Unleash Perk makes this a great unit since it increases range and damage, able to eventually carry a round in damage if it takes long enough.
- Level 3 makes enemies explode, dealing significant damage, solving the problem of damage taking too long.
4-Cost Mercenary Rogue with extremely high base damage that also chains 5 times with low cooldown. This means that it a very effective DPS dealer for rogues, even without crits.
- The level 3 is only useful with crits, but will basically destroy every nearby enemy if it does crit.
- Very good synergy with rogue and rogue perks since it benefits off crits and chains.
- The Mercenary class allows this to replace early mercenaries later on in the run, or even work towards Merc 4 if your team allows it.
2-Cost Mage Enchanter that increases attackspeed of allies by 20%. This is very effective on most units at increasing DPS, but can be awkward to fit into a build.
- The Level 3 Increases DoT speed by 50%, meaning it works well with Voiders.
3-Cost Sorcerer Curser that prevents 5 nearby enemies at medium range from using abilities for 6 seconds. The problem with this class is that it is not too strong if you have enough DPS to just kill enemies outright. Also, the curses can be blocked by the frontline red units along with the medium range can make it difficult to silence the units you actually want to silence like Elite backline enemies.
- Relies heavily on positioning and sorcerer to function properly.
- Can be used on bosses I believe, making them easier to deal with.
- Level 3 just makes it do damage, which isn’t too significant.
1-cost Sorcerer that serves as a great early-game unit to pivot off of. The damage from the projectiles it creates can carry you through the early rounds, but falls off a bit later.
- Level 3 basically makes this scale to lategame through attackspeed and projectiles, if you plan to keep it.
- Sorcerer Synergy creates more projectile spawners, which will serve as consistent damage in sorcery builds.
3-cost Sorcerer that is basically a later-version of Arcanist. Refer to above.
- Level 3 also makes it better and detonate at the end of their path, helping with AOE.
2-Cost Mage that provides reliable damage early in the game. I would not keep this too long unless going for mage/nuker synergies, but it is a great early unit to pivot off of.
- Level 3 just chains the projectile twice.
4-Cost Ranger Swarmer that spawns 3 critters on killing an enemy. The main problem is that is competes with other allies for kills, so in some builds it may just do nothing.
- The best part of this is that it synergizes greatly with Infestor for Swarmer 2. Being able to kill enemies with it is not uncommon, helping to generate more critters.
- Level 3 makes this actually an amazing unit since it only has to hit enemies to spawn the 3 critters, rather than kill.
3-Cost Mercenary Voider Curser that curses 3 enemies nearby for slight DoT.
- This can serve as a substitute unit for Mercanary, and for Curser/Voider synergy.
- The level 3 makes this great against bosses, since it multiplies damage by 50 if cursed 3 times.
4-Cost Nuker that basically just makes a large aoe field that does good DPS at an alright cooldown. Works well, but not too notable aside from being a standard aoe unit.
- Level 3 is literally just double damage.
3-Cost Rogue that deals some piercing damage that then causes them to take some DoT. It’s an alright unit, but nothing too spectacular.
- Level 3 just makes the DoT 8x stronger on crit.
3-Cost Psyker Enchanter that hurts itself slightly to give all allies +4% damage. Can be used with healers to make it constant damage increase over time with little drawback. Bit of a caveat is that any damage buffs on it will increase damage to itself. Is tanky.
- Orb Update changes make it actually usable at Level 3.
- The Level 3 increases ally damage by +12% per cast while doubling HP, making it incredibly tanky.
3-Cost Healer Psyker that stores damage it takes and spawns a healing orb after it reaches 20% of Psykeeper’s HP. It is tanky and does double damage on enemy collision, so it makes a good snake head.
- Is less of a healer and more of a tank now, though it contributes towards Healer 2.
- Used to be a great all-healer, but now is a battering Ram to spawn healing orbs.
- Level 3 distributes the damage at 2x multiplier to enemies whenever it heals also, making it potent at return-damage.
2-Cost Psyker Sorcerer that shoots small aoe fields at medium range and low cooldown.
- Psyker synergy doesn’t help it much, nerfing its damage potential compared to before.
- The level 3 makes it infinite range and doubles damage.
3-Cost Forcer Warrior that pushes enemies in an aoe away. This can be used as an emergency gap-widener if you put it around 2nd-4th from the tail of the snake.
- Level 3 is basically damage on enemy wall-collision from this effect.
4-Cost Sorcerer Nuker that makes a zone that periodically does aoe damage. The problem is that it’s super slow and doesn’t do that much. Is a way worse Nuker than the Cannoneer. Also very long cooldown.
- Basically relies completely on Sorcerer to be a good unit. Will be a solid damage unit for sorcerer-based comps.
- Level 3 doubles the number and speed of explosions, making it a bit more consistent at heavy cost.
C-Tier: These relatively suck or are just alright. You pick them to fill synergies.
1-Cost Rogue standard unit you take early, and toss when you get a better rogue.
- Level 3 makes it have scaled damage based on chains, which will do enough to keep.
- Works best with Ultimatum perk that increases chains.
2-Cost Curser Rogue that curses 6 nearby enemies for 6 seconds to shoot out 4 knives on death, at 2 second cooldown. However, the knives do garbage damage and will rarely usefully hit enemies.
- Level 3 makes knives seek enemies, so it’s slightly better, but still really janky.
2-Cost Rogue Swarmer that spawn 2 critters on crit. This is basically a weaker version of Corrupter, that doesn’t even reliably give critters.
- Good to get Swarmer 2 with Infestor.
- Level 3 still isn’t that good since it spawns 2 critters if Beastmaster is hit.
2-Cost Warrior Rogue that shoots a fan of 5 knives out with low damage. Most shots miss enemies, meaning it’s a glorified Scout.
- Level 3 makes attacks track so it’s slightly better.
1-Cost Ranger which is just the basic Ranger equivalent of Scout. Toss when get better ranger.
- Level 3 makes it bounce off walls 3 times, which at most triples the damage in an aoe fashion.
2-Cost Healer that creates a healing zone that restores 20% hp of an ally. The problem is that the target it chosen randomly(including full HP units), and only heals once every 3 seconds in the zone. Super inconsistent healer.
- Gives Healer 2 with Cleric early.
- Level 3 makes it more reliable, but still pretty jank since it only heals 2 units twice as fast.
2-Cost Ranger that is basically a scout with a 20% chance to summon a pet.
- The pets are alright, but too amazing like swarmer critters.
- Level 3 summons 3 pets that bounce off a wall once.
3-Cost Mage Rogue that has an incredibly janky projectile that spirals out with medium damage. Pretty inconsistent.
- Good cross between mage and rogue for synergies.
- Level 3 makes the flight pattern hit easier and faster.
2-Cost Curser Warrior that does a small aoe stun with low damage. The problem, as with most warriors is that the ability will go off before the enemy gets too close. Put it in the middle to help mitigate this.
- Level 3 makes enemies take double damage from all sources while stunned.
4-Cost Nuker Warrior that throws a blade at every enemy in range(up to 64) at low aoe damage at low range and medium cooldown. The range is rather low, making it not too strong.
- Nuker can help increase its effect.
- Level 3 makes it do more damage per enemy hit, so it does well against clumped enemies.
4-Cost Warrior with High damage aoe at low range and relatively low cooldown. Suffers from same problem as swordsman of activating on few enemies.
- Level 3 quadruples the damage.
3-Cost Sorcerer Mercenary that does 2x Gold damage at any range to a single enemy. The problem with this is that trying to play around doing high damage with this class involves saving money without scaling it like Merchant, so you have to decide between doing damage and rolling for better other units. Overall, since it is single target it is better to just roll for units.
- Can be used to give Mercenary.
- Sorcery synergy makes it effectively attack more enemies, but many sorcerers makes a squishy comp that needs good aoe.
- Level 3 makes it also multicast, which is great. However this falls back into the dilemma of spending money to roll for level 3 units, or just keeping gold to make it do damage.
3-Cost Conjurer that makes turrets every 8 seconds, shooting low damage projectiles at enemies. Not a spectacular unit, but can be good for dealing with far-away enemies early in the game.
- Level 3 triples turret amount and gives more damage and atkspeed.
3-Cost Curser that curses 5 nearby enemies for 6 seconds to create small aoe void rifts on death. However, these do low damage and only last a second. Also the curse range is only medium length. Overall, does very little.
- Can combine with other cursers if you really want to.
- Level 3 only doubles the rift size.
F-Tier: These suck really bad. You really want a synergy to bother running any of these.
1-Cost mage that serves as the base unit of the mage class. However it does extremely little even when trying to scale it to later. You’re best off replacing it very early.
- Level 3 is absolute trash. Makes self invulnerable for 6 seconds but also can’t attack, meaning it does nothing for 6 seconds every time it casts this.
- That being said, you can kinda use it as a battering ram to knock enemies away while invulnerable if you put it at the front.
4-Cost Enchanter Healer that increases a random ally’s atkspeed by 100% and heals them for 6 seconds. The problem is that this is random, making it a trash healer, and not a great enchanter either.
- You would only run this to get Enchanter 2 and Healer 2.
- Level 3 only makes it affect one extra unit.
2-Cost Mage that does medium damage at horrible aoe range around it. It’s pyromancer but worse.
- Level 3 slows enemies inside the range, but doesn’t really solve the range problem.
- If you want to make this a good unit, you need the Unleash perk to increase aoe size.
1-Cost Warrior that serves as the base unit for warrior. Suffers greatly from blindness and really hard to actually hit enemies with its aoe. Try to put in around second to last to hit things.
- Level 3 actually makes it a passable damage dealer, but still suffers horribly at hitting enemies.
4-Cost Sorcerer Forcer that gives a random unit an invincibility shield. The problem is this is random and the shield is super small. You can almost never get good use out of it with a large snake.
- Level 3 just does it to 2 units which doesn’t help the problem.
2-Cost Mercenary that does nothing on it’s own. On picking up gold that drops from Mercenary synergy, shoots 4 homing bolts in each cardinal direction that do low damage. The damage is atrocious, as is the scaling.
- The only redeeming trait is that this is a 2-Cost mercenary, helping to enable the gold generation Synergy. Replace ASAP.
- Level 3 does nothing since the damage is negligible anyway.
3-Cost Swarmer that may be the worst 3-cost unit in the game. Spawns a single critter every 1.6 seconds, which is a long time given how much damage one critter does. The DPS is so low that it is irrelevant. By comparison, the Infestor is the same cost and will spawn multiples of dozens more than it in the same time frame.
- Only thing it does is give Swarmer synergy.