There is no obligation to spend money on this game, you can play for free, and almost all features are available for free players as well, although they might take some time to achieve or unlock. To be able to compete with (big) spenders, you need to play smart. This article will contain some tips.
01/17/2018 - www.youtube.com - www.games-guide.info
Some tips of how to possibly be able to compete without spending, a focus on the different ways to get combat boosts such as heroes, dragon, research, prestige levels.
Of course (big) spenders will always be stronger and for sure I am not going to be able to give any tips that as a non or small spender will allow you to grow so strong that you can beat a strong player in a solo attack. For me competing means that you are able to do significant damages to any player solo attacking you, and that is hard enough spending only little or no money.
Above I show part of a battle report of one of the times I was massacred during the recent Alliance Conquests.
The player in this situation attacked me with 184k troops, I defended with 541k troops.
The attacker used a combination of tier 10, 9 and 8 troops, I had tier 9 and lower.
All my troops were hospitalized, only 7k troops of my attacker were lost.
This is to illustrate amount of troops and tiers play a role, but the advantage (or compensation) you get by higher tier or more troops is only so much. The huge difference is made in combat boosts.
The exact formulas used to determine kills/losses are not known, at least not to me, but it is clear there area many boosts involved and if someone has all boosts a lot higher, the difference in kills will be huge.
Looking at the report we can check on the difference in boosts that influence the kills bowmen inflict: Troop Attack (208% vs 78%), Bowmen Attack (329% vs 155%), Army Damage (39% vs 23%), Bowmen Damage (132% vs 64%), Bowmen vs Infantry Damage (83% vs 62%), Bowmen vs Cavalry Damage (68% vs 52%).
No matter what formula the game uses, the difference of these combined boost differences is huge, and looking at the stats my impression is the difference in defense and health is even higher.
Because of the above I will focus in this guide on getting better combat boosts. Of course you should also keep working on unlocking better tier troops, and training lots of them, but this is relatively straighforward (although very expensive), getting good boosts can be more tricky.
Not everyone will agree with the choice I am making here, and you have to think for yourself whether the following is best for you.
My choice has been to give up on pink and blue heroes for now and focus fully on green heroes instead. The reasoning is that I do not plan to spend more money on the game in the foreseeable future and because of that choice it is very hard to upgrade the prowess levels of blue and especially pink heroes. However as I describe below, getting the green heroes to 3 star prowess level is still quite easy and this can give some great benefits.
Clearly the drawback of my approach is that it is a dead end, once you get all your green heroes to prowess level 3 you are stuck and besides marginally improving by adding EXP until you have maxed that as well, there is nothing you can do. You basically have to start from scratch to work on blue or pink.
For combat my focus is to get Sir Colgrevance (Cavalry Health 11.6%, Bowmen Health 17%, Infantry Defense 23%), Caradoc (Bowmen Attack 11.6%, Bowmen Damage 10%, Troop Attack 17%) and Sir Brunor (City Army Defense 16.6%, Trap Attack 37%, Stationary vs Cavalry Damage 33%) to Prowess Star 3 and EXP level 20. Higher EXP level is of course better, but you need to make sure you get all to level 20 first, because that level is required to unlock Prowess star 3.
The Hero EXP shouldn't be the biggest issue. You get it for slaying monsters and quite frequently it is a Merlin gift as well.
Getting enough Fragments for each of the heroes is more difficult. I did spend a small amount of money on the game in the past and this unlocked the master summon, which will help in getting more heroes and fragments. Most of my fragments I got in the Alchemist Corner in the Exchange building. Here I am often selling pink or blue fragments (in the Crucible) and purchase green fragments. An alternative method, which I have not used much yet, are using the redeem coins in the Merlin trials. Here you can purchase any green hero fragment you want, but the prize seems quite high to me, I prefer to use my coins to purchase materials.
Based on my experience in the Alliance Conquest event attackers are not using much siege, even during the first run when traps were still included. I don't have enough experience to determine whether this is also typically the case in real battle, but it would make sense, as a target likely has way more troops than traps, plus the troops are likely way more boosted than the traps. You can use this assumption by also not focussing on doing damage to siege troops, but rather to other troops, if you need to make a choice. This might be relevant from your dragon.
By leaving out Flaming Arrows I and Cavalry Claw II from your Defensive skills you have place for other skills (e.g. Infantry Backbone I and II), plus by not assigning any Assault Power to Flaming Arrows I and Cavalry Claw II, you can increase the Dragon Skills you do use further.
Also, do not forget to switch your Dragon Character before you go to battle.
If you keep killing monsters whenever you can (of course also use stamina to do some barb rallies daily), you will eventually get plenty of good scrolls, even orange ones. I would not use any gold to purchase scrolls, the gold is better used for other things, for example purchasing materials.
Getting materials is tough, and eventually you will need to spend gold on this, so keep exploring any and all ways to get gold, and don't waste it. Other ways I use to get materials are dismantling old equipment (you get back all the materials you used), slaying monsters (I always go for highest level, which can give various materials), rallying barbs (chest can contain various materials), alchemist corner (i get many scrolls I am never going to use, which I sell for credits in the Crucible, which I subsequently use to purchase materials), Black Market (these days often materials are sold below their price, so it is worth to try this before you decide to pay full price in the forge), Lucky Shot (if you purchase a pack the Lucky Shot will be active and it is a big benefit. One of the type of fields contains lots of materials), Praise (do the daily Praises to get those three material chests).
I want to pay a bit more attention to the Merlin Trials. You can purchase materials for the credits. Realize that you can claim these credits each day, even if you haven't played for a while. The amount you get is based on your rank. The price for materials in these merlin trial credits does not have the same ratio as the gold price. For example Animal Hide costs 20 gold or 19 Merlin Trial credits, and Sapphire costs 400 gold or 74 Merlin Trial Credits. So in gold Sapphire is 20 times as expensive as Animal Hide, but in Merlin Trial credits less than 4 times as expensive. When spending your Merlin Trial Credits on materials, pay attention to this and purchase the ones you benefit from most (in this example, purchase the Sapphires with your Merlin Trial credits).
Considering that orange equipment can have three gemstone slots, and there are gemstones available like the Valor set that provide three different combat boosts with up to 45% boost the boosts you can get from Gemstones are huge. Just a theoretical example, not even possible, but just to give an indication, if you would have 6 equipment pieces with each a lvl 6 Valor Gem, Jewel and Stone equipped, you would have 270% Cavalry Attack/Health/Defense, Infantry Attack/Health/Defense, Bowmen Attack/Health/Defense.
For non/small spenders it is not possible to get to that extend, but it is good to be aware of the potential and to try to make the most of it. If you have spent some money on the game the Lucky Shot is available. One of the fields of the Lucky Shot is focussed on Gemstones and although I also consider it a great way of acquiring materials, there is no real other way (to my knowledge) to get good Gemstones, so I use it to try to get good Gemstones as well. Try to get the ones with either a Troop boost, or with multiple boosts (e.g. Cavalry, Bowmen, Infantry Attack).
Alternative ways to get Gemstones (just the basic ones with one troop specific boost) are via the Merlin Trial rewards and sometimes they show up in the Alchemist Corner.
The mathematics behind upgrading gemstones is not so straightforward. They can be upgraded to a maximum level of 6 by assigning Refining Points. The required refining points increase with each level (and the increase in required points is bigger than the increase in added boost), and the required refining points are the same for each type of gemstone. In certain situations the choice will be simple, for example if you have a Stallion Gem level 4 you go from 8% to 16% Cavalry Attack if you increase to level 5. If you also have a Valor Gem level 4 you go from 20% to 30% Cavalry/Bowmen/Infantry Attack when going to level 5. Both cost 2080 refining points, so it is clearly better to spend your points on the Valor Gem. But whether upgrading a Stallion Gem from 1 to 2 is better or worse than upgrading a Valor Gem from 5 to 6 is not so easy to determine. One might consider whether the incremental benefit per refining point spent is better for one or the other to determine which one to upgrade (or which one to upgrade first).
If after reading this, or after thinking more about it you realize you have used your refining points in a suboptimal matter, don't worry too much. The refining points don't get lost, if you for example refine an Air Gem (I) with a Sentinel Stone (III) you will get an Air Gem (III) with 10 refining points on the bar to (IV).
Ideally you always keep research going and once you have done the important projects in Development and Economy, the Combat, Combat II and Defense categories are good to focus on.
Combat is a great tree with many benefits, including extra March Slots and increase in March Capacity and if you are a non/low spender you probably can keep going in this tree forever, but do not forget about the Defense and Combat II trees.
The City Defender Attack, Health and Defense boosts in the Defense tree give great boosts to all defenders, a good reason to also put some attention to the Defense tree.
The Combat II tree might seem expensive, but you also get a lot, for example the first project first level gives you 4% Troop Attack. Troop Attack boost is not something you can get in the Combat Tree if you have to go to the far end of the Combat Tree to even get 3% in boost from one project level and those are also far from cheap. Once you have reached University lvl 26, putting some focus on Combat II instead of Combat is advisable.
The boosts from building prestige levels can make up a very significant part of your total combat boosts. There are relatively easy to get for non/small spenders and should for sure have your focus. The banner requirements to upgrade a level become quite large and by the time you reach level 20 you will need more than 100 banners for most buildings, but by that stage you already have significant boosts. Keep working at acquiring them via gathering, portal monster and fallen knights. When writing this the Firelands has been closed temporarily, is about to be reopened. This used to be a great way to get prestige banners, perhaps it will be again. Keep an eye out for these and other ways to get banners.
I haven't done too much thinking about which buildings to focus on, I have devided to just level up the prestige levels of all buildings gradually. My reasoning is that not focusing on certain buildings has only limited benefit because of the strongly increasing prestige banner requirements for higher levels, and I believe as a more defensive player I will benefit from most boosts anyway.
The Dragon Spirit has limited influence on "real" combat, but there are some ways you can benefit from it anyway.
By just leveling up your Dragon Spirit you get some boosts for Bowmen/Cavalry vs Infantry Damage and Infantry vs Bowmen/Cavalry Damage Reduction. These start at level 31 and max at level 40 with 8% each.
Via the talent trees you can get some general troop boosts. The Berseker tree quite early on in the tree has a project that gives 5% Troop Attack, and complete at the end another Troop Attack project. Mage has two projects for Troop Damage and Knight for Troop Health.
Via the Undead Trader you can purchase 7-day accolades for Troop Damage (5%), Infantry Damage (10%), Cavalry Damage (10%), Bowmen Damage (10%).
There are ways to get combat boosts via Accolades, apart from purchasing them in the Undead Trader shop as mentioned above. Other ways are reaching 5 stars for the Heavy Plunder, Well Wishes, Resourceful Troops Achievements, by becoming the Supreme Champion in the Dragon Spirit Arena, by reaching certain paths in the Dragon, Equipment, Gemstone, Research or Building Merlin trials, or by buying certain packages.
I am mentioning these to be complete, but the boosts are very difficult to achieve for non spenders and quite small anyway.
Although it will be a very tough challenge to do any serious damage to attacking troops from the big players, I hope this guide gives you some ideas how to best use your available resources to increase the combat boosts of your account.