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 spenders, you need to play smart. This article will contain some tips.
If Mobile Strike is taking the same route as Game of War (and that is not unlikely, as both games are based on the same game engine) they could keep introducing new expensive to achieve functionality which would make the gap between spenders and non-spenders too large to compete, but at this moment that is not the case yet.
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 withstand solo attacks from most players without being zeroed in one or two hits. This means you could develop your account into a rally filler (one of the players that donates troops in a rally, but does not lead a rally) and/or into a trap account (an account which is stronger than it appears and will result in more losses for the attacking party when solo attacked by strong players).
A very important part of your game play is the alliance you are in. You should not underestimate the social aspect of the game and finding some likeminded people is important, but it is also important you have an active group of people as well. An active group means there are always plenty of people around to click Help, you work together towards reaching the price target in alliance and state events, share tips on game play, and can attack or defend together.
Good leadership makes sure everything runs smoothly in the alliance, you are always well aware of the important things happening in your state, and they make sure you have NAPs and family relationships with other important alliances.
It is important for an alliance to have at least a few large players who are able to solo attack other players, and can function as rally leaders. This is important to do serious battle, and to scare off any aggressors. These are normally big spenders as well.
Having spenders in your alliance means getting gifts, and these gifts can make a huge difference. It is nice to be in such an alliance, but in my eyes it is best to be upfront about not being a (big) spender and for example not having Gift mode. In my experience there are some alliances that make it a requirement to spend, but that is typically not the case, requirements are more commonly set on power.
If you are not happy with your alliance, do consider moving to another one. It happens often and is typically no problem.
Previously I wrote a guide on winning challenges and following the suggestions in that guide is a very important if you want to grow without spending a lot. One important factor in winning these challenges is having enough gold and speed ups to spend when the moment is right. To achieve this you need to pay attention both on ways to get speed ups and gold and to not spending them unnecessarily.
Basically I suggest you to never spend speed ups or gold unless you do it as part of winning a Challenge, which incidentally are also a great way of gaining speed ups and gold. Construction are, excluding the special construction Challenges during which you get 5 points for each building power point increase, not a good way to score points for challenges, which means I also do not suggest to spend speed ups or gold on them. Research and Troop Trainings can both be beneficial, depending on the type of Challenge and point requirements. I tend to play challenges that score points for both, have one or two large research project and use troop training for remaining required points.
Gifts are an important way of getting gold and speed ups, which are influenced by being in an active alliance, and some spenders help a lot.
Another important way is the gold tiles that are part of the rewards for winning State vs State Challenges. Don’t confuse these with the gold tiles that are always available. These contain small amounts of gold with a very low gather rate, and are in my eyes not worth it.
When your upgrades and researches are still small using your alliance loyalty to buy speed ups from the alliance store is a good way to get some speed ups as well.
There are some other ways, like having a gold mine and Facebook friends to gift each other gold, which I personally find too cumbersome to keep doing. I haven’t done the math, but my impression is that upgrading the gold mine is quite pricy. When building farms I do start these as Facebook invites from my main account so that my main account gets some gold and other goodies when my farms grow past certain milestones. It is not much, but something.
If you have not done so, read the guide I wrote on speeding up your research, construction and training speed. This is very important as well. Do not put much focus on the Research and Construction Time Reduction Gear, they are only useful at very early stages of the game and are made obsolete by decent speed up gear.
In many different ways it helps if you plan ahead. Especially in the early stages of the game when a lot of research and building upgrades will be small it helps if you plan which research and building upgrade you would like to start before signing off for the day, so that your account keeps growing when you are not online. This way you know what type and how many resources you need, so you can focus on gathering those.
Nothing is as annoying as losing something you have worked for very hard, so protect your investment. Whether it is the troops you have trained or the resources you have collected, protect them. The best way is too shield and if you have a reasonable amount of gold, making sure you are shielded whenever not in attack mode is not a bad usage of the gold at all.
If you cannot or do not want to afford shields the so-called fake rally is a reasonable alternative. A fake rally means you select some enemy city and set an 8 hour rally on that with as many of your troops as possible, including your commander. You typically chose a small city of small alliance, your intention is not to actually go through with the attack, but as long as your troops are rallied, they cannot be attacked, so when your city is attacked, your rallied troops will not be involved with the attack and your rallied commander will not be captured. There are some drawbacks of this method. Most important it is not protecting your resources, so anything above the warehouse levels will still be taken. Another possible issue is that you might find that your army is growing faster than either your Rally Capacity (determined by your War Room level) or your March Size (determined by your Headquarters level), leaving a small portion of troops unrallied, vulnerable to attacks. With respect to wall traps, it might be best to not focus on building these as long as your tactic for defense is to use a fake rally, as they are quite expensive and are easily wiped out unless you have a full wall supported by a large army.
You can partly compensate not being a spender by building some farm accounts. If you are not planning to be a big spender I suggest to build at least 4, one for each resource. I have written a guide dedicated to building farm accounts.
If you decide to build farms I suggest you are not going to be stingy with the resources (including coin) that you generate. Realize that you also benefit a lot from the money spenders spent, so especially if they ask for it, are generous with donating resources. And even if no one is asking for it, most players, especially the large ones, appreciate coin, as it is difficult to come by and necessary for gear, training t4 and the large research projects also have large coin requirements.
Reaching level 21 for your research facility is a hard task to complete, as it requires about 600,000 gold to get all the special ingredients for the Prison, Death Row and War Room (just to give the most expensive of requirements). This might not be possible, or take a very long time for non-spenders. Research Facility 21 is a requirement for unlocking tier 4 troops and for doing the largest level of most research projects. It is for sure good to have, but not a necessity. Without tier 4 troops you might not be allowed to join (all or some) rallies in your alliance (and you might not want to join the ones in which many tier 4 troops join, as your tier 3 will die first), but defensively there is actually no benefit in training tier 4 above tier 3.
If you are considering training troops, building and research, as a non-spender, you will be able to complete them, eventually, using the tips discussed in this guide, to speed them up and get the required resources. What is a much larger challenge is getting a decent set of gear and the mods to make the gear even better. This is normally a huge source of boosts for your army. The problem is that spenders get their materials either from being in the packs they buy directly, or being part of the huge amounts of crates that they get when buying packs. As a non-spender there is no easy way to get good materials. Gathering on the common resource tiles only very rarely gives any material besides the ones for the economic gear, which have zero combat value. If you have a chance you might focus on Challenges that have a pay out in materials or crates. Getting your Commander Research up will allow you to hit higher level rebels and do more damage, resulting in higher level and more materials. Also gathering on the rebel tiles will give more materials. Doing a lot of daily and alliance missions might be the easiest way to get materials, although the types are limited, you might still be able to manufacture some decent gear with them. Pay a lot of attention to new or changed way in which the game provides you with materials, for example the materials that are dropping during missions have changed over the past months, and around Easter temporarily Eggs dropped while gathering on standard tiles which had a chance of a standard material or a special material crate. Do whatever it takes to get those mats and mods.
Once you have them, it is important to spend them wisely. Ideally you want to wait until you have all level 6/golden materials so that you also get level 6/golden gear, but this might not always be possible. Also be careful when manufacturing gear with mixed quality level materials. It is great if you are lucky, but especially for non-spenders can be disastrous if you are not lucky. My advice is to by default only manufacture gear when you have all materials of the same quality level.
Besides the earlier mentioned gold tiles from the State vs State challenges it is in general nice to be in a state with lots of players, lots of activity. If your state is very inactive, which you might only notice when you lose most State vs State Challenges once they are introduced, you might consider starting over in a more active alliance. At this stage there is no way yet to move mature accounts between states (only before you upgraded your headquarters to lvl 6 you can use the beginner's teleports to move).
Pay attention to packs, price and contents change all the time. Personally like the full auto mode, as it is a gift that keeps on giving in the sense that once you buy it your free daily turn in the Shooting Range can be full auto, which basically gives you 10 times as much in return as the regular mode. Plus once every 10 days when you complete a target the crates tend to give way more in return as well. This pack could come by as cheap as 5 USD.
Something else to focus on in the beginning of the game might be a pack with Commander XP. Being able to level up your commander early on can really benefit your account development, for example by maxing out Research and Construction II early on.
Without spending big it will take longer, but you should be able to complete the upgrade of the regular buildings and do most research. Whether you are able to complete Research Facility 21 is very likely going to decide whether you can successfully be a rally filler (for which you will need tier 4 troops in the long run) or whether you can better focus on being defensively strong and win your battles as a trap.
For defense and solo attacks it will be important to get good gear and sufficient amount of mods, which is going to be one of the major challenges, as these are not easy to come by for non-spenders. You will however need the boosts they give to compete at a serious level.
Contributed by: GamesGuide on March 30, 2016