This guide is for free players and it is a "How I Played Guide"
After 7 days or so of playing of KA, and reaching level 20 yesterday, I'd thought I'd put together something along how I played/survived to reach level 20 while it is fresh in my mind, and while I am in MW event mode.
I am assuming you have read Ghost's beginner guide. Here is the game plan I used:
* Buy 3+ clerics and 3+ foot soldiers, swords (2A+/1D) and armor (1A/2D or 1A/3D), and hero weapon (3A/4D). Vault your gold.
* There will be a lot of weak players with 0A/0D, so proceed to farm them and stay at this ally level as long as possible, i.e., do not add allies unnecessarily.
* Also loot farm PvP units like Berzerker (11/7), Executioner (10/8), Skeletal guard, etc. Some of these units alone can be worth 300+ gold, so their density and low casualty rate is extremely valuable at these levels without the dangerous delay of unit buildings and upgrades. Even if you win zero gold, you will be ahead. So I prefer to attack over raiding for this purpose.
* The objective here is to build an army with high attack AND defensive stats with loot in levels 1-5 so you can defend your money buildings later.
* Do not add allies while you can farm the 0ATT/0DEF successfully at these levels. Avoid any player with any gem unit. Avoid any long battles or "wars" with any player unless you are certain to win profitably or have an edge (i.e., play tight).
* As you level, add all your skill points to Attack - do not add them to defense or hero points. Do not do quests yet - save all your valuable XP points for PvP. It is more effective to buy the armor and weapons from the store. Play aggressively.
Eventually by around level 5, this strategy will run out of steam as most folks have learned to vault their gold or spend their money. Everyone is raided and economies are small, unless you are lucky to find a weak farmer. So:
* You will then need to focus upgrading your army for levels 5-19. Decide the units you want to buy and upgrade promptly. Do not upgrade unit buildings unnecessarily.
* Increase you ally count gradually to 30, ensuring that you always have max units/weapons/armor for each ally level. This is so that you can visit each ally and receive 25 gold each day - a valuable income of 500+, expecially when you have a small vault and need gold quickly for expensive purchases.
* Good units include Dire bear, caravan, archer, etc. Remember that max allies is 5 x each level.
* It is not necessary to keep ally count low to "stay off the radar" as the rival list is quite wide, so there is no point.
* Make sure you build 2 of every money building.
* As you win gold, do the land expansion/building upgrade/vault expansion/building construction simultaneously.
* If you log in frequently, prioritize high frequency payout buildings over low frequency given the same ROI/construction/upgrade hours and vice versa. However do not upgrade cottages too high or go crazy upgrading farms.
* Do not build silos and other attractive high payout buildings or upgrades until you are strong.
* Build as many money buildings as you can as this will also add to your defensive score. There is no need to build defensive buildings if you are strong or if you collect gold from high output money buildings on time.
* By level 5, PvP is less attractive so put all your skill points into Hero and do all the quests in the proper order unless you need to upgrade your Hero weapons urgently. Do not farm maps out of order, as I found the drops were less valuable and consistent.The money and loot gained will exceed PvP or raiding generally.
* However be opportunistic if you find rich complacent players. I have won as much as $200 gold per attack during my occasional tournaments.
* Do not sell your barracks.
* Once you have gained the proper unit upgrades keep adding allies and continue to Quest. I find an optimal ally count to be around 40-45: enough players that will send you requests, and less players that will attack you recklessly. You want as many pending ally requests as possible as you will need 250 allies at the current End Game (level 50).
* Prioritize the purchase of defensive units over offensive units, especially to keep out gold players. Ally with dangerous players, and do not revenge any single attack unless guaranteed success. Do not attack any gem player no matter how juicy they may be. I have seen gem players go from 1500A to 2700A in a swipe of a credit card
* Continue to add your skills points to hero points - if you have the proper equipment & defensive density, defense skill points will be not be necessary at these levels.
* Continue to level until you reach the middle game adding at least 100 points to your defense and $50/hr to your economy for each level. As a general rule, I recommend that your defense stats should be around 100x your level, e.g., if you are on level 10 you should have a defense of 1000. I am on level 20, and I have a defense of 2000+.
* For levels 1-19, it is not necessary to use expensive units (i.e., you can use just the simple units mentioned above), so long as you have a high enough ally count to meet the target stats mentioned above. If you choose a moderate ally count (e.g., 30-45) you will need to upgrade your units to compensate with higher unit density for your lack of allies. However, by level 18-19, meeting these targets will become difficult even with max ally count and so you will need to upgrade your army beyond these levels.
I provide no representations or warranties that this will work for you but it worked for me. I am not disrespecting other strategies, just writing down my experience.
Hope this helps you and good luck. Add me
------------------------ MAY 3rd, UPDATE LEVEL 20-29 ------------------------
Having reached level 30, I'd thought I'd do another quick update while I am in another silly MW event (its a cool prize though) and while my KA player is in turtle mode.
By level 20, hopefully you have built a solid foundation for your defense (2000+), economy (IPH 1400+), and acquired the necessary hero points.
There are what I will call "Pivot Levels" in the game whenever Unit buildings become available. At each of these levels, decide whether any of these units are going to be pivotal to your strategy. If so then:
* Proceed promptly to upgrade the unit buildings immediately to the desired level to acquire the ability to buy these critical unit(s) - Avoid leveling further if you can until you have completed this task. You can also camp on the nearest new money building level so that you can upgrade and undertake construction at the same time, but it safer not to level up at all. If you delay, then each level of delay will expose you to stronger rivals who have acquired cheaper but still effective armies to test your defenses and your vault limits. By end game levels, expect any serious upgrading task to be thrice as difficult as you become exposed to competitive gem players and superior free players scouring a limited rivals list. Good luck with that
* In deciding whether these are pivot levels, have good human intel on end game players, and observe the composition and development of their armies and respective unit densities and reverse engineer the calculations.
Upgrading your opening-game army
* After you have completed the necessary unit building upgrades, then you need to decide whether to begin upgrading your army with these units or at a later date. If you begin upgrading your army immediately, and you choose end-game or near end-game quality units, then you will avoid investing in redundant large armies by the time you reach the end-game. Make sure to continually test the efficacy of your army build through PvP to avoid mistakes.
* By now you should have reached max (or near max) allies. As you level, increase allie and units accordingly. Add either the 0A/3D armor or the 1A/5D armor (good suggestion by ShawnBB) which costs 160 gold.
* UPDATE 6/6: Add at least 1A/2D or 1A/3D armor, as it look like the 0A/3D armor does not count as a "Unit" going into battle, which is a disadvantage.
* If you do this, then low-allied strategy players will have no advantage over your large army strategy. Further, a max unit large army will be your single most important strategic asset - it will be a gift that keeps on giving. You only need to worry about very large gem armies.
* If you are a heavy PvP player, divide your army into two - an attacking army, and defending army. If you do not do a lot of PvP, then a quality combo unit with good A/D stats is better.
* As you level, try to increase your DEFENSE stats by 300-500 per level.
Hero Strength v.Attack/Defense Skill Points
* Continue to put your skill points in Hero, but if you are struggling with raids/attacks, consider putting 1 point into defense for every 2 Hero skill points.
* With the amount of Hero strength you have accumulated, you will be killing 2-3x the number of monsters than a minimal-Hero strength player. According to my calculations, this mean 2-3x loot and gold earning potential per level over a minimal-Hero strength player.
* Your defense skill points will have a unknown factor: an unknown constant that will depend upon your level will be multiplied by your total defense skill points and then added to your total defense stats. The benefit of Hero strength is that its value can be more precisely quantified,e.g., you can work out how many more monsters you can kill.
* At the point where you are satisfied with your current rate of loot accumulation, or unhappy with the quality of loot compared to what you can buy from the store, then add your skill points to defense instead. At some point there will be diminishing returns - I am not sure having 90 Hero attack points at level 50 is that much better than having 65 Hero attack points.
Questing and PvE farming
* In levels 1-19, the drop rate is generally low, and questing in order is preferred. When the loot drop rate increases, especially at level 28, make sure you upgrade your hero weapons and armor. Weapons and armor provide around 40-50% of your Hero attack score, so it is important to do so promptly. If you find a good monster with consistent drop rate with high quality loot, you can choose to mine that monster, preferably when you can kill it efficiently in exactly 2 or 3 hits.
* I am still not 100% sure whether questing increases drop rate like in levels 1-19: I would recommend to continue to quest, but farm certain monsters if you find a good one for loot or cash as deemed necessary to meet urgent objectives. Then return to questing to be on the safe side.
* My experience has been that questing and/or farming specific PvE spots can generate 10-15 gold per XP point risk-free, and is generally more consistent than PvP play, even though very occasionally I have earned up to 2,000 gold per attack. This allows me to generate consistent profits from PvE alone of around 10-14k of gold per level. Use your XP points wisely to assist in large investments.
* Construct every money building possible without regard to cost. If you do this, your income will generally develop faster than those camping at lower levels because you will have more money buildings, and engage in PvE and/or PvP income from your larger armies and superior Hero strength.
* Upgrade lower level money buildings over higher level money buildings, as you will lose income while upgrading your high level buildings, reducing your ROI.
* Do not upgrade boost buildings too soon, as the opportunity cost in delaying money building upgrades will be high.
* Your IPH economy should be 3x the cost of your most expensive army unit, e.g., if your most expensive unit is 500 gold, then your IPH should be at least 1500. This will allow you to invest 33% of your income into economy, 33% income for defense, and 33% for discretionary spend (e.g., unit building upgrades, quests).
* If your army spending is more than 33% of your income, then either your units are too expensive or your income is too low. Upgrade your economy or use cheaper units or interim units - otherwise your development will suffer.
* Prioritize defense and economy over purchasing weapons and attacking units in the middle game. This will mean that your PvP capabilities will be limited in the middle game as a result, but this is an acceptable compromise. You will get plenty of PvP action in the end game
* I still do not recommend attacking gem players in the mid game. I have seen gem players with as much as 120,000-200,000+ gold, but I still do not attack these players, even if they have inferior stats. Even if a gem player has inferior stats, that player still has an edge over your army: some gem players know how to use that edge, while others do not.
* I strongly do not recommend that you use honor points in the middle game, as there are plenty of gold units with similar stats. The exception is that you are an EXPERT PvP player with a limited economy who can accumulate gold at a rapid rate with the use of such units, and can readily replace the lost honor points. Generally however, my approach has been to limit PvP play in the middle game, and keep the dry powder for the End Game or special situations like Events. Every army has reserves, and these are what they are as your rivals cannot see how much strength you can quickly accumulate at a moments notice because the amount of honors points you have is known only to you. Likewise, be wary of rivals with high PvP wins and no honor units in inventory.
* Another way to think of the Honor points is that it is your second "vault" which can only be spent for army build purposes - and therefore cannot be stolen by your rivals and can be safely accumulated indefinitely.
------------------------ May 16 UPDATE LEVEL 30-38------------------------
Your first serious Upgrade Challenge - Level 7 Wizard's Spire
* At level 30 or 31, you will need to camp here to obtain level 7 of the Wizard's Spire to enable the High Priest. While you are doing this, construct the rest of your money buildings if you haven't done so already. Level 7 will be the hardest at 65,00 gold to upgrade.
* To assist you in this upgrade, your economy should at least be 2500 IPH - the higher your IPH, the less time you will have unvaulted gold. I prefer a ratio of 30-40x my IPH to the upgrade cost above my vault value. For example, if my vault is 10K, and the upgrade cost is 65K, then assuming I have 10K in my vault, it will take approx. (65K-10K)/2500IPH=22hrs for me to save for the remaining upgrade. This ratio is important to keep low - the max value should be 40-50, or approx. 2 days of having unvaulted gold (it will actually be longer as maybe 20-30% of your IPH will just be potential income). The risk that you will be raided in the time you have unvaulted will be acceptable if you keep this ratio low, i.e., risk is a function of time.
* Your defense should be at least 8,000 and your vault at least 10,000. To achieve this high defensive score, use high defensive density units. Do not use units like illusionists (2A/9D) or too many of the rifleman (6A/14D) - every defensive point becomes marginally more expensive as you increase density, but this is the market price you must pay.
* Remain at max or near max allies depending upon the strength of your rivals - reduce allies or increase defense if your rivals are too strong.
* Always make sure you collect your gold on time - you can "sync" your money collections and/or time large PvE monsterkills to assist in building your capital for the upgrade as long as you do not level up as a result of excessive PvE. I do not recommend you to level up while you are undertaking this very important strategic upgrade - you will be fearful while carrying large amounts of unvaulted gold. Fear, like greed, are powerful emotions - so SIT TIGHT!!.
* UPDATE 6/4: due to the increase in max levels to 200, you do not need to accumulate High Priests immediately - keep it as a good option to increase density when necessary, especially if you are low to medium allied. You should still abide by the 33% rule where you should not overspend on your army - accumulate High Priests if your economy can support it, otherwise defer the investment or use cheaper interim units.
* The Spire upgrade still remains a good upgrade, but it is not absolutely critical given that you can still accumulate defense at a rapid rate with cheaper units and a good leveling rate if you are not camping. If you are camping for strategic purposes (as discussed later) these high density units will be very useful.
* Purchase more of these units if you have too much unvaulted gold - be careful about having too many of these units going into battle due to their high attack score. I would recommend that you combine these with higher attack units to provide protection for your High Priests - otherwise keep them around 5% of your units if you bring them to battle, and half of that if you do a lot of PvP.
The importance of Defense Skill Points
* By now you should have at least 30+ Hero strength points. As you level to 38, I would recommend to add every skill point to defense. Make sure you have the best Hero weapon and armor possible always while you are questing.
Buying Your Own Bank
* After you have started upgrading level 7 of the Wizard's Spire, continue to level up as quickly as possible to level 38 and construct both Lender money buildings. Do not camp on any of the interim levels. It is important to prioritize the construction of high output money buildings or upgrades first without delay IF YOU ARE CAPABLE, and then construct the smaller output buildings or upgrades later at your leisure while you continue to level. Alternatively you can camp at the level by upgrading or building lesser money buildings first to increase your IPH to reduce the time your gold is unvaulted (and therefore reduce your risk). However, it is generally less efficient to do it this way because as you level you will have higher income from PvE and more skill points to add to defense, making you stronger generally. Therefore you do not need to camp on level 38 to build your lenders.
* By level 30/31 you should already have a strong defense, so prioritize the upgrade of money buildings and increasing your defense with any free gold. There is no need to raid or PvP, especially if your are not strong. You will be carrying large amounts of unvaulted gold, and the last thing you want is a rival who visits you for some cold revenge at the worst moment possible. Play Tight.
* According to the "Law of Compounding Returns" every gold coin you save (or prevent from being stolen) and reinvest into your economy in Present Value terms will be worth multiple times as much in Future Value income.
The story of the turtle, the hare (easter bunny) and the busy beaver - the element of style
* Once upon a time, there was a turtle, a hare and a beaver.
* The turtle took its own sweet time. With each slow step it took, its rivals were getting further and further away such that eventually it could never catch up. While it was happy being the biggest turtle in its own pond, it never became serious unless it bought Catchup Nike shoes with real money.
* The Hare loved to collect easter eggs - running around gathering as much eggs as it could, merrily unaware that it was running up the mountain so quickly towards the cold and dangerous peak. All was fine so long as it could keep all its eggs hidden, collect its eggs on time or steal eggs from others. Whenever it failed to do this, the Hare found that it was taking two steps back for every step forward. The Hare realized that to get anything serious done, it had to sell a lot of its eggs to buy anything good.
* The Beaver loved to build, especially dams - the dam helped protect it from predators. It was always busy collecting food and rebuilding its dam. But it would never be happy with just one dam - it would always look to build bigger and bigger dams until it blocked the whole damn river.
------------------------ May 24 UPDATE LEVEL 39-45 ------------------------
Once again another MW event - will they never end?
Building your House
* Once you have finished building your Lenders, continue to L41 in order to commence building your Manors. The skills & experience you gained from upgrading the Spire and building the Lenders will provide a good foundation for this challenge.
* Now some will say - why undertake this when you can wait two months later until the vault is 250k? The Manor is actually an "efficient" building to construct at this time, and also the skills you gain will be important for even more challenging upgrades, i.e., "it is there".
* The income gained will also be very useful (as they payout huge amounts combined if you sync them, which will become very useful for 200K+ upgrades), and the buildings can be sold for dire situations.
* However in general I can never recommend to sell money buildings just to build other money buildings. I have sold minor unit and defense buildings out of impatience due to lack of space or to meet that last 2-3k, but otherwise have never had to resort to such measures out of fear of a weak defense or an over reliance on PvP income. This why we go first class on defense, and economy class on attack.
* For this task, your defense should ideally be at least 12K+, and higher if possible especially if you continue to level past level 45: you will be carrying huge amounts of unvaulted gold, and it will attract sharks. Delay land expansion and unit building construction - however try to continue vault upgrades if you can. Ideally your vault should be around 25K by now, and you will hopefully have a "real" IPH of around 3,000-3,500 excluding farms and cottages - so that you are able to generate around 100K per 24 hours inclusive of PvP and PvE income, such that each manor will take approx. 2-3 days.
* Be aware where whale territory will start: for example if whale territory starts at level 50, start your Manor run at say level 44 or 45 to allow a few levels of headroom for PvE income to generate the necessary savings.
* Continue to add to defense skill points during this phase.
* As I always recommend, maintain a max or near-max army.
* Build as many defense buildings as you can while you are saving for the manor. Place them around high output money buildings that you do not collect on time. They do not stop raids, but they will make it more expensive for the raider.
* There still is no need to construct or upgrade boost buildings during this period. However if you have a very cheap lumbar mill it may be worthwhile to build that.
* As always do not attack or revenge gem players or write rubbish on their walls.
Lock-box Event Guide
* Here is the original CC description
* Try to open as many boxes as you can at the beginning of the event
* If you are a weak player, have too many boxes, and have a lot of unvaulted gold (i.e., "the trifecta") you will get attacked and raided often during the events. So make sure you only have just enough boxes if you are weak and/or low allied.
* Accumulate boxes from PvE in the first 1-2 days, and then you can PvP as more rivals begin to accumulate them as well.
* High XP ( I.e., multiple hits) monsters will give you a higher chance of a drop box.
* Look for players with event items in their inventory. You can get boxes both from direct attacks and raiding on buildings.
* Do not expect to get 9-10 items unless you are using gems, or are very lucky, so enjoy what you do get.
* Expect to level 2-3x if you are participating in an event.
* Entering whale territory - the End Game: do you really want the End Game? The importance of leveling up rapidly when entering No-Man's Land.
* All roads lead to Rome so long as you continue to accumulate loot.
* Addendum for gem players - unit recommendations, building recommendations.
* Final skill point allocation
* Understanding the KA PvP system - a unified theory
* Army build: how to determine if your army is too expensive for your economy - building an efficient low casualty army. Big is not always better if you cant afford to use it - the biggest newbie mistake.
* Honor farming - converting excess gold into honor points.
* How important are casualty rates? Managing your Army build, weapons and armor efficiently to control casualties: going beyond the Water Temple.
* What does the "Casualty Rate" actually mean - a misunderstood concept.
* How KA allocates casualties amongst army units.