Recently there were several post about development/recommendations for new players, but I found that I disagree with some important things that has been said there. So I decided to write my own guide for new players.
Earning gold is the single most important thing early on. Getting a legendary monster to level 100 requires ~2 million food, or 50 million (provided you can activate a guardian at 26 million now and then). Add the cost for habitat building and relic fusion, you're easily at 100 million per monster. Add costs to upgrade temples, rune building, lab, island purchases.
Also player progression depends on gold. Most buildings give you 0.5-1 XP per gold spent, and upgrades are expensive. For example, at level 65 you'll need over 200 million XP to progress one level.
A good economy will give you north of 100 million per day, but it takes a lot of time and effort to get there. And this is how you do it.
Start a Panda farm. Build 20 nature habitats (level 4 or better) with 60 Pandakens producing gold. Add boosts for nature and fire in the middle. Upgrade your Pandakens equally, start with level 8, then 10, then 15, up to level 30-40. This should earn you about a million per hour, and give you the gold you need to buy a few islands, get your rune building and your lab up a few levels, and activate the guardians. Pandakens are by far not the best gold producing monsters, but only Pandakens allow you to populate your farm in a few hours, as hatching/breeding takes only 30 seconds. (Sell the Greenasaurs.) Some players suggest other ways, like Dragonian Beast farms. Seriously? It takes days to breed one Draconian Beast. It takes a little more than an hour to breed 60 Pandakens.
As long as you're under the habitat cap of 90, you are able to add habitats with every level you progress. So that Panda farm can remain in operation while you add epic and legendary monsters. During the first weeks and months of gameplay you'll harvest mostly your Panda farm. Once you have a reasonable number of legendary monsters, more and more income will come from legendaries. Feed all legendaries to level 50 (max income) and put gold runes on the ones you don't use for fighting. Try breeding legendaries with high gold value (Exo Skeel gives 305 gold per minute). Don't extract all your duplicates to rank up monsters, there is no hurry to do so. Get a few extra Timerions, Metalheads, VoltaiKs thento extract/rank them later, but keep them producing 305 gold per minute for a good long time.
Until you produce ~50 million per day, don't spend too much food to develop monsters over their max income level (50 for legendaries, 45 for epics, 40 for rares etc.). Spend your gold as follows:
- First priority are habitats and islands. Always use the maximal number of habitats, depending on your player level, always upgrade non-legendary habitats at least to level 4 to hold 3 monsters. By the time you have 10-15 legendary monsters you should earn enough gold through your Panda farm to upgrade your legendary habitats to level 2 (10 million per habitat) and later to level 3 (25 million).
- Then, build boosts. Yes, all 36 of them. It's worth it as soon as you can boost 3 habitats of that element.
- Get your rune building to level 7-8, as you'll occasionally acquire runes up to this level. And you'll want to equip them. Get the lab to level 2.
- Upgrade your temples to level 5 or so.
- Activate your breeding guardian, and use it every 5-6 days (basically as often as possible) until the speedup is at 80%. Activate the food guardian, too.
- The food guardian will eventually double your food production, but it costs 26 million per activation. As soon as you spend 15-20 million per day on food you'll want your food guardian ready, and active every 5 days.
- Once you earn about 50 million a day you can start upgrading the temples to max, and produce food to develop your monsters past level 50.
Until you have enough gold to buy a lot of runes, use all your gold runes on your gold producing monsters. Never use them to craft other runes. (If you want, you can build your Panda farm using only Pandakens that have 3 rune slots.)
Whenever you have spare worker capacity, upgrade (non-legendary) habitats to level 7. It costs nearly nothing, and those extra monsters help with gold production.
If you want to spend money on the game, get a gem package early on and buy worker huts, You'll want all 5 of them as early as possible. Next purchases are hatching slots (open all 4) and the Ultra Breeding Tree. For slots and the breeding tree there are sometimes discounts. If you don't want to spend money, no problem - but do save your gems. Don't waste them to speed up upgrades, unlock rune slots, buy monsters, whatever else, before you have 5 workers and at 3, better 4 hatching slots.
Go easy on the level up offers. Most of them are not worth the money and/or the gems. Some are outright cash grabs.
Never spend money or gems on the many gambling schemes. If a chest promises a random legendary monster up to rank 4, fully expect to get a crappy unranked monster, because that's what you'll get almost every time. The most sensible way to spend money is to buy the packages of 1700 gems if they're discounted, which gives you ~7 monsters (249 gems per monster). That translates into 7-8 $ per monster, or 8-9€. Always compare offers to that baseline.
Never buy tokens for mazes or 72h challenges. Those offers are usually horrible value.
As for gems, again, worker huts, breeding and hatching slots should be in place before you start buying monsters. Then, if you're on a tight budget, buying monsters and cells (cells during cell week events) is your priority. Most monsters can be bought for 249-299 gems when on offer. And most monsters are on offer at some time.
As for the other ways to spend gems, here is what I think about it:
- Food/gold: Never. Just don't. It's not worth it, unless you're a millionaire.
- Heroic orbs: The "50 for 20 gems" and "60 for 22 gems" offers translate into 0.38 gems per orb, or 760 gems for an unranked warmaster. IMO this is a good option for players that buy gems once in a while, but f2p players may be better off to avoid those.
- Relics: You can get decent relics with some patience. Don't spend gems on relics if you're f2p.
- Speedups: Avoid spending gems to speed up buildings, hatching, breeding, ranking up etc. Sometimes you can spend a gem or two to get something done, but that's it. Even on breeding events, consider that the chance to breed a legendary is usually about 5%. So if you spend more than 10 gems per breeding attempt (to speed up breeding or hatching), you're getting a bad deal (expected spending is more than 250 gems per successful attempt).
- Islands: Here you'll want to spend a few gems. If we have a typical 10-day island with say 4 legendary monsters, then spending a total of 50-100 gems may enable you to get 1 or even 2 extra legendary monsters, usually by buying monsters once they are in the 20-40 gem area.
- Rune slot unlocking: Runes are extremely important. If you get a good legendary monster you'll want to unlock the remaining rune slots, but you'll also want to wait until there is a discount to do so. But don't unlock slots for breedable monsters (try breeding them again until you have them with 3 slots), rare/epic monsters (they become all but obsolete very quickly) and legendary monsters that are of no big importance.
- Rune swiching: Try to avoid switching runes if it costs gems, but sometimes it's not avoidable. Wait until there is a discount.
A combat team (3 monsters) should always have one denier (=monsters that have an AoE stun/freeze/possess/blind move, 3 speed runes), one damage dealer (2-3 strength runes) and one supporter (3 team speed). If you don't have a supporter, a secondary attacker will do (team speed or strength). Combinations can vary depending on the book restrictions, but you always want your denier to be faster than the fastest monster on the other side and hits all enemies with an AoE deny move. If you can stun/freeze/possess them, they can't harm you. Then your supporter follows up. Supportes are monsters that inflict some useful status/torture effects, which can be another AoE deny move, immunities/evasion or other deny-type effect (like "can't attack").
There are 2 basic strategies:
- Chain deniel. Your denier hits first, then come the enemy monsters, then your supporter imposes another deny move, or the denier has a different deny move.
Example 1: Cavenfish (AoE Freeze/Stun) as denier, Timerion as supporter. You face enemies with 1 stun immunity. Cavenfish freezes, damage dealer does damage, Timerion takes out the stun immune monster (stop time), then Cavenfish stuns the rest.
Example 2: Lumoona (AoE possess) as denier, Scrap Warrior (AoE total blind) as supporter. It is crucial that Scrap Warrior hits after the last enemy monster. So Lumoona possesses all monster, your damage dealer hits, then Scrap Warrior blinds all.
- Torture effect combination. If you're facing monsters with much higher levels, many torture effects are your friend.
Example: Al Canine, Learnean, any monster that inflicts bleeding, quicksand, ignite etc.
Al Canine stuns and applies sunburn. Learnean inflicts Poison, Burn and Stamina Leak to all enemies. Then the supporter adds quicksand or bleeding. That hits every monster with 4 different torture effects. Even a tough monster will be hit with 2 or even 3 of them. Regardless of how much health they have, they will survive only very few turns.
Completing dungeons is easily the most important combat-related objective, as they give gems, runes and monsters for breeding. Unfortunately it's pretty much impossible to complete dungeons for new players, but you can do it if you have just a few decent legendary monsters. I was able to complete almost all dungeons (except the ones for element cells) after a month of playing, and here is how it is done:
- Get at least 1 legendary monster in every element and book. Even better, have one denier, one supporter and one damage dealer in each element/book. Obviously you have little choice as far as event-driven monsters are concerned (monsters from mazes, islands and races), but if you buy monsters for gems, make sure you add monsters in books/elements where you're weak. Team war coins can be used to add very good monsters in whatever element you require.
- Keep all monsters at the same level. Do you hear me? KEEP THEM AT THE SAME LEVEL. 99 out of 100 new-ish players don't manage to do this. Make sure you're #100 The reason is, dungeon difficulty (level of monsters you'll face) depends on your monster with the highest level, but ignores the level of the eligible monsters. Example: If your best monster is level 50, you'll face level 65 monsters in book dungeons (and up to level 85 monsters in other dungeons). If you have a level 50 Fire monster but only level 30 Light monsters, then you'll face level 65 monsters anyway in an all-light book dungeon and you won't get far. So the way to go is to keep ALL legendary monsters (that you use in fights) at exactly the same level.
- Make acquiring deniers a priority, and equip them with speed runes. The only way to beat monsters that are 30 levels higher than your best monster is to make sure they never attack you, so you'll want to stun/freeze/possess/blind them.
Forget about PvP. The league system forces you into a 50% win rate, and rewards for individual battles do not depend on the leaague. The end-of-season rewards are (currently) not good enough to merit a lot of effort. You might want to place some very weak monsters on defense (like level 4 common monsters), because the more battles you win on defense, the fewer battles you win on offense.
Team wars are important. But don't break the "keep all monsters at the same level" rule just to win an extra battle in a team war. Your teammates will understand. Speaking of team wars, try to find a team that runs back-to-back wars and requires a minimum participation in war. Good teams will bring in 3000+ war coins per month, that's 3 legendary monsters (bodyguards).
Runes are more important than monsters. Monsters are interchangable, and even the most OP monsters are nothing without good runes. As mentioned above, speed runes are most important. Then come team speed, then strength. There are a few monsters that will use good stamina/life runes, like tanks (Ouros/Igursus/Cryotan) with life runes, infi-extraturn monsters (VoltaiK/Prince Charmless) that use stamina runes, and monsters with very high stamina cost moves (like Cryotans mega-freeze using 250 stamina).
Never, ever use team stamina, team strength, team life.
There are several basic strategies to get them.
- Rune dungeons will give you level 4 runes, which is a start.
- Flip unwanted runes (like team stamina/team life/team strength) by crafting them with 3 level 1 runes. For example, a level 8 team life rune plus 3 level 1 speed runes will hopefully give you a speed rune, at level 7-9.
- In the rune shop, the only runes that you'll buy are level I and level X runes. Level I to craft, level X to flip. For both the type doesn't matter.
- Once you earn a lot of gold, watch out for discounted level 1 runes (any type) and buy them. Craft them to level 3 runes in events where crafting times are reduced. Craft them to level 4/5 runes later, and flip them to the type you need.
- Use level 1 gold/team gold runes to flip mid-level runes that will be abundant at some point (level 3-5 runes). Try to put high level gold runes on those precious monsters giving 305 gold per minute. Putting level 3-4 gold runes on a lot of legendaries and almost all epics (except for the 2-3 epics you use in team wars) will add 50% your gold production.
- The best offers for level X runes are 345 gems (if I recall correctly). Get a few of them, you can flip them to any type you like: Level X runes will never be downgraded when crafting with level 1 runes, only change type. Try to get level X
speed runes for your best deniers.
Completing adventure map islands will help you to progress fast. But this is not necessarily a good thing. There is some debate as to whether increasing player level makes the game harder. Some players claim only the 72h challenges get harder with level (the most recent one doesn't), some players claim events like rune lords, gold rush and feeding get harder with level. Frankly, I'm not sure what is true. My recommendation would be to use the adventure map to progress until you get close to the habitat cap (level 65-70), and then go easy on the adventure map. Reaching higher levels won't help you in any way, and the rewards for the adventure map are not nearly good enough to make it worthwile.
Epics and Rares
Epic and rare monster may seem to be useless once you have a decent number of legendaries. But they have their place - not only for gold production, but also in some team wars and dungeons. So it's a good idea to have some epic and rare monsters with 3 runes available.
If you start out you'll value rare and epic monsters for a long time. My smurf account heavily relied on Nanukk and LaCroc for a long time until I had a decent stack of legendaries.
I won't give reommendations for legendary monsters because there are simply way too many to cover even the most important ones. But things are different if it comes to breedable monsters, and rare/epic monsters.
Those are the monsters to target. Do not spend gems on them, but try to pick them up if you have the chance, or breed them.
The good rare monsters are not breedable, but their cells are available for gold in cell events. Good monsters are:
- Mudflow. AoE freeze, AoE stun. IMO The best rare monster out there.
- Nanukk. AoE freeze, single freeze, AoE blind. Speed sucks, but with 3 speed runes he'll do OK.
- LaCroc. AoE stun, AoE daze. nice.
- Eggknock. AoE possession.
- Rhodent. Extra turn ability with ridiculously low damage, but 50% stun - eventually you'll stun all of them (with stamina runes).
Some epics are breedable. These are good:
- Dragonian Beast is easily breedable (Thundenix + Tarzape) and has AoE stun. Pedestrian stats, but as you can rank him easily he'll do nicely.
- Musu is also easily breedable (Rockilla + Mersnake). It's a weak one, but cleaning whirlpool (remove positive status effects) and the shield come in handy.
Both Musu and Dragonian beast will crop up in races as you try to breed epics, so extract those cells and rank them.
- Ledovech is also breedable, but much harder to get (Razfeesh + Drop Elemental). With 2 single stun and 2 single freeze moves it can take out one enemy per turn, which makes it an interesting alternative to Dragonian Beast against stun immune monsters.
- IMO none of the other breedable epic monsters are worth the effort to rank them.
There are many good non-breedable epic monsters. Nautilus is perhaps the best epic monster. It has AoE magnetize that gives one extra turn per enemy alive, decent damage and AoE freeze. This one is the only epic worth spending gems on.
Here is a thread about good epic monsters.