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2018 Guide to Progressing Fast from 1* to 5* Characters
Day 15: Champ your first 2*
Day 25: Champ your first 3*
Day 30: Champ all 2*s
Day 40: Roster all 3*s
Day 55: Champ 10 x 3*s
Day 80: Champ 20 x 3*s
Day 105: Champ 30 x 3*s
Day 140: Champ All 3*s
Day 155: Champ your first 4*
Day 190: Champ 6 x 4*s
Day 235: Max cover your 1st 5*
Day 275: Max cover your 2nd 5*
Day 305: Champ 3 x 5*s!
So, Yes, it will take almost a year to reach 5* play, but keep in mind that most 5* players spent years getting there, so this is the fast track. These timelines also make a few assumptions: you play for 3 hrs per day and you're willing to spend some money, up to $300 during the 1st year. This means playing PVE to max progression rewards and PVP to 40 wins or 900 points. This timeline probably looks very fast to veteran players, but it is possible. The biggest limit to building a strong roster fast is the HP cost of roster slots. So that's why making some wise purchases for HP will speed you along. I've explained below how this is to be done.
1* - 2* Roster (No 2* Champs) - 2 week period
- INTRO: welcome to Marvel Puzzle Quest. I hope you like it as it has taken years to develop the game into what it is now. The game is designed to help new players reach a competitive level fairly quickly. So, progress is very fast in the beginning but slows down the further you go. The mechanics are match-3, but the name of the game is roster building. Growing your roster and characters to be stronger and stronger is fun, in addition to finding new strategies and teams.
- Try to play any event that you can: you need those rewards. Try the easy nodes of
Story events and seed teams of Versus events. Try DDQ and definitely
replay the Prologue nodes that you can beat. As your roster
strengthens in the first 2 weeks, you will be able to complete the entire
Prologue, getting every reward possible. Carefully manage your health packs as you will quickly run out of them. Also be careful with the SCL level you pick for PVE events. Pick an end time of day when you will be available and not busy. It's best to play at the beginning and end of the time period.
- Buy the SCL Starter Packs: it's a great value and will give you a big boost in the beginning. Within the 1st week, you should be able to get the SCL 3 & 4 Starter Packs. The main reason to buy these packs is for the Hero Points (HP), ISO and covers. The other tokens and command points are just gravy.
- How to Spend your ISO: during the 1st week, spend it on your main fighters, like 1* Iron Man and 2* Wolverine. Juggernaut and Spiderman are very good 1*s, but you'll gain covers for Iron Man much faster. I would only level up Iron Man to 30. If you have some 3*s with at least 7 covers, then level them up and fight with them too. On your 2nd week, spend ISO on your other 2*s so that you can start champing them all. Champion characters give you more rewards and become stronger as time goes on.
- Only spend Hero Points (HP) on roster slots: you may not realize it now, but HP is precious as you need to buy a ton of roster slots to play this game. The SCL Starter Packs give you HP, but you may want to buy even more. The game rewards you for rostering everyone as PVE events have required characters. The exception to spending HP is buying a 3 hr shield in PVP so you can win some nice placement rewards.
- Save Legendary Tokens (LT) and Command Points (CP): it may be tempting to get a 4* or 5* character, but paying for those roster slots is expensive and could make you lose some 3* covers because of it. A 1-cover 5* character is useful in the beginning, but it hurts your long term goals. The better long term strategy is to save LT and CP for max covering 5* characters later.
- Save Heroic Tokens (HT): the only reason for this is the cost of roster slots. You have the chance of getting 4* characters in those tokens, but now is not the time to start building the 4* tier. Your roster slots should go to all 2*s and 3*s right now.
experience points (XP) from 1* covers:
whenever you apply a cover to a character, you get XP. This is a
fast way to gain Rank levels and get extra ISO, but be careful as you
could rank up so high that you're locked out of lower SCL levels for PVE. If you find yourself
hurting for roster slots, then sell your 1*s and roster 3*s instead.
You could go down to 2 x 1* roster slots. 1 character for fighting
the DDQ node and 1 slot for applying 1* covers to get XP, then sell the
character and apply covers for someone else. It's tedious, but it
works. Having a slot for each 1* is easier but pricey.
- The Best 2* Teams: Wolverine with Marvel and Widow forms rainbow coverage and is an all purpose team. Ares with Daken and Moonstone also have rainbow coverage with big hits but less defense. Storm with Magneto and Hawkeye is a 1 trick pony team, where you use Mag's purple to get a Blue match-5. I like using Marvel instead of Hawkeye with this team though.
BOTTOM LINE: Focus
on building up your 2*s and champing all of them ASAP. Forget about
leveling up 1*s, your ISO is precious. On the side, roster every 3* cover you get and save
all HT, LT and CP. Farm XP from 1* covers. If you would like to make a comparison, after 2 weeks I had: Rank 29, 54 roster slots, 48 HT, 1 LT, 100 CP.
2* Champs Roster - 2 week period
- INTRO: at this point you start to get a sense of the true mechanics of the game. It's all about building up your characters so that you can fight tougher battles and get better rewards, which in turn helps you to build up more characters. This cycle continues to the top level of play. The strong get stronger, which means that with dedicated play you can out-pace others and rise above people that have stronger rosters than you right now. Your progression speed is what matters most.
- How to Spend your ISO: this is split between the 2* and 3* tier. Since champing all 2*s is a higher priority, I would spend about 75% of my ISO on champing 2*s. Once done, it's a major relief and exciting as you can start fighting with boosted 2* Champs and getting champ rewards while building up those 3*s. Even before your 3*s are champed, they can be useful for battles. I played SCL 5 during this time period.
- Keep saving LT and CP: this is important for the long term goal of champing 5* characters, so hold fast and be strong! Besides, you don't want the burden of rostering another new character during this period. Don't worry, the 4* covers will come even while saving LT and CP. Also, keep saving those Heroic Tokens for the next phase.
- Climbing in Versus (PVP): there are other threads that talk about this in detail, but here's my advice: start early to get some easy wins from the seed teams. You want to get the progression reward at 40 wins right? Well, you could space it out and play 10 battles at a time. If you go too high in the beginning, everyone will hit you. I've found that I can get maximum points at 11 hrs out from the end. So, I could use an 8 hr and 3 hr shield to finish, but I don't want to spend 225 HP on this, so I do my last 10 fights at 3 hrs out, which only costs 75 HP and then I win back 50 HP in the placement reward.
- Getting 75 wins in Shield Simulator: this is a simple matter of playing 2 or 3 Shield Sim battles per day. If you procrastinate, then it becomes a burden trying to catch up. So, just make it a part of the daily routine, like DDQ. Pick whatever team you like to win battles, but make your last battle of the session with a team that people would rather avoid, like characters with annoying passive powers (Dr Strange, Iron Fist, Luke Cage, Scarlet Witch, Daken).
- Playing for points in Story (PVE): I didn't want to explain this strategy for beginners, but now you need to know. In order to get good placement rewards, you need to clear each node 4 times (2 for wave nodes) when it first starts, then clear those nodes 3 more times just before it ends. The order that you clear also matters. In general, do the first 4 clears on the highest point nodes first. This is also where your full roster gives you an advantage as every PVE has required characters. If you don't have the required characters, you can't play the nodes and get the points and rewards.
- Shield Clearance Level (SCL): if you haven't noticed this by
now, there are SCLs that determine the difficulty of the enemies you
face in PVE. It's very important to choose the correct SCL for your
roster so that you can get maximum rewards for a reasonable amount of
effort. You may be able to fight at a higher SCL, but it would require more heath packs and also take longer. So, choose wisely. During this 2 week period, I played SCL 5. The SCL level you choose in PVP does not determine the difficulty of your opponents (it's based on your top character's levels) but it does affect the pool of players you're matched up against.
- Deadpool's Daily Quest (DDQ): this should always be completed because the rewards are great and the effort is small. Because of DDQ, you need to maintain a decently leveled 1* character. You should also be able to complete the first 5 nodes to get 6500 ISO, 10 HP, 1 Standard Token, 1 Elite Token, 2 Taco Tokens and 3* cover.
- Join a good alliance: at this point you should be a part of a good active alliance. Most importantly, you get alliance rewards, plus the occasional CP from purchases. A good alliance has active players and gets decent placement rewards. A great alliance gets better placement rewards and good progression rewards in Boss events.
- VIP Membership: if you don't mind spending a little more each month, VIP membership is good for getting extra rewards, most notably it gives 2 LT per month. Technically, your characters heal faster, but I don't think I've noticed. In general, it's definitely good to spend the bare minimum per month (Bugle Pittance = 200 HP) just to get the Bonus Rewards.
- Supports: once you get 3* characters, you get some free supports. What do you do with them? Well, not too much. But I did find the Vintage Shield to be useful for characters with naturally Low Health. I would focus on leveling up just 1 support at first and keep it attached to the character that needs it most. As you get more supports (which is slow) you can level them up to make a significant difference in PVE.
- THE BOTTOM LINE: Focus on champing all of your 2*s before building those 3*s. Try to roster every 3* character you get and seek after those covers. Establish a regular routine of play, which is something you can live with. If you would like to make a comparison, after 4 weeks I had: Rank 40, 76 roster slots, 128 HT, 6 LT, 288 CP, 12 x 2*s champed, 2 x 3*s champed, and 10 x 4*s rostered.
Champs Roster - 16 week period
- INTRO: if you've made it this far, then you've shown some endurance. You've graduated 2* high school and now it's time to go to 3* college. This will take more time and commitment, but it will payoff in the end and lead the way to 4* champs. With active play, you can champ all 3*s within 16 weeks, which is 3.7 months. During this time, your roster will get strong and diverse, giving you multiple teams and strategies to fight with. You'll be able to take down almost any opponent.
- Shield Clearance Level (SCL): with a few good 3* champs you can play SCL 6, but with a few of the top 3* champs (Strange, IM40, Fist, Cage, Magneto, Kamala) you can play SCL 7. Playing SCL 7 makes a big difference because it rewards 4* covers in the progression rewards, and you need to start collecting those 4* covers ASAP. During this time of champing 3*s, SCL 8 and 9 will open up to you. With some boosted champed 3*s, you can play SCL 8, but I warn you, it will be difficult, take longer and require health packs. The rewards are marginally better, so it's your choice. SCL 9 will destroy you, so don't attempt it.
- How to Spend your ISO: this is simple, spend it on leveling up and champing your 3*s. Don't spend it on 4*s unless you have a really good reason (like beating DDQ's Crash of the Titans). It will be a relief having all 3*s champed when you start leveling up those expensive 4*s. I think it's best to setup a champing assembly line. I level them up as I get their covers, instead of leaving them at level 40 with 13 covers. I will leave them at level 120 before champing them because the ISO-leveling-cost jumps at that point.
- Bonus Heroes (BH): this is a life saver and a way to combat random covers. At first, I set my BH to the best characters in the tier, like Dr Strange, Thanos, Iron Man Model 40 (IM40) and Iron Fist. Once they were champed, I set it to the characters that were close to 13 covers so that I could keep champing 3*s. Once I started getting so many 3* covers that I didn't need that help, I set my BH to my lowest covered 3*s so there won't be any stragglers at the end of 16 weeks.
- Open Heroic Tokens when all 3*s are rostered: you've been saving your Heroic Tokens, right? Well, after the 40 day fast it should be time to start opening them. Hooray! I had about 150 saved before I started opening them in batches of 40 - 60. I would open them until I had 2 - 3 unrostered 4*s, then I would stop and spend the next week or so rostering them. Once my reward covers (the vine) were cleared, I would open another batch of Heroic Tokens. If I opened them all at once, then I would have too many characters to roster and be forced to either purchase HP or waste them. Hence, the opening in batches. Because these tokens replenish between opening sessions, it may take a couple months to open them all.
- Acquiring 4* covers while saving LT and CP: the hoard should continue, trust me. During this time of champing 3*s, you definitely want to collect as many 4* covers as you can. The main way of doing this is by playing SCL 7 or above, which rewards a 4* cover in the progression rewards. Another source is from tokens, but not Legendary tokens. A 3rd source is from 3* champ rewards, which give out a 4* cover at level 183. They also give out 4* covers at levels 223 and 265, but by that time you're already champing 4*s anyway. A 4th source of 4* covers is from Boss events and other special events. With a good alliance, you can win 3 x 4* covers in one Boss event. The goal here is to roster all 4*s by the time you're done champing 3*s. Part of this strategy is spreading out the cost of roster slots, to minimize any real money you would need to spend.
- Lightning Rounds: perhaps you've ignored these until now, but they're a good source of easy ISO. I just play the seed teams and can win 1000 - 2000 ISO per event for about 5 minutes of work. You really can't win good placement rewards without champed 4* or 5* characters, so I don't bother. Even if I did have the roster strength, it would be one more thing to spend time on.
- Crash of the Titans: you've probably been ignoring this DDQ node, but now is the time to pay attention to it. It's a 1-on-1 battle between a required 4* and a level 270 character. For new rosters, this is a tough battle, but it rewards the ultimate prize, an LT. So, how do you win? Well, it's highly dependent on the match up, but in my experience if you have at least a 6-cover 4* at level 125+, then you have a chance. How your 4* is covered also makes a big difference as some powers are far more useful than others in these match-ups. Going invisible is a huge advantage, along with stuns and special tiles. You can't use team-ups but you can use damage boosts and supports. If you've gotten close to winning but still died, keep trying! There are so many times I thought I would never win, but I did because I kept trying until I got lucky.
- Farming 2*s: have your 2*s reached max champ level of 144, so no more champ rewards? Well, I've got good news for you, you can restart the character and get those champ rewards again! This may sound crazy but it's a common practice in the game. People do this in different ways, but I'll explain my way. After a 2* reaches 144, I'll start to collect their covers in the reward queue, which expire in 2 weeks. Before the oldest one expires, I sell the max champ and rebuild them, usually champing them right away. This costs a little ISO, but you'll get it back in future rewards.
- The Best 3* Teams: Cage & Fist & Scarlet Witch are great against Dark Avengers or used in Shield Sim; just collect purple, flood the board with black and punch everyone to death. IM40 with Strange and Kamala is a fast all purpose team; just recharge ASAP, then Stun, Bash and Unibeam. Thanos with Daken and Patch are great for quick wins on easy nodes or seed teams. Thanos-Strange-Fist is also fast against goons, but my favorite goon team is Hawkguy, Strange and Scarlet Witch. I just focus on matching their CD tiles, then throw down strikes and stun-hit with Strange; it works surprisingly well. Scarlet's green can also destroy CD tiles.
- THE BOTTOM LINE: Focus on champing all 3*s while collecting and rostering all 4*s. Continue to save LT and CP for the next phase. Enjoy the new strength and diversity of your roster because you'll be fighting with them for a long time. Your resource acquisition rates should be around: 350K ISO/week, 100 - 150 CP/week, 2 - 4 LT/week, 5 - 15 x 4*covers/week, 2 - 3 New 3* Champs/week. For comparison, after 20 weeks I had almost all 4*s rostered with my best ones with 8 covers; my hoard was up to 175 LL pulls, my rank was 81 with 135 roster slots.
4* Champs Roster
INTRO: Congratulations, you've champed all 3*s and rostered all 4*s! (hopefully). Anyway, things are about to get very interesting. Most likely, your best 4*s only have 8 covers, so they can't be champed. But if they were fully covered, it would take 3 times more ISO to champ them than 3*s. Since this tier has the greatest level of dilution, fully covering 4*s may be difficult, but it's worth it. When a 4* is boosted, their health and damage increases by about 100%, unlike boosted 3*s which get about a 50% increase in health and 20% increase in damage. Just like other phases of progression, you need to champ 4*s while building up towards 5*s during this time. 4* champs are key in sustainable 5* growth.
- Heroes for Hire (HFH), 40-Packs and Vaults: Once you have rostered all 4*s, you'll start having excess HP. You could spend it buying specific 4* covers that you need in the HFH store. Given the 4* tier
dilution, this is a great option. It usually sells a specific 4* cover with extras at 3600 HP. For 11-12K HP you could buy a 40-pack, which gives an LT and should give you 3 x 4* covers along with a ton of champ rewards. The 80-item vaults are not a great deal. With 40-item vaults you could buy the 10x daily deal until you get the 4*cover. You could also buy the 1x Heroic daily deal for 100 HP for extra 4* covers every now and then.
- How to obtain 5* covers: this is not easy, they usually come to you through Legendary tokens at the 1:7 ratio, but you can also get them from 4* champ rewards, which is great, but champing 4*s and getting them to those levels is not easy either. Another way is to simply purchase them from the HFH store for 250 or 500 CP when it comes around. You can also purchase them outright (if you already have at least 1 cover already) for 720 CP in the character screen, but I don't think anyone likes that option. Perhaps one day they'll open SCL 10 with 5* covers as progression and placement rewards.
- What to do with the Hoard: By now you should have saved between 65 - 75 LT and 2100 - 2300 CP, which would give you 150 - 165 Latest Legend pulls. Unfortunately, that's not nearly enough to fully cover 3 x 5*s. So, how many pulls does it take? Well, it comes down to probabilities: if you had perfectly even distribution of 5* covers between 3 characters and you pulled at the rate of 1:7, then it would only take 273 pulls. But, it will not go perfectly, so it really takes around 350 pulls to account for uneven distribution. But is this the best way to transition to 5* Champs? What about Classic tokens? What if you didn't hoard? Let's look at that.
- The 5* Transition: Because 5* dilution is so great in the Classic LT pool, it would take years to champ your first 5* by opening Classics. So, the fastest way to get into the 5* game is by using your hoard to get a headstart covering the latest 5*s. After opening the hoard, you then continue to open Latest to fully cover them before they leave the pool. Because of PVP matchmaking, it's best to champ your first 3 x 5*s at the same time. With this plan, the oldest 5* in the pool may not get max covered before leaving, but you should be able to max cover them going forward. In order for this to work, you will need 4* champs to increase your rate of pulling Latest. 4* champs give you great champ rewards and they increase your gameplay variety. Once you have 5*champs, they will be your main fighters, but you still need to champ those 4*s for the rewards.
- What about the Classic 5*s?: Since Classic 5*s are essential for PVE nodes, you will need them to be competitive for placement rewards. You can get Classic 5*s from 4* champ rewards, but that's a little slow. If you have a good set of 5* champs, you could start opening Classics instead. Then when all are rostered, go back to Latest, because it would still take years to champ Classic 5*s.
- Who to set as your Bonus Heroes?: if you opened a hoard of 200 pulls, then you would get about 10 BH covers. You could use those to champ the best in the tier (Grocket, Medusa, Gamora, Vulture, Chavez) or spread them out among your highest covered 4*s to get multiple champs ready. 5* BH are rare, so I would use those to finish covering a 5*, and not try to cover someone from scratch.
- Top 4* Teams: Grocket + Gamora is a great 2 person team to add to any PVP battle. Chavez + Ghost would work well in getting high match damage. Vulture alone can wreck teams. Carnage + Medusa are annoying to fight against. In Shield Sim, many people play Grocket + Gamora + Medusa. To counter that team you could use Dazzler + Grocket + Gamora to stun Medusa and remove their strikes. In PVE, 3*Thanos with some combination of 4*Grocket / Medusa / 3*Strange make quick work of the nodes. IM40 can fuel Riri, Nebula or Dazzler. There are many great combos at this level.
- THE BOTTOM LINE: This is an exciting time and your patience in hoarding pays off now. You enter a higher level of play with 4* champs, but you have to have a plan to get 5* champs as well. The ISO cost to champ the entire 4* tier is tremendous, so you'll end up champing 5*s while you're still working on the 4*s. And remember that once you champ 5*s, your PVP matchmaking drastically changes.
5* Champs Roster
INTRO: You've made it! You've reached the top level of the game!..............or have you? Obtaining 5* champs is probably a bittersweet experience for you. You'll notice that there are still players with much stronger rosters than you. They may have a dozen or more champed 5*s and their 5*s are at higher champ levels. You may even notice that they have high level supports or even duplicate 5* champs too. Don't worry and try not to compare yourself to them. The important thing is to enjoy the new power that your roster has.
- Now What?: the game is designed to never end, so don't try to get to the "end" of it. Obviously, you can continue to develop and champ new 5*s very slowly to expand your roster power. D3 continues to develop new characters and other features to keep you interested, but eventually, you may get bored and want to quit. Honestly, that's OK and not a bad choice IMO, but you probably have played for such a long time because it was fun. It may be hard to find that fun in the 5* tier. Your PVP battles may be very repetitive. PVE may become a mindless grind. New 4* characters may not be interesting anymore. If you can't find a way to make it fun, then don't torture yourself.
- PVE and PVP: because time is precious, many 5* players go down to SCL 7 in order to clear the nodes super fast but still get good rewards. This is certainly the bane to 3* and 4* players competing with them, but the game allows it. Perhaps you can look at it as the reward for obtaining 5* champs. But I have heard that 5* players distribute themselves evenly among SCLs 7, 8 and 9. With proper 5* character balancing, PVP battles should be diverse, but there will always be top tier characters you see over and over. Nevertheless, you should be able to obtain the 1200 point reward much easier now. Boss battles will also be easier too.
- How do I compete with the best?: Well, most of the top tier 5*s are in Classics, which means that the best way to obtain them is by hoarding for a new 5* store which includes one of them. That would take about 7500 - 8500 CP. Another option is to hoard LT and CP for Latest, but with the goal of getting them to level 500+. That would take 1300+ LL pulls.
- 3* and 4* Duplicates: By the time you reach this level of play, your 3* champs are near or at max champ level of 266, so many 5* players will create a duplicate character to collect their covers. This is similar to 2* farming, but with a twist. You can either sell the max champ and champ the duplicate, or simply spend the ISO to champ them. What's the point of having a duplicate? (other than getting champ rewards). Well, you can save health packs by fighting with the duplicate instead of healing the original. This same method applies to 4* champs, but getting them to max champ level takes much longer.
- THE BOTTOM LINE: you've worked very hard to get to this level of play, so try to enjoy it despite the negatives. There will always be a carrot to run after, but if you find yourself bored of playing this game, then be satisfied with your "accomplishment" and move on. I don't think D3 expects anyone to play this for the rest of their life.