The F2P problem
As AFK Arena expands in content, new heroes continue to be added to the game. While the addition of novel units certainly encourages players to strategize and test out different hero lineups, the issue with the overabundance of new heroes is one that affects new (and old) players: an increasing difficulty in summoning enough duplicate copies of a hero for ascension. Ascension is key to progress; until the late stages of the game, the key strategy is to prioritize leveling of 5 heroes of choice. The faster these heroes are ascended, the quicker players can level them and this maximizes the utility of the resonance crystal. However, what if:
- You constantly face poor RNG during summons.
- Even if you manage to pull a couple of duplicates of a hero you'd like to ascend, you don't have enough copies.
- You do not pay money to play.
These are issues that hinder progress, leading players to be stuck at the same campaign stage for weeks. Therefore, the purpose of this guide is to inform new and veteran players about what the most attainable lineup (irrespective of RNG or money spent) is, with it being strong enough to carry them into late game (chapter 21+). The key to achieving this lineup is to focus on guaranteed hero pulls from the Labyrinth shop and Legends' Challenger Tournament. The other key is patience. This guide assumes you have the worst possible RNG ever... so while you may not progress as fast, just know that even with the most garbage luck you can still achieve a respectable team that can carry you far.
(Note: this guide does not go in detail regarding how to access the Labyrinth shop or Legends' Challenger Tournament features. I expect you to read another guide to figure that out)
Shemira is one of the strongest carries in the game and is a staple in many lineups. The reason is because her Tortured Souls ability deals massive amounts of damage to ALL enemies while HEALING herself. Coupled with a passive life-steal ability and a skill that freezes an enemy mage, she is a key hero used by players regardless of what heroes they've managed to pull. Shemira will be weaker prior to lv.181, but after this level she shines. She can be obtained in the labyrinth shop for 45000 coins. However, she falls off hard after lv. 300 as her damage is no longer enough and her sustain is countered by high burst damage heroes such as Eironn and Gwyn who become extremely potent at endgame.
Just like Shemira, Nemora can be picked up in the labyrinth for 45000 coins. She is the best healer in game, but offers great tanking and has a CC ability that allows her to take control of an enemy character for some while. This enemy will attack their allies and use its abilities on them, which is a great stall technique to allow Shemira to cast her ultimate skill. In addition, Nemora has very high HP and can tank a fair bit of damage. Otherwise, her damage output is not great but her presence increases the survivability of your entire team. Nemora can become a very effective healer even in late game as her ultimate scales and grants a shield. However, she simply doesn't bring enough alternate utility to be really effective past lv. 300. Heroes at high ascension such as Talene and Rowan provide far more utility, and in Talene's case, she is an immortal unit with an infinite healing source. With Nemora, against endgame comps (especially in PvP) she is very vulnerable to high burst which are likely to kill her before she gets a chance to use any of her abilities. She is still effective in PvE comps.
Grezhul is a reliable tank with an ultimate that allows him to stun up to 3 enemies while simultaneously summoning up to 2 skeletons that attack enemies. These skeletons distract enemies, giving other team members a break from damage, while also dishing out respectable damage if Grezhul is at a high ascension level. With his new Signature Item, whenever his skeletons die, he is healed for a 20% of his maximum health, making him very difficult to kill. This does also fall off in end game when he cant summon skeletons fast enough to sustain him against high burst. However, these are still valuable distractions to take nuke ults such as Safiya and Belinda. In addition, Grezhul shields his allies that mitigates a % of damage reduction based on ascension level and also provides a passive magic damage reduction for all his allies. He can be attained in the Challenger store for 150000 coins.
Thoran is another Graveborn tank and is a bit of a niche character. While he can self-resurrect after killed for the first time and has an ability to redirect receiving damage to another enemy, Thoran's slowness in attacking is a glaring weakness. The main use of Thoran in this lineup is because he can be reliably obtained through the labyrinth shop for 45000 coins after patch 1.24 releases. His main purpose is to tank damage.
The last character for this team is a bit of a toss-up. Arden is reliably obtainable out of the three, and can be easily ascended to Legendary+. Arden offers amazing CC in the form of paralyzing up to 3 enemies for a couple of seconds with his roots ability. This is his main purpose, as he can stall out the enemy long enough for Shemira to cast her ultimate.
The other two characters are either Lyca or Tasi. This is assuming you're able to pull at the minimum 1 copy of either character. At low ascension levels, the only purpose of Lyca is that she provides a + 70 energy haste to allies at the start of battle. In other words, she helps your heroes cast their ultimate abilities faster. This is extremely useful, and can determine the tide of a battle. It should be of note that this haste boost can win entire games if paired with an Eironn or Gwyn.
Tasi on the other hand offers an extremely strong CC ability as her ultimate can make all enemies fall asleep for a couple of seconds. In addition, she freezes an opposing enemy for a couple of seconds throughout the battle. Again, 1 copy of her is sufficient, as her main purpose is CC. Tasi is one of the best heroes you can invest into, and remains extremely powerful even into endgame today. With her Signature Item, she can actually be an effective tank, completely avoiding high damage attacks consistently every few seconds.
How viable is this?
3 of the above characters are obtainable through the labyrinth. 45000 coins can be achieved in a month, not counting the labyrinth quests that give you more coins as you complete them. Therefore, the key word here is patience. As a general note, regardless of what team you decide to run, F2P players need to be patient and there is no way around this. Grezhul is a bit more manageable.
However, remember that you need 5 main heroes to level. Arden is not sufficient for this purpose, as he caps out at legendary+. In other words, you will need to get a 5th character to level. Again, assuming your summon RNG sucks, I suggest another other elite character in the Challenger shop that you can get for 150000 coins (Fawkes is probably your best bang for your buck). You level this character as well, but only so that you can have 5 heroes to focus on.
Shemira/Nemora/Grezhul/Thoran/5th wilder relies on a faction bonus consisting of Graveborns and Wilders. This additional boost is another reason that these characters have been selected. Shemira and Grezhul will always be the staples in this lineup, and the remaining characters can be interchanged depending on the situation. Note that at high ascension levels, Grezhul becomes a very strong tank, so investing into him early on is a good decision regardless. The same goes for Nemora.
Of course, your summons will probably give you some of the above heroes, making the team building process faster. The most popular team is Shemira/Brutus/Nemora/Tasi/Lyca but the above team is not that far off. Brutus can be replaced with a high ascended Grezhul, and Lyca/Tasi don't need to be at super high ascension levels to be useful. I am at 21-9 stage and I still have a Elite+ Lyca and a Legendary Tasi.
The new edits were made at version 1.57 of the game (I am a different person to the original author). All heroes detailed here are still powerful early game, but fall off fast at endgame. I am at stage 30-21 and I have most of these heroes fully ascended at one or two stars (except for Tasi, she's a 4-star I love her). I make no edits to Thoran as his playstyle is still pretty accurate to this. I would invest in him. Otherwise, these are rudimentary edits as I believe this article to be outdated. The comp I use for endgame PvE is a stall comp with a Daimon core. Talene/Rowan/Ferael/Daimon/Tasi.
(This is v.1.00 of this article. If well-received, the text will be expanded to include more details, in addition to more pictures).