Updated March 15th, 2014 If you have been playing this game for more than a couple of days, inevitably once you have leveled your favorite heroes and started expanding your roster, the "Who should I level next?" question is probably going to pop up in your mind. While everybody is different and I do not claim to hold any Universal Truth(tm) regarding the game, here are a few pieces of advice and mathematical suggestions to answer that very question.
There are different approaches to the game. If you play mainly for fun or for PvE, the best piece of advice would probably be "whoever you like best". Here, my blog is going to focus on players who are interested in PvP and want to build their hero roster as effectively as possible and get the most bang for their buck as they level their heroes.
The most important thing if you want to optimize your leveling is what I call the Golden Rule. "Vivre Sans Temps Mort" as they said in France during the student riots of the late 20th century. In MAA terms, it means that your training facility should never be idle. Plan ahead. Below you will find some mathematical optimizations and rankings between different kinds of levelling, but those are only worth it if you can chain your trainings. It is useless to start training your most efficient trainable hero if when the training ends it's going to be 3:30am when you are fast asleep. Always check the training time of the hero you plan to train, and be sure you will be awake and in front of your game when the training ends, or the calculations below will be moot.
The second most important rule is that if you play PvP competitively, regardless of the calculations below, your main focus should always be to level the heroes you plan to use in the current/upcoming PvP season to lvl 13. Adding another ISO to your active hero will most of the time be more efficient than improving your roster bonus, even if technically all three of your heroes will benefit from that bonus.
And now the math!
Anytime you level one of your heroes, your PvP bonus will increase, based on the class of your hero. From lvl 2 to lvl 9, the bonus will always be the same, and be factored according to your level. A lvl 200 agent will get a better bonus than a lvl 50 agent, but all their heroes will yield the same bonus at the same level. For convenience, and to provide something that will be useable at any level, I will call this the [Base Stat Increase] or "BSI" for short.
You can figure out the BSI for your level by moving to the PvP section and clicking on "Heroes". Hover on any of your heroes and you will see its current bonus divided in 3 or 4 lines:
- [Class] = the first line is the base bonus based on the class of the hero. This is a fixed bonus that will improve with agent level, but not with hero level. Class bonus is equal to 5 times your Base Stat Increase (= 5 BSI)
- [Level XX] = the second line is a linear bonus based on your hero's level. This is equal to level times your Base Stat Increase. If your hero is level 3, this will be 3 BSI. If it is level 12, it will be 12 BSI.
- (optional) [XXX Elite Bonus] = this is a line that only appears if your hero is lvl 10 or higher. Basically, it's extra stat bonus. The bonuses themselves are as follow : Bronze (lvl 10) = 1 BSI ; Silver (lvl 11) = 3 BSI ; Gold (lvl 12) = 6 BSI ; Diamond (lvl 13) = 10 BSI ; Vibranium (lvl 14) = 15 BSI
- [Total Bonus] = This is simply the sum of the 2 or 3 lines above.
In order to determine what is most efficient to do, training-wise, you must also factor in the time it will take you to train your hero. For instance, you will gain 1 BSI when you level a hero from lvl 4 to lvl 5, and the same amount when you level a hero from lvl 8 to lvl 9. But it only takes one hour to reach lvl 5, when it takes 12 to reach lvl 9... It means that in the first situation, you are actually improving your roster at a rate of 1 BSI per hour, while in the second situation it drops to 1/12th of a BSI per hour...
Now it's simply a matter of dividing the effective BSI increase from levelling by the amount of time required to level. When you do so, you get the following ratio ranking (from highest to lowest, not taking into account buying a new hero and leveling one to lvl 2 since both of these do not cost any time at all and are thus always your best option if you can do it)
- lvl 2 ==> lvl 3 (ratio : 4 BSI / hour)
- lvl 3 ==> lvl 4 (ratio : 2 BSI / hour)
- lvl 4 ==> lvl 5 (ratio : 1 BSI / hour)
- lvl 5 ==> lvl 6 (ratio : 0.5 BSI / hour)
- lvl 6 ==> lvl 7 (ratio : 0.25 BSI / hour)
- lvl 11 ==> lvl 12 OR lvl 12 ==> lvl 13 OR lvl 13 ==> lvl 14 (ratio : 0.166 BSI / hour)
- lvl 10 ==> lvl 11 (ratio : 0.15 BSI / hour)
- lvl 9 ==> lvl 10 OR lvl 7 ==> lvl 8 (ratio : 0.125 BSI / hour)
- lvl 8 ==> lvl 9 (ratio : 0.083 BSI / hour)
From this, you can see that it is basically just as profitable to level one hero from 7 to 8 or from 9 to 10. The last four levels are what I call the comfort zone, the average BSI/h for high level heroes. There is a sweet spot zone below level 7 where levelling your heroes can be extremely efficient for your PvP bonus and what I am calling the "dead zone" from lvl 8 to lvl 10 with really poor BSI/h ratios (but at least you unlock the 4th power at lvl 9... though that will be completely useless to you if you only hired that hero for their PvP bonus...). With the 2014 March 11th patch and the introduction of the 14th level, training times have been reduced at higher level and now the last 3 levels (12, 13 and 14) have the exact same BSI/hour ratio, giving you more flexibility to plan your training according to your log in time.
With these ratios in mind, my personal technique has been to level all my heroes to lvl 7 as an absolute priority (just remember the Golden Rule and the Second Rule above first). Once every hero is lvl 7, I started focusing on one hero at a time to pump to lvl 14, using that hero's downtime (when filling the experience bar right after levelling up) to boost some lvl 7 heroes to 8 or 9 (to unlock the 4th power because I also play PvE and like to have fun with all the powers available). As I am writing this, I still have a fair share of lvl 7 heroes so this is still what I am doing. When all my heroes will be at least lvl 9, I plan to focus on levelling heroes to 14 in pairs or triplets, levelling one while the other is training and vice versa.
Now if you have several heroes at the same level and no particular preference, your choice of "who to level" among same-levelled heroes should be based on your PvP team and Meta. Enhance your strengths or try to compensate your weaknesses, depending on your playstyle, and level heroes from the class with the bonus you need to improve. For instance, last PvP season most of my opponents had much more hit points than me, so I'm currently focusing on improving my Tacticians to make up for that. Your mileage may vary :)
That is all for now, I hope you have found this blog useful!