Locked Up Tight
Lockbox heroes can arguably be some of the most frustrating characters in the game to try to recruit. Since they can't be bought with Command Points, we have to rely on task completion to hope to get them for free. Otherwise, you'll end up spending Gold to finish out the collections required to recruit them. I'm not going to be focusing on statistical probabilities of duplicate covers here; plenty of others on this wiki have done that. What I will do is advise you on how to get the most Lockboxes that you can.
Finding the Treasure Map
Typically, there have been three methods of obtaining Lockboxes.
- Spec Ops
- Covert Task
My main focus is going to be on Spec Op Lockboxes because this are the ones that there is the most variance between players on how many they manage to get without spending Gold.
For PvP Lockboxes, simply win 5 fights a day. Normally, that will not only get you the daily 5, but also give you enough fights to complete side tasks. Typically, between the daily 5, side tasks, and PvP roulette prizes, you'll typically get between 180-220 Lockboxes from PvP.
For Covert Task Lockboxes, just do all of the daily tasks. Between the tasks and roulettes, you'll probably get close to the same as the payout from PvP Lockboxes, around 180-220 Lockboxes from Covert Tasks.
Gathering the Crew
The most important thing to do to maximize the Lockboxes that you get from Spec Ops is to get 50 active allies. I cannot stress enough how important this is in nearly every aspect of the game. This is especially important when it comes to collecting Lockboxes in Spec Ops. Since nearly all of the Lockboxes that have been available in Spec Ops have been tied to a Group Boss, it is important to get an many Group Boss fights in as possible. The best way to do this is to get as many allies as possible to send you Group Bosses to fight. This will also help your allies out as well, since you will also be sending your Group Bosses to them to fight.
Collecting the Booty
Now that you've got plenty of Group Bosses to fight, how do you mazimize the Lockboxes you get from them?
For every Group Boss that you contribute to the demise of, you will get 1 Lockbox. From my own personal experience, having 50 allies, over a 3 day period of each Group Boss spawn, I typically expect to get Group Bosses from half of my allies. There are various reasons that I will rarely see all 50. Since we all may spawn our Group Bosses at various times, usually during the second day of Spec Ops, an ally's Group Boss may only be available at a time that I'm not playing and they may be totally defeated before I ever see them. I've had some instances where I didn't even see 20 Group Bosses over the course of the first week of a Spec Op. I have also had times where I saw 30 in the first available day alone. With such wide variance, it should still even out over the course of a 3 week Spec Op as long as you have 50 allies that are active.
So, time for a little math here. Assuming 25 Lockboxes per 3 day spawning period over the course of a 3 week Spec Op...
25 Lockboxes x (21 days of Spec Op / 3 days per spawning period) = 25 Lockboxes x 7 spawning periods = 175 Lockboxes
175 Lockboxes just for fighting the Group Bosses that are left behind from your allies if you get Group Bosses from 50% of your allies per cycle. This is one of the two larger variable totals for lockboxes that you can get from a Spec Op. The other big variable is from the Group Bosses that you manage to knockout.
Make'em Walk the Plank
For each Group Boss that you knockout, there is a hidden roulette that will pay out either 1, 3, or 5 Lockboxes. Your results here can greatly vary, because part of the equation is actually being able to knockout a Group Boss, and the other half is pure luck. Many times, there have been strategies that allow you to knock a Group Boss from 100% HP all the way down to 0%. Some have not been as effective as others, and most of the time a piece of it ends up getting nerfed either during the Spec Op or shortly after it.
Since the numbers vary so widely here, again I'll use numbers typical of my own experience. Let's assume that you can knockout 10% of the Group Bosses that you face. Let's also assume that you get the lowest Lockbox payout for each knockout. Using the same numbers from before to determine number of Group Bosses that you can expect to face for an entire Spec Op...
175 Group Bosses x 10% x 1 Lockbox each = 17 Lockboxes
This is admittedly a low estimate, but that is an additional 17 Lockboxes. This puts our total so far at 192 Lockboxes.
Fighting Your Own Fight
Now, we have yet to touch our own Group Boss. We get 10 Lockboxes for collecting the spoils from having our own Group Boss knocked out. This math is actually pretty static, since as long as you have enough allies your Group Bosses will always get knocked out before they become available to respawn. Still following all previous assumptions...
10 Lockboxes per Group Boss x (21 days of Spec Op / 3 days per spawning period) = 70 Lockboxes
For collecting all of our rewards for our own knocked out Group Bosses, we get 70 more Lockboxes, putting our estimated total at 262 Lockboxes.
Take Them to Task
Some Spec Ops have had side tasks that have paid out Lockboxes. Recently however, this practice has been replaced by making Lockboxes available through Spec Op deploys and Epic Boss roulettes. Since these are a combination of luck based and how much you are willing to farm the Spec Op missions, I'm not going to factor this in to the Lockbox total. Just consider this to be bonus swag.
Counting Your Treasure
So, here we can see that typically, while PvP and Covert Tasks top out at around 220 Lockboxes under ideal circumstances, using my rather conservative estimates, you should easily be able to get at least 260 Lockboxes from Spec Ops. During most Spec Ops, I have done much better than that, as I frequently have managed to collect another 200 or so lockboxes AFTER collecting all 8 covers. It all depends on being able to maximize your chances at them by maximizing your active allies and making the best of the resources that they provide.
Back Out to the Seven Seas
UPDATE: For an example of how these strategies can help you get lockboxes in Spec Ops, I kept track of all of my Lockboxes from Spec Op 24. I recruited Enchantress after opening 160 Lockboxes. By the end of the Spec Op, I had collected an additional 373 Lockboxes, more than enough more to guarantee recruitment. This was from what averaged out to 7 Group Bosses per day over the course of Spec Op 24. For comparison, in PvP Season 19, I recruited Destroyer with 150 Lockboxes. After recruiting him, I only got another 53 Lockboxes. This was from winning 5 daily fights and doing the weekly tasks.