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Gold is the premium currency of Marvel: Avengers Alliance, and if you're not willing to fork over your credit card information, you need to know how to manage yours carefully. That said, gold is not as rare in M:AA as premium currencies are in other freemium games: in addition to starting the game with a handful of ingots, you will get one more gold each time you level up and one more each time you four-star a mission. This regular flow of gold into your pocket will tempt you into testing some areas of the game you can't get to with silver and shield points alone, or skip yourself ahead of the curve by accelerating progress. Let's look at how to maximize the impact of your gold on your game.
First off, let's address some ways you should NOT spend your gold.
1. Re-spinning the roulette
The boss roulette is particularly tempting when you are trying to get a rare drop, but listen to the voice of experience here: the odds of getting what you're looking for are astronomically against you, and what you get instead will not return value of 5 gold. Just consider that the best or second-best item on a roulette is normally 5 command points... but if you traded gold directly for CP, you would get 10 CP for 5 gold, so you lost half your purchasing power on buying the roulette spin. This is absolutely the fastest way to lose your gold.
2. Buying Command Points or S.H.I.E.L.D. Points
Getting a couple extra command points to grab that next hero is understandably enticing, but resist the urge. You will get Command Points even faster than you get gold via boss roulettes and 5-starring missions, so patience will pay off. In the end, you will get the extra CP you need for that character you want, but you will not get your gold back after it's swapped. As for S.H.I.E.L.D. points, they flow like lies off a politician's teeth once you have sufficient allies. If you need SPs, visit the Find Allies page to find some add me requests, post your own, and locate a couple of Facebook groups to join, and your SP problems will be solved.
3. Any kind of speed-up
Accelerating training/character experience, upgrading jets, skipping tasks, or anything else that's made for the impatient. Impatience is for the cash players. If you don't want to part with your own money then you'll just have to take your time.
4. Heroes "on sale"
From time to time, heroes or alts of limited availability will go "on sale." Typically, a character who costs 200 CP will be available for 75 gold. The idea being that, with the gold-for-CP exchange rate, this is a 25% reduction. Do not be fooled, this is not a reduction at all. See point 2: never trade gold for CP. When you have a choice between spending gold and spending CP, always, always, always spend CP, no matter the price difference, because CP is easily renewable and gold is not. Get thee to a farm and get those CPs the old-fashioned way.
This feature is far from useless when used appropriately, but it's just too expensive. At 48 gold per update, you're very nearly buying an item that you already went through the necessary steps to acquire (in many cases, you already paid 64 gold for the item, so one reforge brings the total price to an exorbitant 112). The game continually introduces new, useful equips: through special operations, as new PvE drops and golden weapons, with the PvP seasons, and as limited edition releases; don't get hung up on an item that was great 40 levels ago but is now too weak to depend on, you can move on to the next thing.
6. ISO Crystals
This one actually used to be on the "to-buy" list but the game has changed to the point that spending gold on ISOs is no longer a worthy investment at any level. Don't even suggest that it's safe at level 300, because you just don't know what will happen next: game equations can change, that character you love can get a new and better alt, or new developments can force alterations in your gameplay strategy. ISOs need replacing every 30(ish) levels to keep current, making this a substantial gold sink to remain competitive. Use the silver ones liberally, spend your gold elsewhere.
Now that you're not buying any of those things, what should you buy instead?
1. The fifth agent slot
In the most basic terms, this is a 25% improvement to every aspect of your game and it costs the same as a good piece of gear. There are, to date, two ways in MAA that you can spend gold and receive a permanent infrastructure improvement. The fifth agent slot is cheaper and easier to utilize, making this the game's best use of gold. The second permanent game improvement is...
2. The second Training Bay
I know what you're saying: you don't have 100 gold, you don't have the silver, you don't have the SHIELD points, you don't have enough heroes. Your protests fall on deaf ears. The second space to train is an essential, permanent upgrade to your game with the irreplaceable capacity to accelerate hero training. You absolutely should spend 100 gold on this. I wish Playdom had half a dozen other in-game advancements worth 100 gold the way the Training Bay is.
3. Special Operations advancements
Special Operations characters are often among the most potent owns in the game, introducing new mechanics, pushing the power creep envelope, redefining the PvP meta, and opening up game options that never existed before. In short, these characters matter, do what you must to complete spec ops. For many players that means paying 25 gold to skip the final task, which is usually an epic boss that requires deploying characters that cost 200+ CP. While farming 200 CP is certainly possible, it's not always plausible, especially for those who are newer to the game. So unless you have all the characters or every confidence that you can farm like Old MacDonald, keep 25 gold in reserve and earmarked for the final task of the next special operation. If you can complete the spec ops without gold, great; if you can't, don't hesitate to spend your way through the most daunting task in the quest chain.
Generally speaking, acquiring characters is the best thing you can do for your game experience. Getting a crack at an old lockbox character can cost you as much as 360 gold, which is beyond the realm of possibility for most free players, so do take care here. That said, having characters > having gold, making this is a worthy expense. Lockboxes will also land you other prizes: command points, rare deploy items, useful consumables, and drops from expired special operations, so the overall boon to your game give lockboxes additional value for your gold.
5. PvP armory
This is a tricky one. PvP bonus items, whether 2g apiece or 64g each, are generally current for one tournament (the non-current ones are sometimes resold in bundles for 1g each). Staying on top of your armory bonus month after month is a consistant and significant use of gold. But PvP is faster and more fun when you play with armory advantage: it improves your defensive team and makes the adamantium-level volume possible. So if you want to win PvP, you must boast a top-notch armory, and to do that you must spend gold.
The ISO advancements are a work of beauty: the prices are just right and they really add a lot to character customization. I don't want to get into a drawn-out discussion of the ins and outs of these things - that's a blog to itself - but I don't have any hesitation recommending the use of gold on them.
7. Empowered Armors
Once upon a time I had to use this space to defend the acquisition of the 8 ISO-slot armors vs. the 6-slot uniforms. Well the days of 8 slots for 24 gold being a good value are a memory. For a mere six more gold, the Empowered Armors allow you the capacity to not only activate your class bonus when you need it (cooldown exceptions do apply), but to slot an EISO onto your agent as well. This is an essential development in your game, because every class has at least one EISO that can change the way the game turns for you.
What class should you buy first? Tactician. Extra actions are key all the time, and this uniform gives them to you, plus enables use of the Quick EISO, which gives even more actions. The second class is infiltrator, because of the ability to take your agent stealthy and add a damage bonus in short order. The third-best in my experience is scrapper, especially if you have a Stealthy or Psychic single-target weapon that you want to turn into a real health-wrecking machine. The bruiser and blaster uniforms are less useful for their class bonuses, but still carry essential EISOs, such as Vengeful and Unavoidable. Ultimately you'll need at least one EISO-capable uniform from each class, so if you're not winning them from PvP, acquire them with gold.
8. Limited edition gadgets
Notice I said "gadgets" and not "weapons." Limited Edition items come "customized," which means they scale to your current level +10 at the time you acquire them. The customized weapons get noticeably weaker once you exceed their set power level, and continue to weaken as you progress. Once you've gone 15 or 20 levels past their power level, they can be functionally unusable. Gadgets, on the other hand, have a set effect and the "customized" feature has little or no penalty to them. They are often well worth the acquiring. That said, most of them cost 64 gold and that can be difficult to save; so if you have to skip them, don't feel bad.
Some items blur the line between "weapon" and "gadget." Coulson's Revenge is the most prominent example of this: it has an attack but also has a fantastic teamwide buff, and you should get one if it's available. When looking at these types of items, stop and consider if the buff alone is worth using without ever attacking with the weapon. If you can slot that item, never use it for offense, and still find value in its function, then rate it worth the buying. Just be careful, as LE items are very expensive and not always irreplaceable.
Some specific items to consider:
- Synthetic Cube - As if teamwide passive avoidance wasn't enough - and it absolutely is - the Cube boasts four functions that are each counted among the game's most useful tricks.
- Coulson's Revenge - See the paragraph above. It's the single best weapon in the game, boasting significant damage and a great passive. When CR is available to you, get it.
- Weather Control Device - Quick Actions and Multi-Functions (including an all-enemy application of Exhausted) make this a first-rate piece of agent gear.
- Neurotrope - Rare is the item that can give your entire team three distinct advantages on a QA. The Neurotrope does exactly that.
- Cosmic Cardinal - If you don't want the Cosmic Cardinal, that's only because you haven't seen it work.
- Protect items - Agent tanking can be a useful strategy, but demands the right equips to be successful. The Knight, Blade of the Guardian, Hoarfrost Mace, Attilan Mace, and Vigilante Toolkit are all, to varying degrees of effectiveness, LE agent protect items that will open up new strategies for you. Consider acquiring one if it is available.
- Quantum Jumper - once a must-have, now merely a potential benefit. For most players, there are better ways to spend gold. However, if you bought or won the Tactician Empowered Armor, add the Quick EISO and QJ is a beast... a sexy beast.