JS is a 100% must and easily the best ROI you will get on AP spending. And tbh, I think that is the ONLY THING all WZI players agree on.
What I can say is what Shin listed is a valid strat ... not the one I took, but it will work if you play that way. Parsifal probably has some minor adjustments he could add, but then Master Jz, Z & myself have different strats altogether. And probably more than just us 3 ... there are many. What's important is to understand WHY Shin recommends all those things and to decide if it aligns to your playstyle. Just doing what he says without adjusting your playstyle to see the benefit of the upgrade will not generate good results.
One thing I would recommend though is investing in phase 2 Increase crafter speed sooner than a lot of what he's listed there. This imho is also one of the highest ROI you receive b/c as you play maps, your highest income will be from selling items (2nd is usually money from caches), and this directly impacts your ability to make more of them and thus make more money and thus get more upgrades - whether you spend those on army camps, hospitals, mercs, mines, etc ... that's your playstyle choice, but having the money is important.
I'd also recommend investing in Increased cache money - it's fairly cheap and gets good returns (literally, increase in money). As I said above, it's the 2nd highest contributor to money earned on levels, so max it out to 100% buff makes sense, and it's a P1 relatively low cost upgrade.
If I could go back to when I first started and change one thing, I'd probably have started investing in Increase crafter speed as soon as I unlocked phase 2 or shortly after instead of the other things I did. I unlocked this Advancement about 1/2 way through my second playthrough (after 1st Ascension), and immediately saw the value of it, and regret not doing it sooner. It gives back so much in game money once you get to a good recipe you can spam on all crafters, so significant benefit on the maps where you have 4+ crafters.
Also, as is evident from Shin's description but don't think he expressly answered your Q, no, you shouldn't max out every Advancement before moving on to another. Each upgrade cost is a step up from the last, so there comes a point when the early upgrades on other Advancements then provide better ROI, so better to start out a few key ones that solely focus on maxing out any single one.
Notably IACP ... regardless of whether you upgrade it to 100%, 200% or 300%, etc ... definitely do NOT try to max it out to 500% asap and forego others, b/c it takes A LOT of AP to do so. Conversely, you do want some IACP to start, b/c this is one of the only Advancements that will actually give you a quicker start. Crafter speed, etc, is great once you get to the crafting stage, but at map start time where you have 0 crafters and 0 ingredients to craft with even if you did & 0 markets to buy from, that doesn't help you at all, so having an army buff will help your early game. The money buffs are good for early game too but they come in phase 3 and later, so you have about 20 maps to clear before you even have to worry about that.
The key is knowing where you need a buff in your game. If you're early game is too slow, figure out what it is that you need to improve (and the answer is likely armies, b/c there's not much else you can do tbh, b/c the money comes later, and the ore upgrades are too numerous and collectively expensive - if that isn't clear, let's be clear - don't buy the ore increase upgrades). If your mid-game is slow, are you lacking mercs in the camps (additional mercs), money to buy the mercs (crafter speed), can't keep your crafters going (need money to buy from markets? This is likely a playstyle tweak and not an Advancement tweak), etc. If your end game is slow (you have 10% of territories left and are just waiting for armies to accumulate for 3+ days), then you need either more armies or mercs and maybe money to buy to buy the mercs or you didn't upgrade your hospitals enough.
For what it's worth, I have:
- Phase 1: 5 Advancements maxed out, 3 more significantly buffed.
- Phase 2: 3 Advancements maxed out, 2 more moderately to significantly buffed.
- Phase 3: 1 Advancement maxed out, 1 more moderately buffed.
The P1 advancements are quite good while also being fairly cheap to invest in. There's a number of good P2 ones too. P3 is less so, just honestly not many I think are worth spending AP on, and the ones that are cost a lot - only two truly worth investing in at all imho. P4, while I haven't unlocked it yet, looks like a combo of P2 & P3 - a number of decent advancements (like P2) but they cost a lot (like P3), so even once unlocking it, not likely to see the benefits of it for a while b/c you'll need to finish a lot of levels to get enough AP to buff them to a point where the benefit is material.
And if you get into a place where your Advancements really aren't working for you ... well that's a 150 coin cost AP reset. (; I haven't had to do this yet ... but probably would have benefitted from doing it a long while back had I known the value of Crafter speed & Money caches.
Lastly ... keep in mind that Artifacts can offset AP Advancements and vice versa. If you get some really good artifacts, you may not need to keep upgrading the equivalent Advancement if you already have sufficient buffs in that area, so you might be best off spending it elsewhere. Conversely, if you find that you really need to free up an artifact slot to fill a gap you have in-game, you can free up a slot that you either already have sufficient Advancements on, or put upgrades into that advancement to compensate for not using the artifact.
Edited 7/27/2021 22:47:46