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Simul Levels Build to maximize AP per effort: 9/17/2021 16:43:03

Level 61
I’ve been playing around with the AP calculator to develop a “minimalist” build intended to maximize AP/effort. It allows for Simul Level 1 from a base of just 47,324 AP (~3 playthroughs) and further simultaneous levels can be added from this starting point. I’d love to hear any thoughts or suggestions.

I’ll start with a quick caveat, this is obviously an inferior build in terms of AP/time. There should be no confusion that levels can be beat quicker with a more conventional approach. In addition, this strategy essentially requires an AP reset - it should not be treated as a roadmap. For example, buying the Item Sell Value advancement over the Alloy Sell Value advancement is extremely questionable given how 5.14 markets work.

One request I do have is that any feedback comes in the form of a trade-off (i.e. “I think you need to wait for an extra ~5,000 AP in Phase 1 on mercs/army camps/caches to make this viable” or “Increased Alloy Sell Value is an AP-light way to exploit 5.14 markets, I suggest this instead of Auto-Conquer because the AI wastes Joint Strike anyway” rather than an absolute “no Increased Money Cache lol” or “Why do you have Increased AP, it’s bad”. By far, the most difficult part of a build like this is that the thresholds to complete Phases 1-3 are out-of-sync with the utility of Phases 1-3.

Phase 1
Joint Strike (+25%) - maxed
Additional Mercs (+30%)

Phase 2
Auto Conquer (25%)
Mercenary Discount (-50%) - maxed
Increased AP (+23%)

Phase 3
Merc Camp Visibility (30 camps)
Increased Money From Bonuses (+90%)
Increased Item Sell Value (+80%)
Market Visibility (9 markets)

Phase 4
Simultaneous Levels (1 level + more?)

In terms of playstyle, obviously this is set up to have absolutely zero mining/smelting/crafting. The beauty of this is that despite only having one “auto” advancement unlocked, micromanagement would be ultra low. You would log in sporadically to advance towards the next market and hospitals, churn through profitable market purchases when a market is reached, and use this money to buy techs and upgrade hospitals. Techs are limited to what can be acquired from markets and only the merc discount, the +50% increased cache, the army camp discount, and the army camp production tech routes be followed. Extreme inefficiencies by the AI are allowed since we need to buffer in extra time for army camp production with so few mercs anyway. I haven’t played around with this build but have some initial concerns:

1. It would be painful making it to the first market with no Increased Army Camp Production and no Army Camp Discount. This would be mitigated with a Supercharge Army Camp artifact. By sticking to large (>16 hour) levels using the Europe Huge ascension trick, the worst of this phase can be accelerated.

2. With no Increased Alloy Sell Value, it will be painful getting to the second market on maps with no Copper Wire in the first market. I don’t have a great solution to this beyond cherry picking levels that avoid this concern.

3. It will be a struggle completing levels with just +30% Increased Mercs. This is my biggest concern with this build and indeed it may entirely offset the potential benefit of playing levels simultaneously. The question is whether levels take more than twice as long to complete and indeed the breakeven point may be beyond a single simultaneous level.

4. The build goes too far in eschewing low hanging fruit like Increased Money Cache, Increased Resource Cache and Army Camp Discount advancements, which are very very cheap and obviously good value. I think this build is more of a framework and these could certainly be added if you are willing to wait for ~3.5 ascension rather than 3.0 ascensions.

With all this said, I think this build lays the foundation for a “lazy” way to acquire AP quickly. +80% Item Sell Value paired with an Item Sell artifact is essentially infinite money from the moment you hit the first market with a craftable item. Simultaneous Levels paired with Auto-Conquer is a powerful set-and-forget way to churn through levels twice as quickly. Once more AP is acquired, one option could be to “fix” the glaring issues with this build and the other would be to continue adding additional simultaneous levels.

Let me know what you think!
Simul Levels Build to maximize AP per effort: 9/18/2021 00:32:16

Level 25
I'm really bad at doing those exact calculations that you need to evaluate a strategy thoroughly, but even if you want to ignore smelting/crafting you can make money from mines by selling ores and (Auto-)upgrading them, even if you won't conquer mines on purpose, you will always collect a few on your way (by accident). In addition, if you want to call this a lazy strategy, I'd argue that you would need the Auto-Seller. Both of which you don't have to max out if you don't want to reduce level times but effort. If you only take care of your account every once in a while, Auto-Seller at 2h would be just fine. Though, you will probably only want one of them active at a time to not waste too much money on mine upgrades.

Given your listed advancements, I'd say that you took the Phase-unlock-costs too literally (I get it, you were going for a minimalist build). In general, you won't be able to create any reasonable strategy if you only spend 1k in phase 1 and 8k in phase 2 and so on. But that ties in to what you already said that you are missing some essentials. Ultimately, Auto-Conquer is the only necessary adv to achieve a lazy strategy. But even then, your selection of advs seems too focused on a longer level time (e.g. Bonus Money only takes effect when you play one level for a longer time). Which seems a bit counter-intuitive at first glance, when you speak of earning APs lazily. Even a lazy strategy should be moderately efficient to be viably at all, I'd say.

And, when the latest updates were new, I estimated that you can reach phase 4 within one ascension in case you play all of the hardened levels, too. That only said, to put your "~3 playthroughs" in context. I guess this is still based on the old revisions. But I could be wrong with my calculations because I only did a rough estimation and no exact sum.

A few aspects that already catch my eye:
  • If you want to play lazy and use AQ, why do you want to invest in Merc Visibility and Market Visibility? Visibilities suggest an active play-style, AQ a lazy one. (I get your reasoning but these two concepts just are exactly opposed to each other)
  • If you choose laziness over level times, I'd replace Bonus Money with Auto-Sell (and perhaps another stage of Item Sell Values, if APs allow) for the reasons given above.
  • Given that you only have 30% additional mercs, Better Hospitals seem mandatory.
  • If AQ is what makes a strategy lazy, then why not maxing it out?
  • What about the initial stage of Auto-Upgrade Army camps for the early phases of each level? You can always deactivate it as soon as you've reached your first Merc camp.
  • I totally miss idle time. How will this strategy be lazy if you have to come back at least every two hours. Or do you have a good artifact for this?

I like the idea of a lazy strategy. And I hope I could at least give you an option (AUAC) for the initial phases without any markets and mercs.

EDIT: Okay, now I realized how silly my idea with AUAC was, sorry for that. If you multi-level, at the same time where one level will be very early on the other will likely be way more advanced, so activating AUAC then could mess up everything in the advanced level when you don't want to upgrade camps there. That's the shortcoming of having only one set of artifacts/Auto-advs. You had to be really careful to only (auto-)upgrade camps in one of the levels. Quite the opposite of a lazy play-style.

Edited 9/18/2021 11:11:02
Simul Levels Build to maximize AP per effort: 9/19/2021 19:01:39

Level 18
Like @phoenix, I think you've overly restrained yourself by forcing the build to include simultaneous levels as an advancement. It (and the build-up techs like additional AP) has a pretty poor return per AP invested.

Additional AP's impact is easy to quantize: it's +25% (23% for you, though I'll do 25% for easier math), with no added effort. One level of simultaneous AP is +100% in optimal scenarios, with some additional effort. So, the net result is at most +150% AP gain, with a direct cost of 7718 + 13,301 = 21019 AP. Plus all the extra Phase 3 (and phase 2, to an extent) spent to unlock simultaneous levels in the first place probably puts the true cost closer to 40K AP.

For a baseline, I would say a low-effort player will want to check in at most twice per day (once in morning and evening), perhaps 3 times so they don't have to think about it the rest of the time. That means they are only progressing 4 or 6 hours per day with no additional idle time. If you put 1822 AP into increased idle time, that gives 8 hours total, leading to 16 or 24 hours per day, which is a +300% or +200% gain already. I'd consider going all the way up to 12 hours total idle time for 4542 AP to minimize effort.

Another way to find likely higher return is to look at what do you need to do to beat a level. You need to generate some number of armies from army camps, generate some amount of money to upgrade things and buy mercs, and possibly wait for hospitals to upgrade. We can speed up the army camp generation portion of this by +200% for just 1930AP, we can pretty reliably get infinite effective money in 5.14 with +100% alloy sell price (1756AP) and -50% merc cost (1002AP).

With those components taken care of, the only question (which is the same for both low and high-effort strategies) is what fraction of your armies are going to come from camps versus caches versus hospitals versus mercs. Due to the use of auto-conquer and lack of investment in late-game techs, caches will likely only give their base of around 10%, joint strike maybe 10%, hospitals maybe 20%, and base mercs 15%, so you are missing 45% of the armies as a baseline. You can get half of that (22.5%) from additional mercs with no extra effort and 16630AP. For the rest, you either need to play more efficiently (hard without effort), take some in drafts (some effort, though reduced by Increased Draft Sizes advancement), take the increased army cache size and better hospitals advancements, or wait for army camps.

As a concrete counter-proposal, that doesn't bother with any phase 3 or 4 advancements (and could easily be optimized), I would suggest:

  • 25% auto-conquer (392AP)
  • +10hr idle time (4542 AP)
  • +150% additional mercs (16630 AP)
  • +100% alloy sell value (1756 AP)
  • +300% IACP (4380 AP)
  • +300% draft sizes (3405 AP)
  • -50% merc cost (1002 AP)
  • 20% auto-upgrade army camps (1051AP)

Total: 33,158 AP

There's enough leftover you can still grab +25% additional AP here too, even.

Alternative view With 5.14 markets, the least amortized effort might be to pick a few levels you know well, learn the efficient paths to beat them, then play actively every few days and don't play at all in between. You can easily beat high AP levels in < 1 day if you know where the hospitals, markets and a few key recipes are (probably not even required if you have 47K AP to dump between levels). This is more effort in bursts, but I suspect may net you more AP per effort in the long run due to how efficient gameplay can be right now if you know the levels.

Edited 9/19/2021 19:03:00
Simul Levels Build to maximize AP per effort: 9/19/2021 21:47:30

Level 61
Earl, we’re on the same page. What started this line of thought is that an active player can beat most levels in about five hours (assuming they know where hospitals are) if they have something like this:
+200% IACP (1930 AP)
+130% additional mercs (12350 AP)
+25% joint strike (459 AP)
+100% money cache (887 AP)
+100% resource cache (990 AP)
-50% merc discount (1002 AP)
+100% alloy sell value (1756 AP)
~20,000 AP (plus a decent SAC artifact and FC for early game)

Once you’re at this stage, marginal add-ons don’t really help since you still need to wait four hours for hospitals to upgrade from L1 to L2 to L3.

Therefore, there’s really only three places to go from here:
(a) beat levels with L2 hospitals
(b) play more than one level at a time
(c) lower the effort required to beat levels in six hours

(a) involves an insane amount of AP on army caches, hospital boosts and, realistically, item sell value since you need to unlock phase 4

(b) involves an insane amount of AP on simultaneous levels and, realistically again, item sell value

(c) is a little nebulous but it involves heavy usage of auto-conquer and therefore a little more buffer to stretch out armies since the AI is dumb. In practice I think this means squeezing out more from army camps and mercs to make up for what you’re losing on joint strike. Let’s say +150% mercs and -30% army camp upgrades.

There’s a giant chasm between beating levels in ~5 hours (L3 hospitals) off of 20k AP and beating levels in ~3 hours (L2 hospitals) off of xxxk AP. This post is my suggestion of an intermediate between the two stages.
Simul Levels Build to maximize AP per effort: 9/20/2021 07:38:48

Level 56

I think you need to clarify what "effort" means. If it means active playing time, then, ideally, Simultaneous Levels would give double the AP with double the effort, hence would not increase the AP per effort.

I think Simultaneous Levels is only worth getting if we have enough mercs/hospitals/caches. +30% Additional Mercs is just too low. It would take days, if not weeks, for the army camps to produce the armies needed.

Your choice of Phase 3 advancements looks pretty solid. Below are my recommendations on Phase 3 advancements for the people who plan to get any Phase 4 advancements once the 5.14 skip level bugs are fixed.
* Can Skip Levels: 10
* Mercenary Camp Visibility: 50
* Increased Money from Bonuses: 100%
* Increased Item Sell Values: 20%
* Market Visibility: 9
Simul Levels Build to maximize AP per effort: 9/20/2021 17:32:07

Level 61
The phase 3 advancements are incredibly awkward right now. I don’t necessarily disagree with your suggestion to add money bonus. On the one hand, it feels wrong to dump +20% into item sell value knowing you’ll never use it in lieu of +100% alloy sell value. On the other hand, it feels wrong to dump +100% into item sell value when you can achieve the same returns for a fraction of the price on alloy sell value.

Honestly, a market patch is desperately needed because the way markets work now makes either alloys or items completely superfluous. If we are insistent on keeping 5.14 markets then I think we need to have some markets which are uniquely alloys and some which are uniquely items. Or implement the scalar on each alloy/item individually. Or just scrap 5.14 markets altogether and go back to a flat rate. The way they work now in combination with the alloy/item sell value upgrades is completely broken.
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