MSF Beginner's Guide: Where to Stop Powering Up Teams
Last Updated: January 2020
Section 1 - Introduction
My name is Voltagesauce and I’m back with another guide written primarily for beginners. A common question that people ask is when to stop powering up a particular team. A common sentiment on online forums is to just get teams to 6664 (this shorthand is discussed more in Section 4), which is purple ability mats into all abilities, and then decide what to do from there. Unfortunately, that is not realistic for beginners or even mid-game players. I wrote this guide to help give some general guidance, and to share some of the strategies I have been using to develop a well rounded roster with limited resources.
The goal of this guide is to provide a foundation for powering up teams. It isn't meant to be strictly followed and it can vary from team to team. Some characters might have more valuable abilities upgrades than others. It can be worth it to upgrade some characters past the stopping point or not upgrade a certain character as much. For example, maybe upgrading a basic attack on a healer isn’t as crucial to you as upgrading an AOE ability on your damage dealer.
This game is a resource management game, so it’s important to understand that you can’t just fully power up every team. Beginners, especially, have to prioritize their resources. Powering up teams has a very logical structure: it requires more resources to boost characters to higher power levels. If you are using a lot of resources on one character or one team, then those become resources you are not using on other teams. This is why it is important to know where to cut teams off, so you can have a well balanced roster that can generate lots of resources from different game modes.
If you have any questions/feedback about the guide or just want to come chat with other MSF players, I started a discord geared towards beginners: https://discord.gg/bKAFnJn. You can also find my previous guides on the server.
Section 2 - Disclaimers
- There are a lot of philosophies on how to manage your resources and teams. My approach is more focused on ability mats than on gear levels. This approach is a little harder on your gold. Another other approach is to level up just when you are ready for the next gear piece, but I find that to really slow down your progress on teams. For example, you could be at Gear Level (GL) 11 at lvl60, but my recommendation is only GL10. It takes approximately twice as much purple gear to go from GL8 to GL11 versus from GL8 to GL10, so this would allow you to get your character’s abilities to 6664 quicker.
- I try to give some examples of where I think teams fit in the current meta. This can drastically change depending on your situation. If you pull really good red stars on teams that can be a good reason to change their stopping point. Or, if you are in an alliance that wants you to build up certain teams for war or raids, then that might change these recommendations.
- I am going to use the abbreviation #### to simply the ability mats of characters. The first number is a character’s basic ability. Second number is the special. Third is the ultimate. And fourth is the passive. For example, 6664 means that basic, special, and ultimate are at level 6 and the passive is at level 4. This is a common phrase because 6664 is when purple abilities are maxed out on a character. (As a side note, minions only have 3 abilities, but I won’t always highlight that.)
- Edit: The data used to create the graphs is from msf.gg should be taken as approximations.
Section 3 - Philosophy
My overall philosophy in the game is to be focused on investing resources into characters that are going to give me the most resources in return. In my opinion, the cores rewarded from Arena are some of the most valuable resources, so an Arena team is a top priority for investment. After focusing my attention on Arena, I focus on my Raid teams because there is a lot of room to gain important resources. When I’m not working on those modes, I’m typically making sure my legendary unlock teams are powered up enough - both to unlock legendaries and rank them up. Lastly, I focus on meta War and teams. I just make my Blitz teams based on who I have powered up. I don’t invest resources specifically for Blitz.
An important aspect of this game is that most modes are extremely team oriented. There are times to work on individual characters, but primarily I recommend focusing on working on full teams and keeping them fairly even in power. Teams will generally be most effective when they are balanced, especially in modes like War and Blitz. One, because their abilities tend to combo well together if they are powered up equally. Two, because you will find yourself in a lot of matchups outnumbered (1v4 or 2v5) if you have one or two characters significantly higher than the others. It can be hard to keep teams balanced if you pull a good red star, but you can try to balance levels, gear, and ability levels.
Many of the stopping points are transition points between different color gear or ability mats. A common strategy of mine is to work on one character that needs purple gear and ability mats while working on one whole team that needs blue gear and ability mats.
Other reasons for stopping points are big jumps in cost or big jumps in benefits. I tried to choose places to stop where you get the “most bang for your buck”. So, this is either stopping right before you have to make a big investment, or pushing teams a bit further to gain a big benefit.
For each stopping point there will be a few examples of teams using this general philosophy. The examples are also going to be based on the current meta, so some of these examples could quickly change if new characters are added or if counter teams are introduced. As mentioned above, this is just a guideline - your experience may vary based on your red stars, the needs of your alliance, or just your personal preference on teams that are more fun.
The stopping points are also not meant to be where you take these teams immediately after unlocking them. As a beginner, you will not have the resources to build up all teams. You will have to leave teams at lower stopping points until you have the time and resources to build them up to my recommended points.
Section 4 - Resources
In the introduction I talked about this being a resource management game. There are a few resources I want to cover in this guide that are primary for powering up teams before I jump into the stopping points.
Gold is the most important resource when it comes to powering up teams. Both gear level and ability levels are restricted by characters level, which cost gold. At the beginning of the game, gold doesn’t seem like too much of a bottleneck, but that is because the cost to level up characters has exponential characteristics (i.e. really expensive to level up toons to higher levels). Here is a chart to visualize the cost:
On this chart you can see that level up costs start to increase steadily between levels 37-43 until approximately 60-64. And then starts to skyrocket beyond that point. The max level currently is 75, so there are about 15 levels where it is a huge investment to level characters.
Ability mats are probably the most fun resource in the game because they make your abilities in fights noticeably stronger. A warning about ability mats is that they can “inflate” your characters’ power, which will make them less effective. For example, upgrading a big AOE damage ability is awesome and might increase the character’s power by a lot, but their health did not change at all. So they still die just as easily as before even though they are at a higher power. It is important to increase gear level at a similar pace to level and ability level even though it might not appear to have as much impact on a character’s power.
Similar to gold, ability mats cost a higher amount as you upgrade your characters’ abilities. Each level of an ability is unlocked when the character reaches a certain level and it is the same for all characters. Here is a chart showing the cost of abilities available at each level:
Again, there is a somewhat slow growing curve until you get close to level 40. The rest of the abilities start to increase in cost quickly as your characters are leveled beyond 40. In addition to the increased amount required, the difficulty of obtaining the ability mat resources gets harder depending on the color. Green is easiest and orange is hardest. Purple and orange mats are very important to prioritize. To give a baseline, I have been playing almost 9 months and have upgraded around 16 orange abilities total, so not quite 2 abilities a month! This can vary depending on your alliance, but the point is that they are hard to acquire and should be used on important abilities.
Gear level is an extremely important aspect of powering up your characters, but it can often get overlooked because it isn’t as flashy as upgrading ability levels or as easy as leveling up. It can be tedious and frustrating, but it is a core part of upgrading characters because it upgrades their stats. Like the other resources, it becomes increasingly harder to upgrade the gear levels of characters. This chart shows an approximate amount of gear pieces (a few characters averaged together) needed for each gear level:
The amount of gear a character needs starts to increase pretty drastically after GL5. It is important to find stopping points because not many characters can get taken to GL12 on a beginner’s roster. In particular, purple gear is a significant investment because it is harder to obtain than green or blue gear.
There is also orange gear, but that is a different animal because it is not farmable. I would only recommend using orange gear on characters you plan to use in Dark Dimension II to obtain Ultron.
Another interesting aspect of gear I found is that characters’ stats increase by the same percentage per gear level. This chart shows the percentage increases for each gear level:
There are a few things that jumped out to me about this information. First, is that there is a large increase from GL7 to GL8. This will be one of my recommended stopping points for certain teams. Second, there is a significant dropoff after GL11, so I do not recommend taking many teams passed GL11.
Another resource used to power up teams is training modules. In my experience, and in talking to others, not many players have issues with lack of training modules if they use their energy and do the “Training Day” challenge. Because of that, I will not be covering it in this guide.
Character Shards/Star Level
The last primary resources to power up teams are character shards/star level. For beginners, I think these should be treated differently than the other resources, so I will not be covering them here. Instead of farming just to improve teams, the primary goal early on should be farming characters to unlock legendaries and to start Dark Dimension I (requires 5 characters at 6*). I don’t think it was until after I unlocked Ultron that I started farming characters specifically to increase their stats and make my teams stronger. If you read my other guides you’ll notice that I recommend primarily buying character orbs from the Blitz and Raid stores. This will increase the star level of many characters “passively”, which will help you when you want to use them later.
There are also red stars, which can significantly increase the power of individual characters. These are not farmable, so players have very little control over the characters they have at high red stars. Pulling a high red star (probably 5RS or higher) may be a reason to focus on a particular toon. But overall, I will not be including red stars in the stopping points for teams since it is out of players’ control.
Section 5 - Stopping Point 1: The Useless Toons
Level 1, Gear Level 1, 1111
This first stopping point may sound silly at first, but some teams are really just not worth investing in at all. As a beginner, even green and blue gear and ability mats have to be prioritized, so it is better to put those resources into characters and teams that you will use later. There are so many characters in the game that when you’ve unlocked the majority of them you will have too many to use them all, even in Blitz and War.
If you are still in your first 30 days of the game, and in your beginner Blitz shard, then it may be worth pushing some characters to Stopping Point 2, even if they are not super useful. It is important to take advantage of your beginner Blitz because you can get a lot of shards for characters that you won’t be able to once you join the normal Blitz.
- Hydra - The hydra minions are some of the worst characters in the game. This may change in the future if they are reworked with a Red Skull release
- Ravagers - There aren’t even enough of them to make a full team right now. The only reason to put resources into them would be if you were using them for the Starlord Legendary Event.
- Mercenaries - You will want to invest in 5 mercs for the Payday Flash event, but the others could be left behind.
- Hand - You will want to invest in 5 hand members for the Catalyst Flash Event, but the others could be left here.
- Random characters - Nebula, Night Nurse, Antman, Wasp. These aren’t necessarily all bad characters, but they don’t have any obvious meta teams.
Section 6 - Stopping Point 2: New Unlocks & the Homeless
Level 25, Gear Level 4, 3221
After playing the game for a little while you start to have essentially unlimited green gear pieces and ability mats. This stopping point allows you to max out the green gear and abilities on all characters. This became my stopping point for all new characters that I unlocked. The only real downside was spending a little bit of gold to get them to this point. I enjoyed taking toons up to this stopping point because GL4 is when all of their abilities are unlocked. This gave me a chance to play around with the characters a little bit in Blitz and see their full kits in action.
- All the same teams listed above: Once I got a little deeper in the game I moved everyone from Stopping Point 1 to Stopping Point 2.
- Any new character unlocks: anytime I unlock a character I push them at least here immediately. The characters which I don’t have the rest of their team unlocked generally stay here. For example, I still have some of the new Inhumans sitting here.
- Homeless characters: This is a team oriented game. There can be pretty good characters that don’t see much play because they are lacking a good team. This is a common place to leave those characters that just don’t have a team to call home.
Section 7 - Stopping Point 3: Default Shield Teams
Level 38, Gear Level 5, 4,4,3,2
Especially at first there is a lot of gear levels that need blue gear, so you can’t push a lot of teams higher than this. I like this stopping point because it is only a little bit of a blue gear investment that allows you to upgrade a few of your blue abilities. It provides teams will a big enough boost that they can start contributing in war. I called this section “Default Shield Teams” because this is the stopping point I liked to take some teams so I could contribute in Alliance War. A full team of characters at this tier can typically beat a default shield team on Attack, or replace a default shield team on Defense.
There is a big jump between stopping points 3 and 4 because there isn’t much value in having teams between them. This means that A LOT of your roster will be here at first. For the first few months, only my defenders and Starlord unlock team were above this stopping point.
As I mentioned, I think this is a really good stopping point for most teams at the start of your game. Pretty much every team that isn’t the defenders and your first legendary unlock team could stay here for a while. I will also give you some examples of teams I have had stopped here for a while.
- Hero Brawlers: They are a decent meta team, but they don’t unlock anyone or help in most other game modes.
- Wakandans: Shuri is awesome, but as a team they are just okay. I will bump them up when I get a chance, but at this point they don’t contribute outside of war and blitz.
- Teams without their legendary: This was a common spot for me to leave teams before I unlocked their legendary: Brotherhood without magento, or X-Men without Phoenix. Legendaries complete their teams, so I generally didn’t push teams much further past this until I unlocked them.
Section 8 - Stopping Point 4: War Meta Sweet Spot
Level 50, Gear Level 8, 5553
This has recently become my favorite stopping point (Especially after unlocking Ultron and working on war teams.) I call this my war meta sweet-spot because it allows me to finish off all blue gear and abilities, plus three cheap purple abilities. This stopping point allows a lot of teams to start building their chemistry and synergies, but without the heavy resource investment into pushing further.
GL8 is also a great place to get characters to because it provides a significant stat boost increases compared to the earlier gear levels. At the same time you don’t have to start investing purple gear yet, which is great because you probably need purple gear for you arena and raid teams.
At this point, I started to notice my teams being more successful in war - both on attack and on defense. It also allowed me to get more meta teams to a useable level without investing all the way to stopping point 5, which takes a lot longer. Comparing the cost of the purple ability mats, it takes approximately 60% longer to go to 6664 then it does to go to 5553. The purple gear slows it down even more than this since you are going for blue gear to a lot of purple gear.
This is also a comfortable power level to unlock legendaries. You don’t necessarily have to have teams at this power level, but you can generally feel confident if you have your unlock teams at this stopping point. Depending on the legendary and your red stars, this might even be close for the 6* level. (Some are much easier than others.)
This will primarily be the meta war teams that you haven’t had a chance to push higher, and teams that aren’t used to unlock legendaries.
- Kree: Decent team and has a lot of flexibility. Doesn’t really need to go past here until you need more power for a higher star level Fury. They don’t provide much outside of War except for a bit of Greek nodes.
- Sinister Six: Really solid team and used for both Shuri and Invisible Women. This is a good stopping point until you are ready to 7* those legendaries.
- Marauders: Fairly new team, but doesn’t have a 5th member yet. Most of them don’t get used too much outside of war, so I think this is a good stopping point until you have more resources.
- AIM: This has become a really solid war team, and could move up to the next tier - especially if you want to use them in raids. If you are just using them in war, then I think there are still some higher priority teams. And at this point they aren’t used for any legendary or flash event.
Section 9 - Stopping Point 5: Full Synergy
Level 60, Gear Level 10, 6664
I would guess that this is the most commonly recommended stopping point for most teams. And for good reason. Many teams don’t work “properly” until you get them to this stopping point. What I mean by this is that their abilities don’t necessarily combo well together until they get their purple abilities maxed out. For example, Rescue gets her ultimate one turn earlier at ability level 6, which allows the Power Armor team to start their combo one turn earlier. If you look through other level 6 abilities you can find lots of abilities that really become their own and define the character’s kit at this level. Because of this, I could understand people that choose to skip Stopping Point 4 and push straight to Stopping Point 5. It would really push a team to the next level. Once I got Ultron and built my U7 team, I took a more broad approach so that I could have more meta teams for War.
This is also a good stopping place because it is the last one before significant resource investment. As mentioned in the resource section, level up starts to cost a lot of gold, orange abilities are extremely hard to come by, and you need a ton of purple gear to increase gear levels.
This is a great place to leave meta war teams that you aren’t ready to make orange ability mat investment into.
- Supernatural: Awesome war team and can be used to breeze through the Mystic Campaign.
- Asgardians: One of the top defense war teams. Especially when/if they become farmable they would be one of the top meta teams to take to the next stopping point.
- Coulson Shield: One of the top defense war teams.
- Fantastic Four: Awesome war attack team.
- Power Armor: Another awesome war attack team.
- Brotherhood: This team could easily move up to stopping point 6, or past it, if they are your primary arena team. They are a strong attack team for war.
Section 10 - Stopping Point 6: Last Call & T4s
Level 65, Gear Level 11, 6664 or higher
This is the last stopping point in this guide because it is primarily focused on beginners. I wouldn’t recommend taking any teams passed this except potentially Arena, Dark Dimension II, and Raid teams (mostly for U7). Exceptions could be made for certain characters to get specific orange abilities (T4s).
This stopping point works out well for a few reasons. First, it allows you to put T4s into character’s passive abilities. An overwhelming amount of the best orange abilities are character’s passives. Another reason is that GL11 is the most rewarding gear level in terms of the percentage of stat increases. As shown in the resources section, there is a significant dropoff after GL11, so there is not as much reason to push past this stopping point.
- Defenders: I recommend new players use Defenders to start the game. But this is also where I recommend that players stop powering them up. My opinion is that when you get them here it is about time to be unlocking your first legendary. They are a great early game team, but they get left behind by a lot of the other meta teams in almost every game mode.
- X-Men: Top team in the game right now. They can beat any team in War and contribute in many other game modes
- BKT: One of the best teams for U6 raids. Also, great for war. They can also replace Thanos with Vision and be a very strong arena team. They can move past this stopping point if they are the arena team. It is also common to use many members of this team for DD2.
Section 11 - Conclusion
If you made it this far, thanks for reading. I hope this helps some people figure out how to prioritize different resources, and where to stop powering up different teams. As I’ve said before, these are loose guidelines that have worked for me that will hopefully give you some idea of where to take your teams. If you have specific questions then come chat with me at the discord for beginners: https://discord.gg/bKAFnJn
One of the biggest pieces of advice I’d give to newer players is to not over invest in the Defenders. They are awesome and feel unstoppable at the beginning, but you can quickly fall behind when others start unlocking legendaries and other meta teams. If you invest too much into the defenders, those become resources you can’t put into better teams. Defenders are a great team for completing Dark Dimension I, but from what others have told me are not very good for Dark Dimension II. Ride the Defenders wave and figure out when you want to jump off.
And as usual, my final reminder is that MSF is a game, and there is no right way to play. I write these guides for people who want to be efficient with their resources and compete at a high level in many different game modes. If you enjoy certain teams more than others and don’t care about the meta, invest in them and have fun.