Another long weekend another binge. The last time I spent this much time on a video game was late 2016 playing the web-based browser game Generals.io. This time we get to a more advanced genre in the mobile game Alliance: Heroes of the Spire.
Alliance is a mobile device RPG set in a fantasy world. The main storyline follows you, a new commander, and your collection of summoned heroes in pursuit of an evil spirit Vortryn. The Spire is the primary base for the good heroes of the world, and you must protect it. Outside of the main storyline players can explore side dungeons, participate in regularly occurring events and festivals, and join alliances for impending multiplayer features.
Summary: 8/10. Great visuals, fun RPG, auto-battles is the best. Lots of potential with improving multiplayer and alliance war features.
There's lots to remember in this guide. To help you scale, try using my app Harvest, the easiest way to grow your mind. Write or highlight any text and automatically receive reminders on the content (Add it from the Chrome store).
Join my alliance "Slackers", and if you are before level 10, help me help you by using my referral code:
See you in the leaderboards!
Table of Contents
- Tips and Tricks
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
- Things I Like
- Things I Dislike
- Engagement and Retention
Tips and Tricks
Lock your favorite heroes. Since fusion is a huge part of the game, and you will be doing it a lot, make sure to "lock" your favorite heroes to avoid accidentally fusing them. To do so, go to your Base -> Barracks -> Info on your heroes and check "Lock Hero".
Always be exploring rifts. If you're a VIP 0 (non-paying player), then you will only have two airships at any one time. They should always be exploring one of the randomly-spawning rifts (or, if an Epic Rift appears, drop everything and explore that one!). Time is a huge element in these games and you always want to be doing something as your resources replenish.
Battle in the Arena or run Path of the Ancients concurrently. Both Arena battles and Path of the Ancients require resources (Arena tokens and energy), but the good thing is neither of them require airships. You can be auto-battling 10 elements or 10 map stages, and still visit the Arena or the Path.
Gauge whether to keep or feed a hero. Starting with version 1.2, you can now see what rating people are giving to heroes. Press and hold on a hero's icon (whether in barracks, hero collection, or from chat) to see the pop-up of the hero. The rightmost tab will show "Rate Hero", and you can vote yourself and see what others have voted this hero - "Must Have", "Keep", or "food.
Set attack order for dungeons. You should always be auto-battling to maximize efficiency (and so you don't have to sit there babysitting your battles). One trick to increase your success rate for harder dungeons is to set the attack order to prioritize heroes to focus on. For example, if you want to kill off the "arms" first for a boss dungeon, set the arms as your top 1 and 2 targets before finishing off the body.
Save Epic+ cores for certain events. Every few festivals/events, there are new heroes introduced (at least for the near future until we max out on heroes). By saving your Epic+ cores for when these events go live, and consequently new heroes become available, you can get a jump on getting these new heroes if you happen to roll them. Many of the attempts to get the better 4* and 5* heroes require the new heroes as prerequisites, so rolling them through Epic+ cores will let you use your Riftstones for the better Shard rolls.
What are Lily Shards? You can buy Lily Shards through your Alliance store. When you get a full set, you can summon Lily, one of the best healers in the game (at least in the beginning).
What is the difference between "Crit" and "Crit Mult"? "Crit" is the % chance that any ability will do "critical" value ie. increased value - can be to both enemies or allies. "Crit Mult" is the multiplier effect when an ability does critical value, and so is dependent on an ability doing "Crit" in the first place. For early to mid stage heroes, "Crit" will be more valuable as the net effect of "Crit Mult" is low due to low "Crit".
What do I use Skill Wisps for? Skill Wisps are one of the rarest heroes in the game. Normally, you can only level up a hero's skills by fusing the same hero type into your hero (eg. fuse a red ranger into a green ranger to skill up a random skill of the green ranger). With a Skill Wisp, you can fuse it into any hero and level up one of the hero's skills.
How do I evolve a hero? Heroes start with a "natural" number of a stars, 1 through 6. At each level a hero can reach a level that is at most the number of stars multiplied by 10; so a 1 star hero can reach level 10, a 2 star hero can reach level 20, and so forth. When a hero reaches its max level, you can fuse that star number of other same-star heroes into it (eg. a 3-star level 30 hero requires three other 3-star heroes) to evolve the hero to the next number of stars.
When should I sacrifice/fuse a hero? Heroes can be fused in for XP, evolution, or skill-ups. The first two are easy to gauge. The last one is important: if you get a hero of the same "type" (eg. blue fairy, red fairy, green fairy, order fairy, chaos fairy), regardless of the color, you can fuse it into another one to "skill up" that a random skill of that hero's, same as what a Skill Wisp does. Very useful and important to use.
What does Aim do? Aim is one of the seven different attributes you can upgrade for a hero (HP, Power, Crit, Crit Mult, Speed, Block, Aim). The higher a hero's Aim, the more likely they will land their skill effects (such as debuffs).
What is the best equipment for xxx hero? Start with your hero's skills. What do they do? Which attributes make your skills stronger? Roland (and all Paladins), for example, get increased damage with Armor; thus, you can equip them with Coldsteel set equipment to get the set bonuses of +15% Armor. Every 2-piece set gives you the +15% Armor, for a max total of three +15% Armor increases. Later on you will start getting creative and taking advantage of more advanced skills - like Ironclaw's counterattack.
Another good method is to check how the "pros" are equipping your same hero - the Arena has a global leaderboard. Press and hold on a user to open up their barracks, which allows you to check out how they are outfitting their heroes.
Who should I evolve first? This is an age-old question. Some general advice is that, if you're playing for the long game, you should evolve a "farmer" hero up to 6* and use that farmer to level up other heroes by solo-ing master level dungeons. The official forum has a basic farmer guide to get you started. If you're playing for fun, then evolve your best heroes (usually your highest natural * hero) or whoever you enjoy using.
What are alliances good for? There are many advantages to joining an alliance. First and foremost, Alliance (the game) is at heart a social game; you play for the heroes and the rolling, but you stay for the community. Aside from the fluff, alliances have a few direct benefits:
- If anyone in the alliance spends money, then everyone in the alliance gets small rewards
- Alliances achieve collective "conquest" rewards by completing elemental or equipment dungeon battles
- Ascending heroes is only available through alliance resources (and you definitely need to be ascending heroes)
- Items like Skill Wisps are only purchasable via the alliance store
And one day soon, there will be Alliance Wars. God help those who are left alliance-less.
What should I spend my gems on? Gems are the universal currency of the game. You can trade them in for any of the other currencies, and it is the only currency you can use to majorly boost your alliance's exp and level. If you are Free to Play (F2P), then the best use is the Premium pack, 750 gems for 11 Epic cores and 3 Big XP wisps. This pack is the best way to increase your chances of getting the coveted 4* and 5* heroes that will greatly increase your chances of staying competitive.
Things I Like
The original Pokemon was synonymous with Gotta Catch 'Em All, all 150 of 'em. Alliance boasts "hundreds of unique heroes", over "19 unique item sets", as well as 5 different elements (Fire, Water, Nature, Order, and Chaos)1 - which combinatorially brings us well over the original number of pocket monsters and more than enough to entice our human urge to collect things. Heroes come aplenty at every stage of the game, and your Barracks will be one of the most viewed areas as you play. You pray every time you roll an Epic Hero Core that you will get a strong hero (4 stars or more). You shrug off the rolls of regular Hero Cores, knowing that the myriad of 1 and 2 star heroes will be "fused" into your stronger heroes for more XP. Even still, I found myself unconsciously trying to keep a few of the "cool" heroes in my roster despite never using them. Classic collectibles mentality.
Where was this feature back when I played Final Fantasy!? Auto-battling is the ultimate set-and-forget. You can sit back and watch your heroes automatically select skills, target enemies, and fight to the finish, complete with battle animations. Even more ridiculous is auto-battle without animations - you can set your heroes to auto-battle through a stage up to 10 times, and just watch a progress bar as they "fight" their way through. In mobile games, there is usually a time element that forces you to wait for things to happen (or pay money to expedite). With no-animation auto-battle, you can leave the app and your heroes will still finish their battles. Now this is worker automation I can get behind.
The one-line most recent global chat at the top center of the main screen is a constant reminder that you are not alone. This feature felt cluttered at first, but grew on me. I liked seeing what cool heroes people have rolled, ascended, or evolved (4 stars and above only), and most of the chatter is reasonable if not terribly interesting. A quick tap opens up to a fuller page. As more players join, the global chat will need to be redesigned or risk becoming a continuous scroll.
Festivals and Events
These occur every week and last for about a week. We get introduced to new stories about the world, new quests and rewards, and often new heroes. So far, the events have alternated between an "Element-based" event like Nature, Fire, Water, and a "Hero-based" event like Dragons, Unicorns, Warriors. Leading up to each event there is a ton of hype as we get a preview of the element type or new heroes available!
Things I Dislike
Alliances and Dueling Arena
The overall feel of the game is still very much a single-player RPG: there is a main story arc, area map, side dungeons, side quests, and a focus on leveling up and collecting heroes. Alliances and the Dueling Arena are the social options. In an Alliance, you can join up, contribute XP, watch your leaderboard, nominally level up your Alliance and get separate rewards and resources... but the experience is unnecessary to the main story (besides the arbitrary requirement to use Alliance-only resources to "upgrade" ascended heroes). The Dueling Arena likewise feels like a standalone side dungeon where you can battle other player's teams for extra resources. Just another outlet for spending time.
The sheer number of different resources is overwhelming. Gems, gold, energy, dueling tokens, temple keys, valor medals, alliance honor, alliance essences, hero cores, epic hero cores, banners, spire stones, elemental essences, wisps... not to mention chocolates and roses during the Valentine's festival. I get that mobile games are all about quick hits of reward adrenaline, but this variety is tiptoeing the ADHD line. I still have no idea what banners do.
Edit: I get what banners do now. There are different "Events" going on at any point in time (which I think is a great idea for Engagement and Retention) and when I first joined there was a "Founder's Festival" event that required players to run dungeons and maps to gather event-specific resources, like banners.
Engagement and Retention
I saw this game feature first in Blizzard's MOBA Heroes of the Storm - every day, you get a random assortment of "quests" that you can complete to get some reward. Tutorials use these checklists to teach you how to play and point out various in-game features. Daily quests are somewhat of a continuation; at first, I was still learning new game mechanics and possibilities as I completed the quests. Soon the quests became checklists for a decent resource reward. Gotta get my daily quests in.
How do you get players to come back every day? By incentivizing them to do so of course. Daily Login gives you increasingly better rewards as you come back, all the way to Day 24 when you get a Order and Chaos Epic Core. Order and Chaos heroes are (arguably) the strongest heroes in the game, so. Drool-worthy? (and potentially 24-days-later-worthy)
Alliance XP Contribution
Ah the strength of public scrutiny. When you are in an Alliance-- and the game practically compels you to join one since you get extra rewards and ascension upgrade options when you do--, you join a team of players who hold each other accountable: a leaderboard shows who has been contributing XP. Low-contributing members often get kicked out of the Alliance. XP contribution options are restricted by time; after you contribute to the maximum allowable amount, you need to wait before the amount refreshes. Notifications and badge numbers keep you coming back to contribute. No one likes a slacker.
The best analogy I have to the act of opening cores and summoning heroes is gambling. Slots, specifically. You get hero cores, you go to your summoning platform, and you roll:
- Regular cores usually give a 1 or 2 star hero and rarely give a 3 star hero
- Epic cores usually give a 3 star hero and rarely give a 4 star hero
- Legendary cores usually give a 4 star hero and rarely give a 5 star hero
And so forth. Talk to anyone on chat and they will tell you of the bad luck they always get from rolling cores. The global chat will, however, fill your screen with the awesome 4-5-6 star hero rolls people get and give you FOMO. Remember it's just a Confirmation Bias (the game only shows you the few good rolls, and you never see the bad streaks).
"Roll. Pray." Alliance Swag T-ShirtShow off your (lack of) luck on Epic Core rolls with some Alliance swag.
Great visuals, fun RPG with the added element of collectibles, and auto-battling is the best. By itself though, the single-player game is not enough to keep me hooked past a week or two; there are tons of better RPGs out there. What's going to keep me coming back is if there is a better multiplayer aspect. Alliance wars and politics, trading, dueling, multiplayer quests, all could be implemented or improved. High hopes for the team behind (including my buddy Jerry) to evolve Alliance to the next level!
Help me help you by using my referral code:
Also, join my Alliance "Slackers" to prepare for the impending Alliance wars! See you in the leaderboards.