Otherworldly’s guide to power-lvling

So I’ve always wondered what the fastest way to lvl 1-60 is, and I decided to take an afternoon before the server-side 100% exp bonus ran out to do some testing. What follows is a somewhat detailed account of what I believe to be the fastest way to lvl with current content (1.29a). This definitely won’t read as a guide for those brand new to the game. It’s mostly meant for people who would like to prestige quickly to churn out extra costumes, or those who just enjoy lvling fast and setting a PR. Few of these concepts are new, but I’ve yet to find a detailed guide on it so I thought I’d share with yall.

GEAR

Core

The single-most important piece of gear for both speed and survivability will be your costume core. Many people likely don’t pick up cores before lvl 60, when it’s actually the other way around for me. Between A.R.M.O.R. drives and Reliquary of Rarities, I find no need to pick up lvl 60 cores unless I have nothing better to do like waiting in xdef or raids for the next fight. At lvl 30-40 though, I’m always on the lookout for 25%/100 cores. For almost every hero, spirit is the great inhibitor for speed runs. As soon as you’re able to equip a spirit-on-medkit core you’ll basically never run out except on the most spirit hungry heroes. So put that extra costume you got for prestiging to use and pop 4 offensive affixes on it, with an emphasis on ‘dmg vs targeting you’ since 95% of your LQ runs will be solo, unless you’re a summoner or like to use a team-up. The instant 3k health is invaluable for staying alive in boss fights. If you can’t find a 25%/100, an invul core will do nicely. Cores start showing up as low as lvl 30 – the lower the better in this case.

Medallion

Many would think that a well-rolled Mole Man Medallion is BiS here, but Magneto’s is far better for its spirit cost reduction. Even a +12% exp Mole suffers a lot from diminishing returns since it’s likely you’re running some buffs when doing this, at times north of +300%. I can explain this concept in the comments if someone requests it. A Mag medal that you can equip before you even hit 20 can roll as high as -20% (highest I’ve seen), with -22% being the max for Medallions. Once you get spirit management under control at lvl 45+, feel free to swap this out for Mole Man, DPS, or Jugs for the invul proc. I tend to just keep mine in because -> lazy. Note that the 1% loss of health per hit is negligible since it has an internal cooldown.

Insignia

Not a big deal as the stats just won’t matter that much during runs. This is where the spirit on kill/orb pickup ones actually shine though.

Ring

Any cosmic ring as soon as you can get it. The stats don’t matter as it’s the +1 skills that matters most, though like your Insig spirit on orb pickup/kill helps.

Artifacts

Cybernetic Implant(lv.13), Super-Soldier Serum(lv.25), Phoenix Feather(lv.27), Crimson Crystal of Cyttorak(lv.27), Ringed Ruby of Raggadorr(lvl.23) are some examples. You can also just use visual artifacts since they can be equipped at lvl 1 with a blessing, but the +1 skills from CI, death proc from PF, invul from CCoC and RRoR are really nice. RRoR also is great for early spirit management. Don’t forget to add your third arti at lvl 45. Pym’s Shrinking(lv.44) is a nice option for dodge heroes since it will essentially give you unlimited spirit. Xerogen(lv.45) is also nice for the move speed and DPS. Idol of Khonshu(lv.39), Metasensory Array(lv.37), Amulet of Agamotto(lv.39) are other options. You will absolutely shred bosses once you’re able to use your lvl 50 premium artis so swap them in as soon as they come online.

Blessings

Since your crit is low pre-60 and spirit is crucial, I’m sure that you’ll want to go with Blessing of Odin for the +5% base dmg vs. Bosses and 7 spirit on kill rather than the typical Hela. It’s up to you to decide if you want to burn 1-4 blessings on Odin instead of Hela. Note that you only need 4 since you can just swap them to a new arti or unbind for your next hero. I actually just use Hela but probably should spend the marks on some Odin blessings in the future.

Pet

As with your Medallion and Omegas, avoid falling into the +INT trap unless you’re a summoner. Roll with a +3 STR or applicable stat for the spirit reduction and DPS. +Spirit on basic helps a bit, but I prefer the flat +50 spirit since it lets me dash more in the early lvls.

Relic

If your hero has a terrible mobility spell like Black Widow, go with Snakeroot. Otherwise, borrow a Gibborim stack from your Iron Man because the massive spirit boost will let you dash for days.

Runeword

River of the soul at lvl 25 is great for spirit management. Don’t waste rare runes here.

Slots 1-5

This is a good place to pick up a ton of time – not by paying attention to your slot 1-5 gear, but rather by ignoring it. Every minute you pore over your gear looking for small improvements is one fewer LQ completed. If you’re gearing a fresh hero it’s pretty valuable to pick up and save a set of low lvl uniques to reuse for prestiging. I currently use one wave of slot 1-5 gear all with a lvl req of 20 or lower, and only re-equip once at lvl 35ish. The difference between slot 2-4 lvl 20 gear and lvl 60 actually isn’t that much dps-wise since most of it comes from the +skills and there often isn’t a large jump in ranks. If you want extra survivability go ahead and swap out gear as needed since the health and defense will ramp up quite a bit.

STRATEGY

My method requires some credits, but it’s the fastest way to lvl AFAIK. It’s a bit more difficult now that we have ICP, but still viable and costs me about 1mil credits from lvl 20-60. Keep in mind I’m running +260% exp with the +100% server side boost, so if you’re running with less than this it will cost >1mil credits to get to 60. You’re going to re-roll every LQ that isn’t a terminal not named Doom, save a few story quests. If you’re not a teleporter or otherwise highly mobile, I’d also reroll MODOK and Mandarin, but that mostly depends on how much you enjoy those terms/know the maps.

The story quests are:
Shocker(ch.1), Doc Oct (ch.1), Taskmaster (ch.2), Hood (ch.2), Lady Deathstrike (ch.5), Jug (ch.5), Dr. Reaverstein (ch.7)

I would stay away from the “Bunker Buster” Magneto fight as it tends to be too high risk. If you die on H or SH mode you get an exp debuff and both Magneto and Pyro are tough unless you have your ult ready. Note that for Lady Deathstrike there is a pile of ammo boxes right as you begin that will give you 10/10 instantly. For the Jug one initiate the evacuation event first, then go kill Jug. You don’t need to protect them at all and it times perfectly to where you should be done with Jug and the 75 purifiers just as the last mutant is escaping. Then you can choose to bodyslide or run to the entrance or exit. You’ll probably want a bodyslide available for Shocker and Taskmaster so keep that in mind. Also keep in mind that the story ones require you to switch to the correct difficulty and if you get a repeat you’ll have to switch difficulties/switch back to refresh the instance.

There may be a few LQs that I’m omitting so leave a comment if you think there’s one fast enough to warrant inclusion!

GREEN OR RED?

This was the big question I hoped I’d answer today in testing, since I always figured that term LQs were the fastest way to 60. I’d need a bigger sample size to answer this definitively, but I have a pretty good idea just based on today’s data and the general feel of previous runs. Doing an LQ in reds tend to give somewhere in the range of 1.35-1.5x the exp of doing the same LQ in greens, due to the exp from the boss and minions being higher. So if reds and greens took the same amount of time, we’d obviously only do reds. This is definitely not the case and gets exaggerated in lower lvls. Regardless of having a rank 5 legendary, 2 blessings, 5 uniques, and a fully lvled pet, a lvl 20 hero will struggle mightily against red bosses. In my 3 1-60 runs today I did one of only greens, one of only reds, and a hybrid that I assumed would yield the fastest time (it did). In short, my green run was faster than red up until lvl 40. This is mostly due to the fact that red fights are lengthy and difficult at lower lvls, even after spending 4k Omegas at lvl 30. The longer the fight and more difficult the path through minions to the boss, the more amplified the lack of spirit management – reds simply aren’t worth the extra exp until the fights get easier.

THE CHRISTMAS METHOD

MH 2015 really takes hero/villain lvls seriously. Even if fully geared, a lvl 40 hero in a red Kurse fight will feel like soloing Surtur. However, that same fight at lvl 44 will feel like beating up on a defenseless Doop. Each terminal instance spans 5 lvls, so take advantage of this to determine whether you choose red or green. In general, you want to take the green pill if you’re in the first 2 lvls of the range (i.e. 40, 41, 45, 46). There are some exceptions, as I’ve found reds to be exceedingly difficult regardless of being lvl 24 in the 20-24 range or 29 in the 25-29 one. Best to stick to greens until you can unlock your Omegas. Another exception I found is once you hit lvl 51 and get to use your balla-tier artis like Gorilla Necklace and full suite of skills, you’ll shred red terms no matter how low you are in the lvl range. Similarly, you’ll find some bosses to be easy regardless of lvl as Mr. Sin and Mandarin tend to be squishy, while Shocker, Doc Oct, and Jug are pretty easy fights.

CREDIT COST

Since they give the least xp, you’ll end up doing the most LQs if you only run greens. It took me 62 LQs @ +260%/+100% boosts, which should cost around 1.2m credits worth of rerolling. This number will vary a lot though, and could end up costing 1.5m+ so be prepared to burn through a few credit chests. All reds took 46 LQs and 900k credits. My hybrid run took 51 LQs and just over 1m.

MORE TO CONSIDER

There really are no hard-and-fast rules for deciding between greens and reds, since it will vary a lot based on your hero. I did my runs on NC, who is one of the most mobile heroes in the game. He doesn’t necessarily shine when clearing trash, but his ability to travel quickly and burn through terminals makes greens a little more attractive. This is because the LQ bonus is static. If it takes forever for your Black Widow to get to the boss, reds will likely be more efficient in a lot of places since the exp bump will be worth your time. Aside from the longer boss fight, minions taking more than one hit to kill has a lot bigger impact on runs than you may think. If the difference between a green and red for Thing is him being able to use his movement spell the entire way through a term without stopping to clear trash, reds may be completely out of the question until lvl 51+.

EVEN MORE TO CONSIDER

I play this game because I find it very fun. I enjoy using my favorite heroes to bash the crap out of bad guys and terrain. I also enjoy seeing how fast I can do it. Many of you will not enjoy how tedious it can be to constantly reroll LQs, fight the same bosses over and over, etc. I highly recommend you find a different way to lvl that suits your interests better, because lvling is a big part of why we play and it should be fun! Same goes with the “you shouldn’t pore over your slots 1-5″ part of my gear analysis. If you enjoy that, as many do, absolutely spend time on it! I’d just do so in hubs so your boosts don’t tick down. Along the same lines, if you enjoy the challenge of red terminals, go for it! Just know that in my all-green run I died zero times and easily reached double digits in my all-red one.

BONUS TIPS

Avoid blue/yellow mobs unless you’re due for a Splinter drop. They take way too long to kill and there will always be enough lowly basic mobs to complete your LQ. When fighting tough bosses, keep in mind how far you have to walk if you die. If you’re low on hp+spirit and don’t mind respawning, many of the early boss fights will actually go faster if you let yourself die and just zerg it. Avoid dying in the ones with a far respawn point – there’s nothing lonelier than the long walk of shame back to Kurse, especially when he only needed a few more slaps in the face to get your sweet, sweet exp orbs. If you made it through all this, congrats! But, a lot of what will make you fast is learning the maps and where ammo boxes, turrets, baddies, etc. are and I can’t help you with that!

THE DATA

All 3 runs were on my NC with rank 5 legendary, low lvl slot 1-5 uniques, blessed low and high lvl artis, and +260% exp boost with +100% server side (195% from other heroes, 10% from Cyke synergy, 5% from INT, 50% from 2hr boost – you can easily go much higher if you’re willing to chew some boost bars).

All green run: 1h57m, 62 LQs, 1.2m credits, 1h30m buff tickdown

All red run: 1h46m, 46 LQs, 900k credits, 1h27m buff tickdown

Hybrid run: 1h38m 51 LQs, 1m credits, 1h21m buff tickdown

As you can see, there isn’t a huge difference between all reds and the hybrid, but I had a much easier time mixing in greens when the fights were going to be tough. It made it both more enjoyable and faster for me. Experiment a bit to see what works for you and happy lvling in 2015! Hey look, the name actually makes sense now!

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