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Abyssal Expedition Guide

The Abyssal Expedition is a cooperative feature added to AFK Arena in patch 1.39. In patch 1.44, the feature was re-tuned and added back into the game.

The event for it is called the “Vault of Time” and lasts for 16 days. However, during the last 24 hours there is a “Quiet Time” period, where it’s still accessible, but stamina and resources no longer generate.

It also can be found within the Dark Forest.

In order to enter the Abyssal Expedition, players must first enroll for it. This can either be free, or cost diamonds. The diamond option will reward players more diamonds as a reward if they reach a certain rank during the event.

The current requirements for entering is to complete Stage 15-40.

Credits to Jaeoof, Styleane, AFKArty, Alpattex & Whitesushii for the updated information.

Pre-Abyssal Expedition

Enrollment

2 days before the start of the event, you will have to enroll into 1 of 2 modes in AE; Casual or Honorable. There are no differences in gameplay between the two, but do note that you will be grouped with players that made the same choice as you.

Enrolling into Casual is free and players will be able to receive the standard rewards.

Enrolling in Honorable costs 3000 diamonds. The bonus being that 6000 diamonds are added into the Rewards List, netting you a profit of 3000 diamonds if you reach the highest Title (Prince) and complete the event.

Commencement

Spawning In

ABEX will begin once the server resets (at 12 am UTC). You will only spawn into the map after logging in and clicking on the ABEX event (via the events tab or from the Dark Forest) after the event officially starts.

Starting Out

Upon entry to AE players must choose whether to spawn on the left or right side. Unlike previous AE’s, there’s no relic/class advantages for the different sides this time around.

Picking a side will mostly come down to whom you want to progress with, although the right side does favor the Celerity tree slightly.

As for which relics and heroes to focus on, this time the clear winner is the Celerity tree.

Your First Heroes

In the very beginning you won’t have any relics. That means there’s no real advantage to picking only heroes from one tree.

I would simply pick a team that you find success with in PvE, and 5 heroes who are naturally efficient at clearing weak enemies by themselves. The goal is to use one team to take down difficult tiles, while the other 5 are used for movement. Once you’ve expended all the stamina on these heroes, I suggest switching them fully to celerity.

Below are some suggestions but feel free to run whatever you can field full formations for (generally campaign lineups).

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#colspan#Suggestion #1

Suggestion #2

Suggestion #3

Suggestion #4
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Hero Suggestions

As Celerity is the strongest this time, taking mostly heroes from that tree and a few supports (Sustenance) is generally a good option for the majority of players.

If you have both Izold at 3/9 furniture and Saurus at +30 SI, then the option to invest fully into Might relics becomes very viable (and probably best).

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Celerity & Sustenance
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Baron

Earl

Duke
Remove:

Add:
#colspan#Note that these heroes require certain SI/Furniture to be effective:

Raine: 3/9 Furniture

Tips

Communication

If you are participating in this event with your guildmates, communicate with them! Coordinating with those who can be active at the same time as you, and spawning close together will ensure that you are all able to help out one another right away. 

Otherwise, if you are playing with random pubs, consider spawning as early as possible to get a spawn location closer to the more eager players.

Listen to the coordination efforts of your Militia. Planning and deciding which boss gate to group up at will save a lot of time and effort.

Be willing to communicate! There are incentives for getting as many members of the militia as possible to the max Title. People will be willing to help.

Gameplay

Garrison a hero on the tile you start on (it’s vacant by default).

Keep in mind that heroes still benefit from faction gear and the Elder Tree, so make sure to equip gear and put points in the elder tree for the heroes you intend to use.

Save stamina by pathing with 1-3 heroes instead of a full team if possible.

Try to obtain 3 stars from fights as that will refund you 6 stamina.

When you get new hero slots, unslot your strongest team (once they are out of stamina) and place them into the new slots for an instant 60 stamina.

Avoid wasting stamina on cursed tiles unless you know you can win. In similar fashion, avoid tiles with tough enemies.

Abandon and re-take tiles to complete quests if there aren’t enough.

While pathing, abandon tiles you move off from to save settlement slots.

When fighting a boss, use the “Settle” feature on a tile directly connected to it for a 5% damage bonus.

Should You Save Stamina?

I get asked a lot of you should save stamina on 5 heroes. For pushing ABEX (Top 100), you should since it lets you maximize boss damage but for getting Prince rank, it’s unnecessary.

Getting Stronger

Focus all your essence on a single relic tree depending on what setup you are going and only invest in other trees where necessary (rank promotion quest).

Generally, prioritize attack relics but for later relic levels, getting 2 cheap relics (with some luck from drops) would usually outweigh getting a single relic.

Winning Fights

Stamina is required to initiate a fight and the amount depends on if the fight is a regular tile or a boss. In general, regular tiles take 12 stamina per attack. The player generates a fixed 4 food per hour which is 96 food everyday or 8-16 battles depending on bonuses.

  • Win Fight (+2 Stamina)
  • No Heroes Lost (+2 Stamina)
  • Win Within 30s (+2 Stamina)

Since losing a fight consumes 12 stamina while retrying only takes 1 (again for regular tiles), it’s some- times better to play on slower speeds so you can quit/retry before your team gets wiped.

Getting Prince Rank

The maximum rank that can be obtained is Prince. This requires you to deal 100 million damage to the final boss and also defeat it.

You should attack once to deal 45M damage. This is required for the Duke Rank.

After that, build up your relics and save energy for as long as possible. Once you’re ready, unload everything onto the bosses with your strongest teams.

Tough Enemies

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#colspan#Try to avoid tiles with these heroes when possible.

Heroes

Heroes Tab

After spawning, what’s next is choosing heroes to fill the starting 10 available slots (image on the right). Do not just pick your most ascended heroes.

Note that only heroes of Elite+ (E+) or higher can be employed in this event.

All employed heroes will be scaled to Martial Ratings.

Food

Placing a hero in a new slot will grant the hero 60 Food. Food is used in attacking, to capture tiles and defeat bosses. 

Every employed hero will regenerate 1 Food every 15 mins, equaling 4 Food per hour; there is no limit to the amount of Food a hero can have.

An empty slot does not regenerate Food, so do not leave slots unoccupied and remember to fill your new slots as they are unlocked.

Removing a hero will set the Food value of that slot to 0, effectively wasting all Food that was there previously.

Picking Heroes

Just like the Library’s Elder Tree, Heroes in AE are categorized by the “Branches” they belong to; Rangers are grouped under Celerity, Mages under Sorcery, Supports under Sustenance, Warriors under Might and Tanks under Fortitude.

Generally, Celerity or Sorcery units are the best and quickest at dealing damage. Choose 1 of those 2 classes and fill your starting 10 with 7~8 heroes from this class, even if they are just Elite+. Ascension Tiers do not matter in completing this event.

Fill the remaining slots with Sustenance units and/or units that help deal more damage (Lyca’s haste, Lorsan’s link, etc). Avoid pure defensive or crowd-control units (Lucius, Tasi, Nemora, etc).

If you are not sure to go with Celerity or Sorcery, here are some things to consider:

Celerity units are generally better. More dodge, and less reliance on Ultimates (ults) for damage.

Look at the spread of units you have. Even with point 1 taken into consideration, if you have only 2 employable Rangers but 8 employable Mages, go Mages.

Why don’t Ascension Tiers matter?

AE has its version of an “Elder Tree”, and the bonuses conferred are massive, easily dwarfing the stat differences between ascension tiers.

In the first few hours of the event, before you acquire any Relics, you can choose to employ your highest ascended heroes to carry you through your battles. This is due to the significance of the power differences between higher and low ascended heroes.

However, when you have depleted their stamina and/or have gotten 1 to 2 Relics on your main branch, you should switch them out to heroes in your main branch.

Why focus on one main class?

The Relics system in AE does not improve linearly. The growth between Levels 1 and 2 is a fraction of the growth between Levels 3 and 4 (image below). Enemies in AE also scale with this system in mind, meaning an equal distribution of resources in multiple Branches is very impractical.

A team of 5 units with Relic level 2, spends way more food to partake in battle and will have worse results than just 1 unit with relic level 4. (image below: 1 focused Ranger has similar power to 4 units of other classes)

Some of the requirements to increase your Title Rank require you to push just 1 tree to a certain milestone. Evenly pushing multiple Branches delays the completion of this task, and will delay the important gameplay bonuses conferred by ranking up your Title.

What if I don’t have enough Mages or Rangers?

You will have to use both Mages and Rangers to occupy your hero slots.

You should still make 1 class a priority and only upgrade secondary classes (Sustenance and whichever of Celerity/Sorcery that isn’t your main) after the main class is capped out.

Gameplay

Basic Gameplay Loop

Spend Food taking battles.

Capture higher quality Tiles, abandon lower quality Tiles if you have to while moving towards objectives (Gate Bosses and Final Boss).

Upgrade your Relics and wait for Food to regenerate.

Repeat.

Tiles

What are Tiles

The Abyssal Expedition Map is made up of Tiles and every unclaimed Tile is populated by formation(s) of enemies.

Tiles that you own are coloured in Green while Blue tiles are owned by your Militia allies. If you are connected to an ally’s tile, their tile will turn greenish-blue. You can only attack Tiles that are adjacent to your owned tiles OR next to an ally’s tile of which you are connected to. This allows you to hopscotch your way from one corner of the map to another (image below).

Owning a tile generates 2 types of resources for you, Relics and Blessed Essence. Blessed Essence is used to make Relics and Relics are used to upgrade Branches. Relic drop rates per tile.

Claiming Tiles

Claim Tiles by attacking and defeating the enemy team(s) that reside on that Tile. The number of tiles you can own at once is stated at the top of the screen, between your Title and Essence gain rate (image on the right); and is increased by raising your Title.

If a Tile has more than 1 formation, the player that wins the last battle claims the tile. Don’t worry about militia mates stealing your tile, there’s a window after attacking in which only you can continue attacking the tile. 

Garrison

All Tiles except Blank tiles can garrison a hero. Heroes used for Garrisons are taken from the pool of heroes that you have and do not affect your employed heroes, similar to how the Bounty Board works.

By Garrisoning a hero on the tile, the tile generates 20% more Blessed Essence.

Types of Tiles and their specifics

Attacking

Food Cost of Attacking

Default Battles: 12 Food

Hard Battles: 24 Food

Tier 1 and 2 Bosses: 24 Food

Tier 3: 36 Food

Final Boss: 48 Food

Only heroes with sufficient Food to afford the cost can participate in the battles.

Some Tiles have more than 1 formation and thus take more than 1 battle to be defeated. Heroes cannot participate in more than 1 battle per tile.

Winning a Battle

Every hero that participates in a battle spends the full Food Cost of the battle (12, 24, 36). 

For non-boss battles, however, meeting certain criteria will refund up to 50% of the Food cost. 

Each criterion (star) met will return one-sixth of the Food Cost, with a 3-star Victory returning half (image on the right).

If a Tile has more than 1 formation, the player that wins the last battle claims the tile.

Restarting or Quitting a Battle

Restarting or Quitting a battle is NOT free. Choosing to do so will waive the full cost but one-sixth of the required Food will still be deducted (1 Food for default battles and 2 for harder battles). This can be rather frustrating but is still better than the other outcome known as…

Losing a Battle

If you lose a battle (all your units defeated or out of time), every participating hero will lose the full Food Cost of the battle. Pay attention and lower the speed settings if you have to. It is better to just pay the cost when things look unfavourable, and either restart or quit the battle to try again later after powering up.

Similar to the Arcane Labyrinth, after a loss, enemy heroes will retain the health that they had at the end of that battle but not their energy. Furthermore, the heroes used in the lost battle can no longer be used to fight any of that Tile’s battles.

Either you use another team of heroes or ask someone else to take the tile instead. Giving up the weakened tile to someone else is better than letting the tile reset. When a tile resets, all Food spent in previous battles is wasted, but letting someone else take a weakened tile at least reduces the Food Cost for them

Tiles Resetting

If the tile isn’t taken, a countdown timer will start to tick; the duration of the timer depends on the type of tile. At the end of the countdown, the tile will reset, resurrecting fallen units and restoring all back to full health.

Suiciding / Suicide Attacking

This is when you intentionally sacrifice a lineup to make a battle easier, be it for yourself or another. You can do so by using less/weaker non-main units, or playing the battle manually and avoiding the use of certain key ultimates.

Tips for Attacking Efficiently

You can save Food by attacking tiles with less than 5 heroes. 

When pathing towards locations (Boss Gates, clusters of better quality tiles, etc), the majority of battles faced are barely an inconvenience and do not need a full lineup to be defeated.

Rangers excel at pathing due to their natural dodge and tenacity gain through relics. Mages are less favored due to fewer defensive capabilities and a greater reliance on successful ults for the bulk of their damage, but can still get the job done. Units from the remaining classes generally pale due to lack of AOE damage, or insufficient survivability. They can still be used, but are unlikely to be as efficient as Rangers or Mages.

Coordinate with your militia mates! Especially in Tiles that have multiple battles. Everyone likely has a stronger main team. If you and a partner both take 1 battle each, you both get to use your strongest teams. Rather than trying to solo, and realizing that your secondary team cannot clear the final battle.

Relics System

Relics Tab

Relics are equipment pieces that are either acquired from tile drops or made with Blessed Essence.

When slotted into a Branch of the tree, they boost the stats of all the heroes under that branch. Filling a branch with Relics allows you to Level Up the branch (image on the right), unlocking higher level Relic slots and unique passives for the heroes. 

These Unique passives (image below) are unlocked at level 2, 3 and 5 of the Might, Fortitude, Celerity, Sorcery and Sustenance branches respectively.

Higher-level Relics can be made with Blessed Essence, combining lower-tier relics or a combination of both.

Upgrading

Focus on equipping Relics into the Branch which you have the most heroes in, that being either Celerity or Sorcery. 

This Branch will be your primary focus for the majority of abyssal, up until the last boss where you will need to expand into the other Branches.

3 Reasons to only invest in your main Branch

More investment into one tree gives you the most efficient scaling. 3 Branches at Level 3 is incomparable to one Branch at level 5 especially if most of your Heroes are employing in that one Branch.

Using your strongest Heroes for battles will result in more efficient use of food as you can use fewer heroes to achieve 3-Star Victories.

Title quests require your Branch to be at a certain level. Acquiring better Titles a priority as they increase your maximum tile capacity and heroes slots.

Titles

Acquiring titles grant you most of the rewards in this event. However, titles are also heavily tied to the progress of the event.

Push to rank up your Title as soon as possible as the benefits have a compounding effect on your progression.

How?

  • More hero slots provide more food regeneration which you can use to get better tiles; 
  • More tile capacity (image on the right)provides more blessed essence and relics to boost your Heroes’ Power rating which allows you to acquire higher tier tiles and achieve 3 Star battles more consistently;
  • Same applies for being able to equip Higher level relics.
Capping out

Earlier titles have a max relic level that will prevent you from leveling your Blessed Relic past a certain point. When that happens you are effectively capped out (image below) on your main relic(s). When that happens, just focus on clearing whatever remaining task(s) prevent your Title ranking up.

Help I can’t clear X task to rank up

Most ranks up tasks are easy and just a matter of time (e.g. Acquire X Blessed Essence). However, if you are a lower leveled player, you might find certain tasks (e.g. Occupying 1 hard to capture Tile), difficult or downright impossible. And as a result, you might find yourself completely stuck, being capped out and unable to further power up your main units to clear the remaining task(s).

The solution to this problem is either suicide-attacking or better yet, seek help from your Militia Mates. By getting a stronger player to defeat the first battle of a 2 battle fight or suicide-attack for you, harder tiles are made easier for the weaker player to acquire.


Don’t be afraid to communicate! There are incentives to get as many members of the militia to as high a rank as possible. People will be willing to help, so don’t be shy and don’t feel embarrassed about requesting aid.

An Effective Way to Play

Log in as early as you can when the event starts. 

Log in at least once every 2 hours to collect resources and upgrade tiles.

If fights are too hard, save your food and wait for resources to get better relics

Don’t waste your energy and fight Gate bosses if you do not meet the recommended relic requirements. (show example)

If you’re around the top 30% of the Militia

Help others to defeat the first fight of Tiles with 2 battles.

Help guide others through the event and focusing targets. Every bit of communication often makes a large impact on a guild’s results

If you’re a beginner (around 160 to 200 hero levels)

Focus on upgrading your economy by getting better tiles. Do not worry about fighting Boss gates.

Ask others to help defeat the first fight of 2 Battle Cities before taking the 2nd battle yourself.

Return the favor to people that have helped you.

Be polite. Try to educate yourself as much as possible on the event. Even if your account isn’t amazing, helping guide those with more powerful tools may be worth the effort!

General rules you should follow

Make it a point to keep 2-3 empty tiles as “bridges” for other Militia Members to travel through.

Do not take half beaten Tiles before asking.

If you lose a battle and cannot continue please let people know so that they can take the tile.

If you are at the front of your Group, do not abandon tiles that are on the path towards the Militia’s main objective (Boss gate). Help your Militia by allowing your Militia Members to use your Bridges and build ahead towards the objective. This way, your allies do not have to spend food to recapture the empty tiles you just abandoned to progress ahead of you. (An example on what you should not be doing on the left)

If your Allies are pathing towards desirable tiles, do not cut in and capture those tiles. Allow them the opportunity to take those tiles for themselves as they have spent food to travel to those tiles. Stealing their tiles will result in problems listed in Point 4 as they would most likely abandon their empty tiles to travel to the next desirable cluster of tiles. If unsure, it’s better to ask them first. (An example on what you should not be doing below)

Beginner Strategies

If you are at the corner of the map and/or have few allies around to help you with capturing difficult tiles (e.g. T6) and Bosses, it is better to hopscotch your way to the main group. You will save more food traveling across the map to link up with your allies compared to fighting the Boss gates yourself, especially so if you get capped out.

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