Original Reddit Guide by QuebecBeast, adapted and shared with permission.
Here is a small guide for new players with all the infos I collected since I started playing a few weeks ago (collected from Reddit, websites, my personal experience, friends and guildies). Sorry for bad english !
Your progression in game. Gives you player experience, hero experience, gear, coins for resonating crystal, etc. The more you progress, the better the rewards. Be sure to collect rewards AT LEAST once every 12 hours or you won't accumulate any resources. Later in game (at level 16-11), there is a trick players call "the pity system" where you stall for 2-3 days on a level you can beat so you get better (mythic) gear. The idea is that the game rewards you when you beat a level you have been stuck on.
Heroes are divided into six Factions. I won't cover team composition here as I am nowhere near good at this and there are sooooo much detailed guides on what to look for. Check tier lists then check team guides about your best heroes. Don't be afraid to ask for advice from guildies too. Team composition is key. Building around a particular Hero or synergy can be a good place to start-- Shemira, Fawkes, or the Lyca/Arden combo can jump-start the game.
Don't forget to upgrade gear when you are stuck. Keep a few sets of each kind of gear because you might change your heroes formation and change a hero using ranger gear for mage gear, for example. What I do : I keep gear for AT LEAST my full team + all heroes in the resonating crystal. My friends with higher levels keep gear on all 4 first rows of their heroes list. Gear comes in three different types : intelligence, strength and agility. That's mainly just what type of gear heroes can equip. The plate armor is for strength, Leather for Agility, and cloth/robes for Intelligence. The heavier looking weapons for Strength, more finesse looking weapons for Agility, and wands/staves for Intelligence. It's better not to have more than two of the same type on your team, and to ideally have at least one of each. This way you can maximize the best type of gear you have equipped to your main team at a time.
If you have three INT type heroes you split good gear three ways-- as a result, the last one you equip will probably have lower quality gear. Instead, if you choose a hero of STR or AGL type you can give them your best STR or AGL gear, maximizing the value of your gear.
8pm eastern time in America. Everything that is available for limited periods resets (team hunt 2x, fast rewards, bounties, quests, etc.)
Available for free once a day. You get 2 hours worth of AFK campaign rewards. Further uses of Fast Rewards cost Diamonds in increasing amounts-- 50, then 80 and 100. This is usually not worth paying for, but u/coemgen has suggestions:
[You should use Fast Rewards when] you're really stuck in a stage and you have 100 gems to spare. Since it is a gamble of 100 gems, start only doing that when mythic gear and mythic stones are capable of dropping, since it is possible that you'll get lucky enough to get that within 100 gems but it's a minuscule chance. So I recommend within chapters 16 to 20+ wherein I started to personally do this once in a while.
Other than that really rare case by case scenario above, it's not worth it to waste 100 gems for only four hours worth of rewards.
Check daily as there is a free deal at daily reset. If you want to spend a few dollars, your best choice is the progression reward (only available the first 7 days of play)
There are 3 types of quest : daily, weekly and campaign. Make sure you complete daily and weekly quests for rewards ! For campaign quests, there is no timer so you will get the rewards eventually. Don't forget to follow the pages in campaign quests to get free rewards (follow Reddit, YouTube, instagram, Facebook, etc. You don't have to actually follow the page, just click on the link and back to the game, you will still get the reward.) Cool trick to get 200 additional free gems : switch your game language to traditional Chinese (second from top in left column) by clicking on your picture, then settings, then language. Then click on quest in the top right corner of your screen and in third tab (campaign quests) you will be able to follow more pages (3) to get free gems. Once again, you only need to click the link and back to get the rewards. Don't forget to cash in the gems before you switch language back to English because it won't appear anymore. You can do the same thing with Korean language (second from bottom in the left column) to follow one last link to get 50 gems.
This is your storage for all your items. Don't forget to summon your heroes when you have 60 shards!
Tip: Hoard all hourglasses for when you get stuck on a level; DON'T use them right away. The amount of rewards depends on the regeneration rate, which increases as you progress through the campaign. Using hourglasses later on has more value.
Messages from the developers and other player. You will get daily rewards, rewards from maintenance, etc. Also, you will be notified by mail when Soren is up in team hunt, don't forget to fight him !
Useful to send and receive friendship points. You can get 20 each day, giving you 2 free summons at Noble Tavern each day. Later on, you will unlock mercenaries. They are your friend's heroes that you can hire to help with campaign and King's tower. You will ask permission to use them and your friend must accept the request before you use mercenaries. BE CAREFUL, you get to use this ONCE A WEEK. Use them to progress when you are stuck!
You should join one as soon as you can. The more members, the better. You can get useful advice from other players and you will unlock team hunts which give gear as a reward. Once in a while (when your guild has accumulated 9k guild points) your leader will unlock Soren (a special team hunt) that gives better rewards. Check your guild activities and get a better guild when you level up if your leader is not active. I always do team hunt last after the daily reset to make sure I go the furthest after having my team boosted with the rewards I got everywhere else. Some guilds have requirements to join them : level minimum, being active daily, being active in chat, etc. Choose your guild accordingly.
Gives you the opportunity to merge dupes. They will be stronger and it will upgrade their level cap, enabling better Skill upgrades. Don't ascend blindly, though-- If a hero has only 3 skills, usually you shouldn't ascend him too far (at least not past legendary+). Check tier lists to see which hero you should prioritize. Shemira, Lucius and Brutus are beasts. Saveas is good early on even though he has 3 skills only. Keep heroes you can ascend, even if you won't use them. You might pull new useful heroes that would benefit from your fodder heroes. For example, instead of upgrading my Rowan from Elite+ to legendary with 2 fodder Elite+, I kept the resources and when I pulled my second Lucius, I upgraded him to Elite+ with the 2 Elite copies then I used the 2 fodder Elite+ to make Lucius Legendary right away. That way, my patience got me a nice instant upgrade !
Note: It usually is better to not ascend units to Legendary unless you have enough dupes to instantly go to L+ because you never know when (or even if) you can ascend them to L+ if you still need more dupes. If you are unlucky, you could end up with enough copies of other heroes from the same faction for L+ or higher but you might lack the fodder then. Exceptions are Heroes who are easy to come by (Saveas, Arden, or heroes you can get in shops).
Spend currency you get in team hunts. Choose gear that will use for immediate progression or hoard for later as your campaign progression lets you choose better gear. Usually, you should NOT buy any gear f rom the guild store until you start getting mythic - then use your guild points to buy full mythic for your carry hero and start by upgrading that mythic gear. The immediate progression does not outweigh having non mythic on your most important hero (when available) and any gear upgrade that leads to progression is minimal at best that early in the game PLUS your wasting a lot of gold
Lets you choose heroes to boost up to the level of the weakest hero you put in the pentagram. THIS IS THE REASON WHY YOU SHOULD ONLY LEVEL 5 HEROES. Unlock slots in the crystal as soon as possible, as that uses its own currency generated by AFK rewards. You can take off heroes from the crystal and put a new one up, but there is a 24 hour cooldown period.
One useful trick : If you reset a hero in Rickety Cart that was in the pentagram, your rarest hero will take its place. If that hero was in the crystal, it will take it off without triggering the 24hours timer. You will be able to put in a new hero in the crystal right away.
Check once in a while (at least daily) to choose heroes to put on there. Having stronger heroes from your friends will give better boosts to different factions.
The place where you summon heroes! If you use gems, ALWAYS summon 10x for the bonus Hero. So hoard those gems ! There is a trick to this : If you summon 3 times 10x with the same method (3 times 10 scrolls or 3 times 2700 gems or 3 times 10 faction scrolls), you get a guaranteed Elite middle left card. It takes patience and be aware, if you have 10 or more scrolls, the game won't let you use gems instead of scrolls, so be careful. Each type of summoning seems to have its own elite "timer" so third 10x of each should guarantee an elite summon unless you got one from one of the first summons with the same method. You can swap methods of summoning as long as you pull 10x. For faction scrolls, don't summon blindly : patience is key. For me, there are two ways to look at this: you either gamble on Shemira's faction to get her or trash heroes, or you wait and summon in the faction that benefits your team the most. I always choose the second option since I use more than one lightbearers so I have more chances to benefit from this.
An interesting feature unique to AFK Arena is the Wishlist, which actually lets you pick the most desired heroes (and as a result, they are slightly more likely to drop). Don't forget to complete your wishlist as it helps you to get the heroes you need! Also, when you summon a new hero, be sure to check their Portraits as it gives you 100 free gems and cool lore.
Free gems. Just go in there whenever there is a notification on it and click for 50 gems. You can check for the stronger players in there to help you later on when you bid in Legend's Championship.
Buy the hero dust DAILY. Even if you don't need it, believe me, you will regret it later on if you don't buy it. Don't buy gear for gems, you will get better gear fast enough, your gems more useful in Noble Tavern or buying Elite shards (this is probably the best place to spend your gems).
The maths : You have elite shards in store for 98 diamonds. If you were to spend 2700 on a 10x pull, then:
(2700/98)*5 shards = 137.75 purple shards
You could've gotten 137 shards with 2700 diamonds. That's 2 elites. Doing a 10x pull often times leaves you with zero elite. This is definitely a huge steal that you should start abusing.
Currency is earned from retiring heroes in Rickety Cart. Only buy Elite Shards in there. Don't. Buy. Rare (blue). Heroes.
One of the last zones you will unlock. You get to do special adventures to find chests. Complete them at 100% even though it might take a few tries ! The rewards are too good to pass. In there, your heroes energy and health won't come back after every fight so choose your team carefully !
Useful tip : You can quit a fight before you lose it and you will be able to retry it without losing heroes. In my opinion, the Artifacts you get after every fight are what make you or break you. If you can't complete the adventure, don't be afraid to close it and try again. Check for guides for specific adventures, there are quite a few.
There is a trick to the artifact : Once you choose an Artifact, the other 2 are returned to the pool. But if you don't choose any, all 3 stay out of the pool until you choose one. If you find chests with 3 bad Artifacts you would always want to leave the chest (if it doesn't block your way). The same goes for chests with 1 good and 2 bad ones, if you don't need the good Artifact to beat the next opponents so that the 2 bad ones can not appear in the new chests. You can always quit a fight and return to a chest to pick up a good one you left if you have trouble winning the fight. The trick works for Voyage of wonders as well but NOT(!) for the Labyrinth.
Basically the same as Peaks of time. It is an event so you have to finish it before it ends and it gives better rewards as you can only complete it once for rewards. Some people alt their progression prior to the event because the event difficulty is based on your heroes exp. This way, when the event starts, you boost your heroes with the rewards you have been hoarding to make the event easier.
Kind of like the campaign, you fight to get higher in stages and get rewards as you progress. Don't be afraid to try every level a few times as a lot of things can influence the outcome of the fight : heal, Critical strikes, ultimate powers, etc.
PvP based. You fight other players to get rewards. You get rewards daily depending on your rank too. Legend's Championship let's you bet on players and if they win you get coins (double the amount you spent). If they lose, you lose your gold so choose carefully and check both player's team before you bid.
Send your heroes on quests to get rewards. You will unlock more difficult and more rewarding quests after you complete a number of bounties. Don't worry, you can still use your heroes elsewhere even when they are doing bounties. You might want to use your rarest heroes for tougher bounties because certain bounties require legendary Heroes and you might not have a lot of them early on.
Unlocked every 2 days. Select a path to progress through the labyrinth. There are 3 zones with a boss at the end of each one. Like in peaks of time, your heroes health won't come back after each fight! Don't use too much Tears to heal heroes early on. Instead, rely on good Artifact to boost regen and tankiness. You can also hire heroes in there so choose the ones that benefits you the most. I advice you to hire Shemira if she is available and if you have her, take her Artifact when you see it. If you see faction specific Artifact and you are not sure about your hero's faction, you can leave the chest and check your team before you make your decision.
You get currency from labyrinth completion (opens every 2 days). Basically free Shemira. Choose what benefits you the most in elite heroes. I'd say choose Shemira first, always.
There are different chats : language based chat (English for example), global chat, guild chat and PM chat. DO NOT FOLLOW LINKS IN CHATS TO GET FREE GEMS. Those are ALL scams. Ignore the players or block them by clicking their names because those bots are persistent.
It used to be an event but it became a standard thing. It gives you additional rewards after a selected quantity of summons. Some people hoard their resources until they know they can complete the tavern bargains to maximize their rewards. It is a smart thing to do later on as it would alt your progression by a lot early on. You get tons of rewards when you start playing though, so... Your decision.
In the end, it IS an afk/idling game so you will have to be patient and hoard a lot. I used down time to collect info about the game in general and team composition. Plan your next moves in advance to avoid wasting precious resources that take time to collect. Enjoy the game !