‘Arena of Valor’ Beginner’s Guide: How Arcana Works, What Arcana to Buy, and How to Spend Gold
Picking up from yesterday’s Arena of Valor [Free] guide series, in this entry I’ll be focusing on the Arcana system and how to spend your in-game gold. If you missed the previous guides the best place to start is at the beginning with the basics of MOBAs, but below I include the full table of contents of everything that has been written so far. If you’re not sure what Arena of Valor even is, go read our review. The idea of doing these individual guides is never making any one guide too overwhelming, as MOBAs are a super difficult genre to master.
As great as the tutorial is in Arena of Valor for new players to understand the barebones basic concepts of how a MOBA is played, the game really just drops you off to figure out the Arcana system yourself. This specific mechanic exists in most MOBAs, and the basic concept of Arcana is it provides three things: A constant sense of progression outside individual games, tiny boosts to your heroes, and another thing to work towards collecting. You’ll notice as you level up your overall player level the game mentions you’ve unlocked additional Arcana. You can find all of your Arcana by tapping (believe it or not) “Arcana” on the left side of the main menu.
Once inside, you’ll see your current Arcana page. Initially you’ll have access to two Arcana pages and buying additional (up to 10) is a major high-level money sink in Arena of Valor. Top-tier players will have custom Arcana pages set up specifically for each of their favorite heroes or even multiple pages for individual heroes depending on how they plan on building their item load-out that game. You can only have one page active at any given time, so think of these as just being able to quickly save a specific load-out. Each time you level up you gain access to one more Arcana slot, and once you hit level 30 you’ll have all 30 slots, 10 of each type. Each color corresponds to its own “category” of individual Arcana power-ups you can put in those slots.
- Red – These Arcana directly increase your overall damage. Core red Arcana provide tiny individual boosts to your attack damage, ability power, attack speed, and critical strike chance, and things like that.
- Blue – This category deals with defenses. Core blue arcana supply armor, magic resist, armor pierce, and magic pierce.
- Purple – Combining both red and blue, purple Arcana are a hybrid of the two. Core purple arcana provide more HP, HP regeneration, as well as life steal and magical life steal
If you look at the available Arcana in game by checking out the Arcana Shop, you’ll see that the stats associated with the different colors of Arcana blend together in different ways. You get the most “value” out of the “pure” Arcana. For example, if you really want to stack attack damage (“AD”), a level III Arcana can give you +3.2 per slot, while the purple AD Arcana only gives you +1.6 per slot. The trick there is that the purple AD Arcana also gives you +1% movement speed. Thanks to the flexibility of MOBAs it’s always possible a situation might exist where a tiny amount of AD and movement speed is a good thing, but overall you’re getting far less value out of that in pure AD than you get out of the red AD Arcana. Maximizing value of your Arcana load-out is important, as you only have 30 slots (or potentially far less if you’re under level 30).
While these stat boosts are always nice to have, they play the biggest role in the early game. 10 level III AD Arcana provide +32 AD which you have the second your character loads into the game. Add in 10 level III AD and movement speed Arcana mentioned previously and you’re up to +48 AD. For the sake of comparison, a common starting item for an AD-based hero is a Short Sword which provides +20 AD, which when combined with your Arcana is +68 AD which at level one is tons of bonus AD, and can very likely make a difference in your favor if you decide to get into a level 1 rumble with the enemy on the other side of your lane.
The cool thing about the Arcana system, like most things in a MOBA, is a “best” Arcana load out really doesn’t exist. It all comes down to your personal play style. If you like getting really aggressive early game, stacking raw damage stats makes a lot of sense. Alternatively, Arcana that provide percentage based bonuses don’t do a ton at level 1, but at level 15 when you’ve got every inventory slot full, will provide massive benefits while the +48 AD from Arcana designed for early-game engages will be relatively meaningless.
I’d say there’s no “wrong” Arcana, providing you’re building towards some kind of focus. A mish-mash of all sorts of different Arcana in every slot really isn’t going to do you much good as each individual bonus will be so slight that overall it won’t amount to anything.
I hate to say it, as it seems like a massive mountain to be climbing as a new player, particularly with how stingy Age of Valor can feel with how it gives out gold, but the only Arcana you should be buying are level III. Level I and level II might seem compelling to buy to fill out all of your slots, but the lifecycle of MOBAs are long, and the time it takes to hit level 30 is comparatively short. For the sake of comparison, I’ve been playing League of Legends since 2009. It took me maybe a month to hit maximum level. If I bought lower-level Runes (the League of Legends equivalent to Arcana) I’d have used the for a month, meanwhile, the max level Runes I’ve been using for close to a decade.
Level III Arcana will set you back a lofty 2,000 gold a pop. You’ll need 60,000 gold in total to fill up one entire Arcana page with level III runes. I’ve been playing non-stop since the North American soft launch release, hitting the gold cap of 1,500 gold per day, and along with the other bonuses the game has given me. I’ve only managed to rack up 43,000 gold. It’s a commitment, but, again, if you’re this into Arena of Valor that you’re three guides deep into reading about it here on TouchArcade, chances are you’ll be playing long enough that you’ll eventually have so much gold you won’t know what to do with it.
For your first set of level III runes, I’d focus on getting the most general purpose runes that will apply to the most heroes. Here’s what I’m building towards:
- Red: 10x Obliterate III (+3.2 AD) – I primarily play warriors and tanks, and most of them use attack damage. If you lean more towards casters, substitute 10x Obliterate III for 10x Enlightened III (+5.3 AP).
- Purple: 10x Benevolence III (+45 HP, +5.2 HP/5, +0.4% Movement Speed) – More HP helps with survival and HP/5 increases your overall passive health regeneration which means spending longer in lane which means more gold and from creeps before needing to recall to base to heal. A combined 4% movement speed bonus isn’t huge, but, it also doesn’t hurt. This feels like the best “all purpose” purple Arcana as every hero can benefit in some way from these things.
- Blue: 10x Mythril III (+5 Armor, +5 Magic Defense) – Based on my experience in other MOBAs, unless you want to get real weird with your blue Arcana, the combination of armor and magic defense is always a good default pick. Over 10 you’ll have +50 armor and +50 magic defense, which is useful in any game.
But, as mentioned before, there’s no “right” Arcana build. In games with larger communities, there’s entire sites dedicated to theorycrafting the best load-out of these bonuses. The above build is super general, and depending on whether you buy AD or AP reds, can apply to a ridiculous amount of heroes in the game. And, really, it’s not the worst thing to play a AD-based hero with AP Arcana, you’ll still get all the benefits of your purple and blue Arcana, and who knows, you might even have one ability that scales off AP.
I know it’s going to be super tempting to buy new heroes with your gold, but trust me, until you have full sets of all the level III Arcana for the heroes you enjoy playing, all you want to be buying is Arcana. The 20,000ish gold that a hero unlock will cost you is 1/3 of an Arcana set. Given the fact that once you exhaust all of the various bonuses the game gives out from events and other things you’re limited to 1,500 gold per day, you’re talking two weeks of hitting the daily cap to get one hero.
People hate being told to buy things in free to play games, for sure, but if you want more heroes outside of the free rotation and the ones you get from in-game promotions, the best way to get them is to just spend money. You can’t buy gold, so the only way to get Arcana is by playing tons. With the “expensive” heroes costing around $10 worth of vouchers, ask yourself what is easier for you to do- Make $10 at your job or spend 14 days straight playing enough Arena of Valor to hit the daily gold cap?
If nothing else, just save up to get at least one core level III Arcana set before unlocking heroes, if you want to be extra proactive about your gold spending, get a full set and a second set of reds the opposite of what you bought. (i.e. if you have 10x AD Arcana buy 10X AP Arcana.) This will give you the ability to use both of your freebie Arcana pages and have a very general purpose load-out for both AD and AP heroes.