Abyssal Expedition Guide – Vault of Time: Marsha [AFK Arena]

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In this post, you will find our Abyssal Expedition AFK Arena guide. The Abyssal Expedition is an event in AFK Arena where you, your guildmates, and a few other guilds form a militia group that will explore a map from two different sides until you all get together at the final boss region.

You will fight enemies in tiles, capture villages and cities, and progress further on the map; you will have to fight bosses until you reach the final boss.

This is an ultimate guide to The Abyssal Expedition event in AFK Arena, with valuable tips, formations, and strategies to get to rank maximum rank – Prince, defeat the final boss, and earn many valuable rewards!

Check the latest AFK Arena codes and my guide for the best Wrizz & Soren teams.

Note: This guide still needs a lot of work, but as I progress in the Abyssal Expedition, it will get to the level where it will be helpful for everyone, hopefully!

Final Boss: Marsha – The Molten Crystalline Worm Queen

Best ABEX Final Boss Formations

It seems I was right about a mage hero being great for Marsha, as one of my test formations did the most damage with Scarlet. I don’t know how relics work in the test runs where all heroes have 100 stamina, but I doubt they are maxed out; maybe all relics were at 5.3 (same as the max relic level I had when I did the test), as you cannot use the Relic’s Soul in tests. The first formation and fourth formations are unrealistic as they require high relic levels on three relics.

The second one is realistic if you started with mages (I doubt many people are starting with tanks).

I don’t have relic information for most formations (only the first row is my formation) below. Still, they are probably all main relics: 5.2+ whether that is Celerity, Might, Sorcery, or Fortitude, and Sustenance 4.0+, as I barely play, and I’m at 5.2 and 4.0.

My understanding of the fight is that you will need a Saurus or Numisu (or some other healer, but these two worked for me), along with Grezhul, who steals attack rating and helps you survive longer. The Twins and Mortas are pretty much must-haves. Sadly, I doubt most people have Numisu in their lineup for this ABEX (I don’t).

For most of us stuck with celerity heroes, the third formation is quite decent, even though my Mortas dies too fast. People with stronger Mortas should do better.

I would say that I did not expect Marsha’s adds to do so much damage, so this is something to keep in mind if she stays for one or two more ABEXs.

Skills & Strategy

Territory Pillage

Marsha alternates between melee and ranged attacks. Her ranged attack uses magma that prioritizes the furthest target, dealing AoE damage at their location and applying Magma Mark on them for several seconds. Reduces the target’s Attack Rating when Magma Mark exists. Her melee attack deals multiple hits to enemies close to her.


Marsh periodically releases several Magma Guards from her abdomen that inherit a certain percentage of her max health and parts of her other stats. Magma Guards only use Normal Attacks and prioritize targets afflicted with Magma Marks. When the enemy kills a Magma Guard, Marsha additionally loses a portion of her max health. When her health is below a certain percentage, she will release Magma Guards faster, each time releasing several Enraged Magma Guards with a shield equal to a certain amount of Marsha’s Attack Rating.

Magma Burst

Marsha sprays several Magma bombs from her Abdomen to attack all present heroes several times, creating a Magma Area at the location of the target hero for a few seconds. The Magma area damages enemies every second. Magma Guards within the Magma area gain several additional Haste Points.

If Scarlet is the carry to choose here, it can be a problem for several players that typically only level up the Range and Support Relics. In my experience, you can easily do something like 5.4, 5.2, and 5.0 in terms of relics, so that may not be as much of an issue.

A few more things to consider. The usual Drez team may still work quite well against Marsha. I’m not sure about a Grezhul & Izold comp as the Magma Marks will target the back end; instead, we would want all the Magma Guards to surround Izold so that he loses HP faster.

On the other hand, if the Magma Guards’ damage is significant, maybe Lucretia Cheese can work well here if all your ranged support heroes die (highly unlikely).

Recommended Boss Formations

I assume most people are looking for recommended boss formations in this guide so keep an eye for the updated ones.

Zaphrael Best Formations

Typically Zaphrael screams Lucretia as a counter, which is the case here. I will try out the first, second, and fourth formations on the table below, as I’m not planning to use Saurus or Izold.

Desira Best Formations

Note that you can use Skriath or Khazard to consistently cancel Desira’s mist with Sandstorm or Blizzard. It is best to play the fight manually to cast the Ultimates at the right time to cancel the mist. Strangely enough, most top teams I have seen do not include any of the two.

Hodgkin Best Formations

Morael Best Formations

Eluard Best Formations

The Unhinged Best Formations

The Unhinged is easy to deal with pretty standard high damage-dealing formations:

Grotesque Mage Best Formations

You can just go solo here with either Ainz, Drez, or Raku (don’t use his Ultimate).

Beginner Tips

Here are some noob mistakes I still make, mostly due to impatience, that you should try to minimize, and some tips:

  • Focus on rangers or mages initially. The Relics make so much of a difference in ABEX that formations don’t matter until you reach boss fights. Typically we all want to use Rangers, but if the Gate Boss on your side is susceptible to magical damage, you should use mages instead. Additionally, since the release of Scarlet, mages are far more viable due to her effectiveness against the last boss (even if you struggle a bit until you reach it).
  • I play the game at 4x speed and max animation speed. Consequently, I sometimes lose battles before I can even quit, and that costs me stamina.
  • Occasionally, I will fight 3v5 or even 2v5 to save stamina without paying attention to the opposition. Combined with the above mistake, this costs me more stamina than using 4-5 heroes. Try to save stamina but don’t be too aggressive. Pay attention to the opposition.
  • Speaking of the opposition: Brutus, Thoran, Flora, Alna, Orthros, and in general characters with stall, strong counter-attacks, or immunities will cost you 1-2 stars in many cases.
    Ignore tiles that require “niche teams” to be occupied with 4 stars.
  • Remember to upgrade your relics, especially early on where level-up requirements are minimal (I forgot that part too).
  • Don’t forget to leave open slots to move your most used heroes to replenish their energy.

The above mistakes are typically what I do the very first time I get into ABEX, with a mindset like “I’m too strong, I’ll capture them all anyway.” As a result, I occupied 17/20 tiles initially as my heroes ran out of energy. Even if you make the same mistakes, make sure to learn from them instead of repeating them throughout the duration of the event.

Enrollment to the Abyssal Expedition (ABEX)

Two days before the event starts, you will have to enroll in 1 of 2 modes in AE; Casual or Honorable. There are no differences in gameplay between the two, but note that you will be teaming up with players who made the same choice as you. In total, you are going to team with 70 players.

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

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

The Abyssal Expedition event uses Martial Ratings.

What is Martial Rating?

Level: All of a player’s hero ascension tiers will remain the same and start with a hero level of 240. Hero levels may be increased based on the player’s Resonating Crystal level.

Formula: New level = 240 + (Crystal Level / 10).

For example, if your Crystal level is 306, your Martial Rating level should be 240 + 306/10 = 271.

Gear: All hero gear (including unadorned parts ) are Mythic T1 and include Faction Bonuses but are un-enhanced. If a hero is already equipping Mythic T3 gear, their Hero Bonuses will be retained.

Signature Items: All signature items and their abilities will be retained

Elder Tree: Players’ current Elder Tree levels and Virtue attributes will be retained, including all of their effects.

Oak Inn Furniture: All the effects and abilities granted by a hero’s furniture are preserved.

Artifacts: The effects of artifacts will not be retained.

Unions: The effects of hero unions will not be retained.

Your Starting 10 Heroes in Abyssal Expedition

You should try to start the even as soon as possible to start gaining more stamina so that you can capture tiles and progress as fast as possible.

At the start of the Abyssal Expedition event, you can have ten heroes or two teams.

  • The first team should be your strongest campaign formation. Some people (like me) start (almost) full Celerity though.
  • The second team is self-sustaining or strong AoE heroes for clearing weak enemies.

Recommended Starting 10 Heroes

Here is the best way to approach the Starting 10 heroes in my opinion. Use your best Ranges/Mages, along with 2/3 heroes that you are going to use on the first boss fight if you think you can be helpful in it. Your boss heroes will start storing stamina and once you can add 5 more heroes, add your most-used heroes (who should be useful in the boss fight) to the 60-stamina sots. This way you will be able to perform 5 attacks on the boss.

If you are not strong enough to help in the first boss fight, you can focus on your best Rangers or Mages to ensure that you will be capturing tiles faster, without wasting stamina while maximizing your corresponding relic. This will allow you to ensure that you will meet the damage requirement on the last boss to achieve the Prince Rank.

The recommendations below are somewhat generic. Make sure to create a combination of your strongest heroes along with the ones you are going to use on bosses and primarily the first boss. However, don’t forget that your Support or Tank heroes may be useless in the first boss fight if you haven’t worked on their relics at all. 3.0+ on Celerity and 2.0+ on Sustainance are the minimul requirements in my opinion, and you shouldn’t add a third class to the mix until you reach the Marquis rank, where all your Blessed Relics are Level 3.0+, so they are at least competent. For instance, after you reach the Marquis rank it may be a good time to add Grezhul to your lineup if you need him for the final boss.

Capturing Tiles

Note on T8: Capturing T8 cities by yourself is doable, although very tough. The first time I was able to do it. I started ABEX at level 400, and to capture a T8 by myself, I had to go 5.6 on my Ranger relics.

Cursed Tiles: As you can see I focus on having 4 strong wilder rangers right from the start as I’m going to need them for cursed tiles (this helps my teammates too, as lower-level players cannot take down cursed T7 tiles).

I captured a T8 that did not curse Wilders by using 2 Wilders on two fights and my strongest Wilder (Eironn) on another one. All this even though I started the ABEX very, very late. So this can be done, and my advice is to start as early as possible and make sure to have one strong faction among your heroes with 5-6 rangers from that faction.

Unless you are not using any  Ranger carry (like Eironn or Lucy), focus only on Celerity Relic Tree initially, as it gives the highest chance of getting 3-star wins during the first days.

As you move to capture more tiles, try to focus on 2 level upgrades. For instance, you should go from Village Rank 2 to Town Rank 1 instead of Village Rank 3.

Important note about bosses: Lucretia dominates boss fight team comps so, of course, you want a Lucretia Cheese formation. However, you often extract more damage by using a hero like Cecilia to soak damage. You need to evaluate this tradeoff as you may lose damage from Lucretia due to Cecilia’s presence but increase overall damage.

This section is not updated for July 2022’s ABEX.

Reaching the Knight Rank: What to Do Now

You will have to complete all the Squire Rank Quests to reach the Knight rank. The main benefit of reaching the Knight rank is capturing five more territories, and your max Blessed Relic level increases to 2.

Reaching the Baron Rank: What to Do Now

To reach the Baron rank, you will have to complete all the Knight rank Quests. At this point, your max Blessed Relic level increases to 3 and but instead of increasing the max territories, you can capture by 5, now you can add five more heroes to your team.

First of all, you want to reach this rank
within the first day of the Abyssal Expedition so you can have 15 heroes on standby when you are AFK, recovering stamina.

At this point, you will need to add more Celerity heroes to your team (for now). We are still at the point where Celerity helps you move faster, and you should have it prioritized.

Which 5 Heroes to Add?

Add enough Ranger/Mage heroes to ensure that you have two strong teams that will help you occupy higher-tier tiles. Then add heroes that will be helpful for the rest of the bosses. For instance, you may need to add Raine or Mortas, depending on your starting 10

Just remember to add remove and add your top heroes first so they can get the 60 free stamina from the new slots.

Reaching the Viscount Rank: What to Do Now

To reach the Viscount rank, you will have to complete all the Baron rank Quests.

This is fairly easy and you can do it by the end of the first day.

Now, to advance to Earl you will probably need some help from your militia members to capture your first Tier 5 (Town II) settlement/territory.

So, you will have to do double-team fights for the first time. A fellow militia member can take out the first team, and another one can weaken the second team if need be.

Your max territory cap will increase by 5 once again. The easier thing to do will be to initially capture 5 Tier 4 territories and then replace a village 3 (Tier 3) with a Tier 5 one.

At this point, you should start replacing all your Tier 2 settlements with Tier 4 ones.

With the first boss at 90%, I was able to get all my tiles to T3 and T4 at this point for +3206 Blessed Essence/Hour.

Those Tier 4 ones will be with you for a long while. I’m confident that only strong players can replace all the Tier 4 settlements with Tier 5 and 6 ones.

In fact, by the time I was able to do it in the previous Vault of Time ABEX, I have already reached the Prince rank. I consider the Tier 4 territories the most valuable ones.

Reaching the Earl Rank: What to do Now

To reach the Earl rank, you will have to complete all the Viscount rank Quests. Now you can capture 5 more territories (35 in total), and your max Blessed Relic level increases to 4.

This is where things get interesting. I hit Earl at about 42-44 in the Abyssal Expedition.

This is the point where you can focus on T4-T5 territories. At the moment I’m at 6,924 blessed essence/hour.

Now, to rank up to Marquis you need to take down the next boss (Tidus/Oscar). You will also need to reach 4.4 with one Relic and level 3 with all others.

Celerity + Sustenance works better for Tidus and Oscar but the Sorcery side needs to start preparing for Demonic Entity.

However, I think that the best thing you can do here is to go 4.4 on Celerity and maximize your blessed essence earnings. As soon as you reach 4.4 Celerity, focus on Sorcery if you are on the left side. Granted, you will not achieve maximum damage on Oscar but you will be in good shape for Demonic Entity.

As for those on the right side, I reached 4.4 Celerity and 2.4 Sustenance before starting Tidus.

I also made a few replacements to get ready for the upcoming fights (after consuming stamina on these heroes):

At his point, I never add Warriors and Tanks to my teams except for Grezhul (for some Saurus may be their guy). And step by step, I try to go full Mage + Support or full Ranger + Support. The blessed relic provides such a significant buff that it will dictate how you will do in fights.

Currently, I can breeze past all T6 cities as long as they aren’t cursed tiles or they don’t have double Flora + double Orthros formation, 5xLucretia, or 2xBrutus/Thoran.

Reaching the Marquis Rank: What to Do Now

To reach the Maquis rank, you will have to complete all the Earl rank Quests. Now you can add 5 more heroes to your team, capture 5 more territories and your max Blessed Relic level increases to 5.

This is a very important rank.

You should have mostly tier 4, 5, and 6 settlements by now. You will now need to capture your first Tier 7 settlement, and once again, you need to avoid cursed tiles that debuff heroes that don’t belong to the faction of the tile.

There will be a point towards the end where you will be able to take down Tier 6 and possibly Tier 7 tiles, but you are not there yet. So make sure to avoid them.

Keep in mind that with 20 heroes available you need to start preserving the ones that are going to fight bosses, especially the final boss.

If your teams are weak, you probably won’t help the first bosses (you will be mostly a runner than a nuker). One boss is remaining on each side (Grotesque Mage and the Demonic Entity) – along with the last boss.

You are not going to rank up for a while now as you need to reach the last boss and hit it for 45M to get to Duke.

Your priorities here are to increase your primary relic to 5 and sustenance (in most cases at least) to at least 4.5-4.5. At this point you also need to focus on getting rid of Tier 4 cities for Tier 6 as sooner or later you are going to breeze through them. Try to get as close to 10,000 BE/hour as possible.

The best advice I can give to newer players is this: don’t compromise your damage on the last boss just to help with the Demonic Entity.

You will need to get your Sorcery tree to 4 to rank up to Prince, but if you can’t afford to go higher than 4.0, don’t. Keep working on your Celerity relics to ensure that you get the 100M damage on Ezizh. Players on the right side have a much easier task. At the moment, I stand at 4.5 Celerity and am about to hit 5.0 before the 4th day ends and I’ve been slacking very much. My sustenance is at 4.0 but I hope I will attack Grotesque with something like 5.2 and 4.0-4.1.

But to reach Prince, you need to make sure that your best last boss lineup will have enough stamina as you may have to fight multiple times as you increase your Blessed Relic level until you hit the 45M and then the 100M mark to get Duke and then Prince.

Reaching the Duke Rank: What to Do Now

To reach the Duke rank, you will have to complete all the Marquis rank Quests. Now you can add 5 more heroes to your team for a total of 25. At this point, you have 20 heroes to help you capture higher-tier settlements and the 5 that will get you to Prince.

If you are reading this guide you probably can’t capture a Tier 8 settlement without (a ton of) help. I have never captured one by myself, and I have one of my guildmates abandon theirs and weaken it along with another so that I can barely defeat the third team.

At this point, the final boss will be already down so now it’s time to get ready for its respawn.

You should be close to 5.3/5.4 on Celerity or Sorcery and hopefull
y 5.0/5.1 on support as in most lineups you will need the Twins and Mortas.

Winning Fights to Regain Stamina

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. Depending on bonuses, the player generates a fixed 4 food per hour, 96 food every day, or 8-16 battles.

  • 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 sometimes better to play on slower speeds so you can quit/retry before your team gets wiped!

To be updated for July 2022

Abyssal Expedition Best Boss Team Comps


I consider Cecilia a must here to soak Zaphrael’s damage, otherwise, things can get ugly, especially for Lucretia as a Hypogean.

I think Raku is a solid alternative for Lucy while keeping the other 4 four characters the same in the lineup. The usual recommendation is to not use Raku’s ultimate in this case.


Final boss: The Balancer best team comps

A lot has changed for me compared to past Abyssal Expeditions. My Lucretia is now A (1-star), SI +33, 9/9F, and using a 3-star Verdant Longbow.

The team below is recommended by a lot of people for the Balancer, but for me, it just didn’t work because everyone, including Lucretia died pretty fast.

What worked is the composition below:

My team needed the survivability so while the first team dealt around 560,000,000 damage, the second one dealt 1,500,000,000. In both formations, the relic goes to Greshul as my tank relic is at level 4.0.

Abyssal Expedition AFK Arena beginner tips

  1. Always communicate with your militia/guild through in-game chat, DMs, or discord.
  2. Use the “Settle” feature on a plains tile connected to a boss for a 5% damage boost.
  3. When unlocking new hero slots, use your best five and add them to the new slots to instantly give them 60 food.
  4. Avoid using 4x and sometimes even 2x so you don’t accidentally wipe out. Restarting only costs one food, losing costs 12.
  5. Save Stamina by pathing with 1-3 heroes instead of an entire team when facing weak enemies. However, don’t risk too much; using an extra hero is better than losing or abandoning the fight.
  6. Try to obtain 3 stars from fights to recover 6 stamina.
  7. Do not attack the boss right away. Generally, you only want to attack it after maxing out the relics of a specific tree.
  8. Focus on only one relic tree (preferably Celerity tree) until Relic level 4.
  9. Abandon and recapture tiles to complete rank-up quests if there aren’t enough. This is very useful to get from Duke to Prince since you need to capture 20 tier 6 settlements, but not recommended before.

Rank & Requirements

Blessed Relics

There are 5 Core Relics for each class: Warrior, Tank, Ranger, Mage, and Support. The player can level up the Core Relic by activating six lesser Blessed Relics; leveling the Core Relic also unlocks Unique skills. By doing so, the heroes in the player’s Expeditionary Forces gain Relic Bonuses.

The Blessed Relics can be obtained from Territories, by using Blessed Essence or by combining Relics. Captured territories (Villages, Towns, Cities) can drop Relics depending on their Tier (from Common to Legendary Relics).

Dura’s Might Skills

Dura’s Fortitude Skills

Dura’s Celerity Skills

Dura’s Sorcery Skills

Dura’s Sustenance Skills

Tile Tier List: Enemy Power & Essence/Hour

The Enemy Power column in the table below is based on my own martial ratings. I started Abyssal Expedition at Level 280. The enemy power scales to your martial rating.

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