First let’s go over how gold is calculated in battle.
The formula is:
If you are exploring on Difficulty 12 (730%), with 100% gold bonus from Armor, 5% gold bonus from pet, 0% from Ring of Wonder, and let’s say 25% from VIP Level 2, your total is 860%. The base gold for battles is ~119 gold. (I actually use 118.9 though in my formulas for more accuracy, for some reason.) Here’s how much gold you’ll collect after the battle, based on how much gold you collected in the battle:
Now… for a brand new player, with 0% gold bonuses from anything (no Armor, pets, VIP, Ring), they will get the following:
Of course, the only way to get 200 gold in battle is using Cedric, and 300 with 2x Cedric:
It’s fairly obvious then that Cedric is an incredibly vital troop for gold farming, because every other troop that gives a gold bonus only has 25%. There are no 50% or 75%. Then again, if you had Cedric, why would you want to use anything else? Well, that’s something worth discussing…
Cedric doesn’t actually contribute anything useful to the fight. At best, his attack will Charm a target that has two adjacent enemies, and they will deal about half of the damage that Skeleton Key or Plunder and Peril will deal. Those two weapons are vital, because their damage is heavily boosted by how much gold you’ve collected.
Cedric can create Bombots, but these also mana block Skeleton Key. Generally speaking, you should never need or want to cast Cedric, unless you absolutely have to.
The next troop you’ll need is a way to generate gold very quickly. You absolutely cannot rely on 4 matches, that will take far too long to hit the max. Thankfully, there are 3 troops that generate gold that are Empowered:
Leprechaun is a valid choice, because it explodes gems, but it only generates 20 gold (40 gold with Cedric). That’s really slow! Similarly, Scurvy Seadog gives Magic+1 Gold, double with Cedric, but transforming green to blue is terrible, unless you’re using Plunder and Peril. He’ll give more gold than Leprechaun if your Magic is greater than 20 though.
Last is my favorite, Greed. He gains Gold equal to his life, 1:1. For me, he has 95 life, so I gain 190 gold with Cedric. He doesn’t convert or explode any gems, but he does gain an extra turn, which means I don’t waste his action.
My third troop of choice is Egg Thief:
For players with low magic and no gold, this might not seem appealing, as she destroys (Magic/2)+1 gems. If you have 20 Magic, you’re going to destroy 11 random gems. Even with my 47 Magic, she destroys only 24 Gems. But it’s boosted by gold… 3:1, and when you have 200 gold…
That means even if she is webbed, she’s going to destroy every gem on the board (boosts are not affected by Web, because Web only sets your Magic to 0).
Last is your Hero. There are two weapons to choose here (and a third, Bronzelock Pistol, that you shouldn’t use with Egg Thief, because it’s redundant):
At 200 gold, Bronzelock pistol will destroy (200/4)+5=55 gems, not enough to clear the board, but good enough. However, it’s damage is not boosted by gold collected, so you’ll need to get rid of Egg Thief and bring in something else for the damage. If you want to go that route… good luck. I’ve tried it with Zuul’Goth and it’s just not worth it, because Egg Thief also creates Dragon Eggs for tanking, which you’ll lose out on.
Skeleton Key and Plunder and Peril both use 14 mana, but use either brown or blue mana and are different weapon types, which depending on the class your using, can swing the damage by 7 (weapon color damage bonus, and if you take +2 Magic for using Dagger or Missile). It also comes into play if you can generate a Storm of that color. For instance, the Runepriest class summons a Duststorm when an enemy dies. This can allow Egg Thief to quickly loop with your Skeleton Key.
Skeleton Key does a max boosted damage of 2:1 based on your gold. At 200 gold, it’ll do 100 bonus damage. Plunder and Peril does that same, but is also boosted by enemy gold at the same rate. Generally speaking, the AI does not collect a lot of gold, so it’s a minuscule amount of bonus damage.
Skeleton Key grants an extra turn when an enemy dies. This is huge, because it can allow you to cast Egg Thief, refill Skeleton Key, and cast again. Since Skeleton Key always hits the first and last enemy troops, you’ll always be whittling away at the same health pool. Troops cannot be both the first and last enemy though, so Skeleton Key cannot hit the same target twice, even if there is only one troop left!
On the flip side, Plunder and Peril hits random targets. If there are at least two enemies, it will always (to my knowledge) hit one and the other (I’ve never seen it hit the same target twice if there are multiple enemies). However, unlike Skeleton Key, because the targets are random, if there is only one target left, it will hit that target twice! That means against a single troop left, Plunder and Peril will do at least twice as much damage to it.
Generally speaking, I do not believe that the extra hit against a single last target, and the extra boosted damage from enemy gold, is enough for Plunder and Peril to be better than Skeleton Key. But again, this might depend entirely on your class. You might reason, for instance, that Corsair can get +3 bonus blue mana and you’ll have +5 Magic damage. Yes, that’s true. But most of your mana comes from Egg Thief destroying gems, and destroying gems is not the same as matching gems.
I’ve always thought about how this team could evolve in the future with different troops. For instance, if there was ever some kind of Mythic (it would have to be I imagine) troop that gave 100% bonus gold AND destroyed gems/gained gold (and was empowered/swift/fast), clearly Cedric would get sidelined immediately. There would be no reason to run Cedric. Think of the troop combination we have:
Greed - Empowered so it immediately boosts gold to near max.
Egg Thief - Destroys gems to refill team, boosted by gold.
Cedric Sparklesack - Gives you the gold boost for damage/destroying gems.
If there was ever a troop that combined any of these, it would open up the opportunity to bring in another troop. Now, there certainly are “combination” troops out there, like Leprechaun, which explodes gems and gives gold. But exploding gems gives much less mana than destroying gems, and the amount of gold he gives is far less than Greed. He also has no way to protect himself, unlike Egg Thief summoning Dragon Eggs.
Greed is actually a pretty great troop for tanking, because he gains a significant amount of life and an extra turn, but he’s also not something you should necessarily want to repeatedly cast. I know some players put Cedric in front, but Cedric dies faster than Greed, because Greed starts out gaining a bunch of life, so he can survive more skull hits. Furthermore, if Egg Thief does somehow die ,you’ll want Cedric in the back to be able to summon Bombots.
I’m not sure if any troops actually will be released that could ever really replace two of any of these troops. Certainly a better empowered troop could come out that gains gold, something that maybe has skull damage reduction, but doesn’t gain life. There could be another troop like Cedric, one who has 100% bonus gold, but instead of charming/summoning, it destroys gems, or it gives you gold. Those are both valid, but the summoning is very useful from Egg Thief. So then you have to wonder, could there be a better troop than Egg Thief? They probably won’t ever release another troop that can both summon and destroy the entire board.
So maybe we’ll just have to be content with the troops and weapons we have for the job. And you know, I actually think it works out quite nicely, even if two of the troops are cannon fodder