There’s actually a pretty well-defined path through a big chunk of the game. After you reach the middle it’s more like "here are all of the priorities, decide which make the most sense for you based on the troops you have.
First, there’s a golden rule that’s hard to figure out: your player level is almost irrelevant to your power. A level 1 player with Infernus is going to destroy a level 1000 player with even decent troops. Your player level will very rapidly add stats to your hero up to some point between 200 and 400, then they get further apart at a rate where everyone’s hero is more or less equal. So Troops are more important than levels, and until you have powerful troops you should shoot for what gets those over anything else.
That means a constant goal will be, “Get into a good/better guild”. That means 30 active members who complete at least some legendary tasks by completing all of the basic guild tasks. That means a guild that reaches 40,000 seals every week, even if it’s at the last minute on Sunday. You’re low level, so you won’t find one that good to take you in. That’s fine. Find “a guild”, and be on the lookout for better ones. This represents an income of thousands of troops per week, hundreds of gems, thousands of souls, etc. You need all of this.
In the really early game (where you are), your hero’s probably stronger than any troops you have. So play PvP, quests, challenges, Arena, whatever is fun. Acquire resources and look for troops that do interesting things. We can’t tell you “a great team” for this level. Troops in GoW are almost completely random (very few come from quests), so the answer to “a good newbie team” is different for every account and can change daily. To that end: be stingy with souls. Don’t level a new troop to max just to try it out. If you’re not sure if a troop is as good as it looks, ask about it on the forums. If someone complains it’s a dumb question, invite them to kiss your ass.
It also helps if you take a side trip to http://gowdb.com and link your account to it. It’s a site run by a very respected player and, among other things, has a page you can link to that shows your entire collection to us.
I recommend Arena for newbies. In that mode, all troops you choose are fixed at level 15 whether or not you have them or have trained them. Up to about level 200, Arena matchmaking intentionally chooses lower-level opponents for you. This is important because Arena allows “any hero weapon”, and weapon acquisition is tied to game progress. Arena will let you try out many troops before you have them and learn which ones do neat things. DO NOT take the offer to buy troops for gems at the end. There are zero endgame troops in the arena pool and the cost is exceptionally expensive.
Meanwhile: hoard your gems. Do not spend any. Your goal is to get Celestial or Dragon armor. One has a higher boost for gold, the other has a higher boost for souls. I think the gold boost is most useful this early, so focus on that first. Ideally, you’ll buy both, but each costs 500 gems. If you’re not in a “great” guild, that might take too long. ONLY after obtaining one of these armors should you consider spending gems on other things, and about the only interesting choice there is “gem chests” until you have better troops.
What are “Better Troops”? Well, mostly they’ll be legendaries (orange border) and mythics (neon blue border). They’re very rare, so expect “it’ll be weeks” for legendaries and “it’ll be months” for mythics. The troops that might rocket you to a higher tier immediately are: The Dragon Soul, Mercy, Valkyrie, Queen Mab, Emperor Khorvash, Gorgotha, Ragnagord, Infernus, Ubastet, and Famine. Maybe more. I’m going by memory here, and sticking just to troops that can fit on roughly any team and do really well.
TO THAT END, figure out which kingdom unlocks the Soulforge and the Dungeon, unlock those soon, and get those modes unlocked. The Dungeon is 3 daily, scaling challenges that award diamonds if you win. This is the only reliable way to get diamonds. Why do you care? Soulforge is a place where, among other things, you can trade diamonds for legendaries or mythics. Every week 4 legendaries are available for 800 diamonds, and 4 mythics are available for 4000 diamonds. Since you get to choose which one you get, this is an amazing boost. Dungeons will be very hard to beat now. Try anyway. they will get easier.
Once you get Soulforge unlocked and leveled to max (you have to win matches to level it, do NOT spend gems, it’ll be a long time before you have enough diamonds.) here’s the order I recommend you spend diamonds: The Dragon Soul, Infernus, Ubastet, Pharos-Ra, . The Dragon Soul is an amazing troop at all phases of the game, and any team with it is at least a lowkey soul farming team. Infernus and Ubastet are the most powerful offensive mythic troops in the game. Pharos-Ra is the best soul farming troop in the game. When you have all of these, it will be months from now, and you’ll likely be able to tell ME which troops are your next-best option.
Meanwhile, look at videos on Tacet the Terror’s youtube channel. He has some good advice for “fast explore” and other utility teams, and some of them are cheap. Honestly you can’t be “fast” until you’ve really trained up those troops, but a “slow fast team” is still faster than a random team. These are important because grinding Explore matches is the main way you’ll get traitstones for your powerful troops later. It’s also a good source of souls.
Once you settle into that groove, there are a ton of goals that you just have to decide how to chase
Play a lot of matches, tweak your teams to try and win more. Accumulate stuff for the next few months. By the time you have 5 or 6 legendaries and maybe a mythic, it makes sense to have “a strategy”.