Low XM But More Power Cubes

If you have played Ingress lately, you’ve probably noticed that there is a lot less XM around than usual. For those of you that “just play the game” this may seem unusual.

What is going on with less XM in Ingress is that the story part of the game, that you get if you actually watch those Media items, or if you read the emails or otherwise follow along, is that there is currently an Obsidian Shield creating a worldwide shortage of XM.

The latest update is that some guys did some thing, and now there will be more Power Cubes in Ingress when you are hacking portals.

So, the good news is that at least you can use Power Cubes to refill your XM reserves, even if walking around (or driving to fill XM) isn’t really working like it used to.

What happens next?

ingress power cubes increase

Who knows. It seems that some people, including the folks who make Ingress, really like the whole story and mythology part of the game. For them, these little wrinkles are fun. For those who are just trying to play “normal” Ingress, you can consider them special events that you just have to deal with like they were actually part of the game.

Strategies for dealing with lower XM amounts are now less necessary, so long as you keep hacking and getting those power cubes.

For some of us, we somehow end up stockpiling them without trying very hard, and it’s been nice to have a need to use them other than just burning through them in order to manage Ingress item inventory limits.

If you are the kind of person who already has a lot of Power Cubes, you’ll want to watch your inventory so that this extra high hacking of Power Cubes doesn’t fill up your inventory, especially when hacking lower level portals and Power Cubes.

How To Get a Guardian Black Badge in Ingress

Once upon a time, before Ingress added new badges, the Guardian Badge was a key component of getting to higher Ingress levels. I wasn’t uncommon to see players with pile of AP above and beyond what was needed for the next level while they waited to achieve another gold or platinum badge in order to qualify. But then, Ingress started handing out badges like candy. I got a platinum Innovator Badge for free by being Level 13 on the day it came out. I also got Gold for several of the new Ingress badges by having already achieved the amounts before they were even invented. But, last summer, before all of this happened, I was going to need a Platinum Guardian Badge as soon as possible, and I would have needed black eventually.

How I Got My Guardian Portal

I got my gold Guardian Badge before I really knew what the badge even was. If you play in a lot of areas, you’ll eventually end up somewhere less contested than others. If you filed all of that, and then keep those fields up by recharging your portals, you’ll get a 20-day portal without much effort. (You’ll get your Recharger Badge pretty easily as well.) But, my gold Guardian badge was a different story.

I got one portal to 87 days before someone smashed the Denver Botanic Gardens and took my portal with it.

I got another to 89 days before Guardian hunting players from across town made a special trip for it.

After that, every time I thought I had a good Guardian portal, it got dropped, usually after 70 days. It’s just tough to keep a portal unnoticed for three months.

Then, I had an idea.

ingress-black-guardian-badge

As a parent, I got season passes to the local amusement park, Elitch Gardens. There were new portals inside the park too far from the outside to be hit by even an L8 XMP. So, I watched the Intel map, and as the final days of the park being open went by, I ensured that I owned a few of the inside portals, every one of them with just 7 resonators so I couldn’t accidentally link them and lose the keys.

Sure enough, when the park closed last fall, I had a portal safely inside. Now, all I had to do was avoid spoofers.

The platinum badge came in January, and a few months later, black (or onyx, if you prefer). It lasted until 191 days when the portal was taken down by someone at the season pass sneak preview evening. By then, it was too late. I already had what I needed.

Best of all, that means I don’t need any more badges, ever, for Ingress, unless they make new levels. I’ve got 4 Platinum and 2 Black for L16. I’ll just need the AP. Which is good, because I really don’t care about a lot of the new stuff, like glyph hacking or missions.

The other fun piece, is that the only reason to hide your stats is to keep enemy players from seeing how close you are to a Guardian. Now that my stats say 191 for longest portal held, I can show my stats again. Not that it matters, I just like being open about who I am and how I play.

More importantly, there is no reason for me to find a portal in the middle of nowhere and remember to charge it for six months anymore.

New Badges Reduce Importance of Guardian Badge

Once upon a time, just a few months ago, the fastest way to higher levels, some would say the only practical way to high levels, was to get Platinum Recharger, and Platinum Guardian badges.

You see, getting Gold level badges isn’t easy. I myself had to spend a fair amount of time chasing down unique portals, and then wait while I hacked and linked everything to finally collect the four gold badges necessary for Level 11, long after I had enough AP for Level 13. However, those badges are definitely doable for anyone playing the game seriously. More importantly, one could actually focus and move forward on getting those badges within a reasonable time frame.

Platinum Badges Ingress

But, once you start talking about Platinum Badges, the requirements start getting very, very big indeed. The kind of big that could take months, or even years, even with the most diligent playing. Consider this, I’m Level 14 now (more on that in a minute) and have been Level 8 for about one year. I’ve been playing overall since fall of 2013. I did cut way back on playing for three months last summer, because I’m a freelance writer, and work at home dad, which means when school is out, finding work time means using up Ingress time.

Even if we leave out that three months of summer, I’ve been playing pretty consistently, though not manically, for a year. In that time, I have hacked 32,448 portals. That’s enough portals for Gold, but to get the Platinum Hacker Badge, I would need to hack not double that, but over triple that. In other words, if it took me a year to get 30,000 hacks, the same pace would take over three years for me to get the platinum. It takes 10,000 uniques to get Platinum Explorer. I don’t think there are 10,000 portals in all of Colorado. I’d literally have to travel to get the Platinum.

There is nothing wrong with this, of course. I think Platinum should be hard to achieve. I think having Platinum Badges should show your long-term, or very hard core, commitment to the game. The catch is, however, if you want to get to Level 13, you need one of those Platinum Badges.

Recharger Platinum Level 13

For me, the easiest Platinum Badge was Recharger. I got it without really trying to do anything other than keep some portals and fields up. For a while, I dominated a small stretch of Denver, and took pride in keeping it blue and linked. The only way that stays up is if you keep recharging the portals. That, plus, I use a technique where I keep my scanner running while I drive to fill up with XM, and then recharge portals while at red lights, or whatever. (Do not play Ingress while driving, but there is nothing wrong with playing while stopped.) Today, I have over 45 million in recharged XM, almost enough for double black. Long story short, having one Platinum Badge was never a barrier to Level 13 for me.

recharger

Level 14 Two Platinum Badges

Which, brings us to Level 14, Guardian hunting, and 2 Platinum Badges.

In order to reach Level 14 you need two Platinum Badges. As I mentioned above, getting a Platinum Badge requires either years of play, or many, many long days playing Ingress. The one way to get another Platinum badge without losing your job and family was to get the Guardian Badge.

The Guardian is kind of a weird badge for Ingress. If you’ve been playing for very long, you know that Ingress isn’t a very defensive game. While a field of shield portals can be difficult and time consuming to bring down, especially if they are being recharged during the attack, a single portal really has no chance against a player that wants to bring it down. Thus, the Guardian Badge is less about you guarding anything and more about you hiding something, and remembering to recharge it.

There are two kinds of people. Players who “ended up” with a Guardian because for some reason it never got taken down, and those who deliberately sought out Guardians by going out into the boonies or setting up other difficult to reach portals.

Anyone “going for Guardian” will try and find out of the way portals. Many look for those where maybe only one carrier even has service, or better yet, maybe a portal where you would need special equipment like signal boosters, or even a satellite phone. Once established, you keep recharging and hope nobody notices it, and you don’t forget to charge it. Many a guardian was lost during last year’s “virus” thing where portal decay went faster.

I had a portal inside the Denver Botanic Gardens, a not very popular attraction with an entrance fee. It made it to Day 87. I don’t know if it was coincidence or if someone deliberately went in and got it. I also had a Guardian in a not remote area, but some distance from main roads, unlinked, and not near any other portals. In other words, you probably wouldn’t happen across it without deliberately going there. It was taken down on Day 89 by deliberate Guardian hunting.

Unlike many others I have no problem with Guardian hunting. It’s just part of the game, but until recently, killing a Guardian also meant killing your ability to move up levels. No Platinum Guardian, no Level 14.

New Badges Ingress

To this day, I still do not have a Platinum Guardian Badge. However, thanks to the new Ingress badges, I am already Level 14. In fact, I was one of those that got a higher level “for free” thanks to the Innovator Badge. Since I was Level 13 (AP + 7 Golds + Platinum Recharger) on the day Innovator Badges were awarded, I got the Innovator Platinum, and Level 14. Without it, I’d be Level 13 with 18+ million AP.

pioneer badge

But, the Innovator badge was a one shot deal, and for Level 15, and for everyone else who got Gold or lower Innovator, there was still the need to get that pesky 90 Guardian Portal, a bummer of a goal, because each time you lose it, you just have to wait. You can’t play any harder to make days pass faster.

Enter Trekker and Engineer badges. The Trekker badge, in particular, can be a savior for long-time players. Since Distance Walked has been tracked from the beginning, players get credit for the whole time they have been playing Ingress. At last check, I’ve got 869 km just by playing normally. In other words, when I hit 24,000,000 AP, if I don’t have a Platinum Guardian, all I have to do is turn on my scanner and start walking. Heck, I might hit 1,000 km naturally just by playing enough to get the 24 million in AP.

Engineer is further away for me, of course, because it’s a new stat. But, for players who are just now Level 4, plugging away for the AP to get to Level 8, and then one day trying to make enough Golds for Level 11 and needing a few Platinum for higher Ingress levels, well, Engineer might just be tantilizing close.

Either way, the days of desperately needing a Guardian Badge to achieve higher levels is gone. And, that may have done more to put an end to the drama of Guardian hunting than eliminating the data about when a portal was captured from the scanner. Whether they find my 70-something Guardian in the next 20 days or not is irrelevant. I’ve got plenty of ways to make Level 15 now, once I get the AP, that is.

Temporary Ingress Anniversary Rules

In an effort to keep Ingress “fresh”, Niantic likes to make temporary adjustments to the rules. Sometimes, it makes the effort to build in something to the Ingress story in order to justify the game changes. For example, it claimed that someone created a virus that affected portals when it made the change to faster decay rates. Sometimes, it just announces new rules, as with the latest Second Anniversary Rules.

Ingress 2nd Anniversary Rules

ingress anniversary rulesThe new rules are simple enough. First, for two weeks, everyone gets double AP points for everything they do including recharging (20 AP instead of 10), linking and fielding. If you are an under Level 8 agent, looking to move up, this is great news. In my experience, most agents find the badges the limiting factor for higher Ingress levels, so it really doesn’t mean much to the over 8s.

You do get a new badge if you are over level 3, or something like that by the 2nd anniversary. So, that’s fun digital swag, if nothing else.

In addition, the rules were changed to give more resonators from friendly portals, and more Xmps (weapons) from enemy portals.

Hack output of the Portal Network has also been boosted:
3X more Resonators to help Agents upgrade Portals
3X more Xmps from enemy Portals to help Agents reclaim strategic Cells
3X more Rare Heat Sinks and Multi-hacks to help Agents replenish inventory

Every rule change comes with plenty of agents complaining about the new rule change, and that leads to plenty of agents telling those agents to shut up and quit complaining. However, what I find most fascinating is that Niantic never seems to get what it wants from the rules changes it makes. It’s almost like they don’t have any developers who actually play the game.

For example, the change to xmp hack output is to “help agents reclaim strategic cells,” while the boost to friendly hack output is to “help agents upgrade portals.” Although, anyone who actually plays the game knows that these changes will do no such thing.

Upgrading portals requires the ability to deploy additional higher level resonators, not having more of them in stock. No matter how many L8 resonators I have, I can’t put more than one on a portal. Even a Level 5 player only gets to deploy 2 L5 resonators, so what exactly will he upgrade with his huge new stock of 3x hacked resos?

I’m not sure how MORE of whatever reso gets hacked out of a portal are going to help. In fact, the higher level resonators are actually pretty easy to keep in stock because so few can be deployed on each portal. For example, you can only deploy one L7 reso on a portal, so having just 50 of them means the ability build or upgrade 50 portals, without a single hack to replenish them. I throw a L8 reso on every portal I walk by whether I care about it or not, just to help out the team. But, unless I go days without farming, I never run out of them.

I do build relatively frequently, and sometimes many portals at once, but it is rare for me to build or upgrade 50 portals in a row.I often run out of L4 resonators (I build L5 portals by myself, so I have to remember to build a L4 portal on purpose, or hack after deploying the 5s, to hack any L4 resonators.) Other players with the ability also build L5 portals at minimum, so you CAN run out of L4 resos. Of course, there are always 3s, 2s, and 1s to fill out the slots.

The actual result of the higher reso hack is only that I’m recycling many more resonators than ever before.

The higher reso hack, makes the higher output of heat sinks and multi-hacks almost comical. You can only put heat sinks and multi-hacks on friendly portals. But, those portals will already output 3x resonators so quickly that you will be forced to recycle them frequently. I recycle resos in batches of 50 to keep my inventory down. Plus, portals already gave out more resos than xmps. If you burned out a farm loaded with multi-hacks and heat sinks in order to get a stockpile of weapons, you would be recycling resos in batches of 100.

 

In contrast, going through xmps is very common. It can take 10+ L8 bursters to take down a shielded and linked portal. So, running out of XMPs is very likely. In fact, the only agents sitting on large piles of XMPs are those who have recently burned out a large farm, or those who don’t really attack much. Because of this, the higher hack output from enemy portals is actually the more desirable of the two changes. In fact, I now leave enemy L8 portals nearby untouched, so I can hack them for more XMPs. Some agents even used flipcards to get enemy L8 portals to hack.

I’m not sure that Niantic actually understood this dynamic when they implemented these rule changes. This isn’t a complaint or anything. Frankly other than being less compelled to attack every L8 enemy portal I see, and recycling a lot more, these rule changes mean pretty much nothing to me. I suppose the higher AP is a big boost to lower level players, but since I’m 600-ish hacks away from the Gold Hacker Badge and Level 13, with 3,000,000 AP to spare, I couldn’t care less.

It’s, just that it would be nice if it seemed like the guys developing the game actually understood it well enough to make it do what they wanted it to do.

 

 

 

Ingress High Level Requirements 9 – 16

There are other places online that have the requirements for Ingress levels table, but I’m tired of searching for it, so I’m putting it here. However, if you are just looking for the requirements for the next higher Ingress level you want to get to, they are in your scanner near the top of your Agent tab.

Update: Thanks to the new Ingress badges recently released, attaining higher levels, especially Level 14, Level 15, and Level 16 is easier than ever. 

next ingress level requirments

In this case, I need one more Gold Badge to be Level 11 in Ingress for a total of six silver badges and four gold badges. Note that there is a semi-confusing issue here with how the badges are counted. Each level of badge is counted cumulatively. For example, I have a Gold Mind Controller badge. That means that I have also earned a Bronze Mind Controller Badge and a Silver Mind Controller badge along the way. This is important because when you are counting Gold badges, for example, you need to know that those badges also count as Silver badges. The badge counts do not continue above the number required. So, even though I have more than 6 silver badges, the display does not bother with them once the requirement of six is met.

For those of you who are particularly detail oriented, you may have noticed that I’m just 34 unique hacks away from my fourth gold badge and Level 11. You may have also noticed that I have WAY more AP than is required for Level 11. From speaking with other agents, this is a common phenomenon, particularly among those of us who played the game before the badges were really used for anything.

Ingress Level Requirements Table 9 – 16

Level AP Req Silver Gold Platinum Black
L9 2,400,000 4 1 0 0
L10 4,000,000 5 2 0 0
L11 6,000,000 6 4 0 0
L12 8,400,000 7 6 0 0
L13 12,000,000 n/a 7 1 0
L14 17,000,000 n/a n/a 2 0
L15 24,000,000 n/a n/a 3 0
L16 40,000,000 n/a n/a 4 2

As for what you get for being a higher level, the answer is, basically nothing as far as your everyday game play is concerned. Officially, you get a longer range for recharging portals (and a higher percentage of recharge for portals that are far away but still within range for lower levels). You also get a higher maximum XM capacity. However, there are no items above L8, including power cubes, so really the higher maximum is usable just once, until you start playing, and then, you’ll have to re-collect up XM to the maximum. Assuming that XM was around to collect in the first place, then you could have just filled up to your old maximum, deployed, attacked, built, recharged, or whatever, and then collected more XM as you played, making the max XM a minimal advantage.

I find that the only way it really comes into play for most players, including myself, is that if you leave your scanner on as you drive around, it will collect XM as you move around. Do not try and actually play while driving. However, there is nothing wrong with turning your scanner on and then leaving it running as you drive. You may have to make your time to sleep or screen saver longer to take full advantage of this technique. Depending upon where you live, how dense the portals are, and how far you drive, you can get full-up with XM on your way to wherever you are going. At a higher level, this is an advantage to have a bigger XM bank to start with, but again, it isn’t really that big of deal, especially if you have a few power cubes in inventory.

Playing Ingress While Traveling

Recently, I took a family vacation that allowed me a little bit of time to play Ingress in another city. Playing Ingress in another city near your own town really isn’t that different than playing on your home turf. Hack what you can, attack what you want, link and field, and then when you are done, decide which keys to keep, and which keys to recycle.

However, when you travel farther away, especially if you are gone for a longer period of time, things can be a little different. Here are some tips for playing Ingress on vacation, or while taking a business trip.

Key Management

One of the first things you will find, is that your home keys are not very useful in another city. Chances are you can’t link from Florida to Chicago, or from Cleveland to Seattle without a little planning, and some help clearing blocking links. However, that doesn’t mean your home keys are worthless. After all, you’ll be going back there sooner or later, and starting over from scratch collecting keys isn’t appealing.

Also, there may be some portals that you want to keep alive by recharging. However, distance makes each recharge weaker. How much weaker depends upon your level. One of the only benefits from levels higher than 8 in Ingress is longer distance for recharging. Recently, I was in Florida, as a Level 10 player and recharging portals in Denver came in at just over 51% efficiency. In other words, I needed about two recharges in Florida for every one charge while I’m in Denver.

Fortunately, sorting your keys by distance should keep your local “away” keys separate from your now distant “home” keys. However, while traveling, it is useful to utilized capsules for keeping your keys separate. I find that sorting my home keys into those that I’m just holding on to until I get back from those I intend to use for recharging into two different capsules saves a lot of scrolling and time. It also keeps you from missing an important recharge among all those “not now” keys. Since you can’t recharge keys from inside of a capsule, I find that using a third capsule for my current location keys makes everything run smoothly.

To use the system, put your home keys into two different capsules. One capsule is for dormant keys that you don’t intent to use while you are gone. The second is for the capsules you want to recharge or keep an eye on. When you arrive at your destination, you should have no keys outside of capsules. Now, you can hack and acquire new keys and play, link and field without your home keys getting in the way.

When you feel like recharging, you can, of course, pull out your keys one or two at a time. However, I find that that it is easier to load all the keys I have acquired on vacation or on that business trip into a capsule for temporary storage. Then, unload all the keys from your home recharging capsule. Scroll through and charge what needs charged. Move the keys for any portals that are captured or destroyed into your non-active, home holding capsule. This way, only the keys that need your attention are left. Depending on how many portals you own, and how long you are gone, there may only be a few keys left when you head home.

When you are done recharging, reload all of those home keys back into their capsule and unload all of your current location keys. Now you are ready to play again without having to mix, match, sort, and watch different sets of keys.

Hack Everything When Traveling

Whether you plan to do anything with the keys and portals you get while traveling, be sure to hack absolutely every single portal you can. Unique hacks can add up to give you a gold or platinum Explorer Badge which you may need in order to have enough golds for Level 11 or enough platinum badges for other levels. Likewise, always capture any gray portals, even if it just a single L1 resonator. Those unique captures count toward your Pioneer Badge. And, as a dedicated Ingress player, you should of course, take down any enemy portals that you can based on your time, location, gear, and ability.

Connecting With Ingress Players in a Different City

If you are traveling with family, or your business travel schedule is just to tight for you to really connect with the Ingress community in other town, you can just go about your business. Teammates will never begrudge the help purifying or fielding their city, and the tears of your enemy taste just as sweet in any town.

On the other hand, if you have some free time, you may want to give out a shout in the local comms and see if you can connect with other players. You may be surprised to find out the community is very much NOT the same in every town. Some Ingress areas are very friendly with plenty of cross-faction interaction. Other communities are less friendly. Some are downright unpleasant, and worst of all, some areas are nothing more than the playground for bots. However, Ingress is a social game, and most times, you’ll find at least a few friendly compatriots. Grab a beer with your new comrades, then head out to field up downtown, tear down that enemy field, or just pitch in. Ideally, they’ll do the same when they visit your community.

As always, have fun, no matter where you play Ingress.

Collecting Uniques Isn’t a Picnic – Ingress

Turns out that even though collecting various “uniques” is still likely the best bet for many players to get two more gold Ingress badges, it isn’t necessarily a quick task either. (Update: Playing Ingress on vacation is a good way to rack up some uniques, if you can get away to play.)

Yesterday, I managed to grab about 40 uniques, and squeezed out another 30 unique hacks this morning between dropping off kids and getting to work. Still, that’s a long way to go to get the next 681 needed for a gold Explorer badge. A local player says that there is a 100-ish portal cluster nearby. That might be my next move.

Getting unique captures for a gold Pioneer Badge is even a longer process. There, you need not only new portals, but new enemy portals. Then, you need to have the gear and time to take down those enemy portals and capture them. I know where there are some good enemy portal clusters. Unfortunately, most of those are heavily linked and shielded. Not that I don’t love a good fight, there is just a very big difference between racking up quick captures and taking down a big enemy field.

I guess it’s time to hit the Ingress Intel map and find clusters of Level 4 green portals, hopefully unshielded 🙂

Latest stats:

  • 7,200,758 AP
  • 1,129 / 2,000 Unique Portals Visited
  • 616 / 1,000 Unique Portals Captured

L11 Progress Pictures