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 Portal Rejections

One of the most frustrating aspects of playing Ingress is the process of submitting portals. On the one hand, it is a remarkable game feature that lets anyone, anywhere, submit portals that are then incorporated into a game played by millions of people from all over the world. In other words, there is no reason any area can’t have portals no matter how far they are from someone who works at Ingress.

On the other hand, to avoid Ingress cheaters, and other people who don’t care about the game as much as they care about their own little desires (spoofers, and bot runners are other examples) there has to be a review process to make sure that submitted portals are both legitimate and worthwhile. However, with players all over the world, submissions are numerous. As a result it takes a very long time to get submitted portals reviewed and approved. Last time I checked in with team members, it was taking nearly four months to have portals reviewed.

Check out my Credit Karma review.

The long review period in itself acts as a bit of a deterrent to Ingress cheats. After all, if it’s going to take four months before any submitted portal goes live, there is no way to submit a portal quickly and use it to build a BAF (Big Ass Field) or a flash 8 portal to gear up with. In fact, many players who submit couch portals, or other portals, aren’t the ones who end up using them. After four months, players quit, circumstances change, and so on.

The long review period also causes considerable frustration. Players attempting to get the Seer Badge, for example, not only have to find new portal candidates, they have to wait a very long time to get them approved. If you have zero submitted portals today, no matter how many amazing portal candidates you find, you will not earn the Bronze Seer Badge for at least four months. In a game with mostly real-time feedback this is hard to put up with.

Even more frustrating is when a portal you submitted, and then waited months to be reviewed, is rejected. Even more frustrating that that is that in order to make the portal review process move along even at the current glacial speed, time can’t be spent by the reviewer to tell you WHY your portal was rejected, other than the form letter text that the submitted portal doesn’t meet the requirements. And, even more frustrating than that is when a portal you submit is rejected while a very similar portal is accepted.

Keep in mind that when the game was starting more portals was a good thing. These days, some areas are choked with portals. So, what was once a good portal is not a good portal now. Cheeseman Park in Denver, Colorado, for example, is filled with portals that are memorial benches. A memorial bench, if you aren’t familiar with the concept, is nothing more than a regular park bench that someone donated money to put a little plaque on. These benches are in no way cultural. In fact, they are routinely ignored. However, they have been there for a long time, and are fun local place to play Ingress.

Rejected Ingress Portal

Still, it is a little hard to swallow when I submitted a Memorial Garden that is,

a) bigger than a bench,

b) has a bigger, more impressive sign than the bench, and

c) is in an area with just a few portals existing.

If you ever submit a portal that you know SHOULD be accepted, there is an appeal process. Don’t be a jerk though. The portal review and appeal process is already choked enough without belligerent chuckleheads insisting that their portals must be approved. I’m not appealing this portal rejection. After all, I know that it is in no way culturally significant, and while I want my Bronze Seer Badge to make the last lock on my stats go away, I know that it’s a judgement call. Now, if a large, beloved local statue was rejected, that would be different.

In the end, if you want your Seer Badge, of any color, start submitting portals now. You’ll need to think of them the same way you think of Guardian Portals. Just having the one and hoping it makes it is not an intelligent strategy. Submit everything you find, everywhere you go. Eventually, even though it make take months, or even a year or more, you’ll get your badges, and have plenty of new portals to play with as well.

Almost to Level 11

I realized several months ago when the new higher Ingress levels came out that I was going to have a lot more AP than the minimum for getting to Level 10 and then eventually Level 11. Of course, back when I started playing Ingress, Level 8 was the highest level and the badges weren’t really for anything other than vanity. As a result, I never focused on doing the things that counted toward badges.

Just the things I did playing the game counted toward getting, of course. I blew up enemy portals when they were in my way, too big, too close, or just on the way when I had some free time available to play. I also deployed resonators in order to build my own portals, linked portals to turn the skies blue, and so on. But, in the end, badges came without any effort or knowledge on my part. I remember getting the Gold Guardian badge one day and then looking it up to figure out why I got it. (I capture and keep a lot of portals around my home and work. One of them lasted 20 days. I didn’t even try.)

The one thing I had going for me was that I didn’t like the idea of my portals dying for no reason. That is, I didn’t let portals decay. I started by recharging anything that was sentimental or otherwise important to me. Then, I’d charge whatever I needed to keep up my fields or links. I’d charge portals that I knew were particularly irksome to other players, and finally, I’d charge anything that was about to die. I’d leave my scanner on when I drove places. At red lights, I’d recharge with the XM I collected on the trip. I didn’t save everything, of course, but I did save a lot. As a result, the first ever Platinum Badge I got was the Recharger Badge. Now, I have the Onyx Recharger Badge. Currently, I’m sitting on 28,246,948 XM recharged.

onyx recharger badge

The point is that I got that badge just because that was how I played. Other badges came too. I basically got the 6 Silver Badges before the higher levels came out. As I mentioned, the Recharger and Gaurdian badges were already Gold before I had to bother “working” at it. Ironically, my first effort to actually, deliberately go get Gold Badges didn’t work out before my next badge just kind of came to me. My Mind Controller Badge went gold, and while I certainly was aware of it happening, I didn’t necessarily force it the way I have my quest for unique captures and unique hacks.

Unfortunately, as a freelance writer that works from home, summer is not the most productive Ingress time for me. While working from home usually affords one some flexibility in Ingress time, watching kids on summer break while also trying to maintain quantity and quality of work does not. As a result, I’m still just Level 10 as the middle of August approaches. However, Level 11 is close at hand (I’ll have it in a single day if I’m not already there once the kids go back to school.) Even more interesting, it that by playing in the small spurts I’m able to put together, me and my over-sized L10 AP are actually very close to Level 12 as well. I’m less than 50 unique hacks from Gold Explorer, 51 unique captures from Gold Pioneer, and 1,100 links from Gold Connector. So, as fall rolls around, it looks like I’ll be L12 very soon.

Current Status:

  • 10,666,439 AP
  • 10 Silver Badges
  • 3 Gold Badges
  • 1,966 of 2,000 Unique HACKS for Gold Explorer
  • 949 of 1,000 Unique Captures for Gold Pioneer
  • 3,902 of 5,000 links for Gold Connector

Basically, any one of the Golds above gives me Level 11.

Two more golds gives me Level 12 (I already have enough AP for that.)

For Level 13 I need another 3,000,000 million AP and one more gold and one more platinum. I seems like that might be the level where my AP needs match up more closely with my badge needs, unless I get lucky with a Guardian portal hitting 90 days.

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.

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