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.


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.


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.

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


Level 11 and 4 Gold Badges

On the day that the new levels in Ingress went live, I had enough AP to be Level 11. Unfortunately, I didn’t have all the necessary Ingress badges, so I only jumped to Level 10. I did have all the Silver Badges, and I had two of the four required Gold Badges. However, as I played I realized that unlike the previous levels, just “playing” Ingress wasn’t going to be enough to get to Level 11 any time soon.

Level 11 AP and Badges Requirements

I checked around with my higher level Denver players. Most came to the same conclusion I did. I would have far more AP than necessary for Level 11 by the time I actually got the four gold badges needed to achieve 11. Ironically, according to, the original required AP for Level 11 was going to be 7,500,000. That might have been a lot more realistic number for your average Ingress player as the point where 4 golds might actually happen.

As it turns out, I’m a fairly balanced player. I have the two “easy” Gold Badges: Recharger, and Guardian. The rest are all Silver except Purifier, and I’m pretty close to getting that one to Silver too. However, that also means that there isn’t one of the badges that I’m much closer to going Gold on either.

Level 11 Badges and AP

The only badge I don’t have is the Seer Badge. Honestly, it took so long for portals to get approved, and at the time, the only meaning for the badges was as trophies, that I just quit submitting portals. That’s too bad, because by now, all 5 of the portals I did submit late last year have been approved.

Targeting Gold

For most of the badges, there is really no way to go after them any more than you already do when you are playing Ingress normally. For example, the gold level Hacker Badge requires 30,000 hacks. Right now, I have 14,885, so that leaves 15,115 more hacks to go.  That’s more than all the hacks I’ve ever made during the entire 5 or 6 months I’ve been playing Ingress. There is simply no way to “hack more” than I already do. If I have Ingress on (most always) and there are portals in range, I hack them. I could deliberately hack a little more, but no matter what, it’s just going to take time.

I could target getting the Gold Seer badge, but with four to six months for portal approval, that’s a pretty long wait for L11. In fact, I am going to start aggressively submitting portals, but I think that a Gold Seer Badge will help a lot more for Level 13, than L11 or L12.

Links and Fields both sound deceptively close. I have 2,517 out of the 5,000 links needed to get a Gold Connector Badge. But, again, there is no way to “force” links. There are either portals that I have keys to or not. True, I’m linking pretty much anything to anywhere instead of carefully creating fields, but that still doesn’t give me a way to just go out an get 1,500 more links. The same is true of the Mind Controller badge where I have 1,385 out of 2,000 necessary fields. Again, I’ll field anything now rather than trying to create bigger, or more nested fields, but without the portals to link and field, it’s just going to take time.

Getting Gold Badges Faster

There is still a way to maybe force the issue of two more gold badges faster. The added bonus, is that along the way, I’ll be moving forward toward the other badges too. After all, chances are that I’ll have 8,400,000 AP much quicker than I’ll have 6 Gold Badges that you need for L12. (Fortunately, I already have a Platinum Recharger, so L13 is just one more Gold).

Two badges require “unique” portals. The Explorer Gold Badge requires 2,000 hacks on unique portals, and the Pioneer Gold Badge requires 1,000 captures of unique portals. In this case, unique, means a portal that you haven’t hacked or captured before.

As of this morning, I had 1,140 unique hacks and 606 unique captures. That means I need 860 for a Gold Explorer and 394 unique captures for a Gold Pioneer. Those aren’t close by any means, but unlike the other badges, these may be ones that you can push ahead a bit.

If you are like me, you play Ingress in a fairly standard area. That area may be big or small, but it’s your “home” area and you defend, attack, field and link there most of all. That’s awesome, and you are building up tons of AP, and resonators deployed, and resonators destroyed, and so on, but by now, almost none of them are unique.

Fortunately, I live in a decent size metro area, and I have my own car, so that means all I need really push those two badges ahead is to play in some new areas. Thanks to some help from local players, I think I have 300 unique hacks that I can get in some fairly tight clumps. That’s without even checking the map. The 40 new uniques I got this morning happened to be in a beautiful L8 farm that I never made it to, so I stocked up on gear, and got some hacks.

The captures will be more difficult. Ideally, I’ll look for places that the other side has recently captured but doesn’t intend on keeping. Those areas are often left with one resonator or low-level resonators without shields. Otherwise, the newer more powerful shields make captures and resonator destruction more costly.