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Best Map Stages

Most of the game is playing through Season 1 stages, so it's important to know which ones are the best. First off, just because something is harder doesn't mean it gives more stuff. Next, you can play levels over and over again, farming them for the best stuff. Here are the best stages to farm in Season 1, the top places to fill your rare elemental chests, and how to get the most out of Atlantis Rises and Valhalla's reduced costs!

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Best Season 1 Stages
Elemental Chests - best in Season 1
Atlantis Rises

Best Season 1 Stages

  • The first 'best' stage is 5-8. It gives the highest chance for Adventurer's Kits (backpacks) at early levels while also giving decent xp. 
  • 7-4 has the best number of monsters per flag, but not by much. If you want to try to finish your monster mission in 21 flags, this is your only real option (and it will sometimes still take 24).
  • 8-7 is my favorite level to run (max recruits!). Once you get to 8-7, this will be where you spend all those excess world energy flags. Why? It gives nearly the best xp for 3 flags (9-1 gives slightly more), lots of items and 8 to 10 recruits each run! This stage gives as many recruits as doing the Find Recruits quests, with better xp and other rewards (so don't do those quests, for the most part!) There are 4 rounds of guys, so I even do this for my monster mission (it takes 24 flags to get 100 kills). 
  • 12-9 is the best 4 flag level. It has the best xp, food, and iron. You also need Chain Shirts and Battle Manuals to level up your 4s/5s guys, and you start getting them in Province 12. 12-9 has the best chances to get them.
  • 17-1 is the best 5 flag level. It has the best xp, food, and iron (almost the best in the game for all of these per flag!)

Rare Elemental Chests

After the above stages, you'll want to know which are the best for each color for the rare missions. Some of these are definite, and others are up to argument. So I'll just give you my top picks and if you want to do more research on the topic to really hone your flag spending, go for it!

I'll do the easiest first:
ICE - 8-7. It's the best recruits AND most ice dudes! You should get 150 in about 36-39 flags, give or take.
NATURE - 7-5. Every guy is green and there are always 11 of them for 3 flags. 42 flags (39 if you can get 7 kills from raids or titan kills).
DARK - 7-4. You could also do 8-4, but 7-4 should get you about 13 guys per run vs only 11 (but they're guaranteed) from 8-4. 33-36 flags.
HOLY - 12-9. Or 10-6 (11kills) is good, too, but 12-9(9-13kills) gives better other rewards.  Too high? 8-2 and 8-6 could have none, but might have 15. This will take 52-56 flags. 
FIRE - 11-6. This is the worst one, sadly. Each red level is pretty terrible. You can also try 6-8 if you want it easy or 20-4 if you want good XP/flag. Each will take about 72-78 flags, so make sure you get those raid kills in! Also to note: Food and Iron quests also have all red enemies, so watch for those.

Atlantis and Valhalla

Atlantis and Valhalla reduce the number of World Energy needed for Season 2 and Season 3 respectively by 3. This changes EVERYTHING. When these are up, you should try to do ONLY those seasons. Must-do quests are the only exception (Trials, Gems, Rare Quests), but if you can put them off until after Atlantis/Valhalla, you should definitely do so. So which do you do? (REMINDER - Harvesters from Path of Valor do NOT work in cost reduced stages. If you have one running, ignore it. The rewards from reduced stages is still better than S1 stages even with a harvester running.)

Atlantis Rises Best Levels

Monster Kills - S2:4-3 - Around 17 monster kills every 3 flags gets your Monster Chest done in 15 to 18 World Energy!
Recruits - S2:6-9 - 21-23 recruits each run for 3 World Energy! With 11-17 (13 typical) monster kills, so it's good for Monster Chests, too!
Food/Iron/XP - S2:9-7 - This is my favorite stage to farm during Atlantis Rises. It has 11-17 monsters for your Chest and max resources!
Elemental Chests - Ice: S2:8-10; Nature: S2:9-4 (7-1 also good); Fire: S2:3-4; Holy: S2:13-1; Dark: S2:5-2*
  * Dark monsters are pretty rare in S2. S1:7-4 is going to use less World Energy for finishing the Dark Chest, but rewards will be better in S2 during Atlantis Rises.

Valhalla Best Levels

Monster Kills - S3:9-8 - Around 17 monster kills every 3 flags gets your Monster Chest done in 15 to 18 World Energy!
Recruits/Food/Iron/XP - S3:10-7 - 16ish recruits each run for 3 World Energy and with 11-17 (13 typical) monster kills, it's good for Monster Chests, too! This is my favorite level to do during Valhalla. 
Elemental Chests - Ice: S3:9-4(or 2); Nature: S3:1-8(or 5); Fire: S3:6-2; Holy: S3:8-6; Dark: S3:7-10*
  * Dark monsters are pretty rare in S3. S1:7-4 is going to use less World Energy for finishing the Dark Chest, but rewards will be better in S3 during Valhalla.

Do you have a favorite level that I missed? Let me know in the comments!