Firstly, this guide was written by Radlonghammer and I am merely placing it in a thread for everyone to refer to for everyone's convenience. None of this was written by me.
Also, thanks to Slevinn who gave the idea to have a thread that contained a guide to help new players.
Things I wish I knew when I was a Noob
EARLY STAGE GOLD PRODUCTION (Important at L1-30)
Leveling quickly in K&D takes time and gold. Let's talk gold:
Many of us look back on the 75 gold from a Level 2 Fountain as laughable. Still, that 75 gold builds VERY quickly, and at early levels, provides the gold needed for the investments appropriate for the early stages of the game. The key here is volume, build as many of them as your gold and space allow. 8 L2 Fountains will collectively produce 600 gold every few minutes. As long as you're checking in on the game every few minutes, this is a great way to rack up gold early.
The flip side to this is that fountains stink at developing your gold stash when you're AWAY from the game. At the early levels, L1 guard towers are the way to go. Guard towers build gold more slowly than fountains, but they don't stop collecting until after 12 hours. If you're going to bed for the night, sell off those fountains and build guard towers in their place. When you're going to be checking the game every several minutes (just got off work or out of school and have some game playing time, etc), sell the towers and replace them with fountains. This will momentarily seem to set you back on gold, but you'll gain much more in the long run.
The moment you're racking up gold faster than you spend it is the time to start considering Taverns. Taverns build gold nearly as fast as fountains, and max out nearly as high as towers. A L1 tower takes 4 hours to build 1900 gold, and keeps you from having to take the time to tear down fountains to build towers, and is a great compromise in the early levels.
From here, it's time to start building training fields, and unlocking the more expensive castle expansions. Do this as early as you can without sacrificing your ability to craft and enhance your armors. If you have 80,000 gold, for example, you should probably go ahead and drop 50,000 on a training field, and leave 30,000 for armor-related expenses. That Training field will repay you more quickly than you think.
The importance of building the early stage (inexpensive) castle expansions can not be understated. Do this AS SOON as you can afford to. Don't wait to have a big pile of gold saved up, and NEVER leave an expansion slot empty if you can afford to fill it.
WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING (Important at all levels)
Any time you're going to be away from the game for a chunk of hours (going to bed, headed to work, etc...) it's critical to quick leveling that you make sure the game is WORKING FOR YOU when you're away from it.
Here are some things you should always do before you put the game down for a significant chunk of time:
1) Use up ALL of your hit points: Whether you're farming materials, or trying to unlock the next stage, take this time to do some battling. If you die in the middle of a battle, just let the monsters heal (don't spend gems to continue) by simply X-ing out of the battle. When you come back to the game, the battle will still be active, and all of your knights will have healed, even if they were dead when you began the stage! This is a great way to clear tough bosses, gain experience points, and help the speed at which you level.
2) Put the construction crew to work: This is the time to get expansions and building with long crafting times going. You won't be tempted to spend gems on the speed-up process, and when you come back, your expansion or building will be ready, and you'll be a happy, quickly-leveling Knight
3) ABC Baby. Always be Crafting: Some armors take a long time to craft. Get these going before your head hits the pillow.
4) Put your Energy to good use: Use up any Arena Energy (for Arena Events) and any Epic Boss energy if appropriate. If you have at least 8 Epic energy, and can kill the boss with 3 of your knights and two friends, don't let that energy go to waste. Use it up so you can hit it again in the morning when you wake up to maxed Epic energy again!
5) Get the most out of your friends: You can hire 10 friends per day. If you've used less than 10, and your friend hiring abilities will reset while you're going to be away from the game, try to go ahead and use up any you have left. Once you've hired the first friend for the day, the other nine become a "use it or lose it" proposition for the next 24 hours. Try not to "lose it" too often. This is important to leveling quickly.
THE MIRACLE OF RESURRECTION (Important at all levels.)
PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR LEVEL BAR!!! One of the cool little feature of K&D is the fact that leveling up restores all of your hit points to maximum level, even when you're in the middle of a stage! If you're not exploiting this, you're not leveling as fast as you could be.
You should always take note of how much experience clearing a level brings. For example, let's say you just cleared Cold Rock Crags at the Valor stage, and noticed that doing so rewarded you with about 1/8 of an inch of experience on the Level bar, But took almost everything you had in terms of hit points to do so, and didn't level you up in the process. If you have 3/16 of an inch to hit the next level, the right play might be farming lower level stages until you KNOW FOR SURE, that you will level in the second to final stage of Cold Rock Crags. That way, you've ensured that you will level, and retained the maximum possible amount of Hit Points for other endeavors.
ALWAYS make the most of this feature. It is a KEY STRATEGIC COMPONENT in leveling quickly! It is also as important when farming the Ceberus at The Haunted Citadel (for Infernal Lord Armor) and the Dark Prince at The Kingdom of Darkness (for Dark Prince's Armor) at the later stages of the game!
REAL KNIGHTS GO ON QUESTS
Keep up with your quests. Not only do they teach you the fundamentals of the game, but they also come with rewards. The small amount of gold (maybe 200) and the small amount of experience (maybe 80) rewarded by a quest seems insignificant at the early levels. Most quests, however, have multiple levels. Completion of one typically unlocks another, with higher, more productive rewards.
The experience and gold from quests are important to rapid leveling, but quests also reward other cool stuff, like gems! And, sometimes the best thing that comes out of a quest is THE NEXT QUEST. Quests are almost never a waste of time!
KNOW THY ELEMENTS (Important at all levels)
All armors in K&D are based upon the five elements; Earth, Water, Fire, Air, and Spirit. Each element has an opposing element against which it is strong, and gets a corresponding stat bonus. Commit these element advantages to memory AS SOON AS YOU CAN, and equip armors accordingly. If you have trouble committing these advantages to memory, try thinking about it like this:
It takes a darned long time for the waves to erode the shore, so: Earth beats Water!
You deal with a fire by drowning it, so: Water beats Fire!
The strongest man among us becomes weak when he is burned out, so: Fire beats Spirit!
With enough dedication, a properly motivated man can move the Earth, so: Spirit beats Earth!
The rain always falls in the direction that the wind blows it, so: Air beats Water!
MARCHING ORDERS / BRINGING UP THE REAR (Important at all levels)
When starting to play, your main knight is always placed, by default, in the starting position for any fight. This might be correct, but it also might not. Your main Knight will always have the best stats. Sometimes this will mean it's best to put him in your weakest armor, thereby equalizing all 3 Knights, and sometimes it will mean putting him in your BEST armor, and last in line, where you need the hardest hits against the stage boss.
Obviously, this relates to the above point about matching the strongest elements against each other. Simply put, PAY ATTENTION. Bring the maximum damage where it will have the maximum benefit. You'll get the most experience out of the hit points you have to spend, and will level faster!
Further, if you can expend all of your allies hit points, while retaining a few for your main knight, your main knight will be good to go again once all of your allies are at max power. This will cut down significantly on the time before you can face a tough stage again!
STATS TRUMPS STARS (Important at all levels)
This one has been covered many times in these forums, but it's so wildly important that I'm going to try to explain it in my own way. Every last one of us has made the mistake, early in the game, of wasting time and gold crafting and enhancing armors that aren't worth it in the long run, or are inappropriate for those early-mid level stages of the game, and the lesson we learned cost us the ability to level as quickly as possible. If you can avoid this mistake, you'll level faster than we did.
Never spend resources on leveling an armor before taking the time to understand what that armor will eventually be capable of. Consult the following spreadsheet for a comprehensive list of all armor stats:
Using this resource will prevent you from overestimating an armor the first time you see it. Just because something is new to you, and seems cool to have gained, doesn't mean it's not trash. We all wasted our time on an Embersteel or a Monk's Vestments, etc. Don't repeat our mistakes!
DON'T BE A CHASER (Important Levels 1-70)
There's a time to chase the best armors in the game, but doing so too early will stunt your leveling ability by causing you to inefficiently spend your resources. Get the "Big Four" L50 dual element armors as quickly as you can, but don't be in a hurry to get the L70s and level them quite yet. That time will come, but it comes later than you might think.
THE PLUS MATTERS (Important at all levels)
Don't spend any time/money leveling a non plus version of an armor beyond what it takes to unlock the plus version. Doing so is a waste of time, gold, and craftable elements. Once you have your mono element armors (Stonescale, Seafoam, DragonFlame, Mystic, and Wing Warriors) to level 10, STOP enhancing them, craft the + version, and level the + version instead. This will momentarily set you back in armor strength, but it's an important investment that will pay off later.
Do the same with your "Big Four" L50 armors. Don't level a non-plus version of this armor beyond the L15 it takes to unlock the + version. Craft the plus as soon as you can, and level it instead. That one step back takes you 3 steps forward.
THE BIG FOUR MID-GAME ARMORS YOU CAN'T LIVE WITHOUT (Important L20-70):
Get these L50 dual-element armors to plus version AS SOON AS YOU CAN, and dedicate your resources to maxing them out to level 50. They will serve you, and your ability to quickly level, for a VERY long time:
Atlantean Avenger Plus (Air/Water)
Crius Armor Pus (Earth/Air)
Hydra Hunters Mail Plus (Fire/Water)
Living Flame Armor (Fire/Spirit)
FIRST FUSIONS (Important L15-30):
All of the above armors can be reliably fused through the combination of easily crafted tier 1(basic) or tier 2 (mono element L30) armors. Your first efforts at fusion should probably be the following:
Atlantean Avenger = Slot 1: Basic Air Slot 2:Basic Water*
Living Flame Armor = Slot 1: Basic Fire Slot 2: Basic Spirit*
Hydra Hunters Mail = Slot 1: Basic Fire Slot 2: Basic Water.*
Crius Armor = Slot 1: Wing Warrior, Slot 2: Stonescale Plate Mail
* It should be noted that these basic armor fusions seem to have a higher failure rate than the Tier 2 Mono combos. If you happen to have, for example, Seafoam Armor (for slot one) and a Wing Warrior Armor (for slot two), this combo will more reliably create Atlantean Avenger than the fusion of the Basics. Same goes for Living Flame and Hydra out of Tier 2 monos. The spreadsheet linked above contains all this info in great detail.
By fusing these armors before you're even able to craft them through elements allows you to level them to L15 BEFORE you can craft them. Consequently, the moment you have the materials to craft them, you're crafting the plus version! This is HUGE, and will save you tons of time in leveling further!
BEATING THE EPIC BOSS
To gain enough material to craft the armor that the Epic boss drops is easy, cracking the boss at L15 will do it. To gain enough material to craft the plus version is MUCH tougher, you have to achieve approximately Boss Level 43!
There has been a great deal of discussion on this board suggesting that if you can't beat the Epic Boss enough times to gain the plus version of the boss armor, that fighting the boss at all is a waste of time. I'm not sure I agree.
It's easy to think of the Boss Armor as the only reward for fighting the boss, but I want to suggest that there are other factors that make taking a stab or three at the boss well worth the time.
Consider the current Epic Boss as I write this, "Dragon of the Deep." Now, suppose you are in the Level 55-75 range that would allow you, depending on your friends list, to kill up to approximately the Level 35 Boss. This is frustratingly close to, and frustratingly far away from the 43 kills necessary to score the plus level Boss Armor, but DO NOT lose sight of what you DID gain along the way.
In this weeks case, you gained 18 Wing Warrior Armors (9000 gold value and 9 hours time value), 13 Snakeskin Armors (39,000 gold value and 26 hours time value), 3 silver keys, 4 gold keys, 4 gems, and some pretty meaningful piles of gold and experience.
In other words, at the levels where you can NOT beat the Boss 43 times, the rewards for trying and missing are still tasty enough to make it worth trying. DO NOT get so caught up in the desire for instant gratification that you screw yourself out of this goodness!
I repeat, all credits go to Radlonghammer for making this guide.