Credit to @BarryWuzHere for laying the groundwork for this. He theorized (and then we jointly verified) that the number of ascension materials and crafting materials that you get as part of your loot for beating a level on the map follows the same N-1 / N / N+1 distribution model as recruit drops do.
Well, now I’ve taken it a step further, and have confirmed the following loot drop rules (where the numbers below represent the “N” in the distribution model noted above):
Taking it a step further, on a per-world-energy basis (actually, the numbers below are on a per-three-world-energy basis, since it results in round numbers, and three WE is the least you can spend to play any level anyway):
S2N (normal difficulty) provinces 7, 8 and 9 give the most ascension mats rolls, clocking in at 3.5 per 3 WE
After that, there are a TON of provinces that give 3 ascension mat rolls per 3 WE.
S1 provinces 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 (plus level 9-1), and S2N provinces 7, 8 and 9 give the most crafting mat rolls, at 5 per 3 WE
There are a pretty good number of provinces that give close to 5 crafting mat rolls per 3 WE as well.
S1 province 4 gives the least ascension mat rolls, with 2 per 3WE. S1 province 9 (other than level 9-1) comes in second-worst, at 2.3 / 3 WE.
S1 levels 20-5 through 22-9 give the least crafting mat rolls per 3 WE, at 3.4. There are some levels in S1 provinces 13 and 17 that are close to that too.
I don’t know how much this really helps in terms of where to go for best farming. I do think it might help break ties when you’re deciding between a couple of spots, so hopefully some of you find it useful that way.
Some random related thoughts to keep in mind when making farming choices:
Troops and feeder heroes drop more frequently (per world energy) in the cheap S1 provinces.
I think the 3 star and 4 star crafting mats appear more frequently (per world energy) in the more expensive provinces (and I’m fairly certain that’s true with respect to the S2 hard mode levels), but this hasn’t been truly verified by Barry’s farming project yet, as far as I know.
Recruits should probably remain the top focus, since they’re the easiest valuable reward to predict accurately. (In other words, the number of ascension/crafting material rolls noted above still doesn’t tell you much about how many of a specific material to expect. If you’re farming for Dragon Bones, I suppose going to the provinces that yield the most crafting mat rolls per WE would make sense, but 4 star mats drop so infrequently even in the provinces where they’re supposed to be more common, that it simply doesn’t make a ton of sense to make them a priority over more predictable loot of similar value, like recruits.)
It’s so funny to me what gets engagement on this forum. This is by FAR the most important contribution I’ve made to the community in general (imo), and it doesn’t even have double digit likes. Meanwhile, my snarky replies to some random recruitment thread a couple weeks ago go through the roof.
It’s a pain with S1, since the WE cost changes in the middle of provinces. I can give a brief summary though:
Most ascension mats per WE: Season 4 (normal mode), provinces 9 & 10, at 1.333
Most craft mats per WE: Season 4 (normal mode), province 10, at 1.7
In other words, S4-P10(N) is best for mat farming, outside of AR/VF.
I’ll note that S4-P8(H) is not far off, and is significantly better for ham farming… (although in general, I consider map farming for ham to be a fool’s errand, it can certainly be used as a good tie-breaker)