I just hit my one year ingame anniversary and decided to post what I had accomplished so far as 100% F2P-player. I read some similar posts in my first month playing and they managed to keep my expectations realistic and therefor enjoy the game more. Brief summary of my profile after 365 days:
Player Level : 50
Defense Team : 4133
Max Trophies : 2633
Number of 5 star heroes : 17 (all S1 except Poseidon and Bai-Yeong)
Number of 5 star heroes maxed : 3 (Poseidon, Lianna, Azlar) + 2 on the way in last ascension (Magni + Obakan)
Number of 4 star heroes maxed : 23 (all S1 heroes + Hansel, Fura, Brynhild, Triton)
I do have some non-S1 4 star heroes to level, but my current priorities are 5 star heroes.
I finished the Season 1 map after a couple of months. Season 2 and 3 are finished in Normal mode two months ago. Season 2 hard mode is almost finished (working though province 24 now).
My roster contains mostly vanilla heroes and very few to none of the fancy HOTM and event heroes, but I can finish pretty much every event in the game, except for the Ninja Tower (levels 30 and higher too difficult). I do enjoy being able to play all aspects of the game as a F2P. Just don’t set your expectations to high when it comes to rankings and such. Completion has always been the goal for me, practically all top 1000 event-players pay heavily.
This forum is a giant treasure of information I suggest you use as often as possible. Any choice or tactic I doubt, I search on the forum and always find threads where more experienced players share their findings. For me the most important thing in the beginning was to focus on reaching a Training Camp level 20 as fast as possible (for me this was after 5 months). Since september my 2 level 20 Training Camps gave me 13 5 star heroes. Second important tip as a F2P-player is to find a nice alliance that is active enough. An active alliance is the most important resource for 3 and 4 star ascension material. And when the chat is active it can be fun to talk with people who enjoy the game as much as you and to discuss possibles tactics with them.
All in all I can’t complain about my progress as a F2P-player and after 1 year I still enjoy playing this game enormously. I’m looking forward to completing S2 and S3 hard mode and finally reaching Stronghold level 25 to start my hero academy. Challenges enough to grind another year…