Let’s dispel a few misconceptions. There are several types of ascension items. Some are “farmable” from the map (such as battle manual, chainmail shirt, scabbard, etc). Some are used for only 4* Hero ascensions (compass, fine gloves), some for 5* ascensions (Damascus blades), some can only be used for a particular color (red heroes = hidden blades for 4* or hidden blades and Mystic Rings for 5*).
This chart might help. (Click it to see the whole thing.)
Ascension items that are not farmable are rare. They can be obtained randomly in the game from any of these:
- Titan loot drops
- Wanted chests
- Rare (colored) wanted chests
- Rare quests
- Mystic Vision
They might also be available via Events if you score high enough or via War (I’ve had this happen to me at least once, and it’s happened in our alliance several times).
The reason folks focus on “high level AMs” is that is where the bottle neck is in leveling their heroes, which is what drives a good bit of their game experience and enjoyment.
I have seen ascension items in lower Titans, but it was, as you say, a rarer event.
I like your ideas on item conversion. I just also hope there are considerations for more AMs as well.