I’ve been playing other games, one of which is very similar to E&P, and those games have a few really good ways they manage loot. I’m just gonna throw the ideas out there to start the discussion and they can be tweaked with feedback.
Gifts - when in an alliance you can request gifts (one request active at a time). Depending on the type of gift (I’m thinking ascension items in particular) it will require a certain number of donations from alliance members. Each person gets 5 gifts per day to hand out to whoever they choose, but you can’t give multiple gifts to the same person (until the next day when your 5 gifts replenish). So for example, lets say a player requested Trap Tools. It will require 20 donations/gifts from alliance members. Once 20 people have donated a gift (not the actual ascension material in question) the requester will receive their trap tools. It would still be a lengthy process to acquire enough ascension materials to ascend a hero, but at least there’s steady progress being made and it fosters comradery amongst alliance members.
Map Levels - this idea ties certain materials to specific map levels. Lets say that by playing level 19-4 there is a chance for three consistent materials to drop (all having different drop rates… medium, low, very low… have this rate labeled on the material before starting the level). Now let’s say you complete the level and don’t get any of the three materials listed. When you don’t receive one of the materials you would gain “credit” towards that material. So for example, lets say 19-4 has a chance to drop chain mail shirts, warm capes, and sturdy shields. Now if you complete 19-4 maybe you get a sturdy shield, but no chain mail or warm capes, so you would earn credit (maybe 5 credits) towards each. Then you can continue to replay the level over and over to build credits towards those materials and once you hit the required amount (lets say 200) you would receive said item. Again steady progression being made and it gets players to play various map levels instead of just 8-7.
Steady card xp - this one is simple…for every match played the cards used could gain xp simply for being used in battle. A small amount would be fine, at least it’s steady progression being made to level up your cards and it gets people to try different cards out.
Hopefully the ideas I laid out make sense. Sometimes putting thoughts on paper doesn’t convey too well. If something was unclear just ask and ill do my best to clear up any confusion. Feel free to offer any tweaks to the ideas above, but let’s focus on the ideas rather than specific numbers used in examples.