Whether you are a (big) spender or a small/non-spender it is important to pay close attention to Challenges. Challenges are a great way to not only get back part of your gold and speed up investment, but also a way to get for example some materials and crates, required to make gear.
There are at this moment four type of challenges, State Challenge, Extreme Challenge, Alliance Challenge and Basic Challenge. The Extreme and Basic Challenge are for individual players, the Alliance Challenge is for the players in the Alliance together, and the State Challenge has prizes both based on individual and alliance point achievements. Each Challenge has three prize tiers, each with a point target and a set of prizes that will be received once the point target is reached.
The description of each Challenge contains information about how points can be scored. Typically one or more of the following will give you Challenge points: research power increase, building power increase, points for the amount of troops of a particular tier trained, points for shooting range, power increase, troops killed, troops hospitalized, resources gathered, rebels hit and killed.
Pay not only attention to what activity you get points for, but also how much. Some challenges favor a certain activity (e.g. giving 2 points for each research power increase, or 5 points for each building power increase, or two times the normal troop training points).
Note that you can calculate exactly how much points you need, and with the help of the tools and information on this website (e.g. the Extreme Challenge Planner and the Troop Training Calculator Tools or the power points from the building upgrades and research projects in the Data section) you can plan ahead exactly what you need to do to win Challenges, so you know exactly what your speed up and resource requirements will be.
Ideally you try to spend your gold and speed ups when you can score points for a combination of challenges, ideally all three State, Extreme and Basic Challenges. For this the categories for which you can score points should be overlapping. Since these days the Basic Challenge is always troop training, this is best done when the other categories also provide troop training or power increase points. What I do typically when they line up is speed up a large research that gives points for both State and Extreme Challenge and speed up trainings to score enough points to win 3rd prize targets for all three.
The point targets and prizes of a challenge depend on various factors, most important is the level of your headquarters. You will see during game play that as you upgrade your headquarters further the point targets go up. A lot of players see it as a target to go to headquarters level 21 as fast as possible, but this is not necessarily the best tactic, in the sense that at level 21 it will be a lot more difficult to win prizes in Challenges. Headquarters level 21 has some benefits as well, of course. It allows you for extra helps, and allows you to upgrade your Armory to level 21 as well, which unlocks the very important 3rd accessory slot. Still, unless you are a big spender you might consider staying longer at headquarters level 15 and 18 and upgrade most of the other buildings to that level, and do most of the available research, before upgrading the headquarters further.
I have mostly played up till headquarters 18 and found the leaderboard prizes so far quite disappointing, unless you score top spot. I suggest not to focus too much on leaderboard prizes at those levels, but instead stop after reaching enough points to win the regular prizes and save the gold and speed ups for other challenges instead.
There are different ways to focus on winning challenges, hopefully above information gives some pointers. Feel free to post any questions or additional tips.
The most important thing about winning Challenges is that you stock up on gold, speed ups, and resources so that you have the ability to invest them into winning one or more challenges when the opportunity comes along. For this you do not necessarily need to be a spender, but you need to make sure you do not spend gold and speed ups as soon as you receive them. Be patient.
Contributed by: GamesGuide on March 29, 2016