Need to know how to most efficiently level your ship girls without wasting oil? We've got you covered with a full guide to upgrading your fleet!

Azur Lane Upgrade and Leveling Guide

Need to know how to most efficiently level your ship girls without wasting oil? We've got you covered with a full guide to upgrading your fleet!
This article is over 5 years old and may contain outdated information

Ready to get hooked on another mobile gacha title and upgrade an endless horde of summoned creatures?

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At least, in this case, the “creatures” are a little easier on the eyes. We all knew ships are supposed to be named after women, but apparently in the Azur Lane universe, they actually *are* women!

If you’re just getting started, you’re probably a little lost in all the upgrading, Limit Breaking, and leveling options available. Let’s dive right in and see where you should focus your efforts!

Azur Lane Upgrade and Leveling Strategy

Hyper-focusing on just a few ships to the exclusion of your larger dock isn’t very helpful for the harder, higher reward events.

On the opposite end, leveling everything to have a bunch of decent ship girls but none that are high level with max skills isn’t helpful either.

When upgrading your ships, your goal is to acquire the most experience and rewards for the least amount of oil spent. Because oil serves the same function as energy in other freemium games, you want as much as possible to keep playing.

This means carefully balancing daily quests and events with your farming attempts. By the mid-game, it becomes difficult to grind maps on hard mode and still complete daily quests, as there’s just not enough oil to go around.

Limit Breaking all of your ships in the early stages is a waste of oil. Instead, it’s better to wait to Limit Break until a ship is nearing max level, or when you are struggling with a specific stage.

When starting off, your first order of business is to reach stage 3-4 and farm there until you manage to get both Kaga and Akagi. From there, you want to build two full fleets (12 ships) of level 70+ with any ships that fit your play style.

When you get to that point, its time to farm stages 6-1 and 6-2 for advanced upgrade materials to get the strongest possible fleet.

Efficient Leveling In Azur Lane

When you have upgraded ships and can auto-battle an area, only using three ships in a fleet is the most efficient way to level up. Two ships are guaranteed to get 1.5 – 2 times bonus experience due to being the flagship or MVP of the battle.

Any ship girl with a good mood (received from spending time in the dorm) gets a further 1.2x experience bonus. Make sure to put your entire leveling team in the dorm to get the good mood bonus before farming!

When using three characters at a time all with the good mood bonus, this is an excellent leveling strategy:

  • Use one Limit Break 2 ship that’s level 50 or above to act as your main damage dealer/tank
  • Use one level 30 or above ship you want to level up
  • Use one low-level ship at Limit Break 0 you want to level up 
  • Auto battle a location you want to farm repeatedly
  • Continue farming until the mid-level ship hits level 50+ and your low-level front row ship is ready to Limit Break
  • Shift the locations of all the ships for a revamped group of three
  • The mid-level ship takes the position of the high-level ship, the low-level ship takes up the position of the formerly mid-level ship, and a new low-level ship joins the fleet to be leveled
  • Rinse and repeat to keep leveling your fleet as your oil reserves allow

Obviously, this strategy should be tweaked when you’re just starting and don’t have level 30+ or 50+ ships yet. Instead, just put your highest level with a mid-level and a low-level ship.

With this strategy, keep in mind that some ships will take longer than others to upgrade. Destroyers have less overall damage output so won’t get the MVP bonus as often, for instance. As you move to new chapters, your back line also needs to bet at higher Limit Breaks to survive the increased challenges.

Best Azur Lane Farming and Leveling Techniques

When farming a stage, take a look at the number of triangles on any enemy fleet. If you are overpowered to the stage, go after three triangle fleets immediately.

If you are struggling with a stage, its best to retreat when there are multiple three triangle fleets sailing around the map. You lose 10 oil, but that’s cheaper than losing entire battles with a full fleet.

Remember when farming a stage that the flagship boss gives the best drops, and usually has a guaranteed ship drop. To use the least oil for the best return, go straight to the flagship when it becomes available in that stage.

What about leveling up new level 1 ships when you’re in the mid-to-late game? You don’t want to waste oil farming chapter 1 stages that give you terrible rewards that aren’t worth the cost.

Instead of going back to those easy stages, pop your low-level ship girls in the dorm! Ships girls gain experience on the first floor of the dorm if you buy them food. While this does consume gold, you can level up quite quickly this way to make a character viable for farming.

Picking And Upgrading Equipment

Just as important as leveling is getting the proper equipment to maximize your damage and evasion. Your stats modify equipment damage (rather than the other way around) so the better your equipment, the more you will be able to auto-battle harder stages.

When opening boxes for equipment, always stick to purple rarity or higher boxes and remember that you can combine lower grade boxes to get a higher rarity!

In the early chapters, you may end up using blue rarity or lower equipment when no purple is available yet. In these cases, do not upgrade this equipment. It has a lower upgrade cap and is a massive waste of resources. Instead, replace with purple or higher equipment later and then upgrade those weapons instead.

Every day, also be sure to complete the highest hard mode stage you possibly can three times. This gives you core data to spend in the shop on better equipment.

Azur Lane Leveling Tier List

Nearly any ship girl in this game can be useful in different situations. While there are some really great combos that tend to outclass the others (like Kaga and Akagi), in general, any ship can work well from beginning to end.

That being said, there are some ships in each faction that are better suited for different roles. Some ships can easily heal themselves or have other useful skills that make them better at soloing mobs or taking down aircraft for instance.

Below we break down which ships tend to work out best for soloing mobs, having all-around high damage capacity for leveling, and for healing your fleet.

Best for clearing out mobs solo:
  • Downes (max blue skill)
  • Cassin (max blue skill)
  • Fletcher
  • Phoenix
  • Erebus
  • Nelson
  • Terror
  • Abercrombie

Best for high damage capacity:
  • Witchita
  • Arizona
  • Kaga (must be paired with Akagi)
  • Akagi (must be paired with Kaga)
  • Ayanami
  • Gridley
  • Laffey (better after remodel)
  • Ajaz (better after remodel)
  • Achilles (better after remodel)
  • Helena
  • South Dakota
  • Enterprise
  • Javelin
  • Chicago
  • Suffolk
  • Warspite
  • Yuudachi
  • Fusou
  • Yamashiro

Best healers:
  • Unicorn
  • Akashi
  • Shouhou
  • Vestal
  • Juneau (heals team when sinking)


Do you have any other tips for efficient leveling, farming, and upgrade in Azur Lane? Sound off and let us know your strategy in the comments section below!

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Ty Arthur
Ty splits his time between writing horror fiction and writing about video games. After 25 years of gaming, Ty can firmly say that gaming peaked with Planescape Torment, but that doesn't mean he doesn't have a soft spot for games like Baldur's Gate, Fallout: New Vegas, Bioshock Infinite, and Horizon: Zero Dawn. He has previously written for GamerU and MetalUnderground. He also writes for PortalMonkey covering gaming laptops and peripherals.