“HELP! I'm a returning player with a level <insert number> account. What should I be doing?”
Take inventory! Figure out your resources: various coinage, gems, gold, and so forth. Look at your inventory: Characters (character level, star level, gear level, and faction), training droids (for leveling up characters), Ships (ship level, ship star level, & pilot status), Squad & Fleet Arena ranking (try to stay where you can get a minimum of 400 arena store coins & 1000 fleet arena store coins, but higher the better), Mods (sell any mods that are 4 dot or less).
Once you've taken inventory, now it's time to organize your characters. Here are the list of priority teams you should have to form your core inventory, from highest priority to least.
1) Phoenix: Hera, Kanan, Zeb, Ezra, Chopper. This team will go far in helping you get through Galactic War easily as well as unlocking Palpatine & Thrawn, plus helping you with the light side mission nodes. If you don't have them, make them your top priority, and get them to max stars and a minimum of gear 9.
2) Empire: Palpatine, Thrawn, Vader, Tarkin, Tie Fighter Pilot (TFP). You'll be getting this team unlocked by simply playing the game and farming Phoenix. Once ships are unlocked, you can farm Vader and TFP in fleet arena store, and Tarkin in Squad Arena Store. This team will help you with the dark side nodes, and it's a solid arena team. Also, it's a team that you can use to unlock R2D2.
3) Episode 4 Rebels: Old Ben, Stormtrooper Han, Farmboy Luke, Princess Leia, R2D2. This team will help you get Commander Luke Skywalker (CLS), who is still a solid leader in the Arena with the right team.
4) Jedi: Bastila Shan, Old Ben, Kanan, Ezra, (choose a Jedi/GMY). This team will be a strong arena team for quite a while, even replacing what was used before if it was one of the above teams. Before you unlock Grand Master Yoda (GMY), you'll need to have a fifth jedi at 7 stars. I'd recommend Mace for pure speed at which he can be leveled to 7 stars, or Jolee for later. Take note, Jolee is a long grind, so you may want to save him for later. Once GMY is unlocked, put him in that 5th slot.
5) Bounty Hunters: Boba Fett, Cad Bane, Greedo, IG 88, Aurra Sing. Eventually, you'll want Bossk and Dengar when you go to unlock Chewbacca, but this team will be enough to help you with the various credit heist and training droid events. Plus, they're useful in Territory Wars, Battles, as well as the Sith Raid.
6) First Order: Kylo Ren Unmasked (KRU), First Order Officer (FOO), Captain Phasma, First Order Executioner (FOX), First Order Stormtrooper (FOS). This team can solo the rancor raid, which will ultimately get you Han Solo. Also, they're needed for BB8, who is needed for Jedi Training Rey (JTR). Also, they're a good counter to Bastila lead Jedi teams.
You'll be able to move onto other teams/factions after these are set up.
Plan out where you're going to farm what: LS/DS nodes, Cantina Nodes, Fleet Nodes, and which stores can you find them in. Write them down, if you have to. Use your “favorite” marker in your character inventory to mark which Characters you're farming right now.
Unlock all Nodes!! Light Side … Dark Side … Fleet … Cantina … Mods … normal … hard … all of it. Unlock all nodes at 3 stars. Being in a guild with some higher Galactic Power friends will help.
JOIN AN ACTIVE GUILD and PARTICIPATE!! Even if you barely are able to make a dent in the raid bosses, participate anyways. It may not be much in the way of rewards, but you'll be getting rewards. There are some pieces of gear that can only be gotten from the raids.
What about the current meta?
Forget the meta for now. It's not important. More than likely, you're below 85 and/or aren't in any shape to be chasing after the #1 spot in the arena. The important part now is to get your account and inventory straightened out. The meta can wait.
What about other legendary characters?
For now, focus on the ones here: Palpatine, Thrawn, R2D2, CLS, GMY, and ultimately Chewbacca & BB8. The others will come in time.
What do I do after I get this done?
Enjoy the game and go on to your next project. This guide is to help you get started. Look up Warrior's pillar system video and Ahnaldt101's farming videos on Youtube. You'll find that this guide will set you up through the first couple pillars of Warrior's system, and take you through the first part of Ahnald's system as well. Utilize swgoh.gg. It will help as well.
What about ships?
If you're following this guide, you'll be getting access to certain ships also, such as Vader's tie, KRU's tie, the Ghost, Slave 1, IG 2000, and others. Also, you'll be able to form a solid fleet simply from what you can farm in the Fleet Store.
How much will I need to spend to get this all going?
If you're patient, Nothing. This is intended to be a Free to Play guide. If you want to hurry things up, more power to you, but I'd advise against it for now. At most, get crystals to be used for replenishing energy. Limit how many of the random lottery 5-330 shard packs you purchase. The crystals will be far more valuable for replenishing energy while farming.
Why are you so sure this will get my account straightened out?
Because I've done it myself. I have 3 accounts. Two at level 85, and one at level 55. The first account, I learned what “NOT” to do. The second account, I learned how to do it “Right” and “Fix” my first account. This third account, I'm putting my own advice into practice.
What will I do with these teams after I'm all caught up with the Meta?
Use them! My first solid team with good synergy was a classic rebel team with Old Ben, Lando, Biggs, Wedge, and Princess Leia. I used that team on my first account for a long time until Bastila was released. I didn't farm the other teams listed above until later. I still use this team in Grand Arena/TW/TB, except I switch out Old Ben for Stormtrooper Han. I still use my phoenix team as well and my empire team. I use my First Order team every time my guild runs a rancor raid.
Any last parting thoughts or bits of wisdom?
Be patient. Don't be afraid to ask for advice on the forums. Don't forget to mod your characters.
Special thanks to Warrior, Ahnaldt101, CubsfanHan, Mobile Gamer, and the veteran players here for helping all of us who were just starting or just returning.