No one really tells you this, but one of the main ways to level up in Warframe is to increase your Mastery Rank, by leveling items – everything from Warframes to Kavats – up to level 30. Mastery Ranks, as much as I’ve complained about them, are a good thing. You get extra space for Standing for Syndicates, the Plains of Eidolon, Simaris and Conclave, you get a loadout slot every few rank ups, you get extra mod space whenever you level a new weapon and you get more space for Void Traces, meaning you can make more relics radiant. Ideally, increasing your Mastery Rank is a good direction to push yourself in.
With every mastery rank you obtain, you need to earn more and more points, which means leveling up more and more items. But leveling up more and more items requires you to have more and more slots. And they cost platinum. And chances are, unless you’re a nerd like me, you won’t have much platinum to start off with (although I do have a small guide for trading here). Ideally, you’ll want to spend your 50 starter platinum on 2 Weapon Slots and 1 Warframe slot. You can also get one extra weapon by using the code FREESWORD in the market, which will give you a Heat Sword.
A leveled up Warframe, Kubrow, Kavat, Sentinel or Archwing gives 6000 mastery (200 per level). A leveled up weapon, Sentinel weapon or Archwing weapon gives 3000 mastery (100 per level). Formaing anything and leveling that up gives 0 mastery. Weapon variants each give separate mastery, so an Ignis and an Ignis Wraith would give 3000 mastery each. (Source, if you’re curious.)
The good news is that you can get to Mastery Rank 3 just by leveling up your Warframe, your starter equipment and one extra weapon. The other good news is that there are a bunch of weapons you can sell as soon as you’ve leveled them up.
Let’s start with your first few items. You’ll start with an Excalibur, Volt or Mag, and an MK1 Paris or MK1 Braton, a MK1 Kunai or a Lato and an MK1 Bo or a Skana. All of those weapons can be either leveled up and immediately sold, except for the Lato, which can be built into the Bolto. So once you’ve leveled up your MK1 Paris or Braton, you can then buy the item you didn’t start off, level that up too and sell that. You can do the same with the MK1 Bo and the Skana, buy the one you didn’t use, level that and sell that too.
You can then buy the NORMAL versions of the MK1 items. You can buy a normal Paris, level it up, sell it and buy a Braton. Then level the Braton and sell that too. Alongside the MK1 Bo, you can get the normal Bo, level that up, sell it, then buy the MK1 Furax, level that up and sell that, then get the normal Furax, level that up and sell that. (Okay, the Furax is a crafting ingredient in something else, but that’s okay since the Furax is cheap to make.) You can then do exactly the same thing with the MK1 Kunai, leveling that up, selling it, buying the normal Kunai and doing the same. There is also the MK1 Furis and the normal Furis. On top of that, there is also the MK1 Strun and normal Strun, which are shotguns. By doing these one or two at a time, you can cleanly cycle through weapons and not have to use any additional weapon slots.
So let’s take a quick breather. By doing that, you have leveled up at least 14 items, giving you 42000 mastery. Which gets you to Mastery Rank 4. Not including your Warframe being leveled up (another 6000 mastery), any junctions you’ve done and any mission nodes you’ve completed. Mastery Rank 5, at 62500 mastery, seems like a long way away, but it isn’t really.
It may seem weird, using only MK1 weapons, but many of these weapons actually do have a small trick up their sleeves – because of their balanced Impact, Puncture and Slash damage, they are surprisingly strong against adapting enemies like Sentients. Which you will probably see in Natah and the Second Dream.
Once you’ve done all of those, you can then go through otherwise mediocre weapons, particularly the ones given as junction rewards or have a mastery rank lower than 5.
But things like the Lato are troublesome. All pre-requistite weapons are a pain.. You need a Lato to build a Bolto, but you need two Boltos to build an AkBolto. That’s 4 slots for one weapon. Honestly, these weapons are best left until later on. There are other, far worse weapons you can build in the mean time. Luckily, this page here covers all of those weapons. Weapons that require multiples are tedious, but you can also get a lot of mastery quite quickly by simply building and leveling up single weapons that are required for other weapons, and then immediately building the new weapons.
Really, the trick to efficient mastery is to level up and REPLACE weapons and frames. Once you get Paris, you don’t need the MK1 Paris any more. The same goes for Warframes and their Primes – why keep Trinity when you can get Trinity Prime (either via trading, relics or the current Twitch Prime deal)? Once you’ve got the Ignis Wraith, you don’t need the Ignis any more (unless you stuck your 5th forma into the Ignis just as the Ignis Wraith was announced like me). Sentinels work well for this, as there are 3 Primed Sentinels (Carrier, Wyrm, Helios) and one Prisma Sentinel (Shade), meaning you can level up and sell the normal variants without too much hassle (although Wyrm Prime is vaulted, so it can be a pain to obtain), only requiring a slot for Taxon, Dethcube, Dirigia and Djinn. And you could probably quite happily sell the latter two or sell the Taxon and rebuild it later if you’re not happy with them.
You need to be careful though, if an item you have and like has a prime variant, they might be locked behind a Mastery Rank. And unfortunately, with the weapon rebalances earlier in 2018, a lot of weapons had their Mastery Ranks requirements changed, making a basic path through weapons difficult.
But what if you’re completely out of slots? Well, there IS a temporary alternative. Completing Junctions will award you with 1000 mastery, and completing missions will give some mastery as well. Once you’ve completed all of that though, you WILL be forced to trade or otherwise get weapon and Warframe slots in order to continue increasing your Mastery Rank.
Don’t forget though, you may not have infinite slots, but you DO have infinite space in your foundry! My most important tip to you: Do not take weapons out of your foundry unless you 100% have the space and time to level them up. Your foundry can hold a gun or Warframe for as long as you want!
Luckily, once you reach MR16, you will have access to everything in the game, and at MR15 you will have access to all weapons and items, aside from a handful of Riven Mods. Heck, just getting to MR10 gets you most of the game. So don’t worry if you can’t get to MR25, or even MR 16 or higher. It’s not that special.