At Town Hall 9 in Clash of Clans, the recommended order in which to build and upgrade buildings shifts dramatically. While previous upgrade orders tended to focus on improving offensive strength as a main objective and defensive strength as a secondary objective, this is no longer the case at Town Hall 9.
The reason for this change is two-fold. First, many upgrades and new structures available at Town Hall 9 are very expensive. A lot of times you will be better of just getting what you can afford in order to keep your builders active rather than attempting to save resources for the “best” upgrade.
The second reason for changing upgrade priorities is due to the fact that at Town Hall 9, you will be attacked by much stronger armies and players than at Town Hall 8. High level TH9 and TH10 players will attack you with high regularity (even with an exposed Town Hall) if you get close to the resource cap (which only requires about 3 million gold/elixir or ~20,000 Dark Elixir). Given that most upgrades cost more than the resource cap, you get hit hard all the time if your defense is not up to par.
TH9 High Priority Task List
As mentioned above, this is a rough guideline for how to upgrade your base at Town Hall 9. Based on resource constraints, you may need to move out of order when upgrading or pause briefly while you gather additional resources.
Builder 1. Laboratory –> Spell Factory
The first builder should start upgrading the Laboratory as a top priority. The most important upgrade to start as soon is this finishes is Barbarian level 6. It is not only cheaper than many of the other upgrades, but it also results in a solid increase in the Barbarian’s stats. Given that the best way to farm at early TH9 is via Barbarians and Archers, getting level 6 Barbarians quickly is very useful.
You may need to undertake a few raids in between starting the research on Barbarians level 6 and starting the upgrade on the Spell Factory given the high Elixir cost of both items. If there is something small you can upgrade in between (such as one of the new towers), go ahead and stick it in here in order to keep your builders occupied.
Builder 2. New Walls –> New X-Bow #1 –> New X-Bow #2
The second builder should add the 25 new walls available at Town Hall 9 and then start constructing an X-Bow. If you did not come into Town Hall 9 with a lot of resources saved (which you should have), it may take a little time to start this X-Bow. As soon as the first X-Bow finishes, you should have been able to save enough gold to not only start the second X-Bow, but also upgrade the new walls to level 5 (which is good enough for now).
Builder 3. Archer Queen –> Dark Elixir Drill –> Army Camp Upgrades –> Task #7.
Ideally, you came into Town Hall 9 with enough Dark Elixir saved to buy an Archer Queen. If not, you can skip starting with the Archer Queen and just add it when you get the 40,000 Dark Elixir you need.
With Builder #3, we are going to start building the Dark Elixir Drill. Not only is Dark Elixir a very tight resource at Town Hall 9, but you should have some extra Elixir coming into Town Hall 9 (since the only other starting Elixir-Based building is the Laboratory).
This builder should then focus on upgrading the 4 existing Army Camps. No other builders will be used for Army Camps (even though Army Camps are important) because you will need to save your Elixir for research at the Laboratory.
As soon as you finish upgrading all of your Army Camps, have this builder jump to Task #7 on the priority list, regardless of how far you have proceeded on the previous tasks.
Builder 4 & 5. New Archer Tower –> New Air Defense Tower –> New Wizard Tower –> New Gold & Elixir Storage –> Switch Base Set-Up –> Upgrade Storage Structures –> New Hidden Tesla
Some players will have 4 builders at TH9, some players will have 5 builders. It depends how many achievements you worked on and how diligently you saved your gems up until this point. Whether you have 4 or 5 builders, it does not matter too much, as these builders will work through these upgrades in order, whether it is with one builder or two.
Start by adding all three new towers (aside from the Hidden Tesla tower). Next, add the new Gold Storage and Elixir Storage building. This whole process should not take very long (less than a day). After placing these two new storage structures, you can swap your defense to an appropriate Town Hall 9 base.
Once you are sitting on a good TH9 base layout, you can then upgrade your storage structures to level 11 and add the new Hidden Tesla tower.
Second Priority Tasks at Town Hall 9
Once builders finish their tasks above, they can start working through these second priority tasks in order. If you do not farm aggressively, you likely are going to have builders resting at some point. Many building upgrades cost 4,000,000+ gold, while maxing out Dark Elixir Drills and completing high end research can cost as much as 6,000,000 Elixir per upgrade.
This list below highlights a rough order of importance. You may want or even need to skip around based on the amount of resources you have and your builder timings.
Note that if you ever have enough Dark Elixir to upgrade the Archer Queen or Barbarian King, you should make that your next upgrade. Sitting on 20,000+ Dark Elixir at Town Hall 9 is a good way to get raided by a high-level army.
Task 1. Complete Early Tower Upgrades
As a first task after completing the high priority upgrades, work on getting your new Archer Tower, Air Defense tower, and Wizard Tower up to a respectable level. Taking them up to the Town Hall 7 or 8 cap is about right before we move on from here (level 9-10 for the Archer Tower, level 5-6 for the Air Defense tower, and level 5-6 for the Wizard Tower).
Task 2. Upgrade Air Defense Towers One At A Time
Air Defense towers take a long time to upgrade and upgrading more than one at a time leaves you very vulnerable to attacks. You can upgrade one tower at a time without significantly impairing your air defense. With the introduction of the Lava Hound and popularity of Balloonion attacks at Town Hall 9, upgrading your Air Defense is a fairly high priority.
Task 3. Upgrade Mortars One at a Time
Just like with the Air Defense tower, upgrading the Mortar results in a large increase in defensive capabilities, but upgrading more than one at a time leaves you susceptible to attacks. Mortars are also a fairly cheap upgrade for Town Hall 9, costing just 3.2 million gold to take from level 6 to level 7.
Task 4. Upgrade Clan Castle
By about this time in your progress through Town Hall 9, you likely will be able to take out tough enough opponents in Clan Wars that you will need to upgrade your Clan Castle by necessity in order to hold more loot. Increasing the unit capacity of this structure also offers a nice offensive and defensive boost.
While the Clan Castle is an important upgrade, it is also difficult to save 5,000,000 gold if you have a weak defense, so the upgrade priority for this building was placed a little lower than it otherwise might be on this task list. If you are a dedicated player and play enough to attack several times in a row, you may be able to get the Clan Castle earlier. If you can save up the gold, go ahead and move this task to priority 3.
Task 5. Upgrade Wizard Towers One at a Time
Much like the Mortar, upgrading the Wizard Tower results in a large increase in defensive strength. However, upgrading the Wizard Tower costs more gold than the Mortar, so it is easier to upgrade the Mortar first.
Upgrade Wizard Towers one at a time. If you are upgrading too many Wizard Towers, you will be susceptible to both Barbarian/Archer and Minion-based attacks.
Task 6. Upgrade X-Bows One at a Time
While the X-Bow itself does not do a massive amount of damage, its very long range and capacity to hit air and ground units means that in the average raid it will contribute more to your overall damage than any other single-target tower (Cannons, Archer Towers, and Hidden Teslas).
X-Bows provide a solid amount of anti-air defense, so hopefully you will be finished upgrading your Air Defense towers (or at least have 2 Air Defense towers at level 7) by the time you reach this step. X-Bows are particularly good at handling Minions, which can otherwise overwhelm Air Defense towers.
Task 7. Assign One Builder to Upgrade Dark Elixir Drills, Dark Barracks, and Dark Elixir Storage
Upon upgrading all of your Army Camps to level 7, the builder assigned to formerly assigned to upgrading the Army Camps should begin focusing on other Elixir-based upgrades. It is good to permanently assign one builder to Elixir-based buildings in order to prevent Elixir from getting building up too high. Much of your Elixir will go towards research, but if you are farming enough to support all the other tower upgrades on this list, you should have spare Elixir for these tasks.
The highest priority structure to upgrade at this point would be the Dark Elixir Drill. Getting this upgraded fairly early on in the Town Hall 9 lifecycle will pay dividends. A level 6 Dark Elixir drill produces 2,400 Dark Elixir a day; two of them will produce 4,800 a day! That is 33,600 Dark Elixir a week and nearly 150k Dark Elixir per month. This means several (early) Hero levels per month just from Dark Elixir Drill production.
Once the Dark Elixir Drills are maxed, have this builder focus on upgrading the Dark Barracks. This will give you access to both the Witch and Lava Hound. Both units may prove interesting at this mid-way point through Town Hall 9 as you can use them as part of a War army composition to 3-star other TH9 players.
While you are not likely to approach the Dark Elixir cap, it is useful to upgrade this storage structure to reduce the amount of Dark Elixir stolen via zapping (Lightning Spells). Upgrading the DE storage increases the health of this structure and hence reduces the effectiveness of zapping.
If your Elixir is still building up too much even with research and this builder spending it on structure upgrades, you can always spend spare Elixir on Wall upgrades.
Task 7. Upgrade Archer Towers, Cannons, and Hidden Tesla Towers
Odds are you will reach this step while some of your builders are still stuck on previous steps. You will have one builder still working on the Dark Barracks, another builder still working on X-Bows, and possibly a third builder still working on Wizard Towers. The fourth and fifth builders can then start to work on upgrading the Archer Towers, Cannons, and Hidden Tesla towers to their new maximum level.
The order in which you upgrade these structures is not terribly important. Instead, you should focus on the amount of time it takes to complete each upgrade. When you are dealing with upgrades that take 6-12 days to complete, it is important to try and stagger your builders so that a builder is available for dumping resources (either on walls or hero upgrades) every 2 days.
For example, if you have 5 builders, and the first 3 builders have 2 days, 4 days, and 6 days left on their current assignments, the last thing you would want to do would be to upgrade the Archer Tower from level 10 to level 11. This upgrade finishes in 6 days, meaning that the builder assigned to this task would finish its task at the exact same time as a previously assigned builder. Instead, you would want to upgrade a Cannon (5 day build time) with builder #4 and, if you have a 5th builder, assign it to a very long upgrade (Hidden Tesla).
Due to the advantages of staggering your builders in this manner, there is no hard set priority when it comes to upgrade order between Cannons, Archer Towers, and Hidden Teslas.
Task 8. Research, Upgrading Heroes and Walls
Even after you finish all of your tower upgrades at Town Hall 9, it can be useful to hang out at TH9 for awhile before going up to Town Hall 10. You should focus primarily on farming Dark Elixir so that you can upgrade your heroes and complete Dark Barracks research, while spare gold and Elixir can be used to upgrade walls.
There is a limit to how long you should stay at Town Hall 9 however. You do not want to sit around and max out all your walls or even try to upgrade your heroes to their maximum level. Instead, once you complete all the research available to you at TH9, it is time to move on to the next level. Hopefully you will have both of your heroes to level 20 by the time all of your research is finished. Even if they are both only level 15, that should be adequate. If your heroes are lower than level 15 each, I would hang out at TH9 for awhile and try to push them to a higher level.
As a general rule, once you have nothing left to upgrade at the Laboratory and all of your buildings (aside from walls) are at the max level, it is time to upgrade to the next Town Hall level. Even if most of your walls are level 7 or 8, go for TH10. There is no point sitting at TH9 with 5 builders idle and nothing to research while you gather resources for walls. It is better to move up where it will be easier to get Dark Elixir so that you can focus on something that will really improve your raiding strength (extra hero levels, new tiers of research, larger Army Camps, new tower levels, etc).