I've watched this post grow over the last few days, it twists and turns from it's original topic to beating high level bases and even has a POV history lesson thrown in for good measure!
I have been about since day one, that is day one on android, which was a little while coming after iOS, (but before windows). The days when 3aTTaBi was the top dog, MasterE, NikkoEsq, MiSchreiber and numerous others, were all yet to make their mark and the travesty that is alliances had yet to arrive to help push the money making machine that is FG to the depths it currently stoops. The game has always been in one way or another pay to win, in the beginning though you didn't need to take out a small mortgage to be able to be competitive. Create alliances, introduce peer pressure and team rivalry then sit back and watch the cash flow in!!
Back to the topic, in terms of VL or any other alliance levelling up quickly, it is irrelevant. The few alliances that they fight with, will, in the short to medium term get there too, if the members of VL are happy to invest their money in such a way it really is up to them, as has been stated the team decided to do it, you can't make a team NOT donate if they want to. Though I am no great fan of the additional levels or the way the game is heading I must give Kudos to VL for pulling together so strongly so quickly.
What also needs to be taken into account is how/why or why these 'rich' alliances can afford to level so fast. Success breeds success is one element, also investors tend to go where other investors are, if you put £100 a week into RR but no one else in your ally puts anything in, you end up with an alliance that isn't going anywhere fast and often a bunch of parasites that are just there for the ride. Guys who invest, in general, will be attracted to alliances where there are other guys that are also willing to invest, hence you end up with 'rich' alliances who have numerous benefactors’. Even so there will be numerous others who can't donate as much in physical money, but can make up for it in organising, finding new recruits, PR work (Cromka's forte) maybe some of these are also more talented players that can win every raid. The real secret though is to create a team, a team that will fight for one another, do what it takes to win and not fight with each other
What Cromka says about weaker alliances being able to beat VL is in part true, I have seen it, NA did it, through very good use of tactics and the willingness of every member to scroll to beat a base if required. Sadly it isn't as easy to do now, Skull perks have taken that option out of the equation, My guess, and it is a guess, is that VL, Apoc and RL and some others have a full team of members with skull perks in excess of 32%+, I don't think many, if any, non top 10 teams can boast that. Hence in a war with VL even if every member of a lower ranked team scrolled hard against their bases and won every raid, the alliance would still end up shy of skulls and have wasted their gems, so why fight!
Barring a bit of clever tactical use of loser bonus the reality is skull perk in effect wins every time, take the most useless of raiders with a huge (34%+) skull perk and the willingness to scroll as much as is needed to 100% win, multiply that by 65 and you have a winning team, even if they leave their bases open throughout the season, note the lack of the word skill, it is irrelevant. Sad, but it’s a fact!
I know it’s been a bit longwinded and gone off on the odd tangent, but what I guess I am really trying to say is, don't take any notice of what other alliances invest in, alliance level aren't the issue the only important investment you can make as a team is in all of your skull perk items, gel your team as a TEAM and have plenty of gems ready to scroll with if you want to play at the top, if you are not willing to do that, let the top be the top without criticising.
P.S. On a personal note I’d really would like to see that sodding VL Max level wolf beast neutered.