Why not join Reboot if you're f2p?
In Normal servers, progression is done via wallet or heavy merching which you can achieve after you have a somewhat good knowledge about the market.
I've seen today a clean Magnus's Rage selling for 250b. That's just stupid. Economy on some worlds is going down the shter.
Some people (like me) don't want to spend a copious amount of time meso farming and prefer to be able to trade and barter with other players. Not denying that quite a few players in regular servers choose a "wallet" based progression method, but being F2P isn't as hard as you make it out to be. Tbh, if OP is a casual player, I'd say playing in a regular server is probably more beneficial as you can spend the time you're playing exploring the content, rather than spending hours on end meso farming on the same map.
Back to topic for OP -
@185, focus on getting to 200 so you can start on 5th Job and Arcane Symbols. They give quite a bit of main stat and will help greatly in improving your range as a F2P. As Arlong has mentioned, Link Skill and Legion characters will also help out a lot.
For cubes without using NX - take advantage of event stores (like the current Nova Coin shop) and your monthly reward point cubes from the cash shop. Other sources include; harvesting legendary ore veins / flowers, daily bosses, pollo frito / inferno den pouch rewards, and crafting (which also gives an added bonus on leveling up your diligence).
Don't get too hung up on trying to get Tyrants ASAP, as without the money to support yourself, you'll find it hard to even get it to 5 star (although if you are in Bera, I think tyrant capes are still relatively cheap atm and worth getting). Nothing wrong with using the pensalir cape and shoes in the interim as you can always resell later for some meso (I'm assuming you have dimension gloves from DIPQ already - if not, get them ASAP). If you haven't already, start working towards getting your gollux accessories and the scrolls to go with it (use the boss accessory set in the mean time).
As for increasing your range - don't rush when it comes to improving your equips. Take advantage of Fever Chance events to help trace your initial set with 70%'s (excl. gollux equips). Also use epot scrolls from legion store / event coin stores / pollo frito / monster collection / eboss to get all your equips to epic potential. You can then use occult cubes (you get a ton from monster collection) to cube for 6-9% main stat. Personally, by doing those two steps, I ended up with a range of about 450-500k as an NL. Although, not too impressive, it is enough for you to comfortably fight most mid-game bosses and train / farm reasonably well. Afterwards, just work on one equip at a time with cubes getting it to unique (9-12% main stat) [Currently on this step myself as a primarily F2P!].
Is it just me or was Maple working fine after the Patch on the 7th of Sept, but then Nexon broke it again when they did the unscheduled maintenance on the 8th? Seems like every time they perform "backend" changes to mitigate lag and dc issues, it introduces more problems than it solves.
Issues since the Maintenance on the 8th - Lag when using skills (up to 15-20 seconds before buffs are cast) - see EDIT 2
DC when entering cash shop, auction house or when changing channels
DC when changing characters
I'm playing on Khroa, so the next Unscheduled World Maintenance (10th Sept.) won't help with the issues.
Ended up hitting a C++ runtime error and followed the instructions here: https://support-maplestory.nexon.net/hc/en-us/articles/115001169426-Runtime-Error
Seemed to also fix the lag when using buffs so that's a bonus!
I already had Microsoft Visual C++ 2015 Redistributable Update 3 (vc_redist.x86.exe) installed, but realised my version was a bit different to the version that was up for download, so I just uninstalled mine and reinstalled after downloading the one from the website.