Comparing idle income

What’s up with Egypt? I know their president is in deep caca right now, but is that any excuse to get rid of the Egypt content that’s only been out a week? That’s pretty quick, even for ngmoco:).

It’s not like any of the content was politically sensitive. No references to Moslems or Coptic Christians. It seems pretty tame to me.

Nor were they clear about which content they’re removing today. Is it just the Cleopatra’s palace and Pharaoh’s temple or is it all of the new content? Even though I’m not doing anything with it now, I bought lots of palm trees, oases and sand. Then I decided to keep the oases for now because they do make money.

I had planned to convert my east kingdom to something Mediterranean but I wanted the weather to warm up a little. So I bought stuff just for storage until then. Which is probably what they’re counting on.

These are the new oases. They deliver a high number of coins and xp per hour. Or do they? We’ll consider that below.

Click image to see full size

In the past I’ve said they need sand tiles. Cool that we got them. Maybe in the fall we’ll get fallen leaf tiles and autumn colored trees like the maples in We City.

New levels to come?

I am so pleased that ngmoco:) has added 20 additional levels with buildings to We Rule since I started playing. The black dragon at L50 will allow them to add more high level buildings in the void between L40 and L50.

In the meantime, I find myself thinking ahead to L60. We have a purple, red and black dragon. Now we need a fire breathing dragon. It can’t be that hard. The comic characters in We City control their flights with bursts of fire.

What would be really cool would be a building that bursts into flames when the fire breathing dragon flies over.

We’ve discussed churches or cathedrals in the past, and I also think a gothic cathedral would be a great addition to the game, as tall if not taller then the three castles. It could have a vat of boiling lead on top that tips over and spills every once in a while. Quasimodo could be the character.

And while we’re at it, why does We City get Stonehenge when We Rule doesn’t? I think we should get Stonehenge and maybe even Avebury and The Ring of Brodgar, complete with a sacrificial altar, druids and forest gods. Hell, let’s bring in Asgard and the ring cycle and add Gladsheim, Vingólf and the Well of Urd. Toss in some Valkyries and we’re good to go.

In fact, as long as we’re doing Egypt, let’s add Lake Victoria and the Nile. Let’s do the Mayan and Aztec monuments as well. Then we can change the game’s name to We World Geography. We could then add Angkor Wat and Angkor Tom. And the Parthenon and Coliseum, not to mention a Labyrinth with a minotaur. How about grape groves with a dancing Dionysus?

Please, however, please please, no aliens or space ships. Or cartoon superheroes. We could use a sea monster for the lakes, as that would be far more appropriate to We Rule than We City, but no aliens, space ships or superheroes.

There are still so many real medieval items left that ngmoco:) really doesn’t need to stray off theme. In addition to the cathedral, how about:

  • A round table with a knight?
  • A goblin’s cave?
  • Now that I think of it, Asgard items are a lot closer to a medieval motif than some of the other stuff (especially since we have Vikings). Let’s have those. (So are the henges. We really could add two or three of those.)
  • A gallows?
  • A wood-block press shop to print broadsheets?
  • A monastery with monks?
  • A convent with nuns?
  • The tower of the Holy Grail?
  • An ogre’s lair? Disney can sue you for using Shrek but not generic ogres.
  • A brothel?
  • Shrines with relics?
  • A dungeon?
  • A torture chamber?
  • A haunted forest?
  • Sherwood forest tree with Robin Hood?
  • Pixie Hollows with real fairies this time?

Oh, yes, and finally: Wouldn’t it be great if ngmoco:) added inventory capabilities to all of their games? And more islands to Adventure Bay?

Idle income

The oases are the newest addition to the idle income producing products, joining the groves, founts and troll bridges. The founts and bridges are buildings technically, but they really don’t return enough to customers to make them worth ordering.

(I’m stressing the last bit because people still keep ordering my trolls when I have black dragons, Olympus mounts, chimeras and chateaus in other realms. This puzzles me. Players are free to order anything in my kingdom, and I am loath to be like the salesmen who steer customers to higher end products, but in this case the higher end products are worth more. Not only that, they cost players nothing—unlike Trade Nations where players have to pay for their purchases.)

So I thought I’d crunch the numbers to see which of the idle-income properties are most valuable. I’m including space taken into account because if a property returns four times as much income but takes up five times as much space, you might want to go with the smaller items.

Compare the grove and oases areas. Both are stacked, but a lot more groves can be stacked into the same area.

Click image to see full size
Item Cost Lvl Hrs c c/Hr Xp Xp/Hr Space
Orange 3000 15 6 5 0.8 50 8.3 1
Ruby 10000 23 6 100 16.7 85 14.2 1
Diamond 100000 27 6 150 25.0 105 17.5 1
Oasis* 100000 0 12 320 26.7 515 42.9 4
Sleigh† 7000 4 1 0.3 100 25.0
Fount 90000 18 6 125 20.8 240 40.0 1
Troll Bridge 70000 14 8 15 1.8 175 21.8 .5

It’s hard to say which of the income generating properties make the most sense. On an hourly basis the oasis outperforms the ruby grove three to one in experience and slightly more than 50 percent better in coins. It outperforms the diamond by 2.5 times in xp and only has a slight advantage in coins. The oasis ouperforms thefount by 25 percent in coins and only a fraction in experience.

Here’s where other considerations come into play.

You can fit approximatley four founts or groves into the space of one oasis The numbers will even out the more you plant.. When I try to stack them, I can fit even more groves into the same space and slighly fewer founts. The founts are slightly cheaper and the ruby groves cost ten percent as much (10000 v 100000c).

For high level players, with coins to burn, I would say it’s pretty much a wash. Make use of them all. But if you’re building your kingdom and pushing to reach L30 (and even 40), go with the rubies. The combined cost reduction and return for space make them a far better bargain. Drop an oasis in if you want the decoration (the first one’s free for finishing the quest), You will actually get a higher return in approximately the same space for about 40 percent of the cost.

This assumes, of course, that ngmoco:) doesn’t discontinue the Egypt quest as well.

Big announcement tomorrow

Actually, I have a couple of announcements tomorrow, including a project I’m doing with the help of Acehound. I’m calling it the February project (that’s the code name) for reasons you’ll see then.

*First oasis free with quest.

Contact me at Email iPad Envy, or
Email The Hidden Grimoire.

The no mojo approach to leveling up

First of all, let me apologize to fans about the math in Friday’s special update. I intended to say 100,000 coins every four hours (approximate, of course, 112,000 if I really used my calculator or spreadsheet). Then once I typed it wrong, the wrong number got locked in my head and I somehow projected it to 400,000 for four hours.

Carol would have caught this in proofreading, but I post the special editions without proofreading because I want to get them up and hate to ask Carol for yet another favor.

It’s been fixed now. Thanks for all the comments trying to keep me honest.

I stand by my original statement that the black dragons are twice as big as the red and purple dragons. I did discover later, however, that black dragons exist in two states—the large, puffy state and the smaller wing flapping state. This could just be a bad entry in the code scaling the one graphic.

As the screenshots indicate, the black dragons are twice as big as the others, at least before they take off. Once they flap their wings, however, they seem to shrink. Not quite Shroedinger’s cat, but they do seem to exist in a similar dual state.

Click image to see full size

No mojo kingdoms

Two players have stepped up to the plate recently to prove you can build successful kingdoms without mojo. One, Fendora, commented this weekend that he is only a day or so away from level 50. Fishnships has been running a thread on the Mojo Farm to keep players abreast of their community approach to kingdom building.

Both reflect different approaches to overall kingdom design as well. Fendora has focused on increasing his experience through shops and groves. Fishnships has chosen to build a kingdom that reflects the communal vision of a real community.

I really want to point out that Fendora has chosen to focus on installing two types of high-yield shops. His main kingdom exclusively features chateau’s and Olympus mounts, with a commitment to double down on the chateaus. I know some players may be skeptical of this approach, fearing that customers will want a wider variety of shops, but his shops seem full.

Fendora’s kingdom was built with no mojo purchases. It took him awhile but he’s a step away from L50

Click image to see full size

I wouldn’t be surprised if he starts swapping these out with black dragons as he earns more coins.

His other strategy has been to stack groves within the published limits. You will notice the ruby stacks which are consistent from kingdom to kingdom. I haven’t counted them but I’m betting they’re very close to the 192 grove limit that has been bandied about by readers and fans at different sites.

This also limits his kingdom’s overall growth but it also demonstrates how players can move up in the standings with just groves and high-yield buildings.

Fishnships poses some grammatical problems when it comes to writing and editing this issue. The entity Fishnships is singular but since the activity behind it is collaborative, the reference could also be considered plural. So Carol and I had a long discussion on verb/noun agreement and whether or not the pronoun reference should be “it” or “they.”

Fishnships is a collaborative kingdom with a lot of fans. Fishnships’ emphasis is more on design, but they’ve still reach L50 with no mojo

Click image to see full size

The players in Fishnships keep track of just about every move and change on the players’ thread comment thread. Fishnships isn’t a single player, but a community effort to build a collaborative kingdom. Not only do they keep readers posted on their progress, they recommend the shops with the highest yield (although the black dragon has moved to the top of the list).1

Fishnships has also managed to build to L50 without stacking or even a heavy emphasis on groves, which is also pretty amazing.

Click image to see full size

Both kingdoms will probably forego upgrading to the regal castle to add a few black dragon lairs to their kingdoms first. This is something else to consider when building yours. Install the money making elements first, and the decorative elements next.

I know that many players want to avoid spending money for mojo, and these kingdoms prove it can be done. I try to keep players abreast of ways to play and spend as little money as possible. If you feel tempted to speed up your kingdom, but have an extremely tight budget, use these guys as your inspiration.

1By the way, did you notice how we dodged the plurality problems?back

Contact me at Email iPad Envy, or
Email The Hidden Grimoire.

Special Edition: We Rule Goes Black

If you read this blog, you play and if you play you already know about the upgrade (unless your boss is a real bastard and kept you at work late on Friday so you couldn’t play). Level 50 comes with a new Regal Palace.

In the comments I posted a pic (okay, it was really a joke) claiming that it really would be a sapphire palace as I (sort of) predicted, but I had to Photoshop the levels to really brighten the picture.

The new regal palace installed. It must be night, because the lights seem to be on. Carol, is reluctant to upgrade when she hits L50 (which should be soon) because she still believes the current castle is the color of the UT Longhorns. Had they not gone 5-7 this year, she probably wouldn’t be considering the upgrade at all.

Click image to see full size

But it could be argued that the tiling isn’t black, it’s dark sapphire blue. So I was sort of correct. Okay, I was wrong about everything but the fact that L50 and a new castle would be released. But it’s out, along with the next blockbuster building the Black Dragon.

Which is really black, by the way. It even sells a total eclipse.

I guess the black dragons are so big they eclipse the sun. This screenshot is from my iPhone, taken when I was ordering to get the numbers for the analysis update. That retina display is awesome.

Click image to see full size

The Friday upgrades are so much more exciting than the series finale of Medium, which also happened today and made the series finale of Lost seem satisfying in retrospect. I didn’t mind the Six Feet Under with spirits finish, it was the totally stupid (and foreseeable) dream plot that led up to it. In case you recorded it, I won’t spoil the ending, but it will become pretty obvious as soon as Joe’s phone call is disconnected.

Back to the blog.

The Black Dragon delivers 3500 combined points in 24 hours, making it the best customer and vendor deal now. Even better, it takes up even less space than the red dragon, and tucks together better even without stacking. You can fit three black dragons in only a little more space than it took for two red dragons. The dragons themselves are twice the size of the red dragons and really suck the light out of the graphic display.

The black dragons are pretty big, almost twice the size of the red and purple dragons. They don’t glow blue like they do on the splash screen.

Click image to see full size

That may be why they saved it for L50. I wouldn’t be surprised if all those Olympus mounts filling the top 25 kingdoms will be replaced this week. If I were really playing for the top of the leader board, I would install 30 in my main kingdom. I’m not, but I have definitely scattered quite a few around.

The new regal castle and black dragons really change the visual composition of your kingdom. But they should draw customers as soon as they open for business.

Click image to see full size

They cost just under a million coins, or 55 mojo. That’s three times the coin price of the red dragon, but only five more mojo. It also installs for 5 mojo for constriction time, so that’s one of the best mojo deals around. Players who have just reached L50, and not yet flush with cash might want to spring for the mojo to add a couple more than the cash purchases they’re planning.

Customer’s should also be aware that it takes 20m to accelerate the delivery, so unless the vendor has a lot of money to blow on mojo they will probably not speed up delivery.

It might also make more economic sense to hold off on upgrading your castle since the cost is the same as a black dragon. I would seriously consider installing at least two black dragons before upgrading your castle.

The vintage chateaus, chimera’s temples and Olympus mounts all filled with orders pretty quickly, and mine are filling up as soon as my other orders deliver.

As for the new crops, the mushrooms deliver a thousand coins per hour (and 125 xp), which is an incredible return. If you can afford to revisit your kingdom every hour and want to earn coins for your black dragons without sacrificing experience, I would plant them. (The venus fly traps deliver better experience points, 250 per half hour but they wilt almost immediately.)

By L50, however, you should have 28 farms and that equates to 100,000c every four hours. This will make a dent in the price of the black dragon over a few days. If you intend to speed up crop delivery with mojo, however, just spring for the dragon itself. You will spend fewer mojo.

The mushrooms can build up your cash reserves quickly. They are definitely not hallucinogenic.

The new garlic isn’t a stellar performer. I am testing endurance to see if it lasts longer than the sunflowers.

Click image to see full size

The garlic doesn’t seem to be good for much of anything at that level. There are much better producing crops further down the levels. Maybe We Rule will add a Pizzaria that needs the garlic to produce (taking their cue from Trade Nations). I’m testing it to see if it’s more hardy than the sunflowers or birds of paradise.

Contact me at Email iPad Envy, or
Email The Hidden Grimoire.

How much are you really spending?

I just want to remind new players desperate for friends that We Rule Friend Finder is a good resource for developing your friends list. Jason Ledtke, the developer, asks for donations (which WordPress doesn’t like) so please support his work. You are also more likely to attract players looking for newer names on the list.

I’ve added the link permanently to the menu (toward the bottom) in case you lose your bookmark. Jason has also been kind enough to link his site to mine.

Game gossip

At last, a week where the developers didn’t dump new items on us two or three days in a week. I don’t know about you, but having to decide what would be a good purchase for three, or even four items a week was getting to be a pain. Sadly, today they came up with the troll so we may be back on schedule. The new troll, who looks more like a rabbit than a troll, gives you 3800 xp on installation, and delivers a high hourly yield with a low total yield (210). It makes a nice decoration and fits right in the space occupied by a river tile so it doesn’t eat up any more room in your kingdom. But seriously, the troll looks more like a destitute Harvey than a troll.

I think I saw this troll in a Jimmy Stewart movie, a least a painting of the troll because the real troll was invisible. Only it’s not a troll, it’s a pooka. But he wasn’t this destitute in the movie.
This is not a troll

Based on what I’ve seen in We City and We Farm, however, I get the feeling that it won’t be long before ngmoco:) finally releases L50 and a new castle. My prediction? A diamond citadel.

However, if ngmoco:) wants to stretch the leveling process out (which I think they will) to include another 30 or more levels, they might want to introduce emeralds and sapphires in the meantime. They could add emerald and sapphire roads as well.

I’m also betting we will see new crops, and hopefully a two week durable crop to allow players to walk away from the game for a couple of weeks.

It may seem like this would go against ngmoco:)’s interest, but it’s possible that players might engage if they knew they could walk away for several days without losing everything.

Speaking of We City, I have to ask if the game has finally jumped the shark. A sea monster? Really? I could tolerate the aliens in We Farm because rednecks really do believe in aliens and alien abductions. But a sea monster in We City? For 45 mojo? What were you guys thinking?

Weird screenshot of the week: Do you get the feeling there’s some bad code or a bad link to the database? This has been popping up since late last week.
Where did my grapes go?

New wish list items: more squares.

I also have a new item for the wish list: Large squares of gold, rubies (and sand/road color) similar to the large lake, snow and bridge tiles. I don’t know about you, but when I build over roads it becomes a pain to rearrange items later. I have to move as many as six roads out of the way (or simply sell them) to grab hold of a building. Having large tiles would make it easier to redecorate.

Please, however, please don’t charge mojo for them.

And while we’re on the subject of mojo…

Calculating mojo cost

A number of players were really upset that ngmoco:) was charging three dollars for the Wyvern’s forge when they released it. And three dollars for a game object does seem excessive. Especially compared to the Viking Ship which is only one dollar and still delivers a high return.

ngmoco:) reduced the price to one dollar, just for the weekend, so that should have allowed players a chance to add a couple without too much pause for complaint. Nonetheless, the price will go up again.

The question that remains is whether or not ngmoco:) will continue to release cash only objects now that everything can be moved in and out of inventory. Since the inventory option was the prime reason to pay cash, I can imagine that players will be reluctant to buy for cash in the future.

It’s possible that cash sales were so disappointing, ngmoco:) may drop them. But if enough people proved willing to cough up cash during the experiment, I can’t imagine that they won’t look for a new wrinkle so they can charge.

If they do, it will probably be as an alternative to purchasing buildings, or (and I can see the marketing, bean counting brains at work on this already) they will offer the really high return buildings for mojo or real dollars. The thinking here may be that players will spend mojo because they think it will be cheaper than the cash purchase.

A couple of weeks ago I commented somewhere that the three dollar purchase price of the wyvern forge was probably cheaper than paying 50 mojo unless players bought mojo by the cask for one hundred a pop.

It dawned on me that it would be useful for players to actually have a cost breakdown for the real cost of mojo based on the amount of mojo purchased. So this week I’ve created a chart comparing the cost of mojo in real dollars based on the size of the purchase.

I’ll move it to the pages section in a couple of weeks, but I’m putting it in the main blog so you’ll know it’s here.

Item #Mojo Price Unit Price 25% discount 20% discount
Cask 2000 $99.99 $0.05 $0.04 $0.04
Vintage 800 $49.99 $0.06 $0.05 $0.05
Case 300 $29.99 $0.10 $0.07 $0.08
Carafe 165 $19.99 $0.12 $0.09 $0.10
Bottle 75 $9.99 $0.13 $0.10 $0.11
Flask 30 $4.99 $0.17 $0.12 $0.13
Vial 5 $0.99 $0.20 $0.15 $0.16

Purchase Prices*

50 mojo 35 mojo 30 mojo 25 mojo 20 mojo 15 mojo
$2.50 $1.75 $1.50 $1.25 $1.00 $0.75
$3.12 $2.19 $1.87 $1.56 $1.25 $0.94
$5.00 $3.50 $3.00 $2.50 $2.00 $1.50
$6.06 $4.24 $3.63 $3.03 $2.42 $1.82
$6.66 $4.66 $4.00 $3.33 $2.66 $2.00
$8.32 $5.82 $4.99 $4.16 $3.33 $2.50
$9.90 $6.93 $5.94 $4.95 $3.96 $2.97
*Based on non-discounted mojo cost

The advantages of bulk installations

Several players have written comments or emailed me to ask my advice on the best buildings to buy for their kingdoms to get ahead. Before I answer that question I usually drop by to see what they’re doing.

One thing I’ve noticed is that novice players (and even experienced players) prefer to invest in one of each building rather than concentrating on multiple copies of the more lucrative buildings.

You can build an attractive kingdom and still focus on adding multiple copies of the more lucrative buildings. This layout is available by L6. Spend six dollars for three ice sculptor’s abodes and you will be able to attract repeat business. I didn’t add the abodes because I didn’t want to spend the money just to do this illustration.
Click image to see full size

I understand the reticence. Until you really study the leading players its easy to follow the model of the players you order from every day. When players do stumble onto kingdoms that concentrate shops, it’s easy to think they’re the players making the wrong move.

There are a couple of other reasons I can imagine.
A game is rarely defined by its rules. Those are merely the stepping stones for players to develop strategic responses. These responses include making the rules and guidelines work to their advantage, often in ways the games’ designers never intended. It takes a lot of practice for players to see the difference between strategic and ordinary moves.

Another reason is that players follow the game’s achievements lists, which basically take players through a basic set of moves for building their kingdoms. What many players never consider is this: You can take the achievements on at your own schedule. You can earn the coins and experience first, then fill in the shops for the achievements lists later.

Players begin to make moves up the leader board when they realize they don’t have to build their kingdoms based on the buildings available at each level. The real goal is to reach the level where they can purchase the buildings with the best return.

Unfortunately, I think a number of players are afraid to install six or seven mines or ponds—even though the return per cost is better than many of the shops at higher levels—because they are afraid they will lose their money.

Players also seem to be extremely reluctant to sell back shops because they think it will cost them. They fail to understand a basic business principal that applies to this game: You have to spend coins to earn coins (and more experience).

Now that you can move buildings back to inventory, you shouldn’t have that fear anymore. When you finally reach a level where you need to install multiples of a better shop, you can move the older shops into inventory and put them in another realm later.

You should also remember, however, that every new shop you install also earns a lot of experience points up front. Items in inventory don’t add additional experience points. You will do even better to sell those old buildings off and add new buildings for the experience points.

Attracting customers

The number one reason why you should concentrate on multiples of the best shops rather than one of every shop is to attract customers. Players who want to move up in the game want the best return for their visit. If they know that your shop will have six viking ships and six medusa’s lairs that means they will have a better chance of finding a good shop than a kingdom with one of everything.

If you doubt this, think it through yourself. A young player orders from you so you return the order to keep her business. The player has several friends already and only ten different shops. Almost always the only open shops will be the mine and the lumberyard.

You return as soon as you get the notice that she returned your order, but the others remain filled. The odds are likely that you will not be able to place better orders, and the ones you can place just don’t return enough to make coming back again and again worth your while.

Another lower level player has four ice sculptor’s abodes, four cemeteries and four tailor shops in her kingdom. Which kingdom do you think is more likely to provide a higher paying return for your visit? Yes, this is a rhetorical question but even rhetorical questions have value when they remind you of what should be obvious.

Customers will go to the kingdoms with the better payoffs.

If you’re still not convinced, visit the leaders (and the leaders among your friends, whom you can also access from the leader board). You can look for two things:

  • How many copies of the better shops do they have?
  • What are customers ordering?

Most of the game leaders not only have tons of ruby groves, they also tend to concentrate their kingdoms on three or four shops. And these shops are almost always full.

The second question is probably more illuminating. In my experience, orders will always flock to the high value shops with only the occasional order being placed with the occasional lower valued shops placed for decoration or balance. The higher-return shops always get better traffic than the lower return shops.

Still pretty

I think young players may also be concerned that their kingdoms should have one of every kind of shop because they will look better. This isn’t necessarily true, at least later on as they reach higher levels and more decorative objects become available.

Great designers frequently repeat elements to create distinctive patterns and looks (and I will talk about this in the future). With thoughtful placement you can make a beautiful kingdom out of nothing but ponds, tailor shops, pine trees and roads.

If you don’t have multiples of one or more shops, but you do have some customers who drop by regularly, try an experiment for me. Invest in three of the most profitable shops available at your level before you add anything else. Make sure they really have a good total point and hourly payout.

If the customers gravitate toward the three shops, add another. You should find that the four copies of the same shop are always full and your other shops aren’t. This should be all the convincing you need.

If not, move the extras into inventory to use when you add new realms, and go back to the old way.

Update 01/04/11


We Rule’s upgrade is complete. You can now move items into inventory, even the roads (which seems like overkill, but who’s complaining?)

This also means that you can keep any items you have that have been discontinued should you want to move them. Want to get rid of a couple of fairy trees until you can find a use for them? You can now.

But you have to download the upgrade first.

Thanks to the new inventory capability I can move this fairy tree. In the past that wouldn’t be possible because they have been removed from available products.
Click image to see full size

Reviewing investment strategies for the new year.

If I have one New Year’s resolution this year, it’s stop playing every online game. There’s just too damn many of them, and—as many of you know—they hook you with a formula that you already love or you wouldn’t have downloaded the free trial.

I’ve gone from a half hour every few hours to being sucked into playing hours at a time. I find it really tough because I review these games for iPad Envy. I have to give them enough playtime to make an honest evaluation and then I discover I’ve invested all this time getting my island, city, restaurant, farm, smurf hideaway, cat rooms or fish tanks set up and, damned if I don’t want to hold onto the little fiefdom I’ve built online again.

But I have to. Sorry Mi Mi, Buster and Velvet, my touch pet kitties. But Teddy Bear and Jenny Manytoes and Coco Puff, my real cats, deserve my attention and nothing hurts Teddy Bear’s feelings more than being told he can’t sit on my shoulder and purr because it interferes with harvesting coins from couches.

We Farm will probably be the next to go. I mean, honestly, aliens, polar bears, llamas and NASCAR? Farmville? It’s definitely on the chopping block. After all, who really wants their names posted all over Facebook for making level 12 in Farmville. The Smurfs? Already gone. They were cute, but how many cherry cakes can you bake before you run out of interest?

Adventure Bay looked really interesting, but I made it to Level 30 in two weeks (without blowing a lot of money on spice) and I’m not sure I want to wait around stacking jungles for a couple of months until they add another five levels and a new island. The game has a lot to make it really attractive and it it’s at my top of the list of new iOS social networking games. You can order, help players sail on expeditions as well as sail on your own, and you can also hunt for treasure.

The point of the game is to have fun.

That’s the point of all these games.

We Rule is still fun for me, but I notice a lot of the players I used to trade with have abandoned their kingdoms. So it’s luster seems to wane for some. The good news is, this means you can move up the leader boards as they fall off.

But this is my message for the New Year. Play it while it’s fun, and when it stops being fun, (or your spouse checks you into social game spenders anonymous) find something more fun.

Honestly, however, We Rule remains the standard for iOS social networking games.

If you read this blog because you actually like the writing, I will be posting somewhere even after you move on.

Quick Thoughts

Last seasonal decoration tour

If you’re still looking for a few seasonal decorations to enjoy, one reader suggested zenxacred’s east realm, and I finally got tired of working decorations around the layout in my west realm and redid just about everything.

Zenxacred went for the kingdom of darkness encroaching on Christmas approach. I didn’t see this before the Christmas posting, so I’m including it now. Thanks to reader Superknight98 for the tip.

Click image to see full size
After postponing the inevitable, I finally gave in and completely redid my west realm to reflect the season. Notice the stacked sleighs toward the bottom of the window. It didn’t dawn on me that I should do this until the night before ngmoco:) removed them from the game.

Click image to see full size

While I was redesigning I also noticed a new character, which brings me to my next quick topic.

ID alert

We have another new character I can’t identify. Since he’s holding the block of ice in his hand, I suspect he’s the ice sculptor. But the original release illustration showed the house without a character to accompany it. So I could be wrong.

Who is this guy? He just showed up in my east realm the other night. I’ve never seen him before. Any thoughts?

Click image to see full size

New content not downloading

Has anyone experienced a message that you need to relaunch the app so new content can download only to have the same old content download? This happened to me today for the second time in a month and it got me to thinking.

Recently a reader asked me to evaluate the sleighs in the comments and I didn’t know what he was talking about. Two days later, sleighs showed up in my content.

Is it possible that some players get items before others. Or is there a problem with iOS4 that blocks new content from downloading right away. I know this seems wierd, but if anybody actually got new content today, please let me know.

Investment Bets

Players continue to wonder what the best investment strategies are: groves, buildings or (the now defunct) sleighs. Should we pay real cash for buildings? Shouldn’t we consider the investment costs when making purchases?

The answers will always depend on the player and what you hope to accomplish from the game. But let me sum up some of the thoughts I’ve posted over the last few months:

  • It’s better to invest on items that will return on a regular basis—especially both coins and experience. Wait until you have a lot of spare cash before blowing it on a lot of decorations with a one time experience return.
  • Don’t worry about the up-front investment cost. The items with the better returns will pay for themselves over time. The buildings with the best return for you are the ones with the best returns for your customers. The more you buy, the more they will come to shop (provided you build your network).
  • The more you spend the more you make, provided you spend wisely. So don’t be afraid to buy.

I have changed my mind about total points. I think they’re as important as hourly return. But I try to balance both. For instance, the 650 points for the Falconry is still a high performer compared to others, but since it takes 72 hours to earn them I still think players are better off placing an order with something that pays off fewer points far more quickly.

On the other hand, total points earned is far more important for items that return in less than a day. Most players will accept and turn around overnight orders that process in the same day, but no quicker.

I still think groves are the best of the regular return investments, especially the ruby groves. Poseidon’s Founts also have a good return, but they take longer to earn the money to invest (90K verses 10K). Until you have built up a large fortune, the groves will get you where you want to go faster for less money.

This doesn’t go against my argument about ignoring the cost of buildings. Players don’t shop at groves, they cash in every six hours. I wouldn’t spend 350000 coins for a building that only returns 20c and 15xp an hour, but an expensive building that pays off 2000 points to players in a couple of days will bring customers back to your kingdom, especially if you have several of them.

I missed the boat on the sleighs because of the Christmas holidays and my thoughts were elsewhere. For most of the season I thought they were cute but for 7500 for only 100xp return I felt they were pricey. Then on the last night of the season it dawned on me that since I had lots of coins to spend (and more groves than I could make room for already), they made sense for a player in my position. They also take up almost no space, can be stacked side-by-side without being difficult to tap for harvest.

Thank goodness, they stop coming with reindeer after the third one. Other wise I would have a reindeer infestation.

The sleighs may be gone for now, but they will be back next year and something similar will probably show up in the meantime.

I consider these a luxury investment. If you have stacked your kingdom full of rubies and you have a couple million coins to invest, founts will pay off more in the long run as will the next version of the sleigh they release. But players below L40 usually need cash, and rubies still provide the best return for the investment dollar.

Should you buy buildings?

I would say, yes for the viking. Maybe for the Wyvern’s Forge. Probably not for the castles unless you want to decorate with them (and players who have been to my kingdom know I do).

I know they’re costly. Three dollars for the wyvern’s forge is a lot, but unless you buy mojo in the 2000m cask, three dollars is still cheaper than the cash equivalent of the 50 mojo they would have charged otherwise. And the fewer mojo you buy at a time, the more expensive the cash cost will be.

And remember, you can shuttle them between realms. If you need to remove the other shops to make room for something new, you have to lose them for good.

But let’s return to the Wyvern’s forge. It offers the second highest hourly payout and the fourth highest total payout. If I were a player at L26 who couldn’t order the prestigious chimera, red dragon or chateau, I would have to consider making the investment. If, on the other hand, I were an L40 player with tremendous coin reserves but not a lot in my real bank account, I would go with the big ticket items that require coins.

Personally, I wished they would give players the choice of paying with cash or coins. Personally, I wish they would allow us to move everything back into inventory the way other games do.

Most of all I wish those forges weren’t so butt ugly. They remind me of the trailer house parked next to the gorgeous mansions of Olympus.

Contact me at Email iPad Envy, or
Email The Hidden Grimoire.