Easter egg hunt

Bunnies, bunnies everywhere. Not at first, mind you, each realm starts with two, but before long there is a bunny infestation.

The bunnies are gone by now, but they were ngmoco:)’s nod to Easter. Not the religious, Jesus rising from the dead Easter that I plugged in my new blog Righteous Indigestion yesterday, but the spring solstice Easter with bunnies and bunny eggs, peeps and candy, that probably sits more comfortably with ngmoco:)’s Japanese parent company DeNA.

The bunnies were impossible to capture mid jump even when they multiplied like crazy. But when they did jump, their ears wiggled like helicopter blades.

I’d originally intended to post a special blog yesterday because a source had written me that ngmoco:) would include a special Easter egg in the game just for Easter weekend. I have been waiting the entire month of April so I could spring the surprise.

According to my source, if I stacked to black dragons together and dragged them on top of the black castle while simultaneously planting six grapes, six garlics and leaving the other farms empty, with the exception of one magic farm which would need to be planted with strawberries, then the giant golden dragon would tap dance on top of the dark castle, my name would appear at the top of the experience points leaderboard for fifteen minutes (to make sure I had time to take a screen shot even if the game crashed six or seven times, which it did) and I would win a million xp.

I tried this six or seven time without success. I realized, at this point, that I had exchanged my black castle for the new lopsided one. So I pulled up the original email to send a reply asking if the castle made a difference and that’s when I noticed the sending date.

It seems while I’d been congratulating myself for my success with my own April Fools prank, He Rules, I allowed someone to punk me.

So there was no special Easter edition of the Grimoire, but there were dozens of bunnies in my realms.

And new wisdom groves.

Wisdom groves

I’m not sure who thought these up. At first I thought it was stupid to have trees growing books, and then I realized they might as well grow books as well as rubies, diamonds and sapphires. But they will probably look pretty surrounding a druid’s library.

They deliver 540xp every six hours (or about 90 per hour) which is a decent return, but almost no coins to speak of. And since they cost 160000c you will never earn your money back.

The wisdom groves look strange even when surrounding a library. But they may have been created to remind of an age, before the Kindle and iBooks, when people read from paper. Now that I think of it, however, real medieval manuscripts, even when bound, were often much larger than this and they didn’t grow on trees.

They may also be ngmoco:)’s subtle response to players asking them to stop requiring mojo for high-yield groves. These groves are so expensive that few L31 players will be able to afford them (or L40 players either).

Are they worth investing in? I swing back and forth. They’re very easy to stack and harvest, but ten will set you back a huge chunk of change. Personally, I think of these as a luxury investment for players who generate so much cash they can afford to piss it away.

On the other hand, I ran the numbers. If you fill a realm with wisdom groves (192) and faithfully harvest every six hours you will earn 400000xp a day. That can push you up the leader board quickly. But remember, you get almost no coins back, so make sure you have enough income generating properties to make sure you can quickly recharge your account after blowing several million on ten or twenty of these.

We Rule birthers unite

I’ve set the blog back to iPad view because readers now have the option of viewing the standard site by clicking on the “standard site” link at the bottom of the page. In the meantime, however, if you’ve noticed the site displays only in text format, so have I and I have contacted WordPress support to see what the problem is.

Important Announcement! My new blog Righteous Indigestion officially launches May 21 and I’ve already posted a preview issue. This is important because, as you may or may not know, May 21 will be the first day of the end of the world. If you don’t know you really should read the preview post because Jesus will be putting an end to We Rule and just about everything else we hold dear (except, of course, Jesus).

Readers may not be aware, but the bill recently passed by the Arizona legislature requiring Presidential candidates to show their real, genuine, bona fide birth certificates (which means “Obama need not apply”) contains a rider requiring players who want to rule their own We Rule kingdoms must also prove their citizenship to play with the U.S.The bill’s sponsor, State Rep Carl Seel, says the bill isn’t intended to have anything to do with the fact that the We Rule king isn’t white and could possibly be a monkey. But it should be noted that the queen, who is clearly a white female, is exempt from the requirements. So you decide.

The We Rule king may claim to be native born, but some would question whether he’s even human. Now the Arizona legislature needs proof.

I should also say I already submitted my birth certificate from St. Paul, MN, and was told I needn’t worry since my name didn’t sound “Black, Latiner or Moslim (sic).” So I’m good to go. The question is, are you?The game focus has shifted from Africa to the Middle East with Turkish palaces, walls, gates and camels (the quest reward). One of the quest items is the Poseidon fount, which may be a punishment for stackers because it’s hard to see the customer order balloon when the founts are stacked closely together. Hopefully ngmoco:) will add a few more items, like a mosque, but only after they fix the bugs in the game.Speaking of which, evidently ngmoco:) has come up with a new upgrade that apparently fixes all the bugs and crashes.

Crash fix finally available

That’s right, I’ve heard from several readers who have already purchased the upgrade. It’s called iPad 2. For a mere $599 you to can have We Rule running with no hitches whatsoever. Kingdoms and realms will actually load in real time even if you have thousands of stacked items. And the price is cheap compared to the price of mojo. Just think, if you were to buy the mojo cask every month for six months, you would have paid just as much as a brand new iPad 2.This, of course, is all that any developer needs to fix their problems: wait for a hardware upgrade. So I recommend that you stop buying mojo and save for an iPad 2. Maybe ngmoco:) will get the message and release the bug fix for the rest of us.

Happy gifting

How’s this for a surprise? ngmoco:) told Edgar (no last name provided) that he had received this cool gift (see picture). He checked his inventory and that’s exactly what he got. Next thing you know, ngmoco:) will be running for public office.Providing they have their birth certificates.

Not only was there no gift in the picture, the was no gift at all.

Get Satisfaction

I suppose mojo sales must have been down this week because ngmoco:) announced new improved gifting. So I checked it out and the only improvement I found was a button that allows us to directly return a gift to the sender. Do you get a lot more gold gifts for your fifty mojo? Not that I could tell.

Some readers have questioned the value of the gifts in the comments section and others love them because of the cool gold and ruby items. Here’s how I see it: The gifts are a lottery. Sometimes somebody will win a half million experience points and jump a level. More often than not, you’ll get a thousand xp or something you already have like a barn.

Even the gold items are a toss up. I’ve blown a lot of mojo testing this for readers and in my experience your chances of getting a gold item are close to one per 75 mojo spent. They’re pretty, but the return is far lower than some of the big ticket items you can get for 40 to 50 mojo.

On top of that, the chances are greater that you’ll get a gold item you already have the more mojo you spend. You could end up with three gold taverns and watchtowers and still not get the gold item you really want. Think of 50 mojo as the price of a scratch off ticket. Or the price of a box of cereal if they still do box tops and trinkets.

Can I take my castle back?

If you have the dark castle, check out the new castle in my kingdom or others before you upgrade at L55. The design is cool, but the color is the same as the original castles—blah blue. Maybe they’re planning on upgrading this one to ruby, orange and dark (or hopefully sapphire or emerald) but for now I want my dark castle back.

It would be even nicer if they remembered that I already bought this so I don’t have to upgrade twice should I like the next one. Or maybe they can just introduce the dark version of this one for L60 and two million coins.

To see the castle in this weekend’s splash screen (which is by far the best illustration the artists have produced for the game, and I wish they would make it available without all the game crap), you could really want it for your kingdom. Everything’s at wrong angles and the entire effect of the image is Lovecraftian. But once you see the castle in the kingdom, the odd angles ruin the harmony of the art behind the game pieces.

This weekend’s splash screen was their best illustration ever, and the castle looks wonderfully bizarre and Lovecraftian in the frame. If only it looked that good with the game pieces.

Escalating stakes

There seems to be no question that ngmoco:) is escalating the building stakes. The time between big ticket items seems to be weekly or bi-weekly. Just about everything in the top six or seven hourly and total return slots has been introduced since Valentine’s Day.

The Hercules temple, alchemy lab and druid library all came in the last three weeks. The dragon hatchery, which came last week, has the best hourly pay out but only over ten hours. Then after unveiling the alchemy lab on Monday and the library on Thursday (and after I wrapped up my weekly update) they unveiled L60 and the Kraken which delivers 200cp per hour.

ngmoco:) is also driving up the cost of new items for players who want to keep competitive. The kraken costs 975oooc or 55m (the same mojo price as the black dragon) and requires L55 to install.

That being said, the slim differences between the items at the top means that vendors don’t need to rush into purchases. There was a time when I would swap out five big items at a time, but now it makes more sense to me to invest in one or two and wait to see if something better comes along next week. This was my strategy with the alchemist and druid and I was right, one day later they delivered the kraken.

I really, really hope we don’t get a black kraken tomorrow.

What do you want from the game

I decided last week that I got everything I wanted from competition in We Rule. I was able to spend more than a month in the top hundred, and reached 90, and that has been my goal since last July. But with the new realms, other eager players, and constant crashes I was spending more than three hours a day on We Rule alone.

So I decided, let other people have their shot at it. When a game stops being fun it stops being a game. I put all my buildings in We Farm and We City back into inventory, closed out my grills in Restaurant Story and relaxed. I had to sell all my shops in Adventure Bay because they have no inventory.

But I’ve had a lot more time to do other things I forgot I liked.

I’ve always said players can find a number of reasons to play besides trying to get to the top and I stand by that. I finally had time to redo my main kingdom and now I have time to think about what to do with my others. I still check in two or three times a day to process orders and once a day to harvest.

I figured I can start harvesting three times a day again when they introduce level 70 and the dark version of this castle. Or hopefully emerald, sapphire or even gold castles that better match the artistic style of the game.

Can you still compete with the leaders? Absolutely. Billr317, Barblaw and others have catapulted past previous leaders Acehound and Zimidar. They swapped places for the lead at least once over the weekend. Billr317 had almost four hundred million points on Thursday. Three months ago I would have said that’s impossible.

By Saturday Barblaw had four hundred fifty million with Billr317 close behind.

Both are rapidly filling all eight realms, mostly with Poseidon founts and battlements. But they is also stacking some amazing buildings; each has a realm with an entire row of stacked houses of worship (to a big payoff). Nor did they have to do it all with mojo. The more buildings they install, the more coins they generate. And if you ask them, or Acehound or Zimidar if they ever regret reaching number one, I’m sure they’ll all say they don’t regret it in the least.

Fifty million in two days. It took me almost nine months to get there. And if that intimidates you, don’t let it. Because there’s more to the game than moving up the leader boards.

So however you want to get satisfaction, feel free to play. You can play to make art, make friends, or teach yourself high-school level (maybe middle school) economics. But play to have fun. ngmoco:) is escalating the stakes, encouraging players to spend more real money to buy more mojo to build more and more expensive buildings. You can get your money’s worth without spending it all on We Rule.

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

Early edition: We Rule competitor to launch on Easter

It’s a new month, April, so when I got the word on this new game I couldn’t wait until Monday to write about it. I wanted my readers to be the first to get the news. It turns out the We Rule has caught the attention of certain religious groups who have decided to fight back with a social network game for Christians: He Rules.

He Rules will officially release on Easter Sunday, but don’t expect rabbits’ dens or decorated eggs like those on the new Dragon’s nest in We Rule.

My sister Aimee had made me aware that We Rule was coming under fire in certain evangelical circles. Not all evangelicals mind you, just the ones who think Harry Potter books and movies are seducing kids to the dark side. I didn’t take it seriously at the time, but maybe I should have paid attention. From the very beginning We Rule featured wizards, witches on broomsticks, dragons and (worst of all) taverns where teenage players served beer to stumbling patrons wandering off with pots of ale. Then they added Greek gods and when they finally got around to adding a church, it wasn’t a Christian church, it was “a place of worship.”

The final straw was the discovery that We Rule would release a “dragon hatchery” in time for Easter. The dragon hatchery would feature‚Äînot the traditional easter eggs that Jesus hunted for as a child‚Äîbut dragon easter eggs. According to Pastor Bob Gladhand, founder of JCL():) game company, “It’s stepping over the line. It’s bringing evolution into the celebration of Easter.”

If you haven’t seen any publicity for the game announcement, do a search on “he+rules+game” to find it.

Although JCL():) hasn’t posted any screenshots or game videos yet, I was able to piece together a game description from different press releases.

He Rules is definitely a social network game. The game metaphor is a pilgrimage, not a kingdom, and players build religious shrines on their journey to meet Jesus at the cross (Level 40, although there are plans to add extra levels where players can take over an empire and even ascend to heaven). Instead of magic emporiums and wizard towers, players can erect mangers, add pieces of the river Jordan to baptize characters, and even erect a temple. Players also recruit disciples and perform miracles in order to gain the spirituality points they need to advance through the different levels.

Players can connect to other players using a pilgrimage map. As they follow other players’ routes they can leave blessings and request prayers (both of which earn additional spirituality points). According to JCL():) publicity, He Rules will offer young and adult gamers alike the ability to play online and stay on the straight and narrow.

Unlike We Rule, players will not buy magical “mojo” to help them level up more quickly than other players. The JCL():) site insists “players should not be able to buy themselves into God’s grace.” Players can, however, buy “manna” which will allow them to gain spiritual experience and support “future ministry and game development.” In addition, one-tenth of any coins players earn to finance their pilgrimage will be “tithed” back into the game.

JCL():) insists there is nothing commercial or cynical about pitting He Rules head to head with games like Farmville and We Rule. I emailed Gladhand and he insisted that He Rules is just as appropriate as dating sites like Christian Mingle.

My mother is excited about the new game. She’s already concerned that my nephews Steven and Nathan, who aren’t allowed to play We Rule but can play Trade Nations, are showing secular tendencies. But she’s even more negative about Harry Potter than my sister Aimee. She’s already on Aimee’s case to limit what the boys read to Christian books like Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief.