Has the character well run dry?

I don’t know if you’ve noticed but fewer and fewer buildings are coming with characters. We had five martial guilds introduced this week and not a single warlike character.

In the past we would have had women with bows for the sisterhood of archers, turbaned characters with daggers for the assassins’ cartel and a new wizard for the wizards’ college. Maybe another knight or Viking berserker for the warrior’s clan. This time, nothing.

I could see it for the plant buildings last week. What could they have come up with? Fly traps on four legs? Or flies swarming the fly trap? Dancing sunflowers?

There may be some good reasons for the scarcity. It’s possible that with the new retina display, the number of pixels in play make animation eat into the processor. Or bad reasons, like, perhaps, ngmoco:) let the animators go during the cash crunch.

In the past, players would request new buildings. Maybe we should request new characters instead. How about a phantom marauder swinging a ghostly battle axe? A sabertooth tiger? A crone with a cane that points and zaps? A wise man with a camel might be cool, wearing robes and a cone hat like in Bartholomew Cubbins and the Oobleck. How about an Anglican priest and Pontificating Pope? Or maybe we could get the entire Borgia family in honor of the Showtime series.

Hopefully we won’t reach a time when we’ll stop installing new buildings because we don’t want to lose the few characters we have left.

Have they given us a gryphon yet? An adult, not the baby? How about leviathan? Maybe a replica nautilus, the submarine, floating on top of a lake tile.

Advertisements

Spooks and ghosts and goblins. Oh, my!

The Halloween design contest is on. So far as I can tell from the ngmoco:) blog site all you need to do is design one realm with Halloween and other spooky items from your inventory.
The deadline is Nov. 1 at 1o am PST, so get to work.

ngmoco:) has already returned last year’s Halloween items to the store in addition to some cool new ones. The candy cottage is supposed to come with a witch, but I haven’t seen her yet. If you haven’t either, don’t panic because it took a while for the ghost girl from the haunted house to show up last year.

The Haunted Hollow comes with two characters, the headless horseman and his head. For fans who remember Calvin and Hobbes, the head looks like it might be Calvin under his ghost robe running around looking for someone to trick.

The headless horseman and head come with the haunted hollow. It’s a treat to get two characters with the same building.

If you like anything, get it now because it will disappear soon after Halloween ends to make way for the Christmas/Hanukah, and, hopefully, maybe even a couple of Thanksgiving items like a Turkey pen. Last year I was hoping for a burning yule log but we didn’t get one. Let’s hope we’ll see one this year to burn in front of the Green Knight’s chair.

There is no reason not to start laying some items out to get a sense of your theme. You might even want to sketch a few ideas first so you don’t spend hours redesigning. And I certainly hope this doesn’t preempt the Grimoire’s second annual holiday contest coming up this winter.

I don’t know if there will be a Halloween design leaderboard, but ngmoco:) promises to send 30 mojo to players who enter. Don’t forget your basilisks and giant spiders. Maybe add some goblin fences.

There’s nothing wrong with blocking out your Halloween design now so you can tweak it during next week’s event. Start placing items for a general layout and leave room for a couple of items because there’s a good chance we will be catching spooks and will want to add the event rewards. You can fill in the trees and tiny details later.

New event coming?

The gift cart disappears on Tuesday. That’s usually a sign that a new event is coming. Since it’s Halloween, there’s a good chance we could be catching ghosts and goblins for some spooky cool items.

Zimidar suggested that you refresh your friends list during the event to make sure you send captured creatures to active players:

Best way to use this list of friends for Events is to refresh Social Map. On the iPad click twice and list will be refreshed. For the iPhone/iPod, to refresh social map is a two step process. First click Social Map and then go to Plus+ menu and close out of Plus+ (keep in mind, you are not closing out of WR app).

This refresh process to share does work for Events. The friends that are not active anymore will appear but after you have shared with active friends that appear on the Social Map. Best to delete inactive friends and add them back later if needed.

Oops

Janet Webster wrote to say her initials are JEW, hence the unfortunate choice of name “jewdog.”

Since we know that ngmoco:) doesn’t allow players to change plus+ IDs she will continue to use the name, but now we can congratulate a real person, Janet E. Webster, for winning the Merry Men event.

Dobbie doesn’t know these elves

Important notice! I’m taking a few weeks off the main blog to pull together and update the best pieces and organize them into The Hidden Grimoire for release on iBooks to give readers a more convenient access to the essentials of the game.

I will continue to run the numbers and post them as usual, so I won’t be abandoning you, just not doing the weekly blog. I’ll be back around September 12.


Harry Porter, Hermione Granger and Ron Weezley1 found themselves in the kingdom of totalthinker with no idea how they arrived. Harry adjusted his glasses and scratched the phantom lighting bolt on his head that still seemed to pain him long after his last battle with Volderwort. “How did we get here again?” he asked, casting an impatient glance at Ron who had his nose buried in the want ads.

“Someone said there were new magical abodes in this kingdom and the prices have to be lower than the real estate prices around Hogwarts.”

Hermione slipped her arm through Ron’s and said, “Now that our twelfth redhead is on the way we need a larger house.” She put her free hand on her belly, a belly Harry imagined was now covered with stretch marks like a the paint patterns on a Jackson Pollock painting. He was so glad he married Jenny, who it seemed, did not share the Weezley proclivity to breed like flying bunnies.

After giving birth to Minerva Pamono Trelawney Porter, their third beautiful but non-magical child, Jenny cast a vasectomy spell while Harry was sleeping, just in case he he had his own Weezley moment and got cold feet at the muggle doctor’s. Which was fine with Harry. Royalties were down on his autobiography because Volderwort was a distant memory. Even his own kids shouted, “Dad, get over it. The time of dinosaurs has passed,” if the name ever came up at the dinner table.

“I don’t know,” Harry said. “This neighborhood looks a little wrong.” He swept his arm to indicate the orange trees and green and gold houses and the vast fields of orange grass. “Where are the giant spiders and the hippogriffs? Where are the magical abodes you came looking for? This looks more like the condominium nightmare of a game designer who dropped one tab too many of orange sunshine.”

This was the new subdivision Ron and Hermione visited to look for a bigger house. Everything in sight was green or orange and the trees all looked like homecoming mums.

“Those are in the southeast realm with the magical theme,” said a voice from behind them.

They turned to see a green creature that looked like a half human, half wart hog with a crown of tusks, a ram’s head staff and a purple kilt. He bowed before them. “Allow me to introduce myself. I am the goblin king, but since the Republicans took control of the house and no’d the economy back into a mudslide I’ve had to double as a real estate agent.”

“How’s that going?” Ron asked.

“I’m just glad I’m a character in this game, and not someone on the outside.”

Ever since he identified himself Hermione had been shaking her head violently. “You’re no goblin. I know goblins and they’re gray and sit behind desks and look down their noses at you because you don’t have any of the money they’re guarding in the vaults.”

“I do,” Harry said.

Hermione cast him a glare that Ron knew well. It meant I will make your life so miserable you will wish you stayed at home playing with your spells and never dated. And since Hermione couldn’t punish Harry herself, she would insist that Ron stop going over to Harry’s to watch the Manchester United Quidditch matches on his 70 inch high def TV. Which was really a punishment for Ron since it was the only evening of the week he got away from the kids.

Unlike Hermione, he sympathized with the goblin king. The damn Republicans had even slashed the budget to the ministry of magic as a “job creating measure,” and as a consequence Ron and his brothers were all laid off and his father’s pension slashed in half. Now Hermione was the sole bread winner and she never let him forget that either.

“Those are Hogwarts goblins, our distant cousins. They spend too much time indoors and lose all their color. Besides, people don’t know bank goblins get paid worse than anybody else so they have to sell their green skin pigment to the Federal Reserve to print money.”

“What’s the big deal, Hermione,” Harry asked. “You’re all about equal rights for magical creatures.” Ron cringed inside. Harry didn’t have to back down to Hermione because he didn’t have to live with her. It was hard to imagine she had been so agreeable, and so hot, back in school. When the upper classmen tweeted those nipslip photos of her at the beach, she’d been furious, but he’d been proud because that was his girl.

They wouldn’t be tweeting any pictures now.

“We need to move into a larger house,” Ron said. “We have eleven at home and this one. We’re living in my parents house and they had half as many kids.”

“Whose fault is that?” Hermione challenged. “Some of us do work for a living.”

The goblin king/real estate agent (GKREA) quickly beckoned for them to follow him, clearly a seasoned veteran at dealing with home buyer bickering. “This is our newest subdivision, the elven estates. We may have exactly what you need. All of the homes are modular and can be arranged to house four families, or one family of sixteen.”

As they followed the GKREA up the quartz steps they passed a siamese cat holding a sign that read: “More symeze catz, not black ones.”

Ron leaped back. “Holy muggles. How many claws does that cat have?”

“Thirty-five at last count,” the GKREA said, “but she’s actually from another blog. That’s Jenny Manytoes. She was upset that there were no cats in the kingdom, then someone pointed out that they were all black and hid well. So now she’s trying to save face by demanding siamese cats.”

A beautiful female creature with pale skin and pointed ears floated by, her feet about six inches above the grass. “What kind of creature is that?” Hermione demanded.

“An elf, of course,” said the GKREA. “I told you this was the elven realm.”

Ron and Harry could both see it coming. “That’s not an elf. An elf is short and dumpy and almost as gray as a goblin. What kind of place are you running here?”

Harry said to Ron, under his breath, “You’d think with all those thousands of books she read she would have stumbled across Lord of the Rings.”

“That was before she discovered the real magic weed in wizardry grad school,” Ron whispered back. “Hundreds of ‘study sessions’ and twelve kids later there isn’t too much space left in the memory banks.”

Both shut up immediately when they noticed Hermione’s glare was withering the orange grass at their feet.

The GKREA brought them to a courtyard filled with green, gold and glass houses. The sharp angles and arced roofs reminded Harry of lazy Bauhaus architecture. “I would sign up now,” he said. “The price is lower because of the rolling brownouts the developers created with this newest series of designs. Sometimes the kingdom disappears entirely several times a day. And elf houses are sturdy but they feel flimsy on account of elf materials being mostly air.”

A black dragon swooped at them and he beat it off with his ram’s staff. “Bloody buggers,” he swore. “They used to be the most rare and precious creatures in the kingdom. Now they’re as common as pigeons.”

He noticed all three staring and said, “Well, go on. They don’t breathe fire or anything. They just beg for food and petting.” He segued back into his sales pitch with nary a pause. “People can’t even place orders at the creekside properties, they just get a blank page or the order won’t process. We’re supposed to get a Pegasus Aviary and Assembly Hall, but the king has tried the gift shop several times and just ended up with another dozen giant spider webs.” He shuddered. “Who wants those?”

“How much for one of the corner residences?” Ron asked.

“Ron, don’t you think we should take some time to consider?” Hermione asked, in her casual stern threatening way. The bullying way that all positively cheerful girls develop when they reach middle age and discover other people still have minds of their own.

The GKREA jumped in ahead of her. “Better act quickly,” he said. “Unlike Hogwarts, things in this kingdom tend to go away entirely in a couple of weeks. If you wait, you may get stuck with sub Saharan mud huts or vampire mausoleums.”

“Can you loan us a couple of hundred thousand quid then, Harry?” Ron asked.

“Why call it a loan?” Harry answered. “It’s not as though you ever pay anything back.”

“We take mojo,” the GKREA said. “It’s the only real currency in play around here. And after the house Republicans tanked the economy by playing chicken with the debt deal, the mojo beats the pound or the dollar any day.”


1Even though the actual character names should be in the public domain, regardless of the status of the books and movies, I couldn’t afford to take the chance that JK Rowling might be as litigious as Disney.back


Get your design mojo on

and throw stacking out the window

We’ve gone from the peaks of Asgard to the molten depths in the last couple of weeks, and ngmoco:) really escalated the cash stakes since just about every high level building is 800k or higher.

They’re still 40-55 mojo though, about the same as shops that used to cost 100k. So clearly the push remains on spending real money to advance.

Even the wisdom trees are expensive at 160k and they generate almost no coins to help replenish the coffers. Fortunately ngmoco:) rethought the Poseidon founts and brought them back as a cheaper alternative.

In the meantime, as many readers know, ngmoco:) added a new design showcase to the leader boards. I’ve looked through their public blogs for any information on how they select the leaders (or assign design points), especially since they don’t seem to list my design points or those of my friends.

I found blogs explaining other leader boards but I couldn’t even find the design showcase image that showed up in the news tab. So I can’t really tell you how they decide or how burblegort moved from third to first on the board.

Personally, I think he belongs there, right along with jewingy, but many of the other designs were similar to kingdoms I’ve seen that didn’t make it. From what I saw, however, I sensed a few trends:

  • They love terracing. Many of the kingdoms experimented with creating a 3D terraced, or cliff-face approach, which may have been inspired by burblegort’s water falls (or he may have been inspired by someone else. I definitely remember stealing ideas from players (including Jolpet and ricknabby).

    Burblegort and jewingy are in first and second place on the design showcase leader board. They specialize in terracing, or creating dimensional layers. This is burblegort’s main realm and the bottom sample is from mockamore

  • If players don’t terrace, whoever is judging seems to like grids and patterns, with the grid boundaries created by decorative objects like flowers and trees.
  • They don’t like stacking, particularly grove stacking. I found a couple of exceptions, mostly with buildings. Jewingy created a heart with stacked rubies, which could be argued is a forgivable exception.

    Jewingy is one of the couple of design leaders accepted with stacking in his kingdom, but this example required stacking groves to make the heart. I think they let him off the hook. There may be another example with stacked groves (I didn’t look through every realm in every kingdom), but they seemed to be absent in the realms I checked.

If you want your crack at the leader board for design, these should provide you with a couple of starting points. For players who stacked everything, I certainly wouldn’t suggest tearing those groves and rows out, at least until ngmoco:) publishes the design guidelines on their blog. But if you think you have the design chops, start planning.

Update: Thanks to confuzed1 we have an answer to this from Joe Wagner the Mojo Farm site: ““We’re going to rotate a list of 10 players on that board at random intervals, so if you don’t see your name on there, or see it and it disappears you know what’s going on now. I’m also working on figuring out a way to best accept your nominations for this new leaderboard.” Evidently the numbers are meaningless and currently the nominations are internal. You can find more info in comments,

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.

We Rule Design Contest

I have two announcements today:

First, I will be taking a month away from blog Monday entries. I will return on Monday March 7 (which is actually only four entries missed).

I will still be updating the site with new building information on the day they are released, with a new analysis each Thursday. And if there’s something I really need to tell you, I will.

But I’m presenting at an international conference on religion and spirituality in society (who would have thought from this blog?) and I need to focus on finishing the slides and travel.

But that’s not the big news.

Readers may be aware that there’s still a lot of uncertainty about the status of stacking (or sliding) in We Rule kingdoms. Some players report locks on new ruby groves. I have also received emails about random scans counting the number of groves in player kingdoms.

ngmoco:)’s official position, at least in their correspondence with me, is that they haven’t been removing groves. But I haven’t received any promises that this will continue to happen. So Acehound has done a number of experiments designed to allow players to maximize the use of sliding while remaining under the radar.

This guy knows his stuff. I’ve posted screenshots of his amazingly well-designed pre-purge wall-to-wall stacks in the past. And this brings me to today’s announcement, the first We Rule: The Hidden Grimoire

We Rule design contest

Players can enter any of three categories:

  1. Theme design for a realm. Players should devote one realm to a specific theme (winter, Santaland, mediterranean, evil dead).
  2. Best use of building repetition. It can’t just be trees, rivers, roads and walls. Players have to build a symmetrical or assymetrical pattern using one to three buildings. They can use decorative objects and additional buildings to compliment the pattern or design.
  3. Most creative stacked object. It can be groves, sleighs or even (good luck on this) oases, but it should be something that returns income.

The prizes

Each winner will:

  • Have their realm presented with a screen shot on this site.
  • Receive a PDF file with Acehound’s stacking secrets. This is stuff I’ve never published on this site, and never will.
  • Be gratified that they have been recognized above the three+ million other players for their efforts.

We will also display screenshots of any other kingdoms we feel have merit. So even if you don’t care about learning Acehound’s secrets to stacking (although I can’t imagine anybody that wouldn’t want the secret just in case), you still have plenty of reason to submit.

Contest rules

  • Entries must be emailed by midnight CST February 27, 2011
  • Players can enter more than one category, but not with the same realm.
  • Players can only win in one category (they don’t need two copies of the PDF brief).
  • Themed realms shouldn’t have any objects that don’t compliment the theme.
  • Entrants must email a screen shot of their entry to wrgrimoire@gmail.com and ace_hound@yahoo.ca.
  • Entries must include “we rule design contest” in the subject field.
  • Entrants should include their plus+ id so we can look at the kingdom.
  • Entrants should include their name and the name of their theme or stacked object.
  • I reserve the right to disqualify any entry I feel is getting too squirrely with the few rules I’ve laid out. If you submit your entry at least one week before deadline, I will let you know if there’s a problem.
  • Neither Acehound, Carol or I can enter this contest.

So get to it. You have a month to go wild in any realm. That should give you plenty of time to harvest crops, plant groves and earn the coins you need to go wild.

Why wouldn’t my gorgeous realm win the theme category? Because the Medusa and chimera really don’t belong in the winter wonderland. The troll bridge and founts could pass, but definitely not the medusa and chimera.

Click image to see full size

See you in the blog spot in a month, and every Thursday with new shops analysis.


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

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.

Previous Older Entries