Slow down the push to mojo

The harvest feast is over and Zimidar won with almost 3800 delightful dishes cooked. I think Zimidar should also win the WRFF1 award because he’s been at the top of the leadership boards forever. He must also

  • be independently wealthy,
  • play non-stop 24 hours a day, or
  • have hacked into ngmoco:)’s server and created an unlimited supply of mojo

because he’s outlasted every player in the game and I can’t, for the life of me, imagine how else he does it.

Here are the top three leaders from the Harvest Feast. I thought it was difficult to catch two hundred. Think how hard they worked to collect in the thousands.

Oh, wait. I have a fourth possibility: Zimidar, like fishnships, is actually several different players. We’ve corresponded, and he seems like a really nice guy, but that doesn’t mean he’s a solo act. He may even have cloned himself.No, that stretches the realm of believability.He could also really be a nice guy (or woman who uses a guy’s avatar) who’s just way better than the rest of us. I believed that until this week when Herman Cain destroyed my faith in the myth that there are really nice guys who are just better than the rest of us. Because Herman’s dark underbelly forced him from the race, I had to throw all my Ayn Rand books away. So deep was my crisis of faith. Fortunately, I never read them because I had the Cliff’s Notes, and if you settle for the Cliff’s Notes you’ll never be good enough for Ayn Rand.Speaking of the Harvest Feast, how many of you thought the Mashed Potato dish looked suspiciously like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man? Do you think this might have been a shrewd product placement deal between ngmoco:) and the producers of Ghostbusters III?

Get rid of the butter and add a blue hat, and we have the Stay Puft Marshmallow man. Is this a sign of things to come?

If that’s what happened, can we expect a Ghostbusters event when Akroyd finally finishes the movie? Will we see Stay Puft, Zool, Gozer and a return of the Mashed Potato Man? My crystal ball is cloudy on this one. The fortune tellers fortunes have waned, and her powers diminished.

Mojo burnout

If you read the shop updates, you know the first winter release really pissed me off. The snow fort, which is another super high earner for vendors, can only be purchased with mojo. This follows the grand farm house, which can only be purchased with mojo, Segovia castle, which can only be purchased with mojo, and the necromancer’s lair, which costs $3. Of the six recently released high yield shops, four cost real money or mojo.Only the dragonslayer’s den and thunderbird lair outperform, and those require levels 65 and 68. The dark knight’s haven (L50) delivers a competitive hourly return at 3o0hcp, but a lower yield in comparison. It seems as though ngmoco:) is, in fact, moving toward the trend to offer exclusive items as I predicted earlier. Other games do this, but not with quite the same ruthlessness. Zynga mixes cash items with high-yield items customers can buy with coins. Trade Nations has some incredibly expensive cash only (aka magic bean) purchases, but none of them are for income generating properties. Magic beans buy highly decorative items (and one new realm). Dragonville charges a steep price for dragons, but, as one reader pointed out, players can breed them (although not always successfully).Had the farm and fort not been sandwiched around an event that were very expensive for mojo, I wouldn’t have been quite so taken by surprise. But it usually costs me fifty mojo just to plant, mature and process high level items to run the numbers. If I have to spend as much to get one, it becomes aggravating.Even worse, ngmoco:) announced on the splash sheet that they added new boosted gifts to the carpet but didn’t say what those gifts would be. Players willing to gamble on a lottery at least want to know what they’re gambling for. I don’t know any who would gamble for “an unspecified gift.”

Hey! We can get a boosted gift. Don’t know what it is. Maybe we can find out on their facebook blog (although half the time we can’t). How many people want to gamble real money on “something?” At least after they’ve been burned.

Okay, I do. The guys who buy blu ray players in boxes in gas station parking lots sight unseen. But they think it’s a blu ray player. Even those guys wouldn’t shell out money to someone who says, “Hey, buddy, I have something in this box. Want to buy it for $50?”I haven’t decided whether or not to stop counting numbers on mojo only items. On the one hand it might do a disservice to readers (which is why I always have in the past). On the other hand, it would undermine my own position in the blog that players shouldn’t invest in mojo only shops.The more players invest, the more willing ngmoco:) seems to be to accelerate their release. I also say this because ngmoco:) will simply replace them with an even higher yield item in a week or two. High yield shops deliver only a small boost to experience and revenue unless you invest in bulk. Players want to know there’s a chance they can actually place the order at that shop. To install six or seven shops with mojo costs several hundred mojo (around $30). It makes no sense financially to invest real money in an item that will be gone in a month or two. Especially when you will have to spend more real dollars to buy the mojo to buy the upgraded building.If ngmoco:) isn’t willing to give you a coin based version of the same building, stop buying the building. It’s not as though they won’t collect plenty of money from players buying mojo for gifts and events.

1We Rule Favorite Fan. Or we could go with We Rule Fan Forever.back

Special Dragon Hunt Edition

The We Rule special event is a dragon hunt, not just any dragon hunt but one for six different dragons. You have to plant dragon orchids, lure the dragons and catch them within four hours.

Once you catch six dragons you earn the crystal lair. Catch six more, you earn the crimson lair. But it’s not just any six dragons, you have to catch one (or two) of each of the purple, orange, green, emerald, ruby and crystal dragons.

You get two nets, a free one that may or may not catch dragons (odds are, based on twelve tries and two catches, it won’t) and a magic net that costs 1o mojo (per dragon) that does. In the end, expect to spend about $20+ worth of mojo to complete the quest.

If you want to try the free net, try it on the purple dragons first they seem to be more easily caught than the others. And the more dragons you catch and send to others the more you seem to get in return, which can up your chances. If you don’t want to spend mojo on dragon catching, try to catch as many as you can with the free net now, and wait until the last couple of days for the dragons you don’t catch.

The odds of your actually catching a dragon with the free net are pretty slim, which is why they can charge such a steep premium for the magic net (which you can use once and once only).

If, however, you want to shoot for the crimson lair you need to capture six dragons twice, so I wouldn’t wait. ngmoco:) claims the crimson lair will be the most valuable building ever, (and it probably will be for another three or four weeks. But based on my experience with the game, there will be a building with a higher yield around Thanksgiving if not earlier. The life of highest yield buildings seems to be two to three months.

Expect to see the first building that costs a million+ coins to appear sometime before Christmas.

Don’t forget. I’m still on sabbatical to work on the ebook version of the Grimoire until mid September. In the meantime, check out the new Gifts and Goals chart.

The we-Bay Manifesto

It would be nice if players could trade items (We Rule EBay) so that players who boosted their gift cart and ended up with six can trade with players who missed. Maybe if players spent mojo to make a trade ngmoco:) would actually consider it.

This weekend was a good example. A number of players boosted gifts to get the twilight flowers for the twilight meadow quest only to end up with more of the same trinkets they already had and no twilight flowers.

(Seriously, if you want the meadow and its purple unicorn, just spend the 50 mojo on the goal rather than blow it on a useless hunt through boosted gifts. And at the rate they’re giving out twilight flowers, you may not get twenty.)

Think it through. Make sure you want to spend 50 mojo on this building that’s slightly bigger than the caterpillar perch. I won’t know what it returns as idle income (50 hours delivery time) until sometime today.

Click image to see full size

This unicorn may look large on the splash screen but he’d no bigger than the other one. Hopefully you can hold off and buy it on we Bay in a month or two.

Consider this inventory: 11 wedding chapels, 14 shipwrecks, 23 naval ships, 16 blue Venetian palazzos and eight Machu Piccus. What could we possibly do with all that inventory? What could a player possibly do with that?

Trade it and sell it on we-Bay. I propose that ngmoco:) (after they fix the bugs) add a third tab to the news/realms tab that launches the we-Bay site. There players can sell used inventory, and players looking for better deals can bid on it.

So let’s say I somehow ended up with six golden red dragons. I could take bids on four of them. The four best bids win. Or I could offer a direct-sale price of 400000c. I could clean out my Machu Piccu extras (they’re so big and no one needs more than one) for best offer above 20000c.

Did you install seven houses of worship and now only need one? Rather than sell them for 10 percent, why not see what you can get on we-Bay? The seller enters the item under her username and the buyer bids with his.

What does ngmoco:) get out of this? What do they always get out of it. They can charge 2 mojo for every transaction. Knowing ngmoco:), (and I might as well say this because they’ll come up with it on their own) they would charge 10m to buy 20 bids as well. Or 100 bids for 40m.

This means, as we all know, more players buy mojo so they can trade on we-Bay. If ngmoco:) can get a second-hand items market going (either in-app or online) they could pass Pages as the number one grossing app of all time.

If ngmoco:) does create we-Bay, of course, or anything remotely resembling it, I want the 10 percent of every mojo spent making trades credited to my account (better yet, the cash equivalent). 1 It was my idea, after all, and my readers were my witnesses. And Carol’s been pestering me to start making money on this blog.

1Call my lawyer, ngmoco:). He’s my brother in law and his specialty is real estate so you’ll probably do better than you would with a contracts specialist.back

Magic orbs, magic harvests

It should have been a milestone for me this week. Clocking in at 200 million lifetime experience points. Who wouldn’t be excited. And then I realized the game leaders earned almost that much in a couple of weeks.

I admit, I chose to stop competing once I passed into the top hundred (which had been my goal all along). And my timing couldn’t have been better. I just don’t have the time to stay competitive with nine realms, much less five.

This is America, after all. And in America you’re no longer good enough unless you win it all. And sometimes, if you’re Black and born in Hawaii and your name sounds suspiciously Moslem, even that’s not good enough for some people.

But the game is still seductively fun, isn’t it?

The great product dump

I actually wrote this column late Thursday night figuring I could get the work done early only to log in late Friday night and discover even more crap, including levels, minotaur and labyrinth, and the new emerald castle, or fortress. I’m no longer sure how they differentiate between castles, citadels and fortresses.

The emerald fortress is huge. It completely blocked a place of worship from view. I’ve been asking for emerald themed items for a while, and even predicted an emerald castle (diamond and gold still to come; all gold at L100?). Maybe we’ll get some emerald groves, too.

The new emerald castle is enormous. It may completely hide objects you already have in place. The perspective in the friend’s map is a little skewed because your kingdom is always bigger than the others

Corporate farming comes to We Rule

In addition to the usual buttload (or boatload, if you prefer) of crap that ngmoco:) usually dumps on players, this week saw the introduction of one of the most innovative, and probably controversial additions to the game: the harvest orb.

So let’s get the downside over with. You get one free harvest orb. After that they cost 75 mojo apiece. They also cost 2 mojo, every time you use one. You can install more than one in each realm, but that would be a waste of mojo since the minute you use the first orb, the other is useless.

Obviously, and this was my first reaction (as well as others), ngmoco:) has either:

  1. once again come up with a way to soak the mojo out of unsuspecting players, or
  2. given players with money to burn a huge advantage over poorer players, or
  3. All of the above.

Not only was this my first reaction, I haven’t changed my opinion one whit. Players who have loaded up their realms with stack after stack of high-priced, high-yield items can boost everything they harvest by fifteen percent. The result? Two billion experience points is right around the corner. And for only two mojo they can harvest everything in that realm that’s ready to harvest all at once.

The new harvest orb will harvest every ripe grove, crop and fount in your realm with one touch. Well, one touch and two mojo.

Click image to see full size

Look at all those experience points and coins. That’s usually ten to fifteen minutes worth of harvest work and a sore finger to boot.

This is the genius of the harvest orb. A lot of players have abandoned the game because they were tired of clicking on those damned groves. I found myself experiencing Carpal Tunnel in my index finger. The magic orb will save lots of harvest time, making the game a lot less painful and a hell of a lot less tedious.

If you can afford it.

That being said, if you already spend mojo, this is the item I would invest in. Forget boosting gifts. Yes, if you harvest every realm three times daily you will be out 54 mojo (or 1600 a month, which is pretty damn close to $80 monthly on mojo). But if you only do it once a day, players with heavily stacked realms can save an hour or more of harvest time.

It does change the game metaphor a little. After all, when we’re no longer harvesting crops one at a time like real farmers, we’ve become corporate farmers. It’s tempting to say there were no corporate farmers in medieval times, but let’s be real. Back then they just called them Lords and Kings.

Sadly, the game shuts down completely every time I use the orb, which shouldn’t be a surprise. Let’s face it, when has ngmoco:) ever come up with an innovation that ran smoothly? And the game crashes three times as often on launch all of a sudden.

The bottom line? You don’t have to use it, but it’s there and it’s one of the few items that’s worth the investment should you choose to make it. But use some restraint, eighty bucks a month is a lot to piss away on a game.

we rule needz more kittys

this iz jenny manytoes.

philip couldn’t write today so i desided to instead. Sinse ima cat im still lerning to type and spel.

why no butiful cats in we rule? philip told me theres a lion now but still no cats. real cats that kurl up and pur and make u feel good.

philp wants sum thing called tilz. he sayz there are sand tilz and snow tilz and scorch tilz but no rubt tilz or dimund or gold tilz and he hates dealing with all those roads cauz there so small and get in the way of buildings.

but i want cats. trade nations has two cute cats gabbo and lily and thats why i don’t understand why philip doesnt play trade nations more and we rule less. he can put in lotz of cats but doesnt cauz he sayz they cost 2 much mojo. we farm has butiful barn cat and we rule came furst.

make sense? stupid humans never make sense. don’t even eat yummy mice or catch birds. no suprise no cats in we rule.

xept carol and philip who feed me and pet me. especially carol who feeds me and changes my litter, altho i like when philip pets me which he never duz when he plays we rule.

or trade nations but i forgive him cauz he takes less time and it has gabbo and lily even tho they just sit there and don’t chase mice either. don’t even bunch their tails when i play with them on ipad which pisses philip off cauz i shoodnt use claws on it.

trade nations has gabbo and lily. we farm has butiful barn cat. no kittys in we rule. stupid humans never think what important.

cats are wurth all the mojo he can spend and i think there should be more cats in we rule 2 even if u use mojo. cute cats that pur and rub against wizzerds and make u feel good.

mommy carol has a we rule kingdom named after me but without the space. jennymanytoes. u shood order frum her 2 but i no u would order more if she had cats.

I wood.

so rite ngmoko and say ‘i wont cats.’

reely. rite now.

and say lotz of cats not just 1 or 2

want tabbys and calicos and torteez and simeze like me. seel point, blu point, flame point.

and then burmeez and purrsians and balineez and tucksedos with there cute black and white furz.

send my picktur 2. they can make a cat that lookz like me. that wood be so kool.

this iz what i look lik. woodnt i be cute in we rule?

Welcome to Mojo Anonymous

The twelve cobblestone steps

These are the twelve cobblestone steps of Mojo Addiction Recovery as outlined by Mojo Anonymous (MA):

  • Admit that we are powerless to resist mojo.
  • Acknowledge that a power greater than ourselves1 may need to intervene (unless our spouses get sucked into the game too and then we’re probably screwed).
  • Turn our lives over to that higher power before we lose everything to an even higher power (in this case bankruptcy court).
  • Make a fearless moral inventory of the items in our kingdoms.
  • Admit to our higher power, to ourselves, and to players with more wisdom than ourselves that we don’t need half the crap we buy since it all ends up in inventory in a few weeks any way.
  • Be ready to allow our higher power, or even more significant higher power (aka spouse, life partner or ball and chain) to restrict and or remove our access to our bank accounts and Apple ID.
  • Humbly ask our higher power to help us pare down our inventory and to seek accept only goals that can’t be achieved without spending mojo (i.e., none of them).
  • Made a list of all the friends we invited to play the game and beg their forgiveness for sending gifts which, in turn, tempt them to boost with mojo.
  • Made direct amends to to our friends short of paying them back for the mojo they bought to build stupid items to get us to shop in their kingdoms.
  • Continue to examine our inventory to remind us of the stupid shit we spent mojo so they we’re less tempted to do it again (e.g. 17 gold gondolas or shipwrecks that we can’t even fit in our kingdoms) and remember how few coins and experience points we receive in exchange for the mojo boost.
  • Find a different game that doesn’t have mojo, magic beans, gro or any other virtual cash that costs real cash (e.g., Max and the Magic Marker or Mondo Solitaire).
  • Help others resist their own addiction to mojo even if it means steering them to other games.

Denial is the surest route to failure. This little window is the first step in the domino of addiction, heartache and bankruptcy.

The MA model

MA is completely anonymous and our membership is acknowledged only to ourselves. We can reveal our participation but not the names of others in the group lest ngmoco:) target their kingdom with intensified marketing campaigns to break down their resistance.

Each new MA member will be assigned a sponsor who will make himself available for counsel whenever a new mojo sale is announced, or yet another item becomes available that can only be bought with mojo or as a gift that can be opened with mojo.

MA sponsors virtual meetings around the clock. Your sponsor will provide you with the meeting schedules. We don’t make them public to reduce the chances of mojo marketing reps showing up to undermine the players’ resolve.

MA is free, but not yet recognized by any known medical authority, mainly because the game development lobby is currently too powerful to compete with.

1We call this higher power the “weruler of our understanding.”back

Get your goals on

It took me awhile to catch on to the pirates. At first I didn’t think much of them because I was so pissed. I had waited most of Friday night to see if they would release new shops on the off chance they would, and then released the shops I had been holding.

You see, I used to spend a lot more mojo running these numbers for you guys, because I had to use it to release shops so I could make room to order from my faux kingdom. A few weeks ago I realized that if I hold off on releasing shops for a couple of hours in the late afternoon, I can time it to coincide with new building announcements and save twenty or thirty mojo.

Usually a later Friday release is no big deal, it’s only one shop. And since I do the charts and analysis on Thursday I only have to slip one new column into the new shops chart. But this week, as you know, ngmoco:) launched a major mandatory upgrade so there wasn’t much to analyze.

Quests are out. Goals are in. The announcement looks more like a sampler than a display, but that may have been the intention. Will we be happy with the changes? That remains to be seen.

Then, as I am about to wind down for the evening, I check in to fill any last minute orders and suddenly there’s all this stuff: Skull Island, pirate harbor and pirate port. Now I have to discharge more shops (with mojo), plant three new buildings, spend the mojo to construct them and process three orders from my faux kingdom, and stay up until two in the morning typing the charts.

Which meant I had to stay up until five to get the writing done that I was already behind on. On a Friday night, when I should have been asleep (or, when I was much younger, partying).

So it wasn’t until Saturday that I realized the harbor pirate character was a woman, which meant she was a woman because Penelope Cruz joined the cast of Pirates of the Caribbean, which means this whole damn weekend release was just another blockbuster movie tie-in.

An entire Friday tied up for a movie promotion. What’s next? X-Men? Transformers? If that’s too much of a stretch, I’m sure they can work in Planet of the Apes. They already have the monkey king from the old quest era.

Bye bye quests

Yes, we can already speak fondly of the old quest era because it’s been replaced by the new “goals” era. Goals are a checklist of tasks that earn coins and experience.

We Rule presents you with a list of goals. As soon as you complete one, a new goal is added to your list. You can actually complete the task, or just spend mojo.

Your tasks can include planting several different crops to make a pizza, or building a navy and adding cannons. Quite often you have to collect orders from other players for the new items you install.

At first I didn’t mind the goals. I could always install buildings from my inventory. But ngmoco:) caught on to that trick almost immediately and upgraded the upgrade within hours. Now you actually have to spend coins to buy items to earn more coins.

Each time you complete a goal, you get a little notice saying you finished. That’s it. Then you’re on to the next one. You don”t even get to relive your accomplishments by finding them listed in the achievements list.

That was when I quit playing the goals. I realized the coins I earned might not even pay back the coins I spent to install the items. I could spend less on one wisdom grove and keep earning experience points in the future. Who would have thought my enjoyment of the upgrade would end so quickly?

Personally, I enjoyed the quests more. I enjoyed them more because of the cool swag you could earn. The cute little thrones and leprechauns and the oases. Sure, the ones we earned are still available, but I was looking forward to more. And I don’t want to have to spend mojo to get them as gifts. I want to earn them.

So why did ngmoco:) dump the quests and replace them with goals? The answer is simple: to sell mojo. Most of you have already figured out that the whole point of goals is to sell more mojo. You probably got the hint when you noticed that you could spend mojo to finish the goals without doing any work at all.

If you didn’t get the hint, ngmoco:) launched another mojo sale to make sure you made the connection. So you can spend mojo to complete goals, or spend mojo to install buildings to complete the goals without spending mojo on the goal itself.

I looked in the achievements list to see if ngmoco:) at least allows you to keep track of goals completed to relive our days of glory. No such luck. Nor do they keep a list in the Game Center.

I hate to say this, but why doesn’t ngmoco:) quit shuffling around the issue, and simply put the leader board slots up for a cash bid? They could even bid out the top 25 every week or every other week. They could raise enough cash to pay quarterly bonuses to everyone on staff, and the rest of us can earn coins and buy everything with coins.

As it is, Carol is already on Facebook trying to organize Mojo Anonymous, a twelve-step group for mojo addicts. We’ve joked about it in the past, but now I think she’s serious.

The wedding lottery arrives

The royal wedding received far more attention than I would have expected this week. A bridal boutique, Buckingham Palace, two carriages, two tower bridges, a floral arrangement, black jewelry shops and a dowry quest.

ngmoco:) is being more generous with the royal items than the gold and ruby items. So if you really want to blow mojo for a bridge or carriage, you stand a good shot of getting them on your first or second try. At least while they’re available, which may not be much longer.

Note that I said “chance.” We’ll discuss this more later.

Jesus only got bunnies last week, and they aren’t really Easter symbols but spring equinox symbols (you know, weird pagan ritual territory commercially transformed into cute children’s fluffy toys) . I’m sure Christians will be offended. I sure am. But even people who think he’s mythical should be perturbed that the bride of the son of a mythical ruler (I mean she’s Queen, but she doesn’t rule anything) gets more attention than the son of God (even if he’s mythical).

And what’s this Duke and Duchess of Cambridge nonsense? Surely this isn’t the Duke of the fine academic institution Cambridge? I mean William and Kate make a pretty couple, but scholars? No way. Surely they don’t mean the American Cambridge which also houses two fine institutions of learning. How about the Duke and Duchess of Fashion Icons, or Duke and Duchess of Paparazzi? Wouldn’t that be more appropriate?

I’m not sold on the royal black items either. Since when is black the color of royalty? Let’s be honest, these items are black because Britain is still covered with coal dust from the Industrial age. What do people think the London Fog really is? Coal soot and sulphur and other noxious particles from smokestacks. So the black buildings may not say royalty but they do say England.

Buckingham Palace was supposed to come with a guard, at least that’s what this weekend’s splash screen seemed to imply, but I have yet to see him. The only explanation I can think of is that the guard was originally modeled after a certain eighteen-year-old guard who ended up being fired this week for posting on Facebook that Kate was a whore and a cow because she didn’t wave at him personally.

Out of deference to the royal couple, ngmoco:) or DeNA may have decided to fire his character as well. All of which leads me to believe that the royal couple (we don’t capitalize royalty in America) received such deference either because British players buy more mojo than the rest of us, or that someone in the royal family plays and personally buys more mojo than the rest of us.

So, ngmoco:), on the next Christian holiday, say Veteran’s Day or the Fourth of July, let’s give credit where credit is due. Let’s have some American flags with crosses instead of stars like the founding fathers intended. And maybe a fireworks stand because nothing celebrates Jesus like fireworks, even if we shoot them off a week too late. And on Christmas, I want a We Rule nativity with a quest for each of the three kings.

Lottery Luck

My friend Ziessel wrote me in Trade Nations that he only spent eight mojo to boost gifts and he got a Black Dragon even though he’s only L34. He wanted to know if he did something wrong.

Readers—especially readers who spent hundreds of mojo and only got a handful of golden stuff—don’t be mad at Zeissel. The gift wagon is a lottery, aka a crap shoot. Some people do well, others don’t. Now it’s possible that ngmoco:) secretly tracks the amount of mojo spent and boosts the number of cool gifts with the amount of mojo you spend.

The question is, which would you prefer? Spending 50m on the chance of a gold tavern or a guaranteed black dragon?

Bug fixes(?)

ngmoco:) also released a new upgrade aimed at making We Rule more stable. And, in my experience, it is. It now only crashes once or twice when I harvest and not four or fives times like it used to. It does however, crash more often when I launch.

On balance, I’m happy with the improvements and I hope this bodes well for more to come. I suspect most long-term players will be too. New players, on the other hand, might wonder why a game this long in release is still so buggy. But that’s because they have nothing to compare it too.

So a genuine thanks to ngmoco:) for improved stability along with a request that it doesn’t stop.

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

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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.

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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

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To Buy or Not to Buy?

It’s been a quiet week in Lake Wobegon and We Rule as well. But not the Stephens family who firmly believes that no crisis should be addressed until the holidays when it’s too late resolve the situation to anyone’s satisfaction. Usually we wait until Christmas, but this year one sister and her daughters are headed to Africa meaning this all has to be resolved by this week.

Fortunately, ngmoco:) only released new items on Monday so I didn’t have much to write about. Unfortunately, they didn’t bother to tell anybody so I waited until Friday to update charts that I could have finished on Tuesday.

Usually, family holiday crisis is perfect fodder for writing, but this time the fallout won’t end until well after the New Year and, depending on how the pieces fall, it could take another year before I can figure out how to make it funny. By then we will probably have moved onto to another game.

Still, there have been a couple of developments in We Rule worth commenting on this week, and by next week I hope to be back in full swing with more fun stuff to talk about.

Resurrecting old deals

This is the first time I completely missed the mark on predicting new product releases. I anticipated some kind of Thanksgiving oriented product, and ngmoco:) ignored the holiday altogether. I think the prediction was reasonable since they flooded the game with Halloween products of marginal value.

The Halloween-themed releases did put them in line with other games, such as Farmville and the eighty dozen Tap games (TapZoo, TapKitchen, TapCity, TapFish, etc. I didn’t bother to go back to check and see if I had the names exactly right; they’re mostly iPhone games anyway). And at least ngmoco:) didn’t put a countdown on special items the way other games do. But in spite of cornucopia houses and pilgrims’ huts in Farmville, We Rule stuck with Greek mythology.

This leaves Christmas a toss up. We could see a Yule Log, since that plays into the game’s original medieval theme, but how far the developers will go with the holidays remains to be seen. And the fact that ngmoco:) is now a Japanese company could also be an influencing factor. I’m not sure Jesus and Santa top the cultural charts in that part of the world.

They did, however, resurrect the fairy tree, unicorn’s meadow and broomstick hut. These have little commercial value anymore; there are better shops out at all levels with similar or better returns. But for L11 players, they do provide a decent payoff, and some of us have a sentimental attachment to one or more of them.

I was hoping the fairy trees would have fairies this time, but, no, the fairies are still hiding. A reader once promised to send a screenshot of a fairy. Hopefully they will send it soon.

If you love medieval magic, however, the fairy tree and unicorn’s meadow do help tie your kingdoms back to the roots of the game, and they do pay better than many of the older active shops. It wouldn’t hurt to decorate your kingdoms with one or more if you missed them the first time around.

What I am hoping is that this will become a trend, especially since We Farm brought back the aliens. It would be nice to know that if we need to remove an item, it will show back up once or twice a year should we change our minds later.

We Farm and We City grow up

We Farm and We City both added realms this week. We Farm seems to have gone off the deep end with their Safari mode, but We City is going international. This week they added some Japanese items, perhaps as an homage to their new owners.

Or under orders from their new owners.

If you’ve gotten bored and abandoned one or the other (as I had been tempted to) these moves might pique your interest. We City is also adding some high value items slowly but surely.

Mojo blowouts

I am posting this before the mojo sale ends hoping that a few of you will have a chance to read this in time.

I would never encourage players to buy or use mojo, but I will admit that I indulge. One of the main reasons I use mojo is to mature new properties fast so that I can have the return values to post online the day a shop becomes available. But, I will also admit that spending the money on mojo allows me to open more of the newer shops than I might otherwise.

I try to buy one shop with cash for every shop I buy with mojo, and, if I am flush with cash, I don’t use it for shops at all. And, if you’ve visited my kingdom, you know I buy diamond groves with mojo because that’s the only way you can buy them (again).

Still there are some mojo strategies you can follow.

Save your money and only buy mojo when it becomes available for a 25 percent discount (as opposed to the 20 percent discounts which they also offer). This usually happens once a month and never less often than every other month. Buy the 2000m cask if you can afford it, and the 800m flask if you can’t. These give you the most mojo for your hard dollar.

Only spend mojo when buildings and groves are also discounted. Unfortunately, ngmoco:) doesn’t always put both on sale at the same time. Most importantly, wait to plant diamonds until a 25 percent off sale. Because ngmoco:) can’t sell groves for 7.5m, they have to discount them by a full 30 percent.

This means that you can plant 14 groves for the price of 10. The savings increases because of the fractions involved. If you bought and spent 2000m you would be able to plant 285 groves, or 85 more than you would when the sales are gone.

I combined the 25% off mojo sale, plus the 25% off groves sale, to take advantage of a peculiar number. Reducing diamond groves by 25% forces them to round down to a 30% discount (from 10m to 7m). In essence this cuts the total real dollar cost of diamond groves by half, or from 5¢ for one grove to a fraction over 5¢ for two. This makes it more cost effective for me to replace a stack of ruby groves with a stack of diamonds, reducing the real dollar cost to replace 35 rubies from $1.75 to 91¢.

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Let’s put this back in a real dollar perspective, however. If you took advantage of the mojo sale, and waited for the building sale, you still spent $75 for those 285 groves. That’s a hell of a lot of money for a game.¢

Stacking mystery deepens

John Wagner, the publicist for ngmoco:) posted a comment on this site that nobody has been banned for life from We Rule. I think we should take him at his word. I did my best to verify that the player who claimed to be banned was actually banned. His kingdom was gone, but it is possible something else happened.

I’ve asked both the player and Wagner for further details, but since this week was a holiday, I doubt we will hear officially for a while. My advice: Stay within the limits I posted last week for now (or close to them) if you haven’t reached them already.

If you have passed them, don’t get honest like I did and remove them. At least not until you hear something official.

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