Surf’s up. If you can find the ocean.

That's right. This week's newest items are for surfing fans. You can install a beach house, surfer's hut and surfer's lounge. My question is: How can there be surfer's lounges when We Rule has no oceans? Think about it. We have rivers and lakes, but you can't surf on them because they don't raise surf.

The lounges also have the distinction of being the best value a customer can find and a terrible value for the players who install them. Most shops earn more for the players who install them than those who order. But these earn less than half. (Players earn 1390hcp, vendors, 630, or less than half). This means that when you order, you are actually taking income away from those players that they could be earning if you ordered from the dragonslayer's den or solstice temple.

Does that mean you shouldn't order from the lounges? Absolutely not. Get the income. But it sure places players at L72 in an awkward position. Should they even bother to install them? I have no answer to that question. If you want to attract more customers (or keep them coming), sure. But if you don't want to spend close to two million coins on a sucker deal, you shouldn't feel guilty about passing.

If ngmoco:) continues to release devalued properties, there is only one possibility. We Rule is going communist. Is there any question that this move is suspicious during an election year? No doubt about it.

Raising Hell to launch

Raising Hell, which has been posted to this site (or at least the first few chapters), has already been sent to Amazon. Unfortunately, we are working out some file formatting problems, so it can't be downloaded yet. (Does this sound familiar?) I will let you know as soon as it becomes available.

These are the new surfer's lounges. They don't come with surfers, or an ocean for them to surf on. And vendors lose money when you order from them. But maybe we'll get some Hawaiian palm tress with coconuts and even a surfboard shop.

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Will black Friday move to We Rule?

Based on the sheer amount of shops dumped onto the We Rule Market in the last ten days, I fear for the prospect of a We Rule Black Friday.

With luck we’ll have a Thanksgiving event poaching the king’s royal woods. We could capture turkeys, ducks and rabbits, who are easy to catch. The rare creature challenge would be to hunt wild boar and deer and the delicious but useful goose that lays golden eggs.

Maybe we could even keep one of each to wander around our realms between now and Christmas.

The last ten days have made me feel we are more likely to get a feast of conspicuous We Rule consumption. More shops with higher returns, making us desperate to spend mojo for those grand farms and dragonslayer’s dens we could otherwise not afford.

In the past it’s taken about three months to replace the top earning shop with a new one. It was a matter of weeks before the necromancer’s lair replaced the thunderbird, and the dragonslayer’s den arrived to top the necromancer four days later.

The dragonslayers are eating the thunderbirds. For the first time since I can remember, ngmoco:) has replaced the top earning shop, not just in a matter of weeks, but over a single weekend. I hope you didn’t install more than a couple of the necromancer’s lairs over the weekend because they cost $3 and fell into second place with the next new release.

Here’s a quick run down of shops in the last ten days:

  • Adventurer’s tavern, L22
  • Axesmith, L44
  • Paladin Citadel (gift)
  • Magic wand shop, L32
  • Necromancer’s lair, L55 (top earner)
  • Dark Knight haven, L50 (outperforming the previous L50 leader, the Black Dragon)
  • Dragonslayer’s den, L68 (new top earner)
  • Fall trees, L11 (decoration)
  • Corn Maze, L18 (super high idle income producer)
  • Pie Shop, L42
  • Turkey Pen, L24
  • Cider Mill, L34
  • Grand Farm House, L62 (third highest performing shop)

That’s 13 different items in a ten day period (15 if you count the three different fall tree varieties).

If you add the seven Spanish items in the two prior releases, we’re talking 20 new items in two weeks. Can you say, “conspicuous consumption?” The only other competing developer I know who can come close to that pace is Zynga, who is ahead of ngmoco:) in gross profits.

Trade Nation usually introduces about six items a month, although many of those items require extraordinary gem expenditures. Would you pay 750m for a poodle?

I just want to remind readers that you don’t have to buy something just because ngmoco:) releases it. Buy shops only when they improve the return of the shops at your level. You may think you need that turkey pen for Thanksgiving, but by the beginning of December you will have forgotten all about it.

I save my coins to invest in the highest producing shops available at my level (which will usually be the highest producing shop for the next several levels, at least for a few weeks). If you’re below L20, look to invest in two or three. From L20 to L30, invest in four to six. Above L30 try to install as many as ten (or until you find no one’s ordering).

You don’t have to do this at once. Add them as you have money. Then invest in decorative items like rivers, trees and roads to spruce things up until you can afford to add shops just to decorate.

Here’s my Black Friday request to ngmoco:): Fifty percent off mojo and fifty percent off every shop available. You’ll still make a bundle and your fans will feel a little more appreciated.

The lure of the necromancer

Harry Potter’s final installment hit home theaters this weekend and ngmoco:) celebrated with a magic wand shop and necromancer’s lair. The wand shop looks kind of cool and the necromancer’s lair is supposed to glow in the dark.

Oops.

It never gets dark in We Rule.

Even more interesting, ngmoco:) added a new wrinkle to high stakes shopping. The necromancers lair is officially the highest paying building available (at least until the next event) and pays almost double in coins the value of the next contender.

See how the necromancer’s lair is supposed to glow in the dark? I thought that would be so cool until I realized it never gets dark in We Rule.

Not only does it kick the thunderbird lair in the rear on total points by almost two thousand, it offers a significantly higher hourly yield. Furthermore, the thunderbird lair has only been around for a few weeks. Usually ngmoco:) waits three months before replacing the shop leader.

There is, however, a catch. Catch 299. As in $2.99. Each lair costs three dollars. To make up for it, ngmoco:) claims they gave everyone a free Merlin’s Keep, but really? Three dollars?

Would I recommend you install one? Absolutely. Would I recommend that you fill a realm with them the way many high level players do? No. Not a chance. Not on your life.

This doesn’t mean you won’t find some kingdoms with ten or twenty, but put this is perspective. Ten necromancer lairs cost $30. ngmoco:) now seems to allow players to take more than forty orders (at least players at L70). That would be $120. I’m not spending that much for items in a game and I recommend you don’t either.

Within a week or two ngmoco:) will release another event with shops that yield even more. Their pattern has been to top the thunderbird lair with the mastery shop every other event (and that would be the next one). Even though I haven’t seen any messages about strange creatures on their Facebook page I wouldn’t be surprised to see kangaroos and koala bears Wednesday.

Even worse, if they top the necromancer’s lair in four weeks the way they replaced the thunderbird’s lair, you will have to replace your entire investment. That’s not the worst possible scenario. If ngmoco:) sees that players will blow sixty to a hundred dollars to pack realms with top shops, you can bet only the people who can afford a hundred bucks a month will be able to add them.

This is Dragonvale where players have to buy dragon eggs with hundreds of gems, only they can’t earn gems. You have to buy them at a rate similar to buying mojo. Let us bow our heads and pray ngmoco:) doesn’t think of this as a good idea.

I looked at Dragonvale based on a reader’s recommendation. Some of the dragons cost 500 to 1o00 gems (which cost twenty five to fifty real dollars). I remember thinking that ngmoco:) might not be so outrageous with the mojo after all. The necromancer’s lair says they’re thinking about it, though, and I think the market needs to say, “NFW.”

The advantages of bulk installations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Attracting customers

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

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

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

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

Customers will go to the kingdoms with the better payoffs.

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

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

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

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

Still pretty

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

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

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

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

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