Time to mix it with your groves

In the past I’ve always promoted residences as a replacement for groves as your income grows and you can afford to add two or three a day. But I’ve always though ruby groves were the best investment at lower levels when cash remains hard to come by.

In fact, if Book Baby ever gets around to releasing my book, you will discover that’s still my opinion in the official Grimoire. However, things change and the new mongol residence is that game changer.

Mongol residences deliver 65xp every hour (20c) for 13000c (4m). This is only 5000c more than a ruby grove (and half the mojo) which delivers 30cp an hour but every six hours. You have to clock in every hour to make mongol residences worth your while, but they will be worth your while.

Best of all, you can get them at L18. This means you can start adding them to your kingdom before you can start installing ruby groves.

The mongol residence delivers 85cp every hour. You can start installing before you become eligible for ruby groves.

Should you forego ruby groves altogether? I wouldn’t go that far. Rubies still earn more over a stretch longer than three hours, and I doubt you will be able to cash in on mongol residences 24 hours a day. You will also reach a point where it’s no longer worth your while to harvest every hour or two. When that happens, you will find the groves pay off far better.

I would recommend a mix of two groves to one residence (two to two max). Once you can start installing the higher value residences, however, especially the Persian residence, move on. The mongol will lose its value the higher your level.

Early Edition: Sneak release and promised update

I don’t know how many players noticed it, but ngmoco:) actually released a couple of major items with no announcement last night. I have no idea why. I simply noticed the “new content” bar and decided to check (even though quite often the new content is nothing). At the bottom of the featured items I found the Thunderbird Lair. On a whim I checked the castles and found the new azure fortress.

The thunderbird is quite electric. Similar to the phoenix he collapses for a while and then revives to take flight. He’s also a very valuable creature, the first to top five figures in combined points.

As I predicted a couple of weeks ago, the crimson dragon lair wouldn’t be the second most valuable item in player kingdoms for long. The thunderbird’s release topples all other building for return, by almost 6000cp. It also breaks the million coin price barrier, clocking in at 1,250,000c (60m).

I’d been saving up my coins for a while because I know that ngmoco:) releases a blockbuster item every three months or so, but this almost doubles previous returns. It also means even more expensive buildings in the future, but as return values rise with them they should be more affordable. More experienced players may remember the paltry 4c return every four hours for the cottages at the beginning of the game. Last I checked they were 10c every 5 minutes.

The azure fortress is even more expensive at a million and a half coins. It’s incredibly large, hiding a number of groves and fields.

The azure fortress is absolutely enormous. It’s a deeper shade of blue than earlier fortresses, although I think the dark castle was the most attractive so far. The emerald and orange fortresses were fairly pretty too.

Click to see larger image

Save those coins

ngmoco:) has announced the pending release of version 1.6, which apparently will include a new kingdom with five new realms. So start saving coins to fill those new realms (and buy them). They also promise a lot more stability.

Developers are reducing the bit depth of the graphics which will make them a lot less processor intensive. If you don’t understand, the number of bits in an image drastically increase the processing power required to render them. Since the game isn’t photorealistic the reduction in pixel depth should’t hurt the look of the game at all. In fact, they could probably do it with eight bits and still get decent results.

Finally, ngmoco:) says they will be removing the gift cart during future events, so this also means we will see more flutterflies, dragons and their offspring in the future.

It’s been a busy week so we’ll count this as Monday’s post. Hopefully the game will get more exciting and a lot less aggravating.

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


Easter egg hunt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And new wisdom groves.

Wisdom groves

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

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

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

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

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

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

Comparing idle income

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

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

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

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

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

Click image to see full size

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

New levels to come?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Idle income

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s where other considerations come into play.

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

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

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

Big announcement tomorrow

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


*First oasis free with quest.
†Seasonal

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

The no mojo approach to leveling up

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

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

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

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

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

Click image to see full size

No mojo kingdoms

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

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

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

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

Click image to see full size

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

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

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

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

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

Click image to see full size

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

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

Click image to see full size

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

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


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


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

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.

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.


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Best revenue streams: groves or founts?

Winter arrived, but Christmas is taking second place to Chanukah right now, as it should since Chanukah precedes Christmas on the Calendar (although Ramadan precedes both and our Islamic players got nothing but a Hindu spice market, which runs counter to the fasting requirements of the celebration). But we finally got snow, which I’ve been requesting since last summer. Thanks, ngmoco:). This is the season for snow so it’s an appropriate release time.

I haven’t crunched the numbers on the chalet and dreidel yet, but they look to be quick return items (10 and 16 hours) like the spice market and theater. The L8 dreidel shop has a higher total payout even though the chalet is L29. Check the analysis page later today for the numbers.

So perhaps we will get a yule log and a quest with St. Nick (who would be more appropriate to We Rule than Santa Claus).

I would invest in the dreidel shop now because I suspect it won’t be around after the New Year.

Still no stacking update

I’ve written Joe Wagner again asking for an official statement about stacking or a link to a site with ngmoco:)’s official statement. Hopefully, we’ll hear back soon.

Gone Fishing Protocol

I have to admit that in spite of my usual dour appraisal of ngmoco:) response to player requests, they have been listening. In addition to the snow they added a jester, which was discussed in this blog a month or so ago, and they did it through a quest rather than a building. I’m sure glad to see him, he adds a lot to the different realms.

One of the things they haven’t figured out is a “gone fishing,” or, as I would have it, a “gone questing” option for players who need to vacate the game because they can’t access wireless on their vacations.

The concern is that other players won’t know not to place orders with shops while the vendor is away. After all, it will be hard to tell if a player is taking a leave of absence or has given up the game.

So I am suggesting the following: Rather than simply abandoning your fields, leave a message for other players.

Harvest all your crops and don’t plant new ones. Instead, stack a knight statue on top of one of your fallow fields. This should indicate to other players (especially those who read the blog and know the convention) that you haven’t just walked away for good, you put some thought into it.

Since the knight is synonymous with a quest, the knight statue should symbolize the message “gone questing.”

If you’re going on vacation, leave your fields fallow and stack a knight in one of the fields to symbolize your absence on a quest.

Click image to see full size

Don’t know how to stack yet? Tune in next week, because I have decided to devote the blog to stacking tips and tricks. The videos are helpful, but there are a number of wrinkles they don’t cover.

So if you want to stack, check back. In one week.

Find Friends

Looking for friends? Find friends and add your plus+ id to a list of available friends at We Rule Friend Finder. I can’t guarantee results, but it should attract some business to your kingdom and help you find shops for quests.

Higher value rental properties

Recently ngmoco:) added three items that pay better idle than they pay vendors to lease them out to customers. The mermaid isle, Poseidon’s fount and the new ancient lighthouse pay very well, and the lighthouse has an excellent total return.

The question raised by some players is whether or not Poseidon’s font is worth more than ruby or diamond trees. I’m not sure it is. The fount pays 120c and 240xp over six hours. As far as experience points go, it pays far better than either. As far as coin value, it’s only slightly better than the ruby and worse than a diamond grove.

The real question centers on cost. Poseidon’s font costs 90,000c. Rubies cost 10,000c. The ruby grove pays out better as a percentage of cost. The real question is the mojo cost. Poseidon’s fount costs twice the mojo as a diamond grove. For the same 20m you would earn 300c and 240xp buying two diamond groves, the same experience and more than twice the coins.

The lighthouse pays 1300c and 1900xp over 60 hours, but the hourly payout in coins is slightly better. It’s also more than twice as expensive as the fount.

Should you buy them just for investment value? I can’t answer that for you. But here’s my thinking. As long as you can stack rubies and diamonds you’re better off making the investment in the groves. When, however, you reach that magic number where you exceed the permissible limit of groves in any realm (you will automatically be locked out of rubies for coins), this would be the perfect time to start investing in founts and lighthouses.

What makes Poseidon’s fount unique is the way they tuck together to fit in a smaller space. This allows you to add more founts to your kingdom without stacking. Since you can legally stack groves up to a certain limit (or so we have been led to presume), but not buildings you will be able to add more founts than lighthouses.

Given the slight margin in cash earned per hour, and the fact that founts earn more experience points, the founts’ smaller footprint makes them a better buy than the lighthouse.


Abbreviation key:

  • c = coins
  • m = mojo
  • xp = experience points

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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¢.

Click image to see full size

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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