Elemental event winding down

The elemental event ends Wednesday morning, and based on the comments players are far happier with this implementation than they were with the flutterflies near debacle. There have been far fewer crashes, and, in case you missed ngmoco:)’s notice when the game launched, turning off mojo confirmation will make the game even more stable.

Both rewards offer enormous payouts and the game seems to play essentially like the previous two. The most common elementals (in this case, the imps) are relatively easy to catch, with the mud being easiest and the fire imp less so.

As a rule of thumb, in all of these events the top left creature is the easiest to catch and the creatures become increasingly more difficult as you move to the right and down. The rarest three creatures are almost always impossible to catch.

I managed to catch all 27 creatures the first evening by harvesting spells with mojo and making sure I caught every one the first time. But that was to run the numbers. Nonetheless, it was far easier this time than in the last two events.

These are the creatures and number of creatures you must catch in the second round to win the elemental forge. The stakes are higher than with past events because you have to catch more of the rarest creatures.

So I would recommend with these games that if you definitely want the reward, spend the mojo on the three most difficult catches (in this case, since you have to catch the three rarest elementals four times each, that’s 120m). But with all of these events, you should be able to catch most items over the course of the week without spending mojo.

Making it to the top 100 in catches will definitely require mojo.

As the deadline looms on Tuesday, however, I would decide how badly you want to play. If you’re determined to succeed, cast spells and spend mojo to mature them as often as possible. Don’t worry about catching creatures after you’ve bagged your limit. Grab at them, and if you miss, move on.

Free orb harvests

ngmoco:) is assuring players that using the orb is permanently free, for now. The “for now” part, of course, means they’re hedging their bets. They are considering capping orb use, and charging a coins penalty for exceeding it. So use it guilt free for now, and don’t worry about what they might do.

Two enhancement requests

While I would never want new enhancements at the expense of processing power and stability, I have stumbled across two enhancements that might make the game more enjoyable.

  • Magic grapes. Okay, I’ve asked for these before. How hard would it be to give players a magic crop that harvests on the same schedule as groves? Especially if developers may cap orb use in the future.
  • Quicker planting I would love the ability to plant the same crop without going back to the crop menu. I’ve seen this in other games, and it would be really helpful for players with magic plots in every realm.

Currently you have to open the crop menu every time you plant a new crop, even thought the game remembers the last crop planted. Why not let players select one crop, and then plant the same crop by touching each plot in turn? If players want to change crops they can simply wait a few seconds before planting again.

I just finished playing Cityville Home Town to review for iPad Envy and one of the few things I like is the ability to select a crop once and then tap on each plot where I want to plant it.

If it means more crashes, however, I’m good.

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Upgrade features hint at more to come

The promised We Rule 1.6 upgrade went live late last week, with five new realms and five clearly in the waiting for release with a future upgrade. As with all upgrades, ngmoco:) isn’t profuse with details other than to tell us the realms tab is on the left and you have to touch and scroll to find the new realm.

What’s missing from their blog posts is the implication of this development. We Rule developers intend the new interface to be a gateway for the continuous addition of new kingdoms and new realms. Like the social map, gamers can access realms by scrolling further and further to the left.

The new realms can be found to the left of the current realms by scrolling the realms window.

We can also watch the leader board scores explode again. Currently four players are tied for the lead with almost 218 billion (that’s right, billion) points. (This strange identical score could be because all four players are maxed out, but the fact that we have a four way tie for fifth place makes me think there’s a problem with the calculations).

The last time ngmoco:) expanded the realms the old leaders were ousted by new leaders with new energy (and maybe more money to spend for mojo) and this may happen again. Zimidar will probably remain in the top ten as he has since the game’s release. And scores will soon jump to 300 billion because players can now pack their realms with rubies, sapphires, diamonds and high-yield items.

Currently the leader boards feature two statistically weird four-way ties: one for first and one for fifth (or second for people who don’t understand how rankings are determined).

The creeping crawl

The downside of the new realms is that adding new buildings has become a painfully slow process for those of us on first generation iPads and next to impossible for older iPhones. I was building a sample realm for the cover of the iBook release of the Grimoire and it took the server almost a minute to place one item and accept a second item of the same kind.

This will not be fixed with graphics, it really is a problem of bandwidth, server response time and the devices’ processing power. But I suspect ngmoco:) will be able to use the influx of cash from new mojo sales to add and upgrade servers.

New harvest orb

I looked on all of ngmoco:)’s sites for information about the new harvest orb but can’t find anything. Readers may have more luck.

Most will have noticed that the harvest orb can now be used for free, although they no longer deliver a 15 percent boost. What I can’t tell is whether or not this is a permanent change or a temporary move. I’m hoping it’s permanent.

The new harvest orb is now free, but provides no additional boost. Most players will make up for this by checking in more often to harvest since they won’t have to pay every time they use one.

If you regret the loss of the boost, don’t. You can still come out even, if not ahead. I suspect most players have been using the orbs as I have—harvesting from realms with the most groves and residences and harvesting manually in less lucrative realms. I had also harvested only when groves blossomed because that was when I could get the best return for using the orb.

With the free orbs I can harvest as often as I want and move the orb into even the least lucrative realms because I don’t have to buy mojo to use it. I save time and earn more, probably as much as I earned with the boosts.

What? No citadel?

Were you as surprised as I (or at least as disappointed) that our new kingdoms didn’t come with upgradable citadels in the main realm? I would have thought there would at least be an auxiliary outpost to anchor the kingdom. I’m even more surprised because ngmoco:) could have charged outrageous citadel upgrade fees which would have spurred players to use mojo to buy more items to earn the upgrade fees.

What were they thinking? Or not thinking?

New event coming?

Readers may have noticed the following on ngmoco:)’s facebook page:

Reports are flooding in from the citizens at the borders of your Kingdom. They all claim to have witnessed hulking beasts marching through the outskirts of the Realms, being led by smaller, unidentified creatures. We’ve sent Scouts to verify these reports. It’s probably nothing to worry about!

Since I haven’t seen these beasts and creatures, I have to wonder if they aren’t gearing up to another event. In the first round we collect the smaller creatures, whatever they are, and graduate to beasts. ngmoco:) has been announcing they will remove the gift cart during the next event, so this little blurb may be their second hint.

It’s possible that they earned so much on mojo from the flutterflies that they won’t need to charge mojo for the harvest orbs any more.

We can only hope.

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.