Long-Term Strategies for FrontierVille
When you first start to play FrontierVille, after you've cleared a bunch of trees and brush and started to build a schoolhouse or a barn and you've added a few neighbors, you look up at the people around Level 90 or Level 100, and wonder how they play the game and how they got that far.
There's a book (or a series of four books) you may notice – FrontierVille Tycoon Guide – that promises to tell you the secrets of the high level players. You can buy it on the internet for $27. I haven't read it. I'm too cheap, and the ads for it sound as though they're written by an oily used car salesman.
So what I know about how to play FrontierVille I've figured out by myself. I'm at Level 93 right now and I've been playing since early October 2010, about 5 ½ months. It's possible, of course, to buy horseshoes and then buy your way to the top, but I've never done that and the only money I've spent on the game was $10 for a "bot", a robotic program that visits my neighbors automatically and speeds up planting and sowing and capturing stars and coins and pieces of pie as they fly up as you play – things that you'd have to click on for bonuses with the bot. My bot is Botoholic, and I'll write more about it later in a bit, and then probably in more detail in another post. I've just noticed that Zynga takes a dim view of bots and they are officially "prohibited", so you must take my descriptions of them and their use as purely hypothetical and quaintly historical, like descriptions of how to make bathtub gin or grow sinsemilla.
With that out of the way, I can now tell you that how fast you climb from level to level depends mostly on how much time you spend playing, and the most important "secret" to success is cutting down on the time it takes to do things.
There are a few things you need to do before you can form your long term strategy. You need to build up cash so that you can afford to invest in longer term crops like sunflowers and wheat and such, and add some neighbors, and you need to build a schoolhouse. The schoolhouse is important because by groveling and begging for ink, chalk and such you can buy a series lessons that let you buy animals and crops for less and increase their yield at harvest. You can hire more neighbors to work on your homestead every day, and let more neighbors visit you at a time. Not all the lessons are worth having, but most of them are.
So, I'd say that there are two main strategies for long term success at FrontierVille: lots of chickens and lots of crops. Chickens first.
Let 1000 Chickens Bloom
(Sorry, Mao) If you've visited the homesteads of high levels neighbors you'll have noticed that most of them seem to have a million chickens. You may also have noticed that they have several chicken coops – I've seen as many as eight. The reason for this is that chickens don't wither, and they can be harvested every 30 minutes. You can automatically harvest all your chickens from each coop once a day so, theoretically, you could have 48 coops. You'd probably die of groveling poisoning and self-loathing begging for the materials to build that many, or from lack of sleep from clicking on a coop every 30 minutes, but I suppose that with 30 million people playing FrontierVille somebody must have tried it.
Here's how the math works. If you had a square of 71 by 71 chickens you'd have 5,041 chickens. That may sound like a lot of money to a beginner but, trust me, as you get up to around level 40 or 50, you accumulate a lot of money and there isn't really much to spend it on. So, each time you click on a coop and harvest your chickens you get 5,041 XP and 60,492 coins. You'd make your money back in nine harvests. And you can do that as many times a day as you have coops. Plant a lot of fruit trees and throw out a bunch of animals for visiting neighbors to harvest and you pretty much have a maintenance-free homestead, though you'll have to strew some hay bales and collectables around to keep down weeds. Factory farming on FrontierVille.
There is a catch to this. Coyotes have shown up recently and they seem to eat one or two of the chickens who are not protected in the coops each time you harvest. The good part is that you have to click them only once to scare them off. Each coop can still harvest all your chickens once a day, but now each of your coops, when expanded" by prolonged begging, can shelter a maximum of 100 chickens. I'm not sure how this will affect play in the long run, so I'll ask my neighbors who're inot this sort of thing and write more about it in a later post.
I don't use that strategy though. I call mine:
Wheating the Prairie to Death
(Sorry, Aldo Leopold) I plant lots of crops. I mostly plant wheat, because it ripens once a day, but I also plant "intercalary" sunflowers, which ripen in eighteen hours, to bring my harvesting cycle back to early morning each day. All crops return a coin reward that appreciates at 1% per hour, so what long term crop you plant will depend on how often you can harvest it. Peanuts take longest to ripen at four days. Wheat collections can be turned in for collectables that nobody wants, but a sunflower collection brings eight XP per collection, which is worth having. Both wheat and sunflowers return 10 XP per unit (11 after the schoolhouse lesson), but wheat gives four food points and sunflowers only three. They produce two XP per unit when you plant them.
Just now, I happen to be planting 738 units of crops each day and by using 600 Food points to buy 62 Energy units, along with cashing in lunches and dinners from my inventory (gotten from the daily FrontierVille bonus and as gifts from neighbors) and well as from turning in about a dozen sunflower collections each time I plant them, I earn about 9,600 XP a day from crops. Combining that with about 30% more XP from bonuses and other sources, I level up every four or five days. As I write this I'm at Level 93 and it takes 50,000 XP to advance a level.
The harvester is a useful tool that you get, along with a similar animal feeder, when you build the blacksmith's shop. It allows you to harvest five units of crops at a time (for five Energy points) and it speeds things up a lot. Used while running the bot, which would also collect bonus points automatically, it would speed up planting and reaping enormously, if someone were to do that sort of thing. I'm sure.
17 March 2011