Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Good Neighbours in the English Countryside

There are some peculiarities in Farmville now with the advent of the English Countryside option. The fact that only the farm on which your Character physically is present is subject to the power of Father Time is one of those peculiarities. The farm where you are not present is 'paused' in every respect but, in addition to this, any Bushels sold at the Market Stalls there no longer will be available to your Friends and Neighbours until you return. Sad to say, time appears to run still for the Market Stalls and upon your return, you may find all of your Stalls empty if the time allotted to each Crop displayed has run out.

Farmers who need Bushels from your Market Stalls in one location therefore may follow your footsteps rather like a Royal entourage... There is an icon now at the bottom of the page in the Neighbours' bar to show where each Character currently is located. The icon of the Union Jack indicates England while the icon of a simple Monopoly-style house indicates the 'Home Farm'. I for one am pleased that Zynga did not become overly political by giving the Home Farm a flag owned by any nation on this earth... after all, 'Home' to each player may be different. 'Good show, Zynga!' as the nameless Duke would declare in his undoubtedly plummy voice. (When he is called 'Duke' in the game, it makes me feel that he is a dog rather than a member of the peerage... after all, no real Duke would be addressed as 'Duke'. He should have a Christian name attached to his Character like all the other residents of the Village. Still, that is a minor point. I think Zynga has done remarkably well in creating the English Countryside landscape.)

To address the actual point of this post, however, ways in which one can be a 'Good Neighbour' now include:

1. Visit both the English Countryside and the Home Farm each time you log into Farmville. Players obviously will spend more time on the Farm where time-ruled actions need to be conmpleted, such as growing Crops or bringing Orchards, Chicken Coops and Crafting Items to 'readiness', but for the benefit of ALL players, it would be a good idea to make certain that some Bushels are available for more than a moment or two at EACH of the Farms.

2. There are actions that only can be undertaken in the English Countryside and these take only a few seconds of a player's time but can benefit Neighbours enormously.

The first of these is a Request for Love Potions to breed Sheep. Although a Player can breed Sheep without the benefit of any Potions, chances of successful breeding are slim and with 5 Potions, any Player can breed two Sheep instantly. One can post a Request for Love Potions every 4 Hours, which would give every Player sufficient Potions to breed a new Lamb once each day at least.

Another way in which to help your Neighbours is by not using the option to feed 10 Bottles to any newborn Lamb instantly. The reason for this is that an announcement will be published at one point in the middle of the feeding process to tell Friends and Neighbours that a new Lamb is growing fast and offering to share Bottles in celebration. If you feed 10 Bottles instantly to your Lamb by choosing the 'Feed Bottles' option after clicking directly on the Lamb, only one notice will be published to the effect that an Adult Ram or Ewe has been bred with an offer to share bottles in celebration. I believe that, should a player hand-feed even one bottle to the Lamb initially and then only feed the Lamb 9 instantly, the notice that the Lamb is growing fast MAY appear before the final announcement that the Lamb has become an adult. This needs to be confirmed, however.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Mystery Seedlings and Magical Trees

Although Orchards have been available in Farmville for some time now, it is only recently that I discovered how addictive the option can be. Unlike Fantasy Kingdoms, which is highly fanciful in terms of Crops and Trees, the Crops and Trees in Farmville are divided sharply into two very distinct categories. There are real Crops and Trees and fantasy Crops and Tree. Oddly enough, despite my love of fantasy, I initially was predisposed to shun the fantasy Crops and Trees in Farmville. I wanted to grow real Crops and create a landscape that was realistic...

There was another consideration here, which was the fact that all fantasy Trees require a Farm Cash investment unless you find one on the feed. This is where the Orchard becomes vital. By placing Trees in an Orchard, a player has a chance of creating a 'Mystery Seedling'. Eight Watering Cans are required to grow a Mystery Seedling after it is placed. You cannot be certain of the identity of the Seedling until you have used the eighth Watering Can. The grown Tree then can be shared with one other player. You either can publish to all friends, all friends of friends, Every one or publish the offer to specific players.

An Orchard can contain a total of twenty Trees. They can be mixed or can consist of Trees of a single variety. When harvested, an Orchard can yield either Watering Cans or a Mystery Seedling as well as coins in every case. Mystery Seedlings can be shared with other players but, unlike an adult Tree produced from a Seedling, can be shared with at least three other players.

Any player who does not own a Fantasy Tree therefore can obtain one either by taking a grown Tree from the Feed or by taking a Mystery Seedling shared by another player. Although an Orchard filled with Fantasy Trees has a better chance of creating Mystery Seedlings that will grow into a Fantasy Tree, it evidently is not guaranteed.

Mystery Seedlings moreover will stack in your Gift Box. If, therefore, you take a number of Mystery Seedlings instead of taking only one and growing it into maturity before you take another, it is almost impossible to judge what will occur when you plant a Mystery Seedling from your stack.

There is a certain rhythm to the process of harvesting and growing Trees. When you harvest an Orchard, you will receive coins and a Mystery Seedling or Coins and a Watering Can. You then have an option to share the Seedling/Watering Can with friends. This places either a Watering Can or a Mystery Seedling on the feed for others to use.

When you plant a Mystery Seedling, you will have the option to publish the fact. There really is no benefit to this, apart from alerting other players to the fact that you are beginning the process of growing one. After you use the fourth Watering Can, however, you will have the option of sharing Watering Cans. This places Watering Cans on the feed for other players. When you have used the eighth Watering Can, the adult Tree will materialise. You then have the option of sharing this Tree with one Friend.

In other words, for every Mystery Seedling you grow, you have an opportunity of sharing Watering Cans with four other players. If your Neighbours harvest their Orchards regularly, it is possible to maintain a fairly decent supply of Watering Cans as well as Mystery Seedlings from the Feed as well as your own Orchards.

Tree Mastery as well as Crop Mastery exists now in Farmville but unlike Crop Mastery, which gives a player additional Bushels, Tree Mastery evidently will not increase your chances of obtaining Mystery Seedlings.

An Orchard frame costs 1000 Coins and requires 10 Bricks, 10 Boards and 10 Nails to complete. A completed Orchard can be purchased for 30 Farm Cash. There is a limit to the number of Orchard frames a player can purchase. This appears to be six. There may be no limit to the number of completed Orchards a player can purchase.

Perhaps some one will correct me on this point, but it is my experience and the experience of other players with whom I have spoken on the topic. 'Mystery Seedlings' ARE mysterious!

The English Countryside

Please note that I have created a little preliminary Guide for the English Countryside which you can access via a tab above this post.

Last night, Farmville finally unveiled its new English Countryside with an initial Quest to take players to their new farms in the 'English Countryside'. Only players who have reached Level 20 can participate in this. It allows a player to have a second farm in a virtual England where special Crops and Animals can be grown and raised.

The initial Quest begins with a little Event.

Look Up in the sky!
Something is coming this way... FAST!
Check it out!

An old-fashioned airship descends towards your land, belching forth steam from a number of holes. You are told to place it somewhere on your farm. Once you have done so, you must buy three Crates in order to anchor it to the ground.

An aviator from the First World War cries out:

By Jove! I've found you at last! I've brought you the deed to...

A Second Farm in the English Countryside
Before we can go to your secod farm, we must fix my airship. Help me drag it to a safe place on your farm!
Place Airship!

The space required to moor the airship is minimal. You can place it almost anywhere. When completed:

Well done! My airship is safe. Tell every one that I've come to take you to the English countryside!

Drop Anchor!
We need something heavy to hold down my airship.
Buy 3 Crates
Place some heavy crates and I'll tie them to the airship!
Get Crate

The cost of the Crates:
150 coins x 3

Reward: 100 XP, 5 FV, 2500 Coins
Brilliant! My airship is securely anchored! I brought some of your local currency. Please accept it with my thanks!

My village is in desperate need of a great farmer. I hope you will accept my invitation!
Unfortunately, my airship was damaged in that rough landing. I'll need Cotton to make patches for it.

You now have a new Quest:

Cotton to It
Plant 50 Cotton
The sooner you plant it, the sooner we're off to England!

Reward: 100 XP, 1 Union Jack, 2500 Coins
Jolly Good! I brought this flag to remind me of home. Perhaps you'd be kind enough to plant it for me.

(The Union Jack will be in your Gift Box, to place or not as you wish. There is no Reward for using it.)

Good Show! We can collect supplies while that Cotton is growing. I'm eager to see you farming in English soil. Let me tell you about it!

The lush soil in the English countryside will help you master crops faster!

You have a new Quest:

A Nice Supplies*

*Odd that the old chap's mastery of English is so flawed here. 'A Nice Supplies' is a peculiar and incorrect usage of the language by any one's standards.

A daring adventure takes preparation! We need supplies!
Buy 1 Cow
We'll need milk for our tea. I'm sure you know where to find some.

Cost of Cow: 300 Coins
Reward: 250 XP, Aviator's Cap, 2500 Coins

Simply smashing! Our larder is well stocked for our journey ahead! You'll need this Aviator's Cap for the trip. To wear your new cap, click on your Farmer, go to the Accessories category, ans select the Aviator's Cap.

We're almost ready to lift off. Invite your Neighbours to wish you Bon Voyage!
When you write home to tell them about our amazing sheep, they will all want to visit!
In my village, you can learn to breed baby lambs and raise them into unique sheep!

You now are expected to organise a farewell party for yourself.

Bon Voyage Party
Getting Ready for Travel! Invite more guests!

Here you have two options. One is to pay for instant departure with 60 Farm Cash. The other is to invite your Neighbours to your Party. If four Neighbours agree to attend, you can leave in four days. If fifteen or more Neighbours agree to attend, you can leave in two days. If thirty-five Neighbours agree to attend or through payment of 60 Farm Cash, you will be able to travel to your second farm immediately.

This is a very clever ploy on the part of Zynga, while not being unfair in the least. Unlike some options in online games that require you to invest real currency, you are not required to do so here. It is only if you cannot withstand the temptation to see your new Farm at once that you will be required to invest. Unfortunately, I am not one of the players who can afford to invest 60 Farm Cash in the journey, so the next step in the Quest will occur in two days.
Travel Now: 35 Guests or Unlock for 60 FV
Travel in 2 Days 15 guests
Travel in 4 Days 4 Guests

Getting the party started.
When you have waited the required amount of time or fulfilled the requirements for leaving instantly, you will be able to travel to the English Countryside:

Duke: We're all ready to go! Finish the party and depart for your new farm!
Go to the English Countryside

Duke: We're all set! Are you ready to visit your second farm? I'll show you how to get there!

A perfect landing~ Welcome to the English Countryside!

Duke: The Village Farm is the heart of the community and every one depends on it. The local Pub, the Dairy and even the sheep pastures grew up around it.

My village is depending on you to make this farm great.
Rebuild it as you wish, master these new crops and don't be afraid to explore. This English Countryside farm is all yours!

When you explore your small farm, you will find that it contains a small stone cottage, Stone Walls, a broken Combine, a ruined Stable, a Pen for animals that is attached to the Stable, an Apple Tree, an Apricot Tree, a Dwarf Almond Tree and two white Sheep. The three Trees and two Sheep are ready for harvest.

The Quest sequences once you reach the English Countryside will be found in the little Guide. There are some general points about this, however, that deserve special mention here.

The English Countryside basically is a player's 2nd Farm, available only after he/she attains Level 20. The reason for this probably is the fact that many of the Quests require crafting. There is no cost for the 2nd Farm, but you will have to pay to upgrade it once you arrive. The first upgrade actually is part of one of the initial Quests.

If you can find surveyors for your Farm, you can pay for upgrades with coins rather than Farm Cash. 'Surveyors' are Neighbours who accept your Request to survey the farm, making the requirement similar to the Neighbour total requirement for upgrades on the Home Farm.

One peculiarity of the Farmville English Countryside is that time will not run at all on the farm you have left. In other words, when you are in the English Countryside, your Home Farm will be 'paused' and vice versa. Crops will not wither, but they will not grow either. Trees in Orchards will not become ready for Harvest, nor will any of your Animals.

There is another twist to this that is very inconvenient for your Neighbours. When your Character is on the Home Farm, Bushels that have been harvested there will be available at your Stalls but, when you travel to the English Countryside, only those Bushels currently displayed on your English Stalls will be available to your Neighbours. In other words, your physical presence is required if you wish to offer Bushels to your Neighbours from a specific farm. This is not really fair to your Neighbours as they cannot control your comings and goings.

A number of little tips have been included in my English Countryside Guide, but there is one general rule to follow: Do not buy buildings for Animals, Storage or any other purpose when you arrive. Most of these will be given to you upon completion of Quests.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Special Seasonal Crafting Recipes

During the Thanksgiving season, each of the three Crafts in Farmville offered options to create two special Seasonal Items. Now, with the St. Patrick's Day celebrations underway in Facebook games, one special Seasonal Item is available for each of the three Crafts once again.

All three use the special Limited Edition Green Roses Crop:

Green Roses:
Cost: 80 Coins
Harvest in 1 Day
XP Gain: 2
Sell for 170 Coins
Possibly no Level Requirement

Green Rose Water
3 Green Roses Bushels
3 White Grapes Bushels

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Lucky Wishing Well and Leprechaun's Cottage

Quests and special festival Collections are some of the new options in Farmville. Each seasonal holiday has its own theme and its own method of giving special limited edition items to players.

For March, it is the St. Patrick's Day theme, with a Lucky Wishing Well, a Pot of Gold and a Leprechaun's Cottage that more resembles a treehouse than cottage. The Wishing Well is particularly entertaining as it is a gambling venture, wherein gold coins thrown into the Well are transformed into items in a Collection. There are four Irish 'collections' attached to the Wishing Well game, each with its own Reward.

The Leprechaun's Cottage is a construction project. When completed, it can be harvested daily for 'gold' in various forms. The Gold can be placed in a Pot to be redeeemed for prizes. For Valentine's Day, the project was Cupid's Castle, harvested for Valentines.

There are other Rewards that are based on daily access to the game. Fuel now is given each day to players for their 'loyalty'. During the Valentine's Day season, there were 12 sequential gifts given each day for 12 days, rather like the 12 Days of Christmas. If you managed to collect all 12 of the Gifts, you would receive a special Valentine Cow.

Quick Money-Making Option in Farmville

The new Greenhouse in Farmville makes it easier for low-level players to increase their income and experience. First of all, in a visit to any Neighbour, a player now has the option to harvest a random type of Crop from the landowner's Greenhouse. Any visitor who harvests in this manner can share the results on his/her Wall, giving another player the option to collect hybrid Seeds.

A year ago, there were few activities for a visitor to another Farm. Now, any visitor can perform the following actions:

1. A total of 5 actions to fertilise or unwither Crops or to harvest from Trees or Animals;

2. Feeding the Chickens in a Coop;

3. Accessing the Animal Trough for Feed;

4. Harvesting from any seasonal Building such as Cupid's Castle during the Valentine season or the Leprecaun's Treehouse during March;

5. Feeding the Pigs in the Pigpen.

Whenever a visitor feeds Animals in a building, he/she will earn Coins and sometimes will obtain another reward, such as a Mystery Egg from a Coop, Animal Feed from the Animal Trough or Slop from the Pigpen. From any seasonal Building, the Rewards are specific to that season and the total will depend on the size of the building. The largest upgrade usually yields a total of 3 items. The smallest will yield 1.