In Defense of KEM and Vehicle Farming – Kinda…The Results and Conclusion

As promised, I have now completed a week of KEM farming, doing my best to follow Safi’s system…which you can find here.  

I begin, by once again stating that I have never really been a donut farmer of any sort, whether it be KEMs or Vehicles (Rat Trap Trucks/Bloodmobiles). I just never thought it was worth the grind, when you consider the value of the time spent.  As I have written about in the past, Life Currency (time) is more valuable than almost anything, especially at my advancing age. And even in my current state of semi-semi-semi retirement (I would retire if I could, and didn’t have another wedding to pay for in February…but still find enough time to golf and tap), I find that I need to affix SOME monetary value on time spent grinding…whether it is for Bonuts (bonus donuts) or the “incredible prizes” offered during the latest TSTO events. (spoken with tongue planted firmly in cheek).

I have to admit…I was surprised by the results. I was equally surprised by how the “new normal” has changed my view on what the term “grinding” means.

In the end…there is a recent change in the game, that may make Donut Farming a thing of the past…or at least not as attractive.

And that thing is??

Railyard Farming (RF).

If…and I say if, (because there is no way to know at this point if the change is permanent), the Railyard has turned into a “Perpetual Donut Factory,” and,  it may very well rival Donut farming for ROTT (Return On Tapping Time).

STOP!!!!!!!  All of you hardcore donut farmers who are going to stop reading right here, to write some prolonged explanation of why “Donut Farming Rocks!!”…please don’t!  There are several qualifiers to this “maybe,” and in the end, I am likely going to still be a fan of “Team Safi” who uses DF in a practical, measured way.

I’ll break down the method…and the results…in as clinical (unemotional and unbiased) way as I can.

IMPORTANT….FIRST OF ALL…This article is meant for someone who is new, or relatively new to Donut Farming.   If you are already at “Level 939+” and have hundreds, if not thousands in Bonus % Multipliers… good for you. You are a TSTO God. Yay. We get it. You are obsessed…and have been obsessed for months, if not years. Whoop. Tee. Do! Strike up the band! Congrats!

This is about starting the process now…perhaps late in the game…and if it is worth the trouble and time to do so. Starting this process at level in the low 200s of level-dom,  I am a good Base-Line Test Case.

****When I started this experiment…
I had 232 donuts in reserve. 
My Bonus % was at 246%
I had 14,400,026 in game cash.

The BASICS…
Breaking down the “best methods” for DF, you need to start with a reasonable amount of cash. As in a few million at the very least. I say this, because unless you are fine with a very measured, slow, and perpetual grinding reality, you will want to generate more than a couple of donuts every 4 hours (the minimum time it takes to run a full cycle of Kwik-E-Mart farming/planting/harvesting).

In my case…I actually started with a little over 14 million in cash.  This was reduced almost immediately to a little more than 10 million, because I had to buy some land, on which to farm, so I could keep the clutter on the periphery of my Springfield. You’ll want to do this for a couple of reasons. First, because DF is butt-ugly…but more important, managing KEMs (placing, harvesting) is best done in a controlled area, away from stuff you actually like.

Safi’s amazing charts lay out the return on investment…and the graduated cost of each KEM. But, for the purposes of time and space here, they start at 220 per KEM, and quickly move up to 14,400 a piece. So yes…placing 50-70 of them will cost you a ton of cash.

Using the XP Collider to Maximize Your Return is a must! However…as you will find out very quickly, it is also an immediate “Donut Deficit” in regards to your final Net Donut Profic (NDP).

In my case, I spent 20 donuts for a week’s worth of boosting. DD-20.

YOUR % MULTIPLIERS COUNT! But there is a cost…
It was clear right from the start, that at just 246% multiplier  factor, I wasn’t going to maximize my return.  But, the CATCH-22 to increase your multiplier, is that you need to SPEND DONUTS to buy things that earn multipliers.  Yes, there are a handful of hidden “freebies” (we’ll cover that in another post), but for the most part, only PREMIUM items give you enough bump, to be worthwhile. However, trying to boost your multiplier, while you are farming, is a fool’s game…(it costs you more donuts than you will earn).

HOWEVER…if you are like me, you may have a ton of Bonus hidden in storage.  I went through every item in my storage, and hit the little “Info” tab, where I was surprised to find a good number of items that earned Bonus %, that I had deemed too ugly or repetitive to put into my town. Satan’s Anvil…ugly…huge…but worth 5% bonus!  Who knew?  (Satan????)

After a half hour of digging and placing, I was able to increase my percentage all the way up to 276.5%. That actually made the difference between earning 4 donuts per cycle and 5 donuts per cycle.   And, the bonus is permanent. So…all is good. I’ll get back to “Buying Bonus” in the recap.

My Method…
In my first KEM Crop/Harvest, before I realized that I had more % hiding in the attic, I placed 60 KEMs, and got 4 donuts in return, upon harvest. Remember, part of the process is selling back the KEMs after you harvest the XP/Cash. The resale value of KEM is the same as all other items, 25% of the purchase price. So if you spend $100,000 on KEM farming, you’ll get $25,000 when you sell them all back. Even after selling back all 60, I ended up with a Net Cash Loss of around $275,000.

Here is Safi’s Chart for the Cost of KEMs
kemfarm06

The key figure here, is that for the first 25, you are going to spend
$75, 770 in cash.
  However, the NEXT 25 will cost you, 360,000.  The same for every 25 after than.  So…in my case, in order to get at LEAST 5 donuts per cycle (one every 12 KEMs harvested), I needed to spend $579,770 in game cash. 

To try and offset that…I started sending ALL of my Springfielders on a 4-hour task (with a handful at 8, because they don’t have 4-hour), and collecting the cash/XP when I cleared them all every 4 hours.  I was able to reduce my Net Cash Loss every cycle, to just a little over $234,000.  In other words…I was spending at a rate of around $47,000 PER DONUT. 

That’s OK if you have a ton of cash… Because, let’s be honest… Other than Land, there is almost NO OTHER USE FOR GAME CASH these days. EA has made it a “cashless society” except that you need cash to buy KEMs, to get donuts.

The NET RESULTS for One week of KEM Farming…


(Full disclosure…I actually missed 2 sessions of sending my peeps on 4-hour earning runs…so the cash outlay may have been reduced by a tad. But, I did farm/cycle every 4 hours, 4 times a day). 

HOLD ON…That Looks GREAT!!  That is a LOT of Donuts!! 
Except…now subtract the “Free Donuts” I received from EA… (15 daily task bonus, and Halloween award). Now subtract the 9 donuts I earned from “Where’s Maggie?” (3 earned with each 48 hour cycle), and most important…Remove the 35 Donuts I earned from the Rail Yard (and yes, I’ll follow up on that).

That is a Net/Net of 104 Donuts,
at a cost of 105, 799 in game cash per donut.

BUT, YOU CAN DO IT FOR “FREE!!!”  as some from Team Safi would argue? (and have). And yes…you can…as long as you figure out your Net Earnings for Sending your Sprinfieldians on 4-hour tasks, and collecting all of your building earnings.  But, in my case, and in the case of most average players, that is going to limit how may KEM’s you can buy, without causing a deficit in your cash. Safi uses the example of 36 per cycle…in my case that earns 2.75 donuts per cycle…and would result in taking more than two days, just to recoup the cost of the XP Collider charge…and as a result,  taking your Overall Net take down to between 60-72 total NET donuts earned for the week.

The Reality of Grinding…
At the top of the article, I made mention of the fact that the past few events have trained us to become 4-Hour Grinders. During an event, and even in some of the episode tie-ins, we “get it all” by doing simple tasks, every 4 hours, at least 4 times a day. Like dogs to Pavlov’s water dish, we have been trained to become semi-automatons, to set our alarms, tap, and go back to “Real Life.”

Ironically, many of us are complaining that the updates are too easy…that you only have to log in for a few seconds (30 seconds to a minute, tops) to perform the task required to earn the currency.  Maybe once a day, you need to cash in your currency, or craft something, or place the prize that you earn. VERY easy…and a VERY small investment of Life Currency.  It is in fact, and amazingly good ROTT. 

To that end, I have become lazy about clearing my town of all of the earned income. I might do it once a day…tops.  I rarely, if ever, send all of my Springfieldians to do 4-hour tasks…because it takes a lot more time to clear them all, and collect the reward.

What I heard time and time again from “Die Hard Donut Farmers” (most of whom have huge stashes of donuts, and Bonus Percentages exceeding 1.000%), is that it only takes them a couple of minutes, TOPS, to complete the harvest/sell/replace cycle…and they earn HUNDREDS of donuts a week…because they took the time to “Buy EVERYTHING” including multiples of every Premium Item that earns a % that they could…just to keep the cycle going.

I can’t even begin to calculate the time invested to get to that level...because it boggles the mind.  And, to all of them saying “it doesn’t take much time,” I say…BULLSHIRT!

Using even the most basic calculation of time…a Premium Item that gives you a 1%-2% bonus, costs somewhere between 75-100 donuts. If you are doing it through KEM farming…that is a week of work. A WEEK. So…someone who has 1,000% has either spent a TON of time…or a TON of REAL MONEY, to get there. Period.

The FASTEST that I could place and collect 60+ KEMS, sell them…and then replace them, was about 3 minutes.  However, that didn’t take into account having to clear all of my Springfieldians from the 4-hour task, as well as clear all of the earnings from the buildings.  Even using the “finder” on the top left, it took at least another 3-5 minutes to clear the characters, and do a full  search of my town to collect every dollar earned… and I was STILL in a deficit cash spending mode.

Instead, during a regular cycle, without KEM farming, I log on for a minute, every 2 hours…(which is far less than I check my phone for news updates these days), do my Rail Yard tasks, and move on. Every other time, I do the additional minute of doing the update/event tasks. And, I am done. No crazy math. No insane levels of land/KEM/XP management…just a lazy, fun way to play the game.

The Final Analysis…
95% of what is being offered by EA in these updates, just isn’t worth any more than a minimal investment of time. If I REALLY see something that I want…that is 100-150 donuts… I will gladly spend the $4.99 to round out what I need to have it, to offset the 40-50 donuts I earn in other ways easily.  That represents about 1/10th of a billable production hour in my REAL life. I’ll just take a pass on the drink after work…or not.

Be honest. What was the last game prize or item that you wanted SO BADLY…you were willing to give up hours of your life to earn?
So…while it may have “only” taken me an additional 20-30 minutes a day to do this…(which is a very lenient estimate), that’s almost 6 hours of time in a week. Six hours you won’t get back. What’s your time worth? I certainly hope it is worth more than a $1 an hour. Because that is what you are “saving/earning” in real currency for the cost of buying donuts.

Time. I can’t stress this enough…is simply worth more than grinding for a week…or even a couple of days. A week’s worth of additional grinding and management for $4,99? Nope. Sorry. I’m just not that TSTO obsessed…or bored.

Rat Trap/Blood Mobile Farming as Time Saver?? – Kinda!

The overarching beauty of Farming Rat Trap Trucks or Blood Mobiles (there is no difference as I’ll show you), is that it is WAY faster. Mostly…kinda.

The math is way more simple…requires a ton less time…mostly…and the results are just about the same, if you are starting with the same amount of game cash.

I’ll do the same exact math, with the same exact cash and multipliers that I used for the KEM farming. The difference is, I can do this in less than an hour…as opposed to 7 days. LESS THAN AN HOUR…

Let’s start with the same 14,400,00o in game cash.
You don’t need a ton of land, because you can buy and sell the vehicles immediately…with no waiting.  So, pick a parcel that will hold 10-15 vehicles and start buying and placing them…selling them back…then doing it over and over again, until you run out of game cash, or hit a level of donuts you want.

In the case of Rat Trap Delivery Trucks…
My game cash would buy me,

CASH START 14,400,000
Rat Trap Delivery Trucks 128 @ $112,500
($150k less  buy back of $37,500)
XP earned 38,055,040
Donuts Earned 76 (@ 500K XP per donut)

And Bloodmobiles have different math…but the same outcome in rewards.

CASH START 14,400,000
Bloodmobiles 145 @$99,000
($132,000 less $33,000 Buy Back)
XP earned 38,054,545
Donuts Earned 76 (@ 500K XP per donut)

In both cases…subtract 5 donuts for the one-day XP Collider Charge…so 71 donuts Net, Net, Net…in an hour, max!

So Vehicle Farming is Waaaaaayyyyyy faster. Right?
Not so fast…
How long did it take to accumulate that game cash?? For me…unless I got into a pattern of sending/collecting/sending/collecting every 4 hours. It could take me weeks to earn another $14 Million.

So…if you don’t have a ton of game cash (less than $5 million) and want to take a longer, but less expensive route, perhaps even growing game cash while earning donuts, FIND YOUR DAILY EARNING LEVEL (Collecting your Rewards from buildings and characters) and don’t spend any more than that each day.  You will slowly, but surely grow your donuts…but, you will need to keep up the grind every 4 hours…for days, weeks, and months. Oh. Wait. Kinda like the rest of the game!

FINAL CONCLUSION…
In the end, either method will pretty much force you to log on every 4 hours…forever.  But, that seems to be the way the game is going anyway, so maybe you’ll just bite the donut, and spend the extra time to earn and burn!

Or…you can just do the Rail Yard…gather your daily challenge rewards (which are more donut-centric in non-event times) and stop sweating the occasional $4.99 for something you think you want.

OK. Bring it on. Convince me I’m wrong. But, for me…I just value my time more than KEM farming…or grinding for game cash, so I can Vehicle Farm. ESPECIALLY if the Rail Yard Donut Factory is a permanent feature. After all…I’m all about the Monorail. Monorail…monorail…monorail! And more donuts…with more rails…keeps me coming back!

Let us know what you think.  We don’t all have to agree…to each his own. Right?

 

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288 responses to “In Defense of KEM and Vehicle Farming – Kinda…The Results and Conclusion

  1. Milhouse in the Brown House

    I just learned about the xp donut farming technique. I was usually pretty strapped for donuts at only five a day from the railyard. And that’s checking in every hour, not every four. I decided to go hardcore and spend a month prepping my best returns from the collider. I only have 200% in bonuses, but my white house collection is up to 4000 units. I’m aware of how crazy that is, but a few months serious effort for a game I’ve been doodling with for years doesn’t seem a big deal. My KEM farming is earning me 30 donuts a day now, and my xp gains from the white houses more than make up for the cost of the collider. I’ll be wasting another few months boosting bonuses to double that. Serious grinding can pay off in a reasonable amount of time if you do the math. I figure three months before I’m up to 60 or seventy donuts per day, and I’ll only need to check in twice daily for a fifteen minute stretch. No more time spent bumbling with the slow returns of the railyard or feeling frustrated by being late for the Maggie quest. Imagine that– being able to send the prime characters on all the quests you never get to see because they have to be open for the railyard! Matt Greoning chasing Homer with a big pencil for 24 hours. I’ve only done it once!
    The news truck, at 40 dunuts, is good for saving space and each one gives 2% bonus. Buying one every other day will put me over the 1000% mark in half a year.
    There’s the real trick. 100 donuts a day for a few months and all the worries are gone. Buy anything that looks pretty and never give it a second thought.

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    • For the love of Groening, don’t buy the news truck directly! Get the Mystery Boxes. Those give news trucks, billboards, and donuts back at a rate that gives you each 1% boost for somewhere around 7-8 donuts on average. You’re currently paying 20!

      FYI my experience: went from about 200% to over 2000% in about 9-10 months. Did 4-5 KEM crops per day. Then stopped bothering with % boost and just built up a rediculous donut stash (40k — yes that’s a “k”) with the plan to replace all my news trucks etc with wailing walls. And of course this Halloween event was the first one not to have wailing walls available! But at least I can now get everything in the game while only playing 1-2 times/day, or even every couple of days. I throw down donuts to get all the premiums and even speed up jobs when deadlines are approaching, then make it back w/ rat trap trucks. Money balance has still drifted up to over $1B.

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  2. I have no idea what the hell most of this means… I just hit level 47 after almost 2 months of playing, and am relatively poor. I only make about 30,000 in a day, maybe more. What is the short answer for making money at my level?

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    • Play regularly.

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    • Buy houses, visit regularly to collect income. Up your bonus.

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      • Level 50 on almost 2 months, I’d say I play pretty regularly.

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        • A simple KEM farm ( I started with 7 on Day 4 ) will move you up the levels fast. Use those donuts to buy 6 donuts Mystery Boxes. I hit level 50 on Day 9 (KEM farm increased to 10).

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          • I normally use them on the xp collided. I spend 25 for 10 days. I currently have 80 donuts. In the mystery box am I really only trying to get the Itchy and Scratchy signs? I have 2 of those, they do give you a big bonus for xp and money. Anything else I can do at my level that is practical?

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          • You get billboards, vans and Lard Lads plus some other items. In the long run it will cost 7.9 donuts per 1% bonus increase. LL produce cash.

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    • Note that character jobs are generally the most lucrative. If you can play hourly, send them on 1-hr jobs through the day, then 8-hr overnight. Next-best timing is the 4-hour jobs, which also has the benefit of aligning with the KEM farming.

      As you accumulate donuts, re-invest as many as you can into %-boosters. The Mystery Box gives the best return there, on average.

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  3. Well, I’m giving this KEM farming a chance. I have to say I do get the appeal. I’ve gone up about 100 levels in just 4 or 5 days. Still working on trying to find my break even point. Seems to be around 48 KEM 3 times a day.

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  4. I loved every word of this article. It was genuine and well written with the math to back it up . I just started rail yard farming and it’s just way more chill and you can send the rest of your people on tasks to make cash or finish quests/event tasks so you can get those rewards to and build up the money to bloodmobile farm if you really need the donuts in a pinch or to simply buy more land. This game is meant to be fun and everyone has their own level of intensity with games and their own idea of what fun is, just don’t forget to enjoy yourself.

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  5. I finally realised that I can use my crazy amount of In Game Cash to get some donuts. I had been considering KEM Farming, but it is awfully UGLY and I like my town looking nice. After I read your article I decided on Bloodmobile Farming. I bought 24 hrs of XP booster and got to work. It was great EXCEPT that on my 2nd run of buying the vehicles and collecting donuts I got the “Sorry, cannot connect to server” error message…End result lost all those donuts and out the cash, too 😦

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    • You lost the cash or the donuts, not both. Happened to me also, that is why I limit (under 10) the number of rat trap trucks I buy at the same time. On the other hand, while KEM farming I got twice the number of donuts when it happened (awarded, exited, return and awarded again). It helps not to have too many choice boxes waiting in the queue.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Thanks for taking time to think it out! The increasing purchase price and decreasing sell values for KEM farming skew the value even more.
    I prefer the Bookmobile.
    Buy 4; earn XP; sell 4 back; paid for 3 or cost in dollars = 300,000
    Quick increase of XP and less my time spent.

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    • I apologize: I doubled the purchases and sale prices of the burning book mobile but the result of pay for 3 and bought 4 still applies…

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  7. I really liked your article Patric. I shared it with my wife, who is not a TSTO player. I like playing once a day and then bloodmobile-it when I hit 10-15 million.

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