KEM Farming and Bonus % Recap – Balancing The Bonus with Quality of Life

Let’s start with a couple of basic facts about how/why I play…

I have been an ardent tapper since Oct. 2012. That is, as of this writing, a full 5.5 years… or 65 months of tapping.  I am 64 years old. I will not be retiring anytime soon, if ever…and have a huge, rich, full, life of family, work, volunteer and social service, as well as a wide range of recreation and travel (mostly to see my kids and grandkids), while still finding time to binge-watch waaaay too much media, play a little golf, AND Play/Blog TSTO.

What that means, is that I have to be very efficient with my time, and make sure that every minute is spent getting the most out of every bit of time I have left. I want a productive, purpose-driven life, with enough leisure time remaining. What that also means…is that I can’t/won’t let TSTO get out of balance in my life.  I blog, expressly to keep things alive for our work in Buyijja, Uganda. If that stops…I stop blogging.  I also play TSTO because I still enjoy designing my town…and interacting with people around the world. That’s it.

However...I have come to a ton of conclusions about KEM/House/Donut/Percentage farming…and how it has affected the way I play, as well as how much time I am willing to dedicate to the game, especially in light of a couple of serious deficiencies in TSTO overall.

Yes. This is directed at EA, as well as those who may very much dislike what I am about to write. But will hopefully add a sense of perspective to your grinding options.

I have become a casual KEM Farmer, using Safi’s methods (which I will recap later in this post).  I thought that I may consider dumping this method, after I tested the “RatTrap” method, which is used by a great number of players, including Ebron and other “Gold Standard” designers, who want all of the Premium Stuff…without the hassle of grinding for donuts. Until I tried it…

Because…no matter how you do it…you are going to Grind, if you want free donuts. You are either going to grind KEM farms, or you are going to grind for game cash in order to blow a wad on RatTrap Trucks…but, you are going to grind.  And let’s be fair to EA…it SHOULD be a grind to get something for Free (which is taking away from their revenue, the life-blood of keeping the game alive).

Bottom line…if everyone grinds for Free Donuts…the game dies. Think of it like a living entity that needs to be fed, but the parasites suck more resources (donuts) than it can replenish from the intake of sustenance (real dollars).  It’s gonna die…slowly. But dead, is dead. So, yes…I have mixed reactions about free donuts of any kind.

That said, EA has made it possible, and they are certainly aware of the plethora of players who are “gaming the system” to play for free. So, yes…they are culpable in their own deficiencies.  My guess, is that their base code, and the fact that there is “unlimited storage” in our storage units, is creating a lot of the recent server issues. But, that is another topic…

What I am going to focus on in this post, is my opinion as to “Farm/Grind” or not to “Farm/Grind.”

The basic answer, despite my concerns about EA and TSTO’s longevity, is YES! Yes you should do something that offers you free donuts…even if you have to grind.

Why?  Because…EA has created an almost endless cycle of 4-hour grinding anyway, for almost every event, with no real breaks or downtime. So you might as well make your 4-hour grind pay off.  That is actually why I started KEM farming and grinding for Bonus % increases. Grinding is grinding…it’s what you grind for that matters.

Up until EA started making the events excruciatingly long and grind-tastic, I was actually happy to drop some real money here and there for donuts, if I wanted a Premium item.  There are loads of Premium items I passed on…because I actually had to weigh out the value of real money, against an item that basically doesn’t really exist (sits on a server that can be turned off at any time).

Now, because it is so easy to grind for donuts, and I am forced to grind anyway, I have as many donuts as I need, for any Premium item I want. I still pass on a lot of Premium stuff that doesn’t fit into my town…but, what I get is Free.

Add to this the fact that because EA’s code is obviously inefficient, and it appears to be virtually impossible to re-write the legacy code on which the game is based, Item Limits are likely here to stay.  After playing the game for 5.5 years (even without doing the “Bonus % Farming” that takes up a lot of space and “item ticks” in your total item tally), you are going to start running into limitations if you design with any flare for detail (trees, flowers, shrubs, decorations) at all.

So yes…I have a sense that TSTO is in its “Twilight Period,” and they can’t do a lot different than what they are doing right now. Long…somewhat boring…simple events, that keep people from rushing, but keep them grinding (addicted), in the hopes that they get enough out of the game to drop a few dollars (or be forced to do so, as we have seen with some of the Premium characters that can only be purchased with REAL dollars when buying a block of donuts).  I get it. And, I don’t fault EA at all for doing this.

So, yes…I DO think you should grind. But, within reason. I feel strongly that the full value of TSTO comes from not only being able to “get it all,” when an event happens, but actually being able to find the time to design your town with what you have acquired.  It’s the difference between an “antique collector” who displays their collections in their home, adding beauty and aesthetics to their surroundings, and a hoarder, who just piles things up into heaps, and can’t help but adding to the pile…and adding…and adding…and adding. Piler and ploppers…all end up with the same pile of garbage. Even if the tallies look cool on a spreadsheet.

Moderation. It’s the key to happiness in all endeavors.

So…that brings us back to Quality of Life -vs- Quantity of Clutter. Or the difference between enjoying what you have, and never being satisfied with “enough.”

RECAPPING FARMING METHODS…
and Why You Have To Care About Bonus % Totals

KEM Farming
Once again…to do this “The Safi Way” you need to do 3 things every 4 hours.
1. Clear your town of all rents/rewards jobs (from 4-hour cycle of character jobs)
2. Send all available characters on 4 hour cycle
3. Clear/Collect and replace the KEMs that you are farming, collecting the donuts for your work.

TIME. I don’t care how fast you think you can do this…but, I have timed myself repeatedly as well as done a video in real time on this…it takes no less than 6 minutes, and can take up to 10 minutes (depending on events, RailYard farming etc.). You can do 4-5 4 hour cycles a day (I do, 6a-10a-2p-6p-10p on a perfect day). That is an investment of at least, 25- 5o minutes per day. In and out…nothing else…no designing…just farming. Add to this, any additional grinding you need to do for an event…and even a modicum of decorating time, and you have 1-1.5 hours a day. Every day. To get “Free” stuff.

This is so you can get “Free donuts” which can be used to buy Premium Items…or Mystery Boxes to increase your Bonus %.  I am hovering between 370-380% currently. I earn between 30-40 donuts per day this way. That is not quite 7 tries at the Mystery Boxes…or One purchased  News Van at 40 donuts for 2% increase.

Do the math. Unless you do better at Mystery Boxes…which have been proven to return approximately 7% bonus per 10 boxes bought (60 donuts), at that rate, you need to earn 10,000 donuts to increase your Bonus by 500%. Holyfreakinshirt…that is a LOT of donuts…and a LOT of time. 

RatTrap Trucks/BloodMobiles for “Quick” Returns
I have read about loads of folks who want nothing to do with Donut Farming with KEMs.  I get it…it is a grind.

However…let’s be honest about it…unless you have a substantial Bonus XP multiplier, and a house farm or two or three, you are STILL going to be grinding in order to earn 15m-30m to buy enough RatTrap Trucks or BloodMobiles (they actually have almost identical payouts, but one RTs cost 150K and BMs cost 132k EACH).

As I found out when I was grinding for cash so I could buy the Damn Dam (which costs $20M in game cash) it took me approximately 10 days of grinding every 4 hours to do this (5 cycles per day- 4 hour character tasks).  So roughly 15 days to get $30M.

TESTING RTTs – In my case, the test I ran, was 10 RatTrap trucks…for a cost of $1.5M…which yielded 3 attempts at 3 donuts (because I am over level 939) with the XP Collider turned on. So…even if I just turned the XP collider on for one day, that is a net cost of 5 donuts against my final total. So, yes…I wouldn’t want to do this until I had at least $30M in game cash.

Here’s Why…
$30M will get me 200 RTTrucks. If I am great at guessing a pattern (which I am getting better at), I could earn as many as 180 donuts this way (less the 5 to turn on the XP Collider).  I would get back $750K in game cash when I sold back the RTTrucks (they sell back for $37,500 each), so you would still have some game cash left over (as long as you didn’t need it for guessing when you missed the right box for 3 donuts).

HOWEVER..the bottom line for me currently, at 373.35% Bonus, is that it takes too damn long to grind for the $30M. I don’t want to house farm…they are ugly blights. And as I said, if I can earn 30-40 donuts a day KEM farming (combined with XP bonuses for clearing my rewards and rents, and Railyard farming), I can earn the same 180 donuts in a little less than 6 days. Usually, a lot faster.

So…for me?  It’s KEM Farming WHEN I FEEL LIKE IT…or there is something worthwhile to get.  I am never going to have a huge, amassed pile of donuts in reserve, because I am not willing to do the extra work/grinding for XP bonuses, and a constant stream of donuts.

Why? Because there is more to life.

I admit that I have always chosen to live a life this is “Wide” in experiences, rather “narrow and focused” on making money. It is also why I will be working at something until the day I croak. It’s just the way I’m wired. I have too many interests, too many diversions, and prefer to keep my hands in too many pies to focus on “just one thing” (which is kind of the key to being wealthy).

It is also the way I play TSTO, and have continued to enjoy it for 5.5 years. I just go with the flow…and don’t freak out about having to have “X” in my accounts, or X% Bonus.

My town is nicer than any XP Grinder I have ever seen…and I KNOW I have a broader life.

So…what’s the answer?

There is none.  Everyone plays the game the way that suits them best.  For me, if you are going to emulate a player, it would be one like Ebron, who slowly worked up to a decent Bonus…but also spends the majority of her TSTO time designing and having fun.  She RTTruck harvests when she decides she wants to…and pulls a bunch of stuff out of storage to maximize her bonus rewards…then puts it back when she is done. BOOM! Logical…and moderated. And, her town is gorgeous!

So…play the way you want. There is no right way…just YOUR way.

For your edification, if you want more info on this topic…Here are Quick Links to All of the Stories Written about Farming…along with more charts, videos, and models than you can shake a donut at!

In the end…remember that the most valuable commodity you have in life is your time.  You don’t get it back… “Life Currency” is irreplaceable and more valuable than any reward you could ever get from TSTO. Use it well.

Here are links to some of the best articles and resources about Bonus % and KEM Farming

From the Mouths of Addicts: Kwik-e-Mart Farming for Free Donuts!

Bonus Percentages – The Fertilizer in Donut Farming

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

Friday Filler – Time Management, KEM Farming and “Springfield Jobs” Tips

The Final Definitive Beginner’s Guide to KEM and Bonus % Farming

ROI on Premium Decorations and Buildings

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40 responses to “KEM Farming and Bonus % Recap – Balancing The Bonus with Quality of Life

  1. Time to sell the farm…lol. EA has capped the in game cash at $4,294,967,295. When you reach the limit you get some dialog between Homer and Professor Frink indicating such and any more collecting may “destroy us all!”. Then a note from EA indicating the game’s currency limit is reached and that you should buy a “Sit-N-Rotate or a few thousand Bloodmobiles”. The currency counter turns red and does not accumulate any more cash. Once you spend down some cash you can accumulate back to the limit.

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  2. Along this topic line (because I cannot find an answer anywhere else), is there a limit to in-game cash? Some older posts noted a change to a negative number when the 32bit signed integer limit was reached (2,147,483,647). It appears this deficiency has been corrected by EA within the last year as I have passed this milestone and have a correctly formatted cash score and I have not seen any further complaints. I was grinding out cash just to see the incorrect display and was mildly disappointed to see the cash value displayed correctly past this limit. So I kept grinding and am now hovering just below the unsigned 32bit integer limit (4,294,967,295). Curious if EA code will stop allowing banking of cash or incorrectly rollover the counter back to 0. Or has EA moved the cash counter to an impossibly high top limit like a 64 bit signed integer?

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    • No idea……………..
      But, the real question is, “what are you going to do with all of that money???????”

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      • Well I was hoping that the 3rd item in “Road to Riches” would be crazy priced like 1 or 2 billion, but EA has left the “Coming Soon” sign up on it for a long time….
        I am converting a lot to donuts with the Rat Trap Truck method. Just takes time. Current conversion cost for me is around $27000 per donut and I get around 1400 donuts per hour of grinding. That converts to about 110 hours of grinding “work” to have 154,000 donuts I would never spend.
        Mostly I am just amusing myself to test the game limits. I literally buy everything that pops up now whether cash or donuts.
        Once I know this cash limit I am going to just Nuke and try to create a pleasing layout without any house farm that got me to this point.

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  3. Keith1Roon991

    Balance is good, I kem farm twice a day, rail yard and collect all the currency while doing that, at the end of the day i send all my characters on 12 hour tasks, current donut count 620, with 29million in game cash, when I hit 30mil I sometimes use 10mil on rat trucks farming.

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  4. I wrote a very long comment early this morning but it didn’t get posted do to problems with my WordPress acct. they want me to post this to see if I’m good to go now.

    Like

  5. Great article Patric. Thank you. I’ve been KEM farming for a couple of years. I’ve been able to buy……everything. I have a glut of over 5000 doughnuts now, and I’m taking a well deserved break from KEM farming. I will start farming again if need be.

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  6. Justin Henriks

    I agree Patric, I am busy with work and a little family so life balance is important. I find the tiki bars a good alternative to the rat trucks as I can place many of them down as they are much smaller. I do this every so often and occasionally buy donuts when there is a character included to keep the developers doing their jobs. It all has to be a balance.

    Like

  7. Re – the server issue
    Perhaps if EA would let us sell everything that is put into storage, wouldn’t that clear out some of their own storage/server problems?

    Re – KEM farming
    I don’t do Safis method as I don’t have the time or patience! I prefer to build as many KEM’s as space will allow and blow the entire budget over a few days. Then take a few months building up the cash again and then repeat

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  8. is there a way to check your current item count? i dont really decorate my town, i would farm all the way to 10000% if possible, but im not sure how many more items i can place

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    • You really don’t know until they start giving you a warning around 7900 items or so. If you haven’t seen the warning, you are good to go!

      Like

  9. With regards to grinding for donuts, I’m apparently spending even less time than Patric. I’ve done away with the Railyard long ago. I do my daily Find Maggie, send all characters on 12h jobs in the morning and on 8h jobs over night, collecting their income and that from buildings twice a day. I’m building 20 KEMs every four hours if it fits my schedule, usually resulting in 3 donuts per day (with 382% bonus). Every six or so weeks I get 5 donuts from Sideshow You (I play it twice a day, so 100 games take 50 days). Other than that, I collect money up to about 200mil, turn on XP Collider and spend an hour or two to burn all money on RTTs down to 50mil., yielding very roughly 100 donuts per 10mil. Since I earn about 1mil/day, I can blow 300mil per year and earn 3000 donuts from that alone. Add 1 per day from Find Maggie, 3 from KEM farming, 0.1 from Sideshow You (5 donuts/50 days) and that’s another 1495 per year. On top of that are occasional donuts from tapping neighbor towns, EA gifts and daily challenges, say, at the very least 10 per month or another 120.

    That’s quite enough for me for not too much time spent. And it fits very nicely with the 4h cycle in the recent events.

    Like

    • Balance…moderation…both parts of a happy life! So many ways to play, it’s all about finding the right one for you. And it sounds like you have!

      Like

  10. The statement regarding “unlimited storage” creating “server issues” is a pretty bold one. The storage is just that, a counter attached to all the items in the game. Even for those items that are not visible in the inventory there has to be such a counter, in order to indicate whether it is supposed to be invisible. Inventory is a basic structure of the game and the number of items a player “owns” doesn’t matter at all (apart from moderate additional memory requirements from the constant increase of the number of items added to the game by EA, of course).

    The individual game design needs to be stored somewhere, but that’s also basically just a two-dimensional grid with a map of positions and object identifiers. The most objects that can be mapped are exactly the number of grid pixels for 1×1 objects. In reality, the number of objects in a game is much lower due to larger average object footprints.

    What actually causes some stress in the game is rendering the animated town for on-screen display, but that is solely the job of the user’s device and the game’s performance suffers from device limitations.

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    • Marc, you make some good points. However…in a referential DB, EVERY item…large or small…represents a set of code that has to be stored. It isn’t just an on/off…but a referential code for each item. If you allow unlimited storage of even small bits of data, it adds up if you are scaling for millions of players. Yes…there is also a limitation on how many animated items the code can handle and still be scalable for the majority of devices. But, there is no common sense to exacerbate the problem with unlimited storage….and to complicate it even more, by not allowing a large number of items to be sold back.

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      • If the DB has been designed correctly each item will have a numeric identifier, the number you have in storage will also be a number. The numbers will likely both be 32 bit integers. Thus each separate item in your inventory will take up 8 bytes of storage regardless of how many of an item you actually have.

        If there are 10000 different items in the game and you had one of each, that’s still only ~80kb of data, 1000000 players would mean = 80Gb of inventory data. That is basically tiny and well within the capabilities for a cloud service provider to handle.

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  11. I just recently picked this game back up I was playing it around 4 years ago when I lost my password and couldn’t log back in. Some of my friends who played along with me stoped playing and that was the end of it. 2 years later I found it during the holloween event. I loved it again and I played it often with no body else but It was still fun. The spy event knocked me out one more time and i found I wasn’t playing the game for a period of two weeks at a time.the homer poloza evnt came around and i deleted the game due to “useless storage”. I picked it back up last month and have been loving it, i even bought donuts, and it is a really fun game. I just feel like all the half ass events that they have been doing and the lack of friends all over has drained the game. I remember back in its prime when I could put my name on the friends page and get about 50 friends just in that day. Now you get about 3 a week:(. I’m not really sure why I made this text expect for the fact that the game has so much potential and it feels like EA has given up. For example I haven’t seen an add for this game in about 3 years and you never hear about anyone talking about it. I might post this on the weekly streaks to see if people have any ideas on how to bring the game back and show some support I feel almost no one likes the game anymore and it’s just a ghost of what it used to be.

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  12. I played for 3 plus y ars before I became a farmer. In that time I paid over $200 for donuts. And spent hundreds of hours grinding. I became a farmer the day they introduced the final levels and the game went wacky and I leveled up to max level in one day (maybe one hour). At that point, I felt the game was “done” or “complete”. I VERY VERY MUCH MISS THE LEVELS AND THE ANTICIPATION of a new level release coming. The game lost its appeal to me as I don’t look forward to the events like I did the levels. At that point I needed something to keep my interest so I tried farming. (In moderation). But to be honest I likely would have quit playing the game if I was not farming so ea would not have earned any more money from me either way. I paid $200-300 to play this game to the point where farming was worth my time. So I don’t feel bad. I think it’s hard for new players to only farm. It took me 2-3 years and several hundred dollars to get to a place where I could farm without too much time or grind. I imagine many like me would not spend more on the game at this point either way so other than having us cluttering the server they aren’t really “loosing” money on us. New players probably more likely to pay real $. Like I did. I would be sad for the game to die but it’s jist not that fun anymore with long events and no levels to look forward to and since not much new is there for us anyway why would we pay real money at this point (I do think the donut characters for real money are a great idea). Just some random thoughts…

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  13. Just wanted to say thanks for thinking that I am “emulate-able” (don’t think that’s really a word), but really…I think everyone must be sick to death of hearing the name “ebron”. Every tapper has their own way of tapping…it doesn’t have to be artistic, or time efficient, or great in any of a million ways we judge ourselves. It just has to be fun. One of the things I love about this game is that, for a hour or so, while we’re tapping, there’s no competition…no judgement…just a break from the stresses we all put up with everyday. If you’re now stressing that your town isn’t pretty enough, or your xp% isn’t high enough, or your doing farming wrong…then you’ve brought all that mess into your fun space and it needs to go. I’m happy that so many of you really like my town…but now go out there and just do what you like, have fun and quit with all the “best” nonsense. There is always someone out there who can do whatever we all do, better…that’s life, and actually I think it just makes the world a more interesting place.
    That said…I need to go tap…my 4 hours are up and donuts wait for no man (or tapper). 😄

    Liked by 6 people

  14. hassenpfeffer

    I’ve reached a point where I wouldn’t exactly call it “grinding” anymore. I still keep up with events, mostly because I enjoy the sense of urgency they provide, and getting all the free stuff from the events. For day-to-day stuff, I do brief periods of grinding, but only when my donut supply runs low. Otherwise, I just play… and do whatever I feel like doing at the time. Sometimes that means building, sometimes beautification, sometimes just popping in to clear a few things. And when I need donuts for something, I mini-grind to get what I need, or to replenish what I spent.

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  15. I am a tired Tapper.. If this Logout event that’s happening tomorrow truly is some kind security fix I’m probably done! Struggled through this event with the glitch, makes it an extra long grind.

    No Glitch fix tomorrow I tap out.. Would be a perfect chance for EA to fix this mess. My hopes where but now there down. Not that I deserve any but will say my goodbyes within a few days.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Dear EA,

    What he said ☝️.

    Sincerely,
    Pir8Monkey

    Like

  17. Good blog.
    (1) Hit the 7800? item limit. I have an iPad Pro 10.5 and it doesn’t appear to have caused any problems. Question: if you have an iPad Pro, how many items did you find started causing you problems.
    (2) An alternative view. At about 2000% I feel you can stop KEM farming. With XP collider constantly on, you can earn enough donuts from just collecting rent from moving around your town (like you would to tap on the Justice Agents). Using those extra donuts to buy Apple trees, benches, police cars, whales, etc to increase your return without having to hide bonus items. At that point you will not longer be “grinding” except for the events.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It doesn’t have anything to do with your device. The limits are hard limits place by EA to meet the average device requirements.

      Like

      • The current item limit is 10,000 according to a EA forum comment. But you start getting warnings earlier. How it effects your game (visual glitches, slow down, ???) depends on the device you are using. I’ve noticed that some neighbors take longer to download than others. I assume that is because of the number of items in their towns.

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  18. brandonhunt868

    Well said. I’ve been KEM farming for a couple of years, and am at the point where I have more than I need for everything. I will add that every six months or so, I pay for some donuts, whatever amount I feel the game is worth to me. That way, I hope EA feels it’s worth keeping the game going and to put some thought into the events.

    Like

  19. We get it that this game is just for leisure! You don’t have keep reminding everyone to have a life lol and besides, based on my observations in this “community” you’ve built on this website, I can say that the average player in here is somewhat around the age of 30-60 😂😂 Jesus christ am I even the only millennial here at the age of 20 who plays this game??

    Like

    • No. But your penchient for not living a life of balance makes you the arch-type for your demographic.

      I get it. At your age you have decades of time to burn before you need to start valuing your time!
      😵🔨

      Like

  20. After the Town Tour featuring Ebron’s town I posted a comment saying that I could not afford to have such a lovely town with everything. You suggested farming which I was dead against at the time as I felt it was cheating.
    Since that time I have tried both blood mobile and KEM farming and this was mainly so I could get all the London buildings in the current event. I certainly would not have got everything I wanted if I had not given it a go.
    I tried blood mobiles first and my game cash went down from about 138 million to about 50 million. This is when I decided to give KEM farming a go.
    I was finding that I was using my whole tea break at work to do the collect, sell, build again routine. I have since changed to a 12 hour routine which allows me to send people on 12 hour jobs, build more KEMs, but they obviously remain built but not collected for a while.
    My level has gone from about 280 to 850 and I have a bank of about 500 donuts.
    I think Ebron’s way is my favoured way of getting what I want as I also don’t want everything just some things I really like. I think I will probably go back to saving up and when there is something I really want I can afford blood mobiles to quickly earn enough to buy it..
    Also I would like to wish you luck with your latest Buyijja project .

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  21. I think everyone else should spend as much money as they responsibly can buying premium currency in TSTO, so that I can continue playing freemium style and not have to worry, lol

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  22. Good read, donut farming can be quite the investment. It took me a while to reach my current bonus (1300%). I don’t bother increasing it much anymore because I have enough to buy whatever I want (And I’m not a completionist).

    Plus, every billboard and news van placed edges you closer to the item limit.

    Like

    • It seems that the real target for balanced happiness comes by hitting the 1000% mark. I just don’t have the time or the patience. But, I get it…life is EAsy street after you do!

      Like

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