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
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.
$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