Facebook games are notorious for two things and two things only – filling your wall with pleas from your friends to help build a barn or shoot a mafia traitor or, well, whatever the task of the day is; and stealing peoples’ souls, leaving them a zombified, mouse-clicking corpse.
Having barely any experience with them myself, but having heard plenty of ways that the infamous Farmville serves as a model for these type of games, I decided to spend a slow day at work getting acquainted with one of the newest of these pass-times, City of Wonder.
City of Wonder is Wonderfully Urban
The game presents itself as a hybrid between Sid Meyer’s Civilization and the Caesar series – think Sim City but with armies and technology. You increase your city’s population by clicking on a house whenever it has the “ready” symbol over it, you get money by clicking on farms that have produced goods, and you build entertainment and military buildings to help your city safely develop. Furthermore, each click or new development gives you XP – more XP means more options for your city.
The type of building you select, or good you produce, determines the amount of time each takes to be ready, with shorter intervals tending to yield the most bang for the buck. This gives players something of a choice – if you’ve got some time to kill (like I did), buildings with shorter turnover times allow you to have plenty of clicks to undertake, each with a slightly higher rate of return than the big buildings. If you’re going to be away from the computer for a while, you can pick some of the longer-to-develop goods and items, giving you plenty of time to not worry about the game. Or does it?
Expeditions and Experience in City of Wonder
The trick to City of Wonder is that you can do “expeditions” to other peoples’ cities. While I’m yet to figure out if there’s a way to select who you interact with (it would be nice to beat up on some of my Facebook friends), you’re able to perform three interactions – cultural, trade, and military. Military is fairly obvious – your offense matches up against their defense.
Cultural and trade missions compare your building statistics and the winner gains some resources. What’s more is you can be interacted with while offline, leaving you plenty to be concerned with.
Ahhh, but allies make it all easier – if you have friends on Facebook, they make perfect recruits! Just send them nagging requests and you’ll have a chance of growing your army. Furthermore, as you acquire new levels you’ll obtain gold – gold allows you to buy unique buildings as well as a larger city size, but since it comes so slowly (and there’s so much to buy), Playdom has enabled the option to buy gold for a nominal real world fee.
While I’ve hit something of a slower point myself, as technology takes longer to research (unless one wants to spend some gold…) and my silver stores are never quite as full as I’d like, I’d have to say the game is a great time-killer if you need to take a break between, say, writing articles or applying for jobs. Just don’t get lost in it, or you’ll end up looking around an hour later saying “what happened?”
Basic strategies for City of Wonder
City of Wonder requires either the involvement of one’s friends or the expenditure of real money in order to maximize your effectiveness. This is a brilliant business strategy, but there are tricks that you can use to get the most of your city.
Minimize your use of City of Wonder Gold
For the first few levels you obtain in City of Wonder you get two gold; for the rest, at least until the early 10’s, you only get one. You can always get more gold, of course – but you have to spend real-world cash to buy it! Gold is useful for lots of things; the immediate acquisition of technologies or wonders, the construction of special high-yield buildings, or – most importantly – the expansion of your city.
For most players, its easy to justify spending the cash on expanding your borders early on in order to have a larger city to play with; after all, if the reason you’re playing is to build a true “City of wonder,” then you’ll want to have as much room to build it as possible! Its worth noting that early expansions are cheaper than later ones…And that they require less friends to get.
Instead of pouring Gold into border expansions, check the “My allies” tab – it will list friends of yours that already play! Send them an invite and you can likely find a few friends to help you expand your borders right away. Then, later on, if you still need a larger city its more worthwhile to expend your gold supplies to attain it.
Harvesting Goods in City of Wonder
“Goods” buildings can only be purchased after you reach a certain population; you begin with a few, and unlock the privilege to build more as time goes on. Goods buildings are the most effective way to make money and XP – and they allow you to schedule when you produce goods. A 12-hour option would be nice, but you can schedule time to harvest your goods every 24 hours if you’d like – or every eight, or however.
Leaving your goods buildings un-harvested for too long will cause them go to bad, which is a bit of an unfair way to force you to return to the game earlier. Market buildings are lower income, more-expensive structures that generate pre-set amounts of cash for you, but don’t spoil on you, either. While Goods are more cost-effective, Markets will help you get the silver you need to grow your city.
Don’t Hesitate to Rebuild your City of Wonder
Your population maximum is directly tied to your happiness – and happiness is generated by cultural buildings. This is a direct contrast to housing buildings, which produce population over time but do not have a limit to how many they can produce. The trick, then, is to know when you want to expand your population base (thus allowing you more Goods buildings), and when you need to raise your population to conserve space. The easiest trade you can make, therefore, is to sell some residence buildings and purchase new cultural ones in order to add more people.
Another trick to keep in mind is that, while you want to style a fashionable city, you also want one that is defensible against external threats. Remember, you can be attacked! When you build City Walls, they add defense and take up a small bit of space. One thing you can do is connect them to towers and create an aesthetically pleasing wall that also defends your city!
Lastly, if you find yourself pressed for space, its worth remembering that there are many buildings (such as the Ampitheater) that will take up four squares of space while providing inferior benefits to buildings that can fit in one or two squares. If you truly cannot find space for a new building, look for large ones you can substitute for a cluster of smaller ones; it might not look so great, but it will let you expand your city a little bit more.
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