Don't Pay to Play! - A Beginner's Guide to FarmVille: Tropic Escape
Once upon a time, the farming sim genre was a sleepy, quiet, relaxing experience, as high on sentiment as it was on strategy. Much has changed in the days since games like the original FarmVille stormed the scene and made a killing on the mobile platform. Now it's exciting to get stuff done and to get stuff done faster.
Well that's fine! Half the fun is getting stuff done with the highest efficiency you can manage - using both your time and your supplies well.
However! Zynga doesn't make the big bucks just by giving you games for free... micro-transactions are the name of the game in this market, and if you want to avoid spending cash as much as possible, take a look at the tips below to play your best without breaking the bank!
1. Try to keep at least one of each type of crop.
Every time you plant it, it doubles. Most crops are ingredients for multiple recipes and can be used to feed to your animals so that they can hunt and gather for you. You can buy more if you run out, either using gems (not recommended) or through other players who sell off anything they've got in excess.
Whenever possible, always have something growing on your farmland. Buy more whenever you can. This will fill up your inventory rather quickly, but -- especially in the beginning, you'll be using all of it fairly rapidly too.
2. Sell off what you don't need immediately.
Get yourself acquainted with the merchant boat which connects you with the buy and trade functions in this game with other players. Pick a club, join, the game will rotate you and a few random matches so that you can look at what they're selling. These refresh every few minutes.
Whenever your inventory starts getting high in your silo and boathouse (It will.), try to sell as much as you can of any excess (usually in the realm of 20+). If you're not using them or filling orders with them immediately, sell them off. The orders you have to fill tend to be cyclical. You'll go through periods where you won't see a single sushi roll, and then a few hours later will realize your rice plantation is barely keeping up with demand.
Try to hang onto the completed recipes if you can (e.g. pina coladas, etc.) and just sell off fruits, fish, and crops, because these will take much less time, effort, and ingredients to make back again when you need them.
Be careful about accidentally tapping the "add extra sell slots" buttons if you're high on gems. (You're going to start the game with a decent amount of them.) Tapping it once will automatically buy it, and you don't really need that many slots, particularly when you're just starting out. You'll probably want to invest them in something else. (e.g. getting more fruit trees will eventually start costing gems instead of coins).
3. Keep a healthy stock of simple ingredients and recipes.
Very early on, you'll recognize that many of the big recipes will take a few ingredients that already require some preparing. It's a good idea to keep a good amount of these items handy (e.g. steamed rice, pineapple slushies) because once you start clogging up each of your workstations with bigger recipes (that take more time to make), you're more likely to get bottle-necked.
Waiting on a 20-minute sushi roll to finish making at the Sushi Bar so that you can make a few bowls of 30-sec steamed rice that you need for a bowl of fried rice from the Grill will get annoying. Whenever you have a workstation free, get them working on stuff you know you're going to need. Pineapple slushies and ceviche to get your guides exploring for new ingredients, orchid perfumes, sugar, etc. You're going to need them.
4. Buy new workshops as soon as you can.
To fill the orders you need, you're going to need new equipment. This includes workshops, animals, trees, and crops. Outfit yourself as you level up as well as you're able to, and this will streamline the process whenever you come up on a time limit to an order with extra special rewards.
On the flipside, you don't need extras when they start costing blue gems in order for you to outfit your island. As is, you'll find that you'll rarely run into a situation where it won't take very long to farm normally or that you won't be able to find anything on the marketplace sooner or later (e.g. extra mango trees).
5. Try to spend only coins.
The game tosses a number of different types of "currency" at you, which you can use to either buy something, try extra rounds with the treasure chests in the Sunken Temple, or use to speed up an action.
Like most games, Tropic Escape has a bunch to give you of each type (i.e. blue gems, hourglasses, sunshine) at the very beginning of the game, and it can be very convenient to use these up. As you continue though, these are rewarded less and less, and you're encouraged to buy your speed-ups.
Save what you can for instances where you're in a bit of a time crunch (e.g. a rush order with an upcoming deadline you really want to meet), or when there's a daily challenge that awards prizes for using one of these items to speed up your actions a certain number of times. The rewards are greater, and you gain more than just time.
6. Don't complete the checklists just to complete the checklists.
The second button on the bottom right is a series of challenges the characters on your island offer for you to complete for extra rewards. Try to complete these, but don't go out of your way to complete them. Filling customer orders from the announcement board are the highest priority, and without time limits, you will eventually fill these challenge checklists just by doing it.
Unless you have a timed, daily challenge that you really want the rewards for, it doesn't net you a great deal to create a bunch of stuff that's just going to sit in your very limited inventory, or you'll be forced to sell off for a rather tiny sum of money relative to the time and work that you need to put into it.
7. Upgrade whenever you can.
Expand your island whenever you're able to. Every new patch will award you experience and probably some hidden treasures. Cleaning up piles of rocks and stumps will further get your more money and experience.
Visit the Sunken Temple often. Every few hours you will get a free "spin" and it's okay to spend coins on opening an extra chest, particularly if there's an upgrade item in there that you need.
Hang onto your upgrade equipment if you can, because it takes a lot of different stuff to get more space in your silo and boathouse, and having it is always welcome whenever you've got a lot of different orders to fill.
8. Take a break.
There's only so much multi-tasking you can do, and at some point all you're going to be able to do is wait. Don't worry, everything will still happen without you. This game is not easy on your battery life. Take a load off when you can.
If you have any other thoughts on how to get someone started on building up their perfect island paradise, feel free to let us know!