April 27, 2010

New "Top Mafia" Page is NOT Live


Edit:
This has been reverted to the old system. Hurray!


Shortly after the introduction of Paris and robbing in all cities, the Top Mafia page has undergone a major stealth change, as I am sure many of you have noticed:


On this page you can promote mafia members to one of four tiers: Captains (holds 2 members), Lieutenants (holds 4 members), Enforcers (holds 6 members), and Street Thugs (holds 6 members). If you have an entire tier filled with players, you can collect a bonus item every 24 hours (per full tier). Unfortunately, the bonuses do not seem to be very good; I received 30 xp and 2 mid-level boosts as rewards.

The catch is that only "active" players (I am guessing they have to log in at least once every few days) will count, so good luck filling your street thug tier with active players who have to be under level 19! Don't worry though; you can send players who are MIA messages so that they will log in:

Hey "The Beast", mind logging in to I can collect my 30 XP bonus?

At any rate, aside from a few lame bonuses and the 3 achievements associated with the Top Mafia slot, there doesn't seem to be much use from the top mafia. You can see that a function called "Street War" will be in game soon and will somehow make use of this new system.

---

Okay, now onto the elephant in the room. All your old Top Mafia bonuses are gone! That means each job now costs 11% more energy and pays out 11% XP! Combine that with the fact that you can no longer get Top Mafia Wheelman or Top Mafia Mastermind bonuses and we end up with a pretty big job XP nerf.

This goes for all jobs in all cities. But hey, you get a few chances a day to get a boost or 30 XP, who cares about losing 22% efficiency?

Seriously though, if this stays as is, this is a major game change. You will no longer be able to level up energy accounts. This may not seem like a big deal at first, but this essentially cements in the "status quo" of the game. Most of the more serious players already have very high level energy account(s) and possibly a high level fighter account. These accounts were built by taking advantage of synergistic game mechanics, and now new players will no longer be able to take advantage of this.

Why is this important? Because new players will never be able to catch up to high level players unless some new system comes in that will allow players to torch through old cities and get 1000 attack / defense accounts within a few months. Otherwise, any new player just won't stand a chance and will end up quitting. It happens with all role-playing games - with each new expansion, less and less players enter the world, as there are more hurdles to jump before they can play at the same level as other more established players.

At any rate, sucks if you don't have an energy account. Everyone that already has one will now have an advantage over you! Sorry!

While one could argue that since this is happening to all players, it's not really a "nerf" to anyone since everyone is being brought down to the same level, but that is just not looking at the whole picture. What it all boils down to is that most people play this game because, at a very basic level, they like watching numbers go up. Really! Moving from level 487 to 488 and seeing the "Congratulations" text pop up with the guy smoking the cigar leads to a little bit of dopamine release and encourages the player to continue playing. And if leveling rates are reduced, people will enjoy the game that much less. I just can't see one reason for a change like this given the game's age and established player base.

I predict quite a bit of backlash. You think we lost a lot of players back in the server crashes of December '09? This will be worse. No one likes to be nerfed, especially when it is such a massive nerf to all players. Even fighter accounts will be pissed off, as they will not be able to level nearly as often. Why not swing by the official forums and let them know how you feel?
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Robbing Now Live in All Cities






As predicted (though much faster than I anticipated!), robbing is now available in all cities. More importantly, robbing is now available in Bangkok. Players can now rob properties in Bangkok for a more reliable source of extra $B or even for extra pirates:

Thanks Chuck for the pictures!

---

Here are my thoughts:

It seems like that for the 3 stamina robbing the Cockfighting Pen, getting about 1600 $B is worth it for the stamina cost. The downside, however, is that you will lose quite a few robberies thanks to the recent change to the random number generator.

Also, it seems the more expensive businesses are pretty rare (or maybe not in for all servers?), and this is likely to be the case that many players are still not done Bangkok and have not yet purchased the more expensive businesses!

Spending 10 stamina to get 1 pirate or 1 drug shipment seems like a waste to me. I would rather rob chop shops and weapon shops for more parts to build cars and weapons with.

The real prize here seems to be the vast number of low cost robberies in Bangkok - this can be an easy way for players to stock up on wins and even diamonds if you are strong enough. I think, however, that the loot right now is better in New York.

I think robbing will get a lot more interesting when the next city comes out. Money will be much more important then and it will be meaningful to hit even the small properties.

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April 25, 2010

Challenge Mission Paris Chapter 1

Challenge Mission: Paris Chapter 1 is now live! Players can go to Paris via the travel tab and participate in the first of three chapters. Chapter 2 will come out in a week, so you only have 7 days to finish chapter 1 unless you want to end up behind.

As you do jobs, the first thing you will notice is the heat meter:



The heat meter basically makes it very painful to power through the content. When it says "the tougher the job is to complete" it means it requires more energy and more importantly, more Parisian maps. Notice the difference in map cost when I have some heat built up:

After 8 hours passes, the heat meter will reset. It resets all at once; it does not go down over time. It only takes doing 3 jobs to make the heat meter go up. Once the heat meter is in the yellow, jobs cost an extra Parisian map. Once it is towards the higher end, jobs cost an extra 2 Parisian maps.

There are three jobs to complete in Chapter 1:

Enter Paris (requires 9 Parisian maps if you do it at minimal heat - 12% mastery each time you do the job).
Track Down Your Fixer (requires 17 Parisian maps if you do it at minimal heat - 6% mastery).
Gather The Materials

Comparatively, if you work through it in one sitting, it requires about 200 maps.

----

So far, it looks like chapter 1 will be pretty easy, as long as you can log on often. If you are able to log on twice a day, 8 hours apart, even if its only for a couple minutes, you will be spending far less time worrying about maps and finishing the content in time. If you want to sit there and work through all the jobs in a day or two, its going to be expensive.

Even if you finish Chapter 1 early, just remember that the developers have said each chapter is harder than the previous episode (just like every city). Just know that by "harder" they mean "will need more Parisian maps". Don't stop stocking up on these even if you blow through Chapter 1.

---

Since some of you have been asking about how to get maps: maps drop from fighting, doing jobs, and grid clears in robbing. Grid clears cost a lot of stamina, so this is not an efficient way to get maps.

Do the cheapest job you can afford that still drops random loot items (associate tier jobs in New York for example) in order to rack up a bunch of maps. Also spend your stamina on fighting, as this only costs 1 stamina per fight; each win in a fight can be thought of as a chance to get a map.

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April 23, 2010

Mafia Wars Challenge Mission: Paris

Mafia Wars Paris, also known as "Challenge Mission: Paris", now has a preview available in game. This is actually not like any other city we have done before.


Here is what we can tell so far:

1. Paris, unlike other cities, is basically an extended limited time job.

Yep, that's right. Paris is not actually like any of the other cities. Really, its more like a big limited time job. And it's limited in time - note that on the Travel tab the "limited time only" text underneath the Paris option.


Essentially, once the Paris event goes live (which it seems like it will just before midnight on Sunday night, players will have 3 weeks to finish it. After that, it's gone!

2. You need to some mafia members to get started.


This is pretty easy - just browse around on the Mafia Wars fan page on Facebook and you will see plenty of "add me" comments spammed in reply to all the posts on the wall. Just in case you need to add more new people with the release of additional Paris chapters, I would keep a few people stocked on "add mafia" list and accept them after Chapter 1 comes out (just to be safe).

3. The rate at which you can do jobs depends on how many of these Parisian Maps you own.


As you can see from the text above, you will apparently need a bunch of "Parisian Maps" to finish Paris. You can collect some each day from the Paris screen (just like I have the option to collect 5). They also seem drop randomly from jobs, fighting, and robbing in other cities and can be bought in the marketplace. Start stocking up now; I am guessing we will need a lot of these.

4. There are 3 main rewards for finishing this challenge.


For finishing chapter 1, you will get a Parisian Fixer (armor; 30 attack, 61 defense). For chapter 2, a French Kiss (weapon; 75 attack, 45 defense), and a DaVinci Q415 (vehicle; 63 attack, 103 defense). Since you have to finish the previous chapters to move on to the next chapter, I am assuming this DaVinci Q415 is the final reward for stealing the Mona Lisa (in addition to the achievement):


5. Chapters will roll out weekly.

There are three total chapters, and it seems like we will get access to one more chapter as each week passes. Sunday night we will get Chapter 1, the next Sunday we will get Chapter 2, and the following Sunday we will get Chapter 3. We will have 1 week to finish Chapter 3 before Paris disappears for good.

As mentioned in the beginning of this post, Paris is basically a bigger limited-time job. You will need to log in each day to collect your maps and perhaps find a few from jobs if you want to get everything done in time.

I am assuming other than collecting the maps, none of the new jobs will be too energy intensive. It's just a matter of consistently logging on. This is definitely interesting and I look forward to seeing how it all unfolds.

We'll see in a few days when Chapter 1 opens!

----

As a side note, even though it was kind of a big stealth change, businesses have now all been converted over to a property style set-up:


Now all the old businesses produce a static amount of whatever item they used to (no more output / capacity / quality) and have 8 to 72 hour timers for when they are ready for collection. The most expensive businesses take 72 hours to mature, while the ones with goods (like politico corrupto) mature in 8 hours. Everything else is in between.

While this may not seem like a big deal at first, I am thinking this is the developers moving to open up robbing in all cities. Now that all cities will have properties, the same robbing system can be implemented in all cities. I really hope this is the case when Las Vegas comes out - it will be fun when currency is tight to have robbing available. Things will be pretty dicey at the start and there will be lots of robbing and competition!

Oh, and on the topic of robbing, you can now "call for backup" if you lose a robbery with the use of "burners":


Basically, there is now a cell phone icon at the top right of the robbing page, and you start off with a few burners (based on your level).

If you lose a robbery attempt, you can use one of your burners with the "ask mafia for help" button that has now appeared on the grid beneath the property where you failed.

You can ask your mafia for burners each day in order to get more. You can also help people who ask to get 1 more burner per helping attempt.

These burners are pretty useful for energy accounts trying to nab some of the new robbing achievements:


However, note that you can't use a burner on the last property you rob to get the bonus, so save an "easy" property for last. Currently, when you go to rob the last property, you are awarded your grid clear bonus before you can ask for help; you can still ask for help on the last property if you lose, but it won't change the outcome of your bonus either way.
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April 21, 2010

New Mystery Bags

It seems that mystery bags just got a makeover. First off, and thanks for this, the "3...2...1" counter is so much faster. It now only takes about a second to open instead of 5, which is a very nice change.

I opened some bags and didn't get one of the already-giftable free gifts. Instead, I received:

- XP Bonus
- Keys to open a gold treasure chest (+10 reward points possible here)
- Daily chance tickets
- Energy boosts (like truck drivers, fixers, etc)
- Attack Boosts
- Chop Shop and Weapons Depot construction items
- Items off your wishlist
- +30% stamina boost
- +5 free skill points.
- Baht (based on level)

I definitely consider this change an upgrade. The rate at which you get good items is more common now and items still drop off the wishlist. It is also a lot more convenient too with the increase in the rate of items dropping.


A little strategy:

You can add high-end Weapons Depot items (such as the Railgun) to your wishlist and then as you open bags, you can find a lot of these items. This is how a few players have 50+ railguns already; rather than trading for them, they simply found them via mystery bags!

---


Just some info about this "exclusive" mystery bag: as far as I can tell, there is nothing exclusive about it.


When I clicked "send bag", I was simply taken to this screen:

..which is the same screen you get taken to when you gift mystery bags normally. I think however that mystery bags which come through this invitation end up in a different screen on your Facebook requests page, which is how you might end up with a split between gifts, like so:

The contents appear to be exactly the same.
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April 19, 2010

Animals Unleashed - Animals Gone Wild Week

Apparently next week, there will be a new item class in Mafia Wars - animals. No kidding! You can read about it here. This is going in game next week. Players will now be able to use one weapon, armor, vehicle, and animal in battle. Additionally, all animals in game will be converted to this new item type.


You battled "The Don" with 501 Zoloto Sports Cars and 501 Lions. Wait, what?


To be honest, when I first saw the post, I had to re-check the date to make sure it wasn't April 1st. I mean, the odd items were always okay with me (like Balloon Boy), but I only tolerated them because it was never really a major focus of the game. These types of items were always just for fun items from free gifts or holiday events.

However, animals are a different story. I can see why adding a new class of items is appealing. It gives them more loot to sell, it gives players more things to do, and it changes the game up quite a bit. Also, old accounts that aren't being played much will lose out a lot of power, which helps clean up the game. There are also already a lot of animals in game, so I can see how the conversion might appear natural.

It would be natural, except the problem is that the game is called Mafia Wars. Battling with animals is just... weird. Imagine explaining animals to someone who has never played the game before.

John: Hey man, are you playing Mafia Wars? How does that work?
Me: Well, basically, you battle other players, using weapons, cars, armor, and animals for cash, sweet weapons and armor, and pets.
John: Animals?
Me: Yeah, you know, cobras and lions and laser squirrels and stuff.
John: To fight other players?
Me: Yes. You see, there was a bunch of animals already in the game...
John: Seriously?


Oh well, it honestly won't be that big of a disaster. Soon people will begin to think of this as normal. Besides, most people are just concerned about growing their mafia and one guy even kind of likes the idea:


I must admit, I laughed pretty hard at the Michael Vick comment.

---

At any rate, animals are supposed to be in the game next week. The end result is that you will need to collect a lot of new animals in a hurry if you want to be competitive! My quick scan tells me that the two best animals in game that are massively collectible are the:

Komodo Dragon (34 attack, 22 defense) - Episode 3, Chapter 2. Triad only, suckers!

and

Forest Scorpion (25 attack, 37 defense) - Episode 4, Chapter 2. Yakuza only!


If you picked other factions, I wouldn't worry about it too much. These items won't be worth too much once Las Vegas comes out - they'll be sure to put plenty of stage animals that you will steal when you're out on the town just like in The Hangover.

----

Animals Gone Wild Week has started (though you won't animals for the first time until next week). Animals randomly drop from jobs in different cities, here seems to be the common drops:

Robbing

Pair of Pet Tigers - 28 attack, 12 defense


New York

Liger - 45 attack, 12 defense (seems rare)
Timber Wolf - 41 attack, 20 defense
Wild Mustang - 16 attack, 34 defense

Cuba

Jaguar - 45 attack, 24 defense
Howler Monkey - 20 attack, 37 defense
Anaconda - 42 attack, 23 defense

Moscow

Siberian Tiger - 36 attack, 14 defense
Russian Bear - 22 attack, 45 defense
Snow Leopard - 37 attack, 25 defense

Bangkok

Chinese Tiger - 26 attack, 48 defense
Forest Scorpion - 25 attack, 37 defense
Komodo Dragon - 34 attack, 27 defense
Attack Cobra - 24 attack, 20 defense

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April 18, 2010

Charm 84 MH, King Snake, Ingred 9-9; New Free Gifts

There are three new free gifts available in game, the Charm 84 MH, the King Snake, and the Ingred 9-9.


Charm 84 MH (vehicle; 20 attack, 13 defense)
King Snake (weapon; 23 attack, 12 defense)
Ingred 9-9 (14 attack, 22 defense)

While normally I wouldn't post about this kind of update, I needed an excuse to posting the following picture:

Sup?

Who else is having fun robbing only casinos and tenements? Looks like this is one way to slow down the rate at which people find diamonds!


Update:

Looks like Mafia Wars decided to invade Cafe World!


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April 16, 2010

Street Thug Job Changes

As I'm sure many of you have noticed, the Street Thug tier got a stealth make-over sometime during the day today:


Let's clear some things up:

- First off, it's clear that this is 1) some sort of test and 2) rushed and incomplete.

- Secondly, there still does appear to be three tiers, though they may not be working for everyone.

- Thirdly, it seems like I (and many others) lost job mastery randomly on some of the jobs. As a side note, I tried mastering these jobs and while I was able to regain my lost mastery, I did not get a new skill point for mastering the job.

- Additionally, it does not appear to show any loot requirements to participate in the jobs. I think this is just a bug, since it doesn't show what jobs drop items either, yet loot still drops.

- Finally, I don't necessarily see this as an attempt to revamp the actual structure of the game but simply the developers converting more features to Flash rather than text. All the jobs in Street Thug can now be repeated really quickly and it seems like the conversion to flash will increase the ease of playing.


The Street Thug changes, bugs aside, do not seem to be a significant factor in game play at the moment. The most annoying thing about this update is actually all these new pop-ups that jump out of the screen every time I try to do a few heists!
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Gold Treasure Chest

Looks like they are taking another stab at the treasure chest thing again - players can now open a "new" Gold Treasure Chest for 9 reward points.


It seems like almost everyone is getting 10 reward points for opening their chest at a cost of 9 reward points. In other words, players are getting 1 free reward point for participating in this feature.

For now, enjoy the free reward point. However, when I think about the true motives behind this recolored treasure chest, I keep thinking about this achievement:

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April 14, 2010

Tax Evasion Event and Party

April 15th is the last day you can file your income taxes in the United States. As a result, Mafia Wars will be having a special Tax Evasion Event to commemorate this day. Players will receive double mastery in all cities in addition to a special item, The Backdoor (21 attack, 53 defense). It looks like tomorrow is your big day to finish up Bangkok if you are still lagging behind.

---

Given the frequency of these double mastery days, this leads me to believe that Mafia Wars Las Vegas must be around the corner. Double mastery days help players fly through content - there would be no reason to hasten the completion of content unless the developers had something ready to tack on! Maybe we'll see some announcements about that soon enough!
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April 12, 2010

Robbing Strategy - How and Why to Win

So, now that robbing (and a lot of new features) have been in the game a little while, I've had some time to think about the mechanics and the advantages of the system. I've determined that robbing is good, and by virtue of not robbing, you're missing out.

Why win robbing fights?

1. Experience

When you win, robbing pays out good XP per stamina point. A successful robbery generally pays out 2 or more XP per stamina point spent, on top of the bonus for clearing the grid (+10 XP for each successful robbery). So, for successfully robbing a flophouse, you not only get the 4 or 5 XP for winning, but also +10 bonus XP on your clear! That's a 7:1 XP:Stamina ratio. Even if you skip grid clears when there are a lot of casinos, its still great XP per point spent, especially as your mastery increases.

2. Loot

Clearing a grid in robbing can result in the the dropping of a diamond from the Stolen Diamonds robbing collection. The diamond collection is great for two reasons. First off, it's valuable. Each diamond piece is currently comparable to a lotto set piece in worth.

Side note: I think the Diamond set will plummet in value very quickly fast, at least compared to the lotto set. It can only be vaulted once and there is no rate-limiter on the rate at which it enters the game (the lotto for example only happens 1x per week - but people rob around the clock). Trade off any extra pieces fast - don't hold onto them for long periods of time.

Another reason why the Stolen Diamond collection is good is that because in this case, wealth begets wealth. Since the diamond collection improves your chances of winning robberies, you will earn more XP, levels, loot, and ultimately be able to rob more often. Additionally, since you will be winning more robberies, you will be earning more experience.

In theory, a well-equipped, high stamina, high attack account with the Stolen Diamond collection vaulted could be effectively used to 'farm' diamond collections.

3. Robbing Mastery

As you win robberies, you get more mastery. This goes hand in hand with reason 1, as by gaining more mastery, you can earn more experience. By earning more experience, you can level up more often, and end up winning more robberies, so on and so forth.

All of these three factors are synergistic and by virtue of winning a lot of robberies, your Mafia Wars account certainly stands to profit. Now, we just need to look at how to win robberies!


The Components of a Successful Heist

So, the formula for robbing (on offense) is:

Attack Stat Points + total sum of attack points from allowed equipment + a random number + boosts = your offense.

Defense Stat Points + total sum of defense points from allowed equipment + a different random number + boosts = your opponent's defense.

Note about the random number: To quote the developers - "we roll a giant die". Basically a huge random # gets added (or possibly subtracted, doesn't matter either way) to your score, providing an element of randomness to robbery attempts.


Difficulty Levels


You will see properties labeled as "Easy", "Medium", and "Hard". This simply refers to the similarity between your offensive firepower and your opponent's defensive strength before the random number has been added. As a result, you can win or lose all types of fights. Here is some approximate %s I have found:

- You will win ~85% of "Easy" fights.
- You will win ~50% of "Medium" fights.
- You will win ~15% of "Hard" fights.

It's all because of the random number added to you and your opponents score. While you can't change this number, note that the random number is simply added. If your character not just is better than your opponent, but if you really crush him (or her) in firepower, you can win in spite of a bad roll. Therefore, to improve your odds of winning robberies, you need to get better equipment and more stat points. No surprise there, but your overall strategy will change based on the property you are trying to rob. First I will discuss improving loot and stat points, then I will discuss selecting the right ones based on properties and your needs.


High Stat Points

You will need a lot of stat points in attack if you are going to do well in robbing (especially with the smaller properties). However, at this junction in the game, there has never been a better time for increasing your stat totals. You can get stat points in the following way (not including leveling up, collections, achievements, and the standard stuff):

56-84 bonus points a week via building weapons and vehicles in your Weapons Depot and Chop Shop each day. The lower end value is if you picked attack for both (3 attack from vehicle, 5 attack from weapon for a total of 8 per day for 7 days). The higher end value is if you picked the +6 energy car and the +6 stamina weapon. I personally think that with the Chop Shop, picking the energy or stamina car is much better than the +3 attack or defense car, since you can use stat points from leveling up on +Attack and make the most of your rewards. For the weapon shop, the best choice varies, which I will discuss later.

5-35 bonus points a week via mystery bags. Even a casual player can find +5 skill points per week playing, and if you open a lot of bags each day, you can wind up with +5 for each day of the week.

7 bonus points a week for completing the daily checklist each day. Most players don't even know this exists! When you log in, simply complete each task laid out for you on the "Daily Checklist" tab in the middle of the screen. You can do this once every 24 hours for a free skill point.


1 bonus skill point each week from playing the daily chance (hey, everything counts and it's part of the daily checklist!).

This adds up to a grand total of a bonus 79 - 127 bonus skill points per week. It would not be terribly challenging to wind up with 1,000 bonus skill points after 10 weeks time. You could go from losing most robbery attempts to winning most heists simply by being consistent. The funny thing is most players will not take advantage of this. If you have been regularly reading this blog for any time now, you are in the top 10% of Mafia Wars players by default. Most players never even venture outside of the game and never search for stuff on Google, read blog posts, or have any sort of strategy to their Mafia Wars game-plan. Most players don't even have an upgraded Chop Shop let alone a Weapons Depot! These players will be your easy targets if you simply take advantage of all the free skill points available to you.

Loot

I will discuss different loot types based on property below, but if you can collect as many Yakuza Assassins (Bangkok faction store item), Hunter 'Spy' XSs (Chop Shop, but preferably trade for this), and Railguns (Weapons Depot).


Differences Between Robbing Different Properties

Very Small Properties: When robbing small properties, only two things come into play: your stat points in Attack and having job mastery items. Look at my Flophouse heist below:


My actual loot doesn't even come into play. My total score from equipment is only 449. Strong players have at least 1,000 stat points in attack (getting higher every day thanks to Chop Shop), so the lion's share of robbing very small properties goes to Attack stat points. Boosts can also help out here, but add virtually nothing on bigger properties.

Small to Medium Sized Properties: Small to Medium Sized properties rely on both stat points in attack and specialty loot. Players in this category who end up with chunks of high end pieces (such as Yakuza Assassins as shown below) will end up with a sizable advantage:


In this example, consider that if I was using 23 Railguns to his 23 Zmeya Carbon Blades, I would have a 161 stat point advantage. Apply similar bonuses to Yakuza Assassins and Hunter 'Spy' XSs, and you can see that for mid-grade properties, specialty loot becomes important. It's importance declines as properties grow beyond 100 Mafia members though, because nearly all players won't have enough time to collect a full set of this specialty loot before"the next" thing comes out and replaces our current best pieces.

Note that in these categories where you can actually use specialty equipment, something like a Railgun adds quite a few points to your offensive firepower. For each Railgun you purchase, you would replace one Tanto or Ubijca Assault Rifle, for an 8 attack upgrade. On top of that, you will gain +5 to your permanent attack score. This is like really upgrading by 13 attack points as far as robbing medium to large properties is concerned. In other words, once your attack is high enough to win most of your Flophouse fights, you should focus on Railguns over the +6 stamina weapon, even though it offers 1 more stat point (at least until Railguns get replaced by something better).

Large Properties: Large properties are straight-forward. Get a full set of mass-collectible loot such as Zoloto Sports Cars, Tantos, and Shturmoviks. Have a full mafia and you'll win most robberies. Attack points don't mean much since they add right to equipment score, and here your equipment score will be very high.

---

Cliff notes:

1. Robbing is good, do it!
2. Take advantage of all the free skill points available to you.
3. Note that you will need to maximize attack skill points, specialty loot pieces, and still have a full set of 1500 loot pieces in order to win heists.
4. Profit!
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April 11, 2010

Mystery Vault Info

I finally got selected for the mystery vault - sorry for the delay in reporting this; I just never ended up getting asked for the bonus! Here is what it is and how it works:

When you log in, in what seems a random fashion, you have the chance to get this pop-up:


Note: You MUST have your email address submitted or you will not see this pop-up. You must give Mafia Wars permission to e-mail you or you will not be able to take advantage of this feature. You can add your e-mail at the "set-up" tab at the top of your Mafia Wars screen.

Once you have the pop-up and your e-mail address submitted, simply click "Email Me The Code". You will receive in email in a few moments.

Unlike the text says, you don't actually get a code. You get a link that you can click on in your inbox. Simply click on it, and you will log in and see an option right on the home page to "Open the Vault". Click that and get your reward:


So, the feature isn't too bad. It's not great, but it's not bad. What you'll get is 2 decent loot pieces, a random amount of experience, and a random amount of Reward Points. I seriously doubt more then 10 players will actually win 1000 reward points from this feature; it seems that the common range is 1-5. Still though, a reward point, a few decent items, and 100 XP for simply clicking a link is not a bad deal at all.
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April 9, 2010

Weapons Depot Info & Items

A new property, the Weapons Depot, is now in game!



This building is pretty much an exact replica of the Chop Shop, except that 1) produces weapons, 2) requires different materials, and 3) seems to slightly better than the chop shop.

Just like the Chop Shop, it requires multiple pieces of 5 different components to upgrade: Forges, Gunpowder, Arc Welders, Buzzsaws, and Gun Drills. The initial requirement is 4 of each item and this scales up as you upgrade your depot. You can ask Mafia members for help for getting the items, however, calling for help is this fashion puts both the Chop Shop and Weapons Depot "Ask for Help" buttons on the 24 hour cooldown.


Loot

The items in the Weapons Depot seem just a bit better than the Chop Shop vehicles. While there are less options, there are 3 particular items which provide +6 stamina, +5 attack, and +5 defense, respectively:



Here is the weapon list, stats, and item requirements:

Level 1: Random Common Weapon; requires 1x Weapon Part

Level 2: Random Uncommon Weapon; requires 3x Weapon Part

Level 3: Random Rare Weapon; requires 5x Weapon Part

Level 4: Ninja Sai (30 attack, 40 defense); requires 8x Weapon Part

Level 5: First Blood (49 attack, 13 defense); requires 10x Weapon Part and 1x Explosive Arrow

Level 6: Ultrasonic Gun (22 attack, 48 defense); requires 12x Weapon Part and 1x Sonic Emitter

Level 7: Laser Guided RPG (37 attack, 42 defense); requires 21x Weapon Part and 1x Laser Rangefinder

Level 8: Robber's Utility Belt (33 attack, 41 defense, +6 stamina); requires 24x Weapon part, 1x Boomerang, and 1x Grapple

Level 9: Railgun (51 attack, 24 defense, +5 attack); requires 27x Weapon Part and 1x Railgun Barrel

Level 10: Plasma Rifle (40 attack, 47 defense, +5 defense); requires 35x Weapon Part and 1x Portable Fusion Reactor

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And that about sums up the Weapons Depot. All the loot pieces needed for construction of the Weapons Depot loot pieces will drop from jobs, just like Chop Shop pieces.
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April 8, 2010

Fight Club, Victory Coins, and New Achievements

It looks like there is some new features headed this way in Mafia Wars. In the marketplace, you can see a new tab called Fight Club, and a page with several very nice pieces of equipment which are not yet purchasable:

Thanks Kin for pointing this out to me!

It looks like pieces are purchasable with "Victory Coins", which can will be earned through winning fights. I am assuming (and hoping) that this is not simply the result of winning 25 fights - if that is the case, it won't take very long for people to max out on these loot pieces. Perhaps there will be a grid, just like with robbing, and if players clear it with a winning record, they will get a victory coin. That's just a guess though, we'll have to wait and see.

Also, these items require a certain amount of people in your "Top Mafia". As of right now, we know that this is not possible, so that and these achievements below mean that another new feature is on the way:


As far as I can tell, you will be able to fill up your top mafia slots for based on four ranks - Capo, Lieutenant, Enforcer, and Street Crew. I'm not sure what bonuses will be available for these new ranks, but it appears to be a feature that will allow you to interact with more mafia members more frequently. Will update whenever this stuff goes in game!
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April 5, 2010

Double Your Chop Shop

In case you've been living under a rock and missed this, here is an easy way to produce 2 cars a day at your chop shop:

1. Wait until your chop shop is ready to build a car and ready to collect parts from.
2. Build a car (prior to collecting parts).
3. Collect your parts. Your car building timer will have just reset!
4. Build another car.

You can repeat this every 24 hours. Enjoy getting twice the cars while it lasts!

Speaking of how long it will last - I'm not really sure. On one hand, many players know about this and are using it. On the other hand, it's not going to break the game as it is limited by the amount of car parts you have, so it may be low on the priority list.
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April 3, 2010

New Chop Shop Levels and Cars

The Chop Shop is now upgradeable to level 12 and several new cars have been added! First, there are a few new mid-level cars, the Sirroco 9-Z (48 car parts; 46 attack, 15 defense) and the Andresen 420si (68 car parts; 41 attack, 43 defense):



Additionally, there are 2 new high-end cars that come along with levels 11 and 12:


The Mugati Sport (35 attack, 51 defense, and +3 to your total max defense skill) costs 135 car parts and 1 "High Tech Car Part", which is a brand new piece. The Hunter 'Spy' XS (52 attack, 29 defense, and +3 to your total max attack skill) costs 155 car parts and 2 high tech car parts.

It's a bit of a toss-up on which car to pick now! On one hand, the two new cars, at only providing +3 stats (compared to the +5 energy or stamina cars), may seem a bit weaker. However, with 51 defense and 52 attack on each of these cars respectively, these pieces are also very strong. Since robbing small properties weighs heavily on your most powerful items, if you end up robbing a lot, you may want to beef up your stats by picking some of these new cars up.

High-tech car parts a new rare drop that drops randomly from any job, apparently in any city.
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April 2, 2010

Easter Crime Basket Limited Time Event

It looks like Mafia Wars decided to roll out a last-minute Easter event after all. Fortunately, this is a week-long event, starting today and lasting until April 9th at midnight.



This event is fairly straight-forward to finish up, but it seems like it will be a little more difficult than previous events. Here is how it works:

Step 1: Master the Easter Job to 100%

This is the easiest in the bunch. Simply repeat the limited time job and get to 100% mastery. No matter which of the 3 jobs you end up picking, all of them will add to your mastery total. The 5 minute job gives 1% total, the 8 hour job gives 12% total, and the 24 hour job gives 20% total.



Just make sure you are always doing a job and this will be finished in no time. For mastering the job you will get the Golden Egg (collection piece). There may be an additional item reward - will know soon enough.

Complete the Easter Egg Collection

Unlike the previous holiday event collections, collection items are no longer drop randomly from fights. Here is where you will find each egg:

Striped Egg - Crew Collections
Polka Dot Egg - Crew Collections
Checkered Egg - Crew Collections
Plaid Egg - Crew Collections
Paisley Egg - Free Gifts (friends send them to you)
Last Year's Egg - Random drop from the limited time Easter job (all 3 choices can drop this)
Golden Egg - Rewarded for getting to 100% mastery on the Easter job.

Yep, crew collections. This can be kind of a pain, since helping your friends does not give you one of the eggs as well. The only way to get an item is to have a friend help you out or have one gifted to you (by trading or by a 2nd account).

How to Help Friends

Search your news feed for a Mafia Wars message such as this:


After agreeing to help out your friend, you will get the following message:


Once you click "Start Searching", it will work just like any crew collection. It does not appear as if the job is hidden in the last tier you were in - I ended up helping people in Bangkok and then Moscow without ever changing cities. This job can be done to help your friend find the item:


While doing the job, you have a random chance to find the egg. The drop rate is not particularly good - perhaps around 5-10%:


Notice that my reward was 200 XP, not the Striped Egg. Only the person you help gets the egg, you have to have someone help you in order to get an egg!


Getting Friends to Help

This is pretty simple - just go to your collections page and click "Ask Mafia" next to the Egg Collection.

If someone completes the process listed above, you will get your egg. While it seems that up to 5 people can assist you for each call for help, unfortunately, you will get the same egg each time rather than different eggs (at least in my initial experience).

There is an 8 hour cool-down between asking for help, so it will take a bit for everyone to get their eggs.


At any rate, for vaulting the collection you get an Easter Metsubushi, which I am guessing is a weapon with 26 attack and 48 defense.



Step 3: Complete the "How Eggsciting" Achievement

Pretty simple here - this achievement is rewarded for vaulting the collection and mastering the Easter job.


Step 4: Find the Thugs Bunny

This item drops randomly (but rarely) from any of the limited time Easter Jobs.


If you do the 24 hour limited time Easter job each time, you will easily master the job by the time that the event is over. However, due to the essence of the random number generator, if you want a sure-shot to get all your items, you will want to do the 5 minute job quite a few times - if you just do the 24 hour job 7 times, there is a decent chance you could end up with no Thugs Bunny and just a bunch of extra collection pieces.

I'm guessing the drop rate for the Thugs Bunny from the 24-hour job is somewhere around 20-30%. As a result, if you did the 24-hour job exclusively and didn't spend any godfather points to speed up the timer, there is a 8% (if the drop rate is 30% to 21% (if the drop rate is 20%) chance you will wind up without a Thugs Bunny. It's hard to say just yet what the drop rate is - just know that you've been warned!

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And that's it for this event. If you are having problems getting people to help you out on the Crew Collections, try helping a few friends out and then posting on their wall to let you know you did so. They will be much more likely to help you back in that case!
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April 1, 2010

Unicorn Castle - Mafia Wars April Fool's Day

For April Fool's Day, the Chop Shop is now temporarily been renamed to the Unicorn Castle:


Car Parts are now "Magic Potions", and the vehicles are now different types of unicorns. Upgrading your Unicorn Castle will allow you to produce more glorious unicorns:



On a more serious note, this is a joke, so please stop sending me e-mails asking about the "new" Unicorn Castle feature!

I'm guessing this will only last one day, and that anything you end up doing to your shop should be saved during the transition.


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Oh, and rackets players now have properties (thanks addycaissa!). Influence points have been refunded for stat points, however, some players have reported not getting their stat points fully refunded.
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