September 30, 2010

Prized Pigs #2: Fresh Shank

The second of the Prized Pigs, Fresh Shank, is live (with Boss Hogg going live after midnight). Many players are simultaneously trying to collect Fresh Shank and Curly Tail. This hurried pace is an interesting change from other Mafia Wars challenges that stretche out for weeks.

For Fresh Shank, Bronze mastery requires collecting 3 pigs; Silver = 5; and Gold = 10. As with Curly Tail, you can ask for Fresh Shank and send him as a free gift to your Mafia. As you collect each new pig, your meter will grow:

The prize for completing each level is a Fish Speer, with (59/32) stats at Bronze...

..and (68/37) at Silver.

P.S. Gold Mastery increases the Fish Speer's stats to 72/45.
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September 29, 2010

New Chop Shop & Weapons Depot Levels!

Some one at Zynga is working overtime today! Not only did we have the debut of the Prized Pigs Challenge, but minutes ago came this newsflash:

While we are all scrambling to build our Armory, both the Chop Shop and Weapons Depot have expanded up to Level 15. On his 1987 album Tunnel of Love, Bruce Springsteen sang of "spare parts and broken hearts" - and for those who stopped collecting those spare parts for their Chop Shop and Weapons Depot, or traded them away, there are broken hearts tonight.

The 7 new items in both the Chop Shop and Weapons Depot require "Special Parts" in addition to higher amounts of Weapons or Car Parts. And some require LOTS of Special Parts. Maybe these will drop in jobs, but one way to get some is to simply ask your Mafia:

While the stats are on par with loot dropped in Districts 6 and 7 of Las Vegas, each item has attractive stat boosts. The two new Chop Shop Items are:

Level 14 - Sportster (52/46), +3 energy, +3 stamina
Level 15 - Extended Cab 640 (53/55), +3 Skill Points (!!)

There are FIVE new Weapons Depot items.

Level 11 - Dirty Trick (49/45), +5 Health, +2 Stamina
Level 12 - Electric Prod (50/50) +5 Health, +2 Energy
Level 13 - Hack Blade (45/51) +6 Defense

but wait... there's more....

Level 14 - Stun Knuckles (52/48) +6 Attack
Level 15 - Wasper Knife (51/51) +4 Skill Points (!!)

Time to renew your quest for all those spare parts you'd traded away... 5 new weapons and 2 new vehicles await!
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Prized Pigs Challenge: Live!

The Prized Pigs Challenge is live tonight. As previewed in an earlier post, you try to collect lots and lots of pigs to get increasingly-impressive rewards. The 3 pigs go live one at a time, with the first one - Curly Tail - being live TONIGHT.

The other two pigs are Fresh Shank and Boss Hog.

You can send Curly Tail as a free gift as you do with Mystery Bags and Armory Parts. Send a lot so your Mafia sends them back to you. You can also ask for your Mafia to send you Curly Tails on your Facebook news feed:

After collecting 1 or 2 Curly Tails, you will see a green "Collect" button on your home screen. Click it to cash in on the Bronze level prize for the first pig, a Garrotte (60/31 - weapon):

After collecting 5 *more* Curly Tails, you will achieve Silver mastery level and get a Garrotte with better stats (67/38).

As you obtain enough pigs for each new level, your green meter will get closer to full.

You'll need 10 more Curly Tails to collect the Gold Mastery level Garrotte (73/44). As with the Boss prizes that have different levels, you only keep ONE Garrotte, but at the highest stats you've earned.

I believe there is also an extra reward for completing the Gold level on all 3 pigs.

This is one place where using the "dual collection" of free gifts feature, explained in a prior post, will give you an advantage - you can collect free gifts both from the Mafia Wars envelope that pops up when you start (it can be accessed by clicking the tan and white envelope at the top of your home screen - see below - the number on it shows how many free gifts await you) AND from the Facebook home page by clicking on GAMES on the left hand column.

The other two pigs offer higher-stat loot and also have three tiers of statistics. Fresh Shank will be unlocked on at about 1 AM EST on Thursday morning (later tonight..) and Boss Hog goes live on Friday.

There was an amazing screen shot that showed all three pigs and the stats for each prize at each of the three levels - and I missed it. Because I, too, am a pig, and clicked right past that informative screen to collect some other prize. I hang my head in shame.

As retribution, I offer this iconic image of a pig that was very formative for me. You have to squint a little to see the pig, but the associated music (Pigs, Sheep, AND Dogs) is unparalleled

File:Pink Floyd-Animals-Frontal.jpg

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Governor Halloran: Round 3

Ignoring my own advice from earlier this week, I raced through District 8 - Gold Level - to get to my third matchup with the Boss, Governor Halloran. For a mere 15 Stamina Points, welcome to the jungle...

At Gold Level, Halloran starts with 12,000 health. You can call for help on this job. Just to measure up my foe, I attacked without using a consumable, and did just over 800 damage. After all, I have two henchmen to help me. Then it was the Governor's turn...

As always, my henchmen were superb - superbly useless, that is. One attack from Halloran and the first henchman died/fainted/fled/wet his pants... plus I lost over 10% of my health:

That was the last time I let Halloran hit me. Shivs did about 550 damage each and Grenades - lo and behold - did over 300 damage each - and I could use as many as I wanted without being attacked back. Also, the Stun Guns actually let you attack Halloran twice without being attacked back (this was not the case with Dr. Hank Williams, the District 7 Boss). Eventually, the Governor resigned:

The 2,000 XP for winning is a very nice plus, and the Gold Level Hallorans Helicopter has 110 attack and 175 defense. (Not to make this into a grammar blog, but does Zynga know that there should be an apostrophe in "Hallorans"?)

I find Governor Halloran easier to fight than Dr. Hank Williams, as Halloran has no henchmen. Round 4 coming soon to a theater near you...

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September 28, 2010

Lucky Stash & the "50-50" Bonus Spin

I'll start this post where it ends: Mafia Wars sometimes presents options that appear to have certain odds favoring a certain result. As discussed earlier, for example, the Daily Chance Lotto 6-of-6 prize - promising "up to 5 Reward Points" really means "exactly 1 Reward Point." Oh, how life's bitter lessons make us wise...

Now ignore that pessimistic start, because I truly enjoy the Lucky Stash feature in Vegas - a slot machine where you can win free Reward Points. There's a slot machine icon at the top of your Mafia Wars screen (second from the left above), and the number there shows how many free Lucky Stash spins you have.

You can get a few free spins each day if you monitor your Mafia's feed, and some more if you post your own slot machine after a winning spin on Lucky Stash, which will bring up the screen below:

If people win on Lucky Stash by clicking YOUR slot machine, you can get some free spins. Plus, Mafia Wars gives you one free spin per day. Also, you can get spins when you see a friend post a Lucky Stash invite on his or her newsfeed announcing he is a Lucky Stash jackpot tycoon:

Don't confuse this with the Vegas Slots offer in the newsfeed, which has the icon to the right, and lets you play some one's Vegas Casino slots for V$ winnings. Who needs V$ when you can win Reward Points?

First, you'll get three spins to see if you can earn a FREE spin on Lucky Stash. The spin below earned me one free Lucky Stash spin.

It's guaranteed that you'll win on one of those three spins, and lose on the other two. You can still get two free spins this way by getting three "Mafia Wars Bars" in a row on this first stage. After your three spins, you'll see a screen like:

Make sure you are using a free spin - there is a daily limit, and once you reach it, you're playing with your own Reward Points - that is, you can spend your own Reward Points in the hopes of winning more Reward Points.

Once you're playing the Lucky Stash slots - either with free spins or your own RPs, you're playing for real Reward Points, based on the three symbols on the center line.

The most common result is the one below (no win), though I just as frequently get three "ladies" (one RP). I've hit 5 RPs a few times. One afternoon, I blew through 80 RPs (playing three at a time) to see if I could hit the enticing Jackpot. Bad call. The Pay Table shows all the combinations.

Whether you get 0, 1, or 14,493 Reward Points from your Lucky Stash spin, your Bonus meter - the bright red bar right under the Jackpot amount - increases by one after each spin. So after the spin above, my Bonus Meter is just one short of eligibility for the bonus.

After you fill the 20 slots in the Bonus Meter, you are eligible for the Lucky Stash Bonus Wheel, which is the subject of tonight's cautionary tale.

Once the red bar is all the way full, click on the yellow BONUS rectangle to head towards - if I may cite an album from yesteryear - the Grand Illusion, a/k/a, the Lucky Stash Bonus Wheel.

The Bonus Wheel has an equal number of slots for Loot and Reward Points. You don't need a Ph.D in statistics from Harvard to see that you have a 50-50 chance at getting Reward Points versus Loot. But give it a spin, and I'll bet good money the next thing you see is:

If I've reached the bonus 15 times since the Lucky Stash slot machine debuted, I've gotten Reward Points once, and a Loot Item the other 14 times. No complaints here about a free 54-defense armor, but don't be fooled by the 50-50 chance the wheel APPEARS to give you in terms of scoring Reward Points. Have you had similar experiences on the wheel?

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Frontierville Promo - Bowie Knife

I'm still stung by the end of Zynga's Poker-Mafia Wars promo, but I saw this promo for Zynga's game, Frontierville. You can score a nice weapon from some limited play on Frontierville, no commitments required. Complete a few levels for the Bowie Knife (31/58).

If you don't see this pop up, the promotion can be accessed at the top of your home screen next to the Lucky Stash icon. Of course, Zynga hopes that you'll become as addicted to Frontierville as you already are to Mafia Wars... but that's just not possible, is it?
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The Daily Take

The Daily Take is a nice feature I've noticed over the past month on Mafia Wars. It rewards daily play, and is the only place I seem to be able to find keys to open Gold Treasure Chests anymore. The reward gets better each day - starting from a Rack of Chips in Vegas on day 1, through a Gold Key on day 6 and five attack points on day 7. Not sure if all 7 prizes are exactly the same each week, but they improve each day. A very nice touch by Zynga, in conjunction with the Daily Mystery Reward on the Home screen, which you earn just by CLICKING all 5 "checklist" items (Recruits, Messages, etc).
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September 27, 2010

Lotto Ticket Prize Strategy

With Daily Chance tickets, I've always saved up 6 and cashed them in for "up to 5 Reward Points." The other available prizes - a collection item, 1 or 2 more Daily Chance tickets, or a one-time energy or stamina boost, seemed to pale in comparison.

In the past, I can recall getting 5 RPs (or Godfather Points, as they used to be called), or 3, or even 1, but it seemed like a random number each time. Lately, that range of 1 through 5, I've been consistently getting 1 RP.

I've had this result 8 out of the past 9 times I've cashed in the 6-lotto ticket claim. Could it just be a bad run, or has Mafia Wars - which admittedly made RPs easier to get all around (heck, see the post below for 20 of them) - tightened up on this particular golden goose?

Anyone else noticing a trend like this? I wonder if Mafia Wars known how many RPs a given player has when he or she cashes in the "6 of 6" prize... and if some algorithm instructs Mafia Wars to reward fewer RPs as that player's RP total gets higher. After all, 1 RP is still "up to 5"... but not what you're hoping for every week.

That begs the question of whether it's better to claim a different prize that costs fewer tickets. Some players opt for the extra Daily Chance tickets, in the hopes of getting a Daily Chance Collection piece if they submit 12 tickets per week instead of 10.

The odds on winning that prize (3 out of 5 numbers) are sufficiently long that I'm not sure that 1 or 2 extra tickets per week materially improve your chances.

After all, now that you can get 12 to 20 lotto tickets per week, with bonus tickets from Mystery Bags and other sources, you'd think players would regularly hit 3 or 4 numbers out of 5 on a ticket if an additional ticket or two helped.

In my own experience (the results on the left being a typical example), I've still only gotten a Daily Chance Collection piece - 3 numbers out of 5 - once in 15 months of playing, and have never hit 4 numbers out of 5 for the lower Reward Point Prize, not to mention 5 for 5 and 1,000 RPs. You probably have better odds of hitting the jackpot on the Vegas RP Slot Machine.


Instead, most weeks I find myself with a slew of Untraceable Cell Phones and other New York consumables, which I happily gift as I go. On occasion, I'll hit 2 numbers out of 5 and win a free Daily Chance Lotto ticket...getting me that much closer to the next "6 of 6" Claim Prize conundrum...
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20 Free Reward Points!

Wish I had screen-shot this one, but it really works - no gimmicks, no quizzes, nothing to buy - just clicked it, took me right to Mafia Wars, and I got a "Welcome Back" screen - and my Rewards Points went up by 20.
Give it a try (or cut and paste the URL above into a new browser if it doesn't click through, since I can't get the Tiny URL source part).
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September 26, 2010

Would You Buy 2 Skill Points for V$12,715,000?

When I saw the animal that you could purchase in Vegas - the Desert Spider (31/18), I was underwhelmed with its stats. If you're even IN Las Vegas, you hopefully already loaded up on Vipers, Kraits, and Xiamen Tigers in Bangkok, or the purchaseable animals that appeared in Cuba, New York, and Moscow when Animals became a separate category. Same with the Weapons you had to buy in Vegas to do jobs: their stats would rank them in your top 501 items.
Today, I stumbled upon a reason you may want to own two of those items, or at least own them for a few minutes. Mafia Wars has added Achievements here and there with Vegas and I had totally missed two of them that you can literally purchase with Vegas money. At this stage, if you have a 4- or 5-star vault and about $V25,000,000 sitting in it, try this:
Buy 50 Desert Spiders. It will cost you (for now) V$17,500,000. You'll see this screen... well as a screen announcing you have achieved the Arachnophobia Achievement. Do the same with the LAWs (39/20) - buy 100 of them, for V$7,930,000. As soon as you purchase the 100 LAWs, you'll see this screen:
Then, assuming you don't need the Desert Spiders or LAWs as part of your top 501 animals or weapons for attack or defense, sell them back:
After you do that for both items, you'll get back V$12,715,000 - half of what you spent on the 100 LAWs and 50 Desert Spiders. And when you check your Achievements, you will see: well as a 2 Skill Points to allocate. And THAT is how you can turn a net of V$12,715,000 into 2 Skill Points.
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September 25, 2010

Governor Halloran: Reelection Bid...

Here's the dispatch from Silver Level of District 8/Hoover Dam in Vegas. To employ the strategy I described yesterday, finish the energy and fight jobs EXCEPT for one fight (so you don't go to Gold), and then take on Governor Halloran for round 2 of the Boss fight. This way, you can stay on Silver Level and can do as many more energy jobs as you want - now for 39 energy points each, instead of 19, while picking up more and more District 8 loot (and a better Halloran's Helicopter).
Along the way, to complete the District 8 Silver Level Energy Path jobs, you'll need 20 Alarm Codes and 34 Hot Tips - though the Hot Tips are for the Social Job, which some of your Mafia should help you with after a shout out. Hopefully, you can trade for these disposables, as each Hot Tip costs 108 energy points from a District 2 job, and each Alarm Code costs 79 energy from a District 3 job (total cost for Silver Level consumables = 5,144 energy points).
Here's the Governor as he appears in the Boss fight. He has 14,000 energy and no henchmen. Sounds easy, right? Well, the Shivs do little damage (maybe 30 points) - same with Grenads. This is one of those fights where you need to use pretty much all Stun Guns, and not let him attack at all - use the Stun Gun, attack, repeat. DON'T ATTACK TWICE AND LET HIM HIT YOU.
Why? As I found out the hard way, the Governor's first attack did NO damage to my two henchmen (who usually get wiped out in one shot anyway) and went directly to me, taking most of my 520 health with it. I furiously clicked on my Health Kits and then went into Stun Gun overdrive. You can also call for help on this job, and of course, come back and finish him off, to be treated to:
1,800 experience points is a sweet boost, and the Silver Level Hallorans Helicopter stats are an impressive 100/160 - your top defensive vehicle.
For now, I'm staying put on Silver, loading up on the great offensive loot there, and pledging not to move to Gold Level District 8 until the Challenge Mission: Dublin and the Prized Pigs challenge are complete.

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Dublin Mission: Chapter 2 - Live

It's here, Chapter 2 of Challenge Mission: Dublin, entitled "Ireland Hopping." The prize for finishing each job is the Black Irish weapon (84/59) detailed below. The first job - "Get the Money to a Waiting Jet" - gives you 9% completion per click, so you can finish it in 8 hours - 6x at the start, and 6x once your Heat Meter goes back to green.

You have a week to finish Chapter 2 and get your four Black Irish pistols. Here's the screen shot from completing the first job:

The second job in Ireland Hopping is called "Fly to a Carribean Island" and gives you 7% completion each time, so it will take 15 clicks to complete - or 16 hours (if you are timing these perfectly) to be done, and in possession of Black Irish #2.

Enjoy your stay in Dublin!

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September 24, 2010

Pink Floyd Fans: Your Prized Pigs Are Coming!

Mafia Wars has a new challenge on the horizon that will delight farmers, Pink Floyd fans, and regular gamers alike. Following in the tradition of Pignatas and Super Pignatas - the free gift items with top loot inside, comes a pig-based challenge called PRIZED PIGS... with Zynga's description below:
Get ready to pig out because the Prized Pigs are coming. You all had a healthy appetite for Pigntas and Super Pigntas, but you'll want to save room for Prized Pigs. This will be a limited time event where you must collect and master Prized Pigs. Master all three Prized Pigs to become a true porker and earn the Oinker vehicle (100 Attack, 128 Defense). We know you're salivating over the Oinker because those stats are making us hungry, too.
This looks like an interesting challenge - with a nice payoff - not too many items with 100+ attack AND defense - and the banner/graphic below would make Roger Waters envious...

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Dublin Chapter 2: Saturday Morning

The neat thing about Challenge Mission: Dublin has been that you get the prize for each chapter four times - each time you finish one of the jobs. So, while the setup has been the same as the Mumbai, Paris, and London challenges - with Pints of Stout substituting for Bollywood Reels, etc., there are a total of 12 decent items to win here. No more working for a week to get just one item; now you get the item (and a skill point) each time you complete a job.

The jobs progressively get "harder" in that they take more energy points to complete, have a lower percentage completion as you go, and "cost" one more Pint each time you do the harder jobs. The Heat Meter is also back, with 6 jobs allowed before you go to tan and double your energy and Pint costs. But Zynga has given plenty of time to finish each chapter, so no need to rush, unless you've fallen behind, or just want bragging rights.

For Chapter 1 (pictured above), entitled "Euro Trash", the prize is the Irish Traveler,
an Armor piece with stats of 52/63. Not bad to get four of them, as they will be in your top 501 for both attack AND defense.

Chapter 2 will be live on Saturday morning. The prize will be a Weapon
called the Black Irish, with 84/59 stats.

Chapter 3 will open next weekend, with (four) very promising animal prizes called the Dreacht Capall, with 67/111 stats. Take that, Xiamen Tiger!

(Nerd alert!: 'Dreacht Capall' is Irish for ' draft horse' - learn more here

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