Mafia Wars.

gamerWith Restaurant City over for some time, & the apex of the beginner’s rush on Farm Town negotiated (it didn’t take long enough to warrant a blog), I decided to revisit Mafia Wars, another Facebook game my friends had invited me to play some time ago.

I’m kind of big on interfaces.   One of the great things about WoW is that not only can you completely reorder your key bindings (you can decide which keys on your keyboard do what) but you can also completely re-design how your entire playing screen looks with all kinds of interface mods.   It’s one of the things that causes me to be stuck in that game; I’ve become accustomed to having things a certain (my) way.   I didn’t even last the free 30 days in FFxi because the interface was virtually unchangeable & I couldn’t order my controls to match the functions & bindings I had in Everquest (which I now use, mostly, in WoW.).   I’d log off, every time I attempted to get through a session of FFxi, annoyed as hell & thoroughly MAD at the game.   I’m a creature of habit with a touch of OCD.   I need to have everything a certain way.   Ask any of my ex-boyfriends.

(Click on the picture at left to see a larger, more clearly ADD image)

Mafia Wars is an ADD nightmare.   FFxi has nothing on Mafia Wars’ presentation & uselessness of interface.   There is virtually no explanation, anywhere, for the majority of the many confusing interface components, & Zynga’s website‘s uselessness is second only to its monumentally slow loading times.

That said, I have Mafia Wars open in the other browser tab as I type.   Every few minutes I check back to use whatever Energy Points (I earn 1 point every 2 minutes) I’ve accumulated to do a job.   I’m currently Level 12.   I figured out around Level 9 that I was going about this game all wrong, & then spent about an hour at the Zynga Support & Forums trying to figure out how I could delete this character & start over from scratch.   The Zynga Support website was completely useless to the point of utterly ignoring whatever key words I entered into the “Answer Search” field & just showing me the same useless answers over & over again regardless of what I searched for.   On the forums I did find my answer finally (that answer basically being “No.”).

If I ever have anything else that I want to know about Mafia Wars I may just hang myself since it’ll be less painful.

The Overall, Basic Idea. In Mafia Wars, you create a character who, as in many Facebook games, gains support & influence through networking with friends, these friends consisting of those of your Facebook friends who play this game too.   You achieve money, items, accomplishments, & levels by various methods, including game-provided jobs, fights, fights against other players, buying game property (like Monopoly!).   The goal of this game is, of course, to attain higher & higher levels & more & more power.   Kind of like life if we actually cared about it, but then that’s the premise for most of these games.   They’re microcosms of how we’d do it if it was as easy as a click of a mouse.

Jobs. Jobs are fairly straightforward; your character has a certain amount of Energy which can be spent doing Jobs.   If you have 15 Energy points & you do a job that requires 3 Energy points — yep, you guessed it — you will have 12 remaining Energy points to spend on more jobs, or you can do that job again.   Doing Jobs earns you money, experience which goes toward your character level, & often items which contribute to your formidability & wealth.

One facet of Jobs that isn’t immediately apparent is the value of Job & Tier Mastery.   If you take a look at the Jobs interface on the right (click on it, silly), notice that there are different tiers of Job sets available depending on what level you are.   Eash Job set has 3 tiers.  You start off with the Thug jobs, & if you plug away at them you’ll easily work up enough Experience to get you up to Level 5, where the Associate jobs become available.   These jobs require a slightly higher amount of energy to do per job, & doing these you’ll easily level to Level 9, where the Soldier jobs will open up.

This is what I was doing & I was doing it wrong.

At level 5+ I noticed that I still had a huge amount of Thug jobs to do; at level 9+ I had tons of Thug & Associate jobs still left undone.   I thought, “Why are there so many jobs to be done when we don’t need this many to level?”

And then some other player named Don Ballard came over & dursted me, 5 times in a row, 2 nights in a row.   Bitch!!   She was the same level as me.   When I went after her, I failed.   It was horrible.   Horrible!   It was then that I realized I had to learn what makes one level 11 player stronger than another level 11 player.   It wasn’t enough just to do Jobs to acquire levels.   There were strong Level 11s & weak Level 11s, & I was of the latter persuasion.   Shit!!

And so I had to learn about Skill Points.

Skill Points. Every character has attributes: Attack, Defense, Health, Energy, & Stamina.   Every time you level you get a number of Skill Points which you can use to increase your attributes.   You also gain Skill Points from completing levels of Job Mastery, explained rather helpfully by this chick.   In a nutshell, I could have had gained extra Skill Points if I stuck to the low level jobs.   I’d have leveled more slowly, but I’d be comparatively stronger at each level.

So now, at level 13 (I, uh, gained another level since starting this post), I am busily doing Thug jobs in the hopes of racking up as many extra Skill Points as I can.   Since there are 3 tiers of Thug jobs there are that many more skill points I can use toward my attributes.

Attributes. Trolling the Mafia Wars forums, I found this piece of advice: Attack & Defense should be about twice whatever your level is.   With regard to my problem with Don Ballard, it seemed that Attack & Defense were the 2 stats relevant to my survival when I got into a fight.   Another very helpful article I found informed me that those 3 points I’d spent on Health were stupid.   Oh well; at least it was only 3.   This was starting to feel a little like my Wood Elf Bard in EQ.   Which I rerolled at least 5 times & never got past level 25 or so.   I learn by doing.

Once I beefed up my Attack & Defense a little, I stopped being such an easy kill.   Fuckers would attack me & LOSE.   YEAH BITCHES.   In yo FACE!   Sometimes I attacked them back.   A couple times I lost.   Hm.   Anyway.

The Hitlist. There’s an option, when viewing another player’s profile, to add them to the Hitlist.   Doing this requires you to cough up some money as bounty, & it advertises them as targets to the MW community.   Every time someone came over & beat me up, I’d place them on the Hitlist.   I mentioned this to my Mafia Wars addict friends,  & they unequivocally advised me against it.   It would only cause my “victims” to come back & victimize me.   Instead, they said, let them know whenever someone hit me, & they’d hit back for me.

Linking Don Ballard to my friends was problematic; the browser url for Don Ballard’s page was no different than the url for mine, since anywhere traveled to within the Mafia Wars application was inclusive to it.   Derek finally figured out where to acquire an individual player’s profile url by right-clicking on the player’s name.   And like magic, within minutes Don Ballard was dead & all her properties closed down.

It’s good to have friends.    Friends with high levels in Mafia Wars.    I was starting to feel like part of a gang or something!

Properties. Although Jobs are a beginning player’s means of acquiring funds, properties are the way to actually acquire wealth in the game.   Once you’ve made enough money doing Jobs to buy some undeveloped space (Abandoned Lot, Commercal Block, Beachfront Property), you hopefully have enough money left to build on it (Rent House, Italian Restaurant, Apartment Complex, Valu-Mart, Office Building).   These properties, while costing a nominal upkeep, will provide you with an ongoing source of income, accrued by the hour.   After a certain point, & especially with the Cuban expansion, your New York income becomes unimportant, even the income you lose should someone beat you up.   But you do need that income in the beginning.

When Rodd first invited me to play Mafia Wars, several months ago, I had clicked around in confusion & inadvertently, or really because the game led me to it, bought a property.   I then vowed never to return because the interface made my eyes ache, & during those months before my recent return my property made money.   By the time I decided to give Mafia Wars another try, I had 6 figures.   I spent it on more properties.   A tip on buying property: buy everything in lots of 10.   For every property you own, the buy price goes up a little, so buying it when you own 0 is the cheapest rate you’ll get.

There are several more points to cover regarding Mafia Wars, & I will continue this discussion later.   Please add things I have inevitably missed about Jobs, Skill Points, Attributes, The Hitlist, & Properties; I’m still figuring elements of this game out as I go & this post is certainly premature with regard to complete knowledge of how the game works.


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