An update on Doctor Who: Legacy

I miss the old start screen.

I miss the old start screen.

I haven’t talked much about Doctor Who: Legacy in a while, but that neither means I don’t play it nor that it’s any less of a brilliant game. The simple fact of the matter is that I’ve been playing it since launched in November of 2013 and it’s just difficult to stay rabid about any game for that long. I played and beaten every level, and I own every single character at level 50 (except two that I’m leveling up); there’s just nothing for me to do in the game at the moment. I still log in every day to collect the daily bonus, and I follow their updates for the latest news.

They have a new version of the game coming out within the next couple of weeks, which will add gameplay and bug fixes. Usually with version updates, they also release a new chapter, which is what I’m waiting for: a large chunk of new, challenging levels, with innovative enemies and new allies to collect. They’ve said they’re steering away from their original model of going backwards through the TV series, which is a bit disappointing, personally, because the next series they should be doing is Series 4, which is the one I’ve been looking forward to. However, they’re incorporating more classic seasons, which is always a good thing to me. I think the thing that impresses me the most, though, about their game design is that they continue to come up with great ideas for new enemies and powers, always increasing the variety, interest, and challenge in the game.

Between their major content releases, they trickle out new levels here and there, with Time Crystals, allies, and costumes as rewards. My favorites here are the expert levels, because they really make you think about how to put together the team you need to defeat them and you have to be very careful with your strategies. Another thing they’ve recently added to the game is Anna’s Playground, two levels that have easy-to-defeat enemies and one less color of gems to work with, so that the game can be played by very young children.  Now, how’s that for supporting your young fans?

A lot of their recent content, however, has been in the Fan Area, which you unlock permanently by buying at least $5 worth of Time Crystals in one purchase. They have been beefing up the Fan Area in order to entice more players to unlock it, which only makes me urge you again, if you love the game, to show your support for the game and for Doctor Who, by making even the smallest purchase. Remember that they might call the game model “free to play”, but it really isn’t: behind that gorgeous game is a lot of people who are making their living by creating this for you.

Tiny Rebel Games continues to offer excellent customer support and community engagement, so the game is still excellent on all levels. Have you played Doctor Who: Legacy? No? Then download it now and get to it!


 

Two days ago, they added some Time Fragment farming levels to the Fan Area. I wrote a post quite a while back about how to farm Time Fragments efficiently, so I thought I would discuss the new levels and what I thought about them. Please note that I’ve played each color level once.

In the Fan Area, there are five new levels (one for each color) explicitly designed for Time Fragment farming, with higher-than-normal probabilities of dropping Time Fragments. They are tuned for level 40 characters, and each level consists of two stages, the first of which has two minion enemies and the second of which has two minion enemies and a boss enemy. As usual with most of the rest of the game, the color of the Time Fragment corresponds to the color of the monsters on the stage, so you can tune your farming team to be extra efficient at killing the monsters in the stage. These levels provide no experience points for the allies in the party.

In my farming strategy guide, I named five stages in Chapter 2 (Season 6) that I prefer for farming Time Fragments: “Whispermen Nightmares” (black), “Time Attack: Run!” (gold), “Time Attack: Dinosaurs!” (red), “Angels over London” (blue), and “The Girl Who Waited: Apalapucia?” (green). I chose these levels for the following reasons:

  • They are all single-color levels with enemies with about 15,000 health, so you can tune your farming team to beat them easily.
  • Coming from Chapter 2, they are easy to beat with a team of level 20 characters.
  • Because they’re from Chapter 2 (rather than Chapter 1), these levels also drop pink Time Fragments, which you can’t get in Chapter 1.
  • Each level has a lot of enemies, so there are more chances for dropping Time Fragments.

How do I feel the new levels stack up against my choices? I think they are terrible for farming. Why? Let’s take a look.

The first thing to think about is who needs to farm Time Fragments? Well, first, there are new players who are trying to level up their allies but don’t have enough Time Fragments to do so. These levels, tuned to level 40 allies, can’t be won by new players. These levels are only accessible to people who have level 40 allies. It takes 52 Time Fragments (18 of each of two colors and 16 pink ones) to get an ally to level 40, and another 43 Time Fragments (three of them advanced Time Fragments)  to rank them up to rank 5 so that they can get more powerful, and that’s only one ally. To get a team of six level 40+ characters, that’s more than 570 Time Fragments (“more than” because Doctors take more than allies). A new player won’t be able to use these levels any time soon.

Once you do get that team of level 40+ characters, you may be able to win these levels, but it’s not very likely that it’ll be easy, because they’re probably all different colors. If you’re trying to farm blue and three of your characters are primarily red, they’ll be nearly useless. The best way to farm these levels would be to have the right color on all six characters, to maximize your damage. Five teams of level 40+ characters now means 3,420 Time Fragments you’ve spent leveling them up. In reality, it won’t be so bad, since you don’t have to use a completely mono-color team (and you’re probably best served to have a couple of non-mono-color allies in each team).

So, let’s say you have a nice stable of farming characters to choose from and you’re ready to start farming fragments. These levels are built for challenge. I estimated the health on one of the boss enemies at over 150,000 health. (Enemies in Chapter 2 have around 20,000 health at the most.) The minions have powers such as “stun all characters with colors that I’m vulnerable to” (meaning, the enemy is blue, so stun all green characters), blindness, “nullify all gems that are the color I’m vulnerable to”, “remove all pink gems”. On the first of these levels I tried, I nearly lost. Now, part of this is my fault, because I had two allies that I was leveling up in the team, but even if I had a fully level-50 team it still would have taken a lot of thinking and time to beat the level. In a later level, the enemies kept all of the characters that it was vulnerable to stunned for the entire fight; luckily, I had one matching-color level 50 ally in the party (I love Gabby!) who managed to kill the entire encounter single-handedly, after about ten minutes of playing.

In the end, this is the experience I had with these levels, compared to the levels that I normally farm in:

  • Each level had five monsters and takes two to four times longer to beat, compared to 10+ monsters that can be beaten in one or two minutes.
  • These levels take strategy to beat, compared to levels that can be easily beaten while watching your favorite Doctor Who episode (I do this a lot).
  • These levels need level 40+ characters, compared to levels that can be beaten by level 20 characters.
  • These levels award no experience, compared to levels that can be beaten by low-level characters who would love to be earning 10,000 experience every two minutes or so.

Of course, the draw of these levels is that they have a higher Time Fragment drop rate, so how many Time Fragments did I get from them? In five plays, one for each level, I received 3, 1, 0, 3, and 1 Time Fragments. Now, this is not a valid test, since I played them so infrequently, but I’m used to at least two Time Fragments from each play of my farming levels (usually more, and some of the bigger ones often drop four to seven Fragments). Considering that I can play these levels two to three times in the amount of time I can play one of these new levels, the better choice is clear.

In conclusion, the new farming levels are not worth it. Do buy Time Crystals to unlock the Fan Area because there’s lots of great content in it, but don’t do it for the farming levels, at least not until they redesign them.

Happy birthday, Doctor Who: Legacy!

All thirteen Doctors!

All thirteen Doctors!

I haven’t written about Doctor Who: Legacy in a while, and I think it’s time. Anyone who’s reading this blog probably already knows at least the gist of the game, but I’ll describe it here anyway. It’s a match-3 game (that’s the general descriptor for any game in which there are colored piece on a board and the point is to move them so that 3 or more gems line up in a row and disappear) based on Doctor Who, in which you create a team of one Doctor and five allies and play the match-3 board to defeat enemies.

DW:L debuted on iOS exactly a year ago with one season’s worth of levels, about twenty allies, and two available Doctors, and since has released on Android devices and Facebook, with three seasons’ worth of levels, over 100 allies, and all thirteen TV show Doctors. During the broadcast window of Series 8, it released weekly content based on the episode of the week, rewarding the player with a new ally or costume. It also has an exclusive Fan Area, with more levels and allies, as well as expert levels that take high skill to beat and reward the player with expert versions of favorite characters. DW:L operates on the “free to play” model (abbreviated F2P), meaning that you can download the game for free and if you put enough time and effort into it, you earn most of its content without spending money (exception: the stuff in the Fan Area), but you can purchase currency which you can use to purchase powerups and content that you want right now or having trouble obtaining.

I’ve been playing DW:L ever since it came out, and I’m still pretty rabid about the game. All of my characters are at max level – well, except for the ones that were released last night, but as soon as they were released, I played until I got all of them; I will spend a lot of this weekend leveling them up. The makers of this game, Tiny Rebel Games, did a brilliant job of capturing the essence of Doctor Who – with its huge universe of characters and enemies, but without resorting to a game type that involved direct combat – while providing a game with captivating gameplay and allowing all fans to particpate by using an F2P model. They’re devoted to covering the entire show, from 1963 to the present, working tirelessly to provide more content on a weekly basis.

Tiny Rebel also has fantastic customer service and community support. If you’re the type to interact with other players, you can subscribe to their feeds on Facebook and Twitter for daily news and announcements, receive their weekly newsletter in your email, and go to the forums to talk about your favorite teams and strategies. They regularly poll their audience for suggestions about gameplay and what characters to include next. Last year, at Christmas time, a player suggested that they add a level based on “The Christmas Invasion”, and they had it designed, approved by the BBC, and out to players within a week.

More recently, I’ve been having problems with the game, and they responded immediately and personally. For many months now, my game, on my iPad 2, which is admittedly pretty obsolete technology, has been getting slow and crashing after playing levels. Back in March, I noticed that the game would crash after playing a level around 25 times. Two weeks ago, that number was down to 6 times (or about every 8 minutes). I sent in a support ticket, discussing the matter (I’m a game developer, so I was able to describe the problem in detail, with statistics), and I received a personal response from the game designer, that they were already aware of the issue and was about to put out a new release that hopefully fix it. He also asked me some specific questions about my experience with the issue, and we talked briefly about it.

The point, though, is that they took the time to work with me and address the issues. Absolutely amazing. Earlier this week, they released the promised update, and my game hasn’t crashed since – it’s still running silky smooth after at least a hundred levels. I wrote back to them to thank them for their wonderful work, and to show my appreciation, I purchased in-game currency. That’s the best way to show support for an F2P game.

And here we come to the point of this blog post. I’d like to ask all of you who play and enjoy Doctor Who: Legacy to support them by buying some Time Crystals. You don’t have to spend much: the smallest increment you can buy is $0.99, though if you buy the $4.99 package or above, you also get access to the Fan Area, which has a lot of extra levels (including the best one for farming Rank 5 Time Fragments, “Jenny”), exclusive allies, and better Time Fragment drop rates. What can you do with Time Crystals? Well, you can purchase allies, buy new team slots (I have seven – one for my battle team, one for farming “Jenny”, and five single-color teams for farming Time Fragments), continue levels that defeated you, and reset skill points. Most of mine have gone towards buying allies that are in the store but haven’t been released in the levels yet (like the five-color Silence pack and the Ood pack).

Those are the things you get for buying Time Crystals, but I’d also like to discuss here why it’s important to support DW:L, and honestly, any other F2P game you might be playing. Now, I know there are plenty of people who simply cannot afford to pay for a game like this, who scrape together every dollar to put food on the table and a roof over their kids’ heads. I’m not addressing this to those people. I’m talking to the people who have at least some disposable income but don’t feel that supporting a F2P is a good idea.

Like I said, I’m in the games industry, and I’ve heard all of the reasons why people don’t like to buy things in “free to play” games. Here are some of them:

  • “They’re ‘free to play’! ‘Free’ is right in the name. That means I don’t have to spend any money.”
  • “I won’t pay real money for pixels.”
  • “It’s just a game.”

The term “free to play” is a bit of a misnomer. The name “free to play” does not mean everything in the game is free. Yes, it’s free to download the game and you can play it as much as you want for free, but in most of these games, there is either content you can’t get if you never pay, or you’ll find yourself working much harder for things that paying players can get right away. DW:L has a little bit of content you can’t get for free, in its Fan Area, but in general, it went the second route. You might take 40 plays of a level to obtain an ally that a paying player can buy from the store, so it’s really just a matter of which you prefer to do: spend time, or spend money.

The real issue are the second two claims, or specifically, how people view games, especially computer games. There’s a popular view that games are for children, or not serious, or just a diversion. In my opinion, they are just as valid a source of entertainment as books, movies, TV, and music, and no one has a problem paying for those. Take any game you’ve played and enjoyed: Doctor Who: Legacy, hopefully, but if not, let’s try Farmville, or World of Warcraft, or Call of Duty, or even things like Monopoly, or poker, or solitaire. How much time have you spent playing that game? You may have enjoyed it for any number of reasons: the game itself, the strategy, winning, the social interactions… The list goes on. And for most games, people go on to talk about it with their friends, about the characters or items you’ve collected, or the raid last week, or “What’s your strategy for beating that boss?” or “Remember that time we played poker in the dorm lounge?” People devote hundreds of hours to playing games and talking about them, and still consider them less valid as entertainment and media than that movie they paid $7 to see that got 23% on Rotten Tomatoes. (That’s The Decoy Bride, by the way. I will never get those eighty-nine minutes of my life back.)

And there’s the thing: these games provide valued entertainment, and someone makes them. Games don’t come out nowhere. There are probably twenty or thirty people whose jobs it is to create the DW:L software, design the characters and levels, draw the art, test all of it when it’s put together, and reach out to the players to help them with issues and find out what they want, and they do this every week. For the DW:L team, who are all fans of the show, it’s a labor of love, but it’s also their livelihood, what puts food on their tables. They’ve put together a marvelous game, and they’ve offered it as F2P so that as many fans can play it as possible. They could have made it a $15 one-payment-only app, but only a fraction of the fanbase would have even tried it out. F2P makes it so that the people who continue to play the game support its further development.

So think about it. I’m not saying to pay money to all F2P games; I’m asking you to throw a dollar or two in the direction of the F2P games that are really good, that have entertained you and made you happy. Has Doctor Who: Legacy given you 20 hours of quality entertainment? Then support them. You’ll be helping pay for their salaries as well as funding future content and development on the game. And you’ll be getting some Time Crystals in return, to help you enjoy your game more right now. It’s win-win, helping them (and telling them in the most direct way that you like what they’re doing) and getting something for you. If I can get even one person to make a purchase in Doctor Who: Legacy who otherwise wouldn’t have, I would so happy, because I really believe they deserve our support.

Doctor Who: Legacy – Rank 5

It’s August, and that means that Doctor Who: Legacy is submitted their newest update to Apple, Google Play, and Facebook for approval, and hopefully within a week or two, it’ll be live! The new content, which is an extension of Season 5, is called “The Search for Greyhound One,” which indicates we’ll be looking for the Brigadier. There will be new levels, as well as new companions, including Ace, Idris, and Rose. Luckily, there was a contest for Ace which I was able to get in on, and I received her today. At the moment, she’s level 32, and I should have her at level 50 tomorrow.

I’ve been meaning to write a guide to rank 5 for a while, but have been putting it off. So, even though it’s pretty late, here you go!

(Check out my other guides.)

Ranking Up

Up until the previous update, the highest rank and level a Doctor or companion to achieve was rank 4 and level 40. Now, level 40 characters can be ranked up to rank 5, allowing them to level up to level 50. In order rank up to rank 5, you must spend regular Time Fragments plus special new Time Fragments. I don’t know what they’re officially called, so this is what I’m calling them:

  • Rassilon: the Time Fragment that’s aqua in color and is shaped like the Symbol of Rassilon
  • Diamond: the Time Fragment that’s light gold in color and is diamond-shaped
  • Rainbow: the Time Fragment that’s rainbow-colored

The new Time Fragments drop from enemies in the top levels of Season 5, the top levels of the Fan Area, and the Expert levels. The level selection page shows which fragments drop in each level (though it can only display two and in most multi-stage levels, all three types of new fragments drop; more on this in the “Farming the New Fragments” section).

Here are the number of Time Fragments you need to level a character to rank 5. (remember that “vulnerable color” is the color that character does double damage to, so for example, a Green character’s vulnerable color is Blue):

Doctor:

  • 25 Time Fragments of the main color
  • 25 Time Fragments of the vulnerable color
  • 5 Rainbow Time Fragments

Companion:

  • 20 Time Fragments of the main color
  • 20 Time Fragments of the vulnerable color
  • If the companion is Red, Blue, or Green, 3 Diamond Time Fragments
  • If the companion is Black or Gold, 3 Rassilon Time Fragments

When you rank a character (Doctor or companion) up to rank 5, he gets a secondary color (more on that later) and his power(s) change. If he’s a Doctor, his attributes increase. If he’s a companion, his attributes stay the same, but he changes to level 41 and can level up to 50.

Secondary Colors

For Doctors (but not advanced Doctors from the Expert levels), the secondary color is always the color of the previous Doctor. So, for example, the Sixth Doctor’s secondary color is Green, because the Fifth Doctor’s color is Green. For companions and advanced Doctors, there doesn’t seem to be a pattern for the secondary color choice.

What does a secondary color do? Well, on the surface, it allows the character a second attack with that color. For example, if a character is Blue/Red, it will attack when you match either Blue or Red gems. If you match both Blue and Red in one turn, the character will attack with both. However, that also means that character counts as both colors, so if an enemy does a Stun Red, it will stun any character that has Red as its primary or secondary color.

  • If the secondary color is different from the primary color, its attack attribute is 30% of its main attack attribute. That is, a Blue/Red character with an attack of 1000 will have 1000 when it attacks with Blue and 300 when it attacks with Red.
  • If the secondary color is the same as the primary color, its attack attribute is 10% of its main attack attribute. That is, a Blue/Blue character with an attack of 1000 will have 1100 when it attacks with Blue.

Secondary colors add more strategy to the game, as you might decide to choose one character over another because its secondary color is more useful. For example, in a level with Black and Green enemies, you might choose to use Jimmy Wicks Ganger (Gold/Green) over Madame Vastra (Gold/Blue) because Vastra’s secondary color is weak against Green.

Power Changes

When a character is ranked up to 5, the power is changed in a significant way, rather than simply becoming a slightly more powerful version like it did in previous rank-ups. Here are some of the ways the powers change:

  • Number of turns to power up is decreased
  • Absolute damage becomes percentage damage (e.g. “Deals 5000 damage to an enemy” becomes “Deals 25% damage to an enemy”)
  • Absolute healing becomes percentage healing (e.g. “Heals 5000 HP” becomes “Heals 25% HP”)
  • A power that turns one color of gem to another color now turns two colors of gem to that other color

Most of these power changes have been good. In specific, the change from absolute damage to percentage damage was sorely needed. Powers that did 10000 damage to all enemies were powerful in Season 7 and Season 6, but in Season 5, where many enemies had 200,000 HP or more, those powers were useless. Now they do percentage damage, which means the damage is scaled to the enemy’s current HP, making it very useful against high-HP enemies.

The one power that suffered is healing. Because your team tends to have 10,000 HP, or maybe 20,000 HP at the most, powers that do 5000 or 10000 HP in healing are very useful; 25% healing won’t do much for you. Because of this, you might want to not rank up your healers to rank 5. It completely depends on your play style and team composition, of course.

Farming the New Fragments

So, now that there are new Time Fragments, where do you get them, and what’s the most efficient way to farm for them? As I listed above, the Time Fragments are currently available in three places:

  • The top levels of Season Five
  • The top levels of the Fan Area
  • The Expert levels

Note that there are no levels that drop both regular Time Fragments and new Time Fragments. You must farm them separately.

First things first: you don’t want to farm them from the Expert levels. They’re difficult, and take fifteen minutes or more to defeat, so they’re not time-efficient.

So, where’s the most efficient place to get the new Time Fragments? Well, this is based on somewhat anecdotal evidence, though I did do some data-gathering that tends to support this, but if you have the Fan Area open, you should be farming there. We know that the Time Fragment drop rates are higher there, but also, the levels in the Fan Area are easier, letting you breeze through them, rather than fight hard for every enemy you face. I spent quite a bit of time playing through the multi-stage levels in Season 5 and got very few drops while spending a lot of time beating each stage. Then I did the same thing playing the level “Jenny” in the Fan Area, which can drop all three types of new fragments, and I was usually getting one fragment a game, with very little effort and time invested. So this is my advice:

  • If you have the Fan Area unlocked, play the level “Jenny.” All three monsters in the level drop the Rainbow, the outer two drop the Diamond, and the middle one drops the Rassilon. (If you only need the Rassilon symbol, play “[Easy] Daleks at the Rift” instead, because it’s far faster to kill one easy monster.)
  • If you don’t have the Fan Area unlocked, play “The Impossible Planet,” with a Green team with Black support. It drops all symbols, and the fact that it’s mostly Blue with a little Gold and Black makes it easy to tailor your team to beat it. (The other long levels that drop the new fragments have enemies of all colors.)
  • Caveat: If the game is running an “extra experience and extra fragment drop” promotion for an area, farm there. The extra drop chance is very high and completely worth it.
  • Don’t concentrate on farming Rainbow symbols for your Doctors, because you’ll get them while you’re farming the others. With 16 Doctors at the moment, you only need 80 Rainbows total, while you’ll need nearly 250 total of the other two fragments, so they’re the ones you need to focus on.

 

And then there’s Facebook…

The new title page on iOS. Gorgeous!

The new title page on iOS. Gorgeous!

Doctor Who: Legacy released their Facebook version on Friday. For those of you who don’t have a tablet or smartphone to get the iOS or Android version, you now have the ability to match gems and collect all of your favorite characters and Doctors! Remember, it’s a free game, so why not check it out?

Though I already am playing it on iOS (and am probably a week away from maxxing out all of the characters yet again – rank 5 has been hella fun; I need to write a guide on it), I installed the Facebook version and tried it out, and I have to say that I’m not too impressed with it. Now, if you don’t have the ability to play it on iOS or Android, then Facebook is the only way to go and I definitely recommend playing it there, because this game is worth a look for any fan. However, if you can play it on a different platform, don’t bother with the Facebook version.

Just as a note, you should know that I’ve been working in game development for Facebook games for a number of years now, and have also done some development on iOS, so I’m looking at this from the point of view of a person who not only plays the games on these platforms, but also has to consider how to make games on these platforms fun and enticing. It’s a slightly different point of view from that of a person who just wants to play games.

Without getting into the technical details, the problem with DW:L on Facebook is that it’s designed to be a tablet game, and it relies heavily on being able to accurately move pieces around by touching the screen directly with your finger and dragging them where you want them to go. If you’re playing on Facebook, you’re most likely using a mouse, and you just don’t have the speed and accuracy this game requires. This game is not like Bejeweled, in which you’re moving one piece to the next slot and letting go; you’re moving one piece all over the board within a strict time limit, and if you skirt a corner, you move pieces you don’t want to move. After a few plays, I was getting better on the accuracy, but it was very obvious that I would never achieve the speed that I have on the tablet, and therefore I won’t be able to play at the level I play on the tablet. This is one of the hazards of porting a game to another platform: things that are designed to work well on one may not work well on another, given the type of display, input devices, and other things, and DW:L just doesn’t work as well with a mouse.

The game itself also looks very much like it’s a tablet game being shown in a web browser. There’s a good reason for that: it is a tablet game being shown in a web browser. It’s built in a game engine called Unity, which allows the developer to create one game and present it on different platforms easily. (If, for example, they had used an iOS-specific engine to build game for iOS tablets, when they wanted to release the game on Android or Facebook, they’d have to create the game from scratch again on a new engine for each platform. This is what Unity prevents.) It’s a great concept and makes development easier, but the presentation of the game doesn’t look very polished in a web browser – it doesn’t look like it was made to be played on a computer. It also seemed to me that the graphics were a bit fuzzy, but I could be wrong.

Another thing that surprised me was that the game was exactly the same, without any features to take advantage of Facebook as a platform. If you’re familiar with Facebook gaming at all, you know how it works: a person playing a game usually spams his friends with posts from that game. Now, you’re probably thinking, “That’s great! DW:L won’t spam my friends!” but on the other hand, how do you tell your friends to check out this awesome game? I had to make a status update on my wall to do so, and if I wanted to post an image to demonstrate just how great the game looked, I’d have to take a screenshot and process it on my own. On the one hand, it’s nice that the game isn’t spamming my wall, but on the other hand, there’s no way for me to advertise it to my friends for them or to invite my friends to join me in plaing it.

And that’s really the crux of it: Facebook is a social gaming platform. The whole point of its gaming is that you do it with friends. DW:L ignores all that: there’s no way to post your favorite teams, or see what characters your friends have collected, or challenge someone to beat your score. All of its community is built outside of the game. It’s a decidedly single-player on a social platform, with less ease of play than its original form on the tablets. The tablets can have social gaming, but it’s the thing that Facebook makes easy, and DW:L hasn’t taken advantage of it.

So, final verdict? DW:L is still a great game, but Facebook isn’t the platform for it. If you don’t have a tablet or a smartphone, I still recommend checking it out on Facebook, because it’s brilliantly fun and addictive, but if you do have one, play it there instead.

Doctor Who: Legacy – Experience and Fragment Farming

It’s very common in most games in which you are trying to level characters up that you end up at a point where you run out of game content and all you’re doing is trying to gather experience or items to continue to make levels on those characters, and Doctor Who: Legacy is no different. The problem, of course, is that gathering, otherwise known as “farming,” is boring, because usually the most interesting levels to play are not the ones that are quick to complete or provide the most character progress. Thus, your best bet is to find the fastest, most efficient levels to run through over and over again. This guide gives suggestions on levels to play based on what you’re trying to accomplish, along with the reasons why these levels are good.

Please note, these are the levels that I’ve decided work best for me. You can probably find discussions on the web that suggest more levels, and they might work better for you.

(Check out my other guides.)

Farming Time Fragments

To level a single character to rank 4, you need a total of 36 Time Fragments, 18 of two different colors. If it’s a Doctor, that number goes up to 48 Time Fragments (24 of each color). With rank 5 becoming available later this week, we can extrapolate that those totals to get to rank 5 will be 64 Time Fragments for companions, and 80 for Doctors. That’s a lot of Time Fragments! And that’s not counting the number of Pink Time Fragments (18 / 32 for companions, 24 / 40 for Doctors)! How do you get all those fragments?

There are a few things you have to consider to find good levels to farm for the fragments you want. First is ease of completion: if the level is too hard to complete easily, you’ll spend too much time playing the level, when you could play a different level twice in the same amount of time. Second is whether or not you need Pink fragments: if you do, you can’t play Season 7, which doesn’t drop them. Third is how well the fragments drop: while I don’t have hard data, it seems that some enemies drop fragments far more often than others. For example, Weeping Angels seem to drop Blue fragments very often, while Handbots drop Green fragments rather rarely.

Another problem that I had finding good farming levels was that while the symbols on the level tell you the most common enemy colors found in that level, they’re often misleading. For example, a level might show Red and Green, so you play it because you want Green, but it’s mostly populated with Red enemies, with one Green enemy, one Blue enemy, and one Gold enemy, making it more or less useless for Green farming.

Thus, I finally chose farming levels given the following criteria:

  • They’re in Season 6, so they give Pink fragments but aren’t too hard.  I stuck to the ones in the lower half of the season. (If you don’t need Pink fragments, you can try Season 7, since those levels will be even faster to whip through.)
  • They produce only one color. You’re guaranteed the color you want, and it makes it easy to overwhelm the level with a single-color team (which also allows you to earn the single-color team achievements).
  • The enemies drop their fragments often, or the level has plenty of the enemy, to increase the chance of drops (preferably both).

Then, for each color level, I created a team of the color that beats that level’s color, with these rules:

  • One Doctor and at least one or two high-level companions (for damage output).
  • The rest of the companions can be there to gain experience. You’ll be fragment farming enough that you’ll level up your other characters as you go along.
  • At least one color-changing character, so that if you run out of your damage color, you can convert gems to the color you need. (Note: For Green, the Second Doctor is fantastic, but you have to keep an eye on him. His first power is the color change and it comes up very quick, but it quickly turns into the second power, which is useless for farming. Be sure to fire off his color change as soon as it becomes available.)
  • The perks are selected to maximize your color damage. It really helps.

Once you have your levels and teams selected, you’re ready to go. Here are the levels I chose to farm:

  • Black: Whispermen Nightmares
  • Gold: Time Attack: Run!
  • Red: Time Attack: Dinosaurs!
  • Blue: Angels over London
  • Green: The Girl Who Waited: Apalapucia?

The Green level is actually not very good (it’s short and Rorybots have a terrible drop rate) but there isn’t any other Green choice. You may not like the time-limited levels for Gold and Red, but their drop rates are very good.

Farming Experience

Single-Color Teams

Because Time Fragments are such a limiting reagent, experience farming will be secondary: while you’re fragment farming, as long as you keep switching out maxed-out characters for characters that need experience, you’ll level them up on the experience from fragment farming. However, what if you’re not fragment farming? Well, the easiest levels to experience farm on are the ones with the fewest enemies.

  • Find levels that three or less stages. A single stage is best, but those often come with very tough enemies that might take as long as other levels with more stages.
  • Try to use a single-color level.
  • Use as many characters as you can that beats the color of the stage.
  • Of the levels that you find that fit the above criteria, play the highest-experience one that you can beat easily.

I found that I spent most of my time fragment farming and made plenty of experience to level up my characters during that, so I didn’t figure out which levels would be good for straight experience farming, except for one. “Sontaran Captain Vade the Defiant” is a mono-Gold level in Season 6 where you battle Vade twice. With a team and perks weighted towards Black, this level is quick to get though and awards 21,000 experience.

Multi-Color Teams

What if you  have a bunch of characters that you want to farm experience for, but they’re all different colors? I recommend using the Season 5 level “A Very Sontaran Christmas.” That’s right, use the time-limited single Toclafane level. Why? Because it’s a fast level if you know how to beat it. Check out my discussion on it, but here’s the quick once-over.

  • Toclafane take only 1 damage per attack, so diversify your team colors and make sure to attack with as many colors every turn as you can.
  • Don’t double up on attacks (as in, match two different Red matches). It doesn’t add damage, and the combos make them take longer, eating up precious time.
  • Try to attack every turn with whatever color you have two characters of. That’s two damage instead of just one.

Once you can beat it, this level is fantastic for gaining experience on characters of different colors. Why?

  • It lasts 90 seconds at most.
  • It gives over 15,000 experience. That’s 15k experience every 90 seconds (and usually I beat this level in 60 seconds).
  • Toclafane don’t do much damage. That means with a high-ranked Doctor, you can use low-level characters – they do as much damage as high-level characters.

 

Doctor Who: Legacy – the Toclafane

Toclafane-sphereWith Season Five in Doctor Who: Legacy, the difficulty of the game ramps quite a bit, with enemies with new powers, high attack, and large amounts of HP. However, the first roadblock level appears third, titled “A Very Sontaran Christmas.” With a name like that, you expect a normal level with a bunch of Sontaran to defeat, and maybe some Christmas trees and robot Santas, but instead, you have 90 seconds to defeat a single black Toclafane. I encountered it immediately after the update and I paid a Time Crystal to get past it, because I could not beat it and I wanted to get on with seeing the rest of the content. Since the release of the season, the developers have toned down the difficulty of this level, but you might still find it to be difficult or impossible, and the Toclafane continue to reappear throughout Season Five. So, here’s an explanation of how they work and some tips on how to defeat them.

(Check out my other guides.)

The reason that the Toclafane are so difficult is that they take damage differently from every other enemy. Do you remember them in “The Sound of Drums” / “Last of the Time Lords?” They had nearly impenetrable armor, and the only way Martha could kill one was to electrocute it. The Toclafane in the game reflect this quality, and sadly, there is no electrocution that you can use to kill one easily. Here’s how they work.

  • Each hit on a Toclafane does 1 point of damage.
  • The Toclafane in “A Very Sontaran Christmas” has 20 HP.
  • The Toclafane in “A Very  Sontaran Christmas” has a damage attack and a lock move that locks a row or column on the edge of the board.
  • You have 90 seconds to defeat this Toclafane.

Considering these qualities, these are the concepts and strategies you need to consider while building your team and playing “A Very Sontaran Christmas.”

  • Since everyone does 1 point of damage, attack is not important. Choose team members for HP and/or healing.
  • In most cases, you won’t be using your characters’ powers. Time ticks down while you look at them, so you don’t have the time to think about them.
  • You will defeat the level in about 6-7 turns (that’s all the time you have), so powers that take more turns than that to turn on are useless.
  • Diversify colors. Have one of each color on your team, so that every match you make will do damage.
  • Make combos. Time ticks down while all the animations are playing, so you don’t want to make single-match moves and waste the time waiting for their animations to play.
  • Make combos, but not of matches of the same color. If you match two sets of 3 reds, that only adds extra damage to your red characters who are already attacking, and that extra damage doesn’t count (it always only does 1 point). You could have kept that second set of red for the next round.
  • You will have two characters of one color – that’s your staple color. A match of your staple color does two damage, since you have two characters attacking. Concentrate on making that color attack as often as possible.
  • If the Toclafane is going to use a Lock move, don’t leave good moves on the edge of the screen for the next turn. It might lock that edge.
  • “Resist lock 1 turn for team” is a good perk to use if you have it.

Once you get the hang of “A Very Sontaran Christmas,” it’s actually pretty easy, and is not a bad power-leveling level. It gives a little over 10,000 experience points every 90 seconds, which is a pretty good rate, and since every character deals the same damage and the Toclafane doesn’t hit all that hard or very often, you can defeat the level with characters in their teens or 20s.

The Toclafane reappear in many levels during Season Five, and they get progressively harder, even though none of the later ones are timed (as far as I’ve gotten anyway). I just defeated “Rise of the Master part 3” and it took me at least twenty tries, with a lot of tweaking of my team and perks. Without the time limit, the difficulty of this level stemmed from having to defeat three Toclafane directly. The two on the outside simply attacked every round, while the one in the middle had a damage attack (two rounds), a heal, and something else I can’t remember – I’ll try to remember to come back and edit this post if I ever try that level again. The problem, of course, is that the Toclafane are just doing more damage than you can reliably heal, while you’re trying to whittle down one of them faster than the center enemy can heal it. Here are the strategies I used (repeating ones from the top list if they’re relevant).

  • Since everyone does 1 point of damage, attack is not important. Choose team members for HP and/or healing.
  • Diversify colors. Have one of each color on your team, so that every match you make will do damage.
  • You will have two characters of one color – that’s your staple color. A match of your staple color does two damage, since you have two characters attacking. Concentrate on making that color attack as often as possible.
  • The most important thing is to kill one of the Toclafane. Once one is dead, the other two are pretty much pushovers. But all three together is deadly. Choose one and concentrate on it.
  • Given the point above, the early game is all that matters, and thus, choose characters that gain their powers in 4-5 turns if possible.
  • Make combos, as much as possible. You don’t have a time limit, so animation time is not important. However, the Doctor’s power becomes available based on the number of combos you make, so the more and the bigger the combos you make, the sooner he can fire off his power.
  • Choose good perks. More discussion about this below.
  • Choose good powers. More discussion about this below, too.

Here is the team and strategies I used.

  • Doctor: Third Doctor or War Doctor – 30% damage to all enemies can’t be beat – that’s 6 damage to each Toclafane.
  • Red: Clara – healer
  • Gold: I used Amy because I got her mixed up with Special Agent Amy Pond, a red healer. Amy is the wrong person to use. You can either go with someone who will do 1 damage to all enemies, like Madame Vastra, or the only gold healer, Old Canton Everett Delaware III. (Well, as far as the characters that I have go, anyway.)
  • Green: Rory
  • Black: K-9 Mk 2 – stunner. He gets his stun pretty early, as far as stunners go.
  • Blue: Bitey the Cybermat – every four turns, he can make some pink gems to help you heal. This is crucial. There are other characters that do this, and I’d replace other characters with them if their power-up count is low enough.
  • Perks:
    • Set Basic Attribute 1 and Basic Attribute 2 to either “Increase HP” or “Increase Healing.” Ignored all the other perks on the Perk 1 tab.
    • Debuff Resistance: After playing the level, I set this to either Resist Lock or Resist Stun. I don’t remember if there’s stunning on any of the Toclafane levels.
    • Doctor Enhance: Set to “Doctor’s skill gets 3 charges after taking DMG.” You’ll be taking damage every turn, so this is a fantastic way to power up the Doctor.
    • Death Resist: Set to “Anytime HP under 40%, heal 10% HP for team.” Or you can use the one that gives you 10% damage resistance.
  • Powers:
    • Choose powers with fast turn counts. You want to be able to use them early as you’re trying to defeat the first Toclafane.
    • “Damage all enemies” powers are ok, not bad but not great. You’ll do 1 damage to each enemy. There are better ones, but this isn’t bad.
    • Heals are important. You can choose direct heal, increase to pink gem powers, conversion of gems to pink. All of these will help.
    • Don’t choose turning one color to another color (other than pink): You want to diversify your gems, not make them all the same color.
    • A stun is nice, but they take so long to turn on, don’t use more than one.
  • Once the team and perks were in place, I selected a Toclafane and concentrated on it. I think I finally won while targeting the one on the left, but I haven’t decided if targeting the one in the middle would be better.
  • I kept a close eye on my HP and made sure to heal efficiently. Make sure that you do not overheal: don’t use pink gems you don’t need, in case you need them the next turn.
  • If all of the Toclafane are attacking on the same turn, make sure you’re at full HP. The center one hits very hard.
  • I will admit that my victory in “The Rise of the Master, part 3” took a bit of luck, with a fortuitous set of enemy attack choices and boards with good healing.

And that’s the Toclafane. If I come up with any more ideas on how to fight them, I’ll modify this post. I’ll also do that if I come up with a better way to organize this information – man this post is ugly.  Anyway, they were incredibly fun to fight, because they made me think about this game in a completely different way. I’m looking forward to the next innovative enemy type.

 

A bit about Legacy’s recent update

Coming tonight!

Coming tonight!

Been a bit busy this week, what with the office move and computer problems and actually trying to get work done, as well as leisure time stuff I’m trying to get done. I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that Doctor Who: Legacy was about to release a major update, so I thought I’d comment about it now.

DW:L’s first major update came out two or three weeks ago, and it was quite a doozy. First, it added the new Perks system, which allows you to boost the power level of your team by selecting from a menu of powers. For example, one perk is +5% bonus damage from a color, and you get to choose which color. These perks are unlocked with points you earn as you level and rank up companions. I have to admit I don’t know much more about the unlock process, because at the level my account is at, all of the perks have already been unlocked. There are perks you can purchase with Time Crystals, but I haven’t bought any of those yet. I do plan to, but not at the moment.

The perks give you a much-needed boost to your power, because, as I discuss below, the new content is actually challenging. On the other hand, it makes the game a little fiddly: when you move to a new level to play and its enemies are a different color than what you’re set up to battle, you have to leave the Episodes screen and go to the Team screen, then to the Perks screen and re-select your perks. It would be very helpful if there was a direct button to take you back and forth between episode team-selection screen and the perks selection screen, but even then, adding that layer of team setup interrupts the flow of play, which is something that games don’t want to do: they want you to have a seamless experience so that you get immersed in them. I suppose the ideal thing would be to provide slots for five different perk configurations, so that you can save the sets of perks you use the most and select them with one tap. I will note that the DW:L team is very responsive and wants their game to be easy to play, so I expect something like that will be developed in the future.

The other big thing that the update added was a whole new set of levels, Season 5. Of course, this content includes new companions and new Doctors to collect, but I think the most important thing to note about it is how challenging it is. While I enjoyed Season 7 and Season 6, I whizzed through them pretty quickly, and I never bothered to tailor any teams so that the character powers were helpful, except when I needed a poison remover like the Eighth Doctor. In fact, I always created teams based on highest attack and ignored HP or healing characters, and I complained that I never got to use the Tenth Doctor because his power was healing and I literally never needed healing beyond what I could get from pink gems. Well, Season 5 completely turns that around. First, the enemies are much larger and hit much harder, so you have to pay close attention to turn counts and HP, to make sure you can stay alive. Second, enemy powers are getting far more interesting. There’s one enemy that repeatedly locks a column of gems, going across the screen, forcing you to make some decisions about what side of the screen you’ll make your move on and how hard you’re going to try to clear those locks. Another enemy power is Blind, which hides all of the gems on the screen. I’ve learned to start memorizing where the gems are, so that I can match them without seeing their colors (and this is a fun way to play).

I’ve now started to put together teams that have complementary powers, though I’m still focusing on attack, as that’s my play style, and this is great: I want challenge. However, I wonder if there are players that are being driven away by the difficulty of this season. I know that the game team is refining the power level of the early levels of the season, but if this season is any indication of the future, Season 4 is going to be a doozy. On the other hand, if they keep the difficulty around this level but innovate with enemy powers like they’ve demonstrated they can so far, that would make me happy without alienating the casual players. One other problem the difficulty has revealed is that characters with direct damage powers, such as the Eleventh Doctor’s “do 11000 damage to all enemies” are now worthless. The enemies have 100,000s of HP, and 11,000 damage barely dinks them. I’ve resorted to only using the Third Doctor, because his damage power is a percentage. If the enemies are going to have this much HP, they need to rebalance the character damage powers.

In addition to the items noted above, the game has also added new achievements, UI improvements, the ability to skip past story/dialogue you’ve already seen, the ability to buy Doctor Who episodes from iTunes from the app, and more things to buy. DW:L is keeping up its tradition of quality game and content, and it continues to be as addicting as it ever was. I continue to recommend this game to everyone who will listen to me – go out and play it!