Friday, January 10, 2014

Farm Wars Canceled Due To Cheating!

I am very sad to report that last week's Farm Wars turned out to be a total bust.  I was excited about this little contest, and it was really fun the first few days with some frenzied competition and good-natured ribbing between the competitors over at the Get ur Groove with FV 2 Facebook group.  We had a message thread there devoted to the contest where Cathy and I would squabble while our friends got in on the fun by making their own comments, instigating mock strife and cheering us on (most of them rooting for Cathy Perry).

But then it turned ugly.

Cathy was perplexed and upset that I was maintaining a lead of 1000+ points over her, so she started making reckless and baseless accusations that I was using a golden shovel; the purchase of which was prohibited by the rules we established for the contest.

This is what I said to Cathy when she accused me.

Of course, any notion that I was using a Golden Shovel is utterly preposterous and easily disproved by virtue of the way the golden shovel works.

Picture of Golden Shovel in action taken from Zynga's County Fair Guide

For those who don't know, when you buy a golden shovel, the points for every prized good you harvest for the following 24 hours is doubled.  Now, when you have a low medal like a bronze or silver, it is not uncommon to get 30+ points per prized good without a golden shovel.  But once you rise to the level of Platinum medal, such as Cathy and I both have, even your fully mastered crops and trees yield no more than 8-13 points or so.

My understanding of the reason behind this is that the game has a built-in handicap, supposedly designed to even the playing field for everyone (but more likely designed to persuade advanced players to buy golden shovels). Hence, the higher you rise through the County Fair ranks in medal levels, the lower the value of your prized harvests.  It"s counter-intuitive, I know.  But this is how Zynga apparently chose to do it.

Which brings me to the reason why Cathy's suggestion that I had purchased a golden shovel was ludicrous, as well as the evidence I uncovered that Cathy was the one who appeared to have actually purchased a golden shovel and cheated!  Here are screen-caps taken from the County Fair wagon showing my best prize good (left) and Cathy's (right), circled in red.

These screenshots were taken on the eve before the County Fair of Thursday, January 9, 2014.

Notice a minor disparity in point values there?  As you can see, my best prize good is a 13 point heirloom grapefruit, while Cathy's best prize good is a 36 point heirloom acorn!  Obviously, were I using a golden shovel I would be getting much more than 13 measly little points for my prize goods, and therefore Cathy's accusations were total nonsense.

But Cathy's little "best-defense-is-a-good-offense" approach to Farm Wars backfired on her, since by pointlessly calling me out, she caused me to look at her best prize goods; and lo and behold that's when I caught Cathy red-handed in possession of prize goods in the 36 point range -- 23 points more than my best ever!  Golden Shovel, indeed!

"How could this be?" I wondered.  We are both Platinum Medal XVII, so all things should be equal insofar as our ability to compete with each other on a level playing field for prize good points commensurate with our platinum medals.  After pondering it for a bit I reached the conclusion that there could be no other explanation - Cathy must be using a Golden Shovel!

So after this little discovery of mine, I was like,

And Cathy was like,

And so I asked her point blank,

She tried to deny it, feigning ignorance!  Which of course begged the follow-up question,

First she said "Oh, I have big trees, so they give me big acorns!"

Which was an asinine thing to say.  Obviously she was panicking, now just realizing that she had been caught in the act!  So, after pressing further, her excuse changed to, "Oh, I know, it must be due to mastery!"

So I told her that is BS, because my grapefruit trees are fully mastered and yet they only yield 13 point prized goods at best.  Mastery alone cannot explain a 36 point acorn!

A screenshot of my grapefruit tree ribbons. Blue=Fully mastered

So then her excuse changed to, "I know what happened now... It must be a Zynga glitch!"

Now, I will be the first to admit, this game is riddled with all manner of bugs, glitches and screw-ups.  But if Cathy's 36 point acorn is owing to such a thing, it would be the first time in the history of the world that any player has ever benefited from a "Zynga glitch."

As anyone who has played this game for any length of time knows, the usual Zynga glitch is the gaming experience equivalent of being repeatedly smacked across the face with a dirty rubber chicken

Which is to say, it is never what one would describe as a pleasant experience.

For instance, Kathy Jones and I have been suffering a glitch where every time we achieve a mastery ribbon, as well as each time we attempt to store an elder tree in inventory, our game crashes.  In poor Kathy's case, this has been going on for weeks.  According to Zynga, "We are completely aware of this matter and rest assured this will be corrected soon."  Which in Zynga-speak translates to, "Yeah, yeah we know, we know.  Now stop bugging us about it.  We'll get to it eventually.  Maybe."  But I digress.

It is worthy to note that Cathy's best prize crop this week is a 12 point cherry.  So not only would Cathy have us believe that this was the first time in the history of the world that any player has ever benefited from a Zynga glitch, but it was also the fastest glitch ever fixed by Zynga in history!

Fastest glitch-fix in history, or she just hasn't bought a golden shovel yet this week? You make the call!

Even though I felt that I knew the truth, I thought I'd give Cathy enough rope to hang herself the benefit of the doubt, so I came up with the brilliant stupid idea of  suggesting we each take screenshots of our respective game dashboards to prove once and for all that no Golden Shovel had been purchased by either of us.  I posted mine first, as a gesture of good faith.

I knew almost as soon as I proposed this ill-conceived idea of mine that Cathy would simply claim to be incapable of figuring out how to post a screenshot, even though it was a 10 second/3 keystroke procedure that any small child could accomplish, and even after it was fully elucidated, illustrated and demonstrated for her via detailed tutorials, diagrams, YouTube videos, etc.

This way she could stall me while the timer on her shovel ticked away and expired!

I predicted that once the shovel disappeared from her dashboard hours later, she would magically proclaim, "Eureka!  I have just this very second mastered the elusive screenshot ability!" while posting a worthless belated screenshot of her suddenly clean dashboard, devoid of the Golden Shovel which was undoubtedly evident there just moments prior to expiring.

Lynn Hubbard's valiant efforts to help were in vain.

Sure enough just as I predicted, about four hours later and after much hemming and hawing about how she needed to wait for Kathy Jones to come home from work in order to provide her with a series of hand-drawn step-by-step diagrams indicating how to accomplish the monumental task at hand, Cathy posted her triumphant screenshot.

At this point Cathy's friends all rallied around her to applaud her new-found screenshot ability, completely oblivious to the fact that it no longer mattered one iota, due to the time which had elapsed since I posted mine.  Clearly, the timer on the shovel had run out, and the shovel icon had disappeared from her dashboard by this point.  This fact seemed to be lost on everyone, and it all became a singular celebration of Cathy's miraculous screenshot accomplishment.

It was like watching a party being thrown for an infant who had just successfully made their first bowel movement inside a potty training apparatus.

For the record, I like Cathy and consider her a friend.  I haven't known her for too long, but thus far she has proven herself to be a good FV2 neighbor, a fun person to interact with online and a genuinely good person deep down inside (when she's not molesting my buffalo or threatening to murder my turkey, Carlos).

So the last thing I ever wanted to believe is that she would try to cheat me or lie to me and completely ruin our fun little contest.  But I also know that she is very competitive and quite fond of purchasing Golden Shovels in the past.

Perhaps it may appear that I take this game too seriously, but I really don't.  It's just that I abhor cheating and lying on general principle, and also I am a man of logic, so things need to make sense to me - especially when my BS detector has been set off by blatant chicanery.  Given this, how could I ignore the inexplicable incongruity in our respective prize good values and the inane explanations for same that my competitor provided?  Unless someone has a better explanation, the only viable one I can come up with is that Cathy used a Golden Shovel.

There is little doubt in my mind if I hadn't opened my big mouth that day, the 1,000 point gap would have mysteriously closed by the following day, and Cathy would be in the lead, courtesy of her Golden Shovel.  But I guess we'll never know for certain.  Only one person knows for sure, and she's sticking to her story of denial; however implausible it may be.

My blog is very popular!
So I put it to you, my many many loyal followers, tell us in the comments below, what do you think happened?  Did Cathy buy a Golden Shovel and try to cheat?  If not, where do you think the 36 point acorn come from?  The giant acorn fairy?

OK, how about this. If you agree with me, just say nothing.  Don't even leave a comment.  Your many many numerous silences will speak volumes, thereby proving my theory correct!

Also, earlier this week, this happened:

"Grammar Nazis? On my FV2?"  It's more likely than you think.

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