If you are on Facebook, you have certainly been implored by a connection to join Mafia Wars or Farmville. I have, and I’ve joined both. Farmville’s interactivity is far more visual and engaging, so I actually spend time playing Farmville. Here are some thoughts on maximizing your returns from the game.

Neighbors

First off, Farmville is a pyramid scheme! You gain the most and progress the fastest by having a lot of  ‘neighbors’. So, if you have a lot of friends playing Farmville (at least 6, better if you have 30), you are going to move really fast. You could of course choose to spend real money and buy virtual goods for real dollars. But I won’t go to that extent of fanaticism. Visiting Farmville twice a day is about as far as I’m willing to go.

So, you have reached the maximum capacity for enrolling your friends into Farmville. You have expanded your farm, and are reaping crops, gaining experience and banking coins. How do you know you are doing your best? Which crops are the best money earners? How do you optimize experience earning? Let’s delve into some tactics now.

Activities

You can gain a good bit of money and experience by earning ‘ribbons’. There are various kinds of ribbons associated with different achievements. You earn ribbons for helping your neighbors, making purchases at the market, planting varieties of crops, taking pictures of your neighbor’s farms, buying trinkets, etc. To maximize ribbon earning, some easy to do activities are:

  • Visiting your neighbor’s farms once a day and helping them clear weeds, rake leaves, etc.
  • Planting at least one patch of each new crop you gain access to at each level
  • Buying at least one of each item you can afford at the market
  • Taking pictures of your neighbor’s farm every so often

Don’t spend too much money on animals or trees since that doesn’t earn you any experience. The money you earn from the animals is pretty low yield, as it is from most trees (the exception is Acai, and you have to pay a more expensive exchange for it!). Sometimes, you will need cash to buy something. But most often, you want to earn experience points to keep moving up the ladder.

Crops

The most common task on Farmville will be planting and harvesting crops. Take a look at the chart below. It’s a mathematical analysis of return-on-investment on various crops.

Crop Cost Maturity (hrs) Payback Experience ROI/hr Experience/hr Exp to Profit Ratio
Strawberries 10 4 35 1 6.2500 0.2500 0.0400
Eggplant 25 48 88 2 1.3125 0.04167 0.0317
Wheat 35 72 115 2 1.1111 0.02778 0.0250
Soybean 15 24 63 2 2.0000 0.08333 0.0417
Squash 40 48 121 2 1.6875 0.04167 0.0247
Pumpkin 30 8 68 1 4.7500 0.12500 0.0263
Artichokes 70 96 204 2 1.3958 0.02083 0.0149
Rice 45 12 96 1 4.2500 0.08333 0.0196
Raspberries 20 2 46 0 13.0000 0.00000 0.0000
Cotton 75 72 207 2 1.8333 0.02778 0.0152

If you want to earn money fast, look for highest ROI/hr values. If you want to earn experience fast, look at highest Experience/hr values. If you want to balance the 2, look for highest Experience to Profit Ratios. This table will keep expanding as I gain access to more crops, but for now, the winner are:

  • Highest ROI: Raspberries. Catch: No experience, frequent tending (every 2 hrs)
  • Highest Experience gain: Strawberries. Catch: Frequent tending (every 4 hrs)
  • Best Balance: Soybean