The “Want” Factor –vs- the Need Factor…Realistic Goals in Clash of Clones


Let’s start with the fact that we have 35 more days of this update left. Then, let’s take a deeper look at what drives us to think we NEED to win everything, just because it is there. Then…let’s go ahead and take a look at what is on the table, and if it is worth our time and effort.

I think the discussion is worth having…and the outcome may surprise you.

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35 More Days…Tips on for Having FUN in This Update


Something weird is going on…and I have a sense that in another two weeks, the anger, frustration and anxiety is going to really start kicking in.

As I have said in more than one post, this thing is going to feel like a grind…because it is designed that way. By the time another 35 days of our “Life Currency” has been spent on this update, we are going to really wish that we had made better choices with our time.


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The Start of Something New – Community Forum and Chat


I said that there were some changes coming. I was hoping to take some time to bring this one around…but the fact is, this long-winded, lackluster update has forced my hand. Oh…and it is a social experiment for me, to see if THIS COMMUNITY is actually different than any other online community in which I have participated. And, I love social experiments!

Yes…that is a challenge. Because in my almost 20 years of working with online forums, including some of the first chat-room experiments in the early days of AOL…they rarely work out well.


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While Everyone Else Was Off Playing at War…


We did something that mattered…

I just got pictures from Emma…and my face hurts from smiling.

What has been SO difficult for me…and why I have been “less than patient” with the typical “Drive-By Info seekers” who continue to do their best to tell my what this blog is SUPPOSED to be about, is that I know better!

What started out as “just another blog about TSTO,” has morphed into the ONLY blog that covers TSTO, but as a community has actually changed lives…rather than just wasting them, playing a silly game.

And one life in particular has been changed forever…

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In the United States, we have a national holiday on Monday. It is also the opening weekend of the College Football season…and for many kids…the last weekend before they have to start school again.

Oh…and it is also the 12th day of a 49 DAY update…that loads of people are already reporting having finished (including me).


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Poll Results- Clash of Clones – New Poll- Does EA Really Care Anymore?

It’s safe to say that this update has distilled a LOAD of emotions that EA may not have counted on.

But DID they?

The simple fact is, when you take the dialogue at face value as you play the game, it feels as if they are reading your mind…tapping into the general feeling that the update is too violent, and that all of this grinding to earn prizes that are barely worth our time is wearing on us, ALREADY…with more than 40 days to go!

But wait…stop and think about it. Is there something else going on here?

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Simpsons Marathon  – Save Me Jebus! My Favorite Episode -Part II

We last left Homer as he was “saving” the savages from a life of being isolated away from civilization and religion.  Realizing that the traditional route of reading from the “Good Book” and finishing the well and chapel that the previous missionaries started needed some “Razzle Dazzle,” Homer did what every Westernized Savior of “uncultured people” would do…he helped them build a Casino.

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Where’dJa? Castles in YOUR Town…


No. I haven’t suddenly become a Bliss Ninny. I am not suddenly ignoring my other more pragmatic rants about the horrendous nature of this update, or the clear message to STOP TAPPING, that EA is sending.

I am merely fulfilling a promise. I do what I say I am going to do…and in this case, I asked you to share your castle pics. Here are few!
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So…What are you trying to tell us, EA?


I have a history with ending abusive relationships.  When I was barely into my 20s…I was married to a beautiful girl, who ended up being the mother of my first two daughters. She was a track star, and had the kind of long-distance runner’s legs that caught, and kept my attention. When we met, I was a star college football player, played in a rock band, and for the most part, had loads of relationships with loads of very nice girls. But, I also loved a challenge…and this girl was a challenge. Her primary form of “joking” was to tear me down…put me in my place…and remind me constantly that I was lucky to have her, while at the same time, letting me know that “she was difficult, and selfish” and that I was nuts to be with her.

It never got better. In fact, it got infinitely worse. By the end of 5 years, I was a shell of my former self, and so confused by the constant onslaught of negative reinforcement, as well as countless ways that she PROVED that she was “difficult” (yes…I guess mental illness is difficult), that I finally woke up one day and said, “enough is enough…being alone can’t be nearly as bad as staying with someone who is clearly disgusted with me for staying.”

Sound familiar?  Abusive relationships with bi-polar individuals, companies or freemium games will never turn out well. I have a good friend who reminded me that the only thing more unlikely that an abuser changing their spots, is the chance that you will ultimately be “OK” by continuing the relationship.

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EA Pulls the Plug…


No…not on TSTO, yet. But, one of our readers was kind enough to send along an email he got from EA recently, as they got ready to kill one of their other online franchises.

Do I think that EA will be killing TSTO soon as well?
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Simpsons Marathon  – Save Me Jebus! My Favorite Episode -Part 1


I have been a fan of the Simpsons since the Tracy Ullman days. As I have recounted, my loose association to Matt Groening, his sister Lisa, her husband Craig Bartlett, and Matt’s childhood in Oregon make this all kind of a “family affair.”  I read his comic, “Life in Hell” when it debuted in the “What’s Happening” the local Eugene weekly entertainment magazine.  I let my kids watch the show, when it was being touted as the “first step in the degradation of society” by many.

I love the show. Period. My grandsons playing, and my love of the show, brought me to TSTO.

And as a result…I am doing my best to catch as much of the 12-day marathon as I can. And a couple of days ago…my favorite episode was played…I shuttered at how it has become a mirror/warning for my own life today…
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QUICK WALKTHROUGH…with ALL of the Surprises Unrolled…Mostly.


There is no doubt when you see the walkthrough in its entirety, that this is one of the greatest Zero-Sum-Gain updates ever.  This is busy work…for the sake of busy work. And EA is going to just keep making fun of us for playing.

At one point…they become so abusive in the number of Elixir required to continue, that anyone with a brain in their heads, or a REAL life, is going to ask, “Why am I doing this again? And what is the big reward???”

However…some of you WANT EVERYTHING…and in order to WIN EVERYTHING…you need to be able to plan your time…

SPOILERS FOLLOW- If you don’t want to know…don’t click below.

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RANDOM TIPS ON RANDOM ATTACKS…and the Sociopath Strategy!


As a solution to what has to be the most confusing aspect of this game update…it is now becoming VERY clear that the role of RANDOM attacks play a far greater role in the game than once thought. Time to change your strategy!

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The Great Missing Elixir Truck Mystery Solved???? – UPDATED-AGAIN


So let me get this straight… you WIN THE RIGHT to BUY an Elixir Truck? OR…you GET an Elixir Truck when you hit 9,500 in Gold?

It seems like a simple enough question…if you are insane enough to think that EA would actually GIVE you FREE Elixir!! But…if our community member’s call to EA support is any indication…uhm…the truth is stranger than fiction.

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I’ve Seen the Future… And a Death in the “Family”


So, this is not going to popular with the real “gamers” or the Bliss Ninnies, or the devoted TSTO Sheeple who gladly do whatever EA tells them to do, as long as there is SOMETHING to do in TSTO.

But…I am coming to the conclusion very quickly that his update is REALLY the beginning of the end for the game.

I do not come to this conclusion lightly. But it comes from a series of “reality checks,” talking to some of the “insiders” and a general feeling that the game is SO far off of the rails, that it just can’t come back again.

If you don’t want to be a “Negative Nelly” and are terrified that your “half glass full world” may suddenly be drained of enough “happy juice” to mess up your world…ignore this.

But…I have talked to someone who is “In the Know…” and I didn’t like what I heard.

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A Message From the REAL World…


OK Folks…the same old thing is happening again, that happens with EVERY update…we are being deluged with comments, requests, posts, and whines from loads of random Drive By Info Seekers who aren’t regular community members. That’s cool. I get it. You want GAME INFO.

But…the REAL WORLD is CALLING…and needs your help.

I can/and will continue to post game info. I promised to do so…even though the time it takes on a daily basis is overwhelming. Happy to do so…IF you continue to also take the time to Do Something of Value…while you piddle away time and treasure on this update.

We need to stay focused on what is really important.
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Glitch and SNAFU Central…The Case of the Missing Shields


Ah…so it turns out that those reporting missing shields WEREN’T NUTS after all…

And…it turns out that those who just cleared them quickly to earn and make room for more were smarter than they looked!

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Unlocking the Mystery of Unlocking… Again. Marge, Castles, Skins Oh My!


It seems that there is either some REALLY crappy game logic (likely) or EA just doesn’t care to make things make sense (also likely) in the way that the character skins, and castle parts are unlocking.

We HAVE covered this…but, I have now personally moved through the point where MARGE finally unlocked…and it made no sense to me at all.

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The Interview with ALL of the Answers…to questions I asked…of Yeardley Smith


It is always interesting being on the “reporting end” at press opportunities. Hanging around with the other Press guys is a hoot, as everyone tries to jockey for the best shot, or to get the celebrity’s attention long enough to get your questions answered.

When the “voice of Lisa Simpson” came to the REAL SPRINGFIELD today, there was no jockeying or pushing in the press room, and every question was answered…along with a photo op and autograph, in the confines of a room in City Hall, Springfield, Oregon.  It wasn’t until we got on the streets, for the BIG EVENT…that all of the pushing, and shoving and line-cutting started…and that was just for the donuts!

The EVENT? The unveiling of a Matt Groening-inspired mural, in the heart of the REAL Springfield…introduced by the actress who voices Lisa, Yeardely (pronounced YARD-ly) Smith.

I got a press credential. I got all my questions answered and more…as well as a picture, autograph, poster and a donut!

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Where’dja? Guest Post(s) about where to put your Castles!


I received a handful of emails from people who sent me pics of their castles…but one of them actually wrote a bit more than “this is where I put it.” Not much more…but more.

I think the challenge for all of this is the feeling that when the update is complete (way more than a MONTH from now) are we going to WANT a bunch of this stuff hanging around…or does it belong in storage with our Easter Garbage (which EA already made fun of in dialogue)?

We’ll see… But here are some ideas!
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New Rumors- New Characters Coming?

As I have said repeatedly, spAnser is the king of the Hacker/Frackers. He has been inside of the files longer than anyone else in the game…and has been run off of the Internet by EA more times than I have fingers…OK…maybe not that many times, but at least as many times as I have thumbs.

He leaked another “File Find” which has been circulating around the Blog-O-Verse (which he will gladly send you if you subscribe to his blog,

SPOILERS TO FOLLOW- If you don’t want to know, don’t click below.
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Recharged…with Miracles and Community Giving!

I have come back from my golf trip re-energized and ready to keep feeding you information on Clash of Clones… I will give you a report, a little magic, and a picture from the tournament… as well as a report on the fundraising!

It was a GREAT weekend, all around!

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Report from the Changemaster General- Game Strategy


For the most part, this event is straight forward… once you are playing it. Now I admit, I did use some donuts at the beginning to speed up tasks, however only as I am one of these control freaky people, who need to make sure they understand every small detail. So I thought I would share with you my game strategy, and hopefully clear up any confusions for people just starting this event.

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We Interrupt This Battle For…


I thought I would turn the tables for once. Regular media is loaded with “Crawl Graphics” at the bottom of the screen, as well as full-blown program interruptions when there is some “Breaking News” to share.

The News that is “Breaking” is rarely good news…and usually has to do with some disaster, or war, or death of a prominent figure. It is the kind of thing that we are trained to react to, like Pavlovian dogs when meat powder is sprinkled in the vicinity.

But, today, as we are all mired in a TSTO Clone Battle, I am interrupting the Mayhem, for a more important message…
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Your Questions Answered…mostly. Unlocking Stuff from Storage…


OK…I get it. One of the BIGGEST PITAs (Pain In The Asterisks) is the confusion around why you WIN stuff…and are told that it has been “Placed In Your Storage,” and then you go there and it is Locked/Grayed Out.

WTF????  (Why The Face).

Well…this is just another SNAFU…kinda…

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Common Sense Game Strategy- Being a Good Invader/Willing Victim for Fun and Profit!


Let’s just go with the fact that this update is like Bizzaro Land, or “Backward Day” like the kids used to play…No means Yes…Ugly means Pretty….that sort of thing.  For the first time in the game…attacking your neighbors, but more importantly, wanting to be attacked, is the order of the day…if you actually care about any of the prizes. Which, I kinda don’t…

BUT…I know that many of you DO!! Or at least you seem to be trying to figure out the BEST way to play this update, share the destruction, and get ya some gold. Wow…this feels a lot like real life.

EA has made this one of the most complicated updates in the history of TSTO. There are a TON of nuances in the numbers…for those that care about that sort of thing. But, in the end, I think I have the PERFECT FORMULA for enjoying the update, that will earn you prizes…and help you save your sanity for the next…uhm… 45 DAYS?? Argh.

Best way to attack?  Best way to Defend? How many Cheaters should I use?  I’m going to cover it all!!

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Clash of Clones Gold Earning Chart Calendar

There is no doubt that many of you have already started doing the math…because with every update, Good or Bad…YOU WANT IT ALL!!

This update is REALLLLLLY long…but the numbers to get it all aren’t for slackers if you want to pull it off…

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FREE DONUTS RUMOR…rumor no more!


Wow…OK…EA is REALLY glad to have us back!  (not as generous as TinyCo) but, hey…FREE DONUTS ARE FREE DONUTS

I got this when I logged in just now…at 1:30P PDT

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Clash of Clans – Skins- Castles and Upgrades…OH MY! – UPDATED

As we are getting deeper into this update, things are starting to FLY… and in some cases, that is a little worrisome.

I am playing in real time…with VERY little rushing (maybe a donut or two to finish a task so I can figure something out). But, for the most part…real time. And I am already more than halfway through the posted levels of quests…in a little over 24 hours. AND I HAVE A LIFE!  Sheesh…

Again…this thing is going to go on for another 45+ days…so I HOPE LIKE HECK that there is something more they have up their sleeves.

THANKFULLY…there are short, quest-lines showing up with the Character Skins (Lisa, Bart, and Marge).  And…they DO help you get more Elixir and Gold!

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People seem REALLY confused about Cheaters. How do I know? Because I have answered the same questions about 30 times now. Wanna know how I got my CrankyOldGuy nickname? That’s just a hint.
BUT…there are a couple of Known SNAFUs that are cropping up…so let’s tackle both in the same post.

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TSTO Survey – What Do You Think of Clash of Clones So Far?


Well now… We are certainly getting a lot of mixed reactions from players on this one… Some love it…Some hate it! But the fact is…It Is SOMETHING…right?

Let us know how YOU feel…and then leave your comments below.
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As Long as We Are Blowing Stuff Up…


The timing of this rather Explosion-Prone Update comes at a rather interesting place in the history of this blog/community. And, as long as we are talking about “blowing stuff up,” I think it’s time to talk about a few changes that I have been planning for a while now.

A year ago, Ryan and I were just players…and casual contributors to TSTOTips…until we took control…and used it as a launch pad for both Our Book, and THIS web site.  There was no way we were going to continue to work for a Fraudmeister…and as has been chronicled, working with the other blogs just wasn’t our cup of tea (not a fan of whatever is in basement water).  So…this place was created, while the fires still burned from the torch job we did at Tips when we left.

But…as the old saying goes, The only thing that you can count on in life, is CHANGE. And it’s time to make some changes around here to reflect the ACTUAL COMMUNITY that evolved, when we least expected it.

Let’s take a look at what I have in mind.

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YES!!! EA Update Record Intact…MORE SNAFUs!


OK…who am I kidding? I would be absolutely SHOCKED if EA ever did an update without a ton of Random Weird Errors and Bugs… But we are getting a TON of reports of strange, REALLY random update alerts that are coming up…

Here is a sampling I got in the last 12 hours…

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Clash of Clones Q&A…Community Style- Mechanics of War


This update is very complex on the surface…but, I suspect will start feeling very repetitive pretty quickly.
There really isn’t much to it. Like Clash of Clans…you pretty much just blow stuff up…and try to keep others from blowing up your stuff.

But…because the EA programmers are pretty damn lazy…no…make that really lazy…they had to use much of the same game logic as they have used in other updates. So there is a LOT of similarity in the basics…especially when compared to Last Halloween.

Unlike many of the other Hacker/Cheater blogs, I am playing in real time, much like you. I am not rushing with donuts…I am just letting the game unfold. There are some BIG differences between this update and the last few (NO Whell!! Thank You Jebus!), that should be noted.

I do have some gaps here, that we can fill out together. I know there are a number of you who LOVE figuring out the details…(Adam) and may even write a column on subtle changes (Adam)…but here we can take some broad-swath swipes (jeeeze…talking like a barbarian with a college education), at some of the basic things we have uncovered about the Mechanics of Earning/Winning/Defending etc.

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Initial Gut Check Reaction to Clash of Clones Update…

Programmers are an interesting lot. Really. Their lives are generally so bereft of REAL LIFE, that they often lose sight of what is going on around them. So cloistered and figuratively connected to their code, as a parent to a child, even going so far as to extoll the virtues of their creative brilliance to one another like a PTA mother after a spelling bee. And they are VERY protective and competitive when something goes wrong.

And it is clear that something in the game of TSTO has gone horribly wrong.

Having worked with countless programming teams in my past, I am going to take a wild stab, and say that what we are getting from EA at this point, is coming from at least two, and perhaps three, very disparate teams. Because it is completely beyond my imagination, that the same team who put out the absolutely joyous, rewarding, and fun-spirited Stoencutter update, is the same team who is responsible for this…FusterCluck of Mean-Mongering-Messitude.

I admit that it is VERY early in this update…and there may be something more to it…but if any of the information coming across the Blog-O-Verse and what I am seeing with my own eyes are any indication, the wheels are coming off…and coming off fast at the EA TSTO Studio.

Here are just a few brief reasons I feel so strongly, so quickly…
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Get New Friends to Beat Up and Beat You Up… Clash of Clones

OK. This is a VERY odd way of going about “Friendship.” But it is obvious that you NEED your neighbors to come and blow stuff up…so you can collect the reward when you repair it. And you need neighbors so you can go and blow their stuff up.

I admit. It’s not my thing…although, maybe it’s like playing “The Dozens” in the locker room.  The Nastier and Meaner your action…the more people laugh.

“Your Mom is so…”

Anyway…Sign Up in the Comments Below for New People to Beat Up


Once again, I will start by making something very clear. I abhor hackers. However, in the case of this silly game, they always serve a purpose.  They break into the servers…and gather info, so none of US have to break the law.
OK then.

So…as always, the following CHEAT GUIDE is a combination of actual experience as I get through the update in real time, and what I have been able to glean from the cheaters/hackers/frackers who rush to brag about their actions. Let them have their day. Soon enough, EA will clamp down on them.


SPOILER ALERT!!! If You Don’t Want To Know…Don’t Click Below!

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NEW UPDATE HITS…Put on your Helmet and Furry Frocks! -UPDATED

OK the new update has hit the Ap Store!!!  WHOOOOOHOOOOO!!

It is MASSIVE! Clash of the Clones is the working title…Barbarian is the first character… he is a NEW character…and as about as RANDOM as you get…his first act is to Attack the Simpsons House.

It starts with a NEW character and a 1-hour task. We’ll wait for the Data-Hacker-Frackers to rush the game…but will report as NEW STUFF is unveiled.

OK then… We’ll see where this goes. CHECK BACK SOON AS WE WORK THIS THROUGH.

Remember…App Store Updates Roll Out in Segments…IOS…then Droid…then Kindle. So be patient. Or not.

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Turning TSTO Into Something That Matters…The Next Project

It’s amazing to me that this “garbage time” has been extended to such a degree, that the game of TSTO has been shedding players faster than pounds on the TV show, “The Biggest Loser.”  But, for reasons that must seem evident to all of the REAL Community Members here, it has once again given us the chance to focus on things that REALLY matter.

So much has transpired over the past 60 days in regards to TSTOFriends morphing from a TSTO/info/commentary site into a “TSTOCommunity in action” site, that it makes the head spin. What started out as a simple request to help my daughter’s efforts to get school supplies and books for a rural village in Uganda, where she was doing an medical internship, has now become an ongoing effort to make a difference in the lives of hundreds of children who live in conditions so unimaginable, that immediate support was required.

Supplies, books, a playground, and shoes for the more than 250 children of this school have been delivered, as well as a year’s tuition for “one of the bright lights of a child” who was forced to leave the village, because her mother needed to rescue her sister from strife on the border of Sudan.

This Community has proven to be an exemplary example of what people can do, when they set aside differences of religion, politics and borders, to simply act immediately when help is needed.

I can’t be more proud of what we have accomplished. And now…I am asking you to help once again.

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Turning Garbage Time to Hope…The Payoff! Shivahn’s New School!


Well…never let it be said that this Community and TSTO blog don’t put garbage time to good use.

The LAST time we had an extended break, we kinda broke the record for quick fundraising, to help send Shivahn to a boarding school.  The outpour of support and affection was amazing…And now the PAYOFF…

Here is a Thank You from Maddy (all who donated will get a personal copy) and best of all, some pictures of Shivahn’s new school, as well as some pics of the supplies and clothes that your money helped buy.  Emma has been a very busy man this week, splitting his Prometra duties, and using his spare time to buy little girl’s clothes…

If there is a more fitting task for a former Ugandan National Rugby player, I don’t know what it is. This man has a heart of gold, and we are so lucky to know him.
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To Nuke or Not to Nuke…a Broader Question

There is a reason that there are several “fail-safe” mechanisms with nuclear arms in the real world…at least in the “responsible nations” that have practiced the “mutual assured destruction” concept of “if you shoot, we’ll shoot, nobody wins” between the super powers.

Let’s face it. When it comes to nuking things, there are no “take backs.”  And while we have some real case scenarios on which to understand the horrible devastation that nuking can bring about, there is always some strange twisted edifice left behind, that at least reminds us of what used to be there…

Not so much with TSTO.
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The Future of TSTO Blogging and

As I read back what I have written over the past couple of days, I am the first to admit that it is kind of hilarious that there has been so…much…drama, over a silly game, and blogging about it. The obsessive, shall we say, “addicted” way in which some blogs treat writing about this game would be hilarious, if it wasn’t so downright pathetic.

Because, in the end…it will all disappear in the flick of a switch. The entire game…all of the player’s hard work…all of the “digital assets” that have been purchased with REAL money, will just cease to be.  This entire virtual reality can, and will, come to an end at some point…and with it, will go the countless blogs, forums, and online support that are associated with The Simpsons Tapped Out.

I suspect that it won’t happen quickly. EA/FOX/Gracie, the triumvirate of power that needs our dollars to continue with TSTO, will keep the game alive in some form, as long as there are people willing to give REAL money, for fleeting digital assets. Like an aging fighter who doesn’t know when to leave the ring, TSTO will hang around far beyond any modicum of common sense…until it is a shell of its former self. It will be sad…but everything has a life-cycle.

The blogs will get what they deserve. Putting this much time and effort into writing for a population of people who are clearly seeking something OTHER than just game advice…but continuing to exist only for “the next update,” is nuts. Truly nuts. And the best thing for all of them, is if TSTO “goes out on top” (or whatever version of “on top” they can muster) and pulls the plug soon.

But…we can survive. And when I say “We” I don’t mean Ryan and I. I mean the community that has grown and thrived and reacted to a greater purpose. I predict that when TSTO becomes a non-entity in the importance of the “players,” and the game is “nuked” from the ether, there will be a small band of survivors who figured out long ago, that REAL community is stronger than a large band of blind followers.

I can see the future…and the future is you.
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It Takes a Community to Raise A Child…


I have to admit…it is getting REALLY hard to care about TSTO right now. I realize that you all feel the same way, and have been telling me that you come here more for garbage time than you do for update info. But, garbage time takes time as well. And you have to be motivated…

Thank goodness for Shivahn, and the intricacies of trying to get money to the right people in a country that is rife with daily twists and turns. Thank goodness, for Emma.

We are coming down to just two weeks before Shivahn has to report to her new school. There is much work to do, and of course, the frustrating thing, is that we can’t be there.  After many consults with the Banks involved, they have made it clear that in Uganda, wire transfers almost always work.  We are hoping that the “almost” doesn’t hit us.

Shivahn has had a rough time of it, the past few weeks. But, because of this community’s generosity, her life is about to change for the better.
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The Laziest Company Ever… Making EALP the New Normal

When I am happily enjoying the summer, I tend to sluff off the little things. I don’t get as torqued off with people trying to sneak 28 items through the 20 items or less line at the market (Yes Lady…all of your different boxed cookies count individually…not as a food group).  I don’t scream at people who sit in the passing lane going just above the speed limit. Ok. That’s not entirely true.  But, I don’t glare at them when I pass…because I am relaxed and enjoying this summer like few before.

Maddy is back…we have had some great times with the grandkids…golf game is coming back, there is still a full month before Deb has to go back to school, and life in general has been smooth.

So…what could possibly be upsetting? Oh. I don’t know… How about having to write a blog about a game that seems to have gone on summer break itself…and still has the freakin’ audacity to keep asking us for money????????  Seriously???  Holyfreakinshirt, EA. How lazy can you be?

You are WORSE than a kid who boomerangs back after college, and moves in downstairs, to play video games and sneak your alcohol while he looks for “the right job.”  At least with a kid like that, you can make them mow the lawn. I am blessed with busy, independent girls…but I am hearing nightmare stories from some of our friends and their unmotivated kids. But, I digress…

With EA…you don’t get the lawn mowed. You don’t get any appreciation for all of the work you have put into their success. You don’t get diddly squat! It’s almost WORSE than putting a kid through 4 years or more of college…at a price equal to a nice summer house at the beach…only to have them get a degree in “Comparative Religious Studies” and then talk about going back to grad school…to get a chance at a REAL career. But, I digress again…

EA is the laziest game company in the world. Period. Need proof?  Keep reading.
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Donuts? Garbage Time? A better use of your time and money…


You don’t have to be a spiritualist reading tea leaves to figure out that we are DEEP into an extended period of EALP and Garbage Time. I can’t remember a lazier period for EA…or being treated with such blatant disregard.  One real update since July 2nd really says more about our “relationship” with EA than anything else. They aren’t willing to WORK for our ongoing commitment, but have now figured out three different ways to insult us, by asking for MORE MONEY. Yard Sale. Lame Update. Followed by a Useless Donut Sale?

Pffffffffffffffffttttttttttttttt……. I’d like to have some of whatever the executives at EA are smoking. No. Really. It must be GREAT stuff!

This is like one of those long lost relatives that only shows up when they need something. Well…I am not going to be home when they come calling. I am hip to their routine…I am going to spend my time giving TOURS to the COMMUNITY…and Welcoming you to visit the Best State in the country…

Need to kill some time in the most beautifully diverse state in the union? Here’s the perfect 1 week tour… Continue reading

Ryan’s Conspiracy Theories- REDUX

Again, I apologize for running what some may find a rerun of sorts…which is actually an excerpt from OUR BOOK.  This one was the followup to the previous conspiracy piece I posted yesterday…and it was written by Ryan. Hence the title. Man…I never get tired of using the word, hence.

My Cranky friend is big on conspiracy theories. As I like to tell him, “You’re not paranoid if they really are watching you,” mostly to see how he reacts and how much tin foil I can trick him into purchasing. Taking a breather from the EA conspiracies I’d like to look at the rich history of conspiracies in the modern world.
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When the score doesn’t matter…“The Best Round of My Life”


I need to preface this by saying that I have been playing golf for a little over 7 years. I was a very good baseball player, so I thought golf was going to be “easy.” You can figure out the rest of the story from there.

I have been in “hover-mode” for the better part of 3 years, between a 10.3 and my current 14.6 handicap (this has been a tough year with my short game). I came to golf late in life, because I played baseball in my youth and young adult life, and my little sister Molly was an LPGA teaching pro. So, it only makes sense that I made fun of the game as being “silly” for the better part of 35 years.

No. She has never given me a lesson. Yes, she is very competitive. Yes, the annual “Miller Family Golf Tournament” has become the golf event of the year, especially since my “team” has started winning.

But, as with TSTO, and life in general…”winning” is often not measured by scorecards alone.
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Community Building…Figuring Out What Makes Us Different…In the Kitchen!

The past week of major summer food intake has prompted a load of responses from readers about the differences in regional favorite foods.  Even in countries that seem to be small geographically when compared to the U.S. seem to have regional or local favorites that are unique and appreciated.

I find the United States to be really interesting…in that the “melting pot” of the world, which is kind of our thing, could also be a cooking pot, regionally. Germans and Scandahoovians immigrated to the Midwest, bringing with them, their penchant for sausages, beer, cheese and heart attacks. Other parts of the country, say the South, or South Central, have specific flavors and dishes that are copied in other places, but never as good as the “home of the…” when it comes to the original recipes.

Let’s do a Community Building Project…

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The Value of the 1% to TSTO and the World…


I really don’t know what to say. This CrankyOldPragmaticCynicalGuy is sitting here, choking back tears of mixed emotions.

I am overwhelmed with the immediate response of the 1% of this community (actually a tad lower), and am at the same time, overwhelmed with the realization that you are never going to let me out of this.

I am coming up on a year of blogging soon. A year. In TSTO time, that is a lifetime. That is 6 months longer than St. Tony put in at TSTOTips. I really battled with how long I want to do this…

Until now.
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Community Post… FREE DONUT MONEY!

Kerry, one of our favorite community contributors has a GREAT WAY to earn Money…FREEMIUM STYLE! You can use your money for donuts. buying shoes for and school supplies for kids…or just for your own needs!  This is pretty cool stuff… and it’s FREE

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Using Google to Make Our Community REAL


Back in December, we started a little project in order to help put some places with the names we were seeing regularly on our site. As this is a community, we thought it would be a fun way to show that we are truly a GLOBAL community.  The result was a few weeks of frantic “pinning and posting” for short essays about “My home town,” that was both fun and fascinating.

But being the kind of guy who ALWAYS wants to know MORE about most anything…I started using Google Earth to poke around a bit more. I know…I know…the headlines are full of stories about the NSA snooping into our private lives…but the fact is, when it comes to complete privacy, that ship has sailed YEARS ago!

But, I’m fine with it…in fact I think it is pretty cool…
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Best Update(s) Ever Part II…the KBBL Connection


I should have been upset I suppose. It was as if the writers and programmers had conspired to reach deep into my soul and twist around my guts a bit, just to let me know that they could. But once things started to unfold, I was left with the reality that they were actually honoring me for my fortitude, and rewarding me in the only way they knew how…by tying so many aspect of my own life together with this past month of updates, that I had no choice, except to call this IKEAIIOMB (I Know EA Is Inside Of Me Because…).

As I outlined in the first “Best Update(s) Ever” chapter, there are loads of reasons to call this past month the best, most fulfilling time period in the history of TSTO. But, it’s actually #’s 6 and 7 on the list that really coalesced to make it clear that IKEAIIOMB.  The radio station and the elephant.

AHA!!! You may yell (you are, after all of these months, still prone to yelling “Aha” when you think you have found a mistake in my logic). “AHA!” (you say again, not to be deterred). To which I say, “Not So FAST, Bub!” (I call everyone “Bub” when I am about to cut them off at the knees). “I KNOW what you are going to say…”

And I do. I’m kinda creepy that way. It’s an aftereffect of the NDE. But I digress…


To which I would reply, “PLEASE turn OFF your CAPS key!!!” And, then “Because, they are tied together in one of my favorite episodes ever, and I didn’t remember it until the radio station became a prize…and Maddy saw an Elephant!!”

Before you shake your head in confusion, ( I can see you…I TOLD you I was creepy that way), just sit back and let me spin a tale that will explain it all. Once you see that EA is doing this ENTIRE Update for ME…it will begin to make sense. Really. I promise.
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A Tale of Shoe City… Generosity Between Friends.


I realize that we have a load of new readers after this last update. That’s swell. But, as I did in April and May, I am going to suspend the TSTO blather for something MUCH more important.   A TSTOFRIENDS THANK YOU!!

As regular readers know, after becoming thoroughly disgusted with EA and their abject abuse of trust, lack of fair play, and forced gambling from Christmas through the Easter updates (6 months!!!), I was done writing about TSTO.  And then, an amazing thing happened.

Yes…I used a bit of emotional and literary blackmail to get the job done…but I tasked our readers to DO SOMETHING MEANINGFUL with their money (rather than hand it over to EA)…and to help my daughter Maddy, raise funds to buy shoes for the students of the Buyijja Village School in rural Uganda.

More than 100 of you responded… and as “penance” for achieving our goal (and a LOT more), I promised to write nothing but positive reports about EA for 30 days. Luckily for all involved…EA came up with a great update that made my job easy.

FAR EASIER, as it turns out,  than it was to actually GET the shoes (for more than 250 kids) in a city of almost 2 Million people…with no central market…and then having to transport them more than 60 miles across rough jungle roads.

It is an amazing story…and YOU ALL MADE IT HAPPEN! (at least those I am happy to call true friends!)
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Of Communities and Playgrounds…a Special TSTOFriends Report


As most of the regular readers here know, I am prone to “going woo woo” every once in a while. This is a term my family coined almost two decades ago after my NDE experience…when I started sensing something “unusual or strangely fun” about our state of reality. It happens a lot…I don’t talk about it much. But, sometimes, it is just too fun to ignore, and I have to share.

And in this case…it is a perfect opening to also once again say THANK YOU.

You see…I am definitely a “CrankyOldGuy” about a lot of things. As a former linebacker in football, and flanker in rugby, I mostly show emotion through evil laughs, and determined screams. However, I can be moved to tears.

And it happened when I opened the first look of the Stonecutters update.
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It Takes a Community…the Payoff…Part I


The world became very real for me this past month, as we as a community reached out, beyond the confines of or TSTO borders, to try something amazing.

Knowing that my daughter Maddy was alone in a very strange land, and had discovered a small village school in such abject need, that she was motivated to help, also motivated a number of you.

In all honesty, I really didn’t know what to expect…but I set the goal high. Maddy made it clear that the primary needs for more than 200 kids in the rural village school of Buyijja, were extremely basic, but dire. These children, almost 70% of the orphaned by HIV, TB and other communicable diseases, were without school supplies or text book, and most were without more than a single tattered piece of clothing, and had no shoes.

We took on the challenge to get supplies and books…and hoped to raise at least enough for a few dozen shoes.

I cajoled. I promised. I offered a special “Inside Story of Chester Dupree” if you donated… and you came through.
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Promises Made and Kept – Special Thanks to the Few for the Rest


Call me stubborn (it would be one of the nicer things some people have called me in emails and un-posted comments over the past few days), but yes…I REALLY DID hold out until every nickel of our $2,000 Goal was complete.


Everyone who donated received the promised “Secret Behind Chester Dupree” post. Everyone. Those who gave $5, those who gave as much as $150 (there was more than one), and everyone in between. Because, I was grateful for every ounce of support, no matter what the figure… because if I have learned nothing else from this experiment, it is that poverty is a relative thing. There is poverty of the bank account, and as I suspected…poverty of the soul.

But as promised… after this post, I will write nothing but glowing reports about TSTO for at least thirty days. In fact, I’ll even start right now with a REVIEW OF THE LEVEL 41 UPDATE…
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LEGO Simpsons Creations!


Ryan here, and did someone say LEGO Simpsons Creations?! We have a very exciting break from the usual nonsense and quite frankly, a breath of fresh air. Too much TSTO is not good for the soul. We try to have our fun, but it’s also nice to just enjoy the community.

And our community has provided us with something extraordinary today. The timing is incredible, considering the recent release of real life LEGO Simpsons, tomorrow’s long-awaited LEGO episode and well, the Blocko Store in the Easter update I guess. Our great friend and invaluable community member KookyKerry is an artist, an entrepreneur and a pretty genius lady in her own right.

She has created something pretty cool involving Simpsons LEGOs that we wanted you all to see, and if you’re able and interested, to support. There is nothing more fun than when we get to share in something with a member of the community of Friends. TSTO is all well and good but real life is (or should be) happening all around us and we’re always flattered when someone shares a bit of theirs with us.

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TSTO Friends Community: AboutChoo!


Ok so here’s the deal…

We here at TSTOFriends have an AMAZING community of readers, commenters and genuine friends. We laugh, we cry, we yell, we poke fun and celebrate the good times while propping each other up in the bad times. So in some ways it’s more like a family…a big crazy family; but without squabbling over inheritance (who gets rich Uncle Zeke’s gold!?) Before you start thinking this is going to be another sappy, “lets hug” post let me clear things up: it’ll only be like, half that.

We’ve had some pretty cool projects and opportunities for community participation. There are the amazing array of Guest Posts, the always fun Poll Results and Discussions, that fantastic Holiday Writing Contest we had and a smattering of other things in the Community Art and Writing Center. A personal favorite of mine and Patric’s was the TSTO Community World Map and Downloadable Travel-Brochure project.

Now besides all this fun, we often have outstanding ideas come from you, the readers. Whether it’s something for us to write or do or wear or parse…it’s all good fun. Now it’s time for a new twist. Continue reading

TSTO Community World Map and Downloadable Travel-Brochure



This place is amazing…no doubt about it.
When people ask me what makes it so unique and different than other TSTO Blogs/Forums…the answer is easy- THE COMMUNITY.  We continue to be blown away by the interaction, civility, intelligence, and desire to share.

Nothing proves the point better than our Put A Pin In It map experiment. Well…TAKE A LOOK. More than 75 pages (and growing) and close to 37,000 words (and growing) this document is a testament to the power of the Internet and a “Silly Little Game” to cross boundaries, borders and differences- to become a single community.

THE DOWNLOADABLE .PDF Version of our Incredible TSTO Community World Map is done.

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