The strategy from a Pocket Frog breeding expert
Looking for some help to boots your profits in Pocket Planes. Nimblebit's latest game might look a bit overwhelming, like there's a lot to it. This is actually not the case because you only need to focus on a couple of things. If you have played Tiny Tower or Pocket Frogs in particular, you already know the majority of the mechanics.
Hard and soft currency
Marketeers refer to the game money in these terms, hard and soft cash. For our luck, both are well-defined in Pocket Planes. Managing them properly is key to your success in the game and the earlier you get familiar with them the better. The in-app-purchase option gets you Bux, the green bills that you also saw in Tiny Tower. Unlike other freemium games, the developer has included other ways to obtain bux easily, without forcing players to pay with real money to keep playing the game. Bux can be obtained either by fleeing important cargo and VIP passengers, also by tapping on the occasional bill that passes in front of the aircraft.
There's no need to spend your real money in virtual bux if you don't want to
Coins on the other hand, are rewarded with every flight and they make the bulk of the income stream of your airline. Depending on the distance and value of the cargo you'll get a bigger or smaller payment in coins. Unlike bux, grinding watching your plane flight will get you an insignificant amount of coins compared with the profits you can get with a simple flight even at earlier levels.
There's a relation between both currencies, but don't let this be a distraction. While you can convert bux to coins in the bank, the current exchange will leave you short changed. The precious bux can be put to a better use than the 1 bux for 500 coins deal the bank offers.
What gets you what
Regardless of the strategy you want to go for, you should have very clear how to use the different types of currency. Bux are used for buying plane parts and plane upgrades. This means that the growth of your fleet depends on your ability to collect bux every time you have the opportunity — alternatively you can buy them via IAP.
When it comes to the coins, you should also make strategic decisions. When you start the game your low level limits the amount of cities and planes you can have, but as you progress to higher levels you gain the ability to open new destinations and expand your fleet with new plane slots at a price. Here it's down to your personal strategy. You can spread your territory and get profitable customers asking to travel higher distances or choose to go for a massive fleet until you extinct the demand running out of passengers. I prefer the latter.
A quick look at the market will show a variety of parts and planes for sale. Parts are used to build planes and not to upgrade the ones you currently own. To make the story shorter, buying spare parts and building the plane on your own is much cheaper than buying a complete plane ready to be used.
Every plane in the game is formed by three different parts: controls, body and engine. Once you get three parts for the same type and plane model, you can assemble them for the same price you paid for one of the parts. If you want to build a Navigator for passengers, for instance, you need to get hold of a body chassis, an engine and the controls for a Navigator-P. Every part costs three bux each and building the plane will cost you another three. This is still cheaper than forking 17 for a complete Navigator.
Each part is priced the same and consistently throughout the game. Part of the fun is checking what's available in the market during the day until you get all the matching pieces of the puzzle. Believe me it can be frustrating. The market refreshes it's content every five minutes or so, but you can also get friends to send you parts and gift yours to others.
Bux can also be used to improve the stats of your planes. This can be a good investment in the long term if you decide to keep your planes for a while. Alternatively, you could save those bucks and go for more advanced planes available later in the game.
Maximising the profit
Just like in real life, direct flights make people happier. In Pocket Planes you get a 25% bonus every time you send a flight full to a single destination. So if in a plane with two seats for passengers and one for cargo, for example, all are going to the same city, the ticket price goes up 25%.
Mastering this is key to for the profitability of your airline. In fact, I now find myself leaving my planes on the ground until I get a good combo. Why not? The passenger list refreshes often enough to be able to do this. If you are impatient, you can still try to obtain the 25% extra bonus using layovers. This concept is often misunderstood but once you get the hang of it you will use it all the time — in fact the game promotes and facilitates your combos if you do this.
Layovers mean leaving a passenger on an airport that is not the final destination. You might want to do this for a number of reasons: the most frequent will be leaving a passenger on an intermediate airport where another plane will go to the final destination. Since the passenger lists change so often, having layovers as in people waiting at the airport forever, can be a very profitable business. Layover cargo and passengers can complete the full capacity of a given plane and obtain the 25% bonus. There isn't any time penalty for leaving people waiting, so why not taking advantage of it?
Imagine in the diagram above that the plane leaves airport A with a mixed cargo: one passenger is going to B and the other one to C. We choose to travel to the intermediate airport B to leave one of the passengers there. We're hoping to find another passenger waiting to travel with us from B to C and complete the trip with a bonus for having every passenger going to the same destination.
Layovers are also a great way to make sure valuable cargo isn't lost. If you get a lot of cargo and passengers paying with bux instead of coins you really want to take advantage of it. Having a plane to send them to their destinations can be against your plans, so you can always leave them waiting at an intermediate airport and pick them up whenever a plane is stopping there to go to that destination.