I tend to get into about one iOS game at a time. For a while I was really into Temple Run, then Subway Surfers, then Real Racing 3. For the last few months I’ve been stuck on Tiny Death Star.

If you haven’t played it, Tiny Death Star is an pseudo-8-bit business simulation game (think if Sims made a death star edition, but not isometric) where you build levels and acquire tenants in your Death Star who are helping Darth Vadar and Emperor Palpatine get mad rich so they never have to work again. It’s a great combination of nostalgia and time wasting, worthy spending all my pooping attention while in the loo.

After weeks of enjoying seemingly endless gameplay thanks to my buddy Matt getting me hooked, I’ve learned lots of little tips for success. My Death Star currently has 64 levels, and 95 bitizens.

Here’s some of the tips you can glean from my mad Empire building skills:

1. Spend bux only on filling apartment levels with bitizens

Don’t waste your bux on speeding anything up, converting them to Empire coins, unlocking Yoda, or basically anything else. Just spend them on filling up your apartment levels with bitizens so you can quickly get them into jobs, and making more CREAM for you.

The only exceptions I sometimes make is spending bux on stocking inventory immediately, so I can unlock a bitizen from ordering products. I do this only when I want to move a bitizen into his dream job, which then gives you an immediate buck right back.

You don’t have to spend bux to stock the level - you can wait until the product ordering time has passed. But that’s one area where I don’t feel like waiting and since I know I’m going to get a buck back immediately I don’t mind spending then.

But more on why you’d even want to do that next…

2. Move bitizens into their dream jobs

You’ll notice after playing a bit that each bitizen has a “dream job”. In addition to making their Holonet (basically it’s the Tiny Death Star pretend Facebook) status updates happier, placing a bitizen in his or her dream job gives you a buck, and makes that bitizen more productive in their business role (they can actually stock twice the inventory if they are in their dream job).

You can easily track which levels have bitizen employees who are in their dream jobs by looking for the stars that appear beside the level title bar. One catch is you cannot move a bitizen while they are in the middle of ordering product for a shop - or while ANYONE on that level is ordering product. Hence why I often spend my bux on completing inventory - moving them is one thing I don’t want to have to remember for later.

3. Build an apartment level between almost every other level

The placement of the apartment levels isn’t significant, but having enough bitizens to man your shops and businesses is. By building an apartment level between every other level or two, you’ll ensure you never get into a spot where you have business levels that don’t have any bitizens in them earning money for you.

The formula is something like build two business levels, build one residential level, rinse, repeat, and every so often you might need to build an additional apartment in there. But the goal is just to always have enough bitizens to man your shops, and plenty of shops making money for you.

4. Come back often and stock your businesses regularly

Since Tiny Death Star is like many other popular games where basic gameplay is free, but speeding things up is where it will cost you, it’s in your best interest to play the game like you were a cow grazing in a field: come back frequently, and play for only a little bit at a time.

That strategy will allow you to continually stock and order products, build new levels, and resist the urge to want to speed things up with Death Star bux (which eventually cost you real bux when you need more in a pinch). Plus it helps keep you off dat Twitter crack, yo.

5. Evict crappy bitizens

Be sure to keep an eye on the skill rankings of bitizens, and evict bitizens you either have no use for, or who have consistently low rankings in every skill category. For example, if a bitizen has all 4’s or 3’s, dump him.

6. Build new levels and order third tier products when you’ll be away for a while

Since third tier products and building new levels eventually take the longest time, try to initiate those actions when you know you’re going to be away from the game for a while, or when you don’t want to think about the game for a while. For example, before bed I always stock up my Death Star and reorder all the third tier products.

7. Take special bitizens to certain levels to unlock scenes

Since the point of playing the game is supposed to actually be having fun (not just exercising your OCD in a new outlet), look for the special bitizens (like Luke, Chewbacca, etc) in the elevator who will unlock new scenes when you deliver them to specific levels. It might not be your bag, but to me watching the special scenes are one of the funnest parts of playing Tiny Death Star.

Here’s the scenes I’ve discovered so far:

There are tons of other scenes, which you can view from Menu > Album > Scenes if you’ve unlocked them. These are just the ones I’ve unlocked, but there appears to be a full list of unlockables on Wikipedia.

8. Upgrade your elevator

Once you’ve saved up a bunch of Death Star bux, spend some on upgrading your elevator. Upgrading your elevator not only makes delivering bitizens a much speedier process, but it also increases the tip you receive for taking a bitizen to a level. Which means MOAR CREAM.

I have the fourth upgrade, which seems fast enough for me. The cost to unlock the last upgrade is just way too high (it’s like

9. Don’t waste your money on upgrading levels

In theory, upgrading levels makes your level more productive, or able to stock more goods, or something. But in practice it’s just a waste of money.

10. Keep an eye on your inventory at a glance

Each level shows whether your inventory for any one of the three products is stocked or out with the “X” and checkmark icons on the far left of the title bar. As you scan down through your levels, use those icons to help you see which levels need to restock products, or add new bitizens to become employees of that particular business.

Also, apartment levels have little bitizen icons in that spot to show you how many bitizens are currently living in that level. You can always tap a level to see these details too, but the icons are there to help make scanning your inventory easier at a glance.

11. Feel free to ignore the missions

When you start Tiny Death Star, the missions help guide you through understanding the gameplay, and knowing what to do. Once you have that down, though, they are mostly a waste of time. You can complete them just to satisfy your OCD, or you can ignore them. Both options have about the same value.

The reality is both pursuing missions, and collecting the Imperial Resources from the Imperial Levels can give you a nominal amount of coins, but eventually it pales in comparison to the amount of coins your business levels will be generating for you, and cost much more.

For example, right now I’m earning about 50K to 100K coins every 6-12 hours from my business levels. However, my current Imperial Resource goal will only give me 6k, and the Emperor’s current mission only rewards me 600. At this point, I just focus on restocking my levels and the money just flows in from that.

12. If you’re desperate for bux, don’t buy them, earn them

Whatever you do, don’t spend real life money on buying new bux via the menu. IT’S JUST NOT WORTH IT!!! :-)

That being said, if you get to where you are actually considering buying bux with real money, do yourself a favor and earn free ones instead. You’ll notice there is an option if you go to Menu > Get Bux > Earn where you can complete a bunch of promotion offers (like clicking affiliate links and stuff) to get rewarded with free bux. There are some that are def worth doing, and some that will actually cost you money, so beware. But it’s usually a great way to get some free bux if you want to upgrade that elevator again.

May the Force be with you

So there’s all the things I’ve learned from playing my favorite toilet-time waster the past few months. Normally I don’t write about games on my blog, but this game has been sufficiently entertaining that I wanted to share, and it just seemed like a good excuse to practice non-techincal or philosphical writing.

Anyway, let me know on Twitter if you found it helpful.