The Basics of Mafia Wars

Once you are finished with the little introduction sequence to the game, outlined thoroughly in Getting Started, it is not immediately apparent what you should do next. Overall, the game encompasses a number of different objectives and where to start is really up to you.

  • Grow your Mafia family
  • Keep leveling up your character
  • Maximize your fighting strength
  • Establish a large income
  • Complete collections for special bonuses
  • Earn impressive titles

Keepin' up with the Corleone's

Since Mafia Wars is a game on a social networking site, there is no surprise at all that it has a strong social networking component. Growing your mafia size has a surprising number of benefits:

  • Ability to purchase more Mafia Mike's, the highest return on investment property
  • Ability to purchase very strong special items
  • Flushing out your Top Mafia for bonuses
  • Your potential cash payout from jobs is increased.
  • Certain mafia sizes are required to unlock Boss fights
  • Higher attack and defense for both fighting others and defending yourself
  • People to trade with to complete collections faster
  • The chance to meet new people who share common interests!

Though you do not need the maximum 501 mafia size to be successful, it is highly recommended you try to keep your mafia size at least equal with your level. This will allow you to always get the most from your jobs, keep the boss fights unlocked, and have a solid chance at defending your properties from all the robberies going on out there. If you can't or are not interested in doing that, a mafia size of 16 will at least stop you from being unable to do the boss fights.

Doin' your first few levels

Leveling up your character gets you access to bigger and better items, loot, and collections as well as providing more skill points to make you more efficient and deadly. Leveling can be as complicated or as simple as your time and playing style allows. Every job you complete and fight you win provides XP. Every time you level up, your health, energy, and stamina are reset to their current maximums and 5 more skill points are awarded.

Since your energy and stamina completely refill when you level, it is ideal to have almost none left when you top off the XP bar. On the same note, any extra XP left over when you level gets applied towards the next level, so finishing with a big job for heavy XP will give you the most spill over. Fights yield from 1-3 XP randomly with a chance for it to be doubled based on the size of your mafia. This is all detailed in Fightin' and Robbin'. Most of your XP for any given level will come from doing jobs.

Each time you do a job, you will be awarded a payout in cash, XP as listed on the job, a bonus payout for the size of your mafia, a percentage of the job mastery, and a chance at a loot and collection item (depending on the job). The cash payout is fairly self explanatory. For a detailed treatise on the XP per job and the effects your Top Mafia has on these percentages, refer to Doin' the Job.

Job Mastery is important as for every level of Job Mastery, you are awarded an additional skill point. When all jobs within a given category, like Street Thug, are mastered at level 3, a special item with a bonus is awarded. You can not start leveling the next level of a job within a category until all jobs within that category have been mastered to the same level. So Job Mastery 2 for the Street Thug jobs won't be available until you have mastered all the jobs to Mastery level 1. Finally, for every fully mastered job tier, a title is awarded based on the category. This allows you to show other mafia families how far you have advanced. For the first tier, these are Street Thug, Skilled Street Thug, and Master Street Thug. Currently, Master Boss is the highest known title.

Special Loot items and the collections are discussed in more detail in Doin' the Job and you will also find a breakdown of what items need to be bought and found in order to do each job. If next to a job there is a red box frame around an item, it means you need to acquire that item in order to do the job. Early on, you just need to have it, but some later jobs will actually use up the item necessary to perform the job.

Early on, your best focus is to get the extra skill points from mastering jobs as quickly as possible and try to maximize the amount of spill over XP you have every time you are about to level. Collections and Loot can be focused on later. If your mafia is in solid combat shape, don't miss out on the opportunity to further speed your leveling by fighting with other families.

Pickin' a fight

At the very early levels, skill points won't have much to do with fighting at all and most everyone's skill points will have been spent in energy anyway. There are just a few key points to winning your fights in these low levels. First and foremost, make sure to the best of your financial ability that every member of your family has a weapon, armor, and vehicle. This means if your mafia size is 4, you ideally want 4 weapons with the highest attack value possible, 4 armors with the highest attack, and 4 vehicles with the highest attack. Whenever you are initiating combat, only the attack values matter. When you are assaulted by someone else, both attack and defense factor in.

The second key to winning your early combats is to just pick on the people with smaller families. If your mafia size is 7 and fully outfitted, you should win a fight against anyone with a family size of 6 or less. As you go up in levels this becomes less true and robbing takes on even different characteristics, but the details for these are in Fightin' and Robbin'. These basics tips are enough to get some money and XP out of your stamina.

More energy and Energy Paks

There are three ways to get more energy. It will regenerate at the rate of 1 every 5 minutes (3 minutes if you are a Maniac). It will completely refill whenever you gain a new level. This is one of the principal facts that makes speed leveling work, outlined in more detail in the Doin’ the Job section. You can also get a full refill from the Godfather. Finally there are Energy Paks and there can be a lot of confusion over how these work when you first start playing.

Energy Paks will completely refill your energy to your current maximum and give you an extra 25%. Your energy won’t refill again until your amount of current energy drops below your maximum. If you level before you use the extra 25% energy, you will lose the extra and be reset to your maximum amount. You want to save your Energy Pak until you have used all of your energy and you have the ability to consume most of the energy before leveling. On a similar note, you want to use the highest XP payout job if it is about to cause you to level as any excess XP beyond what is necessary to level will spill over in to starting the XP needed for the next level.

You can only use 1 Energy Pak every 24 hours. Before the Top Mafia was changed from 8 members to 6 members, sending out Energy Paks would only send them to people in your mafia who were also in your Top Mafia. Now they seem to go out to everyone in your Mafia. You won’t see them as being able to be used until the invisible timer of 24 hours since you used your last one completed.

Bein' a better slum lord

Properties make up the financial life blood of your borgata's empire. In order to make the most of your skim, you want to make sure you are buying the properties that produce the best return on investment (ROI) first. Your properties income will be added to your cash on hand every hour (54 minutes if you are a Mogul) even if you aren't logged in to the game. Some of the equipment you buy for your mafia, such as Chain Guns, Body Armor, and Towncars will also have an expense that is deducted from your profit every time it pays out. If this number ever goes negative, you lose money every hour, hence why smart investing is so important. A good rule of thumb is to not let your expenses (listed on the Properties tab) ever exceed 10% of your income. If buying a new item would push you over that amount, wait till you make your next property purchase.

Before we get too much further in to actual facts and figures, all advice on purchasing properties should be predicated with the following: Always buy a Mafia Mike's whenever it is available before doing anything else. No other property comes close to its profit potential, even if you have hundreds of them already.

The basics to maximizing the property racket comes down to this, each time you buy a given property, the cost for the next one goes up by 10% from the initial base price. So if a restaurant costs $30,000 for the first one, the second will cost $33,000 and the 11th will cost $60,000. The amount that each property pays per instance stays fixed. This means that the more of a given property you have, the lower the rate of return to keep buying that property.

The second key point is that if you buy more than one of a property at a time, the unit cost stays the same. So if you were to buy 5 Rent Houses each one at a time, you would pay, $10k, $11k, $12k, $13k, and $14k for a total of $60k. If you used to dropdown to choose to buy 5 Rent Houses all at once, you would have just paid $50k. This makes the amount of time to break even significantly reduced if you buy in bulk. The game only supports buying as many as 10 at a time, so practically speaking, this means you should always save up enough money to buy 10 of what you want and then buy the full block to get the best return.

To save up the money to get started and for information about how to protect your bankroll, you should read Rollin' a Bankroll. For more details on making the most of your properties and protecting yourself from robberies, see Property Moguls. For now, here is the list of initial purchases that will net you the best return on investment in order. Just save the specified amount of money, and get the next item on the list. You will notice, due to ROI, the Marina doesn't even show up in your first $10 million in purchases.

QtyPropertyCost for 10
10Abandoned Lot$50,000
10Rent House$100,000
10Abandoned Lot$50,000
10Italian Restaurant$300,000
10Abandoned Lot$50,000
10Commercial Block$500,000
10Apartment Complex$2,000,000
10Commercial Block$500,000
10Valu-Mart$4,000,000
10Rent House$200,000
10Abandoned Lot$50,000
10Italian Restaurant$300,000
10Abandoned Lot$50,000

An offer you can’t refuse – Using the Godfather

The Godfather is the game's way of letting you spend reward points. You start the game with 10 and will get 1 more for every other level you obtain plus another 5 as a bonus after you start playing. Outside of that, reward points are gained by paying for them or completing offers with various advertisers that have signed up with Zynga. There is a strong temptation to use these points right away, but as they are your rarest commodity in the game, let us talk about what they can actually gain you.

So far, every couple of weeks there has been a special item that is available to purchase for 25 reward points, but the offer only lasts for 36 hours. There is no limit on the number that can be bought during that time, as long as you have the reward points for them. These items usually have stats that match or exceed the best items that can be gained from job loot or the mafia store. They are expensive, but definitely good deals if you plan on doing a lot of fighting.

Along the same lines, there are also offers of 1 for 20 or 3 for 55 special loot items. Previously these were called Tools of the Trade, Yakuza Crates and Red Hammer Crates, but now they are Woodsman Crates. The boxes have a 10% chance at a rare item and a 30% chance for an uncommon. The uncommon items are about the equivalent of the special offers and the special loot rewards for mafia size. The rare items are slightly better than the best loot items in the game for a given stat. Unfortunately, with the low drop chance of the rare items and the fact that the common items don't match up to the best job loot, we don't really recommend picking these up.

The Godfather also has the option to completely refill your energy, stamina, or health. Health is a horrible deal as you can always pay the hospital to heal you every 45 seconds and this site has ample information to solving money problems. Stamina refills may seem useful to fulfill a vendetta on someone you are warring with, but once again, your stamina regenerates naturally and if you just hit the mattresses until you have it all back, you get the exact same effect. Energy refills may occasionally be worthwhile if you are trying to speed level, especially as your available energy pool exceeds 24 hours to naturally replenish. Of course, your daily Energy Paks also solve this issue.

Buying a name change is certainly worthwhile if you decide you don't like your initial choice. Unfortunately, there is no longer a way to change your initial choice of character type. Hopefully they will either fix that in the future, or balance the character types better. Buying extra skills points is certainly a viable option if you wish. Buying money is a complete waste as there are many easy ways within the game to solve your financial woes. Check out the Rollin' a Bankroll section if you are still struggling.

Dominate Mafia Wars
Finally, there is an option to purchase additional mafia members. As you level up higher and higher, the number you get per time taking this reward goes up. The game is a lot more rewarding to you if your mafia members are real people and it is not hard to run up a mafia of new friends if you are unhappy with how many you have. Some players though are really not interested in meeting new people and would rather just keep their tight circle of friends, in which case, this might be a real option for you. These members work just like an actual friend for fighting and jobs, but they can't be used for Top Mafia and won't help you secure any of those bonuses.

Continue reading the Mafia Wars Strategy Guide