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Hints, tips, and tricks for freemium iOS build-'em-up DragonVale

A social lesson in mythology
Product: DragonVale | Developer: Backflip Studios | Format: iPhone, iPad | Genre: Virtual Pet/ Toy
DragonVale Multiformat, thumbnail 1
DragonVale is a brand-new freemium game from Army of Darkness: Defense developer Backflip that tasks you with creating a park full of "adorable and friendly" dragons.  

Your day-to-day tasks include hatching eggs, building habitats, growing food, and attracting visitors with a range of fancy decorations. 

Naturally, dragons can be somewhat of a handful, so we've compiled this handy guide. 

It includes explanations of your realm's various currencies, how to level-up your range of beasts, pointers on what to build, and how to interact with your buddies. 

Take heed, and you might even avoid getting your eyebrows singed. 

The basics

As you can probably imagine, DragonVale - like all freemium games - features two different currencies: in this case Cash and Magic Gems. 

Cash is earned in large quantities throughout, and is used to purchase food, buildings, decorations, eggs, and a range of other goodies.

Magic Gems are the game's premium currency, and therefore are few and a far between. These are used to speed up processes, such as the construction of a habitat, or the incubation period of an egg.

If you're running low, you can top-up both forms of currency through in-app purchases. Packs of Cash and Magic Gems range from 69p/99c to £69.99/$99.99. 

The other thing to keep an eye on is experience points (XP), which level you up and unlock new content when you hit a pre-designated limit. 

Experience is earned in various ways, including removing scenery, feeding your selection of critters, and placing habitats. 

Filling your park

If you wish to attract tourists to your brand new park you'll have to fill it with a plethora of cute, cuddly, and varied dragons. To do this, you first need to build a habitat.  

Dragons fall under one of several categories, such as grass, fire, earth, and ice, each requiring its own unique abode. 

Once built, you should turn your focus to eggs. Eggs come in several varieties, some costing Cash and others Magic Gems. 

Purchase an egg and it will be added to your nursery for the duration of its incubation period, which you can speed-up by spending some of DragonVale's premium currency. 

Upon hatching, your dragon can be added to one of your previously built habitats, which will now gift you coins at regular intervals. 

Finally, you'll have to remember to feed your new little pets, by purchasing a Treat Farm from the game's market.

This building - which costs 100 Cash - allows you to grow a selection of different foods that boost the level of your dragons as you feed them. 

As dragons level-up they change in both size and appearance, and earn you extra cash by attracting additional visitors. 

Remember: the food that costs the most and takes the longest to grow provide your beasts with the greatest amount of sustenance (XP). 

A tussle in the bushes

Once you reach level seven, you gain access to a Breeding Cave, and the ability to cross-breed two of your level four and above fire-breathers. 

Breeding is a great way to unlock new and rare dragons, which earn you higher level of reward when displayed in your park.

Like all eggs, those created through breeding will still need to incubate in your nursery before they can be placed in a habitat of your choosing. 

Here's a full list of possible breeding combinations:
Dragon 1Dragon 2Incubation periodOutcome
PlantFire1 hourFlower
FireEarth12 hoursLava
EarthPlant12 hoursMoss
Fire Flower30 minutesPoison
PlantEarth14 hoursTree
ColdEarth 14 hoursMountain
FireLightning3 hoursFirefly
EarthLightning24 hoursCrystal
LavaLightning6 hoursQuake
LightningCold5 hoursStorm
Cold Water8 hoursIce
EarthWater6 hours Mud
PlantWater9 hoursSwamp
WaterPlant5 hoursSeaweed
AirLightning8 hoursSonic
Cold Air8 hoursSnow
Air Fire8 hoursBlazing
Air Plant8 hoursWillow


Structurally sound 

Your Nursery, your habitats, and a selection of other buildings can all be upgraded throughout DragonVale, providing you meet minimum level requirements. 

Upgrade your Nursery, for example, and you can incubate more eggs at once, with upgrades to habitats allowing you place more dragons in each one. 

Upgrades cost a mixture of Cash and Magic Gems, but are a very worthwhile purchase. As Magic Gems are extremely rare, any you have should be spent on upgrades rather than on speeding up processes. 

Remember: you can destroy scenery - providing you meet level requirements - to make more room for useful buildings and habitats. You'll even earn small amounts of XP for doing so. 

Sharing the goal

The last things you need to worry about when attempting to construct your new tourist attraction are Goals and your buddies. 

Goals - which you can access by tapping the top-left icon on your screen - gift you bags of Cash upon their completion. 

These range from placing certain decorations to hatching specific varieties of dragon, most of which you'll do automatically throughout the course of play. 

Finally, DragonVale allows you to connect to both Facebook and Apple's Game Center, and bring your friends along for the ride. 

You can visit your friends on a regular basis - although this carries no reward - and send and receive daily gifts. 

There's a limit on the amount you can send, so be sure only to gift to those who are likely to gift back. 

Reviewer photo
Anthony Usher 3 October 2011
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