A thing citizens tell gullible newcomers
We can't get enough gas down here, see. So you know what we burn for heat? … sinners.
A Brief Guide to playing the game…
Echo Bazaar has some hints under the 'Help' tab, but that's not really much help now is it? The question, in various forms, has come up on the UnFiction Forums thread, most usefully here. But if you wanted to wade through all of that…
How do I start?
You need a Twitter account. But you know that, don't you? Then sign up for the game. (See the Welcome page…) Then start playing. There are basically three things you can do to progress the game. First, you can play Opportunity cards. Next, you can play the Storylets. Last, you can interact with the Masters. What you choose to do with the cards and the Storylets determines how your Qualities progress. As you Qualities and the Storlets progress, new opportunities unlock.
What should I do first?
Get out of New Newgate Prison. You can talk your way out or overcome a guard. Whichever. Then try to amass enough stuff to find a place to live. The Spare Room is about the cheapest but it still only allows you two cards. See Lodgings for more options when you decide to upgrade. Be sure to read First Steps in Detail.
That's really up to you. Explore. What looks intriguing? Follow that. The game is open-ended enough that you can probably find something to do with your time, and that is interesting to you. Eventually you will find an Ambition to follow. (See that section of the wiki).
These Opportunity Cards suck.
That is a problem. Frequently your cards are beyond (nearly impossible or high-risk challenge) your Qualities. Don't be afraid to discard those. They'll show up again. You should probably hang on to the bronze-bordered cards, though, as they unlock Storylets. Through social actions and a few cards you can obtain second chance items that will help with higher risk challenges. The other side of this is that as you improve your Qualities into the 30+ range you will begin to get cards that aren't worth spending an action on. Either way, you're limited to 50 actions per day, but you get cards at the same rate as actions and there's no limit to cards drawn per day, so you can login periodically to go through a new set of cards and look for ones you want.
I keep getting all this… stuff.
Your actions, whether through playing cards or following Storylets, can give you things. These can be retained or sold at the Bazaar. Some cards require you to possess certain items before you can onlock them. (See Item dependent cards). Doing things like renting Lodgings cost a lot. For these cases you want to hoard those items. Generally, you should hang onto stuff until you want to make a purchase. There is essentially a two for one mark up at the Bazaar.
Who should I follow on Twitter?
Again, this is up to you, but for starters you should follow all the Masters. The Mr Names account follows all legitimate Echo Bazaar accounts. Then, it really helps to have a few people to share social interactions with so you can gain second chance cards. Look at one of the forums if none of your friends are playing, or use the #echobazaar #ebz hashtags to find out who is playing. Almost anyone will join you for a game of chess, and if your first choice doesn't someone else will.
You said something about interacting with the Masters?
This isn't mandatory by any means. It can be fun though. If you aren't a very social person it's entirely possible to play the game and enjoy it immensely without ever tweeting anything except the initial 'I've gone to Fallen London' tweet. On the other hand, the Masters are pretty good role players, and there is a lot of back story that goes on there. Further, at least three items (Brass Ring, Handsome Lad, and Greyfields 1868) have come out of twitter conversations with the Masters, which is kind of cool. Mr Eaten will occasionally produce one off items… for a price.
What are these Ambitions?
These are major story threads for your character. There are four of them, each of which focuses on two of your qualities. Don't expect to finish these any time soon. In fact, since Echo Bazaar is still in Beta, it isn't even possible to complete any of the Ambitions yet. But they are interesting stories and rewarding in their own right. Which one? That's up to you. All have benefits and drawbacks. All require you to open one of the locked areas. Following an Ambition will slant you stats, so if you play Knife and Candle a lot you probably want to choose Nemesis or Bag a Legend.
What good are Contacts?
Contacts work in a couple ways. You acquire contacts through cards or storylets. Then, you can trade your Connected quality for salable items and / or increases in particular Qualities through Opportunity Cards which unlock when the Connected score is high enough. This generally costs you one point of connected. The other way to use Connected is to redeem them in one of the four areas you can optionally open, The Forgotten Quarter, Wolfstack Docks, The Shuttered Palace or Flit. Doing this requires that you are connected at a minimum of 15 and costs multiple connected points. The reward is quite generous though.
How do I get more Fate?
There are several ways to get more Fate. There are a number of major stories that reward a small amount of fate on completion. Also, progress in a chosen Ambition will occasionally result in a small amount of fate. Failbetter Games will very rarely award fate if there is a major problem or as a thank you but that's best not counted on. There are several options for purchasing fate—refer to the Fate tab on the Echo Bazaar screen for details. Occasionally, other special offers are on that tab as well. This is a good thing to do, at least once in a while, because that is the main revenue source for Failbetter and we'd like them to stick around so they can continue developing this game.