For those of us who are children of the 1980s, I'm sure that many classic toys come to mind: Care Bears, Rainbow Brite, Cabbage Patch Kids, My Little Ponies. I can't remember anyone my own age who didn't own at least 1 My Little Pony to play with. PonyStars, the game this guide is for, is like a 21st century version of My Little Ponies. You can breed them, paint them colors, dye their hair, give them bum symbols, decorate their hooves, dress them up in costumes, and give them backgrounds. Many of the possible decorations and colors do require monetary donations to the game, but there are several options for those who cannot or will not spend any real cash. Besides, the real fun of PonyStars is in breeding them for different colors and playing the Grasslands Adventure.
PonyStars is the Americanization of a French site: Poney Valley.
Author's Note: I wrote this guide before the "Osuna incident" on PonyStars drove me to playing only Poney Vallee, and while I could write a long, vitreolic paragraph about why Acclaim (the US game company that markets PonyStars) isn't my favorite game company, I'll just sum everything up with a table comparing the two games.
* F2P (Free to Play) means traits that can be purchased using in-game currency, earned through playing the game, instead of with real money. Some F2P traits must be unlocked by donating a certain amount, however.
** P2P (Pay to Play) is the opposite of F2P. P2P means that you must buy the traits with real money. (It is possible, however, to breed any trait through playing the game, whether you have donated money or not.)
Choose whichever version you think is the best deal. This guide works reasonably well for either one (though the guide was originally written from Ponystars, so some of the data may not be 100% accurate for Poney Vallee). If you want my recommendation, Poney Vallee is much easier to play because you can easily breed large numbers of ponies thereby allowing you to use Osuna (for free) to care for hundreds of ponies in about 30 seconds (as opposed to an hour or so on Ponystars). Also, Poney Vallee's constantly diverse selection of Black Market ponies, coupled with the higher sale costs of baby ponies makes it pretty easy to get and stay rich. The diverse Black Market selection makes it *much* easier to breed special colors (like pure white, my personal favorite). The infinite herd size is also very nice at the later stages of the game. In short, Ponystars feels like a chore once your herd size exceeds a few dozen, while Poney Vallee is fun to play (even for free) no matter how many hundreds or thousands of ponies you have raised.
The first step is to join your site of choice. When you do, you will get to choose the species and colors for both parents of your soon-to-be newborn foal. I recommend making both parents have similar colors (and I recommend that those colors be either all white or all black, as those colors are impossible to get in the game by breeding unless you have access to a pony with those colors). Pick the species you like the best for both parents (or the game will automatically choose one of the two you pick for you). You can't choose whether you start out with a Male or Female (and there are advantages and disadvantages to both). No matter what gender your first pony is, your first step should be to go to the Farm and plant the crop for your species of pony (Hay for Earth, Seaweed for Water, Clouds for Air, Coal for Fire, Chocolate for Love, or Milk for Feline). Water this every day to get food for your pony much more cheaply. Then, head over to the marketplace and buy a handful of the correct food and brush, and some hoof picks. Go take care of your pony*, and come back the next day. Somewhere around your 3rd to 5th day, you should get a free adult pony from the Fairies, and it will have a trait (as well as random colors). When you get this pony, make sure you've saved up at least 1,000 Fairy Gold to buy a farm field for your new pony's food.
* As your herd grows, you will find caring for each pony by hand quite tedious (and you may find it tedious even when your herd is small). A simple workaround for this (until they add the fairy from PonyValley who helps with pony care) is to bookmark each of your pony's links for feeding, brushing, and cleaning hooves in a dedicated favorites folder. (Note that this trick currently only works in Firefox.) Make sure you don't save too many in there (I find that more than 50 is a bad thing). Every day, simply make sure you have the needed items to care for your ponies, and then go to your favorites and use the "Open All In Tabs" to care for them all at one time. Laziness FTW. ^.^
If your first ponies are stallions (males), you are going to make Fairy gold far more easily in the beginning. This is because the fee you get from breeding your males is far greater than the profits you make from breeding baby ponies (if you breed them only for sale). The downside is, without a female, you can't increase your herd size, and since each pony you have gives you an extra 150 Fairy Gold per day, that's a problem. Save up until you have 2,000 Fairy Gold (if you are willing to try your luck at the Black Market) or 3,000 Fairy Gold (if you want to pick a pretty mare from the Breeders, which is the option I recommend). One female is plenty. Given enough about two months, you'll have more ponies than you know what to do with.
If your first ponies are mares (females), you are going to have a huge herd very fast. This is because female ponies can give birth every 7-8 days. The downside is that you will be poor in the beginning, because not only will you have to pay stud fees and pay to heal your mares when they breed, but you'll have to pay for new paddocks to house the foals. It's a good idea to keep an eye out for stallions, and having your own stallions will eliminate your dependance on others to breed your ponies. Also, you might want to invest in a Magic Fountain level (if you can save up the needed 3,000 Fairy Gold), just to help with the daily costs of healing (and to save money, try to heal no more than 2-3 HP per day per pony). These suggestions also apply to those who are lucky enough to start out with a male and a female (which hasn't happened to me on ANY of my 5 accounts, so I'm guessing that it's rare, if it ever happens at all).
The colors of each foal are somewhat random, in that foals often gain more color from their father or their mother. That being said, My Breeding Calculator can give you a good approximation of what will result from the two parents' colors. Some colors are considered more desirable or rare than others (such as orange and yellow), while other colors are so common that many are biased against them (green). However, a big part of the fun of the game is breeding for whatever colors you personally like, so the popularity of the color may not matter much to you. The foal's species is always randomly chosen from one parent, and there is a very small chance that foals will inheirit a coat, main, or brand trait from either parent. (This is why traited stallions get far more requests than non-traited ones or those traited with "Fairy Gold" traits.)
The Grasslands (aka Hunting Aurora Ponies)
Note: If you start out with female ponies, do NOT put them on the Grasslands, not even once! They will be stuck there until you can switch them out with a male pony in your herd, and while there, you will not be able to breed your female. Males, however, can breed while on the Grasslands. (Contrary to common newbie belief, even though you select a Pony to put on the Grasslands each day, until you select a different pony, the one you selected is "stuck" on the Grasslands and if female cannot breed, even if it's been days or even weeks since you last put it there.) In short, it's best to *NEVER* put a female pony on the Grasslands.
The Grasslands are a set of 6 large fields your ponies can walk across. The stars link to other boards (which requires you to switch out with the appropriate species of pony in your herd), the ponies on the board have quests for you (which pay out in skill points, small amounts of gold, experience, and sometimes even health points). The real purpose of the Grasslands quests, however, is to get Aurora Ponies (you get one baby Aurora PonyStar each time you complete all 18 Grasslands Quests). Completing these quests, however, requires a lot of ponies (since each pony can only ever complete 2 Grasslands Quests) and a lot of training time. It is considered wise to have at least 3 males of each type set aside for the Grasslands Quests, 1 for each of the 3 quest levels (so you can use each one twice, thus saving Training costs), and a Speed Pure (a Pony with stat points placed only in Speed). The Speed Pures are good for gaining mass points quickly. A level 48+ speed pony gains 13 movement points every day on the Grasslands. (If you choose an Air Pony as your Speed Pure and use him to complete the easy Grasslands Air Quests twice, you can get the Pony up to level 53 Speed.) Below is a chart of the relation between speed and movement points:
(Ex: Level 5 Speed gives 4 Movement Points per day.)
To figure out how many Moves your pony will get on the Grasslands, use this equation, rounded down: Moves = ((Speed Level + 2) / 5) + 3.