This page may not speak to your particular situation, but we give this advice often enough that we figure it's worth writing down in an FAQ.
It's not impossible
There are multiple players who have completed Story Mode on Normal difficulty, and some players who have completed Story Mode on all three difficulties.
You have to do Bear School
Playing very well will get you into possibly the third chapter or so. After that you won't be able to progress without leveling up your bears, which is done largely in Bear School.
There are basically only two levers for scoring higher
Your score is basically the product of:
- How well you play without considering the bears' score bonuses. (Affected by vocabulary, how well you take advantage of the scoring rules, optimal use of special tiles, etc.)
- Your bears' score bonuses. (Affected by which bears you own, how much they've been leveled up, and whether their affinity gets a boost in the particular event you're playing.)
Score targets are set according to how well we expect a player to play and how strong we expect the score bonuses to be. To some degree, strength in one aspect can compensate for weakness in the other (e.g., playing better than expected can make up for having weaker bears than expected, or vice versa). But only to a degree.
If you're leaving rocks on the board, not maximizing the special tiles, etc., then maybe playing better will help. However, if you are playing as well as possible and still not winning, then score bonus is the only other lever you can move (not counting Boosts, getting luckier with the random letter generator, etc.).
Invest in the higher-rarity bears
You get more bang for your buck/honey/coffee if you invest in higher-rarity bears because their score bonuses scale better as you level up. For example, a Level 80 Legendary IOU Bear would have a higher score bonus than a Level 220 Epic Equistribear. So if you're lucky enough to find a bear of higher rarity than your current best bears, invest in it because eventually it will carry you farther than your current bears will.
The difficulty bar may not have to be green
If the only thing stopping you is the color of the difficulty bar and you haven't attempted the mission yet, go ahead and give it a try--hopefully you'll win, and if not you'll at least see how far away you are. Please see this page for more information. However, the missions do get harder as you progress and eventually you'll get to a mission that you can't beat given your skill level and your bears' current strength.
Make sure you're switching between the various difficulty levels
Story Mode has three difficulty levels:
- Normal Difficulty is available from the beginning of the game.
- Hard Difficulty unlocks after beating Chapter 6, Mission 12 in Normal Difficulty
- Master Difficulty unlocks after winning in Chapter 10, Mission 11 in Normal Difficulty
You can switch between the difficulty levels using the tabs at the top of the Story Mode screen.
It is our intent that, once Hard Difficulty is unlocked, players progress along both the Normal and Hard paths simultaneously. E.g., the player might be working on Chapter 8 in Normal but only Chapter 4 in Hard. This will let you get bears from the later Normal missions that you can use in the Hard missions. Likewise, when you unlock Master you should switch between all three difficulties until Normal is complete.
(Note that this isn't required; we've heard of a few players who managed to complete Hard Difficulty before Normal Difficulty because they didn't realize they should be switching. But theirs was definitely the more difficult approach.)
Which events you play should change over time
- In the beginning, you'll probably play only Story Mode since the other game modes aren't unlocked yet, and since we give you enough honey and set the early missions' target scores low enough that you'll be able to get through many Story Mode missions easily.
- As Bear School, Daily Events, and Special Events open up, you will probably play more of these because Story Mode gets harder. These other types of events are how you strengthen your bears so you can then progress in Story Mode.
- By the time you're very far along in Story Mode, you should expect not to make progress in Story Mode on most days, and instead spend the majority of your play time in Bear School, Daily Events, and Special Events.
- When the Hard and Master difficulties open up, these are kind of like extra Story Mode tracks that you can advance along, as you simultaneously try to advance in Normal difficulty. (And you should still be playing Bear School, Daily Events, and Special Events.)
- At some point you'll beat Story Mode on all the difficulty levels and won't be able to play Story Mode any more. The other game modes are still available to play, and you probably haven't completed the bear collection yet, so there is probably still a reason to play.
How can I use my honey efficiently?
You probably won't have enough honey to do everything you want, so you should try to spend your honey efficiently. Here is one approach:
- If you can advance in Story Mode, go for it!
- If you can't, the next best use of honey is probably playing Bear School for at least some of your bears.
- If you have leftover honey, play the Daily Events that will help you with whatever seems to be holding you back. E.g., the events with a high chance to drop coffee are a good choice because if you receive a coffee then you can instantly level up a bear one more time in Bear School. Not all of the Daily Events help in the same way, so prioritize the ones that will help to unstick you.
- Some of the Special Events are helpful, too. Especially the ones on Thursday and Friday that eventually award Epic and Legendary bears.
Strategies for some particularly tricky missions
Please see this page. Unless you want to try to figure these missions out for yourself first, in which case maybe you shouldn't look there just yet.