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1) Leaderboards. Here, I mean not only the leaderboard events, but also the leaderboard "areas" (county fair, boat races). The problem?
It's altogether too easy to wind up in a group where the chance of winning anything is zero. There are altogether too many accounts which seem able to generate tens or hundreds of thousands of points suspiciously in a blink of an eye.
Even when not in a group of this sort, the event or area is... anti-fun. At least, it is as such for those of us who joined this game because of its actual tagline "Farm at your own pace!" Someone who doesn't check in to play several times a day every day for several hours each time is either going to (A) sooner than later, realize we are chasing a sunk cost of time and effort as we fall irretrievably farther behind or (B) later than sooner, feel like a chump for almost winning something up to a point, and then having to settle for a no-prize.
Leaderboard events are, for a significant number of players, simply NOT FUN -- they are work, not in a "this is an interesting challenge to overcome" way but in a "this is like filling out Form 973-B in triplicate all day, under a deadline, only for a game, and one where I'm not likely to earn any reward for doing so."
County Fair and Boat Races are like having leaderboards that run ALL THE TIME.
Can we simply not do these events and areas? Yes, in principle (though one of my co-op members reported that the County Fair force-started on the farm despite any attempt to avoid it, which is worse) -- but it is frustrating to realize "oh, it's a leaderboard event, I guess the next couple of weeks will be boring then, if I'm not doing it."
And don't get me started on the "supplementary events," e.g. the recent Dog Butler. The event was mind-numbingly repetitive, and the reward -- a week of the dubious once-every-three-hours utility of the Dog Butler, in exchange for a month of drudgery -- was underwhelming to the point of "why even finish this event?" (Additionally, offering "finish the Dog Butler event and you can unlock ANOTHER leaderboard challenge" might not work all that well for a supplementary event designed in part to be something to do BESIDES a leaderboard.)
<<< At the very least, leaderboard-type challenges might be more palatable if some significantly attractive award were available for farmers who at least hit a fixed point target, so that if a group proves impossible to win, there is still something to work toward! >>>
But this all leads into a bigger issue....
2) Event rewards. The bait for leaderboard events is, presumably, that they are one of the few ways to win a permanent farm hand. (Beyond a certain level of farm - once a farmer has earned enough keys to purchase all farmhand animals that can be obtained with keys - leaderboards are very nearly the only way to add permanent farm hands.)
This raises a problem with event rewards generally: there is no lasting reward, even a token trophy or decoration, for completing most events. The standard reward consists of some stage rewards (which, admittedly, involve some number of keys and stamps and such) and a 30-day temporary farmhand that.. helps with the next event, which yields... a 30-day temporary farmhand that... helps with the next event, and so on.
While I can understand that there is a potential concern about "runaway wealth" (farms able to complete many events will have access to far more resources than those that don't), this problem already exists with regards to farms that complete leaderboards and access farmhand upgrades inaccessible in any other way.
More to the point, having no even token permanent marker / achievement / decoration makes it feel like there is very little progression for actually completing an event. This matters, obviously, to players - and not least of all to high-level farms which have most (or even all) of the non-event game content.
<<< At the very least, events should have a permanent decoration available as a reward, and at least occasionally some sort of permanent bonus resource, if not farmhand. >>>