MLP:FiM for iPad: Updated strategy guide
First let me say, Heaven help the person who is wrong about ponies on the Internet. Yikes.
After a few more weeks of gameplay, here are my current suggestions for playing the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic game for iPad:
1. Pave it
Rocks and tree roots ("clearables," in the game's clunky lingo) spawn on any open spot. These usually start out being cheap to clear (around 400 coins, and maybe 15 minutes of waiting time). But they grow into larger items that can get quite expensive (the biggest one I have seen so far is a boulder that would cost 8000 coins to clear. I have left it in place, out of curiosity if nothing else).
Therefore, the challenge is to clear your land and then hold the line until you can get a property (either a shop or a pony's house) to drop into that spot. I suggest using Dirt Road, since this is the second-cheapest item on the Décor menu.
When you need to build something, just re-clear your land by selling the road pieces. At least you can recoup some of the cost in laying it down.
2. Watch for Derpy
Derpy Hooves, the cross-eyed hapless gray pony, likes to hide inside a cardboard box. Keep a lookout for her box hideout: clicking it can get you a nice bonus in coins.
3. It's probably not worth your time to click stuff
Clicking random objects (like trees and haystacks) will occasionally cause them to drop a coin. One single coin.
Sure, it's worth it to click around a few here and there when you're stalled, but don't go crazy with it. I have talked to players who literally spend hours just scrolling around clicking on stuff. Doesn't seem worth it to me, your time is probably better spent studying your town and figuring out how to optimize the layout.
4. Leveling up is the best way to earn coins
Every time you level up, you gain several thousand coins. That's more coins in one whack than you will earn any other way, so it behooves the player to keep an eye on their leveling progress.
You level up by gaining blue stars (XP). The main way you get blue stars is by clicking on businesses when it's time to harvest their coins. You can also earn them by some other activities like clearing rocks or adding new businesses. One thing that never seems to earn blue stars is playing mini-games with your ponies.