Swords and Potions 2 is a bit like Recettear, Sim City and a facebook game. You play a shop owner, running his business of making and selling things to adventurers, sending them on quests and upgrading your city. Being a flash game and free to play, premium currencies and timers are rampant, but I still think there's an addictive and interesting side to this little manager game.
You start in a random city with a random number of other real players and at this point you have a few resources and a few things to sell. The city side of things is interesting, you can upgrade pretty much everything, either by spending gold, crafting items and donating them, or sending adventurers that visit your shop to these places, by being upgraded, they give more resources faster, unlock more advanced buildings and yield higher level customers. This is a bit like Sim City, you all play together asynchronously with other people towards a common goal, but you don't directly interfere with their affairs. I wish you could do more with other players, maybe sending customers their way when they have something you don't? I suppose that would be exploitable by creating a bunch of accounts, so I understand why they didn't.
All cities are not equal, you might be tempted to move to another advertised city where all the resources and villagers are at the max level, but I wanted to do the whole progression, so I haven't. Resources are produced by many buildings; a forest, mine, fabric mill, trader, herb garden, and so forth. They recharge at different rates and you can only hold a certain amount of them. This is one of the things that gate progress in this game, you need to wait for things to replenish themselves before you can craft again. You can also pay real money to speed things up. I understand that being a problem if you'd want to play nonstop for hours at a time, but I find that this game is better played one half hour here and there.
Even with a clunky interface, the shop builder is fine. You buy and upgrade furniture for your shop, some of which is used to store resources (upgrading it will allow you to carry more) some grants you more XP when you craft or sell things, or gold. Some gives you a small chance to get double crafted items, some increases your shop fame, which attracts more customers daily (and higher level ones too) some other pieces of furniture improve your store in different ways. You also need to upgrade your things to be able to craft more advanced items, and that can take days to do. I wish there was a way to sell back things or to put them in storage without having to delete them. You can increase the size of your shop and improve the flooring/walls, but that's very expensive.
NPCs will visit your store through the day and ask for specific items. Sometimes they'll also be there to sell items to you. You either can sell them outright, suggest another item (with a lower percentage chance of them accepting the suggestion (It should change depending on the item, if a guard wants the dolphin shield, I should have a better chance to sell him a wooden shield than a healing potion) ) tell them to wait until you can craft it (this rarely works, because what you craft takes more time than the customer will wait, or the shop closes before then ) send them on a quest (that's a good wait to get rid of pesky customers) or refuse. If you don't sell something to a customer, their affinity will go down, lowering the odds that they visit your store. This basically means that you'll more or less only get customers to which you can sell things.
The way the quest system works is that each quest has a level and 3 potential rewards. You equip gear to the adventurers to increase the odds you get these rewards and gear you give them can break (with the lowest chance of that happening being 10%) They get experience and you get items when they come back, if they've succeeded. Quests take time, so that's another thing to make you leave the game and come back later. You can get pretty good crafting materials from quests, more gear and gold. There also are events, but I like them a bit less, they require a bunch of heroes and a bunch of items together to be completed, but the items are so diverse that you won't be able to craft them all very quickly, you'll need to buy them, either for real money or through the auction house (which costs real money to participate in)
At specific levels, you unlock artisan slots to recruit more artisans. I have to say that waiting until level 40 to get my 3rd one feels like it's going to take forever, but I don't want to pay real money for that. They all have a list of recipes they can learn and then when you build items enough times, they unlock new recipes that you need to build a bunch of. This goes on until you've unlocked all their stuff, and then I suppose you return them to the tavern and hire a new one. Just be careful who you take, for a long time nobody used my metal and wood was required in most of my recipes so I had a resource bottleneck, don't make the same mistake.
I like S&P2! It's neat and the systems are interesting. Of course, there's no fail state and they constantly want your money, but it's not overly aggressive and you have enough choices to feel like there's an "good" way to play. I'm not really a fan of their premium items though, because some of them are too expansive. You get a bunch of hammers for close to nothing, but 5 cogs (enough to unlock an extra worker slot) is 20$. You need to spend these premium items to speed time up, access the auction house, fix broken items or get more loot from quests, so they could be used all the time and you're never going to have enough. Getting the elite membership (4 quests at a time, plus a bunch of items) is an okay deal if you plan to play the game a bunch, but the premium items they give for that price aren't gonna make you a sword and potions millionaire.