Well, it's clearly a design decision. I've played other games who cannot be played at all without being online all the time. And I really appreciate that Dragon City is - in parts - playable without internet connection. After all, whom of us hasn't experienced a connection breakdown sometimes?
Ok, I decided to share the following story with you. I admit that I blithely used ap mode in the maze island from the last event (where you could get the Tierna Connaught dragon). Because I was unaware of the change in the fair play rules until I stumbled over this post a few days ago, and the maze island was before that.
I had planned to go for the new Fresh dragon on this island, he's so cute, but then I read on DCP that some people had found great rewards in a special chest at the end of the Defender path. So I decided to explore this path in ap mode - and found 120 High Ethereal orbs in the chest! I couldn't believe it! It was really a magical moment.
I still wanted the Fresh dragon, though, and found out (still exploring) that I lacked a few maze coins. So I turned off the ap mode, bought a small coin package (2,29€, I think) and got the Fresh dragon, too.
Now... without the possibility to use ap mode I wouldn't have changed my original plan. Just imagine my frustration if I had found nothing worthwile in that chest! I would have missed this special moment of pure joy, and SP would have missed my payment. It's not much - but I wonder, what do they gain from banning ap mode?
Ready player one?
...oh, and I'm female. And a fighter, not a collector! 😂