The Un-athletic Pet's Guide to Surviving the AC
“GOOOOOAAAAAAALLLL!” screams the announcer.
“YAAAAAAAAAAAYYY!!!” “BOOOOOOOOOOOO!” scream various fans.
“Hide me!” whispers my poor Scorchio. Let’s face it – MrImpressible is cute, cuddly, adorable beyond words even! However... athletic he is not. With Neopia fully in the grip of Altador Cup Fever (henceforth known as “ACF”), nearly every pet is outdoors practicing their moves or indoors cheering on their team. For those un-athletic pets (and trust me, more exist than we think), this is a time of great danger.
“Not interested in the Altador Cup??? Are you crazy?!” hollers my Cup-crazed Gnorbu. “Why, it’s lolly-gaggers like you who are going to cost Shenkuu the title! How can you not want to spend every moment of the day watching replays of Foltaggio’s key pass to Mirsha, sending the match into double overtime...” At this point, Imp is normally able to sneak away while ‘Flash hunts for chalk to draw a diagram of said key pass. Occasionally this fails however, and I have returned to my Neohome to find my poor Scorchio stuck tending the goal while his siblings instruct him on the best ways to block their shots.
Having re-stuffed and re-stitched Imp more times than I care to remember, I am here today to share some tips for the un-athletic pets of Neopia in hopes that they too may survive Neopia’s annual bout with ACF... preferably in one piece!
Tip 1: Stock your hideouts early
If your plan is to simply disappear during the AC, make sure you plan accordingly! Hideouts must be equipped with enough food and water to enable your survival for a full month. Food should be carefully selected; items that will not spoil are a must. Planning on eating lots of fresh fruits and veggies during this time? Either make sure your hideout is located near a secluded garden, or that you have a way to keep that tomato from becoming a rotten tomato. Above all, make sure you plan this escape in advance. Nothing spoils a good hideout quicker than an ACF-afflicted Neopet spying you sneaking off somewhere loaded down with food. They tend to assume you’re on your way to watch a practice Cup session, and feel obligated to tag along... and then all your careful planning has been wasted.
Tip 2: Plan escape routes carefully
If hiding isn’t your style, a careful planning of your travel routes through Neopia is a must. Make a list of anywhere you plan to go: the Money Tree, Marketplace, Kauvara’s Shop, etc. Then make a list of at least two possible routes to reach that destination. Routes should not go through major gathering spots (yes, that means cross the Marketplace off your destination list). Preferably, the Games Room and Battledome should be avoided as well. Games Room should be for obvious reasons. Battledome... well, let’s just say BD fans tend to either be VERY afflicted by ACF or VERY GRUMPY that Neopia is totally focused on something other than the Battledome. Play it safe – don’t take your chances.
Routes should also have built in contingency plans. Let’s say you’re heading to the Money Tree for your daily good deed, along your pre-established route that *should* take you to and fro safely. You’re just about to step out from behind the trees and cross in front of the Petpet Shop... when suddenly a horde of ACF-afflicted pets are swarming the Petpet Shop, hollering about the price of yooyus and inflation. This is a group you do not want to mess with! Underplanning could lead to your discovery, and capture (often with a “reeducation” penalty thrown in). However, careful planning could lead you to simply shift course slightly, detour around the NC Mall line, sneak through the bushes by the Post Office, drop your load at the Money Tree and then escape the back way by the Neolodge. Yes, risk of discovery is high – which leads me to my next point...
Tip 3: Dress & talk the part
If you do insist on venturing out into Neopia during the Cup, at least look like you care about the AC! Do your homework... or eavesdrop on your siblings/neighbors conversations. Borrow an old jersey or two, carry a random pennant or water bottle, and venture forth armed with a few phrases sure to distract fellow Neopians long enough for you to make an escape. Some examples are:
“My uncle/neighbor/annoying little sister says the Cup’s rigged! TNT plans it out every year.”
“Shootout Showdown never should have been added – it distracts from the real Cup challenge.”
“Faerieland should sit out this year instead of Brightvale. After all, their record is worse.”
Now, keep in mind – it is not necessary to know what these phrases mean! If you are cornered by Cup fanatics, with no escape in sight... or worse, asked a Cup-question you cannot intelligently answer... simply toss one of these phrases out there. Make sure to state the phrase loudly enough for multiple Neopians to “overhear” your views. They will quickly become embroiled in a “discussion,” enabling you to ideally sneak away unnoticed.
WARNING: This technique requires practice! Proper confident delivery is a must. It is also possible that the closest Neopian to you may disagree... errr, strongly... with your views (or the jersey you are wearing.) Stay on your guard at all times!!
Tip 4: Enlist your petpet to your cause
Nothing makes your survival easier than recruiting your petpet. These canny little creatures can serve in many capacities, from your lookout before you even leave your Neohome to an advance scout while you traverse your carefully planned travel routes. Make sure you speak with your petpet in advance about what you envision their role being during this trying time. Some petpets will jump at the chance to help; others may require persuading. Be firm, clear, and have a ready supply of their latest favorite snack on hand. Promises of upgrading to a Deluxe Red Treehouse or Regal Litter Tray could also work in your favor.
Tip 4.5: Only make promises you can keep! Promising a Deluxe Canopy Bed at the end of the Cup but only delivering with a Mouldy Bed will cause your petpet to desert you the next time the Cup rolls around.
Tip 5: Take up a new hobby... and make sure everyone knows about it!
One thing a true Cup fan understands is dedication. Think of how many hours they spend on the Cup, from waiting in line for tickets to rehashing the game for the thousandth time, looking for that moment when the game was won or lost. Many fans support the same team year after year, through all their successes... or heart-wrenching failures. Yes, Cup fans understand dedication. With that understood, simply find something else to dedicate yourself to and start, say... two weeks before the AC begins. This gives you enough time to “casually” spread the word to your siblings, neighbors, Neoschool buddies, and random strangers on the street. Make your selection carefully! It must be something that sounds challenging, requires your full and undivided attention, and you can stand to devote an entire month to.
BD training (if you’re in training, all the more valuable for the Cup!)
Collecting clickable avies (a couple days, you’re done... then back to the Cup)
Reordering your gallery (can we say BO-RING?)
Achieving a new pet trophy (gourmet foods is a good one – time consuming AND definitely gets you out of playing in the Cup)
Obtaining new game avie (especially a monthly high score one!)
Restocking a rare item (gives you an excuse to hang about in a shop and sleep at weird times of day)
Tip 6: Support your owner’s latest non-Cup craze
Has your owner been muttering something lately about wanting to enter someone in the BC? Perhaps she feels a desire to redesign a petpage to list gallery wishlist items? Maybe he has been wanting to get that honorary book reading award? Whatever the goal is, latch on and encourage it! Convince your owner that s/he has a WONDERFUL idea... and you are just the pet to help with it! This gives you a great excuse for not following the Cup. (“What was that? No, I haven’t seen anything... if I leave my owner alone for a minute, he’s trying to buy these silly reject usukis for the gallery... gotta keep on him every minute... no more time to talk, gotta go!”) What’s more, your owner is also more likely to devote so much attention to this project (and thus away from the Cup) that the other pets in your Neohome may feel the need to check into the Neolodge and watch the games from there.
WARNING: Some owners may become so obsessed with their new goals that the focus may continue well beyond the Cup season. If possible, steer your owner towards something reasonable that won’t drive you more insane than all this Cup nonsense.
Tip 7: Have a backup plan... or three
Above all, with the Cup remember that ACF can sweep across Neopia rapidly and afflict even the most rational of pets (and owners). Plan, plan, overplan, and then plan some more! A combination of the above tips will be most successful for surviving ACF. Un-athletic pets should not assume that simply telling their owner “yeah, going for Illusen’s trophy this month sounds like a great idea – I’ll help” will do the trick. As soon as Illusen asks for that unreleased item on level 12, your owner will need something new to do... and ACF is then a real concern! Assume your first plan may not work as well as you may have hoped, and also plant the seed of an idea that “just in case all this Illusen stuff doesn’t go as we hoped, I think I’ll start reading for my Honorary Booktastic Badge too.”
Best of luck to the un-athletic pets out there! Imp and I wish you the best of luck! Well... Imp would, if he was here. He mentioned something about wanting to hunt up a rare item for our gallery and vanished about a week ago... hmmm, I wonder where he could be??