A Scaredy Acara's Guide to World Challenges
Every day in Neopia, curious Neopians stumble upon a page entitled "World Challenges." Those of them who find their way there inevitably try these challenges. Half find it totally incomprehensible and leave, never to return. The other half persevere... mostly to find that they lose by so much there's no point in trying anymore. Right? WRONG! Or at the very least, wrong not to keep trying. The aim of this guide is to show EVERYBODY that they can take part in World Challenges and come away with a piece or two of the maps, getting that much closer to their desired Draik Morphing Potion, Shenkuu Inspired Parasol, Plushie Paint Brush, or *insert dream here*.
So. What is it that scares hundreds of players away from the WC? The first thing, of course, is high score table. The scores that have been submitted before you aren't that scary... Actually, scratch that, they are! But we can work with it, trust me. The second thing is how complex the scoring system is, which we'll come to a little later in the guide.
Scary super strong competition and how to work your way around it
We've all seen those awesome players who have dozens gold trophies on their lookups. Most of us know at least one person who’s obtained nearly all the game avatars. Do you sit and despair of ever being one of those players? Don’t. I’m not, by any stretch of the imagination. But I've converted enough maps into lovely, lovely paint brushes to be a huge fan of WC. Read on to find out how!
1. Find your strengths
First of all, go look at your high scores. Pick the ones where your level is at least master, preferably grand master, and which are not sponsor games. Disregard any games with the fixed maximum scores, like Faerie Caves: Fyora's Quest. These don't appear in WC. Next, figure out which of those games you like enough not to get sick of playing repeatedly. After all, playing should be fun first and foremost!
Now go to the World Challenges main page and click all the worlds, one by one, paying attention to which games are running that day. See any of your "grand master" games? This is your destination then. Nothing? Not to worry – just remember to come back tomorrow and the day after that, because the games in the World Challenges rotate.
Let’s use my own example. I'm fairly decent at several games which are located in the Haunted Woods: Carnival of Terror, MAGAX: Destroyer II, Ghost Bopper, Chemistry for Beginners, and Mutant Graveyard of Doom. Of these, Mutant Graveyard is never in the WC (which makes sense; it takes a lot longer than the 57 minute WC time limit to complete this game!). Chemistry I'm alright at, but not enough to win in the WC. That leaves three games to work with: Carnival of Terror, MAGAX, and Ghost Bopper.
I play Ghost Bopper or MAGAX very rarely for the WC even though I have a trophy in both. Why? Those games are slow! You can only play one game of MAGAX in the hour time limit and your score, assuming you are good enough to play all ten levels, depends largely on luck – namely, how many bonus JubJubs you get. More likely than not, you'll spend an hour playing only to lose. You could have earned lots of NP in that hour, couldn’t you? Carnival of Terror is much faster to play, and so leaves more room to maneuver. More than once, I entered that challenge 10 minutes from the end and it was enough to submit three scores. It's also in WC almost every day, so if you’re good at it, Carnival of Terror is a good choice to try.
Now, the winning scores you see in this game for World Challenges are often in the 800’s. My ultimate high score is also up there *grin*... BUT I only got over 800 once, and I've played this game every day for nearly a year. The majority of my scores are closer to the 620-650 range. Which is, let’s face it, pretty mediocre. But I get a map piece from playing Carnival of Terror in the WC almost every day. How? Time to move on to the next point.
The powers that be have given you brains, as well as fast hands for game play, so use them! At the beginning of the hour, enter your chosen world's challenge. Don’t do anything else yet, just enter. Those scary super strong players that ace their games have entered too and are already playing. They have nothing to be scared of, so they simply rely on their ability. At about 20 minutes past the hour, if you refresh the page, you'll probably see their scores submitted and, yes, the 800’s have won over some daring newer player who turned out to be not quite so strong at their chosen game.
You can now go and play your games and cross your fingers for luck. Why? Let me tell you a story. When I was a very new player who was just finding her way around Neopia, I found the World Challenge. In WC, I discovered Kass Basher in Meridell. I loved Kass Basher (I love it still!) but I wasn't any good at it. Where I lacked in skill, though, I made up for it in curiosity and enthusiasm, so I entered the challenge and, not understanding how it worked, sent something like twenty scores of 200-250. I bet many a player got their map piece winning over me that day. :)
The point I’m making is that there are always new players trying their luck in WC, or trying to figure out how it works. They usually send really low scores. If that score gets matched against yours, you win.
As I said above, you can play, send your scores, and rely on luck. Alternately, you can wait and *see* if somebody submits a low score, and then play yourself. It's very likely they will submit more than one low score.
Even better than this is to play the game until you get a more or less decent score, but don't submit it straight away! Open your World Challenge in another tab and see what's going on there score-wise. If there's a "low scorer", hit submit. And yes, keep hoping for good luck, because your score just might get matched against a higher one. We'll get to score matching later. For now, remember that this strategy works surprisingly well. With me, it even works in an ironic way: when I submit a really good score, I usually lose, but will often win with a more middle of the range one.
This strategy doesn't work with slower games where the scores start to appear at the end of the hour and where people submit a maximum of one or two scores. There IS a strategy for those, but I'll have to explain how scoring in the WC works first. If you know it, just skip the next part. If, on the other hand, you've been scared away from World Challenges by the complexity of the rules (which, at a closer look, aren’t all that scary), read on!
So how exactly does it work?
There are twelve worlds in the World Challenge; you can see for yourself which ones they are. Each world has two to five games represented on any given day. These games change, although there are some games that are in the challenges nearly every day.
1. The basics
The challenge starts every hour at xx:03 and lasts for 57 minutes, until the next hour.
The challenge is active when five or more players have entered it. If there are fewer than five, the scores submitted by the players will be carried over to the next hour, or the one after that, until there's a quorum (that is, five or more players). I once submitted my score in the morning and got the notification of my win in the evening – this is how long it took for the five to assemble.
With me so far? Good. :) On to the next point.
The score you send gets matched against a random opponent, the player who submits their score closest to you, time-wise. It works like this: you play a game and submit your score. Imagine there is nobody else in the challenge yet. Your score exists but only somewhere in cyber space. It’s waiting for an opponent’s score to be matched against it before it will show up; that’s why you can sometimes see scores that are "not processed" yet. Eventually, somebody else enters the challenge and sends their score. It gets matched against yours, and one of you wins. This is repeated for as many games as you play. You don’t know who’s going to send a score to be matched against yours. Educated guessing, however, can help you win, and that’s what this section of the guide is about.
The top three places are those eligible to win. You can get into these top three ONLY if your tally is 0 or positive. What does this mean exactly? Well, your tally is your overall game score. Say you played five games, won three and lost two. 3 - 2 = 1, making your tally 1. As you can see, one is a positive score, so you might win a map piece -- if you fit other criteria. Let’s try another example: you play 5 games, win one and lose four. 1 – 4 = -3. Your tally is -3, which is negative, so you aren't eligible to win this hour, even if your score was sky-high. Sometimes your tally can be 0, meaning you won and lost the same number of games. The good news is you’re still eligible to win a piece of map with a 0 score. Mark this point, it's crucial in our slow games strategy!
To sum up: your tally is your ticket to a win. Keep it at zero or above.
Now, assuming your tally is 0 or above, how do we know who wins?
There are three positions:
- the one with the highest score of the hour (from those whose tally is 0 or positive!). For example: if the scores submitted were, say, 314, 867, 478, 650, and 713, assuming all the players had a positive tally, 867 will win.
- the one with the highest tally, that is, the highest proportion of wins to losses.
- the one with the highest total of scores of the hour. That is, if your tally is 0 or above, all your scores get summed up, and the one with the highest sum wins.
Sometimes all three positions will be taken by one player who won all the games, scored the highest, and correspondingly, has the highest total of scores. More often, however, it's three people. If you’re any one of these winners, you’ll find a map piece in your Inventory. But remember that you can win no more than three WC map pieces per day.
Before we move on, let's remember that this isn’t a guide for AAA’s challenges. It's for players like me: mediocre at gaming, but definitely enterprising ;) Still with me? Here comes my next point then.
3. Strategise! V2.0 – using slow games to your advantage
Take another look above. Three winning positions, remember? Being the average players that we are, we aren't very likely to win with the highest score of the hour. Nor are we overly likely to get the most wins, for the highest tally. What we CAN do though is win by the highest total of scores for the hour! And here is where the strategy for slow games comes in.
Pick a game you are decent at where players can only send one or two scores per hour: Ghost Bopper, for instance, or Faerie Bubbles. These games take either a lot of time or a lot of retries. This is your chance! You can't wait until half an hour has passed for starting these games. Enter at the beginning of the hour and get playing straight away. Finish your game with a decent score – not necessarily OMG AWESOME but what you feel is decent enough. Submit it. Yep, you'll either win or lose. It would be wonderful if you sent two scores and both won. That would secure your map piece for sure. What you need to remember is that it might be wonderful, but it’s not necessary. All you need is to get a zero tally. One win, one loss, that’s it. The majority of players will only submit one score per hour. You submit two, giving you a zero tally and a win by the highest total of scores. Voila, map piece!
Last but not the least: Deciding your goals
It’s important to remember that no one strategy is fail-proof. Both of the ones I discuss above worked very well for me. That’s just me, though, and I'm the kind of player who couldn’t scare a Babaa.
If I managed to talk you into trying WC or giving it another chance, it's time to think about why you are going to compete in World Challenges. Remember, playing games should be fun, first and foremost!
My way is like this: I don't specifically play in WC. I play my usual easy 3K games each day, only when possible, I do it THROUGH the WC. Think about it. I’d play Carnival of Terror three times a day anyway. If it’s in the WC, using my strategies above, I can get my 3K AND probably a nice bonus like a WC map piece. Easy, no stress – just the way games should be. :) If I feel like playing Faerie Bubbles - which doesn't happen every day - I might as well play that through WC too.
You might be a different kind of player. You might like a challenge and decide to play the WC for the challenge it offers. Or you might want to earn your income with those map pieces. Think about what you’re going to do with them: Convert into a map and get a rare item? Maybe you’d prefer to sell them? There are eternal debates among those of us who play in WC: to convert or to sell. You might get an expensive and rare paint brush from converting your map. Then again, you might only get a common one. You might even get a single codestone for all your troubles. On the other hand, you have the option to sell the pieces in your shop. This can earn you a lot of neopoints, but overall they’re hard to sell. I prefer converting them. I think the randomness of the prize is fun, but then, I'm a laid-back WC player. If you decide to play it for profit, it's probably in your best interests to sell the pieces. The choice is yours.
That’s it, guys. Keep my tips in mind, have fun, and do give the WC a try sometime. You know what they say – the more the merrier!
PS: heartfelt thanks to mimiheart9 and lilianvaldemyer for beta-reading.