Gormball is the oldest game in Neopia (ignoring those games consigned to the games graveyard) and as such a trophy in this venerable sport can be considered the granddaddy of all trophies. For those of you interested in these things, it's game ID no. 6. The basics of Gormball are fairly obvious, but there is more to this game than there would first appear if you want to be sitting pretty at the top of the high score table. Given the gloating value associated with having the oldest game trophy in Neopia in your collection, extreme scores are required, and that means an extreme strategy. This article will give that to you.
Before we get into the strategies required to maximize your score, an understanding of the way the game works is required.
The various aspects of Gormball
At the start of your game you select your character. There is no advantage to any particular character, so pick the character you like most. Alternatively, if like me you are somewhat lazy, select Thyassa as they are first on the drop down list, avoiding the need to scroll down and waste a valuable second of your life in doing so. Thyassa is also a rather nice shade of purple, definitely a bonus.
The Gormball competitors stand in a circle and pass the Gormball anticlockwise. If the Gormball explodes on you it's game over and it explodes after a random amount of seconds. Last pet/faerie standing wins, and if that’s you, then you will have been awarded an avatar, some neopoints and a modest prize! If you win, your score is also multiplied by 4 so the first point of an advanced Gormball player’s strategy is you have to win to stand a chance of getting on the high score table.
Each character has the option to hold the Gormball for 1 to 5 seconds. Your score increases by double the amount of time you hold it for. So hold it for 3 seconds, for example, and you get 6 points. The longer you hold it for, the more likely it is to burst on you. This is an important consideration in deriving our strategy.
Now some of you experienced Gormballers are probably in uproar at this inaccurate article at the moment, as the drop down box when it comes to your turn shows only 2-5 seconds and doesn’t offer a 1 second option. Your opponents will often hold it for only 1 second which would seem to give them a major advantage as the chances of it exploding on them are therefore reduced. Well, it’s only fair that you can actually hold it for just one second, simply refresh the page when it’s your turn and you will do a 1 second pass. The only time this doesn’t work is if you have the Gormball at the start of the very first round.
If the Gormball explodes on an opponent, you get 2 points. Not hugely significant but it needs to be noted.
Now the most critical component to getting a high score (apart from the winning the multiplier bonus) are Gormball bonuses. Sometimes when the Gormball is passed between competitors, you will receive bonus points from a special Gormball. The amount of points you receive depends on your current score and understanding this is critical to achieving a high score.
If you have 9 or less, you will receive 1-2 points. Between 10 to 15 points and you will receive a bonus of 1 to 25 points. If you are between 16 and 34 points you will lose bonus points. Yep, that’s LOSE points. Safe to say, when you are pursuing a high score, you do not want to be losing points and therefore we are going to do everything in our power to move from 15 points to 35 or more as quickly as possible. Once you have 35 points or more, all bonuses are positive and get added to your score.
All of the above is important and has led me to develop the following as an optimum high scoring strategy. Now before I do it, this is for an optimum high score, not for just beating the game. If you only want the avatar, then just do 1 second throws all the time so there is a minimum chance of it exploding on you. After that minor diversion down the road of mediocrity, below is my high scoring and possibly trophy worthy but definitely high risk Gormball strategy:
How to score big in Gormball
Step 1 – get to 10-15 points as quickly as possible
You start with no points and Gormball bonuses are only worth 1 or 2 until you have 10 or more. To get over 10, hold the Gormball for 5 seconds (scoring 10 points). Unfortunately this will often result in it bursting on you but we are going high risk in the hope of a big score. If it has already burst on someone by the time you get it or you picked up a couple of Gormball bonus points then you could reduce it to 4 seconds. Basically do the minimum amount of time to get into the 10-15 range.
Step 2 – hope for a big bonus and stay below 16 points!
OK, we have 10 or maybe a few more. We now cross our fingers and hope for a Gormball bonus that will carry us through to 35 or more, jumping neatly over the dreaded point losing 16-34 range. If you get a bonus but it doesn’t get you to 35, move to step 3. If the Gormball comes back to you before this happens, then look at your score. If you have 10-13, then do a 1 second throw, scoring 2 points and staying under 16 points. If you have to go into the 16-34 range, then do a 5 second throw, maximizing your points and move to step 3 below. This step requires the most brain power; you are trying to keep your score in a narrow range and hoping for a big bonus. You need some luck, but jumping to over 35 is not uncommon; just keep trying.
Step 3 – aaargh! I have 16 to 34 points
Don’t panic. If it’s not your turn, there’s not a lot you can do but hope. If a Gormball bonus drops your score back below 16, you will have to start again with step 1 or 2, depending on how low your score went. Now if you are fortunate, when it is your turn, you are close to the 35 point threshold for exiting this range. If so, work out how many points you need to get to 35, divide by 2 and hold it for that many seconds (round up if it's an odd number of points). If you can’t get to 35, then do a 5 second hold, scoring 10 points and hope. Keep repeating step 3 until you either clear 35 or drop below 16, or the Gormball explodes on you. I think it’s fair to say that unless you can get over 35 pretty quickly, you are not going to get the high scoring game we are hoping for, but you never know, so you may as well play it out.
Step 4 – I have over 35 points! It’s all downhill from here...
The strategy from this point forward is to do a 1 second throw every turn you get. Yes, you score a couple more points if you hold it for longer but it’s more likely to explode on you and also, just as importantly, there is a chance of a Gormball bonus every time the Gormball moves between competitors. The Gormball will last a random amount of seconds before exploding. The quicker the competitors pass it on, the more changeovers and bonus opportunities there will be before it explodes. The bonuses are worth many more points than anything else, so that’s what we are chasing. Of course, the number of bonuses you will actually get is unknown; we are simply maximizing the chance that we will get them. In the same way, holding it for 1 second minimizes the chance it will explode on you, but there is still a chance it will. If you are lucky, you will get lots of bonuses and win the game, multiplying your score by 4. If you are very lucky, it may be enough for a trophy. Check the high score table for what is required. You need to be in the top 17 when trophies are handed out, which is daily.
If you really, really want the trophy (and who wouldn’t?) then the best time to play is on the first of the month when the high score tables are reset and therefore the required score for a trophy is lower than at the end of a month. Don’t expect to play all day, though; your pet will eventually decide they are bored playing Gormball for the day (“Bored of Gormball? Impossible!” I hear you cry, but incomprehensible as it is, it's true), which signals the end of your exertions for that day. I hope you found this guide helpful, and best of luck. Maybe I’ll see you in the annual Gormball tournament! If I do, no using my strategy against me, ok? Have fun!