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Nerkmid Type and the Alien Vending Machine


by lithoxide

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The Alien Vending Machine is an oddity. You see, its currency is star-shaped tokens known as “Nerkmids,” which can be rather expensive. The cheapest Nerkmid comes in at around 60,000 Neopoints per Nerk. If you can get your hands on one, however, you earn the chance to win a fabulous price. All you do is plop one into the machine, push a few buttons, pull a few levers, and voila! Out comes a, um, “yummy” edible delicacy.


Uh…thank you?

Why do people even use this machine? Sure, there are legitimate fans of dishes like Chocolate Beef Custard and Shrimp Cupcakes. But the real reason to take this gamble is that the Vending Machine occasionally drops some exceedingly rare items, such as paintbrushes and, redundantly, more Nerkmids.

It is tempting to throw one of those shiny Nerks into the machine and hope to get a Maraquan Paint Brush in return. But is it worth it? Most of the time, the Alien Vending Machine will award you with other, less desirable prices. At most, you will break even if it rewards you with another Nerkmid. But you also run the risk of a loss, as the machine often returns gross food items and Fading Bottled Faeries.


Which, unsurprisingly, are

also not very edible.

This is made more even more complicated by the number of Nerkmids that exist in Neopian economy. There are twenty different Nerkmids that can be used. Rumors circulate about these Nerks. Some Neopians swear by the results of a particular type. Other Neopians believe that the Nerk makes no difference, and that each one awards prizes at basically the same rate. In this realm of conflicting information, I was curious to see the true statistical basis of these opinions. Thus, I ran my own data collection on the Nerkmid prizes.

Here is how I did it. I first purchased 30 Nerkmids for each of the 20 different types. This resulted in a total of 600 Nerkmid trials which I collected data on. I kept a log of the prizes for each Nerkmid, which included the NP award amount and JellyNeo’s estimated cost for the item prize. After using all 600 Nerkmids, I then computed the statistics to see what your chances are of earning a particular prize. In addition, I also ran statistical tests to see if any significant differences existed between the Nerkmid types.

Let me also note that I standardized my trials by running the same conditions each time. You are given the choice of pressing 1 of 3 large buttons, 1 of 6 small buttons, pushing the small button between 1 and 5 times, and pulling between 0 and 6 levers. Given the variety of options you have, there are 630 different combinations that you could try out. Now, my choice to do 30 trials per Nerkmid type was not an arbitrary choice, but rather a rule of statistical testing. If I wanted to run a true analysis of all Nerkmid types and Vending Machine combinations, I would need to have 30 Nerks for each of the 20 Nerk types for each of the 630 Machine combinations. That comes out to 378,000 Nerkmids, which would cost (at minimum) 22.68 billion Neopoints. That is only slightly out of my price range, so I stuck to the same combination each time. I pressed 1 large button and the left green small button once, and pulled 0 levers.


I’m not made of money, you know.

The Results

I will first start by sharing the overall probability of receiving each prize. You will receive a gross food item 68% of the time, with item values that range from 1 NP up to around 10,000 NPs. You have a 16% chance of receiving a Nerkmid as a prize, which can be considered a reimbursement of sorts! Next is a 10% chance of receiving a Fading Bottled Faerie and a 7% chance of receiving a Paint Brush item. Be aware, however, that the Vending Machine is not very smart. The Paint Brush prize will be any item with the words “Paint Brush” in its name. It can potentially award some pricy brushes, including the Maraquan Paint Brush and the Stealthy Paint Brush. However, there is also the chance that you will be rewarded a Paint Brush TCG card instead of an actual brush.


Does it look like I can paint my pets with this?

Now let’s discuss whether the Nerkmid types predict higher odds of these prizes. The short answer is that they do not. My statistics tests showed on average that small prize differences do exist between the types of Nerkmids, but none that justify using an Aluminum Nerkmid over, say, a Copper Nerkmid. However, some Nerkmids DO seem to have higher odds of granting certain prizes. I will discuss the best and worst Nerkmids to use to seek each type of prize.

Of course, I must first start with a disclaimer. The Alien Vending Machine is by nature a pricey gamble. Your experiences may vary regardless of the Nerkmid you use. You may use a handful and receive Paint Brushes three times in a row. Or you may use dozens and receive nothing but stinky food. Thus, take my statistics with a grain of salt. You have been warned that your results may vary.

Paint Brushes

I am starting with the prize you are probably wondering about the most. Paint Brushes are a possibility for almost all the Nerkmid types. However, I failed to receive a Paint Brush from the Good Nerkmids, Super Nerkmids, and the Golden Nerkmid XX. The Nerkmid that rewarded me the most Paint Brushes was the Aluminum Nerkmid, in which 5 of my 30 (~17%) resulted in Paint Brushes. All the other Nerkmids gave Paint Brushes at rates between 1 and 3 per every 30.


Nerkmids

The Alien Vending Machine has a chance of “refunding” you with a Nerkmid as a prize. The most common Nerkmids that break even are the Good Nerkmid (8/30), the Lesser Nerkmid (7/30), and the Super Nerkmid (7/30). The Nerkmid refund happens the least often with the Magical Golden Nerkmid (1/30). The other Nerkmids give Nerkmid prizes at rates between 3 and 6 for every 30.


Bottled Faeries and Gross Food

These outcomes are the least favorable. You at least want to break even in terms of your Nerkmid spree, but Faeries and gross food leave you counting your losses. The Nerkmids that granted Bottled Faeries the most were the Normal Platinum Nerkmids and the Platinum Nerkmids XX, which each resulted in Faeries 6/30 times. Alternatively, the Basic Platinum Nerkmids and the Super Nerkmids awarded no Faeries. However, the Basic Platinum Nerkmid and the Golden Nerkmid XX awarded the most gross food items, making them both unfavorable Nerkmids overall. Good Nerkmids and Aluminum Nerkmids awarded the fewest gross food items (17/30).

Overall Cost-to-Benefit Ratio

Finally, let’s wrap things up with a simple, by-the-numbers analysis of whether the end value of all the received items outweighs the cost of all those Nerkmids. When all was said and done, the added value of both the NP prizes and the value of my items for all 600 Nerkmid trials came out to 25,206,503NP. Assuming I paid 60,000NP for each Nerkmid (which I did not – I actually paid more for a good chunk of them), the Nerkmid cost comes out to 36,000,000NP, resulting in a loss of 10,693,497NP. The best prize I received was a Maraquan Paint Brush, and the worst were a variety of 1 NP gross food items.

So is the Alien Vending Machine worth it? Not in the slightest. But if you absolutely had to play, then my recommendation is that you use the Aluminum Nerkmid, as it awarded me Paint Brushes the most often out of any Nerkmid type.


This one, in case you are confused.

(And as an added side note, I would recommend using the Platinum Nerkmid X if you are aiming for a trophy, as that Nerkmid has the highest chance of awarding an NP prize over 10,000 NP.)

Just keep in mind that there are 146 items with the phrase “paint brush” in its name, meaning that your 7% chance of getting a paint brush will include the option of getting a TCG card or Paint Brush Cookie. Thus, you actually have a .05% chance of winning a specific Paint Brush. In my expert opinion, you may be best selling that Nerkmid of yours and saving the profits towards getting the Paint Brush of your dreams.

 
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