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The Secrets of Scratchcards

by turquoisephoenix


Picture an otherwise normal scenario: You're going about your normal routine on Neopets and you decide to purchase a Lost Desert kiosk scratchcard. The Cybunny at the kiosk hands you a Scorched Treasure in exchange for 500 Neopoints. You decide to scratch it, figuring that it's worth the risk for such a low price.

But then, disaster strikes! You get two of a kind of one prize, two of a kind of another prize, and two of a kind of yet another prize, depriving you of a sweet, sweet reward. Now you're 500 Neopoints poorer and you don't have anything but the used up scratchcard in your hands. The Cybunny at the kiosk apologizes for your loss, but you figure that hey, since you have a couple more Neopoints at hand, you might as well scratch again.

That's when the Cybunny tells you that you can't purchase a scratchcard in another four hours. What's a poor scratchcard addict to do? You certainly can't wait THAT long to purchase another scratchcard, and while all the user shops offer the most common scratchcards at the cheapest of prices, it's simply not the same compared to Lucky Dip, which gives you the small chance of getting an Icetravaganza, a Sandtravaganza, or a Rotting Riches (aka the three rarest scratchcards of the three kiosks) for the same price you'd normally pay for the more common ones.

So you have no choice but to take a long walk to the Deserted Fairgrounds, where Sssidney the lisping Nimmo is willing to sell you a scratchcard with half the wait time but more than twice the price.

As you hand over your hard-earned Neopoints to the badly dressed scratchcard vendor, you think to yourself why the kiosks have different prices and waiting times. It shouldn't be that difficult to price them ALL at 500 Neopoints and make all the wait times 2 hours, right? It's almost as if Sssidney has the shortest wait time and the largest price on purpose. Now, that could be because he's like all the other carnies at the Deserted Fairground and he rigs his game, but what about the Cybunny and the Wocky? If Sssidney has expensive cards but a short wait time, it wouldn't hurt for them to adjust their games accordingly and have much shorter waits so that no one has to spend 1,200 Neopoints on a single scratchcard.

And then, it hits you like a Stone Snowball (but without the concussion and the Earth/Physical damage). These vendors are working together, purposely driving the prices of scratchcards up in their own ingenious little way to make sure that the scratchcard addicts of Neopia continue to supply them with the Neopoints they need to survive a user-based economy. (Have you seen the price of paint brushes nowadays? Sheesh!) Sure, the Wocky and the Cybunny are much too cute to be working with a sleazy slimeball like Sssidney, but that's the beauty behind their operation. If they looked like they were working together, more people would discover their plans and would probably cause them to go out of business.

Could these scratchcard vendors really be in league with each other? Did they really work together to think of the perfect scheme to make the maximum profit? That's where this guide comes in. This guide will reveal you some secrets behind the scratchcard industry and, at the same time, help to prevent Neopians from becoming too addicted to the game.

1. The time limits

If you purchase and scratch scratchcards (and chances are, you do), you're probably familiar with what happens when you try to purchase more than one in a given time limit.

"Hey, give everybody else a chance to buy a scratchcard!! You can buy one every 2 hours!"

"You may purchase a Lost Desert Scratchcard if you have not purchased any type of scratchcard (Deserted Fairground, Ice Cave, etc.) within the last 4 hours."

"Hey, give everybody else a chance to buy a scratchcard!! You can buy one of any type (Deserted Fairground Scratchcards or Ice Cave, etc). every 6 hours!"

If you look at the time limits of all three kiosks after you're done scratching a card, you'll realize that all three of them have different waiting times for your next purchase. The coveted Ice Caves kiosk, the one that has both the cheap scratchcards and the cool prizes, has a wait time of six hours. The Lost Desert kiosk, 100 Neopoints cheaper but with smaller prizes, has a wait time of four hours. And finally, the Deserted Fairgrounds kiosk, with a 2 hour wait period, has the most expensive scratchcards but also has cool prizes... if you're lucky enough to win.

Let's do the math, shall we?

If you were to purchase one scratchcard every six hours (And miss good sleep in the process) at the Ice Caves, you would spend 2,400 Neopoints for the entire day.

One scratchcard every four hours equals 3,000 Neopoints for the Lost Desert scratchcard kiosk.

And finally, for Sssidney, one scratchcard from his kiosk every two hours (Wow, someone REALLY wants scratchcards!) equals...14,400 Neopoints. Just for one day. One week of buying 12 scratchcards a day from his kiosk equals 100,800 Neopoints! Just think of what you can do with that kind of money. (And no, don't say "buy a lot of scratchcards" for that sort of question.)

Luckily, each kiosk has a scratch limit of five scratchcards a kiosk, or else poor addicted Neopians will be staying up to midnight, scratching off their 12th scratchcard at Sssidney's. The scratch limit was probably put in place because, even if they are making money out of the deal, the idea of a Neopet blowing all of his Neopoints in one day over scratchcards is a bit distressing. Also, the scratchcard vendors have to take breaks once in a while, and they can't be expected to stand there and wait for you to scratch off your 40th card of the day.

2. The breaks

The Cybunny takes a break for lunch, the Wocky takes an hour break three times daily, and Sssidney never takes a break at all.

To the average Neopian, this isn't anything special. I mean, who wants to stand at a scratchcard booth 24 hours a day, 7 days a week? Apparently Sssidney can, but that's not the point. In reality, their breaks are to make sure as much money is spent on scratchcards as possible. Everyone heads over to the original scratchcard kiosk in Terror Mountain first, which is why the Wocky takes more breaks than the other two kiosks. For three hours, the addicted scratchcarders of Neopia have to make due with cheap scratchcards with cheap prizes, or expensive scratchcards with the small chance of winning something worthwhile. And, when the Cybunny breaks for lunch (ironically around the exact same time the Wocky is also out to lunch), scratchcard goers have no choice but to buy scratchcards at 1,200 Neopoints in the Deserted Fairgrounds.

Now think of it this way. These three scratchcard vendors have set up the perfect schedule to increase profits for their game. They close the cheaper kiosks on purpose to make sure that everyone has to buy the Deserted Fairground scratchcards at inflated prices. Once the profits start pouring in, the three vendors split the profits evenly amongst each other and use some of the money for jackpot winnings, some for buying those pretty prizes you win in the scratchcards, and the rest of the money goes towards buying the latest and greatest Usuki doll or plushie. (I've heard the Wocky has a great Usuki collection)

Speaking of plushies, it's time to hit our third and final topic of the scratchcard business...

3. The prizes

Why bother scratching cards in the first place? To win the prizes of course! The idea of paying 500 Neopoints and winning the jackpot of several thousand Neopoints is enough to make any Neopian willing to take the risk. Judging by the amount of people who scratch compared to the amount of people who actually win a jackpot at any kiosk, the chances of winning the grand prize are pretty slim. In fact, chances are you may never win a jackpot ever. (But you'll never win if you never try!)

However, that doesn't mean you don't get good rewards. The kiosks are also renowned for the smaller Neopoint rewards, Level ups, magic snowballs, and plushies galore.

Now picture this. You're done scratching a scratchcard at the Ice Caves kiosk, and you actually match three icons in a row! Your prize is a Green Quiggle Plushie, a soft and squishy playmate that just beams pure happiness from every stitch. Excited, you check out the rarity of the plushie and the fact that you can only win it from the scratchcard game. Does that mean it's rare? Not at all. If you look your newly won prize up in the Shop Wizard, you'll find that you can buy your toy for around 75 Neopoints, a much smaller price than the price you paid for your scratchcard.

If you notice, the harder it is to win the prize, the more it's worth. The only reason the jackpot is so high is because it's so hard to win. And, while snowballs and Quiggle plushies aren't worth much in user shops, several of the prizes won in the Deserted Fairground kiosk are so rare that you can't even buy them in user shops! That's where, once again, the idea of a partnership among the three scratchcard vendors comes into play. Sssidney, the owner of the most expensive scratchcards, owns the most expensive prizes. The cheaper scratchcards have the cheaper prizes, further enticing the players to pay more Neopoints for a chance to win better prizes.

That isn't to say that the cheaper prizes won aren't worth winning either. Sometimes, a Quiggle Plushie can be its own reward...

4. How to protect yourself from a bad habit

All this plotting amongst each other to further drive up the prices of playing the scratchcard game seems a bit unfair, but you have to remember that these scratchcard vendors are just doing their job. Their only source of Neopoints is from the purchases you make at their kiosk. Your scratchcard addiction is what keeps them from eating nothing but Soup Kitchen food for the rest of their lives, and plus you have to take into account that Sssidney is a Battledome challenger and probably has to buy Healing Potions and weapons every so often.

But even so, a large scratchcard addiction (aka one that costs more than 2,000 Neopoints a day) may leave your bank account with a serious dent. So unless you take the following precautions, you may end up living in a cardboard box feeding your pets nothing but soup.

1. Limit your scratching.

I know it may seem tough, but maybe it's possible to go through the day only scratching one or two cards. Choose the kiosk that's right for you, but make sure to limit your Deserted Fairground scratchcards even more than the other two kiosks, on account that they're much more expensive.

2. Sell your rarer scratchcards.

If you get a Rotting Riches scratchcard from Sssidney's Scratchcard kiosk (good luck), resist the urge to scratch it and instead sell it. You'll end up making a lot of Neopoints. Or, if you're feeling lucky and want to risk losing a profit just to see if you have a shot at winning the jackpot, sell every other rare scratchcard you get. Make a pattern. Sell one Icetravaganza, scratch one Sandtravaganza. Sell one Rotting Riches, scratch one Faerie Fortune. Sell one Bagguss Bonanza, scratch one... okay, you get the idea. That way you get your scratching fix AND you make a nice profit at the same time.

3. If you HAVE to scratch, purchase from user shops.

If you notice, the more common scratchcards often sell for cheaper than what the vendors are offering. If you have to scratch, save yourself both the wait time AND the money by just buying from a fellow user's shop. Sometimes even a Scorched Treasure or a Race to Riches Scratchcard can have its rewards.

4. Finally, be courteous to the scratchcard vendors.

Don't let your newfound knowledge of the game cause you to be rude to the Wocky, Nimmo, and Cybunny that run these fine establishments. Not only will it limit your chances of winning (seeing as they do control the Lucky Dip), but one of the scratchcard vendors also happens to be a Battledome challenger. And well, it's just not smart to anger someone who regularly fights in the Battledome.

And this concludes my guide on the scratchcard game and the secrets contained within. Hopefully, my guide has merely educated you in the complex system of the scratchcard game and the strategies that go behind the pricing and the timing of each kiosk, rather than sway you to believe that the scratchcard game is so rigged and expensive that it's simply not worth playing.

Happy scratching, and remember this one small bit of advice: "She sells scratchcards by the seashore" is hard to say five times fast, but it's even harder to say if you're Sssidney.

Disclaimer: The author of this guide is not in any way affiliated with any of the scratchcard kiosks, the Ice Caves, the Deserted Fairground, or Sakhmet City. The article written above was not written for any profit, and the only thing the author has gained from doing this experiment is a couple of used scratchcards and a handful of Sticky Snowballs. Restrictions may apply, results may vary. Article may not show up if you're reading this from Jelly World, as Jelly World does not exist.

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