Where there's a Weewoo, there's a way Circulation: 174,678,884 Issue: 382 | 6th day of Running, Y11
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The Downside Of Zapping

by kelexyn


So now you've made the decision to zap your pet. You've adopted or created a lab rat, attached a cheap petpet for the petpet lab ray, and you're about to start spending close to a million neopoints on a whole map, map pieces, or stuff you can trade in on the map, like a baby paint brush.

I know what you're thinking; you can't wait to get in there and start zapping your pet and finding out all the amazing things you can get.

The honest truth is, you've gotten your hopes up. Whether it's from friends who have a "good" lab map, a guild, or just the general "Gotta have it!" aura of the Neopian population as a whole, you've gotten the idea that the Secret Lab Map opens the door to finding all the new species and colors you'll never be able to save up the neopoints to buy.

You won't.

The down side to the Secret Lab Map, that isn't heavily advertised, is that color changes are rarer than Lutari. Whether you crunch the numbers yourself or use one of the numerous lab logs that are available, color changes happen, on average, less than ten percent of the time. Species changes are even rarer, happening only four to five percent of the time.

That means, in an average year, you will get approximately thirty color changes, while your pet may change species only once or twice a year.

Will you get more than one or two species changes a year? Maybe. I've seen lab maps that zap a different species every three or four months, and that change color maybe every two or three.

But what happens to your pet in the meantime?

Stat changes. It is not worth training a lab pet with codestones or dubloons, because there is a very good chance that your pet will lose the stats you paid for. The most common stat losses are for level, speed, and defense points, losing up to three of each at a whack, with the potential of your pet being zapped back down to level one.

Your pet can also lose hit points, lose strength, or have absolutely nothing happen--with the "nothing happens" option occurring approximately eight to ten percent of the time, the same likelihood of getting a color change.

You can gain stats as well, with gains in speed, strength and hit points the most common of all lab outcomes. Gender changes come in fourth likely, at seven to eight percent.

Why is that bad?

It isn't good or bad, necessarily. Most people, after a certain point, realize that the lab map is random and doesn't treat everyone the same. Most of the percentages I've mentioned are averages, which means you have a chance that your lab zaps could be better, or worse, than what is presented here.

What it is, however, is misleading. Whenever the lab map is discussed, it's discussed positively, with the mention of the randomness but glossing over it in the furor of "YES I MUST HAVE THE LAB MAP NOW!" It's rare to see anyone present the lab map as a gamble, or to have someone offer up the idea that the lab map is not worth the current investment price (a whole map goes for upwards of 750,000 neopoints, while individual pieces go for 200,000 each for some of the rarer pieces) because you are not guaranteed anything, not even a species or color change.

What do you mean, not worth the investment?

On the Trading Post, a full lab map set goes for 780,000 neopoints. Some of the more common pieces have been dropped by Tarla via the toolbar, but it hasn't done much to drop the price.
Piece 1: ~140,000 NP Piece 2: ~150,000 NP Piece 3: ~52,000 NP
Piece 4: ~9,000 NP Piece 5: ~100,000 NP Piece 6: ~100,000 NP
Piece 7: ~39,000 NP Piece 8: ~250,000 NP Piece 9: ~20,000 NP

So buying them individually will still run you approximately 860,000 neopoints depending on what kind of deals you can find on the trading post or the marketplace. Either way, you're still spending close to a million neopoints to buy a lab map.

The first reason that I say it's not worth the investment is that you don't get any kind of tangible return from it. Yes, you can sell extra pieces as you find them to try and recoup your spending spree, but from buying and zapping, you do not receive anything that you can make a profit from.

Certainly there are benefits; you can trade pets--I myself have done that; in the course of zapping my pet, I've inadvertently come across someone's dream pet and I was glad to trade with them--and make other Neopians ecstatic. And, should you manage to find your own dream pet, I would imagine that would also make the map worth the cost to the particular player considering most brushes and morphing potions carry multi-million neopoint price tags.

Second, as was established before, there are no guarantees. The lab maps *can* provide certain zaps, and there are certain other colors that are lab-ray specific; that is, the lab ray is the only way you can get those colors. But there is no guarantee you *will* get those zaps, or any zap you want, in fact. There are infinite color/species combinations provided by the lab ray and there is no way of determining what zap you will get, or when you will get it.

So, you're saying I shouldn't buy it?

No, I'm not saying that. If that's an investment you want to make, or a chance that you feel like taking, by all means, take it.

Just know that when you buy that map, or decide to spend those neopoints you've carefully saved, there are risks involved and no guarantee of the outcome. There are a lot of considerations to take into account, and the whole idea of the lab map is generally packaged with such positive connotations that it's time for the other side of the map to be presented so that Neopians who are considering acquiring a map can do so with all the information and not end up angry and disillusioned.

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