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In Praise of Mediocrity

by fwoogleberry


The Wheel of Mediocrity is one of Tyrannia's least-visited cultural monument and least-appreciated games: the ever-popular Concert Hall, the famous Cave Paintings, and even the dreaded Lair of the Beast attract more tourists than this Tyrannian landmark. According to a yellow Acara at the Survey Shack, speaking under conditions of anonymity, only 5.3% of polled Neopians consider the Wheel of Mediocrity to be their favorite wheel. Even the editors of the Neopedia cannot restrain their ire, writing acidly that "the Wheel of Mediocrity has Neopets all over the land yawning and looking for something else to do."

But is this criticism of the Wheel just? I think not. The Wheel of Mediocrity has much to offer in the way of prizes, and relatively little in the way of punishments. The next time you find yourself with a Hundred-Neopoint coin in your pocket, consider the following top four reasons to spend it at the Wheel of Mediocrity, instead of at the Space Station's Neocola vending machine.

1) Reliable Payback: Four of the five cash prizes offered by the Wheel of Mediocrity are worth more than the cost of a single spin. Valued at 200, 500, 1000, 2000, and 4000 Neopoints, respectively, they can result in a payback of up to 40-fold. Although the maximum cash profit of 3900 NP is not an extraordinary sum, neither is it a rare outcome. Although the Neopian Conservation Society representative declined to discuss exact probabilities with the Neopian Times staff, it is well-known that the Wheel frequently gives out prizes at all of these values. The values of the items given out as prizes vary, ranging from petpets of a mere 20 NP to rare Tyrannian delicacies and articles of furniture valued at over 1000 NP. Again, these gains are not enormous, but nevertheless, the Wheel can dependably distribute items that can be sold at a profit. The final prize, an Earth Faerie's blessing, is the wheel's rarest, and is worth far more than the Hundred-Neopoint fee!

2) Low Price: The Wheel of Mediocrity is the cheapest wheel in Neopia. Did you realize that for every time you visit Qasala to spin the wheel of Extravagance, hoping to win that rare avatar, and come home with empty paws (or wings, or flippers), you've spent the cost of one thousand spins of the Wheel of Mediocrity! In sharp contrast to the gilded excess of the Wheel of Extravagance, or to the colorful ostentation of the Wheel of Excitement, the Wheel of Mediocrity is made of the simplest materials, and costs very little to maintain. Because there are so few clients, Plesio is the only employee on the Wheel's payroll, and he already receives free meals at the council hall due to his service as captain of the Tyrannian Sea Division in the incident with the Monoceraptor. This keeps expenses low, and permits Neopians of all classes to spin the wheel for a simple 100 NP. With so low a cost, why not give the wheel a spin?

3) Low Penalties: Who doesn't spin the Wheel of Excitement without the worry of provoking the Pant Devil, the Lava Ghoul, or a vengeful Dark Faerie? And who doesn't spin the Wheel of Misfortune without anticipating some his or her share of misfortune? In fact, it is the punishments -- rather than the prizes -- of the Wheel of Mediocrity that deserve to be called Mediocre. Pterodactyl bites are fairly common, and somewhat painful, but are easily healed. The same is true for blasts of fire from the sky (presumably emitted by the volcano). In both cases, though, a quick visit to the Healing Springs should bring your pet back to good health. Having an item fall into the tar pit is rather more costly a punishment, but as long as you remember to visit the Advent Calendar after the Wheel of Mediocrity in your course of dailies, and you aren't trying to earn the "I Taunt the Pant Devil" Avatar at the moment, you should have little or nothing to worry about. The final misfortune, the Aisha skull, is far rarer than it is dangerous: it will result in the loss in the level of one Faerie Ability, which is painful for those who have painstakingly cultivated their Neopets' magical talents. However, though I am a frequent client of the Wheel of Mediocrity, I have only once encountered this penalty, in which it targeted an ability whose level was already as low as possible.

4) High Frequency: The Wheel of Mediocrity can be spun once an hour, more frequently than any other magical wheel in Neopia, and the official time limit, according to Plesio, is "like, an hour." Why is this short delay between spins significant? Because of a statistical rule known as the Law of Large Numbers, the more frequently you spin the Wheel of Mediocrity, the more likely your actual results are to resemble a statistically-predicted outcome. In other words, because the average user can spin the wheel so many times, he or she can expect to receive a 4000-NP payout every month or so, quite reliably.

Moss Tullerby is a fairly reclusive figure, but in a recent visit to his Classic Neohome by the Neopian Times staff, Moss was willing to discuss his thoughts on the relative neglect of the Wheel of Mediocrity. "It's really a shame that the Wheel of Mediocrity has acquired such a poor reputation," he remarked sadly. "It's entirely undeserved. Perhaps if the founders had chosen a better name for it, such as the Wheel of the Jungle, or the Wheel of Tyrannian Culture, people would have more appreciation for it, and it would attract more tourists. As an integral part of the history and cultural heritage of Tyrannia, I think that the Wheel of Mediocrity should elicit rather more love and respect than it currently does. Don't you?"

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