The First Forty: A Statistical Analysis of Training Schools
For a new player, or someone starting with a young, untrained pet, it can be difficult to know where the best strategy lies for raising their Neopet's statistics. The Training Schools give the highest locus of control for an owner looking to raise his or her Neopet, while balancing favorable costs for owners new to battling. Cap'n Threelegs Academy on Krawk Island and the Mystery Island Training School are open to all. There is the Ninja Training School, though unavailable to Neopets under level 250. While both the Academy and the Mystery Island School are open for use at level one, there are key differences between the two.
Introducing the Two Schools
Cap'n Threelegs, being based on Krawk Island, will only accept Dubloons as payment. The costs are fixed based on the student Neopets' level: one Dubloon under level 10, two Dubloons up to level 20, and five Dubloons per course up to level 40. Level 40 is the highest level at which the Academy will accept a student for training. As levels increase, much like the cost, so does the amount of time a course will take, starting at 4 hours, and in the 31-40 bracket, a single course taking 10 hours to complete.
The Mystery Island School, meanwhile, requires Codestones. Like the Academy, the cost is fixed based on level, however the actual cost to owners may vary, as the required Codestones for courses are chosen at random when a course is signed up for. Courses up to level 20 require just a single Codestone, and take two hours; courses up to level 40 take three hours at the cost of two Codestones. While the Training School will accept Neopets for training up to level 250, for the purpose of this examination, we are only looking at the first 40 levels. A quirk in the Training School not evident at the Academy is that Endurance can be trained to three times a Neopets' level, all other statistics are limited at twice a Neopets' level. However, if any statistic is more than twice that of level, no other training will be allowed (sans the mentioned exception) until that qualifier is reached.
Methodology and Baselines
The purpose of this examination is to look at the most efficient method to work a Neopet through the first 40 levels of training. For a starting point, a random sample of 100 level one Neopets from the pound gave statistical averages, rounded to the nearest whole number. The averages of the sample gave a mean Endurance of 9, a mean Strength of 9, a mean Defence of 8, and a mean Movement of 10. This will be our theoretical Neopet whom the study will be training. We'll call him Chuck. Since, with rare exceptions, Movement is not a particularly valuable statistic in the Battledome, we will not be considering Movement as a trained statistic.
With respect to the twice level limitations, at level 40, Chuck will have 80 in Endurance, Strength, and Defence. The rules of the Academy will allow one final level session, putting Chuck at level 41, ending his time at the Academy. This means Chuck will partake in 253 training sessions, assuming no other outside statistical increases, such as those from Faerie Quests, or Coltzan's Shrine. The Training Schools Endurance loophole adds a wrinkle, allowing an extra 40 sessions under level 40, leading to a maximum of 293 sessions.
For the consideration of cost, the Super Shop Wizard's "price only" parameter was run in 28 different searches over a period of one week, to give an average price of each item.
The Academy: First Forty
The Academy has the most simplistic and predictable pricing. As recently as a year ago, it was not uncommon for a single Dubloon to cost 3,000 NP or more on the resale market during non-wartime conditions. However, Governor Gavril McGill, who has been known to pay Dubloons to volunteers in helping keep the Krawken away from the anchors tying the islands together, has led a massive devaluation of the Dubloon against the Neopoint. During testing, the one-week average showed a stabilizing price of 1,320 NP for a One Dubloon Coin, and, paradoxically, 1,334 NP for a Two Dubloon Coin. Five Dubloon Coins held a one-week average of 3,800 NP.
Using the pricing tiers to their most cost-effective end, Chuck will undergo 43 total training sessions costing One Dubloon, 70 at Two Dubloons, and 140 sessions at Five Dubloons. The Five Dubloon sessions have a subset of 70 taking eight hours, and 70 taking 10 hours. Thus, based on the current market averages of the various Dubloon coins, the total cost of training Chuck in the Academy, assuming no other stat gains under any other circumstance, would cost 682,140 NP, and would take 1,852 hours of training time. This gives a mean training session cost of 2,696.2 NP.
Training School: First Forty
The Training School is a faster method than the Academy, and, at face value, would seem to have a similar pricing structure. However, as previously mentioned, the cost to owners may vary, as there is no way of predicting which of the ten original Codestones the Training School will ask for. Similar to the devaluation of the Dubloon, Key Quest has introduced an influx of Codestones into the Neopian economy, however this has been unequal in distribution, which has led to a large disparity between the highest and lowest cost Codestones. At the time of sample taking, the least expensive Codestone was Mau, averaging 2,466 NP. The most expensive, Lu, fetched 8,745 NP on the resale market. Six of the ten Codestones were selling under 3,000 NP: Mau, Main, Bri, Har, Tai-Kai, and Orn. Zei, Eo, Vo, and Lu, however, all cost over 4,000 NP, with Vo and Lu both over 7,500 NP. The mean cost of a Codestone came in at 4,218 NP, with a median cost of 2,867 NP.
If directly comparing the two schools, all things equal, Chuck would take 113 sessions at a single Codestone, and 140 at two Codestones. However, the Endurance loophole changes things. In the Training School, we'll be training Chuck's brother, Finley. Finley can increase Endurance to 60 while staying at level 20, allowing for 20 extra sessions at one Codestone, saving over 80,000 NP based on the mean cost of a Codestone. Finley could also take another 20 extra sessions in the two Codestone bracket, staying at level 40 with an Endurance of 120, again, saving one Codestone per session, and giving an extra 40 points of Endurance that the Academy cannot.
Thus, following cost and time-effectiveness protocols, it is most economical to take advantage of the Endurance loophole. For the sake of a fair comparison, we will stop Finley at 80 Endurance, however, now Finley will take 133 sessions at one Codestone, and 120 at two, a total of 373 Codestones. Based on the mean Codestone price, it would cost 1,573,314 NP to get Finley to level 40, with 80 in Endurance, Strength, and Defence, and it would take 626 hours. This gives a mean cost per session of 6,218.6 NP.
Based on 253 sessions, the Academy, owing to the consistency in the cost of sessions, is a much cheaper option than the training school. One Lu Codestone can pay for nearly seven One or Two Dubloon Coins in terms of Neopoints. Basing on the ten Codestone mean, the Training School would cost just over 900,000 NP more to complete the same training as the Academy. However, the potential Training School cost can vary wildly. If one was to be so lucky as to need nothing but Mau Codestones, it would cost 919,818 NP, whereas if Finley had a real rough go of it, and all Lu Codestones, it would cost 3,261,885 NP, 350% more.
The real issue becomes one of opportunity cost. As Chuck progresses through the Academy, the time a session takes increases greatly. The final 70 sessions take 700 hours to complete, for example. The corresponding Training School Sessions would take only 210 hours. Overall, the Training School takes just about one third of the training time compared to the Academy. If one were to manage to keep continuous training, Chuck in the Academy, and Chuck's brother Finley with the same stats in the Training School, Chuck would spend just over 77 days in the Academy, while Finley would reach the same statistics in just 26 days.
This timing can lead to potential problems. In a real world scenario, it may take several months for Chuck to complete training in the Academy, thus exposing Chuck's owner to potential volatility in the Dubloons market. A demand spike could lead to a massive increase in Dubloon costs, leaving Chuck's owner paying similar prices to what they would have in Codestones before, but with the same protracted training schedule. The same risk exposure exists with Codestones as well, but the shortened training time greatly reduces such risks.
Bear in mind, this is not a perfect study. With the unpredictability of Codestone training, it is completely up in the air just what exactly completing the rounds in the Training School will cost. This analysis also does not account for random event stat increases, which can reasonably save an owner thousands of Neopoints over this timeframe.
So which is the best approach? From the data, it looks as though a split approach will be the wisest and most efficient option. Take advantage of 1,300 NP training sessions through the first 10 levels, when the time tradeoff is only two hours, for instance. At the higher end of that spectrum, the opposite is true. With a Five Dubloon Coin at 3,800 NP, and a 60% chance of paying less than 6,000 NP for the same training in as little as a third of the time, the opportunity cost may be too great to pass up. It's truly up to you. Happy training!
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Before she could say anything else, I turned and sprinted off into the Haunted Woods, ignoring my sister as she continued to call my name...