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What I learned from 100 games of Pyramids

by _lozza


I’ve been playing Neopets for 12 years, and I’ve always enjoyed collecting trophies. Yet, it took me until recently to have a go at Pyramids, and shoot for that elusive golden trophy. After playing 100 games of Pyramids, I thought I could share some musings on what I’ve taken from the game. Maybe you can learn from my experience, and improve your odds of winning!

Pyramids is a game that blurs the line between strategy and luck. You could play the perfect game and implement the ideal strategy, and have a streak of bad luck ruin your chance of winning. Some would call this “blurring the line between fun and torture”. I am among these people.

In order to play a card, it must be face-side up (“revealed”), and be either one HIGHER or one LOWER than the current drawn card (at the top of the table). Playing the two cards that are underneath a face-side down card (“hidden”) will reveal it. You must keep playing cards until you have cleared the Pyramid! If you can’t play a card, you must draw a new one from the deck, face down at the top, but you can only do this so many times before you run out of new cards.

Those are the basics, but you need more than that to win. You need to understand the strategy! The most common strategy is to cross your fingers and pray to Fyora that the next card you reveal can be played. It won’t be, and you’ll have to draw 5 other cards until you can play a card that’s been sat at the bottom row for 15 turns.

Not that I’m bitter, of course. The golden trophy can only be obtained by clearing the pyramid in two games, back to back. In 100 games, I’ve cleared the game three times – giving an approximate chance of winning of around 3%, or 1/33. The odds of winning twice in a row are then 1/33 * 1/33, which is 1/1089.

One in one thousand and eighty-nine. Statistically, you’d have to play over a 1000 games to win the gold trophy. Of course, some may win it sooner, others much later, but that’s the area to aim for.

You can get a less dazzling silver trophy for simply winning the game 5 times, and a bronze trophy for clearing it twice, non-consecutively. These trophies are certainly merits to be proud of!

But winning any game of Pyramids takes a lot of effort and luck! So, we have to ask... is it worth it?

As Pyramids is a ‘HTML’ game (meaning it’s loaded in the page, not like the Flash games), each click loads a new page, making you a magnet for random events. Playing this game frequently, you can expect to get a lot of random events – and most random events in Neopia are good! At one point, I found 20k Neopoints on the floor, and on the next click… I found another 10k! Dr Sloth also granted me his elusive avatar while playing and, most luckily of all, the Fountain Faerie granted me a quest mid game!

Beyond that, you are also given Neopoints for playing. This is dependent on your score, but as you can play all day, your score each game doesn’t really matter. However, you are capped at 5k NPs total winnings a day. If you are the sort who does care about their score, then you should know – the cards you clear on higher tiers get you more points, and a playing continuous streak of cards, without drawing a new one, will net you bonus points.

“So, then. That all sounds swell. Surely there’s a catch?”, I somehow hear you say. Let’s explore... the downsides.

Personally – I have developed a bit of a “Pyramid Problem” – I can’t stop playing. Each game I get so close to clearing the pyramid, but fall short. So, I tell myself – I can clear it this next game! It’s a vicious cycle. This does mean the other things I could be doing are getting neglected – such as training my pets and going for avatars. Who has the time to get flash game avatars when you could aim for an incredibly unlikely achievement like the Pyramids Trophy!?

You will also develop superstitions. You’ll tell yourself – “Ah! I’ve drawn a Jack! Every time this happens, I get a streak of at least 4!”. Confirmation bias in action! You’ll get a streak of 2, and chalk this up to bad luck, when in actuality you only ever really remember that one time you got a good streak after a Jack, and forget all the times that you didn’t. Pyramids, man – it gets in your head.

And – most embarrassingly – I’ve started to dream in Pyramids. My mind drifts off to illusions of me clearing cards all night. My mind will be set on playing, even when I’m set on sleeping. Alas, even in my dreams, I am yet to get the trophy.

You’ll also be driven insane by your pet. “AH! Look behind you! Just kidding.” Your pet will play this prank 10 times a game – and it will never be funny. Though of course, who can blame them – watching you play cards for hours on end must be pretty boring for them. Still, you can always threaten them with a trip to the pound – that might shut them up for a bit.

So, you have to ask yourself if you think getting attached to this game is worth it. Neopoints wise, you'll likely make a profit - mainly from random events. But is it worth the time investment? Is it worth your sanity?

Personally, I would like to recommend to everyone reading to have a go. Go and play at least one game of Pyramids. It is fun and you’ll learn a new card game. Maybe you’ll be one of the lucky ones who gets the golden trophy in only a few games?

And if you are one of the lucky ones, shoot me a Neomail, and I’ll personally congratulate you by sending you my SDB stash of piles of dung. Now, if you excuse me, I have to go and play another 900 games of Pyramid.

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