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Discussing “Mysteries”: the Odds and Ends

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Community Submission:  BlackCatLegion (Twitter)

If you’ve spent any time in the ZED discord lately, you’ve seen some contentious discussions about the “mysteries” of the game, AKA the odds. The odds system in ZED is a powerful snapshot of a horse’s capability against its competition in any given race, based on each horse’s wins after running 1000 simulations of that race. Then, one of these simulations is chosen, and this is how the race results are derived. Because the odds are essentially a window into 1000 races, there’s been discussion that odds tell too much about a horse, taking the fun out of the game, or that they can be detrimental to newcomers. There are three main stances in the community on odds as they are now: they’re fine as is, they need to be changed, or they need to be removed entirely. Their removal has already been shot down by the community manager, so we’ll focus on the system as it is now and discuss what a change would mean for the game, as well as diving into an example of how odds can help more than hurt a new stable owner.

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Bad Today, Better Tomorrow?

The argument that the odds system in its current form needs to be removed or changed is out of place at the moment, because we have no idea how the system will function when the full racing algorithm is put in place. When horses prefer certain gates, certain weather conditions, and certain tracks, who knows how our perception of a horse’s ability will change? Today, if you put a horse in a griffin race and it has terrible odds, it’s usually written off as a bad horse. But we have truly no idea how future conditions will impact odds and performance, or how drastic the impact will be. Anyone who says a good horse today will still be good all around tomorrow (or the opposite with a bad horse) is fooling themselves. We’re likely to see a lot more variation than people are prepared for with new conditions, and this will certainly increase the mystery and intrigue of the game. Without odds, determining horse preferences will become nearly impossible in the future without a lot of time, and potentially, money. This may increase engagement with the platform, but it will also increase new user frustration and make it harder to establish a good stable as a beginner.

So we’ve established the importance of odds, but what about a tweak to the system? Perhaps the addition of more variance by decreasing the simulation number used to determine odds, maybe 100 races instead of 1000, would add more discovery to the game. This is a solid idea in theory, but in practice, it becomes quite messy. Horses with data from the current system would have increased value due to their additional data. After all, they would have 900 more simulated races in their odds per race they’ve run. Pretending these horses would not become more valuable for breeding/racing and benefit majorly from a change to the system is disingenuous. To maintain fairness in the game, either these horses would need to be separated into their own category for future races, or the stats of all horses would require another “great reset.” A separation would be a strange thing, since there would be only maybe 30k horses with “old odds,” and eventually potentially millions with the new system. And another stat reset would be quite detrimental to the established stables, and really anyone who purchased a horse for their performance; something to consider before advocating for alterations.

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Knowing is Half the Battle

So how do odds affect newcomers’ perception of the game? I’ve been a proud member of the ZED community for just around a month now, and after failing to purchase any horses during my first drop, I got a genesis on matic.opensea named Lengthy. I thought he was unraced, but he was actually entered into a griffin with terrible odds seconds before he was posted for sale, hence why he was being sold cheaply. This was a huge disappointment as I was excited to enter my first griffin, but taught me an important lesson: always double check a horse’s stats. After running him at many distances in class 5, it became clear Lengthy was a consistent 30+ odds horse. His relatively often second and third placements enticed me to keep racing him, and without odds, I certainly would have thought he was close to victory, and would have kept losing WETH to chase that dream. But the odds showed me that he was not going to be a champion, and for someone with a one-horse budget like I had, knowing I should sell him was everything. Was it sad to know he was a bad horse (in current conditions)? Yes, and it was even a little discouraging, but it was so much better than looking back after fifty losses and seeing that I was a fool who lost a ton of money on a surefire loser. I was able to quickly resell Lengthy, for a slight profit no less, and work my way up to better horses. With those new horses, I was able to determine their best distances quickly through the odds system, so I didn’t waste a lot of time and money on discovery. Overall, the information I got from the odds system allowed me to work my way up to better and better horses, and start racing them to their full potential, sooner than I would’ve been able to otherwise. I agree that more time needs to be necessary to figure out a horse, but with the incoming variables for races, it’s obvious that this problem will fix itself.

No matter how you feel about the odds system right now, it’s important to note that ZED is changing a lot soon. Races will no longer occur only on sunny days and hard tracks, and we’re about to see a whole new group of champions as a result. Before we make any long term changes to a system that benefits newcomers more than it hurts, we should wait to see the whole picture that the racing algorithm has to offer. And like anything in crypto, it will happen “soon,” whenever that may be.

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