Lab Rat Guide
So you want to battle but wish to do it cheaply? Then the lab ray is most likely the place for you. Instead of other more balanced builds which require a great deal of NP to do, creating a lab rat allows a user to still be effective in the battledome even if they do not have the cash at the time. Be wary however, a lab rat also comes with its downsides
Introduction to Lab Rats
So you have either bought the lab ray, or decided to re-purpose the one you use for customization for a new cause. The first thing to remember here is that it wont happen over night. Lab Ray battling takes months of zapping often to get to a point where it is worthwhile in plots... That being said however, if you have decided to start based on not doing very well on a plot, then by the next one you should be ready to kick some behind. Also while some balanced battlers also use the lab ray to get HP at high levels, generally it is a good idea to start a new dedicated Lab Rat so you do not ruin your already balanced pet.
When zapping, things will go both up and down, the only thing that doesn't go down is your HP Stat! In general, despite all this movement the same rules apply. Lab Rats will generally have high HP, moderate Strength and Movement, and Horrible Defense. This has some rather serious consequences in battling which will be discussed later, however to see the approximate percentage change of each effect refer to the main Lab Ray Guide
Advantages and Disadvantages
The Lab Ray has multiple advantages and disadvantages all stemming from the natural build Lab Rats gravitate around. The advantages are naturally the cost (in both time and NP) and high HP which leads to advantages in plots and other events with battling. Besides this, your high movement will eventually mean you can use a Heavy Robe of Thievery long before most battlers can, as long as you train your intelligence as well. On the other side however, the minimal defense and moderate strength boost means you need to use a different set then most people and are more limited in your choices. Besides this, if you plan on competing in guild ran 1P and 2P contests, your pet will be artificially a higher league against pets with significantly better set. Using the advantages to their utmost while trying to minimize the disadvantages is possible, but your pet will always be weaker then a high strength Boost balanced fighter.
The hardest thing for any new Lab Rat battler to often resist is the allure of a particular pet colour or species. This is understandable naturally, if you have wanted nothing more then that MSP Poogle and suddenly get one what are you going to do? However consider this, every time you restart with a new Lab Rat you are essentially starting over. Personally, I find it easier to keep zapping because I know that most of the time the clothing of the colour in question stays for use later. If you are having trouble deciding if you wish to keep zapping or not, there is a simple thing you can do while you decide which I will talk about later. The great thing about the lab ray is any zap can give you that pet again, so you never know how many times your pet will come that elusive Lutari.
The most important thing to zapping pets into a Lab Rat is to zap EVERY day. While I understand a lot of users will be unable to do so, or worse be turned off by stats going down what appears to be "all the time", zapping every day is the core principal to this form of "training".
Choosing a Set
Items to Ignore
A lot of the most staple items on Neopets for battling are now useless to you. Have that nice Leaf Shield on your no defense lab rat? Don't bother. Dr. Sloths Personal Body Armour? Stick to the cheaper Parasol of Unfortunate Demise . Your Defense Boost makes most non percentage blockers worthless to you, and lets you use cheaper alternatives such as the Altadorian Swordbreaker
To make up on the slots saved by not carrying non-percentage blocking shields, a good tactic is to supplement your normal arsenal with some Prickly or Voidberry Potions. These attackers use the strength of the enemy against them, which is especially useful in 1P. The rule of thumb in 1P seems to be HP=STR=DEF so you will know when your 12 icons of reflected carnage from your dual berry potions will be most effective.
An upgrade to the Berry Potions is the expensive Glowing Cauldron which while only offering a 87.5% chance of a successful attack, ups the number of reflected icons from 6 icons to 10.
Besides this, Lab Rat sets should be focusing on pure icons. While a lot of the time the berry potions are better, sometimes you will be versing a lower strength boost, or will have to attack a frozen opponent. Often the weapons that come out from plots are the most cost effective for a Lab Rat player as you can earn them rather then purchasing them. Most likely the most famous example of this is the Ylanas Blaster which helped change the face of Battledome. If you have to go for something weaker to earn a better weapon with, stay away from Dual Duties (unless they also full-block or still do a lot of attacking icons) as defense is still most likely your downfall. Popular lower end 9 Icon attackers such as Golden Compass, Stone Club or Ice Club are always handy. But you can still be effective to begin with a cheap daily item like Obsidian Dagger.
Defending as a Lab Rat seems to be more common when using a set of pricklies then it does actually using shields but there are still strategies. Percentage blockers or reflectors are always a good thing to have, the cheap as anything Downsize! for example helps provide a nice 50% damage reduction once per battle, whereas the newly fixed and released Lens items provide nice cheap reflector options. Recently, more options for full blockers have opened up, with items like the Parasol of Unfortunate Demise and Altadorian Swordbreaker reaching very affordable points. Morever, the Hanso Charisma Charm offers a solid 10 icon attack and full darkness defense which is both good for 1P and 2P due to the popular Sword of Skardsen being almost entirely nerfed by it.
Having full blockers on hand allows for you to Nerf certain popular configurations in 2P, but also helps in 1P if you check up on what items they use. You can also supplement this defense using Faerie Abilities which I will explain later in the guide.
Healing a pet with a large amount of HP is hard when you do not have the NP to back it up. Since a Lab Rat gains hp at a much higher rate then most pets do there are however certain items which help out. The lowest healer a Lab Rat battler should start with is a Greater Healing Scroll while while it does not contain the overheal of a similar healing Purple or Blue Scorchstone a lab rat should grow into (and out of) the scroll fast regardless. Eventually, when you have over 500hp you will be one of the few battlers who find more use out of a Velms Healing Potion then the scroll, however by this point you should be looking to upgrade.
The most effective non-species healer is the expensive Bag of Healing Dust which offers a solid 50% heal, which will be better then your greater healing scroll the moment you reach 100hp. If that sounds too expensive for you, keep an eye out in the species section, or faerie ability upgrade option below for more options.
Freezing is a very important proposition for a Lab Rat, but also comes with some nice big asterisks. While freezing offers you the chance to deal a (relatively) crushing blow to an opponent with less HP, you can not use your Berry Potions on a frozen opponent. This is due to the fact that when frozen, a berry potion will use your strength again instead of that of the enemy. When frozen it is a good idea to attack fiercely with your most powerful weapons and try to deal a great deal of damage.
As for what items are good for a lab rat freezing wise, the very cheapest is the Snowglobe Staff which offers an alright 20% freeze without the risk of permanently breaking. Right now the most cost effective freezer is the Randomly Firing Freeze Ray which allows for a 50% freeze chance, though at the time of writing it is currently glitched. After this the next logical upgrade is a 100% freezer such as the H4000 Helmet or the Magical Marbles of Mystery.
Stealing items are often of use in both 1P and 2P, and while they are not normally active in wars or plots there is benefit to having one in your set. Like most builds, the most cost effective stealer for a long time is the Purple Sticky Hand, one of the most useful advent calendar items of Neopia. While these are cheap, they pale in comparison to the Heavy Robe of Thievery who, when you meet certain Requirements offer a 100% steal rate. The best thing about this item is, that for lab rats who gain a high movement stat often it can be used much earlier then balanced battlers can.
Because you will be zapping one thing is certain, your pets will change. As they do, you can take advantage of this to gain a supply of the few useful species items which you may wish to use. The most popular species item is the Kacheek Life Potion which offers a very cheap way to heal 100%. Species items can replace healers or freezers comfortably depending on which species you currently are, with Lupes getting some of the cheapest full freezers. The best way to find out if your current species has a weapon which is worth using is to search for their name in the iDB search. Keep in mind however most species items are trash, so look at the ratings before you make your choice.
Some users may even wish to morph their pets into a Kacheek or other pet and temporarily stop zapping until a plot is over. Normally the price of this is reflected however if you are a member of a guild you may be able to lend your guild's Kflour (if they have one) to Morph your pet (Be CAREFUL though they are expensive and you will have to offer collat most of the time).
While there are many problems with being a lab rat battler, there are also solutions. For example, if you ever do run into a colour you are not sure if you want to keep or not take a moment to decide but also take a moment to train.
Faerie Good Upgrade
Ignoring my horrible pun for just one moment... While training a long term Lab Rat is an impossible endeavor and would cost a lot more then it would simply take to start a new pet there is one thing you can do to improve your pet. Recently things have changed in the Faerie Ability world and it is a lot harder for a lab rat to take advantage of them. However, if you can hold back on zapping long enough to reach around level 50 (and thus nullifying the risk of a Down to 1 zap) you can still continue to train and earn levels enough to use abilities. Keeping in mind, if you Kflour your pet for a plot and save up codestones between plots then you can hopefully train levels during non zapping periods without much downtime.
Lab Ray Cookies
Is there anything people like more then a little NC? Well, yes actually... many things. In fact even talking about NC in an article like this is a little depressing. Point is with the advent of the Lab Ray Cookies there is an option to speed up the creation of a lab rat dramatically. Using cookies weekly means that you get at least 2-3 years worth of zapping out of one year. If you have a lot of money this could be a very controversial way to get ahead. Most users seem to notice these cookies more for their customization prowess, however a year of zapping with these cookies will make you a lot more powerful then a normal Lab Rat battler would be after one year. Be wary the ethical ramifications of this however, as spending more NC on these cookies may encourage future forays into NC in the Battledome.
Intelligence is a separate stat all together and is in no way effected by lab zaps. However, reading books to your Lab Rat will still be required if you wish to take advantage of the Heavy Robe of Thievery or other Brightvale armor. This is optional, however recommended to help you use your movement stat to its potential. Another reason to get Intelligence up is so that you may use the "Mind Blast" ability gained by supporting the seekers in the Battleground. This unique ability allows one shot of using your intelligence as strength and when a 750+ intelligence pet combines this with a bomb it can cause devastation on a level not normal for lab rats.
Lab Rat battling is by no means the best way to battle, but it has a lot of good points. The key to this form of battling is to be able to play to it's strengths, while using as many different strategies as possible to avoid the weaknesses. As long as you are able to resist temptation of other Colour/Species combinations you should be able to create a strong and long lasting Lab Rat to help you maximize plots. Just remember that once you go down this road, it gets harder and harder to turn back. If you choose to get a balanced build later chances are you will need a new pet.
This article was written by: SirCabbage