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Penguinqwert's State of the Battledome: August 2013

This article was written on August 30th, 2013. The Battledome may be subject to change after the date of publication.

As the Battledome community continues to wait for a landmark update to the new Battledome, plenty of smaller news stories have emerged. Last summer, we witnessed Face Mace stock at the Smuggler's Cove and Skarls Hasty Mace appear for sale in the Hidden Tower in back-to-back weeks. I mentioned in a previous month's article that we have had a bit of a drought in terms of new Hidden Tower and Smuggler's Cove merchandise, but this month we were lucky enough to see two new high-end weapons debut at these locations: Fan of Swords and The Death Knell. In addition, Daily Dare released many Battledome-related prizes, the most notable being Neovian Strength Potion. Looking at the community side of the Battledome, the third League 97 event ran its course, and hype is ramping upwards in anticipation of the October League 97 event. Updates and bug fixes for the new Battledome are nowhere to be found, but August provided plenty of notable occurrences to keep the community appeased as the wait continues.

Fan of Swords

The first Hidden Tower weapon released in over six months, the new Fan of Swords now makes an interesting choice for battlers in the Hidden Tower-level of battling. Fan of Swords has already seen a wide range of reviews from the Neopian public; in a sense this fact is a refreshing change from the collective majority writing off a weapon as awesome or terrible. In my opinion, Fan of Swords does have its downsides, but these downsides have been blown out of proportion in comparison to the upsides. Many battlers have written off the Fan of Swords because of its fractional icons and its scattered icon arrangement. To write this weapon off for these reasons is unfair, especially without contemplating the scenarios where Fan of Swords may see play.

Fan of Swords is essentially the Hidden Tower-level Rusty Pitchfork. Dual Duty weapons are never guaranteed to block anything, but when considering that nearly all of Fan of Swords' peers utilize a few Physical icons, Fan of Swords' defense seems like a solid bet to block something.

I'm a fan of this fan. (OK, let's be honest, we're all tired of this joke now.) My initial plan was to write about Fan of Swords in-depth in this month's article, but I ended up writing a 1,200-plus word monstrosity as a review a few days back. My general thoughts on the weapon can be found here.

Retired Hidden Tower Weapons

Although the retiring of several weapons is never guaranteed with the release of a new Hidden Tower weapon, the Fan of Swords release did happen to come side-by-side with the retiring of five older weapons. After many years in the Hidden Tower, Hubrids Noxious Blade, Island Mystics Staff, Meukas Snot Trail, Rainbow Clockwork Grundo, and Regulation Meridell Crossbow finally made their goodbyes.

Many players let out a sigh as they wished that one of the weapons they owned had retired instead, while the few players that owned one or more of the above items danced with excitement knowing they had just cashed in. All in all, the latest wave of retirees will not be missed greatly. Most of the new retirees spent their years sitting in galleries, far away from the Battledome, and now they will continue to do so for years to come, albeit with slightly higher price tags.

Hubrids Noxious Blade and Regulation Meridell Crossbow will fade quietly into the night, but at least Island Mystics Staff, Meukas Snot Trail, and Rainbow Clockwork Grundo fringed on being useful. Island Mystics Staff and Meukas Snot Trail will continue to remain as viable L97 options, but Rainbow Clockwork Grundo has now been pushed into obscurity thanks to its price jump.

Island Mystics Staff and Meukas Snot Trail were not common sights in L97 prior to their retiring, but their usage is unlikely to change greatly now that they are retired. Meukas Snot Trail is the most powerful offensive force in the format, but its icon types allow it to be mangled by the common Faerie Tabard. Island Mystics Staff is a formidable option in the Light-blocking department, but Dusty Magic Broom and Stocking Full of Coal exist as under-1M alternative options. Ultimately the L97 metagame will not be greatly impacted by these retirements as these weapons were already infrequently used.

Rainbow Clockwork Grundo was not a popular bomb prior to retirement, but it did have a small niche. For battlers that earned Neopoints at a slow rate, Rainbow Clockwork Grundo was available for a modest boost in damage over multiple-use weaponry while on the way to saving for Ghostkerbomb. Unfortunately, the retirement now means that Rainbow Clockwork Grundo has been pushed out of its niche due to inflation and the existing Rainbow Clockwork Grundos are now making their way out of people's sets and towards galleries.

The recent retirements have not resulted in a very changed metagame; depending on where you stand, this could be taken as a disappointment or a relief. Only time will tell when the next retirement wave comes through, but the number of lackluster Hidden Tower weapons has been gradually shrinking. Perhaps the next wave of retirement will be a game-changer.

The Death Knell

Today, roughly a half hour before the news was released, a new weapon was spotted at the Smuggler's Cove. In what has become a Neopets tradition, players everywhere are now beginning to camp out the Cove in hopes of striking easy riches. At a stock price of 300 Dubloons, just about any Neopian has a shot at snagging The Death Knell, but only a handful of users will be lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time.

The Death Knell is an interesting freezing weapon. This weapon boasts the offensive force of a Moehog Skull, but it only offers the chance of freezing that Randomly Firing Freeze Ray offers. Unlike Randomly Firing Freeze Ray and some other semi-fragile freezers, when The Death Knell freezes it still succeeds in attacking as well. Wild speculation has already begun in regards to how The Death Knell will reshape the freezing market. It should also be noted that anytime a Smuggler's Cove or Hidden Tower weapon is released, there is always a slim chance that the weapon's effect will be modified early on.

Before assigning words to this new weapon, it is best to wait a few days to follow the price and any potential modifications to the weapon's effect. But one thing that is certain is the fact that The Death Knell will bring plenty of excitement over the coming week as players scramble to be one of the lucky few to 'cove' this exclusive item.

Daily Dare

The Y15 Daily Dare brought some pleasant new rewards to battlers. This year's prizes included several beginner-caliber pieces of battle equipment as well as some useful stat increasers. This year's Daily Dare also brought an alternative prize option - stat increases.

Stat increases as a prize are a fantastic idea. Battlers reeling over the cost of training rejoiced on days when Strength or Defense was offered. Battlers were not as thrilled about five of the nine stat days offering Agility or Intelligence, but overall the stat prizes were a step in the right direction in encouraging cross-participation between site activities. Perhaps next year HP could be a reward option as well, as it is a stat that almost every battler would be happy to have.

Besides the stat prizes, the release of Neovian Strength Potion made battlers happy - except for those with a secret stash of Altador Strength Potions. This AAA prize did not require too difficult of a score to achieve, so in addition to players being able to collect a nice profit, the supply of Neovian Strength Potions is large.

Neovian Strength Potion increases a pet's strength by four points when used, or one less than Altador Strength Potion. However, the mass-release of Neovian Strength Potion puts it in direct competition with Altador Strength Potion, increasing the overall supply of strength increasers and bringing down the price per strength point.

This year's Daily Dare has helped reinforce the idea that the Neopets Team wants to continue to make training more accessible for all players. Although the Battledome is not as playable as what is to be desired at the moment, players are being encouraged to take up an interest in the Battledome whenever it reaches completion.

The Rise of League 97

What started as an experiment is now fast on its way to becoming the premier event in the Battledome community. Over the course of a few months, the League 97 format has begun to draw more and more battlers into the mix. This past month, the first L97 tournament to be hosted on iDB took place, and all signs are pointing upwards for the League.

The upcoming event is set to take place in early October, and it will easily be the biggest League 97 event yet. While each of the first three L97 events has had ~20 to ~25 participants, the October event, with over a month to go before sign ups close, is already up to 40-plus participants. With iDB serving as a launch-point and resource-center for future events, combined with the great support and efforts of many individuals, L97 has made the best of a sticky situation regarding the current playability of the new Battledome. To have an event where 40-plus people will be competing, all in the same league, is remarkable in this day and age. Half a year ago I thought it would be impossible to run an event of this magnitude without serious fixes to the Battledome. L97 is something that many battlers have needed to see to believe, and it appears now that with more and more battlers jumping onboard, the league can truly take off. Neoskulltula (Greg) deserves a lot of recognition for building a metagame that can excel in a broken Battledome.

I full-heartedly encourage anyone starving for some 2-Player action to take part in the league. Also, for anyone contemplating trying 2-Player for the first time, L97 is an excellent way to get your feet wet. The other day I constructed this page showing off the majority of the weapons that might be used in the format. I hope that this page is useful to those who are already competing. I also hope that this page is eye-opening for those who are contemplating competing and those who are skeptical about competing. Misconceptions do arise when talking about a new format, and I believe that many of these misconceptions have arisen from being unable to visualize scenarios. I hope that this resource and others to follow will make the format more understandable for both insiders and outsiders.

Some players, mainly those with low budgets, have said that League 97 isn't friendly to those on low budgets. Other players, mainly those with elite-caliber weapons, have said that League 97 alienates wealthier users and is a spinoff of the 500k set cap format. The truth is, League 97 is not intended as either of these: League 97 is a carefully constructed metagame utilizing a group of weapons that have not seen play in years.

Compared to traditional battling, League 97 has much more parity from top to bottom. Players on the top are heavily favored to beat those on the bottom, but compared to traditional 2-Player battling, League 97 offers closer competition. Wealth disparity is not quite as important in this league, but a factor nonetheless. However, League 97 is not about limiting wealth or alienating wealthy users, otherwise a spending limit would be intact. League 97 is based on an icon limit, which in turn allows for lengthier fights and a great use for defensive measures.

In League 97, the battles are won by using a well-timed combination of offensive weapons, Dual Duties, and shields, while also swapping out weapons between fights to constantly stay ahead of the opponent. Every weapon has multiple counters in this format, and the options are more diverse than in traditional battling. No 'cookie-cutter' set exists; players in this format must continually adjust sets in order to have long-term success.

My goal is to do everything I can to continue promoting this format. My philosophy towards 2-Player battling is that a great battler will find a way to win no matter what metagame is presented. L97 is not a replacement for traditional battling, but it is an alternative style meant to coexist with traditional 2-Player battling. League 97 will work your mind in a way that it hasn't been worked in traditional battling; you will grow as a battler by trying this format. I hope that the weapon listing I worked on assists you in learning more about the format, and I would like to know what you would like to see on iDB to further enhance the L97 experience, whether it be guides, play-by-plays, etc. Most of all, I hope to see you in October.

This article was written by: Penguinqwert