You can ask anyone I’ve talked to in the past few months, I have a new obsession and it’s called Zed Run. Virtual NFT horse racing was an easy sell for me and I’ve jumped in head first!
So you love the idea and want to get started! Awesome! I was in your shoes in early April. I took my first withdrawal from TopShot and wanted to invest in some ponies. I did a bunch of research, checked out the articles & videos, and decided to dive in.
Let’s just say, I made a couple of mistakes. I spent my entire ~$800 budget on two horses. A Genesis filly Buterin and an exclusive Nakamoto Colt. I was going to be rich! Those two horses have won exactly 0 races in over 120 races. And my grand plan to breed them together, on closer inspection, was a poor one because those 2 horses aren’t an ideal match.
Since then, I got lucky and bred a super stud-horse (with my glue genesis, one of the themes of my new theory) which has won over 200 races at a 15% clip and ends in the money over 1 in 3 races. His winning ways have allowed me to create a stable of 48 horses including 18 Genesis. Now I did invest more, but my stable is ‘worth’ roughly 10 times what I initially invested.
All that said, I have learned a lot through this experience. And while Zed is still super early and no one “has it figured out” by any stretch, I do know what I would do if I was starting over. And when friends want to get started, this is my advice.
So let’s pretend I was going to start Zed today with a similar $800 budget. Here are the two ways that I would deploy the funds that would give me what I believe to be the best chance of hitting a winning horse and growing my stable.
Just a quick note, the majority of my stable is buterins with a few Finney and Szabo sprinkled in. My only Nakamoto is the first one I bought. That said, if you have a larger budget and want to play in the deep in of the pool, most of this advice would still hold. That said, I am most interested and invested in the value side of Zed, so keep that in mind.
Tip #1: I would buy 4 horses to start my stable
You don’t HAVE to start with 4, but unless you get lucky right away, you might not have much to do with less. You can definitely get by w/3 (I’ll explain later), but that’s my personal minimum.
So what 4 horses would I buy? 1 Male and 3 females. This could come in my two favorite flavors (and like ice cream, the flavor is a personal preference).
Flavor #1: Genny Exclusive Cubed *~$950*
1 — Colt/Stallion Genesis ($350)
3 — Filly/Mare Exclusive ($200 each)
Flavor #2: Legendary Swirl *~$800*
1 — Colt/Stallion Legendary ($200)
3 — Filly/Mare Exclusives ($200 each)
No matter which flavor you choose, keep in mind that you should look for this particular 4-some that line up birthdays. They don’t have to be on the same day, but they should all be close. And ideally, they are coming up soon. Breeding resets 28 days after their birthday, so finding horses with similar birthdays can be helpful.
So why do I recommend these flavors?
- Legendary & Exclusive Females are a great place to start. Each will produce an exclusive off-spring each month (assuming exclusive breeds with a Genesis). If you get a female foal, you have another exclusive to breed. If you get a Colt, you have options to race/hold/breed/sell.
- Exclusive & Elite female horses have a special breeding power that allows their foals to stay exclusive. In addition, most believe that exclusive & elite horses will eventually be where the best runners are bred. These will keep their value much more than Cross or Pacers. This strategy optimizes your chance to get a good to great runner, while also growing your breeding pool (i.e. more exclusive females) while giving you options with exclusive Colts.
- If at all possible in your budget, I recommend buying RARE coat Colts/Stallions. You have a much better chance of getting a rare coat offspring, and the majority of the formula leans towards Colts. I’ve had GREAT success using Stepple’s Coat Calculator to get the best chance of rare coats. There are mixed opinions on the premium of rare coats, but for me, all things equal, I’d buy a rare coat vs a common coat every time.
- This gives you the most options. If you happen to get 3 Colts in your breeding cycle, exclusive Colts will be much easier to sell than Elite or lower because they can still breed elites. All that said, exclusive males are going to be tough to stud outside your stable unless they are a great running or have something special (super coat, rare coat, etc.). You really have 2 options with Exclusive Colts… Run then and see if they are good (and typically I try to sell if they don’t look promising at floor prices) or you sell unnamed to someone who wants a lotto ticket.
- Note, you don’t HAVE to buy the Colt/Stallion to make this work. You can always just use the stud farm and pick a stud at the floor price. I don’t think this is a bad option if you want to get more variance in your stable and/or want to save some upfront cost. But do know that owning a stud means you get a 35% discount. So every stud that costs $80 on the market costs $53 in stable. In addition, if you breed and want to sell, that’s profit that your missing and you could theoretically sell lower than someone who is pulling from the market since you have a discount. Lastly, if you find a great horse that produces good offspring, you may never have a chance to breed with it again if you don’t own it. But again, personal preference.
Tip #2: There’s Value in Everywhere
No matter what you hear, there are lots of places to find value in Zed. For some, spending. a little extra for unraced/unbred horses makes sense because you have value in the upside. For others, finding bargains near the floor price makes sense. Still others
For me, I think buying a horse on the market is like the late rounds of the NFL draft. It’s fairly easy to know which horses are first-round picks (great odds, high win percentage). But the true champions find value in the late rounds. And how do they do it? They hone in on traits that they believe give them an advantage.
In the NFL that might be speed, strength, or hand size. In Zed, it might be good grandparents, good siblings, underperforming odds, overperforming odds, or lots of 2nd/3rds. I’ve had great luck finding fillies that have 0/8/16 types of records. I personally think show rate (i.e. how often you are in the money) is one of the most overlooked aspects. Everyone fixates on the win rate. But if you’re consistently in the money, I believe breeding could unlock something to breed a winner.
In addition, many people devalue mares because they may not be able to breed right away. Moving forward, this might be the same with new foals that have to wait a month to breed. The closer they get to being able to breed, the more valuable they are in that moment. But there are tons of values in mares (see what they’ve already produced). Again, look at things that not everyone is focusing on to find the best value.
Tip #3: No one has all the answers (yet) so experiment
Strange this is a tip that comes after I’ve spent hundreds of words telling you what I know, but we are still in the early stages of this game. But no one has all the answers. The only thing we know for sure is champion horses can and do come in all shapes and sizes (okay, maybe not since they all have the exact same dimensions, but you get my point).
I can show you where breeding Buterins with Nakamotos breed champions. I can also show where they’ve failed miserably. I can show you elite horses that dominate. And others that don’t. Z1 Nakamotos can be killers. Or get killed on the track. High Z horses are garbage. Till they aren’t.
There’s really no wrong answer today and there’s plenty of incentive to experiment. My best horse came from a winless Genesis and a 10% legendary that was in mostly free races. Their offspring (a z28) is one of the winning horses in Zed history and has won over 4eth in prize money (over .8 in profit).
All that to say, I believe that starting out, you should test, evaluate, and grow. Play the game and see what feels important to you before spending big bucks on an unraced Z4 or something. But if you want to do that, there’s no wrong way!
Tip #4: Zed is like Vegas. And like Poker.
I go to Las Vegas a lot… It’s one of my favorite places in the world. Most of my friends don’t understand how I can visit more than once a year. To them, Vegas is black and white. This is like ZED. When you look at it through only one lens and think about it only as one thing, it can seem overwhelming. Or boring. Or a money suck.
In reality, ZED is many things, all at once. Just like Vegas can be something different for everyone, ZED can morph to fit your personality. And it can even be something different to you depending on the day!
A guy’s trip to Vegas is very different from a romantic getaway with my wife. Spending the day at a mega dayclub is very different than relaxing at the hotel pool. And hitting up the high-roller tables on the strip is different than playing the $5 blackjack table downtown.
The same is true of ZED. You can be successful (and have a blast) racing your horse in a $2 class 5 race or spending $500 on a “rent race” in class 1 against the top horses on the platform. This will continue to become even more apparent as new class systems, race types, and more are added to the ZED universe over the next few months.
The last time I was in Vegas, I watched a man betting $40,000 a spin in the middle of the Bellagio casino. When he hit his number, he was winning nearly $250,000 on a spin. I also played roulette, spending nearly 20 minutes looking for a $15 minimum table rather than a $25. We both had a great time, had something to risk and something to gain.
This can be like ZED.
Tip #5: And Zed is like Poker.
The more I dig into ZED Run and study it, the more I realize that there is no way to truly “figure it out”. I think that is even more true because every horse is unique, therefore every outcome for every event (whether a race or breeding) won’t be truly known until it happens.
As I was thinking about which horses to buy and which horses to breed, I kept coming back to this game being much more like a game of poker than anything else. Let me explain.
In ZED, as in Poker, you start with a hand. And in ZED and Poker, that hand has a chance to win. Some horses you start with are “glue”. Think of it as offsuit 2/7. You probably don’t want to play them and they are going to lose way more than they win, but until you see the flop, you won’t see how bad it actually is.
In ZED world, the flop might be breeding your horse. If everything lines up right and you hit 2/2/7 on the flop, you can turn out a monster hand. You might also get K/K/7, which has significantly less chance of winning, but still might. You’ve improved your hand and your chances, but still maybe not enough to keep from folding that hand. Basically, just like in poker, with the right cards and the right situation, any hand or horse can be a winner.
Digging deeper into the poker analogy, buying the high z genesis horses is like getting AA or KK. You have the right situation to win and win big. If you continually have the best cards, you will have the best chance of becoming the champion. Unlike poker, you get to keep that starting hand and play it over and over again.
I believe my strategy above is like playing suited connectors or medium pairs. A good hand to start, but not one you instantly push all in. Just like poker, you want to take as many good chances as you can, and breeding exclusive females to make more exclusives is a solid, value strategy. You won’t win every time (and eventually, you want to get an AA or KK), but it gives you a decent chance for a solid return.
To conclude, there are tons of ways to play the game. None of them are wrong. But the strategies above can give you a good chance to build your stable and search for a winning horse without breaking the bank.
Love it? Hate it? Let me know @NaptownStables on Twitter.