Taking It to the Bank
It's important, when learning the ins and outs of a new game, to study it's basic mechanics so that you may build upon them to create advanced strategies. And one of the basic mechanics in Neopets is the Bank. As you know, the goal of Neopets is to bank cards worth a total of 21 points of and win the game. Sounds simple, but the reality is more involved as the Bank has an influence on deck construction and game play. To understand that influence, we have to look at fundamental ideas that define the Bank and the cards that go there. And the best place to start is by taking a look at some of the raw numbers involved.
In the basic set, the only cards with point values are Items and Equipment. The point values of all these cards range from 1 to 4, with the exception one card that is worth 5 (but is really only worth 3 points). Since 4 is the highest possible value for any one card, the minimum number of times you will have to bank a card before you can win the game is six (4x5=20, next point wins). Unless a large percentage of your deck is 4 point cards, then the average number of times you will have to bank a card before you can win is seven. If you run a high number of 2 point cards, expect to go through eight banks to win.
When deciding which bankable cards to use in a deck, we have to make distinctions between the different type of bankable cards. There's three types: Equipment, Items you play in contests for effects, and Items you bank for effects. Equipment cards are permanent, which means they help you every turn after you play them. They also require a tap to play, which means that Neopet wont be able to start any contests that turn. The earlier you attach Equipment to your NeoPets, the more game time they see and thus are more efficient. That means the first set of Equipment cards you draw will tend to get played and not go to the bank. And since trying to attach tons of Equipment slows you down, the ones you draw later in the game are the ones that get banked. We can use this to come up with a first guideline to deck construction: For Equipment, Bank Value = 2/3s total Equipment Point Value.
The second type of bankable cards are Items you use in contests for effects. Even if those effects are only the bonuses to stats the give, they still must be played instead of banked to produce an effect. Items don't require a tap to play, and they only last the turn you use them then go away. To compensate, these Items usually have bigger effects and stats than comparable Equipment cards. However, since you have to play these Item cards for effects, you can't bank them later (usually). So like Equipment cards, some will get played and some will get banked. Figuring out how many of your Items cards you will play is more of a judgment call since you can hold onto them until you play or bank them. Since it's 50/50 on whether a particular Item gets played or banked given a game's circumstances, we can use that as our second guideline: For Item cards that are played for effect, Bank Value = 1/2 total Item Point Value.
Where the other two types of bankable cards struggle with whether to play or bank, the third type has no such problems. They're primary use is to be banked for an effect. Some have decent contest stats, some don't. But before you go stuffing your deck full of these cards, be aware of that almost all of these cards have a point value of 2 or less. If you played nothing but these it would take you a whopping 10 - 11 banks to win a game. Since these cards are most effective banked, and thats where you want them to go to help you win, then we come very eaisily to our third guideline: For Items that are banked for effect, Bank Value = total Item Point Value. This guideline, however, is very much influenced by the point value of the card, as are the other guidelines to some extent. Therefore, we need to look again at point values to help us in deck construction.
Theres only a total of five 1 point cards in the Basic set. One of them is a Negg that beomes worth 4 points under certain circumstances. The other four are books and they all add cards to your hand when you bank them. In general, unless your playing a themed deck, these cards aren't very useful. 2 point cards are a little better, but require moderation to keep your deck from becoming lopsided. If you want to win by your seventh bank, then for every 2 point card you bank, you'll have to bank a 4 point card. Otherwise you have to setlle for a longer eight bank win, and to do that you still can't play more than three 2 point cards. Since three is the maximum number of 2 point cards you can play and still win in seven banks (with 4 point cards to compensate), or win in eight banks (following up with five 3 point cards) then three is the most you ever want to bank in a game. Therefore we have our fourth guideline: For all the 2 point cards that are in a deck, only 3 count for Bank Value.
3 point cards are very basic. They have no drawback to banking so theres really no guideline on how many you can run in a deck. 4 point cards are like 2 point cards in that you need to use them in moderation, but its for totally the opposite reason. All 4 point cards are bankable. In fact most of the time that's all they are good for. You need both bankable cards AND cards that help you win contests to keep your deck balanced. To achieve that, we need to play with as few 4 point cards as possible. You need to bank three 4 point cards to win in the fewest banks possible (six). You also need to bank a 4 point card for every 2 point card to keep the possibility of a seven bank win open. Doing that only requires you to bank, at most, three 4 point cards. Therefore, you only want to draw three 4 point cards per game that are otherwise useless to your deck. If we assume the average number of cards drawn per game is around 20, then we have our last guideline: For a 40 card deck, don't play more than six four point cards that are otherwise useless to your deck.
A brief mention here to the only 5 point card in the basic set, Hubrid Nox Statue. While technically it is a 5 point card, to bank it you must discard Hubrid's Puzzle Box from your bank. The Puzzle Box is a 2 point card, so while you gain 5 when you bank the Statue, you lose 2 you already had. That makes the true point value of Hubrid Nox Statue 3, not 5.
Using these guidelines, we can get a good feel for the true Bank Value a deck has. So whats a good Bank Value? To find out we have to go back to the numbers. To win the game you have to bank 21 points worth of cards. Given the presence of a few ways your opponent can remove cards from your bank, we'll alter that total to 25. That means you will need to draw 25 points worth of Bank cards per game. If we assume the average number of cards drawn per game is around 20, then for a 40 card deck we'll need at least 50 points of Bank cards to consistently draw enough Bank Value to win a game.
Here's an example of how to use this system to find a deck's Bank Value using the Items and Equipment for one of my decks
3 Kadotie Bank = 2
3 Babaa Bank = 3
3 Warf Bank = 3
3 Hasee Bank = 3
3 Snowbunny Bank = 3
3 Pawkeet Bank = 3
2 Rainbow Paint Brush Bank = 2
3 Jeranda's Orb Bank = 3
3 Petpetnip Bank = 4
First off we look at the point values. I have three 4 point cards. That's well under the six card limit, and for this deck Petpetnip isn't a useless card. 3 point cards are all counted. I have five 2 point cards. Since I should only count three of those cards for thier Bank Value, I have to choose which three to count. Typically you want to count Items with bank effects first as those are the most likly to be banked. After that, count Equipment since they are harder to play than Items. Then lastly, count Items with contest effects. For this deck I count 2 Rainbow Brushes and 1 Kadotie. There's no 1 point cards.
Now we tally up Point Value by type to figure out the Bank Value. For equipment, I have 15x3 and 1x2. Thats a total of 47 points. I then divide that by 2/3 and get 31 Bank Value points. (I always drop all fractions to be safe). For contest Items, I have 3x3 and 3x4 for a total of 21 points. Then divide that total by 1/2 to get 10 Bank Value points. My total Bank Value so far is 41. Lastly I count the bank effect items. 2x3 is 6 points, and those get added straight to my Bank Value for a grand total of 47.
You may have noticed that my Bank Value total is less that what I said a deck should have. That's because this particular decks draws more cards than average and also uses Put On Display, a SHH card that lets you bank one of your Equipments straight off one of your Neopets. As you see, these are only guidelines to help make sure your deck is running enough points to give you the cards you need to win. You always have to take into account what deck your using and your own play style. I hope this has helped you to understand some of the basic mechanics of how the Bank works in Neopets. Even if you dont agree with my numbers, it was my goal to give you a basis with which to come up with your own.