Author Topic: Experiences on the International Racetrack  (Read 2016 times)

Offline Agathon

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Experiences on the International Racetrack
« on: August 21, 2016, 04:23:31 PM »
Greetings. I have only ever played one family in Sims 3, a legacy that has now been racing horses for around 5 generations. I don't see much discussion about racing, so I thought I could share some ideas on how to approach, and win, the international races.

Trophy Room.jpg

This is the trophy room at Memory Lane, currently holding 36 Racing (RA), 34 Showjumping (SJ), and 33 Cross-Country trophies. Shown on the walls are every horse that has won internationally, with the number and type of victories included in the name of the picture. Once a horse is done, due to a sale or old age, its picture goes up. There is a 4th generation Unicorn at the estate which is still actively racing, and whose picture is not yet taken.

Since winning the cross-country is by far the most difficult, most riders have butted their heads against that obstacle, usually with little success. Horses that are brought in to mate are usually the ones used in Racing, which is the easiest category.

1. Location

Memory Lane.jpg

Welcome to Memory Lane. Yes, these sims are rich, so rich that it stinks. We're in Sunset Valley, where nothing is left of the former Alto estate. Proximity to the Riding Center is key. If you have a house half-way across town and gallop from there to the riding center, you have already lost. Getting to the riding center is a battle against time, once your pre-race preparations are done, you want to be there in a blink, so as to not lose the moodlets you need to win. If you are racing Unicorns only, you can of course teleport there.

2. Training, advanced races

The Lanes have a simple philosophy: Never race a horse that isn't ready. For racing, (RA), that means level 10 racing skill, Long Distance Racer and Endurance Equine completed. For Showjumping, both skills at level 10, Tireless Leaper and Frequent Flyer. For Cross-Country, all the mentioned challenges, and both skills at 10. Horses that will compete for a long time usually start with Showjumping, and some Racing, before progressing to the big challenge of the CC. No rider is even allowed to sit on a horse until they're level 8, and cannot compete unless they're level 10.

Does winning advanced races help? I dedicated a generation and a half to finding out, and my advice would be: Win 1 advanced race in the category you will be competing in, no more. One win might help, 10 wins does nothing further for you.

3. One rider, one horse, no interference

The relationship between horse and rider matters. If you keep switching horses/riders with high relationships, it may not matter to the point of who the horse considers it's BFF on that particular day, but why risk it? The rider takes care of the horse, and rides it. In my game, which is a big household of usually 4-6 sims and 2-4 horses, the horse grounds are locked to any sim who does not ride, and all autonomous feed treat/rub neck/pet etc are off. No more horses going about their business and being constantly interrupted by sims who have nothing better to do.

4. Be a rich legacy, and run a garden

Once you have a maxed out horse and rider, with BFF relationship, you need to worry about moodlets. To win races, you need good moodlets. Some good, long-lasting ones are the week-long +75 from the Spa, and the +75 from ambrosia. Then there's nectar. But if you can't spare the 7500 for the spa, or don't have perfect deathfish and lifefruit, or nectar equipment, or even a garden, forget about ever racking up international cross-country wins. A garden can provide nectar ingredients, and, with omni plants, deathfish. To win the really difficult races, you need a framework. A fresh-faced, poor sim galloping her pet horse across town to the riding center, simply won't do.

5. Moodlets and win percentages

For 3 1/2 generations, I wanted to see what could be done without going full tilt with moodlets. The racing sims, though they also had periods as horsemen/women, also had other careers. Often, it was a case of just getting on that horse and race, no matter the condition of the horse or the sim. The standard was +75 from the Spa, +25 Everlasting Joy from the genie lamp, varying degrees of well rested or amazing meal, and, if time was available, Nectar, Clean Hooves, Brush, Hug was the usual routine. The horses usually had +15 from the hay and from the saltlick. The result:

Racing (RA) about 70% win
Showjumping (SJ) 35-40% win
Cross-Country (CC) 5-10% win

6. Getting serious

Alyssitf.jpg

This is Alyssina Lane, a fourth generation rider on her 3rd generation Unicorn, Tisiphone. After getting 13 SJ wins using her father's method of race preperation, she switched to CC, and took it up a notch. Her father had hit a brick wall in the CC, and weeks went by between his wins. In the end, he got 4 CC wins, like his father before him. Alyssina, a humorless, evil perfectionist, was determined to crack the CC code. She took no job outside the house, and started perperations 4 hours before race time. Her horse was kept under tight observation to make sure it ate close to racetime, and also licked the Celestial Saltlick. She donated to undermine charities (+30), ate ambrosia (+75), made sure she was having a blast (+40) for hours, got fresh laundry (+25-40), fed an apple to the horse before the race (+30), got blessed by the unicorn (+50) and ran the horse through the jumping track. She got 13 cross-country wins before the horse got old, a win percentage of 25-30%.

7. Efficient preparation

Nectarpavillion.jpg

Since keeping the moodlets up and running is key, efficiency and micromanagement is rewarded. It isn't fun unless you like being obsessive, and requires your riding sim to be the center of attention for most of the day. But if you are chasing CC wins, it matters. Licking the normal saltlick and cleaning hooves is best done in the morning, because of the 12-hour window. Short distances between saltlick, hay and water tray, the horse doesn't need to eat more than a little bit to get the moodlet from the hay. Rider stationed nearby, drinking nectar. If horse is not ready, reads a book. Slow speed on game. Rider walking towards the horse as soon as it's preparations are nearly finished. Brush, saddle, feed produce. After feed produce, the sim and horse is in perfect position to do the blessing. Mount, jump the short track, abort at 3rd obstacle to end up at the gate, gallop to Equestrian Center, hug, enter.

That's how I do it, which doesn't mean it's the only good way. Remember that nectar freezes the fun bar: You could have 2 hours left of "Having a blast", which is then prolonged by 3 hours by the nectar. Compacted, my advice would be to concentrate on the  moodlets that lasts 4 hours or more, trying to make them stick until the end of the race. That's when the important stuff happens, not at the beginning. If you can get to making the moodlet from feed produce (3 hours) last the entire race, even better. Don't worry too much about 2-hour moodlets.
 
8. Race Strategy

Throughout the generations, I have tested a few different strategies, and found that a combination of take risk and go for broke works best, for all races. Go for broke from 2nd in RA, 2nd/3rd in SJ (depending on how much time is left), and 3rd in CC. Steady pace if you reach 1st. However, there is a trick to using Go for Broke. If you use it when you've just gone up in position, I've found it does nothing in 95% of the cases. You must wait, and let the progress bar tick on a little. Then Go. Alyssina used this approach in all her races (probably around 70-80) before Tis got old, and never, not once, dropped down in position when using Go for Broke. The better prepared your horse and rider are, the more powerful it is using Go for Broke. Many times, she went directly from 3rd to 1st. Sometimes, nothing will happen, sometimes you'll get to 2nd, but not be in time to reach 1st.

9. Energy Level, can you win with an old horse?

Over hundreds of races, I've noticed hints of a pattern. It may be nothing, just a fluke, but I suspect not. In races that seemed harder than expected, I often found that the horse was low on energy (40-50% after race). Conversely, in races that seemed easier to win than I thought, the horse often had high energy, having napped almost until race time. Nap that horse!

Oldandold.jpg

When Tisiphone got old, Alyssina refused to switch from the horse she had bottle-fed as a teenager. She kept on racing, to see if it was possible for an old woman to win with an old horse. Not CC though, she did regular international racing (RA). And it was HARD. She added the routine of sleeping in the Sultan's Tabernacle until noon, and kept on trying. 18 times they raced, without success. For the first time Tis could drop down in position when going for broke, or even when taking risks. Though Alyssina maintained her record of never finishing below 3rd, she couldn't win before the horse died, but it felt so, so close. Still not giving up, she tied the ghost to the household and tried again. On her 19th attempt, her first race with the ghost, she succeeded.

10. The perfect jockey

Due to some relationships falling apart, Memory Lane is currently short on riders, and in desperation, they have turned to a jockey from outside the family. From the riding schools of England, chosen among thousands, comes Danielle Swifton:

Danielle.jpg   

Danielle is Equestrian, Good (can donate), Friendly, Lucky (don't know it helps), and Over-Emotional. Her emotional ways should be quite helpful: The Spa treatment gives her a +93 moodlet, and ambrosia +93. Since she has been turned into a fairy, she could also run Aura of Soothing when racing. I think she would be a pretty good candidate for the perfect jockey. But, I don't know if I will have the time or energy to play her for a while.

Hope my ramblings can be helpful to someone  :)
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Offline Agathon

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Re: Experiences on the International Racetrack
« Reply #1 on: August 22, 2016, 05:03:44 AM »
A couple of points I forgot to mention, and some scattered advice:

Cheating

I limit myself to resetting horses and sims, and two more things: 1) Applying the Everlasting Joy moodlet. I've had all sorts of problems with the lamp genies due to Twallan's Story Progression/Register. Once they're summoned, they are immediately assigned to a job (usually a cashier job), and rush off before I can even talk to them. Later, problems ensue with them not aging up and not showing up at work, while the lamp remains unusable. The moodlet disappears if resetting sims, which becomes very frustrating. 2) Pollinating horses. After breeding "naturally" for the first generations, I could no longer stand the chaos of trying over and over to mate the horses in the box stall.

Unicorns vs Regular Horses

Unicorns have no advantage in races. Their "super speed" does nothing when competing. The only advantages offered by Unicorns are their long lifespan, which means less time spent on training, and the blessing. 90% of the trophies seen were won without using the blessing, so you can do very well indeed with a regular horse, the difference is marginal.

Horses, multiple gates

If you have multiple gates on your property, and send out a horse and rider to go somewhere, they will gallop to the front gate before proceeding "off-property". At Memory Lane, one would think that having the horse area and gate at the left side of the property, closer to the riding center, would be more efficient, but it would make no difference. The rider would then gallop to the front gate (which here is a Greenhorn gate) then double back.

Give birth at home

If you send your buffed-up rider to the hospital, even if they're just driving the mother, you'll find moodlets missing when the birth is done. Quite frustrating if you've just spent the better part of a day at the spa.

Let your rider sleep

Alyssina, which we met above, made one critical mistake for the better part of her career: She didn't sleep. She wanted to be a blockbuster writer, and with all the time spent on the horses, she used the family Motive Mobile to keep going around the clock, missing out on a easy-to-get moodlet.

Horses wanting to nap outside the enclosure

I struggled with this problem for generations. The horses would approach a gate they could not pass, as if they wanted to nap inside the house. The problem seemed to reoccur each time I loaded a save. Queuing the nap command, or resetting the horse, would eventually solve the problem. I tried rebuilding fences and gates countless times, to no avail. The Sultan's Tabernacle looks a bit stupid in the enclosure, but is permanently there for a reason: After I set it up, all napping problems have completely disappeared!

Horses running through fences

This is also something I struggled with for a long time. My advice would be to keep decorations along the fences to a minimum, and really stack them up where you use them. Keep some distance between the fence and the house, and do not make the house a part of the fence, unless you want to see things like this:

Maestro.jpg
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Offline FrancescaFiori

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Re: Experiences on the International Racetrack
« Reply #2 on: August 22, 2016, 11:35:54 AM »
Wow! This is really interesting and very detailed. It's obvious you put a lot of work into it, and I thank you very much for sharing what you've learned!
I haven't played with horses much at all, but this really makes me want to give it a try. I will definitely be coming back to this post for wisdom when I do!


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Offline Agathon

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Re: Experiences on the International Racetrack
« Reply #3 on: August 22, 2016, 02:08:35 PM »
Thanks, I'm glad if my experiences can help or inspire. Feel free to ask any questions. I've found there's plenty of room for role-play even in a racing-obsessed family, and it's quite emotional when a rider parts with his/her horse after all that time, and all those races.
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Offline Agathon

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Re: Experiences on the International Racetrack
« Reply #4 on: August 23, 2016, 06:09:13 PM »
The Races in more detail

I thought I'd put together some images from actual races, to better explain their nature. Finding a total of one image through google, I rushed Danielle into some showjumping action to produce some more.

1) Racing (RA)
Regular races are very different from showjumping or cross-country. You will quickly rocket up the standings, and with a somewhat buffed horse and rider, you are guaranteed to reach 2nd place. This can happen as early as half-way through the race. You might also get to 1st, and then drop to 2nd again, but don't fret about it. Keep taking risks if you're in 2nd or lower, steady pace if you're in first, and don't use go for broke until you get to the critical stage (more on that below).

I said earlier that a moderately buffed rider (not discounting training, location, etc) could expect to win about 70%. If anything, this is a bit conservative, and could well be higher. My "racers" have always been last in line (during some periods I've raced 3 horses each night) for getting moodlets, and I've never RA'd (or SJ'd) a superbuffed (the whole moodlet package) jockey. I suspect that such a jockey could win 90%+. Danielle, who is superbuffed, did her first race as an International RA, and she won easily.

2) Showjumping (SJ)
Compared to RA, this is a slow, slow crawl. You will gradually move up the standings, and normally be at 7th place half-way. You'll be stuck at 7th for a while, and there's nothing you can do about it. What counts, is when you hit 3rd place, and what you do afterwards. After one advanced win, Danielle hit the international SJ, and we'll see how she fared:

The Goth International

Goth1.jpg

To have some sort of yardstick, let's use the lettering "International Show..." etc. Here, she has just hit 3rd, and she's at the "e" (in "competition"). This is quite early, and promising. In SJ, you can reasonably expect to hit 2nd with take risk at some point, the only question is when. I leave her on take risk, hoping it won't take too long.

Goth2.jpg

She's just hit 2nd, but it's getting close. Now, I want to switch to go for broke, but like I said earlier, you have to let the race bar tick on a little. How much? About 2 letters in our yardstick. In this race, it did nothing, and she stayed 2nd.

The Gonzales International, and the critical zone

Gonzales2.jpg

In this race, she hit 3rd at the second "o", a bit later than in the Goth race, and I let it tick about two letters. Once we're past the letters, we're in the critical zone, and a choice must be made: Continue with take risk, hoping to get to 2nd before it's too late, or go for broke from here.

If this was RA, and I was 2nd (or 3rd in the CC), I'd go for broke here. In SJ, the choice is difficult. Winning from 2nd is much easier than winning from 3rd, so it's tempting to keep taking risk, but there's two ways to win with go for broke: The double-jump (from 3rd to 1st), and the gradual climb. If you leave go for broke any later than this, you will not win through a gradual climb. Here, I went for broke, got to 2nd, and stayed there.

The Copur International

Like in the Goth, she hit 3rd at the "e", well and early. This time, I resolved to let her stay on take risk until hitting 2nd. But it didn't happen, and with just a fraction of the race left, hit go for broke in frustration...

Copur1.jpg

...and got the double-jump and her first SJ win. Chances of a double jump from 3rd, maybe 10-15%, but happens more often when the moodlets are really stacked on.

3) Cross-country (CC)
The CC is almost identical to the SJ. The same crawl, only even slower, the same stuck on 7th place, the occasional jump from 6th to 4th. The crucial difference is that you simply can't count on reaching 2nd place (using take risk) in time to win the race, if at all. You will hit 3rd later than in the SJ, and you must go for broke from 3rd, allowing only the slight tick after you reach 3rd. It is very, very hard.

---

Though Danielle was fairly successful despite having limited time with Minotaur (few jumps, long-term relationship not maxed), remember that she is a freak, racing at a 600+ mood, with at least a further 125+ for the horse.


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