Tournament prizes are of two varieties. First is the type that gives a warrior a temporary benefit. The second, more powerful type, is the type that permanently alter a warrior’s long-term potential. A sub-category of this second type are the ‘freak’ prizes, i.e. those prizes that allow the creation of a warrior that could not naturally exist.
Some tournament prizes are designed to only give a temporary benefit to a warrior. Immortality is such a prize. Once the warrior reaches ADM, the prize is null and void. The ten skill boost to learned skills is another such prize. It puts the warrior ahead of his peers, but in the long run, it does not change what the warrior will eventually become. The 87-point warrior is another example. Along with the stat-swap prize and DYO, they just give you an extraordinarily good starting warrior, but do not change what the warrior can eventually become. Resurrection is just limited immortality. The five train prize is also a temporary one since those trains will come eventually anyway.
The more powerful class of tournament prizes change the long-term potential of a warrior. The most famous example of this was the prize that added 5 skills to a warrior’s base ratings. That problem was fixed in Gateway, but it still exists in Primus. Another example is the style-swap prize. This prize allows the most skilled fighting styles to get rid of their only weakness, endurance burn. Another long-term prize is the favorites prize. This prize allows a warrior to gain a favorite weapon, rhythm, or tactics that he could not naturally get. All of these prizes allow the creation of ‘freak’ warriors. A freak is a warrior that could not naturally exist. An example would be a wall of steel fighter with very high/very high for a favorite rhythm, or a lunger getting a scimitar favorite (although there are a few running that got this favorite naturally in the old days). Another long-term altering prize is the size prize. This allows a warrior to increase his damage class rating beyond what would have been possible for his previous size. However, this does not create a freak warrior since any warrior grown is simply gaining what a warrior of the new size would naturally have. For instance, a warrior grown from size 6 to size 7 would lose a defense and parry skill, but would also gain awesome damage capability. He is still the equivalent of any warrior born at size 7. The freaks are those warriors that are shrunk, because RSI allows them to keep the damage ratings attained at the larger size, then gain the skills of the lower size. (Example: A size 7 warrior gets Devastating damage, then is shrunk to size 4: He gets to keep Devastating damage while gaining two more parry and defense skills, thus creating a warrior that could not naturally exist, a freak.)
What of the worth of the various tourney prizes? As always, worth is in the coinpurse of the buyer, but in general, some prizes are worth more than others. The most desired prizes (and thus the most valuable) are those that change the long-term potential of a warrior. The favorites prize falls into this category, with the latest offering retailing for around $700 per potion (and there’s three potions per prize!). The bonus potions sold for about $600 per potion. If the style swap were offered again, I’m sure it would command a greater sum. The size potions can go for a couple hundred apiece, and again there are three potions per prize. The stat train prize is a lot less valuable since the trains will come anyway, and it should go for $50-$75 per potion (but there’s five potions to this one). The limited use prizes (resurrection, immortality, swap, 87-point, etc.) will generally sell for around $250 per prize.
Some prizes are more valuable not for what they can do for a warrior’s long term potential but rather for what they can do for a manager’s short term potential to TC. The 10 skill prize was such a prize, as is the 5 stat train prize. Both give a temporary boost to a warrior, but that temporary boost can give a huge advantage over the warrior’s peers. These prizes become even more valuable for TC purposes when RSI fails to put proper restrictions on them. If a winner of multiple 10 skill prizes is allowed to put 20 skills on a single warrior, it gives that warrior a gigantic advantage in an apprentice or initiate tournament.
The real key to tournament prizes, in my opinion, is using them to generate more tournament prizes. Tournament prizes allow you to maintain a stronger stable of warriors than your competitors, and thus give you increased odds to garner more prizes. The best use of tournament prizes is using them in tandem with each other. Resurrection can be used to get back that really blessed, great physicals warrior that got unlucky enough to die, and then immortality can ensure he gets his chance to TC Freshmen, ADM, or Eligibles. The 10 skill prize can be used to give your apprentice a boost, but if it’s used on a favorites modified warrior, he can be a TC contender for adepts and champions as well. Or, as I did, you can take a very developed warrior, give him favorites to make him better, then give him growth potions to put him over the top. The two prizes I’ve used on Psycho Scientist have generated three TC’s in return (so far). One key to discovering these clever uses of TC prizes is to think about where the prizes can be used beyond the obvious first choices. One example is the 5 stat train prize. The most obvious use for that prize is on a warrior in ADM that is blowing out to try to TC either Freshmen, ADM, or Eligibles. Taking that 20 wit (trained from 17) to 25 instantly gives a huge boost to your TC contender. But, what if-what if you won two prizes, 10 potions? How good could a double 21 apprentice be if you took away his only weakness, lack of con? That was what struck me prior to the tourney where RSI offered that prize. Fortunately for me, I happened to win three tournaments and got 15 potions. The timing was such that I also was able to resurrect a dead clone to use the potions on. He was the perfect warrior for this purpose: a double 21 lunger that started with 23 attack skills, 81 overall. He also had riposte as a favorite learn, perfect for a high con lunger. All you have to do is miss once, then he sends his gigantic attack back at you. The rest is Cosmic Hammer history. I had successfully gotten on the TC merry-go-round where TC prizes generate more TC prizes.
Winning tournaments never gets old, and neither does trying to think up combinations of tournament prize use. It varies depending on what RSI offers when, but there are always some interesting and powerful combinations to be had, whatever the prizes involved.