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Zed.Run Flames Explained (Strategy For the Post-Odds World)

Before we get started, I want to make one thing very clear.

These are my personal thoughts and how I understand the game of Zed.Run to work.

Most of what you will read below is personal theory based off of a mixture of what the Zed team has told us, experience with playing the game, and learning from third-party tools and other people’s analysis. I will try to be clear about when I am quoting from each certain information source.

Pretty much nothing that you read here is guaranteed to be correct. It is also not a guarantee that things will stay the same forever in the future. These are my opinions – nothing more…. If you are able to put them to good use: Perfect.

What Are Zed.Run Flames?

If you’ve been living under a rock on Novus Earth; you might not know what all the commotion is about.

3 things are happening today when Racing opens back up on August 24th, 2021:

#1. Odds have been removed

#2. Flames have been added

#3. Fatigue has been introduced (and Queues shortened to 10 mins thanks to Fatigue)

These changes have massive implications on how we play Zed.Run and need to be studied carefully, in my opinion, if you want to be successful in this atmosphere.

This article focuses on Flames. However, you will not really have a great understanding of Flames if you don’t first understand Odds… Here’s our article on that: The Odd Things About Zed.Run Odds.

Having read that, you should understand that Odds are an imperfect measure of how likely a horse is to win any given race.

As the team tells us: Flames will be awarded to the “top three most likely racehorses that are considered to place (in position 1, 2, or 3) in a given race.

That’s a significant drop-off in information from Odds. In the Odds Era, we got a number displayed for each horse from the favorite all the way down who might have a ‘6.23’ to the least likely horse to win who might have a ‘45.62’.

In the Flames Era, 3 horses get flames… 9 don’t. That’s it.

It’s also extremely important to note that these 3 horses with flames are not necessarily the 3 horses who would have had the best Odds if we could still see them.

This is a common misconception because many times these will line up closely; however it is not always the case.

At an extreme level; you could even see a 45-odds horse who gets a flame because he is still more likely to finish in 2nd or 3rd than the rest of the field is.

I think the most important thing that we don’t know exactly how this information is being generated.

The team has said that ‘1000 simulations’ of the race are being run and that’s what gave us Odds.

However, we know that wasn’t necessarily a perfect system and we don’t know if this is similarly how these Flame “Simulation Placements of 1st, 2nd, and 3rd” are being generated.

It’s a huge part of the mystery of Zed.

We need to at least imagine the way these races and horses are designed to think properly about Horses and Odds. Let’s get that out of the way first; and then we can get into Strategy & Meaning of Flames, Odds, Speeds, and more in specific horses.

How Does Zed.Run Pick the Winner of These Races Anyway?



I have adjusted this theory based on information from many players and third-party tools, notably KYH, Hawku, Danshan and GBR and countless friends!

Picture yourself in Las Vegas….

The sun is shining.

Beautiful people are drinking poolside underneath massive hotels with different themed designs. People on the street are dancing, juggling, selling t-shirts, and probably sticking some of those famous business cards in everyone’s hands as well.

You can’t see any of that.

Because you are staring at the world’s largest roulette wheel numbered 1-1000. And standing in front of that extremely large roulette wheel is your favorite Zed.Run Horse.

Your Zed.Run Horse is standing in front of this wheel – and he’s got a strategy that never ever changes.

Each spin, he plays each of the 1,000 numbers with a different bet amount. He puts anywhere from $0-$100 on each number. On #1, he puts $25. On #2, he puts $75. On #3, he puts $40. And on and on until he gets to 1,000.

There are 11 other horses all putting their bets down on this large wheel too. This is how I picture the ‘1000 race sim period’ that Zed talks about.

When all these horses have their bets down; the Roulette Wheel spins (the Race starts) and the horse who has the most money on whatever random number it lands on (527 in this example) wins.

Your horse only put $15 on #527 … so it comes in 11th place.

Now, all of these horses almost certainly have different ‘bankrolls’ that they can use to play the wheel, which is probably tied to their Breed Type, Blood Type, Genotype, Parents DNA, etc.

This would explain why some horses have 600 Class Points and why some have never won a single race. However, it also explains the Variance or ‘Ability Deviation’ seen in horses (the Zed Team has said this is ‘randomly assigned at birth’) and would explain why some horses are U-Shaped and others seem to be A-Shaped.

Basically, let’s say your horse has a $50,000 Budget for his 1,000 ‘Wheel Numbers’. How much is assigned to #1, #333, or #928 is what is said to be ‘randomly assigned’ at birth and that is why Breeding seems random so far — because most “Budgets” are too similar to really show much difference..

It also explains why those A-Shaped horses can dominate against lesser competition; but struggle as they rise in class.

Think about it. Using that $100 scale; a dominant U-Shaped horse probably has ‘Wheel Numbers’ that are either being bet with $95 or $5. It comes in 1st place if it hits a number that has a $95 bet on it, or it comes in 12th place if it hits a number that has a $5 bet on it.

It also explains why some A-Shaped Horses can dominate in a lower class but not as it rises against better competition. Maybe that horse is betting $65 on every single ‘Wheel Number’ so against poor horses – it could be competing against horses who have a $20-70 budget and it does great.

When that horse gets up to Class 3, it is going to face Horses who have maybe a $50-80 budget. Suddenly… that $65 bet doesn’t get us much other than 2nd, 3rd, or even 4th place.

We even got a peek behind this curtain when Horses like ‘Roid Rager’ and ‘Escobar’ were born. These were famous horses that were given the DNA of 4 parents instead of 2 parents. Why were they so dominant?

Because they had twice the budget as any ‘mortal’ horse might have. And why was ‘Escobar’ able to lose with 4 parents? Because even with 2x of a Budget; he still could come in 2nd (which he did 6 of 22 times) if he spun a number on that Giant Roulette Wheel that he didn’t bet quite high enough on.

This Roulette Wheel example also would explain the ‘phenomenon’ of Spook Horses. (one horse who’s odds suffer greatly from another specific horse entering a race with him) In this example; Horses who get ‘spooked’ might have $87 placed on all of the same ‘Wheel Numbers’ that their Rival has $88 on. This explains why they are ‘magnetized’ and can never/very rarely beat certain horses at certain distances.

Are there limitations? Yes.

Of course, I only used one Roulette Wheel in this article.

We know there are 9 different Distances in Zed Races from 1000m all the way to 2600m. Personally, I picture that as 9 different Wheels. Most likely, these different distances use some sort of multiplication factor which is why we see goofy things happen at 1600m where Distance Preference is said to be ‘turned off’.

Another limitation is the issue of time, or speed. We still haven’t been given a good explanation about how times are being assigned to Horses other than to say that 12-way ties exist and Speed doesn’t seem to be a completely independent variable, but it doesn’t seem to mean nothing either. The fastest (and slowest) Race times correlate in a huge way to some of the best horses in the game.

We’ve been told by the team that where your horse breaks in a race may or may not matter and we’re still awaiting clarification on what is correct in that sense.

Personally, I think that there is still some kind of multiplication or scaling factor that we are not being shown when we see Odds OR Flames when it comes to the Individual Preferences of a Horse.

It would seem too easy to simply run some data analysis on Odds if this were the case and the game would be ‘solved’, so Zed definitely has some incentive to keep a few things hidden for sure.

So keep in mind — outliers are going to exist. But this is what I believe to be the basic principle of Zed.Run and I’m going to use this information to speak about Flames, Odds, and YOUR HORSE so that you can make informed decisions in your Stable.

Using Zed.Run Flames Effectively

With the Roulette example in mind; how can we use Flames to our best advantage when playing Zed.Run?

Let’s start here:

#1. Flames correlate heavily with Top 3 Positions…. and to a lesser extent – Winning

We expect to see this heavy correlation between Show % and Fire %.

#2. However, Flames alone do NOT necessarily mean that you have a profitable horse

We have seen many examples of 45-odds Horses (0% Win Chance) getting Flames and even a 54-odds horse in a Griffin who pulled a Flame and came in 3rd.

Look at a horse with 10% Fire Rate. It COULD have a Max Win Rate of 25%.

Look at a horse with 90% Fire Rate. It COULD win as little as 4% of the time.

This does NOT mean it is a good idea to race a Horse who’s only benefit is coming in 2nd or 3rd. Almost all of the time, you need to win to be profitable in Zed.Run. 1st Place matters most. Period.

That’s why valuations shouldn’t change simply just because one horse has a 70% Flame Rate or another has a 20% Flame Rate. If we’re talking about an “Odds Era” horse, you should already be able to judge its Placements and see if it’s going to come in 2nd and 3rd Place enough to justify some more profits.

#3. Many U-Shape Horses will not get Flames that often

Here is a picture of “The Mauve Avenger” who is a horse that I personally own. He’s a Class 5 U-Shape Horse who is slightly profitable. He’s not a monster, but he can win Races based on his odds…. and he’s got a Fire Rate of 14%.

That seems like a bad ‘revelation’ as Flames came out today, but as long as he can keep up a 13% Win Rate and a 30% Show Rate; he should be completely fine.

It’s interesting to see a Show Rate that high; which is something we’ll have to keep digging into as we learn how Odds, Flames, and Placements interact.

#4. The best players will use Odds, Placement, Flames, Speed Analysis, and a good understanding of Variance to learn their horses.

It’s pretty clear at this point that most of these metrics have high correlation with each other. It’s not very clear what causes what, but to a certain extent – that doesn’t even matter.

Horses who have run plenty of Races in the Odds Era are going to have a natural advantage; probably for a long time.

However, you should absolutely be checking everything when deciding to run your horse or especially when buying or selling.

You need to look at:

  • your Placements in a fair # of Races
  • your Odds (if applicable)
  • Fire Rate
  • Speed Analysis Graph on KYH
  • ROI

For my money, you can’t just ask: “What’s a good Fire Rate”?

That doesn’t have an acceptable answer without looking at the full profile of the Horse and seeing if it has good Placements, a possible U-Shape, or fast/slow outlier Race Times.

You can’t judge a book by its cover; and you can’t truly just a Zed Horse by any one of these metrics.

#5. We should try to compare our Zed Horses who have Odds to those who don’t to try to get a better image of what the newer horse is capable of

One of the great things about Flames is that they ‘back-filled’ Flames Data so that we have Fire Rates available for all of the Races that have been run on Zed.Run so far.

Now, this isn’t a method you can run 1 Race with and think it’ll be 100% accurate by any means; but one strategy when you start racing a newly bred Zed Horse without Odds is to start to determine whether it is a U-Shape or an A-Shape Horse.

Once you have that in mind; you can then race it against a horse that you own that fits a similar profile to try to see if your new horse might get Flames in similar environments. That’s not a perfect idea and many may not have enough horses in their Stable to match up properly; but it’s going to be one learning tool that we can use in an environment that is extremely limited.

You can always use a friend’s horse or a Horse that runs a lot and has a lot of data on KYH/Hawku to accomplish the same thing.

#6. It just got a lot more expensive to learn your horse… Dig In!

Remember ‘The Mauve Avenger’ from above? He has what I consider a decent small .025 ETH ($83 USD) profit after 150 Races and a 18% ROI because he was running almost all $2.50 Paid Races.

Well…. here’s ‘Mauve’ after his first 26 Races:

Keep in mind what we would be able to see without the Odds data here.

As far as negatives go: We’d have a -65% ROI, an 11% Fire Rate, and a 0% Win Rate.

The only real positives you’d be able to see would be the twelve Placements in 11th or 12th and the 3 2nd Places which could lead you to start thinking you have a bit of a U-Shape forming? But that’s pretty tenuous.

We’d have 3 Flames in Races where ‘Mauve’ finished in 9th and 12th and 12th, again leading us to think that we may be having some bad Variance.

Overall, the point I’m making here is that it’s a much tougher road to evaluating your horses before you get to maybe 50-75 Races?

People who can use the Factors I mentioned above will find some steals on the Market.

#7. Flames Are Temporary!

It’s important to keep in mind that Flames are a temporary measure by Zed.

The team has mentioned multiple times that they felt Odds needed ‘pulled’ for the benefit of the game. Their biggest buzzword was ‘discoverability’, meaning that now it’s going to be a bit harder to find out more information about your Zed Horse.

They’re not wrong — this is definitely harder! But it doesn’t have to be seen as a negative; you just want to make sure you’re using all of the data you have available to you to come out ahead in the Flames Era.

Flames WILL be leaving some day — being replaced by what Zed has called a “Rating based on Historical Racing Data”. So if you plan on sticking around in Novus Earth; you better be ready to adapt the change and use all available data to get those advantages!


Hopefully this article helped you learn about Flames and Racing Strategy in Zed.Run.

If you have thoughts or questions — please leave them in the Comments below!

The best way to grow is to learn from each other!

Twitter: @ZedGuruOfficial

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