Hyperspace Beacon: Beating the system in the new SWTOR event
​I'm not a huge fan of gambling in general. "The house always wins" isn't a motto, it's the truth. But if you have fun while you're doing it, then it's fine that the house wins. However, I don't have fun playing most gambling games, especially the overly simplistic ones like slot machines. Some gambling establishments will claim to have the loosest slots in the business, but I can tell you that the slot machines in Club Vertigo and the Star Cluster Casino are not that loose. But there is a best way to play the game.

On June 10th, Star Wars: The Old Republic launches Update 2.8: Spoils of War, and the casino event called the Festival of Splendor along with most of the patch already resides on the public test server. Over the last week or so, Voidmynx (a.k.a Laura Williams from Gamebreaker's The Republic and HSB Sci-Fi MMO Show) and I have tried multiple methods to beat the slots. And I believe we've found a decent one.

First, I'd like to tell you what you're trying to win with these slots. If you're anything like me, clicking on slot machines doesn't exactly sound like a whole lot of fun unless the payoff is worth it. For me, the payoff sits right on the border between being a great event and a great waste of time. You'll see why I say that when I list the prizes and the chances to win.

Before I begin, I want you to understand that like any gambling event, it is a credit sink. It's designed to be a credit sink, but at the same time, it can be fun.

Machines and prizes
The Smuggler's Luck slot machines cost the least. Each token is 1,000 credits and there is a higher chance to win something. According to SWTOR_miner on Reddit, every time you play you only have 29.68% chance of losing. Most of the time you will earn your token back (50%). Then you have a 10% chance to get your token back and get a "Feeling Lucky" buff. (More on that later.) You have a 5% chance to get a Kingpin Token or double your chips back. But what about the other .32%? The Jackpot on the Smuggler's Luck slots is a Golden Certificate that you can use to buy items from the vendors. Players have a .3% chance of getting one of those, and if you're really (un)lucky your slot machine could explode (.02%).

At the Kingpin Slot machines, you get the real prizes. At the vendor the tokens cost 50,000 credits -- obviously, for the high rollers. Your chances of winning improve if you have the "Feeling Lucky" buff from the Smuggler's Luck machines. Your most likely scenario is to get a free token if you don't have the buff (50%). But just under that are the two lose scenarios at 22.83% and 22.85% chance. But you do have a 4% chance to win a certificate, which is much better than on a Smuggler's Luck machine. You can also win a Vectron Opus speeder (.23%) or the ultimate prize, the Kingpin Rancor (.07%). Of course, you also have a .02% chance that the machine will explode.

Things change when you have a "Feeling Lucky" buff. You have a 64.81% chance of a free play, only a 29.59% chance of losing, a 5.18% chance of getting a certificate, a .298% chance for the Opus, and a .09% chance for the Rancor. If you're looking forward to the machine exploding, then you have a slightly better chance at that happening (.026%).

Risk and reward
If you were to monetize the prizes based on the cost of the token, then some prizes might seem way out of reach.

With no buffs at all, a Vecton Opus is worth about 10.9 million credits or 5.9 million with a "Feeling Lucky" buff (plus the cost of the buff which is 5k credits on average). A Rancor, however, will cost about 19.5 million credits with a buff or 35.7 million credits without. But the real thing to watch is the cost of a Kingpin token. On the vendor, they sell for 50k credits, but on average they will only cost 10k on Smuggler's Luck machines.

Of course, it takes longer to earn tokens on the Smuggler's Luck machine, but in the long run you have to measure if you have more time than money or more money than time. For instance, if you want a Kingpin Rancor, it would only cost you approximately 4 million credits, but it could easily take you 10 times as long to get it.

My strategy is simple
I personally don't think that it's worth paying to play the Kingpin slot machines, ever. In the hours that I played on the PTS, I spent about 20 million credits buying Kingpin tokens, I received a good amount of certificates and one Opus, but no Rancor. Laura spent twice as much in Kingpin tokens, received two Opuses, a ton of certs, and the machine blew up on her. But she never received a Rancor.

The biggest thing to keep in mind is that you have the same chance to win every single time. Whether it's your first or 500th time clicking on the Kingpin slot machine, you still only have a .09% chance of winning a rancor at most.

Don't blow your money on Kingpin tokens. When I bought 50 Smuggler tokens which is equal to one Kingpin token, I was able to earn no less than 10 Kingpin tokens every time. My strategy is to just play the Smuggler's Luck slots, then the last day of the event, spend all the Kingpin tokens burning a hole in my pocket. I will likely not win a Rancor, but I will have just as much of chance to win as anyone.

I'll see you at the slots in a couple of weeks. May the Force be with you.

The Hyperspace Beacon by Larry Everett is your guide to the vast galaxy of BioWare's Star Wars: The Old Republic. If you have comments or suggestions for the column, send a transmission to larry@massively.com. Now strap yourself in, kid -- we gotta make the jump to hyperspace!

This article was originally published on Massively.