What if you could blend crypto gaming, horse racing, and NFTs into a single online experience?
Zen Run does exactly that, bringing together the excitement of horse racing with blockchain technology.
With Zed Run, you can create a virtual stable and buy, breed, and race digital horses to bring home the gold in the next big online race.
Here’s what you need to know to play Zed Run using your Ethereum blockchain wallet and the Polygon network.
What Is Zed Run?
Zed Run is an online digital horse racing game that works with the Ethereum blockchain. With Zed Run, you can breed, buy, sell horses in your free virtual stable.
Each horse is stored as an NFT in a connected Ethereum wallet. By using MetaMask or a compatible browser extension crypto wallet, you can connect to Zed Run and compatible NFT marketplaces.
If you think your horse has a chance of placing, you can also enter it in a race, which is streamed live on Twitch on the Zed Run channel. Competitive races require a small entry fee in real U.S. dollars, and the winners get a share of the prize pool. Free races are available as well to train your horses.
Anyone into online gaming, crypto games, or horse racing could find Zed Run a fun online adventure.
And if you play your cards right, you can earn a profit from breeding new horses, selling horses on a marketplace, and winning live Zen Run races.
How Does Zed Run Work?
Zen Run is an Ethereum game that works best with MetaMask, though I was able to use the compatible Brave wallet to create a stable with no issues.
You can also create an account using your email address and a Magic Link account. For Cult of Money readers, we recommend using MetaMask or a similar wallet.
As for buying your first Zed Run horses, your best option is to use the NFT marketplace OpenSea. This is the primary marketplace for Zed Run horses, and as of this writing, more than 14,000 users own over 131,000 items in the Zed Run collection.
Horses start with a floor price of 0.005 ETH, worth about $15 currently. The biggest recent sale was for 14 ETH, or nearly $40,000. That’s serious money. Just note that when buying on OpenSea, Zed Run gets a 2.5% royalty.
Buying a Zed Run horse on OpenSea also takes a bit of work.
OpenSea required converting the ETH-based horse into Polygon. The ETH gas fees I paid roughly doubled the cost of my $15 purchase to $31 USD. Once your transaction completes, with can take up to 45 minutes, you should see the new Zed Run NFT in your online stable.
Once you own a horse, you can register for paid or free races, which run on the Twitch channel.
The races you can enter depend on your horse’s rating and abilities. Additionally, recently run horses get tired and don’t perform as well. Overall, it's fairly comparible to actual horse racing, except it’s a blockchain-powered cartoon video game.
I entered my horse Marley Edmonds into a free race, which doesn’t count toward the win and loss record but helps with the horse’s statistics and conditioning.
If you were wondering, my horse placed 9th. I was fifth going into the final stretch, and overall, I need to train my horse with more races to become a winner.
Breeding & Trading Digital Horse NFTs
New horses are created through virtual breeding. Currently, there are four different bloodlines for Zed Run horses:
- Nakamoto: This is the rarest Zed Run bloodline, and there are only 2,000 Nakamoto horses in the entire Zed Run ecosystem.
- Szabo: Another rare Zed Run bloodline but not as exclusive as the Nakamoto thoroughbreds.
- Finney: A less-rare but still competitive racing bloodline.
- Buterin: The most common bloodline in Zed Run.
When breeding horses on Zed Run, you can add your horse to a stud farm to pick a mate for your horse NFT.
Stud fees range from around $30 for newer horses to over $2,000 for winners. But for the rarest Zed Run horses, you might find stud fees of thousands of dollars or more on the marketplace.
Breeding cycles are limited to three offspring per month for a male horse and one for a female. Breeding relies on the Matic blockchain and doesn’t require any gas fees.
These are the most important traits for each horse:
- Ability Score
- Distance Preference
- Fatigue Factor (this feature hasn't been implemented yet)
There are other factors that influence how your horse races as well. For example, horses have genotypes that indicate how pure the bloodline is. Additionally, Zed Run horses are one of six possible breeds.
The six breeds in order of most rare to least rare are:
There are 38,000 original Genesis racehorses, and many more have been created since.
Finally, horses also have a gender and can be classified as a colt, stallion, philly, or mare depending on if they have offspring or not.
Is Zed Run A Good Investment?
Crypto games are incredibly popular because they let you own your in-game assets. In turn, you can sell off your valuable digital items for cryptocurrency and even convert that crypto into real cash.
For example, play-to-earn crypto games like Decentraland and The Sandbox let players earn NFTs of virtual real estate and in-game cosmetic items.
Zed Run is in a similar class of games, and the fact you own NFTs of digital race horses is exciting.
But can you actually make money playing Zed Run?
Well, Zed Run adds one crucial element into the crypto gaming model that’s different: gambling.
If you enter races with prize pools, you can make money on Zed Run. But this means your horse has to win, and even a prized thoroughbred can have a bad day at the digital race track, leaving you empty handed.
It’s possible to make money on Zed Run through charging stud fees, but again, you need a rare, desirable horse to attract buyers. Finally, you can always try buying and flipping Zed Run horses by selling rare horses to other owners.
However, the bottom line is that making money with racing on Zed Run is similar to regular horse betting. Yes, you can strike it rich, but chances are, a slim percentage of players with the very best horses are dominating many of the races.
The Bottom Line
Web3 games take a little bit of time to learn, and you have to figure out how to connect your MetaMask or similar wallet and learn how to play.
But while I didn’t find Zed Run game immediately intuitive, it didn’t take long to figure out and start playing.
Hopefully, my horse will earn me a few ETH, but even if it doesn’t, it’s a fun online game and enjoyable blockchain gaming experience.
Just remember that there are so many other play-to-earn crypto games out there to explore, like Axie Infinity or The Sandbox. But if you like the thrill of horse betting, Zed Run is definitely the game for you.
Eric Rosenberg is a financial writer, speaker, and consultant based in Ventura, California. He holds an undergraduate finance degree from the University of Colorado and an MBA in finance from the University of Denver. After working as a bank manager and then nearly a decade in corporate finance and accounting, Eric left the corporate world for full-time online self-employment. His work has been featured in online publications including Business Insider, Nerdwallet, Investopedia, The Balance, HuffPo, Investor Junkie, and other fine financial blogs and publications. When away from the computer, he enjoys spending time with his wife and three children, traveling the world, and tinkering with technology. Connect with him and learn more at EricRosenberg.com.