Tuesday, October 27

Pumpkin Carving - W101

Happy Halloween everyone!

Just wanted to take a moment to wish everyone a safe and fun holiday, and to share my Wizard101 pumpkin carving experiment. Anyone else done a Wizard101 themed pumpkin? I would love to see them!

Thursday, October 15

Halloween Havoc! - A Special PvP Tournament

What is Halloween Havoc!?

Good question. To participate, you must be wearing some type of Halloween item. This includes any of the special costumes from Spooky Bob, or Pumpkin Heads from boss drops, or the Black Cat pet. One item only is all that is required. That covers the Halloween part...

Now for the Havoc! All Hats, Robes, Shoes may not give ANY stats boost. All of the Halloween clothing is free of stats increases, so to keep if fair, NO STATS BOOSTS from these items. That means if you only have the Pumpkin Head to wear, you will have to wear your school robes and shoes that were issued to you when you enrolled. Yes that means no arena or crown gear.

The Halloween wands do not offer any bonus pips...so any wand used, may not have a bonus pip/power pip with it.

The Black Cat pet comes with one card. So any pet that comes with a single card is acceptable...IF it doesn't offer any other stats increases.

So, can you handle the Havoc!?

View all Wizard101 Central Tournaments Here

Tuesday, October 13

The Quest I Love to Hate

I have had several quests over the course of building my wizards that have had their turn atop my list of most despised quests.

Initially, it was the double trips through the Vault of Ice...

Then, it was the back and forth between the family tombs in the Temple of Storms...

Then I go to Marley Bone, and that snooty Doolittle took to prize....and she has held if for a very long time.

I think she has finally be dethroned however...by Mr. Freddy Ninelives. I've had to go through him before, but for some reason, this time it was different. Oh, I know why it was different...because I logged on planning to do a quick quest and log back off. My heart sank when I realized what the next item on my wizards agenda was. Already in a not so happy mood with the quest, I decided I would go ahead and get the agony over with...after all, I already had my level thirty-three spell, as I had been avoiding this one!

Somewhere around the third battle, I was banging my head on my desk from the monotony. After all, where is the thrill of battle when you only put the 4 cards in your deck you know you need to win (and that is overkill).

By the sixth battle I was almost in tears from the pain...both physical (my head was really hurting by then), and the emotional stress of knowing that I had to do it three more times after that.

So for the last three, I took out all the cards from my deck, with the exception of reshuffle, and a Satyr so I could heal myself before the next torture session started, and beat him to a pulp with nothing but wand cards. While it changed up the battle, and actually amused me, it also made the entire process MUCH longer.

Anyway, Mr. Ninelives...Welcome to the throne. I hope it is a long time before I have to deal with you again. Does anyone know if a Balance wizard has to deal with this guy?

Friday, October 9

Political Content Warning!

Most of the younger crowd may not find any interest in this, but some of my fellow elderly wizards might.

The wife stumbled across this site today called Break It Apart. It is geared toward allowing quick digestion of the bills running through government. Their slogan is, "What Legislators won't do, We must do."

If you have any interest in politics, you should give this a look.

I promise, I'll go back to Wizard101 related content on my next post.

Link to Break It Apart -> http://aparate.me/s7

Tuesday, October 6

Too much like gambling for a kids site

This was an interesting post on Wizard101 Central comparing the Wishing Well to a slot machine. If you haven't read it, you should.

My thoughts on it are below.

I have to agree on the OP on this one. I can drop a couple crowns in the well and hope for a Dampen Magic card, or I can drop a couple of quarters into the slot machine and hope for a large cash win. I see the direct correlation here.

I know that several months ago, someone else here made a suggestion that I thought was wonderful. They suggested that KI provide a place for us to deposit those few extra crowns, and that KI would then turn those into a donation to a charity, or split among a couple of charities. And if those charities were directed at helping kids, all the better.

So keep the wishing well, let us decide how many crows we want to throw in, and don't give us any reward for doing this. After all, there isn't a wishing well in the country that is bereft of funds, and I know that I would use it for just the knowledge that my small contributions will join with everyone else's to help out people we will most likely never meet.

Who knows, maybe the wish I make in game, could produce a little real magic in another persons life.

Wednesday, September 30

The Poetry Contest...If I Can Be A Winner, So Can You!

Most of you are aware of the Wizard101 Halloween Poetry Contest on Facebook. I found out about it yesterday, and created my little poem and submitted it. To my surprise, I had a message from Professor Grayrose today on Facebook telling me I was one of the winners for Tuesday!

I have requested the Halloween Outfit, if it is the skeleton, and the Ninja Pig costume otherwise. Can't wait to see which one I get, and I will be sure to provide photos when it arrives.

Anyway, the point of this post is to encourage you all to give it a try...if I can win, so can you. Come on Central, lets see you sweep the rest of the week!

Here was my entry:

We gathered by Blossom and looked down the way.
Who would go Trick or Treat Cyrus? 'No Way!'
He's scary enough the rest of the year,
But on All Hallows' Eve, my knees quake in fear.

Soon the infamous dare did appear.
Now I'm on my broom stick hardly able to steer.
The Myth Tower looms, Cyrus glares down at me.
But no harsh words, just some Truffula Tea?

Get those creative juices flowing everyone...and get your poems in soon! Heres a link to the contest page. http://aparate.me/s4

Saturday, September 26

The Sprite Guardian...WOW!

I have often faced life wizards that have never pulled out the Sprite Guardian during PvP...WHY!?!?

Recently I started a new life wizard. He is now at level 20, and I took him into the arena to test his wings. First thing I did was load several of the Guardian's into my deck...and let me tell you, I am glad I did.

Thus far, my wizard has been undefeated. I have no doubt that will fail soon, as I am starting to get matched against some higher leveled opponents...and in fact I would have lost already if not for the Guardian.

Had one duel today, where I was facing a Balance wizard that was level 24. He was going first, had 4 pips and I was down to around 230 health. I queued up a Pixie...and my new little friend queued up a pixie as well. At the time, I had about 6 pips up.

My opponent went, I died, he said Good Game...then bless her dainty little pixels, she brought me back from the other side, I followed up with a Pixie of my own, and suddenly it was a whole new match!


Sorry Cyclops...you have fallen into second place in my list of favorite minions.

Guess I'll have to get busy with a Balance character so I can test out the Mander and see where he falls!

Friday, September 11

Character Building 101

There comes a time in the life of a wizard, when you have to ask yourself: Have I chosen the right school for me? This is of course a question that we each have to answer for our own reasons, but there is at least one pointer I feel confident in giving. If you are never using your primary schools spells and depending on your second school for all of your attacks, you should really consider making a new wizard.

This came to mind as Elemental Splash and I were practicing for a 2v2 tournament in the ranked arena. We came across one set of wizards that just astounded me. One of the opposing team was a Fire wizard, good school. I watched this wizard put up a Fire Blade and start building pips. When they had their pip bank full, I was expecting to see the Heckhound come pouncing out of that itty-bitty house.

The whole time his partner is telling him to use Fire hits on us, and finally this Fire wizard replies, "I only use Storm.". HUH!? The Fire wizard then proceeded to use a Kraken to prove the point...and Storm spells was all he used for the short duration of his lifespan in that duel. Now, aside from the obvious thought of "Don't broadcast your game plan to the opponent.", I am left with the observation that I started this post with.

There are times we should evaluate if our wizard is in the correct school. This is a prime example of someone who should consider making a new wizard...a Storm wizard. I can almost understand an Ice or Life wizard having a small assortment of power cards from their secondary school, but Fire depending entirely on Storm? Me thinks it's time for a wizard makeover.

Now, think about your wizards and how you play them, it may be time for you to re-evaluate some of them too. If you aren't playing to the strength of your school...give it some serious thought. You will find you are a much more successful wizard if you are playing your wizards with what gives them an advantage in their school.

Wednesday, September 9

Scrap Iron A Plenty!

That is right, I have found an abundant source of scrap iron! More than enough for all my crafting needs.

Unfortunately, I can't think of any way to convert it!

Really though, on my trips around my home world today, I saw scrap iron everywhere! I really need to get to work on that item translation device so that I can port useful stuff like this to Wizard City with me!

Tuesday, September 1

Wizard101 and Grocery Coupons...yes, they are related.

OK, no matter what I try, I cannot get my wife to play Wizard101. She "doesn't need something else to waste time on", or "the in game movement makes her queasy"...it's always something.

One thing my wife does do avidly though, is coupon. Local papers, national papers, hunts them down from family, takes neighbors hostage until they surrender them...OK, not yet, but I swear it's coming!

Now how are the two related? Because after some careful consideration, I am GLAD my wife doesn't play Wizard101. She would play it like she coupons, and that would be bad news for all of us. Let me give you an example of her ability to make an all out assault on the local Homeland store, Walgreens and yes, even Wal-Mart with her coupons.

There you go. This photo was taken after ONE trip to the store today. Here is the itemized list of whats in that photo:

  • 4 boxes of Cheese Nips
  • 2 bottles of Diet Dr. Pepper
  • 2 1/2 gallonish tubs of Blue Bunny Ice Cream
  • 4 Glade Air Freshners
  • 5 Assorted cans of Chef Boyardee
  • 2 Four packs of Dannon Yogurt drinks
  • 2 packs of Chinet napkins
  • 9 jars of Peter Pan peanut butter
Now, some of you are going to be familiar with the prices on this stuff, and have already started adding it up. There is close to $70.00 of product in that pile. I'll tell you what she paid out of pocket for this loot...$4.92! On top of that, she got more coupons back at the register that give her $6.00 off of her next visit! So effectively she MADE $1.08 for taking this stuff off the stores shelves.

So, if she were to start playing Wizard101, we would all have to run for cover, because she would find a way for us to pay her for the beat down she would give us.

On second thought, maybe I should reconsider...maybe I could pay her in grocery coupons to help me come up with tactics like these for the arena!

Humm....you'll have to pardon me, I need to go find my wife.

Wednesday, August 19

Ugly, has a new face.

As I am going to be a way for a few days, with limited access to Central, I just wanted to leave you with a picture, and some thoughts...

Meet Miss Ellie
Miss Ellie is the previous winner of an ugliest DOG contest! That's right, she's a dog. I couldn't help notice a striking resemblance to a certain CAT from Marley Bone though! The good Dr. may have some new competition in the works. :)

To see more contest winners, you can visit this site.

See you all on Friday!

Monday, August 17

Back to Basics: Filling Your Deck?

Filling Your Deck:
Thats right, what you have in your deck can make all the difference as to whether or not you are going to emerge successful from your encounters in the spiral. We are going to be looking at deck setup for the PvE portion of the game, as Alex has a blog on PvP deck setups already, and he is far more qualified than me for that! So, lets start with that age old question....
What's in YOUR deck?

If you are stuffing every card you can into your deck, and filling the sideboard, chances are you are spending much more time discarding and passing for battles than you are in actually being productive.

Back to the Beginning:
As a new wizard with your starter deck, you find yourself in battle on Unicorn way. The dark sprite looked so cute, and you just wanted to say hi, but then...BAM! She has you in the dueling circle and you are in a fight for your life...she was not so nice after all!

Why do I bring this up? Because there is a lesson to be learned from these early battles. As long as you have your most effective spells loaded, you can make it though most encounters in the spiral with very few cards. Yes, you have the starter deck filled to the point that you have to use straps to close it and keep the top on...but even when you are running some of the larger decks later, you should try to limit the cards you carry to as few as possible.

All of my wizards pack around 20 cards at all times. This proves efficient for taking out the enemy without a lot of discards. It also assists in making sure you have what you need, when you need it...no digging and looking for that card that could be 40 cards deep in the deck.

I know there are some that will run with a deck with as few as 8 cards in it...personally, I don't like to run that thin. I chose my setup so that if someone joins me, I can assist on the final enemy or two before having to reshuffle, but also, just so I have some extra traps around so that I can take a more friendly approach to my traps. It isn't as vital if someone uses a wand to break one, because I have an extra or two in hand.
Sidebar: The Friendly Necromancer recently answered a question for a reader about the issues that can arise between friends when decks are too thin, and I would suggest you take the time to view it if you have not already.

So What Should I Carry:
Ok, I will give you the breakdown of what my wizards pack around as a general rule. You will have to play with your deck to find what matches your play style a little better. Note: all of these suggestion assume that you have attained a certain level and trained specific spells, if you haven't you will have to make your own decisions about what should be involved.

  • 3 School Blades
  • 3 School traps
  • 2 School Spells (your next to best)
  • 2 School Spells (your best - NOTE, this doesn't necessarily mean the 7 pip spells, as they may not be the most effective for your school)
  • 1 Pixie - for self heal (my necromancer uses Sacrifice instead of pixie)
  • 4 shields (depends on what school you are and what you are fighting, some of my wizards don't carry any shields)
  • 2 Reshuffle (discard the first, and then you are set up for an endless deck)
  • 2 Misc buffs (feints, balance traps/blades, etc)
That covers the basic 20 cards I have in my deck. I of course still have my item cards, and a couple of heal anyone cards in my sideboard as a just in case. With this setup, I am able to solo most battles in the Spiral, and have only had to use the reshuffle a handful of times. When I am going up against opponents from my school, I add in MAX prisms. I do wind up discarding some of them, but I want to ensure they come up quickly, so I can get the prism on before they drop the shield to block the converted damage.

I feel it should be said again that it is important that YOU feel comfortable with what's in your deck. If you find yourself worried about your cards, then add a few more until you feel comfortable...you want to keep the game fun, and not a source of stress. :)

If you are not used to running a smaller deck and want to try it, I would also suggest going back to a world you have already finished up and trying it there, where you should have a large advantage in the fight just by being you.

Now, all of you others out there that have views on smaller decks, let's hear them. :)

Thursday, August 13

Back to Basics: Item Stats

What are Item Stats:
When you first arrive in Wizard City, you are arrayed in the Ravenwood School Robes...which offer no enhancements at all...zip, zero, zilch. On top of offering no enhancements, while you can dye them to colors of your choosing, they are still a school uniform...and who wants to wear a school uniform!?

So you set out on your first quests and discover that as you best those ghouls, pirates and fairies on Unicorn Way, they drop treasure! Not just gold, but new equipment. All right! Now I can run around in Dorothy's Ruby Slippers (suddenly have songs about rainbows and and brains floating in my head). As you examine these new finds, you also notice that they offer enhancements to your abilities...you have officially started down the path of Item Stats.

There are enhancements for Accuracy, Health, Mana, Damage Boost, Damage Resist, Incoming Health, Outgoing Health and Increased Chance of Power Pips. Which of these your wizard seeks out as you progress through the Spiral is a decision that you have to make. However, some of these are best suited for certain schools to acquire. For example, a Storm wizard would most likely be looking for Accuracy and Health, as those are the weakest points for that school, where an Ice wizard would be looking to increase their Damage Boost (because our spells are wimps!).

ironhawk, on Wizard101 Central, has made some excellent guides to the various bosses in the spiral, and what items they drop. I have found this an excellent reference not only while working my way through the worlds, but also when farming for better items. I have linked a couple of them here for reference: Grizzleheim, Marleybone, Mooshu, Dragonspyre

Style vs Stats:
I will be the first to admit some of the best enhancements you can find on gear will make your wizard about as attractive as the cat below.

While it may be against our desires to want to make ourselves look like that, it can be beneficial at times. So if you are one who tends to ensure highest style at all times, it might be a good idea to keep a set of some ugly clothing around for the harder battles. Who knows, maybe if you slip those bits of nastiness on, some of those bosses might just run at the sight of you!

A Quick Look at Each Enhancement:
Lets review each enhancement and what it does for you so that we can all make the best decisions for our wizards. As stated earlier, the enhancements available are: Accuracy, Health, Mana, Damage Boost, Damage Resist, Incoming Health, Outgoing Health and Increased Chance of Power Pips.
Items that increase your accuracy help you reduce the frequency of fizzling. If you have a storm card that has an accuracy of 75%, and you are wearing items that give you 6% accuracy increase for storm, then when that card is used, the effective accuracy is 81%. You might be surprised how much even that little bit can help.

Items that increase your health make those oh so important numbers in your health globes go up by that amount. A few extra points of health can be a life saver at times. I don't know how many battles I have fought and ended with under 10 health left. If I hadn't been wearing one of my clothing items at the time that gave this boost, I would have found myself standing in the Commons mumbling a few choice words.

Items that increase your mana allow you to go longer between potion uses, and fill ups. In the higher levels of the games these are nice and help limit the amount of times you have to return and play games or chase whisps. These however are useless in PvP and mana is not used in the arena. So if you do a lot of PvP, you might want alternative items to wear while dueling, unless you are getting other stat boosts with the mana.

Damage Boost:
The Damage Boost increases the hit value on your attack cards by the amount specified. For schools with weaker attacks, these can be of great benefit.

Damage Resist:
The Damage Resist, will reduce the strength of attacks against you by the amount specified. For schools with lower health, these can be a much needed addition.

Incoming Health:
The increases to incoming health will give a boost by the amount specified every time you heal yourself, or someone else heals you.

Outgoing Health:
The increases to outgoing health will give a boost by the amount specified every time you use a healing card on yourself or others.

Increased Chance of Power Pips:
These increases can boost your power pip chance. With these changes, especially the higher in level you get, the use of these may see you shift to using your primary school heavily, and may even see you completely remove your secondary school attacks from your deck.
Well, that about covers those. As a further note, you will find some items that have plus(+) increases rather than percentage(%) increases. When in the lower levels of the game, the plus items may give you a better increase than percentage. You will just need to evaluate what the effect will be on the cards you are using at that time, and make your equipment adjustments accordingly.

As always, I hope this was informative for the newer users, and a nice refresher for some of the old dogs around here. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to ask.

Tuesday, August 11

Back to Basics: The Bubbles

The Mechanics of Bubbles:
Quite often I hear fellow wizards asking what those big bubbles are that surround a battle. The bubbles are a set of global spells, meaning they have an effect on every player in the battle, this include the computer characters that you are battling. Each school has their own bubble, and there are two basic groupings: Damage Boosters and Special Effects. We'll look at both groups separately, and each individual bubble within those groups. As an interesting side note, you may also hear these referred to as Ring Spells, Aura Spells, Dome Spells, or a variety of other names...we like the lighthearted fell of Bubble Spells, so we'll stick with that.

The Global Aspects:
A key thing to bear in mind about the bubbles is that they effect everyone. If you are a Fire wizard and are facing down a Fire mob, it is probably best that you not use the bubble. Because with the bubble in place, you will increase all of the Fire damage you suffer as well. Always assess the opposition to determine if you are going to give them as much or more of an advantage than you will gain by using the bubble before casting it. There are times that it is best relegated to the ash heap of the discard pile.

Damage Boosters:
All of the bubbles from the elemental schools (Storm, Fire and Ice) fall into this category as well as the Myth school. When these global spells are in effect that schools attacks get an increase in damage, regardless of who uses them. Here are the critical stats on each of these schools bubbles:
Storm: Darkwind
The Darkwind card costs 2 pips to cast and adds an extra 25% to all Storm attacks. This bubble is easily identifiable by the dark storm clouds overhead, and the rain that drenches you and leaves you feeling like you just stepped out of a monsoon.

Fire: Wyldfire
The Wyldfire card costs 2 pips to cast and adds and extra 25% to all Fire attacks. This bubble is easily confused by newcomers with the Balance bubble. Tips to help identify this bubble would include: look closely at the bottom of the bubble and make sure that you see flames, and watch for the ash that try to fall and cover everything that is being incinerated.

Ice: Balefrost
The Balefrost card costs 2 pips to cast and adds an extra 35% to all Ice attacks. This bubble is readily identifiable by the sudden drop in temperature, and the snowflakes that start to lightly fall. Watch letting this bubble be in place to long, or you might find Scarecrows trying to make snow angles in the center of the dueling ring. That is quite a disturbing thing to see.

Myth: Time of Legend
The Time of Legend card costs 2 pips to cast and adds and extra 25% to all Myth attacks. This bubble is easy to identify because of the eyes that swirl all around you. It can have a tendency to start giving you that feeling of being watched, so unless you are Myth, I would suggest replacing this with one of your own before you find out that it is Orthrus that has been watching you.
There you have it, what each of the Damage Boost Bubbles do, and how to identify them. Now lets take a look at the Special Effects class of bubbles.

Special Effects:
The remaining schools (Life, Death and Balance) fall into this category. How Myth wound up with the elemental schools is a puzzle to me even now, but that is a topic for a different time. Each of the bubbles for these schools has a unique impact on the playing field. Lets look at these individually as well and see what they can do for us...or against us as the case may be. Here are the critical stats for each of the remaining bubbles:
Life: Sanctuary
The Sanctuary card costs 3 pips to cast and increases all healing spells by 50%. This bubble is easily identifiable with is Life like coloring (green) and the relaxing, gentle drift of leaves as the float to the arena floor. Be careful with this one, because all of those leaves lying about becomes a high fire risk should someone follow it up with Wyldfire.

Death: Doom and Gloom
The Doom and Gloom card costs 3 pips to cast and decreases all healing spells by 50%. This bubble is readily identifiable by the since of despair you will feel as your pixie suddenly generates only 200 health. Then you become even more glum as you watch those sap health spells from the Necromancers still operate at full power.

Balance: Power Play
The Power Play card costs 4 pips to cast and increases every players power pip chance by 35%. As noted earlier, this bubble is easily confused with Wyldfire, if you don't notice the flames or the ash watch your power pips show up more often. A word of warning on this bubble. While it might excite you to be getting more power pips, remember that those same pips are now accumulating to empower Lady Judgment, might be wise to let those pips build at a normal rate.
There are the details on the Special Effect Bubbles, what they do and how to identify them.

Once you have seen these in use a few times, you will begin to get a firm handle on when you can put another players bubble to work for you, and when you should plan to remove it posthaste. Just remember that you may be helping out your opposition when you use it though.

I hope this helps you understand the bubbles and their global effect on the cards and players.

Friday, August 7

Back to Basics: Traps, Shields, Prisms and Absorbs

The Mechanics of how Traps, Shields, Prisms and Absorbs Get Applied:
For those of you familiar with inventory control systems, the usage of traps, shields, etc, would be likened to a FILO (First In Last Out) system. When you cast a spell, the traps that have been placed around your target will be used in the reverse order from the the way they were applied, so we'll call this the FOLO (First On Last Off) system.

If you place a set of Elemental Traps (One each of Ice, Fire and Storm) on your opponent, then your opponent places a Storm shield up. When you use your next Storm spell, the results would appear like this:
  • The Storm Shield would be consumed.
  • The Storm Trap from the Elemental Traps would be consumed.
Notice how the last item placed was the first item off. That scenario would still result in some damage making it through to the target. Let's change the scenario now, to include an Absorb.

If you placed a Fire Trap on your target, and then they dropped an Absorb (Life or Ice), then you hit them with a Firecat, the result would be as follows:
  • The Firecat would hit the Absorb, and the damage would be reduced to 0...that's right, a big goose egg.
  • The Fire Trap would still be consumed.
You did not misread that. Even though there was no damage remaining, and the Absorb is still in place, all Traps that should be triggered will be, even if they have no damage to increase and are behind the Absorb.

Now, I know that Prisms are one of the items that trip people up the most. The trick with Prisms it to keep in mind the FOLO (First On Last Off), and remember that when the Prism gets triggered, all of the damage from that point on registers as the opposite school.

So apply your traps from the opposite school first. We'll say we have just applied a set of Spirit Traps (One each from Death, Myth and Life). One of our team mates then applies a Myth Trap. We then put our Storm Prism on, which will convert Storm damage to Myth damage. Then we apply a Windstorm. Once we use our attack, Kraken, the result would be:
  • The Windstorm would trigger.
  • The Storm Prism would trigger (and everything will be Myth from here on)
  • The Myth Trap would trigger.
  • The Myth Trap from the Spirit Trap set would trigger.
And there you have it, the way to use your Prisms.

The Mechanics of how Traps, Shields, Prisms and Absorbs Effect a Spell:
There is a big difference in how traps react and effect our damage, compared to how our blades operated. Our blades would effect all damage from a spell, but a trap will only modify one pulse of damage.

If we return to the Fire Elf example, if you have placed 2 Fire Traps on your opponent, and then use a Fire Elf, the damage would be effected like this:
  • The first Fire Trap would get consumed with the initial damage hit.
  • The second Fire Trap would get consumed with the first damage pulse.
  • The second and third damage pulses would each produce normal damage.
This difference is important to note, especially for our Myth friends. They have a few attacks that do a double hit. If they have only applied a single Myth Trap prior to using Minotaur, then the smaller hit will use the trap up, and the larger hit will not receive any boost. This is one of the reasons that I would suggest that Myth persons not worry about Feint. To really be effective with their best hits, they have to get two of them in place, and that allows time for multiple Myth Shields to be dropped as well by the opponent.

The next item to note is how Absorbs effect spells. For the most part, they do exactly what they say they will do. A 400 point absorb, will reduce the spell, or spells until it has buffered 400 points of damage from you. If the first spell that its it only does 250 points of damage, then the Absorb will stay in place until it has reduced another 150 points of damage. These can be quite nice.

However, both the Life and Ice absorbs have a weakness. Sap Health spells. That's right, our friends the Necromancers can slip right through these special shields and drain our life away to heal themselves. The Absorbs will have absolutely NO EFFECT on...Ghoul, Vampire, Wraith or Scarecrow. So if you see one of those coming, you had better hope that you have a Tower Shield, or some form of Death Shield up, or it is going to hurt.

The Mechanics of how to Maximize Your Traps:
Stacking multiple Traps of the same type will only trigger one of them at a time. For example, if you put up two Myth Traps, when you throw your spell, only one of them will get triggered. The trick to increasing your Trap damage, is to stack traps, for the same damage school, of different types.

For example if you have trained the Spirit Traps from Niles, and you have purchased a set of Spirit Traps from the Library, then you can stack those together, and BOTH Myth Traps will get triggered when you attack. Even though they are both Spirit Traps, they are considered in game to be of different types.

You may also be able to pick up an extra trap from an amulet (Thank you Alex) for example that will stack in with your normal school traps for increased damage.

Another special note would be those special traps, Hex, Curse and Feint, which will stack with any other schools traps for increased damage.

So, you could have an amulet that give you a special Myth Trap, shoes that give you Hex or Curse, could have trained Feint and could generate a stack of traps like this:

Myth Trap (from School)
Myth Trap (from Amulet)
Spirit Trap (from Niles)
Spirit Trap (from Library )
Hex (from Shoes)
Feint (from Secondary School)

And ALL of the Myth Traps would trigger on attack, as well as the Hex and Feint, giving you 6 boosts from your Trap set. And to increase that more you could have started with a few Storm Traps, and set your Myth Prism on there before you Myth Traps to add a couple more boosts in there as well.

A Note on Calculating Damage:
For the vast majority of items in game, rounding is not used. Everything truncates to the lower number. There are some occasional exceptions, but I have not been able to pinpoint what causes those to manifest themselves. So as a general rule, always round down.

I hope that this helps you gain a firm grip on how Traps, Shields, Prisms and Absorbs can effect your spells.

Thursday, August 6

Back to Basics: Blades and Charms

This marks the beginning of a series we will be running on the basics of the Wizard101 mechanics, and how those can impact your game play.

The Mechanics of how Blades and Charms Get Applied:

For those of you familiar with inventory control systems, the usage of blades and charms would be likened to a FIFO (First In First Out) system. When you cast a spell, the blades over your head will be used in the order they were applied, so we'll call this the FOFO (First On First Off) system.

If you put a set of Elemental Blades (One each of Ice, Storm and Fire) over your head, and then your opponent places a Weakness on you, then you used a Fire Elf, the result would be:
  • Elemental Fire Blade would be used.
  • Weakness would be used.
If the order were reversed, and the Weakness was applied to you first, before you put the Elemental Blades on, the the result when using the Fire Elf would be:
  • Weakness would be used.
  • Elemental Fire Blade would be used.
The same principal holds true regardless of the number of blades and charms that have been applied. Just remember FOFO! ;)

The Mechanics of how Blades and Charms Effect a Spell:
For most cases this area seems obvious. If you have an Ice Blade up, and use a Colossus, then the damage is increased by 40%. That means that with a Colossus doing 460-540 base damage, the Ice Blade alone will place the damage into the 644-756 range.

What is often missed though, is that blades and charms have an effect over the entire life of a spell. What this means is that when you use a DOT (Damage Over Time) spell, the initial hit, if it has one, and all remaining pulses are affected by the blades and charms.

Using Poison as an example. Poison has a damage of 35 + 390 Death damage over 3 rounds. This means it will have an initial hit of 35 points, and then do 130 points of damage each round for 3 rounds, for a total of 425 points of damage.

If you have applied a Death Blade and a set of Spirit Blades (One each of Death, Myth and Life), then use Poison, the result would be:
  • Spirit Death Blade would be applied (+35%)
  • Death Blade would be applied (+40%)
  • Initial hit damage would be increased from 35 to 65
  • Each pulse of damage for the next 3 rounds would increase from 130 to 245
  • Bringing the total damage of the spell from 425 points to 800 points!

A Note on Calculating Damage:
For the vast majority of items in game, rounding is not used. Everything truncates to the lower number. There are some occasional exceptions, but I have not been able to pinpoint what causes those to manifest themselves. So as a general rule, always round down.

I hope that this helps you gain a firm grip on how Blade and Charms can effect your spells.

Tuesday, August 4

Wizard101 Central now offers Blogs!

The Spiral Free Press now has a secondary edition on Wizard101 Central. Recently, Jester over at Central released the new Blog feature to the community.

All of the fellow bloggers on the Spiral should check it out. Follow this link to visit the new The Spiral Free Press: Wizard101 Central Edition.

To snoop, or not to snoop.

As a parent, I play Wizard101 with my daughter frequently. There are times however that she plays on her own, and I would like a new Parental Control option.

It would be nice if I could set it up so that all chat logs on my daughters account were e-mailed to me at the end of each of her play sessions.

I know that some will think this crosses that invisible privacy line, but as a parent, I want to know what's going on. And I teach my daughter that anything sent of the wire should not be considered private, especially in an open chat setting like Wizard101.

What are the views on this from some of the others out there?

Friday, July 31

It's just a jump to the left....

OK, so this really isn't about the Time Warp. However, before this weekend is over, I will wish it were.

The family is headed out to visit relatives this weekend, where cell phone reception is spotty, the internet still comes over dial-up (if you have it) and there's one stop light that's always green.

It will be a nice trip, and long overdue. And for a change we are going to see relatives that we actually like, so that will be a soothing salve for our withdrawals.

No matter how nice though, before the weekend is over, I'll be wanting to take that step to the right, back into this millennium's technology.

We'll see you all on the flip side!

Wednesday, July 29

Update Your Passwords.

As there seems to have been a rash of accounts hacked/hijacked lately. I thought today would be a good day to remind everyone to update their passwords. It is a good idea to change your passwords regularly, and I use a 90 day cycle on mine, you just have to find what works best for you...so long as that isn't never!

I would like to share some reminders about what makes a good password, and what doesn't.

Some Password Don'ts:
  • Common words or phrases: Things like, 'letmein' or 'openupandsayah' or anything along these lines.
  • Any private information: If your name is joe, using 'joe123' as your password isn't wise.
  • Any derivative of your user name: if you user name is 'billthemonk', then a password like 'spiritualgoat' should be avoided.
Some Password Do's:
  • Use a non-dictionary word, or random string: Something like "ttlsgen".
  • Use mixed case: This means use both upper and lower case letters in your password in random places, like "TtLsGen".
  • Add numbers in your password: "TtLs613Gen".
  • Add punctuation to your password: "TtLs6:13Gen".
You will need to check the rules for password generation on each account you have, because some will require password under 8 characters, and others will require more than 8 characters. Some will allow the use of punctuation, and others won't, however, the more of these you can apply the better.

I asked one young wizards what they thought about these guidelines, and their response was, "How am I supposed to remember that!?". Well, that is when I taught the young wizard the following trick:

Find yourself a mnemonic device to help remember it. For example use part of a book you are reading right now, or a memorable headline from your local paper. For the example above, I used a Bible verse. This verse:

Genesis 6:13
Then the LORD said....
Ok, so I only used part of the verse, but that is the beauty of it, you can pick what you want, and it's easy to remember. Just use the first letter of each word for the section of the verse you want to use. Add on the chapter and verse reference and then tacked on an abbreviation for the book.

Now all you have to remember is "Then the Lord said 6:13 Gen" to know our password!

Remember you could do this using any publication you want, but substituting page number and copyright year, or printing number. You get the idea. Use something to help you remember that awe inspiring password...and don't forget to change them on occasion.

And please...

Tuesday, July 28

Maintenance Alert!

Wizard101 will be using a maintenance window tonight for some PvP and Bazaar updates!

KI says: "Cards for Codes" not reportable.

A discussion thread on Wizard101 Central has sent us off on a tear. It involves an email response received by a forum member to questions regarding what is, and what isn't reportable. To view that thread and what Kings Isle (KI) lists as non-reportable issues, click here.

While most of what KI has in the list is understandable, the "Cards for Codes" item has left us at The Spiral Free Press scratching our collective head. While we understand that there may be a flood of reports on this, and that it may be a challenge to wade through and deal with those reports, we would prefer to see KI err to the side of caution on this issue.

A lot of the concerns originate with those who just want to see kids kept from being taken advantage of, and we feel that is a noble and worthy goal. There has been a suggestion by a separate member of Wizard101 Central in a way KI could empower its users to alleviate a lot of this issue, and you can view that thread here. We applaud fellow wizards who try to come up with solutions to issues in the Spiral and share those with everyone to make it a better place for everyone.

Though we feel that just protecting them for that reason is reason enough in itself, we feel there are more security and safety related issues with KI's stance on this particular topic. Our Editor, Ian Silverflame, while not practicing his magical prowess in efforts to save the Spiral, spends his time as a web applications developer on his home world. He deals with the issues of capturing and securing data, from children quite frequently, and how that should be collected, stored, transmitted and protected, to ensure that those who use the applications he builds are kept secure. Because of this security related view, he has contributed the following directly:

"The internet in general, and especially places such as the Spiral, are open season hunting grounds for predators of the most abhorrent kind. To take a stance anywhere short of absolute intolerance on this issue, is akin to posting directional maps for those persons looking to harm children. The 'Cards for Codes' type operations allow anyone with undesirable goals to help weed out the population of the game and find the more susceptible targets.

As a parent, I am heavily involved with my daughters game play, and she knows to ask me about anything that makes her uncomfortable, or she doesn't understand. We all have to realize at the same time, there are a lot of children who will be traveling the Spiral totally unattended and without an overlooking parent to help keep them safe.

When it comes to an issue like this, all reasonable efforts must be made to protect those wizards."
We at The Spiral Free Press would like to see KI change it's position on this issue. While we do agree that there are valuable life lessons to be learned in making bad trades, let that happen over time in trades with friends, not from being lured into what could potentially turn into a very bad situation. We are even willing to pay a bit more for our subscriptions to ensure KI has the staff available to deal with this. At least that's our stance, please let us know your thoughts.

Monday, July 27

The Arena can be a Fun Place.

There have been a lot of comments about PvP and the arena lately. Most have concerned bugs that cause problems with artificial rank and unbalanced match-ups, or about the attitude of some of the players. We at the Spiral Free Press have grown concerned that all of the negative might discourage new wizards from venturing into this area and testing their skills, or convince some of the advanced players to abandon it all together.

If you are concerned about those issues, or want a more structured environment, then we highly suggest that you head over to Wizard101 Central and get involved in the excellent tournament systems they have there.

The Tournament Masters have developed a easy to remember set of rules that keeps the spirit of honor in dueling, and they continually come up with twists for different types of tournaments. For example, currently there is a "No Resist" tournament underway, in which participants are only allowed to wear gear that is school specific and offers resist to their primary school only.

In addition to their tournaments, they have a ladder system as well, if a more laid back approach is your thing.

The group of duelists you will find in that community is amazing. Some of the top players in the game are there, and people are always willing to offer assistance if you have questions.

So don't let all the commentary about the arena problems keep you from venturing into its hallowed halls for a little sparring action. There are still a variety of ways available to have fun and friendly matches in the arena, and we hope to see you there.

Saturday, July 25

Having Friends is Painful

After some general banter about the game and friends list, we have come to the conclusion that maintaining a friend list across multiple wizards is just shy of torture. It is also complicated by having friends with multiple wizards.

To the left, you will see a screen shot of the current friends list as it stands on one of our accounts. We have added the green box to denote that everyone inside it are the SAME wizard. This brings up the main issue with the friends interface as it currently stands.

When we have such a limited friends list, you have to choose between having all of your good friends in the list multiple times, or just missing them when they are on another wizard. Why should we have to take up such a large portion of our lists like this? It hurts!

We do now have the ability to add them without porting to their locations, so that helped. At least now we don't have to spend tons of time changing realms, then waiting to change areas, to get our wizards into the same location. The Spiral Free Press gives that update five wands.

So after some deliberation about how this can be solved, we put our heads together and came up with the following. This is the best way we have devised to handle the multiple wizards for the same friend.

We had our graphical wizard twirl their wands to create the sample of what we are talking about to the right.

Here are our thoughts on how this interface improvement would work:

When you add a friend, that friend only takes up ONE spot in your friends list, but ALL of their current or future wizards on that account are automatically added.

When you move your wand over that friend, then a small window showing all of their wizards could pop out to the left of the friends name.

To deal with knowing when the friend is online, you can use color. In the example, we have used green to denote that our friend Ian Spiritflame is online, but he is on a different wizard. The pop out shows us that he is currently bringing order back to the Spiral on Ian Sunflame.

We would like to see our friends list globalized across all of our wizards. Then when we create new wizards, our friends are already intact, and we don't have to spend a ton of time trying to relocate them. Better yet, let us have a way in the Parental Controls to denote which wizards share lists. We know some parents share a single account with their children, or some siblings have to share accounts. This way, you can keep each family members lists global, but still unique to the player.

We think an improvement like this to the friends system would be a welcome change, and turn the issues of limited list size and managing friends into a much easier task. A task that is no longer a source of nightmares, but lets us rest comfortably in the joy that having friends should bring.

Friday, July 24

Wands at the Ready!

Originally, we were planning a Public Service Announcement for today, reminding us all to be pleasant and friendly to our fellow members of the Spiral.

Our discussions on how to present this lingered until we decided that action on the part of the responsible was a more effective approach. After all, our logic told us that the wizards of Wiazar101 who care will be the ones reading The Spiral Free Press, so why remind them to do what they normally do? That decision left us with the following:

We the Wizards of the Spiral, in order to preserve a friendly environment, insure justice, restore tranquility, provide for the defense of the mute, promote the general welfare of all, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves while in game, do ordain this call to arms.

We pledge ourselves to act when a bully is present; to discourage through the power of our wands, the mistreatment of others; to be decisive when language and innuendo are inappropriate; to use the report button with pride.

If you are willing to join our Call to Arms, let us know. We welcome the mature and responsible to aid us is getting the garbage out of the Spiral.

Thursday, July 23

Crafting Under Fire from Alchemists

Since the introduction of crafting throughout the worlds of the Spiral, there has been a cacophony of complaints from a lot of young wizards. So the Spiral Free Press has undertaken an investigation to see what issues are causing the uproar.

The most frequent cause for this appears to be related to the availability of reagents. We asked Master of Fire, Ian Sunflame his experiences when searching for materials to complete the crafting quests, unfortunately, at just them mention of this topic, he spontaneously combusted, leaving us a bit charred and starring at a pile of ashes. We can only take this to mean that the wizards that have reached a higher degree of education are finding it infuriating to meander the mountains and meadows of the Spiral in search of these elusive items.

After the reaction of Mr. Sunflame, we were hesitant to approach any other students, as we prefer to help protect these young wizards rather than cause them harm. However, after a bit of deliberation, we tossed those concerns directly into the void that exists between worlds and approached our next subject, Magus Necromancer, Ian Ghostrider. When asked about the difficulty in finding supplies to support his crafting quests, Mr. Ghostrider said "Heck, seems to me that I find everything I need at just about the right time thus far.". We asked him how long he had been training under the excellent teachers of Ravenwood and found out that he is a recent addition to the inhabitants of the Spiral. In fact, when asked about what he though about the new world that had been recently re-discovered, Grizzleheim, he said "I didn't know that was a new thing. That bear has been standin' down by that boat ever since I arrived. I kind of hope he offers to take me fishing in it someday!".

So, with the vast difference in responses we received from these two fine students, we can only conclude that for new arrivals, the rate of reagents spawn and the amounts you currently get them are pretty well balanced when working the quests along with their education at Ravenwood. But that for those that have already been well educated, this does in fact seem to be posing a bit of an issue. It seems the time to locate all of the necessary ingredients for a recipe in these quests will roughly equivocate to the amount of time it takes to complete each world individually. That is rough news for our star scholars.

There have recently been some grumblings in the Wizard101 Central community about maybe adding a way to recover some portion of the reagents from an item by reversing the crafting process. It seems to me that this may well be a new skill that Headmaster Ambrose and the other staff of Ravenwood should consider teaching. After all, we don't want the students to start burning out from to much homework.