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 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 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, 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 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?