Saturday, July 31, 2010

New "Mistblood" Released: Page 27 & 28

For the entire series, click here

Page 27
Page 28

Monday, July 26, 2010

BUN: One Week...

(sung to Barenaked Ladies' "One Week")

"It's been one week since you wrote on me,
Got up and left for Petnome, now I'm empty,
Five days since you sat with me saying
'Too much to do, I'll come back when ready.'
Three days on the Twitter Feed
I realized I wasn't there, it's just the P. P.
Yesterday you looked at me
But it'll still be two days 'til you say you're 'ready.'"

Hold on now, don't have a brown cow,
I know it's been a while,
You'll think you're being so neglected
I brought you news to diffuse, although I would rather choose
To write it out 
In a way that's much more completed:
In the paragraph form like the good times,
Share what's on my mind,
Because I'm all for the readers.
But because you do insist,
Here's a real big list; don't get fined for being a speeder:
Opened site at night and 'twas alright;
Not as popular as "Twilight";
I like PBworks, it's the finest of the Wiki's,
Gotta check us out, and you'll be "wow"-ed
How well-endowed we're with the crowd
Of bustling Petnome Pages,
You would think that we're kinda geeky.

How can we help it if we've got a lot o' Pets to board?
Tryin' hard to keep up and update it more...
We're the kind of Team bent on aiding Wizards all.
Can't understand why we do?  
It's just natural.
I have a new member to introduce on the Team!
I have here Sierra Starsong and here's her blog--"

"Still, been one week since you hung with me
Even Mistblood's slowed down; I'm getting worried.
Five days 'til it's Saturday
You've got until then for a new release (*hint hint*)
Been three days since your tooth's removed,
You distracted yourself in arena; many got schooled.
Yesterday you came to see me
And now I sit back and wait 'til you say 'I'm ready.'"

"Saturday morning, the Warehouse run was
Delayed way past one; my late nap a faux pas;
Though it actually turned out okay:
Like a bulldozer we pushed right on through
Like nothing was new
Like "that," Estrakir popped and died.
Then soon right after, farmed Kensington,
With good John Lifeglen
Who hosts All-Star Meet-and-Greet this Thursday night.
Gonna get a set o' Petno' mail
Gonna search on through the clustered trail
Just so the info' isn't always giving you the wrong things;
Gotta use the pics and edit tricks
'Cause the website has got 2 GIG storage space;
Hopefully very soon we'll finish uploading.

How can we help it if we've got a lot o' Pets to board?
Tryin' real hard to keep up and update it more...
We're the kind of Team bent on aiding Wizards all.
Can't understand why we do?  
It's just natural.
We are proud to present that we've got the Crabling.
Now looking to map other pets...

And all last week I was busy, see...
Farming fast, crafting snacks, playin' with Missy.
Five days since I looked on through
And noticed that I'm featured in Diary's frame two.
Three days since the weekend came
Time flew fast and now we're back, feelin' blue.
Yesterday, shared some strategies
And now it's two days 'til we're in a new Hall to study..."

First Full Reunion with the "Crew", After 5 Long Months

Monday, July 19, 2010

Petnome Project: Officially Released!

Two long months...and finally, here it is, folks:

While the project will never be entirely complete (updates and changes are to be expected regularly; errors in the database still to be sorted out; correspondence emails yet to be replied to by submitters; certain special Pets, such as the Sheep, are not numerous for enough discoveries for their Abilities), it will constantly be maintained by The Petnome Team.  We hope that our work serves your training and breeding endeavors well!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Petnome Project: Official Release Date

That's right, it's been a long two months, but now we're ready to roll out and show everyone exactly what the Project is all about!

The final deadline is Monday, July 19, midnight (Pacific Time)

It'll be an ongoing work-in-process, meaning you will see the Petnome Project come together as we slowly complete each puzzle.  But, you will be able to access the information in a neat and organized fashion, with smooth-scrolling sidebars, easy-to-use Navigation bar, and an endless number of paths to surf through (via links).

I'm very happy with the interface, as it doesn't take very long to load between pages (I barely noticed any seams), and satisfied with the fact that there won't be any ads.  

Can't wait to publish it! 

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Ravenwood Radio 20 2Nite!

I'll be there, opening the doors half an hour before show time as usual, collecting any questions you have for Leesha and Steve!

The show starts at 6:30 PT, 8:30 CT, 9:30 ET!

Listen here or here!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

BUN: Celestia "Prequests" and Game Updates on Live Realm

Now that the "Gone Fishing" sign is off the door, save for KI's response, it's time to share some thoughts and occurrences!  The past few days have been great enough to overshadow the few disappointments I had here and there regarding the game, such as Warehouse being stripped as a requirement for players to access Celestia and the second "Item Hurricane" within a  few weeks.

On Wednesday, my long-gone, pioneer best friend Missy, a.k.a. Scarlet Deathblood, whom I mentioned a long time ago and made a "tribute" video for, has finally returned.  We reunited in Unicorn Way, where she was given her return present of Swiftshadow Wings.  Over the weekend, I did my best to explain the new Pet System and expectations to have for the coming of Celestia.  We have been questing around together to help her towards her second Grandmaster (and my third), both of the same school!  I'll update you guys when we're finally in Dragonspyre, but just for kicks and giggles, here's an interesting fact:  my character has yet to finish the Lady Blackhope quest.  At level 34.

On the same day, I managed to finish my third Epic pet:  Duke Honey, the 2G (second generation) Magma Colossus.  Check out what he got after hitting the 1000 XP mark:

These are his parents:

And this is him, in his entirety:

The Defender Pig had a max Universal Resist of 10%.  This guy has 11%, plus 5% Power Pip boost.  Durable and Tenacious were both needed to achieve the new limit.

Speaking of pets, I would like everyone to please welcome both Kestrel Shadowthistle from the Shadowthistle School of Wizardry and Heather Emeraldflame of Heather Emeraldflame & the Petnome Team!  Kestrel will be helping extensively with the internal stuff, like data and site management, while Heather will be out on the field, collecting resources that we do not have available (like pictures of pets, etc.).  A round of applause to Heather, who has been more than kind to raise around a hundred of her pets to Teen to add to the database!  So, yes, we now have two Heathers on the Petnome Team!


On Thursday, Cassandra Hexthorn of A Life of Fire and Fallon Deathslinger helped me with collecting the rest of my ingredients for that mammoth Grizzleheim craft:  The Watchtower Hall.

The front page of the login screen revealed that Updates were coming that night...with the news that the Warehouse was not required to access Celestia.  A frown inducer for many of us (9 to 6 vote, in favor of keeping the instance as a requirement) across Twitter and Facebook, but there lies the limitation of communication for Menu Chatters, who deserve as much as we Closed and Open Chatters do when it comes to traveling to the new world.


On the night of the update, Friday, I had a lingering thought about Earthquake's change to take off Spirit Armors created by Rebirth:  what about Steal Ward?  For those that don't know, Steal Ward does not work on Rebirth armor...I wonder if that will change sometime soon?

I noticed that Pet Abilities have also been updated.  Originally, we were planning to release the Petnome results around this weekend, but the game changes put that progression to a halt.  We are currently working on overcoming that issue, however :)

I emailed Professor Greyrose to see if it was possible for a changelog to go public or sent directly to us whenever Pet skills were changed...but her reply indicated that it was up to us...the Community and "loyal contributors" create a reliable fansite.  We'll need everyone's help more than ever!

Back into the game:  I lost Platae, my Tiger mount.  But the highlight of that night:  beating Warehouse with two Death and Ice:  Gabriel Heart (Ronan Dawn), Missy, and me.


On Saturday, I finally got the recipe for the House after grinding in the Coven den.  Then came a major Warehouse marathon as I powerhoused through the instance with the entire cast of Wandcast (Dustin, David, and Kestrel), my "employer" Leesha Darkheart, both of my Petnome teammates with the first name "Heather," and Scarlet Moonflower, and many others (I'm sorry if I forgot!!) with my good friend of a friend, "Taryn."  No losses or defeats to report yet, but the runs were pretty formulaic, to be fair.


On Sunday, I mated Duke Honey with his predecessor, Rusty.  That's right.  Cross-generational breeding.  I hope there are no negative repercussions to this ( >_< ).  My intent was to use a Stat-filled pet (Rusty) and combine that with a pet with desirable skills (Duke Honey, with his resist and power pip), to create a child with even more resist and power pip potential (Mister Ruby).  I ended up with a Magma Colossus 62 (the first Generation is 61), meaning Mister Ruby took on more Ultra-Rare or Epic abilities compared to his father-grandfather.  (Oh lord, I am shivering now).  And, he has an Epic talent that Rusty didn't have (meaning Spell-Proof, the resist, was inherited).  Now I am hoping that actually manifests!

In the same day, I received a really great gift from Alric Ravensinger from The Raven's Vault:

That's my trusty Ice Bird, Duke Piper, showing off his wings next to me.  Nice work and thank you, Alric!

On my unconventional leveling method, I learned that you can collect both "book quests" from Marleybone and Mooshu, and actually complete them at the same time (reading "Return of the Emperor" from the Jade Palace means you also read "Marleybonian Civil War"; reading "A New Beginning" also completes "The Golden Age").  I wonder if that'll be fixed soon...


Then yesterday, not too much went on other than chatting with friends while I waited for my crafting slots to open for my new Watchtower Hall!

I loved the way the interface counted down while the ingredients were consumed!


Here's another sneak peek at the Petnome results site  (click to enlarge; click on the picture in the new window again to enlarge further!):

See you guys in the Spiral!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

KI's Re: Items Lost After Updates and Maintenance

Check your emails for this message; please note that this letter was sent to those who sent in any claims on missing items:

Dear Wizards &/or Parents,

As you know on 7/9, during the restart of the game after a short maintenance window, some items were lost that had been in use or equipped just prior to the shutdown. We sincerely apologize and we promise that all individual claims will be reviewed and addressed.

So that we can quickly get your account back to rights, we request your assistance. Please provide the following information (we know some of you already have, but the succinct reiteration will allow us to quickly target your account):

1. Account Username: (No passwords please!)
2. Character Name: (if you have more than one character with the same name, please add in the school/level)
3. Specific Item(s) Lost: (If you are missing a pet, please provide the talents/level)
4. Specific Item(s) Lost:
5. etc.

A few additional notes:
a. This ticket will NOT automatically close
b. Please respond only to this email for this topic. Opening new tickets will require more time by the support staff to link your tickets together (and thus slowing down our ability to get your items recovered). If you have questions unrelated to this issue, please just open a new ticket/email.

We anticipate the full recovery for all impacted players will take a few days. Your continued patience & understanding is greatly appreciated.

KingsIsle Support

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Re: Butterfly Effect

Good news!  It looks like there won't be a reset of any sort necessary!


Thanks for the update! Yep. We agree. The bug's been squashed and we're working to set those afflicted back to rights & those found having used the exploit for their own gain to be summarily dealt with.

KingsIsle Support
aka (Ian Emerald)

 We're very fortunate that the problems were indeed traceable, and it sounds like the Company is taking this solution to the levels of the individuals involved with the bug! 

Remember, any oddity you find in the Spiral should be reported immediately!  This will reduce the chances of any global consequences, and our characters can move on with their lives. 

Happy hunting!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Petnome Project: Ad and Banner

Gah, Heather Raven's beaten me to the juicy news punch!

But here's one thing she didn't have, muahaha:

Let's see, Ronan Dawn, Fallon Deathslinger, Cassandra Lifecaster, Wolf Bluestone, Malorn Willowshade, Jenna (new friend!), Cassandra Hexthorn, Miguel Wildthorn, Blaze Mistshard, John Spiritshade, Blaze Silverfist, Amber Rosepetal, Kestrel Shadowthistle, Isaac Mistheart, Taryn Dawn, Luke Dragontamer, Kayla (Fallon DS's daughter) and Scarlet (Fallon DS's alt) and a few friends of friends were all there to help out, and were amazingly patient with me trying to get everyone together and organized.  Two and a half hours...I didn't mind too much :)  The point was finishing what we were aiming for, that's all I could ask for!  Well, that and a nice Colossus to ride on as a mount.  Then I'd be really, really happy.  But I digress.

And yes, the "Petnome Project" words are jigsaws!

Into the Spiral: Butterfly Effect

Over the weekend, many players have exploited a housing bug in which items could be transferred to or taken from other people’s houses.  If you were offline at the time, or never entered your dorm or house, you were safe from robbery as long as no one else had access to it.
While it may have started off as an accident somewhere, it eventually led to an illegitimate exchange system where people made deals on “trading” pets.  This was possible since pets, as furniture items, could be placed in another’s house due to the bug.  But because this “bartering” system was underground and against the rules and Terms of Use, there was no control in place, and items gained and/or lost during the transition most likely were not recorded on an activity log.  Therefore, without security assurances, scams became even more rampant.
Ronan Dawn did some research over the weekend, and followed a pair of people to see the bug in action.  This type of show-and-tell is what malicious players did to prove that the exploit did exist, and further draw the “victim” in agreeing to a trade.  But as soon as that person gives their end of the deal, the scammer takes the pet and leaves.
Alright, so KingsIsle can remedy this very easily!  Just punish whoever sent in a complaint form (the “victim”) and the house guest (the “scammer”) via the activity logs and ban them for use of an exploit to gain an unfair advantage; they both agreed to break the rules!  But what happens when the victim is actually innocent?
It turns out that the opposite (retrieval of items) worked as well.  People were able to use the method and abuse the new function of picking up ALL items.  That means, instead of items being placed, they were taken.  So, anyone on your Friends List could potentially steal your furniture items (including gear on the mannequins and pets) if you ever stepped foot inside your dorm or house.  This includes Friends of friends.  Thus, the victim here did not even have to consent to anything, nor did they know anything was missing unless they looked.
I would rather not explain how the bug works or how it is performed, specifically, but I have a strong feeling that the steps involved do not write anything to the activity logs.
Let’s say that that’s true.  Without any record or way of tracing items back to people when they are given, received, or stolen, the Company will be left in a fog of emails and complaints, where some are true and some are questionable.  The issue is verifying which is which.  Put yourself in KI’s shoes.  How would you effectively replace the items your customers worked so hard to farm for (furniture, pets) or craft (Carousel, Mannequins, Portraits of Greyrose/Ambrose) if you do not have any verification that the item is missing?  If there are tens of thousands of these arbitrary reports (keep in mind, that’s a small number compared to ten million, but nevertheless tens of thousands more than necessary), will you actually go to each person’s residence, communicate with them, and return the specific items back?  Oh, keep in mind, your inbox is full of other unsolved anomalies, with just as much priority as this.  From what I’ve last heard from Ian, she and the Support crew are still managing individual accounts that are believed to be missing Crown items (relation to the Firebat/Crowns compensation).  Now they have this on their hands too…
So, what’s the first move you’re going to make, as KI?  Well, to put a stop to the growing inbox, let’s cut off the access to recreating this bug.  Hence the [temporary block on housing, earlier today].  Next, we’re going to terminate it.  Now that people are temporarily evicted, we can start fixing the codes and prevent future occurances.  We’re pretty sure Witches and Wizards want to grab their pets or gear that they left in their homes today, so we’ve gotta open access again.  Great, the future of the Spiral has been saved.  Now for the past…
Many people have had their wallpapers and tiling stolen and sold to the auction.  Some of them may be detail-specific or skilled interior designers who happened to have rare patterns, but now everything is missing.  How do we account for every single person?  How do we know that our players did not use other loopholes, such as creating a new account, transferring items to that fake Wizard, and transferring it to their actual alternative, and are now claiming that someone stole their items?  Or perhaps send No Trade items through the mannequin, such as arena gear, to a Level 1, 5, or 10 character?
Let’s turn back time to before all this happened.
I haven’t heard anything from KingsIsle, but this is a global consequence that I fear the most:  Character reset.  This would definitely make the victims happy to have their pets back, with the same name, same abilities, and same stats; there’s no need to train up a replacement FOG Unicorn for the one you had placed in your Home Collection of Epic pets.  Plus, some Mega Snacks that went into that thing long, long ago, way before this bug was discovered, are not wasted money.  But how do you find the individual thieves?  People redecorated their house over the weekend, so we can’t look at just the logs for usage of “Pick All Items Up.”  What about someone who managed to make it off with only a few items due to a full backpack, bank, and attic?  Looking at large quantities of inventory movement may find a lot of violators, but it doesn’t fix them all.
Keep in mind, this is just my logical guess; it doesn’t mean that KingsIsle will necessarily do that.  Still, I can’t help but grimace at the fact that all our hours of reagent sniping and farming over the 3-day weekend may disappear off the records.  That’s not even counting the Pet Training or farming.  But, alas, that’s the smoothest way to fix what naughty students have done.  When we do one little thing that benefits us that goes beyond the game’s intentions, it always has the potential to affect the entire Spiral.  So, before you even think about using any bug to your advantage, consider that this may be a double-edged sword; it’s much better off reporting it before everyone gets hurt.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Oh no! Last Minute Announcement for Petnome Photoshoot!

Oh boy, I forgot to make the announcement here too!!

We'll be redoing the Petnome banner that you currently see at!  The meeting is inside the Ice Tower on Greyrose Realm, TODAY, at:

2 PM - 4 PM PST
4 PM - 6 PM CT
5 PM - 7 PM ET

We may not necessarily need the entire two hours, depending on how fast we all can respond!

Please bring an outfit that is all red or all blue bases.  The trims of your outfit can be anything!

See you there!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

New "Mistblood" Released: Page 26

Happy (safe) Fourth of July!
To see the entire series, click here.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Petnome Project: "Results" Format (Preview)

Hey all!  I figured I'd share a little bit of what the Petnome Project results will look like when we're compiling all the pieces together!  Take note that this was made from 3 screenshots that I made from my monitor, spliced together, so this won't be the ACTUAL size of the page when we publish it.

To give you an idea of how the page will work, (I've removed the editing bars and headers so you won't find the site just yet) you'll be able to navigate to a page like this Aqua Dragon 57's after selecting the first letter of your Pet's Class ("A" for Aqua Dragon), and then select the name of your pet with the corresponding Pedigree number (Aqua Dragon 57).

That will bring you to the page above.  As you can see, the Default Stat Maxes will be posted on the upper left, the pet's portrait in the center, and any innate cards that the critter gives, at default.

Below the pet portrait will be the Pet School.

Then you have the Petnome Strands (double columns) for Talent and Derby Skills.  In the picture above, I've left the columns Locked, but that is what the Aqua Dragon 57's Genetic Template should look like.

Further down, you'll see a table with the list of the contributors per ability.  Once an ability is confirmed, we will close off credit for any future submissions for the same Talent/Derby Skill for that specific pet.  We may create links to our contributors' blog, Central profile, Diary of a Wizard ConnectX, etc.

The words that I highlighted above in red are the features that will be converted into Links, and have their very own page.  For example, if you click on the Ice School symbol on the site, you will be directed to a page that lists other Ice School pets.  Or, if you clicked on an Unlocked Talent, such as Pip Boost, it will take you to a page that lists all (submitted) pets that have that Ability too.

So far, we may disable comments at the bottom of the site, considering that hundreds of people may view it in post something.  We're trying to keep the site as a Reference tool rather than a discussion board, but we may change our minds.

Right now, we're looking for comments, suggestions, questions, any kind of feedback.

On a personal note, I just want to thank everyone for their patience!  I've literally spent many hours each week searching for the best host for least resources, but a lot of tools have either been great in quality and expensive, or plain Gobbler droppings and free.  The site I've laid my eyes on is the in-between.

Anyway, I'm off for my break in the Spiral!  Let me know your thoughts on the layout!

New "Mistblood" Released: Page 25

Click to enlarge!  For the full series, click here.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Battleblood Style: Warehouse

Alright, so it seems that a guide about the Warehouse has been released on Central a few days ago, which you can look at here.  It’s very detailed; it includes the health points of each monster on each floor, and dips a little into exactly what the Bosses and their minions do.  It covers plenty of information, but a few missing tidbits here and there (since I last saw it), so I’ll fill in more of the details.  In addition, as I mentioned in yesterday’s post, it’s a guide geared so specifically to the Warehouse, that some of us may feel lost when it comes to fighting a new Cheater.  So, let’s look at something you can apply to almost anywhere, and create a more streamlined run/farm!
Note:  This guide is intended for Grandmasters with Text and Open Chat.  (kudos to Arlen Dawneyes and Thomas Lionblood for pointing out the importance of communication)
(I strongly recommend having a Life player when doing Warehouse, especially if you have had a hard time with the instance after many tries; there is one tactic that Central’s guide is critically missing, which I will cover later.  However, this tower CAN be done without a Theurgist.)

ZERG RUSH (AOE Decks) – Rule of Special Decks
The term “Zerg rush” comes from an old, favorite RTS (real-time strategy) game of mine:  Starcraft, created by Blizzard Entertainment.  It’s coined after a tactic where a Zerg player will unconventionally create nothing but their weakest and inexpensive attackers, and send them off to attack an opponent within the first few minutes of the game.  The intention is to harass their opponents enough that their progress will slow to a game-changing point, and when the Zerglings are in large numbers, the match ends faster.
A “Zerg Rush” in Wizard101 means knocking out your enemies in the first, second, or third turn through a combination of Area of Effect (AOE; not to be mistaken with Global, which means “affect everyone”) attacks, with a full team of Wizards (4 players).  If you treat your whole team as one entity or body, the “Zerg Rush” allows your team to escape a battle faster, and thus with the fewer scars.  Let’s call it the “All Rush” strategy, so our Text Chatters can see both words.
The “All Rush” strategy works beautifully with saving time, health, and mana; it may even allow you to end a tower with all potions full!  This is what I used in Big Ben (modified to kill on the first turn), the Secure House (where Redwind’s Sword (Life-100 damage) is dropped; got four of them within two weeks!), Briskbreeze, and any other long, grueling tower.  Kensington dropped down to around an hour to complete.  This method will help you clear the floors up to the bosses very quickly.
What this requires (if you don’t have an extra “sandbox” deck on hand) is a small alternative deck, perhaps around 15-20 cards.  Yep, you read it right: Grandmasters with Krokotopia-level decks.  In this deck, you need to “max out” (use the maximum allowed) your Rank 4 AOE, if you have one (Balance, Fire, Ice, Storm, Myth).  If you are Death School, max out your Scarecrow.  If you’re Life, stock up on full Unicorns.
Next, if you are using Rank 4 AOEs, stack your deck with your School Blade.  If you are Death School, you will need Empower*.  If you are Life, you will need Guidance.
*Empower does not act accordingly to its description.  It does not cost one pip to give you three; it instead adds two white pips, with no change to what you have already.
No other cards are needed (no shields, no traps, etc.  Maybe a Prism if the monsters are the same school as all of your attackers). 
Your goal is to clear the floors of the weak minions in TWO turns. 
·         For those with the Rank 4 AOE, Blading up and removing duplicate Blades and Wand Attacks will be your first move, that way your AOE shows up if one’s not already in hand. 

·         If you are a Death Player, ask that your teammates allow you to be positioned in the Sun circle (first player).  You will need the most enemies alive when your Life Steal hits in order to recover from Empower’s damage. 

·         If you are a Life player, make sure you are entering on the Moon circle (last player).  You will need to cast Guidance the same turn everyone uses Blades or Empower, for a sure chance of killing, and so that your Charm is not used on those Spells.
On the second turn, all players will use their AOE attack or Unicorn.  Do a little jig at the end of the animations, and proceed to the next Barbecue.

This section will cover the cause and effects, and the strategy my team and I used on both Cheater floors.  Remember, the only knowledge about the tower we had was that there was Storm Lord, Frost Giant, and Rebirth somewhere.  We encountered rumors that these spells came randomly, but when we tested around, it turns out that these Rank 7 AOEs (along with others) happen during specific events.
·         Crab Cheater (CC)

o   Any damage to CC will result in him yelling “HELP ME!”  When the turn is over, the Storm Skeleton will then cast a Storm Lord, which does stun.  Because he forms a Storm Seal, Dissipate will prevent the spell.

o   Like Orrick from Briskbreeze, CC removes traps placed on him, one at a time.  He also sports a Tower Shield and automatically replaces them when hurt.  Thus, you can use Steal Ward open him up for full damage.  – Patching changed his Tower Shields to a *casted* Interrupt, so Melt will work in preventing his spell.  Also, it doesn’t seem that he replaces Tower Shield right away anymore.

o   He is glitched a bit; I believe he is meant to cast “Pierce” to remove one *positive* ward, but instead, he will funnily remove a negative ward.  In other words, when you shield, he will cast a “break” spell, but instead of your shield, it affects any TRAPS on you.  I wonder how many people will actually report this ;)

o   We killed off his skeletons in this order: Life (because he was shielding against Fallon Deathslinger heavily), Ice (to reduce the chance of another Tower appearing), and Storm.  Without his minions, CC will still cry for “HELP!” but no one is around to hear him.  (Concept of Disarming)  After the last skeleton dies, you will be given the MC Hammer effect.  Shrug it off and cook that crustacean!

·         Final Floor

o   You will encounter some dialogue between Estrakir and one of the mice minions; a hint is given here, stating that the rats should do something to us when Global/Bubble spells are casted

§  John Lifeglen tested this in another run to see what happened: the enemies returned after being defeated…at least twice.  – Possible bug after Patching.  Enemies returned for my second run, without use of Global.

o   Rats (2)

§  They will add triple shields around and specifically a Tower Shield to Knuckles whenever he is attacked.  Thus, they must be taken out first.

o   Knuckles

§  He is definitely a copycat.  Whenever any type of recovery spell, be it Helping Hands, Sprite, etc. is casted by a Wizard, he immediately casts a fake Rebirth, which heals for 750 HP.  The awesome catch is, the enemies aren’t given Absorbs.

·         The plan was to have Fallon be the only attacker, since I assumed Absorbs were to be bountiful on the enemies.  But, it looks like that won’t be a problem!

o   Estrakir

§  The head honcho has a variety of AOEs at his disposal:  Dragon, Fire* Nova, and Scarecrow

·         *Fire Nova is the same graphic as the Balance spell, but has outgoing Fire damage; bring those shields if you don’t have Quench

·         Dragon is unleashed every few turns after you hurt Estrakir (small or large damage; we tested with a wand attack) while his allies are still up.  Therefore, try not to hit him when against 4 units!

·         Fire Nova is casted whenever any attack goes off (this Interrupt stacks with Dragon’s Interrupt, so you definitely don’t want to aim for him right away), but that also means be prepared to heal after killing off his allies

·         Scarecrow is casted every other turn after his allies are dead.


I’ve mentioned a few times that I implemented some strategy from the arena in our fights against CC and the Final Floor.  I call this method the “Iron Medic.”
(keep in mind that this was our first encounter with each boss, so the fight took longer than it should have)
Our Life player, Taryn, removed as many attacks as she could (save the Centaur from her gear) and placed in nothing but Shields of all types, Rebirths, Unicorns, Guiding Lights, and Guidances, and any other heals she could fit in.  Plus two Reshuffles.  We were expecting a long fight ;)
Any shields that came up in our hand were all placed onto Taryn.  The less she had to worry about healing herself, the more her pips could be focused on keeping the whole team alive.  Also, while we experimented around, her Group Heals were the main basis of aggro, so we were prepared to protect her against four attackers.  Because the enemies passed a few times, we ended up blocking them faster than they could tear shields off of Taryn.  Overall, we were able to keep our cool knowing that we had virtually infinite recovery.

Let me know how your Warehouse runs go!

Warehouse Run: Video

The Warehouse Run starts around 46 minutes in!
The beginning of the show follows a light-hearted convo between me, Christina Icedreamer, and Fallon Deathslinger.

Text guide will follow shortly as I revise it to be updated to match the Patch!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Into the Spiral: How to Face New Challenges (A Guide to Cheaters)

Instead of sharing exactly how the Warehouse in the Test Realm works, I'd like to share more of what went on behind-the-scenes: the thought-process, if you will.  So, I apologize if there were any expectations of a linear, instructional guide on beating this specific instance; that won't be happening...yet.  No worries, you'll have detailed instructions before this weekend.  However, with the concepts below, you will have a better--if not successful--experience with many future challenges to come!

Introduction: Gameplay Curve 101

In our young Wizarding days, we might have experimented around with our spells and equipment, with little to no sense of direction.  We made a lot of "mistakes" that our current selves would smile and shake our heads at, such as stacking our decks to the brim with every card that we could fit in there--which then led to a series of instances of exclaiming, "I can't find it!  It's not coming up!"--or using Wands from our own school, only to realize that there's a catch to using the easiest way to remove a shield...."Doh!  My blades!!!"

Initially, everything was a mystery to us, from what kinds of attacks or spells the monsters would use, or how different elements or schools reacted to one another.  We have even pondered about how Bosses differed from the normal enemies (remember feeling disappointed about how easy the Dark Sprite boss was?).  Thus, we played instinctively, perhaps forgetting the logic behind killing weaker monsters before defeating the boss, to reduce Incoming Damage per Turn.  The only thing the game taught us, before Unicorn Way, was how to activate our spells and fight.  But without formal preparation for the unexpected, we might have found ourselves struggling.

The more we play, the more we start to incorporate different methods and develop personal guidelines to follow.  "Use Thunder Snake on the Pirate...these do the most damage, and kills faster."  "Use Imp to finish it off, there's a sure chance to get a hit in.

But, over time, as we repeat our fights and adapt to the pattern of casting wards and charms before releasing an attack, the gameplay eventually becomes a habit, and Wizard101 becomes second-hand...maybe even third-hand, considering that some of us multitask with [Alt + Tab] or "multi-box" (playing with more than one account simultaneously).   

Slowly, innovation and creativity drizzles out as we become more familiar with the game.  We learn that Stun shields no longer matter, in PVE (player vs. environment).  Doom and Gloom is never used, since the Life School monsters focus on aggressive play over recovery (imagine, though, if they could continually cast Fairy to revive one another).  Spells that parallel Pacify's effect are pretty much extinct in a Wizard's deck.

Without needing every spell from our school, we allow more room for copies of the cards we want to show up sooner.  Soon enough, we have around 5 school blades, 5 triple blades, 4 school traps, etc. for standardized combat.  These are the normal necessities for dueling in Wizard101.  No matter the monster or Boss we fight, the concepts stay the same: we use more blades and traps depending on the creature's health.  We would consider the act of stacking these modifiers as advanced play, since we're not randomly chopping away at mobs with whatever pips we can expend (something we used to do).

Because this "strategy" has become so normalized at our highest levels, we start to believe that we are invincible in the sense that the game cannot beat us if we play it "right."  If "right" means building up your modifiers to a point where the enemy can be knocked out in one hit, then we've got a major problem:  dependence on one or two specific spell types.

When new players start breaking our traps (a Ward spell type), not only do we start reaching for the "Epic Fail" flag, but we also feel disarmed.  An honest mistake on that person's part, nevertheless, but there lies the hole in our plan to hit hard and eliminate.  Without those modifiers that we have become so faithful to--and who can blame us, really?--we tend to delay our attack until we can replace them.  Putting traps back on is our simple fix.  We all can rest easily.

So what happens to us when those modifiers are taken away infinitely?  Orrick from Briskbreeze and Estrakir and the crab/lobster Boss in the Warehouse all remove your traps individually.  And if that's not enough, they have other Interrupts that either proc (link courtesy of Friendly) or trigger, based on an action that you perform.

Thus, it becomes inevitable that we will find those Cheating bosses "impossible" or "extremely difficult," especially when we use what's "always worked for us."  The developers at KingsIsle certainly have noticed how much we've mastered their game, and most likely have analyzed the reasons behind our success.  With their results, it was only logical to up the ante by removing our "necessities" to a point.  When we don't have our traps, much like in the New Player example, we are once again dropped into that hole of vulnerability.  On Briskbreeze, KI did some overtime by countering any clever Wizard plans to sit around blading continuously:  they added powerful Interrupts, and certainly kept the player with "aggro" under a lot of pressure with the Interrupt Heck Hound.

So, rather than a fight being technically hard, it is actually our traditional strategies and deck builds that end up failing against the new bosses, such as those in the Warehouse.  In other words, it's us; not Warehouse, not the Updates, and certainly not the employees.

Remember those video games in the arcade where you control an aircraft from top-down view and shoot at the enemy ships that fly towards and around you?  And then a Boss craft appears towards the end of the level and starts firing all these photon balls at you, covering the screen in bright orbs?  If all we did was move our plane from left to right on the screen, spamming the shoot key, when we worked our way up to the Boss, we may have dodged the minor enemies easily, perhaps killing everything that appeared.  But, we then learn that the Boss acts completely different in a tricky way, and requires more than just simple maneuvers to defeat.   This is similar to how the Cheaters work in Wizard101.

What also adds to the perspective of the Warehouse being extremely difficult is our mindset stationed on the belief that we can conquer anything, and that we have learned everything we could.  We thought we were in the "advanced" tier, so what we think we're doing is correct and the only way to defeat anything.  In the end, we have neglected that cognitive ability of ours to invent, strategize from the foundation, and use our instincts, as opposed to what we've learned.

Also, what happens when you're one of the pioneers to encounter a Boss for the first time, and no one has made a guide on it, and misinformation is traveling everywhere?  And even then, existing guides that are rushed give a narrow view of the mechanics, due to those "polished" strategies (therefore, they don't see the big picture), and only help for specific dungeons.  Give a man a fish and he'll be full for a week.  Teach a man how to fish, and he'll never go hungry.  Grab your bait and rod, witches and wizards.  Now that you have a better understanding of the situation, let's take a look at what needs to be done prior to any cheating Boss fight.  Below is what went on inside my head before stepping into the Warehouse:

Preparation:  Back to Basics and Remodeling

Memory Dump

Get rid of all the information that polished your "expert" image.  Start playing and adjusting your deck as if you were a Newbie.  Examples:

Overrated "pro":  "Stun Shields are useless." 
Newbie:  "Well, at least I won't get immobilized in the battle."
Overrated "pro":  "But you won't need them, trust me!  Monsters NEVER stun."

Overrated "pro":  "Beguile is a waste of pips."
Newbie:  "How?  It makes the monster help me!"
Overrated "pro":  "Not really...they just kinda PASS most of the time."

Overrated "pro":  "You need to discard your Infections."
Newbie:  "But I can stop them from healing as much!"
Overrated "pro":  "They NEVER heal."

Well, as we're seeing and hearing about the Warehouse, these monsters are now doing what they didn't use to before!  Against Cheaters, you never know.  Don't take certain cards for granted!  Remember, blades and traps are not the only ways to make it through!  For example, we may encounter a boss or a tower that removes any Blades or Wizard-casted Charms, but not traps.  Or, one that removes both modifiers.  There may be minions that cast something every interval of turns.  Expect the unexpected.

Special Decks

After you clear your mind, and consider that you are facing something no one has dealt with or managed to beat before, brainstorm while you flip through your spellbook.  Carry around an extra deck or two so you don't modify your original deck (unless you've impressively memorized it).

"Is there a possible chance I'll need to use a Boss's or minion's Interrupts against their own team?"  
Have a Death slip in a Beguile. 

"Is there a need to dispel certain types of schools, to cut off random or triggered Cheats?"
Bring Entangled for potential enemy heals, Quench and Dissipate for nukes, Melt for Tower shields or stuns,  Strangle for Life Steals, and Vaporize for Earthquakes.  Note:  if the Interrupt requires the enemy to form a school symbol before casting, then these Dispels WILL work.  For example, Melt would not be used on Orrick since his Tower Shields appear instantaneously after any Physical attack placed on him; he does not cast an Ice Seal for these.

"Would I require that aggro be on someone else at all times?"
Bring your school spell that helps direct attention off of you.

"What if we get chain stunned with massive damage?"
Have your Ice invest in carrying some Stun Shields.

"Is it possible for all enemies to cast something powerful on a certain turn, regardless of pips?"
Ask the Pyromancer to add a few Chokes and Smokescreens.  This should prevent fatal combos.  Note:  Many powerful bosses cannot be stunned; it balances the game out in order to prevent Wizards from using chain-stun with Blind/Choke/Earthquake.  

By having an extra deck, you can play around with a clean slate and even designate it as your "Cheater Boss" deck.  Once you become familiar with a certain enemy, you're free to remove what you don't need for a more efficient run.

Execution:  Thinking Ahead and Experimenting


Again, expect the unexpected.  Remember that Orrick had the ability to cast Interrupts multiple times in a row; for example, Heck Hound, then Meteor, and another Heck Hound, depending on his remaining health.  It would be safest to assume that something unnatural will happen either at the beginning of the fight, or after a certain period of turns.  Prepare for the worst case scenarios; do not let the factor of surprise throw you off your game plan:
  • One wizard will be the focus of a heavy nuke
  • Any shields used will be broken
  • Any charms used will be stolen or removed
  • AOE spells will trigger more than one interrupt
  • The enemy will hit all Wizards hard if no one uses an attack card that turn
  • An infection will be placed on everyone after someone attacks
  • After 5 turns, players will be stunned and infected
Of course, not all of these will be present in one battle, but expect a combination of some sort.  These fights are meant to hold your attention; the Interrupts may be based on patterns or turns.

My main tip for anticipation is to closely watch at which enemy is doing what, and notice if they are using a school symbol (casting) or standing still (automatic condition).  Also, take note of what your own team is doing; certain actions performed by Wizards are indirectly the keys to beating these Cheaters.  By observing the fight, you will have a lesser tendency to panic or lose morale during the punishments.

Testing and Application

Use as many spells as you can (while keeping in mind that survival is the first priority, of course), whether it be status modifiers (stuns, Beguile, Pacify, accuracy debuffs, etc.) or wand hits (representing attacks) or recovery spells (pure heals, heals over time aka HoT, Sacrifice) or Life research.

Pull a "Battleblood," and say to your team, "Hey guys, I'm really truly sorry if we all die because of this, but I'm going to wand the Boss to see what happens."  Yeah, that's exactly what I said on voice chat.  It actually became a nice learning experience as we found out exactly what Estrakir did when hurt even the slightest.

I also applied a very strong PVP tactic when in the Warehouse, which made more sense to use since it is one of the reasons why some matches can last 4 hours long.  If an arena team had trouble with breaking this method, I figured the AI and computer enemies would have trouble as well.  This is an example of "experimenting"; I applied a new idea (the tactic) to a setting it has never been heavily used in before (PVE).

Once you see an effect, try it out again, with different spells of the same category, to see if the Interrupt triggers again.  When you encounter obstacles early on, and are able to classify and explain with confidence what all the causes and all the effects are, you've just "mastered" that Boss!


Whatever the situation, Celestia should not be handled too lightly.  Grizzleheim was only difficult in the sense of Enemy HP per rewards, but we got over that quickly just by upgrading our Wizards' strength.  Even the Hall of Valor was tolerable, and required small tweaks to our decks.  However, from what we can see from Briskbreeze and the Warehouse (parts of the game post-Malistaire), higher damage, health, accuracy, power pip percentage, and/or resistance do not serve as a means for success.  Instead of improving our gear, we need to improve the ways we think about, see, and play the game.  

Good luck in your adventures, my friends.