Monday, October 25, 2010

The Sea Cucumber

@DragonBrightWiz made this for me :)

If you haven't seen it yet, check Friendly's post here.

That's why.

Plus, Celestia's coming up on Wednesday of this week.  I think I'm ready....

The Arena: Prologue (Wild Bolting)

There are a lot of negative views towards the arena, but I feel that the image of human-vs-human play has been tainted unjustifiably by a magnitude of poor sports and cheap shots.  However, KingsIsle recently made some fixes to the game that has arguably increased the call for creativity over cookie-cutter techniques.  Brian,  also known as The Overachieving Necromancermentions two notorious "methods" for what was heavily deemed unfair:  Wild Bolting and Chain Stunning.  We'll explore the former in this post.

"Wild Bolting" is a tactic that involves attempting to "spam" (cast over and over) a primary Storm Spell (meaning it's not available as a Secondary) called Wild Bolt (pictured below).  (Ahh, attack of parenthetical explanations!)

Zap, zap!

The reason that this card is widely despised is because of the damage output (a whopping 1,000) for such a low cost (2 Pips).  Now, there's only a 10% chance of hitting, naturally.  But, with a Sniper (+20% Accuracy) enchantment applied to it, and if the user wears Arena Gear, Wild Bolt then has a 46% chance of hitting.  Add in a Pet giving Storm-Shot and/or Sharp Eye, and that player can reach the odds of 51-56%.  Before KingsIsle implemented the fix on Enchantments, players were able to distribute "Snipered" 'Bolts to others. 

It was a game-bending issue, since players with twice as much heath than a Storm player, such as Ice, Life, and Balance, had access to this potent spell.  What was the point of using a Diviner when you had more endurance with other classes, AND the same chance to hit with universal accuracy boosts?  It became totally uncalled for when someone with over 2700 hitpoints to spare was taking advantage of their health to try to "spike" (an action that causes a very sharp health loss; think about losing half of your max health in one turn) the other player.  With a possible 51-56% chance, given today's windows.

Fortunately, a past update has stopped imports and exports of enchanted cards between Wizards.  Bolts that were made right before the updates (rapid manufacturing due to anticipation of patching) turned into Storm Elves, according to Ronan Dawn and Cheryl Fire.  Thus, access and utilization of this ability was minimized to Storm Wizards, and PVP was a little more balanced.

More recently, in the early Test Realm (Celestia debut), this seemingly endless window of accuracy was shut down by this change:

Zzz or Zip or Zap or POW-BOOM!
...which more recently changed to "10 or 100 or 1000."

Now with two tiers of probabilities to go through (whether the spell Fizzles or not, and what value of damage is generated), winning by "Wild-Bolting" has been significantly reduced, and should someone claim a victory doing 1,000+ damage with one of these, it's all down to real great luck on their part, and empty of strategy (in my opinion, at least).  If someone claims to use these as "shield breakers," I'd call them out on it; Lightning Bats does a solid 245-285 damage (equivalent to a 100-damage bolt with a Critical), and is a much better use for two pips.  Consistency is more reliable than chance (Hey!  An advanced PVP concept to explore in the future!).

Thus, fear not the tales of 4-minute battles against Storm Wizards.  Losing easily in the arena is, well, not so easy anymore!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

BUN: Media Items

Second Petnome Project segment just below.  It was meant to be on Ravenwood Radio Episode 27, but I was late on editing...but here it is anyway:

Alric Ravensinger drew this AWESOME doodle for me:

...which I colored:

I may have to ask him to do a banner-sized one for me...and for Petnome...maybe bribe him with some Mega Snacks....then request for glossies....

Then here's my personally rejected Petnome Project logo...Alpha stage...but it looks psychadelic!  

My chessboard at my Watchtower Hall, completed!  Life-based pets vs. Myth-based pets.

Pawns - Silverback Wildclaw - Too easy and common to find when farming Coven as much as I did
Rooks - Guardian Dragon - "Tower" Shields; natural role here
Knights - Minotaur - Hooves, can't get any closer than that
Bishops - White Rat Magician - Noble and dignified
Queen - Myth Sprite - Only female-depicted Myth pet I could find/remember at the time
King - Red Gobbler - Because he "can't wait to be King"

Pawns - Imp - Found very cheap from Pet Pavilion's Pet Store
Rooks - Defender Pig - Tower "defense" protection you'll ever get
Knights - Unicorn - Self-explanatory
Bishops - Life Banshee - I had two, so...
Queen - Pixie Queen - That should be self-explanatory too...
King - Green Cat Thug - He's buffer than the Treant...

Yep, fun stuff here!  See you in the Spiral!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Grandmaster Crafter Preparation on Live Realm

Good news!  The latest Test Realm update reduced the difficulty to advance to Grandmaster Crafter!  Check out this table I've made showing how you can prepare in the Live Realm before Celestia is released (click to enlarge):

Of course, these numbers are for the dedicated Artisans who want to obtain that badge within the first hour of Celestia's Live release.  I'd rather farm mobs and nodes for most of those Pearls and Stones...

In case you didn't know, you can transfer reagents from one Wizard to another in this update.  So, if you've been doing lifelong collecting sprees on your main or alternates, you're well on your way to the next badge.  Good luck, happy hunting!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Test Realm: Understanding Critical Hits and Blocks

As promised, I managed to get a good amount of research on Critical Hits and Blocks.  A few nights ago, Alric Ravensinger and I hopped into a few Practice PVP, each donning just the Spartan helmet that is given to all Wizards who listen to Dueling Diego's new lecture. 

Way too much pride?  Nah.
The Vicious Helmet gives the wearer +200 Max HP, and +15 Critical Hit Rating.   

What exactly is "Critical Hit Rating?"  How does having a larger or smaller amount affect my battles?

Our very own Sierra Starsong had this to pitch in
I've done a little study on Criticals with a wand (fixed damage amount). It looks like the Crit# is your % chance of getting a Critical hit with that spell type, your Crit# gets reduced by the target's Block# for a net chance. (I'm not sure if a Blocked Critical does regular damage or if it gets blocked completely.)

Yes, a Critical Hit does double damage.

Healing spells can get Criticals as well, healing twice as much, if you've got a Crit# in the appropriate school (or a universal one).
Thanks, Sierra!  Basically, having even one point in Critical Hit Rating (CHR) will give you an opportunity, albeit a small one, to double the value of your successfully casted spell.  If I "crit" on a 100-damage wand strike without any damage boost in that school, I will do 200 damage (on a non-resisting opponent) whether I have 5 CHR or 120 CHR.

However, if the opponent has some value in Block, it doesn't decrease my chance of doing twice my damage.  Instead, it is a passive bonus that directly affects the Wizard with the Block attribute; they have a chance on the same scale as CHR to completely nullify (that means cancel, void, ignore, etc.) the extra damage from Critical Hit.  So, if my wand attack "crits", and becomes Blocked, it means I'll still do 100 damage as normal, but my "crit" won't be counted at all.

Similarly, if I cast a Pixie--and "crit"--without any Incoming % or Outgoing % or heal-related charms, I will receive up to 800 recovered health, whether I have 5 CHR or 120 CHR.  "Up to" considers that there may be a Doom and Gloom and/or Infection in play.

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Beyond the Spiral: Extra Life (Ravenwood Radio)

Click the above picture to root for Stephen Spiritcaller and Leesha Darkheart as they tread through 3 hours of broadcasted gaming in the Spiral.  Start time is at 12 PM Pacific, 2 PM Central, and 3 PM Eastern Time!  See you all there, and mind the chatroom rules!  Banhammy's polished up nice and "good" in honor of the children's hopitals, so be good, or your wizard may get sent to some shabby medical center....say...St. Mungo's?  Peace!

Friday, October 15, 2010

New "Mistblood" Released: Page 30

I was going to wait until Monday, but what the hey...

For the entire series, click here!

Page 30

Thursday, October 14, 2010

New "Mistblood" Released: Page 29

Very long overdue, but the series shall continue!  Thanks for everyone's patience!

For the entire series, please click here.

Page 29

Test Realm: Celestian Pets

Because this post would have created an unnecessarily long Test Realm recap, here's a short analysis for each of the new, purchasable pets introduced with Celestia.  At time of this writing, the first four pets can be bought for either CROWNS or GOLD (Test Realm):

Hands down, the Spinyfish is a must-have for Storm Wizards!  This frowning little guy actually brightened the Team up, seeing how it has only ONE passive talent (Eager), while the rest are actives (direct benefit to the Wizards).  That means there's very little chance that you'll feel disappointed after raising this creature up a few ranks.  Of course, if Stormtrap and Stormblade actually worked and wasn't bugged, then there's almost no chance you'll end up with a non-functioning sidekick.  Come on, KingsIsle, what's up with these inactives?  Anyway, even if those May Casts aren't going off just yet, this fish is a great investment!

The Sea Dragon is probably the most impressive pet I've yet to see; it's the first pet I've seen to give all active Talents, meaning it is free of Stat Boosts.  Thus, the bonuses that this First Generation gives will already contain your best possible windows for the Fire School.  If you're a Pyromancer, get this little goofy guy as soon as Test goes Live.  If he doesn't produce the exact Talent combination you want, he will serve as a key pet to Hatch against.

While this creepy Starfish is not yet complete like the other two, he is bound to be in a Thaumaturge's collection, especially mine as soon as Live is updated.  Nothing's greater than having the best health out of all schools AND having blades or traps set for you while you shield up!  Heck, with all the PVP players out there now carrying Melt to prevent a Tower Shield from being used, it's definitely going to be handy to have an Interrupt by this guy with an Ice spell, which will help remove those Dispels.  Of course, like with the Spinyfish mentioned above, those May casts need to start working.  Then again, I'm really trying to think about buying this pet, carefully at least...I'm just not too fond about his cheesy grin.

 Hmm...its active Talents aren't as diverse at the preceding pets, but the Sea Turtle has a satisfying seven to choose from.  It's Life-based and has Sprite Time (note:  not Spritely, unfortunately), but that's all there is for non-standard (-Giver, -Proof, -Shot, Pip O'Plenty, Health/Mana Gift) abilities.  Thus, if you're focused solely on cosmetics and would enjoy having a shelled follower, by all means grab this pet at will!  Otherwise, if you already have a decent Life pet, take a rain check on this creature.  

I didn't think that Jellyfish could be cute at all, until seeing this one...Wizard hat on an invertebrate:  goofy!  Good news is that we all get this pet, as soon as we "Use the Moon Portal."  That's a long way's to go...Missy and I were around 54 or 55 by the time we were given this quest, and we were using XP potions on all of our quests.  We haven't uncovered this creature just yet, but I don't have high hopes of this pet turning out to be phenomenal.  So far, we discovered those standard active talents, which are great for Necromancers, and found that this critter has  chance to manifest Curse Giver!  I'm hoping Talent Slot 5 would be some kind of "May Cast" talent, like Deathblade or Deathtrap.  Not sure what the final uncovered Rare one would be, but I'll put a few gold down and say it'll be something like Eager (like Spinyfish's) or another Passive Talent.

KingsIsle did mention that there were other pets out there that take some work on finding...I'm guessing those would be drop-only pets!  So, readers, if you find any new Celestian pets out there, be sure to let us know, either by emailing petnome at hotmail dot com (I'm noticing some spam mail lately, so I'm following in Lisa Jonte's footsteps) or replying in the comments section below, so we can get started on those pages.  Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Test Realm: The Magic of Celestia, Weekend 1

Now that my speech class presentation is over and done with, time to catch up on blogging!

I'm sitting at work on Friday, occasionally checking my cell phone after it vibrates, keeping up with a few Twizards (Wizards who are active on Twitter) and following the gaming convention hype vicariously through Friendly and Leesha.  As soon as word drops from Tom that the Test Realm is out and Celestia is featured, my concentration levels drop, my body becomes jittery, and my eyes dart towards the computer clock profusely.  "How much longer until I'm getting out of here!!?!"  

Nothing could have ruined my day though, as soon as I was out of there.  No, not even the long line I had to wait in at the end of the day to renew my parking pass, and especially not the clerk who refused to validate my entrance pass.  Heck, I just had to talk to Maureen the ticket window lady about my issue, and she took real great care of me, and signed me out at my own fee rate.  And certainly, not even Lady Gaga's annoying "Telephone" song, played simultaneously on two of my favorite radio stations, could annoy me; I drove down that highway with it blasting, windows rolled down, and possibly drawing looks of disapproval and rolled eyes from those I passed.  Celestia was out for rolling around in, and that was all that mattered.

During my ticket pass re-registration, Fallon Deathslinger was more than generous enough to relay to me the Update Notes over the phone.  So, my mind was constantly reeling over what "Critical Hits/Blocks" were, and I tried to imagine the Astral magic spells based on what I learned from Deathywiz.  That kept me so busy that I didn't notice I was already off the highway and back in my residential area (and luckily not in a ditch).  

After finishing the Test Realm patches, I hopped into the Spiral, and was instantly greeted by notifications from Merle Ambrose and Dueling Diego while in the Bazaar.  Ronan Dawn began relaying to me through chat  his observations and amazement at the new content.  

Me being me, I took the odd, slow road, and instead of blasting through the door into the Headmaster's office, I began scanning around my current surroundings, and talked to the Master Merchant for any new items.

First, I want to point out how amazed I was when I saw how my Test Realm screenshots turned out.  Currently on the Live Realm and previously in past Test Realms, taking in-game pictures included a portion of my desktop because I play in windowed mode.  Thus, I was always finding myself manually cropping the image down to just the game window before displaying them.  But, this picture is unmodified!  I wonder why this user-friendly update wasn't included in the notes?

Anyway, as you can see here, a new column was added in the Treasure Card category: Astral treasures!  However, at the time of this snapshot, there weren't any cards for sale.  Oh well!

I later made my way over to Dueling Diego to see what news he had for me.  Neela Mythslinger, aka Miguel Wildthorn, teleported to me to also check out the information on Critical Hits and Blocks.  While we didn't find out in detail how the values were determined based on the boosts on armor, we got a neat Spartan helmet giving us some Critical Rating.  From just some observations of Criticals in battle, it looks like players are given a chance to double their damage, after Charm and Wards have been calculated.  I'll definitely be testing further into this over this next coming weekend.

I zoomed and hovered over to Ambrose, who gave me a new mission: check out a new world called Celestia.  I went above and beyond that task.

Whenever new content of anything is presented to me, I will dissect and explore as much of it as I can; I love and yearn for the aspects of "how" and "why", not just "what."  As soon as I entered the underwater realm, I hugged the wall from left to right to check out NPCs and vendors to get a better understanding of each character's role.  Through this, it allows me to establish a primitive mental map, so I'm not as lost as someone diving straight into quests without direction or a point of reference.  

As soon as I saw the Pet Vendor, I went straight into "work mode" for the Petnome Project.  Yeah, that's me being me, again, I know, I know.  

Check these two cards out:  

The Jewel of the Feint is sold directly from the Amulet Vendor.  The Test Realm happened to copy my character after he bought back Training Points around two weeks ago, so including this wonderful trap to my deck as an equipment card made me very happy, since I didn't have to spend 7 TPs!  You can see that this will stack up with the regular, Bartleby, and crafted Feints!  (I'll put up a post on another day to show how you can eventually stack up to five).

The Iceblade Vial is actually a crafted item, but is way too useful to pass up the Grandmaster Crafter badge; this spell will stack with the Iceblade given from Ice Bird and the one from my own school!  That's Ice damage amplified by 2.744 times from those three buffs.  While Feint may give me a whopping boost of 70%, that's only on one monster.  As Ice, I would want to pack in some some decent damage to either knock out the smaller minions in a boss fight, or gain their attention while my Storm and Fire allies lock and load with their blades and traps.

Speaking of which, here's my planned Astral build, which I'll write more about in another post:

I've noticed a lot of people exclaiming their concern about replenishing their mana and how they're lost on where to do so.  I don't recall seeing any mana wisps in Celestia; I've mainly resorted to teleporting back to the Celestian Base Camp (CL's "Commons") to play the minigames available there.

As  you can see, the sigils are hidden just by Prospector Zeke; a little frustrating to find for those who like to speed through ;)

I'll end with my favorite boss to fight:

DAGROLOTH; I was in Gobbler Polymorph (notice my health orb)
"Purple Hulk" was initially frustrating to fight against, given that he had 5,000 hitpoints, uses a Satyr that heals for five thousand, and towers every time a Charm (negative or positive) or Ward (negative or positive) was used by a Wizard.  He does drop some really cool Double Power Pip weapons, though....yep, Double Power Pip...meaning you can start out with 5 or 6 equivalent Pips.  We do have to wait until Level 55 before using them, but it's worth it!  I'll create yet another separate post on how to beat this gargantuan.

He's located in the Grotto, in the dead middle of the map where my shining green arrow is:

Oh yeah, make sure you have a Tank in the Sun Spot, because he has a chance to do this on the very first turn:

Holy mackerel, and I had 26-30% Universal Resist!
Thanks for reading!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Arena: Prologue


I ran into a thread a few days ago on Wizard101 Central where someone (I can't remember their name; it seems the thread has either been moved to somewhere discrete, or been deleted) asked where they could find PVP guides written by me.  Just to clear up the rumors, I actually don't have any type of articles purely on that matter...until now.   Most of my guidance was given through the game, so I'm assuming the requester overheard me at a post-match discussion or in the Hatchery the other night.  Heck, with all the buzz on Twitter awhile ago, I've been unofficially labeled as the go-to person for the arena.

But that got me thinking.  Why exactly haven't I started up on sharing some tactics just yet? (rhetorical question)  Someone guessed it was because letting strategies surface would backfire on me someday.  That's a possible consequence, but remember that we are playing a game that involves probabilities, and thus there are no "absolute" or "invincible" deck builds or playstyles.  So, while tips and tricks may help reduce game-changing mistakes, they never guarantee victories.  Guides are just guides.

In my case, I'll be introducing and exploring some basic and advanced concepts for PVP over the next few weeks.  And because they're just concepts, it's really up to the player's critical thinking and decision-making that determines the outcome.  No negative repercussions for me there; only more competitors and competent players!

WHY do PVP?  For one, it allows you to explore your strategies, playstyle, and leadership skills in a new dimension.  Cassandra Dragonheart, who's just started in the last few weeks, wrote:
Playing against HUMAN players and not mobs brings a whole new side of Wizard101 to light.  Human players can think ;) and not just blade, trap, attack.  PvP is a whole 'nother thing.
Against another human, gameplay is not as repetitive as farming the Coven; arguably, the game is different every match, even when against the same Wizard.  When your target is putting up enough shields to thwart that common strategy of a one-hit kill, you are then playing in a "world" that is much more difficult and demanding than Dragonspyre.  In contrast to altering your playstyle away from "trap-stacking," you will also be experimenting defensively, finding yourself using more shields than before, to prevent an opponent's "trap-stacking."

Through learning to innovate by planning your deck against the unknown and unexpected, you're halfway there to being fully prepared against future Cheater bosses.  As mentioned before in my Warehouse Guide, I pointed out that my group and I had very little knowledge of how the instance bosses behaved, other than that they used Rank 7 spells, including Rebirth.  Heck, I was the only one who PVPed regularly between the four of us, but by applying a strategy I had learned from the Arena, we beat Estrakir, without guides, on the Test Realm, on our very first attempt.  Thus, PVP also provides mental and tactical tools to use, no matter what your skill level or rank is.  Whether you win or lose a match, there is something always to be gained from the experience (given that your mind is open, and that you do not give up).  Beguile puts the target on your team for a few rounds.  Minions can break shields.  Life Dispel can prevent Life-based healing spells from going off.  Such information is vital to know, should we find "trap-stacking" too simplistic in the future.  Who knows what PVP will teach us about the coming Astral Magics and new Main School spells?

Before I throw down the playbook, I'd like to use the next few days (and posts) to discuss the perspectives on PVP a little more in depth, to clear up some general perceptions on it.  In other words, this Prologue will be extensive, and expanded over a few days.  Hopefully I can broaden the interest of those who have not yet tried PVP (but heard many "bad" things about the arena), or bring redemption for the sport in the eyes of those who tried and quit.