Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Arena: Prologue (Competitive Scene)

Unfortunately, there are some aspects of the Arena that KingsIsle cannot easily and reliably mandate:  unsportsmanlike behavior and other dark factors of competition.  Verbal/personal attacks (known as "trash talking"), false reporting, accusations of breaking the rules, extreme or abnormal taunting (such as spamming Menu Chat endlessly), and use of derogative words (especially in a family-friendly environment) by an opponent--or opposing team--are just a few of the violations of competitive etiquette in Wizard101.


Several Defenses

The game's white list may protect viewers from seeing actual profanity, but up against the cleverness of useless players, it is trumped.  It cannot block against phonetic spelling, such as in this "send tense” (sentence).  This loophole can easily be countered by switching your Privacy Options' "Block PVP Chat" to "ON."  (Remember to Report the offender for “Inappropriate Language” or “Inappropriate Behavior.”)

But, what happens when spectators of the match are the ones throwing "trolling flurries?"  A great fix for pure soloists (in complete solitude and lacking friends to chat to)  is done in two steps:

  • hitting the "O" hotkey to Open/Close the Chat Window and
  • accessing your Gameplay Options to "HIDE" "Chat Balloons."  This temporary adjustment to your settings will allow you to PVP without having to see textual waste flying across the screen.

But, what if you are playing a teamed game, like 2v2 or more?  Given that not all players can voice chat with one another, communication via the chat box is vital for participants.  Hence, the next readily available resort is to click on the name(s) of the offensive speaker(s) and set them to "Ignore."  However, even this has a catch: "ignored" players each require a slot from your Friends List.  So, if you're full on contacts like I am, this option is out of the question; you'll have to see public messages from the audience simultaneously with Group Chat.


Seeing the Picture

With so many layers of countermeasures against malicious text, a player who is unfamiliar with the Arena scene may believe that inappropriate behavior is prevalent.  Some subscribers have even avoided participation in PVP (which is an included feature with their payment plan) because of the environment.  Others who have given the activity a try have commented accordingly on Cassandra Dragonheart’s post on PVP.  Then there are some extremists who lovingly use “PVP” and “PVPers” as negative connotations...but before we judge, allow me to take us on a few different avenues.

Think of a competitive sport you like to play for fun.  Football.  Basketball.  Maybe even underwater basket weaving.  Field and track.  It’s evident that human nature is a welcoming host to the notion of “comparison.”  In our minds, something has to have “better” or “worse” status than another thing; without this thought process, we as a society would be in a state of chaos due to randomly made decisions.  However, when we rely so heavily on the ability of “contrasting” and (consequentially) condition ourselves to think very linearly about “what trumps what,” we will also find ourselves in trouble.

For example, the tallest child in the playground may seemingly be the best teammate to have in basketball (via comparison), but (1) does he know how to play, (2) has he had experience with the weight and bounce of a ball, (3) is he playing to win or playing for fun, and (4) what do we know about the other children and their skills?  Some of us forget to realize that there is more than what’s shown on the surface.  Hence, just because you are in the state of winning/losing a match or have won/lost a game, it doesn’t mean you’re a better/worse player.  Yet, our nature and our perception tend to associate the outcome or progress of a duel to our skill level in relation to the other player(s).  This is truly a dangerous perspective as it allows taunting or “bad sport” players to affect how you play. 

Professional sports players deal with “boos,” jeers, and some of the nastiest comments every second that they’re on the field or court.  Spectators and cheerleaders who are against a certain player or team will try anything, from name-calling and chanting to gestures, to try and distract their target.  This is still ongoing to today regardless if the player performs decently (despite the distractions) because, as with all activities, there’s a constant psychological flow called a “stream of consciousness” that can be disrupted.  This part of our mind is continuously processing our thoughts, both on surface and instinctive levels, and do tie into instantaneous decisions.  A soccer player aiming for the goal is focused on the ball, but he or she could have hundreds of thoughts flowing in per second.  “Do I trick the goalie?…Too complicated?…They are skilled at diving but bad at predicting ball movement…We’re down by 1 and desperate for a tie…How many teammates are behind me?  Opponents?  Do I pass or take the shot?  The goalie is solid…do I trick them?…Everyone would be shouting my name if I make this…Too soon, don’t count eggs…Good breakfast this morning…I feel good about this…I’m going to try to score…All or nothing…”  With determined thoughts, the player will have a certain pressure or speed to their kick that would develop a winning move.  However, there are fans of the other team behind their goalie, waving around objects and yelling discouraging slurs.  If the player in possession allows that “background noise” to break their current stream of consciousness, the pressure or speed of the kick may change, resulting in a failed attempt to add a mark to the tally.  In Wizard101, spectators and opponents (if Block PVP Chat is not enabled) may throw text of all sorts (passive-aggressive, direct, indirect, etc.), not necessarily focusing on being mean to you personally, but also to affect your decision-making.  The ugly truth is that this sort of pressure is “fair game,” as long as it doesn’t violate KingsIsle’s Terms of Use

So, back to perception:  when you win a duel against someone who was rude or had rude cheerleaders, you may feel a stronger sense of dignity and pride along with some other positive emotions.  You generally have a greater incentive to start up another match, since you “proved” yourself.  It may even turn into an amusing story to share with friends.  On the other hand, had you lost that match, there are clashing reactions from frustration to disappointment.  In contrast to winning, you may feel as if your opponents “proved” something.  Words cut deeper at this point, and can even discourage you from starting up another duel, or in extreme cases, can lead you to quit PVP altogether.  What do you do at this point?


Seeing the Facts

An important concept to grasp, in any activity, is that losing is actually a greater long-term benefit than winning.  You’re given not only experience on what techniques and tricks are used in the arena, but you also tested your deck on its strengths (if it has any) and weaknesses.  All deck builds are subject to weaknesses of some sort, and most likely yours was countered in its current state.  Remember a post I made awhile ago, called “How to Face New Challenges,” which was geared towards beating the “unknown”?  The variation of spells in our deck also matter in PVP.  Having (or lacking) certain cards does play a large role in the flow and outcome of your fight. 

For example, too many healing spells can result in fewer attacks that are readily available to you, meaning you are giving your opponents a better chance at surviving.  In addition, if their deck happens to rely on lengthening a match to slowly gain an advantage, then your equipped setup was the actual fail, not you.  Some players rely on short, repetitive and structured decks where they play certain cards at certain rounds, which usually has a strong advantage against “late-game” decks. 

In this direction of thought, I am focused on the idea that winning or losing a match does not constitute that you are a better or worse player compared to your opponent, respectively.  Even if you win or lose a series of matches, being recognized purely on quantitative performance (win/loss record or streaks) is like being given a fragile mask: once a loss interrupts your wins (or vice versa), your skill level is now determined by the performance of others throughout history.  If someone manages a longer streak than you, say in about 8 months from now, does that mean they play better than you?  Of course not; we have yet to determine the skill level of your opponents and their opponents, and all other factors in the game.

Those of you who know me well may recognize my quote, “…Nah, just more experienced.”  A lot of you have heard this after exclaiming, or heard someone exclaim, “Wow, you’re the best PVPer”  or something to that effect.  While it may sound like modesty, it is actually my belief that experience combined with performance is what determines skill level.  What has happened in front of us and what we learn from it and how we apply that knowledge are all determinants for what kind of player we are.

Thus, try not to recognize or give the trolls of the Arena any credibility to their statements.  Some players in the Spiral can be mean with what they do or say, but it will only feel like “the truth” if you respect or listen to their words, or allow their actions to distract you.


Adjusting To a New Experience

I realize that quite a lot of players in Wizard101 don’t have prior gaming experience to this MMO, so dealing with competition in a psychological way is not yet touched on for most of us, hence a lot of concepts above exhibiting an “easier said than done” tone.  The competitive scene may be intimidating, but realize that it should not inhibit your interest in playing against a non-computer opponent.  Think about the sports mentioned earlier.  We accept that fans will boo or cheer obnoxiously in most events, but it doesn’t stop us from learning and playing football, soccer, basketball, etc. with our friends and family.  If you want to jump into the Arena to try out some human-vs-human play, you’re not restricted to playing with the rude kids.  Ask a friend or a friend of a friend to help you improve or provide you with company.  Not only will supportive opponents allow you to focus, but they can help you in trial and error with deck building.  You can use the “Practice PVP” option available to both Crowns and Subscription Players. 

When you think you’re ready to try your skills against strangers, you can slip into “Ranked PVP” or continue at “Practice” against random opponents.  Hold a conversation in Whisper or Group Chat with a PVP partner/mentor/knowledgeable friend, and discuss strategy if time permits.  Or, you can socialize.  Keep your mind busy: focus on the cards and not stranger chat.  Sometimes even silence can psychologically affect the other player if they keep PVP Chat On and see your PVP Chat is enabled too (elaboration will be made in future chapters).

If you find yourself in front of an opponent who has some kind of unique advantage over you (Arena Gear, Crowns Gear, Spritely Pet, Polymorph Cards), don’t think negatively and expect to lose just yet.  Use this match as an opportunity to learn from it, then use your experience to your advantage in your journey to becoming a Warlord and beyond.  If you win, props to you.  If you lose, don’t focus on the benefits their advantage gave them; instead, focus on determining its weaknesses.  A Spritely Pet uses up positive healing charms and has a small chance to trigger; it is also taking up space over a “reliable” talent such as increased Damage, Accuracy, Health, Resist, etc.  Remember that you won’t be playing the same player over and over, but you will face reoccurring tactics, equipment items, and deck builds.  Understanding these is more important than understanding how you already performed against one specific Wizard. 

Also, treat PVP as if you’ve entered a dungeon with special bosses, ones that are randomly created with the ability to plan and adapt to the way you play.  Losing is not a permanent fail; eventually you will perform better the more you watch, read, and ask for tips. 


Applying the Opposite

When these concepts become second-hand to you, try an alternative spin on what’s trending in the Arena.  If players are dominantly rude, respond as a good sport.  Represent yourself as a respectful player, and keep that integrity (meaning that you do it even when no one’s looking).  I admit that I sometimes steer away from self-respect to take up a defensive position for myself and/or others when dealing with poor sports, but all of it becomes a fragment of a memory in the end, thanks to my prior competitive gaming history.  Instead of letting people’s words affect my attitude in the current battle, I focus instead on the dance* between myself and them, to determine if it’s a “GG” (good game) and call it, or not.  (*Great metaphor by winicott1001)

Sometimes I will even offer to share some advice with my opponents that lost at the end of the match, in hopes of not only renewing their incentive to start another PVP battle, but also to encourage them and support their efforts of participating in the challenges of the Arena.  If you recognize someone “incorrectly” using a deck build similar to yours, ask if they would like some tips from you (assuming you know the strategy and tactics well, of course!) or another PVPer.  Sometimes nice gestures can be as viral as this meme; there are countless stories of Starbucks customers paying for the person behind them, resulting in the same act by the following customer. 

Overall, I hope we can restore the “fun” in PVP for existing and future players who have yet to read this post.  Competition isn’t always a scary thing; as I mentioned before, it can act as a tool to improve our strategies and understanding of the game.  What contributes to the intimidation is how we behave and react to various forces.  Thus, with some effort from us, the negative environment won’t have to be a permanent stamp, and more of our friends may take on a greater interest, giving us a larger pool to learn and improve from.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

BUN: Thanksgiving Week

What’s up Readers?  If you haven’t heard from Twitter or Missy yet, I’ve been out of the Spiral for a few days so far, due to a hardware problem.  I play on a laptop, so I’m either going to have to buy a new laptop (graphics card is part of the motherboard, so replacing it is out of the question, sigh…) or try out this innovation called an “external graphics card.”  Some companies have mentioned a few times in the past, around 2007, that this technology would be available…however, I think all of them have backtracked due to the risk of losing new notebook sales.  What contributes to laptop sales is how quickly laptops become “obsolete” due to the difficulty of upgrading its parts.  If I want the best graphics or sound or other hardware, I can’t easily pop open the case, remove a few gadgets, and install new components, since these computers are built for portability, and therefore most hardware are soldered or built into the motherboard.  Anyway, in short, it’s going to be a kick to my wallet if I want to return to the Spiral without using someone else’s computer.

So, I’m pretty useless in terms of researching the new Gardening system that has arrived to a new release of the Test Realm.  Oh, and blast it all, I can’t research for the Petnome Project either!  [insert epic sad face with teardrop.]

Missy’s been real generous to accompany me into another game, Adventure Quest Worlds.  If KingsIsle Entertainment is to family-friendly fun, then Artix Entertainment is to comedy and RPG parody.  Check it out if you haven’t, and here’s a random picture of my character, FurryIceCream:


The character actually didn’t come looking like that…some awesome gear and costumes dropped for my human Mage (currently Level 10), and I “stitched” that on him.  Contrarily, he’s of the “good” alignment.  RawR!

Also on my table is another “The Arena” post, about 65% complete, which I’ve been writing on and off.  There is just so much to cover in this next topic that I’ve been wondering if I should break it into two posts, or if I should stick to my style and write everything out so you get the complete picture in one read.  I have some motivation to do the latter, but here are some hints on what it’s on: psychology, competition, mental preparation.  That’s all for now!

This Thanksgiving is going to be suh-weet!  I’m heading down to arguably the most boring city in my state, but I know I’m going to have mountains of fun.  I’ll meet my youngest baby cousin for the first time (hi Lexi!), and catch up with the rest of the family and kids.  Mashed potatoes are a delicacy to me, and those of you who know me personally can understand why (this means those of you on Skype).  For those of you that celebrate this holiday, remember not to eat too much…I hear there are some awesome Black Friday sales that you won’t want to miss out on via sleeping in.  Speaking of which…I should see if they have some decent machines down there…

Happy GOBBLING week!

[insert Colossus Blvd resident chewing on turducken]

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Petnome Project is Now Official!

Hello readers!

After many grueling hours of working on my research paper (and finally finishing), I re-enabled my Twitter notifications around midnight my time last night, running into Paige Moonshade's Tweet.  So, naturally, I dash over to the fan site listings on Wizard101's official site, and there we are!

Yes, I'm aware the site is listed as a "blog" instead of a "fansite," but  I'm too ecstatic to worry about it :-)

And Isaac Mistheart is also a new addition too!  Congrats, Mistheart!

Tons of people to notably credit for the Project's existence:

The first of many "Thank you's!" goes out to Miguel Wildthorn, the very first person to recognize that first generation Petnomes matched across the same pets.  Without his early discovery, we would have been in the dark for a few extra weeks (if not months) on the way pets and their hidden abilities behaved.  Also, while we were developing visuals for the Petnome pages, Miguel's persistence helped provide the display of the Pedigree number after the Pet name, thus helping us understand that different versions of Level 48 pets existed.

Next, the Friendly Necromancer himself for being a major influence that sparked a group collaboration, expanding on Miguel's findings.  His support extends from sending his own data submissions into the project, holding a contest to sponsor us, and writing a few posts mentioning us here and there...heck, we're also listed in his "Handy Wizard101 Links" section.

Another important sponsor of ours is Ravenwood Radio, where, on a couple of their episodes, the Petnome Project was mentioned in detail.  Leesha even went as far as to include us in one of her interview questions with Joseph Hall and J. Todd Coleman!  She and Stephen were kind enough to hold a series of contests to bring attention to our work, and between the "Father of Wizard101 Blogs" and our beloved DJ's, many hundreds of entries poured in to help us completely map 41 pets as of this date!

What's a "project" to be without its researchers?  Many kudos go out to Heather Raven, Sierra Starsong, and Kestrel Shadowthistle for their very first contributions...I remember these ladies had at least 30 each on the first night of the form's release!  Heather Emeraldflame generously supplied us with a majority of the blank Petnomes and pet portraits, and hundreds of Pet entries.  And, our newest team member, Missy aka Scarlet Deathblood, has been helping me out a lot for the past few weeks with updating the site as regularly as I do.  Go team!

And of course, last but not least, KingsIsle, pet enthusiasts, loyal contributors, Blogleagues (colleague Bloggers), Twizards (Wizards on Twitter), and site users have all played very significant roles in encouraging and supporting our work.  From the end of May until now, we've gone a long way because of you all, and are very grateful for every ounce of help and effort.  We proudly look forward to continually providing the community with the latest Petnome information and updates.

Once again, thank you everyone!

--Kevin Battleblood and the Petnome Team

(Honorable mentions go out to Diary of a Wizard's Fallon Shadowblade, who initially offered to host for us, and Wolf Gazer (Sierra's husband) for assisting us with technical web issues.)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

New Mount: Black Panther

Courtesy of Bailey Skystaff, click on second picture to see how to get it!

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Arena: Prologue (Chain-Stunning)

One of the most loathsome playstyles that may discourage or turn a player away from the Arena is "Chain-stunning."  What happens is the "chain-stunning team" will load their decks with a few specific cards that complement one another to produce the effect of permanently immobilizing their opponents; this was easier to perform in 4v4.  These cards include Choke (from Fire) and/or Blinding Light (Myth), both of which incapacitate all members of the opposite team, for a mere two (2) pips, and Earthquake (Myth), which deals AOE damage and previously removed all wards and charms (positive and negative) from enemies.

The "first generation" chain-stun was comprised more of the use of two or more of the inexpensive AOE-Stuns:  Choke and/or Blinding Light.  

Originally, whenever a stun affects someone, a single ward (Stun Shield) appears on the victim, to prevent yet another disable from landing on him/her.  To remove this shield to open the person for another Stun, a ward removal spell (such as Steal Ward [Ice] or Pierce [Myth]) or a Stun must be played.  This was a highly effective defensive mechanic for 1v1.

But, when a team of wizards (two or more) was utilized, a loophole was created: one wizard would immobilize with Choke or Blinding Light, and then a second would cast either of those spells in the same turn, to remove each Stun Shield.  Or, if the opposing team managed to put up any Stun Shields (assuming they have first turn), the double cast could still produce the same result: one AOE-stun to remove the Stun Shields, and a second to paralyze the now-vulnerable players.

Hence, the other side was disabled and unprotected from a second wave of stun.  Because of the low pip-cost, there was a requirement of a minimum of one turn and a Power Pip generated for each "chain-stunner" in order to repeat this tactic.  With a high rate of Power Pip chance, "chain-stunners" could virtually create an infinite loop.  True, while decks at the time could hold up to seven (7) copies for certain schools, there was still the sideboard to hold Enchanted (per Accuracy boosts) stun cards.  Thus, a flaw such as not having a stun in hand was easily avoided.

By forcing the other team to pass each and every turn, other members (mainly attackers) could efficiently set up for mountains of damage, usually in AOE form.  Damage reduction shields and charms would not be a factor against a "chain-stun" team, if their enemies are prohibited from casting anything.

Nothing was more demoralizing or offending than entering a battle with a wisely created deck and strategy, only to find your wizard unable to act offensively or defensively every single turn of the battle.  Crowns Players suffered the most from a loss (pretty self-explanatory there) due to "chain-stunning."  The only true counter to this at the time was to have First Turn and your own "chain-stun" team; this was a type of fire that even water could not put out.

Luckily, an update in June of this year somewhat corrected this loophole, but "chain-stunning" was still possible, and along came the "second generation" tactic.

KingsIsle modified the secondary effect of stuns to not produce just one Stun Shield, but four (4).  This counteractive update successfully trumped the ability to spam AOE-Stun after AOE-Stun.  Even if the "chain-stunning" team all used a disable-all spell, their opponents would have at least one turn to act since there was now a shield for every potential stunner.  So, along came the use of the spell that has the ability to remove all wards:  Earthquake.

With a more concentrated and synchronized team (at least three Myth Wizards, especially) one could still chain-disable opponents.  I'm not going to go into lengthy details on the procedure, but if enough people are interested in this expired method, I'd be happy to update this post.  (I still remember that annoying battle against four Myths, just the day before Celestia arrived).

The arrival of today's update has added further countermeasures against the act of "chain-stunning."

Without the ability to remove all Stun Shields and disable all opponents in two or more consecutive turns, there is a largely improved balance in Player vs. Player.  Crowns Players will get their money's worth whether they pay a fee per match or a time-interval pass, as their wizard(s) will have at least a chance to fight or cast back.  As of now, players are free to test themselves offensively and defensively in any match.  Go forth, fair duelers; it's a new dawn.

November 8 Updates

Major and minor updates to talk about! The following updates have been made to the game:
  1. All pet hatching prices have been reduced by 25%

  2. Pets with Talents that cast Blades or Traps will now cast those Blades and Traps.

  3. Celestia
  4. The Lunar Chest will no longer disappear if a friend Teleports to you in the Moon Room.

  5. Teleports have been added to the Crustacean Empire area.

  6. Combat
  7. Boys should sound like boys when they take damage, and girls should once again sound like girls.

  8. Earthquake will no longer remove Stun Shields.

  9. Quests
  10. Players will no longer be required to complete a series of side quests to enter the Dojo for the Obsidian Chest Quest called Wizard Tours.

  11. Other
  12. We have decreased the side to side movement of the shark mount.
  13. Tuesday, November 2, 2010

    Spritely Mechanics

    Ever seen a pet interrupt battle to do this?

    For the hundredth time, I am NOT the Green Lantern!

    This Pet Talent, Spritely, has recently spiked in its reception and popularity among intermediate and advanced players, and is slowly making its way to fascinate and interest beginners.  In response, I think it's time we explored this nifty skill a little more.

    In game, when a player mouses over this talent,

    they will see a description box saying "May Cast Life Spell."  Basically, the pet will cast an enhanced Sprite on its owner.  The total amount of heal received from this ability is more than the actual Sprite card itself.

    As you can see, the regular card does an initial 30 Heal, and 90 Heal per Tick for 3 rounds.  Spritely does an initial base of 50 Heal, and 100 Heal per Tick for 3 rounds.  And if that's not enough whip cream on your banana split, Spritely doesn't have a Pip Cost...it's free!

    "Is there a method to [this] madness?"  Certainly!  While it is uncontrollable, there are actually ways to play to increase your chances of seeing this ability trigger:

    Basically, when you see an effect or some number floating and rising, that's a potential for Spritely to go off.

    It may trigger when a Charm or Ward (negative or positive), Damage, Healing, Control (Stun, Beguile, etc.), Lifesteal, Star aura, Global Aura (Bubble), etc. is casted.

    Following this mechanic/rule, we can then expect Spritely to have a chance to appear up to FOUR times for every AOE (Area of effect; hit-all/heal-all), for one Spritely-Pet.  

    Let's say I use Blizzard against four monsters, and I am alone with a Spritely-Pet.  For every chunk of ice that hurts those creatures, I get a "lottery ticket" with a random number.  

    Now let's assume there's a rule that only even-numbered "lottery tickets" will generate a Spritely.  This creates a range (-4, -2, 0, 2, 4, 6, ... 100, 102, 104, ... etc.) that my "tickets" have to fall in.

    So, if I hit four targets, there's a chance I may see Spritely casted once, twice, thrice, or four times on me, depending on how many "tickets" were even numbers.  With the odds, however, it's technically a smaller range (perhaps the rule is numbers with 0 as the last digit, or with 9 as one of the digits, etc.)

    Thus, if all wizards on one team had a Spritely-Pet, Spritely may trigger up to 16 times for every AOE before a turn ends (very, very, very, very tiny chance of happening).  Furthermore, if all of those wizards used an AOE, that would mean 64 times.  (I'd count this as extremely improbable, since the average I've seen is 4 before a turn ends on an AOE team).

    The same mechanic applies to repeat-hit spells, such as Minotaur, Orthrus, and Hydra.  

    Minotaur and Orthrus both hit a target twice (two floating numbers), and therefore have a chance to trigger Spritely twice on any wizard with a Spritely-Pet.  Intuitively, Hydra will produce three chances per Spritely-Pet.

    Also, Damage Over Time can, too, increase Spritely chances.

    We noticed that when we were stunned by Blinding Light and hit by a Dragon, Spritely would go off even when our wizards were forced to pass turns.  That's why I originally thought that "passing" could spark the Sprite, but I didn't consider that the Ticks were a factor.  But, after much observation, "passing" was "doing nothing," while the Ticks created an effect.

    *~*~* (the information below this separator line is going further into the mechanics, but it's not vital to understand them; skip the text between the pink separators if you'd like)

    Now that we've covered how often Spritely can show itself, let's take a look on a deeper process:  when does a wizard get their successful Spritely when more than one wizard has a Spritely-Pet?

    Let's say that Missy, Ronan, Fallon, and Cassandra are in the battle circle in this order, so the farthest right (Cassandra) has first turn, and the farthest left (Missy) plays her card last.  Imagine that they get hit by...I don't know...a Rebirth (just to be nice :P); Cassandra casts the spell.  Now let's separate the spell into four components:  Heal on C, Heal on F, Heal on R, Heal on M.  That's the order they are healed under Rebirth, naturally.

    Assume Spritely goes off only on even "tickets."  Diving further into scenario-crafting:
    • All four wizards receive an even "ticket" on Heal on C
    • Only Fallon gets an even "ticket" on Heal on F
    • Ronan and Cassandra gets an even "ticket" on Heal on R
    • No wizards have an even ticket from Heal on M.
    Spritely triggers in reverse order per effect.  Thus, for Heal on C, Spritely will trigger on M first, then R, then F, then C.  For the Heal on R, Spritely will trigger on R first, then C.

    Thus, after Rebirth is casted in the above scenario, this is the entire order that Spritely will trigger in, before Fallon's turn is given:
    M, R, F, C, F, R, C.
    That is why you see the triangle sometimes zig-zagging between players, such as "last turn" then "first turn" then "third turn" and once again for "last turn" for Spritely.  So, in PVP, when I see an interrupt and the triangle points towards the last person, it's good news...really, really great news, actually.  When the triangle first points to the "first turn" wizard, I'm still excited, but there's a lower chance that more than one teammate gets a Spritely before the next wizard's turn.


    Well, it took many weeks to understand and dissect, but I'm glad we've gotten this far!  Hopefully this answers JessTheTheurge's question.

    A little off topic, but I'm pretty satisfied that my hundredth blog post is about my favorite Pet Talent.  Cheers!

    *Special thanks to Perfect Catch for their support, enthusiasm, passion, and efforts in working as a team!

    Monday, November 1, 2010

    BUN: Adventures in Celestia (Tales and Tips)

    The past few days have been such a blast with all the new spells, equipment, monsters, quests, income rate, challenges, pets, and strategies that have flooded into the Spiral on the Live Realm.  As with our characters, we were submerged into a whole new world called Celestia, and my PVP team "Perfect Catch" and I were ready and anticipated surprises or twists along the way.  True, some of us were able to touch on the new features in Test Realm (TR), but a few changes, such as the removal of the spells Simplify and Elucidate and the adjustments made to Level 55 weapons, meant our experience was going to be much different.  Similar to how we explored the new world in TR, we split up and played "individually" instead of as a group.  Different schedules called for varying progression rates.

    Normally, I am a solo-type gamer, meaning I usually dislike playing with others.  However, the aspects of Wizard101 have undeniably shown that this game was developed with a lot of hindsight to the negative factors of multiplayer interaction.  Instead of a "Greed or Need" system, everyone has the same chance for the same loot, regardless of party size or damage dealt.  Without competition amongst companions, more focus can be placed on similar (if not the same) goals.  If one of the ingredients is a great friendship, then you've got a recipe for success as a team.  With the amazing people I often play with, there was not an excuse for me to jump back into being a hermit.  So, I took on Celestia with mainly Missy, and tripled up with Ronan Dawn towards the end.

    Armed with some experience from the TR, Missy and I set straight off to picking up some core, utility spells:  Conviction (Star) for PVP which increases the chance to avoid Critical Hits and Stuns, Fortify (Star) for increased resistance, and Strong (Sun) for increased damage on applicable cards.  I took on the Damage Tier of Sun School since I could rely on a Pet for Accuracy if necessary.  +100 damage to a Blizzard is adding nearly half its minimum value to the spell.  At the highest rank, Gargantuan does +225, which is a 90% boost to my Rank 4 AOE's minimum.  I think farming as a group in Kensington by killing on the first turn is more than possible now!  Seraph, here I come!

    On my first day and first fight against Cuthalla in the Grotto, this dropped for me:

    I still haven't trained it, surprisingly, but it's most likely because I'm currently working on a new PVP/PVE-based pet.  Surprise, surprise.

    I love the new Spritely animation, by the way.  It's somewhat comical, because I don't think any of the other healing spells create this visual:

    Looks like a cool effect to use for a new Mistblood logo, huh?  Hmmm...anyway...

    What was notably different about the Base Camp Astral trainers on the Live realm was that some spells were relocated to "secret trainers," while others were discontinued/removed.  (On TR, you could see the entire "Tier" or "skill tree" of the Sun enchantments, all of the "basic" Polymorphs, and all Star auras that weren't PVP-based.  Empowerment, Vengeance, and accuracy/damage boosts above Keen Eyes/Strong were viewable in Celestia's "Commons" trainers.)  Also, the Pip Reduction spells of the Sun School (Simplify and Elucidate) were removed.

    Thus, my Astral build changed slightly, leaving me with 3 free Training Points after picking up all the new spells that I needed.  I've maxed out on Sun School's Damage tier (Gargantuan), picked up the Fortify and Empowerment auras from Star, and naturally adopted the Gobbler Polymorph from Moon.  Through these combined powers, I became Captain Tank-It!  With Empowerment, I'm getting a faster Pip generation; whenever a Rank 4 (or above) spell is casted on me, be it damage or a heal, I get 1 Pip!  The only catch to this spell is that X-based cards do not trigger the special effect; if Judge, Dryad, Heckhound, or some Boss's natural attack that uses all of its pips is targeted at me, my aura does nothing.  Neat balance!

    Before I forget, if you're wondering where you can find additional Astral spells, keep in mind that two trainers are inside their respective instances:  Stellarium from the District of Stars has the Star Trainer, while Lunarium (entered from "Using the Moon Portal") has the Moon Trainer.  There are multiple posts in each of these instances to pick up the spells from; you just need to do a little exploration!  As for the Sun Trainer, you have to go outside for a little tan on the beach to find that kind of magic.  What better place to do that at than the Floating Island?  Just walk up the ramp next to Pierce and past the Teleporter posts to find it.

    Speaking of the Floating Island and Pierce...

    Mmm, I love Kelp!
    With a higher rank in Crafting, I managed to keep my promise of obtaining this:

    With the Iceblade Vial, I can stack two Rank 0 blades for +40% and +45%, more than doubling my damage!  Adding Gargantuan onto that, and I'm more effective than a chill pill.  

    On the subject of Amulets, Jewel of the Feint dropped for me after fighting Ptolemos, the Moon Boss of the Trial of Spheres.  I think there are some other places where it drops, too (Solar instance, according to new friend Lauren Ironbane), so keep an eye out and cross your fingers!

    So, with the mention of making it to the Trial of Spheres and doing every side quest along the way, Ronan, Missy, and I became Spiral Geographers and Legendary Sorcerer, Diviner, and Thaumaturge together, on Friday.  In my next post, I'll elaborate on our reasons for advancing through the world so quickly, but keep in mind, we're not yet through with this new world!  The content is still fresh and fascinating; beating Celestia once or twice or seven times still would not be enough to quench my curiosity on every story on the game (well done, KingsIsle!)  It may be purely coincidence, but I still can't get over the similarities between the nature of Astral Magic and the general nature of magic in my fan fiction comic Mistblood:

    "Mind, body, and soul" used in Astral Magic and Mistblood

    But that will be another post for another day...

    Before we part from this transaction of communication, here are a few helpful Tweets I've made that just can't be elaborated on further:

    New Endgame Badge *unconfirmed*

    Post a comment if you have any questions or thoughts....thanks for reading!