Monday, September 8, 2014

Spell Showcase: Power Link

Power Link. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.

And it's your job to figure out when. When it works, it is a matter of eating away your enemy while keeping your health up. It destroys shields and can be a constant dot (damage over time) spell with enough of them in a deck. In conjunction with things like Empowerment and Sir Lamorak, you will constantly be a turn or two away from casting more link and knight spells at any given moment. Small steady damage that will tear down even the biggest opponents (but make sure to have a couple of Reshuffle spells as well).

When it doesn't is when you can't outpace your enemy's damage. It breaks shields, true; but it also is a smaller spell not given for big hits. Blades are effective, but traps a lot less so. It will take a fair amount of time to kill off your enemies, and some enemies later in the game average out to 300 to 500 damage in a turn. Even if you put some Colossal and Sharpened Blade spells in your deck, these enemies can take the bigger hits that you cannot.

Take for example Ezhua Bad Taste in Tierra de Brea. I could plainly see he was Death school, and didn't bother looking him up on the web before starting the fight. He had a Thunder Horn Ghoul minion which was also death, so I equipped gear that was resistant versus death, swapped for my newly-tuned damage over time deck, and charged into the fight. My deck consisted of one or two Rains of Fire and Fire Dragons, and many Scalds, Empowerments, Sir Lamoraks, Pixies, and of course, Power Links. I did have a couple of Colossals, Fireblades, and Sharpened Blades as well.

I didn't know that he had mastery of Ice. And Ice nearly did me in. The first part of my plan worked quite well. I dispatched the minion easily and had most my life up at this point. Sir Lamorak was dishing most of the damage, and I was using the Power Link to keep the damage steady and constant as well as keeping my life afloat. The problem was eventually that I did enough damage to Ezhua that any newly cast knights couldn't get his focus back to them. This is the part where I realize that I should have equipped Tranquilize and Mega Tranquilize (perhaps I will do that tonight!). Now, I'm getting hit with Frost Demon and Ice Wyvern spells that are doing 500 to 700 points of damage each time, and this boss has a nasty habit of getting some critical hits past my defenses. I defeated him after a half hour while I held on with a mere 14 health. I got so very lucky that his final cast wasn't stronger. The card I hit him with at the end? Power Link.

This fight should have ended worse.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Fishing in Wizard101

I was quite surprised when I logged in early this morning to see fishing quests. What!? What the heck is this!?

So I gave it a whirl. It took a little bit of getting used to, but it isn't too hard. It does however burn through your Energy pretty quick. I also think they added a couple points of energy to everyone's meters for this new Fishing thing. Not sure yet.

I did the introductory fishing quests on several of my wizards, and realized a nifty trick I could do. The first quest is to go catch two different kinds of fish that are behind Zeke in that tiny waterway feeding into the larger lake in the commons. Every successful catch costs 3 energy, and every time a fish gets away, you only lose one energy. The chances are pretty good you will catch both in 3 or 4 casts of your fishing line magic. When you turn in the quest, Lucky Hookline the fishing trainer will refill your energy to full. Knowing this, the second time I did the quest with another wizard, I continued fishing until I depleted all my energy before turning in the quest. The following times I did this quest with other wizards, I did other things with the remainder of my energy, like go do pet training. That energy refill is great!

OK. Some other useful tips.
1. It's explicitly stated that fish of a certain school prefer lures from their own school. This is true, but so far not totally necessary, at least in the early levels. If you want to save your money, you can keep your ice lure for the time being and just fish with that. It will probably take longer to get fish to bite, and you will have more fish escaping (so you will use more energy to catch less fish). That's the trade-off.

2. When you attempt to cast, line up your wizard to where you want your "bobber" to land. You want it to be in front of where the fish is heading. This takes a little bit of practice to get your bobber to land where you want. It costs no energy to do this! The energy is only used up when a fish bites. Practice this a little bit without worry. The better you get at this, the faster fishing will go.

3. It's important to time when to reel in your fish. Spacebar reels in the fish. Do NOT hit the spacebar until you see the bobber go COMPLETELY in the water. Almost always, the bobber will sink partially in the water for a moment. You need to watch for the moment it goes all the way into the water. If you hit the spacebar before this happens, the fish will automatically get away, costing you a point of energy. But once it does, you have only about one full second to hit the spacebar. If you wait too long, the fish will still get away.

4. If you are looking for certain kinds of fish, note in the quest where you should be looking for them. It will also help to know what school those fish are from. The Swordroll site has this page (click here) that lists a lot of fish, what school they're from and where you can catch them. Then, use your Reveal School Fish spell (for 3 energy) to observe the school of the fish in nearby water. You can move while they are tagged, but it wears off pretty quickly. Each fish will project a ray of colored light out of them that will identify what school they belong to. If you know the fish you're trying to get is of a certain school and you are in the right area for it, look for that color and try and fish those out. I wish it stayed up longer, personally, so you can scout around, but you may wind up using the spell several times to narrow down your target.

5. When using Reveal Fish School, these are the colors coming out of the fish, by school.
Light blue ray - Ice
Orange - Fire
Red - Balance
Green - Life
Black - Death
Yellow - Myth
Purple - Storm

Since I just started fishing, I don't yet know why you would hold onto the fish you catch. They may wind up being reagents for something. You can vend them back at Lucky Hookline for a couple hundred gold. Along with with the occasional treasure chests you fish up, fishing appears to be worth it. Fish generally vend for a bit over 100 gold each, and you are bound to fish up at least one treasure chest before using up all your energy. Higher level wizards will find 600 to 1000 gold (or more) in chests. And depending on the world you fish in, you can see some fairly high gear drops in those chests too.

NOTE: Having trouble catching Sharkspeare. Olde Town is fished heavily, and it's a small area.

UPDATE: You may want to turn off friend requests while fishing. I have noticed that some people either intentionally or unknowingly send you random friend requests as your line is cast in the water. The friend request covers the screen area of where your bobber is, so you cannot tell if a fish is hooked. This can be extremely frustrating.

Follow-up link:

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Finding the Gauntlet Game Cards

I need to be careful, because this can easily turn into a rant. It took me quite awhile to finally find the game cards I was looking for, and it shouldn't be this hard to willingly spend money on something you want. By the way, if you want the "final answer" instead of reading my struggle to get these cards, scroll to the bottom!

This all started with the Wizard101 Pagoda Gauntlet game card. A year ago, I had decided I didn't just want to run the Pagoda Gauntlet dungeon, I wanted to own it and host other people... as many people as wanted to run the dungeon. I thought, I'll just go to the Wizard101 site and buy it straight from them.

That was my first problem. At the time, Wizard101 didn't offer it. You needed to buy it from the game card that was only available at Walmart. I wrote their customer support asking if it would be possible to buy it directly from them, but they declined. I needed to get it from Walmart. Perhaps it has to do with licensing agreements (you can't sell stuff to a vendor and then turn around and undercut them on your own online store). This I could understand, but no such information was relayed to me.

Now, personally, I'm not much of a fan of Walmart. They offer a lot of stuff at a low price, but they do so utilizing business practices I find discouraging (such as refusing to pay reasonable wages to their employees, and offering few full time hours so they won't be required by law to offer them health insurance benefits, etc.). So though I like Kingsisle and support their business practices (flexible and opt-in payment structures and a firm stance on making a safe play environment for children), I would be forced to deal with Walmart before I could get my Kingsisle in-game item. And it wasn't easy. Walmart's game card aisles are constantly in disarray and their employees are utterly unhelpful. I'm sure it's because they're beleaguered with long hours, forced to answer endless questions, and don't get reasonable pay or benefits from it. But from my end, I get almost no help from Walmart employees (if I can even find one on the floor).

Eventually, I got it. I've ran the dungeon, used the gear on my lower level guys for faster leveling, and I'm happy with the purchase.

Now, one year later, I decided to try and find the Winterbane Gauntlet. I looked at the Wizard101 site for information on it and... available through game card only available at Walmart and this time also Target. Wizard101 also helpfully provides a link to both Walmart's and Target's online stores. However, if you search either, you won't find the card. Well, what does that mean? Is it not available, even though Wizard101 says it is? I physically went into several Target and Walmart stores, looking through their game card selections. Target's game card racks, by the way, are well organized. Walmart's? Not so much. But not only could I not find the Winterbane Gauntlet game card, I couldn't even find a slot for it, no product label or anything. I got frustrated after several searches and went home. I went back online, searching both and, but the product isn't even listed there. Is it no longer available at the stores? Would Wizard101 start offering it online at that point? I had to find out.

Once again, I emailed Wizard101 customer service. They got back to me and informed me that it won't be available on their website at this time, but maybe in the future. They don't deal with the game cards themselves. That's taken care of by a third party distributor who deals with various stores (like Walmart and Target). They suggested I just keep looking for it at various stores until it gets back in stock. I asked why I couldn't even find the product at all (not that it was out of stock, but simply didn't exist) on either website. They didn't know.

Next, I called Target (actually, which is an important distinction I was yet to discover). That was hellish. It took forever and a lot of back and forth, but finally I got this answer from "We searched for the name and it doesn't exist in our system. That means we no longer offer it. It's been discontinued."

I called the third party distributor, which they found to be HIGHLY unusual for a consumer to do, but they gave me honest (and quick answers). They have the game card products. They haven't been told the product has been discontinued, but they won't ship it out to the stores until more are ordered from them. I knew better than to ask if I could buy it from them (you can't, unless you want to purchase a high volume of cards... like in the thousands). Until the stores say so, a product isn't discontinued. All "discontinued" means is that a store no longer intends to purchase a product and resell it to consumers. "Out of stock" means that the consumers have bought all the product at a particular store, and until the store decides to order more, you won't be able find the product there.

I knew what my next move would have to be. I would have to go into a store, ask for a manager, ask them to look up the game card and tell me if it was in stock, in stock at a different location, discontinued, or if they too would have no record of the game card. Well, I got lucky. I went to a different Target, and it was there, along with the new Spiral Cup Gauntlet. I bought them both today. But as happy as I was about this, I was still frustrated that it took me so long to be able to find them, and no one could give me a straight answer yet as to why. So I asked the department manager. I told him that I couldn't find the product online, like it didn't even exist, and it didn't exist at other stores, and here's the kicker... the Winterbane Gauntlet game card didn't even have a product slot label for the product at the store I found it. His answer? "Well, the game card is probably discontinued at this point, and some stores are selling through their remaining stock." But why couldn't I find it online? TARGET.COM AND TARGET THE STORE USE SEPARATE PRODUCT INVENTORY AND TRACKING SYSTEMS. You can consider and Target stores to be two separate sister stores. They aren't actually the same store, even though the parent Target company owns both. This is incredibly frustrating, as I like to find a product online and find at what locations it is available. But you cannot do that at Target (and I guess Walmart as well).

In closing (last paragraph), you will need to do as I suggest up above. Go into a store, look through their game cards, and if you don't find it, ask the video game department manager (or store manager) to look it up in their system. Currently, Pagoda Gauntlet card... buy it from Wizard101 online, or Walmart online (for the time being). Winterbane Gauntlet game card or Spiral Cup Gauntlet game card... go into an actual Target or Walmart store, look through their game cards, and if you don't find it, ask a manager to locate it in their system. If they cannot, escalate it to their boss, until you can find it (but be nice about it, ask politely). They should be able to track what stores still have it available. Inventory is tracked electronically, and there are absolute records of this stuff. I would suggest looking at Target first for the Spiral Cup Gauntlet, as that's where I eventually found it, plus they are more organized and a "nicer" business than Walmart. Don't resort to buying it from private online resellers that are basically "scalping"... they are charging at a minimum 20 dollars more for the card, and in some cases are offering "used" cards (which means they've been scratched off).  That's just asking for trouble, with no way to get reimbursed.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Farming Amber, Farming Sea Dragon

OK. Maybe my life isn't so exciting, since I find myself spending Independence weekend playing Wiz101 instead of getting out. What do I have to show for that time?

1. Two pieces of Amber. Where did I get those? I beat the Sand Squid encounter twice. It took me between an 90 minutes to 2 hours per battle. Those are long battles, but I soloed them. If there were more people on the team, it might be a shorter battle. But each battle I got one Amber drop, along with some components to make more Amber after crafting conversion. Two hours for a fight might seem like a point of diminishing return, but also think how long it takes to farm other bosses for the components to craft one piece of Amber, or how long you have to garden for to get a chance at Amber. I don't know the drop rate for this... I might have gotten incredibly lucky, but this may be a very good way to farm it. If you get a dedicated farming team, this could wind up being an excellent farming mechanism.

2. I got no Sea Dragon (yet). What I did get was a better understanding of Trial of the Spheres, and a faster way to farm the bosses (solo). And in the end, that meant a good amount of gold after heading back to the Bazaar.

Contrary to what I previously wrote, doing damage every turn to Astreaus won't prevent him from resummoning his minions. It just seems to be random. What I did figure out is that what you intend to do after the fight shapes how your deck should be built. Are you going to only farm Astraeus over and over? Stack your deck with Colossal Meteor Strike and pepper it with Fire Blade, Sharpened Blade, and Sir Lamorak. Add in one or two Empowerments to get a bit faster pip generation, and just burn him down. If instead you prefer to do the whole dungeon over and over, since all of the bosses have a chance to drop the Sea Dragon, Power Link and Pixie should be in the rotation along with more Empowerment to maximize the pip. Power Link gets you a pip back with Empowerment, and Pixie is going to be off school casting for most of you. So I have three pre-made decks for Trial of the Spheres.
- quick burn Meteor Strike deck (kill Astraeus, port out and replenish health and mana and jump back in)
- slower mass damage over time and heal deck (get through Astraeus and Ptolemos without using a potion and being near full life)
- more typical boss kill deck tailored to the Mithraya fight (Sideboard of one blade and one trap, lots of blades and traps and only a couple of Efreet for the kill, and as many Glacial Shields as I could fit into the deck)

For the entirety of the Trial of the Spheres, I ran with Fire resistant gear. There are far too many Meteor Strikes to run with anything else. At one point, I ran out of space for treasure cards. I had farmed so hard, and already had close to 400 not in decks, I hit the limit and had to throw some out and vend the rest.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Trial of the Spheres, A Couple of Notes

I've been doing very well soloing Trial of the Spheres with a DOT (damage over time) deck. I've equipped some of my damage over time spells in it: Power Link, Scald, and Fire Dragon. Besides my wand attacks and Sir Lamorak casts, that's it. All dot spells. I also threw in a couple of Pixies and I'm dominating the dungeon. It doesn't hurt that I'm carrying my fire resist armor either. Lots of stellar protectors, and Astraeus likes to cast Meteor Strikes and Spectral Blasts (sometimes Fire). I haven't used a potion yet, and I'm at Mithraya.

I think I've fine-tuned my understanding of the cheats for the first two bosses Astraeus and Ptolemos.

- While any of his minions are up, he will shield after every damaging attack or dot on him. The dots will not clear his shields as long as there is still a minion alive on his part of the turn.
- With his minions dead, as long as you do damage to him in a turn (including any dots on him), he will not start casting his cheat shield.
- Starting the turn after all his minions are dead, your side has three turns to hit him without his special shield coming up. On the fourth turn, he recasts the shield on his turn.
- When he recasts the shield, he will also summon his minions but they will not enter until the next round. You can remove his shield with damage or the ward steal spell on the turn he brings it into play. There is some variance with this, depending if he goes first or not. Maybe.
- The most effective strategy I've come up with is to have Colossal Fire Dragons and a couple blades. Throw in a Wyldfire, your favorite aura spells, and at least one Reshuffle. Blade up until he casts the shield. Pop the shield with a wand shot. When his summons are active, hit with the Fire Dragons. You effectively clear the minions and do a good hit to him at the same time, clearing off his subsequent shields. If you have a summon, like Sir Lamorak, he can help you to get rid of extra shields after the hits. You can also substitute in Meteor Strikes for quicker hits and worry less about clearing the shields. The downside is that he will sometimes hit Astraeus at the wrong time (like with a heck hound dot) and prompt the special shield while the minions are up.

- Certain global spells (maybe all?) trigger his shield anti-cheat (he removes all wards on him when players cast a charm). That means Wyldfire counts for shield removal.
- He will not trigger the shield cheat unless you attack him while you have no charm on you. The global spell will NOT count as having a charm on you. It only removes his shield once it's on there.

- She may still cast a smokescreen on you on the turn you break her cheat sequence (getting a trap on her and blading yourself), but she won't after that as long as one blade remains on a player and a trap on her.
- I probably already said it, but the balance spells spirit blade, spirit trap, elemental blade, and elemental trap are very useful here, since some of them will never be used up if you're soloing.
- A trap on her minion does not count towards the cheat breaking! Only on her.

Extolling the Virtues of Sir Lamorak Tinder Hart

Now that Alexander is approaching 90, I'm looking through the worlds to find quests I had missed for the little extra bits of experience. To date, I now have gone through every world before Azteca and used the very helpful Quest Finder to make sure I had finished all the quests. I was missing 3 or 4 quests before doing this. One of those quests was for the Fire school minion spell Sir Lamorak.

You need to be level 75 and have done the quest line to learn Power Link, but let me tell you, once you do get it, this guy really shines! He's got 1700 health, which is so much more than your minions of old. You're fighting big hitters so he needs to at least survive a hit or two while he's out. He casts Fire school shields (Glacial Shield and Fire Shield) on both you and himself. He generates yellow pips frequently, so he can be effective nearly every turn. He likes to attack, though he will occasionally blade you or more frequently himself. For attacks, he can cast Heck Hound, Sunbird, Meteor Strike, Brimstone Revenant, Phoenix, and Fire Dragon. His hits are not inconsequential! He is very effective at whittling down either the boss or his minions. He will draw the ire of the enemies, which can give you some relief if you're getting low in health.

Sir Lamorak is like a better attack bot who will sometimes blade or shield you. The 5 pip cost for him has never disappointed me. He will dish out a lot more than 5 pips in damage and has saved me on a few boss encounters.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Soloing the Sand Squid in Atlantea

This was my first test for using my heightened resistance gear. It still took effort. Let me explain. Once I realized I could tailor my gear toward extremely high resistance scores, I realized I could possibly solo bosses that I shouldn't really be able to. However, though it is possible to get a resistance score over a 100 against a certain school of magic, it would be both extremely difficult to achieve that score, and also leave you vulnerable to any other schools used during a fight.

The Sand Squid fight, luckily, is all Myth. The downside is that it features two of Myths big specialties - Blade removal and Stun. My first recommendation is that if you're going to try and solo this, you will want your resistance to be above 90%, and get it to 100% if you possibly can. Unfortunately, the only way that I know of to get your resistance to 100% or greater is to develop a pet that has at least some sort of Myth resistance. Even if you got Spell-Proof and Spell-Defy to give 14% resistance, that will be unlikely to get you to 100%. My Myth resistance with my clothes (Thirteen Death Mask, Secret Surcoat, Woodwarden's Shoes) along with the extra 5 resistance from Heartsteel only brought me to 82% Myth resistance. I've been trying to farm for pets to get the Spell-Proof and Spell-Defy abilities, but have been so far unsuccessful. What I had forgotten was that I had a Minotaur pet I had given to my Conjurer. It's currently at epic and has a Myth-Proof score of 10! I switched over the pet, and now here I am at 92 Myth resistance. You would think at 92 resistance the fight would be easy, right? Take my word for it - if you can get to 100 resistance before fighting the Sand Squid, do it! Then load up your side board with Conviction if you can get the treasure cards of it, and go fight the Sand Squid with little worry.

This guide is for the rest of you. I'll break it down into sections.
1. Make sure you have enough resistance.
2. Be prepared for stuns.
3. Don't bother with Shields or Vaporize.
4. Don't equip your deck with Blades.
5. Fit Conviction into your deck if you can.
6. Use Scarecrow if you can.
7. If you're going to use a healing spell, heal big.
8. Use lots of traps.
9. Put at least two if not more Reshuffles into your deck.
10. Work on the large tentacles first, one at a time.

What is enough Resistance?
Don't fight this boss without at least getting the three pieces of clothing I listed above (or ones that match your particular school). Heartsteel is only 5 universal resistance, but in this case, I decided every little bit counts. You can get Heartsteel by farming Prince Gobblestone in Colossus Boulevard, or if you are like me and not patient enough, you can buy it from the Crown Ship for 263 (I think) crowns. I NEVER buy things with crowns other than unlocking new zones, so this was quite a choice for me. But the price is so small compared to the utility I would get from the piece, I went ahead and did it. I'd rather spend my time farming bigger things that Gobblestone... as fast as he is to kill, the loot fills your inventory quickly, and it doesn't vend for much. Personally, I don't think 82 resistance is enough to win this fight as a Pyromancer, unless you use Death as a secondary school (or at least have the Death Mastery Amulet). You're going to need a pet that offers you at least some resistance to universal or Myth to hope to have a chance. Why do I say this? At 92 Myth resistance, I was typically taking about 50 damage a hit, sometimes as high as 100 or up to 300 from a failed critical block. But all that damage adds up. If you use a standard heal, each enemy gets a free zero pip earthquake on you. At my resistance, that meant I was still taking over 200 damage back per heal I gave myself. If you decide to use Death drains, you don't risk the free earthquakes, but it costs a lot of pips to get those off. If you have less resistance, you will be using all your pips to heal yourself instead of being able to mount an offense.

Stuns. Get used to it.
I did this fight several times last night. Each fight took about 90 minutes to complete. 90 minutes is normally a dungeon. This was one fight. Because stuns. Here are some of the spells that each of the four tentacles can fire off: Blinding Light (stuns all enemies), Legendary Treant (damage and stun for 1 round), Basilisk (damage, damage over time, stun for 1 round), and Medusa (damage and stun for 2 rounds). Now if you have a Conviction aura cast, you are stun immune for 4 turns. But unless you are a regular PvP player, you're not going to have access to it as a spell and will need to use it as a treasure card. You could load up your Sideboard with Scarecrow and Conviction I suppose... You can buy the Conviction TC from Kiliman Copperleaf in the library in Zafaria. You can also garden it from Couch Potatoes, and Sour Fickle Pickles. For me, I had one Conviction item card, so I spent at least every other turn stunned.

Myth Shield and Vaporize
There will be too many Myth spells cast upon you in this battle. You will just waste space you could have been using for traps and possible heals. Your resistance gear is your shield. The amount of damage you block with a shield while you have high resistance is so small as to be a waste of a card.

I said don't equip them, but you can. The tentacles don't earthquake very often (and even less if you don't heal); but there is nothing more frustrating than having 5 stacked blades on you, Colossal Efreet queued to cast, and one of the tentacles casts Earthquake before you can cast. You will save yourself time and heartache by not even equipping them. It does mean you will need to make sure your traps are effective and you lay enough of them down before your big hits.

See section on Stuns.

Death drain spells, including Scarecrow
These drain spells do not trigger the earthquake cheat that other kinds of heals do (including Link and Power Link). Congratulations, Necromancers! The Sand Squid fight was tailor-made for you to solo! I don't mind ripping out a page from their book in this case and loading my sideboard with Scarecrow. The upside is that the tentacles appear to be fairly vulnerable to death magic. I was getting a small boost per hit. Each Scarecrow hit did 600 damage per tentacle. That's 1200 life back if you hit all four. The downside is the number of pips you have to save up to do this. Without a Death Mastery Amulet, this was time consuming. You of course should be utilizing that time by placing traps on your target while generating pips, but in the end, it is worth it. It also stretches the time it takes to finish the battle even more. Believe me, unless you have a Myth Resistance of 98 or higher, you will be needing at least one good heal in your deck. Might as well make it a Scarecrow. The only other heal that would compare to this would be a full pip Dryad. You'd be inviting Earthquakes, but I can see that spell being a good alternative to the Scarecrow. If your Myth Resistance is less than 90, I'd stick with Scarecrow.

Other Healing
See above. All heals a player casts spark the Cheat of the zero-cost out-of-turn Earthquake swarms. Pet heals do not spark this. Pet heals are fantastic for this fight. Unfortunately, I have terrible luck with pet heals, and the Minotaur pet with Myth-Proof doesn't have any healing anyway. If you have a pet with great resistance and healing, you are quite ahead of the game. If you're going to cast heals, they need to be worth it. You don't want to have blades on you when you do it, and the healing you get back needs to be much larger than the damage you're going to receive from each remaining tentacle.

The good thing about Pyromancers is that we have lots of traps. Backdraft in particular is going to make a huge difference. The downside to it is that it's going to use up pips and stretch out the game. I haven't mentioned it above, but one great way to speed up your game is to load your deck with Empowerment. You're pip generation will be good, although with all of the stuns in this battle, you're going to wind up sitting on a lot of pips anyways. The only drawback to Empowerment is that for things like Backdraft and high level damage spells, you're going to have mostly white pips. I think it's worth the trade-off, and if you really need more power pips, just regulate when you decide to cast your Empowerment. You will need to remain patient and disciplined while casting traps. The large tentacles have 28000 life. That's a lot of traps in order to get the big numbers. If you don't lay enough traps on before doing a damage spell, it's going to require a lot of damage spells to take down one boss tentacle. There are two to deal with here. The smaller tentacles can be killed in one or two hits with properly augmented spells, but those big ones take nearly an hour a piece to kill. With all of the traps you are casting, you may want to keep note paper handy to write down what you're casting, so you don't waste traps you've already cast! This is especially true if you've learned Potent Trap.

Potent Trap
This spell is enough to warrant it's own discussion. This allows you to stack the same kind of spell, if one of them is affected by Potent Trap. Example: I cast Fire Trap on a tentacle (+25% to fire damage). If I convert a Fire Trap from my hand with the Potent Trap spell, and then cast this augmented Fire trap on the same tentacle (+35% to fire damage), those two spells will stack for an attack! With Potent Trap spells in your deck, you have effectively doubled the number of traps you can cast on enemies. Everyone (and rightfully so) extols the virtues of Sharpened Blades. But this fight renders Sharpened Blades nearly meaningless. Earthquakes don't care. If you learned Death up to Feint, then you now have two Feints to stack. You can stack two Backdrafts (though that will take a lot of time to make effective). Potent trap is awesome. Of course to learn it, you need to have beaten the fire monkey boss I described in an earlier post.

I had only one Reshuffle in my deck the first time I fought this encounter (well the first time I fought it and hoped to live). I was able to kill both boss tentacles and one of the minion tentacles before I simply ran out of cards. I made a fundamental mistake that probably most of you would not have made - I didn't know that once you use a Reshuffle, that card doesn't reshuffle into your deck. One Reshuffle in your deck means you only get one Reshuffle. I probably would have been able to finish the fight had I loaded more Scarecrows in my deck, but I only had four in my Sideboard. So let that be a triple lesson. Fully equip your Sideboard (with Scarecrow or whatever you did decide to put in there), be patient with your traps so you are maximizing the damage you do per hit, and put more than one Reshuffle in your deck for this fight. Two will likely be enough, but put 3 in if you're paranoid.

Order of Kills
This also dictates the kind of damage you are putting into your deck. I experimented with several battles using different kinds of spells. Attack All spells will get rid of the small tentacles somewhat quickly. And that's when you'll learn of the other cheat in this battle: if there's a boss tentacle still up, after a couple of turns, minion tentacles regenerate. When they fully return to battle, they will have lots of pips, most of them power pips. It is pretty pointless to spend any time worrying about the minion tentacles. I suppose if you are able to rapidly do epic amounts of damage to all enemies at once, that would be way to fight this battle. I didn't find I was doing very much damage to enemies without a lot of traps down, even if my attacks were Colossal. The trade-off to having high resistance is your other stats are going to suffer. Your accuracy, your power pip generation, your critical chance, and your power are all going to be a good bit lower than you're used to. Pick a tentacle. Trap it. Trap it a lot. Make sure you've stacked nearly every kind of trap you can before launching as strong an attack as you can on it. Damage over time spells aren't much effective in this battle. Dragons, elves, scalds, and volcanoes just aren't going to maximize the traps. Which is why you should consider sticking to attacks with single big hits. Pay attention to your health. In the beginning of the battle, you will feel like a boss with all your resistance. But when you drop down to a thousand health, just as you are considering casting a Scarecrow, you just might find yourself locked down by five turns of stuns; and then to make matters worse, you fail a couple of blocks against critical attacks on you. Suddenly you're coasting under 100 life hoping you don't fizzle that Scarecrow. Consider using a Scarecrow as early as the 2000 health mark. Try to maximize your opportunities though. If you have a lot of power pips and a Backdraft in hand, the smart call is going to be using the Backdraft, unless your hovering around 400 life. If you have a lot of white pips, however, just use them up with a Scarecrow. The nice thing about the Scarecrow is it won't be using up your Fire school traps. Also, consider having a couple of Wyldfires in your deck, not just one. They do occasionally cast Time of Legend. Being able to dampen their damage while augmenting your own is a nice thing.

Special Note
If you manage to kill a boss tentacle, but are forced to flee or are killed, when you use the Dungeon Recall, that tentacle will be dead UNLESS there were no remaining boss tentacles left in the battle. In that case, there will be one boss tentacle and at least one minion tentacle (the other minion will respawn in the course of the fight). You should try to get one boss tentacle destroyed if you don't think you will manage to kill both in a single fight. You will still need to be able to down one boss and two minion tentacles in a single encounter though.

So let's recap.
My gear:
Thirteen Death Mask
Secret Surcoat
Woodwarden's Shoes
Dawnfrost Blade (52 universal block)
Jewel of the Feint
Minotaur Pet with Mythproof
Toasty Band of the Fire Elves (nothing toward resistance or block, but gives me otherwise good stats. Kakenya's Broken Band would be a good alternative. It gives boost to Death power, as well as 30 block against Myth, plus otherwise good boost to health, mana, and power pip generation).

My deck (Codex of the Lost Fire):
Fire Trap x2
Fuel x2
Backdraft x2
Elemental Trap x2
Potent Trap x4
Empowerment x4
Colossal x4
Efreet x4
Reshuffle x2

Scarecrow x alot

Other useful card types: Feint, Furnace, Conviction, Infallible (for your Scarecrow), Sun Serpent, King Artorius. I haven't learned most of these spells.

Monday, June 30, 2014

On the Importance of Resistance Gear

First, let's start with a picture. This is me.

Forget those other two chumps. They just get my hand-me-downs as they level.

For awhile now, I've been running around with the same gear. I've had that gear since before my year-long hiatus (except for the shoes, just picked those up in Atlantea). I've liked the combination of accuracy and power that my gear gives me. I hate fizzling, so have resisted switching gear with more critical chance in favor of always hitting.

And if you know me at all (by reading through the blog posts), you know that I will die fighting a boss twenty times before asking for help. I won't try and solo dungeons, unless of course I already out-level it, but it's in my nature to try and puzzle bosses on my own.

Enter Clemente Moraga and his two fiery monkey companions Primo Ortiz and Segundo Ortiz. I'd been only half paying attention to quest text and just following the arrows to beat up the next boss. That's too bad, because the Azteca drama seems to be pretty interesting when I stop and read the story here and there. I couldn't remember why I had to fight these guys, just that this was the next boss fight in a chain. Well I got my face smacked pretty hard in this fight. I tried it three times, and after the third loss (and this time killing both minions before falling), I was tired of it and decided to move on. I was pretty disappointed in not being able to port back in after death, so I knew I'd eventually have to come back with a better strategy or at least come in with friends.

Later, when the time came, I looked up Clemente Moraga on the web to get better info and form a strategy. I was a bit disappointed. I realized I had to beat him to open up the next set of spells, this time from the Sun School. I also noted that there was no way to port back in, and friends can't help out. This was a solo boss, and I was failing. I had tried stacking fire shields in my sideboard and in my hand, but it was never enough. One battle, I failed to block four critical hits... I was dead in three turns. They just simply could outpace my damage mitigation and any healing I might be tempted to load into my deck. I was at a loss; and for the first time, I doubted I could move forward.

And then I came across a post in a help forum. The helpful voice (actually there are quite a few who say this) said, "Go to the Bazaar and buy fire resistance gear..." I thought, I got some funds, as long as it isn't too expensive, how bad can it get?

I bought three pieces. Molten Mantle, Torched Tunic, and Fiery Chac's Great Boots. This gave me 74 Fire Resistance. I could have done Reckless Runners for boots... they had 2 less Fire Resistance and gave accuracy, but I wanted to fully mitigate against fire.

I then prepped my deck (Cinder Deck)
Fire Shield x7
Colossal x4
Efreet x4
Fireblade x5
Empowerment x5
Pixie x3
Power Link x3
Fire Prism x3
Fire Trap x2
Mass Fire Prism
Elemental Blade
Elemental Trap

Sideboard: All treasure card Fire Shield

This is how I looked for the fight.

So how did it go? Well I knew from the very first hit how it would go. The enemy got to go first in the turn, which worried me; but instead of taking around 500 damage from the first cast Meteor Strike, I took 113 damage. I did put up some Fire Shields that came up in my hand, and occasionally I cast a Pixie. At one point, my pet cast a Sprite on me, and I healed enough to mitigate two attacks entirely. I only suffered three unblocked criticals that were around 300 damage total. I took my time and knocked off each minion one at a time. Before concentrating on the boss. I did wind up using my Reshuffle. From that point I built up for a big hit. I dropped a regular Fire Trap and a 15 pip Backdraft on him after using a Fire Prism. And I had my standard three blades up (Fire Blade, item card Fire Blade, Elemental Blade), and also used the Furnace aura. That means when I sent my Colossal Efreet to knock on Clemente's door, I wasn't even fully loaded. It was more than enough. I finished the battle 100 health short of my maximum.

What did I learn? I learned that I've been playing this game several years without utilizing one of the best strategies in the game: resistance gear. When you are high enough level, you shouldn't be hurting on coins. I often burn off my extra on treasure cards or crafting reagents. Now I'm considering buying resistance gear against as many schools as I can... Just. In. Case!


Addendum! If you want a good list of resistance gear by school type and which schools can wear it, this site provides it for you:

The page is two years old, but the list is still useful.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Belloq in Azteca, first time

I'm noticing a theme in my soloing bosses. That theme is Efreet. The 90% debuff to enemy attacks keeps me alive, since I'm not using much healing.

On several bosses, what I've been able to do is load up my sideboard with shield treasure cards. This is pretty good for being able to stack a bunch of blades and traps until I'm ready to fire off my Colossal Efreet, and with a prior-cast fully-pipped Backdraft, I'm typically hitting for around 45,000 damage. I don't add traps or blades into my sideboard, because I'm going to need to reliably draw shields. I'm utilizing the Empowerment aura to generate pips fast enough, and along with Power Link for a boost to my life, I generally can dispatch his minions fast enough, hold the boss off, and finish him off with a couple hundred life to spare.

Belloq though can't be shielded against. He has the ability to cast Hydra or Chimera or Spectral Blast, which requires all the other schools to defend against, but his biggest hitters have no shields to protect me. The strategy then changes. You don't build up for one big hit (and luckily he doesn't heal). You load your deck up with as many Efreet as possible, as well as Power Links for equal damage and healing, and you trim out extra traps and blades that will delay putting the Efreet debuff on him. Backdraft? Too time consuming and expensive. Elemental blades and traps are just going to delay your Efreet or Power Link. Power Link in itself is a bit of a risk. When I faced him, I died the first time; but since I killed his minion, I was able to use the instant port back (through the Dungeon Recall button) and handle him fairly easily the second time without having to worry about the minion's extra damage.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Skurkis in Azteca, the first time

Note, this is for the first meeting in Cenote, not in Xibalba. I didn't know there were two until I googled Skurkis.

So I've finally broken free from the quick and easy fun of killing Loremaster a gazillion times with only a couple spells to show for it (only that life spider for Alexander, and my theurgist now has two spells, neither of which are life)... and finally started to quest again.

As can be expected, the creatures in Azteca are hitting fairly hard. They have added spell penetration and score more criticals than in Avalon. As I started questing in Cenote, the easiest thing for me to do was construct a deck that loaded with Empowerment/Meteor Strike/Colossal. I would clear the field in around 4 turns, 2 if I were extremely lucky (scoring at least one critical that they don't block).

The bosses in this area range from 13000 health to just under 20000 (so far). I was forced to tinker with a deck to get the right set up to beat Skurkis Screaming Moon. She can heal back up pretty fast, and she is going to dish a lot of damage that will be hard to soak up if you solo. She has a Moon Skull Zombie helper with 3000 health, and she has just under 14000 herself. I toyed with sending lots of Efreet to keep her attacks small, but I wasn't able to generate enough mana pips to constantly send them her way. Thus I was forced to load up Death Shields in my treasure card slot.

My equipment is geared for accuracy, so I don't fizzle often, but it's at the expense of critical and power pip chance. Also, Skurkis was overcoming my critical block more times than was comfortable for me. I needed to go first this battle, and I needed to drop the zombie helper quick.

I used an Armillary Deck with these cards stocked:
6 Colossal
6 Efreet
5 Empowerment
5 Fireblade
3 Fire Trap
1 Fuel
1 Backdraft
1 Elemental Blade
1 Elemental Trap
1 Wyldfire
11 Death Shield treasure cards

I also have these Item Cards from my gear:
1 Fireblade
1 Fire Trap

Besides hitting hard and healing back up with Scarecrow, Wraith, and Satyr (it says she's equipped with a life amulet, so she has the Satyr and the heal charm too), Skurkis likes to drop 30% weakness spells on you. You will need to decide if you want to just add more traps and blades to overcome them or save your wand shots to get rid of them.

The way I worked the fight was dropping Empowerment often to get extra pips. Each time I put a Colossal on an Efreet, I would use the extra card slot to draw a treasure card, which would be a Death Shield. She does have a Skeletal Dragon, so be careful not to have more than one shield up at a time, or she may cast that and eat through your shields too quick.

To kill the Zombie, I used one Colossal Efreet after I was bladed. It was enough to outright kill it.

Then the trick was to just keep dropping traps and blades while keeping a shield up as often as I could. It sounds so easy, but I had only around 500 life left at the end of the battle.  I made sure to get my Backdraft up to full pips before casting (it wound up being a 10 pip spell, as I wasn't generating many power pips that battle).  I dropped every trap and blade I had on her, except Wyldfire. I was a bit risky in the end... Instead of waiting one turn, drawing a Death Shield and laying it down, I was impatient and cast the Efreet. Only a 6 percent chance of fizzling while she had 6 pips on her end...

It wound up being overkill, even without dropping the Wyldfire. It was 30000 damage spell once everything was tallied. I found this strategy to be best, as I didn't have to worry about whatever health she was siphoning off me or if she would try and heal up... one shot would take care of it, rather than trying to compete with her life gaining. But I would have gone nowhere without the shields. I wound up using all but 3 of my treasure cards.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Sorry for not posting in forever... (someone watches this!)

But guess what I've been doing? Same thing everyone seems to do recently... I run Loremaster over and over, hoping for a spell. It's fun to do, and perhaps a good way to build up a little gold if you need it, since it's rare to make an attempt that doesn't fill almost immediately with other spell seekers.

Admittedly, I haven't run it very often with Alexander. I have some other characters, namely Tyler and John, who have been running it far more often. Tyler is my Theurgist, and it's rather fun to go in healing everyone while they concentrate on doing damage (plus Tyler has a Feint item card spell). But really, John my Necromancer has done the most runs. The thought of getting a Deer Knight before ever setting foot in Celestia is very tantalizing. I do already have my Scarecrow, so it's not at all mandatory. I just like the choice of damage over time spells or drain spells hitting all enemies.

Unfortunately, the drop chance for the spells is very small. And attempting to get them on multiple characters is... not very likely. But the upside is that the battle is so quick.

Here's some strategies that I've noticed for getting the fights done with the best outcome.

If you're low level:
- It's probably a good idea to have a few powerful attack all treasure cards stashed into your sideboard in case you get the misfortune of being in a group with everyone being low level.
- Consider having Reshuffle in your deck.
- Bring a good amount of traps and blades that can be used by others.
- Because damage can be from any and every school, bringing a bunch of shields is counter productive. You'll be better off having half as many as heals, leaving your deck filled with cards more suited to taking down the enemies, including buffing your friends.
- Your blades cannot be dispelled. Others may use your traps, but that is a good thing!

For all players:
- The single worst thing about the encounter (other than every 3 or 4 turns someone being pounded for 600 plus damage by the Loremaster) is the amount of negative charms placed on you by the Font of Weakness. If you have the patience, keep putting on blades and save up a wand charge for getting rid of the negative charms without removing the blades. The weaknesses will affect Sorcerers more, and most players have the Font of Weakness as a priority target above all others (including the Font of Life).
- Saving up your attacks for large hits negate the power of the Font of Life.
- Don't be selfish! Traps for everyone! Blade up the obviously powerful wizard who has a lot of pips up. The sooner he hits big, the faster everyone's done.
- Play to your wizard's strength. If you're a Thaumaturge, get the Loremaster's attention on you. If you're a Theurgist, Rebirth and Satyr freely. Sorcerers are loved by all here with their extra blades.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Spiral Geographic Society Warehouse

This is the quest location in Marleybone where you retrieve a key to open up Celestia. You get this quest after completing Dragonspyre. However, it no longer is necessary to get this key to go to Celestia. I like to do this for the experience rewards, and some nice loot drops. I'm not so sure this is a solo-able experience at the "appropriate level" of a character just finishing Dragonspyre. There's quite a number of levels to traverse to the top, and all the battles are with four opponents. There's a lot of life, balance, and frost enemies, so count on shields galore, and weaknesses on yourself. If you're able to bide your time with shields and cost-effective life gains, you could try and build up for a single large multi-hit spell. They will be shielding, and if you're death, often with combination shields that will really mess up your spells. You will need to do a hit that is generally at least 2500 damage (to overcome the shields). Even if you don't take them all out, you will be able to pick off at least 2, which will make the rest of the fight easier. The enemies will sometimes do vampire spells, but I don't remember seeing any life gaining (at least for non-boss encounters).

The tower levels
Here's the overview of the tower:

One: NPC, can be ignored
Two: four monsters
Three: four monsters
Four: puzzle encounter
Five: mini-boss
Six: four monsters
Seven: four monsters
Eight: puzzle encounter
Nine: four monsters
Ten: boss encounter

Level Four Puzzle
If you read the book near the entrance, it will have a story with the clues on what to do (they will be the bolded words). Looking at what else is in the room, you have 5 crates in a horizontal line - one center crate, two to the left of it, and two to the right of it. You will click the crates in this order: center crate, the crate to the left of that, the next crate to the left of that, head back to the right and click the next crate, and the last crate to the right of that.

For those more visually oriented: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 (order of crates from left to right)... click in this order: 3/2/1/4/5.

If you get the puzzle right, you get red health wisps. If not, I think a four monster fight. It's in your best interest to get it right!

Mini-boss General Stormclaw
He starts out alone, but after the first turn, he will cast a free earthquake and summon his 3 skeletal minions (lazy, tired, and dimwit). He will also cast a free tower shield on himself that gets replaced every time it goes away. While his minions are up (and occasionally after they are killed) he will automatically remove traps and weakness on himself and his minions (if they are up). There's a bunch of cheats and rules about targeting him while his minions are up, so it's best to either use multi-hit spells or just go after the minions first. In other words... just use big multi-hit spells in the same way you were doing with the regular four monster levels. You must kill the minions before you go after Stormclaw, or all sorts of extra spells will be fired on you. Plus, if you need to put a myth prism on him, you will need those minions gone for a chance to keep the prism trap on him.

When his last minion is dead, he will cast a free Frost Giant on you, so be prepared for a big hit and stun.

Level Eight Puzzle
This is impossible to solo and not trip the trap to fight four monsters. The floor is arranged with a maze of floor pressure plates: 3 of them are sun sigils and the rest are snake sigils. Hitting a snake sigil will fire off the trap and the four monsters will appear. Stepping on a sun sigil will activate it, but the character has to remain standing on it, or else it will go back dark. When all 3 suns are lit, a fourth character can pull the lever. If you do have four people, send the first character through the maze to the lever by the gate. Don't step on snakes! The second one goes to the third sun farthest along the maze. The third character goes to the middle sun, and the final character goes to the first sun. Then pull lever. Since I solo this, I never see what happens (I expect wisps to appear).

Boss Estrakir Gloomthorn
He's a robed insect minion of Morganthe. And this room is one of the more difficult cheat boss encounters in the game. Even a high level character may find this encounter to be quite difficult. In the accompanying dialogue, he drops a vital clue: you must at some point cast a global bubble spell of any kind. Otherwise, Estrakir will cast free Power Novas (that are fire based) every other turn. It might be a good idea to hold some bubble spells in the treasure card section of your deck so that you can get one out quickly.

Like General Stormclaw, Estrakir will automatically remove traps and weakness from him and his minions for free (at least while his minions are up). His rat minions will sometimes cast special tower shields that reduce damage by 90%. Multi-round damage spells could be a nice solution to that. He also has a minion named Knuckles who likes to cast free heals if your or your allies cast a heal. He will do a free Rebirth (but with no extra damage shield) out of turn when that happens. Drains and damage spells like Link and Vampire don't trigger this.

If you do target Estrakir while Knuckles is still alive, Knuckles will cast a free Helping Hands heal on Estrakir, and Estrakir will cast a free Fire Dragon.

You need to kill the rats first (since those shields they cast are too powerful), and then kill Knuckles. Multi-target spells are acceptable and won't trigger the above effects. Once the rats are down, you should probably heal up, unless Knuckles is low on health. Likely because of the shields, Estrakir will still have lots of health, so Knuckles healing him back up won't make much of a difference. Once all the minions are dead, Estrakir will start casting free Scarecrows on his turn (not sure if he does this if you have your bubble up or not... I'll amend this if I find that to not be the case). You may want to have some death shields prepared in your deck for this.

You'll need a lot to go right to defeat this encounter solo, unless are significantly high level. If you have a bubble aura up, and you take down the minions in the right order... you should have a solid shot though.

Good luck!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Coming back to Wizard101 after a year

It's been awhile since I've played. I would have kept up, but I got sucked into a new (old) game again, and the demand on my time left Wizard101 out in the cold.

Things that were nice about coming back.
- I didn't have to pay any subscription to start playing again and pick up where I left off. That's because I've been spending money to open areas rather than pay subscription. There are obvious benefits to a subscription, but I think if you start playing, it's better from the outset to pick one model or the other and not dip into both. For better or for worse, this is what I picked. I am able to pick up the game, play it, and then put it down for later without worrying about the money I lose by paying and not playing.
- I also like that a new area has been implemented (actually a multi-level area that one revisits in stages, like Grizzlheim was). I easily soloed the first area with Alexander, though I was rusty on the play. Probably because it's a level 30 instance.
- It was nice to see a familiar face popup and say hi, even though I was gone for a year. Time marches on, and hopefully so will Wizard101!

Things that were tough
- As I mentioned above, I sort of forgot how to play efficiently. I have to re-remember the good combos, how to walk the streets, where things are located, order casting (oh, Balanceblade - you so crazy!). More than once I put my traps on before dropping my prism to filter my incoming spell. Whoops. Also, you play a bit to remember the general damage "brackets" that your spells will do, such as "this is what my Meteor Strike does with a fire trap, this is what it does with just a blade, this is what it does with both, this is what it does with a Fireblade and an Elemental Blade" (etc.). I ran into a few problems fighting some bosses, as I was afraid to cast and not do enough damage when my life was low. This caused me to often use an extra turn and risk dying rather than casting, but once or twice I did the opposite and fired too soon, which left me short on damage and dead before I could get another damage spell off. The game rewards the player who has a good guess to how much damage spell combos will do, and to the player who can always remember to cast in the right order.
- What's easy on my pyromancer isn't so much for other wizards. Especially now that he's past level 80. After having no problems in Aquila, I hopped on my sorcerer who is just past level 40. He was doing admirably in some other areas as I warmed up (currently leveling in MooShu), even dispatching every boss with ease. However, the first real problem arose when I had to fight the Praetorian Guard encounter. Oh my! I wound up buying some treasure cards to put me over the top, but it still took me over an hour to best this fight. The fight has three minions supporting the mini-boss, and that's just too much damage to overcome one at a time. It would also take too long with Sandstorms (the only multi-hit damage card available for that level)... so I realized I needed to do one large, augmented damage spell to do enough damage to all of them before I died. Also, though Balance has a variety of blades (and I have gear giving me bonus item cards), I was going to have to spend some of my mana pips on blades. If I didn't get the right pip combo, or if I took a critical hit from any of my opponents, or if they went first, I was likely to lose. I wound up using a Power Nova with two Balanceblades (one of them an item card) and two Bladestorms (one of them an item card). I had planned on dropping an Amplify Treasure card as well (which I did once, but that wasted a turn and I died before I could cast my Power Nova). Like I said - it took me an hour, but when everything finally went right, I got off the Nova, and it was just enough damage.

Things I learned (or re-remembered)
- Be patient. Watch for "cars" (monsters) before crossing the street. Don't be so impatient that you lose time rushing toward your goal because you got caught up in wandering monster battles. Don't shoot your spell off looking for a kill unless you know it's going to be a kill. If your plan is multiple damage spells, make sure you're timing your offense and defense right.
- Look at your opponent's school of magic before engaging it.
- For that matter, look at the deck of spells you're using before you wander around. If you're like me and have multiple pre-made decks for different situations, you'll wind up swapping them around depending upon the area you're in.
- Look for information on the internet before battling a boss. Some people like the novelty of facing the unknown; but some of these bosses are tricky and have particular "rules" to obey (cheats to avoid). Why spend hours trying to figure it out, when others have gone there before you?
- Play to your school's strength. If you're a high damage class (Diviner), build up for big hits and fire them off as soon as you can. As a Pyromancer, consider when multi-round damage is optimal. Pyromancers have many ways to control battle through kinds of damage they do, so know when to play what. If you're a Sorcerer, Theurgist, or Thaumaturge, keep your shields and life spells up and look for your opportunities. If you're a Necromancer, watch your life to know when you have to cast your drain spells. If you're a Conjurer... all of the above? I think those rules really apply for all classes (shields are very helpful against most bosses, so stock up, even if they're treasure cards!).
- Pets that have powers are great. However, mine don't fire them off nearly as often as I remembered them doing before. When you're planning your battles, it's best not to rely on your pet's intermittent power to get you through the day, although in a long battle, you're probably going to see that power at least once.

I may do some more write-ups soon, as I progress through more areas. Alexander is now finished with all of his quests from Avalon on down. He has not yet entered Azteca. I figure I will have to finish that before having a chance at the rest of Aquila, and then I see that Khrysalis is the next world to encounter. So much to do!