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!

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