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Critical Mysteries

fighting-mordecai

Since wizards theoretically aren’t granted the ability to “go critical” (have the damage from your hit or the amount of a heal double) until level 50*, this post is a little outside the stuff about which I usually post.  But since most people know about critical ahead of time and there’s a lot of interest, I thought I’d share my experience.

I team up with people a fair amount so I’m very aware there are wizards for whom critical works very well and they go critical frequently.  Level 100 and above seem to go critical something like 95-99% of the time and a gander at level 100 gear tells me it isn’t just the gear but I’m hazy about what happens at that point that causes them to “critical” so often. [I AM guessing many have a pet with both critical chance and one of the so-called “useless talents” that enhances the chance] But my experience of critical for the six wizards I have who are level 50 and up (highest at the moment are 89 and 90) has not been good.

From the beginning of getting it, neither Morgan nor Rylee had critical hits very much.  Somewhere in the level 50’s I got them gear with critical chance built into pretty much everything they equipped and kept that up for a while.  I’d say the gear took them from going critical maybe once in 50 casts to once in 45.  And when they did go critical it was more likely to be on a wand spell or Sprite than anything big enough to matter.

Somewhere along the way I realized:  (1) critical isn’t really needed against street mobs and minions and (2) the only time it matters is against Bosses and they all have such massive critical block you just about can’t ever get the doubled damage on them.  So I can’t really see much point to it…

Basically, having been seduced into thinking critical really matters, I sacrificed defenses like resistance and critical block in favor of gear aimed toward increasing critical chance and pretty much got nothing for it.  Somewhere along the way I switched to using gear mainly for resistance with some pieces including boosted school damage and/or pip chance.  I rely on blades, traps and feints to enhance damage.

One thing to understand about the gear with critical is most of it isn’t adding a percentage.  If there’s a number with no percent sign after it, I’ve realized it means the chance it’s adding is minuscule.  You can see if you scroll over your critical damage stats in the spell book, five pieces of gear that each add a chance for critical might increase your total chance by 13% — in other words negligible.

In the picture, it’s four equipped items adding 12%; you can see just the robe adds “70” so that is clearly not 70% if the total added percentage is only 12 (I have NOT gotten a clue to what the math is for this):

12-critical-chance

And here’s another mystery.  You can see in the above picture, Morgan’s level 90 gear added up to a 155 Death crticial rating which gives her 12% critical.  In this picture, you can see Destiny (level 53) is in gear that adds 65 to her Storm critical rating, which winds up with 13 % critical.  HUH???

destiny-with-13-critical

Destiny with 13% critical

This month, instead of questing, I’ve had Morgan and Rylee farming for Halloween drops at Mordecai’s Tower and, occasionally, the Stormdrain.  For fun I’ve put them in gear with more damage and critical chance and pretty much no resistance (mostly stuff from bundles that I don’t ever use except for moments like this).  The lack of resistance doesn’t really matter against these opponents.  But they don’t go critical any more in this gear than they normally do in the gear without critical chance.

Then I put together my best “go critical” gear.  Even trolled through the Bazaar to see if I could pick up anything better than I had.  Took it in for the first time that there’s just about nothing in level 90 gear and — in the 80’s anyway — athames, boots and rings pretty much don’t have critical boost…  Anyway this photo shows her critical chance with the better gear (33%):

33-critical_edited

And still she doesn’t go critical…  [I don’t have a critical pet for Morgan; at some point I’ll try Rylee with her best critical gear and equip the pet who has a critical boost]

I’ve mentioned before that I find various aspects of the game seem to work differently for different wizards.  I’ve even found it to be true among the various wizards on my three accounts.  One Death girl fizzles a lot, another rarely fizzles.  One gets a Pink Dandelion drop in every other battle in Krokotopia, another finishes the world with maybe one…  A Life wizard friend uses her level 18 minion a lot and it is never defeated.  I quit casting it too often for my Life wizards because theirs are routinely wiped out, often so fast it wasn’t worth wasting four pips to cast…

I’m a little surprised, though, that for me lack of critical so far affects every wizard on every account who’s reached that level.  Really, two of them about level 54, one level 60, two in the low seventies and the 89 and 90 ones…  none of them go critical often enough to ever count on it and that’s regardless of whether they’re equipped for critical or not.

In my next post I’m going to discuss some possible strategies for playing nicely with lower level wizards in Wizard City dungeons and this odd experience with critical affects some of my advice…

*Some pets and gear (mostly from packs) with critical chance can be equipped by low level wizards, who will then go critical occasionally — I’ve had it happen for wizards below level 10 just from a pet with a little critical boost.

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Jabberwock

Morgan equipped for Jabberwock

Morgan equipped for Jabberwock

I’ve completed the Jabberwock dungeon at the end of the Wild in Avalon twice recently, with two very different experiences.  Others have given pretty extensive guides to this dungeon (see here for one) so I won’t get too detailed, but thought I’d provide the contrast between my first, miserable, experience and my second quick and easy one.

Generally when I face a dungeon I’ve already heard is difficult I do some research and read someone else’s guide/notes so I know what the trick(s) is/are, whether I need to buy some TCs, what gear to put on, etc.  But I was feeling lazy when Morgan hit the dungeon and just got on Team Up and went in.  Jabberwock is a fire creature with 25,000 health and a couple of big cheats though he also casts a helpful all school 200% trap on himself.

Every third round he casts a Meteor that does anywhere from 1800 to 3800 damage to every player on your team.  He also puts that 200% trap on himself.  Periodically, though, he removes all traps, including that one, so part of the trick is timing in when you hit him.  Some sources say he does that every other round, some say it’s every five or six; I lost count so I can’t say for sure, but it didn’t seem like every other round to me.

Morgan went in without enough proper fire gear, no Quench cards, only her Volcanic Shields from her regular deck (no Fire shield TCs) and was quickly defeated, only to discover this dungeon doesn’t have reset (although randomly a couple of times when I fled it showed up…).  So, first thing you want to do if you Team Up with strangers is either mark location at the grassy section by the entry or “friend” some or all of the other players so you can leave and port back in if necessary.

On her second team up attempt she went in with just one other person.  Neither of us had the proper gear and Morgan had the same deck I used the first time except for a bunch of Fire shields in the Treasure side.  We eventually defeated him but we both spent a bundle on Henchmen who were defeated as well as using our level 75 minions.  Eventually she called her sister, who got on line and joined.  It took between two and three hours, during which time we both were repeatedly defeated and had to port back in.

Knowing that Rylee W. would soon be facing him, I did some research and started stockpiling Quench (hard to come by at the Bazaar but you can buy as many as you want from the Archivist in Celestia) and Fire shields for both her and Morgan (having decided to bring Morgan in too so they could both help with Quench and shields).  Toward the last I hit the Bazaar and studied the gear, purchasing a bunch of Fire resist gear for both of them so they both went in with 73% Fire resist and 43% Storm resist built into their equipment, plus a fair amount of critical block (30% ish) for both Storm and Fire, which made a HUGE difference.  Since I also still liberally put up Fire shields, some of those theoretically big hits wound up only doing 38 damage or 17 damage, etc.

Jabberwock gear stats

Jabberwock gear stats

The gear I chose:

  • Robe–Combustible Costume
  • Ring–Hathi’s Victory Band
  • Boots–Ironhide
  • Hat–Paladin’s Frosty Helmet
  • Athame–Razor Thorn

All of that is gear that can be used by wizards from any school.

At the level my two were when hitting Jabberwock (about level 79 for Rylee and level 80 for Morgan), there’s an odd dearth of level-appropriate resistance equipment, so you’ll notice that most of the items on the list are more like level 62 –the robe is only level 54.  It means I lost a lot of damage boost that I usually build into my gear but for this dungeon, where preventing defeat (or multiple defeats 🙂 ) is a major goal, it was definitely worth the sacrifice.

I’ve already picked up some level 82 gear for Morgan that will give her a few pieces of level-appropriate resistance gear as soon as she levels up but from level 62 to 82+ it’s surprising how little resistance gear there is (Paladin’s Frosty Helmet being a big exception).  I looked pretty carefully and realized it’s the same for other schools:  to create that big resistance I have to use gear that’s around level 54-56 for the biggest resist.  Not sure why there’s so little good resistance gear available when you get into the 70’s and 80’s and even the minions are whacking you with big spells and critical.

At the last minute I decided to use Team Up, so two Storm wizards came in with us.  It worked out kind of well because they didn’t seem to bring Quench but my two cast LOTS of them.  I found it really helped to just get Quench stacked so I didn’t have to keep counting rounds.  It stopped most of his casts, including blades, so even when he did manage to launch something it generally didn’t have enhanced damage.  He almost never got off one of those pesky Meteors at all.

While my two contributed a couple of quite good hits with Scarecrow and Forest Lord, respectively, they mainly helped in keeping Jabberwock at bay and the big hits of Storm by the others really helped.  One of the Storm girls managed to whack him a couple of times with the 200% shield up, including her final hit knocking him for 46,000+!  And all of this took about 15 minutes.  After the long ordeal the first time that felt like major victory.

If my two had gone in alone I think it would have taken quite a bit longer since Quench takes up 2 pips and because it’s not the school of either of my wizards, that means it eats power pips.  Forest Lord, Gnomes, Dr. Von and Scarecrow all take a lot of pips to cast so, based on the time it took for each of them to cast after stacking Quench, it would have taken quite a while for them to cast several rounds of damage with lots of Quench and shields in between.

A lot of advice involves keeping count of rounds and anticipating what Jabberwock will be doing but I find it too hard to keep track of the round numbers so for me it wound up kind of random whether I was casting various things on the recommended round.  In the end that didn’t seem to make that much difference.

There’s also a lot of advice about making sure everyone gets into the circle at the same time.  No one seems to mention why it’s important but it seemed like it might impact whether you wind up with two battles or one.  When my first battle wound up with two in the circle before the other two, we fought all the creatures who were out when we entered; the Jabberwock, his Storm minion (3,250) and his two Fomori Giant minions (Myth, 2,280).  For Rylee’s turn, when we all jumped in at the same time and started the first round together, we fought the two Fomoris first and then got the Jabberwock and the Storm minion for the second battle, which definitely made it easier.

Recently I became much lazier than I used to be about researching dungeons before going in.  But lately I’ve started having trouble with changing gear after I’m in and having it wipe out half my mana or reduce my health by a bunch, so I’ve been back to looking each one up before entering so I can change gear and, if necessary, restore mana and/or health before I go in.  The Jabberwock experience definitely underscored how helpful it can be to take a little time before going in so I know what I’m facing and how to prepare.

Equipping: Crown, Bazaar/Vendors, Crafted?

Deciding between gear from shops/Bazaar, from crafting and from the crown shop is one of the many arenas in which there are lots of opinions about the “best”; I say they all work– figure out what works for you.

Early on I ran into a lot of posts and commentaries favoring crown gear and I was seduced by it.  Since I bought crowns for the first account, I invested in crown gear.  And I liked it well enough.  Especially the extra health boost–since I couldn’t afford to buy new crown stuff every 10 levels (most of it is available on the fives; 5, 15, 25, etc.) I used it for 20-30 levels and obviously made it through.

At the time I didn’t know that much about which stats to favor and there weren’t that many crown gear choices so I just took what was available. Because so many people thought it was good, I assumed the fact that I kept moving up had something to do with the crown gear.

Then I got the second account and worked on figuring out the game on a seriously limited budget.  No crown gear.  Rylee made it to level 60 without crown gear (at that point some gear that came with a bundle kicked in).  I hunted at the Bazaar regularly, looking for the best gear for the next major level up.

Lo and behold, I felt like she did better with the Bazaar stuff.  Of course by that time I had a lot more experience, so hard to know how much of the “better” resulted from the gear and how much stemmed from knowing more.  But when I bought a bundle on sale that came with gear I chose level 60 and when she got there and equipped it, I didn’t like it as well as the gear I put together from the Bazaar.

I’ve read posts from people who love the cards that come with crown gear and who just load their decks with blades and traps and rely on the cards for damage.  And I’m aware that some people actually choose certain items of gear specifically for the spell card(s) that come with it.

I, on the other hand, mostly find the cards a nuisance.  A few have been handy and I’ve used them (like something that comes with a tower shield).  But I don’t have Mastery amulets for all the schools (on the second account that would be zero) and I’m pretty fussy about my pips.

All those spells from other schools that come with crown gear aren’t usable for me; just not gonna waste a bunch of power pips to lob some spell for which I can get an equivalent from my school.*  But I’m always forgetting to X them out (click on them in the deck to take them) so there they are in my spell deck, messing up my hands with crap I have to discard and wait another round or two to get a spell I want  [At higher levels than this blog is generally about, there’s school specific crown gear, so there is a point where you can get spells that don’t eat your pips and might be useful.]

At the lower levels crown gear also tends to make you choose between being shielded from damage from all schools or boosting the damage you can do with spells from any schools.  Usually one of those helps accuracy or pips (or some other stat) and the other helps with something else, so you pretty much give up one or more whole sets of stats whichever way you go.  Again, because of the pips thing, I mostly use spells from my school and I can get a bigger damage boost from school-specific gear I find at the Bazaar.

I waffle about the stuff with resistance as it IS kind of nice sometimes to just reduce damage from everything — especially in those worlds through level 50 or so where the creatures often lob spells from three or four schools (more if you have to fight more than one type).

Then there’s the gear you can craft.  There are lots of people who feel that crafted gear is best.  I’m inclined to agree but there’s an issue with the crafted stuff.  If you do side quests as well as main story quests, you hit each world at a higher level than main-story-only people and until Celestia, the recipes are for gear that’s lower level.  I’m always in better gear I got in the Bazaar, so I look at the recipes and can’t see why I’d want them.

Then at Celestia another oddity arrives.  Rylee hit Celestia and encountered a vendor with gear recipes that seemed great and were appropriate to her level even though she completed a lot of the side quests (i.e. higher level than the main story-only folks).  Except she wasn’t allowed to buy them or use them until completing the crafting quest in Zafaria.  Of course, by the time she got there she was five or six levels higher and wearing higher level gear from the Bazaar so no longer needed the crafted stuff from Celestia.

The good news is, lots of wizards, as they level up, sell their crafted gear at the Bazaar.  There’s usually not a lot of it and I have to do a lot of trolling, but I’ve picked up some great crafted gear that’s level appropriate long before my wizards could get the recipes.  Fortunately, all the gardening I do means I’m constantly at the Bazaar to sell off TCs and seeds so I just check in on what’s available while I’m there.

There’s a similar issue with the vendors on the different worlds and the drops as well.  If you do side quests as well as main story, you’ll be at too high a level to be interested in the gear at the shops.  Fortunately the vendors’ stuff gets sold at the Bazaar a LOT, so you can get, say, Mooshu gear when you’re starting Marleybone and so on.  I wound up selling pretty much all the gear I got in drops in the early worlds because my wizards have been levels above the stuff**; this changes a bit by the time you hit Wintertusk.

If you’re playing on a budget, I think you can do great by maximizing gold through gardening (or farming for drops or reagents to sell) and buying the best gear you can find at the Bazaar.  If you can afford crown gear and you do well with it, that works fine too.  Whatever you can afford and/or comfortable with, you can succeed at the game as long as you figure out the strategy that works for you.


 

* I’m planning a post or two at some point on secondary school spells where I’ll go into this at greater length.

** As an example, I’ve been leveling up a wizard on my third account as fast as possible (on a one month membership) so for the first time I’ve skipped just about all side quests since Wizard City.  I paired her up for the last four dungeons/towers of Marleybone with a wizard who’s done almost all the quests.  So they were both at the point to get those quests when one was level 29 and the other level 36.  If I’d skipped all the side quests in Wizard City she’d have been more like level 24.  I’m finding she IS at the right level for drops and gear as she gets to each world.

Equipping: for your personality

In the last post I talked about school considerations in choosing gear.  The other big part of the equation is your personality and what feels more comfortable to you.

Some folks are heavy hitters.  They like Storm and Fire and they want to go in fast, hit hard and get out.  Some people are very defended and they like to make sure they have lots of protection.  Some like to do more strategizing and use a variety of enhancements.

In the long run, I think every equipment decision is basically about keeping enough health to finish the battle.  Even if you’re going for extra damage and a fast hit, the faster your take out the enemies the fewer rounds you’re taking hits so you save your health by vanquishing before they have a chance to do too much damage to you.

If you’re interested in accuracy, the lack of fizzles mean you hit more often and, again, you defeat them before they’ve had so many rounds to hit you.  If you go for lots of pips, that lets you lob a bigger spell sooner — you got it, you defeat them a few rounds earlier so you don’t get hit as many times.

If you do a lot of shielding, it reduces the damage they can do to your health although sometimes the trade-off is that it takes you more rounds to finally lob a spell.  With my Life and Death girls, whose spells take more pips, the shielding helps them survive until they have enough pips to lob their bigger spells; basically preserving health until ready to finish them off.

You can just specifically aim for enhancing health by choosing the gear that offers the highest health — often there’s one item at a given level that has higher health than any others but offers no other stat enhancements.

While you still want to pick gear that fills in for the weaknesses of your school, in the end you have to decide which types of gear leave you feeling more comfortable.

I tend to tread a middle ground.  I always take in some heal spells and some shields–or wear gear with shields– because I like to be reasonably defended.  But I also like to boost damage so my spells hit harder and are more likely to knock one or more enemies out in one punch.

Again, I vary a bit depending on school.  My Storm and Fire girls always have a lot of accuracy boosting.  My Life and Death girls always have a lot of damage boosts.  For the ones who are over level 50, I make sure they have critical block and critical hit enhancements.

My suggestion is start trying out some different enhancements in the early stages and pay attention to what feels best.  Sometimes my damage boosts mean there’s a lot of overkill but I like being able to lob one spell and take out a bad guy.  The fizzle schools like Storm and Fire can drive me nuts so I like getting enough accuracy to be able to count on casting spells that actually hit.

Bottom line, I’ve played with wizards who use lots of different theories.  While lots of folks like to strut around proclaiming their method superior, I know lots of very high level wizards who’ve gotten there a bunch of different ways.  Choose what feels good to you.

Next time I’ll briefly explore some ins and outs of crown vs. gold gear and crafted gear.

A few strategy tips

Rylee (Life, level 69), got left in the Celestian Base Camp after I ported a couple of wizards on the first account to her so they could pick up gardening spells (see previous post).  When I logged in last night someone immediately asked to be her friend and then shortly after that asked for help.

I ported her back from her garden to help him with a few quests in the Science Center.  For the life of me, I can’t figure out how this guy made it to Celestia; unless asking for help and letting his teammates win every battle is his strategy.  He didn’t have shields or much in healing; he lobbed big damage spells while Tower shields were up so he lost his damage.  The rest of the time he cast spells so small they were almost useless at the level of mobs we were fighting. He wasn’t equipped with gear appropriate to his level.

It got me thinking about a few tips I’d offer to beginners:

  1. Always have some heals in your deck and in your Treasure deck.  I spent most of one battle healing him and, since he never added any heals to mine, he kept getting defeated.  Sprite is my favorite for non-Life wizards since it only uses one pip.  Even if you have a pet who can heal, you can’t always count on it, so be prepared yourself.
  2. Start healing before you’re in trouble.  Especially if you use Sprite, you need a few rounds to get much health back so toss one off every now and then before your health gets dangerously low.  You can’t count on your team mates necessarily getting the right heal spell in their hand when you need it, so pay attention to health.  If your heal spells aren’t showing up, discard something and get one through your Treasure Cards.
  3. When you team up in a battle with wizards you don’t know well, add some extra Sprites and shields to your deck and/or Treasure side.  It’s amazing how many wizards don’t come prepared.  I spend a lot of time keeping track of the health of my teammates and preventing them from being defeated.  Once you’ve gotten extra minions to fight, you don’t want to be losing team mates.
  4. Check out your opponents before you jump into battle and put shields in your deck that will reduce their damage.  If you haven’t trained Tower Shield, put some in your Treasure deck.  Use training points to get high enough (usually just 2 or 3 points) in a few schools to collect different shields.
  5. If you’re up against monsters who regularly shield, make sure you’re prepared for their shields.  For Ice opponents I have two main strategies to deal with all those Tower Shields:  (1) wand spells; you knock off the shield without using any pips and without losing half the damage from your good spell; (2) for wizards who have over time spells, I put a bunch in the deck; i.e. Poison for Death, Fire Elves for Fire.  During the rounds that it’s active it keeps popping off those shields.  Poison also works to deal with all those Death shields from Life monsters, Fire Elf for all those Fire Shields from Ice creatures.  I put up my blades and traps and then, if I need to, I take a few rounds to knock off shields so I don’t lose 50-80% of the big damage I’ve set up.
  6. While those early level polymorph spells are kind of fun and can be helpful as far as getting extra health, they come with pretty crappy spells for the level of monsters you’re fighting by the time you can train polymorph.  I think my team mate in this case was probably a child — he kept polymorphing into a Gobbler and he LOVED the fart spells.  I sure hope it was a kid… 🙂  The thing is, the damage spells are way too small for, say, the Hydro-Mechs.  Make sure you’ve got some damage spells that are appropriate to the health levels of your opponents.  With this team mate, in spite of using lots of pips on healing him, I also had to keep garnering the pips to lob big damage because he didn’t help me with that either.
  7. There’s plenty of great gear available for gold in the Bazaar.  Every five levels–at least–check the Bazaar and see if you can get better gear.  Some types get better every five levels, some types more like every ten.  As you move higher you can also luck into crafted gear being sold that often is odd levels like 33 or 54.

A lot of this advice is especially for wizards under level 50.  When you get to level 50 and beyond, there’s a lot you can do with shielding through your gear.  You can also add tons of health.  Once you get there, some of this advice is less important but I’ve been saved from defeat against some tricky bosses by always having the heal cards and shields. I can always discard if I’m clearly not needing them, but sometimes they make the difference between victory and defeat.