One of my favorite topics in Wizard101 is school originality. Pirate101 had the benefit of knowing that PvP would eventually come into play, where Wizard101 didn't necessarily have that set in stone to begin with. But in the process of accounting for that, has Wizard101 lost school originality?
Seven AdventuresThat's how Wizard101 advertises its different schools - you can play the game through seven different times and have whole new experiences, further reinforced with Astral Magic and Shadow Magic, which make potential training combinations seemingly endless. Each school has a specific range of abilities and type of spells, while also having gaps in their strategies that other schools fill.
Storm is the school with the lowest accuracy and highest damage. This is hardly a drawback when end-game gear makes them more accurate than elemental schools while maintaining higher damage. Elemental school gear, however, has historically lacked power pips, and elemental schools have lacked power pip chance in general. Storm has the ability to stun, complimented by several AoEs, one of which includes this ability. They also have an important set of powers that removes blades (and one for negative charms), which is also seen on some of their later attacks. Their biggest hole is in shield-removal. They do have Wild and Insane Bolt, plus their usual low-damage hits, but they require the blades that they might have used for a powerful single hit. Storm has no DoT spells, so dealing with shields is a major issue.
Fire has the second highest damage and second lowest accuracy. Like with Storm, this is accounted for by end-game gear, though they can lack power pip chance as well. Fire also has a number of AoEs and specializes in DoT abilities - it's tough to keep shields on with Pyromancers, who have even gained the ability to simultaneously hit and heal with the Link series of spells. They can stun to some effect and also have accuracy-reduction powers. Fire is not particularly lacking in any one area.
Ice has lower damage, but huge health to make up for it. They're well known for their resistance and shields, which provide them with the ability to take heavy damage and survive. They have a variety of AoEs, single hits, and DoTs, as well as a line of steal powers ranging from shields to HoT (Heal over Time) spells. Ice, however, can't deal much damage very quickly unless they're built for it, in which case their resist may be compromised.
Death is obviously focused on drains - the ability to hit and heal at the same time. So if you think about it in terms of total health offset in a battle, Wraith is worth a value of 900, making it the most effective six-pip spell. Of course, they also have their share of single hits, but that seems to be the primary focus for quite some time, and like several spiritual schools, they lack a "cheap" AoE, their first and only one being Scarecrow at level 48. They do have two DoTs which are effective, as well as powers to reduce damage and healing ability.
Myth specialized in minions, as well as shield removal, and its Earthquake spell is feared everywhere. Between that and Humongofrog, they're set for lower levels, but need a higher-powered AoE for later worlds. I'm sure Death and Life wizards would be happy to trade. Myth can also stun and employ a number of clever tactics with hanging effects. They're masters of monsters and of manipulations.
Balance has any number of tools that draw on the abilities of other classes, and as of recent updates, has become quite powerful. They have multiple minions, powerful heals, universal blades, dispels of all types, pip manipulation spells, multi-hits, AoEs, and more. It's hard to be lacking when you've got a little bit of everything, but Balance has been missing some solid damage hits. They had Power Nova, which lost damage due to the effect. Then Ra, which was pure damage, but not particularly powerful by comparison for the pip cost. Then Chimera, which is a Spirit version of Hydra with added damage - not ideal to boost with Feints and traps, but also opening up a whole new can of worms for the Balance school. I'd expect a solid single hit with a small effect the next update.
So Do We Fill the Gaps?That IS the question, isn't it? Each school desperately needs something to be successful, but if we hand that to those schools, do we take away the originality of each one?
My opinion is that you do have to meet the needs of schools to an extent. Myth indeed needs a new AoE. Life would benefit from another healing power. There IS a line, because we have to keep in mind that PvP plays a role in the decision as well, like it or not. If we give Storm a DoT, for example, they'd lose their one major weakness and become incredibly powerful minus, maybe, having lower health.
What justifies filling gaps, though? It's that these schools won't always have it all. In fact, a majority of the current game will be spent missing an important strategic element from your deck. However, once wizards hit level 100 and beyond, why shouldn't they be learning magic that specifically fits their needs?
Keeping the Balance (and the Peace!)Some of these gaps have already been filled in the form of craftable spells. For example, Death got its much-needed Deer Knight. However, many holes remain unfilled. How do we patch these areas without overpowering any one school?
One answer is high-pip spells. Rank 11 spells aren't actually an incredibly long wait, especially if you're going second in PvP and you start with six pips already. If Storm has an eleven-pip DoT, they may indeed be more powerful, but you also know that they can only use that DoT at eleven pips or above, which should provide adequate time to prepare.
The other potential solution is level 100+ low-rank spells. If Death, for example, received Deer Knight as a trained spell at level 100, it's hardly overpowered or stealing originality from other schools, because they played a large part of the game without it. The line has to be drawn where a particular spell would fill one of few holes in a particular school. A low-cost DoT for Storm, even if attained at such a high level, would not only seem out of place for the school, but would also make them too powerful.
So what do you think? How should these school gaps be filled - crafted spells? New level-related spells? Of what rank?
Thanks for reading and see you in the Spiral!