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Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Wizard101 Level 125 Spells (Empyrea Part 2): My Analysis

Wizard101 Level 125 Spells (Empyrea Part 2) Scion Tree Spells

With the release of Empyrea Part 2 to the Test Realm, there are seven new level 125+ school spells available during the storyline this time instead of from individual class professors. The spells are the trees of Ravenwood, and they introduce some interesting new mechanics. Let's take a look.

Level 125 Spells: Overview

These new tree-themed spells provide each school with the ability to call on their particular school tree to aid them in battle. This is a pretty cool concept. As I mentioned, these are integrated into the storyline. That makes a lot more sense to me, as our big spells in each world have been themed after that world for a long time now, but they've always been separate quests.

Spell Conditions

What's unique about these spells is that they have two effects, and two animations. You can deal its standard damage with a first animation, or you can meet a special requirement to cast a second animation instead and do double the damage!

Wizard101 Level 125 Spells (Empyrea Part 2) Scion Tree Spells

These spells are all 12 pips, so they're a bit clunky to cast, and it takes a significant amount of time to prepare. You can't have any more than a single white pip, or you'll have to cast some other spell to use them up. I'm also wondering what happened to 11-pip spells, which we apparently skipped.

There's an argument to be made that this is the epitome of big story moments and therefore these spells should reflect that. These are school trees that have been an integral part of our Ravenwood and Spiral experience for so long. Should they be more powerful? Maybe. I'm not wild about the conditions, but they do keep things interesting, and they justify some of the bigger damage effects.

I'm reminded of the past set of spells which are four-pip shadow spells that let you choose the number of targets. Much like those, these level 125 Scion spells seem pretty underpowered when used without their special effect, and decently powerful when used with their effect. Some are easier to activate than others. Let's break them down, one by one.

Scion of Balance

Cost: 12 pips | Effect: Does 1225 Balance damage. | Bonus: IF the caster has 6 or more blades, does 2450 Balance damage and removes all blades on the caster instead.

Wizard101 Level 125 Spells (Empyrea Part 2) Scion Tree Spells

Mechanics

Balance's spell is fairly straightforward - you get a solid bit of Balance damage, but with six blades, you get quite a bit more. If you compare this to Sabertooth, it's pretty good in general, but a serious step up if you meet the requirement.

Wizard101 Level 125 Spells (Empyrea Part 2) Scion Tree SpellsIs the requirement realistic? As a Balance player, it isn't that tough to activate because you can train both tri-blades for free. However, both of those blades cost 1 pip and take up a turn, then you lose them because Enfeeble is cast on you after you play this spell. This makes it tough to effectively use your turns to potentially power up for multiple hits, because you lose all blades after using this spell.

Not every spell has to be a winner or something every wizard is using all the time. I can actually see this spell being used for big hits in solo encounters, since I can't imagine a Balance wizard using this heavy-duty of a single-target spell in many other situations. Given how big an improvement it is on Sabertooth at 10 pips when meeting the requirement, I'm okay with the Balance spell as it is.

I'm not wild about the requirement on this spell in particular, because the "reward" involves what's essentially a punishment for the caster. Yes, you get a lot of bonus damage, and yes, you'll probably use this spell as a big one-hit attack. Still, there's a reason spells like Rusalka's Wrath don't see a ton of play where spells from that same set - like Raging Bull - see a ton of play. Negative effects aren't really attractive when there are so many spells without them. I'd be okay with it except for the fact that several of the other schools don't have any drawbacks to their Scion spells.

Animations

The Scion of Balance spell summons Niles the Balance tree. During the regular animation, Niles rolls a coconut off the top of his head onto the target. During the bonus animation, Niles spins away into Anubis, who wields a scale. The outline of a person on the scale becomes a ball of energy that attacks the opponent. I like that the bonus animation has the full background on this one. I wish that the ball of energy attacking the opponent didn't pause and sort of pretend to fly toward the enemy. It could just attack them. I would say the same about other energy attacks in these spell animations.

Scion of Ice

Cost: 12 pips | Effect: Does 1185 Ice damage. | Bonus: IF the caster is at full health, does 2370 Ice damage instead.

Wizard101 Level 125 Spells (Empyrea Part 2) Scion Tree Spells

Mechanics

Ice's spell is even simpler - you get 1185 Ice damage or 2360 if you're at full health when you cast it. Compare this to Lord of Winter and it's a slight improvement in damage even if you don't meet the requirement, and it's a big step up if you do. It doesn't have any special effect, though. With Lord of Winter, the target loses 3 pips. With Scion of Ice, it's just plain damage. This is okay, given that big, single-target spells are usually meant as powerful one-hit-knockout attacks.

Wizard101 Level 125 Spells (Empyrea Part 2) Scion Tree SpellsIce, however, has one of the toughest requirements. Staying at full health is a little bit of work for Ice, who has limited healing abilities compared to schools like Life or even Death. If the Ice wizard is going second, they would have to get lucky and avoid any damage that round for the effect to activate. There are ways to do this with absorbs, but Ice is more shield-based. This requirement would make a lot more sense if it were, say, 80-90% health.

A lot of these conditions can be met in part by other wizards. For example, the Balance spell can use blades cast by someone else. The Ice spell can rely on healing from someone else, but healing is less readily available than blades. Given that Scion of Ice has one of the lower damage amounts and no effect, I think changing the requirements to slightly less health is more than reasonable.

Ice does pretty well in solo battles and can operate like a tank. Abominable Weaver is pretty powerful, and an example of where, if a player can get two shadow pips in the time it takes to build up 10 pips, could do more damage, get better effects, and not have to meet any requirements by using shadow spells. For higher base damage in a single hit, this spell would still work okay if the health requirement is lowered slightly. I actually don't mind the full health requirement if all of the others were that tough to trigger (because they are THAT powerful), but as of now, Ice's is just way harder than the rest.

Animations

The Scion of Ice spell summons Kelvin the Ice tree. During the regular animation, a chill wind passes through Kelvin's branches and damages the target. During the bonus animation, icicles form and fly off and toward the opponent. The wind is a little underwhelming. I'm not wild about the icicles and the simulated movement toward the opponent, but it works.

Updated Spell Card

The Ice spell was changed in a recent Test Realm update! Now, instead of requiring the wizard to be at full health, it requires only 90% health. I love this change - it makes the spell very usable for Ice, a school heavy on defense and reducing (but not preventing - hence the trouble with 100%) damage.

In group play, other schools can also help Ice achieve this goal for a big hit. In addition, unlike the Storm spell, Scion of Ice has an interactive condition where a PvP opponent has a fair chance at prevent the condition from being met, while at the same time not impossible for Ice to protect against.

I think the idea of having to protect from even a wand hit or surprise enemy attack (especially if you're going second) was unrealistic. Now both you and the opponent know that they need to do a decent hunk of damage (with Ice's health, the requirement is greater than with other wizards) to avoid this spell activating. Great update to this card.

Scion of Death

Cost: 12 pips | Effect: Does 1040 Death damage and heals the caster for 50% of damage dealt. | Bonus: IF the target has 33% or less health, does 2080 Death damage and heals the caster for 50% instead.

Wizard101 Level 125 Spells (Empyrea Part 2) Scion Tree Spells

Mechanics

Death's spell is a drain, which means you get 50% health back from the damage dealt. I question whether this is super relevant given that I've noted the tendency to use spells this big as one-hit-knockouts. I suppose ending with a little bonus health saves needing wisps. The damage here is pretty good. It's actually less than Avenging Fossil if you don't meet the requirements, which is a first so far among these spells, but it's also a drain and has no AoE effect.

Wizard101 Level 125 Spells (Empyrea Part 2) Scion Tree SpellsDeath's spell has probably the worst requirement, because it's immediately going to require calculating 25% of the total health value, and how often do you ever get any enemy - boss or mob - to less than 25% health without defeating them? In the current state of the game, this almost never happens in PvE. Consider the fact that Dr. Von's Monster - for 75% of the pip cost, does around 80% of the damage and has a bonus effect. This makes Scion of Death nearly unusable.

In PvP, there may be a place for this spell, but it's what we'd call a "win more" spell. That is, it just helps you when you're ahead and isn't otherwise very useful. That's not a great mechanic to operate on. You want to give players the ability to make a comeback or have to work to win a game, not suddenly gain an advantage because they're ahead.

Death is a class that does pretty well solo, even if they're a lot slower than other schools. A drain is okay on a big hit, even though I don't think it'll get much use, but I don't think the requirement on this one works at all. I'd say the target being below 50% health would be more reasonable, but I'd still never include it in my deck without some more manageable requirement. I like the idea of having two negative charms. There are really somewhat few negative charm spells and quite a few of them are expensive. Not only that, but preventing the opponent from actually using them up is tougher than in other cases, but it allows Death to more readily use of their Infections and Plague spells with the promise of a big hit.

An additional note: Why is this the only Scion spell to say "HP" instead of using the health symbol?

Animations

The Scion of Death spell summons Mortis the Death tree. During the regular animation, Mortis spits out a death blood bat which attacks the enemy and is swallowed again. Mortis then spits out health back at the caster. During the bonus animation, Mortis summons a death vortex which attacks the target and sends bats out to heal the caster. I like both of these animations, but particularly the blood bat, which is unique. It looks like there's supposed to be a full background behind the vortex version, but it kind of blinks on and off.

Updated Spell Card

The Death spell was updated in the most recent version of the Test Realm! The spell now does double damage if either the caster or the target has 33% or less health. This is really interesting because the spell has some additional versatility where you can use it as a finisher with the double damage (kick 'em while they're down), or as a recovery tool if you're hurting for health.

It's not quite as nice as some of the other Scion spells which can be used earlier on in a battle without one side or the other being low on health, but it's definitely a positive change for the Death spell, and it's a tool I can see being used in PvP.

As I explained with some of the other spells, it's okay to have a spell with specific uses that isn't an auto-include in all decks or a spell so universally powerful that it's great in all situations. I like spells that require players to plan out their battles and not just throw whatever into a deck and go for it.

Scion of Fire 

Cost: 12 pips | Effect: Does 1300 Fire damage. | Bonus: IF the target has 2 more more DoTs (damage over time spells), does 2600 Fire damage and removes all DoTs instead.

Wizard101 Level 125 Spells (Empyrea Part 2) Scion Tree Spells

Mechanics

Fire's spell does a little bit more damage than the others so far. It's at the upper end of what Sun Serpent can do regularly without a special effect, meaning you'd definitely want to trigger the bonus for this to be worth it for Fire wizards.

Wizard101 Level 125 Spells (Empyrea Part 2) Scion Tree SpellsHaving two DoT spells on the enemy is a tougher requirement, but not an impossible one. It's another one of those requirements that be fulfilled by other schools, but unlike in Ice's case, nearly every school can contribute. That said, DoT spells aren't very popular right now for the same reason you won't see people playing the Death spell in its current state - one-hit kills are the way to go. If you look at one of Fire's cheapest DoT spells, Fire Elf, you'd still have to commit 4 pips to attack the enemy, then use Scion of Fire very quickly while both of those DoTs were active. This also means you can't effectively trap (including Feint) for a big hit, which is the primary purpose of these spells in my mind.

Like with Death, I think this spell would do better in PvP, but its requirement is still tough to swing. What we saw on Ice and Death is that generally when one of these spells has a tougher requirement, it removes any negative effect of the spell. However, in both Balance and Fire's case, where they are required to commit extra pips to achieve their bonus effect, they have these drawbacks. This doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me.

Fire is a damage school, used often as a hammer. I can see them wanting to land a bit hit on a tough boss. I think the DoT requirement will rule out this spell for any boss that allows traps and make it a less popular option for Fire in general. I could still see this being used as a specialty spell if they allow the DoTs on the enemy to remain. I say remove the drawback of casting Triage on the target, at least.

Animations

The Scion of Fire spell summons Bernie the Fire tree. During the regular animation, Bernie awakens and spits out a bit of fire at the enemy. During the bonus animation, Bernie summons a fireball which flies toward the target and turns into more of a spear shape. The spitting fire seems a bit lackluster, but I like the fireball.

Scion of Storm

Cost: 12 pips | Effect: Does 1380 Storm damage. | Bonus: IF the target has 75% health or more, does 2760 Storm damage instead.

Wizard101 Level 125 Spells (Empyrea Part 2) Scion Tree Spells

Mechanics

Storm's spell has the highest damage effect. This is the only one of the spells to have significantly less damage on the 12-pip version in its standard form than previous spells. Compared to Storm Owl, you're actually losing a fair amount of damage. Don't get too worked up though.

Wizard101 Level 125 Spells (Empyrea Part 2) Scion Tree SpellsStorm has the easiest of any requirement to achieve double damage on their spell. As explained already, given that one-hit-knockouts are the most common practice, this spell will probably almost always be doubled, in stark contrast to every other school spell, all of which require a fair bit of work to achieve the double damage.

With a base damage of 2760, I can see this spell getting a lot of use from Storm hammers looking to take out a big boss, both in solo encounters and in team play. It's perhaps the most usable of all the spells for its insane damage and easy condition.

I'm not a fan at all of the requirement for this spell. To have that crazy of base damage means that you could be looking at over 5000 damage with no power-ups, just using gear, on this one spell. That's too much without an extra requirement. In PvE, it'll almost always trigger. In PvP, it's going to make for incredibly common one-hit-knockouts, which should decidedly NOT be happening. We call that a non-interactive card because gameplay is solely one-sided and simply relies on one player completing a combo or building pips to attack with a spell that they may not even need power-ups for to kill an opponent. I'm tempted to say it should be at 90% health or greater, but that doesn't solve the PvP problem. I think the requirement should be changed completely. Maybe it could be a requirement like the enemy not having any blades.

The reason this one in particular is a problem is because how easily the requirement is met. Enemies in PvP have no way to prepare for or counter such an effect. Few schools can damage themselves, and fewer still can or would want to do 25% of their health in damage to themselves.

Animations

The Scion of Storm spell summons Torrence the Storm tree. During the regular animation, Torrence summons a storm cloud that rains on the target. During the bonus animation, Torrence spins around into a stormy whirlwind that twists over to the target. Both animations are suitable for a Storm spell and look good. I would like to see a full background on the bonus version.

Scion of Myth

Cost: 12 pips | Effect: Does 1260 Myth damage. | Bonus: IF the target is stunned OR the caster has 2 or more stun shields, does 2520 Myth damage and removes the caster's stun shields instead.

Wizard101 Level 125 Spells (Empyrea Part 2) Scion Tree Spells

Mechanics

The Myth spell does a solid 1260 Myth damage, which is a step up from Celestial Calendar, although you don't get the stolen pip bonus. On the other hand, 2520 Myth damage will be a great big-damage spell for Myth wizards, who tend to be better equipped for hitting than supporting in my experience.

Wizard101 Level 125 Spells (Empyrea Part 2) Scion Tree SpellsMyth's requirement is as close to perfect as we're going to get. In PvE, bosses with stun resistance would make this tough to pull off, but the ability to also meet the requirement with Stun Block solves that problem. In PvP, it's borderline too easy to pull off, either in stunning your opponent once then using it, or casting a couple of Stun Blocks to where it's impossible (and impractical) to try and remove them all and prevent a boosted Scion of Myth spell.

This is one of the easiest requirements to pull off in group play because it requires, in almost all scenarios, only one other person to be going before a Myth wizard who can stun to active the requirement. This is a spell that scares me a little in 1v1 PvP because it can be tough to counter the full effects and the full effects on all of these spells are a little powerful. I think the Myth spell is probably the most balanced of any of the spells and I'll be curious to see how it plays out in PvP in particular.

Animations

The Scion of Myth spell summons Ivan the Myth tree. During the regular animation, Ivan's eye glows and and he screams out power that damages the target. During the bonus animation, a cyclops and a troll pop out of Ivan's branches and swirling around into a ball of energy that hits the target. I like both of these, but would like to see a full background on the bonus animation.

Scion of Life

Cost: 12 pips | Effect: Heals 1315 health. | Bonus: IF the target has 25% or less health, heals 2630 health.

Wizard101 Level 125 Spells (Empyrea Part 2) Scion Tree Spells

Mechanics

The Life spell is the only one that isn't a single hit. I like big heals, but Life has a few of those already. Usually, a set of spells will include some AoEs, some heals, and other variations from school to school. In this case, they abandoned that concept in six out of seven cases, so why didn't Life also get an attack? I'd say the most comparable card here is Regenerate, which does over 1100 health worth of healing over three rounds, but that's only 5 pips. The 1315 health for 12 doesn't even come close!

Wizard101 Level 125 Spells (Empyrea Part 2) Scion Tree SpellsThe condition here is reasonable - if you're severely injured, you get more health. It's a 12-pip spell, so I'm not worried about these being spammed, although a nearly full health in a 1v1 match could be tough to deal with. However, although Regenerate is a HoT (heal over time spell), you get over 230 health per pip in healing. If you don't activate Scion of Life, it's total waste of pips, offering only about 110 health per pip in healing. But if you do, you still only get 219 health per pip and that's with a requirement, where Regenerate has none. In a card game that more heavily limits deck space, this spell might still be okay, but when we could just have a couple Regenerates and not worry about dipping below 25% health, it's not so great.

Life does a lot of healing and support, so it's not that Life doesn't need or want healing spells. However, this one isn't a particularly effective heal and it's really expensive. I think it would fit the Scion spells better to give Life an attack. If that's not going to be the case, the healing amount needs to increase.

Animations

The Scion of Life spell summons Blossom the Life tree. During the regular animation, a small bird flies off of Blossom and heals the target. During the bonus animation, rays of energy come together and fall down into a rainbow and heal the target. I like both of the animations here. I wouldn't mind a full background on the bonus heal. It looks to me like Blossom comes a little too far out of the ground. Some of the models, I think, looks better below the ground more like the tree in Ravenwood.

Updated Spell Card

Wizard101 Level 125 Spells (Empyrea Part 2) Scion Tree SpellsThe Life spell has been updated since we last examined it! The spell now does only 1200 healing, but if the condition is met, that healing is doubled, plus you get a 600 health heal-over-time effect on all allies. This pushes the spell closer toward what I'd like to see on these cards but further from all of the other Scion spells.

On one hand, your base heal is now worse. Given that the original full heal wasn't great when compared with other healing cards, this makes Scion of Life a really questionable inclusion in a deck. That said, the doubled amount now adds 600 to all allies, which makes the full effect a really solid spell. If Life is stuck with a heal and not an attack, this is about as good as it gets (that is to say, it's pretty darn good).

Side note: I missed it the first time, but this is a spell that also uses "HP" instead of the health symbol. The Death spell was updated, and I think this one could be, too. I think restoring 1200 health + 600 health if 25% health or less makes sense. No need to say "HP."

See Them in Action!

These spells are pretty cool. As I've explained, they have two different animations based on whether or not you meet the requirement for double damage. Blaze Lifehammer did a great video showcasing all the spell animations. Check it out below!


Final Thoughts

I love the theme of these new spells, and I love that they have two different animations. I also like that they're worked into the storyline this time. Our spells for some time now have been world-themed, but were typically side quests. I like that these are a direct part of our questing, and I hope we'll see more of it. There are a few that really need some tweaks, but I'm confident we'll see some changes.

Wizard101 Level 125 Spells (Empyrea Part 2) Scion Tree Spells

What do you think of the new spells?

Thanks for reading and see you in the Spiral!

Special thanks to these individuals for contributing card images: Iridian Willowglen, Fallon Fireblade, Cody Raventamer, Alexander Lionheart, and Mike Firehammer

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