More W101 On Tap

I am still happily playing the ultra-casual Wizard 101 MMO as my mainstay.  I wanted to follow-up from my earlier thoughts.  Currently my level 20 Storm wizard is right in the middle of the Kroktopia setting.  I think I have spent about $20 on crowns, using them just to buy the content zones.  The difficulty in gameplay increased somewhat as now I am fighting two creatures per battle.  I do actually have to time some pulls so that I can fight one mob for a few turns before the other comes to join it.  The battles are still quite fun, but mostly soloing, I do have to be more careful of my tactics.

All the benefits of my earlier post are still shining strongly, but by far the best is the “public quest”-like nature of the entire game.  I have become extremely accepting of hopping in to others’ battles and them hopping in to mine.  It’s such a nice change from “it’s mine, I tagged it”-style gameplay.  Granted there are some downsides like the possibility of a player joining, adding mobs, and then running away.  However, I have not experienced any form of griefing yet.  I do hope that future “AAA” MMOs have a similar shared experience with questing and mob killing… all the time.  The sense of a shared goal, even when soloing, is empowering.  No longer am I looking at other players with a Gollum-like sneer hoping they don’t ask me to help with their quest I have finished ages ago.

Another thing that really surprises me is my newfound love for barbie-dolling my home.  My wife thinks this is absolutely hilarious.  But, I am a boss farming maniac just to get an eyeball in a jar or a cyclops statue.  Right now I have been saving like Scrooge in order to get the big Kroktopia home.  I haven’t played the test server, and I am unsure as to whether the new Bazaar will allow market trade of home items.  If anyone knows, I would like your thoughts on the Bazaar.

I did have one big problem.  I did not understand how to use treasure cards or discards.  I do now, and my A-game has skyrocketed.  Before that there were plenty of matches where my hand was horribly skewed to cards I did not need, and unbeknownst to me, I could have discarded the whole lot.  I think KingsIsle should consider putting in a short quest to teach these two pretty critical mechanics.  Maybe I just completely missed the teacher popup tell me what to do.  I have seen from the forums that players were having trouble figuring out how to trash some treasure cards they didn’t want.

Anyway, I think I have figured out most the mechanics (except initiative), and I am fairly certain that this is going to remain my main MMO through the hot summer nights.

there, your body matches your brain

15 thoughts on “More W101 On Tap”

  1. I play W101 on and off .. I didn’t know the bosses dropped house decorations. Sounds like I’m going to have to see if I can get some. :)

  2. Thanks Ravious, what a great list! Guess I have to pay closer attention to the official forums.

  3. I’ve got much love for Wizard101 as well. Given all the constraints on my time it’s the perfect game for me right now. (I couldn’t get attached to Free Realms for whatever reason.) I played briefly just after release and just returned a week or so ago.

    Various thoughts:

    I do wish they had some sort of grouping mechanism, if only for instances. If your friends haven’t gotten the same quest yet they can’t join you in an instance. This hampers the family play experience a bit.

    I’m still trying to figure out how aggro works in the game. I’m sometimes reluctant to join in an existing fight because I don’t want to bring another critter down on someone who’s about to get knocked out, but it seems like adds attack the person who added them. Plus I have a Taunt spell that never seems to work. This is probably a RTFM situation.

    Seconded about the treasure card/discard business — I’ve never tried to figure out exactly how to work that to my advantage, and I probably should.

    Some people like achievements; some like badges. I love house decorations. The addition of such to the game is squeeful. I’ve just starting dinking with it. Sadly, nothing I have seems to want to fit in my room right now… probably a RTFM situation.

  4. @Sok: When you buy, I believe, any new home they give you an outside. So not only can you decorate the inside of your house, but you have a whole yard to put statues, pillars, etc. in.

  5. I’m still saving up for a Marleybone home. I’m a sucker for that world. (I’ve only spent $30 on Access Passes, though, so I only have access to half of that world… but it’s still great.) W101 is such a great game with smart design and business decisions… I really do wish them well and hope more people try it out. It won’t fit everyone, but there’s a lot there to like.

    I’m definitely a fan of the turn-based combat and the tactical considerations. Fights with more than one bad guy are indeed interesting, and careful timing on pulling can indeed make the difference between beating up on one baddie or getting beat on by two, at least for a critical turn or two.

    …and I do love the sidewalks. It’s a bit different in Marleybone, since the center of the road is the safe zone, and it’s a bit tighter, but still, that such aggro-free areas exist is a great boon.

    I do wish I understood initiative, though. As far as I can tell, it’s random, but there’s some part of me that rebels at that notion, both because I *want* to find a pattern, and because initiative can often make the difference in a tight fight.

  6. I downloaded W101 a couple of months back, not expecting much, and Mrs Bhagpuss and I immediately spent a month solid playing it. We got to Dragonspyre and then took a break but we will be back for Grizzleheim.

    In my opinion, after Krokotopia you can barely call it Casual, let alone ultra-casual. The fights get very, very long and so do the quest lines. Marleybone has some fairly challenging travel to, when the cats zig-zag and move at double speed, so edging along the sides no longer walks. (Going down the middle of the road does, sometimes).

    Mooshu might be a tad easier – the layouts are more open at least – but it’s still a very far cry from Wizard City. And Dragonspyre we found really required too much concentration for a “fun” game. Certainly more concentration than just about anything in EQ2 for example, and more than much of the regular content in many MMOs we’ve played.

    It was really noticeable how the population dropped World by World. Wizard City is heaving all the time (hardly surprising as that’s where all the free content is) and there wasn’t much of an obvious population drop by Krokotopia. Marleybone was significantly lighter, and, almost certainly as a result of the definite step up in difficulty in Marleybone, Mooshu was pretty quiet. I got the feeling a lot of players had dropped out at that point.

    As for the other people hopping into our battles, both Mrs b and I bloody loathed it. I think its a terrible design feature since it compounds what is already the game’s most offputting feature – the inordinate length of the fights. In Marleybone it was not at all unusual for as ingle “trash mob” fight to last 20 minutes and to get one quest done you might need 8 or 10 of those, plus any adds you were unable to avoid, so the very last thing you want to see is another wizard jumping in and bringing YET ANOTHER thing to kill. That was the best part of Mooshu – everyone who’d got that far took great trouble to stay clear of each other’s fights.

    Anyway, it’s a really fun game overall and the housing is great. I hadn’t heard about the Bazaar but that’s one thing it definitely needs, although how that will play with the real target audience of tweens and their parents I’m not so sure. Looking forward to coming back when Grizzleheim goes live.

  7. That’s offputting… I wonder if that is indeed the reason they are making Grizzleheim a sidelong world instead of post-dragonspyre. 20 minute trash mob fights is nothing like what I am experiencing now… so again, it really sounds like they turned some corner really hard and fast and never looked back.

    Oh well, Krokland is fun, and I’ll get there when I get there. ;)

  8. I’m a huge fan of Wizard 101 as well. Just made it to Marlybone, the uptick in difficulty is a bit daunting. I love the aesthetics however. I can see where if you are already running in a group of two most of the time you really wouldn’t want any “help.” However, for the most part I think the open grouping mechanic is great. I also like how if anyone you know is on you can teleport straight to them and help out with whatever they are doing.

    And yeah, I agree totally with Ravious. “Playing Barbie” with your house is oddly addictive. Since most of the objects in my house came from quests and bosses, I feel like it’s a museum of my achievements.

  9. Decorating your home is always fun. It’s even better when you actually have a reason to spend a little time in there, and for folks to visit.

  10. I’ve recently started up again with Wizard101 – I tried it in beta and liked it but got sidetracked by other games – now that I’m in a lull with all my AAA titles I’m really enjoying W101 – it’s light, refreshing, and fun. I don’t like the sound of 20 minute trash battles, though!

  11. Having spent some more time in Marlybone, I’m just not seeing 20 minute trash battles. Maybe the fact that my main school is Myth has something to do with it. However the fights are really only a bit longer than what was the norm in Krockotopia as long as I’m in a solo fight (i.e., me versus two guys).

    What has changed is that it’s a lot trickier to avoid fights that you don’t want. The movement patterns of mobs are very different. I find it equal parts refreshing and frustrating. I guess I really shouldn’t have expected to play all the way to the cap running around on sidewalks :-P

  12. Edit: another thing that has changed is that colors are much more mixed up. In Krokotopia and the starter world you could carry a round a wand of whatever school foes were weak to in your area and get nice bonus damage on your “free” hits (at least versus most opponents). That’s not really possible any more. In boss fights you might see any school. And even trash mobs are a mix of three schools in the area I’m working (Balance, Myth, Frost). I’m debating adding in a bunch of cards into my deck that would let me turn my Myth damage into Balance.

    This is also making Balance look like a much more attractive main school.

  13. First, I’d like to thank Ravious for getting me interested in this game. I has sucked up quite a bit of hours from me in the past day. I’ve even subscribed. Before I get to my opinion, though, I’d like to point out something from Sok.

    I made a “friend” earlier today in the game. We both did a boss quest together. I got to the point where I couldn’t do anymore quests on the trial, so I went and subscribed. This guy likes to grind bosses for drops because he can’t really do anything else on his trial account. There I am questing and I get to another tower/instance quest in Olde Town and I go in with 3 other players. I then notice my friend teleports in and starts helping out as well.

    So you can, in fact (at least in this situation), have help from friends who have not reached the same quest as you. All they seem to have to do is click teleport to friend from the friends list once you are inside an instance. The only downside I see is that you cannot really control who is going in. Lets say you want to reserve a spot for your friend who has to teleport in…well, you really can’t. You just gotta hope no more than 3 people join, and even then, someone’s other friend may join.

    Next up are my concerns with the game…

    For starters, the classes feel like they take a while to grow into their own. I’d say they start to branch off at around 8. It would have been nice for the classes to start out more unique rather than having everyone start with a wand that gives you several different elements of monsters and just have you spam 1 pip creatures over and over. It’s boring and makes creating a new class tedious.

    The next thing is linked with the above…class variation is definitely there, but every class feels sort of “samey” with minute differences (mostly in numbers on the cards). What I mean by that is that most of the variation is passive. My ice cards might do 50-100 less damage than a storm guy’s cards, but they essentially do the same thing, just in varying degrees. The pay-off is I have tons of HP, which is yet another passive difference, one that plays little in how my class FEELS. The classes all seem to progress in the same fashion. You go from your 1 pip creature, to your two pip, to your trap, to your shield, etc etc. The only one that really seems unique in terms of spell types is Life. I would like to see more variation in the classes in terms of spell types, not just the numbers on the cards.

    Next up…repetition. Perhaps it’s just wizard city, but fighting the enemies here gets really boring. Very little strategy is used. I put up my trap on the enemy or use a wand spell, depending on what I draw, and then use a two pip creature (or three if I get a power pip) on the second turn. If it’s not dead yet, I’ll throw in another attack spell next turn. And looking at my future spells for Ice, I can’t really say my strategy is going to change much.

    Harder fights with multiple enemies and players are a little more fun and require a bit of organization if you wish to be efficient. Unfortunately, the difficult to use chat system and time limit (both of which I recognize as necessities in this game, no complaints) make communicating a bit difficult. Random fights with strangers often end up in whoever attacking whatever they want. I’ll often completely waste a turn because I was targeting the same enemy someone else was and they killed it before my turn was up. It would be nice to have some sort of brief 5-10 second “do you wish to change your target” period if your turn gets wasted like that.

    And while large fights are more fun, it isn’t helped by the highly tedious spell animations. They’re great. They’re one of the things that stood out most to me right off the bat when starting the game. The problem is, I’ve seen them about a hundred times now. Do I really need to see the same 10 second animation every time? I don’t see any easy fix for this, but one thing I could suggest to alleviate the tedium is to get rid of the “conjuration” animation and make it shorter as well as making the actual appearance of each creature faster so that we can see the attack and get on with it already.

    And I know some may be thinking, “This is a kid/family game. They won’t really care.” I personally disagree. I remember as a kid playing Pokemon, I used to get really annoyed by all the repetition. Yes, this is the poke center! Yes, I want to heal my pokemon! Yes, place each pokeball one at a time and play that stupid music! Yes, my pokemon are in perfect condition! Thank you…for the millionth time. Heck, I used to hate using confusion in Pokemon because of how annoying it was. Every turn you see, “Pokemon is confused.” *brief wait while birds chirp around pokemon’s head* “Pokemon hurt itself in confusion!” Even kids hate tedium.

    I’m holding off any permanent opinions until I get off wizard city (almost done). Unfortunately, according to my spell list on the wikia, I don’t see my gameplay changing much. I was hoping the game would flesh out more and become more strategical. Right now I’m on the fence. It’s a fun game and I applaud them for trying to legitly get a younger audience interested in MMO gaming. I just hope at the same time that they don’t underestimate the “of all ages” potential this game has and make it virtually undesirable to play from an older audience. Right now I see the devs are willing to make quick changes to the game, and I hope that perfect balance between kid and adult friendly is met without leaving one or the other too frustrated.

  14. Oh, and in regards to treasure cards. You can also opt out of drawing one but still discard cards in order to draw MORE cards next round. The game seems to always keep you at 7 cards in your hand every round. I find this more useful to get rid of cards I don’t need in hopes of getting some I do, rather than wasting valuable consumables. Of course, treasure cards are nice in a bind when you need a good card that turn, which is why I like to save them for emergencies.

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