Guide to Strategy:
Aggro, Mid-Range and Control
What is in a strategy, and what are the words we label these strategies as? While some may label them as “Banner” or “Angel”, there are specific terms in the gaming world that match the types of play styles you probably play whether you’re a Wizard or a Pirate. So what are those terms, where do they fit, and what defines them? Well, today we’ll be breaking that down in this guide to strategy! We’ll be looking at the strategies used from both a wizard101 and a pirate101 perspective.
What is a Strategy?
This may be a straightforward answer but a strategy is a plan. It’s the bread and butter of everything. When you take a test, you’re using a strategy to complete that test. That’s what you study in school, a strategy to answer A and B. In the gaming world strategies are the same, a plan you create to follow through with to reach your win condition.
A win condition is the overall goal that you need to achieve to put yourself in a position where you are ahead. This may be through simply killing the enemy Pirate or Wizard quickly. Or taking down a key companion or one shoting the enemy wizard. When you create a “Strategy” inside of it you create a main win condition. The difference between a good and a bad player is those who can have a strategy but adapt to the situation even when their original win condition fails. Adjusting to realize what moves or things to do to achieve the best overall outcome in the match is the win condition.
Control, sustain, and pressure are core material to learn when trying to create a successful strategy. The most universally accepted terminology for these are what we will discuss today, Aggro, Mid-range, and Control. The most exciting point about this guide is as a gamer this guide can help you adapt to almost every game you play, so if you’re an avid CCG player (which most end up being due to Wizard101 and Pirate101’s deck based style) this guide can be adapted to a multitude of games you play in the future.
These different type of strategies take different key mechanics in the game to create the win condition that you want to achieve. All of these strategies can be adjusted to match the current meta-game and your own personal preference of play styles. Do you like quick games? Aggro or pressure style strategies will be very pleasant to you. Like a game with back and forth style, major turns with a lot of action? Mid-range and sustain type strategies will most likely peak your interest. Or do you like a long and thoughtful match where every turn and power has a purpose of creating a game state where you can predict the future outcome of the match? Then control will definitely intrigue you!
What Type of Strategies Are There?
In any turn based game there are 3 different traditional terms used when labeling a strategy: aggro, mid-range and control strategies.
Aggro is pretty straight-forward and — for Wizard101 — the most common strategy in ranked at the moment. It is typically a strategy where you aim to kill your opponent before they kill you. Terms that fit the average aggro strategy would be things like “a run and gun”, and “glass cannon”. They normally run either a low ‘curve’ or cheap spells. In wizard101, people that use the aggro strategy traditionally have 2 pip, 4 pip, and Shadow Enhanced spells as their main spells.
On Pirates, players that utilize the aggro strategy typically rely on Buccaneer and Swashbuckler companions to charge across the board very quickly. That way, they can apply pressure, killing units very quickly to force you into a corner of no return.
- Quick Matches
- Normally has tempo
- Will ALWAYS lose if they fail to kill their opponent in a certain amount of time
- Heals are terrible
- Runs out of steam quickly if not cycling aggressively
- Requires luck in a lot of situations
This is a lesser known play style to KI games due to this strategy being easily confused in some cases as tanking/control or bad handed aggressive players. However, you will find that Mid-Range is actually quite common. You could be playing as one without knowing it!
Mid-Range relies on a nice mix of shields and hits. Mid-range strategy users don’t try to out-tank someone, but they don’t aim for OHKO’s either. Instead, they more or less try to fit in a mix of both defensive and aggressive elements. They are solely looking for opening hits occurring naturally. They don’t attempt to create these openings. On the contrary, they simply let nature of the match take its course. Every spell they play has an immediate impact on the course of the match.
You can tell if someone is playing a mid-range strategy when they rarely pass, while playing spells only if they have an immediate impact. This means they normally never stack shields for any reason. They rely on having a lot of the same type of shield to fend off future attacks. That way, they can start to switch the pressure onto you. All their attacks and spells have meaning; if that satyr or availing hands isn’t recovering them for the full amount, they will tank it out. Unless they know they will die in a route of play, they will try to take the tempo of the match, etc.
In Pirate101 normally Musketeer and Buccaneer are the closest to Mid-range as things get. Mid-range in Pirate101 is when you rely on setting up those big tempo based turns. One of the key strategies that are Mid-range right now is the “Goronado and Nausica” core. This relies on having the Angry Orchard summons from the fall champion weapon and the powerful offensive core of Goronado and Nausica. The goal is to find that opening to focus down and kill a unit before it gets any work done in the match. Any strategy that has an offensive core but isn’t full out rushing turn 1 or 2 are most likely Mid-range. If this is the case, try to find an opening to strike before the enemy can, or else they will most likely reach their win condition first.
- Has a lot of flexibility.
- Normally has smooth games and a lot of comeback mechanics.
- Balanced stats aimed at both being able to be aggressive and controlling when needed.
- Hard to navigate, because it requires knowledge of a lot of game mechanics. You also need an understanding of how to reach and adapt to a new win condition.
- Misplays and bad predictions can create very frustrating setbacks.
- Slow matches that give your opponent more time and flexibility if their play style requires it.
Control is a strategy commonly hated by the community. Control can famously be attached to strategies in Wizard101 such as:
- Any Jade
In Pirate101 it is very common to encounter the control strategy in this current meta. The strategy can infamously be linked to the majority of Privateer strategies, especially Wand Privy. Summon Witchdoctor is also a pretty popular one. This one is hated but actively played to this day. Due to the strong nature of minions and specifically the Fall Champion Tree’s, these strategies seemingly will never die out and only become stronger as the game continues.
So What Makes a “Control” Strategy?
When you’re using a control strategy, your win condition will most of the time be winning by not dying . “Well, that’s pretty obvious,” I hear you say. Let me explain. Control traditionally thrives on winning by out-surviving the opponent’s steam. They’re not looking for a quick kill, instead, they’re just making sure they don’t die. This can make for long matches.
A good example of the control strategy in wizard101 would be a Jade Juju. A Jade Juju will be trying to get to a position where his enemy has no pips. He will cast multiple Jujus, just to make sure the opponent doesn’t deal any damage. In addition, he will cast multiple feints and different traps on the opponent. The opponent can try to shield all he wants in this situation. Regardless, he will be stuck with a million infections and a high amount of Juju weaknesses stuck on him. Even if the Jade Juju only spams boosted ghouls that do only 200 a hit, his enemy won’t able to deal any damage. In addition, the opponent also won’t be healing off the entirety of a ghoul.
Therefore the Jade Juju will eventually kill the opponent due to the opponent’s inability to kill. As such, the control player has set up a situation where his enemy can not react and can not pressure.The Jade Juju is in perfect control, which is why it’s called a control strategy.
This also fits very well in Pirate101 with Staffy Privateer’s second win condition. Beyond their summons and First Mate’s Boon. This is in the combination of having the highest Max HP class in game with a load of forts and heals. This helps make Privateers extremely hard to kill and allowing them to slowly wither their enemies HP through the continued use of Soul Shroud.
Control also has the popular strategies of “Fatigue”/”Outlasting”. These rely on stalling out the match completely until the enemy has no reshuffles left. This strategy has become popular since the reshuffle change. While it isn’t very effective on Pirates, it is still possible to create a “Fatigue” like effect. For that, you can use Death Bargain’s Soul Shroud. The opponent will never be able to kill through basics hits. Because of that, they are forced to slowly maneuver into a position where they kill themselves through Soul Shroud.
- Easy to play – Straight forward win condition, survive.
- Very strong in the current state of both games.
- The opponent’s shields or health don’t matter.
- Doesn’t die if they misplay as long as the misplay isn’t too significant (e.g. forgetting to heal when in the kill range, which is around 40% HP for top level in wizard101).
- Long matches, very inefficient when wanting to rank high; can sometimes lead to needing to forfeit matches due to personal time constraints.
- Can have very “cloggy” hands.
- Have to know a large variety of each classes options, be able to put yourself into the enemies shoesand limit those options.
- Your opponent has a lot of time to figure out a way to react to your win condition and create a new one for themselves. You are reactive, and as such your opponent controls the tempo of the match. If you cannot react correctly or value and manage your spells/powers efficiently, you will lose terribly.
So Where Does My Class Fit?
Balance is traditionally a Mid-Range class, with their extensive mix of both offensive and controlling tools. While you can play a strategy for balance in both the controlling and aggressive styles, the best Balance sets will always be a mixture of both.
Balance has been the “top tier” or even the “god tier” class, while using the mid-range strategy. To control, they use Mana Burn, and Availing Hands help sustain them. Both of these make Balance almost impossible to kill. In addition, Balance has Loremaster to apply pressure. Loremaster has an immediate impact on the match, as it leaves both a weakness and an accuracy reduction. Balances don’t toss out Loremasters immediately on turn 1. They start by keeping their opponents pips down. Then surviving initial attacks to eventually swing the state of the match by spamming Loremaster and Scorpions. As such, they slowly wither their enemy down, while also using the weakness provided by Loremaster to keep them safe. This is the perfect example of a mid-range style strategy: it has the control, sustain and pressure when needed.
Storm is — yes — aggro. This is straight in line with the idea of what their class is about. Storms dish out very fast and aggressively powerful attacks for a cheap cost. They aim to kill you as fast as possible due to their low health. We commonly don’t see Storms as the top class due to RNG factors.
Storm can’t really play control at all due to the RNG factor alongside their low HP. Their only sustain — other than a mastery amulet of balance or life — is Healing Current. This is another spell with a huge RNG factor added into it. While Healing Current is a great addition to a midrange storm strategy, its inconsistency is where it falters. This is the reason why Storms are on average aggressive strategy users. Maybe one day Eric Stormbringer will cook up a plan that consistently wins matches while being a control variant storm… One day.
Ice is traditionally a Mid-Range styled class. They have no sustain in their school’s spells, but they have a high health buffer alongside the powerful Snow Drift tool. Ice has amazing control potential, but most control style ices will find that Life is their nemesis, as Gnomes can completely destroy them. If Ice chooses to use a Balance mastery, Life will quickly take advantage of their inability to heal by playing a lot more aggressively than normal. If Ice uses a Life mastery, Gnomes can put a stop to heals fairly easily. This back and forth feud between Ice and Life has only arisen with the popularity of Life skyrocketing due to the current state in the meta.
Aggressive Ices can exist but most of the time there is no reason to play Ice aggressively. While Ice has aggressive tools, they will easily end up in a mid-range style, as they all have a fairly high pips cost. The only real low pip costing spells out there for Ice are Snowbird, Articzilla, and Snow Serpent. However, two out of these three are TC. Because of this, their use is limited.
The most consistent way to play Ice will naturally fall under the Mid-range style of things. This is due to the cost of their spells and the way they are built, alongside with the issue Ices have with mastery amulets and healing.
Fire is traditionally on the boarder line between Aggro and Mid-Range. This is due to the way they were built and their arsenal of spells. Fire has the ability to do exactly what mid-range wants: sustain while pressuring the opponent. Link and Power Link are the 2 BEST SPELLS the game has ever seen, side by side with Guardian Spirit and Loremaster. Power Link does a great job at both sustaining and pressuring opponents.
Damage spikes for the aggro strategy are achieved with spells like FFA and Efreet. Brimstone and Krampus are low cost damage bursts for conservative pushes. In addition, Fire has the best bubble control in the game. This is threw a mixture of normally using bubble and Hephaestus. We’ve seen TC versions of hit+bubble spells for the longest time (e.g. White Rat Magician for Myth, Brown Spider for Life). Fire was given the first ever trained one, which has a lot more impact at top and mid lvl. Unlike with TCs, you can duplicate these trained spells by enchanting them, as well as increase their effectiveness.
Because of the reasons above, Fire will always fall under either Aggro or Mid-Range. You can either play the mid-range Fire style with Link and Power Link as your main spells, or the more offensive way of Fire Beetle and Fire From Above. However, it’s important to note that control style strategies are also possible for Fire. They have an amazing minion and can blade stack into OHKO’s. At this current state of the meta it isn’t as strong of an option as Aggro or Mid-Range.
Death is definitely a Mid-Range and Control based class. Like Life they have a load of impactful 4+ pip cards which really isn’t good enough to be Aggro. While you can play Aggro it’s just not as good as using your tools for a more conservative Mid-Range and Control approach. Juju is extremely powerful for Control. Using juju as a defensive tool while playing Mid-Range(you may pack a lot less than you would as a Jade Juju)is still very effective if you use it correctly. It forces immediate removal or your opponent could fall behind. If they do, it can help create the openings you want as a Mid-Range player for your Shadow Enhanced burst. Poison is an amazing tool for removing shields to again create these openings as a mid-range player while naturally chipping in damage.
Myth is also a more Mid-Ranged class like Fire, Ice and Balance but can easily sway towards the Control side of things as they rely on minions that are quite bulky like Talos to remove shields on the board, mixing this with a lot of blades for a very powerful and deadly King Artorius or Basilisk.
Though you could play the slow paced version of Myth the Mid-Range is exactly the same but more tempo based with 1-2 stacked Blades and dropping a big hit to force immediate reaction instead of doing 1 big hit hoping to OHKO .
Alongside the new Athena spell introduced Myth can finally play a lot more mid-range paced that the meta calls for as the shield allows Myth to pressure while staying a lot safer than they were before.
They can also use Talos in Mid-Range for the power of his stuns to remove stun blocks (leading to future Medusas that your opponent can’t react to especially if you’re first) as well as utilizing his stronger attacks like Minotaur and Frogs. The Golem minion definitely helps with this style of play as it creates openings and not many people bring shields specifically for Myth so it removes towers.
Life is the perfect example of Control. Yes, you can play life Mid-Range, and have some small potential to play Aggro, but Life shines at Control. You have the best spell to control in the game. If you remember, the win condition for control is not dying. Well, guardian spirit breaks those rules, allowing the life wizard to die only to recover. This is like 5 pips add on an additional +15% to your HP with a bit more via heal boost. The only drawback is that you give up your pips when you die. With your huge healing boost, you have a very effective comeback mechanism. You are forcing your opponent to be offensive at some point – or you will just never die. Even when you do, you can just recover.
As a Life wizard, you now have Wings of Fate as well at top lvl. This gives you the ability to play even more control while sticking to the style of not dying. As such, you avoid the previous issue of people easily being able to stack shields against life. These shields forced you to go into conservative playstyle when you are still reacting. Wings of Fate can now help you get rid of these shields.
Weaver also allows life on the mid-range style of things to push forward with nice burst potential alongside a weakness for protection. These can stack depending on their enchant form. Your opponent will have to spend turns not only recovering from the damage but also removing the debuffs, comparable to Loremaster. If the opponent falls behind for even 2 or more turns you can quickly take control of the game and stabilize. This will ultimately allow you to push ahead with Infections and protection so you can wither away your opponent.
Musketeer is a Midrange or Control focused class. They switch up their strategy depending on the enemy they are faced with. They can control with multiple Valor’s Absorb pieces of gear and with a mixture of revive Bazaar gear. Musketeer’s bombs allow for both aggressive and defensive move to help push towards a win condition or slow down your enemies to help them create a new window of opportunity.
Privateer is generally Midrange or Control. The early rounds of the game are usually control: using Big Gun’s and long lasting buffs to help prepare for the enemies charge. However, Privateer can quickly switch to offense if the match calls for it. With companions like Goronado and Nausica alongside First Mate’s Boon going offensive is easy. This gives Privateers huge mid-range potential.
Privateers can prevent their natural Repel Boarders from creating infuriating situations and control the match. For that, they use their high health buffer. They also use a Wand (Nefarious Staff or Fall Champion Weapon). With Soul Shroud mixed in, Privateer’s can stall out the enemies resources with a variety of heals and Valor’s Fortress’.
Buccaneer is a straight forward Aggro or Mid-Range class. They can abuse their high haste movement powers like Highland’s Charge and Vicious Charge. These powers help get their Pirate and team across the board quickly. This instantly creates pressure.
Adding in the Fall Champion weapon and a few revives Buccaneers can play the more mid-range approach. For this they create massive tempo turns by focusing down and ensuring a kill on priority targets. Using the heals, Buccaneers can also drag out games. They can force the enemy to reset Turn the Tide to help keep applying pressure throughout the match (without having to worry about dying either).
Swashbucklers are by far the most diverse class. They have the potential to play ANY of the 3 strategies. They have the ability to go super Aggro. With Black Fog on high haste units they can cross the board and apply pressure instantly. Swashbucklers can also play Mid-Range. As such, they focus on taking down core units and buffing before charging in.
They can even play Control abusing their long duration Hides to time out the enemies protection. In addition they use Poisons to chip away at the enemy’s HP. Int he late game, they OHKO enemies or punish them for being greedy and not using protection by using a x2 Hidden Assassin Strike.
The possibilities are endless and there really isn’t a “best way to play” for Swashbucklers. It is mostly adapting to the match up and the opponent’s play style. Swashbucklers push towards whatever win condition is available to them, using their vast amount powerful options.
Witchdoctor is currently in a terrible position as they are forced to only play Control. Due to the Witch Hunter change, they find themselves extremely weak and vulnerable to any pressure. Because of this, they can only play Control. They use summons to help push back the enemy with a wall of minions. In addition they use their long ranged attacks to chip away at the enemy team. However, the summons only survive a short period of time. Thus, witchdoctors automatically lose to any mid-range strategy that has any sort of sustain to outlast the summons.
Witchdoctor on the control matchups has insane power. Mojo Storm and Drains allow them to punish the enemy for using summons and also use the Goronado and Nausica core to take down annoying units quickly. Witchdoctor will always win the Control match-ups but they will definitely fall flat vs any other strategy sadly. Control is definitely the only way to approach the class right now.
There you have it! A Guide to the Core Strategies Available in each Game. Let us Know in the Comments Below