The Resource War and Its Complications
One of my favorite Kingsisle game related articles that I’ve ever written is this one right here. In it, I discuss some of the major non-mechanical differences between Wizard101 and Pirate101 PvP. I also discuss how those differences manifest themselves in gameplay and contribute to the overall metagame, using two of Magic the Gathering’s premiere competitive formats as a backdrop. It culminates in a sales pitch to try Pirate101 PvP due to its slower pace and emphasis on interaction.
One of the main points I mention in the article is the concept of the resource war in Pirate101 PvP. This concept represents one of the biggest deviations from Wizard101 PvP and creates a challenge for the Wizard101 PvPer that attempts to transition between the two games. In this article, I’d like to discuss the resource war in a bit more depth and exactly why it causes a difficult transition.
Table of Contents
- The Resource War
- Threats and Answers
- The Resource War in Wizard101?
- Difficulties in Transition
I mentioned the resource war earlier in this piece. You may wonder: What is the resource war? Before answering this question, one must look at how spells/powers function in each of KI’s two MMOs. In Wizard101, training a spell means you have access to as many copies of it as your deck allows you to hold. Obtaining a spell in item card form gives you only one copy of that spell in your deck (more in some cases, but that’s beside the point).
In Pirate101, training a “spell” (called a power) gives you only one copy of that power. Pieces of gear that have powers also only give you one copy of that power. One important result of this difference is that Pirate101 gear focuses on power grants rather than on stat buffs. This stems from the fact that trained powers are not enough to compete with on their own. You only have one copy of each, so the ones you train with practice points or from your class’s trainer are few and far between. The more relevant result to this article is the idea that in Pirate101, all resources are finite.
The Resource War in Practice
The resource war follows directly from this idea. Since resources are finite, it is a viable (and often very powerful) strategy to deny your opponent optimal use of their resources. The major goal of Pirate101 PvP is to force your opponent to consume their resources more rapidly or less efficiently than you do. This manifests itself in a variety of ways. For instance, a player may run away from an opponent to “time out” their protection or stat buffs. They may also pressure an opponent with their pirate or companions and force them to use defensive resources prematurely. The person who has used fewer powers in a more optimal way is said to be “ahead” in the resource war, and the player who has used more powers in a less optimal way is said to be “behind.”
Oftentimes, matches between evenly matched players will end with both players nearly out of powers. The victor will generally be the one with more relevant powers remaining, or, the winner of the resource war. You may raise the question: Does Wizard101 PvP have a similar concept?
One way of looking at the Wizard101 PvP meta is through the lens of threats and answers. A “threat” is generally some sort of offensively focused move, such as a lore spell, a shadow enhanced attack, or Shadow Shrike. An “answer” is a defensive response to the aforementioned threat. For instance, shields, heals, and defensive auras like Brace are answers. In Wizard101, threats are stronger than answers, as a general rule. This stems from stats that skew heavily towards offense (most builds feature 100+ damage and at least 30 armor pierce) and ultra-efficient attacks like Loremaster.
Let’s take a closer look at the “answers” available to players. The most commonly used and universally available answers are shields. In the past, shields (or weaknesses) would be answered in a 1 for 1 manner. An opponent would generally use a wand hit or a low damage DoT to break the shield. Outside of breaking the shield, the wand user didn’t advance their gameplan any further. Both players spent one round, meaning this exchange was tempo neutral.
Slowly but surely, more efficient shield breaking attacks gained popularity and notoriety. Now, a spell like Fire Beetle, Ice Bird, or Luminous Weaver both breaks a shield AND further advances your gameplan by buffing your attacks or debuffing your opponent. In addition, it often takes 6-8 pips of heals to counteract 4-5 pips worth of attacks.
This is a losing gameplan. Thus, defensive options are being answered on a 2 for 1 basis, as your opponent is both breaking your shield and furthering their gameplan. Having your spell answered in a 2 for 1 manner feels very bad. This further tilts the axis towards threats, as answers can be responded to in a manner that is more efficient than answer itself.
Threats and Answers in Pirate101
Pirate101 however, has equally balanced threats and answers. Attacks (or the threat thereof) such as Assassin’s Strike can be responded to by using shields or heals. An opponent that employs stat buffs to increase their chain chance can be hit with an accuracy reducing charge. In the first scenario, an opponent may respond to your decision to shield or heal by running away, thereby timing out your buff. These sort of threat and answer exchanges are almost entirely done on a 1 for 1 basis.
Being able to answer threats (or respond to answers) in a 1 for 1 manner also gives rise to the resource war. Since threats and answers are on an even footing, it’s often better to respond to your opponent’s threats than continuously push your own gameplan. You won’t often be 2 for 1’ed, so an answer is often the most efficient way to allocate your resources. Furthermore, since threats and answers match up so evenly, matches can often come down to the last card. This isn’t the case in an environment that is heavily skewed towards powerful threats.
The resource war does not exist in Wizard101, and this fact makes it difficult for current Wizard101 players to transition effectively. Why do I argue this? Let’s take a look. In Pirate101, all resources are finite. Is the same true in Wizard101? As I’ve noted before, the Wizard101 metagame is heavily skewed towards aggressive, offensive builds. As a result, matches are often very quick. Furthermore, large deck sizes mean that more resources (attacks, shields, heals, etc) can be brought to every duel than you will realistically need. In Pirate101, players will often count their opponent’s shields, heals, and attacks to know how many more they must play around.
In most Wizard101 matches, this would be a ridiculous practice.
- Your opponent has more attacks than you can feasibly survive (of course, there are exceptions that I’ll discuss later on). Counting them and attempting to answer each one isn’t going to work since they’re so much more efficient than any of your answers. You’ll just get 2 for 1’ed while your opponent furthers their own gameplan. Then you lose due to how far behind you are in tempo.
- Reshuffle is a thing. For each reshuffle you have, you add another full set of resources that you have in your main deck. There’s no running an opponent out of powers as there would be in Pirate101.
- Decklists are not “stock”(the same across multiple players). Even if it was a good idea to count each spell, it’s impossible to tell how many an opponent has ahead of time (unless you know what their deck compilation is). Furthermore, it’s very common to discard cards, given that you have so many more than you’ll need. The same isn’t true in Pirate101. Most powers are valuable and discarding (particularly discarding aggressively) is just throwing away resources
We’ve established that there’s no sort of spell-based resource war. You essentially have an infinite amount of resources with which to kill your opponent. However, there are a few areas where players must efficiently allocate resources. The first is obvious: health. You have to manage your wizard’s health. duh. The second, and maybe more interesting, is pips. Having more pips opens up more lines of play. However, pips are not finite in the way that Pirate101 powers are, as you get a pip every round. Thus, the only fully finite resource the a Wizard101 PvPer must consistently manage is their health (and to an extent, pips).
The exception: Angels
Earlier, I noted that there was an exception to the fact that an opponent would always have more attacks than you can feasibly survive. This exception is the Angel build (and the now defunct juju spam strategy). You know what can answer any threat efficiently? A 4 pip Satyr healing for a few thousand hp. In this sort of matchup, your opponent can and will be able to survive all your attacks. Thus, you must be able to efficiently allocate and keep track of your attacks. You can’t just blindly throw attacks at them and hope something sticks. You’ll eventually run out of attacks, or be forced to waste multiple rounds getting the pips to reshuffle. This means that even if you’re never going to touch Pirate101 PvP, it’s worthwhile to understand this sort of thing. It’s still applicable.
The resource war is likely to be an entirely foreign concept to a new Pirate101 PvPer coming from Wizard101 (it certainly was for me). For instance, when I first started PvP, I was solely focused on blindly advancing my own gameplan. It worked in Wiz, so it should work in Pirate, right? Since I had no clue what my opponent’s gameplan was, I couldn’t efficiently answer the threats they planned to send at me. I only cared about their responses to the extent that it blocked me from doing what I wanted to do.
This line of thinking is also common to any new Pirate101 PvPer, even if they haven’t come from Wizard101. Most PvE battles require vastly fewer resources than you have access to, so many players think that they can use their powers recklessly in PvP, as they have in PvE. This obviously will not work
I eventually realized that I could (and should) allocate my resources more efficiently. Instead of blindly swinging into Valor’s Fortresses, I could attempt to time them out. The threat of my attacking was enough to force an opponent to waste resources, so why actually attack into them? They’ll eventually run out, at which point, I win!
So, what sort of advice would I give to the new Pirate101 PvPer that transitioned from Wizard101?
- Know what powers you have. You don’t have a seemingly infinite amount of attacks. You can’t just use them whenever you feel like, as you’ll run out. Keep tabs of how many powers you have remaining at all times
- Know what your opponent can do. You should also keep tabs of what resources your opponent has used and how many they’re likely to have left (I say likely because you may be going in blind if you don’t know your opponent). This is more difficult than it would be in Wizard101. Each class has vastly different powers and methods of attack in Pirate101. The most conventional methods of attack in Wizard101 are largely similar (ultra-efficient attacks with extra defensive utility). Doing both 1 and 2 at once is difficult. Some people like to write it down, some people can keep track mentally. Just don’t lose track of where you stand in the resource war.
- Passing is ok. In Wizard101, passing is a taboo. Since you have essentially infinite resources, there’s often no reason to not do something every turn. This isn’t the case in Pirate. It’s completely fine, and often the right call to just pass or run away. Why let an opponent use their resources optimally if you can help it? If your opponent is protected, you may not want to use a powerful attack. Once it’s gone, it’s gone, and allowing its damage to be reduced can be wasteful.
On the other hand, the transition from Pirate to Wizard also has complications. They stem from an overemphasis on resource advantage. If the new Wizard101 players assumes that 1 for 1 trades are frequent, they’ll find themselves getting 2 for 1’ed and dying terribly. (But hey, you did a great job at counting your opponent’s hits!) Another point of difficult comes in discarding. Discarding, particularly discarding aggressively, in Pirate101 is a bad idea as I noted before. However, discarding is essential to Wizard101. A pirate player not used to having to consistently discard (often doing so aggressively) will often have very weak hands and find themselves in a sticky situation.
Playing to your ‘outs’
What do you do if you’re far behind in resources and seem unlikely to win? One option is called playing to your outs. Your “outs” are events that allow you to win the game. They can included getting long chains, top-decking a certain power, or getting a pet or summon to attack a certain barricade and do just enough damage to kill it allowing your pirate to run through and ohko the opponent. These “outs” are often entirely dependent on rng and relying on them isn’t generally the best idea. However, there can be times when the most realistic chance you have to win requires playing to these outs. You may have to make moves that are unconventional, or even bad in a vacuum, but should they pay off, a path to victory will open up that wasn’t there before
This is something that’s applicable to both games, but I’ve found it to be particularly helpful in Pirate101. To show my point, I’m going to use a somewhat recent example. I was in a swashbuckler mirror match, at fairly low health with a heal-blocking DoT on my character. In my hand I had a damage blocking absorb, a couple of unusable heals, and a few attacks. I knew my opponent could and would use their in-hand Purge Magic to remove my absorb should I use it. At that point, I would be as good as dead.
That couldn’t be the optimal choice, could it? Instead, I could just run away, defend myself, use my heal, then protect myself. However, taking that line would mean that I’d be playing the rest of the match from behind. I would be unlikely to win. Taking that line exemplifies playing not to lose (very different than playing to win). That line is the smarter play in a vacuum and won’t cause me to lose immediately. However, it probably won’t result in a victory.
Instead, I took the seemingly dumber line. I played into my opponent’s purge. However, I knew that his purge would trigger my witch hunter. If the ensuing chain did a few hundred points of damage to him (probably ~2 hits), I could use an assassin, probably kill him, and then probably survive his living companion’s last guaranteed attack. That’s a lot of places for things to go horribly wrong. However, should all of those things happen, I would win.
This is called playing to your outs. Sometimes, if you’re behind (particularly in the resource war), it’s better to take the more volatile play rather than the play that extends the match, but doesn’t increase your odds of winning. I won that match, by the way. I played in a way that assumed everything would go my way, and it paid off. I’ve had other times where it doesn’t pay off.
Making the transition between Wizard101 and Pirate101 PvP is going to be difficult for many of today’s players. Wizard101’s meta is one that doesn’t require careful management of all resources. This is due to the efficiency of threats (and offensive stats) in comparison to the volume of threats one can carry. Mistiming an attack may not be game-deciding; you’ll have many more copies of that same attack. However, in Pirate101 all resources are finite and must be allocated effectively. Using even a single attack, shield, or heal prematurely will have negative ramifications going forward, as you don’t have the buffer of essentially infinite powers.
This careful management of resources is known as the resource war. Each player strives to use their resources more efficiently (oftentimes, this means more slowly) than their opponent. This means that a player must keep careful tabs on both their and their opponent’s available resources. Thus, a player is required to know available powers and a general gameplan for each class. If you happen to fall behind in the resource war in Pirate101, victory will be difficult. Thus, you may have to take unconventional or risky lines that have high risk and high reward, hoping that a specific scenario will play out that allow you to get back into the game. Making these decisions is called playing to your outs.
All of this may sound overwhelming, and to be fair, it kind of is. However, should you give Pirate101 PvP a try (or if you’re someone struggling with it now), there is a community full of great and helpful individuals. They’re all happy to help new players learn. I hope to see you in the Spar Chamber and Brawling Hall!
I hope this article shed further light into the resource war!
If you have questions or feedback, let me know in the comments below.