“Justice may be blind, but sorcerers aren’t.”
It’s Mismagically back with the 4th article installment in the Battle Frontier series – the school of Balance! I know I was supposed to keep up with these every week, but my group of 2nd graders don’t advocate for a “balanced” lifestyle, and steal all my attention, aha! Let us get started with the journey into the school of Balance.
Tipping the Scales #1:
Power Nova vs. Ra?
I remember when Ra first came out, how I thought it was the most useless spell ever made. Only a little more powerful then Power Nova, costs that extra pip, and doesn’t AOE debuff an entire team all in one felled swoop. I thought it was trash, and I was basically all about #teamPowerNova all day. Then several worlds came out since then, and gear choices began to change rapidly. Several worlds later, I’ve actually changed my blind faith in Power Nova, in favor of the amazing power spike you get from criticals coming off of Ra, which can lead to some KO’s that Power Nova cannot ever achieve (since its damage is fixed). How can you combat these spells? Let’s have a look at some strategies.
- Use weaknesses like you would against any hitter: Balance wizards in particular despise Weaknesses, since their buffs are universal and thus cannot be maintained against a universal debuff (which weaknesses are). Probably the cheapest (in terms of pips) and the easiest way to ruin both of these spells.
- Use Tower shields: Unfortunately, only one kind of shield stops balance wizards in their tracks – the Tower shield family – and the bad part is that anyone can remove a tower shield with another attack before a balance even steps up to attacking you. I recommend the shields to be used only if you can’t use weakness of some sort.
- Use a Dispel: Unbalance, the balance dispel, as the name implies, will knock them off balance and make these spells (if they cast them during the same round) fizzle. If you’re keeping up with my tips, then you know that watching pips is a fundamental PvP skill, so you should already be timing those dispels whenever they get to the 6-8 pip range.
Tipping the Scales #2:
The New Playthings
The Avalon update provided a huge turning point for the school of Balance. They gained access to 2 very important elimination effects: The elimination of an opposing aura, and the elimination of an opponent’s pips. These were both highly controversial spells at the time, especially Mana Burn, since before then, the only way any pips were removed from an opponent with penalty was due to the dispel mechanics. A few key combos I’ve noticed (and executed, hehe) are Stun + Burn & Dispel + Burn; both are great against jades/healers to take them out of business for a round and then set them back a few rounds trying to recover from the pip loss. Another facet of these new spells comes with the use of Supernova, which can be enchanted like any other offensive spell. It’s also the only balance spell with 60% accuracy. For such a powerful effect, and at a low cost at that, it makes a lot of sense. However, there’s a way to make this spell unstoppable. Quite literally, enchanting this spell with Unstoppable will give it a hardy 30% accuracy boost (which with most current gear will make this potentially 100%) and a 15% pierce boost! Whether you enchant it with Unstoppable or Gargantuan is completely based on play style. If you like the utility to remove auras, I’d recommend using Unstoppable so the fizzle chance is virtually non-existent. If you like having access to potentially snipe-worthy KO’s, happily slap garg onto this spell and cross your fingers. With critical applied, I’ve seen a Supernova hit sometimes in the realm of over 2500 damage all for 2 pips! Let’s look at some ways that we can counter these manipulative spells.
- As always, watch pips, especially when it comes to Mana Burn: The difference is, you’ll need to watch your own pips as well. If you’ve been under some heavy duty smoke spamming from the opposing team, odds are you’ll have a nice rack of pretty gold pips that are just begging to be Mana Burned away, all while taking a chunk out of your health. Mana Burn loses a lot of utility from second as most people won’t risk you using the pips in the same round, but as I mentioned earlier, look out for stun + burn, and dispel + burn combos which excel from second.
- Watch your aura usage, try not to combine aura usage with Shrike: I wouldn’t say never use any auras the moment you see an opposing balance – that would be far too extreme given the versatility and usefulness that aura effects bring to the caster(s). However, don’t heavily rely on auras, like casting one the second another one expires. That way, you give yourself some breathing room instead of getting aura popped every round. I’d also try not to combine auras with Shadow Shrike, since Shrike reduces your incoming heal amount and your aura getting popped is really cheap in pips, which sets you up for being killed, unless you have a really hardy resistance. I personally love the pet talent MC Infallible and no amount of Sorcerers will ever get me to stop loving it. 😛
- For both Mana Burn and Supernova, deprive them of their resources: The ultimate way to beat both of these spells? Deprive them of their needs. Mana Burn fails if the target has no pips (and if you only have a few, the damage is pretty negligible), and Supernova fails if the target doesn’t have an aura active currently, so not having the resources for these spells to function causes a loss in pips for the caster(s) of these spells. Use low cost spells, don’t spend a lot of time buffing, rely on your natural gear stats (as opposed to relying on boosted stats or supplemental stats from auras often), and fight these spells right back!
Tipping the Scales #3:
The power to “Defuse” any situation
The Pre-Avalon era of utility spells included balance getting these nifty tools as early as level 35! That’s right, midway through Magus, balance wizards could spend 5 pips to dispel a trio of schools of their choosing. They get the choice between the elemental schools, and the spirit schools. At 5 pips, they are basically getting 1 dispel at half off, since dispels cost 2 pips a piece. Now, you might look at the pip cost and say “no way, too expensive, etc.” However, I think the jade balance variant loves these spells, especially the Spirit Defuses, since they shut down any other significant attempts at utility usage. Nowadays, we start matches with 4-7 pips depending on gear choices and turn order, so casting one of these within the first few rounds is a great way to swing some tempo in your favor. How can you combat this potentially crippling duo from ruining your fun?
- Watch pips: I say it for every school, but no school matters more than balance/death for watching pips of opposing wizards. They have the best utility spells in the game, and if you aren’t careful, you may get caught off guard.
- Have a teammate set up cleanse (multiple if possible): The safest way around this is to have a few backup Cleanses on the turn that you’re hitting/healing to avoid getting “Entangled” in the potentially “Strangling” trio of spells designed to “Vaporize” your attempt to cast that round. The problem is that the dispels are assigned in a certain order, and if you don’t have enough cleanses, you’ll still fizzle and have wasted the turn cleansing. The other point to note is, “covering up” a debuff is a very common practice, so your opponents may try to cover up this trio with several other negative charms, so be wary of that when choosing this method.
I admit, I don’t see these spells very often, though on the occasion I play jade balance, I stick with the Spirit Defuses primarily. Now we’ll go into some general strategies to handle those pesky balance wizards!
Strategy #1: Knock ’em off-balance.
By far the best way to deal with any school is by using the dispel of that school, but more so for the school of balance, it’s the best way to shut them down since they have a myriad of utility spells at their disposal. Also, great for those non-balance wizards in the event that a match is prolonged for several hours, as it stops the one balance spell every PvP’er has in their deck somewhere: Reshuffle!
Strategy #2: Use their “own” spells against them!
Ironically, but not surprisingly, the best countermeasures for balance wizards are balance spells themselves, but none more so than Weakness! This lovely 0 pip debuff will give a Sorcerer pause before attacking you. Stacking them with TC variants helps neutralize attacks. Combine with Plague for even more fun and shenanigans! Since there’s no “off school” wand for balance buffs, they will either have to overly rely on cleanse (which leaves their teammates unable to do much else), cleanse themselves (leaving them little room to do much else), or wand them off, which will ruin their buffs and force them to attack based on gear power alone. A lot of balance wizards are highly aware of this fact, and push their damage to be as close to 100% as possible to ensure a maximum punch. Since the only shield that helps mitigate balance damage is about as easily removed as their buffs are when they have to wand, weaknesses are a better “shield” against balance wizards. Coupled with high critical, you don’t want to eat several non-shielded hits from balance wizards.
For example: An exceptionally good balance wizard and close partner of mine, Autumn StormTamer, with the right setup can achieve over 90% damage and upwards of 500+ critical! Needless to say, she gets dispelled a lot. 😛
The power of balance lies within the lack of a school specific shield, but their vulnerabilities to universal debuffs (and the school specific dispel) will tip the scales more so in your favor. Come back next time when we go over the Life school, and see what those jade healers last stands really are like! Until then, stay “balanced!” It’s a good rule of thumb for life too. 😉 Also, thanks for being loyal fans, as always! Couldn’t do it without you guys.