Shielding Part 1
One of the first major hurdles that W101 Pvp players run into is shielding. The amount, variety, and consistency of shielding you’ll see in The Arena is far beyond what you’ll experience anywhere else in the game. Concepts like buffing for a large hit become much harder to execute, the ability to spike damage is greatly reduced.
The faster a player comes to understand this relationship and learns how to deal with it, the more likely they are to become successful.
Offense: Dealing with Shields
Don’t hit into shields
I’ve watched a lot of PvP matches with low ranked players, and one thing I see fairly consistently is that these players hit into shields regularly. Often a new player will cast a blade or two, maybe some traps, and their opponent will immediately shield. Rather than remove the shield and possibly lose their buffs, the new player will simply fire their attack anyway.
In most situations, this is a bad idea. Even with a few buffs, a shield will reduce damage so much that you’ll almost always do more damage by removing the shield at the expense of your buffs and firing an un-buffed attack into no shield.
Many new players will think “but I need buffs to kill them, or they’ll just heal!”, and that is correct. However you cannot use it as an excuse to ignore what I said above. If you need buffs to kill them and hitting with no buffs is not enough, hitting into a shield is even worse.
Not only do you do very little damage, you waste your pips and give them time to work on their own kill solutions while you build pips again.
Sometimes this advice is wrong
Top level players have access to a lot of pierce, and this creates situations where it may be worthwhile to ignore shields, especially if Shrike is in use. There are also a lot of low-pip spells with value at top level now, creating a lot of “spam” strategies where shields are less of an issue.
This is not the case for every player, maybe not even for most players. If your build is an exception, you’ll likely know it already. If you think your build is an exception but you’re losing most of your matches, it’s probably not.
Knowing not to hit into shields is only a small part of the game plan. You need to be able to actually do that, and it’s easier said than done. Here we’ll discuss ways to actually create damage while avoiding shields.
Know how to break shields
There are many, many ways to get around shields in Wizard101. You need to know which ways are available to you and plan to use them. Here’s a list of common shield breaking techniques and their uses.
Off-School Wand Spells – Your wands are often your first line of defense against shields. Many players will use an off-school wand so that they can take down Tower Shields and Weakness without losing their blades. Example: Fire wizard using Ice wand blasts.
Same-School Wand Spells – Schools without more advanced tools, however, often benefit from having a same-school wand. Storm and Life wizards in particular have very few ways to break shields, and often a same-school wand will help create openings to generate damage. The drawback is that you will lose blades and traps, but we already know that doesn’t matter if you can’t get past shields. Example: Storm wizard using Storm wand blasts.
Low Pip Attacks – Storm is famous for their low pip, high damage attacks that break shields. WildBolt and Lightning Bats are common, and very effective ways for them to take down shields and deal damage. The idea here is that the spells don’t cost many pips, so you are not losing a lot of resources to break shields. The drawback is, again, losing buffs. Other examples: Balance using Garg/Colossal Scorpion, Loremaster. Life using Garg/Colossal Imp or Leprechaun.
Low Pip DoT Spells – DoT means Damage Over Time, and the advantage of these spells is that they get most of the damage past a shield or two. Fire is famous for Elf and Link, both great shield breakers.
Slightly Higher Pip DoT Spells – These are some of the greatest spells in W101 for getting past shields. Shields don’t stop them, and they have enough damage that they’re not a waste of blades, especially if they are enchanted with Monstrous/Gargantuan/Colossal. Examples: Ice uses Frostbite, Fire uses Power Link (or Scald), Death uses Poison.
Minions – Most minions do a great job of breaking shields, so if you can get one out long enough to do that, you are free to use blades and buff up your attack. The drawback is that most minions are pretty easy to kill, so it can be tough to keep them alive long enough to attack. At low/mid level in W101, decks that feature minions heavily are still very popular and effective.
Earthquake – Earthquake is a Myth spell which costs 6 pips and removes all wards and charms from your opponents. Some players use this spell in conjunction with a Myth Amulet to remove shields for a large hit. The drawback is pip expense. Without a mastery amulet, you’ll almost never have enough pips to attack after using an Earthquake. There’s a rarer Treasure Card version called AfterShock which only costs 4 pips, and is a bit easier to use without a Mastery Amulet, if you can find them.
Shatter – Shatter is a 3 pip Myth spell that removes all shields from an opponent. It’s readily available in Treasure Card form, and the pip cost is low enough to use without a Mastery Amulet.
Buffing up for a large hit and using Shatter has been a popular technique since its introduction.
Single Ward Removers – Spells such as Myth’s Pierce and Ice’s Steal Ward are options for single shield removal.
Their main drawbacks are that they only remove a single shield, so an opponent can cover up their shield with other ones and stop you from removing the one you need.
Mutations – These are either treasure/pet/gear cards with modified effects, or an actual mutate enchantment you can apply to a spell and change its school/effect. These spells often have a lot of shield breaking functionality. One example is the 0 pip Rain Beetle card, which is super helpful to Storm Wizards who need to break shields without losing pips. Another example is Midnight Sprite, a 1-pip Death spell that leaves a 20% universal trap, breaking a shield and giving a buff.
Special Spells – Some spells are made specifically to get around shielding problems. Myth’s double-hit attacks of Minotaur and Orthrus are great examples. There are also big DoT spells like Heck Hound, Basilisk, Skeletal Dragon, and Spinysaur that are hard to shield and pack a big punch. Each has its own advantages and drawbacks, but knowing they are there is a big help in choosing the right tools for your character.
Avoid being predictable
Being predictable makes it harder to stop shields. If your opponent knows when you want to attack, they’ll go out of their way to drop extra shields then. For example, if you insist on casting Efreet every time you get 8 pips, your opponent is going to shield when you have 8 pips, every time. Breaking a shield before then will not be helpful.
If, however, you cast a DoT to break shields and wait a turn or two, they will begin having to guess when you may hit, and you’ll be more likely to get successful attacks past their defense.
Attack in combination
Another problem with attacking every time you get pips is that you never have enough pips for more than one attack. This is a good way to lose matches. Not only does your opponent know when you want to attack, they know you won’t have pips for another attack and they can heal it off.
If you are serious about winning, you’ll learn to use more than one attack at a time, and to use non-attack spells to make them more effective.
For schools with DoT spells, this almost always means leading with a Damage Over Time to remove shields and clear the way for bigger attacks. It also means paying attention to the side effects of your spells. Many spells have side effects from debuffs to traps, blades, and even stuns. Using these effects wisely in your combo will lead to much better results.
Read Part 2!
Defense: Using Your Shields Wisely