Shielding: Part 2
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.
This is Part Two of a two part series on Shielding. Click Part One to view the first half of the series.
Defense: Using Your Shields Wisely
This partially comes from experience, knowing what certain players and play styles are likely to cast, but the first step is for you to know what spells are available to your school and others. Tools like the Central Wiki or the Duelist101 Spells list are a great place to look and find out what is available at any specific level. Knowing what treasure cards are popular also helps.
The reason this is important is that shields are a finite resource in your deck, and using them at the right times is the best way to get maximum value from them. Cast them too early and they are easily removed, cast them too late and you’re already dead.
Know what spells your opponent has that are a danger to you, and shield accordingly. Know the difference between a hit you can heal off and a hit that you can’t recover from, and do your best to bait your opponent into hits you can out-heal.
Tower is Your Friend
It’s understood that you must have Tower shield to stop Balance damage, and that Tower is useful for providing defense to schools you may not have a trained shield for, but that’s only a small part of Tower Shield’s value.
You won’t always have the correct shield in your hand at all times. Having plenty of Tower Shield in deck acts as a cushion for your discarding, buying you turns to find a more effective shield that is harder to remove. If an opponent has enough pips to be dangerous and you don’t have an immediate answer, tower shield will buy you a turn.
As you get better at dealing with other players, you’ll find yourself “juggling” Tower Shield and Weakness against most opponents to keep their damage at bay until you have an answer to their threat.
The bottom line here is that generic debuffs are critical, because they help you defend.
The Right Shield is Important
Now that you understand the value of Tower, it’s important to understand why it’s not (usually) the only shield you’ll need.
Many players will wear an off-school wand so they can easily remove a tower shield without losing their own blades. Some will even have an off-school DoT attack to remove lots of towers. If you wish to survive their attack, you’ll need to make them waste their blades.
The answer to this problem is to have the right shield for their school. Make sure they have to cast their own school damage to take it down, and make them waste their blades on an attack you’ll be able to heal off by forcing them to remove that shield.
Beware Stacking Shields
Different types of shields
Having two different types of the same shield can create issues. Sometimes it’s necessary to have stacking shields to reduce the damage from a huge hit, but most often you are casting a second shield because you want to stop a second attack.
If the shields stack, you spend two turns casting and burn two shields, but your opponent removes them in one turn. For example trying to stop an Ice wizard, if you cast Glacial Shield and Thermic Shield at the same time, one Ice Wand will remove both.
Keep this in mind, as it is usually in your advantage to juggle away damage for a longer period of time. Timing helps a great deal here.
Even if the shields you are casting do not stack, it’s dangerous to cast many of them at once. Spells like Earthquake and Shatter can remove all of your shields in one turn. The drawback of those spells is that they cost a lot of pips, but the more shields you are wearing, the more value your opponent gets from casting a big shield remover.
The goal is to be protected while still making Quake/Aftershock/Shatter a waste of resources for them.
Get a Real Ice Shield
If you’re from a school that doesn’t naturally have an Ice Shield, you should consider getting one. Many players train Fire to Elf for a cheap shield breaker + Glacial Shield.
The reason this is important is because every Ice Wizard you face will have access to Steal Ward, which means they can steal a shield of yours. If your only defense to them is Tower Shield, you offer them a lot of value by letting them remove your shield and protect themselves at the same time.
If you’re casting an actual Ice shield, they may still steal it, but chances are they won’t be blocking your damage with it. This makes casting Steal Ward a bigger waste of resources for them.
If you cannot get a real Ice shield, you should generally try to drop a double shield after you Tower. If they can’t steal your tower on that first turn, you’ll have covered it up with two other shields and they’ll be forced to remove it the hard way.
Sometimes Weakness is Better
Shielding is very important, but you should keep in mind that shields are not always the answer. If your opponent has Double Hit attacks (Myth), or if they have access to Damage Over Time spells, sometimes shields just won’t save you. Even if shields will save you, be aware that players can cast Earthquake and Shatter.
In these cases, Weakness is your first line of defense. It will reduce damage even if you can’t shield, or they’re piercing your shields down to 0.
Keep in mind that one common issue with Weakness and Tower together is that you can cast them both and have both removed with a single wand. In terms of juggling away damage, it’s in your best interest to consider whether you need both up at the same time right then.
Understanding how to use shields and how to get around shields is one of the most important skills in your PvP arsenal. The sooner you grasp shielding basics, the sooner you will be racking up more wins in The Arena.
Did we miss any tips you feel are important? Has this guide helped you in PvP? Let us know in the comments.