Mechanics of the Beastmoon Hunt
and Their Impact
The Beastmoon Hunt is Wizard101’s latest and arguably greatest side event of the Summer 2019 Update. It represents a fusion of battle royale style capture the flag with Wizard101’s turn based mechanics. This event is unlike anything we have seen in Wizard101 to date. As such, it introduces a plethora of mechanics. Some completely new, while others are modified versions of more familiar aspects of gameplay. This article highlights some of the more notable mechanics of the Beastmoon Hunt and their impact on PvP as a whole if implemented.
The Beastmoon hunt focuses on a mechanic that is most comparable to a permanent polymorph. Before entering a battle, players must choose one of several beast forms. The player will assume this form until the end of the event or until they select a different form by returning to the starting area/base. These forms each come with a preset deck, combat stats and even “overworld” stats such as movement speed and pip limit. Forms can be leveled up to acquire more powerful cards and can also be “tiered” up to acquire larger hand size, sideboard space, etc. Levels last the entirety of the event but do not carry over from event to event. Tiers are permanent and are carried over to later events.
One of the biggest changes in the Beastmoon hunt is the area the event takes place in. Rather than being teleported right into a duel circle as in traditional PvP, we are instead taken to a separate map. The map allows players to freely explore the area within and attempt to control 5 different circular areas on the map. Within these areas are duel circles, and if 2 or more members of opposing teams try to control the same area, they will engage in battle. Each player has a minimap on the top right corner of their screen that shows the layout of the arena and which teams have control of which areas. Players can see themselves and their teammates at all times and can see enemy playmates when vying for control of an area.
In addition to engaging in battle, players can collect chests for special one-time-use treasure cards (referred to as battlecards) and battlecoins(a currency used to purchase battlecards), collect additional starting pips (depending on their beast form), and return to the appropriate team starting area to recover health, exchange beast forms, or buy additional battlecards.
New School Advantage Chart
The Beastmoon Hunt redefines the school advantage chart we have come to know in Wizard 101. In this event Ice has an advantage over Storm, Storm has an advanatge over Fire and Fire has an advantage over Ice. Meanwhile Death has an advantage over Life, Life has an advantage over Myth and Myth has an advantage over Death. Schools that have an advantage against another will deal 25 extra damage with each spell they cast. For example a Fire spell that normally deals 50 damage will deal 75 damage against an Ice Wizard. In addition, schools with advantages over another tend to have cards that negate or counter the disadvantaged school’s spells. For example Storm spells tend to leave blades on the user or allies. Ice(which has an advantage over Storm) tends to have spells that remove blades and become more powerful as a result of said removal.
Speed refers to how fast your beast can move outside of combat. Beast forms with higher speed are able to more quickly traverse the map. This is vital, as it allows the faster beastmodes to more easily collect valuable starting pips and battlecards from treasure chests. Faster beasts can also more quickly reach a teammate in need, which can make or break a battle. Speed has no effect on which player has turn advantage in any given match.
Typically, each player starts battle with one pip. However, certain beast forms have the ability to acquire additional free floating combat pips for use in battle. Collecting these combat pips increase the amount of pips the beastmode starts with in the next battle. Combat pips only apply to one battle at a time and must be gathered again before each battle. Each beastmode is capable of collecting a predetermined amount of combat pips. Some beasts such as the Ice Colossus cannot collect any combat pips (meaning they will always start battle with one pip). On the other hand, the Fire Elf can collect up to 3 additional combat pips (potentially starting a battle with 4 pips).
New Turn System
The Beastmoon event features a new turn system that differs from both traditional PvP and turn based PvP. In the beatmoon hunt the person who is first alternates each round. For example if Player A went first turn 1, said Player would go second turn 2 and then first again turn 3 and so on. In team pvp members of opposing teams alternate turns with each other. This is a huge difference from current PvP where an entire team goes first followed by the opposing team. For a more in depth explanation of the turn system check out Jeremy Ravenhunter’s article here.
Flat Buffs and Debuffs
One of the biggest changes in the Beastmoon hunt is the removal of percent based buffs and debuffs. Blades add or subtract a flat amount of damage while shields act as absorbs, removing a set amount of damage. This change is humongous, allowing for more intuitive play from the player end (think about how much easier calculating total damage is when you have a +50 and a +25 buff rather than 50% and 25%). Multiplicative percent based stats are one of the cardinal sins of Wizard101 and if this additive flat system could be applied to Wizard 101 PvP as a whole (including on gear stats) it could have a massively positive impact on PvP balance.
New Sideboard Mechanics
One of the sneakier updates in the Beastmoon hunt is the way sideboard cards function has been modified. From the preview screen the deck interface looks the same- one area for main deck cards and another for the Treasure Card-like battlecards. However, the different mechanics become all too noticeable in combat. When discarding, we no longer have the option of drawing cards from the sideboard. Instead the battlecards appear to be added to your main deck and randomly cycle into your hand just like regular cards. The only difference here is that battlecards will be consumed with use, mirroring how treasure cards usually work.
Reduced Hand Size
Another change that seems minor at first glance but is actually pretty major is the reduction in hand size. Hand size determines the variety of resources you have in a given round and your chance of pulling any particular resource. By reducing hand size, developers ensured that each Beastmoon battle would play out differently while also influencing card cycling decisions of the players. As Beastmoon resources are limited, discarding multiple cards in hopes of drawing a specific combo is incredibly risky and requires sacrificing resources you have no way of getting back.
New Drain Mechanics
Drains have received a massive buff in the Beastmoon hunt. In this event drains recover 100% of the damage dealt as health. Thus if you cast a 225 health drain, you will deal 225 damage and recover 225 health! In addition, the removal of percent based shields means that every shield acts like an absorb. Drains completely ignore absorbs(this mechanic is the same as regular play). This effectively means that drains are completely unshieldable in the Beastmoon hunt. The only counter to drains are negative charms which are only available to a limited number of beast forms. This makes drains one of the most potent tools within the Beastmoon hunt.
According to Kingsisle, certain mechanics within the Beastmoon hunt will be evaluated as potential modifications for the long anticipated PvP update. While I don’t believe beastmode specific mechanics such as preset stats and a battle arena are being considered, let’s look at some potential impacts of other mechanics if they were implemented in Ranked PvP.
Flat Stats instead of Percent Based Stats
Arguably the change that would have the largest impact on PvP(yes even more so than a modified turn system), flat stats have the potential to revolutionize PvP as we know it. Almost every broken mechanic from immunity sets to high critical heal sets are a direct result of the percent based system. One of the big problems with using percent’s is how potent they are at the higher values and how quickly they snowball when stacked. Lets use resist as an example. It takes 100% damage boost to negate 50% resist but to negate 90% resist you need 900% damage boost. In other words even though your resist only went up 40%(from 50% resist to 90% resist) it became 9 times as potent at negating damage.
Let’s look at what happens when multiplicative percents stack. Let’s take the “weakest” school: Ice. An Ice uses a 1000 damage Abominable weaver. It is then multiplied by Ice’s 100% damage boost becoming a 2000 damage attack. There is a 40% blade that turns the attack into 2800 damage. The damages become even higher with more % based boosts. The weakest school is fully capable of dealing half a max level storm wizard’s health with one buff, all thanks to a percent based system. This system works perfectly fine in PvE where bosses are given high hp (12k+ usually) but utterly fails in PvP where the playerbase has much smaller hp pools.
How would flat stats solve this problem? Well lets assume that instead of 100% damage boost in PvP- Ice’s gear instead gave +200 damage(more than twice it’s average damage per pip). Let’s say it’s blade similarly gives +80 damage instead of 40%. Under these conditions a 1000 damage abominable weaver becomes 1280 damage. That severely reduces the ridiculous swing factor of shadow enhanced spells in PvP. Similarly, instead of 80%+ resist on jades, what if we were given a flat resist of 300 on standard gear with jade gear giving something like 450 flat resist? These numbers are just examples. However, they serve to show exactly how much potential a flat resist system has for solving many of PvP’s longstanding problems.
New Turn System
The turn system in this event is another unique feature. It functions exactly the same as the current system but with one caveat: The player going first will switch turn advantage every round. I love how this turn system works in team PvP but in 1v1 it runs into some issues. In 1v1 this turn system doesn’t solve the action-reaction problem present in the current system but it does ensure that each player has the chance to launch a combo uninterrupted. Therein lies the problem.
In the current percent based max lvl system a free combo can easily close out a match. Typically these “free combos” were only available to the player in first turn position. While turn based pvp fixes this problem by removing these free combos entirely, the Beastmoon hunt “fixes” this problem by giving both players equal access to said free combos. This allows for much faster gameplay which works well with the nature of the combat in the Beastmoon Hunt. However, it may not mesh well in max level 1v1 PvP. On the other hand, if PvP is revamped to use flat stats for damage, heal boost, resist etc then this system could be a great fit.
Reduction in Hand Size, Max Copies and Sideboard Space
If implemented in PvP, these reductions will have a noticeable impact on the duel environment. As stated above, hand size determines what resources you have available in a particular round. It even influences your chances of pulling a particular card. Hand size also determines how well you can cycle through your deck. The Beastmoon hunt doesn’t just reduce hand size, it also reduces the max copies of any particular card and the total amount of sideboard space. In the Beastmoon hunt, creatures are given 2-3 copies of a card at max with a sideboard that is initially only 2 spaces. This limits the copies of key cards that can be placed in the deck which further reduces the chances of pulling off a particular combo.
Wizard101 is unique among ccgs in that it allows limitless card draw. Most similar games typically allow only one free draw per round. However, with an initial max hand size of 3, max copy of 3 and reduced sideboard space, most players are choosing not to discard at all. This effectively changes Wizard101’s unlimited card draw to one card per round. The real genius in this system lies in the fact that if you want to draw additional cards you can choose to discard your hand. Normally, this wouldn’t be much of an issue if we have a large hand, many copies of a particular spell and a large sideboard we can draw from at any time. However, a small hand, limited copies, and no draw from the sideboard means that the choice to discard is extremely impactful.
Treasure Cards and Sideboard Changes
This change is one of the bigger changes that may fly under the radar. In the Beastmoon Hunt, treasure cards are available and they do go into a limited space sideboard as usual. However, the sideboard is then mixed with your main deck once in battle. In other words, there is no longer a draw function for pulling out treasure cards. This adds a considerable rng factor to treasure cards. Typically, treasure cards usually see play to mitigate rng and increase deck consistency. In the Hunt, the more tc you pack, the less likely you are to draw any specific card from your main deck. This change reduces the chance of devastating free combos in the potential new turn system, but it may not go over well with players.
Another minor change is the addition of the battlecard vendor. This vendor sells treasure cards that you can only buy with Beastmoon specific currency. We already know that KI plans to remove tc enchants from vendors. Perhaps a battlecard vendor that deals in arena tickets will be its replacement? Only time will tell.
What do you think of these mechanics of the Beastmoon Hunt and their impact?
Let us know in the comments below!