Where are they?
Do you know what spellements are? There’s a good chance you’ve heard the word before. They are used in Spellwrighting, a system for changing / upgrading spells which came out along with the Catacombs in 2019, roughly one year and a half ago, and KI only expanded the system since then. However, despite having been around for awhile, there’s also a very good chance you’ve never done much with these spellements or even know how they work exactly. You’re not falling behind on wizardly times, nor are you too new to know about them – this is actually the situation for the overwhelming majority of Wizard101 players.
At the time of their release KI stated that the system would expand; we would get new spellements as well as new ways to win these spellements – and we certainly did! But also not really… we got our first real taste of it in Karamelle but we’re still largely waiting for this system to become viable for players to use.
Recently wiz developer Matthew announced on his Twitter page that the skeleton key boss, King Borr from the Spring update, was suffering from a bug which caused him have a 50% chance to drop 30 spellements every fight. I took the opportunity to ask what the intended drop rate was going to be but sadly the final answer was rather disappointing: it’s gonna be the same as other skeleton key bosses.
This is not good news for players interested in upgrading the Grizzleheim lore spells, the spellements for which King Borr is supposed to drop. The disappointment was also evident through other media as such as on KingsIsle’s official message boards.
Alas this is not just another case of players itching for easier “wins”. It’s a fact players have been unhappy with how Spellwrighting’s been handled for a long time, despite KI constantly releasing new spellements and new ways to acquire them we’re no closer to upgrading even our most basic cards than when the system first came out. But why is this happening? It seems odd KI would create a feature, invest so much time in its design, be praised for its concept but never allow players to actually use it.
Matthew’s last tweet and some of his subsequent responses may suggest this issue somehow slipped under KI’s radar and they are under the impression the system is healthy and thriving. So this seems like the perfect opportunity to take a closer look at what’s going on with spellements and why players are still not doing anything with this system rich in potential. This is as much an analysis of the situation for fellow players as it’s an open letter to KingsIsle.
Unlocking and Upgrading
Assuming you know the basics of how spellements work, the first thing we must look to understand what’s going on isÂ how many spellements are necessary to unlock each tier of an upgradable spell:
|Tier 1||Tier 2||Tier 3||Tier 4||Tier 5|
|Cost in Spellements||35||75||115||190||305|
|Total of Spellements in upgrades used so far||0||75||190||380||685|
|Notes||Unlocking the first tier is equivalent to learning the spell.||This tier constitutes the first upgrade of a spell.||Final upgrade for Karamelle, holiday and rank 2 spells.||This is the final upgrade for most spells.|
It’s important to keep these values in mind because a lot of the issues with spellements are connected to how the spellement sources we have don’t correlate with the quantity required, as you’re going to see once we get into each of the sources.
While we’re here let’s also talk about the expectations for acquiring these upgrades. Take a look here at the available upgrades for Scarab and tell me: how long do you think this upgrade should take? Certainly it shouldn’t take more than a few months. Maybe it will take a bit over a year if you’re taking it slow and just getting the spellements here and there from events and key bosses you’ve farmed – and this is only a rank 1 spell after all.
It’s true these are permanent upgrades so we can’t except them to be handed out easily, but the effort needed for a dedicated player to earn an upgrade for a rank 1 spell, like Scarab, is bigger than anything we’ve seen before. Meanwhile the time it takes to win them semi-passively through events will keep you busy until Wizard101’s 30th anniversary at the current rate. But hey, did you know the animations become “enhanced” when you reach the final tier?! Just looking at these awesome visual effects might make you feel it’s all worth it:
It’s cool how KI even took the time to make special animations to illustrate the upgraded spells. This also makes it even stranger that they wouldn’t allow players to upgrade their spells further enough to appreciate their work.
Now we can move on to the actual sources of spellements. In addition to listing the way they’re available I’ll also be rating them in scores from 1 to 5 – with 5 being the sources that feel balanced and rewarding, while 1 are the sources which are so bad they might as well not drop any spellements.
Naturally I’ll also include some suggestions on how the situation could be improved. For easy navigation, feel free to use the below links to the different spellement sources.
What are the spellements: rank 1 spells.
Where are the spellements: they have a chance of being dropped by mobs in stages 4 through 10 in small amounts, usually 1 or 2 per fight. Each deckathalon only drops rank 1 spellements for its own school, for example the Life Deckathalon only drops Imp spellements – though the last floor seems to be an exception to this rule.
What’s the issue: in most spellements sources we’ll have multiple factors contributing to the low drop rate, our first source is no exception. The most obvious issue in this one is the fact this is a time-limited event with limited runs – you have to play in the week it’s running, every day, to make the most out of this event; this takes planning and a considerable time investment for which you’re not adequately rewarded. The stages you’ll need to farm for spellements aren’t exactly a cake-walk and your daily runs will likely consume at least an hour of your game time – that is if you already have the deck needed to farm higher stages. This is also the event that requires the most gold and forethought, both daily before entering the deckathalon tower and before the event starts as you’ll likely need to hoard some TC’s before the masses rob the Bazaar of all its deckathalon-relevant cards.
The deckathalon boast the best drop rate for spellements but that doesn’t mean it’s the most accessible source, after all each Deckathalon only happens once every 7 months. Indeed the drop rate is far lower than what you’d expect from such an exclusive, expensive and challenging event.
- Give every mob a guaranteed spellement drop that varies according to stage. Mobs in stages 1 and 2 drop Dark Fairy while mobs in higher stages might drop higher rank spellements like Ship of Fools and Crimson Phantom. This gives the Deckathalon appropriately fitting drops, helps keep the event relevant as new spellements are released and lets the player choose what spellement they want to farm, with a difficulty/time-investment curve if they want higher rank spellements.
- Allow players to craft spellements with runes and TC’s. This is a suggestion I’ve seen made a few times and it would indeed be a great improvement – though I personally find it would be more beneficial to make spellements farmable directly from specific stages, as players already farm runes to craft the Deckathalon decks and there’s currently no incentive to farm higher stages.
What are the spellements: The Scroll of Fortune has consistently given both rank 1 spellements for all players and rank 2 spellements for those who would purchase the scroll’s game pass.
Where are the spellements: Like all scroll rewards they become available after reaching a number of points in various events. The spellements come in bundles which give a number of random spellements; for example, a bundle of 30 spirit spellements will give me a random combination of Leprechaun, Ghoul, Troll and Scorpion spellements.
What’s the issue: paywall, the two bundles of 30 spellements in the Scroll require the purchase of the access pass while the 2 bundles of 3 are basically a joke. Furthermore the random nature of the bundles is a huge deterrent to advancing any one spell. A bundle of elemental spellements won’t get me to 30/75 of Ice Beetle’s second tier – it’ll get me to 10/75 if I’m lucky. I may or may not have characters who can use the other spellements but the game’s gonna give them to me nonetheless.
- Either make the bundles give spellements that match the player’s school or increase the number of spellements given.
- Do nothing. The scroll may not be a good source of spellements but it doesn’t have to be, there’s already plenty of good rewards to justify the scroll’s purchase.
What are the spellements: rank 1 spellements. New lvl 42 spellements.
Where are the spellements: Rank 1 spellements are a reward in the progress bar, these spellements are also distributed in bundles like in the Scroll of Fortune. The new spellements are instead crafted with reagents from the Beastmoon Mayhem.
What’s the issue: Just like the Scroll of Fortune the Beastmoon Hunt suffers from the randomness of its bundle rewards, albeit to a greater degree as the bundles here only give 10 spellements. These 10 random spellements pose as the final reward from the events which personally I find rather laughable – 2-3 spellements hardly seem fitting as a top tier reward when just the first upgrade requires 75 spellements. To me the pet and Beastmoon idol are much more tangible rewards which players can put to use right away.
There are also new spellements just arrived in Beastmoon this Test Realm last update but they are being made available thorough crafting. The recipes themselves are accessible enough, they’re dropped by Beastmoon seeds and bosses, alas the crafting part isn’t as good.
All recipes require Moondust, a reagent available exclusively from the PvE event at a limited amount, each character can only accquire a max of 10 Moondust per Beastmoon Mayhem. It also calls for the Treasure Card version of the spell which is a bit trickier – some of these cards are already abundant in player’s TC stocks and others not so much, Mayhem bosses seem to be dropping these cards as well but their current drop rate is far from sustainable.
And for this recipe, the player is given only one spellement. While Beastmoon makes these new spellements more available than the rank 1’s we must also consider Beastmoon is being advertised as the main source this time, not merely another way to get some extra spellements. A full upgrade will take a character roughly 5 years of playing this event every month.
The latest update notes do say these new spellements will “be made available in various ways” so we might get a second source by Summer or Fall, however if these new ways are just packs, Scroll of Fortune and other events then it won’t really make a difference.
EDIT: Some comments have bought to my attention the Beastmoon school seeds also drop spellements!
After some testing I’ve concluded the seeds behave similarly to the spirit/elemental bundles we have in events: for example the Myth Blossom always drop a spellements for one of Myth, Death, Life or Balance’s spells. This mean each harvest gives 1 of 8 random spellements.
This is a considerable improvement so I upped the Beastmoon score from 1/5 to 1.5/5. Sadly the random nature of the drops and the moderate rarity of the seeds themselves still make this a very unreliable source.
Without accounting for the Hasty Harvest TC, each player can only get 3 random spellements per day (assuming an unlimited supply of seeds of the same triangle of magic). In one year that’ll be 1,095 random spellements, roughly 182.5 for each of the 6 spellement types available from your seed type – this alone would take a year of daily logins and constant participation in Beastmoon events to craft 1000+ school seeds. Alas the reward doesn’t seem appropriate to an one year commitment.
- For rank 1 spellements: No more random bundles, give out only spellements that match the player’s school – if I’m getting 10 spellements I want 10 spellements I can use, not 10 any spellements. I don’t see Beastmoon as a primary source for these spells so I don’t think the amount has to be too good but if you’re going to give spellements in Beastmoon it has to be enough to feel like something.
- For the newly added spellements: the recipes need to give more spellements. One spellement per recipe is simply not a satisfactory experience, especially when you look at the amounts you need to each upgrade.
- Also for new spellements: add them as drops to bosses in PvE (at a decent drop rate). Keeping spellements exclusive to an event isn’t cool, not everyone enjoys Beastmoon’s gameplay just like not everyone enjoys PvP. Spellwrighting is a feature for PvE so that’s where I believe their main source needs to be.
What are the spellements: Karamelle spells spellements.
Where are the spellements: These spellements are available from several story and side quests as well as dropped by all bosses in the world, the bosses also have small chance of dropping a “jackpot” of 30 spellements at once.
What’s the issue: These spellements drop often enough during normal farming. The fact there’s only two tiers beyond the base spell, that they give actually meaningful upgrades and the bosses only drop spellements that match your school all contribute to making these spellements the black sheep of the family. Karamelle spellwrighting doesn’t even feel like it’s the same system as we have with lore spells and rank 1/2 spellwrighting, their accessible distribution in-world stands in complete contrast to how the system’s been handled in the rest of the game – it’s like they’re a removed part of Spellwighting, something separate and independent of the rest.
- Handle more spellements like it was done in Karamelle. I realize giving them out in quests and putting them in every world boss’s loot table is something meant to be exclusive to this instance, but there’re a few concepts used here that could be carried elsewhere like giving spellements to normal, non-skeleton key bosses and limiting drops to spellements relevant to your school.
What are the spellements: Rank 1 and 2 spellements. Grizzleheim spells.
Where are the spellements: Just about every skeleton key boss has a chance of dropping spellements. When they drop it’s usually 1-4 of the same type with small chance of being a “jackpot” of 30. Our guide to spellement location includes several key bosses, however due to their inconsistent drop rate and some of these bosses’ unpopularity I can make no claim of it being a complete list.
What’s the issue: Similar to the deckathalon, the problem with this source is it requires time and resources to be farmed and doesn’t yield meaningful results. Skeleton key bosses require a player to consume a key then spend time in the boss fight for a chance at a few spellements.
The keys themselves are the first obstacle; most of these bosses can drop keys in addition to loot (or instead of) and this is something a full team can use to try and be self-reliant but there’re several caverts to this practice: you need several keys to kick-start the farming. You need a stable team or a network of players who reciprocate the favor in sharing their stored/acquired keys with you; they have to play at the same time as you and be interested in the same boss, plus due to the low drop rate of spellements you need to keep this system going for a long time in order to upgrade your spells.
Then there’s the matter of time, farming a key boss is just as time-consuming as any other boss and there’s only so many runs you can do in your gaming time. If you don’t have an active group who’s sharing keys mutually then you’ll also have to spend time farming keys and/or stalking the team-up kiosk for team up instances of your desired dungeon. Sadly team up for key bosses have become less popular ever since the kiosk started requiring you to have a key for the dungeon before asking for help, a change which leaves the creator of the team responsible for unlocking the dungeon and giving the helping players freedom to “leech off” without contributing with their own keys. Indeed just looking in the kiosk will show you much fewer instances in key boss instances than in the latest worlds and dungeons.
But provided you’re able to actively farm a key boss, you might be left wondering if it’s really worth it. Most key bosses at least give a guaranteed gear drop from an unique set or hoard pack so every battle you have the chance of getting the piece you want. But if you’re farming them for spellements you’ll be fully at the mercy of RNG – most of the time you won’t get any spellements, when you do it could be the wrong type and even when you get the right one it’s just a small part of what you actually want.
Basically you spend your keys and your time for a chance of getting a reagent which has a chance of being a fraction of what you need to create the spell you want. That’s a tad too much, wouldn’t you think?
- Give guaranteed spellement drops per fight that match your school. Assuming it stayed 1-4 spellements per fight with a chance of jackpot it would still take an estimated 100-400 fights to fully upgrade a rank 1 spell, that’s still an insane amount of farming for a skeleton key boss but it would at least allow some steady progress.
- A “token” system like in the catacombs which allow players to craft spellements. Another form of slow but steady progress if KI is so keen on keeping these spellements as a real challenge (read as “ardous pointless feature”).
- Create new non-key bosses to drop them or give them to existing bosses. This worked well with Karamelle spellements so I’m confident it could for others, a suggestion I’ve seen often is to give each spellement to one or two thematic bosses like it was done with spells from the Ninja’s Lore pack. With the addition of new upgradable spells in this Test Realm, conveniently trained at level 42, it could be the perfect opportunity to distribute spellements to bosses in arcs 1 and 2.
What are the spellements: All rank 1 and 2 spellements.
Where are the spellements: These packs were temporarily retired from the Crown Shop and were gradually re-released with the new gear and the rank 1 and 2 spellements in them. Each packs give spellements for two spells, our spellement location guide has more information.
What’s the issue: Admittedly I haven’t bought any of these packs in Live Realm as none of these upgrades seemed worth my Crowns. However I tried buying the Skvyrn’s Hoard Pack in a previous Test Realm to test its drop rate – this pack gives Ice Beetle and Leprechaun spellements. Full disclosure: I did this experiment because I heard many players who believed the meager drop rate in bosses was a tactic for KI to sell more packs so I wanted to see if the experience for crown-spending players was more satisfactory – synopsis:Â it wasn’t.
Even after spending over 60,000 of my “fake” Crowns I still didn’t have the 75 required for the 1st upgrade of either spell. Although it was much faster than farming any boss, the structure of the pack seemed much the same as the key bosses, with only a chance of it dropping 1-4 spellements each pack. In the end I found my overall experience to be equally frustrating if much faster. As a spellement source I found the pack to give too little spellements for much of my money, where as the key bosses gave too little spellements for much of my time.
- If key bosses are updated, increase hoard pack drop rates proportionally as the bosses’ rate increase.
- Include old spellements in every new hoard pack as “common” and “uncommon” items so players might also earn them from packs they’ll buy anyway.
What are the spellements: Celestia and Ghizzleheim lore spells.
Where are the spellements: These packs are meant to replace the old “lore” packs as the way of distributing new lore spells. As per KI’s new lore spell business model, these packs keep new spells as crown-exclusives for one year before making them available through non-crown ways.
What’s the issue: Replacing lore packs with spellemental packs is a very positive change. Of course we, the players, would much prefer if the lore spells and their spellements were made craftable and droppable along the pack’s release – the way KI used to do years ago. However some exchanges with KI staff in charge on the Crown Shop strongly suggest this is off the table for now and since this article is about accessibility to spellements as a whole, not lore spells, I’ll not go deep into that topic.
But we have to recognize that if KI is gonna enforce this exclusivity on lore spells, it’s best they be released in spellement packs than in the old lore packs as instead of keeping new spells behind a huge RNG wall where they’re marked as an “Epic” drop, the spellemental packs give an amount of spellements nearly every time you open them. When you get 35 spellements of a certain spell you can unlock it – it’s not F2P but at least it’s not as random. This new system also allows players to open their packs in one wizard, collect the spellements and transfer them to other characters effectively allowing us to trade newly acquired lore spells.
There’s no inherent or particularly grave issue with these packs if you look at them as simply “the new lore packs”, it’s just a new and improved way to learn lore spells in packs. However the drop rate at which they give spellements don’t tie in well with the amounts required for upgrades. So far every spell in these packs require 720 spellements to learn and fully upgrade and while the initial 35 is manageable enough, the remaining 685 would cost hundreds of thousands of Crowns.
While these packs might make learning new lore spells easier for most players, the upgrades are simply not sustainable solely through packs. Of course that could be a feature rather than a bug, perhaps the packs were only meant to give us a taste, allowing us to learn the spells but keeping the upgrades exclusive to “whales”. This could be beneficial business model for KI, they could make an extra coin off selling upgrades to these players who want boasting rights or to enjoy a nearly insignificant advantage in PvP.
- If upgrades are meant to be viable via packs for non-whale players then the drop rate needs to go up considerably. There’s also the alternative of making the pack drop a higher amount of spellements according to which tiers the player has unlocked.
- If upgrades are not meant to be widely available from the packs, then maybe KI should block the higher tiers of new spells by giving them impossible requirements (like “Level 400+ Only”) until the spellements become available to most players. This would, of course, be at the expense of possible profit from wizards who simply must have these upgrade at their release date.
What are the spellements: All except Karamelle and lvl 42 spells spellements.
Where are the spellements: This pack is exclusively available through a special deal in wizard101.com. For $2 your account will be granted a Deluxe Spellemental Pack every 7 days during one month, subject to automatic renew until canceled. The packs give 7 rolls at spellements, most of these rolls will only give one spellement but there seems some slots of the pack with a higher drop rate which give 2-3 additional spellements.
What’s the issue: Like the Scroll of Fortune this pack is a paid source of random spellements. Unlike the Scroll of Fortune this deal has no exclusive housing items or benefit elixirs bundled together and requires no participation in events, though it still requires you log in to claim the pack every week. It’s also cheaper and offers a greater variety of spellements, including those from lore packs.
It may be worth buying at least once as the pack guarantees a Steal Pip spellement which is all you need to unlock the spell’s first tier, an one-copy-per-shuffle version of the spell and currently the only source for this spellement. Both the spell and the pack are a nice niche but realistically they won’t be much help in upgrading your spells. Ultimately the value of this deal is a bit of a personal opinion as it depends on how much $2 is worth to you.
- None. The pack’s mediocre drop rate is consistent with key bosses and other packs, yet boosting this pack alone won’t make an impact on overall accessibility. I would only recommend the drop rate be increased if other sources’ drop rates went up in order to keep the deal relevant to possible buyers – but aside from this I see no reason to update this pack, whatever it’s good or bad.
What are the spellements: Reindeer Knight and Krampus in December.
Where are the spellements: These spells used to be dropped by Loremaster during December at a very high drop rate. Since the release of spellements KI has updated them to allow players to unlock and upgrade them with spellements available from Loremaster and Yuletide packs. They also drop during Christmas in July when KI does it.
What’s the issue: None really, they drop often enough to allow players to upgrade the spells by farming Loremaster in the holidays. The only downside of this set up is players have no way upgrading these spells outside the festive season which is inconvenient – albeit in line with the spells’ theme.
- Maybe allow the spellements to be acquired at a lower rate out of December… though I’m sure players will be fine if this doesn’t happen, no one’s ever died from waiting for Christmas.
With the exception of Karamelle and holiday spellwrighting, all sources put players in a situation where you’re asked make huge investments of time and/or personal resources to move just an inch towards your goal – whether that goal is the 2nd tier or a full upgrade – so we never feel like we’re advancing. The key issue with spellwrighting is actually quite simple: it’s not fun, it’s not an enjoyable chase or a satisfactory experience – whatever you’re farming key bosses, spending money on packs or grinding events, it just never feels fun.
Players like to be rewarded and we simply don’t get that with spellements. We win them everywhere but they’re not a reward in itself – the upgrades are the reward, that’s what we’ll actually use, that’s what we want and that’s what we’re not getting. Working your way towards something is a common concept in videogames – and truly, who hasn’t spent hours in a game chasing that big prize? – but it’s only enjoyable when you feel like you’re making progress, when the goal is within your reach and the journey towards it feels worth it; in the end of the day that’s what spellwrighting fails to give players.
What are your thoughts on the above sources so far?
Leave us a comment below!