The New Storm/Fire Paradigm:
Wizard 101 has gone through a number of changes through its ten year tenure. From a simple tale of trying to save the world from a love crazed madman to an epic showdown between primordial Titans, we have certainly come quite a long way. However, the changes aren’t limited to the story but also to school design and direction. This article will examine what I believe to be the new Storm/Fire Paradigm and how Kingsisle is shaping the two classes going forward.
The Old Paradigm
Ask any old school Wizard101 player what the damage schools are and you will likely get 2 answers: Fire and Storm. Ask them the difference between the two schools and the knowledgeable wizard would happily list off their characteristics. Storm is the school that deals more damage, they have higher damage boost and stronger base damage spells. Fire is the second most damaging school, they have the second highest attack but have higher base accuracy, base health and their damage over time offers higher base damage than even storm spells. This was the paradigm until Polaris, when a sudden shift occurred.
The New Paradigm
Starting in Polaris, players noticed an unusual occurrence. The end world boss gear offered more damage to the Fire school than the Storm school. Many assumed it was a glitch or one time occurrence. However, Kingsisle confirmed this change was intended and has moved forward with this trend ever since. In compensation Storm would receive more resist on their gear. Check out this piece of Paradox Gear to see this new trend in action.
In addition to changes in stat priorities between the 2 schools, Polaris bought another major change: The Revamp of the Critical and Block system in Wizard 101. Under the old system, critical and block were interdependent. The higher your critical rating, the more likely you were to critical and to get past an opponent’s block and vice versa.
Under the new system, critical and block became completely independent. Whereas, under the old system if you had 50% critical and your opponent had 50% block you could never land a critical on them. Under the new system your critical will land 50% of the time it triggers under the same conditions. In addition to these functional changes, critical and block were also given a decay. As you level up- the same amount of critical/block rating will award less percent of each.
Along with this decay came a revamp of stats on gear and wands. Now instead of receiving critical AND block (such as with Terror Hoard Pack wands), most wands were given either critical or block but not significant amounts of both. In addition, mob and boss critical and block were realigned to fit in this new system. In effect these changes mean a wizard can specialize in either critical OR block but cannot easily achieve high levels of both. (This is a stark departure from the “Perfection Era”- which I will be discussing in another article)
What the New Paradigm Accomplishes
The changes in damage priority, critical/block and mob and monster design have resulted in a unique differentiation amongst the two offensive schools. These changes are pushing Fire into becoming the preferred boss killer. Storm on the other hand is becoming the preferred crowd control class. What this means is that Fire is becoming the class best built to deal with the big baddies while Storm is the best equipped to deal with multiple smaller enemies. Whether this is an intentional design decision by KI or an unforeseen consequence of multiple changes is unknown. However, the evidence supporting this assertion is quite literally everywhere.
|When teaming up for a boss, the major consideration when choosing a hitter is who has the highest damage. With Fire getting more damage than Storm, it is more likely for them to be chosen as hitter.|
|Incindiate added to the game, making DoTs (Fire’s specialty) some of the best burst damage options in the game in Team scenarios.|
|Introduction of bosses that are more effectively completed via trap stack (another fire specialty) such as Corporal Tennisyn.|
|Introduction of bosses that remove feints but are open to school specific traps (such as Omen) leading people to utilize the next best trap: backdraft.|
|Introduction bosses with damage cap bubbles (such as the Storm Titan) which shuts down one shot strategies completely and leads to DoTs being the preferred hit.|
|Storm’s focus on critical is more effective on mobs which tend to have lower block and less effective on bosses which tend to have higher block.|
|Compare and Contrast recent spell design for AoEs (great crowd control) and Single target hits (great on bosses):
Why the Change?
Burst Damage vs Damage over Time
Of course only KI knows the reason for the changes in their entirety. However, I believe with the evidence we have been given, we can draw some fairly safe conclusions. Prior to the changes, Storm was the undisputed top choice for hitter in PvE. Wizard 101 PvE tends to favor burst damage and AoE attacks and as such the Storm school dominated. The Fire school, while home to a large number of AoEs (Scald, Fire Dragon, Rain of Fire etc) was home to only one burst damage AoE (Meteor Strike) for almost 100 levels. The Storm school on the other hand was gifted with Tempest, Storm Lord and Sirens (all burst damage AoEs). Burst damage hits are advantageous in most PvE scenarios for a number of reasons. They receive the full damage of an enchant up front and also make better use of the most powerful and universally accessible trap in the game (feint).
Let’s compare burst damage AoE Storm Lord to DoT AoE Fire Dragon.
Now lets look at what happens when we enchant the spell with Epic
Now lets see what happens with Feint and Epic enchants.
The Darkmoor Advantage
This reason has actually been confirmed by KI developer Mattnetic who was gracious enough to provide it on social media. During the Darkmoor expansion, Storm’s damage potential was greatly improved. Storm’s Darkmoor set had by far the best offensive stats. On top of that Storm was given it’s now iconic spell- Glowbug Squall. This spell is the strongest pip for pip AoE in the current game. Coupled with Storm’s superior damage and critical and there was no reason in PvE to ever use another hitter other than Storm. This created the situation illustrated here:
Since that time KI has tried to improve other school offensive stats relative to Storm’s. There have been several dungeons such as the Ultra Dungeons and Corporal Tennisyn that offer better than Darkmoor gear to all schools…except Storm. Most schools have also gained a massive buff in damage with all schools able to reach 100%+ damage with base spell damage that is closer to that of Storm’s. For a clear example of this check the difference in Damage between Triton and Helephant and then between Scion of Fire and Scion of Storm.
Damage Difference: 170 damage
Damage Difference: 75 damage
Damage Difference when doubled: 150 damage
Let’s also take a look at damage on Fire and Storm’s DM robe vs Tennisyn robe
Damage: Increased 2%
Damage: Decreased 2%
As can clearly be seen here, KI is trying to increase other school’s offensive prowess relative to Storm in an attempt to bring school damage potentials closer. Hence the realignment of stats and the advent of Fire as the highest damage boost school. What will be the long term effects of this change on PvP and PvE? Only time will tell.
In addition to this, the changes and additions to boss mechanics are an attempt to promote school diversity. Thanks to damage caps, feint removals and trap preference- Storm isn’t automatically the best choice for hitter anymore. Viable DoTs on Myth and Ice(King Artotious and Snow Angel) mean that they are competitive choices for hitter in the final boss. Super hard hits on the Storm Titan have made death into the most preferred school when attempting said boss. This is a far cry from the usual “we need a life, we need a storm” pleas typically heard outside more conventional dungeons. It will certainly be interesting to see if KI continues this trend of diversification moving forward and the new ways in which different schools will be utilized.
Let us know what you think about the new Storm/Fire Paradigm in the comments below!