December 6, 2022 December 7, 2022
Wizard101 Spell Audit Q&A
Wizard101’s 2022 Fall Update has spawned in the spiral with various new features and changes. A big part of this update was the announcement that the devs are reviewing and auditing the Spell Library. Wizard101’s fanbase has a knack for nostalgia and so anytime change is mentioned players are hesitant. With that in mind, the Wizard101 Developers accepted an offer for a Q&A to get a deeper look into the spell audit process and offer the community a broader understanding.
A little context before we dive into the main event. The Novus Update went live this week with the first round of spell audits for Fire, Storm and Death, along with all Lore Spells. If you’re curious to see any of these changes check out our Spell Changes Guide or look in game to see some of these changes to spells. Without further ado, let’s begin!
General Spell Audit Overview
Q: The topic of this Q&A is the Spell Audit. Can you explain what that means and what the scope of the audit includes? How long might this audit take?
A: Whenever we audit an area of the game, it means we work to bring consistency to the design and balance of the system as it relates to the gameplay experiences we want to provide.
For the Spell Audit, we started by reviewing and clarifying our Spell scoring methods, then using that system we scored all the spells. After the spells were scored, we review each spell for design and balance. This is done in phases. For phase one, we’re looking at Arc 1 Spellement Path B spells, Shadow spells, Lore Spells, and all the Rhoshambo Spells for the seven primary schools.
As we look at each spell, we’ll decide if any adjustments need to be made. This review may result in feeling a spell needs a redesign to revitalize its use in the library or it may just be a power adjustment to bring the spell in-line with the other spells.
This is an iterative process which is done in collaboration with the community, so it will take time for us to implement changes and respond to the feedback.
Q: Why did you guys decide to do another spell audit? We saw various audits made to spells between Summer 2020 and Spring 2021. What’s different this time around?
A: There were a couple of reasons why we needed to look at the spells.
The first is our initiative to create Advanced content for those who have been asking for it. Advanced content puts greater emphasis on deck construction and contextual play-counterplay in combat. This type of content can be seen in the Rhoshambo cards in PvP, in the Raid, and in the Beastmoon events.
We want to apply the things we’ve learned over the year into the spells.
The second reason was that we are undertaking a holistic combat review to investigate some fundamental imbalances between the schools and to clarify and strengthen School identity. This includes stats, stat progression, combat mechanics, and spells.
Q: How did you determine which spells to audit? Is there a specific system used to determine which spells get changed?
A:We are looking at all the spells. There’s a combination of reasons why we may look to adjust a spell.
- If the scoring system indicates that the spell is out of balance relative to other similar spells.
- If we feel a spell adjustment helps strengthen the Advanced content initiative.
- If we feel a spell is underutilized by the players, then we may decide to fundamentally redesign it.
Q: Anytime a system is looked at or changed players typically have concerns about how this will affect different game modes. For folks worried about PvE, how will this audit affect them and/or what steps are being taken to limit the effects on PvE if any?
A:In this audit, we are especially mindful to minimize disruption to those players who enjoy Classic content. We create changes which we feel are beneficial for both Classic and Advanced content. We engage the community in discussions about these changes, and we then make changes when possible.
A few examples of this…
• Fire Wizards expressed concerns over Rank 7 Smores, and we reinstated it as a Classic-Only spell.
• Death Wizards expressed concerns over Deer Knight and the loss of its DOT, and we reinstated that version as Classic-Only.
• There were general concerns with Lore Spells requiring a School Pip, which meant that they couldn’t be cast before Level 50. In response, we added a Jewel with Archmastery on it in the Shopping District in Wizard City, which allows players to generate a School Pip as soon as Jewel Slots become available on their Gear.
Q: In the past we’ve seen multiple dpp tracks and different ways to balance spells. Will this audit attempt remove the trend of standard, lore, and shadow dpp?
A: We’re now using just the standard damage table. As part of the combat review, we concluded that using different damage tables was obscuring balance issues between the schools.
Q: Since the last audit we’ve seen new spells that have decreased the value of older utility spells such as shift and triage. Spells like Seraph and Gearhead Destroyer appear to have these same utilities at a lower cost. Will there be any reconciliation between new and legacy spells during this audit?
A: This is on a case-by-case basis. Each spell effect has a certain value which contributes to the overall value of the spell, so nothing is free. Many of the spell effect values were derived from legacy spells.
As we approach a more balanced environment, we can see which ones fall out of favor because we are wanting to revitalize legacy spells, like Fire Cat, during this process.
Q: What are the DPP and HPP values for each school?
A:The schools with grey cells under HPP means they shouldn’t be healing normally and will use legacy values for any existing Spells with heal effects on them.
(Edit – 12/07/2022): Life and Ice DPP were mistakenly put at 85 due to a consideration to buff their DPPs. Life and Ice will continue to have a DPP of 83 and all current spells are balanced with this value.
Lore Spell Audit
Q: We’ve seen some lore spells changed to require school pips. Why was this change made?
A: In general, Lore spells were overpowered relative to other spells in the same Rank. For the most part, the Spells were around 1 point of value too high. It made sense to ask the player to spend a School Pip for that extra value.
Q: How will this change impact PvE in lower levels? A lot of people have farmed or bought AOE spells like Ratatoskr & Ship of Fools to use for lower levels so wouldn’t this hinder them? Could we see alternative 4 pip AOEs trainable for life and death to be standardized like the rank 7 AOEs?
A: In those cases, we decided to give players access to an Archmastery Jewel in Wizard City, so that once players have access to Jewel slots, then they should have access to Archmastery ahead of Level 50 (the point at which it becomes a base stat).
Q: Most lore spells have one Spellement upgrade path. Are there any plans to add more paths to these spells while they are being audited?
A: There are no current plans to modify the Spellement paths for the Lore spells beyond what happens during this phase of the audit.
Treasure and Item Cards
Q: Will item cards and treasure cards be changed to reflect these audits? Regular spells, Lore spells, shadow spells?
A: For Lore spells, the purpose of requiring the School Pip was to ask the player for some investment into the Archmastery system in order to get the higher value that Lore spells represented, so naturally it made sense to extend this to item cards and TCs. With respect to other changes, we will take it on a case-by-case basis.
Q: Will any TCs be changed at the same time as the spell audits or what will the timeframe look like for those if any changes are made.
A: Also taken on a case-by-case basis. Among the factors that would impact our decision is whether the TC has a direct “base” spell analog, how the TC is acquired, how disruptive the TC is to various play experiences from our Design perspective, and of course how disruptive any change might be from the players’ perspective. Sometimes an audit is necessary, from a rebalance to a redesign, sometimes it might be simpler for us to restrict a TC to Classic-only, and in some rare cases the best answer might be to retire the TC entirely.
Q: Given that another audit and TC adjustments typically mean new copies of TCs, has there been any consideration for improving TC space? Players were very adamant about this topic regarding the audit and while some concerns start to escape the scope of this Q&A, I do agree that it could create more issues with our already limited space. Several players made the case for this question, and I can elaborate further if deemed relevant to this discussion.
A: Players have expressed some concerns to us that warrant careful consideration – for example, the need to stockpile large numbers of TCs for Deckathalon or PvP – but there may be better ways to address that problem that don’t simply lead to further hoarding of TCs, which are meant to be a consumable resource.
Q: Why are shadow spells being looked at again?
A: Because we want to use the single damage table, some of the spells needed to be adjusted accordingly. Also, we wanted to take this opportunity to either make slight modifications to the spell to make it fit better into the Advanced Combat experience or redesign the spell entirely if we feel it had fallen out of favor.
Q: After shadow spells were audited the last time and shadow rating was adjusted for pve, shadow spells have become much less reliable for the pve experience. Will shadow pip gain be looked at again with any changes to shadow spell balancing?
A: As part of the overall combat review, you can expect us to reexamine the Shadow Pip system. We don’t expect this to happen soon, but it should happen eventually.
Q: During the 11/15/2022 test realm patch all enchant spells were banned from pvp. What is the reason for this and why were they deemed a problem?
A: In general, we will remove a category of spells if we aren’t comfortable with our understanding of its place in the balance of Advanced Combat. We feel the enchantment system and card values need to be reevaluated entirely, and as a result, we decided we should pull those spells in general.
Q: Minions have been mentioned here and there, can we expect these spells to be audited as well? Compared with all the other spells being audited during the fall update, are they a current priority or will they be in a separate audit.
A: Yes, Minions are going to be audited also. Once we finish the first pass on the seven core schools, then Minions are next up.
Q: With Rhoshambo in pvp a lot of legacy spells conflict with what schools should be doing. A good example of this is myth’s Shift spell that sends a dot back to an opponent. This will usually counter fire wizards, the dot school, but fire is supposed to counter myth. Has there been any consideration to ban these legacy spells or address them during the audit?
A: We are addressing them on a case-by-case basis. In some cases, we need to bolster the core school’s spell effect, like we did with DOTs and Fire. Myth has Shift, but it would take two Shifts to counter one of Fire’s innately protected DOTs. Meanwhile, it remains effective against Frostbite or Poison, which we feel is fine, since those schools shouldn’t rely on DOTs anyway.
Q: Along that line of thinking, most spellemented spells appear to have a PVE and a PVP path. Has there been any consideration to use these paths to give pve players the spells without changing the base spells? The pve paths can be banned from pvp and then give pvp players their own version of the spell that both fits Rhoshambo and can be balanced around pvp. Depending on how far the audit goes there are some contenders for this type of change in the Arc 2 spell list. Efreet, Leviathan, and Snow Angel, to name a few. Is there any merit to that idea?
A: Ideally, we can keep the spells unified between Classic and Advanced Combat, so that will be our initial goal. In the case where the differences can’t be reconciled, then one path can be restricted to Classic Only. We haven’t begun looking at Arc 2, but it is a tool available to us to bring the library into balance.
(Author’s note: Preliminary audits such as Deer Knight, Reindeer Knight, Grendel’s Amends, and other lore spells appear to have taken this approach.)
Q: Can we expect each school to have at least one spell with utilities that correspond to their secondary, tertiary, and opposite Rhoshambo synergies?
A: Not for opposites, but our goal is to strengthen the synergies between neighboring schools. We do track these connections and try to keep them in parity, but some schools have more design space available than others. The opposites won’t have any material connection to the primary from a spell effect standpoint because the advantage you have partnering with opposites is to enable you to counter more schools, and the disadvantage is having fewer spell synergies to leverage.
Q: Fire spells got a strong rework geared towards their identity, DOTs. Possibly even too centric on this identity. Will we see this happen for all schools going forward with the audits? Will Myth see a lot more minion or trap synergy for example? Myth might be the most diverse school utility wise if not Balance so it would be interesting to see its identity narrowed down to fit Rhoshambo. I do believe they have a counter for almost every hanging effect in the game.
A: Part of this combat review is to bring more clarity and strength to a school’s core identity. You should expect that in all the schools. Whether or not we go too far or not far enough will depend on what you all think about them! This is an iterative process, so we will be watching streams and talking to the community about the changes. We can then respond to feedback about adding synergies when there are too few and removing some when there are too many.
That concludes the Q&A. Lots of changes are happening in the game and we appreciate the developers taking the time to explain some of the decisions behind the Spell Audit. Multiple spells had adjustments during Test Realm so it’s great to see that the devs are continuously making adjustments as feedback rolls in. While we still have 4 other schools that have yet to be audited, this insight should help players predict what changes we might see next.
What do you think about the Spell Audit? Let us know in the comments down below!