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The Broken Mold- How to Thrive as Balance in the New Paradigms

The Broken Mold- How to Thrive as Balance in the New Paradigms

Oct 1, 2012

What is this thread? Well in a nutshell it is a continuation of Wini’s Balance: Advanced Tips and Tricks. I’m just providing an updated version (as Wini hasn’t been around for awhile to update it :() for Cl and above. There will be some very basic balance info in the thread but I hope to spend most of the thread one the new stuff :). Warning you now, I’m a goof ball and it will show through the guide. Let’s get started.

First let’s talk about how pve has changed in the last two year.

  • Critical and Block has added an element of luck to damage output. When fighting mobs and bosses you either have to invest in some block or keep your health high enough to absorb a critical. On the other hand having a high critical rate can easily allow for round one and round two kills, even on mobs with higher health. This is simply an element of luck that you have to learn to deal with.
  • Armor piercing is an attempt to directly offset high resistance. This stat is mostly for pvp at the moment. The only school that really gains from this stat in pve is balance when fighting balance bosses (more about this later).
There is no ‘best gear set’ every 5 levels. While there are some sets like Water Works that stand a cut above the others, there is far more choice on how to equip your wizard. Every school now has access to both power pip and accuracy boosting gear. The old power pip vs acc school conventions have mostly gone out the window.
  • Mobs and bosses no longer hit with multiple schools. While this makes it easier to shield against them it also means you need to shield more often. Why? They also have higher starting pips, power pip%, and they actually use the power pips. The best thing you can do about this paradigm shift is to train dual shields. Having a 70% shield against a boss is a huge advantage.
  • Sun spells- The damage enchantment line of the sun school has change the rules of efficiency in the game. Often it is faster to have many wizards attacking with smaller enchanted attacks than to buff up one big spell. This is especially true in mob battles. Garg or colossal small aoes can quickly rip a group of mobs to shreds. Add in a critical and…well you can finish that sentence.
Soloing the last world in the game is becoming less and less practical.

  • The damage defense spiral- Higher damage output means you have to spend more time playing defense. The more time spent on defense the longer battles drag on, which means taking more damage. The easiest way to minimize this is to change the number of occupants. Either take out one of them quickly, or bring a friend.
  • More complex boss battles and instances- Bosses like Belloq and instances like Mirror Lake, while yes they can be soloed, doing so is less practical. This seems to be the trend in Avalon as well.

The interesting thing is the death of soloing is actually the greatest boon to balance. The reason why can be found in the school description:

The Balance School will train its student wizards to be effective in group play. Balance Wizards are most effective in group play because they have the ability to buff other players as well as themselves. Although effective in group-play, they can still sufficiently play alone. They have a little bit of everything, which allows them to surpass most monster resistances, heal themselves a little bit, and buff players.

Before looking into this further into this there is one concept that you must understand.

Balance does not have true strengths and weaknesses; it has double edged swords.

Mastering balance means learning how to turn these traits to your favor.

First double edge sword- The universal buff system. One of the first things you will notice about balance is our buffs and debuffs are universal or tri school.

  • Any spell breaks universal buffs
    • This fact gives balance wizards a ton of flexibility in group play and is a very large part of balance’s support function (the tri spells don’t hurt either)
    • Also means you can’t get ride of a debuff like weakness or tower shield without breaking your buffs.
  • There are fewer buffs and fewer debuffs that work with balance spells
    • Both the buffs and debuffs tend to be weaker than their school specific counter parts.

Now that being said, there are more than enough universal buffs in the game for soloing in pve; you might have to work a bit harder to get them though:

  • Feint- This is the biggest buff for balance spells out there. Casting feints from different sources (aka ‘stacking’ feints) is the best way to get the high hits from Judgement. Where do you get these feints? Glad you ask! (actually I have no idea if you did or not but I’m going with it anyway! :P)
    • Trained feint- cost 7 training point, check nightside
    • Item feint- best source is the level 50 amulet Jewel of the Feint (very aptly named I must say!)
    • Yes there is tc feint…but I usually don’t like using treasure cards but it is an option.
    • Pet feint- This is a talent you can hatch for. Though you can get it as the natural card on some pets, it’s better to use a dragon blade pet with the talent. Take the pet a step further and you get a…wait for it…
  • Mascot pet! What is a mascot pet? Very simply a dragon blade pet with the following talents-
    • Feinting spell- adds one pet feint to your deck
    • Hexster- adds one pet hex to your deck
    • Curse Giver- adds one pet curse to your deck
    • Coming soon! Balanceblade- adds one pet balance blade to your deck.
    • The best part about the pet spells is they are often immune to boss cheats and yes they stack with trained item, and tc versions of the spells.
  • Witches Star amulet and level 56 crafted gear-
    • The Witches Star amulet gives both an item balance blade and item hex. This is a common drop from the brothers in Nastrod. Defiantly worth farming for. Note- sadly you do have to pick and choose between Jewel of the Feint and this amulet :(. Your call.
    • The level 56 crafted hat also provides item balance blade (note- the blade from the hat does not with the one from the Witches Star). The level 56 crafted robe gives the item hex. Both require you to give up some resist when compared to waterworks gear.
Second double edged sword- Judgement. Judgement, even 52 levels later, is still one of our most useful spells. However misusing her is still an easy way to get in over your head. This is because she is an x pip spell:

  • This gives us a massive amount of flexibility to gauge how much damage we do. One spell can be used for little single hits, massive ones, and everything in between. It just depends on how much you buff and how many pips you save up.
  • On the other hand, she will always leave you pip less after casting her…. You have to think a few rounds ahead. If you cast judgement without enough of a health buffer, don’t be surprised if the other enemy makes you a bobble head.
  • Small deck, small deck, small deck. We can use power pips with reshuffle so there is no reason what so ever to have a large deck. You need to have the buff you need when you need it and judgement in hand when you have just enough to knock out your opponent.

Tips-

  • Use a calculator! Yes I know this seems silly and time consuming but it may save you. The goal with Judgement is to hit just enough to knock out the enemy. Overkill means you will have to spend more time building up for the next Judgement.
  • Heal before you hit if you need to. It is often better to spend a few pips to keep your health high rather than to let your health get low and then have no pips left after judgement. The next double edge sword actually makes this more practical than you would think….
Third double edged sword- Healing and Availing Hands. Balance does have heals natural to the school, however both are heal over time. What does this mean for balance?:

  • The hands spells can keep you alive. Since it takes a few turns to get all the health out of it, you can cast it at about 2/3rds health and it will keep healing you and keep your health near that 2/3rds level even after the next attack.
  • It is much easier to avoid over healing. This is especially important with healing teammates with low base health. Yes a satyr can produce a massive heal right away but…if your friend only has 2.5k health…how much of that 2k heal (assuming high healing boost) is going to be used and how much is just wasted? To really get the max out of that spell you have to wait until your friend is almost dead, and that just isn’t very nice. The hands on the other hand (see what I did there?) again can be casted before they are fully needed and keep your friend alive through more hits. This way you often won’t have to heal them again very soon.
  • It isn’t very effective in an emergency. If you let your health get too low, don’t expect these spells to save you. Usually when you use a hands spell (assuming a constant stream of attacks from the mobs or boss) your health will drop more then climb back up to between one and two ticks above where you started. You have to give room for the drop.

Tips-

  • Again, tip your hand at 2/3rds (1/2 at the lowest).
  • Outgoing and incoming healing boost doesn’t hurt. With the Cosmic Kris and Morgantine Signet will boost availing hands to about 500 healing per round.
  • If you are using it on a teammate try to go first. If you are before your friend in the battle the first tick will go the same turn you use it.

If used properly, availing hands is one of the best heals in the game (and since it’s pip cost is an even 4 I would argue it is the best single target heal in game). Availing is the greatest boost balance has had to soloing in a while and has become my favorite balance spell.

Forth double edged sword- Off school damage attack spells instead of a prism. All the other schools have a trap called a prism (and now the mass prisms) that allow them to convert their school to their opposite school. We however are the rebels. Break all the conventions! Since we don’t have an opposite school, we can’t have a standard prism. Instead we deal off school damage with three spells, spectral blast, hydra, and chimera.

  • Since the prisms are built into the spells, we never have to cast one. This saves us a round over the other schools and simplifies our deck set ups (no discarding frantically to find the prism for us)
  • The built in prisms also mean we can’t cast one ‘under a shield’ (before the shield is cast) in order to bypass it.
  • The only spells we have to deal with in pve, at least half of the other school have to deal with as well and they are only 50%. (Balance bosses tend to just annoy everyone, hehehe)
  • We have two extra buffs for each these spells, the tri-blades and traps. Spec can even double dip from them.

Tips:

  • Hit early and often with spec, or build up a massive chimera.
  • Infallible (piercing and acc boosting aura) goes a long way.
  • Use da hands! Yes these battles will take longer so you should expect to heal some.
  • What, you were expecting this to be easy? Your playing an advance school of magic, it isn’t suppose to be easy ;).
Other topics

Deck tips:

  • Again…small deck, small deck, small deck.
  • Learn to adjust you deck based on who you are fighting, especially shields.
  • At the minimum you should have one deck for mobs (starter is more than enough) and one for bosses. More decks (within reason) will save time before battles swapping out cards.

Mob Tactics (solo):

  • Spamming sand storm- Pack your biggest sun enchantment, sandstorm, and balance blades (along with reshuffle and one copy of other spells you would like).
  • Time for some Ra power! (yes I just went there)- Pack multi types of balance blade (trained, item, dragon blade from pet…). Cast them and then an enchanted Ra.
  • For balance mobs- Just add infallible. Most balance mobs have 50% resist to balance or less. Trying to hit them one at a time isn’t practical. The armor piercing goes a long way here.
  • Example deck: (note, it is best to replace a balance blade with a universal blade from pet or amulet)

Boss Tactics (solo):

  • For most bosses, double judge is the fastest way. Buff then judge the minion and repeat for the boss. Shield and heal when needed. Example deck below:

  • For balance bosses, your call. You have two major options, spec spam, or a well buffed chimera. Either way throwing in infallible (seriously, just train the spell, it is worth the point) is a huge help as you will likely be hitting through the tri shields.

Other topics cont.

Team guidelines and tips: If soloing is a science, group play is an art. What you do is dependent on how your teammates play. How to excel in group play is something that can only be learned through experience so I really can’t tell you the best way. I can pass alone some tips I have found helpful though.

  • When fighting mobs, everyone hits (life being the only possible exception as they have group heal spells). The two primary tactics are shown by the M4H here
  • Play to the opposite of your teammates:Have fun with it. You don’t have to be serious all the time. A little humor goes a long way in making those battles fly by. Groups that are all business get boring… fast…
    • In general, you should spend more time supporting the high damage but more fragile schools, storm, fire, and myth. Let the high damage wizard deal high damage. Focus on buffing them and keeping them alive.
    • When with the tanking schools add to the damage. That ice, life, or death wizard isn’t going to die easily but will also have trouble one hitting. Often it is best for everyone to add to the damage instead of trying to have one hammer in these situations.
    • Remember you have far more flexibility than your teammate(s) so it is usually on the balance wizard to adapt to what the other player(s) can and can’t do.

Spell notes- these are spells that can be very powerful if used correctly but are situational:

  • Donate Power– By BWildheart, though his tips are old, the man was a prophet and his tactics and reasoning with slight modifications like adding sun spells still hold true.
  • Mana Burn- The pve use of this spell is simple, sink the pips of that mob or boss who likes to play spells that remove your buffs (levy, quake). This gives you a few turns to buff without worrying about losing them.
  • Blade Storm- In many battles this spell isn’t worth the bother as there are so many other things balance can do with that pip. In most cases you are better off spending the pip on a feint, or casting a zero pip to build up for something else. The main uses for it are:Tri-Spears- Still haven’t given them enough testing to recommend my self, though stacking elemental spear as part of a spec combo can’t hurt. One balance wizard does seem to like them a lot.
    • When you need to buff multiple people in one round. Example: you have three friends all attacking at once and you aren’t going to have enough pips to join in (an enchanted sandstorm often has a greater effect than a blade storm).
    • When you need just 20% extra to one hit.
    • When you have nothing better to cast.

Training points– These are just the basics for pve.

  • Train the sun damage enchantment line
    • strong, giant, monstrous, gargantuan, and colossal.
  • Again train the sun damage enchantment line.Ice to tower- again a must if you want to shield balance damage
    • This is the biggest boost to damage any school has gotten and it is a MUST train for the mob tactics
  • Death to feint- This gives you a version of feint that you can always put in your deck plus stacking it with the other versions is fun (*evil laugh*)
  • Optional:
    • Fire to it’s dual shield. This also gives you fire elf which is a great dot for clearing tower shields.
    • Life to it’s dual shield (replace with myth’s if you train it for pvp, life’s is just cheaper tp wise).
    • These will give you 70% shields to every school, a very big advantage in pve.

Pvp resources:

As you can probably tell by now this is a pve guide though I don’t think pvp should be left out. Balance pvp is just one of those topics that deserves it’s own thread(s) so I’ll add links to them as you all bring them to my attention (hint hint)

Final words

If you really wish to master balance you can’t be a one trick pony. Play the other schools, play many of the other schools, and play them as often if not more often than balance. The two best ways to really master balance in pve are to dual account and constantly swap between wizards of different type.

The reason for dual accounting is simple, when you play multiple wizards at a time you get a ton of practice in group play without really trying. The reason for swapping wizards often isn’t so obvious, until you do it. Every school plays differently so when you change wizards you also have to change tactics. This makes your mind more flexible and you are able to look at every school with a more complete perspective. That flexibility is the Balance School’s true strength.

In other words, we broke the mold, and we are stronger because of it.