Bringing Newbies Back to PvP: Part 1

Bringing Newbies Back to PvP

Bringing Newbies Back to PvP: Part 1

Part 1: What Happened?

As many people have noticed, PvP is not the same as it used to be. The player population has declined significantly and less and less PvP matches are being played. It has gotten so bad that KI is actually making a dedicated effort to revive PvP, something that tells us that they’ve realized how much potential money they stand to lose from a failed PvP system. While there are many reasons the arena is the way it is today — one of the biggest factors is the disappearance of the new player (Newbies). This series of articles will explore the causes for this disappearance, how we can bring new players back to PvP and why a healthy newbie population is good for the game.

What Happened to the Newbies?

A quick look at the message boards, the forums or even in game will tell you that lots of new players are still playing the game — at least in PvE. So why aren’t they joining PvP? There are a number of factors.


This has been a complaint since almost the dawn of PvP but it is still just as valid as it once was. Players who set foot in the arena will likely encounter some form of toxicity. Toxicity takes many forms in the arena. It can take the form of insults or taunts. Or it can take the form of constant harassment or deriding a player’s chosen playstyle. It can revolve around something as small as looking down on someone for having a failed pet or imperfect gear. In the worst case scenarios, the toxicity can devolve into racial slurs, threats and emotional abuse.

While many with experience in competitive games outside of wiz know that this toxicity is unfortunately par for the course, it comes as a massive culture shock to the player base of Wizard101 (which is made of newer players and players not familiar with the competitive mmo scene). Many of these players use Wizard101 as a way to relax and de-stress. As such, the stress created by a toxic arena environment runs counter to many of these players’ reasons for playing wiz in the first place. Thus, many of these players will leave PvP as soon as they encounter this type of toxicity or avoid PvP from the start.

Consequences of toxicity

  • Deters PvE players
  • Deters new players at all level ranges
  • Leads even experienced players to quit PvP


Barrier To Entry

The barrier to entry refers to all the busywork that must be done before a player can even set foot in the arena. It refers to the gear you must acquire, the pet you must train, the spells you must craft, the jewels you must acquire etc. I have previously written in detail about the barrier to entry and ways to alleviate it. KI has addressed the scenario to an extent with the addition of a level 50 elixir and decent max lvl wands available via crafting.

However, the sheer amount of work necessary to become battle ready deters may players from even setting foot in the arena in the first place. Other motivated players may take months acquiring all the prerequisites by which time the meta may have changed, a new world may have been released etc. This usually means that the player will have to hunt for new items, new pet talents and the like which can be incredibly de-motivating. The barrier to entry is the gift that keeps on giving and it will continue to become more and more pronounced as the game expands.

Consequences of the Barrier to Entry

  • Deters max level players from participating
  • Delays motivated players from joining PvP
  • Exhausts players every meta shift (they have to hunt for new meta effective gear, design new pets etc)


Inequitable Gear

The inequitable gear problem refers to the massive stat advantages commander gear gives compared to any other acquired gear at the lower level. As a result, new players attempting to enter low level-magus PvP  are put at a humongous statistical disadvantage. This disadvantage remains even after a new age rank reset, as commander gear requires a commander rank to purchase but can be equipped by any rank. This means that at all times a new player coming into PvP at a lower level is going against a vast experience gap AND a vast equipment gap.

Consequences of Inequitable Gear

  • Deters low level and mid level wizards from joining PvP
  • Puts newbies at a massive stat disadvantage even after a PvP Age reset
  • Prevents newbies from acquiring the very gear they need to be competitive


Matchmaking System

Kingsisle’s matchmaking system has always had flaws and this age is no exception. Thanks to a lower player populationBringing Newbies Back to PvP: Part 1 and the algorithms of the matchmaking system- players with vast level and rank disparities often end up getting matched. A rank 0 lvl 120 vs a rank 2000 lvl 50 is sadly not an uncommon occurrence. This match-up is unfair to both parties but especially to the lvl 120 rank 0 wizard. Why? Simply, that wizard has nowhere near the vast experience that the level 50 overlord has, consequently being summarily dispatched. In these matches it is a lose-lose scenario for the inexperienced level 120.

Oftentimes the level 120 will endure taunts and jeers from the opponents and spectators who note the massive level disparity. If the inexperienced 120 wins (a rare occurrence), the level 50 will blame the victory on rng or shadow magic. If the 120 loses he/she is taunted for losing a match against a wizard more than 50 levels below.  This kind of match-up is very prevalent and is the main reason many level 50’s can obtain 2000+ rank. They simply “farm” the high level-low ranked players to quickly and consistently gain rank. As can be imagined, losing consistently to lower level wizards is incredibly demoralizing and turns many inexperienced high levels away from the arena for good.

Consequences of the Matchmaking System

  • Creates unfair match-ups for both sides
  • Deters and demoralizes new, max level PvPers
  • Prevents max level newbies from learning strategies applicable to their level range


Interview with Vanessa Mythdust

Recently, Vanessa Mythdust (PvE and Pet Derby extraordinaire) decided to give max level PvP a try for the first time. I was fortunate enough to act as her mentor for her first time through PvP. Vanessa was able to give us an interview offering her unique perspective on what it was like being a newbie entering PvP.

Eric Stormbringer- What motivated you to give PvP a try?

Vanessa Mythdust- I decided to give PvP a try in hopes of earning a PvP Warlord badge to match my Pet Warlord one. In the process, I also hoped to better understand the system and challenge myself in a different type of atmosphere. 


Eric Stormbringer- You started PvP relatively late in your career. Why did you wait to start?

Vanessa Mythdust-  There are 2 reasons why I decided to start late. The first is that I was already involved in so many different aspects of the community. Between moderating, running derby tournaments, and helping people quest, I didn’t know if I could take on another KI hobby. So, I only decided to dip my feet in when things started to calm down for me. The other reason was PvP’s “toxic” reputation. The PvP community isn’t known for being a welcoming one, so I will admit that was somewhat of a turnoff for me.


Eric Stormbringer- What did you do to prepare for PvP? How long did it take?

Vanessa Mythdust-  To prepare for PvP, I tried to read a lot of guides. The problem was, I was so overwhelmed by all the information available to me. There were so many guides and different dueling suggestions that it was hard to narrow down what was useful, what was outdated, and what might actually work in the game’s current state. I also researched gear (with your help) and attempted to make my first PvP pet. I’d say total prep was a week or two. 
Eric Stormbringer-  Describe your impression of PvP before you decided to try and after your first match.
Vanessa Mythdust-  I was very intimidated by PvP before I started. I fully expected to run into trolls and bullies during my matches and thought that might take the fun out of it. I also lacked confidence and fully expected to get blown out of the water. I knew how serious some people took PvP. I understand that getting good at PvP takes practice and experience, but there was already this mentality of “I’m probably going to lose a lot of rank before I gain any.” I don’t remember exactly how my first match went, but I don’t think my feelings immediately changed after it. Whether it went well or not, I understood it was just one match. I wasn’t going to sway that easily only after one experience. 
Eric Stormbringer- Describe your thoughts after your first few matches. Anything jumped out at you about what PvP would take?
Vanessa Mythdust-  After my first few matches, I did start to feel a little more comfortable. I was still losing, but I thought I was improving from match to match. I immediately started to realize how fast I needed to make deck decisions. As someone who has a tendency to hold onto my cards until later (from PvE), I ran into some trouble with that. To succeed in PvP, I would need to have a good grasp on when I needed certain cards and how to get them. I think you referred to that as tempo. Although I was fine in the gear and pet department, it became clear that it would be hard for someone to compete without the “best of the best.” A lot of my opponents had fantastic builds. 
Eric Stormbringer- How difficult were your PvP marches compared to PvE battles?
Vanessa Mythdust-  Much more difficult! PvE matches are systematic. There’s a plan, and as long as you stick to it, you shouldn’t have a problem. You can also have smaller decks in PvE so it’s pretty easy to get what you want when you want it. However, my PvP deck was filled to the brim and although I had a basic plan, it frequently went out the window as soon as things weren’t going in my favor. As a result, I often went into “panic mode.” There’s just a lot more pressure in PvP matches and I would need to gain more experience in order to make better battle decisions there.
Eric Stormbringer- Was having a mentor a negative or positive influence on your PvP outcome?
Vanessa Mythdust- Definitely positive! Having an experienced duelist teach me tips and tricks was truly invaluable. There are just some things that a written guide can’t offer — and one of them is seeing a successful duelist do their thing right in front of me. In fact, sometimes watching you duel gave me a better idea of what I needed to do. Your coaching during my matches acted as a “step by step” and I appreciated that it was tailored specifically to me. 
Eric Stormbringer- On a scale of 1-10 (1 being the easiest and 10 the most difficult) how hard do you think it is for a newcomer to be successful at PvP?
Vanessa Mythdust- I’d say a 9. Not impossible, but a newcomer would certainly need to learn and adapt quickly in order to succeed. 
Eric Stormbringer- What are some recommendations you have for new players intending to join PvP?
Vanessa Mythdust- Research and reach out. Gain as much knowledge as you can before entering the arena. Watch videos and see what works for other people. Don’t be afraid to ask experienced duelists for advice or maybe seek a mentor of your own. Nobody knows the arena like they do, so take what they have to say to heart. 
Eric Stormbringer- What would be some suggestions for KI to make the newbie PvP experience a better one?
Vanessa Mythdust-  Max level PvP (which is what I did) is very reliant on shadow pips. I know that’s a big thing they’re pushing lately, but that ultimately causes PvP matches to require luck to win. I’d like to see some sort of balance there. Something that shifts more towards skill. However, that’s more of a general PvP thing. To be honest, I feel like there isn’t much more KI can do to help newbies feel welcome. There’s already a way to turn off battle chat, so at least toxicity can be ignored. The PvP community on the other hand, can play a much bigger role. It’d be nice if duelists took more time to help new players and give encouragement. It’d make them feel less alone and more likely to stick with it.

What Are Your Thoughts on the Declining Newbie Population in the Arena? Let us Know in the Comments Below!

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  • Brandon OwlSword

    Great article. I just wouldn’t include the question about having a mentor as it seems to have an obvious bias there. Just my opinion though.

    • D P

      Well yes anyone who has a mentor is already going to be ahead of the newbie curve, I think it is something we should encourage in the community. Sadly many just see it as teaching the competition as opposed to having better, more competitive matches. I always feel guilty when I beat someone who is obviously unprepared and would much prefer opponents at or above my own skill level. Its the well earned victory that I enjoy.

    • Eric Stormbringer

      The mentor question segways into the next part of the series but ty for the feedback!

      • D P

        I am kinda jealous 🙂

  • 19

    for me the biggest deterrent is rng and deck setup. both are quite hard to overcome. i already have the stats to succeed, but i dont know how to set up a deck well, and that combined with rng means that i am pretty much quitting ranked for now. not to mention that at max, your school is also a huge advantage.

    • D P

      Guess wordpress did not like my link There is an article on deck segregation and one are card cycling that may help you out, just search above, pretty sure both are by Eric Stormbringer

      • 19

        i have read those articles already. They don’t help me too much. I still do not understand how to build a deck setup that works really well.

        • D P

          what school and level are you? What I usually do is build a deck and get a friend to help by going into a practice match, then I can see what is working and what is not and adjust accordingly. Then I will go into ranked and after every match analyze what worked what didnt etc.
          The thing with decks is they need to evolve as you gain rank, so it is not a once and done thing nor is it a one size fits all scenario.
          Much is dependent on your playstyle, so someone can give you a baseline to start off but you will still need to adjust it to fit your specific needs.

          • 19

            i have a max death and max storm. on my death, i try to go for blade stack strat, but it never works well in this meta, where everyone spams until you die. on my storm, i go for spam strat, since i really dont know of any others lol. again, doesnt work very well, mainly cause the health is so low.

          • Sierra

            Well congrats on picking the 2 most difficult schools to pvp on at max level in 1 v 1 🙂
            I personally have not tried death yet, but did decide to try storm this age (Eric claims we are now mid-tier lol)

            As a storm you really need to come up with a kill solution fast as you have no health buffer to work with (healing current also hates me so)
            My basic deck setup is much like that segregation article, defensive/tools in main and pre-enchanted hits in the side. I do not fill up my deck, unless I face an angel I really do not need many cards

            Always, always shrike if you are second, with people pulling volcanics out of thin air you will never be able to keep up with the shields, I put 5 in my deck just to remind me I should shrike! Speaking of shields you should strive to get the most pierce you can, so for sure do tournaments until you can get the duelist ring!

            Other than that discard liberally if need be, no time to mess around really.

            I personally am not doing great at it, but I do win more than I lose so not horrible, but certainly going to take a lot of effort to get to warlord!

            If all else fails, insane bolt, sometimes it really is your only option!

          • 19

            storm is not as bad as death right now. i only carry one shrike, cause i have 51 pierce with ghulture boots, and 57 pierce with malistaire. right now, idk which one i should use. and i will try segregating the deck a little more.

          • Sierra

            When you are second shrike is your best friend, I do not know how you keep up with the shields, but with shrike I can pretty much ignore them
            I actually use the crafted arcanum wand for the extra damage and i have a 2% pierce mount so I think overall I have 48%. Malistare wand would get me more pirece but not sure it is worth the damage loss overall.

          • 19

            i personally prefer dm wand because ione wand gives barely any critical, and no block. i like having both, and in pvp, 7 pierce is only a little less powerful than 18 damage.

          • Sierra

            Well get out there and slay!

          • SuperToare

            Actually 1 pierce is equal to 4 damage so 7×4 is 28 meaning 7 pierce is more than 18 damage.

      • Mora Misthead

        Let’s see if I have more luck with posting links….

        I have no clue why it doesn’t always work.

  • D P

    Having Eric for a mentor puts you about 1,000 steps ahead of anyone else so not sure it is a fair assessment of truly being a newbie. Seriously though, we need more players like him who are willing to help and not just deride people for simple mistakes, but that is all part of the toxicity. You will occasionally run across those who will help, you just have to be on the look out! How about an adopt a newbie program!

    I think KI could help newbies by perhaps having an intro period, say the first 50 matches you get people who have 50 or less matches also ( a newbie bracket per se). Not perfect, as the other person may be pro at another school and have 1000 matches under their belt in reality, but can it hurt? Not sure this is possible with the current population however, waiting over 30 minutes for a match is going to be discouraging also.

    • Aaron S.

      Haha Eric OP

  • wizhead #429879

    RNG of shadow pips ruins max level PvP therefore it will never be balanced. Only 3 schools are the most feared at max level and everyone and their momma has a ward pet against them.

    The commander gear and warlord gear SHOULD be rank restricted upon wearing them. Just like how a Magus wizard can’t wear Darkmoor Gear. A private should not be able to wear commander or warlord gear.

    The toxic players is a given in any competetive environment. Honestly, when I lose fairly I’m like “ok man gg” but when I lose to an RNG shadow pip, you bet i’m gonna cuss and harraass my opponent!! haha

    • D P

      Blame KI not the player, it could just as well have been you who got the good rng.

      • Blaze MeOut

        I tend to disagree with the shadow pip. Majority of the stats in wiz literally run on RNG, so complaining about luck is useless because the thing about RNG is it was predetermined anyways and its not random in a computer simulation. Yes, shadow pips introduced many new problems in wiz, but have you pvp’d before it was introduced? Shadow spells fixed a ton of problems that would have otherwise resulted in 4-12 hour matches at max level. You think kingsisle is gonna introduce 11 pip spells with mana burn and jade builds without shadow? It would be more broken without shadow spells right now to be honest. Wiz is not meant to be a serious professional level adult combat mmo; its literally just a light hearted card game for family and kids. I expect matches to be around 15-30 minutes, or else its too long for just drawing cards.
        Shadow spells were inevitable no matter how you look at it. Kingsisle only originally accounted for stats and utilities of each school up to only lvl 50 before they launched wizard101 live. Stats have been imbalanced since lvl 60, and now we are lvl 120. All these imbalances accumulated into a unreturnable pvp system. All kingsisle can do right now is amend it, but they can’t fix it correctly. This stuff is hard for any mmo, so I am glad they are least trying to fix it now. Stats gotten to extremes that kingsisle never could imagine wizard101 would even get this far. Like when lvl 50 was max, who would have imagined its possible to get 150% damage, 10K health, or 51% pierce on you gear?

        • Jeremy Ravenhunter

          Well said!

  • devin s

    incorporate turn based pvp into ranked matches not only tournaments or give the players the option to participate in “regular” ranked match or “turn based” ranked match.

    • Sierra

      I agree with implementing turn based, but I think it should be the only option, we do not have enough of a population to split up like that!
      Also, most of the spell you are thinking of limiting will have the effect greatly reduced just by being turn based so not sure that part is necessary!

  • James Earthwalker

    Vanessa’s got me thinking… how about we get a PET DERBY guide?

    • Sierra

      The couple of times I attempted to try derby just to finish my badge collection there was no a soul around to join a match!

    • Jeremy Ravenhunter

      To be completely honest, i doubt we posses enough knowledge to write PvP the Pet Derby guide 🙂

  • D P

    I would like to propose muting spectators, with the advent of chat channels they could always join that if they want to talk among themselves, this would greatly reduce the toxicity in the arena. I see no valid reason that spectators need to talk at all during other peoples matches.

  • sonicflare9

    New boss idea ice and myth 112500 health gains 3 pips per turn 85% power pip chance 50% shadow pip chance 33% pierce 25% damage

    Cheats steals all stun blocks from players every 4 turns
    Stuns all players 2 turns every 5 turns
    Every 3 turns he can steal a shadow pip from the sun spot

    drops ice regeants and myth reagents
    Amulet that gives 180 health and 17% pierce 3 cards threefold fever
    Some myth and ice pets

  • sonicflare9

    New boss idea storm and death 79800 health 80% damage 65% pierce 55% power pip 33% shadow pip

    Cheats puts doom and gloom up first turn and every 10 turns after
    Every player that uses a blade gets storm owl
    Every 5 turns this boss uses healing current
    Every 7 turns he uses a 85% stormblade anyone who steals the blade gets hit with rusalka wrath
    Every 3 turns he uses scarecrow
    When this boss reaches 50% health every 4 turns he uses storm lord

  • sonicflare9

    New boss idea fire and life 110000 health 60% damage 45% pierce 70% power pip chance 38% shadow pip

    Every 4 turns he can steal all blades from players
    Every 6 turns this boss uses dryad doesnt use pips
    Every 2 turns he uses raging bull
    Every 7 turns he uses smoke screen
    Every time a player fizzles they get hit with fire from above

    • Sierra

      Is there any particular reason you are posting these ideas here?

      • sonicflare9

        vvant people to look at it

  • Noah Thunder

    Regarding the part of toxicity, I can confidently say that it’s the biggest issue with PvP right now. From a new player’s perspective, there’s no doubt that it turns them off from the idea of being a competitive player. The key to growing a competitive community is to be inviting and willing to guide the newer players, rather than shaming them for having “bad stats” or “not playing good”. I’ve been on this game for almost its entire lifespan, and it was never this bad. Sure, there were rude players every now and then, but it wasn’t as common. Now, there’s a swarm of toxic players who will do their very best to make you feel irrelevant and useless. I used to enjoy PvP, but now I can’t step foot into the Arena without feeling like I’m going to be harassed. Wizard101 is in heavy need of moderation.

    • Sierra

      What do you think about muting specators in the arena as a help for this? They can have a chat channel and be as toxic as they like lol!

  • Sierra

    ” I’d say total prep was a week or two. ” This could be misleading I am sure as part as Mercs she already had the majority of gear she needed to start no?

  • FuffyRuff

    I would like it if even if you talk, spectators can’t view the people who are in the duel their stats so it can prevent making fun of them, giving their friend or who ever the advantage to know what they should do after hearing what their stats are etc, till the match ends.

    When the match ends I think it should be OK to view their stats, but imo, not during (only complaint I see about this is jade/immune, might as well go shrike anyway right?) either way it’s just another idea.

  • tay kyles

    I say make it so the players either can’t see the spectators or see their chats.
    It solves the problem in battle. There is not real solution to the issue though. People are just toxic and now PvP is dying an agonizing death

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