Beating Hades Gear and Shrike

Dismantling the Top Level Metagame

And thriving in Post-Aquila PvP.

crit-monsterMany people are frustrated at the “spamming” and matches they don’t feel like they can win with “skill” at top level. Still others are afraid to even set foot in a top level match. And there’s some truth there, the top level metagame in Wizard101 is the most aggressive it has ever been. Sometimes it can be downright brutal.

But.. You don’t need to fear the Crit Monsters. You don’t need to fear Shadow Shrike. In fact, after reading this guide, you should be able to see those players and think “Sweet, easy match!”

This is about Control. First you control yourself, then you control your opponent, then you control your surroundings. This is the Lethani.

Vashet, The Wise Man’s Fear

The Gear

First you control yourself.

Wizard101 Critical AttackThe first step is choosing your gear. In top level PvP, gearing up correctly is a skill. You really need to look around, stalk the crafting vendors, read the Central Wiki, check out the Duelist Articles for gear. You also need to brush up on how Critical works, so that you can assert control over it.

This is possibly the most important part, because your success hinges on it. If you can’t stop a Storm wizard from hitting you with Critical Wild Bolt, you are probably going to die. If your opponent uses Shrike AND manages to hit you with a Critical? You’re probably going to die.

Most players have embraced Hades gear without thinking about a very important stat: Block! The top level Meta is a mess because so many people are running around with huge Critical and no defense for it. It’s just a dice game at that point. But you are smarter than that, you can exploit their weakness.

Opponent Type 1

Standard Hades Gear

At low ranks, this is what you’re most likely to run into.

Here’s the important stats from this gear:

67% Crit.

16% Block.

It has about 15% armor piercing, very little accuracy, and the damage is much lower than WW gear.

Opponent Type 2

Crit Monster Build

The most common upgrade here is the Crowns Shop boots with extra Crit. Sometimes a pet with Critical talents, and occasionally the Duelist’s Fatal Razor athame with more Crit.

Important stats here:

78% Crit.

12% Block.

Crit-Gargoyle

Your Answer

Misty Mountain Mandolin

The more Block the better. This wand, from a Hoard pack, gives 32% block at level 90.

L86-Azteca-Fire-Block-Boots

The crafted block boots from Azteca give 22% block.

L86-Long-Count-Ring

This ring is just an example, craftable from Yaxche in Cloudburst Forest, Azteca. It has boosted Fire block (12%). In ranked it is probably better to craft the one with boosted Storm block, as Storm will almost always have higher Critical than others. The Triskellion Band in Avalon is a great anti-Storm option.

The Alpha and Omega ring from Aquila gives 4% Universal block at Level 90.

How it Counters

I hope by now that you are looking at critical PERCENTAGES instead of ratings, because the ratings don’t mean much.

The Wand and Boots pictured, along with the Alpha and Omega ring, give 58% Critical block.

This will block the regular Hades set 87% of the time. It will block the Crit Monster set 74% of the time.

With conviction, it will block both sets 100% of the time.

The trick with the rings is that Balance, Life, Myth, Death, and Ice all get less critical than Fire and Storm by default. So instead of 4% univeral from Ring, you can go with one like we have mentioned above and get 15% Storm block (Triskellion Band), etc. This would give you 69% block to Storm, and something relatively close to Fire, and would almost completely shut down even the Crit Monster builds. Then even if they use Vengeance, you can counter it with Conviction.

How it goes beyond just countering

Katherine Light Unseen Lords Cinder Crown (Fire WWU)Hopefully you noticed my block gear recommendations didn’t include a Hat or Robe, right? Well, that’s because you can’t get block from a Hat, and the Robe block is not terribly important. That means you can use whatever Hat and Robe you want! But which ones are those?

For my Fire, it’s the Hades Defensive hat, and the Azteca Crafted robe. Those two pieces alone give me 48% critical. Did you look at the Hades block stats above? They don’t get much. In fact, they can only block my Critical about 33% of the time. Even less if I use Vengeance myself.

Azoresgirl Hades' Armor of Torment (Death WWU)Want to go even further? The Frosty Stare Tiki Torch from the Islander’s hoard pack gives 80 Block and 85 Critical, so you keep a high Block rating and pile on even more Crit for yourself. This means that even the Hades users who are running a slightly better wand will have trouble blocking you.

The Hades Defensive Robes also give more crit and some block. I don’t use it on my Fire because it doesn’t give accuracy, but schools whose cards have naturally high accuracy like Balance, Life, and Death really have no reason not to use the Hades robe. It even gives a little armor piercing and a healthy dose of resist.

You can block them, they can’t block you. EASY WIN!

Shadow Shrike

Then you control your opponent.

Shadow Shrike is one of the scariest spells in the game, most people have seen it and immediately exclaimed, “PvP is broken! Ermahgerd!”.. or something to that effect. Other people have seen it and said, “I’m going to hit people with this all the time! Ermahgerd!”.. or something to THAT effect.

The truth is that Shrike’s utility lies somewhere between those two extremes. It is a very powerful spell, but it has drawbacks. Whether you love it or hate it, you’ll probably pick up a few helpful tips in this section.

Backlash

We have an article that explains this in-depth right here. The quick explanation is that, by default a shadow spell will take 30% of your health when it ends. If you do things it likes, you can lower that to 10%. If you do things it doesn’t like, you can end up losing as much as 70% of your health.

This means that the things you can do are very limited while Shrike is active. It only “Likes” blades and attacks, nothing else will remove Backlash. Shields and Healing will ADD Backlash.

Being Prepared

When Shrike comes out, it’s going to strip you of your resist. That’s a given, so you have to divert damage in other ways. Shields will absorb the bulk of Shrike’s pierce and leave your resist in tact, weakness will help against DoT spells. More importantly, you need to have your Critical Block in order, like we discussed above. Do not let them have a bunch of blades. Use Earthquake or Enfeeble if needed.

It would also be good to get Conviction up if you think Shrike is coming – this will boost your Block and help to stop Stuns they might use. You’ll need to be able to react quickly when Shrike is out, and being stunned can be a death sentence if a big hit takes your HP down.

You want to do as many of these things as possible BEFORE Shrike comes out though. These are ways to defend, but we don’t just want to defend. We want to counter Shrike, to use it against our opponent.

Countering Shrike

Backlash is the Achilles heel of Shadow spells. Your opponent is going to lose some health for using it. How much they lose depends on how well you can control them.

Stalling

The first line of defense is stall tactics. They’re losing 30% of their health by default. If you can keep them from doing anything for 3 rounds, they’re going to get hurt in the face. So your first option is disruption. Mantle spells that reduce accuracy, dispels that take away their ability to cast, stuns that.. well, stun them. Mixing and matching these disruptions together can be effective. Mantles are particularly good against players using the Hades Defensive set, since it gives very little accuracy to start with.

Controlling

But we want to do even more than that. We want to dominate our Shrike-enhanced opponent so thoroughly that they become our puppet, casting spells we decide.

The absolute, most effective anti-Shrike spell in Wizard101 is Medusa. If you are a Myth player or you have a Myth Mastery amulet, this is your first option. It stuns your opponent for two rounds. This means you can hit them again, and then follow with a Mantle or Dispel. I suggest, if possible, a dispel to their school so they cannot cast an attack on their third round of shrike. If you hit with Medusa and something else, their health should have a huge dent in it, and without the ability to attack they will probably need to shield or heal to avoid death. This will invoke another 10% damage from Shrike, swiping 40% of their health away when Shrike ends that round.

School Breakdown

Storm’s best option is simply to lay out so much damage that their opponent needs to heal and shield. Bolts and bats and all of that other Storm deliciousness. That said, they do have a few built-in tricks up their sleeve.

Storm Lord has a stun, which will shut down the opponent for a round and create an opportunity to slam in more damage, scare them into defense. Sirens will remove two of their blades and leave a mantle, possibly causing them to fizzle and get the same effect as Storm Lord.

Fire’s new King Artorius spell is perfect for this, delivering heavy damage and adding a stun. It also gives the user a Fire Spear, allowing their next attack to hit even harder.

For that second attack, I’d recommend Krampus. For only 4 pips it does a solid amount of damage and leaves a Black Mantle on the opponent. By now they should need to heal or shield, and be prone to fizzle their final turn with Shrike. Efreet is also a good secondary option. Its 90% weakness strips their ability to deal damage and it should put them in a position where healing becomes important.

Fire also has the utility spells Smokescreen and Choke, to add disruption in a pinch.

Ice’s best counter is probably Winter Moon, a 5 pip spell that does even more damage than Frost Giant and still carries a stun. Depending on the situation, Lord of Winter is also a viable option, putting out huge damage and stripping an opponent of pips. Frost Giant is another option, as it has a stun for its secondary effect.

Ice also has the utility spell Freeze. It’s a zero pip, single target stun. I guess Frozen Armor could work in a pinch, but I wouldn’t recommend it.

Balance, true to their nature, has a variety of options. Mana Burn to sink an opponent’s pips. Loremaster to leave a Weakness and a Mantle. Tri-Dispels to shut down a variety of options at once.

Balance also carries the ability to easily threaten an opponent’s health most of the time. Simply putting out a Feint while having several pips is enough to force an enemy to tower or die, many times. Savage Paw also delivers solid damage and leaves a Balance Blade, which can force an opponent to go defensive quickly.

For utility spells, Balance brings Weakness and Black Mantle. Mantle may be better, as wanding to remove Weakness still reduces Backlash from Shrike.

Front and center for Myth is Medusa, the deadly double-stun. Failing that, they also have stun options in Basilisk and Myth Banshee (treasure card).

If an opponent attempts to use a large Damage over Time spell, Myth has the unique ability to shift that spell back onto the opponent. This spell is aptly named, Shift. If the opponent is in a low-pip spamming situation, Celestial Calendar can deal a great deal of damage and steal a pip from them. This can sometimes be enough to disrupt a combo.

For utility spells, Myth has two stuns. One named “Stun” is a 0 pip, single target stun. Blinding Light is an AoE stun for 2 pips. And, depending on the situation, Myth’s 0 pip Golem Minion can force an opponent to spend a turn killing it, or face losing their shields.

Death, sadly, doesn’t bring any stuns or mantles of their own. Their most effective counters for Shrike are generally damage reduction. Bad Juju leaves a 90% weakness on opponent, Virulent Plague leaves a 45% weakness, Plague leaves a 20% weakness for 1 pip.

Another option is to use your Health Steal spells in conjunction with Plagues to divert damage, and then drain back lost health while pushing your opponent’s HP down and forcing them to heal. Obviously, Doom and Gloom is a bit counter-productive here, as many players will avoid any healing when it’s out.

In Team PvP, Beguile can be a really solid counter to Shrike. Either forcing an enemy player to abandon their AoE attack, or causing them to wipe out their own team.

Life’s best anti-shrike option is Luminous Weaver, putting solid damage across the board and leaving a weakness on their opponent. This enforces a need to heal and causes them to spend turns wanding, or hitting with reduced damage effect. Against another Life player, Gnomes double Life dispel is also a sure bet.

Against large DoT attacks, Triage is very useful. And, if all else fails, Guardian Spirit can help you to outlast the Shrike by popping back to life.

The Endgame

Then you control your surroundings.

Once more players begin gearing smart instead of strong, the standard gear at top level will eventually shift. It’s already happening. As you rank up to Warlord and beyond, many advanced players are already packing enough block to shut down the Hades players without fail. Then you’ll have to figure out how to defeat players who you can’t easily Crit, and the fun really starts.

Similarly, people will soon begin to realize that Shrike is not the answer to everything in PvP, and that it does, in fact, have drawbacks. More importantly, they’ll learn when it’s worth using, and they’ll be better prepared to deal with anti-shrike tactics. Until then, it’s easy pickings at the lower ranks as people play with their new toys. It all starts with beating Hades Gear and Shrike.

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