Monday, September 7, 2009

We're off to see the Wizard

If you know me, or Tony, then by now, you've probably heard us mention Wizard101.  It's like Everquest meets Harry Potter meets Nickelodeon.  In fact, we were watching some Saturday morning show with Ivy earlier this year, when the commercial for Wizard101 came on.  It looked like a pretty cool thing for kids, so we decided to all get our free accounts and give it a shot.

We were hooked from the beginning.  First you set up your Wizard, pick out his or her name and the school that he or she will belong to.  I am Miranda Redheart, from the school of Life.  Tony is Kane Battlebane, from the school of Death.  Ivy is Caroline Willowstalker, from the school of Fire.  The other schools are Ice, Myth, Storm and Balance.  Each have their strengths and their weaknesses, and as you get farther in the game, the spells you learn become more and more powerful.  Every fourth level or so you get a "training point" which you can use to learn spells from different schools.  My secondary school, for example is Death.  Tony's is Storm.

The story line is fairly basic:  you're a new Wizard at Ravenwood, a school for wizards (much like Hogwarts) which resides in Wizard City.  The headmaster is Merle Ambrose and each of the seven schools has its own teacher with various personalities.  There's a bad guy wizard named Malistaire that is causing trouble, and Ambrose sends you on a journey to learn more about what he's up to.  Along the process, you visit other worlds, including Krokotopia, an Egyptian-like area with pyramids and sphynxes populated by a race of crocodiles and salamanders.  Krokotopia is also occupied by the dog-people of Marleybone, an English-inspired land with such attractions as "Woofminster Abbey" and "Digmoore Station."

From there you go to MooShu, a far-eastern land populated by the cow people, and a brand new world called Grizzelheim, in the Nordic wilderness populated by some very rustic and honorable bears (they're like a Native American tribe meets Lt. Commander Worf).  The next (and I believe last) stop on the journey will be to Dragonspyre, which I assume is a land of dragon-people, but we haven't made it there yet, so I don't know what it's like.

While the game is primarily aimed toward children and young teenagers, we have come across many parents and even grandparents who fell in love with it also.  One of our favorite pastimes is to play as a family, because we can all sit in the same room and work together to finish our missions, called Quests.  The quests lead you to other quests, which all eventually lead you to the next level.  A quest can be as simple as finding another character and delivering a message to locating eight missing cats strewn throughout the world to doing battle with some minions to collect a necessary item or just teach them a lesson.

The battles are done with the spell cards in the spell deck.  As a low-level wizard, there's not much you can do, and the spells yield a pretty low range of points against the enemy, but as you gain experience points and level up, you get new spells that can enhance the old ones.

For example, as a Life school wizard, many of my spells have to do with restoring health.  I can give myself or other players enough fairy dust to keep them from being defeated in battle.  Whenever you are defeated in the battle, you end up with a cracked glass of blue magic mojo dust in the center of the "common" area in whichever world you happen to be battling in.  The blue mojo dust is called "mana" and it's like the power source for casting spells.  If you have no mana, you can't cast a spell - and need to go replenish it in the common area.

One of the things I think the game really teaches is strategy.  Whether you're working alone, or playing with other wizards in the game, you learn how to hold out for stronger cards or use enhancement cards against the opponents in battle.  You figure out that it's good to have a friend from the Life school playing alongside you when doing battle with a particularly strong opponent, because they can keep replenishing your health.  Eventually, you get like us, and "stack your deck" depending on which type of enemy you're going to fight:  (if it's a fire-school opponent, you stack your deck with ice spells, myth school opponent gets storm spells, death gets life, etc.).

But because the different worlds and the characters in them are so unique, you also learn about different cultures.  Some of it parallels our own reality.  Maybe a fifth grader doesn't know that in our history, the English did occupy the Middle East and ran excavations there.  But when they do learn it, they'll remember the occupation of Krokotopia by Marleybone.

So, if you send me a gmail chat and I reply letting you know I'm battling a troll, or that I'm in the middle of a battle with three other wizards, two cyclops and a banshee, you'll understand that I'm trying to save Wizard City from the evil Malistaire from the comfort of my own home.

To get started on your own journey, go to

No comments:

Post a Comment

Have something to say? Say it, already. Please leave your comments here.