Critical Play: Is this game balanced?

Wizard101 is a MMORPG developed by KingsIsle Entertainment that I played and thoroughly enjoyed when I was younger. The game is available for Windows and MacOS. In Wizard101, the player takes on the role of a wizard practicing one of seven different schools of magic. The game has both player vs. enemy and player vs. player components. Players go on quests in which they must defeat NPC enemy minions and bosses to progress in the game, and can also enter the arena where they can face off against other players.

The game holds appeal to a wide range of audiences, and is specifically marketed to families and younger children to play together. The game is turn-based and strategical, and does not rely on twitch gameplay, and therefore can be played by a wide range of gamers. The combat mechanics consist of drawing cards from a deck and choosing cards to play in order to defeat your enemy/enemies.

The game makes use of many types of fun, including fantasy, fellowship, narrative, and challenge. Players experience all of these types of fun as they go on quests throughout the various worlds, having the opportunity to experience learning magic as a wizard (fantasy), cooperate with other wizards (fellowship), and follow a fun storyline (narrative). The game gets increasingly difficult as players progress through various worlds, and becomes even more difficult and competitive as you test your skills against other wizards in the arena (challenge).

My experience playing the game was great, and I think the game balance played a huge role in creating an enjoyable experience in both the player vs. enemy and player vs. player realms. At the beginning of the game, the player selects one of seven schools of magic for their wizard to practice which cannot be changed, so the balance of relative strength of the seven schools is extremely important. Specifically, each of the schools must have viable strategies to use against NPC enemies, and schools must match up evenly against each other in the player vs. player arena. I think the creators of Wizard101 did a great job making each of the seven schools unique, while also maintaining relative balance between the strength of the schools. Each school has different strengths and weaknesses that allow players to choose a school that appeals to them and fits their play style. For example, the school of Storm has very high damage output, but lower health and defenses to compensate. The school of Ice has low damage output with higher health and defenses to allow Ice wizards to tank more hits. Some schools have unique special abilities, such as Life with the ability to heal and Myth with the ability to summon minions in combat. The game has underwent many balancing changes to ensure that each school is viable, and I think that has resulted in an amazing game that players can choose how they wish to play without worrying that wizards of other schools will outmatch them.

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