I indicated a while ago that I would post about a new "school" fashioned after my own which at times I've called "shield school" or "arena school" but I'll refer to from now on as "Valerian's School". I had held off posting about this until I had a) proof that it worked and b) the street cred to convince you I know what I'm talking about. Now that I'm safely into high Overlord range I'm ready to spill knowing full well that by doing so I'll make my future battles much more difficult. However maybe I'll have some measure of satisfaction knowing that skill-less wild bolters will be disappointed by a well prepared adversary and therefore may stop relying on bolt as a crutch for their weakness as a duelist.
When playing a serious amount of arena and adventuring a lot one thing will become apparent... second school spells are almost useless. They take lots of pips, usually fizzle, they don't take advantage of your power pips and they are usually shielded against by whoever you are fighting. You will find your own school spells can be used twice as often and thus removing shields you can still generally get the same bang from your pips as you would by throwing another school's spell.
What does that mean for arena?
It means you want to learn how your school removes shields and use that to your advantage. It also means that you'll save a boat-load of room in your main deck for some nasty school-based hits AND SHIELDS. (this is critical)
What is Valerian's School?
Valerian's school is aritificial Balance school or quite literally a mixture of all schools.
What spells do I want to learn for Valerian's School? (arena and high level questing)
a) Always get ice up to tower shield
b) Life up to at least pixie
c) Always learn all of the shields from each school with the exception of life absorb (you probably won't have enough training points)
d) Double up on storm shields if you have enough training points (IE: learn Ice's storm-fire shield and learn Fire's storm-ice shield)
e) Learn your elemental or spirit tri-blade from the tree Niles in Krokotopia
f) Learn spells from Gretta Darkette's hidden school
g) Death up to feint
h) Satyr if you're willing to give up a dispel
i) and remaining shields to round out your collection and
j) any remaining dispels
If you follow Valerian's school you will be a shieling monster... I believe that shielding is the key to winning duels and flying through high level quest and boss battles. Adequate shielding gives you time to build the pips you need to employ actual strategy in arena. Without good shielding and yes, occasional, judicious use of dispel (a learned spell therefore not cheating) you will find yourself getting nuked in short order.
Valerian's school is the school of finding balance through learning a little of everything and finding the strengths and value in your own school.