It wouldn’t be a Niantic augmented reality game without some big buildings on the map that are essential to the ongoing experience. Where Pokemon GO has Gyms, Harry Potter: Wizards Unite (Free) has Fortresses, the biggest and hardest to miss structures around — and yes, sometimes they’re even in the exact same physical locations as Pokemon GO Gyms.
That’s pretty much where the similarities end, because where Gyms are PvP hubs, Wizards Unite Fortresses are instead the locations where players can come together and work toward common goals. That’s because each Fortress allows access to Wizarding Challenges, where your spellcasting prowess is put to the test in much more direct ways than when you are trying to defeat most Confoundables.
The game actually has a pretty good explanation of Fortresses and Wizarding Challenges right in the app, but that doesn’t mean we can’t expand upon it and go into even more detail for people who are just starting their journeys into Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, as well as those who have been in from the beginning and want to step up to more difficult tests. Our Fortress guide is intended to have a little bit for everyone, so let’s get started.
How to Find a Fortress on the Map
You almost can’t miss Fortresses, as the are large buildings that tower over Inns, Greenhouses and Landmarks, and can be seen from quite some distance away. If you aren’t sure exactly where one is located, simply tap on it and a picture and a picture and short description will pop up — plus you can tap on the information icon to bring up an even bigger pic.
To actually access the Fortress, you’ll have to walk close enough that the circular pulse given off by your avatar touches it. When it does, you’ll hear a sound effect that indicates you’re in range.
What is a Wizarding Challenge?
The simple answer is that a Wizarding Challenge is the very reason you’re seeking out a Fortress in the first place. The longer, less glib answer is that they are timed combat encounters that require you to defeat one or more (usually more) foes in magical combat within a specified time limit to earn rewards.
How to Start a Wizarding Challenge
You already know the easy part, which is to get within range of a Fortress and then tap on it.
Now you’ve got some choices to make:
- Solo or Group? Wizarding Challenges, especially early on, can be cleared solo without too much trouble, but you can also take them on with groups of up to five players. If you’re the first player to start a Challenge, you’ll create a lobby, and other players will have a limited time to join — and it appears that the more difficult Challenges allow more time to find group members. If there’s already a Challenge looking for more players (and if there is, the Fortress will emit a green glow), you can decide to enter the lobby of the person who initiated the Challenge and join their group instead of going it alone.
- Which Family and How Hard? Wizarding Challenges are divvied up by the same 10 Families for which there are Foundables. Since the rewards for the Challenges depend on your decision, this is an important consideration. On top of that, you need a special item called a Runestone to participate in any Wizarding Challenge, which you’ll recognize because they, too, correspond to one of the 10 Families and have a number on them that indicates their level. So how difficult will your challenge be? That depends, as every Family has a series of Chambers you must defeat to unlock the next one. The overall difficulty of your Wizarding Challenge is determined by the chamber and the level of the Runestone you use. However, the more difficult the Challenge, the greater the rewards for defeating it.
So Where Can You Find Runestones?
That’s a very obvious but good question. Wizards Unite will give you a handful of Runestones just for playing through the tutorial section, ensuring you can participate in Wizarding Challenges right off the bat. After that, you’ll find them mainly in the treasure chests that open when you rank up in the Registry, meaning you’ve returned enough Foundables of a particular Family to increase its rank. It probably won’t surprise you to know that the Runestones you receive will correspond to that Family. All of this stuff works together.
Fortress Combat: How to Attack and Defend in Wizarding Challenges
When you first start a Wizarding Challenge, you’ll see a map that looks something like this:
You can choose which enemy to fight simply by tapping on it, and you’ll want to choose quickly because you are on the clock. In combat, you’ll take turns casting spells to attack and getting chances to cast defensive spells to lessen some of the damage coming back at you.
When it’s your turn to attack, you’ll first see a screen that looks like this:
What you need to do first is to drag the target icon for your wand (and who knew wands needed to be aimed?) over the target icon for your enemy, then hold it there until its meter fills. Once that’s complete, you’ll have a chance to cast offensive magic by tracing a glyph on the screen.
When it’s your enemy’s turn to attack, you’ll see a simply glyph pop up that requires a quick diagonal swipe in a certain direction. Do it fast enough and you’ll have a magical shield that will absorb some, but not all of the damage. Fail and you’ll take the full brunt of whatever painful thing the enemy is doing.
Combat begins until someone’s Stamina bar, located at the top of the screen, is all the way down to zero.
Bonus tip 1: You can use Potions in mid-battle to refill your Stamina bar, and will probably need to against some tougher opponents. Always have some Healing Potions (those are the red ones) on hand before you start a Wizarding Challenge — and don’t forget you can brew more yourself if you have the right ingredients.
Bonus tip 2: While the combat is turn-based, that doesn’t mean it always alternates back and forth. Occasionally you will get two attacks in a row or have to defend twice before your next turn, so stay alert and don’t be caught off-guard.
Bonus tip 3: Every attacking spell you cast in combat costs Spell Energy. This can’t be stressed highly enough, so you definitely want to make sure you have a good supply of Spell Energy before starting a tough Wizarding Challenge. We have a whole separate guide on how to get more Spell Energy for free.
Fortress Teamwork: How to Use Focus and Strategic Spells
One definite advantage of tackling Wizarding Challenges with groups is that you can benefit from different players’ Strategic Spells. This means magic you cast out of combat, with the specific spells determined by your profession and the lessons you’ve learned within it. Discussing everything about professions could be a guide in and of itself (insert thinking emoji here), but roughly speaking, Aurors have spells that increase damage and weaken enemies, Magizoologists can heal and revive teammates, and Professors have several different kinds of buffs. On top of that, each profession deals extra damage against a certain type of enemy and takes extra damage from another type:
- Aurors – Deal extra damage against Dark Forces; receive extra damage from Beasts
- Magizoologists – Deal extra damage against Beasts; receive extra damage from Curiosities
- Professors – Deal extra damage against Curiosities; receive extra damage from Dark Forces
It goes without saying that a party with at least one of each profession is pretty well equipped to handle whatever might get thrown at you.
Regardless of the profession you choose, your Strategic Spells will be displayed by icons at the bottom of the Wizarding Challenge map. To cast one, you simply drag it onto the profile of a friend or foe, depending on what the spell does.
Whether you can cast the spell or not is also determined by the amount of Focus you have, which is displayed as a bar/meter at the bottom of the map below the Strategic Spells. The small number inside each spell box tells you how much Focus you need to cast that spell. Pretty simple.
Focus is replenished by defeating enemies in combat, so you can use that knowledge to coordinate your next move and choose which Strategic Spell you want to cast next — which is probably why Niantic made it so that you need to be physically close to other people in the same Wizarding Challenge. From time to time, you’ll also find foes that will give you bonus Focus for beating them, which can help you refill your meter faster.
Gimme the Loot: Fortress Rewards
This might be the most important part, depending on your point of view. Defeating a Wizarding Challenge will give you a nice amount of XP, and usually (though not always) a Registry reward of some kind based on the Family you chose. Also, remember that the size of the reward depends on the difficulty you set by picking a Chamber and Runestone.
The Registry rewards in Fortresses can allow you to rank up much faster than you’d be able to do by simply returning Foundables in that Family, and that alone is a good reason to seek out a Fortress at least once a day (as well as the Daily Assignment that asks you to do that). Grouping with other players also increases the rewards for everyone if you clear a Wizarding Challenge, so don’t be afraid to bring or make some friends.
That should be all you need to know to be better prepared the next time you come across a Fortress. If you’re still relatively new to Harry Potter: Wizards Unite and are looking for a more general guide to help you on your journey, we have one of those too. Good luck!