The changes for Hard strategy probably need a bit more explanation … since the original release of the App, Disney changed the gameplay at the hard difficulty level, and the app is now back in sync with the actual gameplay experience in the parks.
Previously, each villain had a fixed weakness … if you played cards of the correct spell type (the type that corresponded to the villain’s weakness), then you would defeat the villain more easily.
In the past year, the game was changed so that now each villain’s weakness varies from game to game. You must first discover the villain’s weakness, and then play the appropriate spell type to defeat the villain. To discover the weakness, you play cards of multiple spell types … and if one of the spells you cast corresponds to the villain’s weakness (for this particular game), then that spell will cast at Level 3 strength. That is your clue that you should cast further spells of that type to defeat the villain.
Fortunately, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice App has information about the various spell level animations for nearly all of the cards (some of the recently-released party cards being an exception); so using this information, we can help you determine which spell type is the correct one to use.
In the new version (2.4.5) of the app, if you set difficulty to ‘Hard’, then when you play at a portal and enter the game step information, you will no longer be taken straight to the ‘Cast Spells’ screen — you will instead be taken to the ‘Determine Weakness’ screen. Here the app will suggest 3 spells you should cast, each of a different type. If you’d rather use a different spell card for one of the types, tap to select it, and then pick the card you’d prefer from the presented list (the list will be all cards of the spell type which you’ve added to the deck you’re playing with).
Once you’ve completed your card selection and cast the spells, you’ll be asked which animation was shown for each of the spells, just as in the normal gameplay flow. If one of the cards casts as Level 3, then you’ll be taken to the Cast Spells screen so you can cast more spells of that type.
If no Level 3 spell was cast, then you’ll be prompted again to cast up to 3 spells — any spell types that cast as Level 1 or Level 2 will be eliminated, since we know those aren’t the correct weakness type. Any that haven’t yet been tested, or were tested but without conclusive results, will continue to be tested until the correct weakness type has been determined.
This all sounds a bit confusing in descriptive form, but I think once you’ve played through it a time or two it should flow very smoothly. Whatever cards you select for each spell type will be remembered from one game to the next — this way, you can set aside a set of cards (one for each spell type) as your ‘determine weakness’ set of cards and always have them readily available when first playing against a new villain. It’s a good idea to pick cards that have easily distinguishable animations, so if you find that it’s hard to interpret the animation for a particular card, you can switch to a different card for future rounds (feel free to post your favorites in the comments below — I still haven’t finalized my own setup so I’m not prepared yet to make a recommendation).