Mages, ten-man raiding, and other things that are awesome.

Archive for April, 2012

Tuesday Art Day: Caption This

I have to really resist not adding my own text in here, but I thought this would be kind of funny. I’ve been feeling sketchy lately, and going to visit Malfurion for Childrens’ Week sparked this idea. I obviously have some notions as to what they might be saying, now I want to hear what YOU think. It’s a contest of sorts but I don’t know if there will be prizes, apart from the delight of putting words in Malfurion and Tyrande’s mouths. Click the image to see a larger version!

The Cataclysm Conundrum and Character Connection

It’s not going to come as a shocker to anyone that I am closely connected to my characters. Coming from a roleplaying background, who they are and why they do what they do is very important to me. To varying degrees of detail, all the characters have a story of their own. I find that the characters without a story are usually the ones who get left behind, deleted or otherwise neglected. Case-in-point – my shaman. She never really had much of an RP story or a personality. She’s languishing at level 80, not because the class isn’t interesting (I got her to 80, after all) but because after she was leveled during Wrath I just didn’t feel any connection to her.

Tzufit wrote a really interesting post about Dragon Soul as a raid this week and whether or not it’s a good raid and why. Ultimately I have to agree with her; without knowing the story behind something (or feeling that the story is disjointed) it’s hard to feel a strong investment in it. So I started thinking about this as it relates to Millya, Ms. Magepants, specifically.

I started playing just at the very end of Burning Crusade, so I don’t have any Vanilla cred, and also it explains why my main character is a draenei. (More old-school people often have humans, gnomes, etc!) I only had a vague idea of Millya’s story initially. She wasn’t born on Draenor, but she was just a baby when her father fled Argus along with the small contingent of eredar who would come to call themselves draenei. Important threads of her story defined themselves as she leveled and I crafted the story around her. She’s a jewelcrafter because her father was and he taught her the ‘family trade.’ Later, when precious metals and stones weren’t really feasible to find, she learned to sew out of necessity. She and her father had fled Farahlon to take refuge in Shattrath. She helped them and the other refugees make clothes. She was one of the ones who left Shattrath before its (mostly) destruction. Her father wasn’t. All of this happened before any of the events of the Burning Crusade itself, and provided a backdrop for the character to grow. Relatively alone on an alien world, I documented her struggle to learn Common and adapt to the culture as she forged a life for herself that would allow her to go back to Draenor and help those who hadn’t been lucky enough to escape.

The Burning Crusade makes it really clear from the beginning draenei starting zone that your overarching goal IS to return to Draenor and assist in the fight against the Burning Legion. It’s both alluded to and outright stated. So while she was “growing up,” that’s what Millya was aiming to do. She started out uncertainly, speaking broken Common (something that I was later derided for by other draenei players; I know some would prefer to imagine that especially old/smart people can just magically assimilate a language, I don’t believe you can really do that.) So it was fun that she learned as she went, and I made a conscious effort to vary her speech patterns until they were mostly ‘normal’ over a period of months. I had an interesting real-life parallel for this in the form of Vosskah, whose native language is French. When we first met he was obviously fluent in English, but he still occasionally makes mistakes in English that are unique to his linguistic background, and I find them fascinating and endearing. Likewise, Millya adjusted to cultural norms she wasn’t used to. Old Draenei (Argus-era) culture always seemed fairly ostentatious to me, so she also initially used to wear ALL the jewelry she’d managed to save. She did this because 1) easiest way to keep track of it, 2) significant personal meaning because of its connection to her father and 3) she didn’t realize that wearing it all at once was unusual and/or “tacky.” When she did realize, she stopped wearing it all.

So Millya “came of age” during this time. She leveled up in enough time to join a party of adventurers who ventured into Karazhan, and also to go to Zul’Aman, but that’s it. As far as her personal chronology goes, I don’t consider her a hero of the Sunwell or anything, because she simply wasn’t there. That time had already passed. Wrath of the Lich King was another story. She was one of the first to venture to the “new” continent. Eager to help the people of her adopted homeland, she saw a threat in the Scourge easily equal to the Burning Legion. She’d honed her skills in battle to the point where she knew her magic could prove useful, and she made sure to have her hooves on that boat. Wrath set the tone from the very beginning, too. The recruiters in Borean Tundra know that you’re not a green adventurer at that point and they say as much. “No waiting in line for you!” causing an outburst of complaints from the red shirts that DO have to wait in line. I liked that. It recognized that you were a “seasoned” adventurer. You hadn’t gone straight from Elwynn to Northrend, you had to earn your right to help in this dangerous and hostile land.

On my server, I was also one of the first people to make it to Dalaran (if you recall, mages could learn to teleport themselves there sooner than other classes could). An obscure battleground trick could allow you to “cheat” your friends there, too, but I remember going there when it was completely new and nearly empty. The only people there were mages; I fished in the fountain, I explored around, I was dazzled. An entire city of MAGES. Millya felt the same way, an extremely strong kinship with the mages of Dalaran. She had no memory of Argus or the cities there where magic was commonplace and even a part of the fabric of life itself. The Draenei had fallen a long way, inhabiting the broken wreck of a ship not of their own design. I felt the strongest connection to the events of Wrath, because I was mostly in the thick of them. (Disregard here for a moment that I did play a few different characters to raid during Wrath; the character’s story still holds). During Wrath was the time when Millya met Vosskah; a hardened warrior who’d never really stopped fighting from the time of Shattrath on. She met the group of adventurers that she would fight alongside for years. She truly established herself. Meantime, she lived in Dalaran in an apartment she finished and enchanted with all kinds of magical amenities, a respite from the battles that seemed never ending. She had a hand in helping to bring down the Lich King. This is always a sticky subject among RPers, by the way – I always imagine for the sake of reality that an ARMY of people killed the Lich King; not just ten, not just twenty-five, but maybe ten times that number, and she was there. I always try to tread a careful line. Obviously my character has some power, but she isn’t the greatest mage who ever lived, no magical glowing purple eyes or mysterious scars or anything. Basically, she’s a regular person who has sometimes been involved in extraordinary things, but at the end of the day she likes to curl up with a book and a cup of tea as much as any bookish introvert would. She has to keep the things she’s done and who she is somewhat separate, because they aren’t the same thing.

So, we come to Cataclysm. You can see (I hope) that up until this point I have a pretty good idea of where my character has been and what she’s been doing. Much of this was played out in “actual” RP, some written in short stories, etc. I didn’t anticipate how completely Cataclysm would floor my RP. Voss and I talked about it, you know, “What are our characters doing now?” And we honestly had very little idea. “Did they move to Stormwind? Everyone’s always in Stormwind, I guess maybe they did?” Except there are no draenei NPCs in Stormwind. There’s no district where you can imagine they live (we settled on the Mage district for obvious reasons, but even that felt a bit thin). Cataclysm left me scrambling a little bit, feeling like I had nothing to sink my teeth into. It sounds ridiculous, because after all, the entire world had changed. Draenei in particular have witnessed the shattering of a world – what would this mean to them to see the same happen to Azeroth? In the end, for us personally – I never really got into it. I can tell you where Millya was and what she was doing from pre-Burning Crusade all the way up until the end of Wrath, but if you ask me how she felt about the Cataclysm I can’t tell you. She went to Deepholm and [World Pillar something something]. She went to Uldum and [weird human adventurer artifacts Nazi paralells something else]. The only story that truly stands out for me is that of the Firelands, the revitalization of Hyjal, and the ongoing story with Tarecgosa. Except a lot of the stuff with the blue dragons happened in Coldarra/The Nexus – familiar territory for Millya and a story with meaning for her personally. She’d seen what Malygos’ madness had done, what happened when the Blue Flight tried to deny access to magic from the rest of the sentient races, and knew how important it was to ensure that they had a leader who wasn’t crazy. I’m not going to say much more because Tarecgosa spoilers, although it’s a bit after the fact now.

So it turns out that the only story of strong significance to me is one that’s connected to Wrath. I’m also uncertain about my character during the whole of this expansion. She raided every raid there was to do. But I’m not sure that she cared, and I’m not sure that I did either. Don’t get me wrong, I had a blast raiding with my guild (as always), but the story of Cataclysm itself doesn’t seem to have any personal significance. I’m not sure if this is a personal failure of mine, or simply because we stopped RPing. But then, we weren’t RPing (or writing short stories, what have you) because it didn’t seem to matter. The only stories that came out of Cataclysm, for me, are not of earth-shattering importance. The stories of finding family you thought you’d lost, the story of understanding what family means outside of blood ties, and how to negotiate that when you have no choice but to get along. I suppose the backdrop of Cata itself mattered a lot less, which seems disappointing to me. Shouldn’t Millya have cared? Shouldn’t it have affected her?

I wonder if this isn’t due in some part to the lead-up event. As others have noted, we all pulled a “Rip Van Winkle” in the weeks leading up to the Cataclysm. It was like we went to sleep one night, and the next we woke up and BAM – the world was broken. The end result for me is that I feel as if Millya’s story has been suspended in something of a limbo, and I find it’s actually making me more excited for Mists. I can easily envision Millya journeying to a new continent on Azeroth, experiencing a strange and new isolated people and culture. The acquisition of knowledge and experience is a pretty strong motivator for her. I’m not even kidding about those waterfalls…Maybe I’ll take screenshots of them, too. So I’m excited for Mists because it seems to promise a continuation for the character I love, and an evolving story. It’s okay that there’s no “big bad.” Sometimes all the war in Warcraft gets a little tiring for a character any way. Voss and I have joked about when we someday “retire” and our characters can do the same, spending the rest of their days peaceably somewhere. Maybe Mists suggests that possibility, or at least something of a reprieve so that we can experience the world and then live to fight another day.

What do you think? Did you “connect” differently with the various expansions, or did any of them have particular meaning for your character or for you? Tzufit’s post really made me think about Millya’s story as it has continued throughout the expansions, and also caused me to realize that she hadn’t “done” much in Cataclysm. I don’t have any answers as to why that is, only observations about how each expansion has felt to me.

 

Tuesday Art Day: Millya

A weekly tradition that I’d let fall by the wayside a little. I’ve been feeling lately that in-between From Draenor and my other work, I really want to draw with tools that aren’t digital. Unfortunately, my studio looks like a bomb went off and I haven’t seen the top of my drafting desk in years. Anyway, that can’t prevent me from doing small sketches in charcoal and other media until I can get things cleaned up, such as this one. I’ll admit to doing a bit of digital touching up before uploading, although it was mostly in the vein of trying to recover detail I felt was lost in the scan. I feel like Manalicious should have some kind of slogan related to my draenei. “A draenei a day…?” No, I don’t even know, honestly. But it’s always fun to draw my characters. Especially since Voss tends to quiz me about it.

“Oh, what are you drawing there?”

“Millya.”

“Oh. And who is your MAIN?”

“Millya.”

“Good. You better keep answering that question correctly!”

(That might sound harsh, but he does have good historical reason for keeping me on the straight and narrow in this regard).

The Arcanes (Guest Post)

The following was written by a friend of mine, a fellow conjurer of cakes, also blue and shoeless! Her name is Jibbi, and you can find her on Twitter as @Relysh (although her tweets are private). She wrote this originally as a way to help out Narci of Flavor Text Lore with her mage. It is irreverent, hilarious and also quite helpful! I tend to be more of a fire than an arcane mage, so I relished (har) the idea of having a proper Arcane guide at Manalicious and she kindly agreed to let me host it here. Comment and let her know if it helped you out, she went to a lot of trouble to format and add pictures! –Vid

Note: This guide is intended for someone brand new to Arcane (and relatively new at being a Mage) at level 85! I do not go into things like fight-specific tips, tier bonuses or any sort of serious minmaxing. It was also originally an email so the tone is casual and I may or may not abuse smileys. WITNESS MY SMILEYS. 

ARCANE: WHAT IT DO.

The entire point of arcane:
To blow your cooldowns and spam Arcane Blast until you’re at 35% mana, then evocate, mini burn to 80%, and then “hover” back up to 100% mana until 2 minutes go by and your CDs are up again.

WHY?

Mastery – it works, bitches. The more mana we have, the more damage we do depending on our mastery rating. Each point of mastery increases damage done depending on how much mana you have left.

Stat weighing?

Int > Hit to cap (17% for raiding, i forget for heroics) > Mastery > Crit > Haste (has a cap – some people argue this is better than crit – ymmv)

So how do I keep track of this mastery? Stare at my mana bar?

Kinda. Your actual mana bar, though, with enchants proc’n all over the place (like lightweave, power torrent, int-increasing trinket procs/usages) that mana bar on your default interface or xperl/shadowed/whathaveyou is wrong, wrong, wrongity wrong. They’ll artificially inflate your mana pool. What you want is the mana pool you’ve got without all that bullshit.

You use this:

MageManaBar

Hurrrrrrr!

It’s important :D It tells you what your ACTUAL mana is despite all that other garbage. It also tells you when to do things like pop your mana gem, evocate, throw your orb, etc.

So what talents/glyphs do I want?

This is the build I use. I’ve left you 2 points of wiggle room – you can put them in the Improved Arcane Explosion talent if you do a lot of AOE,  in Invocation if you interrupt a lot, or anywhere you’d like. If you have a Beast Mastery Hunter or a Retribution Paladin around you can also take your point out of Arcane Tactics and move it elsewhere – they replicate it – make them do all the work!

Prime Glyphs: Arcane Blast / Mage Armor / Arcane Missiles

Major Glyphs: You can play w/these, but I prefer: Invisibility / Arcane Power / Evocation <—will save your squishy butt so many times. SO MANY TIMES.

Minor Glyphs: Again, you can play around, but I like: Mirror Image / Slow Fall / Monkey <— because.  MONKEYS.

What should be on my bars?

I mean, that's what we're really here for, right?

DPS buttons:

Main nukes:
Arcane Blast – puts a debuff on you that stacks up to 4 times. Every time it stacks, it hits harder but costs more mana. You clear your stacks by casting another arcane single target spell, like arcane barrage or missiles.
Arcane Barrage – all the mage guides are like “just take this shit off your bars” because it is pretty useless, but it drives me nuts not having an instant on the 3 button, so XD
Arcane Missiles – you probably remember this proc from leveling as those annoying parenthesis that pop up even though you’re not arcane.

Pew pew!

AoE:
Arcane Explosion (I don’t aoe very much) – this is affected by your AB stacks now and doesn’t clear them, which is nice. You can take the talent if you want, but I don’t.  It reduces your threat from this spell .(threat no longer an issue really) and reduces the GCD so you can spam more of them, which is nice. So the way you AE is: target highest health mob (that is tanked >.<) nuke it a few times, AE, AE, AE, until it’s 2 seconds until AB’s gonna fall off, then cast AB again to refresh AB debuff. Repeat until everything is dead or you are.

DPS cooldowns:
Arcane Power – “When activated, you deal 20% more spell damage and damaging spells cost 10% more mana to cast. This effect lasts 15 sec.”
Mana Gem – an arcane talent gives you a spellpower boost from using it – always start a fight w/3 charges!
Time Warp (bloodlust, heroism, whatever) – use when the situation calls for it. Pretend you’re a shaman with a lamer casting noise.

Arcane specific utility:
Mage Ward – for Incanter’s Absorption talent – pop when taking frost, fire, or arcane damage for a dps boost!
Mana Shield – ugh, I never use this. It wastes mana. If you’re going to DIE I guess it’s a better alternative, and at least you get some spellpower for your troubles from the aforementioned incanter’s absorption, but. bleh.

but...mah mana D:

Presence of Mind – makes your next spell with a cast of less than 10 seconds instant. Can be used for casting Arcane Blast on the move to keep stacks up, to sheep while running (i do this quite often >.<) to remake your mana gem because …whups, you forgot to refill it …or any other good reason you can think of. (Note: You can’t cast this while Arcane Power is active! It’ll be unusable while that is up.)

Oh Shit:
Ice Block – makes you invulnerable. If you have threat and use this, the monster will go find something vulnerable to attack. Press ice block again to cancel it. If you do this and the mob isnt tanked yet, it’ll come back to you. THIS IS IMPORTANT TO KNOW D:
Invisibility -(spec into instant invis, glyph into fast running while invis. BEST THING EVER) – takes you out of combat and removes all threat. You can even invis out of a wipe and mass res, like a hunter, only awesome.
Mirror Image – “Jibbi, this is not an oh shit!” …yes it is. Your mirrors will take your threat for you until they die, and then your threat is yours again. Luckily, they last 30 seconds (er, if they’re not being hit). I use this to HURR off the bat on a boss, hoping the tank has created more threat than me by the time they die. It’s also nice for “1%! tank is dead! Shit, it’s on me!” situation. Hit these guys and blink away, let them take it in the face for you. Pretend every fight is Chimaeron and see if you’re next to die on the threat meter.

Important on bars:
Flame Orb (will explain in a bit)

This stupid thing gets caught on every tiny lip in the game.

Other utility things:
Blink – best spell ever A++ would cast again
Frost Nova – cast this and blink out when you’ve made a terrible mistake XD
Ring of Frost – is pretty useless but it’s nice in a “oh crap someone butt pulled trash” moment.
Remove Curse – I use the Decursive mod so I don’t suck at decursing – if you use this, you don’t need it on your bars.
Slow Fall – “Shit, cliff!” – I actually bind this to shift-right click in Clique so save friends quickly as well.
Counterspell – I use a macro with /stopcasting in it so i can interrupt in a pinch. We have a shitty 24 second cooldown on it, though, so I try to save it for emergencies. Of all the classes that bitch about their interrupt cooldown, only Druids have anything on you XD
Polymorph –  I use a macro that focuses my sheep target and then does /targetlasttarget to go back to whatever I was nuking. That way you can watch the sheep debuff on your focus window to re-sheep.

Your buffs:
Arcane Brilliance
Focus Magic (to the highest bidder caster who benefits from crit the most)
Mage Armor

Other things:
Warlock Cookies
Volcanic Pots

Macros:

-Above mentioned stopcasting/interrupt macro

#showtooltip Counterspell
/stopcasting
/cast Counterspell

-Above mentioned sheep macro:

#showtooltip Polymorph
/focus
/cast Polymorph
/targetlasttarget

-Nochannelling macros on your Arcane Blast and Arcane Missiles. This is so you can spam your abilities while doing arcane missiles and not interrupt yourself, but still be spamming like crazy. Same with evocate – you can be Evocating and spamming the hell out of arcane blast and it’ll queue that right up when you’re done with the evo.

#showtooltip Arcane Missiles
/cast [nochanneling]Arcane Missiles

#showtooltip Arcane Blast
/cast [nochanneling]Arcane Blast

-HURRRR button!!!!

/cast Arcane Power
/use 13
/use 14
/cast Arcane Blast

I’m sure there are a billion more useful macros, but those are the ones I use the most.

Ok, I’m ready to HURRR. What do I do?

HURR!

Slow down there bucko! You got focus magic out on a hard hitting caster or healer? Mage armor on and glyphed? 3 charges of mana gem ready? Badass. Let’s go.

Tank has pulled! give him a second – maybe cast an AB. Threat look good? You don’t have to move right away? Good.

1. Pop Mirrors
2. HURRR button
3. Arcane blast like crazy to 35% (after a few your mana bar mod will tell you to pop your mana gem – do it! then keep burning.)
4. 35% reached? MageManaBar is red and angry? Evocate. do not do this before a silence or if you’ll have to move for the next 5 seconds >.< don’t interrupt evo if you can help it.
5. Mini burn – ABlast spam down to 80%. MageManaBar will say “Orb Phase” and “Orb now!” – throw out flame orb at the boss.
6. While flame orb is out, arcane missiles will proc like crazy. They’re mana free, and your mage armor is ticking. This should bring you back up to 100%.
7. Cast 3 or 4xABlast (whatever feels comfortable for your mana pool) and arcane missiles to clear it and “hover” until your CDs are up again. MMB mod will tell you when you’re getting close – essentially it’s waiting for evocate and mana gem to come back up.
8. Repeat until boss is dead.

That’s it for the basic “rotation” – there are a few other things to think about.

1.Are you taking unavoidable frost, fire, or arcane damage? Pop mage ward. This shit is everywhere! It’s really useful, and it’ll help you live. This is always useful for any mage spec, but with Incanter’s Absorption, you’re doing more damage too. MAOR HURRR.

2. Do you have to move? Blink if it’s that far. If not, just walk, don’t clear your stacks if it’s going to take you less than 2 seconds to get there. If it is, Presence of Mind + Arcane Blast for that long walk – stacks gonna drop? Fine, whatever, just give up on life and arcane barrage. >.<

3. Did you pull threat? Instant Invis. Iceblock if Invis is down down. Mirrors if that’s down. All 3 of those things down? blink to the tank. That didn’t work? Enjoy the floor XD

4. Is MMB yelling at you about “overflow” and “wasted mana“? ah, yes. sometimes your mage armor ticks up and you fill up that “fake” mana you have from your procs – you better spam AB until it’s back in the “Real” mana or it just goes to waste!!

And that’s it! It’s a lot more than people make it out to be, but it’s still not as complicated as some. It’s going to be frustrating until you have a bit of gear – arcane wasn’t very viable to a fresh 85 in early cata – the low mana pools but same mana costs made you get to 35% pretty damn fast >.< It’s way better now though :D

Happy HURRing!!


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