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

Archive for the ‘Mage’ Category

Revelations (That Are Not Actually About Cookies)

Just over a week ago now, Canadians were preparing for our version of stuffing ourselves silly and being thankful about it. Thanksgiving! (Yes, it’s the same holiday as in the U.S. pretty much, except ours is a little earlier). We’d acquired a turkey, friends were due to arrive, and as with any major holiday – I happily took a welcome excuse to do some baking. The centerpiece of my endeavour was to be pumpkin cupcakes. Voss, who doesn’t especially like pumpkin, asked if I could perhaps bake something else on the side for him. Some cookies, maybe? (Insert big pleading eyes here.) Chocolate chip cookies, maybe? It doesn’t usually take much to get me to do more baking, so of course I agreed.

And here I paused. For years now, I’ve been experimenting with lower fat baking. It’s possible to do and still have recipes taste good. My low-fat chocolate chip cookies are pretty decent – but they tend to be a bit harder, definitely “dippers.” You have to be so careful with the dough not to overmix it. I hesitated. Did I want to make the “healthy” recipe – or did I want to go back to my tried-and-true?

I haven’t made this recipe in years. It was faithfully copied from my Mom’s recipes when I first moved away from home a decade ago. I looked at that recipe, carefully written out. It has twice as much butter as the other recipe. I know they aren’t as “healthy” (if any cookies can be considered healthy). The thing is, butter serves a specific role in baking, just like all the other ingredients do. It helps with texture, establishing both moisture and crispness. It’s possible to make things with much less of it (I hardly use it at all in “regular” cooking) but in baking it’s a tough thing to do away with.

I made my Mom’s recipe. They weren’t as pretty to behold as their low-fat counterparts. I watched them cooling on the rack a bit uncertainly – they’d flattened out more than I’d expected. I wasn’t sure how they were going to be.

I took one bite of that first cookie and the taste of it exploded in my mouth. It tasted of a hundred happy moments mixing with my Mom, adding vanilla, adding eggs. It tasted of licking the beaters of the electric mixer (raw egg be damned! I came through childhood just fine). It tasted of the time that our old, long-departed cocker spaniel opened a container of cookies and helped himself (one by one, at his leisure!) It tasted of home. It just tasted right, and in that moment I didn’t care that the cookies had twice as much butter as the other kind. They were perfect.

I have to admit, I’d been having a tough time getting into the Thanksgiving mood. For awhile now, I’ve been labouring under an indecisive funk. I wrote all about how I felt playing retribution all the time. I’d even planned to write a “Thanksgiving” Warcraft post that never materialized because I just felt like I was going through the motions. The thing is, I have a lot to be thankful for (both in and out of game) but I wasn’t feeling up to expressing it. I’d begun playing my paladin at the start of this tier because I felt that it was how I could best help the guild. I felt that it was best for the guild. What I didn’t consider deeply enough was whether it was what would be best for me.

For years, I’ve been making chocolate chip cookies as a treat that are “better for me,” but they aren’t RIGHT. I’d rather eat them half as often but enjoy them twice as much. Or actually, what I’m trying to say – in an extremely roundabout and cookie-based way – is that last week, I took Millya into Firelands for the first time. (It’s appropriate if mage metaphors include baking, you know).

The first raid, I was really nervous and I definitely didn’t play my best. There’s an element of wanting to “prove I’ve still got it,” and focusing on that led to a few bonehead maneuvers. But it was okay. The second raid, I was feeling more comfortable, and I really let myself exult in the feeling. I love being a mage. I love everything about it. I love blink, I love firing spells off like a deadly turret, I love conjuring cakes for everyone and seeing my mirror images sprinting all over the place and even my stupid flame orb wandering off on its own to explode and attack, seemingly, nothing. I love my serious little goat woman and her wild hair and earnest horns. I love wearing a dress. I’m crazy about it. I always have been. I missed it when I was a priest, and a druid, and now a paladin. I missed it because it was the right thing for me to be and I never should have lost sight of that.

“You always preferred your mage,” a few guildies have told me gently. I’ve received more than one whisper from people saying they’re happy to see my mage again, and that it feels “good” to have me be a mage. It does feel damn good. I am still feeling pangs of guilt, as our discussions about two versus three healing came to an uneasy commitment, and I know that me leaving that team leaves us one healer down and bloats the DPS roster. If we need to, we’ll have to recruit another healer in the next tier. It is selfish of me – I’ve admitted I was wrong to switch characters. Not because I can’t do it. I think I was a pretty good paladin, and a pretty good healer. But it’s not what I love the most, not like my esteemed paladin friends – who live and die on paladin news and are really, some of the best folks I know. I was proud to be among them, and it has nothing to do with the class. I don’t want to attribute too much meaning to a video game, or a virtual persona, but there is a thin line between what you play and who you are.

I don’t want to have to write another entry like this in one tier, or two. No matter how much I think “I could help out” as a healer, I shouldn’t do it. When I stepped into that second raid, my eyes actually momentarily stung, I was so happy. The familiar sensation rolled over my finger tips as I spammed two like my life depended on it. This character is home. I regret the inconvenience it causes my guild and my guildies, but I need to be selfish about this. It was silly of me to think I could be as happy playing anything else. Every time I’ve switched has been to try and fill a niche or role we’re lacking, but I’m no good to anyone if I’m playing something but secretly and sadly miserable. Thursday’s raid was an absolute blast, and I don’t know if it’s because good moods are infectious or what but it felt like everyone had a better time. We have a secret paladin turned warlock going back to his paladin and I think he’s as happy as I am to trade his robes for plate. (He probably didn’t tear up about it because he’s far too stalwart for that, but I’ll bet he sang a song). I remember that this is the right thing to do every time I wonder what reputation grind I need to be working on (re-doing) now and then I remember, I don’t need to be re-doing any of them because I’ve already done them. This is my main we’re talking about. I’m baaaaack.

Oh, and P.S. – The cookies are going to be a rare and occasional treat, but when I make them, you better believe I’m going to make my Mom’s version.

P.P.S. – I used eight images in this blog post, but I probably had twice that many I could have used. More evidence.

100th Post: Paladins, Mages, and Something In-Between

So it’s been about three months now that I’ve been raiding as a paladin, and it happens that this is my one hundredth post at Manalicious! I’ve been waffling about what to write, considered doing a blogaversy style-retrospective of my favourite posts, but I think I’ll save that for my actual blog’s anniversary. I did also want to mention I have been horrible about replying to comments lately, and I’m going to try to get better about it. I do read and enjoy every single comment, and usually I try to always reply to them, too.

On Being A Paladin

This is a preview of a graphic I've been working on for ages with intention to put it on the blog. Secret unfinished image!

It’s ironic and sad for my husband, Voss, that he has such a rivalry going on with paladins. Every Friday when he is able to tweet more, he picks a fight with the paladins on Twitter. It’s actually hilarious to me that most of the people he talks to on Twitter are 1) Blood Elves and 2) Paladins. The cherry on the paladin sundae is that he’s married to someone who also plays a paladin. But, I don’t feel bad about it because being a paladin is fun. I am really starting to settle in to raiding as one. The healing style is in my fingertips, if you will. I have fixed some issues and bad habits and I think I’m doing a better job than ever before. So that aspect of being a paladin is going well.

I think I make better use of my toolbox. My gear has been steadily improving, although both Ragnaros and Domo have stubbornly refused to drop tier tokens while I’ve been in the raid – so now I’m at the point where I expect we’ll be getting heroic shoulder token upgrades and neither myself nor my priest friend will be able to upgrade them because we never got the normal ones. Naturally, I’m unhappy about this. I don’t really have a solution in mind, but four-set doesn’t look like it’s in my future anytime soon. I’ve heard that it’s really not “all that” anyway, so perhaps that’s fine. My fellow paladins may disagree.

Paladins have many neat things that I wind up missing when I am playing a mage (and vice versa). The two speed bursts make up for not having Blink, in my book, while in Retribution spec the Long Arm of the Law gap-closer makes me happy. Playing melee is interesting and it’s definitely been a change from the DPS I’ve been used to in the past. I find myself reaching for Crusader Aura when I am playing any character that does not have Crusader Aura. (Despite world-wide flying, there are still places like the Molten Front where it is incredibly useful).

On Having Divided Character Loyalties

I eased off on trying to re-complete achievements for Vid, realizing that I was burning myself out by trying to regain ALL THE THINGS that Millya already had. Instead of trying to rebuild a pet collection, I collected some more pets until Millya was able to get the Celestial Dragon. Right now I’m doing Brewfest stuff for both of them, but the only thing Millya needs to do is get drunk in Dalaran and then fall off something, so she just needs Brewfest clothing. Vid hasn’t done the achievements at all, but Brewfest is one of my favourite holidays so I don’t mind doing them all again. I also did just enough to get my druid (the original drunkard of my “crew”) a Brewfest Keg Pony.

FOR PONY.

I think I’ve come to the point where I am resigned to the fact that I’ll never have the one character with all of the achievements and things the way that some people do. (Voss, for instance, has all of his raid achievements on Vosskah because he never plays anything else). Me? I will have different achievements depending on the character, and I may go back and re-do some if I feel the urge but I can’t let it bug me too much because I’m too variable to only ever play one character. One of my guildies was teasing me because I said during the My Epic Heals podcast that I would probably play my mage again, and that she is my “true” main. What I really mean, but can’t explain, is that my strongest loyalty lies with her, raiding aside. Raiding is only one aspect of the game, after all. I’ve been playing Millya devotedly for three years, while Vid has only even existed (at max level) for about 1-1.5 years. But her name is also my online identity and I first started blogging while writing about her so… I guess, what it comes down to is that they’re just different. I’m sure I could never abandon either of them. I didn’t expect Vid to become my raiding main, but she has, and she is awesome.

On Being A Mage

My avatar on Twitter.

The Molten Front dailies suck. They really do. The second time around, they suck in a way I can’t even describe for fear of being sucked into a whirling vortex of suckitude. I’m doing them again with Millya because she likes achievements but seriously. 150 Marks to reveal more dailies. Then another 150 until you’ve done the same thing. Then 125…three times over? It just seems excessive. Even the first time, towards the end I was really losing steam with these dailies. And I am someone who really likes dailies. I did the Isle of WTF for weeks back in the day. Anyway, Millya will get some more pets and a mount, but I reserve the right to complain about it a bit at the same time. (I know, I do it to myself).

As far as maging goes I have delved into LFD a bit more with Millya as Vid routinely caps VP through raids primarily. I don’t actually mind the DPS wait too much. I do mind the way that groups often treat DPS, like expendable (and stupid) movable artillery. If you’re unclear about which Hatcher you want killed, you don’t get to yell at me when I kill the “wrong” one when you weren’t smart enough to go pick up the hatchlings, regardless of where they spawned! And the reason we wiped on the last boss is not because I “used Time Warp in the Lynx phase and should have saved it for Dragonhawk.” It’s because you are a terrible tank that wasn’t using your CDs, and the healer was a pretty undergeared and slow druid who let you die. Also, when one DPS does 40% of the damage in a run, you should stop giving him/her a hard time.

Most of my LFD runs go well, and are fun. After healing a lot of the time I find it’s nice to relax back into exploding things with fire in the face, fire on the ground, extra big fire, little fire…! By contrast, when I’m soloing and running around the world it will usually be as Frost. My water elemental and I, Speak, are an inseparable team. I actually did go Frost on the last boss in ZG when our group was struggling, though. The added control on the Spirits made a big difference, and I wish I had thought of doing it sooner!

By the way, my elemental’s name is Speak because of this video a friend inflicted on me years ago. Now, I pass it on to you. Don’t blame me if it gets stuck in your head, though. I dun wanna war. Yee, c’mon.

A Main By Any Other Name

I went ahead and did it, folks. I took the plunge. I was writing this long entry trying to explain when I realized, why am I justifying myself to the internet at large?

For the next tier, I am going to be raiding as a holy paladin.

Oh hey. And yes, Vid rocks a Gnomeragan tabard. She is friends with gnomes. I'm working on her tabard collection, though. Achievement points are a sickness.

What precipitated this radical change? What’s the future of Manalicious?

First of all, when I moved from Pugging Pally to this new blog space I deliberately gave it an ambiguous name. Yes, it is like delicious conjured pastries and confection. But it could also apply for any class that uses mana. I knew that no matter what I might play, it would always be a mana user. So you might say I future-proofed the blog, which won’t be changing at all.

I know that many folks read here for mage content and/or have me in the mage section of their blogrolls. That’s fine, because I am still staunchly pro-mage. I never wrote that much about theorycraft here. I don’t anticipate this will have much impact on Manalicious at all.

As for why I did it, I have quite a few reasons. Our healing search was not going well. Our healing team has been extremely unstable in this expansion, experiencing nearly 100% turnover. I wanted it to be more stable. I’ve never raided primarily as a healer in progression content. I’m excited about it. I did run the majority of heroic BWD with a friend’s raid. I’m confident I can increase my skill as a healer, and work well with the other team members. I guess that’s a big part of it, too. As a DPS you may sometimes need to coordinate with the other DPS but for the most part you’re running solo. A self-sufficient spellflinger in the middle of the group, if you will. It comes with its own set of stressors. But the longer I play WoW, the more I realize that I greatly enjoy working with a team. The entire raid is a team, but the smaller microcosm of healers and tanks are also their own mini-team.

I still love being a mage. If I had to DPS, that would be my first choice. I just expect it’s going to be easier to find a great DPS than it has been to find a great healer that is also a personality fit. I’m excited about this change! The reactions I’ve gotten have ranged from dismay through to cautious enthusiasm. I wouldn’t do this if it was going to make me unhappy, truly. It’s just ironic that right after I was writing about how you should be playing your main, I realized that the fact I wasn’t playing mine might be trying to tell me something. I just wish that achievement points didn’t exist. I am going to have to try to stop caring about them, along with my pet collection. Millya’s not going away, she’s just pursuing other things for awhile. I joked that I could be happy playing any character so long as it’s a draenei. Sadly, this is probably true.

My friend Walks once remarked that druid heals are like a hug, and paladin heals are like a punch in the face. The gauntlets are on!

p.s. – We’re looking for a shadowpriest, moonkin, and we’d consider any exceptional DPS. Check us out!

Fire Mage Gemming: A Quick Overview

I’ve been seeing a disturbing mage trend lately. Sometimes folks send me armory links (their own, a friend’s, a guildmates’, whatever). Sometimes these armories reveal things. Horrible things, people. Mages with strength shoulder enchants. Mages with all blue gems. Although I’m primarily concerned with Fire these days, Intellect is the strongest stat for all mage builds. But it’s not aimed at them and so statements about secondary stats (crit, haste) may not hold true. Use at your own risk, your mileage may vary, etc.

Seeing Red

Gemming a fire mage is simple!

You want Brilliant Inferno Rubies.

Lots and lots of Brilliant Inferno Rubies. Intellect is far and away our most powerful stat. A red socket? Put a red gem in it.

So many beautiful red gems.

Now this next part is, I think, where many mages get tripped up. It’s extremely tempting when you see a socket of a particular colour to want to put a gem that will match that colour. We’re taught this as kids, right? Sorting games, matching games, all your crayons colour-sorted (okay, maybe that was just me).

You must let this go.

Whenever you’re gemming any piece of gear, take a critical look at what you stand to gain and lose. For example, take these Firelord’s Gloves. They have a yellow socket. The socket bonus is +10 Mastery, which you could achieve if you used an orange Reckless Ember Topaz. In that case you’d have +20 Int, +20 Haste, and +10 Mastery. But it’s not worth it. You’re losing 20 Int by not gemming an Inferno Ruby, and Int should be your priority.

Now let’s look at another piece of tier gear, something a bit trickier, the Firelord’s Leggings. Now these have a red socket (no brainer) and a yellow socket. But look at the socket bonus – it’s +20 Int. You could put an Inferno Ruby in each socket and you’d have +80 int gain from gems. Or, if you put a red (+40) and an orange (+20 Int/+20 Haste) you’d also meet the socket requirements so you’d have a total of +80 Int and +20 Haste. In this case you stand to gain by using an orange gem, but unless the socket bonus on a piece is 20 Intellect or greater, it will almost always be a DPS loss to gem other than red.

Hit Me With Your Best Shot

I’m anticipating you here. But what about hit gems, you say. I’m so far below the hit cap, I can’t possibly hit the cap without using gems. I still stand by no blue gems, period. At the beginning of the expansion when our meta gems were loopy you could argue a case for blue gems. The hit cap can seem a distant goal. First, you have to be familiar with other ways to reach the hit cap. Investigate hit trinkets (like the one from Tol Barad) and reforge your weakest stats to hit on all your gear wherever possible. For fire mages, this means mastery. Reforge mastery because it’s really not great. Seek gear with hit on it, and see how close you are at that point. If you’re close, consider that you may be hit-capped and you will do less DPS than a mage who is not hit-capped but has more Int.

I know, it’s radical. We’re bludgeoned with hit cap this and hit cap that. And don’t get me wrong, it’s important to reach the hit cap. But hit is only important up until the point where it isn’t – and perhaps even close to that point. Over the past month my hit has varied from between about 16.5% and 17%. Having all of my spells hitting harder (with more spellpower, more int!) is, I believe, better for me than killing myself to reach the hit cap. Look at everywhere you can obtain hit (enchants, reforging, gear) and seek it through those avenues first before devoting your gemming to it. In any slot where you are sacrificing potential Intellect, realize that you will be hurting your DPS.

Much like the Firelord’s Leggings above, there will sometimes be pieces of gear where having a purple hybrid gem to gain a socket bonus IS worthwhile. In these cases, by all means, use an Intellect/Hit gem. That extra twenty hit will be invaluable and it’s just icing on the delicious intellect cake we so love to conjure.

If you want to read about this in more depth, the Fire Mage Compendium at EJ is excellent and should cover all of your needs. I can’t recommend it enough. I know not everybody wants to read EJ though, you may just have a mage alt you like to play from time to time, or whatever. So, the TL;DR version:

Gem red, unless the socket bonus is equal to what you’d stand to gain from gemming red anyway. Grab as much Int as you can. Reforge your gear to gain the hit you need and seek gear with hit already on it. Remember the in-game tooltip shows you how much hit you have versus various level creatures, and you only need 17% hit if you’re going to be raiding. Your DPS might be higher if you aren’t quite at the hit cap even for raiding, but use this advice with caution. It’s one of those ‘you have to know the rules before you can break the rules’ things. If you just want to run 5-person content, load up on Int and never look back!

Kill It With Fire: A Pyromaniacal Mage Flowchart

I have to thank Runzwithfire for the idea of making a flowchart – although I hear he’s more Runzwithfrost these days. I didn’t want to make a frost chart, so I made a fire one instead.

Read this with a few caveats.

  1. This is primarily for single target fights. The chart does mention adds in a roundabout way, but they are not prioritized. This changes for special cases, e.g. Halfus Wyrmbreaker’s heroic mode. Because of the debuff on Halfus and the nature of Impact procs as well as the need to DPS the whelps, Impact becomes much more important in this fight. But for the majority of boss fights, this is what you’ll do.
  2. I’ve never made a flowchart before so it may not work in a perfect loop. When in doubt, cast Fireball, and never stop casting something.
  3. The initial “rotation” works because it’s stuff you can do as you are moving into position. Scorch on the move, put up LB, summon your orb and your mirrors and then go to town. Always keep as many dots as possible. Never cast Combustion without Ignite. If you’ve been very unlucky with hot streak you may cast it without Pyroblast, but never without all your other buffs!
  4. I assume any on-use trinkets will be used along with your main nuke. It’s beneficial to refresh DoTs when a trinket procs to give you more Int/Spellpower but that’s beyond the scope of a flow chart.
  5. Combustion Helper is an excellent addon for fire specs to easily manage all those DoTs, I highly recommend it.

It burrrrns us.

So there you have it, my first flow chart! Thanks to Voss for help with Visio thing (ridiculously easy to use). They’re fun! It got a little bit silly at the end there.

Cataclysm Heroic Tips and Strategies for Mages (Part 4)

This is the fourth and final installment in my series of heroic tips and strategies for mages. I know it was a long time coming – raid start hit me pretty hard and I just haven’t had the time to sit down and write this. Better late than never, right? As always, please feel free to add a comment if you have anything to contribute that I’ve neglected to mention!

This is part four in a series of mage-specific heroic Cataclysm instance guides. This part deals with only The Deadmines and Shadowfang Keep.

Part one includes some basic instancing strategies, as well as tips for Blackrock Caverns and Throne of the Tides. You can find it here.

Part two covers The Stonecore, Vortex Pinnacle, and Grim Batol and is located here.

Part three talked about Halls of Origination and Lost City of the Tol’Vir and you can find it here.

These are not the full strategy guides for each instance – only mage-things that may prove useful. This guide assumes that you are familiar with the basic strategy for each encounter. For instance cheat sheets, you can check out the guides a guildie of mine wrote over at Sword and Board.

And now you will have this song stuck in your head, for which I apologize (but it’s so catchy!) “Well, there was this one time…”

Heroic Deadmines

Trash: Pay attention to the Defias Envokers – they have a passive ability up on them called Envoker’s Shield that protects them from most crowd control. You can spellsteal it and then sheep them, which you may be called upon to do.

Later in the instance you will encounter Defias Blood Wizards. They do two useful things – they put a big red bubble on the ground that will give you the buff Ragezone. You will both cause (and take) 50% greater damage. Watch out for if you have the spinning swords around you (or are standing near a companion who has them). These guys also cast a haste buff called Bloodwash that can be spellstolen.

Finally, the Defias Squallshapers on the ramps leading to the ship have an cast you should interrupt called Seaswell. When their health gets low they’ll cast Riptide on themselves. Spellsteal it quickly – it helps your healer and prevents them from healing themselves.

Glubtok

  • This fight is really not very complicated if you just avoid things that are clearly going to hurt you. Phase one has fire and ice patches on the ground. At a predetermined amount of health, he’ll move to the center of the room and conjure a rotating fire wall.
  • The wall moves clockwise, so what you’ll want to do is strafe over to the left side of it and continue to DPS as the wall approaches. Melee DPS can’t do much to Glubtok at this point and the phase includes adds being tanked and more patches of bad things on the ground.
  • I use Time Warp to minimize time spent in this phase – especially if the group has other ranged DPS it should be over pretty quickly.
  • If you do this correctly and never take fire wall damage, you’ll get an achievement – Congratulations, you’re Ready For Raiding!

Helix Gearbreaker

  • This fight begins with killing Helix’s oaf, and then once he’s dead you kill Helix himself. Periodically he’ll jump off the oaf and onto a person or onto the ground.
  • Someone set us up the bomb – you can tell when these are going to explode because the fuses change in appearance. Don’t be near them.
  • If Helix puts a bomb on your chest, stay away from the group so you don’t explode on them. It’s the gift that keeps on giving!
  • You may have Helix himself jump on your face at some point – you probably shouldn’t panic and run around in circles like I have been known to do (just once!) because the melee people in your group are trying to attack him.
  • The oaf can also pick people up and smash them against the wall – just don’t be in-between them and the wall. If you are the one picked up, unfortunately you can’t Iceblock out of it.

Foe Reaper 5000

  • Someone has to be the DPS controlling the Prototype Reaper. I prefer it not to be me (or other ranged DPS) because we can keep DPSing the boss while melee DPS has to run away from his AoE. Still, if you’re stuck doing it at any point remember to keep yourself between the fire adds and the ramp – your task is to tank them and keep them from the group, and this is a task I cannot advise you in. Next time nobody else gets into the Reaper I’m just going to play dead.
  • The Reaper has two primary abilities – Overdrive (AoE centered on himself) and Harvest. He marks a location on the ground and destroys everything between him and it. Be somewhere else (blink for the hills!) You can still DPS him from a safe distance. You may spend much of this fight doing a bit of running back and forth.
  • Use Time Warp when he enrages (it emotes “Safety Restrictions Off-line!) because this is the toughest time for your tank and healer.

Admiral Ripsnarl

  • Make sure you have nameplates enabled so that you can see any Vapors spawning. Contrary to usual, I save Fire Orb for the first Vapor phase because it provides a convenient passive way to DPS these. Depending on your spec and mana you can AoE to hit them, or single target them – I use Fire Blast and Scorch, myself, but you can use whatever tickles your fancy (and kills them).
  • This can get intense if your DPS are not focusing on the vapors as they spawn – depending on your tank and healer, too many Vapors growing large can and will wipe your group. Make sure you’re not the only one attacking them!
  • Other than vapors, just attack Ripsnarl himself as you are able and he’ll die soon enough.

Captain Cookie

  • You have some options here. Cookie throws out various types of food – it’s either bad (green and with a painful aura) or good food (sparkly and delicious). When you eat the good food you gain one stack of the buff Satiated. This can stack up to 99 times(!). Yes, you read that correctly. Eating bad food will give you the Nauseated debuff.
  • When we do this, we pretty much just ignore the bad food and treat this fight as a DPS race – keep stacking good food to infinity and kill Cookie before your mana runs out. This is harder on the healer though, and you still shouldn’t stand in the green AoE clouds even if you’re ignoring good food.
  • It’s worth noting that to get the I’m On A Diet achievement you do need to get at least one stack of Nauseated, so you will need to eat bad food just once, according to Wowhead commenters.

Vanessa VanCleef

  • This encounter is a gauntlet with a series of challenges. For phase one, you have to dodge fire while running down the Foe Reaper’s ramp. Don’t try to run straight down the ramp, you have to jump off the right side at one point. Use Mage Ward to mitigate some of the damage from either the fire or the ice patches on the ground.
  • Don’t bother with attacking the spiders that spawn – make sure you keep the boss targeted.
  • There’s no magical mage trick to get past the “Mario” portion of this gauntlet, you’re just going to have to edge along around the beams with everyone else. Iceblock does not work here, the beams go straight through it, and Blink is liable to just get you killed. There’s a safe spot to the left where you can group up and wait for people once you’re through.
  • Before the ship is a DPS race with an incredible speed buff – stick with your tank and be careful not to fall off the edge.
  • During the actual encounter with Vanessa many adds will spawn. You can DPS her when she isn’t deflecting, otherwise kill the adds. You’ll remember the Defias Blood Wizards from the trash earlier – they drop a Ragezone and cast Bloodwash so use these tools accordingly (stand in one, spellsteal the other!)
  • Try to position yourself and DPS from a place where you’ll be ready to grab a rope when it spawns, there’s no reason for you to be anywhere else (barring Ragezones).

Heroic Shadowfang Keep

Baron Ashbury

  • This fight depends on coordination of interrupts. Ashbury has several things that must be interrupted. It’s better to talk about this beforehand so you know who is interrupting what. Since our interrupt is on a relatively long cooldown, many groups may assign other interrupters, but be prepared to assume responsibility for one if need be.
  • Pain and Suffering will damage the entire party and also must be interrupted.
  • Approximately every 40-45 seconds, he will Asphyxiate everyone. You can Iceblock out of this.
  • Immediately after Asphyxiation, he will begin to channel Stay of Execution. This heals your party and him – let it tick 1-2 times before interrupting to let your healer get a handle on things. This ability is the objective of an achievement – Pardon Denied. To get the achievement you don’t let him channel the ability at all, so it’s really a challenge for your healer. Make sure you know whether your party is attempting to do this or not before interrupting it, lest you cause an inadvertent wipe!
  • At 25% he enrages and begins to cause unavoidable damage to the party. Use Time Warp here to get it over with quickly.

Baron Silverlaine

  • This guy is really pretty simple as a DPS player. He summons adds that should be killed; I like to spread the damage around with various AoE effects and multiple Living Bombs. A fire mage with a lucky Hot Streak can get lined up to cast Combustion on Silverlaine just before he brings out his first add, so you are doing maximum damage to him at the same time.
  • Be careful not to pull aggro on any of the adds until the tank has a solid threat lead.

Commander Springvale

  • Springvale can be a bit tricky if you haven’t done him before (specifically if you’re trying to get his achievement).
  • Unfortunately, our CC is not useful here, so the only thing we can do (if no Undead CC is available) is to burn his adds as they spawn. One is called a Wailing Guardsman and one is a Tormented Officer. We usually assign DPS to handle each. These adds will attempt to cast Unholy Empowerment, which can and should be interrupted. Especially if your tank is moving out of Desecration, he/she may be unable to interrupt this at range so use that counterspell!
  • Make sure you’re behind him wherever he is being tanked. He does a massive damage AoE frontal cone ability and also puts Desecration on the ground. Don’t stand in either of these and you should be fine.

Lord Walden

  • I have a ridiculous amount of fun during this fight. It’s easy – it’s just a big game of Traffic Light.
  • If there’s a big column of green in the center of the room, don’t stop moving (or as my guildies know, “Hey guys, I’m casting scorch while moving!”)
  • If there’s a big column of red in the center of the room, don’t move. It also grants a tasty crit buff, so go wild!
  • He also drops ice shards but these are largely inconsequential and very easy to dodge.

Lord Godfrey

  • I hear that the curse from Cursed Bullets really hurts. As usual, we can help with that, so make sure you’ve got some easy way to see a cursed friendly player and quickly remove it.
  • Do not stand in front of his Pistol Barrage. Depending on where your tank is facing him this can be pretty easy – I’ve noticed some ranged like to stand at the very edge of the top wall, which is possible but mildly annoying. I tried this the other day and it causes my Flame Orb to just sit there stupidly and then explode. They aren’t smart enough to figure out pathing. Mind you, the damage from the orb is negligible so if you prefer to just stay out of harm’s way it’s certainly an option.

And that concludes the series about heroics for mages! I hope they were helpful to someone out there just getting their feet wet as a fresh mage. If you are more of a veteran and you’ve thought of things I haven’t, please feel free to leave them in the comments!

(p.s. Thank you all for your kind words on my previous post. I have read and really appreciate each and every one. I will be replying to them individually, meantime I didn’t want anyone to think I was just ignoring them, far from it! You are all awesome.)

Patch 4.0.6 for Mages

We interrupt the regularly scheduled Tuesday Art Day for more pressing matters. First, here’s a video from the genius of Greyfoo to make you laugh while you’re waiting for the servers to come back up. What do mages have to look forward to? I’ve cut the relevant part of the patch notes out here. A few of them are mostly relevant to me (unless you’re also a draenei mage, in which case, draenei solidarity!) I’ve put commentary underneath most of the things. (TL;DR – most mages are going to be pretty happy today, and we’re going to hope things work out well for Frost). Gazimoff wrote an analysis of 4.0.6 worth checking out a little while back, with more explanation. If you’d like to read the full list of patch notes, they’re available here.

Mages

  • Arcane Barrage mana cost has been reduced by 8%.
  • Arcane Blast mana cost has been reduced by 12%.
  • The mana costs of Arcane Brilliance and Dalaran Brilliance have been reduced by approximately 16%, making them roughly equal to the cost of Mark of the Wild.
  • Counterspell lockout duration reduced to 7 seconds, down from 8.
  • Fireball mana cost has been reduced to 9% of base mana.
  • Flame Orb now ignores critters.
  • Frostfire Bolt mana cost has been reduced to 9% of base mana.
  • Mage Armor now reduces the duration of magic effects by 35%, down from 50%.
  • Molten Armor, Frost Armor, and Mage Armor no longer cost mana.
  • Polymorph now has a PvP duration of 8 seconds.
  • Ring of Frost: Radius shrunk to 8 yards, and inner “safe” radius is now 4.7 yards (exactly matching graphic). Dispelling the effect of Ring of Frost will now make the target immune to being refrozen for 3 seconds. If a second Ring of Frost is cast by the same mage while the first is still active (via Cold Snap), the first will now disappear and cease functioning. In addition, Ring of Frost now has a PvP duration of 8 seconds.
  • When a mage uses the Invisibility spell, it will now also cause their pet Water Elemental to become invisible.

Most of this stuff is great news – mana reduction, mana reduction – Flame Orb gets marginally smarter, and Ring of Frost gets a predicted nerf. Also, when I’m questing in Frost I won’t have to abandon poor Speak to certain death because he’ll go invisible when I do. Good stuff overall! There’s a nerf in here for Mage Armor too, but in the grand scheme of things it’s not too terrible.

Talent Specializations
Arcane

  • Slow now has a PvP duration of 8 seconds.

Fire

  • Firestarter now allows the mage to cast Scorch while moving (regardless of which armor spell is used), and no longer eliminates Molten Armor’s critical strike chance reduction.
  • Flashburn (Mastery) benefit per mastery has been increased by 12%.
  • Living Bomb mana cost has been reduced by 22%.

Frost

  • Deep Freeze damage done has been reduced by 20%.
  • Fingers of Frost can no longer be dispelled and now also increases Ice Lance damage by 15%.
  • Frost Specialization now only grants 2 base points of mastery (instead of 8), reducing all Frost damage to frozen targets by 15% from previous values. However, Frost Specialization now increases base Frostbolt damage by 15%.

More PvP adjustments for Arcane. Firestarter is greatly improved and now we can cast scorch while moving regardless of armor (“I’m casting scorch while mooooving guys!”, my guild hears this pretty often) AND Molten Armor will now grant crit. So that’s a straight-up buff, enjoy your new crit! Flashburn also gets a 12% increase which is pretty substantial. This along with the mana cost improvements to Fireball and Frostfire Bolt means Fire mages should be  pretty happy with these changes.

As for Frost, I had read that they claimed what looks like nerfs is actually a normalization and that Frost and Fire mages have been performing similarly on the PTR. We’ll have to see how this plays out – if anything it should save our frost mage from a heart attack when he uses Deep Freeze a few seconds into a boss fight.

Mage bug fixes

  • Arcane Power now has its tooltip updated when Glyph of Arcane Power is active.
  • The attachment point of Cone of Cold was too far left and has been adjusted on male troll models.
  • Evocation was returning less mana than the tooltip stated it should. This has been corrected.
  • Flame Orb’s tooltip should now state how much damage it will explode for after the Fire Power talent is chosen.
  • Rank 1 Frostfire Orb is no longer applying a debuff that incorrectly states that it snares its target.
  • The Hurricane weapon enchant should no longer proc when Polymorph is cast.
  • Molten Armor tooltips now display the correct information.
  • Nether Vortex was causing Arcane Blast to yield a string error when Arcane Blast was reflected. It shouldn’t do that.
  • When Presence of Mind was active, Conjure Mana Gem was not becoming an instant cast spell if used to refresh a stack of 2 or less Mana Gems. This has been fixed.
  • Presence of Mind is no longer consumed when Flame Orb is cast.
  • Ring of Frost can now be cast and works properly on transports (this includes elevators, trapdoors, etc.).

I’m not sure how great the discrepancy was between actual mana and the tooltip, but evocation will give a bit more mana. Now, I don’t see it mentioned here but I’m sure I read it elsewhere. There was a bug where putting only one point into Pyromaniac was granting a flat 5% haste all the time. This is being remedied and will no longer be the case.

Glyph fixes

  • Glyph of Arcane Power should correctly reduce the global cooldown of Blink, Mana Shield, and Mirror Image to 0.
  • Ice Barrier’s tooltip is now correctly updated by Glyph of Ice Barrier.

Items

  • Bell of Enraging Resonance can now trigger from any damage spell instead of only critical strikes.

Worth noting if you have this trinket from Atramedes – it seems it just got better!

Alchemy

  • Alchemist’s Stones for Agility, Strength, and Intellect have been added.

If you’re an alchemist, in which case you already get twice as long for your flasks and rub my face in it during raids and…why in my day we used our normal flasks and we liked them, too! Grumble, etc. No really, enjoy your fancy new trinket, alchemists.

Enchanting

  • Three new bracer enchants are available. They increase Agility by 50, Strength by 50, or Intellect by 50 respectively. Item level 300 or higher required. These new recipes are rare world drops.
  • Enchant Off-Handed – Superior Intellect now increases Intellect by 40, down from 100.

If you’ve been using Crit or Hit to your bracers, you’ll be wanting to find this new enchant when you can! Meantime, good-bye 60 intellect. I loved you.
Engineering

  • Synapse Springs now increase Agility, Strength, or Intellect (whichever is highest for the character). In addition, the effect now lasts 10 seconds, down from 12.

I’m not an engineer, but this sounds good if you are a one.

Jewelcrafting

  • Meta gems with the Chaotic and Relentless prefixes now have a requirement of 3 red gems.
  • New meta gems have been added: Agile Shadowspirit Diamond (Agility/3% critical damage), Reverberating Shadowspirit Diamond (Strength/3% critical damage), and Burning Shadowspirit Diamond (Intellect/3% critical damage). These new recipes are unbound and can drop from any Cataclysm creature. The new meta gems have a requirement of 3 red gems equipped.
  • Vivid Dream Emerald (new gem) provides resilience/spell penetration and can be purchased for 3 Illustrious Tokens.
  • Wrath of the Lich King purple, green, and orange gems have been increased in cost to match red, blue, and yellow epic gems (220 Justice Points). Burning Crusade epic gems have been increased in cost to match the most expensive Wrath of the Lich King gems.

What we have all been waiting for! Take note, if you’ve been using a meta other than Chaotic (and it wasn’t worth using Chaotic) you will now want to switch to Chaotic immediately until you can get your hands on the Burning Shadowspirit Diamond. Unfortunately the recipe is a world drop. When you’re able to obtain it, it will be the meta of choice and I am very excited.

As for the other changes, no more swapping Justice Points for cheap and resell able Burning Crusade gems, and a new spell penetration/resilience gem available for PvPers. But did I mention the new meta gems? Because there are these new meta gems…!

Races

  • The draenei racial trait Gift of the Naaru now heals 20% of the target’s health over 15 seconds, rather than a scaling value.

For me this translates to approximately a 21K heal. It used to scale with my spellpower, and I think it heals for less this way, but I’m still going to be using it pretty much on cooldown.

Character info window

  • The Haste display on the Character Info window (C) now shows the total haste percentage, rather than only haste from haste rating.

A minor quality of life improvement so you can see your total haste. Not a big thing, but worth noting.

Have fun burning, freezing, and… er…blasting some things, fellow mages! Do you have a better idea for the arcane verb: to kill things with targeted magic? Feel free to share it in the comments!

Cataclysm Heroic Tips and Strategies for Mages (Part 3)

I’m trying to get these out as quickly as I can! I know they are relevant right now, but bear with me. Just one more post after this one will finish them up. Thanks for the feedback and additions on the previous posts, I appreciate them. Remember if you have any tips I’ve forgotten or just haven’t thought of, please leave them in a comment!

This is part three in a series of mage-specific heroic Cataclysm instance guides. This part deals with only Halls of Origination and Lost City of the Tol’Vir.

Part one includes some basic instancing strategies, as well as tips for Blackrock Caverns and Throne of the Tides. You can find it here.

Part two covers The Stonecore, Vortex Pinnacle, and Grim Batol and is located here.

These are not the full strategy guides for each instance – only mage-things that may prove useful. This guide assumes that you are familiar with the basic strategy for each encounter. For instance cheat sheets, you can check out the guides a guildie of mine wrote over at Sword and Board.

See the one waving his hands in the back? You want what he's having.

Halls of Origination

Trash: You can spellsteal Molten Barrier from the Temple Fireshapers – it increases your spell haste by 50% and also randomly shoots fireballs at nearby targets. Try to be careful where you’re standing once you have this – it can and will break CC. It’s still preferable for you to have it, and not the Temple Fireshaper.

Most of the bosses in HoO can be done in any order, with the exception of Ptah who is only available after Anhuur is killed. Keep in mind that your group may be doing them in a different order than you expect, but you can use Time Warp on one of the last four bosses and have it ready to go by the time you reach the last. I like to use it for Setesh, and then Rajh.

There are four elemental “mini-bosses” that primarily do things you don’t want to stand in.

Earth Warden does a frontal earthquake sort of thing, Fire Warden has flame, etc. Water Warden targets someone to put a water bubble on. DPS this bubble to free your party members – if he targets you with it, you can blink out of it, leaving only a confused, empty water bubble behind. (Tell your party so they don’t waste time trying to free you from a bubble you aren’t in.)

Temple Guardian Anhuur

  • You will be handling either the left or right side, with one other person. Depending on who you’re with, decide who is going to attack snakes and who is going to pull the lever. (Snakes and levers?!)
  • You can slowfall yourself, your partner or both – it’s up to you. I slowfall down and drop a Blast Wave as I’m falling.
  • The snakes hit hard. AoE them and keep them from your partner however you can – to give you both some lead time, you can Frost Nova them and run up the stairs at the end of the phase. You can also put RoF on the stairs or the landing to buy you both some time, if you position well it can be pretty useful.
  • Using Time Warp any time before the end of the fight isn’t necessarily very helpful; since he shields at percentages of his health, you’ll only force his next shield phase sooner. I save it for immediately following the second shield phase.

Earthrager Ptah

  • Make sure to find yourself a camel before this fight! Besides being kind of neat looking (with an entirely implausible jump animation) the camel allows you to cast and move simultaneously.
  • I find that sprinting in circles while avoiding dust clouds, spikes and whirlwind all while cackling madly and flinging fireballs is fun – but not strictly necessary for success.

Anraphet

  • Your task here is to simply DPS him before your healer and tank get overwhelmed by AoE and damage. Accordingly, if Time Warp is available it’s a solid choice to use it for this fight.

Isiset

  • Much like Eadric from ToC, use your mouse’s right button to quickly spin and face away right before she finishes casting Supernova.
  • You can and should spellsteal Veil of Sky from her – it protects from all damage but drains mana instead, much like Mana Shield. The purpose here is to take it from her, not that it’ll necessarily do much for you.
  • Blink away from her laser beams and kill adds. Make sure that you know which of her three aspects your party will be focusing on, especially if you don’t have Ventrilo or similar. Burn down the specified targets, and that’s it!

Ammunae

  • Fire/Frostfire Orb is good to save a few seconds into the fight – if it’s up, it can help you to target spawning seed pods. You can also adapt a macro for this purpose: “/target Seedling Pod” will do it.
  • If this is done right, you shouldn’t ever see a Bloodpetal Blossom, but he will spawn Spores regardless. Kill the spores and don’t stand in the gunk they drop. If for some reason a Bloodpetal was able to spawn, they can be killed by kiting/standing them in this residue.
  • Interrupt Wither if you see him casting it.

Setesh

  • This boss is fun, because the tank isn’t really tanking him. Hit it like you mean it!
  • The biggest thing you have to worry about is attacking his Chaos Portals as soon as possible. If you’re familiar with Lord Jarraxus in ToC, it’s the same thing. Burn them down. Your target macro from Ammunae, re-purposed to “/target Chaos Portal” will serve you well here.
  • When he casts Seed of Chaos, it puts little purple bubbles on the ground. Being in them will hurt you, but also increase your damage output. Don’t overdo it if your healer is struggling, but the buff will help end the fight more quickly.
  • As mentioned above, I like to use Time Warp on this fight. Any time is fine.
  • Any time spent killing adds is wasted time, but you can attempt to use slowing abilities to help your tank if he/she is kiting them. By the end of the fight this can get pretty hectic with adds and explosions and void zones all over the place, so just remember to keep attacking portals, attack Setesh when you can and make it all end quickly.

Rajh

  • First of all, Rajh’s trash has a spellstealable ability. I’m going counter to everything else in these guides by saying:  Do not steal it. The tooltip says that it increases fire damage by 75%. It lies. This ability is currently bugged, and will instead do the exact opposite, decreasing your fire damage by 75%. It also stacks, so it’s possible if you steal this to reduce your damage to next to nothing (if you’re a fire mage).
  • This fight is all about interrupts, and you have one! Use it to interrupt his Inferno Leap and Summon Sun Orb.
  • Save your cooldowns for when he’s casting Blessing of the Sun (if he ever gets that far). Your damage is increased by 100% at this time. Use Time Warp at this point as well.
  • Don’t forget to Mage Ward to help absorb any damage if he’s able to cast his Sun Orb. Almost all of the damage in this fight is fire-based.

Lost City of the Tol’vir

Trash: I like this place because it really doesn’t have too much in the way of complicated trash. You will probably be expected to CC, but the trash generally doesn’t do stupendous things. The only great trash in Lost City is the trash that allows you to do this:

Yes, that's a turtle standing on top of an angry pygmy. Such is the power of Polymorph that they never even noticed. These three-stacks of pygmies are a source of endless amusement, as you can imagine. Bring a mage friend! Make a turtle stack!

General Husam

  • You can tell when traps are going to explode by the pulsing animation – use Blink to stay one step ahead of them.
  • You can’t Iceblock out of being thrown up on the pillar, but you can Iceblock or slowfall to avoid any falling damage.

High Prophet Barim

  • Don’t be caught standing in the Giant Sun Beam Of Doom, but be careful not to blink too close to party members. His Plague of Ages spreads via proximity.
  • Use Time Warp on this fight during his Shadow phase to help end it quickly. Burn the phoenix! We just ignore the smaller adds.

Lockmaw and Augh

  • In the first phase (Lockjaw), be ready to Blink to stay out of whirlwinds or avoid crocs if necessary. AoE the crocs down, they’ll come snapping at whoever has the red arrow over their head. Especially if this is your healer, back them up with Blast Wave, Frost Nova, Dragon’s Breath, etc. A healer being gnawed on is a healer that can’t heal you or the tank.
  • Time Warp can be used if available, but shouldn’t make a huge difference to your success. If the adds are kept under control, everything will be fine.
  • You can wait before engaging Augh (and listen to him trash talking! “Who’s bad? Augh bad!”) so make sure to sit and eat to get back your health and mana.
  • Augh himself doesn’t require anything special, just stay out of the way of his whirlwind.

Siamat

  • You’re on add duty for most of this fight, as Siamat himself becomes invulnerable. You’ll be attacking caster adds primarily; you can Counterspell some of their attacks.
  • Be careful of hurricanes that can and will toss you up and even off the platform – if this happens you can try blinking quickly to land on the platform, but this will only work if you haven’t been tossed too far back (I haven’t tested this, and have never been thrown off so I don’t know how helpful slowfall is here).
  • Blink can also help you navigate the platform if necessary.
  • If you have Time Warp, use it once Siamat is vulnerable and burn him down.

That’s it for those instances! Only two remaining – Shadowfang Keep and Heroic Deadmines. I’ll try to publish a post about them in the next day or so.

Cataclysm Heroic Tips and Strategies for Mages (Part 2)

This is part two in a series of mage-specific heroic Cataclysm instance guides. I’ll be covering The Stonecore, Vortex Pinnacle, and Grim Batol.

Part one includes some basic instancing strategies, as well as tips for Blackrock Caverns and Throne of the Tides. You can find it here.

These are not the full strategy guides for each instance – only mage-things that may prove useful. This guide assumes that you are familiar with the basic strategy for each encounter. For instance cheat sheets, you can check out the guides a guildie of mine wrote over at Sword and Board.

This is what my rogue friend was doing in Stonecore. I don't recommend it as a long-term strategy, though.

The Stonecore

Trash: I can’t remember any noteworthy spellstealable buffs off the top of my head, but the trash in general is annoying. The first three pulls in this instance, on Heroic, are some of the toughest pulls in any instance. Your CC will be invaluable here. Keep as many of these guys under control as possible. The trash later is a series of annoying, constant add spawns and that one guy who jumps on everyone. Just take it one pull at a time and you’ll be okay.

Corborus

  • This is pretty self-evident, but Blink is useful to keep yourself out of bad things (dust clouds, adds, pink shards, etc.)
  • Your biggest priority in this fight is to slam the pink shards down as quickly as possible – I find a well-placed Blast Wave + Flamestrike will pretty much handle this. What the initial burst doesn’t kill, the Flamestrike takes care of. Any similar AoE effect will do, though.
  • The adds that spawn when he is burrowed don’t have much HP – don’t waste too much mana on them. I dispatch them with a series of quick scorches or fire blast if mana allows. Substitute your quick abilities according to spec!

Slabhide

  • In terms of DPS this fight is pretty easy. You can continue nuking him for most of the fight, with the exception of the time when you must duck behind a stalactite to LoS his Crystal Storm AoE.
  • Try to find where your healer is and stay within LoS, it will make their life easier (and prolong yours). LoS is hell in this fight for healers, they are struggling to make sure they can heal the tank, so it’s your responsibility to make it easy for them to heal you, too.

Ozruk

  • Fortunately for us, we don’t have to worry about the annoying things this guy is doing to the tank. Our primary concern is making sure we aren’t paralyzed for too long.
  • Use his Spell Reflect ability to place a DoT on yourself – the damage will break you out of Paralyze. I tend to use Living Bomb for this purpose. An added benefit (depending on your perspective) is that LB will explode on you and if you’re standing near group members, damage and break them out of Paralyze, too. This can help out healers who may not have had time to place a DoT of their own. Make sure to ask about this first, though, and if it’s not needed keep yourself far enough away that you aren’t causing unnecessary collateral damage to the folks around you. Use Mage Ward to absorb some of your own fire damage after you’re freed!
  • It’s worth noting that his Elementium Bulwark can be Spellstolen – but be careful with this! If you steal it before all your party members can DoT themselves, you’re going to mess them up. It is nice to steal it so you can keep DPSing him, just be judicious about it. And to my guildies who may or may not have said “Where did his shield go? Crap, I’m paralyzed” – I had nothing to do with it.

High Priestess Azil

  • You can help Decurse in this fight. You have unit frames and an easy keybind set up so you can see and remove curses, right?
  • Help lead adds into void zones if any aggro onto you, if necessary. If not – just stay out of the void zones, watch out for rocks and burn her down. Don’t expect loot, though – rumours of the cloth boots she drops are greatly exaggerated in my experience.

Encounters aside, Vortex Pinnacle is visually my favourite instance so far in the game. Even running it at different times of day changes the way it looks completely. It's gorgeous!

The Vortex Pinnacle

Trash: You can spellsteal Vapor Form from the Empyrean Assassins. It doesn’t increase your DPS, but it’ll help your group be able to kill them (otherwise it reduces their incoming damage by 75%).

Later in the instance, watch for Hand of Protection on Servants of Asaad. It looks and acts just like the paladin version we all know and love.

Grand Vizier Ertan

  • Standing in the exact center (inside of his hit box) will prevent you from being hit by the tornadoes.
  • If your DPS seems to need it (or if your healer is having trouble with the AoE damage) you may use Time Warp, but I prefer to use it for Altairus.
  • Remember that because you are in melee range, you don’t have the threat buffer you ordinarily would at range, so keep an eye on your threat. If you pull aggro, nothing’s going to save you from being a mage-shaped splatter on the ground.

Altairus

  • Advanced blinking skills come into play here. You can blink to get upwind more readily but be careful not to do it straight into a tornado! They’re always moving around so this is a tall order. You may find it safer to just run. If you’re able to stay upwind of him for any significant length of time, the fight should be fairly short and sweet.
  • Time Warp can be used at any time when your group is situated appropriately. The more folks benefiting from both it and the upwind buff, the better!

Asaad

  • In the heroic version of this, the range for his chain lightning is ridiculously huge. It’s serious business. I was used to blinking to safety to avoid chaining it, but this requires a bit more finesse. Blink is still very useful for getting into his electricity triangles, even if you do get a chain lightning. Don’t use Time Warp during one of his “in the air” cycles because it can be tough to get LoS on him properly (he flies up), but you can keep DPSing him if you back your rear up against one of the points of the triangle. Just don’t go too far. Immediately after an air phase would be a good time, if you don’t have Temporal Displacement from the previous fight.
  • You can jump to avoid his Static Cling spell before it finishes casting. This isn’t mage specific, except you know what Static Cling can do to robes, right? Don’t be a fashion disaster.

I used to feel that Grim Batol's only redeeming factor was the amount of cloth that drops here. Now I think its only redeeming factor is the sword I got here, AND the amount of cloth that drops here.

Grim Batol

Trash: The trash here is unique in that the red dragon flight at the beginning of the instance can make it ridiculously easy. If your party is skilled, you can bring all of the groups along your “path” to very low-health without killing them – so much sweet, sweet rep!

If you have a tank that is a huge fan of CC, remind him gently that while a mob is polymorphed, it regenerates its health. Polymorphing something that is more than half dead is counterproductive when a few solid shots would just kill it outright and get it out of the way.

General Umbriss

  • We have no excuse to ever get hit by a Blitz here, it’s so easy to blink out of the way.
  • Someone (and it may be a mage) is going to be in charge of handling the purple troggs. You have to hit them with enough burst to pull them away from the tank, but not kill them before they’ve come towards you – if they are killed within his range they’ll enrage Umbriss. (This is an achievement, but not to be attempted unless everyone in your party is prepared for it). They don’t have a ton of health so it’s pretty easy to pull and kite them if necessary.
  • Alternately, sheep the purple trogg and just keep an eye on it for the fight, just be sure to have your tank positioned away from their spawn point so you have enough room to work with.
  • Umbriss enrages at 30% of his health and you can’t avoid it. Use Time Warp here to get this burn phase over with as quickly as possible.

Forgemaster Throngus

  • His sword phase doesn’t have much of consequence for you – he’s hitting the tank hard, though.
  • During his mace phase, use blink to relocate strategically and avoid his fire trail. Your biggest concern in this phase is to not pull aggro. Your tank will be kiting him, and he won’t be generating as much threat as usual. I tend to use Invisibility near the end of this phase, just to be on the safe side.
  • His shield phase includes a brutal fire AoE cone that is targeted on a person. Collapse on him and remain behind him as you DPS to avoid fireballing yourself in the face. Use Mage Ward to give yourself a bit of leeway to move out of the cone when you see it coming your way.
  • When/if Time Warp is used will depend on your group and which phase is giving them the most trouble. You want to push him out of his most difficult phases as quickly as possible – Sword (if the healer is having trouble healing massive tank damage), or shield (since it damages the whole group) but not mace since threat is already more likely to be an issue in this phase.

Drahga Shadowburner

  • Your mission, should you choose to accept it (and you really don’t have a choice) is to burn down Invocations of Flame before they reach whoever they are targeting. You can use Blast Wave to slow them, or Slow, or Frostbolt, whatever your flavour of magic. They don’t have a lot of HP, but watch for them and if one is spawning near you, blink to safety before attacking it.
  • That’s the only specific mage thing I can think of, apart from the “don’t stand in fire and dragon breath” caveats that apply to the whole party.

Erudax

  • This fight is fun, as you enjoy separating Good Purple Things on the Ground from Bad Purple Things On The Ground. You don’t stand in the Binding Shadows one, but you do blink to the Shadow Gale safe spot. (If it helps, one of them is the “eye of the storm” and looks like a hurricane on the ground, and the others just spawn on random players and are targeted.)
  • When we run this, it’s the task of all ranged DPS to sprint back towards the door (yes, blink!) and get ready to slow and burn those adds before they hatch any eggs. For frost mages, Cone of Cold is best for this, as a fire mage you can drop a Blast Wave that will hit both of them and slow them significantly. Then hit it like you mean it! This is another easy heroic achievement to snag because it just means doing your task well. If you keep his adds from hatching any eggs, you win!

That’s three more heroics covered. In the next part I’ll be talking about Halls of Origination, Lost City of the Tol’Vir, and possibly Deadmines and Shadowfang Keep, depending on length. As always, if you’ve thought of or know of any tips or tricks I didn’t mention here, please share them in the comments and I will add them! Many mages are better than one.

Cataclysm Heroic Tips and Strategies For Mages (Part 1)

This is part one of a multi-part guide intended to eventually cover all heroic 5-man encounters in Cataclysm. This installment deals with Blackrock Caverns and Throne of the Tides. Part Two covers The Stonecore, Vortex Pinnacle, and Grim Batol, and can be found here.

The expansion has been out for nearly a month now. You could be anywhere from completely done with heroics to just getting your feet wet in them. This is not a strategy guide for every boss in all of the heroics. This is a mage specific guide for knowing what you can do as a mage to help ensure your party’s success. If you’re looking for a quick overview of each boss, these cheat sheets over at Sword and Board were written with a tank in mind but can be used by anyone. This will be a series in several parts, covering all of the Cataclysm heroics. This first installment has Blackrock Caverns and Throne of the Tides.

Mages are in a fantastic place for this expansion. Yes, GC said they’re watching us to see if our damage needs buffs, but we’re far from abysmally low. More importantly, our CC is important again. Enjoy Ring of Frost before it gets nerfed! Bring out that Polymorph macro!

Most importantly, I’ve noticed this expansion seems to have attracted a resurgence of mages. Our portals are incredibly useful, we help crowd-control, we bring cake – what’s not to like? Whether you’re a veteran or a reasonably new mage, remember that you’re an ambassador of our class. If you act like a jerk, people don’t think, “xXFrostFireXx is such a jerk,” they think, “Man, I keep running into so many jerkish mages!” Don’t be that guy, because it makes us all look bad!

Addons

DBM is a must-have as far as I’m concerned, even for five-mans. (Or substitute your addon of choice, I’m sure DXE or Bigwigs/Littlewigs are fine. I just happen to use DBM). This will keep you informed about what a boss is doing, especially if you haven’t seen it before.

Mage Nuggets is a great little addon I’d recommend for any mage. It gives you proc notifiers, a mana gem tracker and a few other little goodies. Most importantly, it lets you know when an enemy you are targeting has something that you can spellsteal. I’m making note of important ones in these guides, but you might miss them altogether without a notifier. It has the added benefit of giving you a polymorph bar when you have a target CCed. It counts down a timer so you can see at a glance when your polymorph is running out of time. This is useful for not just trash but also boss fights. Use it, love it!

Combustion Helper is a fire mage specific addon. It’s invaluable and will help you get the most out of your Combustion. It serves the dual-function of helping you keep track of your DoTs all in one place.

I use Omen (for boss fights) but I also use Tidy Plates and Threat Plates to easily see when a mob is starting to think, “Gosh, that one wearing magic-toilet paper and standing in the back looks pretty crunch-able.” Tidy Plates has the added bonus of automatically colouring a mob’s bar to match the CC target – so it’s easy to pick your grey sheep bar out of the pack.

p.s. – Moon is sheep. If anyone disputes this, they’re just plain wrong.

Macros

Regrettably, at the time of this writing the login servers are having trouble, and I can’t get in-game to access my macros, and I don’t want to write them again. I’ll add some macros to this space once I’m able. I wouldn’t want to give you something I’m not sure will work.

General Heroic Guidelines

I know, some of this goes without saying and I’m probably preaching to the choir. Much of the strategy for heroics also depends on your group – if you’re in a guild group where you trust the tank and the healer, feel free to unleash a bit more. You get to know your tank’s limits (both their skills, and their patience) and you can judge whether it’s safe to toss a scorch or a living bomb on a mob as it’s heading towards the tank – or whether this is an avenue towards certain death.

When in doubt, play it safe. In a pug or with folks you don’t know really well it’s probably better not to do anything radical or unexpected – frequent wipes and corpse runs will lead to bitterness and can fracture a pug in short order.

CC when you’re asked. If a pull is going poorly, pick a caster in the back and CC it anyway. It may get broken but for a few precious seconds it isn’t attacking the tank or healer and so that’s time well spent.

Be prepared. Just five minutes reviewing the fights in an instance you’re not familiar with can help make sure you don’t miss a key ability. You’ll be able to play to your potential when you aren’t thinking, “What does this boss do ag…oh right, he charges me and kills me instantly. Whoops.”

Mana Management. When I first started in heroics as a fire mage, I could run myself OOM very quickly if I wasn’t careful. Try to be smart about using Impact (it costs a lot of mana for a reason – only use it on a target with plenty of DoTs already up, put that to good use!) Other specs may not have to worry about mana as much, but Scorch

weaving is also very useful here. A straight Scorch rotation costs nothing but is less DPS than Fireball ad infinitum. Alternate the two and throttle back if necessary. You want to be able to use your highest rotation in the burn phase and after Molten Fury kicks in. One more thing – Blast Wave dropping a Flamestrike on the ground slows and also costs less mana than a Flamestrike. I can’t speak to the other two specs because I’ve been pretty much all-fire all the time since starting my runs.

For the same reason I can’t get my macros, I can’t arrange clever screenshots of each instance. Please enjoy instead: a giant gnome.

Blackrock Caverns

Trash: The Twilight Zealots immediately before Corla have a delicious haste and damage buff that can be spellsto

len for two minutes. If you time it right you can have that for pretty much her entire fight – there are several of these guys there so you can snag it more than once if you’re lucky.

Rom’ogg Bonecrusher

  • The most important thing this guy does is chain the party with targetable chains you’ll have to DPS down. Immediately after, he casts an AoE quake. I made a macro that I swap in for my assist macro just for this fight: something as simple as “/target chains” will do the trick.
  • If you time it just so, you can use a Ring of Frost or a Frost Nova to lock his adds down near him. If timed correctly, he’ll kill them all himself. This is actually an achievement.
  • Use Blink to GTFO after the chains have been broken.

Corla, Herald of Twilight

  • An excellent tip from a commenter Nina here – use Iceblock to clear at least one of your sets of debuffs to allow yourself more time DPSing the boss. Frost mages with Cold Snap can probably do this at least twice!
  • Otherwise, be ready to cast Time Warp if it seems suitable or necessary, but I usually save it for the next fight.

Karsh Steelbender

  • Trash: Use Ring of Frost or Frost Nova and have the tank drag the fire elemental add down the hallway. If you freeze the quicksilvers on the stairwell, they’ll deactivate and be no trouble.
  • Time Warp can help this fight finish more quickly – especially if his debuff drops and adds spawn, you want them gone as quickly as possible. For us this fight mostly involves staying in place, but be prepared to switch off and DPS adds (and move out of the lava they drop if you have to!)

Beauty

  • You will be expected to CC one of the puppies for this fight, it doesn’t matter which one. Be prepared to carefully watch yourPolymorph timer because if Sheep breaks, that angry, fire-breathing puppy is headed straight for you.
  • Ask your tank to move Beauty far enough down the hallway to allow you to cast incidental AoE without worrying about breaking CC. Mirror Images won’t break CC, but Fire and Frostfire Orb are untrustworthy culprits.

Ascendant Lord Obsidius

  • I use my Frost off-spec to trivialize the kiting task for this fight. A combination of Cone of Cold, Ice Barrier, Frost Nova, Ring of Frost and your Water Elemental’s freeze make these guys laughable. You can use Icelance to quickly grab their attention and pull them away from the group, especially after Obsidius switches places with one of them.
  • If you keep them away from the group and never let your debuff stacks reach higher than three, you can snag an achievement here. A quick ice block will clear your stacks off if you need to reduce them, but of course the adds will immediately begin running away from you, so be ready to pick them back up.
  • I avoid Mirror Images on this fight because they like to do things such as: attack the adds the other mage is trying to kite if I’m not the one doing it, or sprint clear across the room to aggro the trash we left up three kilometers away. I’d be wary of Frost/Frostfire orb for the same reason, mine was attacking the adds when I wasn’t the one kiting them, which could be avoided by making sure to put a good distance between you and the adds before casting it.
  • Even if you aren’t Frost/don’t have a frost spec you can still kite through judicious use of slows (if Arcane) or well-placed Blast Waves and blinks. It’d be harder but doable. You can still use Icelance to quickly aggro any of them. For this fight if you’re tasked with the adds you aren’t really trying to do damage to them or the boss. It’s best if you’re able to focus on the task at hand.

 

Nothing says friendship like telling your buddy he has a bit of squid stuck on his head.

Throne of the Tides

Trash: There are a few notable targets for spellsteal in this instance. The Tainted Sentries (purple water elemental guys) have an ability called Swell that you will want to steal. It does a whopping lot of shadow damage in a huge AoE range – that is the damage that your damage could be if you smelled like a mage.

The corridor with all of the Gilgoblin packs is a bit annoying. If you’re asked to CC one of the goblins (and you should) be ready to polymorph immediately followed by an iceblock, because the other five or so gilgoblin hunters have some arrows with your name on ‘em. The big guys further down the corridor here throw everyone up in the air and do an AoE quake-style thing. Remember that blinking will return you safely to the ground, so aim yourself away, blink and be ready to keep DPSing. You should be out of the quake’s AoE at that point.

Lady Naz’jar

  • Maintain a safe distance from Naz’jar in order to have more time to see waterspouts coming. A quick blink can move you out of their range, but be careful not to blink into another one!
  • Depending on the group you may be asked to Polymorph one of the caster adds she summons. We no longer do this, but instead our tank will tank the melee add and one caster add while we burn the other. Since they’re just casting, they won’t wander over and hit you in the face, and should die too quickly to do very much damage.

Commander Ulthok

  • Nothing really mage specific for this fight, you may blink to get out of a Dark Fissure quickly but you shouldn’t have to do very much here.
  • If using Time Warp, I’d use it at the beginning to burn him ASAP. (Make sure to wait a little to let your tank get a threat lead, though. I hear they don’t like having to taunt within the first five seconds).

Erunak Stonespeaker

  • In-between the stuff you aren’t standing in, this fight has an interesting mechanic: You get to DPS a party member (I don’t do this with gleeful abandon, of course not! These people are my FRIENDS, what do you take me for?)
  • When the squid casts Absorb Magic (DBM announces this) spellsteal it. It’ll heal you if you take any spell damage, and prevents him from being healed allowing your party to continue DPSing him.
  • If you are the target for the Head Squid, you can Iceblock out of it successfully!

Ozumat

  • There isn’t much mage-specific for this fight; be prepared to target down various adds, and save your Time Warp for Phase Three when everyone is giant and you get to DPS a giant squid. The whole party is taking some serious AoE damage at this point so your healer will appreciate any reprieve you can give them. Kill the giant squid before it kills you!

So that’s BRC and Throne of the Tides for you. Do you have any tips or tricks I missed? Feel free to comment and I’ll add them! I’m only one mage, after all. I can’t think of everything. Expect the next parts to be coming soon!

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