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

Posts tagged ‘damage dealing’

Celestial Blessings – Yu’lon Edition For Mages

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Just this past Tuesday, I finally gathered enough Titan Runestones to proceed to the next stage of the legendary quest chain. Omitting any plot spoilers for folks who don’t like that kind of thing, the next stage involves one of four challenges issued by a Celestial. Each challenge is specific to the Celestial in question, and you only need to do one of them. There’s tanking, healing, ranged and melee DPS challenges. Naturally, being a pure (awesome) class, mages will be doing the ranged DPS challenge.

I’ll admit it here to my great shame: This challenge wasn’t easy. It took me a long time. I am a fully normal-geared raider, I’ve cleared ToT and my ilevel is 530. I also think I’m not generally terrible as a mage, but I really struggled. I died, and died, and died again. There was a shadow priest there doing it at the same time as I was, and we ended up whispering to each other eventually. You can tell someone else is dying because the challenge is instanced, so you ring a gong and disappear. When you die ignominiously, you show up again at Yu’lon’s feet. This shadow priest and I kept running into each other again and again. At first I was embarrassed, then secretly relieved that I wasn’t the only one having such a hard time.

I pulled out the guild bank and took flasks and more potions and some Banquets of the Oven that nobody cares about. I had long since abandoned my purist “I’ll defeat this challenge without outside help” attitude and alt-tabbed out to see what Wowhead and other people had to say. The strat most people seemed to recommend was one that allowed you to ignore most of the mechanics. This was so prevalent that it was tough to find any other information about the fight. I did try this method but it didn’t seem to work and I resolved to do it my own way.

Here’s how the fight goes. You’ll want to stop reading at this point if you’d prefer not to know.

Yu’lon suggests that power without wisdom to guide it is a bad idea. She tells Wrathion this and he scoffs, at which point she suggests that I should fight Wrathion to prove her point. He of course immediately refuses (“I would annihilate my own champion!”) but then she drops the other shoe: he’ll be fighting me blindfolded. It’s a little insulting, but I suppose it is the only way a fight between a black dragon and a single person could possibly be even. So he agrees, and that’s how the fight goes – Wrathion is blindfolded.

Throughout the course of the challenge, he’ll use several abilities to try and locate you. A frontal cone (ground) attack, a large circle of fire, a “rain of fire” type ability, and a series of small ooze adds. Later in the fight he also conjures many copies of himself (Mirror Images writ large!) that you must kill before they complete their cast of a spell called Inferno because it hurts a great deal.

Other key elements of the fight: Wrathion takes triple damage if hit from behind. You can use to your great advantage if you time your CDs when you are able to step behind him. After he casts his frontal cone attack, he’ll shout “A-HA!” and then rush at you. Wrathion does no melee damage so there’s no risk to you by being near him. At first I was instinctively running away from him too but you lose valuable DPS time this way and there’s no benefit to it. Just strafe to the side out of the cone, get behind him quickly if you can and attack him there. I’d suggest setting Wrathion as your focus target so that you can always cast a few quick spells at him, because…

The hardest part of the fight is his ooze adds. You cannot take more than a few hits from any of them before dying horribly. They also buff themselves the longer they are alive, gain a movement speed buff, and continue to chase you. They are susceptible to stuns, slows, and CC, so I suggest you use all of this to your adventure. I did the challenge as a Frost mage, using my WE’s freeze to lock the adds down while kiting them around. The other thing that really made the difference for me in this fight was swapping out the Cone of Cold glyph in exchange for Glyph of Arcane explosion. A combination of Flamestrike, a few Living Bombs on the adds and glyphed AE was enough to kill them relatively quickly. Without the extra five yards from the glyph, you have to get dangerously close to melee range from the quick-moving oozes.

Suggested preparation for the challenge:

Supplies
-Grab a Celestial Offering from the August Celestials quartermaster. It gives you a 10% intellect buff while you are near the Temple. It should be noted, I didn’t find this out until after and I did it without, but it would’ve been a welcome boost.
-Intellect buff food
-Potion of the Jade Serpent
-Flask of the Warm Sun
-Heavy Windwool Bandage (I’m not kidding)

Talents
I used Ice Floes, Ice Barrier, Ring of Frost, Cauterize, Living Bomb, and Incanter’s Ward. An argument could definitely be made for using Blazing Speed if you prefer, and Ice Ward in place of RoF except it requires something to hit you in order to activate and we’re trying to keep these oozes from hitting us. Cauterize can save your bacon at least once during the fight and is highly recommended. You could also use Nether Tempest instead of Living Bomb, I chose LB for its superior single target damage because I wanted to hurt Wrathion as much as I could while I was DPSing the oozes. NT’s no target limit and superior AoE damage is nice though and could likely have worked just as well.

The last talent choice to use Incanter’s Ward instead of Invocation is another personal thing. The damage mitigation is very valuable here, and time to stand and evocate is precious. I found that evocating was interfering with my kiting, so I switched.

Glyphs
Glyph of Arcane Explosion is recommended for all specs. Those extra five yards makes this much, much easier. As a Frost mage I used Glyph of AE, Ice Lance, and Water Elemental.

Strategy
Put yourself behind Wrathion to start the fight. He’ll always be facing towards Yu’lon. You have the option of using Time Warp at the beginning or saving it for later when you’re a bit desperate and things are getting hairy. I’d suggest pre-potting as well – front-load your damage as much as you can. If you are Fire, try to line up a good Combustion ASAP and hit Wrathion with it very early on. He’ll cast 1-2 of his frontal cone abilities, and possibly his rain of fire thing. You can tell where the fire is falling because it casts a dark shadow on the ground – be someplace else. Ice Floes is nice for this time because you can keep DPSing him while dodging around. He usually spawns the oozes about 10-20 seconds into the fight. They will mill around aimlessly in a group for about three seconds and then they will start heading towards you.

You must not let them reach you. Do whatever it takes to achieve this – You can start off with a Ring of Frost to freeze them in place and gain a few valuable seconds of lead time on your DPS. Remember, the longer they live, the faster they get. You must also DPS the oozes while Wrathion is doing his best to hurt you. Blink, of course, is helpful but it’s not available often enough on its own. Having the extra freeze from the Water Elemental and your own Frost Nova helps a ton. Let them get just close enough and then Frost Nova them. Put either Living Bomb or Nether Tempest on them and then run a bit. Try to hit Wrathion as you run by him. Try to drop a Flamestrike and then Arcane Explosion as much as you can (bonus: it will hit Wrathion too).

Once the oozes are dead, they are out of the fight for a little while…but here’s the kicker. You can’t ever really kill them. They will respawn. Also, they will respawn from the position they died at, so try not to be anywhere near their bodies when this happens. Meantime, Wrathion will be casting his next big ability – he will fill the room with duplicates of himself. Use Arcane Explosion to kill them QUICKLY. If you fail to kill them, they’ll cast Inferno. You can likely survive a few Infernos but the entire room doing them will spell your demise. He will summon two rounds of these, but you should be able to make quick work of them.

At this point, unfortunately, depending on when you killed them – oozes are going to begin respawning and chasing you. In a way, you’re fighting a battle against time because you have to defeat Wrathion but the oozes could be a full-time distraction if you let them. Continue to DPS Wrathion whenever possible, especially after the first wave of oozes dies and before they’re able to respawn. Kill them again when they respawn and try to take Wrathion down. This would be a good time for that Time Warp if you didn’t use it earlier. Use another potion. Blow him to smithereens!

I found that even DPSing Wrathion any time rather than waiting until you are behind him still added up significantly over time. Cleave from Ice Lance or other AoE will also damage him a bit. If you can survive the two ooze phases you should be in the clear for finishing Wrathion. Don’t lose sight of your goal and try to stay calm. Once you get the hang of the ooze adds you’re well on your way.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rumYAAJdEa4

This is a good Fire mage point of view for this fight. You’ll see he takes the adds out using a combination of Nether Tempest and single target/Pyroblast procs. He also stuck with Invocation and opted to use Time Warp after the second set of oozes has died. There’s really no wrong choice of talent or strategy, just what works for you personally.

Note: the method recommended by many casters for this fight is to spec into Greater Invisibility or some other aggro dump and head out to the balcony railing when the oozes spawn, using your invisibility. The idea is that the oozes will just hang out inside the temple and never attack you at all. I did try this just to see if it would keep me from tearing my hair out, but I didn’t find it worked. After my invisibility expired, the oozes headed straight out onto the balcony for me. Moreover, they also became impossible to kill because they’d been alive so long. It didn’t end well. The balcony strat is also supposed to allow you to ignore the mirror images that spawn. I’m not sure if this has been hotfixed, but it wasn’t a viable method when I attempted it.

I’m happy to have done it “as intended” anyway. I will give you one last tip, though – make sure you check the status of your gear. If you’ve been wiping over and over (and the wipes pile up quickly, much like my unfortunate corpse) you can find your gear destroyed in short order. At some point I took a break for supper, came back and had a really good attempt – yesss! I’m finally getting the hang of this! Then I did progressively worse and I couldn’t figure out why, until I looked at my gear, which was entirely and completely red. Effectively, I’d been DPSing Wrathion naked. Hey, at least he was blindfolded!

Good luck with this challenge, even if it’s tough, you can do it! If you have tips or tricks I didn’t think of here, please leave them in the comments! Unless your “tip” is “I one-shot this! It was so easy.” If you’re that guy I don’t want to hear from you.

Some Say Fire, Some Say Ice

(with apologies to Robert Frost)

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There are different schools of thought on whether you play a spec, or you play a class. I’ve heard people say that you shouldn’t consider yourself a (Fire/Frost/Arcane) mage but a MAGE – able to switch specs accordingly should the need arise. This is an attitude that ticks off other people who really only like one spec for their various classes.

Personally, I’m somewhere in the middle and have actually changed my mind over time. It’s a little-known fact that I originally created Millya with the intention of making her a Frost mage. I seem to remember even choosing her appearance accordingly. Thank goodness I didn’t name her “Frostwizzard” or anything like that. Or another mage I knew, Icyfire… what if they wanted to go arcane later? But as I was leveling, Frost just wasn’t working for me. Conventional wisdom at the time (Burning Crusade) said that Fire was bad for leveling. And you know, I died a lot. But by gosh I had fun doing it. Later on when I hit 70 I went to BGs as the best kind of glass cannon – the kind that would merrily explode in the face of a dozen people. I think it was Christian Belt, the erstwhile great Archmage from WoW Insider who joked that all Fire mages really wanted was a spell that would just, literally, make them explode. They’d be okay with this, as long as they took plenty of people with them.

I’ve played all three mage specs over the years as their fortunes rose and fell. I was Frost at the start of Wrath for leveling. I was a Frostfire mage when I hit 80 because it was actually pretty good at low gear levels for awhile. I was Fire unless I had to be otherwise – at the end of Wrath I was Arcane for a good chunk of it because Fire was too far behind Arcane to ignore it. For all of Cataclysm, I was Fire, and so far for all of Mists I have been Fire as well.

I like the changes they have made to the spec. Heating Up helped to smooth out some of the frustrating RNG aspects of Hot Streak! and Inferno Blast gives you a reliable way of managing your procs to a certain extent. It’s better than just fishing around for HS procs as we used to do. Combustion is, by its nature, still very RNG dependent. You have to get a super ignite and manage all of your other DoTs in order to time it just so. The reduced CD on Combustion itself makes this less punishing than it used to be, though. I think they did something about ignite-munching? Don’t quote me on that though. I’m not a theorycrafter and I never made that claim. It’s not really my thing. I’m just an avid mage who has been predominantly Fire for a long time.

Recently, I was tripped up by a problem, though. I felt as if I was holding our challenge mode group back from success. Fire’s AoE power in this expansion has always felt weak to me. I miss Blast Wave/Instant Flamestrike. I don’t like having to get right into a group of mobs and spam my Arcane Explosion button. Nether Tempest is nice, but you still have to put it on a group of mobs before it really starts to ramp up, and by that time our shaman’s chain lightning has already killed stuff. It’s not fun. Taking into account the lowered gear levels of challenge modes (a normalized 463 ilevel), being Fire was even less fun. I found, frustratingly, that things were living too long and my trash DPS just wasn’t high enough. On boss fights, I wasn’t getting enough HS procs or a really nice Combustion. Fire seems just too dependent on gear to be the most effective in challenge modes. So I thought the time may have come to do something radical: set my Fire spec aside and play Frost in challenge modes.

I dusted off the spec. I fixed my keybinds and buttons. I read guides. I reforged and regemmed. Once I made the decision, I wanted to just go ahead with it. So I figured – hey, I’ll play Frost for our raids this week, too. Everything is “on farm” anyway, I wouldn’t be holding us back while I fumble around a little bit. I stood at the target dummy getting used to the “feel” of the buttons and I updated my Weak Auras to include some new notifications. I went into the raid feeling excited and a little apprehensive. I take pride in being a good DPS, I didn’t want to be at the bottom of the meters because of this change.

But something strange happened. I wasn’t doing poorly. In fact…well, let me just show you. If you like charts and things, you can look more closely. If you don’t, let me just tell you, that I gained between 16-26K DPS on the fights shown. I omitted Council because I actually did better as fire there and I think my DoT uptime was a bit poor on the Frost version. I’m not too worried about it. I also omitted Tortos for the opposite reason – as Fire, my performance was truly pathetic, but the Frost combat logs are not an accurate comparison either because I was helping to AoE bats. I had AoE! Bats died! BIG YELLOW NUMBERS. (This basically sums up my DPS mindset in a nutshell).

adfs

Fire is on the left, Frost is on the right.

So I was thrown into a quandary, except it wasn’t much of a quandary. Playing as one spec clearly and roundly has trounced the other spec for me, and so I will be staying Frost for the foreseeable future. Still, I know for a fact it’s not that I was suddenly playing miraculously better as Frost… In fact, you can see that my active time went down in every case. It’s hard to avoid this kind of human error. Our motto is “always be casting,” but I was still a little fumbly and getting the hang of Frost, so I wasn’t managing it as well as I could be, and yet I still beat my own DPS by a significant amount. I have to admit, it’s a bit disheartening. Now I’m questioning myself – did I never truly get the hang of the “new” Fire? Is it just that because I’m not a heroic raider, I’m not able to play Fire to its fullest potential? It’s true that Frost isn’t subject to the kind of RNG stuff that Fire is. I find it plays really smoothly. There’s always a button you need to be hitting. You can imagine it did make a big difference in CMs, too. My contribution felt much greater than it had in previous weeks.

I have had a few Frost growing pains, too. Mostly related to suddenly creating a truck load of threat unexpectedly. I’ll put it this way, I used to use Mirror Images as a safeguard, especially at the start of fights. Now it’s the only thing standing between me and (buh buh buh bum) CERTAIN DEATH. This is how I came to be shrieking around dragging Horridon last week while yelling “Get it off, get it off!” I also had a retrospectively hilarious death at the end of our last Lei Shen kill. I don’t know if that’s directly related to being Frost… but let’s just say that Alter Time -> Thunderstruck -> Blink -> Alter Time doesn’t end well for anyone wearing a dress.

If I’m being honest with myself, I guess I have to admit that maybe I just wasn’t pushing myself as Fire any more. In the past, many of the times I switched specs was because my damage had been lagging behind. It can help to mix things up, and some of that may be at play here. Although I try to stay current on my information with any spec I’m playing, maybe I had gotten complacent and that’s the biggest reason why Frost has been such a marked improvement. One thing is clear, though. It’s time for a new Frost transmog!

The Greatest Night

There have undoubtedly been rocky parts during Business Time’s transition to “casual” guild from “reasonably hardcore.” It felt really smooth back in Dragon Soul because we already had the entire place on farm, so it was no problem to reduce to one night a week and smoke through it. Then it wasn’t a problem to take a break altogether. When Mists launched, it was the first true test of our new reduced schedule (two days a week, two hours per raid for a total of four hours). We’d never tackled new content this way before. To me it was a raid tier of fits and starts. We progressed easily through the first four bosses in MSV and then slammed to a halt on Elegon for a lot longer than any of us would like. When we finally downed Elegon, we killed Will the same night. Moving into Heart of Fear, we hit another wall in the form of the second cyclone boss and we spent a good amount of time on him as well. Throughout this all, roster changes and recruitment were dogging us and making it hard to have a steady pace. When we finally got Tay’ak down, it didn’t take very long to kill Garalon or the council style fight and then we encountered our ultimate nemesis – Amber Shaper Un’sok.

I could tell you how I feel about this encounter design, but I don’t want to sour my mood. Basically, Un’sok is my least favourite fight EVER, in any expansion and any tier. We wiped to him more than any other boss in T14. But he did die, like all the others. Unfortunately he died at a time when it was starting to look like we wouldn’t have time to finish the tier. Patch predictions were for March, and we hadn’t even touched Terrace. It seems that two hour raids were taking their toll. I know there were many nights when it felt as if just a few more pulls would’ve made the difference between a kill and no kill.

We killed Empress Shek’zeer very easily (14 pulls total, I believe), and launched into Terrace with a vengeance. Everyone knew that we had to clear it fast if we wanted a chance to actually finish the raid tier as well as earn ourselves a feat of strength. I’m not sure if it was the urgency of knowing we had a deadline, but everyone really showed me what they could do. We one-shot Protectors and killed Tsulong the same night, cleared Lei Shi and spent some time on Sha of Fear during our second to last raid. Everyone knew that yesterday’s raid was our last chance to finish “on-time.”

The raid started out in the best possible way for me. We were all hanging around the summoning stone getting everyone there when our monk, Zhem, told me: “Millya, check your mail please.” Mystified, I checked my mail and there was a letter from him with a wrapped gift. It’s my birthday on Sunday and I am turning 30, but I wasn’t expecting a gift! The accompanying letter said it wasn’t just a birthday present, but also a token of appreciation for everything I do for the guild. I opened it up, and this is what was inside:

!!!

!!!

It’s a Jeweled Onyx Panther. My own VOLTRON. To say that I was flabbergasted is the most extreme of understatements. Honestly, I teared up a little bit. It seems that Business Time had been planning this for weeks, since the start of February. They helped gather the materials to make all four panthers using a communal spreadsheet and they made this for me. Oh man, I am tearing up again. I am overwhelmed and humbled. It honestly means so much to me, and not just because “ooh shiny mount” but because the mount itself is indicative to me of the power a raid group has. Not just to kill internet pixels, but to support each other and to be friends over long distances and different lives. We are all greater than the sum of our parts, just like Voltron and the Onyx Panther. We’re always better together. I can’t say anything more about this than thank you, thank you, thank you. Even when we’ve moved on and the servers are dark, you’ll always have a friend in me. You all are the true gift.

I promised them all a sappy blog post, which is something of a forte of mine. But honestly, the night just got better from that point on, this was only the BEGINNING of the raid after all! Because we went in and read Sha the riot act; it was only our second night seeing him and we all felt the pressure to perform and make this a cleared tier. We did it!

And Itanya set Ullariend on fire.

And Itanya set Ullariend on fire.

This was pretty much the best conclusion any of us could have imagined to the tier. I couldn’t stop grinning all night. I’m so proud of these guys (and lady). We are set to go into the next tier with a clean slate, if you will, and no obligations to this content. We will go back and get kills for some people who unfortunately missed them, but we’ll have a solid footing for the new stuff, too. Incidentally, we are still looking for a hunter to finish off our roster. We’re sitting at thirteen at the moment but we’d prefer fourteen. Even when our numbers dipped we didn’t cancel any raids in the past tier, but we’d like to continue in that direction.

You would think I’d be satisfied with a night like that. An amazing gift from my guild, a Sha of Fear kill just in time for patch day… but no, there was more yet to come! After the raid I realized that I wasn’t VP capped. After doing a heroic, I was still 95 points short. So Pargath, Zierlyn and I headed into LFR for the 90 VP. We chose Vault of Mysteries because that’s the only thing that Pargath hadn’t done. We waited a little while in the queue but it eventually came up, as they do. Spirit Kings was fairly uneventful and I thought the raid was going to be generally fine, until we got to Elegon.

It has been pointed out to me that waiting until Monday night before a patch to do my last LFR guarantees there will be shenanigans. I hadn’t considered this exactly, but it was only a minute or so on Elegon when we realized we’d be in trouble. Neither of the tanks was bothering to tank the adds that spawn and they ran around freely trying to kill people. We were able to get four spark “cycles,” but as soon as the floor disappeared, so did a number of our raid. (I want to say five, off the top of my head, including a tank). But okay, no matter, we could still do this. Until after the second add phase when our OTHER tank plummeted to his untimely death. We were heading into Elegon’s last phase, with no tank. You might think at this point we were guaranteed a wipe. I say: NEVER SAY DIE.

I hit Time Warp as we pulled and started DPSing Elegon as if my life depended on it (which it did). I thought that at least I could do enough damage to him and possibly keep him busy long enough with Mirror Images, Cauterize, etc. before my inevitable death. We might manage to kill him yet. Ladies and gentlemen, I am here to tell you that I never died. Cauterize didn’t even proc! Sure, my health was crazy spiky, but the incredible healers in LFR (most prominently, a paladin) kept me alive. I TANKED ELEGON.

Hilarity ensued (you’ll have to click to read the raid chat from right after we killed him).

I TANKED THAT

I TANKED THAT

I was pretty proud of myself, haha, but really it’s the healers who deserve the props (and you’ll note that I said that, too).

elegon02

elegon03

LFR was suitably happy about the whole thing. Maybe I should just retire now on that note, the highlight of my illustrious mage career. Forget Krosh Firehand, I tank star dragons. I think it’s only fitting that I happened to be wearing the title Dragonslayer Millya at the time.

So that’s it – an account of the greatest night I’ve had in WoW in a long time. Possibly the greatest night I’ve had in awhile, period. I am really excited for the T15 content now. I hope there are no repeats of the Un’sok debacle. But mostly I know you can tackle anything with a group of friends, or barring that, exceptional healing strangers who can keep your berobed body from going splat!

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!!


Mage Revival

I don’t know if anyone else’s guild works like this, but ours seems to go in phases of popularity. I swear, for awhile there all I saw when I logged in was druids. Or paladins, druids, and warriors, which actually gave rise to the phrase “warrior warrior,” later adapted into “mage mage.” Anyway, I think it starts when someone has a lot of fun playing a class. Other people see the fun happening and think, “Wow, look at the fun they are having! I’ve never tried that class/I haven’t played my character of that class in awhile,” and suddenly the guild roster is positively awash in blue mage names.

I love it. People talk about leveling specs on the forums, gear levels, pugs giving us a hard time about when to use Time Warp (seriously, what IS it with this? When I am in a pug I’m just happy if all my fellow group members generally know where their keyboard is and are pressing buttons. I don’t ever give people crap about when they are going to use something like Time Warp, I’m just happy they know where that key is located and opted to press it. These people who get all bent out of shape because I used TW at the start of Jin’do must spend their lives angry because their expectations are pretty high. P.S. You don’t usually get TW at all on that fight because I’ll use it on Zanzil but absentmindedly forgot. WAY TO GO, MAGE). Anyway, I digressed a bit there, because my original point was:

1) Mages are awesome

2) Mages are contagious.

I’ve now been raiding as a mage again for several weeks, an endeavour that has not been without its minor mishaps but by and large has been awesome. Last night we beat our Baleroc record by a whopping one second so I feel that I contributed positively to that. Groups being held back don’t beat records, do they now?! There has definitely been a learning curve as I realized that I know very little about what DPSers are doing in most of these fights after healing them for months. It’s a good thing I’m not giving the fight explanations.

“So, um, on this one you’ve got to… I’ll be – Look, I’ll level with you, all I do is take a feather. I know that’s very important. And then I chase Voss around in circles. I look at the fire and make sure not to get hit by it. But mostly I see this green bar. It looks pretty much the same as it does on the other fights. So why don’t you just – I’ll be over here. The green bar and I.”

No, I’m not slighting healers. It’s just that I had to re-learn my role for DPSing, while at the same time growing accustomed to a new spec. Initially, gear was definitely holding me back because I was unwilling to relinquish my T11 4-set until I was able to get 4-set T12. Well, last night I got it, and raided for the first time! It was awesome. I’m almost at the same gear level now with Millya as I was with Vid; actually better because I got both a weapon and an off-hand last night. Three piece heroic tier gear in the amount of time I’ve been raiding is a bit ridiculous. Vid had one piece of heroic tier! I’m actually glad she didn’t have more and that I kept passing on stuff in favour of the other healer (I knew I’d be DPSing for H Rag anyway) so that when I switched it hardly mattered or affected anyone else’s gear level at all. But yea, verily did the loot gods look down upon Millya and smile, beam and begin to throw mage gear in her general direction. I know that doesn’t necessarily matter, but it is pretty nice. I’ve been fortunate.

Another story from the mage front; actually it requires some backstory first: One of our former raiders invited a work friend of his to play WoW, and so he joined our guild a few months back. He was completely new to the game, I think he’d played LoTRO or something but had never played WoW before. I seriously love him. He will ask questions like “I’m dueling this guy and he disappeared, how do I kill a guy like that?” (Freaking rogues, right?) Or he’ll say, “Hey, this Argent Tournament thing is pretty fun! Have you guys ever tried this?” (Oh, if only he knew). There’s something pretty awesome about knowing a person as they experience this game for the first time. We’re all so embroiled in the nuances, or jaded by the long grinds and hours we’ve poured into it, that sometimes I think it’s easy to lose sight of that magic – these “worlds we inhabit together,” as Metzen put it.

This guildie is level 84. It’s taken him a good long while to get there, and there’s no “end” in sight soon because he got distracted doing Loremaster (first of Outland, now I think he’s going back to do Kalimdor/Eastern Kingdoms). He’s not in any rush to “finish.” He’s just enjoying the journey and seeing what the world has to offer. He’s also the only one who laughed when I got the “My Sack is Gigantique” achievement the other day, so I love him for that too. (Come on, I spent 1000 G on that joke!) Anyway, so that’s to introduce you to my guildie, that’s the back story. The actual story is that I logged in yesterday and was running a dungeon as Millya (needed to get the last VP for those tier gloves!)

He said, “What are you up to?” and I told him, “Killing some trolls, taking their stuff,” (he laughed, how can I not love this guy?) and then he said, “You know I didn’t know that was an alt of yours.”

“Oh no? Actually, she is my MAIN!” I replied with great glee.

“Oh yeah,” he said, “I thought you were different people when you were playing Vid and Millya.” (Pause) “I always thought Millya was friendlier.”

I laughed and said I was sorry if I’d been a jerk when playing Vid, and he said no, you were nice, just Millya was friendlier. He’d clued into the connection between my characters when I asked Voss to make Millya the guild leader again the other day (so annoying not being able to do guild leader things on the appropriate character). So he had gone to work to ask our mutual friend if I was the same person. I had a good laugh relating this story to Voss, who just shrugged.

“Playing Millya makes you happy, so you’re friendlier.”

I don’t want to harp on about this, but Shintar mentioned that I had been a bit negative about Millya before switching. I tried to think back and remember this and I couldn’t (I know I could read blog entries, but I didn’t). What’s interesting about keeping a blog like this is that it’s highly filtered information. You only know as much about me as I choose to tell you, and also, I only tell you what I believe to be true. In other words, it’s possible for me to hide things from myself, convince myself something is true, or try very hard to convince anyone reading that something is true. What’s funny is that I’d written about “how playing my alt was hurting my raiding” only a few short weeks before I switched, and I’d been playing Millya non-stop (and loving it, honestly). I tried to spin it around and say “Oh well, I guess I was playing my alt for a reason!” but I’m afraid I lied – mostly to me, but by extension, to you guys.

We had an interesting thread on our private guild forums the other day where we talked about /played time and tallied up our totals for all to see. I liked it because it was interesting to see how much people have played (and which characters), but also because the inevitable, “I don’t know how I should feel about this number,” came up and there was no shaming, only agreement that we enjoy this game and have enjoyed those hours, too. I don’t tally up the time I spend reading or doing other hobbies and I don’t feel any guilt about those – why should I? As with WoW. So what was interesting about my numbers was that they were completely skewed. I’ve played 141 days as a mage. My next closest character doesn’t even come close, clocking in at a mere 50 (my druid) and poor Vid way behind at only 39 days played. I have played more as a mage than my other characters combined! My next closest character is almost 1/3 the time. I think that’s eloquent in itself.

The truth is, when we needed another healer, I sincerely felt I could help in that regard. I didn’t dislike playing a mage at all. The other other truth is, though, that I have sometimes been frustrated as a mage because I always feel I’m not as good as our other Super Mage, and that everyone is always comparing me to him (to my detriment). It’s tough to be in the shadow of someone you truly respect and you know is an exceptional player. I think that I’m a pretty good player, but not like he is. So there’s that. At the time, we also had our ridiculously good warlock and I was having a hard time keeping up with the two of them. It stung. I guess it was an ego thing. And I’ll be completely honest with you – I wanted to avoid the issue of The Legendary.

Fortunately, Dramawrath didn’t really cause any in our guild. At the time, I felt like an argument could have been made for either myself or our awesome mage, (who is indisputably an amazing DPS and also does a lot for the guild). Our shaman is also stupendous and ended up being second-in-line by virtue of guild seniority and steadiness. I hope we’re able to make one for him, too. He’s almost done with the cinders portion of the chain. I think I am no slouch of a DPS and I also do a lot for the guild. But I think it meant more to our other mage. (And I know he’s going to read this and if he’s reading it I want him to know this has nothing to do with you and everything to do with me. I wanted you to have this, and I still do. You deserve it.) He said to me when we talked about it that he would rather not have it, if it was going to cause drama. I couldn’t agree more. I have the kind of personality that unfortunately can be avoidant. Especially as a leader I have to consciously push myself to confront issues sometimes when I’d rather pretend they don’t exist – or maybe, when I’d rather just duck out of the way altogether, as I did when I switched to my paladin for one very specific tier.

I will admit, privately on the internet in front of everyone, there’s a part of me that’s a bit sad about the Dragonwrath. Caster legendaries don’t come along all the time, it’s a pretty neat thing to have, etc. etc. I was watching at Blizzcon when they announced that they would do a legendary staff, and I cheered so loudly. I see other folks getting theirs or read about their progress on blogs and I feel a slight pang. But I don’t regret my decision because I think having me as a healing paladin did help us in this tier. Yes, I missed playing my mage, and I am happy to play her again. Perhaps sometime during the next expansion I’ll see if I can solo any of Firelands and get an outdated Dragonwrath. The more essential thing, to me, though, is not Dragonwrath itself, and I’d actually like to invite you to think about that for a moment.

There are many Dragonwraths. Yes, it’s an “orange” item, but every raid group is making one (or more). Some raid groups will have several. It’s not Dragonwrath that matters at all. That staff is a visual representation of the teamwork and devotion of ten to thirty people. They painstakingly gathered all of those cinders, those embers, those shards, to put that together. I’m deliberately leaving out the “and then gave it to you” part here. Because in a way, that almost doesn’t matter. It’s an achievement that everyone can be proud of. That team work, that drive, it’s humbling and awesome. Braving the challenges of the Firelands night after night, through tension and tedium, elation and success, that is what’s truly legendary. I’m proud of the guild for doing it (we’re about one week away from completing it) and I couldn’t think of a better wielder of that honour. I’m really glad he will have it, and I’m also really glad to be a mage again (although it’s not like playing a paladin was bad). After all, I’m friendlier, which is probably a good thing!

Mage Class Talent Changes From Blizzcon 2011

I spent the whole day liveblogging and hardly had time to stop and consider changes (until now) but I’d really like to talk about the most drastic change proposed for the upcoming expansion: all new Class Talent systems. (I’m not even going to touch the Panda controversy for the time being).

Talent trees as we know them are going away, to be replaced by a single choice of talent point every fifteen levels. What’s especially relevant about these is that they aren’t specific to any one spec of mage. So for example, you could be a Fire mage with Slow, or a Frost mage with Blast Wave. Transcribed below are a few quotes from Ghostcrawler during the Mage portion of the Class Talent panel. Apparently we are the poster children for this new system, because traditionally many of our utility spells were located in the Frost tree. The only thing I really have misgivings about is that none of these talents are DPS increasing talents at all. Don’t freak out about that, because they said specifically that in most cases, talents you know and love are simply going baseline for a spec. Or hopefully, we’ll be balanced so that our damage is just part of being a mage, and the choices are fun utility things. I say “hopefully” because it seems to me as if some of the “choices” warlocks and other classes get to make aren’t just fun utility things, but rather are specific DPS increases (a more powerful warlock pet? The opportunity to have a second pet out for a certain length of time?)

Most of the spells represented here are things we’ve already seen or have, and the major change is that we’ll be able to choose them. The other big thing is that not only will we be able to choose them, but they’ll be “as easy” to swap as Glyphs currently are. What does this mean for the modern mage? Well, suppose you need to slow Shannox’s dogs. No problem – choose Slow as your T6 talent for a given fight. On the next fight, you would like to have an AoE slow – okay, take Blast Wave. (Presently Blast Wave also lays down a Flamestrike for a Fire mage – I can only hope that will persist but it’s tough to say at this point).

I’m going to come down firmly on the side of “cautiously optimistic,” as I usually am. I’m not entirely sure how this will all look at the other end, but at the moment I’m intrigued. Here’s what Ghost Crawler had to say about us.

“Mage is a great example of a class that worked really well with this talent system because historically we had a lot of the most fun abilities for crowd control, survivability, and utility in Frost and then we always had trouble increasing their damage because they had so much utility here. So we figured it would be a lot of fun just to take the utility, put it throughout the talent tree and then let Frost do different types of damage (because obviously you’re doing Frost here) than Arcane and Fire.

In this brave new world, Arcane Blast is Arcane only, Fireball is Fire only, and Frostbolt is Frost only. I know, it’s crazy.

…As we were mentioning with the warlock, we really wanted the mage to feel slippery and glass-cannon-ey and we wanted the warlock to be more of the tank of the casters. These are ways that mages survive and get away. (Re: Tier 2)

Re: (Tier 3) I should also mention here, we are going to make sure that Scorch isn’t the no-brainer spell for Fire mages. You know, Fire mages buff all their Fire spells, so I have to take Scorch. We want these to be attractive to any of the three specs.”

If you’d like a closer look at any of these talents, MMO-Champion has images taken from the presentation screens for you to see here.

Tier 1 (Level 15)

Ring of Frost
Summons a Ring of Frost, taking 3 sec to coalesce. Enemies entering the fully-formed ring will become frozen for 10 sec. Lasts 12 sec. 10 yd radius.

Cone of Cold
Targets in a cone in front of the caster take 802 Frost damage and are frozen in place for 3 sec and slowed by 60% for 6 sec.

Frostjaw (1.5 sec cast, 20 sec CD, 30 yd range)
Silences and Freezes the target in place for 8 sec. Lasts half as long versus Player targets.

So this tier gives us an initial choice of control options. Do you want to have an AoE freeze on a long-ish cooldown, a shorter CD freeze that breaks more quickly (this is the only Cone of Cold that will be available, and functions as the current ‘Improved’ version) or do you want to use the new spell, Frostjaw, to both silence and freeze something in place? The option of a secondary interrupt to back up Counterspell is a nice one in my mind, and I could see it being situationally useful in five-mans and naturally quite nice for PvP. Note that it will have reduced efficacy in PvP, however.

Tier 2 (Level 30)

Greater Invisibility
Instantly makes the caster invisible, reducing all threat and removing two damage over time effects. The effect is cancelled if you perform any actions. Lasts 20 sec.

Cauterize
An attack which would otherwise kill you will instead bring you to 60% of your maximum health. However, you will burn for 10% of your maximum health every 1.50 sec for the next 6 sec. This effect cannot occur more than once per minute.

Cold Snap
When activated, this spell finishes the cooldown of your Ice Block, Frost Nova, and Water Elemental spells.

I assume that class Invis will continue to be baseline, and this new improved version is an option you have for survivability. Cauterize is as it always was, except now is available to any mage and not just those of us who are wont to blow ourselves up. The only outlier here seems to be Cold Snap; in a tree based primarily around survivability talents, it feels like they just stuck Cold Snap in because it had to go somewhere. Also, I don’t really see how that’s a potential utility talent for any tree. Who would take it but a Frost mage? Now, if they’d made Icy Veins an option…

Tier 3 (Level 45)

Presence of Mind (Instant)
When activated, your next mage spell with a casting time less than 10 sec becomes an instant cast spell.

Scorch
Scorch the enemy for 809 Fire damage. Can be cast while moving.

Arcane Flows (Instant, 45 sec CD)
Invoke the flow of Arcane magic, allowing the next two non-instant Mage spells to be cast while moving. Lasts until cancelled.

Presence of Mind, same old same old, except now available for any mage. PoM Pyro makes a startling comeback, you heard it here first! GC mentioned specifically how they do not want us to feel that we have to take Scorch if we’re Fire, which is fair. Whether this talent becomes a no-brainer for Fire mages is going to depend on the movement requirements of the upcoming content and perhaps even specific fights. Scorch will not be baseline and you will need to take this talent if you want it.

Arcane Flows is pretty interesting, and seems aimed at addressing the movement issues of turret specs like Arcane. ABs on the move would be pretty nice. Right now only having ABarr to cast while you dodge around can get old pretty quickly. Having two “cast and move” options in this tier will be nice to tailor to what is needed.

Tier 4 (Level 60)

Mana Shield
Absorbs 1597 damage, draining mana instead. Drains 1.0 mana per damage absorbed. When your Mana Shield is destroyed, all enemies within 6 yards are knocked back 12 yards. Lasts 1 min.

Blazing Speed
Suppresses movement impairing effects and increases your movement speed by 50% for 4 sec. May only be activated after being affected by a movement impairing effect.

Ice Barrier
Instantly shields you, absorbing 7960 damage. Lasts 1 min. While the shield holds, spellcasting will not be delayed by damage.

GC mentioned how this new and improved Mana Shield has Incanter’s Absorption baked in, but I don’t see the spellpower increasing component. If this is gone, I am a Sad Panda (will that joke get old quickly?) because I really like using Mage  Ward for that. We also have the option of the zippy Blazing Speed, which still seems pretty PvP-based, or Ice Barrier – it’ll be nice to borrow that from Frost mages if the mood strikes.

Tier 5 (Level 75)

Sickly Polymorph
Your polymorphed targets regenerate life at 10% of the normal speed.

Heavy Polymorph
When a target you’ve polymorphed is damaged, that target is stunned for 3 sec. This effect cannot occur more than once every 10 sec.

Double Polymorph
You may polymorph an additional target for half the normal duration.

It’s clear that they wanted to take our signature CC and pump it up. Sheeping is after all the iconic mage ability. The options here are fairly solid – giving us the ability to chain a polymorph with a stun and burst damage will be very powerful in PvP, likewise sheeping someone without guaranteeing their health comes back will be dead handy. I don’t see that having much use in PvE beyond the usual – if someone breaks your sheep it won’t immediately eat your face, and if you polymorph an already damaged target it won’t regenerate its health as much.

For PvE, Double Polymorph will be pretty great depending on how the dungeons are tuned, but at this point I can hardly get a tank to let me sheep one thing, never mind two! The biggest attraction in my mind will be using different polymorphs to create my own animal menagerie. (Turtle + Pig? Turtle + Sheep? Turtle + Penguin? How will I choose?!)

Tier 6 (Level 90)

Blast Wave
A wave of flame radiates outward from the target location, damaging all enemies caught within the blast for 923 Fire damage and are slowed by 70% for 3 sec.

Dragon’s Breath
Targets in a cone in front of the caster take 1285 Fire damage and are disoriented for 5 sec. Any direct damaging attack will revive targets.

Slow
Reduces target’s movement speed by 50%, increases the cast time between ranged attacks by 30% and increases casting time by 15%. Lasts 15 sec. Slow can only affect one target at a time.

I have to admit, I find this tier the most underwhelming and am a little jealous of classes that seemed to get something new especially in their “last” tier. These are all existing abilities that, granted, are currently tied to a specific spec but it’s nothing huge. DB and Blast Wave have fairly situational use in PvE content (I used them a ton on Heroic Maloriak). The de facto choice for most fights would be Slow, currently limited only to Arcane mages – we’ll be able to use it whenever. Use of Blast Wave is more needed for a Fire mage in any AoE situation, but we’ll have to wait and see whether Fire mages still have things that interact with this particular talent. (Alas, free Flamestrike, I hardly knew ye).

What are your thoughts on the proposed changes? Remember, nothing here is set in stone and may well change before the expansion ever comes out! For now, that’s enough writing in one day for me. If you tuned into the liveblogging over at Twisted Nether, thanks for your commentary and support. I tried to keep up with the comments coming in as best I could, but at some point it just became a whirlwind of frenzied typing!

It’s Okay To Love DPS

Part of a sketch I never finished.

Cynwise and I have been on a similar wavelength lately. If you haven’t yet read his post that was a response to my post – it’s a great read and it will make you think. I started drafting a reply in his comments and I quickly realized it was going to become a full-fledged entry. So there is the background for you, and here are my thoughts on finding the character you love, and why it’s not always that easy.

The first problem is that DPS have a certain image in the community, especially pure DPS. I can’t even claim to be immune to this myself; there is something about tanks and healers that wants to invite trust. When I zone into a pug, I automatically assume that the tank and healer are reasonable people who want to succeed in the instance. (This isn’t always true, but we’re talking about my assumptions here). I assume that the DPS might cause trouble or disruption in some way.

Yes, I admitted it – I am prejudiced against DPS players, even when I’m one of them. The stereotype exists for a reason, and I think it’s self-perpetuating for several reasons. Self-fulfilling prophecies are funny that way. Let me tell you about a trollroic I ran a few weeks back (as a mage).

First off, I was excited to be there! I waited twenty minutes for the queue to pop, determined that I wouldn’t let the lure of quick queues dissuade me from getting some VP for Millya. We zoned into Zul’Aman and I did as I usually do – made a table, buffed the group, said hello. Everything went fine for a little bit but of course it was one of those rushrush jobs, everyone is in such an incredible hurry. We got to the Dragonhawk boss (I don’t even know their names at this point) and the tank said “Kill hatcher on the left.” Well, folks – left when facing the stairs and left when standing on the stairs are two different beasts. I killed the wrong hatcher. I’ve been in plenty of groups where this has happened, but this tank was so rigid that he stayed in the spot he’d been waiting for the eggs to spawn from. So mea culpa, I killed the wrong one, but at least a hatcher was killed. This fight doesn’t need to be a wipe unless no hatchers are killed at all (even then, I’ve healed through no hatchers being killed, but that’s neither here nor there). The group got really snarky with me, “MAGE killed the wrong one” etc, and everything continued in this vein for the entire instance. They wouldn’t sheep the mob I asked for (so I could spellsteal the buff). The fact is – I’m a keen pug observer, and I knew quite well that the real issue was the resto druid was not a very strong healer, except that I’d never say so. Somehow, I became the de fact scapegoat for this run. (No goat jokes, please). We wiped on the last boss because they wanted to do the “stand in the square” achievement, and I thought to myself (and almost typed sarcastically) “How are they going to find a way to blame THIS on me?”

Well. As it happens! I should NOT have used Time Warp at the Lynx (I always use Time Warp at the lynx) because the Dragonhawk is harder to heal and so clearly that is the reason we failed. At this point I just threw up on my hands and didn’t fight it. We killed the boss, not without a struggle (Time Warp notwithstanding) the druid let the tank die and then had to battle-rez him. I should mention, as a footnote, that I did 40% of the damage in this instance. Yes, that’s integral to the story, because apart from the Dragonhawk mix-up I think I was doing a pretty good job. When I left the group, the tank and healer were still congratulating each other on their respective awesomeness, because WHAT AN EPIC BATTLEREZ.

The point I’m trying to make is that DPS get no respect. I have seen this attitude mostly in tanks and healers, and yet also adopted by the DPS themselves. Think of self-deprecating comments like “I’m just a DPS,” or “He/She is JUST a DPS,” or “We just need a DPS.” There are more of us, so naturally, we’re expendable in the extreme. Heroic runs can be a revolving door of DPS players and nobody cares. There are three per group, or 5-6 per raid group. People think that what we do is easy, we are highly replaceable, and really not worthy of respect. Therein lies the problem for those of us who have the ability to play multiple characters: If everyone is going to assume you are a meter-humping mouthbreather, why wouldn’t you want to play another character?

Here’s where the problem gets sticky, especially for those of us who are responsible adults. You want to help (your guild, your friends, random pugs, whatever) so you make a tanking or a healing character. For a double-dose of responsibility you can make a tanking character with a healing off-spec! Now there’s no problem with this. It’s true that fewer people play tanks, and fewer people play healers. It may not seem so based on the blog community – I think there are more healing blogs than DPS blogs and more of both types than tanking blogs – but in general, the population is a pyramid with DPS on the bottom and tanks at the top. LFD queues bear this out as well. So someone has to play them – and the natural response of a thinking, responsible adult is to want to fill these roles. Because we know we are capable of doing them, but not because we truly love them.

This becomes a problem. I actually chose to play a priest when I first started playing because I thought it would be the most useful. The book that I bought about Warcraft (don’t laugh) actually asked the question, “Do you like to help people? If so, then being a healer might be a good role for you.” I did like to help people, and a priest could do that. It was the ultimate healer, a healer so healy that they had more than one tree devoted to it. I didn’t dislike healing. I still don’t necessarily dislike it. But the guild we were in had an abundance of tanks and healers, whereas truly good DPS were a great rarity. Consider the opposite to what the Warcraft guide was inadvertently suggesting: If you DON’T like to help people, you should play a DPS.

It’s not often you see DPS players advocate for each other. I mean – we are so disparate, a lot of times. You aren’t likely to have many people of your same class in a raid, especially a ten-person raid. You won’t hear a mage talk about solidarity with rogues or shadow priests. The other issue is that DPS are tacitly “competing” with one another. We want to be the best, to do the most damage, and that doesn’t necessarily lend itself to a fellow feeling with other DPS. This only compounds the problem: DPS are seen as being selfish. They aren’t assuming the responsibility that the tanks and healers are, they get off easy, they’re a dime a dozen, etc.

It’s this attitude that drives people to heal and tank. Which wouldn’t be an issue on its own, if they weren’t hating every minute of it. Are you playing the class or character you’re playing because it’s what you really, truly love? Or is it because you feel that you have to because no one else will? Trust me, because I know. It leads to resentment. It leads to frustration. And ultimately it may lead to you not even enjoying the game you are playing, so that at one point you sit up in your chair and wonder what the heck you are doing devoting hours of your life to something making you miserable.

The problem that Cynwise and I both share (if you choose to see it as a problem) is that we are adaptable players, able to play multiple characters and learn how to fill other roles. That’s not me being self-congratulatory, and I also specialize in just two – tanking isn’t really my thing. This is a problem because we’re also the kind of people who want to feel as if we matter, and who want to help people. This is always going to result in a pull away from the somewhat isolated, self-sufficient damage dealing role. We’re not as helpful, not as useful as we could be, and it’s that potential that gets us in trouble. As Cynwise said, he can’t help but feel he could better contribute to the success of his team if he were playing a healer. Honestly though, I’m not sure.

An old friend of mine, a fellow DPS, once told me that many more people can play a healer decently (not necessarily exceptionally) than can play a truly outstanding DPS. I think it’s the kind of statement that can’t be verified, but the part I want to take away from it is not anything disparaging against healers, but rather, the clearly stated DPS pride that he espoused. He was the first person (and one of the few) I have met who was truly dedicated and proud of being a DPS player. Never apologizing just for existing, or for taking up a spot in a group, he knew that in any group he was a major factor in its success, and he was right. I know I could definitely stand to examine my own attitude towards DPS players, and I suspect we probably all could. Appreciate the unique challenges of all the roles without assigning value to them. Yes, there are fewer tanks and healers in a raid group. The role comes with greater responsibility and somewhat higher visibility when it comes to failure. But we can’t tank and heal the bosses to death. I think it’s sad that a mediocre tank or healer is more likely to receive accolades than all but the greatest DPS players. We’re playing what we love. It doesn’t make us shirkers, slackers or fail players. You have to play what you love, otherwise why are you playing?

Another unfinished sketch, this time of my mage on the OTHER side, Jikali.

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