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

Posts tagged ‘instances’

How Real ID Grouping is Going To Save Me Time and Money

It's me! With Walks! Neither of us are actually blood elves, but we do a good job of pretending.

You may have heard that Blizzard planned to roll out some changes to the Real ID system to allow you to group with your friends from other servers. Ignoring the whole debate about whether this should be a paid service or not – I am so freaking happy about these changes! I can’t even tell you.

Since beginning to blog in late 2009, I’ve met a number of folks I’d love to play with – always on other servers, of course. Sometimes I even went so far as to roll alts on their servers to hang out, and I’ve moved characters too (especially Horde). In the time that I’ve been playing, I:

-Made my draenei shaman a troll shaman
-Moved her to a friend’s server
-Made my troll shaman a draenei again
-Moved her back to my server
-Leveled a troll mage on a friend’s server
-Made my troll mage a draenei
-Moved her to another friend’s server
-Took a spare Horde shaman I had and made her a draenei
-Moved her to a friend’s server

Do you see a trend here? By the way, if anyone adds up the total cost of those transfers and changes and posts it in the comments I will be miffed at you. I live in a blissfully happy world where I don’t think about how much money I’ve spent on this kind of thing. La la la la I can’t hear you…

Actually, no. Let’s do it. Let’s face that number. That’s nine changes, I think they all cost $25 USD. That’s two hundred and twenty-five dollars I have basically wasted with my indecisive attempts to spend time with friends. It’s a lot of money! But let’s take a closer look at my reasons for doing it. I wanted to have a Horde character. I wanted to have a Horde character on a friend’s server (two different friends, one of whom stopped playing, thus the extra transfer). Then I wanted to have an Alliance character to help out some other friends, on another server. That’s a pretty strong trend here. I wasn’t just doing this on a whim, it was because I wanted to hang out with people who don’t live on my server.

The problems I encountered while leveling alts on other servers are numerous. When my friends weren’t around I was bored or lonely because I didn’t know enough people there. LFD was demoralizing. I couldn’t manage to make money (some servers have an odd economy). I didn’t have access to the resources I ordinarily would and so everything was a struggle. Sometimes that kind of adversity can be fun, but mostly it’s frustrating to me. I don’t want to make a huge venture out of becoming self-sufficient on a secondary server when I spend plenty of time playing and working on my main characters already. We all have a limited amount of WoW time.

So I look at it this way. Should the Real ID grouping feature be a premium, paid service? Obviously, I’d like it if it wasn’t. It’d be nice if it was just included with your subscription. But even if it costs $5 a month (and I think they’re talking about more $3-$4), it would take 45 months of paying for it before I’d equal the amount I’ve spent on server and faction changes. That’s almost four years worth of premium subscription. What is my time worth to me? Because this way, to hang out with Horde friends and run a dungeon, I can level a character on my home server. With access to heirloom items from head-to-toe, the time commitment is much less. I can run a leisurely dungeon with my Horde friends if I feel like doing that.

Or like we did last night, I can invite a friend from another server to finish off a five-man. That screenshot above is from a ZG I ran with three guildies and my good paladin friend, Walks. I know he thinks I’m crazy because I kept enthusing the whole time. “I’m so happy about doing this! I’m so happy you’re here!” I’m serious, too! It’s as if we were “meeting” for the first time. We’ve chatted and been friends for ages but we’ve never once been able to do anything together other than chat. This new feature changes that completely. It basically means the end of LFD for me if I can help it. All of the awesome WoW folks I’ve gotten to know can now get together and do a dungeon together! (If they happen to be playing the right faction, anyhow, but “cross faction Real ID grouping” is a whole other can of worms).

This basically makes it so that all of our guilds suddenly got a bit larger, a bit more flexible. Server-transferring to join another guild? You can still hang out with your friends from your old guild and run a five-man from time-to-time and keep in touch. Don’t want to deal with LFD? Perhaps you have a friend on another server who is just farming herbs and would love to join you and your guildies. Or maybe they need one more person for their own run! Whichever way you look at it, if you use Real ID and have any friends on your list, the Warcraft universe just got a bit smaller (or larger). In case this wasn’t clear, I’m thrilled about it, and it’s a fantastic change for me. Being in a smaller guild, there aren’t always a ton of people online depending on the day and time of day. Sometimes I play at odd hours and would still like to run a dungeon. This is going to be game-changing as far as I’m concerned. I’m also of the opinion that Real ID raid grouping isn’t too far behind, but I could be wrong, hopefully BGs too! If the social aspect of Warcraft is what keeps you playing, make no mistake – this is huge for you.

It’s a feature that is worth its weight in gold to me, too. I’ll happily pay $5 a month to spend time with my friends from different servers. It’s much better than $225, and getting to play with folks I’ve never been able to really play with before? You can’t put a price on that as far as I’m concerned!

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.

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