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

Posts tagged ‘mages’

All good things

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I can talk about this here now because the news is public: due to budget cuts, WoW Insider has had to let much of their feature and columnist staff go. That includes me and all of my columnist friends at the site. I’m glad that many people will still be writing there, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t sad on my own behalf.

Writing for WoW Insider has been a great experience for me. I was able to write for a much wider audience as well as having to be much more critical when it came to my writing in terms of both content and length. Voss says I’m long-winded, which is probably not untrue. I tend to get rambling and then before I know it I’ve written three essays instead of one. Staying within the word constraints (1000-1500) was a great exercise in restraint for me. It’s forced me to be more concise and also to make calls about what is really necessary and what isn’t.

I’ve also had to reconsider the rambling structure of what I write. Overall, I think it’s made me a stronger writer and I’m incredibly grateful for that experience. Of course, another effect of writing there was that Manalicious suffered in terms of updates and I do regret that. Between the pressures of updating a weekly comic, a personal blog and a bi-weekly article about mages, this place has collected a bit of dust.

The future

Now that I will not be spending the time writing for WI, I intend to redirect that passion back into this site. I’ll be posting much more regularly as well as possibly overhauling the layout and updating some things. (My least favourite part of maintaining a blog, if I’m being honest with you. I’m not very technical).

But the fact of the matter is that I still want a venue to talk about mages, my favourite class and the thing that really keeps me logging into World of Warcraft along with the awesome people in my guild. I will, of course, still write about the old standbys here too: whatever is going on with Business Time (still recruiting, by the way) as well as art and personal anecdotes where applicable. I also talk about baking things. This isn’t WI and it has a much smaller audience and is part personal blog as well. I may also post fiction from time to time, though I’ll be tagging it so people can skip it if they like. I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea.

On a related note, as I’m losing a bit of my income I would like to step it up with the business side of art – commissions, etc. I’ll have more info about that for you soon. I’d love to do another set of Blizzcon badges for anyone who is planning to go this year. Those were so much fun and I loved doing them!

In terms of what am I going to actually be writing about: I have my third article about challenge modes more or less written. It didn’t fit well within the word limits and is mostly my personal notes about each CM, but I think it’ll fit very nicely here. I’m also eagerly awaiting news about our talent changes that is bound to drop anytime now. Celestalon’s hinting has me in great suspense!

So if this is your first time dropping by Manalicious, hello, welcome, have a cookie, pull up a chair. Things are a little more conversational here and I try to respond to comments when I can. I also have a strict “don’t be a jerk” comment policy and I will lay the ban down on someone really quickly if they come here and get out of line. Be polite and you are welcome. I’m Canadian, after all. To folks who’ve been reading here for years, even when content was a bit sparse, thank you. Without you I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to write for WI at all and I am so glad that I did.

cake

Here is a picture of the cake I baked the day that I heard The News about the layoffs. It’s this yellow cake recipe that Sally (Sarah Pine from WI) gave me. What’s brilliant about it is that it’s an old-fashioned, one bowl affair. You sift the dry ingredients into the bowl and then just toss in the milk and butter and let it mix. I set a timer and let the stand mixer go to town on this bad boy. The end result was delicious, very flavorful and moist. I frosted it with a chocolate sour cream frosting from another recipe book I had. It was the perfect cake for a bad news day. Here’s hoping that things will start looking up from here on out, though, and best of luck to my former and current colleagues at WoW Insider. It was fun working with you. I wish we could have some cake and beverages in person. Instead, just know that I raise my glass to you all!

Bipsi’s Bobbing Berg: this berg is for you, mages

A funny thing happened during raid last night. See, I haven’t finished leveling Anglers rep yet. I know, I’m really far behind. I just got so burned out on dailies. I’m doing it now. But I don’t have the waterstrider mount. When our raid gets to the part of Siege of Orgrimmar where Jaina gets all portal-happy, they all jump off the boat and run for shore instead of waiting for her.

I get it – nobody likes to wait for a mage’s portal. Ingrates! You’d think that because Voss plays a death knight I’d be assured of getting Path of Frost – nope. He never waits. So yesterday I jump off along with them, hoping I’ll be in time, only to land sadly and flounder in the water.

“No one ever waits for me!” I cried piteously. Our shaman turned around, came back and cast water walking on me. He is my only friend.

But Rhidach said, “Don’t you have that MAGE thing? That ice berg?”

“The what now?”

“You don’t KNOW about it?”

“Know about what?!”

“It’s an iceberg like the fishing raft. The one you shout at to make it go faster.”

“Get out of town, that does not exist!”

“I WILL BET YOU FIVE GOLD THAT IT DOES.”

And he was right. If you are Revered with the Anglers, you can purchase Bipsi’s Bobbing Berg for a mere 777 gold. “Save a tree, conjure a raft!”

Important to note: If you are not a mage, you cannot conjure the ice to make this raft. You won’t see it as a purchasable option from the quartermaster. You must use the more pedestrian wooden option.

AHH iceberg raft!

AHH iceberg raft!

I can’t even be annoyed at Rhidach for costing me 5 gold, since if he hadn’t, I wouldn’t have a way to go across the water as well as a really cool new mage only trick. I guess it costs 782 gold if your profiteering guild mate has to tell you about it first!

Challenge Mode Progress

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Worst screenshot. Best CM friends.

We’ve been working on challenge modes for several weeks now. I realized that if we didn’t schedule a specific time and day, we’d never get them done. So sometime last month we finally got it started, choosing Sunday mornings as a time that works for all five people in our group. We do them for about two hours, which seems to be the magic number to make progress each week and end before people get too tired.

Challenge modes are both exhilarating, and exhausting. When we first started doing them we did very little research beforehand, and just did whichever one happened to be the daily quest at the time until we had worked our way through all of them. Most of the Bronze rewards are a given and we were usually able to snag a Bronze without any preparation. There were a few instances where we achieved a Silver our first time through: Siege of Niuzao and also Temple of the Jade Serpent.

The most commonly recommended “easy” first Gold is Gate of the Setting Sun but we did not find that to be the case for our group. We have Rhidach (prot/ret paladin), Itanya (resto shaman), Shaen (elemental shaman), Vosskah (Blood/Frost DK) and myself (Fire/Frost mage). When we were working on Gate, Rhidach was tanking and I was still fire. We had many frustrations with all of that initial trash. People getting killed by the sappers, people getting killed by bombs. It was aggravating in the extreme. We eventually ended up deciding to focus on another CM for awhile before coming back to that one.

Our next target was Temple of the Jade Serpent, because we’d gotten a Silver there without trying. It’s considered a medium difficulty challenge mode but it seemed like a good fit for us. As we worked towards a Gold, we really had to refine our strategy. We used invisibility potions to skip trash in-between the first boss, Wise Mari, and the second encounter. This has to be carefully orchestrated because if you skip too much trash you won’t have killed enough enemies to complete the challenge. The most challenging part of this instance was really the final courtyard and the trash packs here. Many times we wiped to those pulls prior to the Yu’lon fight. We weren’t even sure what we were doing wrong or what we could do differently. In the end, we decided to change tanks between Rhidach and Voss and see if that made the difference. It really did, mostly because Rhidach’s DPS is a ton better than Voss’ (sorry, Voss). And Blood DKs do so much damage anyway that he was actually doing more damage after switching to tank than he had been as a DPS.

It’s tough, because you want to just bring your friends in their preferred roles to CMs, but in order to get Gold we really did have to do some optimizing. We still have a tank playing off-spec though and he’s getting more comfortable in the role all the time. Just this past Sunday Rhi couldn’t use an invisibility pot because he’d used a strength potion on the boss – I was so proud. Granted, it wasn’t the best time for a potion but using potions at all is a great DPS impulse. I really appreciate that Rhi has been willing to step outside his accustomed role in order to ensure success of the group. And we did have success, snagging our first Gold from Temple just a few pulls after switching things up a bit.

We decided against using the technique to have one person pull the last three trash mobs and then lose aggro on them in order to skip them. With dragging them into the Sha’s room and alternately freezing and DPSing them they didn’t hit too hard and we were still within the Gold timer when we downed Sha. Whatever works, right?

That brings me to the other major change that happened in between some of our struggles in Gate and our success in Temple. That was when I switched from fire to frost and it made a huge difference. I don’t think on boss fights it’s necessarily as large a margin, but with Glyph of Cone of Cold and Glyph of Ice Lance the AoE burst that a frost mage can put out is ridiculous. They also scale very nicely with a lower item level of gear and so overall I felt like a powerhouse instead of struggling with my crit rating as fire. It took a few runs to really get the hang of running as frost and to truly maximize the capabilities. A well-placed Frost Bomb, elemental freeze, Deep Freeze or Cone of Cold can really make some of the trash packs more manageable. It was also fun. Not because fire isn’t fun, but because doing really good DPS is fun. Feeling like your contribution matters is also fun.

Switching to frost in CMs had the unintended effect of making me frost all the time for right now, which is okay too. I may swap to fire once Siege of Orgrimmar comes out, but current Combustion nerfs on the PTR are staying my hand for the time being. It helps that it’s enjoyable to play. I’m nervous about the new frost mastery. It sounds like it is not good in situations when you can’t accumulate Icicles quickly enough, and compared to Frostburn there are times when your mastery isn’t active. We’ll really have to wait and see, though. I think it will actually be beneficial in cleave situations, so continue to be very strong for Challenge Modes at the very least. If frost lags behind in raids, I will swap back to fire.

Our current CM challenge is Siege of Niuzao. We had our best time this weekend, a Silver very faintly tinged with Gold. The biggest stumbling block has been the second to last boss with his immunity shield and bombs. The way to quickly move past this entire area is to not pull any trash beforehand. The first time he goes immune and begins summoning bombs, you use the bombs to easily dispatch all of the additional trash as well as the trash he summons during the fight. The problem with this has been that we keep having those existing adds run at us during his phase. One time it was my stupid Mirror Images; another time it was possibly a totem. I don’t know whether my water elemental will also pull them so I’ve been dismissing him as soon as that phase starts. It’s frustrating because it feels a bit random in terms of being able to achieve it and it comes after such a long run to get to that point. I think our scheme for next week is going to work though. I’ll be sure to put Ring of Frost down on the other side of Voss to keep him from going splat the way he has been. Even if we can just buy enough time for bombs to start coming out it should work. That time saved should be the difference between a Silver and Gold run, so I’m hopeful for next week.

Challenge Modes have been a great way to push ourselves to play better and to think creatively. They might just be my favourite thing added to the game during Mists – and that’s saying something, because there are so many things about Mists that I have enjoyed. My only regret about CMs is that unlike raids, I don’t get to do them with all the people I like to play with. I just don’t have the time to dedicate to two separate CM groups. Have you tried Challenge Modes at all yet? How have they been going for you?

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!

Mists of Pandaria Pre-Raid Gear List For Mages

Continuing a Manalicious tradition, I present to you the following: A list of gear to get your mage (or other cloth-wearing caster) ready for raiding! The conventions of the list are described in the following paragraphs.

I haven’t listed any gear from normal dungeons because normal and heroic dungeon gear has the same name and is just a lesser version of heroic gear. This is a ready for raiding list, so of course you’d prefer to have the heroic version. Use common sense; where normal dungeon gear is an upgrade for you, equip it!

In the past, I’ve included one quest item per slot just in case you really had trouble finding gear; unfortunately the database at Wowhead hasn’t had time to catch up with all that info yet. So there were many pieces of gear as I was searching that look like good gear, but I have no idea where it comes from. It could be a quest, it could be tailoring, I don’t know. I included quest rewards for the first few slots but eventually gave up. I assume everyone will quest their way to 90 to some extent, keep your eyes peeled for obvious quest rewards. You will likely replace them with gear from this list in any case.

This is not an absolutely comprehensive list although I’ve tried to make it as complete as possible. I still don’t know exactly what’s crafted from Tailoring or where there might be some juicy quest items. I have not included any PvP gear and this list is specifically for PvE purposes. The newest addition to gearing options is the Raid Finder, and Raid Finder items are listed under their own header. You still have to technically get a high enough ilevel to do Raid Finder, though – are you getting ready for pre-raiding raiding? Anyway, this is not a Best in Slot list, this is a list aimed at helping you to zero in on the best upgrades for your character from reputation, crafting, heroic dungeons and eventually RF. You can ignore the RF upgrades if you don’t intend to do it. I wouldn’t call it a reliable method of obtaining loot in any case because your odds of getting actual gear from it are pretty slim, at least in the Raid Finder’s current incarnation.

One major change worth noting to the gearing process is that items formerly purchased with Valor or Justice Points now also require reputation in Mists. So the heading “VP/JP” items also includes a reputation along with each item. The VP cost of items was available for some things on Wowhead, for the vast majority it was not, and so I used current conventions for items of that type. (i.e. a cloak is 1250, hands are 1650, pants/chest are 2200, and so on). These may be inaccurate but hopefully they are close. Blues are purchased with JP and epic purples with VP, as is expected.

Gear is organized first by slot. Each item has a Wowhead link, followed by the location or source (if known), and then the secondary stats. Int is assumed, none of the items have spirit (a pox on your spirit) and all weapons have spellpower etc. Items are coloured with their respective rarity; only blues and purples are listed. Trinkets have a brief description of their effect or use. This time around I’ve added a nifty Table of Contents so you can click any link to go straight to a particular section of interest! It’s beyond the scope of this list to provide appropriate enchants for each slot, I may do a post about gems/enchants a bit later on.

Table of Contents
Head
Neck
Shoulder
Back
Chest
Wrist
Hands
Waist
Legs
Feet
Fingers
Trinkets
Two-Hand Weapon
One-Hand Weapon
Off-Hand

Disclaimer: As I said above, I’ve endeavored to be as comprehensive as possible with this list but inevitably there may be items I’ve missed or that were added after the fact. This information is compiled for my personal use, and I share it with you so that you have an easy reference, but it’s not my fault if you buy pants when you should’ve bought a helm!

Head

Quest
Mistborne HoodThe Sha of Hatred, Townlong Steppes (Haste/Mastery)

Purchased/Crafted/BoE
Hood of Alchemical Vapors – BoE Zone Drop Vale of Eternal Blossoms (Haste/Mastery/Meta Socket)

Dungeon Drop
Barovian Ritual Hood – Jandice Barov, Scholomance (Hit/Mastery/Meta Socket)
Whitemane’s Embroidered Chapeau – Scarlet Monastery (Crit/Haste/Meta Socket)
Breezeswept Hood – Wing Leader Ner’onok, H Siege of Niuzao Temple (Haste/Mastery/Meta Socket)

Raid Finder
Hood of the Burning Scroll – Mogu’shan Vaults (Crit/Mastery/Tier Set)
Xaril’s Hood of Intoxicating Vapors – Garalon, Heart of Fear (Haste/Mastery/Meta Socket)


Neck

Quest
Burning Necklace of the Golden Lotus, The Final Power, Vale of Eternal Blossoms – (Hit/Crit)

Purchased/Crafted/BoE
Dorian’s Necklace of Burgeoning Dreams – BoE (Haste/Mastery)
Skymage Circle – Jewelcrafting (Haste/Mastery)

VP/JP
Wire of the Wakener – The Klaxxi, Revered, 1250 VP (Hit/Mastery)
Necklace of Jade Pearls – Golden Lotus, Honored, 1250 JP (Hit/Crit)

Dungeon Drop
Mindbreaker Pendant – Sha of Doubt, Temple of the Jade Serpent (Crit/Haste)
Temperature-Sensing Necklace – Flameweaver Koegler, Scarlet Monastery (Crit/Mastery)
Anarchist’s Pendant – Instructor Chillheart, Scholomance (Hit/Mastery)

Raid Finder
Worldwaker Cachobon – Will of the Emperor, Mogu’Shan Vaults (Crit/Haste)
Amulet of Seven Curses – Feng The Accursed, Mogu’Shan Vaults (Hit/Crit)

Shoulder

Quest
Dreadspinner AmiceOn The Crab, Dread Wastes (Crit/Mastery)

VP/JP
Mantle of the Golden Sun – Golden Crane, Revered, 1750 VP (Hit/Crit)

Dungeon Drop
Whisperwind Spaulders – Wingleader Ner’onok, Siege of Niuzao Temple (Haste/Mastery)
Forgotten Bloodmage Mantle – Thal’nos the Soulrender, H Scarlet Monastery (Crit/Mastery)
Shoulders of Engulfing Winds – Raigonn, Scarlet Monastery (Crit/Haste)

Raid Finder
Mantle of the Burning Scroll – Raid Finder Bosses (Hit/Mastery/Tier Bonus)
Shadowsummoner Spaulders – Raid Finder Bosses (Crit/Haste)

Back

VP/JP
Cloak of Snow Blossoms - Shado-Pan, Revered, 1250 VP (Hit/Mastery)
Cloak of Ancient Curses – August Celestials, Honored, 1250 JP (Hit/Haste)

Dungeon Drop
Cloak of Cleansing Flame – Gekkan, Mogu’shan Palace (Crit/Mastery)

Raid Finder
Mindshard Drape – (Crit/Mastery)
Cloak of Overwhelming Corruption – (Haste/Mastery)
Stormwake Mistcloak – (Hit/Crit)

Chest

Purchased/Crafted/BoE
Spelltwister’s Grand Robe - Tailoring (Haste/Mastery)
Darkened Robe - BoE (Hit/Mastery)

VP/JP
Vestments of Thundering Skies – Golden Lotus, 2250 VP – Revered (Hit/Haste)
Robe of Eternal Dynasty – Shado-Pan, Honored – 2250 JP (Hit/Mastery)
Robe of Quiet Meditation – Shado-Pan, Honored – 2250 JP (Haste/Mastery)

Dungeon Drop
Robes of Koegler – Scarlet Halls (Hit/Crit, Yellow Socket)
Burning Robes of the Golden Lotus – Unknown, (Hit/Haste)
Robes of Fevered Dreams – Shado-Pan Monastery (Crit/Haste)

Raid Finder
Imperial Ghostbinder’s Robes – Mogu’shan Vaults (Crit/Mastery)
Robes of the Unknown Fear – Terrace of Endless Spring (Hit/Mastery)
Robes of the Burning Scroll (Tier) – Raid Finder Bosses (Crit/Haste)

Wrist

VP/JP
Minh’s Beaten Bracers – Shado-Pan, Revered, 1250 VP (Hit/Mastery)
Tranquility Bindings – Golden Lotus, Honored, 1250 JP (Crit/Haste)

Dungeon Drop
Bracers of Displaced Air – Ook-Ook, Stormstout Brewery (Haste/Mastery)
Deadwalker Bracers - Rattlegore, Scholomance (Hit/Crit)

Raid Finder
Attenuating Bracers – Imperial Vizier Zor’lok, Heart of Fear (Haste/Mastery)
Twisting Wind Bracers – Blade Lord Tay’ak, Heart of Fear (Hit/Haste)
Shining Cicada Bracers – Unknown (Hit/Crit)
Gleaming Moth Cuffs - Unknown (Crit/Haste)

Hands

Purchased/Crafted/BoE
Spelltwister’s Gloves – Tailoring (Hit/Mastery)

VP/JP
Sunspeaker’s Flared Gloves – The August Celestials, Revered, 1650 VP (Hit/Crit)
Krompf’s Fine-Tuning Gloves – The Klaxxi, Honored, 1650 JP (Hit/Haste)

Dungeon Drop
Conflagrating Gloves – Trial of the King, Mogu’shan Palace (Hit/Haste)
Bomber’s Precision Gloves - Striker Ga’Dok, Gate of the Setting Sun (Crit/Haste)
Gloves of Enraged Slaughter – Sha of Violence, Shado-Pan Monastery (Haste/Mastery)

Raid Finder
Gloves of the Burning Scroll (Tier) – (Hit/Haste)
Claws of Amethyst – Zone Drop, Mogu’shan Vaults (Crit/Mastery)
Undying Shadow Grips – The Spirit Kings, Mogu’shan Vaults (Haste/Mastery)

Waist

VP/JP
Klaxxi Lash of the Orator – The Klaxxi, Revered, 1650 VP (Hit/Crit)

Dungeon Drop
Girdle of Endemic Anger – Lorewalker Stonestep, Temple of the Jade Serpent (Hit/Crit)
Incineration Belt – Darkmaster Gandling, Scholomance (Hit/Mastery)

Raid Finder
Ruby-Linked Girdle – Mogu’shan Vaults (Hit/Mastery)
Orbital Belt – Elegon, Mogu’shan Vaults (Haste/Mastery)
Sorcerer’s Belt of Final Winter - Terrace of Endless Spring (Crit/Haste)
Invoker’s Belt of Final Winter – Terrace of Endless Spring (Hit/Mastery)
Belt of Malleable Amber - Heart of Fear (Hit/Haste)

Legs

Purchased/Crafted/BoE
Courinth Water-Strider’s Silken Finery – BoE drop from Courinth Waterstrider, Krasarang Wilds rare (Hit/Crit)

VP/JP
Leggings of the Poisoned Soul - The Klaxxi, Revered, 2200 VP (Hit/Crit)
Leggings of Unfinished Conquest – The August Celestials, Honored, 2200 JP – (Hit/Crit)

Dungeon Drop
Leggings of Unleashed Anguish – Lilian Voss, Scholomance (Crit/Haste)
Leggings of the Frenzy – Commander Ri’mok, Gate of the Setting Sun (Haste/Mastery)

Raid Finder
Leggings of Shadow Infestation – Heart of Fear (Crit/Mastery)
Leggings of the Burning Scroll (Tier) – Terrace of Endless Spring (Haste/Mastery)
Dreadwoven Leggings of Failure – Terrace of Endless Spring (Hit/Haste)

Feet

VP/JP
Void Flame Slippers – The August Celestials, Revered, 1650 JP (Hit/Crit)

Dungeon Drop
Scarlet Sandals – Armsmaster Harlan, Scarlet Halls (Hit/Crit)
Soulbinder Treads – Xin the Weaponmaster, Mogu’shan Palace (Crit/Haste)

Raid Finder
Sandals of the Unbidden – Garalon, Heart of Fear (Hit/Mastery)
Sandals of the Blackest Night – Tsulong, Terrace of Endless Spring (Haste/Mastery)

Fingers

Purchased/Crafted/BoE
Lionsfall Ring – Jewelcrafting (Hit/Crit)

VP/JP
Simple Harmonius Ring – 1250 VP, Golden Lotus – Revered (Hit/Haste)

Dungeon Drop
Alemental Seal – Yan-Zhu the Uncasked, Stormstout Brewery (Crit/Haste)
Eye of the Tornado – Master Snowdrift, Shado-Pan Monastery (Hit/Mastery)
Ring of Malice – Taran Zhu, Shado-Pan Monastery (Haste/Mastery)
Signet of the Hidden Door – Thalnos the Soulrender, Scarlet Monastery (Hit/Haste)
Triune Signet - High Inquisitor Whitemane, Scarlet Monastery (Crit/Mastery)

Raid Finder
Fragment of Fear Made Flesh – Imperial Vizier Zor’lok, Heart of Fear (Hit/Crit)

Trinkets

Trinkets

Purchased/Crafted/BoE
Relic of Yu’lon - Reward from Darkmoon Serpent Deck (Int with an Int proc on spell damage)
Zen Alchemist Stone – ALCHEMIST ONLY (Mastery with an Int Proc)
Ghost Iron Dragonling – Crafted by Engineers but not limited to Engineers (Three empty cogwheel sockets for +1800 in the secondary state of your choice, e.g. 1800 Crit or 1800 Haste)

VP/JP
Blossom of Pure Snow – Shado-Pan, Revered, 1650 VP (Int with Increased Crit on use)
Mogu Rune of Paralysis – Golden Lotus, Honored, 1650 JP (Mastery and a placed paralysis effect on a 1 min CD)

Dungeon Drop
Flashfrozen Resin Globule – Vizier Jin’Bak, Siege of Niuzao Temple (Hit with Int on use effect)
Vision of the Predator - Striker Gadok, Gate of the Setting Sun (Int with a Crit proc)
Mithril Wristwatch – Coren Direbrew, Brewfest only (Critical strike with a Spellpower proc)

Raid Finder
Jade Magistrate Figurine – [Unknown] (Int with Crit on use effect)
Light of the Cosmos – Elegon, Mogu’shan Vaults (Haste with an Int proc on periodic damage)
Essence of Terror – Sha of Fear, Terrace of Endless Spring (Int with Haste proc on spell hit)

Two-Hand Weapon

Quest
Liuyang’s Lovely StaffThe Arena of Annihilation, (Scenario)

Purchased/Crafted/BoE
Inscribed Serpent Staff – Inscription crafted BoA staff, some BoP materials involved so may not be feasible to have lower level scribes craft for your main. Cannot be traded or sold on the AH.

VP/JP
Amber Scythe of Klaxxi’vess – The Klaxxi, Exalted, (Cost Unknown) (Haste/Mastery)

Dungeon Drop
Greatstaff of Righteousness – High Inquisitor Whitemane, Scarlet Monastery (Crit/Mastery)
Wort Stirring Rod – Yan’zhu the Uncasked, Stormstout Brewery (Hit/Mastery)
Staff of Trembling Will – Sha of Doubt, Temple of the Jade Serpent (Crit/Haste)
Headmaster’s Will - Darkmaster Gandling, Scholomance (Hit/Crit)

Raid Finder
Jin’ya, Orb of the Waterspeaker – Lei Shi, Terrace of Endless Spring (Crit/Haste)* Special: Can be socketed with a legendary gem

One-Hand Weapon

Purchased/Crafted/BoE
Blade of the Poisoned Mind – Unknown (Crit/Mastery)

VP/JP
Amber Saber of Klaxi’vess – The Klaxxi, Exalted (Haste/Mastery)

Dungeon Drop
Melted Hypnotic Blade – Flameweaver Koegler, Scarlet Halls (Crit/Mastery)
Necromantic Wand – Rattlegore, Scholomance (Haste/Mastery)
Firescribe Dagger – Xin the Weaponmaster, Mogu’shan Palace (Crit/Haste)

Raid Finder
Torch of the Celestial Spark - Elegon, Mogu’shan Vaults (Crit/Haste)
Regail’s Crackling Dagger – Terrace of Endless Spring (Crit/Mastery)
Loshan, Terror Incarnate – Tsulong, Terrace of Endless Spring (Crit/Haste)* Special: Can be socketed with a legendary gem

Off-Hand

Purchased/Crafted/BoE
Umbrella of Chi-Ji – Archaeology, Pandaren (Haste/Mastery)
Inscribed Jade Fan – Inscription (Hit/Mastery)

Dungeon Drop
Bottle of Potent Potables – Hopotallus, Stormstout Brewery (Haste/Mastery)

Raid Finder
Tornado-Summoning Censer – Blade Lord Ta’yak, Heart of Fear (Hit/Crit)

Conclusion

I hope that this list helps you to locate some worthy upgrades as we dive into a new expansion. If you have any additions, corrections, or comments, please feel free to post them here! I’ve gone over this thing until my eyes bleed checking for formatting or other errors. I hope nothing has escaped my notice but it’s possible it has. If you see anything, I’d appreciate your letting me know.

Tides of War (with spoilers galore!)

Technology has not been kind to me today. I waited patiently for the patch to deploy (these things take time) but some weird glitch prevented Vosskah’s install from patching correctly and so I spent a lot of time fretting about that. I wrote an entire blog entry that WordPress then ate. (This isn’t that post, that post is gone forever and you only get this post). I had just enough time to mess around with addons a bit before a guest arrived. I spent some precious moments with the target dummies after; long enough to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that FIRE MAGES ARE AWESOME. More about that later.

Meantime, the technology that worked most unfailingly for me today was my Kindle, as it happily delivered the new Christie Golden book, Tides of War, while I slept. I read it in bits and pieces throughout the day and then in one big gulp at the very end. What follows is part review, part synopsis, part reflection on the events in the book – and most importantly, it is chock full of spoilers.

Do not read any further if you don’t want spoilers for the new Tides of War book about Jaina Proudmoore.

I can’t say this more plainly.

Come back after you’ve read the book if you intend to, and you don’t want anything spoiled for you. If you are someone who is subscribed by e-mail, delete this e-mail before reading it!

If you 1) don’t care about spoilers or 2) have no intention of reading the book but want to know what happens in it anyway, then read on. I’ll put a big image here to keep people from seeing spoilers they may not want to see. If you scroll past the image and have things spoiled for you, I claim no responsibility.

Jaina Proudmoore art from the WoW TCG.

Okay. Are those folks gone? Now let’s talk about the book.

I’ve found the Warcraft books in general to be somewhat hit and miss. Arthas was a big miss with me (and I bought that one in hardcover). I like Rise of the Horde because it is the most information about draenei ever put in one place. This book continues more in the vein of the pre-Cataclysm book in that it’s closely tied with in-game events as well as published concurrently. The book itself opens about a week to a week and a half before the destruction of Theramore. The way it’s structured actually worked extremely well for me, lulling me into a false sense of security. In a way, even though I knew events would somehow lead to Theramore’s destruction, I was still deceived by the beginning parts of the book. Jaina is in Theramore, Jaina is generally happy, you get to meet Jaina’s new apprentice and all of her friends and staff in Theramore. They joke about conjuring cookies. I’m not even kidding.

So I started out really excited. This book is awesome! There are so many mages! They are my cookie-conjuring brethren.

Then things start to get real.

The initial conflict of the story begins with the blue dragonflight losing control of the Focusing Iris. You’ll remember it from such events as making it possible to use the surge needles in Northrend and channel the arcane power from the ley lines while under Malygos’ control. It also helped to animate Chromatus (in the Thrall: Twilight of the Aspects) book. This is an artifact of truly awesome power, and you’d think they’d keep a better eye on it. The Iris is stolen while the blue flight is attempting to relocate it – no word on how the Horde knew where and when to find it, incidentally. They were going to disguise and then hide it in the ocean but that didn’t pan out.

Things escalate from there, with Garrosh announcing plans to move against North Watch and subsequently Theramore and ultimately all of Kalimdor; he wants to use a victory against Kalimdor to isolate and eliminate all Alliance presence from it while helping himself to the resources and lands contained therein. Not everyone in the Horde is too happy about that, and it’s a subplot throughout the book that Garrosh’s methods and his Kor’krons grow increasingly violent. Orgrimmar is for all intents and purposes under martial law. Though this is understated, it’s understood that if someone isn’t cheering loudly enough for the warchief or if they dare to voice any discontent, they’re going to either quietly disappear or show up with a few more bruises than they had before. Baine and Vol’jin aren’t excepted from this, though Baine is the more outspoken of the two. Unfortunately for the trolls, their weaker position with the Horde makes it so that openly defying Garrosh is tantamount to suicide and Vol’jin’s hands are tied.

Baine is also victim to what happens here, because the Tauren need the Horde but Baine violently disagrees with Garrosh’s motives, methods and leadership. It’s made clear from the start that he feels ambivalent about what is happening but is caught up in events. Yet I think even Baine doesn’t immediately understand the depths to which Garrosh will sink.

This is actually worth mentioning here, before I forget, and it was Voss who asked me – do I think that Garrosh’s actions in ToW are out of character or forced? All along, people have been saying that Garrosh will need to do something truly horrific before it can be justified that he be the end-boss of an expansion. Heck, Rades and I did a comic about this very thing. Many people seemed to say “Yes, Garrosh is warlike, but he hasn’t really done much to warrant being especially targeted.” Well, the events in Tides of War sure change that in a shocking way.

Back to the actual synopsis of the book – so the blue dragonflight loses control of the Focusing Iris. It’s not known who has it, merely that it’s gone. Kalecgos is able to trace it somewhat but then his sense of it disappears. He’s lost and frantic about how the artifact could be used, and so he seeks aid which is how he winds up in Theramore and meets Jaina. (I believe this is the first time they meet). Jaina, Kalec and a crack force of mages try to discover how to uncover the artifact so that he can trace it. How they do so doesn’t really matter – the crux of it is that Kalecgos is eventually able to sense the Iris and it is zigzagging all over Kalimdor. This should have been their first hint that it’s somehow airborne, but this doesn’t seem to occur to anyone. It’s not being borne on a dragon’s back, so how is it doing that? Anyway, Kalec realizes he will just be exhausted chasing it all over the place so he goes back to Theramore.

Here’s where the romance part comes in. If you’ve read the interview WoW Insider did with Christie Golden, this romance is alluded to. I have some feelings about it. First, Jaina and Kalecgos as a pair isn’t too far-fetched, I suppose. He fell in love with Anveena, after all, and she was human(oid) and ended up being the Sunwell. So his romantic indiscretions with the ‘younger’ races are documented; he obviously doesn’t always have a thing for other dragons. It’s a joke in the book itself that Jaina isn’t exactly known for choosing the best romantic interests – Kael’thas (though they were barely involved, and Arthas…we all know how that one ended. Anyway, I don’t think Kalec is actually a bad choice for her. He’s a blue dragon so they have magic in common, and they’re both obviously powerful magic-users. In short, I like the romance but I think it was constrained quite a bit by the nature and length of the book. This is often my feeling about “one-book romances.” If you have a trilogy of books telling a story, you have time to do the more leisurely “maybe they’re starting to have feelings for each other” followed by the “something happens to keep them apart” that ultimately culminates with the satisfying “they’re finally together” feeling. In a book of this scope with this much story to tell, it’s tough to write a convincing romance but I think Golden did the best she could. You could also argue that in desperate times people will often turn to one another with feelings that are more quickly realized than would otherwise occur.

Personally, looking at him makes my heart go “pitter-patter” but maybe not for the same reasons. Mostly because: whoa big blue dragon teeth, scary.

Still, I tend to think of dragons as being less impulsive than regular people. They seem to love each other awfully quickly, which makes it less believable, but again – you work with what you have. So Kalecgos and Jaina are together by the end of the book, and throughout it he seems to flit back and forth a bit as he’s torn between his desire to recover the incredibly powerful artifact his people lost (whoops) and his twitterpated feelings towards Jaina. It’s rough, though. I feel for him. The guy only got to be a dragon Aspect for no time at all (to a dragon) and now he’s mortal again and his dragon buddies are all “Whelp, see you later” and he’s left holding the bag for having lost the Focusing Iris. So perhaps it’s natural that his attentions would turn strongly towards an engaging young woman – a powerful mage and extremely intelligent and powerful lady in her own right.

I feel like I’m dancing around the immediate facts of the book: the destruction of Theramore. It’s almost something I don’t want to put into words. I don’t want to talk about it, I’d rather talk about blue dragon courtship rituals. It was disgusting, and awful. Completely reprehensible and the opposite of honorable combat. This is how it happens: Jaina and Theramore have word of the coming attack thanks to Baine. North Watch falls easily as Thrall’s shaman harness the power of extremely dangerous molten giants (a power that could lead to another Cataclysm, according to the book). Theramore has time to prepare. Jaina calls upon the Kirin Tor, who send aid somewhat reluctantly and with the caveat that they will only defend and not be the aggressors. Stormwind sends a fleet of ships along with a number of great generals. One of them is a draenei! Rhonin is here too. Kalecgos himself comes to Theramore’s aid so that when the Horde come knocking, they’re ready for them. They’re able to repel the attack even though one of the Kirin Tor mages (a blood elf, naturally) is a traitor and was weakening the gates instead of strengthening them.

So it seems as if they’ve won at least the initial skirmish, although they’ve suffered losses – including all of their aerial defenses, down to the last gryphon. This is where the other shoe drops. Kalecgos suddenly becomes aware of the Focusing Iris again. It’s nearby, because it’s on a goblin ship. And underneath that ship is the biggest mana bomb anyone has ever seen. Kalecgos tries to detonate it in the air (where it won’t harm the city) but is repelled by the defenses on the zeppelin. In a last-ditch suicide effort, Rhonin draws the power of the bomb towards himself while sending Jaina through a portal to safety. The mana bomb explodes in Theramore, killing everyone in a really large radius. Jaina is teleported to one of the rocky islands surrounding Theramore, where she still feels a significant impact from the blast but isn’t killed.

I repeat: She’s not killed horrifically like every single other person, including Rhonin.

I’m afraid I can’t really do justice to the emotional impact of this part of the book, at least for me. Jaina’s sassy gnome apprentice, Kinndy, is killed. Everyone. It’s established earlier in the book that Kinndy is the only daughter of the gnome in Dalaran who lights the lights, Windle Sparkshine. I LOVE this gnome. I can’t remember how many times I have followed him around Dalaran, and gone out to help light the lights myself. Just giving this character a tie to an existing in-game character meant that when she was cruelly snuffed out I sobbed. I didn’t want Kinndy to die, or for her parents to lose their only daughter. I didn’t even want Rhonin to die, and goodness knows I’m no Rhonin fan. (Although now that he’s dead, maybe we can stop hearing about what a mage he is, a damn good one.) But for him to die like this, in such an atrocity, through such an act of treachery… it’s unconscionable. Going back into the wreckage afterwards drives Jaina to the brink of sanity, as I think it would for anyone. It’s not just that people died, it’s that they died in a way that is so fundamentally wrong. Grief-stricken, Jaina goes to touch Kinndy’s body and it dissipates into purple sand. The infusion of arcane magic fueled by the Focusing Iris has wrought awful changes on everyone it worked on. Bodies are floating, there are rips and tears in the sky itself.

Meantime, Garrosh is celebrating his flawless victory. It’s clear that he feels no remorse whatsoever for the manner of this massacre, and here incredulity and hatred for him begin to set in. Baine and other Horde-members with a conscience are sickened by what has been done. Whatever the Horde has become with this madman at its helm, they feel no connection to him or his further conquests. Without going into a tiresome conquest, the rest of the book plays out fairly predictably. Jaina takes the Focusing Iris with the intention of using it to level Orgrimmar in the ultimate act of vengeance. Anduin and Varian are both appalled by the change in her, and ultimately Kalecgos and Thrall manage to talk her out of making what would have been a mistake that would change her personally even as she achieved her revenge. There are a few other good moments – Anduin blessing the Alliance troops as they leave for Kalimdor, while reflecting on the necessity of war even when you love peace – and the fact that draenei were actually mentioned in this book a few times besides as “awe inducing shaman.” It seems the people of Azeroth have grown more used to draenei, or else the writers are sincerely trying to integrate them into the ongoing story. I would have only wished that one of the mages sent from the Kirin Tor had been a draenei (they had one of nearly every other race!) but we can’t have everything. Draenei are always shaman and paladins and that is just the way it is (brb, rerolling).

Tides of War was a good book. I appreciated as well the subtle integration of the in-game scenario, although I missed it at the time and had to go back looking for it. At some point, there is mention of “five people” helping Jaina and Rhonin. I can see where the scenario will fit, although I honestly have no idea how that’ll work for Horde players because it doesn’t make any sense whatsoever for them to help Jaina or Rhonin at that part of the book. Even friendly Horde aren’t going to be very welcome in Theramore at that time.

I’m also regretful that today’s From Draenor With Love won’t necessarily make sense in the context of actual events, although it could happen during the initial assault on Theramore! Anyway, we conceived and created it at a time when we didn’t have all of the information. I think it’s still a useful reflection on the horrors of war in general, especially when you have mixed allegiances and your feelings don’t lie with factions but with people. For this reason, Baine is one of the most sympathetic characters in ToW for me. What an untenable position he’s in. Jaina is the more obvious and sympathetic character because she’s just been through truly horrific things. Baine also lost his father at the hand of the orc he’s now duty bound to serve as he leads the Horde to ruin. I’m glad that by the end of the book he basically says, look buddy, eff you and don’t come around to Mulgore either.

This all paints Pandaria in a completely different light for me. I am happy to explore the new land and to see the wonders it has to offer, but there’s a sombre feeling. Where will all these struggles end? What more harm can Garrosh do to our people (and his own) before he’s finally taken down?

Another thought: wouldn’t it be awesome if the Let’s Kill Garrosh raid was the only raid that you could accomplish cross-faction, with both Alliance and Horde in your party? It makes sense, doesn’t it? You guys will want him dead, we’ll want him dead, why can’t we work together to do it?

Randomly: nice touch that when the Earthen Ring heard about what had happened with Theramore, a draenei starts to cry and she’s comforted by her troll friend. I like any emphasis that our races don’t necessarily determine who or what we stand for, and the Earthen Ring is one of those truly neutral groups wherein faction divisions cease to matter. See, draenei can be friends with trolls and orcs, too.

So, that is my huge ramble about Tides of War. If you made it to the end, you deserve a conjured cookie. Please feel free to say all that you need to about the book or the events in it or whatever you want in the comments. This is a spoiler-rife zone, so you don’t have to hold back. Everyone was forewarned!

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