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

Posts tagged ‘mages’

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 MageĀ  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!

Revelations (That Are Not Actually About Cookies)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Still Excited To Play World of Dresscraft

Last year, for the first time I paid for the Blizzcon “virtual ticket” so that I could follow along with the Blizzcon action as my Twitter feed was filled with excited attendees meeting up and having drinks. I really enjoyed the opportunity to see some behind the scenes stuff (the art and cinematics panels were my favourites!) and listen to the devs answer some questions.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t entirely fun to watch because some of the flippant replies earned my ire at the time. A woman who asked if we could have female characters that didn’t look like they’d stepped from the pages of a lingerie catalog was asked, “Well, what kind of catalog do you want them to have stepped out of?” You could see her face mirroring the feelings I had as this line of men mocked her question. Disbelief, followed by embarrassment, followed by resignation and a shrug as she stepped away from the microphone. By that time, the “answer” had degenerated into tasteless jokes about female Tauren coming from an agriculture magazine or catalog. It was disappointing to see that a serious question was not taken at all seriously. There are entire blogs devoted to the way female characters in games are portrayed. Women that actually play games? We’d like to know that our important organs are protected when we step into battle. Even gamers that are not women don’t necessarily like their characters to have exposed midriff for no real reason.

I’m digressing, though, because my post isn’t actually about this question, but another reply that made me roll my eyes.

The question and answer I’m referring to happen at around 9:39, so you’ll have to do a bit of scrolling to get there. For those who can’t be bothered, here’s a transcript: (also, big thanks to Wolfshead who wrote about this at the time of the last Blizzcon; the commentary on this entry helped me to relocate the question and answer once I knew exactly which developers were involved).

Woman asking question: I would like to ask for a closet. Something similar to a keychain. We’ve got all these wonderful festival items, and midsummer night, and all that stuff, and no place to put ‘em!

Tom Chilton: Yeah, that’s actually something that we had hoped to get in with Cataclysm. It’s really more a question of resolving data storage, and exactly what the interface is, and all that kinda stuff. But it is something we’d like to do at some point.

J. Allen Brack: What I’m interested in, is how excited are you guys to play “World of Dresscraft”?

At the time I was watching this, I tweeted: “Why yes, I AM excited to play World of Dresscraft, thank you very much!

Now, almost a year later, as the next Blizzcon looms, much has changed. Lo and behold, we’re getting a virtual closet. We’re also getting the ability to modify our gear. I don’t know about you guys, but the reactions I’ve been seeing to this have been uproarious. My guild has been furiously running old content to get specific set pieces – and we’re not talking about RPers here. We’re a raiding guild. I’ve been saving tier gear all this time out of long abandoned RP pursuits, but also because I just like doing it. My bank is all dresses. Tom Chilton gave a really respectful and honest reply to a valid question. Bank limitations are a problem for pretty much everyone, I’d imagine. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so much enthusiasm for an upcoming change before!

So I’d say: I’ll let the community’s response answer your question, Mr. Brack.

Right after I watched this Q & A, I started working on a small side-project for fun. Naturally, it could have only one name: World of Dresscraft. This is the result.

SO EXCITED. CAN'T EVEN TELL YOU.

Patch 4.3 not coming quickly enough for you? Help shorten the wait by taking your love of World of Dresscraft into the third dimension with a fully functional paper Millya doll (and assorted outfits!).

Millya is never without an outfit for every occasion. She has fancy dresses, spring dresses, Kirin Tor robes, Draenic Silk Robes (lovingly crafted for Modoru by his grandmother, they’re an heirloom, you know) and even an odd outfit she borrowed from another wizard she met once. There are outfits for fishing and baking, killing Horde, and of course some pyjamas with mage cakes and pink elekk slippers.

You can download the full-sized version here: Millya Doll (Colour)

and if, like me, you don’t have a colour printer, here’s a black and white version that you can colour yourself: Millya Doll (Black & White)

Both of these images should be suitable for output on standard (8.5″ x 11″) paper. I’d recommend printing them on matte photo paper, cardstock, or some other heftier paper. If you don’t have that option, you can always print out and glue them onto something sturdier. Speaking from experience, it is possible to assemble them using plain old’ printer paper, but she won’t stand up really well. If you have any questions or comments I’d love to hear them! The cutting is pretty fiddly, especially Millya’s hair, but it’s just the way her hair is. If you have access to an x-acto knife you might have an easier time using that for the cutting, although it is doable with scissors. I’d never made anything like this before so constructive feedback will be helpful. If I end up doing any more, I can make sure my next one incorporates any suggestions! After all, World of Dresscraft is a vast universe full of many possibilities!

How Playing My Alt Was Hurting My Raiding

I once wrote about how I think that playing alts can actually make you a better player. I still believe that to be true. If you’ve played a class, you’ll often better understand the cooldowns and abilities available. This helps with leading raids and organizing rosters. In PvP, it helps you understand how to counter another class because you know what to expect. I am a staunch advocate of alts! I love getting inside another class and seeing what makes it tick – or in the case of my paladin, making a list of spells with various iterations of Hand, Blessing, and Divine to try to keep any of them straight.

There’s just one possible pitfall, and I’m afraid it blindsided me. I think it’s a fairly common scenario. If you’re a raider, your raiding main is decked out in great gear. You take your main to raids, but other than raids, they don’t “need” anything. So… If you’re like me, you play an alt. That’s not necessarily a bad thing and of course, it all depends. There’s no right or wrong way to play a game, there’s only deciding what’s right for you. But if you are a progression raider looking to maximize your play, I’m going to suggest something radical: playing too many alts might be hurting you, as it was me.

On the surface, there wasn’t a problem. I mean, I wasn’t routinely at the bottom of the meters in raids. I think my performance was solid. I continued to enjoy raiding as a mage. I was just playing Vidyala, my paladin, constantly outside of raids. She was the one who needed Valor Points to upgrade her gear! She was the one who needed gear. I get a bit obsessed with upgrading gear, because it’s such a tangible improvement. I’ve geared alts to the teeth only to completely abandon them once they no longer “needed” anything, having hardly used the gear at all. I just like the completeness of it. It also happens that I enjoy healing, and I enjoy five-mans, and so I didn’t see any detriment to this alting – except when I started to take a hard look at my own performance. With the kind of gear I have, I felt I should be performing better. I’d grown complacent. I wasn’t pushing myself to excel and find ways to maximize my damage output, due in large part to the fact that I wasn’t playing Millya as much as I could be.

I decided that I wasn’t satisfied with the state of my DPS or my play. I wrote a whiny blog post (and deleted it, unpublished). I asked myself, “Do you want to put energy into complaining that your numbers aren’t where you’d like them to be, or do you want to put that energy into figuring out how to improve your numbers?” I checked up on mage resources to make sure that my theorycraft was current. I asked our guild’s other mage, Fsob, to look at my World of Logs. He is both my respected colleague and a wizard (har) when it comes to reading WoL. He gave me some valuable feedback that I used to plan my improvement, but the grunt work would have to come from me. I needed to play Millya as much as possible. One of my problems was not casting enough. Especially when a fight is new, it’s easy to get caught up in the mechanics and movement and not nuke as often as you should. To improve this, I was going to have to really focus on it.

I resolved that when I wanted to run a pug, I’d do it as a mage (thirty minute wait be damned). When I ran a BG, I’d do it as a mage. I ran dailies constantly. Tol Barad fears my name. The Argent Tournament is tired of seeing me. I was all mage, all the time – and I got results. Really and truly. Partly through a combination of research and practice, I improved my damage on heroic Valiona and Theralion by 1000 in just one week. I nearly doubled my number of “main nuke” casts, while keeping Scorch casts at the same amount. If you’d asked me before, I would have answered that I was “always casting” on the first V&T fight I looked at. But to see such a marked improvement in such a short time the following week floored me. I hadn’t received any significant gear upgrades in that time. I was just playing better.

"Thanks for killing my worthless minions!"

What Alts Can Do For You

(Doesn’t) Stand In Bad
If your goal is to maximize your raiding performance, in some ways alts can help you with that. Some things are completely universal – situational awareness, for example. High survivability is something I’ve always prided myself on, and that tends to be true no matter what I’m playing. As a healer, I can usually dance out of something oozey and painful very quickly. As a tank, I can neatly sidestep something coming my way. I believe situational awareness is a skill that can be learned, or at least honed – and you can practice that no matter what you’re playing.

You know the big spider forest in Tol Barad, and how those spiders will spit a big puddle of green goo at you? Did you know that you can usually start to move before the goo hits the ground so that it never hurts you? Half of situational awareness is anticipation. The same thing is true of the dark oozes that play a huge part in the heroic version of Maloriak (and it used to be the case for Trial of the Crusader and countless other raids). You can see the ooze flying at you and actually move before it hits the ground. Forget about getting out of bad – how about never getting in it? Of course, this isn’t possible for everything. There are some things that will hit you no matter what you do, and you really do have to move out of them. That’s something you can practice no matter what you’re playing!

At What Level Did I Get That Ability Again?
Another thing that you can do if you love alts and don’t always want to be playing at end-game is to level an alt of the same class as your main. I know tons of people who have done this! Vosskah has something like four warriors. I have two level 85 mages, as does Fsob. I know that Kurn just finished leveling another paladin. Leveling your “own” class can give you insights into it. The game has probably changed since you leveled up for the first time. Even if you don’t level as the same spec, it can be a valuable experience (and still scratch that alt itch).

I’ve had folks laugh at me for having two mages at maximum level. It’s kind of a running gag for people who wonder why you’d ever want more than one character of the same class, but it’s actually more common than you might think. If you’re playing a class at 85, it’s probably because you enjoy it. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that many of the best players I know have “multiples.” They are so passionate about their class that it’s no chore to make a second one. I sometimes wish I could “unlevel” Millya just to do some quests again and revisit zones that I liked. That’s not possible, but leveling another mage alt might be the next best thing.

Playing alts (especially in pugs) definitely accustoms you to the controlled chaos of a raid. Or at least, it accustoms you to chaos!

What Alts Can’t Do For You

I’m Sure Iceblock Is Around Here Somewhere
My pugging has honed my emergency button reflexes. My instincts have me reaching for Hand of Sacrifice so quickly; it’s like lightning! Unfortunately, that doesn’t help me whatsoever when I’m in a raid, because I don’t raid as a paladin. You might have lightning reflexes that are completely useless if your muscle memory isn’t remembering the right thing. (I also happen to have a lightning-fast Iceblock reflex, but that’s neither here nor there). Experienced alters often mimic a “basic” keybind set-up between all of their characters. So if you’re playing a druid tank or a warrior tank, your taunt is the same button (no matter what it’s called). This can help ease the transition between different characters when you do play them. I think there’s no substitute for playing your own character, though.

In a raiding situation, you can’t look down at your buttons and try to remember where you keybound your emergency heal or health potion. Well, you can – but you might be dead first. The faster you can instinctively reach for your key abilities and cooldowns without even thinking about it, the better you’ll do. You also learn a rhythm for when things are available. It’s weird for me to play my second-string mage, Tazya, because she has less haste than Millya and she feels sluggish. I think the effective difference is only a fraction of a second, but it makes a big difference when I’m playing her.

Being attuned to the nuances of your own class takes time, and here’s the thing… the time we all have to spend on WoW is finite. We all have other obligations, families, lives outside of WoW (hopefully!) It can be a fun diversion to level an alt for awhile, but if you aren’t 100% satisfied with your performance and your main, that’s time that you don’t spend improving and learning it.

Practice Makes…Probably Not Perfect, But Closer

I feel that I need to add a huge, honking caveat here. I’m not saying that “You shouldn’t play alts,” or “Playing alts makes you a bad player.” No. All that I am saying, from my own, highly subjective and biased personal experience is that I wasn’t playing as well as I wanted to, and I think part of the reason was because I was playing too many alts. That’s a decision that only you can make for yourself. If I was in a guild where I could casually top the DPS meters in a raid, I’d probably never have worried about it. It’s only when I thought, “I could be doing better,” and started to seek out reasons why that I hit upon this conclusion.

I’m a big proponent of doing what makes you happy; in life, in WoW, wherever. If hitting the fifty character limit is something that’s fun for you, why not do it? Cynwise wrote a great post about making a low-level PvP character just for kicks. If you get tired of them and want to delete them, no harm, no foul! (I’ve been thinking of doing this…with a mage, naturally). For me, what’s fun is progression hardmode raiding. That is my passion, and it’s one that is shared by the people in my guild. If I’m not doing the best I can, then I’m not just hurting myself, I’m letting them down too.

So lately, if you’re looking for me, it’s a pretty sure bet I’m flinging fireballs at trolls, or freezing Horde to the ground in a BG, or running around a grim island off the coast of the Eastern Kingdoms stealing fish from villagers. I’ve been digging through WoL to figure out ways to increase my DPS, and usually when I’m in-game I’m practicing. Diversions like learning PvE Frost as my raid off-spec have kept me occupied. Far from being bored, I keep finding out things I hadn’t thought of before. Besides, playing a mage is never a chore! It’s my favourite WoW thing to do. It’s been nice to see tangible results, too. I’m sure I will always have plenty of room for improvement.

What do you think? Are you a one-character sort of person, or do you wish Blizzard would increase the ten-character per server limit? Has playing an alt helped you improve your main character’s play in an unexpected way? Zinn over at Jinxed Thoughts wrote some great tips for dedicated alters while I was still working on this draft, and the irony wasn’t lost on me! I’ll admit, I still have and love playing a bunch of different alts, I just intend to temper my playtime with equal dedication to my main!

Fire Mage Gemming: A Quick Overview

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

Seeing Red

Gemming a fire mage is simple!

You want Brilliant Inferno Rubies.

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

So many beautiful red gems.

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

You must let this go.

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

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

Hit Me With Your Best Shot

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

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

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

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

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

Kill It With Fire: A Pyromaniacal Mage Flowchart

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

Read this with a few caveats.

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

It burrrrns us.

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

Cataclysm Heroic Tips and Strategies For Mages (Part 1)

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

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

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

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

Addons

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

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

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

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

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

Macros

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

General Heroic Guidelines

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blackrock Caverns

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

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

Rom’ogg Bonecrusher

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

Corla, Herald of Twilight

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

Karsh Steelbender

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

Beauty

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

Ascendant Lord Obsidius

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

 

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

Throne of the Tides

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

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

Lady Naz’jar

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

Commander Ulthok

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

Erunak Stonespeaker

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

Ozumat

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

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

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