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

Posts tagged ‘strategies’

Cataclysm Heroic Tips and Strategies for Mages (Part 3)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Halls of Origination

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

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

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

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

Temple Guardian Anhuur

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

Earthrager Ptah

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

Anraphet

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

Isiset

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

Ammunae

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

Setesh

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

Rajh

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

Lost City of the Tol’vir

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

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

General Husam

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

High Prophet Barim

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

Lockmaw and Augh

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

Siamat

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

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

When the going gets tough

Kae wrote a really fantastic post about Heroic Lich King. It’s worth reading even if your guild isn’t necessarily working on Heroic Lich King because it applies to any tough raid encounter that’s going to take your raid group a long time to beat successfully. Since I’ve been in Business Time, we’ve had a few of these albatrosses. In a funny way, when you overcome an encounter like this through perseverance over a period of time – your raid is that much more prepared for the next to come. Perhaps to make myself more clear, I need to get retrospective:

Firefighter

When I first joined the guild, they had done quite a bit of hardmode Ulduar. They had completed the hard modes for every encounter – up to Mimiron, and Yogg-Saron. If you aren’t familiar with Firefighter, I’ll lay it out fast and dirty for you. On his normal difficulty, Mim is a Four-phase fight. When you push that red button, he becomes a four-phase fight of WHAT IS THIS I DON’T EVEN. The hard mode adds the mechanic of spreading fire on the ground that is being put out by robots that can and will kill you or knock you into something that will kill you, along with heavier damage from all of his abilities, and targeted abilities on the raid members that could nearly one-shot us if we didn’t get urgent triage from a healer. But despite all of that – the frustration of a grueling and unforgiving encounter, it’s not what I remember most about Mimiron.

Firefighter was like a marathon. We started running it together and night after night we’d be in there listening to his screechy voice, just happy to have made it that much closer to phase three, that much closer to phase four. I kid you not, I dreamed about Firefighter. We learned the dance, we learned the positioning, we learned how to manage the fires, and eventually it all came together. But before it did, we had some casualties. No, they didn’t die to Mimiron’s fire.

It was the only fire I had access to, okay? It's dramatic.

One

We caught one of the guild’s tanks standing at the Ulduar summoning stone on an unguilded alt, heading into Ulduar after he’d set himself unavailable for our raid. (Incidentally, we were also short people that night). When we whispered him to ask him what was going on, his reply basically amounted to: “Going to Ulduar with my alt’s guild, have fun with Firefighter lololol.” Our guild leader at the time booted him on the spot. Obviously he didn’t want to spend the time with us working on hard content. Firefighter had claimed its first victim. He lacked the commitment.

Two

Healer tension between a Holy paladin and our then-Holy priest came to a head that culminated in the paladin leaving. He felt that we were not going to improve at the fight as long as she was there. Granted, she did have a tendency to die to situational things, which was the kiss of death for that encounter. We had our second Firefighter casualty.

Three, Four

The other thing holding us back with Firefighter was overall DPS was low and some people had a tendency to stand in the fire. The next two losses were a bit uglier, because we had a warlock who just… wasn’t getting it. His DPS was low. He claimed it was because he was taking utility talents, but I was routinely leaving him in my dust (by a large margin) and his gear was significantly better than mine. (I recognize this sounds very “Look at me, I’m so awesome,” I’m not a jerk; I was actually embarrassed to be in the position of making him look bad as “the new kid.” I really wanted him to improve, too.) He proved resistant to any suggestions as to how to improve his DPS. His friend (the aforementioned priest) was very protective of him. The unfortunate combination: They both ended up leaving. I don’t want to get into the messy, dramatic aspect of this. It’s all water under the bridge as far as I’m concerned. I think they probably found a place where they are happier. But statistically, they are important.

Five

The last raider was someone who just didn’t see the point in hard modes. He didn’t leave the guild (then) but he did later. He just didn’t want to do them, felt they were a waste of his time – he came to Firefighter once, but hadn’t watched the videos and was a giant liability. I was just as happy when he stopped coming.

Didn’t You See The Sign…

So that’s five raiders broken by the challenge of Firefighter with our guild that opted to go elsewhere. I discuss them not because I mean to say “Haha, we beat this encounter, even after they left,” but because I want to highlight just how intense this kind of progression can be. I think some people thought we’d never successfully complete Firefighter. We all got tired of it. Conversations I’ve had since included talk about how boring it was, how tiring it was to do it for hours, night after night – to always know it was there, waiting. But those conversations also include the awesome, inimitable feeling of FINALLY DOWNING HIM. When we killed Firefighter we screaaaamed. The sound in Vent was overwhelming and awesome. It’s that feeling that makes your hair stand on end. It’s the reason why Firefighter was the single most satisfying encounter of Wrath for me. If you ask me what my most memorable kill was, it’s going to be that one every time, without hesitation. We worked so hard for it, and we earned it.

In the end, it took us one hundred and twenty-one wipes before we beat Firefighter. That’s only times I was there for, since Voss and I joined. In the course of beating it, we lost five raiders (actually seven, if you count spouses/friends who left with various people). With a roster of fifteen, that’s more than a third of our total fighting strength. That’s huge. Its significance was more than just being short-staffed, though. It marked a turning point, if you will. A schism. Those who stayed were¬† people who were willing to really throw themselves against a brick wall until it was the wall that gave, and not them. Those who left were people who, for whatever reason, didn’t think we were the team to do it with, or didn’t want to do it at all.

From then on, when we were recruiting people we emphasized attitude and willingness to wipe on hard content to learn it – for weeks, yes, months at a time. In a way, it doesn’t matter what encounter specifically you are facing down. Let’s face it, they are all somewhat interchangeable pixels. You dance out of this fire, and you target that thing – those are the mechanics that stand in the way of success. But what really can prove to be the greatest obstacle is the attitude of the group. We’ve been fortunate to assemble a really awesome group of people – dedicated people who have stuck with us through fire and youurrr pathetic magic will betraaayyyy youuu. The summer boss hit us pretty hard so we were set-back, but we’ve been resuming H LK with a vengeance and seeing some tremendous success since the patch changes. More than ever I know this fight is within our grasp. Our best attempt was 38%, which means we’ve SEEN Phase 3, previously we hadn’t. I know that we can do this because I believe in our people. They are the team that came through the fire and were strengthened by it, not broken. We don’t stand in the fire, though. Never that.

Blinking For Fun and Profit

 

But wait...

Ah, Blink. You are the ability that mages and their fans and detractors both love, and love to hate. You were the topic of a question at Blizzcon, even. A slightly whiny mage asked the devs when they would be able to stop the dreaded Blinking Backward – because it was killing him in arenas.

Fairly predictably, their answer was: “Blink in the right direction.” More seriously, they added that the “backwards” blink happens in reaction to (as mages know) slightly uneven ground, an obstacle, or some other landscape abberation. It’s an unavoidable reality of blinking. They encourage people who find these landscape issues (read: almost all of the landscape) to send in the specific location so that they can pay attention and fix it!

Partly, I think they’re actually serious, and partly I think we just learn to live with it. But despite some of its flaws, I am here to tell you non-believers or those who just don’t know… Blinking is awesome. You learn how to do it at level 16, and you shouldn’t stop once you do. Here are some things you should know about blink.

Here, There, Everywhere

Blink isn’t static. That’s a mage joke, there. (Because it moves, get… nevermind. OR even better it’s like anti-static cling, because we wear robes, right…?! Nevermind). My point is, you can alter the way Blink behaves through the use of talents and glyphs.

Glyph of Blink will increase the distance of your blink by 5 yards. I actually used this glyph for a brief time for a specific PvE encounter. It can be situationally useful! The only risk with it is that if you are used to blinking and have played your mage for quite awhile, it can completely throw off your rhythym. Additional distance might have some PvP application as well, this one’s up to you.

Improved Blink (in the Arcane talent tree) is now actually a very interesting talent. Previously, this talent reduced your chance to be hit by spells/attacks by a percentage after you blinked. It might have been useful for PvP but was largely passed over by any viable PvE build. Improved Blink nowadays is quite a different matter. It increases your movement speed by a whopping 70% for three seconds, every single time you blink. Anyone who has had to run out of fire or move during a fight knows how invaluable this can be.

A word of caution to all you enthusiastic blinkers: Practice blinking around after talenting into Improved Blink. You can and will drop yourself off the edge of the Lich King’s platform like a complete doofus. I’M JUST SAYING. Not that I know anyone who would have done something like that.

Where did that mage...

Oh, The Places You’ll Blink

Firstly, I am far from the first mage to write about Blink. In fact, Euripedes wrote a great guide to using Blink and Slow Fall - over a year ago. I read it at the time and remembered it now – he covers raid content from Naxxramas through Trial of the Crusader, but of course ICC wasn’t yet out when his post was written. Here’s where I like to blink. (Please note: all of my remarks refer to the heroic versions of these fights, but in most cases apply equally to their normal counterparts).

Trash
When you are the unhappy target of the spidery creatures that like to web wrap people – if you pay close attention you can blink out of their trap. You have to blink before you’re actually “wrapped” otherwise you are stunned, but if you blink soon enough you’ll never be trapped at all.

Lord Marrowgar
The implications here are pretty far-reaching and obvious. Blink will move you away from Marrow’s bonestorm, fast. It will also bring you back to huddling up behind him quickly so you can get back to DPSing, as well as allow you to move over an inconvenient patch of coldflame. Blink is invaluable for this fight.

Lady Deathwhisper
Useful for moving around, you can blink to the opposite side of the room from a vengeful ghost – or quickly out of a Death and Decay. Use blink to keep up with the tanks as they drag LDW towards the stairs for the last phase.

Gunship Battle
Use blink to not be in anybody’s whirlwind. Actually blink has limited applications here. I tend to be so busy nuking things I don’t have to move very much.

Deathbringer Saurfang
Blink is excellent for making sure you don’t get your face eaten by a blood beast you’re trying to burn down. When in doubt, use blink to buy yourself a few precious seconds.

Festergut
If your team collapses in the centre as ours does, you can use blink to easily group up for spores (or save it and use it to quickly blink out again once you have the buff). It’s perfect for an emergency drop-off of a spore in melee range, should both spores happen to affect ranged DPS or healers. There’s no one better for this than a mage!

Rotface
Previously very useful for ooze delivery and general movement – blink has been completely broken in this room since 4.0 (at least that’s the earliest we noticed it). Blinking anywhere here will cause you to move precisely nowhere. Is this one of those specific locations Blizz was asking about?

Professor Putricide
There couldn’t be an encounter more suited to rapid movement! Use blink to close distance when you have to swap diseases with someone. A mage affected by the green ooze’s targeting snare can also pivot and blink AWAY from it to buy the raid group precious time to DPS it down. Please note: exercise caution when using blink this way. Since damage caused by the ooze’s explosion is shared via proximity – if you blink away and your group is caught off-guard, you may end up dying alone rather than buying precious time. Blink is an obvious solution when you’re running from an orange ooze (and recent changes to fire have made it so that you can really DPS the thing even as you run!) Throughout phase 2 and 3, use blink to avoid Malleable Goo, ooze puddles on the ground, and to remain within range to DPS Putricide at every opportunity.

Blood Prince Council
I think blink’s uses here should be pretty self-evident – if you are a mage, you’re probably helping to keep orbs up in the air. Especially in the heroic version of this fight, where regular movement stacks a painful shadow debuff – blink really shines. I was once able to blink over and just barely catch an orb about to hit the ground. It was fabulous!

Blood Queen Lana’Thel
Blink has limited application here because much of the fight is spent reasonably stationary. When you’re linked with someone else, you CAN blink towards them but I find that for reasons of lag it’s often better to just run instead. (Blinking completely past someone and extending the length of time you both have the debuff can put you and your team mate at risk). Do feel free to make use of Ice Block to thwart Swarming Shadows, though – and a desperate blink can save you if someone is a bit too close to you when Lana’thel is up in the air throwing blood bolts! p.s. – It’s not blink, but Slowfall is a nice gesture to drop down the hole after the fight. The courteous mage considers their friends!

Valithria Dreamwalker
Let’s face it, this fight is just about adds for us. Blink can be a great way to close distance between you and some Suppressors, though. Back when I wasn’t playing a mage, my mage buddy would blink towards them, frost nova them to the ground – and we’d both quickly AoE them down. A mage with any form of slow (arcane and frost and even fire’s blast wave) can also kite one of the exploding guys. I can’t remember their name’s right now.

Sindragosa
Everyone’s favourite hoarse-voiced dragon, the ability to blink laughs in the face of Sin’s Blistering Cold. Let her pull you in and then happily blink away. In the heroic version, if you’re affected by Unchained Magic, you can blink away from your team to your assigned spot, but keep in mind it’s adding to the damage you will take. Watch that timer carefully – just because you can blink out of danger doesn’t mean an untimely explosion from UM can’t hurt the people around you. Blink responsibly!

The Lich King
Blink can be used in the first phase, but again with potential for risk – if you’re dropping off Necrotic Plague, you risk overshooting and being crushed by the frontal abilities of the Shambling Horrors. You can use blink to get to the outside edge with potentially disastrous results (see earlier) or more reliably, as a safe way back to the center, and an easy way to spread out for or avoid stepping in Defile. In phase three, use blink to help avoid damage from exploding Vile Spirits.

More Than Just Movement

Those were specific blink usages all throughout Icecrown. I’m not going to detail every place in a heroic where blink comes in handy, or in PvP – I think these are fairly self evident. Rather, I’ll just mention a few specific things Blink is useful for in general terms.

Kiting

Every frost mage’s best friend, blink is a simple way to put some distance between you and any enemy (or group of enemies). When used in combination with a frost nova you can immediately have the range you need to burn unsuspecting creatures down.

Surprise

I’ve actually found in PvP that blinking towards someone can completely disconcert them (especially with use of Dragon’s Breath or any other kind of frontal cone ability). Keep in mind, I don’t do arenas, so I have no idea there. But in a battle ground, surprise is an advantage however you get it. I’ve managed to burn some unsuspecting people who never thought the mage would blink…towards them. Obviously a judgment call, it’s not going to do you much good if you blink to your inevitable demise, but it has its uses.

Quick Landing

A somewhat lesser known use of Blink – if used while in the air, it will “transport” you to the ground. This can be used in conjunction with slow fall, although sometimes you just end up blinking forward and floating weirdly. It works more often than not, in my experience!

Break Free

Blink will break you out of many slows and snares, and stuns. Not all of them, unfortunately – but there’s no harm in trying, and usually harm in not trying! Mage pro tip: The last fight in Utgarde Pinnacle is a joke for us. Each time you are stunned, you can ice block (once) and then blink each subsequent time. You should have approximately enough time for blink to be off cool-down again by the time you need it. If you’re a human mage you’re laughing all the way – you can use Every Man for another of the stuns and definitely escape them all. Enjoy DPSing while your group hangs around and you do the dirty work.

Eat, Blink, And Be Merry

Love it, hate it, or use it on the edge of the Lich King’s platform and plummet to your inevitable death – blink is one of the spells that is most unique to mages! It gives us our incredible mobility and is useful in so many situations. I’m sure there’s some I haven’t thought of or mentioned (mages are so ingenuous). What are your favourite uses for blink, or your best blink stories? I look forward to hearing any I’ve missed, otherwise – happy blinking!

 

...Go?!

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