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

Archive for November, 2010

Been Waiting A Long Time For This…

I don’t often blow my horn about my guild. (I don’t think I do, anyhow, but feel free to correct me if I’m wrong). I do write about my guild’s experiences where they intersect with something I want to talk about. Every now and then, though, I just really want to go on about something significant.

Many thanks to Draos from my guild for a number of screenshots used in this post.

Six months ago we were finishing up our last heroic ICC kill. Things didn’t look promising from there – heroic Lich King is a fight that was highly tuned for a strict ten guild. That’s not to say that none have done it (I know of at least two and one is an awesome blogger)!

As the months went on, it began to look like an H LK kill would slip through our fingers. We were plagued by personnel issues as we flailed against the Summer Boss. There were vacations (including Voss and I going on vacation in October). We were demoralized. We actually decided to stop working on H LK, period.

Longtime readers will remember how we discussed and wavered about whether or not we would keep our strict ten ranking. Ultimately, we decided to drop it. It was more important to us to have all our guildies in one place. Many of us “stricters” went out and tried ICC 25 in the weeks that followed. Most of us didn’t get any loot, anyhow. We no longer “ranked.” We’d decided to let H LK go. It gnawed at me a little bit, but I wasn’t going to force the guild to do something that they didn’t want to do.

One night, I was flying around Icecrown with Voss doing Argent Tournament dailies. He told me he was whispering with one of our paladin tanks, Meraxis. Mer had gotten a whisper from a guy in a 25-man guild on our server. They’d been armory stalking us and wanted to know if Mer, Voss, and Pan (our discipline priest) would like to join their H LK attempts. I remember sitting silently for a few minutes and then turning to Voss.

We should be doing that fight,” I said to him. “We shouldn’t be doing it with some other people. We should be doing it together. Do you think anyone else still wants to do it? That is so wrong.”

“Let’s ask,” he said, and we asked in guildchat. My visceral reaction was one of simple wrongness – that our guildies should be working on such a tough achievement with some other random people, instead of their raiding guild. Everyone who was online at the time (some six or seven of us) wanted to do it. We made a forum post. Nine out of fourteen people responded with a resounding yes and two more told me later they didn’t realize they had to post for it to be understood that they wanted to do it. We wanted to do it. We started working on it again.

It was not easy to get the team together. Scheduling hated us. Vacations and timing hated us, but we kept at it, extending our lockout, re-clearing for more chances at gear that might make an infinitesimal difference on the fight. As the weeks ticked by we increasingly felt the crunch – there was a hard deadline for this achievement and we were staring it down. Last week’s attempts ended on a high note – we got him to thirty-eight percent, our best attempt yet.

This week, we got him to thirty-three percent. On our next best attempt…

I am not sure I breathed for the last five minutes of the encounter. It was all a blur of desperate, focused intensity. Our first Harvest Soul went without a hitch. We followed our paladin tank and danced the dance and our healers were incredible and we came through. Everything was going fine until the second Harvest Soul. Even that went fine – we came out, but our paladin tank dropped quickly.

“Can we get a battle rez on him?!” I blurted into Vent. Ulla got him up but then we went back into Shadowmourne and this time lost our holy priest. No one said anything in the tension but you could FEEL us all focusing. It was getting down to the crunch. As we came out, our poor unbuffed paladin ate another Soul Reaper and went down again.

“HANG IN THERE,” I yelped as Voss quickly picked up the big bad.

“Two percent left, come on guys,” our paladin said.

Living Bomb, Scorch, don’t get hit by Vile Spirits, yesss pyroblast, fireball, fireball, come on, come on…

Yes, you heard me. DEAD.

DEAD. The sound was deafening. We annoyed everyone by sitting and watching the cinematic again. No, there is no heroic version. But the incredible feeling of succeeding at this lent it extra emotion to me.

I have never been prouder of our guild. We didn’t get this kill earlier, and that’s OK. We didn’t even get it while we were “ranked” strict ten. But there is no one who has 277 gear (aside from our rings, naturally). We’re all dressed pretty much exactly as we were when we were still as strict as can be. In our hearts we’ve never been anything but a tens guild, and this is a great triumph. I’m immensely happy. I’m excited to go back and do it again since everyone was not there.

It also bears mentioning that this kill holds significant personal significance for me, for one very good reason:

I did it with my main. Not a single member ever complained to me that I swapped moonkin for mage post-4.0. Originally the intent was for people to “try out” new specs and classes, I’ll admit that I seized the opportunity to play the character I have missed since January. It was selfish of me. Millya’s gear isn’t quite as good as Shae’s was. But damn it, she is my Millya. She is Bane of the Fallen King, and I know who my true main always will be, and I couldn’t have done that without my generous and uncomplaining guildies. I don’t think I was holding us back in the final kill (for any WoL nerds, like me). But this story doesn’t have a star. Everyone tonight was awesome and essential to our success. I am so proud I could burst!

Congratulations, Business Time! Tonight you were all down to just your socks.

Oh, he's fallen all right.

Friday Linking Love

This is what happens when I have to draw something in five minutes because it's a contest on Twitter. This is how I feel about lighting things on fire.

These are some blog entries this week that I enjoyed – because there are many awesome entries out there for the reading! I could pretend this will be a Thursday-Friday thing, but let’s be honest, I’ll probably just do it on any day that I remember and name it after that particular day.

Without further ado:

Natalie over at Pocket Heals has five tips to help you to beat the pre-expansion blues, and they’re good ones! I’m still putting off cleaning my bank character’s junk, though.

Beruthiel writes how she copes with juggling her leadership responsibilities even when she’s really not in the mood. She wants us to know that the people in charge get tired, too! Sounds like someone’s got a case of the Mondays…

Antigen from Haz Mace, Will Raid writes a thought-provoking post about the burden of being a hybrid, and he’s not talking about slightly lower DPS. Well worth a read for any class that’s capable of multiple specs – and even for those of us playing pures – sometimes it’s important to think about what things are like for other folks.

I’m late to the party on this one, but Kiss My Alas just turned a year old! Head on over and wish her a happy Blogaversary! I don’t like how that word sounds like “adversary.” Maybe I’m just spelling it wrong.

If you haven’t been reading Rades’ Letters From Northrend at Orcish Army Knife you are missing out! You can read a missive from the Time Lost Proto Drake, all about how Xevozz is back in business, and even Arugal. I’ve really been enjoying them. All they need now is more draenei.

My friend Snack (you might remember him from such guests posts as: From Bad To Less Bad: Pugging As a Tool To Improve) started a blog of his own! Here he writes about how he and Liala  have been schooling lowbies to respect their business area. That’s not exactly how he put it. I expect great things of him and this blog! By the way, it may also interest you to know that the odds Liala was tanking while walking on a treadmill are pretty high. How’s that for skill?!

Finally, last but not least, Payce is blogging again! And he has an awesome story about the Red Shirt Guy. I’m not going to get into it here if you don’t already know who the Red Shirt Guy is. Youtube will tell you all about it if you don’t know. It sounds like being the Wildhammer Fact Checker is paying off for him.

Why MMOs Are Good For Your Children

These aren't actually my kids. Especially the pale one.

In a society where headlines tend to favour the sensational, you don’t hear much about the good things video games can do. We’ve all seen news articles and television features about the negative effects of video games. A search on Google for just that yields no shortage of results. As an avid gamer (and someone who has been an avid gamer from a very young age) I think it should come as no surprise that I’m going to go the other way with this.

First of all, I feel I should explain my point of view. I’ve been playing video games since Frogger was a big thing. I saved my money from my paper route to fund our first Super Nintendo. The plain old NES belonged to my brother – and I hated that he got to keep it in his room! I had to get his permission before I could play Bubble Bobble with my Mom. I spent hours watching him play Zelda. Later, I owned a Playstation, a Playstation II, and then a Playstation III. I played the old Sierra Games (So You Want To Be A Hero?) I don’t believe that playing video games has made me a violent person. It has made me a more imaginative person, and it definitely helped my hand eye coordination.

Criticism of people who play video games goes hand in hand with other tropes about loners, nerds, geeks – social deviants, aberrant, homely people sitting in basements because they can’t interact with “the real world.” At its core, most gaming is a solitary pursuit, instinctively mistrusted by folks who think you’d be better off joining the local bowling league or “getting some fresh air.” I don’t subscribe to the notion that some hobbies are “better” than others. They are just different. Obviously moderation is the key, here. When it comes to children, one criticism leveled against video games is that kids should be engaged in more physically active pursuits. On the one hand, I agree. Game systems like the Wii that involve movement are well-suited to kids and can help combine those two goals. But don’t forget, I grew up in an extremely Northern climate. When it’s minus fifty degrees Celsius outside, you don’t send the kids out to play. Winter lasts a really long time.  My brother and I fostered a lifelong love of video games, and I’m going to tell you why that’s not a bad thing.

Socializing

Obviously this is dependent on the age of your children. You don’t just want to set your kids free to talk to any stranger they meet on the internet! Game responsibly, people. But socializing, as you know, is a major aspect of any MMO. I have known people who played WoW with their appropriate-aged children, and either joined or created a family-oriented guild. There’s a story on the Warcraft site about a grandmother who plays with her kids, and her grandkids too. This touches on a recent Breakfast Topic over at WoW Insider about using WoW to keep in touch. I know that I read recently about a grandmother who was playing with her grandkids over a long distance. Speaking as someone whose grandparents lived on the other side of the country, I know it can be tough when you don’t get to see them and really, it’s as if they are strangers. As long as parents are keeping an eye on how the game is being used, I can absolutely see it as being a great tool to interact and spend time with family and friends. It’s cheaper than a phonecall and cooperative, too.

Sharing

Anyone who has read some of my pug horror stories knows that some people playing this game aren’t necessarily poster children for Ms. Manners. However, think of the last time you encountered someone who you thought exhibited bad manners. I’m a firm believer that most social behaviours are learned ones, whether you’re learning them in real-life or in a virtual world. If someone rudely Needs on loot or makes an unsavory remark and the rest of the group reacts in a civil but disapproving manner, there’s a message being sent. Even though you might think the teenagers playing this game don’t pay attention or don’t care, I might be a hopeless optimist to think that some do care, and some do notice. I meet many more polite and friendly people than I do real jerks. I’m not even convinced that the jerks I meet are actually young people.

Especially if you play along with your child and demonstrate these positive behaviours, MMOs like WoW are constantly providing opportunities to learn about fairness and sharing. Jimmy lost the roll on that sword? Well, better luck next time, but that’s fair. Everyone in the group worked to earn that loot. Another time he will win something that he wanted – and the group will congratulate him and he can thank them, graciously. Hey, it’s not just reading and math games that teach lessons!

This one isn't mine either. They're a bit gawky when they're young, aren't they?

Teamwork

I don’t know about you, but I wasn’t much of an athlete when I was growing up. I grew tall very quickly and it took me a few years to coordinate everything. (Read: stop tripping over my own feet). I did eventually participate in some sports – mostly track and field.  My point is, while I’m sure WoW has its share of natural athletes that play – it might be fair to say that on average most players might not be. (Notice there’s many qualifiers, because I’m sure Awesome Paladin Tank who is ALSO nearly a pro football player will comment! Of course, I’m generalizing.) The point is, that many kids who might be drawn to MMOs may not be naturally inclined to team sports. Like me, they may have had an awkward stage. Or, to be perfectly honest, just not be much “into” sports.
I wasn’t even good at group projects or any other kind of group work. They always frustrated me. I wanted to do things by myself – this held true even into my college years. I think it wouldn’t be an exaggeration at all to say that end-game experience in Warcraft has given me a new found appreciation and facility for working with others. Other people may eventually get this of necessity from a job or other task. Perhaps I just came to this understanding late in life – but I have found that working with a group of other people can be a great deal of fun. It was a skill I had to learn – and I think that it’s a valuable one. I wish I’d figured it out at a younger age – maybe if I’d been playing more social-based video games, I would have!

Organization and Leadership

I remember reading about Tam’s guild in Never Never Land. The majority of the guild was between the ages of 16-19, generally. I don’t remember what I was doing at that age (err I was on the yearbook committee?) but that’d be the closest thing I ever came to the elaborate HR Resource Management game that is running an (apparently successful) guild in WoW. Whether or not Tam actually stuck around, I think it’s still a pretty amazing testament to what a positive thing the game can be. These are teens who were scheduling raids, making sure everyone showed up to raids, leading those same raids. I think that’s fabulous! Whether you are leading them in a game or elsewhere,  that’s a valuable experience. Tam also mentioned that these folks had some of the strictest rules about respecting other people in the guild and not making belittling, racist, or sexist jokes. Even better.
At one point in our raiding career, Voss and I were raiding with a paladin and his two young brothers, a rogue and a mage. They were very much younger brothers to the paladin’s twenty-something, being eleven and thirteen. They  seldom spoke in Vent at all, and he helped make sure that they knew what their jobs were. His whole family played Warcraft so his mother would listen in on our raids from time to time. (Initially, to make sure that we weren’t crazy people). I’ve never known raiders more polite and appreciative than those two fellows. They were never greedy about loot. They were always on time. They never failed to thank us at the end of the raid. For the time we raided with them I think they were afforded an opportunity to raid with adults and their brother in a respectful environment – and they definitely proved that they’d earned the right to be there.

Accomplishment

There are some who might scoff at “accomplishments” in a video game. I don’t think any of them are reading here, though. Just recently I wrote about how thrilled I was to finally down Firefighter with my guild. We all had a rush of happiness and pride after killing The Lich King. That sense of setting a goal, and achieving it – whether it’s a holiday achievement, killing a rare spawn, or even just to hit max level is something that people of any age can appreciate and take pride in. Setting a goal and then figuring out the steps that will lead you to it is another valuable life skill. Obviously it isn’t one you can learn only from video games or MMOs, but it’s definitely a powerful incentive. The same young men I mentioned previously, who raided with their older brother – I remember one of them had more pets than anyone I’d met previously. He was especially proud of his Kirin Tor Familiar. This is a pet that takes a significant investment of time and planning to get! I still don’t have it with my own main! (I am just one book away, though. Just one…more…book!) I don’t think anyone held his hand through that achievement. He must have looked it up on Wowhead or perhaps Warcraftpets.com. to find out where the books would spawn. Maybe he discovered the Bookclub channel on his server and joined it to coordinate with others. In any case he was definitely taking initiative to meet that specific goal, and he was rightfully proud when he did. I like to think that he applies the same spirit to school projects or finding ways to raise money for a new bike.

You Kids Get Offa My Lawn

Kids that play video games are clearly violent malcontents who will amount to nothing in society. Or, it could be that they are learning things about team work, research, setting goals, and social interactions through interacting with their peers and adults in a cooperative environment. Who’s to say? I’m sure that many “studies” have “proven” the negative effects of video games time and time again, but until then, society at large will forgive me while I remain politely skeptical! What do you think?

Flee, flee, little ones!

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!

 

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