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Cataclysm Heroic Tips and Strategies for Mages (Part 2)

This is part two in a series of mage-specific heroic Cataclysm instance guides. I’ll be covering The Stonecore, Vortex Pinnacle, and Grim Batol.

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

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

This is what my rogue friend was doing in Stonecore. I don't recommend it as a long-term strategy, though.

The Stonecore

Trash: I can’t remember any noteworthy spellstealable buffs off the top of my head, but the trash in general is annoying. The first three pulls in this instance, on Heroic, are some of the toughest pulls in any instance. Your CC will be invaluable here. Keep as many of these guys under control as possible. The trash later is a series of annoying, constant add spawns and that one guy who jumps on everyone. Just take it one pull at a time and you’ll be okay.

Corborus

  • This is pretty self-evident, but Blink is useful to keep yourself out of bad things (dust clouds, adds, pink shards, etc.)
  • Your biggest priority in this fight is to slam the pink shards down as quickly as possible – I find a well-placed Blast Wave + Flamestrike will pretty much handle this. What the initial burst doesn’t kill, the Flamestrike takes care of. Any similar AoE effect will do, though.
  • The adds that spawn when he is burrowed don’t have much HP – don’t waste too much mana on them. I dispatch them with a series of quick scorches or fire blast if mana allows. Substitute your quick abilities according to spec!

Slabhide

  • In terms of DPS this fight is pretty easy. You can continue nuking him for most of the fight, with the exception of the time when you must duck behind a stalactite to LoS his Crystal Storm AoE.
  • Try to find where your healer is and stay within LoS, it will make their life easier (and prolong yours). LoS is hell in this fight for healers, they are struggling to make sure they can heal the tank, so it’s your responsibility to make it easy for them to heal you, too.

Ozruk

  • Fortunately for us, we don’t have to worry about the annoying things this guy is doing to the tank. Our primary concern is making sure we aren’t paralyzed for too long.
  • Use his Spell Reflect ability to place a DoT on yourself – the damage will break you out of Paralyze. I tend to use Living Bomb for this purpose. An added benefit (depending on your perspective) is that LB will explode on you and if you’re standing near group members, damage and break them out of Paralyze, too. This can help out healers who may not have had time to place a DoT of their own. Make sure to ask about this first, though, and if it’s not needed keep yourself far enough away that you aren’t causing unnecessary collateral damage to the folks around you. Use Mage Ward to absorb some of your own fire damage after you’re freed!
  • It’s worth noting that his Elementium Bulwark can be Spellstolen – but be careful with this! If you steal it before all your party members can DoT themselves, you’re going to mess them up. It is nice to steal it so you can keep DPSing him, just be judicious about it. And to my guildies who may or may not have said “Where did his shield go? Crap, I’m paralyzed” – I had nothing to do with it.

High Priestess Azil

  • You can help Decurse in this fight. You have unit frames and an easy keybind set up so you can see and remove curses, right?
  • Help lead adds into void zones if any aggro onto you, if necessary. If not – just stay out of the void zones, watch out for rocks and burn her down. Don’t expect loot, though – rumours of the cloth boots she drops are greatly exaggerated in my experience.

Encounters aside, Vortex Pinnacle is visually my favourite instance so far in the game. Even running it at different times of day changes the way it looks completely. It's gorgeous!

The Vortex Pinnacle

Trash: You can spellsteal Vapor Form from the Empyrean Assassins. It doesn’t increase your DPS, but it’ll help your group be able to kill them (otherwise it reduces their incoming damage by 75%).

Later in the instance, watch for Hand of Protection on Servants of Asaad. It looks and acts just like the paladin version we all know and love.

Grand Vizier Ertan

  • Standing in the exact center (inside of his hit box) will prevent you from being hit by the tornadoes.
  • If your DPS seems to need it (or if your healer is having trouble with the AoE damage) you may use Time Warp, but I prefer to use it for Altairus.
  • Remember that because you are in melee range, you don’t have the threat buffer you ordinarily would at range, so keep an eye on your threat. If you pull aggro, nothing’s going to save you from being a mage-shaped splatter on the ground.

Altairus

  • Advanced blinking skills come into play here. You can blink to get upwind more readily but be careful not to do it straight into a tornado! They’re always moving around so this is a tall order. You may find it safer to just run. If you’re able to stay upwind of him for any significant length of time, the fight should be fairly short and sweet.
  • Time Warp can be used at any time when your group is situated appropriately. The more folks benefiting from both it and the upwind buff, the better!

Asaad

  • In the heroic version of this, the range for his chain lightning is ridiculously huge. It’s serious business. I was used to blinking to safety to avoid chaining it, but this requires a bit more finesse. Blink is still very useful for getting into his electricity triangles, even if you do get a chain lightning. Don’t use Time Warp during one of his “in the air” cycles because it can be tough to get LoS on him properly (he flies up), but you can keep DPSing him if you back your rear up against one of the points of the triangle. Just don’t go too far. Immediately after an air phase would be a good time, if you don’t have Temporal Displacement from the previous fight.
  • You can jump to avoid his Static Cling spell before it finishes casting. This isn’t mage specific, except you know what Static Cling can do to robes, right? Don’t be a fashion disaster.

I used to feel that Grim Batol's only redeeming factor was the amount of cloth that drops here. Now I think its only redeeming factor is the sword I got here, AND the amount of cloth that drops here.

Grim Batol

Trash: The trash here is unique in that the red dragon flight at the beginning of the instance can make it ridiculously easy. If your party is skilled, you can bring all of the groups along your “path” to very low-health without killing them – so much sweet, sweet rep!

If you have a tank that is a huge fan of CC, remind him gently that while a mob is polymorphed, it regenerates its health. Polymorphing something that is more than half dead is counterproductive when a few solid shots would just kill it outright and get it out of the way.

General Umbriss

  • We have no excuse to ever get hit by a Blitz here, it’s so easy to blink out of the way.
  • Someone (and it may be a mage) is going to be in charge of handling the purple troggs. You have to hit them with enough burst to pull them away from the tank, but not kill them before they’ve come towards you – if they are killed within his range they’ll enrage Umbriss. (This is an achievement, but not to be attempted unless everyone in your party is prepared for it). They don’t have a ton of health so it’s pretty easy to pull and kite them if necessary.
  • Alternately, sheep the purple trogg and just keep an eye on it for the fight, just be sure to have your tank positioned away from their spawn point so you have enough room to work with.
  • Umbriss enrages at 30% of his health and you can’t avoid it. Use Time Warp here to get this burn phase over with as quickly as possible.

Forgemaster Throngus

  • His sword phase doesn’t have much of consequence for you – he’s hitting the tank hard, though.
  • During his mace phase, use blink to relocate strategically and avoid his fire trail. Your biggest concern in this phase is to not pull aggro. Your tank will be kiting him, and he won’t be generating as much threat as usual. I tend to use Invisibility near the end of this phase, just to be on the safe side.
  • His shield phase includes a brutal fire AoE cone that is targeted on a person. Collapse on him and remain behind him as you DPS to avoid fireballing yourself in the face. Use Mage Ward to give yourself a bit of leeway to move out of the cone when you see it coming your way.
  • When/if Time Warp is used will depend on your group and which phase is giving them the most trouble. You want to push him out of his most difficult phases as quickly as possible – Sword (if the healer is having trouble healing massive tank damage), or shield (since it damages the whole group) but not mace since threat is already more likely to be an issue in this phase.

Drahga Shadowburner

  • Your mission, should you choose to accept it (and you really don’t have a choice) is to burn down Invocations of Flame before they reach whoever they are targeting. You can use Blast Wave to slow them, or Slow, or Frostbolt, whatever your flavour of magic. They don’t have a lot of HP, but watch for them and if one is spawning near you, blink to safety before attacking it.
  • That’s the only specific mage thing I can think of, apart from the “don’t stand in fire and dragon breath” caveats that apply to the whole party.

Erudax

  • This fight is fun, as you enjoy separating Good Purple Things on the Ground from Bad Purple Things On The Ground. You don’t stand in the Binding Shadows one, but you do blink to the Shadow Gale safe spot. (If it helps, one of them is the “eye of the storm” and looks like a hurricane on the ground, and the others just spawn on random players and are targeted.)
  • When we run this, it’s the task of all ranged DPS to sprint back towards the door (yes, blink!) and get ready to slow and burn those adds before they hatch any eggs. For frost mages, Cone of Cold is best for this, as a fire mage you can drop a Blast Wave that will hit both of them and slow them significantly. Then hit it like you mean it! This is another easy heroic achievement to snag because it just means doing your task well. If you keep his adds from hatching any eggs, you win!

That’s three more heroics covered. In the next part I’ll be talking about Halls of Origination, Lost City of the Tol’Vir, and possibly Deadmines and Shadowfang Keep, depending on length. As always, if you’ve thought of or know of any tips or tricks I didn’t mention here, please share them in the comments and I will add them! Many mages are better than one.

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!

Blog Azeroth Secret Santa (Zoxy): How To Beat The Auctioneers?

I hope you had a great holiday if that applies to you, if not I hope you’ve had a good week regardless. This post is from the Blog Azeroth Secret Santa exchange. Bloggers were randomly paired with other bloggers and given the task of writing them a post on a topic they might enjoy.

The post that I wrote can be found at Pixelated Executioner, where I wrote for Pix on the topic of draenei, lore, and gingerbread! You can roll on over there to read about that if you like.

My guest post was from Zoxy – not an easy task for him, I’d imagine, considering I pretty much never talk about making gold and that’s his blog’s focus. He noticed that I’d mentioned I wanted my latest druid alt to make her own gold for flying and be self-sufficient, and so he wrote some auctioning tips for me. Thanks for the post, Zoxy!

How To Beat the Auctioneers?

So at Trading with Zoxy I normally blog about the best ways to make gold but after reading this blog realized that my normal tips on how to make gold didn’t exactly suit.  But part of a recent post caught my eye about being self sufficient. So what I want to do is look at the ways to make your gold go further when buying off the AH .

So sellers such as my self will work with a couple of key strategies in mind to make the best out of the markets that we sell in.

Buy on The Weekend

Sell in the Week

If you don’t ask you don’t get

Is it above vendor?

Shuffle and Convert

Be Prepared

Patch notes and Hot Fixes

So those are the main strategies that I use to make gold and the best of the market but what actually are they?

Buy on the Weekend

The weekend is really a buyers’ market and not a very good time to sell, the reason is that a larger volume of casual players are online and because of this there is a much larger of volume of items being listed and as most players use an add-on like auctioneer and set it to automatically to undercut. So this means by the afternoon on Saturday that the market has already dropped a big amount. I normally wait till Saturday evening when people log off 11pm to 2am and then will buy most of my stock then.
Sell in the Week

This is another important point that if you are selling then remember to sell during the week . A great example of this is people need consumables for Raiding . So on a Wednesday post those items that raiders use . Also on the flip side of this after the raids people will need new enchants and gems so make sure there posted up after raid resets too. Overall during the week there is lower demand and less supply so the prices will increase .

If you don’t ask you don’t get

Many Sellers such as myself are resellers , this means that we look out for rare items and then flip them for massive profits. An example is recipes: I find many rare recipes for a few gold and then flip them and sell them for their actual worth. I normally make 1 or 2k from a single recipe. So because of this our profit margins are normally really high and so make a offer if there is an item on the AH that seems above your limit. Just today I managed to get one of my main competitors to sell me a recipe I wanted to for my main at 50% of their list price.

Is it Above Vendor?

Saronite is a great example here I have been buying massive amounts of this must have about 3000 ore now, and I paid a maximum of 12.5 gold for it per 20. In simple terms if the market is low don’t sell you items without checking the vendor value.

Shuffle and Convert

One way to make a lot of gold is to shuffle items, an example is if you have a jewelcrafter . I buy all the Eternal Earth under 3 gold and make into Stoneguard Bands giving me Infinite dust and Greater eternal essences. So each Ring normally nets between 4-7 dust or 2-3 essences. Meaning that these are great item to profit on . This is also now working with the new Cata ores too.

So with this always be on the lookout for what can be converted. Did you used to convert your frozen orbs to eternals or just sell the orbs?

Be Prepared

We are currently in the festival of winter veil and I have made around 10,000g just from selling the winter veil items . So my advice here is to make sure what items you will need prior to these events as if we take Small Eggs for a example , they normally sell for about 50s each but during Winter veil they have been selling for about 4g each . So why pay 20g when you only needed to pay 2?

Patch notes and Hot Fixes :

Patch day is always a massive opportunity to make gold, so don’t get caught out. My simple bit of advice is don’t buy anything on a patch day that would be classed as a Big Ticket item. My example here is a recipe: Savory Deviate Delight. Pre Shattering it sold for 2-3k on my server but now only sells for 100g . On that day I managed to go out and farm 3 for myself in 30 mins due to the changed drop rates and then sell them for 1k each before people were aware. So be careful and make sure you have read those patch notes.

Summary

  • Buy on the weekend toward the end of the day
  • Sell in the Week to respond to the raiders
  • If you want a high ticket item send an offer to the Seller
  • Make sure you’re not giving gold away check the vendor value
  • Can you shuffle it to make it worth more ?
  • Be prepared – Don’t wait until the festival to buy the items you need for it
  • Be Careful on Patch day don’t buy high ticket items.

So thanks for reading and I hope the tips help your gold go further and understand what us auctioneers are up to when were doing odd things . If you have any questions then please ask.

Well have a good festive season all.

Zoxy

Pre-Raid Mage Gear List

A few weeks back (because he’s on top of things like that), a guildie of mine compiled a list of mage gear, following in the footsteps of other folks on the Mana Obscura mage forums who were getting ready for Cataclysm. I read it, said “Hey, that’s great!” and filed it away for future reference. I didn’t think I’d be needing it immediately. I was wrong.

I’ve found myself referring to his list often over the past few days, but I’ve also started squirreling away information of my own, and so this edited list was born. My favourite style of pre-raid gear list was defined by the excellent Gearing Your Feral Druid at 80 guides by Allison Robert. I am following in her footsteps by categorizing the drops because sometimes you can’t depend on drops, and it’s nice to see at a glance what you can use in a pinch. I’m not really doing the level of analysis that Allison did with those guides, though, because what’s BiS for one spec may not be quite so for another. Naturally, you’re going to want to prioritize hit until you’re capped or near it, and then chase specific stats as your spec and playstyle demand.

A huge thanks to Fsob for his original work and permission to use his list as a starting point. If you just want to know about all the very best gear, here’s where you can find that list.

Please note that this list covers Reputation items, BoE profession items, items that can be bought with Justice Points, and 5 man heroic drops. It does not cover BoE raid drops, PvP items of any kind, holiday items, items bought with Valor Points, Archaeology items, or profession specific items, enchants, or gems.

All Reputation items are from Alliance reputations. Horde have the exact same items, just with different names/reps.

I changed the formatting a little; assume that all instances refer to heroic drops UNLESS otherwise noted. For all of the items, you can assume that the normal drop of the same item is a solid choice while leveling, or will at least stand you in good stead until you can replace it.

Do you have your head in the sand about your gear? Refuse to admit it's time for a wardrobe update? We can help!

I intend to use this list to focus my efforts and identify weak spots in my gear that can be improved. I’ve tried to make it as relevant and thorough as possible, adding parts in where I thought they were missing, but I make no claim of 100% accuracy. Feel free to mention any additions you feel I’ve overlooked, I don’t want to have misinformation! Each slot is divided into four categories: Purchased/crafted items (including Justice Points), drops, quests, and faction rewards. What is best for you will depend on your spec.

Please note that all instances referenced below refer to heroic versions.

Head

Purchased/Crafted
Cowl of Pleasant Gloom – 2,200 Justice Points

Drop
Crown of Enfeebled Bodies – Grim Batol (Erudax)
Blinders of the Follower – Shadowfang Keep (Lord Walden)
Helm of the Typhonic Beast – Halls of Origination (Setesh)

Quest
Kata-Mary Crown is a decent option as a quest reward from the quest Gnomebliteration in Uldum. Plus, you can hum the Katamari song when you wear it…

Faction
This helm is available at Honored with the Earthen Ring. Save yourself some justice points and pick up Helm of Temperance as a good starter helm. It’s almost identical to the normal version of Crown of Enfeebled Bodies, and it has a meta and one socket as well.

Enchant with Arcanum of Hyjal (Guardians of Hyjal, Revered).

Neck

Purchased/Crafted
Eye of Many Deaths – BoE, crafted by Jewelcrafters with a skill of 525
String of Beaded Bubbles – 1,250 Justice Points
Charm of the Muse – BoE zone drop in Heroic Halls of Origination

Drop
Pendant of the Keep – Shadowfang Keep (Baron Silverlaine)
Pipefish Cord – Throne of the Tides (Neptulon’s Cache)
Tauntka’s Necklace – Lost City of the Tol’vir (High Prophet Barim)

Quest
Eye of Despair – Reward from the quest Eye Spy in Twilight Highlands

Faction
Lightning Flash Pendant – Requires Wildhammer Clan – Exalted

Shoulder

Meadow Mantle – 1,650 Justice Points

Drop
Mantle of Master Cho – Lost City of Tol’vir (Siamat)
Mantle of the Eastern Lords – Shadowfang Keep (Lord Godfrey)

Quest
Clan Heart Shoulders
- Reward from quest The Loyalty of Clan Mullan in Twilight Highlands.
Blight-Lifter’s Mantle
– Reward from The Source of Their Power (dungeon quest) in Lost City of Tol’Vir (normal).

Faction
There is no good reputation option, unfortunately.

Enchant with Greater Inscription of Charged Lodestone. (Therazane, Exalted).

Back

Purchased/Crafted
There are not any viable options that don’t require Valor Points.

Drop
Periwinkle Cloak -  Throne of the Tides (Lady Naz’jar)
Shadow of Perfect Bliss – The Vortex Pinnacle (Asaad)

Quest
Stone-Binder’s Cloak – quest reward from The World Pillar Fragment in Deepholm.

Faction
Cloak of Ancient Wisdom – Requires The Earthen Ring, Revered
Cloak of the Dryads – You can also pick up this cloak from the Guardians of Hyjal at Honored. It’s not the greatest (spirit, ick) but you can reforge a bit of that until you’re able to replace it with something better.

Enchant with Greater Critical Strike or Greater Intellect.

Chest

Purchased/Crafted
Robes of Embalmed Darkness – 2,200 Justice Points

Drop
Corsair’s Overshirt – The Deadmines (“Captain” Cookie)
Inquisition Robes – Blackrock Caverns (Rom’ogg Bonecrusher)
Robes of Arugal – Shadowfang Keep (Baron Ashbury)
Robes of Rampant Growth – Halls of Origination (Ammunae)

Quest
Overly Intelligent Robes – Reward from the quest Skullcrusher the Mountain in Twilight Highlands.

Faction
Robes of Orsis – Requires Ramkahen – Revered

Enchant with Peerless Stats.

Wrist

Purchased/Crafted
There seems to always be a dearth of available bracers. If you can’t snag any of the other options, these two tailored resilience pieces are almost identical except for one stat: Emberfire Bracers has haste while Fireweave Bracers have mastery.

Drop
Armbands of Exiled Architects – The Deadmines (Vanessa VanCleef)
Sand Silk Wristband – Lost City of the Tol’vir (Augh)

Quest
True Archaeologist’s Bracers – Reward from quest Doing It The Hard Way (dungeon quest), Halls of Origination

Faction
No options.

Enchant with Precision, Greater Critical Strike, or Greater Speed.

Hands

Purchased/Crafted
Gloves of the Painless Midnight – 1,650 Justice Points

Drop
Mnemiopsis Gloves – Throne of the Tides (Neptulon’s Cache)

Quest
Corruption Resistant Gloves – Reward from quest Magmalord Falthazar, Twilight Highlands.

Faction
Flamebloom Gloves – Requires The Earthen Ring, Exalted
Gloves of Atherial Rumours – Wildhammer Clan, Honored

Enchant with Haste or Greater Mastery.

Waist

Purchased/Crafted
Dreamless Belt – BoE Crafted by Tailors with a skill of 525 (but these are going to be pretty dear until enough time has passed for people to level tailoring and acquire cloth).
Incense Infused Cumberbund – 1,650 Justice Points
Triple-Loop Belt – BoE zone drop, Halls of Origination

Drop
Beauty’s Silken Ribbon – Blackrock Caverns (Beauty)
Stratosphere Belt – The Vortex Pinnacle (Grand Vizier Ertan)
Girdle of Nobility – BoE zone drop in Dead Mines (Heroic)

Quest
Pillarbind Waistguard from quest in Deepholm The Middle Fragment.

Faction
Cord of Raven Queen – Again, another spirit option that isn’t ideal but if you happen to have a ton of Guardians of Hyjal rep, it’s better than nothing (Exalted, Guardians of Hyjal).

Add an extra socket with an Ebonsteel Belt Buckle.

Legs

Purchased/Crafted
Breeches of Mended Nightmares – BoE Crafted by Tailors with a skill of 525
Flame-Ascended Pantaloons – BoE Crafted by Tailors with a skill of 525
Pensive Legwraps – 2,200 Justice Points.

Drop
Legwraps of Astral Rain – Isiset in Heroic Halls of Origination.

Quest
Narkall’s Leggings from quest reward Narkall, The Drake-Tamer in Twilight Highlands

Faction
No viable option unfortunately.

Enchant with Powerful Enchanted Spellthread or Enchanted Spellthread.

Feet

Purchased/Crafted
The crafted options here are not as good as quested, and the BoE drops will be very rare initially.

Drop
Slippers of the Twilight Prophet – The Stonecore (High Priestess Azil)
Corpse Rompers – BoE zone drop in The Deadmines (heroic)

Quest
Magma-Proof Sandals – quest reward from A Fiery Reunion, Twilight Highlands

Faction
Desert Walker Sandals – Requires Ramkahen – Exalted

Enchant with Lavawalker, Mastery, Haste, or Precision.

Fingers

Purchased/Crafted
Abandoned Dark Iron Ring – BoE zone drop from Grim Batol
Ring of Warring Elements – BoE crafted by Jewelcrafters with a skill of 525.

Drop
Anthia’s Ring – Throne of the Tides (Mindbender Ghur’sha)
Band of Rays – Halls of Origination (Rajh)
Lavishly Jeweled Ring – The Deadmines (Admiral Ripsnarl)
Rose Quartz Band – The Stonecore (Slabhide)
Spirit Creeper Ring – Lost City of Tol’vir (General Husam)

Quest
Red Dragonheart Ring – Quest reward from Battle of Life and Death, Twilight Highlands

Faction
Band of Singing Grass – Requires Wildhammer Clan – Revered
Diamant’s Ring of Temperance – Requires Therazane – Revered

Trinkets

I was fortunate enough to have a jewelcrafting trinket for this slot. Trinkets are notoriously difficult to obtain but look to the quested options if you are unlucky with drops. The three listed here are all fairly decent.

Purchased/Crafted
Darkmoon Card: Volcano – BoE, obtained by turning in a Volcanic Deck or by purchasing from someone else who did.

Drop
Anhuur’s Hymnal – Halls of Origination (Temple Guardian Anhuur)
Gale of Shadows – Grim Batol (Erudax)
Sorrowsong – Lost City of Tol’vir (Siamat)
Tendrils of Burrowing Dark – The Stonecore (Ozruk)
Witching Hourglass – Blackrock Caverns (Ascendant Lord Obsidius)

Quest
World-Queller Focus – Quest reward from Once More Into The Fire, Twilight Highlands
Talisman of Sinister Order – Quest reward from Firing Squad, Uldum
Stonemother’s Kiss – Quest reward from Audience with the Stonemother, Deepholm

Faction
Stump of Time – Requires Baradin’s Wardens – Exalted

Wand

Purchased/Crafted
Wand of Dark Worship – BoE zone drop from The Stonecore
Cyu’s Ornate Wand – BoE world drop

Drop
Cookie’s Stirring Rod – The Deadmines (“Captain” Cookie)
Corla’s Baton – Blackrock Caverns (Corla, Herald of Twilight)

Quest
Beach-Sweeper Wand from quest Landgrab in Twilight Highlands

Faction
Nothing. Squat (diddly).

Two-Hand Weapon

Purchased/Crafted
Staff of Solemn Secrecy – BoE world drop

Drop
Cerith Spire Staff – Throne of the Tides (Commander Ulthok)
Emberstone Staff -  The Deadmines (Foe Reaper 5000)
Staff of Siphoned Essences – Grim Batol (Erudax)

Quest
Very Manly Staff - Quest reward from the Crucible of Carnage quest chains, Twilight Highlands

Faction
Insidious Staff – Requires Baradin’s Wardens – Revered

Enchant with Power Torrent or Hurricane.

One-Hand Weapon

Purchased/Crafted
Beak of Julak-Doom – BoE drop from a world boss Julak-Doom
Elementium Spellblade – BoE crafted by Blacksmiths with a skill of 520
Fire-Etched Dagger – the lesser BoE crafted option from Blacksmiths with a skill of 425

Drop
Biting Wind – The Vortex Pinnacle (Grand Vizier Ertan)
Blade of the Burning Sun – Halls of Origination (Rajh)
Modgud’s Blade – Grim Batol (General Umbriss)

Quest
Salhet’s Ornate Dagger, quest reward from Salhet the Tactician in Uldum

Faction
They’ve got nothing.

Enchant with Power Torrent or Hurricane.

Off-Hand

Purchased/Crafted
Dungeoneering Guide – BoE crafted by Scribes with a skill level of 510
Hermit’s Lamp – a steal at 950 Justice Points, if you have a decent main-hand

Drop
Beauty’s Favorite Bone – Blackrock Caverns (Beauty)

Quest
Skyflight Beacon – Quest reward from Doing It Like A Dunwald, Twilight Highlands

Faction
Sadly nothing.

Enchant with Superior Intellect.

Conclusion

Quest through Twilight Highlands if at all possible, because some of the best quested gear is from there. Then you can isolate your weakest points and upgrade those, or see what drops. If you’ve already acquired a normal dungeon drop in one slot, maybe you’ll spend Justice Points or count on crafted gear to fill another.

Again, huge thanks to Fsob for putting in much of the grunt work to compile this list, and for generously allowing me to add to and edit what was already done. It would’ve taken three times as long otherwise. As it is, I’m going to use it to help me with my own gear, and I hope my contribution is some small help to any other mages (or cloth DPS folks).

There are some other great guides out there; Poneria at Fel Concentration has done one for warlocks. Let me know if there are others I’ve missed and I’ll be happy to add them!

Housekeeping for Cataclysm

I’m not the neatest person in the world. It’s true, I’ll admit it. You’ll just have to take my word for it. I consider myself mostly in the category of “messy.” When I clean things, they will be spotless (this is a legacy of my mother’s neat freak tendencies) but sometimes it’s…finding the things underneath other things in order to clean them that is my issue.

There’ve been plenty of great posts about getting your finances, guild bank, and gear list in order for the launch of Cataclysm. What about your real-life environment and your food list? Most WoW players like to have some time to focus on the game to the exclusion of all else, at least initially. No, you don’t need a catheter at your desk – but if you take care of your environment beforehand, you can focus on the game in comfort and (relative) cleanliness! Here’s my plan.

I do wield a broom like this.

 

The White Glove Test

  • Set a time-frame. Last week I made sure the main floor of the house was spotless. This week I’m setting my sights on the upstairs – office and bedrooms, which are really the hardest parts. I am going to declutter these over the weekend before Monday and get them pretty clean.
  • Clean a little beyond your usual standards. If you’re pretty sure you’ll be occupied with Cataclysm for awhile, clean a bit more than you usually do. It doesn’t have to be spotless (unless your Mom is my Mom and let’s be honest, what are the odds of that?) but the cleaner it is, the less you’ll have to worry about for the next week or so.
  • Keep your goals reasonable. If your apartment or house looks like ground zero right now – it’s probably not going to be spotless in a week. Don’t sweat it. But put some time into it if you want – you’d be surprised what a difference even an hour of decluttering and cleaning can do!
  • Think how awesome this will be when you’re leveling and you’ve got everything to hand – No, “Aggh where is my authenticator?” or scribbling on the backs of receipts and things to jot down a note (not that I’ve done that…)

Sustenance

If, like me, you’d like to not weigh twenty pounds more by January, it behooves you to think about this. That’s why this list is going to focus on ideas for healthy meals and snacks to prepare. It’s both Cataclysm AND the holiday season. If you plan or at least think about this in advance, you’ll be thankful you did later.

You aren’t going to want to cook. No, really, you aren’t. You may still want to stop and cook, or you may not, or you may order pizza. Make it so that you don’t have to – pre-cook and freeze some meals! I’ve used this trick to help with exam times when I was still in school, or other busy life periods (not pregnancy, but I did help fill a friend’s freezer for when she was pregnant). Things that freeze well include:

  • Hearty meals like chili, spaghetti sauce, and stew (only if the stew doesn’t contain potatoes, as their texture is drastically altered by freezing)
  • Homemade soups
  • Pasta dishes, most rice dishes, most meat dishes
  • Things that don’t freeze well include: potatoes, eggs, anything that includes milk – they will tend to separate – Not very tasty.
  • If you’re not big into cooking, you could still secure some frozen meals from the grocery store. It’s more expensive to do it that way but definitely a viable option. I’ve had some “pasta dishes in a bag” that were reasonably low-fat and basically just get tossed into a frying pan and heated. They tasted fine! Also frozen fish and instant rice packages with frozen vegetables makes an easy and fast meal – it’s actually my meal of choice for raid nights when I don’t have much time. I tell Voss, “Well, there’s always Emergency Fish.”

In-between actual meals, you are still going to want to snack on things. I plan on having many easy things on hand – and when I say “easy things” I’m not talking bags of chips. Here are some of my snack ideas (I use these for raiding, too, but you bet they’ll apply to Cataclysm). I’ll be stocking my fridge and pantry with these!

  • Cherry tomatoes, baby carrots, snap peas, mushrooms, cucumber, sliced sweet peppers, broccoli florets
  • Low-sugar cereals
  • Small containers of yogurt
  • Cheese sticks or individually wrapped low-fat cheeses, with or without crackers
  • Small cans of flavoured tuna (preferably not packed in oil), these are awesome on crackers!
  • Low-fat pepperoni sticks, lunch meat
  • Apples, many apples – I usually eat one with a bit of peanut butter on it, they are also good sliced with cheese and eaten on toast
  • Nuts, nut mixes – I like roasted soy nuts and also these nuts I’ve been eating recently- Almonds with a bit of cayenne? Note, nuts are higher in fat, but it’s unsaturated (“good” fat) so long as you don’t overdo it
  • If you must have sweets, consider baking your own cookies or other treat. Homemade is usually much better for you than store bought.
  • Pitas/tortillas
  • Low-fat herbed cream cheese spread, hummus
  • The two items above are great with vegetables – you can toss some veg into a pita with hummus and you have a snack, or spread cream cheese on a tortilla, cover with lettuce and add low-fat meat and you have a wrap!
  • Low-sodium canned soups and other easy-to-prepare meals
  • Bread for sandwiches – you can even freeze a loaf or too if you’d like.
  • Canned beans – tomato based, I don’t like the really sweet kinds. I eat them on toast.
  • Baked tortillas and salsa make for another easy snack.

Of course this depends on your tastes and things you like to eat generally – you’ll notice I didn’t put “three bags of chips” on my list, or any pop/soda. I might have a few fruit juices, but generally I drink water and milk and that’s it. Even if you like to have these other drinks consider that you’re probably playing more than you usually do – things that are just “sometimes” might become more like “all the time” right after Cataclysm hits. Not loading your body with sugar and caffeine will help you play longer because you won’t crash after they wear off! You probably won’t feel like you’ve gone on a bender, either.

Emergency fish are for before. Not after.

All Good Things

Although I fully intend to play the heck out of Cataclysm when it hits (see: food and house preparation plans) I also know that it’s important to have a break from it. Rest your eyes, take your dog for a walk and peel yourself away from the screen for a minute. It’ll be there when you get back, I promise. In a few years it will be old news and we’ll be hoping for the next expansion, so why not savour it a bit? Moreover, if it starts to feel like a job and you aren’t having fun – turn it off. I know some folks have big plans to get server firsts, fair enough – planning these things will help and not hinder you! But once you’ve achieved a milestone, make sure to get some sleep. You’ll have fun and be rested for any holiday celebrations you’ve got planned later in the month.

Do you have any ideas for snacks or things I didn’t mention? How are you preparing yourself for Cataclysm?

Team Building Exercise ’99: Fostering A Sense of Teamwork For Tens

This is a post I’ve been working on off and on for the better part of a year – I’d always pick it up, poke at it a bit, and then set it back down. After a year of being in a dedicated ten man raiding guild, I feel finally qualified to post it. Especially with the changes to raid lockouts and item level in Cataclysm, I expect that the ten man scene is only going to grow and more people are going to be raiding in ten person groups! This expands on some of the philosophies we have that I think have set a solid foundation for our success in Wrath of the Lich King.

The opportunity to experience group play at the end-game of WoW is one of the strongest draws for many players. I believe this to be true, because otherwise – we’d be playing a game solo (and some people do!). We wouldn’t be trying to band together to kill internet dragons. There’s a particular rush that comes from being part of a group of people accomplishing something together. You can liken it to a sports team scoring that winning goal, or a group of professionals finally completing a project they’ve been working on. The truth may lie somewhere in the middle – we’re accomplishing things together, but we’re not physically together; in many cases we’ve never even met each other.

Many raiders who opt to focus exclusively on ten person content do so because they want an intimate atmosphere. When you have just nine other people counting on you, and you spend twelve or more hours with them every week – you get to know each other pretty well. You’re there for the high points and the low; you share that tough kill you finally pulled off and the Vent channel erupts in cheers, or the boss you can’t down and so people rally around the forums to talk strategy, and figure out a way to make it happen.

This is your team, and it’s an awesome feeling. When it’s going well, it’s amazing. Every guild has rockier parts, and those are tougher to deal with. But many issues that arise are best dealt with a long time before they even crop up, by making sure to nurture and tend to the team. If a team is solid and committed, they can shrug off difficulties easily. If there are already weak points – applying pressure will cause them to start to crack. So how can officers, raid leaders and guild leaders help their raid team to feel like a team?

I could pretend I chose this screenshot to be somehow metaphorical, but really I just think it's a cool screenshot. Also, do you see how straight a line we stand in? We're so DISCIPLINED.

1. Encourage Input.

I can’t stress this enough. When people feel like their ideas are not just heard, but listened to, they’ll know that they’re a valuable part of the group. This comes into play in several different ways.

  • A guild’s forums can be an excellent venue for contribution from all members. Keep in mind that not everyone has an equal amount of time to devote to these, so your mileage may vary. Some are heavily into strategies and might post all the time, others may prefer to hang back until they have something to say. It’s particularly important to listen up when someone who is usually quiet does say something. Try and encourage an atmosphere where people feel free to speak their minds, or at least contact an officer or raid leader privately.
  • Most raiders use some form of verbal contact during raids. This is where much of the ‘in-the-moment’ strategies occur, and it’s important to give people the opportunity to chime in. The freedom of a ten-man group is that there’s room for different folks to speak up. Within reason – it can be detrimental to have a flurry of voices always talking at the same time on the channel. Raid leaders and officers can help direct the flow a little bit by asking for clarification, or asking someone to repeat what they said if it was lost in the fray.
  • Don’t think this means you are obligated to always listen to every idea, or give everyone equal stage time – most people don’t want it. Again pay particular attention to contributions from those who don’t speak up often, listen when any member has an idea – and then make the final call. This only works if you are truly sincere and consider alternative ideas. Remember there’s a time and a place – it’s okay to say, “Let’s talk about this on the forums later,” rather than spending twenty minutes debating strats and eating up valuable raid time. This only works if you really will talk about it on the forums later!

2. Foster an environment where it’s okay to make mistakes.

In a ten-person raid, many times there isn’t much margin for error. When it comes to tough progression content, a single blunder could spell a wipe and mean everyone is corpse-running again. People are going to make mistakes, so try and foster an environment in which it’s okay to make them – at least once – and more importantly: people are encouraged to admit it.

  • This can be best accomplished leading by example. No one should ever be allowed to berate or belittle another raid member for making a mistake. Even if it was a dumb mistake, and even if they’ve done it before. Quickly and firmly call out anyone who does this, and let it be known that it isn’t acceptable behaviour, while shifting attention back to the task at hand.
    “Oh, come on, Squishy Healer, why can’t you get out of void zones fast enough?” can easily be met with,
    “Mistakes happen, Hunterly. Now, does everyone have their graphics settings high enough that they can easily see these void zones?”
  • Not making people feel like a heel for messing up will make the next step easier, and that is: when you make a mistake, be the first to admit it, don’t make excuses, and don’t shift blame. You aren’t saying, “I guess that was my fault, if only SO AND SO hadn’t dropped that shadow trap right underneath me.” Keep it simple and direct. “That was my mistake, guys. I was too slow to polymorph the person who was MCed. Sorry about that.” It never feels awesome to know that you wiped the raid, but it’s better than the ominous vent silence. Everyone usually knows who messed up anyway, trust me. They’ll respect you more, not less.
  • Soon, hopefully, a magical thing will happen. Everyone will own up to their own mistakes without hesitation! Rather than feeling like a group of individuals who has to defend their individual performance at all costs to protect and make themselves look best, hopefully everyone will be more forgiving of the mistakes of others, and unafraid to admit their own. It’s worth noting that sometimes mistakes might be more chronic and indicative of someone who just isn’t performing. If the same mistakes are happening over and over again, it’s another matter and should be dealt with privately.

"Look at this pretty totem here!... hey, you know, trolls aren't so bad! Maybe I should stay here in Zul'Gurub with them...This is a great idea!"

3. Make sure to relate outside of a raiding situation.

  • If you’re focused on ten-person raiding, chances are your guild will be small enough that the members will get to know each other pretty well. Help to make the guild a friendly place to be by chatting in the guild channel, asking people questions about themselves, and doing things with other members outside of raid times. I know this sounds hopelessly managerial – and I don’t mean “pretend to be friends with people.” It’s just that sometimes all of the tasks of an RL, officer, or GL can blind you to the reason you’re really here and why you are with these specific, awesome people.
  • The value of this is that when it’s raid time, when everyone knows the other people quite well they won’t feel that their only value to the guild is their DPS or healing numbers or how many hit-points they have. Stronger friendships make for stronger teams! This may not every one’s strong suit; some people are naturally more quiet than others. This leads directly into the fourth point, which can apply in both a high-stress raiding environment and otherwise.

4. Play to people’s strengths.

  • A team is only as strong as its weakest member, but weakest is subjective in this point. Learn to identify who excels at what in your group, let them contribute and then value their contributions. Does one person really enjoy fishing in their off-hours? Use their help to supply your raid with some consumables. Some people are natural leaders with tactical minds; these are the ones that you can lean on during raids, or talk strategy with in-between. Others may not have much to contribute tactically, but they can always pick others up when the mood starts to drop. Everyone has things that they are good at, and letting them show it will help keep everything rolling smoothly.
  • Raids would actually be pretty boring if everyone was focused on the same things. Some people can learn more quickly than others, especially when unique fight mechanics are involved. If your uber-DPS player is bored, give him or her a special task. Pull them off the boring, stand-alone boss and set them to add duty, or have them calling out timers if the fight requires it. Just because the raid has a raid leader doesn’t mean other people can’t be crucial to leading the group to success.
  • People will always excel at the role they most want to play. It sounds like a no-brainer, right? Don’t force your healers to DPS if they don’t want to – and if you have to do so, make sure it’s a responsibility shared among all the healers equally. If one person is constantly having to step outside their comfort zone while the others get off scot-free, they’re liable to grow resentful (and who could blame them)?

5. Help your team grow its skills.

  • Nobody is perfect, and no team is ever perfect. You may have excellent players individually, but they may not do things as well together. This last point is broad for a reason – it could apply to so many things. I remember when we first started working on the heroic Lich King encounter – all of the ranged DPS and healers had to clump up as part of the phase one strategy. At first it was tough; we weren’t used to paying such close attention to where the other team members were. By the time we’d practiced it, we were like one living organism strafing to the right and left together. It was fabulous.
  • “Skills” in this sense doesn’t have to mean raiding skills. Running five-mans together, PvPing together – all of these hone the reflexes and group communication necessary for good raiding. Even playing a character I had no idea how to play, I’ve never felt so indestructible in PvP as I did when I was doing it with my guildies and we had instant Vent communication. PvP is good practice for movement, situational awareness, and quick communication. You don’t have to PvP to be a good raider, but anywhere you’re working with your guild is going to benefit you all in the long run.

"Tirion, why are you gigantic? And what are all these fish feasts doing here?"

Finally, but not unimportantly:

6. Stay positive no matter what.

  • I’m not writing this from the perspective of Ms. Perfect, believe me! Some of this I’ve observed from my own mistakes, and I don’t always do all of these things or remember them as often as I should. But the last (and possibly the most important thing) is to remember that if you are in a position of leadership in a guild, people look to you to set the tone.Your attitude can impact success more than you ever suspect, not necessarily because of things you say but things that you don’t say – or the way that you say them.
  • Look for solutions, remember that things aren’t up to you alone – you have built a team of great people for a reason. Don’t be afraid to seek solutions from them if you are stumped. Keeping in contact with how your guildies feel can help you know where to focus your energies and avert any problems before they begin.

Incidentally, I wrote this based on a ten-person environment because that’s what I know, but many of the same principles could apply equally to a larger group. If you feel moved to write something similar or more expansive for a twenty-five man team, or you have anything you’d like to add – feel free to contribute in the comments or send me a link!

I hope this is even remotely useful to read. Raiding with Business Time has been such a rewarding and humbling experience for me – I know that we owe all of our success to each and every guild-member. I’m just the one who likes to talk too much.

p.s. – Yes, it’s a Flight of the Conchords joke, and I’m not ashamed.

Guide to Getting Withers

It sounds like some kind of crippling disease, doesn’t it? But it isn’t. The first place I went after the world shattered was Darkshore. I’d quested through here so many times on my various draenei and night elves. The changes the Cataclysm has wrought are devastating. Once I found out there was a pet associated with a quest in the zone, well – my path was clear. I had to have it. His name is Withers, and he’s similar to the Teldrassil Sproutling with a few key differences. Here’s how you can get one of your own, whether you are Horde or Alliance.

D'aww.

Horde

For Horde characters, Withers is actually a vendored pet. You can buy him from Apothecary Furrows. He’s located in the cave behind Cliffspring Falls (you can see it on the map). He’s down at the bottom of the cave in his own little room. Be aware that to Alliance he is hostile so he may have been killed recently if you don’t see him but you see apothecary stuff. Wait for him to respawn, he should be back.

This is the entrance to the cave. If you are uncertain how to get up here, look for the torches that line the path at the bottom.

Alliance

For those of us who are Alliance, it’s a little more complicated. Withers is awarded from completing the quest “Remembrance of Auberdine,” but you can’t unlock that quest until you do many, many more. I made a map that outlines generally what I did. Keep in mind that it’s hard to tell exactly what was required. I suspect that the quests to the far south (marked on the map) were not required, but they are awesome quests and I recommend you do them regardless! If anyone does this and tries to proceed without first doing those quests at Eye of the Maelstrom, please let me know if you were able to get Withers regardless. *Edit: I had a helpful reader let me know – the quests at the Eye of the Vortex are definitely not required to open the Remembrance of Auberdine quest, so you can skip them over if your only goal is to get Withers.

Quest hubs are marked in blue.

You will begin by questing in Lor’danel. When I wrote this last night this wasn’t there, but a helpful person on Wowhead has listed precisely all of the required quests here. You can refer to that list as you proceed, or just take a more casual approach as you go!

Lor’danel is where the flight point from Darnassus goes now, so it’s easy enough to get here. Some of the quests don’t seem immediately related, but are. There’s a worgen who has a fishing quest that used to be offered by a dwarf – I doubt it’s necessary to get Withers, but if you do it you do get 250 Gilneas rep. Do the rescuing and provisions quests and continue on to the Buzzbox quests. Unlike the previous Buzzbox quests, they don’t take forever and lead you all over the map. This chain will have you wind up in the same cave that the Horde access just to buy Withers.

Another breadcrumb quest will lead you down to the Ruins of Auberdine and outside the ruins to do some quests relating to Grimclaw. Continue doing all of these quests (do the Auberdine ones while you are nearby) before completing them and heading back to Lor’danel. A hint: if you complete the Grimclaw quest chain first it will end up helping you throughout the rest of Darkshore. I don’t want to give away any spoilers except to say that I chose the stag – and it gives a 10% speed boost in the entire zone. Not “for an hour,” or “while you’re on this quest chain” – it gives you a speed boost anytime you are in Darkshore from then on. It was useful for the rest of my questing!

I don’t want to give away any more of the happenings in Darkshore. These quests are amazing, in some cases heart-wrenching and definitely hit home for me given how much I liked Darkshore. Don’t just rush through to get Withers, take your time and enjoy them. Ultimately your efforts to aid the citizens of Darkshore and uncover some mysteries will lead you to the Ruins of Mathystra where you will be challenging the Shatterspear trolls. When you’re at this point you’re near the end! Continue along with these quests and once you are finished with them, Cerrellean Whiteclaw will have the Remembrance of Auberdine quest for you, and one of the rewards is Withers.

I’ll probably be going through these quests again with my druid and hope to add some clarification about which quests are mandatory and which are not – but until then, this gives a rough guide of what’s necessary to get the little guy. Feel free to ask any questions and I’ll answer them as best I can!

His name is Withers because he starts out HUGE – up to my hips as a draenei – and he will slowly shrink to “normal” non-combat pet size if he is away from water. Re summoning him returns him to his original large size, and if you take him near any body of water he will drink it and grow. More importantly than any of that, though, is that he’s a reminder of Auberdine for me. Every time I look at his sad little face, I’ll remember the Kaldorei of Auberdine and Lor’danel, trying to maintain an outpost in their dark and foreboding ancestral land.

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