A new year is upon us, my wizardly cohorts. It is a time for reflection, a refractory period when we bask in the afterglow of the year that was and then take a quick shower to rinse off the stink of it. But most importantly, it's a time to look forward, to set new goals, to examine ourselves and determine how best to progress, to improve, and to somehow avoid ending the world in a fiery apocalypse that only John Cusack can save us from.
In that spirit, I thought this eve of the new year might be a good time to take an honest look at the mage class, examine our weak points, and conjure up some ways to shore them up in 2012. I figure we still have a at least a few months before Armageddon, and I can think of no better way to spend those last few moments of our existence than by killing as many warlocks as possible.
I'll do a full column on gearing up in 4.3 in the coming weeks, but for the time being, suffice it to say there is some phat, epic mage loot out there right now, and all you need to do is take it. Preferably from a warlock's smoking corpse, but we'll take it however it comes. We're at the point now in this expansion where the epics are flowing with almost ridiculous ease. If you've been waiting to level a mage, it has never been easier to get that mage fully kitted out in purples than it is right now. And if, for some reason, you've been neglecting your mage, now is the time to get him up to speed.
I resolve to upgrade my gear. Begin by running random heroics until your brain begins to bleed, then move on to the new 4.3 5-mans, where not only will you be soaking up the valor points like a magical sponge, you'll also be picking up Raid-Finder-worthy purples as drops from the bosses. Once your average item level is satisfactory, you might as well begin hitting the actual Raid Finder in between bouts of old-fashioned raiding with your guild. Deathwing is a massive, flying pinata filled with loot, and we've all been invited to take a swing at him at the world's most epic Quinceanera. Don't be a party pooper, guys. Smack him until he explodes.
I resolve to stop pissing off the tank. Thanks to the recent and sweeping changes to threat generation, there simply aren't as many ways left for us to make the tank ragequit. Still, there will always be ways in which the mage will piss off the tank. So in no particular order, here is a selection of the things that we need to resolve to stop doing, immediately, as in right this moment, preferably prior to the next pull:
- No pulling unless the tank specifically tells you to do so. I don't care how much you think a sheep pull will help in this particular situation -- if the tank isn't on board, it totally won't help.
- For the love of god, don't target something the tank doesn't have aggro on, again, unless you've specifically been tasked with kiting or otherwise controlling that target. And don't continue to target that something if you happen to pull the wrong mob by mistake. Switch back to the right target, run toward the tank, and give him a chance to regain aggro on your new friend.
- Don't get the healer killed by inadvertently siccing a mob on him. That means not pulling the wrong mob, then Frost Novaing that mob to the spot directly adjacent to where the healer happens to be standing. And no Ice Blocking to avoid death when the healer is the next closest party member and next up on the threat list. If you're going to die, please don't drag the healer down with you.
- Learn the fights. This means reading up on them before you ever set foot into the raid. Know what's expected of you, what your role is, and what the boss is going to try to do to you in each fight you plan to be a part of, so you never have to be the guy saying "never done this before guys, sorry about that," after causing a horrific, embarrassing wipe.
- Figure out when to move and where, and then do it. The ins and outs of movement might be the single most important determination of success and failure in the current raiding environment. Learn the safe spots, the movement phases, and adhere to them above all else. How many mages have perished because they had to finish casting that one last Arcane Blast? Too many, my friends. Too many.
- Remove Curses. You have the power. Use it. The healer will appreciate your efforts, even if your DPS suffers a bit.
Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not talking about obsessing over our position on the final Recount rankings. I'm talking about always doing our level best to provide the service we were born to render: superb and consistent DPS. Research your craft. Tweak your spec. Perfect your rotation. Bring the right consumables. Know how to maximize your damage within the constraints of each fight's specific mechanics. And if you see another mage in similar gear who's doing a better job than you, ask him for advice.
It should always be our top priority to hone our DPS to the point where we feel like we're holding up our end of the damage-dealing bargain. Strive to be the best mage you can be.
I resolve to kill more warlocks. This is the reason for the season. Every time a warlock dies, a non-denominational angel gets his or her wings. And then that angel flies down and stabs another warlock in the face. And then we all discover the true meaning of winter. Merry Happy, everyone!
There are plenty of other resolutions we could make, mages. I, for example, resolve to write a mage column every single week instead of three out of every four like I seem to be averaging lately. What kinds of resolutions can you guys come up with?
Every week, Arcane Brilliance teleports you inside the wonderful world of mages and then hurls a Fireball in your face. Start out with our recent beginner's guide to being a mage, then check out our three-part State of the Mage columns on arcane, fire and frost. Don't forget to look at some of the addons your mage should probably be using.