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Filed under: Alts

Arcane Brilliance: Gearing up after the glorious patch 3.3


It's time again for Arcane Brilliance, the weekly mage column that loves nothing more than to gaze down upon the whole of Northrend from one of the floating chunks of stone around Dalaran and realize that at some point, a mage has probably killed every living thing down there. At least the targetable ones, anyway. And the ones you can't target? I'm sure more than one mage has certainly tried.

So I'm officially nominating patch 3.3 for "best patch ever" status. Here's a short list of the highlights of this patch:
  • Three highly challenging, fun, lore-filled 5-man instances, full of sweet loot
  • A massive new raid, with four gated sections, 12 bosses, and the promise of eventually being able to shove a Fireball up the Lich King's tailpipe
  • The incredible, game-changing Dungeon Finder Tool, which is responsible for peace in the Middle East, has brought an end to the recession, and has cured cancer
  • A few choice mage buffs, including a PvE viable Frost spec
  • Quest Tracking without the need for an addon
  • Quel'delar and Shadowmourne
  • A swiftly approaching new Arena Season
  • Weekly raid quests
  • The Kalu'ak Fishing Derby
  • Perky the Pug
  • A host of little changes for low level characters
  • Rocket bare
Not shabby, right? And best of all, Blizzard has managed to deploy the majority of this new content without also deploying a host of bugs, glitches, and instability, or otherwise making the game unplayable for awhile as we've come to expect from patches this large. There were some log-in issues and bugginess on day one, but by day two, everything was running relatively smoothly by day two. I'm being relatively conservative when I say that Blizzard, in my personal opinion, has hit this one out of the park.

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Filed under: Mage, Patches, Items, Analysis / Opinion, Tips, How-tos, Instances, Features, Guides, Classes, Alts, (Mage) Arcane Brilliance

Blood Pact: leveling a warlock, 10 to 40

Blood Pact is your weekly warlock digest brought to you by Dominic Hobbs. "Haha! You're doing very well for yourself, young warlock. Given time, infernals and dreadlords will bow before you! But until that time comes, you must still rely on weapons forged by the hands of the mortal races." ~ Kaal Soulreaper

So, you want to level a warlock, huh? Well, I'm not going to tell you how to do it. No sir! If you've come here thinking that Blood Pact is going to give you a step-by-step plan of what you should do to get your warlock from level 10 to 40 -- some kind of list of quests, zones, instances and mobs -- then you're deluded mister; we don't do that here. What you need is a generic leveling guide of the sort you can find all over the internet. Seriously, don't pay for one though; you can get plenty of decent guides for free. Personally I use Tour Guide and Carbonite. They work really well together and make the whole process much faster. There are other tools, but I know these are good.

What Blood Pact is going to do is talk about what warlocks going through these levels are all about. It's not going to be hugely detailed at any one level because, frankly, you won't be at any level for long. We'll look at the new spells you will gain and how you can apply them, we'll have a gander at these talent things you can now play with, and we'll talk about the gear you will be wearing and wielding on the way. So send the imp off to make a fresh brew and settle in for some lock leveling.

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Filed under: Warlock, Analysis / Opinion, Tips, How-tos, Quests, Guides, Alts, (Warlock) Blood Pact

Arcane Brilliance: Mage leveling guide, the thrilling conclusion


It's time again for Arcane Brilliance, the weekly mage column that wishes each and every one of you a magical holiday season. Arcane Brilliance would also like to point out that it is writing this immediately following three days spent alternating between being in the company of in-laws who like to discuss politics and on the road for 12 combined hours with a five-year-old and a two-year-old possessed of mind-bogglingly small bladders. Arcane Brilliance cannot be held responsible for any grammatical errors or disturbingly homicidal thoughts you might find herein.


So how was your Thanksgiving? And if you don't live in the United States, how was your Thursday? Ready to get down to business? We've got a leveling guide to finish!

What's that, you say? Finish what? You've been otherwise engaged for the past couple of months and have no idea what I'm talking about? Fear not! On the interwebs, you can find anything. Here, for your convenience, is the complete compendium of Arcane Brilliance's mage leveling wisdom, such as it is:
Part 1: getting started
Part 2: 1-10
Part 3: 11-20
Part 4: 21-30
Part 5: 31-40
Part 6: 41-Outland
Part 7: 59-68
Part 8: keep reading, because this is part 8.
Part 9: completely revised Cataclysm mage leveling guide I'll probably be writing in six months or so...TBA
Part 10: (after the great zombie apocalypse of 2011) Brrraaaaaaiiinnnnssssss.....
Join me after the break as we head for Northrend and level 80.

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Filed under: Mage, Analysis / Opinion, Tips, Quests, Features, Leveling, Guides, Classes, Alts, (Mage) Arcane Brilliance

WoW Rookie: Recruit-a-Friend

New around here? WoW Rookie points WoW's newest players to the basics of a good start in the World of Warcraft. Visit WoW.com's WoW Rookie Guide for links to all our tips, tricks and how-to's.

Your evil plan has come to fruition: your significant other, best buddy, school pal or co-worker has finally confessed an interest in playing World of Warcraft. Send your buddy a Recruit-A-Friend invitation, and let the bodies hit the floor. You're about to cut a mean swath through Azeroth while enjoying some sweet side benefits:
  • 300% XP bonus for both you and your recruit (when grouped)
  • 10% reputation bonus for you and your recruit
  • The ability to summon one another to each other's locations across the world
  • 30 levels of "free" XP from your recruit, granted to any of your lower-level veteran characters
  • A free month of game time for every recruit who upgrades to a retail account
  • The ever-so-sweet, exclusive Zhevra mount for one of your characters, once your recruit pays for 60 days' worth of game time

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Filed under: Tips, Features, Leveling, WoW Rookie, Alts

Totem Talk: Leveling on the 68-80 express


Totem Talk, the column for shamans, finishes up its roundup/overview/update (it's all these things and more!) of shaman leveling with a look at what you'll be doing once you get off the boat to Northrend. Matthew Rossi is tired now, but would like to thank Steve again for the screenshot accompanying today's article.

And so we arrive at Northrend, able to take the quests and explore the new zones. We've talked about faction rewards and instance gearing for shamans in Northrend before, and for the most part that still holds true. Here's a look back at the posts about the various five man instances and zone rewards:
The only real changes in terms of 5 man instances are the introduction of Trial of the Champion and Heroic TotC, and to my astonishment I've never done a gear list for shamans from TotC. That really is kind of astonishing. It's possible I simply lost track since I was in the middle of a vast discussion of Ulduar gear when TotC was on the horizon, but it's still a pretty big oversight. With another set of new five mans dropping alongside the Icecrown raid in patch 3.3, TotC/Heroic TotC 5 are instances any new 80 should be running to get geared up in anticipation of 3.3. So we'll talk about that gear today.

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Filed under: Shaman, Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Instances, The Burning Crusade, Leveling, Guides, Classes, Alts, (Shaman) Totem Talk, Wrath of the Lich King

Totem Talk: From Scarlet Monastery to Outland

This week on Totem Talk we're going to continue the leveling with coverage of going from level 41 (so actually a little beyond SM, but "Razorfen Downs to Outland" or "Uldaman to Outland" didn't really have the same zing) to level 68, which is the level at which you can board the boat to Northrend. Some basic things to consider before getting to the meat of things.
  • It is this writer's opinion that these are the levels that really define your spec and role. It's in the 40's that you can actually have enough talents and have trained enough skills that the real potential of each spec comes through: your elemental shaman actually feels and plays significantly differently than your dual wielding enhancement shaman, and while both can still heal, resto really starts pulling ahead here.
  • Shamans were originally designed as 'offensive hybrids' to balance out the paladin's 'defensive hybrid' nature. Since shamans and paladins are no longer designed in opposition those roles have blurred somewhat, but elements of the original intent still show through. Keep in mind that two of the three shaman trees are DPS oriented, and at these levels the fact that one is a ranged DPS while the other is melee will not seem as distinctive as those roles become in raiding/instancing.
  • Gear will start to drop in Outland that is more optimal for individual shaman specs. Before then, mail with spell power and/or MP5 is still somewhat rare on the ground in Azeroth outside of the various instance blues that drop. You're just going to have to work around it, annoying as it is.
  • Shamans are pretty bloody flexible. I have a friend (Hi Will) who has leveled an orc shaman to 80 as resto, and is working on an alliance shaman as well. Again as resto. And he kills things just fine. It's slower, yes, but it can work, so if you have a spec you really like don't despair of leveling with it as a shaman.
Okay, now to talk about what you'll be doing for 28 levels.

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Filed under: Shaman, Analysis / Opinion, How-tos, Odds and ends, Instances, Leveling, Guides, Alts, (Shaman) Totem Talk, Battlegrounds

Encrypted Text: Leveling a rogue, level 1-10


Every Wednesday, Chase Christian of Encrypted Text invites you to enter the world of shadows, as we explore the secrets and mechanics of the rogue class. This week, we talk about leveling a rogue from level 1 to level 10.

So, after reading the list of pros and cons, you've committed to starting your new rogue. This is a proud day for the brotherhood of assassins, as we welcome a new member into our fold. You will learn to embrace the shadows and your adrenaline will spike after your first kill. You will learn to hide your tracks and strike fear into your enemies.

Before you're ready to slay dragons and assassinate high-profile targets, you've got a lot of learning to do. Rogues can be a complex class, with our nearly limitless bag of tricks and a playstyle that is uniquely our own. You must learn how to use your techniques effectively, and how to maximize your damage output while staying alive. The journey from a young rogue to a powerful assassin begins today.

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Filed under: Rogue, Leveling, Alts, (Rogue) Encrypted Text

Breakfast Topic: Once more through the breach

You hear a lot of complaining about leveling up new alts. Having to see the same content again. And I've even said so myself from time to time and meant it. But recently, I dusted off my JC alt and decided to make a push to 80 with him, in part to have a toon to cut all these epic stam gems I need for my tank set now that I'm prot/arms... and also because, griping be damned, I missed fury. (Yeah, yeah, no one's surprised I caved and went back to Titan's Grip, not even me.)

Yes, that's right. My JC alt was a level 70 warrior. And now, he's a level 76 warrior. And I'm having a blast seeing all the stuff I've already seen four or five times now (depending on if you count my Horde alts and taking into account that they have different quests to some degree) on a class I've already leveled to 80 twice. (I also leveled my draenei warrior to 76 before abandoning him.) To be honest, part of it is the fun of trying out a fury spec designed entirely around as much self healing as possible with the Glyph of Bloodthirst and Blood Craze, and part of it is just that I missed these particular questlines.

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Filed under: Paladin, Shaman, Warrior, Analysis / Opinion, Breakfast Topics, Leveling, Alts, Death Knight, Wrath of the Lich King

Hallow's End 2009 first impressions


It's Hallow's End and the Headless Horseman is back. As soon as my wife saw that our server had clicked over to 1 AM, she had me in my tanking finery and a group assembled lickety split for purposes of killing him and trying to get her a mount. A group of five stalwarts (warrior tank, mage, hunter and DK DPS, disc priest healing) fought our way through the trash mobs and soon had the area around the altar clear and ready for summons.

The fight mechanics this year are absolutely unchanged. The gear itself is updated for level 80, and is about the same quality as Naxx-10, heroic epics or non heroic Trial of the Champion. There's a physical DPS ring, a caster DPS ring, and a healing ring that I saw drop as well as a plate DPS helm and a one handed sword that we didn't see once even though we ended up rotating enough alts through to kill him nine times. The Horseman himself doesn't seem to hit very hard at all (I easily healed the fight on my shaman even when the druid tank disconnected) but having your healer get Conflagrate for a group in lesser gear might be pretty nasty.

All in all, it was a fun way to try and get a pony. Sadly, no pony dropped for us, but I know I'll be back for at least five tries a day until the end of the holiday.



Filed under: Items, Analysis / Opinion, Events, Odds and ends, News items, Instances, Alts, Achievements

All the World's a Stage: So you want to raise up the shadows of doom


Today, All the World's a Stage concludes a series on "how to be evil," bringing the bad guy back into your fantasy roleplaying, complete with ideas, methods, warnings, and practical examples. Be sure to check out steps 1-3, steps 4-6, and steps 7 and 8 on the path to evil!

Your friends keep telling you, "you can't play Arthas, man! Nobody's going to believe that your little human death knight is actually the Lich King in disguise. Get real!" But your idea just won't go away. You admit that creating a human death knight named "Ahrrthyss" might not be the best way to go about it, but you're in this guild which is devoted to fighting the Scourge, and you want Arthas to be a part of your story, not just an NPC who shows up in some quests and at the end of a raid.

We've already discussed a number of ways to be a villain in WoW – so you look at them to see if you can get one of them to work for you: The most obvious is to just start a new character and designate it to be one of your guild's antagonists, but the problem here is that making Arthas as an actual player character is way too Mary Sue. Such a tactic usually only works for very subtle villains (more like flawed heroes really), or for short-term possession, and your guild has done 3 "possessed by the Lich King's power" type stories already. You need something new! Another choice is to create a disposable villain, perhaps, some agent of the Lich King, which could be interesting, but still doesn't put you in touch with Arthas himself.

But there is another way, which many people have not thought of: to put the villain entirely in the shadows of the background, let him never actually be seen, but let his effects be felt based on what happens to the heroes. Arthas can indeed play a huge role in your story, without ever having to appear in person. It has been done to great effect before, even in novels. Sauron, anyone?

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Filed under: How-tos, Lore, Bosses, RP, Alts, All the World's a Stage (Roleplaying)

Arcane Brilliance: Mage leveling guide, 11-20

Welcome to another installment of Arcane Brilliance, the weekly mage column that dares to ask the question: how much mage is too much? Then Arcane Brilliance slaps itself in the face, because that's a stupid question. You can never have too much mage.

So, your mage is leveling nicely. You've wandered out of the starting area and into the wider zone beyond, done a bunch of quests, learned a rudimentary spell rotation (Frostbolt-->Fireball-->Fireball-->Fireball-->Conjure Water-->Drink) and now you've gone and hit level 10. This is a milestone for a number of reasons:
  1. The mage staff quest we talked about two weeks ago.
  2. You can now begin doing PvP in an actual battleground against players in your level bracket (as opposed to doing PvP against bored 12-year-olds who think it's fun to run around the starting areas with their level 80 death knights ganking lowbies).
  3. Your first talent point!
Let's discuss the second two of these three things before we move forward.

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Filed under: Mage, Analysis / Opinion, Tips, PvP, Quests, Features, Leveling, Guides, Classes, Talents, Alts, (Mage) Arcane Brilliance, Battlegrounds

All the World's a Stage: So you want to be a disposable villain

Today, All the World's a Stage continues with steps 7 and 8 of a series on "how to be evil: bringing the bad guy back into your fantasy roleplaying," complete with ideas, methods, warnings, and practical examples. Be sure not to miss steps 1-3 and steps 4-6 on the path to evil!

So, you want to be evil? It's not as easy as it seems. Perhaps you've watched a lot of movies or TV shows in which the bad guy has amazing powers, threatens human civilization, and nearly destroys the universe in his quest for domination. Perhaps you were playing Warcraft and saw characters like Arthas and Archimonde wrecking things up pretty bad and said to yourself, "I wanna be just like them when I grow up!" You open up your copy of World of Warcraft and find that you can't play a Lich King or Eredar Overlord, so you just click on the "forsaken" or "draenei" options as the next best things available. "Yup! I'm all ready to go!" you say to yourself. Everyone is just gonna love my idea about being an immortal demigod out to destroy the universe!

But it turns out no one believes you're actually the Lich Prince instead of just another forsaken dude. And people just roll their eyes whenever you reveal your draenei's secret eredar affiliation. A lot of people want to play a raid boss, but the fact remains, you're just not. You're a generic adventurer like everyone else. That doesn't mean you can't be bad... it just means can't be 20 feet tall and out whole cities with a flick of your hand. Once you start thinking practically, about doing something with what you've actually got, then you can start getting somewhere.

One of the most practical tools you can have for playing a bad guy is the disposable low-level character. Keeping your villain at a low level means you don't need to hesitate when he's been defeated, you can roleplay his glorious death and delete him. Your friends save the day -- you save a lot of leveling time. How is it done? Read on.

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Filed under: Virtual selves, Lore, RP, Alts, All the World's a Stage (Roleplaying)

Arcane Brilliance: Mage leveling guide: 1-10

Welcome to another installment of Arcane Brilliance, the weekly mage column that thinks nothing goes better with strudel than a warm ball of fire.

Ok, so last week, we all clicked the "Create Character" button and selected a mage. We picked a race for that mage, gave him or her facial features, a skin tone, a hairstyle, possibly even a lower jaw, and chose a non-stupid name for our fledgling master of the arcane arts. This week, we're backing our new mage out of the garage and taking him for a spin. Interesting fact: mages actually appreciate in value the more mileage you put on them!

The first few levels can be a trying time for a new mage. A couple things you'll notice:
  1. You're wearing a skirt and wielding a stick.
  2. You're a huge wuss.
This can be quite vexing, especially if you're used to another class, possibly one that wears actual armor into battle, doesn't get a nosebleed from standing up too quickly, and isn't the dungeon master for the chess club's Dragonlance campaign. Well get used to it. You may have been on the football team before, sacking the quarterback and dating the head cheerleader, but that was before, when you were a paladin or a warrior or whatever. Now you're Bill Haverchuck. Intelligent and frail, mages are the geeks of the World of Warcraft. We might as well embrace it. We're the nerds, warriors are the jocks, and warlocks are the emo kids. The good news? Someday, they'll all be pumping our gas. At least that's what my guidance counselor always told me. Someday means soon, right?

Anyway, the fact remains that mages are wimps at low levels. Rest easy, though. It gets better.

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Filed under: Mage, Analysis / Opinion, Features, Leveling, Guides, Classes, Alts, (Mage) Arcane Brilliance

Arcane Brilliance: Mage leveling guide: getting started


Welcome to another edition of Arcane Brilliance, the weekly Mage column that believes leveling a Mage is a noble endeavor, worthy of praise, tax breaks, and probably some kind of discount at Denny's. Arcane Brilliance also believes leveling a Warlock means you're going to Hell.

So, you may think I'm doing things backwards. You're right. I totally am. I spent the last two weeks blathering on about gearing up for raiding. This week, we're talking about the first twenty levels of the game. It makes no sense. Feel free to mock me in the comments. I'm freely admitting I'm a sad, confused individual, with little to no sense of journalistic etiquette. Also, bite me.

In any event, the last round of Mage leveling guides are growing decidedly long in the tooth, having been written sometime around the same time as the Carter administration. Back then, Mages were still the "Kings of AoE," 2v2 was still a viable Arena configuration, and crowd control was still something Mages were expected to actually do in instances. Remember all that? Me either. It's a whole new World of Warcraft out there these days, but it's the only World of Warcraft we've got. Let's get out there and nuke the living crap out of it, shall we?

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Filed under: Mage, Analysis / Opinion, Tips, Features, Leveling, Guides, Classes, Alts, (Mage) Arcane Brilliance

WoW Rookie: Heirlooms ease the way for alts


New around here? WoW Rookie points WoW's newest players to the basics of a good start in the World of Warcraft. Send us a note to suggest a WoW Rookie topic, and be sure to visit the WoW.com WoW Rookie Guide for links to all our tips, tricks and how-to's.

While most of us want to bite into the big leagues as soon as we ding 80, some players are more interested in trying out another class or the other faction. As soon as they reach the top, they dip back down to the bottom again. Making the road to 80 quicker and easier the second (and each subsequent) time around are heirloom items.

First introduced in Patch 3.0.2, heirloom items are "big brother" helper items designed to be purchased by level 80 characters and passed along to younger characters on the same account, realm and faction. Heirlooms were specifically created to help your alts level up. Their stats get better and better as your character levels, and the shoulders and chest armor even provide an XP bonus. Such a deal!

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Filed under: Items, Tips, How-tos, Features, Guides, WoW Rookie, Alts

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