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Arcane Brilliance: Putting the brilliance back in arcane

A draenei mage wearing a purple robe floats in midair above the city of Dalaran
Every other week, WoW Insider brings you Arcane Brilliance for arcane, fire and frost mages. Stacey Landry is the resident mage here, bender of space and time, conjurer of delicious confectioneries and expert at dressing well while setting things on fire.

I haven't forgotten the arcane among us. When it comes to flavor, arcane mages have it in spades. All of the now definitive mage abilities - Alter Time, Time Warp, Arcane Explosion - these all stem from the power of the arcane. These mages are not elementalists, but delvers into the arcane secrets, the essence of magic itself. Arcane mages embody everything you think of when you think "wizard," mysterious and powerful, and with sparkly spell effects.

I've played arcane over the years at various times, usually when it was too good to ignore as a top-performing spec. Mists introduced some major changes to arcane, even from patch to patch. The charges of Arcane Power went from six to four. The cooldown on Rune of Power was removed. The range of Rune of Power's effect was increased. Scorch went baseline for fire - not a bad result for fire, but tough if you were an arcane mage. Ice Floes is not a panacea when it comes to movement and casting, though the cool down and charges on it were also adjusted for the better.

To be completely clear: Arcane mages aren't having a hard time in terms of damage output. Currently arcane is very high performing. If you look at some of the numbers from various sources, arcane is not just high, it's the highest. That hasn't necessarily made it popular, though, for a number of reasons. Arcane is facing a few challenges.

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Filed under: Mage, (Mage) Arcane Brilliance

Arcane Brilliance: State of the mage in 5.4

Arcane Brilliance State of the mage in 54 Fri 2709
Every other week, WoW Insider brings you Arcane Brilliance for arcane, fire and frost mages. This week, the torch is passed to a new mage who fully intends to light as many things on fire with it as possible.

Almost a year ago when the esteemed Christian Belt had to stop writing Arcane Brilliance, first I was sad. Then I said to my husband, "Wow, I don't envy the person that has to fill THOSE shoes." The irony of writing that here is not lost on me! But it would be wrong not to acknowledge that my predecessor, Archmage Pants, was a great mage and I used to look forward to reading what he had to say.

I've been in the business of using magic to rearrange enemy faces since 2008. I started playing WoW by rolling a priest, and somewhere around level 30 our small leveling group realized that two holy priests, two protection warriors and a protection paladin wasn't really a good composition. I rerolled as a mage and never looked back. It was love at first fireball.

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Filed under: Mage, (Mage) Arcane Brilliance

Arcane Brilliance: Patch 5.1 preview for mages

Ice Barrier
Every week, WoW Insider brings you Arcane Brilliance for arcane, fire and frost mages. This week we realize there's a significant patch coming out any minute now and we haven't even mentioned it yet. Seriously, didn't we just get a whole expansion like yesterday? I'm still trying to figure out what a Shado-Pan is. I hope it's something I can use to make pancakes.

So the build of patch 5.1 that's currently up on the PTR is tagged as a release candidate, which means that the patch could legitimately drop any week now. It's time we discuss it.

We're getting new factions, which thank God, because I keep saying to myself "Self? I sure wish we had more daily quests to do," which my self responds to by punching me in the damn mouth. We're getting a fight club Brawler's Guild to distract us from all those dailies. They're bringing back Wintergrasp and Tol'Barad! We can solo all the old raids without being in a raid group! And of course, we're getting the requisite bunch of tweaks and fixes and quality of life improvements that always come with a patch like this.

But as always, I'm more focused on the changes that specifically affect mages. And while there's nothing here that will make or break the class, there are some class changes in 5.1 that will have a definite impact on the mage class as we delve further into Pandaria.

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Filed under: Mage, Analysis / Opinion, (Mage) Arcane Brilliance, Mists of Pandaria

Arcane Brilliance: Mage gear-up ultraguide, raiding edition

Headmaster's Will
Every week, WoW Insider brings you Arcane Brilliance for arcane, fire and frost mages. This week, we continue our epic journey through a giant list of equipment, interspersed with brief blocks of text. It'll be quite the trip, so don your robes and take up your staff, and join me in search of slightly better robes and staves.

Part one of this mage gear uber-compendium can be found at this location. It contains everything your mage should be looking for prior to raiding levels, or everything from item level 435 to 463. This week we hit the raid finder and then continue fearlessly forward, all the way to Heart of Fear and the current best-in-slot items for the class.

As with the last installment, the purpose of this list is to provide you with an easy reference guide when you're in the market for an upgrade. Just scroll down to the slot in question and identify the upgrade you want and the source for that upgrade. It's fun and educational!

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Filed under: Mage, Analysis / Opinion, (Mage) Arcane Brilliance, Mists of Pandaria

Arcane Brilliance: Mage gear-up ultraguide, pre-raid edition

Liuyang's Lovely Longstaff
Every week, WoW Insider brings you Arcane Brilliance for arcane, fire and frost mages. This week, we have a singular focus: shiny, shiny loot. And the warlocks we will kill with it.

I took some understandable flak last week when my "what to do at level 90" column contained a dearth of specifics. Well, fear not! This week's installment is all specifics, all the time. In fact, this column and the one to follow are going to be filled with so much specific, easily quantifiable information that your brains, trained by months of political campaign speeches to accept vague platitudes as factual policy, may not be able to process it.

My aim over the next two weeks is to provide you with a compendium of all the currently available mage gear from the heroic threshold of item-level 435 on up to best in slot. No matter where your mage is along the gear-grubbing spectrum, you should be able to look at these lists, identify an upgrade, and know where said upgrade is obtained.

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Filed under: Mage, Analysis / Opinion, (Mage) Arcane Brilliance, Mists of Pandaria

Arcane Brilliance: What to do with your level 90 mage

The Klaxxi
Every week, WoW Insider brings you Arcane Brilliance for arcane, fire and frost mages. This week, we've hit level 90. We've stood up, stretched, rubbed the mucus out of our eyes, apologized to our wives, kids, pets, plants, and anyone else we have been neglecting, and gone outside to remember what outside looks like. Then we've promptly gone back inside because outside is way more attractive in Pandaria.

So what now?

You're a level 90 mage. Worn and scarred from your battle with Deathwing, you wandered into this new continent, leaning heavily upon your staff, beaten but not bowed. The beauty you found here inspired you; dense bamboo forests shrouded in mystery, jade mountains capped with white, ornate temples steeped in ancient wisdom. You felt the call of the unexplored sink its hooks into your weary flesh, fill you with renewed purpose, prod your aching bones forward into new adventure and fresh conflict.

And now you find yourself invigorated with new power. You've gained experience and wisdom, learned new spells and ancient magic--all things you thought impossible only weeks ago. But now that you've reached the peak of your wizardry once more, the 90th level, still you crave more. You wish to increase your power, obtain rare and deadly weaponry, and yes, murder more warlocks. Seriously, screw those guys.

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Filed under: Mage, Analysis / Opinion, (Mage) Arcane Brilliance, Mists of Pandaria

Arcane Brilliance: Tips for leveling your mage from 85 to 90

Mage casting Alter Time in Pandaria
Every week, WoW Insider brings you Arcane Brilliance for arcane, fire and frost mages. This week, we take a break from pet battling to actually level our mages. Seriously. Put down that Armadillo Pup for a second and let's get to level 90. I'm talking to myself as much as you. I want you to know that.

I imagine I'm not the only slow-poke out there who's taking their sweet time getting to level 90. My playtime since the expansion hit has been almost non-existent until recently, and in fact I only just dinged max level this week. Still, even though time-constraints kept me from playing as much as I wanted to, it still felt like I was getting to 90 slower than I should have been. What can I say? I like to read the quest text, watch the cutscenes, listen to all the dialogue, explore the countryside. Oh, and I may have indulged in the occasional pet battle. We all have our vices. Though in this case, I'd hazard to say we all have the same vice.

But I did eventually get there, late or not. And for those of you who are still enjoying the journey rather than the destination, I've compiled a few of the thoughts and observations I had along the way into this week's column. For those of you for whom this advice comes too late, I'll start hitting the post-90 content next week. Pinkie swear.

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Filed under: Mage, Analysis / Opinion, (Mage) Arcane Brilliance, Mists of Pandaria

Arcane Brilliance: Mage add-on guide for Mists of Pandaria

Male troll mage
Every week, WoW Insider brings you Arcane Brilliance for arcane, fire and frost mages. This week, we look add-ons your mage might want to download or update for Mists of Pandaria. There are some great mage add-ons out there, but somebody needs to make one that tracks warlocks. I just think it'd make things a bit easier if I knew exactly how much killing I needed to do in a given area at all times.

We're down to just days now, guys. Days. I've been playing this game for the better part of 7 years now and at this point it's sort of amazing that I'm still capable of getting excited about anything it throws at me, but I have to say that I'm pretty damn giddy right now. I want to make a panda. I want to teach it to conjure pastries and hurl fireballs. I want to gain 5 levels on my main. I want to explore Azerothian Asia. I want to learn to sew new and prettier pairs of pants. I want to put a Rune of Power right outside Hot Topic, then just stand there like Gandalf, making sure all the warlocks most certainly do not pass.

But there are still a few items of business to attend to before that expansion hits and I can do all those infinitely fun things. We've already discussed a lot of them. A quick recap:
The item on today's agenda is mage add-ons. Every major patch or expansion is guaranteed to break all of your add-ons. Things you've depended upon for months suddenly stop working, and you look to to the heavens and cry out in anguish, your faith in a benevolent God shaken to its very core because Mage Nuggets is down. Well fear not. Most of the add-ons you love and need are already updated and ready for Mists to drop.

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Filed under: Mage, Analysis / Opinion, Add-Ons, (Mage) Arcane Brilliance, Mists of Pandaria

Arcane Brilliance: Mists of Pandaria mage guide to stats and reforging

Human fire mage
Every week, WoW Insider brings you Arcane Brilliance for arcane, fire and frost mages. This week, we talk about how awesome mages are. But did you know that you can make your mage even better? I know! It's like chocolate-covered chocolate. Or a cheesecake that also grants you three wishes. Or an Avengers movie that is also directed by Joss Whedon. Or a warlock that is also dead.

With just over a week of this pre-expansion/post-patch limbo to go, it's high time we covered one last piece of patch 5.0.4 mage business before we turn our eyes almost exclusively toward the impending influx of pandaren and monks and ... pandaren monks. But good news! Most, if not all, of what we discuss here today will also apply in Mists. Though there are always small shifts in stat weight at endgame, we're still quite far removed from knowing exactly how things will shake out when we're all doing hard mode raiding.

This expansion brings some major changes to our stats, radically altering the benefits they do and don't provide. Before we get to each spec and its stat weights, let's look at each stat and familiarize ourselves with its Mists of Pandaria version.

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Filed under: Mage, Analysis / Opinion, (Mage) Arcane Brilliance, Mists of Pandaria

Arcane Brilliance: Things I love most about my mage in patch 5.0.4 (so far)

Arcane Barrage
Every week, WoW Insider brings you Arcane Brilliance for arcane, fire and frost mages. This week, I'm taking a few precious moments that I'd otherwise be devoting to farming Tol Barad commendations so I can buy my Fox Kit to hammer out an ode to all the things I'm loving right now about patch 5.0.4. I hope you people appreciate my sacrifice. Seriously, guys. There are literally thousands of warlocks who are only still alive right now because the time I spend writing these columns is time I'm not spending killing warlocks.

There was a point on Tuesday night, while trying out my new rotations in the LFR against Ultraxion (several times, thanks to a long string of tanks who apparently have never used a taunt before), where I fully realized that my arcane mage had Living Bomb. I mean, I knew about it, had tried it out on the beta, but had never raided with it and actually inserted it into my rotation. So there I am, blasting away with my arcane mage and his new decidedly-more-than-one-button rotation, and I see that Living Bomb button on my action bar, and I press it, and then a few seconds later it explodes and I refresh it, and what's this? Am I crying? Yes ... yes, I'm crying like a child while I blow up that giant dragon.

So I'm happy with patch 5.0.4. I know not everybody is. Most of the complaints seem to revolve around the new talent system, which we'll get to in a minute. But me? I am completely on board. I have my quibbles. (Why do my Mana Gems vanish after logout again? I thought we fixed that annoyance a few patches ago.) But any minor issues I notice quickly drown in the massive wake of all the happy. And there is a lot of happy.

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Filed under: Mage, Analysis / Opinion, (Mage) Arcane Brilliance

Arcane Brilliance: Your mage's new spell rotations in Mists of Pandaria

Troll female mage
Every week, WoW Insider brings you Arcane Brilliance for arcane, fire and frost mages. This week, we realize that everything we know is wrong, and learn how to make it right again.

Last time we had an expansion release, it was all about an actual Cataclysm, and when we made jokes about the end of the world and chaos descending and the impending apocalypse, those jokes were appropriate. This time around, we've got cuddly pandas and fun pet battles and ... I don't know ... Eastern philosophy? Jokes about impending apocalypses aren't as apt this time around.

Still, if any expansion has the potential to usher in mass chaos and confusion, Mists of Pandaria may be the one. Never before at any one time have our spellbooks and talent trees undergone such sweeping change. On Tuesday, the servers will go down, and when they come back up, the pre-expansion patch 5.0.4 will be in place (barring unforeseen maintenance mishaps), and everything we know about how to effectively wield magic will be completely different. Our current spell rotations will be gone, and we will need to go about the tricky business of learning our new spell rotations.

Which brings us to the reason I called you all together today. There's magical cake in the back of the room, and later on we'll be doing trust falls with warlocks where they fall and we hit them in the face with an Arcane Barrage. But for right now, our agenda has only one item on it: our new spell rotations. It's time we learned them.

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Filed under: Mage, Analysis / Opinion, (Mage) Arcane Brilliance, Mists of Pandaria

Arcane Brilliance: Patch 5.0.4 mage preview

Blood elf female arcane mage
Every week, WoW Insider brings you Arcane Brilliance for arcane, fire and frost mages. This week, I need to apologize profusely for last week's sad lack of warlock hate. This week, I will hate them twice as much to make up for it.

So now we know when the expansion is coming (Sept. 25), and we also know when patch 5.0.4 is coming (Aug. 28). That means we'll be living with this patch and all of its sweeping changes to the systems and mechanics we're currently used to for the better part of a month before we get a whole bunch of new content to distract us from how different everything just became. That's a substantial amount of time to play with the new talent system, new spells, and ... erm ...pet battles that the pre-expansion patch will bring. I think this is a good time to discuss those changes and prepare ourselves mentally for all the shiny new bounty we are about to receive.

New talent system

This is by far the biggest change on the docket. Forget everything you currently know about talents. Gone is the 72-tier tree of talents that until now defined your mage's effectiveness. Gone are cookie-cutter specs that you had conform to or lose damage. Instead, we get six successive choices that are balanced pretty much equally.

Most of the talents we're used to now have either become baseline spells, been rolled together into current spells, or vanished entirely. Every 15 levels, we get to select from three talents. None of these talents are obviously better or worse than the others, freeing us to to choose the one at each tier that suits our playstyle or the needs of a particular situation.

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Filed under: Mage, Analysis / Opinion, (Mage) Arcane Brilliance, Mists of Pandaria

Arcane Brilliance: Mists of Pandaria mage glyph guide

Blood Elf Female Mage
Every week, WoW Insider brings you Arcane Brilliance for arcane, fire and frost mages. This week, we're talking glyphs and the mages who love them. Question: where do we keep our glyphs? Are they semi-permanent tattoos? Are they inscribed upon our clothing somewhere? Do we carry around a piece of paper with all our runes scrawled upon it? And if so, what happens to that scrap of paper when we forget to take it out of our pants before we run them through the laundry? The practical mechanics of inscription intrigue me.

As time marches forward, I find myself staring intently down the barrel of my wand at the approaching pandaren invasion, realizing with each passing moment that I am entirely unprepared. So much to cover! So little time. Good thing we can Alter and Warp time, right?

It's high time we discussed glyphs. I know Josh Myers previewed glyphs during my absence a few months back, but a whole lot has changed since then. This particular system has changed a bit from what we're used to. Gone are prime glyphs. Now it's just majors and minors. And the majors have been redesigned in an attempt to make them more situational and utilitarian, and this attempt seems to have been largely successful.

Instead of being forced to choose between damage increase glyph A and damage increase glyph B, you will now find yourself choosing the glyphs that appeal to you most or fit your playstyle best. Cookie-cutter, must-have glyphs are by and large a thing of the past, and I submit that this is a positive change.

Still, each spec will find that certain glyphs work better for them than others, and in the guide that follows, I will endeavor to advise you as best I can on which glyphs look most attractive for each school of mage.

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Filed under: Mage, Analysis / Opinion, (Mage) Arcane Brilliance, Mists of Pandaria

Arcane Brilliance: Mists of Pandaria talent spec guide for mages

Arcane Brilliance Mists of Pandaria talent spec guide for mages
Every week, WoW Insider brings you Arcane Brilliance for arcane, fire and frost mages. This week, we're looking at the overhauled talent system in Mists of Pandaria and figuring out which talent is best for killing warlocks. My initial impression is all of them. All of the talents are good for killing warlocks.

So with the expansion less than two months away and patch 5.0 looming on the "any week now" precipice, it's time we stopped messing around. I promise to stop skipping weeks of this column for trivial things like "family," or "crippling work schedule," or "violent and possibly terminal illnesses," because, damn. The time is short. The end of the end of the world is nigh, and the coming panda apocalypse is nearly upon us. We need to get down to the nitty-gritty here, guys.

Look forward to some extra mage content in between Arcane Brilliances as we ramp up in the coming weeks, in the form of basic class 101 guides for all the stuff you need to know before the expansion hits. I'll save the Saturday columns for more detailed analysis.

This week, we're wading neck deep into the new talent system, since it's probably the single biggest change our class is undergoing in Mists. It's a bona fide shock to the system and a radical departure from the status quo, and believe me when I say that it will take all of us some getting used to before it begins to feel even remotely normal.

The whole basis behind this talent system revamp is to eliminate cookie-cutter specs and provide us with six distinct choices between talents that serve roughly the same function as each other with slightly different mechanics. The idea is to provide freedom of choice by removing the need to pick the best talent at each tier. Each of the three choices at each tier is designed to be a good choice depending on playstyle, and no specific talent is supposed to provide measurably better DPS than another, so we can all hold hands, smoke the peace pipe, and pick whatever we like.

And now's the part where we all decide which of these equal talents are more equal than the others.

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Filed under: Mage, Analysis / Opinion, (Mage) Arcane Brilliance, Mists of Pandaria

Arcane Brilliance: Why I still love my mage

Raistlin Majere
Every week, WoW Insider brings you Arcane Brilliance for arcane, fire and frost mages. This week, we take a short break from talking about pandas and mists and the delightful Asian-flavored turtle-nation where the pandas and the mists combine to form a giant kung fu turtle panda Voltron super expansion of glory. But don't worry, the break will indeed be short. Because pandas.

Let's all join hands, cast Alter Time together, and journey back to the halcyon days of early 2008. George Walker Bush was nearing the end of his time as the leader of the free world, a visibly checked-out Britney Spears was auto-tuning her way to the top of the charts while simultaneously losing custody of her children to this guy, we were all playing the first games in the Rock Band and Mass Effect series, and the Hollywood screenwriters strike was nearing its end. Which, thank god, because the world needed Ron Swanson.

And in February of that year, I started writing for this wonderful website, beginning with a column titled Why we Mage. In that column, I endeavored to crystallize my deep and abiding affection for the mage class in World of Warcraft. A dash of my deep and abiding loathing for the warlock class may have seeped in there, too, as warlock loathing tends to do.

A great deal of time has gone by since then. Over four years, to be precise. I just finished Mass Effect and I still play Rock Band, mostly for the Iron Maiden songs. It's 2012. We've killed Arthas and Deathwing, Ron Swanson just got renewed for a fifth season, and somebody's remaking Herzog Zwei.

And oh yeah, I still love mages.

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Filed under: Mage, Analysis / Opinion, (Mage) Arcane Brilliance

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