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Arcane Brilliance: 4 things I'm going to miss the most in Mists of Pandaria

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Every week, WoW Insider brings you Arcane Brilliance for arcane, fire and frost mages. This week, we're discussing a sad topic: loss. Not that this is a new feeling for mages. We've loved and lost before; everyone pour one out for Wand Specialization. You were too beautiful to die.

Every time there's a new expansion, we get some new toys to play with. We tend to focus on these shiny new abilities or revamped mechanic -- and rightly so, as they are often pretty spiffy. But I fear we sometimes forget the casualties. For when Blizzard giveth, it also tends to taketh away. Spells are replaced, redundant talents vanish, and mechanics change, and as a mage, I always feel somehow diminished when I see a blank page in my spellbook -- even if it's a page that used to be occupied by something as useless as Arcane Fortitude or Amplify Magic, those ancient relics of fail.

Mists of Pandaria will be no exception. We're gaining some awesomeness but losing a few things too. And some of those things, I'm really, truly going to miss.

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

Arcane Brilliance: Beginner's guide to being a mage

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Arcane Brilliance for arcane, fire and frost mages. This week, we're taking a trip through the first 20 levels of the game, which are now eternal. The important thing to remember about rolling a mage is that you've made the right choice; congratulations.

Between the newly adopted unending demo, the extended Recruit-a-Friend promotion, and the freshly bargain-priced WoW/The Burning Crusade bundle, it seems Blizzard is making a concerted effort to woo new players. And from my limited viewpoint, it seems to be working.

I have a brother, a year and some change younger than me, who doesn't live near me. This sucks, because he and I have absolutely everything in common. We grew up taking turns watching each other play Shining Force, or designing Dungeons & Dragons campaigns to force each other to play through, but then college, family, and career separated us. I'm here in Las Vegas playing copious amounts of video games and ignoring my kids, and he's at Purdue, working on his doctorate and just generally making me ashamed of the waste my life has become. Naturally, I've been trying for years to drag him down to my level. Thus far he's resisted, but when I notified him of these new opportunities to play the game on the cheap, he finally took the plunge.

And rolled a warrior.

Sigh.

Oh well. At least it wasn't a warlock, right?

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

Arcane Brilliance: The mage survival guide, part 2

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Arcane Brilliance for arcane, fire and frost mages. This week, we continue our discussion of ways to avoid dying horribly. This week's tip: Roll a death knight.

Yes, the sad reality of being a mage is the ever-present threat of a swift and ignominious demise. We're like every character in The Walking Dead: We could go at any time, and our only consolation is that God willing, we'll be able to blow up a few zombies on our way out.

Last week, we discussed a few methods for surviving to pew pew another day, namely aggro drop and damage mitigation. This week, we turn our attention to two other lifesaving techniques: movement and crowd control. Just remember as we go forward that every time a mage survives a fight, an angel punches a warlock in the face. Have I used that joke before? I may have. Doesn't make it any less true. Angels hate warlocks. So does Jesus. And me. And, I pray, all of you.

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Filed under: Mage, (Mage) Arcane Brilliance

The Art of War(craft): Must-have PvP talents for mages in 4.0.1

Every week, WoW Insider brings you The Art of War(craft), covering battlegrounds and world PvP, and Blood Sport, with the inside line for arena enthusiasts. Want to crush your enemies, see them driven before you and hear the lamentation of their women? Battlemaster Zach Yonzon, old-world PvP grinder and casual battleground habitué, rambles on about anything and everything PvP.

The Cataclysm is getting close, so we've only got a few weeks of this transitional stage, but it's important to pick out our PvP talents heading into the expansion. Today, we're going to take a look at mages, who have the usual set of tools and a couple of new ones. Nothing drastic has changed, despite the overhaul in 4.0.1, so mages are still casters who do best at range. Nothing has made them capable of wading into melee and standing toe-to-toe with rogues or anything silly like that. Instead, what we've got are three interesting trees with slightly different ways to crush their opponents -- all of them fun.

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Filed under: Mage, Analysis / Opinion, PvP, The Art of War(craft) (PvP)

Arcane Brilliance: Mage AoE in Cataclysm, part 2


It's time again for Arcane Brilliance, the weekly mage column that likes AoE. In fact, you can expect those three specific letters in that precise configuration to appear approximately fourty-three thousand times during the course of the column to follow. Pretty impressive, considering the column's only a shade over 1,500 words long. How'd I do it? A true magician never reveals his tricks, guys.

A brief history of fire:
  • 17,000 B.C. - Motivated mainly by an intense desire to cook bacon, mankind discovers fire.
  • 3,000 B.C. - On Azeroth, the first mage, motivated mainly by an intense desire to cook warlocks at range, discovers how to hurl a Fireball.
  • 2004 A.D. - Mages set fire to Hogger for the first time. Bacon is served.
  • 2010 A.D. - Cataclysm comes out, bringing with it such fiery wonders as Flame Orb, moving Scorches, and the reworked Combustion. Warlocks are served.
  • 2015 A.D. - Following the Zombie Apocalypse, mages find that Blast Wave + conjured strudel is the ideal skill-set for surviving in a world full of ravenous undead. Zombies are served. Also: zombie warlocks. Also: zombie bacon. Mmmm ... zombie bacon.
Last week we discussed the general changes to AoE spells across the board, as well as the specific AoE capabilities of the arcane and frost trees in the upcoming WoW expansion, Zombie Cataclysm. Those trees both have their ways and means of killing things in large groups, but I think we can all agree that when it comes to mass murder, the fire tree is where it's at. Join me after the break, won't you?

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

Arcane Brilliance: Fire mage 4.0

It's Saturday, and that of course means it's time again for Arcane Brilliance, weekly mage column, hero to the downtrodden, vanquisher of evil, dispenser of justice. That's right. By day, Arcane Brilliance is a mild-mannered mage-related wall of text. But by night ... Arcane Brilliance is Deathspank.

Another beta build hit a couple nights ago -- as they tend to do -- and it brought a number of class changes. A quick glance at the new talent trees revealed the expected (some talent position swaps, a few talents vanishing, some tooltip alterations, the occasional loss of a rank here and there) and the ... unexpected. Three changes in the fire tree, particularly, caught my eye:
Yes, the tooltip for Molten Shields really is "Redesign!" With an exclamation point. For emphasis.

So clearly the fire tree is in a certain amount of flux? I became instantly excited. The fire tree, perhaps more than either of the other two trees, really has been due for some focused attention. Then I saw this, from none other than Lead Game Designer Tom Chilton:

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

Arcane Brilliance: Beta wishlist

It's time again for Arcane Brilliance, the weekly mage column that would like you to know that yes, that is a screenshot from the Cataclysm beta, and yes that's a lowbie goblin mage. Also, the goblin on the right is Fizz Lighter, the goblin mage trainer. He's eternally flinging Fireballs at the goblin on the left, Evol Fingers, the goblin warlock trainer. The dirty lock is returning fire with an endless string of Shadowbolts. Even in screenshots, it's truly the most epic thing ever. I can't wait to see it live. And to assist Fizz with my own barrage of Fireballs. Stinking warlocks.

It's incredibly difficult for me to write about the beta for two reasons:
  1. I'm not in the beta.
  2. Anything I write about today is very well going to be completely different tomorrow. Or gone entirely.
So you can see my problem. I have been playing with the new 31-point talent trees almost non-stop since they were revealed. Like the crazed wizard I am, I have cobbled together approximately a billion different specs, molding them into vaguely humanoid shape and granting them life, then sending them forth to do my bidding. I call them "talent golems." I do this because I am a nerd.

Unfortunately, the next beta build will, in all likelihood, blow all of my precious creations up completely. This means that writing any sort of in-depth analysis at this point amounts to a bit of a mental merry-go-round. It's fun while it lasts, but you always end up back where you started.

So instead of wasting your time with a long diatribe on things which may or may not ever see the light of the live realms, I choose to waste it in a different way.

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Filed under: Mage, (Mage) Arcane Brilliance, Cataclysm

Arcane Brilliance: Fire 101

It's time again for Arcane Brilliance, the weekly mage column that believes there is no such thing as too much Pyroblast. You can certainly have not enough Pyroblast, as any fire mage who is desperately praying to the RNG gods for a second consecutive crit so that Hot Streak will grant him an instant one can attest. But you can never have too much. Never.

Since publishing Arcane 101 and Frost 101, for our series of class 101 guides, I've received numerous requests for Fire 101. Where is it? When is it coming? Why haven't you written it yet? There's even one guy who I swear has emailed me pretty much daily inquiring as to Fire 101's whereabouts. These emails progressed steadily in their tone and verbiage from mild annoyance to frustrated desperation, to thinly veiled threats to do me bodily harm. It wasn't long before the emails began coming with increasingly creepy pictures attached: first one of a road map with a thumbtack in the southwestern portion of Nevada, then one of the "Welcome to Las Vegas" sign, then one of the street where I live, then one of my house, my driveway, and so on. The picture contained in yesterday's email was of a naked man who wasn't me standing in my bathroom brandishing a large knife. So, I've decided that today is the day!

Now, please ... get out of my bathroom, crazynakedguy@iwillstabyouinthefacechrisbelt.com.

As always, these posts come with a small disclaimer: these are meant to be basic guides covering a general overview of the spec from a PvE perspective. This one is meant as an introduction to Fire. It will not help you maximize your DPS on heroic 25-man Lich King. It will, however, help you get some idea of what the fire spec is, and how to go about playing it.

Without further ado, I bring you Fire 101.

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

Abilities I usually wish didn't exist in 5-mans

Most tanks are control freaks. As a matter of fact, you should hope that your tank is a control freak, because the ones who shrug off a mob running around loose are the ones you probably don't want tanking your run anyway. With that in mind, there are several player abilities that, while great for soloing or PvP, don't make the transition to a 5-man very well. Either they make life a real nuisance for your group members due to inherent design, or they tend to do so in the hands of a player who doesn't deploy them in a particularly helpful fashion.

Not all tanks will have the same degree of irritation with all of the following skills (for example, I play a druid, and because bears don't have a ranged silence, a knockback on a caster mob is much more likely to annoy me than, say, a death knight tank), but I promise you that they've all been mentioned by my tanking colleagues as abilities with a high chance of blowing a pull.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Instances

Arcane Brilliance: WoW patch 3.3 primer for mages

It's time again for another Arcane Brilliance, the weekly mage column that loves mages and all things magey. Take this picture, for example. That's a mage right there. If I'm not mistaken, she's getting ready to do something magey. Like plant a Fireball deep in the fertile soil of a warlock's grill. Arcane Brilliance loves everything about that.

So apparently patch 3.3 could literally drop any moment. I'm not even kidding. It might have happened while I was typing that last sentence. I don't know. More likely, though, is that it will come (as per the usual deployment-method) during the upcoming Tuesday maintenance. This means we've only got a little time left before we can enter Icecrown Citadel and begin the patch-long process of shaking its inhabitants down repeatedly for loot. I, for one, cannot wait to place an Arcane Missile or five directly up Arthas' frosty tailpipe.

But what, exactly, does this patch bring to the mage class? I'm glad you asked. Though this patch is admittedly a bit heavy on the new raid content and light on class changes, mages are one of the few classes that are getting some pretty significant new junk. From increased raid utility for Arcane, to buffed-up AoE for Fire, to actual, honest-to-goodness competitive raid DPS for Frost, 3.3 is delivering a little of something for everybody. Join me after the break for a full recap of all the newness we can expect come patch day.

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Filed under: Mage, Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Features, Classes, Talents, Buffs, (Mage) Arcane Brilliance

The Thunderstorm of Thunder Bluff


We've been hating on knockbacks a little bit, but after seeing the video above (from Hellfire-EU if I'm not mistaken) I have to admit they can cause some hilarious situations. This video has certainly been making the rounds- quite a few people wrote in about it, and it appeared in the comments section of our Breakfast Topic the other day.

There's plenty of cries of "nerf please!" when people see what happens here, but how often are you going to run across a situation like this? Fifty Alliance tightly packed in a little elevator unable to see what's above them? I think there are three locations like this in all of WoW. Assaulting Thunder Bluff may suck when the Horde knows you're there, but it's not that big of a deal overall. Hilarious when it happens, but it won't happen often. In smaller scale situations like a one on one or a one on two... well, don't get between the Shaman/Mage and the cliff, and you'll be fine, eh?

Filed under: Mage, Shaman, Analysis / Opinion, Humor, Wrath of the Lich King

Breakfast Topic: A knock on knockbacks

The game-changing Echoes of Doom patch brought in a slew of new abilities and some of them included this nifty little feature called 'knockback', which effectively knocks back enemy players and NPCs. It's a whole lot of fun, particularly if you're knocking them off the bridge in Dun Baldar. I've been on the nasty receiving end of a knockback that sent me to my death in Eye of the Storm. I think it's a lot of fun, and it really does create some interesting conundrums in Arenas.

Of course, not everyone is thrilled by them. Our very own Allison Robert, bear tank extraordinaire, has torn out about half her hair (poor Allie!) in frustration from knockbacks messing with tanking. She implores you to use these abilities with restraint for the sake of her sanity. It's a level-headed request that Blizzard hears. They've recently hinted at new Glyphs that will remove the knockback effect from certain spells such as Blast Wave, Typhoon, and Thunderstorm.

How's your experience with knockback effects? Have you used it to kill enemies in Battlegrounds? Used it to escape some pesky Rogue slicing and dicing your butt? Maybe you've even used it in *gasp* an instance and rearranged the mobs that the tank so painstakingly positioned through the pull. How have you been (ab)using knockbacks? What's your take on the new mechanic? Yay? Nay? Art-fay?

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Breakfast Topics

A plea on behalf of frustrated tanks everywhere

Several classes and specs have gotten "knockback" abilities as part of patch 3.02 and the game's transition to Wrath of the Lich King, and I've had fun watching these skills be deployed in battlegrounds to extensive and quite possibly evil use. It's pretty funny watching an elemental Shaman defend AB's lumber mill now, and the AV bridge? Even funnier.

And yet...as I laughed, I started to cry inside, because I knew that these skills would also be deployed in 5-man groups and raids to much less amusing effect. And man, it's a real burden being right so often.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, PvP, Instances, Humor, Classes, Battlegrounds

Beta patch notes for August 1st

The beta client was patched against last night, and the process was nice and smooth. The realms were actually up earlier than their estimate, which was a shocking difference from what we see on Live realms. Of course, Live realms see maintenance at the same time, so maybe that was the difference. The patch wasn't a big one by any means, it was actually quite small compared to the last one.

This patch is mostly Mage and Shaman changes, but it also contained the beginnings of Blizzard's built-in threat meter. I can't say its the greatest implementation ever, but it's a start and the information it provides is already proving itself infinitely useful to mod authors such as the fellow behind Omen. More on that another time though, you're here for the patch notes and the patch notes I shall provide. Check behind the cut for the recent changes according to the candlestick.

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Filed under: Mage, Shaman, Patches, Expansions, Wrath of the Lich King, Arena

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