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Arcane Brilliance: Challenge mode tips for mages part 1

A group of characters wearing challenge mode gear, from left to right: draenei shaman, human paladin, draenei mage, pandaren shaman, draenei death knight
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.

Happy new year! Welcome to 2014. This week I'm going to talk about something we haven't looked at yet: challenge modes. Every column I've posted, someone has asked about or remarked on my current transmog. (Thank you for that. It warms my heart that you're also fashion-conscious). I'll admit, I haven't been able to change my transmog since I got the CM one. It's such a perfect combination of unique, exclusive, and also it's a credential. It says, "Trust me, I know what I'm doing here."

But the best thing about it is that you don't need a raid group to get it. Why would you want to do challenge modes as a mage? Read on to find out.

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Filed under: Mage, (Mage) Arcane Brilliance

Arcane Brilliance: 5 abilities that keep me playing my mage

A female human mage standing with her Mirror Images
Every week, WoW Insider brings you Arcane Brilliance for arcane, fire and frost mages. Christian Belt is the normal archmage, but rumor has it that he's currently trapped in one of many hell dimensions. The Simbul has gone to investigate, leaving Senior Understudy and Last Surviving Student Josh Myers to cover this week's article.

I am a gigantic nerd. I love math, and science, and testing. So when a new beta comes out and there's testing and theorycrafting and video game science to do, that's my focus. I go, "Hey, look at this shiny new spell, and what are the rotational ramifications of its existence?" And then I forget that I have work in the morning and am up till four in the morning running around Jade Forest trying to get the perfect screenshot of Nether Tempest.

I'm on vacation visiting my parents in Michigan this week, and I promised myself that part of that vacation would be to eschew plying beta for the week, since we've been pretty inseparable for the past month. Also, I'm using my significant other's laptop, and I'm not sure even my rep level would support downloading another massive file onto it. As a result, I've been playing a lot on live, and I've taken some time to remember why it is that I love playing the mage class.

There are a lot of reasons (none of them are the fire spec in PVE at the moment, but that's another post entirely), but the main one is the repertoire. Mages have a ton of abilities, and a lot of them are chock-full of flavor and awesomeness. I had to narrow this list down to my five absolute favorites, but everything from Mirror Image to Invisibility to Cone of Cold are eligible contestants too. The abilities I chose are my favorites, ones that fit the classic mage archetype while having mechanics that make sense in WoW. Also, they're shiny.

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

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

Arcane Brilliance: The mage survival guide, part 1

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Arcane Brilliance for arcane, fire and frost mages. This week and next, we look at the time-honored tradition of mages dying whenever something looks at them funny and discuss a few ways to break that tradition. Way #1: Stand next to the warlock, pull aggro, cast Frost Nova, then Blink away.

I'm just kidding; that's a terrible idea. Funny, but terrible. Only do it once, purely for the humor value, then concentrate on downing the boss. Okay, maybe twice.

If you've run a heroic in Cataclysm, you may have noticed something: Nobody's healing you. In Wrath, when I'd take my holy pally out for a spin, everybody got heals. I was healing the tank, the off tank, the off-off tank, the DPS, the other healers, the hunter's pet, the death knight's ghoul, the guy standing in the fire ... they all got heals. Now? Not so much.

These days, healers spend 75% of their time healing the tank and the other 25% praying that their mana bars will go back up. That leaves exactly 0% of their time to spend on keeping your mage alive.

We're on our own, guys. When you see your health bar start to drop in a Cataclysm heroic or raid, just know that it won't be going back up any time soon. Our survival as DPSers is squarely our own responsibility. And what's the first rule of magehood? That's right: Dead mages do terrible DPS. We need to stay alive, our raid needs us to stay alive, and the only way that's going to happen is if we do it ourselves.

"But Christian," you might be saying, "I'm a mage! I wear a dress into combat! A particularly vigorous sneeze could kill me." Those things are all true. But you do have a few tricks up your sleeve that can help stave off death, if not forever, then at least long enough to pump out a few thousand more points of damage before you port up to that last great mage table in the sky.

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

Holy crap, Blink has sort of been fixed



Before you ask:

No, it still doesn't work going into or out of the flag rooms in Warsong Gulch.

Places it does work:

Going into and out of most other doorways. Up stairs. Through a great many smaller objects. Over unusual terrain, far more frequently than it used to. Overall: it works a lot more often than it doesn't work.

See, in case you missed it (as I did until helpful tipster James pointed it out to me this morning), Ghostcrawler dropped by a thread on the Damage Dealing forums (ironically titled "Blink Will Never Be Fixed") to drop this bombshell on us:

"There was a fix to Blink crossing terrain (such as indoor to outdoor) in 3.2.2."

I don't know about you, but I've been vigorously combing the book of Revelation for other signs of the coming apocalypse to be on the lookout for, just so I'm ready. Details after the break.

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Filed under: Mage, Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Bugs, Classes

Class Q&A: Mage

Second up in the class Q&A (Shamans were first) are Mages, those lovable glass cannons. Or are they? The Q&A opens with Ghostcrawler discussing public perception of the class, with a prompt of "a lot has changed since the days when the 'glass cannon' description was applied."

General

GC describes the mage as "the iconic caster:" deals magic damage from range. They should be versatile enough to do single-target damage, AoE damage, and crowd control, and every group should want one. (I'm noticing a trend here -- GC also described Shamans as a class every group should want. I guess every group should want all classes.)

They like the different feel between the three trees is in a good place, with Frostfire possibly providing a fourth aesthetic. They have decided that "king of AoE" is no longer a good niche to put any class in, so now they're trying to give both AoE and single-target to all DPS specs (with "extra effort" to make sure mages do good AoE).

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Filed under: Mage

Arcane Brilliance: Mages are fine! Now fix us.



Each week Arcane Brilliance saves the world, one Mage column at a time. Once, we did it by throwing the One Ring into a volcano. Oh, and this one time, we did it by slaying the evil Voldemort. And every once in awhile, we do it by traveling back in time and saving John Connor from the robotic clutches of Skynet. The Edward Furlong John Connor, not the Christian Bale one. Also, Arcane Brilliance doesn't go back as Michael Biehn or Ahnuld. Arcane Brilliance is totally Summer Glau. Yowza.

So...with news flying around about upcoming patches, and changes on the horizon for other classes, I can't help but notice a strange, almost eerie silence over here on the Mage front. If this were a movie, somebody would say "It's quiet," and then somebody else would pipe up with "yeah...a little too quiet," and that'd be the moment when somebody gets grabbed by something big and scary, or something explodes, or Samuel L Jackson gets eaten by a shark or something. Seriously, I'm starting to get a little freaked out here.

Now, don't misunderstand: I'm not complaining. I appreciate the recent Mirror Image change. I like that my copies aren't morons now. I really do. It's just that you have to go back to patch 3.1 to find anything even resembling a major change affecting the way Mages play the game, while other classes still appear to be in constant flux.

This tells me one thing: Mages are good. We're set. Really, you guys have fun over there with your new class mechanics and what-not, we're fine over here with our...whatever. Yeah? You got yourself some new Druid bear-form art? That's cool, because we...um...we can turn stuff into rabbits now. That's right, suck on it.

So apparently Blizzard thinks Mages are fine for now. I'm not arguing the issue; if you ignore that fantastic five minutes right at the beginning of Wrath of the Lich King when we were awesome, I'm hard pressed to think of a point in the history of this game when Mages have been in a more comparatively satisfactory position than we are right now. Our damage is competitive, and we don't suck in PvP. We can get raid spots. We can kill Warlocks. I'm not unhappy right now, really I'm not.

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

The Queue: Punching our way to greatness


Welcome back to The Queue, WoW Insider's daily Q&A column where the WoW Insider team answers your questions about the World of Warcraft.

Yesterday we were talking about the Bros Before Ho Ho Ho's achievement a bit. Specifically, do you need to be level 77 to get it if you're a Horde player? Most of us thought yes, you do, but stacy (one of our readers) popped in with some pretty creative instructions on how to do it. Check that out, then we'll get on with the Q&A!

Classy asked...

Anyone know a good place to fall to get the "Going Down?" achievement?

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Wrath of the Lich King, Achievements, The Queue

Exploitation and the demise of Heroic Leap

There was a time in the beta of Wrath of the Lich King that Warriors everywhere were excited little special snowflakes. They had not one but two, count 'em two, special talents: Heroic Leap and Titan's Grip.

While the dual wielding goodness/badness that is Titan's Grip continues today, Heroic Leap was removed mid-beta with Warriors everywhere screaming and crying. Yours truly shed a tear. I loved leveling through the Howling Fjord and Dragonblight with Heroic Leap at my side. One press of a button and bam – I'd be raining down upon my enemies with my plate shining and dual two-handers blaring.

Its demise has always been speculated upon. Many thought that the skill just provided one too many ways for a warrior to quickly move about the world. Others thought that it was due to it being too over powered in PvP. Still others thought it had to do with exploitation of the terrain.

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Filed under: Warrior, Analysis / Opinion, Wrath of the Lich King

Arcane Brilliance: My Mage wishlist



Each week Arcane Brilliance endeavors to give you a tiny peek into the vast and mysterious world of Mages. This peek comes at the cost of your very soul. Really, it totally does. Ok, so I'm lying. Your soul will be fine. No soul-related problems will come from reading Arcane Brilliance. That we're aware of.


Mages complain a lot. We do. A stroll through the first couple pages of threads over on the official Mage forums is more often than not like a guided tour of QQ central. For instance, as I write this there's a four-page topic on quitting the game over not being able to downrank spells anymore. Yes, it's terrible, but apparently a level one Warrior is considering leaving the game because he can't save a bit of mana on his main by casting rank 1 Frost Nova. I sense a great disturbance in the Force, as if one first-level Warrior cried out in terror and was suddenly silenced. I think we all share a great sense of loss here.

To be frank, in these heady days of Living Bomb spells that look like they might actually be useful, Frostfire Bolts that have the potential to be very, very powerful, Deep Freezes that have become instant cast and do nice damage, an Arcane tree that looks as if it can stand alone as a high-DPS tree, and of course Polymorph: Penguin, I feel as if there simply isn't much left for us Mages to complain about. In fact, as the Wrath beta progresses, I find more and more about our class that inspires an overall sense of optimism.

Still, I dream of better things. I'm happy at the direction we appear to headed in, but there a few things I wish for our class--a short list of improvements, most of which I have wanted for a very long time. I'm not finding fault, just wishing. A Mage can dream, can't he? Join me after the break for a brief Mage wish-list, the things I dream of when I'm not setting fire to Fel Orcs.

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Filed under: Mage, Analysis / Opinion, Features, Classes, Buffs, (Mage) Arcane Brilliance, Wrath of the Lich King

Arcane Brilliance: Magery in 2.4

Every week, Arcane Brilliance endeavors to inform and entertain Mages everywhere, and also to brainwash non-Mag es into becoming Mages. This week we take a look at what's to come for the Mage class, even though last week we promised to write about newbie instances. The newbie instances aren't going anywhere, ok? We can write about them next week. Also, this is the last time we refer to ourselves in plural first person. We know we aren't part of a collective. We understand we are not Borg. We promise.

Is this whole "progressive patch" thing blowing anybody else's mind? Am I the only one? When the patch notes were first released, Mages everywhere let out a massive, unequivocated "Meh." There were no significant changes for anybody, really, much less the wizarding community at large. As it turned out, Blizzard was holding out on us. Each build of the patch brings a few new nuggets of change, slightly like when Wendy's switched from chicken nuggets constituted of several differently colored kinds of ultra-processed chicken product to all-white kinds of ultra-processed chicken product. Though we've gotten nothing as drastic as what may or may not be happening to Shamans and Warlocks, some of these changes could prove to be significant.

It's important, I suppose, that I stress yet again that none of these changes are guaranteed to see the light of the live servers, and that future nerfs/buffs could be rolling down the pipe. By the time I finish writing this, chances are it will be out of date. And the way things have been going, if we Mages see something hit the notes that we don't like, all we have to do is unite and QQ the living crap out of the official forums. You never know what it'll get you.

After the jump, rampant speculation!

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Filed under: Mage, Patches, PvP, Classes, Talents, (Mage) Arcane Brilliance, Battlegrounds, Arena

100 amazing Mage tricks

If you're a Mage, this thread from the EU forums is definitely worth a read-- it's based on a Warlock tips thread (which I looked around for but couldn't find-- if you see it, let me know and I'll link it up for the locks) that basically ran down 100 basic and advanced tips for players of that class.

If you're a super advanced Mage, you probably already know most of this stuff. The basics are here for sure-- use Blink judiciously to move in an out of range, use Sheep to interrupt casters, and downrank utility spells in PvP. But there's some other interesting things here as well-- I play a Shaman, and my first step when fighting mages (well, right after Grounding Totem) is to Purge all those buffs off. So casting Ice Barrier during my spellcast is ingenious-- either I have to interrupt to purge, or just let the barrier eat the damage.

Especially for beginner mages, this stuff is gold. If you're in the mood for tips on how to make your mage better, check it out for sure.

Update: Here's the Warlock thread. Thanks to everyone who sent it to me. Also, apparently the Warlock thread was based on a Warrior tricks thread. Anyone seen that one?

Filed under: Mage, Analysis / Opinion, Tricks, Classes

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