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Arcane Brilliance: A friendly introduction to mage crowd control

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Arcane Brilliance for arcane, fire and frost mages. This week, a public service announcement:

An open letter to the guy who keeps breaking my sheep:

Please stop.

Sincerely,

Christian

P.S. -- Listen. I know it's Christmas and I should probably be doing a puff piece on things I want for my mage for Christmas or something like that. But I Simply can't stay quiet. We wiped 20 times in that heroic Grim Batol run last night, and though I know not everybody who plays this game reads this column, I have to do what I can. Evil triumphs when good men do nothing, or something like that.

I know The Burning Crusade happened like two years ago. I'm well aware that there's a distinct possibility you started playing the game during Wrath. Perhaps you either don't remember or don't have any idea what a "Polymorph" is or why it's not in your best interests to immediately begin whacking whatever I just cast it on as hard as you possibly can. I'm willing to allow for ignorance.

Mages, I can even understand it when you don't sheep things. Polymorph doesn't do any damage; in fact it heals its target! Why would you want to use a spell that doesn't blow things up when there are so many other delightful spells in your spellbook that do? It seems counter to everything we got into magecraft for.

Wrath was a long expansion. For the better part of two years, we spent the majority of our time chain pulling and AoE-farming our way through every instance in sight, concentrating on one thing and one thing only: DPS. Recount gave us a number at the end of every boss fight, and if that number was higher than the warlock's number, we had done a good job. Sure, the fights sometimes had mechanics we needed to pay attention to, but they mostly involved moving from one place to stand and shoot to another place to stand and shoot. We forgot a very important part of our jobs as mages.

We forgot how to sheep.

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

Arcane Brilliance: Things I'm thankful for

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Arcane Brilliance for arcane, fire and frost mages. This week, Arcane Brilliance is feeling especially festive. Pyroblasting a turkey will do that.

So apparently it's the holiday season. I'm still burping up cranberries and stuffing, my wife has started forcing Christmas music upon me (and frankly, if it's not Mannheim Steamroller, I don't want to hear it), and I've reached the point in the year when -- for my own mental well-being -- I refuse to look at a bank statement until February. To those of you who survived yesterday's annual gladiatorial bloodletting and emerged victorious from the front doors of Walmart or Old Navy, hoisting your hard-won set of hand towels above your head like a trophy: I salute you. To those of you who, like me, stayed home and bought stuff on Steam and Xbox Live: I also salute you, only I do so from my chair, by typing in an emote. Because, really, we're all pretty lazy. But damned if I don't feel well rested.

In deference to the spirit of the season, we here at Arcane Brilliance thought it might be nice to spend a column thinking about the things we're grateful right now. You'll find the mage-related stuff behind the jump, but here's my non-mage-related short list of awesome things:
  1. flatbread chicken sandwiches
  2. getting randomly tagged on Dragon Quest IX while walking through the airport Tuesday night
  3. troll druid cat form
  4. The Walking Dead
  5. Mumford and Sons
  6. discovering the brilliance of Arrested Development and Friday Night Lights on Netflix
Taco Bell, Netflix, Square Enix, etc. ... feel free to make any and all endorsement checks out to Christian Belt, care of WoW Insider. Also, screw you, AMC, for canceling Rubicon. I was just starting to enjoy that one. And screw you double, FOX, for putting Fringe on Fridays, where all good FOX shows go to die.

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

Arcane Brilliance: Things I've learned while dying in Cataclysm heroics, mage edition

It's time again for Arcane Brilliance, weekly mage column of choice for dress-wearing, warlock-hating Frostbolt slingers the world over. Also, fans of the short musical films of Journey, Short Imagined Monologues, and the sublime, video game-based synth and fretwork amalgams of Sixto Sounds. Seriously, listen to this one. Holy crap.

So over the past few days, I've found myself a broken corpse lying in a spreading puddle of my own bodily fluids a bit more frequently than I'm used to. The reason for this is simple: heroics. No, not the ones on the live servers -- where you can throw together a random group consisting of a ret pally tank, a six-year-old playing a hunter his mom bought him on eBay the day before, a feral druid healer who for some reason came into the instance suffering from nine more minutes of resurrection sickness, a mouth-breathing rogue who may or may not be a serial killer, and an AFK shaman farming badges while auto-following the healer -- and still blast through the place. I'm talking about heroics in the Cataclysm beta.

They're absolutely brutal, guys. Now, granted -- it's still early. The testing process for these beauties is still in its infancy. We're tackling them using premade characters with talent builds we threw together by looking at the talents and thinking, "This looks nice." We're wearing gear that's barely entry-level for heroics (if we're lucky) and using spell rotations that we're basically making up on the fly. We're going into instances we've never seen before, doing boss fights nobody knows the mechanics for, and dealing with crippling, often game-breaking bugs. These places simply aren't finished, not by a long shot.

But then again, that's why we have a beta. We go in, throw our soft, cloth-clad bodies against the long claws of some horrifying beast or another, use the final droplets of our blood to scrawl feedback for the developers ("Landmines ... everywhere ... can't feel ... legs ... fading to black ... tell warlocks ... hate them ... so ... much ... "), and then come back for another round. Blizzard takes the data it gathers from our gruesome deaths and uses it to construct a better game.

Still, there is much we can learn -- even in this unfinished state -- from the first incarnations of these heroics. Join me after the jump, won't you?

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

Testing of Crusader's Coliseum starts tomorrow


I was just bemoaning that we haven't gotten a chance to see patch 3.2's new raid content yet. It looks like that chance will come sooner than I expected: tomorrow night!

Daelo has just posted a testing schedule for Trial of the Crusader (a.k.a. Crusader's Coliseum).

  • North American realms: Lord Jaraxxus, Thursday, July 9, starting at 7 PM EDT
  • European realms: Eydis Darkbane and Fjola Lightbane, Thursday, July 9, starting at 19:00 CEST

Both of these fights will be available in normal mode (10 or 25) only, not heroic. The new 5-man, Trial of the Champion, will be open "later in the PTR cycle."

He also notes that Koralon, the new Vault boss, will be up, and you'll be able to access it if your side has Wintergrasp. Tanking and DPS Patchwerks will make a return. Unlike the patch 3.1 PTR tanking Patchwerk, this one just hits really hard ("as hard as Algalon"), all the time (instead of ramping his damage up over time).

Oh, and one more thing: there is, apparently, no trash at all in this raid. Woot?


Patch 3.2 will bring about a new 5, 10, and 25 man instance to WoW, and usher in a new 40-man battleground called the Isle of Conquest. WoW.com will have you covered every step of the way, from extensive PTR coverage through the official live release. Check out WoW.com's Guide to Patch 3.2 for all the latest!

Filed under: Patches, Raiding, Bosses

Tier 9 to come in three quality levels

10-man ilvl 25-man
Naxx 200
KT, EoE 213 Naxx
Ulduar 219
Ulduar hard 226 Ulduar, KT/EoE
CC
232 Ulduar weapons
239 Ulduar hard
CC hard 245 CC
258 CC hard
Well, that answers that question. According to what MMO-Champion has found in the PTR item database, Tier 9 gear from patch 3.2's Crusader's Coliseum raid comes in three different versions for each set (T7 and T8 come in two, from 10- and 25-man). There's one version at ilvl 232, one at 245, and one at 258. This leads to the following loot distribution, I'd guess:

  • 10-man normal (232) < 10-man hard (245) = 25-man normal (245) < 25-man hard (258)

Others (such as 10n < 25n < 10h = 25h) are logically possible, but to me, that's the most likely distribution that leads to three different ilvls. It's also the way Ulduar is done with normal and hard modes, apart from some differences in weapon ilvl.

Crusader's Coliseum on heroic is a bit different than Ulduar hard modes, though. It seems that when you do a heroic CC raid, you start out with a certain number of attempts (wipes), and the more attempts you have remaining upon defeating the final boss, the better loot you get. So will ilvl 258 gear be contingent upon beating CC-heroic in (say) fewer than half your attempts? I guess we'll have to wait and find out.

Of course, the really important question is: what the heck will we call the 3 different sets? T9.0, T9.33, T9.66?


Patch 3.2 will bring about a new 5, 10, and 25 man instance to WoW, and usher in a new 40-man battleground called the Isle of Conquest. WoW.com will have you covered every step of the way, from extensive PTR coverage through the official live release. Check out WoW.com's Guide to Patch 3.2 for all the latest!

Filed under: Patches, Items, Raiding

New information found in patch 3.2 achievements


The first patch 3.2 PTR client is now available for download, which means it's available for datamining. The ever-resourceful people at wirebrain have done just this to all the achievements found in the client, and have unearthed some interesting new details. We are unable to verify this information right now, but here's what they've found.

Read on after the cut for:

  • A new holiday.
  • The names of the bosses in the new raid and 5-man dungeon, and their related achievements.
  • A new Vault of Archavon boss.

To be clear, there will be spoilers.

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Filed under: Cooking, Patches, Events, News items, Instances, Raiding

PvP trinket is mandatory

There's a short, five-page locked thread over at the official forums that starts out by quoting Ghostcrawler although the OP doesn't quite make his point clear. I think what he's trying to say is that there's too much crowd control in the game, so much in fact, that a PvP trinket is mandatory. The discussion devolves into a criticism of the prevalance of crowd control in PvP. This is arguably exemplified by one of the most enduring and successful 3v3 team composition in Arenas, the RMP or Rogue-Mage-Priest comp which has access to a good number of crowd control (and interrupt or silence) abilities.

Ghostcrawler pops in to give his two centavos worth (apparently he can sift through QQ much better than I could) to say that "crowd control abilities are part of WoW," and is actually a little surprised at the reaction. "If you don't like being CC'd," he chides, "use your PvP trinket." He goes on to say that too much crowd control isn't good for the game, and also acknowledges that too much burst and too much healing aren't palatable, either. A little later down the thread, he gives a little illumination behind developer philosophy about crowd control design and distribution. Newsflash: it isn't equal.

By not being equal, I mean that some classes have more CC than others, while some have access to more CC breaks than others. But the accusation was that this made the game unbalanced, and this is what our favorite crab disagreed with. Despite the trend towards a little class homogeneity (e.g., identical or non-stacking buffs), he draws the line at making classes carbon copies of each other. He admits that "making classes identical or even very similar makes the game easier to balance," but he also astutely points out that "it also makes it boring."

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, PvP, Forums

Crowd Control to return in future instances

This opinion probably isn't shared by everyone, but I have to say: I miss crowd control in PvE. Nowadays, thanks to Death Knights or Blizzard or whoever you want to blame, instance runs are more or less zerg affairs -- everyone runs in on a cue, targets whatever the most dangerous mob is, and then lets the rest die off from the incidental damage thanks to their glyph-ed up, AoE abilities. But I long for a more civilized time when CC was used as a more elegant weapon, when a successful group was based on teamwork rather than gear, and when you needed a sheep, or a trap, or a banish, or all three, to make it through the instance.

Fortunately, crowd control isn't dead forever -- GC confirms that while Blizzard doesn't want every pull to take "months of planning" (and obviously they want you to bring the player, not the class, so requiring a Warlock or a Mage along isn't always the best policy), "there will be more CC in the future." Of course, whether that means raids only or future expansions, we have no idea. He does say that "Noxromulous" was made to be accessible, so you might think raids, but one instance players always mention in terms of 5-man difficulty is Magister's Terrace, and let's not forget that that one also came in a content patch.

Despite the bad rep that CC has gotten in PvP, it plays a significant role in the strategy of PvE, and lots of that interesting gameplay has really been lost lately. Hopefully in the future, we'll see Blizzard able to bring back sheep and traps in a way that will test groups without leaving anyone out.

Filed under: Hunter, Mage, Warlock, Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Instances, Bosses

Forum post of the day: A Rogue without a cause

Maximogu of Firetree posed the question "Why bring a Rogue to an 80 heroic?" in the general forums. He claimed that at this point there CC is unnecessary for most tanks that rely on AOE. Most of the trash pulls are handled by AOE classes now, making the Rogue's single target focus obsolete. He argued that Rogues are best suited with Druid tanks that do not handle multiple mobs as well as other tanking classes do.

Here are some of the reasons given for bringing a rogue along:
Anushka of Kel'Thuzad: There's a lot of nasty things that can be interrupted in most heroics. Though I wouldn't take more than one rogue.
Khadros of Frostwolf: To listen to the sound of theirs daggers going schlick schlick schlick.
Morgrimm of Korgath: Because one of my friends is a rogue.
Owari of Frostwolf: To DPS, of course.
Mypetgoat of Bladefist: It's one expendible DPS that won't roll on my gear.
Madia of Maelstrom: They need loot and stuff too.

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Filed under: Rogue, Analysis / Opinion, Instances, Forums, Forum Post of the Day

Breakfast Topic: How hybrid DPS could still get screwed in Wrath


Recently a bunch of the writers here were talking about all the changes we're seeing to various hybrid DPS specs. Retribution in the beta is known to bring some serious pain, cat DPS has been given some pretty sweet buffs, and Shamans...well, Shamans seem to be in a state of flux, but when is that not true? With tank AoE threat buffed, the need for crowd control may also be a thing of the past, thus eliminating one of the more annoying roadblocks to hybrid desirability in 5-man groups. For 5-mans, at least, hybrid DPS should encounter significantly less difficulty (we hope) getting a slot.

However, it was my contention that, for the purpose of raiding, it doesn't ultimately matter how much these specs get buffed. They could do amazing DPS, bring incredible buffs, have any number of raid-saving abilities, and fart gold on every crit -- but you're still not going to see a lot of hybrid DPS running around Wrath raids for one very simple reason: someone has to tank and heal, and neither job is sufficiently attractive to allow most hybrid players to come as DPS. When it's a choice between respeccing resto or the raid never getting off the ground, most players will respec resto -- and decisions like that tend to be fairly hard to escape. The next night rolls around and -- um, do you mind coming as resto again?

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Filed under: Druid, Paladin, Priest, Shaman, Warrior, Analysis / Opinion, Breakfast Topics, Expansions, Death Knight

Forum post of the day: Rogues are unhappy

The patch went live today, and Blizzard wasn't kidding about the Cheat Death Nerf. In case you missed it, here's how it reads:

Cheat Death: This talent has been rebalanced significantly. Killing blows are no longer 100% absorbed. If the Rogue is below 10% health, the killing blow is still completely absorbed; if the Rogue is over 10% health, enough damage will be absorbed to reduce the Rogue's health down to 10%. For the following 3 seconds, damage is not always reduced by 90%; it is now reduced by a maximum of 90%, depending on how much resilience the Rogue has. The damage reduction will be four times the damage reduction resilience causes against critical strikes.

Needless to say, Rogues are pretty unhappy, especially since Blizzard hasn't taken much interest in fixing the "vanish bug." Skudo of Altar of Storms takes this as proof that Blizzard hates Rogues. On top of that this must mean that Blizzard favors Druids since they rescinded their decision to make Scare Beast an instant ability.

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Filed under: Rogue, Patches, Analysis / Opinion, PvP, Talents, Forums, Forum Post of the Day

WWI '08 Panel: Druid (UPDATED)

While there isn't quite as much shocking news for those of us in the furry set as there was for our totem-spouting Earth brothers, there's still enough information to get us excited about our futures in Wrath of the Lich King.

I have to admit that I was a little surprised to hear Tom Chilton say in the first WWI dev panel that Blizzard isn't planning any Cyclone changes. When an audience member asked if there would be any alterations for Cyclone, Chilton answered in a pretty clear, unambiguous manner: Nope. But he did give us some explanation for it.

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Filed under: Druid, Analysis / Opinion, News items, Wrath of the Lich King, Worldwide Invitational

WWI '08 Panel: Shaman

Holy moly, Shamans got a ton of stuff they wanted and then some today at the WoW Dev Panel during WWI '08 today.
  • Shaman CC! Hex, previously the domain of NPCs only, was confirmed as a Shaman spell -- it'll have a quick 1.5 second cast, and will turn your enemy into a frog for about 8-10 seconds. The frogged person will still be able to move around, but they won't be able to attack or cast spells. A 1 minute cooldown was mentioned, but that's in opposition to the purpose of the spell, which is supposed to be emergency only, so that may change.
  • The devs mentioned that Shaman were suffering from "Totem spam," so a few totems will be combined -- Strength of Earth and Grace of Air will become the same totem, and the physical school news was re-confirmed.
  • Perhaps the biggest Shaman complaint since launch was answered: Shaman totems will now affect the whole raid, not just the local group. That's a big one.
  • Weapon enchants are being revamped for more utility. Rockbiter is out completely, and Earthliving is replacing it -- it will give a +Healing buff. Flametongue will give spell damage, and Frostbrand will "more reliably snare" opponents.
A lot of Shaman concerns were answered today for sure, though perhaps not in the way players might have wanted. Will a 10 second CC be enough? It's great that totems affect the raid now, but will their range be extended to reach all of those people?

All of this information is still up in the air, of course, but it's awesome to finally see some official news on where classes are headed for Wrath of the Lich King. Stay tuned for more Wrath information, as well as any other WoW news we hear coming out of WWI.

Filed under: Shaman, Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Raiding, Classes, Buffs, Wrath of the Lich King, Worldwide Invitational

One player's trinket is another player's trophy


I always thought of trinkets like Carrot on a Stick and the Chained Essence of Eranikus as bag-space wasters rather than trophies, but 35 Yards Out makes an excellent case for them as memorable trinkets. I do agree with the Mark of the Chosen and the Hypnotist's Watch (and I've even gotten the Watch to drop aggro for me) -- there are some trinkets and items you come across in your travels that might be trash to everyone else, but are the rarest of possessions for you and your character.

The Ravager is probably my biggest personal trophy -- everyone else told me that the proc was trouble (and in fact, I did have to switch out of it in instances to avoid breaking CC, though that may have changed since I last used it), but I just loved the idea of spinning around with a giant axe so much that I just had to have it. And longtime readers will know of my fascination with the Tier 0 Shaman shoulders -- most people aren't big fans, but for some reason, I love them.

It's true -- one player's vendor trash in game is another player's treasured dream loot. What exactly is it that makes us pine for a certain item -- certainly class and playstyle have something to do with it, but it seems like Blizzard makes these items so wild and varied that no matter what you find out there, something will definitely appeal to you more than other players.

[Via Mania]

Filed under: Items, Analysis / Opinion, Fan stuff, Virtual selves, Odds and ends, Blizzard

Spiritual Guidance: Diving in to the dark side


Every Sunday, Spiritual Guidance will offer practical insight for priests of the holy profession. Your host is now usually Matt Low, the grand poobah of World of Matticus, but this week he has midterms and you're left to suffer with a substitute. Elizabeth recently toyed with the darker side of the priest's profession, but for better or worse, is holy again this week.

I rolled my first Priest for a very simple reason -- I wanted to play with my friends, and I got sick of always having to wait on a healer when we wanted to do something together. With every group stalled for need of healing, picking up a healing class myself seemed a pragmatic solution. (And three healers later, I'm still at it.) So a few weeks ago when we happened to have plenty of healing... but were short DPS... by the same logic I decided I could respec Shadow and lend a hand. And though the plan may seem simple enough, there are quite a few things DPS classes have to worry about that healers may not pay attention to at all.

Ever think about joining the dark side? There are a few things to consider before-hand...

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Filed under: Priest, Raiding, (Priest) Spiritual Guidance

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