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Arcane Brilliance: Mage leveling guide, 21-30


Welcome to another edition of Arcane Brilliance, the weekly mage column that won't give up, will never back down, won't retreat and won't surrender. Arcane Brilliance has the heart of a champion, the eye of the tiger, the soul of a lion, the reflexes of a mongoose, and the gall bladder of an emu. Now, if you'll excuse Arcane Brilliance, it needs to go indulge in an 80's movie training montage to get ready for this column. And yes, in case you were wondering, Stan Bush and Vince Dicola will feature prominently.

After a rather extended hiatus from the leveling grind, we here at Arcane Brilliance (and when I say "we," I pretty much mean "me," and when I say "pretty much," I mean "absolutely." I fact, I'm not sure why I even said "we" in the first place. Just forget I said anything. Let's move on, shall we?) are finally ready to continue with our series of overly wordy leveling guides this week. Here's what we've covered thus far (and, yes, I'm aware that I continue to use the first-person plural when referring to myself. I'm a very confused individual.):

Part 1: Getting started

Part 2: Levels 1-10

Part 3: Levels 11-20

We begin today's installment at the grand old level of 21. Your mage is freshly bemounted (That word doesn't actually exist, but I think it should) and ready to take on the world. Chances are you're preparing to move into your third major zone. From this point on, you have a great deal of freedom in choosing where you want to quest. I'd recommend an add-on like Cartographer, or a website like mapwow (just check the box that says "Show names for zones") to see a map that tells you the appropriate levels of the zones around you, so you can pick a place to make your home for the next 5-10 levels. Once you've selected a destination, mount up and head that way. Stick to the road if you decide to travel through any higher-level zones in-between, and be sure to pick up any flight paths you pass during the trip.

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

World of WarCrafts: Flickpainting and a playtime playlist


World of WarCrafts spotlights art and creativity by WoW players, including fan art, cooking, comics, cosplay, music and fan fiction. Show us how you express yourself; contact our tips line (attention: World of WarCrafts) with your not-for-profit, WoW-inspired creations.

In the wake of the torrential magnificence of the cosplayers at BlizzCon and Dragon*Con in recent weeks, we're going to dial back the sheer creative force this week. Let's catch up with more humble creative efforts with a new take on an old favorite (yes, it's another take on fabric painting) plus a playlist of WoW machinima and songs designed especially as an accompaniment to your playtime.

Flickpainting

Serthida of US Bloodhoof-H sent us yet another fresh take on Sugarrat's wildly popular bleach shirt. Serthida has created a bandana, but the approach works equally well on tees and other fabric.

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Filed under: Machinima, Fan stuff, Features, Fan art, World of WarCrafts

Arcane Brilliance: Making your Mage raid-worthy, part 2

Welcome to the latest Arcane Brilliance, the weekly Mage column that believes there's no such thing as a wrong time to turn something into a sheep. Unless it was already a sheep to begin with. Then it would probably have been better to turn it into a pig or a rabbit or something. Or maybe just hit it with a Pyroblast. Mmmm. Lamb chops. What were we talking about again?

If you missed last week, here's a link to click on so you can catch up. If you can't be bothered to read the first part of this column, let me summarize the idea here: we're discussing ways to get your Mage all decked out in epic, raid-worthy gear without ever actually entering a raid instance. Now, more than ever before, we have so many options for obtaining raid-quality gear that actually raiding for it seems almost...old-fashioned.

Last week we talked about 5-mans in both their normal and heroic varieties, focusing on Trial of the Champion, because duh. But maybe you don't want to do 5-mans. Maybe your guildies aren't on, and maybe you hate pugs. Maybe you are a Mage, and because there are eighty-four DPSers looking for group for every one tank or healer, you threw your hands up after an hour of trying to get a group and went off to do dailies.

Well good news, everyone! Doing those dailies can get you epics too! Yes, it is entirely possible--even if you happen to be the guy on your server who ninjas gear in pugs and sucks at everything to the point that nobody invites you to groups anymore--to fill just every slot of your gear with sparkly purples without doing any instances of any kind. Isn't that wonderful? It tends to take a bit longer, overall, but these alternative methods for obtaining gear can be perfect for those of us who simply don't have a lot of time to commit to a group. Simply log in, craft an epic cloak, do a daily quest or two, blast out a couple Arena matches, and then repeat for a few weeks, and eventually you'll have epics too. Anyway, nice talking to you, see you next week! Wait...what's that? You want details? Oh fine. Clicky clicky.

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Filed under: Mage, Blacksmithing, Tailoring, Items, Analysis / Opinion, Tips, PvP, Quests, Jewelcrafting, Features, Raiding, Factions, Guides, Classes, Alts, (Mage) Arcane Brilliance, Inscription

Arcane Brilliance: Making your Mage raid-worthy, part 1


Welcome to another Arcane Brilliance, the weekly Mage column that asks all the tough questions, and then Ice Blocks before the tough answers one-shot it.

A little while after Wrath hit, Arcane Brilliance posted a column on how to gear your Mage up for Naxx. Several things have changed since then:

  1. Pretty much everything I wrote then is now wrong.
  2. You don't really gear for Naxx anymore. Naxx is now a place you go in order to gear up for other places.
  3. Trial of the Champion.
Knowing these things, I thought an updated gearing column might be in order. So if you're raising a fledgling Mage, and level 80 is about to hit you like a truckload of Death Knights, and you're looking for the quickest way to turn green and blue into purple, look no farther. Well maybe a little farther. The column's not over yet.

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Filed under: Mage, Items, Analysis / Opinion, Tips, Instances, Features, Raiding, Guides, Classes, (Mage) Arcane Brilliance

Raid Rx: Raid bosses that brought healers to their knees - Part 3 & 4


Every week, Raid Rx will help you quarterback your healers to victory! Your host is Matt Low, the grand poobah of World of Matticus and a founder of No Stock UI, a new WoW blog for all things UI, macro, and addon related. Ever wondered what were the hardest fights to heal in the game? Based solely on my opinion and experience, here's a list counting down from number 5 to number 1, along with everyone's favourite "Honorable Mentions" list to follow!

Before continuing with reading the list, I'd strongly suggest you check out part 1 and part 2. Healers have a unique role they play. Almost none of their time is spent with bosses in their crosshairs or target frames. Us healers are busy making sure everyone is alive so they can kill the boss while the rest of us hold down the fort.

Enough with the preamble. Let's find out what the biggest pain in the ass bosses were from number 5 to number 1 are.

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Filed under: Druid, Paladin, Priest, Shaman, Analysis / Opinion, Features, Raiding, Raid Rx (Raid Healing)

Arcane Brilliance: What Cataclysm will mean to Mages, part 2


Welcome to the latest edition of Arcane Brilliance, the weekly Mage column and internet meeting place for IHATEWARLOCKS. If you can't remember what that acronym stands for, you can check last week's column, about two paragraphs from the end. If you can't be bothered, it doesn't matter. The name says it all, really.

When I was growing up, way back at the dawn of time, in the late eighties, I didn't have access to a lot of games. It wasn't like it is now, where I have an unplayed backlog of quality electronic entertainment so deep my house reeks of shrinkwrap and unfulfilled potential. No, back then, I remember saving my pennies for an entire summer with an eye on getting a new game, then going to the game store and having a choice between Lufia and 7th Saga. I chose 7th Saga (mostly because you could be a robot in that one), and even though time hasn't been particularly kind to that game, it still holds a special place in my heart. You know why? Because I played it. I played the crap out of it, and when I finished it, I started over and played it again. And the next time I saved up enough money for another game, or tricked a relative into buying one for me, I snagged Lufia, and repeated the process.

With the really great games--the Chrono Triggers, the Secrets of Mana, the Shining Forces--I played them so many times I came to the point where my fondest wish was that I could discover a way to excise them from my brain...to selectively forget I'd ever played them so I could plug them back in and experience their unique joys afresh. Yes, back in the late eighties and early nineties, we were pretty starved for games. But the ones we had, we loved.

What does this have to do with anything? Nothing really, just thought I'd share. Ok fine. Read on, I promise I'll find a flimsy way to tie it in to the actual subject of this week's column.

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Filed under: Mage, Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Expansions, Features, Classes, Talents, Alts, (Mage) Arcane Brilliance, Cataclysm, Archaeology

We have a Tabard: To 25-mans, and beyond!

Looking for a guild? Well, you can join ours! We have a tabard and everything! Check back every Friday for Amanda Dean talking about guilds and guild leadership in We Have a Tabard.

Founding and nurturing an up-and-coming raid guild can be quite a daunting task. We see it every day in trade chat <New Guild Name> is now recruiting players of all levels. "We're a fun, friendly guild that regularly raids 10-mans and is looking to build our 25-man team. We have a tabard, bank tabs, and Ventrilo. PST if you're interested." The bark is always the same, the only difference is the number of spelling errors. How do you gracefully move from 10 to 25-man content?

If that's your guild, first of all, congratulations on some early success in progress in getting to 10-man raids. When you're not quite there, you have a few options are a few options, all of which have their upsides and their downsides. You can pug into 25-man content, you can run guild raids and take pugs along, you can work with another guild, or you can be content with 10-man content. Let's take a moment to explore each of the options.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Guilds, Features, Raiding, (Guild Leadership) We Have a Tabard

Arcane Brilliance: Mage changes on the patch 3.2.2 PTR


Welcome to the latest edition of Arcane Brilliance, the weekly Mage column that unites Mages everywhere in brotherhood, friendship, and a mutual desire to set Warlocks on fire.


So, I was all set to write a lengthy diatribe this week on the woes of the Arcane tree. I was going to compare their plight to the aliens in the District 9 trailer, which I totally plan on watching this weekend. Both are oppressed groups, both possess powerful weapons nobody can use properly anymore, and both have spaceships that ran out of gas above South Africa. I was going to bemoan such things as Arcane's inadequate DPS, PvP survivability, and overall mana inefficiency. It was going to be overly-dramatic and incredibly whiny. Warlocks were going to drink from the well of my tears, and find them delicious.

Then this happened.

In case links frighten you, or you can't be bothered to read past the notes for other classes, or just get distracted every time you read about the revamped Onyxia raid we're getting (like me), I'll helpfully re-post the Mage notes below.

Mages
  • Arcane Blast: The buff from using this ability now stacks up to 4 times instead of 3, and each application increases mana cost by 130% instead of 200%.
  • Talents

    • Arcane

      • Missile Barrage: The effect from triggering this talent now removes the mana cost of Arcane Missiles. In addition, the chance for Arcane Blast to trigger this talent is now 8/16/24/32/40%. All other listed spells continue to have a 4/8/12/16/20% chance to trigger it.

Take a moment. Digest that. Consider the implications. Then follow me past the break.

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

Arcane Brilliance: 6 essential Mage add-ons for PvE


Welcome to another Arcane Brilliance, the weekly Mage column that celebrates everything Mageworthy and thinks Warlocks smell funny.

I have a buddy who doesn't use addons.

I know, I know. And before you ask: yes, he is a moron. It's a flaw I've learned to overlook during the years we've known each other. His rationale for not using addons seems to be a combination of mistrust for anything that isn't part of the game right out of the box and a misguided belief that addons somehow equate to a form of cheating.

Now, I'll never convince him he's wrong--even though he clearly is--but I chalk that up to the fact that he is a moron. We both know and accept the fact of his moronitude, acknowledge that after 20 years of friendship, he probably isn't going to become any less infuriating, and move on to other topics.

You see, addons are awesome. I frequently assert to anyone who cares to listen (earning me more than a few strange looks, believe you me) that believing addons are cheats simply because Blizzard didn't program them into the default UI is pretty much the same thing as considering indoor plumbing a cheat because God didn't program it into the Earth when he originally created it. Addons are the community's way of grafting functionality into the game that Blizzard should have included from the start, and that's simply how it is. And yes, I am indirectly rebuking deity for not providing mankind with toilets from the beginning. I mean, how does it make sense that we had to go thousands of years without the option of peeing indoors? That's just poor design. I fully expect to be struck down at any moment as an example to smart-asses everywhere.

Disclaimer: I am in no way asserting that not using addons makes you a moron. I'm certain there are a great many of you out there who prefer not to use addons, and I'm sure you're by and large wonderful, fully functioning human beings. All I'm saying is that my buddy isn't one of those people. Also addons are awesome. That's all I'm saying.

Ahem.

The last time we discussed Mage addons, we focused on the PvP side of things. This week: PvE.

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Filed under: Mage, Analysis / Opinion, Add-Ons, Features, Raiding, Guides, Classes, (Mage) Arcane Brilliance

Arcane Brilliance: Five things every Mage should do before they ding 80


Each week Arcane Brilliance waves its wand and conjures a column about Mages. Then Arcane Brilliance turns the column into a sheep, sets that sheep on fire, and then freezes it into a flaming-sheep-sicle. This flaming-sheep-sicle-that-used-to-be-a-Mage-column is actually tastier than you might think, but also quite deadly. Having created it, Arcane Brilliance then proceeds to find the nearest Warlock and hurl the tasty-flaming-sheep-sicle-that-used-to-be-a-Mage-column-of-death at that Warlock, killing him or her instantly. It's the flamingest, frozen-sheepingest, tasty-deathiest Warlock-killingest column on this website, let me assure you.

Contrary to popular belief, Mages do not simply spring to life at level 80. Just like other, lesser classes, we too must begin at the lowly level of one. Even Mages must put their robes on one leg at a time, place one frail foot in front of the other, and trudge across Kalimdor, the Eastern Kingdoms, Outland, and finally Northrend until our experience bars progress from the left side of the screen to the right side a total of 79 times.

Once upon a time, this process took awhile. An average trip to level 60 used to require the following:
  • Approximately 192 trips from the north end of The Barrens to the south end...on foot, uphill both ways, fending off Mankrik's wife and Chuck Norris with a stick.
  • Actually setting foot in Desolace.
  • Getting dismounted several hundred thousand times in Dustwallow Marsh because you'd strayed across three inches of water.
  • Having to wait several hours to turn in every quest in Hillsbrad Foothills, because the questgivers in Tarren Mill and Southshore are always dead.
  • Getting eaten by a giant and improbably stealthy Devilsaur in Un'Goro Crater at least a million times, and always as far from the nearest graveyard as possible.
This is all fact. Sadly (or totally not, depending on how sado-masochistic you are), leveling is no longer nearly as grueling and refining an experience as it once was. It's entirely possible to skip a whole lot of the early-game content these days, and come patch 3.2, PvP experience will allow us to skip all of it on our way to level 80. Still, there are some things I feel we're missing out on as we cruise through the old-world content these days. Follow me beyond the jump for a list of five things every Mage should do on their way to level 80.

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

Arcane Brilliance: The state of the Mage, volume 3


Every once in awhile, on a semi-regular basis, at randomly determined intervals, Arcane Brilliance (a weekly Mage column that is apparently also self-aware) likes to indulge in a little self analysis. Unsurprisingly, Arcane Brilliance's verdict is usually positive. Arcane Brilliance thinks very highly of itself, an attribute about which you may already have become painfully cognizant, if you have even briefly glanced at any Arcane Brilliances previous to this one.

Yes, we've done this before. But in a persistent game like WoW, where the nature of things are in such constant flux, I like to take a step back every now and again, gain a bit of perspective, and take a long look at the class I love and its place within that ever-fluid world. I choose this week, as we approach the second major content patch of this second expansion of the World of Warcraft, to do so once more.

On my imaginary WoW timeline (and in this case, when I say "imaginary," I mean completely made up), I have patch 3.2 as the literal midpoint of the game, halfway through the game's middle expansion. There will be one more major content patch in this expansion, and then three more expansions will follow. The next will be called "Maelstrom," followed by a fourth expansion called "Return of the Wrath of the Lich King," and finally, the long awaited but ultimately disappointing fifth expansion, titled "This is pretty much it, guys, now go buy WoW 2...um...of the Lich King." It is as logical a place as any to take a look at the state of the Mage class. Join me after the break for as much commentary as you can stand on Mages: where we've come from, where we are at this very moment, and where the class seems to be going as we march on into a future almost guaranteed to be nothing like my imaginary and completely ridiculous made-up timeline.

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

Arcane Brilliance: Living Bomb on the Patch 3.2 PTR is completely awesome

Each week Arcane Brilliance celebrates Independence Day in its own special way. Most people celebrate the 4th of July by setting off explosive devices of varying sizes. In similar fashion, Arcane Brilliance also enjoys blowing things up. The difference is that whereas most people tend to set off pretty fireworks, Arcane Brilliance prefers to cause Warlocks to explode. The result isn't nearly as pretty, but to Arcane Brilliance, it has its own very unique charm.

I don't know if you're trying out the patch 3.2 PTR or not, but if you are, you should go out and mess with Living Bomb. Like, right now. Go cast it on some things. That's right, I said things with an "s" on the end. As in plural. As in more than one thing. Watch those things burn to death simultaneously. Rejoice.

Yes, Blizzard's present to Mages on this day when the United States celebrates its Declaration of Independence from foreign rule is apparently the ability to blow up multiple targets with Living Bomb. On the PTR, you can now have Living Bomb up on as many targets as you can feasibly cast it on before its duration or your mana pool expires. The tooltip doesn't yet reflect the change, but Ghostcrawler has confirmed that this is not a bug, and that Blizzard is intentionally testing the idea.

How awesome would this change be? Read on after the break to hear my take on it, but let me just say that on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being not very awesome and 10 being more awesome than anything, this change would make the scale explode on a molecular level and then reform over billions of years into a new planet of awesome.

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

Breakfast Topic: Is WoW too complex?

As I said the other day, we've talked about the dumbed-down argument quite a few times before, but I think this is the first time I've ever heard the opposite argument put forth so succinctly: Tadaa asks, over on the forums, "Is WoW getting too complex?" Longtime players will probably say no at first glance -- the game has been streamlined a lot since it first game out, and things that took up much of your time previously (tracking quests, looking up quest targets, dealing with respecs, and finding groups) now have systems built into the game that let you get past them easily. But think of what it would be like to step into Azeroth nowadays -- instead of just a chat channel where you can find groups, there's a whole system with terms like "damage" and "tank" in there. On first glance, it might be tough to figure out. And then there's things like resilience and Replenishment (which some experienced players don't even fully understand), and even things we think of as helpful features (getting pets and currency out of our inventory) can be super confusing for new players: where did that pet go that I just clicked on, or that badge that I just saw looted to me in the combat window?

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Fan stuff, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Breakfast Topics

Arcane Brilliance: More questions than answers

Each week Arcane Brilliance endeavors to bring you all the latest news and notes from the land of Mages. This week, the subject is questions and the answers they conjure forth. The way it works is this: you wiggle your fingers for a while, ask some questions, and then poof! Blizzard gives you a cinnamon roll and a glass of water and sends you on your way.

I'm not sure what I was expecting, really, when Blizzard proposed this whole "class Q&A" series over on the official forums. When the initial post showed up, asking us to pose questions of the development team, Mages everywhere seized the opportunity to air grievances, request clarification, and make suggestions. The thread quickly swelled to epic proportions, and I waited, intensely curious, for Ghostcrawler's response. How many of our questions would be answered, and in how much detail? How much concrete information would we get? Which of the issues raised in the thread would be addressed, instead of just glossed over?

We got our answer post last week, and it turns out the answer to almost all of those questions appears to be: "Not a whole lot."

Join me after the break where we'll break it down Hammer-style.

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Filed under: Mage, Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, PvP, Raiding, Classes, Talents, (Mage) Arcane Brilliance, Forums

Arcane Brilliance: Patch 3.2 for Mages


Each week Arcane Brilliance sits down to write a column about Mages and all things Mageworthy. Big news this week in Mageville: Patch 3.2 is hitting the PTRs. And we all know what that means -- new Mage cat forms. Finally.

Having had some time to ingest the 3.2 PTR patch notes, I feel I can now speak about them in a calm, rational manner. The PTR (and all of the additional changes that tend to take place therein) is only just beginning, and yet there are already so many nuggets of newness to devour that my news-stomach feels full to the bursting point. The Isle of Conquest... the death of 2v2 Arenas... Engineering becoming cooler... Emblems of Conquest dropping from heroics (?!)... the fact that Blizzard is now shutting all twinks away together in their own battlegrounds, exiled from the general populace, where they can only pwn each other all day long, until one day Kurt Russell is sent in to rescue the president after Air Force One crashes there... there's simply so much to take in that it's been a little bit difficult to process it all.

And yes, once again, looking at those patch notes, I can't help but feel a bit underwhelmed at the 3 lines Mages got. Does every other class really need that much more fixing than us? Really? Still, what's there deserves some analysis. We're not getting much, fellow Mages, but what we are getting is fairly significant. So let's all stop staring at the 72 changes Death Knights and Paladins got for a few minutes and have a little talk about the notes for Mages, such as they are.

One nice thing about the lack of changes we're getting: according to the brand new Mage Q&A, Blizzard thinks we're fine, which of course explains why we're not getting messed around with. More on that next week, after I've had a chance to make my peace with God and get my affairs in order. In fact, Blizzard has long suggested a direct corollary between the amount of changes a class is receiving and the general status of the class. Looking at the patch notes, I can't help but notice the following: Mage changes: 3... Warlock changes: 8. I'm looking at this as statistical proof that Warlocks are almost three times as screwed up as Mages. It's good to see Blizzard accept what I have always known: Mages are way better than Warlocks. Just like I've always said.

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

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