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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

Arcane Brilliance: PvPing as a Frost Mage after 3.1



Each week Arcane Brilliance brings you a column about Mages. This column used to be housed on Wowinsider, but now it's featured on some newfangled site called WoW.com. The url is a full seven letters shorter. It's crazy. where did those seven letters go? I don't know, but I blame Warlocks.

There's an old saying: you can please some Mages some of the time, but you can't please all Mages all of the time. Or something like that. Last week, several of you complained that I was spending too much time writing about PvP, while ignoring PvE completely. This will be the fifth PvP-related Arcane Brilliance in a row. Previous to that, you have to go back to October 25th of last year to find our last PvP-centric column. A short list of things that have happened since then:
  • Wrath of the Lich King was released.
  • Barack Obama became the president of these United States.
  • 5 dollar foot-longs.
  • Arcane Brilliance brought you 24 PvE columns in a row.
Seriously, guys. Make up your minds. I don't know what you want from me anymore. Anyway, on to Frost Mage PvP.

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Filed under: Mage, Analysis / Opinion, Tips, PvP, Features, Guides, Classes, (Mage) Arcane Brilliance, Battlegrounds, Arena

Arcane Brilliance: Mage addons for PvP



Each week Arcane Brilliance gets Blizzcon tickets. Yes, Arcane Brilliance always gets 1st place in the queue, and then buys as many tickets as it wants. Arcane Brilliance is just that cool. Also, Arcane Brilliance refuses to give me any. Stupid Arcane Brilliance. Stupid Blizzcon. Stupid Warlocks. Wait...what? Just go with it.

I know, I know. Two weeks ago I wrote about Arcane PvP. Last week, it was Fire. This week...I'm not writing about Frost. Why? Because I'm not ready.Seriously, I haven't played Frost PvP since Arena season 2. This week provided me with pretty much no time to respec and do some research, so Frost PvP will have to wait. Sorry, guys. Next week, I swear!

But don't fret: the PvP train is still rolling. This week, we'll tackle a subject that any Mage spec can benefit from in PvP: Addons. I've been meaning to write about these for a very long time, and since the planned column had to be put on the back burner this week, it seemed like as good a time as any to go for it. In PvP--where each second is a freaking eternity--the right addon (or lack of) can spell the difference between becoming a winner and becoming the vaguely Mage-colored liquid the Death Knight steps in on the way to kill somebody else.

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Filed under: Mage, Analysis / Opinion, PvP, Add-Ons, Features, Guides, Classes, Buffs, (Mage) Arcane Brilliance, Battlegrounds, Arena

Arcane Brilliance: PvPing as a Fire Mage after 3.1



Each week Arcane Brilliance examines the magical majesty of Mages, and usually makes fun of the wimpy whininess of Warlocks. See that? That's some crazy alliteration right there. Also, I'd like to call attention to the fact that Arcane Brilliance called Warlocks whiny. Oh, snap! Coming from a column about Mages, that has to burn, right? And no complaining in the comments section, Warlocks. Arcane Brilliance pokes good-natured fun at you every week. Don't act surprised.

I know what you're thinking. Fire? In PvP? When you buy the game, doesn't it say right there on the box: "Embark on epic quests. Form powerful alliances. Engage an ever-changing world. Just for the love of God, don't take a Fire Mage into PvP"? If I remember right, I think it does.

When I first installed this game on my computer about four years ago and quested my zombie Mage all the way to level 10, the first talent point I ever spent was in the Fire tree, and I then spent the next sixty levels happily setting things ablaze. I discovered PvP somewhere around level 45, and queued my Fire Mage and his mismatched greens that probably had agility and strength on them up for an Arathi Basin battleground. One killing blow and about 37 deaths later, I rematerialized next to the battlemaster in Undercity, uncertain and confused, but undeniably exhilarated. I proceeded to take my Fire Mage into many more battlegrounds, discovering a great many things in the process, including the value of hiding behind trees, and the wonderful things Blast Wave could do to large groups of Alliance in Alterac Valley. I considered myself an Undead hand-grenade, charging into crowds and blowing up as often as I could. My average life-span was approximately 6 seconds, but they were always a glorious six seconds.

It wasn't until I tried a Frost spec at level 70 that I realized just how ineffective I'd been.

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

Arcane Brilliance: PvPing as an Arcane Mage after 3.1



Each week Arcane Brilliance comes to work totally motivated, ready to sit down and manufacture a fantastic, insightful, entertaining column about Mages. Then Arcane Brilliance's wife brings him breakfast, because she's awesome like that, and Arcane Brilliance takes a break to eat it. Fat and happy, Arcane Brilliance flexes its fingers and gets ready to resume the creative process. Then winamp shuffles through to a song from the new Silversun Pickups album and Arcane Brilliance gets distracted again, and has to listen to the whole album before it can concentrate. Then Arcane Brilliance's kids come in the room and Arcane Brilliance plays with them for awhile. Lunch approaches, and Arcane Brilliance needs to get the column up. And, that, loyal readers, is a preemptive apology for any inaccuracy, inconsistency, misspelling, and grammatical eror that may follow this opening paragraph. Sorry!

Before we begin, let's get a couple items out of the way.

First: In case you haven't gotten it yet, or weren't aware, today is your last day to obtain Polymorph: Rabbit, at least during this calendar year. This is purchasable from the Noblegarden vendors for the low, low price of 100 Noblegarden Chocolates (it's only visible on the vendor if you're a Mage), which shouldn't take very long to obtain if you put your mind to it. Noblegarden ends tonight at 11:59pm server time, so even if you have no interest in the rest of the holiday, don't miss out on this little Mage-only perk.

Second: Mirror Images aren't stupid anymore! Yes, when the PTR for patch 3.1.2 went live, the patch notes included one tiny note for Mages, but what a note it was. Your Mirror Images will now attack only the target that you've generated the most hate from, instead of targeting whatever shiny object happens across their fields of vision first. In addition, they'll no longer break CCs whenever they feel like it. I've tested this out a bit, and I'm happy to report that it seems to be working as advertised. Rejoice, my fellow Mages: our copies are no longer ham-fisted, drooling, mouth-breathers. I'm giddy.

And with the news and notes out of the way, we are free to move on to this week's topic: PvPing as an Arcane Mage.

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

15 Minutes of Fame: Dislocated but not disconnected, Part 2

15 Minutes of Fame is our look at World of Warcraft players of all shapes and sizes – from the renowned to the relatively anonymous, the remarkable to the player next door. Tip us off to players you'd like to hear more about.

Last week, we met Lileya of Lightbringer-EU, who has a rare, lifelong condition that causes her joints dislocate at the drop of a pin. Stacking up a Lifebloom roll can literally dislocate a finger or her wrist. "I get up in the morning, and the first thing we do is check to make sure that all my joints are in place -- which they rarely are," she recounts. "I need help sitting up, and the first thing my husband says when I put my feet on the ground is 'Slowly, let's not dislocate those ankles standing up.' Each day is different but the same."

What keeps Lileya at the keyboard despite these seemingly insurmountable challenges? We visited with Lileya to explore how her love of end-game raiding and her struggle to balance a precarious collection of symptoms and physical challenges keeps her connected to WoW and to life. This week, Part 2 of our interview with this determined player.

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Filed under: Virtual selves, Features, Interviews, 15 Minutes of Fame

Arcane Brilliance: Gearing your Mage for PvP



Each week Arcane Brilliance sits around, thinking of things to put in this opening paragraph. Arcane Brilliance considers many things. Then Arcane Brilliance usually ends up going for the easy Warlock joke, because let's face it, Warlocks are pretty low-hanging fruit, and Arcane Brilliance is lazy.

Of all the new stuff patch 3.1 brought us, perhaps this single most significant change was the addition of dual specs. Suddenly everybody and their second cousins can tank (or think they can tank), and every Druid/Paladin/Shaman has a resto/holy spec waiting in the wings. Everybody rolls on everything in every dungeon because they're "gearing up for their second spec"...or third spec...or whatever.

Mages don't have multiple roles to fill. We can't use our second talent spec slot for a tank or healer build. Our choices are and always have been DPS or DPS, just as God intended. And so, the advent of dual specs have instead opened up a different kind of door for a lot of Mages: PvP.

For the first time, we can keep our mana-efficient, DPS-maximized raiding build, and still have a second PvP-centric build on stand-by. A lot of Mages are taking advantage of this, and many are taking their first real steps into the strange and somewhat intimidating world of player-versus-player combat. For the Mage making that first foray into PvP, the culture shock can be very real, and the gear gap can seem insurmountable.

Fear not. Arcane Brilliance is here to tell you how to quickly and easily close that gap. Click the link below, and we'll have you mounting Warlock heads on your wall in no time.

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Filed under: Mage, Patches, Items, Analysis / Opinion, Tips, How-tos, PvP, Guides, Classes, (Mage) Arcane Brilliance, Battlegrounds, Arena

15 Minutes of Fame: Dislocated but not disconnected

15 Minutes of Fame is our look at World of Warcraft players of all shapes and sizes – from the renowned to the relatively anonymous, the remarkable to the player next door. Tip us off to players you'd like to hear more about.

We've written about disabled gamers before, but Lileya of Lightbringer-EU brings a perspective to playing WoW that we haven't heard. Lileya's disability is a rare, lifelong condition that makes even the simplest tasks impossible some days. From her ankles to her knees, from her fingers to her shoulders, Lileya's joints dislocate at the drop of a pin. Even stacking up a Lifebloom roll can dislocate her wrist. "I don't have all that much in common with Aaron who has recovered enough that he can walk without assistance and drive, or Kalzedhan who plays for 12 to 14 hours a day, or Catten," she muses. "I have a rare genetic disorder that I have never lived without. My life is very different from theirs."

Lileya's relentlessly frank, articulate blog, In the Fringes, exposes what it's like to live with the horrifying prospect of keeping track of all your joints on a minute-by-minute basis. We visited with Lileya for a two-part interview exploring how her love of end-game raiding and her struggle to balance a precarious collection of symptoms and physical challenges keeps her connected to WoW and to life.

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Filed under: Virtual selves, Features, Interviews, 15 Minutes of Fame

Arcane Brilliance: Professions for Mages, the thrilling conclusion



Each week Arcane Brilliance brings you a column about Mages and all things Mage-related. That's right, Arcane Brilliance is nothing if not consistent. You won't find any server instability here. We're never down, we're always up, and you can always enter our instanced content. And the best part? Arcane Brilliance doesn't charge you 15 bucks a month. Although, donations are totally welcome.

So how's everything? Did you make it through patch day unscathed? Did you log in, like me, and find that your Mage's face, forearms, and feet were gone, and there was a hole through his chest (pro tip: upgrade your video card drivers more than once every three years)? Are you running out of mana at an outrageous clip? Are your crit numbers from Molten Armor up or down? Did your guild manage to make it into Ulduar yet, and if so, did you manage to snag any phat loot? Did you dual spec your Mage so he can now both DPS and DPS? I went Frostfire/Firefrost, myself. When triple-specs hit, I'm taking a Frarcano-fire spec. Mark my words.

All in all, I'd say 3.1 wasn't too bad. We have some new glyphs to play with, the Argent Tournament is good, clean fun, our mounts can swim, and we have a whole new batch of loot-pinatas to blow up. Our DPS seems to be down a bit, but we're still beating Warlocks, so I'm not going to mail any angry, expletive-laced letters to Blizzard just yet. I've written them--rest assured--but I'm not yet prepared to actually invest in stamps for them. Those things are like a buck apiece these days.

So now we turn to the third and final installment in our guide to professions for Mages. If you missed them, the first two parts can be found here and here. This week we'll investigate the merits of Blacksmithing, Leatherworking, and Engineering. As an added bonus, we'll take a quick peek at the three secondary professions and enumerate the reasons for investing in them. Yes, even though you can conjure Strudel from the very air around you with but a word and a snap of your fingers, you still need to learn how to cook

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Filed under: Mage, Herbalism, Fishing, Mining, Skinning, Alchemy, Blacksmithing, Cooking, Engineering, Leatherworking, Tailoring, Enchanting, First Aid, Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Jewelcrafting, Features, Raiding, Leveling, Guides, Classes, (Mage) Arcane Brilliance, Inscription

Arcane Brilliance: Professions for Mages, part 2



Each week Arcane Brilliance, a column about Mages, levels up. It gains 3 intellect, 2 stamina, 2 spirit, and 1 talent point. In case you were wondering, Arcane Brilliance has been leveling up every week for the past four years. That's right: Arcane Brilliance is level 208. What has Arcane Brilliance been doing with all of those talent points, you ask? Arcane Brilliance is specced 63/75/60. And yes, Arcane Brilliance still gets pwned by Lichborne in the 201-210 pvp bracket.


Last week, we took our Mages job-hunting. We looked into Tailoring and Jewelcrafting, and explored the three gathering professions. This week, our job search takes us into slightly more magical territory, as we look at the potential benefits of Enchanting, Alchemy, and Inscription. All of these professions are similar, in that they begin with vowels.

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Filed under: Mage, Alchemy, Enchanting, Analysis / Opinion, Features, Raiding, Leveling, Guides, Classes, (Mage) Arcane Brilliance, Inscription

Encrypted Text: Weapons make the Rogue

Every Wednesday, Chase Christian of Encrypted Text invites you to enter the world of shadows, as we explore the secrets and mechanics of the Rogue class. This week, we discuss the role that speed plays in Rogue weapon choices.

No matter the encounter, Rogues really only have one true role: DPS. While there's trick fights like Gluth and Sartharion where Anesthetic Poison come in handy, we're designed to take down a boss as quickly as possible. In PvP, we're defined by our ability to create short opportunities to execute a wounded opponent. With damage as our one and only purpose, it becomes crucial that we maximize our DPS output.

Min-maxing stats and using a spreadsheet for every single gem will help you squeeze the most out of your character, but you're still limited by the gear that you've got. Many Rogues, including myself, even use raiding gear in PvP. While we can overcome much of a "gear gap" by playing to our finest, there are simply things that we can't accomplish without the right tools: weapons (not gear) make the Rogue. Due to some great luck with drops over the past couple weeks, I've had a chance to pick up a few of the best Rogue weapons currently in-game. After the cut, I talk about my new experiences on the top of the Rogue weapon food chain.

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Filed under: Rogue, Items, Classes, (Rogue) Encrypted Text

Arcane Brilliance: Professions for Mages, part 1



Each week Arcane Brilliance thinks about its career as a Mage. It considers which profession to pursue, and polishes up its résumé:

Previous job-titles: Sweet DPS, Table-whore, Sheep-bot

Job skills: Can blow stuff up good. Able to conjure 400 strudels per minute (depending on lag). Can teleport. Hates Warlocks...

Now that the PTR class changes for patch 3.1 seem to have died down a bit, we can finally talk about other things. I asked last week for topic suggestions, and you guys responded in typically spectacular fashion. That's one of the best parts about writing a column for Mages: my readership is made up of freaking Mages. I can always count on you guys to be smart and insightful...as well as complete nutjobs.

Suggestions ranged from relatively normal (PvP tactics), to angry and bitter (One guy is switching his main to a Death Knight because Mages apparently suck now), to mean (I should rename the column from "Arcane Brilliance" to "QQ"), to clever (the most effective places to AoE farm, since, you know, we are the kings of AoE), to disturbing (Top 10 ways to cook and serve Warlock on a budget). Okay, so I made the last one up. Several of you thought a column on profession choices for Mages would be a good idea. So, that's what you're getting this week. Well, the first part of it. I plan to do this in installments, which may or may not come on concurring weeks. The next part will probably be coming along next Saturday, barring any crazy patch-news or my sudden demise.

Those of you who've been reading this column for awhile may remember the last time Arcane Brilliance dealt with professions for Mages. So much has changed since then--both for Mages as a class and for the professions themselves--that I felt an all-new multi-part guide was in order.

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Filed under: Mage, Herbalism, Mining, Skinning, Tailoring, Analysis / Opinion, Jewelcrafting, Leveling, Guides, Classes, (Mage) Arcane Brilliance

Breakfast Topic: Missing features


April Fools' Day came and went, and as expected, a lot of jokes popped up all over the 'Net. Of course, among the jokes we looked forward to (or dreaded, as some of you curmudgeons ranted yesterday) were the World of Warcraft-related jokes. However you might feel about April Fools', I think we all eagerly awaited Blizzard's April Fools' gag, a long-standing tradition. The European World of Warcraft site had theirs -- a Pimp my mount feature -- launch earlier than the North American gag, an RP-ization of the forums and the new Dance Battle System. Not bad, but definitely not their best prank.

Actually, the Dance Battle System was less funny to me if only because it reminded me of the one promised feature they still haven't delivered on. Remember the dance studios that were supposed to come with Wrath of the Lich King? They pruned that feature away even before Beta, but it doesn't mean we've forgotten all about it. In fact, this latest gag might've been Blizzard's way of poking fun at themselves for failing to deliver on their promise.

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Filed under: Breakfast Topics

Encrypted Text: Upcoming Rogue gear in patch 3.1

Every Wednesday, Chase Christian of Encrypted Text invites you to enter the world of shadows, as we explore the secrets and mechanics of the Rogue class. This week, we discuss the new gear coming for Rogues in the upcoming patch.

With patch 3.1's steam winding down, I predict its release in the next three weeks. Our most recent change was a simple increase to Deadly Throw's velocity: hardly groundbreaking. We should begin finalizing new builds, and planning our gear upgrade paths.

Between the Argent Tournament, Ulduar, and new PvP gear, Rogues everywhere will be very busy collecting all of the new leather gear that we'll have access to. Read on to find out where to pick up the best upgrades, and how to prepare by stockpiling now. And to any Warriors looking for a wishlist: Sorry guys, leather is for Rogues (& our pictured feline friends)!

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Filed under: Rogue, Patches, Items, Analysis / Opinion, Guides, (Rogue) Encrypted Text

Arcane Brilliance: Okay, now I like spirit



Each week Arcane Brilliance glances around to make sure there are no Death Knights in the area, then daintily tiptoes out from cover long enough to throw together a column about Mages. Usually, this ends badly for Arcane Brilliance. Out of nowhere, a big purple rope-looking thingy wraps itself around Arcane Brilliance's neck and drags it backward into a big stabby implement of some type. Arcane Brilliance tries to fight back, but finds it has been silenced three different ways and the Death Knight that just jumped it has enclosed them both beneath some kind of ugly anti-magic igloo. So, Arcane Brilliance no longer want to hear any complaints about misspelled words or grammatical errors. Arcane Brilliance is simply too busy getting ganked by Death Knights to proofread. I swear.

When I posted on Wednesday about the giant Mage Q&A session hosted by the developers, I was cautiously optimistic. The developers repeatedly assured Mages in that Q&A thread that they were keeping a close eye on our performance on the PTR, that a lot of our concerns would shake themselves out as we continued along through the testing process. Chief among these concerns of late has been the nerf to Molten Armor and its glyph, a change that tied the formerly static 5% crit buff those offered to spirit and turned out to be a nerf to the large majority of Mages and a slight buff to only the most well-geared among us. As nerfs went, it wasn't the most devastating one in recent memory, but was disproportionately reviled by Mages because it forced us to pay attention to a stat that was otherwise of little value to us. In the Q&A thread, we were told that the developers were aware of our concerns and would consider upping the spirit-to-crit conversion rate if they felt it necessary. I remained positive, but wasn't exactly holding my breath.

It appears I needn't have been skeptical. The latest PTR build already reflects a few very nice changes for those of us who like to wear robes, waggle sticks in the air, and hurl large flaming orbs of magical death at Warlocks. That's right, my fellow Mages: It appears the nerf-train has at least temporarily run itself off the rails. Follow me after the break, and we'll go over the specific changes.

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

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