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

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

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

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

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

Arcane Brilliance: News and notes for mages from PTR patch 4.0.6

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Arcane Brilliance for arcane, fire and frost mages. This week, a magical journey awaits ... a fantastic voyage through a mystical realm. I speak, of course, of the Public Test Realm, and the wondrous patch notes that dwell therein.

Now before we begin, I should make it clear that mages aren't getting anything even remotely earth-shattering in patch 4.0.6. It's not like Blizzard is letting us autofire while moving or anything. But a patch is still a patch. Things are going to change, and though mages have been left largely un-fiddled-around-with (at least in comparison to many other classes), we do have some incoming alterations to be aware of.

So with our expectations in an appropriately subdued state, let's peek beyond the jump for an annotated look at what be happening, yo.

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

Arcane Brilliance: Cataclysm 101 for mages level 81 to 85

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Arcane Brilliance for arcane, fire and frost mages. This week, Arcane Brilliance tears itself away from flying circles around Azeroth going "ooh," "ah," and "holy crap is that the sarlac pit?" to deliver you a brief leveling guide. If you happen to be a mage and you happen to be between the levels of 80 and 85 (or someday hope to be in that level range), and you hate warlocks with a passion that borders on religious fervor, you've stopped at the right place.

Seriously, you should know that it's physically painful for me to not be playing Cataclysm right now. I hope you people appreciate my sacrifice. There are flagged warlocks right this very moment on my server questing in Vashj'ir that are not being killed, and it hurts my heart to think of it. To make up for lost time, I demand that each of you slaughter at least one warlock when next you log in. It's the least I could ask.

So, I assume that those of you who have a mage as your main are well on your way to level 85, if you haven't gotten there already. Those of you who have a mage alt or are still leveling a lowbie mage may not have even started on this portion of the mage leveling game yet. Whatever the number next to your mage's name, at some point or another, you may find yourself in the market for a mage 81-85 leveling guide. Good news, everyone! This is that leveling guide. Also, I just managed to use "mage" in a sentence 72 times. Let's begin, shall we?

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

Arcane Brilliance: Catching up on mage Cataclysm changes

Each week, Arcane Brilliance steps out of a portal from parts unknown, bringing with it a knapsack full of delicious mage content conjured expressly for your consumption. Try not to overconsume, though. Nothing's worse than waking up one morning to discover your robes don't fit and your fingers are too chubby to waggle your wand properly.

And after that culinary intro joke, it's time we got to the meat of the matter -- specifically, the Cataclysm beta and the constant mage changes going on therein. Each week (and sometimes more than once during each week), a new beta build hits that brings more new stuff for mages. Sometimes these changes are big, and sometimes they're not, but I feel like it's high time we spent a column talking about the more recent ones. I've let like five builds go by without dealing specifically with this stuff, so we'd better get going.

I figure we'll start with the most important change and move forward from there.

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

Arcane Brilliance: Mage AoE in Cataclysm, part 2


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

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

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

Arcane Brilliance: Fire mage 4.0

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

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

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

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

Arcane Brilliance: Beta wishlist

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

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

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

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

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

Arcane Brilliance: Great balls of fire

It's time again for Arcane Brilliance, the weekly mage column that asks the question: Which balls are the best? The answer, of course, is also provided by Arcane Brilliance: balls of fire. Balls of fire are the best. Wait, what kind of balls were you thinking about? That's pretty gross. But Arcane Brilliance likes where your head is.

When the Cataclysm class previews were announced by Blizzard lo those many months ago, my initial reactions were a decidedly mixed bag.

Arcane scared the crap out of me. Mana Adept? It took several weeks and many hours of therapy before I could envision any sort of scenario in which that idea didn't sound like a terrible, terrible idea.

Frost struck me as kind of meh. I gradually became more excited after I thought about it for a while, but Deathfrost and Wall of Fog simply weren't all that thrilling as initial concepts.

Fire, on the other hand, sounded awesome.

A giant ball of conjured flame that travels along a set path, sending out tendrils of destruction that incinerate anything in its path? Sexy.

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

Cataclysm Class Changes: Mage Analysis

Man, you go out of town for a few days and look what happens: Mages get Bloodlust and a warlock adulterates the mage column. Remind me never to do that again.

We'll look at the Cataclysm class preview in more detail in the coming weeks in warlock-free (I promise) verisons of Arcane Brilliance, but for now, let me unload some of my initial reactions on you.

New spells

Three spells were announced, and only one is a mechanic we're really familiar with.

Time Warp, which enters our arsenal at level 83, appears to be akin to what is arguably the single best raid buff in the game: Bloodlust/Heroism. One key difference exists, though, and that is that Time Warp will also turn mages, briefly, into rogues. Rogues in silly dresses. I really, really hope that this speed increase:
  1. is significant enough to make mages into truly mobile casters, both in PvP and PvE. I don't want a rehash of Blazing Speed, which was a fun mechanic that simply wasn't powerful enough,
  2. doesn't share a cooldown with Icy Veins (or whatever that talent's Cataclysm equivalent ends up being), or better yet, stacks with it, so as not to render that beloved spell redundant,
  3. and lasts long enough that it's worth blowing the cooldown either during the burndown phase of a fight (if somebody else isn't already using Heroism/Bloodlust) or during a high-mobility phase of a fight, simply for the haste bonus.
I'm incredibly excited about this spell, because of the three new ones, it's the only one we can safely say (with what we know now) will actually be awesome. We already know this spell's core mechanic works, and if the movement speed increase is worthwhile, this could truly be the defining spell of the expansion for mages.

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Filed under: Mage, Analysis / Opinion, Cataclysm

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