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Arcane Brilliance: Patch 5.1 preview for mages

Ice Barrier
Every week, WoW Insider brings you Arcane Brilliance for arcane, fire and frost mages. This week we realize there's a significant patch coming out any minute now and we haven't even mentioned it yet. Seriously, didn't we just get a whole expansion like yesterday? I'm still trying to figure out what a Shado-Pan is. I hope it's something I can use to make pancakes.

So the build of patch 5.1 that's currently up on the PTR is tagged as a release candidate, which means that the patch could legitimately drop any week now. It's time we discuss it.

We're getting new factions, which thank God, because I keep saying to myself "Self? I sure wish we had more daily quests to do," which my self responds to by punching me in the damn mouth. We're getting a fight club Brawler's Guild to distract us from all those dailies. They're bringing back Wintergrasp and Tol'Barad! We can solo all the old raids without being in a raid group! And of course, we're getting the requisite bunch of tweaks and fixes and quality of life improvements that always come with a patch like this.

But as always, I'm more focused on the changes that specifically affect mages. And while there's nothing here that will make or break the class, there are some class changes in 5.1 that will have a definite impact on the mage class as we delve further into Pandaria.

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

Arcane Brilliance: MoP talent calculator changes for mages, part 2

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Arcane Brilliance for arcane, fire and frost mages. This week, we finish what we started in our last cloumn, which will involve wild speculation, irresponsible levels of optimism, and a giddy and in all likelihood unwarranted sense of unchecked excitement about tooltips.

If you missed part one, what were you thinking? We talked about the updated Mists of Pandaria talents and even made some disparaging comments about warlocks. It was super fun -- you should go check it out. But hurry up about it.

Because we have new spells to discuss.

Like that one up there in the picture. It's rad.

Arcane spells

Arcane Charge An Arcane Charge, generated by Arcane Blast and Arcane Missiles, and consumed by Arcane Barrage. Stacks up to 4 times (Passive).

This is a brand new spell, and it's by far the single biggest game-changer for arcane mages in the new calculator. You pick it up if you spec arcane at level 10, alongside good old Arcane Blast, and it changes how that spell works, along with every other major arcane nuke.

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

Encrypted Text: Breaking down tier 12

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Encrypted Text for assassination, combat and subtlety rogues. Chase Christian will be your guide to the world of shadows every Wednesday. This week, we'll be discussing the upcoming patch 4.2 and our new tier set. Feel free to email me with any article suggestions or feedback!

In case you haven't heard, the upcoming patch 4.2 is currently on the PTR. The patch notes currently include a ton of important rogue changes. First of all, Blind is getting buffed. In PvE situations, it will now last up to a minute. Also, Blizzard is unbuffing Stealth for rogues a bit, as Stealth will start its cooldown upon leaving Stealth, not entering it. I had always assumed that was an unintentional change, anyway. In addition, most crowd control abilities are going to be just like Sap, so that the casters can use them without pulling aggro. Like I said, there's a ton of major changes coming for the rogue class!

In all seriousness, I am a bit cheesed off that we didn't see any damage improvements with the patch. You've all heard my spiel about how rogues are the only pure melee DPS class and how that necessitates our having higher DPS than anyone else. Rogues are very "middle of the pack" right now, with the abominable hunters and warriors typically surpassing us in equal gear. In particular, our effectiveness drops sharply in heroic raids, where it can be downright dangerous to be in melee range. Either way, our raids need someone soak up all the rogue gear, so an analysis of the upcoming rogue tier 12 set is in order.

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Filed under: Rogue, (Rogue) Encrypted Text

Arcane Brilliance: Assorted patch 4.1 thoughts

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Arcane Brilliance for arcane, fire and frost mages. This week, we take a break from slaughtering trolls and digging up ancient relics long enough to discuss our early impressions of patch 4.1. My first impression: Cobraaaaaa!

The days and weeks following a major content patch are always an adventure. Suddenly Azeroth becomes the Wild West, with unexplored frontiers awaiting over every mountain, untamed vistas as far as the eye can see, and far, far too many people wandering around who haven't bathed in months.

Patch 4.1 has been no exception. Logging in on patch day is a bit like going to sleep in one world and waking up in another, one where up is down, left is right, Olivia has brown hair and wears tight shirts, and Walter Bishop has an intact brain and is sleeping with some Asian chick. You never know when you're going to discover some random new nugget of craziness that wasn't in the patch notes. You also never know when you'll be disconnected in the middle of a boss fight, but hey, patch days are patchy.

It's only been a few days, but undoubtedly you've noticed some good, some bad, and some weird new things lurking about the fringes of this digital world we spend time in. Let's take a look at some of the more mage-specific tidbits, shall we?

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

Arcane Brilliance: Perfecting the fire tree

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Arcane Brilliance for arcane, fire and frost mages. This week, though, it's mostly for fire mages, a spec that isn't at all broken. And yet, here we go, spending a thousand words or so endeavoring to fix it, just going to show that mages, given the opportunity, can and will complain about absolutely anything.

When I started this triumvirate of columns highlighting the shortcomings of the three mage trees, I knew that this would be the point at which I would start having problems. See, things were pretty easy with the arcane and frost trees. You can find those two previous columns behind the following links:
Both of those trees have real problems. You remember when you were a kid and you didn't want to eat your mom's meatloaf because it looked and smelled like something left in the wake of a mule with irritable bowels? And then she'd tell you to eat it because kids in whatever African country happened to be having a famine that year had it way worse than you? That's how frost and arcane mages want to respond when fire mages complain.

You think you have problems? Well how about I trade you my Arcane Barrage for your moving Scorches? See what kind of problems you have then.

The fire tree is flat-out incredible right now. It's near the top of the damage charts at the highest levels of Cataclysm raiding, the talent tree is spectacularly designed from top to bottom, and most importantly, the spec is just really fun to play.

Still, there are a couple of nagging issues -- annoyances that, if addressed, might just result in the game's first truly perfect spec. I think that's a noble goal, and we're gathered here today in pursuit of it.

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

Arcane Brilliance: Patch 4.1 PTR for mages, (very) early edition

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Arcane Brilliance for arcane, fire and frost mages. This week, we discuss the upcoming patch 4.1, which hit the PTR in the wee hours of Thursday here in the North Americas, sending WoW bloggers everywhere into an early morning, sleep-deprived fit of feverish typing, followed by a deep and possibly fatal sugar and caffeine coma. For those who were lost, we mourn you -- but not for long because we gots deadlines, yo.

So yeah. In case you've been stranded in some Mesopotamian nation or another without internet access for the past few days, we've got a new patch on the PTR. It's not the most earth-shattering patch we've seen, but for some reason I'm just inordinately excited about it. I woke up this morning with dreams of raptors, tiger/panthers, and armored bears fresh in my mind. I was quite sad when Zul'Gurub vanished from the game, but every time I flew over that part of Stranglethorn Vale and saw that the ancient troll city was still there, empty and tigerless, I felt a surge of hope that until the structures themselves vanished, the instance wasn't truly gone.

Just the idea that Blizzard is willing to take old raids and turn them into heroic 5-mans for me to churn through in my daily valor point farming efforts is a cause for celebration. Though old 5-mans get new life whenever you level a new alt through the old content, no single part of the game falls into misuse more completely than obsolete endgame content. To see some of it repurposed in such a relevant way, well ... I'm just giddy. Like a schoolgirl, only male and 30ish. Similar outfits, though. Cough.

So there's a lot there to look forward to, you may be saying, but what about mages? I come here to read about magecraft and also to hear about how warlocks drink their own urine. Where's the info on the parts of the patch that are specific to me? I hear you, reader who I just made up. Read on, and we'll talk all about the few but significant mage changes we can expect in patch 4.1.

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

Ignite munching on its way out, one way or another

If you're a fire mage, chances are good that you've had to deal with an annoying bug that's been dubbed "Ignite munching" -- essentially, you're not getting the full benefit from Ignite due to Venus being in retrograde, or swamp gas reflecting off a weather balloon. Or something. I read the Wowpedia article, and I still don't really understand the bug. But Blizzard does, apparently! And they want to fix it.

Community Manager Bashiok says that the likely route will be simply making it so Ignite can't proc off periodic damage, which in theory shouldn't be a DPS loss at all, since Ignite will actually work at that point. If it does turn out to be a DPS loss, he says they can always adjust fire DPS in other ways.

So when can you expect the change? A future patch, apparently, since Bashiok says that this is the kind of thing they just don't like to hotfix, due to the unintended consequences it might have. At least it's in the pipeline.

Every week, Arcane Brilliance teleports you inside the wonderful world of mages and then hurls a Fireball in your face. Check out our recent Cataclysm 101 guide for new mages or our mage Thanksgiving spectacular. Until next week, keep the mage-train a-rollin'.

Filed under: Mage

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: 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

Arcane Brilliance: Fire 101

It's time again for Arcane Brilliance, the weekly mage column that believes there is no such thing as too much Pyroblast. You can certainly have not enough Pyroblast, as any fire mage who is desperately praying to the RNG gods for a second consecutive crit so that Hot Streak will grant him an instant one can attest. But you can never have too much. Never.

Since publishing Arcane 101 and Frost 101, for our series of class 101 guides, I've received numerous requests for Fire 101. Where is it? When is it coming? Why haven't you written it yet? There's even one guy who I swear has emailed me pretty much daily inquiring as to Fire 101's whereabouts. These emails progressed steadily in their tone and verbiage from mild annoyance to frustrated desperation, to thinly veiled threats to do me bodily harm. It wasn't long before the emails began coming with increasingly creepy pictures attached: first one of a road map with a thumbtack in the southwestern portion of Nevada, then one of the "Welcome to Las Vegas" sign, then one of the street where I live, then one of my house, my driveway, and so on. The picture contained in yesterday's email was of a naked man who wasn't me standing in my bathroom brandishing a large knife. So, I've decided that today is the day!

Now, please ... get out of my bathroom, crazynakedguy@iwillstabyouinthefacechrisbelt.com.

As always, these posts come with a small disclaimer: these are meant to be basic guides covering a general overview of the spec from a PvE perspective. This one is meant as an introduction to Fire. It will not help you maximize your DPS on heroic 25-man Lich King. It will, however, help you get some idea of what the fire spec is, and how to go about playing it.

Without further ado, I bring you Fire 101.

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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

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

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