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Posts with tag mage-column

Arcane Brilliance: A timely discussion

A photograph of antique timepieces and watches
Every other week, WoW Insider brings you Arcane Brilliance for arcane, fire and frost mages. Stacey Landry is the resident mage here, bender of space and time, conjurer of delicious confectioneries and expert at dressing well while setting things on fire.

I'm interrupting my planned final installment in the Challenge Mode tips series to talk about a more pressing topic. Things have really been heating up in the mage community over the past few days. (I'm sorry, I couldn't help it).

It all started when Celestalon made his fateful tweet about button bloat, asking what ability we worried about losing that might potentially be cut. Discussions about button bloat have happened in the recent past, but this sparked the discussion anew. A few mages suggested Alter Time might be a suitable candidate for a variety of reasons. More mages began to speak up that were vehemently opposed to its removal. Both sides became more vocal and some heated forum posts were created.

I don't mention this all to sow any more discord. At the end of the day, we're all robe-wearing, spell-flinging casters of magic. I'd like to see things kept civil. But it's a worthwhile discussion to have, if a "cut" is coming (and all evidence suggests that it is), what could we stand to lose and why?

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Filed under: Mage, (Mage) Arcane Brilliance

Arcane Brilliance: Fun and frivolity for mages

A female draenei mage casts many portal spells in one location.
Every other week, WoW Insider brings you Arcane Brilliance for arcane, fire and frost mages. Stacey Landry is the resident mage here, bender of space and time, conjurer of delicious confectioneries and expert at dressing well while setting things on fire.

I know that some of you who read this column may not be full-time mages. Some of you may have mage alts. Some of you are warlocks - actually an alarming number of you are warlocks, I think that you secretly like us. That's okay, you could always make a mage and be eight billion times more awesome. We'll wait.

That's not what I'm here to talk about today, though. I know that sometimes as a DPS player it can become easy to get caught up in numbers. Best in slot gear, logs, damage done - all of that. I'm not saying that doing damage isn't fun. It is ridiculous, enemy annihilating fun. But there's more to life as a mage than that. In the spirit of the holidays, I'd like to discuss some of those more lighthearted things. They should apply to long time mages and dabblers alike, unless otherwise noted.

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Filed under: Mage, (Mage) Arcane Brilliance

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: Things I'm going to miss

It's time again for Arcane Brilliance, weekly mage column extraordinaire, and source of 99% of your daily recommended allowance of warlock hate. It's also rich in vitamin D. If you're wondering where you can get the other 1%, the answer is inside-out cheeseburgers. Very tasty, and warlock-hate is the secret ingredient.

There comes a time in everyone's life when they must say goodbye to something. My first major loss came in the summer of 1986. I wept like a little girl when the rubber band holding Snake Eyes' pelvis to his legs and torso finally snapped on that day, after a hard day of battle in which he and Storm Shadow had faced each other in mortal combat no less than twenty times. Even his ensuing career as the first, incredibly violent casualty in every firefight didn't dull the pain of that initial loss. I loved Snake Eyes! Why couldn't it have been Snow Job's stupid pelvis that snapped? For the love of God, why? Incidentally, I asked that same question when I redboxed the recent movie bearing sullying the venerable toy-line/cartoon series' good name.

And though I've spent the last few weeks laying out palm fronds and rose petals in preparation for Cataclysm's triumphant entry into the World of Warcraft, perhaps all is not as wondrous as I've made it out to be. Even in my optimism, I am becoming painfully cognizant of several aspects of the current game that I'll be missing to varying degrees once Deathwing arrives and brings with him all of his fancy new talent trees, masteries, guild perks, and approximately 11 million level 1 worgen hunters.

Yes, despite all the awesomeness in store, we mages will also be losing a few things. Follow me past the jump to gaze wistfully one last time at a few of these soon-to-be-gone relics of a bygone age.

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

Arcane Brilliance: Level 80 mage gearing road map, part 2

The dawning of another Saturday brings with it another edition of Arcane Brilliance, the weekly mage column delivered direct to your driveway by a paperboy who blinks from house to house, fending off overprotective guard dogs with the occasional conjured ball of flame and constantly demanding his two dollars (I really, really wish I could have found an actual clip of that, but yet again, YouTube has failed me). It's all pretty impressive, especially when you consider that this paperboy is also wearing a dress.

Okay, after last week's part one of this topic, many of you disagreed with my assertion that a fresh level 80 mage should attempt to upgrade his gear prior to jumping into random heroics. I understand this point of view. Farming random heroics is by far the fastest way to gear up initially, and it is true that if you find the right groups, you and your pathetic new-80 DPS may be viewed less as a liability and more of a charity project. Thinking about it, I too secretly enjoy having someone in the group who's needing on blue drops because they're honest upgrades for him. As long as we have a decently geared tank (or a healer who's capable of keeping him up even if he isn't), even a dungeon run with terrible damage dealers can go relatively smoothly.

If you wish to gear up as rapidly as possible and you don't mind the idea that you won't quite be pulling your own weight at first, then by all means, skip my first few suggestions for gearing up and head directly for the random heroics. Better yet, get together with some better-geared guildies and queue together. That way you'll always be in a good group and one that doesn't absolutely require you to be up-to-par right away.

This week, regardless of the path you've taken to get there, I'm going to assume that you've been industrious and spent a significant amount of time gearing through drops and collecting emblems in those random heroics. Here's the general road you should be following ...

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Filed under: Mage, (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

Arcane Brilliance: Macros for mages

It's time again for Arcane Brilliance, the weekly mage column that comes to you this week from the desk in my upstairs bedroom, where I sit, pantsless (as is my custom), listening to chiptunes (Anamanaguchi!) and eating a giant bowl of Corn Pops. The wife and kids are out shopping, so it's just you and me, mages. Let's do this.

I've been writing this column once a week for over two years now, and each week, I follow the same general process. First, I figure out what I'm going to write about. Then I research my chosen topic (some topics require more research for me than others) until I feel comfortable enough to speak authoritatively on the subject. Finally, I sit down and write the thing. Then I edit the crap I just wrote until it resembles cogent thought, at which point I submit it to my editors. They notify me of any still-glaring issues with the column, and after a bit more polishing, the finished product magically appears on your computer screen, usually sometime Saturday night.

The hardest part of this process, for me anyway, is usually that first part. Sure, some weeks it's easy. Maybe we just had a major content patch and there's a fresh load of class changes to discuss. Maybe I'm writing the second part of a multi-part post, so I already know going into the week what I'm sitting down to write about on Friday. But most weeks, immediately upon finishing that week's column, I begin worrying about what I'm going to write about next week. It begins as a mild itch in the very back of my mind, a little tickle reminding me that in seven days I have a column due and I have no idea what that column's going to be about. Then, as the Friday due date approaches, that itch becomes a constant gnawing dread.

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

Arcane Brilliance: A lament for Frostfire

It's time again for Arcane Brilliance, the weekly mage column that today brings you the above fan-submitted picture of an apparent gnome explosion. Incidentally, Gnome Explosion? Also the name of my 80's tribute band. We play Tuesday nights in the parking lot at Scooter's Crab Shack just off the route 17 turnpike and we're known for our Stan Bush covers.

My father was a history professor, so I've always harbored a secret affinity for the events of the past. I like timelines, backstory, and dare I say it...lore. My mother, by the way, was a warlock-hunter, and warlock parents still to this day invoke her name in dire tones to get their warlock children to eat their vegetables, but that's a story for another time.

So, in the spirit of preserving the history of all things mage-related, I'd like to bring you this brief history of the single prettiest spell in the game: Frostfire Bolt.
  • November 2008: Wrath of the Lich King is released. Mages everywhere discover that at level 75 they get access to a brand new spell, called Frostfire Bolt. It combines the effects of both Fireball and Frostbolt. Because it benefits from all talents that affect either fire and frost spells, a new elementalist spec is born. It dives into both the fire and frost trees to take every talent that can possibly improve this single spell. Blizzard wholly endorses this spec, having introduced the spell for the sole purpose of allowing such a talent configuration.
  • December 2008: As mages everywhere enter the initial stages of raiding content in the new expansion, they discover that the so-called Frostfire build is at that time the single best DPS mage spec in the game.
  • March 2010: Frostfire what? I'm sorry. I totally forgot what we were talking about. Oh yeah. That old spell. People still use that?
Now, before all three of you serious Frostfire mages still playing this game destroy me, you should probably click through to the rest of the column.

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Filed under: Mage, (Mage) Arcane Brilliance

Arcane Brilliance: Frost 101

It's the weekend again, and that means it's time for another Arcane Brilliance, the weekly mage column that would like to continue its ongoing series of "Pictures of things you're hitting that warlock in the face with." In today's installment, we'll be hitting that warlock with a large chunk of ice. As you can see, the ice has sharp edges, pointy parts, and is hurtling toward the warlock at an absolutely painful rate of speed. Other things we'll be hitting that warlock in the face with in future installments include massive balls of flame, rapid-fire salvos of arcane energy, and of course monkey feces.

To contribute to the increasingly awesome collection of guides that make up WoW.com's class 101 series, I bring you Frost 101. As with the Arcane 101 column I did a few weeks back, let me begin with what this guide is, and also with what it is not:

What it is: A general overview of the spec from a PvE perspective, directed at relative newcomers to either level 80 or the spec in general. It will provide basic idea of where to start, how to spec, how to gear, and what to do as a frost mage.

What it is not: A guide to in-depth theorycrafting, detailed hard-mode raid strategies, min-maxing, which weapon kills Sparkman fastest, how to pull off an ultimate combo, or burn an entire quarter on one play with Bo Jackson. We'll cover all of those topics on some other day. Well, maybe not all of them. But definitely the Bo Jackson run, because that was crazy.

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

Arcane Brilliance: An argument for raiding as a frost mage

Welcome to another edition of Arcane Brilliance, the weekly mage column that would like to assert the following:
  • Fact: Mages are the sparkliest class in the game.
  • Fact: Sparkles are awesome.
  • Fact: Warlocks have poor personal hygiene and generally smell funny.
None of these assertions can be disputed.


Hey, mages! Let's have an argument.

Well... maybe not so much an argument per se, because no matter how you slice it, an equally geared frost mage is going to do less overall DPS than a fire or arcane mage... but we'll definitely be having a discussion.

Here's a general format for how this discussion will take place:
  1. I will present my reasons why raiding as a frost mage is viable.
  2. You will then tell me why I am wrong.
You may be asking yourself: Christian, what has provoked this sudden defense of frost magery? You play an arcane mage! Also, where are your pants?

To your first question, I would say, "yes, you're right. But in preparation for writing my forthcoming Frost 101 column, I have been toying with a secondary frost spec, and finding it a great deal of fun." To your second question, about the whereabouts of my trousers, I would say stop watching my webcam. Really, you knew what you were getting into when you clicked that link.

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

Arcane Brilliance: Patch 3.3.3 PTR changes for mages

It's time again for Arcane Brilliance, the weekly mage column that wants to point out that while gnomes often come up...er...short...when compared to the other races, they do have one special feature that always looks larger by comparison. Their spells are huge! Wait...what did you think I was talking about?

So anyway. It's always an exciting time around here when a new patch hits the PTR. We all wake up, head down to the living room and gather beneath the tree to open our presents. Sometimes the bounty is rich, and we reap a choice harvest of new content and features. Other times the crop is more meager. And while patch 3.3.3 doesn't seem to have brought with it the largest pile of new stuff we've ever seen, it's turning out to be a bit more generous than I'd have previously suspected.

Yes, for those of us who play this game, a new patch is just like Christmas. You just never know what you're going to get. Will that gaily wrapped parcel contain an N64? Or a hideous sweater? A huge buff? Or a soul-crushing nerf? Let's all head over to the PTR together and start unwrapping, shall we?

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

Arcane Brilliance: What to do with your trinket slots, part 2

Welcome to another edition of Arcane Brilliance, the weekly mage column that would like to say to all of the warlocks who sneak in here each week, skulking about in the shadows, wearing dark clothing and eyeliner and hating their dads, and then like to crow in the comments section about how I've inadvertently provided them with a warlock guide of some type because warlocks generally use the same gear as mages:

Thanks for the pageviews!


So last week we talked about trinkets. Specifically, the kinds of trinkets a new level 80 mage might want to keep his eyes peeled for. This week, we're going a step farther. Already pimped out in full tier 9 and sporting an Abyssal Rune/Talisman of Resurgence combo? Looking over the Lich King's loot table with a critical eye? In a guild that routinely tackles hard-modes? Let's look at some of the trinkets for which you should be on the hunt.

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

Arcane Brilliance: What to do with your trinket slots, Part 1

It's time again for another Arcane Brilliance, the weekly mage column that thinks nothing's prettier than a mage on a balcony in Dalaran, tearing through the fabric of space with a violent explosion of arcane energy.

Ah...best in slot.

In a game that is--stripped to its most basic components--about obtaining better and better gear, it's natural that eventually, you'd begin wondering what the holy grail is. What is the ultimate goal? Which piece of gear is actually, finally, at the end of the day, the best? And how long until the next patch takes it from best in slot to third or fourth-best in slot?

In most cases, this isn't especially difficult to determine. Which item has the best stats? If one cloak has 80 spellpower, and another has 90, chances are good that you can identify the best option of the two. Programs like Rawr can make it even easier. Plug in your character's information, and viola! Here's the robe that's best for you. But where things typically get hairy is on those final two slots: trinket #1, and trinket #2.

Unlike most of your other gear, trinkets are often more...subjective. Here are two excellent trinkets:

Reign of the Dead


Talisman of Resurgence

You're a new mage. Which one of those is better? How do you even compare them? One appears to be an apple, while the other has a decidedly orange-like quality.

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Filed under: Mage, (Mage) Arcane Brilliance

Arcane Brilliance: The state of the mage, volume 4 of 72

It's time again for another Arcane Brilliance, the weekly mage column that would like to present, once again, its multi-annual state of the mage address. My fellow mages, we are awesome.

First of all, you might be wondering why only 72 volumes. I'll be honest: it has to do with the great zombie apocalypse of 2037. I don't want to give too much away, but let's just say it severely impairs my ability to write. To be frank, the last 15 parts are pretty much just "braiiinns...warlocks....suuuuck...brains...braiiiins..." repeated over and over for a thousand words or so. After that, my zombie-self just loses interest. Some of you may wonder how those columns will be any different from the ones I write now. To you, I say bite me.

I've extolled upon the state of mages on three previous occasions. It's actually interesting to go back and look over those ancient texts from our current perspective. Oh, the silly things we were worried about back then! Fire PvP... ha! Spirit, less than useful? What a ridiculous concern! Oh... how far we've come.

Ignore my sarcasm. I'm not actually unhappy at all with the current state of mages. We are, as I stated in the opening blurb, awesome. Join me after the break and we'll look at where we are as a class in 2010.

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

Arcane Brilliance: Why I hate DPS meters

It's time again for Arcane Brilliance, the weekly mage column that used this boring screenshot of a damage meter graph for one reason and one reason only: Arcane Brilliance needs more of your pictures! There are still some languishing in Arcane Brilliance's email folder, for use in future columns, but not nearly enough. The strong initial outpouring of excellent screenshots has now petered out, and Arcane Brilliance would like to humbly request more. Send your pics to arcanebrilliance@wow.com, and see this column for the rules.

The comments section of last week's column on mage mistakes was an absolute treasure trove. It was full of wisdom, good advice, relevant in-game experiences, and the occasional trolling warlock (always welcome... we love it when the fireball-fodder comes to us... speeds the whole process up). But one comment stood out to me, so much so that I felt compelled to write an entire column about its topic. It's far too long to simply reprint here, and so I highly encourage going to the comment itself and reading it. There's actually another by the same commenter later on that is just as awesome. In fact, I will reprint one of the paragraphs from that second comment, because it pretty much encapsulates what I want to discuss this week.

Sarabande wrote:

Please don't remark on low DPS or complaining that DPS is barely above the tank's (esp. if tank is doing pretty high dmg) or constantly spam Recount in group, if everything is dying in a timely manner. This encourages the atmosphere of competition and pressures DPS into concentrating only on the numbers. If there is some kind of timer (such as HoR, VH, etc) which the DPS is not able to meet, that's a whole different thing. In fact if you happen to notice some DPS being considerate by holding back on purpose (even though most likely they want to be blowing stuff up, shooting stuff, stabbing things to death) and it's really helping, you might say something positive. That might encourage that behavior further and let the other know that that's something they might want to do as well.

This week's topic: DPS meters, and why I wish they'd just go away.

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

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