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Arcane Brilliance: How to solo Magtheridon for fun and transmog

Magtheridon gets mad
Every week, WoW Insider brings you Arcane Brilliance for arcane, fire and frost mages. In good news, the most esteemed archmage Christian Belt has escaped from the alternate timeline where he was forced to perpetually watch reruns of Fox Van Allen's appearance on The Price is Right. The bad news is that this means this is Josh Myers' last mage article for a while, but he had fun while it lasted!

My mage wasn't level-capped when Magtheridon was relevant content. I was a resto shaman, content to spam my one PUG raid night a week spamming four ranks of Chain Heal on other people. I still remember those days fondly, as they were my first exposure to "real" raiding. Also, Magtheridon's Lair was considerably easier than tier 4's other 25-man raid, Gruul's Lair, and the only way to get access to your tier four chestpiece.

I first learned Magtheridon's Lair was soloable at level 85 by managing to do it on my hunter, because pet classes are overpowered (though the ones with self-healing are even more so -- I'm looking at you, Megan O'Neill!). Speaking of potent self-healing, I followed with my blood death knight, and then conquered the pit lord with my enhance shaman. The natural next choice would have been to take a warlock or maybe a feral druid, but I wanted a challenge. Also, Magelam was craving a Crystalheart Pulse-Staff, so he was my fourth choice. I ended up spending about two hours last November perfecting my strategy and have since been able to down him consistently whenever I want a quick 50 gold and some level 70 epics to sell.

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

Arcane Brilliance: 5 abilities that keep me playing my mage

A female human mage standing with her Mirror Images
Every week, WoW Insider brings you Arcane Brilliance for arcane, fire and frost mages. Christian Belt is the normal archmage, but rumor has it that he's currently trapped in one of many hell dimensions. The Simbul has gone to investigate, leaving Senior Understudy and Last Surviving Student Josh Myers to cover this week's article.

I am a gigantic nerd. I love math, and science, and testing. So when a new beta comes out and there's testing and theorycrafting and video game science to do, that's my focus. I go, "Hey, look at this shiny new spell, and what are the rotational ramifications of its existence?" And then I forget that I have work in the morning and am up till four in the morning running around Jade Forest trying to get the perfect screenshot of Nether Tempest.

I'm on vacation visiting my parents in Michigan this week, and I promised myself that part of that vacation would be to eschew plying beta for the week, since we've been pretty inseparable for the past month. Also, I'm using my significant other's laptop, and I'm not sure even my rep level would support downloading another massive file onto it. As a result, I've been playing a lot on live, and I've taken some time to remember why it is that I love playing the mage class.

There are a lot of reasons (none of them are the fire spec in PVE at the moment, but that's another post entirely), but the main one is the repertoire. Mages have a ton of abilities, and a lot of them are chock-full of flavor and awesomeness. I had to narrow this list down to my five absolute favorites, but everything from Mirror Image to Invisibility to Cone of Cold are eligible contestants too. The abilities I chose are my favorites, ones that fit the classic mage archetype while having mechanics that make sense in WoW. Also, they're shiny.

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

Arcane Brilliance: First impressions of arcane in Mists of Pandaria

Nether Tempest after kiting for a while.
Every week, WoW Insider brings you Arcane Brilliance for arcane, fire and frost mages. Christian Belt is the normal archmage, but rumor has it that he's currently trapped in one of many hell dimensions. The Simbul has gone to investigate, leaving Senior Understudy and Last Surviving Student Josh Myers to cover this week's article.

I've had a love/hate relationship with arcane. As I mentioned last week, when I first started my mage I had every intention of playing arcane ... but that was back in The Burning Crusade, when phrases like class balance and raid-viable didn't make sense to me. When my mage started growing in levels and I found out the best raiding spec for mages was destruction warlock, I jumped ship.

My mage hit level cap during the height of arcane's PvE dominance in Wrath of the Lich King, and I decided it wasn't the spec for me. When my mage capped again in Cataclysm and started preparing to raid, frost was enjoying its brief period as a semi-viable spec, and I had a secondary fire spec for Alysrazor. I haven't had much cause to go arcane lately, beyond Spine of Deathwing when we were progressing, and up until now I was pretty glad for that fact.

That is, until I hit beta. After writing my first impressions of both frost and fire and totally dropping the ball on my original arcane speculations for MoP (pro tip: Arcane Missiles is still a proc), I thought it was my duty to try out arcane. I told myself that for the sake of science and fairness, I'd give arcane a shot. After a night of streaming dungeon runs, dummy testing, and some Jade Forest leveling, I almost feel like I owe arcane a huge apology -- because in MoP, it's a legitimately fun spec.

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

Arcane Brilliance: A look at frost PvE in Mists of Pandaria

Mage using Frozen Orb
Every week, WoW Insider brings you Arcane Brilliance for arcane, fire and frost mages. Christian Belt is usually at the helm, but rumor has it Saruman has trapped him on the tower of Orthanc and he's awaiting rescue by a large, intelligent bird. Senior Understudy and Last Surviving Student Josh Myers has been charged with delivering the ring to the fires of Mount Doom and writing an article about mages in Mists of Pandaria. Chances are he'll only succeed at the latter.

I started my mage back in The Burning Crusade with the intent of playing arcane. Arcane wasn't really a feasible leveling spec back then, though, and I ended up switching to frost around the time I hit Thousand Needles. The moment I got my first real Shattered Frostbolt off, though, I was hooked. When my mage hit 85 in Cataclysm, all I wanted to do was stay frost. Thankfully, we were into patch 4.2 by this point, and frost was moderately PvE-viable at the time.

When it came time to test the beta version of frost out this week, I had high hopes. Despite my mage being fire for most of DS, frost still feels the most familiar to me, and I was able to slip back into it fairly easily. A lot of the core feeling of the spec remains unchanged, with Frostbolt, Fingers of Frosted Ice Lances, and instant Frostfire Bolts comprising much of your core rotation. There are some real noticeable changes, however, and a lot of them are for the better.

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

Arcane Brilliance: A first look at fire mages in Mists of Pandaria

Pyroblasting the third boss of Temple of the Jade Serpent
Every week, WoW Insider brings you Arcane Brilliance for arcane, fire and frost mages. This column is usually brought to you Christian Belt, rumored to be the actual chief sorcerer of King Arthur's court. Unfortunately, Morgan Le Fay seems to have cursed him with her most powerful spell: a full-time job. Resultingly, Senior Understudy and Last Surviving Student Josh Myers is covering his class this week. Arm your spitballs.

I've been a busy bee in the past day I've had Mists of Pandaria beta access. Beyond getting some testing in on the windwalker monk, playing my elemental shaman so I could write this week's Totem Talk, and getting Savior of Azeroth on my main, I spent a hefty amount of the day today playing Magelam on the beta Gilneas server. I've had a love/hate relationship with the fire spec since DS launched, as RNG and I have never been good friends. If we were members of the Dawson's Creek cast, I'd be Pacey Witter and RNG would be every female character he ever encounters. We don't get along. Don't be ashamed if you understood this metaphor; be ashamed of me for writing it.

With that in mind, I went in to test fire out on the PTR. I joined some friends from and a few puggers to try and run the Temple of the Jade Serpent, which we actually streamed from a mistweaver monk's point of view. (Note that the actual temple stream starts at about 43 minutes into the stream, so start there if you want to check it out). We managed to defeat it all, despite what seemed to be a very painful bug that made one boss fight last nearly 15 minutes -- but it gave me some excellent testing time with the fire spec.

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Filed under: Mage, (Mage) Arcane Brilliance

Arcane Brilliance: What the MoP beta means for arcane mages

Mage casting something very arcane-looking
Every week, WoW Insider brings you Arcane Brilliance for arcane, fire and frost mages. This column is usually brought to you by archmage and former Hogwarts headmaster Christian Belt, but rumor has it he's still stuck in an alternate dimension where playing World of Warcraft is state-mandated but only offers you 10 different classes of warlocks to play. Senior Understudy and Last Surviving Student Josh Myers is covering his class this week. Arm your spitballs.

Throughout Cataclysm, the arcane spec has been a strange beast. At the beginning of the expansion, it was solidly the worst mage spec due to the absurdly high cost of Arcane Blast. After some quick patch 4.1 fixes, it became our top-performing spec, especially if we had access to Shard of Woe. From that point on, arcane was a source of potent damage. While fire has become the vogue spec for Dragon Soul, arcane still is a very viable and desirable spec. Going forward into Mists of Pandaria, that all could change ... or the spec could be made even better.

Part of the source of arcane's potency this expansion has been due to how incredibly well the spec scales with intellect. While intellect provides the same spellpower to arcane mages that it does to every other caster, arcane mages' Mana Adept mastery makes the mana increase from intellect critical. Arcane Blast, the pivotal spell in arcane's rotation, has a static mana cost that is only based on mage base mana and not their mana after gear. Because of this, the more intellect you have means the more Arcane Blasts you can fit in at higher mana levels, meaning more damage through mastery.

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

Arcane Brilliance: Mage glyphs in Mists of Pandaria

Female mages of various races dancing in front of talent panes
Every week, WoW Insider brings you Arcane Brilliance for arcane, fire and frost mages -- unless, of course, Christian Belt is sucked into an timeway and is currently stuck fleeing from pterosaurs in the late Mesozoic era, allowing Josh Myers to claim his column. I won't say that's what happened this week, but don't rule it out.

The last time someone who wasn't the most Illustrious Archmage Christian Belt wrote an Arcane Brilliance, things didn't go over well. Part of that might be because it was written by that shady Tyler Caraway character, and part of it was because he secretly was a warlock disguised as a mage. I'm a DPS shaman posing as a mage, but I've got two things on my side: I raided progression as a mage through the latter half of tier 12 and the first half of tier 13, and I'm not a warlock. I'm not going to pretend I'm Archmage Pants, but I'm no squib either. Maybe Senior Understudy or Last Surviving Apprentice Josh Myers?

In totally exciting news, Mists of Pandaria's beta has opened up, much to the chagrin of my social life and my exercise routine. On Wednesday night, Boubouille from MMO-Champion set out to datamine as much information as he could glean from the install files, and thanks to his work, we were able to get our hands on a nice list of the updated glyphs currently in the beta. Spoiler alert: They're pretty awesome.

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Filed under: Mage, Analysis / Opinion, Raiding, (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

Arcane Brilliance: MoP talent calculator changes for mages, part 1

MoP talent calculator update
Every week, WoW Insider brings you Arcane Brilliance for arcane, fire and frost mages. This week we use our mystical time chicken powers to gaze into the future, which, incidentally, is so bright, we gotta wear shades. Or rather, we gotta wear mystical time chicken goggles.

No time to talk. We need to focus. A whole lot of ground to cover, guys. The Mists of Pandaria talent calculator has been updated, and all sorts of craziness be jumpin' off, yo. We've got entirely new abilities, we've got fresh takes on traditional favorites, and we've got substantial retoolings of the root mechanics of whole specs. Let's dive right in.

Talent changes

Talent tier 1 has stayed the same as the last go round, but tier 2 has a brand new ability in it, as well as a reworking of Blazing Speed that should make it a far more attractive choice.

Temporal Shield (New ability) Envelops you in a temporal shield for 4 seconds. Damage taken while shielded will be undone over 6 seconds. Not on the global cooldown. (3% base mana, Instant Cast, 25-second cooldown)

Blazing Speed Suppresses movement slowing effects and increases your movement speed by 150% for 1.50 seconds. May only be activated after taking a melee or spell hit greater than 2% of your total health. This spell may be cast while a cast time spell is in progress. (Instant cast, 25-second cooldown)

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

Arcane Brilliance: Top 5 things my mage is looking forward to in Mists of Pandaria

Kung Fu Panda Cannonball Scene
Every week, WoW Insider brings you Arcane Brilliance for arcane, fire and frost mages. This week, we look forward to our bright post-Cataclysm future. May it be warlock-free and panda-filled.

That Super Bowl commercial that inexplicably featured the guy from The Darkness singing that song that I loved back in 2003 reminded me of one thing: The end of the world is coming. We all know it. I mean, come on. When have the Mayans ever been wrong about anything? These are the people who invented basketball! Only instead of baggy shorts, tattoos, and millionaires who can't hit free throws, Mayan basketball features decapitations. I'm fully prepared to declare the Mayans right about everything ever.

So with the world coming to an end, what else do we have to look forward to other than a new World of Warcraft expansion? Well, Diablo III, I guess, but we all know that's not going to release before Armageddon (Blizzard's claiming Q2, which we all know is Blizzard-speak for "after the zombies rise up and civilization descends into chaos"). So let's just assume Blizzard's release schedule will somehow outpace the coming apocalypse, and set our sights on what may very well be the last game we'll ever buy: Mists of Pandaria.

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

Do mages really need 3 competitive PvE specs?

female mage
Every week, WoW Insider brings you Arcane Brilliance for arcane, fire and frost mages. This week, we're talking about specs, and DPS, and possibly smurfs, though I shouldn't get ahead of myself.

Patch 4.3.2 has dropped, and for mages, the only item in the patch notes is a 6% damage nerf to Fireball and Pyroblast, ostensibly to bring fire mages back in line with arcane mages for top prize in the What Spec Will My Raid Leader Expect Me to be Raiding With This Week Sweepstakes. For good or ill, every patch brings changes like this, as the spec balance carousel continues its eternal round.

That's been mage history, in a nutshell -- fire and arcane take turns pushing each other from the top of the PvE heap, and frost just shakes its head and queues for an Arena match. It's like a giant teeter-totter, with fire damage stacked on one end and arcane damage stacked on another. Blizzard goes back and forth between the ends, adding just a bit more of each type of damage or taking some away in an attempt to get the thing perfectly balanced, but try as it may, one end or the other is always sticking up in the air.

The number crunchers crunch the numbers after every damage pass and crown one spec king ... until the next pass, when the cycle repeats. And frost mages just watch and wonder when it will be their turn to go raiding.

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

Arcane Brilliance: The best trinkets for mages, patch 4.3 edition

carrot on a stick keychain
Every week, WoW Insider brings you Arcane Brilliance for arcane, fire and frost mages. This week we focus on those two most vital gear slots for making your keychain look cool: trinkets. You put them right next to your tiny NES controller and that little rubber pig that poops when you squeeze him, and so what if the trinkets on your key ring outnumber the actual keys on your key ring? Now if only we still had key rings in WoW ...

Trinkets do three things:
  1. They keep your keys from being lonely.
  2. They hurt like hell when you forget to take them out of your pocket before playing pick-up basketball.
  3. They have the potential to increase your DPS more drastically than any other single gear slot in the game.
No other gear choice we make in this game will either positively or negatively impact our raw output than the two trinkets we select, and no other loot drop can be more infuriating to wait for. With trinkets, it's imperative that you identify what you want, know where to go to get it, and then focus your efforts until you reach your goal.

With that in mind, let's go over the best trinkets available for mages in the game right now and where to go get them.

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

Arcane Brilliance: 5 ways to increase your mage's DPS right now

Undead Mage
Every week, WoW Insider brings you Arcane Brilliance for arcane, fire and frost mages. This week, we try to help you accomplish the most important thing any mage can ever do: kill something just a little bit faster.

You're a mage, so right away we know two things about you:
  1. You're awesome.
  2. You're in the business of damaging things.
We hear jokes about mages being portal-merchants/sheep-bots/cake-vendors, but our real purpose -- the only role we play that really matters -- is that of DPS. We destroy things, and we do it as quickly and efficiently as possible. And if we can't provide that service, our raid will replace us with someone who can.

So if damaging things is our business, it follows that we should always be striving to make sure business is good. We're in competition for DPS slots with literally every single other class in this game. It's in the interests of all mages that we work to improve ourselves at every opportunity. If we don't, it's entirely possible that our raid might take a warlock along instead.

And with God as my witness, I will not allow that to happen.

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Filed under: Mage, (Mage) Arcane Brilliance

Arcane Brilliance: Gearing your mage up for the Raid Finder in patch 4.3

Raid Finder
Every week, WoW Insider brings you Arcane Brilliance for arcane, fire and frost mages. This week we discuss some ways to make sure your mage's wardrobe is filled with only the prettiest dresses, most mysterious cowls, sparkliest wands, and ... er, staffiest staves.

Patch 4.3 has been with us for a good solid month now, and I sincerely hope that by now we've all escorted our mages through a good portion of the new content it offers. As all the best patches do, 4.3 has ushered in a fresh tier of gear and a new progression hierarchy to follow in getting said gear. Best of all, we have a whole new gearing tool to play with in the Raid Finder.

If you happen to be one of those mages who looks at his item level and finds it still languishing somewhere below the minimum requirements to join the battle to vanquish Deathwing, I believe a gearing guide is in order. Without further preamble, I present Arcane Brilliance's Handy Guide to Shiny Things, patch 4.3 edition.

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

Arcane Brilliance: New Year's resolutions for mages

winter veil
Every week, WoW Insider brings you Arcane Brilliance for arcane, fire and frost mages. This week, we leave 2011 behind and look toward 2012, which I predict will be the magiest year ever!

A new year is upon us, my wizardly cohorts. It is a time for reflection, a refractory period when we bask in the afterglow of the year that was and then take a quick shower to rinse off the stink of it. But most importantly, it's a time to look forward, to set new goals, to examine ourselves and determine how best to progress, to improve, and to somehow avoid ending the world in a fiery apocalypse that only John Cusack can save us from.

In that spirit, I thought this eve of the new year might be a good time to take an honest look at the mage class, examine our weak points, and conjure up some ways to shore them up in 2012. I figure we still have a at least a few months before Armageddon, and I can think of no better way to spend those last few moments of our existence than by killing as many warlocks as possible.

I'll do a full column on gearing up in 4.3 in the coming weeks, but for the time being, suffice it to say there is some phat, epic mage loot out there right now, and all you need to do is take it. Preferably from a warlock's smoking corpse, but we'll take it however it comes. We're at the point now in this expansion where the epics are flowing with almost ridiculous ease. If you've been waiting to level a mage, it has never been easier to get that mage fully kitted out in purples than it is right now. And if, for some reason, you've been neglecting your mage, now is the time to get him up to speed.

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

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