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Posts with tag mages

Arcane Brilliance: Mage leveling guide: 1-10

Welcome to another installment of Arcane Brilliance, the weekly mage column that thinks nothing goes better with strudel than a warm ball of fire.

Ok, so last week, we all clicked the "Create Character" button and selected a mage. We picked a race for that mage, gave him or her facial features, a skin tone, a hairstyle, possibly even a lower jaw, and chose a non-stupid name for our fledgling master of the arcane arts. This week, we're backing our new mage out of the garage and taking him for a spin. Interesting fact: mages actually appreciate in value the more mileage you put on them!

The first few levels can be a trying time for a new mage. A couple things you'll notice:
  1. You're wearing a skirt and wielding a stick.
  2. You're a huge wuss.
This can be quite vexing, especially if you're used to another class, possibly one that wears actual armor into battle, doesn't get a nosebleed from standing up too quickly, and isn't the dungeon master for the chess club's Dragonlance campaign. Well get used to it. You may have been on the football team before, sacking the quarterback and dating the head cheerleader, but that was before, when you were a paladin or a warrior or whatever. Now you're Bill Haverchuck. Intelligent and frail, mages are the geeks of the World of Warcraft. We might as well embrace it. We're the nerds, warriors are the jocks, and warlocks are the emo kids. The good news? Someday, they'll all be pumping our gas. At least that's what my guidance counselor always told me. Someday means soon, right?

Anyway, the fact remains that mages are wimps at low levels. Rest easy, though. It gets better.

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Filed under: Mage, Analysis / Opinion, Features, Leveling, Guides, Classes, Alts, (Mage) Arcane Brilliance

Arcane Brilliance: 6 essential Mage add-ons for PvE


Welcome to another Arcane Brilliance, the weekly Mage column that celebrates everything Mageworthy and thinks Warlocks smell funny.

I have a buddy who doesn't use addons.

I know, I know. And before you ask: yes, he is a moron. It's a flaw I've learned to overlook during the years we've known each other. His rationale for not using addons seems to be a combination of mistrust for anything that isn't part of the game right out of the box and a misguided belief that addons somehow equate to a form of cheating.

Now, I'll never convince him he's wrong--even though he clearly is--but I chalk that up to the fact that he is a moron. We both know and accept the fact of his moronitude, acknowledge that after 20 years of friendship, he probably isn't going to become any less infuriating, and move on to other topics.

You see, addons are awesome. I frequently assert to anyone who cares to listen (earning me more than a few strange looks, believe you me) that believing addons are cheats simply because Blizzard didn't program them into the default UI is pretty much the same thing as considering indoor plumbing a cheat because God didn't program it into the Earth when he originally created it. Addons are the community's way of grafting functionality into the game that Blizzard should have included from the start, and that's simply how it is. And yes, I am indirectly rebuking deity for not providing mankind with toilets from the beginning. I mean, how does it make sense that we had to go thousands of years without the option of peeing indoors? That's just poor design. I fully expect to be struck down at any moment as an example to smart-asses everywhere.

Disclaimer: I am in no way asserting that not using addons makes you a moron. I'm certain there are a great many of you out there who prefer not to use addons, and I'm sure you're by and large wonderful, fully functioning human beings. All I'm saying is that my buddy isn't one of those people. Also addons are awesome. That's all I'm saying.

Ahem.

The last time we discussed Mage addons, we focused on the PvP side of things. This week: PvE.

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Filed under: Mage, Analysis / Opinion, Add-Ons, Features, Raiding, Guides, Classes, (Mage) Arcane Brilliance

Class Q&A: Mage

Second up in the class Q&A (Shamans were first) are Mages, those lovable glass cannons. Or are they? The Q&A opens with Ghostcrawler discussing public perception of the class, with a prompt of "a lot has changed since the days when the 'glass cannon' description was applied."

General

GC describes the mage as "the iconic caster:" deals magic damage from range. They should be versatile enough to do single-target damage, AoE damage, and crowd control, and every group should want one. (I'm noticing a trend here -- GC also described Shamans as a class every group should want. I guess every group should want all classes.)

They like the different feel between the three trees is in a good place, with Frostfire possibly providing a fourth aesthetic. They have decided that "king of AoE" is no longer a good niche to put any class in, so now they're trying to give both AoE and single-target to all DPS specs (with "extra effort" to make sure mages do good AoE).

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Filed under: Mage

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

GC on Hunters and their DPS

It took a few tries, but Ghostcrawler has finally agreed to post a "state of the Hunters" on the forums, and there's both good and bad news. First of all, GC flatly lays out that Hunter DPS was too high in Naxx -- Blizzard wants Hunters to be fighting with Locks, Rogues, and Mages for top DPS, not head and shoulders above them. And Survival is still the top DPS build in PvE; while GC says it's probably not a huge increase from the other specs, they are seeing it do better consistently. That said, Hunter DPS may be a little low now, but Blizzard isn't quite sure, for two reasons. First, people are still learning the Ulduar fights, and they don't completely trust the data they've gotten so far. And second, the main goal for fights in there was supposed to be variety, so there are very few places where DPS can just go all out and test how powerful they really are. GC says you should be asking "what's my DPS in this fight," rather than just "what's my DPS?"

As for PvP, he says that the T.N.T. stuns and the big mana drains that Hunters could pull off in the past were just plain overpowered, and they won't be coming back. But as for where Hunters are going next, he says it's more of a function of nerfing other classes rather than buffing Hunters -- it's not that Hunters aren't going into Arena because they suck, it's because other classes are taking their place because they're better. He does say that Hunters are better in 5v5 (which makes sense -- Hunters have always been better from the back rather than forced into the middle of things like they might be in 3v3, and 2v2), and Blizzard is fairly OK with that, as not all classes are going to rock at all Arena levels.

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Filed under: Hunter, Analysis / Opinion, Fan stuff, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Instances, Arena

QuickArmory's Stats tool lets you browse and inspect popular talent builds

We've been covering quite a few different ways to see what players are up to in terms of talents after dual specs have been released (both 3D Armory and TalentChic have good information if you're looking for it), and here's another: Erorus at QuickArmory sent us some info on how to pull some talent demographics out of his site as well. He's created a Talent stats page that needs a little explanation, but is actually full of great info on what kinds of builds players are choosing. First, choose a class at the top, and then you'll be taken to a screen where you can see, in percentage points, the given percentage of players of that class who took those points on the tree. In other words, if you look at the Mage page, 62% (as of this writing) of Mages surveyed by the application took at least one point in Inceneration (and 61% took all the points), but only 1% of Mages put any points in Blazing Speed (probably because it sucks -- oh snap!). You can also see the percentage points by spec (by clicking the tabs at the top) and even some general distribution statistics on how people chose to spec within the dual spec system. And the main page for each class includes some percentages on glyph choices as well.

But it gets wilder -- you can even compare populations by clicking on the talents, so you can look at, for example, all the Warlocks who specced Felguard (they're using Glyph of Felguard, duh), or all of the Hunters who specced both Explosive Shot and Aimed Shot.

Very impressive. Of course, keep in mind the population here: these are only level 80 characters already in the QuickArmory system (about 12k as of this writing), so it's far from a representative sample of the entire WoW population. But then again, they're also self-selecting -- people who have put themselves into QuickArmory are likely to be more on top of good talent and glyph choices anyway. At any rate, even with the small selection, there are lots of fascinating ways to look at this talent data.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Fan stuff, Odds and ends, Talents

Ghostcrawler and the pace of change

Ghostcrawler has a nice long screed over on the forums about Blizzard's theory about change. Way back when the first few patches went into the game, Blizzard had a plan to adjust a few classes at a time -- one patch would be all about Mages, while the next would be about Rogues. But right around Burning Crusade, they changed their mind -- no more large patches, and instead it would be back to lots of smaller changes.

Of course, nowadays, whether they mean to or not, we're back to the way it was -- patch 3.1 will have pretty huge changes for all of the classes, and everyone is getting a free respec. GC says that while the "progressive patching" idea was a good one, Blizzard just doesn't have the chance to take that time -- patching is a big undertaking, and the way they change the game just plain leads to putting a lot of changes in a big patch. He would love to have the team make smaller patches more frequently (tweaking instead of a complete revamp), but the way things are now, the system just isn't set up that way.

He also reiterates that Blizzard is designing the game, not the people who complain on the forums. Blizzard listens to what their customers have to say, but they make their own decisions from there. Sometimes, that means we complain about problems that don't get fixed (Cower bug, anyone?), and sometimes it means they hear us complain about things that turn out not to be a problem (back in beta, a few forum posters claimed Death Knights would never be able to tank, and we now know that's clearly not true). We can hope for more sequential changes in the future, but GC says that right now, the way the game works is that Blizzard fixes as they can, and those fixes will come out in large chunks like 3.1.

Filed under: Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Classes, Wrath of the Lich King, Forums

Arcane Brilliance: Mage changes (or lack of) on the PTR



Each week, Arcane Brilliance reports on Mages and the ever-changing game they inhabit. This week, Arcane Brilliance has discovered, before anybody else, a couple of notes from the next build of the PTR:


Mage:
New spell: Anti-Anti-Magic Shell - Conjures a shell that makes a Mage's spells actually go through that cheap Death Knight Ability, Anti-Magic Shell, making it possible for a Mage to actually kill a Death Knight.

Death Knight:
New Spell: Anti-Anti-Anti-Magic Shell - Conjures a shell that counteracts the new Mage spell, Anti-Anti-Magic Shell.

Removed:

Warlocks

Disclaimer: Arcane Brilliance is totally lying. These patch notes could not possibly be more fake. But Arcane Brilliance can hope, right?

When I posted the Mage changes on Tuesday night, I was hoping that as the week went on we'd get some new information, perhaps some clarification or updated patch notes. Though other classes have gotten those things, Mages have not. I was also hoping that perhaps I'd be able to get my Mage on the PTR to test some of this stuff out firsthand, but that hasn't happened either. I keep checking my empty PTR character list (on the rare occasion that I can actually log in and the servers are up) with my fingers crossed and my brow furrowed, willing my bald, undead buddy to show up there, to no avail. Maybe next week.

In the meantime, I'm stuck doing what I imagine 99.9% of the rest of are doing: waiting and wondering and scouring the interwebs for info. This patch is far from finished, with the testing process barely underway. Some of the changes announced so far won't make it live in their current form, if at all, and there are undoubtedly other changes to come in future PTR builds. Today I'd like to discuss what we were told to expect, what we actually got, and what we hope for, with as little wild, unsubstantiated guesswork as possible (Actual amount of wild, unsubstantiated guesswork may vary). Follow me through the jump, won't you?

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

Arcane Brilliance: Statistically speaking



Arcane Brilliance is a Mage column on a weekly spawn timer. It shows up all of a sudden on your computer screen or your iphone and starts wandering about, waiting for somebody to come shake it down for loot. What does this rare and wondrous column drop, you may ask? It drops a magical potion that, when imbibed, grants the magical ability to waste about 15 minutes of your employer's time reading a column about Mages. Hurry up and tag it, before the guy in the next cubicle does!


I'm listening to a playlist full of old NES chiptunes as I write this, Zanac, Ninja Gaiden, Mega Man, Crystalis, Shatterhand, Tecmo Super Bowl, Legacy of the Wizard--just some awesome old stuff, some of which comes from composers who went on to become even more awesome. I love the game music from that era; I find it absolutely amazing what those guys could make that tiny sound chip do. And yes, I am a massive and unrepentant dork. Why do I bring this up? I have the playlist on shuffle, and the overworld theme from Dragon Warrior just played, and it got me thinking about this week's subject: stats.

Dragon Warrior was my first role-playing game. It was my first exposure to such concepts as experience points, and leveling up, and hit points. Stats in games of that era were pretty simple. You had strength, which affected how hard you hit things, and agility, which...made you more agile? Who knew? That was about it. Hit points measured how many whacks you could take before you died, and magic points ran out as you used spells. There wasn't a whole lot to it.

When I first started playing WoW, knowing which statistics were important to my Mage and which weren't was comparatively simple too. As you leveled, you looked for intellect and spirit. At max level, you learned the value of a few other stats, like spell crit, spell damage, and spell hit rating. Generally, if it said "spell" in front of it, your Mage wanted it. Now, though, we have so many different stats--one covering every aspect of every spell we cast, and so many different ways to customize the amounts of each that your Mage's gear has--that it can be quite daunting trying to decide which ones to prioritize. Follow me through the break where we'll discuss the various caster stats and the relative value of each to our class.

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Filed under: Mage, Analysis / Opinion, Features, Raiding, Guides, Classes, Talents, (Mage) Arcane Brilliance

The Art of War(craft): How Patch 3.0.8 changes PvP


Patch 3.0.8 brought in quite a number of changes to the game, many of which affect PvP directly. I wrote about most of the changes in the other day's column, but as you can imagine, trying to cover all the bases with all the classes can get quite hefty. So before I reach Blizzard levels of 'soon', I'm cheating and appending the rest of the class balance changes here and pretend the whole Wintergrasp fiasco never happened. Oh, and yes, that button should work now.

CLASS BALANCE

Mages
Despite all the calls for nerfs for many classes, for some reason Mages have tiptoed past the madding crowd and continued to Pyroblast unsuspecting enemies for 10k damage without anyone batting an eyelash. Maybe it's their Invisibility, I don't know, but Mages are incredibly powerful opponents in PvP but don't elicit calls for nerfs. Christian was right in saying that Frost is no longer the spec for PvP. It now shares the spotlight with Arcane, with the highest ranked Mage in the world sporting a 60/ 0/ 11 build (although a Frost-specced 20/ 0/ 51 gnome isn't far behind).

So you think Mages are strong in PvP? Well, they've just been buffed. Evocation's cooldown was reduced to four minutes, and with Arcane Mages having access to the improved Arcane Flows, they can Evocate every 2 minutes. It was never a viable tactic to try and drain a Mage, but even with the spark of hope given by the change to mana drain mechanics, Mages will never run out of mana. The extremely RNG behavior of Mirror Images Polymorphing the most unlikely targets has been curtailed somewhat with the range of the copy's Polymorph down to a mere 8 yards. This is pretty good.

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Filed under: Mage, Paladin, Analysis / Opinion, PvP, The Art of War(craft) (PvP)

Slow Fall castable on others in 3.0.8

Christian caught this one in his last Arcane Brilliance column, but I figured the rest of us non-Mages might like to know as well: Slow Fall will be castable on others in patch 3.0.8. Very exciting -- while there are a few other Slow Fall buffs in the game (and lots of parachutes, from all the vehicles in Northrend), now all you need to jump down from a high point in the game is a friendly Mage. We expect to see a nice jump up in the number of Slow Fall videos. Which, come to think of it, we haven't seen that many of lately. Guess the whole "flying mounts" thing has made Slow Falling for long distances not so interesting.

And while we're at it, before you say that you need Slow Fall to get the Going Down? achievement, you don't. First of all, it won't work, and secondly, there's a better way to do it: as you've probably heard by now, you can do it just by jumping off of the platform on the Scryers Tier in Shattrath onto the little canopy hanging over from the Lower City below. Everybody has their own place for that, of course, but that's the easiest.

Still, it'll be nice to have Slow Fall for everyone -- we can throw it on the list with Levitate as a class ability that's been spread around a bit. Is it still too limited to include in game mechanics? Could we maybe have an instance boss in the future that we fight with while falling down a long mineshaft, or on a falling platform?

Filed under: Mage, Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Instances, Classes, Wrath of the Lich King, Achievements

Breakfast Topic: What's the First thing you did when you got to Dalaran?

LOOK OUT IT'S RIGHT BEHIND YOU!
So Alex's latest Know Your Lore on Dalaran got me thinking. Now, some part of me is still sort of annoyed that Rhonin was made archmage and the Horde got to enter Dalaran with nary a peep about their tendency to kill all those citizens of Dalaran in Alterac or Silverpine, but I have to admit, Dalaran is an amazing city.

Everywhere you turn, there's something interesting going on, and every shop has its own life. The Architecture is an amazing blend of human and elven styles that looks to have organically evolved from a rich magical culture, and the atmosphere is lively without descending into the constant laughing and lag inducing sparring of the Aldor and the Shattered Sun Offensive that plagued Shattrath's outer ring. It also feels livelier and more city-like than Shattrath's strangely alien fortress and adjoining shanty town.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Breakfast Topics, Wrath of the Lich King

Know Your Lore: Dalaran


Welcome to Know Your Lore, where each week Alex Ziebart brings you a tasty little morsel of lore to wrap your mind around. Sweet, sweet lore. Mmmm. Have suggestions for future KYL topics? Leave a comment below!

Dalaran has been one of the most prominent nations in the Eastern Kingdoms since its founding, though it's actually quite small. A nation only thousands strong at its height has perhaps held more sway over world leaders in its time than any other nation, and has attracted the ire of some of the most powerful entities Azeroth has ever seen.

Dalaran, located in the heart of former Lordaeron territory, has been the center of Arcane knowledge since its creation, and could be considered the Humans' answer to Quel'Thalas, though the nation accepts Elves (and many others) in its ranks as well. Magic is Dalaran's lifeblood, and is even ruled through the strength and wisdom of its magi. Dalaran is a magocracy, a government ruled by a council of mages known as the Kirin Tor, elected by citizens of the nation. Their icon is the Violet Eye, with Violet being the motif used for the nation itself, and the color purple representing the Arcane as a whole in Warcraft (Arcane Missiles, Netherstorm).

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Filed under: Mage, Analysis / Opinion, Lore, Know your Lore, Wrath of the Lich King

Mage changes in patch 3.0.3

Mages, don't worry, you weren't left out of the love light this patch. Not at all. The number of bug fixes in your section of the patch notes does outweigh the number of substantive changes, but one of the substantive changes is very significant. Let's start with a bang:
That could practically read "reduced the mana cost of mages." Great stuff. Looking at the numbers from the last beta build, the reduction seems to be on the order of 10%, which is quite noticeable when applied to your staple spells.

Living Bomb, which has been something of a controversial talent, has also been polished a bit:
  • Living Bomb: Mana cost reduced to be the same as Arcane Explosion; no longer causes the caster to stand up when the final explosion occurs, and it is now possible for each mage to have a Living Bomb active on a target.
Frost mages, I'm sorry, but there's a herd of small nerfs (nerflings?) for you in this patch:

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Filed under: Mage, Patches

WoW TCG hosts World Champs in Paris this weekend


The World of Warcraft Trading Card Game World Championships have started up this weekend in Paris, France -- there's some excellent coverage on the official site about all of the CCG gaming going on over there. They've got everything from a roundup of the swag bag to play-by-play on the featured matches and some good commentary on what kinds of decks players are bringing to the tables. All told, the players are fighting for a prize pool of $250,000 -- some serious cash for playing cards.

They're in the middle of Day 2 right now, so there's lots more tournament coverage to come from Paris. If you're a fan of the TCG, this weekend's your chance to check out what some of the top players are up to as they battle for the big prize.

Filed under: Items, Fan stuff, WoW Social Conventions, Making money, WoW TCG

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