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Arcane Brilliance: Tips for leveling your mage from 85 to 90

Mage casting Alter Time in Pandaria
Every week, WoW Insider brings you Arcane Brilliance for arcane, fire and frost mages. This week, we take a break from pet battling to actually level our mages. Seriously. Put down that Armadillo Pup for a second and let's get to level 90. I'm talking to myself as much as you. I want you to know that.

I imagine I'm not the only slow-poke out there who's taking their sweet time getting to level 90. My playtime since the expansion hit has been almost non-existent until recently, and in fact I only just dinged max level this week. Still, even though time-constraints kept me from playing as much as I wanted to, it still felt like I was getting to 90 slower than I should have been. What can I say? I like to read the quest text, watch the cutscenes, listen to all the dialogue, explore the countryside. Oh, and I may have indulged in the occasional pet battle. We all have our vices. Though in this case, I'd hazard to say we all have the same vice.

But I did eventually get there, late or not. And for those of you who are still enjoying the journey rather than the destination, I've compiled a few of the thoughts and observations I had along the way into this week's column. For those of you for whom this advice comes too late, I'll start hitting the post-90 content next week. Pinkie swear.

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

Arcane Brilliance: Your mage's new spell rotations in Mists of Pandaria

Troll female mage
Every week, WoW Insider brings you Arcane Brilliance for arcane, fire and frost mages. This week, we realize that everything we know is wrong, and learn how to make it right again.

Last time we had an expansion release, it was all about an actual Cataclysm, and when we made jokes about the end of the world and chaos descending and the impending apocalypse, those jokes were appropriate. This time around, we've got cuddly pandas and fun pet battles and ... I don't know ... Eastern philosophy? Jokes about impending apocalypses aren't as apt this time around.

Still, if any expansion has the potential to usher in mass chaos and confusion, Mists of Pandaria may be the one. Never before at any one time have our spellbooks and talent trees undergone such sweeping change. On Tuesday, the servers will go down, and when they come back up, the pre-expansion patch 5.0.4 will be in place (barring unforeseen maintenance mishaps), and everything we know about how to effectively wield magic will be completely different. Our current spell rotations will be gone, and we will need to go about the tricky business of learning our new spell rotations.

Which brings us to the reason I called you all together today. There's magical cake in the back of the room, and later on we'll be doing trust falls with warlocks where they fall and we hit them in the face with an Arcane Barrage. But for right now, our agenda has only one item on it: our new spell rotations. It's time we learned them.

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

Arcane Brilliance: Mists of Pandaria mage glyph guide

Blood Elf Female Mage
Every week, WoW Insider brings you Arcane Brilliance for arcane, fire and frost mages. This week, we're talking glyphs and the mages who love them. Question: where do we keep our glyphs? Are they semi-permanent tattoos? Are they inscribed upon our clothing somewhere? Do we carry around a piece of paper with all our runes scrawled upon it? And if so, what happens to that scrap of paper when we forget to take it out of our pants before we run them through the laundry? The practical mechanics of inscription intrigue me.

As time marches forward, I find myself staring intently down the barrel of my wand at the approaching pandaren invasion, realizing with each passing moment that I am entirely unprepared. So much to cover! So little time. Good thing we can Alter and Warp time, right?

It's high time we discussed glyphs. I know Josh Myers previewed glyphs during my absence a few months back, but a whole lot has changed since then. This particular system has changed a bit from what we're used to. Gone are prime glyphs. Now it's just majors and minors. And the majors have been redesigned in an attempt to make them more situational and utilitarian, and this attempt seems to have been largely successful.

Instead of being forced to choose between damage increase glyph A and damage increase glyph B, you will now find yourself choosing the glyphs that appeal to you most or fit your playstyle best. Cookie-cutter, must-have glyphs are by and large a thing of the past, and I submit that this is a positive change.

Still, each spec will find that certain glyphs work better for them than others, and in the guide that follows, I will endeavor to advise you as best I can on which glyphs look most attractive for each school of mage.

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

Arcane Brilliance: Mists of Pandaria talent spec guide for mages

Arcane Brilliance Mists of Pandaria talent spec guide for mages
Every week, WoW Insider brings you Arcane Brilliance for arcane, fire and frost mages. This week, we're looking at the overhauled talent system in Mists of Pandaria and figuring out which talent is best for killing warlocks. My initial impression is all of them. All of the talents are good for killing warlocks.

So with the expansion less than two months away and patch 5.0 looming on the "any week now" precipice, it's time we stopped messing around. I promise to stop skipping weeks of this column for trivial things like "family," or "crippling work schedule," or "violent and possibly terminal illnesses," because, damn. The time is short. The end of the end of the world is nigh, and the coming panda apocalypse is nearly upon us. We need to get down to the nitty-gritty here, guys.

Look forward to some extra mage content in between Arcane Brilliances as we ramp up in the coming weeks, in the form of basic class 101 guides for all the stuff you need to know before the expansion hits. I'll save the Saturday columns for more detailed analysis.

This week, we're wading neck deep into the new talent system, since it's probably the single biggest change our class is undergoing in Mists. It's a bona fide shock to the system and a radical departure from the status quo, and believe me when I say that it will take all of us some getting used to before it begins to feel even remotely normal.

The whole basis behind this talent system revamp is to eliminate cookie-cutter specs and provide us with six distinct choices between talents that serve roughly the same function as each other with slightly different mechanics. The idea is to provide freedom of choice by removing the need to pick the best talent at each tier. Each of the three choices at each tier is designed to be a good choice depending on playstyle, and no specific talent is supposed to provide measurably better DPS than another, so we can all hold hands, smoke the peace pipe, and pick whatever we like.

And now's the part where we all decide which of these equal talents are more equal than the others.

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

Arcane Brilliance: Which spec will be best in Mists of Pandaria?

Undead fire mage
Every week, WoW Insider brings you Arcane Brilliance for arcane, fire and frost mages. This week, we endeavor to answer that age old question: Which spec will other people insist my mage needs to be? We will try not to resort to that age old response to that question, which tended to involve punching those other people in the mouth.

One constant, no matter how hard I've tried to ignore it, that has always existed in WoW is that one spec is always "best." The class designers are constantly tweaking the numbers and trying to keep things balanced, but once we all sit down with our collective calculator and spreadsheet, one spec always emerges to rule them all.

It has been a sad reality that while we have always had freedom to choose a spec and personalize it to fit our preferences, when it comes time to raid at high levels or take part in PvP at high levels, that freedom essentially vanishes. You can make arguments for utility over damage or for certain specs in certain fights, but in most cases, under most circumstances, you're going with whatever cookie-cutter spec the internet has agreed upon that week, or you're not getting an invite.

Well, now we have a fresh expansion to leverage our calculators and spreadsheets upon. It's still early in the beta process, and hard numbers are in short supply. Still, the overall design of the specs seems to be fairly well-defined, even if the actual percentage points are still in flux. What conclusions can we draw at this stage? Which spec looks to put out the best damage? And most importantly, which spec will let us kill warlocks most efficiently?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Arcane Brilliance: Bombs and tempests on the Mists beta

Frost Bomb
Every week, WoW Insider brings you Arcane Brilliance for arcane, fire and frost mages. This week, we're discussing my favorite kinds of mage spells: the ones that blow things up real good. Namely, warlocks. I like the spells that blow up warlocks. This should not come as any sort of surprise to anyone, ever.

I don't know about you, but I didn't roll a mage for the free strudel. I'm not going to lie; the prospect of magical baked goods didn't hurt. Unlimited pie is something of a draw for me. But when I chose mage for my first character lo those many dead warlocks ago, I did so because I wanted to make pixels explode in spectacular fashion.

And my mage certainly didn't disappoint. Over the years, I've thrown my share of Pyroblasts, Frostfire Bolts, and Arcane Explosions, and the resulting pixel explosions have been quite satisfactory. Still, I'm nothing if not greedy. In my opinion, when it comes to exploding pixels, more is always better.

And so, when I learned of the new talents, the ones I was secretly most excited by were the three bomb talents we were choosing between at level 75. The worst part? I had to choose just one.

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

Arcane Brilliance: Familiars, porcupines and Frostbolt healing, oh my!

Fiery Familiar
Every week, WoW Insider brings you Arcane Brilliance for arcane, fire and frost mages. This week, we'll be discussing a few of the more recent additions and tweaks to our class on the Mists of Pandaria beta. Some of them are awesome. Some of them are silly. And some of them are porcupines.

You see that thing up there in the picture? That tiny little legless flaming elemental from vanilla WoW? That's one of our three new familiars. That's right: familiars.

I've actively campaigned for mage familiars in the past, even as far back as this crusty old post from 2008, in which I also wished for more portals, a Blink spell that actually worked, and a rumored new ability called Mirror Image, which I believed would prove to be a combination of a bacon double cheeseburger, the second coming of Christ, and a double rainbow out of a leprechaun's butt. So young! So naive.

I always imagined my mage running around with a tiny furry minion, maybe mouse with glowing eyes, or an ominous crow, possibly animated by Don Bluth, that would do my bidding and tell me which cottage in the forest Princess Aurora was hiding in. I imagined a wizardly pet that would be always by my mage's side, part of the persona, perhaps conferring a passive buff or something.

Well that isn't quite what we're getting here.

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

Arcane Brilliance: Going back to the future with Alter Time

Image
Every week, WoW Insider brings you Arcane Brilliance for arcane, fire and frost mages. This week, we're going to jump into the not-so-distant future -- specifically, the day we hit level 87 in Mists of Pandaria. We're going to need 1% of our base mana, some plutonium, and 1.21 gigawatts, and we're going to need to be moving at 88 miles per hour.

Mages are getting a fair number of new or reworked spells and talents in Mists of Pandaria, but arguably the most intriguing of the bunch is Alter Time. Continuing along with the time -manipulation theme already established by spells like Time Warp, upcoming talents like Temporal Shield, and the time chicken tier 13 armor set, Alter Time allows us to transport our mages back in time to the ancient era of six seconds ago.

It's an incredibly interesting mechanic that works in practice about how I expected it to in theory, which is both good and bad.

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

Arcane Brilliance: Archmage Pants expounds on Mists of Pandaria magery and magic

Pandaren Female Mage
Every week, WoW Insider brings you Arcane Brilliance for arcane, fire and frost mages. Even when the guy who usually writes it is trapped by the ancient warlockian curse known as Long-work-hours-and-three-kids-and-no-free-time-makes-it-hard-to-write-about-Warcraft ... Bolt. A deeply sincere thank you goes out to the incredible Josh Myers, who stepped in and handled my business for me with uncommon style and undeniable skill for the past month and a half. Josh, the next warlock I kill, I will kill for you.

Holy crap, it's good to be back.

I'd toyed with the idea of quitting entirely, seeing no practical way to consistently scrape together enough time each week with the current demands on my time to provide you guys with quality mage columns. But as the weeks went by, I found I simply couldn't abide not writing about turning warlocks into sheep and then hurling volleys of Arcane Missiles at those sheep until they explode. There was a gaping hole in my life that could only be filled with a massive Pyroblast.

So this past week, after squeezing in some quality time with the Mists beta, I sat down at my keyboard and began typing. At first, I wasn't even writing with a clear goal in mind. I had no intention of posting any of my thoughts. But as I played, and wrote, and played, and wrote, I found I was becoming more and more stupidly excited about the prospect of talking to you guys about new stuff. So I had to come back, you see. And it's all your fault. I hope you're happy with yourselves.

Josh has already done a marvelous job of sharing his beta analysis with you over the course of several columns. If you haven't already, check them out here, here, and also here. Though some of the ground we cover today may overlap, what follows isn't anything resembling analysis. As I get myself back up to speed, I'll go more in-depth -- but this week, we're going the full stream of consciousness, random observational impression route. Strap in, and for God's sake, keep your arms, legs, and wands inside the vehicle.

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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

Arcane Brilliance: Blinking into the Mists of Pandaria talent calculator, part 1

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Arcane Brilliance for arcane, fire and frost mages. This week, we have all kinds of talents to talk about. New talents, old talents, old talents with new talent scent, talents that look new but smell old, old talents that kill warlocks in new ways, cupcakes that taste like cranberry sauce, skillets that cook pastries that look like this ... I may or may not have eaten too much pie this week.

OK, we'd better get started. Lots to talk about and not much time or space with which to discuss it. I assume you've all had a chance to fiddle with the Mists of Pandaria talent calculator Blizzard just put on the official site? If not, go look, then come back.

It's interesting stuff. It's important, I think, that I stress that even though this is an official, Blizzard-sponsored reveal, all of this information is pre-pre-pre-alpha stuff, and it absolutely will change substantially before any of it goes live. So don't get married to the mechanics of any of these talents and skills as they're presented here. Don't squint too hard at the specific numbers, either. This is being presented so we can mull it over and give constructive feedback, and so that we can get a more detailed sense of the direction MoP's major talent overhaul will be taking our beloved mage class.

So let's get busy mulling.

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

Spiritual Guidance: Mists of Pandaria spell and talent changes for shadow priests

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Spiritual Guidance for discipline, holy and shadow priests. On Wednesdays, shadow priesting expert Fox Van Allen comes from out of the shadows to bask in your loving adoration. He is also scientifically proven more beautiful than boomkin blogger Tyler Caraway.

When we first talked about the new-for-Mists of Pandaria talent trees after BlizzCon, there were still a lot of questions to be answered. The main question, of course, was this: What will happen to all the talents that were removed from the old Cataclysm-era trees?

Well, wonder no more. Last night, Blizzard went live with an all-new MoP talent calculator. Not only does it contain the new talents we talked about last month, but it also contains a list of what spells will be baseline for what specs and when they're learned.

"Don't worry," Blizzard noted. "If you don't see your favorite talent, we've probably just given it to your spec automatically while leveling." And it's true -- shadow priests get a lot of good stuff as baseline abilities, and we're getting a lot of it sooner than you'd expect. But not every shadow priest spell and ability made the cut. In fact, if they all make it to the live version of the game, there are some very surprising changes, additions, and omissions.

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Filed under: Priest, (Priest) Spiritual Guidance, Mists of Pandaria

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