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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

Challenge modes provide new teleportation options

Challenge modes provide new teleportation options
The fine folks at Wowhead have discovered a tasty tidbit in the latest beta patch for those upset about the upcoming loss of the Have Group, Will Travel guild perk. It appears that completing a dungeon challenge mode on Gold will unlock an ability called Challenger's Path, enabling you to instantly teleport to that dungeon's entrance whenever you choose.

Personally, I love this. I still use my Dimensional Ripper and Wormhole Generator to go hopping around the lands of the old expansions whenever I'm messing around with things, and being able to flit around Pandaria will be amazing as well. (Yes, there's a new Wormhole Generator for Pandaria, but it apparently only takes you to a random spot in the continent, which isn't as helpful.)

For more details, port over to Wowhead News.

It's open warfare between Alliance and Horde in Mists of Pandaria, World of Warcraft's next expansion. Jump into five new levels with new talents and class mechanics, try the new monk class, and create a pandaren character to ally with either Horde or Alliance. Look for expansion basics in our Mists FAQ, or dig into our spring press event coverage for more details!

Filed under: Mists of Pandaria

Potions, Portals, and Scrolls of Recall: How to get around Azeroth as quickly as possible

Azeroth is big. This is readily apparent to any new player who's confined to running around on foot or anyone too cheap to shell out for a mount. Even mounted, you're going to spend a lot of time getting from point A to point B unless you can somehow shorten the journey -- and you can usually shorten it in a number of interesting ways.

We all know about the zeppelins and the boats, the workhorse transportation system of Azeroth, but due to the eccentricity of the many transport options in the game, the shortest distance between two points is not necessarily a straight line. For example, an inventive Horde player without a Hearthstone up who wants to travel from Silithus to Orgrimmar can settle in for a long flight -- or she can simply chug a Potion of Deepholm and take the Orgrimmar portal from the Temple of Earth. No potion, but you've quested through Sholazar Basin? Take the Titan Waygate from northern Un'Goro Crater to Sholazar, then fly south to the Horde's zeppelin at Warsong Hold. You'll still beat a wyvern flying from Cenarion Hold.

With even a few of the following options, a max-level player with some imagination should be able to scrape together a few methods of considerably shortening a journey.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion

Arcane Brilliance: Things I'm thankful for

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Arcane Brilliance for arcane, fire and frost mages. This week, Arcane Brilliance is feeling especially festive. Pyroblasting a turkey will do that.

So apparently it's the holiday season. I'm still burping up cranberries and stuffing, my wife has started forcing Christmas music upon me (and frankly, if it's not Mannheim Steamroller, I don't want to hear it), and I've reached the point in the year when -- for my own mental well-being -- I refuse to look at a bank statement until February. To those of you who survived yesterday's annual gladiatorial bloodletting and emerged victorious from the front doors of Walmart or Old Navy, hoisting your hard-won set of hand towels above your head like a trophy: I salute you. To those of you who, like me, stayed home and bought stuff on Steam and Xbox Live: I also salute you, only I do so from my chair, by typing in an emote. Because, really, we're all pretty lazy. But damned if I don't feel well rested.

In deference to the spirit of the season, we here at Arcane Brilliance thought it might be nice to spend a column thinking about the things we're grateful right now. You'll find the mage-related stuff behind the jump, but here's my non-mage-related short list of awesome things:
  1. flatbread chicken sandwiches
  2. getting randomly tagged on Dragon Quest IX while walking through the airport Tuesday night
  3. troll druid cat form
  4. The Walking Dead
  5. Mumford and Sons
  6. discovering the brilliance of Arrested Development and Friday Night Lights on Netflix
Taco Bell, Netflix, Square Enix, etc. ... feel free to make any and all endorsement checks out to Christian Belt, care of WoW Insider. Also, screw you, AMC, for canceling Rubicon. I was just starting to enjoy that one. And screw you double, FOX, for putting Fringe on Fridays, where all good FOX shows go to die.

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

Arcane Brilliance: These are a few of my favorite things

It's time again for Arcane Brilliance, the weekly mage column from the author of Don't Break My Sheep: Diary of an Angry Mage and 101 Ways to Cook Warlock.

This is going to be slightly shorter and even more rushed than usual, guys, because new baby. I'd post pictures, but this is the internet. I'll wait till he's a bit older and can ruin his own life. The kid's our third, our first boy, and I'll only say one thing about that: After two girls, I simply wasn't prepared for the peeing. Seriously, the kid fires that thing straight up, without warning, and with laser precision. I've taken to placing a washcloth over his loins during changings, a tip suggested by my genius wife.

Now that I've grossed you out, let's move on to today's topic: awesomeness. Paternity leave from work has given me some extra time between hilarious eye-peeing episodes to fiddle in earnest with my mage on the beta. And though I have some complaints, I'll save them for another week, one in which I'm not still basking in the afterglow of seeing my wife push a baby out from her nether regions. I'm too happy to complain this week, so if you've come here looking for constructive criticism, you're in the wrong place. Join me after the jump for a few of my favorite things about each of the three mage specs in the beta.

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

The Queue: I like cake

I'm making a note here...
Welcome back to The Queue, WoW.com's daily Q&A column where the WoW.com team answers your questions about the World of Warcraft. Adam Holisky will be your host today.

While my colleague Anne Stickney might like a tasty pie, I prefer a succulent cake instead. Why, do you ask?

Because it's made of fluffy goodness topped with cream. So let's take a poll and show Anne that cake > pie.
Cake or Pie or ... ?
Cake4474 (29.3%)
Pie3600 (23.6%)
The cake is a lie7204 (47.2%)


Hal asked ...

"What's the good word these days on racial powers and features? Have the dwarves gotten something to replace Find Treasure yet?"

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Filed under: The Queue

Arcane Brilliance: The services we provide


It's time again for Arcane Brilliance, the weekly mage column that come rain or shine, snow, sleet, hail, netherstorm or cataclysmic event is always delivered to your electronic doorstep by a mysterious robed man with a strange affinity for sheep. Perhaps you have wondered why Blink is distanced at exactly 20 yards? Because that's the exact number of digital yards between your internet yard and your neighbor's internet yard. This strange wizardly paperboy blinks onto your e-porch, unfurls this week's Arcane Brilliance, magicks it under your internet door, turns your internet yard gnome into an internet yard sheep, then poofs his way next door and repeats the process. He does this whether you've actually subscribed to Arcane Brilliance or not. It's all a bit creepy, but at least it's free.

Let's take a moment and talk about utility, shall we?

This week, I'm going to present the case for mages as the single best utility class in the game. Sure, druids bring their gifts of the wild, death knights bring their horns of winter, shaman bring their bloodlust/heroism, warlocks bring their evil little cookies and their obscene body odor, and rogues bring ... a tendency to stab things in the back ... but mages -- I think you'll agree after I pound it into your heads for the next thousand words or so -- are the kings of utility.

You may think of us (and many of us may think of ourselves) as simple purveyors of arcane destruction. We trade in damage, humble merchants of death, standing behind someone wearing more substantial attire, churning out our fireballbolts and frostmadoodads and whatnot until the boss keels over, like any good ranged DPS class should. While this is our essential function, I'd like to spend this week's column shining a spotlight of sorts on the other things we bring to the proverbial table.

Protip: one of the things we bring is a literal table.

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

WoW Moviewatch: Still Alive -- JoCo version

I think Still Alive -- JoCo version wins the "genre bending" award. Still Alive was originally the closing credits song for Portal by Valve Software. The computer system known as GLaDOS promises the Portal player cake throughout the game. It's kind of the carrot to keep the player moving. (This is also the source of The Cake Is Not A Lie.) Still Alive is performed by GLaDOS at the end of the game.

Well, being the geek savant that he is, Jonathan Coulton covered Still Alive. Being the WoW culture savant that he is, Spiff took JoCo's cover and turned it into a World of Warcraft machinima. (There are plenty of references to the original Portal game in the video, though, so this version isn't entirely detached from its roots.)

Like all of Spiff's videos, Still Alive -- JoCo version is a lot of fun. Spiff does a great job capturing the fun and humor of JoCo's original music. Not to mention, his animation skills are constantly growing and always impressive.

Edit: JoCo wrote the original song, mind you. Still Alive was performed at the end of the game by a female artist. This song, then, is the version performed by JoCo. "Cover" is a tough word to use for this, so I wanted to clarify it.


Interested in the wide world of machinima? We have new movies every weekday here on WoW Moviewatch! Have suggestions for machinima we ought to feature? Toss us an e-mail at machinima AT wow DOT com.


Filed under: WoW Moviewatch

All the World's a Stage: Player housing, interactivity, and other possible features

All the World's a Stage, and all the orcs and humans merely players. They have their stories and their characters; and one player in his time plays many roles.

Playing Warhammer recently has made me think of more features that WoW could add in order to create a better roleplaying experience. Far and away the most important one, to my mind, was the Tome of Knowledge. WoW players really need an in-game resource they can refer to as a standard for information about the Warcraft universe, and having this at hand, roleplayers could do a lot better than they can today.

Knowledge is the most important thing, of course, but there are other features Blizzard could add to the game that would help roleplayers too. I'd like to address a few of these things, and see how much they could really do for us. Player housing is a possible feature that gets talked about a lot, but I have my doubts as to whether or not it would really help roleplayers all that much. Another issue is one that is more important to me personally, and is another feature inspired by my trial with Warhammer Online: looking at interactivity between characters.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, RP, All the World's a Stage (Roleplaying)

The Queue: Hump Day


Welcome back to The Queue, WoW.com's daily Q&A column where the WoW.com team answers your questions about the World of Warcraft. Adam Holisky will be your host today.

It's Wednesday, hump day. And that means it's time for some Black Eye Peas. NSFW, and all those young whipper-snappers love it. For you older folks, here's something you might enjoy. Ladies and gentleman, Mr. Conway Twitty.

Andrew R asked...

"Why do people always talk about how the alliance is full of little kids while the horde is where the "mature" players are and vice-versa? To add to that why do those same people talk about how bad the opposite faction is and they will never play that faction?"

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Instances, The Queue, Cataclysm

New zeppelin and portals coming in Patch 3.2


Another patch 3.2 announcement today, this time from Zaryhm concerning a few travel options in Azeroth.

First, there will be a new zeppelin route between Thunder Bluff and Orgrimmar. We heard about this before, but now we know in what patch / context it will be released in.

Secondly, there will be portal in Stormwind and Orgrimmar leading directly to the Stair of Destiny at the Dark Portal. No more need to haul yourself out there at level 58. Just take a portal instead!

The portal in particular should help people level in Outland much easier. It should also help to significantly decrease the use of Hearthstones for traveling back and forth between Outland and Azeroth. Now you can fly to Shat in your 150% flying mount at 60, take a portal to Stormwind to train, and then portal right back to the entrance to Outland where you can hop on your flying mount again and return to grinding levels. Very quick, very easy, very smooth.

Filed under: News items

Instance throttling explained

If you do a lot of instances, you're probably familiar with the error message "Additional instances could not be launched. Please, try again later," and the accompanying dance of spamming the instance portal until it lets you in. For me it seems to happen most at the Azjol-Nerub portal, but that's probably just coincidence.

Anyway, although I've been seeing this error pretty much since WotLK launched, Wryxian just made a post today in the European forums explaining what it's all about. Basically, it's an attempt to fix instance performance; if too many instances are running at the same time on the instance server, lag and possible crashes result (and I'm sure we've all experienced that), so there's a limit imposed on how many instances can be up at any given time.

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Filed under: Realm News, Bugs, Instances

The Dos and Don'ts of getting a port


I'm a dork. I admit it. I love my mage and I love making portals for people, even non-tippers. In fact, you have to work pretty hard not to get a port from me. Which is why, even after decades of dealing with anonymous jerks in BBS chat rooms and on the internet, I was a little shocked at how rude a level 62 Tauren Shaman who shall remain nameless was when demanding a port from me. Maybe he just didn't know any better. So here is a little guide as to how to increase your chances of getting a port from a mage you don't know.

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Filed under: Mage, Analysis / Opinion, How-tos

Wormholes coming to an Engineer near you

Just the other day, a fun little potential toy for Engineers cropped up. Wormholes! Wormholes? Yes, wormholes. What do they do? Think about Mages for a moment. They have both Teleport and Portal spells. Teleport spells take only them to a capital city of their choosing. Portals create a way for your entire party or raid to go to that capital city.

Engineers have Transporters, which work similar to a Mage's Teleport. They take you specifically to whichever Goblin or Gnome town your Engineering specialization likes best. Wormholes will be the answer to the Mage's Portal. You will be able to take your entire party to that town, not just you. The only one we've seen so far is a Wormhole to Gadgetzan, which may actually prove to be quite useful. While Shattrath has an NPC that will teleport you straight to the Caverns of Time, I haven't seen one of those in Dalaran so far in the Wrath Beta.

Currently it seems the intent is to have Engineers quest for these Wormhole generators, but they aren't available on either the live or beta realms quite yet. That could easily change before we see them ourselves. We may also see these in Patch 3.02 rather than Wrath of the Lich King as well, seeing as Northrend has Goblin towns of its own.

[ via MMO-Champion ]

Filed under: Engineering

Addon Spotlight: Spellcraft

As expansion apathy sets in, and my friends and guildmates begin to lose interest in raiding, I have joined the ranks of the many players who have transitioned to playing their alts. To that end, I've had an opportunity to explore some new addons designed for specific classes. Spellcraft stands out as simple and useful for the mage about town.

This addon handles a few mage functions via a simple graphic interface and a set of more subtle features. With automated reagent restocking, polymorph warnings, Evocation weapon-swapping and a simple teleport and portal menu, Spellcraft offers much while asking little. (The memory footprint is minimal)

Granted, there are addons that provide similar functionality, and I've profiled a few of them, but Spellcraft is tailor-made for mages and their unique abiities.

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Filed under: Mage, Analysis / Opinion, Add-Ons, Features, AddOn Spotlight, Classes

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