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Arcane Brilliance: A friendly introduction to mage crowd control

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Arcane Brilliance for arcane, fire and frost mages. This week, a public service announcement:

An open letter to the guy who keeps breaking my sheep:

Please stop.

Sincerely,

Christian

P.S. -- Listen. I know it's Christmas and I should probably be doing a puff piece on things I want for my mage for Christmas or something like that. But I Simply can't stay quiet. We wiped 20 times in that heroic Grim Batol run last night, and though I know not everybody who plays this game reads this column, I have to do what I can. Evil triumphs when good men do nothing, or something like that.

I know The Burning Crusade happened like two years ago. I'm well aware that there's a distinct possibility you started playing the game during Wrath. Perhaps you either don't remember or don't have any idea what a "Polymorph" is or why it's not in your best interests to immediately begin whacking whatever I just cast it on as hard as you possibly can. I'm willing to allow for ignorance.

Mages, I can even understand it when you don't sheep things. Polymorph doesn't do any damage; in fact it heals its target! Why would you want to use a spell that doesn't blow things up when there are so many other delightful spells in your spellbook that do? It seems counter to everything we got into magecraft for.

Wrath was a long expansion. For the better part of two years, we spent the majority of our time chain pulling and AoE-farming our way through every instance in sight, concentrating on one thing and one thing only: DPS. Recount gave us a number at the end of every boss fight, and if that number was higher than the warlock's number, we had done a good job. Sure, the fights sometimes had mechanics we needed to pay attention to, but they mostly involved moving from one place to stand and shoot to another place to stand and shoot. We forgot a very important part of our jobs as mages.

We forgot how to sheep.

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

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: Things I've learned while dying in Cataclysm heroics, mage edition

It's time again for Arcane Brilliance, weekly mage column of choice for dress-wearing, warlock-hating Frostbolt slingers the world over. Also, fans of the short musical films of Journey, Short Imagined Monologues, and the sublime, video game-based synth and fretwork amalgams of Sixto Sounds. Seriously, listen to this one. Holy crap.

So over the past few days, I've found myself a broken corpse lying in a spreading puddle of my own bodily fluids a bit more frequently than I'm used to. The reason for this is simple: heroics. No, not the ones on the live servers -- where you can throw together a random group consisting of a ret pally tank, a six-year-old playing a hunter his mom bought him on eBay the day before, a feral druid healer who for some reason came into the instance suffering from nine more minutes of resurrection sickness, a mouth-breathing rogue who may or may not be a serial killer, and an AFK shaman farming badges while auto-following the healer -- and still blast through the place. I'm talking about heroics in the Cataclysm beta.

They're absolutely brutal, guys. Now, granted -- it's still early. The testing process for these beauties is still in its infancy. We're tackling them using premade characters with talent builds we threw together by looking at the talents and thinking, "This looks nice." We're wearing gear that's barely entry-level for heroics (if we're lucky) and using spell rotations that we're basically making up on the fly. We're going into instances we've never seen before, doing boss fights nobody knows the mechanics for, and dealing with crippling, often game-breaking bugs. These places simply aren't finished, not by a long shot.

But then again, that's why we have a beta. We go in, throw our soft, cloth-clad bodies against the long claws of some horrifying beast or another, use the final droplets of our blood to scrawl feedback for the developers ("Landmines ... everywhere ... can't feel ... legs ... fading to black ... tell warlocks ... hate them ... so ... much ... "), and then come back for another round. Blizzard takes the data it gathers from our gruesome deaths and uses it to construct a better game.

Still, there is much we can learn -- even in this unfinished state -- from the first incarnations of these heroics. Join me after the jump, 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: 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

Arcane Brilliance: Love letters


It's time again for Arcane Brilliance, the weekly mage column of choice for largely hairless bipedal primates with opposable thumbs everywhere. And also for you, whatever you are. Seriously, what the crap are you, anyway? And what's with all the back hair? You look like Ron Perlman back when he used to make out with the chick from Terminator in the sewers. Which is to say, you look dead sexy. Not that I'm into that kind of thing, but rowr.

As many of you are no doubt aware, I've been forced of late to do something against my very nature -- something so vile and abhorrent that I can scarcely keep the bile down as I partake in it. No, it isn't wearing pants. It's far, far worse.

You see, I decided to participate in our Choose My Adventure series, and as is customary for those who do so, I left the decision-making to you, dear readers. In your vast, collective wisdom (and keen sense of irony), you decided I should be shackled to that thing I hate most. Again, not wearing pants. But, as longtime (or even first-time) readers of this column may have guessed, there remains one thing I hate more than having my lower half clad in fabric, and that thing is warlocks. "Har har," you said to yourselves (in my imagination, you are all pirates), "Belt should play a warlock! That'd be hilarious."

Well it isn't hilarious. It isn't hilarious at all.

Did you know that warlocks have a scent? It's the sulfurous stench of disappointment. Playing one has thus far been an exercise in humility. I am constantly reminded that there are those out there who select one of these godless avatars from the character selection screen on purpose, and do so on a daily basis. I feel there ought to be some sort of fund to which I can, for the price of a cup of coffee per day, sponsor these poor wayward souls and somehow elevate them to a better life.

Still, I feel I have been able to glean at least one thing of value from this experience thus far:

Mages are awesome.

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

Spiritual Guidance: Macros for priests


Every Sunday (and the occasional weekday) Spiritual Guidance offers holy and discipline priests advice on how to wield the holy light and groove to the disco night. Your hostess Dawn Moore will provide the music.

/target reader
/wave
/use The Mischief Maker

There. I love a captive audience.

This week I'll be writing about macros for priests. I will touch on why and how to use them, then provide a few useful ones that readers sent in during the past week. This article will not be an introductory guide for the use of macros because... WoW.com already had one of those. Hit the jump for the link.

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Filed under: Priest, Raiding, (Priest) Spiritual Guidance

Arcane Brilliance: The Mage of 2009

The internet's magiest weekly mage column, Arcane Brilliance would like to wish you and yours a very magetastic holiday season. Unless you and yours are warlocks. In which case Arcane Brilliance hopes the holiday season comes to your Christmas party and punches you in the face.

Every year, as the end of that twelve-month block draws near, Arcane Brilliance likes to take an unbiased look back at the events that captured our collective imagination. Heh. Get it? "I-MAGE-ination?" Holy crap Arcane Brilliance is clever. And indefensibly fond of bad puns.

So what did the year of our lord 2009 hold for those of us who prefer the scent of barbecued sheep to pretty much any odor ever and think strudel is a perfectly acceptable meal choice for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a meal I like to call the "Evocation's-on-cooldown-snack?"

Join me after the break for all the highlights, presented in vaguely chronological order.

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

Crowd Control to return in future instances

This opinion probably isn't shared by everyone, but I have to say: I miss crowd control in PvE. Nowadays, thanks to Death Knights or Blizzard or whoever you want to blame, instance runs are more or less zerg affairs -- everyone runs in on a cue, targets whatever the most dangerous mob is, and then lets the rest die off from the incidental damage thanks to their glyph-ed up, AoE abilities. But I long for a more civilized time when CC was used as a more elegant weapon, when a successful group was based on teamwork rather than gear, and when you needed a sheep, or a trap, or a banish, or all three, to make it through the instance.

Fortunately, crowd control isn't dead forever -- GC confirms that while Blizzard doesn't want every pull to take "months of planning" (and obviously they want you to bring the player, not the class, so requiring a Warlock or a Mage along isn't always the best policy), "there will be more CC in the future." Of course, whether that means raids only or future expansions, we have no idea. He does say that "Noxromulous" was made to be accessible, so you might think raids, but one instance players always mention in terms of 5-man difficulty is Magister's Terrace, and let's not forget that that one also came in a content patch.

Despite the bad rep that CC has gotten in PvP, it plays a significant role in the strategy of PvE, and lots of that interesting gameplay has really been lost lately. Hopefully in the future, we'll see Blizzard able to bring back sheep and traps in a way that will test groups without leaving anyone out.

Filed under: Hunter, Mage, Warlock, Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Instances, Bosses

World of WarCrafts: Conjured photo frame

Every Thursday, Shelbi Roach of The Bronze Kettle guides you in creating WoW-inspired crafts using real world mats with World of WarCrafts.

Mages deserve some love. Providing hundreds of biscuits and polymorphing adds for your raid is sure to take a toll on even the hardiest of magi. Not to mention removing curses, stealing buffs, and making everyone temporarily smarter. Oh yeah, there's that damage dealing thing they do too.

So take some time to express some gratitude for your under-appreciated arcane ally by conjuring up this custom photo frame.


Here is what you will need:
  • Scrapbook Frame
  • Acrylic Paint
  • Soft Glitter Paint
  • Scrapbook Paper
  • Fine Glitter
  • Gems (also used in the Voidwalker Doorknob Hanger)
  • Mod Podge
  • Wooden Letters
  • Wooden Sheep Shape
  • Ribbon
  • Scissors
  • Xacto Knife
  • Paper Cutter
  • Pencil
  • Toothpicks
  • Paintbrushes
Click on the images below to view a gallery of step-by-step instructions.

Filed under: How-tos, World of WarCrafts

Forum post of the day: Freakin' frogs

Ftoomsh of Aman'Thul is hopping mad that Shamans will be getting Hex in Wrath of the Lich King. Green with envy, she feels that Mages are already being rendered obsolete in PvE. Polymorph as a unique ability should not be added to a pool of skill for more classes to draw from. The original poster jumped to the conclusion that giving this ability to Shamans make Mages completely useless.

Baah, I say. Hex is similar to Polymorph, but is definitely not the same spell. You might even say it doesn't go the whole nine yards. Several of the responding post reminded Ftoomsh that the Hex ability in its current form only lasts ten seconds. On top of that it set to a one-minute cool down while Polymorph has no cooldown but diminishing returns. The frogged character will be in control of their movement, but ill not be able to cast with the debuff. I'd like to add that Hex does appear to lack the healing mechanic of polymorph.

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Filed under: Mage, Shaman, Analysis / Opinion, Classes, Buffs, Forum Post of the Day

WWI '08 Panel: Mage

Well. At first, it didn't seem to me like Tom Chilton had as much news for Mages at the first WWI dev panel as he did for other classes, but one of the Q&A dialogues did reveal a nice vision for our future.

The most common news being reported, of course, is the new "bolt" spell -- the Frostfire bolt. This is a direct damage nuke that's a mix of "fire" and "ice" damage types, and will help circumvent the resistances of certain bosses who have an affinity for an element. Eh. I mean, that's great and all, but it doesn't really speak to any retooling or massive re-vamp at the ways Mages need help.

However, during the Q&A, one of the audience members was a lot more pointed. Now that everyone seems to have their own spammable crowd control, he askes, what's being done to bring Mages back to a more unique role?

The answer was awesome. Simply put, if everyone's doing crowd control, then Mages are going to be buffed in their hallmark: raw, unadulterated damage. Especially since Seed of Corruption shines against our AE damage ability, Chilton says we should expect to see our overall damage output increased.

Does this mean Mages will become the epitome of WoW DPS? Mm, I'm not holding my breath - but at least in terms of putting us back in a vital, noticeable role, the future looks hopeful. Stay tuned as we continue to cover the WWI event, and try and bring the best (and worst) news available.

Filed under: Mage, Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, News items, Worldwide Invitational

PTR is closed

Hortus just posted that the PTR server for patch 2.4.2 has been taken down, and that the PTR phase for the patch has ended. This is a strong indicator that patch 2.4.2 is on its way soon, perhaps during some expected maintenance tomorrow.

Take a look at the official and un-official notes for a comprehensive look at what will change. Nothing in the patch is game-breaking, in my opinion, but there are some nice changes. Some of the major highlights include:
  • Changes to the way arena points are calculated.
  • Void Shatter no longer has a cooldown, and other cooldowns have been reduced.
  • If you are sheeped / polymorphed by a mob, you will no longer gain back health (ie: the mass sheep in Aran, which regens your health before he fire blasts the raid).
  • Many main hand weapons are now one hand weapons.
WoW Insider will carry the latest on the patch, including as soon as we know when it's set to go live. Stay tuned!

Edit 3:24 p.m. EDT: It should be noted that the final version of the patch notes have not been released yet, however they are usually close to what the PTR patch notes are.

Filed under: Patches, News items

CC: How to run instances without a net

Running 5 man instances is the bread and butter of gearing up any PvE character. There are some short instances, and some longer ones. There are some bosses that are ready for fun, and others that like to die fast. Many people consider it a universal truth that all you need to do these instances is solid crowd control. When you're faced with a pack of six or seven level 70 elite mobs, the last thing you want is one or two of them running loose.

But what can you do if you don't have any CC available? Are you just out of luck? Nope! There are a few tricks to running instances without CC, and if you pay close attention, you won't miss the lack of sheeps at all.

In fact, you might just start preferring to run without crowd control entirely.

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Filed under: Druid, Paladin, Warrior, Analysis / Opinion, Tips, Tricks, How-tos, Instances, Guides

Cleavage buffed on PTR

The PTR has changed once more. Sure, the star changes are rollbacks on the Life Tap nerf and Flametongue buff, but there is at least one other change that I think is highly significant. Expect a Patch Note Watch soon exhaustively detailing every change that made it into the patch notes. Until then, however, enjoy the following:

Cleave, Multi-Shot, Swipe, Chain Lightning, and Avenger's Shield will no longer hit targets that are under the effect of CC spells that break on damage, such as Polymorph or Sap. This includes Felguard Cleave and the Chain Lightning effects caused by various items. As far as I can make out, this is all spells that hit multiple targets, but are not AoE; Thunder Clap, for instance, will still break sheep. Edit: Whirlwind, Sweeping Strikes, and Blade Flurry do not seem to be included. Overall this change is, frankly, awesome. The implications for tanking alone are highly pleasant, as well as for Hunter and Elemental Shaman DPS. I'm starting to get excited about patch 2.4 all over again.

Filed under: Patches, News items

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