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Arcane Brilliance: Professions for Mages, the thrilling conclusion



Each week Arcane Brilliance brings you a column about Mages and all things Mage-related. That's right, Arcane Brilliance is nothing if not consistent. You won't find any server instability here. We're never down, we're always up, and you can always enter our instanced content. And the best part? Arcane Brilliance doesn't charge you 15 bucks a month. Although, donations are totally welcome.

So how's everything? Did you make it through patch day unscathed? Did you log in, like me, and find that your Mage's face, forearms, and feet were gone, and there was a hole through his chest (pro tip: upgrade your video card drivers more than once every three years)? Are you running out of mana at an outrageous clip? Are your crit numbers from Molten Armor up or down? Did your guild manage to make it into Ulduar yet, and if so, did you manage to snag any phat loot? Did you dual spec your Mage so he can now both DPS and DPS? I went Frostfire/Firefrost, myself. When triple-specs hit, I'm taking a Frarcano-fire spec. Mark my words.

All in all, I'd say 3.1 wasn't too bad. We have some new glyphs to play with, the Argent Tournament is good, clean fun, our mounts can swim, and we have a whole new batch of loot-pinatas to blow up. Our DPS seems to be down a bit, but we're still beating Warlocks, so I'm not going to mail any angry, expletive-laced letters to Blizzard just yet. I've written them--rest assured--but I'm not yet prepared to actually invest in stamps for them. Those things are like a buck apiece these days.

So now we turn to the third and final installment in our guide to professions for Mages. If you missed them, the first two parts can be found here and here. This week we'll investigate the merits of Blacksmithing, Leatherworking, and Engineering. As an added bonus, we'll take a quick peek at the three secondary professions and enumerate the reasons for investing in them. Yes, even though you can conjure Strudel from the very air around you with but a word and a snap of your fingers, you still need to learn how to cook

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Filed under: Mage, Herbalism, Fishing, Mining, Skinning, Alchemy, Blacksmithing, Cooking, Engineering, Leatherworking, Tailoring, Enchanting, First Aid, Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Jewelcrafting, Features, Raiding, Leveling, Guides, Classes, (Mage) Arcane Brilliance, Inscription

WoW Insider's Patch 3.1 FAQ

Our own Elizabeth Harper has been hard at work gathering together all of the most frequently asked questions that we've received over the last few weeks regarding patch 3.1. Now that the realms are finally coming up, it's a good time to get these out to you all because many of you will probably be asking them soon, too!

Our FAQ is listed below, and if you ever want to find it again just bookmark this page. It will always be there, and should there be a need to update it at any point, we'll be sure to do so! Thanks for sticking with us today, ladies and gentlemen.

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Filed under: Patches, How-tos, Guides

WoW, Casually: Leveling gear (Reader Mail)

Robin Torres writes WoW, Casually for the player with limited playtime. Of course, you people with lots of playtime can read this too, but you may get annoyed by the fact that we are unashamed, even proud, of the fact that beating WoW isn't our highest priority. Take solace in the fact that your gear is better than ours, but if that doesn't work, remember that we outnumber you. Not that that's a threat, after all, we don't have time to do anything about it. But if WoW were a democracy, we'd win.

Jason writes in about leveling gear for the playtime-challenged:

Hello,

As a casual
WoW player, I find myself completely overwhelmed when it comes to getting gear for my Paladin. I keep hearing about greens, blues, purples...how certain equipment can get you laughed out of guilds. I'm level 55 and have never gone on a raid, and honestly never intend to. How can the average casual gamer know what equipment to pursue, though? Logically, the best stuff would come from the end-game content, but since most casual gamers don't head in that direction, it can be very intimidating to figure out what "good" gear really is.

Any insight you could provide would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks,

- Jason


There really is a huge difference between gear required for leveling and gear required for raiding, heroic instances or hardcore PvP. You absolutely do not have to be a gear expert until you want to participate in endgame instances, so don't get too stressed out about it. Following is a guide for collecting the best gear while casually leveling your character -- or as in my case, characters.

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Filed under: Items, Analysis / Opinion, Leveling, WoW, Casually

Arcane Brilliance: Professions for Mages, part 2



Each week Arcane Brilliance, a column about Mages, levels up. It gains 3 intellect, 2 stamina, 2 spirit, and 1 talent point. In case you were wondering, Arcane Brilliance has been leveling up every week for the past four years. That's right: Arcane Brilliance is level 208. What has Arcane Brilliance been doing with all of those talent points, you ask? Arcane Brilliance is specced 63/75/60. And yes, Arcane Brilliance still gets pwned by Lichborne in the 201-210 pvp bracket.


Last week, we took our Mages job-hunting. We looked into Tailoring and Jewelcrafting, and explored the three gathering professions. This week, our job search takes us into slightly more magical territory, as we look at the potential benefits of Enchanting, Alchemy, and Inscription. All of these professions are similar, in that they begin with vowels.

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Filed under: Mage, Alchemy, Enchanting, Analysis / Opinion, Features, Raiding, Leveling, Guides, Classes, (Mage) Arcane Brilliance, Inscription

Arcane Brilliance: Professions for Mages, part 1



Each week Arcane Brilliance thinks about its career as a Mage. It considers which profession to pursue, and polishes up its résumé:

Previous job-titles: Sweet DPS, Table-whore, Sheep-bot

Job skills: Can blow stuff up good. Able to conjure 400 strudels per minute (depending on lag). Can teleport. Hates Warlocks...

Now that the PTR class changes for patch 3.1 seem to have died down a bit, we can finally talk about other things. I asked last week for topic suggestions, and you guys responded in typically spectacular fashion. That's one of the best parts about writing a column for Mages: my readership is made up of freaking Mages. I can always count on you guys to be smart and insightful...as well as complete nutjobs.

Suggestions ranged from relatively normal (PvP tactics), to angry and bitter (One guy is switching his main to a Death Knight because Mages apparently suck now), to mean (I should rename the column from "Arcane Brilliance" to "QQ"), to clever (the most effective places to AoE farm, since, you know, we are the kings of AoE), to disturbing (Top 10 ways to cook and serve Warlock on a budget). Okay, so I made the last one up. Several of you thought a column on profession choices for Mages would be a good idea. So, that's what you're getting this week. Well, the first part of it. I plan to do this in installments, which may or may not come on concurring weeks. The next part will probably be coming along next Saturday, barring any crazy patch-news or my sudden demise.

Those of you who've been reading this column for awhile may remember the last time Arcane Brilliance dealt with professions for Mages. So much has changed since then--both for Mages as a class and for the professions themselves--that I felt an all-new multi-part guide was in order.

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Filed under: Mage, Herbalism, Mining, Skinning, Tailoring, Analysis / Opinion, Jewelcrafting, Leveling, Guides, Classes, (Mage) Arcane Brilliance

BRK taking a break from World of Warcraft

Our good friend and colleague Daniel "BigRedKitty" Howell has announced on his blog that he is taking a break from World of Warcraft. He's taking time off of the game and his blog to, as he says, "rededicate myself to my family." He thanks readers for their attention and kind words, and hopes that everyone will understand his decision, as well as examine their own lives to make sure that they focus on what's most important to them.

We of course wish him well -- BRK was an excellent contributor to our site and podcast, and we commend him on making the decision to do what's right for him and his family. We hope that everything turns out OK. And as many of his commenters have said, we wish him the best of luck in everything, WoW-related and otherwise.

Phaelia of Resto4Life, you'll remember, also closed her blog down recently, also choosing to focus on her family (and the sapling about to grow into it). Trying to figure out a good balance between your free time and your work and family life is a tough thing -- our Azeroth Interrupted column has covered exactly that battle. And as even Blizzard says, if any other part of your life is suffering because you're choosing to play this game or be a part of this community, it's time to make a break. Raiding the wilds of Azeroth is a lot of fun, and it's possible to do it while leading a healthy life. But if that balance ever gets thrown off, it's time to take a step back and do what's right for you and those closest to you.

Filed under: Hunter, Analysis / Opinion, Fan stuff, Virtual selves, Odds and ends, Classes

Arcane Brilliance: Okay, now I like spirit



Each week Arcane Brilliance glances around to make sure there are no Death Knights in the area, then daintily tiptoes out from cover long enough to throw together a column about Mages. Usually, this ends badly for Arcane Brilliance. Out of nowhere, a big purple rope-looking thingy wraps itself around Arcane Brilliance's neck and drags it backward into a big stabby implement of some type. Arcane Brilliance tries to fight back, but finds it has been silenced three different ways and the Death Knight that just jumped it has enclosed them both beneath some kind of ugly anti-magic igloo. So, Arcane Brilliance no longer want to hear any complaints about misspelled words or grammatical errors. Arcane Brilliance is simply too busy getting ganked by Death Knights to proofread. I swear.

When I posted on Wednesday about the giant Mage Q&A session hosted by the developers, I was cautiously optimistic. The developers repeatedly assured Mages in that Q&A thread that they were keeping a close eye on our performance on the PTR, that a lot of our concerns would shake themselves out as we continued along through the testing process. Chief among these concerns of late has been the nerf to Molten Armor and its glyph, a change that tied the formerly static 5% crit buff those offered to spirit and turned out to be a nerf to the large majority of Mages and a slight buff to only the most well-geared among us. As nerfs went, it wasn't the most devastating one in recent memory, but was disproportionately reviled by Mages because it forced us to pay attention to a stat that was otherwise of little value to us. In the Q&A thread, we were told that the developers were aware of our concerns and would consider upping the spirit-to-crit conversion rate if they felt it necessary. I remained positive, but wasn't exactly holding my breath.

It appears I needn't have been skeptical. The latest PTR build already reflects a few very nice changes for those of us who like to wear robes, waggle sticks in the air, and hurl large flaming orbs of magical death at Warlocks. That's right, my fellow Mages: It appears the nerf-train has at least temporarily run itself off the rails. Follow me after the break, and we'll go over the specific changes.

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

Vaneras answers a whole lot of Mage questions



In Saturday's Arcane Brilliance, I linked you to a Ghostcrawler post on the official forums in which he answered a good number of pressing Mage questions. Some of his answers were encouraging, some were vague, but all of them served to give a Mage community very concerned about its future a more enlightening look at Blizzard's development goals for our class than we've had in some time.

On the heels of that post comes this truly epic thread on the EU forums from Vaneras. He begins by reposting Ghostcrawler's earlier Q&A in its entirety. Five pages of Mage questions later, he presents us with no fewer than four more gigantic posts filled with more questions and developer answers (whether this is direct from Ghostcrawler or not isn't made clear).

This may be, quite frankly, more direct communication between the developers and Mages in one day than in the rest of the six months of Wrath's existence combined. I found a lot contained within that was encouraging. I found a few things that concerned me. Mostly, though, I'm just happy we're on speaking terms again. I was beginning to think that maybe all those things some of us said about "slaps in the face" and "re-rolling a Lock" and "quitting the game" had offended Blizzard, and they'd finally taken our number out of their phone and changed their Myspace status to "Stop calling me, Mages." My thoughts on this wealth of information after the jump.

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Filed under: Mage, Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Classes, Buffs

Arcane Brilliance: I still don't like spirit



Each week Arcane Brilliance delivers a column about Mages to you, and you, in turn, deliver Mages to the column. Thank you, Mages. Some of you deliver Warlocks to the column. Screw you, Warlocks.

Wow. Just a warning: I got done watching the series finale of Battlestar Galactica like 5 minutes ago, and I cried like a little girl like 12 times throughout. I'll try to keep it together long enough to successfully complete this column, but holy crap. That was some pretty stirring stuff right there. Let it be known that I'm not too big a nerd to completely lose it during the final episode of BSG. Wait...maybe that actually makes me a bigger nerd? I don't know. I'd like to think there are bigger dorks than me out there, and they're probably twittering about plot holes and scientific inaccuracies and how Ron Moore is the antichrist or whatever as we speak. At least I'm not doing that. I'm bawling like a baby, but I'm not nerd-raging about a sci-fi show on the interwebs, right? Now if you'll excuse me, I have to write a column about the latest nerfs to the Mage class in World of Warcraft.

Seriously, patch 3.1 can't come soon enough, as far as I'm concerned. You know why? Because when it arrives, it'll mean Blizzard is finally done nerfing us.

Now, granted, Mages on the live servers are definitely on the good side of the class-balance pendulum right now, so it makes a certain amount of sense, given Blizzard's never-ending quest to make everything in the game identical, that we were going to see a few nerfs. Knowing that doesn't make watching it happen any more fun. It's sort of like having a gangrenous limb amputated, only having to be fully awake throughout the operation, and having it take place bit by bit over the course of several months. For frak's sake, just knock us out and don't wake us 'til it's over. You can find the details on this week's chopping--along with my feelings on it--after the break. Bring some novocain, won't you?

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

Arcane Brilliance: Q to the power of Q



Each week Arcane Brilliance runs out of mana halfway through a column about Mages. Seriously, Arcane Brilliance is terrible at managing its mana. And then every time it Evocates, Arcane Brilliance manages to get interrupted before it gets any mana back. It really sucks. Yep, Arcane Brilliance spends a lot of time wanding. To be honest, Arcane Brilliance is probably about one more wipe away from getting kicked out of its guild. LTP, Arcane Brilliance...LTP.

I tried my best to be optimistic last week, to look at the changes to Fiery Payback and Impact (especially Impact) as semi-good things. The Fiery Payback-disarm effect will be marginally positive, I told myself, and at the very least, Impact being triggered by Fire Blast will make the spell less random and more controllable, right? We Mages get such a reputation for being whiners that I try to steer clear of pessimism as much as a can just to avoid being lumped in with that lame generalization. I try, and most of the time I fail, but I award myself an "A" for effort.

The comments section set me straight last week. Fire Mages are not happy with Blizzard's attempt at improving their survivability in PvP. You guys were brutally frank in your comments, and I have to admit that I see your point. Nobody likes dying, but as a Fire Mage you sort of expect it, similar to the way nobody likes getting tackled, but as a football player you know it comes with the territory. All Fire Mages want is to be able to dish out an acceptable amount of pain before they explode. In fact, a lot of you proposed the idea of allowing Fire Mages to literally explode upon death, making killing one a dangerous proposition. Several of you commented that this was a Fire Mage's idea of survivability, to die, but leave a smoking crater behind. Seriously, this is an idea I can get behind.

Here's the thing, though: If you weren't happy with the changes last week, you really aren't going to like the latest PTR build. Follow me through the break and we'll talk ourselves through the changes. I'll try to keep the tears to a minimum.

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

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

Arcane Brilliance: Dual-speccing your Mage



Each week, Arcane Brilliance brings you a wealth of Mage news and information, an unhealthy amount of incredibly biased commentary, a sprinkling of unnecessary and entirely random pop culture references, at least one unapologetically hateful and frequently childish comment about Warlocks, several examples of poor spelling and questionable grammar, and the occasional wildly inappropriate fart joke. I apologize in advance.

Patch 3.1 is allegedly bringing with it one of the most significant changes the game has yet seen: the dual spec system. Players have been clamoring for the option to switch between specs freely as long as players have been clamoring for just about anything, so this new system promises to make a lot of people very happy. I'm a little excited about it myself. I may or may not have taught my two-year how to say "dual spec." I think she believes it to mean "when I say this, Daddy starts smiling and talking a lot." I also may or may not be secretly training her to be a tiny Warlock-killing machine. "OK, kiddo, this button here is called 'Counterspell.' Go ahead, push it. Now blow up the Gnome with the ugly doggie over there. Good job!" I believe Warlock-hate is something that can only be taught at home. I'm not trusting the school system to instill those values in my kids, that's for sure. And, yes, I'm a terrible, terrible parent.

Ahem. Back to dual specs.

Though the system will undoubtedly be more exciting to hybrid classes, we Mages will still benefit greatly from ready access to two different talent specs in our own special pure-class way. No, we can't switch roles like a Warrior or Druid will be able to--no matter how we spec, we're always going to be DPS--but having a different brand of DPS at our fingertips to switch to when the situation calls for it will be more significant than you may think.

So what, exactly, will dual specs mean for Mages? Click on the magical orange text below and we'll discuss the possibilities.

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Filed under: Mage, Patches, Analysis / Opinion, PvP, Features, Raiding, Classes, Talents, (Mage) Arcane Brilliance, Battlegrounds, Arena

Arcane Brilliance: Patch 3.1 Musings



Each week Arcane Brilliance dispeneses a tall glass of sweet Mage content. Sometimes this content consists of pure, undistilled truth. Other times, there's some crap in the mix. I blame Blizzard, for putting the truth and the crap right next to each other on the same shelf. You'd think they'd put the truth all alone on its own shelf--you know, to prevent any misunderstandings--or maybe put labels on this stuff, clearly distinguish the truth from the crap. If it were me, I think I'd just stop stocking the crap all together. They must know something I don't. I guess that's why they're the giant game developer and I'm the guy sitting in front of my computer in my pajamas eating pop tarts and trying not to get too many crumbs on the keyboard.

In case you've been stranded on a remote island for the past week with nothing but a volleyball for company and only just made it back to civilization, put a shirt on, shave your beard and brace yourself: we finally got some solid patch 3.1 info. I know, it totally makes that week of eating coconuts and talking to yourself worthwhile, right?

We've been waiting for this patch almost since day one of Wrath, with its tantalizing promises of Ulduar and dual specs, and now Blizzard has given us a lot more details. There will a huge amount of class changes, and Mages will not be left out of the mix. The announced changes are intriguing, even if they are infuriatingly vague. We're definitely getting some new stuff, some buffs, some nerfs, some buff-nerfs...but as to the specifics, who knows, really? Pending more detail, we're going to have to take our best educated guesses as to what all of this means. Follow me after the jump for as much unsubstantiated conclusion-jumping as you can handle.

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Filed under: Mage, Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Features, Classes, Talents, Buffs, (Mage) Arcane Brilliance, Wrath of the Lich King

Arcane Brilliance: Arcanapalooza



Each week Arcane Brilliance drops at a 100% rate from your computer screen. It can be equipped in any slot, and doesn't bind to your character in any way, shape or form. It can be disenchanted into whatever you want, and sells to merchants for a million gold. It is of legendary quality. When equipped, it raises all of your stats exponentially, to the power of awesome. It also has an on-use ability with no cooldown: Arcane Brilliance instantly turns any targetted Warlock into a ridable mount.

I have to begin by admitting my deep bias here. Since midway through The Burning Crusade I've been a deep Arcane Mage. I loved the Arcane tree when it was bad, and I love it now that it's good. It's entirely possible that this fact disqualifies me from even speaking rationally about this topic, but I've never let a crippling lack of impartiality stop me before.

Even those who now hate this spec and cry loudly (and as frequently as the refresh button on their internet browsers will allow) for massive and immediate nerfs will agree that there has never been a better time to be an Arcane Mage. Already quite powerful in PvP and fairly solid in PvE, patch 3.0.8 has only increased the effectiveness of this formidable spec. Playing an Arcane Mage is easy to pick up and challenging to master, and more out-and-out fun than it has any right to be. Follow me after the break and we'll discuss some of the ins and outs of this very potent school of magic.

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Filed under: Mage, Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Tips, PvP, Features, Raiding, Classes, Talents, Buffs, (Mage) Arcane Brilliance, Wrath of the Lich King

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