Archive for the ‘Mage’ Category

A Confession

Posted: 16 February, 2011 in Cataclysm, Mage, Raiding, Warrior

We spent the entirety of Monday night wiping on Al’akir in Throne of the Four Winds this week.  He’s the only boss we’ve not killed yet and the 25 man team should really be moving onto Heroic raid content, yet leaving one boss unkilled feels like failure, so off to the Throne we went.  Twice we got him down to less than 9%, and phase three of the fight is really the easiest part of the whole encounter, so by rights the guy should be dead.  However, Al’akir is the kind of boss who highlights my biggest problem in raiding – information overload.

It’s not just Cataclysm raiding, hard mode Hodir in Ulduar was another brick wall I ran into, and there have been others, but Al’akir’s the most recent example of the kind of problem I have on bosses where there’s just too much going on for me to remain effective.  The problem is, I’m 41 next month.  My reflexes aren’t what they used to be, there are youngsters in our raid who act like they have the reaction times of rattlesnakes on crack and they handle fights like this with ease.  Me, I need time to process things, time to let muscle memory take the slack that my reflexes can’t handle and my brain can’t process.  In this fight, you need to lay the smack down on the boss while ensuring you avoid three potentially lethal abilities.  The first is a pretty standard chain lightning effect, so…  spread out.  The second is a wall of cyclones that rotate around the boss.  There’s one gap in the wall and if you’re not in it, you get picked up and carried with the cyclones, throwing lightning bolts around your raid as you go.  It’ll probably kill you, but the major danger is the damage you do to the rest of your raid.  The final ability is a wind blast that the boss does to knock everyone back a certain distance.  Unless you’re hugging the boss it will probably knock you off the edge of his platform.  This won’t kill you, you get caught and eventually blown back up, but taken into consideration with the wall of cyclones it can be very nasty.  The thing is, they both happen at the same time throughout phase one.  So you get the warning that he’s about to do a Wind Blast and you naturally want to be close to the boss, except there’s a wall of cyclones approaching and the gap in the wall is away from the boss.  Decision time, folks.  Try to make the gap in time and get close to the boss so the wind blast doesn’t knock you off?  Or try to outrun the cyclone, but you then run the risk of getting caught in the chain lightning aimed at the group next to you and overloading your healers.  Or you can just jump off the edge and do zero dps for the next ten seconds, prolonging the length of time it takes to get into phase two where the wind blasts stop, and there’s no guarantee you won’t end up thrown into a cyclone anyway when you land back on the platform.

During all this, you’re contantly rotating your camera around, looking both ways for cyclones, keeping an eye on the timer bar for wind blasts, moving in, moving out, moving back to the group you’re supposed to stay with to avoid extra chain lightning damage, spinning the camera to ensure you are actually in the gap in the cyclone wall, watching the ground near you in both directions for the tell-tale graphic effect that warns you a cyclone is about to spawn and deciding where to move in advance if it does and somehow doing damage to the boss as well throughout all of it.  There are people who can handle this amount of information processing with ease the first night they see it.  I am not one of those people.  I can stay alive or I can do competitive dps, until I’ve done the fight enough for muscle memory to take over, I simply cannot do both.

My crappy dps probably cost us a kill on Monday.  We’d all be riding around on Dark Phoenixes right now if I’d sat the raid out.

Of course, sitting the raid out means I never get the experience to be any good at it.  So there’s the Catch 22.  On the bright side, I am good at the one thing that certain others amongst the raid are manifestly not – firing my frikkin’ lazerz at the correct target at the correct time.  Usually the targets that don’t have the damage debuffs on them from everyone else that makes you look good on damage meters but do in fact need to be killed quick or everyone dies.  Oh hi Snobolds on Northrend Beasts, yes I’m looking at you.  In phase two of the Al’akir fight, the boss summons some little friends, and every time you kill one the boss gets a damage debuff.  They need to be killed roughly one every 20 seconds in order to maximise the damage to the boss without running out of the little buggers.  Perhaps it’s my 21 years of military service, but when the raid leader says “You, you, you and you, kill these adds every 20 seconds”, that’s exactly what I do.  I don’t get overexcited because a shaman just popped heroism and forget that there are still adds up that need to be killed or we lose the damage debuff on the boss, I kill adds.

Similarly, whenever there’s an unglamorous job that needs to be done which is going to cost you dps, I’m usually the one who does it.  In Naxxramas at level 60, I was the guy who corpse camped adds watching for scarab spawns on Anub’rekhan.  I was damn good at it too, none of those little bastards ever got away from me.  I was also the guy who switched to Frost spec on Deathbringer Saurfang in Icecrown Citadel in order to get a ranged snare on the Bloodbeasts when they spawned, and this probably led to our first successful heroic 25 man kill of him.  But I wonder, now do I volunteer for this stuff because I know that my dps on new bosses isn’t going to be what it should, but hey, I can always point to the vital low dps job I was doing as an excuse?  Or do I get picked for these jobs because the raid leader knows a) I can be trusted to do it well or b) because the loss of my mediocre dps won’t be a raid wiper.  Or in fact is it a) and b)?  I think it used to be a), but as the years went by and my reflexes and ability to quickly process information deteriorated, I suspect there’s a large element of b) coming into play too.

And the thing is, I don’t want to be carried, but I suspect I am.  Don’t get me wrong here, on those occasions when I can power up the lasers and nuke away like I never nuked before, I’m still perfectly capable of keeping up with the big boys, and once I’ve learned a fight and committed it to muscle memory I produce pretty decent results.  The problem is that you rarely get to stand in one safe spot and blaze away like an 80′s action hero anymore, and progression fights on 25 man heroic content are not the place to be for people who can’t process 15 different things at once and still produce rockstar dps.

I’m not saying I’m the only person in our raid who underperforms.  Everyone has bad days, but their consciences are their own problem, not mine.  I don’t want to be raiding if I feel like I’m the reason we’re not getting bosses killed, but I do want to be raiding.  So…  a quandary.  It doesn’t help that there’s one mage in our raid who is an absolute god.  I’m never going to be, and never have been as good as he is.  There’s no bad feeling here, he’s an immensely likeable and knowledgable player, but holding myself up against him as a comparsion wouldn’t be fair on anybody, let alone just me.

Curiously, I seem to be doing consistently good dps on Gorn, my Fury warrior.  This is wierd, because Mister Melee DPS and I have rarely been on speaking terms with each other.  I suspect the reason is that as a Warrior I find myself waiting just that fraction of a second longer for abilities to come off cooldown, that it allows me a reaction time budget that you just don’t get on a Mage.  I’m beginning to wonder if the best course of action might not be to retire Calli and try to earn a raid spot on Gorn.  But…  well I’ve got a hell of a lot invested in the old girl.  It’s going to hurt, but it may be the honest thing to do.

I guess we’ll just see how it goes.  I need to do better, it’s just a question of working out what, and how.  Ideally I’d be doing better on Calli, but “doing better” may mean not raiding at all.  I just hope I’m honest enough with myself to recognise which is the correct option and act on it.

Mah Hat is on FIRE!

Posted: 23 January, 2011 in Cataclysm, Mage, misc

A mostly trivial post today, I just had to submit a screenie because the Mage tier 11 look is so freaking awesome.  Remember kids, anyone not a Mage sporting this look is clearly just a wannabe.  Yeah you heard me Warlocks and Shadow Priests!  Shoo!

Halp! Mah hat is on FIRE!


With apologies to Tam

My, You’re A Tall One!

Posted: 7 November, 2010 in levelling, Mage


My, but they grow up fast, don’t they?  Dingles is now level 71 and unleashed upon Northrend.  Total time played, 5 days, no heirloom gear.  She was level 67 before she’d even completed Zangarmarsh, and this is after heading to Outland at 58.  That’s nine levels completed in Hellfire Peninsula and Zangarmarsh alone.  A quick trip to Nagrand for the Ring of Blood at level 65 and to do the Hemet Nesingwary questline for a rather spiffing wand, and then she cooled her heels in Terrokar Forest for the hour it took her to ding level 68 and headed straight to Howling Fjord.

That’s where it started to get tougher.  Seriously, an Arcane Mage at level 58 in Hellfire Peninsula pretty much two-shots everything that has the balls to get in her way.  This pattern continued all through Outland.  Once you reach Northrend, however, things get a little more challenging.  Of course, if you’ve planned ahead and arranged a trip to Dalaran to get Cold Weather Flying so you can take advantage of one of these…


I brake for NO-ONE!

Then yes, things are a little easier going.  If you don’t have Cold Weather flying, I’d highly recommend Borean Tundra over Howling Fjord.  At least at the Tundra you don’t have to fight your way through a village of murderous Vrykul every single time you want to get to a quest giver.  But…  well I say things got a little more challenging in Northrend, and that’s technically true.  Dingles often had to cast a third spell to kill stuff.  But there’s challenging and then there’s challenging.  Doing the Argent Dawn quests in Eastern and Western Plaguelands at the early 50s in Vanilla was challenging.  Doing Stratholme in blues at 60 was challenging.  Levelling a character to 80 these days…  is not.

But at least the npcs have a sense of humour about it…



Of course, the benefit of having two accounts is that you can effectively boost yourself through instances.  The screenshot taken above was from the Slave Pens, where I played Galadan with Dingles running around after Keelahselai on auto-follow.  A couple of days ago I had Gorn run Dingles through Utgarde Keep.  I’m planning on doing a Nexus run today.  It’s surprising how smoothly you can do it, too.  Both instances of the game ran very well on my PC, which is over two years old.  Having two of your characters meet each other in Dalaran on a weekend night is another story, however…


The Royal Bank of Calli's first annual shareholders meeting

Dingles took advantage of the lag to dodge questions about where the 5000g from the guildbank went.  I refer you to picture #1 at the top.

Oh, and Engineering?  Best.  Tradeskill.  Ever.  Why did no-one tell me?  In one more level (72), Dingles is getting a level 200 epic hat.  She shoots guided missiles out of her fingertips and has rockets in her boots.  Yes, I know the Hyperspeed Accellerators are technically better than the Hand-Mounted Pyro Rockets, but come on!  SHE SHOOTS ROCKETS OUT OF HER FINGERTIPS!  Get with the programme!

So I’m off to get her to 72 asap so she can try on her new epic hat.  It’s off to Borean Tundra I go, and woe betide anything that gets in her way.  Mess with the gnome, you get the Gyrochromatic Hydrospanner!


P.S.  If you’re an engineer, there’s an Auction House in Dalaran!

Well it’s been nearly two weeks since The Patch, time enough to get a feel for what’s what.  So, armed with the experience of a couple of jaunts into heroic 25 man Icecrown Citadel, a couple of heroics and a whole lot of trips to Scarlet Monastery to kick the crap out of the Headless Horseman, here’s my view so far.

This World Will End in Flames!
Fire Mage AoE.  Wow.  Of course it couldn’t last forever.  With Fire Mages totally dominating dps on trash packs the inevitable QQ from everyone else resulted in the fastest nerf on Live since “To The Ground, Baby!”  Because, of course, Boss progression is totally dependent on how quickly you can kill the meaningless trash that pads out raids between bosses, isn’t it?  Oh wait, no it isn’t.  And here’s the thing, aside from the numerous instant area of effect bombs Fire mages have at their disposal, what really set us apart on large trash pack burns was one thing – Pyromaniac.  That’s 10% spell haste if three or more targets are taking damage from Fire dots.  10% spell haste.  That’s a metric butt-load of haste.  And here’s the problem with Fire, when you don’t have Pyromaniac up and running…  Fire sucks.  So that would be…  on just about every raid boss fight in the game.  Oh right, yeah, I see where you’re going with that.  Meanwhile, Arcane is just as boring a two-button spec as it ever was, except one thing immediately stood out…

I think we were on Saurfang, I forget exactly but it was probably Saurfang as I’d switched to Arcane to get the benefit of the built-in slow effect from Nether Vortex on Arcane Blast on the Blood Beasts, and one of the Shadow Priests whispered me “68k AB!”  Took me a while to figure out what he meant until I checked my damage logs.  Yep, I’d scored a 68,000 damage Arcane Blast hit.  Ouch.  That’s a lot of pain in one shot.  I started paying attention to my combat log after that and it got better.  Ladies and gentlefolk, I scored a 98,000 damage Arcane Blast that night, and no, it wasn’t on Blood Queen with the Vampire buff.  It was a Joe Average, run of the mill, regular old Arcane Blast.  98,ooo damage.  In one hit.

Arcane suddenly started being a lot more interesting.

Don’t get me wrong, Fire is fun.  Lots of fun.  And it’s going to get even more fun when we get Disco Ball at level 81, but 98,000 damage in one hit.  That’s a pretty compelling argument.  Doing heroics is a bit crappy, too.  Running a heroic as a Fire Mage is an exercise in tedium.  Do I drop that Blastwave/Flamestrike combo now, pull aggro off the tank and get squished or wait a few seconds and…  oh they’re all dead.  Here’s a boss, stick a Living Bomb on him, wind up a Fireball….  oh he’s dead.  Meh.  Obviously this is all going to change and probably become a LOT more fun once we start levelling to 85, but at the moment… meh!  Arcane on the other hand?  Pick a trash mob, one-shot it, pick another, one-shot it.

Meanwhile, Frost.  Where shall I start?  Well first, I have no experience of Frost at level 80 since The Patch hit.  Well, that’s not exactly true.  I have lots of experience of being utterly destroyed by Frost Mages in Wintergrasp while grinding out G.N.E.R.D Rage on Gorn and Galadan, but that’s not exactly the same thing.  At lower levels, however, well..  time for an interlude.

You Want the Gnome?  You Can’t Handle the Gnome!
It’s time I introduced you to Dingles.  She’s a Gnome mage who started out as a bank alt in my bank guild, The Royal Bank of Calli.  She got a bit…  well…  out of control.  You see the thing is, I started levelling engineering on her.  Yeah, all the engineers reading this are nodding their heads and laughing.  The problem was that engineering gadgets are a LOT of fun.  Using a Big Bronze Bomb to take out an entire pack of mobs the same level as you in one shot?  Yeah that never gets old.  But I needed to get to level 20 to learn Journeyman Engineering, and then I got stuck there until level 35 before I could learn Artisan Engineering.  Now she really needs to get to 50 before I can get the really good stuff.

So yeah, I have a level 43 bank alt and I’m not ashamed of it!  Well young Dingles levelled as Fire and struggled along as young Fire Mages always have.  She had a brief flirtation with Frost at around the level 20 stage and it was awful.  Just awful.  Here’s how your average fight would go:

Frostbolt – missed
Frostbolt – missed
Frostbolt – hit 60 (40 resisted)
Frostbolt – missed
Frost Nova – missed

And then we got The Patch, and everything changed.  For a start, you now get Hot Streak at level 29.  Yeah, really.  That alone is worth the entrance fee.  Sure, your crit rate sucks so you’re not proccing Hot Streak Pyroblasts on every other shot as you would at 80, but you pretty much get one every other fight, and trust me, that’s enough.  It also stays up long enough that if you finish a kill with Hot Streak still up, you can queue a Fireball/Pyroblast combo right away for your next attack.  Oh wait, that’s Fireball/Pyroblast!  Forgot the “!”  Also, Impact helps out a massive amount at low levels, and it goes off very reliably indeed.  You feel a lot more in control of the fights as Fire at low levels, which makes a really nice change, as Fire has never been about control until now…  more a case of “Kill it, kill it, quick!  AAARGH!”  So Dingles levelled to 40 as Fire and then bought herself a dual talent spec and I decided to see how Frost looked.

Oh boy.

Frost ROCKS!  Nothing, and I mean NOTHING touches a Frost mage.  With Improved Cone of Cold you effectively have double Frost Novas on an 8 second cooldown (three Frost Novas if you have your Water Elemental).  At a guess, I’d say that talent alone is responsible for 95% of the hate directed at Frost Mages in pvp.  Throw in Brain Freeze for free damage and Permafrost for even more slowing torment and anything that survives to get close enough to a Frost Mage to get hit by a Frost Nova is really going to wish it hadn’t.

Oh, did you know you can rename your water elemental?  Just type the following into chat:

/run PetRename(“NAME HERE”)

With the name of your elemental inbetween the ” and “.  Dingles’ elemental is Squirty by the way.

So yeah, Frost is cool.  Pun intended.

But what of the other classes?  Well Fingers has never been the same.  He and every other Combat Rogue have been crying into their beer, looking wistfully at scrapbook pictures of their Armour Penetration gems.  Let me assure you, regemming a Combat Rogue for Agility is an expensive, and ultimately pointless business.  Here’s the problem with Combat, and it’s all down to their Mastery – Main Gauche.  Here we have a Mastery that totally flies in the face of every talent in its own tree.  Main Gauche wants you to have a fast Main hand weapon to increase the chance it will proc and a slow Offhand weapon to get the most out of the proc when it happens.  But the signature move of the Combat Rogue – Sinister Strike, demands that you have a slow Main hand weapon and fast offhand to proc poison on that slow Main hand.  So you can use a fast Main Hand to support your Mastery and do shit damage with your main attack, or do decent damage with your main attack and have no use for your Mastery whatsoever.  Frankly, you’re better off avoiding your Mastery completely and reforging for Haste.  Or just accept defeat and respec Assassination.  I suspect it won’t be long before Combat gets a big old overhaul.  It’s so broken right now it’s not even funny.

Askara, on the other hand, had to be shown Blizzards webpage and forced to read the patch notes before you could convince her that there’d even been a patch.  She did wonder why she’d suddenly had to redo all her Restoration and Enhance glyphs, and wondered briefly what the Elemental Shamans were getting so excited about, but it’s a case of same shit, different day for her.

Shinano…  well, can we please have a minute of silence for Shinano.  She’s in mourning you see.  She recently lost a dear and beloved friend who’d been with her for years because apparently her 20% reduced mana costs for all spells and 6% bonus healing for the entire raid were simply a cosmetic effect with no bearing upon gameplay.  Rest in Peace, Tree of Life.  You will be missed.  Yes, I know, you don’t need to tell me, we’ve got a cut-down, drugged up on steroids, short term Tree of Life, but it’s just NOT the same.  Tree of Life was about doing the Twist with your Teldrassil Sapling, about having the best emotes in the game and making jokes about having Wood.  It was about the whole character of your Resto druid.  Try dancing the Twist in the burn phase of a raid boss when you need to use Tree form and watch your raid leader lose their sense of humour pronto.

Balance on the other hand, got a special delivery of YAHOOO!!!  I have just about no clue what I’m doing in Laser Chicken form anymore, but the numbers are big and the special effects sure are pretty.  It’s all something to do with casting nature spells until something happens and then casting arcane spells until somethng else happens and oh look…  a Solar Flare!  PEW PEW!!!  Woohoo!

Aluriel’s having a similar experience.  As a Discipline Priest she pretty much never casts a heal.  Yeah I know, when you write it down like that it does sort of leap right out at you, doesn’t it?  Shield, Smite, Smite, Smite, Archangel, Smite, Smite, Smite oh he’s dead.  Next!  Wait, wasn’t I the healer?  Actually, no, not any more.  Now I’m just really shit dps.  Well, in some of the groups I’ve done I’ve been the top dps, but that’s another story.  The point is…  well, I’m not really sure what the point is, but I know I didn’t roll a Priest so I could spam Smite until my fingers bleed.  If I wanted to do shitty dps I’d have rolled a Combat Rogue.  Oh, sorry, Fingers.  Didn’t know you were listening.  I may have to reroll Holy.

On the other hand, while we’re on the subject of doing dps…  shadow.  Oh wow.  Oh wow indeed.  There’s been some serious buffing going on there.  Aluriel’s in pretty much the same situation as Shinano in Laser Chicken spec, no clue what’s going on but shit, those numbers are HUGE!  And let’s just get one thing straight, for the record.  Shadow Orbs.  They’re shadowy, ok?  NOT PINK!  Right?   Right.

Aside from all the class changes, the world is definitely a lot prettier than it used to be.  For those whose graphics cards can handle it there’s some pretty sweet eye candy out there for you.  Here’s young Dingles enjoying a view of the new water effects in Stranglethorn Vale.

If that wasn’t the clincher, they even managed to make the Wetlands look pretty.

They’ve also done something pretty with the way sunbeams work, as you can see from this shot taken in Terrokar Forest.

And Now For Something Completely Different

On a slightly more light hearted note, it’s always reassuring to know that even the most intelligent and articulate of players can have the occasional blonde moment:

And it’s always good to see that news of Dickhead of the Week gets around.

And finally, Gnome Priests…  I’m telling you, they’re EVERYWHERE!

Okay, We Get The Joke Already!

Posted: 1 October, 2010 in Cataclysm, Mage

Those kerrrrrrazy funsters over at Blizzard have done it again!  Check out the sweet new mage changes on the Beta!

Mage (Forums / 3.3.5 Talent Calculator / Cataclysm Talent Calculator / Beta Skills/Talents)

Yes, Blizzard clearly subscribe to the theory that if a joke’s funny once it’s funny every time.   Way back in Patch 1.5.0, amidst massive swathes of changes for every class, you could have blinked and missed the attention that was being lavished on mages.  Squint hard enough and you’d notice it, though.

Mage Armour – Now has a new, unique, icon.

Ho ho bloody ho!  Yes, that was it.  Okay, it was pretty funny, but it’s become a running gag with the game developers.  When Wrath of the Lich King came out, mages could buy a new version of the Arcane Intellect spell at the reagent shop in Dalaran – Dalaran Brilliance.  The difference?  It was Arcane Intellect with a “new, unique, icon.”  Oh Ghostcrawler, you crack me up.  You pull the same joke twice but this time we get to pay for the privilege!  Okay so I get that the lack of mage changes means that we’re probably all done as a class and ready for Cataclysm, but with any other class all you’d see is “No changes at this time”.  But we’re special, we have to have the piss taken.

Watch this space for patch 5.0.1.  Mages get a new mana biscuit, “Warlock’s Tears”, the same as your existing maximum rank conjured food but with a new, unique icon.  Yours for a one-time fee of only 5000g at your nearest reagent shop!

Yeah, I’d probably buy it too.

Moving on swiftly, Calli’s been up to no good in Ulduar.  Algalon finally got his arse handed to him, we’ve been spicing things up before Cataclysm by revisiting old raids and farming achievments we missed first time around.  No matter which way you cut it, Calli definitely pulls off the Tier 8 look waaaaay better than that noob Rhonin.  Groovy new title too.

Rhonin, imma let you finish, but I look way cooler in Tier 8 than you do.

And in other news, my ongoing quest to furnish every alt with a mount that isn’t the Bronze Drake from Old Stratholme gathers pace as Shinano finds a new friend.

Fly, my pretty! Fly!

And a shocking discovery in the depths of Gnomeregan this week!  Examine these pictures in greater detail…

Power Word: Fortitude buff….  Casting Bar says “Heal”.  Both fairly signature abilities of a certain class

It's a gnome, Jim, but not as we know it!

The forum QQ over gnome priests can stop right now.  They’ve actually been in the game since launch.  Head down to Gnomeregan and see them for yourself!

That’s all, folks!