Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Firelands Update: Beth'tilac

Welcome back mages, and other hangers-on. For this instalment, we’ll be taking a look at Beth’tilac. I’ve had this one on farm for a few weeks now, and I believe its time to impart some of the lessons I’ve learnt. This big spider is loosely allied with Ragnaros’ forces, although her brood seem to be spending a lot of time fighting with them. Odd. Regardless, she’s there, she’s a spider and she wants to kill us all and set her brood loose on Azeroth to wreak destruction and kill your wives and children. And if that’s not enough reason to kill her, or if the idea of that much fiery destruction and suffering makes you want to clap your hands with glee (I wouldn’t blame you to be honest), then she drops shiny purples. Regardless, she’s often the second boss you’ll take down once you hit the Firelands with your raid. This boss is a step up from Shannox in terms of requirements. The soft enrage of phase 2 is absolutely brutal, prepare for a fair bit of wiping. Let’s have a look at her abilities:

For starters, you will be dealing with 3 types of adds: Cinderweb Drones, Cinderweb Spinners and Cinderweb Spiderlings. The drones spawn throughout phase one, as do the Spiderlings, whereas the spinners spawn in 3 waves during phase one. The fight is split into 2 levels, the ground level, and the web level. At the start of the fight, Beth’tilac will climb up to the web level, and spinners will descend (the first wave). When killed or taunted down, they drop a web, which can be used (like getting into a vehicle) to climb to the web level. A tank healers and 1-2/5-6 (10/25 man) dps will be sent up to the web level, while everyone else will remain on the floor. I will deal with the floor first, and then the web.

If you are on the floor, you will be dealing with the adds. Your first priority should be any spinners left dangling from the upper web, because they do raid damage. Spinners on the ground are probably the least important (unless your raid leader says otherwise). You will probably be assigned to either spiderlings or drones. The spiderlings will spawn in packs, and head straight for the nearest drone. They have to be AOE’d down (they have no aggro table) because if the reach the drone, each spiderling will be consumed, healing the drone for 20% health and a damage boost. If you are on the drone, it has to be burned down before its energy bar hits 0. If it does, the drone will go to the upper level, and start to siphon energy off Beth’tilac (which is bad). Try to stay stacked (unless you have to spam arcane explosion) for AOE heals. Eventually the boss will descend from her web. At this point, all spiderlings must be dead, because the boss will consume them for 10% of her health, which will probably constitute a wipe.

If you are on the web, you will need to go up on a spinner web. You should only go up once the tank and all healers have already gone up, or you will wipe the raid. Your job is simple: stand there and nuke the boss. She will be casting a constant pulsing AOE fire damage. There will be patches of fire spawning on the floor, you must absolutely avoid these, because they will hurt, and cause you to fall through the floor, off the web (if this happens, remember to slow fall). Jumping through the hole in the middle of the web will also cause you to fall down, but without fall damage. When the boss reaches 0 energy (which happens faster if there are drones siphoning energy off her (hence the need to kill them before they can go up top) she will cast shouldering devastation, which will kill anyone still on the web after 8 seconds (even if you’re ice blocked), so you need to jump through the central hole if this happens. I haven’t tested it, but I suppose cauterise will allow you to survive it, but this would leave you alone with the boss without a tank or healer, which is probably fatal). After smouldering devastation, the next wave of spinners will spawn, and you rinse and repeat. You will have 3 cycles before the boss descends, and every ounce of damage you do during this time will make phase 2 easier. I usually go up on my own for our raid group, and the boss is on 80% when phase 2 starts, which is enough for us to get the kill, but we have very good healers. With two dps up there you should be aiming for a minimum of 70%. When no one is on the web, the boss will do AOE damage to the raid.

Phase 2 will start after Beth’tilac casts smouldering devastation for the third time. The web team will descend, and at this point the priority is to kill and remaining spiderlings IMMEDIATLY. All dps should swap to this task. Any remaining drones and spinners should then be nuked down. The boss will now start to deal increasing AOE fire damage do the raid, as well as apply a de-buff to her main threat target which requires a tank swap to deal with. You should pop all cooldowns and nuke the boss down before she wipes the raid.

As a mage, there are several things to do during this fight, depending on your task. If you are on the floor, you will be tasked to a dps target. If on the drones, lucky you, it’s a simple Patchwork style rotation, same with the spinners. Just keep an eye out on how many smouldering devastations have been cast, so you have your main cooldowns ready for phase 2. If you are on the spinners, you are on AOE duty. Fire mages shine here, using blast wave to slow the adds, flamestrike, and of course spreading ignite through impact. Arcane mages will be using arcane explosion, while keeping their arcane blast stacks up by hitting the drone. If you’re in frost, use blizzard for the slow. Frost nova should be used by all three specs to lock the adds in place if they are nearing the drone, and ring of frost is your ‘oh s*** the spiderlings have almost hit the drone’ button. Again, any spinners still hanging from the web should be top priority, unless directed otherwise, because they deal a lot of damage when up there. If you’re in arcane, take care with casting evocation, because if you are at the point where no-one is on the web, the AOE damage from the boss will cause pushback which might lose you a tick or two. The same is true if you have a spinner aggro’d on you. Take care if AOEing the spinners as arcane that you don’t run out of healer range. If you’re on the web, you have a few things to worry about. Again, I’ll reiterate the importance of not standing in the fire patches. Aside from the poop, and the pushback from the AOE, you can run a standard rotation in fire and frost. If you’re in frost keep in mind you may be lacking your elemental (I haven’t tried it myself, but I’d imagine it’s the case). As arcane, this fight is rather annoying. Unless you have arcane power up, you will struggle to get through an entire burn phase. I usually pop arcane power and my mastery trinket when I first get up there, and do a burn phase without using mana gem. I will evocate when I get down, and make sure I have full mana when I go back up. If you need to use a mana gem to achieve this because you didn’t get a full evocation off, wait till you go back up there. For the second round on the web, I will have a small burn phase, use the mana gem, and then do a conservation rotation. I have a full burn phase for the third round on the web, and evocate when I get back down, so that i’m full mana for phase 2. Fire mages should remember to refresh dots before jumping down for smouldering devastation, and get as many combustions off as possible. For phase 2, you have pushback from the pulsing AOE to deal with, which gets rather annoying. If you have to evocate, wait until after a pulse, and put up mage ward and mana shield. Be ready to pull out all the stops for phase 2, the increasing damage is brutal on your healers. If you’re specced for incanter’s absorption, it’s a definite boon in this fight, there is a lot of damage to absorb, and your healers will thank you. Frost and fire mages may want to swap to mage armor for the end of the fight to help with a bit of damage mitigation as raid damage starts to build up.

Now for a look at the loot. Again, Beth’tilac drops a few nice pieces for mages:

·         Funeral Pyre: Caster DPS staff with a red socket (10 intellect bonus, put a +40 intellect gem in here), crit and mastery. This is excellent for arcane mages, fire will want to reforge the mastery to haste or hit, frost can keep it as is.

·         Robes of Smouldering Devastation: Caster DPS chest with a red and a blue socket (20 intellect socket bonus, you will want a +40 intellect gem and a purple gem of choice in here), haste and mastery. An arcane mage will want to take off the haste for crit or hit, while a fire will take off the mastery for crit, and frost will want to take one of the two off for crit if below the 33% soft cap. This slot will eventually be replaced by your tier chest. Since the non-tier leggings don’t drop till Alysrazor, and the non-tier hands are off Ragnaros (or the crafted option, but those are monstrously expensive and in very short supply) you will probably want to take this, and nab your tier chest after your tier legs, so you get the most use out of this.

That’s it for Beth’tilac, if I’ve missed anything drop a comment and I’ll be sure to add it in. Good luck, this boss will really put you to the test.

OT: The state of the valour system

Hello and welcome back. Today we’re going a bit off topic, and discussing the valour system. Yay... valour points. Hopefully, I’ll be able to keep this one fairly relevant, but there is a chance I’ll break into a nerdrage ramble type jiggery, in which case you have been warned, go QQ on the forums or something else productive. Hehe. I’ll be moving back to magery later in the week with either Baleroc or Ryolith, I haven’t decided yet, but stay tuned for that. Right, onto the meat of the post we go.

EDIT: This one really turned into a text wall, sorry about that :P

The valour system as we know it was effectively born in WotLK. That’s already not a great start, because, let’s face it, Wrath’s track record isn’t great (apart from Ulduar, that was awesome, but even there it had its problems). So, the basic premise is fairly sound. It allows a way to get your character ready for raids, and it means that new players or alts levelling up halfway through an expansion don’t face an absolutely massive gear jump into raids. So far so good. You run your daily heroic, you get a few badges to help towards getting your character raiding. At the same time, running the five-mans will help teach you some of the basics of the mechanics of raiding, and if you’re an alt, then you help teach the newer players what to do. The community gets better as a whole, you ewnd the day slightly closer to raiding, and maybe you meet some new people to run content with. Sounds good right? Hmmm, see the problem we get is with Blizzard’s implementation. What happened as Wrath drew on is that instead of helping people get into raids and learn tactics, it did... well, almost exactly the opposite. The daily heroic turned into an AOE zergfest that you basically could snooze through, and the quicker you went, and the more tactics you ignored, the better you were at the game. CC became a sort of lost voodoo art: ‘What the hell is CC? Wait, you mean I can turn that mob into a sheep, and then it won’t attack me? Why the hell would I want to do that, then I can’t kill it!’ (Conversation I had at the start of cata with a so called ‘wrath baby’ tank. We wiped shortly afterwards, which resulted in him dropping group. Ahhh those were the days, sitting back and laughing as the whole community readjusted their heroic difficulty expectations).

The other effect was probably an even bigger backfire. The gearscore culture that erupted due to the ewase of availability of gear was truly horrifying. Unless you were in full tier gear, people wouldn’t even consider letting you into that tier’s raid. I mean come on! You can’t get in here unless you have the rewards from completing it. That makes an absolute ton of sense, right? No? Oh, guess we messed up somewhere then, back to the drawing board. Hmmm. So the two primary aims of the system ended up backfiring, and that isn’t great, is it. The other unpardonable crime it caused was the death of multitier raids. Now, as a player joining at the end of BC, I can’t really speak from personal experience, but I have friends and acquaintances who can, and while this system had it’s own flaws, there was one really strong feature to it: you weren’t stuck in the same content week after week after month after month. I was one of those players who really lamented the loss of Ulduar for, wait for it, ToC. I mean, come on, months of those same five bosses in that crappy little room with useless captain fordring repeatedly telling me ‘what a waste’ it was. Gods almighty, I wanted to strangle something. I would have given anything to have a decent reason to go back to Ulduar, but with BETTER gear available from the five man BOSSES, let alone the badges, there was really no point, except for achievement runs. Part of this overlaps with the gear spiral that Wrath had, where you had the horrifying prospect of the 25 man gear being better than the 10 man, the 10man Hc gear better than the 25 man, the 25 Hc gear better than the 10man Hc, and the next tier’s 5 mans being better than the previous tier’s 25 man hc gear. *shudder*.

Now, obviously, blizzard has learnt some lessons from wrath. Let’s have a look back to the start of cata. Heroics were hard, and gave blues. Rejoice! Rejoice, our salvation had come at last! It took them all of a week to start nerfing things. Oh well, it was fun while it lasted. So, you had 1250 points of valour to get each week, 490 of which could come from 5mans, running one a day for 70 points. This was excellent, and to make it even better, you could only get 3 of your 5 tier pieces. Fantastic. If you wanted to cap, you had to raid. This was a good thing. To make it even better, the tier of raiding was HARD. Perhaps even a little too hard, but that’s down to personal preference. I was happy with the difficulty level myself, but looking around, I think in retrospect, that it may have been a LITTLE overtuned. Not all that much though. Anyway. Looking back, it was a fairly average tier, and it’s a little worn because we had it for so long. But that’s all in the past. Now, so far, im at least fairly happy with what the situation is. Fairly, but I’ll discuss that later.

Now, Blizzard starts making mistakes. Raid content is too hard, we hear the forums cry. People are not progressing fast enough through the content. Oh god, panic. First off they delay Firelands. Bad. Now they offend the hardcore raiders who are progressing at pace through the content. Next, they launch patch 4.1 as a filler patch. Throw out some content. Now, as a basic plan, this is good, but the way they executed it is still irritating me today. They put in a new tier of 5mans, ZA and ZG. These drop epic 353 gear, to help you get into the T11 raids. This in itself is not particularly a problem; a bit of extra gear will help breath life into stagnated progression. What I wish they hadn’t done though, was make it epic quality. Or, at least, make all of it epic quality. Most of all, it REALLY screwed with the enchanting mats market, on my server maelstroms are down at 70g ish most days, while Heavenlies are mostly north of 120g. It really screwed with the market. Perhaps, they should have made just the end boss gear, so the stuff of jindo and the other guy (I forget his name), even make it a slightly higher Ilevel, as an extra incentive to finish the dungeon. Oh well. But the real problem is that these reward 140 valour points. BAD BAD BAD mistake. Immediately, this was justified, the dungeons were hard, and pugs were mostly failing. But now, a few months in, the content is just another chore, and it effectively restricts you to only 2 different dungeons to get your mandatory valour points for the week. Good god. ZG isn’t so bad, with a decent group, because there is barely any trash, and you can brun through the stuff pretty quick (my record kill for zalzar is 36 seconds, at 33k dps I was the lowest in the group for that fight), but ZA drains my will to live, I probably quit about half of the groups I join for that one.

Finally Firelands drops, and then comes the biggest affront of the lot. The valour cap is lowered to 980 (meaning you can now cap out on zandalaries alone), but at 70 valour per boss for 7 bosses, you can now only gain 490 of your weekly 980 valour from raiding. A daily dungeon from the previous tier awards twice as much as a raid boss from the current tier. Absurd. Ridiculous. This, for me was the final straw. I was so outraged, I even took to the cesspit of humanity that they call the battle.net forums (usually I avoid these like the plague, unless I want to read a nerdrage or two for my own amusement). Luckily, this was fairly quickly hotfixed, but you still can’t cap out without running all 8 bosses on this tier (if you include occu’thar) on 10 man, although a full clear on 25 man will net you what you need. We are now a few weeks into Firelands, and again the grumblings about the monotony of the zandalari dungeons begins.  So Blizzard puts back a little bit of valour on the T11 bosses. And with this horrible, perverted system, this change actually makes sense. Good god, it actually made sense, that’s the scary thing. Regardless, this change was a huge quality of life increase for me. These days, we’re 4 bosses into Firelands, working on the fifth, so that’s 480 valour straight out of the box. I then clear 10/12 – 12/12 on the previous tier each week, depending on how I do, at 35 valour per boss, and throw in occu’thar most weeks, meaning that I actually only have to run one or two troll dungeons, which is totally manageable, and means that they now no longer make me quite as sick to the core as they did a few weeks ago. Good stuff. Since I’m working on my last piece of valour tier anyway, it won’t be long before I’m done with them all together. Good news. So that’s my piece of advice for the week, pug these raids, Really. They are entirely doable since the nerf, even with a slightly dodgy group (I always make a point of taking along an inexperienced player or two whenever I lead a PUG of these myself, I still remember the horror of trying to get into raiding myself, it’s really rough without an achievement, and there are a lot of good players out there who are simply locked out by the ‘you need an achi to raid, you need to raid to get an achi’ cycle). They will make the troll dungeons manageable, and it’s a great platform to try out spec changes, rotations, new items of gear, and generally hone your awareness’s for raiding. Plus, you can fill in that last spot of tier 11 if you still don’t have it, to preserve that 2 piece for a little longer. Good stuff. Anyway, onto the commentary.

The system has evolved a lot from where it was in wrath, and for the better. But, in my ‘casual raider’ opinion, there are a few changes that still need to be made.

1.       Move the tier chest piece onto a token that drops from the first boss in each raid tier. Perhaps even multiple bosses. It would be an extra incentive to start to get people sticking their nose in there, trying out the waters, and you would still be getting your two pieces bonus off valour. Personally, I find the wait between getting your first 3 pieces of tier and your last two a bit too long; adding this stepping stone would serve multiple causes.

2.       Aside from tier, make the gear from this vendor of the Ilevel of the stepping stone tier, so for Firelands 365, for T11 353. Perhaps have a system similar to the crystallized firestone off the heroic bosses to upgrade it to 378/359 respectively. I am of the personal opinion that raid level gear should be kept for the raiders, the people who need it. I understand that people want their purples even if they can’t raid because of time/skill constraints, and that it’s hard to get into raids without good gear, but you don’t need 378 level gear to start raiding Firelands, its tuned for people in 359’s, and if you need that extra boost to get going, 365 level gear should be enough. I am a strong believer in the risk: reward ratio being kept as integral to gaming, and allowing you to build half a set of raid gear by running 5-mans from the tier below doesn’t really cut it for me in that respect.

3.       Reset the troll heroics to give only 70 valour per run, and add them back in with the other 8 starter heroics. This would allow people to run 10 different heroics as opposed to 2, reduce burnout, and get rid of the ridiculous imbalance between valour from raids and dungeons compared to difficulty. Yes, you would be capped at 490 from dungeons per week, but that is how it should be. Valour capping should be a perk reserved for raiders, and really, you ought to be getting at least the 120 valour from occu’thar each week on top of that proposed 490. They can even slightly buff the valour to say 90 per run, as long as capping valour is a perk reserved for raiders.

If you guys have any further suggestions on this, and how the system could be changed, or even if you disagree with me (go ahead, I love a good argument) drop a comment, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Monday, 22 August 2011

A tale of 3 specs

Come, gather around my friends, and let me regale you with a tale. Once there was a spec, named frost. Ah, I hear you say, frost, well, that’s the mages PVP spec, and it has been since the days of Molten Core. Ah, you poor souls, how sad. Poor frost, he was always bullied by the other raiding specs, and when he went into arenas, everyone complained that he was OP, and that he should be nerfed. And nerfed he was, and buffed, and nerfed, and buffed. Frost mage dps is like the tide, it climbs up the meter, reaches the top, and falls back down. We can blame this on the fact that Blizzard remains resolute in its opinion that spells should work the same in PVE and PVP, to avoid confusing the poor little newbs. An admirable aim, of course, but it is getting to be impractical. As the games evolves, and balance between classes and specs becomes ever more finely controlled, it is a concept that is beginning to hold back design. But we are not here today to criticise Blizzard. No no, I have a slightly bigger target in mind.

 I am here today to ask a question or two. Hands up if you raid frost. Ah, now hands down if that raiding spec is only used on the odd fight where you have to control or kite adds (Nefarian 10man anyone?). Ok, now the few of you who still have hands up, how many of you are in the top 100 or so mages in the world? Top 1000? Oh, well, that’s no-one then. So how do we know that frost mage raid DPS is so crappy? Oh well, I hear you say, we go to world of logs, or state of DPS, and a pretty graph tells us that frost mages are crappy, and arcane mages are awesome! Hmmm, see, this is where the problems begin, because if no-one raids in frost spec at the top end, except for perhaps in a fight where they are on add control, we don’t actually have any data about frost mage raid boss dps... Ooops. Hmmm, now, let’s have a quick peek at our talent trees. Some of you may be aware that there is a talent in the first tier of the frost tree called Shatter. Now, what this talent does is it multiplies our critical strike against frozen targets by 3. So, what happens, do you think, if our critical strike chance is over 33.3%? Well, that means that frostfire bolt ALWAYS crits when you have FoF up. And if you’re specced into Ignite in the fire tree, since it’s a fire spell, that means that frostfire bolt is guaranteed another 40% damage increase from ignite, because it always crits. So that means that frostfire bolt with fingers of frost will always do 280% damage! That’s a lot of damage for one spell. And our tier 12 4 set doubles the proc chance of brain freeze. Hmmmm, that’s a LOT of 280% frostfire bolts my friends, and since they are on fingers of frost, they also benefit from our mastery bonus... many damages methinks. So, let’s take a mosey over to the simulators.

 Taking Rawr straight out of the box, simple stand and shoot fight, I set a basic template character, raid buffed. Reforging crit to the cap, and then haste, hit capped, and full 378 gear (full T12 set) we get 25.6K dps. That’s positively respectable. Now we change to fire spec. With the same set of gear, we plummet to only 23.2K dps. That’s right, my dears, frost is actually ahead of fire by a fairly significant margin (just under 10%). Finally we swap over to arcane, reforging for hit cap, then mastery, then crit, for the same set of gear and fight conditions. This done, we get 26.9K dps, a difference to arcane of only 5%. Shock, Horror, Apocalypse. That, my friends, is negligible. NEGLIGIBLE. I would even be willing to put forward, that on a movement or AOE fight, you would want to pick frost over arcane. Good god, I actually just said that. Keep in mind that this was done with a full tier set bonus, which we all know is appalling for arcane, but actually seems to be godlike for frost. So yeah. Go set a frost spec, and try it out on a dummy, my results may not match up to your own skill or gear situation, and the benefits drop off significantly as you get further from the 33.3% soft crit cap. Scary thought. Just to recap then, Arcane is sitting at 27K, frost at 25.6K, and fire at 23.2K in full tier 12. This is probably down to the relative strengths of the tier 12 bonus for frost and arcane. And keep in mind that this is based on a fight with no movement, and single target dps, and there aren’t many of those fights in this tier (Baleroc springs to mind, especially if you aren’t soaking a shard, I’ve hit some scary numbers there). Feel free to comment, particularly if you run some of your own experiments, I’d love to garner more information on this topic, and will sure be doing my own further tests over the next few weeks, I’ll get back to you on that.

Tommorow, I'll be going off topic a bit, and having a chat about the Valour/Justice System. Stay tuned :)

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Firelands Update: Shannox

Hello again. Today I’m going to start the first of several posts, detailing the various bosses in Firelands, and particularly, how to approach them from a mage’s standpoint. To start with, I’m dealing with Shannox. My groups had this guy on farm for a couple of weeks now, and so far I've found it to be an incredibly fun fight. This guy calls himself the ‘ultimate hunter’, but seeing as mages are better than hunters, that shouldn’t be a problem. I usually play arcane for this fight; although with 3 targets fire might not be amiss here if you can multi-dot, however with the dogs constantly running around, there won’t be many chances to spread them around through impact. Without further ado, let’s get straight into the tactics of the fight. If you’re already familiar, feel free to skip to the next section.

This is likely to be the first boss you tackle going into Firelands. Unusually, he doesn’t spawn immediately; instead, you first have to kill a crap-ton of trash. Once he spawns, he will begin to patrol in a circle around the road leading through the raid.

There are 3 mobs to deal with in this encounter: Shannox, Rageface, and Riplimb. Riplimb and Shannox both have an aggro table, and will have to be tanked (but cannot be taunted), whereas Rageface runs around randomly targeting players. Shannox has several abilities:

·         Immolation Trap: Metal circle with a flame in it. It will appear, and then become armed after two seconds. Don’t stand in it, it hurts. If you can drag Rageface over them, do, but not at risk of getting hit yourself. Riplimb should be kept away from them

·         Crystal Prison Trap: Metal circle with a purple crystal in it. It will appear, and then become armed after two seconds. These should DEFINATELY not be stood in. If you do, you will become encased in a block, which stops line of sight, and has to be DPS’d down by the raid.

·         Hurl Spear: Shannox throws his spear; big red circle appears on the ground. Don’t stand in the circle (that probably goes without saying). The spear will land there, and blow up the circle, and kill you, which is bad. A spiral line of fire will spread out from the location. Stand between the lines, and you won’t get hurt when they explode shortly afterward.

·         Magma Rupture: Shannox rams his spear into the ground at his feet instead of throwing it once Riplimb is dead. Same as before with the line of fire, but also applies a stacking de-buff increasing fire damage taken by 40%. This constitutes the soft enrage of the fight.

·         Riplimb and Shannox apply a stacking bleed de-buff to the tanks, Shannox with his spear, and Riplimb with his attacks.

·         Rageface casts Face Rage on a random target, and tries to chew their face off. This is broken when you hit him for 30/45k (10/25 man), but he has an additional 50% chance to get critted while casting this, so this shouldn’t be a problem.

·         When a dog dies, Shannox gains a 30% enrage, when Shannox drops below 30% health, any remaining dogs massively enrage, and will wipe the raid fairly shortly afterwards.

The tactic is fairly simple. There are several variations, but the one we used is as follows: Burn down Rageface, Nuke Shannox to 35% health, burn down Riplimb, then kill Shannox. When Shannox hurls his spear, the Riplimb tank traps him, allowing time for the bleed to drop off on both tanks. Time Warp is used after both dogs have died.

For a mage, the fight is fairly simple. Pick a spot between where Riplimb is being tanked, and where Shannox is being tanked. Stand there, and nuke your dps target. Move out of the various types of poop. This is easier if you have your camera fairly close in, and even tipped slightly towards the floor. There isn’t a huge amount of significant movement in this fight, only slight sidesteps off traps and away from the lines of fire on the floor. If you are the current target of Riplimb, pop Frost Armour for the 15% damage reduction (very nice, your healers will hug you). It might even be worth glyphing for the mana regen on frost armour for this fight, if you can afford that (and remember to reset your normal glyphs afterwards) for those periods when you are being attacked.  The BurningSoul talent is a huge boon here. Depending on how your raids DPS is, you will have time for several burn phases, but it is important that you have all your cooldowns ready for when the last dog drops. I normally also drop a burn phase at the start, when we nuke down Riplimb, however if your raid uses different DPS orders, you might want to save it for some other point. Blink is very useful for getting away from traps, but take care you don’t end up blinking out of one trap and into another. Since traps spawn on players, it is a good idea to keep a bit of distance from anyone nearby, to avoid getting too many traps near you. If called upon, you might be required to slow riplimb when re runs back to Shannox, to help out the tanks. This will always be after Shannox hurls his spear. If you're arcane, this is a walk in the park, especially if you have slow talented to be applied by arcane blast. If not, cast it manually, and remember to offer this service if your raid leader overlooks it. That’s basically it from a mage’s point of view; most of the complexity in this fight is for the tank on Riplimb, who is responsible for dragging the dog through traps. Don’t stand in fire (or traps), DPS the right target, take care with aggro (if you’re starting on Riplimb, it’s usually worth it to pop Mirror image at the start, to make sure you don’t overaggro the tank, and if you see yourself creeping up the threat table don’t hesitate to pop invisibility, because they are all immune to taunts (if you draw aggro you are knee deep in s***).

A quick look at loot before we go (because we all love loot, it’s what helps us to be not-a-splat-on-the-floor, and do more of that sweet sweet damage. For a mage, Shannox drops several sexy pieces:

·         Crystal Prison Band: DPS ring with crit and mastery. Very nice for an arcane mage, you can reforge off a bit of crit to hit if need be, or leave it as is. For a fire mage, the mastery will have to come off, for haste or hit, and if you’re raiding frost (good on you), same as for arcane, the crit can be taken off for hit, or haste if you’re above the 33.3% soft crit cap.

·         Coalwalker Sandals: DPS feet with a yellow socket (+ 10 crit bonus, you probably just want to pass that up for a 40 intellect gem) crit and haste. Excellent for fire mages and frost mages, for arcane you’re going to want to get that haste off for mastery. Since they are BOE, you will probably be required to equip them immediately.

·         Goblet of Anger: This is the spirit off hand, unless you’re upgrading from a 346 piece you probably shouldn’t be taking this. Anyway, there’s a much better 356 drop from the Firelands dailies if you’re that desperate. Only nab it if you’re the only one who could possibly want it, and take the spirit off for mastery (arcane) or crit (fire and frost if below the 33% soft cap), or hit if below the 17% cap. This is a truly terrible item for arcane by the way (haste and spirit, our two most useless stats).
Thats all for today folks, don't stand in poop, and remember: dead mages do crap DPS.

Introductions, and other assorted mandatory niceties

Welcome mages, fellow WoW players, and the odd lost warlock (it’s OK; most of your class aren’t clever enough to operate the internet, so you’re ahead of the pack). My name is Phish, and today I begin the task of trying to impart a little knowledge (some of it may be useful, if you’re lucky), a little humour, and a little experience to this great community which has given me so much joy. I am what you might call a nerd. I avoid direct sunlight, enjoy maths, spend much of my free time gaming, and a fair bit more of it roaming the internet. It was on one of these rangings that I decided to search for a blog about magery. Being a good mage, I like to read on such topics, in order to hone my skill, and pass the time. To my shock, horror and disappointment, I discovered nothing (being of course, a devout reader of Arcane Brilliance already). After many weeks musing this conundrum, I resolved to fill this grievous oversight, and here I am, ready to regale with tales of raiding, discovery, and of course to remind us all, that we are the best class in WoW (come on, we shoot fire, conjure cake, and rip the fabric of reality to transport ourselves from one end of the world to the other). I intend to post at least once a week, possibly more, on subjects ranging from gearing, to raid tactics, to talents, to simply 2000 word rambles about how we should do twice as much damage ass all the other DPS classes because we have to go into battle in a dress (I mean, come on, priests can at least heal themselves, and warlocks don’t deserve extra DPS, because they should be playing mages anyway). Commentary and questions (productive or otherwise) are encouraged, and feel free to drop me an e-mail with any questions you may have, I’ll be happy to provide advice, or direct you to an appropriate source of information. Stay tuned, reroll a mage, and remember, dead mages do crap DPS.