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Malon’s MOP Mage Tips 5.2

Today’s guest post is by Malon of <Nightshift> on Wildhammer-EU. He has been a raiding Mage since WoW’s European launch.

Hi Everyone,

I’ve had some requests on Twitter (where I post as @ArcaneTactics) to collate my #MageTips series into a single document. These are various helpful hints and tricks for PvE Mages; things that will help eke out a bit more damage, utility or survivability on the various encounters WoW has to throw at its most squishy class.

Some of these tips – especially the 5.0 ones – may now be out of date, but (flagrant self-promotion) I post new ones every week. If anyone has any questions or comments, I’d welcome them. Thanks again to Liss for hosting this post – and for recently combining Restokin’s Druid news with useful Mage advice. If you have more Mage Tips, feel free to post them as comments in this thread, or tweet them to @arcanetactics!

Stay frosty (or otherwise…),

Malon.

Mogu’shan Vaults

  • Blazing Speed is a good way to quickly paint a lot of tiles in the heroic Stone Guard encounter
  • Using RoP+glyphed Evocation in Gara’jal’s spirit realm will constantly renew the Spiritual Innervation buff.
  • Nether Tempest is the most efficient way to kill Gara’jal’s adds. Apply it to each one; it’s faster than directly damaging them.
  • You can Blink out of Subetai the Swift’s Pinning Arrow on the Spirit Kings encounter.
  • Ticks/explosions from NT and LB DO NOT proc the negative effects of the shields on Heroic Spirit Kings.
  • Spamming Scorch during phase 2 Elegon, increases your chances of a HU proc. Pyro! is absolutely necessary to down the Energy Charges.
  • Place Rune of Power nine-tenths inside Elegon’s ring; you’ll benefit from it while standing on the edge & jumping to clear stacks.
  • The Glyph of Blink causes the spell to bug out on Elegon’s platform; remove it for that fight.
  • Touch a Spark and quickly Blink to avoid damage on H Will of the Emperor.

Heart of Fear

  • A FAST Blink will sometimes let you avoid the damage from Tay’ak’s Unseen Strike (there is a short stun before the damage).
  • It’s possible to spread CB from Garalon’s body to his up to 2 legs, but only from a leg to his body – never another leg.
  • Glyphed Ice Lance will cleave from Garalon’s body to his legs, but not vice versa.
  • You can Blink out of Amber Prisons in the Wind Lord Mel’jarak encounter.
  • Mel’jarak’s Blademasters will put a debuff on players before charging them; this can be Ice Blocked off, cancelling the charge.
  • Ice Block will remove Amber-Shaper Un’sok’s Parasitic Growth ability – a great help in Phase 3.

Terrace of Endless Spring

  • Alter Time will reset your Dread Shadows stacks on Tsulong to 1, no matter how many you had when you cast it.
  • ArcEx can be used to keep Arcane Charge stacks during Lei Shi’s Get Away! ability.
  • Greater Invis and Alter Time appear (unconfirmed) to remove stacks of Scary Fog on H.Lei Shi. Try not to be assigned to this role.
  • Ice Block can be used to negate Breath of Fear, giving more uptime on the Sha of Fear’s adds. Double the fun with Cold Snap!
  • Greater Invisibility is a viable alternative on Sha of Fear; it will be up for every Death Blossom, allowing you more DPS time.
  • The Sha of Fear is big enough that AEx will refresh your AC stack from a fair distance. Use it before Cackle to retain your stack!

Throne of Thunder

  • Blazing Speed is my Recommended Talent for Jin’Rokh the Breaker; combine with Blink for speedy recovery from orb kiting.
  •  Build a big Combustion on Tortos; it can be spread to mini turtles as they spawn.
  •  Useful! #MageTips RT @jnsplace Use Ice Floes on Tortos during turtle or rock dodging phases.
  •  Slightly less useful. #MageTips RT @IRONF0RGED Don’t die.
  •  Blazing Speed + Cinder on Megaera = super-fast Icy Ground melting.

General

  •  RoF is great to temporarily halt (then gather for AE) one stream of Ancestors during An Urgent Plea
  •  Haste increases ALL your regen, not just passive; It affects mana gained from Evocation and Gems, too.
  •  Temporal Shield with Cauterise is an amazingly sexy combination with massive self-healing potential.
  •  Make a macro for /cast Mage Bomb. It will change depending on the Bomb you pick.
  •  Damage from Blizzard and Flamestrike do not break Frost Nova.
  •  With reasonable latency and glyphed DF, you can get an IL+DF combo off with just one FoF charge. Lance MUST come first!
  •  A macro combining Temporal Shield (off the GCD) and Incanter’s Ward is very useful!
  •  The first ‘tick’ of Frozen Orb will always grant a FoF charge.
  •  Alter Time will only interrupt spell casting if you’ve moved since casting it. If you stand in the same place, it won’t.
  • This post on EJ is an excellent chart that tells you exactly when your next haste breakpoint is approaching.
  • The Glyph of Rapid Teleportation will also work on portals cast by other Mages and NPCs (like the one on Shan’ze Dao)
  • Glyph of Icy Veins contains a hidden +20% chance to proc Fingers of Frost, to make up for the reduced tick speed of Bomb spells.
  • ‘Fight fire with fire’ does not apply to A’lar.
  • Use “/cast [@target] Frostbolt” to stop yourself auto-casting at your pet.
  • Your Bomb spells will explode when your target dies, not just when they expire.
  • Arcane Explosion makes the Pest Problems daily, for the Tillers, ridiculously fast (5.2 update: also applies to The Creeping Carpet of Ihgaluk).
  • Contrary to opinion, Arcane AoE IS viable (on high-health targets). Bomb, Flamestrike and clear stacks with ABG, rather than keeping them.
  • Ancient Teleport: Dalaran (from Koegler’s shelves if Book Burner doesn’t hit books) is a great way to get to the Greench…or troll raid mates.
  • If you can hit something with it, Arcane Explosion is a useful way to keep AC stacks up while moving.
  • Frost is a good offspec for haste-stacking Arcane Mages, as they both benefit from the stat (unlike Fire or mastery-Arcane).
  • Generally, Frost’s AoE and burst makes it superior to other specs for Challenge Modes.
  • Glyph of Armours increases each armour’s defensive benefit by 10 percentage POINTS, not 10% of the original number.
  • Frost Bomb calculates its damage based on when it explodes, not when you cast it. Make sure your cooldowns are up.
  • NT and LB can be ‘clipped’ – refresh them just before they expire and you’ll still get the last tick/explosion.
Posted in Mage, Mists of Pandaria, Patch 5.0, patch 5.1, Voices From The Community

The 5.2 Mage PVE raiding survey

Now that 5.2 is here, there is a lot of angst and worry happening in the mage forum. For me to be able to go to the community managers with mage problems, I need data. I’ve done this type of thing before when I was raiding on a druid, but now that I’m raiding as a frost mage, I have a great deal invested in mages being viable now.

To be able to take data to the community managers & developers, I need actual World of Log data from your raids. So, I’m collecting log data and general feedback from the community. I think that collecting context for the logs is actually more important than just the log rankings alone. The original post is available on the US forums here. You can post responses directly on the forum posts or leave a comment on the blog (which is especially helpful for EU readers). There is also someone who cross-posted on the EU forums, so EU players can post there.

Specifically, it would be helpful if you filled out the answers to the following questions and posted it here:

Part 1: Show me the Mage numbers:
1) What is your current 5.2 specialization?
2) What type of content have you run in 5.2 (5-mans, solo, LFR, 10-normal, 25-normal, etc)?
3) Link(s) to 5.2 raid logs on your mage (even LFR logs are useful):
4) Did you change specializations for 5.2? If you changed specs for 5.2, what spec were you before?
5) Is your ilevel generally around the same range as your other raid members from the logs you posted? If not, are you over-geared or under-geared compared to the other members of your raid?

Part 2: How are you feeling about your mage?

6) What is your average ilevel?
7) What quality of life problems are you seeing with your current specialization?
8) If you changed specializations, why did you change?
9) Overall, how do you feel about your current spec’s movement damage?
10) Overall, how do you feel about your current spec’s stand-still damage?
11) Overall, how do you feel about your current spec’s utility in raids?
12) If you could change one thing to improve your current spec, what would it be?

Posted in 5.2, Mage, Mists of Pandaria, Written By Lissanna

The plight of a stationary spec in movement-heavy encounters

Today, I’m going to talk about some of my problems with frost mages in the 5.2 MOP patch.

With the Invocation talent change, my frost mage was still running OOM before the Invoker’s Energy buff faded, and so I was having to use evocation early (thus losing out on the benefit of the change they made to increase Invoker’s Energy buff duration).

Lets look at some of the changes:

“Water Elemental Freeze no longer does damage and only provides Fingers of Frost on a successful freeze.”

This means that water elemental’s freeze no longer generates Finger of Frost procs on PvE raid bosses. This results in a net loss of 4 to 8 Finger of Frost procs every 2 minutes (and a loss of 12 to 24 procs over a 6 minute fight). If you hit two targets, you got 2 procs, and 1 proc if you hit one target.

“Fingers of Frost now has a 15% (was 12%) chance to activate from Frostbolt, Frostfire Bolt and Frozen Orb, a 5% (was 4%) chance to activate from Blizzard, and a 10% (was 9%) chance to activate from Scorch.”

Since scorch was removed entirely from the frost spec, this actually causes a bigger problem – because we lose a second ability that generated FOF procs for frost mages (and importantly, we lost our only ability that really allowed us to generate potential FOF procs while moving). The 3% proc chance increase to our primary spells will likely still result in a DPS loss overall, since a 3% chance to proc on each of our spells isn’t comparable to a guaranteed 12 to 24 procs across a 6 minute fight plus the procs we potentially got from using scorch during periods of heavy movement in fights.

Thus, if scorch is going to be something frost doesn’t have access to, and our pet can’t give us on-demand FOF procs, then we need the FOF proc rate for our spells overall to be re-evaluated. Otherwise, frost mages really need to be given an alternative ability to generate FOF procs, especially one that could be used while moving. Alternatively, Fire Blast should take on that 10% proc rate that scorch previously had, since Fire Blast will be the on-demand instant that we may want to use while moving more often now, since the cooldown is short and most movement happens in small chunks (I have to move three or four times before Ice Floes comes back off coolodown. Given FOF procs are less frequent and less predictable, we’re less likely to be able to use ice lance as a movement DPS mechanic, since Ice lance hits like a wet noodle without FOF procs).  Adding fire blast back in as a viable part of the movement rotation will absolutely require it to generate FOF procs, and would help compensate for losing Freeze and scorch from frost mage’s PvE rotation. At this point, it looks like the frost mage rotation may actually be the absolute most frustrating rotation due to lack of anything we can do with all the heavy movement fights. Frost went from my most fun spec to the most frustrating spec just with the loss of scorch from my movement rotation. While I didn’t use scorch for every fight, there were plenty of fights where it felt like I at least had options of things I could cast if I wanted to. Having my frost pet do the bulk of my movement damage is too passive and doesn’t allow me to feel like I’m in control of the DPS I’m doing while moving. Even if scorch didn’t generate a high % of my total damage done in a fight, it still made me feel like I was in control of my own DPS.

“Frostbolt now deals 24% more damage, but the debuff no longer increases subsequent Frostbolt damage.”

This was a really nice quality of life change overall, so that our damage will overall increase on fights with frequent target switches. Still, however, frost as a raid spec in 5.1 has been under-performing in raids compared to all the other raid specs, based on logs coming from the raids right now. Given that the loss of scorch and freeze will potentially overall impact Frost PvE negatively, frost’s overall DPS needs to be evaluated and watched much more closely (not that anyone is bothering to even play it to test on the PTR due to under-performing in the first place). This is especially important given that frost now has no real movement DPS mechanic at all, and ALL fights require heavy amounts of unpredictable movement in normal or Hard Mode difficulty.

If fights required zero movement, frost PvE would be fine in 5.2. However, the encounter designers don’t give us the luxury of Patchwerk fights anymore (and haven’t since, well, Patchwerk). Overall, I feel as though frost mage design is being done without encounter mechanics taken into consideration, and that frost in particular is being punished with changes targeted at Fire and Arcane specs. The three times I used blink in Hard Mode encounters on Thursday night, I blinked into bad stuff and instantly died. Blink isn’t a movement DPS mechanic, and frost mages don’t have any on-demand movement spells that do any real damage (Ice lance unbuffed hits for 8,000 damage).

The loss of two abilities, which increased our movement damage potential, has the potential to really hurt Frost PvE in 5.2. Since the goal of any playstyle is to “always be casting”, the fact that encounter mechanics in 5.2 prevent frost mage PvE from being able to “always be casting” is problematic. There aren’t encounters that allow for a “move, stop, cast” playstyle outside of 5-mans and some LFR encounters. Raiders have really had two choices in PvE raiding since Cataclysm: either “Move while casting, stop while casting, cast while standing still for a few seconds, and then move while casting again a few seconds later,” or just don’t bother going to raids at all. Looking at mage representation in raids this expansion, it really looks like not going at all is turning into the more attractive solution to a lack of movement DPS. Designing classes for Vanilla raid mechanics in MOP does a disservice to the raiding community. Either frost needs to have significant buffs to our stand-still rotation, so that we can compensate for our lower DPS up-time compared to everyone else, or frost mages need a better option for movement fights. Having poor mobility DPS is very much like having your hands tied behind your back and trying to play by mashing your face on the keyboard – it can be potentially effective, but it sure as heck isn’t fun. Given that the movement DPS of arcane & fire are also under attack by Blizzard (while at the same time, they hand out new fun movement mechanics to most of the other ranged DPS), it doesn’t make being a mage at all very comforting right now.

Posted in 5.2, Mage, Written By Lissanna

Why I hate the level 90 Mage talents

I have been raiding on my mage for all of Mists of Pandaria thus far. I really enjoyed the mage class leveling up from 89 to 90. However, as succinctly discussed on a youtube video by MikePreachWoW, the level 90 mage talents are the exact opposite of fun. The level 90 talents are largely a management problem that reduces the fun of the mage class,  adds needless complexity, and goes against everything in the game’s encounter design. Lhivera’s Library has tried to fight against some of these types of critiques in posts, but this doesn’t change the fact that every raid day, I dread having to manage my mage’s level 90 talents when I’m learning new boss encounters.

Lets look at why all 3 of these talents (at least for PvE) work against me in raids and spoil my fun:

Invocation

This is currently the talent that I use in raids. The goal of this talent is to use Evocate (a 4 to 6 second channel). If you are able to successfully complete this Evocate channel, then you get a massive damage buff that is the difference between sucking and being the worst mage ever, or actually being competitive. Mages who are able to maintain maximum up-time (note, by this I don’t mean casting evocation before the buff ends, but in starting your evocation cast as soon as the buff drops since evocation doesn’t do damage) on this 25%  Invocation damage buff are able to be incredibly powerful. Here is why Invocation is the one thing I hate in raids but do anyway:

  • Invocation causes me to die more often than I otherwise would die in raids. It encourages risky behavior. If I have 2 seconds left in my invocation channel and I’m standing in something likely to kill me in the next 3 seconds, sometimes I will choose to not interrupt my evocation cast and hope for the best. On bosses when I know I will have a period of time when I can stand still, I can try to time my evocation – but this often means evocating early before the buff has fallen off and costs me DPS.
  • Forcing you to complete a long evocation cast works against encounter mechanics: When bosses have random spells that make you have to move randomly, then more often than not, you will get randomly selected to move half way through your evocation. Your choice then is to take a huge damage loss or potentially blow up your raid. Any mechanic that encourages you to “stand in bad” just to have equivalent DPS of other players is a crappy mechanic. Interrupting your evocate means you end up having more downtime when you are not doing any damage to the boss, and this can be problematic if you are in a burst phase or heroism was used and you are losing out on precious damage time.
  • Managing Invocation is a giant pain in the neck and works against encounter mechanics and causes needless stress. While Llhivera argues that we’re not balanced around having maximum up-time on things like invocation’s damage buff, the fact is that if the best performing mages in the world can have close to the maximum up-time on invocation’s damage buff, then the class has to be balanced around maximum up-time. As these buffs from our level 90 talents are multiplicative, they are going to be stronger and stronger and stronger as the expansion goes on. Llhivera argues that the level 90 talents are burst cooldowns, but they aren’t used as burst cooldowns – they are used as constantly maintained buffs where the goal of any reasonable person is to keep the buff up as much as possible, and it goes against human nature to do otherwise. When my buff falls off, I do everything in my power (including standing in bad stuff) to keep the buff up longer. Claiming not to balance this buff around maximum up-time is turning out to absolutely not be true, as seen by the fact that mages are actually pulling this off and causing the class to get massive damage nerfs every patch thus far this expansion. The up-time of a burst cooldown should be determined by having a cooldown on the burst (eg. icy veins) rather than having that burst come from overcoming mechanics that set you up to fail.
  • A passive damage buff is boring and was the type of talent they were trying to get rid of in Mists talent trees. A passive damage buff that is obnoxious to maintain is the opposite of fun. While arcane mages always used evocation in their rotations, it doesn’t work well in frost and fire rotations because they were never designed to take 5 second breaks when trying to ramp up all the different procs and such that fire/frost relies upon. The psychological effect of the talent is more problematic than the math theorycrafting side of the talent.

Rune of Power

Rune of power has similar problems to Invocation, only these problems are so much worse because this talent requires you to not ever move in raid boss encounters, which is an impossible task. Rune of power is actually my least favorite thing I’ve ever dealt with in the entire game.

  • Rune of power requires you to stand still for 35 seconds to fully benefit from this talent. There is not a single encounter in Mists of Pandaria raiding where using Rune of Power is a fun decision because every encounter is designed based on forcing the players to run around and move all the time. Being able to cast rune while moving is unhelpful because we’ll still have to move again in 10 seconds after we put down the rune. I had to abandon rune of power (a spell that does no damage when you cast it) when I was having to re-cast rune of power every 10 or 20 seconds because of constantly having to move in raid encounters.
  • Rune of power encourages you to stand in bad stuff and die.  First, Rune of power covers up bad things on the floor so you can’t see them, and you can’t see your rune of power when all the other spell effects in a 25-man raid are covering it. Since my other option is Invocation (another talent that requires me to stand still often during the fight), this is the option between death by a thousand needle pricks versus death by being stabbed with forks. There’s no fight where either Evocation or Rune of Power make sense to use – they don’t interact well with encounter mechanics. Instead, raid encounters require you to spend more time managing either rune of power or evocation than you spend on anything else you do in the encounters. Anything that a DPS class is casting and managing that would be a DPS loss if it wasn’t for the huge DPS buff attached to using the ability, is a huge annoying burden that every class has had issues with (eg. improved soulfire for warlocks, every time they try to put Faerie Fire in the moonkin DPS rotation).

Incanter’s Ward

Gives you a passive buff when you don’t cast anything (boring) and then if you cast Incanter’s Ward right before you are about to take a huge amount of damage, that damage can be absorbed to give you an even bigger damage buff. That damage buff is contingent on you taking damage, and if you screw up, you lose both the effect of the burst damage and the passive bonus for the entire 25 second cooldown.

  • While this talent has PvP uses, this turns out to be absolute crap in most raid encounters. The passive damage buff alone isn’t as strong as spending all your mental energy to maintain Invocation or Rune of Power. So, you end up being better off standing in bad stuff and relying on your healers to keep you alive while you DPS than taking the passive bonus from this. Even if you benefit regularly from the “use” effect, you still get better (and more reliable) DPS returns from Invocation, even if casting evocation regularly ends up being a giant burden, as well.
  • The DPS cooldown requires you to take damage and increases your number of PvE deaths. The cooldown effect requires needless management in PvE. The cooldown use effect requires you to be psychic about when you are going to take 24,727 damage in the next 8 seconds (the current size of my absorb bubble). The most reliable way to make sure I get my full 30% damage is to actually stand in bad stuff until the bubble is absorbed. This killed me often enough in PvE that I had to stop taking the talent.

Conclusions

So, of the 3 talents, I’m currently using Invocation all the time right now. Why? Well, I have some control over it and the two other talents caused me the most deaths in raids compared to invocation. I’m not going to propose fixes for these talents because I honestly don’t believe there are fixes. The point of these talents are to encourage you to play poorly by standing still too often or taking needless damage to increase your DPS - and it turns out that this actually hurts the ability for me to enjoy the mage class. If I was level 89, and didn’t have any of the level 90 talents, I would love playing the mage class far more than I do as being at level 90 and having to manage my needlessly overcomplicated level 90 talents. These talents are marketed as being “fun” and “optional choices,” they fail at being either. While they were marketed as being things that you should choose for encounter-specific things, none of them work with any of the encounters, so this ends up being a false choice and impossible to figure out – so most mages pick the one that provides the most damage most of the time and just stick with it across encounters.
EDIT: after I wrote my post, a new version of invocation showed up on the PTR patch notes. While I like the idea of the 5.2 invocation version a lot better (it’s a significant quality of life improvement if it reduces the amount of time you have to stand still), this doesn’t solve the problem of that I feel the whole talent tier is not living up to Blizzard’s overall design standards for talents.

Posted in Mage, Written By Lissanna

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