Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Death from the Skies

I've been trying to split my time between Tomakan and Nevelanthana, slipping in some face time on Q and other toons.  Tom, as another Paladin, is familiar ground, although the queues for DPS or healing are equally long enough right now that there's no real reason for me to keep healing with him for the time being.  The only way for me to get to an instant queue is to start tanking, and that's just not me.

Now Neve, she's been a refreshing change of pace.  What I discovered with Mages is that I really like being able to find a corner, just out of silence or knockdown range, and just go to town.  As I described it to someone the other day, "it's a lot of fun to be raining frozen death from the skies."  The upside is that you don't get impacted by debuffs that the melee DPS do, and you're able to use AOEs to maximum effect.  The downside is that you're the one that gets the aggro if a mob comes up from behind the group, or worse, if the tank gets incapacitated.

Yes, I know about watching threat.  Mixing it up as a Ret Spec Pally has taught me plenty about watching Ye Olde Threat Meter.  Repeat after me:  Omen is my friend.  In fact, I probably watch that as much as I watch Healbot when Tomakan is on Holy Spec.

There's one little thing about being a squishy Mage that's a bit disconcerting, and that's when you get aggro unexpectedly.

The scene:  Zul'Farak.

I'd had a really lousy work week, so I took a late lunch on Friday to get a run in on Neve.  I ported in to Z'F, noted that we had only ranged DPS for a change --two mages and a lock-- we started up the first passage.  This wasn't Neve's first run in Z'F, so I knew about zapping totems in between casting Blizzard.  The first few pulls were shaky, with the Warrior tank needing a few extra seconds to get a good lock on the mob, so I paced my casting to match him.  We made it through the first several mobs and two of the bosses --the zombie creator and the basilisk tender-- when things started to go bad.

The trash pull was pretty typical, and I was in the middle of casting Blizzard.  Threat was under control --somewhere in the low 40s-- when all of a sudden I noticed the mob running at me.

"What the--"

Just as the first blows landed, the threat skyrocketed and only then did WoW announce that I had aggro.

Bubbling and using Frost Nova to keep the mob in place for the tank, I was cursing up a blue streak.  "Are any of you also experiencing lag issues?" I asked.

"Nope."  "Not me."  "Our server was laggy an hour or two ago."

"I've got some," I replied.  "The threat meter didn't show anything until they'd already started hitting me."

"I'll make sure to keep you bubbled," the Priest said.

The next trash pull had the same result, and at least I got a good workout doing the "run to the tank, squishy mage!" routine.   

Okay, I thought, I'll just wait until about 10 seconds into the fight so that I'm certain the tank has a good lock on the threat.

I was standing in the back, the AOE highlighted on the ground and waiting to drop, when it happened for the third time.  Dammit, I didn't even DO anything!

This time, the tank had gotten Hexed.

Then the healer also became a cute little frog, hopping around the desert sand.

The other mage and the lock were more than happy to let me keep aggro as they both scattered, leaving me to bubble and then Ice Block for ten agonizing seconds.

Well, I thought, I survived that.  What's next?

As I've said before:  don't tempt the WoW gods. (You'd think I would have learned that by now.)

Once the tank reacquired threat, another trash mob came wandering into range and aggroed on the lock.  The tank tried to peel their threat away, but he was Hexed again.  This time, the blow was fatal.  We all had a good laugh about it on the run back, and I really really dialed it down for the rest of the run.  You've seen the Mage using Frostbolts + a wand in substantial portions of a 5-man?  That was me in Z'F that afternoon.

Moral of the story:

Squishy + Lots of AoE + Too much trash + Aggro (whether by hook or crook) = Baaad News

And that is something that the melee DPS Pally doesn't have to worry about.


  1. "You've seen the Mage using Frostbolts + a wand in substantial portions of a 5-man?"

    Yep, welcome to Vanilla. A typical pull consisted of all of the crowd control classes applying cc, followed by the warrior tank trying to pick up what ever was left. The group proceeded to single target kill every thing. There was no AOE... if you did AOE, you were dead, almost instantly. In fact, the only time I saw mages AOE was to finish off the last 5% of packs of skeletons in Stratholme - Even the it was a dead mage most of the time.

    Tank threat will be challenging to say the least in Cata...

    All you happy fun time kill kill kill gooooooooooo aoe ppl will be in for a rude awakening.

    I love it.

  2. I've kind of gotten used to playing catch up in 5-mans. Even though I'll stop casting early and time my running up to the (now dead) mob so that I can loot with the rest, I still will have to drink or cast Evocation to replenish mana. By the time I'm done, the group is already on the next mob and the tank has had time to get a good lock on aggro.

    Now that I think about it, even running as Ret Spec I'm usually the last one to engage the mobs; until you get Judgement of the Wise, you're constantly having mana issues.

  3. LOL

    I feel the same way on my mage. Sometimes it makes me feel like I am clueless... I mean I feel like that noob pulling aggro, lagging behind, and joining fights half way through (if I am looting).

    I just switched from Frost to Arcane when I hit 80, and that has actually been a struggle. I heard it was suppose to be an easy rotation, and put out great dps... but right now, I am missing frost. :(

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  5. @NaturalGamerGirl

    Arcane is tricky. You have to be sure to regularly use Presence of Mind (PoM) and Arcane Power (AP), and if you're spec'd for it Icy Veins (IV). I use a macro for IV and AP:

    #showtooltip Icy Veins
    /cast Icy Veins
    /cast Arcane Power

    I also use PoM (which makes your next Arcane Blast or Flamestrike instant-cast) for AoE and for the 4th Arcane Blast on a rotation if its available. IV can be used to cast Flamestrike for AoE, since it reduces cast time. Blizzard the rest of the time.

    Another thing, get your trinkets on a macro with your Arcane Blast, like this:

    #showtooltip Arcane Blast
    /use 13
    /use 14
    /cast Arcane Blast

    This removes the need to stop and "use" your trinkets.

    Use this strat and you'll see an increase in your DPS as I did.

    As far as the overall rotation, its pretty simple:

    Arcane Blast x4
    Arcane Missiles (regardless of whether you've got Missile Barrage procs or not).

    You can use Arcane Barrage and Fire Blast when you're on the move or for burst damage.

    It takes time, but you'll master it.