Friday, November 27, 2009

What Would You Think if I Sang Out of Tune?

Lately, I've fallen into the experience of leveling alts. I've been spending a lot of time not playing Luthvian. First, it was leveling up my death knight with my boyfriend's shaman. Then, to see what all the fuss was about, I leveled a druid, figuring that I'd play with it until I got bored. I figured it would last a week or so, then I'd go back to my mage. The problem (but is it one, really?) is that I never did get bored. As I was creating the druid, and complaining that I always abandoned my Night Elf characters when I got sick of their starting zone (too much distance to cover), someone made the radical suggestion that I shuck the NE zone and head straight to one I did like. So, Siuan the Night Elf Druid headed to Azuremyst Isle, and thus overcame the first hurdle in her leveling.

From the beginning, this was a different experience. I started Luthvian because my then-roommates played Alliance on Stormreaver, and one of them played a mage and it looked like he had fun. I got power leveled through lowbie instances, run through quests. I don't remember much of my leveling experience with Luth - it just never seemed important at the time. I don't remember what strategy I used for talenting - I just remember that it wasn't very well-thought out.

On my druid, I actually researched talent trees and gear upgrades and whatnot. I leveled as Feral, which is a completely different playstyle than anything I'd done before. There was so much new and interesting with my druid, it became my new favourite character to play. I was logging on to Luthvian only for raids, maybe for some dailies. The leveling process on my druid didn't feel like a long grind to 80. I had fun working for the little things. I was so excited when I finally got Kitteh form that I pranced around and danced all over town when I first got it. I did the actual quest to get swim form (I didn't even train it beforehand), and at level 70 I did the whole quest chain for Swift Flight Form, even though waiting to finish it stalled my leveling for a few weeks.

Now, I'm leveling a priest. She's a Troll. Once the faction restrictions on PVP servers were lifted, my guild formed a Horde counterpart, Descended. I figured I'd make a character, maybe a class I'd never really played much, and let her sit a while. I named her Lewthveean, because I thought it was funny.

I've attempted priests before. I think I've started... 4? maybe 5 priests. None have gone beyond level 25, and most never made it to level 10. It was never something that really held my interest. There was a lot of dying, a lot of running on no mana. I just figured it was too much work. This one got to level 5 on the first day, then sat in Sen'Jin Village for a while.

Xelaeno was a guildie in my first guild back on Stormreaver. She writes the blog Holy Fire Spec, and two weeks ago she posted a level 1-80 leveling guide - as smite. I never liked the Shadow playstyle - sure, shadowform sounds fun, but you have to wait until level 40, and Shadow sucks before then. So I decided to give her guide a test run.

All of a sudden, leveling was fun again. Sure, the mana issues were still there, but thanks to a gold-related deal with a friend
(and a pair of lucrative gathering professions) I could afford to buy a good wand off the AH. I carried two full stacks of water with me, and went to town.

I haven't logged on to Luthvian for anything more than checking the mail since the day I went smite on this priest. My priest is level 30 and still climbing. Since I'm having too much fun to leave her parked in Inns for any period of time, she rarely has rested experience. As such, I have a lot longer to enjoy the scenery:

Yes, her raptor matches her hair.

I'm also becoming addicted to healing instances. Last night, I found myself in a group of players that vastly out-leveled me (I was 28, they were 35, 36, and 40) who needed a healer for Scarlet Monastery. We plowed through Library, Armory and Cath (where I learned that the mobs are all ?? skulls and I have a huge aggro radius) with not a single wipe. Not one. When we finished, I was so proud of how well I had healed.

That feeling, of being proud of an instance run, I never had that on Luthvian. She never prevented wipes by getting a critical bubble off just in time, or saving the warlock when he pulled aggro (I know, I know, un-Mage-ly of me). She never got sought out to join instance runs (I know that's just because I'm a healer, but still). I feel important, I feel wanted and appreciated. It's different playing a vital role in a group. I like that feeling, and I wish I could have had it while I was leveling my mage.

I think this is the root cause of my sporadic posting lately. I'm burned out on my mage, and I'm burned out on the current tier of raiding. I've been reluctant to post about anything else because this is, by design and name, a mage blog. So what do I do, now that my mage is no longer my focus?

We'll see.

Friday, November 20, 2009

We totally kick ass!

After 5+ weeks of learning the fight and practicing it and cursing it...

Ascended, I love you.


x3! Additional grats to Pallymar (Overhealer Extraordinaire) and Aeman (our Fearless Leader), who also triggered the end of the world.

All that's left (well, for most of the raid) is Yoggy +1, so hopefully soon I'll be able to post a screenshot of us all proud of our drakes. And then, maybe, Algalon will die. Maybe.

And also, hopefully soon, I can come up with a post of substance.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Call of the- oh, wait, wrong patch

So, looks like patch 3.2.2 is dropping on the live servers today. Seemed like an appropriate time to reemerge on this blog and discuss some mage-y things.

Due to my computer SUCKING COMPLETE ASS, I haven't been able to get on the PTR. Ever. It just won't load the installation application, and it just doesn't work. So, take all of this with a grain of salt. I'll run some testing later tonight, or tomorrow when everything is live and stable.

Full patch notes can be found at MMO Champion. It's been updated a few times already today, and I'd expect to see more updates once the servers come back up. Here's the pertinent magely info from the patch notes:

  • Arcane Blast: The buff from using this ability now stacks up to 4 times instead of 3, and each application increases mana cost by 175% instead of 200%. In addition, the duration of the buff has been reduced to 6 seconds.
  • Arcane Missiles: Casting this spell while both Missile Barrage and Clearcasting are active will cause only Missile Barrage to be consumed.
  • Missile Barrage: The effect from triggering this talent now removes the mana cost of Arcane Missiles. In addition, the chance for Arcane Blast to trigger this talent is now 8/16/24/32/40%. All other listed spells continue to have a 4/8/12/16/20% chance to trigger it. This talent no longer has a chance to be triggered when spells miss.

Combustion: This talent now also increases the critical strike damage bonus of Fire spells by 50% while it is active. In addition, Living Bomb periodic ticks will no longer interact with the count or the charges on the talent.

First, let's discuss the fire changes, since that's easier. Summary: ABOUT FREAKING TIME! Combustion was a talent that I specced into from habit, but I don't think I've used since, uh, Naxx. Especially paired with the LB glyph, it maybe lasted about 6 seconds - hardly enough time for anything substantial to crit. The only time it got used was when I got MC'd and the boss decided to pop my "cooldowns".

A 50% increase in crit damage bonus is nice, but Combustion is still rather underpowered. Compare it to what the other specs get, like Icy Veins (20% haste) or PoM/Arcane Power (instant cast/30% more damage with 30% more mana cost). In comparison, getting three guaranteed spell crits is probably not worth a, what, 3 minute CD? Yeah (EDIT: still a 3 minute CD, and lasts until 3 non-periodic Fire spell crits). I'd be happier if it had a set duration/set crit chance bonus, or a shorter CD, or both! In its current format, you're not even guaranteed a Hot Streak proc. It needs a major overhall.

Now, for the Arcane changes... these I really want to get on and test. I've been specced fire for over a month now (and my arcane spec got cannibalized into a pvp frost spec for Faction Champs), and my roommate (a fellow mage, and diehard Arcane fan) and I have been really hoping that the potential buffs make Arcane a competitive spec again.

The Arcane Blast change can only be considered a buff, at least, as far as I'm concerned. We're going from a total of 600% mana increase:45% damage increase, to a 700% mana increase:60% damage increase. This is an increase in our DPM (damage per mana), which is so tenuous with Arcane mages. I'd like to test how this change, especially with the shorter duration, will affect our mana efficiency when paired with the Missile Barrage change.

Now, on to Missile Barrage. There was some confusion with this change (and since live realms are still down, I can't confirm either way). The patch notes state that "this talent now removes the mana cost". This is the wording generally used when the talent itself has changed. They usually put "this talent, in addition to its original effects, now removes the mana cost" if it's, well, an additional effect. The patch notes seem to be saying that the effect has changed from half the cast time, to no mana cost, but people were reporting that the talent was behaving, on the PTR at least, as though the mana reduction was an additional effect, and were still proccing half-time casts that were free. The latter would be an amazing boost, but the former just... sucks.

EDIT: as of last night, Missile Barrage got an awesome change! First: yes, it is free. As in, no mana cost. So that just saved you 960 mana. Woo! Second: it no longer casts "in half the time". No, the cast time is reduced by 2.5 seconds!!!! That, my friends, is AMAZING. I just lost a half second off the channel time for my Arcane Missiles (well, when I'm not fire specced). So I'll be casting Arcane Missiles that channel in 1.5s, and do 60% more damage, and they'll cost me no mana! This was a patch of Arcane-Mage-ly LOVE!

EDIT AGAIN: Just adding this in: my roommate, the other Arcane fan that hasn't yet abandoned her spec (I feel like a failure in my Frosty side), was running a heroic dungeon yesterday (dunno which one, though). After it's done, she runs in my room, and says 4 magic words:
I gained 1000 dps.
Oh. My. God. Wtb respec. (For comparison's sake, she's still in about 80% Naxx 25 gear, including her weapon, and she was pulling 6k dps or more. I'm actually going to wait a week or so for things to settle down. I fear an incoming nerf.)

Hm, I really haven't made any big insights on this post. Sigh. What a terrible comeback post.

Check back later in case I do update this. I'm also going to go work on what is, arguably, a more interesting post about how Vezax is EVIL.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Mage in Absentia

Well, hi. Yeah, things have been quiet around here, but I haven't really had much material to go on. Over the last month or more, I've logged maybe 10 or 12 hours played, total. Aside from visiting my parents and my in-laws (there's 2 weeks WoW-free), my account was hacked in June. Luckily, it was restored within 4 days, but since then I've raided I think once, maybe twice.

I'm not quitting WoW, just not playing as much as I used to. Which is fine; I need to find something productive to do in real-life anyways. Like a job, and school and things. I went out and bought yarn, size 8 knitting needles, and Knitting for Dummies yesterday, and I have vowed to finally learn to knit. I will rather likely be moving before the summer's out, back on campus. Last year, I attended less than half of my total days of school because getting from my home to classes was a chore (also, the breaks between said classes were too long for me to entertain myself at school, but just short enough that I didn't have time to bus home and back).

Things are afoot! Changes will be made!

Also, 12% mana cost reduction for Arcane Blast? Blizzard must love me!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

PAC, cont'd

In response to yesterday's Power Auras post, Gnomeaggedon asked me to make a list of my auras and settings that I use. For most of you, it will be more worthwhile to read my previous post before this one :)

My mage has the most configured auras of all of my characters, however most are for her alternate specs. Here are the Auras I use:
  • Fireball! (Frost), Hot Streak (Fire), Missile Barrage (Arcane)
These three auras all use the same settings, just switch the name of the buff in the Activation tab.
  • Living Bomb (Fire, FFB)
This Aura doesn't have a timer, since it is set to show only when Living Bomb is not active.
  • Icy Veins/Combustion/Arcane Power/Heroism/Trinket procs/etc.
These settings would work for any aura that you want triggered by a certain buff. These all show a timer.

I put these in separate from my Missile Barrage procs, etc., even though they use the same settings. For my trinkets and cooldowns, I generally use static auras - they don't bubble, pulse, move, or whatever. For my trinkets and Mana Surge (from my 2pcT7 bonus), I have the transparency on the aura set almost to zero - I'm only interested in the timer. Heroism does pulse, to make it look cooler ;)

  • Arcane Intellect, Armor, or Food Buff fade
I use these auras to show when these buffs are not active. I've shown the example of my food buff, since I've set the duration in the animation tab to 30 seconds, so that if it fades during a boss fight, or I don't feel like refreshing it, the aura will fade and it won't clutter my screen.

For my Arcane Intellect and armor Auras (the Arcane Int. tab settings are shown in yesterday's post), I have the "only if in raid" option unchecked. That way, these auras will show while solo-ing as well.

  • Low Health/Mana
Using the health or mana option gives you a percentage slider:

It's that simple! If you check the "Enemy Target" option, it will track your hostile target's health - useful for abilities that require the target to be below a certain percentage, or if you just want to know when to unload your awesome cooldowns.

And thus concludes another picspam post. Just keep in mind that the graphics used and the animations are entirely up to you - customize this awesome addon to your own needs! These settings can be adjusted to any class for any buff, debuff, whatever.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Power Auras Classic

I've been planning to do a post about Power Auras Classic, but WoWInsider beat me to it by featuring it in today's Addon Spotlight. I have a few screenshots lying around, and I figured I'd make a little tutorial.

I use this addon for
everything. Pretty much all of my characters have something programmed into PAC, and my mage most of all. Power Auras will make an aura (an on-screen graphic) appear whenever something specified happens. For example, if my mage procs Missile Barrage, this is what my screen shows:

There's a big purple, pulsating graphic that is impossible to miss, even in the busiest of fights. It even has a timer at the top, showing me how much longer I have left on my proc. I've used the same mechanic to track Fireball! procs on my Frost spec, and Hot Streak procs as Frostfire/Fire. Here's how it works:

STEP ONE: type "/powa" to bring up the main menu, which I have moved over to the left of the screen.
STEP TWO: click on the red "new" button at the bottom of the menu, to open the configuration menu, which I have moved over to the right of the screen.

STEP THREE: customize your graphic! Slide the texture bar across to see the different graphics available. Clicking the "WoW Textures" box gives you a second set of textures, and you can add your own textures if you click "Custom Textures", but I've never done this. The little box at the bottom left of the sample graphic allows you to change the colour. Resize and move the graphic using the X-axis, Y-axis, and size sliders.

In this example, I'm creating an aura to show when I do
not have Flask of the Frost Wyrm (my raiding flask) active, but only if I'm in a raid. Here's what my graphic looks like:

The first option I click is "show when not active" (the box in the first image above). If you leave this unchecked, the aura will show when the proc is active, like with my Missile Barrage example, above. By checking the box, it will only appear if the buff/debuff is not active. I use this option to show whether I have a food buff (again, only in raids), as well as all of the time to show when my Arcane Intellect and Armor have faded.

Next, you should fill in the information about the buff/debuff itself. In the "Activation" tab at the bottom, type in the name of the spell. From the drop-down menu, chose whether it is a buff, debuff, or any other number of conditions. If it has a specific stack number that you're looking for (for example, 5 stacks of Imp. Scorch, or Maelstrom Weapon), enter that number in the "Stacks" box, next to the menu.

Next, click the options below that apply to this buff. Do you want it to only show up during raids? Click that option. Is it a debuff on an enemy target? Click the red "Enemy Target" option, and it will track it for your current target. If there's going to be more than one of the same debuff on a boss (for example, three Fire mages all cast Living Bomb), click "Cast by me" to track only your debuff.

To set up a timer, click on the far-left customization tab. Move the timer to where you want it on-screen, and that's it! The first time the aura activates, the timer will calculate automatically. You can also set manual timers, if needed.

The last bit of customization that I use is the animations. I set most of my auras to Bubble and Pulse, since that makes them very noticeable. There are many options, all of which can be previewed.

Here is what the set-up for my Armor aura looks like:

I've added in all of the possible armors, separated with slashes. I did the same for Arcane Intellect, Brilliance, and the Dalaran variations of each.

Here are the options for my Living Bomb aura:

To set up an aura for low health/mana etc., click the option from the drop-down menu and move the slider to the desired percentage. For example, I have an aura pop up when I'm at 10% mana, and 20% health:

To conclude this picture-heavy post, here is what my screen looks like with all of my raiding procs up:

The red at the top is for Heroism (Bloodlust, for you Hordies), with a timer. The purple circle and timer are for Missile Barrage. The yellow and green timers are for my two spellpower trinket procs. The pink timer at the bottom is for Mana Surge, the spellpower proc from the 2pcT7 bonus. The blue graphic and timer at the very bottom are for Icy Veins.

THIS IS NOT JUST FOR MAGES! I know there's an addon called Scorchio that does most of what I just showed you, but I love how much I can customize and adapt PAC. I'm working on making an aura to show when Pallymar, greedy little healer he is, has my Focus Magic buff. My DK uses PAC to track her diseases and Horn of Winter/Strength of Earth Totem. My pallies have auras for when they're missing Seals and Blessings. Power Auras Classic is a very versatile addon, and definitely worth trying out.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Noob-ish Mistakes - as tagged by Averna

So, Averna at Nerf This Druid tagged me to write about my noobish mistakes.

First, as I mentioned back in the beginning, I played a lot of lowbie alts before I settled on a mage, and I made a variety of noobish mistakes on them all. I'll try to compile a list, but I've no guarantee it'll be amusing:

  • my first noobish mistake was rolling a freaking warlock, and an Undead one to boot! That fail character is still sitting at level 17, never to be touched again.
  • I used to be not-so-familiar with talent points, and just stuck them wherever, without reading what came further down the tree. I think when I was first speccing Luth, she had talent points spread across the first tier of all three trees until like level 30.
  • I have, on multiple occasions, forgotten to go "level up" when I dinged an even level. I did this at level 42 on Luth! I was a noob for a while with her.
  • On my shaman, I decided that totems were too much of a hastle, and stopped using them. I also tried to level as resto, and just melee'd until the CD on my Earth Shock was up.
  • I definitely specced into Improved Wands. Yep.
  • I didn't move my hearthstone for probably the first 30 or so levels. I just walked everywhere.
  • I have definitely beaten mobs to death with my staff.
  • I didn't spec either of my paladins into Seal of Command, which I later learned is an absolute must for leveling. Oops.
  • Just because I can wear it, doesn't mean I should. My shaman has Agilty gear, and she's caster.
  • I specced Frost for the very first time like a week ago. At the same time, I actually learned how to pvp. I've never won against a ganker; I just wait to die, and then move on.
I can't really think of anything overly... funny that I failed at. I never had to do the corpse run through Wetlands... not only was I leveling a mage, but I was being mentored by another mage, who just ported me everywhere.

Sorry Av, my post is fail :(

EDIT: Ooo, yeah, I forgot to tag people!
Gnomeaggedon at Armaggedon's Coming. Happy birthday! Now tell us your noobish fails!
Xelaeno, my dear old guildie, at Holy Fire Spec.
Aaand I've run out of people to tag :( I was considering tagging Tal, but I don't think this is quite up his alley.

I'm also going to try to make a real post later, a lot of people have been debating over Mage Armor vs. Molten Armor for Arcane mages, and I'd like to look into it.