Sunday, January 13, 2008

Raiding as a Mage

The leap from solo WoW to group WoW can be a tough one. As you probably know by now, group play demands that you excel at what your class is good at, and completely ignore everything else.
When you, mage, go off to kill some mobs, you are providing the pulling, the tanking, the DPS, and the heals, all by yourself. Pull a second mob by mistake, and now you're doing the crowd control as well. You have to fill all of the classic group roles with you and only you.
This all changes when you group up with other people. Grouped up, you no longer have to tank, heal, pull. That stuff is not your responsibility, and you can safely ignore them and leave those tasks to the classes who excel at them.
You will never tank an instance. There are a couple bosses where you tank, but that is far out from the norm.
You will never heal an instance. It just won't happen. K?

For we mages are here for two things: dealing damage to the bad guys, and turning the bad guys into cute farm animals. Thats what we do.
You don't need to kite a mob, because someone else will be tanking it for you. You don't need to worry about people's health bars, someone else is taking care of that.
So what do you, the grouping/instancing/raiding mage need to know?

Synopsis of the 3 main specs in a raid.

Arcane, essentially, specs the mage into a balls-to-the-wall Burst DPS spec, mana be damned. Going full bore Arcane Blast with cooldowns blown will put the mage OOM in a matter of seconds, but his DPS will be insane. Utterly insane. Until his mana bar goes limp.
Think of it like the spec designed to kill the trash in raids as fast as possible.
Picture it like a Drag Racer, designed to reach speeds of excess of 240 mph, but can only maintain this for a half mile.

Fire is the opposite. It specs the mage as far away from burst DPS as possible from mage, and essentially specializes the mage for boss fights. Thats why it's so popular, "the" raid spec if you will. Any fight thats under 10 seconds is a waste of a fire mages time. This spec is designed for the long haul.
Think of it like the spec designed to fight the boss mobs in raids efficiently.
Picture it like a massive trucking... truck... designed to reach speeds of no more than 80, 90 mph, but can maintain it for almost a thousand miles.

Frost is the middle ground here. It does not have the same amount of burst damage arcane is capable of, and it does not have the long haul power that fire does. It has better burst damage than fire, and has far greater longevity than arcane.
Think of it like the spec that tries to find a comfortable middle ground between boss fights and trash killing.
Think of it like a wee little Toyota sports car that can go 140 mph, and keep it up for a couple hundred miles.

Raiding as Arcane

Raiding as Fire

Raiding as Frost

Dealing Damage

This will be your primary role in a grouping scenario. You're a mage, you're a purist DPS (damage per second) class.
Depending on your spec, you will have what is called a "spell rotation", a series of spell casts you use to do as much damage as possible. What spells you use depends entirely on what spec you use.
The goal of DPS is to continue casting, to continue dealing as much damage as possible for as long as possible.

Step 1: The Mana Pool

In order to cast spells, you must have mana to cast said spell. You should start each confrontation at full mana, so you will be able to continue casting for quite some time before going OOM (out of mana). During most "trash" (i.e. non-boss fights) your default mana bar will be enough to last you the entire fight.
However, during boss fights, this will almost never be the case. Your mana bar will run out, and it is your responsibility to keep your mana bar replenished, to keep you casting spells as long as possible.
You have the following options avaliable to restore mana: Mana Gems, Mana Potions, and Evocation.
What limits you fro having an eternal mana bar is the fact that these mana restoratives have cooldowns attached to them. Both mana gems and pots have 2 minute cooldowns, and Evocation can only be used every 8 minutes.
You have to be a little smart about when to use your mana restoratives, or you will find yourself with an empty mana bar rather frequently, especially if you are specced arcane. As a general rule, never, ever wait until your low on mana to use a consumable.
Let's say you have 3 mana potions, and no gems for some reason, and 9000 mp.
Now, these mana potions restore 2.5k mana per potion.
As the fight goes on, you want to use the first mana potion right when your mana bar hits the line where it will be almost completely filled.
In this example, you are going to want to drink the first mana potion at 6500 mp. Don't drink it any sooner, or you will have wasted mana. If you drink it at 8000 mp, you just wasted 1500 mana points. Don't do that.
Let's compare a mage who drinks intelligently, and one who drinks only when his mana is almost gone. (These numbers were picked arbitrarily).

Let's say each of these mages use 3k mana every minute. They each have 9000 mana to go through. Without using consumables, they will each be able to cast for 3 minutes before going OOM. Now, these mages are using Super Mana Potions, which for some odd reason, always restore the maximum 3000 mana.
The first mage will use his mana potions intelligently, using it whenever he can make use of it.
The second mage will only use it when he's OOM.
So. Here we go.

Minute One - Each mage has used 3k mana. Mage 1 uses his mana potion at this mark, restoring him to full mana. Mage 1 = 9000 mana. Mage 2 = 6000 mana.

Minute Two - Each mage has now used 6k mana total. Mage 1 has 1 minute left on his potion cooldown. Mage 1 = 6000 mana. Mage 2 = 3000 mana.

Minute Three - Each mage has now used 9k mana total. Mage 1 drinks another potion, the second the cooldown is up. Mage 2, being OOM, now uses his first potion. Mage 1 = 6000 mana. Mage 2 = 3000 mana.

Minute Four - Each mage has now used 12k mana total. Both mages have 1 minute left on their potion cooldown. Mage 2 is now OOM, and spends the next minute scuffing his shoes. Mage 1 = 3000 mana. Mage 2 = 0.

So you see the difference using the mana restoratives does. Use 'em smart.

Step 2: Threat

When you hurt a mob by setting it on fire or whatever, this causes the mob to start to get angry at you, and eventually, hate you so much it wants to rape your children then force-feed their corpses to you.
Now, in a group, there a multiple targets for the mob to choose from, and ideally the mob will choose the tank (the tank here defined as "Not You"). So, once the tank has "aggro" on the mob, meaning the mob is hitting the tank and not anyone else, you can feel free to open up on the mob in question.

How to Not Pull Aggro

And that's all there is to it! Keep your mana bar up, keep your threat bar low, and your DPS will soar.

Crowd Control

We're going to talk about the Almighty Polymorph here. While some disagree, polymorph is the best crowd control effect in the game. There. I said it. End of story. Able to be used on humanoids and beasts, the mobs it can crowd control far outnumber those it cannot. Why is polymorph so good?

Why Polymorph Is So Damn Good.

When you are assigned a mob to crowd control, it is your responsibility, and your responsibility alone, to make sure that mob stays sheeped and never, ever gets lose. Because of its incredible ease of use, usually you will be assigned to control a mob that is difficult for other forms of crowd control to handle. For example, that ranged caster than can wipe your entire party in 6 seconds if it was lose. Yeah, you gonna sheep that 'un.
Sheep your mob as soon as possible. Be on the safe side for the first few pulls to get a feel for the timing of how this particular group does their pulls. Sometimes the tank will pull with a ranged shot, sometimes a hunter will do the pulling, sometimes the tank will simply run into the mobs and face pull them. Get a feel for the timing, and get Polymorph to land no less than a second after the mobs get aggrod onto the tank.
For example, if your tank pulls with a crossbow, as soon as you see the shoot animation start, begin casting polymorph. If your tank is a Paladin, and pulls, start casting Polymorph as soon as the Avenger's Shield cast bar pops up. It will land shortly after the Shield hits.

Next, you need some way to keep track of your polymorphed target while doing other stuff.

Start of by setting up a focus. World of Warcraft let's you "save" a target, which is kept in a separate frame. When you type /focus, whatever you had targeted will show up in the focus frame and stay there no matter what you do with regular targeting.
If you are using UI replacement addons like pitbull, make sure you have a focus frame enabled.

Second, get a macro set up here. At the minimum, you need a macro that sets your focus, and one that targets your focus.

To set focus:

/focus target

That's all you need. It will put whatever your target is into the focus frame

To re-target focus:

/target focus

This will switch your current target to your focus.

Of course, you can make these macros as complicated as you like.
For example:

/target focus
/cast Polymorph

Or do something like this macro:

/clearfocus [modifier:shift]
/focus [target=focus,noexists]; [target=focus,dead]
/clearfocus [target=focus,help]
/cast [target=focus,exists,harm] Polymorph; Polymorph

When you press this one, assuming you haven't polymorphed something already, your current target will be thrown into the focus frame, and you will polymorph it. Any time you press it again after that, it will simply recast polymorph on your focus. Once the polymorph mob is dead, simply press the same button when targeting something else to focus and sheep it.
If you need to sheep a new target, and your old sheeping target is still alive, target the new mob, and clock the macro while holding down the shift button. That will clear your focus, reset it, and then cast Polymorph.

Snazzy, huh?

Third, you need a timer of some sort that will keep a little counter bar somewhere on your screen that keeps track of exactly how much longer you have on sheep. Whether you get something like Cryolisis2 or natur enemy castbar, it doesn't matter. So long as it keeps track of the time on your sheeps. Personally, I use natur enemy castbar, but what you use is strictly up to you.
The addon you get needs to have the following:
- Countdown in seconds until the sheep breaks
- Visual bar, that flashes when the countdown is almost up
- An audial warning, such as Cryolisis2's "Bah Ram Ewe" thing


Before going into any instance or raid, make sure you know the rules of the loot. Fights over loot is a very common problem, that can almost always be simply cleared up by letting everyone know what the loot rules are.
If you're going to have an argument over loot, make sure you have it before there is any loot to argue about.

If you want to call "dibs" on a specific drop, do so at the start of the run.

During a raid, make sure you know how the guild's DKP system works.

Know if the Karazhan runs go with DKP or simply rolling on whatever drops.

And for the love of everything purple, DON'T LOOT IN COMBAT. Wait for everyone to be up on their feet, recovering, drinking, whatever, before looting anything.
Every single time you loot in combat, a GM kills a cat in the blood elf starting area.

Generally, most standard instance runs have everybody roll "Greed" on the Bind on Equip items, and boss loot is either "Need" or "Pass", if someone can use it.
Like, if a caster robe drops that will be an upgrade to both the warlock and mage, they both roll Need on it, and the rest of the party simply passes. This is usually how boss loots are dealt with.

If you win the roll, do the standard "woot!" or whatever in party chat, and toss on your new duds and /dance.
If you lose the roll, do a /cheer on the 'lock or whatever, tell them "grats" and ask them to /dance for you.
If they win the roll and you complain or otherwise act like a prick, just stop, And never, ever run an instance again with anybody ever. They rightfully won the drop, so you can just shut it and move on, you selfish bastard.
Going with this same example, let's say on the second boss some caster gloves drop that, again, both you and the warlock can definitely use.
You just won the robe, didja? Well, guess what. Your passing on these gloves, the 'lock gets to have them. Why, you ask? Because your a nice person right? This warlock is putting in just as much time as you are here. You already got an upgrade, time to let the warlock snag something too. You're not a loot whore, right? Right?

Mistakes can be made with looting, however, just like anything else.

Don't worry if you make a mistake in looting, every one slips up now and then. Don't shrug it off, though, either. Apologize if you are responsible, say it won't ever happen again, and then make sure it never does happen again. Then move on. Don't do something stupid like apologizing over and over again for the next ten minutes. Once is enough. We get it. You're sorry, you'll never do it again. End of story.

Same thing applies to other mistakes, like pulling the boss early or breaking a sheep. Apologize and move on with it. Find out what you did wrong, and strive to never make the same mistake again.

If someone else had a little screw-up, if the tank accidentally rolled need on a caster wand, or the hunter forgot to dismiss their pet before jumping off that retarded ramp (y'all know the one I'm talking about), DO NOT immediately assume that person is a jerk/moron/idiot/huntard.
Again, everyone makes mistakes from time to time. Don't ignore the mistake, obviously, just point out what happened rationally. That is, of course, assuming the person who made the mistake doesn't acknowledge it themselves.
If a warlock accidentally puts a Curse of Agony on your sheep, and they apologize on the spot, accept it and move on. No need to QQ over cursed sheep.
If they don't, point it out like so:

/p Hey, [Warlock], you put a Curse of Agony on my sheep back there. Try to avoid that in the future; makes it reeeeal hard to keep it polymorphed

Something like that. Toss in some smiley face emotes or winky face emotes as they fit your personality.
Usually this is all it takes, and the problem never arises again.

Of course, if they blow you off, say something like "shut up i didnt break it" or something like that, whatever you do, DON'T blow up at them. Consider:

Mage: Yo, druid, you accidentally tossed a moonfire on my sheep. Try to avoid doing that again, ok? Makes it hard to keep the thing sheeped when its taking damage.
Druid: huh? what r u talking about? i didnt break it

We have two reactions we can go with here.

Mage: Ok, fair enough, but somebody had a DoT on the mob I was supposed to sheep. You break it, you tank it, fair? Leave ma lambchops alone!

Good job! Now you've not only informed, pointed out the mistake, but also made a joke and showed the rest of the party you're a perfectly mature and reasonable person. Not an easy feat.

Mage: Oh for fucks sake! What is wrong with you@! I clrealy saw that damn moonfire there! Are you retarded or something? God, what a noob

Guess who looks like a jerk now. Thats right, you do. Don't be this mage. I've been there, it isn't pretty. Play the game with hostility, you will only ever generate more hostility. Play the game with friendliness, and you will generate more friendliness.


Before going into any instance / raid, do your homework. Find out what the instance / raid will demand from your class. Find out about any threat resets, any special tricks the bosses have. Spend at least a little time reading up on strategies so you aren't a clueless moron walking in through the entrance.
Any knowledge you can get going into an instance / raid will serve you very well.


This right here is the most important thing to do while raiding. The raid leaders themselves have done a lot of work putting this raid together. They've gone online, they've done research. They know the fights, they know the strategies. They know the timings, they KNOW THEIR SHIT.
LISTEN to what they say. When the raid leader speaks, you shut your fucking mouth and listen to what he/she is saying. If the raid leader says "ranged DPS move to the left of the pole at the 2 minute mark", your little DPS heinie is moving to the left of that pole at the 2 minute mark.
If the raid leader says "Ok, stop DPS now" you begin to do nothing. Stand there until you get the go ahead to keep DPS'ing.

The raid leader's job is to know the fight. So they go off and learn the fight. Then they pass on the pertinent information to you. They're focus is raid wide, and they need the raid to follow their directions in order for anything to be successful.
Stuff like what your spec is, what spells you use, your threat levels, thats all you.
Where the raid is at the 4 minute mark, the positioning of the melee DPS group, that is what the raid leader is for.

Do what they say, when they say it, and your raids will be successful.


Vox said...


I heartily approve of this post.

Vox said...

random thought, you should do more high school anecdotes lol



Euripedes said...

Fixed some random ass HTML tags that were doing horrible things.

Apparently putting in < warlock > then causes some random stuff to happen later, when the blog attempts to close whatever html code "warlock" is, and thus tossing < /warlock > all over the place in a valiant effort to cease warlocking.

MoonieGilneas said...

Sorry but that mage maccro sucks - try this .

Focus on target, Left Click Macro - Click Mob you wish to attack, Right click macro to resheep and keep the mob targeted.

Change Turtle to PIG if u don't have it. "Focus, 4 is for raid targeting - change that accordingly , you must be promoted.

focus [nobutton:2]
/script SetRaidTarget("focus", 4)
/cast [button:2,target=focus] Polymorph(Rank 1: Turtle);Polymorph(Rank 1: Turtle)

Moonie said...

/focus [nobutton:2]
/script SetRaidTarget("focus", 4)
/cast [button:2,target=focus] Polymorph(Rank 1: Turtle);Polymorph(Rank 1: Turtle)

(Need a slash before Focus)

Kaminski @ Eonar said...

Great post, especially for mages who are just starting to raid (and I say this as a recently-started raider).

Regarding polymorph and timers, there's a simple option for your macro for those who use Deadly Boss Mods.

Add this to the end of your macro, and a timer - like the same that come up for BGs and bosses - will show up:

/dbm timer 50 Polymorph

This timer lasts for 50 seconds, and will be labelled "Polymorph". The same thing can be used for Shackle Undead, Banish, or Pizza. Whatever's important to you. The syntax is:

/dbm timer [seconds] [label]