Gah, typical. Yesterday I knew everything I wanted to put in this post but work was kinda busy so decided I'd write it today. Woke up this morning and guess what.... complete brain fart. Can't remember half of it. But being British and having a stiff upper lip about it all I shall soldier on and attempt to read everything I read the past week that gave me such great ideas for this post.
Damn you ageing memory lobes.
OK guys today we're going to look at what us, as mages, should be doing when we're running in Cataclysm 5-man Dungeons. What should we be doing? What are things that are really going to annoy the other classes, especially the tank? What can we do to help alleviate those annoyances? What tools are available to help us help everyone else?
Know The Tactics - Know The Plan
OK this is the most basic thing and I'm sure most, if not all of you, already know the tactics for the Cataclysm dungeons and their heroic versions. But do you really know them? Yes, OK on General Umbriss you know to move (blink) out the way of his charge attack and to kill the troggs asap, especially the purple one. But have you considered kiting the purple trogg over to a corner and polymorphing it? If you polymorph it then no more purple troggs get summoned because the sheep still counts as an active add (the other troggs will still get summoned). It's a lot easier than have to switch off the boss and panic dps everytime a new trogg pack gets summoned - you've already got him packaged up in the corner and you re-sheep as necessary.
In SFK HC, you do know you can Iceblock to avoid Asphyxiate on the first boss right? Twice if you have Cold Snap.
You know that you can use Slowfall to help mitigate the fall damage caused by some tornado attacks that hurl you up in the air - say in the Altairus fight.
You know in Vortex Pinnacle you can use Ring of Frost to freeze up those Skyfall Stars, which at least goes some way towards lessening the damage caused by the headlong charge into the middle of them.
Of course that leads me on to the next point - communicate. If you plan to Ring of Frost those annoying Stars, tell the tank before he rushes in. If you're gonna sheep the purple trogg - tell the other DPS before they start trying to burn it down.
And for God's sake, follow the marks - follow the kill order. Tell the tank right at the start of the instance that you're sheeping the big silver moon mark - believe it or not many people don't know the 'established' mark system and just start using their own. This has led me to sheep the moon only to have the <insert random class> and Tank yell 'WTF, moon was for <insert random CC>'. Moon is for Polymorph, either inform those that don't know or ask for an explanation of the marks the tank is using.
Do Your Job
There has never been a better time to be a mage. We are a veritable bag of tricks and we should be using all of them. Sadly not everyone knows what those tricks are, including a lot of us mages, I even include myself; I started my Mage in Wrath. Whilst I know many things from my TBC days I certainly never fully utilised everything that was available to me as a mage in Wrath cos there wasn't a need.
So what is our job? It isn't just DPS you know!
Crowd Control: We all know polymorph right, but that isn't the only trick up our sleeves. We have Ring of Frost, Frost Nova, Cone of Cold. You don't have to even be be Frost to use many of these lovely lovely spells and they all contribute to controlling the mobs so make sure you use - but use them responsibly. The tank can get very annoyed if you freeze up all the mobs before he/she can grab aggro. Aside from the polymorph target, you should be looking out for any mobs that break loose from the pack - especially if they're heading for your healer.
Time Warp: We have been given a wonderful new ability to Blood Lust Time Warp. Know when to use it during boss fights. Either discuss with the tank before the pull on when he'd like it popped or pay attention to the chat; many times a tank will say 'BL' - he means any Time Warp/Heroism/Blood Lust ability. Additionally make sure you read up on tactics, most guides will say a good time to pop blood lust (ie. in Phase 3 or when a boss gets to 30% health in most cases).
Kiting: I am the world's worst kiter, I know this but it is something I am desperately trying to rectify because it is such an important skill to have. With Frostbolt, Frostfire Bolt, Cone of Cold, Frost Nova, Slow and Blink all available to you you should be able to kite.
Protect the Healer: OK this may be an odd one to you but by and large it should be up to the mage to grab any loose mob that is heading to the healer and kite it back to the tank. Just don't Frost Nova the mob right next to the healer - you're only going to annoy the tank and the nice person who keeps you alive.
Counterspelling and Spell Stealing: A lot of the time it's going to be between you, the Pally and the Warrior to interrupt mob casts - make sure you do it. Similarly with spell stealing this is something you should be doing. It's not just about getting some really nice buffs for yourself, you're also making sure the mob isn't as effective at taking chunks out your tank or you're making mobs more vulnerable to damage (70% damage reduction from Vapour Form anyone?).
Removing Curses: You have this spell, FUCKING WELL USE IT. Only Mages and Druids can remove curses (as far as I know - my knowledge on other classes can be hazey at times). As your druid is likely to either be your tank or your healer they are unlikely to have the time to deal with a ton of curses popping up. I know Remove Curse is a pain in the arse to use as it is, so don't. Download the DeCursive addon and you need never miss a curse again. I frequently find that I'm at the top when it comes to dispelling curses - the healer is usually busy and with the addon it's extremely simple to track who is cursed and get rid of it at a single click of a button.
Basic Do's & Don'ts
Do set your Polymorph target as your focus - it makes like easier for keeping track of it.
Do re-sheep your target BEFORE polymorph expires; nothing worse than watching your sheep target run into the fray before you've finished cast Polymorph.
Don't keep trying to re-sheep if the target is in the middle of a melee scrum or if it has DoTs on it (unless you're glyphed). You'll sometimes find that Rogues will also take on Polymorphed targets on their own, leave them to it.
Do remove curses; let the healer know you're doing it too but make it clear that it's only curses, not poisons or anything else.
Don't be afraid of macros - they can significantly improve your ability to do your job. For example using a /stopcasting; /cast Counterspell macro to ensure that your interrupts are timely.
Do watch your aggro, make sure you don't start spamming your hardest hitting spells until you are sure the tank has gained enough threat. If you see yourself rising on the threat meters, stop casting or cast less damaging spells.
Do use certain addons to improve your ability to do do your job (see list below; Decursive, Spellstealer, DBM and Omen are must haves).
Do kite mobs away from the healer and back to the tank.
Do not Frost Nova a mob right next to the healer then Blink away.
Take responsibility for your own health; use bandages and glyphed Evocation to help out the healer.
Mitigate damage when you can; this includes using Iceblock, Mana Shield, Mage Ward, Ice Barrier and Slow Fall whenever it is appropriate.
Do not stand in the bad (poison pools, fires, etc)
Do stand in the good (Power Word: Barrier, Healing Rain etc - for a full rundown on standing in the good go look at Tzufit's article over at Tree Heals Go Whoosh)
Do say when you need a mana break - it's just as important for you as it is for the healer.
Don't use spells with a knock back effect on mobs that are being tanked - I'm specifically thinking of the Spec'ed Blast Wave here.
Don't freeze mobs out of the tank's tanking range - chances are that the tank won't be able to build threat on it and it'll start heading towards your healer eventually. Whilst CC'ing lose mobs is important, try to kite them back to the tank unless it is all going to Hell in a handbasket.
If you're Frost, do stick the Water Elemental on passive - you can macro its attack into your attack quite easily.
Do not need on anything that has Spirit unless no one else wants it and it is a definite upgrade. The only thing with Spirit I have on my gear is the Hyjal Reputation belt, that's because I can't afford the 9k gold that the tailoring belt costs in our AH and it's the only decent epic belt I can get my hands on at the moment. It's reforged and it is on the top of my list of things to replace ASAP. Like I say I got mine from a rep vendor, if you start needing on Spirit stuff in dungeons then you're liable to upset people.
Don't be afraid to use your CDs like Mirror Image on trash PROVIDED you aren't going to over aggro and the CD will be over by the time you need it for the boss fight. I know I'm really bad at this as I always end up 'saving' my CDs for the boss... but the boss could be another 10 - 15 minutes worth of trash pulls away.
DeCursive; Displays a little set of UI boxes for people in your party; click the box when it shows red (indicating a Curse) and voila - curse removed.
Spellstealer; Pops up a little unobtrusive frame displaying what buffs your target has which are stealable.
Deadly Boss Mod; Will need no introduction to most of you. Gives you warnings of boss abilities and timers on boss attacks. Pretty much a raid standard.
Omen Threat Meter; It is an easy to use threat meter. Watch it to make sure you don't over aggro.
Combustion Helper; Tracks the relevant DoTs on your target and the cooldown on your Combustion spell. Handily hides itself when you're not in Fire spec.
Quartz; I use this for my cast bars but that's a personal preference.
Mage Nuggets; Another useful UI mod; not one that I use but I hear very good things about it.
Recount; A graphical damage meter. Not just useful for measuring the size of your own epeen, it also tracks who is dispelling and decursing as well as whose breaking the CCs.
OK this is not a definitive list of macros available for mages, these are just some of the ones I use to make my life easier.
Instant Counterspell - immediately stops whatever you're casting then casts Counterspell.
Instant Spellsteal - immediately stops whatever you're casting and casts Spellsteal.
One Button Attack - OK this is a bit more complicated; this pops my Synapse Springs and Icy Veins whenever they are available to save me having to keep them on my hotbar and pressing them every minute or so. Feel free to swap them out for any trinkets or anything you might want there instead. It also tells my water elemental (Mr Sploshy) to attack my target. As I have Mr Sploshy on passive, it just saves me clicking on the pet attack button all the time. It's important to use petattack and not /cast Waterbolt - this is because this is my spam button and I don't want to be resetting Waterbolt everytime I press it which seems to have been a bit of a problem before I canged it. Oh and it also disables the SFX for when your Synapse Springs/Icy Veins/Trinket is on CD, but turns them back on again afterwards.
/console Sound_EnableSFX 0
/cast Icy Veins
For anyone not sure, the /use 10 line is the line to activate my Synapse Springs on my gloves. To replace with trickets its /use 13 and /use 14 for trinkets 1 & 2.
Of course if you're not frost you can modify it easily, just take out the /petattack line and replace Frostbolt with Fireball or Arcane Blast.
Nuke Button - I press this when I wanna go full nuke. Note that I haven't added Time Warp yet because I prefer having Time Warp separate and ready to go when the tank calls for it. Again feel free to replace lines as you feel necessary for the likes of Arcane Power.
#show Mirror Image
/cast Mirror Image
/cast Icy Veins
The All Singing - All Dancing Polymorph Macro - OK this macro will sheep your target and set it as your focus, you can then move onto your DPS target. However, when it's time to reapply the sheep you can still stay targeted on your DPS target, just press the macro button and it'll automatically reapply the sheep to your focus so you never again have to try tabbing or mouse clicking trying to get back to your DPS target. But Wait, There's More! This will randomly cast one of your available Polymorph spells (in this example it's Sheep, Turtle or Pig cos those are the three I have) every time you click you'll polymorph the mob into a different critter... just for shits and giggles. It's fun AND practical. It'll also emote that you have sheeped the mob; I use emote rather than say, yell or a raid warning because they can becomes really irritating after just one dungeon run - emote is just a little less intrusive but still displays the info people need to know.
/castrandom [target=focus, exists, harm] Polymorph, Polymorph(Turtle), Polymorph(Pig)
/em has polymorphs %t. You break it, you tank it!
Well that's everything I can think of for now but by all means if you have any suggestions please do add them to the comments section and I'll update this article with them as soon as I can.