Mini-Post: A How-To With Diablo’s Community Feature

Diablo III: Reaper of Souls just dropped and one of the features that came with it (or rather, the Loot 2.0 patch) was the “Community”.

What are Communities?

Communities in Diablo are social groups that users can create and connect to in the game. They operate similarly to clans in that they have their own news page, ranks and private chat channel but unlike clans, you can be a part of several at a time. Think of it like an extended clan that’s based around things that aren’t just about Diablo! There’s communities for people that read certain webpages, local town communities and anything else you can think of.

I was excited to hear about this feature once I found out about it. I’m an extremely social person and the idea that I could hang out with lots of people who weren’t in my clan and chat about things was really neat.

How Do I Join One?

join-button

When you hop into game, go over to the bottom right of your UI and use the Communities button. (You can also access it by using default Shift + O!)  From there, you can hit the “Find” button and start searching for any community you could think of by language, subject or filter by name. You could even start a community of your own.

filter

Some communities have a little envelope by their name, that means you need to be invited to join. You can apply to join and see if you’re accepted.

I’m in! …Now What?

Once you have joined a community, get to mingling! The easiest way to do this is to join a community’s chat. Now, at the moment, chat is not “stickied” to keep you logged into it whether you leave the game or not. It’s different from WoW in that respect, so you have to rejoin every time you log into the game. You could be missing important or fun stuff if you forget this, but I hope that this is a bug and they fix it eventually.

Joining chat (or leaving) is pretty easy. Open your Community panel again:

join-chat

This logs you into your community’s chat so you can see what everyone is saying. The little red icon means you aren’t connected. And if you want to leave for some reason? Just click that button again.

Sightless Eye

As for my own communities, I started one for anyone who wanted a feminist/safe space to hang out and talk to people in Diablo III. It’s called “Sightless Eye” (which is what you’d search for in the Find panel) and has a handful of people right now. We mostly just shoot the breeze while demolishing demons, but if you want to come party with us, join!

And just remember to rejoin chat every time you hop in game! See you in Sanctuary!

Leveling as a Mage — Levels 31-40

Leichi floats in Maraudon.

 

Spells

Welcome to the 30-40 bracket, where all the mage spells you start to get tend to be less about your primary use nukes and cooldowns, but rather what I like to call “quality of life” spells. Things that make your time spent as a mage relaxing, enjoyable and frankly, kick ass over other classes. You got a taste of this when you got your Teleport spells last bracket, but now that you’ve come this far, prepare for the magical equivalent of riding around in a Bentley, waving over your shoulder at the warlocks and rogues crying on the side of the road. (Okay, maybe not like that, but come on, we’re pretty awesome.)

At 32 you get Slow Fall, which may seem like an unusual and frankly unnecessary spell, but as any veteran mage can tell you, will literally save your life. If you are a mage that spends any amount of time exploring the world or going into battlegrounds, the ability to descend gracefully and not hit the ground with a caster-shaped crater (preferably while popping off several instant cast spells) is beyond useful. Slow Fall does just that – it slows your falling speed. You float off at a diagonal towards the ground until you land on something solid. This spell can be cast on other party members or yourself, as well as used while mounted. Just make sure you are targeting the right person.

Molten Armor (level 34)  is the first time in leveling that you get one of your class-specific armors.  Much like a warlock’s armor or a paladin’s aura, an armor defines certain benefits and defenses. Molten Armor grants you extra critical strike chance and reduces your chance to be hit. Fire mages will value this more than arcane mages later on in the game, but for right now it is your only armor and you should wear it!

At level 36 you get your third installment of spec-specific spells. Arcane gets Slow. This is one of the spec’s few CC-like abilities. It slows one target’s movement by 50% (25% if it is against another player) and their casting speed by 25%. Now, if you use Glyph of Slow, all of your Arcane Blasts apply the Slow effect and you don’t need to cast it separately. But it might still be useful for having on your bars if you do any soloing or PVP.

Fire gets Critical Mass, which is a passive effect that multiplies the critical strike chance of your main Fire-specific spells. It’s one of the indications that Fire prefers crit overall as a stat. Your fire spells will start to rely pretty heavily on crit at the endgame to do respectable damage.

Icy Veins is what Frost gets, which is one of your major cooldowns. It is a 20% increase in spell haste and reduces pushback to your spells by 100%. This is like a little Time Warp all for yourself and should be used often, particularly during big fights.

Now for the moment I’m sure you’ve been waiting for – the ability to conjure food. That’s right, at level 38, you gain Conjure Refreshment. This is your ticket to reducing incoming costs for your budget and never needing to grocery shop ever again. Granted, conjured food is slightly behind the best available food for your level but if you forget to buy things like I do, it will work in a pinch. As well as being good for returning mana and health, this food turns into a new kind of sweet treat as you level up. (Right now, your conjured food is cookies! Yum!) Other players will love your food too – so much in fact that they will ask you for it four pulls into a dungeon. *facepalm*

 

Leichi picks out some new gear.

I want this one!

Gear

Matching colors and items! How novel! That is what you can expect during this portion of leveling – many quests in zones help itemize you sensibly as well and look snappy.  You’ll starting seeing more choices in head-gear as well as all your slots. Darkcleric’s Veil/Veil of Aerie Peak is a great blue quest reward from a quest in the Hinterlands (and it looks like a face mask, so cool.) Whitemane’s Embroidered Chapeau is also a classy choice for a head slot!

The only problems I really ran into with gear in this bracket was between some overlapping quest items or slots covered by dungeon drops having wildly different stat allocations. One example of this was two questions offering me two belt choices – one had +11 INT, one had +8 STA, +4 INT, and gave me a bunch of hit. Which seems like the better choice? Lots of intellect is great, but so is hit? This sort of stuff can get really confusing. Typically, even though HIT is my best stat for not missing on mobs, more INT should win out. It just is a flat DPS boost no matter how you slice it. A good way of determining which piece of gear is better when it has identical kinds of stats on it is which has more if you added all the “numbers” up. Hit is better than crit, haste is better than crit in a lot of ways.

Still, always prioritize for intellect if you can. If you get some gear that has spirit on it, don’t fret. While spirit does zippo for mages, if it also has intellect on it, it is an upgrade. As more gear becomes diversified for healers versus casters, it’ll be considered better if you let healers in your group roll over you on spirit items, but for now, anything that has more intellect should be something you pick. Intellect/stamina gear is fairly plentiful from quests, however. Secondary stats like haste are starting to become more plentiful, especially if you do dungeons. Now that you might be seeing this, let’s explain what haste actually does.

Haste is what speeds up your casting. It sounds simple but it can mean a few things – casting faster means technically more DPS. It also means you run out of mana faster, as you have less time to regen while casting. It also can speed up ticks of some DoTs and reduce your global cooldown by a small margin. Haste also only goes so far, especially when you get to the level where Heroism/Time Warp/Bloodlust is concerned. You can only speed up your casts down to 1 second. Under one second and you will be effectively locked out by the global cooldown between all your spells. That is what most casters that are working around a lot of the time when they talk about racials, cooldowns in regards to a “haste cap.” Early haste gains in leveling tend to be talented or profession cooldowns like Lifeblood.

Helpful Tips:

  1. Making food for healers in low-level dungeons or in battlegrounds now is considered polite and generous
  2. Slow Fall, Blinking as well as Ice Block can save your butt if you jump or fall off something high.
  3. At level 40, you can buy your 100% speed ground mount training.

The Art of Gentle Goldmaking

My bank alt waves at the AH.

 

 

I’m sure you’ve seen at least a handful of blogs that solely focus on how to make gold – they usually have some good tips to capitalize in various timely markets or are just too sketchy to really spend too much time on. I’ve always really avoided those places because while I like making gold, they always seemed to really require a whole lot of time and effort into making as much gold as possible. I feel that having tons of gold is great for the kind of large living like dropping hundreds of thousands on something dreamy, but the kinds of practices these blogs tout make having piles of gold as a sort of endgame in and of itself. What about the rest of us? While I like having enough gold to keep myself in the lifestyle I’ve grown accustomed to, a lot of people either do not have time nor inclination to make more gold their goal. I’m not very aggressive or a genius-level market prognosticator.

And that in and of itself is why I called this the art of “gentle” goldmaking: it is making enough gold to comfortably get by without a ton of time spent on it or needing to know tons of math or analysis. More than that really, it is a simple set of tips that help you develop some good habits that will keep money coming your way regularly. All of this stuff is things I’ve picked up over time and are how I do business, and you might find all of this stuff  irrelevant.

Caveat to this advice: I have tried to make this as general as possible. Many servers have wildly different kinds of markets; some support a lot of people, some don’t. The best advice is just to try things out and see what works for you.

1. Get A Bank Alt

One of the easiest ways to get into the groove of making money is to devote one of your characters to this very process. I know that some people are altoholics like I am and might not have room, but having a dedicated bank alt is a real lifesaver. My bank alt is a level 17 that originally started out in Vanilla to be a toon I was going to level with an ex-boyfriend, but once we split, I parked her in Stormwind and cleaned out her bags and she’s been my banker ever since. Any alt can be used for this purpose but ones that either have less playtime than your other ones (so they can stay near an Auction House and mailbox) makes this way easier. If you have an engineer, you can even use the engineering AH in your faction’s Shrine in Pandaria.

The reason bank alts are so gosh darn handy is because storing most of your gold makes buying and selling things very easy, as well as helpful if you’re saving towards something. It also keeps everything you want to buy or sell in one place so you’re not searching all over. Over the years, my bank alt has gotten increasingly bigger bags and even a couple tabs of a bank guild, but that just comes with the territory if you start doing a high volume of auctioning. Mostly it’s just handy that whenever you are done for the day, or want to clear out your bags as you level, that you just send everything to your bank alt. Doing this really gets you into the habit of seeing everything as “sellable” and also frees you up to deal with it later.

The first thing I do whenever I log onto WoW is check my bank alt – whether it be an auction house scan (we’ll talk about that later), collecting gold out of the mail or sticking up some new things onto the AH.

2. Don’t Hoard and Don’t Vendor

Also known as my “sell everything that’s not nailed down” rule.

Here’s probably one of the biggest lessons I’ve had to drill into my guildmate’s heads! Many people I know really don’t want to put in the effort of sticking things up on the auction house so they just vendor them; you lose out on so much more gold this way. The other direction to go in is to save literally everything and overwhelm yourself with things you might not ever need.

Hoarding is a really terrible idea and even I have problems with it sometimes. It’s so easy to think, “Someone is going to need this” and stash it away, only to come back months later with things just hanging out in storage doing nothing. Get into the habit of sending all your stuff to your bank alt or putting it onto the Auction House unless you can honestly say it is earmarked for something specific you can think of. Alt’s engineering powerleveling? Yes, save that ore! Might need that cloth for a rainy day? Ugh, sell it! There’s always some value in putting something up now rather than saving for a nebulous future; very few things that are from a current expansion that sell for more over time. I know that the urge is strong to keep something to potentially use it and save yourself money but it’s often way cheaper to sell it while its price is still high and buy it down the road when it sells for a lot less. Clearing your bank and bags every so once in a while (like once a week or once a month) also gets you out of this cycle of keeping things around that you might never use and puts it into your pockets.

As for vendoring, I know a lot of people say, “Well it’s not going to really sell for much on the auction house, so why bother?” Well, vendoring it for 20s rather than selling it on the auction house for 5G makes no sense to me. And 1G is always more than 0G. Vendor grey items and select few white items, and try to sell everything else. The only time I out and out vendor something I was trying to sell on the AH were things that either a) dropped below vendor price b) really just didn’t sell after months and months of trying.

This idea that something has to sell “reasonably high” is another weird thing I see people talking about; it’s often a lot more profitable to sell a lot of little things for a little bit of money than selling one particular item for a lot of money. Why people don’t want to sell something for 20G boggles me –  that’s 20G more than you had before. It all adds up over time. Every little bit of gold helps.

3. Use Tools Available To You

This is one of the places where I feel a lot of of casual players get scared and shy away from the auction house “game” – the fact of the matter is AHing is really not very easy to do or intuitive unless you use add-ons. And who really wants to have add-ons for selling things? Whether you do or not is really up to personal choice, but I find that it has made it a lot easier to be slightly more competitive than not. It cuts down on the amount of time I spend doing things, allowing me very efficient.

AH Mods

A good auction house mod basically cuts through the pages of listings and organizes them in a way that’s very easy-to-read, and depending on what you use, makes comparing prices for buying and selling a snap. Some people like heavier AH mods that give you deep market history but those also tend to use a lot of resources, so what I use is Auctionator. It gives me lightweight Buy/Sell tabs, and only saves AH data for items I buy or sell unless I specifically tell it to scan the entire market. I tend to scan the market once a day and that seems to serve me well. A good routine for me is getting up in the morning with my coffee and scanning the AH and then getting into listing/checking all my auctions for the day.

Auctionator selling tab.

 

See how easy that is to look at? It lets you set prices and stacks really fast and it lists them automagically one after the other. This makes adjusting what you are selling a breeze; buying is similar and you can even save shopping lists. But overall, just having that list makes buying the cheapest item very easy to see and it makes you sell things for what they should be selling at, not having to guess.

Organization Mods

A good AH mod is the baseline, but other things that help me get through the process of selling and buying are Postal (a very sturdy mailbox mod) and Altoholic (so I have item data for anything I have in my bags and what characters have what on them). These things are by no means necessary and just for my own purposes. But anything that saves me tons of right-clicking individual mails (I often have 300 auctions going) or wondering if my miner or my engineer has Ghost Iron bars is worth it.

Additional Information

Whether you’re hunting a specific item to buy or need to know what you should be selling items for, I cannot strongly recommend The Undermine Journal enough. It is a very handy WoW site to visit if you aren’t in-game, or even if you are! It lets you see what are top sellers/”hot” items for your server, and gives you consise graphs for best days and prices to sell things.

4. Make Professions Work For You

Do you have any professions on any of your toons? Professions are a pretty easy way to make gold, regardless of what you use them for. While some servers don’t have huge profits in top-end crafted items, selling raw materials from gathering professions or low level craftables works, even if they aren’t huge amounts of gold. I’ve made a bunch of gold on new servers that I have low level alts on just via mining or herbalism and selling whatever I collect. If you have more than one set of professions, you can even work in some synergy. Have an alchemist? Use a miner to farm up some Ghost Iron and transmute it into Trillium Bars. Gather herbs with an herbalist and send it to your scribe to mill – sell inks or glyphs.* A lot of times  people use their professions to help the toon they are attached to but never think about using them for more.

What I like to do is constantly send whatever I get on various characters to their “appropriate” crafters – all cloth goes to my tailor to be made into bolts and sell, or use for daily cooldowns. Ore gets send to jewelcrafter to get prospected, and so on. This is another one of those habits that getting into gets a process going and makes it all streamlined for you if you want to keep consistently making gold. Even just logging on and doing your daily cooldowns can net you cloth, gems, flasks or other things that you can turn around and put up on the Auction House.

*A couple of places where people really get super competitive are the cut gem and specific glyph markets. Tread here carefully and maybe opt to sell inks or uncut gems rather than selling in a heavily trafficked set of items that people make it hard to sell anything.

Diverse items on sale works in making gold.

5. Diversify and Rotate Your Stock

This hinges on that whole “sell everything that’s not nailed down” principle. The easiest way to make sure you sell things is to sell a little bit of everything. A lot of gold making blogs talk about “breaking into a market” or dominating a particular item on your server. Myself? I just sell whatever is in my bags most of the time. I don’t usually stockpile a lot of any one item (we’ll talk about this in the Risk/Reward section) and I just sell one or two things unless I really want to put effort into it.

Mixing it up is basically how I keep myself interested and it also makes it less precarious, particularly if your server (like mine) has a lot of gold barons. Sometimes I sell cooking mats. Sometimes I sell legacy raid drops. Getting in and out of one particular thing that you sell and selling as many different things basically means one person can’t sink your whole operation and you reach many more buyers that way – whether they just need stuff for their raid that night, a particular item for their transmog set or crafting mats for their new alt.

Another way to diversify is to capitalize on short-term buying. This does require a little more effort but doing things like keeping track of holidays and selling items related to them for a short amount of time is a great way to flush your coffers for a week or two. I’m sure you know the great Small Egg debacles around Winter Veil! Again, this requires a little more time/awareness of events in the future, so I don’t suggest it if you just want to do stuff day-to-day.

6. Accept Risk and Yield Rewards

Any attempts to make gold in WoW, no matter how casual, basically is a small level of risk. Increasingly higher risks in-game require a lot more gold in case you fail. Keeping your risk low by selling only what you have and selling it at “safe prices” is a very guaranteed way of never losing any money. Occasionally you will see no one selling what items you have and you can easily attempt to fill that gap and sell for a higher price. This is still low risk, in that if you don’t sell anything, you only lost your fees. Sometimes I see a lot of an item being sold way less than what it usually goes for and I buy it up. Sometimes I manage to sell all of it for a much higher price and sometimes I don’t. This is where risk is really involved. If you want to play it safe, this is a great strategy. But if you feel comfortable with your gold, you can make even a little investment go a long way. Capping yourself (spend only 50 or 100G on buying up items)  is a great way to make a little more money. I’ve lost a bit of gold in some pretty foolish investments, but I still inject a little risk into my daily routine. It’s not re-selling engineering mounts for thousands of golds, but maybe it’s a battle pet for 10G more or a stack of herbs for way more later in the week. Try it!

7.  Patience and Care

I know this is one of the hardest AH rules to master, especially for us gentle auction house users. It is very easy to get discouraged or impatient if something doesn’t sell right away. It’s okay if you take it to the vendor and sell it off. But for me, sometimes it really is worth it if you know you can sell something. You might have to relist it every day for a month but when it finally sells, it makes you feel great. That’s the best part of auction house stuff, that feeling of victory when someone finally buys your items!

Caring about what you’re selling also helps out as well; it feels weird to suggest that, but if you like what you’re throwing up there, it makes the investment worth it. I got into the transmog game pretty early and put a lot more time into it than I really had into a lot of other things prior to. Sometimes you move up from just basic AHing when you find something you legitimately like collecting or watching people and that’s okay. Getting cool stuff to people for money is not a bad goal and it makes you feel like an expert after a while.

8. Tuesdays are Great Days

This is the only non-general rule I have, and I feel that it probably applies to most servers, if not all. A lot of people log on on Tuesdays, especially if your server supports a giant raiding community. Putting your stuff up on Tuesdays means a lot of people are going to be logging on, especially after server downtime, to buy stuff they need for the week. It’s also the time of the week when most of the “weekend warrior” farmer prices have gone back up and you can make a bit more gold with hardly any effort. I like to sell all of my cooking mats and flasks and things that people might need weekly on Tuesdays.

These are just some of my rules for some of you who are looking to just make some gold and have no idea how. Let me know if these things work for you! Hopefully they will and you can buy cute outfits or maybe some new pets or even just manage to pay for your repairs. Like I said before, how much effort you want to put into this is up to you and if you don’t want to follow any of these rules, that’s okay too! But I’ve made a decent amount of gold over my time in WoW, even if it’s not the mega-millions of some people. And I’ve done it at my own pace and with a bare minimum of energy and cutthroat-ness.

 

 

Leveling as a Mage – Levels 21-30

Leichi casts Arcane Blast in Stranglethorn Vale.

This part of the leveling experience starts to dissolve into a series of choices. Do you want to level via quests? What zone? Do you want to do dungeons straight to 60? The same goes for what kinds of things you are doing as a mage. You are learning about not just the basics, but filling out what will be the heart of your rotation at this point.

Spells

You get five spells from levels 21-30 and a lot of their usefulness to you depends on what spec you decide on playing. This is also the point where you gain enough spells to start the basics of a rotation for every spec. At level 22, you gain Ice Lance. This is a low-mana instant cast frost spell, so you can cast it on the move. This spell becomes a lot more powerful/useful for frost mages at level 24, when all mages gain another set of speciality-based spells or effects.

This is what the Fingers of Frost proc looks like. Its second charge appears on the right.

This is what the Fingers of Frost proc looks like. Its second charge appears on the right.

Frost mages get Fingers of Frost, which is a proc off some of your spells (Frostbolt, Frostfire Bolt, Frost Orb, Blizzard or Scorch) that lets you use Deep Freeze (which you will get later) or Ice Lance as if it were frozen. Ice Lance does extra damage because of this. Fingers of Frost can also go up to 2 charges.

This is what two charges of Arcane Missiles looks like.

This is what two charges of Arcane Missiles looks like.

 Arcane mages get Arcane Missiles. Arcane Missiles have a chance to proc off any damaging spell you cast and can go up to 2 charges. It costs no mana and does more damage depending on how many Arcane Charges you currently have. They are a channeled spell, as well.

Heating Up and then Pyroblast! proc on right.

Heating Up and then Pyroblast! proc on right.

Finally, fire mages get a spell called Inferno Blast. This spell replaces Fire Blast for mages and does a couple of different things:

  • It has a 100% to crit.
  • Because of this, you should be using it to force your Heating Up proc (one crit) to become “Pyroblast!” (two consecutive crits also known as an instant no-mana Pyroblast)
  • It spreads all your DoTs to two other targets in 10 yards of the one you are currently targeting – Combustion, Living Bomb, Pyroblast, and Ignite.
  • It explodes all other “bomb” effects – Nether Tempest and Frost Bomb (which are talents you can choose later.)

 

Level 26 is Ice Block. This is a very important defensive ability – Ice Block is classed as an immunity, which is why it is so powerful. It doesn’t absorb damage, but it keeps you from being harmed by it. This means that you can use it for things like saving yourself from falling damage ([Going Down] is a breeze!) and keeping yourself alive during a high damage fight in case a healer dies or you are somewhere you shouldn’t be. It can also be used in a pinch to keep an aggroed mob off of you (if Invisibility is on cooldown) or even to break a fear. However, if you want to do fancy things like that, you have to be able to pop it on and off quickly. Make sure to have this keybound somewhere easy to reach. What this is does is a) allow you to break your cast to pop your Ice Block,  meaning you can have a nice hair-trigger cooldown at use  and b) tapping your Ice Block macro button a second time cancels the spells so you can use it for part of its duration instead of full. It gives you a lot more control over your block and the situation at hand.

Wrapping up spells at level 28 and 29 are Cone of Cold and Remove Curse. Remove Curse is still an important cleanse spell that mages should learn how to use to save healer’s mana as well as yourself. If you do not use an add-on to handle it (like Decursive) here is a quick mouseover macro that allows you to simply mouse-over and hit your hotkey:

/use [@mouseover,help][@target,help][@player]Remove Curse

What this does is: cleanse your mouseover, and if you aren’t moused over anyone, will cleanse a target if you have one, and failing either of those, cleanse yourself of a curse. Getting good at this will make you indispensable in raids and PVP. At this point, most specs now have a skeleton of a rotation, as well as utility. You have your primary nuke (Arcane Blast, Fireball, Frostbolt), secondary spells (Arcane Missiles, Frostfire Bolt, Pyroblast), and instant-cast fillers (Arcane Barrage, Inferno Blast, Ice Lance). You also have a couple AOE spells (Arcane Explosion, Blizzard) and a couple of utility spells and defensive cooldowns. This is the beginning of your actual life as a DPSer. Your basic rotations should look like:

  • Arcane – Arcane Blast, use Arcane Missile procs for mana regen and to complete your stack of Arcane Charges, clear your charges with Arcane Barrage when full (or to AOE). Arcane Explosion if you have lots of low health mobs. Use tier 1 movement talents or Fire Blast when on the move.
  • Fire – Fireball is your main spell, if you get a Heating Up proc, use Inferno Blast to force a Pyroblast proc. Use Pyroblast with procs. Use movement talent (preferred is Scorch) when on the go.
  • Frost – Use Frostbolt as your nuke, and cast Ice Lance on Fingers of Frost procs. Use your movement talent and Ice Lance when moving.

Talents

Tier 2 talents: Temporal Shield, Blazing Speed, and Ice Barrier

Level 30 gives us another talent choice and this tier is the “Survival Tier.”

  • Temporal Shield – This is a shield that you can cast at any time (even while stunned, etc) and lasts for 4 seconds. Anything damage gets healed back over 6 seconds after the shield effect fades. This is a good talent for when you know you will be taking a large amount of damage at a particular time.
  • Blazing Speed – After taking a melee or spell hit, you can use this spell and give yourself a huge speed boost (preferably away from your attacker) and negate any slowing effects on you as well.
  • Ice Barrier – I took this because at low-levels, this is a very beefy damage reduction shield. It’s not very complex but I don’t need complexity. It lasts for a 1 minute if damage does not break it. Very simple and effective.

Glyphs (New!)

At level 25, you gain your first of three major and minor glyph slots. The idea between each kind of glyph slot is that they focus on giving certain kinds of spells a little extra usefulness or flavor.  Major Glyphs tend to play around with a lot of secondary spells or cooldowns, giving you a little more width of choice here depending on what kind of play you want to do. Lastly, Minor Glyphs are strictly for fun/flavor or adding bonuses to quality of life spells. There’s not many of them, so it makes choosing them a lot more for “fun.”

What should you be picking for your first glyphs? It is difficult at level 25 since many of the abilities you would be augmenting with a glyph aren’t available to you yet. For sheer usefulness, I picked Glyph of Evocation as my first glyph, so that when I got Evocation, I could use it as a healing cooldown. It is also part of Arcane’s rotation later on. As a fun minor glyph, I picked Glyph of Illusion. To use a glyph, click on the item in your bags. Then press “N” to open up your talents and glyphs panel (if you have not re-bound it, otherwise use the panel on your UI), and apply the glyph from your list to the circle slots.

Note: I am aware that glyphs, even ones for basic abilities, can be very expensive on some servers. As you are leveling, it is not as big of deal as it might seem if you don’t have glyphs right away. If you are short on cash, perhaps buy or gather some herbs and parchment and find a helpful guildie or person on your server to make it for you. Otherwise, you can wait until later to try and buy the glyphs you need. Don’t fret if you don’t have the big money in-game just quite yet. Save it for things like a mount!

Leichi picks out some new gear.

I want this one!

Gear

Gear, especially from dungeons and their requisite quests are plentiful now. Slots you won’t really see gear for  yet is most head pieces or trinkets. If you are an alt with heirlooms, this is largely meaningless to you! Snagging a cheap Mage deck off the auction house will net you Darkmoon Necklace from the quest. Amulet of the Moon isn’t amazing but it is cheap to make if you are a Jewelcrafter or have a JCer friend and it has INT on it.  Reinforced Woolen Shoulders are good for low-level tailors, but if you are doing dungeons, decent shoulders don’t really show up until 30 or so outside of drops. Also absent are hats, rings and definitely trinkets.

Always prioritize for intellect if you can. If you get some gear that has spirit on it, don’t fret. While spirit does zippo for mages, if it also has intellect on it, it is an upgrade. As more gear becomes diversified for healers versus casters, it’ll be considered better if you let healers in your group roll over you on spirit items, but for now, anything that has more intellect should be something you pick. Intellect/stamina gear is fairly plentiful from quests, however. Secondary stats like haste are rarer at this level, even if you do dungeons. However, due to Blizzard re-itemizing a lot of  lower-level gear you should be seeing more gear with hit and crit. Now that you are actually receiving gear that may have those stats on it, why don’t we talk about why they are good for you.

Character sheet, looking at hit percentages.

Hit is easily the second stat behind Intellect, especially at later levels when you will be constantly fighting mobs that are higher level than you in dungeons. What hit does is determine how much you will miss hitting a mob with spells. The way this stat works, is that it scales down depending on the difference between  you and the mobs level. If you look at your character sheet, you will notice things like this: A baddie that is 3 levels higher than you or is “boss level” will require a lot more hit on your gear to cast spells at them reliably. I’m sure you’ve seen a spell miss before – if you run a combat text add-on or use the in-game scrolling combat text, you’ll sometimes see “MISS!” next to the spell icon. That means that math that goes on behind the scenes determined that your spell didn’t actually hit the mob in that encounter. Hit is not as crucial now if you’re questing or doing level-appropriate dungeons/PVP, as most of those mobs will be within 3 levels of you. But any little bit of hit you get on your gear is good and will continue to become more important as you get higher in levels. Crit (rating) is a little more important or less important depending on what spec you choose but for right now, all specs consider it a good thing to have.

Crit increases your chance that you will have a critical strike with your spells. If your spell hits for 300 damage baseline, a crit is that same spell hitting for some portion of its damage over what it already hits for. So you might crit for 700 on an enemy. Intellect already provides a boost to your crit, but straight critical rating on your gear also does as well. Remember that all these things are explained if you mouseover a stat on  your character sheet, take a look there sometime. Just remember to look under “General” “Attributes” or “Spell” like in the graphic, Ranged/Melee is for other classes that do Ranged attacks (with their weapons) or melee attacks. “Resistances” isn’t really important right now.

Helpful Tips:

  1. At level 30, you can pay for the ability to get a second specialization. This allows you to flip between two different specializations on your talents page. Doing this cannot be done in combat! Each spec gets its own set of talents, glyphs and spells.
  2. Glyphs only need to be learned once. You can swap talents as many times as needed. You do need Vanishing Powder to swap them, however.

Leichi hits level 30.

Leveling as a Mage – Levels 11-20

Leichi and her monk friend run across the Barrens.

It’s really unusual that, even without heirlooms, I can break 100 DPS no sweat. Back in my day, 300 DPS at level 60 was “doing really well.” Now that we’re actually starting to get into the meat of leveling, I figured that I ought to break up the guides into sections for ease-of-use. Hopefully you’ll find this a bit more useful if you just need help with one specific part of leveling in each block.

Spells

11 through 20 gives you another block of very important utility and resource skills that as a mage; spells you should become accustomed to using. At level 12, you get your second specialization-only spell (Arcane Barrage/Fireball/Frostbolt). Fireball and Frostbolt are your main “nuke” spells in that they are what you will be casting a good majority of the time. They are a decent chunk of your damage.

Arcane Barrage however is slightly different. Arcane Blast is the main nuke for Arcane spec, and Barrage is our secondary – how it works is that it clears all your current Arcane Charges, but each charge you have when you cast it increases the damage it does, as well as hit the same number of mobs in a small radius. So, for example, if you use Barrage when you have 4 charges, it will hit 4 targets around whatever you are casting at currently (if there are that many mobs) for 50 percent of the damage your Barrage hit for. It’s a very nice brainless way to do AOE damage at early levels.

Polymorph is level 14 and is your first real crowd control. While Polymorph does tend to vanish at the drop of a hat if someone even so much as LOOKS at your sheep, it is considered one of the more prized crowd control abilities in that is it easily renewable and has no cooldown. A good mage will master the art of keeping a focus target sheeped and being able to polymorph on the fly and I will give you a great macro for how to do that:

#showtooltip 
/stopcasting
/clearfocus [mod:shift]
/focus [@focus,noexists]
/cast [@focus,exists,harm] Polymorph

This macro does a couple of things right off the bat – first, it stops your cast (meaning you can sheep on the fly if need be), secondly, it sets a focus if one does not exist already, and it casts Polymorph. It is going to set whatever you’re targeting and sheeping as your focus, so keep in mind that if you need to swap your focus/sheep target, you press the macro while holding down your modifier key (in this case is SHIFT). If you want to change your modifier key (to say, ALT or CTRL), you merely change the [mod:shift] part.  I also like to use my macro as a nice “set a focus” button as if you are out of range or a mob cannot be sheeped, it will just simply focus the mob you are targeting, provided it is a harmful entity. If you want to eventually use other spells besides just the flat Polymorph spell (like Polymorph: Black Cat, Polymorph: Pig), you can simply change the last line to something like this:

/castrandom [@focus,exists,harm] Polymorph, Polymorph(Rabbit), Polymorph(Black Cat)

The only problem you might run into is if you have other spells that work on a focus – such as Counterspell (like in our last guide). What I’ve done is used modifers in all my macros for those spells so in the fairly rare case I need to counterspell a non-focused target, while having a focus target polymorphed, I can shift-Counterspell the non-focus target and still keep my focus target sheeped. Glyphing Polymorph lets you turn your boring old sheep into a penguin or monkey as well, or allows polymorph to remove damage-over-time spells on a mob (a must for dungeons.)

Level 16 isn’t a spell but rather a passive effect called Shatter. Shatter used to be a talent as part of the Frost talent tree but instead is now something all mages get by default. What it does is double the critical strike chance of all your spells against frozen targets. Now, what freezes targets? Frost Nova, Deep Freeze (basically any spells that root with an icy graphic) do this. This means even if you aren’t specifically a Frost Mage, Frost Nova is a useful utility for the root as well as the damage, especially if you are out questing by yourself. However, rooting mobs while doing a dungeon might not endear you well to tanks.

One of the key perks of being a mage comes at level 17: Teleport. This is a slide-out panel spell icon (see screenshot) that you can stick on your bars and clicking on it allows you to access every teleport spell you have learned. All mages get one “free” teleport to their home city (my pandaren mage got Orgrimmar) and to learn the rest of the cities for your faction, you will need to visit a Portal Trainer in any of the capital cities. You will learn at least one teleport spell per expansion, so keep visiting periodically to get new ones.

Finally at level 18, you learn Arcane Explosion. This is one of the only AOE spells you have this early. For Arcane mages, it has the additional benefit of generating Arcane Charges, meaning AOEing doesn’t damage your DPS as much. However, much like Frost Nova, this spell requires you to be in melee range of mobs to use it effectively. This can be particularly dangerous, so use with caution. Also, jumping while using this spell increases its damage.**

Talents

Blizzard revamped their talent system heavily – instead of there being clear “talent builds” that required many talent points and had a lot of bloat, there is now a very elegant 6 talent system. You are given 3 talents per “tier” and can only choose one of them. However, using reagents, you can swap them on the fly if you want. This means that as you change activities, say like dungeons or battlegrounds, you can swap talents around that fit your playstyle best. Your first talent choice comes at level 15, so let’s look at the “Casting while Moving” tier:

tier-1-talents

  • Presence of Mind - I chose this because I used to use it as a cooldown when I played Arcane in Firelands. I use it for my second-to-last Arcane Blast stack to build up my charges, or to cast Arcane Blast on the run.
  • Scorch - This is a short cast-time fire spell that can be used while moving. It is really good for activity that requires a lot of movement since you can keep Scorching as long as you want.
  • Ice Floes - This has similar feel to the other two talents. It allows you to cast it and then cast any two spells that have less than 4 second cast-time be cast on the move. You can use it even when you’re already casting something so this means you can use it whenever you want, especially if you weren’t expecting to have to move.

None of these are “tied” to a spec, like any of the other talents, and should be chosen for what works best. Experiment!

Leichi picks out some new gear.

I want this one!

Gear

Obviously this early on, gear will basically be whatever you pick up questing, in dungeons or off mobs. Always prioritize for intellect if you can. If you get some gear that has spirit on it, don’t fret. While spirit does nothing for mages, if it also has intellect on it, it is an upgrade. As more gear becomes diversified for healers versus casters, it’ll be considered better if you let healers in your group roll over you on spirit items, but for now, anything that has more intellect should be something you pick. Intellect and stamina gear is fairly plentiful from quests, however. Secondary stats like haste, crit or hit is very rare at this level, even if you do dungeons. Slots you won’t really see gear for  yet is shoulders (besides some white or grey ones), necklaces, head pieces, or trinkets. If you are an alt with heirlooms, this is largely meaningless to you!

At level 20, you get a class quest (Horde/Alliance) that takes you to Shadowfang Keep and gets you an awesome staff. Do this if you can!

Helpful Tips:

  1. If you want to swap any of your talents, make sure you have Vanishing Powder (this will change at later levels.) You can buy Vanishing Powder from most reagent vendors!
  2. At level 15, you can now use the Looking for Group tool to queue up for a specific or random dungeon that is appropriate for your level.
  3. Past level 15, your accelerated mana and health regeneration is turned off, so you will have to start paying attention to your HP and mana pool!

Leichi drives through Orgrimmar on her goblin trike.

**Arcane explosion used to do damage to any mobs in the radius of the spell but would “drift” if the mage moved locations rapidly, hence jumping would increase the range your Arcane Explosion would hit in. They fixed this a long time ago, but it is still fun to jump.

Leveling as a Mage – Levels 1-10

A pandaren lady mage stands under a canopy of leaves.

Meet my mage, Leichi!

You created a mage! Congratulations! What do you do now?

Starting a mage from scratch, especially when you may have not played a caster before, can be a little confusing. Hopefully this series of guides will help you understand mages a little better as you are leveling them. It is pretty fast work these days to get a character to 90, so I don’t need to tell you necessarily where to go, but giving you some pointers on talents and spell choices, plus some mage tips might turn you into better “career” mages and make the leveling experience more fun.

When I roll a new character, what I like to do before literally anything else is make sure my bars are set up. Put any guild perks (if you are in a guild) or racial skills (like Will of the Forsaken or Every Man for Himself) on your bars. I’ll talk about keybinding a little later but for right now, put these out on your bars or hidden somewhere if you use them regularly.

Blizzard’s done a really good job of trying to prepare mages early on with learning the sights and sounds of their class – this includes giving you a mixture of spells to use early on.  Your very first spell at level 1 is Frostfire Bolt. This is a really interesting choice as that spell is only used by frost mages later on in the leveling. But is nice for practicing using a primary “nuke” (longer cast filler spell that will be your bread and butter) and it comes with a slow built in, which is nice.

Having the choice of keeping a mob crawling along after me makes it easier to keep them away. I can also pull more than one mob at a time if I don’t feel I’m going to get overrun. A really good set of skills to start practicing now, little mages, is how to cast while just barely facing a mob. It is an essential ingredient of kiting later on. You turn yourself sideways, just enough that you still have facing on whatever you are targeting and can shoot a spell. Then continue running, using instant cast spells (like Fire Blast at level 5) and Frostbolt again when you’re a safe distance. Immediately after getting starting, you get Frost Nova (level 3).  Your first snare! Huzzah. This makes kiting easier and will also help with AOE-mob-grinding at higher levels if you choose to go frost.

At very low levels, you are just a glorified bag of meat that shoots magic out of your hands occasionally. I didn’t die too many times while starting out, but the possibility of being overwhelmed by more than one mob when you’re questing will ultimately kill you. This is why having a snare and a slow right away is useful. But it all changes at level 7 when you get your first utility spell:  Blink. This is easily your best way to escape a bad situation. Pull too many mobs? Frost Nova them and Blink away to safety!  It can also be used to save you from an accidental fall if you choose to use it right before you make a mage-shaped crater into the ground.

The first ten levels gets rounded off by Counterspell at 8. This interrupts spellcasts from monsters or other players. This is such a marked difference over leveling back in vanilla. You had no way to interrupt caster mobs (which there were many) early on in the game.  You just had to hope you could survive. Giving casters tools like snares and interrupts this early makes the game a lot more fun.

Learning how to interrupt on a dime is crucial! Sometimes you will have to stop DPS immediately and interrupt something in dungeons and raids. It does lower your DPS if you have a tendency to “hammer” an interrupt like I do, but hopefully you’ll get used to it and have it as a reflex. Mages who can successfully interrupt make more money, lead better lives and have more friends (maybe.)

This macro allows you to Counterspell a mob even if you have something focused, or only Counterspell your focus target. This is handy when you can Polymorph:

#showtooltip
/stopcasting
/cast [@target,mod:alt] Counterspell
/cast [@focus,exists,harm] Counterspell; Counterspell

When you hit level 10, you gain the ability to pick a “specialization.” This is basically what kind of mage you will be – you have access now to spells only your kind of mage can use. I picked Arcane Specialization. You can go to the specialization page (default to access this is “N”) and see what spells you will be learning or what will be changing:

Specialization panel in game.

I immediately learned Arcane Blast; fire mages will be learning Pyroblast, and frost mages can summon their Water Elemental pet.  For fire mages specifically, your Fire Blast is now a spell called Inferno Blast and you learn it at level 24.

Helpful Tips:

  1. If you are unsure about what your spells are used for, check your “Core Abilities” tab in your spellbook, they give advice on when to use a spell.
  2. Spells are now instantly learned, so when you hit a new level, just open up your spellbook and drag it onto your bars.
  3. If you don’t like your Specialization, you can change it at any time with a mage trainer.
  4. Mages have changed a little bit since Mists of Pandaria – we can now use wands as main-hands, some talents have become specialization spells, and Arcane specialization uses “charges” now as a resource.
  5. Don’t get frustrated if you die a lot in the beginning, trying new things is what makes you better!
  6. At level 10, you can now queue for battlegrounds.

Leichi cheers at dinging level 10.

Patch 5.0.4 – Apple Cider’s Setup

Cynwise had a really useful post this week regarding warlock’s keybinds and the patch. In short, he basically advised to “trash it” – remove everything off your bars and start from scratch. I found the advice, while directed at warlocks (*nose scrunch*) to be really useful for mages as well. There really isn’t a DPS player that couldn’t stand to benefit from patch-related Spring cleaning when it comes to your UI. A lot of add-ons are outdated and broken, so it might be a good time for everyone to start everything from scratch.

I decided for the benefit of other mages reading my blog, to give a peek behind the curtain as to what my set up is now that the patch has hit.

Apple Cider's UI

You can click on this for a full-sized image of my screen.

User Interface/Add-ons

A lot of my add-on dependency was broken after I started using a UI package. Prior to picking up ElvUI (back when it was a fork of TukUI in Wrath), I had used a lot of cosmetic mods to do roughly the same things that ElvUI did all at once. I stopped needing tons of mods for every part of my UI and just could snap everything to fit. My add-on list went from 60 mods to about 20 or less.  I know that ElvUI isn’t the choice of many people, but I have really liked how easy it is to use and the GUI has come a long way in being more friendly to first-time users. As someone who is used to configuring everything via /command, it’s been nice to see it evolve into something usable out of the box but with a high amount of customization.

As you can see, I run a fairly “standard” looking UI and like having tons of screen real estate. I like having all my information down and center. My right side action bar is typically mouseover, and my other bars are hidden via  mouse-scroll under my main number bar. My DBM timers sit in that space right of my timers/SCT, and then float underneath to right above my DoT timers. The box to the left of my player frame is CombustionHelper. My Skada DPS panel is hidden in combat.

Here is a list of all the add-ons I  use:

UI

Combat

Quality of Life

Extracurriculars

That is everything! It’s nice to keep a short list as patches usually break everything.

Keybinds

Cynwise had the right idea about getting rid of everything. I had a lot more space once I did that as a lot of our spells went missing.

Keybinds are somewhat of a herky-jerky exercise for me as I am a lady with very small hands and a normal-sized keyboard. Therefore, I tend to lean a bit more on mouse keybinds (via a Razer Naga) or single-keypress keybinds as combination binds often are too hard for me to reach or are uncomfortable.

Success with keybinds comes from answering these questions:

  • Can I actually reach these buttons? (If you can’t, you’re not going to use them, negating their usefulness)
  • Is this keybind comfortable? (If it isn’t, you might be hurting yourself in the process)
  • Is this something I need to use enough that it requires a keybind?
  • Can I macro more than one spell to this keybind and save my real estate? (If you can, do it! Very useful for classes like warlocks.)

We as mages thankfully do not have tons of spells for situational use so our woes are often not as problematic as other classes. I think I can be honest here – I have some abilities that I click. There’s just no good way for me to keybind these things without running out of keyboard/mouse options and they are not things I use often enough or on the fly (I don’t PVP on my mage) enough that it necessitates a bind. I know some people will flame me for that, but I am just not someone who has the hardware or hands for all the keybinds. People (often who have bigger hands) forget that some of us cannot use tons of SHIFT/ALT/CTRL modifiers for all of our abilities. If you use what it is comfortable to you to be repeatedly used, then you’ll be alright.

There are some things you absolutely should keybind – survival/defensive cooldowns, main nukes and hair-trigger utility spells. Everything else is negotiable.

My keybinds:

Number Row

  • 1 Dragon’s Breath*
  • 2 Fireball
  • 3 Living Bomb*
  • 4 Inferno Blast*
  • 5 Scorch
  • 6 Pyroblast
  • 7 Frost Nova
  • 8 Flamestrike
  • 9 Blizzard
  • ALT+1 **
  • ALT +2 **

Alphabet

  • Q  Counterspell*
  • W  Forward
  • E   Iceblock*
  • Y  Deep Freeze (This used to be Mana Shield)
  • I   Blink
  • A  Turn Left***
  • S  Backwards
  • D  Turn Right***
  • G  Spell Steal
  • X  Sit
  • ,  Remove UI (Ha!)

Mouse 

Note: My Naga buttons duplicate the NUMPAD basically.

  • M1  Push to Talk
  • M2  Temporal Shield (Used to be Mage Ward)
  • MMouse Click  Auto-run
  • END  Combustion
  • DOWN  Mirror Image
  • PD  Lifeblood
  • LEFT  Alter Time
  • Hm  Time Warp*
  • RIGHT  Potion/Trinket
  • PAGEUP  Trinket
  • N+  Ring of Frost
Not Bound
  • Polymorph*
  • Invisibility
  • Mana Gem (Not for Fire Spec)
  • Evocation
  • Escape Artist
  • Health Rock/Bandages/Food
  • Escape Artist

* = Macro
** = Keybinds I use on other characters that I haven’t found a use for on my mage
*** = I don’t have Strafing bound, I use mouse turning and directional key binds to steer. 

Insane in the Membrane: PART TWO

Epithet the rogue climbs through Lower Blackrock Depths looking for marks.

Insane in the Membrane: PART ONE

Welcome to Part 2 of my lengthy saga of how I acquired the “Insane in the Membrane” feat of strength, wherein we make billions of cards and stab a whole ton of orcs. Where we last left off, it was the day of the Cataclysm pre-patch, wherein we met the dragon what come and blew fire and things. I had finished up both my Shen’dralar and Goblin rep that day, and now it was time to finish up the last two reputations. I was not expecting it to take another year and a half.

Darkmoon Faire: 5,200 Card Pick-Up

The Faire was a lot harder of a reputation to grind out before Blizzard gave it the revamp. Anyone looking to rep up with this group only had a handful of profession quests (which capped out at Friendly) and turning in decks. There wasn’t really much to do at the Faire other than buy some materials off vendors, eat some food and turn in decks for trinkets that didn’t start becoming really good until Burning Crusade. Similarly, this is most of what we did in order to get to exalted – turning in thousands of card decks. Both Myth and I took the recommended action of leveling up scribes for this reputation, as it would have cost us thousands more in cards if we had not. The reason that people did this as you literally would spend hours farming herbs, milling them, and turning them into cards and this was considered the easiest way to the end. Working on Darkmoon Faire was by far the most RNG-filled out of any of the Insane grinds. Myth and I had two scribes working on this, as well as a shared bank guild. This is due to the fact that all the decks had between 3-9 cards (particularly the trinket decks) and you were never guaranteed to make the ones you needed, so you were always scanning the Auction House for the cards you needed cheaply. I let my more anal-retentive personality characteristics run free here, because organization was key here. There’s no way you would make it through this part of Insane without literally going insane if you didn’t really get your shit together. (I also had considerable help from add-ons such as Altoholic, Postal and Auctionator.)

It’s no surprise that Myth and I shared a Google Wave (remember that?) full of materials we needed for every rep and where we were at in all of the reputations.

When <Sweet Cuppin Cakes> was started, I took over two tabs of our bank guild in order to order all of the decks and cards we had in individual rows, in numerical order so that it would be easy for me to see what cards we had duplicates of, which ones we were missing, and then turning all completed card sets into decks. There was also the matter of holding onto all these decks until the Faire came around that month. We’d race to the grounds and turn them in the first day, then attempt to sell off the trinkets to recoup money. There was also much spamming of Trade Chat to have people let us turn in their trinket decks for them just for the rep. This would have been easier if we were on a more populated server that wasn’t already overrun with Insane-grinders, I believe.

For a while, this was my daily routine:

  • Bank alt goes to AH, prices out and finds cheap materials for six different kinds of Darkmoon Cards via material shopping lists I built into Auctionator.
  • Buy out herbs and inks as cheaply and in gross as possible (using AH pricing data), including many stacks of herbs that had no business being sold that low.
  • Check bank guild for missing numbered cards.
  • Check AH for said card shopping list using Auctionator.
  • Buy any cards listed reasonably (although near to the end, the yardstick for “reasonable” started moving quite far) as well as cards on shopping list. Duplicates bought cheaply would be put towards future decks.
  • Empty mailbox of herbs, primals, inks and cards. Mail materials to scribe. Take cards to bank.
  • Order cards in bank using set/numerical layout. Turn any finished sets into decks. Set decks aside.
  • Clear out glut of decks and mail even number to Myth and my main.
  • Hop onto scribe and mill all herbs.
  • Turn herbs into ink.
  • Take inks and primals and make as many cards as possible.
  • Mail cards to bank alt.
  • Arrange cards into various slots in the bank guild.
  • Dynamically update card list.
  • Do this several times a day.

I am not exaggerating in the slightest when I say that I spent a lot of time and money on this particular part of our grind. The fact that anyone can achieve exalted reputation with Darkmoon Faire via dailies now is mind-blowing. I sunk in excess of 20,000 actual gold and countless more in gold-hours from farming, buying, and putting everything together. Near the end I was spending thousands a day and kept myself financially afloat by some of the other financial ventures I was into like soloing and making money via raiding. (Did I mention that I was still a progression raider throughout this grind?) But honestly, it was fun. It was fun trying to watch for deals and shop very smartly. This was the reputation that Myth and I spent the most time helping each other out with since we had gotten into this mess together.

Ravenholdt

This was the final showdown and ultimately where I proved that I didn’t quite have the fortitude to finish as quickly as Myth did. While she crossed the finish line last year in September, I dawdled around until April. A lot of it had to do with the fact that Myth had already a rogue, but even when I had finished up leveling a rogue for just this purpose, I had so much more work to do. One of the ways to save a lot of time turning in lockboxes as simply grinding out Ravenholdt rep by killing swaths of Syndicate mobs in Alterac Mountains, Hillsbrad and Arathi Highlands. What she had done was do loops around Hillsbrad at the Lordamere Internment Camp killing the Syndicate there, but by the time I was ready to that, Cataclysm had hit and those mobs were gone. I did, however, find an alternate solution in Arathi – do loops around Northfold Manor and Stromgarde Keep. My rep sat between Honored and Revered for a very long time. I didn’t want to grind lockboxes, I didn’t want to pick off mobs for 5.5 rep a piece.

So I didn’t.

Sure, I kept planning to. But other things came first or go in the way. I’d half-heartedly say that I’d do it but tab out of WoW and go AFK in Stormwind. All those things I would sit around talking in guild chat could have been times I was killing mobs. Eventually I did though and hit 11999/12000 Revered. Then I knew it was time for the hardest part: pickpocketing lockboxes. You don’t necessarily have to do it all yourself but if you want any control over the speed/process, you’ll want to. A lot of people buy lockboxes in bulk and if this were a bigger server, I might have been able to con a rogue into doing it for me. But given that I had wasted all the time leveling up a rogue to do it, I conscripted a couple guildies to help me for the last bit on their rogues (for some cool money) and did some of the grunt work myself. The two best places to do this are the Blackrock Stronghold (with the packs of quest mobs lined up) and LBRS. I chose mostly Blackrock Spire as it was an instance and I wouldn’t run into other rogues hoping to farm lockboxes as well. However, my farming fatigue is super high, especially after having done that marathon stretch in Dire Maul. Still, I plow through a couple days worth of loops around LBRS, watching Adventure Time episodes as I go. I have an amazing system down even: clear through the end of the instance, drop down one level from the end and re-pickpocket back to the beginning, reset the instance, and mail off 75 lockboxes when my bags get full.

Within a couple days of guildie help (thank you to Relkir, Myth, and especially Trangie!), I reach my goal and become Apple Cider the Insane.

The Insane

This was a test of my dedication towards achievements. What really made this fun though was the fact that I had a friend. Doing something this dramatic with someone I enjoy being around made the more lonely parts enjoyable. Is this a metaphor for life in general? I think it could be taken as such.

Over the past 2 years or so, I’ve definitely burned out a lot of my capacity to sit and camp things, farm stuff up. It was a huge goal of mine on my “WoW bucket list” to complete this though, so I feel accomplished in that regard. Other people have done this with more brevity than I, but I don’t care. I got it when it was still “hard” and that’s good enough for me. I would never do this again, though. And I doubt that Blizzard is going to ever have a Feat of Strength like this again. They are moving towards a model of game that doesn’t require lengths this profoundly complicated to go through and most of the reputation changes have indicated this. All of the reputations now only require kill grinding or turn-ins or even dailies. While there might be another carrot dangled in front of us achievement crazies, I doubt it will ever be as sweet as this one.

However, you bet your sweet bippy I’ll be finding all 10,000 waterfalls in Mists.

 

Internet Harassment And You – A Guide

I’ve written this guide before in various places, but it bore reposting here. It’s mostly WoW-specific, since most of us play WoW, but if people have specific questions regarding non-WoW harassment, you can contact me directly.

I am here to discuss with you why harassment is never right, what you can do to help yourself, and with some additional, new information on writing tickets to get max benefit from GMs in-game.

What Is Harassment?
I know it is hard to think of just someone random saying or doing something stupid to you as harassment, but if it makes you uncomfortable, it is absolutely harassment. Sometimes harassment is isolated; sometimes it is on-going and continuous. Sometimes it is someone you know. A lot of times it isn’t. Maybe it is a former guildmate, a PVP buddy or a random level 1. Someone from your current raid team. Recent/former significant other. It can be anyone, it isn’t just people you don’t know. A lot of times it is people you know, and maybe even trust.

Here is how Blizzard defines it: Blizzard’s Harassment Policy.
Notice how not all things that are defined as “harassment” are spoken – a lot of them have to do with spamming, zone disruption and things like that. Those absolutely should be reported as well, but I am going to focus on the more personally scary/harmful portions of harassment. These are things that focus on making you feel upset/uncomfortable – sexually explicit messages, vulgarity, calling you explicit names or making fun of some essential part of your real life character (race, religion, orientation, gender, etc.)

Besides just being harmful in speaking to you, harassment can also occur if someone is trying to impersonate you for the purposes of defaming you or tricking people into thinking it is you. (Like rolling an alt with the exact same spelling of your name and trolling Trade Chat.) Harassment also incurs a harsher penalty if it is done in a public channel such as Local Defense, General, Trade or Looking For Group.

What Do I Do About It?
This is the real crux of the process.

First off, always take it seriously.
If it isn’t clear to you what is going on, ask for clarification. But in most times, it is fairly clear that this is a serious attempt to make you upset and should be treated as such. I know we get a lot of confusing messages as women (and even as men) that we are supposed to take this “with a straight face” or that they are “just words on the internet” but I assure you that if they make you upset, you have the right to be upset and do something about it. So always take it seriously.

Tell the person(s) that this is unwanted, very clearly, and ignore them.
The only communication (which I’ll touch on in a bit) you should have with someone who does this or says something gross or rude is to tell them that this is unwanted, tell them NO! and to stop. And then put them on ignore. That is the only interaction you should have with them if they are harassing you. I know it is super-tempting to fight back, to troll them, show you’re not upset, but it is not helpful when it comes to eventually ticketing to GMs. Be short, clear and put them on ignore immediately. If they are someone you know – take them off your friends list, take them off RealID, and if it is someone in  your guild or raid, alert a trusted officer immediately that this is what you did and why if it will cause problems for having someone on ignore.

Examples for telling someone that this is unwanted:
That message was rude and I would like you to stop. Do not contact me again.
This conversation is inappropriate and is not to continue. Please do not contact me further.

– then ignore. –

Putting the person on ignore is pretty much what I’ve gotten boilerplate from any GM I’ve spoken to in-game, and it is very solid advice. Why is this? Because putting someone on ignore who goes around to circumvent it (escalating the abuse) on a level 1 or another alt only incurs a lot more punishment. It also shows that you made every good faith attempt to resolve the situation yourself (in a very neutral way) and it didn’t work. If harassment stops here, great! A lot of times it doesn’t, however.

Document, Document, Document!
Even if something is a one-off attempt to harass you, always document it. Document every single time harassment occurs to you. Enable chat timestamps in-game or use a chat mod (ChatterWIM are two popular ones, especially for tracking whispers) with time-stamps and the ability to read whispers or other channel messages clearly.

My personal favorite is that I create a chat window specifically for whispers – Go to your general chat tab, go to “Create New Window” and label it “Whispers” and then when it is created, go to the tab > Settings, and only check off “Whispers” and “RealID” whispers. This makes is easy to isolate whispers and realID messages.

It is very, very important when it comes to reporting harassment that you have documentation for every single time it happens if only because knowing who said what, when and where can be crucial in creating a case for someone. Take screenshots for your own records if you have trouble remembering things or if you do not have time to sit down and write a ticket immediately. While GMs do not usually accept screen-shots, it is good to keep it in case this goes outside of WoW as well.
Chat mods are also really helpful in that they allow you to copy-paste any chat text (even channels like Trade) into a ticket.

Reporting and Ticketing a GM
This is where it gets a little confusing and scary! Ticketing a GM is hard sometimes because it feels very serious and what if nothing happens? Trust me, things will happen. But making a GMs job easier will make the process even smoother. Some key things to remember here in terms of what to actually SAY will be easier if you remembered to document.

Ticket harassment every single time it occursEvery single timeAs soon as you possibly can. Lumping up a bunch of incidents or waiting may seem like a good idea to “prove” that someone has been a big deal but GMs have their own way of tracking this. So making tickets clear and precise about every single incident makes their job easier. Reporting it often and early makes it easier to track.

ALWAYS INCLUDE: Character name, time and date. If you can’t ticket when the harassment immediately occurs (which makes finding what was said easier for GMs) including these things makes it easier to track and find. These are the most essential pieces of information for a GM ticket and almost everything else is not important. Only other pieces of information that you should possibly include other GMs you have spoke to (if this is continuous), if this message was spoken in whispers or a channel/guild, and that you put the person on ignore. If this is on-going, clearly state that this is on-going harassment.

That’s it. Don’t include what you were doing, or any extraneous information. This just makes it harder to figure out what was going on.

Example tickets:
I received a harassing whisper from Bloobloo (Cenarius-PVE) at 4:50 AM, on 7/26/2011. This person has contacted me before. I have put them on ignore but they rolled a level 1 alt. I spoke to GM Stradavarius prior about this. This is on-going harassment.

Dumbdumb (Saurfang-PVP) was trying to impersonate me in Trade Chat, using sexually explicit language at 3:45 PM, on July 27th, 2011. I have put them on ignore.

Since the last time I wrote a harassment guide, Battle.net now has the feature to include any and all tickets you file under your Battle.net account (which is why is a good idea to report harassment from the same battle.net account if you happen to have more than one) so that you can see what you said, when you said it, who answered it and what they said. It also means you can screenshot your page in case you need to take this outside of WoW.

It looks like this: http://i.imgur.com/EYcyW.jpg
Notice that there is a spot for images, so if you would like to attach a screenshot, I suppose that is where you would do it.

To find your tickets on your Battle.net page – log into your B.net account, go to the Support Tab, and then Tickets. It has all of them listed there.

After you have reported (and every time you have reported something), you will have that ticket show up there as well as receive an e-mail saying the same thing.

What happens if you get a boilerplate auto-message from a GM regarding harassment or a auto-response that doesn’t seem to apply? It could be that your ticket wasn’t clear on it being harassment. Re-ticket. Keep ticketing until you talk to a GM. This is important. You are important. However, writing clear tickets is a good way to get a good, fast GM reponse.

What happens now?
Well, hopefully it stops. GMs can’t tell you what happens, obviously, but know that you reporting makes it more likely that these dumbheads get caught or punished. It is likely that you are not the only person they feel like targeting if they are repeat offenders and it will catch up to them. But continue putting people on ignore, ticketing and remaining calm.

If this moves into non-WoW related harassment, knowing the statutes regarding harassment in your state or the states involved is good. Getting in touch with the police to report the harassment and reminding them of these statutes, also good. But be aware that a lot of people still don’t understand how internet harassment affects you. It was my own personal experience that the police sometimes don’t take you seriously unless the person is up on your doorstep with a knife. However, reminding them that you use the computer every day means that this person IS on your figurative “doorstep” when they actively comment on the things you do. Keep trying and don’t give up. Getting a police report down is a really good step if you have to move forward into legal action or restraining orders. If the person goes on to post your full legal name, your address, your Social Security number or other legally identifying information about you, as well as concretely stating they are going to do something to you, this is a THREAT and needs to be reported immediately to the police. 

Some Helpful Things to Remember:

1.) Always take it seriously. 
Like I said before, I know it’s our “assumed” place as women to just brush things off, to not get emotional about it. It’s your life and you don’t deserve it. You are an important, worthwhile person. Whether it’s whispers or trade chat or things people say in cross-server PUGs, always take it seriously. People who try to hurt you with words are in the wrong.

2.) It’s not your fault.
Harassment/abuse is not your fault. I know it is easy to blame yourself, that maybe if you had done things differently, you wouldn’t be in this situation. But it is not your fault someone responded to whatever happened in an inappropriate, gross way. Ever. No matter what you said, or did, or thought you did. A lot of times people will harass you for no other reason than being there at the wrong time, or the wrong sort of person to them. There’s nothing you can do to make yourself less or more of a victim, and don’t listen to people who say that you can. Being a victim is because someone wants to hurt you and that’s wrong. It is always their fault for harassing you. It isn’t just words, it isn’t just “lol internet” and if it affects you, then that’s all that matters. And you can always DO something about it, but don’t feel guilty if you’re scared or terrified. They intend to scare you. That’s what they want. It is very brave to report them, and that’s awesome. *hugs*

3.) Support Structure
Telling other people might seem antithetical but I have to personally say having a strong friendship network is a way to escape the misery from someone invading your life, especially if this is someone you are close to or personally know. A lot of times, people try to shame you into being quiet, hurt, and having friends have your back can do wonders. Having someone to just listen to you vent can make the process easier. And always know that a lot of us in the WoW community are open to listening and supporting you too. You’re never alone. There’s always trusted officers in your guild, GMs, your friends, your family, your pets and the police. Have faith. This won’t go on forever. Trust me.

If anyone ever, ever wants to contact me privately regarding this post or about WoW harassment, I can be contacted.

What if someone I know is being harassed?

Let them know that you are there for them. Be a supportive friend – whether that means listening to them be upset or leaving them alone, as the case may be. Gently remind them that reporting is useful, but don’t be forceful about it. Taking the step to report something is on the shoulders of the person being harassed and can be really scary/upsetting. Feeling pressured from friends can feel stressful.  However, if this is something you see publicly in guild chat or a public channel, absolutely ticket! A lot of things go on publically

Harassment and Victim Blaming:

It is unfortunate that we have to write these sorts of posts. It is unfortunate that people have to go through this. It is doubly unfortunate, as evidenced by comments I’ve seen at WoW Insider, wow_ladies, that people still like blaming a harassment victim. No one deserves this abuse from people. Blaming a harassment victim is disgusting and wrong. There’s often a lot more at play than just “putting someone on ignore” or “stop letting someone’s words affect you” or that “it’s just a game.” It isn’t just a game. It is people saying very real, hurtful things to another person. It is using someone’s emotions and experiences against them, and over what? Something they said in-game? A real or imagined slight? A fight? Just because they are gay/woman/person with disabilities/a certain race? It’s NEVER okay. Never, ever, ever!

If you think that harassing someone in-game is a good way of “getting back at them” – just stop. It’s not. Grow up and find a productive outlet for your anger. And it can often have very real legal consequences if you take it too far.

If someone tells you to stop talking to them, respect them.

Harassment will not end until the end of human malice, unfortunately. What we can do is educate ourselves, support our fellow peers and practice safe and respectful Internet behavior – respecting people’s privacy and autonomy, assisting our friends and supporting them, and knowing that there’s help if we need it.

Thanks and have a great day in World of Warcraft, ladies (and lurking gents.)

Helpful Links:

WoW Insider – (Lawbringer) Internet Harassment and You

How to Report Cybercrime

Cyberstalking and Online Harassment

Cyberstalking, Cyberbullying and Cyberharassment Laws in Every State

 

Leveling Through Misandry – Levels 70 to 80

Misandry frostbolts a vengeful spirit in Howling Fjord. Levels 1-10
Levels 11-20
Levels 20-30
Levels 30-40
Levels 40-50
Levels 50-60
Levels 60-70

Northrend, land of eternal aurora borealis, long quest chains and brown quest gear. You’re getting really close to the finish line, you have just this last chunk togo before you hit Cataclysm content. Too bad this will feel like the longest 10 levels of your entire mage career. Maybe it is because Misandry will be my 6th 85.

Spells

Like I said in the 60-70 most of your spells have been learned by this point and between now and 85, you will be getting a couple additional high-level spells. Any other spells you get will be for travel only. At level 71 you can pick up the quest Attunement to Dalaran (Alliance/Horde) and complete it for Teleport: Dalaran. In this vein, you learn Portal: Dalaran at level 74. Mages being the superior class was a lot more evident in Wrath, when we were the only ones with access to our class trainer (as well as portal trainer) in Dalaran as well as access to the city before anyone else could get there.

Ritual of Refreshment comes in at level 76, which means you are now the party caterer. This spell takes Arcane Powder, so make sure to pick some up at the reagent vendor, along with your portal and teleport runes. You kids don’t know how easy you have it – back in my day we had to conjure all our edibles by hand for raids and parties. And they didn’t even conjure at stacks of 20! They only stacked to 5! Imagine emptying out your bags before a raid making a stacks upon stacks of cinnamon buns.

Finally rounding out the level block is Invisibility and Mastery. Invisibility is a 3 second “wind-down” spell that reduces your aggro and then finally drops you out of combat when you pop out of this phase of reality. You remain invisible for 20 seconds to enemy mobs and players, giving you the ability to move around (while still seeing them). This spell has several uses: you can use it as a temporary aggro drop, even if you don’t go invisible, you can go invisible to get around extra mobs or stealth past players, and you can use it to get out of a dangerous combat situation if you feel overwhelmed or there is an impending wipe. Damage doesn’t break the aggro reduction or the backwards cooldown (it used to) but certain boss debuffs and AOE damage can still “pop” you out of being invisible. Also any mobs that can see through Stealth will also be able to see you while Invisible. Use this spell often around tanks that aren’t holding aggro off you well or if you want to solo dungeons. I feel like mages get this spell way too late in the game, but given how powerful it is with regards to aggro and stealth, I can see why. Mastery is a spell you get, but it is a passive – it grants you the Mastery stat as well as benefit from Mastery on gear. Mastery is the stat that is talent spec-specific and grants you additional benefits to the spells you cast. However, whether or not mastery is useful for your spec varies. For a longer discussion, see the “Gear” portion of this guide.

Talents

The end is almost in sight, especially for your talent points. All specs at this point will be concluding most of their major point spends in their main talent tree and can begin branching off into the talent points in the other two specs.  Keep in mind that your specs will change slightly when you hit 85.

For frost, you are going to skip putting points in Frostfire Orb for now (as you do not get Flame Orb until level 81) and put your requisite 5 points for this level bracket into Master of Elements and Burning Soul in the fire tree. Master of Elements is a secondary source of mana regen for frost mages (primary being Replenishment from Enduring Winter); it synergizes very well with Frost’s natural crit. Burning Soul gives additional pushback resistance, meaning your casts aren’t slowed as much when taking any damage.  (0/5/31)

Fire is going to go back and pick up some needed talents for the end-game with four of the points you have: Pyromaniac and Cauterize. I didn’t suggest Cauterize earlier because it is a tricky talent for newer mages to get around. What Cauterize does is that if something would have outright killed you (a boss mechanic or just an accident), it saves you, but at the expense of burning you with fire damage. The fire damage can be mitigated with Mage Ward or Ice Block-ed off completely, but if you do not do either of these things, you will watch your small amount of health tick right away and you’ll die again. Pyromaniac is a straight forward talent that gives you a haste boost if your DoTs are ticking on more than 3 targets. This indicates DoTs spread to mobs via Impact rather than hard-casting Living Bomb on 3 targets. Last talent point will go into Piercing Ice in the frost tree, a flat crit boost for your spells. (0/35/1)

Arcane (33/3/0) will be filling out Torment the Weak and then picking up the beginning of some talents in the Fire tree, much like Frost: 2 points into Master of Elements and 1 point into Burning Soul.

Glyphs

If you were paying attention to the links I posted for talents, you’d notice that I included what glyph choices you should be making now that you unlocked an extra set of glyphs at level 75. As always, my patterns for picking out glyphs for your Prime, Major and Minor slots tend to work thusly – Prime glyph should now boost your third-most powerful spell, Major should enhance your third-most useful utility or damage spell, and Minor should be for fun or extra usefulness.

Prime

  • Glyph of Deep Freeze (Frost) – Additional damage for your Deep Freeze spell. A must.
  • Glyph of Living Bomb (Fire) – Additional damage for your Living Bomb spell, now that you have it. Very crucial.
  • Glyph of Mage Armor (Arcane) – This causes your mage armor to regen more mana. This is a large part of your DPS as Arcane.

Major

  • Glyph of Polymorph or Blink (Frost) – Good glyphs for dungeons. Polymorph is a lot more useful if you are not going to raid.
  • Glyph of Blink (Fire) – Good for dungeons or raiding.
  • Glyph of Arcane Power – Reducing the GCD on Mirror Image will factor into your ability to blow through cooldowns as arcane.

Minor

  • Glyph of Conjuring (All) – This benefits every spec but mostly Arcane because you’ll be conjuring mana gems on a more frequent basis, sometimes mid-fight. If you don’t have Presence of Mind up to make one instant, that is.
  • You can also glyph for either of the vanity polymorphs or armors if you do a lot of soloing.

Gear

Northrend content isn’t as bad as Burning Crusade when it comes to gear. Long quest chains award you nice blues, and there’s also the chance at rares scattered around the world that drop nice randomized gear as well. Haste and crit come back into the fold, even if a lot of your cloth gear is STILL going to include spirit. Don’t feel ashamed if most of your major upgrades out of BC gear has spirit on it still.

However, when you hit 80, as I mentioned before, you’ll be getting a stat called mastery. This stat is only present on Cataclysm gear. What mastery does is it enhances the passive stat that gives you bonuses specific to your talent tree – hence why you have to “lock” into a talent tree from level 1. Let’s look at what these specific bonuses are:

All of them seem pretty good right and benefit the spec the way it is played. However, Arcane is the only spec that really benefits from mastery to a degree that you should gear for it. Frost benefits largely from crit after you cap your hit, and Fire it is haste. I wonder why this is, to be honest. I suspect at one point, the intent for mastery was that it was a stat you wanted in half-measures on all your gear, but with the predominance of reforging, gemming and min-maxing, there just came the acknowledgement that mastery is going to fall far behind in terms of pure DPS for every spec BUT Arcane. It’s not terrible to have on your gear as Fire or Frost, but gemming or reforging for it is not suggested.

Misandry cheers at hitting level 80.