Thursday, July 24, 2008

What you (don't) need to know about mages

It’s time for another shared topic from Blog Azeroth, the wonderful source of inspiration and comfort and information for all WoW bloggers out there, this time suggested by Flux.

The heading for the week made me sigh a little bit though, I must admit. I can’t help I feel that I’ve seen articles on this subject a little too many times to get that kick of curiosity from it. Most of them seem to be written in an ambition to educate stupid, ignorant players, trying to make them treat you better, to behave. You can sort of feel the anger, frustration or at least the tiredness between the lines.

When it comes to mages the posts usually bring up things like:

  • sheeping (don’t dot them, if you spank them – tank them)
  • drinking (don’t rush off to the next pull, let us gain some mana first or we won’t be able to do our job)
  • portals (no, we can’t make any portal at once, so don’t ask for a portal to Shatt from a level 20 mage. And they’re NOT for free, we pay for the runes ourselves and the training’s pretty expensive, so a little bit of tipping would be appreciated)
  • food (making manna bisquets actually cost us some mats that we need to carry around, it’s got a cd and you need people to help you. Bread and water cost too – they cost TIME and mages really want to play the game just like everyone else, we don’t play it in order to become vendor machines)

Etc. You know the drill.

But let’s turn the perspective for once. Is it necessary always, in every single situation, better if everybody knows the basics about every class?

In a raiding situation the answer is obvious: yes. Raiding as such is so challenging that there is no reason to make it harder by being ignorant. It’s most of all a team effort and it’s impossible to work well as a team without some basic knowledge about other classes.

But for players who don’t raid - couldn’t it be fun to become surprised? To see other players and classes just like blank, unwritten sheets of paper – you have no idea what to expect from them. For instance in a role playing environment – imagine you’re duelling someone, you can tell he or she has some magic powers, but you’re not quite sure what those powers are – if you risk to be sheeped, feared or otherwise possessed by them. You have no idea about their weak points – that’s something you’ve got to figure out for yourself, by trial and error.

What if mages could turn into quite mystic guys, with superior intellect and secret knowledge that we refuse to share with anyone but other mages? Wouldn’t it be pretty cool to give another kind of answer (said in a deep, mystic voice) the next time someone ask you to inform them about mages:

“Stay away. The less you know the better. This knowledge was only meant for mages.”


Anonymous said...

ooooohhhhh errr secrets... Damn I can't keep secrets....

Though I will remember this next time someone tells me how to play a mage...

"I'm sorry my ways are too deep and mystic for you to understand... all you need to know is DON'T HIT THE SHEEP!."

lol.. nice post!

Xdawgg said...

You could Rp this really well with a BE. Seeing as how their decendants thought they were better than anyone else.

Anonymous said...

Damn it! I knew it. It's the gnomish side of me that just can't shut up. We're so short so we've got an urge to tell the world all of our dirty little secrets so they'll respect us.

I'll have to work on this. Let Larísa get a BE disguise somewhere (isn't there some quest where you get it?) and then perhaps she'll turn a bit more mystic, full of dignity.

Anonymous said...

Anyway, with the posible exception of hardcore PvP players who read Sun Tzu ("know your enemy...") I have found that most player only knowledge about mages is
- We sheep things
- We have fireballs in small,medium and large sizes
- We run an independent air travel company.Catering included.

Fellow raiders REALLY thinks we only have to push two buttons on the keyboard in a regular raid fight, when you say you use (at least I do)more than a dozen different clicks (apart from moving) they look at your face totally atonished...

Good thing mages are the class less used as hi-level alter

Chris said...

You might have 600 different buttons, but provided:

1) Table
2) Sheep
3) Damage Spell

Are bound its pretty good to go in most content :P, and yes, the main reason you bring a mage is for that table, for the cost of < 1g a mage gets to supply 50x50s stacks of food + water, or in other words 25g worth of savings to the raid basically. Even on a party scale thats worth it, same way your Paladins blow their symbols and priests their candles (which is why the Kobold's worry so much, because if you go down to the mine to day be sure to go in disguise, because today's the day the priests have their picnic!)

Anonymous said...

1) Table
2) Sheep
3) Damage Spell
...... well I would add a few...
4)Best AoE in game management (nova, AE)
5)counterspell & silence (great to pull casting mobs)
6)spellsteal vital/deadly buffs

Anyway , the number 1 thing many people ignores about mages: To be eficient you have to master a bigger number of things that any other class, combine and time the casting of at least a dozen secondary abilities/spells in order to do things other classes bound in a single macro....

Chris said...

4) Seed of Corruption
5) Park tank on top of mobs, aoe
6) Tanked Maulgar's Mage without a mage :P, and I was tanking Maulgar and the Shaman.

Seriously, frost nova is a tank's nightmare, don't use it please. It stops us moving mobs, gets them in our back when we have to move and means I can't simply taunt it back to me, I need to go get within melee range to retain aggro. Any mage using this without a good reason should be /kicked on principle, it helps you, and screws with the rest of the raid, its like a lock seeding on non-aoe pulls, its fun but its likely to get people killed. I haven't kicked a mage that did it once, I have kicked mages that kept doing it on pulls after they were asked not to. Anyone with a mage and a tank character can tell you how annoying it is and how its not really understood from just the mage's perspective, one of my friends used to use it a lot till she rolled a tank, now she uses it when the tank asks or when its truly needed to lock something down and won't kill anyone else, because no one else realises you will do it and so isn't moving out of range.

Arcane explosion is nice, but it has a damage cap iirc and requires you to be in melee range meaning only 110% threat on the tank compared to ranged aoe's 130% to pull. Its use must be considered in that light and its high mana cost.

:P There are of course more to mages than my joking list made out, but from most perspectives and most raid instances a lot of the benefit of a mage is in the three I listed, the massive saving on consumables, the reliable reappliable cc of sheep and the decent dps output.

From a raiding perspective the fact that a tank can generate 2k tps makes no difference if the top dps generates 1200tps, its more important in small fights and gimmicks, but in general mages can be distilled down into those 3 functions, and that is what you really need to take into account on a baseline guide. Maybe for a ZA guide telling people that a mage can spellsteal makes a huge difference, but for a 5 man their sheep is likely to be a more relevant and used ability.

Also most mages don't seem to know where the counter spell buttons is, preferring to trade damage with mobs than silence it and make it come closer. Again its not a downer but its one of those things where you should take the lead from the tank, looking at shattered halls I want one of the pulls which is typically:

Grunt Grunt Shadow Caster Grunt Acolyte

To end up with the grunts on me and the legionnaire, the ranged dps to nuke the shadow caster at range (don't counter spell or he can run in and fear us) and the acolyte to die out of range of heals as well, the fact that it also triggers the 3 adds to come in and run at me is an added bonus. A lot of the utility in classes needs the direction of the raid / party leader to make it effective and understanding its application there is vital otherwise what seems like a great tool can result in deaths your leader feels responsible for.

Look at Steam vaults, there are generically 4 types of mobs:

Annoying Silencer

Sirens cast fear in melee range, yet will stand back, anyone running close will likely make them cast fear and makes the clear harder, the sorcerors are an aoe damage class typically on the tank, again stand back and let it go. Melee and the silencers are less of an issue, again stand back but don't try and counter it, better an ineffectual spell on the tank than forcing the use of other abilities, the one time I saw a mage use silence on a siren was when he wiped us 6 times despite the party telling him to keep his distance from them, we went for a minimum clear (Door group, Giant, door group, stairs, rock group, patrol near boss) so were always fighting near other mobs making that fear lethal. Had he followed our plan and not used his utility we would have cleared it easily with no deaths.

Anonymous said...

2ndnin, you're doing it again - writing comments on other blogs, which could as well have been posts on your own. I just read "What mages should know about playing mages from the point of view of a tank". And it was good reading, which gave me a few things to think about.

Actually I've asked Zakesh to write somthing about mages from the point of view of a non-mage. I'll see what he comes up with.
If he thinks theres ANY use for mages except for the drinks and buffs... There must be some reason why he's chosen never to play anyone for himself...

Chris said...

:P I have a "What a Tank needs to know about X from their Perspective, and why you should listen" post in the works. Generally Tanks have a fairly simple perspective on most classes broken down into Pre-fight, CC and Fight stages.

Most DPS classes have tools we don't know about or use, or in fact really don't want you to use. A Tank's perspective is mostly what you offer in terms of CC and Utility, if we can assign you to mob x and you have some cool tools to deal with that then we have a nice solution, if you just smash it in the face as well thats normally equally good :P. For mages this most often comes down to sheep and cookies, its slightly different in specific cases such as High King Maulgar (yes I will ask you to spell steal, and yes I know you know that already :P), but in general we don't care how you achieve the goal provided you do it sensibly.

So for a mage we have:

Pre-fight - Int Buff, Cookies
CC - Sheep, Ice Nova (touch this key and feel the love :P)
Fight - DPS, Spell steal, threat reduction, Dispel.

Since most 5 man instances and even 10mans don't need a lot of Spell stealing or Dispelling it essentially reduces mages from our perspective to Sheep, DPS and cookies, which is not how a lot of mages want to be seen. However you can see where it comes in, a warlock and a mage are thus starting to look similar, and in a demon instance the lock gains the advantage (fear juggling takes a lot skill and focus to keep a mob engaged,most new locks that have never tried it just end up fearing the mob), so Cookies are a major thing.

This also ties into me though, as a well geared Paladin I don't use CC (and with the Magister's terrace nerfs I don't even need 1 mage for the mage guard :P), so classes are reduced to pre-combat and combat stages from my perspective,ie: that buff / cookie suddenly is the difference between a mage and a warlock or a mage and a shaman. Our gear level hit the stage we can 3 man Underbog heroic (actually I think we could 2 man it, we did 50% of SH with 2 people, just got bored as the kills were slow), this means those 2 spare slots are open, and unnecessary for us to fill. At that point the combat part of the role is really an optional extra, meaning we take a mage for the cookies.

Its a strange factor of gear, experience and the Paladin tanking style (Good Warriors don't cc SH either, but I wait for the patrols and extra mobs to speed up the instance :P), that we can essentially remove 2/3rds of your role definitions, and really make it so that its the ancillary benefits that make the most difference. Again my perspective is skewed because of this, when I started out tanking I wanted some CC, as the gear got better the role of that and even the DPS is reduced, its probably something most DPS classes don't realise though, since they still try and sheep / cc unmarked targets.

Fundamentally I am a tank, its my job to mark, organise the pull and know the limits of myself and my healer (and a good estimate of the dps since this defines how big a pull I can sustain if the healer is forced to just spam greater heals :P). If someone else wants the job they can feel free to have it, but they need to realise the strengths and weaknesses of their tanks in a lot more depth than they do the rest of the party because we are the focal point for damage, yet too little will leave us high and dry for breaking that cc.

Anonymous said...

2ndnin, you're hopeless! now take those two comments of yours and work out a blogpost about mages from it!

Anyway I've got a little mixed feelings about going with pala tanks. Basically I just adore you people. It's so lovely to be able to do insane aoe-ing and just go for the dps assignment without having to worry much about anything else. On the other hand... since you make sheep pretty useless or at least unnecessary, we DO get reduced a bit to vendor machines. Not very flattering, really.

Chris said...

Thats why, as I said, my perspective is skewed a little, I really don't need CC in any instance (up to 5/9 BT and I still haven't found a pull I would CC :P) and with the nerf to the mage guards even they no longer make it a good plan to do them.

Its such an odd perspective when you see a class reduced to essentially its out of combat functionality as the main reason to take it, and a lot of people dislike it because they can't see how thats what happens to all of us, people don't look at a paladin tank and say "I like the person" (well you might if you are friends", they look and see "paladin tank, woot no cc".

:P and I will make a post, but its hard to write a post on reducing people to a single dimension because your gear level increased. Its not really what you want to do, but at the same time you start to see less of a need for cc, and even dps when you have players in your group that do 2-3 times what a starting level 70 did. Its feels bad to do so, but it does let you offer fast run slots to seriously undergeared people to get them badges and suchlike, but they have to realise thats why they were invited primarily was to help them rather than to cc everything and annoy the tank :P.

At the same time instances that don't allow you to do so such as the pre-nerf MgT were unfair in many ways because for most people without the stupid gear levels they needed 2-3 CC to get through it, and even if you can do it without any the third boss practically requires it.

Thats maybe an interesting post, how instances with strict CC requirements interact with higher gear levels.