As with the last addon column, I'll add the caveat here that these are by no means the only useful PvE addons out there. These are simply those that I consider most essential. Raiding as a Mage without them is possible, but I'd compare it to performing surgery with your eyes closed: the results will be messy, and somebody is probably going to end up dead.
Yes, Blizzard has recently integrated a rudimentary threat warning system into the default interface. Omen is so much better that it's insulting to even compare the two. Every class should absolutely never raid without it (and indeed, a lot of guilds require it), and it's especially important for we Mages. As you may be aware, when you deliver a consistent stream of giant crits to a boss's face, as Mages tend to do, that boss tends to take more notice of you. Omen lets you know how close you're getting to having said boss forget all about the tank and wander over to eat you. If you don't have Omen or some other threat-meter alternative, get it. If you have it, pay attention to it. Make sure your Mage's name is never at the top of the list it provides. Your tank will thank you, your healers will love you, and maybe the boss will end up eating the Warlock instead.
Scorchio2/Power Auras Classic
These two mods are absolutely wonderful, and which one you use is really just a matter of personal preference. Both do essentially the same things, and they do them well. Scorchio is more tailored specifically to Mages, but Power Auras is incredibly customizable. Both mods keep track of buffs, debuffs, CCs, and every proc known to man.
In my opinion, these are the best options out there for tracking things like the Improved Scorch debuff, Hot Streak, Missile Barrage procs, and everything else Mages absolutely must be aware of.
Aside from being the single greatest run-on word in the English language, MiksScrollingBattleText is also my favorite combat text mod. I extolled its virtues in the PvP addons column, but It's just as awesome in PvE. It provides a wealth of combat information in an easy-to-follow presentation, and is so ridiculously configurable, you can probably figure out a way to get it to complete your math homework, tell you a bedtime story, and then sing you softly to sleep. This mod will allow you to know far more about any fight as it's going on than you have any right to know, and is indispensable when it comes to figuring out how you screwed up the Yogg fight yet again. There are other good options out there, but this is the combat text mod I like the best.
Another mod I already mentioned for PvP purposes, this cast-bar addon is also essential for PvE. It takes latency into account, letting you know exactly when you can begin your next cast, improving spell rotation efficiency. Also, I just like the Quartz bar (which you can tailor to meet your needs) a whole lot more than the tiny default one.
Hit Assist for Casters
I only recently discovered this mod, but it has already become my new favorite addon. What it does is very simple, but now that I've discovered it, I have no idea how I got along this far into the game without it. With this mod, when you mouse over a target, your tooltip will tell you what percentage chance you have to miss it, and if that chance is zero, right below that, it tells you how much hit rating you can stand to lose before you stop being capped against that mob. If you already have this mod, you're nodding your head right now, going "yep, this mod is awesome." If you don't, your eyes are widening as you realize how helpful that would be. Or they should be. It's difficult to describe how infinitely nice this mod is to have around. Go get it now. I'll wait.
I think as Mages, a lot of us forget that we have a little spell called Remove Curse. It's in our spellbooks, under the Arcane tab, wedged in between some croissants and a mana gem or something. I don't know. It's in there somewhere. Trust me.
You should be using this spell. A lot. It's one of our most valuable abilities, and I think we sometimes get so caught up in keeping our names on top of whatever damage meter mod we're running that we forget we can often keep the raid from dying by removing a few curses.
This little beauty of an addon makes doing so an almost unspeakably simpler task. I firmly believe no Mage should ever enter a raid without it. In a nutshell, what this mod does is keep track of all debuffs on every member of the raid, and provide you with an audio or visual cue whenever a teammate is afflicted with a curse you can remove. It's simple and elegant, usable right out the box without the need for any configuration, and has enough options to please even the most hard of the hardcore. Hardest of the hardcore? Most hardcorest? Eh, whatever. Get this addon.
For fun, I'm going to list a few other excellent quality-of-life addons you might also consider:
This converts combat ratings into percentages, so you can more easily tell how an item will benefit you.
Excellent little mod that tells you your current spellpower as it fluctuates during combat.
Gives you a little circular actionbar for portals and Mage armors such and looks like the menus in Secret of Mana, which makes it awesome.
The most ubiquitous of unit frame mods, Pitbull can do almost anything if you configure it hard enough. Seriously, I'm pretty sure my Pitbull mod is about three more log-ins away from becoming self-aware and ending humanity in a nuclear hellstorm.
So if you use addons, you're probably nodding your head right now, thinking how similar our tastes are, or else you're furiously typing about some incredible mod I forgot to mention. If you don't use addons, at least now you know what you're missing. Or you read the column title and stopped reading. Either way, at least I tried.
Every week Arcane Brilliance teleports you inside the wonderful world of Mages and then hurls a Fireball in your face. Check out our recent three-part guide to PvP for each Mage spec, or our look at what hit rating means to Mages. Until next week, keep the Mage-train a-rollin'.