I know, I know. We already get to fling massive, flaming boulders at warlock faces. Also, we wiggle our fingers and delicious cake spontaneously appears. Being a mage is already as close to nirvana as mortals can hope to aspire to. How can that experience be improved?
The answer is simple: more warlock-killing. And more cake! Also?
They come in all shapes and sizes, and your particular load-out may differ greatly from those of other mages you know. I'm not here to tell you you're wrong. I am here, though, to spotlight a few of those addons that have improved my experience the most of late. Join me, won't you? I promise both brevity and wit. Mostly brevity. Cake and warlocks are available in the foyer. Only one is edible, but both are cooked to perfection.
The first of two addons written by the ubiquitous Oldchap that I'll be mentioning here, CombustionHelper is almost a requirement for fire mages. I'm sure there are mages out there who can still regularly nail a sweet Combustion without it, but I am not one of those mages.
Timing a perfect Combustion is so vital to fire mage DPS but requires so much attention and luck to pull off, I can't imagine doing it all the time without help. CombustionHelper adds a very small, unobtrusive window to your UI that keeps track of which DOT effects you have up on your current target, and it alerts you when you have them all present and it's time to consider smacking that target with a fat Combustion. It's not foolproof, and it certainly doesn't do your job for you, but like every good addon, it keeps track of a lot of difficult-to-parse information the game is already feeding you, and then condenses that information into something you can make easier use of.
It is regularly updated and constantly improving, and I can't recommend it highly enough. If you are a fire mage, get this mod.
A massive amount of utility in one tiny package, I consider Mage Nuggets to be the essential mage addon. It even works for other ranged caster DPS specs, like moonkin, shaman, and shadow priests (but not warlocks). Short (long) list of things it does:
- Proc alerts and tracking for every spec. Never miss a Hot Streak or Brain Freeze again.
- Stat monitor. It keeps track of your stats in real time, taking into account all raid buffs and making sure that if you have to get out of range of the shaman's totems, at least you'll know about it. This means everything. Want to know if you're hit-capped against your current target? This will let you know on the fly. Crit chance, mana regen rate, bonus from all three masteries, spellpower bonuses from buffs ... everything. In real time. This is a massive raid DPS advantage. I'm not even kidding.
- Portal/teleport button. For a long time, this was the main reason I loved this addon. It adds a small button that you can place pretty much anywhere that, when clicked, provides you with an expanded list of all your portals, teleports, and hearthstone. It's a space-saver and just highly convenient.
- Polymorph tracking. Keeps track of your sheep. Remember when we had to use macros for this?
- Mirror Image timer. Shows you exactly when your three amigos will go away, helping you maximize the extra DPS and threat management they provide. You can even customize an alert sound or song that plays whilst your images are active and stops the moment they expire. I personally rotate through Yuzo Koshiro chiptunes, but you're welcome to use whatever you want.
- Spellsteal monitor. I used to use a separate mod for this, but now I just use the functionality included here. If your target is currently using a buff that you can steal from him, a small window will pop up telling you what that buff is. You can then steal it! I love being a mage.
- Automated messages. Have you cast Slow Fall on somebody and want them to know it is now safe for them to dive headfirst off the cliff at the Lumber Mill with you to stage a surprise assault on the Blacksmith? This will tell them for you when you cast the spell. It also will thank folks for Innervate, notify your Focus Magic target that he owes you a beer, and other things. All of these messages are customizable to your heart's content. Be as annoying as you feel is appropriate.
The second of Oldchap's mods I'll be covering, this is like CombustionHelper for arcane mages. MageManaBar is newer and thus not yet quite as refined, but it's pretty incredible even this early on.
It provides you with a deluxe mana bar that keeps track of everything an arcane mage so desperately needs to know: your actual max mana (actual, meaning regardless of temporary intellect boosts from procs or whatever) and how much of that mana you have left, the cooldowns on all your mana return options, markers to let you know when those mana return options can be used without wasting any of that precious mana, and a bunch of other information.
The addon then parses this information for you and provides a general idea of when you should probably be switching phases from burn to conservation to recovery. This advice is fully customizable, but even right out of the box, it seems to provide a pretty accurate set of suggestions that you may find improves your performance.
It's still early, but I'm going to go ahead and say this one's damn near essential for an arcane mage. The information it provides is simply too difficult to get from the normal game interface.
You're a mage. You're not a healer. But you have the ability, for very little cost in mana or time, to remove curses from your allies. If you are not doing this, you are wrong. Removing curses is part of your job as a mage. It takes pressure off the healer (who often doesn't even have a curse dispel ability) and helps the raid far more than that extra Fireball would have.
Decursive is used more commonly by straight-out healers, but it is invaluable for mages also. The interface for mages is fairly unobtrusive, simply providing you with small, customizable, dedicated buttons for each member of your party or raid. Clicking one of those buttons will cast Remove Curse on the specified party member. Each button will change colors to alert you when a particular ally is afflicted with something you can dispel. It saves time, energy, and takes the work out of your duties as a curse remover.
It's not that these other mods are less awesome than the ones I spent a lot of time talking about above, but that I simply don't have a whole lot to add to the conversation about them. These are all useful, active mods that your mage should consider, though.
- Omen It is essential for your mage to have a threat meter, and Omen has always been one of the best.
- SpellStealer If for some reason you don't want the all-in-one functionality of Mage Nuggets, this addon is great for identifying and stealing buffs from stingy folks who aren't generous enough to simply give you their beneficial spell effects voluntarily.
- SheepMonitor Similarly, this provides stand-alone sheep tracking functionality if you don't already have it.
- Quartz This provides what I find to be a much more visually informative and accurate casting bar than the default one.
Every week, Arcane Brilliance teleports you inside the wonderful world of mages and then hurls a Fireball in your face. Start off with our Cataclysm 101 guide for new mages, then find out which spec is best for raiding, get advice from the poor mage's guide to enchants, and learn how to keep yourself alive.