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Arcane Brilliance: Mage version 2.4

Christian Belt

Every week, Arcane Brilliance endeavors to provide a small peek into the mysterious world of Mages. On Tuesday--in case you just teleported in from under the Dalaran bubble this morning and weren't aware--we got a new patch. This week, we'll take a long hard look at the patch as it relates to Mages, including some Mage-related observations and a giant list of all that sweet, sweet, cloth gear.

I almost didn't have time to write a column this week, guys. I don't know if you've noticed, but there are 8 billion daily quests out there for us to do and most of them involve competing with several hundred players for the same 3 mobs. At some point on Tuesday I may or may not have started sprinting around Quel'Danas Arcane Explosioning over and over until I tagged something, but I can't be sure. The whole day is sort of a blur.

So far I absolutely love the patch. We've had the better part of four days with it now, and I have a few thoughts, if you'll indulge me. First, Magisters' Terrace is hard. I like that. You have to know what you're doing in there, so either find a patient group, study up yourself on what to do for each of the boss fights, or invite someone who's run it a few times. Unless you know what you're doing, you're going to wipe a few times. It's just the right amount of challenging for what will eventually be the final 5-man dungeon before the expansion. There are a lot of ways for Mages to make themselves useful in the place, what with all the sheepable mobs that pull in large groups and the value of ranged DPS in many of the encounters. If you haven't gotten to AoE the living crap out the room before Vexallus yet, you're missing out. Just make sure the healer has a quick trigger finger.

Secondly, If you haven't respecced to try out the new Improved Blink, you should consider it. It isn't going to let you tank an instance by any means, but it provides some very nice extra survivability in PvP. When you Blink, you get this very nice phased-out effect going on, and you can actually see the arrows and spells pass through you instead of hitting you 25% of the time. Good clean fun, believe me. Makes running the flag in the new and improved Warsong Gulch slightly more entertaining.

Come back after the break for more gear than you can shake a magical stick at.

So you're in Quel'Danas, you've done some dailies, gotten yourself some shiny gold, bur now you're wondering where the good stuff is. In other words: where's the fancy new loot? Well wonder no longer. As always, WoWInsider has all of your fancy new loot needs taken care of.

Most servers are still in the first or second phases of the Shattered Sun Offensive, so the badge vendor hasn't arrived on the island yet. The first and easiest place to turn for new gear is the 5-man instance, Magisters' Terrace (I pity the fool that doesn't call this MrT). Here's what Mages should be hoping drops there:

Magisters' Terrace Loot:

Bindings of Raging Fire

Band of Arcane Alacrity

Duskhallow Mantle

Cloak of the Betrayed

Gloves of Arcane Acuity

If you're crazy tough enough to manage the Heroic version of said dungeon, here's what you have a chance of finding:

Heroic Magisters' Terrace Loot:

Jaded Crystal Dagger

Fel-tinged Mantle

Timbal's Focusing Crystal

Scarlet Sin'dorei Robes

Once you've gotten your reputation up with the Shattered Sun Offensive (which doesn't take too long if you're running MrT and doing the dailies) you can purchase the following:

Shattered Sun Reputation Vendor Loot:

Archmage's Guile

Shattered Sun Pendant of Acumen

Once the Armory is reclaimed and phase three is well underway, the long-awaited badge vendor will arrive on Quel'Danas. Those of you who have been hoarding Badges of Justice will finally be able to spend them on shiny new purples. You'll find the ones you should really be coveting below:

Quel'Danas Badge Loot:

Scryer's Blade of Focus

Legwraps of Sweltering Flame

Boots of Incantations

Shroud of the Lore'nial

Fused Nethergon Band

There are some Warlock items you can buy with badges as well, that I suppose could technically work for Mages too. The main difference is that the Warlock gear doesn't have spirit (significantly more useful to Mages now that intellect helps it regenerate mana) or spell hit rating (which every Mage should be stacking at this point), opting instead for large amounts of spell crit rating. It's your choice, I suppose, but choosing the Warlock stuff is a bad one, in my humble opinion. Plus it'll make you look like a Warlock, and nobody wants that. Right? Guys?

If you happen to be a tailor like me, and have stacks of Spellcloth and/or Shadowcloth lying around like me, take heart. Get your guild in the 25-man raid instance on Quel'Danas, Sunwell Plateau, and start praying one of these beauties drops off of the trash mobs in there.

Pattern: Sunfire Robe

Pattern: Sunfire Handwraps

These are both gigantic upgrades over the old BoP tailoring epics, and fairly large improvements over a lot of whatever else you might have on. As with the old recipes, you have to be a tailor to wear them but unlike the old recipes, you don't need any specific specialization within the profession. Barring what people eventually start getting from Sunwell Plateau bosses, these are arguably the best PvE caster gear out there.

If you're just hitting level 70 and wondering what the patch may have provided for you to upgrade your green quest rewards to, you're in luck. Even if you're not planning on jumping into PvP right away, there are a few new items out there for Mages that are incredibly easy to get and will trump almost anything you likely have on when you hit 70. The best part is that you don't even have to leave Outland to get them. The new tier 0.5 PvP sets are available at honored reputation from the various faction vendors in Outland, and all they'll cost you is a little bit of gold. Go run a few dailies, and you can afford them. Also, they look pretty sweet...a whole lot better than that mismatched clown suit you've pieced together so far.

Evoker's Silk Battlegear:

Evoker's Silk Armice (Horde)

Evoker's Silk Armice (Alliance)

Evoker's Silk Cowl

Evoker's Silk Handguards

Evoker's Silk Raiment

Evoker's Silk Trousers

By the time you hit 70, unless you've been actively avoiding completing quests, you should probably be honored with Cenarion Expedition, Lower City, and Thrallmar/Honor Hold at the very least. The other factions are fairly easy to get to honored with as well, so these are almost a no-brainer when you first hit 70 these days.

So that's the list. I haven't put any raid gear in there, mostly because at this point, only hardcore raiders will be able to get it, and frankly I'm jealous and don't feel like rubbing my own nose in what I can't have yet. The gear I've listed above is available to just about everyone, without any kind of insane time investment.

You may notice something about the new trend in Mage itemization when you take the above list as a whole. The first thing that jumped out at me when I skimmed the whole thing is two very important stats that until now have been fairly difficult to stack: Spell hit rating and spell haste rating. Both are vital stats for Mages, only most of us don't realize how vital, simply because most of us don't have much of either rating. Only very high-end gear grants such stats, and most of it was previously only available in hardcore raid content. Now you can beat the first boss in Magisters' Terrace and get a nice pair of spell haste gloves. Mages used to stack spell damage and spell crit and call it a day. Now that these other two stats are more widely available, we all need to reshape our thinking. I'll save the in-depth analysis for next week's column, but for now, suffice it to say that I'm excited. It's a subtle change, but Mages are moving in a whole new direction now. I for one am thrilled.

Arcane Brilliance will return next week with a closer look at the new stat trend for Mages: spell haste and spell hit. We'll explore why you need these stats, what they do for you, and why we should all be happy about the change. Until next time, sheep some adds, Blink behind a pillar or two, and as always, try not to let the Warlock kill you.

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