Arcane Brilliance: Making your Mage raid-worthy, part 2

Christian Belt
C. Belt|09.13.09

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Arcane Brilliance: Making your Mage raid-worthy, part 2
Welcome to the latest Arcane Brilliance, the weekly Mage column that believes there's no such thing as a wrong time to turn something into a sheep. Unless it was already a sheep to begin with. Then it would probably have been better to turn it into a pig or a rabbit or something. Or maybe just hit it with a Pyroblast. Mmmm. Lamb chops. What were we talking about again?

If you missed last week, here's a link to click on so you can catch up. If you can't be bothered to read the first part of this column, let me summarize the idea here: we're discussing ways to get your Mage all decked out in epic, raid-worthy gear without ever actually entering a raid instance. Now, more than ever before, we have so many options for obtaining raid-quality gear that actually raiding for it seems almost...old-fashioned.

Last week we talked about 5-mans in both their normal and heroic varieties, focusing on Trial of the Champion, because duh. But maybe you don't want to do 5-mans. Maybe your guildies aren't on, and maybe you hate pugs. Maybe you are a Mage, and because there are eighty-four DPSers looking for group for every one tank or healer, you threw your hands up after an hour of trying to get a group and went off to do dailies.

Well good news, everyone! Doing those dailies can get you epics too! Yes, it is entirely possible--even if you happen to be the guy on your server who ninjas gear in pugs and sucks at everything to the point that nobody invites you to groups anymore--to fill just every slot of your gear with sparkly purples without doing any instances of any kind. Isn't that wonderful? It tends to take a bit longer, overall, but these alternative methods for obtaining gear can be perfect for those of us who simply don't have a lot of time to commit to a group. Simply log in, craft an epic cloak, do a daily quest or two, blast out a couple Arena matches, and then repeat for a few weeks, and eventually you'll have epics too. Anyway, nice talking to you, see you next week! Wait...what's that? You want details? Oh fine. Clicky clicky.


I'm going to start by doing something mildly controversial. I'm going to advocate PvP as a way to gear up for raiding. Yes, I know. I'm wrong on so many levels. Only here's why I'm not:

Titan-Forged Cloth Trousers of Domination

You can get those from a vendor in Wintergrasp when your faction has control of the zone for the price of 40 Wintergrasp Marks of Honor. If you're a member of the Alliance on my server, where the Alliance simply has to show up and they get a victory, you can get that many marks pretty quickly. If you're a member of a faction on a server where that faction typically loses Wintergrasp, it may take you a little while. Take a minute and look at those pants right there.

Those are sexy.

Now here's the knock on PvP gear for raiding: It's PvP gear. And you're raiding. The prevailing sentiment is this: Too much of PvP gear's itemization leans toward survivability. Mage PvP gear is heavy on stamina and resilience, stats a raiding Mage doesn't really need. The points used on resilience are not just wasted, those are points that should be allocated to hit rating, or haste, or spirit, or (insert viable raiding stat here), essentially making them negative stats. So if you show up to raid and you're wearing a noticeable majority of PvP gear, be prepared to get made fun of, or kicked from the raid, or blamed for wipes, or (insert something douchebags do here).

Here's my problem with this:

It's stupid. Granted, the idea holds up if you're still raiding in them in Trial of the Grand Crusader or something, but that's not what we're talking about here. The concept we're dealing with in this particular part of this particular column is that of using PvP gear as entry-level raiding gear. Our overlying theme is this: how do I get raid-quality gear without raiding? In that spirit, let's compare those pants to, say, these...

Leggings of Sapphiron

...which drop in 10-man Naxx. These are perfectly acceptable entry-level raiding leggings, and they drop inside a raid. Switching from the PvP pants above to these PvE pants does the following:
  • -80 stamina
  • -1 Intellect
  • +72 spirit
  • -64 crit rating
  • -80 resilience
  • +41 haste rating
  • -34 spellpower
The sockets are basically a wash, and the socket bonus change is from 7 spellpower to 6 spirit.

Is that anybody's idea of an upgrade? You're trading spirit and haste for spellpower, stamina, and crit. Honestly, if I'm raiding in those PvP pants and the Leggings of Sapphiron drop, I'm passing them to somebody who needs them.

The point I'm trying to make here is this: PvP is a fine way to gear up for raiding. Don't let anybody tell you it isn't.

Here are the slots you can fill this way, with no Arena rating necessary (though if you can get the rating, there's much better stuff available):
So, pretty much everything but your weapons, off-hands, and wands. There are also multiple trinkets available through PvP, and some of them are quite nice. You can obtain all of these items (and plenty more) through straight honor, Arena points mixed with honor, or Wintergrasp Marks of Honor. Do a bunch of whatever flavor of PvP you like best and you're golden.

Now, having said everything I just said, let me insert a couple of minor qualifiers. First, there are better alternatives in many of these slots for PvE. This gear is good, but it may not necessarily be the absolute best pre-raid stuff out there in every situation. So there's that. And second, by wearing it, you will open yourself up to ridicule. The world is full of stupid people, and a startlingly large percentage of those people seem to also inhabit the World of Warcraft. You'll join groups wearing what is clearly PvP gear, even normal 5-man pugs, and immediately start getting whispers inquiring as to your spellpower, or some other such nonsense. Leave those groups. You don't need that kind of garbage. Find a group that'll allow you to actually suck in practice before they decide you suck in theory.

Bottom line: if you want to PvP to gear up at 80, you go right ahead. The stuff you get by PvPing will serve you just fine in entry-level raids. Period.

And now that I've spent about 700 words on this, let's move on.


The main ones I'm talking about here are Tailoring, Blacksmithing, Inscription, and Jewelcrafting. You don't actually have to take any of them to get the best equipment they have to offer, either. It's all bind-on-equip, so you can snag it at the auction house or just gather your own mats and find a willing crafter to make one for you. Here's the best of each:

Tailoring The Ebonweave Robe and Gloves are really excellent pre-raiding items, and have been since the expansion hit and they were introduced. They're stuffed with three things every aspiring raider needs: spellpower, intellect, and lots and lots of hit rating. If you somehow have your hit rating capped already, then you can always opt for the Spellweave stuff, which swaps the hit for haste and the stam for spirit. Either way, you can fill two slots nicely here with just your needle, some thread, and some cloth magically crafted in the bowels of a volcanic cave shaped like a dragon's head and filled with deadly cultists. Just like Mom used to do.

If you like questing, and have the drive and ambition necessary to complete the Loremaster of Northrend achievement, you can learn to craft a very nice caster cloak from the tailoring trainer in Dalaran. The Deathchill Cloak has no base stats (stamina, intellect, etc.) but the stats that it does have are impressive. Plus it looks neat.

Blacksmithing Only one item to mention here, but it's a pretty nice one:
Again, I'd like to see some intellect on there, but for an entry-level epic weapon, it gives you what you want: hit, crit, and a buttload of spellpower. Start saving your pennies now, though. Titansteel is freaking expensive.

Inscription The slot that this profession can cover is the off-hand frill, and it does so in two varieties:
Both are good choices, it's just a matter of picking the stats you need most.

Jewelcrafting Two items of note here:
In both cases, you're looking at two of the best-in-slot pre-raid items in the game. You might find better in Trial of the Champion or purchasable with Emblems, but you could say the same thing about a lot of the stuff we're discussing here. These are still quite nice, and are excellent ways to fill certain slots while waiting for the Emblems to roll in or whatever. Plus, you gotta love those big red sockets.

Argent Tournament

This little daily quest hub is fun, painless (unless you hate jousting, like me), and a great way to pick up a fantastic little weapon called the Blade of the Keening Banshee. Also a pony.

It'll take you just a few days of doing daily quests to get this, and it's on par with anything you'll find in Naxx 10-man, so it's a great way to fill your weapon slot if dailies are your thing. Plus you'll get a frigging ton of money and rep. Which leads us to...

Faction rewards

Now, I'm not going to list the gear again here. I've already done that, in another two-parter right at the start of Wrath of the Lich King, and these factions haven't offered anything new since then. Go check those for a full list of everything these factions have to offer, including the purples. Then come back here. I'm not done talking to you.

Back? Good.

I don't really have much else to say, I just wanted you to come back. I'm lonely.

The stuff you can get from the various factions hasn't really aged all that well, to be honest. I really, really wish Blizzard would update factions as the game goes along. Wouldn't it be nice to have that Thorium Brotherhood rep all those Corehounds died for mean something again? I know I'm living in a pipe dream, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed that when the Cataclysm hits, those frigging dwarves will upgrade their inventory a bit.

I'd say the highlights from this particular method of obtaining epic loot come from the Ebon Blade and the Argent Crusade. And both are ostensibly healer items. Whatever. The Signet of Hopeful Light is still a very nice caster ring, and the Belt of Dark Mending will fill your waist slot quite well. Both require you to be exalted, so get grinding.

So, two columns, fourteen days, and approximately 3,000 words later, what have learned? I'd like to think we've all laughed, we've all cried, we've learned a lesson about life, and love, high school, a boy, a girl, a robot renegade cop, and how sometimes, what you need the most is what's been right in front of you the whole time. Also, you can get plenty of epic gear without raiding. That's it, really. I should have just said that at the start and saved us all some time.

Also, I just realized I went a whole column without saying anything nasty about Warlocks. I wasn't thinking about it; it just happened. I'm not going to force it, people. Warlock-hate is a natural thing, like a bowel-movement. Wait. Ah, there it is. See? I wasn't even trying! I'm just trying to end my column, and bam! I compare Warlocks to poop. This is why I love my job, guys.

Every week Arcane Brilliance teleports you inside the wonderful world of Mages and then hurls a Fireball in your face. Check out our recent two-part look at what Cataclysm will mean to Mages, or our guide to upcoming Mage changes in patch 3.2.2. Until next week, keep the Mage-train a-rollin'.

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