I love my addons. When I say I love them, I want you to understand that what I mean is that I take them out to Italian restaurants and share a plate of spaghetti with them. My addons start to eat one end of a noodle, I begin to eat another end, and we suck that noodle up until eventually our faces meet in the middle, and we share a shy kiss. When my addons get drunk, I hold their hair back while they puke. If my addons were pregnant with my only son, and they needed cover fire so that they could escape the USS Kelvin in a shuttlecraft, I would totally fly that starship into Nero's giant Romulan mining vessel so that they could live.
I understand it's possible to play the game--and even to PvP--without them. I just don't know why anybody'd want to do that.
Proximo was awesome for a very long time. When Grayhoof stopped updating it, I felt like a part of me had died. Each patch saw it work a little bit less, until it finally became entirely unusable. I cried a little, listened to The Cure a lot, held a candlelight vigil, and then deleted it. Then I went searching for a suitable replacement.
Enter Gladius. Everybody who PvPs should have this addon. There isn't room for me to list everything it does here, but suffice it to say that it does everything Proximo did, and a little bit more. It's specific to Arenas, and doesn't work for other forms of PvP.
Gladius creates a customizable frame that you can place anywhere you choose on your screen. When you enter an Arena, it'll immediately populate with any non-stealthed opponents, so you know who you're up against, their specs, and any buffs they're sporting. It keeps track of their health and yours, buffs and debuffs, and can be set to alert you and your team about any number of things, from low health to when that dastardly Priest is drinking. It's incredibly useful, and I'd classify it as the baseline, required Arena addon for absolutely anyone.
There are other scrolling battle text mods out there, and I can't really make any sort of persuasive argument for this one over any of the others. This is simply the one I'm used to, and I have no complaints with it, so it's easy to recommend.
When you first install it, it'll make a big freaking deal out of absolutely everything. Loot a corpse and gain 25 copper? Holy crap! The notification will pop up over your head with about the same sense of importance as, say, a Missile Barrage proc. You'll really want to pop into the interface and customize your triggers.
You can set this addon to alert you to just about anything in just about any way you prefer, both visually and audibly. I use it for a great many things, but in particular, to notify me of the really urgent stuff, like the various procs (Missile Barrage, Impact, Brain Freeze, Blazing Speed, Hot Streak, etc.), as well as important things my enemies might be doing (Divine Shield, Grounding Totem, etc.). Frankly, when that Rogue throws up Cloak of Shadows, I want to know about it before I waste a Missile Barrage proc on him.
This little addon tracks everything (trinkets, spells, buffs, debuffs, items) that has a cooldown. It adds a little number telling you exactly how long you have left on that Polymorph, or how long it'll be until you can fire out another Deep Freeze. In essence, what it does is remove the guesswork, and lets you know exactly when to reapply certain things without having to mouse over a target, or do something more drastic.
Again, there are other addon options here. Afflicted is another excellent choice, and actually appears to be slightly more PvP oriented. I'm used to the way Omni CC works, so that's the one I use. Try a couple out, and go with whatever works best for you.
This is a must-have, and not only for PvP. It replaces the default cast bar with a larger, more accurate one. Why is it more accurate? Because it takes latency into account. It'll tell you exactly when you can cast that next Arcane Missiles without clipping the previous one. It provides a red section at the end of your cast bar that tells you the difference between when your spellcast will actually go off and when your cast time is up, allowing you to start the next spell before the game shows your last one is complete.
This is also handy for showing you just how much lag affects the game. Try installing it and then cast some spells during a particularly lively Wintergrasp battle or something. When your whole cast bar goes red, and then the spell doesn't even start for a few seconds, you might throw up a bit in your mouth.
You'll never guess what this does. Here's a hint: It filters debuffs.
It allows you to filter out the stuff you don't want, and program in the buffs and debuffs you really do want to pay attention to. I use it mostly to keep track of what's on my focus target, so I don't accidentally sheep somebody with a bunch of DoTs on them or something. It's handy for allowing you to see at a quick glance what your target is afflicted with, minus all of the other useless crap. It sounds simple, and it is, but it's difficult to really grasp how useful this is without using it yourself. Trust me, you'll like it.
There are a lot of fantastic addons out there, but these are the ones I consider most integral. These are the staples. My Mage would feel naked walking into PvP without them. I'm sure you guys know about and use a ton of others that I haven't mentioned here. Which ones did I leave out?
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 professions for Mages, or our look at a few ideas for dual speccing your Mage. Until next week, keep the Mage-train a-rollin'.