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Arcane Brilliance: Macros for mages

Christian Belt

It's time again for Arcane Brilliance, the weekly mage column that comes to you this week from the desk in my upstairs bedroom, where I sit, pantsless (as is my custom), listening to chiptunes (Anamanaguchi!) and eating a giant bowl of Corn Pops. The wife and kids are out shopping, so it's just you and me, mages. Let's do this.

I've been writing this column once a week for over two years now, and each week, I follow the same general process. First, I figure out what I'm going to write about. Then I research my chosen topic (some topics require more research for me than others) until I feel comfortable enough to speak authoritatively on the subject. Finally, I sit down and write the thing. Then I edit the crap I just wrote until it resembles cogent thought, at which point I submit it to my editors. They notify me of any still-glaring issues with the column, and after a bit more polishing, the finished product magically appears on your computer screen, usually sometime Saturday night.

The hardest part of this process, for me anyway, is usually that first part. Sure, some weeks it's easy. Maybe we just had a major content patch and there's a fresh load of class changes to discuss. Maybe I'm writing the second part of a multi-part post, so I already know going into the week what I'm sitting down to write about on Friday. But most weeks, immediately upon finishing that week's column, I begin worrying about what I'm going to write about next week. It begins as a mild itch in the very back of my mind, a little tickle reminding me that in seven days I have a column due and I have no idea what that column's going to be about. Then, as the Friday due date approaches, that itch becomes a constant gnawing dread.

For aid, I generally turn to the various resources available to me. I'll hit the various WoW forums out there, see what the mage community is whining concerned about lately, then visit a variety of WoW news and blog sites, searching for any interesting mage information I might not already have written about. I'll even revisit my own columns, looking for half-finished ideas that could use more attention, and perusing the comments you guys leave after those columns to look for requests or complaints robust enough to center a column around.

One idea that I've considered and discarded on multiple occasions throughout the past 2 years has been that of writing a mage macro column. I keep returning to it because you guys keep returning to it. It's one of the most consistently repeated column-topic requests I've received, without question, but I keep setting it aside for a number of reasons:

  1. I can't figure out an angle to approach it from. A dry list of macros and their uses doesn't seem like it would be fun to write or fun to read.
  2. There are already plenty of resources out there that list a more comprehensive list of mage macros than I could hope to provide in the space afforded me here. Some of those resources already work at this very site.
  3. Though I wholeheartedly employ and unabashedly endorse the use of macros, I in no shape or form consider myself anything approaching an expert on the subject. I know what works for me, but I couldn't tell you why it works to save my life. Whenever I consider writing a macro column, I can't escape the feeling that a large percentage of you readers would already be better equipped to write that column than I would.
But this week, I finally decided to deliver a macro column. What's changed? Nothing, really. All three of those things are still absolutely true. But, sitting at my computer this week sifting through ideas, it finally occurred to me that I write this column for the mages who read it, and the mages who read it continue to request a macro column. I should provide one for them, even if I'm scared it will suck.

So here's how we'll approach it. I won't be listing a million mage macros for you. I'll link you to WoWWiki's mage macro page for that. Instead, what I'll present here, for better or worse, is a selection of macros that I use and consider to be indispensable or otherwise awesome. I'll tell you what they are, and then tell you what they do. Let's see how this goes.

Primary nuke macro

I use macros for two reasons:
  1. To save myself key presses
  2. To consolidate the buttons on my action bar
This macro looks different depending upon the spec that I use, but the concept behind it remains the same. It always includes the same components: The nuke spell itself, preceded by all of my DPS cooldowns. When I spam it, it ensures that I'm maximizing the uptime on all of my cooldowns without ever having to press an additional button for that purpose.

Here's how it looks for my arcane spec (to use this macro in-game, just highlight it and press [Control+C] then go to the macro interface in-game and paste [Control+V] it directly into a new macro):

/cast Icy Veins
/cast Arcane Power
/use 13
/use 14
/cast Arcane Blast
/run UIErrorsFrame:Clear()

For frost, as an example, it looks like this:

/cast Icy Veins
/use 13
/use 14
/cast Frostbolt
/run UIErrorsFrame:Clear()

The basic idea is to cast all of your cooldowns up front, then follow with your primary nuke. It casts all of these spells in one button press, and the only one that triggers the global cooldown is your actual nuke. By adding the "/use 13" and "/use 14" lines, each time you press the macro, it will attempt to use both of your trinkets, assuming they don't share a cooldown. The line "/run UIErrorsFrame:Clear()" is simply there to avoid getting error messages when you're spamming the button but one or more of the spells attached to it are not off cooldown.

You can also add more to this, depending on your preference and the resources available to you. If you have a potion you like to incorporate, you could add a line at the beginning of the macro like:

/use Potion of Speed

This part of the macro would of course only apply once per fight, but it does save you that one button press, and prevents you from forgetting to use the potion if you wish to use on in every fight. Another example of something that saves a button press but may be something you'd like to save for more situational use is Presence of Mind. I sometimes prefer to leave it out of the macro so that I can save it for times when I am forced to cast on the move, but on fights that aren't very movement intensive, it's nice to incorporate into the macro itself with a simple "/cast Presence of Mind" line placed somewhere prior to the Arcane Blast line.

Two other things I like to add to the macro as I personally use it for my arcane spec are a line at the beginning that goes "#show Arcane Blast" so that mousing over the button shows me the tooltip for Arcane Blast (a purely aesthetic addition), and the following just after the "/cast Arcane Blast" line: "/cast [mod:shift] Arcane Missiles"

What that does is allow me to hold shift and press the macro key to fire out an Arcane Missiles when my Arcane Blast stack is at four and Missile Barrage has procced. This essentially places my entire rotation into one single button. Here's how the final arcane spec macro looks for me:

#show Arcane Blast
/use Potion of Speed
/cast Presence of Mind
/cast Icy Veins
/cast Arcane Power
/use 13
/use 14
/cast Arcane Blast
/cast [mod:shift] Arcane Missiles
/run UIErrorsFrame:Clear()

Water Elemental max DPS macro

As near as I can tell, Lhivera, patron saint of frost mages everywhere, came up with this one:

/cast Frostbolt
/use Waterbolt

Essentially, it forces your Water Elemental to cast Waterbolt more often than the pet would do so if left to its own devices. You tie it to your primary nuke so that you're constantly forcing the blue guy to cast, and it actually increases his DPS output slightly.

You can quite easily tie this to any other frostbolt macros you might be employing simply by inserting that "/use Waterbolt" line directly after the "/cast Frostbolt" line. It's a slight DPS increase, but a DPS increase nonetheless.

Incidentally, another thing I like to add to my Frostbolt macro is a line at the bottom that goes "/petattack"

All it does it ensures that your Water Elemental always follows your Frostbolt target, instead of wandering off on his own to do whatever his little blue mind has lead him to do.

Aggro wipe macro

This is a bit of a life-saver, for me:

#show Invisibility
/cancelaura Invisibility
/cast Invisibility

It stops whatever you're doing and immediately casts Invisibility on the first press, then brings you out of it on the second press. Just hit it once, wait for your aggro to go away, then hit it again and resume blowing things up. I use a similar macro for Ice Block:

#show Ice Block
/cancelaura Ice Block
/cast Ice Block

In fact, it bears mentioning that the "/stopcasting" line is useful in any macro where you'd like to be able to cancel an action and immediately begin performing another. I add that line to any ability that needs to be used in emergencies, like the following:

/set warlock on fire

Kidding. I'm kidding. That's not a real macro. No matter how many letters I've written to Blizzard requesting that it be made into one.

Decurse mouseover macro

This is a good one if you aren't going to use Decursive or a similar mod to assist you with your curse-removal duties:

#show Remove Curse
/cast [target=mouseover,noflying,nomounted,nodead,help]
Remove Curse

Bind it to your mousewheel, and then any time somebody gets themselves cursed, you simply need to mouse over them or their character portrait and click your mousewheel. Poof, no more curse.

Other fun mouseover macros

I actually really like using slight modifications on that same above mouseover macro to make it useful in other situations. For example, change the above to the following:

#show Remove Curse
/cast [target=mouseover,noflying,nomounted,nodead,help] Remove Curse [target=mouseover,noflying,nomounted,nodead,harm] Counterspell; [flying,combat] Slow Fall

Bind it to your mousewheel, and what you've got is a button that casts Remove Curse when you're mousing over an ally who has a curse, casts Slow Fall when you're mousing over an ally who is in midair, and casts Counterspell when you're mousing over an enemy. This also works well with Ice Lance:

#showtooltip Ice Lance
/cast [target=mouseover,exists][target=target,exists] Ice Lance

This one stops whatever you're doing and throws out an Ice Lance on any hostile target your mouse may be hovering over. Useful for getting rid of Grounding Totems and the like.

Food macro

#show Conjured Mana Strudel
/cast [button:1] Conjure Refreshment
/use [button:2] Conjured Mana Strudel

This is a quality-of-life macro. It saves you an action bar spot. If you left lick the button, it will conjure delicious strudel. If you right click, it will eat said delicious strudel. Mmmm. Strudel.

Super fun mid-air death macro

I'll end with this one, simply because I love it so:

#show Frost Nova
/cast Frost Nova
/cast [mod:shift] Slow Fall

Step 1: Find a flagged member of the opposing faction who isn't paying attention. I find Wintergrasp to be a good hunting spot. This works best if it's a class without a way to survive a long fall.

Step 2: Fly up next to them and press this macro.

Step 3: Hold down shift and press the macro again.

Step 4: Watch as they fall to their death.

So that's the short list of my personal favorite macros. Please add your favorites in the comments below. Now I have to go figure out what I'm writing about next week...

EDIT: I fixed a number of problems in this post thanks to eagle-eyed readers. Thanks for the input, guys, and keep the feedback coming.

Every week Arcane Brilliance teleports you inside the wonderful world of mages and then hurls a Fireball in your face. Check out our recent look at how much I hate damage meters, or our lengthy series of mage leveling guides. Until next week, keep the Mage-train a-rollin'.

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