Arcane Brilliance: How to be legendary

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Arcane Brilliance for arcane, fire and frost mages. The title of this week's column is a bit misleading. As we all know, mages are, by virtue of their magehood, already legendary. I probably should have called it "How to be more legendary," or "How to be legendarier." Too late now, it's already been typed.

Last week, as I neared completion of Arcane Brilliance's mage guide to patch 4.2, I touched upon one of the more exciting aspects of our impending foray into the Firelands: Dragonwrath, Tarecgosa's Rest. Dragonwrath will be the new legendary staff available to casters in this patch. It will be difficult, but not by any means impossible, for a good guild to obtain. It will require a long term commitment to the new Firelands raid content. Most guilds will only obtain the staff once, and even the really high-speed guilds will only be able to pick up this staff for a select few of their caster members.

It's an incredible piece of statistical candy. Dragonwrath will be the best-in-slot weapon for every variety of DPS caster the moment it becomes available, by a very large margin, and it will likely remain that way for the rest of this expansion and into a good portion of the next one. If you are able to get your hands on it, you won't be letting go of it any time soon. Absolutely every caster class/spec will want it, including hybrids and classes that use spirit. Take a look at your guild. How many level 85 DPS casters do you raid with? Now look at yourself. How many of you are there? No, your mirror images don't count.

Those are your odds. So how do you lower those odds? How do you stack the deck a bit in your favor. My mission this week, ladies and gentlemen, is to help you be the chosen one in your guild who gets to wield this spectacular weapon. No, not you, warlock. My mission, this week as every week, is to see you die in a fire.

This will not be a guide to the nuts and bolts of the questline and drops necessary to forge the staff. There are plenty of other sources for that information. Suffice it to say that in order to obtain this weapon, your guild will need to do a lot of raiding in the Firelands. It will be a lengthy and involved series of quests and it will require a sizable time investment from everyone involved.

Instead, this will be a guide to how to make it more likely that when your guild does finally manage to earn Dragonwrath, they'll bestow it upon you.

So who gets it?

Potentially, any spell-casting damage dealer. Look at the stats. If there were an award given out for "Most Stats," this would be the unanimous winner. A giant steaming pile of stamina. 459 intellect. 366 points of hit rating. 252 haste. 2973 spellpower. 3 red slots. It also plays blue rays, streams Netflix, and is fully backward compatible.

With those stats, the staff will be best in slot for every DPS caster that ever lived. The lack of spirit does not mean it shouldn't go to a class who uses spirit.

And then there's the proc. Every so often, when you cast a harmful spell, the staff will duplicate it. That means a free extra nuke however often the proc chance allows. This, plus the hit rating, removes it from consideration as a healer staff, but makes it drool-worthy for absolutely every other kind of caster. As far as we know, the proc has no internal cooldown. Much as it pains me to admit, DoT-based classes will benefit from the staff as much as the rest of us.

So yeah, being a mage gives us no inherent advantage in laying claim to Dragonwrath. Sad, but true.

How to be the chosen one

Obtaining the staff will be a group accomplishment. To get it, you must work as a team, and the decision of who to award it to has to be a group decision. If you happen to be in a guild where the guild leader makes loot decisions arbitrarily and independent of group input, where things like "loot being given to the guild leader's girlfriend for no other reason than that she is his girlfriend" happen, well, you should probably not be in that guild, and if you stay, just know that you probably won't be getting Dragonwrath, no matter what you do. Which brings us to the first step in our multi-step plan to earn Dragonwrath:

Be in a good guild. This one's probably a bit unfair, because it's not something you can easily remedy. You will notice I said "be in a good guild," not "get into a good guild." The patch most likely drops in a couple of days. If you aren't in the kind of guild you need to be in by now, joining one isn't going to help at this point. Being the sort of player that an entire guild decides is worthy of such an exceptional weapon requires a time investment with the guild, and it's probably far too late in the game to decide now is the time to jump ship for a better guild and expect to earn the rights to Dragonwrath with that new guild.

So either you are in a good guild or you aren't. Here's how you know whether you're in the right kind of guild or not:

  • Your guild is competent. They complete current raid content regularly. They progress at a good pace.

  • Your guild gets along. Potentially catastrophic, guild-ending drama does not occur on a nightly basis. You like your guild and they like you. Loot fights are not a regular part of each boss kill.

  • You've been with the guild for a while, and you're in relatively good standing with the guild. Doesn't really matter how good your guild is if you're not tight with them.

Does your guild qualify? If not, you have two options, one that will work and one that almost certainly will not.

  1. Leave your old guild and find a good one to join. Good luck with this one. We've already discussed some of the problems with this course of action. Unless you happen to be the single greatest mage that ever conjured a strudel, chances are low that you'll be able to find a new, quality guild with Dragonwrath-earning potential, join them, work your way into their confidence, and somehow eclipse all of the other long-standing casters in the guild to be the lucky soul chosen to receive Dragonwrath on behalf of the guild. This isn't something you can ninja, guys.

  2. Improve your guild. This is far more realistic, and frankly, makes baby Jesus smile. Take the sub-par guild that you're in right now, and make it better. Recruit. Help members get better gear. Educate and assist less-experienced guildies. Build a better guild from the inside out. You may not be earning Dragonwrath with the top-level guilds that'll be walking around with four of them ten minutes after the patch drops, but at some point down the road, your guild will earn the staff, they'll give it to you or some other deserving guild member, and you'll feel that warm feeling in the pit of your stomach that either means you've accomplished something worthwhile or you've just eaten an entire cheesecake. Mmmmm. Cheesecake.

Be the most reliable DPS in the guild. Dependable, trustworthy, thrifty, loyal, brave, kind ... essentially, if it's a desirable trait for a member of the Boy Scouts, you want it, plus the ability to throw a mean Pyroblast.

Earning this staff will take a total guild effort. It will require months of work by a large number of devoted people to obtain even a single Dragonwrath. Do you think there's any chance the guild will give such a hard-earned item to somebody who might drop guild at any moment, or to the guy who will quit the game when The Old Republic somes out, or to the guy who ninjaed that one mount that one time, or to the guy who only shows up on raid nights when he feels like it? Here's a slightly longer list of requirements for "most reliable DPS" than we went over last week:

  • Be on time

  • Be there on raid nights, consistently

  • Do your job (decurse, do excellent DPS, manage your threat, don't pull things you shouldn't pull, provide competent CC, etc.)

  • Come prepared (read up on the fights beforehand, bring your own consumables, know your role, etc.)

  • Don't be a douche (this could be its own column. "Arcane Brilliance's guide to not being a giant tool." I sense a three-part epic coming on ...)

  • Help out even on non-progression activities. This means anything that doesn't directly benefit you. Help other guildies out with things. Bring your tank alt along on 5-man runs to shorten queue times even though he outgears the instance. Provide non-dickish advice and answers in guild chat when people ask questions. Show up on PVP night even though PVP isn't your favorite activity. Do things that help toward guild achievements even when nobody knows you're doing them. Be a good person, generally.

  • Be of service. Craft things for guidlies that need them. Provide enchanting/insciption/jewelcrafting services. Hand out flasks before raids. Contribute to the guild bank more than you take out of it.

  • Work on improving yourself when you're not raiding. Farm reputation. Obtain gear upgrades any way you can outside of raids. Make sure you always have the top enchants/gems/glyphs to maximize your DPS output. Study up on ways to tweak your spec/gear setup. Practice. Practice. Hit that target dummy and perfect your spell rotations. Make sure that you're the best possible mage you can be.

There are probably things I'm forgetting, but these are good places to start. Identify parts of your relationship with your guild that could use some polishing, and places where your ability to do excellent DPS fall short, and work on those things.

In closing

Even having done as much as you possibly can, you may not be the only "most reliable DPS" in your guild. You may end up being one of several relatively equal candidates for being awarded this staff. A well-run guild will establish a method beforehand for awarding this staff once your guild earns it. It may be something as simple as a /roll. It may be something more merit-based. If, at the end of everything, you don't end up being the person who gets Dragonwrath, don't feel too bad. Redouble your efforts and make sure that you're in line to get the next one. Because if there's anything a guild should want more than a legendary staff for their best caster, it's two legendary staves for their two best casters.

Just, for God's sake, don't let the warlock have it.

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.