Below, you'll find my thoughts on a number of the more popular mage add-ons out there. Do quality mage add-ons exist that aren't on this list? Of course they do. And I expect you to alert me and every other mage attending this week's IHATEWARLOCKS meeting to those add-ons and their merits.
CombustionHelper I'll begin here simply because I love Oldchap's add-ons so very dearly. CombustionHelper is fully updated for 5.0.4 and Mists, and I still feel like it's entirely indispensable for fire mages. It tracks your DOT effects across multiple targets and alerts you to the amount of damage your last tick did, so you can make an informed decision as to an effective time to hit Combustion. It presents this information in an easy-to understand at a glance manner, and takes a lot of the guesswork out of fire's most difficult rotationary choice. And it comes packaged with two other immensely helpful add-ons:
CauterizeCooldown Warns you when Cauterize has triggered and shows you the cooldown when the next one will be available. Simple, but undeniably handy.
MageBombTracker Keeps track of the level 75 bomb spells on each of their targets, including Flamestrike. Displays the cooldowns for each spell and target. Both of these are bundled with CombustionHelper, but are also available as standalone add-ons.
MageManaBar This is probably my favorite of Oldchap's add-ons, simply because it does so much. The week or so I spent without it before it was updated after the patch was cold, lonely, and full of sorrow. It is essentially a replacement for your normal casting bar, only this one displays so much useful information that trying to go back to the default casting bar will literally cause your brain to atrophy from understimulation. It shows you mana usage, the optimal spot to Evocate without wasting mana, and a similar marker for your Mana Gem usage. It helps every mage optimize their mana usage, but is specifically valuable to arcane mages.
Recount Every mage has one burning question in their minds at all times: How much damage am I doing? And hot on the heels of that question is this one: And is it more damage than the stupid warlock is doing? To find out, you'll want a damage meter, and Recount does the job with aplomb. There are other options out there, so feel free to use the damage meter you prefer.
Quartz If you find MageManaBar too cumbersome, Quartz is a classic, lightweight casting bar replacement that displays your spellcasts, taking latency into account so you have an accurate idea of when your casts will actually go off and when you can safely queue up the next cast.
Omen Threatmeters aren't as essential as they once were, but it's still a good idea to have one, especially during the early stages of a pull, when the tank is still building threat on your kill target. Omen's one of the best out there, but use what you're comfortable with.
Mage Nuggets I love this one. It just packs so many mage-centric quality of life imporvements into one add-on, it's kind of ridiculous. It notifies you intuitively about procs. It provides you with a tiny, infinitely convenient portal/teleport menu button. It gives you a cute little stat monitor, so you can tell at a glance your hit and crit percentage, current buffs, haste, spellpower, mana regen rate, and even the real-time damage buff percentage you're getting from Mana Adept. Timers galore, a Polymorph monitor, Spellsteal notifications, even an automated message to tell someone when you've cast Slow Fall on them. Seriously, if there is a thing you wish the interface did for your mage, chances are good that Mage Nuggets does that thing.
MikScrollingBattleText Helpful simply for the wide range of information it presents to the player. This provides every ounce of information you could ever want about outgoing and incoming damage during combat, and though it is highly customizable, it works quite well for mages out of the box. Parrot is also a very good scrolling combat text mod.
All of these mods are working properly right now, and should be ready for Mists. As with all expansions, last minute variations from the last beta build to the actual live build could cause issues out of the gate, but all of these add-ons are well-supported and should be updated quickly to remedy those issues. Get downloading and make sure you're well equipped for whatever that giant panda-infested turtle might throw at you. I will see you on the other side, and we will share a mana cake and swap stories of warlock kills in Pandaria. Godspeed, fellow mages.
Every week, Arcane Brilliance teleports you inside the wonderful world of mages and then hurls a Fireball in your face. We have you covered for Mists of Pandaria info, including our recent mage talent spec guide, and our guide to glyphs. And be sure to check out our list of reasons to still love our mages after all these years.