Running with Knives
Mom always said, “Ultra…. don’t run with a knife, you’ll fall down and decapitate yourself”. Well, maybe not in those words, but you get the point. I don’t really understand why people would say that, since, as we all know from playing first-person shooters, you always run faster with a knife!!! Which brings me to todays subject, mobility and the mage.
Arcane mages, in my humble opinion, are the Kings of the run and gun fight. I suppose that frost mages can claim a lot of mobility as well, especially in PVP with the oh-so-fun ice lance, but in a raiding situation, mages are the king of the drive by blasting! But how do we keep our cool and stay frosty while we unleash arcane Armegeddon down upon our foes? Lets take Sartharion in the Obsidian Sanctum as an example.
Ah Sartharion, if Hell had an obstacle course, it would look something like the chaos that occurs in this encounter. If you thought that you were the King of NOT standing in blue, red, hot, cold, spicy or refried stuff before, this fight takes it to a whole ‘nother level. Dragon breath (much different than doggy breath), giant lava waves, easily aggroed whelpling and fire elemental adds and the infamous blue void zones all await the poor saps who step into this encounter with visions of purplez dancing in their heads. Now you may ask yourself, how in the name of Ragnaros am I supposed to stand in my spot and dutifully cast ABx3, AM on missle barrage proc. or ABarr on no proc. with all this crap going on around me? The answer is simple Mr. Couch Tater Mage, you can’t. The run and gun is the only answer.
So, the tank has pulled, you have run to your favorite spot and started spamming /wave at your favorite mage buddy and you are waiting for all hell to break lose. What should you do? Luckilly, at least for the first few seconds, you can stand in your favorite spot and go nuts on Sarth if you chose to fight him with no drakes up, or begin pummeling the first drake to land with Arcane insanity if you are going for 1-3 drakes up. Either way, take a deep breath, put on your favorite pair of enchanted Reeboks and get ready for the Mage-o-lympics.
The first obstacle that you will most likely have to deal with is a Lava Wave, or in other words, the big freaking tsunami of molten fire that is now crashing forward at breakneck speed with a whole truckload of raid knockback and mage killing sadness. If you are lucky, you are positioned in such a way that you are facing the wave, see it coming and only have to adjust slightly to get in the middle of the two surfer’s nightmares and live to fight another day. If you are like me and not so lucky, the wave is across the way and you have to MOVE MOVE MOVE to get there. This is where it’s good to be a mage. Simply aim for a spot that doesn’t contain a blue void zone or a gigantic red fire breathing dragon and blink. Not your eyes, but the nifty little spell that makes us all love being a mage that much more. If you have mad skills and timed it right, you are now in the middle of the two waves and good to keep fighting. Luckilly, there are only two places that the waves can come from, the only twist is that they come from opposite sides, so make sure you are looking for the telltale “The lava surrounding Sartharion churns!” announcement and move accordingly.
Obstacle number two are the blue void zones. Normally this wouldn’t be that much of a challenge, but in this particular fight you have two things that work against you, the deadliness of the zones and the small amount of space in which the fighting takes place. If you are unlucky enough to have a blue void zone spawn on top of you, you literally have about a second to get out of it before you are toast. The only cure for this is to break out the Vizene (it gets the red out), stick some toothpics in your eyes and try not to blink (yes, this time not the spell but your eyes). Paying attention to the void zones is of the utmost importance, so just keep moving and stay vigilant, the life you save will be your own.
Obstacle three are the happy little adds that pop out during the encounter. I’m sure different guilds have different means of dealing with this, but these adds are normally either burned down or tanked depending on how many drakes you leave up. If you are asked to AOE any of those adds down, you must use caution at this point. When we do Sarth with 3 drakes, after Vesperon is dead we then have to AOE down the whelplings that spawn in the area. If you aren’t careful and start too soon, you can easily pull aggro off the add tank and end up taking a dirt nap. Game over mage boy, sit down and make some strudel. You will also have to watch out for the flame elementals that run around. If you somehow find yourself with aggro, run towards the add tank and pop an ice block if you have to. The key is survival, and it unlocks lovely lovely lootz, so stay on your toes.
So we’ve covered the obstacles, now, how should we DPS this fight? The honest answer is you have to adjust to the situation as it happens. As the military folk say, “Adapt, Improvise and Overcome”. Can I get a Hooah? I am normally a blinking, arcane barraging, missle slinging mage of doom during this fight. I will stand my ground and try to stack some arcane blasts when I can, but when the inevitable call of “surf’s up” comes, it’s time to take this show on the road. One final note, as crazy as it seems, you can still work in our old friend Mirror Image in this fight. I normally wait until right after a lava wave has passed, then break out the Multi-mages to throw a little extra DPS into the pot. If you are lucky they won’t instantly fall to a void zone and you will get 30 seconds of multimage goodness.
I hope this inspires some new ideas on how to play one of the toughest and most exciting fights in WOTLK thus far, and also on staying mobile in general. As always, if you have some thoughts about this, want to call me out or just say hi, your comments are always welcome here. Until the next time, keep playing it smart! That’s how we roll here in the Arcane Asylum.