Saturday, September 15, 2007

Arcane Brilliance: Five magetacular mods

It's time again for Arcane Brilliance, your one-stop mage shop for all your magical caster needs. Last time we spoke about the macros mages should know and love, those little additions to your game play that will make you even more uber than you already are. At the end of that article I mentioned we would next talk about the addons that mages simply shouldn't do without, and even the comments in that article mentioned a few (thanks for stealing my thunder guys.)

This isn't to say that as a mage it is required that you use mods when you play. Think of these more as the added features on your luxury sedan, the DVD player and the auto-adjusting seats. The mods I use are an extension of the way I already play, but they don't play the game for me. Try them out, see if they work for you, and let us know how it went. Like I've said before, no one can tell you how to play your class; we can only suggest things that might make playing your class easier or more fun.

Cryolysis: This beauty of a mod is a radial menu that puts every spell you need at your fingertips. The main sphere of the interface can be configured to display info on your health and mana in either numbers or percents, and show your cooldowns on evocation and mana gems.

Cryolysis also has some great alert features, letting you know when your sheep breaks for instance. It gives you a nifty readout that tracks the cooldowns on your spells. You can also have the mod automatically restock your reagents at the vendor so you never run out of that blasted Arcane Powder (not that this has ever happened to me).

Many of the features in this mod seem to be automations of macros I created on my own, for instance the /party alert letting them know you've polymorphed a target, or that you're summoning a portal that will take them to a certain city. All in all, the word for Cryolysis is concise. It coalesces just about everything you do as a mage into one simple menu. I call it beautiful.

WaterboyLoc: Until we get our Water Fountain and Feast Table spells, Waterboy is here to help you provide food and drink to your party or raid. You might think this is too simple to add to the list, but think about all the time you spend making/trading food and water for the 25-man raid, and you'll realize that Waterboy really can be a useful friend.

The menu allows you to summon your consumables and when done you drag them to the box to the right and hit trade. That's it. The addon automatically trades the water or food with your target, saving uber amounts of hassle. The interface will also let you right-click to use the products of your effort, be they mana gems, water or food. Simple, beautiful, and it this version is available with localization for those with French or German clients.

Quartz: Ah Quartz, wherever was I without you? This is one of the most useful mods I have ever loaded into my UI. At its core Quartz is a modular casting bar, and its most powerful component is its latency information. Basically Quartz lets you know when you truly stop casting a spell, based on your current latency. After you install the addon, you go in and create a stopcasting macro for each of your spells (read up on how to do this by looking at the last Arcane Brilliance.) You are then able to stop casting without actually interrupting the spell, and begin to cast the next one immediately. Quartz's latency feature can increase your spell damage by up to one-third because you are simply casting more spells.

The other feature I love to death with Quartz is the multiple casting bars. When I cast Pyroblast, for instance, Quartz puts up a bar that lets me know exactly how long my target is affected by the spell. I've gotten in the habit of looking at these bars almost more than I watch the health of the target. It's a great way to keep track of when the Frost Nova will break, or when you will have to resheep that Naga in Heroic Underbog.

Omen Threat Meter: If you've ever wondered why you keep dying, chances are it's because you're pulling aggro off your tank. A threat meter is the key to keeping you alive, particularly if you are doing decent damage. The key to Omen (or even its low-powered cousin KTM) is having everyone in your party install it. If they are running KTM Omen will read their information, but not the other way around. I find Omen to be more concise, easier to read, and certainly more accurate than KTM. It has a couple of features KTM does not, like that little trick of framing your screen in red when you pull threat off the tank.

Omen is a WoWAce addon, which means you'll need to download the WoWAce updater to get access to it, but you definitely will want to do that because our last entry is also only available through WoWAce, and you can update both with the click of a button.

Decursive 2.0: The big boy is back from the dead, resurrected with a Soulstone of fabulousness. If you have never encountered Decursive before you're in for a real treat, because here is where mage addons began. Long ago Decursive would populate a list for you of who was cursed in your party, and all you had to do was click on their names and the curse would be lifted. Blizzard found this to be too much automation for their tastes and stopped the instant decursing in its tracks. That was a sad, sad day for mages, but luckily Ace2 has provided us with a new and improved version of this very essential mod.

Decursive now has a handy set of clickable little boxes that light red when a party member is cursed, and in addition lets you know when someone is charmed. It also has an auditory alert for when sheep break, quite handy I must say. Just about everything about Decursive 2.0 is easier to deal with now, and I just about passed out with joy when I was able to use this beautiful little number again.

Well, that's about it for this Arcane Brilliance. I have to go update my addons now and then set about farming money to buy enchants for my newly finished Spellfire set. Next time look for a nice chunky discussion on bonuses to spell damage. Until then, may all the mobs you farm be melee, and may your mana pool never run dry.

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