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AoE Grinding: Frost Mage Edition

The time has come to share with you the greatness that is Frost Mage AoE Grinding. Grinding on my first Mage was really what solidified my interest in the game. Up to that point I really didn’t care all that much for the game. It was something to do, storyline was decent, play style wasn’t too bad, but overall it was just something else that I could play save that I actually had to pay as I played as well. Up until I started playing the mage I had seriously considered just letting my account expire and go back to playing Diablo II and D&D and leaving this game to my wife and her friend. [Shameless plug: Wife @Fynralyl and her NaNoWriMo Blog and her friend: @Catarith]

But I was reading through one forum or another one day and stumbled onto a thread about AoE Grinding with a Frost Mage and decided to take a look. I got the general idea, hit YouTube for a visual example of what people meant by some of the terms, and then set about doing it myself. I got into it right away and found out that it was in fact a quick and easy process. However, I also noticed that several of the suggestions given were flawed. Some things they told me to do were not effective while others that they told me not to do were actually way more effective than the contrary. So, I gave up on the forums, the blogs, and the YouTube videos and did my own thing. My performance increased greatly and my leveling speed increased right along with it.

So what I am going to share with you today is what I have found to be the most effective way to perform AoE Grinding with a Frost Mage. I invite anyone who has done this themselves to join in with any thoughts, suggestions, experiences, and so forth that they have had as well. If you find something works better for you then go ahead and share it. If you disagree with something I’ve said then bring that up too.

Advice You Should Ignore
There are a lot of things that you will find in guides around the net that are not true. People will give you suggestions on how to spend your talents or which spells to cast or avoid, and while all information can help you improve on what you’re doing or prompt you to try something you hadn’t thought of before, that doesn’t mean that the information they give you is correct. Here I will cover some of the advice that I suggest you ignore. Take note of the fact that the statements I just made apply to me as well – this worked for me, but you may well find that it sucks for you and that you would rather go down the paths I tell you to avoid.

Misconceptions The following are all topics you will find discussed on forums and in blogs. I’ll tell you what many of those blogs say that I feel is wrong and then tell you what my thoughts on them are as well.

Frostbite Talent: Almost every AoE grinding guide you’ll find for Frost Mages will tell you not to take this because it will mess up your pulls. This is, by far, one of the single most effective grinding tools that the class has to offer.

Mana Shield: All of those guides that I just told you who don’t use Frostbite also tell you to use this worthless piece of crap of a spell. Blizzard has the highest mana cost of any spell you’re ever going to cast, and if you get a big pull and then find out you don’t have the mana to fire that bad boy off, then you’re well beyond screwed. You better hope you’ve got your running shoes with you. Forget this thing exists unless you’re in PvP.

Icy Veins: You’re also going to find a lot of guides that tell you that this is crucial to your grinding. Fact is, it’s not crucial at all. Don’t get me wrong, it certainly helps and can speed things up when it’s not on cooldown, but it is by no means crucial. Take the talent when you don’t have more important things to pick up instead. It’s great for having Blizzard do all of its damage in a short time, or firing off your Evocation in a shorter time, but it’s not necessary and I do most of my grinding without ever using it.

Frost AoE: General Information
If you have read my Paladin AoE Guides then you will know that I mentioned that there is no set rotation for AoE grinding with Paladins. For the Mage, it is pretty much the same. There are certain spells that you are going to cast, but not a specific order in which you are going to cast them as each pull and each situation can change what you have to do and how you have to react.

However, just like the Paladin’s guides, there are general steps that are always taken in pretty well the same order. I already mentioned the order in the Mage Leveling: 21-39 post: [Pull], Corral, Freeze, Distance, Blizzard, Clean Up

One difference that I will note right off the bat between Mage AoE and Paladin AoE is that I do not including Pulling as part of my rotation on a Mage where I do include it as a Paladin. With the mage you want everything in one spot and you want it to stay there, so pulling other mobs into the mix is generally a bad idea. So as a general rule of thumb, when you’re grinding with a Mage as soon as you’ve pulled the mobs you want, finish them off before you pull any more.

Getting Ready: Before you even begin to pull the mobs there are a couple of things you need to do. First thing’s first – Always, ALWAYS make sure you have enough mana to do what you’re about to do. Nothing sucks more than pulling a group of mobs, freezing them in place, and then wondering why Blizzard isn’t casting and then noticing you started the pull with 50 mana… Never go into a fight without mana. Second, make sure you’ve got your armor on. Personally, I suggest you go with Frost Armor when doing your AoE. Once you hit level 40 you will also have Ice Barrier, and I suggest you cast that as well as it will absorb most of the blows you take while pulling.

Once you’ve got your armor on and your mana’s up, then go ahead and start your pull.

Step 1: Pull There are various method of pulling mobs, but with mounts now available at level 20, which also happens to be when you get your AoE spell, Blizzard, the good old fashion Body Pull method is going to be your best bet. It’s not your only option, but it will generally be the best one you’ve got. So jump on your mount and run near all of the mobs that you want to AoE and allow yourself to draw agro simply by moving within their agro range. There are other methods that you can use depending on your situation which include casting a single Frostbolt on multiple mobs that are spread out, using Polymorph on a central mob and then pulling the others to it, and several others. Once you get into your 60’s you’ll have Ice Lance which is great for pulling, but otherwise stick to the body pulls.

Step 2: Corral For you city folks, you might note that corralling is basically the same thing as gathering up or grouping together, so that’s what you’re doing here if you aren’t familiar with the term. You need to gather up all of the mobs that you’ve pulled and get them bunched up together so that your Frost Nova will hit all of them.

This isn’t necessarily done by casting a spell so much as simply by running around towards or through the mobs that you’re pulling so that they all move closer together. The easiest way to corral the mobs does involve casting a spell, and that spell is Ice Block. I don’t use the method very often myself because I’m proficient in corralling as part of my pulling, but if you have a hard time doing it then just cast your Ice Block and go with that. By using Ice Block you make yourself immune to everything and the mobs will all run up to melee your block of ice until the spell wears off or you cancel it.

I suggest you practice corralling as part of your pulling, which is simply moving around so that the mobs get closer together, rather than relying on Ice Block as it has a cooldown that is far too long to rely upon it for every pull.

Call this step whatever you want to help you remember it. When I talked about AoE with a Paladin I didn’t bother including a Corral step because the paladin doesn’t give a crap where you are so long as you’re close to him. A Mage though, needs all of the mobs close together and he needs them there at the same time. So, I’m adding a step here that didn’t exist for the Paladin to help emphasize that point.

Step 3: Freeze The next thing on your list is to freeze the mobs in place. Your most reliable method of doing this is going to be by casting Frost Nova. It is possible to freeze them all with Cone of Cold if you put your talent points in Frostbite like I told you to, but I certainly wouldn’t rely on that. Stick with Frost Nova as it’s going to work every time so long as it hits.

As you get higher in levels you will get talent points that increase your critical hit chance, and your critical hit damage while your targets are frozen, which makes this all go a whole lot faster and smoother. But, the main reason for freezing them in place is so that you can get your distance and then cast Blizzard to hit them all at once so that you’re not wasting mana or time.

Step 4: Distance The next item of business is to put some distance between yourself and the mobs. You can do this one of two ways: cast Blink, or run. Personally, I just run a short distance and then call it good. Some people find that casting Blink is the way to go, but I disagree. The only time I use Blink instead of just running is when I am either Dazed, Stunned, or Rooted by the mobs that I am pulling. If none of those three things are happening, then I simply run and call it good.

There are a few flaws in using Blink that keep it from being my chosen method. You can accidentally blink into other mobs causing you to over pull, you can Blink over a glitched section of ground so that you basically waste the spell as you gain little or no distance at all, you can Blink into a glitch that causes you to fall through the world and die, or you can Blink out of the range of Blizzard causing you to run back towards them and waste whatever time you might have saved otherwise. I thought that Blizzard had fixed the glitches that send you falling through the world, but it happened to me last week in Redridge, so I know it’s still possible.

Step 5: Blizzard The spell, not the company. With your enemies safely frozen in a nice little corral of their soon-to-be death, cast Blizzard and let destruction rain (snow?) down upon your enemies. When you cast Blizzard make sure you put the far edge of the spell’s area as close to you as possible. In other words, try to leave as much of the spell’s area that isn’t on the mobs closer to you so that if the mobs break out of their freeze they still have to run through your Blizzard to get to you.

If you have taken Frostbite and Improved Blizzard then each time your Blizzard hits them it has a chance to freeze them again as well. Sometimes a mob will manage to escape your Blizzard without being frozen again (and again, and again), but even though you only have a 15% chance to freeze them from Frostbite, each spike from Blizzard has a chance to trigger that 15% chance so it happens a lot more than you would expect from such a small number. But, since it is a chance rather than a guarantee you never know how it might turn out.

Step 6: Clean Up Clean Up is where you have to make a decision and why a set rotation doesn’t actually exist. This is where you have to make a judgement call based on the situation.

If you still have multiple mobs that are still alive and they are not close to dying, then you either want to repeat Step 5 by casting another Blizzard, or go back to Step 3 and try to refreeze them if your Frost Nova is not on cool down.

If you have multiple mobs that are close to dying then I generally suggest you finish them off with Cone(s) of Cold or Arcane Explosion(s). Because of the extra benefits of your Frost talents I would generally suggest you use Cone of Cold for this if you know you can catch them all in it’s area, but if not then go ahead and use Arcane Explosion instead. You have more potential benefit from using CoC, but AE is the safer route if you’d rather do that for getting started.

Visual Representation
Rather than going with specific examples as I did with the Paladin series, I’m going to give you a bit more visual look at how things are done. Some of my other fellow bloggers have picked up this method, so I figured I would give it a shot myself to see how well it works for me.

Pull (a body pull using a mount)
Pull

Corral (grouping the mobs simply by positioning yourself in a central area)
Corral

Freeze (using Frost Nova, or a Water Elemental’s Freeze spell)
Freeze

Distance (by running, or casting Blink)
Distance

Blizzard (there’s only one Blizzard, ladies and gents – only one)
Blizzard

Clean Up (Arcane Explosion in this case, Cone of Cold or other spells work too)
CleanUp

 
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Posted by on November 18, 2009 in Guide, Leveling, Mage

 

Tags: ,

Mage Leveling Part II: 21-39

Part I: Beginning

Once you get to level 20 some parts of your leveling will become easier, and some will not. The first change that you are going to find is that having the ability to teleport all over the world is absolutely amazing. It’s probably my favorite trait of the class overall. For that matter, it’s my favorite trait of every class in the game.

One change you are going to find with your questing and such is that being able to AoE grind through your quests is going to make them fly by a whole lot faster. Some quests are not impacted by AoE grinding at all, like ones that have you bring back Mr. Mob’s head, or ones where you have to deliver an item from Location A to Location B (though teleporting can help with that), and so on. But a lot of quests involve killing a certain number of specific mobs or collecting a number of items that drop from certain mobs. These are the ones where AoE grinding really shines and where your leveling process starts burning some serious fuel.

Where you level is not especially important, just try to focus questing to some degree in areas that have a lot of mobs grouped together that are melee mobs rather than ranged attackers or spell casters. My first Mage leveled through the 20’s in Hillsbrad Foothills much like my Paladin did. The Mage I am leveling right now did these levels, mostly, in Ashenvale. If you want to follow my path then feel free, but as long as you are questing in an area that is level-appropriate for you then you should be just fine. Just remember to stay away from the caster mobs and ranged attackers as they are the only ones that pose any real threat; at least from an AoE standpoint. If you’re going against mobs 1v1 then by all means just kill everything you see.

Scope
This post is about playing your mage and getting them leveled up to 39. I am going to talk about AoE grinding a bit, but that’s not the focus of this post. That will be in the next post in this series where I discuss the particulars of grinding. If you want to find out about how to AoE with a Frost Mage then you should probably look at that post rather than this one. AoE Grinding: Frost Mage Edition

Here I am going to show you how to spend your talent points, which glyphs you should get, what spells you should cast or avoid, general rotations, etc. So the scope of this post is the mechanics of leveling a mage, not the technique of casting your spells.

Important Spells

Levels 21-30
magespells1

Counterspell (level 24) This is an excellent spell that should always be somewhere on your screen. I don’t necessarily recommend it be on your primary action bar, but have it somewhere that you can access it. It’s great for PvE (when facing casters), and it’s excellent for PvP. Check the macro section down below for this one.

Conjure Mana Gem (level 28) This spell creates a gem that you carry around in your bags that acts just like a mana potion, restoring amounts of mana that scale with your level. The gems you make early on in the game are always single use, but as you get to end game you will mage gems that have three uses. Creating a gem costs more mana than it returns, so note that it’s something that should be prepared ahead of time.

Ice Block (level 30) This is your first “oh crap” button. It throws a solid block of ice around you for the duration making you immune to, well, everything. The drawback to it is that you’re stuck there until it wears off or you cancel the spell. Use it when you pull too much, when you have Frostbite proc in the middle of a pull that can’t be fixed, when you’re about to die, when you’re covered in DoTs/Poisons/Disease, when you fall off a cliff and can’t find Slow Fall, or when you want to see yourself in a funny little pose since it keeps you exactly as you were when you cast it. If you have the Glyph of Ice Block, use it any time you need to reset your Frost Nova cooldown. And do not feel like you have to wait out its duration. If it’s accomplished what you need it to, feel free cancel the spell early and go back to your business.

mage2
Teleport: Darnassus/Thunderbluff (level 30) At level 30 you get access to your faction’s Druid city teleport. I don’t know what the reasoning is for putting these off until level 30, but apparently Blizzard does.

Levels 31-39
mage3
Mage Armor (level 34) gives you Resist Magic 5 which isn’t great, but not bad, and also allows you to regenerate 50% of your regular mana regen during combat. A lot of people love this spell and use it in place of Frost Armor. I rarely use it myself, but it’s still a decent spell.

mage4

mage5
Alliance
Teleport & Portal: Theramore (level 35) Here you are able to both teleport and open portals for your party to travel to Theramore. This portal actually sells pretty frequently for me on my Alliance server as it’s an easier way for people to travel to that portion of the world. Tips for portals vary on every server, so you’ll have to see for yourself how much gold you might be able to make off of it. On my Ally server this portal sells for 3-5g and I see people asking in trade chat for it every other day or so.

Portals: Stormwind, Ironforge, Exodar (level 40) You can now open portals for your party members to be teleported to these major cities. Selling portals is an easy way to make a few gold, but again it varies on each server. My Alliance server still sells all portals and these typically bring in a 10g fee each. You don’t get the portal for Darnassus for a few more level yet, but that one sells for the same.

Horde
Teleport & Portal: Stonard (level 35) You are able to both teleport and open portals for your party to travel to Stonard. This portal used to sell almost constantly as it was the shortest way for you to reach Outlands for the first time since it’s just north of the Dark Portal. Now that those portals exist in every major city you might as well forget the fact that this one exists. I do find an occasional request for it from groups that want to run through Sunken Temple on my old Horde server, but for the most part people just don’t need it anymore.

Portals: Orgrimmar, Undercity, Silvermoon (level 40) You can now open portals for your party members to be teleported to these major cities. Selling portals is an easy way to make a few gold, but again it varies on each server. On my Horde server the only portals you ever really see people asking for are Org and TB, with an occasional ask for Undercity as well. The only time you ever see anyone ask for Silvermoon is when there’s a holiday event going on. For my Horde servers you’re lucky if you can get 2g for a port to any of the Horde’s major cities.

Leveling 21-30
Rotation Option 1: Frostbolt, Frostbolt, Frostbolt, Fire Blast
Rotation Option 2: Frostbolt, Frostbolt, Frostbolt, Frostbolt
Rotation Option 3: Frostbolt, Frostbolt, Cone of Cold, Frostbolt
Explanation: This will pretty well be the rotation you use for the rest of the game for single mobs. Basically your life revolves around Frostbolt spamming and throwing out a Fire Blast or Cone of Cold to finish them off.

As you may notice, at this point Fireball is completely gone from my rotations and it will see very little, if any, use throughout the rest of my playing. The only time I go back to Fireball from this point on is when I am fighting a mob that is resistant or immune to Frost damage.

If you feel a need to throw a Frost Nova out there to stop a mob that’s rushing into melee range then feel free to do so. If you like Cone of Cold more than Fire Blast then feel free to use it as well. I generally stick to using Fire Blast as my finishing move, but as you get higher in levels and mobs start having more hit points I begin to use Cone of Cold more frequently for the sake of having more chances to proc Frostbite and freezing the mob in place. Doing this gives you a chance of ending many of your fights without taking a single hit.

Remember that you have your Mana Gem for when you need to restore your mana. Unless you’re in the middle of a horrible pull and already running out of mana then using the Gem by itself should give you enough to finish the fight. If you need more mana than that, then feel free to use a Mana Potion in addition to the gem.

Leveling 31-39
Rotation Option 1: Frostbolt, Frostbolt, Frostbolt, Fire Blast
Rotation Option 2: Frostbolt, Frostbolt, Frostbolt, Frostbolt
Rotation Option 3: Frostbolt, Frostbolt, Cone of Cold, Frostbolt
Explanation: Nothing new here.

You don’t get any new offensive spells in this range, you just get higher ranks of the ones you’ve already got. Refer back to the section above for specifics.

General Tactics

There is one thing in particular that I want to point out right now. As you begin gaining more levels the mobs you are fighting are going to gain more hit points which will require you to cast more spells due to the fight taking longer. The longer a fight lasts, the more likely the mobs are to close in and start attacking you. Do not be afraid to stop casting a spell in order to save yourself. It’s alright to take off running half a second before your Frostbolt goes off. There’s nothing wrong with that; especially if you are close to dying. It’s perfectly acceptable to run away like a little girl, screaming your head off while you wait for Frost Nova’s cooldown to pop so that you can freeze the mob in place and then get back to killing him. There’s also nothing wrong with throwing a Frost Nova the second the mob comes within range and running away all together.

For a Frost Mage a strong offense truly is the best defense you can have. You defend yourself by attacking your enemies and slowing them down or freezing them in place. You don’t have to constantly be on the move and you don’t have to kite every mob that you face, but the abilities that you have give you the time and the opportunity to almost completely control the field.

I’m going to introduce now a tactic I like to call Run Through. It’s most effective when using either Frost Nova or Cone of Cold (or Dragon’s Breath if you’re a Fire Mage). It’s best represented in Rotation Option #3 up above. Assuming that you do not get a Frostbite proc from your Frostbolts, the mob is generally going to arrive near to melee range close to when your second Frostbolt is cast or in the middle of the third. I like to be aggressive on my Frost mage, so I take right to the mob’s face; so if he’s closing in after my second cast I don’t wait for the third cast I just start running into him after the second.

As you get close to the mob cast Cone of Cold and keep right on running through them. You can then cast Blink if you want or just keep on running a ways before turning around and going back to Frostbolts to finish them off. This is going to accomplish a few things 1 you’re going to deal additional damage with an instant cast, 2 you are going to put distance between yourself and the mob, and 3 you have yet another chance to proc Frostbite and freeze the target in place.

By running through a mob to do this you also open up the option of them causing a Frostbite proc from hitting you with a melee attack while you have Frost Armor on which will freeze them in place for you and make your job a whole lot easier. If you remember back in Part I, I mentioned that my hit points are just another resource for me to use, and this is what I mean by that. I’m giving away a few hit points by giving the mob a chance to hit me, but what I’m gaining out of the deal is another chance to proc Frostbite.

AoE Grinding: Frost Mage Edition
Here are your basics of AoE Grinding with a Frost Mage. For more details you will need to refer to the next post in this series which will discuss the details of AoE grinding across all levels.

Generally speaking you want to pull a group of mobs, at least 3, into a central location, Frost Nova to freeze them in place, and then move out of melee range before casting Blizzard. Now, that’s a very generalized version of it, but it’s essentially what it is. There are a lot of tricks that you can use to help you in this, and sometimes you have to sacrifice your cooldowns to make some of them work.

Step 1: Pull The first thing you have to do for any type of AoE grinding is pull the mobs. The easiest way to do this is to jump on your mount and ride around into all of their threat ranges.

Step 2: Corral The second thing you have to do is get them all bunched up together. If you’re still on your mount then ride away, turning a bit here and there to get the mobs next to the others. It’s a bit hard to explain how to do that, but practicing will help you understand. The point is to get all of the mobs close enough to each other, and to you, that a single Frost Nova will catch all of them.

Step 3: Freeze The third thing you have to do is stop them from moving. The best option for this Frost Nova, though at later levels your Water Elemental gets an ability called Freeze which is a ranged Frost Nova that works just as well if not better. Be aware that in this stage you will occasionally miss some of the mobs. It’s good to have items with +Hit on them for doing this, but they aren’t required. You don’t miss very often and even when you do it can still be managed.

Step 4: Distance The fourth thing is putting distance between yourself and the mobs. The traditional way of doing this is to use Blink to teleport yourself a short distance away. However, Blink is not 100% reliable and can often teleport you right into another mob, or group of mobs, if you haven’t been keeping an eye on your surroundings. Personally, I don’t Blink at this point unless the mobs have managed to Daze me which makes you move slower. If I’m not dazed or otherwise rooted in place (nets, webs, etc) then I simply run. I run about 10 yards away and then turn around. Whatever method you choose to use for moving, be sure to turn around and face the mobs when you’re done. The optimum distance is twice the size of your Blizzard’s AoE circle or just slightly further. Going too far means that the mobs will be out of range for Blizzard, while not going far enough means melee mobs will be hitting you in the face while you cast.

Step 5: Blizzard Now it’s time to cast your Blizzard and watch the pretty numbers fly by as they all start to die. You want to position your Blizzard so that all of the mobs (or at least all that you can manage) fall within the area of the damage. You also want the furthest edge of Blizzard’s effect to be as close to you as possible. When a mob is frozen, that freeze breaks after they’ve taken a certain amount of damage, and Blizzard deals a lot of damage. So by keeping the area as close as possible it means that when their freeze breaks they still have to walk through the AoE damage to get to you. Since we also have at least one point in the Improved Blizzard talent (minimum level 20) your Blizzard now has a chill effect that will slow the mobs down. And since we have points in the Frostbite talent, every spell with a chill effect has the ability to freeze the target in place. And every time Blizzard deals damage it chills them, meaning that every time it hits it has a chance to proc Frostbite.

Step 6: Clean Up After you’ve cast your Blizzard you need to decide what’s next. If the mobs are still alive then you have to finish them off. You can do that by either casting another Blizzard if they have a lot of health, or casting Arcane Explosion of Cone of Cold if they just have a little bit of health left. If the mobs are already dead, then your only form of clean up is collecting your loot.

Notes
If you are fighting caster mobs in addition to melee, then pulling them and rounding them up into a single group isn’t going to be as easy. Until level 30 your only real option is to have the caster’s location be where you coral all of the rest of the mobs, or to line of sight the caster and coral everyone there.

At level 30 you get an excellent spell called Ice Block. It freezes you in place and makes you immune to everything for its duration. The great thing about being immune to everything is that caster mobs will move into melee range and just start attacking the ice, as will everything else. This gives you a coral method to use when facing casters as well. If you happen to be using the Glyph of Ice Block (level 30) then every time you use Ice Block it resets/removes the cooldown on Frost Nova so that you can immediately cast Frost Nova again. If my pull has gone bad I’ll use Ice Block just to let everyone come to me and start all over again.

Another thing to note about Ice Block is that it gives you a great opportunity to change the direction you’re heading after a Pull. When you go to initiate your Coral you can use Ice Block to do it and then rotate your camera to take a look around the area. Find which direction is clear of mobs so that you know which way you’re running, and have that be the direction you go when you pop out to initiate your Freeze. Playing with an AoE Mage was the reason I turned off the Smart Pivot option in my UI > Camera options. If you’re not familiar with that, it’s what causes your camera to rotate to the direction your character is facing if you rotate the camera with a click-and-drag left click. It allows me to look in any direction, for as long as I want, without having to hold down my mouse button to keep it there. If you aren’t aware, the default settings allow you to hold down both the left and right mouse buttons to run, and when doing that it causes you to run whichever direction the mouse moves. So if you hold down the two mouse buttons coming out of an Ice Block you will run the direction that your camera is facing instead of the direction that your character is facing. When you do it, go ahead and shake the mouse left and right just a hair when you first come out because it’s the movement of the mouse while the right button is down that forces your character to turn that way, but the turn is instant so once the character takes off running the way you want them to you can stop moving the mouse and use whatever method(s) of movement you use normally.

Explanation
Because we’ve combined Frostbite with Improved Blizzard, we have the chance to constantly freeze the mobs in place during your Blizzard. That is why Frostbite is so essential to a good Frost leveling spec even though so many other people claim to hate it. If you find that Frostbite is messing up your pulls then the answer to that is simple, remove your Frost Armor before you pull. If you don’t have Frost Armor up (or Ice Barrier after level 40) then you aren’t going to freeze the mobs in place during a pull because there are not chill effects to make it happen.

I personally keep my Frost Armor spell on all the time, regardless of whether or not it might proc Frostbite and “ruin” my pulls, because I can handle the pulls that other mages apparently feel are dangerous. As I said, if my pull goes a bit bad, then I’ll just Ice Block and let them mobs come to me and then Frost Nova once the Ice Block is over. The duration of Ice Block lasts longer than all of your freezing abilities, so the mobs will break free before your Ice Block wears off. If you use the Glyph of Ice Block then your Frost Nova will already be available when IB wears off so you pop your Frost Nova and then jump right back into the steps above starting at #4-Distance.

If none of those options work because something else comes along and fouls it all up, then welcome to being in a world you don’t control! In this case, put your true mage skills to the test and kick the crap out of them anyway. You’ve got a ton of tools at your disposal to handle the mobs you’re facing, so put them to use. If you need to sheep one, then do it. If you need to Cone of Cold to try to proc Frostbite for Blizzard, then do it. If you need to run around in circles while you wait for Frost Nova to cool down again, then do it. If you want to Arcane Explosion spam hoping to slay them all anyway, then do it. If you took the Glyph of Evocation at 20 as I suggested, then try to run around until Frost Nova is up again, freeze them in place, and then hit your Evocation to restore 60% of your health and mana, and then slay them all.

If the crap hits the fan, then turn the sucker on high and start flinging that crap wherever you can until you’re either the last one standing or you’re all alone in the graveyard. These are the moments that help you grow more confident in your ability to solo content, or that teach you what mistakes not to make again.

I love screwing up an AoE pull with way more mobs than I could take on otherwise and still pull it off without a single Blizzard being cast. I’ve taken out 8 mobs with nothing but Frost Novas, Cones of Cold, and Fire Blasts while running around in circles because my attempts to freeze the mobs kept missing or not freezing. It’s not always easy, but it sure is fun when you come out of it still standing.

Macro Suggestions
There are a few new macros to bring to your attention at this point.

Counterspell: Cancel whatever spell you might be casting and immediately cast Counterspell.
#showtooltip
/stopcasting
/cast Counterspell

Ice Block: Stop whatever you’re doing and cast Ice Block
#showtooltip
/stopcasting
/cast Ice Block

Sometimes a big spell is about to go off and it needs to not happen. If stopping that spell is potentially more important than casting the one you’re on, then make the call and counter the spell. Heals and Mana Burns are the primary target for this unless you’re low on health and need to stop a dps spell from killing you.

Ice Block sometimes has to be cast on the fly simply to save your life rather than to help you in your AoE grinding. When that is the case, don’t bother with trying to get that one last spell off, just throw the barrier up and deal with the situation once it wears off.

Talent Points and Glyphs: Level 21-39

magespec39

Starting at level 21, this is how I would suggest spending your talent points.
Ice Floes +1 (3/3) Reduces the cooldown of Frost Nova, Cone of Cold, Ice Block, and Icy Veins by 20%.

Piercing Ice 3/3 +2/4/6% damage to all Frost spells.

Shatter 3/3 +17/34/50% critical strike chance against targets who are frozen.

Arctic Reach 2/3 +14/20% range to Frost Bolt, Ice Lance, Deep Freeze, and Blizzard spells and +20% radius to Frost Nova and Cone of Cold spells.

Cold Snap 1/1 Resets the cooldown of all Frost Spells.

Icy Veins 1/1 +20% spell haste and reduces pushback on channeled spells by 100% for 20 seconds.

Frost Channeling 3/3 -4/7/10% Mana cost of all Frost spells and reduces threat generated by Frost spells by 4/7/10%.

Winter’s Chill 3/3 Gives +3 chance to crit with Frostbolt, and a 33/66/100% chance that your Frost spells will increase your chance to crit the target by 1%, stacks up to 5 times.

Cold As Ice 2/2 Reduces the cooldown of your Cold Snap, Ice Barrier, and Summon Water Elemental spells by 10/20%.

Ice Floes is simply there to reduce the time on our cooldowns. Every spell that it effects is useful for AoE grinding as well as leveling in general, so reducing the cooldowns on those is great. Piercing Ice is just a general increase to all of our damage; the more damage you do, the few spells you have to cast. Shatter is going to increase the chance to crit when targets are frozen by 50%. That’s a huge boost to our crit and since every spell you’re going to use has a chance of freezing your target, that means you’ve got a whole lot of potential for landing crits. Shatter is the reason why we want Frostbite.

Arctic Reach helps with the range at which we can cast our spells. That means you can get off more Frostbolts before an enemy can close in on you, and it means you can cast your Blizzards from a greater distance as well. In addition to that it increases the radius of Frost Nova and Cone of Cold. The increased radius is crucial to what you do as a Frost Mage, but it’s also a hard thing to judge because neither of these spells shows you visibly how large their radius is to being with. It’s something you’re going to have to learn on your own and just become aware of. With practice you’ll start picking it up instinctively and you’ll just know when you can catch someone with it and when you can’t.

Cold Snap is easily one of the best talents you ever get. It completely resets all of your Frost spells and makes them available to you again. So you can blow all of your cooldowns, hit Cold Snap, and they’re all right back ready to use again. Icy Veins is a great spell for two reasons: 1 the increase spell haste means all of your Blizzard damage happens in a shorter amount of time (or other spells if you’re fighting single mobs), and 2 removing the effect of pushback means that you get the full bang from your mana-buck from your Blizzard even if you’re getting punched in the face while you do it. I don’t cast it on every Blizzard, but there’s nothing wrong with using it every chance you get. The haste from Icy Veins also works on your Evocation, by the way, so if you need to refill your life/mana in a pinch that’s the way to get it done.

Frost Channeling is last up on the list. The reduced mana here is the primary reason for taking the talent as Blizzard is a huge mana cost spell. The reduced threat is nice when you’re running with groups though it serves no purpose at all when soloing. Winter’s Chill is a stacking debuff on the target that gives you an additional 1-5% chance to crit each time you hit them with a Frost spell. The extra crit chance goes for all spells, not just Frost, but Frost spells are what stacks it from 1-5%. Cold As Ice is strictly to lower the time on your cooldowns.

Glyphs for Leveling
The only glyph slot that is going to open up for you at this level range will open up at level 30.

I recommend the Glyph of Ice Block for level 30 which resets your Frost Nova cooldown when you use Ice Block. It’s great for AoE grinding so that you can make sure that your pulls go off as smoothly as possible.

Some people prefer to go with Mage Armor here instead to get mana regeneration during combat, but since I prefer using Frost Armor I don’t personally recommend it. Since I can summon my own water on the fly and have mana gems I don’t really care about regenerating mana during combat. There’s nothing wrong with it, it’s just not my personal play style.

Gearing Up for Spellcasting
Your gear priorities don’t change: stack Spell Power and Intellect, take Stam/Hit/Crit when you can find it, and the other things don’t really matter. Hit becomes increasingly important as you level, so take it when you see it if it’s not going to cost you too much Spell Power or Int.

Again, Tailoring can provide a lot of useful upgrades for you around this level so you might want to check with a Tailor if you aren’t one yourself.

You are still going to be more likely to find a good staff at these levels that a one hander plus an off hand item, but just go with whichever you find that can give you better stats. A lot of the Inscription off-hand items open up during this level range which can give you additional spell power, so if you find a nice off hand go ahead and take it, but you’re still more likely to find a better staff overall.

And as always, keep an eye out for good wands that provide stats. If you find that you are actually using your staff for anything other than killing off mobs that are low on health, then you’re probably doing something wrong; like using Mana Shield for anything other than PvP.

Suggested Instances
I would highly suggest in your twenties that you run through either Deadmines (VC) or Shadowfang Keep (SFK) (both, if you can manage it) for good gear during those levels. You can find a staff, gloves and ring in VC, and excellent robes in SFK that will last you well into your 30’s.

In your thirties, Scarlet Monastery is the place to be. You will get gear from here that will last you into your 50’s. You can get inside the doors of all four sections at level 20 if you have someone run you through, or you can start joining LFG for it at level 28. For a mage you can find shoulders or an off-hand item in SM:Graveyard, a great robe and an excellent staff in SM:Library, and while SM:Armory offers very little, there are a couple of items in SM:Cathedral that can really help you out as well. Primarily SM:GY and SM:Lib are the areas for you to focus on, and both of them can be ran with a group of people around level 30 with little problem. Especially with your AoE skills.


Edit: (10/29/09) Added level listing for spending talent points.
Edit: (10/30/09) Finished Ice Block section near the spell description at the top and added Ice Block information to General Tactics section as well.

 
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Posted by on October 29, 2009 in Guide, Leveling, Mage

 

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Your First Time Tanking: Northrend Edition

[Update] I have reviewed Divine Plea and its use as a buff rather than an emergency button for mana, and found it to be extremely efficient. I have added it to a new section of the Spells to Know for Preparation Spells.[/Update]

I am going to try running a three part series here on how to tank instances for the first time. A lot of people still prefer to level up as Ret rather than Prot, even if they fully intend to be tanks when they hit level 80. When the time finally does come to switch over and try out the tanking spec they really don’t know how to play the class in a tanking fashion, how the abilities should be used, and so on and so forth.

One of my Twitter friends, Brajana, who also runs an excellent WoW blog called Mend Pet, asked me about tanking Northrend instances for the first time and since she is already in Northrend, I decided I would start there first.

The following items will be discussed in particular:

  • Spells to Know
  • Tanking Spec
  • Tanking Glyphs
  • Starter Tanking Gear
  • Tanking Tactics
  • Tanking Rotations

Spells to Know
I know that this list is long, but I want to give you the details that you are going to need to be a successful tank. You don’t have to have all of this information memorized, I simply provide it for you here as a reference.

Spells with a triple-asterisk (***) beside them are crucial.

Take a look at each section to at least familiarize yourself with the spells to know what you have available to you and to get an idea of what you are capable of doing with a hybrid class.

Pulling Spells
Avenger’s Shield***
Exorcism
Hand of Reckoning

When pulling mobs in Northrend instances, Avenger’s Shield is my primary choice for pulling more than one mob. With 3 points in the Shield of the Templar talent, your Avenger’s Shield has a 100% chance to silence the targets you hit, which helps you keep the groups together easier so that your AoE damage can more easily generate threat on as many targets as possible.

If Avenger’s Shield is on cooldown, I go ahead and pull with Exorcism instead. Very rarely do I actually pull with Hand of Reckoning unless I already have a group and want to pull another group over to me as well.

If I am about to pull a boss, and the boss happens to be either Undead or Demon then I pull with Exorcism instead of Avenger’s Shield.

Preparation Spells
Divine Plea

These are spells that you should cast just before you go into combat. Either right before your pull, or immediately after.

Divine Plea is another key in having a never ending pool of mana. It’s only 25% of your total mana when you cast it, but if you have taken the talent spec that I suggested, then every time you get hit it will refresh itself. When you are constantly gaining 25% of your mana, you’re basically never running out. If you glyph for it as I suggested, then you also have damage that you take reduced by 3% any time its active. So if you run into combat with it already on, then you’re not only regaining your mana but you’re also taking less damage.

Divine Plea can still work as your “oh crap” button for mana, especially when you are fighting mobs with mana burn. Having tested it now, I certainly don’t think you should simply hold this one back for dire circumstances. Instead, throw this baby on right before you head into combat and then make sure it stays there. If it’s constantly refreshed, then you don’t have to recast it. If it does fall off, just throw it on again and keep right on tanking.

Attack/Rotation Spells
Holy Shield***
Hammer of the Righteous***
Judgement of Wisdom or Judgement of Light***
Shield of Righteousness***
Consecration***

This list is laid out in the general order of what people refer to as the “96969” rotation. Note that the Glyph of Consecration can throw the 969 rotation off because it lengthens both the duration and the cooldown by two seconds.

Holy Shield should typically be your first spell you cast after pulling the mobs, preferrably immediately after you cast the spell to pull them. If you pull by stepping into their agro range rather than using a pulling spell, then this should be cast as soon as you notice you’ve pulled. This spell is going to increase your Chance to Block and also deal extra damage to the mobs you block.

Hammer of the Righteous is going to deal damage to up to three targets (four if you take my advice and glyph for it), and all of that damage is Holy, which means it’s all counted towards your threat.

Judgement of Wisdom/Light is how you keep yourself full of mana and health respectively. If you find yourself running out of mana then use JoW. If you find your health dropping quickly, then use JoL instead. Both of them have their uses, and which one you need more should take priority. While leveling, I found JoW to be needed more often, but while running instances in Northrend I find that JoL is needed more often because my mana is almost always at 100%. You should be familiar with how these work by now.

Shield of Righteousness is used to deal damage to a single target, helping you to build a higher level of threat on that target as well as damaging it down faster. You get this spell at level 75, so if you are not yet high enough just remove it from your rotation and replace it with other spells you have available such as Exorcism.

Consecrate is your bread and butter spell. Every paladin gets it at level 20, so you should be familiar with its use. This spell is going to deal more damage than anything else (as you can see from the Recount image at the bottom) and it is also going to be your primary source of threat generation on everything within 8 yards of where you cast it.

Threat Stealing Spells (Taunts)
Righteous Defense***
Hand of Salvation
Hand of Protection (actual link coming soon)

[Update] As Cassini pointed out in his comment, these abilities are what we call Taunts in-game. I’ve been used to writing this blog geared towards new players, so I went with a general description for what they do rather than what they are called by other players.[/Update]

Righteous Defense is the only spell you have that actually “steals” threat. It can pull up to three mobs off of the target. If multiple members of your party have agro, your healer should always be your primary target for this. Otherwise, feel free to steal it from whoever has agro. Please remember though that classes such as the Warrior often need to have agro on at least one mob to generate the rage they need to function.

Hand of Salvation does not steal threat, instead it gradually reduces the threat of whoever you cast it on over 10 seconds. If you know you have a dps party member that likes to rush in a little quick, or a DK who loves to Death Grip mobs to him and then complain about dying, this is a good spell to cast on someone you know is going to generate enough threat to potentially pull mobs away from you. I very rarely use this spell.

Hand of Protection also does not technically steal threat. Instead, it dumps all of the threat that your target has against melee mobs. So while it does not pull the mob directly to you, it does take them off of whoever they were attacking. If you use this spell, be sure to use some form of attack on the melee mobs that were attacking your target, or else they will simply move on to their next target, which will likely be your healer. With this combination, you can basically steal all of the melee-agro from whoever might have it. If it is a single mob, I would suggest using either Hand of Reckoning or Exorcism to pull the mob. If multiple mobs are present then either use Avenger’s Shield if they are far away, or run over to your target and cast Consecration if they are close. Hammer of the Righteous may also work, but Consecration will be more effective at grabbing all of the intended mobs.

Note: Hand of Protection – be aware that when you cast this spell on someone, you remove their ability to attack. If you cast it on someone that isn’t used to the spell, they’re likely to get a little upset. They can simply right-click the buff icon to cancel it, but there are players who aren’t used to doing that and I have even seen some within the last week who have been playing for years and had no clue that you could do that. So you may want to inform them (after a second or two, so that you can build up threat) how to remove the (de)buff so that they can attack again.

Self Buffs
Righteous Fury***
Seal of Wisdom***
Greater Blessing of Sanctuary***

Every one of these buffs should be on you at all times. If you ever let Righteous Fury fall off of you, I will personally roll a character of the opposing faction to come hunt you down and kill you. Repeatedly.

Righteous Fury gives you a huge boost to your threat generation, making it nearly impossible for most classes to pull agro away from you. This spell is absolutely critical to your ability to tank.

Seal of Wisdom is the key to you having the mana that you need to function. If necessary, you can use Seal of Light instead, but I find SoW to be more efficient.

Greater Blessing of Sanctuary is going to reduce the damage that you take by 3% and also restore mana to you every time you block, dodge, or parry an attack. I have seen tanks who use other blessings, but I find them all to be far inferior to BoS in my personal experience.

Auras
Retribution Aura***
Devotion Aura***

By default, Retribution Aura is the one that I use to help me deal more damage to the mobs that are attacking me.

Devotion Aura gives you a significant boost to your Armor. If you find that you are taking too much damage, or getting hit too often, it’s perfectly acceptable to switch over to this aura instead.

Utility Spells
Hand of Sacrifice

Hand of Sacrifice gets a bit of a special mention for when you have multiple people in the party taking damage either from multiple mobs or from mobs using AoE damage, then this is a good spell to use. I don’t use it often since I have not ran into too many oportunities where it would be even slightly usefull, but it’s something to use if things start going down hill.

Talent Spec
I have shown you my leveling spec in previous posts, so here I show you the spec that I use when I am tanking instances in Northrend. Now, you are fully capable of tanking instances with the leveling spec that I use, however there are a couple of items which are more of a hindrance than they are a help when you are in an instance.

prot_spec

Tanking Glyphs
Major Glyph
Hammer of the Righteous
Divine Plea
Exorcism

Hammer of the Righteous: This glyph allows you to hit four total targets with HotR instead of just three. More damage to more targets means better threat build up, and it means burning them down faster than before. There is no other glyph in the game right now that I would remove this one for.

Divine Plea: After having tested Divine Plea prompted by Cassinni’s suggestion, I most definitely suggest you get this glyph. With it’s constantly-refreshing property from the suggested talent spec, this buff doesn’t leave you until combat is over. Using the glyph gives you 3% damage reduction while the buff is active, and this buff should essentially be active the entire time you are in combat.

Exorcism: An extra 20% damage to a ranged spell isn’t half bad. This is the expendable major glyph. If you have something else you prefer, then feel free to swap it out. You don’t have a third glyph slot until level 80 anyway, so I suggest the other two be your first priority.

Minor Glyph
Lay On Hands: Reduces the cooldown of Lay on Hands by 5 minutes.
Sense Undead: Increases the damage you deal to Undead targets by 1% while your Sense Undead ability is activated.

Lay On Hands: This glyph I recommend strictly because it’s one of your “oh crap!” buttons. Being able to hit that button more often can definitely be a good thing.

Sense Undead: This glyph is the only minor glyph that has any chance of impacting your threat generation and damage dealing. Unfortunately, it’s entirely situational as it only has an impact against Undead targets. It also only takes effect when your Sense Undead spell is active.

Those are the only two suggestions I really have for Minor glyphs, as most of the Paladin’s minor glyphs are highly unimpressive. For your third slot, just grab one and go with it.

You can refer to my previous post Paladin AoE Grinding: Glyph Edition for more specific information on glyph options.

Starter’s Tanking Gear
Gear is very important to tanking, because if your defense sucks, then so does your tanking. It really doesn’t matter how much skill you have at tanking if you are constantly on the receiving end of critical hits.

As the absolute minimum, assuming that you are at least level 70, I strongly suggest that you go find yourself 40 Cobalt Bars and have a Blacksmith craft the Cobalt Armor “Set” for you. It is not an actual set since there are no Set bonuses or anything, but any Blacksmith capable of making them will know what you are referring to. This is going to be the easiest way for you to get a decent tanking set to start off with if you have been leveling under a different spec and not collecting gear for it.

You can refer to Lexington’s Armory page if you would like to see the pieces of the set individually, or you can look them up on sites such as wowhead.com. As of today (June 7, 2009) Lexington is level 71 and currently wearing the full Cobalt Set. I use the Petrified Lichen Guard while grinding and farming, but the Cobalt Triangle Shield is better suited for running instances.

This is the easiest starter kit you can get for your tank, and it is a good place to start off when tanking. If you have access to better gear, then by all means take it instead. But, this is a great place to start otherwise.

If you want more details on gear, then I suggest you do a little more searching on other blogs or forums because I am certainly no expert in this area. Gear gives you a firm foundation to build on, but it’s the knowledge of your class that is going to determine how well you perform your job as a tank. Because of this, I do not bother wasting my time crunching numbers for the best gear out there. Instead, I use the best gear I happen to find and push myself to learn how to make up for the difference in how I play.

Break It Down!
Here I am going to show you a breakdown from the Recount add-on to show you the abilities that I used while I was tanking my first instance in Northrend, which was Nexus while I was level 71. The group was a tank and dps at level 71, a dps and healer at level 72, and a level 74 warlock dps as well. We did end up bringing in a level 80 druid healer after our second wipe on the final boss though.

I include this because I have been asked what abilities I find deal the most damage while I am tanking, which this will give you the breakdown off. You will see that Consecration is still my highest source of damage at level 71, just as it was at level 20 when you first get access to it.

Recount

 
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Posted by on June 4, 2009 in Guide, Paladin

 

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Paladin AoE Grinding: Glyph Edition

It was brought to my attention by one of my Twitter friends, thechristianguy, that I never bothered putting any information about glyphs on the blog.

DOH! Definitely an epic failure on my part! I think it’s time to fix that!

So, here I list the glyphs that I would personally recommend for your AoE Grinding needs.

Major Glyphs
Judgement: Increases the damage dealt by your Judgements by 10%. [Required Lv: 15]

Consecrate: Increases the duration of Consecrate by 2 seconds, but also increases it’s cooldown by 2 seconds. [Required Lv: 20]

Divinity: Doubles the amount of mana restored to the target when you use Lay On Hands, and restores an equal amount of mana to you. [Required Lv: 15]

Exorcism: Your Exorcism spell deals an additional 20% damage. [Required Lv: 20]

Hammer of the Righteous: Your Hammer of the Righteous hits an additional target. [Required Lv: 60]

Glyph of Judgement: I started off using this glyph, because I wanted a boost to my damage at level 15, and that was the only place I could find one. I checked my armory link and found out that I’m actually still using this glyph at level 70, which I will certainly fix tonight when I get home. Judgement is a good place to start if you want to get some more damage in to help you through your lower levels, but it doesn’t do a whole lot in the overall scheme of AoE grinding. I might recommend this as your starting glyph to help you get through the mobs a bit faster, but I would most likely replace with Glyph of Divinity as soon as your second Major glyph slot opens up to be used alongside Glyph of Consecration.

Glyph of Divinity: This glyph is very useful for getting back your mana, especially prior to reaching level 40. It doubles the mana that it restores to the target, and also gives you that same amount of mana. If you are AoE Grinding, and you’re doing it solo, then most likely you are using this spell on yourself. I have this glyph sitting in my bank, fully intending to replace Judgement for the last 40 levels or so, and completely forgot to switch them out. From the research I’ve done on the glyph, using it on yourself will effectively restore 4x the normal amount of mana when you cast it on yourself. The only stumbling block you ever come across when AoE grinding is running out of mana, and this goes a long way towards fixing that. Until you find yourself no longer having any mana issues at all, I suggest you continue using this glyph.

Glyph of Consecrate: At level 20 I suggest dropping Glyph of Judgement for this one. While this glyph completely throws off the 96969 rotation of end game tanking, it works great for AoE grinding. The reason why you use this glyph is for its extended duration. Since Consecrate is your main mana-sink, it helps to have to cast it a fewer number of times. This glyph gives you an extra two “ticks” worth of damage for the same amount of mana it would normally take, so in the long run you save yourself some mana. As long as you are AoE grinding, I see no reason to replace this glyph with another.

Glyph of Exorcism: This glyph is really only taken for the increased damage that it deals. I mention it because it is helpful, especially in areas where there are a lot of caster mobs that you need to get down fast. There also happens to be a very high population of undead mobs throughout the game, and dealing that extra damage from an already high-damage spell can be rather brutal. I would not take this glyph over the others unless you find that you do not need the benefit that the others have to offer. Overall, it’s a good glyph, just not quite as good as the others.

Glyph of Hammer of the Righteous: This is a glyph that I plan to get, just as soon as I can find an Inscriptionist/Scribe/WhateverNameYouUse that can make it. The server I am on right now has a surprisingly low number of inscriptionists on it so finding glyphs can be hard. As I mentioned in Part II: Paladin AoE Grinding Rotation, HotR is the key to you aggressively taking down large amounts of mobs instead of relying almost entirely on defensive and reflective damage. The spell by itself targets three mobs, and the glyph lets you add another one to the mix meaning you take down more mobs in a shorter amount of time.

Minor Glyphs
Lay On Hands: Reduces the cooldown of Lay on Hands by 5 minutes. [Required Lv: 15]

Blessing of Wisdom: Increases the duration of Blessing of Wisdom by 20 minutes. [Required Lv: 15]

Blessing of Might: Increases the duration of Blessing of Might by 20 minutes. [Required Lv: 15]

Sense Undead: Increases the damage you deal to Undead targets by 1% while your Sense Undead ability is activated. [Required Lv: 20]

Paladins, like a few of the other classes, have a rather sad list of minor glyphs to choose from. Overall, these are the best of what we have been offered – and that is not saying a whole lot.

Glyph of Lay On Hands: This is really the only minor glyph that I would urge you to take, where all of the others are merely suggestions. Being able to fully heal yourself more frequently is always nice, especially if you love to overpull and solo elites like I do. All in all it’s really just a matter of helping you to minimize your downtime. When coupled with the Glyph of Divinity up above, you end up having an excellent setup for keeping your health and mana as high as possible at all times. Get this one at 15, and leave it there.

Glyph of Blessing of Might/Wisdom: These are mentioned simply because they are better than the other options we have for minor glyphs. If you find yourself casting one of them more frequently than the other, you might as well pick it up to save yourself some time. Neither of these really serves any purpose in helping with your grinding, there just isn’t anything else to choose.

Glyph of Sense Undead: This glyph is the only one that offers you any real boost to your grinding speed, but even then only if you happen to be fighting undead. In all honesty, I think I have only ever turned on Sense Undead one time in both of my paladin’s careers combined. If you happen to be grinding undead mobs though, then you might as well dish out some more damage to them. Again, this glyph is not required, and its usefulness is limited to a single type of mob.

 
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Posted by on May 18, 2009 in Guide, Leveling, Paladin

 

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Part II: Paladin AoE Grinding Rotation

As I continue to watch what brings readers to my blog, I see that my first post on Paladin AoE Grinding Rotation still brings in more traffic than anything else. But that post only covered you up to level 40. This time, I am going to take you all the way up to level 70 and get you started off on the right foot for AoE grinding in Northrend. Since my paladin is sitting at level 70 himself, the third part of this series will cover levels 71-80 (after I reach that point myself).

While some people have voiced their disagreement that AoE Grinding is an effective method of leveling once you hit Northrend, I can testify both from my own experience, as well as my wife’s, that AoE Grinding still works just fine in the great Frozen North. I am just getting my feet wet in Northrend, having used my AoE grinding methods in both Howling Fjord and Borean Tundra. My wife has been level 80 for a few weeks now and achieved that by gaining all of her levels through the use of AoE Grinding to help her speed through her quests. I don’t support this method simply because I think it’s cool, I support it because I know for a fact that it works.

One thing that I want to specifically point out in relation to the statement above, is that AoE Grinding is not the only means by which you should gain experience. The fastest way to level your paladin is to use AoE Grinding in conjunction with questing and farming. If you have quests that involve mobs in any way (basically everything except the “go talk to this guy” quests), then you have reason to AoE the mobs to take them out faster, thus gaining more experience in a shorter amount of time than you would by another means. If you have mats to gather for your professions, or your secondary skills (particularly cooking), or you need to gather mats for someone else to use to enchant your gear, then you will be able to do so faster if you AoE the mobs to get them. While it is certainly possible to do nothing but kill mobs constantly to gain your levels, it is definitely not the fastest way to do it.

Spending Talent Points
When leveling a paladin focused on AoE grinding as of 3.1, this is how I spend my talent points from 40-70:

  • Lv 41-42: Spiritual Attunement 2/2 – Passive ability; when you are healed, you restore 10% of the healed amount as mana.
  • Level 43: +1 Reckoning (4/5) – 8% chance after being hit with an attack, that your next 4 weapon swings will generate an extra attack
  • Level 44: Divinity 1/1 – Healing you do, and healing that you receive are increased by 1%
  • Lv 45-47: Redoubt 3/3 – +30% Block Value, also gives you a 10% chance when hit to get +30% chance to block
  • Lv 48-49: Combat Expertise 2/3 – +4 Expertise, +4% Stamina and +4% crit chance
  • Lv 50: Avenger’s Shield 1/1 – Hurl your shield at the target dealing holy damage, and dazing them for 10 seconds. The shield jumps to hit up to 2 additional nearby enemies as well.
  • Lv 51-53: Touched By the Light 3/3 -Bonus Spell Power equal to 30% of your Stamina, also adds 30% bonus healing to your critical heals
  • Level 54: Guarded By the Light 1/2 – Reduces Spell Damage taken by 3%, also impacts Divine Plea which you don’t have yet
  • Lv 55-57: Shield of the Templar 3/3 – Damage taken reduced by 3%, Avenger’s Shield gains a 100% chance to silence for 3 seconds when it hits
  • Lv 58-59: Judgements of the Just 2/2 – Judgements reduce the target’s attack speed by 20%, reduces cooldown of Hammer of Justice by 20 seconds
  • Level 60: Hammer of the Righteous 1/1 – Hits the target and up to 2 additional nearby targets for 4x your weapon damage as Holy damage
  • Level 61: +1 Guarded By the Light (2/2) – Reduces Spell Damage taken by 6%
  • Level 62: +1 Combat Expertise (3/3) – +6 Expertise, +6% Stamina and +6% crit chance
  • Lv 63-67: Deflection 5/5 – [Ret Tree] Increases your Parry chance by 5%
  • Level 68: Improved Judgements 1/2 – Reduces the cooldown of your Judgements by 1 second
  • Lv 69-70: Heart of the Crusader 2/3 – Judgements give you +2% crit chance against the target

Spiritual Attunement: The points in this talent can be moved if you desire to do so. Some people like it, some people hate it. Personally, I like it.

Divinity: The point I put in here can also be moved. This is one that a lot of people go crazy over and feel should be 5/5, but personally I don’t find it necessary. You can take it away, or you can add more to it. Do as you please.

Judgements of the Just: This is another one that can have it’s points shifted if you desire. I took it for a couple of reasons. First, because I like to solo elite mobs that are higher level than me and slowing down their attack speed helps me do that. Second, reducing the cooldown of HoJ is a nice bonus because of its use in interrupting spells.

Improved Judgements: There is a lot of discussion about whether you should put 1 point here or 2. Personally, I put 2 just because I like to have it available to me more often. For the 96969 rotation you only need 1 point in it, but other people feel that 2 is better. Decide for yourself. You can get by with 1, but it doesn’t hurt to have 2. I find it useful when running low level characters through instances to be able to throw my judgements more often.

AoE Grinding Rotation: General
As I mentioned in the previous post, there really is no set rotation for AoE grinding, so I will once again stick to a general rotation for you here. If you find something that works better for where you are and what you are doing, then by all means feel free to use your own.

The most basic steps to AoE grinding are these: [Pull], Holy Shield, Judgement, Consecrate, Hammer of the Righteous, “Other Stuff”

Pull:
Pulling includes each of the following: Exorcism, Avenger’s Shield, Hand of Reckoning

If you have other mobs near where you are fighting your current group, and you aren’t being overwhelmed, then feel free to pull them into the group as well. If there are not any stray mobs in the area to pull, then feel free to use your pull spell on one of the mobs you are currently fighting to help bring it to a close sooner. For this, I only suggest using Exorcism and Avenger’s Shield since the damage from Hand of Reckoning is rarely enough to do anything other than kill critters.

You can look at my notes in the previous post about Pulling as part of your rotation for details as to why it is in my rotation as opposed to simply being part of AoE Grinding.

Holy Shield
Holy Shield always takes priority over Consecrate. It was true at level 40 when you got it, and it’s still true at level 80. Holy Shield reduces the damage you take by increasing your Block, and it also deals significant damage to enemies when you block their attacks. Since Consecration only deals damage, and it costs nearly twice as much mana to cast, it is better to cast Holy Shield if your mana is low or the mobs you are fighting are all close to death.

Judgements
Which Judgement you use is entirely up to you. By default I use Judgement of Light until level 60 because I have both Blessing of Sanctuary and Seal of Wisdom providing me with the mana that I need. Once I hit level 60 though my health starts to become less of a problem than my mana as I get more and more spells that help me grind down the mobs faster. At that point my default changes to Judgement of Wisdom instead.

Which Judgement you use is going to depend on your situation and may change from fight to fight even against two groups of the exact same mobs. The only time I use Judgement of Justice is when I am fighting humanoid mobs inside an instance and there are either caster mobs in the area, or I know that my healer could not handle me pulling more groups due to lack of mana or similar circumstance. I do not believe that I have used Judgement of Justice even once since I reached the Outlands.

Consecration
Consecration is still, and always will be, the bread and butter of your run as a Prot Paladin. This is easily going to cover 40% of the damage that you do. I haven’t kept a close eye on the percentages here lately, but up until I got my achievement for completing 90 quests in Hellfire Peninsula Consecrate averaged out to about 42% of my overall damage dealt.

This is best way to ensure that you continually deal damage to the mobs around you, and also helps you to maintain threat on all of them. With Righteous Fury both reducing the damage you deal and also increasing the threat you generate by 90%, pulling agro away from you is not easily done.

Hammer of the Righteous
This spell is an amazing contribution to how fast you are able to grind. Once you reach level 60 and pick this bad boy up you can finally start to move to a much more aggressive form of AoE Grinding. With already impressive amounts of damage coming from Consecrate and your reflective damage from items and Retribution Aura, the Hammer of the Righteous spell lays a powerful weapon-based beat down on the targeted enemy as well as two other mobs standing next to them.

With only a 6 second cooldown this spell gets fired off frequently, and with impressive results. Unless I have a very large group of mobs around me, or for some other reason feel that I might be forced to bubble or LoH, then I will use this spell in priority even before Holy Shield. I would not suggest that you do the same unless you are comfortable with your grinding and know the actions of the mobs you face. Otherwise, putting a higher priority on using this spell means that you grind through the mobs faster, which means more experience and more loot in shorter amounts of time.

“Other Stuff”
The “Other Stuff” that I have up there is where you throw in anything else that you might want to use. This includes Hammer of Justice, Hammer of Wrath, Exorcism, Arcane Torrent (Blood Elf only), item or trinket use, healing spells, potions, etc.

As you continue to get higher in levels, and you become practiced in pulling more and more mobs, you find that the “Other Stuff” tends to get left out quite a bit. The other spells mentioned in the rotation are the bread and butter of what you are doing, and they should be what you focus on if you are tanking a group of mobs. Once the numbers start to dwindle down as the fight progresses, then it’s alright to throw the other things in there, but when you are fighting a group of high level mobs, it’s better to spread your butter.

Healing: Special Note
If you need to heal, do not be afraid to go ahead and do it. It’s alright to throw off your whole rotation for the sake of saving your own life. Be aware that spells that have a casting time (like Holy Light and Flash of Light) are going turn off your avoidance while you are casting them, so prepare to be hit more often and for a bit more damage while you are healing.

While you are still in your 40’s and 50’s you can probably manage to cast Holy Light without activating your bubble, so long as you are fighting a small group of mobs (around 5 or so) and you have enough health to take their hits throughout the cast time of the spell. If you are fighting a large group, then I suggest you resort to healing while bubbled, or by use of your Lay On Hands spell for a full heal.

After level 60, I no longer cast Holy Light without using my bubble first, and generally resort to Lay On Hands for my healing, or Bubble + Holy Light x2 if LoH is on cooldown. I also make use of bandages at this time to top my health off while I wait for my bubble duration to expire.

If you do use a bubble, then you have two primary options for healing. You can either cast Holy Light on yourself 1-3 times, depending on your total hit points, or you can cast Holy Light once and then use a bandage if you have kept up on your First Aid skill. Using bandages saves you the mana it would cost to cast a healing spell on yourself, and since you are bubbled you will not have its use interrupted. The higher level you are, the smaller percentage of healing you receive from a bandage, simply because they don’t scale all that well. I still use them, but most often I stick with Holy Light.

AoE Grinding Rotation: Specific

At level 50 you finally start to be able to take mobs down at an increased speed with the addition of Avenger’s Shield. It’s a great tool for pulling mobs, but with Exorcism being able to target all enemies now as well as Hand of Reckoning, I very rarely actually use Avenger’s Shield for pulling during my Solo Grinding. I will use it when I am in a group for the sake of establishing agro, but when I am going solo it is merely a tool for dealing massive damage to multiple mobs.

The general methods of gathering mobs that I mentioned in the last post still apply here, and will throughout. Find a method of pulling mobs that suits you and stick with it. If you are in a group then be sure to communicate with everyone else about how you intend to pull and when they should move into action. You don’t want to be in the middle of a large body-pull and have your healer throw a small heal on you that grabs all the agro because you did nothing to establish it. Communication is key in anything you do.

In the list below [OS/P] indicates the use of “Other Stuff” and Pull spells. Use whichever you feel better fits the situation you are currently in.

The following examples assume that you are Solo AoE Grinding, and have already gathered the mobs you intend to grind via your preferred pulling methods:

Level 41-59, AoE Grinding on multiple mobs
1) Cast Holy Shield – it’s better to start off with this to make sure your defense starts out high, than to worry about dealing damage with Consecrate. You increase your block, and those blocks do significant additional damage.

2) Cast Judgement of Light – restore your health while you attack your target. If you are high on health, go ahead and switch over to Judgement of Wisdom instead.

3) Cast Consecrate and reposition yourself if necessary to get all mobs in front of you – establish your primary source of damage and agro

4) Cast Avenger’s Shield [OS/P] – “burst” damage to three targets. Though this is a ranged attack, you can use it in the middle of melee. If Avenger’s Shield is on cooldown, choose one of the other OS/P spells. I almost always use Avenger’s Shield as my first spell in the OS/P category.

5) Cast Arcane Torrent (if available) – restore 6% of your base mana, and a chance to silence nearby casters

6) “Other Stuff” – other attack spells such as Exorcism, or healing yourself if necessary

7) Repeat steps 1-6 as needed until the fight is over

Where the 96969 build optimizes it’s cool downs, you really only have the 9’s of that equation right now, so a lot of your cool downs are going to overlap.

At this stage in the game you need to set a priority for your spells. For me, I set my priority as Holy Shield > Judgement >< Consecrate. The reason why I do this is because HS provides more protection than either of the other two, it deals damage to multiple mobs (assuming you block their attacks), and it has a fairly low mana cost. Judgement and Consecrate are swappable in the priority list, depending on the situation. If you have a lot of mobs around you, then Consecrate is higher priority to take them all down. If you have only a few mobs around you, then Judgement is the higher priority to help you end with as much health and mana as possible when the fight is over.

Level 60+, AoE Grinding on multiple mobs
1) Cast Holy Shield – raise your block, and deal some damage while you do it

2) Hammer of the Righteous and Reposition to be in front of mobs – deal 4x weapon damage as Holy damage to 3 mobs within melee range.

3) Cast Judgement of Light – restore your health while you attack your target. If you are high on health, go ahead and switch over to Judgement of Wisdom instead.

4a) Cast Consecrate – If you want to get more into the rhythm of 96969, then go ahead and use OS/P here instead, and push Consecrate to the next step

4b) Cast Avenger’s Shield [OS/P] – If you already used Consecrate, then throw the Avenger’s Shield here, or one of the other OS/P spells if AvShield is on cooldown. I almost always use Avenger’s Shield as my first spell in the OS/P category.

5) Cast Arcane Torrent (if available) – to restore mana and a chance to silence enemies.

6) Hammer of the Righteous – The 6 second cooldown of this amazing ability means it pops up multiple times in rotation.

7) Repeat steps 1-6 as needed until the fight is over

At level 60 you finally manage to get one of the 96969 components that fall under the “6” category, which is Hammer of the Righteous. This allows you to fall into the general rotation, using HotR as one of the 6’s, and then the OS/P spells to fill the others.

Hammer of the Righteous is also the key to you becoming truly aggressive in your AoE Grinding instead of the defensive stance we’ve had to take for so many levels. Instead of having to rely so heavily on Consecrate and reflective damage, you can now deal a significant amount with HotR to help blow through the mobs more quickly. By no means does that justify no longer using Consecrate and the like, it simply means that you are not more aggressive than you have been up to this point.

I have found in getting closer to level 70 that I often times only manage to cast Consecrate once before my fights are over. If I manage to pull other mobs in during my rotations, then there will be additional castings as well, but I have been pulling for so long now that I rarely miss gathering all of the mobs I want from my initial pull unless I get dismounted very early in the pull. Even then, I have taken more to kiting the mobs around to gather more of them than I previously did now that I know I can get through the mobs faster with HotR.

Wrap Up
And there you have the rotations that I use from levels 40 through 70. As I mentioned before, when you are not fighting solo, there really is no such thing as a specific rotation because you have to be aware of everything that’s going on around you, and you need to be able to react to the situation rather than trying to feel comfortable in a rotation. When grinding solo though, there’s no reason not to have a rotation because you don’t have to worry about other party members or anyone’s actions other than your own.

As always, I appreciate any comments you care to share, and welcome any questions you might have.

 
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Posted by on May 18, 2009 in Guide, Leveling, Paladin

 

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