Group Strategies

The main role of a mage in the group is simple: deal as much damage as possible. There is a "holy trinity" of classes in World of Warcraft, consisting of a tank (warrior) a damage dealer (mage) and a healer (priest). Mages are the best damage dealers in most situations, so you should never have trouble finding a group.

Unlike when you are soloing, it's not wise to go all out damage as quickly as possible. Damage generates agro, which makes things more difficult for the healer, because healing a mage is a lot harder than healing a warrior. Your first aim should be to not get agro. Then you should focus on dealing damage.

Fire spells, while good for soloing, aren't the best for group play. They aren't particularly mana efficient, and can generate high threat. Crits generate additional threat, so if you are going for a crit build, be extra careful in groups. Pyroblast is also an extreme threat generator, so its not advisable to use it in group situations.

The best spells to use in groups are damage over time spells, which rather than frontloading damage, spread the damage and hence the threat over a window. Unfortunately mages do not have access to these spells, but there are some options for spreading threat. Arcane Missiles, although not technically a DoT, does spread the damage over an interval, and is an excellent spell to use (it's not particularly mana efficient though, so don't use it as much in long fights. It's best used in conjunction with clearcasting).

Frost based spells are a good option to use when it comes to group PvE play. They are mana efficient, and you can get quite good damage out of the Frost line by simply casting Frostbolt. Because it has lower base damage, and doesn't crit as high, it generates less threat than Fireball, for example. It also helps to slow the opponent.

The key to keeping threat in check (and hence keeping a group of enemies from pounding on you) is to make sure that your tank has generated sufficient threat before engaging the mobs. This means NOT opening with a Pyroblast as soon as the pull starts. The mob will run straight to you, and you will most probably die. Wait for the warrior to get a few hits in, and then start attacking.

An important part about instancing is knowing what to attack. The warrior should always choose the main target, and unless there are non-elites mixed in with the group you are pulling, this should be the target you attack. In this situation, a simple macro is essential. To create a macro, simple press enter and type /macro. A screen will pop up, giving you a few options. Choose an icon for you macro, and name it, in this case call it "Assist". Then type your commands in the box on the left-hand side. It's only one command in this case, simply /assist,

What /assist does is simple. When you have a target selected, and you press this macro button (or type /assist in the command console), you will target whoever they have targeted. This is great for situations when you have multiple mobs in a pull, and you aren't certain who you are supposed to be attacking. Simply target the tank, activate the macro, and blast away.

Single-target damage dealing is fairly easy, and if you follow the above rules, you shouldn't get agro, and your group should progress quickly. A little more difficult is dealing with large groups through the use of AoE attacks.

AoE attacks are generally used on groups which consist of both elite and non-elite mobs. You need to take out the non-elites first, because if you don't they will run straight for your healer as soon as they heal your tank (the worst possible thing that can happen. Without a healer, your group will die very quickly). The general way to take care of these mobs is to AoE them before focusing on the elites one by one.

When AoEing, all agro rules go out the window. You are going to have agro no matter what, and you want to kill the 4 or so mobs that are attacking you as fast as possible. Use all the AoE capabilities that you have; Flamestrike, Blast Wave, Blizzard, and most of all, Improved Arcane Explosion. Keep spamming that, and you will take them down quickly. Non-elite mobs die pretty fast, and once they are gone, don't attack for a little while. You may have agroed an elite mob through your attacks, and it's a good idea to wait for the tank to get agro off you before you do anything (unless the mob is on low health, in which case it's better just to finish them off).

There are also certain situations where you can AoE elites, provided you have a good healer (or 2). You generally need 2 mages to do this. The same rules apply, but you will be taking more damage. Try to kill as fast as possible in this situation.

The third part of a mage's roll in a group is pulling. You will often be the designated puller in instances, simply because of Polymorph. You need to know how, when, and who to pull to do this effectively, and if you don't you can give your group significant trouble.

When using Polymorph to pull, make sure your group knows who you are going to use it on. You can tell them in the chat window, or to be more specific, you can cast detect magic on them. Make sure you are at maximum range when pulling, because all the mobs are going to run straight for you. Cast Polymorph, then run straight back to your group.

When main puller, you have to make sure the mob you Polymorphed remains a sheep until all the others are dealt with. This means re-casting Polymorph, and it's usually a good idea to do this before it runs out, rather than have the mob break the Polymorph and attack your group. Polymorph, like all crowd control spells, does not suffer diminishing returns when cast against NPCs, so you can keep recasting it without fear.

When first casting Polymorph, you need to choose your target carefully. If you aren't at level 60, choose the target closest to your level, so it doesn't break early. Also, try and Polymorph the most dangerous opponent - generally a healer or a caster. Anyone with mana, really. You don't want someone healing the mobs you are attacking, or a caster hitting you from a distance with big damage attacks.

If there is more than one caster, which is often the case, your job extends to casting Counterspell. If you Polymorph one caster, the other will just stay back, and hit your group with attacks from a distance. Caster attacks always do lots of damage, and should be dealt with first. If you silence the other caster when you use Polymorph to pull, the target will run to your group and attempt to melee, rather than stay back casting spells.

This can be a bit of a dangerous tactic, because Counterspell generates a high amount of threat, and the target will invariably run straight for you, and will be hard to remove. Make sure your group knows this, and tell them to attack and kill the silenced target first, otherwise you will be dead pretty quickly. If you have Ice Barrier, cast that on yourself before you pull. If you have Ice Block, you can use that to shed the agro, and allow your tank to take over and do his job.

Once the group you have chosen is coming towards you, it's a good idea to cast Frost Nova to freeze them in place. This helps your group by separating the enemies, and allowing them to target the caster (or the most dangerous mob) first. It also allows you time to get your distance and begin casting your opening spell. Frost Nova only generates a tiny amount of agro, so don't be afraid to cast it.

Aside from pulling and damage dealing, every mage should have First Aid as high as possible, and have at least 1 stack of bandages in their pack at all times. If you do take incidental damage, through AoE attacks, or just from pulling, don't expect your healer to heal you. You are better off bandaging yourself, saving precious mana for the healer to use on the tank. Don't be afraid to heal others in your group, especially your healer, who may not get a chance to heal themselves. First Aid is easy to level, and is also very useful solo, so there's no reason not to get it.

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