Monday, August 18, 2008

A little bit of love for my forgotten buffs

People love mages for our buffs. Or rather for The Buff: Arcane Brillliance. It’s really awesome for any manadepending class and it’s one of the reasons we’re brought to raids, except for the catering services and occasional transforming of mobs into cattle that we also entertain the crowd with.

But apart from that buff we haven’t got much of buffs on our menu. We’ve got ice armor/molten armor/mage armor, but that’s just something we treat ourselves with.

Then there are those other buffs. The buffs which at least I find so hard to figure out and above all remember how to use wisely, that I tend to skip them altogether. And I know I’m not alone.

Yeah, you’ve guessed it already. Today I’m going to talk a bit about Amplify Magic and Dampen Magic. The Buffs that God forgot or whatever you should call them.

I remember finding it hard to understand what they meant even when I first learned them.

Amplify Magic…? Who's magic? My own or the one of the mob? Could I put it on the mob and then my magical spells on him would hurt more? Or is that what’s happen if I put it on myself? It was all very unclear to me. And of course it was the same with the other one. Dampen the Magic of who? I don’t want to dampen MY magic spells, I know that for sure.. So why use it?

This is how it works
As time went by I managed to figure out how it worked a bit better. At least I think so. For all of you non-mages reading this I can tell you how it works:

Both of the buffs are something you put on yourself or on your party. It’s not like a debuff spell you can throw on a mob. And the effect is not about the damage you do yourself. The buff will affect how you react to spells that other cast on you no matter if it’s a mob or a friend.

This means that Amplify magic will increase any magic spell used against you. And this includes both friendly and unfriendly spells. You will get much better healing if you wear this buff. On the other hand, if the mob you’re seeing is using magic, you’ll also take greater damage. At the highest rank the damage taken will increase with 120 and the healing with 240. This means that the Amplify magic spell preferably should be used in encounters with mobs that only make physical damage. One great example of this is Gruul. Prior to taking him down, the whole party should be buffed with Amplify magic. And since it only lasts 10 minutes, you’ve got to be pretty quick in buffing – especially if you’re the only mage around (that sucks, trust me.)

And the other one then, Dampen magic? Well, it works the other way of course. The damage taken from spells will decrease for 120, but at the same time the healing will decrease for 240. You can use it if you’re meeting a mob that will cause a LOT of magical damage. There are situations where it may pay off, in spite of the fact that the buff also will affect the healing you take negatively. Actually this buff is quite good to use if you’re soloing, meeting casters. I used to remember to put it on while levelling, nowadays I must admit I never do it though.

And this is definitely a shame, since it’s as Wowwiki points out is one of the mage’s best defensive buffs. It doesn’t only reduce the affect of traditional spells, but also give you some protection against attacks like poison, diseases, curses, acid and even melee attacks by fire, frost and wind elements.

When to use them
You could have thought that I’d use those buffs more often, once that I’d figured them out a bit better. But in reality I don’t. I guess it’s partly a sign of laziness. I should make a habit to think about them – and above all – using them actively. This means also turning them off at appropriate times (unless they wear off by themselves, since they last so short).

Used in the right way those spells can give you a valuable buff. But used wrongly they can harm you and your party pretty badly. So I can pretend that it’s purely for safety reasons I don’t buff. (But you know the truth – that I’m a bit lazy.)

I’m trying to improve though. What I currently try to do is to at least memorize the boss fights where those buffs are useful. I come to think of the following ones (and please feel free to add others in your comments! I’m sure there are plenty I’m not aware of.)

  • Gruul - use Amplify magic on the whole raid. Find another mage to help you!
  • Nalorakk in Zul Aman - use Amplify magic on everyone – if you have time. If you’re on timer at least buff the tanks.
  • The Big Bad Wolf in Karazhan. He doesn’t know any spells the stupid beast. So put on some Amplify magic if you get the time to do it once you know which fight will come up.
  • Gurtogg Bloodboil in Black Temple. The guide at BossKillers suggests you put Amplify magic on the whole raid. There is some magic damage but the improved healing will outweigh it.
  • Maiden in Karazhan. Put some Dampen Magic on the melee DPS. It makes it easier to keep them alive.
  • Prince in Karazhan. If possible, buff Warlocks' minions and Hunters' pets with Dampen Magic to greatly reduce the damage they take from Shadow Nova as well as Shadow Word: Pain. (This definitely wasn’t my own idea – I just found it on Wowwiki, doing research for this post.)

Improve through talents
If you really love those spells you can improve them even more by putting a couple of points into Magic Attunement. At maximum level will increase the effect by 50%. It’s nothing I’ve seen as a standard in PvE/raiding Arcane builds though, and really nothing I’d recommend. It’s probably rather filler points.

All in all I think those buffs deserve a little more of love than they currently receive (at least from me). But not as much love that I’d spend talent points on them.


Green Armadillo said...

One historical addendum: When they first introduced the talent that improves Dampen Magic (I think it was in 1.11?), they hadn't really been thinking about the elemental melee damage thing. Apparently the talent-boosted version reduced damage sufficiently to make the air elementals in Silithus do single digit damage.

An AE grinding build quickly emerged, rounding up the entire subzone at once by spamming rank 1 Arcane Explosion to keep them aggroed (and doing single digit damage), and then you'd finally take out the whole pack at once with full strength AE spam. Essence of Air was actually a valuable commodity in the day, so this was pretty profitable. Blizzard had to nerf it so that Dampen Magic cannot reduce damage below 50% of what it would otherwise have been.

Eishen said...

With our usually little life pool and high healing bonuses the 240 loss of healing with dampen magic is few times even noticed, I would suggest mage using it into self in every situation when is expected to receive magic damage, specially if in low-medium amounts over a period.

Ghostboci said...

I have amplify magic talented and put it always on the tanks. The damage taken by tanks is mostly melee (not talking here about the flame tank of Illidan or Hydross tank or such). In most fight tanks also get magic damage. In case of Void Reaver for example 70% melee, 30% arcane. Amplify magic increase the magic damage taken but the heal increase effect is much larger. +360 plus heal is a lot, it increase HPS:
by 310 for a 3x lifebloom druid
by 147 for a Greater heal priest
by 107 for a Healing Wave shaman
by 111 for a Holy light paladin
It's around 5-10% of the whole healing output of the healers!

So unless the magic damage part don't increase by 5-10% of ALL damage taken (including melee), it's a positive balance.

Another use of amplify magic: PvP, if your group has healers (as should has). Even if the enemy is purely caster, he gains half as much more damage as your healer gets heal.

I see only three situations, when dampen magic can be useful:
- when you have no healer
- when the damage taken is purely magic and spiky, risking one-shotting the tank. In this case it's better to cripple your healers but saving the tank from quick death. Maulgar's mage tanking mage is a good example.
- when you see huge incoming magic damage (boss is casting something nasty on someone), you put dampen, and after the damage landed, immediately amplify to help healers.

Einz said...

It's kinda funny reading this post now. Just the other night, while soloing my Mage, I looked at the bottom of my action bar and saw Amplify and Dampen sitting there and thought, "Hey, I bet Dampen Magic would work pretty well while I'm soloing..."

I didn't get around to using it then, but I'll try to remember it next time around.

Larísa said...

@Green Armadillo: nice story. I had no idea, being a history-noob starting out in TBC

@eishen: on myself yes, when I don't have any healer around... but in a party? I'm not sure I'd dare. But perhaps I should do some experimenting in smaller scale, like in a 5-man instance with friends.

: Maybe I've underestimated Amplify magic. But how do you know what amount of damage of different kinds they will recieve? Like at VR? Is it just out of long experience and yourself studying wws charts or how do you get the information?
First throwing dampen and then taking it away applying amplify in the middle of a fight... that's pretty impressing! I'm afraid I'm not there yet with my mage.

@Einz: There's obiously magic in the air... telepatic powers. I'm glad if this post could inspire you a bit. I was inspired by the comments so I'll start at least applying dampen magic more frequently when soloing.

Ghostboci said...

@larisa The wowwiki and Boskillers give damage information about the bosses. For example about Void Reaver wowwiki says:

# Melee: 3000-4000 on tanks.
# Pounding: 18 yard AoE around the Void Reaver, 3 sec channel, 1350-2250 arcane damage per sec (resistible), and 12 sec. cooldown.
# Arcane Orb: 7000+ AoE with 6 sec silence, (resistible, binary), and 3 sec cooldown. Arcane Orb is fired at a random raid member at least 18 yards away from the Void Reaver and takes a few seconds to reach the place where the player was standing.
# Knock Away: Single Target knock back vs. the highest aggro target, reduces aggro, and 30 sec cooldown. Can miss, be dodged, or parried to avoid the threat reduction.
# Enrage: Wipes the raid after 10 minutes.

Since the average attack speed of a non-dual hander boss is 2.5 secs, in a minute he does 60/2.5*(3000+4000)/2 = 84000 melee on tank
His Void aura is 60/12*3*(1350+2250)/2 = 27000 arcane damage

So he is mostly melee damage dealer, so it's Amplify time.