The OoW pets are quite good actually, especially if they benefit from a raid pet focus. The best pet focus ingame for the expansion is on Anguish boots and is called “Servant of Chaos” . But your pets will be quite decent group tanks already with lower raid foci (Ritual Summoning from LDoN raid augment or Qvic boots, or Minion of Discord from Zun Muram range item or Zulaqua cloak from RSS). Your air pet, as in PoP, will be your everyday pet and a decent offtank up to MPG with appropriate heal/slow support. Your earth pet can be main tank (with appropriate heal/slow support of course) up to RSS, no problem. You will probably use your earth pet more often as in PoP or GoD era when you xp in “unconventional” group settings (no real tank). In this case, because of the weaker aggro of the earth pet, you might want to farm or buy in the bazaar aggro proccing weapons and give them to your earth pet instead of the usual summoned weapons. I’ll make a separate post about a couple of interesting proc weapons for your pets (Blades of Disruption are common and cheap for example).
What will change though in pet use ? From my experience, you’ll use the fire pet less and you’ll use the water pet more for raiding because of the resists ; the fire pet will be narrowed down to specific situations like RSS ice side, but on raids the water pet clearly becomes your usual choice. Also, the revamp of the Frenzied Burnout AA lessens the dps gap between the fire pet and the water pet : you’ll see critical backstabs for several hundreds, and you can reach 1k. Pet’s melee improves a lot thanks to the group buff AA (the former GoD AA called ‘Pet Affinity’ which is now merged into Companion’s Suspension rank 3), which impacts the water pet the most : bard and shaman group melee buffs rock. Don’t forget also that the new chanter haste adds 20% critical hit chance and stacks with the Burnout line for the non-haste stats. The revamped swarm pets from Kunark era (Dyzil’s Deafening Decoy and Rage of Zomm) will be used less and less, they just can’t hold up against OoW mobs anymore even to briefly offtank a target. But don’t worry; the Gargoyle era is approaching soon (DoDH)Reminder about pet foci : Summoner’s Boon (LDoN merchant bought 750 points North Ro) < Minion of Darkness (Vex Thal gloves or, in OoW, groupable item from Balancer Relik in RSS) < Minion of Eternity (PoP Bertoxx range item, GoD Primal ring, OoW belt from Pyrique Redwing in WoS) < Ritual Summoning (LDoN raid augment in Prison Break or GoD Qvic boots)< Minion of Discord (GoD ZMZT range item or OoW Zulaqua cloak) < Servant of Chaos (Anguish boots) < Spire Servant (DoDH – Redfang belt). NB :With Ritual Summoning/Minion of Discord, my OoW pets are level 67, I think with Servant of Chaos they will be level 68.
Epic 1.5/2.0 is a blessing for pets too. The epic clicky is a triple pet buff : it gives your pet a low resist offensive proc (150DD for 1.5, 200DD for 2.0) with a 400 proc mod (a little bit like the innate proc of our old epic pet) and which further advantages pet melee –therefore the water pet for dps and raiding-; it also adds a defensive proc which will stun the target (2s up to level 75 for 1.5, 4s up to level 75 for 2.0), therefore making the pet tank better –the air pet will have two ways of stunning its target-, mages often forget this aspect of the epic clicky ; finally it adds a hp buff to the pet (800hp for 1.5, 1000hp for 2.0), which you can even use as a fast heal if the clicky is ready (recast timer). However, as was the epic pet, this benefits rather the group game. Of course, as for all casters, the epic has a worn aggro reducing focus, which is another bonus.
The new pet summons are good upgrades to the PoP ones. Same applies to the focus jewelry – always give your pets a set of summoned jewelry, combined with the belt -650 hps !- you can add 1075 hps and 42 AC to your pet just with the summoned stuff.
Beside those, the noticeable new utility is the tradable –but lore, which can drive you mad, you’ll see…- 5 charges clicky fix invisibility stone (Sphere of Air). This is very good, saves a spell slot and will make your cleric and warrior friends happy.
Of course, we are still no wizards, so don’t frustrate yourself by monitoring your crits and those of your wizzy fellows ! But the new bolt is good and without external buff, with full AAs and a decent nuke focus (+40 or +45% to level 67), you’ll go over 10k in crits. Bards and druids become your best friends for their epic clickies which will further increase the strength and the crit chance of your nukes. Highest I have seen so far on me was 15k, wizzies reach 20k.
The use of nukes is the same as in PoP era : the bolt (Bolt of Jerikor) stays your primary nuke and the fast cast nuke from the Burning line (Burning Earth) stays your secondary nuke to finish a mob or when it is obvious you won’t have time to fire off a bolt. As in PoP, the OoW conjuration nuke (Star Strike) sucks, because both its dps and dpm are inferior to the level 66 bolt. Also, it is likely that you will still use PoP or GoD nuke foci for a while till you get your Anguish legs – these foci are capped at 67 or 68 and therefore your bolt will still fully benefit from them. The Ancient conjuration nuke is a bit better (Ancient: Nova Strike), as it is slightly more efficient than the 66 bolt (4.53 dpm vs 4.48 dpm), but it still has a lower dps than the bolt (377 dps vs 413 dps), so it is not worth switching to Conjuration for it. I advise you to stay Evocation specced.
Regarding our magic nukes line, there isn’t much to say, use them when mobs are fire resistant, as usual. However, the magic rain is pretty good in dps and you can use it safely in RSS fire side, the targets are large enough to avoid hitting the wrong (mezed…) target if that chimera is not right at the feet of your pyrilen guy…
The rains are decent even if they aren’t focused. Once malosiniaed, you will almost always get all full waves, I usually keep at least the fire rain memmed, but that is a personal choice and I don’t think it’s a gameplay thing which is related to the era.
One thing which changes from previous eras is the usefulness of our antisummoned nuke line. Most golem mobs and all discordling mobs are flagged summoned and you will therefore use the new Desolate Summoned pretty often, especially in zones like WoS or MPG. It is also the only nuke in Anguish which won’t get resisted, remember it has a -100 modifier and is very mana efficient (5.20 dpm) despite its relatively low damage (1857 base damage). Keep it memorized in WoS, MPG, and Anguish.
Nothing new/groundbreaking here either, but decent upgrades and two novelties :
- My personal opinion is that the best AA we get is the ability to permanently suspend a pet (meaning you can zone, or log, with your suspended pet). It’s rank 4 of the Companion’s Suspension line. I try to keep a full buffed and possibly equipped, Calliaved, Frenzied Burnouted, Pyrilened air or earth pet suspended for emergency situations. It has already saved my butt a few times. I know it is tedious, I know it is not always possible to do that –for example after a rez in a raid-, but I really advise to do it as often as you can. You will be happy to send a Calliaved, frenzied and taunting pet –if possible with aggro weapons- on that mob which just ate your pet and has put you next on the menu.
- Heart of Flames : a good dps AA which focuses your nukes from 1-50% for 90s and stacks with your worn nuke focus. It is unclear to me whether it stacks with druid epic clicky, perhaps someone knows that.
- Heart of Stone : a good “tanking” AA which stacks with the Shared Health line, make yourself a “oh smurf” macro where you pop both AA and click a heal potion, it can save your life. Later in DoD, it will become a raid strat in the Redfang event in DSK when the bats pop and beat on us poor casters – with both Shared Health and Heart of Stone, the ugly bats will hit you for low 200s…
- This is not mage related, but of course, you should buy the 9th spell slot AA and the five additional buff slots AAs, it makes life so much easier.
- I personally almost never use Heart of Ice and Heart of Vapor as they share a recast with Heart of Flame and Heart of Stone, but I might be wrong on this (spell damage and aggro reducers), your choice.
- The Archetype Mend Companion line now goes to 10k insta heal, it would be stupid not to use it !
All in all, I’d say there is nothing groundbreaking in the OoW expansion for mages but the situation is globally positive. The gameplay is close to PoP/GoD (although pets suffered a lot during GoD of course, the new OoW pets are good and will allow you to tank GoD content your PoP pets could not ; your OoW pets can be decent tanks even up to RSS with proper support).
There is one downside though and it is the raiding scene. Unlike PoP and especially GoD (Tacvi is a breeze with fire pet and fire nukes), mobs tend to resist fire a lot more even after Malosinia. In Anguish, trash mobs resist a lot too, except discordlings when you use the anti-summoned nuke/AA. The only target which a mage can efficiently dps is Ture I’d say, and to some extent Arch Magus and OMM (but you will probably be assigned to frenzied lashers, your dps won’t matter on OMM where the charmed Lieutenants will do most of the damage). So be prepared for a lot of frustration in Anguish, and on many targets you’ll rather use your magic nuke (Blade Strike), which seems resisted less, but still a lot. Hanvar event is a nightmare for that, I just melee sometimes…
Last but not least, the raiding mage NEEDS the Anguish boots (already mentioned that) and the Anguish robe. The robe clicky is awesome as it is an offensive and defensive modifier for your pet’s melee which you will use all your life long. Consider it a “mini FBO AA” which you can click every five minutes.