Tobold's Blog
Friday, November 30, 2007
Too slow for AoE

My blood elf mage is level 27 now, so since level 26 I have all the spells needed for frost mage AoE farming, getting the collection complete with Cone of Cold at level 26. So I followed the excellent video guide for frost mage AoE grinding, starting with small numbers of lower level mobs. And I didn't have much success. It is not that the method isn't working, but as the guide says, it requires practice, practice, practice. And you need to be very fast. Which I am not.

Now I have no problems playing a mage in normal combat against single mobs, which requires a bit of strategic thinking and not much movement. You find a good spot at maximum distance, frostbolt the mob, frostbolt some more while the mob approaches, then hit frost nova just before the mob reaches you, take a step back and continue with frostbolts or other spells to finish him off.

But AoE grinding is much different, because you spend a lot of time running *away* from the mobs while your spells are on cooldown, or while you gather the mobs up. Which means that you need in split seconds to be able to turn around, hit the blizzard spell hotkey as soon as you stop moving, and then place the blizzard target circle at the perfect spot over the mobs and slightly towards you. And that takes me far too much time. While in the video the guy manages to get two blizzards off after each frost nova, I barely manage one. Then I would need to turn and run until frost nova is ready again, but there again I'm slow and get hit too much. So with a lot of effort I manage to get 3 mobs of 6 levels lower than me killed, but then I'm already low on health and out of mana, and the whole thing isn't very efficient.

I used to be good at quad-kiting, a special druid technique in Everquest 1, which works somewhat similar. But of course EQ was a much slower game. And that was many years ago, and my reflexes haven't gotten any faster since then. Somebody half my age certainly can make frost mage AoE farming work, but I'm simply too slow for it nowadays. But what I found very interesting is that this is the first time in World of Warcraft where I found that I was reacting too slowly for something. For most classes and most situations, split second twitchy reaction speed doesn't make any difference to your success chance in WoW. For frost mage AoE it certainly does. I'll go back to my frostbolts.
It really does take practice. I am not very fast either.

I first tried it when my mage twink was in her low 40s and I never got it to work. I got frustrated and stopped trying. Then I got to Chillwind the classic aoe farming area ... and I killed skeletons for multiple levels. It never got boring. There's always some risk involved plus I didn't take the perfect aoe farming talents - I have 'Shatter' which helps and doesn't at the same time. While it freezes mobs - it doesn't do so always and keeps splitting up my pull ;)

Anyway, keep trying at it, because it is one of the most fun things about a frost mage. Take a priest or warlock along for even more aoe fun.

The biggest challenge will become to pull as many mobs as possible without losing some by riding too far.

Don't give up on it just yet! This is one of the few things in the game, that's not a safe solo strategy and the reward is pretty good: killing more mobs in less time is always good! And it does feel good to pull off bigger and bigger pulls ...
If you have a priest friend, there is an alternate AoE grinding strategy available.

First, cast Ice Armor, Mana Shield and Ice Barrier on yourself. Mount up. Have your priest friend cast Power Word: Shield on you. Have your priest friend mount up. Ride into the enemies with your priest friend following right behind you. When you have a bunch of mobs collected, hit Arcane Explosion once. This is the cue for your priest friend to hit Psychic Scream, scattering the mobs. They'll aggro the rest of the mobs in the vicinity. Since you had more threat on them than your priest, the additional mobs will aggro on you. When they reach you, start spamming Arcane Explosion like crazy. Your priest friend should now refresh your PW:Shield and spam heals on you.
I tried AOE grinding for the first time recently, and although I'm level 70, I had the same problems when I first started; the trick is in the blink after you frost nova.

I wasn't using blink because I like my escape spells, but as you found, didn't get off enough blizzards, used up Cone of Cold and kiting a bit to get frost nova up again. When you insert the blink into the rotation, it becomes a lot easier to get enough time for the blizzards.
It's not hard but does take some practise. I don't know how old you are and, at 40 myself, I'm probably not "half-your age", but I get it done.

Main problem is that there are very few spots with no casters around, so when you get to have it worked out, you get some fun for a while, then either move to another continent in the most far away place from where you are now to get some more mobs of the proper level, or you start doing it a bit less efficiently by doing it to much lower levels mobs.

Also, 26 is the BARE minimum level and it does get better further on. Ice Armor and mount sure help a lot in the gathering process, and having a large mana pool is also a MUST. Also, don't forget mana gems and potions and evocation if needed and off CD.

As for the Psychic Scream method, first time I read about it, but does look interesting!
Ice Armor is bad as is Mana shield when you try to AE farm.

Ice Armor slows some enemies and so you can't easily bunch them up. Mana shield drains your mana faster than anything else and with no mana you can't get spells off.

I used AE grinding at Chillwind but not that often. Using Ice Barrier was the key and Cold snap was helpful (for a second frostnova for instance). It's a bit tricky but after a while it gets easy until you start getting too easy-minded (pulling casters or mobs that fear for example *g*).

If you AE Farm with a Priest or a second mage it will get a lot easier. Maybe you ask your wife to join you :)
It took me a few hours of practice but I got AoE farming down rather well. It helped to watch other mages AoE farm to what I could do better. If you don't have shatter or ice barrier it is a lot more difficult. I'd advice trying it again once you get those talents. Ofcourse ice block and cold snap are must haves incase you over pull.
Maybe you've unearthed a rare area in WoW where skill is actually necessary?

I've watched my teenage son AOE grind - it's an art.
He was so good at it that he'd even farm honor in AV defending in front of Drek's lair.
Blizzard, Arcane Explosion, Frost Nova, Blink... couldn't keep up with it all.

A suggestion: Maybe you could drop a Minor Speed enchant on your mage's boots?
Certainly at 100g+ a day from dailies you can afford it :)

Other than that... we're not getting any younger, so I guess the only thing to do is practice. My mage is only level 16, so I don't have your "problem" yet :)
Forgive me for asking, but you are using your mouse (not keyboard) to turn, right?
Slightly off topic, but have you ever seen 2 locks AOE grinding using Seed of Corruption (at one of the manaforges in netherstorm)?

The pulls there are 2-3 mobs, and though some are casters, felhunters easily deal with them. Ideally each lock casts a seed on 2 different groups, pulling 8-10 mobs total, then another seed on the closest mob to that player. Immediately following their respective third seed cast, each lock casts a shadowburn on that mob 'detonating' that seed. This causes a chain reaction resulting in 6 seeds going off almost simultaneously (which is the ideal method to minimize damage taken) and 8-10 dead mobs in 6-8 seconds. Much less twitch response and skill is involved with AOE seeding, than AOE kiting, but more coordination/teamwork is needed, and it can not be done solo, unless the mobs have very low HP.
You are doing the same mistake I had done a long time ago. You try to learn it at the bare minimum level, it's too hard, you get disappointed and then you believe it's not worth it.

When I was 55 I tried it again. It's much easier at that level, so I could mater it without too much frustruation. It's not easy to practice something when your level is so low that it's barely doable!

Now, I'm leveling a second mage and I have started it since level 28. Of course with so much experience in the techniques, not it's easily doable, but only after I had tons of practice and opportunity to learn it in easier levels.

So, my recommendation is to wait until you're 40. With ice barrier and a mount, the pull gets much easier, and a good pull is the key to aoe grinding. You will be able to learn the tricks easier then, and believe me you will never go back.
this sorta thing isn't really needed anymore with the change in xp. and i always found it to be just as time consuming as anything else, due to the downtime.

if you are looking to mass farm, play an affliction lock, 10x better than a mage at this, with little to no downtime, and no deaths.

unless you are just doing it for fun, then have at it.
Forgive me for asking, but you are using your mouse (not keyboard) to turn, right?

That's probably one reason why it doesn't work. As mouselook causes me video game sickness, I always use the keyboard to move and turn. I can see how it would be faster with the mouse.
"I've watched my teenage son AOE grind - it's an art.
He was so good at it that he'd even farm honor in AV defending in front of Drek's lair.
Blizzard, Arcane Explosion, Frost Nova, Blink... couldn't keep up with it all."

Oh, and I forgot to mention...
My son was using a laptop, and using the laptop keyboard and touchpad (no separate keyboard and mouse) - I kid you not.
I have *no* idea how he managed it with that hardware config, but he'd farm the fields of the Western Plaguelands pre-TBC, and consistently be in the top 5 of the kill chart in AV.
"Forgive me for asking, but you are using your mouse (not keyboard) to turn, right?"

Of course he isn't. He's trying to run and turn with the keyboard and clicking to cast the spells.

To ae grind as a mage, you need to reverse that. Turn and move with the mouse, cast with the keyboard.
You should really work on getting over the mouselook sickness thing. Maybe do sessions in small bursts? It will really make your game movement a lot smoother and quicker if you can overcome it.
There's an alternative aoe method, however it works better when you have shatter and ice barrier.

Gather up the mobs and frost nova. Move a couple steps away, out of melee, and flamestrike. Cone of cold and then run blink if necessary.

Run, wait for frost nova cooldown, then nova again and repeat.

It's a lot safer with icebarrier and quicker with shatter crits.
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