These are the addons that you, a mage, simply CANNOT function without. Am I exaggerating? Sure, but not by much.
Frankly, every single character in all of WoW needs this addon. Well, ok, any character that has ever done anything in a group, or warlocks, or hunters, simply MUST have this addon. A threat meter of some sort is absolutely critical in any kind of instance or raiding environment, very useful in any multiplayer activity, and Omen just happens to be one of the best threat interfaces around.
Omen runs off the Threat 1.0 library (which addons like Pitbull, Aloft, and Recount also use) . Omen has the distinct advantage that it is extremely customizable, and pretty. That, and its backwards compatible with KLH Threat Meter (KTM), and will share threat data with that addon. Please keep in mind that KTM is an aggregate threat meter, and is incapable of distinguishing between multiple mobs, whereas Omen can, provided the mobs have different names. As it stands now, with the way combat logging is handled, mobs can only be distinguished by name (supposedly this is being revamped in 2.4, let’s all cross our fingers).
For example, if your group goes up against a pull with 2 Blitz Monkeys, 1 Erstwhile Badger, and 1 Ridiculously Over Sized Fern, KTM will not be able to distinguish between any of these mobs. Whereas Omen can distinguish the Monkeys from the Badger from the Fern, but it cannot distinguish between the 2 Monkeys.
In conclusion. Get it. Love it. Fail to understand how you ever did anything without it. Openly mock those without it.
The default WoW casting bar is horrible. Absolutely dreadfully bad.
First, we must consider lag. No matter how fast your internet connection is, there is going to be lag between you and the server. For me, I have between 100ms lag to 225ms lag, depending on whether I’m downloading latex pornography at the time. As you should know by now, when you press an ability, your WoW client sends the request to do that action to the server. Because of lag, you can send the request for your next action before the previous one has even finished.
Let’s say you have 500ms lag, whatever you press in takes half a second to get to the server. You press fireball. Half a second later, your character starts casting fireball. The default cast bar will display fireball casting all 3 seconds of it. When the cast bar ends, you can cast another spell, and you press fireball, and half a second later your character starts casting again. Y’see what happened there? Your character was doing nothing for half a second.
And this is where the beauty of Quartz comes in. On its cast bar, it will show you what your lag is, and display a portion of it in red. This red part is where you can press the button to begin casting “early”. In this case, the red part will display 500ms before the actual end of the bar. When you press the fireball button at the 500ms mark exactly, you send the request for the new fireball while your character is still casting. Due to the lag, it gets to the server at the same time as the previous fireball ends… and your little character begins casting RIGHT AWAY, not half a second later.
I refuse to acknowledge your presence without Quartz.
This is not a specific addon, but rather a type of addon to look for. You want something, anything, that can track debuffs/buffs on your target(s). As the most obvious example, you need something that will keep track of exactly how long your sheep will remain sheeped. In seconds. And display a little “cast bar” that shows how long it will be. Such as this:
It displays not only what the buff/debuff in question is, but what it’s cast on, and how much longer it will last for. This type of thing is a must have for mages, simply because sheeping is ridiculously necessary in PvE. Losing track of sheep is something that should never happen, and with this, you won’t lose track of it. Let the addon count it down for you.
And yes, it can count the polymorphs of other mages, or, really, ANY crowd control used by different classes.
Personally, I highly recommend Natur Enemy Cast Bar (NECB). Not only does NECB track debuffs like polymorph (and on multiple units, too), but it also displays your targets cast bar, and ANYTHING your target does. Say you’re fighting a rogue. Say the rogue pops sprint and cloak of shadows. NECB will show exactly how much longer (down to the tenth of a second) he will be affected by those buffs. It will also display what that rogue’s cooldown is on those abilities, and its persistent too. Say this rogue uses Vanish, and you both go off to do whatever. If you run into the rogue again a minute later, NECB will still be able to display to you what the cooldown is for his Vanish.
And it does all this with pretty colors.
That’s it, really. A threat meter, polymorph counter, and Quartz is all you really need. There are plenty of extras you can get that will make your magey life easier, however…
A lot of mages swear by Cryolysis2 for spell management. Basically, the addon provides a user friendly interface for the management of magey spells, most notably portals, food, gems, self buffs and the like that would otherwise use up a ton of button space. You can specify a specific bag for conjured items, mount up to either ground mounts or air mounts, and even set an option to auto-restock reagents when you visit a vendor. Lotsa funky options that can make your life easier, but it isn’t needed.
As I’m sure you’ve noticed by now, the default WoW interface doesn’t have nearly enough buttons. Personally, I have 72 buttons hotkeyed, and another 36 on screen manual clock buttons. Things like Rank 1 Blizzard and Fireball fall into the former category, whereas Ritual of Refreshment goes into the latter. In order to display all these, I use Bongos2, as it is simple and uses little memory. But, really, you can use whatever you like. Bartender3 is another popular choice. Whatever you choose, make sure it has a ton of buttons.
While not a role that really needs to be filled much at all… sometimes people do get cursed. And as a class that can cleanse it, you should do so. Decursive 2.0 is, undoubtedly, the bestest addon you can get for such a purpose. Personally, I have already rendered the addon useless by having whoever’s party frame turn purple and flash whenever they get cursed. But hey, you might find it useful, as it will also let you cast Rank 1 sheep on mind controlled targets.
Cover Your Cooldowns
Another really nice addon to get is something that adds text to a specific cooldown. By default, a button with a cooldown will grey out and gradually light up again, like a clock. Not a whole lot of info there, amiright? OmniCC is a very simple addon that adds text to a cooldown. Basically just a timer, in seconds, over an ability until it becomes useable again. Another excellent option is Cooling2, which essentially is the exact same as OmniCC, except that it displays Scrolling combat text (which you do use, right?) whenever an ability is ready to be used again. Essenially, if you’re too busy fighting stuff to notice when Ice Barier is ready to go again, you can have large blue text appear that says “ICE BARRIER IS READY”. Definitely handy, if you suffer from tunnel vision.