What’s Killing Your Mages?

3 Feb

I admit that I tend to get very defensive when I find others leaving comments or criticisms in the healing threads on my guild’s forums.  Specifically, others who are not healers.  Imaging my surprise when I logged in the other day and found a post labeled “Cauterize,” which I know to clearly be a mage talent.  My inner monologue went something like “Ugh, what the hell is a post about a stupid mage talent doing in the…”


Apparently, we have been losing our mages regularly to this talent and the GM/healing lead was kind enough to put up a post about this to remind us all what this talent does and how we should address it.  Sort of like what I’m about to do right now.  For those that may not be in the know, this is Cauterize:


Here are some other facts about Cauterize, not covered in the initial tooltip:

– The damage from the debuff can be mitigated through resistance or things that would increase your resistance (i.e. Fire Protection Aura or potions)

– Cauterize does not cause durability loss, as the mage’s death is considered a suicide.

– Cauterize is not triggered by fall damage.

It has a number of similarities to Guardian Spirit, in that both will take a player who would have otherwise died and will bring them back up to a respectable amount of health.  Where the similarities end is that Cauterize will start dealing damage to the mage in question and will quickly kill them if either the mage does not react to this or their healers do not respond to it.  Let’s break it down by numbers, to get a closer look at what we’re dealing with.

Let’s say a mage has 125,000 health, fully raid buffed and they get killed by a sweeping Modulation attack during the Atramedes encounter.  The mage returns to life with 50,000 health and now has a debuff on them that will start dealing 12% of their maximum health in damage every 1.5 seconds over 6 seconds (which comes out to 4 ticks).  In this mage’s case, that would be 15,000 damage per tick.  This can get ugly fast.

Tick 1:  50,000 – 15,000 = 35, 000 health remaining

Tick 2:  35,000 – 15,000 =  20,000 health remaining

Tick 3:  20,000 – 15,000 =  5,000 health remaining

Tick 4:  5,000 – 15,000 = dead

That’s assuming that no other environmental effects or other damage is coming in that wouldn’t kill the mage a whole lot sooner, like another Modulation, the Tracking debuff or Searing Flames (in keeping with the Atramedes example I mentioned earlier).  So I’m sure you can see why it’s important to understand what this talent does and understand how you should respond to it and how the affected mage can deal with it.

What They Can Do About It

The first thing a mage is going to want to do, if they realize they have the debuff (and that’s often the tricky part) is to cast Mage Ward on themselves and try to absorb some of the damage.  Mage Ward should always be the first thing a mage attempts to use.  Obviously, Mage Ward won’t absorb too much, but it can buy a mage some time for a healer to respond or for them to try something else.  If a mage knows they’re not going to need to use their Ice Block for anything anytime soon, they can certainly Ice Block out of it and remove the debuff completely and no damage will be received at all.  Most mages are loathe to use their cooldown for this purpose, from what I’ve seen on my brief research on this.  If push comes to shove, a mage can use Mana Shield, but this may not be advisable as fire mages are already prone to mana issues and that shield will absorb a lot of mana instead of the damage that would normally be taken.  That should be used only in extreme circumstances.

If a mage is prone to not realizing they have it or there is so much going on during a fight that they can’t react quickly enough, they can use Power Auras and the following export to assist with this:

“Version:4.4; target:true; icon:spell_fire_rune; buffname:cauterize; x:477; bufftype:2; alpha:0.5; owntex:true; isResting:0; combat:true; size:0.4; y:-38; texmode:2; ismounted:0; timer.h:3.94; timer.Texture:OCR; timer.enabled:true; timer.Relative:CENTER; timer.x:-27; timer.Transparent:true; timer.ShowActivation:true”

Healthstones, health pots, Lightwell charges and standing in helpful healing effects (like Healing Rain or Efflorescence) can also help a mage in dealing with the damage from Cauterize.

What You Can Do About It

One of the habits I picked up from being assigned to raid healing for a good portion of my healing career is to sprinkle a bit more healing on the shadow priests and warlocks, because they tend to hurt themselves at various points during a fight.  Now that I know that mages are doing it, too, I can make sure to lump them in that category and pay a bit more attention to them.

You can also make sure that you have the Cauterize debuff listed, in whatever raid frames or interface that you use,  so that you can identify that the debuff is on one of your mages (or more than one) and react appropriately. 

In closing, I think Cauterize is a wonderful talent to have and it can be a lifesaver, if handled correctly.  Mages have always had a reputation for being glass cannons of sorts and fire mages, especially.  The less time your mages spend dead, the more damage they can do and the faster things die, the less healing your healers should need to do.  Cauterize can certainly help you out with all of that.


10 Responses to “What’s Killing Your Mages?”

  1. Kurn February 3, 2011 at 2:28 pm #

    Great post, O! This is more detailed than I got on the guild forums, so thanks for the added info.

    Near as I can figure, a heal of 12-15k ought to ensure the mage with Cauterize lives, barring any other extraneous damage.

    At least, our mages, in 346/359 gear. 🙂

    • Oestrus February 3, 2011 at 2:37 pm #

      I don’t know! Maj seems to have some kind of teflon effect where heals just don’t quite work on him – lol

      Thanks for the praise, boss!

  2. Syl February 4, 2011 at 1:47 am #

    “we have been losing our mages regularly to this talent”

    I’m not sure I understand this correctly; what it really should be is, surely, that you’ve been losing mages a second time due to cauterize – mages that already died a first time before that?

    cauterize, nifty as it might sound, in my world should hardly ever need to be healed. because the mage shouldn’t die in the first place?
    to me it sounds like an excuse for an already horribly squishy class to be less sensible and careful during their pewpew and then point at the healers not healing their cauterize. basically the onus of trying not to die is taken away from them and given to the healers to take care of. I’ve plenty of things to deal with in a raid, am not sure I also need to track this – just like I expect sw-priests to have some sense when they use SW:death.

    it’s good to know about it for sure, but it should be an exception, a save situation just like GS, and not something mages rely on imo.
    if it was more similar to GS in the sense that it healed them up without a debuff, then I could see the benefit of them dying in order to get the 40%HP, but in this case it only makes the healers life harder. I find this talent very underwhelming since the mage seems to rely so entirely on somebody else’s help in order to benefit from it.

    • Oestrus February 4, 2011 at 8:13 am #

      Hi Syl,

      You are correct. We were losing our mages the first time to things other than Cauterize and then losing them again to the talent in question.

      I would normally agree with you that in a perfect world people shouldn’t die, but they do. You, as a healer and as a group of healers cannot prevent every accident, every death, every bit of AOE damage that goes out. It’s simply not possible. It’s a great goal to have, but it’s not realistic. People are going to die. That’s a given.

      I’m sure like in most situations that there are mages that handle this differently. There are ones who may be more careless and may use this talent to “save” them when they decide to be stupid and then expect us to save them again. Or there are mages that will use the talent to “pop” like a shaman might (though less voluntary) and pick up where they left off, in doing damage to help down a boss.

      As I wrote in the article, there are things a mage can do to help themselves. I really did try to show that and not have it all be placed on the healers. Hopefully, the mage in question will keep track of their own debuff and at least attempt to manage it themselves. If they exhaust all of their options, then they may need a heal. When I raid heal, I raid heal. I don’t discriminate based on class, debuff, etc. I don’t have that kind of time to go “Casting Prayer of Healing… Oh wait, is that a debuff. Nope, stopcast and Renew for you, sir!” If people need healing, I heal them.

      • Syl February 5, 2011 at 5:38 pm #

        “When I raid heal, I raid heal.”

        That’s my point though; if i’m raidhealing, i’m already healing all i can. it’s kinda obvious that i try and heal anyone close to death, no matter what he’s taking damage from. that includes a mage under cauterize – i don’t think i can afford to give him special treatment though, in many situations that simply wont work. and hence i question the benefits of all of this.
        but as you said, mages are hopefully prepared to deal with the side-effect themselves. in which case i don’t have to worry about it. 🙂

        • Kurn February 5, 2011 at 5:48 pm #

          The issue here is, I think, that when Cauterize procs for them, you have exactly six seconds to realize:

          a) Cauterize procced
          b) The health they currently have (40% of their health) is about to drop, very quickly
          c) Without additional healing, the mage is almost certain to die

          What prompted me to post about this on our guild forums was that healers didn’t seem to realize the mage was low on health until it was too late because when you casually glance at the mage’s health bar, it’s at 40%. “That’s fine,” one would think, “they don’t need a heal immediately.”

          In fact, though, they do. One of my mages needs a minimum heal of about 12k to ensure he’ll live through a Cauterize proc. By the time they’re low enough to really worry about them, you won’t have time to get a heal off.

          That’s why I brought this issue up to my healers and now my mages are very rarely dying from Cauterize unless it’s a wipe. 🙂

  3. Janyaa February 4, 2011 at 8:27 am #

    Great info, here! I do have a fire mage in my raid group and think I’ll add the cauterize debuff to my grid. My mage friend thanks you! 😛

    • Oestrus February 4, 2011 at 8:34 am #

      Thanks! I think it’s something I always had in my VuhDo interface, just by default, but I admit that I didn’t pay as much attention to it or didn’t give it the urgency it probably deserved. Like I said before, I had no idea this was such a problem. I was seeing it on message boards and even when I first pitched the idea to Matticus (who this article was meant for originally), he laughed and was like “Yes! We need this!” So it took me by surprise, too.



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    […] of healing, Oestrus explains how the Mage talent Cauterize works, how it kills them (softly? with song? Nah, just FIRE), and what you (assuming you are a healer) […]

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