Xornn looked around the party, standing amidst a throng of lizardmen, all gazing blankly about the base of the pyramid. Five of them, unmoving, in Xornn's enthrall. The high elf locked gazes with one of them and felt it's mind melt away, replaced by the high elf's desires. Returning his concentration the the other four scaled men, his new thrall joined the battle with the paladin and warrior, fighting a sixth lizard as the cleric tried to keep them healthy.
"We'd be lost if not for Xornn!"
Xornn frowned and looked over at them. "If you place so much faith outside yourself, you are lost already; no matter, I will guide you."
Welcome! After some determination (and a lot of solo- partner- hunting) I've reached the Ninth Circle. While still an Initiate, it's easy to see what the spell changes are doing for this Circle. Time to take a look at the new material we've been given to work with:
Anarchy - The long-awaited upgrade to Chaos Flux! If you think chain-nuking was developing some effectiveness during the Eighth Circle, you're going to be loving this one then. If you haven't chain-nuked yet, this will get you started. 273 damage at 34th, capping at 288 by 39th, for 160 mana--while that's a bit of a mana hog, it's still our most efficient nuke yet. You'll hear stories about it being resisted more, but I've spent several hours in a team where my job was to cast Anarchy twice, and saw no special resist rate. The casting time is 4.6 seconds... a real doosy, but it's not really off-par from a mage or druid nuke. The recast rate is 8 seconds as always, so go cook a hotdog while waiting for this puppy to ungrey, or just Chaos Flux to let the mob know you're still there.
Boltran's Animation - Now I haven't had the chance to just summon these little animations and make a damage scale, I've noticed something with Seventh and Eighth Circle. The cap changes about 4 points of damage, and spans about 5 levels. Currently, I've seen this guy hit for 32 tops, fitting the 4 point cap, and I'm guessing that would be a 30th level pet (one level above last spell rank seems to be the cap). I figure 26th to 30th is the pet level, ranging in damage from 24 to 32. This pet has a fair hit point base, good damage and being a fresh pet level, 26 to 29 mobs are blue, leaving you good chances to get pets higher than what you're hunting! (Always very very good.) Uses three Tiny Daggers, and is bought in Highhold Keep Library.
Cast Sight - Remember Shifting Sight way back when... which was Bind Sight with Infravision? Now you get Bind Sight with Ultravision. I like this one for screwing around while auctioning, but that's the only use it sees from me.
Enchant Platinum - I just got Jewelcrafting to 192! I hear the last 8 points are a pain, but I'm getting close! Anyway... enchanted platinum jewelry is an option without help now. I always charge 10% of the metals value to enchant metal. Bought in the Neriak Library.
Entrance - Upgrade to Enthrall! Still has the same casting time, and holds the mob for 72 seconds now! This spell is just awesome. Only hard part is counting TEN mana ticks before re-mezzing. At 85 mana, it's not too big a load for how much time to med it buys you. I'm in love with this one. Entrance has a 3.75 recast delay though, unlike Enthrall at 2.25 (the ungreying time all spells have)--get used to this little delay, and it might even have you keeping Enthrall memmed for a bit still. Still, Entrance is awesome for long-term mezzing, and I got into the habit of glancing at my analog clock's second hand and remezzing 1 minute later.
Gift of Magic - New Scars of Velious Spell! This spell sucks down 150 mana, and in exchange raises the maximum mana pool of the target by 50 for 1 hour. Now if they aren't going to meditate to full within that hour, this spell will offer no benefit, but casters (especially healers) will usually benefit from this extra rim-space on the mana bar. Bought from spell vendors in Iceclad Ocean (at the little pirate gnome village), which just meeting all the merchants and hailing a few makes this spell worth picking up..
Greater Shielding - Next in the general shielding line. +100 HP, +23 AC, and 16MR caps. Always up. This one is just a great spell. Just need Arch Shielding to finish out!
Illusion: Fire Elemental - Turns you into a fire elemental with a damage shield (9pts at 34th, caps at 16pts when you get to 60th). Carries the same KoS risks.
Insepid Weakness - Next upgrade to the STR debuff line. -35 STR debuff at 34th, capping at -51 STR by 50th, very impressive! Like all STR debuffs, sees little to no use, however -51STR is -51ATK, which does affect offensive ability, if minorly. Research spell, Salis Writ Left and Right page 60.
Mana Sieve - Drains mana from target, 214 at 34th, 370 at level 60. Doesn't give you mana, but doesn't cause damage, either. Mezzing a caster mob followed by this will let you drain them quickly--and handy vs a caster in a /duel. Research spell, Salist Writ left 90, right 90 (faded page).
Radiant Visage - Upgrade to Sympathetic Aura, capping at +30 CHA by 40th level! You should easily be able to hit 200 CHA by now if you want to. Research spell, Salis Writ left and right page 64.
Rune III - I found a new respect even for the older runes after toying with Rune III for awhile. Stops 168 damage at 34th for a 7gold Jasper regent, capping at 230 damage by 41st level, which is chump change at this Circle. Drop it for an emergency heal (especially on your pet), buff your pet with it, drop it on you in heavy charming situations to buy you time... it stacks with anything, so it's free 230 hit points for 7gold... trust me, that's a good deal. I'll mention Rune III in Kamikaze-Solo later!
Buffs-Solo - On yourself keep Clarity, Radiant Visage, Greater Shielding, and Rune III is a good idea. I'm starting to consider recommending always having your highest Rune up, actually. The regents cost little, and are quite worth it. The pet gets Augmentation, Strengthen, Obscure, and sometimes Rune III. My rune will last several fights, and the pets will oftentimes last to the very end of the fight. Alacrity was considered, and sometimes I use it, but Rune III is usually in my swap slot now, and I don't need to switch them that much.
Buffs-Group - Clarity casters, Haste tanks, then catch Clarity on the hybrids. Obscure them if someone else can't duplicate the effect, otherwise save your mana for crowd control and buffing. Remember to check if any Bards need CHA buffs.
Kamikaze-Solo - As if I haven't worshipped this style enough yet, there's a new way to do things now, which I'm not a big fan of, but I'll mention it. First off, with going with root-nuke-nuke, then Anarchy and Chaos Flux are your new team of heavy hitters. They shrivel mobs quickly, and you'll like them. stun-stun-nuke is becoming much more attractive, though the casting time on Anarchy is really long... 6 second stun, minus 1 sec to ungrey, minus 4.6 seconds to cast... that's right... 0.4 seconds to spare. I've tested it thoroughly, and you can still fit it in there, but it's pretty damned close. The new method just involves Tashani, Tepid Deeds, and watch your pet. Let him fight it to 60% of the mob's health left, then open with the nukes. You can often times get two nukes off, and the mob hasn't charged yet. I learned this from a mage, and here is my problem with it: Healing. The mage sits there then drops a heal on his pet before starting the nukes. While our heal is actually better (Rune III), it requires a regent which limits how many times we can do it. Tepid Deeds plus Rune III on our pet means the pet will go a long time before the Rune goes, but I believe it's best to just nuke THEN. When the mob rushes me, my pet isn't getting hit, and that's what I'm concerned about. I use Chain-Nuking now. Tashani pull, pet takes it off me, Tepid Deeds draws it off pet, then Root... usually get two or three nukes off before it breaks, and it's damned near dead at this point... so I often stun-lock it to finish, as the pet is just WAILING on it. This is a good time for soloing. Spell Lineup: Anarchy, Chaos Flux/Color Shift/Suffocate, Color Flux, Root, Enthrall, Tepid Deeds, Tashani, Swap Slot.
Reverse-Kite-Partner - I love doing this still, and giants have "kill me" written all over them. Grab a snare-class and have a ball... Chase the Moon (or let the necro use Invoke Fear) and Nuke/DoT to mana efficiency. I love blues still with this, for less downtime and better experience over all. (Not to mention more activity.) Spell Lineup: Anarchy, Suffocate, Color Flux, Root, Enthrall, Chase the Moon, Tashani, Swap Slot.
Charm-Solo - Rune III makes this tactic a little safer, and higher CHA doesn't hurt with resists. You can actually solo several Spectres at once in this Circle, but I don't suggest trying unless you are very comfortable with charm soloing (however this is usually where enchanters cut their teeth on charming). I've done a little charm-solo with mountain giants so far, but it's a tad dangerous. If charming isn't for you solo-wise, there's nothing wrong with that. Still, learn charming for group, you need the skill, whether used or not. Spell Lineup: Anarchy, Color Shift, Color Flux, Root, Enthrall/Mesmerize, Beguile, Tashani, Swap Slot.
Group-Tactics - Honestly, not one thing changed for group fighting. I'd gotten more comfortable charming, and Entrance allows me to perform some amazing crowd control, but outside of that nothing is different. Our three roles stick with us for life. Spell Lineup: Mesmerization, Color Shift, Color Flux, Root, Enthrall, Tepid Deeds, Tashani, Swap Slot (Beguile)
Other-Tactics - I don't really mention tactics like partnering with any non-snare types in the Circle descriptions, because they aren't often that accessible. This makes them no less useful, however. Partnering with a Paladin can be amazing, or finding a Magician you can convince that partner experience will be better. (Tough to do.) Look at it this way... if a Magician can kill 2 mountain giants every 9 minutes, you need to kill 4 every 9 minutes with two people for the same xp. Heading for 34th, I grouped with a mage and we dropped 5-6 giants every nine minutes.