Mage changes in Cataclysm revealed, part one of ?

At last! The mage changes were previewed by Blizzard. They said the 9th and a just a little bit before midnight Blizzard time is still the 9th—so take that people who didn’t think it would come out! OK, let’s get to it.

It may surprise you that mages are becoming warlocks, priests, and shamans. I’ll let Blizzard explain how…

New Spells

Flame Orb (available at level 81): Inspired by Prince Taldaram’s abilities in Ahn’kahet and Icecrown Citadel, this spell allows the mage to cast a flaming orb that travels in front in a straight line, sending beams that cause fire damage to passing targets. Once it’s cast, the mage is free to begin casting other spells as the Flame Orb travels. While the spell will be useful to any spec, Fire mages will have talents that improve it, possibly causing the Flame Orb to explode when it reaches its destination.

Approved. Quite keen and obviously borrowed from the flaming sphere spell of D&D. This is good. One thing you can do with flaming sphere is move it around with mental commands so I wonder if some day fire mages will be able to do the same thing with a special talent. Aside from that, I can’t immediately think of a battle where this would be especially useful. Typically, one is either fighting a gaggle of trash who’re all clumped or a boss—surrounded by a gaggle of trash—so I’m not quite sure how much of a punch you’ll get from the orb traveling across the room. Unless its area of damage is especially large or something.

Ideally, this spell would be perfect for a boss being tanked at one end of the room, a gaggle of trash in the middle, and you at the other end of the room. The flame orb would travel through the gaggle of trash on its way to explode on the boss. As it is though, it sounds like a way to cast an AoE while then being able to begin casting another AoE.

In short: Big DPS boost this spell is.

P.S. It would be much more entertaining if the orb followed a target, but I guess that would have bad implications in PvP or whatever. Ugh. Stupid PvP cocking things up again.

Time Warp (level 83): Grants a passive Haste effect much like Bloodlust or Heroism to party or raid members. It also temporarily increases the mage’s own movement speed. Time Warp will be exclusive with Bloodlust and Heroism, meaning you can’t benefit from both if you’ve got the Exhaustion debuff, though the movement-speed increase will still work even when under the effects of Exhaustion.

Approved. More haste is always good and if that benefits the party then that’s good too—but will it give the exhaustion debuff to others when I use Time Warp? I assume not. The language suggests that the two only relate to each other when Heroism is cast first.

This is also more to keep track of for mages and raid leaders. In addition to constantly asking “when do you want Hero?” there’ll be a “when do you want Time Warp?” (Which will be reduced to “warp” because everyone has to keep it street.) Still, it’s more things we can do than stand stock still and DPS, with an occasional CC.

Wall of Fog (level 85): Creates a line of frost in front of the mage, 30 yards from end to end. Enemies who cross the line are snared and take damage. The mana cost will be designed to make Wall of Fog efficient against groups, not individuals. This spell is intended to give mages a way to help control the battlefield, whether the mage is damaging incoming enemies (Blizzard can be channelled on top of Wall of Fog) or protecting a flag in a Battleground. 10-second duration. 30-second cooldown.

Neutral. This sounds cool—and probably impractical in a dungeon situation—but that won’t keep me from casting it as much as I can, if even to snare a couple of trash mobs. But you know what now that I think about it? I bet that this spell is very expensive mana-wise. And considering other changes (see Mana Adept below) I, in real practice, probably won’t cast this hardly at all. I don’t PvP so I don’t think I’ll be seeing this very much.

Except when I cast it in major cities for special effects and to have random cosmetic fun. 😉 So, it’s kind of a waste.

Changes to Abilities and Mechanics

Arcane Missiles is being redesigned to become a proc-based spell. Whenever the mage does damage with any spell, there is a chance for Arcane Missiles to become available, similar to how the warrior’s Overpower works. The damage and mana cost of this spell will be reworked to make it very desirable to use when available. This change should make gameplay more dynamic for the mage, particularly at low levels.

Approved. This is a sensible change. No one casts Arcane Missiles unless it’s a part of a Missile Barrage. Though sometimes I’ll cast it when it’s not barraged to rein in my DPS while still doing something, but that’s hardly what I would call a good use of the default state of a spell.

We are planning to remove spells that don’t have a clear purpose. Amplify Magic, Dampen Magic, Fire Ward, and Frost Ward are being removed from the game, and we may remove more.

Approved for Amplify and Dampen. No one casts them because no one wants to reduce the healing a PC gets and there are too many battles that combine physical damage and spell damage for either of these to be safe. I suppose there could be purely physical fights were Amplify would be helpful for healing, but such fights are usually trash fights and no boosting is required anyway.

Denied for Fire Ward and Frost WardFire Ward does have a clear purpose and I actually use it—because I fight fire-based monsters in dungeons and I can see when it has an affect because the system tells me I’ve resisted X amount of damage where sans ward I was not. So … what now? What’s this all about? I don’t use Frost Ward, I admit. Doesn’t seem to come up all that often and I forget about it. I wonder why that is—frost is as valid a source and potency of damage as fire, right? I guess fire’s more scary and common.

Anyway, these are useful spells. For Blizzard to say they don’t have a clear purpose I take that to mean when they look at the behavior of players hardly anyone casts them. And if no one uses them then their purpose is not clear, or clear and compelling enough.

If that’s the case, then, yeah. Eliminate them, I guess. Or maybe make us warded all the time, passively?

The ability to conjure food and water will not become available until higher levels (likely around level 40), as we’re making changes to ensure mages generally won’t run out of mana at lower levels. Once mages learn how to conjure food and water, the conjured item will restore both health and mana.

Denied. More people than mages eat mage food. Isn’t that why we can conjure food tables? I use Evocation more than my own food to restore my mana anyway. Truly the food is almost always for other people.

Having it restore both health and mana even at low levels is good. Now, it’s been so long I assume the case right now is low-level conjured items only restore mana, not health? Because Mana Strüdel restores both.

Scorch will provide a damage bonus to the mage’s fire spells. Our goal is for Scorch to be part of the mage’s rotation and a useful damage-dealing ability, even if someone else is supplying the group with the spell Critical Strike debuff. Scorch will provide the mage with more specific benefits, which can also be improved through talents.

Approved. I don’t use it much at all myself, but I hear “damage bonus” and I’m all for it. 😉

New Talents and Talent Changes

Arcane Focus will now return mana for each spell that fails to hit your target, including Arcane Missiles that fail to launch. We want Arcane mages to have several talents that play off of how much mana the character has and give the player enough tools to manage mana.

Approved. Although with +hit being the #1 thing for mages to acquire, I wonder how practically useful this will be. Of course, +hit may not be the #1 when Cataclysm comes out, so this may have a more significant impact than what we can envision today.

The talent Playing with Fire will reduce the cooldown of Blast Wave when hit by a melee attack, instead of its current effect.

Approved—I guess? Sounds like a fire mage thing.

Pyromaniac will grant Haste when three or more targets are getting damaged by the effects of your damage-over-time (DoT) fire spells.

Approved—for fire mages. What’s with all the fire? How about some arcane love?

The Burnout talent will allow mages to cast spells using health when they run out of mana.

Approved. Wait. What? We’re warlocks now? Can I get some DoT fries to go with that shake?

Mastery Passive Talent Tree Bonuses

Mana Adept: Arcane will deal damage based how much mana the mage has. For example, Arcane mages will do much more damage at 100% mana than at 50% mana. If they begin to get low on mana, they will likely want to use an ability or mechanic to bring their mana up to increase their damage.

Approved. I admit I don’t keep a super-sharp eye on my mana because it usually works out that I have plenty. In some fights (usually Mr. Sourfang in Icecream Citadel) I tend to run low and have to Evocate during the battle, but really having to do something like that is the exception, not the rule.

So, this will force me to be more mana conscious and keep me from casting Wall of Fog, and while this is additional work on my part, it spices things up a bit. A side effect though is that we’ll be hitting the strudel a lot between battles to top everything off.

Wait, we’re priests now? Can I have some self-healing to go with that?

Ignite: All direct-damage fire spells will add a damage-over-time (DoT) component when cast. The flavor will be similar to how Fireball works; however, the DoT component will be much stronger.

Approved. A good DoT for mages? Hells yeah! (Get it? Hells? Fire talent?) Anyhoo, this will get me to dual spec into fire to see what the DoTs are like. As it is today, I have no interest in exploring fire magery.

Deathfrost: Casting Frostbolt places a buff on the mage that increases the damage for all frost, fire, and arcane spells. The only damage spell that won’t be affected by this buff is Frostbolt.

Approved … I guess? I don’t know, this isn’t a very strong talent compared to the other two. Arcane is +damage, fire is +damage, and frost is—for everyone but you. Where’s the fun in that?
So, you’re a shaman now? Can you get some totems to go with that?
That’s the preview! Lots to think about. and more approved things than denied things, so that’s good.
You think there’ll be another preview before Cataclysm comes out? What did you think of these changes?
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Geek. (But so are you!)

Posted on April 10, 2010, in World of Warcraft. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. I think you overlooked the one thing that effects Arcane Mages the most.

    Mana Adept: Arcane will deal damage based how much mana the mage has. For example, Arcane mages will do much more damage at 100% mana than at 50% mana.

    This in effect causes every spell cast to do LESS damage. No other class or spec will do that. Rage for Warriors, Energy for Rogues and Runes fro DKs do the opposite. They have effectively killed the Arcane spec for anything but novelty. Unless you are at 100% mana, it will be a increasing debuff to everything you do.

    • That’s technically true, but I imagine that the difference between 100% and 50% mana—which is where I usually end fights at—won’t be super hugely significant otherwise you’d be right, there’d be no point in playing.

      If I had to guess, which I do, I’d bet arcane at 100% mana does more damage than another spec, does about the same at 50% mana, and does less at low mana. Thus, over the course of a long fight the arcane Mage will even out over the other specs.

      But where the arcane spec will excel is at short fights, especially trash fights that don’t take a lot of mana.

      Thus, arcane mages will still top the damage meters but when you look at Total Damage Done they’ll be on par with the other specs.

      It’s all good.

      As well, they’ve said (somewhere, I think) that our mana retention is going to be better, didn’t they? That’ll help keep arcane a lot.

  2. Nurfing Arcane is obviously the goal. They want clearly are bored of watching people specing arcane. The want people to play Frost and Fire. I haven’t re-speced my arc to fire but I think I just might do it. You read about fire all over elitist jerks with cata.
    Frost is always a good second spec for when crowd control is needed. Funnily enough many of the earlier Cata instances require crowd control 🙂

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