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Emergency WoW Blogging.
Cataclysm. How apt a title for the new expansion for World of Warcraft. A few days ago (unbeknownst to me) Blizzard released a ton of new information about the changes coming to their classes when the WoW 1.5 hits the shops.

Hello folks, I want to start this blog by saying that if you don't play WoW or know anything about it then this will mean pretty much nothing to you so ya might want to not waste your time reading this.

As some of you will probably know, I am an arcane mage of gnomish descent in the universe of Azeroth. I am also a subscriber to the podcast "The Instance" which downloaded into my iTunes yesterday to be listened to at work this morning. Scott and Randy touched on changes coming to the mage class focussing mainly on two new spells:

Time Warp: 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.

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 channeled on top of Wall of Fog) or protecting a flag in a Battleground. 10-second duration. 30-second cooldown.

To start on a positive note 'Wall of Fog' sounds really interesting, I forsee hours of tinkering around with this spell to see the different kind of uses it can have. The most obvious (for PvE) being in boss fights where the boss summons a wealth of adds. I am all for mages having more crowd control abilities although, as a caveat, this will only really work if Blizzard reimpliment the need for crowd control which was woefully absent in Wotlk.

The 'Time Warp' I was a little underwhelmed by. I can't think of any mage who 5 days ago was thinking "What I really want for the next expansion is a Bloodlust spell," as quite frankly I have enough buttons to cock up the timing of. I play a mage because I enjoy melting the faces off my enemies and 'Time Warp' doesn't fit into that role for me. Bloodlust and Heroism has always been percieved by me to be a spell other (buff-supporting) classes do. With all the running around I do that interupts my casting the last thing I want is yet another spell that prevents me from firing off a well/ill timed nuke.

It is fine though, if that is the only change they make that doesn't sit right, I can deal with it. Imagine my dismay when I get home and log on to to read the full article on mage changes.

No food and water summoning until level 40. WHAT?!? B-b-but that is a defining spell in a mage. We are vending machines. Ok, I know that Blizzard's intent is that mages don't have problems with mana retention at lower levels but that, to me, also takes away from the experience of playing a mage. I remember when Mag's was a littler g-nomey worried that he might not make it through this fight as mana was low and a big lumbering giant was about to step on him. It introduced a level of planning and strategy into soloing that wasn't there for my hunter or warlock. Mana issues were integral to the mage's squishiness.

Now comes to the change that enraged me to the point of blogging. Long time readers will be aware that my blogs are generally written in the haze of an alcohol fueled rage-rant. It may shock you to know this but as of the writing of this blog, I am utterly sober. The following is the reason why.

With the introduction of the new stat 'Mastery' to replace damn near every other stat in the game, the mechanics behind talenting has also been changed quite severely. What Mastery does is tailor it's effects to the specific tree you follow in any given class.. If you are a Protection Warrior it will make you better at tanking, if you are a Holy Priest it will make you better at healing and if you are an Affliction Warlock it will make you better at applying D.O.Ts and whatever else it is Affliction Warlocks do.

What this means to an Arcane Mage is a passive bonus to Spell Haste and Spell Damage and it grants a bonus interestingly named as 'Mana Adept'. My first reaction to this is one of joy and excitement. As an Arcane Mage my primary worry, which I am sure is shared by all Arcane Mages, is the balance between my damage output and the amount of mana I am using.

To those who don't play mages much if at all this is because of the spell Arcane Blast which applies a buff that increases the damage of my arcane spells by 18% but increases the mana cost of my next Arcane Blast by 175%. This stacks up to four times and given that the spell is the foundation of the Arcane rotation, changes based on the parameters of the the situation. Say the boss is down to about 15-10% of it's health, this is commonly known as the time to blow all cooldowns and nuke. Hit Arcane Power, Icy veins and spam the hell out of Arcane Blast. Arcane power incidentally increases all damage and mana cost by 20%. You don't do this throughout the entire fight because the consumption of mana makes it unsustainable.

So back to exactly what Mana Adept does.
"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."

So let me get this straight Blizzard. I am never going to be able achieve my maximum damage because ALL my spells cost mana? I find it utterly appalling that this is being considered! It is like telling warriors that the more rage they have the less damage they will do. All this does is tell me that ultimately I will end up changing spec to Fire. Which I don't want to do but I just can't understand this change. Arcane is dead. Long live Fire.

Shamans get to walk around and hit things while they cast. Death Knights get to copy spell casts of enemies. Arcane Mages get to spend their time topping up their mana. Great.

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Don't despair just yet, there are going to be a bundle of other changes coming (probably to talents) that will explain why this move has been made. I rather doubt that things are as bleak as they may seem at the moment.

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