Each week Arcane Brilliance endeavors to give you a tiny peek into the vast and mysterious world of Mages. This peek comes at the cost of your very soul. Really, it totally does. Ok, so I'm lying. Your soul will be fine. No soul-related problems will come from reading Arcane Brilliance. That we're aware of.
Mages complain a lot. We do. A stroll through the first couple pages of threads over on the official Mage forums is more often than not like a guided tour of QQ central. For instance, as I write this there's a four-page topic on quitting the game over not being able to downrank spells anymore. Yes, it's terrible, but apparently a level one Warrior is considering leaving the game because he can't save a bit of mana on his main by casting rank 1 Frost Nova. I sense a great disturbance in the Force, as if one first-level Warrior cried out in terror and was suddenly silenced. I think we all share a great sense of loss here.
To be frank, in these heady days of Living Bomb spells that look like they might actually be useful, Frostfire Bolts that have the potential to be very, very powerful, Deep Freezes that have become instant cast and do nice damage, an Arcane tree that looks as if it can stand alone as a high-DPS tree, and of course Polymorph: Penguin, I feel as if there simply isn't much left for us Mages to complain about. In fact, as the Wrath beta progresses, I find more and more about our class that inspires an overall sense of optimism.
Still, I dream of better things. I'm happy at the direction we appear to headed in, but there a few things I wish for our class--a short list of improvements, most of which I have wanted for a very long time. I'm not finding fault, just wishing. A Mage can dream, can't he? Join me after the break for a brief Mage wish-list, the things I dream of when I'm not setting fire to Fel Orcs.
Reader Nickolas sent me a link to his forum post on the subject some time ago, and I liked his well-thought-out take. This is an idea I've seen brought up many times in our community, and it seems to have a lasting appeal to Mages. As Nickolas says, we in no way want to be a "pet class" similar to Warlocks or Hunters. The idea here is that of a small non-combat pet, one that grants some sort of passive buff or other benefit. We don't want to manage a pet, we don't need any additional buttons to hit. We aren't asking for a tank here, or any kind of controllable pet for that matter.
Nickolas points out that the idea of a Mage familiar dates back almost to the origins of the gaming archetype, being a magic-user spell in the original Dungeons & Dragons manual. It's a very wizardly mechanic, to be sure, and would fit quite easily into the WoW game world and class lore. There really isn't a conflict here that I can see.
My personal ideal for how this concept could be implemented is as follows:
The Mage would be able to cast a channeled, out-of-combat spell that would summon a small non-combat pet that would then follow the Mage for a moderate to long time period. This pet could be drawn from the Mage's immediate surroundings, possibly a critter native to the Mage's current zone. A Mage in Elwynn Forest would have a chance to summon a cat or chicken, while in The Barrens that same Mage might find himself accompanied by a dig rat or a prairie dog. A Mage traveling through Tanaris might summon a tiny scorpion, or deep inside The Steamvault the spell might call forth a crab or frog. This would lend the spell a bit of flavor and variety.
Once summoned, the familiar would not be controllable, but would grant the Mage and his party or raid a passive buff. This buff would be significant, but not any more-so than other class buffs. The buff could even be tied to the type of familiar you end up summoning, so that different pets and zones would give different buffs, though I could see that becoming problematic. Types of buffs could range from flat spell-damage or mana regen to things like spell haste, spell hit, or some kind of resistance aura.
I just love the concept of a Mage familiar, and it feels so incredibly appropriate for the class. There are certainly other ways in which this idea could work, and many are presented in Nickolas' original post and the thread that follows. A mechanic like this doesn't seem like it would throw off class balance, and it doesn't strike me as a spell that would be difficult to implement. Most importantly, it would be great fun, and that's why we play this game.
We love this spell, we really do. It's perfect for the Mage class, the concept of bending space for just an instant and blinking forward 20 yards instantaneously. In concept, it's a perfect escape mechanism for a class that relies upon its ability to stay out of striking range and avoid damage. If only it worked.
Reader Senitor Troll called my attention to a well-written post and subsequent thread on the official forums that addresses the issue. Blink is plagued by a bug that makes it stop working on uneven terrain, when near a wall or gap, in doorways, narrow areas, near water, when the moon is full, in the presence of others, during the Jewish New Year, or on any day that ends in the letter "Y." The problem isn't so much that a bug exists. Bugs and glitches come and go, and we learn to live with them in a persistent game such as this. The problem is that this particular bug has been a part of being a Mage since the game was released. It's so bad that even on seemingly flat, uninterrupted terrain, like a road or plain, the spell often doesn't work. I've had it backfire on the freaking Shimmering Flats, for crying out loud.
A Rogue jumps out of stealth and starts to stab you in the backside. Realizing that you only have about 2 seconds to live at the rate he's depleting your meager health bar, you Frost Nova him in place and Blink away to safety. Only you actually don't. Instead you vanish and reappear two steps backward. The Rogue grins and resumes his stabbing, and you're dead long before the cooldowns on either spell run out.
A fix for this would be a huge benefit to Mages, without question. This isn't any new spell I'm asking for. All I'm wishing for here is a fix to a spell we've had since day one. It doesn't need to be improved, just repaired to work as originally intended. I no longer want hitting my Blink hot-key to be a constant adventure. If there's a clear spot 20 yards ahead of me when I hit it, that's where I want to go. I don't want to go nowhere, I don't want to go sideways, and I certainly don't want to reappear impaled upon the blade of the Rogue I just tried to get away from.
I know I'm being selfish here, but I love teleporting. I think we all do. I understand that getting around is part of the game, and even Mages should have to get on their Skeletal Warhorses and ride somewhere sometimes. Still, I would love to be able to teleport a few more places. Stonard was a welcome addition, and I'd love a few more in that vein, to provide more convenient access to some of the more out-of-way instances in the game. Someplace like Silithus, Eastern Plaguelands, Tanaris, Netherstorm, or Badlands would be really nice. I'm not sure anyone would protest having access to more portals, even if they hate Mages.
This spell has been mentioned as a possibility for our level 80 spell. World of Raids lists the spell description as follows, along with the caveat that the spell is not yet implemented:
10% of base mana
Instant cast - 3 min cooldown
Creates 3 copies of the caster nearby, which cast spells and attack the Mage's enemies. Lasts 30 seconds.
I lust after this spell. Now, I understand the spell may never come to fruition, and even if it does, it almost certainly won't end up the way I envision it. The spell description fills my head with delicious thoughts of being able to essentially multi-box every 3 minutes for 30 seconds, a mental picture of four Undead Mages who look just like me walking out of an Arena tunnel in lockstep and casting simultaneous PoM-Pyroblasts on an unsuspecting Warlock. It's a nice dream, but totally ridiculous, of course.
I have so very many questions about this spell. Will the copies be killable? Controllable? Dispellable? What spells will they cast? What kind of damage will their spells do? Can I have my copies perform mundane tasks for me, like mowing the lawn or changing diapers? Will my copies then make copies of themselves, and will hilarity ensue?
However they decide to finally implement this, I want it. Most likely, the spell will deliver one of two things, or a mixture of both. Either the copies will be weak versions of the Mage that summoned them, casting random nukes and doing a decent amount of extra DPS, or they will simply be a survivability technique, doing no noticeable damage but appearing to cast spells, giving your enemies a 75% chance to target the wrong Mage and kill a copy instead of the real Mage. Either way sounds fun to me, and hopefully the spell is actually implemented, whatever form it eventually takes.
Well, that's my short list. I'm sure you all have other things you'd wish for Mages, and I'd love to see what they are. I like where our class is headed, but that doesn't stop me from wanting more. I'm a greedy prick, and I'm okay with that.
Every week Arcane Brilliance teleports you inside the wonderful world of Mages and then hurls a Fireball in your face. Check out our recent look at the potential of the new Frostfire Bolt spell, or our analysis of the WotLK beta changes to the Arcane and Fire trees. If you're sick and tired of all this Mage-talk, there's a veritable treasure trove of guides and tips related to all of the other aspects of WoW over in the WoW Insider Directory. Until next week, keep the Mage-train a-rollin'.