Good news, guys. Polymorph: Rabbit is finally here. You can stop writing angry letters to Blizzard; they've finally heard your pleas. On the PTRs for patch 3.1, you can now change your opponents into a rabbit, providing you a much-needed alternative to only being able to change them into a sheep, penguin, pig, turtle, black cat, serpent, or a smoldering pile of ash. I think I speak for everyone when I say: Thank God. We can only hope it'll cost a stupid amount of gold to procure.
Aside from that (and I hope you can see the sarcasm dripping from every word up there), there just isn't that much to get excited about here for Mages. We were promised several things, and you'd have to be truly skilled at seeing silver linings to view any of the documented or undocumented changes we know about at this point as Blizzard even approaching delivery on any of those promises. I'm not thrilled.
I'll go in depth on these changes in Saturday's Arcane Brilliance, and maybe we'll know more by then, but for now, let me list the changes with my brief impressions of them.
The actual changes are posted first, with my initial reactions to them in italics directly after each.
Patch Notes for Mages
- Arcane Blast stacking effect is no longer considered a Magic effect and will not be dispelled. This is a needed change. I have zero problem with it, but it should have happened a long time ago.
- Improved Water Elemental: Renamed Enduring Winter. Instead of the Water Elemental increasing mana regeneration for the Mage's party, casting Frostbolt now has a 33/66/100% chance to provide the Replenishment buff to up to 10 people in the Mage's party or raid. As you'll see in the undocumented changes below, this isn't exactly accurate. I'll hold my tongue until you get to that listing.
Undocumented Mage Changes
- Mage Armor has been increased to allow 50% of your mana regneration to continue while casting. (Previously 30%) We sort of knew this was coming. As you'll see, the talents in the Arcane and Fire trees that grant mana regen while casting are similarly buffed. This is to counterbalance the across-the-board nerf to spirit-based mana regeneration also coming in this patch. Essentially, it will ensure that these talents grant about the same amount of regen post-patch that they do now. It's not really a buff, and not really a nerf, either.
- *New Spell* Polymorph Rabbit - Transforms the enemy into a harmless rabbit, forcing it to scamper around for up to 50 sec. While wandering, the rabbit cannot attack or cast spells but will regenerate very quickly. Any damage will transform the target back into its normal form. Only one target can be polymorphed at a time. Only works on Beasts, Humanoids and Critters. Super.
- Arcane Meditation (Tier 4) Allows 17/33/50% of your mana regeneration to continue while casting. (Previously 10/20/30%) Again, this change isn't the buff that it may seem to be. It only serves to counter the nerf to spirit-based regen. As a by-product, it also makes this talent even more of a must-take talent for PvE than it already was.
- Burnout (Tier 10) now only affects Fire Spells. (Previously affected all spells) This doesn't change much, as for the most part only deep Fire and Frostfire Mages have access to this talent anyway.
- Pyromaniac (Tier 7) now allows 17/33/50% of your mana regeneration to continue while casting. (Previously 10/20/30%) Now, I'm not on the PTR to test this out, but I'm assuming the other part of this talent, the extra 3% crit chance, is still intact. If not, this is unacceptable. If so, this is another change made solely to counterbalance the spirit nerf.
- Improved Water Elemental (Tier 9) has been renamed Enduring Winter. It now increases the duration of your Summon Water Elemental spell by 5 sec and your Frostbolt spell has a 33/66/100% chance to grant the Replenishment effect to up to 10 party or raid members mana regeneration equal to 0.25% of their maximum mana per second for 15 sec. Okay. This is as close as we get to the fulfilment of any of the promised Mage changes. Frost Mages get replenishment. The replenishment mechanic is tied to the main nuke, Frostbolt, so it will be up constantly without any change in the rotation Frost Mages were already using. I guess this is a stab at giving Frost Mages more raid utility, but I'm just not seeing it. Chances are there's already another class (Shadow Priest, Survival Hunter, Retribution Paladin) offering a replenishment buff in your raid, and these buffs don't stack. Oh well, at least now Frost Mages have a bit more to offer a raid. We'll see how this works out.
Undocumented Glyph Changes
- Glyph of Ice Lance - Your Ice Lance now causes 4 times damage against frozen targets higher level than you instead of triple damage. (Old: Increases the range of your Ice Lance by 5 yards) I suppose this is Blizzard's way of giving you a reason to use Ice Lance in raids? It's a positive change to the glyph, as the old range-increasing functionality wasn't very useful in PvE. I just hope this isn't all Blizzard had in mind when they promised "PvE Shatter combos."
- Glyph of Ice Armor - Your Ice Armor and Frost Armor spells grant an additional 50% armor and resistance. (Old: 20%) A good PvP change that makes a glyph that was previously of dubious worth more valuable.
- Glyph of Deep Freeze (new) - Increases the range of Deep Freeze by 10 yards. A welcome change, though I would have preferred a glyph that PUT BACK THE DAMAGE THE COMPONENT making the spell worthwhile in PvE. The extra range is nice for PvP, though.
- Glyph of Living Bomb (new) - The periodic damage from your Living Bomb can now be critical strikes. Awesome. Really, this makes Living Bomb even more useful as part of a PvE rotation. I'm a fan of this change. It's a DPS increase. I'm always a fan of DPS increases.
- Glyph of Arcane Barrage (new) - Reduces the mana cost of Arcane Barrage by 20%. I'm assuming this is a way to counterbalance the recent damage nerf this spell suffered, and make it a worthwhile part of a PvE rotation again. I just think it's stupid that I have to waste a glyph slot to make the spell worth the mana cost again.
- Glyph of Mirror Image (new) - Your Mirror Images gain the Winter's Chill talent, granting their Frostbolt spell a 100% chance to apply the Winter's Chill effect, which increases the chance spells will critically hit the target by 1% for 15 sec. Stacks up to 5 times. I need some time to run the numbers on this before I decide on committing glyph slot on it, but it sounds like a decent DPS increase to me. It'd certainly be nice to have a better reason to blow the cooldown on this spell every time it's up during boss fights, and a potential 5% crit chance bonus that applies to everybody (which is what it sounds like this does) would do that and then some. More on this in Saturday's Arcane Brilliance, after I get a chance to look into it more closely.
- Glyph of Ice Barrier (new) - Increases the amount of damage absorbed by your Ice Barrier by 30%. Another good PvP glyph. This one will certainly be worthy of a slot for just about any PvP Frost Mage.
Patch 3.1 brings us Ulduar, dual specs, significant changes to all the classes, and more! We've got you covered from top to bottom with our Guide to Patch 3.1.