Welcome to Arcane Brilliance, the weekly mage column that champions the causes of wizards everywhere, be they fiery, frosty, or arcane...y. The top issue facing the mage community right now? Warlocks: how to get the stink out of your robes after setting one on fire? Fear not, Arcane Brilliance has the solution: when killing warlocks, always stand upwind.
Since last we convened as a body of mages, no fewer than two new builds have descended upon the PTR, heralding a slew of upcoming changes for our class. Alex wrote an excellent post covering the first few of these, but a few more nuggets of newness have surfaced since then that need to be addressed. And since I'm a diagnosed (and unrepentant) completionist, we're going to go ahead and double back to analyze those earlier changes as well. The next installment of our mage leveling guide will come next week.
So without further preamble, let's look at the changes, shall we?
- Improved Scorch: The debuff from this talent no longer stacks, and instead can apply the full effect from a single cast of Scorch.
- Glyph of Improved Scorch now increases the damage of your Scorch spell by 20%.
Speaking of gifts...
- Firestarter: When this talent is triggered, it makes the next Flamestrike cost no mana in addition to being instant.
But now not only will that Flamestrike be instant, it will also be free. First we get free Missile Barraged Arcane Missiles, and now we get free instant Flamestrikes. If Blizzard is starting some kind of free instant spell bandwagon here, I'm totally on board.
AoE, a niche Blizzard has always wanted mages to fill, will now be much more mana efficient, meaning more warlocks will be barbecued more often, for longer. I'm told this really brings out their flavor. And the AoE mana conservationism doesn't stop there:
- Blast Wave: The mana cost of this talent has been significantly reduced.
- Dragon's Breath: The mana cost of this talent has been significantly reduced.
- Burning Determination: The duration of interrupt immunity granted by this talent is now 20 seconds.
- Frozen Core now also causes your Ice Lance criticals to reduce the cast time of your next Frostbolt or Frostfire Bolt by 0.4/0.7/1 seconds.
Along with the Water Elemental glyph change below, this is a very big step along the path toward making Frost a raid-viable spec. We've asked for this kind of thing for an entire expansion, and Blizzard kept promising they were looking into the issue. Well, it seems they actually were looking into it, and these two changes are what they've come up with. Both changes are game-changers, potentially effective, undeniably creative, and highly intriguing.
Here's what the Frozen Core change figures to do:
Assuming you can find the three talent points in your Frost build to put into this formerly useless talent, you can now use Ice Lance as part of your Shatter combos again. Ice Lance's global cooldown, with a goodly amount of haste, is pretty close to one second. When it crits, it'll remove a full second from the cast time of your next Frostbolt (the spell you'd ordinarily be casting instead of Ice Lance in your Shatter combo). So in theory, throwing an Ice Lance in there doesn't cost you anything. It'll be free damage, more or less. Welcome back, fun Shatter combos. We missed you.
- Glyph of Eternal Water - Your Summon Water Elemental now lasts indefinitely, but your Water Elemental can no longer cast Freeze.
- Water Elemental: Waterbolt mana cost reduced by 80%.
Together, these two changes will go a long way toward making Frost mages competitive in PvE DPS. You can bet I'll be keeping a close eye on the testing process to see how this plays out in actual application. I never thought that I'd live to see the day (mostly due to my severe addiction to raw cookie dough, which I'm moderately surprised hasn't killed me already) when all three mage trees would be considered raid-viable, but this PTR has given me hope. What do you guys think? Is this going to work, or have I been bamboozled? And any Frost mages on the PTR...how are these changes treating you?
Every week Arcane Brilliance teleports you inside the wonderful world of mages and then hurls a Fireball in your face. Check out our recent two-part look at what Cataclysm will mean to Mages, or our ongoing series of mage leveling guides. Until next week, keep the Mage-train a-rollin'.