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Arcane Brilliance: The end of an era

Arcane Brilliance brought to you today by Dominic Hobbs; soon to be your one-stop source of caster goodies at WoW.com

Welcome, mages, to this most unusual and unexpected issue of Arcane Brilliance. I'm sure many of you have noticed that your beloved Mr. Pants is not here today, and you're wondering what "that warlock guy" is doing writing AB. Well, it seems that Blizz has decided to put an end to the rivalry between mages and warlocks with an audacious change to the make-up of casters within WoW.

No doubt some have already read the blue posts that have made it into the recent Cataclysm class change threads so this post will come as no shock to you -- but for those that have not, my aim today is to not only repeat their words but also try to analyse their impact, as we see it here at WoW.com. So take the jump after the break and we'll learn more about the merging of the mage and warlock classes.

The post that started this flow of information (that quickly became a flood) was this one on the warlock changes thread:

Zarhym - Cataclysm Class Preview - Warlock
On the continued acquisition of 'mage-like' spells by warlocks, we are aware that this meets with disapproval by some warlocks. However we have a very specific goal in mind for the future of the class and see this as a necessary part of it. I think when you see the whole thing you'll agree it's really pretty cool.

Obviously this threw up many posts of speculation, questions and not a little concern. Not only from warlocks but also many mage players who shared many of the concerns of the warlocks, though from a different viewpoint. I can only assume that the sheer weight of opinions led to the following announcement being issued:

Zarhym - Cataclysm Class Preview - Warlock
As we continue to develop this game we find many new and exciting avenues to explore, not only new areas, such as Outlands and Northrend but new classes such as Death Knights and others we have on the drawing-board. Unfortunately it becomes increasingly difficult to introduce more complexity to an already highly complex game, especially as we endeavour to ensure that our game is balanced and accessible to new players.

As well as developing new and interesting game elements we have also learned what has not worked so well within our original design. In particular we have concerns about the class balance for casters.

There has been an ongoing rivalry between the mage and warlock communities and we see a lot of this is due to the glaring similarities between the two classes. There is also a high level of confusion for new players as to which of these pure spell-caster classes they should select. As more game-play balancing changes have been made this division has further blurred. Not only have warlocks gained many mage-like spells but there is increasing call within the mage community for permanent pets.

In delivering the mage-like spells to warlocks we have noticed that before long in Cataclysm there will be no clear role for mages. As such we will be merging the classes into one.

Exact details of how this will happen will be provided soon.

This was pretty amazing news indeed, but I for one agree that the homogenization of the classes has led to some confusion. I am also pretty excited by how this change could open the door for further classes to be introduced.

The WoW.com leads have let me know that an un-named source within the Blizzard dev team has confirmed that last weeks Arcane Brilliance did in fact help push forward this decision. The title image was so evocative of mage-voidwalker concept art that they felt the community was finally ready to accept the changes.

Anyway, we can't really draw many conclusions from this first announcement but thankfully they already had the info we were looking for and it didn't take long to be posted. So now lets look at the details.

Zarhym - Cataclysm Class Preview - Warlock
We want to get as much information as we have available to you as quickly as we can so here's the first of a series of posts that will start to explain the details of how we see this change coming about.

From the release of patch 4.0 the mage class will cease to be within the game. Existing mage players will be converted to warlocks and have access to all the spells, talents and abilities of that class.

In order to accommodate all races that can currently support the mage class, warlocks will subsequently be able to select from the Troll and Draenei races.

Mage utility spells such as portals and conjured food will be available to be learned from the warlock trainers.

Many of the talents from the arcane and frost trees will be transferred to the imp minion. Imps will have a similar talent selection tool to hunter pets.

Some of the mage trainers have embraced the change and will be serving as warlock trainers going forward, while others have given up altogether and will no longer talk to players.

We will endeavor to ensure all the remaining 'cool' mage spells are passed to warlocks so those players being transferred will feel more at home.

Mages will continue to play a role as NPCs in the game but this merging will allow us room to introduce further new player character classes in the future.

So as we can see the mage class will no longer exist within Cataclysm and so there will be little obvious need for the Arcane Brilliance column. While this is something we are still discussing here at WoW.com, it is possible that it will live on to cover the exciting changes being made to imps. I have heard that while Christian Belt was a little too emotional at the news to give any clear (or at least coherent) indication, he is interested in continuing with us fulfilling the roll of Imp columnist.

I appreciate that this news will be of some consternation to both mages and warlocks and while we're looking at what will probably be a fairly bumpy road ahead I can assure you that we will do all we can to ease the transition. We already have a series of Blood Pact articles that will explain the use of the various demons you will need to get to grips with. Alongside those articles you will also find information on other topics that many mages haven't had need to address before -- such as threat management on bosses, which is important when you can do enough damage to actually run the risk of over-aggroing the tank.

While I'm sure there will be those who feel this is the worst thing to happen to the game we must all learn to embrace changes like this. In the same way that the changes to the old-world will be removing tired and under-used areas of the game -- generating many a nostalgic trip to Desolace and the like -- this change should be seen as invigorating. WoW players are an adaptive bunch on the whole and before long I'm sure we'll look back on the 'quaint' two-caster system in the same way we do at the time before mage-tables and summoning-wardrobes.

A note from the Managing Editor of WoW.com: For those of you not in on the Hobbs/Belt rivalry, this post is a playful jab from our resident Warlock columnist at the regular Mage columnist. Zarhym did not actually say anything quoted above. Mr. Belt will be hijacking this week's Warlock column to respond and will return to writing Arcane Brillance next week.

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 how much I hate damage meters or our lengthy series of mage leveling guides. Until next week, keep the mage-train a-rollin'.

Filed under: Mage, Humor, (Mage) Arcane Brilliance

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