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Arcane Brilliance: Things I'm going to miss

It's time again for Arcane Brilliance, weekly mage column extraordinaire, and source of 99% of your daily recommended allowance of warlock hate. It's also rich in vitamin D. If you're wondering where you can get the other 1%, the answer is inside-out cheeseburgers. Very tasty, and warlock-hate is the secret ingredient.

There comes a time in everyone's life when they must say goodbye to something. My first major loss came in the summer of 1986. I wept like a little girl when the rubber band holding Snake Eyes' pelvis to his legs and torso finally snapped on that day, after a hard day of battle in which he and Storm Shadow had faced each other in mortal combat no less than twenty times. Even his ensuing career as the first, incredibly violent casualty in every firefight didn't dull the pain of that initial loss. I loved Snake Eyes! Why couldn't it have been Snow Job's stupid pelvis that snapped? For the love of God, why? Incidentally, I asked that same question when I redboxed the recent movie bearing sullying the venerable toy-line/cartoon series' good name.

And though I've spent the last few weeks laying out palm fronds and rose petals in preparation for Cataclysm's triumphant entry into the World of Warcraft, perhaps all is not as wondrous as I've made it out to be. Even in my optimism, I am becoming painfully cognizant of several aspects of the current game that I'll be missing to varying degrees once Deathwing arrives and brings with him all of his fancy new talent trees, masteries, guild perks, and approximately 11 million level 1 worgen hunters.

Yes, despite all the awesomeness in store, we mages will also be losing a few things. Follow me past the jump to gaze wistfully one last time at a few of these soon-to-be-gone relics of a bygone age.

The "ghost charge"

I refer of course to the infamous ability frost mages currently enjoy wherein they can queue up an Ice Lance on the end of a Frostbolt cast and have both spells benefit from a single Fingers of Frost charge. It's a fun mechanic, completely unintentional, and only possible because of the nature of server lag, but it's been around so long that I'd begun to think Blizzard was just figuring it into the numbers for frost mages these days.

Sadly, that era is now over. The culprit? Fingers of Frost no longer works with Frostbolt. Oh, Frostbolt's chill effect still triggers FoF, but the only two spells that benefit from the debuff itself are Deep Freeze and Ice Lance. Since neither of those spells have a cast time, it is no longer possible to chain an instant to the end of one of them to get the two-for-one ghost charge effect.

I'll miss it, but I understand the loss. Though time has turned this from a cheat to an accepted part of the repertoire, it was never truly legitimate. It was, bluntly, an exploit that functioned on a manipulation of the way the game servers interact with user input. I can see why they're removing it. Still, I like my ghost charges, and I suspect I won't be alone in mourning their loss.

Frostfire spec

This is a tough one. Several of you've emailed me asking what the status is of the Frostfire spec in the beta, and my answer is always the same: It's gone, guys. If you're a Frostfire mage, enjoy being one for the next few months or so, because once Cataclysm drops, you're going to have to eliminate one of the two words that make up the name for your spec. Or just go arcane, I guess, but whatever.

Here's the problem, and it's absolutely insurmountable:

You can only put a maximum of 10 talent points into your secondary tree. There's no way around it. And there simply isn't any viable way to spec around Frostfire Bolt without more discretionary talent points to play with. Not that the talent trees are set up in such a way as to make that possible anyway, but the hard limit on your secondary tree simply renders the concept impossible.

The spell itself remains in our spellbooks, untouched except for the loss of the DoT effect, but it can no longer operate as any sort of primary nuke, no matter what you do. Frostfire Bolt is only good for two things on the beta:
  • As an opening snare for leveling fire mages, and
  • something slightly better than a Fireball for frost mages to cast when Brain Freeze procs.
So yeah. What a waste of an incredibly beautiful spell animation. Farewell, sweet Frostfire spec. We'll always have Naxx ...

Arcane Brilliance

No, not the semi-sentient, warlock-hating weekly mage column you're reading right this very moment--that's not going anywhere. The spell. As of Cataclysm, Arcane Brilliance will become nothing more than a weird uncategorized spell listing on Wowhead that pops up when you're searching for something else.

Sure, this isn't really much of a loss. The effect of the spell will still be there in all but name, rolled into Arcane Intellect for the sake of consolidation. But man, the name of the column isn't Arcane Intellect, it's Arcane Brilliance, people! Brilliance! It's simply a stronger word. I don't want you to buff me with intellect--my sister's dachshund has intellect. It also eats its own fecal matter as a matter of course. No, I want you to buff me with brilliance. I want to be solving impossible mathematical equations and shaming douchebag MIT students like Matt Damon.

The buff will, for all intents and purposes, still be around come Cataclysm, but I'm sure going to miss the brilliance.

Conjuring my own water at low levels

What can I say? I like to drink my own vintage. And now that mana conservation simply isn't an issue until late in the game, there just isn't much reason to make Conjure Refreshment available to mages before the current beta mark of level 38. Still, what if there comes a time when I'm wandering through Azshara at level 16, parched, with not a drop of liquid in my possession? Mages have always been able to waggle their fingers a bit and summon forth a bottle of fine spring water or whatever, maybe some cinnamon rolls or a nice danish or something. No more. We'll have to stop by a Holiday Inn for our continental breakfast, like everyone else. Warlocks have it easy. They just drink their own pee.

Sheep

Don't worry, we'll still be able to turn folks into sheep. Original recipe Polymorph isn't going anywhere. But nobody will be casting it. You'll see no more sheep wandering aimlessly among groups of otherwise hostile mobs. In fact, my guess is you'll also see no more turtles, pigs, penguins, cats, or rabbits, either. Because I can think of no good reason you won't be using this glyph.

Yes, I know what the tooltip says. It's very confusing. But rest assured that the glyph does in fact turn your opponent into a monkey. And that, my friends, is what God intended them to be turned into.

Standing still while I cast Scorch

Oh who am I kidding, nobody's going to miss 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 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, Analysis / Opinion, (Mage) Arcane Brilliance, Cataclysm

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