Every week, WoW Insider brings you Arcane Brilliance for arcane, fire and frost mages. This week, a magical journey awaits ... a fantastic voyage through a mystical realm. I speak, of course, of the Public Test Realm, and the wondrous patch notes that dwell therein.
Now before we begin, I should make it clear that mages aren't getting anything even remotely earth-shattering in patch 4.0.6. It's not like Blizzard is letting us autofire while moving or anything. But a patch is still a patch. Things are going to change, and though mages have been left largely un-fiddled-around-with (at least in comparison to many other classes), we do have some incoming alterations to be aware of.
So with our expectations in an appropriately subdued state, let's peek beyond the jump for an annotated look at what be happening, yo.
Full notes, updated as of Jan. 12, can be perused here.
Mana cost reductions
The mana cost of several of our spells has been reduced, presumably to help balance out the issues many mages have been having maintaining our mana in longer heroic fights. Nobody wants to see us standing around with our wands out, including the developers. Reducing the base mana cost of many of our most-used spells should assist us in this regard. Similar changes are in store across the board for the various ranged caster classes.
The main culprits so far have been arcane mages, whose consistent damage output depends directly upon the amount of mana still left in the mage's coffers, and fire mages, who have comparibly little in the way of mana return or conservation options. The major nukes for those two specs are seeing their mana budgets lowered by a pretty hefty amount.
- Arcane Barrage mana cost has been reduced by 8%.
- Arcane Blast mana cost has been reduced by 12%.
- Fireball mana cost has been reduced by 25%.
- Living Bomb mana cost has been reduced by 22%.
- Counterspell lockout duration reduced to 7 seconds, down from 8.
- Flame Orb now ignores critters.
- Mage Armor now reduces the duration of magic effects by 35%, down from 50%.
- If we nerf something for PvP balance, we nerf it for everything.
- If we nerf something in PvP, we can leave it alone in PvE.
But my issue is this: aren't we already sort of doing that? The line between PvP and PvE is clearly delineated, and though it's slightly fuzzier now than it ever has been, it's still very much there. The two aspects of the game are inherently unique, and the playerbase will use the spells that work and ignore those that don't, regardless of designer intent.
These patch notes only highlight the issue. We're nerfing spells that are utilized in both aspects of the game (Counterspell, Mage Armor) for purely PvP purposes. The changes are only needed in PvP but changed in both arenas of play. And yet a couple of other abilities (Polymorph, Slow) are being nerfed in PvP only, leaving them unsullied in the PvE environment. Why the inconsistency? Either you want to keep things the same throughout or you don't. When you try to do it both ways, to me, it only serves to emphasize how much better it is one way than the other. And my personal opinion is that the better way will always be thus:
Nerf in PvP only, unless the PvE usage of the spell also warrants a nerf. If the PvE usage of a spell requires a nerf, but not the PvP usage, feel free to apply this wisdom in reverse. If you get to the point where a spell becomes too far removed in one aspect of the game than the other, perhaps you need to reconsider the spell entirely. I'm just saying.
Anyway, Polymorph doesn't last as long, but only in PvP. Your PvE sheep will keep its current staying power post-patch. Same goes for Slow.
- Ring of Frost: Radius shrunk to 8 yards, and inner "safe" radius is now 4.7 yards (exactly matching graphic). Dispelling the effect of Ring of Frost will now make the target immune to being refrozen for 3 seconds. If a second Ring of Frost is cast by the same mage while the first is still active (via Cold Snap), the first will now disappear and cease functioning. In addition, Ring of Frost now has a PvP duration of 8 seconds.
So the spell effect radius now matches the animation, which mean it'll affect a smaller area overall. This is probably more of a bug fix than a nerf from a design perspective. It'll also make the victim immune to being refrozen for three seconds, a change that makes the spell work for the purposes of CC-breaking abilities. The last PvE/PvP change is that the spell can no longer be double cast via a Cold Snap.
And, like the rest of our major CC spells, the ring itself will now have a PvP duration of 8 seconds.
- When a mage uses the Invisibility spell, it will now also cause their pet Water Elemental to become invisible.
- Firestarter now allows the mage to cast Scorch while moving (regardless of which armor spell is used), and no longer eliminates Molten Armor's critical strike chance reduction.
- Deep Freeze damage done has been reduced by 20%.
- Flashburn (Mastery) benefit per mastery has been increased by 12%.
- Frost Specialization now only grants 2 base points of mastery (instead of 8), reducing all Frost damage to frozen targets by 15% from previous values. However, Frost Specialization now increases base Frostbolt damage by 15%.
Again, I'm not entirely sure what data Blizzard's looking at that suggests a downward adjustment in necessary for frost mage DPS. My feeling here, as before, is that these nerfs are keyed toward PvP balance but have the side effect of lowering PvE damage. I'll say again: I understand the thinking here, but believe it's based upon faulty logic.
So what think ye, mage community? Tell me how I'm wrong, but most of all, tell me how I'm right. I crave affirmation.
Every week, Arcane Brilliance teleports you inside the wonderful world of mages and then hurls a Fireball in your face. Check out our recent Cataclysm 101 guide for new mages or our mage Thanksgiving spectacular. Until next week, keep the mage-train a-rollin'.