The days and weeks following a major content patch are always an adventure. Suddenly Azeroth becomes the Wild West, with unexplored frontiers awaiting over every mountain, untamed vistas as far as the eye can see, and far, far too many people wandering around who haven't bathed in months.
Patch 4.1 has been no exception. Logging in on patch day is a bit like going to sleep in one world and waking up in another, one where up is down, left is right, Olivia has brown hair and wears tight shirts, and Walter Bishop has an intact brain and is sleeping with some Asian chick. You never know when you're going to discover some random new nugget of craziness that wasn't in the patch notes. You also never know when you'll be disconnected in the middle of a boss fight, but hey, patch days are patchy.
It's only been a few days, but undoubtedly you've noticed some good, some bad, and some weird new things lurking about the fringes of this digital world we spend time in. Let's take a look at some of the more mage-specific tidbits, shall we?
The mysteries of fire
So cruising the mage forums, I notice a few things. Apparently fire mage DPS is up, down, completely broken, and wildly erratic all at the same time. Ignite works better and at the same time not at all. Crits happen more often without a single good reason why, Hot Streak procs like crazy with no valid explanation, and the four horsemen of the apocalypse wander the earth, reaping souls for the end times.
Here's what I've noticed:
CombustionHelper isn't working.A lot of the reports of strange Ignite behavior boil down to this, I think. Addons refusing to operate properly after a patch isn't a new phenomenon, but this one seems to have thrown people. CombustionHelper simply isn't reporting munched Ignites properly. By the time this is posted, maybe it'll be fixed, but for now, you simply can't take what this addon tells you at face value.
- Hot Streaks do seem to be happening at an unexplainably higher frequency, though I'll need more time, more data, and a lot more trips to the Elitist Jerks forums to determine if this is due to some strange new crit behavior or just some incredible RNG good fortune. All I know is that my fire mage is throwing out instant Pyroblasts way more often than he did pre-patch in the same gear. There's nothing in the patch notes to suggest a raise in crit numbers or the crit cap, and I didn't notice anything of the sort on the PTR.
- Ignite munching is down, but strange. A lot of the issue here, I think, is due to combat log addons behaving erratically, but I can't help but notice that while actual noticeable examples of munched Ignites appear to be down for me, the talent is also doing some very weird stuff. Ignite no longer procs from periodic damage, but it also doesn't seem to work with things like the initial damage hit of Flamestrike or the final explosion portion of Flame Orb. Thankfully, the other parts of Flame Orb don't trigger Ignite as well, but overall, the talent is just being difficult. Again, more time is needed to figure out what the numbers here are, and then what those numbers actually mean.
- Impact isn't working. Like, at all. It's spreading some DoTs, but not others. Most notably, it doesn't seem to spread Combustion anymore, which is a problem.
- My DPS is both up and down. Thanks to the problems with Impact, I'm finding my multi-target DPS is way down right now, while thanks in large part to the inexplicable increase in Hot Streak procs, my single-target DPS seems to be up a bit. Again, I'm adopting a wait-and-see attitude to all of this. I'm sure there are numerous kinks that need to be un-kinked before we see the fire spec working as intended.
Arcane: Unequivocally better
No inexplicable behavior here. All of the changes to the arcane tree were pretty straightforward, and they've worked. My arcane mage's DPS is up by several thousand points, and with the absurdity going on in the fire tree, my arcane spec is by far the more consistent, dependable single-target DPS option for me in raids.
The spec just feels smoother, faster, more streamlined, less clunky. Are you guys noticing the same improvements?
Frost: More significant than you might suspect
Looking at the patch notes, which are admittedly arcane-heavy, you might not realize how much better frost mages have it in PvE. But dust off your frost mage and take him into some instances -- you'll realize it in a hurry.
Frostbolt is significantly more powerful, and Ice Lance is a much more valued part of the rotation. Ice Barrier is worth throwing up to absorb incoming damage in PvE, even at the expense of a global cooldown. Damage is up, and the spec has never felt more powerful.
Seriously, frost is competitive now. So put together a spec, queue for Zul'Aman, and if anybody makes fun of you for bringing a frost mage into PvE content, have your water elemental punch him in the mouth.
Queue times are down
I'm excited. So far, my queue times as a lowly mage jumping into the random dungeon finder for heroics and especially for the new troll-related 5-mans have been way down. Before the patch, I was often finding myself waiting upwards of 30-40 minutes, then falling asleep, having a happy dream in which I was wandering through the forest and came upon a tribe of primitive warlocks who had never seen a mage before, convinced them that I was a god and they needed to bring me all of their freshest fruits and vegetables, the firstborn of their flocks, and their finest gold and silver, then had them all Life Tap themselves to death because it was my will that they do so. Evil? Yes, but not when it involves warlocks. Then I'd wake up and realize I'd missed my invite. Damn you, warlocks. Why must you ruin everything?
But after the patch, I've never had to wait longer than 10 minutes and frequently found groups in less than 5. We'll see how long this lasts, but right now, I'm thrilled.
Dalaran is back
I know, the city of mages never really went anywhere. It's still hovering where it has been since those crazy wizards uprooted it prior to Wrath and floated it over high above Crystalsong Forest. But it's back, baby. And by back, I mean it's a place where you might want to actually hang out again.
In the months following Cataclysm, Dalaran went from being the hub of Azerothian activity to being an extremely pretty ghost town. But have you been there since the patch? The portals are back. Not all of them, but one to Orgrimmar and one to Stormwind. The engineer auction house is open to everyone. Class and profession trainers have been inserted into the citizenry. There's no more no-fly zone.
Also: it's still the hometown for all mages everywhere. So put the button for Teleport: Dalaran back on your action bar and go say hello to Rhonin, Minigob Manabonk, and all the rest. Dalaran's a place to call home again.
Interestingly, the same kinds of changes happened to Shattrath, but nobody cares about Shattrath.
So what are your impressions, mages? How do they differ from/coincide with mine? Do you find the changes good? Bad? Indifferent? Do warlocks still burn like oil-soaked tissue paper? The answer to that last one, by the way, is "yes."
Every week, Arcane Brilliance teleports you inside the wonderful world of mages and then hurls a Fireball in your face. Start off with our Cataclysm 101 guide for new mages, then find out which spec is best for raiding, get advice from the poor mage's guide to enchants, and learn how to keep yourself alive.