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Arcane Brilliance: Patch 4.2 changes, clarifications and legendary staves

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Arcane Brilliance for arcane, fire and frost mages. This week, we discuss the perils of writing about the PTR, which stands for "Public Test Realm." For a very long time, I thought it stood for "Pirate Taco Restaurant," which I thought sounded more fun, frankly.

Yes, it's always a good time when I write something and the testing process immediately renders almost every word of it completely moot. Testing is testing, I guess, and absolutely everything that pops up on the PTR at pretty much any stage of the testing cycle is entirely subject to change. So remember what we talked about last week? The whole tier 12 set bonus thing?

No longer true.

Well, okay, I guess some of it still holds true, but not the really interesting part. Gone is the moving Arcane Missiles. To me, that was the single most significant bonus being offered by the tier 12 set for mages, but it's been removed entirely in the latest PTR build. The other bonuses remain, in slightly altered form, but mobile missiles is apparently out.

Still, I'm not perturbed, other than my simmering rage at having a thousand or so of my words -- wrung from my brain only a week prior, sweat out over a hot (or at least lukewarm, perhaps slightly moist) keyboard, painstakingly arranged into mildly pleasing, competently conjugated sentences -- become instantly irrelevant. You see, I actually think this could end up being a good thing for mages, and I promise that in a minute or two I will tell you why I think that, and the answer will not be "because of all that paint I huffed."

Clarifying a few things

So, a few days back, Blizzard's Zarhym felt the need to clarify most if not all of the questions we talked about last week, questions apparently everybody else ever also had about those tier 12 set bonuses as originally announced. So he posted some clarifications.


Zarhym:
  • The Mirror Image summoned by the mage set (2-piece bonus) does not cause him/her to drop threat. It summons a guardian who appears like the mage and casts Fireballs by his/her side.
  • Mage 4-piece bonus stats: +15% proc chance to Brain Freeze, +30% chance on single critical effect to Hot Streak, and Arcane Missiles will always proc by the 4th cast.


Unfortunately, several of those clarifications are now also moot, thanks to the unstoppable juggernaut that is the testing process. Suck it, Zarhym. Also: I didn't mean that at all. Please do not suck it.

That answers my biggest question about the whole "chance to summon a Mirror Image" two-piece set bonus thing. No, your new and fabulously handsome and/or smoking hot copies of yourself will not reduce your threat, drop aggro, or in any way confuse any mobs about anything. So that part of getting a free bonus Mirror Image is out. When one happens to pop up while you're nuking happily away at a boss or some random furbolg who got in your way when you were trying to snag archaeology fragments, all you'll be getting is a "guardian" who casts Fireballs -- so, essentially a small DPS boost. Nothing else. It's a relatively fun way of getting that small DPS boost -- certainly better than a static bonus like 2% extra crit or something -- but that's all it is. More numbers for a small period of time.

The only unknowns there now are whether those images will stack (will we ever have more than one at a time?) and whether our images will proc frequently enough for that to even be relevant. My guess is the answer to both of those questions will be "no." I'm picturing an internal cooldown that will make sure we only ever have one extra copy at once, because that way we're only ever getting a set amount of extra damage. I'm just hoping the developers have the foresight to also make the copy death-immune (maybe not in PVP), so we won't be constantly losing that extra DPS to random splash damage prematurely.

Oh, and in case you were wondering why Frostfire Bolt got left out as a nuke that could summon a Mirror Image, fear not. It has a chance to summon one now.

We also get some specific numbers for the four-piece bonus to our major proc chances. For frost mages, Brain Freeze will be popping up 15% more often per cast, which is a good, solid number. Fire mages will be seeing Hot Streak 30% more often per crit, which is an even more solid number, tempered by the knowledge that Hot Streak will still only be proccing on crits.

The bit about Arcane Missiles no longer matters, because ...

Arcane Missiles is no longer involved in anything, whatsoever

... yeah. The latest 4.2 build on the PTR has scrapped anything to do with Arcane Missiles as part of that four-piece set bonus. No more increased chance for it to proc, no more casting it while moving. Arcane mages are back to only casting Arcane Barrage and, like, Fire Blast or whatever during movement phases, which kind of sucks.

Instead, arcane's four-piece bonus now involves Arcane Power. Specifically, it changes the buff to cause your spells to cost less mana instead of more mana, a mechanic that currently costs arcane mages more than it probably should, since making spells do more damage at the cost of more mana actually kind of sucks, what with Mana Adept and all. It used to be a trade-off: you got a chunk more damage at the expense of burning through more mana. But these days, it gives you more damage, but because you're also burning through mana, which also costs you damage thanks to Mana Adept, you're trading more damage for less mana and less damage. Kind of stupid.

This change gets rid of that silly conundrum. Which is nice. It's a decent damage boost whenever Arcane Power is off cooldown, and it removes any sort of penalty from that buff, making it an absolute no-brainer. Arcane Power is up? No reason not to use it.

Also: incredibly boring. Still ...

Here's why I'm not worried

... I'm hoping that the removal of the moving Arcane Missiles thing, which was an incredibly good idea, just a bad idea for this sort of finite bonus, means they've heard our pleas. I'm hoping someday very soon, perhaps even in this very patch, we'll see a note that reads something like this:

Mages

  • Arcane Missiles is now castable while moving. Also, casting it will now cause a random warlock somewhere in the world to burst into flames.
I dare to dream, people. This should be a baseline arcane mage ability, pure and simple. It should never have been tied to a tiered set bonus, because once mages move on to that next tier set, it'll be gone, and this is a change that should be permanent. This is not open to debate. Arcane mages are in desperate need of mobility, and this is a damn fine way to give them that.

Period.

I just hope the removal of this from the tier set bonus means Blizzard has also figured this out. We will see, I guess.

Oh, and Dragonwrath, Tarecgosa's Rest

Yes, please.

Have you seen the stats on this beast? No, not the ones it had last week -- the ones it has this week. I want this thing so badly that if a warlock were to offer it to me in exchange for his life, I fear I would actually consider the bargain for a moment or two.

Then, of course, I would blow him up and take it from the remaining pile of ashes.

I am so excited about this staff I can't even see straight. Yes, I know approximately a billion of you pointed out last week that this isn't technically the first legendary staff in the game, Atiesh having beaten it to the punch way back in vanilla WoW. But I choose to ignore that staff on account of the fact that I don't have it. Neither, I'd wager, do you. Or anybody else you know. It was in the game for like 5 minutes five years ago, hard as hell to get, and entirely impossible to obtain anymore.

This, on the other hand, is going to be eminently obtainable for any good mage in good standing in a high-quality raiding guild, and it'll be obtainable for good long time. It'll likely be the premiere caster weapon for this expansion, and my guess is that those who earn it will still be finding reasons to keep wielding it long into whatever expansion comes next.

Once that portal to the Firelands opens up and we can all go say hi to Ragnaros and his new legs, I will be there, ready to do whatever it takes to help my guild earn that beautiful staff and its almost 3,000 spellpower, working as hard as I possibly can to prove that I'm worthy of being awarded it by my guild. If that means baking my guild leader's warlock alt a few conjured cakes, so be it.

I can always kill him later.

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.

Filed under: Mage, Analysis / Opinion, (Mage) Arcane Brilliance

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