No time to talk. We need to focus. A whole lot of ground to cover, guys. The Mists of Pandaria talent calculator has been updated, and all sorts of craziness be jumpin' off, yo. We've got entirely new abilities, we've got fresh takes on traditional favorites, and we've got substantial retoolings of the root mechanics of whole specs. Let's dive right in.
Talent tier 1 has stayed the same as the last go round, but tier 2 has a brand new ability in it, as well as a reworking of Blazing Speed that should make it a far more attractive choice.
Temporal Shield (New ability) Envelops you in a temporal shield for 4 seconds. Damage taken while shielded will be undone over 6 seconds. Not on the global cooldown. (3% base mana, Instant Cast, 25-second cooldown)
Blazing Speed Suppresses movement slowing effects and increases your movement speed by 150% for 1.50 seconds. May only be activated after taking a melee or spell hit greater than 2% of your total health. This spell may be cast while a cast time spell is in progress. (Instant cast, 25-second cooldown)
I'm not completely sold on Temporal Shield, though it does indeed sound intriguing. I absolutely cannot wait to test it when the beta arrives. We need to know more, because the wording is unclear, but as I read it, this provides you with a damage shield that lasts 4 seconds. It's not stated how much incoming damage this will absorb, and indeed, the tooltip doesn't actually say any damage will be absorbed. Any damage taken during the 4 seconds the shield is active will then be refunded to us over the next 6 seconds. My best-case scenario reading of this is that this spell will protect us from some or all incoming damage for 4 seconds, then heal us for 6 more seconds. Somehow I have trouble believing that's the reality, though.
The Blazing Speed change is interesting. It'll grant us a lightning-quick 150% speed increase instead of 50%, but it'll only last a second and a half. Plus, it'll be triggerable instead of a proc, but only after taking a spell or melee hit that does 2% of our max health or more, it's off the global cooldown, and it can be activated even during a spellcast. It'll be a powerful escape maneuver to use when Blink isn't available or just when we need to move a long way in a short amount of time. I'm not sure 1.5 seconds is quite long enough, but we also don't know how often the ability will be available (is there an internal cooldown? How long after the damage is taken can we still activate the ability?).
The middle tiers
Tier 3 is relatively untouched, though Ring of Frost seems to have traded its 3-second "coalesce" time for a 1.5-second cast time. Tier 4, though, has some changes. Greater Invisibility is much improved, retaining all its original stealthy goodness, but adding in a 90% damage reduction while active and for 3 seconds after being broken. That's a very powerful damage mitigation and avoidance ability right there, guys. Cauterize will no longer require a heal to prevent it from eventually killing you, as its life-saving effect will bring you to 50% health and then only burn you for 40% over the next 6 seconds. And Cold Snap is also being given a healing component; when activated, it restores 20% of your max health in addition to finishing the cooldown on Ice Block, Frost Nova, and Cone of Cold. ... Because frost mages were just too easy to kill, I think we can all agree.
We should probably discuss tier 5 a little bit, too. Living Bomb looks pretty much the same as it did before, but the other two bomb spells have evolved a bit. Frost Bomb still does essentially the same thing it did in previous iterations of this talent calculator, placing a ticking frost bomb on your target that explodes after 6 seconds, doing damage to nearby targets and slowing them, but now the countdown on that bomb and the cooldown of the spell are both reduced by haste. Arcane Bomb has seen a full overhaul.
So instead of that weird jumping-from-target-to-target thing it had going on in the old talent calculator, it now stays put but pulses damage out with every tick to another randomly selected nearby target. And 50% is a sizable chunk of damage to deal to that secondary enemy. I still feel like this is the weakest of the three bomb talents, but it's moving closer to what I want, which is a pulsing Arcane Explosion I can throw onto a mob, then watch that mob run around blowing up its friends.
Arcane Bomb Places an Arcane Bomb on the target which deals 3,060 Arcane damage over 12 seconds. Each time Arcane Bomb deals damage, an additional 50% of that damage is also dealt to a random target within 10 yards. (40-yard range, Instant Cast, 2% base mana)
The interesting stuff
The final tier has some really interesting stuff in it.
Invocation Your Evocation no longer has a cooldown, but you no longer have any base mana regeneration. Completing an Evocate causes you to deal 20% increased spell damage for 30 seconds.
Rune of Power Places a Rune of Power on the ground, which lasts for 1 minute. While standing in your rune of power, your mana regeneration is increased by 100% and your spell damage is increased by 15%. Only 2 Runes of Power can be placed at one time. Replaces Evocation. (30-yard range, 1.5-second cast, 10-second cooldown)
Incanter's Shield Absorbs damage, converting the damage into mana, up to a maximum of 30% of your maximum mana. Lasts 8 seconds. When your Incanter's Shield is destroyed, you gain 30% increased spellpower for 15 seconds. (Instant Cast, 25-second cooldown)
So Invocation makes your Evocation into a cooldown-free ability you can simply activate whenever you need mana back and can afford to stop dealing damage for 6 seconds. You can trigger it whenever you need a quick mana burst, because it gives you 15% of your mana back instantly, but if you complete the 6-second channeling, you also gain a 20% spellpower boost.
The trade-off is that you lose your passive base mana regen, which is about 1% of your maximum mana per second. That's a relatively minor loss, really. Basically, this talent will give you some very interesting control over your mana and spellpower situations. You will have the ability to constantly make decisions that affect your damage output and mana levels in both positive and negative ways. I really, really like this idea. I could write a whole column on this one talent. No kidding.
Rune of Power sounds crazy, too. It lets you place up to two little circles of awesomesauce on the ground anywhere within 30 yards. We don't know exactly how large these circles will be, but I'm assuming small. When you stand on one of your runes -- which only last 1 minute before needing to be reapplied -- you gain a 100% mana regen boost and a 15% spell damage boost. This talent will replace Evocation in your spellbook, but you won't be needing it. I plan to place my Rune of Power directly on top of a warlock's head, so that I can just stand on him while I unravel his very being. It doesn't sound like these runes will stack, or else I'd put two runes on his head.
And Incanter's Shield is essentially a reverse Mana Shield with added benefits. It's both a defense and an offense, and unless I'm mistaken, it sounds as if it'll actually scale with the size of your mana pool. It absorbs damage and converts that damage into sweet, sweet mana for you to use to convert your enemy's health into less health. The damage absorbed is 30% of your maximum mana, hence the scaling, and once the shield is destroyed, you get a fat 30% spellpower bonus for the next 15 seconds. The spell itself is on a 25-second cooldown and is an instant cast, meaning that unless you're taking way more damage than you should be taking considering the fact that you are a mage and are thus constructed entirely of damp tissue paper, your shield should be either up and giving you mana back or down and giving you spellpower pretty much constantly, and sometimes it should even be giving you both mana and spellpower at the same time ... because there is a God, and he very clearly loves mages.
Join me in deranged anticipation
I'm not even sure what to do with most of this information. We wanted more things to get excited about with the mage class in the coming expansion, and this talent update has pretty much locked me in a state of deranged anticipation for the next, however long it takes Blizzard to release the pandas.
And the crazy thing is that here we are, 1,500 words in, and we haven't even gotten to the freaking spell changes. These are just the talents. And I glossed over a lot of them. Come back next week and we'll discuss everything else.
Every week, Arcane Brilliance teleports you inside the wonderful world of mages and then hurls a Fireball in your face. Start out with our recent beginner's guide to being a mage, then check out our three-part State of the Mage columns on arcane, fire and frost. Don't forget to look at some of the addons your mage should probably be using.