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Arcane Brilliance: 4 things I'm going to miss the most in Mists of Pandaria

Flame Orb
Every week, WoW Insider brings you Arcane Brilliance for arcane, fire and frost mages. This week, we're discussing a sad topic: loss. Not that this is a new feeling for mages. We've loved and lost before; everyone pour one out for Wand Specialization. You were too beautiful to die.

Every time there's a new expansion, we get some new toys to play with. We tend to focus on these shiny new abilities or revamped mechanic -- and rightly so, as they are often pretty spiffy. But I fear we sometimes forget the casualties. For when Blizzard giveth, it also tends to taketh away. Spells are replaced, redundant talents vanish, and mechanics change, and as a mage, I always feel somehow diminished when I see a blank page in my spellbook -- even if it's a page that used to be occupied by something as useless as Arcane Fortitude or Amplify Magic, those ancient relics of fail.

Mists of Pandaria will be no exception. We're gaining some awesomeness but losing a few things too. And some of those things, I'm really, truly going to miss.

Blast Wave

It does not shame me to admit that I have been involved in a torrid love affair with Blast Wave since the day it was introduced. It has always been a sexy, sexy spell. From its early days as mage-centered explosion of fiery magnificence to its current iteration as a targetable AoE damage snare, it's always resided in a very special spot in my heart, a spot very near to pie, Herzog Zwei, and directly adjacent to the Hawkthorne episode of Community. (Speaking of Herzog Zwei, why has this not been remade for Xbox Live Arcade or some similar service yet? Hell, why not an entire Technosoft memorial collection, or something? Thunder Force? Elemental Master? I have money, game publishers. Feel free to take it. And yes, I realize there are probably reasons that collecting and publishing intellectual property in America from a long-dead Japanese video game company would be practically impossible, but those reasons are stupid. Tangent over. For now.)

In Mists of Pandaria, we're losing this spell, and I'm devastated. The reasoning, I assume, is that mage AoE is becoming normalized between the three specs, and some of the many, many AoE options in the fire tree become somewhat redundant under this new talent model. I thumb my nose in the general direction of that reasoning, thank you very much.

I like to have spells that aren't strictly necessary. So what if we have other spells that do damage over a targetable area? So what if we already have AoE snare spells? So what if there are already plenty of methods for making warlocks go boom in our spellbooks? I like this specific method.

Dammit, I miss Blast Wave already.

Mage Armor

I know we aren't actually losing this spell. A spell called Mage Armor will be in our spellbooks when Mists drops, and it will be a useful spell. It will increase our mastery stat by a bunch and reduce the duration of harmful magic effects cast upon us -- both super nice things for it to do.

But it will not be doing anything we're used to it doing, and what it does now is something I will dearly miss. Mana regen is being standardized, and spells like Mage Armor as it exists currently are losing their mana regen components.

From the looks of things on the beta, mana regen isn't going to be a huge problem in Mists. We're generally being given enough options within our spell rotations to control when we want to burn through mana and when we want to conserve it or return it. But I will miss having a passive armor option for those situations where you don't really care about defense and simply want more mana coming in.

Deep Freeze

Again, this spell still exists in Mists. But we have to ask ourselves: Is a Deep Freeze without a massive damage component still a Deep Freeze? It's like that kid they bring back from the dead in Pet Semetary. Sure, he's walking around and talking and killing old people and such, but is he really alive? I guess the difference there is that kid still most definitely had a damage component.

I understand that the spell is something of an anomaly. It's a spell that has powerful PvP functionality (the stun) in PvP and completely separate PvE functionality (the damage) in PvE. And I am cognizant of the fact that frost has other damage options. Does the spec really need a high-damage, medium-cooldown, significantly colder version of Pyroblast?

Um, yes. I believe it does.

When we live in a world where we can all agree that frost mages do enough damage in PvE, then you can say Deep Freeze doesn't need to do damage. When the sun rises in the west and sets in the east. When the seas go dry and mountains blow in the wind like leaves. When my womb quickens again, and I bear a living child. Then you can take away my Deep Freeze damage, and not before.

Flame Orb

Why? Why no Flame Orb? It was an orb and it was made of flame. Why would anyone want to take that away from anyone? Honestly, if I saw you on my street, and you had a Flame Orb, and it was just burning the crap out my yard and whatnot, I wouldn't even be mad. I would just be jealous that you had a Flame Orb.

So yeah, this spell is gone. And of everything on this list, I'm perhaps most bitter about losing this particular spell than any of the others, simply because there is no analogue for it. When you break it down to its raw numbers, I guess, the spell is no more than a directional DoT that affects whatever's closest to it while it lasts. But as an effect? You're throwing out a flaming ball of damage that reaches out and burns enemies as it rolls along. And it looked super cool. There's nothing like that in our spellbooks in Mists.

I hate, hate losing cool things. It's a cool mechanic. It looks awesome. It's one of those spells that when other classes see you cast it, it makes them think for one fleeting moment, "Man, I wish I were a mage." There's never a good reason to take something like that out of the game.

The bright spot in all of this is twofold:

First, we are definitely getting some cool new stuff in this expansion to help us get over our feelings of loss more quickly. Alter Time? Frost Bomb? Rune of freaking Power? All good stuff.

And second, nothing in WoW is ever truly gone. Spells come and go, mechanics change, then change back, and the truly cool stuff always seems to resurface at some point further down the line. I mourn the loss of these things I love, but know in my heart that some day I will see them again, even if they're empty soulless killers of the elderly when they return. I just wish I could say the same about split-screen RTS mech games from the late '80s.

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.

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

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