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Arcane Brilliance: Mage AoE in Cataclysm, part 1

It's time again for Arcane Brilliance, the weekly mage column known for its special five-alarm chili recipe. It's a delicate blend of three different conjured beans, spiced up with Fireballs, Scorches, and slow-cooked over a smoldering Flamestrike, loaded with lamb, bacon, and the occasional roasted monkey, glazed with a dusting of Frostfire, then lit aflame with a Pyroblast. And the secret ingredient? Warlock tears.

If there's one thing mages have been known for during the course of this fine game we all play, it's mass murder. We have at our disposal a wide array of spells that wreak havoc over a large area, perhaps more so than any other class. When it comes to killing things in large numbers, mages are remarkably adept. It's a role we embrace wholeheartedly.

AoE has evolved quite since the inception of the game. In vanilla WoW, AoE was a great way to get yourself killed in an instance, a method of attack that was mostly limited to solo farming and certain trash pulls. These days, with the ability tanks have to hold multiple mobs with relative ease, AoE has morphed into the go-to way to deal with multiple-mob pulls of all shapes and sizes. Crowd control has gone the way of Wand Specialization; it simply isn't required in most situations in Wrath.

Cataclysm is bringing with it some fairly sweeping changes to the way we utilize our AoE repertoire. The developers have stated their intention to return us to a time when we actually had to worry about things like crowd control and pull-sizes, and though we're not reverting completely, pulls on the beta certainly feel more like vanilla or Burning Crusade pulls than anything we saw in Wrath. Join me after the break and we'll go over how our AoE spells will work in this coming era.

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Filed under: Mage, (Mage) Arcane Brilliance, Cataclysm

Cataclysm Class Changes: Mage Analysis

Man, you go out of town for a few days and look what happens: Mages get Bloodlust and a warlock adulterates the mage column. Remind me never to do that again.

We'll look at the Cataclysm class preview in more detail in the coming weeks in warlock-free (I promise) verisons of Arcane Brilliance, but for now, let me unload some of my initial reactions on you.

New spells

Three spells were announced, and only one is a mechanic we're really familiar with.

Time Warp, which enters our arsenal at level 83, appears to be akin to what is arguably the single best raid buff in the game: Bloodlust/Heroism. One key difference exists, though, and that is that Time Warp will also turn mages, briefly, into rogues. Rogues in silly dresses. I really, really hope that this speed increase:
  1. is significant enough to make mages into truly mobile casters, both in PvP and PvE. I don't want a rehash of Blazing Speed, which was a fun mechanic that simply wasn't powerful enough,
  2. doesn't share a cooldown with Icy Veins (or whatever that talent's Cataclysm equivalent ends up being), or better yet, stacks with it, so as not to render that beloved spell redundant,
  3. and lasts long enough that it's worth blowing the cooldown either during the burndown phase of a fight (if somebody else isn't already using Heroism/Bloodlust) or during a high-mobility phase of a fight, simply for the haste bonus.
I'm incredibly excited about this spell, because of the three new ones, it's the only one we can safely say (with what we know now) will actually be awesome. We already know this spell's core mechanic works, and if the movement speed increase is worthwhile, this could truly be the defining spell of the expansion for mages.

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Filed under: Mage, Analysis / Opinion, Cataclysm

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