Why I'm excited:
Ok, maybe I'm overstating it a bit. If Living Bomb were to make it live as a multi-target spell, life as we know it is not going to end in a blazing ball of flame. The apocalypse will not be any more nigh than it currently is. The one true messiah is not going to descend from the sky and usher in a new age of peace and goodwill or anything of the sort. Still, this is a very fun change, and exactly the sort of thing I've been waiting to see happen for Mages ever since our last significant change, about thirty-seven patches ago, give or take.
A short list of things that will be 100% more awesome after this goes live than they are now:
alone, I can think of several other fights on which this could be a significant DPS increase (aside from the obvious and incredible implications it would have on Yogg):
Threat management is going to be an issue in some of these fights, to be sure (Thorim, I'm looking at you), but with some adjustments, these are all instances where this change would be a perfectly realistic PvE DPS buff.
But PvE is not the area where the new Living Bomb would really shine. That distinction belongs to PvP
, in no uncertain terms. Fire has never been the PvP spec of choice for Mages, but this change will make it far more attractive. It still isn't going to be a respected upper-echelon Arena spec, but the havoc it could potentially wreak in open combat situations, like Wintergrasp or the battlegrounds, would be spectacular.
Picture the following scenarios:
. A huge pile of the opposing faction's players stacked up in front of the door to the relic. A Living Bomb for each of them.
. Defending Galv or Balinda. How many Living Bombs can you put on folks before they notice you?
. 5 Mages on a single team. Each casts Mirror Image
. Living Bombs all around. Chaos ensues.
Take any of those situations, now add in the following detail: There's a Priest
there, and he throws out a Mass Dispel
. Everybody explodes. At once. It would be a chain reaction of awesome.
The possibilities are literally mind-blowing. My mind is physically blown, oozing from my ears in a slow greyish trickle, just thinking about it. On the PTR, I threw it up on four target dummies simultaneously and just giggled as the damage ticked off.
Why I'm worried:
Ok, now I think we're all probably concerned about the same things here: is this overpowered, and what are the chances it will actually make it live anyway? The answers will come through testing, which is why this is coming in an early PTR build, and hasn't been documented yet. Blizzard wants to see how this works, and frankly, so do I. Is this going to be pre-Wrath Seed of Corruption
all over again? Or can it simply be a highly effective, incredibly fun AoE option for a class that has always been known for it's AoE capabilities (but has recently fallen off the map a bit in that regard). I'm not looking for a change that results in game balance being thrown off.
The major worry I have here, and the area in which the spell runs the greatest risk of being overpowered, is how it will test in PvP. The above scenarios, while sounding incredibly cool to me as a Mage, could end up being potential deal-breakers. I would hate to see an option with such interesting PvE applications be neutered because it throws off PvP balance, but that would hardly be the first (or even the hundredth) time we've seen that happen in this game. I would suggest having Blizzard change the spell to function differently on players than it does on NPCs, but the design team has already shown a pronounced hesitance to design any significant separation of the two major aspects of this game. We can only hope that no major exploits arise that would nix the change, and that the above legitimate scenarios don't prove to be as crazy as they are in my imagination.
My suspicion is that mana will end up being the great equalizer here. Living Bomb is already a fairly costly spell; spamming it, especially in longer encounters, is probably prohibitive. Will the high mana concerns be significant enough to be an effective check on the spell? We'll have to wait and see, I guess.
My other worry here is that Blizzard decides to otherwise nerf our DPS, or the DPS of Living Bomb itself, to counteract the change. This would be a terrible idea, but not out of the realm of possibility. I'd rather not have the change at all if the designers feel like Mages would need to be nerfed in some fashion to make up for the buff.
Here's why I insist it won't be a problem:
- I'm a Mage
- It's fun to think about the whole "5 Mages on an Arena team casting Mirror Image and spamming Living Bomb" idea, but in reality, this would be a gimmick comp and more than likely an easily countered flash in the pan if anybody tried it.
- Without someone to trigger a chain of explosions by dispelling the Living Bombs, the spell is basically a single-target DoT, castable on multiple targets at once. This would be no more or less deadly than other DoT spells in actual practice.
- The whole prohibitive mana cost in long fights thing. There's a reason Mages who run around spamming Arcane Explosion and such run out of mana fast. Spamming AoE simply isn't a sustainable strategy.
- Probably a whole slew of issues I'm not thinking of right now.
Overall, I feel that this is a step in the right direction for Mages. Our abilities have always been focused on two areas: Strong short-term AoE capabilites, and strong sustainable single-target DPS. The Living Bomb change will allow us to do damage to multiple targets at once without crippling our single-target DPS, something other classes can do, but we've never really had options for before. Plus, this is a 51 point talent. Those should be good, and anything that makes this one better is something I'm in favor of. Now if only Deep Freeze
did damage again...
What do you think, guys? Excited? Concerned? Ambivalent? Also, I'm setting the over-under for "number of times someone accuses me of somehow getting this change nerfed by posting about it on WoW.com" at 37. I'm taking the over.
Every week Arcane Brilliance teleports you inside the wonderful world of Mages and then hurls a Fireball in your face. Check out our recent three-part guide to PvP for each Mage spec, or our look at what hit rating means to Mages. Until next week, keep the Mage-train a-rollin'.