This week, because they hate me, and because I actually had something written in advance for once, Blizzard went and stealth-updated the MoP talent calculator with no warning whatsoever. I submit that from here on out, Blizzard needs to give me at least a week's notice before it makes significant changes to the game or any of its future versions. I think it's only fair, since mages are getting the ability to Alter Time, that we get just a little bit of a jump on the future. I have deadlines to meet, people! Work with me here.
The good news is that the majority of the changes appear to have been made to the part of the talent calculator we haven't discussed yet: the actual talents. If you missed them, here are the first two parts of this discussion:
In most cases, I'm not going to link these talents to their current versions. In most cases, they're changing so dramatically that to link them as they are now only seems to add confusion.
Level 15 tier
The major change here from previous iterations of these talents is that the level 15 talents have swapped places with the level 45 talents. This used to be a selection of stuns and snares, but now it's a collection of moving DPS options.
Presence of Mind This spell is largely the same as it's always been. The cooldown has been shortened to 1.25 minutes, and for the wait, you get to cast a single spell instantly. This allows for anything from an extra instant Pyroblast to an emergency Mana Gem refill, to an instant sheep.
Scorch This one's more straightforward. It allows any spec a moving cast-time spell to spam whenever movement is required in a fight. It's never going to be the most powerful movement rotation in the game, but it's nice to a have a go-to movement DPS button to spam while running from point A to point B.
Ice Flows I'm not sure why Blizzard felt the need to switch this spell from arcane to ice, but it still performs the same function. It renders the next two spells cast within 8 seconds to be castable while moving. It doesn't make them instant, just Scorch-like in that you can be running around like a crazy person while you launch them off. The ability to queue this one up while casting another spell is a nice touch.
Level 30 tier
Mana Shield Still a great way to avoid a bit of incoming damage and get rid of unwanted mana, this spell now integrates the nifty knockback mechanic currently provided by Incanter's Absorption.
Blazing Speed This is now a button you can actually push, though it can only be used in the aftermath of a movement-impairing effect. It has a 1-minute cooldown, but this will provide a great escape/mobility mechanism, giving you a 50% speed burst and removing any effects that might be slowing or stopping you. Should be handy in certain PvE fights and really handy in every PvP fight ever.
Ice Barrier This is still Ice Barrier. It still negates a buttload of incoming mage murder, eliminates spell pushback while it's up, and just generally frustrates the hell out of enemy warlocks. To sweeten the deal, the cooldown is being shortened to a brisk 20 seconds.
Level 45 tier
Ring of Frost This still works about the same. It's an AoE freeze that you cast on a specific geographical area. The time the ring takes to coalesce is going down from 3 seconds to 2.5.
Ice Ward This will be, for all intents and purposes, a new ability. It no longer actually wards much of anything. Instead, after you cast it (20-second cooldown), the next time an enemy strikes you, the ward will freeze every enemy within 10 yards in place for the next 5 seconds. Sounds like a perfect spell to pair with a timely Blink to safety, if you ask me.
Frostjaw A single target silence/root, this will be a very nice CC spell. The effects will last 8 seconds against NPCs and half that long against players.
Level 60 tier
Greater Invisibility It's just like Invisibility, only greater. It still makes you see-through and reduces threat, only now it also removes two DoT effects (suck it, warlocks!) and it works instantly.
Cauterize This will still save you from a killing blow, bringing you to 50% of your max health, and it will still apply a powerful DoT that will remove 60% of your max health over the next 6 seconds (killing you if you don't get get a heal or otherwise prevent said death). The nice new addition to this talent is that it will also remove any snares on your mage when it triggers.
Cold Snap This resets the cooldown on three very useful frost spells, Summon Water Elemental, Frost Nova, and Ice Block. So for most mages, you'll be getting a second Ice Block, and for frost mages, that's probably also what you'll be using your Cold Snap for, unless your stupid elemental bites it prematurely. Oh, and this spell will also give you back 10% of your max mana, which yay!
Level 75 tier
Sickly Polymorph Ah, the sheep tier. Here's the spot where you unlock the true potential of your Polymorph spell, in one of three fun varieties. The sickly variety cuts the heal effect applied to your sheep target down to 10% of its usual healiness. So this should allow you to sheep something without restoring all of its health, which could definitely have its uses, though most of the uses I'm thinking of occur in PvP.
Heavy Polymorph This one works identically to the way Improved Polymorph works currently. It gives you a 3-second idiot buffer when somebody smacks your sheep target.
Double Polymorph I'm not sure anything you say could prevent me from selecting this as my sheep talent at this tier. Just the idea of being able to sheep two targets at once makes me all tingly. And they've even gone and improved it since BlizzCon, raising the duration of the second sheep from 50% of normal to 75%. So sexy.
Level 90 tier
OK, now here's where things get really interesting. Remember how the mage community pretty much universally felt Living Bomb should remain a fire-only spell? Well that still hasn't happened. It's still available to every mage at this tier, but now you actually have to choose it over Arcane Bomb and Frost Bomb. Why, of all things, is this a choice? Do we really want frost mages running around with Arcane Bomb? Fire Mages with Frost Bomb? Basically, these are essentially three generic bomb spells that perform slightly differently from one another. You can pick whichever you want, and your spec doesn't matter one bit. They might as well have called them Random Jumpy Bomb, DoT Bomb, and Slow Bomb. The sphere of magic they belong to is really just cosmetic. Still ... interesting.
Arcane Bomb This one does some solid instant initial damage and then applies a powerful DoT to a single target, but with the caveat that it can and will jump at any time from the intended target to any valid enemy target within 15 yards. So yeah. Not sure I see very many people taking this one as it stands right now.
Living Bomb Unchanged. It still DoTs up a single target, then blows up after 12 seconds. Still good, still Living Bomb. Only now you have to select it.
Frost Bomb This one intrigues me. It's essentially a time bomb. You stick it to some unsuspecting warlock's back as he wanders into the 30 Seconds to Mars concert. Five seconds later, the Frost Bomb goes off, doing substantial damage to every warlock within 10 yards, and applying a potent 70% slow affect to them for the next 4 seconds. Suddenly, Jared Leto wonders why all the weepy hand-wringing and Dad-hating is happening in slow motion.
So what's the verdict, mages? Remember, the whole point of all this advance information is so that we can provide constructive feedback. Like the changes or hate them -- just don't keep silent about them. Let the designers know what they need to do.
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.