No more scaling mana pools
This system is entirely changing in Mists of Pandaria. Intellect will no longer increase anyone's mana. Mana pools are becoming normalized, and spell costs are being adjusted to reflect that. (Arcane Blast is 5% of base mana on live but 1% in MoP beta.)
We're also losing the mana regeneration currently offered by Mage Armor but getting 300% increased mana regeneration through Mana Attunement. It also looks like haste might become our mana regeneration tool of choice, similar to spirit on a healer, due to the datamined ability Nether Attunement.
What does this all mean? Well, first, some of arcane's scaling issues should be addressed; intellect should be as good for it as it is for every other caster. This should serve to make mana management a pivotal part of maximizing your DPS and not something that becomes trivial at super-high gear levels. Not that mana management isn't something arcane mages do now, but we'll be doing it even more in MoP
Spell and mechanic changes
Mana regeneration isn't the only thing changing for arcane come Mists of Pandaria
. As Archmage Pants explained earlier this month
, Arcane Charge
has been added to arcane on the beta. It's built by casting Arcane Blast
and Arcane Missiles
, consumed by casting Arcane Barrage
, and increases the damage of all the above abilities by 25% per charge. It also causes your Arcane Barrage to hit an extra enemy per charge, meaning your AB will be able to hit up to five targets, and it causes your Arcane Blast to cost 150% more mana per charge.
In addition to that, there are other changes to our spells, such as the aforementioned change to Arcane Blast's mana cost. Arcane Missiles is still free, and as far as I can tell, it is active all the time. Arcane Barrage has the added AoE component and has been changed to benefit from Arcane Charges. It also seems to deal higher base damage, making it an actual potent damage-dealing spell for the first time.
What does this all mean?
If I'm right and Arcane Missiles doesn't actually proc from anything, this is what I assume will be the basics of our rotation in Mists of Pandaria
: Arcane Missiles/Arcane Blast will be used to stack charges. Missiles will be used any time you need to manage your mana, such as when you bursted low and need to regen or if you're trying to stay above 80% mana. Arcane Blast will still be the highest priority spell, used either in burst phases or just to do more damage.
Arcane Barrage will have two main uses. First, as always, it will be our go-to mobile spell. Second, it will be used to clear stacks of Arcane Charge, hopefully doing respectable damage in the process. It seems to be mana-free in MoP
, which means ArB is the only spell in our normal rotation that costs us mana.
The real trick of MoP
damage dealing is going to be figuring out the sweet spot between mana consumption and maximum damage dealing. I'm sure different combinations of blast and missiles will be used at differing mana levels; you might four stack with Arcane Blast when you're at 100% mana, or weave two ArBs and two AMs when you're approaching 80. Tactical stack clearing with Barrage will be a must, as it's a fair assumption to assume Blizzard will balance so that using Arcane Missiles at four stacks will be a DPS loss.
The really interesting part will be if Nether Attunement
makes it to live. First off, it will definitely change the value of stats. More haste will mean your mana regenerates more quickly, which will mean more time spent with high mana, which will in turn increase the value of mastery. The two complement each other incredibly well. Going even further than that, haste will increase your mana regeneration, but it will also increase your mana consumption by allowing you to cast mana-consuming spells more quickly. Nether Attunement will definitely make haste an interesting stat if it makes it through beta.
All in all, the changes in store for arcane have me somewhat excited. This is shocking, as I've spent most of this expansion hating arcane and wishing PvE frost were somewhat viable. I believe Blizzard has done a really good job of keeping the feel of the spec while making some nice quality of life changes and doing a good job of addressing prevailing balance issues. Now, if Blizzard would only send me a beta invite so I could actually test my theories, I'd be a happy camper.
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.