As time marches forward, I find myself staring intently down the barrel of my wand at the approaching pandaren invasion, realizing with each passing moment that I am entirely unprepared. So much to cover! So little time. Good thing we can Alter and Warp time, right?
It's high time we discussed glyphs. I know Josh Myers previewed glyphs during my absence a few months back, but a whole lot has changed since then. This particular system has changed a bit from what we're used to. Gone are prime glyphs. Now it's just majors and minors. And the majors have been redesigned in an attempt to make them more situational and utilitarian, and this attempt seems to have been largely successful.
Instead of being forced to choose between damage increase glyph A and damage increase glyph B, you will now find yourself choosing the glyphs that appeal to you most or fit your playstyle best. Cookie-cutter, must-have glyphs are by and large a thing of the past, and I submit that this is a positive change.
Still, each spec will find that certain glyphs work better for them than others, and in the guide that follows, I will endeavor to advise you as best I can on which glyphs look most attractive for each school of mage.
Just know going in that I won't be listing every glyph available. If I forget one of your favorites, just use it with a smug look on your face that says "I know something you don't, Belt." And be aware that in this expansion more than ever before, you'll find yourself wanting to switch glyphs from fight to fight pretty often. It's fast and easy to do, and these glyphs are designed to be less mandatory and more situationally useful.
- Glyph of Arcane Power This doubles the duration of Arcane Power, meaning that in a four minute fight, your uptime could be a full minute. That's sexy. You'll be burning through mana, but that's a significant DPS increase if you use your mana return options judiciously.
- Glyph of Arcane Explosion This one may not sound like much, but in a fight where you have a large group of kill targets and they are just refusing to bunch together the way you need them to, this will increase your AoE damage. It's situational at best, but you'll be surprised how often those situations pop up.
- Glyph of Fire Blast So Fire Blast is by no means an arcane spell, but this glyph will make it become part of your rotation. It will spread your Living Bomb, which is the tier 5 talent your arcane mage will probably be using. This will save you a few global cooldowns, and even if you find yourself choosing Nether Tempest or Frost Bomb, this will give those talents a boost too.
- Glyph of Mana Gem Boring glyph, but more charges for your Mana Gem translates into more damage thanks to Mana Adept, as long as the fight is long enough to burn through any of the extra charges.
- Glyph of Slow This is a must-have for PvP mages, and though it provides no measurable damage increase, even some PvE arcane mages might find themselves taking it for the kiting utility.
- Glyph of Evocation As always, the health return makes this one a fantastic PvP and leveling option. That goes for every spec, not just arcane.
- Glyph of Loose Mana This switches your Mana Gem from instant mana return to mana over time, providing a more consistent supply of mana, which translates to slightly more dependable damage thanks to Mana Adept. Combined with Glyph of Mana Gem, this will ensure that even in long fights, your mage will have a constant source of mana return.
- Glyph of Momentum Useful across all specs, I call this one the Glyph of Strafing. It comes in handy when you need to move laterally but want to keep facing the boss. As with all things involving Blink, there is no possible way this could go wrong.
- Glyph of Fire Blast Same as detailed above, only as a fire mage, Inferno Blast is absolutely a part of your normal rotation. This glyph is pretty much mandatory for fire mages.
- Glyph of Combustion This doubles the direct damage and duration of Combustion at the tradeoff of also doubling the cooldown. It will help you line up your Combustion uptime with burn phases, but it makes it much more important that you maximize the efficiency of your Combustions for it to be beneficial. If you hit Combustion at the wrong time, you're burning a doubly-long cooldown.
- Glyph of Frostfire Bolt Have your ever wanted to swap Fireball out for Frostfire Bolt in your DPS rotation? This glyph allows that. It equalizes the cast times of the two spells, and since the damage is equal, the only differences between them are that Frostfire Bolt has the snare effect and Fireball doesn't, and Frostfire Bolt is much prettier. This is by no means a damage increase, but if you want your main nuke to have a slow effect and look super sexy, this is your glyph.
- Glyph of Arcane Explosion Might be worth taking for the same situational AoE damage detailed above.
- Glyph of Armors Useful for all specs equally, I figure this is as good a place to list it as any. This is a defensive glyph only that will find most use in PvP or in fights where there is a major amount of incoming magical damage.
- Glyph of Momentum For the strafing. And the occasional hilarious Blink malfunctions. That's pretty much it. Minor glyphs just aren't very useful.
- Glyph of Water Elemental This will keep your big blue buddy alive longer and allow him to cast on the move, making it useful for fights where there's a lot of unavoidable splash or AoE damage coming in and on high movement fights. Either way, the usefulness is modest.
- Glyph of Icy Veins This sounds better than it actually is. You're trading the 20% haste buff of unglyphed Icy Veins for a 20% damage increase on the affected spells. Unless you're encountering a situation where your Icy Veins is causing you to surpass the soft haste cap (50%, when your instant spells fall below the 1-second global), you'll probably prefer the haste buff. If you're going to be hitting that cap, though, the damage increase suddenly becomes the far more attractive buff.
- Glyph of Ice Lance This is a damage increase in multi-target fights. Plus, who doesn't want more Ice Lance?
- Glyph of Armors As noted above, this is for fights where damage mitigation is a concern.
- Glyph of Cone of Cold You don't get to use Cone of Cold too often in most PvE fights, but in fights where enemies are going to actually be at close range often enough, this doubles the damage your Cone of Cold will do to them. Quite useful in PvP, only situationally so in PvE.
- Glyph of Deep Freeze Deep Freeze no longer does any damage, but removing it from the global cooldown might prove useful in PvP.
- Glyph of Momentum Again. I guess.
Every week, Arcane Brilliance teleports you inside the wonderful world of mages and then hurls a Fireball in your face. We have you covered for Mists of Pandaria info, including our recent mage talent spec guide, and our guide to glyphs. And be sure to check out our list of reasons to still love our mages after all these years.