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Arcane Brilliance: You, me and 2.3

Amanda Rivera

There is more meaty discussion to come in Arcane Brilliance, I promise you that, but being a mage keenly interested in what is in store for our class with the addition of Patch 2.3, I realized some of you too might want to know what we are gaining and what we are losing. I'm sorry for the tardiness of this edition of the column, I spent the last couple of days reinstalling windows, and if you have ever been spared that joy (or own a Mac) I am very jealous.

So there is all this information oozing out all over the internets about the patch, and since the other classes aren't really my priority, we'll look at the really important stuff. First off, let's look a little at what information is different from what we originally knew about the patch and how it related to mages. We knew we had a new spell coming, that the damage coefficient was being "obliterated" as Drysc said, and that we would see changes to Arcane Meditation and Ice Barrier. This is what we know now:

  • Arcane Intellect and Arcane Brilliance mana costs reduced.
  • Arcane Meditation (Arcane) increased to 10/20/30% mana regeneration.
  • Detect Magic removed. All players may now see their target's beneficial effects at all times.
  • Evocation now regenerates 15% of total mana every 2 seconds rather than increase Spirit based regeneration.
  • Fire Ward and Frost Ward now gain additional benefit from spell damage bonuses. Base absorb values of ranks 5 and 6 have been reduced.
  • Hypothermia duration increased to 45 sec.
  • Ice Barrier now gains additional benefit from spell damage bonuses. Base absorb values of ranks 5 and 6 have been reduced.
  • Improved Fireball: The reduction in damage coefficient caused by this talent has been removed.
  • Improved Frostbolt: The reduction in damage coefficient caused by this talent has been removed.
  • Polymorph: It is no longer possible to polymorph a player and have that player remain mounted. In addition, it will now always be removed correctly if multiple Mages overwrite each other's Polymorph.
  • Portal Spells: Portal spells to capital cities can no longer be cast in battlegrounds.
  • Remove Curse range increased to 40 yards.
  • (NEW SPELL) Ritual of Refreshment available on trainers at level 70.

First let's look at what we're losing. Detect Magic is going the way of the dodo and 8-tracks, and instead all players will be able to see the buffs on a target. This particular news has left me pretty cold since I haven't used that spell since Molten Core, but I did like the pretty graphic on my bar. Maybe I will use it for a macro in the future. We are losing some mana cost as well, specifically on Arcane Intellect and Arcane Brilliance, meaning a mage might be able to cast AB on three groups in a raid before having to drink instead of two. I'm going to keep my eye on this one, because as nice as a cheaper spell is, I'm not sure exactly what "reduced" entails.

We will also be losing our damage tax, finally, from the Improved Frostbolt and Fireball talents. I cannot overemphasize how huge this is. We are no longer going to be punished for taking these talents. The next thing on the list that caught my eye is the loss of portals in battlegrounds. No longer will you be able to port the group out to Orgrimmar after the battle concludes. In addition you will no longer be able to Polymorph a player and have a pig riding a kodo. This is saddening to me, mostly because I never saw it happen. I guess I have a couple weeks to get in my sheeping of mounted players before it goes bye-bye.

Now let's take a look at what we are gaining. It's the biggest news, so let's start with the Ritual of Refreshment. Mages are receiving a trainable spell at level 70 that will allow you to summon an adorable little feast table from which players in your party can grab what is known as a Conjured Manna Biscuit. It's not exactly from heaven, but it does restore 7500 health and 7200 mana when eaten. I still haven't seen anything that tells us if there will be a reagent required for this (simple flour perhaps?), and if you have let us know.

We are gaining spell damage bonuses with Fire and Frost ward. These handy little armor spells will now help mages with the two preferred schools of magic. Evocation, which recently got a graphic upgrade, will now restore 15% of your total mana every 2 seconds rather than being based on your Spirit statistic. This means no longer will you need to Outfitter a special mana conjuring outfit just to get the most punch out of the spell.

Honestly I see this as mixed news. After all, we are promised changes to the spirit stat in the future. If they add a spell damage component to Spirit there is a slight possibility of it being a viable stat for mages, in which case those who have stacked on huge amounts of the stuff in the future would receive no additional bonus to their Evocation. Seeing as how we don't know exactly where Spirit will end up, I suppose having the spell based upon a stat that is easily identifiable makes a certain amount of sense. I guess I just wonder if changing this spell isn't jumping the gun a bit, or if it is a sign that even the new Spirit attribute will be of little benefit to mages.

I am happy to see that Arcane Meditation is getting some more power. Perhaps this will keep me POM Pyro longer. We shall have to see on that one. I still have a bone to pick with the developers on the obvious bias toward the other two trees. Where is the Elixir of Greater Arcane Power for instance, or the Arcane Ward no less? No soapbox here, I just wonder why they insist that Arcane is intended as a viable spec without supporting it with the itemization necessary to do so?

I notice that mages are still too dominant in PvP, so Frost Mages will now gain 15 more seconds of Hypothermia before they can recast their Ice Block. I find it odd, this news, when you couple it with the buff that Ice Barrier is receiving. Does this mean that mages are destined to be glass cannons no matter which spec they choose? Or maybe it's just coincidence that both defensive spells are being modified.

When I look back on it, there are more changes to the class than I expected. There are a few I don't agree with, a few that look more like bug fixes than anything else, and a few that make me leap for joy. Which is your favorite change in Patch 2.3, and more importantly, what do you think mages are still missing?

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