Arcane Brilliance: WoW patch 3.3 primer for mages

Christian Belt
C. Belt|12.07.09

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Arcane Brilliance: WoW patch 3.3 primer for mages
It's time again for another Arcane Brilliance, the weekly mage column that loves mages and all things magey. Take this picture, for example. That's a mage right there. If I'm not mistaken, she's getting ready to do something magey. Like plant a Fireball deep in the fertile soil of a warlock's grill. Arcane Brilliance loves everything about that.

So apparently patch 3.3 could literally drop any moment. I'm not even kidding. It might have happened while I was typing that last sentence. I don't know. More likely, though, is that it will come (as per the usual deployment-method) during the upcoming Tuesday maintenance. This means we've only got a little time left before we can enter Icecrown Citadel and begin the patch-long process of shaking its inhabitants down repeatedly for loot. I, for one, cannot wait to place an Arcane Missile or five directly up Arthas' frosty tailpipe.

But what, exactly, does this patch bring to the mage class? I'm glad you asked. Though this patch is admittedly a bit heavy on the new raid content and light on class changes, mages are one of the few classes that are getting some pretty significant new junk. From increased raid utility for Arcane, to buffed-up AoE for Fire, to actual, honest-to-goodness competitive raid DPS for Frost, 3.3 is delivering a little of something for everybody. Join me after the break for a full recap of all the newness we can expect come patch day.

This is the only change Arcane is getting, but it's a pretty significant one. One could argue that, prior to this patch, Arcane mages offered almost nothing in the way of raid utility, only it wouldn't be much of an argument since nobody would bother to disagree with you. Fire mages offered a raid-wide crit boost, Frost mages did the same, but poor, underprivileged Arcane mages had to get by on their wit and charm.

Well no more! Now every time Arcane mages crit with pretty much anything they're going to be casting, they provide a 3% crit damage boost to the raid, and the buff lasts ten seconds, meaning that unless the Arcane mage, you know, dies or something, that buff will be up pretty much constantly. That was a lot of commas for one sentence, I know. Oh well, nothing to be done about it now. What's that, you say? Use the delete key? Don't be silly. Have you never read any of my stuff before? I'd think it'd be clear by now that my delete key was lost in a tragic editing accident over a year ago. Don't ever let anyone tell you that a dangling participle isn't dangerous.

Edit: The buff grants damage, not crit, and once again, I prove that in the idiot races, I always take 1st place.

  • Blast Wave: The mana cost of this talent has been significantly reduced.
So what does significantly mean? Well, the higher ranks of Blast Wave on the live servers costs, at the time of this writing, 28% of your base mana. That's a two, followed by an eight. When the patch hits, that same Blast Wave will cost you 7% of your base mana. That's a seven. Followed by a lot of hugging and crying. So I think we can safely assume that significantly means holy crap. Up from 10 seconds, this makes an already useful PvP talent, well, twice as useful. You get silenced, you'll be immune to any other silence effects for the next twenty seconds. If you get hit by an eight second silence, you've got a full 12 seconds of immunity left after that silence expires. Any mage that's ever found himself virtually locked down by rotating silences and interrupts can appreciate the must-have quality of this talent in PvP scenarios, and this only makes it that much more must-have.
  • Dragon's Breath: The mana cost of this talent has been significantly reduced.
Now? 31% of your base mana. After the patch? 7%.


And you thought significantly meant holy crap before. This is a full 3% more holy crap.
  • Firestarter: When this talent is triggered, it makes the next Flamestrike cost no mana in addition to being instant.
This, along with the aforementioned drastic mana-cost reductions for Blast wave and Dragon's Breath, seems to be an active, much needed, and highly-effective effort on Blizzard's part to make Fire mages awesome at AoE again. Though our AoE damage isn't getting buffed, our ability to cast a bunch of AoE without running out of mana is. I mean, by a lot. I'm using a buttload of italics here, but I'm not sure how else to convey my enthusiasm. The ability to burn through large crowds without also burning through my mana pool...yes, please.

So now, when you cast a Blast Wave or Dragon's Breath and trigger Firestarter, the instant Flamestrike that results will not only be instant, it will be free. That's pretty cool. Now go forth, my fiery friends. Head into Alterac Valley. Find a tower. Wait for a group of Alliance/Horde scum to try to invade it. Then set them on fire. Over and over again. Welcome back, AoE dominance...I've missed you so much.
  • Improved Scorch: The debuff from this talent no longer stacks, and instead can apply the full effect from a single cast of Scorch.
If Fire mages were looking for a genuine PvE boost to go with those AoE buffs we discussed, this is it. You used to have to waste a glyph slot to achieve this effect. Now it's built into the talent. The new glyph will be renamed to Glyph of Scorch, and will grant a flat 20% damage buff to Scorch, and absolutely nobody will ever take it. So...essentially this change frees up a glyph slot for every raiding Fire mage. If you're looking to make some money on patch day, level a scribe really quickly and make a bunch of Glyph of Living Bomb or something. Then throw them on the auction house and watch the Fire mages fight over them. It'll be just like Black Friday, only with slightly more flaming death.

  • Deep Freeze: This spell now deals a large amount of damage to targets permanently immune to stuns. In addition, when this ability deals damage it will no longer consume two charges of Fingers of Frost for those mages with the Shatter talent.
This is huge. We discussed this in more detail earlier on in the PTR cycle, but it bears repeating: Deep Freeze is awesome now.

By adding in a damage component against bosses, this spell suddenly goes from "completely useless in PvE" to "the single largest damage spell mages have in PvE." It does a massive, Pyroblast-esque amount of damage to bosses, and should become a permanent part of every Frost mage's PvE rotation. Raiding Frost mages will want to insert this into every shatter combo, every time it's off cooldown.
  • Fingers of Frost: This talent now triggers immediately on casting a spell rather than being delayed until the spell strikes the target.
This may seem minor at first, but is actually a nice buff. Prior to 3.3, you'd cast Frostbolt, then wind up another Frostbolt, and Fingers of Frost would proc only when one of those Frostbolts actually completed its trip through the air and struck your target. By the time you noticed it had procced, it was entirely possible that you already had another Frostbolt in the air (set to consume the first charge), and another mid-cast. If you weren't very quick at canceling that cast and throwing out the Deep Freeze you had saved up for that second Fingers of Frost charge, both charges would be gone before you knew it.

By making the talent proc on cast instead of when the target was struck, this gives Frost mages a lot more control over their combos. It's not as exciting as some of these changes, but this is still a very welcome change.

But the big change for Frost mages isn't a talent or spell. It's a glyph.
  • Glyph of Eternal Water: This glyph allows for a summoned Water Elemental to last indefinitely, but it can no longer cast Freeze.
Congratulations, Frost just became a pet class. You're like a warlock, only you don't suck.

This is a pretty hefty DPS boost for Frost mages, and together with the other changes to Frost is the biggest story of the patch for mages: Frost is PvE-viable again.

That's right, for the first time since the days of Molten Core, Frost raid DPS is competitive with the other two specs. These changes put it right in line with Arcane, and just below deep Fire in the DPS hierarchy. So when the patch hits, I expect to see flocks of Frost mages step outside the battlegrounds for the first time in years, rub their eyes in the bright sunlight of the PvE world, and proceed, their new permanent Water Elemental in tow, to the nearest raid instance en masse. Because though I'm sure Icecrown Citadel is already quite chilly, it could always be a bit...Frostier...right?

The only spec that really will require a new talent build after the patch is Frost, and I anticipate those builds to look something like this:

Frost 19/0/52

Edit: Fixed the link.

I can't even begin to explain how excited I am to see volleys of raid-viable Frostbolts and Deep Freezes being hurled in rapid succession toward Arthas' face. He won't know what hit him. He'll only know that whatever it was, it was cold.

What else are we looking forward to in this patch, mages?

Every week Arcane Brilliance teleports you inside the wonderful world of mages and then hurls a Fireball in your face. Check out our recent two-part look at what Cataclysm will mean to Mages, or our lengthy series of mage leveling guides. Until next week, keep the Mage-train a-rollin'.

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