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Arcane Barrage nerfed stealthily

Christian Belt

For about five shining minutes, Mages were over-powered. Arcane Mages, to be precise. Or so everyone tells me. All I know is that for the first time in a long time, I felt the kind of power I always assumed Mages were meant to wield.

Patch 3.0.9 has brought Arcane Mages back down to earth, though, and only some of the bad stuff was actually in the patch notes. You see, along with the incredibly clunky and obtuse changes to Arcane Power and Presence of Mind (effectively ending PoM-Pyro specs as we knew them), and the nerf to Slow, this briefly mighty spec has also received a bonus undocumented nerf to our signature spell: Arcane Barrage.

After a whole lot of us noticed we simply weren't doing the same damage post-patch that we were pre-patch, the official forums lit up with Mages contending that Arcane Barrage simply wasn't packing the punch it used to. Though the tooltip hadn't changed, the damage had fallen off considerably. Last night, Eyonix responded with a post explaining the change and letting us know that its effects would be monitored. I always thought the PTR was a good place to monitor changes, but what do I know?

Before we discuss this any further, let me just put it up front that I'm setting the over-under on "QQ MOAR" comments following this post at 45. I'm taking the over.

Anyway, here's the nitty-gritty:

Though Eyonix didn't go into any specific numbers, my own experience as well as the testing of a great deal of other Mages on the official forums and over at Elitist Jerks suggests that the spellpower coefficient for this spell has been lowered by somewhere in the neighborhood of 10%. Though the baseline damage of the spell remains untouched, that's a pretty sizable nerf.

The change is aimed at nerfing Arcane's effectiveness in PvP, and may have even been necessary there, but the sad fact is that the real pain will be felt by PvE Arcane Mages. Arcane Barrage is now no longer worth the mana cost to weave into a spell rotation. Of the three Mage trees, two now have a 51 point talent that is only of real value in PvP. I'm not overstating this, believe me. If you're an Arcane Mage, you're nodding your head sadly right now. If you aren't, well, go start a petition about Ret Pallies or Death Knights or something. You're done with us.

The fact of the matter is that while Arcane Barrage remains a useful source of mobile damage in PvP, it simply can't crack into any kind of efficient spell rotation with this level of damage reduction. To counterbalance this, Blizzard almost has to significantly lower the spell's mana cost, or switch the 10% nerf from the coefficient to the base damage, so that eventually spellpower would scale it into an acceptable damage-per-mana range.

Let's all link hands and sing Bob Marley songs, Arcane Mages. This incredibly silly class-balance carousel keeps turning, and for now, we're back in our customary position on it: looking up at where we wish we were.

Ok, I'm done. Warlocks, let the gloating begin!

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