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Arcane Brilliance: Okay, now I like spirit

Christian Belt

Each week Arcane Brilliance glances around to make sure there are no Death Knights in the area, then daintily tiptoes out from cover long enough to throw together a column about Mages. Usually, this ends badly for Arcane Brilliance. Out of nowhere, a big purple rope-looking thingy wraps itself around Arcane Brilliance's neck and drags it backward into a big stabby implement of some type. Arcane Brilliance tries to fight back, but finds it has been silenced three different ways and the Death Knight that just jumped it has enclosed them both beneath some kind of ugly anti-magic igloo. So, Arcane Brilliance no longer want to hear any complaints about misspelled words or grammatical errors. Arcane Brilliance is simply too busy getting ganked by Death Knights to proofread. I swear.

When I posted on Wednesday about the giant Mage Q&A session hosted by the developers, I was cautiously optimistic. The developers repeatedly assured Mages in that Q&A thread that they were keeping a close eye on our performance on the PTR, that a lot of our concerns would shake themselves out as we continued along through the testing process. Chief among these concerns of late has been the nerf to Molten Armor and its glyph, a change that tied the formerly static 5% crit buff those offered to spirit and turned out to be a nerf to the large majority of Mages and a slight buff to only the most well-geared among us. As nerfs went, it wasn't the most devastating one in recent memory, but was disproportionately reviled by Mages because it forced us to pay attention to a stat that was otherwise of little value to us. In the Q&A thread, we were told that the developers were aware of our concerns and would consider upping the spirit-to-crit conversion rate if they felt it necessary. I remained positive, but wasn't exactly holding my breath.

It appears I needn't have been skeptical. The latest PTR build already reflects a few very nice changes for those of us who like to wear robes, waggle sticks in the air, and hurl large flaming orbs of magical death at Warlocks. That's right, my fellow Mages: It appears the nerf-train has at least temporarily run itself off the rails. Follow me after the break, and we'll go over the specific changes.

Molten Armor and Glyph of Molten Armor

When this spell and its glyph were first altered, they offered a max conversion rate for spirit to crit rating of 40% (25% from Molten Armor and 15% from the glyph). You needed at least 575 spirit fully buffed for this not to be a nerf.

The latest PTR build has increased the crit rating gained by spirit from Molten Armor to 35%, and its glyph to 20%. Let me get out my abacus and slide-rule...carry the one...divide by zero...yep, that means we can now get a total of 55% of our spirit as crit rating.

So how much spirit do we need now? Well, to get back to the 5% this spell and its glyph used to give us, we need 418 spirit at level 80. That's not bad at all. You'll pick up that much spirit without even trying with the current itemization, unless you're actively avoiding it. If you've been picking up a lot of spirit for some reason, you're going to be in very good shape once the patch hits. That same 575 spirit that we needed a week ago just to get back to 5% crit? This week it would give you almost 7% crit. I don't even need my abacus to tell me that 7% is 2 whole percent more than 5%. Okay, who am I kidding...I totally needed my abacus for that.

This new 55% conversion rate is really nice, and it will only get nicer as we progress into Ulduar. This change means that our spirit will scale quite favorably going forward, to the point that the stat is actually quite valuable for Mages. Instead of it being an albatross around our necks--yet another stat we're now forced to pay attention to--spirit is now of relatively high value to us. It's not quite up there with crit rating or intellect or anything like that, but when that General Vezax drops the Mantle of the Unknowing in 25-man Ulduar, we have as much a right to it as the Priest does.

Now, clearly all of this is still in flux. Blizzard appears set on converting spirit to crit rating for Mages who use Molten Armor, but the actual amount of crit we get is atill subject to change. By the time this change goes live, we could easily be getting more or less crit from Molten Armor than we do as of this writing on the PTR. But for now, I'm relatively happy with the numbers. 418 spirit is not terribly hard to get, and 55% will scale nicely with the spirit we pick up as we delve deeper into the end-game. Lets cross our collective fingers and hope we don't get screwed. And yes, I'm aware that you could give the same admonition to a group of people getting bussed off to prison. Get your mind out of the gutter.

Improved Scorch/Winter's Chill

The selfish buff I mentioned in Wednesday's post is still in effect for these two spells. It still sucks that these were chopped in half in the first place, but at least Blizzard is willing to throw us a small bone.


  • Improved Scorch: Increased critical strike chance is now 1%, down from 2% per application of the Improved Scorch effect. In addition, the critical strike chance of Scorch, Fireball, and Frostfire Bolt is increased by 1/2/3%.
  • Winter's Chill: Increased critical strike chance is now 1%, down from 2% per application of Winter's Chill. In addition, the critical strike chance of Frostbolt is increased by 1/2/3%.
So the raid still loses 5% crit, but at least Mages are getting 3% of that back for their main nukes. It's better than a kick in the face. Slightly.

The nice part of this selfish buff is that the 3% crit for our main nukes is entirely passive. It requires no casting of Scorch or Frostbolt to apply. It's always up. So even if you forget to keep Improved Scorch stacked for some reason, the raid will still lose its 5% crit debuff, but you'll be sitting pretty with your 3% Frostfire Bolt crit buff. Who needs the rest of the raid anyway, right? Wait, that came out wrong.

Living Bomb

One last change that bears mentioning is the massive buff to Living Bomb that appears to have gone up with this last PTR build. Word on the street--and my own suspicion--is that this may well be unintended--a bug--but we'll see. The base damage on the final explosion this spell triggers is up by more than double, from 306 to 690. That's a whole lot of buff to a spell that already does a sizable amount of damage. I'm not complaining, mind you. In fact, I'm going to shut up right now, just in case...

You know what, screw it. This spell is the 51 point talent for the Fire tree. It should be doing a crapload of damage. Mages are supposedly the kings of AoE, right? Right?

In closing...

I'm no longer worried, to be quite honest. Our damage is good now, and getting better on the PTR. We're still in a much better place right now as a class than we ever were during Burning Crusade. Blizzard has thrown some nerfs our direction, but they're also proving to be fairly reasonable about balancing them out over time.

In fact, I think I'm through devoting full column to these weekly changes. In the future, though I'll still be mentioning new stuff, I'll do it in the course of a column about something else. Of course, if the change is a big one, something warranting the extra coverage, I'll give it the space it's due. If next week Polymorph gains the ability to turn Warlocks into tamable pets, you can bet I'll be cranking out a couple thousand words on that change. But if Molten Armor gets buffed or nerfed another 5% or whatever, that'll get a paragraph at the end or something. I want to do some more stuff, like an updated Mage profession guide or a PvP-centric column or something. Any suggestions for what you'd like to see in this space? If you offer me no ideas, you have only yourselves to blame when next week's column is all about

Every week Arcane Brilliance teleports you inside the wonderful world of Mages and then hurls a Fireball in your face. Check out our recent guide to gearing your Mage for Naxxramas, or our look at a few ideas for dual speccing your Mage. Until next week, keep the Mage-train a-rollin'.

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