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Arcane Brilliance: Mages are fine! Now fix us.

Christian Belt

Each week Arcane Brilliance saves the world, one Mage column at a time. Once, we did it by throwing the One Ring into a volcano. Oh, and this one time, we did it by slaying the evil Voldemort. And every once in awhile, we do it by traveling back in time and saving John Connor from the robotic clutches of Skynet. The Edward Furlong John Connor, not the Christian Bale one. Also, Arcane Brilliance doesn't go back as Michael Biehn or Ahnuld. Arcane Brilliance is totally Summer Glau. Yowza.

So...with news flying around about upcoming patches, and changes on the horizon for other classes, I can't help but notice a strange, almost eerie silence over here on the Mage front. If this were a movie, somebody would say "It's quiet," and then somebody else would pipe up with "yeah...a little too quiet," and that'd be the moment when somebody gets grabbed by something big and scary, or something explodes, or Samuel L Jackson gets eaten by a shark or something. Seriously, I'm starting to get a little freaked out here.

Now, don't misunderstand: I'm not complaining. I appreciate the recent Mirror Image change. I like that my copies aren't morons now. I really do. It's just that you have to go back to patch 3.1 to find anything even resembling a major change affecting the way Mages play the game, while other classes still appear to be in constant flux.

This tells me one thing: Mages are good. We're set. Really, you guys have fun over there with your new class mechanics and what-not, we're fine over here with our...whatever. Yeah? You got yourself some new Druid bear-form art? That's cool, because can turn stuff into rabbits now. That's right, suck on it.

So apparently Blizzard thinks Mages are fine for now. I'm not arguing the issue; if you ignore that fantastic five minutes right at the beginning of Wrath of the Lich King when we were awesome, I'm hard pressed to think of a point in the history of this game when Mages have been in a more comparatively satisfactory position than we are right now. Our damage is competitive, and we don't suck in PvP. We can get raid spots. We can kill Warlocks. I'm not unhappy right now, really I'm not.

All things considered, we're in a relatively good place right now as a class. But the idea that Blizzard might not be doing any work on the Mage class right now is mildly disturbing to me. There are still approximately a million problems I'd like to see fixed, thank you very much. The class could certainly use some tinkering, and I'm sure none of us would be opposed to having something entirely new added to the mix. It sounds selfish, I know, but Mages just want a little attention, guys. I realize we're not as flashy or sexy as some classes--we can't summon succubi or turn into a cheetah or raise armies of the undead to do our bidding--but we still need a little love.

Below, you'll find my personal short-list of areas I'd like the class designers to pay specific attention to. As soon as they're done making out with Death Knights, of course.

DPS in Ulduar

With the amount of movement necessary in a lot of the encounters in this level of end-game content, DoT-heavy classes seem to have the upper hand when it comes to dishing out damage. Give Mages a fight where we can stand and cast long enough to establish a proper rotation and we're competitive, but make us dance around like the freaking Wiggles, and we end up getting out-DPSed by the off-tank Death Knight, to say nothing of the embarrassment we suffer at the hands of Warlocks and Shadow Priests. Up to this point, our DPS has appropriate, but Ulduar has exposed our weakness as a class.

I'm not asking for no movement at all, but jeez...can we have a second to get off a Fireball or two? Seriously, some of these fights are a little over-the-top. Here's hoping Arthas holds still for a second or two when we see him in Icecrown.

Permanent Water Elemental

This would go a very long way toward stabilizing Frost Mage DPS in PvE. I understand the concerns about how this would affect PvP, an area in which Frost is already quite strong. I understand those concerns, but I don't agree with them. When you fight a Warlock or Hunter, you can choose to kill the pet, and frankly, it isn't difficult to do. The same choice would apply to a water elem, if it were a permanent pet.

The major advantage to having your elemental out in PvP is the ranged root it can throw out. Having it out longer just makes that ability available more often. It will help, but it isn't going to make Frost Mages some kind of PvP juggernaut. If that extra CC makes your team nervous, just flick a damage spell or two in the elemental's direction, and it'll die just like everybody else's pets. I really don't see the big issue here. This would be an excellent and simple fix for the long-standing DPS issues Frost Mages deal with, and the PvP consequences would be minimal at worst.

Fix Blink

Seriously. Holy crap.

This is a core Mage ability that has never worked. Blizzard has employed the "close-our-eyes-and-maybe-it-will-go-away" approach long enough on this. When I Blink, I should go forward. That is all.

Evocation needs some work

For an Arcane Mage, this is our primary mana regeneration mechanic. We rely on it. We use it multiple times in longer fights, and with it--and some careful mana gem usage--we can generally make it through without having to stand around wanding. But it channels for eight freaking seconds, we can't do anything while we're casting it, and the slightest little bump screws the whole thing up. It takes careful planning and a lot of luck to keep from getting interrupted during that eight seconds, especially in Ulduar. Getting interrupted, or even losing a second or two of the channelling time, can spell complete disaster for an Arcane Mage.

How to fix it? Easy. Make it impossible to interrupt.

Calm down. Hear me out.

Mages can still take damage while channeling it, and they still have to stand still for eight long seconds to make it work, but getting whacked no longer negates the spell. If this is too big a PvP buff (and I don't think it is, not even close), make other players' interrupts work, but not those of mobs or bosses. The bottom line here is that a boss' ability to interrupt this spell effectively sidelines an Arcane Mage for far too long a time. It needs to be reworked, one way or another.

Or, you could always just buff Arcane's mana regen altogether. That would be fine too.

Fire needs PvP help

Just a tad. Survivability is the main gripe here. Fire just doesn't have it. I'd like to see some form of actual damage mitigation given to Fire, maybe added to Molten Shields to make that talent something worth spending a point or two on, instead of it continuing to be the huge pile of suck that it is now.

Another suggestion I like is to keep Fire Mages just as squishy as they currently are, but make killing them inherently dangerous. Something like making them explode on death would be fun, or having Molten Armor scale steeply upward as the Fire Mage's health drops or something. Either of those would be in keeping with the whole "glass cannon" image Blizzard wants us to maintain, but at least would make opponents think twice about ganging up on Fire Mages right out of the gate.

Frost needs PvE help

This is another fairly general wish, and one for which I really have no specific suggestions, but it needs to happen nonetheless. A permanent Water Elemental would be a good start here, and replenishment was a right-hearted idea, but Frost Mages still need a lot of work.

Now that I think about it, maybe I do have one suggestion.

Improve Glyph of Frostbolt significantly. This glyph removes the snare portion of the spell in exchange for buffing the damage, but doesn't do so in nearly as large a way as it needs to. The idea here was to trade the spell's PvP viability for PvE viability, but for that concept to work, the PvE buff has to equal the PvP nerf, right? So basically, the damage buff would have to bring Frostbolt in line with Fireball for Fire Mages, Arcane Blast for Arcane Mages, or Frostfire Bolt for you elementalists out there. 5% simply isn't enough. 10% might not even be enough, but it'd be a start, don't you think? Throw this one up on the PTR and let us play with it, Blizzard. I know a lot of Frost Mages who would give up some fairly vital body parts to be raid-viable. This seems like a simple change to make. Lets make it before these guys sacrifice a kidney or something.

What kinds of changes would you guys like to see? What are the areas in which Mages need the most attention? I don't know if anybody from Blizzard actually reads this column, but if they do, let's give them something to read.

Every week Arcane Brilliance teleports you inside the wonderful world of Mages and then hurls a Fireball in your face. Check out our recent three-part guide to professions for Mages, 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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