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Arcane Brilliance: Highly ineffective!

Christian Belt

Each week Arcane Brilliance puts on its game face and comes to play. It always gives 110% and leaves everything on the field. In fact, you might say that Arcane Brilliance just wants it more than the other team. Or something.

I think we can all agree that the first few Mega Man games were awesome. In case you just moved here from rural Nepal, or were raised Amish, or just awoke from a thirty-year coma or something, let me tell you why. The graphics were astounding for the era, the music was and always will be some of the catchiest game music ever created, and the games were incredibly challenging and fun. The Mega Man series introduced us to an awesome gameplay concept: you start out as a small blue robot with a tiny little pea-shooter on his arm, but each time you kill one of the games multiple robotic bosses, you get to use its special weapon from that point on. You kill Crash Man, you get to use his bombs. Take out Quick Man, you get to use his sweet, sweet boomerangs. Metal Man lends you the use of his metal blades. Much like in WoW, each time you bested one of the game's bosses, you couldn't wait to see what new weapon would drop from him. You worked your way through each level, dying repeatedly, trying out new strategies, until you finally downed the boss and claimed your reward, and for the most part, the reward was worth the effort.

Except for Mega Man 2's Bubble Man. His weapon sucked. It was called the Bubble Lead, and it was terrible. This special weapon was a large ball that rolled along the ground really, really slowly, crushing the dreams of young gamers everywhere as it went. It was kind of powerful when it hit, but so cumbersome and difficult to use that nobody ever bothered. The first time you equipped it and tried it out, excited to see what your new weapon could do, you watched that big slow ball of disappointment roll across the screen, and you swore to never use it again. Then you got to the last boss and discovered that the Bubble Lead was the only weapon that could really damage it. Yes, Mega Man 2 is awesome, but it is also iron-clad proof that game designers in the 80's hated us.

Similarly there are several spells in World of Warcraft that also suck. Every class has a couple. And though Mages are otherwise awesome, even we have a couple of bona fide stinkers.

Amplify Magic

What a steaming pile of excrement this spell is. I remember, many moons ago, when my Mage was young and innocent, he hit level 18 and learned this spell. I remember being excited when I saw the name of it. "Amplify Magic," I thought to myself, "Yes, I would like my magic amplified, thank you." Then I realized how the spell worked, and that the magic it would be most likely to amplify would be the stuff my enemies were using against me. I tried to get my 18 silver pieces back, but the trainer refused.

There are uses for this spell, I'm told. When in a group, and when fighting a mob that doesn't cast spells, this can sometimes be useful to cast upon the tank so that incoming heals are more powerful for him. Also, when you're taking your Mage into the Arena, if you have a healer in your team, you might want to throw this up as dispel protection. I think we'd all prefer the felhound ate this buff and not, say, something useful. Haha, felhound, joke's on you.

Also in the "pro's" column: one less spell to make room for on my action bar. Did you know that there's actually a talent that improves this specific spell by 25%? Yay! The only thing better than a useless spell is a spell that 25% more useless.

How to make it better:

All joking aside, perhaps I'm being too hard on this spell. It functions as the logical counterpart to Dampen Magic (granted, another spell of dubious merit). The whole concept here seems to be giving Mages a debuff to apply to tanks in fights where the benefits of extra healing outweigh the potential for extra incoming spell damage. I can appreciate the design. The problem is that nobody wants it on them. Nobody. I know several people who will automatically remove it if a Mage applies it to them. Put simply: the downside is more-often-than-not greater than the upside, and the opportunities for effective use are way too few and far between.

Either remove the negative aspect to the spell, or tweak the amounts so that the potential benefits outweigh the negatives enough to make the spell worthwhile. Barring that, just rework the spell entirely. I could get behind the idea of an aura or a bubble similar to a Death Knight's Anti-Magic Zone, in which all spells cast are amplified by some small amount. Really, just something different. When you have a spell that nobody uses and nobody wants used, to the point that my Mage is almost always surprised to stumble across it when perusing his spellbook, it may be time for a change. This is a spell that could be removed outright in some future content patch, and the sad truth is that nobody would even notice it's gone.

Mana Shield

Oh dear. See, on paper, this doesn't sound like a bad idea: Mages are magical, right? They chose to learn the ways of magic, sacrificing physical powers in the process. Surely they're likely to have more mana than health. I'm sure they'd all prefer the option to have incoming damage reduce their massive mana pools instead of their meager health, right? Right? Anybody? Bueller?

The problem here is that at endgame, and specifically in PvP, mana is far, far more valuable than health. As long as a Mage has mana, he can keep the enemy at bay. In fact, a common and highly effective anti-Mage strategy employed by opposing players is that of draining a Mage's mana pool. Once you get rid of his ability to cast spells, you can pretty much ignore the Mage, turning instead to killing his teammates.

When a Mage uses this spell to stay alive, he is essentially helping the other team win. He is draining his own usefulness one Mana Shield at a time, and though he may live longer as a result, he will have allowed his enemies to render him effectively impotent.

How to make it better:

This is a pretty common suggestion, and the fact that it actually makes sense is a far more effective testament to the worthlessness of the spell than any I could hope to give: Mana Shield would be 100% better if you could cast it on your enemies. That's not even a joke. It'd make a pretty effective mana drain tool if it was an offensive spell instead of a "defensive" one. I guarantee that If you threw it on a Warlock or a Priest, they'd be pretty ticked off.

Arcane Fortitude

At best, this talent, for three talent points, provides your Mage with about a thousand points of armor. I looked around the talent trees, and I can't find a worse way to spend your talent points. I really can't. This is supposed to be a way to provide notoriously squishy Arcane Mages with some much needed damage mitigation, but a thousand armor points simply isn't worth the effort it takes to click this talent three times during a respec. The sad fact is that if you're a Mage, and you're being hit by the kind of attacks that armor mitigates, you're going to die quickly. This talent isn't going to change that. It might buy you an extra nanosecond or two, but the difference between having it and not having it will be almost unnoticeable. Put your three talent points elsewhere.

How to make it better:

As an idea (granting Mages durability that scales with a core Mage stat), I like this talent. To be practical, though, it needs two things, and they are both absolutely non-negotiable.

First: It can't cost three talent points. For the benefit it provides, that's prohibitive. Two is even probably too much, when you come right down to it. The Arcane tree is already one of the more bloated talent trees in the game. Reducing the cost of a talent nobody takes isn't going to fix that, but it certainly can't hurt.

Second: It has to grant more armor. A lot more. I'm not talking about making us tanks, but at level 80, a thousand armor is a drop in the damage mitigation bucket. The amount granted by the talent needs to be noticeable, and it currently isn't even close. Heck, make the talent convert intellect to resilience instead. The amount granted would have to be far less, of course, but armor simply isn't a stat that helps Mages very much. Adding almost nothing to almost nothing still leaves you with almost nothing.

Icy Veins

Just kidding. This spell is awesome. And don't get me wrong, I love the arsenal we Mages have at our fingertips. We have a book-full of excellent spells, and only a few crappy ones. I'm really just having fun with the three I find most useless. In fact...

...while we're on the subject...

Let me address the many who won't even read these last little paragraphs, and instead will realize instantly that a Mage is saying something negative about something, and will eagerly start typing up a "QQ MOAR" post for the comments section below, or tell me I'm everything that's wrong with, or whatever:

Just stop. Seriously. Go find something worthwhile to get all worked up about.

These spells suck. Your class has spells like this too, and you have fun complaining about them in much the same way I do. Unending Breath? That spell's terrible. Does having it make Warlocks suck? Of course not. Warlocks suck all on their own. Zing!

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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