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Arcane Brilliance: Patch 3.3 PTR changes for mages

Christian Belt

It's the weekend, and that means it's time for another edition of Arcane Brilliance, the weekly mage column where the boys are boys, the girls are girls, and the warlocks are smoking husks that only vaguely resemble the humanoid shapes they once assumed.

We're taking a small break this week from our ongoing leveling guide parade. There are some things we need to discuss, you and me. We need to have a talk. Don't worry! It's nothing bad! We're getting a pretty sweet buff, actually. Well, arcane mages are, anyway. We just wanted to discuss it with you, that's all. Oh, we're sorry! Did you think Arcane Brilliance was breaking up with you or something? No, we'd never do that! Arcane Brilliance still thinks you're sexy.

See, it's this whole patch 3.3 thing that's happening right now. It's got Arcane Brilliance all hot and bothered. The other columns are too busy to talk to Arcane Brilliance about it. Totem Talk is all excited about "new totems" or some other such nonsense, Lichborne is too busy being overpowered, and Bood Pact... well, you didn't hear it from me but Blood Pact is written by a warlock. I know! Right here at this otherwise reputable website! Also, Blood Pact smells funny. I think it's a gland problem. It's very embarrassing. I shouldn't be telling you this. And Blood Pact drinks its own pee. Okay. That's enough. I'm done now. I've said too much. Keep this to yourself, all right? Loose lips sink ships and all that.

Jump on past the break and we'll discuss the patch 3.3 changes for mages.

Let's begin with the biggie:


So what does this do for us, aside from pointing out that all of Arcane's offensive spells have the word "Arcane" in their names? Creative, Blizzard.

This change will finally provide Arcane with actual, honest-to-goodness raid utility. This is essentially the same buff that Beast Mastery hunters and Retribution paladins bring, but just like Arcane mages, those specs have relatively low raid representation. More often than not, we'll be providing a buff the raid might not otherwise have access to.

The buff itself is a flat 3% damage increase for the entire raid. It lasts ten seconds, and refreshes every time you crit with one of your damage-dealing spells. Arcane mages aren't Fire mages, but we still crit with a respectable amount of frequency. This buff should be up pretty much constantly, as long as we're alive and casting.

Couple this with the sizable DPS buff we're currently enjoying thanks to patch 3.2.2, and Arcane is in a very good place right now. We're competitive with the other two top DPS specs (Fire and Frostfire), have a lot more gem/enchant/gear flexibility thanks to our lower effective hit cap, and now bring this pretty spectacular raid-wide buff to the table. Plus we're just plain fun to play. It's good to be an Arcane mage. For the next five minutes until they nerf us again.

The other changes aren't nearly as significant, but are worth mentioning.

  • Avoidance (passive): Now reduces the damage your pets take from area-of-effect damage by 90%, but no longer applies to area-of-effect damage caused by other players.
This is minor but welcome change for Frost mages in PvE. Other classes with pets are getting the same change. No longer do we have to worry about unleashing our water elemental on a boss, only to immediately have our eyes fill with frozen tears as we watch our big blue buddy get one-shotted by some massive AoE splash. Granted, it's only a 10% buff, but it's still going to help a ton. Now if only we could get a bit more PvE DPS, we'd be happy Frost mage raiders.

On the other hand, this change sucks. Why? Because the majority of Frost mages don't spec Frost for it's raid viability anyway. We spec Frost because it's purely and simply the best PvP mage spec. And this, my friends, is a clear PvP nerf.

No really, it's cool guys. You don't need to actually target my water elemental to kill him! Just kill him with splash damage while you kill me at the same time! It's fun, convenient, and you'll be home in time to watch Fringe. Avoidance no longer applies to PvP damage. Whee. The good news? The same nerf also goes for hunter pets, and best of all, warlock pets. At least we can Arcane Explosion that felpuppy to death now. We're not alone in our pet fragility.

  • Flamestrike: Some ranks of this spell had an incorrect cast time of 3 seconds. All ranks now share a 2-second cast time.
This is cool, because the ranks that had a 3 second cast time were the higher ones. It's a bug fix, mainly, but a good one. Nobody likes a spell that takes longer to cast the higher level you are.

The other changes all share the same theme: lower mana costs for spells at lower levels. The official patch notes read like this:
  • Spell Mana Costs: These costs have been reduced for almost all lower level spell ranks. In general, if a spell decreased in cost with a higher level rank in patch 3.2.0, that spell now has the decreased cost at all ranks. In addition, spells learned before level 20 with reduced cast times and/or durations have even further reduced mana costs, proportionate to their reduction in cast time or damage.
Here are the details for mages:
  • Conjure Water, Amplify Magic, Arcane Missiles, Arcane Explosion, Conjure Food, Dampen Magic, Mana Shield, Conjure Mana Gem, Mage Armor, Arcane Brilliance, Arcane Intellect had the mana cost of their lower ranks reduced.
  • Fireball, Pyroblast, Blast Wave, Scorch, Dragon's Breath, Fire Ward had the mana cost of their lower ranks reduced.
  • Ice Barrier, Frostbolt, Blizzard, Ice Armor, Cone of Cold, Frost Ward had the mana cost of their lower ranks reduced.
So basically, if it's a spell, and you cast it, and it costs mana, and you're level 1-20ish, your spell will now cost slightly less mana. For example, let's look at Fireball. Rank 1 currently costs 23% of your base mana. At level 70, when you get rank 14 of Fireball, it starts costing 19% of your base mana to cast. After the patch, all ranks will cost 19% of your base mana. The same goes for all of our other spells that behave the same way, costing us a smaller percentage of our mana pool at level 80 than they do at level 1. They'll all be uniform now, costing the same at all ranks.

This will be helpful for all of us who will be running out on day one of Cataclysm and rolling a Worgen or Goblin mage. Don't scoff. You know you'll be doing it too. You think we don't see all those doodles of lycanthropic wizards you keep drawing on your trapper keeper at school? We totally do.

One other random change I like from the patch notes, though it isn't specific to mages:

  • Black Magic: This enchantment now sometimes increases haste rating for the caster rather than inflicting the caster's target with a damage-over-time effect. It is also now triggered by landing any harmful spell rather than inflicting damage with a spell.
It actually increases your haste by 250, which is a good solid number. Depending on how often it procs, this could be a pretty competitive DPS alternative to the static spellpower enchant for mages. Especially Arcane Mages, for whom haste is valued higher than it is for the other specs. If it procs with enough frequency, that haste could be pretty spectacular. If it doesn't proc often enough, this is yet another enchant we won't be taking over the spellpower ones. We'll have to wait and see how the number crunching pans out. I'm just excited about the possibility of a new weapon enchant option. It's certainly better than some crappy DoT effect.

This is still the very earliest version of patch notes for a patch that will probably be on the PTRs for a very long time, so we'll have to wait and see how everything pans out over time. I'm hoping for more exciting changes to come. Though the focus of this patch looks to be Icecrown Citadel, and not class changes, I'm still stoked to see what the rest of the testing process holds for us. If there's a major change, you'll see it in this space.

The next few weeks will bring more installments of the leveling guide, so keep us bookmarked if there's a lowbie mage anywhere in your future. Even if there isn't, stop by anyway. Come for the patch note updates, stay for the gratuitous warlock-bashing.

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 ongoing series of mage leveling guides. Until next week, keep the Mage-train a-rollin'.

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