Cataclysm: Stat and system changes for mages

Christian Belt
C. Belt|03.01.10

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Cataclysm: Stat and system changes for mages
I have to say, there's an awful lot in the just-announced Cataclysm stat and system changes to take in. But if you're anything like me, you're able to cope with that dense heap of information by narrowing your focus to what's really important: what does all this mean for mages?

Here's the short list of specific things we need to be aware of:
  • Stamina - Like all clothies, we'll be seeing a bunch more of it on our gear. The aim is to have our max health be similar to that of plate-wearing classes.
  • Spirit - We won't need it anymore. It'll be a healer-only stat, and we'll be getting our mana regen some other way. In other news, there is a God.
  • Intellect - Now grants spellpower, but will provide less mana than it does now. I assume this is to balance out our mana pools with all that extra intellect we'll be seeing on all our gear.
  • Spellpower - Gone from most gear, the only place we'll now be seing straight-up spellpower that isn't tied directly to intellect will be on weapons, and only to distinguish caster weapons from melee weapons.
  • Haste - Still around.
  • Critical Strike Rating - Still around.
  • MP5 - Gone.
  • Spell Ranks - Gone. Every spell will now have only one rank and will scale with level. The levels at which we learn many of them will change, to fill in the gaps.
  • Mastery - New stat that will be tied directly to your talents. Supposedly, no matter your spec or class, getting more of this will always, always make you better at whatever it is that you're best at. For me, this means getting more mastery will make my mage incrementally better at making fun of warlocks.
  • Existing gear - All of it will change to reflect this new statistical system, but we're being assured that the gear we have now will still be good for us. I have concerns about this, though.
Brief (as brief as you're going to get with me, anyway) analysis after the break.

Deep breath.

So here's what I'm seeing here. Stat-wise, everything should end up being a whole lot simpler. The only stats we'll need to really balance between will be hit rating (I'm assuming it'll remain basically unchanged, though it isn't specifically mentioned), intellect, crit, and haste. I anticipate the following:

  1. All of our gear will have intellect and stamina on it.
  2. Thus, our likely gemming/reforging/enchanting decisions will be between haste, hit, and crit.
  3. I'm assuming that hit caps will work similarly to the way they do now.
  4. I'm not at all worried about the loss of spirit, and you shouldn't be either. When they say we won't miss it, I believe them. Hell, I don't miss it already, and it's still here. If you're concerned about any specific talents or abilities that currently make use of spirit, remember that all of those talents will be completely reworked prior to us losing this stat.
At the same time, there are a whole crapload of things that we still don't know jack about. I'll list but a handful of the unknowns:
  • How much value will mastery have? If it's going to be such a no-brainer, always helpful, all of the time sort of stat, will we find it on all of our gear? Or will it end up being something that makes your eyes light up with greed anytime something drops with mastery on it? I absolutely cannot wait top find out more about this stat.
  • How will we get our mana regen? Or will we even need it? Will combat be balanced around mana conservation? Evocation-style mana return mechanics? Massive mana pools? Lower overall spell costs? Mana potions? No spirit and no MP5...will mana regen be tied to some other stat, like intellect or mastery? The only thing we've been told is that mana regen for non-healing casters will come via "other systems." This intrigues the crap out of me.
  • With the removal of spell ranks, will spells now improve every level? Every other level? How will the scaling work, exactly? This strikes me as a very positive change, overall, and if done right, should simplify the leveling process a great deal.
  • We're really going to have to wait and see how the new intellect balances out our mana pool sizes with our spellpower. Is the aim to keep things about the same as they are now, or will the scale tip one way or the other? Larger mana pools to make mana regen less of an issue? More spellpower through intellect, or about the same?
  • Will more stamina dull the edges of the whole "glass-cannon" distinction? Or not enough to change things much?
  • When existing gear changes, the main thing I'm worried about is the whole "spirit-for-healers-only" change. I don't know about you, but I have a lot of cloth gear with spirit on it. I'm assuming some of that cloth gear will almost have to stay healer-centric to accommodate priests. How will they pick what gear goes healer, and what gear goes DPS, especially when the last expansion homogenized that very same gear so completely?
I'm really, really trying to be brief here. There's just so much to chew on, and this is only the golden, flaky crust of the expansion pie. We're not even down to the delicious rhubarb beneath. Mmmm. Rhubarb pie. Heaven help all of us when details about the reworking they're doing on the talent trees starts trickling out. I'm beginning, more than ever, to feel like Cataclysm represents as near to a full reset button as this persistent world has ever undergone. For better or for worse, everything we know is going to change.

World of Warcraft: Cataclysm will destroy Azeroth as we know it. Nothing will be the same. In's Guide to Cataclysm you can find out everything you need to know about WoW's third expansion. From Goblins and Worgens to Mastery and Guild changes, it's all there for your cataclysmic enjoyment.
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