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Arcane Brilliance: Mage wishlist, late 2011 edition

Christian Belt

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Arcane Brilliance for arcane, fire and frost mages. And by "every week," I of course mean "every week when I'm home, have access to the internet, and do not find my time entirely monopolized by my day job." Which, as you may or may not have noticed, did not include last week.

We have some things to discuss today, most notably the recently posted mage class feedback thread on the official forums. It's always interesting to see how mages respond when given an actual, legitimate forum to air their grievances with the promise of actually being heard by the developers in charge of designing our class. I have some thoughts, and if you'll indulge me, I'd like to share them with you.

But let me get this out of the way first and foremost: I love the tier 13 mage set. That's it up there in the picture. So steampunk, but in a good way. I love the goggles, the quilted armor, the gnomishness of it. I can tell you right now that I'll be transmogrifying back to this set for many tiers to come.

If you haven't checked it out yet, I suggest you visit the official site and take a look at that mage tier 13 preview and visual retrospective. It's really kind of cool to see all of our past tier sets in one place, though I have to feel bad for the poor lone Undead mage in his tier 9 gear, surrounded by all of those Humans. I can feel the racial tension from here.

mage tier sets
See? That right there is a recipe for trouble. Frost Nova and Blink, Undead mage! Frost Nova and Blink! Oh wait ... they can do that, too.

Anyway, reading through the already massive mage feedback thread has inspired me to add my own two cents, in the form of a column. I'd like to think at least some of the developers peruse this column from time to time, then turn away, shaking their heads sadly, lamenting the time they wasted perusing it.

Overall, I feel like the mage class is in a relatively good place right now. We have three raid-viable specs, one still-dominant PVP spec, and each spec features a distinctive and (depending on personal taste) fun playstyle. We have a legendary staff to strive for. We have the ability to kill warlocks in a reasonably fair fight whenever the opportunity arises. Also, we are still mages, and we can still hurl Pyroblasts, summon Blizzards, and conjure tasty baked goods with a waggle of our wizardly wands. You can take the mage out of Awesometown, but you can't take the Awesometown out of the mage, is what I always say.

Still, as so very many of you have pointed out in mostly reasonable, non-whiny tones over in the class feedback thread, there is always room for improvement. Below you'll find my short list of concerns, wishes, and fond dreams for the mage class, handily organized by spec.

Arcane issues

Arcane Barrage A once-proud spell is currently pretty useless and has been for some time. It has no place in arcane's rotation and serves only as a filler spell during movement phases and as an emergency mana conservation reset for Arcane Blast, used with ridiculous infrequency and at the cost of DPS. It has gone from a spell you relished using to a spell you only use when you must, and even then with regret. It is the specialization spell for an entire spec. It deserves better.

Rotation While I personally enjoy the Mana Adept meta-game, arcane's rotation is admittedly monotone. I think we'd all like to see a teensy bit more variety here. Arcane Blast spam with the occasional Arcane Missiles thrown in as a stack reset is just too simplistic for a major spec rotation. The solution, I think, lies with Arcane Barrage. Make it an interesting and dynamic part of the rotation again, and you tweak things enough to make the rotation intriguing again. And while we're talking about this, I want to see that whole moving Arcane Missiles thing you teased us with as a tier 12 bonus needs to be a baseline mobility addition for arcane. It's needed and would be incredibly fun.

Fire issues

RNG I've mentioned this several times before now and will continue to bring it up until it becomes less of a glaring issue. In a game where your ability to consistently produce numbers dictates your usefulness as a DPS raider, any spec where your numbers can vary so drastically from fight to fight based purely upon your luck with random number generation is an unacceptable liability. Fire has been far too dependent on stringing together good dice rolls for too long.

Single-target DPS Fire has by far the best multi-target rotation among mages but has fallen behind when fighting a lone boss. I'd like to see the AOE stay fun and powerful but perhaps some single-target functionality get added to some of the many, many AOE talents in the tree. I don't need fire to be dominant again, just competitive. It's such a well-designed spec, from the top of the tree to its roots; it's sad indeed to see it fall into such disuse.

Frost issues

DPS Period. Higher DPS needs to happen across the board for this spec. It's close now, and raid-viable in the right hands, but arcane is too often better, even in the wrong hands. The spec has such a fun, priority-based rotation that it's just a shame to see it shut out of most high-level raids. Just a bit of DPS tweaking could change all of that and need not upset the PVP apple cart if done right. A return to power for the PVE-only damage component of Deep Freeze would be a good place to start.

Water Elemental This is one of the defining aspects of the spec, but too often now it's necessary to simply place our big blue buddies on passive and macro their attacks into our own. Allowing them to operate on their own almost always ends in tragedy, complete with big, blue tears. Better AI scripts are imperative, as are easier ways to control the dummy on the fly when need be. Oh, and can we please just have the option to rename our elementals again? Only this time, without having to trick the game into allowing us to do it.

Random desires
  • Portals to more places. I'm trying and failing to come up with a justification for this that doesn't stink of greed. I just want more. Badly.
  • Mage armor duration should just be forever. Having to recast these makes no sense anymore. There's simply no valid argument against this.
  • Evocation while moving. I want to be able to channel this on the go. Standing still and waiting for mana is the opposite of a good time.
  • I want Mana Gems to stack to more than three. Preferably, I want them to just be infinite. No charges. Just a cooldown. I don't care if they have to keep taking up a spot in my inventory, but having to recast them between every fight is just an unnecessary quality-of-life inconvenience that belongs in the past.
  • A return to relevance for Frostfire Bolt. Such a pretty spell, almost entirely wasted.
To reiterate: I'm happy with where mages are right now. I have been for some time. Pretty much the moment after Wrath hit, when we went from warlock-fodder to the bane of warlocks everywhere, I became the happiest little mage you ever did see. Overall, I firmly believe we have little to complain about. But with only a few relatively minor adjustments, I can see something startlingly close to perfection emerging as far as this wonderful class is concerned. And if there's anything the world needs, it's the perfect mage. Oh, and a lot more dead warlocks. Courtesy of the perfect mage.

Ah ... perfection.

Every week, Arcane Brilliance teleports you inside the wonderful world of mages and then hurls a Fireball in your face. Start out with our recent beginner's guide to being a mage, then check out our three-part State of the Mage columns on arcane, fire and frost. Don't forget to look at some of the addons your mage should probably be using.

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