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Arcane Brilliance: On mage healing and other miscellany

Christian Belt

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Arcane Brilliance for arcane, fire and frost mages. This week, we talk about the concept of mage healing, which in my opinion is like the concept of warlock winning. It simply isn't a phenomena that occurs in nature.

Since those heady, halcyon days of 2004, when mages began to walk to wilds of Azeroth and players were introduced to their glass cannon awesomeness, the topic of mage healing has from time to time emerged, poking its strange and intriguing head up into the mage conversation and usually disappearing just as quickly. The idea has precedence. Healers in Final Fantasy lore are called White Mages. More recently, Dragon Age has its Spirit Mages. Archetypal wizards have had access to magical healing in one form or another throughout fantasy gaming and literature, though rarely is it their strongest focus.

And just lately, the idea has been gaining some unprecedented traction among the WoW mage community. Recently, I've seen the concept presented with consideration and clarity on the official forums, among my own contemporaries in-game, and even right here in the comments section of this very column. It bears thinking about. Though the idea is extremely unlikely to ever be implemented, its increasing popularity and the improving practicality with which its proponents conceptualize it warrant attention. Mage healing, whenever it is brought up, is immediately interesting and always at least a little bit tantalizing, even for its most vehement opponents.

Like me.

So you understand my views from the outset, let me say this:


Mages should never become healers

I believe this with every fiber of me, and I'll be happy to explain why, although I suspect that in your magely heart of hearts, you already know.

The most common proposal for mage healing these days seems to be some variation of the following: The arcane tree is boring to play, and mages don't need three separate specs that perform the exact same function anyway. Fire's our pure DPS tree, and frost is our top PVP tree, so where does the arcane tree fit in? It was a support tree back in the days when you could mix talent trees, but now all it seems to be good for is occasionally swapping places with fire on the raid DPS hierarchy.

So let's make arcane the healing tree. Thematically, it could work. You make the healing spells time-based, add in some mana return and increase talents, sprinkle in enough utility spells to make the spec competitive with other healing specs, and voila, you have a mage healer. Mages who are sick of the long queue times that come with being a pure DPS class can dual spec into the healing role, the class gets a long-overdue facelift, the game gets a fresh infusion of new healers, and everybody's happy.

The idea's definitely intriguing, no? And I'd be lying if I said I didn't catch myself mulling it over just a little every time I see somebody present a cogent argument for mage healing. But when I'm done toying with it in my head, I always come to the same mental barrier: Mages, for all of our awesomeness, are just not healers.

The whole idea, for me, just carries with it an inherent, implacable sense of wrongness that I simply can't ignore. If I wanted to be a healer, I'd be a priest, a druid, a paladin, a shaman, or that apparently unkillable death knight I fought the other day in Tol Barad who I seems to have been able to heal himself by punching me in the face. Or maybe I'd just roll a warlock so I could run around draining my opponents' health like a douchebag. But I most certainly would not roll a mage, because mages are for blowing things up, not for putting things back together.

It's as simple as that, really. Not every class needs to be a hybrid. We already have four perfectly good healer archetypes in the game. The mage archetype has been clearly defined from the start. We are the glass cannons. We are the first foe you want to kill because we will absolutely eff you up if you let us live. We are DPS.

If you want a healer, look elsewhere.

Let's talk about a few other random things.

mage tier 13 helm
I cannot unsee the chicken head

Thanks guys, really. Now that so many of you have pointed out the fact that our new tier 13 helm looks like the head of a chicken, one where we're looking out through its gaping beak and presumably exhorting passersby to eat at a nearby chicken restaurant, I can't stop seeing the chicken head. Damn you. I really liked that tier set.

I will now spend the remaining time before patch 4.3 comes out trying to train my eyes to look past the chicken head and see only the sweet steampunk parts of the set that I loved, so that when I finally get my hands on that gear I'll feel like I look like a kickass, time-traveling techno-wizard instead of a guy handing out flyers in front of Los Pollos Hermanos.

All you'd need to do is swap the color palette, Blizzard. Some nice blues and blacks, maybe. Just saying.

There's a new trinket you should probably snatch up

Brewfest is going on, I've heard tell, and since I have space left, I figured I ought to just point out that there's a fairly nice caster DPS trinket available in the loot table of one Coren Direbrew. It's not the best trinket out there, to be sure (all that crit is nice, I guess, but I want trinkets with intellect, thank you very much), but it's not the worst either, and it's so easy to get. If you have been itching for a quick stand-in for one of your trinket slots, you could do a lot worse than grabbing up the new and improved Mithril Stopwatch before it goes away again.

It's quite literally the only piece of loot he drops for mages, so get in, get your trinket, and get on with your lives.

I'm out of things to say this week, but feel free to post your own thoughts on mage healing or anything else mage-related in the comments below. I'm against mage healing. But that doesn't mean I don't still have a good time considering the possibilities. Am I wrong? How wrong am I? Or ... could I be right? No. Probably not.

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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