This time around, we'll be going over all of the spec-specific abilities. Depending upon which specialization you select at level 10, you'll begin picking up a few unique spells along the way in addition to those that every mage learns. These will be the abilities that give your spec its flavor.
Fire mage abilities
Level 10: Fireball As we go through these, you'll notice a bit of uniformity at each level. 10 is where all three specs get their primary nuke. For fire mages, it's going to be Fireball. The spell works the same as it always has, only now you won't see anybody but fire mages using it.
Level 12: Pyroblast Just two levels later, fire mages get the second main spell in their rotations, the devastating Pyroblast. Since Hot Streak appears to be going the way of the dodo in this expansion, a version of its functionality is being rolled into the Pyroblast spell itself. Any crits you get from any of your direct damage spells will now have a chance to trigger an instant, mana-free Pyroblast. What that chance will be is anyone's guess.
Level 54: Inferno Blast Now this is ostensibly a new ability, though again, it seems to be more a conglomeration of lost talents than something entirely new. It'll be a souped-up version of Fire Blast, replacing that spell in the fire mage spellbook. It essentially combines Fire Blast with Impact, spreading your DoTs to other nearby targets and adding a 2-second stun.
Level 62: Combustion This sounds more like a conventional DoT effect now, doing substantial initial damage instantly, then providing additional damage over the next 10 seconds. That DoT's damage will apparently be based upon the fire damage effects already on the target, which will potentially be Pyroblast, Living Bomb, Ignite, and maybe Flame Orb. The spell works on a 45-second cooldown, so it should be up far more often than it is currently.
Level 77: Flame Orb Each spec will get their own orb spell in MoP, but fire's version is basically the same as it is now, only with the explosion effect of Fire Power rolled into the spell.
Level 80: Mastery: Ignite Level 80 is when each spec will get its mastery ability. In fire's case, it's Ignite. It will function pretty much as it does now, with one key difference: You no longer need to crit with your spells to trigger the effect. Holy crap. That's right, any direct damage fire spells you land on an enemy will trigger Ignite, causing your target to burn for 40% of the spell's damage over the next 4 seconds. So unless I'm missing something here, once you hit level 80, you will have Ignite up on your target pretty much constantly.
That means a lot of things. It means more consistent damage. It means less reliance on crits. It means Combustion will work better more often. It means you can be less selective about when you choose to spread your DoTs with Inferno Blast, because Ignite will almost always be up.
What has been our major complaint with fire throughout this expansion? Too streaky. Too reliant on chance. Too much dependance on RNG. I believe this new version of Ignite will go a long way toward normalizing fire's damage. The streaky nature of the spec will still be there with Pyroblast and perhaps in waiting for the perfect Ignite to trigger Combustion, but everything else should work more often, be more reliable, and do more consistent damage.
Arcane mage abilities
Level 10: Arcane Blast Some key changes to arcane's major nuke here. Arcane Blast's stacking buff will now apply to all arcane spells, and the buff will now be dispelled only by Arcane Barrage. This should solve arcane's major problem: Arcane Blast spam. With both Arcane Missiles and Arcane Barrage having meaningful spots in the rotation, we go from one-button boringsauce to a solid three-spell stew. Mmmm ... tasty. One other nice change: The range of Arcane Blast is going up to 40 yards, bringing it in line with the other specs' primary nukes.
Level 12: Arcane Barrage And just two levels later, arcane mages will get the second part of their three-spell rotations. It'll still look awesome, only now it'll be viable.
Level 54: Arcane Missiles OK, I'm incredibly curious about how this will end up working. No mention is made of how the spell will be triggered. Does that mean we will be able to chain cast it? No mana cost and low damage means this spell will likely be used as a mana management spell, though it will probably be a decent damage option at full Arcane Blast stacks. I envision a mana conservation rotation of Arcane Blast to four stacks, then alternating Arcane Missiles and Arcane Blast until mana reaches a burn threshold. Missile Barrage's speedy missiles effect will be rolled into this spell, which is how it should be.
Level 62: Arcane Power This is relatively unchanged, only it will come standard with a 90-second cooldown.
Level 77: Arcane Orb The difference between this orb spell and those for fire and frost is that arcane's orb will damage all nearby targets over the course of its travels, not just the closest one. Other than that, it functions similarly to Flame Orb, but in what I assume will be a much more blueish hue.
Level 80: Mastery: Mana Adept No differences here. Arcane mages will still be playing the mana management meta-game in MoP, but this time around they'll have a few more spells woven into the rotation a bit more often.
Frost mage abilities
Level 10: Frostbolt the only real change hear appears to be a buff to Frostbolt's snare effect, which will go from 40% to 50%.
Level 12: Summon Water Elemental Instead of a second damage spell, frost mages get their big blue buddy. So we don't get lonely.
Level 54: Brain Freeze So Fireballs for frost mages are no more. Brain Freeze now only grants an instant, mana-free Frostfire Bolt, giving that spell its one and only place in our endgame rotations. It'll trigger more often, too, as it no longer is tied to chilling effects, just any direct damage spell.
Level 62: Icy Veins Unchanged. The cooldown on this needs to drop, though.
Level 77: Frost Orb Frost's flavor of orb spell is Flame Orb with one significant wrinkle: a snare effect. It slows its targets by 40% for 2 seconds, refreshing (I assume) every second while Frost Orb is still targeting them.
Level 80: Mastery: Frostburn This is unchanged. It passively increases the damage of all of your spells against frozen targets by 5%. Now we just need a replacement for Fingers of Frost so that we'll have a few more frozen targets to do extra damage to and we'll be good.
Next week, I intend to tackle the actual talents -- all 18 of them -- and how they've changed since we talked about them lo those many weeks ago after BlizzCon. If you want to peruse a perfectly fantastic list of our new abilities compiled together in a level flow chart, I'd direct you to reader Shade's fantastic blog post here. It's a pretty impressive piece of work, and I'm thankful he pointed me toward it, so I'll do the same for you guys.
How do we feel about our spec abilities, mages? I think I'd describe my own state of mind as "mildly encouraged." Or maybe "caffeine-addled." Probably an unhealthy combination of both.
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.