Arcane Brilliance: Things I love most about my mage in patch 5.0.4 (so far)

Christian Belt
C. Belt|09.01.12

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Arcane Brilliance: Things I love most about my mage in patch 5.0.4 (so far)
Arcane Barrage
Every week, WoW Insider brings you Arcane Brilliance for arcane, fire and frost mages. This week, I'm taking a few precious moments that I'd otherwise be devoting to farming Tol Barad commendations so I can buy my Fox Kit to hammer out an ode to all the things I'm loving right now about patch 5.0.4. I hope you people appreciate my sacrifice. Seriously, guys. There are literally thousands of warlocks who are only still alive right now because the time I spend writing these columns is time I'm not spending killing warlocks.

There was a point on Tuesday night, while trying out my new rotations in the LFR against Ultraxion (several times, thanks to a long string of tanks who apparently have never used a taunt before), where I fully realized that my arcane mage had Living Bomb. I mean, I knew about it, had tried it out on the beta, but had never raided with it and actually inserted it into my rotation. So there I am, blasting away with my arcane mage and his new decidedly-more-than-one-button rotation, and I see that Living Bomb button on my action bar, and I press it, and then a few seconds later it explodes and I refresh it, and what's this? Am I crying? Yes ... yes, I'm crying like a child while I blow up that giant dragon.

So I'm happy with patch 5.0.4. I know not everybody is. Most of the complaints seem to revolve around the new talent system, which we'll get to in a minute. But me? I am completely on board. I have my quibbles. (Why do my Mana Gems vanish after logout again? I thought we fixed that annoyance a few patches ago.) But any minor issues I notice quickly drown in the massive wake of all the happy. And there is a lot of happy.

Arcane has an actual rotation now

And it's a pretty good one. All three main spells have an integral place within that rotation. You can easily shift the rotation on the fly to favor more damage at the expanse of mana, or go more conservative when the need arises. The mana management metagame is a genuinely interesting mechanic now, as opposed to a highly annoying hoop you have to jump through.

But most importantly, I get to use Arcane Barrage on a regular basis and not feel bad about it, and not only is it a needed part of my DPS rotation, it looks even more awesome than it ever did. And that's no mean feat -- Arcane Barrage has never not looked awesome. Seriously, if you haven't yet had the opportunity -- nay, the privilege -- of casting it with a full stack of six Arcane Charges at a group of enemies and seen the sparkleplosion of delight that erupts from your mage's splayed fingers ... stop reading this and go do it. Now.

I stuck with arcane through all the one-button nonsense, even defended the "rotation" in this column on a couple occasions when it was not a rotation that had any business being defended by anybody, and now, to see the rotation become a thing I actually like is truly gratifying. You don't have to apologize for arcane anymore. It is actually a fun, well-designed spec.

Frost is viable in PVE

And while we're on the subject of things you no longer have to apologize for, we have to talk about frost. In my opinion -- and I know I'm not alone in this -- frost has long been the most interesting, least effective PVE spec in the game. Unlike arcane, frost has always had an engaging rotation, but has for a depressingly long time lacked the numbers to be competitive.

And now, finally, legitimately, frost is no longer that spec. The numbers are there. If you've been a closeted frost mage, it's time to step back into that closet, brush away the cobwebs, shake off the dust, and take your frost spec out for dinner and dancing. And by that I mean dragon-slaying.

AOE looting puts the laughter back in slaughter

I'm not even kidding, you guys. One of the things I'd been doing in the lull before the patch was going back and farming Cenarion Circle rep for the Stealth enchant so I could put it on my future pandaren monk's heirloom cloak. I was making heroic Coilfang Reservoir runs, and since I am physically incapable of not looting after a kill, those runs were taking far longer than they needed to.

Cut to the day after the patch. I pull half the damn instance at once, Arcane Explosion them into the nether, click loot once, and fill my bags. I wept like a little girl.

If you haven't tried this yet, what are you waiting for?

Porcupines are cute

I understand that our minor glyphs are useless. Not a single one of them will make any damn difference in a fight. You could maybe make an argument for Momentum, if it worked properly, like, ever.

Here's the thing, though: I don't care. I like that minor glyphs are strictly for fun. I love my Polymorph: Porcupine spell, and I love that I can now turn the critters around Org into Porcupines and they will stay that way until some jerk comes by and kills them. And I like the ability to run super fast after I port into an indoor location like Dalaran. And the ability to turn my undead male into a troll female for a couple minutes. And I like my tiny elemental familiars.

Seriously, though, if you see my porcupines wandering around Org, and you kill them: you, sir, are a bad person. I just want you to know that.

The ease and freedom of the new talent and glyph system is worth defending

I heard the following exchange yesterday in raid chat:

"They took all my talents away. Why even have talents at this point?"

"Which talents do you miss, specifically?"

(After a substantial pause) "That's not the point."

I understand the misgivings. I do. We went from having dozens of talents to having 18. With very few exceptions, though, we haven't really lost anything. Almost everything that was previously a talent is now either rolled into a baseline spell or specialization or replaced by something equivalent. We still have pretty much everything we had before, but now with added freedom.

Think about it: how much choice did you actually have in the previous system? You had two choices, when it came right down to it:
  1. Spec and glyph the way Elitist Jerks told you to, or
  2. do it wrong.
Now I understand that looking at the new talents, none of them jump out and scream "I will make you awesomer!" But that's what makes them great. All of them do something useful, but none of them are substantially more useful than the others. I love Cauterize. But if I take Greater Invisibility instead, there is not one damn person on God's green Earth who can tell me I chose incorrectly.

That's freedom. Argue that none of our major glyphs are exciting all you want, but at least I can pick the one I want without crippling my DPS. Before the patch, I had maybe a couple floating talent points out of dozens. I had access to dozens of glyphs, but I was really only choosing from a pool of four or five viable ones.

Now I have 18 viable talent choices and I can take whatever three major glyphs I damn well want. And it's incredibly easy and convenient to switch between those talents and glyphs when the need arises. Just know that whoever that guy is that's complaining in the trade channel right now on your realm about the new talent system, it isn't me.

So what do you guys love? And what don't you love? For reference, the answer to the first question should be "killing warlocks," and the answer to the second question should be "not killing warlocks."

Every week, Arcane Brilliance teleports you inside the wonderful world of mages and then hurls a Fireball in your face. We have you covered for Mists of Pandaria info, including our recent mage talent spec guide, and our guide to glyphs. And be sure to check out our list of reasons to still love our mages after all these years.

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