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Arcane Brilliance: Mage glyphs in Mists of Pandaria

Josh Myers

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Arcane Brilliance for arcane, fire and frost mages -- unless, of course, Christian Belt is sucked into an timeway and is currently stuck fleeing from pterosaurs in the late Mesozoic era, allowing Josh Myers to claim his column. I won't say that's what happened this week, but don't rule it out.

The last time someone who wasn't the most Illustrious Archmage Christian Belt wrote an Arcane Brilliance, things didn't go over well. Part of that might be because it was written by that shady Tyler Caraway character, and part of it was because he secretly was a warlock disguised as a mage. I'm a DPS shaman posing as a mage, but I've got two things on my side: I raided progression as a mage through the latter half of tier 12 and the first half of tier 13, and I'm not a warlock. I'm not going to pretend I'm Archmage Pants, but I'm no squib either. Maybe Senior Understudy or Last Surviving Apprentice Josh Myers?

In totally exciting news, Mists of Pandaria's beta has opened up, much to the chagrin of my social life and my exercise routine. On Wednesday night, Boubouille from MMO-Champion set out to datamine as much information as he could glean from the install files, and thanks to his work, we were able to get our hands on a nice list of the updated glyphs currently in the beta. Spoiler alert: They're pretty awesome.

First thing to know before going into any analysis of the glyphs is that prime glyphs have been totally removed from the game. We're not going to see any more incredibly boring percentage-to-damage increases from glyphs; those are all either removed or baked into the base damage of abilities now. Glyphs now work to either change your playstyle and usage of an ability entirely or to provide cool cosmetic effects. Case in point is the Glyph of Crittermorph, which allows your Polymorph to last for 24 hours and to be cast on multiple targets, provided it's cast on critters. No real game benefit, but fun when you want to make every cow in Elwynn Forest look like a black cat.

Live version of mage glyphs
I don't actually know which glyphs are majors and which glyphs are minors yet, but I'm going to group them by what I'd imagine they'll be. Major glyphs should provide an impact on your gameplay (higher DPS, more survivability, etc.), while minors exist to make you look cool.

Potential major glyphs

Armor spells are being changed in MoP. They all now have 3-second cast times, a passive stat buff, and a defensive effect. Mage Armor, for example, gives you 5 mastery and reduces the duration of harmful spell effects on you by 35%. With this glyph (I'm going to assume the cast time reduction is actually 1.5 seconds), armor swapping will be more feasible and your defenses will be more potent, allowing you to more effectively react and counter your opponent. This is definitely a PVP glyph.
Much like armors, Combustion has seen a total overhaul in MoP. Now on a 45-second cooldown, it does damage based on your active Pyroblast, Ignite, and Flamestrike effects on the target, plus some base damage. It still lasts for 10 seconds. This glyph would make it last 20 seconds (and do twice as much damage as a result), but have a minute-and-a-half cooldown. Since Combustion is still spread through the new fire spell Inferno Blast, I have a feeling this glyph will see the most use during a fight like heroic Yor'sahj, where you might need the burst AoE DPS offered by a 20-second Combustion. For single-target damage, I see it as an unlikely choice; the RNG nature of Combustion needing Pyroblast and a beefy Ignite on the target does not favor a longer cooldown.
  • Glyph of Evocation Your Evocation ability also causes you to regain 60% of your health over its duration. With the Invocation talent, this healing is reduced to 30% of your health. With the Rune of Power talent, you gain 1% of your health per second while standing in your Rune of Power.
A modified Glyph of Evocation, which currently allows you to gain health from your Evocate, this glyph will be your main source of self-healing. The halved healing when specced into Invocation makes sense, as Evocation has no cooldown when you are specced for Invocation. The Rune of Power effect is nice for standstill fights as a passive HoT that should almost always be on you.

A mage evocating
I'm going to speak of these two talents together, as I think they work to serve a similar purpose. As most people who tried frost PvE in Cataclysm know, frost's weakness has been cleave and AoE all expansion. Since frost will have access to Living Bomb in MoP, I personally wonder if this is a way to help out frost's cleave damage, allowing you to keep LB up on three targets through Fire Blast and spam Ice Lance for cleave damage. Glyph of Fire Blast will also be a needed glyph for AoE fights for fire, as Living Bomb cannot be spread otherwise.
Icy Veins has a 3-minute cooldown and a 20-second duration in MoP, and this talent will make those times 1.5 minutes and 10 seconds, respectively. I can see this being useful if you have an on-use trinket that would sync up every 1.5 minutes or if you're in a fight like heroic Spine of Deathwing where you frequently need to have good burst damage. I can also see this as a particularly strong PvP glyph, allowing you to try and CC a healer and burst the DPS down once every minute and a half.
There's not much to say about this other than that it's a beautiful and long-awaited quality of life change.
  • Glyph of Water Elemental (not currently in Wowhead databases) Increases the health of your Water Elemental by 40% and allows it to cast while moving.
For frost mages, Frosty the snow elemental is a major part of your damage, whether it's sustained PvE DPS or burst PvP damage, and every frost mage has seen his Water Elemental cut his spell cast short to move after an opponent who ran away. This glyph will allow Frosty to always keep his DPS face on and give him some added survivability on top. I see no downside, currently!

Potential minor glyphs
  • Glyph of Crittermorph When cast on critters, your Polymorph spells now last 24 hours and can be cast on multiple targets.
I think this is actually a conscious effort by Blizzard to save the lives of critters everywhere. Knowing we can't resist smacking them in the face with a spell when we see them, Blizzard gave us an amusing spell to use on critters that wouldn't result in the sad sounds of squirrels dying.
I'm sure there's a strategic benefit to this glyph, and when I figure out what it is I'll let you know. Maybe Archmage Pants will have the answer. This is why I'm only an understudy!
  • Glyph of Momentum Your Blink spell teleports you in the direction you are moving instead of the direction you are facing.
Gnome mage looking crazy in front of cliffs
Ah, the beauty of the new physics engine coming in Mists of Pandaria. For everyone who has spun-jump to cast a spell and then accidently blinked toward your opponent, this spell will allow your momentum to carry you through your teleport and get you to where you actually want to go. Isn't science fun?
I don't think I'll ever leave my new farm without this glyph ever again. Too many times have I wasted a 5-minute cooldown by having someone click the ritual and move. Never again.

All in all, the new glyph choices are cool and definitely more exciting than "Increases the critical strike chance of your Frostbolt by 5%," though they're also all subject to change. And that's not all the salivation-worthy things that have been released this week. We also have awesome new enchants, mega damage, and even those pesky warlocks are finally doing something useful and learning to tank. Seriously.

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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