I’m a little late to the game, but here’s the Mage preview. Looks like they’re stealing from the Twilight gang and the shammies this go round.
In World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, we’ll be making lots of changes and additions to class talents and abilities across the board. In this preview, you’ll get an early look at what’s in store for the mage class, including a rundown of some of the new spells, abilities, and talents, and an overview of how the new Mastery system will work with the different talent specs.
New Mage Spells
Flame Orb (available at level 81): Inspired by Prince Taldaram’s abilities in Ahn’kahet and Icecrown Citadel, this spell allows the mage to cast a flaming orb that travels in front in a straight line, sending beams that cause fire damage to passing targets. Once it’s cast, the mage is free to begin casting other spells as the Flame Orb travels. While the spell will be useful to any spec, Fire mages will have talents that improve it, possibly causing the Flame Orb to explode when it reaches its destination.
Time Warp (level 83): Grants a passive Haste effect much like Bloodlust or Heroism to party or raid members. It also temporarily increases the mage’s own movement speed. Time Warp will be exclusive with Bloodlust and Heroism, meaning you can’t benefit from both if you’ve got the Exhaustion debuff, though the movement-speed increase will still work even when under the effects of Exhaustion.
Wall of Fog (level 85): Creates a line of frost in front of the mage, 30 yards from end to end. Enemies who cross the line are snared and take damage. The mana cost will be designed to make Wall of Fog efficient against groups, not individuals. This spell is intended to give mages a way to help control the battlefield, whether the mage is damaging incoming enemies (Blizzard can be channeled on top of Wall of Fog) or protecting a flag in a Battleground. 10-second duration. 30-second cooldown.
Changes to Abilities and Mechanics
In addition to introducing new spells, we’re planning to make changes to some of the other abilities and mechanics you’re familiar with. This list and the summary of talent changes below it are by no means comprehensive, but they should give you a good sense of what we intend for each spec.
- Arcane Missiles is being redesigned to become a proc-based spell. Whenever the mage does damage with any spell, there is a chance for Arcane Missiles to become available, similar to how the warrior’s Overpower works. The damage and mana cost of this spell will be reworked to make it very desirable to use when available. This change should make gameplay more dynamic for the mage, particularly at low levels.
- We are planning to remove spells that don’t have a clear purpose. Amplify Magic, Dampen Magic, Fire Ward, and Frost Ward are being removed from the game, and we may remove more.
- The ability to conjure food and water will not become available until higher levels (likely around level 40), as we’re making changes to ensure mages generally won’t run out of mana at lower levels. Once mages learn how to conjure food and water, the conjured item will restore both health and mana.
- Scorch will provide a damage bonus to the mage’s fire spells. Our goal is for Scorch to be part of the mage’s rotation and a useful damage-dealing ability, even if someone else is supplying the group with the spell Critical Strike debuff. Scorch will provide the mage with more specific benefits, which can also be improved through talents.
New Talents and Talent Changes
- Arcane Focus will now return mana for each spell that fails to hit your target, including Arcane Missiles that fail to launch. We want Arcane mages to have several talents that play off of how much mana the character has and give the player enough tools to manage mana.
- The talent Playing with Fire will reduce the cooldown of Blast Wave when hit by a melee attack, instead of its current effect.
- Pyromaniac will grant Haste when three or more targets are getting damaged by the effects of your damage-over-time (DoT) fire spells.
- The Burnout talent will allow mages to cast spells using health when they run out of mana.
Mastery Passive Talent Tree Bonuses
Spell Crit damage
Mana Adept: Arcane will deal damage based how much mana the mage has. For example, Arcane mages will do much more damage at 100% mana than at 50% mana. If they begin to get low on mana, they will likely want to use an ability or mechanic to bring their mana up to increase their damage.
Ignite: All direct-damage fire spells will add a damage-over-time (DoT) component when cast. The flavor will be similar to how Fireball works; however, the DoT component will be much stronger.
Deathfrost: Casting Frostbolt places a buff on the mage that increases the damage for all frost, fire, and arcane spells. The only damage spell that won’t be affected by this buff is Frostbolt.
We hope you enjoyed this preview, and we’re looking forward to hearing your initial thoughts and feedback on these additions and changes. Please keep in mind that this information represents a work in progress and is subject to change as development on Cataclysm continues.
Flame Orb is not channeled. It may have a cast time, but after that is fire and forget. We want to try the line idea because there aren’t any spells that work that way currently. Giving it a target to follow makes it feel more like a fancy dot – useful perhaps, but nothing that feels really new. It will be balanced for single-target damage, but if you can launch it in such a way that it will hit multiple targets, then you’re just being awesome.
Wall of Fog is not channeled. We don’t know yet how wide it will be, but wide enough so that it feels more like a trip-wire than an area like Frost Trap.
We like the basic gameplay of Hot Streak. With lower crit rates all around, we hope that it will feel more like a bonus when it’s up rather than a penalty when it refuses to stay up. We may lower the magnitude overall for the same reason.
On Arcane Missiles, the basic spell is pretty cool. The problem is the way the spell works makes the current design hard to balance. It’s either too expensive and low damage or the opposite problem. This is particularly true at low level, and meanwhile we think the mage experience at low level is also a little too repetitive. The change is that you can’t hit Arcane Missiles whenever you want. The icon is just grayed out. However, when you deal damage, you have a chance to get Arcane Missiles to light up and then you definitely want to hit it. At higher levels Fire and Frost may eventually phase it out in preference for other spells, or if we like the mechanic, it may be something even Fire and Frost do, just less often than Arcane.
On the topic of mastery bonuses, understand that this is a new design for us and very few people have seen them in action yet. We run the risk of specific masteries being so generic that the mastery stat isn’t interesting or so complex that what players really like about playing a certain spec gets turned on its head. This is the kind of thing that will require a lot of iteration and the reason we’re trying to cover the whole gamut of relatively complex to relatively simple to see what feels right.
The reason behind Deathfrost (Frost mastery) isn’t to get Frost to spam Frostbolt more. It’s to get mages to spam Frostbolt less. If you hit nothing but Frostbolt, you’re wasting the Deathfrost bonus.
We’re shifting food and water to higher level because we don’t want players to have so much down time at lower level. We’re not trying to make it harder to level; we’re reducing the need to drink or eat so we’re bumping the actual food and water (though it’s really foodwater in the case of mages) higher.
The intent behind Mana Adapt (Arcane mastery) is that Arcane currently has a pretty fun mana management game going, at least at relatively high level. We thought it would be fun to extend that concept even further to where Arcane mages that use the mechanics to keep their mana high would do higher dps. I find many of the predictions that Arcane is doomed in PvE based on the very limited information you have at the moment to be quite premature.
On Time Warp vs. Bloodlust, we are really trying to give groups flexibility in who they bring to 10 player raids to an even greater extent than we did in Lich King. We heard over and over that shaman still felt like the one mandatory class in any raid. The more we hear “now there will be no reason to take me over X class / spec” the happier we will be. The reason should be that you’re a good player, not that your mere presence makes everyone else perform better. It’s fun to feel more powerful in a group – we get that, and we aren’t going to completely marginalize group synergy. But it needs to come secondary to the skill of the players involved.
I understand some mages really like Fire Ward or Dampen Magic. Perhaps “no clear role” wasn’t the best choice of words, but we are trying to remove mechanics from the game that we think aren’t really cutting it. When asking players to put more buttons on their action bars from these new spells, we only think it’s fair to try and get some bar space back from the least interesting spells. Don’t worry so much about balance at this stage. Many things will need to be tweaked. Worry more about whether it ever felt like a fun decision to use these spells.
For everyone focusing on the RMP Arena comp, I really think you’re going to see a shift to more PvP concerns in Cataclysm being about Battleground balance. There will still be players playing Arenas for sure, but a lot of the players currently doing Arenas are going to shift to rated BGs instead.