State of Mages in MoP: An Expansion of Problems Pt. 1

Some of you may know me but most of you will not. Currently I (Mastamagee) am a Frost Mage raiding with Lissanna in Undying Resolution on US-Elune. What I’d like to discuss in my first blog post is the change the Mage community has experienced since MoP has launched. Most classes can probably relate in some way to what I’m about to say, but, Mages especially, might get a feel for what’s happening within the community. I’ll keep it short and I encourage questions to be asked. Let’s dive right in!

Since the introduction of our new talent system we have seen a world of change. We went from being able to use 3 trees worth of talents to this boring, mundane system we have now. Blizzard’s goal was to simplify the talent systems and get away from “cookie cutter” builds. Sure, they simplified it, but what we have now is another cookie cutter system with very little deviation from the norm. At least with the older system we had choices and could deviate just a little. In all honesty, the older system would tell who actually knew what they were doing (even though you could go copy it from the web). Performance was easier to track. Now, it’s just “take this, press this, keep this up, win”. I feel it’s time we break down each tier and show just how little choice we actually have, spec by spec. Some will agree, others will not. It’s a matter of opinion as we are all trying to get something different out of the game.

Level 15: Fire is completely locked into Presence of Mind. End of story. Horrible talent that really skews Alter Time + Combustion combo. In SoO, I would argue that Blazing Speed is the talent of choice for both Frost and Arcane but some will argue against it and that’s fine. Nothing against you if it works for your setup.

Level 30: For all 3 specs, Temporal Shield is going to win over Ice Barrier on every fight, except one, for two reasons: it reduces damage by 15% while healing 100% of damage taken over 6 secs AND it’s off the GCD. The ONLY fight that Ice Barrier should be used in SoO is on Malkorok to help sustain your Ancient Barrier. If you don’t mind using Ice Barrier then take it. There’s nothing against it you for doing so.

Level 45: take what you want as we have very little use for them (except Nazgrim and Sha of Pride large adds).

Level 60: Here’s where some start to deviate: Greater Invisibility is the recommended talent this tier. Damage is very predictable this tier. VERY predictable. You have no excuse to not use Greater Invisibility. Some people like Cauterize because it’s passive BUT it has been known to be rather buggy and if you receive two killing blows back to back you WILL die. Cold Snap doesn’t have much of a use this tier. We used it a lot in Tier 15 to cheese mechanics during Heroic content but it’s not worth taking anymore. Greater Invisibility is on a 90 second CD, Cauterize is on 120 second CD and Cold Snap is on a 180 second CD. With Greater Invisibility you have the other option to use Ice Block should you get into a situation where you need to mitigate damage, remove debuffs or drop threat. There really is no deviation in this tier. Honestly, I haven’t changed my level 60 (or 15 and 90) talent this entire tier. Not cookie cutter eh Blizzard? Remember I’m giving you options here but stating the cons as well. It’s up to you to decide what works best for you.

Level 75: Ohhhhhhh the infamous Bomb talent tier. This tier has so many issues but I will only touch on a few. Every boss has a specific bomb that has to be used to maximize damage. Frost Bomb only feels fluent with extreme levels of haste, has horrible single target damage and doesn’t produce enough damage for the decreased amount of Brain Freeze procs you receive as Frost. Nether Tempest is only useful if we can cleave 2+ targets, requires higher amounts of haste to be viable and has a tendency to overwrite Brain Freeze procs. Living Bomb is for single target or 2 targets out of cleave range. Downside? It’s limited to 3 targets. Nether Tempest makes us feel like a DoT class. Mages aren’t DoT classes so why are we spamming bombs an entire fight? Remember I’m strictly talking how I approach these fights from my own, and others’, experiences. Use LB if you don’t like multi-dotting, I’ve done it before.

Level 90: I’m sure everyone NOT a Mage has heard us complain about these. They’re all maintenance buffs that reward mediocre play and semi-penalizes poor play. Frost / Fire is locked into Invocation; No deviation. Arcane HAS to play with Rune of Power. Since the nerf on Incanter’s Ward we might as well not even have it listed in our talent “tree”.

Am I disgruntled? Yes. Are other Mages? Sure are. Trying to simplify our talents caused more problems than they’re worth. I switch two talents in an entire run in SoO (and only one of those for one boss only). I’d discuss Level 100 talents but we don’t have enough information about them to entertain a post. This is all I have time to discuss at this time. My next post will discuss the use, or lack of use, for our Glyphs. Thank you for your time and I hope to be writing more.

Disclaimer: Please remember this post is simply suggestions and I know it may come off as that I think these are the best but they’re not. We each have an opinion and are welcome to it. After months of testing and plenty of lockouts to back it up I’m presenting my ideas from this information.  I’m presenting only one side of the Mage world when evaluating these talents after much research and there are plenty other views out there. Please take what you want from these posts as it’s only one opinion.

Mastamagee – Frost Mage – US Elune

Posted in Mage, Patch 5.4, Witten by Mastamagee
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19 comments on “State of Mages in MoP: An Expansion of Problems Pt. 1
  1. Muphrid says:

    How much experience do you have using Ice Floes? Why isn’t a discussion of Cauterize included? Or fights that Cold Snap could actually be useful for? Do you really feel there is a strong need to switch bombs fight to fight? And in what way is it relevant that two of the bombs are DoTs? That mages are not traditionally considered DoT classes is not relevant to your premise–that these choices are uninteresting.

    Further, I’m unclear on what you would regard as ideal. Is it ideal to change talents to be tailored for every given encounter? Should every encounter require a decision on all six tiers of talents? Or is it better for a given set of talents to work well on some large fraction of encounters, only requiring spot tweaking? You seem to take the position that there should be more fight-to-fight change. Is that indeed your position?

    • Mastamagee says:

      Thanks for your response and I’d be happy to answer your questions:

      Ice Floes: Good idea for a talent, bad implementation. Having to re-cast it before you move each charge is the downside. Granted it’s better than the original version from T15 but for Frost and Arcane, Blazing Speed will be better this Tier. Arcane could definitely use it more than say, Frost, but I have yet to find a fight where it would give me a DPS or survivability increase this Tier. AoE on the ground in Heroic content (and some in Normal) ticks fast and hard and moving out of it immediately is a necessity. Survivability is key.

      Cauterize: I have never liked this talent, even when we had our old talent trees. It’s always bugged out but has gotten better over time. Now, by “bugged out” I mean it used to just kill you out-right without proccing the heal. In MoP I’ve had it happen, moreso in the earlier tiers. In SoO the damage is very predictable and we have lots of Debuffs and things to soak. Why take a talent like Cauterize that essentially kills you, heals you and then does ticking damage? It’s added healing for your raid. Because damage is predictable and we have lots of Debuffs to worry about and remove, Greater Invisibility is the clear winner. Let’s just lay out the CDs first and what they can do: Greater Invisibility is 90secs, drops threat, removes Debuffs AND reduces damage by 90% while Invisible and for 3 secs afterwards. Cauterize has a 120sec CD, heals you for 50% of max HP, ticks for 40% of max hp over 6 secs AND doesn’t remove debuffs upon activating. Not to mention if you receive an attack that kills you then get hit by an attack that does 40-50% directly after you will die.

      Cold Snap: Very useful in Heroic ToT, not so much now. This talent was always used to cheese mechanics and we don’t have any of that (besides negating Aim on Paragons w/ Greater Invisiblity). I liked the talent last tier but anything it can do Greater Invisibility can do better.

      Bomb Switching: It is absolutely necessary you choose the correct bomb per boss in this tier. Let’s take a high haste Frost build for example: you’ll see some using Nether Tempest on single target and others using Living Bomb (I was guilty of it at one point). Check the logs for those single target fights: NT was doing roughly 70-80% of the damage of what LB would do. NT causes more overwrites of Brain Freeze procs than LB does. Frost Bombs just doesn’t feel fluid enough with lower haste and unless you have Frenzied Crystal of Rage it honestly it’s worth using. We’ll take a few bosses it COULD be used on and analyze the pros and cons:
      Immerseus Heroic– adds need to be within 10yds of the boss and grouped up for Frost Bomb to be effective. When it comes to single target on that boss you’re losing that damage because Frost Bomb isn’t designed to be the top on a single target fight.
      Galakras Heroic – Unless you have add problems then the tradeoff for Frost Bomb AoE damage vs its single target damage still isn’t worth taking. TBH, most people take it to meter pad and rank, something of which doesn’t matter this late in the tier.
      Spoils of Pandaria H & N – Has the potential to be used but adds move around a lot. You’re relying on your tank a lot to make Frost Bomb effective. NT will do a better job.
      Garrosh H & N – Again, the tradeoff you take for single target damage after the adds are down just isn’t worth the AoE damage you’re going to get.

      Blizzard has made it such that in order to be optimal we have to use a specific bomb per boss. Just the way it is. I am not a fan of having 2 DoTs and 1 castable bomb. I, however, do not like always casting bombs and ignoring my rotation. The only thing that sets players apart at this point with LB and ST is the ability to snapshot procs. Come 6.0 we won’t have any shapshotting so diversity among players will be minimal. TBH, this talent tier is very dis-interesting. We have no choice, we spend more time casting bombs than anything else on some fights and we lose all spec identity. If they had a tooltip that kept the same bomb abilities per talent but changed them to represent your current spec then most of us who complain about them wouldn’t do so as much. All of this gets back to the way the old talent tier was setup (more choice, more interaction with your spec): Living Bomb was the last talent in the Fire tier – and it had a whole different feel that it does now.

      IMO, we should be switching talents per boss but as you get through the tier and realize the only one you’re switched per fight is the bomb tier, it’s a little disheartening (with the exception of Ice Barrier > Temporal Shield on Malkorok). We all know that not all 6 tiers are for PVE, Tier 3 shows that well. Only switching a few per boss is ok but only switching 1 is what makes it feel like we’re on cruise control: even when I was progressing as soon as SoO landed I only switched IB and TS and the bomb tier. It didn’t take any testing or any trial and error; it was laid out pretty plainly. I do believe there should be more fight-to-fight change. With our new talent “tree” we don’t have to go to a trainer to reset 1 talent; we can just switch whatever we want w/ the use of a Tome. We need to be able to switch more and have less baseline. Our build now is cookie cutter and that’s exactly what Blizz wanted to get away from. I can’t speak for other classes because I don’t have the time to play them as much as I’d like. Encounters need to be designed so that multiple talents in the same tier can work optimally, equally. Unfortunately, we’re a class that’s very locked in to our talent choices. Some people don’t worry about optimal play and they have the right to do so but for those of us who want to be optimal we don’t get the luxury to choose what we want.

      I hope this helps answer some of your questions. I speak from a progression raiding perspective only and report what I experience and what other Mages around experience.

  2. Ilyakimina says:

    I’ve raided with the 3 specs this tier. Lemme talk about talents first, then overall picture. Ice Floes is good for Arcane on some fights, and whether you macro it to a button on your mouse, time your move to account for only one cast, or cast it twice to begin with, it’s really helpful. Blazing Speed is not useful at all for half the fights, so if you’re not switching to PoM or AFl, you’re losing dps there, even if just a bit. Fire is locked on PoM but the reward is greater than for any spec in terms of damage, so it’s not a decision that feels bad.

    You should give Ice Barr a chance on some fights. Even though it’s on the GCD, what it does is not reduce dmg taken, but give you more effective health. On fights where you take big, planned hits, Ice Barr is better, because it’s gonna absorb 130-150k dmg above your eff health, as opposed to TSh that will “absorb” (15% dmg red) only, at most, 90k on a 600k hit. I find Ice Barrier specially helpful while healers are getting used to fights, since it helps you avoid deaths and, thus, wipes, and speeds up progression.

    Cauterize is not bugged. It has a dmg limit it can take equal to double your health. If you take more damage than that, it will not proc and you will die. Cauterize is useful in fights like Blackfuse, where so much is going on and you can’t entirely predict dmg, and on almost every fight while you’re progressing and learning it. It feels great to have this option, and many mages still use it.

    Regarding the bombs, we have a bomb that cleaves targets even if they’re far away and with which you can dot innumerable targets and you have a single target one. Yeah, they screwed up with FrBomb because of the dot procs, but the other two are viable choices.

    You seem to be unhappy about the state of mages. While everyone agrees that we’ve seen better days, the L90 talents are unnerving, and we have talents I wouldn’t touch with a 6-feet pole, not everything’s that bad. The simplification of talent trees has allowed Frost to be viable for PvE, and we have 3 raiding viable specs, something that had never happened before. It has also allowed younger, newer players to catch up faster, and it’s a design option that makes it much easier for Blizzard to prevent tons of bugged abilities on bosses since testing is easier. Simplification is terrific for PvE design, exactly the reason why they’re merging 25 and 10 into 20’s. I’ve had a lot of fun with my mage this tier, and while I miss Wrath’s hybrid builds (I used to solo lvl 60 Onyxia with an arcane/frost hybrid) and the time put into understanding new talents and talent choices, I like the fact that devs’ decision is LESS THEORYCRAFTING and MORE GAMEPLAY. Go look at the long long threads we used to post at Elitist Jerks on mages, and look at the relevant info now. Game is simpler, and it’s simpler for devs to control. I don’t know if you’re aware of this, but because of all the complexity, at least I, as a mage, had to perform tricks like switching one tier for another one to have an extra effect, going to get some weird buff somewhere and port in to cheese the dmg boost the raid needed, switching weapons in and out, and similar stuff. Almost all that is already fixed, and when you look at dmg meters today you don’t have to wonder about the x-factor anymore: everyone is doing things within the simplicity boundaries devs designed.

    What, in terms of gameplay, will you exactly win if you have to switch a ton of talents every boss fight? For instance, I’d say we have a good gameplay choice right now in L15, we’re missing an option on L30 because Flameglow is just useless, but the other 2 feel good as personal cooldowns. L60 will give us two good choices and one situational one; pretty good considering PvP needs to be balanced along with this. L75 needs a redesign for FrBomb, but the other 2 have their niches where they’ll both be strong and weak and it’s up to you to decide how to use them. L90’s are, of course, absolutely horrible, but I think enough has been said and written about this.

    I think the current state of mage talents is actually very good compared to what we used to have. There will always be better choices, so trying to walk away from cookie-cutter specs is impossible. I know you’re gonna write about glyphs next, too, but I also like where we stand there. If there’s something sad and poor to write about regarding the state of mages are the maths behind the three specs, which have forced devs to do major changes to us every patch, but no, talents and glyphs are not in a bad place right now.

    • Mastamagee says:

      While I see your argument for Ice Floes for Arcane, Blazing Speed has it’s use on every fight and I tend to find it much more useful as Frost. I have no issue with moving while casting; I can always have FoF or BF charges banked. With the addition of Icicles we don’t have a use for Ice Floes this tier.

      I raided with Ice Barrier during the first few weeks of progression; switching back and forth between IB and TS to see where each was useful. Being on the GCD it’s not worth it to me when TS can do it better. Malkorok is the only fight I’ll give a thought to IB. We’re too busy casting and watching mechanics to be worried about whether we’ll be able to use IB in a pinch. You run the chance you’re on the global and you’re without the shield.

      While Cauterize is no longer bugged as it was in DS, we have other talents that can perform better. If I were to assign a fight where it would be useful in SoO: Heroic Thok. It might save you from the ticking poison. Greater Invisibility’s ability to reduce damage by 90%, remove debuffs and drop threat makes it superior.

      I have never been happy with bombs since their implementation. Our cleave for bombs is limited to 10yds. While this isn’t bad, our choices are blah. I’d accept 3 castable bombs that have a longer duration and are completely untied from Arcane Missile and Brain Freeze procs. As a class, we’re too balanced around the lvl 75 talents.

      Majority of raiding mages are unhappy with where we’re at now. Simply put: whatever we can do a Warlock can do better. Or a Shaman. Or a Hunter. Frost has always been viable, I raided with it in DS with great success. The problem Frost had was being competitive. While I agree it’s easier for players to pick up with the talent system it causes over-simplification in the game. Less theorycrafting isn’t a good idea. We tore apart Frost this tier and stripped to its bare bones to maximize it. Easy gameplay will result in mediocre results. Ever since we tore it apart it brought theorycrafting back to the table, where it should be. Understandably they can’t make the classes impossible but without the complexity we find then we might as well all be sheep. I used to be a member of EJ and I regularly post and analyze on MMO-C, Icy Veins, Official Forums. I’ve raided during periods where Jade Spirit was proccing Evocation casts, I’ve had to get the buffs on Isle of Thunder. Sure, it’s complex but we don’t have to worry about that anymore and I’m glad.

      Like I’ve said before, the talents don’t offer a choice anymore from encounter to encounter. I’ve had this argument many times with plenty of Mages and the consensus is that we have a set list of talents per fight and that’s it. Arcane I see switching more often than Frost or Fire, but only with Ice Floes. Last tier we had some flexiblity in talents per boss. Hell, I even used Ice Barrier and Ice Floes regularly while switching out when needed. I would classify level 75 and 90 talents as equally as horrible. Problem is, we don’t have better choices this tier if you’re planning on playing optimally. It just isn’t happening. We’re not in a good spot. I felt better about this class in DS than I do now. We’re stuck in the “pure” bubble and Devs aren’t letting us out. Warlocks get a revamp and then get more done to them on top of it. Frost gets a shiny new Mastery which really didn’t do much tbh. It just gave us a passive dmg boost.

      Now, my glyphs post will strictly be about Frost because that’s the majority of what I play and while people think they’re all fine and dandy, they might as well only give us 3-4 glyphs to choose. Frost has very little need to switch out a glyph. Ever. In the end, Arcane’s Mastery needs a rework. Frost and Fire need an overhaul. Talents need to be tweaked. Level 100 talents: we’ll have to wait and see what comes of them but I’m not getting my hopes up. I’ve done that this whole expansion and been let down every major patch.

      I’m not here to argue, just to state observations I’ve seen from the start of MoP until now. I, too, have raided with all 3 specs this tier and been through each one of their nerfs and buffs. All of the information I present is accurate with my own findings and the findings of other raiding Mages.

      • Ilyakimina says:

        The first 4 paragraphs of your answer implies that we DO have a choice: it’s just not a choice you like. That’s way different from saying that we don’t have a choice. The rest of the answers should prove this point.

        “Majority of raiding mages are unhappy”, yeah, I’m pissed off about our L90 talents, NOT ABOUT EVERYTHING. L90 talents didn’t give us anything but restrictions we need to comply with to compete with other classes, which feels incredibly unfair as a talent. Bombs feel clumsy at times, but generally, they’re OK and I like the differences between them (except FrBomb).

        “Whatever we can do, a Warlock can do better”. Every class can say this now: locks are the flavor of the expansion, as broken as they’ve ever been. “So can a Shaman and Hunter”… ummm no. They WISH they had the single target burst Fire has or the constant cleave ability Frost has. I don’t recall seeing them often above me in meters. They don’t have our survivability tools, either.

        “Less theorycrafting isn’t a good idea”. Yes it is. Not everyone wants to invest hours and hours to see what the optimal build is for every fight: some people just want to log and play the game. They should have a chance. Besides, there are enough challenges in Theorycrafting now for all 3 specs to have our hands full: “How do we control combustion’s damage over the course of an expansion?” “How do we help Frost get over its haste and crit cap without killing its damage?” “How do we eliminate Arcane’s dependancy on mana without removing the skill level it requires?” I would much rather have devs thinking about this than trying to design a fight where no build in the 33 available specs can break the fight. Look at Path of Exile. It’s been almost a year and devs are still chasing overpowered specs around, and it’s only a hack and slash game.

        Yes, Frost’s glyphs are almost mandatory, I won’t argue about that, and you know what? It’s too bad, because I’ve had a lot of fun using double blink, super ice block, CoC, and others this tier.

        I understand this is your point of view. This is mine and only mine; however, when going through mages’ forums, all I see are complaints about L90 and damage. While I will never go as far as to say I can accurately represent what all mages think, I can tell you that, amongst the 20 mages I’ve raided with or have relationship with, we are mostly happy with recent changes. I believe Lhivera had a site where you could see what % of mages were using what talents; last time we discussed it, everything except Flameglow was taken at some point. If you dare, go dive into the mage forums where you will find complaints about supposed glitchs, questions about gear and talents, bitching about locks… but you will not see an unhappy or messed up community. I believe we’re all a little sick of all the nerfs and changes, but overall, we’re a happy bunch 🙂

        • Mastamagee says:

          We’ll leave it at this that we each have our opinion and that’s the whole point. If I were to say “YOU MUST TAKE THESE TALENTS AND NONE OTHER BECAUSE THEN YOU’RE BAD!” we would have an issue and I should probably re-evaluate my life. But I’m not saying that. These are merely suggestions from testing and I’m offering a different view that most mages are going to consider thinking about. I dwell on the cons of the class because it’s the only way to help fix it. All of your points are great and I respect them. If what you do works for you then nobody has a problem with it. I’m a regular on MMO-C and have submitted quite a few of the Frost bugs we saw, Invo bug, AT bug, etc. Most are probably happy but some of us just don’t like being tossed around lol. Thank you for your analysis, though.

  3. Malon says:

    I disagree that ‘all Mages are disgruntled’. I raid heroics, and while there are things I’d change – starting with the lvl75 and 90 tiers – there’s plenty to be happy about. With three viable raiding specs, we’re in a good spot. I also like the new trees. I would never, ever want to return to the old “You have two free points, which won’t help you in raiding” system. There could be more diversity, but I won’t say taking Cauterize over GI is doing it wrong, or IB over TS. The lvl 15 talents could change (I think PoM needs to go, personally), and like you I hate being taken away from my rotation to reapply Bombs, but on the whole I’m happy.
    I would go into more detail, but I’ve got to start work.

    • Lissanna says:

      I have cauterize. Most of the time, I am die when I’m not focusing enough on the raid mechanics or watching my health well enough. When I am watching my health, things like ice block will save me. To use greater invis, I have to be watching the mechanics and react at appropriate times. Cauterize is passive and goes off at the times when I need to not die the most (e.g., the times when I’m not watching my surroundings well enough). Even though damage is predictable and greater invis would technically be a better talent, my death count in raids is substantially higher when I don’t invest points in cauterize. I still sometimes die in raids, but my survivability is substantially better even with the technically sub-optimal talent. So, that’s one of the great things about being able to personalize your utility talents.

      • Mastamagee says:

        Cauterize is great for learning mechanics or for consistent lag or for just having to worry about any extra CDs to use. If it works for you then that’s fine. As you saw in my guild forum post about talents and this tier it’s not set in stone. It’s just a suggestion. You actually live more than I do in raids 😛

        • Grizzlebees says:

          and both of you outlive me, no matter how many cooldowns I pop =P

          I am certain that our healers have a height requirement to appear on their raidframes, so as a Gnome, I don’t appear.

    • Mastamagee says:

      Don’t confuse words.I don’t say “all mages are disgruntled” because I know not all are disgruntled. *edit I did make a mistake and edited it* Majority. I’m not saying you HAVE to take these talents that I present. I’m bringing forward issues that I see and builds that I, as well as many others, have seen work to great success. Nothing is set in stone here, that’s the joy of a blog. Don’t take what I say as concrete.

  4. Nathyiel says:

    OK, I have read most of it.

    I agree with the fact there’s a problem with this talent but I’m not sure you point it out correctly.

    All talents can be classified : PvE versus PvP, for movement, for DPS, for DOT, etc.

    We can resume the problem like this :
    – some require to be changed each fight (L75 in PVE HL).
    – some depend on the chosen spec (PoM, RoP, …).
    – some don’t seem to fit in the standard mage toolkit, like NT and LB (outside of Fire).
    – etc

    L15 – the problem is with PoM that are Mandatory as Fire in both PvE & PvP. No choice, no alternative.
    L30 – the problem is in PvE HL where damaging ability is timed and where every GCD is important.
    L45 – they’re PvP talent and I don’t know if there’s a problem with them.
    L60 – Greater invisibility is just to versatile. So it have a use in most situation and can replace the 2 others in most case.
    L75 – why arcane and frost needed a DoT in the first place ? I have always said that armor should be better here and each bomb in there relative spec (or not).
    L90 – at MoP start, they could have been more or less ok. Now, they’re just a 15% damage buff. 1 for arcane, 1 for PvP and the last for all others situations.

    On twitter, I have ask you if you plan to speak about rotation.
    For me, it’s the core problem. If I’m remember correctly, there’s a blog entry here about the “good” number of spell and CD. I have keep that 4 damage’s spell and 2 CD should be the “magic” number.
    GC speak some time about ability bloat.

    My conclusion :
    What will be the rotation if we add the shiny L100 in all of this ?
    Isn’t a simpler rotation more enjoyable to play ?
    What about spec diversity when we could all do : “DoT every thing then Meteor” ? Did you prefer you’re filler with big flame or shiny purple ?

    • Mastamagee says:

      Natyiel you know I respect you and what you’ve helped do for Frost and mages in general. You have excellent points and there isn’t much to argue. You and I, and others, dwell on very optimal play and when we approach others it’s seen as “the only option”. But we know there are other options and we just choose not to use them after testing.

      Yes, I will get into rotation and delve a bit deeper into the level 100 talents but we can only assume so much so I think it’s best we keep it simple. My posts will be more tailored to Frost since I can’t please everyone in the mage world. Once my Glyph post is complete we’ll look at QoL changes that would actually help spec diversity and make us feel more like a Frost, Arcane or Fire mage.

  5. malchome says:

    There is one major good difference between the old talent trees and the current talent trees.

    Know what your doing or where to get the cookie cutter – You are good to go.
    Don’t know this – completely screwed.

    Know where to get cookie cutter – You are good to go.
    Don’t know cookie cutter – You are still ok just not optimized.

    No matter what system there will always be a theory crafted “best” for some circumstance.

    By in large the amount of the player-base that cares about that above all else is less than 5% and that would be including both top Raiders and PvPers.

    • Mastamagee says:

      I do agree that the completely optimal builds are a very small % of player-base but that’s what I’ve chosen to follow in my WoW career. I’m not in that top 5% of players from a raiding standpoint but my mindset is there. I’m not trying to belittle anyone I’m just offering this viewpoint for people to consider if they’ve never broken their class down and picked it apart to find a completely optimal build. I prefer the old talent system, that’s just how I am. I’m not demanding it be changed because I know it never will be. Remember, this is a blog and not patch notes 😛

  6. R says:

    Personally, I like the way my mage has played in MoP and how the current talent choices augment that… the old talent tree “noob trap” being featured as a pro detracts from your argument. It had absolutely zero real-world benefit to a decent+ quality mage compared to the new talent system.

    In terms of the new talents, most of the choices I’ve made differ from the “obvious” choices you’re pointing out because I’m apparently a different type of player than you are, I pick the talents that are the best choices for ME even if they’re ever-so-slightly sub-optimal for someone else.

    An active defensive ability that’s better than a passive is great IF YOU ACTUALLY PUSH THE BUTTON. And, critically, PUSH IT IN TIME TO BE USEFUL, which, for me, often only becomes apparent after I’ve done a boss quite a few times to the point where I figure out the rhythm and usually by then there’s another way to avoid the damage in the first place (can’t recall a lot of fight designed around personal cooldowns). For those of us who have enough buttons to deal with, we’ll take the passive and be happy it’s available, thanks.

    Even if Frost Bomb was a single-target dps increase of Living Bomb I’d still run LB. Why? Because after years of part-time maging I know how to track LB, I innately have a vibe as to whether I should be multi-LBing and I know that it’s something that I can cast while moving regardless of my other talent choices.

    I mean, sticking with the bomb tier… you have optimal options for various scenarios and can, if you choose, tailor your choice from fight to fight depending on what your progression boss is. How’s that not a good thing for a top 5%er? For the rest of us, we’ll go with the one that matches our playstyle best and stick with it, sometimes it’ll be optimal, sometimes it’ll be slightly less optimal but still perfectly fine.

    Basically, I appreciate that for a top calibre mage there may appear to be an illusion of choice in some cases but if anything THAT is the new “noob trap”… it’d be easy to see that I’ve picked talents that are slightly sub-optimal because that’s, frankly, my calibre of play on that toon at this point in time and those options optimize MY play out of all the choices, someone can look at my talents and realize that I a) have a clue as to my own abilities and b) want to optimize my gameplay while c) perhaps not being at the level they’re looking for if they want a top 5%er. Catering all options to be viable for heroic-calibre players does nothing but screw the rest of us out of OUR best options for our optimal playstyle. Even if Cauterize does nothing more than give me a few more seconds to throw stuff at a mob, that’s more than a button I won’t react to press will accomplish. Even better, it might occasionally SAVE my slightly sub-optimal ass.

    On the other hand, someone at or below my skill level going with the “optimal” choices as indicated by world first raiders is probably going to do a bit less dps and die more than I will. This focus on “best” overall isn’t useful, players should always pick whatever will have the best result for them which requires different options for different types of players. They’ve done that pretty well with the new talents for most classes/specs when looking at the goal from that perspective, including mages.

    • Mastamagee says:

      An active defensive ability that’s better than a passive is great IF YOU ACTUALLY PUSH THE BUTTON. And, critically, PUSH IT IN TIME TO BE USEFUL” – for some tiers damage is unpredictable but in SoO it’s extremely predictable which is why I suggest the things I do. You have plenty of time to react.

      “Even if Frost Bomb was a single-target dps increase of Living Bomb I’d still run LB. Why?” – Using Frost Bomb as an example is a poor one. Two different abilities.

      you have optimal options for various scenarios and can, if you choose, tailor your choice from fight to fight depending on what your progression boss is” – there is, tbh, 1 option per fight to be completely optimal but there are a few exceptions this tier. But for majority of fights if you want to play optimally you’ll pick the correct bomb. If you don’t want to, then it’s fine.

      To each his own. What I write isn’t set in stone, nor is it going to work for everyone. It’s not intended to. I’m not telling you how to play; I’m telling you what works best. It’s up to you to test it and figure it out.

  7. Akraen says:

    Hi Masta.

    I think when making a blog post it’s a good idea to let your points drive the tempo of your post, rather than creating a negative connotation before you even get started. That said, I’m with you about the current talent system being mundane!

    Level 15: I agree with your assessment. Ice Floes is good but because of its activation it’s cumbersome for many people and in theory it is the strongest talent for frost/arcane, but due to being humans, many of us are finding blazing speed to help us more on the actual fights.

    Level 30: I actually use Flameglow on Heroic Spoils and Heroic Thok. On every other fight it’s Temporal Shield. Ice Barrier is the one with the problem as I see it because it requires you use a GCD and you can’t bake it into a macro.

    Level 45: I’ve had no less than a dozen PMs from mages asking me why I have Ice Ward. I laugh at each one. Frost Jaw actually has some uses if you’re low on melee for interrupts.

    Level 60: Cauterize on Heroic Thok, but otherwise yeah only the lazy won’t use GI. Mage would be more enjoyable with all three of these abilities being available, but sharing the same cooldown. Or simply by changing the cooldowns of each of them, or by adjusting them all as I’ve suggested in my talent rework.

    Level 75: First off, frost bomb is only 2% behind LB on single target and is ahead of NT. Doesn’t matter though, even if it was 2% ahead we still wouldn’t use it. It should change though. There are numerous ideas to make this tier better. This is the example of a tier that goes completely against their design decision as it was presented.

    Level 90: Yep.

    I think it’s great that you’re venting and that you are frustrated. There are reasons to be. However, the same stance I try to take on MMOC to fight “the community” is that complaining isn’t enough. The design and development team is interested in hearing solutions because they don’t always have the resources to investigate themselves. I try to speak in solutions, it’s a lot better to be heard that way and the improvement frost has seen since Dragon Soul is proof that speaking in solutions is how to get stuff done.

    When I read this, I just think that maybe as valid as nearly all of your points are, you need to find what you enjoy. If you truly aren’t enjoying this– stop. Like, I’m finally scrapping any intention to do mythic next expansion. Too many buttons to press these days for the types of encounters they’re making. I need to move on, I’m not a Call of Duty kid and I’ve gone long enough working to be competitive when I would be happier still playing at a different pace. It’s flex for me next xpac.

    I have to be straight with you though. Your entire post is just complaining, therefore not really useful to anyone.

    So here are some solutions for you to work with, tweak, discuss, and propose:

    Adding skill checks w/o adding button bloat:
    Arcane: Mana Adept’s design should be a balance of damage and haste. High mana = more damage, low mana = more haste. Think about it. Lower mana you go, faster you cast, faster you regen mana. But you sacrifice damage, so it adds an accelerated burn with a creative consequence that can be gamed in fights.

    Frost: Icicles could be triggered, apply a cold-stacking (to the caster, so no target switching issues) debuff as they hit so each subsequent icicle hits harder. Puts haste back on top in single target and provides a frost-only type of complex skill rotation. You’d want to use periods of burst haste to machine gun icicles, but balanced such that you wouldn’t always be releasing them. Still wouldn’t need to be tracked, your interaction with the mastery just changes based off haste.

    Fire: Ignite generates heat each time refreshed, tracked as a debuff, which increases critical strike chance by a small chance each and reduces mastery by a small chance per stack. Upon release of a pyroblast or combustion it resets the stack of heat. Helps low-geared fire get a crit ramp, helps fuel a combustion. Can be gamed a bit with a hard-cast pyro.

    My talent rework:
    Level 15:
    Presence of Mind: 1.5 min cooldown / Instant
    When activated, your next Mage spell with a casting time less than 10 sec becomes an instant cast spell. Increases your movement speed by 30% until consumed. This spell is not on the global cooldown.

    Blazing Speed: No change

    Ice Floes: No change

    Level 30:
    Temporal Shield: No change

    Flameglow: Passive
    Absorbs the light of nearby heals, healing you for 15% of the healing done to friendly targets within 10 yards up to a maximum of 5% of your health per heal.

    Ice Barrier: No change (remove from GCD?), but add this glyph:
    Glyph of Ice Barrier: Your ice barrier will now prevent the next interrupt, incapacitate, stun, or fear effect but will absorb half its damage.

    Level 45:
    Ring of Frost: Become Baseline, replace with:
    Warp Space: 2 sec cast, 2 min cooldown
    Up to 10 enemies within 10 yds are teleported to the target location within 45 yds.

    Ice Ward: Passive, triggers Hypothermia
    Upon reaching 25% of your maximum health, all enemies within 10 yds will become frozen in place for 5 sec and the cooldown of your Presence of Mind, Blazing Speed, or Ice Floes will reset.

    Remove Frostjaw, replace with:
    Blast Wave: instant, 1.5 min cooldown
    A wave of heat radiates outward from the target location. All enemies caught within the blast are slowed by 50% for 3 sec and cannot benefit from movement speed increases for the duration.

    Level 60:
    Greater Invisibility: No changes

    Cauterize: No changes

    Cold Snap: Instant, 3 min cooldown
    Add passive effect: If fatal damage would be dealt to you, encases you in a block of ice at 1% of your maximum health and places Ice Block on cooldown. This effect cannot occur during hypothermia or if Ice Block is on cooldown. It does not place Cold Snap on cooldown.
    Active effect: no changes

    Level 75:
    Remove Nether Tempest
    Remove Living Bomb
    Remove Frost Bomb

    Add: Spellfire Tempest
    Modifies your Mage Bomb, allowing it to be placed on unlimited targets and deal 3900 (+292.32% of Spell power) spellfire damage over 12 sec. Each time Spellfire Tempest deals damage, an additional 50% of that damage is also dealt to a random target within 10 yards.

    Add: Frostfire Bomb
    Modifies your Mage Bomb, allowing it to be placed on two targets and deal 5166 (+321.44% of Spell power) frostfire damage over 18 sec. Each time the target takes a tick of damage, there is a 15% chance their movement speed will be slowed by 30% for 2 sec.

    Add: Spellfrost Implosion
    Instant, 10 sec cooldown
    Modifies your Mage Bomb, allowing it to be placed on one target causing 4600 (+367% of Spell power) spellfrost damage after 6 sec. 33% of the damage will be dealt in a flurry of spellfrost crystals that will hit up to 6 enemies within 10yds of the target. All affected targets are slowed by 70% for 2 sec.

    Level 90:
    Remove Invocation
    Remove Incanter’s Ward

    Change Rune of Power:
    After a successful spell cast, a rune of power with a radius of 8yds draws itself underneath the caster. While standing in this Rune mana regeneration is increased by 75% and spell damage is increased by 8%. The caster will not lose this benefit if their mirror images stand in this rune and the mirror images will last for an additional 12 sec if standing in the rune. This rune fades if neither mage or images are standing in it for 6 sec.

    Add Pact of Flame:
    After a successful spell cast, a large circle of flame visible only to the caster is centered around the target, causing the damage taken from the caster on all targets within 40yd to be increased by 10%. Periodically bursts of flame will empower the caster, regenerating mana. Mirror images will also be able to cast flamestrike when active.

    Add Icy Ground:
    After a successful spell cast, many ice crystals will develop on the ground in random crystalline formations within 45yds. Standing on the ice crystals will amplify the caster’s multistrike and cleave damage by 12%. Periodically the crystals will explode, restoring mana to the caster. Mirror Images will run to these crystals and provide the caster the benefit of standing in them and the images are now able to cast while moving.

    more info:

  8. Grizzlebees says:

    So, for the most part I agree with this posting, especially when it comes to the bomb and 90 tiers. I am not head over heels in love with the other tiers, sure they could use some tweaks, but I could overlook them remaining pretty much in their current incarnations.

    I take more issue with the talent system itself. Don’t misunderstand, I don’t pine for the days of the trees of cookie cutting. I am perfectly fine with the basic structure, since it is exactly what I asked for on a forum post from the Cataclysm alpha (those polymorph placeholder mage talents were taken verbatim as the examples I used in that post).

    My issue is in the lack of any meaning to talent choice. If I can change talents on a literal encounter to encounter basis with almost no cost to change involved, then why have the choice at all?

    This is where pretty much all of my ire with the bomb tier derives. With the extreme ease of talent change, it becomes expectation of change to the optimal bomb each encounter instead of choosing what you like. (Of course, the overpowered bombs from the balancing buff contribute to this as well.)

    Of course, having talents that increase DPS in any way for a DPS class are also a bad idea, since that is exactly how you get cookie cutter builds. If they are an increase in any way, there will always be a “best” one.

    The best designed tier we have is our shield tier. A passive, less powerful option for the less involved players, and 2 similar others that provide different strengths. (they may have overdone the temporal buff this patch, but barrier still has it uses). The best thing this tier has going for it is the lack of improving dps so there is no “BEST” (sure, an argument could be made for temporal since its off GCD, but the improvement is extremely minimal at best).

    The mitigation tier is similarly good in its lack of DPS improvement, but the pluses of Improved Invis are so strong it seems to dwarf the other 2. However, it does adhere to the less powerful passive and 2 others methodology.

    The “movement” tier fails in this respect because PoM directly increases the DPS of a spec and so becomes a no-choice option.


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