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WOD alpha summary for frost mages

Now that my main has been a frost mage all of Mists of Pandaria, I thought I would take a look at the current set of changes for my primary raiding spec. The three resto druids already in my guild will have all our healing needs covered. So, what’s in store for frost mages for PVE? Lots of changes!

Frost Mage Ability removal: Some abilities/effects will only be available to certain specializations, so reducing off-role abilities was the primary place that mages had abilities outright cut. Some of this was meant to differentiate the AOE toolsets of the three specs, as well as other changes to remove redundancy of shared abilities.

  • Fire specialization only (no longer available to frost): dragon’s breath, flamestrike, molten armor, fire blast, and Living Bomb (no longer a frost talent).
  • Arcane only (no longer available to frost): Evocation, Arcane Explosion, mage armor, presence of mind (no longer a talent), and Nether Tempest (no longer a frost talent).
  • Removed from all specs: Mana gem, temporal shield talent, Invocation talent, Incanter’s Ward talent.

Frost major talent changes: Two abilities (Alter Time and Mirror Images) were converted to talents. Overall, there were major talent changes. You can see the current talent tree form mages on WOWhead. Some of the talents now vary by specialization, so my focus below is on frost options only.

  • New talent: Evanesce (level 15) – survivability talent that provides invulnerability from damage for 3 seconds. (replaces presence of mind talent). If you take this ability, you no longer have ice block.
  • Alter time (level 30) – Now a utility talent only (Replaces temporal shield talent).
  • Frost Bomb (level 75) – Frost mages no longer have access to living bomb or nether tempest. Frost bomb has undergone some changes. It no longer interacts with Frost Fire Bolt. It now (instead) does AOE damage when ice lance crits. The level 75 talents for frost are all AOE/cleaving abilities now.
  • Unstable Magic (level 75) – causes our single-target frostbolts to explode and do AOE damage, 25% of the time.
  • Ice Nova (level 75) – If you take this ability, you no longer have frost nova. Instead, this ability allows you to freeze and damage enemies in an 8 yard sphere around your target (instead of you).
  • Mirror Images (level 90) – Mirror images is now a talent, that is more awesome than the current version, and scales better with gear (replaces Invocation).
  • Inchanter’s Flow (level 90) – A damage increasing buff that ramps up and down over 10 second intervals. My comments: This talent is likely to undergo revisions across beta. This seems like the ramp up and down might be too quick to get spells off at the perfect timing, since you would gain 1 stack per second for 5 seconds, and then lose 1 stack per second for 5 seconds.
  • Rune of power is still a talent, but no longer interacts with mana regen, and has a longer duration (3 minutes).
  • Thermal Void (level 100): Ice Lance extends Icy Veins by 2 seconds. Now that icy veins gives us multi-strike (a chance to get bonus damage), I’m not sure this is going to be a very good talent in practice.
  • Prismatic Crystal (level 100): Cast spells at the crystal and it does damage to things nearby (1 minute cooldown). If your targets are stationary for long enough, this could be okay. However, I don’t see the ability to have the crystal follow your tank around, so the usefulness of this talent depends on frequency of tank movement.
  • Comet Storm (level 100):  A 30 second cooldown. Icy Comets split their damage between nearby targets within 4 yards.

Frost gearing changes:

  • A primary goal was to reduce the problem of soft-capping on secondary stats. This means they are making it more difficult to haste and crit soft-cap, and are making Multistrike a more interesting new stat.
  • Multistrike: The simplified version is that this stat gives you a chance to do bonus damage to the primary target. Increasing the stat increases the chance to do bonus damage. Read Lhivera’s post on Multistrike for more specific details.
  • Intellect no longer increases crit chance. Shatter was changed to impact the crit soft-cap (now multiplies crit strike chance by 1.5 instead of 2). My comments: The shatter change could interact strangely with the frost bomb redesign, with frost bomb only doing damage on Ice Lance crits.
  • Frost armor now gives increased Multistrike chance instead of increased haste.
  • Icy Veins now gives multistrike chance instead of increased haste.

Other Spell changes and overall notes on frost rotation:

  • Brain Freeze procs no longer make frostfire bolt instant-cast, but the goal is still to have Brain Freeze increase FFB’s damage enough that you will want to cast it. The new brain freeze procs can stack to 2, and come from frostbolt casts (where multi-strike procs from frostbolt increase the BF proc rate).
  • Perks for leveling from 90 to 100: Reduce frost bolt’s cast time by .5 seconds, once every 15 seconds. One extra ice lance stack (now up to 3). Teleport back 10 yards after casting frost nova. Improved Icy Veins benefits.  Blizzard ticks reduce cooldown on frozen orb. Passive increased damage for frostbolt, frostfire bolt, and Ice Lance.
  • Water elemental pet gets Water Jet ability (helps you generate FOF procs) as a leveling perk. This is primarily designed for PVE where pet freeze doesn’t really work in most situations. If it shares a cooldown with pet’s freeze ability, water jet won’t really get used in PVP.
  • The primary single-target rotation appears to rely on Frostbolt, Ice Lance on FOF procs (that come from casting frost bolt), and hard-casting FFB with Brain Freeze procs  (with the full cast time). We still have Frozen orb and icy veins as our primary DPS cooldowns (plus a level 90 talent that could either be active or passive). So, our single-target rotation won’t feel that much different, except that we lost a lot of mobility.
  • Frost will not multi-DOT for AOE, since we won’t have DOTs in a frost spec at all. I’m really not sure what they want frost’s AOE rotation to look like at this point. It will depend some upon whether or not the channeled Blizzard AOE is really viable. Which talents we choose will also primarily impact our AOE rotation more than our single-target rotation (both the level 75 and 100 talents include cleave/AOE talent options). We will have to do a lot of math during beta to figure out what to do with regards to AOE.
Posted in Beta Feedback, Mage, Warlords of Draenor, Written By Lissanna

Is the class always greener on the other side?

In my many years of playing World of Warcraft, I have spent a considerable amount of time as part of the theorycrafting community, especially related to druid class design. However, I turned my attention to the mage class for the first time in Mists of Pandaria and put my druid into hybernation from serious raiding (though I still do play my druid from time to time). In switching to a mage as my raiding main, I thought I would finally have the wonderful damage superiority that “pure” classes promised from their much greener hill on the other side of the hybrid vs. pure divide.

What I found, however, was just simply another class with the same problems, related to a lack of movement DPS, talent issues, outdated mechanics, and ability bloat. In my many years of being envious of the mage class, I quickly found that everything wasn’t all that I thought it would be. While I am still raiding on my mage, and haven’t dedicated much time to the druid this expansion, broadening my expertise to understanding the mechanics of two classes gave me a much better sense of perspective about the fact that every class in WOW has design limitations that can make it difficult or frustrating to live with on a day-to-day basis.

While I needed the change in perspective, and I don’t regret my class switch, I have overall been more selective in terms of what minor problems I’ve come to live with, versus understanding what major problems I think should still be addressed (such as healing mushroom’s development in early MOP for resto druids, and the continuing problem of the mage level 90 talents).

As we start to ramp up for another round of beta testing and feedback, I think it is still important to remember that a side-effect of theorycrafting and class balance is that other classes likely have just as many serious problems in this type of game. In addition, while classes all have strengths, and the game as a whole is substantially better than it used to be, it turns out that the class we play isn’t the only one that is potentially in need of fixing.

With that said, I really do look forward to picking apart both mage and druid weaknesses as we ramp up into the next expansion over the next many months. Just remember – that other classes don’t necessarily have things all that much better at the end of the day. The game balance as a whole, however, is still much better than it used to be in the dark days of Vanilla and Burning Crusade.

Posted in Cataclysm, Druid - General, Mage, Warlords of Draenor, Written By Lissanna

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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Frost Mage 5.4 PVE perspectives

With the chance to do some PTR testing for the most recent frost mage build, I wanted to highlight some of the changes. Since I don’t PVP, I will really focus on PVE aspects of the frost mage 5.4 changes. Since this is still on the test realm, it is likely that some aspects will change before the patch goes live.

New Mastery: Icicles

The biggest upcoming change is the removal of the original frost mastery (increased frost damage to frozen targets), and replacement with a new mastery (a portion of the damage from frostbolt and frostfire bolt is stored as icicles that will launch at the target when you hit ice lance. If you have 5 stored up, extra icicles will auto-fire at the target).

WoWScrnShot_072813_123542 Why a new mastery? The original mastery tended to be great in PVP, where your crowd control abilities allow for freezing your targets and unloading burst damage on your target. However, since bosses can’t be frozen, this proved to be problematic where mastery is not currently a great PVE stat. Since frost mages have easy-to-attain soft caps on both critical strike and haste from gear, this left PVP mages too powerful in high levels of gear, and PVE mages not powerful enough.

How do you increase the PVE value while decreasing the PVP value of the mastery? The only way to do it was to change the mastery.

 

What is Icicles? Lhivera has a nice two part series on both the original implementation of icicles and the updated version that addressed many of our original concerns.

Briefly, the current version of icicles does this:

  • Our pet gets a flat damage increase from mastery as a stat, and does not generate icicles. This is because the pet could generate a lot of low damage icicles that made icicles feel awkward.
  • So, only two spells generate icicles: Frostbolt and Frostfire Bolt. With PVE mages spending a lot of time hard-casting frostbolts, this won’t be problematic for PVE purposes. We will generate fairly frequent icicles and always benefit from the pet buff portion. This means that if Blizzard balances the numbers out correctly, mastery could increase in value for PVE frost mages in the next patch.
  • The icicles will auto-fire if you have a 5-stack. This means that under most circumstances, you should not be casting Ice Lance to launch icicles unless you have a FOF proc that increases the damage done by Ice Lance. The icicles will last in your storage “bucket” for up to 30 seconds before they will fall off unused. This should reduce the amount of wasted icicles in PVE compared to the original version.
  • Glyph of Ice Lance is being replaced with a new glyph that allows for icicle damage to also be split to a second target, increasing the value of mastery on cleave fights compared to the original version. This makes icicles valuable on cleave fights (though it is still important to note that none of our AOE spells generate icicles).
  • The changes to our mastery created a problem where we now had multiple ramp-up times, due to the combination of charging up both icicles and the frostbolt debuff. To address this, the frostbolt debuff was removed. Now, the debuff that reduces the target’s movement speed will stack, but it doesn’t impact the damage of our spells. The baseline damage of spells were adjusted as needed. This will ultimately help in target-swap fights where frost mages had the problem of having high ramp-up time.

In the end, icicles doesn’t really impact the PVE rotation in its current form. It isn’t really something you should have to worry too much about managing outside of situations where you may want to choose to delay Ice Lance casts to make the timing work with the rest of your rotation and allow for the ~3 seconds it takes for all 5 of the icicles to launch. If the number balancing is done well, this can also make mastery a valuable stat for PVE frost mages.

The bigger concerns now about icicles is how it impacts PVP play styles, where they are unlikely to want to hard-cast frostbolts to generate icicles.

Cosmetic Changes for Frost Mages

WoW_frost_mage

There are currently three major cosmetic changes for frost mages in the next patch (two of which you can see in the picture above).

  • First, the icicles mastery has a graphic. The 5 stored icicles show above your head, and fire off from above your head when launched or auto-firing.
  • Second, we got a new glyph that changes the water elemental pet into a new “unbound water elemental.” This is the first time we have been able to adjust the look of the water elemental pet.
  • Third, you can control how big your pet is. The glyph of water elemental no longer increases the size of your pet. Instead, you can choose between three pet sizes. The regular unglyphed size, the glyph that makes your pet smaller, or the glyph that makes your pet bigger. I find this set of changes to be really important to me, since my water elemental pet feels too big even though PVE encounters force me to take the water elemental pet glyph so my pet can cast while moving.

Overall, with the current PTR build, the frost mage feels pretty fun to play. There are still definitely problems that need to be addressed (especially related to how the mastery change impacts PVP viability). However, the developers responsiveness to fixing some of the original icicles problems makes frost a pretty fun PVE option in the next raid tier.

Posted in Mage, Patch 5.4, Written By Lissanna

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