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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
Tags: , , ,

Patch 5.4 Resto druid changes

Patch 5.4 will hit this Tuesday. Restoration druids underwent a number of changes in the last patch that will ultimately have large impacts on healing style. I have updated the blog version of the healing guide for patch day. The current version will remain on the druid forums until patch day. Sorry for the lack of content recently. All the patch day prep slowed down my ability to put out blog content. I should be back to my weekly posting schedule now that guide writing is done. Thanks to Juvenate of WTS Heals for the typo checking.  :)

There are still several major discussions going on in the druid community about what will be the “best” talents, playstyle, and gearing choices. So, in some places, I would expect various guides to disagree. When possible, I want to highlight what the disagreements are, so you can watch for what will end up working the best for you. We usually get an entire Beta cycle to discuss all of the changes internally amongst theorycrafters and guide writers, but Resto druids got hit with expansion-level changes in the most recent patch. Briefly, here are the highlights of what the resto changes look like, along with some of the details still left to be resolved:

  • Wild mushroom changes: Wild Mushroom only plants ONE shroom (total). It still absorbs rejuv overhealing. When you move your one shroom, it keeps that absorbed value (so, moving it has no real cost). The shroom placement has a 3 second cooldown to prevent spamming abuse. Depending on your glyph choices, you can either target shrooms at the feet of a person or directly on the ground using the targeting circle (SEE: glyph of the sprouting mushroom).

  • Glyph of Efflorescence is now fairly important for raiding druids. Glyph of lifebloom (the target swap glyph) was baked in baseline. This was replaced with a glyph that moved efflorescence from swiftmend to mushrooms. When your shroom is out, people standing near it are healed by efflorescence. You can now use swiftmend as emergency burst healing, instead of a vehicle for efflorescence placement.

  • Genesis is a new ability. It makes rejuv tick faster on all your targets. This is helpful when you need to speed up the healing from rejuv. There is still some debate as to when faster rejuvs (and faster priming of shrooms) may be better than having more people blanketed by rejuvs.

  • Innervate restores mana based on spirit, restoring at least 8% of mana. This slightly increases the value of spirit, though you should end up with plenty of spirit naturally from gearing. Mana regen in general usually isn’t much of a problem in later expansion gear.
  • Talent changes (many): Dream of Cenarius, heart of the wild, nature’s vigil, and soul of the forest have both undergone some changes for resto druids (mostly buffs for all four). Nature’s Swiftness is now baseline for resto druids, and was replaced with a new talent: Ysera’s Gift. With all the changes to the class, you will want to re-evaluate your talent choices and find the set of talents that work the best for you. Also, some talents play better with the Tier 16 4-piece set bonus, so as you gear up in Siege of Orgrimmar (SoO), you will need to keep an eye on what talent choices pair best together with your current gear set. There isn’t a terrible amount of agreement on some of the talent options, so you may have to play with them a little. I’ll try to keep track of what people are doing and adjust the talent section of the guide (and write up talent posts) as needed this raid tier.

  • You have the choice between mastery-heavy builds or haste-heavy builds, since the 13K haste breakpoint should be easily attainable in SoO. Mathematically, the two builds should pull similar numbers, but you may need to see if faster heals or bigger heals are better for your raid group makeup. Until the patch dust settles, this will still be under debate.

Overall healing style changes in 5.4:  The changes to the healing shroom spell are actually huge. You will now use shrooms as the center for your efflorescence. You can move the shroom along with the group during movement encounters. The changes to efflorescence, shrooms, and genesis overall make your AOE healing substantially stronger. When using the efflorescence glyph, you now change how swiftmend fits into your toolset (as a direct heal instead of the vehicle for an AOE heal). You will also have to watch your harmony mastery more if you find that you aren’t using swiftmend every time it comes off cooldown. You will need to adjust your talents to accommodate for the fairly major changes to healing playstyle, gearing, and the talents themselves.

Other Resto druid 5.4 patch resources:

So, in the next patch, are you going mastery or haste build, and what are the talents you’ll start with?

Posted in Patch 5.4, Patches, Restoration Healing Trees, Written By Lissanna

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

Guild Leadership Corner: Can raiding guilds benefit from virtual realms?

We know that Blizzard is playing around with a virtual server technology (based off the cross-realm zones) that would have several features:

  • Virtual servers would allow for multiple realms to be virtually linked together. So, my realm of Elune would be virtually linked to at least several other PVE servers to form a mega-realm.
  • You can easily raid current content with anyone on your same virtual server.
  • For guilds, this has the benefit of being able to join another guild on your “virtual” server, without having to pay money to transfer to the actual server.
  • Resources such as auction houses are also shared across the same virtual realm.
  • This builds off the cross-realm-zone technology that is currently used for many parts of the game that allow for cross-realm grouping of quests and 5-man dungeons. PVP guilds can also benefit from changes that increase the ease of cross-realm grouping for BGs and arena teams.

So, as an officer in a 25-man guild, my thoughts are about what virtual server technology and associated game support systems need to be in place to help raiding guilds maximize the benefits of this change:

  • There needs to be an easy way to recruit guild/raid members based on your virtual realm. This includes the need for new recruitment forums for each virtual realm, a better in-game recruitment system, and other recruitment supports to make it easy to find people to join guilds and find raiding groups. The realm-specific forum is almost always a better recruitment tool for my guild compared to the general recruitment forum (where every single guild in the US is trying to recruit people). So, we will need a recruitment forum for each virtual server to have a chance of raiding guilds being able to successfully recruit new members.
  • In-game chat tools used for guild/raid recruitment will also need to work across the whole virtual realm so you can find other people to join raids and guilds. It needs to be easy to communicate with other people on your virtual realm. This includes having chat channels like General and Trade tied across the whole virtual realm – even if it attracts trolling. We may also need a  new in-game chat channel (given the failing of the guild recruitment “tool”), to keep recruitment for guilds or PUG raids out of trade/general chat (e.g., have a recruitment in-game channel for guild recruitment, and a “grouping” channel for forming 5-mans, raids, or pvp teams). Having an increased number of topic-specific cross-realm chat channels will increase the ease of connecting with other like-minded people without overwhelming general & trade chat (e.g., people wanting to join a guild can join “looking for guild”, people looking for group can join “looking for group”).
  • The cost of transferring to a new virtual (or actual) realm needs to be significantly reduced. It currently costs $25 to transfer one character to a new server. It costs an additional $30 to faction change. The $25 to $55 real money cost to transfer to a new raiding guild (and upwards of a hundred dollars if you want to transfer multiple characters) is one of the bigger hurdles that have made it incredibly difficult to recruit members into 25-man raiding guilds outside of the most hardcore raiding. Even for 10-man guilds, transferring servers has a huge cost and a huge risk. The new cost of transferring virtual realms and faction changing needs to be significantly reduced – as the physical realm becomes less meaningful, the cost needs to reflect this change. With new virtual servers, changing to a new realm should be no more than $10, and faction changes should come down to about $15 or $20 at most. With Blizzard moving to selling vanity items (toys and transmog gear) for real money, reducing the transfer costs permanently (and allowing ease of moving to new guilds) can breathe new life back into the game without hurting Blizzard’s monetary bottom line.

In conclusion, the new virtual realm technology can potentially increase the ease of guild recruitment. However, the support systems and real life monetary costs associated with joining new raiding guilds also need to be adapted to fit this shift in technology. I really look forward to how virtual servers may make my job of guild recruitment easier. I just hope that Blizzard keeps guild recruitment in mind when they polish their virtual realm implementation. What do you think Blizzard needs to do to support guilds in this time of huge changes to server technology?

Posted in Guild Leadership, Patch 5.4, Written By Lissanna

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