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Mage - Warlords of Draenor Alpha Patch Notes Analysis

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Icy Veins asks the experts' opinions on their favorite class changes!

The Warlords of Draenor Alpha patch notes have been out just over a week now, but millions of players have already voiced strong opinions of the direction Blizzard is headed with the game in this coming expansion. Some class changes have received overwhelmingly positive feedback, while others have left many a player scratching their head. A few changes have even caused a substantial outcry of rage!


We've invited a handful of our class MVPs to share their opinions on the changes made to their respective top class. For this patch notes analysis topic, we have requested feedback from our resident experts on the projected changes being made to the Mage class. Vykina and Kuni have all been kind enough to share their thoughts on the upcoming Mage changes!

Vykina is one of the best Fire Mages and he raids in Method. Kuni reviews our Frost mage guides, raids with Midnight Sanctuary and is one of the best Frost mages around!

Blizzard Icon Mage WoD Alpha Changes

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Ability Pruning

  • Arcane Barrage now replaces Fire Blast for Arcane Mages.
  • Arcane Blast now replaces Frostfire Bolt for Arcane Mages.
  • Arcane Explosion is now available only to Arcane Mages.
  • Blizzard is now available only to Frost Mages.
  • Combustion now replaces Deep Freeze for Fire Mages.
  • Deep Freeze is now available only to Frost Mages.
  • Dragon’s Breath now replaces Cone of Cold for Fire Mages.
  • Evocation is now available only to Arcane Mages.
  • Flamestrike is now available only to Fire Mages.
  • Polymorph's cosmetic variants are now all learned as spells instead of having some as a Minor Glyph that alters the visuals of Polymorph: Sheep. All of these variants (except for the automatically learned one, Polymorph: Sheep) are now grouped in a Polymorph variants flyout in the Spellbook.
  • Pyromaniac has been removed.
  • Frost Armor is now available only to Frost Mages and is now a passive effect.
  • Ice Lance now replaces Fire Blast and is only available to Frost Mages.
  • Mage Armor is now available only to Arcane Mages and is now a passive effect.
  • Mana Gem has been removed.
  • Molten Armor is now available only to Fire Mages and is now a passive effect.
  • Shatter is now available only to Frost Mages.

Crowd Control and Diminishing Returns

  • Dragon’s Breath’s Disoriented effect now shares Diminishing Returns with all other Mesmerize effects.
  • Ice Ward’s Frozen effect now shares Diminishing Returns with all other Root effects.
  • Improved Counterspell has been removed.
  • Presence of Mind can no longer turn Polymorph into an instant-cast spell.

Buffs and Debuffs

  • Slow no longer slows the target’s casting speed by 50%. Additionally, Slow can now affect more than one target at a time.

Raid Utility Balance

  • Amplify Magic is a new spell available to Mages. Amplify Magic amplifies the effects of helpful magic, increasing all healing received by 20% for all party and raid members within 100 yards, and lasts 6 seconds with a 2-minute cooldown.

Class Changes


The Mage class has good specialization distinction when it comes to their single-target rotations, but utility and area-of-effect spells were heavily shared between specializations. Commonly, these spells were redundant as well. We made many of their spells specialization-specific (as described in Ability Pruning above). And probably most significant, we made changes to several existing Talents.

Presence of Mind was extremely strong for instant CC, which we wanted to curtail. Rather than completely remove Presence of Mind or make it not affect CC abilities, we made it a base Arcane spell, where we don't expect that it will be a problem, since Arcane has less CC than the other Mage specs already. In its place, we've added a new talent, Evanesce.
  • Presence of Mind is no longer a Talent, and is instead learned by Arcane Mages.
  • Evanesce is a new Talent available at level 15. Evanesce: Fade into the nether, avoiding all attacks against you for 3 seconds. This spell may be cast while a cast-time spell is in progress and is not on the global cooldown. Replaces Ice Block. 45-second cooldown.
Going along with our goals to reduce cooldown stacking across all of the classes, we decided to remove Alter Time's DPS contribution. Alter Time has a number of clever movement and utility uses, but in practice it was mostly being used for additional uptime of offensive cooldowns. Mages also had many redundant forms of survival utility, so we moved a utility-only version of Alter Time into the Talent tree, replacing Temporal Shield.
  • Temporal Shield has been removed.
  • Alter Time is now a level-30 Talent, replacing Temporal Shield.
    • Alter Time now lasts for 15 seconds (up from 6 seconds), has a 90-second cooldown (down from 3 minutes), and no longer affects the casting Mage’s mana, buffs, or debuffs.
A few of the abilities reset by Cold Snap were made spec-specific, or could be overridden with Talents, so we expanded what it can affect to compensate.
  • Cold Snap now also resets the cooldown of Presence of Mind, Dragon's Breath, and Evanesce.
The Mage Bomb level-75 Talent row, the Bomb row, was also problematic. We chose to add the Bombs to all Mages' rotations in order to spice them up a bit, to provide rotational variety. That succeeded, and we're overall happy with how they interact with your rotation in a single-target situation, but they also came with the prospect of multi-dotting (applying your damage-over-time spell to many enemies, individually), which we don't feel is an appropriate fit for Mages. Additionally, in order to make all 3 Bombs useful to all specializations, we had to lose some of their spec-specific perks. And, even more importantly, many Mages did not like DoT gameplay at all.

In order to solve all of these problems, we decided to merge the 3 current Bomb Talents into one that changes based on spec. That allows us to reintroduce spec-specific perks to each Bomb, and makes room for some non-DoT alternatives.
  • Nether Tempest, Living Bomb, and Frost Bomb are now available to their corresponding specialization only, and share the left Talent slot.
    • Nether Tempest can now only be on 1 target at a time (down from unlimited), but its secondary damage now hits all targets in range (up from only 1), and deals 100% of the primary damage (up from 50%).
    • Living Bomb can once again be applied to multiple targets, can be spread by Inferno Blast, and has a normal 1.5-second cooldown. More of its damage has been moved into its explosion.
    • Frost Bomb has been redesigned. It now lasts 12 seconds, has no cooldown, and explodes every time the target is hit by the Mage's Ice Lance while frozen. The damage per explosion has been reduced by 75% to compensate.
  • Unstable Magic is a new Talent available at level 75, in the middle Talent slot. Unstable Magic: Arcane Blast, Fireball, and Frostbolt have a 25% chance to explode on impact, dealing an additional 50% damage to the target, and all other enemies within 8 yards.
  • The right level-75 Talent slot is now filled by a new Talent that varies by specialization.
    • Supernova: Cause a pulse of Arcane energy around the target enemy or ally, dealing Arcane damage to all enemies within 8 yards, and knocking them into the air. If the primary target is an enemy, they take 100% increased damage. Replaces Frost Nova. 25-second cooldown. Instant cast.
    • Blast Wave: Cause an explosion of fiery force around the target enemy or ally, dealing Fire damage to all enemies within 8 yards, and dazing them, reducing their movement speed by 70% for 4 seconds. If the primary target is an enemy, they take 100% increased damage. Replaces Frost Nova. 25-second cooldown. Instant cast.
    • Ice Nova: Cause a whirl of icy wind around the target enemy or ally, dealing Frost damage to all enemies within 8 yards, and freezing them for 4 seconds. If the primary target is an enemy, they take 100% increased damage. Replaces Frost Nova. 20-second cooldown. Instant cast.
One of the most problematic Talent rows in the game has been the Mage level-90 row. The primary theme of the row was mana, which only Arcane Mages actually cared about. Bonus damage was added in, making it functional for all Mages, but muddled in its goals. Additionally, some of them just weren't fun to play with. We've revised the row to be purely about damage, and made them have less maintenance cost. Arcane Mages will have enough mana regeneration without these Talents to perform well.
  • Invocation has been removed.
  • Mirror Image is now a level-90 Talent, replacing Invocation.
    • Mirror Images now inherit 50% of the Mage’s Spell Power (up from 5%).
    • Glyph of Mirror Image has been removed and its effects have been incorporated into Mirror Image.
  • Rune of Power no longer replaces Evocation, no longer increases mana regeneration, and now lasts 3 minutes (up from 1 minute).
  • Incanter's Ward has been removed.
  • Incanter's Flow is a new level-90 Talent, replacing Incanter's Ward.
    • Incanter's Flow: Magical energy flows through you, increasing all spell damage done by 5% per stack. While in combat, the magical energy builds up to 5 stacks over 5 seconds and then diminishes down to 1 stack over 5 seconds. This cycle repeats every 10 seconds.
Frost Mages enjoyed newfound PvE viability in Mists of Pandaria, and we intend to continue that into the future. However, we do want to clean up some rough spots, especially around their valuing of secondary stats, and the amount of instant-cast spells in their rotation. The Frost Armor and Shatter changes increase the amount of Haste/Critical chance that they can acquire on gear before they start hitting soft caps. The Shatter change also lowers the value of Critical Strike for a bit. The changes to the level-75 Talent row meant that having a Bomb spell is no longer guaranteed, so we changed the way that Brain Freeze is triggered. We also changed Brain Freeze's effect, in order to give Frost mages another cast-time spell in their rotation.
  • Frost Armor now grants 15% chance to Multistrike instead of 7% Haste.
  • Glyph of Frostfire Bolt is now available only to Fire Mages.
  • Glyph of Icy Veins now causes Icy Veins to provide 75% chance to Multistrike, instead of 20% Haste.
  • Shatter now multiplies Critical Strike chance by 1.5 (down from 2).
  • The Brain Freeze effect no longer makes Frostfire Bolt instant, but it can now stack to 2. It also no longer triggers from the Bomb Talents, and instead has a 10% chance to trigger from Frostbolt casts. Each Multistrike of Frostbolt increases that cast's chance by an additional 45%. (Total of 100% on double-Multistrikes).
In order to make room for more Haste effects to apply to Arcane Blast, we raised its cast time and damage slightly. We also made Arcane Charges last longer, to aid in questing and encounters.
  • Arcane Blast's cast time has been increased to 2.25 seconds (up from 2 seconds), and its damage has been increased by 12.5% to compensate.
  • Arcane Charges now last 15 seconds (up from 10 seconds).


1. What is your overall impression of Blizzard's changes to the Mage class?


Vykina (Arcane/Fire): It's nice that they are finally looking into the issues Mage's have with a majority of their talent tiers, however I'm still not convinced that there will be much of an improvement, especially on the level 90 tier, but hopefully this will be made apparent throughout the Alpha+Beta. For me personally it's a bit of a disappointment that we will no longer have multidot capabilities since almost every other caster has some form of multidot, it feels like a bit of a disadvantage so I'm hoping for some AoE improvements across the Mage specs. Since a majority of our changes are talent based I can't comment too much on the gameplay direction of the Mage specs until we are able to test them for ourselves.

Kuni (Frost): From a Frost Mage standpoint, these are some of the best notes we've had. Blizzard has publically stated that they're going to push Frost to work in PVE, and I see a lot of that. Their work on making sure our stats don't cap out, the changes to the level 90 talents, and granting us some interaction with the Water Elemental address most of our complaints. On top of that, we seem to be getting some work done on our visual aspects, as seen in the new Frost Nova animation.

2. Which changes do you think are the best and why?


Vykina (Arcane/Fire): My favourite change is the changes to AoE spells, currently all specs have access to every AoE spell which never made much sense, I think it's good for both spec identity and balancing for each spec to have it's own AoE spell rather than just using the one of three that does the most damage. I'm also very happy with Living Bomb being reverted to having most of it's damage in the explosion and not in the ticks as well as being spreadable again via Inferno Blast. It's also interesting to see that they gave us a defensive raid cooldown, although I still believe it would have been better to cut more of other DPS' raidwides than add a new one.

Kuni (Frost): The best change is clearly the overhaul of the level 90 talents, but that's across the whole class. To Frost specifically, I think the changes to Shatter and Frost Armour are the best. The biggest headache has been the ease of which we can cap three of the four DPS stats, and these changes will go a long way towards that. Improved Blizzard is also something I've wanted for a long time. Frost's AOE was fairly bursty, but outside of those 10 seconds, you weren't too amazing. Also Comet Storm, because it's awesome.

3. Which changes do you think are the worst and why?


Vykina (Arcane/Fire): I'm still really disappointed with some of the talent tiers honestly. The 90 tier has kept Rune of Power but buffed it's duration from 1 minute to 3, duration is not the issue with this spell and they could have tweaked it in better ways. Along side this they replaced Incanter's Ward with a constantly bouncing damage modifier that is passive and averages out to be the same damage increase as Rune of Power, so yet again we are stuck with 2 boring talents that just increase your spell damage; the other choice being Mirror Image which I'm assuming will just be a straight up burst cooldown, I don't see how this fits with the design of the other two talents.

The 100 tier doesn't look too promising either, Focusing Crystal is an interesting idea but its going to end up being another frustrating positional +dmg spell just like Rune of Power. The cooldown extending talent is something you'd expect from a tier set and the 'split area damage' talent only really seems interesting for Arcane since it's integrating with Arcane Charges, just seems like a spell to press on cooldown for the other two depending on the number pass.

Kuni (Frost): The worst change, in my mind, is the loss of Alter Time as a DPS cooldown. It was a fairly neat spell, but I understand fully why it had to go. I do worry about its current incarnation in the patch notes, though. It suffers the same issue as the original Temporal Shield; it doesn't help you survive the damage currently going out, it just returns lost health after the fact. I guess we'll see how that plays out.

4. How would you alter any of the existing changes?


Vykina (Arcane/Fire): Remove or rework Rune of Power and Incanter's Flow, talents that are just increasing our damage by x% don't add anything to the gameplay, there is a step in the right direction though with buffed Mirror Image being added onto this tier, still hope? I'd also scrap Focusing Crystal completely, interesting mechanic on paper but in practice it will be Rune of Power v2. They removed Temporal Shield and put Alter Time in its place with a 90sec cooldown, I would much rather have seen Flameglow be cut over Temporal Shield, adding more thought to this tier's talent choice in my opinion.

Kuni (Frost): I'd only make a few minor changes. I'd love to see Frost Bomb go instant, despite losing a single Ice Lance worth of time on it. The ability to throw it up while moving to use up Fingers of Frost would be quite welcome. I would also like to see Rune of Power's duration only tick down if you're on that specific rune. That would at least reward careful placement before the pull that could potentially last the whole fight duration. I don't share the community's general hatred of Rune of Power. I feel it can be made to work, as long as it's not the best option outside of Patchwerk style fights, or fights you can Blink back and forth between two set placements without recasting them. The last thing, I feel Flameglow needs some help. Taking it means you have no short cooldown defensive, and that makes a lot of Mages feel almost naked.

5. What changes would you like to see in WoD?


Vykina (Arcane/Fire): I'd really like to see a true fix to Fire's scaling issues that we saw all the way through Mists of Pandaria, they tried adding Inferno Blast which barely helped in lower gear levels and then towards BiS gear you rarely use it. Now they have added as a leveling perk that causes your Fireball to gain crit chance every time it doesn't crit, I just feel like this is another band-aid fix similar to Inferno Blast rather than putting some effort into making the spec more consistent at all gear levels. Since we lost our multidotting capabilities, I'd also like to see at least one or more of our specs have a decent AoE damage output, it would be a pretty sad state for us to be just single target cannons.

Kuni (Frost): Blizzard has covered quite a number of the issues I've seen in the spec already. I'd like to see Splitting Ice and Water Elemental glyphs go baseline, as I feel it's a bit odd that Frost has to spend a glyph slot to get its cleave ability, and have the pet not act as stupid as it does currently. Other than that, just some fun cosmetic glyphs to replace what has been lost with the removal of the Polymorph glyphs.

Patch Notes Last Updated - 24 April 2014

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      Level Talent 1 Talent 2 Talent 3 15 Castigation Twist of Fate Schism 30 Body and Soul Masochism Angelic Feather 45 Shield Discipline Mindbender Power Word: Solace 60 Psychic Voice Dominant Mind Shining Force 75 Sins of the Many *new* Contrition *new* Shadow Covenant *new* 90 Purge the Wicked Divine Star Halo 100 Lenience *new* Luminous Barrier *new* Evangelism Holy
      Level Talent 1 Talent 2 Talent 3 15 Enlightenment Trail of Light Enduring Renewal 30 Angelic Feather Perseverance Angel's Mercy *new* 45 Cosmic Ripple *new* Guardian Angel Afterlife 60 Psychic Voice *new* Censure Shining Force 75 Surge of Light Binding Heal Circle of Healing 90 Benediction Divine Star Halo 100 Light of the Naaru Apotheosis Holy Word: Salvation *new* Shadow
      Level Talent 1 Talent 2 Talent 3 15 Fortress of the Mind Shadowy Insight Shadow Word: Void 30 Body and Soul San'layn Mania 45 Twist of Fate Misery Dark Void *new* 60 Last Word *new* Mind Bomb Psychic Horror 75 Auspicious Spirits Shadow Word: Death Shadow Crash 90 Lingering Insanity Mindbender Void Torrent *new* 100 Legacy of the Void Dark Ascension *new* Surrender to Madness Rogue [Return to Top]
      Assassination
      Level Talent 1 Talent 2 Talent 3 15 Master Poisoner Elaborate Planning Blindside 30 Nightstalker Subterfuge Master Assassin *new* 45 Vigor Deeper Stratagem Marked for Death 60 Leeching Poison *new* Cheat Death Elusiveness 75 Internal Bleeding Iron Wire Prey on the Weak 90 Venom Rush Toxic Blade Exsanguinate 100 Poison Bomb *new* Hidden Blades *new* Crimson Tempest Outlaw
      Level Talent 1 Talent 2 Talent 3 15 Weaponmaster Quick Draw Ghostly Strike 30 Acrobatic Strikes Retractable Hook *new* Hit and Run 45 Vigor Deeper Stratagem Marked for Death 60 Iron Stomach Cheat Death Elusiveness 75 Dirty Tricks Blinding Powder *new* Prey on the Weak 90 Loaded Dice *new* Alacrity Slice and Dice 100 Dancing Steel *new* Blade Rush *new* Killing Spree Subtlety
      Level Talent 1 Talent 2 Talent 3 15 Weaponmaster Find Weakness Gloomblade 30 Nightstalker Subterfuge Shadow Focus 45 Vigor Deeper Stratagem Marked for Death 60 Soothing Darkness Cheat Death Elusiveness 75 Shot in the Dark *new* Night Terrors *new* Prey on the Weak 90 Dark Shadow Alacrity Enveloping Shadows 100 Master of Shadows Secret Technique *new* Shuriken Tornado *new* Shaman [Return to Top]
      Elemental
      Level Talent 1 Talent 2 Talent 3 15 Exposed Elements *new* Echo of the Elements *new* Elemental Blast *new* 30 Aftershock Master of the Elements Totem Mastery 45 Spirit Wolf *new* Earth Shield Static Charge *new* 60 High Voltage *new* Storm Elemental Liquid Magma Totem 75 Nature's Guardian Ancestral Guidance Wind Rush Totem *new* 90 Earthen Rage Primal Elementalist Icefury *new* 100 Unlimited Power *new* Stormkeeper Ascendance Enhancement
      Level Talent 1 Talent 2 Talent 3 15 Boulderfist Hot Hand Lightning Shield 30 Landslide Forceful Winds *new* Totem Mastery *new* 45 Spirit Wolf *new* Earth Shield Static Charge *new* 60 Searing Assault Hailstorm Overcharge 75 Nature's Guardian *new* Feral Lunge Wind Rush Totem 90 Crashing Storm Fury of Air Sundering 100 Elemental Spirits *new* Earthen Spike Ascendance Restoration
      Level Talent 1 Talent 2 Talent 3 15 Torrent Undulation Unleash Life 30 Echo of the Elements Deluge Earth Shield 45 Spirit Wolf *new* Earthgrab Totem Static Charge *new* 60 Ancestral Vigor Earthen Wall Totem Ancestral Protection Totem 75 Nature's Guardian *new* Graceful Spirit Wind Rush Totem 90 Flash Flood *new* Downpour *new* Cloudburst Totem 100 High Tide Wellspring Ascendance Warlock [Return to Top]
      Affliction
      Level Talent 1 Talent 2 Talent 3 15 Nightfall Drain Soul *new* Deathbolt *new*aw 30 Writhe in Agony Absolute Corruption Siphon Life 45 Demon Skin Burning Rush Dark Pact 60 Sow the Seeds Phantom Singularity Vile Taint *new* 75 Darkfury *new* Mortal Coil Demonic Circle 90 Shadow Embrace *new* Haunt Grimoire of Sacrifice 100 Soul Conduit Creeping Death *new* Dark Soul: Misery *new* Demonology
      Level Talent 1 Talent 2 Talent 3 15 Dreadlash *new* Demonic Strength *new* Biliescourge Bombers *new* 30 Demonic Calling Power Siphon *new* Doom *new* 45 Demon Skin Burning Rush Dark Pact 60 From the Shadows *new* Soul Strike *new* Summon Vilefiend *new* 75 Darkfury *new* Mortal Coil Demonic Circle 90 Soul Conduit Inner Demons *new* Grimoire: Felguard *new* 100 Sacrificed Souls Demonic Consumption *new* Nether Portal *new* Destruction
      Level Talent 1 Talent 2 Talent 3 15 Flashover *new* Eradication Soul Fire 30 Reverse Entropy *new* Internal Combustion Shadowburn 45 Demon Skin Burning Rush Dark Pact 60 Inferno *new* Fire and Brimstone Cataclysm 75 Darkfury *new* Mortal Coil Demonic Circle 90 Roaring Blaze Grimoire of Supremacy Grimoire of Sacrifice 100 Soul Conduit Channel Demonfire Dark Soul: Instability *new* Warrior [Return to Top]
      Battle Shout (raid buff) is back. Arms
      New Abilities
      Sweeping Strikes New Mastery
      Mastery: Deep Wounds (Deep Wounds) Level Talent 1 Talent 2 Talent 3 15 War Machine *new* Sudden Death Skullsplitter *new* 30 Double Time Impending Victory *new* Storm Bolt 45 Massacre *new* Fervor of Battle Rend 60 Second Wind Bounding Stride Defensive Stance 75 Collateral Damage  *new* Warbreaker *new* Cleave 90 In For The Kill *new* Avatar Deadly Calm *new* 100 Anger Management Dreadnaught *new* Ravager Fury
      Level Talent 1 Talent 2 Talent 3 15 War Machine Endless Rage Fresh Meat 30 Double Time Impending Victory *new* Storm Bolt 45 Inner Rage Sudden Death *new* Furious Slash *new* 60 Furious Charge Bounding Stride Warpaint 75 Carnage Massacre *new* Frothing Berserker 90 Meat Cleaver *new* Dragon Roar Bladestorm 100 Reckless Abandon Anger Management *new* Siegebreaker *new* Protection
      Level Talent 1 Talent 2 Talent 3 15 Into the Fray Punish *new* Impending Victory 30 Crackling Thunder Bounding Stride Safeguard 45 Best Served Cold Unstoppable Force *new* Dragon Roar *new* 60 Indomitable Never Surrender *new* Bolster *new* 75 Menace *new* Rumbling Earth *new* Storm Bolt 90 Booming Voice Vengeance Devastator 100 Anger Management Heavy Repercussions Ravager
    • By Stan
      The most recent Beta Build 26812 includes Frost Death Knight & Brewmaster Monk talent updates. Check out the highlights!
      We updated our Battle for Azeroth Class Changes to correspond with all changes listed below, and you can find more information about Battle for Azeroth by visiting our Expansion Hub. 
      Demon Hunter
      Vengeance
      Chaos Brand (new passive): Your Fire damage brands the target, increasing magic damage taken by 5%. Death Knight
      Frost
      Pillar of Frost is again baseline. Cooldown reduced to 45 seconds (from 1 min). Shattering Strikes (level 56 talent) removed. Freezing Fog (level 100 talent) removed. Cold Heart is a new level 56 talent. Frostscythe is now a level 60 talent (was 90). Frozen Pulse is a new level 60 talent. Glacial Advance is now a level 90 talent (was 60). Icecap is now a level 100 talent (was 60). Obliteration is a new level 100 talent, substituting the old Obliteration. Blizzard (Source)
      Lots of feedback on the first round of changes. Here’s the second iteration: Pillar of Frost
      Previous changes to Pillar of Frost have been reverted. While the ability is quite simple in a vacuum (20% damage increase with no other mechanics), there were clearly a lot of players who were uncomfortable with the idea of removing a core ability that’s been around for so long. 

      After reading all the feedback and examining the ability’s place on the spec, we think the ability did provide a couple valuable things to the Frost rotation. One is Pillar of Frost is a window to play around – it allowed you to occasionally pool/spend your resources for a gain in a way that otherwise Frost doesn’t really have baseline. Additionally, it was a damage amp that you could/would want to line up cooldowns for – Remorseless Winter, Frostwyrm’s Fury, etc. Straightforward, but felt good to use.

      Pillar of Frost is now back, at 45 sec cooldown and 15 sec duration – shorter cooldown but same uptime. Since it’s providing some useful gameplay direction for the rotation, we’re leaning into it more and making it available a little more often. Additionally, to give it just a little more texture and gameplay, its damage bonus now starts at 15% and increases by 1% per Rune spent while it’s active. Pillar usually ends with a 25% damage bonus or more. Talent Changes
      Glacial Advance now costs 30 Runic Power (instead of 1 Rune), has a 6 sec cooldown (down from 15 sec), and also applies Razorice to all enemies hit. Glacial Advance overlapped a lot with Frostscythe in both use and cost, and we’re looking to differentiate it so it can find its own use case. Cold Heart has replaced Shattering Strikes. It’s basically the same as the legendary but without the stun, and provides the spec’s talent tree with some single-target burst. Obliteration is mostly back to its live design, but it’s now a passive, and triggered while Pillar of Frost is active. With Pillar of Frost being back baseline, we still want to avoid a setup where casing 3 self-buff cooldown consecutively was possible (Pillar of Frost, Empower Rune Weapon, Obliteration, in any order). We're still iterating a bit on Obliteration's cost reduction mechanic - it has some slightly awkward effects on resources which we'd like to make feel better. Current talent layout:
      Level 60: Avalanche, Frozen Pulse (now requires fewer than 3 full Runes instead of fewer than 2), Frostscythe Level 90: Gathering Storm, Glacial Advance, Frostwyrm's Fury Level 100: Icecap (same as live, affecting Pillar of Frost), Obliteration, Breath of Sindragosa Notes:
      Icy Talons now triggers from Breath of Sindragosa, since it’s replacing your Frost Strike for a period of time. Icebound Fortitude’s damage reduction was increased to 30% for both Frost/Unholy specs As always, thanks for the continued feedback and we expect to hear more from you all.
      Level Talent 1 Talent 2 Talent 3 56 Inexorable Assault Icy Talons Cold Heart *new* 57 Runic Attenuation Murderous Efficiency Horn of Winter 58 Winter is Coming Asphyxiate *new* Blinding Sleet 60 Avalanche Frozen Pulse *new* Frostscythe 75 Permafrost Wraith Walk *new* Death Pact *new* 90 Gathering Storm Glacial Advance Frostwyrm's Fury *new* 100 Icecap Obliteration *new* Breath of Sindragosa Hunter
      Marksmanship
      Aimed Shot cast time reduced to 2.5 seconds. Steady Shot cast time reduced to 1.8 seconds. When you have no pets summoned (Lone Wolf),  Command Pet changes into Survival of the Fittest. Reduces all damage you take by 20% for 6 sec. Blizzard (Source)
      Marksmanship Hunters,
      Hello again, a few notes this morning.
      - Aimed Shot should still be a 12 second recharge time before Haste, I'm unsure why some people are reporting it is showing up as 10 seconds for them. Is this still happening after the build that went up yesterday?
      - After lots of discussion and reading feedback and many dungeon runs and raid testing and questing, we have decided that we're going to changed Aimed Shot to 2.5 second cast time, and Steady Shot to 1.75 second cast time.
      - Regarding Lone Wolf and Pet Utility, if you have your active pet out, the Command Pet button in your spellbook should change into whatever your pet's special ability is, such as Primal Rage. If you dismiss your pet as a Marksmanship Hunter and opt into Lone Wolf, Command Pet should change into Survival of the Fittest as a cooldown you can use that reduces the damage you take by 20%. This looks to have some issues currently, and will be resolved in a future build.
      Thanks for the continued feedback on this thread and others.
      Monk
      Brewmaster
      Gift of the Mists (level 45 talent) removed. Elusive Dance (level 100 talent) removed. Spitfire is a new level 45 talent. Guard is a new level 100 talent. Blizzard (Source)
      Various things to expect next build:
      New talent: Guard (replacing Elusive Dance on L100). "Guard against future attacks, causing the next X damage you Stagger to instead be prevented." 30s cooldown.
      (The Guard Honor Talent will be renamed).
      New talent: Spitfire (replacing Gift of the Mists on L45). "Tiger Palm has a 25% chance to reset the cooldown of Breath of Fire."
      Part of the value of Black Ox Brew is being moved baseline, by lengthening its cooldown to 2 minutes, and speeding up the baseline recharge time of Brews. This should help the row be more competitive, without losing total Brew charges.
      Ironskin Brew's duration will come up to 7, also freeing up more Brew charges.
      Blackout Combo no longer buffs Purifying Brew. This usage wound up mostly being a trap, and 4 modes still a good amount of choice for the talent.
      Gift of the Ox healing increased about 30%. We expect the overall spawn rate to be lower than Legion, and this helps make up for that.
      Balancing is still preliminary, but a few tweaks on that front:
      HP reduced for Brewmaster by around 10%. Brewmaster's heavy resistance to killing spikes means they're not a tank that needs as high an HP pool. This does have the side effect of making Ox orbs spawn slightly more often.
      Stagger's effectiveness against Magic brought back up to 35%.
      Level Talent 1 Talent 2 Talent 3 15 Eye of the Tiger Chi Wave Chi Burst 30 Celerity Chi Torpedo Tiger's Lust 45 Light Brewing Spitfire *new* Black Ox Brew 60 Tiger Tail Sweep *new* Summon Black Ox Statue Ring of Peace 75 Bob and Weave *new* Healing Elixir Dampen Harm 90 Special Delivery Rushing Jade Wind Invoke Niuzao, the Black Ox 100 High Tolerance Guard *new* Blackout Combo Mistweaver
      Renewing Mist now has 2 charges and Uplifting Trance has been removed. Blizzard (Source)
      Next build will try 2 charges on Renewing Mist, and Uplifting Trance removed.
      A little background for interest:
      We try to be really careful about adding charges to baseline spells, since it's a higher-complexity mechanic than simply having a cooldown. Essentially every spell is slightly more efficient with charges, since you don't get the little bit of slippage when the cooldown comes up each time, and you can better sync it with other effects. So it's always an attractive ask, because adding charges to anything improves spec performance. Renewing Mist is a better case due to bad feeling of every second lost slightly reducing Vivify efficiency for 20s, and this also helps the weirdness of wanting to start ramping it up 20s before any pull.
      Uplifting Trance was added in Legion to try to give something that enforced a little more spell variance (pushing Vivify to top priority sometimes and not other times). By now, there are so many more spell interactions contributing to the "weaving" part of Mistweaving (Essence Font buffs other spells, Soothing Mist empowers other spells, Renewing Mist improves Vivify, etc.) that button choice is richer without sticking a proc in there. Since other things control when you want to use Vivify, this just feels like random variance that you can't control.
      Paladin
      Retribution
      Art of War is now baseline. Blade of Wrath (level 30 talent) now increases the frequency of Art of War resets and cause its proc to also increase the damage of the next Blade of Justice by 25%. Blizzard (Source)
      Hey all,
      Since the first round of changes to Retribution early on in alpha, we've been letting the spec settle into a steady-state, but have been very much keeping it in mind. Like many have suggested, the spec is almost all the way there, but is missing a little bit baseline.
      Blade of Wrath
      Blade of Wrath's mechanic is becoming baseline, named Art of War: Your auto attacks have a chance to reset the cooldown of Blade of Justice. Any many correctly pointed out, this is a sort of unpredictability that the spec needed in its baseline rotation.
      Blade of Wrath, the talent, will now increase the frequency of Art of War resets and cause its proc to also increase the damage of the next Blade of Justice by 25%. Numbers are pending tuning, but the gameplay is there.
      Divine Purpose
      Divine Purpose's proc chance has been reduced to 15% (down from 20%), but it now also increases the damage and healing of that free Holy Power spender by 20%.
      The entire value of this talent was in the free Holy Power proc, which is a huge swing on button presses and pacing, but which neither of its talent match-ups provide. This change reduces that difference slightly and gives Divine Purpose a little more nuance to its gameplay – now you may consider saving or waiting for that proc to use on a different Holy Power spender from usual.
      Thanks for the patience and continued feedback.
      Previous Talent Changes
      Beta Build 26788 Talent Changes Beta Build 26734 Talent Changes Beta Build 26707 Talent Changes Beta Build 26624 Talent Changes Beta Build 26567 Talent Changes Beta Build 26530 Talent Changes
    • By Stan
      8.0 PTR servers have been updated with the Legion Artifact retirement questline. Artifact traits will no longer function when the pre-patch goes live and here's a preview of the questline. This article contains spoilers.
      The cutscene is still missing voiceovers and it's only available to Alliance players on PTR.
      The Speaker's Call
      I been travelin' the land, seekin' out anyone who might know how ta heal Azeroth. I've consulted ancient sages, druids, shamans... from dragons ta titan keepers. Nobody's seen anythin' like this before.
      Went ta Karazhan ta speak with Khadgar. Studyin' those old tomes o' his, we came up with an idea. No tellin' if it's gonna work, but we gotta try. Come ta Silithus. Meet me at the wound. Time is runnin' out fer Azeroth, <Name>.
      The Power in Our Hands
      That sword of Sargeras is surgin' with dark energies. They're seepin' into Azeroth's heart like poison. The blade's power must be snuffed out. The Pillars o' Creation could do it, but they're keepin' the tomb sealed. So we need other vessels capable o' harnessin' vast energies. Vessels like those artifact weapons you and the other champions wield. It's a risk, <Name>. We don't know what Sargeras' power will do ta those weapons. But unless we act now, the heart of Azeroth is sure ta die.
      A cinematic plays, where you and the other champions sacrifice your Artifacts to draw the surging energies from the sword.
      The sword grows dark! I can hear Azeroth's sufferin' abate... If only a little. Ye did good, hero. Bought our world some time. But we must find a way ta fully heal this wound. No matter what happens between the Alliance and Horde, do not forget yer duty on Azeroth!
    • By Starym
      Legion is coming to an end very soon, and Battle for Azeroth isn't quite here yet, so what better time to look back at this and previous expansions. Method have been doing just this in the past weeks, obviously focusing on what they know best, aka top tier raiding, with many videos covering WoW's premier PvE activity (for now at least, with M+ knocking at that door).
      So, we start off with a Legion raiding overview as well as a deeper look into the most difficult boss of the expansion, Kil'jaeden, who managed to survive 19 days, a full 8 longer than the next boss (Gul'dan), and why he was both the best and worst boss of Legion.
       
      Then we go even further back, sticking to raid bosses and the ranking thereof, as the whole raid team choose the top 3 best bosses of Warlords of Draenor, and then expand to the top 5 bosses of all time!
       
      So, what do you think of their choices?
    • By Stan
      Blizzard released a new Dev Watercooler today with information about the ongoing WoW: Classic development. Classic servers will run on Patch 1.12: Drums of War, because it represents the most complete version of the classic experience. Devs are hard at work to make the modern client compatible with the classic data.
      Blizzard (Source)
      Greetings! Development of World of Warcraft Classic is underway, and we’re very excited to share some of the challenges and solutions we’re working on. As we mentioned last BlizzCon, the process of restoring the classic game is not straightforward, and it’s important to us to take the time and effort to get it right—this includes poring over numerous game versions, data, and code; meticulously scrutinizing all the changes we’ve made over the years. Rest assured: The WoW Classic team is hard at work making it a reality, and we’re at a point in development where we’re ready to share some of the things we’ve been working on.
      WOW CLASSIC: FIRST PROTOTYPE
      The first—and among the most important—decision we had to make was which version of the game to focus on. As many of you have noted, the classic period was two years long and full of changes. Core features like Battlegrounds were introduced in patches after WoW’s original launch, and class design similarly changed over time. After careful consideration, we decided on Patch 1.12: Drums of War as our foundation, because it represents the most complete version of the classic experience.
      Once we had our starting point, we began taking stock of what we had in the source code and what we could make available, which included restoring the original development database from archival backups. After stitching various key pieces together, we had a locally rebuilt version of Patch 1.12 running internally. The team could create characters and do basic questing and leveling—and dying, which we did many times. For testing purposes. Obviously.
      Our initial runs exposed a few (expected) issues: the game sometimes crashed, didn’t recognize our modern video cards, and was incompatible with our current login system. That first pass also couldn’t support any of our modern security and anti-cheating capabilities. Clearly we had a lot of work to do to make WoW Classic live up to the Blizzard standard of quality, and deliver the experience players want.
      THE PATH FORWARD: SECOND PROTOTYPE
      Speaking of engineering, World of Warcraft is a very data-driven game, which means the basic code is flexible and the specific way it behaves is controlled by information contained in databases. Things like quests, monsters, items, and the rules for how these all interact are defined by the designers and artists in data.
      So we asked ourselves, would it still be possible to deliver an authentic classic experience if we took our modern code, with all its back-end improvements and changes, and used it to process the Patch 1.12 game data? While that might seem counterintuitive, this would inherently include classic systems like skill ranks, old quests and terrain, talents, and so on, while later features like Transmog and Achievements would effectively not exist because they were entirely absent from the data. After weeks of R&D, experimentation, and prototyping, we were confident we could deliver the classic WoW content and gameplay without sacrificing the literally millions of hours put in to back-end development over the past 13 years.
      While our initial effort helped us determine the experience we wanted to provide, this second prototype really defined how we’d get there. Starting from a modern architecture—with all its security and stability changes—means the team’s efforts can be focused on pursuing an authentic classic experience. Any differences in behavior between our development builds and the patch 1.12 reference can be systematically cataloged and corrected, while still operating from a foundation that’s stable and secure.
      DIGGING IN
      So what does it take to recreate an authentic classic experience with modern engineering? Let’s start by categorizing the different types of game data that make up WoW:
      Table data: This kind of information is almost always represented as numbers. How many hit points a creature has, the amount of Strength an item grants, or where and when certain creatures spawn, are all examples of the numerical data we store in our databases. We can also store and enforce relationships between different pieces of data. File data: This is often very dense data like 3D models, textures, animations and terrain. Our user interface is built up from XML and Lua files. Many of the art files do not use the same file formats that commercial art tools spit out. Our build pipeline takes these raw art files and translates them into something optimized for our game to read and process. Lua scripts: Some features are driven by Lua scripts written by designers, allowing them to easily define custom behaviors for server-side logic without requiring deep engineering knowledge. HOW ENGINEERING HAS CHANGED
      One challenge we face is that all the classic data is in the original format used at launch, but that format has changed substantially in the intervening years. Major work needs to be done in this area to make the modern client compatible with the classic data.
      For example, spells could originally only perform three actions on the spell’s target. In table form, that looked something like this:
      ID
      Name
      Effect One
      Effect Two
      Effect Three
      Aura One
      Aura Two
      Effect Damage One
      Aura Damage One
      Aura Damage Two
      1
      Fireball
      Deal Damage
      Apply Aura
      Nothing
      Nothing
      Deal Damage Periodically
      30
      Nothing
      3
      2
      Frost Bolt
      Deal Damage
      Apply Aura
      Nothing
      Nothing
      Slow
      20
      Nothing
      Nothing
      As you can see, there is a lot of space taken up by ‘Nothing’. Over the course of WoW’s lifetime, we’ve improved our data design and normalized much of our database data. Today, that same data would be separated out like this:
      Table Name: Spell
      ID
      Name
      1
      Fireball
      2
      Frostbolt
      Table Name: Spell Effect
      ID
      SpellID
      Effect
      Damage
      1
      1
      Damage
      30
      2
      2
      Damage
      25
      Table Name: Spell Aura ID
      SpellID
      Aura
      Damage
      1
      1
      Deal Damage Periodically
      3
      2
      2
      Slow
      Nothing
      In this form, there is much less wasted space and spells are no longer limited to three effects. But before we can load any database data, we need to transform the old data layout into the new one. This is not limited to spells, as almost every game system (including items, creatures, player characters, spawning, AI, and more) has had its database layout altered over the years.
      LOOKING AHEAD
      All the work we’re doing will ultimately allow us to recreate an authentic classic experience on a platform that is much more optimized and stable, helping us avoid latency and stability issues. Additional modern improvements will include modern anti-cheat/botting detection, customer service and Battle.net integration, and similar conveniences that do not affect the core gameplay experience.
      We are looking forward to the challenges ahead and share your passion for the classic game; every code check-in data conversion we make brings WoW Classic closer to providing that authentic experience you—and we—want. Thanks for joining us on this journey.