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Mage Changes and Explanations in the War Within Alpha: May 2nd

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Arcane is in focus for today's Alpha changes, as Blizzard detail their goals and thinking behind some big changes for the spec. Fire and Frost also get some changes, with two Hero trees being adjusted as well. 

Blizzard LogoMay 2 (Source)

Hello Mages!

We have some Arcane Mage changes hitting the War Within Alpha today, and we want to go over them here. As mentioned a couple of weeks ago, we have goals that span all mage specializations.

These are:

  • Allow you to acquire each specialization’s core gameplay with less talent point investment.
  • Simplify rotational complexity.
  • Provide new nodes that can help you adapt your damage profile to better match a given encounter’s demands.
  • Provide competitive choice nodes that let you opt-out of complex gameplay.

Today we’re talking about Arcane, so let’s dive into the specifics.

Radiant Spark
Arcane Mage has long had the reputation of being one of the most complicated and skill expressive specializations in World of Warcraft. A large contributing factor to this is the way in which Radiant Spark asks you to optimize your rotation. Radiant Spark’s damage bonus was so substantial and so dramatically punished you for using Arcane Missiles, that you had to go about your big burn in a very scripted fashion. With the introduction of Shifting Power, Arcane Mage gained access to mini-burns that can also utilize Radiant Spark, but to facilitate optimal usage of the spell those also had to be very scripted-- and worse yet-- your mini burn script was different than your big burn script.

All of that to say, we don’t think that the exciting and challenging part of Arcane should be the memorization of a large script. Arcane’s burn gameplay should support and be enhanced by the mechanics and talents you have, not circumvent them. We feel confident that the removal of Radiant Spark in its current fashion is the right path forward to achieve that goal.

The soul of Radiant Spark will live on, however, through a new talent: Magi’s Spark. Magi’s Spark accomplishes a similar goal to Radiant Spark by making Touch of the Magi more of an exciting moment, but it now rewards you for utilizing each of your core rotational Arcane spells.

Opt-In Complexity
We’re interested in preserving Arcane’s legacy as a skill-expressive specialization, but we must also recognize that there is a considerable population of Arcane Mage players who engage with the specialization for its visual identity and fantasy-- less so for the challenging gameplay. As Arcane Mage currently stands, it does not support simpler playstyles and thus, less informed Arcane Mages will produce very middling results.

Similar to other trees across the game, the Arcane Mage tree is getting some choice nodes and supporting talents that are meant to provide meaningful throughput while offsetting some of the specialization’s inherent complexity-- and maybe letting you remove a button or two off of your action bars along the way.

As with Fire Mage, we plan on tuning the more “challenging” talents to be the most competitive choices, but we will be making sure the gap between a complex talent and its simpler alternative is small enough that you don’t feel like you’re making a huge mistake by opting out of the complexity.

Arcane Missiles
Arcane Missile’s damage and excitement was difficult to balance alongside its accessibility. If Arcane Missiles ever became too powerful, it would dominate Arcane’s rotation and become its highest priority in all situations. By restricting access to Arcane Missiles to only be castable when you have Clearcasting, it enables us to increase its damage and expand its range of effects in a more healthy way without compromising the rest of your rotation.

Clearcasting Effects
We’ve observed that there has been some frustration around effects that key into consuming Clearcasting since there can rarely be long streaks where players won’t get a proc. We’re watching the discussion around these effects, and are being sensitive to the frustration these effects might cause. Sunfury and Spellslinger both grant increased access to Clearcasting, which should smooth out the rate at which you receive Clearcasting and quell some of that frustration, but if this still ends up being a large point of frustration, expect us to take action on it.

Complexity
Increasing the approachability of Arcane Mage was a big pillar of this talent tree redesign, and we hope that those of you who have been intimidated by Arcane’s complexity in the past will give the specialization another shot once you have access to these changes.

As we gather feedback and continue to iterate on these changes, keep in mind that our goal moving forward is to move the skill expression of Arcane Mage into lining various buffs and effects up in preparation for your burn. Mastering the new talents and effects, and ensuring you’re managing these in a proper fashion to best utilize them during Touch of the Magi will be the differentiating factor between good and great Arcane Mages. Expect future changes to support this vision.

That’s all for this update. We’re excited to read your feedback on this new iteration of Arcane Mage!

And here are the changes themselves, from the development notes:

Blizzard Logo(Source)

  • MAGE
    • Sunfury
      • Glorious Incandescence has been updated:
        • Now summons 4 Meteorites (was 8).
        • Increased Meteorite’s Fire Blast cooldown reduction by 100%.
        • Increased Meteorite’s Arcane Orb cooldown reduction by 100%.
        • Meteorite damage increased by 100%.
        • The timing between Meteorites dealing damage and their associated spell cooldown reduction effects have been better synchronized.
    • Spellslinger
      • Arcane
        • Controlled Instincts has been redesigned – For 8 seconds after being struck by an Arcane Orb, 30% of the direct damage dealt by an Arcane Splinter is also dealt to nearby enemies. Damage reduced beyond 5 targets.
        • Spellslingers now conjure two Splinters when they consume Nether Precision.
        • Splintering Orbs now conjures two Arcane Splinters when they strike a target with their Arcane Orb.
        • Arcane Splinterstorms now have a 20% chance to grant you Clearcasting (was 100%).
    • Arcane
      • New Talent: Energized Familiar – During Time Warp or other similar effects, your Arcane Familiar fires 4 bolts instead of 1. Damage from your Arcane Familiar has a small chance to grant you up to 2% of your maximum mana.
      • New Talent: Eureka – When a spell consumes Clearcasting, its damage is increased by 25%.
      • New Talent: Wizened Wit – The cast time of Arcane Blast is reduced by 10%. Choice node with Presence of Mind.
      • New Talent: Arcane Battery – Each time you consume Clearcasting, gain 1%/2% increased spell damage for 30 seconds, stacking up to four times. 2-point talent.
      • New Talent: Time Loop – When you gain a stack of Arcane Battery, you have a small chance to gain another stack of Arcane Battery. This effect can trigger off of itself.
      • New Talent: Aether Attunement – While at maximum stacks of Arcane Battery, your next Arcane Missiles consumes Arcane Battery dealing 150% increased damage to your primary target and also fires at up to 4 nearby enemies.
      • New Talent: Leysight – Nether Precision damage bonus increased to 30%.
      • New Talent: Leydrinker – Every 6 times you consume Nether Precision, your next Arcane Blast echoes, repeating its damage at 50% effectiveness to the primary target and up to two nearby enemies.
      • New Talent: Improved Touch of the Magi – Your Touch of the Magi now accumulates 25% of the damage you deal.
      • New Talent: Magi’s Spark – Your Touch of the Magi now also conjures a spark, increasing the damage your target receives from your next Arcane Barrage, Arcane Blast, and Arcane Missiles by 25%. Upon receiving damage from all three spells, the spark explodes, dealing Arcane damage to all nearby enemies. Choice node with Improved Touch of the Magi.
      • New Talent: Nether Munitions – When Magi’s Spark or Improved Touch of the Magi detonates, it increases the damage all affected targets take from you by 8% for 12 seconds.
      • Arcane Missiles has been redesigned – Can now only be cast when you have Clearcasting. The wording of talents that are associated with Arcane Missiles have been updated to reflect this change.
      • Nether Precision has been redesigned – Consuming Clearcasting increases the damage of your next 2 Arcane Blasts by 20% or your next 2 Arcane Barrages by 20%.
      • Arcane Familiar has been redesigned – Casting Arcane Intelligence also summons you a Familiar that attacks your enemies and increases your maximum mana by 10% for 1 hour. Now passive.
      • Illuminated Thoughts has been redesigned – Clearcasting has a 5% increased chance to trigger and spells that consume Clearcasting deal 5% more damage.
      • Concentration has been redesigned – Casting Arcane Blast has a small chance to make your next cast of Arcane Blast free.
      • Improved Prismatic Barrier is now baseline.
      • Many talents have had their positions changed.
      • Moved Charged Orb and Improved Clearcasting to the first gate.
      • Rule of Threes is no longer a choice node with Arcane Familiar.
      • The following talents have been removed:
        • Foresight
        • Nether Tempest
        • Reverberate
        • Mana Gem
        • Radiant Spark
        • Harmonic Echo
        • Cascading Power
    • Fire
      • Controlled Destruction now has a stack cap of 50 (was 99). Pyroblast increases damage the target takes from your Ignite by 1% (was 2%)
    • Frost
      • New Talent: Death’s Chill – While Icy Veins is active, damaging an enemy with Frostbolt increases spell damage by 1%.
      • Fractured Frost has been redesigned – While Icy Veins is active, your Frostbolts hit up to 2 additional targets. Now a 1-point talent.
      • Hailstones is now a 1-point talent.
      • Fractured Frost and Freezing Winds have swapped places in the talent tree.
      • Cold Front and Coldest Snap have swapped places in the talent tree.

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