1. New Talent Trees
The new talent trees are, well dammit they are pretty exciting, especially if you are currently or wish to be a Fire Mage. Lets look at the Mastery for each tree and associated shortcomings and advantages.
- Arcane - Mana Adept: This is arguably my LEAST favorite mastery of them all. Let's examine this sucker in detail. Arcane has, for quite a while now, pretty much said "Welcome to the fight. Please slit wrists and bleed as much mana as possible to do anything worthwhile. Thank you, please come again." This Mastery continues that tradition, because from the parses I have seen, the best way to maximize an Arcane mage's DPS, is to burn as hard as possible, use all your mana recovery tools, and then slow roll your threat and DPS until those CDs are expiring, then do it all over again, attempting to make sure that you are burning yourself out of mana just as the fight ends. This does not seem fun to me. I don't want a roller coaster of a rotation, but still a rotation nonetheless; and since Blizzard has declared that they want people to have to make real-time decisions in raid encounters for the mechanics of those encounters, this seems counter intuitive to their declared objective. Also, it seems to make haste a less than desirable stat for this spec, as the faster you bleed that mana, the longer you are in the slow roller part of your rotation. I do think though that it is an interesting mechanic, I just believe it needs something that balances it, and I think that their current choice, the mana bleed, is the wrong one. This tree, talent-wise, does have some nice and interesting with which to play. Improved Polymorph will help us with those "Old Responsibilities" that I mentioned earlier. I can't tell you how many times I had some moron Warrior tank inadvertently pop my sheep only to have the thing come over, in a right quick fashion mind you, and punch my glass-cannon face so hard I DFO'd (Done Fell Over). If I had this tool in my bag of tricks, it probably wouldn't have happened anywhere near as often. I also like Improved Mana Gem. We saw this as our T7 2-piece set bonus, and to be honest, I missed it. The very idea of it screams mage.
- Fire - Flashburn: I like this one a lot. When you combine this mastery, with all the DoTs we can get up there AND the new Combustion, we can get a LOT of extra damage for stuff we do anyway. When I spoke earlier of new mechanics, the fire tree was the main reference. This tree is going to be the king of both AoE and single-target DPS for a while. Firestarter plus Improved Scorch is absolutely hilarious and totally fun. A completely new way of maintaining some kind of decent DPS for those fights that we, as mages hate, the dreaded moving fights, and with Critical Mass we even get a sweet debuff that all caster DPS, especially ourselves, can enjoy. The change to Hot Streak, which made the Pyroblast! proc also mana free is awesome and brings it in line with Brain Freeze and Arcane Missiles. On the AoE side of things, we have, easily, the coolest talent ever in Improved Flamestrike. I shouldn't have to tell you why that's AWESOME.
- Frost - Frostburn: Here is main place for anything PvP I will be bringing up. Frost is our PvP tree. PERIOD. Now I know some people may say "Hey, Arcane is really good in Arenas!" and they are right, but in general, most mages in PvP are looking for the survivability that comes only from our Frost tree. This mastery reflects the one thing missing from a Frost mage's repertoire: BURST DPS. Thats what we are in PvP. We have very few outs overall. We dont have the health pool of the warlocks, or the ability to heal like the priests. All the other classes are better armored, and not complaining here (balance is good), mages are the ONLY class that has ZERO heal options without something extra being used. Potions and badages were our only salvation for the longest time, then we got the Glyph of Evocation. This brought everyone but the Frost mage into balance, in my opinion. Other specs could get away with double duty (PvE and PvP), but, face it, frost mages in PvE were a joke. The burst DPS offered by this mastery is exactly what was required to get them a fighting chance in PvE. Combined with Fingers of Frost, this mastery gives the Frost mage half a chance to get within 5% of the other mage specs set with raiding specs. I dont see it being easy, but thank you Blizzard for at least trying.
The new glyphs and Glyph system are cool, but sometimes you just have too many choices. As of this posting we have some broken stuff, like a Glyph of Living Bomb that just cannot be found. If I don't mention the glyph you are looking for, please understand this is the entire reason. The new system gives us 9 glyphs at a time, split into 3 tiers, Prime, Major and Minor. Primes are supposed to be amazing. Majors are intended to be good, with impact on combat. And Minors, well Minors really haven't changed. They are still flavor/mana efficiency for buff spells.
- Glyph of Pyroblast! - Yes, they changed the name of Pyroblast. They added an obviously needed exclamation point. It makes the spell cooler! Ok this Glyph gives 5% crit on Pyroblast! and well with Hot Streak, free crits is good, mmmkay!
- Glyph of Living Bomb - Its been changed to a static 3% damage increase, since ALL DoTs and HoTs now benefit from both crit and haste. This seems good.
- Glyph of Mage Armor - 20% mana regen increase. Seems good. Mainly for those freaky Arcane types!
- Glyph of Arcane Blast - UNCHANGED. Just made a Prime instead of a Major. This was GOOD.
- Glyph of Ice Lance - 5% damage instead of a range increase. This seems good, since they made the spell a base 35 yds. and well 5 more yds. seems lame in PvP.
- Glyph of Deep Freze - 20% bonus damage on Frostbolt when the enemy has Deep Freeze on them. Combined with the new Frost tree Mastery, this seem amazing for PvP and PvE.
- Glyph of Cone of Cold - 25% damage bonus to CoC. Seems all kinds of PvP to me. Especially since it is a point blank cone, and good raiding mages stay as far away from the bad guys as possible.
Majors - There are a lot so stick with me.
- Glyph of Molten Armor - Changed back to the 2% increased crit chance on Molten Armor. This is good. Not game breaking, but good nonetheless.
- Glyph of Blastwave - 1 extra second of slow. Seems decent, but more of a PvP style glyph.
- Glyph of Dragon's Breath - 3 second reduction on CD of DB. Just like Glyph of Blastwave, it reeks of PvP.
- Glyph of Fireball - 5% crit on FB. Its decent, but not as good as the next one for the endgame Fire mage.
- Glyph of Frostfire - 15% damage increase on FFB and gives a 3% DoT that stacks 3 times for a 9% DoT. This is the new hotness. Blizzard announced they wanted FFB to be the endgame Fire mage's go to spell, and they gave us a glyph to make that happen. Thank you Blizzard for finally delivering for us mages.
- Glyph of Arcane Barrage - 4% damage. Seems solid.
- Glyph of Arcane Missiles - 5% crit for AM. Not as cool as it was, but then I cant see it as a BAD choice.
- Glyph of Arcane Power - Reduces the CD of Blink, Mirror Image, and Mana Shield to zero while AP is up. A... MAZE... ING! Especially with our current T10 bonuses. Plus its really good in PvP. Even I can see that.
- Glyph of Evocation - Unchanged. Still good. And still a good choice for those of us who like to make things easier on those healer types.
- Glyph of Invisibility - 40% speed increase while you are Invisible. A GTFO Dodge glyph if I ever saw one. Still good.
- Glyph Mana Shield - 2 seconds of CD reduction. They boned us by putting it on a 10 sec. CD in the first place. This will help but you will still get eaten alive if you were chain popping it before.
- Glyph of Polymorph - Removes all DoT effects on our target when we sheep it. FINALLY! I swear to God warlocks used to piss me off something fierce, and with the return of CC in Cataclysm, this is one of those utility glyphs you may have to run for a while as you teach your guildies how to handle CC all over again. CC is coming up again later in the post.
- Glyph of Slow - 5 yds. increase to range. PvP glyph.
- Glyph of Mirror Image - Allows your MIs to cast AB or FB based on your primary talent tree. Holy poop this is awesome. And honestly, its about friggin' time Blizz. Still a PvP glyph.
- Glyph of Blink - 5 yds. increase to range. PvP glyph.
- Glyph of Frostbolt - 5% crit. Good. 'Nuff said.
- Glyph of Ice Barrier - 30% damage absorption increase. HELLO! From a survival persepective this is AMAZING.
- Glyph of Ice Block - Frost Nova CD reset when you pop IB. PvP much?
- Glyph of Frost Nova - 20% increase to damage required to break the freeze effect. Yes, this is a PvP glyph, but its also a REALLY good LEVELING glyph, no matter which spec you level as.
- Glyph of Icy Veins - Removes all movement and casting speed slows when you pop IV. Solid glyph all around. Too bad only Frost mages can get IV anymore.
- Glyph or Armors - Increases the duration of all armor spells by 30 minutes. Really? It took you this long to add this one Blizz? One word: FAIL!
- Glyph of Arcane Brilliance - Unchanged. Still decent for us raiders.
- Glyph of Conjuring - 50% mana cost reduction for conjuring spells. Kinda lame tbh. Would have been better as a reagent cost removal for our Ritual of Refreshment.
- Glyph of Slow Fall - Reagent removal on Slow Fall. I hate using bag space for reagents. This is good.
- Glyph of Penguin - Polymorph: Sheep is now Polymorph: Penguin. Lolz.
- Glyph of Monkey - Look UP!
3) OLD Responsibilities, New Again
Ok people its really not that dramatic. Blizz wants to bring back CC. We have the strongest CC in the game. No CD, we control it directly, can be reapplied at will, lasts 50 seconds, and covers a large range of mobs. Other CC classes WISH they had it as good as we do. But as Peter Parker's uncle told him, "With great power, comes great responsibility." Since we have it so easy, we need to make sure we are doing it right. Poly is awesome and if at all possible try to find someone that was around through Vanilla. We really did have to kite, decurse, and keep mobs Poly'd in the same M F'ing pull. I hated it. It was hard. I was good at it. And now, looking back, I MISS it. Yeah I said it. I miss it. This is your chance to be seen for your other great qualities. In my guild the officers, including me, don't look at DPS as the only thing you need to bring to the table as a good mage. We are from the old school, when the ability to CC effectively was MORE, yes MORE, important than topping the DPS charts. Hell, I had a Frost OS just for Heroic Princes in ICC. Utility is what I am talking about. We have a lot of it, and we still compete for top DPS honors. Come Cataclysm though, that DPS is gonna start to fall off a bit, but you will be more important to the groups than you have been in a long time, and not just for the 3% damage, 5% crit taken, or replenishment you can bring to the table.
So make a friend. One of your own kind. One that has done it before. You will recognize them. They will be the ones making sure your ass is still alive at the end of a pull, and they wont have cast a single heal, or punched a single mob. They will be the one that stood just to the left and behind the healer, keeping that annoying Hunter-esque mob in some ridiculous animal form, waiting for something to run at the healer so that we can do what used to be referred to as the electric slide, where we strafe across the mobs path and Frost Nova the little runaway bastard so the healer can get away and the tank can have a chance to pick it back up. When you find this person, ask them nicely and they pass on their greatness. Just make sure that you are listening, they have a tendency to be officers and guild leaders, so they can definitely impact your standing on a server.