Archive for August, 2010

Arcanaclysmic

EDIT: Wow. I guess I should have paid more attention to the Beta progression, because most of the info in this post is completely irrelevant now. The change to Arcane Barrage I mentioned below was completely scrapped, and now Arcane is looking more and more like that mage’s problem child. I’ll keep this entry here for historical purpose, but know that it’s all pretty much wrong now.

END EDIT.

So since I’m not (yet hopefully!) in the Cataclysm Beta, I’ve been reading over MMO-Champion and WoW.com for beta updates, especially as they pertain to my favorite class, the mage.

I just came across this lovely little gem. The tooltip for Arcane Barrage now reads “Launches several missiles at the enemy target, causing X to Y Arcane damage and activating Arcane Missiles. Casting Arcane Barrage does not consume the effect of Arcane Blast”

Holy Crap. That is utterly amazing, and it eliminates one of the many things I absolutely hate about Arcane.

Allow me to explain. As things stand right now, Arcane Barrage has minimal to no use in PvE gameplay right now. You CAN use it if you want to consume a stack of Arcane Blast debuffs that you risk losing, but it’s a severe DPS loss to not try to keep refreshing the stack until Missile Barrage procs. So almost no one really uses it.

But now, since Arcane Missiles itself is the proc, and not Missile Barrage, and Arcane Barrage will trigger it….there’s no more of the agonizing feeling of watching your mana drain like crazy waiting for a Missile Barrage proc.

Still confused? Let’s take a look at the standard Arcane Rotation as it stands in Wrath today.

The correct way to do things is to cast Arcane Blast 4 times to stack the debuff to 4. Hopefully by then Missile Barrage has procced, and you can cast your speedy Arcane Missiles. If not…you continue casting Arcane Blast until it does. No, you don’t cast Arcane Missiles regardless of a proc or not. That will lower your DPS (because of the grossly long channeling time). Don’t do it.

The problem with that is that if you get unlucky and don’t get that Missile Barrage proc quickly, you eat through your mana pool at a ridiculous rate. Now between your mana gem and Evocation being on a 2-minute cooldown, you should be able to endure it. But it’s still an irritating mechanic to deal with, and it’s one of the reasons I stopped playing Arcane once Fire was buffed. I hate having to try to manage mana that closely based on such a gluttonous random chance.

Now, come Cataclysm, we have two things going for us. For one, Arcane Missiles itself is a proc-based ability, and Missile Barrage now speeds up the channeling time. So there’s no more question about “properly” using Arcane Missiles.

Secondly, Arcane Mages don’t have to worry about not having Arcane Missiles procced when they hit that 4-stack. If it’s not, we give random chance a big fat “F-U!” and fire off Arcane Barrage, then unleash a swarm of quick firing and hard-hitting Arcane Missiles. No more chain casting Arcane Blast with 4 AB stacks up, watching our mana bars drain to nothing and praying for that proc. Arcane mana management just became WAY more predictable and easy to do. Thank you, Blizzard.

And we get this Arcane Barrage loveliness at level 10 by choosing to spec Arcane at level 10. You know what that means? We can actually level Arcane now, and be decent about it. No, I’m not kidding. Follow me on this.

You get Arcane Missiles at level 3, and Frostbolt at level 4. By level 10, you’ve played around with the basics, and are ready to choose a talent spec. You pick Arcane and get Arcane Barrage.

You can still open up with a Frostbolt to slow the enemy down as you pull them, then shoot off Arcane Barrage. Boop! There’s Arcane Missiles. Fire it off. Hey look, Barrage is off cooldown. Shoot it again! Boop! More Arcane Missiles! Dead guy, probably.

Now think about this. At level 19, you’ve accumulated enough talent points to put one into Torment the Weak. Now that Frostbolt has two purposes, because in addition to slowing your target, you’re getting more damage done to him as well. Or you could go over to Improved Arcane Missiles and get another missile shot off at your target. Either way, by level 27, you’ve got enough talent points for both.

Then you can start putting them in Missile Barrage. Oooh yes. Now granted, you’ll have to change your strategy a bit, because the shortened channeling time of Arcane Missiles will probably not be enough time to allow Arcane Barrage to cool down (and it may not even be enough initially, the cooldown for Arcane Barrage is in flux at the moment), so more Frostbolt application may be in order. But by level 33, you’ve got 3 points in there, and you’re probably a machine-gun mage by this point, mowing down all that oppose you.

Just in time to get Arcane Blast at level 34! *evil grin* Now, your rotation we described at the beginning of this post can begin!! Nothing shall stand before you!

As early as level 53, you’ll have enough talent points to get the formerly shunned-in-PvE talent Slow and one of my favorite new talents, Nether Vortex. Nether Vortex, fully talented, gives your Arcane Blast a 100% chance to apply the Slow effect. Oh HELL yes. Free Torment the Weak activation while soloing as part of our normal rotation? Yes please.

I’m not sure how Fire and Frost are going to end up faring in the beta. Fire still has some of it’s talents that need to be changed or corrected, and Frost is hard to test without actually being in the Beta (removing Frostbite, but a permanent elemental that can cast Freeze? Hrmmm…Possibilities…) but Arcane is looking deliciously fun, which I am very happy for. If Frost is able to competitively DPS in raids (come on Blizzard, you can do it), then my favorite class will have reached the glorious stage where spec choice is FINALLY a matter of personal taste and not “best DPS”. Or at least, not nearly as much anyway. I imagine there will still be the asshole raid leaders who will take one look at Elitist Jerks and force all their players to go with the better spec, even if it’s just by 2 points. But if it’s only a difference of that magnitude, then players should ignore that and go with whatever they love.

We shall see, soon enough.