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Tyrian

Arcane Design

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I think you´re forgetting why they changed it to a proc in the first place. I really agree that it can be annoying when something just refuses to proc. But the problem with AM castable at will is that it´s very hard to balance. I´d rather have a good proc and run the risk of bad luck streaks than have a bad nuke I never touch. Also with the new barrage it will be somewhat castable at will. Im thinking of it as a DPS version of swiftmend that can also proc and everyone loves swiftmend right?

Oh no, I definitely remember why they changed it to a proc. However, that doesn't mean they accomplished their goal.

And how is AM a nuke you never want to touch? AM (even un-MBAMed) served as the default, go to method to clear an AB stack pretty much throughout the course of WoTLk. If nothing else, we touched AM a hell of a lot.

Even so, that is only part of the story. Procs as a core mechanic are ok if there are enough of them which are varied enough that each proc produces some unique and interesting gameplay. But basing the entire gameplay of an spec around a single proc with a single effect (especially one whose chance to proc you cannot influence in any way) is just bad and boring design. I really don't know of a simpler way to put it. That being said, I most definitely believe that procs are not the only way to create good gameplay, which is why I am hesitant to just look for solutions to arcane's problems by introducing tons of procs.

To explain with an example, take a look at frost (I know I pick on frost and fire specs a lot but I think it is valid since they are close to home). Frost has procs, but it's procs 'work' since they are so many of them that there is pretty much always something proccing (hence giving you something to react to at all times, even if those things are different). Plus, these procs are supported by talents that allow you to improve your chance to proc them. Furthermore, these procs in frost are not the only gameplay to the spec, they are just a part of a much more complete package.

A spec whose only gameplay is a single proc is a boring spec to play. This is not something new, in fact, it is the exact reason why the general consensus is that Arcane is a boring spec to play right now on live, as well as a boring spec to play in beta.

Overall though, I think most of us have already concluded on these things. This thread, to some extent, is an effort to solve the "Arcane is boring" problem, amongst other things.

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Im thinking of it as a DPS version of swiftmend that can also proc and everyone loves swiftmend right?

Swiftmend is one small part of the Druid toolset. The difference between that and Arcane is, Druids have a bunch of other cool healing tools in their toolset which add depth. People like Swiftmend because it's a fun spell - but also because it's one tool of many which a Resto Druid can choose how and when to use.

If The Resto Druid healbox consisted only of Rejuvination, Swiftmend and Healing Touch - people wouldn't like Swiftmend so much. They'd complain that Swiftmend is a very frustrating mechanic, as it's the only way to get heals off on targets between two extremes (Slow small Rejuv heals VS Slow big Healing Touch heals). Comments would include how boring it is to use this proc religiously on cooldown with little choice. The sentiment would be, "Why can't I have other fun tools to manage my healing? Too much of my gameplay depends on mindless use of this proc, that's boring!"

The latter is akin to Arcane mages currently. Missile Barrage by itself can be fun, but having the entirety of Arcane based around one proc that affects this one spell, is a little excessive. If Arcane had several other compelling Mechanics and means to DPS (Dynamic rotations, different spells to use, ability to modify existing spells etc) Missile Barrage probably wouldn't be such a big deal. But because the rest of the spec is quite bland, it just further exacerbates the problem.

Imagine if Missile Barrage was actually a utility proc.

When it procced, it modified the next spell you cast. Arcane Missiles gets the current speed increase, Arcane Barrage gets the ability to hit multiple targets, Arcane Explosion grants you X% of the damage dealt back as mana, Flamestrike/Blizzard got a +25 damage bonus (to compensate for having no specialisation), Arcane Blast got the ability to stack to a 5th stack, which was extremely mana unsustainable but great dps (Only a Missile Barraged Arcane Blast could push the stack to 5, not spammable or refreshable to 5 via normal AB cast means). Suddenly the Missile Barrage proc appears - and we've got a pretty interesting choice, "What should I do with it?". AOE? Use it for Mana Regen? Shift up gears into the (5) stack rotation? A Hasted AM? Currently the answer is: Use it for the only thing you can, Arcane Missiles.

One of the more satisfying aspects of playing Arcane in TBC was knowing you had to end a fight with zero mana - and manipulating your play to achieve this. It was a lot of fun to manage your mana carefully for a given length encounter, then as the end approaches - blow that out of the window and spam the rest away, timed perfectly to hit 0 as the boss dies.

Any mana you had left, was viewed as wasted DPS. It would be nice to bring this back in some form. You could call it "Arcane's Execute" if you will. Even if Arcane had a special ability to get a 5th stack and cast Arcane Blasts for a ridiculous cost (10k mana?), I think many would enjoy the last-few-second burn of spamming away your mana for a sizeable DPS reward - and go out with a bang so to speak. Mana Adept should be rewarding mages (in its current form) for keeping Mana High, but that doesn't mean we can't also have a mechanic that basically says, at the end of a fight "To hell with that!" - and let you spam it out the window with Execution style mechanics. That's fun! It could be quite interesting that "Mana Management" will involve a balancing act between Mana Adapt (Keep Mana High) and Execution ABlast type spams (Unload all your mana before you exit combat). The Cataclysm numbers for spells are not finalised, so it's hard to see whether ABspam is going to be this effective, or whether you're just better off sticking with the current rotation involving Mbarrage instead.

Anyway, some of this could help towards killing a bunch of birds with one stone: More decisions, more depth, an added burn cycle, a means for ranged Arcane AOE. The point is, we don't necessarily need to add complex new spells and mechanics to do it, we can just play around with existing ones. A Missile Barrage proc can still a core part of the Arcane tree, it just doesn't have to be the bland proc it is now - limited to Arcane Missiles.

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Well phrased like that I definetley haveto agree, the idea of changing the proc to react diferently to several spells was very good. Having AM as a spell or a proc still only results in it being one single thing and won´t add loads of "fun" either way. But a proc like the one you describe would be awesome. Besides adding depth to the playstyle it still feels doable before launch. It´s a little late to be expecting completely new spells or anything requiering lots of new graphics and the like. But procs to make several spells behave diferently is another matter.

With the new power auras feature procs will be less annoying for a lot of people to keep track of, perhaps something like having all three effects you described as separate procs that all come up and if you like you can use all three of them before the timer runs out and then the trick is knowing when you actually benifit from mixing aoe into your rotation at all. Having several procs like a hand of cards and being able to save them a few secconds even if you use one might be interesting and make for very versatile gameplay in gauntlet type events.

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The way I see it the mastery alone dictates the mana management. Even without any extra tools, just using the different rotations and evocation/gem there's plenty of mana management to do just because of the mastery.

It's not an issue of whether there will be mana management. Obviously there will - the mastery dictates some degree of mana management, as does the Arcane Blast stack mechanic. The key questions for me are:

1. Is it fun?

Not really. On live, it can be. Fishing for Missile Barrage procs and skirting on the edge of your mana pool while waiting for Mana Gem and Evocation to be back up can be fun. It was even more fun when we truly had a 'burn' cycle when you could just eat through your mana and convert it into damage. Burning through your mana and turning it into big numbers on your screen is exciting - it's fun, especially when Arcane truly had a burn spam under cooldowns.

As it stands Mana Adept really pulls away from all of this. You're rewarded for staying at a nice, high, safe level of mana, which in turn might mean adopting a lower cycle. There's obviously mana management there, but is it as fun as a burn cycle, or fishing for Missile Barrage procs. Not for me at least. It feels like a safe, plodding, methodical method of dpsing, which for me just isn't fun. Fun things like fishing and burning are ruled out because your damage is actually going down as you do so.

2. Is it easy to understand?

Again, not really. On live you can see if you're running your mana low. You know to stop fishing for procs. You know you can't afford a burn cycle (or couldn't when burning was legitimate). It's quite easy to understand. The punishment for getting it wrong can be big, but getting there is fun anyway.

Mana Adept on the other hand is anything but easy to understand. In game, how do I know what level of mana I should be riding with to maximise my damage? I'm not going to be able to translate that actually I've just dropped 3% dps because I've dipped below optimum mana. I'm not going to be able to understand whether I should be dropping to a lower cycle rather than fishing for a proc. None of it is clear. It will necessitate the use of spreasheets, graphs and the other methods you theory-crafters love to play with in order to find out our optimum cycle. Not only does that take the mana management out of your hands (you need to follow best practice mana management to eek out top dps) but I think it takes the fun out of figuring it out yourself.

Personally, I like the idea someone mentioned of being able to take it to a 5th Arcane Blast stack (and perhaps only having it apply to Arcane Blast to prevent it becoming a longer rotation rather than a burn). It would give Arcane a burn option back as well as bringing back the theme of mana = damage, which is infinitely more fun than mana conservation = damage. The problem is, it just doesn't play nice with Mana Adept.

Mana Adept is definitely one of the more interesting mastery bonuses to theorise over, but that doesn't make it more interesting or fun in practice. Arcane would be better served with a mastery that added +% damage to each Arcane Blast stack, so at one stack you might do 5% extra damage, but at four stacks you'd be pushing 20% extra damage. It's unimaginative but it would perhaps bring us closer to a burn cycle for cooldowns / fight completion. For me it's more one theme than the current mastery, which feels likes it's the exact opposite of our old theme of burning mana equals damage.

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The latter is akin to Arcane mages currently. Missile Barrage by itself can be fun, but having the entirety of Arcane based around one proc that affects this one spell, is a little excessive. If Arcane had several other compelling Mechanics and means to DPS (Dynamic rotations, different spells to use, ability to modify existing spells etc) Missile Barrage probably wouldn't be such a big deal. But because the rest of the spec is quite bland, it just further exacerbates the problem.

Imagine if Missile Barrage was actually a utility proc.

When it procced, it modified the next spell you cast. Arcane Missiles gets the current speed increase, Arcane Barrage gets the ability to hit multiple targets, Arcane Explosion grants you X% of the damage dealt back as mana, Flamestrike/Blizzard got a +25 damage bonus (to compensate for having no specialisation), Arcane Blast got the ability to stack to a 5th stack, which was extremely mana unsustainable but great dps (Only a Missile Barraged Arcane Blast could push the stack to 5, not spammable or refreshable to 5 via normal AB cast means). Suddenly the Missile Barrage proc appears - and we've got a pretty interesting choice, "What should I do with it?". AOE? Use it for Mana Regen? Shift up gears into the (5) stack rotation? A Hasted AM? Currently the answer is: Use it for the only thing you can, Arcane Missiles.

Well whatever the proc gets changed to it should not be consumed by Arcane Blast. I mean you're already going to be at least .5s into the next AB cast before you realize it's proc'd. So you'll have to cancel cast to avoid using the proc in most cases.

I'm glad you guys liked my healer analogy.

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Yes the good old AB spam I had back in BT was really something. I have trouble seeing however how mana adept in any form close to the currrent would supply any balancing like the old burn cycle. Some people have posted ideas of having mana adept increase damage the lower your mana goes to aproach what arcane used to be like. The problem with this is that it would turn your manabar into a big obstacle. Starting way below your top dps would mean arcane terrible at bursting. Well unless raids started waiting or mages to drain their pool to a certain percent before starting fights but the logistics of something like that would just be painfull.

In short I believe mana adept is the right way around atm, but the tools to make it fun seem to be lacking. Perhaps adding some talent similar to improved scorch would help. If there was a free spell that dealt decent damage arcane could gravitate more towards a playstye revolving around pouring mana into costy burst at the oportune moment and using more free filler spells when it isn´t the oportune moment. But I guess wishing for a brand new spell at this point is just dreaming, not to mention that that big burn spell isnt really there either. A channeled arcane beam of some sort would be fun though. (No not like AM, that fires volleys. I´m talking about a proper beam. Or possibly more like laser blasts that make the sound the moonraker laser in goldeneye did.) Yes, a free channeled spell a bit like drain soul but with a more arcane feel offcourse and then a big thick ray blast costing a lot to mix into the rotations. You hearing this santa?

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I have trouble seeing however how mana adept in any form close to the currrent would supply any balancing like the old burn cycle.

It's not too late to scrap Mana Adept in fairness. Had the promised various other talents and skills that tied into mana been implemented it might have been more difficult, but as it stands, Mana Adept could be scrapped and replaced with minimal disruption for Arcane. There is nothing in Arcane that props up, or works with this mastery that wasn't already present before it existed - it's easily replaced with something entirely different.

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While I would love to see an arcane proc or talent that mixes up the rotation (multi-target barrage would be quite interesting), I'm not particularly optimistic that any drastic changes will happen before Cataclysm is released.

To the end of providing at least some management of mana (and the ability to even influence the "mana adept" mastery), I think there is a lot of balancing of mana costs and damages that needs to be done. In particular, Arcane needs a burn cycle - on live, it doesn't really have one. As Logix pointed out above, there really isn't a selection of reliable cycles. On live, short of just AB Spam, the highest DPS cycle is sustainable indefinitely, once you include the Mana regen buffs, Evocation and Mana Gems.

Arcane needs at least the following cycles for Mana management to be meaningful:

1) A main cycle. Should be sustainable for a minimum of 10-15 minutes once regen buffs/Evocation/Mana gems are included.

2) A "regen" cycle. Should allow you to regen mana. I see this a doing less dps at 100% of the mana adept bonus than the main cycle at, say, 50% of the bonus.

3) A "burn" cycle. Definitely not sustainable - even with Regen buffs and Mana gem this should make you go OOM in less than 2 minutes (the evocation cooldown). It also needs to do enough damage so you want to use it as often as possible - it needs to do more damage at 50% of of the mana adept buff than then main cycle does at 100% of the buff, for example.

Currently, Arcane has a regen cycle - ABx1, AM. It also has a main cycle. It has at least 3 cycles in between the two. It doesn't have a "burn" cycle - AB Spam uses tons of mana, but does only a little bit more damage.

My suggestion to help modify the cycles would be to change Arcane Blast. Make the initial damage lower, but increase the damage buff and mana cost. Stacking the AB debuff to 4 would give you a nice fat chunk of damage when you cast AB/MBAM, but would make you go OOM quickly.

Obviously, the exact numbers would be subject to tweaking and balancing.

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Currently, Arcane has a regen cycle - ABx1, AM. It also has a main cycle. It has at least 3 cycles in between the two. It doesn't have a "burn" cycle - AB Spam uses tons of mana, but does only a little bit more damage.

This is no longer accurate in Cataclysm.

As I showed in this thread (post #420), there is no reliable cycle that will exist below ABx2 (and that was with the 100% chance to proc MBAM on a ABr, without that, even the ABx2 cycle will no longer be reliable).

Since AM is now a proc, and ABr is now a 5 sec cooldown, you, in fact, can only use ABx3ABr and ABx4ABr as your only two reliable cycles (given even a modicum of haste).

I stress the phrase reliable cycles since that is the entire point of having a tool. As I stated later on in that same thread, the entire idea behind "mana management", imho, should revolve around using the right tools at the right times.

The mage should be busy worrying about which tool to use at what time and for what purpose, and not be busy worrying about getting his tools to even work in the first place.

This is why basing cycles off of the uncertainty born out of an AM proc just wont work in my mind. What's the point of controlling your mana or altering your cycles when you are still a slave to the RNG-gods? Whats worse is that unlike the RNG of fire (hot streak), Arcane mages don't even have any method to alter the RNG of MBAM. I.e. its not like you can gear or glyph in a certain way to increase your chance to proc MBAM (not that I am advocating doing this, just pointing out that not only is RNG for Arcane mana mangement or cycle management bad, in my mind, but RNG which you can't even influence just makes it worse).

Currently, Arcane mages have just 2 reliable cycles (both of whose existence scales negatively with haste). Which is the reason I mentioned in my previous post in this thread that its all well and good saying "mana management will be born from altering cycles to play with Mana Adept" but that idea comes crashing down when you realize that you don't really have a choice of reliable cycles to alter in the first place.

Your other point though does make sense, i.e. the delta between the "burn" rotation and the "regular" rotation should be significant enough to be clearly noticeable (which, as you correctly pointed out, is not really the case right now). While a valid point, I do feel that it is a little further along in the discussion from where we are right now. Right now we are still trying to figure out the basics. Numerical balancing of cycles (and through extension, producing the payoffs like you mentioned) will come later imho, when Blizzard starts its "numbers balancing pass" on the classes.

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Apologies - I should have specified that Arcane has a regen cycle on live. You are absolutely correct that this cycle does not exist in beta as AM itself is the proc, not MBAM, and AB-ABarr doesn't work because of ABarr's cooldown.

I do think that the basics of the arcane rotation/talent tree need to be rethought. Having a proc that is required, and not just desired, can break a rotation. Can you imagine if fireball could only be cast after a scorch crit? It would break the fire rotation entirely. My fear is that, like WotLK, we might not get that arcane redesign until patch 4.1. In the interim, what can we do to adapt arcane to have meaningful rotation choices?

As for what to do with AM... What if AM didn't consume the AB stacks? Or, what if AM itself added to the AB stack? That way you would be expecting to use ABarr to drop the AB stack, and AM would be a desired addition that didn't break the rotation if it didn't proc. (would depend on ABarr cooldown)

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I can't comment easily on too many of these specific issues because the talent trees you have access to are fairly out of date compared to the ones we're working with.

However, at the stage we're at, it is very helpful to discuss builds like this -- what are the talents you have to give up but don't want to, which are the talents you don't want to get but have to, and so on. (source)

Maybe some hope for Arcane? Although he wasn't directly referring to mages. I thought maybe we should give it another build or two before we totally freak out.

But, then he gave some potential insight on the Arcane rotation via Ret pallies:

It seems to me you are saying there are these abilities that sometimes grant you a charge of Holy Power, but that in order to get Holy Power as fast as possible you need to get lucky several times, so therefore the abilities should just always give you Holy Power.

The rotation is designed around 3 Crusader Strikes. Sometimes it takes fewer than that and you get to use Templar's Verdict sooner. You're not balanced around a maximum efficiency that is dependent on the stars randomly aligning. You're balanced around average efficiency that corresponds to the averages generated by the appropriate random numbers.

I think there is some tension between Exorcism potentially generating Holy Power such that you're not sure what to do when you have 3 charges -- use the Templar's Verdict and potentially waste the Exorcism Holy Power, or use the Exorcism and delay the next Templar's Verdict -- but that seems like an isolated problem (and perhaps not even a major one) and not a reason to make Holy Power generation more consistent. Consistency is what we're trying to downplay in the Ret rotation because it doesn't allow great players to outperform merely good ones.(source)

Well.... damn.

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Aikiwoce I wouldn't get too concerned about what he is saying for ret pallies as the whole context of the pally discussion is around there being free GCD's in the rotation. Given that context what he is saying takes on a whole new meaning and I would be very reluctant to compare Ret goals to Arcane given the different philosophies between melee and caster design shown by that thread.

On a totally different note however I finally realised what had been concerning me most about AM becomming a proc, especially for lower mana rotations.

It is the interaction between the proc and latency. Specifically the fact that when chopping a rotation short for mana consumption you must decide your breaker spell in advance. However Missile barrage procs on cast completion so for a short, low haste rotation of AB AB <Breaker> you need to decide during the second AB cast if you want to hit Arcane Missiles or Arcane Barrage. This isn't a problem on live because you can just mash Arcane missiles and if you get a lucky proc well groovy you go faster. However with Arcane Missiles only activating on a proc you can't do this safely without either writing a complex macro, risking clipping your Missile barrage or loosing 1/2 a second or more each rotation waiting to determine if you can Missile barrage or Arcane Barrage.

Currently

AB - AB - AM casts fine

AB - mbarproc AB Cast Mbar works fine

AB - AB - mbarproc - Cast mbar works fine

Under the new cata model

AB - AB - AM won't work so you must hit Arcane barrage

AB mbarproc AB Caste Mbar works fine

AB - AB - mbarproc ...

What do you cast, given that many many raider will have bad latency of 200+ms one way they must assume that they won't proc and cast Arcane Barrage possibly wasting a MBar proc or they must mash the AM button, hope they get lucky and if not wait 1/2 a second to determine if you should instead cast Arcane Barrage.

This is a moderate dps loss in the first case and a potentially crippling one in the second as you basically are slowing down your roatation by about 15% and not casting continuously is a massive dps loss for any caster.

This makes it even harder for players (especially those on 200+ms connections) to show skill.

Basically the change to AM as a proc is causing all sorts of trouble all over the place.

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Another thing that should at least be mentioned is the fact that as it stands the arcane masteries don't really work together as they are currently structured, spell haste and mana adept just don't seem like they will play well together. There is an inherent trade off to haste value in that you do more damage but burn through mana quicker, which is fine currently. In WotLK this works because our final goal is to burn as hard as needed at all mana levels to maximize damage output without completely running dry. Once our damage starts scaling based on our mana level we are much more likely to concern ourselves with dpm issues as well dps. Once this starts to happen the haste and spell crit/spell power relative values will start to shift, likely lowering the relative value of haste. Unless there is some very gentle scaling with mana adept it is quite possible that haste will not even be a good stat for arcane mages to stack. There have been a lot of comments about how our current selection of spells and talents don't currently work together well with mana adept, but it should just be pointed out that even the other arcane masteries don't either.

It is an interesting idea, but I am not sure it wouldn't be easier to just replace the mana adept mastery entirely or at least completely revamp the functionality. Even if they can tweak the numbers of our damage spells and mana regen, revamp the talents, and get the arcane tool set working together such that mana adept is both interesting and fun you will still run into the situation where an arcane mage with a pocket druid will be flat out superior to one without said innervates. At that point would we be overpowered with a druid or underpowered without one? We ran into this situation before with disc priests and arcane mages and Blizzard seemed to want to try and avoid this in the future.

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Arcane Resource Sytem?

A suggestion for burn/manareg cycles would be to use a similar resource system like the moonkins do. Arcane Blast could stack something called Arcane Instability, which increased the damage and mana cost of arcane spells by xx% and reduces damage(?) and mana cost of non-arcane spells by yy%. Casting an Off-school spell would allow regeneration of mana but also reduce the amount of Arcane Instability. This would somehow remove burst, because damage builds up slower - on the other hand, we still have AP&Managem.

Do we need ranged AoE?

I tend to say yes. Fire AoE looks pretty fun to me and I am think of something along the line of ABar changing the Fire Orb into something like an Arcane cluster bomb, causing Arcane Explosion on all target in the vicinity (similar to the Ick/Krick ability)

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I had a different thought on Arcane's minor AoE problem. One of the major concerns with Arcane Explosion is that it puts you in melee range which dramatically lowers personal safety. I say add a talent that gives AE a stacking survivability buff when you cast it. "ArcaneTalentname, two points: Reduces all damage taken by 1(2)% for 5 seconds after casting Arcane Explosion. Stacks 5 times. Additionally, the mana cost of your Arcane Explosion is reduced by 10(20)%"

We already have a model for a caster who prefers to be in melee range for AoE in the Demo Lock, and hopefully the survival benefit would be enough so that we can do so safely. Not every spec has to work in the same way, and if the damage can be balanced with AE spam and the safety issues can be addressed, I don't see any reason why Arcane NEEDS ranged AoE, or needs ranged AoE that is as good as the other specs. If we have to cast Blizzard for 25% less AoE damage on the one fight out the entire expansion which requires AoE but requires max range too, then we'll take the hit, so long as we can be fine with Arcane Explosion spam for the rest of our AoE needs, in terms of damage, mana consumption, safety, and such. I think I'd probably be happier being different with our AoE than simply getting "spellfrost" damage on our blizzard to allow us to crib off Frost mages...

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I had a different thought on Arcane's minor AoE problem. One of the major concerns with Arcane Explosion is that it puts you in melee range which dramatically lowers personal safety. I say add a talent that gives AE a stacking survivability buff when you cast it. "ArcaneTalentname, two points: Reduces all damage taken by 1(2)% for 5 seconds after casting Arcane Explosion. Stacks 5 times. Additionally, the mana cost of your Arcane Explosion is reduced by 10(20)%"

The same idea had occurred to me. The problem with a stacking defensive buff is that right at the beginning is probably when you are most vulnerable to being one-shotted (or at least becoming a serious burden on healers' mana), especially with the expected nerf to tanks' AoE threat. The defences of current melee range AoE damage dealers like rogues and warriors are already in place at the start, as they are designed around being toe-to-toe with the mobs. PVP considerations probably also come into play.

Also, it doesn't seem very 'magey' to me to be running in with the cutlery-wavers to do AoE damage at point blank range. Part of the flavour of playing a mage is, in my opinion at least, hurling damage from afar, and I don't particularly see that Arcane AoE should be any different.

A simple change would be the ability to burst Arcane Explosion from a target other than the caster. One way of making this more interesting might be to have it not damage the target itself, forcing you to switch around targets in order to even damage and threat. Another might be to require it to be cast on (and burst from) a friendly target (which might be the caster herself, tank, or melee).

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We can't reliably use missiles early to break stacks because now the base spell is a proc. At least on live we can decide to use missiles early to break stacks if Barrage doesn't proc. We can slow down Blast casts to break it at 1 if we're really desperate, but that also means less chances to proc missiles, so that's compounding the damage loss.

How about letting the Arcane Blast (De)buff also increase the chance to have Arcane Missiles proc, maybe at 5-10%/stack? This would still leave the random element in, but vastly reduces the chance of sitting at 3/4 stacks like a hot potato and still not getting a proc. Having a higher proc chance than the initial 40% on later casts would help a lot in there.

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Especially with the change to Blastwave, Arcane Explosion is now our only PBAoE - and instant, at that. I just don't see the benefit in changing it to a targeted or ranged AoE when we'll have Flamestrike, Blizzard, and Flame Orb. If ranged AoE becomes/stays a problem for arcane, then really the most simple solution would be a talent that converts one of the existing ranged spells to some kind of arcane damage (like Frost has to make Flame Orb > FrostFire Orb). Blizzard > Arcane Storm, for instance.

And my biggest concern with the current incarnation of the Arcane Mastery is that it really doesn't reward mana management - whether you do high / low consumption cycles or just figure out a happy middle ground that takes you low as soon as Evocate is ready, I don't think the mastery will be able to affect a difference. Besides just making you feel weaker the longer you fight, of course (which while purely psychological is still a powerful deterrent imo). I do like the goal they have for Arcane, and I hope some more beta pushes come out to show us if any iteration has been done on it.

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How about letting the Arcane Blast (De)buff also increase the chance to have Arcane Missiles proc, maybe at 5-10%/stack? This would still leave the random element in, but vastly reduces the chance of sitting at 3/4 stacks like a hot potato and still not getting a proc. Having a higher proc chance than the initial 40% on later casts would help a lot in there.

That would be nice. However, we'd still be using three spells, and that would merely let us use our free spell more, almost taking away choice, as a free spell that already has good damage would always be prioritized above using Barrage, unless they tune it a lot higher than live, which probably isn't going to happen because of PvP. Though, with the health increases, maybe that isn't as unthinkable as it has been.

Either way, we'd still need the tools to manage our mana, and we'd still have a very low chance to break stacks early. I suppose increasing the chance for Missiles to proc would help us conserve Barrage for breaking stacks early, but the mechanic still feels hollow.

I do really think that they could infuse some life into the rotation by giving Arcane a reason to use non-Arcane spells, situationally or otherwise. Add some Frostbolts for more mana conservation, Fireballs for a middleground, and pure Blast for more burst. There's so much room there for an elegant and interesting rotation, but they seem pretty set on keeping each element locked to its tree, except for Frostfire, of course.

I do understand that some Arcane mages would be loathe to use non-Arcane spells, but sticking to that and sacrificing an interesting rotation seems like a shallow victory.

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I do really think that they could infuse some life into the rotation by giving Arcane a reason to use non-Arcane spells, situationally or otherwise. Add some Frostbolts for more mana conservation, Fireballs for a middleground, and pure Blast for more burst. There's so much room there for an elegant and interesting rotation, but they seem pretty set on keeping each element locked to its tree, except for Frostfire, of course.

I do understand that some Arcane mages would be loathe to use non-Arcane spells, but sticking to that and sacrificing an interesting rotation seems like a shallow victory.

It's not that I dislike casting non-Arcane spells due to the color of the graphic on the screen, but more that I would dislike the 25% damage hit I will take while casting non-Arcane spells due to Arcane Specialization.

Either a VERY convincing mechanic would be needed to encourage the casting of cross-school damage spells, or the Specialization bonus would need to be changed.

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It's not that I dislike casting non-Arcane spells due to the color of the graphic on the screen, but more that I would dislike the 25% damage hit I will take while casting non-Arcane spells due to Arcane Specialization.

Either a VERY convincing mechanic would be needed to encourage the casting of cross-school damage spells, or the Specialization bonus would need to be changed.

For some insight on the Specialization bonuses. I decided to check out what Warlocks, Elemental Shaman, Shadow Priests, and Boomkin were getting. I immediately noticed how incomplete the mage specializations seemed in comparison. I mean every other class/spec combination, not just dps casters, have 2-3 specialization bonuses. Also every other caster spec has pushback protection as a specialization. All hybrid classes get their 100% crit damage bonus via specialization, and all casters get some kind of school/spell specific damage and a third effect. Though the other bonuses vary a little:

25% school damage - Affliction/Destro Warlocks, Shadow Priests

25% dual school damage - Boomkin

15% dual school damage - Demo Warlocks

20% dual school damage on only 3 spells Ele Shaman

So given this information, I think it's safe to conclude Burning Soul is going to be replaced and given to all mages as a specialization. Arcane could potentially gain multi-school damage for it's specialization, but it might come with a drawback. It's also pretty plain that each spec is going to get a third passive specialization bonus. Affliction seems to be the only "pure" dps caster spec that has a bonus, but I think we can safely assume it's a good example of how the third bonus will work. I mean the bonus is likely to be a re-purposed utility talent.

So whatever else might have been said about how far along mages are. As specializations go, mages seem to be the least finished.

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It would be quite ironic if Arcane went back to a model where non Arcane spells became a standard part of the rotation. Towards the end of TBC, one of the Arcane community concerns (and complaints) was that mages wanted Arcane to be an independent spec - which didn't need to rely on casting cross school spells such as Frostbolt to fill in rotation gaps.

If we suggested to a Fire Mage that they should cast Arcane or Frost spells in their normal rotation, the response would be one of bemusement. If we asked Frost mages to cast pure Fire spells, the response would be similar. However, Frostfire bolt (together with Brain Freeze) did find a nice thematic solution to this - and Frost mages generally accept and welcome a Fire+Frost spell as a cool part of the rotation. Not some unusual, weird outlier tacked on which exposes poor design.

If Arcane were to cast non Arcane spells in rotation, there needs to be a more elegant solution than the equivilant of simply telling a Fire mage to cast Arcane or Frost spells. It just doesn't make much sense, and helps diminish the feel of being that spec. The mechanics and interaction between Frostfire Bolt and Brain Freeze is a good example of how something like this could be done.

Going with the Frostfire multischool logic, one example would be to give Arcane two new utility spells: "Spellfrost Bolt" and "Spellfire Bolt". Spellfrost bolt could be a mana management tool (Restores mana, which fits the frost/water theme well) and snares a target. "Spellfire bolt" could be a mean burn/nuke spell, costing tons of mana and letting you push out burst dps - or perhaps a ranged AOE spell (hits a target like a Fireball, then explodes with an Spellfire Arcane Explosion). Mana Restored/Damage would of course be related to number of Arcane Blast stacks, and consume them in the process. Suddenly having (4) stacks of Arcane Blast doesn't mean you automatically hit Arcane Missiles - you've got some choices with how to shed the stacks: For Burn damage? Mana regen? Aoe?

The idea of Arcane playing with magic by fusing different schools, could work quite well - especially since it might let said spells keep the benefits of the Arcane Specialisation.

Ideas like the aforementioned would be more likely to be welcomed by the community, whereas 'just cast fireball/frostbolt in the rotation' would likely eventually get the same sentiment it got in TBC. Arcane mages want to feel like Arcane mages. Cross spell schools for Arcane could work, but implementation is key.

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To be fair to Blizzard the Arcane Mage in Cataclysm is a new and albeit counter-intuitive concept.

Every other dps caster is designed around the concept of putting as many spells on target, with the goal being that you run out of mana, just has the encounter ends. When you do this, and use all of your mana recovery abilities at the most optimal time, you have put as much damage on the target as possible for your character. The arcane mage appears different. It appears that rather than run out of mana, that the arcane mage will be rewarded for having the highest amount of mana possible while still casting dps spells.

Ladies and Gentlemen, this is a brand new concept. Arcane has the ability in WOTLK to do short powerful mana burn sequences by spamming Arcane Blast, past 4. This is an on demand ability to push a phase of an encounter or really lean into a boss in the final few percentages. It ruins our mana pool, but with so many other ways to replenish it is not hypercritical to the mage. What appears to have happened, is that Blizzard is not going to reward this style of play and instead will reward the more steady, AB X2 --> AM (Procced) or the myriad of alternative spam routines, all the while encouraging the mage to not go into a constant run of AB X4 --> AM/Arcane Barrage. It will require more control. It will require more mana management. It will penalize the player who decides to slip in a couple unwarranted Arcane Blasts, lowering his mana pool when it was not necessary.

My suspicion is that Blizzard is not going to try to balance the class around the 100% mana concept. Lets face it the first Arcane Blast is going to shave about 7% anyway (according to the tooltip). Instead the goal will be the be more controlled, and keep the mana hovering around another percentage, say 80-70%. A mage that can keep this percentage higher while still casting a rotation will be rewarded. A mage that averages 40-50% of their mana will be penalized.

Until we see how the mana balancing tools are implemented, I doubt that we can really see if the spec is balanced correctly. If evocation and mana gems are not up to the task, I would prefer a change to invisibility so that it mimics the shadow priests dispersion ability, (with a slight change that the longer you stay invisible the more mana you gain).

I also think that Blizzard is trying to find a way to make Arcane Barrage relevant. The spells implementation in Wrath was "chunky" and ultimately it was relegated to "use on movement" spell and/or utility fill in spell. This really is not saying much for the "51 point now 31 point" class defining ability. Forcing arcane mages to use the spell in a variety of different ways to maintain the mana pool makes it relevant. (Whether we want that to be the case or not)

Now to the question of whether it will be fun. Arcane will not be for everyone. If you like micro management of your mana pools and you are good at controlling your game play, then it might be the highest theoretical spec. My sense is however, that it will penalize loose play, will encourage pre-emptive Arcane Barrages to clear the stacks, and will play very completely differently from the other two specs. Overall I think this is good arcane was and still is the utility tree and now it is the mana control tree. Given the push in beta to make choices, arcane with a risk versus reward model balanced around mana consumption makes each choice relevant. The jury is still out on whether it is fun, or whether it is viable, or whether it is too hard to play. I am betting on a Love / Hate relationship, that might not lead to an easy mathematical style formula or optimal rotation.

One conclusion we can draw is that the Arcane Mage will favor short burst encounters, where you cast, pop a gem to 100% mana, cast, pop a mana pot to 100% and cast. Arcane mages may want to be Alchemists, with the ability to gain more mana from potions.

Woe

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A few people here have skirted around this idea but I haven't seen it stated explicitly - perhaps having a small handful (or one) spell(s) not be influenced by mana adept could lead to the more engaging gameplay people are looking for. The spells could be from the arcane tree or from another tree, and a few possible directions could be taken, including:

1. Have your biggest burn-mana-for-max-dps spell not be influenced by mana adept: this would allow you to dump all your mana if you really need a burn or at the end of the fight, but obviously isn't sustainable and thus using it at the wrong time would kill your sustained dps.

2. Have your "regen" or low-mps cycle consist of these spells. This would allow you to do at least half-decent dps if you got into mana trouble, no matter how bad, while you wait for your evo/gem/whatever. Maybe at some point as your mana dwindles this rotation even becomes higher dps than those involving spells influenced by mana adept.

It may not solve all the problems, but having mana adept not influence everything may be an extra variable useful for hitting a sweet spot.

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With the Spellfrost/Spellfire idea, it could just be a talent (or talents) that add that functionality to Fireball and Frostbolt, rather than adding new spells. New spells would work fine, of course, but I don't see them adding something like that baseline, and I'm not sure they want to add more spells in general.

Focus Magic and the selfish bonus of Arcane Tactics are both good places for something like this, if they went the route of adding that functionality to the current nukes. If they wanted to add it as a new spell in the talent tree (which I doubt), they could put Spellfire in place of Focus Magic, and Spellfrost... in place of Improved Mana Gem? Both of those are pretty boring, and the benefits gained from the spells could easily equal or surpass those talents, while giving the same benefits of damage/regen (as much as you could call Imp Gem as giving "regen").

Perhaps they could even have it where "Spellfrost" and "Spellfire" aren't affected by the mana increase of Blast, as they technically aren't Arcane spells, but benefit from the stacks and specialization because they do Arcane (+base element) damage? Then they could make it where blast did better dps than those spells, but had worse dpm (of course), so the most powerful rotation would be pure arcane spells, but using (spell)frost would give better regen and using (spell)fire would give better sustained, giving a pretty good theme.

Or, if it ends up where the mastery itself is better changed, Lileith on the Cataclysm Mage thread had an interesting idea:

World of Warcraft: Cataclysm Beta - (English) Forums -> Mage

Anytime you gain X mana using Mage Armor, Mana Gem, or Evocation, you gain Mana Adept buff. While Mana Adept buff is active all arcane spell damage caused is increased by Y, until Z*X extra damages were caused.

Y and Z are improved by Mastery Rating.

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