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Tyrian

Arcane Design

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Just to shift gears a bit.

There has been something that has been bothering me about Arcane for a while now which I wasn't able to articulate very well, until now.

After playing through some BC dungeons on my frost mage, I realized that there is a significant hole in the Arcane mage's toolbox.

Arcane has no way to influence a battlefield apart from just damage.

How Frost does it.

I think I have lost count of the number of times I have managed to prevent a wipe on my frost mage.

I can, when needed (like when a tank goes down), exercise a level of control of the battlefield that is somewhat absurd. I can freeze enemies from range, blizzard kite them, or even stop a single enemy in its tracks (which is amazing for getting a runaway mob off of the healer long enough for the tank to taunt it).

In very hairy situations, like when the tank is getting low and the healer is having a hard time, I can use DF to take some pressure off, by preventing a particular mob from DPSing for 5 seconds.

Add to this the CoC freezes and FoF procs, and I feel pretty awesome having the ability to really have an impact on the battlefield beyond just "dpsing down the mobs".

Control as a core part of Magecraft.

I am of the belief that mages, as a class, need to bring some level of control over a battlefield. To me, it is a core aspect of the class.

Currently, Frost fulfills this purpose very well, Fire (with its new ranged snare blastwave) does ok (though it needs to be improved as well). Arcane on the other hand, has absolutely no way to influence a battlefield, especially from range. I realized that this lack of control options really causes a somewhat bland taste to playing an Arcane mage, above and beyond just the boring rotations.

edit: armchair design redacted

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So I was doing some digging on Mage Masteries, mainly Mana Adept. I'm starting to become concerned, because we seem to be discussing it without any idea of how it actually works. That's when I noticed something funny on MMO-C's DB entry for Mana Adept. It currently lists the secondary effect for Mana Adept as Spell Haste rather than % damage. So, I checked it against Wowhead's DB entry for Mana Adept. Unfortunately Wowhead seems to be a few builds out of date.

So, is Blizzard in the process of reworking Mana Adept? It could be an artifact of how MMO-C mined the data. But, then again both Flashburn/Frostburn have been changed significantly from their original version. I just don't know.

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Arcane has no way to influence a battlefield apart from just damage.

I'm somewhat surprised at reading this. Do you discount classic arcane spells like Polymorph, Counterspell, Remove Curse and Slow as having zero impact on the state of the battlefield? Now added to these are a blink, its sprint, an AoE knockback, slightly more mage-centric than your proposal, hardly insignificant tools. Plus Time Warp, which isn't about mage control but does boost the power of your allies significantly, including the speed of their own control spells. You also have the gamut of tools that AREN'T arcane spells but still very much usable, like frost nova, cone of cold, and now curtain of frost. I'm really not with you on this lack of battlefield control - just because it isn't necessarily as focused as frost doesn't mean it isn't there.

So I was doing some digging on Mage Masteries, mainly Mana Adept. I'm starting to become concerned, because we seem to be discussing it without any idea of how it actually works.

What don't we know about it? It works in a linear continuous manner whenever you cast a spell at given % of mana, from 0 to its stated value bonus damage based on mastery; it's completely functional in beta right now. That secondary effect is very interesting, however such an effect might be in place only as a pre-existing mechanic that they can tweak if they ever decided to make a set bonus or another class-specific item with Mana Adept in mind. The base effect has not changed.

I'm of the feeling that the design goal of Masteries is for gear to have another stat to balance, not to make a change to rotations and class function. Certainly not quite as much as Mana Adept threatens to. Don't most other classes out there have VERY bland masteries, in terms of interaction? You do what the spec was meant to do, and mastery helps you do it better, not change it. Whether it be DoT/bleed/HoT power, or shield/block potency, or double shots/spells/swings, they're all just helping your abilities scale, not changing the ways you use them. It might be nice, as Zaldinar mentioned on Beta forums, that while theorycrafting fire he found a certain plateau of mastery we may consider weaving in FFB to benefit from its DoT. It might also be nice to plan arcane rotation cycles that optimize mana consumption. But at this point I don't want Blizzard to make mage masteries special, for the sake of complexity, and would hope they neuter these side effects to make Mastery a simple gear balancing game.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm with you on the opinion that the current arcane rotation is listless and sad. It relies on the same tools we have now on live only it is even more limited given the unavailability of unprocced AM and a longer cooldown on ABarr. To me, Mana Adept in its current form is a problem because at X mastery rating and above Y% mana(as a function of X) the bonus from it will outshine the bonus you can get from the core spell, Arcane Blast. If AB was tweaked so that Mana Adept never caught up to the benefit the AB buff provided then the mastery would not change the rotation. It would revert to an arcane flavored damage increase, less simple than others perhaps (more prone to burst and heavily dependent on fight length) but much simpler than it is now.

Given the limited state of ABarr and AM I can't say suggesting AB ramping faster but more potently (24% stacking to 3 instead of 18% to 4) is a great idea, I like a number of the others proposed so far, but it's an option to alleviate the complications of Mana Adept.

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It's not really fair to list off abilities that are classified as Arcane but can be used by any spec. To see what speccing Arcane adds to your battlefield control, you'd have to look at what it can get that the other specs can not. Currently, Improved Blink and Counterspell are in the top two tiers and accessible by any spec. Things speccing Arcane can add are as follows:

Presence of Mind to make a spell instant.

Instant invisibility instead of fading to invisible.

Polymorphed targets are stunned for 3 seconds on being damaged.

Knockback from mana shield being destroyed.

Slow.

Nether Vortex for free Slow casts.

That's a decent amount of new control spells, especially the polymorph stun which can be utilized every 10 seconds, but in a bad situation you'd very quickly expend all your options, which simply doesn't happen with Frost. The Vortex idea was pretty awesome sounding, and right in line with the time/space theme. There are a ton of talented abilities that could be dropped into the Arcane tree that would really expand their toolbox and require few additions to the game that would also fit the time/space theme. Examples:

Time Stop: your next Arcane Explosion stops time for any target it hits, stunning them for 3 seconds.

Reverse Blink: You cause your target to blink 15 yards backwards.

Anti-gravity well: You create a well of anti-gravity beneath your target, lifting them off the ground and making them unable to walk or run.

Lightbend: You expand a bubble around your target that bends all light away from them, temporarily plunging them into darkness and disorienting them for 10 seconds.

Are things like that needed? I'm not sure, but the extent of how clever you can be with what has been given so far is pretty limited, especially compared to Frost.

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Time Stop: your next Arcane Explosion stops time for any target it hits, stunning them for 3 seconds.

This sounds much more interesting to me than Nether Vortex. I've said it before, but I just can't make myself like the talent, because even though it makes it easier to gain the benefits of TtW as well as control the target, it turns an active talented ability into something passive. I would rather see Slow turned into something interesting to use, perhaps Nether Vortex giving a Deep Freeze style mechanic where targets immune to the slow had something else happen instead. Now, that couldn't be a damage boost, because then it'd be required, but some other utility that would be helpful.

I just can't stand behind turning our utility passive, when we have so few things to worry about to begin with. They're trying to expand the gap between decent players and good ones for more classes, but this seems counteractive to that goal. Where's the skill in speccing into Nether Vortex so you can basically ignore Slow from then on? (besides PvP of course)

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Without writing a novel here are a few quick ideas to add mana management tools to the tree:

1.) A "burnout" type ability, probably a cooldown, that would either allow us to cast spells using health instead of mana for 10-15 seconds, or that makes our spells free for that time but causes us to suffer a small percentage of the damage dealt. Somehow, allow us to take a risk during the fight and hurt our health pool to save mana.

2.) Improved mana gem isn't bad but it needs to do something more for our mana pool. This could range from the simple (% more mana on use) to the more complex (gives extra mana at lower mana levels).

3.) I'm a big fan of the suggestions for some sort of energy/mana siphon, a spellsteal version of mana burn if you will, but different from the warlocks' channeled spell.

4.) Give us some sort of mana feedback from damage dealt to targets affected by our Slow.

5.) This may be difficult technically, but a talent that clones a weaker version of nearby activated mana return effects (life tap, innervate, someone else's evocation, dispersion, etc) would be interesting.

6.) New version of Focus Magic, where we give one person a damage or crit boost and get mana back when they crit.

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At the risk of making arcane "too different", one idea I've been toying with is abilities that dramatically affect mana. Perhaps:

1) A spell that consumes 100% of your mana but gives everyone in the raid (except you) 50% of their mana back.

2) A 'leech' mode (similar to Gilthanor's ideas above) where you steal mana instead of dealing damage.

3) "Mana bomb", where you channel a spell that consumes more mana the longer you channel it - and when you stop channeling it explodes for damage relative to how much mana you spent.

The idea is that your mana bar becomes much more erratic; the deltas are much higher. I suppose the negative is that it could be difficult to play (though some would certainly say that's a good thing). Also raid utility skills like #1 run the risk of making arcane mages a "required" role, which Blizzard is trying to avoid. But I think it would interesting to have a class where mana isn't just a slowly diminishing pool.

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I'm somewhat surprised at reading this. Do you discount classic arcane spells like Polymorph, Counterspell, Remove Curse and Slow as having zero impact on the state of the battlefield? Now added to these are a blink, its sprint, an AoE knockback, slightly more mage-centric than your proposal, hardly insignificant tools.

I feel you have severely misunderstood what I mean by "battlefield control".

In your error, I think you have equated "has battlefield control" with "has non-damage spells". I guess I assumed that the term is somewhat self explanitory (after all, it is just a super set of "Crowd Control" which is a term many people understand quite clearly).

So, to correct your interpretation. Battlefield control (or influencing the battlefield) is like crowd control, but on a slightly larger scale (i.e. when the number of targets > 1). It also doesn't have as stringent of effect requirements, i.e. large scale snares can easily be classified battlefield control spells (so things like frost trap, or blizzard, or even frostfire orb).

To explain what I mean using examples, lets take your examples and prove by contradiction. You will never hear anyone say "Damn, that remove curse is a really potent CC spell", similarly, you will never hear someone classify Blink as a CC spell. However, spells like the ranged pet nova, deep freeze, blizzard slow, CoC freeze etc will easily be classified as spells that allow you to impart some form of control over an opponent or the battlefield.

With that out of the way, I hope you can see with a bit more clarity what I was getting at.

Now true, Arcane mages have polymorph, but so do all other mages. The point I was getting at is that beyond the somewhat basic CC spells that all mages (nigh on all classes now) get, there is a enormous gap between Arcane mages and Frost mages as far as battlefield control goes. This was the glaring hole in the toolbox that I wanted to address.

Furthermore, it would be unwise to just "hand waive" away battlefield control as something "frost focuses on", since given the new design in Cata, such 'focus' will not work. I.e given that all specs will do the same amount of damage, you cannot then expect spec A to be the "damage and battlefield control" spec and spec B be the "just damage" spec and expect any form of balance in spec selection.

In short, you can't just say "oh arcane can't have battlefield control since I have arbitrarily decided that such a thing is frost exclusive. Oh and frost will be able to do as much damage as arcane too, so I guess you are SOL".

Such phrases will just not work, especially given that Arcane has nothing right now which it does exclusively.

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Instead of a "leech" (as suggested by Tyfon, Gilthanor, and others), which would end up gimping us on bosses that had no mana, perhaps the following:

Arcane Barrage:

  • No longer consumes the Arcane Blast debuff, but its damage (and mana cost) continues to be affected by the debuff.
  • As is currently implemented on Beta and Live, does not proc Missile Barrage.
  • Remains instant cast with a 5 second cooldown.
  • In addition to its damage, it places a stacking buff (to 5) that restores X mana every 2 seconds for 10 seconds, where X scales (slowly) with Mastery points. X is not affected by the AB debuff.

Pros:

  • Provides us with an additional mana management tool.
  • Rewards players skilled at keeping the buff rolling, but tuned correctly, would also penalize those who simply use ABarr on cooldown as it would lower their dps.
  • The additional mana income would allow us to go into burst mode (i.e. Arcane Blast spam) without as much "worry" that we'll be gimping our dps for a significant amount of time when our other mana management tools are on cooldown (evo, mana gem, etc.).
  • Would provide us with a little bit of help for those times when our MB proc is being stubborn.
  • Would provide additional value to our 31 point talent.

Cons:

  • Could no longer use ABarr to clear our AB debuff, which would mean that either we continue AB spam in hope of a MB proc or cast a couple non-arcane spells until our debuff falls off.
  • It doesn't address any of the other concerns brought up in this thread about AoE, additional CC, etc. but does address the central concern about the lack of tools to manage our mana in conjunction with Mana Adept.

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A simple way to make it boss friendly is to give it the deep freeze treatment. If the target has no mana, health is drained but the mage is still given mana. My only concern with this is that it would need to be weak enough damage that it wouldn't be overpowered when used on non-mana players.

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I´m sure the spell could be coded to know players from NPCs and behave accordingly. Also it would be more fun if it could drain some sort of energy from all classes. Sure warriors don´t have mana but they still give you less of a beating if you take away their rage. So from players it drains whatever makes them tick and on bosses it deals damage instead.

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I'm confused why there's this 'well known' term you are calling battlefield control? Does it mean AoE CC, and if it does why you throw in Deep Freeze and Fingers of Frost? Or does it mean all CC, in which case you could have simply called it: CC.

At any rate I equate Imp. Poly with Deep Freeze, and Incanter's Absorption with one of frost's AoE snares. If we're discounting silence for being in tiers 1/2 then we have to discount improved CoC as being just as available. Suddenly the list of disparity seems smaller, and (all long term damage being equal) Arcane still brings burst advantage with 3 on demand cooldowns, one on demand mobile nuke, and improved escape mechanisms. I think it's completely fair for specs to have roles as long as each brings an advantage the other may not.

Now, Frost's 4 freezes and 4 snares (2 and 2 exclusive ones) may weigh heavily enough in utility to make room for something additional in the Arcane control tool set. Then again they definitely tried not to give us many more new spells beyond the 3 we get from at 81/3/5, and I think they'll stick with that philosophy. There is, after all, plenty of room to modify existing spells still, perhaps some interaction with Arcane Explosion (implosion?), or Arcane Barrage.

With so many expressed Arcane woes I really hope Blizzard must be bringing some changes down the pipeline. I wish they'd talk to us as often as they talk to the Paladins.

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I'm confused why there's this 'well known' term you are calling battlefield control? Does it mean AoE CC, and if it does why you throw in Deep Freeze and Fingers of Frost? Or does it mean all CC, in which case you could have simply called it: CC.

Somewhat, I think you are getting closer to my definition. As I mentioned, I see battlefield control as a superset of CC, hence, by definition, CC is a part of it. However, the reason I choose to not "just" call it CC, is that there are a few other clauses that keep the sets distinct.

I. The first clause is that battlefield control connotes the control of > 1 person simultaneously. The reason I threw DF in there is that DF is rarely used by itself. Most often, it is used in conjunction with things like polymorph. e.g. a frost mage can polymorph one target and DF another, hence having both targets CC'd simultaneously. Arcane cannot combine spells to get this effect. Hence, even though polymorph and DF used in a bubble will be classified as "CCs", together, they can be classified as battlefield control.

II. The second clause that keeps the sets distinct is that, due to the increased number of targets being controlled, the strict definitions of CCs are not the only ones we can apply to 'battlefield control'.

Let me explain.

A snare used on a single target is not normally defined as CC (e.g. when a warrior hamstrings a target, you rarely say that the target is CCd). However, snares applied to multiple targets simultaneously do fit the definition of 'Battlefield Control'. In this way, snares (which are usually not considered as CCs) when applied to multiple targets simultaneously, can be defined as battlefield control. This is also why the new ranged blastwave can fit the bill as a form of battlefield control.

To take a step back, you may be thinking that my inclusion of multi-target snares into the "battlefield control" catagory is somewhat arbitrary. However, this is not the case. As the core proof for my argument, I point you to blizzard's description into their thinking for the new mage spell, Wall of Frost, found here.

Quoting Bashiok...

Wall of Fog (level 85): Creates a line of frost in front of the mage, 30 yards from end to end. Enemies who cross the line are snared and take damage. The mana cost will be designed to make Wall of Fog efficient against groups, not individuals. This spell is intended to give mages a way to help control the battlefield, whether the mage is damaging incoming enemies (Blizzard can be channeled on top of Wall of Fog) or protecting a flag in a Battleground. 10-second duration. 30-second cooldown.

Emphasis mine.

As you can see, blizzard somewhat supports the idea that large scale snares can be defined as "battlefield control". Hence their statement in that post.

Given this, we can see that it is not the use of a single Frost spell, but the fact that Frost can chain together multiple separate spells to exercise a level of battlefield control that is extremely impressive. It is the fact that the spec has access to multiple spells which can be used together to show an impressive display.

The problem then, is not the existence of a single spell here or the lack of a spell there, it is that Arcane doesn't have a robust set of tools that it can exercise to control the battlefield. Now, granted, I am not too sure myself if the final proposition is to have arcane be able to control the battlefield to the level that frost can, but I am most certainly proposing that Arcane should have some battlefield control, since currently, its toolbox is extremely limited, borderline empty.

This is why I said that the glaring hole is in Arcane's toolbox.

On your separate note, I am not discounting silence, however, I am challenging the notion that the base spell (Counterspell) cannot fulfill its function at all. True, having the 4 second silence effect is good, but not having it doesn't make CS a useless spell that should be ignored. That being said, I am not too certain whether the silence effect can be placed in the battlefield control category (since it is only 4 seconds). I would be much more willing to place the actual CS effect (8 second lockout) in that category. Though I understand that this would require the addition of another clause based around effect duration. I'm just not sure yet.

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A snare used on a single target is not normally defined as CC (e.g. when a warrior hamstrings a target, you rarely say that the target is CCd). However, snares applied to multiple targets simultaneously do fit the definition of 'Battlefield Control'.

What if Nether Vortex was changed to say something like, "Arcane Explosion spreads Slow to all targets in range if a damaged target has an existing Slow debuff. This effect can happen once every 6 seconds." Internal cooldown subject to tweaking, of course.

This actually makes the talent interesting, as well as adding an effect, rather than turning Slow into something passive. This would help Arcane benefit from Torment the Weak while soloing or in PvP, while helping it bring battlefield control against adds in PvE.

I would note, though, that Arcane is able to get Improved Cone of Cold, if necessary.

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Part of the reason I'm... pessimistic... about arcane receiving much change is in this thread: World of Warcraft - English (NA) Forums -> Exciting Cataclysm talent trees so far

Put a bit more succinctly, for those who perhaps won't read the thread: Ghostcrawler asks "We're interested in opinions on which current Cataclysm talent trees you find the most exciting. ". Three of the first four posts say, essentially, "Arcane Mage is the most exciting." Post number 10 says "Mage - The new Arcane mechanic looks sweet".

What new arcane mechanic? Have I missed something? With feedback like this on the official forums, we're unlikely to get many arcane changes. Perhaps we should be looking for ways to tweak arcane to make it interesting, instead of looking for whole new mechanics. What can be done to tweak arcane then?

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Part of the reason I'm... pessimistic... about arcane receiving much change is in this thread: World of Warcraft - English (NA) Forums -> Exciting Cataclysm talent trees so far

Put a bit more succinctly, for those who perhaps won't read the thread: Ghostcrawler asks "We're interested in opinions on which current Cataclysm talent trees you find the most exciting. ". Three of the first four posts say, essentially, "Arcane Mage is the most exciting." Post number 10 says "Mage - The new Arcane mechanic looks sweet".

What new arcane mechanic? Have I missed something? With feedback like this on the official forums, we're unlikely to get many arcane changes. Perhaps we should be looking for ways to tweak arcane to make it interesting, instead of looking for whole new mechanics. What can be done to tweak arcane then?

This is the other side of the "lets have a forum where all DPS can offer comment" coin. You will have people who don't know much about what they are commenting, and really cannot even justify what they are saying, giving feedback that is purely superficial at best.

The best thing you can do is post in that very thread and draw attention to other posts or threads that are taking a look at arcane at a level that goes deeper than the surface view.

Remember, a paladin or a druid are nowhere near as invested in actually playing arcane as a career arcane mage will be. They will not think about things such as "is the actual rotation of the spec interesting" or "is there even a theme to this spec" or even "is my toolbox as robust as it should be". They will merely look at a single talent and go "yea that looks cool, so I guess this spec is fine". Also remember, Arcane is a unique spec in that, throughout all its incarnations, it has almost always been woefully misunderstood by players who don't have first hand experience with it. I never did figure out the reason for this phenomena, but it most certainly seems to be the case, imho.

Hopefully, this is not something new to blizzard, and they will temper their consumption of the feedback in that thread with the above points in mind.

That being said, if you are a mage who does understand the issues and worries that have been raised across the numerous threads out there right now, now really is the time that you need to let your voice be heard.

I would urge all mages privy to this discussion to go to that post and help present our case. Remember to cross reference the discussion and analysis that has been made across multiple threads and maybe even (gently) inform others who are perhaps not as well versed with the details of the issues that they may be out of their depth.

But overall yes, I do agree that it is somewhat unsettling when the superficial feedback surrounding a topic takes precedence over a well thought out and detailed argument. Let us ensure that this does not occur with the arcane spec.

In short, if you are a mage concerned about the future of Arcane, consider this your call to arms.

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In an effort to condense the Arcane tree's issues that we have been discussing so far, into bite sized, silver bullet style, chunks (the way blizzard likes it), I prepared the following. Feel free to vet it, add to it, edit it, use it and refer to it as you wish in your feedback posts.

Arcane Tree Primary concerns:

- Lack of an engaging casting experience:

Beta Arcane is fixed into a static rotation. Primarily due to the fact that AM is a proc, and ABr is a cooldown. Coupled with the fact that neither of Arcane's three damage spells synergize together in any meaningful way apart from just "do more damage", this leads to bland gameplay to the spec.

- Talents that add no meaningful gameplay to the spec:

Most arcane talents either provide passive bonuses to the spec, or perform a function that does not change what you would be doing anyway. E.g. Nether vortex + TTW does not actually change what you would be casting (you would be casting Arcane Blasts whether or not the talents existed), it essentially just gives you a blanket 6% damage bonus. Arcane needs talents that mix up what you would be doing, or make you want to cast things differently.

- No way to interact with Arcane's mastery (No real mana management to be done):

While Mana Adept is good, there is currently no way to actually manage your mana. Using mana gem and evoc on cooldown does not an interesting and dynamic gameplay make. Arcanists would much prefer a dynamic way to manage their mana. Take note, mana management through rotations is currently not possible, since Arcane's rotation is static due to AM being a proc and ABr having a cooldown. Couple this with the lack of any new mana management tools/options, Arcane has no way to interact with it's mana management mastery.

- Lack of spell/talent synergies:

Examples of spell/talent synergies:

For fire: Cauterize + mage ward + molten shields + blazing speed.

For frost: Piercing chill + fingers of frost or brain freeze.

In both examples, synergies between talents exist that change your gameplay or allow you to use multiple talents and spells for specific effects. No such synergies exist for Arcane.

- No ranged AoE options:

Currently, Arcane is the only ranged DPS spec that has no real options as far as reliable ranged AoE is concerned.

- No real "battlefield control" options:

Currently, Arcane has little to no way to influence a battlefield other then just through damage. Examples of "battlefield control" are:

Fire: ranged blastwave

Frost: blizzard slow, ranged nova

- Lack of an overall theme and talents that build on/extend this theme:

There is no evident theme to arcane. The talent tree mentions "time and space" but there are no talents that build on this theme. Blizzard states they want arcane to be about mana management, but as mentioned above, there is no mana management gameplay to be had.

Examples of trees with solid themes and talents that extend the theme:

-Fire-

Theme: Explosions, fire DoTs, burning things and being "too hot to handle"

Talents that extend this theme: Ignite, Cauterize, Blazing speed, Pyromaniac, Impact, Imp Flamestrike, Firestarter

-Frost-

Theme: Slowing things, freezing things and shattering them

Talents: Shatter, Imp CoC, Ice Shards, WE Freeze, Deep Freeze, Frostfire orb, brain freeze.

I think I've covered all the important points. I tried to keep them as terse as possible since it seems that is the way Blizzard likes it. If there is anything that I have missed or anything that should be changed, please feel free to add to this list or let me know and I will edit it here.

edit: added "mana management tools" clause.

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Part of the reason I'm... pessimistic... about arcane receiving much change is in this thread: World of Warcraft - English (NA) Forums -> Exciting Cataclysm talent trees so far

Put a bit more succinctly, for those who perhaps won't read the thread: Ghostcrawler asks "We're interested in opinions on which current Cataclysm talent trees you find the most exciting. ". Three of the first four posts say, essentially, "Arcane Mage is the most exciting." Post number 10 says "Mage - The new Arcane mechanic looks sweet".

What new arcane mechanic? Have I missed something? With feedback like this on the official forums, we're unlikely to get many arcane changes. Perhaps we should be looking for ways to tweak arcane to make it interesting, instead of looking for whole new mechanics. What can be done to tweak arcane then?

This worries me a lot.

The problem is people are looking at all the fun utility Arcane has, which in fairness, will probably be lots of fun to play around in PvP and levelling. No one is really taking a cohesive look at the talent tree and how it impacts on PvE fun.

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I did try to elaborate on that sentiment a little, in Page 9 of the Blizzard thread: World of Warcraft - English (NA) Forums -> Exciting Cataclysm talent trees so far

What Arcane does have, which some people mistakenly take for 'lots of cool new mechanics which make the Arcane tree exciting' is a bunch of gimmicky utility talents, such as Imp Blink / Prismatic cloak / Invocation. By themself they might sound fun, but i'm not convinced people are looking at the bigger picture.

Once more people start playing Arcane in Cataclysm, they'll realise that having a few gimmick utility talents will not make up for all the other shortcomings we're bringing up here. They won't address concerns regarding lack of mana management tools, lack of ways to manage Mana Adapt, stale rotation and playstyle, lack of theme and synergy with talents (unlike Fire talents) and so forth. Long term, after the initial novelty of new utility talents wears off, those are the things that will matter most.

Many of the conditions people base the "Oooh Arcane looks fun!" conclusion on - pay no mention to the aforementioned. And all of that forms a much bigger aspect to being an arcane mage for the next 2 years, much moreso than little things like whether you get +75% movespeed after blinking or whether you can use Invisibility instantly. Those talents are meant to be the icing on the cake, but you still need the cake.

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This worries me a lot.

The problem is people are looking at all the fun utility Arcane has, which in fairness, will probably be lots of fun to play around in PvP and levelling. No one is really taking a cohesive look at the talent tree and how it impacts on PvE fun.

Will it be lots of fun though? If they thought further on it at all, they'd realize the "fun" stuff Arcane got isn't that amazing. The only new things are Nether Vortex, the polymorph stun, and exploding mana shield knockback. All of which are variants of Frost talents or baseline functions.

Nether Vortex is a chill effect mimic.

The Polymorph stun is a lot like Deep Freeze in that it has a prerequisite, but the drawbacks are worse and DF also treats the target as frozen, allowing for a damage burst. Also, Frost Nova->DF is faster and easier to pull off than Poly->Fire Blast (cast poly, then break it before it heals) when you need a stun.

And lastly, the mana shield knock back is worse than Shattered Barrier.

I'm sure others differ in opinion on this, but even though these new abilities are fun, you'd still choose Frost spec if you want to do what they do.

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Nether Vortex is a chill effect mimic.

The Polymorph stun is a lot like Deep Freeze in that it has a prerequisite, but the drawbacks are worse and DF also treats the target as frozen, allowing for a damage burst. Also, Frost Nova->DF is faster and easier to pull off than Poly->Fire Blast (cast poly, then break it before it heals) when you need a stun.

And lastly, the mana shield knock back is worse than Shattered Barrier.

- I agree with your NV comment, but it's not like we just traded AB for Frostbolt. It's very useful, if not entirely creative, and does add ranged attack speed slow where Frostbolt does not.

- Polymorph stun is not as powerful as Deep Freeze because it can occur more often. It may not be so useful as an on-demand stun, but it is MORE useful in that it can extend the duration of your main CC by 3 seconds. It's pretty unique, in that they added some CC to our CC so that we can CC while we CC! *ahem* sorry.

- Incater's Absorption should not be equivalent to Shattered Barrier, it has unique advantages and disadvantages, occurring more often but probably removing the target from you for less time (unless you have a ledge to exploit =D)

To me, Arcane will be a fine tree almost as soon as our damage spells are fixed to create interesting gameplay or valid AoE potential. As Tyrian says, we need the cake foundation underneath our layer of delicious arcane frosting or we'll never stand up with the other cakes... er... specs.

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So a new beta patch is up. Here are the Arcane changes (full listing can be found here):

Arcane

* Arcane Intellect now also increases spell power by 6%.

* Arcane Explosion base damage increased by 33%.

* Blink now costs 12% of base mana, down from 21%.

An important thing to note is that after looking over the entirety of the patch notes it looks like the "numbers balancing phase" of the beta seems to have begun. Which would mean that we may have, unfortunately, missed our window of opportunity to get any significant changes done to Arcane.

I say this only due to personal experience with previous WoW betas. As those of you who were in the WoTLk beta can attest to, after blizzard started balancing numbers, they became very hesitant to make any changes of the scope that Arcane needs right now.

Hopefully, this is not the case.

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I notice from the glyph changes listed in Akiwoce's post in the Cataclysm mage changes thread that the current Glyph of Arcane Explosion has been removed. This maybe over-optimistic, but it seems like that might be leaving an an avenue open for solving at least some of the AoE problems we have been discussing. With the new glyph system where all possible glyphs are available there wouldn't be the pressure to drop AOE focussed glyphs for single target. A new Glyph of Mana gem might also add some options for the mana management which we lack.

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Mana gems don't offer anything interesting to mana management; we already plan to mash them on cooldown. The only way a glyph would be interesting is if, based on our mastery rating, it were competing with another damage-increasing glyph.

About the talent tree feedback: people outside the beta are really excited because Arcane has a good ratio of dps talents to fun/utility talents. If those dps talents were changed to make the play style more engaging, sure, that is desirable. But I think many of you are conflating that talent structure with the play style problems you're experiencing in the beta, when it's simply a different question.

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After speaking to my Mage-playing housemate, we've come up with an interesting change to Mana Adept, one that would mean playing as an Arcane Mage would involve balancing your current mana at a specific level rather than simply topping it up to full, thus turning mana regeneration into a balancing act rather than merely something that happens between Arcane Blasts.

The idea? Reverse Mana Adept, so you deal *more* damage the *less* mana you have. Can you really afford to let Evocation tick for its full amount? How many ticks do you need to get you to your next mana gem? Let it tick too much, you've just deprived yourself of your maximum potential damage. Don't let it tick enough, you won't have the mana available for your spells before the gem comes off cooldown.

As it stands now, Mana Adept punishes you for casting your spells, and cripples your damage when you need to offload burst DPS. Reversing it would ramp up your damage quickly during burst segments, as well as force you to manage your spellcasting against your mana regeneration, rather than just having another stat that you just get more of to get better.

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