FEEDBACK: Mage Class Changes

UPDATED June 10

Mage

  • Shimmer charge count increased to 2.
  • Shimmer cooldown Increased to 25 seconds (was 20 seconds).
    • Developers’ notes: After listening to feedback and more playtesting, we are returning both charges of Shimmer at a slightly higher cooldown cost. Our goal with the change was to bring more it inline with the other talents on the row, but in doing so, Shimmer lost a lot of its identity. If the other talents on the tier continue to underperform, we’ll look at ways we can enhance them to be more attractive options while up against Shimmer.
  • Focus Magic now also grants the caster 1% Intellect, stacking up to 8 times when their Focus Magic target critically strikes.
    • Developers’ notes: We’d like for Focus Magic to reward the caster a bit more for taking an ally friendly talent.
  • Frost and Fire Ward removed from all specs.
    • Developers’ notes: Compared to some of the other abilities, these two landed a little flat and overlapped a bit too much with each of the Barriers.

Fire Specialization

  • Alexstrasza’s Fury now also makes your next Pyroblast or Flamestrike deal 35% increased damage.
    • Developers’ notes: We’re looking to make this more competitive with the Flame On and the future Phoenix Flames replacement.

In this thread, we’re discussing Mage class changes coming in World of Warcraft: Shadowlands.

Read more about initial class changes in the World of Warcraft blog.

This initial post will be updated periodically throughout the Shadowlands test. Please check back here for information about further updates to this class as they are made.

Thank you for your testing and feedback!

21 Likes

I’ve been playing as an Arcane Mage and will be for the duration of the Shadowlands, Alpha and Beta Tests.

Personally, I feel this class is very simple to play as. Mobs are pretty trivial and I’m happy I can use Mirror Image again to help me kill some of the tougher foes.

Other than that, Mages are put together pretty nicely so far. I’ll provide more feedback as needed as I level my character.

6 Likes

Yeah the only thing with mages that I didn’t quite get was why did they get frost ward and fire ward back if they kept their spec shields which are better? That seemed like two abilities that were returned for the sake of returning things more than a usage. If anything give them a lower level ward that does frost/fire damage then eventually let it upgrade to their spec specific ones or just get rid of those two altogether.

24 Likes

These work on top of the spec specific barrier spells, but only absorb Frost/Fire damage respectively. They’re backup defensives for specific situations. At 50 they absorb a bit more than 10% of my health.

4 Likes

Maybe I’m wrong, maybe they’ll see more use, but I think something like dampen magic would have been a bit more useful (maybe made into a raid wide buff that has a short duration). I’m no mage main so maybe they’ll be more commonly used than I expect.

I have been playing WoW since BC and an Arcane Mage since BfA, but I have almost always played casters, usually a Warlock. I have really enjoyed my time as a mage. I will try to keep this feedback to only the changes made to Arcane from live BfA servers to the current Shadowlands alpha.

First off, I love the spells added back into the class as a whole, as well as the spells to each spec. As an arcane mage I am excited to use Mirror Image, Managems, and Fireblast as well as Fire and Frost ward in PvP or during niche dungeon and raid encounters.

For the most part the core rotation has stayed relatively the same. I will make a separate section below for my thoughts on the new talents. I first want to comment on the new Touch of the Magi and Mirror Image spells, specifically about how they alter the rotation. Firstly, I think they are good additions to the Arcane rotation, as primarily a raider I am excited to plan my long term mana usage and movement pattern around these CDs. However, they feel incredibly clunky, Mirror Image less so than TotM. Mirror Image feels less bad because it lasts 40 seconds and has a 2 minute CD, while TotM only lasts 8 seconds and has a 45 second CD. These spells on their own feel fine, but together such as in the opener or when some combination of these 2 spells and/or Arcane Power line up, they begin to feel clunky and wasteful. And taking the Rune of Power talent just feels even worse. An opener for example might look like:

  1. Arcane Blast
  2. Charged Up
  3. Mirror Image
  4. Rune of Power
  5. Arcane Power
  6. Touch of the Magi
  7. Arcane Blast (At this point RoP and AP have 10 seconds minus 2 GCDs = ~7 seconds left and Mirror Image has sat unused for 3 GCDs = ~4 seconds)

This feels incredibly wasteful, but more importantly it feels really, really slow. As an Arcane Mage I already feel a bit slow at the start of an encounter, but I know that after casting Charged Up, RoP, AP, and then finally my first Arcane Blast with 4 Arcane Charges and a 110% damage buff (with Overpowered talented) that I am gana land some huge Arcane Blasts and my damage is going to surge to the top of the meter by the time RoP and AP fall off. It’s worth those few seconds of delay to absolutely pop off.

Now, I haven’t been able to test these new spells fully in a new raid and I am not a serious SimCrafter so I can’t say that even with the new spells this is what the optimal opener will be, I am basing this purely off my intuition as someone who has played the game for a while.

I think only a small change needs to be made to make Arcane significantly more manageable with the new Shadowlands spells/talents. My suggestion would be to take Touch of the Magi off the GCD. This would make the opener ramp up time much closer to what it currently is on live. The only difference would be an extra GCD by casting Mirror Image, but I am more than happy to do that since it lasts for 40 seconds, has a 2 minute CD, and feels pretty awesome to have 3 copies of myself blasting my target along with me.

I also think this would make the more intended use of TotM, AOE, more fun. It would also be really cool if you could cast TotM again within it’s 8 second window to explode it whenever you want. Currently on live it feels really bad when a bunch of adds die and then 1 second later TotM explodes. Say you are fighting a mob with 3 or 4 smaller mobs; you cast TotM then 2 Arcane Blasts and then the smaller adds are about to die so you cast TotM again and it instantly explodes getting the killing blow on all the smaller mobs. I think this change would make AoE more engaging for arcane than spamming Arcane Explosion. If balanced correctly, it could even make it more beneficial in terms of overall AoE DPS to TotM one mob, Arcane Blast it a couple times, then 4 seconds later release TotM to finish off the smaller mobs providing even more choice and skillful play. I think TotM as a spell already provides some awesome gameplay to Arcane but with just a little more control over TotM I think it would be really rewarding when properly executed.

This has been way longer than I intended so I will quickly mention the talents.

Amplification - this makes Arcane Missiles when cast with clearcasting feel super rewarding, it’s awesome to just have an absolute bombardment of missiles flying out of your hand - PLEASE balance this well with Rule of Three so that it is viable because it’s awesome and way more fun than RoT.

Focus Magic - the 5% crit buff you recieve when your buffed target crits feels too small and not very exciting, probably not something I would alter my rotation over, or even bother making a TMW/WA to track the buff. I would say a better/more engaging talent would be: “Increase the target’s chance to critically hit with spells by 5% for 30min. When the target critically hits your next spell has a 25% increased chance to critically hit, stacking up to 3 times. Cannot be cast on self. Limit 1 target.” The stacking part could either affect the crit chance of a single spell, so 25% with 1 stack, 50% with 2, and 75% with 3, or could be the amount of spell casts that get the 25% crit buff, so if you have 2 stacks your next 2 spell casts get a 25% increase crit chance. Either way I think this makes the talent more engaging.

Enlightened - this is awesome and rewards good mana management even more, I enjoy the Azerite Trait that inspired this.

49 Likes

Personally I miss the glyph that gave wards a 5% chance to reflect. I almost lost a duel with a dk in Dalaran because I was laughing too hard after he hit himself with chains of ice

20 Likes

Un-pruing related:

  • Baseline Arcane Explosion, Fireblast, Frostbolt: feels good to be able to kill off lots of small stuff with AE as any spec or throw out a frostbolt to slow something.
  • Mana Gems: Feels mage-y, reminds me of vanilla, I like it.
  • Fire/Frost Ward: Un-pruning might have gone too far. What if they lasted 30m but had a different effect? Feels like there’s too much overlap with the other barriers.

General feedback:

  • Amplification: Looks awesome, hope it’s worth taking.
  • Mirror Image: Really like that this is baseline just for the flavor.
  • Focus Magic: Like that this is an option, hope it’s actually worth taking in some situations - hard to see it ever beating rune for either fire or arcane.
  • Touch of the Magi: Good that this is on-demand, but as was already mentioned, this is clunky to use with Arcane Power due to the huge windup required. By the time I’m done casting rune, mirror image, arcane power, and probably a covenant ability, all the GCDs will have eaten up significant duration of one or more of those abilities.
  • Shimmer: Only has 1 charge now, but the cooldown is longer than blink? Hoping that’s a bug or work in progress.
  • Displacement: Where’d it go? This was a fun spell.
43 Likes

I also miss displacement. I understand we’re getting alter time baseline, but being especially slippery as arcane felt fun!

36 Likes

I’ve now played through the open content as a frost mage, so wanted to give some simple feedback.

The leveling feel:
This has actually been some of the smoothest leveling I’ve had as an under-geared mage in a long time, partially due to the new spell changes.

  1. The extra ice lance on brain freeze gave a much smoother feel of burst.
  2. Mirror images baseline, along with them “taunting”, allows me to take on larger quest mobs much easier than before. This was a great improvement to the experience.

Rotational Feedback:
The two charges from flurrying from a brain freeze makes the glacial spike rotation much smoother. Great solution to a “cancel cast” type rotation, which made me dislike the spec for nearly a couple years now. In addition, having the two ice lances makes soloing much easier as well. Of course, this didn’t seem to work well with another frost mage in the group, or perhaps I was just screwing up, I couldn’t quite tell due to paying more attention to mechanics in the dungeon.

Radiant Spark testing:
Unfortunately, due to the lack of level 50 target dummies in the area Bastion (or at least that I could find), I couldn’t really test radiant spark very well. I did do a bit of testing on mobs to try and see if I could manipulate the rotation to have the 40% buff with glacial spike consistently.

By doing Radiant Spark -> Ebonbolt -> Flurry -> Glacial Spike, took a baseline glacial spike from 4414 to 6180 damage. Put in a rune of power at the start, put it up to 8652 damage, so the numbers did multiply (4414 * 1.4 * 1.4). What I’m more curious of is how well this would work and feel in a real rotation, which I can’t tell without a good target dummy. If anyone knows where one is I could test with, let me know!

Thanks again for all the hard work.

3 Likes

i’m not really sure how fire blast is incredibly useful as frost. to me if would feel better/make more sense if we got fireball back instead. i compare it to fire spec getting frostbolt back, where they get a spell they can cast that gives a beneficial debuff, and makes sense to use often in a rotation. for frost to get one charge of an instant cast spell on a 10s cooldown just doesn’t seem proportional, and i’m not sure in what situations i would choose to use it.

arcane explosion does make sense, and i enjoy having access to it again.

i agree with those above who don’t see much use of frost/fire ward. i don’t see a ton of use in them coming back (other than pvp duels maybe?).

i desperately miss the two charges of shimmer.

19 Likes

The only use of fireblast that I could think of is simply as a during movement ability, that would be slightly stronger than just spamming ice lance. I wouldn’t mind seeing something more from it though, or perhaps a couple charges to make it really feel good as a movement ability (a 2-3 seconds of movement vs 1.5)

The shimmer thing is something I actually commented on elsewhere. A single charge while also having a 20 seconds cooldown seems like a downgrade, which defeats the purpose of a talent. If they want to make it really feel like a talent but want to nerf, say, the double distance, perhaps keeping it at a 15 seconds cooldown, or just having the movement ability added on to the base blink ability, would make it much more valuable without the second charge.

I just went back to ice flows instead.

16 Likes

I play a frost mage as my main routinely. The alpha test gave back a bunch of spells we used to have? Great, they’re fun and utility-wise useful, if the use is coming and we can pair up our bars quickly for those but, the GCD actually feels like a bit of a CD every time I use a spell atm. I can’t wait for the return of Altered Time, I miss such a great utility spell.

Was a mage for several years in the early days but dropped the class eventually due to dissatisfaction. And as someone who always likes wizard archetypes in RPGs, I feel like WoW mages don’t capture the spellcaster/wizard feeling much at all and there needs to be a lot more done than just restoring the 3 spells (Frostbolt Fire Blast and AE).

I want to make a longer post eventually but it really comes down to the damage ratios between spells; way too much of the class’s damage is wrapped up in cooldowns and procs. As a particularly egregious example, there is no reason Glacial Spike needs to deal 10x as much damage as a Frostbolt; its swung so far that instead of emphasizing the big moments of damage it actively devalues the basic cast-time spells. There is no need to go beyond 2x, 3x, 4x damage ratios for emphasis, at some point the ratios will just subvert the actual intent. Frostbolt and Fireball do nothing and never feel like they are actually worth the time to stand still and cast while any melee class can deal 4x as much damage instantly by pressing a single button and hopping around the target.

The core class fantasy was always a nuker whose reward for having to stand still and charge spells was a massive burst of damage at the end of that cast time. Without having big nukes that deal big damage the class feels like you’re just doing extra work for less reward.

So my feedback is too little, way too little. Focusing in on the actual spells:

Arcane Explosion: This is a big win, having basic AE damage for fire and frost is good. Fun spell. I’d like to have Blizzard and Flamestrike for other specs as well, especially so Arcane mages can have an option to AOE from range if they need to.

Fire Blast: Traditionally our most useful spell, this is good but it needs to do more damage to be useful at all. Even trying to finish off the last bit of health on a target while questing feels bad, it just doesn’t hit hard enough to cover gaps in spells.

Frostbolt: This is fine for fire, useless for arcane. It’d be nice if this benefited from Arcane charges maybe, or else did a lot more damage for Arcane mages baseline. It’s useless for Arcane because the damage is terrible and Slow is a better slow.

48 Likes

I don’t know if this is a bug or not, but Phoenix Flames on the 35 tier in the Fire tree appears to not contribute to Hot Streak, which seems really strange given every other talent on the tier is explicitly designed to help with Hot Streak management. I’m not 100% sure what the point of Phoenix Flames is with that in place.

12 Likes

In terms of mage in alpha currently: Overall, the continued removal of movement abilities of mage worries me. Warlock has always been the immobile range class of the game and ice floes being limited to one spec in legion, the increase in the CD of shimmer and the removal of one charge shimmer means that mage is slowly changing from being the slippery range class that it has portrayed for so long. Now this without altered time being available since it unlocks at level 58 so this just goes down as a small concern until that is available. (AT is currently a minute CD though) On top of this, Frost and Arcane both have a alternative to movement in the shimmer row, with ice floes and slipstream. Fire does not. They have blast wave (A dps ability in the defensive/movement row has always been a bit strange to me). Blast wave to base line and an alternative movement ability there I think at least makes some more sense.

Mirror images baseline is a welcome change.

Focus magic doesn’t seem like a great talent overall. It feels very feast or famine. In terms of upper end content, either it will be required to be taken to be placed on a specific class/spec or it won’t be taken at all and every mage will at some level resent that they can’t take one of the other two if the first option is the end result. It’s difficult to sometimes get players to rebuff after a battle rez, much less give up an entire talent row. Believe this leads to much more resentment and infighting than new or innovative strategies in most content.

Spec specifics:

Fire: Alexstrasza’s fury is not competitive in any content. Talent either needs a rework or have some buffs added to it. (2 charges, extended range, both?)

Phoenix Flame’s not contributing to Hot streak makes the talent more sub optimal than it already is. Should 100% contribute to hotstreak at the very least, and if it’s competing against flame on the CD probably needs to be less than 30 seconds.

Conflag might be the least fun talent to take on any mage spec. The extra damage done is minimal and it directly conflicts with searing touch as it only works with fireball. Potentially a rework to make it work with fire blast/pyro instead of fireball, though I’d prefer something like the pyretic incantation from legion.

Which leads into another topic: replacing unused talents. In legion (for fire mage) we had phoenix flames, flame on, pyro bracer procs, scorch belt, and meteor. With the removal of the artifact and integrating the pyro bracers and scorch belt into the talent tree, going from Legion to BFA (with the standard current fire build), we essentially lost the 15 level talent row, phoenix flames, and the pyro bracers. When current abilities are added to the talent rows, it is guaranteed an ability is lost. Either you pick the ability that was baseline, losing anything else in the row, or you pick a different talent and lose the original baseline ability. A different way to integrate iconic abilities into the spec rather than a talent row should be looked at imo.

Frost: Enjoy that double ice lance is now intended rather than something that had to be cheesed with haste/shimmer. Feel like Arcane/fire getting frostbolt has a lot more use that frost getting fireblast. AE is great for getting those hits on lots of mobs and frostbolt slows (though the arcane slow spell slows more so ? but more on that for the arcane section). Would be nice to see frost mages have a reason to hit fireblast. Don’t have an active idea for this but throwing it out there in case someone else might.

The talent issue comes up again in frost as well. In Legion there were Weak auras made to count the amount of frostbolts that would be cast between Fingers of Frost or Brain freeze procs. Frozen touch is pretty obviously a way to prevent/combat that. However it again falls into category of if you take it you lose the frost bracers (chain reaction) or the artifact ability (ebonbolt) in the 35 talent row which you could have as baseline. There are increases to the proc rates of Brain Freeze and Fingers of Frost that are in there but it still doesn’t feel great when you see it. Similar though not as egregious is the freezing rain talent on row 45.

Arcane: So some big things. Equiqose from azerite traits has now taken the place of Touch of the Magi in the talent tree and Touch is now an active ability that you have to press rather than being passive. This is a much better way of changing the talent tree rather than what was done to fire and frost going from legion to BFA. Nothing feels lost and there’s a new option. Agree with previous posters that touch during AP feels very awkward but we also don’t have the 5 seconds of increased time form the level 56 Rank 2 so I will hold some reservation. It is also affected by haste so judging it at current level probably isn’t a fair representation. Arcane getting frostbolt is nice to the flavor but slow is a superior slow and is instant cast. So it feels less cool or needed.

Speaking of Arcane power…
Arcane power being a 3 minute CD instead of the current 1.5 makes absolutely no sense to me and I can’t see any reason for it and hope beyond hope it is just an oversight. There are no buffs anywhere else on the class that make up for doubling of the specs major CD. Simply can’t get the reasoning on this one. AP at 1.5 minutes is the sole reason for what made the spec used on some fights in BFA and the short CD is one of the perks of the class. And only lasting for 10 seconds (15 after max level) for a 3 minute CD is unheard of.

Moonkin have baseline 3 min CD for 20 seconds.
Frost mage is 3 min for 30 seconds.
Aff is Dareglare which is 3 minutes for 20 seconds
Destro is 3 minutes for 30 seconds
Demo is 1.5 minutes for 15 seconds.
Hunter is 2 minutes for 20 seconds.

I’ve just hit the range specs here but a baseline 10 seconds for 3 minutes and it gives 30% (can talent into 60%) seems very off.

68 Likes

I didn’t notice the Phoenix Flame thing, but it’s way more usable now that it doesn’t interact with hot streak. Assuming that is not a bug and it parses competitively at any rate. The travel time makes it very awkward to use with heating up, as you can’t capitalize on procs normally the way Fire Blast can (or even Alexstraza’s Fury if you’re in range). Being an independent spell makes it really good functionally, as it can now just cover movement with actually good damage, or provide on-demand burst, and not interfere with your rotation. It is kind of a shame that while the other specs get Fire Blast back, fire essentially still doesn’t have that functionality because the upgraded fire blast needs to be saved for hot streaks. Phoenix fills that role very nicely now.

4 Likes

Completely agree with this concern. It feels like there was a decision made to reduce overall mage mobility, and it definitely cuts into the core class feel of glass cannon but slippery damage dealer.

I can think of a few reasons this might be happening:

Shimmer is too good as a talent, to the extent the other choices in the row are rarely taken. That’s probably true, but reducing overall mobility to fix a talent problem isn’t the answer. Shimmer is strong because it does two things (+1 charge, and adds castable while casting) that would be decent by themselves. Making either one of those effects baseline and putting the other on the talent would make for a more interesting choice in that row without reducing overall mobility. Would it really be game-breaking if baseline blink were castable while casting? I think we’d be okay.

Alter Time adds mobility and needs to be balanced out. Alter Time does add mobility, but it’s on a 1 minute cooldown and needs to be pre-planned. If un-pruning means that existing abilities get nerfed to compensate, is that really un-pruning? If I have to give up mobility abilities that I can use reactively on a shorter cooldown in exchange for Alter Time, then I’d rather not have Alter Time. That’s a bad trade.

Displacement overlaps with Alter Time Sort of, but fire and frost ward overlap more closely with the spec barriers, and those didn’t see changes. Also, losing the blink cooldown reset portion of Displacement is pretty significant and there’s nothing in Alter Time that makes up for that.

tl;dr: please bring back Displacement and solve talent problems such that mage mobility isn’t reduced overall. Being slippery is part of what makes the class fun.

58 Likes

I definitely agree with this, but I feel like the problem is that this nerf doesn’t really do much to negate the usefulness of Shimmer, it just makes the mage who still take it feel less enjoyable.

Like you said, I’d love it if the castable while casting aspect of shimmer was made baseline, and this talent can merely be giving two charges to blink, or even put Displacement here as a thing for any mage.

6 Likes