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:
- Arcane Blast
- Charged Up
- Mirror Image
- Rune of Power
- Arcane Power
- Touch of the Magi
- 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.