Feedback: Mages

I confirmed that this is how it works on live. The timer is a double edged sword I think.

On one hand you can waste a lot of stacks, and sometimes the effect does nothing if you don’t reach full stacks and have a longer period before another combat.

On the other hand, the timer prevents what I will call “unhealthy-optimization,” where you may want to enter certain pulls with high amount of stacks. This can lead to things like casting frostbolt at the tail end of a pull becoming suboptimal, and having to stop your gameplay loop tends to be a very annoying mechanic.

I have not spent the time to form an opinion on what I think is right, just outlining some perspectives.

One option I’m considering is having Cold Front drop out of combat immediately, and then reducing the number of casts needed.

Edit: Actually the idea above would probably pressure frost mages to try and stay in combat for as long as possible, and create this dynamic where they want to chain pull when their party members might not

The buff timer on cold front doesn’t really help with having to time the proc to get good use out of the orb. That’s another problem with the ability, although spamming ice lance at the tail end of a pack is something I could deal with if I had to. What would actually be good is attaching the orb activation to another spell - like comet storm, for instance, could be required in the talent path, and your next comet storm also spawns at orb at the location. Or put it on frost nova. Or a new button. Something else other than just auto-cast. I like fractured frost a lot, but cold front just doesn’t feel good to use right now.

E: Harmony already has infinite duration and it feels much better, this should really just be a standard for long-term buffs.

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I guess you could just make it refresh Orb too, but in general this slows the pace of your rotation. It’s more controllable but you trade that for efficiency.

There’s merit to the feeling you get when you spam Frostbolts in Deathborne and Icy Veins and you’re launching orbs left and right.

I think Arcane Harmony is a poor comparison. Firstly it os used as a combo piece, and it only takes 3-4 casts to stack up unlike the 30 you need for Cold Front. They feel very different, they are used differently.

Arcane, especially Kyrian Arcane, becomes all about your stacks in downtime. Frost has a lot of other things going on - they don’t really have down time. As such Cold Front is probably intentionally not as focal.

It’s far from impossible to maintain your stacks between pulls, 30 seconds is long enough. It’s just not fun to have to prioritize in such a way, the opportunity cost is too high. Completing the Cold Front is a massive damage boost. That’s why it takes a full 30 bolt to actually achieve. If anything the Cold Front build is even more focused on this build-up because the payoff is much greater. But the stack being able to expire just adds a lot of unnecessary stress to playing the build, you can manage the buff just fine if you know what you’re doing, it’s very possible to get full value out of the orbs, but the stress is implicit in the current timed design and imo doesn’t really need to be there for skill expression or anything.

E: and just to be clear, Cold Front might be less stressful to manage with a raid boss, but the way the tree is built currently heavily pushes the build toward cleave and M+ usage because of Fractured Frost pathing and its synergy.

First impressions of General class tree:

-Rune of power is in a bad spot – which feels pretty bad considering it’s essentially required to take in almost all scenarios. You have to put a point into shatter/cone of cold, a point into remove curse, and one more point into spellsteal/slow just to get Rune of power.

These are abilities that are practically useless on most raid fights. They have their uses in PVP/M+, but there’s very few bosses I can think of where any of those utility spells are worth using.

-Frigid winds makes taking shifting power feel bad for non-frost players. It’s 3 points for something that has zero benefit for both arcane and fire unless they take slow. Not great.

-Greater invisibility is in a weird spot. It’s too good to pass up for raiders and its competing talents, ring of frost and dragon’s breath, are both CCs but this one is a defensive. Think it would make more sense to have mass polymorph there.

-Shifting power doesn’t make a lot of sense as a capstone. The other two capstones are themed after their respective specs (Time anomaly for Arcane… Meteor for fire). So why is this the frost one? Doesn’t capture the frost fantasy at all.

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Hello Mages!

In this week’s Alpha update, there will be a number of updates to both the Core and Spec trees for the Mage Class. We’d like to talk a bit about our design directions for this iteration and the improvements we’re looking to make.

Core Tree

The Core tree is seeing the heaviest redesign. Our goal has been to increase options by adding new spells, reducing overall multi-point nodes, cutting all existing 3-point nodes, and improve pathing. Several choice nodes have been split into standalone nodes to increase utility options. We’ve also been looking to reduce the number of nodes that may feel required. Cone of Cold will be moving baseline to improve the base kit and remove dependency issues.

Here are some examples of spells you can expect to see:

  • Reflection – Teleports you back to where you last Blinked. Only usable within 8 seconds of Blinking, 45 second cooldown.
  • Volatile Detonation - Greatly increases the effect of Blast Wave’s knockback. Blast Wave’s cooldown is reduced by 5 seconds.
  • Time Manipulation - Casting Fire Blast/Ice Lance on Frozen targets/Arcane Missiles reduces the cooldown of your loss of control abilities by 1/2 seconds.
  • Energized Barriers – When your barrier receives melee attacks, you have a 10% chance to be granted 1 Fire Blast/1 Fingers of Frost/1 Clearcasting charge. Casting your barrier removes all snare effects.

Some of this work is ongoing, and you can expect to see a couple of nodes marked NYI (Not Yet Implemented) for now.

Fire Tree

We felt the pathing in this tree has not allowed for enough exploration due to nodes that feel required. We’re looking to reduce the number of “mandatory” points by moving a few spells baseline, such as Hot Streak and Fire Blast Rank 2, and providing more options below gate 1 and 2. Phoenix Flames will also be moving up to above gate 1.

Frost Tree

A good amount of feedback for this tree has been related to the Icy Veins nodes and how required they feel, which is leading to little choice in the bottom third of the tree. We’re looking to allow for backtracking and additional choice. To help accomplish this, we’re making all 3 point nodes into 2 point nodes and reducing the point count of the Icy Veins related nodes below gate 2. Additionally, Winter’s Chill functionality will now be baseline when Flurry is learned to allow for more point flexibility.

Arcane Tree

The Arcane tree has been updated and will have quite a bit of re-organization of talents to better open up options as you navigate through the tree as well as make a few talents that felt previously inaccessible a little easier to access. Cooldowns on some abilities have also been adjusted to better flow with Arcane’s 45/90-second windows. Below is a highlight of some of the changes you can expect in the next alpha build.

  • Arcane Bombardment – Reduced to max 1 rank, down from 2.
  • Arcane Echo – Reduced to max 1 rank, down from 2.
  • Arcane Surge – Now grants a burst of mana on cast so that the player can immediately start casting Arcane Blast
  • Arcane Orb – Moved up the tree. It’s now available before the first gate and directly after Arcane Missiles.
  • Rules of Threes - Now a choice node with Arcane Familiar. This choice node has swapped places with Arcane Tempo
  • Evocation – Cooldown reduced to 90 seconds, down from 120 seconds.
  • Improved Evocation – Cut
  • Siphon Storm – Converted to a single node (was previously a choice node with Improved Evocation).
  • Charged Orb – Now available after unlocking the first gate (Charged Orb grants Arcane Orb 1 additional Charge).
  • Orb Barrage – Converted to a single node (was previously a choice node with Orb Barrage).
    • Now also reduces the cooldown of Arcane Orb by 2 seconds when Clearcasting is consumed.
  • Nether Tempest - Position on the tree has moved toward the center of the talent tree as a choice node with Reverberate connecting from Mana Adept and Improved Arcane Barrage.
  • Conjure Mana Gem – Now restores 25% Mana, up from 10% Mana.
    • Now grants 5% increased spell power for 10 seconds baseline.
  • Cascading Power – Now grants up to 2 stacks of Clearcasting when consuming a Mana Gem (previously granted Spell Power).
  • Enlightened – Moved lower into the tree (from Row 6 to Row 8).
  • Resonance – Moved to Enlightened’s previous position.
  • Presence of Mind – Cooldown reduced to 45 seconds, down from 60 seconds.

Thank you for all of your testing and feedback so far. We’ll address some of the remaining tweaks and NYI spots in a future build soon after the next.

58 Likes

These are great changes on paper, thank you for listening to the feedback.

8 Likes

Arcane Mage Talent Tree Mockup

Over the last week and a half I have been working on and off on this mock Arcane Mage talent tree to illustrate certain improvements I would like to see made to the Arcane Mage talent tree. The timing is a little weird, as we just got a blue post outlining some incoming changes, but I decided to post this anyway because I think the ideas illustrated here will still be relevant. I will also be going over the changes made in the next Alpha cycle to provide feedback once they are more concrete.

Overall Goals

These are the primary goals I attempted to fix with my talent tree draft:

  • Reorganize the tree to provide more intuitive flow. In general, the right side of the tree focuses on single-target while the left side focuses on AoE. I found that this works particularly well for Arcane Mage because the line between AoE and ST are not clear-cut.
    • Furthermore, the tree is structured to almost be a gradient from more AoE to more ST from left to right, with Arcane Explosion talents mostly on the very left columns, followed by Arcane Barrage, Core Spells, Arcane Missiles, and finally Arcane Blast.
    • This also results in increased proximity of the more essential nodes finding themselves closer to the center where our core spells lie.
  • Increase meaningful choice, especially at the capstone level. In the current iteration of the Arcane Mage talent tree I often found myself just picking things I already had, and some passives that were powerful but not too exciting.
    • You will notice the most gameplay altering nodes for capstone columns are not all the way at the end to incentivise flexibility when the situation calls for it.
  • Add flexibility to adapt to different encounters by making tradeoffs.
  • Rework certain effects that I think are either uninteresting or missing clear use cases.
  • Keep the shape of the tree and a majority of the effects very close to the current iteration. This goal is also intended to make this exercise easier for me.

The Tree

A few quick notes regarding the tree:

  • I have reused a lot of names for abilities that may be changed. New effects have also been added. Both reworked and new abilities will be described, alongside my goals regarding them, in the next section.
  • I have altered the use cases of certain spells. Do not assume the numbers for any of these have to be similar to live - this exercise is about creating playstyles that I think would be engaging, without attempting to balance numbers.
  • I am not a professional game designer. I spent a decent amount of time altering the tree, working largely with what the Mage talent tree designer has already provided us with. I also spent some time experimenting with potential builds until I was satisfied, but this tree is far from perfect. I would be interested in what others think: what other improvements would you like to see or which changes did you disagree with.
  • Not all of the ideas here are my own. I have had various discussions with other players, and certain nodes here have been inspired by that.
  • The image should be full size when opened in a new tab.

New and Reworked Abilities

  • Impetus
    • Arcane Barrage has a chance to generate an Arcane Charge per Arcane Charge spent.
    • I wanted to keep the theme of this ability mostly the same. By moving the RNG effect of generating charges to Arcane Barrage, our spender, we ensure Arcane Charges generated by Impetus cannot be wasted.
    • Additionally, since Arcane Barrage incurs a GCD after, players have the time to process whether they get an extra Arcane Charge or not.
    • Compare this ability to the Outlaw Rogue’s Ruthlessness.
  • Nether Tempest
    • Nether Tempest has no target limit, consumes Arcane Charges, and has an increased area of effect. Enemies take massively reduced damage from additional instances of Nether Tempest.
    • As it is now, it is unclear what purpose Nether Tempest serves. I reimagined this ability as the Arcane Mage answer to split AoE, where the class struggles massively.
    • The intended use case for this ability is for when enemies are spread too far to effectively cleave with Arcane Barrage by making Nether Tempest a spender. Nether Tempest’s effective radius is also increased significantly to further enable this.
    • Since enemies effectively only take full damage from one instance of Nether Tempest, the spell is not as effective in stacked AoE.
  • Aluneth’s Fury
    • Arcane Barrage can no longer critically strike, but it deals increased damage based on critical strike chance.
    • This talent is intended to reduce the variance of the Arcane Harmony + Radiant Spark playstyle, where a critical strike can make a massive difference in damage output.
    • This is also intentionally placed where it can be easily avoided.
    • Compare this ability to Chaos Bolt.
  • Prodigious Savant
    • Increases the maximum number of Arcane Charges by one.
    • I saw this idea somewhere on this forum earlier I think - this is a much more interesting way of increasing the effectiveness of mastery, and has various synergies with other spells such as Resonance.
    • Compare this ability to Rogue’s Deeper Stratagem.
  • Mana Font
    • While in a party or raid, creating Mana Gems places a Mana Font on the ground that allies in healer specialization can click to receive Mana Gems from. Whenever an ally uses a Mana Gem, you also gain the mana they restore.
    • Adding a little bit of party utility to Arcane Mage - not intended to be particularly strong, but an interesting thematic option.
    • I have limited the ability to healers only to enable the second clause of the ability, giving the Arcane Mage a little bit of extra mana.
    • Compare this ability to the Warlock’s Create Healthstones and the Shaman’s Mana Spring Totem.

Supernova Capstone Column

Arcane Mage is notorious for often having a very dull AoE rotation. I wanted to experiment with the option of making Supernova into an AoE damage spell, further empowered by additional nodes turning Supernova into an AoE capstone option.

Furthermore, given Mage’s extensive crowd control toolkit and the bugs that have rendered Supernova unreliable, as well as the spell’s name and fantasy, I think it fits nicely into this role.

This is a secondary capstone column, with no gating two point nodes, but it is very situational. It is also further designed that it might be correct for the given situation to only take one or two nodes in this column, while still providing enough incentive to take all three when the situation calls for it. This should allow for much more interesting decision making at the capstone level.

  • Supernova
    • Now has a short cast time, deals increased, and has a 45 second cooldown.
    • I added a cast time to the spell not only as a cost but also to make it feel more powerful. Additionally, I think spell queuing an Arcane Barrage to Supernova will be very satisfying - especially visually as the barrages strike enemies mid air.
    • Compare this to the Warlock’s Shadowfury and Cataclysm.
  • Collapsing Star
    • Supernova pulls all enemies hit to its center, but its cooldown is increased to 90 seconds.
    • As an alternative to using Supernova as an AoE damage tool, this option allows Arcane Mages to double down on its utility. This is a very powerful and rare effect, so the cost of a capstone is easily justified.
    • I feel that Arcane Mage, a spec that has often seen lower playrate and lower representation in dungeon content due to their lack of utility, is a good fit for this effect.
    • With a longer cooldown, this is positioned as a purely utility oriented choice and not intended to be used as a part of the mage’s rotation.
    • Compare this to the Vengeance Demon Hunter’s Sigil of Chains.
  • Cosmic Portent
    • Supernova generates maximum Arcane Charges.
    • Cosmic Portent is intended to speed up the Arcane Mage AoE rotation, and reduce reliance on Arcane Explosion. Allows for an instant Arcane Barrage follow up to Supernova.
  • Event Horizon
    • Increases Supernova damage and radius.
    • In addition to being a natural buff to a damage oriented Supernova, the radius increase can also be very relevant for Collapsing Star.

Arcane Barrage Capstone Column

Most of the effects here aren’t new. This capstone column is all about consistent AoE damage, unlike the bursty windows of Supernova. Once again, the column is intended to be designed such that a commitment of any depth could be viable to emphasize flexibility.

Arcane Bombardment has been moved here, as I think it is a more natural place where the gameplay pattern is all about spamming Arcane Orbs and Arcane Barrages.

I think Mantle of the First Kirin Tor does everything we need from a talent that generates more Arcane Orbs. Its proc-based nature makes the gameplay fast paced, while its high proc chance and reliance on Arcane Barrage makes the RNG easily controllable.

  • Arcane Bombardment
    • Arcane Barrage deals increased damage based on the target’s missing health, up to 50% missing health.
    • I wanted to reduce the variance created by conditionally increasing the damage of our hardest hitting spell so massively. This is primarily done through making the execute damage scaling granted by this spell linear with missing health.
    • This talent should also likely have the damage increase granted by it reduced to not overtake competing talents in every situation.
  • Charged Potential
    • Improved Arcane Barrage and Mantle of the First Kirin Tor treat Arcane Barrage as if two Arcane Charges were spent for every Arcane Charge expended after the first.
    • This is not intended to work with Resonance for obvious reasons.
    • This is an incredibly powerful effect, both in terms of synergy with Mantle of the First Kirin Tor and in terms of its potential in mass AoE. Arcane Mage has generally performed poorly when the target count goes well beyond five, and Charged Potential allows Arcane to go up to 8 targets (10 with Prodigious Savant) while maintaining a decent level of usefulness below that due to its synergy with Mantle of the First Kirin Tor.
    • With Mantle of the First Kirin Tor I expect Arcane Infinity to lose value due to wasted time stacking it, lowering its synergy with Charged Potential to a more acceptable level.
    • All that being said, this effect is likely too powerful, so it might be worth putting it on an internal cooldown, or tying to another clause that reduces the frequency at which it can be used.
    • This talent is intended to be balanced such that it is not an auto-pick in scenarios that do not focus on high target count AoE, but a viable choice to be thought about.

Radiant Spark Capstone Column

The core change here is the removal of Harmonic Echo. I initially had Harmonic Echo on my draft tree, but playing around with it I felt that it was limiting decision making without providing too much excitement. Harmonic Echo is a fairly straightforward damage increase in all cases. I think a small compensation buff to Radiant Spark (also given the loss of Ire of the Ascended) is better than having Harmonic Echo on the tree.

Furthermore, as the column is positioned in the center and likely a very central part of most Arcane Mage builds, I think it benefits from being shorter than the rest, leaving more points to be distributed on talents that are more flexible.

  • Magi’s Brand
    • Touch of the Magi causes its target to take increased damage from the mage.
    • While Arcane Echo focuses on frequent hits and AoE around the target - usually using Arcane Missiles with clearcasting, Magi’s Brand synergizes with big bursts on the target itself. I think this iteration is more fun than just increasing the damage accumulated by Touch of the Magi, as the effects are more immediately noticeable.

Arcane Missiles Capstone Column

This column is intended to be the core single target capstone for Arcane Mage, but its use cases should go beyond that.

Arcane Infinity (aka Arcane Harmony) has been a pretty fun effect throughout Shadowlands, and so has been intentionally placed not at the bottom but rather in the middle of the column to increase its availability. It is also a flexible effect that sees use in most scenarios, so I wanted to reduce the commitment required to acquire it.

  • Rule of Threes
    • When Arcane Missiles are clearcast, each missile has a 33.3% chance to increase the number of missiles fired by the next non-clearcast Arcane Missiles by one, stacking up to a maximum.
    • I wanted to try a different take at the old iteration of Rule of Threes that caused Arcane Missiles to fire three additional missiles. This version I think adds a bit more excitement to a very powerful effect, especially in single target.
    • I find Arcane Missiles to be a pretty fun spell, and I wanted to explore an option that goes absolutely crazy on how many missiles are launched. The spell also has inherent synergy with Arcane Infinity, but might not always be worth taking over other talents, especially in AoE.
    • I originally considered a version of this that would affect the clearcast Arcane Missiles itself, effectively extending the cast. The effect was intended to be recursive - the new missiles also have a chance to increase the number of missiles.
      • On average, this would lead to an expected missile count of two additional missiles, or four and two thirds when talenting Amplification.
      • While I think this effect might have been more fun, Arcane Missiles is a channel that is often interrupted or spell queued into, and I think players might find themselves interrupting their channel and wasting some of this effect often.

Evocation Capstone Column

Especially with the new Arcane Surge, it seems like Evocation will not be required in a lot of scenarios, but can still be a damage boost. Similar to the Supernova column, this is not gated by a two point passive node but the effects are less playstyle defining that the Arcane Missile and Arcane Barrage columns.

As a secondary capstone column that is more situational, the power level of Siphon Storm (and Arcane Clarity) might need to be lower than they might be now.

  • Evocation
    • Evocation now has a three minute cooldown.
  • Arcane Clarity
    • While channeling, all mage spells on cooldown have their cooldown reduced every second.
    • I made this talent as an alternative to Siphon Storm, trading larger bursts for more frequent bursts. It was also designed with the hope that Shifting Power will be removed from the class tree.
    • As Arcane is a very cooldown reliant spec, I think an Arcane-only effect like this makes a lot more sense than a generic Shifting Power. Furthermore, Frost and Fire have other talents to reduce their cooldowns.
      • In the case of Fire, ways of generating smaller cooldown windows with Sun King’s Blessing also exist.
      • In the case of Frost, the spec tends to maintain a pretty fast paced and smooth DPS rotation for extended periods so finding time to fit Shifting Power in the rotation is harder.
  • Improved Evocation
    • Reduces the cooldown of Evocation to 90 seconds.
    • Makes Siphon Storm or Arcane Clarity available for every Arcane Surge burst.
  • Perfect Storm
    • Increases the effectiveness of Siphon Storm and Arcane Clarity.
    • While maintaining the same overall power as Improved Evocation, Perfect Storm is intended to enable bigger but less frequent bursts. In the case of Arcane Clarity, this takes the form of two bursts almost back to back.
    • The choice of Improved Evocation or Perfect Storm is intended to encourage thoughtful evaluation of the encounter, and evaluate when and how big the bursts Arcane brings to the fight need to be.

Conclusion

This Arcane Mage talent tree is intended to explore solutions to several issues currently present in the talent tree, especially in the form of presenting more exciting and flexible choices at the capstone level and repurposing effects that haven’t been particularly interesting in the past.

I’m looking forward to seeing what changes are going to be made to the tree following the recent blue post, and I will probably end up writing a feedback post concerning those once I have time to experiment with it.

8 Likes

Loving the updated tree for Arcane; we just need mana gem to be on a 90 second cooldown per use otherwise it won’t line up with anything and will instead just become another damage buff cooldown and we’ll hold it for 3 mins (not that the current version on live is good in any way shape or form).

Temporal Warp was recently datamined as an incoming Mage talent, this sends up alarm bells for me and many other Mages as the datamined version was the same as the last two versions (meaning it requires a Shaman, Hunter or drums [yikes] to be used first or the benefit is entirely gone to the talent).
If you are going to implement this please make it also provide Time Warp with a second charge so that we aren’t dependent on someone else in the raid/group to lust first.

Alternatively making Icy Veins a class wide cooldown and implementing a new cooldown for Frost would be another way to go about implementing the same idea as Temporal Warp with 2 charges on Time Warp.

When it comes to defensives it’s completely absurd that Arcane loses its only unique defensive Greater Invisibility to the class tree yet Fire and Frost get to keep their spec unique defensives Cauterize and Cold Snap while getting to take Greater Invisibility.

This just hamstrings Arcane in raid and M+ progression environments and further solidifies the over decade-long anti-Arcane community bias that the spec has had to deal with for seemingly ever.

Greater Invisibility was the one factor Arcane had to justify taking it in a raid setting over Fire and now the most tanky progression spec in the game has that too and Arcane gained absolutely nothing in trade for it.

Make Cauterize a class-wide talent.

13 Likes

While we are throwing out crazy ideas, it’d be fun to have some sort of condition where Arcane Missiles is an aoe ability. Fire missiles to all available targets in range. Just absolutely crash my computer with missiles. :smiley: MORE MISSILES.

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Mana Gem giving clearcasts is certainly an interesting way to address proc fishing before bursts. Looking forward to playtesting tomorrow, nothing much to say yet before actually trying the build.

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I’m pretty interested in the on demand clearcasting too. In fact I think this is so much better than the previous iteration and the damage buff should probably be removed altogether.

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Cauterize and Greater Invisibility could probably both be capstones for the class tree, if we go the route of utility capstones like some of the other classes

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The 2 stacks thing is not a bad idea for Temporal Warp, but it doesn’t solve everything. Temporal Warp is still useless when your group wants Time Warp at the end of a fight.

Maybe Temporal Warp should be just exclusive with Time Warp as a personal-only cd. If you want Temporal Warp you give up the ability to Time Warp for your team, but at least you’re free to use it as you will.

1 Like

I really doubt they are going to move shifting power out of the class tree, it was a big deal for fire mages and afaik players generally loved it. Very powerful and cool spell if you ask me.

Temporal Anomaly should get replaced. And Incanter’s Flow. I’m sure there are better ways to provide a passive damage boost option.

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Yeah shifting power is pretty polarizing. People either love it or hate it. I’d be interested in seeing an argument on what makes it good. Fire mage already has better options like SKB and Kindling

There’s a lot more to Shifting Power than major cooldown reduction. It is also a high damage AOE on a relatively short cooldown. The combined effects are quite potent, and everything put together gives it extremely high synergy with combustion:

  • It’s a high damage spell (for aoe) with no special fire mage crit modifiers. Combustion massively increases its damage output from guaranteed crits, far more than any other damage boost cooldown.
  • Fire’s primary resource is fire blast charges, SP gives you more of these during the combustion window, making it even better. Since fire blast is off the GCD, you can dump all of your charges extremely quickly, get a bunch of crit flamestrikes in, then SP for massive damage itself and also get your charges back for more flamestrikes.

I know they nerfed the 1 minute combustion build after 9.0 so I don’t really know what’s the top meta now, but these essential synergies should still be in place. With the other options being Time Anomaly or Meteor, I’d expect Shifting Power is still a really good M+ choice for combustion-oriented fire mages just based on the damage and additional fire blast charges. It was certainly one of the most fun build-arounds in Shadowlands!

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Well the other capstones are pretty terrible in my opinion. I wasnt aware Fire Mages used Shifting Power for actual damage output during Combustion. I do still think the Fire Mage talent tree has enough to make Shifting Power unnecessary, even if its good. There’s also the increased fire blast recharge talent.
At this point I have mostly accepted that Shifting Power is probably here to stay anyway

Yeah so with the way the numbers are right now, an SP cast does 11,000 aoe damage over ~2.5 GCDs.

If you did 2.5 instant flamestrikes in that time it’d come out to 12,500 aoe damage. Nearly half of that is wrapped up in the 8 second dot though so it is less guaranteed to all hit or benefit from combustion maybe (actually not sure how flame patch damage interacts with bustin). But instant flamestrikes are of course a highly limited resource, so having a spell that just does nearly as much damage, and instantly, and in a much wider area, is very very good.

I think Meteor is probably better for single target.

I understand the numbers work out that way, but I don’t know that it should be. There isn’t any reason Shifting Power should be an AoE burst spell, except that it’s fun to use on that way. I haven’t felt that it was particularly fun for me, but I haven’t used Shifting Power too much.