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.
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.
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
- 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 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 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.
- 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.
- 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 now has a three minute cooldown.
- 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.
- Reduces the cooldown of Evocation to 90 seconds.
Makes Siphon Storm or Arcane Clarity available for every Arcane Surge burst.
- 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.
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.