Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Mages are an agility class...

No, really. Swear to god!

First, the non sequitor of the day. Melvin, Magebert and Mabd were doin 3v3 arena, workin with me directing in vent. I need practice, but Melvin seems to think it helps a lot. OTOH...

"You're very excitable... I thought I was listening to Sam Kinneson."

I doan know how to take that.

ArmsandFury is playin a mage, and wants some advice. Well, three classes I know... Mages, Hunters and Shammies...

Mages are an agility class. No, really. Swear to god.

They shouldn't be. And they aren't, kinda, sorta, anymore. But just like if you study the human form, you'll find all sorta weird things (male pattern baldness, appendix, vestigal tail bones)... if ya study the mage DNA, you find...


This is cuz Blizzard, like all game companies, sucks. It isn't their fault. But still, when it came to design the first mage, they thought...


And since wands are a ranged weapon...


So, mages rack up agility from level 1-70. And all sorta weird cloth items drop with agility. (Like all sorta weird cloth items drop with strength. But that's a priest/warlock post)

What don't mages get? Stamina. What happened when people first started doin the first runs for tier 0? Mages grabbed warlock items, and druids grabbed rogue items. (But again, that's another post...)

What did blizzard think mages wanted? (in this order)
Int. (40-50%)
Spirit. (20-25%)
Sta. (15-20%)
Agility. (10%)

You begin to see the problem?

There actually was a bug in the improved wands talent that let mages (who were still, at this point, getting RAP bonuses to wand damage) do decent damage when Blizz put wand auto shot into the game.

(BRK, if the worst thing hunters now face is the insanely low number of pet stable slots, our class is truly blessed... LOOK how damn long it took them to put wand auto shot into the friggin game...)

Blizz then immediately nerfed imp wands. Cuz a mage class that aint sitting and drinking water 30% of the time don't fit the BLIZZARD VISION!

I know this game. I am a veteran of a thousand psychic wars. (someone, someday, will google this. We must keep the powder dry and the past alive!) And I have seen things that would rend your souls asunder. Most of them insanely useless blue boss drops.

Anyway, to play a class, it kinda helps to know where it's been. And mages, deep in their dna... are an agility class.

So... mages are the escape artists of azeroth. More so than rogues. Rogues just vanish. Mages root, snare, blink, sheep, and all that before breakfast. It helps to read the works of Jack Vance.. but here in a nut shell is what the essence of a mage is...

If you got mana, you got life. You got more tricks up yo sleeve than David Copperfield, and you got more damage than the Wrath of God. What you don't have is... time. When playing a mage, if you can't kill them in 10 seconds, you gonna run outta luck. There's nuttin sadder than a mage with no mana, and everything on cooldown.

Any mage reduced to spamming AE in a fight... has run outta ideas.

So... mage builds.

Unlike most classes, there are actually a coupla decent mage builds per tree (cept arcane...). Saying "Ima x/x/x mage" doesn't always explain the character...

Which is one reason I like the class. Lets admit it. As far as hunters... If you tell me the points, and you have a clue, I pretty much know exactly what you have. But a deep frost or deep fire pvp build is completely different from a deep fire or frost pve build. Frost can go single target, or aoe mastery. Fire can be mana efficent raiding, or burst pvp. Arcane...

Well, remember the comment on Mage dna? All mages are now arcane mages. In the BAD OLD DAYS, arcane explosion, the class's signature ability, was a 1.5 second casting time spell. There was an arcane talent that reduced this to instant. There was also an arcane talent that gave mages a full mana regen every 8 minutes... as a result... every damn mage had at least 11 points in arcane to get both of these. And lets face it. If you HAVE to have a given talent to be effective, something is wrong with the class.

So Blizz made both AE instant and evocation a regular spell. And pure arcane builds lost their definition. Arcane should be what survival is for hunters, a big bag of goofball tricks that just make the class neater to play. Instead, its the source of +damage adds, mana efficiency talents, and no damn soul. Dragon's breath... super sweet. Water elementals... old skool classic.

Slow? Yeah. Right. Sorta useful... against.. er...
PVE? Well, yeah, you can kite things you can't normally kill in 6 seconds, almost like you have a frost build... watch out L70 elites!
PVP? Yeah. Cripple all those casters that don't rely on instants (you know... the *special* ones)... and pretty much do the same thing to melee that your ice armor does. Oh wait! You can hose down hunters!... at least the ones without BM builds, or silent shot, or wyvern sting.

Well... Imp blink = Reduced mana cost? OMGWTFBBQPWND!
Imp mana shield = reduced mana cost! WHOOO!

You see the trend? Anytime talent developers give a skill a reduced mana cost... it means a stunning lack of insight, or suggests a raid build. Since mana shield and blink are *NOT* raid spells...

Warriors get friggin reduced cooldown on intercept, and we get... reduced mana cost blink. Screw it. Double the damn mana cost, and reduce the damn cooldown.

At least fire and frost still have a soul. Although it seems blizz gave up on the idea of fire/frost (elementalist) hybrid builds.

You either go deep fire or deep frost, or you dilute with some arcane to add the 3 min uber burst damage and/or the additional spell crit damage.

I'm not going to go into the various talents... the class forum has an excellent sticky on them. But I will make a few points.

Get used to the idea of respeccing every ten levels or so. New talent tiers tend to alter the utility of previous talents. This is especially true of fire, where imp fireball is great for low levels, but less useful once imp scorch becomes available.

The fire/frost talent trees all hang together. Frost doesn't really shine until you can get imp blizzard (for aoe grinding) or imp cone of cold (for pvp/burst pve). The main attack form (blizzard or cone of cold) requires different supporting talents... one of the nicer things about frost.

So look carefully at the talent trees, especially a few levels ahead. Get a sense of how you expect to grind, and what you'd like most... control or mass damage. Read the forum guide, and you should get a sense of what mages are capable of.

My personal point on mages. I die more as a mage, early on, than any other class I've played, and I've played them all. This is usually because of overconfidence. A mage is the most powerful char in the game, and you know it. Frost nova and blink assure escape from the most hairy of situations... hence an overwhelming tendency to bite off more than you can chew. This, of course, is the hallmark of a most entertaining class!

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