Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Open letter to an absent mage

It’s been over a month since Gnomeaggedon almost vanished from the Blogosphere, going for his epic journey to gain the Explore India Achievement. He’s still present by his Googled-posts, popping up every now and then, looking a bit like that stand-in angel that comes whenever a priest dies. It helps a little, but it really isn’t the same.

However we got a sign of life from him a while ago. I had commented on one of the Googled-posts, and to my surprise, Gnome himself answered! It was just a few lines, but they made me think. This is what he wrote:

So how is the whole FrostFire spec going?How are people enjoying their Mages at 80?

And I couldn’t help feeling a bit bad reading this. I’m supposed to run a mage blog, right? I write about other stuff too – but at least I imagine it’s from the point of view from a mage. Still I’ve obviously failed to describe what’s it like to play a mage these days. It’s about time I do it. So this is for you Gnome – a letter from one mage to another. Here we go:

Dear Gnome!

You were wondering about how we’re enjoying our mages at 80, maybe because you’re subconsciously pondering about what to do at your return. Is levelling your mage to 80 what your heart really desire? Maybe you hear the tempting whisperings from the Deathknights. You’ll never ever get a better opportunity to roll something else than now, balancing on the line between the old and the new content

Well, no need to worry any further, dear Gnome! Knowing the desire of your heart – making huge damage, hurling big balls of fire – I can tell you that you’ll get more than pleased with how mages have developed.

I haven’t run Recount lately, due to lag, but my general feeling is that we’ve finally been given some love and attention from Blizzard. We’ve been improved, but not to the extent that it has pissed off everyone else and resulted in a backlash nerf, which happened to ret paladins and hunters.

I know it’s silly and immature, but I’m kind of fascinated by big numbers. You see them a lot nowadays. Frostfirebolts are often critting for 8-9 k damage – sometimes a lot more – I saw one at 16 k the other day. And with two of those in a row, followed by a hot streak and a pyro for 6-7 k damage it adds up. Then I haven’t mentioned the little helpers you have whenever mirror image is up, or the living bomb, a nice dot which actually hurts a lot more than it looks. The enemies are literally melting in front of your eyes.

And the best thing of all: in spite of all this damage, threat hasn’t become a bigger issue – rather the contrary. I think tanks do better aggro these days – actually I’m working on changing my playstyle, trying to become a little bit more aggressive. I’ve been taught to wait for a few seconds, preferably a few sunders, before starting to cast my first nuke. Now I should rather cast it as soon as the tank starts the pull.

Since we haven’t started 25 man raiding yet in my guild I haven’t seen any recent WWS charts. I have a friend mage who has though, and his reports have been quite promising, doing 4 k dps on average during a normal raid night, ending up second on the damage list.

After the last patch in TBC mages had very hard to compete at all, doing damage on par with a tank – or less. Geared and talented at level 80 my impression is that we shouldn’t complain too much. Maybe the days when mages were known for their constant whining in public forums are over.

Other news
This was the nuke part. Nuking is important – it’s the essence of being a mage. But I’ll give you a few of the other news for mages at lvl 80

  • You don’t necessarily have to be a tailor anymore. The gear you can craft isn’t overwhelmingly good and anyway it isn’t restricted to tailors – you can pick another profession if you want and have another tailor make them for you.
  • Your bills for bringing potions to a raid will be smaller, since they’re restricted to one per fight. I had fears that mana would be a big issue because of this, but so far I haven’t seen experienced any lack of mana. It remains to see if this will be the same when the fights will get harder and longer.
  • I don’t know if it’s my imagination but I don’t see many warlocks around anymore. Are they all sulking and rolling Deathknights? I don’t know, but they’re gone.
  • Competition for gear will be a bit harder. You’ll find yourself rolling on a spellpower ring, not only against other dps casters, but also against healers. On the other hand there’s a lot of good gear around – through reputation grinds, badge collecting or crafting, so you can’t really say that gearing up is hard. One and a half month after the expansion was released I’ve got only 4 out of 17 slots that aren’t epic. And I still count myself as a pretty casual player with a limited time for gaming.
  • The cost for making tables has gone insane. Five powders for one table! I haven’t been to any BG since the release, but I suspect that you rarely see tables there nowadays.
  • Blastwave has changed, making it behave like… a real blastwave(!). It sure looks fun, knocking away the mobs, but it’s useless in an instance, too hard to control. I imagine though that it can be great fun in PvP.

Class balance
Are their any things to worry about? Well maybe that would be the class balance. Being a mage you don’t bring anything else to a raid but dps. We used to bring our int buff and awesome cc as well, but other classes can provide the same thing now. We’re not indispensable. The dual spec upcoming means that hybrid classes will be more attractive, being able to provide extra healing for one boss and dps for another one. A mage is a mage is a mage. We definitely won’t be given any spots in the raid by default.

Another problem is the constant lack of healers. The addition of the DK class has made a few more tanks available (though I must admit that I have yet to see a good DK tank, the ones I’ve met so far in pugs really haven’t been top class if so to say). But that makes the lack of healers even more urgent. There have been nights when I’ve spent hours in the LFG channel, and all you hear there are the desperate cries from the surplus dps. “DPS lfg heroics”, followed by “Good DPS lfg…” And then another one: LFM healer, last spot, gtg. The only thing we can hope for is that Blizzard makes a new hero healing class pretty soon or finds another way to make healing more fun and attractive.

The best of times
But enough of worries now. The new capital is even a dedicated mage town with mage NPCs in every corner. We’re the only class with a trainer of our own in Dalaran. And you can even join and honor The Mage Society itself, Kirin Tor, by wearing the tabard. We’re certainly living in the best of times for mages

Welcome back to Azeroth, to the brand new mage friendly world of Northrend! And welcome back as an active blogger!. We’re all looking forward to your return.

Best of regards

Your fellow mage and blogging colleague



Anonymous said...

Nice blog as evere, i actually dusted off my priest the other day, i specced him frost got his glyphs on and went to northrend and got his herb/a;ch/firs aid all learned and he is ready now for after the new year to level with the wifes priest.

I seen mirror and fell in love tbh.

Anonymous said...

Healing IS fun; being abused by ignorant people every wipe is not.

I really wonder why people have the patience to wait in LFG for ages, only to lose all patience within seconds of a mistake by a healer, real or imagined.

Re: raiding, we Afflicton Warlocks are feeling a bit useless at the moment, too.
Only one Healthstone available per raid now (so my unimproved HS is no longer needed), our cool Shadow Embrace talent which made us so beloved by tanks has been taken away from us, and our Seeds of Corruption is no longer 'the' spell for aoe damage.
Coupled with the total uselessness of Warlocks in the Arena right now, and our damage nerfs, means we are feeling very unloved.

It won't stop me from playing my Warlock, though. I remember vanilla WoW and we were quite useless then as well (except for summoning people to raids and instances - oh look summoning stones - Luddites unite!).

Anonymous said...

ZOMG i meant to say dusted of my mage

Kinzlayer said...

Yes, warlocks are on the downlow atm. The changes in TBC that increased 'lock dps was a bit detrimental, imo, we were a bit too cocky and expecting to top dps all the time, to now languishing in the middle of the pack. Too many of our top damage dealing mechanics require too much gimmicks and of course in arena, we're a joke as we are the first to be killed target (makes it not a joy to play). We still farm really well, we still level really easily, in 5-man we're still awesome so just don't expect huge numbers as of yet. Maybe we're like melee towards the end of TBC where we scale better with gears?

Anonymous said...

@Esdras: it's nice to hear you're giving the mage some love. Hope you'll enjoy him - and don't forget to check out Frost is the New Black for ideas about how to make the best out of your frost aoe...

@Vlad and Kinzlayer: I don't want to point fingers at warlocks, but it really was a bit annoying in TBC where mages seemed to be like some kind of second class warlocks. Tables and intbuff didn't make up for our lack of damage. As far as I've heard we should be more even now as damagedealsers in cloth.
But it remains to see until we've seen the higher levels of gear and raid instances.

Anonymous said...

Damn Indian mail system... your open letter must have been floating around the Twisted Nether for ages...

But here I am, happily reading your post.

Now all I have to do is rush to 80 at a slow enough pace to enjoy the ride.

I dare say that I have it better than many, being able to draw upon 2+ months of experience, but I am wallowing a little right now.

Then I read a post at Starin'a Ruckus (http://startaruckus.blogspot.com/2008/12/did-blizzard-screw-up-malygos-10.html) that makes me wonder what the journey will be like...

Will anyone be left in the game to play with, or will I be a solo Mage flying about Dalaran on my carpet?

Anonymous said...

Ah! finally! I was afraid an elephant (or whatever vehicle the post delivery people use in India) ate it. Which made me sad, since it was made especially for you!

Anyway, I think you shouldn't fear the immediate fall of WoW. Hey, we've got queues to the servers all over the world. Unless they've secretly shut down a lot of servers, that should be a sign that it's probably still going strong for a while longer.
It may have peaked, in fact I suspect it has. but there's still a show going on for a long while and I definitly want to be a part of it.