Category Archives: Mage

Neighborhood of Warcraft

50 the dudeI’ve often said that the people claiming that leveling up a new toon were making too much of a big deal out of how long it would take to get from level 1 to max (currently 50). So I rolled up a new toon just to measure how long it would take.

I was also curious about the leveling experience once Shadowlands rolled. Shadowlands was our first ever level squish, meaning we start Shadowlands at level 50, and everything else is squished in between level 1 and 50.  So this experiment is also commentary on that.

The toon in question is a Night Elf mage named Tride (I tried, er, tride to get the name Trial, or Trile, but they were taken).  I went with Frost spec as I felt that would be more challenging than Fire, and I know squat about playing Arcane.  As it turns out, that choice was revelatory.

The rules are simple: leveling at the most casual rate possible.  No dungeons or raids, no instances of any kind that WoW didn’t railroad me into. Follow the natural progression of the questlines only.  No special events.1

Getting Started

03 Shadowglenn

The starting experience posed an immediate choice to make. In Shadowlands they introduced a new, generic starting area for all new toons.  So I had a choice between that and going old school. While I was curious about this new starting area, I elected to go old school and start in Teldrassil.2  By the time I was level 10, I was camped out in Darnassus.

Once based out of Tree City, I had a few decisions to make. The results were as follows:

  • Mining and Herbing, because raw materials always sell.
  • No to fishing, I don’t need to give up a bag slot and it’s a waste of time.
  • Maybe on cooking, to keep a little buff going.3

There was a little bit of cheating. I logged in on Jasra and bought myself some good healing potions and bandages with her money.

10 Teldrassil

Darkshore

13 Lor'danel

Once out of the Tree, it was time to get moving.  I’m still annoyed that we’re dealing with the post-Cataclysm world here instead of based out of Auberdine, and the broken landscape is beyond frustrating.4

However, even at level, this part of the world doesn’t pose too many real issues.  There was some dying, yes, especially when I got my aim off and blinked into something nasty.

The Tower of Athalaxx was the only intractable quest in that zone, and this illustrates the first problem with the new leveling experience. Namely, scaling.

In all zones now, mobs are scaled to match your level. If you’re level 25, expect to see level 25 mobs all around.  And that’s fine, to an extent, but in the case of elites like the denizens of that tower, you either need to group (a no-no for this experiment), or get beefy and outlevel the boss.  And now … that’s not possible. Blizz need to tune some of the beefier mobs out there to work better with the leveling experience.

Ashenvale

28 Ashenvale

In Classic, one of the quests that gets you out of Darkshore and into Auberdine is “The Sleeper Awakes” or something like that. I am glad that one’s gone. Hella annoying it was, and on several toons in Vanilla / BC / Wrath, I just skipped that one completely.

Another difference is that pre-Cata, you get sent to Astranaar first thing, but post-Cata you get sent to Orendil’s Retreat for a mini quest-hub and then it keeps progressing you further in until you do end up in Astranaar.

31 astranaar

This is where your home base will be for a good 15 levels at least.

Chromie Time – I hit a wall

30 Stonetalon

Here’s where a big disconnect happens.

Pre-SL, progression in these zones progressed normally.  Post-SL, when you hit level 30, everything just … stops. No XP from killing anything. All mobs are level 30. Quest completion offers a fraction of what it did.  And this applies to all mobs, in all eras. Go to Shattrath, and everything’s level 30. Go to Northrend, same dealy.

There aren’t many bread crumbs here, but the answer is that you really need to be on Chromie Time. What that is is that you speak with Chromie in Stormwind5  and select an era that you want to play in. You then get an introductory quest to get you started in the era you wish to quest in, and then off you go. So if you choose Burning Crusade, for example, you could proceed immediately to Hellfire and start leveling there.

And if you choose not to go to Hellfire, well, all mobs in all zones now scale from levels 7 to 50.  So you can continue to level on Azeroth.  One annoying thing about this is that Chromie doesn’t offer this as an option, you just have to guess. The other is that if  you don’t start in Exile’s Reach, you end up having to figure this out on your own – the Command Board did not light up with a quest marker on the map, but it DID have the quest available to go see Chromie.

So I’m not sure at what point you’re supposed to pick up Chromie Time, but I do know that you have to do so no later than level 30.

This throws a huge error into my numbers – I spent over an hour figuring this out.

I got better

One reason I chose Frost for my spec was that canonically, right now it doesn’t hit as hard as other specs, and, as I mentioned, I had no clue how to play Arcane (I’ve tried in the past). And I did, I struggled a lot early on, even using some Fire spells out of desperation.

But as I progressed, so did my toolbox. The big one was when Brain Freeze became available, this opened Flurry as an insta-cast, and later on that allowed it to buff Ice Lance. Between those two, as well as the Frozen Orb, by level 35 I was really kicking butt.

So this underlines a huge flaw in the Frost spec, and maybe others – at lower levels they’re really not up to the task that they’re assigned. It isn’t until you’re halfway through the talent tree that you can really feel like you’re getting somewhere, and, I suspect, all zones are currently designed as if you have access to all talents and spells.

Bottom line: that was a lot of work, retuning the old world to work with the level squish. But you really need another pass, Blizz, this time with toons at appropriate level.

Desolace

41 Desolace

Having gotten my leveling thing worked out, I finished off Stonetalon6, and forayed into Desolace at level 39, where I dinged level 40 and quickly ported over to Stormwind7 to get my fast flying8.

Again, as I gained levels I gained in power. This is one good thing that Blizz has accomplished, is the notion of spell ranks once again, but this time it isn’t just scaling – each spell rank can (and usually does) bring additional effects with it. So, as you progress in levels, you genuinely do feel more powerful, one of the key values of leveling.

As a result, clearing out Desolace was a pretty trivial task, though I did bite off more than I could chew on the ghost magnet quest. Other than Stupid Hunter Tricks (as payed on a Mage), Desolace was a cake walk.

One thing that puzzled me was that while I was expecting to be sent to Feralas once I completed that zone, instead I had no choice to go resume my questing in Southern Barrens.

Southern Barrens and Theramore

49 Theremore

As I completed the final quests of Southern Barrens, I dinged 49 and was directed to Theramore, where I picked up a bunch of quests to go kill things and save a surprisingly ancient hermit and come to the rescue of some Goblins (no, really!). My journey to 50 was almost complete, and I realized at this point that I had been cheated.

Specifically, the World of Warcraft had shrunk.  I had slavishly stuck to my home continent as I leveled up just to see what would happen. What happened was that I only barely saw Thousand Needles and Feralas in passing, with Tanaris, Un’Goro, Felwood10, Azshara11, and Silithus completely missing from my quest log. I suspect that the same would have occurred had I chosen Ironforge or Stormwind as a starting point.  And that’s really sad.

While the level squish is mostly done well, barring a couple of technical issues which I suspect will never be fixed, it emphasizes exactly why I was against such a move.  The problem I just described above has always been there since Cataclysm. When they revamped the zones for Cataclysm, then never went back and adjusted things so that you could visit the whole world. Quests would go gray before you were finished a zone, and you’d be off to Outland long before you completed other zones. Hell, Winterspring was so infrequently visited that I even forgot about it in the previous paragraph.

And that was never addressed, and that will never be addressed. The World of Warcraft is reduced to your general neighborhood. The Neighborhood of Warcraft.

Thoughts and Conclusions

49 Feralas

At the end of the day, I ended up at 54 hours /played to get to Level 50. Subtract an hour for my confusion at level 30 if you wish, but I won’t hold it against you if you don’t.

What this adds up to is if someone played 8 hours a day it would take just under a week. A more realistic 4 hours and we’re talking around two weeks.  I’d call it three weeks of dedicated playtime to get to the point that you’re ready to start leveling on whatever the new expansion is.

My conclusion here is that while it’s certainly not a gigantic burden to level up to 50 in a reasonable time, three weeks is probably longer than the endgame-eager “hardcore raider” mindset. Hell, ONE week is probably longer than they’d be willing to put in, and any time put in for this sort of thing is probably done grudgingly.

I still think that paying for a boost is appropriate in this case. I am forever worn out and tired of Blizz bending over backwards to a tiny sliver of the population and wish they would spend time making the journey to endgame more interesting. There are years’ worth of adventures locked away behind a poorly designed and paced leveling experience, and it’s a damned shame that nobody has any reason to visit them – much less enjoy them – other than the completionists out there dragging their max-level asses through content that they don’t even appreciate because how can you if you’re life isn’t in danger?

Tride the Frost Mage’s days are over, and I thank him for his service. I understand the process better now, and will no longer feel that people that don’t want to do even this  little bit of leveling are necessary lazy or unwilling to put in the time. It’s a not insignificant amount of time that obviously I don’t begrudge12, but others might.

A new player just getting started will forever be missing what the rest of us experienced, for good or ill. How to explain to someone in the future that all these Chromie Zones were once played in sequence?  I’ll leave that up to wiser heads than myself.

My adventures as a leveling toon ended when I dinged level 50. Chromie let me know that I was about to be kicked out. She gave me a countdown, and then booted me to present day, at the courtyard of Stormwind Keep.   When I tried to port back to Darnassus, I was dropped at Darkshore, where all that was once our home lay smoking on the horizon13.  With a heavy heart, I sighed and ported to Ironforge where I sold all my stuff, mailed the cash to Jasra, and quietly ended the enterprise.

50 this dude


  1. Okay, the Lunar festival was running at one point and I cleared a few Elders because those unanswered quest markers on the map were driving me MEGA HELLNUTS CRAZY.
  2. So sue me, the War of the Thorns is still fresh for me, OKAY?
  3. At some point I did cheat and bought stuff off the AH to level cooking.
  4. Why is it that the Night Elves are getting it in the teeth every other expansion and yet somehow we’re supposed to feel sorry for the Orcs and be okay with them cutting down every tree that they can see and then some? Give me a break.
  5. Of course, Stormwind. Always, of course, Stormwind.
  6. Having never visited the peak, once a must-have! (addendum: a later quest took me there. Duh.)
  7. Of course, Stormwind. Always … wait, I’m repeating myself.
  8. No, that’s not cheating – neither the teleport, which is a Light-given Mage perk, nor the fast flying. The assumption here is that I’m leveling an alt for … whatever the leveler needs that level 50 toon for. One assumes that the leveler already has mounts, and, as you are well aware now, SIR, mounts are account wide9.
  9. If someone was leveling a new toon, this would be very, very sad.  I’ll essplain later.
  10. Where even is the bread crumb for that zone?
  11. Same question.
  12. Obviously not, I just blew three weekends on a silly experiment.
  13. As I said, War of the Thorns is still a bitter memory for me.

Burn, baby burn!

port 2018-12My mage has been, but for a brief time in Vanilla, Frost through and through.  But when Legion came around, Frost took a big hit in effectiveness. Reluctantly, I gave fire a try … and over the course of the expansion, got to like it – a lot.

When BfA came out the sims were showing Fire had declined and Frost was once again ascendant. Not entirely happy with the rotation, but I took it up and got into the swing of it again, and it was reasonably serviceable, and my numbers were not hideous.

But looking at the charts, I found that the sims seemed to be not entirely accurate – fire was, in the raid charts, far higher up on average than Frost. 

So here I am again.  The old rotation is  gone (that rather required that famous sword and its attendant abilities) but the current one doesn’t feel as broken now as it did at the start of the expansion.

And when those crits pop … so satisfying, I can’t really put into words how amazing it is when they string out one after another.

The downside is that this is a short-lived crit train … once the party’s over, I have to build up some procs again, and that’s usually boring old fireball after fireball.

The charts also show that Arcane is king of the Mage specs right now.  I tried Arcane once.

ONCE

Never could get the hang of it.

But setting things on fire … that never gets old.

Three Weeks a Fire Mage

Illume Header

Frost was okay, but nowhere near the big hits I was used to on Draenor, so I decided to do something decidedly boring.  That’s right, I swapped to Fire. Like, apparently, every other bloody mage in the entire game.

The problem with Fire for me was that I had gotten Ebonchill pretty far down the ol’ upgrade tree, then swapped out to Felo’melorn; running around with a child’s dinky in an adult’s body, as it were. At 110, you’re expected to be toting a 110-level weapon and gear to match.

So I held on to Ebonchill for those moments when I needed to swap out, but concentrated on Fire whenever I could. After all, practice, practice, practice.

As one might expect, survivability is not a thing with Fire mages. We’re not really designed for that.  But Felo’melorn does have some tools for us, such as a thing that causes Blink or Shimmer to heal you for a little bit. So your rotation often consists of taking a quick blip right after Dragon’s Breath.  And sometimes that brings more to the party.

The next piece of the puzzle was getting Belo’vir’s Final Stand from an Emissary loot box (Highmountain, if you must know, but WoWHead isn’t telling how many times it comes from what).  I’ve often been a critic of people blaming gear for their lack of <your thing here>, but I am here to tell you now that that robe made a world of difference in my damage output and survivability.

So I guess, for great differences, you do see some significant effects. Shut mah mouth.

Of course, changing specs calls for a new transmog. All those blue tones just don’t go with my flaming balls of doom, after all.  So I borrowed from the past.  Long time ago, Jasra made the Robe of Power(1) to wear – that was before she found something more sensible for her line of work – and it was available, so I grabbed it. And then I reached for the Mantle of Three Terrors and … hey, where is it?  It’s not in the box!

Okay, so  you know that there is a thing that any armor appearance you may have had in the past is available to you and your entire account provided they can wear it.  So Jasra’s robe was available to me, but anything class-specific wasn’t. The Mantle of Three Terrors, however, is not class bound, and Flora once had it.  We even have pictures.  Hell, she blogged about it. With pictures.

Let’s be clear – there has never been a more perfect shoulder piece for a fire mage. Two large dragon heads with little flames flickering in their maws and eyes, flanked by two more little dragon heads each. Fierce. And unique, too. There’s only one of these in existence, nothing that looks like them drops from anything else in the worlds.

So when I pinged Blizzard customer support, I was expecting a “wow, not sure how that happened, we’re restored it to your account”. What I got was “our records do not show that you ever had it, have a nice day.”

Thanks a lot, @BlizzardCS.

So what’s a mage to do?  Grind, that’s what.  When possible, I’ve been hitting The Black Morass to try to get Chrono Lord Deja to drop the things.  First note here: the drop rate on WoWHead is deceptive. I suspect it is for the Heroic version of the instance, which you cannot repeat more than once a day. You can reset the instance all you want, but it won’t actually reset. So you have to run it on Normal, and you get only so many tries if you’re efficient at it (nine to ten, generally).  Long story short (too late!), it took forty tries, but I got the damned thing. (that’s 2.5% for those keeping score)

Illume Fire MogStill not happy with the sword mog, but it’ll do for now – most sword models are so elaborate and fussy that they get caught on … well, everything. Brandishing the thing about during casting is an invite to any number of mishaps if you don’t manage it properly, and, let’s be honest here, bladecraft is not normally high up on a mage’s training regimen.

At any rate, let this be a warning to you – not all things you won in BC might have made the trip to the future with you. You might wanna check now and try to get @BlizzardCS to help out if you can figure a way to make that happen. Too late for me, at this point, but if I can help somebody fend off a last minute panic, so much the better.

At this point, fire magely speaking, I’m pretty satisfied with the spec, though I haven’t tested it in an instance or anything.  The DPS is pretty impressive compared to the frost spec with better weapon, though, so I’m hopeful.

An interesting thing about Felo’melorn is that I’ve been getting accosted by NPCs, only Sin’dorei so far, asking to look at the weapon. Once they do, you get +50 artifact power, which is helpful.  I wonder how many other NPCs there are wanting a gander at the blade? And I wonder how many there are out there interested in other class’ weapons? Ebonchill never got this sort of attention. Then again, this is an important part of Sin’dorei lore.  However that plays out, it’s a nice touch.


1 Hipster mode: remember what a gigantic pain in the ass it was to get that pattern and the mats to make it?  WELL I DO.

Mists of Panderia Beta–Inscription: Mage Glyphs

The first thing I want to look at ((Because that’s about all I can right now, given that crafting isn’t up and running yet.)) is look at what glyphs we’re picking up, what ones we’re losing, and which ones we’re picking up.

Since WoWHead is especially confused on a lot of these, I’m not going to include links in this post, because otherwise you might find yourself looking at the Glyph of Arcane Power with a tooltip of Glyph of Cone of Cold.  Blizz appears to be re-tasking all of the Prime glyph slots for new uses, which makes me wonder what sort of bugs we might encounter down the road.  Something to follow up on.

In this discussion, as in those to follow, the master worksheet for all this is on Google Docs. If you have to ask what something means, don’t look at it – this isn’t a tutorial on my spreadsheet peccadillos.

New Additions

[table id=3 /]

Some notes:

  • Glyph of Fingers of Frost probably goes a ways to compensate us for the loss of the damage component of Deep Freeze.
  • Glyph of the Penguin and Glyph of the Monkey were removed to remove the “the”, no doubt to help with sorting, but then they added “of the Bear Cub”.  I suspect that’ll get renamed for consistency.
  • Speaking of which, the Bear Cub ink is not yet official – best guess is Midnight.

Removals

[table id=4 /]

Notes:

  • Most of there were former Prime glyphs, but not all.
  • A lot of minor and major glyphs – new or old – show Prime glyph tool tips still.  In many cases the effects don’t even make sense. I’m guessing they have a lot of work to do still.

Carried Over

[table id=5 /]

Notes:

  • Some of these were former Prime glyphs that were deemed valuable enough to retain, even if the type of glyph was changed.
  • Many of these have different effects than before – in some cases, far different.
  • While some changed ink type (no doubt to reflect the level changes for some of these), there was no significant drift towards more of one tier over another, and no new inks at all.

Overall

It’s obvious from the tooltips and the profession UI that serious work on integrating the new glyphs into the game has not really taken off yet.

Frost Magery in MoP – Talents

As writ previously, talents are differently applied this time than they have in the first four iterations of WoW. Rather than choosing from 60ish or 40ish talents, you get to choose from six tiers of talents, each containing three choices, of which you can choose one each.  The intended design of this is to make all choices matter, when it comes to talents.

Note: As I proof this one more time, the beta rolls on relentlessly.  I have given a good look at the most recent changes but cannot guarantee that when this goes live, it’ll already have several grievous errors.  The Management Regrets, et cetera. Only one thing is certain: if I don’t post this soon, it’ll be about the NEXT expansion’s beta! So off we go!

So let’s see what Frost gets to play with.

Tier 1 TalentsTier 1

At level 15, you get to choose one of these.  The theme here is cast time mitigation.

When activated, your next Mage spell with a casting time less than 10 sec becomes an instant cast spell.

Scorch the enemy for 930 to 1102 Fire damage.  Can be cast while moving.

  • Ice Flows ((Yes, that is misspelled. Yes, a bug report has been submitted. No, I wasn’t the one that caught it first ((And it’s going to go live in the next build. Woohoo!)).))

Allows you to move while casting and channeling the next 2 Mage spells that have a base cast or channel time less than 4 sec. This spell may be cast while a cast time spell is in progress.

Presence and Flows both add a cooldown to your rotation for you to get any benefit. This complicates an already complicated rotation in raiding, but might provide a nice little IWIN button for PvP.  Currently I’m going with Flows but could change my mind at any time.

Of the spells taking less than four seconds ((I thought they were going to try to simplify things!)), Frostbolt and Frostfire Bolt both qualify. This is still highly situational, though. Getting off an instant Frostbolt, Frostfire Bolt, or Ice Bomb might be worth it, though.

In the end, Presence will probably be my ultimate choice.  As Grimm, I can’t ever remember to switch to Aspect of the Fox for those brief move-and-fire fights, and this looks to be even more complex to shoehorn into an already loaded rotation.

Tier 2 Talents

Tier 2

Achieved at level 30.  The theme here is personal protection / damage mitigation.

Envelops you in a temporal shield for 4 sec. Damage taken while shielded will be healed back over 6 sec. This spell is usable while stunned, frozen, incapacitated, feared or asleep.

Suppresses movement slowing effects and increases your movement speed by 150% for 1 sec.  May only be activated after taking a melee or spell hit greater than 2% of your total health, or after you kill an enemy that yields experience or honor. This spell may be cast while a cast time spell is in progress.

Instantly shields you, absorbing (4580 + $SPFR * 4.401) damage.  Lasts 1 min.  While the shield holds, spellcasting will not be delayed by damage.

Again, it seems, we’re presented with two great choices and one non-starter.  Ice Barrier is a trademark skill for frost mages, offering mitigation and an extremely handy cooldown. The new choice is very interesting, though. Temporal Shield appears to offer a great panic button for those situations in which your healer needs all the help he can get. It doesn’t say, but if it also breaks stun effects, that would be marvy.

Blazing Speed is just a little too complicated in its requirements to be easily accessible in PvE, but looks like it would always be ready to roll in PvP, so I’m guessing that’s the intended audience. This with Blink (please don’t share a cooldown) offers a couple of ways of disengaging with opponents.

Tier 3 TalentsTier 3

Achieved at level 45.  The theme here is crowd control.

Summons a Ring of Frost at the target location.  Enemies entering the ring will become frozen for 10 sec.  Lasts 10 sec.  10 yd radius.

Places an Ice Ward on a friendly target. When an enemy strikes the target, all enemies within 10 yds will become frozen in place for 5 sec. 1 charge.  Lasts 30 sec.

Silences and freezes the target in place for 8 sec.  Lasts half as long versus Player targets.

This, at least, looks like a good Frost tier, with three Frost-themed choices. Again, one seems very clearly aimed at PvP (Frost Ward), though it would be useful in some PvE encounters if cast on the add tank to help control adds where she’s at.

The other two are more PvE ish though I do point out that both may have usefulness in PvP settings.

Of the three, Ring seems to be the most versatile in a raid environment, for CC.

Tier 4 TalentsTier 4

Achieved at level 60.  The theme here is "cooldowns".

Instantly makes the caster invisible, reducing all threat, and removing two damage over time effects. While invisible, you are untargettable by enemies.  Lasts 20 sec.  Invisibility is cancelled if you perform any actions.

Damage taken is reduced by 90% while invisible and for 3 sec after coming out of invisibility.

An attack which would otherwise kill you will instead bring you to 50% of your maximum health, and you will burn for 40% of your maximum health over the next 6 sec.

Cauterize cannot occur more than once every 2 minutes.

When activated, this spell finishes the cooldown of your Ice Block, Frost Nova, and Cone of Cold spell.  Instantly restores 30% of your health. This spell is usable while stunned, frozen, incapacitated, feared or asleep.

Cold Snap of course is a trusty cooldown from days of yore.  Greater Invis is an intriguing alternative due to its damage reduction and dispelling hooks.  Cauterize is an old friend to fire mages, and I must say that I find it quite attractive – enough so that I will probably take that over Cold Snap. Passive mitigation > active mitigation if you have a brain like a sieve.

Tier 5 TalentsTier 5

Achieved at level 75.  The theme here is scary, unpredictable AoE.

Places a Nether Tempest on the target which deals 2784 Arcane damage over 12 sec. Each time Nether Tempest deals damage, an additional 50% of that damage is also dealt to a random target within 10 yards.

The target becomes a Living Bomb, taking 1388Fire damage over 12 sec. When this effect ends, or the target dies, it explodes to deal an additional 1395 Fire damage to up to 3 enemies within 10 yards.  Limit 3 targets.

Places a Frost Bomb on the target.  After 5 sec sec, the bomb explodes, dealing 2791 Frost damage to the primary target, and 1396 Frost damage to all other targets within 10 yds.  All affected targets are slowed by 70% for 2 sec sec. Frost Bomb’s countdown and cooldown are reduced by haste.

I love AoE, but I’ve always found unpredictable AoE to be a loaded weapon on both ends of the barrel. Just ask a Warlock how many times Seed of Corruption has gotten him in trouble. Flora could go on all day ((No, really, she could. Please don’t get her started.)).  You just can’t use these things in crowded areas, around CC’d adds, and the like.

Of the three, Frost Bomb is the most intriguing to me, as well as the most apt for a Frostie.

Tier 6 TalentsTier 6

Achieved at level 90.  The theme here is replenishment.

Your Evocation spell no longer has a cooldown, but you passively regenerate 50% less mana.

Completing an Evocation causes you to deal 30% increased spell damage for 40 sec.

Places a Rune of Power on the ground, which lasts for 1 min. While standing in your Rune of Power, your mana regeneration is increased by 100% and your spell damage is increased by 15%. Only 2 Runes of Power can be placed at one time.

Places a magical ward on you, absorbing up to (1374 + $SPA * 1.320) damage for 8 sec. Absorbed damage will restore up to 15% of your maximum mana.

When this effect ends, you gain up to 30% increased spell power for 15 sec, based on the absorption used.

Hoo boy, this is a tough one. All of these look great! Invocation is perfect for a glass cannon spec. Rune of Power gives a frostie more group utility by having a little something for the healers to munch on. And Incanter’s Ward just looks like the perfect OHCRAP button.  These really give you something to consider!

Wrapping Up

There’s a fine line to be trod here between "interesting but not class-defining talents" and "doesn’t matter, vote the party line". In the end I’m worried that talents are becoming no more significant than glyphs in design, or, should I say, the new Prime Glyph of the game, now that those aren’t a part of the game any more.

I appreciate the concept – that rather than give you the illusion of choice knowing you’re always going to pick what is recommended, they take away the choices that aren’t choices and leave only the stuff that you have latitude to choose.

The balancing act, however, comes in when you try to balance each tier’s talents against each other so that the choices that you can make are for your own good, yet none becomes a non-choice due to clear superiority over the others.

Meanwhile, the obvious PvP choices have already been made for you, if you’re a PvP-er, so even before we get out of the gate, the point has been proven. Within each tier, then, the remaining choices are mostly based on play style.

It will be interesting to see how that balances out in a live environment.

Next up: the spellbook.

Frost Magery in MoP – getting started

In the following series, I’ll be looking at the way that the Frost Mage specialization has changed between Cataclysm and MoP  I’ll be handling this via a series of small posts. Today’s is regarding the initial impressions moving from Cata to Mop.  I’ll look at specializations and talents today, and do a quick test run on a level 80 target dummy ((I’d do it on a raiding dummy, but I never really got geared for raiding.)).

Character Screen

First of all, as Grimm mentioned earlier, the human character screen is different. I like it – it gives a better “feeling” for the city of Stormwind. While that may just be the newness of it all, possibly, I don’t really think so. It’s pretty!

Yes, that’s my squid on a stick. Told you I wasn’t geared! But here’s something that confuses me. I thought I read that we were losing our 2H slot and using Wands for our mainhand weapon. The slot for the wand is gone, but I still had it and can still equip it. I can also unequip my staff and reequip it, so I’m guessing it’s not being enforced yet ((Oddly, one of the spells in my spellbook is grayed out because it says it ‘requires wands’.)).  Or, possibly, we can choose between wands, daggers, staves, and one-handed swords.  That’s more than I was lead to expect!

Right, then. On to magery!

Spec SelectionSince my talents had been reset (there’s a surprise), I had to reselect my school of magic.

The Spec Selection layout is much improved, and makes it very clear what each spec brings to the table. I am somewhat amused that the secondary talent tab defaults to a Hunter spell’s icon (autofire?).

Arcane SpellbookOnce you select your school, your spellbook grays out the tabs for the other two specs.

The interesting thing is, all spells you can use are now collapsed to a single spellbook tab. Unfortunately, they haven’t gotten around to alphabetizing them yet, so you kinda have to hunt a bit for spells you’re looking for.

Frost Spellbook

Also noteworthy is that spells that are in principal from other schools, such as Arcane Blast, are on all tabs for all specs. For example, there is a portal and teleport spell on each tab, as well as Polymorph. This works well, I think, but maybe they should just get rid of the other tabs altogether.

On the other hand, it might make things clearer if all but the school’s spells were on a tab marked “common” or something like that.

Alter Time

Sadly, at the moment our only potential level 90 spell – Alter Time – appears to be a multi-school spell rather than specific to our spec.  That’s a shame. What a missed opportunity to make a serious spec statement.

Talent Spec Pane

The Talent Pane is reduced to six tiers from which you may select ONE talent each. That gives you a total of six talents by the time you hit 90. They are presented every 15 levels, starting at 15.

As you may be able to tell from the image, unlearning a talent no longer requires a complete respec. Instead, you can spend a Dust of Disappearance to unlearn, and presumably relearning is free. I haven’t tried yet because there is some confusion on my part as to what is and isn’t working in respec-land.

I’ll go into each tier in detail in the next installment, but here’s the upshot.  At each tier, you get to choose from one of three talents. Each is flavored just a little differently, presenting (usually) a real choice in how you play the game.  Some talents are clearly favoring raiding, or PvP, or that “fun” factor that Ghostcrawler loves to go on about.

Frostfire OrbAs I said, I’m going to go into detail in the next installment. For now, here’s an image that provides a look at the new Frostfire Orb graphics.  Well, the spell itself has been replaced with Frozen Orb, but it currently has the same icon, which is telling.

That’s the same graphic that Toravon the Ice Watcher used for his AoE attack.

Cool, huh?

Oh, Gumdrop, we hardly knew ye

I am shocked – shocked! – to find out that my dear water elemental has has his name revoked, and the macro I recently shared no longer works.

So, so long, Gumdrop, Dooshie, and  – my favorite – Moist. We will all miss you very much.

/Illume uncorks a fresh bottle of Kungaloosh and drains it

/Illume toddles off in search of moar

A funny thing happened on the forum

Updated to add: This no longer works, as of 4.0.1, so don’t waste your time. Thanks for your interest.

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Updated (10/23/10) to add: link to Forum post, sorry for leaving that out. You, too, may go confirm that no Blues have weighed in on this, so if you’re worried about the banhammer, don’t do it!

Mostly, didn’t want anyone thinking that I was taking credit for something that I did NOT discover.

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This may or may not work on Warlock pets, too.

Frost mages, target your elemental.

Type this into your chat pane:

/run PetRename(“NAME HERE”)

Where “Name Here” is the new name of your elemental.

Everybody, meet Gumdrop. His turn-ons are Otter Pops, coloring books, and chainsaws. His turnoffs are Hordies, mean people, and something called “Glembeck”.

Gumdrop