We continue our early look at class and specialization design with the Mage. In these blogs, we’ll be exploring class identity, discussing Legion’s new designs, and presenting core combat abilities for each specialization—laying out the foundation upon which talents and Artifacts will build further. With that in mind, let’s delve into what it means to be a Mage in World of Warcraft.
In terms of spec definition and overall design changes, Mages lay in contrast to the classes we’ve talked about so far in this series. Mages are in a very strong place compared to most classes, both thematically and mechanically. There’s a lot of distinction among Arcane, Fire, and Frost Mages, with each type of caster specializing heavily in a single school of magic, and each of the three schools having strong themes and consistent properties. Arcane magic warps time and space, and controls the flow of mana; Fire magic unleashes destructive force that spreads chaotically; and Frost slows and controls, setting foes up for devastating strikes.
The changes we’re making are more to prop up existing gameplay for all skill levels and provide some quality-of-life improvements. As a simple example, Summon Refreshment now automatically provides you with a stack of food if you’re adventuring out on your own, or a table of refreshments when in a party or raid.
Mages of the arcane are diviners of secrets, balancing the ebb and flow of incredible mystic energies. Unparalleled skill is required to manipulate the volatile forces of the universe. These practitioners push their magical knowledge to its very limits—often to the brink of their own exhaustion, and at great risk to the world around them. Those who master this craft are capable of releasing a barrage of unrelenting power upon their enemies, drawing upon replenishing energies to maintain their assault for as long as the battle demands.
"Mages of the arcane are diviners of secrets, balancing the ebb and flow of incredible mystic energies"
Arcane Mage abilities and gameplay already deliver on the spec’s fantasy quite well, so most changes are in the vein of polishing what’s already there. First, for added mechanical clarity, Arcane Charges are now an actual resource located underneath your Mana bar instead of a stacking debuff. The functionality is still very much the same, but this change should make their accumulation and use more distinct. The one significant gameplay change is that Arcane has a new Mastery, which increases your maximum Mana by a percentage, and increases the damage bonus from Arcane Charges. This should make the Mastery feel a bit more interesting by allowing more aggressive Mana usage as your Mastery improves, and feel more empowering, ultimately giving you much more control over your rotation.
Here’s a basic look at the core combat abilities for Arcane Mages:
- Arcane Blast
- 5% Mana, 40 yd range, 2.25 sec cast
- Blasts the target with energy, dealing moderate Arcane damage and generating an Arcane Charge.
- Arcane Blast’s damage is increased by 50% per Arcane Charge, and its Mana cost is increased by 100% per Arcane Charge.
- Arcane Missiles
- 40 yd range, Channeled
- Launches five waves of Arcane Missiles at the enemy over 2 sec, causing minor Arcane damage per wave. Generates an Arcane Charge.
- Arcane Missiles’ damage is increased by 50% per Arcane Charge.
- Arcane Missiles has a chance to be activated after each of your damaging spell casts. Limit 3 charges.
- Arcane Barrage
- 0.5% Mana, 40 yd range, Instant, 3 sec cooldown
- Launches bolts of arcane energy at the enemy target, causing strong Arcane damage. Consumes all Arcane Charges.
- Arcane Barrage’s damage is increased by 50% per Arcane Charge, and it hits 1 additional nearby target per Arcane Charge for 50% damage.
- Channeled, 1.5 min cooldown
- Gain 25% of your total Mana instantly, and another 75% of your total mana over 6 sec.
- Mastery: Savant
- Increases your Mana regeneration rate and maximum Mana by 20% (with Mastery from typical gear).
- Arcane Charges increase the damage of affected spells by an additional 10% (with Mastery from typical gear).
- Instant, 1.5 min cooldown
- For the next 4 sec, casting Blink will not trigger its cooldown
Additionally, to give you an idea of how some talents may build upon this, here’s an example of one of their Arcane-specific talents:
- Arcane Blast and Arcane Missiles also grant 2% Haste for 6 sec, stacking.
- This effect is cleared when you cast Arcane Barrage.
While any worthy mage is an unparalleled expert in the use of magic and heavily dedicated to their craft, those who master the forces of fire tend to be a little more audacious than their peers. If a threat stands before them, the answer is always to neutralize it in a glorious blaze. A lifetime dedicated to the study of fiery forces only fuels their pyromania, and these mages take pride—even pleasure—in igniting their enemies in wild bursts of flame. Mistake their affinity for watching things burn as a lack of self-control at your own peril.
"These mages take pride—even pleasure—in igniting their enemies in wild bursts of flame"
Similar to Arcane, Fire already exudes its core identity, so our changes are focused on gameplay adjustments. Ultimately, you will have more freedom in what buttons you press and more control over the Heating Up mechanic, which is core to Fire Mages. In particular, the Inferno Blast ability was trying to fill two roles: spreading Ignite, and forcing a Hot Streak from a Heating Up. We’ve opted to move the spreading to an innate property of Ignite and have taken Inferno Blast off the global cooldown so that you can more freely and intuitively use it to trigger a Hot Streak.
Another major change is the redesign of Combustion. It’s an incredibly complex skill, hard to understand for most people, and has the potential for either ridiculous success or critical failure, with the odds being extremely random and very hard to gauge much of the time. We’re redesigning it into something that fits into the Fire rotation in a clear and consistent way.
Here’s a basic look at the core combat abilities for Fire Mages:
- 4% Mana, 40 yd range, 2.25 sec cast
- Throw a fiery ball that causes moderate Fire damage.
- Hot Streak
- Getting 2 direct-damage critical strikes in a row will make your next Pyroblast or Flamestrike spell instant cast, and cause double the normal Ignite damage.
- Developer Comment:
- You may not start a new streak (aka, gain Heating Up), while a Hot Streak is already active
- It was never our intention for players to sit with a Hot Streak active, then keep fishing for another Heating Up before throwing instant Pyro out—in general, we don’t like the game telling you to press a button when you shouldn’t
- Inferno Blast
- 2% Mana, 40 yd range, Instant, 12 sec recharge, 2 charges
- Blasts the enemy for moderate Fire damage. This damage is always a critical strike.
- Inferno Blast is not on the global cooldown, and can be cast while casting other spells.
- 5% Mana, 40 yd range, 4.5 sec cast
- Hurl an immense fiery boulder that causes massive Fire damage.
- 10% Mana, Instant, 2 min
- Engulf yourself in flames, increasing your critical strike chance by 100% for 10 sec.
- Also grants you Mastery equal to your Critical Strike stat.
- Mastery: Ignite
- Your target burns for an additional 30% (with Mastery from typical gear) over 9 sec of the total direct damage caused by your Fireball, Inferno Blast, Scorch, Pyroblast, and Flamestrike. If this effect is reapplied, any remaining damage will be added to the new Ignite.
- Every 2 sec, your Ignites may spread to another nearby enemy.
Additionally, to give you an idea of how some talents may build upon this, here’s an example of one of their Fire-specific talents:
- 1% Mana, 40 yd range, 1.5 sec cast, 8 sec cooldown
- Throw a spread of 6 cinders that travel in an arc, and each deal minor Fire damage to enemies they hit.
Frost mages stand apart from their colleagues, in that their chosen school of magic focuses on maintaining supreme control over the capabilities of their enemies. Mages who command frost perform chilling displays on the battlefield, rendering foes immobile as they bombard them with ice. Often, the blade never reaches the caster before the bitter cold takes hold. The frost mage exudes frigid power as icicles form around them, foreshadowing the wintry demise of those who stand opposed on the field of battle.
"Mages who command frost perform chilling displays on the battlefield, rendering foes immobile"
Frost Mages are very effective casters, and there’s already a lot to like about this spec. Frost’s defining traits and abilities are cohesive, the mechanics are understandable, and there are plenty of opportunities for players to explore unique gameplay at a variety of skill levels. Rather than making any dramatic changes to how a Frost Mage plays, we’ve focused more on fixing one particular outlier in their Spellbook: Frostfire Bolt. After removing the fire portion of the spell, it began to feel like just another Frostbolt, and we started to wonder how a spell supposedly combining frost and fire wasn’t just producing a puddle of water at the feet of the enemy. We’ve removed Frostfire Bolt and made Frozen Orb part of the core spell kit in its place, which better lends itself to the identity of the Frost Mage.
Here’s a basic look at the core combat abilities for Frost Mages:
- Frost Bolt
- 4% Mana, 40 yd range, 2 sec cast
- Launches a bolt of frost at the enemy, causing moderate Frost damage and slowing movement speed by 30% for 15 sec.
- Frozen Orb
- 10% Mana, 40 yd range, Instant, 1 min cooldown
- Launches an orb of swirling ice forward, dealing minor Frost damage every 1 sec to all nearby enemy targets for 10 sec. Grants the Mage 1 charge of Fingers of Frost when it first reaches a target.
- Targets damaged by the Frost Orb are slowed by 30% for 2 sec.
- Ice Lance
- 1% Mana, 40 yd range, Instant.
- Quickly fling a shard of ice at the target, dealing minor Frost damage.
- Ice Lance damage is doubled against frozen targets.
- Brain Freeze
- Your Frostbolts have a 10% chance to reset the cooldown of Frozen Orb.
- Fingers of Frost
- Your successful Frostbolt hits have a 15% chance, and your Blizzard and Frozen Orb ticks have a 5% chance to grant you the Fingers of Frost effect.
- The Fingers of Frost effect causes your next Ice Lance to act as if your target were frozen, and deal 140% increased damage.
- Multiplies the critical strike chance of your spells against Frozen targets by 1.5, and adds an additional 50% chance.
- Mastery: Icicles
- When you damage enemies with Frostbolt, 45% (with Mastery from typical gear) of the damage done is stored as an Icicle with you, for 30 sec. Also increases the damage that your Water Elemental deals by 45% (with Mastery from typical gear).
- Up to 5 Icicles can be stored at once. Excess Icicles that are generated will be automatically launched. Casting Ice Lance causes any Icicles to begin launching at the target.
Additionally, to give you an idea of how some talents may build upon this, here’s an example of one of their Frost-specific talents:
- Glacial Spike
- 1% Mana, 40 yd range, 3 sec cast
- Conjure a massive spike of ice, and merge your current Icicles into it. It impales your target, dealing massive damage, plus the damage stored in your Icicles.
- Requires 5 Icicles to cast.
- Also freezes the target in place for up to 4 sec. Damage caused may interrupt the effect.
- Passive: Ice Lance no longer launches Icicles.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this early preview of our approach to Mage class and specialization design in World of Warcraft: Legion. We’ll continue our series next with a look at Paladins.