Feedback: Mage Updates

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Community Manager
#1 - April 18, 2024, 5:52 p.m.
Blizzard Post

In this thread, we’ll be testing and talking about Mages in The War Within. Look here for posts from the development team as adjustments and bugfixes are made throughout the testing period.

Please note that off-topic or inappropriate posts will be strictly removed.

Thank You

Before we continue testing The War Within, we’d like to take a moment to thank everyone who read and responded to the Hero Talent previews we posted over the last few months.

Looking to the Alpha

In this first Alpha build, every single class has at least one new Hero Talent tree available for testing, with the rest coming in the following weeks. We’re asking testers to initially keep several things in mind:

  • There are UI elements on the talent panel that are placeholder, including things like talent icons, text, or final UI art.
  • Some talents may not be functioning yet, or may be marked as not yet implemented (NYI)
  • New spell visuals and audio for several new Hero Talent trees are still a work in progress. Many trees are using placeholder assets for now that will be updated over the course of Alpha.
  • There are some talents that are not fully tuned yet. This is expected, and we will implement tuning adjustments throughout testing.

The combat design team has two big areas of focus right now that we are prioritizing over other concerns such as tuning or generic class updates/maintenance:

  • Finish building the remainder of the Hero Talent trees that are not yet available.
  • Fix bugs that are blocking testing of new talents.

With the Alpha build being playable and all of the discussion that will occur around the flood of data, we wanted to reiterate that the responses to our blog previews were highly valuable. The feedback we received allowed us to make some early improvements or revisions while we didn’t yet have a public test environment. It allowed us to take some big early swings on certain trees, and then react to early feedback quickly.

Going forward, we aren’t planning to publish any additional Hero Talent previews in blog form, since we’ll add the remaining classes to the Alpha as soon as they reach their ready-to-test state.

Working from Feedback

Several Hero Talent trees have received changes after reading feedback to the blog posts. Some of these were tuning changes to ensure that the Hero Talent tree felt competitive, while others were significant design changes. The feedback thus far has been of great benefit to us.

Going into Alpha, we feel good about the shape of the Hero Talent tree designs. Keeping a consistent number of utility and defensives nodes across all trees, having parity between number of choice nodes, and the overall structure of the trees are things we’re confident in.

We’re also working on tweaking some core class designs as well. In some cases, it was necessary to make adjustments to the class or specialization talent trees before significant work was done on a Hero Talent tree. In other cases, we did work seeking to improve base class talent tree designs.

Alpha Feedback

Now that we’re in Alpha, we’re looking for feedback on how it feels to playtest these trees. We’re specifically curious about:

  • Hero Talents that you feel are “required” for your spec in a type of content, such as raiding or Mythic+, or that push you towards picking a specific tree.
  • Hero Talents that create frustrating or unsatisfying gameplay or rotations for your spec.
  • Hero Talents whose functionality is confusing, unclear, or difficult to track during gameplay.

Throughput comparisons of Hero Talent trees are helpful, but we’re more interested in gameplay, feel, and choice feedback at this stage. Also, when possible, we appreciate it when you focus posts or articles on a single spec and Hero Talent tree, rather than combining feedback about multiple issues.

Again, Thank You

We greatly appreciate all your feedback on Hero Talent trees and are very excited for you to see everything else we’re working on. Thank you!

The World of Warcraft Combat Design Team

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Community Manager
#2 - April 19, 2024, 8:29 p.m.
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Hello mages!

We have some updates coming to the Alpha in the next few weeks and want to give you an early look at a significant talent shakeup.

These changes will be almost exclusively specialization tree changes, but the goals are similar across them all. In general, we’re happy with the core gameplay of each mage specialization. These changes aim to elevate existing gameplay, provide choice, and ease frustration.

Goals

  • Allow you to acquire each specialization’s core gameplay with less talent point investment.
  • Simplify rotational complexity.
  • Provide tools to help you adapt your damage profile to better match a given encounter.
  • Provide competitive choice nodes that let you opt-out of complex gameplay.

Mage Class Tree

So far there is one change in the Mage class tree:

  • Temporal Warp is being removed.

Temporal Warp has some experiential issues we aren’t happy with, like mages not being able to use it in raid fights where Time Warp is not used at the start of the fight. We’re also unhappy with the significant APM requirements it creates, and how failing those might snowball into substantially reduced damage over the course of a fight.

Mage damage overall will be tuned taking Temporal Warp’s removal into account as these changes roll in.

Arcane

The Arcane spec tree will be receiving updates aimed at providing more options for players who enjoy the fantasy of Arcane and want to play it without some of the demanding elements of its current playstyle.

Arcane has a lot of inherent complexity with mana management, and that complexity is not well represented in the spec tree. Talents that might seem simple to manage on other specs become a headache to juggle alongside Arcane’s burns and mana management. This, paired with the new elements being added by Hero Talents, make it seem like the right time to address these issues.

We’re still working on the changes, but we can share this: Radiant Spark will be redesigned to be much simpler. It will also have a competitive choice node for people who do not like the scripted style of gameplay it incentivizes. We’re also looking at increasing the power of Arcane’s procs and giving them more exciting procs, such that responding to them as they come up is almost always the best move, even in your burns.

Fire

Fire will likely be the first to test new changes. These changes are targeted at giving Fire more talent options, particularly in AOE. We want you to be able to assess the encounter and adjust your talents accordingly, and that means being able to alter how good Ignite/Flamestrike/Phoenix Flames are at different target counts. We’re also taking a look at Fire’s suite of maintenance buffs and culling a select few of them.

Frost

With the exception of a few talents, which we’re looking to address, we’re feeling good about Frost’s gameplay and tree. Our first batch of changes for Frost will be small in scope, and targeted at adding a new build that should reminiscent of the Deathborne playstyle from Shadowlands, while also freeing up some talent points.

Thank you for your continued feedback, and we’re excited to hear more from you in the weeks to come.

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#6 - April 25, 2024, 9:22 p.m.
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Hello Mages!

We have a lot of Fire Mage changes hitting the Alpha today, and we want to take some time to go over what changes were made and why. As mentioned in our update post last week, we have a few goals that span all mage specializations. These are:

  • Allow you to acquire each specialization’s core gameplay with less talent point investment.
  • Simplify rotational complexity.
  • Provide new nodes that can help you adapt your damage profile to better match a given encounter’s demands.
  • Provide competitive choice nodes that let you opt-out of complex gameplay.

Since we’re talking about Fire only, we can get a bit more granular:

Fire’s AOE
The biggest issue we were looking to address with this iteration was giving you more ways to adjust your talents and rotation to better suit different profiles, which goes hand-in-hand with increasing the effectiveness and excitement of Flamestrike, Phoenix Flames, and Living Bomb. We’re excited to see what Fire Mages can cook up with the new talents. Our goal with these changes is to push Ignite-spreading out of the default playstyle in higher forms of content, especially above 3 targets-- but retain and add talent support for it so its still exciting to utilize when it makes sense.

Sun King’s Blessing
Sun King’s Blessing is a powerful and exciting capstone that Fire Mage players have been utilizing heavily for quite a while. We like the Sun King’s Blessing / Unleashed Inferno capstone choice node, but recognize that Unleashed Inferno still has some gaps to close, particularly in AOE.

By increasing the stack requirement of Sun King’s Blessing to 10 and increasing Unleashed Inferno’s effectiveness in AOE, we’re hoping that the two talents can better coexist as a meaningful choice when going into an encounter.

Maintenance Buffs
Fire’s array of maintenance buffs has been a sore spot in Dragonflight, and its something we’re looking to address moving forward-- especially given the addition of the Aberrus tier set as talents in the Fire tree.

Firemind is our first removal, but we’re also being sensitive to the fact that Firemind didn’t require you to play around it very much, so its removal might not be doing much to simplify the landscape of Fire’s maintenance buffs.

We’re also simplifying Improved Scorch’s damage amplification effect to be less punishing when its dropped, but also allowing it to be opt-in complexity. Fire Mages who want increased execute damage without the addition of another maintenance buff should look towards Down in Flames, a new choice node against Improved Scorch.

Feel the Burn is on our radar, but its output is impactful enough that it serves as a great way to express skill for Fire Mages who have mastered its gameplay. New talents along with effects from the Frostfire and Sunfury trees are increasing player’s access to Fire Blast and Phoenix Flames, so keeping Feel the Burn up should be easier than ever before.

That’s all for this update. We’re excited to read all of your feedback on the new Fire talents!

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Community Manager
#12 - May 2, 2024, 10:47 p.m.
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Hello Mages!

We have some Arcane Mage changes hitting the War Within Alpha today, and we want to go over them here. As mentioned a couple of weeks ago, we have goals that span all mage specializations.

These are:

  • Allow you to acquire each specialization’s core gameplay with less talent point investment.
  • Simplify rotational complexity.
  • Provide new nodes that can help you adapt your damage profile to better match a given encounter’s demands.
  • Provide competitive choice nodes that let you opt-out of complex gameplay.

Today we’re talking about Arcane, so let’s dive into the specifics.

Radiant Spark
Arcane Mage has long had the reputation of being one of the most complicated and skill expressive specializations in World of Warcraft. A large contributing factor to this is the way in which Radiant Spark asks you to optimize your rotation. Radiant Spark’s damage bonus was so substantial and so dramatically punished you for using Arcane Missiles, that you had to go about your big burn in a very scripted fashion. With the introduction of Shifting Power, Arcane Mage gained access to mini-burns that can also utilize Radiant Spark, but to facilitate optimal usage of the spell those also had to be very scripted-- and worse yet-- your mini burn script was different than your big burn script.

All of that to say, we don’t think that the exciting and challenging part of Arcane should be the memorization of a large script. Arcane’s burn gameplay should support and be enhanced by the mechanics and talents you have, not circumvent them. We feel confident that the removal of Radiant Spark in its current fashion is the right path forward to achieve that goal.

The soul of Radiant Spark will live on, however, through a new talent: Magi’s Spark. Magi’s Spark accomplishes a similar goal to Radiant Spark by making Touch of the Magi more of an exciting moment, but it now rewards you for utilizing each of your core rotational Arcane spells.

Opt-In Complexity
We’re interested in preserving Arcane’s legacy as a skill-expressive specialization, but we must also recognize that there is a considerable population of Arcane Mage players who engage with the specialization for its visual identity and fantasy-- less so for the challenging gameplay. As Arcane Mage currently stands, it does not support simpler playstyles and thus, less informed Arcane Mages will produce very middling results.

Similar to other trees across the game, the Arcane Mage tree is getting some choice nodes and supporting talents that are meant to provide meaningful throughput while offsetting some of the specialization’s inherent complexity-- and maybe letting you remove a button or two off of your action bars along the way.

As with Fire Mage, we plan on tuning the more “challenging” talents to be the most competitive choices, but we will be making sure the gap between a complex talent and its simpler alternative is small enough that you don’t feel like you’re making a huge mistake by opting out of the complexity.

Arcane Missiles
Arcane Missile’s damage and excitement was difficult to balance alongside its accessibility. If Arcane Missiles ever became too powerful, it would dominate Arcane’s rotation and become its highest priority in all situations. By restricting access to Arcane Missiles to only be castable when you have Clearcasting, it enables us to increase its damage and expand its range of effects in a more healthy way without compromising the rest of your rotation.

Clearcasting Effects
We’ve observed that there has been some frustration around effects that key into consuming Clearcasting since there can rarely be long streaks where players won’t get a proc. We’re watching the discussion around these effects, and are being sensitive to the frustration these effects might cause. Sunfury and Spellslinger both grant increased access to Clearcasting, which should smooth out the rate at which you receive Clearcasting and quell some of that frustration, but if this still ends up being a large point of frustration, expect us to take action on it.

Complexity
Increasing the approachability of Arcane Mage was a big pillar of this talent tree redesign, and we hope that those of you who have been intimidated by Arcane’s complexity in the past will give the specialization another shot once you have access to these changes.

As we gather feedback and continue to iterate on these changes, keep in mind that our goal moving forward is to move the skill expression of Arcane Mage into lining various buffs and effects up in preparation for your burn. Mastering the new talents and effects, and ensuring you’re managing these in a proper fashion to best utilize them during Touch of the Magi will be the differentiating factor between good and great Arcane Mages. Expect future changes to support this vision.

That’s all for this update. We’re excited to read your feedback on this new iteration of Arcane Mage!

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#25 - May 21, 2024, 9:36 p.m.
Blizzard Post

Hello mages!

We have another round of Arcane Mage changes hitting the Alpha today, and we want to do a check-in on the state of Arcane Mage and how it relates to our stated goals.

As mentioned in our initial post, our goals for our Alpha Mage changes were:

  • Allow you to acquire each specialization’s core gameplay with less talent point investment.
  • Simplify rotational complexity.
  • Provide new nodes that can help you adapt your damage profile to better match a given encounter’s demands.
  • Provide competitive choice nodes that let you opt-out of complex gameplay.

We feel that as of right now, we’re approaching these goals with Arcane, but there have been a few outliers that we’d like to address.

Clearcasting
In this alpha build, we are officially untying Clearcasting’s proc chance from mana spent. While this did add interesting texture to the landscape of Arcane’s rotation, it created some discrepancies we weren’t comfortable with-- namely how challenging generating Clearcasting could be in AOE versus single target where mana spent varies drastically.

After this change, initial tests show proc rates marginally decreased in single target but increased in multi target-- which will assuredly have some knock-on effects across Arcane’s kit. We’ll be monitoring discussion and making adjustments as necessary to Clearcasting’s proc rate and its associated talents.

Clearcasting Out of Combat
In the latest build, we’ve removed Arcane’s ability to generate Clearcasting out of combat with spells like Arcane Explosion. We do not feel that spamming Arcane Explosion outside of combat to build Clearcasting pre-pull or in-between packs in M+ was an interesting or compelling part of Arcane’s gameplay, but it felt necessary to smoothly begin damage.

To remedy the loss of this functionality, we made Evocation grant Clearcasting, so that those of you who use it can still reliably acquire Clearcasting on pull or going into your burns. In AOE scenarios, the aforementioned changes to Clearcasting should mean you are more consistently gaining Clearcasting in AOE, so the need to build Clearcasting in-between packs should be lessened.

We will be closely monitoring feedback with regards to this change, so please share your thoughts!

Arcane Battery
Both Arcane and Fire are seeing some Dragonflight tier bonuses baked into their talent tree in the War Within Alpha. While there was initial excitement around the return of the 4-set effects, we’ve seen a lot of discussion around the gameplay and tracking inherent to the 2-set effects Arcane Battery and Charring Embers.

After some consideration, we’ve decided to remove the 2-set effects to help reach our stated goals of reducing rotational complexity and to mitigate buff tracking. Arcane will see Arcane Battery removed in today’s Alpha build, with Charring Ember’s removal coming in a future update.

Wizened Wit
As with many of our active-to-passive talent choice nodes, our goal is to make sure that the more complex option is usually the strongest, but we are making a concerted effort to ensure that the distance between the two talents is not very large. With regards to Wizened Wit, our initial tuning made it substantially better than Presence of Mind-- its more complex counterpart.

This has sparked some interesting discussion, with some parties happy to lose Presence of Mind, while others are sad to see it not be optimal anymore. We’ll be continuing to monitor the discussion, and in the meantime, we are going to be adjusting Wizened Wit to close the gap on the choice node.

Buff Tracking
Talents like Arcane Battery, Aether Attunement, and Leydrinker incentivized a lot of buff tracking, something that Arcane Mage didn’t have a lot of before. While we are comfortable moving Arcane’s complexity into the more traditional buff-tracking-space, it is very clear that we overshot the mark, and we’ve taken steps to rein in amount of effects that need to be tracked.

We really appreciate all the feedback we’ve been receiving with regards to the Mage changes, and we hope you keep it coming!