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WoWDec 6, 2015 4:00 pm CT

Arcane Sanctum: Changes to Arcane talents in Legion Alpha

Now that the Legion alpha is available, we’re getting new information all the time. In addition to details about Artifact weapons that have been datamined, we’re seeing all of the details about talent tree revamps. The only thing that’s missing is the final tier, but we’re still able to look at the entirety of the talent trees the way they are currently.

Although I considered writing about all of the talent trees in a single article, there’s too much information here to do them adequate justice that way – so we’re going to look at just Arcane and each spec will have their own column. Please keep in mind that information available from the alpha is subject to change very quickly. Our talent trees were reshuffled (again) just one day after I originally wrote this. So keep the fluid nature of alphas in mind as you read. Everything has the potential to be different again before the expansion is released, but this is the way things stand right now.

As we’ve discussed previously, Arcane is the spec that is anticipating the most change in general. The all new Arcane Mastery: Savant is going to affect playstyle significantly and the talent tree is also seeing considerable change. Legion’s design goal is to have more talents that are spec exclusive, which also seems to mean completely eliminating some talents that no longer fit in.


Tier 1

The earlier tiers have seen some of the most notable changes. Evanesce and Blazing Speed have been completely removed. Ice Floes has been moved to Tier 5. This first tier receives entirely new talents in the form of Arcane Familiar, Static, and Torrent.

Suddenly the first tier of talents is looking much more interesting than it has in the past. Choosing between these three talents is going to have some significant gameplay implications. Arcane Familiar will give Arcane Mages a chance to have a pet, something we’ve never experienced before! It’s not a constant pet such as Frost has access to, but it gives an additional means of generating Arcane Charges “passively,” since the pet will be attacking on its own.

The second option here is Static, and its burst and ramp-up potential is significant. This is going to be a powerful talent for any time you need to blast up to full damage and max out your Arcane Charges quickly for focused single target damage.

Finally, Torrent has some impressive implications for AOE damage. Remember that Arcane Barrage will also hit one additional target for every Arcane Charge you have. This will increase that damage to 100%. Also, at end game Aluneth, Greatstaff of the Magna has Arcane Rebound which causes Arcane Barrage to bounce. We don’t know exactly how this ability will play with Torrent, but I can imagine a lot of bouncing, exploding and Supernovas, all of which sounds amazing.


Tier 2

This tier is changing completely, as Alter Time, Flameglow and Ice Barrier are all being removed. Cauterize is moving here from Tier 4, and surprisingly Ice Block is becoming a talent rather than a latent ability.

The removal of Alter Time and Flameglow is not surprising, considering Alter Time’s controversial history and the inherent difficulty in its use. It seems like an ability that many Mages (especially new ones) would have found confusing. Flameglow was also not a popular choice. Many Mages using Ice Barrier did so because of its beneficial spell interruption quality, not because it was particularly interesting.

The introduction of Ice Block as a talent in this tier presents more of a conundrum. It functions exactly as it always did, but in order to take it you’ll have to give up Cauterize. This has some major implications for our survivability. If you opt to take Cauterize, you’re no longer going to have the means to remove the damaging debuff by yourself. I know this definitely worries me. It’s not that I don’t trust my healers – but dealing with my smouldering robes isn’t something they always have time for, depending on who else is taking damage.

The only new talent here is Shimmer, which I could see being a really big deal for both PVP and any PVE fights requiring high mobility. This has the potential to give us unprecedented mobility and will definitely be a useful situational choice, especially for fights with a great deal of ambient unavoidable damage.

Tier 3

Ring of Frost and Ice Ward have both been moved to Tier 5. This tier is now exactly what Tier 6 used to be, three DPS/spellpower increasing abilities: Mirror Image, Rune of Power, and Incanter’s Flow. This is going to give Mages earlier access to the DPS boosting talents located here, although unfortunately Rune of Power is still among them. I find it needlessly restrictive, boring, and I’d like to see it go away permanently.

An earlier alpha build had Rune of Power and Incanter’s Flow on different tiers, which was distressing because it would’ve been a necessary choice on a separate tier. At least now it’s alongside Incanter’s Flow which presents a reasonable alternative.


Tier 4

Tier 4 sees some changes as Supernova is moved here from Tier 5. This tier also used to have Greater Invisibility, which has now been removed. This is a shame, since it was an ability with great utility, although it needed very specific timing and fight knowledge to be effective. This may give a hint as to why it might have been removed. Cold Snap is also gone, and Cauterize was moved from here to Tier 2.

Charged Up has the potential to be an interesting choice, allowing you to completely replenish your Arcane Charges on a thirty second cooldown.

Words of Power, though not yet implemented, will also play with Arcane Charges by replenishing them every 1.5 seconds while it’s being channeled.

Tier 5

This tier is now essentially Tier 3 except with the change of having Ice Floes moved here from Tier 1. This is a change that will have major implications for PVE Mages. There’s simply no reason for most boss fights to choose either Ring of Frost or Ice Ward, and so unless this tier is revamped again, Ice Floes will easily become the de facto choice for raiding. Ring of Frost and Ice Ward might still be considered for PVP Mages, depending on the specific circumstances.

Tier 6

All three of the talents originally here have been moved, including Mirror Image, Rune of Power, and Incanter’s Flow. Nether Tempest and Unstable Magic were relocated from Tier 5 and there is one completely new talent: Erosion. This new talent will erode the target’s resistances, increasing damage taken by all of your Arcane spells by 20% for 10 seconds. This is an interesting choice for this tier and I actually do mean choice, because each of the three talents could be beneficial in different circumstances. Whether it’s worth giving up one of Arcane’s only available DOTs will need to be evaluated on a per encounter basis.Arcane_Sanctum_Khadgar_Prismatic_Crystal_Header

Tier 7

There’s no change here with regards to Overpowered and Arcane Orb which remain the same and haven’t moved. The new talent here is Quickening and I’m sure no one will be upset when I tell you it’s replacing Prismatic Crystal. No more having to place a finicky targeting reticule (path not found) only for the boss to speed away to the other side of the room!

Now, just what is Quickening? It’s not a Highlander reference, no one is getting beheaded – this talent allows Arcane Blast and Arcane Missiles to also grant 2% haste when you cast them. This effect stacks, although it’s not yet clear just how high it can stack. But it definitely has the potential to stack up against the other two talents in this tier.


Our first look at the revamped talent trees definitely reveals the developers’ stated intent to diversify the tiers. Each tier has a  clearly defined “theme,” and there are many more talents specific to each spec. This is going to have a positive effect on the experience of playing a class and spec. The simplification of the talent trees into tiers could sometimes leave each spec feeling a bit generic in terms of your choices. Once Legion goes live, you’re definitely going to know that you’re playing an Arcane Mage. Arcane was particularly singled out for some of the most significant changes, the most notable being a revamped mastery.

But, as always, World of Warcraft is an evolving and changing game. While we may regret the removal of the old, we’re still ushering in the new. We’ll soon get to see how these new abilities and cooldowns will behave alongside a new mastery as well as Artifact abilities. It’s gratifying to be receiving some needed attention and the removal of (some) onerous abilities. It’s looking like a bright future is in store for Arcane Mages.

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