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WoWApr 10, 2020 4:30 pm CT

Mage class changes in WoW Shadowlands

Ahh, a Mage. Is there a more iconic class to be found in fantasy games? (Answer: there’s not)

The class design philosophy presented at BlizzCon raises a question: how do you maintain player agency, giving us choices, while keeping the Mage feeling unique and special? For Shadowlands, Blizzard is embracing the approach of the Mage using spells across all three schools — Frost, Fire, and Arcane — with the primary damage source being from the spec. Pull up a chair, grab yourself a Mana Cookie, and let’s check out what’s changing (or returning) in Shadowlands.

Gnome Mage

All specializations

  • Spells that are once again shared by all three specs:
    • Arcane Explosion — for that sweet, sweet AOE (at the cost of a chunk of your mana pool).
    • Fireblast — bringing back some instant ka-pow.
    • Frostbolt — an oldie but goodie; frost damage and slow in one semi-quick cast.
    • Mirror Image — so you can have three clones casting regardless of spec.
  • Returning spells:
    • Fire Ward/Frost Ward — boosting defensive capabilities.
    • Alter Time — cast it once, wait for the timer to run out or cast it again, and you return to your initial casting location with your health and mana at the time of initial cast. A handy cheat death.
  • New talents:
    • Focus Magic — a sneaky little buff! Cast on your ally to boost their spell crit chance; when said ally crits, receive the same buff for a short period. It’s an honest-to-goodness two-for-one special.

Arcane Mages

  • Major changes:
    • Touch of the Magi is no longer a talent; welcome it to the spell list as a shiny new debuff. Casters target an enemy to take an additional burst of damage from all Arcane spells and spread that damage to enemies around them.
  • Minor changes:
    • Clearcasting receives an additional stack.
    • Mastery: Savant now boosts the damage of all spells, instead of only Arcane Blast and Arcane Barrage.
  • New talents:
    • Enlightened — Provides a different buff, based on your mana management. (Mana-gement? I’ll be here all week.) Keep your mana above a certain threshold and this talent buffs all Arcane damage dealt. When your mana drops below the magic number, the talent boosts your mana regen.

Blood Elf Fire Mage

Fire Mages

  • Major changes:
    • Mastery: Ignite received a rework to increase the Fire Mage’s precision. When Igniting an enemy, use Fire Blast against them to spread damage to eight enemies around them.
  • Minor changes:
    • Blast Wave will receive a damage boost and duration increase to the 70% movement slow.
    • Kindling is receiving an improved cooldown reduction for Combustion. As Blizzard described, “for Mages who want to watch the world burn.”
    • Pyroclasm will also see an increase in its damage bonus, making that Pyroblast hit all the harder.

Frost Mage

Frost Mages

  • Minor changes:
    • Flurry’s Winter Chill debuff — now a “much longer [lasting] debuff,” Winter’s Chill will cause the next two spells to apply as if the target were frozen. This change will boost the chance of crits against the enemy by both Mage and allies.

So far, Frost Mages are getting the short end of the stick with a single notable change. Does this mean Blizzard thinks they’re perfect as is? Doubtful. We’ll see more down the testing road.

Mage Covenant abilities in Shadowlands

These are the abilities you get at level 60 when you pledge to one of the four Covenants present in Shadowlands. You’ll only be able to have one power active at once, and swapping Covenants sounds like it’s going to be a long and involved process.

  • Kyrian: Radiant Spark
    • Conjure a radiant spark that causes Arcane damage instantly and applies a DOT over 8 seconds.
    • Targets affected by Radiant Spark receive increased damage from your next four direct damage abilities.
  • Night Fae: Shifting Power
    • Channel Nature damage to nearby enemies over three seconds.
    • Every second of channeling increases the caster’s Haste by 5% for 15 seconds.
  • Necrolords: Contagion Bolt
    • Deal direct Shadow damage to your target enemy.
    • For the next 8 seconds, your single-target spells against the affected enemy trigger a splash AOE.
  • Venthyr: Mirrors of Torment
    • Conjure three mirrors that rotate around your target for six seconds.
    • Whenever the targeted enemy casts an ability or spell, they take Shadow damage and are rooted for 1.5 seconds.

The Mage Covenant abilities overall are rather noteworthy. So far, it seems like Kyrian ability will mesh best, just by damage type alone, but each ability and associated utility provided to the caster is unique. The use of these abilities in testing will drive recommendations, but just imagine Mirrors of Torment and Alter Time in a PVP setting — your enemy is trapped and burning themselves down while you’re yards away!

Overall, the Mage changes are pretty low-key. Nothing earth-shattering, but a lot of “let’s boost damage here, and here, and here” with survivability sprinkles and that overall driving force of spreading the toolkit across all three schools. Arcane Mages are getting the most love, at least initially, but who knows what will show up over time!

Check back for more updates throughout Shadowlands testing. We’ve only just begun!

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