Playing a Mage in World of Warcraft is about two things: getting the big numbers on the board, and looking cool while doing so. Unfortunately, time hasn’t been too kind on these majesties of conjuration, with successive expansions crowbarring in the clunk of complexity at the cost of finesse. Sure, we might be putting respectable scores on the doors, but it’s debatable if the class felt fun to play.
However, all that looks set to change with Legion. The latest beta patch seems to have Blizzard smacking the rewind button, with the Fire spec playing much more like it did during Wrath of the Lich King. Both Frost and Arcane specs are disabled while further tweaking takes place, but it looks like the latter’s been climbing into the DeLorean as well. Time travel isn’t without its casualties though, with a mixed bag of class identity being sent to the void.
With the advent of Class or Order Halls, Blizzard’s making a concerted effort for the classes to feel stronger than ever, so it’s no surprise that mechanics are getting a closer inspection as well. After giving it a try for myself with what’s available in the Legion beta, my first impressions are strong. The old mage is back in town, and it’s all good.
Deck the Halls
Legion wastes no time in getting the class story into motion: as soon as you arrive in the relocated Dalaran, a messenger arrives to bring you up to speed. It seems Meryl Felstorm, once of the Council of Tirisfal, is looking to reform the Tirisgarde. And that’s where you come in, first by recapturing the Forge of the Guardian (which we’ll need to power up the new artefact), and then by opening the Hall of the Guardians and bringing in a new team of mages. If you like your arcane lore, you’re going to get a huge kick out of the experience.
Unfortunately you don’t get long to inspect the new digs before being packaged off in search of your weapon of ultimate power. Legion introduces the concept of Artefacts, which grow in power as you level up, and gradually unlock new abilities as they get used. Although there’ll eventually be one for each spec, the Fire sword is currently the only one implemented. Conveniently, it’s housed in Icecrown, now ‘under new management’.
Getting hold of Felo’melorn (I swear it’s Darnassian for ‘fiery stabbyness’) is straightforward enough, although it might dust off a few cobwebs for those who haven’t picked up the class since hitting level 100 all those months ago. You will need to make sure you’re using a full kit of abilities in order to handle some of the more challenging packs, including some of standard kite-and-AoE techniques, but you shouldn’t break a sweat over it.
As for the continuing Mage experience, and the wider world of Legion, we’re currently waiting on a future patch to open up more of the content. That said, based on first impressions, I’d give this a tentative thumbs-up. Class Halls feel like a nice compromise between being the champion and playing with others, while neatly avoiding the ‘Middle Manager of Justice’ that came with running a garrison full of followers.
After all, Mages shouldn’t be managers. They tend to set fire to the paperwork and leave unattended portals in meeting rooms.