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The Mage in Legion

Gareth Harmer Posted:
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Fire it Up

Flipping from content to class mechanics, there’s the question about how Mages actually play in Legion. As I mentioned earlier, most of the changes are good ones, with Blizzard turning back the clock to a Wrath-stroke-Cataclysm era when it comes to Fire. While it’s not all bright coals and roasting corpses, it’s getting very close.

Firstly, let’s talk about mechanics themselves. The fire mage Mastery, Ignite, just got a whole lot more potent: an additional 30% of damage over 9 seconds from almost any fire spell, with that percentage going up with your mastery stat. Plus, every two seconds, there’s a chance it’ll spread to another nearby enemy. Combustion’s also been simplified, giving you 100% crit and Mastery equal to your Crit Strike chance for 10 seconds.

Why are critical hits such a big deal? Score two in a row and your next Pyroblast (or Flamestrike) will cast instantly, and deal double the damage from Ignite. It’s why you’ll want to crit hard and often in order to crank out those Pyros at an intoxicating rate, while keeping yourself mobile enough to avoid any bad stuff heading your way. Luckily, Inferno Blast can always be relied upon to push for an extra crit when you need it, and Scorch can still be cast when moving.

There’s also a lot of fun to be had in the talent tree. It looks as though each spec now has some unique talents, with new choices coming in at Tiers 1, 4 and 8. Pyromaniac (Casting Pyroblast while Hotstreak is active has a 50% chance to reactivate Hotstreak) is an easy choice. I’m not a fan of Cauterise and Ice Block being on the same bracket, as it means I can’t extinguish myself after setting myself on fire, and have to rely on the kindness of fickle healers to patch me up instead. And Rune of Power can go die in a fire.

Lost Toys

Right at the start, I mentioned that looking cool was one of the key components of being a Mage. It’s not enough to put the scores on the doors – dropping a giant flaming meteor on someone’s head should cause involuntary defecation before it lands. You’re not just werfing flammen here, you’re bringing the whole parade in tasteful regalia.

Which is why I’m slightly sad at the loss of Invisibility. For a long time, this was my favourite tool at dumping aggro, avoiding repair bills, and getting Warlocks killed through combinations of the above. Alas, it looks as though those good times are now coming to an end, although I’m not sure why. Given the choice, I’d rather lose Spellsteal than a source of joy, entertainment, and thinly-laminated fel-fan.

It’s also hard not to feel a little bit torn over how the mage plays. On the one hand, there’s a certain mechanical affinity – of every ability clicking into place to create an incendiary rotation. But on the other, there’s the tab targeting, the lack of movement, and the other arbitrary restrictions that are reminders of an 11-year-old game. There’s a huge tug-of-war between nostalgic heart-strings and modern active gameplay that’s leaving me conflicted at the moment, and it’s too early to see how this one pans out.

Once more of the mage experience in Legion opens up, I’ll be reporting in with similar updates on Arcane and Frost specs, along with how each one performs in the wilds of the Broken Isles. Until then, keep toasty.

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Gareth Harmer

Gareth Harmer / Gareth “Gazimoff” Harmer has been blasting and fireballing his way through MMOs for over ten years. When he's not exploring an online world, he can usually be found enthusiastically dissecting and debating them. Follow him on Twitter at @Gazimoff.