There’s finally some actual Mage notes in the PTR patch notes, and the good news is, we’re not just getting some more icon changes. The bad news is that in the short term, we’re getting a serious beating with the nerfbat.
The changes are two-fold. First, the Improved Scorch crit buff/debuff is being slashed by 50%. Instead of stacking to 10% crit with 5 applications, it will now only stack to 5%. This hits Frostfire Mages pretty hard since they’re more reliant on crit for decent dps than any other spec. This change isn’t restricted to mages alone, all similar crit buffs are getting the same beating, and of course the result affects everyone who gets a benefit from spell crit, not just mages. But any way you dress it up, it’s 5% less crit, which means less Hot Streaks, less Master of Elements procs so less regen, and less Ignites. This hits Frostfire Mages HARD.
And it gets worse. Currently, glyphed Molten Armour gives us another 5% crit. Regular readers may recall my constant whining about all of the Spirit on mage gear and the fact that Mages using Molten Armour (and we all do because we’re a dps class, remember) get exactly diddly squat use out of spirit. Well Blizzard’s way of “making spirit a useful and interesting stat for all mages” is to remove the base crit % from Molten Armour completely and change the effect so that it provides crit as a percentage of our spirit. You want numbers? I got numbers.
- Molten Armor now causes 170 Fire damage when hit for all ranks (Up from 75/130/170) and also increases your critical strike rating by 25% of your spirit.
- Glyph of Molten Armor – Your Molten Armor grants an additional 15% (40% total) of your spirit as critical strike rating
So in other words, fully glyphed, you’ll get 40% of your spirit as crit rating. No need to get out your calculators, the numbers are actually pretty simple. If you currently have fully buffed, more than 574 spirit, this is a buff over the current 5% crit that you already get from Glyphed Molten Armour. If, on the other hand, you’re in the 99% of non-retarded mages who have been doing the sensible thing and avoiding spirit on gear because to do otherwise was gimping your dps, then this is another massive nerf.
Let’s look at Calli as an example. With her 645 crit rating, a full Scorch debuff up on the target and glyphed Molten Armour, and assuming an intellect buff, she has 45% base fire crit. Considerably higher than that with FFBolt in a full raid, but we’ll go with 45% for now. She also has 465 spirit, despite trying to avoid it wherever possible, and this is in some of the best mage gear currently available in-game. That’s a LOT of spirit for a Frostfire mage, but it’s all high end raid gear that the majority of mages probably aren’t going to have access to. However, what it does illustrate is that when the patch goes live even mages with the best available current gear are going to go from 45% crit to 39% crit overnight. 5% lost from the nerf to Scorch and 1% lost from the Molten Armour change.
So it’s all pretty bleak, right? Well, not really, no.
There are positive aspects to this. You just have to look at it all in context. The nerf to Scorch is a nerf no matter how you try to dress it up. But it affects everyone, not just us. Take into account the fact that 5% crit buff/debuff that it provides is being spread across other classes (and nerfed for them too) then it means that your Fire and Frostfire Mages no longer have to be the raid’s crit debuff bots. Scrap Improved Scorch and spend those talent points elsewhere, perhaps invest in the Arcane tree and get some useful utility talents on the way to Student of the Mind? Rip up your Glyph of Improved Scorch and get the new Glyph of Living Bomb so your LB ticks can crit, too. Unless you want to you’ll never have to waste time casting Scorch again.
Let’s take a look at the Spirit on gear issue too. What we’re seeing on patch-live day is a consequence of our avoiding spirit in the past, which was a sensible policy since it pretty obviously gimped us and offered nothing useful. There were very limited gear choices available to us if we wanted to avoid spirit. Post-patch every single cloth drop that doesn’t include mana per 5 will be an upgrade for us. Look at the Ulduar loot tables, you can count on the fingers of one head all the cloth gear that doesn’t come loaded with spirit. One way or another, we’re ALL getting more spirit on our gear. At least now it’s not going to gimp us and we’ll actually get some offensive dps benefit from it. Sure, pound for pound, raw crit rating is still better, but have you looked at all that “healer” gear with spirit, crit and haste? That stuff’s for us now! Gimme!
Even in current raid content, if you suddenly start rolling on all the cloth with spirit on it (and let’s face it, that’s almost all of it) you’re still going to be able to break even on patch day from spirit alone. I know I have a couple of items of ilevel 213 gear that I’ve acquired along the way but never managed to work into a useful gear set. Well it’s starting to look pretty useful now.
Of course, if you’re not raiding at the moment, you’re not going to be anywhere near these stat numbers and the change to Molten Armour is going to hit you proportionately harder. There’s no real way to sweeten that. But one thing that needs to be pointed out here is that the change to Molten Armour finally gives us something that scales with our gear. Something we lacked ever since the original nerf to Improved Scorch that removed the 15% damage buff. As your spirit gets higher, and it will because our gear is dripping with the stuff, your crit will continue to improve. Not just into Naxx and Ulduar, but beyond.
Overall, while these two changes to Scorch and Molten Armour are very definitely nerfs over the immediate and short term, I think there’s a compelling reason to be optimistic about the future. Spirit may never be remotely interesting, but it’s beginning to be moderately useful, and it’s only going to get more useful as time goes by.