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Arcane Mage: First Impression of the New Mage Talent Trees in Dragonflight
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With the reveal of the Dragonflight Mage talent trees, our Arcane Mage writer Porom provides initial reactions and thoughts on this revamped system. We break down the Arcane Mage talent trees, discussing the new talents and providing some sample builds. Join us as we predict how this class could play in Dragonflight!
Mage Dragonflight Class Tree
Class Dragonflight Talents - What’s New?
Dragonflight is bringing a new take on talents, instead of 7 rows of 3 options to choose from we will have trees that include many Arcane Mage spells and abilities as well as previous borrowed powers. The goal of these is to enable competing playstyles while providing a foundation for abandoning the heavy borrowed power model for class development. We will receive two talent trees, a class tree which is shared between all Mage specs, and an Arcane specific tree.
The Mage class tree enables some interesting utility pickups we previously did not have access to. The most notable entries are
. There are a lot of returning conduit powers from Shadowlands as well as some new talents which are definitely welcome, most notably
While throughput options are all very familiar, there is yet another rework on
proc now instead of 4
s and giving the new
buff in place of the old
buff (more on that in the spec tree discussion).
makes a return from Shadowlands and
has migrated its way from the Fire talent tree into being a capstone talent.
Everything else will be immediately recognizable as basic Mage utility or some minor defensive conduits from Shadowlands.
Mage Dragonflight Talent Tree - First Impressions
My first impression of things was rightfully pessimistic, the class tree has some serious issues for Arcane Mages. To focus first on the positive points here:
are of particular noteworthiness for both mythic+ and PvP. I don't know if these options will enable Arcane to become more relevant in PvP, but it is definitely a welcome start. Being able to pair
can enable some builds to perform their burst while being fully mobile. There are some interesting uses for
, even though it is really off-theme for Arcane. These are the kind of tools that have been seriously lacking for Arcane over recent expansions.
Now for the negative points. The biggest issue in my mind is the heavy expenditure of talents at the bottom of the tree; because of this positioning and cost of talents, you can get 2 capstones and both stat boost talents (
) by sacrificing our strongest mobility talent node (
). On top of creating issues like this, where a build is almost certainly going to be the best simply by having more throughput talents, the bottom talent branches having both a strong utility spell and strong capstone spell locked behind 3-point nodes reduces the freedom players have to choose utility options overall.
It is also strange that Arcane has had it's spec-unique defensive,
made available via the talent tree to Frost and Fire, however
are locked in their respective spec talent trees. There is a real likelihood that Arcane plays a build next expansion that does not offer it it's iconic defensive ability and this would also leave Arcane lacking heavily on defensive power. Additionally, there are a number of talents in the tree that are focused on defensive power but require 2-3 points and compete with a utility spell in some way or another and as a result you end up avoiding a lot of them. Compounded together, these issues leave me wondering if Arcane will end up being the weakest Mage spec defensively.
Overall, I think this tree was decently thought out for PvP but not as well for PvE, there are a lot of utility and defensive nodes that have some thoughtful choice making; however, the throughput options enforce extremely restrictive builds with how the tree is structured, particularly due to the 3-point node placements; I would love it if many of the 2 and 3-point talents were changed to 1 and 2-point talents and had more options spread out in a way that encouraged a bit more diversification. It is clear though that Arcane has gained quite a lot of utility and mobility options but perhaps lost out when it comes to defensives compared to Frost and Fire.
Below is a Class talent tree I put together for a build which is intended to be paired with the current Shadowlands meta of
. Note that
is used as one of the later spells in your
is primarily taken as a means to proc shatter outside of cooldowns, this would not work on bosses though; you would likely take
for raiding or
for Mythic + perhaps.
View on Dragonflight Talent Tree
Arcane Mage Dragonflight Spec Tree
Arcane Dragonflight Talents - What’s New?
The largest item in this category, and the one I am most excited for, is the rework of our primary cooldown spell,
into a giant nuke that then buffs us with increased damage and mana regen. Along with these changes the spell has been rebranded to
, from the small amount of alpha time I have spent using this it is extremely fun to use and actually feels like a cooldown that fits Arcane's theme much better. Another new addition is the choice talent underneath
, which contains the option of either
Making a return from Shadowlands are
. From other expansions prior to that,
is returning based on our Antorus set bonus,
from the Legion legendary. Lastly, there are the semi-new
which have appeared in many iterations of the game at this point.
Tuning will determine all things, but as it stands now it seems unlikely that many builds will be able to pass up the center part of the tree which contains our major cooldowns,
, and the covenant ability which added some much needed spice in Shadowlands, I am of course talking about
. Outside of this column in the talent tree there are a few notable powers that are strong but were inaccessible in previous iterations of talents or borrowed powers, this includes
, and being able to have both
There are also, however, some extremely weak talents, some of which are impossible to avoid. The biggest standout in this category is
which is actually a dps loss in many situations due to it preventing
from proccing. Preferably this would just get removed entirely as it no longer fits Arcane's kit unless we are just meant to have a /cancelaura macro in half our keybinds. The new
talent is unclear on how effective it will be at-a-glance, however some quick napkin math shows that it will likely be incredibly weak for a tier 3 talent that blocks one of our most satisfying spells to cast,
continues to appear in our talent tree despite it never being tuned or reworked to be a useful part of our toolkit, even if it somehow manages to be picked up and used, it is very disheartening to see it here, unchanged, again.
Currently we can choose either
, which adds a large int buff for fully channeling
, which reduces
's cooldown by half. Our second choice is
, which gives
an additional charge, or
, which causes you to fire off an
15 times. I would like to contextualize these effects a bit here, but first I want to draw attention to the fact that this is it, 2 choice nodes for Arcane Mages, for comparison: Frost has 4, Fire 5. We get 2, and they're hardly meaningful choices.
is, in my opinion, probably dead on arrival with the rest of Arcane's toolkit giving more than enough mana - it is my expectation that we will have
-less builds and that seems to be intentional based on the spell
being so low in the talent tree. I cannot think of a current situation where you would require this much mana, even in an infinite burn build that seeks to minimize any casting of
, you will still have a full mana bar for 12 seconds every 90 seconds from
and a mana refill from
for 6 seconds every 120 seconds; combine this with the Class talent tree capstones and running out of mana is no easy feat.
is probably the clear winner here and that is despite the fact that it is a 2-minute cooldown and our other cooldowns are 45-seconds and 1:30 respectively. Overall this choice is likely only going to be taken as a talent if nothing else is available after your build is complete and the sims favor it over other options. In a general sense,
at a baseline level should be a 1:30 cooldown, there's little reason to desync this by 30s when the end result is it being a 3-minute cooldown to match with every other
seem like particularly strong effects in PvE, however in PvP I believe
will be a welcome addition.
seems like a half-baked attempt to give Arcane some ranged AoE tool but the issue is that 15
will take an incredible long time to bear fruit, even more so if you're not just spamming
over and over.
has an additional concern in that the player has to keep an eye on the stack count for it as launching an
unexpectedly can reduce the value from
generation The other issue with this choice is that it is incredible deep in the tree for what it is and I do not think we will see this talent choice get much play in PvE at all.
View on Dragonflight Talent Tree
Arcane Mage Dragonflight Talent Tree - First Impressions
Overall, I am not happy with some things in the spec tree for Arcane. There are several over-arching issues with the tree's structure; there is an inherent lack of decision making, specifically with regards to utility, in how you construct builds due to how spread out the talent points are that are related to one another. There are several capstone and required talents that pose problems for the spec when it comes to function as well as fun. But it isn't all doom and gloom, there are some redeemable qualities, the playstyles people have enjoyed over the years seem to have some representation here, the
rework is amazing and solves many issues that the old
combo had, and many of the individual talent nodes are desirable in some build or another.
Contradiction Talents and Utility
To elaborate further on the problem of how talents are situated in the tree; many of the defining utility and damage talents directly require you to go through another talent which emphasizes a completely different area of gameplay to get them.
, a mobility tool that is designed around single target, requires that you go through
, an AoE talent, to get it.
, an okay AoE talent, is locked behind a talent that makes
stack, when using
itself prevents that from ever happening and as well as
, a potent AoE talent, is locked behind multiple single target talents.
Some other utility spells end up competing with throughput options, this creates a special problem for PvE content where throughput is almost always selected at a higher priority than utility.
, a mobility tool primarily used in AoE, is situated to compete with throughput options and thus never get picked up despite this being a core talent through most of the last 6 years. This is also true for
, which hasn't seen real gameplay since Warlords of Draenor.
Compounding the issue of utility spells being unavailable through intuitive talent selection, there is the issue that many of our throughput options are spread through the tree in such a way that taking them all leaves us with few points leftover to grab those wanted utility points. These conflicts all together lead to us ending up with significantly less utility that feels like something interacting with our spec toolkit and while we have gained
in the class tree for mobility, we have lost several Arcane-specific tools that have not been compensated for in the class tree. To expand on this, currently on live servers we have
on a talent row that competes with nothing useful, and we get a choice of
; with these new talents, we would get a choice from our class tree of
and a choice from a spec tree between
. Getting more requires a loss in throughput in some form or another.
is unavoidable as a talent in our first tier, but it is a damage loss in most situations.
How this talent made it in here I am not sure, it has negative synergy for us as mana is plentiful with how
works now and removing the mana cost makes it impossible to proc
. This effect really needs to be replaced with something new, entirely.
are incredibly uninspired talents and the functionality issues that have plagued
have not been resolved in 2 years. We have to use an add-on and a macro in order to delete our
and conjure a new one; the item does not refresh with new charges like
s do. This has been annoying to deal with at best for all of Shadowlands and the only saving grace for this talent is that it is in a position in the tree where we can completely ignore it's existence. Adding a buff to it with
only means that we will have to macro it to
, which also nullifies its incredible lackluster utility. I am not really sure how
made it's way into being a talent much less not just being pruned entirely - this spell is not fun and you could make
give it 30% power and people will use it and it will
still not be fun
. Either change this to be something interesting or just get rid of it.
needs to buff
as well to be an effective talent, in it's current place in the tree you have to take it as a purely single target talent that blocks access to one of our most powerful utility spells in any content,
. This would also be a welcome quality of life change, as accidentally consuming a
is painful and very easy to do.
also has a significant bug that has prevented anyone from wanting to use it for as a Shadowlands conduit for the past 2 years; when you queue a
, it will munch one charge of
and not buff the
The Worst of It
Lastly, I want to talk about fun and how important
is to Arcane Mages. While
is the spell that made Arcane a relevant powerhouse at times in Shadowlands (most notably in Sanctum of Domination and in Mists of Tirna Scythe/Spires of Ascension),
is what made the rotation overall enjoyable; there's more to do than just burst, the time in-between mattered. But more than just being relevant damage-wise, the time in-between felt good,
is possibly our most satisfying single cast spell and any Arcane Mage in the community would argue that this should be more-or-less a baseline ability. It being a capstone guarded by the lackluster, 2-point talent
is awful; I would argue there is no reason to gate
that far down into the tree, it makes the spec less fun and it's bad enough we still do not have
Arcane Mage Dragonflight Talents for Raiding - How Strong is It?
If I had to build a raid spec now, I would likely go with the Shadowlands favorite of Spark-Harmony build:
View on Dragonflight Talent Tree
This build would play exactly like live but with a couple of twists, with
available, we will opt to use that as our third
charge and use
queued to double dip on the final stack, this means that instead of our opener using
, we'll instead stack
to stack with and
cast. A big reason why I believe this will be the way to go is that
does not benefit from the
it drops so this ensures that we not only get an absolute massive
off but also our
should land inside of
. With this much cleave and funnel stuffed into a single window, Arcane should find a niche in some raids with this build anytime adds are near a priority target.
provides some faster pacing for every minute and
ensures that the most key spells in our burst window are covered for mobility.
Alternatively, you might swap
if tuning favors it more, and you can also sacrifice
if there is no reasonable execute opportunity. For utility you just take what you can use for the encounter, the choices are all pretty direct, the only oddity is that you can trade
but you also trade crit for haste doing so.
The biggest difference here between this and live is, unfortunately, as we discussed before; this build leaves
out of range to be attainable. However it is worth noting that the faster cd recharge provided by
could be quite the buff in some Mythic + situations as
provides quite a decent dose of AoE damage when combined with
. The utility trade off we're forced to make is also pretty unfavorable, we have had to forgo
. This leaves us being a lot less defensive and mobile overall, but gives us a large boost in utility over the live game.
I think Arcane has a long way to go, but the base ideas are definitely there and can be molded into something terrific, the biggest points of weakness are how inflexible talents are after you've got your necessary throughput due to how the tree is structured,
being inaccessible to many builds, and a few talents that do not really belong in our toolkit. Hopefully as Blizzard iterates on Arcane Mage we get something a bit more forgiving on what you need versus what you want.
Interested in playing Mage now? Check our out live guide for Arcane Mage!
Arcane Mage Guide
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