Patch 3.1, so far, is trying very hard to restore the age of raiding where warlocks were superior to mages in every regard.
Let’s start broad. Blizzard adopted the philosophy of BTPNTC (bring the player, not the class) and spread around utility abilities to various classes. This way, a raid wouldn’t have to have a shadow priest for mana regen, they could bring a hunter or paladin (and now a mage or warlock) to get the same effect.
A truly excellent idea, that deserved far better execution than it got.
Right from the start. every buff any class brought should have been organized into three categories: absolutely necessary buffs that raids are balanced around, buffs good for min/max players, but won’t really harm the raid too much if they’re missing, and buffs that just have to remain unique.
The first category would contain Replenishment and nothing else. As it’s such an important buff that every mana using class is balanced around it’s presence, this buff should be spread around enough that at least half the classes can bring it. Not necessarily will bring it, but have the option to.
The last category would be for things like Bloodlust/Hero…
You know what, no. I’m calling it Bloodlust, because that’s what it is. All of you draenei usurpers can take your silly little Heroism and shove it. It’s called Bloodlust!
The last category would be for things like Bloodlust, in-combat resurrection, Health Stones, and all the other little class unique “flavour” abilities.
The middle category would be everything else. Everything from armor reduction buffs to additional spell damage and everything in between.
Sure, a raid won’t be as powerful if it’s missing a buff here and there. A mage won’t produce as much DPS as he could have if there was a moonkin nearby for the extra crit, but that mage won’t be completely crippled without it.
Once all these buffs are identified, spreading them around is the next step. And they should’ve been spread around in such a way that no class is left behind, utility wise.
Sadly, this is exactly what’s happened to mages.
The only unique buffs we have left are Amp/Damp magic, portals, and our strudel. (Focus Magic doesn’t really count, it isn’t a raid buff.)
Amp/Damp magic is nearly never used, and neither portals nor strudel actually require the mage to be present for any portion of the raid, merely at the very beginning and at the very end.
And even then, Hearthstone cooldowns are being halved and there’s food being introduced to the game that’s actually better than what a mage can offer.
Everything a mage brings that’s actually useful to an in-combat raid, a warlock brings too, and can do it better.
A mage can bring a 5% crit debuff in three casts of a terrible DPS spell, if he expends a glyph slot and three talent points to do so. A warlock can do the same in less time, if he expends five talent points to do so, and will deal superior DPS to the mage while doing it.
The only mage spec that can actually out DPS a warlock is arcane, and arcane doesn’t even bring the crit debuff.
Warlocks can even bring a ghetto version of AI, though honestly that doesn’t matter too much. AI has always been a weak buff.
Warlocks also have the option to bring a massive raid wide spellpower buff, provide the extra spell damage taken debuff, bring healthstones, soulstones, can spec for replenishment, and if that wasn’t enough, they can DPS infinitely thanks to Life Tap.
And why oh why do Health Stones and Mana Gems still share a cooldown?
Yes, this is all just QQ at it’s most basic level (see the blog title).
But still… it’s an alarming state of affairs.
Especially considering Ulduar stands a very good chance of killing arcane outright as a viable raiding spec.