More thinking about arcane, this time from a PvP standpoint
I rambled about PvE arcane stuff at some point in the past, it was probably last week, though I can’t be sure. I suppose I could, if I went and checked, but what kind of freak reads their own blog? Isn’t that silly? It’s like recording yourself eating, then playing it back whenever you get hungry.
Arcane in PvP, then.
There’s been lots of hooting about how the whole damn tree is overpowered, similar to how monkeys scream obscenities at passersby, only occasionally quieting down to fling feces. Every now and then, a gigantic blue gorilla wanders in, and essentially tells all the screaming monkeys to evolve into something less screamy and poo flingy.
Has it worked?
So far this has resulted in shamans laughing in perverse glee as everyone else gets nerfed. So… sort of?
The poo flinging chimps evolved from screaming “NERF RET” to “NERF ARCANE” in a matter of days. While artificial selection did have a strong hand in this, the simple fact is that standard MMO evolution has resulted in an environment where a spec like arcane can not only flourish, but dominate.
As a tree, arcane has traditionally been host to the worst and best talents available to the entire mage class. This has always been true, and is looking to always be true.
As it currently stands, arcane is a tree that can be best described with soup.
Picture a soup. The ingredients are a potato flown in from [famous potato place], a broth carefully constructed over a period of 8 months by the worlds best soup chef, owl vomit, and some toenails from a dead hobo.
Arcane Blast, for instance, is an awful spell that needs “rebuilding from scratch” work to become good at anything. On the flip side, Arcane Barrage is one of the best spells in existence. It’s no “kill enemy instantly” spell, but it’s pretty damn close.
Arcane does not have many good spells and talents, but what few it does have, are absolutely excellent at PvP.
A powerful, instant cast spell on a very short cooldown.
A silence tied to the most powerful spell interrupt in the game.
At 80, will be able to have a flat 10% stun rate on all spells.
The ability to instantly cast an astronomically powerful spell every two minutes, without any warning.
Incredible resistance against any spell ability. 50% reduction to any harmful magic effect, coupled with the most powerful innate spell resistance ever seen. Oh, and of course, none of this is dispellable. While I’m at it, 30% dispel resistance.
The ability to instantly become invisible and leave combat.
A powerful snare that can be used from great range, is spammable, cheap, and is effective to use on any class, as it effects ranged attack and casting speed.
Add a 10 second total immunity, and it should be obvious why an otherwise garbage spec is ruthlessly efficient at PvP.
Comparing it to the other dominant mage PvP spec, frost, there are some very glaring differences that pop up quite quickly.
The difference has to do with predictability. Frost mages are very predictable beasts. They may be mages, and thus terrifyingly fast and efficient in their slaying, but they are predictable.
If somebody shows up at your door with a rifle slung over his shoulder and a pistol strapped to each hip, and tells you he’s going to kill you, you can lay pretty good odds you’ll die from acute lead poisoning. (Also known as “sieve syndrome”.)
Arcane is far more similar to the guy who shows up with a katana slung over his shoulder, a rabid dog strapped to one hip and a flare gun to the other, with his left leg clearly modified into a flamethrower. How, precisely, you’re going to die is up in the air at that point.
What I mean here is that you know when a frost mage is going to lay down some smack. If you see a water elemental appear, you can bet that something is going to get rooted and shattered in the very near future.
If you see someone suddenly turned into a block of ice, I can guarantee that there is a frost mage close by winding up for the kill.
If you see a warrior rush up to a mage and get rooted, you can expect to see that warrior in danger of some very serious hurt in the very near future.
This is partially because frost depends on its controlling cooldowns, like the WEs nova and Deep Freeze, to use its high damage talents and abilities. The other part is because people have been fighting frost mages for over a year now, they know what to expect by this point.
Arcane is new, shiny, and hasn’t really been experienced by anyone until very recently. Meaning that the vast majority of people have no idea what to expect.
In addition, arcane does not require any other cooldowns or variables to deal it’s damage. To be blunt, there is no warning on where, when, or how an arcane mage will attack.
Trinket/AP/PoM/Pyro has a very brief warning in the form of the spells cast time. That is the most warning there will ever be. A second, maybe a second and a half is all the time anyone is ever going to get to react. Arcane Barrage is much faster, and any other offensive spells an arcane mage uses will be instant and have zero travel time.
Again, with a frost mage, the damage can be predicted and proactive measures can be made against that mage. For instance, if you see a water elemental summoned, it can quickly be feared, frustrating the mages efforts to land a solid attack. Or, say, if a priest spotted the mage casting frosbolt on a teammate, he can quicjly drop a shield on said teammate and charge up a heal, knowing full well that a shatter combo is incoming.
Again on the flip side, you can’t really do that against an arcane mage. There isn’t an opportunity to proactively do anything, besides outright crowd control the mage in question.
To put it politely, the arcane tree seems designed specifically to dominate battlegrounds.
The spec performs best when in an open field in a chaotic environment. Sound familiar?
Sadly, it’s impossible to tell how arena will end up working at 80.
We know that Blizzard is going to be implementing large changes to arcane, specifically ABlast and ABarr. We know that the new end-tree talents are overpowered for our current level. The new 41 pointers were overpowered in the patch right before BC came out; it has been the same thing these past few weeks.
What is unknown at this point is how arcane will play out in the arenas. Arcane thrives in open spaces, and suffers in tight positions; similar to how hunters dominate the open playing field, but fall apart in claustrophobic terrain.
Guess we’ll just have to wait and see.
Season 5 isn’t far away.