The Margarine Method
Spirit, at it’s core, is a stat meant for mana regeneration purposes. That’s all it does for mages, it’s what it does for priests of all kinds, it’s what it does for warlocks via Life Tap, it’s what it does for Resto druids. Even moonkin can get some regen from it, if they use Innervate on themselves, the selfish pricks.
What other mechanic do mages have that restores mana?
Master of Elements works very similar to how a Holy Paladin’s Illumination works. Whenever the caster crits, they get back a portion of whatever mana they spent. This has traditionally given Paladins extremely good efficiency.
An option is to do roughly the same thing for mages. Rather than having passive mana regeneration, via Mage Armor and friends, have all mage related mana regeneration based off of crits.
This can be as simple as copy pasting MoE’s effect into Arcane Meditation and Mage Armor.
Would 80% of the spells base mana cost being refunded every time it crits be overpowered? Sure, it probably is, considering current mechanics.
In the LK beta, one of the last changes made was to reduce the mana cost of nearly all mage spells. Why? Mages had mana issues.
If mage mechanics were changed to have superior mana regeneration, and sensical mana regeneration, then that change could be reverted.
The goal here is to try and make spirit useful to the mage class as a whole. If the cost of spells needs to be higher for spirit to be useful, so be it.
So much gear has spirit on it, and all it does for so many mages is eat up item budget that could be spent on, say, hit, haste, crit, intellect, or stamina.
If the mage class needs to be rebalanced around greater mana regeneration, so be it. At least the vast majority of cloth gear becomes useful again. As it stands, I look at the gear I can get out of Naxxramas, and there is only one item for almost every slot that I would consider an upgrade.
So much of the gear has spirit and mp5 that I simply cannot make any use of them.
This is only exacerbated by the fact that all of this spiritless gear is also considered best in slot by everyone else.
Anyways, where was I?
Spirit is for mana regeneration. So is Master of Elements.
Then, the logical option would be to have Spirit contribute directly to a MoE type of mechanic. Perhaps have spirit translate directly to critical strike rating as a basic mechanic of the mage class. Or all classes. Perhaps change MoE’s effect so that the mana it restores is 30% of base mana cost plus X amount of spirit.
Or combine this with any of the mechanics suggested so far.
With spirit translating directly into critical strike rating, add in activated mana regeneration components similar to how a shadow priests Improved Spirit Tap works.
That is, every time Mind Blast and Shadow Word: Death critically strike, they get 20% mana regen while casting.
A similar effect for mages could be whenever X spell crits, the mage gains a replenishment style buff to themselves to regenerate mana. This replenishment effect scales with spirit. This would need to be available to all trees, so it would need a component in Arcane, Fire, and Frost.
Going with what was stated above, maybe every time an off-nuke (like Scorch/Pyroblast for fire, and fireball for frost) crits this effect goes off. Or the main nuke for that tree. Or any spell, so long as it’s there and gives spirit a purpose.
I’d like to point this out. A spirit to spellpower conversion mechanic barely even qualifies as a band-aid. With the homogenization of caster gear, having something like that for classes that haven’t used spirit before seems to have become an unfortunate side effect.
Take warlocks. Having Life Tap scale with spirit is a good idea. It integrates spirit into a core mechanic of the class.
However, adding a spirit to spellpower conversion to Fel Armor is basically a “See? Spirit is useful!” band-aid change.
Lemme put it this way. I don’t want to see just a silly little token change like what happened with Fel Armor. It’s lazy, and in the long run doesn’t really solve anything.
It can be good in the short run, so long as an in-depth change is forthcoming in the near future.
For instance, “20% of spirit now translates into spellpower and 50% of spirit now translates into critical strike rating. We’re working on a more detailed way of integrating spirit in the mage class, stay tuned for updates” would be an excellent thing to hear.
It applies the spirit band-aid, so that spirit has a use in the meantime, until a more significant change can be created, balanced, and worked into the game.