If you only read one post related to patch 3.1, read this one. It’s short. I promise.
The chances are extremely low that any major changes will be happening now, only small tweaks here and there, if anything.
Water Elementals now have AoE avoidance, just like warlock/DK/hunter pets. In fact, patch 3.1 is offering AoE avoidance to every pet in the game.
Damage threshold of Fear and all fear effects (and Hex) greatly reduced, meaning that you won’t be chain-feared and blown up to hell and back at the same time. You might be chain-feared, or blown up to hell and back, just not at the same time.
Regeneration from Spirit nerfed, specifically by 40%. However, all flat mana regen talents/mechanics have been buffed to compensate. Realistically, mages won’t notice this change. No need to worry.
Molten Armor now scales with Spirit, and Glyph of Molten Armor adds even more. Molten Armor offers 35% of your Spirit as crit rating, and the glyph beefs that up to a further 55%.
You can expect to be gaining much more crit from Molten Armor than it offers now, as long as you have the spirit to do so. It wouldn’t be a stretch to see Molten Armor offering 10% crit or more for raid-buffed, Ulduar geared mages.
This doesn’t mean Spirit is a desirable stat, this means it isn’t a useless stat. By allowing a spirit to crit conversion, this closes the gap between mages with spirit and those without.
Improved Scorch and friends nerfed to 5% and offered to warlocks as well. This will hit other casters a little harder, as they have no way to make up for the crit loss. Mages can, thanks to our new scaling Molten Armor. Some mages may be able to drop the Imp. Scorch and Winter’s Chill talents altogether.
However, these talents have been buffed with a selfish aspect for the mage. Improved Scorch increases the critical strike chance of Scorch, Fireball, and Frostfire Bolt by 1/2/3%. Winter’s Chill does the same for Frostbolt.
In addition, Glyph of Improved Scorch allows a mage to apply all five stacks of the debuff in a single cast, rather than two.
Frost mages provide Replenishment. The Replenishment buff was spread around a little liberally, and frost mages can now provide their mana-hungry fellows with more than just strudel.
Living Bomb buffed, as it’s final explosion effect has been more than doubled. Used to be 306 base damage, Living Bomb now deals 690 base damage.
Arcane Blast stacks can no longer be dispelled. For anyone this was an issue for, rejoice. For anyone counting on being able to dispel an arcanist’s burst damage, despair.
Mirror Image… changed. There are several changes to Mirror Image.
One, they no longer cast Polymorph. This will solve a great many strange issues in both PvP and PvE. Mirror Images remain hopelessly incompetent, though they can’t be as damaging to your goals as before. Imagine taking a flamethrower away from a hyper-active child, but letting them keep the power tools.
Two, Mirror Image has it’s own glyph now, increasing the number of Mirror Images summoned to four. It is a major glyph, and as such will probably never be used by anyone.
Three, Mirror Image cannot be used while in a vehicle. Sadly.
Speaking of Glyphs, here are the new/edited ones:
*All of these glyphs are majors*
Glyph of Deep Freeze – Increases the range of Deep Freeze by 10 yards. A PvP oriented glyph that is sadly outdone by other, far superior PvP glyphs.
Glyph of Ice Armor – Buffed to increase the armor/resistance offered by ice armor by 50%. Might have some niche use for leveling mages.
Glyph of Ice Barrier – Increases the damage absorbed by Ice Barrier by 30%. Strong PvP oriented glyph.
Glyph of Ice Lance – Changed to allow Ice Lance to deal x4 damage to higher level targets. An interesting idea on Blizzard’s part to beef up frost PvE, but sadly doesn’t do enough. Will require the frost mage to give up DPS elsewhere, as they would need to ditch Glyph of Frostbolt, Molten Armor, or Water Elemental.
Glyph of Living Bomb – Allows Living Bomb ticks to crit. These miniature crits aren’t intended to interact with a great deal of talents and effects, such as Master of Elements and Combustion. It currently procs any “chance on crit” style trinkets. It is unclear whether this behaviour is intended.
Brief Spec Discussion.
Due to the increased length of encounters in Ulduar and their extremely unfriendly nature towards Evocation, Arcane (57/3/11) finds itself in an environment hostile to it’s play style. While, technically speaking, about even with FFB specs (0/53/18), it will rarely be given the opportunity to perform correctly.
Though the gap between frost specs (18/0/53) and fire specs is closer than last expansion, frost continues to lag behind.
Fireball based specs (20/51/0) are on top for damage, though hampered by being more mana intensive than FFB or frost specs. Fireball specs will need to use an Evocate if a fight drags on longer than 5 minutes, and will run into the same problem as arcane.
Frostfire Bolt specs are the strongest for very long fights.
I’ll be sticking with arcane for PvE content (57/3/11) for now. I highly doubt I’ll ever go to Ulduar. On the offchance I do end up raiding Ulduar, I’ll be rocking a Frostfire Bolt spec.
For PvP, it’s frost (20/0/51) all the way, baby! I miss me my shatter combos.