I am, by far, not the first person to come up with this idea.
I could go into a long explanation, but why bother? Y’all aren’t incompetent idiots, and I’m sure by now all of you are familiar with hybrids and their varying sets of gear.
Why are the hybrids the only ones with different tier sets?
For now, let us simply divide the mage class into two groups, the crit specs and the haste specs. The crit specs being fireball and frostfire, the haste specs being arcane and frost, of course.
Bear with me.
Of the crit specs, frostfire is the more extreme of the two, valuing crit significantly higher than haste, where fireball deeply loves it some crit, but likes haste just fine.
Of the haste specs, frost is the more extreme. Arcane has had a long and fulfilling relationship with haste, but doesn’t mind a fling here and there with crit. Frost, by comparison, can’t even look at crit anymore without bursting into tears.
It goes without saying that designing tier sets for these vastly differing specs would be impossible if one were to try and get one set to service them all.
To make frost mages happy, crit would be as close to non-existent as possible, but try and pull that on a fire mage and you’ll give the poor guy an ulcer.
Way I see it, there are two solutions to this particular little issue.
The first is to homogenize the different trees as much as possible so they all desire the same stats equally, or at least close enough so that we can say stuff like “haste is a little subpar” rather than “haste sucks”.
This can be easily done by simply tweaking talent tree numbers. Giving arcane a higher crit modifier, giving frost the same, and so on.
Naturally, I don’t like this option very much. What, pray tell, is so bad about having differing specs feel unique?
Outsiders look at the mage class, and the only difference between the trees they see what colour our main nuke is.
Now, we all know this is flat out wrong, horrifically so. That would be like saying the only difference between arms and fury warriors is that the first only uses one weapon, or the only difference between prot warriors and paladins is that the latter is shinier.
By homogenizing the stats into equivalent desirability, we would essentially be making all the trees the same. Arcane would be exactly like fire, only purple.
Does anybody actually want that?
If you said “yes”, get the hell out. Rerolled combat rogues aren’t allowed here.
Oh yeah, and giving arcane/fire higher crit modifiers would, of course, result in both being grossly overpowered for PvP. So there’s always that.
No, I think, the better option is to encourage stat disparity.
Rather than try to make the mage tier set apealing to all specs, why not just make two (or more) tier sets?
Putting in, say, a bunch of new loot specific to the different trees is the wrong idea. The player base does not need or want “spellpower plate” under a different name.
Nor do we need it. There’s already plenty of cloth loot around to satisfy the needs of any mage.
All I’m asking for is that our tier loot be adjusted. The “off tier” stuff, like boots and bracers, can be left alone. When a mage wins or buys a tier token, they head to the Threads of Fate, and then they can choose whether they want to buy the fire, frost, or arcane tier set.
“But what about bosses like Emalon?”
Easy. Don’t drop the pants, drop the mage pants tier token. Not the Mage/Death Knight/Druid/Rogue piece, but a mage specific token. I highly doubt that is particularly difficult to program.
Naturally, of course, the differing tier sets would have completely different set bonuses.
Something… oh, I dunno… useful?
Picture a teenager. He is young, impressionable, and undoubtedly emo. He threatens to kill himself if his dad doesn’t buy him the new iPod. His dad then hands him a noose.
This is what the Tier 9 set bonuses are like to the arcane and frost tree.
More crit, followed by more crit?
Oh, Blizzard, you shouldn’t have.
No really, you shouldn’t have.
What the flaming carp were you thinking?!
How about something actually moderately useful?
Your Mage Armor spell now converts 50% of your spirit into haste.
Casting Arcane Blast has a chance to grant you 600 haste for 10 seconds.
Your Ice Lance spell no longer triggers the global cooldown if cast while under the effect of Fingers of Frost.
Your Ice Lance critical strikes grant you 250 spellpower for 20 seconds.
Your Fingers of Frost ability now has three charges.
Arcane Blast now has a 100% chance to proc the Missile Barrage effect if cast while under the effects of Arcane Power or Presence of Mind.
When your Water Elemental critically strikes, you are granted 600 haste for 10 seconds.
You know, anything that non-fire mages can actually refer to as a bonus. Something besides more crit we don’t need or want.