There's a new post over at WoW Insider called "How to fix Mages". To summarize, the author asks for more DPS.
There's around 130 comments on that post, so obviously this is something the community cares about. Skimming through them, I've seen comments both for and against the argument that mages need buffing, both by mages and non-mages.
Well since this blog is called Arcane Blaster I really should post my thoughts, even if I am more of an altoholic these days then a proper mage :)
First of all, there are several logical holes in the author's points. I'll list the points here and give my personal opinions below:
- There's no mention of PvP at all. Given that PvP is a big part of WoW for many players, if not the main, this is a glaring omission. Saying "but this post is about mages in PvE" just doesn't cut it, since it is well known Blizzard balances classes as much for PvP as for PvE. Therefore any discussion of mage shortcomings in PvE must consider also how they do in PvP in parallel or risk being irrelevant.
- There's no mention of where/how mages are not the top DPS. Is it when soloing? 5-man instances? 10-man raids? 25-man raids? SWP only? The author makes a claim but it is too general, leaving it up to the readers to guess what exactly it is that he is saying. Of course, different people guess differently, based on their experience/knowledge. Some are saying mages only become underdogs in SWP, others claim we are fine, yet others are saying we under-perform even in Kara. Without clarifying exactly what his means, the author's rant becomes too general and therefore less effective (unless you believe mages are broken everywhere).
- The author claims mages are broken because we can be replaced by other classes and these classes will do our job better - so obviously he's referring to raids. Yet he fails to specify exactly what these roles are and as for the top-DPS role, the author makes the extreme claim that "no less than 5 other classes" can best us at "the highest levels of the game as it currently stands".
Regarding point (1) above: I don't PvP much personally but PvP/Arena is a big part of WoW for many players. It is well known that Frost Mages do well in Arena. In fact, in the 3v3 Arena, a combo of Rogue/Mage/Priest won the Korea World Wide Invitational 3v3 tournament. Oh, do you know what the team name was? "Council of Mages" :) As for Arena in general, I don't know how well mages do in comparison to other classes, but at least in 3v3 and 5v5 the latest Armory analysis seems to show that mages are gaining. So, don't talk about "mages are broken". Say instead, "mages are broken in PvE", if you must!
Regarding point (2) above:
- Mages are fun. Like the author, I too have played a mage in WoW for 3 years (with small breaks here and there for me). I too love the class and enjoy blasting mobs. so do many (most) other mages. Therefore, unless we have serious trouble with soloing, we are not broken- for soloing.
- Are we broken for 5-man instances? Hardly. First of all, food/water is important and a mage's table is a very welcome sight for most 5-mans. Secondly, sheep is one of the best CC spells/abilities, arguably the best. Sap is a one-time shot; Once it breaks, you have a loose mob. Banish is repeatable but the warlock must wait till the banish full duration is over, and the mob breaks free, before he is able to re-apply it; The results can be... messy. In addition there are simply less banishable mobs in instances compared to sheepable ones. A hunter's Freezing Trap is a nice thing.. until it is resisted or for some reason broken, at which point the hunter's ability is usually on CD and you have a free and angry mob next to you. Shadow Priests have Mind Control, but this has severe range limitations and can often result in the death of the priest when the MC duration is over due to the astronomical amount of threat it generates. They also have shackle for undead; This too is less useful compared to sheep, due to a lack of undead mobs compared to humanoids/beasts. Boomkins have Cyclone, with obvious limitations. DPS Warriors and Shamans have no CC. To sum things up, currently, mages have the best form of CC. Will things be different in WotLK? Yes. But that is in the future and I believe the author was trying to imply mages are broken now...
- In addition to the best/most-widely-usable CC ability of any DPS class, mages also have the ability to remove curses, i.e. "decurse". Of all DPS classes, only Moonkin have this ability and Moonkin hardly compete with mages when it comes to DPS.
- Are we broken for raids? In blog after blog, forum post after forum post, WWS log after WWS log, I've gotten the same picture. Mages in SWP raids are doing lower DPS than other DPS classes. But he's the point - it is only there, and at the last few bosses of BT, that you see such a problem. To claim the entire mage class is broken because we don't live up to our top DPS role in content that is seen by less than 5% of the entire player population is just silly. Yes, those mages have a problem and that needs to be addressed. But in the words of the movie, for the vast majority of mages, the correct response should be "frankly my dear, I don't give a damn" :)
Regarding point (3) above, if you're going to make extreme claims, at least provide some evidance of your words. 5 other classes can do more DPS? I've never seen anyone else claim that.
Raid survivability? With the changes to Ice Block making it trainable by all specs, claiming that mages lack survivability is ridiculous at best. Agro? T5 mages have the highest DPS/agro potential of any class, bar none. And while we lack the agro-dumping abilities of rogues, hunters and to a lesser extent warlocks and cat druids, we're still way better off than Shadow Priests, Moonkin Druids and DPS warriors and Shamans. Furthermore, while Invisibility is not ideal and frequently can be broken in mid-cast, it is there to be used, and when it works it's a 100% agro dump.
In all honesty, I don't think anyone but Blizzard can claim to know whether a class is actually doing well with regards to it's DPS. Everyone knows that Shadow Priests have low DPS (but very high utility), but are mages really inferior to warlocks? or rogues? Have you compared their gear? Raid makeup? Party makeup? Is the encounter tuned for more melee or ranged DPS? static or dynamic? There's almost no end to the variables that affect a person's DPS and many are highly personal, dynamic or situational. To make a sweeping statement that mages, as a class, are broken, is just mistaken IMHO.