Level 90 Talents and Mage 'Quality of Life'

All three new level 90 talents have drastically reduced the joy of playing a Mage by increasing the number of annoying 'downtime casts' (aka 'chores') we must frequently perform, and they do so without adding any interesting gameplay mechanics or choices. Let me elaborate case-by-case:


  • Requires Evocating before every pull with very precise timing (which also burdens the rest of the raid). This is extremely frustrating.
  • Requires standing perfectly still and performing no other action for ~5 seconds every 40 seconds... during fights. Wow, that's a lot of downtime, and this is what I consider the definition of a 'downtime cast' -- casting a spell that only buffs us (so much so that it is a requirement), and especially such a cast that involves no interaction with the environment.

Sadly, this is actually the best choice for raiding based on the math and the restrictions on the other two talents. And yet it's such a huge annoyance, even before you've actually started fighting. Mages want to chuck spells, throw down cc, AE, and run around. Constantly Evocating is actively separating us from the fun parts of the class -- instead of looking forward to casting a spell, we are now going to dread casting these new spells... 'Oh no, another 40 seconds passed... time to recast Evo again. Sigh.'

Rune of Power

  • Requires standing perfectly still for an entire fight, in addition to needing a recast every 1 minute.

Remaining still was the initial mechanism for Hunter power, but Blizzard, seeing how unfun this would be, wisely changed Hunters to mana and eventually energy. Why is it ok now? Modern encounters are now dynamic and require constant moving... this isn't even BWL or MC anymore. This talent will be very situational, requiring no or low-movement fights. Boring.

Incanter's Ward

  • Requires taking a very specific amount of damage every 25 seconds.
  • Has such a short window of effect, that the Mage has to know that damage is going to occur before using the skill.

This is the exact opposite of how mages have been played since launch day. We are glass cannons, cc machines, kiters, etc. We are not supposed to stand in cleaves, fire, or let dots tic on us...
Somehow the talent that completely changing how Mages are supposed to behave is the least annoying, mostly because it provides some passive buffs. Sadly, it is very situational and most likely won't be able to compete with Invocation.

We need a major change...

The main argument that supports these talents is that they buff us... but obviously any better talent could buff us without ruining how Mages behave before and during encounters. Thus, the argument is a fallacy. These aren't actually buffs, they are now an expected part of our baseline.

Spell weaving was a great change for Mages because it involved us throwing out additional spells and reacting to procs and changes in the fight. These talents don't have any of that joy -- they take away from the class without adding anything.

I have raided every encounter of this game since launch, at the time of their relevance. This class has seen issues with DPS being too low, poor itemization, raid buffs, etc. But none of those problems, all of which have since been (mostly) overcome, entirely ruined the class. Yet the level 90 talents, which fool people with such large 'buffs', are on their way to make raiding on a Mage a huge burden on the player.
You left one of my biggest annoyances with Invocation out, which is casting a mana regen spell when you have no need for mana regen.

Remaining still was the initial mechanism for Hunter power, but Blizzard, seeing how unfun this would be, wisely changed Hunters to mana. Why is it ok now?

Excellent point.

09/28/2012 11:54 AMPosted by Greyhat
The main argument that supports these talents is that they buff us...

That argument is a fallacy. They allow us to do our expected damage.
While I do agree with you that the level 90 talents are terrible for "quality of life", and I also hate the talents in general, I don't agree with everything you are saying.

The talents are annoying as hell, yes, but I want to be sure you understand that Blizzard balanced our damage around imperfect uptime on each one, to varying degrees. This means that you can move out of your RoP multiple times during a fight (you will have to) and still should be able to pull similar numbers to other classes.

What will separate the great mages from the meh mages will be their uptime in RoP or with Invo.

I really hate the design of the level 90 talents though. They are huge hiccups in gameplay. Invocation is supposed to take about 5 seconds to cast, but it takes longer if there is ANY type of spell pushback since we no longer have 100% protection with buffs. With RoP it is INCREDIBLY frustrating when you are knocked out of it for some reason and have to recast it sometimes 4-5 times in a single fight simply due to random boss targeted abilities.
09/28/2012 12:04 PMPosted by Grizzlebees
That argument is a fallacy. They allow us to do our expected damage.

Thanks, I just couldn't think of the word. I'll add it to the initial post.
09/28/2012 12:05 PMPosted by Incendium
Invocation is supposed to take about 5 seconds to cast, but it takes longer if there is ANT type of spell pushback since we no longer have 100% protection with buffs.

Also, when you get interrupted right near the end of the cast, so you have to are going to have to channel it again 10 seconds later. (had that happen to me so many times during the Galleon fight yesterday due to impaling pull from the adds)
Agreed with everything here.

Pre 90, Frost was fun and not too difficult. Now I can barely play it in dungeons because of the level 90 talents.

I get nothing but restricted by the T6 talents when Arcane.

Haven't tried Fire yet at 90, but I'm sure it's just as boring.
I agree that RoP and Invocation are bad, but I don't think they necessarily need to be thrown out. There are many different quality of life changes that could be made to make them plenty workable, and as for Incanter's Ward I think the idea of the talent is more or less fine, and it's understandable if it is rarely used because of the way it's designed.
TLDR:My position can be summed up with two questions.

"Could you do competitive damage in firelands with the level 90 talents?"


"Would you enjoy doing firelands with the level 90 talents?"

Full post:
I cannot agree more with the opening poster, and hope that every mage that sees this will be requesting the sticky. The level 90 talents simply make playing my mage un-fun. What is more, the current design philosophy runs counter to everything I enjoy about playing my mage.

Lhivera picked up on something very important the devs said. This is a quote from the hunter discussions in beta linked here:


There are two important parts to this discussion. The first is this quote:
08/25/2012 02:55 PMPosted by Ghostcrawler
Movement should be terrible for a ranged spec. Full stop. All of the various mechanics we put in from Spiritwalker's Grace to Aspect of the Fox are to make moving less terrible, but it should still be pretty terrible. (And if you think there are specs not penalized enough by moving, please let us know, though probably not in this thread. We felt that ranged movement got a bid out of control in Cataclysm so we've definitely made an attempt to scale it back.) If it helps, imagine Hawk and Fox as talents. You can have higher damage, or you can cast your focus-generating shots on the move. Which do you want? It probably depends. Try them both out and see which gives you more success. (And at the end of the day, they aren't talents, so if you really can't bear the thought of making an exclusive choice, you can switch it. Just not for free.)

The changes made to hunters were so bad that they were reverted. Mages got stuck.

On a personal note:
I have been playing this game since ~ june of 04. Back then I had a paladin. I loved the class, and played it quite a bit. Running up to the launch of the game in november of 2004, I was ready to go. I knew which zones I was going to do on him, I knew which quests, I had people who knew how to help me get my verigran's fist, and I was excited.

Just before the game launched, Blizzard gutted the class, and reintroduced it. I rolled a paladin anyway and began leveling thinking that it would be ok, and that it was not nearly as bad as I thought it would be. I was wrong. I made it to level 51, rolled a priest and never looked back. He is still 51, and still in the bank in IF where I left him.

I rolled this character somewhere around november of 2005, and have played her quite a lot since then, and am reminded of another episode in blizzard history. A while back, blizzard decided that it was a good idea to put counter spell on the GCD.

It forced mages into the logic loop of: I have to cast to do enough damage to force and interrupt. If I cast, I cannot have my GCD ready in order to interrupt. The counter spell changes put mages in a no win situation. The fallout was horrendous, and eventually blizzard was forced to not only revert the changes, but put ALL interrupts off the GCD.

Blizzard just did the same things again to this class. I rolled a mage to do competitive damage with high mobile. After playing all 3 specs with different combinations of invocation and ROP, I have come to the conclusion that the class is just not fun to play when the amount of planning I have to do for each encounter is significantly higher than any other class.

At first I was not too bothered by the changes. While questing I could drop a rune, or evocate and do great damage. Once I started doing heroics things got harder, and I struggled to keep up with groups. Last night, I got to thinking, "what will it be like raiding with these talents?" Immediately firelands poped into my head and I was horrified.

After the initial shock of that horrible thought, I began to try and rationalize my position, but quickly came to the conclusion that it simply would not be possible. My guild did a good number of attempts on heroic ragnaros, but never got him down, and reflecting on that experience in light of the new talents, I know that I would have had to bench myself due to uncompetitive damage.

Here is the root of the problem:
Raid encounters and pvp are made more challenging largely by increasing movement. Blizzard wants mages to only do competitive damage while not moving. Once again, it puts mages in a no win situation. We have to move to stay alive and do our job during a raid encounter. Our level 90 talents force us not to move in order to do competitive damage. Once again, we have a no win situation.

As a result ... I will be quitting my mage in the short term. Unless something drastically changes, this is not the class that I love any more, and the only thing that screwed it up are the level 90 talents.
Agreed Entropy, in every way.

I hate it when people cherry pick out that one particular quote, it wasn't even made in relation to Mage complaints, it was addressing Hunter's problems with GCD and Aspect swapping.

And like you said, GC went BACK on his comments and actually reversed the Hunter change to make it easier on their mobility. So people need to really stop using that quote as something meaningful, since it's out of context and completely disingenuous to present it as a dev stance on the Mage talents.
Agree with OP. Well said.

I would only add an example: I have been killing some rare mobs and they all require a lot of movement making the mage lvl 90 talent totally useless. As a result the damage is not enough to take the target down and mana regen is not possible.
Please click "request sticky".
As a result ... I will be quitting my mage in the short term. Unless something drastically changes, this is not the class that I love any more, and the only thing that screwed it up are the level 90 talents.

Completely agree. Dusting off my Elemental Shaman I haven't touched since end of Wrath. Elemental Shamans feel more like Fire Mages than Fire Mages do.
While I understand Blizzard's intent to make mages less mobile, I cannot help but feel that these talents simply aren't fun. They're a chore to maintain, especially on trash pulls & when questing.

I'm sure there are ways Blizzard could redesign these to be less intrusive, while, at the same time, still requiring us to be less mobile. Say make rune of power instant cast or have it last twice as long? Or how about making the evocation buff last longer while increasing the cast time?

To be clear, this isn't another 'QQ mages are broken, I hate these talents, please remove them or I'm quitting the game or changing my class' replies, I just wanted to reiterate the OP's intent that these level 90 talents are 'quality of life' issues. It is just not fun to maintain these buffs.
Well, I didnt like the level 90 talents also. As you can see, I am not a level 90 yes(I dont have mop yet, I am hoping to get it tomorrow!), so I didnt test them. But as soon as I saw the talents, I disliked them. I played a mage for some time, but always as a alt. I never liked the mechanics enough to make this class my main, although I always loved the archetype.

Anyway, when we got the new patch I naturally wanted to see what changed on my characters, so I could pick one to be my main on mop. The first thing I saw were the talents, and I really disliked the tier 90 talents. Immediatly I thought "Well, I wont be playing a mage on MoP". Yet, I decided to try the rotations and playstile. I ran some cata heroics and... wow, I got really surprised how much I liked it! Blizzard did a great job with the mage class for mop, they have my compliments. I loved all the 3 specs, something that never happened for me with any class. I started to think "Hei, for the first time this guy is a strong candidate to be my main on mop. But those talents, oh, those talents..."

Now I am planing to play my mage until the level cap to see if I can stand the 90 talents or not. I didnt test them, so I will make this post considering what I think and what I read about them.

Right now you dont have to be a genious to see how bad these talents are. People are choosing the one that annoys them the least, and that says for itself. I would like to comment on each talent and suggest some changes that could make thing a little better. First I will give my very personal opinion, them I will try to be more objective on my analysis and suggestions.

So, my personal opinion: I think these talents are so bad that if I could, I wouldn't choose among them. I would play with only 5 talents instead of 6. If feels like blizzard looked to mages and said: "hei, guys, you look so happy! Let us screw you a little bit. But dont panic: we will give you three options and let you decide how you want to be screwed".

Now, to the objective part. The first problem I and most people see is that the "buffs" are not actually buffs, but something you have to have all the time in order to be competitive. They are too meaningful: 25%, 15% and up to 30% damage increased. Of course you want to have this as much as you can! So, my first suggestion is to drastically reduce them. That way, they would feel less mandatory than now. They would feel like buffs or bonuses instead of feeling like a huge part of our dps. Of course that would demand rebalancing the mage's damage so that it doesnt fall behind the other classes, but I really believe there no easy way out of the place we are right now.

Let me be more specific to each talent:

Invocation: the main quality of life problem with this talents is the downtime, but it is not the only one. Besides the downtime, there is the fact that you must cast evocation before every pull (since its buff is too strong) and during the boss fights even if your mana bar is full. That is ridiculous. So, there are some possibilities to be explored to solve these problems.

- Downtime: No one likes downtime. People like to beat monsters ou at least hold them with cc, people like action. No one wants to have to recast evocation for 5 seconds each 40 seconds. This seens to be hard to solve. To give the buff right when you start casting the evocation would make the talent as stupid as it is now, since people would just start and interrupt the cast right away. It cant stay the way it is now too. Maybe to make it proportional to how much of the evocation the caster concluded? If I was a developer I would try to explore this line.

- Casting before the pulls: if the buff was drastically reduced as I suggested, there would be no need of casting before the pulls.

- Casting even when your mana bar is full: I really have no clue for that one. Reducing the buff could help, but I think it would not be enough. Maybe someone has a good idea for this one.

Rune of power: the big problem with RoP is extremely punishing to movement. It makes you to stand still and that is not what people like to do. People like movement, movement is what makes encounters fun. I am sure movement should be a bad thing to ranged classes, but it doesnt have to be bad. With RoP, you lose 15% damage (as I said, it doesn't feel like a buff, it feels like something you must have all the time) for not being on the rune (that has yet to sum up with the damage you will lose because the movement affects your rotation). And making everything worse, there is the cast time. The fact you can place 2 runes at once seems like a way to make moviment easier, since you could move from one rune to another. But it doesnt, since you would have to cast it anyway.

Some possible solutions (if applied together):

- reduce the strenght of the buff: I am being really repetitive with this, but only because I think it really must be done. By reducing the strenght of the buff and rebalancing the mage's damage, it would make it feel way less frustrating to move.

- Make it a instant cast: you would still lose a gcd.

- Maybe it would be necessary to make the cooldown of RoP longer so that people would still try to avoid movement that would take them out of RoP all the time.

The main idea is to make people to try to avoid movement, but not so much that it becomes frustrating when you just cant avoid it. It is okay to punish players for making unnecessary movement. It is not when the movement is needed.

Incanter's ward: the least annoying, in my opinion. But even Incanter's ward still have a serious problem: it makes you play as you shouldn't. A big part of being a dps is to also avoid damage, so you still alive and dont make your healer run out of mana. Years of World of Warcraft have teached us: you must get out of the fire. This talent tells you the opposite: "!@#$ it, get on the fire now, go go go!". That is not cool. It will make the player constantly run into risks that wouldn't be necessary otherwise and it will probably create problems with mages and somes healers.

Possible solution: right now, Incanter's ward gives you a "buff" for playing as you shouldn't. So I ask... why do not make it exactly the opposite? Right now, the most damage you take, the most strong your buff will be, thus you become a kamikase. What if it was changed so that the less damage you take, the most strong is your buff? That way, you would get a prize for getting out of damage, exactly as you should. And the better you do it, the better your prize! However, this would only work if the strenght of debuff was recuded compared to now, so it wouldn't be worth just stopping dps to avoid damage and get the maximum buff (you have to avoid damage, but you have to do it while you do damage, otherwise your dps will get lower)

I am not sure if any of these suggestions are good, but I think some of them could help a little. I guess there is no chance of blizzard just removing the talents, so the best thing we could do is to think of ways to fix them. Also, I am looking forward to see a word from a blue poster about these talents, since they play a big role on our playstyle and there are a lot of people unsatisfied with them.

I am also sorry for any grammatical errors. English is not my mother language and I still learning it.
give mages plater armor and a bubble we can be immune to everything and self heal if u wanted to stop our movement. were clothies idiot.
Just as a precursor, I'm full heroic geared, and have run NUMEROUS dungeons.

But anyway, yep. Couldn't agree more. I'll be honest, I didn't really look much at the level 90 talents until I actually hit 90. Once I did and actually read... I was thinking... oh... these kind of suck.

Nevertheless, I decided to give them all a shot. I have tried all three, and all three have their niches and I can make them work. I do NOT however like them. At all.

As said above, the most DPS is from Invocation. I have tried all three on various fights, and switching between frost and fire. I've run NUMEROUS dungeons and the only one that keeps my damage the highest is Invocation. Because my gear is decked out currently, I've actually been running with Incanter's Ward for the passive unless I'm competing against guildies in DPS, then its back to Invocation.

Problem is, again, as stated above, is the fact that every 40 seconds I have stand still for ~5 seconds. Interrupted? Gripped? Silenced? Gotta do it again. It is annoying. ESPECIALLY as fire. As fire, I have so much mobility (and somewhat as frost if the proc's get rolling) that I have to actually stop and twiddle my thumbs until it finishes.

The same thing with Rune of Power. I have to stop moving COMPLETELY in order to get any benefit. The class begs for movement. It entices it with all the proc's and instant casts! So why on earth are we pegged to a spot for fights?

The one thing that scares me the most is that our class is balanced around those talents, which I have no doubt they are (doesn't make sense otherwise). So for raids and dungeons, I will continue to cast cast Invocation and continue to be annoyed. Or I'll level one of my other classes, which is most likely.

It's a shame too, because I was really enjoying my mage at 85 before MoP came out.
Then I hit 90.
Then I got sad.

I think it is the first time in the history of the game that a talent exists to not add something new to a class, but rather to reduce the abilities of a class, to take away the mobility.

The obvious choice is to just take Incanter's Ward. but why should I have to take damage in order to deal damage? Doesn't that sound like something a warlock, shadowpriest or warrior should have, rather than a mage who studies spells and reads tomes all day?

The problem isn't DPS numbers, we are fine, most likely #1 in the game.

It is just bizarre design. I hate the talents, I've dediced to start playing my warrior. My mage upsets me so much, i don't want to hate logging in.
I think it is the first time in the history of the game that a talent exists to not add someone new to a class, but rather to reduce the abilities of a class, to take away the mobility.

The obvious choice is to just take Incanter's Ward. but why should I have to take damage in order to deal damage? Doesn't that sound like something a warlock, shadowpriest or warrior should have, rather than a mage who studies spells and reads tomes all day?

The problem isn't DPS numbers, we are fine, most likely #1 in the game.

It is just bizarre design. I hate the talents, I've dediced to start playing my warrior. My mage upsets me so much, i don't want to hate logging in.

bcuz if u hate logging in, people will STOP logging in permanently
Had some ideas that I thought I'd share and see what people thought. I'd like to preface this post with the fact that I'm a primarily PvE player and haven't really considered PvP ramifications in my suggestions. That said;


If it would be possible, perhaps make the duration of the buff gained proportional to how long evocation is actually cast for. That way if sudden movement is required, you aren't basically stuffed for the next 15 odd seconds.

Make the full cast time evocation grant the buff for longer. As fire/frost with not much haste, i'm at around 60-70% mana when I have to cast evocation to renew my buff. Even though Evocation only has a short cooldown, a large part of the mana regeneration it grants is wasted. Even at a higher cast per minute rate, this number will probably only go up due to the regeneration scaling we gain from haste.

Rune of Power

This is the 90 ability i've used the most. It's honestly not too bad for the most part. However, we're yet to see live raid content, and movement is a huge part of any raid encounter. Any movement is going to really hurt. I understand that we're not meant to be super mobile, but it's disconcerting how badly we're going to be penalized for moving under this regime.

I suggest making the rune itself larger, so that we're able to move more freely within it, while maintaining our dps buff. This allows us to not have to recast a new rune somewhere else, and makes us able to avoid the plethora of nasty things we're sure to face in weeks to come.

Allowing the runes to be instant cast, or cast while moving without Ice flows could also help, that way when we're actually moving we can re-place the rune where we need to. This would add some needed complexity to what have become fairly simple rotations in frost and fire.

Making the damage buff within the rune greater could be beneficial. If we're meant to be so mobile on a fight to keep alive, then we should be rewarded when we're in a position to sit and dps. I like this idea the least however, as having so much of our dps dependent on this one talent is not a healthy thing for us.

Incanter's Ward

I've admittedly used Incanter's ward the least. I feel like this will bring back mages wanting to soak raid damage to keep the buff uptime as high as possible (flashing back to blood queen and Power Word: shield). This is fair enough, but isn't always safe game play for a raider.

My only suggestion for this talent is to increase the duration, mana regen and cooldown (perhaps decrease the damage bonus while active to keep it balanced) of the ability so that damage doesn't have to be absorbed as frequently to keep maximum uptime of the ability, which I imagine most mages using this ability will try to do anyway.

From experience I've had in dungeons, which themselves have a fair amount of movement on most bosses, these talents are going to make life very difficult for us this expansion. I can only imagine the raids are going to involve as much movement, most likely more, and feel that the rune of power talent will be the least used of all 3 on heroic bosses.

Incanter's Ward I feel is the best of these abilities for heroic raiders at the moment, as most fights have predictable raid damage that the mage can take advantage of, and this ability requires the least effort to utilize. Invocation definately has it's place, but I feel it's going to be a tedious exercise for any raider.

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