Mage Class Concerns

Vaneras has requested feedback on the mage class. I've posted on the thread as well, but here's the short version: Inferiority Complex.

Oh, you wanted the long version? Quoting Wikipedia:

An inferiority complex, in the fields of psychology and psychoanalysis, is a feeling that one is inferior to others in some way. Such feelings can arise from an imagined or actual inferiority in the afflicted person. It is often subconscious, and is thought to drive afflicted individuals to overcompensate, resulting either in spectacular achievement or extreme antisocial behavior, or both. Unlike a normal feeling of inferiority, which can act as an incentive for achievement, an inferiority complex is an advanced state of discouragement, often resulting in a retreat from difficulties.
Overcompensation? Check. Extreme antisocial behavior? Check. Advanced state of discouragement? Check. Retreat from difficulties? Check.

Is it simply in our heads? Most of it, yes. But there are some real issues, some of which I listed on the feedback thread. Since the thread rules forbade me from discussing them at length or offering suggestions, I'll do it here. Since 95% of my non-RP playtime is either raiding or preparing to raid, I'll ignore 5-man PvE and PvP completely. Off we go then.
Provide a brief description of the areas you feel are most in need of improvement (you may list a maximum of three issues and each issue should be described in one or two sentences).
  • Itemization. With the change to Evocation, Spirit is even more useless than it was before, yet it's still very "expensive" to have on an item. This makes all items designed for mages objectively worse than the corresponding warlock items. Even if the differences in individual items are small, they do add up when you compare full sets of gear.
    To fix this, Spirit either needs to removed completely, made significantly cheaper or made worth having at the current cost. Cheaper Spirit would also benefit healers, who do have spell rotations which allow Spirit to work.
    Spell Peneration is an another "junk" stat. Although it's rarer than Spirit and can be useful on some Black Temple bosses.. most of the time it's useless. One way to make it more useful would be to re-introduce the concept of negative resistances. If your Spell Penetration reduces the resistances of your target below zero, he would take extra damage. This would make Spell Penetration useful in fights where the target has zero resistances, such as.. almost all of them.
  • Comparatively low DPS, in both single-target and AoE. Partially caused by poor itemization. Even with our top-of-the-line gear and min/max:ed talents, we get outdamaged by hybrids on single-target DPS and by warlocks on AoE DPS. I admit that while this can be more about individual skill, (lack of) class synergy and gear, the effect is still real and feeds the inferiority complex.
    But there are some issues that truly require Blizzard's attention, such as Seed of Corruption. The spell itself is pretty nice. A decent amount of AoE damage that doesn't require active targeting and can be chaincasted from a distance. The trouble is that Seed of Corruption scales with other AoE while mage spells do not. Any source of damage can trigger the Seed of Corruption, so if there are other sources of AoE damage present (such as mages), the Seed will detonate immediately for 1200 damage (non-crit, without spelldamage). No AoE spell in the game can compete with the Seed of Corruption in such a situation. Either the scaling needs to be removed or introduced into other spells.
    Single-target DPS inferiority can be divided into two subcategories: Melee and shadow priest + warlock. Melee should always do more DPS than mages because melee DPS is more hazardous than ranged, but the huge variety of melee buffs and procs tilts the favor heavily to melee. Melee classes benefit from increases to their base stats, while the +crit gained from Intellect is mostly neglible. Therefore paladin, shaman and druid buffs benefit melee much more than they benefit casters.
    The other side of the inferiority is shadow priests and warlocks. A competent warlock can already outdamage a mage, but a warlock coupled with a shadow priest can rack up numbers that mages can only dream about.
    Unfortunately, figuring out a way to fix this without introducing more imbalances is hard. Mages do need some classes to buddy up with. Elemental shamans and moonkins could be viable candidates, but the synergy needs to be reciprocal. Aside from Winter's Chill (which is only benefical to Frost Shock) and Fire Vulnerability (which is only useful to Flame Shock), there isn't that much that the mage can provide. The one common thing that these three classes do have is the need for spell crit. Elemental shamans have their totems and Moonkins have their aura, so mages would need something similar. Like a Winter's Chill that worked with all spells.
  • Mana economy. To try to keep up with other classes in DPS, mages need to sacrifice mana efficiency completely. The design philosophy behind mage tier 5 set and the whole Arcane tree is a perfect example. We need to literally burn much more mana (which we don't have) than other classes to do less damage than they do. The upcoming reusable mana gems will alleviate this somewhat, but don't remove the problem altogether. Mages would need a lot more intellect to wean their addiction to mana potions, and increased +spell crit from the intellect wouldn't hurt either. Add in additional scaling mechanisms as Master of Elements and 3-piece Spellfire set and we might have something viable there. To get that intellect the stat needs to be made cheaper, just like stamina was made cheaper for the Burning Crusade. Warlock gear would delegate those freed item points to stamina (which provides them a dual benefit), while mage gear would get much more intellect-heavy.

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