Monday, October 6, 2008

Frost Mage Tears Make Delicous Popsicles



A wise Frost mage once told me, "When life hands you lemons, summon lemonade elementals."

Ok, well, I thought of that saying, and right now, I'm in the mood to change my blog description to that very saying. This is a Frost mage blog first and foremost, with stuff on Frost death knights soon to come when the expansion hits. So while we wait for those good ol' DK's to arrive at my doorstep, I only have things to say about the Frost mage class.

I love my class. I love everything about them. I love the spec even more. The sheer control over your enemies. The cold heartedness of your temperment when staring down against another enemy in player versus player combat. The companionship of your own summoned elemental. Just don't target the wrong monster in kara when sending him out to attack, like I did a few weeks ago.

I love the state of the frost mage as it is now, and how it look to be when the expansion hits.

But when I see another mage dislike things about his or her class, it kills me inside. My heart simply goes out to them, because as soon as their feelings are made public, the whole world screams "QQ MORE, WHINY ASS MAGE!"

I feel bad for Christian Belt. He's a fantastic writer, and the contributions that he has made to WI are surely important. His passion for the game and for mages is surreal, and I only hope to emulate it. But because of his status as a mainstream-equivalent mage blogger, he's prone to criticism, and this post is no different.

To summarize a recent post he made regarding the state of the 51-point talent, Deep Freeze, he states that the talent is simply useless and broken, and the dev team at Blizzard need to do something to bring it back to respectability. Well, it was something like that. Let me highlight a few points that he has made, and discuss from a cryophile's viewpoint and make opinions on the subject.

"Let me preface this by saying that if you are one of the many who label anything written by a Mage that isn't full of sunshine and candy canes as complaining, crying, or QQ, you may want to just stop reading right now. Thanks for coming, post your "UR TEARZ R DELICIOUS" nonsense in the comments section, and then go back to tea-bagging your kills on Halo or whatever. This column is not for you."

This is a valid preface and warning to those who like to make stereotypes of QQ'ing mages everywhere. The thing that irks me is that the way it was written only encourages said trolls to continue reading and further justify said stereotype. Remember that bully in elementary school that always made fun of your braces? He only did it because you were self-conscious of your braces. He knew you'd cry about it, so he'd keep doing it for kicks. Christian, never do this again, or else you're just asking for it.

"In PvE, though, Deep Freeze is no longer even worth spending points on. It affords no tangible DPS increase, isn't usable on bosses at all due to stun-immunities, and even if it was, wouldn't be worth the mana cost and global cooldown simply to apply an extra five seconds of frozen status."

Simply correct. As of the current beta build, Deep Freeze does not have any damage component, thus rendering it useless. But, Deep Freeze was never even worth using in spell rotations. The author was under the assumption that the Fingers of Frost proc applied to spells cast within a certain time limit, hence utilizing Deep Freeze's instant cast over the inferior Ice Lance. But now that FoF creates charges that are spent when casting the next two spells, fitting in frostbolts for the two charges means that Deep Freeze wouldn't be used anyways!

Does the absence of DF in rotations mean that Frost mages or no longer PvE viable? Not exactly. From day one, this looked to me like a PvP talent to the bone, and it only makes sense that the PvP class gets another PvP tool. I'm not an expert on PvP, but an instant cast spell that causes a stun seems pretty neat, even if it does have the requirement of having the target frozen first.

Talent-wise, this only means I get to spend this point on something more worthwhile, maybe in another tree. Investing all the way to Focus Magic becomes much easier to do, but the buzz in the mage beta community seem to suggest that FM isn't as great as it looks. Either way, it's miles better than DF, and the clearcasting talent that you get along the way is a reliable way to save mana in the new cost-heavy environment.

"At the heart of the issue is Blizzard's design philosophy for 51 point talents. Looking at the 51 point talents for other classes, they share a common theme. For healing specs, they increase healing by substantial amounts. For DPS and tanking specs, they almost universally increase damage output."

In simplicity, isn't that actually a no-brainer? Spells are meant to provide damage/helaing or have some sort of utility. But again, Christian is under the assumption that there is a precise correlation between talent tier and raid/pvp performance enhancement. But looking at talent trees as a whole across the different classes, a lot of specs have their most important 1-point talents in the 31 and 41 point tiers, the ones that really define their role in a PvE or PvP setting. (note: When I mention PvE, I also mean both 5-man as well as raid instances)

At 31 points, there's Moonkin Form, Trueshot Aura, Shadowform, Soul Link (PvP), Leader of the Pack and a few others. At 41 points, there's Circle of Healing, Avenger's Shield, Vampiric Touch, Shadowstep (PvP), Tree of Life, Mortal Strike (PvP), and most relevant of all, Water Elemental.

I am of the opinion that Water Elemental is the most important source of a Frost Mage's damage in PvE, and is a significant presence in PvP as well. Proper Squirtle management is what seperates the pros from the scrubs in both sides, and with the Improved Water Elemental talent, this line of thought is even more convincing.

With the existence of such talents, I am also convinced that Blizzard's design philosophy regarding talent trees have not changed since vanilla. For each release of the game (normal, BC, and LK), Blizzard's revision of the talent tree emphasizes a definitive talent for a particular school, and in subsequent installments of the game, that particular talent is fleshed out even more, further defining the class around that talent. Case in point, for BC, Blizzard added Improved Leader of the Pack for the Feral tree, while Improved Moonkin Form in Lich King adds a increased haste effect to its critical strike effect.

"The essential question when judging a 51 point talent should be: is it worth spending the 51 points necessary to get here? You tell me, Frost Mages. Is it? Though I am not a Frost Mage, I know what my answer would be."

As stated above, it's definitely not worth taking in a PvE spec. But I don't look at it as a "waste of a talent point," since I'll spend that point in another area anyways. It's not like Frost Mages were given 70 points compared to everyone else's 71, which is the impression that I got from reading the article.

Knowing that Mr. Belt is an arcane mage, the same could be said about Slow in Burning Crusade. It was a no-brainer that the talent wasn't worth taking in PvE, but Arcane Mages coped with using other spells in their rotation, and they competed with the other mages, thanks to their amazing 2-piece Tier 6 bonus.

"There is a comparable spell out there called Hammer of Justice. Like Deep Freeze, it is an instant-cast short-duration stun. Deep Freeze has a longer range, but Hammer of Justice can be used on any target, regardless of status. Deep Freeze's cooldown can be talented down to 24 seconds, Hammer of Justice can be talented to 30 seconds. Hammer of Justice stuns for 6 seconds, Deep Freeze stuns for 5. Deep Freeze applies frozen status to the target (assuming the target was already frozen), but Hammer of Justice does not. Deep Freeze is a 51 point Mage talent, available at level 60. Even at its highest rank, Hammer of Justice costs 3% of base mana, while Deep Freeze costs 9%.

Hammer of Justice is a Paladin spell, trainable at level 8.

To me, that says all that needs to be said about Deep Freeze's comparative value. Is it worth 51 points and 60 levels of experience to get? All things being equal, it appears to be worth 8 levels, no talent points, and about 90 copper."


Christian is not mentioning the design philosophy that Blizzard implements with each class. Regarding spells, gear, and talents, they try to quantitize balance between classes using a points system. There exists an value selected by blizzard to represent the strength of a talent or spell. Ultimately, each class should be balanced with regards to the total value of these supposed balance points.

And it holds true with the design of Hammer of Justice. A paladin spell that provides such awesome control is balanced to the many spells in a Frost Mage's arsenal simply by virtue of the fact that HoJ is only one spell, and Frost Mages have plenty of spells that contribute to control.

"Comparitive value" cannot be made based on a spell-by-spell comparison, since the context of the class in which those spells are used needs to be evaluated as well.

"First--and probably easiest--solution? Put the damage back. Fixed."

It's the easiest value to fix for sure, but only time will tell if Blizzard will implement it. After all, numbers are the easiest things to adjust for class balancing purposes. If this spell gets "fixed" at all, a damage component is the most likely means for that to happen.

"Make the spell allow the caster to turn into a cheetah, run behind a pillar, apply an instant cast HoT effect, then sit down to drink.

Ok, so I was kidding about the last one. Sort of."


It's lines like these that keep me coming back to Christian's column. You sir, despite my criticisms, are full of win.

But I don't know. Up until this point, his points have been all arguable, yet valid. Had this been any other class, you could even say it was an effective piece capable of starting debates regarding the state of this class in beta.

But afterwards, for a length that almost exceeds the content discussed above, he went on to plead to a hypothetical blizzard employee to fix the spell. Not any employee, mind you. An employee who was supposedly the exception, and was well aware of the supposed gripes of the mage community.

Certainly, if the trolls have not been lured out, they certainly have now. All of a sudden I was reminded of preschool, with the bullies playing keep away with the loner kid's lunchables. Damn, as much as I miss lunchables right now, I don't think that rant was warranted.

As much as he did warn that there was going to be some form of expressing complaints regarding this spell (necessary, valid), he perpetuated the stereotype of the QQ'ing mage (not necessary, unwarranted).

So as a result, we are left with a post that, with all of its potential of sparking debate about a valid issue, it spurned a debate of the nature of the post itself. Instead of discussing the merits of a 51 point talent that may or may not even be intended, or hell, even has already been fixed for the upcoming beta build, it has grown this unattractive aura that would turn away developers (who probably do turn to columns like these, as well as blogs on the web, just secretly).

We as mages can only learn from this. We must do what we can to not perpetuate the stereotype of the QQ'ing mage, but at the same time not be affected by this stereotyping, as Christian unfortunately shows in this post. It's a delicate balance that must be kept, but for what it's worth, we need to be grateful for what Blizzard has given us. Forget the 51 point talent. It's the 41-point talent that really counts, and I can't really thank Blizzard enough.

6 comments:

isheepthings said...

Great analysis. I think the mage community as a whole needs to work more on a "sunny disposition" for the greater good.

I have had my down and out moments but I've also had times where I squeal with delight as something awesome is brought to the class. I do have faith in Blizzards ability to balance things out in the end. I just hope that "the end" comes before launch date :).

Cynra said...

I really need to return to my mages. I miss playing frosty. That said, Mister Freeze from the animated Batman series is absolutely full of win.

Also, not sure if you noticed, but Kiyo and Edge from LF3M were tagged and completed their own "Where in the World?" post. Check it out!

SolidState said...

Actually, I don't think the voice of mages on wowinsider has been doing all that good a job. This is not the first article that has been more whiny than productive.

Compare the mage column to the Druid or Priest columns. Both these classes have plenty to moan about but you don't see QQ-only posts from the BBB or Matticus...

By the way, did you coin the name "Squirtle" for the WE? Loving it :)

LarĂ­sa said...

Easy solution: make Krizzlybear the new mage columnist of WI.

I'm serious. You rock.

krizzlybear said...

@aurdon: have faith. our time will come! our sunny disposition will be recognized by all!

@cyn: i just finished reading it. it was pretty sweet. i oughtta blogroll them, since i have a list of 10-20 that i'm yet to add!

@solid: i coined it for myself, but apparently, tuna was the first one to mention it on his blog. great minds think alike, eh? ;)

@lar: there's no way i could ever be the WI mage columnist. my writing is still raw, and i don't have as much mage cred as others out there. besides, i take trolls too personally to go mainstream -_-

thanks for the comments everyone!

gnomeaggedon.net said...

I fear I would support Larisa's suggestion... actually that's isn't fear...

Don't know why you just get Gnome Name google searches...

The only Mage QQ I want to engage in is Blizzard really needs to do something about those heat (FireMage) seeking frost bolts...

I was slaughtered from one end of AV to the other by a couple of Frost mages the other night (literally... from O right back to D)

I checked the scoreboards at the end of each battle... Mages in No.1 position each time... assuming there weren't 2-3 in the top 5.... not me though.. unless you count FireMage FrostKababs.