Just wondering if Mage still has it's advantages compared to other classes.
Historically, Mage was (besides Rogue) the class with the most utility, also locks had their starlight hours with different boss tank-applications and selfheal and so on. Hunter was at that time a little less useful, I give you that.
And then the game developed over time, a lot of changing was done to talent systems and new classes were added, all speccs and classes are made viable in a raid environment and so on.
But now, if I look at the overall "balance", I feel like that pure DPS classes suffered. Sure, comparing DPS simcraft over the time, it's still mostly that "pure" dps classes have at least one specc that is in the top10, at least for patchwerk fights, but in a real raid environment, considering that all classes can do roughly the same dps, it comes down to utility and "gimmicks", why you would want to bring certain classes.
It's been very popular for a while in progress guilds, and it's called "class stacking".
And now, why would you stack a class? Mostly, because it can do something in particular better than all the other classes. For exemple multi-dotting for moonkins, shadows and affi locks. Or (if we remember spine) burst stacking with retribution palas or arcane mages. Having the appriopriate tank is also very important. Death knights make a lot of fights so much easier, some other block tanks (warri/pala) also had their spot. And when it comes to healers, it's the same. Resto druids solo-healing Ragnaros HC in 10m, or Discipline-Priests and Paladins, it just matters what are the strenghs and weaknesses of every specc.
Now I want you to consider MoP and Mages. Sure, DPS wise, we are at the Top (in simcraft patchwerk 5min fights), but in raids, it's not that clear cut. Sure, in 25m, when there's not a lot of movement and other tasks, Mages are still in a good place. But in 10m, when it comes down more to personal utility and play, it's not that clear cut.
Mage has practically no self-heal or healing cd to help out the healers (compare hybrids like moonkin or shadow or elemental shaman heal cds...), reducing his abilitys in a raid to either DPS or Crowd Control (if needed). Sure, many other classes are in the "same" boat here. How about Mage dmg-reduction talents? Every Melee has something like shildwall now (anti magic bubble, cloak, bubble etc), hunters have disengage and locks have now a lot of active defense too, shadows dispersion druid symbiosys(dispersion) and so on.
So Mage with Iceblock is not unique anymore (someone remember iceblock-pulls in vanilla molten core?!?), he is just along the line with others. (Or worse, considering that a lot of dmg sources in raid now hit through iceblock but are still reduced by lets say dispersion (gara'jal voodoo dolls for example).
So what about Mage control than? There are rarely raid encounters where control does play a role, but they exist. Nefarian, the skeletal constructs. Firelands, beth'tilac, a lot of adds to slow and bomb. Or now, HoF, grand-empress Shek'zeer. Phase two, you need to slow and kite the small adds. But what slows does Mage really have now? Sure, frostbolt, a single target nuke. (apparently useless). Ring of Frost, quite useful if you've seen 25m heroic Will of Emperor videos, but only works if you don't need kill the adds at some point. And thats the point. Mages do not have much CC which is useful when you need to afflict damage to the targets. Cone of cold, 6sec short range slow, not very good and requires melee range. And thats it.
Now lets compare Rogues, Dks, Warriors, they cleave, they slow, they stun, all at the same time and doing max dmg. Druids with Vortex/knockback bring utility too. They also have a taunt, which can be really useful at times. Hunter's kite abilitys are ofc superb, freezing trap and stuff like that is really usefull.
Now, the problem with multi-dotting. Mage has 3 DPS speccs, but none is considered "dot-specc". Sure, every specc has a mage-bomb now, and fire has its ignite and pyro-dots, so you might argue that it's at least a hybrid dot specc. But, compared to real "multi-dotters", Mage is still considered sup-standard, except for when he can spread his dmg from a main-target to off-targets.
And that's the only viable space I see for mages right now, and it's only with (unfortunately) rnd dependant fire specc. Why on hell would someone take frost or arcane mages to a raid, or even a fire mage? (if he has an equally-skilled alternative class player at hand of course) Mage burst is only a ramp-up burst now with high-ignite-combustion, nothing like demo lock/elemental/druid/bm hunter instant unloading their dmg. Frost and arcane are both stable, non-dot-dependent-DPS, which is really useless. In a raid, you either need multi-dots/cleave or burst DPS, thats why those two speccs are useless. Fire is more spiky which means better, but still very rnd dependand (which is also bad because of lack of consistency)
Also, mages used to be a very mobile class, but now with the LvL 90 talents, our mobility is really crap. So I wonder, why would someone give a Mage 3 DPS specc, which are basically the same considering DPS burst/mobility and utility? Why not more diversity?
I check a lot of progress 10m raiding guilds, and rarely a mage is being found in the top40 guilds, and if, he is often benched for the first-kills. I'm also in contact with many top-guilds, and they confirm that mage isn't of much use besides ok-DPS right now. Of 11 classes (and 34 speccs), Mage apparently is the most redundant and easiest to bench for whatever the encounter demands.
It's like we've lost most of your unique benefits over time while other classes gained more and more. I don't want mage to be the best at everything, don't get me wrong, I just would like to see that a mage has more use in a raid than just making plain DPS with every specc he's got. I mean, why not making fire multi-dot? Or arcane more burst-cd again? Or give frost more kite/control? It's done for other pure DPS classes as well. Rogue has a burst, a cleave and a dot specc. Warlock has a multi-dot, a burst (demo) and a "normal" caster specc. Hunter has a pet, a CC and a Dot specc.
Everything a mage has is fire, which is half-burst/half dot, and frost/arcane, which is useless.
It's been quite a long read now, so I wonder if some of you might feel similar, or if you have another view on the "big picture" of mage status in PvE?