Again, no offense.
Again, no offense.
My mage was on the shelf for nearly all of Cata. I briefly enjoyed a few fights as frost in firelands, but most of the time when I tried to gear up and enjoy the content I would just... log off.
It is my opinion that the mage class, specifically frost, is impacted far too much by PvP balancing and it's why we see so much roller coaster viability throughout the tiers.
WARNING: Long post. Mostly ramble. Optional reading.
Mage Raiding/PvP History 101 (Abridged version)
From the begging of WoW, mages as a class were very strong raiders. MUCH more so than other classes (you don't know 'imbalance' till you played vanilla, but it was the best time in WoW, for many reasons beyond just 'nostalgia', but I digress...).
Back since the fiery pits of The Molten Core, mages were around freezing things. Frost (ironically enough) shined back then, and many a raid saw their fare share of frostbolts cooling down the place. It made sense though, since Ragnaros was, after all, a Firelord. He was immune to fire spells and through extension immune to one entire spec of the class. In general, apart form a vocal minority, most mages were OK with that though, at least, at the time.
(though just for context, do a mental experiment where someone walks up to you and says: "yea.. you know that wing of the thunder king raid? well, the bosses in there are immune to your entire spec <insert your primary spec here>. Either respec or gtfo". Now try to imagine what you will think/feel. That is how mages began WoW)
Mage PvP history is another matter.
Back then, there was no 'season'. PvP itself came in a patch. I still remember being in the first ever Alterac Valley in the first time AV came to the PTR. This was the first time 'PvP' was really unleashed on the unsuspecting WoW public. And that first AV was awesome! But back then, there were no arenas, so the entire concept of PvP viability came down to happenstance encounters in the World, and/or PUG BGs.
Mage PvP history was marked back then though. In its very first incarnation, the imagery and legend of what today is affectionately called as "The 3 Min Mage" was born. Most hostile players would find themselves introduced to mage PvP for the first time by being on the receiving end of a PoM Pyro.
Back then, there wasn't really any PvP balance. Polymorphs would last full durations on players, people didn't really have trinkets, I would usually (read: regularly) 1v3 or 1v4 people just by the sheer ability of keeping one person perma sheeped, and nuking the next outright out of the fight. Mages, in early Vanilla, were PvP gods. No question about it.
Near the end of vanilla, mages were still viable as a class. By this time, ignites would roll and Fire was king (it never stepped down - just went on vacation from time to time). Mages went into BC feeling pretty hawt about themselves after having literally burned Naxx to the ground. Mages in Naxx were probably the highest they have ever been relative to other classes.
(Ignite rolling would shine in Naxx, esp since OTHER mages' crits would feed your own ignite - you would end up with ignite ticks that would be just 'jaw droppping' zomgdps).
But by the end of vanilla, a very core concept seemed to be starting to congeal in the mage class. That being, the concept of 'respec for boss'. Mages, having suffered mechanics such as "lol - boss is immune to everything you do, gg. repsec", learned very early on that they had to become comfortable with respeccing. This 'training to respec' played a major role in the future development of the mage class. It is partly the reason mages are probably the class with the highest skew of spec representation. After a spec is 'chosen' by the community, mages will respec to that spec in droves. Why? Because that is written into the fundamental history of the class, and mages were doing it since the beginning of WoW.
But anyway... lets fast forward a bit. There is still much that can be said about mages viability from those early days, but I want to move us forward to another important point in Mage history, one that is a critical contributor to the state of the class today.
At some point in time, I believe it was near the end of BC - early WoTLk, the idea changed at Blizz HQ.
You see, up until that point, both the devs and the players (in general) saw thins as you OP see them now, that being, they saw the issue as a "is the class viable? it is? good, move on". At this transition point, that idea changed. It changed from wondering whether the class was viable to "class viability is not enough. Each of the specs need to be viable too".
Now, the motivation for this thought was obvious. Non-pures up until then had it bad. Like real bad. If you wanted to do something as a non-pure class, you better have wanted to heal because if you wanted to do anything else, you would be pretty useless. Non-healer/non-tanking offspecs for non-pure classes were pretty much a joke near the end of BC - don't get me wrong though, every raid had their token booms and token elesham (heck, I even had a token spriest in our raids that I would love. If you remember back in BC, spriests would give mana back to their group. Being an Arcane mage, I loved my pocket mana battery!). But in general, hybrid classes were either healing, or serving the pure classes with some important buff. And you know what, back then, apart from a vocal minority, most people were ok with that.
But this all changed. The new mandate came from up high that every hybrid spec must be useful and be up to spec. Massive overhauls were done, big redesigns and much much work and effort and blood and sweat and toil and tears went into taking every single hybrid spec and making it viable.
However, with the sounds of industry coming from all the work blizz was putting into the hybrids, something else happened that almost everyone was unaware of.
What happened was that even though Blizz took the "no spec left behind" philosophy", blizz forgot to apply this philosophy to the pure classes. This is a phenomena that has been going on since early wotlk, and is still going on today and is at the heart of the issue mages as a community have right now.
So, while extra effort was being made to make each hybrid spec viable, mages warlocks hunters and rogues, were still left with "do you have any spec that is viable? ok good. move on".
To the greater community the entire game flipped on its head. Before, you were punished for picking a hybrid class by having only one spec viable, but instead of fixing that, blizz just moved the pain to the other set of players. The pures. Now you were being punished just for picking a pure class. How was that any better?
Blizz realized this issue at the end of Cata with warlocks (who, as far as the specs and spec viability goes, were terribad). It took a complete overhaul of the class to fix the problem.
Unfortunately, mages rogues and hunters still suffer from this "one spec only" idea. And this is in both pve and pvp too, e.g. Frost really is the only viable mage spec in PvP, yet druids have all four of their specs both pve and pvp viable.
It is that discrepancy that is the cause of so much QQ over at the land of the Mages.
The basic jist of the issue today is that "Class Viability" isn't enough anymore, especially since mages can see all the work that has been put into other hybrid class specs to make each viable in both PvP and PvE. Now sure, not all are done, but the point is, it is clear to many mage players that Blizz isn't really putting in much similar work on the mage class.
E.g. Arcane has not been a viable PvP spec since the beginning of time, yet almost nothing is done to fix that problem. Mages are literally told "if you want to PvP, go Frost or go Home".
Though I guess if you want to understand the issue even deeper, you will have to go into the history of the development of the mage community too. You would have to trace the roots of mage "spec elitism" and inter-class warfare within the mage class. You would have to track the history of how mages became so polarized in themselves towards a particular spec. But that is a different topic.
For now, just know that almost every serious mage identifies with a specific spec now (and not just the class). To them, that spec being non-optimal for tier/season X is an affront to their play experience. Which actually makes sense, since it applies to non-mage hybrid players too.
Either way, hope this makes sense. I know its a bit of a ramble. I just wish I could link you guys to our libraries on our guild forums. We have 3 guys who are our "wow historians" and they have written a lot about such topics. They probably explain it much better than me *shrugs*
There is much that I am leaving out, mainly because this post is monster long already. But the idea was to show you that the answer you are looking for isn't cut and dry. It is an intricately thread that has been weaving itself through the history of the game since its beginning. To truly understand it all, you need to first appreciate that fact.
Just want to point out that Poly was patched to a lower duration against players towards the mid-to-tail end of Vanilla.
Season 2/3 of Arena (Mid TBC) was when I remember Mages being at their weakest in PvP. There was only one Comp in 3s that ran them, RMP. It was a fairly strong comp, but RLS, RLD, and RRD beat it up pretty well.
At that time Warlocks were the #1 Caster - the matches were long, and this played into the hands of Affliction, while every Lock spec took Demo up to Soul Link to make them extremely hard to kill with or without a healer.
I remember playing RLD, and every time we came up against RMP, we just did everything in our power to ensure our Lock was free to cast on the opposing Mage, such was the level of mismatch.
PvE 8/10 - Until AQ40 Mages were forced to play Frost, iirc DPS was ok. Firemages in Naxx and AQ were Top-DDs when they could roll ignites. I think only Fury Warriors were better.
PvP 9/10 - "3min Mages" (PoM Pyro) were considered OP, but normal Firemages bad one of the best bursts too making them very important for BGs. 1on1 was very important back then too and mages were quite good.
PvE 3/10 - At the start mages were quite good but had serious survivabilty problems in PvE. The longer the X-pac lasted, the weaker mages got DPS-wise compared to other classes. In sunwell basically the worst pure DPS-class and usually good 25man raids only had 1-2.
PvP 7/10 - Frostmages were really strong throughout the whole xpac having the best burst of all classes, high survivabilty and absurd CC (not every healer could dispell back then). But got countered by warlocks, hunters and interrupts quite hard though.
PvE 8/10 - Mages were decent throughout the whole X-Pac. Iirc never the Top-DD but always in the Top 3.
PvP 8/10 - Arcane Mages were OP at the start of the X-Pac (but DKs, Hunter and Paladins were even more op^^). Later on Frost was the spec of choice again and most good 3on3 teams had mages (except meleecleaves). Even Dualmage in 2on2 was a good comp. Mages also were considered the class with the highest skillcap.
PvE 7/10 - T11 content mages were quite weak on most fights, T12 arcane was really good, T13 fire at first was OP but later got nerfed and was "only" Top 3-4 then.
PvP 7/10 - Mages became easier to play and were strong for most of the xpac... the fact that hunters were so good and lots of hunter played pvp hurt mages, also sub-rogues who got buffed massively were a pain in the a.... mages were very important for RBGs too.
(until now) PvE 9/10 - at first fire was the Top-DPS spec, then arcane. Frostmage top-dd in Challengemodes. Only thing that sucks is that arcane playstyle isn't optimal and there are lots of nerfs coming.
PvP - i dont play pvp this xpac
Last edited by Liebchen; 2013-03-01 at 04:39 PM.
oookey, so here we have the average "strength" of the class/spec from patch 4.0 up until today: http://raidbots.com/dpsbot/Spec_Scor...4/730/default/
Obviously the numbers on the right represent the current situation so it's pretty hard to get a read here.
This is ofc affected by the problem of "if one spec is weaker then most people will play the other spec, even if they're pretty close".
Looking at this I can pretty much tell that mages have been in a REALLY good spot for a while, having a middle of the pack spec and an absolute top one in every single tier (fire 4.0, arcane 4.1 and 4.2, fire 4.3 and 5.0 and now arcane.
You mention hybrid viability during the burning crusade and I recall a podcast from the time (the four horsemen with TB and a bunch of raiders from method, nihilum, death & taxes and a couple of other guilds) discussing hybrids. I think I remember them saying that shadow priests was an absolutely essential part of the raid (that includes their dps, not only the battery). So the notion that hybrids were useless is pretty harsh =\ You've also got the whole situation with shamans and Mu'ru.
I can't speak for PvE, but they've always been great in PvP. Their weakest point was probably BC, and that's just because warlocks countered them so hard. But even then they weren't really weak, and before and after that they've always been one of the best classes, and probably the best caster overall. They aren't always FOTM, but they're always solid.
People ought to learn to use raidbots. They just find a graph with pretty colors that concur with what their point is, and post it without bothering to use any parameters.
Check all parses now dude, you'll see a difference.
Made by mountandpetlover, big thanks !
our weakest teir is sunwell. followed by naxxramas in wrath if i remember right.
our best teir ever is probobly this one.
hmm wether weve been top 5 or not.. in sunwell hunters rogues warriors and warlocks was way ahead of us.. but then i believe we had our spot.. i dont think any of the hybrid dps classes was ahead of us there. thou its saying somethign that we were the worst of the puredps classes warriors included :P and spreists and shammys got raidspot anyway for the buffs they brought.
Last edited by Aphrel; 2013-03-02 at 01:29 PM.