As the champions of Azeroth storm Aberrus, the once-secret laboratory hidden in the Zaralek Cavern beneath the Dragon Isles, Fractures in Time (10.1.5) is upon us! The next content update will soon be available on the public testing area (PTR), featuring:
NEW CLASS SPECIALIZATION: Augmentation Evoker
A new Evoker specialization has arrived! Augmentation Evokers gather the powers of the Bronze Dragonflight and the new strong powers of the Black Dragonflight to help their allies on the battlefield with various buffs they gain from damage in combat, becoming WoW’s first “support” specialization.
NEW MEGADUNGEON: Dawn of the Infinite
The Infinite Dragonflight, victims of the Bronze Dragons below, have been working hard toward their ultimate goal: the transformation of Nozdormu, the Aspect of Time, into Murozond. This eight-boss Mythic-only dungeon takes players through the timelines as they fight to prevent the Infinite Dragonflight from being separated.
NEW CLASS EXTENSION: Warlocks
The Warlock class becomes available to all remaining non-Dracthyr races, including Night Elves, Draenei, Pandaren and Tauren.
BALANCING & TUNING
As with all updates, another round of balancing and tuning for all classes.
The current Mage class tree has a variety of talents that offer a variety of options for utility and survival talents, but with the current layout, many of those choices feel difficult to navigate. This is due to the nature of their current keystones and how impactful and important they are to the overall rotation for each of the specifications. In Fractures in Time, they are making a few changes such as making a baseline for skills, removing Rune of Power, a slightly new tree layout and adding 3 new capstone skills to replace Shifting Power and Meteor. We will highlight some of those larger changes below.
Runes of Power
They remove Rune of Power from the class tree and move some of his loss power directly to all Mage skills that deal damage. While the decision to remove Rune of Power was not an easy one, they feel it is best for the long-term health of the class. Fighting within a Rune of Power is almost mandatory to maximize your damage as a mage, and any mechanic that forces you out for an extended period of time ends up feeling incredibly punishing to your overall throughput.
In Raid, Mythic+ and PvP, trapping a player in a small space for 12 seconds is a big ask, and it just doesn’t feel fun to play as often as Rune of Power is. By removing Rune of Power, they can move more of the Mage’s damage to their baseline, while also leaving room to further boost their major cooldowns (Arcane Surge, Combustion and Icy Veins) if needed. While they initially expect it to be a major adjustment, they are confident that this will be a general boon for Mages in the future.
Although the overall structure of the class tree has changed, they have made a few key changes that should allow for some more customization when specifying in your class tree. The total number of keystones has been reduced from 5 to 3. Currently, Mage’s keystones have a wide variety of power that offer different levels of throughput or survivability and utility. The difference in damage throughput and utility/survival ability at the keystone level has proven somewhat problematic for Mage and their ability to feel free to modify their tree as they see fit. The structure is now structured to provide 3 capstones, with the middle capstone (Time Anomaly/Temporal Warp) providing the only throughput and the left and right capstones providing different utility or survivability that you can consider based on the content you may be running. The goal here with the new structure is to provide a bit more flexibility within the class tree and make you feel less obligated to pick up both Shifting Power and Time Anomaly/Temporal Warp choice node.
They have 3 new capstones available that offer a different variety of gameplay choices based on the content you may be using. Ice Cold is a talent that modifies your Ice Block so you can cast while it is active, but you are no longer immune to damage and instead take much less damage for a shorter duration. The other two talents are a choice node for Mass Invisibility and Mass Barrier which, as the names imply, allow you to cast Invisibility on your nearby allies or cast your specialization’s Barrier on up to 3 nearby allies.
Going into Fractures in Time, we want to focus on giving Arcane Mages a more consistent way to deal AoE damage without having to rely on Touch of the Magi or Radiant Spark windows where quick deaths or mob movements can greatly hinder their performance. Arcane also has a few talents that offer a variety of utility but felt inaccessible based on their position in the tree, their path in the tree or the lack of points after completing their chosen build. To counter this, they shifted a few things in the baseline, particularly Arcane Barrage and Clearcasting, and updated the path for a few talents.
They’ve reworked Orb Barrage capstone talent into something more consistent and likely familiar to Legion Arcane players. Orb Barrage now gives your Arcane Barrage one chance per spent Arcane Charge to hurl an Arcane Orb at your target. This talent should be a much-needed way to both send out consistent AoE damage and provide a steady stream of Arcane Charge generation when fighting large packs. They have also added a new talent “Concentrated Power” that gives more purpose to your Clearcasting and Arcane Explosion during heavy AoE battles. This talent causes your Arcane Explosion to reverberate an extra time for a % of the original damage.
They also updated Arcane’s structure to be a little more flexible in picking up unique nodes that are not always processed immediately. They have shifted Arcane Barrage and Clearcasting baseline, detached Reverberate from Nether Tempest, added new connections from Nether Tempest, and removed the Arcane Power talent and merged its power into Arcane Surge. The purpose of these changes is to give you a few extra points to play with and create a more positive experience as you navigate through the tree, allowing you to create a spec tree to suit your needs.
Fire and frost
Although this round of Fractures in Time PTR includes only Class and Arcane updates, aside from the redistribution of damage due to the Rune of Power change, they haven’t forgotten about Fire or Frost. They have plans for them in upcoming PTR builds.
Currently, Fire suffers from a one-build-fits-all talent tree. This is problematic for a number of reasons: the lack of choice/variety gets stale after a while, Ignite inflicts large portions of damage on a single target, and AoE makes it incredibly difficult for us to separately tune Single Target or AoE damage to Fire during alignment passes. In the future, they want to explore ways in which we can create alternative AoE builds that don’t just Ignite stacking, reduce the number of 2-point nodes to free up a few points, and shift a skill baseline such as Flamestrike and Cauterize. These are not final or comprehensive changes, but hopefully give a good idea of our goals for Fire in the future.
Looking ahead with Frost, we look at the less select talents that offer a different gameplay style compared to the “meta” builds, but generally underperform. Talents like Ray of Frost and Glacial Spike offer unique alternatives to the standard rotation, but given their current impact and lack of synergy within the tree, it becomes difficult to choose them. Moreover, they are looking at the “minimal Ice Lance” builds, as this should not be the right way to play Frost. Ice Lance should be an impactful button played rather than minimally cast because of the amount of modifiers from other talents and damage sources that prevent it from being so. There are also some talents that they want to reassess in the talent tree and move baseline instead, such as Blizzard and Cold Snap. Finally, the number of talents needed to make Icy Veins feel like a high-impact cooldown is relatively high. They want to take this opportunity to see if they can make it stand on its own a bit more.