Flame Wreath

Do Not MOVE !!

Do Not MOVE !!

This post is part of the Escaping the Crowds series, which focuses on escape mechanism for PvP.

I will not move when Flame Wreath is cast, or the raid-blows-up.

Anyone who has been to Shade of Aran in Karazhan can probably sympathize with the above statement, which is also a semi-famous chant on YTMND.

For those who are not familiar with the fight, here comes a quick review –

Aran is dead. His no longer living remains haunt Medivh’s Tower of Karazhan. Similar to his son, he is a great master of the Fire, Frost and Arcane, and the old dog still got some tricks.

While fighting him, he has an especially nasty spell that he likes to use called Flame Wreath. The spell creates three rings of fire, around random raid members.

Nice, hot and cozy.

Not quite. If anyone crosses the fire, the entire raid is blasted for severe damage. Hence the saying, the raid blows up. It really does.

What do you do then ?

Quite simple, you refrain from moving until the rings fade.

And I think Mages could benefit from something similar. In a moment, we’ll see.

Once again, I got a tooltip for you. Have a look.

Flame Wreath

Flame Wreath

Flame Wreath

(1 sec. cast, 3 min. cooldown) Surrounds the caster by 3 rings of fire. Each ring deals 750 to 850 fire damage to the first enemy crossing it, before disappearing. Lasts 10 seconds.

Once again, I’d like to remind you this ability is purely fictional. It isn’t in any game build (that I know of) and there is no reason (except for sheer coincidence) for it to appear in the game one day.

I view this skill as PvP oriented, intended to allow Mages to create a breathing space between them and melee attackers. Once used, it conjuers three rings of flames, appearing at 5, 10 and 15 yards away from the Mage respectively, circling him at their center. Each ring lasts for 10 seconds, or until a hostile player crosses it. In such case, it instantly deals fire damage to the player, then vanishes.

Now is the time to read between the lines, and analyze this new skill through its various aspects.

We will inspect –

  • How good an addition it is to the Mage’s arsenal for PvP ?
  • How probable it is to become overpowered ?
  • What effect can it have on PvE play ?
  • What possible nerfs can it expect in order to balance it ?
  • Is it acceptable lore-wise ?
  • How much fun it is to use ?

Let’s keep things ordered, from the start.

Buff-o-Meter

Score: 8/10

Mages have trouble when enemies reach them. Flame Wreath makes sure they have to suffer a lot to do that.

Once the Mage spots something coming for him, he can quickly protect himself by the mentioned three rings. Thus, he either gains time when his enemies fear to approach him, or he ensures that if they do, they are already weakened by the fire damage dealt.

When the Mage is already being beat upon from up-close, he can still cast the spell (having 1 second casting time helps against interrupts), then run away. His enemies will have to decide whether to follow him through the flames or wait until they fade. By that time, the caster will be once again beat-free.

OP-o-Meter

Score: 8/10

This is a reactive spell. It damage enemies as a reaction to something they do. Hence we could say –

Big deal, just don’t move until the rings disappear.

But there’s something wrong with this reasoning. There is nothing that prevents the caster from unleashing hell upon you while you politely stay put. So, is gives you the choice of bringing damage on yourself, or waiting for the Mage to damage you. Not a very nice dilemma.

In a way, we could look at it as if it was a 1 second directly damaging spell, then it wouldn’t look so bad for its cooldown. Which is rather true. But having those menacing rings of fire between you and your prey will probably make you hesitate. So psychologically, it is stronger than it actually is.

It can however be rather devastating, as an enemy who is stuck inside the rings could stall too long, then be crossfired by ranged opponents who are outside.

I think it will give Mages an edge over melee opponents. The question is, isn’t this edge too sharp ? I can only speculate, but I give it a high score for OPness.

PvE Effect

Score: Limited

Mages are a ranged class. Mages are pretty fragile. Mages don’t like big scary mobs rushing in their direction.

Big scary mobs have short attention span. Big scary mobs crush their biggest enemies. Big scary mobs become angry when hurt.

Conclusion – The last thing a Mage wants to do is keep upsetting the big scary mobs that come rushing towards the Mages’ direction.

Conclusion to the conclusion – Using Flame Wreath in PvE will only lead the Mage to even more trouble.

Mages who attempt to use Flame Wreath as an offensive DPS ability will be rather disappointed. While it can deal about 2500 points of damage if the enemy is charging through all of the three rings, the skill’s mana cost is rather high for this amount. Launching a couple of bolts instead would be much more efficient, but I suppose there could be occasions where the 1 second cast could justify the extra cost.
Obviously, the Mage would either have to use Ice Block when the enemy reaches him, Frost Nova then Blink, or be pretty certain it is about to die at any moment.

The skill does not have AoE uses since each ring disappears once the first enemy crosses it, thus limiting its use to maximum three opponents.

In any case, the ability has a long enough cooldown to prevent any meaningful PvE exploits.

Nerf List

This might cause some whining, but better be prepared than surprised. Here’s the list.

  • Reducing the duration. If it would be shorter, melee opponents will have to wait less time before they can safely attack the Mage again. It’ll probably be toned down to 6 seconds.

Ok, so one bullet isn’t really a list. Noted. Let’s continue.

There are other nerfing possibilities, but most will just render the ability useless.

If it would take longer to cast, the Mage won’t be far enough from his enemies when he pulls the Wreath off, making it less of use.
If the rings would deal less damage, enemies will just storm through them, as avoiding them entails taking damage from the Mage himself. Reducing the number of rings is equivalent to reducing their damage.

Edit: Another idea popped into my mind shortly after I’ve published this post. How about we make the Mage exhausted for a few seconds, say 3, after he casts the spell ? The caster will be debuffed with Arcane Exhaustion, which will prevent him from casting any spell, for its duration (3 sec.). This way, he will be restricted with the amount of DPS he can deal to the “locked out” melee, but still gain precious uninterrupted time.

Lore Wise

Score: Very likely

Because if Aran can cast it, why shouldn’t we ?

If you can shoot fireballs from the tip of your fingers, launch blasts of fire from the palm of your hand, call forth the power of flames to strike at your enemies, surely you can conjure three rings of fire.

It is thus granted.

Fun Factor

Score: Pyrotechnics

You’ll just have to storm through Stormwind (or thunder through Thunderbluff) and create three rings of fire every 3 minutes, to draw some attention.

Moreover, it could be fun to pull an enemy, just to see it kill itself as it runs through the walls of flames.

A Fiery Conclusion

Within the arena, only the Mage and Warrior remained standing, both exhausted from the clash of spells and metal. Members of both teams lay sprawled on the bloody ground, their bodies rapdily cooling with the life gone from them.

Tightening his grasp on his sword, the Warrior prepared for his final charge, ready to execute the frail Mage. Surely, he cannot stand the might of raw steel.

A cloud of dust. The glint of a raised sword. The pounding of sprinting feet. A few whispered words.

The Warrior charged through walls of fiery hell. Once, then again, then again.

At the feet of the Mage, only blazing flesh and bones remained.

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