Let’s Talk Archmage Specs

Does this blue match my hair?

One of the great things about reaching the end of Tier 3/start of Tier 4 is that you finally have enough talent points available to start experimenting with abilities/ tactics that you can learn from speccing deep into your career ability trees.

I’m not planning to give a detailed discussion of every single Archmage ability and spec, there are better places to discuss that, but I am going to talk about which way I plan to go and why. An Archmage is a class that can specialise in three different ways: healing, nuking/damage, and debuffing. In practice, damage feels subpar, healing can be excellent if you spec for it, and the debuffs look good but it’s difficult to get a feel for how useful they really are. I think a damage specced archmage can work well, but if the class needs anything, it’s better damage and better AP regeneration while nuking.

In any case, I want to play my Archmage as a healer who has other ways to contribute if healing isn’t needed. So I know that in the endgame, whatever I spec, I plan to mostly heal in PvP.

Isha

There are two really good things about the Isha tree. One is that it improves just about every baseline heal you have, and the other is Funnel Essence. FE is a good, fast, flexible channelled heal (it’s supposed to be channelled, bit bugged right now) that you can break off after one tick if you need to save AP. I have it specced on Lin at the moment and I feel like a really competent healer in scenarios, as far as that’s possible. Since I spend a fair amount of time healing in PvP, this is a big deal for me.

Asuryan

Only one good ability in this tree but it’s a doozy. Cleansing Flare is a ranged AE with knockback. It is brilliant fun, very effective, gives you a good way to defend other healers/nukers, and everyone who has tried it loves it. Unfortunately you need to spec 13 points into a lame tree to get that ability. No one really wants the Asuryan tree to be lame, and even Destruction would probably prefer that it wasn’t (because that would encourage fewer Archmages to heal) but even with a full dps spec, it simply doesn’t make as much difference to our damage as an Isha-spec does to our healing.

It’s particularly sad that none of the Asuryan tactics are very exciting. They look better than they are. I’ve seen dps Archmages played very effectively but this tree needs some help. Having said that, Cleansing Flare is heaps of fun and might be worth the heavy point investment all on its own.

Vaul

The debuff tree is pretty solid. It contains the awesome Scatter the Winds heal debuff at a mere 5 points into the tree. As well as a solid debuff, StW gives you an extra DoT to help while soloing which is a nice bonus. Further up the tree at 9 points in is Law of Age which is an AE toughness debuff. It’s a good spell, and works well when you have some enemies bunched up. Like all debuffs, it’s difficult to really get a feel for quite how effective it is. At 11 points, you can buy the Golden Aura tactic which makes your best DoT affect many targets in an area. I tried this and found it mostly a way of getting better contribution scores in scenarios and PQs – unlike all the other debuffs, you can tell very clearly what this one is doing on scoreboards. Plus there’s a debuff built in. Above this, Mistress of the Marsh is a ground targeted snare/debuff, I didn’t try this one but people seem disappointed in it (probably because enemies in PvP don’t often stand around.

So where does this leave us?

Mostly it leaves me bitterly wishing that I could have all my talent points right now at 32 because it would make levelling a whole lot more fun. As it is, I spend a lot of time in PvP/scenarios and really want to heal well. For the rest, I still need to grind xp out somehow since there often aren’t groups available. At 40 I’ll have enough points to pick up Funnel Essence and still have enough left for Cleansing Flare or Law of Age. Right now I have to choose and it makes me grumpy. The advantage of going with an Isha/Vaul build is that it isn’t adversely affected if you don’t gear for dps – a debuff works the same way regardless of how much int you have on your gear.

If I am not sounding enthused about the tactics available, it’s because at the moment I am happy with the baseline ones. I’m going with the 10% heal crits, 160 AP every time a heal crits, and instant res tactic at the moment and they’re great.

What I will eventually do is pick out some combination of the abilities I most like and see which works best with how I end up playing at rank 40. I won’t personally have a build that doesn’t include Funnel Essence, I like how it rounds the class out for healing. But whether I’ll go deeper into Isha than that I’m not yet sure. So the most likely builds so far are Isha/Asuryan with Cleansing Flare or Isha/Vaul with Law of Age. I’m looking forwards to experimenting!

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4 Responses

  1. I went exclusively Vaul up to rank 35, and here are my views on some of the stuff in there:

    Scatter the Winds is great. Best thing in Vaul currently, and well worth the points there. Spamming it on a focussed target makes a huge difference.

    Golden Aura certainly bumped my DPS contribution, but in scenarios where Destruction don’t often clump up (i.e. Serpent’s Passage), I rarely hit more than a few at once with it. Unless you’re going to concentrate on DPS to the detriment of healing, it isn’t going to get your damage higher than 30k without investment in Asuryan also. The debuff component is nice, but fairly minor.

    Law of Age, especially with Expanded Control slotted, will debuff plenty of Destruction players, and can be pretty much spammed to keep it refreshed. However, the magnitude of the Toughness reduction isn’t huge, and it doesn’t scale in line with most classes’ Toughness. By rank 40 the effectiveness is likely to be negligible, even with heavy investment in the Vaul line. The same goes for Rain Lord.

    I’d prefer to see Law of Age changed to a percentage damage increase debuff and Rain Lord to a percentage damage decrease debuff. 10% more melee damage against a target is less opaque than a flat Toughness reduction, and it scales with level. Even a percentage Toughness reduction would be preferable to a flat number.

    As it stands, there will always be the doubt in the back of my mind that the whole debuffing exercise isn’t really worth the effort, especially since you usually have to put yourself within vulnerable range to use them. I’d like to see debuffing incorporated into the High Magic mechanic, with debuffs building Force and/or Tranquillity, and conversely an increase in their effectiveness with a build up of High Magic.

    Mistress of the Marsh is a nice idea, but the execution needs some work. Every time I saw an opportunity to use it, I found that the 3s cast time was simply too long to realise that opportunity.

    3s turns into 5-10s when you have to deal with the ground targeting icon, and the the build up is extremely fragile, so you aren’t going to get it off in a reasonable time if even just one enemy is attacking you.

    By the time you do manage to cast it, the position that you selected is usually no longer optimal, and the effect wears off soon after the enemy has left the area. The snare debuff only lasts a couple of seconds and doesn’t seem to refresh quickly enough, and the graphical effect doesn’t give a good indication of the extent of the effect, especially with Expanded Control slotted.

    At a minimum, they need to either reduce the cast time to 1-2s, or make the cast time reducible by Force or Tranquillity. Either that or give it another effect to make up for the limitations. Perhaps a minor AP drain. A longer duration than 10s would also work. It just needs to be better, basically!

    So in summary, the Vaul line needs quite a bit of work before it becomes a viable Archmage spec, IMO. Debuffing should be incorporated into the High Magic mechanic, and some of the abilities need to be made more effective.

  2. Funnel Essence and Cleansing Flare are my goals. That’ll leave me with one point that I’ll drop probably in Isha just for posterity.

    All of this is subject to change of course, as they radically alter the paths.

  3. […] I am. (Three writers times one blog compared to one writer times one blog…work with me here.) Spinks wrote a great article on spec, which you should hop over and consider. It mirrors precisely my thinking. It’s kind […]

  4. […] it.  the Archmagi are going to be Vaul-speced.  There are some decent articles written on these here  and […]

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