However, upon opening up my talent trees and playing with specs, glyphs and reforging, I've found some of the information given pre-patch was not accurate. So here's where I correct all that.
We'll start with reforging since that's my latest post. I love reforging. It's so fun to get rid of useless stuff on my gear and make it something cool. The good news is that I was wrong about spirit - if you pick up a piece with spirit on it, you can reforge it to something more useful, like hit or haste or mastery. However, that doesn't mean you should be scooping up healer gear with spirit right and left. That's a good way to put yourself on the shit-list. If you do have some gear with spirit already, then you can take 40% of it off and put it somewhere nicer. The problem I'm finding is that with hit being capped at good'ole 17% with no talents to reduce, there's not much to reforge. You can take some crit off your gear, but I wouldn't recommend removing it all in place of mastery. Right now mastery isn't as significant as it will be in cataclysm, and I wouldn't be very surprised if it was broken. I actually reforged all my crit into hit and mastery to test how good it was and had a drop in DPS because I wasn't ever getting the big numbers. Now this will likely be different in a raid setting where you have a number of buffs to help you out and they're significantly more widespread than before, so you don't need as many classes to get what you want. My recommendation would be to play around with your numbers a bit, so long as you have the cash.
Now glyphs are a tougher subject. Some of the glyphs labeled as prime, major, or minor didn't end up as those for release:
- Glyph of Molten Armor, Arcane Missles, Arcane Barrage and Fireball are major, not Prime. This leaves Arcane mages with one good choice, Arcane Blast. Pretty much every spec will be using Mage Armor, except Frost, who could take Cone of Cold instead (along with deep freeze and Ice Lance).
- Glyph of Arcane Power resets GLOBAL cooldown, not cooldown completely, making it not as exciting of a choice as it was before. I'd go so far as to say take Missiles, Barrage, and Molten Armor in Arcane before taking Arcane Power.
- Glyph of Mirror Image is a major glyph not a minor. This tells me that it's not just a cosmetic change and that hopefully your damage buffs in Arcane/Fire will apply, making this a good glyph.
- Glyph of Armors doesn't exist yet in the game. No scribe can make it, so save yourself the time looking for it and put something else in it's place.
- Your meta in ANY spec should still be a Chaotic Skyflare Diamond.
- Instead of the Purified Dreadstones we were using pre patch to fill our 2 blue gem requirement, you want Veiled Dreadstones. Since hit is blue, this helps fill the larger requirement you have to get to 17% without talents so you don't have to reforge something that may be more useful or get more hit from gear. Remember that spirit is now not your friend. Get rid of it asap. We don't even get mana regen benefits from it, and certainly not the crit we were pulling off it before.
- As Spell Power has now been wiped off the face of Azeroth (except on weapons, in enchants, and with gem slot bonuses), your new #1 thing to gem is pure Intellect which comes from Brilliant Cardinal Rubies. All of your Runed Cardinal Rubies were changed over for you in the patch. You can also use Reckless Ametrines (Blizzard switched them over for you too!) in yellow slots for slot bonuses in gear, but Brilliant Cardinal Rubies are still the preferred method of gemming.
Now since the patch has hit, I've focused on two of the 3 specs. Fire is my next endeavor, but I have to say, I really love Frost and Arcane is so powerful, it's going to be hard to spec out of it. The thing to remember with frost is that since it's based off procs now, there's a priority system, rather than an actual rotation. You get a free perma-elemental (Blizzard needs to let us name them!) and since the glyph went byebye, we get to keep Freeze. On top of that, there's a talent that gives you Fingers of Frost procs when you use said spell. Fingers of Frost is one of the two procs you should be watching for when you're casting. I usually start a boss fight off by dropping my mirrors, blowing Icy Veins, and having my elemental freeze the target, giving me two procs to start out with. Immediately after you want to hit your Deep Freeze for some nice burst and then your Ice Lance to use the second stack of the proc. When you have no procs up, you're going to be spamming Frostbolt, but keep an eye on the cooldown of your elemental's Freeze and your own Frost Nova and Cone of Cold. (Note that Cone of Cold and Frost Nova will only give you one stack of FoF, but are still useful.) When you have procs up, your priority is thus: Deep Freeze whenever off cooldown and available through procs, Frostfire Bolt when Brain Freeze is up, including if you have a proc of FoF since it gains the benefits, and Ice Lance last for FoF procs. Otherwise, just keep throwing frostbolts at them and keep an eye out for procs.
In Arcane, you're basically down to one button, which is incredibly depressing. The (de)buff from Arcane Blast no longer benefits any spells other than AB itself, so you'll find yourself spamming a single button from now on, save for the occasional missile proc and maybe an Arcane Barrage when you're moving. The big new thing about Arcane is that you have to keep an eye on your mana to maximize your DPS. Besides that there's a bunch of little fun ways to get some extra spell power, requiring a little more utility from the mage. The talent Invocation comes to mind, requiring you to interrupt someone's spell cast to get an extra boost of damage. Set yourself up a /stopcast /cast Counterspell macro for efficient and quick use of Counterspell. Also, belfs like myself get extra benefit from interrupting with Arcane Torrent, and on top of that it gives us a little mana back. Incanter's Absorption is also more interesting with the combined power of Mage Wards covering all 3 trees of damage for mages. It's a little more limited than it was before it was nerfed, but overall, I feel it's an improvement from post-nerf. I never ever use mana shield for IA, because if you're getting hit with Mana Shield up, you're losing mana and losing DPS. This is a personal preference and other mages may feel differently. The last little tidbit for extra power is Improved Mana Gem. I highly recommend taking this talent and working it into your cooldowns. I have it set up so that for boss fights, I stop by dropping Mirrors and blowing Arcane Power, cast a couple ABs then add the extra damage from a mana gem use to my already increased damage. There are a number of talents in the arcane tree that are situational, but fun; my favorite is Improved Blink. (Blinkzooooooooooom!) Aside from the fun stuff, how do you keep your mana up? I use a combination of all the cooldowns I have: Mana Gem, Evocation, Arcane Torrent, and Mana Potions. If you have a druid friend who's not suffering low mana, maybe he'll toss you an innervate. If he/she has the glyph, they get some mana back too. So I suppose the big questions lies where you throw in your arcane missiles. This is a tricky question, indeed. I've found myself using it in heroics to finish off the last bit of a mob. On boss fights, I use it right before I have to pop Evocation since with t10 2 set it gives you a nice haste boost. It's free and costs you no mana, so use it before switching targets or right after you end up on a new target for a little more DPS. It's also useful right after movement that made your AB stacks drop.
At some point in the future I'll pick up Fire and try and give you guys some good solid info on that. Right now the top two specs are Fire and Arcane, as they have been for a while, but Frost really isn't that far behind. The thing I really love about Frost is that it's fun and you can survive through almost anything. I think that's going to become a heck of a lot more important come Cataclysm, and keep in mind anything could change at this point. Happy Maging!