For those of you interested in the changes Blizzard is making to mages in Cataclysm, this thread is for you!
This will be a work in progress as I only just got into the beta this morning. I will be trying to transfer some of my 80's over so that I can give you more end game changes but for now we started with a worgen fire mage.
As you may have already read, Blizzard has changed the talent system. 41 total talent points, 31 of which must be placed into one 'specialty' before you can use any in another tree. As you can probably imagine this brings signifigant changes to the talents themselves.
I don't have much information to give yet as I've only just reached level 18. What I can tell you is the first change I have noticed...
Arcane Missiles. Arcane Missiles now has a 30% chance to proc after casting any damage spell. The only time you can cast this spell now is when it procs. Either it is a bug or it was meant literally, this 30% chance is calculated immediately after casting, which means that even if the spell you cast misses arcane missiles may still have proc'd. There is a message that pops up on the screen alerting you to the spells availability. So far I have mixed feelings on this new mechanic..
Since arcane missiles is still a channeled spell and since the damage output of the spell is still dependant on the duration of the cast it is beneficial to cast this spell at targets that are still far away from you. This can sometimes be impossible to accomplish if your spell has not proc'd with your first spell cast. If you are receiving damage from an enemy this spell becomes practically useless as each hit reduces the duration of your spell, unless the mob attacking you has less than one missile hit of health remaining as that is likely all you'll be able to get out of the spell.
In the fire tree, one of the first talents you have access to does reduce the pushback you suffer from damage while casting and it may be that if you have all the talents placed the pushback may be reduced 100% but I cannot confirm that yet. Talents are awarded approximately every 2 levels so accumulating them takes a bit longer. I will have to let you know how it turns out. I would also add that there may be talents in the arcane and frost trees that also help resolve this conundrum.
All that said I like the new arcane missiles.. it seems to have undergone a cosmetic upgrade. It sounds and looks nice when cast and having it available randomly brings some diversity to your rotation. But in the early going it's difficult to get great use out of it. On the plus side, once the spell has proc'd it remains available for about 3 minutes or so... (I forget exactly, the point is it sticks around for a while) so if you're attacking mobs in succession it's easy to use against the next enemy.
OK, that's it for today. I'll continue to post to this thread with more changes as I encounter them. I will be creating 2 other mages, frost and arcane, so that I can see how those talent trees have changed as well, as well as trying to copy some of my 80 mages in to see what the end game experience is like. If there is anything specific you would like to hear about or anything you'd like me to try please feel free to let me know. You can post the request here or pm me. I'll do my best to answer any questions you have.
See you soon!