I'd like to discuss mage, and fixing the issues bound to the class. I'm going to discuss the issues as I see them. I think its safe to say I'm the most active mage fighter, and while I've had people tell me to shush up its fine, I've yet to have a single person actively pick mage over another more useful combat class and prove to me that it can actually work in today's game. I'm going to break the issues down into sections, I'll start with mechanics.
The Mage's crystal is a fantastic, awesome, super fun, nifty CONCEPT. In practice, its a horrible gating system of grief. For those of you unsure how it works, I'll give some basic info.
-The crystal works on an eight second tick system.
-The crystal has five charges.
-The crystal charges once every tick.
-The crystal does not stay with you. If you move rooms, it will move to you during the tick.
-When moving, the tick is wasted for building charges.
-The crystal has a command that can instantly make it appear in your room, this eats a charge.
-The crystal has a command to build charges at the cost of health and mana. AB CRYSTALBINDING CHARGE. Long story short, every charge costs you 10% max mana. (this might be 8%, the file could be outdated).
That's how it works in a nutshell. Its an interesting gating concept. It is also core of mage combat. And here is why it is broken:
-Being without your crystal sets you back a lot. This means, if someone does something as simple as leaving the room, they instantly not only gain all the normal benefits of leaving, but also punish the mage.
----You have the following choices when chasing. A) Instantly call the crystal to you. Using 1 charge(8% mana).
Let it lag behind, being up to eight seconds late to the renewed combat AND costing a recharge tick. This option can compound the more you chase, with an infinite time frame of ticks being used for movement instead of recharging.
-Owning artifacts that improve your max mana -punishes- you.
----One crystal charge costs me 53 mana. In comparison, using the mirroring ability only nets me 42 mana. But this is more lopsided than it looks because mirror also COSTS a charge. So in effect our ability to regain mana in combat actually costs me 11 mana. I gain nothing.
-Numerous abilities are tied to the core mechanic because of...flavour I guess? Things that make no sense, see mirroring.
The Mage core mechanic punishes the mage in a way that no other class I'm aware of is punished. And the power it returns is honestly nothing of note. It does things many other classes are able to just plain do. In the recent tweak of mage (that made attunement non-curable), mage was changed to require much faster usage of charges in combat. This is more true for water than fire, but fire is utterly broken right now. Water REQUIRES these charges every single attack to be combat capable. The only other option is to get going, and then a long long time stalling for charges, all the while having zero progression on your offense and really bad defenses to handle stalling. If mage is not supposed to be so reliant on using charges every single round, then it needs fixing in that regard. Otherwise, it needs fixing in charge costs and access.
-First, foremost, and the largest request of any mage you'll speak to who's played the class for more than a week. Please, please, please, please scale crystal chasing. Its flavour that punishes the mage, there is no other class so heavily abused for flavour. Have how long it takes for the crystal to follow the mage scale based on crystalbinding knowledge. Let the early students enjoy the romantic fun of having a crystal chase them around. At transcendent, the core of the class needs to move with the class at no cost. The "flavour" gets old fast. Most mages I know (combat or not) end up gagging the line. Several people who hunt with us, gag it as well. There is absolutely zero actual reason for the core of the class to work like it does right now in regards to movement.
-Change the crystal tick from 8 to 5. This wouldn't effect fire much if at all, should it ever work again, but will seriously help water not kill itself.
-Change the charge cost from 8% max mana to 4%. Maybe this ends up being too little, and can be moved up at a later date. I don't know. But I hate that owning artifacts punishes me in renewing my core requirements.
--Change charge cost to be a flat 35 mana.
-Change skills such as mirroring to not require charges to cast. Also consider the wreathe spells.
Which brings us to our SECOND gating mechanic:
For those of you not sure exactly how it works
-Attunement is tied to the mage. You can have as much as you want on as many targets as you want, but other mages cannot use or see it. They have their own counters.
-Fire cancels water, water cancels fire. Air cancels earth, earth cancels air.
-You can have up to 5 attunement per element on a target, limited by the above rule.
This is your basic build and receive gate mechanic. In theory, you build it up on someone at the expense of a slower offense, and then cash in when your target is prepped. The problem is how liberally its applied throughout the class to the most random of skills. If a mage uses its secondary attacks to build attunement on you, it's giving up half to a third of its offense, to gain one stack. Base mage spell speed is 3.2 seconds. Wise makes this faster, so lets say every 2.75 seconds a mage gets to attack. It's giving up half to a third of that offensive round to build a SINGLE element attunement. Which, in and of itself is fine, if there's a payout.
The problem is that most skills that require attunement, don't pay out. They do very basic things, things offered to other classes for zero cost, or mana cost. It seems thrown onto skills willy-nilly, making some of them actually not worth the time. See SCOURGE in pyroglacia. A nearly transcendent skill that in actual combat can't be used due to the cost and setback it applies to your attunement. And I'll explain how. You build five fire. This costs at BEST 3 attack rounds. If you do it this way, it costs 2 charges, and during this time you're doing absolutely nothing else. So, not a realistic option unless you're going for speed. More realistically, it takes five rounds. So lets say 14 seconds. For 14 seconds of lack-luster offense, zero defense, you now get to...negate the frost elixir. But it gets worse. This removed all fire attunement in the process. As the only reason to do this is to cast lavablast, you need that attunement back. And now you need damage. You have 25 seconds to do it. But you're already down 5 charges, and your enemy has 14 seconds of their offense in progression. You must in 25 seconds apply enough attunement, apply firecircle, force attunement to 5, and then lavablast. If you're extremely lucky you can do this, but your opponent will almost always have killed you at this point. There are many other skills that have attunement attached for no reason, or in bad ways. And very often, offer limited reward.
-Change attunement to a balance and eq free application system that doesn't eat up a spell slot. Many other classes have such mechanics going on, and it would greatly improve viability of many mage skills.
---Change the primary application of attunement(heat, spray, wind, tremors) to not set the mage back when used. Example: Give ramping effects to the spells that increase as attunement does.
------Heat: 1a, nothing. 2a, ignite target. 3a, ignite target, dizzy. ecta, ecta
-Go through each skill with a group of people who actually have extended experience on mage and fix the attunement/skill interaction. Example: Scourge requires five stacks, but does not remove them when cast.
-Remove it from all skills that don't need it. Keep it for focused skills such as lavablast, decompose, ecta. Keep it purely as a time bomb mechanic
Mage suffers again from 'flavour' punishment when it comes to range. Mage is line of sight, has terrible spell choices for actual use, and most frustratingly enough, requires a reflection to be active. Extremely frustrating story short, a line of sight trade with a mage is utterly boring for both sides. Nothing happens. The mage is stuck casting reflection, and the foe is stuck being annoyed. But it gets worse in team fights. Mage can literally do absolutely nothing. Other ranged classes at least have a choice. They can defend, or attack while taking damage from focus. Mage -cannot- if being attacked at range under any circumstances. They aren't allowed that option.
-First, revamp spell selection for mage. They're currently terrible, several of them require attunement to be used. Which, you can actually apply air attunement they need. But what you're actually doing is wasting 2-3 attacks applying nothing but attunement. Just to attack once, at subpar damage with stupid afflictions, just to go back to doing attunement (another example of attunement being required for no reason). One gives a single affliction that doesn't even do anything when applied. They're just..really bad options. If you're going to stick something behind such a huge reflection gateway, they need to be BETTER than non-gated attacks. Not worse.
-Remove the reflection requirement. Its cool sounding in theory, but in practice is just bad. For both the mage and their opponent. Nobody wins, everyone hates it, its bad.
-Change mage range from line of sight, to local area. Or a spread of local rooms. 5 wide or something. Magick as a circle has horrible ranged options. The only one is druid, which is ignored by being in a tree(lol) or flying. Its a very real option to turn mage into the circle's premier ranged option. Druid is -fantastic- at local area combat. Why not shift ranged to another class, and expand Magick's combat viable classes to something outside of RG or Druid in the process?
Mage is perhaps the absolutely weakest class in the game when it comes to defenses. It could be argued that hunter is in a similar boat, but mage is really bad. Mage is a glass cannon that does less damage than most of the tanks in today's game. Please note that most successful classes currently in combat today have 4-6 of these attributes.
Mage has Zero:
-Passive defensive affliction
-Ability to take a hit
For a class that is so much slower, and more involved, than most of the strong classes these days, mage simply can't handle the damage while building to its goals. Its also terrible at containment, which is sad considering how many tools it has. For them all to be so bad, or so easily countered, is a problem.
-Change the robes skill to require ringmail, have it give boosted ringmail defensive stats
-Mage Regenerate is the absolutely ONLY class regenerate that turns off the only time it's actually needed. Either A) Remove the charge requirement for this skill to function or
change there requirement to 1 charge instead of 5
-New Skill: ManaShield - By giving up a portion of your mental might, you are able to create a shield around yourself reduce incoming damage. While active, you will lose 20% of your maximum mana, but gain 15% damage reduction from all sources. (This will also lessen the current punishment handed to mage for buying mana increasing artifacts.)
-The Crystalbinding Capstone, is terrible. At least the previous version gave us a way to counter our intense mana problems, and activate some health regen to counter crystal charging costs. The extremely short duration, and low DR of the new version makes it frustrating at best.
--Either version needs to be activatable while off balance/eq/hindered.
-Some sort of passive curing OR hindering afflictions.
Currently, fire is basically impossible to pull off in combat. Its not actually impossible, but it does require good ping, and luck. It also due to the nature of the no damage charge build spam rounds you're trying to fit in, actually does crappy damage.
Water is a hodgepodge of interesting and frustrating. The possible worst part is how you basically help kill yourself because of charge costs. I'm aware of any other affliction class with such costs. Furthermore, the afflictions you have access to in correlation to the end goal is just....messy. It works, technically, but its hard to make work because of the added tax of needing to fit attunement in there somewhere. You have to hit fast fast fast because well, mage can't take the hit. But my absolute biggest issue with water is the finisher. The finisher does -drummroll- damage! Its basically a less reliable, higher requirement hunter kill path. Slower too.
-The firecircle change needs to be reverted so that fire actually has a chance of working. It was already hit or miss before the change, its not viable now.
--Could alternately change lavablast to only require 4 charges to cast.
-Firecircle could possibly make the afflicted foe do less damage to you, as a reward for the nearly zero affliction attack path fire takes, giving them some breathing room for reaching the half way point. Just an option from the normal 'give the class a way to hinder healing' option that seems tossed around too much.
-Water should be a instant kill pathway. It is extremely NOT newbie friendly, requires a pretty good affliction tracker, and should give a different return than fire. Let fire be the damage time bomb, let water be the affliction time bomb. Or something else, but it doesn't need to be damage.
Capstones, or transcendent skills, are the hallmark skills of a class. They should give impressive defensive, offensive, or utility power to a class as well as highlight what it is that class is known for. Mage doesn't have a single capstone of note. Not one. It should be noted that all three skills just under capstone are ALSO so bad that they're never used. Expansion, Scourge, Earthspirit.
-Pyroglacia's Capstone is Submersion: A crappy cleave
-Terratheria's Capstone is Windbrace: A really, really, really bad skill
-Crystalbinding's Capstone is Overtune: A skill that falls short of the mark, but at least it's aiming for something.
-Submersion shouldn't be a trans skill, pure and simple. It should be lower in the tree. Pyro's capstone should be elemental forms. It should be similar to animate, giving a choice of passives that give minor boosts to either stats or casting one element spell school. IE: Earth +2 con, Fire all fire spells ignite, anytime one of your targets with at least 1 fire attunement takes damage from being 'set on fire' they gain 1 fire attunement. Ecta, ecta whatever. Small useful buffs to fix problems the class has.
-Overtune could be reverted back to its previous form, and be allowed to be activated while off balance/eq/while afflicted and it'd be a fine utility capstone.
-Windbrace ....is so bad. Its sad. Lets go through windbrace step by step.
---Its a channeled cast, thus it can be interrupted.
---In addition to the channel, it then has a 4.2 second eq time cost. This actually extends past the time it takes to channel the skill
---It has a 20 second limit. But because of the 4.2 second eq cost, this is actually closer to 18 seconds.
---It has a minute cooldown.
---You are effected by things like "cannot move that fast" and -drum roll- trenches!
Windbrace doesn't need the eq cost to be longer than the channel time. Nor does it need such a extremely short duration. Nor does it need the "cooldown". This skill has no attack or interaction abilities, and yet costs far more than blackwind (Which it appears modeled after), which I've been told people can maintain for upwards of a dozen or more minutes, and instantly return to if they're forced out of it. You can make it simply channeled, give it a minute duration, and call it a day. It'd still be a crappy version of blackwind/phase.
Mage has a lot of promise, but as it is right now doesn't quite 'click' exactly. It has less damage than many of the more recently redone classes, while being one of the absolutely softest in the game. Its fire path was destroyed, its water path is clunky and extremely dependent on coding (Mage needs fire fixed to be a touch more newbie friendly). Its core mechanic NEEDS to be changed to always be with the mage at trans skill level. Or all levels, but it needs to stay with the mage for combat. Mage needs to either not be triple gated (charges, attunement, mana) or the gating needs to unlock much better returns.
I play mage, because I -want the right- to be play a mage. But the first thing I ask people who join the circle, or join the game, is if they have any aspirations of combat. If they say yes, I tell to change class, mage isn't viable. And it isn't. It's close, just a few changes from above could put it there, but its not right now. And anyone who claims otherwise, is sitting in another class never actually using mage for any real length of time, because anything it can do, other classes do FAR better. It doesn't need an overhaul like Wardancer got, but it could use some QoL updates, and some focus in combat goals.