The Mage class got a significant overhaul for Mists of Pandaria, but if all goes well, it won't feel like a drastic change. Unlike the Warlock overhaul that involves significant changes in design, the Mage overhaul was instead an attempt to preserve the essence of the existing design while replacing a lot of the machinery under the hood. On the eve of the 5.0.4 release, I wanted to reflect on how the class is evolving, what I think has gone well, and a couple of things that I think can still be improved. This will, of course, be from a PvE perspective.
Sorry it's been so quiet here for so long; my limited game time has mostly been dedicated to testing, improving SimulationCraft, and working on this thing I'm about to show you.
Lhivera's Compendium is the evolution of my old stickied "Non-Obvious Mage Mechanics" thread from the Mage forum. It's not intended to teach you how to play a Mage well — I'm a terrible teacher, other people do that sort of thing much better than I do — but rather to explain how various Mage mechanics and abilities work. It isn't complete, and will probably always be a work in progress, but there's enough there for people to start taking a look at, and there's a form where you can pose questions that aren't answered if there's some Mage mechanic that you don't understand.
Thanks to everyone (there were many of you, some on the forums, some here, some via email) who helped improve the simulation profiles. No sim results can ever be considered "final," of course, but between profile improvements and bug fixes to the sim itself, I think we can say we're zeroing it in pretty nicely. And so I wanted to show you where the Mage simulation numbers stand at present.
I've put in a fair amount of time the last couple of days working with the SimulationCraft devs to get the Mage profiles functional. Not good and optimized, just functional. There's work to be done on all three profiles to improve both the gear configuration and the action priority list.
If you'd like to help, there are a couple of ways you can.
The devs seem to be interested in seeing the theorycrafters get busy on the Mists of Pandaria numbers:
I know that's not easy to look at right now on beta, but it will get easier once A) raids are open, B) we enable mods again, C) more theorycrafters conclude that we aren't fiddling with numbers so much so that their time isn't being wasted. (We aren't fiddling with numbers nearly so much, so maybe that will encourage some theorycrafters). (source)