rift soul breakdown – mage – tier 1, sturdy

It is that time again. Today’s highly scientific categorization method splits out the mage archetypes who can take the most beating. Summoners manage it by taking the beating by proxy, and harbingers manage it by actually being relatively durable for a clothie.

Mages are unique among the callings for having two full blown pet souls. If you combine the two, you can still only maintain one pet at a time – but you do get other synergy bonuses. So that’s fun.

Elementalist

Each point spent in Elementalist increases damage by 0.5% and pet damage by 4%.

Elementalists are a pet class who as their name implies can’t pick a damage type and stick with it. They do the most varied damage of the mage archetypes: earth, air, water, and fire. And they have summons to go with it. This makes them overlap nicely with a large segment of the other souls.

As a zero point class, Elementalists get a Lesser Earth Elemental. This is a basic tank pet that caps out at level 30 like all other basic summons. I find it the least useful summon these days – barely being able to maintain aggro for the summoner in single target pulls, much less tanking for a group or aoe pull. The upgraded version is significantly more reliable.

The lesser elementalist tank pet is technically almost identical to the lesser necromancer tank pet – but it still feels weaker. This is largely due to differences between elementalist and necromancer mechanics – and in differences between a zero point and an eight point ability. I’ll get into this more when we revisit these souls for tier 2.

For zero points, Elementalists also get their primary bolt, Crystalline Missiles, which does straightforward earth damage with a 2 second cast time.

Tier 1 Talents

  • 5 points – Crystalline Missiles cast time reduced to 1.5s (from 2s), mana cost reduced by 30%; Crystalline Missiles and Volcanic Eruption increase pet damage by 10% for 10s
  • 5 points – +5% crit

Volcanic Eruption is a 36 point tree ability.

2 points in the root unlocks Lightning Strike, a very powerful single target attack that does air damage with a 2.5s cast time and 10s cooldown. This ability goes on the top of my single target Stormcaller macro because a crit is so power that it can often one-shot mobs at low level.

4 points in the root unlocks Elemental Forces, a rather unique charge consumer. Instead of acting as a toggle that constantly drains charge while preventing you from generating more, Elemental Forces is a brief buff that costs a flat amount of charge in order to add random elemental damage to up to 5 subsequent attack spells.

This random damage does not trigger Icy Carapace or “Cycle” buffs. These are both lvl 21+ tree mechanics that deal increased damage when you do a specific damage type – so there’s no worry that Elemental Forces will accidentally throw your cycle off or proc the Icy Carapace effect for free.

Harbinger

Each point spent in Harbinger increases damage by 1%.

Harbingers are the Storm Legion soul for mages. Their primary mechanic is their buffs that take the form of summoned weaponry that provide various buffs and augment a set of melee range “Slashing” attacks. To make this feasible, they have high mobility and get a number of survivability boosts over the typical mage.

I commented briefly on the soul’s reveal a year and a half ago, but have only played with it very much recently. It is a ton of fun. Blinking between targets with an energy scythe is a great change of pace from standing back and hurling fireballs.

At zero points, harbingers get two buffs and a slash attack that deals air damage. First is their Lightning Blade, a weapon summon that causes all slash attacks to deal additional air damage. Other attacks only have a 5% chance to proc the weapon’s effect. Second is Lightning Charge, which gives your melee weapon attacks a 5% chance to deal additional air damage.

Tier 1 Talents

  • 5 points – +10% dodge
  • 5 points – +10% spell power

See? Dodge. Less squishy.

2 points in the root unlocks Storm’s Fury, a high damage air slash attack with a 6 second cooldown.

4 points unlocks Eldritch Armor, an armor spell (incompatible with other armors) that gives slashing attacks a 40% chance to reduce the cast time and mana cost of their next ability by 2s and 40% respectively. This makes it feasible to drop primary bolts and other abilities with casting times while in melee. The buff can only proc once every 3 seconds – but since it only has a 40% chance of triggering in the first place, I find that restriction largely redundant.

A tier 5 talent upgrades the proc but does nothing to increase its frequency. You aren’t meant to rely on the buff for the majority of your damage – you still have to drop an average of 2.5 slash attacks per buff proc, but it can really help.

Necromancer

Each point spent in Elementalist increases damage by 0.5% and pet damage by 4%.

Necromancer is the other summoner archetype and does everything you’d expect from a good necromancer class. They are unfortunately limited to one active summon at a time (no zookeeper builds here), but they have some pretty solid pets – and are in my experience the least squishy of all of the less squishy mage types.

As a zero point class, they get Lesser Skeletal Zealot, their first tier melee dps pet (they get their basic tanking pet at level 8). They also get Plague Bolt, a primary bolt that deals death damage with a 2 second cast time. Plague Bolt also deals increased damage based on the number of stacks of Deathly Calling on the target.

Deathly Calling is a debuff applied by necromancer pet abilities that stacks up to 5 times. It does nothing by itself but synergizes with what feels like half of the necromancer spellbook.

Tier 1 Talents

  • 5 points – +5% damage
  • 5 points – Plague Bolt cast time reduced to 1.5s (from 2s), mana cost reduced by 25%

2 points in the root unlocks Necrosis, an instant cast death dot that gets a significant boost from early talents.

4 points in the root unlocks Desecrate. This ability consumes all stacks of Deathly Calling on an enemy in exchange for a good bit of burst damage. It can only be used every 20 seconds, but it takes about that long to build up enough stacks worth popping. You can kind of think of this like a rogue finisher.

And there we have it, 6 mage souls down, 3 to go. Next time, we will discuss the underappreciated mage support souls.

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