This is a flat damage increase, and is probably the one most players will end up taking as it just works in all situations. The low cooldown is interesting, and although Frost is not a cooldown-based spec the spell will still be useful to get large Glacial Spike
casts off. The issue comes with spells that are treated as separate hits and those with different travel times - both of which apply to Flurry
(which flies faster than other spells in our toolkit). Multi-hit spells consume multiple stacks (one cast of Flurry takes three out of four stacks of Radiant Spark), and spells with different travel times (Flurry/Glacial spike) also interfere with the debuff.
In the Shatter combo, Frost Mages cast a Frostbolt/Ebonbolt/Glacial Spike and then immediately follow it with a Brain Freeze
Flurry. If Radiant Spark is on the target, one or two Flurry projectiles will hit, then the Frostbolt/Ebonbolt/Glacial Spike, and then the final Flurry - so the biggest damage increase will not apply to the hardest-hitting spell. Frost has many issues with travel time already, and this simply adds to them. Treating Flurry as a single hit only for the purposes of Radiant Spark
would address these problems.
NB: Casting Radiant Spark - Flurry - Glacial Spike would also ensure that Spike consumes the fourth stack, but this ignores the Shatter combo. If it is the case that this is the highest DPS approach I'd argue that Covenant abilities should play with the spec's core mechanics, not against them.
Unfortunately, considering the general usefulness of Radiant Spark, the Kyrian signature ability is by far the weakest of any Covenant. While others gain shields, targeted teleports and movement speed increases, Summon Steward essentially boils down to Phial of Serenity
: for all intents and purposes a glorified Healthstone. The healing will be nice, and the bleed and disease dispel could come in handy if you have already used Ice Block
; however, the circumstances where Phial will be invaluable will be few and far between compared to other, more universally useful Covenant abilities.Venthyr
This spell will almost never get its full value in PvE, as NPCs rarely cast frequently enough to consume all three stacks, plus you generally should be interrupting their spells anyway. The cast speed slow effect, while useful, makes proccing the damage, root and silence at the end even less likely. In addition it appears to just simply not work on most PvE bosses, and in PvP begs to be dispelled. An extremely disappointing ability with niche uses, which will not even work on the majority of dungeon mobs.
Probably - unfortunately - the star of the Covenant signature abilities. A targeted, 35yd teleport with a 1-minute cooldown will enable many dungeon skips and the ability to avoid raid mechanics. Although its in-combat use will be less important for Mages thanks to Blink/Shimmer, some players in the alpha have even said that not going Venthyr would be effectively trolling other party members in dungeons. This type of movement is almost universally valuable and it's hard to think of an occasion where it'd be useless, so it's a shame to see Mages forced towards our weakest Covenant if we want to be able to use it.Necrolord
This ability has the advantage of having a use in cleave situations, and 10% spell power is never bad. However, the cooldown is too long for a spell that only buffs Frostbolt - which rarely makes up more than 10% of Frost's overall damage. Unless Deathborne applies to other rotational spells, like Flurry
and Ice Lance
, the Necrolords will be an Arcane-only Covenant (Arcane Blast
regularly makes up 70%+ of Arcane's damage, while Fireball
are pure filler spells to generate procs ).
If Deathborne goes live as it is, the Necrolords will be unattractive for the vast majority of Mages who feel that they need to switch specs - which, again, pushes the entire class towards Kyrian for Radiant Spark or Venthyr for the teleport.
This extra self-survivability is fantastic - it's essentially a self-targeted Life Cocoon
- but the 4-second channel and fact that it is tied to Deathborne
is a real downer. This one is hard to justify taking compared to Door of Shadows or Soulshape.Night Fae
Aesthetically this is by far the best-looking Covenant ability, but that’s where the attraction ends. Being forced into melee range is traditionally unhealthy for casters (we’re treated as valid targets for ranged mechanics no matter where we stand), and standing still for six seconds while the spell channels is even worse; Shifting Power takes the worst aspect of Fleshcraft
and amplifies it by 50%. Coupled with the fact that it only ticks every 1.5 second, for three seconds of cooldown reduction per tick (so four ticks), compared to a more frequent and smaller reduction (say, 1 second of reduction every 0.5 seconds), the cost of interrupting the spell becomes even higher. On top of all that, at just 12 seconds of reduction per full channel and a 45-second base cooldown, that is a LOT of time taken out of the Mage rotation.
Teleports are universally valuable, and while it might not be as strong as Door of Shadows
this is a strong second-place option, especially as you can cast while shapeshifted. Three Blinks in the 12-second duration will enable easy repositioning and the ability to dodge some nasty mechanics. The minigame of collecting new forms is also cool! Sadly, again, this is linked to a really poor class ability and we'll likely never see it in action.