Hello, this is Appits, your friendly neighborhood guildie mage. In response to people asking for help for their mages, lowbie alts and raiders alike, I have decided to post a general guide posting the information I have regarding the mage class- as of Patch 4.1 in the Cataclysm Expansion.
I've been in the guild for a good while, though usually as a retribution paladin through wrath and also currently in cataclysm. I leveled my mage and started raiding on my mage early in the release of the expansion and have since then done some extensive experimentation with all three specs with different gear and itemization to obtain a good overview of the mage in general.
Now, before the start of the guide there are a couple things Id like to point out so its time for a handy dandy disclaimer.
*Disclaimer- The information in this guide is a collective stockpile of information I have gathered/figured out through the process of leveling and raiding on my own mage. As such, many things are in fact, an opinion. Although I have done my fair share of browsing forums and such I will TRY to state whether info came from somewhere such as Elitist Jerks as well as posting links, but keep in mind, again: ALL INFORMATION HERE IS EITHER PERSONAL OPINION OR INFORMATION THAT IS AND HAS BEEN SHARED THROUGH VAARIOUS SITES ON THE INTERNET- I DO NOT CLAIM ANY INFORMATION AS STRICTLY MINE. So on that note, feel perfectly free to disagree with anything in the guide and feel free to comment, the only thing I ask is to be RESPECTFUL and PROFESSIONAL.
To be, or Not to be...(A Mage)
The first thing you have to do when you finally purchase your copy of world of warcraft, install it, and wait for your computer download all the patches, is to create your character. All of the classes have various pros and cons and are all satisfying to play in their own regards, this is a guide for mages, and so I will forego explaining details about the other classes and focus on the mage.
- Satisfying leveling experience through quests, dungeons and pvp.
- Mages are a top tier dps class and are consistently among the highest members of a recount chart.
- Three dps specs- this means there are 3 differeent ways to dps respectably on your mage and all the specs are quite entertaining and functional in their own fashion.
- Ranged dps- You get to stand far away and deal large amounts of damage to enemies from a distance. Being a ranged dps TYPICALLY means you take less damage than those who hve to stand in melee and it allows you dont have to worry about "run time" trying to chase down mobile enemies as much as a melee combatant would.
- Versatility- Mages have great CC (Crowd-Control) abilities in addition to their dps, and are one of two classes that have a hero/bloodlust, making them a well recieved member in any group.
Cloth Armor- You can only wear cloth armor and as such you take a fair bit more damage from attacks (especially physical attacks) than the mor eheavily armored classes such as paladins or warriors. In other words you are NOT a tank- kill things from a good distance away.
-Mana pool- This isnt really a bad thing persay, but it is something you MUST keep an eye on. If you run out of mana, you are no longer a mage, but cannon fodder.
- Lack of role versatility- You are a mage, you do damage. Don't expect to be the healer or the tank.
So now you have decided to make a mage, but what race should you be? All of the races can be a mage currently with the exception of Tauren. Though if you are reading this guide it is likely you are a member of this guild which is currently on alliance side. So I shall explain only the alliance races. Honestly, I would say that you should pick whatever race you want to be, whether it is purely anesthetic or you see racial abilities that interest you.
Additional spirit- which is completely useless to mages. There was a time when spirit helped slightly in mana regen, but it is of no use to us at all anymore.
10% bonus to reputation gains: This means rep grinds that you do later in the game will suck 10% less.
Increased expertise from maces and swords: This is useless to you as a mage as expertise is a melee stat and it's not optimal to melee on a mage. At all.
Every Man for Himself: a racial CD that removes speed-altering and trapping effects. This has primary pvp uses but even in pve this can be a good tool if used correctly.
Stoneskin: racial CD that removes poisons and bleeds as well as providing a healthy chunk of damage reduction for a short time. This again, is mainly a pvp ability but it can help keep you alive should things get rough.
Increased critical strike with guns: wasted in that mages cant equip guns.
Resistance to frost damage: a relatively unimportant bonus, but it means you take a fairly negligible amount less frost damage than other races would.
Additional Arcaheology fragments: If you do archaeology on your mage being a dwarf would help you find more fragments and hence level archaeology a little faster than others potentially.
Additional expertise with maces: Again, you dont care about expertise.
Shadowmeld: Racial CD that causes the player to turn "invisible" as long as they stand still, this can potentially save you from sticky situations but it isnt a HUGE deal personally.
More difficult to hit: This is something like 1% dodge I think, again you shouldnt be in melee very much so this isn't a great benefit.
wisp form while dead: if you find yourself dying alot this used to be pretty decent. But now with guild perks this has become useless.
Resistant to Nature damage: See frost damage resistance for dwarves.
Faster movement while stealthed: Useless for mages.
Escape Artist: Racial CD that can free you from speed altering effects- again- mainly pvp uses but it CAN be helpful in pve.
Expansive mind: A 5% increase to the size of your total mana pool? Yes, please.
Resistance to Arcane damage: See above.
Engineering skill increased: If you plan on leveling Engineering, which I personally think is a great profession, then this is great.
Expertise from swords and daggers is useless for you as a mage.
Jewelcrafting Skill increase; JC is a great profession, if you plan on leveling it this isnt bad to have.
May heal self or other by a small amount over time: This is a racial CD heal spell. It's pretty weak and has little use.
Chance to hit with melee and spells increased: +1% to hit with spells? You need 17% to reach hit cap as a caster. Mages arent as lucky as certain other classes to get extra hit rating from spirit like shadow priests, boomkins, and elemental Shammies, so any help on your hit chance, even if it's 1% is a good thing to have.
Resistant to shadow damage: See above, though this one might be SLIGHTLY more useful than the others considering how many things do shadow damage.
Darkflight: Racial CD sprint? Yes this is good.
Critical chance inreased: +1% critical chance is great.
Skinning skill and speed increased. This is ok for leveling skinning and winning those ever-common skinning speed contests. (Being sarcastic)
Once you have decided on what race you wish to be you will be on your way to becoming a mage. You do what you vant to do and quest, learn and enjoy the game to level 10. At level 10 you can finally decide what specialzation you wish to be!
There are three mage specs that you should familiarize one self with, Arcane, Fire, and Frost. The three specs are different in how they function but you should choose which you happen to think you like the best. You can always go and change it later if you dont like it and the best way to get good with any particular spec is to actually play it and learn it on your own so I wont go into detail about what talents you should choose or anything like that for leveling. I will, however give a very brief overview of the specs for your leveling needs. Either way enjoy, because all three specs are fun to level in and are useful.
Arcane: A master of all things arcane with the ability to discharge blasts of arcane energy to hamper and dispatch enemies. This spec takes a little while to "grow" into its better talents but once it does it is a very nice spec to level in capable of huge burst damage and slows, though it is slightly more vulnerable to multi mob pulls than the other specs.
Fire If it exists it can be burned. Some critics may say that any infant with a match could light someone on fire but as a fire mage you have the control over flame to cause destruction as you see fit. This spec too takes a little while to grow into being very strong, but even then it can do great single target dps as well as great area of effect dps. This spec seems to not have as much survivability as the other specs due to the lack of a nigh constant slowing effect from it's primary spells but it does enough damage and has enough mobility to make up for it.
Frost From a chill that reduces the advance of your enemies to a crawl to freezing them completely in an ice cube, frost is widely considered to be the best spec for leveling. It does good single target dps, early game it does good aoe. Terrific survival because it's main spells slow and Frost mages have the most ability to cc mobs as well as a pet that can cc mobs and do damage as well in the form of a water elemental.
Lets fast forward, so you have finally hit 85 and are ready to delve into the PVE or PVP aspect of the game head-on. Here is where you must make important decisions regarding your mage. I will discuss PVE, but I will leave PVP alone for now as I dont pvp much, I may come in later and add a pvp part but not right now.
Dragons, Two-Headed Ogres and Elementals, oh my!
The first concern of yours should be on how to get gear. Naturally the most common ways to do this is to run dungeons killing bosses and getting loot. There are other ways to do this as well. Either way you do it your first priority should be getting an i-lvl of 329 so you can run heroic dungeons. You can do this through 1) Questing 2) Loot drops 3) Craftables and 4) Reputation rewards.
Questing and Loot drops are self-explanitory they are equipment that randomly drops from instances or world mobs and bosses and from completeling quests. The only craftables that would be useful to you as a mage are craftables from Tailoring, a beginner spell-caster weapon from Blacksmithing and One of your BiS trinkets can be made by an Inscriptionist.
A Tailor can make you epic-quality pants and belts if given the proper mats (ALOT of emberilk cloth and volatiles) and these pants and belts are suitable to raid in and I highly suggest working towards them. Tailors also make your pant enchants. http://wowalism.com/wow-professions/wow-all-tailoring-recipes.html Here is a list of all tailoring patterns take special notice of the Dreamless Belt, Breeches of Mended Nightmares and the Flame-Ascended Pantaloons.
A Blacksmith can possibly help you on creating a spellcasting dagger, and thats probably about it.
Inscription can make darkmoon cards. As a mage, regardless of your spec, look into the Ember cards. The Volcano Deck trinket is both easily attainable through the AH or by farming and it is a BiS trinket.
Enchanting allows you quick access to the various enchants you'll need, you'll be loved by groups in roics and raids alike so you can DE things, and you'll be able to put nice int enchants on your rings.
Engineering- The rocket-boost belt and the Synapse Springs for your hands are terrific additions but the real catch is the Engineering goggles that are not only epic but easily itemized for your spec of choice through easily-attainable cogs. http://www.wowhead.com/item=59449/lightweight-bio-optic-killshades The only catch for this is that you have to be an engineer and make these things yourself.
If you are a jewelcrafter you can make 3 ultra-high caliber gems for yourself which add some more stats for your buck.
A Blacksmith can add more sockets to their gear to make room for more gems.
A leatherworker can put a potent Int embossment on their wrists.
Tailors can easily make high grade pant enchants for themselves as well as craft some of their own gear. They can also put a nice cloak enchant in their own cloaks.
Herbalism and skinning are the only gathering profs that would provide a nebeficial, albeit very small, effect to PVE dps. Herbalism provides you with Lifeblood that heals you for a small amount and gives you a small haste buff for a short time on a 2 min CD. Skining will increase your critical strike chance by a small amount passively. Neither of thee 2 benefits are very large but they do provide a benefit as well as allow you to gather things like herbs or leather.
Mining has no benefit asides from slightly increased stamina and the ability to mine ore.
Putting the matter of gear and stat weighting aside its first important to take another look back at the three specs now that you are 85 and looking to raid. I shall grade the specs on ultiple aspects on a scale of 1-5 1 is low and 5 is highest. (I do realize Elitist Jerks has something similar to this on their site but I think it may be outdated and I have a slightly different view on the specs)
Single-Target DPS: (5) Arcane single target dps is both very high while enjoying the benefit of being VERY bursty and pretty maintainable and mana efficient to boot. The CD's in Arcane are also potentially the most useful CDs available to the mage class and all this makes arcane an extremely strong spec- especially after the recent patch buffed it considerably.
AB- Arcane Blast AM- Arcane Missle PoM- Presence of Mind
AP- Arcane Power AE- Arcane Explosion
Arcane Single target- First of all, ideally you'd start with 2 charges of arcane potency and all CDs available. The charges of arcane potency can be forced if you have a 1 min wait span before the boss pull by simply using presence of mind and then either right clicking it off or using it to recharge your mana gem or such.
Burn: AB, AB, AB, AB, PoM, AB, [Activate Trinkets, AP, Mirror Images and use a mana gem charge, a macro can be useful here.] Spam AB until AP duration runs out, Fire orb(I like doing this on a dummy to ensure that the data timer doesnt reset while Im evocating I havnt decided if this is worthwhile in an actual raid fight or not), Evocate to full mana.
Mana Neutral: AB, AB, AB, (AB), AM
*note* Usually, one can squeeze out about 3 AB's and then AM it off to keep a mana neutral or even a regenerative phase. However, with raid buffs or even based on just how much gear you have your mana regen may be such as you can tack a 4th AB on at the end before breaking the stacks and still keep a mana neutral rotation. Also keep in mind that a very watchful eye needs to be kept on your mana. There are many trinkets and speccial buffs that temporarily raise your Int and therefore your mana, so it is a very good idea to keep in mind what your maximum mana is before the fight starts and with all of your buffs. Keep in mind that any mana you have that is above your usual mana maximum is excess mana that will go away after the buff or proc ends. So if you dont burn that mana its mana wasted. So if you see yourself with an abnormally large stockpile of mana also feel free to add on another AB or two on your rotation to burn off excess mana and increase your dps.
You enter the burn phase under 1- of- 3 conditions.
1)At or near the start the fight (naturally CD's should be available here, and depending on your tanks and your gear you may want to either hold off a few seconds before even starting your attack or even going through a whole 4 AB, AM rotation once before doing a burn phase.)
2)whenever your CD's are up, especially your evocation and your mana gem.
3) when the boss gets low on hp and is going to die soon.
4 (kinda)- This should really fit into the three rules above and maybe it goes without saying, but by all means if you can go into a burn phase during hero, its a great benefit as its more super-charged AB's you are getting off in that time span.
If one of the three above qualifiations are not true, you enter the mana neutral phase. Its really that simple.
PoM- this is one CD that can be used situationally. This can help you ease into or out of a movement phase, to try to build up your chances for crits going into a burn phase or to refresh your chaarges on your mana gem should you find you are out.
Aoe DPS: (2) Im giving arcane aoe a mixed score here. Arcane explosion is much more effective since the patch but it does have a build up time to build charges with arcane blast before you can even start aoeing with maximum potential. To the point that it may just be more beneficial to just use a singletarget approach instead of even trying to aoe at times. Also, Arcane explosion is sadly a self-centered AOE which pretty much goes against everything you have learned so far as a mage and not standing in melee range. This makes it's aoe very useless in certain raid boss encounters and the backup aoe in blizzard is much stronger than in previous cataclysm patcehs for sure, but it still feels very weak.
Arcane aoe (in melee) with mobs with a small amont of hp.
AP, Flamestrike, (AE spam If specced, if not, Blizzard), refreshing the flame strike dot as needed.
Arcane aoe (in melee) with mobs that have a bigger amount of hp.
First AB to 4 charges, then :AP, AE, AE, AE, AB(refreses the stacks) If you are glyphed into improved arcane explosion, you may be able to get a 4th AE off before refreshing the AB stacks but Im not sure.
Keep in mind this i still optimal damage as far as aoe goes for arcane, but it w ill be FAR less mana efficient that its flamestrike-blizzard companion if you are not specced into it.
Arcane aoe (ranged): AP, Flamestrike, Blizzard, (Refresh the flamestrike DoT as needed)
Mobility: (2) The basic principal of arcane dps is to stand there and spam Arcane blast to 4 stacks and then arcane missle it off, in the very VERY basic principal of things. If you have to be on the move constantly that hurts your dps in this spec. Granted you have a cooldown in Presence of mind to be able to cast arcane blast as a no cast time one every minute and you have arcane barrage. But the simple fact is that arcane barrage is nowhere near as potent as arcane blast or what arcane missle usually is and The instant arcane blast can only come once every minute and the
arcane barrage, as said, is lacking in damage as compared to other options as well as being on something like a 4 second CD. In short, any time you are on the move is a time you basically arent dpsing in full potential and its not good. A good way to attempt to fix this is to try to limit yourself to short spurts of movement between GCDs of spell casts when possible and make good use of blink if you have to move a considerable distance.
Survivability: (4) There is a talent that you CAN take to reduce the damage you take by up to 6% you still have Iceblock, you still have mirror image and if you took the afore-mentioned talent your Invisibility takes effect quicker than usual being a more effective aggro-dump/"Everybody is about to die Im out of here!" button. Not to mention that you should be using Mana Shield and/or mage ward pretty often to try to take full advantage of incanter's absorption. You are still a clothy though, no tanking.
Ease of Play: (5) Ok, lets not beat around the bush on this one. The concept of this spec is very simple. Simple rotation, EXTREMELY mana efficient from all the changes made since the beginning of cataclysm, and a mastery that now takes full advantage of that. Not to mention your main nuke potentially hits harder than about anything else in game and your CD's are very short and very effective and you have many many ways to increase your damage output just by properly using some of your classes abilities like Counterspell, Mana shield and Mage ward.
Single-target DPS: (4) Fire can be bursty and it has a high damage output and the continual ticking of dots on the boss means you are always doing damage, something I love. However, it can be very RNG. If you do not get good, conistent crits or plentiful HS procs, your dps will suffer.
a hard-cast Pyroblast, LB, Fb/Ffb spam. (Combust after a strong crit with dots ticking on the target) Flame orb on CD.
Some notes on Fires single-target dps:
1) You refresh LB everytime after it explodes. If you refresh LB before it explodes you lose dps.
2) Should your critical mass debuff come in danger of falling off use a scorch to refresh it, unless you got a HS proc on the way, both scorch and Pyroblast refresh Critical mass.
3) Keep this in mind about you Combust CD: NEVER EVER use it without a hard ticking Ignite DoT at the VERY LEAST on your target. you only get Combust every 2 min, make it count.
4) Flame orb on CD? Yes use flame orb on CD. It does good damage for a nigh negligible mana cost. The only exception to this rule is this: If you have combust available and are waiting for a big ignite proc to use it. Flame orb still causes ignite on crits against npc's. Obviously, a flame orb crit is far weaker than a fireball crit. On this strange ignite proc from Flame orb- it doesnt happen on a test dummy, as neither does the impact talent. This may be a glitch but I've heard no word on this. I shall post more info as it comes available.
5) It is important, far more so in fire than even in the other specs to pay attention when trinkets proc and such. As most of these procs are going to increase the damage your spells do and potentially your chance to crit slightly. If you are waiting on a combust and you see your trinket and enchants proc, you have a good chance of seeing a stronger crit than normal- something optimal for combustion. Likewise if it has been a while since you've noticed your bonuses proc it may be worthwhile to hold on to your combustion for a moment or two longer to try to fish for those procs. As is the very nature of the fire spec, it can be risky and can backfire somewhat if you dont get lucky, but this shows anoticeable increase in dps.
Now your mana pool SHOULD be able to maintain the rotation above, but if you run into trouble, remember mana gems and evocation are your friends. It pays to think like an arcane mage. You should go ahead and use a mana gem when the mana gain from one would put you back to full and another mana gem charge as soon as it is available, unless you are full on mana or are in the middle of a burn phase in which you dont have the danger of going OOM. You can also feel free to weave a scorch or two in between Fb/Ffb spam to ease your mana consumption if you find yourself struggling.
Aoe DPS: (5) Among the best aoe classes/specs in the game. The aoe does great damage. The dots and big damage CD of this spec can be spread to huge groups of monsters for big damage and the the aoe it self is a "cast at this area" type that is castable while on the move and again, does good damage. Fire is a viable spec for any fight- it does great single target and multi-target dps.
Fire Aoe (Targets with small amouts of hp): Bw, Fs Spam
Fire Aoe (Moderate hp): LB 3 targets, Bw, Fs Spam, refreshing LB on your main target and then Using Imp to spread it should LB fall off before they are all dead.
Fire Aoe (High hp): Pyroblast main target, LB main target, [If your pyroblast crits use combustm if thts not the case make the judgment call, based on how much hp your targets have left to either fish for crits with fireball or proceed onto the next step], [Use Imp to spread the dots to all nearby targets] If no Imp proc is present use Bw and then Fs spam until you get a proc.- after the duration of your first initial LB expires, follow the rotation for Moderate HP targets or low hp targets based on remaining mob size and health.
Mobility: (5) Scorch can be cast while on the move with the proper speccing. HS procs allow Pyroblast to be cast on the move. You can apply LB on the move. You can aoe on the move. I think this adds up to a 5 in my book.
*Remember, since you can cast and do dps so well in fire on the move, save your blink for emergencies or travel over long distances and simply use scorch as you move.*
Survivability: (4) You still have Iceblock and Mirror image. Invisibility has a short vamp up time but it's still very effective. The big kicker here is the Cauterize talent. This may LOOK like a pvp talent but this is terrific for raiding as well. It has a short internal CD of 1 minute it can save you from death if a healer doesnt quite get to you in time or something happens out of your control or if for some reason you just screw up. It can also be used aggressively to increase dps by ignoring a mechanic that would send everybody else running for cover, though it may not be worthwhile to stress out your healers by doing this.
*After a cauterize always try to iceblock to get rid of the cauterize DoT. If you cant do that then Evocate to keep the DoT from killing you. Both of these also help out your healers.
Ease of Play; (3.5) Mixed opinions on this one. Fire spec seems to be very fickle. The difference in your dps between getting good crits and getting a good number of procs and not getting them is huge. My dps in this spec fluctuates and it can be both greatly rewarding when the lucky crits and procs come and at times very frustrating when they dont. Other than that its not a very difficult rotation to figure out for single target or aoe you have to pay attention to dots like LB and Ignite and and any procs you get from enchants and trinkets or such. Thats about it really. Best thing about this spec is that it always has a spot in a raid group pretty much regardless of the fight because of single target and aoe potential.
Single-target DPS: (3) Frost can be pretty bursty but not to the extent of Fire or Arcane. It seems to maintain dps pretty well though. Sadly, it feels that this is the worst performance out of the three specs in this category. It had potential before Deep freeze and baseline mastery for frost got nerfed down by a ton, but it just hasnt been the same since. Deep-freeze still hits for a large amount- but between a 20% damage reduction AND mastery being nearly wiped off the plate its a shadow of what it was and it really hurts frost spec. Ice lance and the Frostfire bolt procs hit hard and frostbolt is a quick and hardhitting cast but it's still lacking. The biggest thing that aggravates me in this spec is the fact that really only frostbolt has a cast time so it feels like you dont get much of a benefit from heroism in this spec a compared to others.
Single Target Frost: (while simultaneously using your Elemental's freeze on the target) Pop all of your CD's except for Cold Snap, Deepfreeze, Cold snap, Deep freeze, Now you spam Frost bolt while: You use Ice lance on all available Fingers of Frost charges, You use any Frostfire bolt procs during Fingers of Frost Procs, Use Deep Freeze on CD, Use Frostfire Orb on CD, Use your Icy Veins on CD unless a Frostfire Orb is currently out, then wait for it to run its course THEN use Icy Veins. Use yoru water elemental's freeze any times its not on CD and that you dont already have Finger of Frost charges up.
*Be knowledgable about your water Elemental and where it is, It's range on Freeze is such that it can be standing close enough to cast waterbolt but not close enough to cast freeze on the desired Target, whoch can be very frustrating and time wasting as you have to reposition your pet. A way to try to avoid this is to place your pet in a desireable location where it should be able to reah with freeze anywhere the boss may be located during the course of the fight before it starts, or at the beginning of the fight should this not be possible.
Aoe DPS:(2) with the recent buffs to aoe daamage aside for not only blizzard but other classes aoe's as well it feels like blizzard is probably the weakest aoe in the game now. Cone of cold is decent but it has the same issue as arcane explosion and having to be is some proximity to melee for it to be useful and it has a CD on it of a couple seconds. Either way, frost aoe on a whole certainly seems lackluster compared to other classes and specs.
Frost Aoe dps (Melee)- *Note- I havnt tried this since the new patch so I imagine this is outdated, but it used to be..*
*Remember to simultaneously try to use your elemental's freeze to coax crits on your aoe.*
Mobility: (3) Really the only spell you have to stand still for is Frostbolt and even then thats a quick cast. with good timing and CD management frost can be as mobile as needed and then some during fights, but they dont have the same mobility as say, fire. Also your pet can be a potential pain in the neck on fights that require movement over a large area.
Survivability: (4) You have the normal Mage trifecto (Iceblock, mirror image, Invis) but you can use Cold snap and be able to Ice block AGAIN. That's pretty huge considering it can be used to not only make yoursself invulnerable for a short time but can also break dots and other harmful spell effects. You also throw in that you have a mini priest bubble at your deck and call and that your CC capability is among the best in game and frost looks solid in this category.
Ease of Play: (4) Consistent spec, it can CC, it can do decent damage its not a terribly complicated rotation it has fun CD's to play with, its an enjoyable spec. The only things I have against this spec is how much weaker it is single target now than it used to be and the apparent weakness of it's Aoe potential. Again, its something that any raid group is more than happy to have.
Strength is for warriors, Intelligence is for mages...
Let me simply begin by pointing out that http://elitistjerks.com/f47/t40824-mage_pve_cataclysmic_changes/ points out the gear and stat weighting to the same degree as I would so there's no point in not just directing to EJ on this one. The only thing Id like to emphasize is to pay special notice that the stat weighting DOES change as your gear changes. For instance my Fire spec weighting looks much more like arcane specs beause I have an arcane spec but with my current gear it works much better than the suggested fire stat weighting.
Im not currently sure how they change and I dont have the math to support my claims. But so far it seems that:
Fire: START: Int>Hit>Crit>Haste>Mastery
Predicted change: Int> Hit> Haste> Crit> Mastery
Haste= Even more fireballs (Or Frostfire bolts if you use that) since fireball comprises about 40% of the damage I do in any given single target encounter and more fireballs = more crits = more big ignites and hopefully and it seems to = more procs. It also has the pleasant side effect of increasing the number of ticks on your dots and mastery increases the damage of your dots by ALOT, but this really only shows alot of promise for aoe since the amount of benefit you get per point of mastery is generous and a majority of your aoe damage is based on DoT's. But Im not going to label mastery as being more important than crit- as fire is still heavily dependent on crit. It is just to say that at higher gear levels you will have a naturally higher crit.
Arcane: START: Int>hit>mastery>haste>crit--
Predicitng a shift to: Int>hit>mastery>crit>haste
Haste will likely be slightly devalued for arcane as your gear gets better (Especially with the cast time reduction of arcane blast from the patch and the mage 4 piece bonus). Typically you want to have enough haste to fulfull one condition as closely as possible.
1) To be able to stack Arane Blast 3-4 times and arcane missle it off in a mana neutral phase. (Having too much haste can potentially make it to where your mana regen cant keep up with your stacks which means you cant stack as much AB and that is damage lost)
And 2) You want your AB cast time to hit 1 sec under the hero effect.
Once your crit hits 33% with raid buffs you should probably focus on haste/mastery. Haste = More frostbolts = more fingers of frost= more icelances Mastery = more damage from icelance and deepfreeze in particular.
Spec and Talent overview
This is the arcane talents and glyphs that I would suggest. One of the most noticeable things one may notice is that I completely forego the improved arcane explosion talent in favor of improved blink, Improved invisibility and invocation.
The reason for this is that If I am in arcane spec its bacause I dont plan on aoeing much of anything. I have a fire spec for that. Also, Arcane Explosion simply gets left out to dry due to the fact that its a self-centered AOE which means fo rit to be effective you have to be near the enemie you are aoeing, which can be a very bad thing. Improved blink helps cut back on dps loss by cutting down on movement time. Improved invisibility increases survivability by quite a bit and increases the effectiveness of our one "true" aggro dump should something happen. And even though some may say Invocation is only marginally useful, I find it to be a great talent. what fights to you get to interrupt on? Possibly Halfus, Ascendant council (Feludius, Ignacious, and arion interrupts), Chogall (Often interrupt to break worship), Omitron (Arcanatron interrupts), Maloriak (often interrupts on releasing adds and acrance storm), and Nefarian the entire phase 2 is about interrupting. Lots of interrupting that can be done and granted counterspell is a 24 sec CD but on every interrupt you DO get off if you get a 10% bonus to damage for doing it, all the better. I feel the glyphs are pretty self explanitory for the most part.
Arcane Concentration (3/3): This is a must in your arcane spec. This feels like it procs fairly often (10%) and makes your next mana-consuming spell cost no mana and cause your next 2 spells have a higher crit chance thanks to a talent later in the tree. Mandatory Talent.
Improved counterspell (0/2): I see little use in this talent. It only silences a target for up to 4 sec in addition to interrupting a spell. Maybe a good pvp talent, nigh worthless in pve. Most bosses and big adds are immune to Silence. Not recommended.
Netherwind presence (3/3): Up to a 3% Haste boost. Mandatory Talent
Torment the weak (3/3): This increases damage to all slowed or snared opponents by 6%. Your slow is passively applied al the time thanks to a later talent and surprisingly bosses and such arent immune to this effect. Mandatory talent.
Invocation (2/2): This gives you a 10% damage boost for 8 sec after a spell interruption. The buff duration is a little low for my taste but I stil think its a GREAT damage boost for doing something you should be doing anyway. Positive reinforcement. Optional talent.
Improved Arcane Missle (2/2): You use arcane missle to break stacks of Arcane blast, this spell is absolutely needed and anything that makes it better is needed. Mandatory talent.
Improved Blink (2/2): Blink is an important tool to any mage, but its even better for arcane, who loathe to move. with a 35/70% speed boost after a blink this talent can reduce the movement tie for you where movement is required, minimizing the loss to your dps and can even make you potentially more useful to the raid group. Becoming a "runner" during airphase on Atramedes for example. Optional- but recommended.
Arcane Floes (2/2): Any talent that decreases the CD of your damage CD's and your big mana regen CD is a must have. You must take Presence of Mind to get this talent. Mandatory Talent.
Presence of Mind(1/1): You HAVE to take this talent in order to get to arcane floes. This is also a vital CD for you. Mandatory talent.
Missle Barrage (2/2): Again, anything that improves Arcane missle is worth getting. Mandatory talent.
Improved Invisibility: (1/3) I'd love to get 3 points into this talent. But I simply dont have enough points to spare. At 1 pt you get 2% dmage reduction and a 1 sec reduction on the invis fade time. At 2 pts its 4% and a 2 sec reduction, and at 3 pts its 6% damage reduction and a handy dandy nigh instant invis activation. Optional, but recommended to get as many points as you can spare into it.
Improved Polymorph(0/0): This is a PVP talent, pure and simple. This can help when your sheep gets broken in trash pulls and i probably most useful in heroics. I see little point for it in a raiding environment though. Not recommnded.
Arcane Tactics (1/1): +3% damage to yourself and all of your raid and party members. Mandatory Talent, the only exception to this being is that in your raid roup compition there is always a BM hunter or a ret pally, who both provide a similar buff.
Incanter's Absorption (2/2): This is much like Invocation. Positive reinforcement is alive and well. Use your mana shield or your mage ward as appropriate and when you take damage, 20% of the ABSORBED AMOUNT will turn into SP for 10 sec. In addition if your shield or ward breaks it'll knock back enemies. VERY useful while leveling and potentially useful in some encounters. I.E potentially useing the knockback effect to knock back slime adds on Cho'gall. (Havnt been able to test it yet.) Note: If you know something that is coming that deals moderately heavy dmage and is either frost, fire or arcane damage, you can put up both Mana shield and Mage ward at the same time to get further increased effects from Incanter's Absorption. Mandatory talent.
Improved Arcane Explosion (0/2): This can potentially make your aoe fairly potent as well as very mana efficient. However, as I stated before I have a fire spec if I wish to aoe things but if you dont have a fire spec this allows you to aoe in arcane at the best possible level. Optional Talent.
Arcane Potency(2/2): a 15% increased chance to crit for 2 casts after a Presence of Mind or Arcane Concentration proc is great, and there are fewer points that can be better spent than on this talent. Mandatory Talent.
Slow(1/1): This is MANDATORY. Not only because it is required to finish the spec tree, but its vital to your dps and great in pvp as well. Mandatory.
Nether Vortex(2/2): 100% chance to apply slow just for casting Arcane Blast is invaluable, again for both pve and pvp. Mandatory.
Focus Magic (1/1): This is a great tool that'll make other spellcasters, healers and dps alike love you. They get the crit boost and you get a crit boost when they crit. This talent REALLY shines if you have another arcane mage in the group and you put this on each other. This talent is best used on casters, but some melee will still get you benefits, such as Rogues, enhancement Shammies, Pallies, and DKs.
Improved Mana Gem (2/2): This is a staple of your dps and is a HUGE boost in SP when used. Mandatory.
Arcane Power: This is one of the most potent and the shortest dps CDs in the game. You get it, you love it. Mandatory.
Fire tree: Master of Elements(2/2): Getting your arcane blasts to refund 30% of the mana cost for them on a crit is terrific for your mana efficiency and therefore your dps. Mandatory. Note this- arcane blast crit on a Arcane concenctration proc and arcane missle crits dont return mana as they dont cost mana to cast also, unfortunately when you crit with Arcane Blast it only refunds the amount based on the base mana cost of the spell. So If you crit on a 4 stack AB you wont get more mana back than if you crit on an AB with no stacks. Still this talent is very valuable.
Burning Soul (3/3): when you take damage while casting you suffer a lengthend cast time. This talent reduces that pushback making it VERY valuable. Ive seen builds with only 2 points or a 50% reduction prevention, but I prefer the full 3 points in this talent. this of course can flip flop depending on your groups composition. If you know there will always be a pally who will use concentration aura, it may be worthwhile to only have 2 pts in this talent.
Piercing Ice (3/3): A 3% additional chance to crit is a must have. Mandatory.
Glyph of Arcane Blast: Its a glyph that increases the damage of your main nuke. No brainer.
Glyph of Arcane Missle: a 5% increase to the crit rate of your arcane missle is never a bad thing. You use arcane missle ALOT during the course of the fight and the damage output is significant, especially when the missles crit often.
Glyph of Arcane Barrage: This glyph doesnt seem all that impressive. It's a 4% damage increase to a spell that gets relatively little use as compared to Arcane Blast or Arcane Missle. However, there are times where you will want to use it over arcane missle and there are times where arcane Missle, amaingly doesnt proc and you find yourself having to use arcane barrage to get rid of AB stacks. This can potentially be a dps increase over arcane missle. Again, this all depends on how good your mana regen is in a raid and how you utilize it though.
Glyph of Mage Armor: Your mastery is dependant on how much mana you have unspent. a 20% increase to the effectiveness to your mage armor helps this purpose significantly.
Glyph of Arcane Power: This one is a nice glyph, its nice features of popping off Mirror images without GCD and blink and mana shield also not being restricted by the GCD is very useful. You may find yourself having to move or to be able to more effectively take advantage of incoming damage to incre right after popping your CDs so a GCD free blink is valuable, and if you notice unavoidble damage is coming your way you can use mana shield wihout wasting any time to buf up your output.This will both help minimize lost dps and maybe even increase it.
Glyph of evocation: A self heal for about 60% of your hp in addition to your mana is too good to miss out on.
Glyph of Blink: Again a common theme- the less time you take to make required movement- the better your dps.
Featherfall: This glyph wont increase your dps or survivability a whole lot. But if you dont feel like carrying light feathers on you at all times this is a worthwhile glyph to consider. Things happen, like walking off a cliff or a certain elevator in bwd. a free slowfall is nice.
Arcane Brilliance: Comes in useful if you find yourself having to spotbuff. And there are few better minor glyphs.
Conjuration: If you find you have no mana gems in the middle of a fight there is nothing like popping arcane presence and making a Gem with 3 charged for the mana cost of about half of the mana you gain from using 1 charge on the gem.
Mirror Image: I suggest taking this one as it increases the damage your mirror images slightly and you might as well take a glyph that somehow affects your dps.
I would honestly label every point in this build as mandatory for fire except MAYBE the 2 points in Pyromaniac. Althiough I think it is a really nice talent to have in fights with adds. Can possibly move those two points into Arcane concentration in the arcane tree to help increase mana efficiency.
Master of Elements (2/2): 30% of your mana cost refunded on a crit with a given spell is vital. Mandatory. *Note that HS procs and talented scorch wont return mana as they are mana free casts.
Burning Soul (3/3): Casting push-back reduction is absolutely vital in a raid environment. I recommend all three points. Mandatory.
Improved Fireblast (0/2): Although the increased crit change and range on fireblast may seem tempting it isnt worthwhile in a raiding environment. Fireblast should not be a particularly big part of your rotation outside of spreading dots via impact. A 10 yd range increase on this spell makes it the same range as fireball and such IS useful, but you are a fire mage. Mobility is your thing. Simply move 10 yd up if needed as you can do so with little or even no dps loss at all. Not recommended.
Ignite (3/3): This talent is a cornerstone of your dps. MANDATORY.
Fire Power (3/3): This talent increases the damage of your fire spells by 3%. You are a fire mage who pretty exclusively uses fire spells, this pretty much equates to 3% more damage. This also make your Flame orb more effective. blowing up at the end of its duration. Mandatory
Blazing Speed (0/2): This is a nice pvp talent. Has little use in a raid though. Not recommended.
Impact (2/2): This gives your fireball a 10% chance to turn into "Impact!" which refreshes the fireblast CD and allows it to spread all of your fire DoT's to all nearby targets. Mandatory for fire AOE. *Note*: LB can only be spread to 3 targets maximum, but all of your other dots including the compouded dot in Combustion can be spread indefinately.
Cauterize (2/2): a 100% chance that a blow that would kill you otherwise restores you 40% of your full HP with a dot that ticks for 12% of your max hp every 1.5 sec for 6 seconds. Yes, if this triggers and you dont do anything about it you will die regardless. But you can be healed through the dot. You can Iceblock the dot off. You can also immediately use evocation and keep yourself healed through the dot if you have the glyph of evocation. This is an amazing pvp AND pve talent. Stuff happens, healers dont quite get to you, you screw up, in short, you die. This gives you a second chance and even a third or a fourth depending on how long the fight is and such (1 min CD). I see few talents where your points would be better spent than this talent. Mandatory.
Blastwave (1/1): A vital part of your AOE rotation. Mandatory.
Hot Streak (1/1): HS is such a huge and vital part of your dps, dont even THINK of not taking this talent. Every crit you get with your core firespells has a chance to give you a free and instant pyroblast. Mandatory.
Improved Scorch (2/2): Mana free scorches! This may be optional only if there were something better to put these 2 points into. But the extra mobility and the ability to use a mana free cast to help regen mana is useful. There isnt any really good reason to skip this one that I can really think of so Im going to label it as Mandatory.
Molten Shield (0/1): Again, a pvp talent, no real use for it in a raid. It cn possibly provide some extra mobility. But you can already cast on the run and you have blink. I dont see the point in wasting a talent point on this. Not recommended.
Combustion (1/1): A vital dps CD for fire mages. MANDATORY.
Improved Hotstreak (2/2): 100% chance for a HS proc if you crit 2 times in a row on non dot spells. Mandatory.
Firestarter (1/1): Now you can cast that mana free scorch while moving, fantastic. Mandatory.
Improved Flamestrike (2/2) instant flamestrikes can only help your aoe dps. Mandatory.
Dragon's Breath (1/1); Good pvp talent. Marginally useful in pve. Very useful in breaking the worship in the Chogall encounter. More importantly, its NEEDED to go down to Living Bomb. Mandatory.
Molten Fury (3/3): 3 points in order to do 12% more damage to targets with 35% or less health. So as soon as you are hitting 35% on the bosses hp, you need to be in your burn phase. Mandatory.
Pyromaniac (2/2) : Many say this is optional, but I feel this talent is very beneficial when it does apply. 10% for having a fire DoT ticking on three targets is huge. Optional, but recommended.
Critical Mass (3/3): 15% additional damage by your Living Bomb and Flame Orb and a free 5% crit on the affected enemy. Mandatory.
Living Bomb (1/1) Vital to your dps, single target and aoe. Mandatory.
Arcane Concentration (0/3): This talent can be taken to increase mana efficiency. I see no real need for it though. Optional.
Netherwind presence (3/3): 3% haste. Get it! Mandatory.
Piercing Ice (3/3) 3% crit. Mandatory.
Pyroblast: Your dps is largly affected by those free pyroblast procs (Hotstreak)- this is a must.
Fireball: Ok...I personally prefer fireball over frostfire bolt. A glyphed frostfire bolt hits as hard as a fireball does and leaves a small dot. but the dot is rather weak and has little influence and Id rather have the 5% extra crit for my fireballs instead. Nothing wrong if you dont agree- thats just my personal taste.
Molten Armor: 2 % extra crit is always nice. You can also use Glyph of LB in this place but Molten armor increases crit- the thing fire dps is so reliant on. This glyph seems to be stronger for Single target dps, where glyph of LB is stronger for aoe.
Major: Its the exact same as the arcane specs choices except for a Dragon's breath glyph in place of arcane power glyph. Can also use blastwave instead if you wish.
Again I feel most of the points are well justified and feel free to look at EJ for a more in depth descritpion of talents but The http://www.wowhead.com/talent#o0hZfMZffMzsIszMo:amozMq0mzay I have this built is to help in aoe situations. Spreading chill effets to multiple targets on frostbolt crits to fish for finger procs and the one point to make blizzzard chill monsters for the same reason. It can be possible to take the 3 points in those abilities and put them into permafrost for single target encounters if you wish.
Frost Tree Overview
Early Frost(2/2) An occasional extra fast frostbolt. A minor dps increase. Optional.
Piercing Ice (3/3): 3% crit- mandatory.
Shatter (2/2): This talent increases your rit strike chance 3 ties over on frozen targets. as well as the daage of frostbolt on frozen targets by 20%. Huge for your dps. Mandatory.
Ice Floes (3/3): This reduces the CDs of all your important abilities for frost by 20%, get this talent, al three points. Mandatory.
Improved Cone of Cold (0/2) Freezes victems of cone of cold for 4 sec. Because the way shatter works and your function in raid as a frost age to control adds and such this can be useful talent. I chose to skip it. Optional.
Piercing Chill (2/2) This talent can be useful in fishing for Fingers of Frost procs in aoe situations. where you dont wish to use blizzard. Optional and recommended.
Permafrost (0/3) 12% extra reduced movement speed, reduc3d healing and 15% healing to your pet for spell damage done at three points. A valuable talent in pvp nd even has uses somewhat in raids. Mainly the chilling speed reduction. Not bad. Optional.
Ice Shards (1/2): This adds a chill effect to your blizard, useful for controlling adds and fishing for fingers of frost procs. I put 1 point in here to get a chill effect on the blizard. You can add another to get from 25% speed reduction to 50% speed reduction if you wish. Optional.
Icy Veins (1/1) 20% increase on casting speed and 100% cast pushback protection for 20 sec on a 2 min CD after Ice Floes.Mandatory.
Finger of Frost (3/3) Actually allows you to put the freeze debuff on non freezable enemies and increases the damage of ince lance massively. Mandatory.
Improved Freeze (3/3) up to a 100% chance to gain 2 fingers of frost charges when your elemental uses it's freeze. Mandatory.
Enduring winter (3/3) 9% reduction in mana cost of your spells, and a 100% chance to cause replenishment with your frostbolts. Mandatory. Though you may choose to have less than 3 points in this talent though I wouldnt recommend it.
Cold Snap (1/1) a CD reset on all of your frost based Abilities except for Cold Snap itself. On a 5 min CD after 3 pts in ie floes. Important for pve dps and pvp like. Mandatory.
Brain Freeze (3/3) Much like Hotstreak for Fire, this replaces aarcane missle for a useful alternative spell in Frostfire bolt. The frostfire proc is also free mana cost and instant cast and can benefit from Fingers of Frost charges. Mandatory
Shattered Barrier (0/2) 100% chance for your ice barrier spell to freeze enemies for 4 sec when broken with 2 points. Not much useful in pve raiding except for kiting adds. Optional.
Ice Barrier (1/1) Useful damage mitigation tool. Should try to keep this up as needed. More of use in pvp than pve though. It is a requirement to get to deep freeze. Mandatory.
Reactive Barrier (0/2) 100% for Ice barrier to automatically cast upon taking damage that reduces your total hp under 50%. If this were a free cast that didnt use a GCD or wasnt completely ignored if you are in the middle of a cast this would be nice. But it doesnt work that way and it obeys the Icebarriers CD and uses the CD when procd. You might as well cat it yourself. I dont find this useful at all. Not recommended.
Frostfire Orb (2/2) Cause your fire orb to becoe a frost fire orb so your ice spell damage increase can be used on this spell. Also causes chill effects when it hits enemies, especially usefukl in your dps because it helps proc alot of frost charges. Mandatory
Deep Freeze (1/1) This spell used to be the hardest hitting spell in the game. It was something to be prioud of in PVE and it wa aazing. It's been considerbly nerfed but it still packs a nice punch and it vital to your dps still. Mandatory.
Burning Soul (3/3) Pushback protection is good. Mandatory.
Master of Elements (2/2) Mana regen for crits. Mandatory.
Ignite (2/3) I wish I could get three points in this. This only benefits from your Frostfire Bolt and Frostfire Orbs but the extra damage does addup. Highly recommended.
Netherwind Presence (3/3) 3% haste- Mandatory.
Arcane concentration (0/3) Thi can Help in mana regenertion nd efficiency. I dont find it neccesary. Optional.
Deepfreeze- 20% damage increase on your potentially hardest hitting spell- its a must.
Icelance- Increase damage to possibly your second hardest hitting spell, again I say you need it.
Molten armor- Since you are trying to hit 33% rit at a minimum this is useful otherwise I suppose you could try to increase frostbolts crit by 5 % for single target or increase the damage of cone of cold for aoe.
The same as the 2 above just Dragons breath is replaced by ice barrier. Not any other choices really besides maybe Frost nova and I doubt that would make much difference.
inor: Same as the other specs except glyph of whatever you feel like instead of mirror image... making them cast frostbolt instead of...frostbolt doesnt do anything.
1) Never. Stop. Casting. Any kind of hesitation in casting your next spell is a dps loss. Unless there is a good reason to not be casting anything, never stop casting unless the fight is over.
2) Survival of the fittest. Dead DPS do no dps. If it comes to getting one or two more casts off or avoiding a harmful boss mechanic, avoid the boss mechanic. This holds true FOR ANYBODY, but its doubly true for you as a mage. Many times you may be the only member in a group that can use a Hero/Bloodlust, it's your responsibility to live so that can be used to benefit your group. Even if you are Fire and have the Cauterize talent, try your best to avoid bad things and stay alive.
3) Pay attention to your procs, dots and timers. This is purely a matter of paying attnetion! If you find it difficult, get add-ons to help you! Knowing that your LB is about to expire or that you need to refresh a polymorph soon ahead of time can make things MUCH smoother for you and your group.
4) Counterspell, Spellsteal, Mage ward, and Mana Shield- You should make VERY extensive use of these abilities. Countersspell can not only help your group by avoiding a damaging spell or a heal or such, but depending on your talents it can increase the damage you do and its the same for Spellsteal. Not only Does spellsteal reoves some harmful buffs from bosses and trash alike, it can GREATLY benefit you depending on the buff. Mage ward and Manashield dont stop alot of damage individually, but if you use them fairly consistently it can mitigate a good chunk of damage over the course of a fight and your healer will love you for it. If you have the proper talents it also increases the damage you do, its a win-win situation!
5) Practice, Practice, Practice. If you are unsure if a new piece of gear or reforging or such is beneficial, hit up a test dummy. Do multiple runs and see for yourself. This also helps solidify your rotation and such.
6) Keep an Open Mind- I cant count how many times Ive been practicing on a test dummy to come up with something that I didnt know before. I practice on the dummies often and sometimes, every once in a while I learn something interesting and rush to update this guide. You too can learn things on your own through practice and observation and there is always more to learn.
The Best Spec
This is a question that gets asked alot: what is the best mage spec?
This is a loaded question because as you may have noticed during the course of this guide, different specs are good for different things. However, I'll breifly summarize those strong points.
"I want to pull good dps in raids."- For purely single target dps- Im going to have to award this one to Arcane spec atm. Or at least for mages with low to moderately high gear levels. Though at very high end-tier content it seems that fire may pull ahead yet again, theoretically. I've done alot of testing and practice between arcane, frost, and fire and simply put, they are all three competitive, but arcane and fire lead the way, with Frost bringing up the rear.
For aoe dps, Arcane and frost lack a degree of potency in comparison to fire. This is fire's domain certainly.
"I want to be able to assist my group by providing CC's kiting and Survivability"
Simply said, this is Frost's area of expertise. if there are adds that need to be kited and cc'd then frost has the most ways of doing it.
Arcane would probably be a second place, due to having slow and the ability to passivly apply it with AB and improved blink can be helpful for it's speed boost.
Fire would be third, not very far behind Arcane because of it's mobility and ability to cast on the run.
The End of a Journey, Sorta.
This is a far as I am willing to take this guide for now, any further questions can be directed to myself via in-game, via comments, or you can e-mail me at email@example.com. I will do my best to keep things updated. [/u]
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