Friday, November 2, 2007

World of Magecraft, Volume II

Welcome, to the World of Magecraft, volume II.

- Professions

- Talents, thorough analysis

In volume I, I established a mages position as a glass cannon, and covered each races abilities, and how they effect the mage as a class.

So, by now, you’ve created your mage, and have started the lengthy leveling process. What next?

At level 5, your newly minted mage is able to learn professions. In no particular order, here are the professions and how they affect the mage. Note that there are two kinds of professions, Primary and Secondary. You can only learn two Primary professions, but all of the Secondary ones.

Alchemy – (primary) In essence, alchemy is the act of taking stuff and turning it into other stuff. In this game, alchemy is essentially making potions, and transmuting some stuff. Transmuting is only really used at very high skill level, doing stuff like creating Primal Might from the different Primal elements, turning Primal Air into water, and such like that. With potions, there are essentially three different types. Consumables are like health potions, one use and one instant effect. Then we have elixirs, which are buffing potions. These come in two types, Battle elixirs and Guardian Elixirs. You can have one of each type active at once. Alchemy is a solid choice for a PvE mage, giving you access to additional buffs for yourself, mana potions, and a very solid money-maker, assuming you sell your transmutes. Alchemists are also very heavily desired by raiders, because you provide a ton of goodies for anyone running an instance. Everything from long-lasting buffs that persist through death, to powerful elemental protection potions, you can provide.

Sadly, from a PvP perspective, alchemy is a very weak profession to have. You cannot use anything alchemical in the Arenas, except for the Philosopher’s Stones. Most of the self buffing potions you can produce do not persist through death, and you will die very often in PvP.

Pair this with Herbalism to get the most out of this profession.

Blacksmithing – (primary)Totally worthless for a mage. Don’t even consider getting this

Cooking – (secondary) Now this is an interesting one. You do not need to have cooking for the intrinsic value of having the food, you can already summon food. You don’t need to eat anything cooking produces. However, similar to alchemy, the things you can cook/eat with this profession can be very handy at the upper level instancing/raiding. There is food that increases your spell damage, food that increases your stamina, whatever you name; there is a type of food that buffs it. If you’re serious about raiding and bringing all your own consumables and buffing yourself to the moon, pick up cooking. Otherwise, skip it, and borrow the steak from a hunter.

Also worthwhile to note this profession is totally useless for PvP, as any effects go away upon death.

Enchanting – (primary) Enchanting is the profession that makes gear better than it already is. Essentially, you add stats to select types of gear. You can add more stamina to boots, for example. Enchanting requires special ingredients, which can only be gathered by destroying magical items. “Green” gear, your epic “purplez”, the act of disenchanting them (referred to as d/e or “sharding”) is the only way to get these ingredients. Enchanting is a very solid choice for a mage to take, and as a stand alone profession, can be coupled with anything else. There are tons of great enchants to be gained through this profession. You can amplify your spell damage on… pretty much everything, toss 30 intellect on your staff, plunk spell crit rating on your gloves, whatever you want. You can also provide enchants to other people, and some are in very high demand. The high end agility enchants, for example, will cause Rogues and Hunters to basically offer you their children in exchange for an agility enhancing weapon enchant. This profession can be very, very lucrative.

However, enchanting is a very, very expensive profession to level. Any ingredients you gain means that a high-end magical item, and thus a source of gold, was lost. The runed rods that all enchanters need can run you a fortune to buy from Blacksmiths. You will spend a fortune leveling this profession, but if you do it right, you can make a LOT of cash back from this. Back when the level cap was 60, people would gladly drop 100g on a Crusader enchant. Now it’s much, much more with TBC. People want Mongoose. People want spell damage enchants. And they will pay through the nose to get them.

Engineering – (primary) Engineering is one of those funny professions that can benefit anyone, provided the profession is done right. This profession is similar to enchanting, in that you will spend a fortune leveling it. However, you stand to make little or no money from it. Almost everything you make in engineering can only be used by engineers, and chances are pretty good they can make it themselves anyway. Through engineering, you can make yourselves very, very nice headpieces, and a plethora of random gadgets. Exploding sheep, rocket launchers, trinkets that can resurrect people and flying mounts just to name a few. Want to know how wacky this profession is? Check this out.

Every April 1st, Blizzard releases “joke” content on worldofwarcraft.com. This year, they featured the item “Tinfoil Hat” which would hide you from the wowarmory, turn your character into a pixellated monstrosity, and hide all your gear from inspection. While this item was a joke, engineering is not far from this.

Engineering can be a very rewarding profession, but it can also be an endless money and time sink. If you do get engineering, pair it with mining. It will save you a lot of time and money. And please, do yourself a huge favor, and find a leveling guide. It will get you to the good stuff a lot faster. This profession has some of the best headpieces for casters in the game.

First Aid – (secondary) First Aid is a profession that takes cloth you pick up, and turns it into band aids that you can heal yourself with. It effectively has a 1 minute cooldown, can be interrupted by pretty much everything, and if you don’t get it, I will punch you so hard, your mother’s ovaries will cringe. Mages cannot heal themselves in any way, and being the squishiest class in the game, we die fast if we don’t take care of ourselves. First Aid can be used anytime, anywhere, and at max level, is 3400 health in 8 seconds. The following are situations where First Aid is invaluable: Insances, Raids, general PvP, Arenas, solo PvE. That about covers everything, don’t it? Yes, it does. In a group PvE context, first aid relieves a lot of pressure on the healer. In solo PvE, you effectively restore your own hp, and can keep right on grinding without stopping. PvP, it’s a way for anon-healer class to heal themselves. Take this example: near the end of an arena, it was down to me and a shadow priest. The priest didn’t have the PvP trinket left, but still had full health. I sheeped the priest, and got off the entire duration of First Aid, restoring 3400 health. After that, the priest was killed off fairly easily. It’s a dirty trick to pull, and this profession has single-handedly won about 30% of the arenas I’ve been in.

Shut yer trap, and get this profession. It is more than worth its weight in cloth.

Fishing – Only get this profession if you’re picking up cooking. Getting ingredients for stuff like Golden Fish Sticks is the only reason to pick up this profession. Otherwise, it is an endless and pointless time sink for a mage. About the only possible thing it’s good for is fishing in the little pool in Orgrimmar while waiting for a battleground queue.

Herbalism – Only get this profession if you’re pairing it with Alchemy. Gathering professions serve two purposes. One, to provide you with a source of cash. Two, to provide you with materials (mats) for a given profession. Herbalism provides you with mats for Alchemy. It is a very poor source of cash; if you need a cash generating profession, skip this one.

Jewelcrafting – Similar to engineering and enchanting combined. You make yourself (and others) rings and necklaces, and various gems that augment high level armor pieces. Just like enchanting, this profession is very expensive to level, but very lucrative at the higher levels. People always want various gems cut, and if you happen to have a rare pattern that’s in high demand… you can charge a premium for it. Can be very good for any character, not necessarily mages alone. Couple it with mining, and save yourself a lot of headaches, time, and cash.

Leatherworking – Skip it. Worthless.

Mining – If you pick up Jewelcrafting or Engineering, you simply must have this profession. It will provide you with a lot of the stuff you need to level those professions. And if you need a cash generating profession, this it the one to get. Raw Ores and Bars are some of the most lucrative items on almost every single server. Almost all professions need something that can only be gotten through mining. Blacksmiths, engineers, jewelcrafters, enchanters, even alchemists doing transmutes rely on mats that can only be gotten through mining. With only a skill level of 150, you can start to make a fortune with this. On most servers, you can even still get away with selling a copper ore stack for a gold. This profession generates a very large amount of cash, so if you do get it, be prepared to compete with other people doing the same thing.

Skinning – Only pick up this profession if you need a cash generator. Skinning can produce quite a bit of money, but per capita falls far short of mining. A stack of Rugged Leather will sell for a lot less than a stack of Mithril Ore. However, if you maintain this profession all the way to Outland, the beasts of Nagrand can provide you with a LOT of leather, and its far more concentrated than mining nodes. Each stack will sell less than a mining stack, but you can get a lot more of it a lot faster. And being a mage, you can farm those clefthoof very, very fast and get a lot of leather. I did it myself for a while, and through doing the Nesingwary quests alone had gathered 6 stacks of Knothide leather. Sold ‘em all, made myself a pretty hefty chunk of gold. ‘Course, after that, I never, ever wanted to see a clefthoof ever again in my entire life.

Skinning is Lucrative if you’re willing to farm it heavily, and very, very boring.

Tailoring – An excellent profession for a mage. You can make yourself bags, you can make yourself very good gear all the way through the levels. And at max level, you can make yourself epic cloth pieces that are simply amazing. You can get a full set of Spellfire from tailoring before you even set foot in any 70 instance, and that same Spellfire set will last you far into Tier 5. And even Tier 5, the upgrade is questionable. Only Tier 6 is a clear upgrade to these Tailored epics. This is also why tailoring is considered one of the most overpowered professions in the game. The gear is absolutely fantastic with this profession. Get it, level it, revel in it. It can be expensive to level, but not nearly as expensive as, say, Engineering or jewelcrafting.

Now you’ve got your mage, you’ve got your professions, and you’re happily leveling away.

“DING!” you cry, excited as hell to reach a double-digit level. Now, young mage, you’ve reached the point in your life where you can begin to allocate points into various talent specs. Before you get started spending points, keep in mind that the mage talent trees are very top-heavy. All the best stuff is deep in the tree, and you won’t get access to all the fun stuff until your late 30’s, early 40’s. And the trees don’t really come into their own until you’ve spent at least 30-ish points in them.

Let’s look at what we have, shall we?

ARCANE – the arcane tree is full of random tricks, and enhances the mages arcane damaging spells. A very poor choice for leveling, it has the lowest range of the three schools, and no kiting capability. Spells cost a lot, and you will run OOM (out of mana) very fast if you try to level with this. The arcane tree is best used as either a high-end raiding spec, or as a support tree for either fire or frost. This tree is also unique in that it contains the best and the worst talents available to mages.

FIRE – the fire tree is the out-right damage tree. Most of the talents here either give you more damage or higher crit rating. It is an excellent leveling spec, and an excellent PvP spec pre-70. It is also a very good tree for raiding. In fact, most raiding mages run with the 10/48/3 talent spec.

FROST – the frost tree is designed to add as much control to the situation as possible. This tree makes it a lot easier to control your target, makes kiting a breeze, and greatly extends the survivability of the mage. It, too, is a good leveling spec, and the BEST spec for high end PvP. The frost tree is a poor choice for low-level PvP, and doesn’t really come into its own until at least the 50’s bracket. It is a poor choice for raiding.

Hopefully that gives you a good idea of what we’re dealing with here.

So, on with the analysis!

ARCANE

Tier One

Arcane Subtlety – Reduces your target’s resistances to all your spells by 10, and decreases the threat generated by your arcane spells by 40% - A must have for an arcane mage, and if you’re using arcane as a support tree, this is a good place to put those first few talent points.

Arcane Focus – Reduces the chance that the opponent can resist your Arcane spells by 10% - Another must have for an arcane mage, and another good place to put points in if you’re using arcane as a support tree. You use polymorph, right? Then get this, it will help.

Improved Arcane Missiles – Gives you a 100% chance to avoid interruption caused by damage while channeling Arcane Missiles – Must have for Arcane mages. Pointless for everyone else, unless you’re using Clearcast procs for these. Personally, I feel using AM during a clearcast proc is a waste of the clearcast. If you’re using Arcane as a support tree, the Arcane Missiles will not benefit from any of your other talents.

Tier Two

Wand Specialization – Increases your damage dealt with wands by 25% - At some point during the development of WoW, this talent was placed into the arcane tree by complete accident. See, it was almost 3AM, and one of the priest developers had been working for a good eight hours trying to fix the Discipline Tree. Tired as he was, he took this Wand Specialization talent, and pasted it into the tree that he thought was the priest tree. Tired as he was, he had accidentally opened the Mage folder and pasted it in. To this day, Blizzard leaves it in as a running bet to see how many idiots spend points here.

Seriously, this talent is worse than worthless. Do not put any points here. Ever. Even Arcane Fortitude is better.

Magic Absorption – Increases all resistances by 10 and causes all spells you fully resist to restore 5% of your total mana. 1 sec. cooldown – Remember how I said the arcane tree was full of the best and worst talents mages had? Here’s another one of the worst talents. This talent only any good if you spend a lot of time running people through Scarlet Monastery with your 70 mage. There is a lot of better places to spend talent points, such as:

Arcane Concentration – Gives you a 10% chance of entering a Clearcasting state after any damage spell hits a target. The clearcasting state reduces the mana cost of your next damage spell by 100% - This talent is absolutely amazing. If you are spending any points at all in the arcane tree, put 5 points here. This talent is the sole reason why many mages put 10 points in Arcane in the first place. Get it. Love it.

Tier Three

Magic Attunement – Increases the effect of your Amplify and Dampen Magic spells by 50% - Don’t go out of your way to get this talent. Only put points here if there is literally nowhere else to put them, and even then, seriously consider putting them elsewhere. Both Damp and Amp magic are very situational, and when you do use them, they’re ok. There are better places to spend talent points than here.

Arcane Impact – Increases the critical strike chance of Arcane Explosion/Blast by 6% - A must have for any arcane mage. Arcane Blast is an excellent spell, and improving the crit on that is golden. AE is an AoE used by literally any mage, so if you’re going deep enough in Arcane to nab Improved Counterspell or Presence of Mind, this is a good place to put three points.

Arcane Fortitude – Increases your armor by 50% of your intellect value­ – There is only one reason to put a talent point here. If you have literally nowhere else to spend a talent point, put it here. Depending on your intellect, it’s a couple hundred extra armor. Pretty much pointless.

Tier Four

Improved Mana Shield – Decreases the mana lost per point of damage when Mana Shield is active by 20% - A sad attempt at making the Arcane tree viable for PvP. If you’re arcane spec and trying to PvP, definitely put some points here, it’ll make you feel better about yourself at night. This talent is a waste of points, Mana Shield by itself is already an abomination of a spell at any level above 45. Why would you try to improve something that’s better off banished to a corner of your spell book, never again to see the light of day?

Improved Counterspell – Gives your Counterspell a 100% chance of silencing the target for 4 seconds – This talent is gold. It is incredible for PvP, and a “shitkick in the pants” for a healer. This is another very good reason to use Arcane as a support tree, its an incredibly potent talent.

Arcane Meditation – Allows 15% of your mana regeneration to continue while casting – A golden talent for arcane mages. As a high end arcane mage, the amount of casting you can do is limited only to how much mana you have. This is why arcane mages raid with Mage Armor, and why arcane mages never complain about the spirit on their gear. Also a good place to toss some points if you’re only here for Presence of Mind.

Tier Five

Improved Blink – Reduces the mana cost of your blink spell by 50% - Don’t get me wrong, this is a very good talent. Blink is used by mages constantly in PvP, pretty much every time the cooldown is up. As a very expensive spell, it is an unnecessary drain on the mages mana pool. This would be a perfect place to put a couple of points… but for one tiny little problem. This deep in the arcane tree, literally any and all of the surrounding talents are far, far better than this one. Due to its position in the tree, Imp Blink is a poor talent. If it was bumped down a couple of tiers (perhaps replace the abomination that is Wand Spec?) and this talent would get a lot better.

Presence of Mind – When activated, your next spell with a cast time under 10 seconds becomes and instant cast – This is an incredible talent. Absolutely incredible. This is the source of the rightly-feared and QQ’d about PoM+Pyro maneuver. For PvP, it is one of the top talents available to mages (although hampered by the fact the arcane tree forgets a little something called survivability). If you’re in the arcane tree this deep, it’s a no-brainer. Get it. You will never regret having it.

Arcane Mind – Increases your intellect by 15% - By itself, this talent looks good. A 15% increase in intellect is a really good thing, especially for arcane mages who need as much mana as they can get. But wait! It gets even better! Scroll down for “Mind Mastery”, and you’ll see why this talent is a must for any arcane mage.

Tier Six

Prismatic Cloak – Reduces all damage taken by 4% - Yet another feeble attempt to add survivability to the arcane tree. Like Imp. Blink, this talent would almost be worthwhile if it could be reached far earlier in the arcane tree. As it is, it is literally surrounded by talents that are far, far better. It simply is not worth it to spend the points here this deep in the arcane tree. If points could be spent here earlier, such as in tier two or three, it would be worth it.

Arcane Instability – Increases your spell damage and critical chance by 3% - This is a bread and butter damage talent. You would have to be a complete and utter idiot not to get this.

Arcane Potency – Increases the critical strike chance of any spell cast while Clearcasting by 30% - Right around here in the arcane tree, you are going to see a lot of absolutely amazing talents. This is one of them. You are getting this talent. End of story.

Tier Seven

Empowered Arcane Missiles – Arcane Missiles gain an additional 45% of bonus spell damage effects, and cost 6% more mana – See, this is why arcane mages need a lot of mana. Arcane Missiles is a very expensive spell in the first place, and this just ramps it up higher. That said, this talent is a fundamental to arcane mages DPS. Skip it, and no-one will ever believe you were smart enough to install WoW by yourself.

Arcane Power – When activated, your spells deal 30% more damage and cost 30% more mana to cast. Lasts 15 sec. ­– Starting to see the trend yet? More damage for more mana. This is another key arcane talent, and you will have this talent this deep in the arcane tree.

Spell Power – Increases critical strike damage bonus of all spells by 50% - Another talent that you simply will not be a good mage without. Get it, and revel in your new found super-crits.

Tier Eight

Mind Mastery – Increases spell damage by 25% of your intellect – Arcane mages need mana. The more mana they have, the longer they can cast. To get mana, you need intellect. And with this, all that intellect will make every cast hit that much harder. This is an incredibly well-designed talent for the arcane tree. Props to whoever came up with this.

End tree

Slow – Reduces targets movement speed by 50%, increases cast time by 50%, increases time between ranged attacks by 50% - Overall, a very “meh” talent for an end tree. It adds some much needed kite-ability to the arcane tree, but it isn’t pulled off that well. It’s expensive, and it can be dispelled very cheaply. Being a magic effect, all the usual dispellers like Paladins and Priests can get rid of it. Being a snare-type effect as well, stuff like druids shape-shifting also removes it. It’s a nice talent, to be sure, but being an end-tree, being so expensive, and so easily dispelled, its only “meh”

FIRE

Tier One

Improved Fireball – Reduces the cast time of fireball by 0.5 seconds – This talent is pretty good. Reducing the cast time of your main nuke is always a good thing. !BUT! Right now, there is a hidden 10% damage reduction on fireball, if you take this talent. Which means for 0.5 seconds off the cast time, you lose 10% of the damage. This is getting removed in 2.3, so this talent will definitely become worth it. It’s a good investment of 5 points.

Impact – All fire spells have a 10% chance to stun the target for 2 sec. – This is an incredibly useful talent, just not in group PvE scenarios. It is an amazing talent in PvP, and, in my experience, has an uncanny ability to proc exactly when it is needed most. In solo PvE, a two second stun is a very, very nice thing when you’re taking mobs down. It adds some ability of kiting to the fire tree, by simple tossing in a stun. In instances, a 2 second stun on a mob is actually detrimental to the raid. Tanks need to be hit by mobs in order to get all of their good threat generation abilities in. Stunning the main target means the main target isn’t hitting the tank. Which means the main tank isn’t generating rage (or getting redoubt/shield spike procs in the case of a paladin), which means the tank isn’t generating threat. For end-game PvE, skip it.

Tier Two

Ignite – Critical strikes from fire spells cause your target to burn for an additional 40% of the spells damage over 4 sec. – If you are speccing fire, you will take this talent. Fire crits a lot; the more you can get out of it the better. Right now, it’s only a really good talent, because you can only have one ignite ticking on a single target. Any new crit will replace the old ignite. For example, if pyroblast crits for 5k, but then scorch crits for 1.5k, the scorch’s ignite will replace the pyroblast ignite. Still, it is a very good talent, and a very potent source of damage for the fire tree. Supposedly, ignites are going to be changed around in the next patch, either to where the highest ignite tick is kept, or to where multiple ignites can be on the same target. I’ll update once I know.

Flame Throwing – Increases range of fire spells by 6 yards­ – Range is good, no matter what you’re using the fire tree for. Whether it be raiding, PvP, or solo PvE, this talent is very helpful. Get it.

Improved Fire Blast – Reduces cooldown of Fireblast by 1.5 sec.­ – This is purely a PvP talent. In any group PvE setting, this talent is very close to useless. In solo PvE, it’s only good assuming that you lose control of the situation enough to actually have this be worthwhile. However, in PvP, it is incredible. Fireblast is an instant, and in PvP, you use instants whenever you can. No matter what spec you are, you are going to be chucking fireblast every time it’s ready to go. Shaving 1.5 seconds off that will mean you blast more often, therefore doing more damage, and are that much closer to victory. I heartily encourage anyone considering PvP to get this talent.

Tier Three

Incinerate – Increases crit chance of Scorch and Fireblast by 4% ­- Not a very useful talent while leveling, it is golden for PvP fire mages and raiding mages. Scorch and fireblast are used very heavily in PvP, and high end raiders will be using Scorch a lot. You’ll most definitely want to have this talent for group PvE, coupled with fire vulnerability, scorch becomes a very nice spell indeed.

Improved Flame Strike – Increases crit chance of Flame Strike by 15% - This talent would be good but for one thing: Flame Strike sucks. Flame Strike is an incredibly useless AoE, having a very small area of effect; a long cast time, and not a whole lot of damage. If it was a good spell, this might have been worth a few points. As it is… it’s not worth it at all.

Pyroblast – New spell. 6 sec. cast, high damage – Pyroblast is an excellent spell to level with. As a leveling fire mage, it’s a wonderful opener when you fight a mob. But… that’s it. Unless you have PoM (Presence of Mind), you will only ever use it as an opener spell in PvE. You will never touch this in group PvE. Still, definitely get it as a stepping stone to get Blastwave, which is a very good spell.

Burning Soul – Reduces threat caused by fire spells by 10%, and gives a 70% chance to avoid interruption by damage while casting fire spells – You should get this talent for the interruption avoidance alone. If you plan on casting a fire spell, you MUST get this talent. Its usefulness knows no bounds. The 10% threat reduction is a bonus here, but a very necessary one. As fire, you will crit a lot, and thus create a lot of threat. Mitigate it as much as possible, get this talent. It’s a must for any situation.

Tier Four

Improved Scorch – Scorch has a 100% chance to make your target vulnerable to fire damage, increasing fire damage dealt by 3% per stack. Stacks 5 times, lasts 30 sec. ­– This talent is only good for group PvE, where your target is going to live at least 30 seconds. Very poor for leveling, as nothing you’re fighting should live long enough for this to even stack to full. Only moderately useful in PvP, it’ll mess up their healer/dispellers. However, this talent really shines in Raiding content, where this talent essentially means you, and anyone else using fire spells, gets 15% more damage. Mages and warlocks unite! Combine this with Curse of Elements, and your DPS will soar.

Improved Fire Ward – Gives a 20% to reflect fire spells while active – No. Just no. Fire Ward is very situational, and this talent will help you with one spell while fighting other fire mages, some warlocks, and stupid shamans. There are a ton of better places to put talent points. Hell, Improved Flame Strike is far better. Skip this talent.

Master of Elements – Your fire and frost spell criticals refund 30% of their base mana cost – This is a very handy talent for getting some mana efficiency behind the fire spec. The higher your crit rate, the more you get from this talent. Again, another fire talent that is very fine for high-end PvE, but not so good anywhere else. This talent is worst in PvP builds, as with all the resilience going around, your crit rate is going to be low. As well, “mana efficiency” is something that just isn’t mentioned for PvP.

Tier Five

Playing With Fire – Increases all spell damage dealt and taken by 3% - Fire seems to have a lot of these types of talents. This is another ability that is really only good at end-game PvE. Look at it this way… it’s a 3% increase in your spell damage. For end-game PvE, you’re not ever going to be the main focus of spells in the game, and if you are, 3% is not going to make much of a difference either way. You shouldn’t take much, if any, spell damage in a proper raid/instance run. 3% more damage from you, though, IS going to make a difference. It’s pretty lame for PvP, because you’re going to take 3% more damage, which is counter-productive to the general emphasis on survivability in PvP. 3% more damage in PvP isn’t going to make any difference

Critical Mass – Increases your critical strike chance with fire spells by 6% - You’re getting this talent. You must get it. Crit is central to the power of fire; therefore you will get this talent.

Blastwave – New spell. AoE damage with a daze on all targets – Picture this as the fire version of Arcane Explosion. Except its bigger, does more damage, has a cooldown, and adds a daze. It’s a fantastic AoE spell, get it.

Tier Six

Blazing Speed – 10% chance when hit by melee or ranged attacks to increase your movement speed by 50%. It also removes all movement impairing effects. Lasts 8 sec. – This is purely a PvP talent, and adds a great deal of mobility to fire as a PvP spec. Note that this ability does not remove root effects, like frost nova, just movement impairments, like hamstring. The usefulness of this spell is mixed. It is very effective against melee classes, allowing you to quickly gain range on them without having your cooldown abilities like blink and frost nova. It can also be very effective against hunters, essentially preventing them from kiting you. Pre-70, if you want to PvP, fire is a very solid tree to go with, and Blazing Speed is a pretty good talent to pick up. PvE, don’t even consider it.

Fire Power – Increases damage done by fire spells by 10% ­- A no brainer. A mage is supposed to do damage. Fire Power increases damage. Hence, you get this talent. K?

Tier Seven

Pyromaniac – Increases critical chance and reduces mana cost of fire spells by 3% - Another no brainer talent. Fire spec loves its crit, and here’s some more. The 3% mana reduction is a nice bonus, and if you pair it with Master of Elements and Clearcast, a fire spec mage can cast for a very long time.

Combustion – Causes each fire damage spell to increase crit chance with fire damage spells by 10%. This stacks to 100%, and lasts until you have dealt 3 critical strikes­- This is the 3-minute cooldown ability of the fire tree. It is a very potent spell, basically giving you a much higher chance of critting for a while. Some people lament the old combustion, which would simply guarantee the next fire spell to be a crit. In any case, it makes you crit more often. Get it, enjoy it.

Molten Fury – Increases damage dealt to targets under 20% hp by 20% - A passive execute for mages. This is an example of another fire talent that is solely for raiding. Solo PvE, you won’t notice this. PvP, it has a little use in finishing off a foe. But in raiding… you will adore this talent, and the substantial boost it gives to your damage. If you plan on raiding/instancing, get it, it will rock your socks.

Tier Eight

Empowered Fireball – Fireball gains an additional 15% of your bonus spell damage – Simple. The better gear you get, the stronger your fireball gets. It’s a no brainer, get it and get some mad damage from your basic damage spell.

Tier Nine

Dragons’ Breath – A fire mage’s sexy version of Cone of Cold – Yeah, get this spell. You’ll never stop loving it. It hits hard, and effectively stuns all targets for 3 seconds.

FROST

Tier One

Frost Warding – Increases Armor and resistances provided by your Frost/Ice Armor spells. In addition, gives your frost ward ability a 20% chance to reflect frost spells while active – Picture it like Improved Flame Ward, except far, far worse. Only get this if you happen to be offtanking, and as such use Ice Armor a lot. That was very hard to say with a straight face.

Improved Frostbolt – Decreases cast time of Frostbolt by 0.5 sec. – Just like Imp. Fireball, get this quick. Reducing the cast time of your base spell is awesome. Also, this makes Rank 1 Frostbolt, a very handy snare, a 1 sec. cast. This is worth it, take the points.

Elemental Precision – Reduces mana cost and chance enemies can resist your frost and fire spells by 3% - This talent is very nice to have for end-game raiding, where mages need to stack to 16% hit rating to guarantee that “resists” won’t show up on your screen. Add this talent, and you only need to stack to 13%. This is the “3” in the 10/48/3 build all the raiding mages talk about. Pretty much useless anywhere else besides end-game, unless you really like 3% mana reduction?

Tier Two

Ice Shards – Increases critical strike damage bonus of frost spells by 100% - Effectively, this means your frost spells will hit double damage when they crit, instead of 1.5 damage. This talent is key to any frost build, whether it be for PvP, PvE, whatever. You must have this talent if you’re speccing frost.

Frostbite – Gives your chill effects a 15% chance to freeze the target for 5 sec. – Another must have in the frost tree. It is incredibly useful pretty much anywhere; you will feel it’s awesome the most in PvP and solo PvE.

Improved Frost Nova – Reduces the cooldown of frost nova by 4 sec. – By itself, this talent is only useful in PvP. However, any and all frost builds will have this talent, simply because you need it to get “Shatter”. But we’ll get there. Amazing talent for PvP, allowing you to have that much more control over the encounter.

Permafrost – Increases the duration of all chill effects by 3 sec. and the slowing effect by 10% - Very, very handy for solo PvE. It makes kiting even easier then it already is. It’s also handy for PvP, slowing your enemies just a little bit more. Frost is all about control, this provides a little extra. Not the most phenomenal talent in the tree, but its pretty good. If you need the points elsewhere, don’t feel bad about ditching Permafrost.

Tier Three

Piercing Ice – Increases damage done by frost spells by 6% - Obviously, you’re getting this talent. No matter what you use frost for, this will help you out. A lot. Get it.

Cold Snap – 10 minute cooldown, instantly resets the cooldown on every other frost spell – This talent, when you’re first able to get it, is pointless. But, the deeper you get into the frost tree, the better it gets. It starts looking really nice once you have Ice Block. It looks awesome once you pick up Ice Barrier. And once you have the water elemental and Ice Lance, this talent is bloody phenomenal. Don’t bother picking it up while leveling at first, but once you have at least 3 or 4 frost abilities with cooldowns, it becomes well worth a single talent point.

Improved Blizzard – Adds a chill effect to Blizzard, lowering target’s movement speed by 65%. Lasts 1.5 sec. – This talent is only good for those of you who do the whole AoE farming thing. If you were good at it, you would pick up this talent and basically slaughter 10+ mobs at once. You could rake in a ton of xp really, really fast. However, with the changes to leveling on Patch 2.3, AoE grinding will no longer be viable, and this talent will get kicked to the curb. Useless, you might say.

Tier Four

Arctic Reach – Increases the range of Frostbolt/Blizzard by 20% and the radius of frost nova/cone of cold by 20% - How many times do I have to say it? Range is good, range is awesome. You should get this talent just for the frostbolt thing. The improved FN/CoC part is just an added bonus, although a very handy one at that. It makes both those spells far easier to aim, and it will affect far more targets.

Frost Channeling – Reduces mana cost of frost spells by 15%, and reduces threat caused by frost spells by 10% - This is the best mana cost reduction talent mages have, and this talent alone makes frost one of the most mana efficient specs there is. The threat reduction here is also very, very nice, making this a must-have for any frost mage doing group PvE.

Shatter – Increases the critical strike chance of all spells against frozen targets by 50% - This is the most well-known and the most feared talent in the frost tree. This talent alone has sprung Legendary (capital L) stories about mages in any form of PvP. This talent is the core ability that any frost mage builds on. Quite simply, if you do not have this talent, you are not a frost mage.

Tier Five

Frozen Core – Reduces damage taken by fire and frost effects by 6%. ­– No. Just no. Never. Don’t even think about it.

Ice Block – Adds a new spell that makes the caster immune to all forms of damage for 10 sec. Caster cannot move, but can be healed by others. Also causes Hypothermia, preventing Ice Block from being recasted for 30 sec. – You absolutely MUST get this talent. It can be used for anything in this game, even end-game raiding. Warlock dotting your ass to hell? Ice Block. Hunter popped Beast Within? Ice Block. Moroes stick that 5 minute Bleed debuff on you? Ice Block. Hit by Watery Tomb by Hydross? Ice Block. Some random mob beating on you and you don’t have frost nova? Ice block, and wait for the cooldown. Accidentally jump off from Thunder Bluff? Ice Block right before you hit the ground. If that’s not enough, you need this to get Ice Barrier. What are you waiting for? Get Ice Block dammit!

Improved Cone of Cold – Increases the damage dealt by Cone of Cold by 35% - A lot of mages underestimate this talent. The fact is, any and every PvP frost mage must have this. Why? Glad you asked. A mage in PvP has a hard time actually being able to cast any spells. Thus, a PvP mage uses any instant casts, whenever possible. Generally, every time the cooldown is ready to go, the spell is cast. As a frost mage, you will be using Cone of Cold a lot, pretty close to every 8 seconds. Also as a frost mage, Cone of Cold hits hard and crits very, very hard. Plus, you can hit multiple targets with it. So, I ask you. Why wouldn’t you want, no, NEED to improve the damage on that? If you’re going to PvP with your frost mage, you must have this talent.

Tier 6

Ice Floes – Reduces the cooldown of Cone of Cold, Cold Snap, Ice Barrier and Ice Block by 20% - Frost depends a lot on its cooldowns. For freezing people avoiding damage, the powerful instants; it all comes down to cooldowns. As a tree, frost is far more reliant on cooldowns than the other two specs. Reduce them. Get this talent. You’ll never figure out how you survived without it.

Winter’s Chill – Gives a 100% chance to apply the Winter’s Chill effect, which increases Frost spell critical strike chance by 2% for 15 sec. Stacks 5 times – This is very much a PvE talent, similar to the Imp. Scorch in the fire tree. If you’re raiding frost, you need all the help you can get. Get this talent. Strangely, it is also handy for competitive PvP, in that this effect can be removed by dispellers. Hence, by slamming this into various other peoples, it seriously messes up the dispellers on the other side. Also a handy way to “protect” your polymorph from being dispelled. Won’t really be useful in, say, BGs, but it comes into its own in competitive arenas.

Tier Seven

Ice Barrier – Adds a new spell that absorbs damage (base 1003 at max level). Lasts 1 minute. While it holds, spells will not be interrupted by damage – This is mandatory for a frost mage to take. This spell benefits from bonus spell damage effects. At +600 frost spell damage, it absorbs 1237 damage. This is another trademark of the frost tree, you will get this. It hugely adds to your survivability in any aspect of the game. Get it, love it, hate shamans who purge it.

Arctic Winds – Reduces chance melee and ranged attacks will hit you by 5%, and increases frost damage by 5% - Back when this talent just reduced the melee and ranged hit chance, it was a terrible talent. But now, thanks to the damage increase. You have to get it. It’s mandatory, you will have Arctic Winds as a frost mage.

Tier Eight

Empowered Frostbolt – Frostbolt gains an additional 10% of your spell damage, and an additional 5% chance to critically strike – Another mandatory talent. Ask yourself. How often do you cast frostbolt. If you answered “Its all I ever actually cast”, then you are a frost mage. Not getting this would be outright stupid.

Tier Nine

Summon Water Elemental – Self explanatory – The WE does about 750+ damage per bolt, and it can crit for around 1100-1200. It also has a freeze mechanic, basically a targeted ranged frost nova. This is an incredibly potent tool, and an amazingly powerful weapon in the hands of a frost mage. Get this; it is the pinnacle of the frost tree for a damn good reason.

WALL OF TEXT CRITS YOU FOR A BAJILLION

4 comments:

Voxmortis said...

spoon.

Traxus said...

These are great, thanks for this series. I especially like that you've taken the time to talk about each talent individually instead of just saying "17/0/44, noob" and leaving it at that. :)

Keep 'em coming!

flirt said...

Even working with the fact that half of my personal experience has been with an AoE grindey mage, I gotta say that for the first time I pretty much completely agree wit'cha.

Keep the good times rolling. Maybe you'd like to suggest some different specs for different occasions? I'm curious about how one levels as fire. <3

vox said...

this is how one levels as fire.

you target something, it dies.

next!

(leveled as fire meself, was a good sexy time)

sure, its slower, but you really get that satisfied feeling watching your crits soar