Saturday, December 15, 2007

This is Just Sloppy

I am talking about, of course, the current itemization of Mage gear.

At best, the budgets on our gear is spent haphazardly and inefficiently.

Let's look at why, shall we?

All DPS casters require Spell Damage. That's our job. It's what we need gear for. So, we all stack spelldamage.
But wait, mages need something else too. We need to have Spell Crit rating as well as spell damage, because we are the only offensive spellcaster in the game that fully utilizes spell crit. Amongst the cloth wearers, anyways. Priests and Warlocks, really don't need it, or want it. Do they have spell crit? Sure, sometimes. But a very hefty amount of their abilities are unaffected by crit rating, and most end up skipping the stat entirely.
When a piece of loot falls that has stamina, intellect, spell damage, crit and hit, what type of loot is it? It's obviously mage loot.
If almost the same item falls, except where the crit is moved into additional stamina, it's obviously warlock loot, except the priests are going to give 'em a run for their DKP.

In the same way that something can be labelled as "Hunter loot" or "Rogue loot" based on the stats, cloth stuff with spell crit on it is almost always "Mage loot".

So. That gives us mages a stat that the other clothies could care less about. Because of spell crit, our items will always have less stamina, less intellect, less spell hit, and less spell damage.

This isn't too bad. I, personally, do not feel this is a problem. Mages likes us our spell crit, and we have multiple talents that take totally unfair advantage of it. (Ignite anyone?)

The problem is not with spell crit. The fact is, items of a certain level have a set budget. Given a piece of cloth gear, the 'lock version will have slightly higher stats everywhere else because the mage version has spell crit. Normally, I wouldn't complain here at all.
But the problem is where the rest of the budget goes...

See, mages are cursed with a horrendous stat called "Spirit". Spirit restores mana when you are not casting. By that fact alone, totally useless for mages. A mage who is not casting is a mage who is failing at being a mage.
"But Euripedes," you say, "high end raiding has a lot of movement. Therefore, while running away from spouts or Voidreaver 'splosions, couldn't you restore mana then?"
Well, sure we could! Absolutely! We could restore maybe 50, 60 mana every 5 seconds while running around like little girls! If we spend 15 seconds running in this fashion, we get enough mana to cast an extra Scorch!

In other words, it's simply not worth it. Not even close.

What makes it even worse is the fact that Spirit is detracting from other stats. It is using up valuable budgets that could be spent on useful stats, like + spell damage, or even stamina.

There are two mechanics a mage has that takes advantage of spirit. Mage Armor, and Arcane Meditation.
Arcane Meditation is only taken by arcane mages, which we have proved before is not a spec that is well loved in raiding. And no fire mage or frost mage would even consider putting points into Arcane for this. It's just not worth it to take the points from DPS talents in other places, to stick points here to get some mp5 from a stat you'll be avoiding like the plague.
It's just nonsensical.

And Mage Armor... is laughable. It really is. Pre-TBC, it was used by any and every mage, the mana regen was far better than some extra armor crap. But with the addition of Molten Armor, Mage Armor is obsolete.

Ask any mage. Would he rather get a little mp5 from a stat that he winces at every time he sees it on gear, or get 3% crit rating?

Would you rather have 40mp5, or 3% crit?

Any mage will always say 3% crit. Hands down. Not even a question. Mana regen is a stat mages don't care about, and don't want. ESPECIALLY if it detracts from our DPS, which any level of spirit (and mage armor) does.

So. Let's recap.

Spirit is useful to arcane mages, who would still choose any other stat over spirit.

Spirit is useful to mages running Mage Armor, which is totally obsolete once you have Molten Armor avaliable.

What does this mean to you, the random reader of this blog? A mages ability to DPS is directly reduced because useless stats we do not want are consistently added to our gear. Thus, classes such as warlocks have a serious gear advantage, by simple fact that their gear is always, always better than ours.

And as an extra slap in the face?

Spell penetration is added to a lot of "mage" loot. This stat is even worse... I'd rather have spirit than spell penetration.

Where spirit is very rarely useful, penetration is always useless.

Please. Clean up my mage gear.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Deep Fire: Battleground Domination

How to leave a swathe of destruction in your path as Deep Fire.

I am not talking about Arenas here. Frost is still the best there, in my humble opinion. We are talking about PvP anywhere except Arenas. Battlegrounds, World PvP, whatever.

The blunt fact is, Fire is good at battlegrounds. Fire is damn good at battlegrounds.

1) The Theory

Ok, this right here might be the most contraversial part of this post. Let's take a broad look at this. Mages do damage. Fire is a tree that amplifies the damage dealt. It increases damage, and crit rating, etc. If you look at a raiding mage, a standard spell rotation is to Scorch up a target to max debuffs, then fireball spam away. Most of a fire mages DPS comes from these fireballs. Max out Emp and Imp Fireball, and the damage is riding high.
However, we cannot cast Fireball in PvP. Well, ok, we can, but it is highly NOT recommended to do so (explained below). Therefore, sans fireball by the very nature of PvP, fire mages lose out on a spell that is their greatest source of damage.
Therefore, in a PvP battleground, compared to other classes, on a straight up DPS scenario, fire mages are way behind the average. Warriors, hunters, rogues, et al, do not lose a major source of DPS because of the mobility issue of PvP. They can still use their heaviest hitting attacks, and pump out plenty of damage.
Can fire mages match that? Of course we can, in fact, fire mages usually find themselves at the top, or near the top of the damage chart in battlegrounds. But the fact is, out of the classes involved in PvP, we do not have the same DPS potential as many other classes.
For example. At ~800 damage, Scorch hits for 750. Two of those in the time of a fireball cast is 1500 damage. In the same time span, fireball will hit for about 1700 (2200 if scorch debuffs are present). Fireball does more damage, but effectively roots you to the ground. Which is very bad.
As a fire mage in a battleground, you will not come close to matching the DPS of pretty much any other class in the game. Even kitty druids can school you in this department.


The theory of PvP is not to DPS. DPS is not your job as a mage in PvP.

So what are we there for? If not to DPS, then what?

Quite simply, we are there to purt the hurt on people. "Huh? Isn't that DPS?" Nope. Not in PvP anyways.

See, in both PvE and PvP, each class/spec has a "job" that they do. Mages are there for Crowd Control and DPS in PvE. In PvP, we are to disrupt the enemy team, and significant Burst Damage.
For burst damage, we have plenty of Ice Lances we can rely on. I mean, plenty of Instant Casts we can rely on. Fireblast, Ice Lance, Blastwave, Arcane Explosion, the list goes on. We have a very hefty arsenal of PvP spells we can use.
Now, the job that I think we mages are the best at doing is shutting down and destroying healers. Can we kill other classes? Sure, but we're best at removing healers from the picture, either permanently or temporarily. Failing that, we can make their lives miserable.
Think about it. A 10% chance for stun every fire spell? Ability to unload plenty of burst damage? On ten targets at the same time? And able to counterspell the first heal they cast, locking them out for 8 seconds? Even outright silencing them? Perhaps sheeping them and destroying their allies whilst they can do nothing?
It's a beautiful thing.

2) The Spells

In PvP, the faster you can get stuff done, the better. Due to the nature of PvP being fast as hell, you want to avoid casting anything that's going to take longer than 2 seconds to get off. What this means... NO FIREBALL. Sorry, mages, you're going to be skipping that spell in this here PvP.
Spells like Scorch, and any and all instant casts will be used and abused by you. Fireball, Pyroblast (unless you have PoM), skip them. "Why?" you ask. Simple.
One of the hugest things about PvP is mobility. You want to stay mobile, and keep your foes as immobile as possible. As a mage, if you let something get to melee range, you are going to get hurt. Seriously. Like, a lot of hurt. If you are sitting there, for 3 seconds, casting a fireball, you are not mobile. You are stuck there, essentially rooted to the ground. Thus, you become an instant target.
Second, if you're PvP'ing, you have Impact. No question. Impact is a 10% chance to stun on any fire spells. The more fire spells you cast, the more stuns that occur. If you cast a fireball, that takes 3 seconds. You have a 10% chance to stun in those 3 seconds. You can cast two scorch's in that time frame, thus giving you two chances to inflict a stun. Thus, 20% chance to stun in those same three seconds.
Blastwave and Dragon's Breath are essential tools of the trade. Blastwave is just nasty, and DB has the capability to shut down a group of people. And it hits really hard. Harder than Blastwave.
Fire Blast should be used as much as possible. Use it as a finisher, opener, or every time the cooldown is up. Spam it.
Counterspell is extremely deadly. Use this every time you can, especially on healers. 8 seconds is an eternity in PvP, especially for a healer type. It can also be used to blanket paladins/ice mages to prevent those "Immune" abilities.
Abuse Polymorph. Everyone hates it. See a healer? Sheep it. See a rogue? Sheep it. See a druid in caster form? By gum, sheep it! Polymorph forces your opponent to either be useless for 10 seconds, or to use a major cooldown to escape. Thus being vulnerable to something else. Like cyclone. Or fear. Or even frost nova. Teamwork, people.

3) The Spec

Right now, this is an excellent PvP spec. Icy Veins has no home in a deep fire PvP spec.
Improved Counterspell is ESSENTIAL. You MUST have it. A 4 second silence is incredibly cruel, and incredibly deadly to any class that casts spells. From paladins to to druids, it is deadly as hell. Try to remember when you got silenced at some other point. Think of those thouhts. "Oh, hell." "Shit!" You are useless when you are silenced. Ask a healer. ^_^
What you do with the other 15 points in the arcane tree is up to you. Generally, get clearcast, and the rest put anywhere. Get Imp. Arcane Missiles if you plan on doing the whole "Clearcast/uninterruptiblemissiles" thing.
In the fire tree, you MUST get the following:

  • Impact (Stuns? You cannot skip this)
  • Imp. Fire Blast (More instants = more damage without sacrificing mobility)
  • Burning Soul (spell pushback. Duh)
  • Blastwave (Instant AoE? Just say yes)
  • Fire Power (10% more damage. Kinda duh)
  • Blazing Speed (Incredibly useful mobility tool)
  • Dragon's Breath (Instant? Stuns? Fuck yes!)
The rest are up to you. Generally speaking, crit rating is not nearly as important in PvP, due to the survival mechanics of Resilience. You will suffer an immense loss to your crits, depending on your opponents gear. Talents like Incinerate/Ignite are far less awesome if your target has 300 resilience. Do I recommend you still take them? Yes, I do. They are still good talents, just not as good.
Obviously, you have to take Critical Mass and Combustion, so you can get at Dragon's Breath.
The scorch debuffs are a tossup. Generally, your target will not be able to stay alive long enough to get th true benefit from them.
However. It's something that has to be dispelled. If a Paladin tries to dispell Curse of Agony, but hits this instead... heh, thats cool. If you think about it, each scorch will hit harder, and makes dispellers pissed off.
Skip MoE.
In general, anything that gives a percentile increase to fire damage should be taken. Even Playing with Fire.

PvP as a fire mage is NOT about surviving. It is about killing off the other guy before they can kill you off.

Your play style has to be frantic. You have no time to waste. When you die, leave the enemy survivors in as bad of shape as possible. Blastwave, DB, do something to make your presence felt before you die.
And always REMEMBER:


Sunday, December 9, 2007

Ok Stop Math

So why is it, then, that people spec arcane? Why is it that when fire is so obviously the best DPS spec to get, why do people go arcane? What is it that compels people to spec into it?

Well, Arcane gives the illusion of DPS. When you first shoot something as Arcane, you see tons of damage. When you fire up your cooldowns and spam Arcane Blast, all you see are huge numbers that go unrivalled.

Quite simply, Arcane has the best burst DPS of any mage spec.

So let's run our standard test, 500 Intellect, 1k spell damage, hit capped, 200 crit rating.

And compare Arcane/IV with Fire/IV over DPS 1 minute, all cooldowns blown :P

Max DPS: 1613.07
Average: 946.43

Max DPS: 1248.55
Average: 1138.13

In a single solid burst, fire gets its assed kicked. Running with all cooldowns, Arcane beats it out by almost a good 400 DPS!!
But as the fight draws out, Arcane's DPS starts to falter, and fire stays consistent.

And that, right there, is the difference.

Arcane can has much higher burst damage than fire could ever do, but fire has sustained damage that is better than arcane could hope for.

And thus concludes my random posts comparing fire and arcane. For the time being, anyways.