Sunday, January 20, 2008

Raiding as Fire

Quick Stats

Most Common Specs
10/47/3 - Clearcast raid fire
2/47/11 - Icy Veins raid fire
Gains 210% damage from critical hits.
Spell Hit Cap: 164 rating

Raiding as fire.

We're talking 47 points of awesome into the fire tree, and the others spent wherever you deem fit.

It's easy.

It's unoriginal.

And it works.

Fire is, and always has been, considered THE raiding spec for these reasons. It is easier to play than either arcane or frost, and is especially tailored towards a raid environment.

Let's break out ye old spec analogy again, shall we?

All three main mage specs for raiding (here we're discussing raid arcane, raid fire, and raid frost), play differently.

Arcane, essentially, specs the mage into a balls-to-the-wall Burst DPS spec, mana be damned. Going full bore Arcane Blast with cooldowns blown will put the mage OOM in a matter of seconds, but his DPS will be insane. Utterly insane. Until his mana bar goes limp.
Think of it like the spec designed to kill the trash in raids as fast as possible.
Picture it like a Drag Racer, designed to reach speeds of excess of 240 mph, but can only maintain this for a half mile.

Fire is the opposite. It specs the mage as far away from burst DPS as possible from mage, and essentially specializes the mage for boss fights. Thats why it's so popular, "the" raid spec if you will. Any fight thats under 10 seconds is a waste of a fire mages time. This spec is designed for the long haul.
Think of it like the spec designed to fight the boss mobs in raids efficiently.
Picture it like a massive trucking... truck... designed to reach speeds of no more than 80, 90 mph, but can maintain it for almost a thousand miles.

Frost is the middle ground here. It does not have the same amount of burst damage arcane is capable of, and it does not have the long haul power that fire does. It has better burst damage than fire, and has far greater longevity than arcane.
Think of it like the spec that tries to find a comfortable middle ground between boss fights and trash killing.
Think of it like a wee little Toyota sports car that can go 140 mph, and keep it up for a couple hundred miles.

So, in the effort of providing the information that will help you decide what car is best for you, I present: Raiding Fire.

Firstly, the spell rotation of a fire mage, ideally, will be endless amounts of fireball spamming. By itself, fireball produces some of the very best damage versus time versus mana spent of any spell in the game. A warlock's shadowbolt is the only competitor.
However, a fire mage has this nifty little trick up his sleeve, called "Fire Vulnerability" (the talent is called Improved Scorch). Essentially, every time you hit something with Scorch, they take an extra 3% damage from any and all fire spells and effects. This effect stacks up to 5, meaning if you hit a mob with Scorch five times in a row, that mob will take 15% more damage from any and all fire spells. This debuff lasts 30 seconds.
So, on any given raid boss, you want to build this debuff up to its full stack of five, and then simply refresh the debuff every 28, 29 seconds to keep it going.
Therefore, you will start each fight with Scorch x 5. Once the initial debuff is up, you'll be doing fireball x 9, Scorch once, then repeat.
Obviously, if you have enough spell haste to fit in 10 fireballs in that 28 second time frame, kudos to you.
Essentially, you want to get in as many fireballs as possible between the 30 second timer mark on the debuff, and about 2 seconds away from where the debuff would "fall off". You DO NOT want to lose your stack, so make sure you are casting Scorch by, at the very latest, the 28.5 second mark.

This is, however, depending on a fight where you do not have to move. On fights where you may be switching targets frequently, or moving around a lot, you'll probably want to refresh Scorch more often.
For example, say the Void Reaver fight. If he flings an Arcane thingy at you, cast Scorch one last time before turning and running. Again, losing the Scorch debuff stack is a horrible thing to happen, and will waste many seconds rebuilding it.
To put it bluntly, fireball has, and always will, provide greater DPS than Scorch could ever hope to achieve. Any time spent rebuilding the debuff is time spent not using fireball, which is time spent doing less than your optimal DPS.
You do not want to cast fireball while there is no Scorch debuff, by simple fact that you are losing 15% of your damage if you don't have it up.
If you take nothing else away from this blog, take this:

The Scorch debuff is KEY to maintaining DPS.

If you have other fire mages in the raid, great! All of you can contribute to building the stack as fast as possible, and then have one of them refresh it every 28 seconds while the others do only fireballs. However many mages are not casting Scorch will have higher DPS than if they were the only fire mage in the raid. The one on Scorch refresh duty will have his usual DPS, but the other mage(s) doing nothing but fireball will have higher DPS because of it.

Keep this in mind. The scorch debuff does not just benefit mages, but it also benefits other classes that use fire spells, namely Warlocks.
To be blunt, a full on Scorch debuff increases the damage a warlock deals with fire spells by 15% as well. So we can help out our soul-sucking children, even though they always use Curse of Not-Helpful.
Random Raiding Tip: there are a couple fights during raiding where a warlock must tank a boss. Leotheras comes to mind. Consider this: the warlock pretty much has to spam Searing Pain to get enough aggro to hold the boss. If a full Scorch debuff is present, aforementioned warlock will generate 15% more threat. Sound good? Of course it does.

But what about trash mobs? Attempting to build the scorch debuff, only to have the mob die at 4 stacks can be an issue. If you're guild already has very high DPS, then it might not even be possible to build the scorch stack before the mob dies.
Scorch is a precursor to actual strong DPS. It is not the DPS itself, but is foreplay to the real deal.

Unfortunately, you will have to use your brain about trash mobs. I know, what a cad I am for forcing you to think.

The general rule of thumb across the entire WoW universe is that anything that will be alive for 10 seconds or longer should be Scorched first.
You will have to get a feel for your guilds damage dealing strength to decide how much of a debuff you are going to place on the trash mobs, and it also depends a lot on how many other fire mages there are in the raid.

Let's use me, for example. Being the only fire mage in the raid, I'm the only one who can provide the Scorch debuffs. The DPS power of the raid is also very strong, so there is really little time to cast spells at a mob before it dies.
On the "weak" trash mobs, i.e. the relatively low health caster mobs, I bring scorch up to 3 or 4 stacks, then get off a couple fireballs before finishing with fireblast.
On the stronger trash mobs, the ones with high amounts of health, Scorch is brought up to the full 5 stack, the fireball spamming commences.
If there's two of you fire mages in the raid, there is no reason not to have the full scorch debuff up before hitting fireball.

Similar to frost, and any mage at that, cooldowns should be used the second they are avaliable to be used, with a couple caveats.

Fire produces more aggro than any of the other mage trees, and as such immediately using all your powerful cooldowns might cause too much aggro at the get go. As well, using Combustion at the opening of a fight will pretty much "waste" the cooldown, as most of your Combustion procs will occur on the initial Scorches, which 1) don't have a lot of damage and 2) will not have the full debuff up yet, so you will lose out on damage.

As fire, cooldowns should be used as soon as it is feasible for said cooldowns to be used for fireball spamming, once the Scorch debuff is fully stacked. Make sense?

I'd like to turn your attention to a fire tree talent called "Molten Fury". It increases the damage dealt to targets under 20% health by 20%. To put it bluntly, this ability can be incredibly powerful, but you have to take advantage of it.
Against most trash mobs, for instance, this won't really be noticed, as the mob will only be alive in that health range for a few seconds. On these types of mobs, at the end of a fight, try to time it so a fireball hits right when the mobs health drops under 20%, then finish it off with Scorch / Fireblast to get as much Molten Fury damage as you can.

On boss fights, whatever boss you are fighting is going to be under 20% health for a long, long time. To take full advantage of this, you are going to want to "save" your cooldowns for when said boss drops to 20%, for the sole purpose of stacking powerful cooldowns with Molten Armor.
The reason why "save" is in quotations is because you are not going to go the entire fight without using a single cooldown... right? You're going to be smart and use them about 3 minutes before the boss will hit 20%, right?
You don't want to not touch your cooldowns at all, you just want to make sure you have them avaliable when the boss hits 20%.

If you remember, at the top of the post, I linked the two most commonly used fire builds out there.
The fire tree is always the same, those 47 points there are pretty much solidified.
About the only one you could skip getting would be Dragon's Breath, since it has extremely situational raid usage, and really, its only there to look cool.

You should always have the two points into the Arcane tree for the threat reduction, for all those times where you have to Arcane Explosion spam. Talented, it is the most amount of AoE damage possible for the least amount of threat. All raiding mages should have it.
Also, at least 3 points in frost for Elemental Precision is mandatory. That increases your spell hit, which of course is absolutely necessary.

Choosing between the clearcast spec and the Icy Veins depends entirely on how deep your mana pool is.
Clearcast lets you cast for a longer duration, effectively 10% longer. Icy Veins gives you a boost to your damage dealt, a rather significant one, I might add. Stacked with other cooldowns and Molten Fury, the boost can be staggeringly high.
The downside is that each spell has the same mana cost, so your mana consumption will rise significantly.
As a general rule, if your mana pool is 8500 (unbuffed) or higher, go with the icy veins option
If you have less than 8500, stick with clearcast until your gear gets a little better.

The final, unused point can go wherever you want, it doesn't matter.

And that is how you raid as a fire mage.


Anonymous said...

You pwn.

Athryn said...

Very cool. I shared this with my guilds fire mages in case they weren't already doing this.

Panduh said...

I have raided as all 3 specs & deep fire is my favorite and pretty much stayed that way until I got two pieces of t5. Currently I am spec'd 46/0/15 and its pretty nice. Mana really isn't a problem. AB x 3 & Frostbolt X 3 is a good combo, but i usually do a varied combo with AB, AM, scorch, Frostbolt. It depends on what I'm doing.

Mera said...

Actually, for base damage per second, smite is the base spell in the game.

Jabari said...

Dumb question (since I don't have a mage):

Is it possible to "get by" with only 40 points in the Fire tree, and get BOTH Clearcasting and IcyVeins? (10/40/11)

Stupid Mage said...


Euripedes said...

Is it possible to snag both Icy Veins and clearcast? Sure is, but it most definitely is not worth it.

To be quite blunt, you absolutely MUST have the following talents in the fire tree:

Improved and Empowered Fireball
Imp. Scorch
Playing with Fire
Critical Mass
Fire Power
Molten Fury

And to get those would require you to spend a bare minimum of 42 points in the fire tree.
End of story right there, you MUST have 42 points, minimum, in the fire tree if you intend to DPS. Preferably 43.

Therefore, you could attempt to get Clearcast, and end up with, at best, 3 points into it, coupled with icy Veins.
At that point, it would be up to you what fire talents to drop in favor of slightly higher mana efficiency.
Namely, you could drop Flame Throwing, or skip Pyroblast and Blastwave, and obviously you could simply not get Dragon's Breathe. And Master of Elements, you might pull a point or two out of there.

Personally, I really don't feel that an extra 6% mana efficiency is worth the loss of some range, or Dragons Breath / Blastwave.
And also keep in mind, no matter how you try and swing it, if you attempt to get clearcast and IV at the same time, you WILL be losing 1 point in Master of Elements. Which reduces your mana efficiency. Which is exactly what you were trying to get in the first place.

Conclusion: You can, but its not worth it.

Jabari said...

Fair enough - that's why I asked!

Thanks! :)

Methuselah said...

THANK YOU ...this whole guide has been excellent

As i prepare to spec to fire for the first time from frost this whole guide has been useful for me

SSC here i come !

Gregorian said...

After being a Mage for more than 2 years, I have recently left the Chilly side of the house, to play with some fire. I have been combing the blogs for any thoughts on which build (for fire) is best for RAIDing.

Bang! Your blog rocks! Thanks.

I just put my shadowcloth 3 piece set in the bank and am on all kara gear now, so i can't wait to get home and respec to deep fire again. I have been running Arcane fire for a few weeks, but think deep fire will help my guild more. My mages name is Gregorian off the Uldum realm, and I am the GM of the Magestri guild. Any gear thoughts welcomed.

I have 100+ badges ready for the sunwell armory to open, and think I am going to get new pants, vice the spellstrike ones I have now.

Take care!

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