Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Flame On!! Maging it Up, Post-Patch 4.0

One day soon, my mage will kill this guy. In the meantime, we
just take pictures while sitting in his lap. Take that, Arthas!!

My main alt, Eridar has been busy the past few weeks. Her little 10-man Raid that Could has been working on the Lich King fight. We've had the same lockout for about three weeks and it's all getting better and better. I think we might kill him before Dec. 7.

But in the midst of all this is trying to hit hard as a mage and not pull aggro. Easy, right?

Hmm, it depends.

I specced up in fire, right off, because I have been and remain fairly excited about that talent tree. Living Bomb, mana-free Scorching on the run, Impact and Cauterize... What's not to like about those?

The fire tree is pretty heavy on DoTs. The super-new version of Combustion is the mark of that. But what I hadn't entirely picked up is how AoE-rampant the fire specc is.

The first week put of the gate, I start pounding Arthas with fireballs and the lucky pyroblast too. I renew Living Bomb, get an impact procc, and...

... half the ghouls and a Shambling Horror come over, knock me on my head, and I fall down. Ouch. The OT said he fumbled the taunt when that happened, so we tried it all a few more times, but basically, it had the same effect: a lot of adds, angry at me.

I chopped the AoE portion out of my rotation. There were no more aggro problems from there, but my dps fell off 2000-3000 points.

I finally started putting Living Bomb back right after Shambling Horrors had scampered off, but still couldn't get the Impact proccs in. My dps was still fairly bleah.

I have also become aware of one major problem with Impact. Suppose that the Lich King is surrounded by ghouls. He has a Living Bomb on him, a pyroblast DoT and an Ignite DoT as well. You get an Impact procc, and whoosh, suddenly all those ghouls are flaming away as well. The problem is that Living Bomb has transferred it's DoT to all the critters, but not the explosive ending. What's more, since Living Bomb can only be active on three targets at once, it has been removed from the Lich King himself.  The end result here is that nobody is going to explode from LB and the Lich King, the only really important target in this fight isn't even taking damage from LB anymore. If you ask me, that qualifies as a fairly serious design problem.

There has been another fire tree mystery that I have come to realize more about: Pyromaniac. It's a massive haste boost, but entirely dependent on putting DoTs onto three different victims. Which is dangerous in phase 1 and will be utterly useless for the rest of the fight. It will be useless on most boss fights I can think of.

Thinking about all this over the weekend, I came to the only logical conclusion: I need to do this fight in another specc. Hello, Arcane tree, my old friend. I've come to fight with you again.

The results from today's raiding as arcane was about 2k better than my best week on fire. I had a 51k Arcane Blast. I know it's ICC with a 30% damage buff, so I won't act all uber about it, but still, that was the biggest single spell cast I ever made. We can't do that all the time, but hitting the upper 30k to mid 40k fairly regularly is an intense way to play. The Val'kyr is about to get away carrying our healer? BLAM BLAM! Not anymore. That's what I call fun.

That said too, I haven't studied up on the Arcane tree at all. I was so hyped-up about fire, I don't know if I even have a very good specc laid out.

But I think mages are coming down in a way that I had not expected. It might be necessary to become fluent in two different trees. Fire's ability to make good dps is dependent on AoE effects, and Arcane really doesn't have any effective AoE at all. I think effectively fighting through a dungeon may require some specc changing along the way. Fire and it's AoE might also be a liability for trash fighting if CC is needed.

My one big worry on the arcane tree is the mastery skill Mana Adept. To make this skill pay off you want to keep your mana as high as possible, as much as possible. Right now, in ICC, that's not a big problem, even with a full rotation. But will that be the case at level 85? One of the few things I have really figured out is that the way mechanics feel right now on live servers has very little relation to what I experience at higher levels on beta. So best I can say for now is "Beware!"

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