Saturday, April 26, 2008

Fire mage is a way of life

There's an expression within the science fiction fan community that I come from, the abbreviation FIAWOL, meaning "Fandom is a Way of Life". In the old days (probably now as well) it was used by the more dedicated fanzine editors and convention visitors, as a way to describe how they looked upon the whole thing. The not-so-committed fans that tried to keep up some balance with real life, on their hand used to claim: FIJAGDH, ("Fandom is Just a Goddamn Hobby".)

Since converting from being a science fiction fan to a WoW fan, FIAWOL has got a new meaning to me: It could perfectly well be interpreted as Fire Mage is a Way of Life.

I chose the fire path right from the beginning of my mage career. I really don't know what I based the decision on. I guess I just read that playing fire would mean that I would kill things faster, levelling easier, while playing frost meant playing safe. Arcane was obviously out of the question for levelling. Thinking about my personality, I just couldn't identify with the safe way of the frost mage, it seemed kind of cowardly in my eyes, so I went for fire and kept so the whole way up to 70. At that point a more experienced mage in the guild I was in, told me to respec Arcane/fire. It's so much better, he said. Huge damage and less aggro problems. So I obeyed and it turned out he was absolutely right, at least with the gear I had by then.

I enjoyed playing arcane/fire for quite a while, until I slowly became aware of that I probably wasn't doing as much dps as you could expect from my gear (that had been quite upgraded, from crafting and Kara drops). According to most basic guides for raiding mages, I would do better now if I changed back to deep fire, and stay there until I had a minimum of two T5 pieces, when I could switch arcane again. So I went fire once again, and it became a bit of a chock since I obviously had forgotten a bit about aggro management in five man instances. Now I had to be on my toes all the time, unless my intention was to start tanking the boss myself (it wasn't). On the other hand I could clearly see that my damage was so much better than it used to be, especially after the patch when they gave us icy veins and I changed to 2/48/11.

Well, that's the talent build story of Larísa. Fire or arcane/fire. I have to admit that I until this very day never ever have played frost. And I guess I should be at least a bit embarrassed of it. Hey, you can't really claim that you know your class unless you've at least tried out all the basic builds of it, can you? What kind of crap mage am I?

My guildies have found out this weak point of mine. They keep nagging me, or rather begging me, to try out a frost build. One reason, which I guess is as good as any other, is that they think I'll survive better. "A living mage always make more damage than a dead one. You're just too fragile" they claim. Another reason - I suspect - is that they're much more into pvp than I am, where fire obviously isn't the strongest build. And they also think I'd be helped by playing frost when I do other things than raiding. As frost I could probably take down the trees in Skettis all on my own, which I can't at the moment.

But somehow I can't help feeling reluctant about it. And it's not about the money that I'll have to spend on it, it's rather about my identity as a mage. I just don't have the temperament of a frost mage, hey, I'm quite a warm and passionate person, not a cool and distanced one if you know what I mean. I like the symbolism of the fire mage, being that glass cannon, always walking the thin line between conquering or being conquered, on the verge of dying, but doing huge damage if I manage to live. And I love the simplicity of playing fire. Just burn them down. Keep control of your mana pool and aggro and then nuke'em. OK, keeping the threat on the right side isn't always easy, but sometimes it is (I tried out going with a pala tank this weekend, he tanked three instances in a row and I hardly caught aggro at all, I just nuked. It was like heaven for a fire mage). And when things get too rough we can always escape by iceblock - available even to fire mages these days.

Another thing I love about fire is how it looks. I enjoy watching my fireballs, blastwave, dragons breath, flamestrike and other pyrotechnical effects. Especially after I got my phoenix hatchling last week. You should see me, all dressed in red nowadays, chest from Magisters Terrace and cloak from Prince, with the bird on fire, throwing fireballs - what a sight! When we went to Mechanar and I could spellsteal and get a fire cloud all around me it looked even better - I just wish I could have that as a buff of my own. It certainly wouldn't have looked that awesome if I had been throwing snowballs (sorry, frostballs).

Well, the looking-good-argument isn't that heavy I have to admit. Then I find it more interesting that the Mage sweet information thread on the Elitist Jerks forum clearly states that the fire build is currently the best raiding build I could have, and that I should just forget about playing frost for raiding purposes, except for certain specific encounters. Why should I question those guys that obviously know what they're talking about?

The other day I eventually found the obvious answer, the reason why my guildies one day actually WILL see me surrender and spec frost one way or another. We've just started to work in Tempest Keep and I found out that Al'ar is resistant to fire. So if I want to join forces I'd better respec, or else I'll be left behind. It doesn't give me much of a choice, does it? I will abandon my fire spells, at least for a while, though I doubt that I'll go all the way down to deep frost. Maybe I'll pick an arcane/frost build. Thus I won't have to keep track of pet, which is one of those things that make frost seem kind of complicated to me. Just nuke them down as I always do, though I'll use some arcane blast and maybe a few frost balls instead of my normal spellrotation.

I'm happy as long as I can keep it simple. That's the way how fire mages do it. It's just our way of life.PSJust when I'd finished this piece I strolled into a quite interesting post on the official wow-forum, Risto's guide to arcane for beginners, that actually is advocating an arcane-frost build - even if you don't have two T5 pieces. It's one of the more convincing writings on this subject that I've seen. Maybe I'll try it out - who knows, maybe there will be a day when my device is: AIAWOL - Arcane is a Way of Life....

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