Wednesday, July 16, 2008

From fire to arcane - an evaluation

I used to be a dedicated fire mage. Actually so dedicated that I think I could very well have qualified for the secret society of sworn fire mages that I’ve actually heard exists somewhere out there. Until this very day I’ve never ever played frost and never felt any longing to lock myself into a circle of ice or sending away a frost creature to help me attack things.

Until two months ago I had never stepped any further away from the Path of Fire than playing Arane/fire for a while. That was great too and I didn’t notice any big difference, since fireball still was my main spell at that time. Since so many theorycrafters seemed to agree that fire was the best raid spec I didn’t see any point in trying something else.

But then I started to reconsider. I think what made me start hesitating in my passion for fire was the constant aggro problems I was experiencing. It felt like if I was spending most of my time standing beside, not participating in the fights, since I knew that if I did I would end up not only grabbing aggro from the mobs, but also from the tank, getting furious about me grabbing aggro. And tank’s aggro is worse than mob aggro, trust me.

As I always do when I try to sort my thoughts out, I wrote a post about it, Fire mage is a way of life, and the answers I got helped me to finally take the step. I became an arcane/frost mage. Now after a month or so time has come to make an evaluation.

Since I respecced I’ve been using a standard raiding spec, 40/0/21. This means that I’ve got Cold Snap which gives me an extra Iceblock and Icy veins on every cooldown. But I don’t have Slow, which can be a handy arcane spell at times.

So far I ’m totally happy with the change. It gives me:

1. Less aggro. An obvious answer, after what I wrote above. It’s more fun to be able to participate in a fight from the very start and to be able to put attention to other aspects of the fight than just staring at Omen…

2. Decent damage. I think most theorycrafters still stick to fire as the best overall raiding spec, but still arcane really isn’t bad and I can compete pretty well on the damage meters with other mages.

3. A few candies to enjoy. I didn’t realize how much I had missed Presence of Mind when I swapped back from arcane/fire to pure fire until I became arcane again. I don’t use it for pyroblast anymore (I don’t even have that spell since I deserted the fire talent tree), so there’s no cool PoM-Pyro-macro for me. But it’s really handy when it comes to sheeping. I use it a lot, in instances and raids for quicker and more controlled sheeping, as well as life saver when I’m questing on my own, accidently pulling too many mobs. The Ice block x 2 as mentioned is also extremely handy whenever in a party with a healer. When you’re on your own it doesn’t help that much, it just postpones things since you can’t heal yourself while frozen.

And what about the drawbacks about going arcane?
Well, I don’t know if I want to call it a real disadvantage, but I’ve certainly got to get used to a different style of playing. Instead of staring at Omen I now find myself always supervising my mana pool, anxiously, always trying to make the most possible I can out of my cooldowns.

As a fire mage I hardly ever used evocation – now it’s quite common. Going for a raid I need to bring whopping 40 mad alchemist potions to make sure I’ll manage the whole way. I find myself constantly chasing more mana, putting mana oil on my weapons instead of damage oil, always hoping to get a shaman or shadowpriest in my group to help up my mana regeneration.

After every single pull I throw myself down to the floor hoping to be able not to go to 100 percent, but at least to have a mouthful of mana biscuits to get a long a few more mobs. I love chain pulling since it keeps me focused, but it IS a challenge for an arcane mage to cope with. I’ve even started to use some odd beer for the bossfights, Kreeg's Stout Beatdown, which is kind of hard to get, you need to make a tribute run in Dire Maul to find the vendor.

Still this mana management issue of course keeps me alert and it’s quite fun to try to figure out how to best handle it. Most theorycrafters these days seem to think that you should spam Arcane Blast as much as possible, just throwing in a few frostbolts as fillers if it seems too hopeless to keep up the mana pool. But I never get bored out of the single spell spamming - it takes a lot of skill to play an arcane mage properly and I’ve still got a lot to learn before mastering it to perfection.

A while ago I got two pieces of T5 gear, which has a set bonus making my damage from AB increase 20 percent – as well as the mana consumption. It makes this spec even more fun – and challenging at the same time. If heroism, icy veins and other spellhaste increasing cooldowns are popped at the same time I can make awesome burst damage – but also empty my mana pool in no time at all. So timing is more essential than ever.

All in all – I’m a very happy arcane/frost mage at the moment, so happy that I’ve regemmed my gear to fit better with the new spec. Arcane requires a lot less spellhit than any other spec. I’ll definitely stick to it for a while.

(This post I dedicate especially for my reader Ghostboci, who wrote that you’ve been following my blog since I’m one of the few blogging arcane mages out there. For once I wrote some magerelated stuff! I can’t help wondering though… There are loads of excellent druid, pala, hunter and priest blogs out there, but mage blogs seem to be rare, especially arcane mage blogs. Aren't we the blogging kind of people?)


Anonymous said...

Know of any good Enhancement Shaman blogs out there, or am I the only one? lol

Darkhorse said...

Good to see you are enjoying your new spec, and gratz on the 2 pieces of T5! It really does make a massive difference to how you play your arcane mage.

I've been toying with the idea of going arcane for a long time but I am going to wait until I have some more mana, or perhaps when I can afford to re-gem for intellect.

I guess its too late for me to start preaching the wonderous power of the water elemental?

If I could, I would pay for your respecs just so you could have a go with one... or two if the fight goes for more than a couple of minutes... Icy veins FTW!

If you do find yourself with a watery friend one day, remember to use trinkets and cast icy veins before summoning him, that way the elemental gets the buffs also.

SolidState said...

40/0/21 is my spec too and I'm loving it. I can pop AP+trinket+IV and get massive burst damage for a few seconds while spamming AB, while the 40% agro reduction talent keeps me below the tank's agro.

But even without CDs, AB spamming is great DPS and you should be doing okay in damage meters against not just other mages but against other DPS classes too :)
Well except maybe BT/SWP raiding, I hear mages are having problems there too :(

Don't have the T5 bonus but it sounds like you can do even more imba damage with it, albeit for less time.

Anonymous said...

Being another fire renegade (and previosly arcane/fire too ..sometime i think like being your horde counterpart...)myself I stick now at 49/0/12 as i am more comfortable with it in off-raid situations.

Stick to T5 2-pieces bonus allways in instances , even if got better looking gear... and fight for a SP for you (mana,mana)

Do not invest in spell haste (I did it :-S)...It is great for fire but as arcane with icy veins your efforts are better in spell dam and even spell crit

Anonymous said...

Man.. Zupa's selling those water elementals all over the shop... let's hold out a little longer and we will get 2 for the price of 1.. ohh hang on, that's already on offer through cold snap.

I throw the occasional arcane blast, but I think I will stick with the smell of burning fur in the morning.. for now anyway...

Prefer the graphics, the sounds, that burning toast smell ;-)

Tell us more though... what spells, when, how much mana before I make the switch... not that I am ;-)

Anonymous said...

What have I done?, What have I done? Gnomeaggedon suddenly thinks I'm a theorycrafter just because I shared a little of my experience of my current spec. What spells, how much mana... oh dear, oh dear... How should I know???? :)

Honestly this isn't Elitist Jerks's forum, but ok, I'll think about it and I may accept the challange and be back on the topic.
It is a bit fun to talk about mage things for once. And I'll do anything to keep those water elements away! :)

Arcane blast really looks cool in my eyes... It varies though depending on how you've put your spell detail setting.

Another last comment: Most of this post was written quite a while ago, at a point where there were quite few mage blogs around, at least very few I knew of. Recently we've had several additions, like Armageddon's Coming and Automatica. Things are really looking a lot better these days.

Anonymous said...

Been dabbling with a few mages, with my current being a mageling leveling her way up Frost for a change. Fire I get and know; Frost I've come to love; Arcane just rankles me for some reason.

Maybe it's the fact that the character that I play most is a mana-efficient, Improved Divine Spirit, Spirit-lovin' human (gotta love The Human Spirit!) priestess o' happiness who spends most raids gleefully healing without any regard to the big blue bar. The idea of being mana efficienct in order to sustain damage or healing is so ingrained into me that the low DPM of Arcane spells sends me into convulsions.

40/0/21 seems to be the preferred Arcane raiding builds these days, assuming that you have your Tier 5 two-piece bonus and enough buffs (Shadow priest, Mana Spring Totem, MP5-focused consumables) to sustain your damage. With that in mind, barring substantial amounts of Spell Haste (which really doesn't seems as beneficial to an Arcane mage), the most mana efficient spell rotation seems to be Arcane Blast -> Arcane Blast -> Arcane Blast -> Arcane Missiles -> Scorch. It mazimizes the amount of damage you do per point of mana spent. You can always drop the debuff by casting Arcane Missiles twice in a row.

And if Clearcasting procs, I think most people just jump right into Arcane Missiles.

Zupa: I didn't know that my buffs get applied to the Water Elemental! Good tip! I'll have to keep that in mind when I do finally snag it.

Anonymous said...

Wrex, is this your blog?

Green Armadillo said...

I leveled as Arcane/Fire back in the days before patch 1.10. I swore that this was the only way to go at the time. You were so close to the good stuff like POM by the time you spent 18 points for Evocation and instant Arcane Explosions that it seemed a waste not to finish the job. Meanwhile, with more talents that applied to all spells, you were less dependent on single schools than fire or frost mages (the former being a big issue in MC/BWL).

When 1.10 happened, I switched over to deep frost, and was convinced that was the only way to go. I was raiding MC/BWL at the time; I may have been lower on the damage meters, but I could clear Firemaw's debuffs with ice block at least twice during the fight, and I could use my mana on ice barrier instead of my healers' mana healing me.

Nowadays, I'm convinced that the Water Elemental is the pinnacle of talents. Extra damage, extra frost novas, and a separate spot on the aggro table makes this guy far more compelling to me than anything I could possibly get anywhere. (Of course, I don't raid anymore, so I don't have to answer to anyone other than myself on my DPS.) I've tried out other specs on the PTR's, and I can't see why I'd want to give up that much survivability for any of the other benefits.

My point? Talent trees and talent specs change over time, and by what situation you find yourself in. This isn't a bad thing, it means you get more variety. And hey, just in time, new talents coming soon to a tree near you. ;)

Anonymous said...

I could not part with Slow, so I'm on 41/0/20. Have you noticed that Bosses are NOT immune to slow? It's extremely useful when the spellcasting of the the boss must be interrupted.

BTW don't forget to check the offocial talent calculator for the WotLK. It contains some really nice arcane talents