Recent OP Updates
This post is constantly being updated. Check back every now and then to see if any suggestions or advice have been improved or changed. The most recent updates are viewable by clicking the spoiler tag below:
FAQ: Common Questions Answered
This section is intended to quickly answer the most common questions regarding Fire in simple terms. For full, thorough explanations of each point and further details - read this entire post.
Help! I want to learn how to use Rawr / SimulationCraft - but i'm not sure where to start!| Follow this link and you'll be moving in the right direction: Cataclysm Fire Mage Compendium: Rawr and SimulationCraft
What should I do immediately when 4.06 Hits?|Familiarise yourself with the changes to the relative values of Crit/Haste/Mastery. The Haste/Crit value changes specifically might result in you needing to tweak some of your Gear: Enchants, Gems and Reforging. For example: Depending on your current stats and gear, a Reckless Ember Topaz (20 Int + 20 Haste) may now be higher in value than a Potent Ember Topaz (20 Int + 20 Crit)Enchant your Bracer with 50 Intellect (Replacing the current Hit or Haste enchant you may have). Reforge your gear if necessary to reach the Hit Cap again afterwards. Replace your current Metagem with the new Burning Shadowspirit Diamond. Check all of the Blue/Purple gems currently in your gear: The new Meta-gem doesn't need any for activation, whereas some old Meta-gems did. Only use Purple gems if the socket bonus is strong enough to warrant doing so. Replace all Blue gems, they are no longer used at all (A single Blue gem was used previously by some for the sole purpose of activating the old meta-gem, this is no longer necessary).Check your spec: Reconsider whether all of the following talents are really necessary in light of the Mana nerfs: Improved Scorch, Arcane Concentration, Master of Elements. Whether all these talents are still necessary will depend on the content you're currently doing.Read the latest information pertaining to Scorch Weaving (now obsolete) and Ignite Munching|
Haste VS Mastery VS Crit: What's best after 4.06?| Combat Rating relative values shuffle depending on a given character's current stats and gear. Therefore, the most accurate relative values applicable to YOU can be found by using SimulationCraft and Rawr - and importing YOUR character. General guidlines for review have been provided in the "Combat Ratings: Relative Values" section.
Why has "Crit Rating" dropped in value according to X?| Ignite Munching: Various tools such as SimC/Rawr are introducing support for more accurately modelling or accounting for Ignite Munching. Please note that Ignite Munching itself has always been there, it just hasn't always been accounted for until now. Ignite Munching results in considerable amounts of lost damage, which in turn devalues the stat itself. Read the Ignite Munching section for more details as to why and how this happens.
Is "Scorch Weaving" still necessary to manage mana?|No. Scorch Weaving is effectively dead. It was required at the start of Cataclysm because Fireball cost 16% of Base Mana - and was thus mana unsustainable to cast for extended periods. Recent changes lowered the Fireball spell cost to 9%, low enough such that Fireball spam is now mana sustainable, rendering Scorch Weaving unnecessary. Scorch still has a time and place for other uses, though (eg: During periods of movement).
The numbers given to reach the Haste Cap don't add up. I calculate you need +X% from Gear, but the EJ Fire Guide says you need less. Is the information provided wrong?| No, it's correct. The reason is because Haste is multiplicative, not additive. The numbers are not meant to add up because Haste is not additive! Read the "Advanced Gearing: Haste" section for more details
What is "Ignite Munching?"|Ignite Munching is a phenomenon that results in Ignite doing less damage than would otherwise be predicted. This results in a DPS loss, and negatively impacts the value of specific stats such as Crit and Mastery. Read the "Advanced Gearing: Crit and Ignite Munching" section for more details
What's the most powerful stat?| Intellect by far. Intellect is much stronger than Hit, even when you're below the Hit Cap. Intellect is a very strong primary stat. Don't confuse Intellect with strong secondary stats such as Hit. Reaching the Hit Cap is still very important, but the goal is to avoid sacrificing Intellect in the process.
Does the Tier 11 2 piece bonus work with "Pyroblast!"?|Yes.
Which Armor should I use?| Molten Armor at all times
What is the "Soft Haste Cap"?|The term "Soft Cap" has been taken out of context by many players and is now a source of misinformation. The "soft cap" refers to the specific level of Haste required such that a given fire DOT gains one additional tick over its duration. However, Haste still has a similar value before and after the 'soft cap'. It's just that reaching the soft cap itself results in an additional free tick - and thus a small increase in DPS. The % of Haste required varies, depending on the DOT in question and the amount of additional ticks being referred to. See the "Advanced Gearing: Haste" section for more details.
What's a mod you suggest using to help improve performance?| Download CombustionHelper . Combustionhelper was created by Angayelle , who's also an EJ member and contributor to this very thread.
Why can't Combustionhelper tell me the exact amount of damage the current Ignite on a target is doing?| Response from Angayelle: An Ignite on a target is essentially a kind of bank, which stores a portion of your Critical Fire spell hits. Every 2 seconds it will release a part of this bank as a dot (a half or a third of the bank, depending on when the last critical happened). We don't have a way to query the game for the current value of that bank. We have a few techniques to try and guess the Bank value, but they are not always accurate due to factors such as Ignite Munching.
Why can't Combustionhelper tell me what spell the current Ignite on my target was caused by? (Eg Pyroblast, Fireball, Living Bomb etc)|Response from Angayelle: The Ignite bank is filled with critical hits from Fire spells. Within this bank there's no difference between whether the damage came from, say, a Scorch or a Pyroblast. As an analogy, take a bucket, fill it with sand using different kind of spoons. Now can you tell me which sand belonged to which spoon? This is exactly the same. However, we can track crits and tell you which spell Crits and for how much - but that's something completely different.
This thread is a consolidated resource for Cataclysm Fire Mages. It will address all key points Fire Mages need to understand or be aware of. Many generous members of the EJ Mage community lend their time, knowledge and skills to make it possible to present this information to you. At various points in this post we'll make reference to "Patchwerk Style Fights". This refers to fights which have little-to-no movement, no adds, and nothing else of note other than to simply "Stand still and DPS the boss". Argaloth is a good example of a Patchwerk-style fight for Cataclysm.
Firstly, why play a Fire Mage? Lets answer that by taking a quick look at the strengths and weaknesses of the spec itself:
Strengths|Excellent DPS Mobility. You can cast Scorch, Living Bomb, Pyroblast!, Blastwave and Flamestrike all on the run. Make sure you take maximum advantage of this, it's a key strength of a Fire Mage on movement heavy encounters. Always cast something while moving: while moving to position, while grouping up or spreading out, while avoiding boss mechanics, while kiting - even while mid-air after being knocked back. Just don't stop casting something!Strong AOE Power. Impact, Impact-Combustion, Blastwave, Improved Flamestrike, Pyromaniac: They all work together to make you a powerful AOE caster. Even while nuking a single target, Impact will allow you to splash your DOTs to nearby targets. Take advantage of this whenever possible.Ability to cast even while OOM. Improved Scorch makes the spell totally free, so you can always cast it regardless of your mana level. A Scorch rotation isn't optimal DPS, but it's much better DPS than an OOM caster who can't cast anything.|
Weaknesses|Crit Dependancy: Crit is the heart of the Fire spec: Hot Streak Pyroblasts are the result of crits, Master of Elements restores mana after Crits, Flashburn mastery is more useful when spells Crit and leave an Ignite, Combustion is a more powerful/easily used cooldown when you crit. Crits make Fire Mages strong, but it's also our Achilles Heel. Without many Crits, especially in Cataclysm when Combat Ratings are much lower across the board, the Fire spec suffers.Vulernable to RNG and a higher DPS Variance: Due to the aforementioned notes regarding Crit Dependancy, Fire can have a high DPS variance. It can be greatly affected by strings of bad RNG, especially when getting unlucky with Crits.
Talent Calculator|Cataclysm Talent Calculator: Mage
chardev Character planner|chardev 8 - Cataclysm Beta
FAQ: Non-Obvious Mage Mechanics, by Lhivera|FAQ: Non-Obvious Mage Mechanics - Forums - World of Warcraft
Fire Mage Guide (Official Forums)|Mage - Forums - World of Warcraft
Fire Mage Guide (MMO-Champion Forums)|Mage
Vontre's Cataclysm Mage PvE Guide|http://elitistjerks....lysmic_changes/
EJ Mage Resources|http://elitistjerks....mage_resources/
Mage Simulators and Formulators|http://elitistjerks....rs_formulators/
Combustion Helper|CombustionHelper: Small Addon used to track Fire Dots, Procs and manage Combustion
Rawr and SimulationCraft: Where to Start
Rawr and SimulationCraft are very popular tools used by many players to help get the best performance out of their characters. Learning how to use them is easy, quick, rewarding - and is therefore an excellent investment of your time. Here are the basics to get these tools up and running to look at Relative Stat Values for your character. Don't be afraid to play around with these tools to discover more of the information they are capable of providing. There is a vast wealth of further information on their respective websites and/or the Links provided below, this is just a very brief guide to start people off on the right track.
[table=head]Tool|Website|Download Instructions|Quick Notes|For More Information
Rawr| Rawr |Rawr can be run online via this location: http://elitistjerks.com/rawr.php . You may be prompted to install appropriate software first. Alternatively, you can download Rawr for offline use via Rawr|To import your character: Click "File" then "Load from Battle.net" and fill in your Character Server/Realm/Name particularsTo see the "Relative Stat Values" for your character, Click on "Gear -> Slot" then "Stat Values" then "Relative Stat Values".Rawr has an impressive amount of incredibly useful features, too many to even list here, useful for beginners and advanced users alike. It's a good idea to simply spend time playing around with Rawr, experimenting with the available features.|http://elitistjerks....7825-rawr_mage/
SimulationCraft|Welcome to SimulationCraft|Via the SimulationCraft website, follow the central link and navigate to "Downloads" (Which will take you here: Downloads - simulationcraft - Project Hosting on Google Code). Download/extract the appropriate .zip file to your computer and simply run it afterwards.|To Import your Character into SimulationCraft and find out Relative Stat Values:1: Via the "Import" tab, navigate to your character on the armory and click Import.2: Go to 'Options' then 'Scaling' and check all 6 stats relevant to Mages (Int, Spell Power, Haste, Crit, Hit, Mastery).3: Click "Simulate". Results will be populated and appear in the Results section. Your Relative Stat values (ie "Scale Factors") will be viewable here.Another example: Let's say you're currently a ~359 Fire Mage, but want to see what the Relative Stat Values are for a ~372 geared mage in BIS gear. Doing this will let you compare results - and see how values change depending on current levels of gear. Click "Import" - but instead of using your character on the armory - choose "BIS" then navigate to Mage Tier 11 and choose the Fire 372 Profile. Click simulate to populate results using this profile. In the "Results" section, the "Origin" link provided will show you the actual gear used for the BIS profile you just simulated. Information regarding which Glyphs and Talents were used is displayed as well.|http://elitistjerks....el_development/
Interpreting Rawr and SimC Results
The text below is a quoted post by Kavan, who's responsible for the Mage Module of Rawr.
If you make some changes to your gear because Rawr suggests it and you don't see the expected results there can be many reasons for this. The first conclusion most make, and it definitely is one possibility, is that Rawr is wrong. But there are other options to consider such as rng, buffs and when you introduce real raid events it becomes even more tricky.
So how do you determine what is really going on. Tools like Rawr and simulationcraft operate on averages. Rawr uses theoretical averages based on mathematical models while simulationcraft gives you averages based on thousands of runs. Now you make one small change in gear and go do a couple of runs with it. If you look at simulationcraft damage spread for Fire you'll see that there's a 15% deviation in either direction from average. When you make a change that the tools say will result in 100 dps increase on average when the actual value can vary up to 8k between repeated attempts with no change you have to be very careful what you're attributing that to.
I hope the above was a strong enough warning to take rng very seriously into consideration. Now let's assume that we're accounting for rng and we still think there is something wrong. What can you do to help figure out why that is the case and help us improve our tools in making better predictions. The best thing you can do is to save combat logs and look at detailed breakdowns of damage by spell. Both Rawr and simulationcraft give you their breakdown by spells as well and comparing against this will give you the best indication of where the source of the problem is.
Check things like crit percent of individual spells, check contribution to total damage of individual spells, check damage ranges of spells, check dot uptimes and anything else that might be relevant. Now do this before and after the change to gear and compare it. What kind of changes do you see in practice vs what is predicted by the tool? In general this will be hard to distill because of the above mentioned rng, but this is the best thing you can do in pinpointing the problem.
In some cases if you're comparing results on actual bosses the reason for difference might be something like aoe or other raid mechanic that is not modeled. In that situation there's not much you can do other than to help in developing better models that support those situations. In other cases you might find some insight that will improve our understanding of existing mechanics and will allow us to create better models such as for example model for average Combustion damage. In general the more controlled environment you have, the less procs and other events, the easier it will be to validate results and make improvements. As we become more confident on the validity of models in simple scenarios we can move further on to more complex situations.
Ideally in the end we'll be able to make accurate predictions that will help in gearing decisions for everyone. Noone is out there to intentionally deceive you, what you're getting is the best result we have given the current understanding of mechanics.
Cataclysm Fire Mage
Playing a Fire Mage: The Basics
Parts of the section below were originally written by Vontre here: http://elitistjerks....lysmic_changes/
Fire Armor Choice|Fire Mages should use Molten Armor at all times.
Single Target Fire DPS|Use Hot Streak whenever possible, recast Living Bomb after every explosion, use Flame Orb whenever possible, and spam your filler nuke in between. Filler nuke can be Scorch, Fireball, or Frostfire Bolt. Fireball is the highest dps. Scorch is used during periods of movement or knockbacks. Frostfire Bolt is an alternative to Fireball, but is lower DPS.
Debuffs|Make sure the Critical Mass debuff is always present on your target (Unless another Mage/Warlock is applying an equivalent buff).
Mana Management|After Patch 4.06 - there isn't much 'Mana Management' required to playing the Fire spec anymore. However, make sure you have enough mana to cast Fireball during Molten Fury range (-35% Health), Boss weakened phases and during powerful trinket on-use or passive proc periods.
Combustion|Recognise that "Ignite" is by far the most important contributor to a strong Combustion. Don't use Combustion without Ignite present. Ideally, use Combustion when Ignite, Pyroblast (Dot), and Living Bomb are on your target. The biggest Ignites will stem from Pyroblast and Fireball crits, resulting in bigger Combustions. You can, however, fish for Ignites via Scorch if you have no time to wait. Download CombustionHelper to assist you in managing this cooldown more easily
Multiple Target Fire DPS|Put Living Bomb on 3 targets, use Blastwave on cooldown and spam Flamestrike. Mana management is also an essential part of multi-target dps. You will not have enough mana to continually spam AoE for an extended period. Fortunately Fire specs have easy ways to dramatically improve efficiency. Use Blast Wave whenever possible as this is a very mana efficient spell. Even if you are in maximum efficiency mode Blast Wave is still good. Only using Flamestrike only when its dot is expired will greatly increase its dpm. You can further increase dpm by skipping Flamestrike and spamming Scorch with Living Bomb on a single target to fish for Impact procs. Impact procs are unreliable, but do MASSIVE AoE damage with very high efficiency.
Fire Mobility|Fire can use every spell in its arsenal while moving except for Fireball. While moving continue casting as normal, but use Scorch in place of any Fireball casts. Never stop casting!
Gearing a Fire Mage
The most important initial step to correctly gearing a Fire Mage is to understand how we value various Combat Ratings. Our understanding of Combat Ratings will influence the gear we choose to wear, enchants, gems, meta-gems... everything.
Important||Combat Rating relative values shuffle depending on a given character's current stats and gear. Therefore, instead of offering precise numbers here for a hypothetically geared player, we're offering general guidelines instead.
Important||Specific Combat Rating relative values applicable to YOU can be found by using Simulationcraft and Rawr - and importing YOUR character. For details on how to do this, read the section entitled, "Rawr and SimulationCraft: Where to start"
||Last Table Update: 18th February
1|Intellect|Intellect is the strongest stat by far. Intellect increases our Spell Power, Critical Strike Chance and our Mana. Fire Mages aggressively Gem, Enchant and Gear towards maximising the amount of Intellect present on their gear.
2|Hit|Hit is a very strong stat, but still weaker than intellect. You'll need 17% hit (1742 rating) for Tier 11 boss mobs. Capping Hit rating is a high priority, but avoid doing so at the expense of Intellect. The value of Hit falls off once Hit capped.
3|Spell Power|Spell Power can be found on weapons and trinkets. Spell Power is a very strong stat.
4|Haste OR Crit|So which is better? The answer: It depends. It depends on YOUR character's current stats and gear. The best way to find out the relative values of Haste and Crit is to import your character into Rawr and/or Simulationcraft.Ignite Munching devalues Crit Rating considerably. In a bug-free world without Ignite Munching, Crit would be considered a much stronger stat. But in practise, Crit loses considerable value when Ignite Munching is factored in and accounted for. Various tools (SimulationCraft, Rawr) now more accurately account for Ignite Munching, and as a result, Crit has been devalued to levels that more accurately reflect ingame results.Due to Crit being devalued by Ignite Munching, Haste can sometimes (with specific gear and stats) edge it out to become a more valuable stat. It's not really a case of Haste having shot up hugely in value recently. Although recent mana changes may indeed have increased the value of Haste slightly, the biggest factor was moreso that Crit has been more accurately modelled - and subsequently devalued - to more appropriate levels that reflect ingame results.|
5|Mastery|Mastery is commonly considered the weakest stat. Due to this, Mastery is the first candidate to reforge off into Hit Rating.
At level 85, the following values reflect how much of a given rating is required for +1%:
[table=head]Stat|Rating Required for +1% @ Level 85
Int|648.91 (Gives 1% Crit)
Source|Combat Ratings at 85
The links below display all of the Cataclysm gear currently available to Mages.
Blue Quality|Heroic Instances, Justice Point Rewards, Crafted via Professions, Reputation Rewards|Blue Items by Slot
Epic Quality - Wowhead| Raid drops, Crafted via Professions, Exalted Reputation Rewards|Epic Items by Slot
Epic Quality - Loot Rank| Raid drops, Crafted via Professions, Exalted Reputation Rewards|Epic Items by Slot
BIS List: Tier 11
Last Section Update 25th January.
Please note: This BIS list below is now outdated and might NOT be accurate until a new BIS is agreed upon and made for Patch 4.06+. For example, the BIS list below is reforging Haste to Crit and still using Int+crit gems. I'll leave the list here for now, because many items are still BIS even after 4.06 changes (even if they may now be reforged/gemmed differently). Treat the list below as something of general interest, whilst mindful an updated list might use similar gear - but will have points of difference. To follow the discussion regarding the accuracy of the BIS list below, click here
Notes: Hit Cap, Meta-Gem, Enchants
While gearing, you'll need to be aware of the following situations outlined below.
Reaching the Hit Cap|Reaching the 17% hit cap with Cataclysm level combat ratings is difficult to achieve without consciously trying. Here's a good strategy:1: Pick gear with Hit Rating.2: Only use hybrid Purple Hit Gems (20 Int + 20 Hit) if the socket bonus is strong enough to do so. Read the Gemming section for more details (Gemming for INT is still your top priority)3: Enchant your gear for Hit: IF you'll get the full value out of the enchant AND there's no Intellect equivilant enchant available for that slot. (Enchanting for INT is still your top priority)4: Reforge the weakest combat ratings into Hit rating, starting with Mastery.|
Choosing a Meta-Gem|Use a Burning Shadowspirit Diamond. newly introduced in Patch 4.06. The activation requirement is simply to have a minimum of 3 Red gems in gear. In the meantime, you can temporarily use the Ember Shadowspirit Diamond Metagem instead. If that is too rare/expensive currently on your server, the WOTLK version may suffice: Ember Skyflare Diamond
Enchants|Enchant for INT where possible. If there's no intellect enchant available, then follow the order of: Hit (If you'll get the full value out of it) -> Crit / Mastery / Haste (Use Rawr/SimC to find out what the correct stat order is for your level of gear). Special Note: Boot Enchants are an exception, see below.
Runspeed Enchant| Time spent moving is effectively lost or lower DPS. Although you can still cast Scorch while moving, it's still lower DPS then a Burn rotation. Runspeed enchants therefore can be considered a DPS enchant for many encounters, and a strong one at that, with the actual value varying depending on the unique movement requirements of each encounter. In a Patchwerk style fight, however, where there's no movement at all - there are 50 Hit / Mastery enchants available which would strictly be superior for DPS. Generally speaking however, the vast majority of encounters require sufficient movement to make Runspeed the best enchant for boots by far.
Enchants and Item Enhancements
To view the full list of available Enchants, including Profession Specific enchants, visit Cataclysm Mage Resources
[table="head"]Slot | Enhancement | Notes
Source: Cataclysm Mage Resources||
Head | | Guardians of Hyjal: Revered
Neck | |
Shoulders | | Therazane: Exalted
Back | 50 Int|
Chest | 20 All Stats|
Wrists | 50 Int|
Hands | 50 Haste OR 65 Mastery |
Waist | 1 Socket | Made by Blacksmithing
Legs | 95 Int & 80 Stamina | Made by Tailoring
Feet | Runspeed & 35 Mastery| Non-Runspeed options are: 50 Mastery OR 50 Haste OR 50 Hit
Rings | |
Mainhand Weapon | Power Torrent|
Offhand Weapon | 40 Int|
Intellect is always at the forefront of our mind when it comes to Gemming: Fire Mages aggressively prioritise gemming for Intellect on gear. The following gems are at our disposal:
20 Intellect + 20 Haste|
20 Intellect + 20 Crit|
20 Intellect + 20 Hit|
So, should we always just gem for pure +40 Intellect? Not necessarily. Sometimes the socket bonus will indeed be strong enough such that +20/20 gem combinations will be superior. Lets look at three examples:
[table=head]Item|Socket & Bonus|Solution
|1 x Red Socket, 1 x Blue Socket, +20 Intellect socket bonus|We have two options:Option A: 2 x Brilliant Inferno Ruby = 80 IntOption B: 1 x Brilliant Inferno Ruby + 1 x Veiled Demonseye + Socket Bonus = 80 Int + 20 HitConclusion: 80 Int + 20 Hit >>> 80 Int. For this item, we want the socket bonus and gem accordingly.
|1 x Yellow socket, +10 Mastery socket bonus|We have two options:Option A: 1 x Brilliant Inferno Ruby = 40 IntOption B: 1 x Potent Ember Topaz + Socket Bonus = 20 Int + 20 Crit + 10 MasteryConclusion: 40 Int >>> 20 Int + 20 Crit + 10 Mastery. For this item, we skip the socket bonus and gem for pure Int.
|1 x Blue Socket, +30 Crit Socket Bonus| We have two options:Option A: 1 x Brilliant Inferno Ruby = 40 IntOption B: 1 x Veiled Demonseye + Socket Bonus = 20 Int + 20 Hit + 30 Crit Conclusion: 20 Int + 20 Hit + 30 Crit >> 40 Int. For this item, we want the socket bonus and use a blue gem.
In every example above, notice how Intellect is always present. Intellect is always at the forefront of a Fire Mage's mind when it comes to Gemming. No non-intellect gems are even considered. The "Relative Stat Values" table above will help players ascertain whether any given combinations of X stats will beat Y Intellect. Sometimes they will, sometimes they won't. There is one exception for Engineering Helms, which use Cogwheels. Given that there is no Intellect Cogwheel, you can use a Hit Cogwheel instead. (Or Crit / Haste / Mastery if the Hit is unnecessary).
Speccing a Fire Mage
Here's a good starting build for a Level 85 Fire Mage: Starting Level 85 Fire Build: 3 / 35 / 3
- Improved Scorch was picked up, though be mindful that the talent is now classified as "Situationally Recommended" instead of "Essential". The value of this talent now largely depends on the type of content you're doing: Longer heroic encounters, encounters with heavy AOE-mana demands, or encounters where Evocation can't be used or is difficult to use - will render Improved Scorch still desirable. For other encounters or content, this talent could be safely skipped.
- Arcane Concentration was skipped. While this talent was a minor DPS gain (at best) prepatch, it's arguably not worth any points at all now - after recent mana spell cost reductions.
- No points in Improved Fire Blast were taken. This means you'll need to be within 30 yards to use Impact, which is the base Fire Blast range. Whether players deem this range to be unacceptably low for AOE fights is highly subjective.
- Blazing Speed is skipped. PvP talent.
- Molten Shields is skipped, but you may wish to allocate spare points to it. Situational, minor talent. Might seem some very limited use in specific encounters, but nothing of note.
- Cauterize is picked up. During new Heroic and Progression content, this talent is extremely useful. Cauterize is not only passive, but on a 1 minute cooldown. Remember that Cauterize can also situaionally be used for DPS, in addition to its survival passive.
- Pyromaniac is picked up, but be mindful that it's still a very situational talent.
Advanced Gearing Notes
Haste: Additional DOT Ticks
Thanks to Roywyn for writing much of the section below.
Many Spell DOT's gain additional ticks at specific levels of Haste. For Fire Mages, the levels of Haste required are:
[table=head]Spell|+1 Tick|+2 Tick|+3 Tick|+4 Tick|Notes
Frostfire Bolt (Dot from Glyph)|12.5%|37.5%|62.5%|87.5%||
Ignite|||||Ignite does not gain any additional ticks from Haste
Flame Orb|||||Flame Orb is not considered a DOT. It does not gain any additional ticks from Haste
DoT spells get their first extra tick when you have an amount of haste that would theoretically grant you only half an extra tick. For every extra tick after the first, you need the additional amount of haste which would grant you an extra DoT tick. As an example: Living Bomb and Pyroblast each tick 4 times. That means they require 12.5% for their first additional tick. For the 2nd, 3rd and 4th additional ticks they require: 37.5%, 62.5% and 87.5% haste respectively.
The first additional tick of Living Bomb, Pyroblast (Dot) and Frostfire Bolt (Dot) requires 516 Haste Rating. This is only ~4.022% from gear. You might be thinking, "You just said we need 12.5% Raid Buffed. So why do we only need ~4.022% from gear?" The answer is two-fold:
1: Haste Raid Buffs and Haste Talents: During raids, you'll have 5% extra haste from any caster hybrid and 3% haste from the Netherwind Presence talent.
2: Haste is Multiplicative: You might be thinking, "The numbers don't add up. If you need 12.5% Haste Raid Buffed for an additional tick - why isn't the calculation simply 5% from Raid Buffs + 3% from Talents + 4.5% from Gear = 12.5% Raid Buffed?" The answer is: You cant simply add Haste together liks this, because Haste is not additive. This is how the value for Haste Required from Gear is derived:
Haste is is multiplicative. To solve for how much Haste Rating is needed from Gear to reach 12.5% Raid Buffed:
1.03 (Netherwind Presence Talent) x 1.05 (Hybrid Haste Raid Buff) x 1.xx (Haste Required from Gear) = 1.125
Gear = 1.040221914008322
1% Haste = 128.057 Rating required
4.0221914008322 x 128.057 = 515.06976 or 516 rating required
Due to Haste being multiplicative, we indeed only need ~4.022% from gear after factoring in Raid Buffs and Talents, not 4.5% (such as if it were additive).
The table below displays the Haste values required for additional ticks of Living Bomb, Frostfire Bolt (Glyphed) and Pyroblast (Dot) in a variety of Scenarios:
[table=head]LB, Pyro, FFB Dot|Notes|||||
Additional Ticks|+1 Tick|+2 Ticks|+3 Ticks| + 4 Ticks||Notes:
Default Haste %|12.5%|37.5%|62.5%|87.5%||NP = Netherwind Presence (3/3)
+Nothing|1601 Haste|4802 Haste|8004 Haste| 11205 Haste||Troll BS = Troll Berseking Racial
+NP|1181 Haste|4289 Haste|7397 Haste|10506 Haste||Goblin = Goblin 1% Haste Racial
+NP + Raid|516 Haste|3476 Haste|6436 Haste|9396 Haste||Raid = Standard 5% Haste Buff
+NP + Raid + Heroism|-|-|1996 Haste|4283 Haste|| Heroism = Heroism / Timewarp / Bloodlust
+Goblin|1458 Haste | 4628 Haste|7798 Haste|10967 Haste|
+Goblin + NP|1043 Haste|4120 Haste| 7197 Haste|10275 Haste|
+Goblin + NP + Raid|383 Haste|3314 Haste|6245 Haste|9176 Haste|
+Goblin + NP + Heroism|-|-|1849 Haste|4103 Haste|
+Troll BS|-|1867 Haste|4535 Haste|7203 Haste|
+Troll BS + NP|-|1440 Haste|4030 Haste| 6620 Haste|
+Troll BS + NP + Raid|-|762 Haste|3229 Haste|5695 Haste|
+Troll BS + NP + Raid + Heroism|-|-|-|1425 Haste|
The table below displays the Haste values required for additional ticks of Combustion using the most common scenario only:
[table=head]Combustion|+1 tick|+2 tick|+3 tick|+4 tick
+3/3 Netherwind Presence and 5% Raid Buff|-|812|1996|3180
The "Soft Haste Cap" is a term thrown around often that Fire Mages should be aware of. The term "Soft Cap" itself has been taken out of context by many players and is now a source of misinformation. It refers to the specific level of Haste required such that a given fire DOT gains one additional tick over its duration. However, Haste still has a similar value before and after the 'soft cap'. It's just that reaching the soft cap itself results in an additional free tick - and thus a small increase in DPS. The % of Haste required varies, depending on the DOT in question and the amount of additional ticks being referred to.
When players use the term "Soft Haste Cap" - they most commonly are referring to the amount of Haste rating required from gear to reach +12.5% Haste raid buffed in the most common scenario: With 3/3 Netherwind Presence and the 5% Raid Haste Buff. This value is 516, when LB / Pyroblast (Dot) and FFB (Dot) gain one additional tick.
Players may also use the "Haste Cap" term for a variety of other applications. For example, the term "Second Combustion Soft Cap" would refer to 15% Haste - which is the Haste value needed to gain a second additional tick of Combustion.
Crit: Ignite Munching
Thanks to mysteltainn for writing this section below.
The oft-referred to "Ignite Munching" is a phenomenon that results in less (or in rare cases, more) Ignite damage than would be otherwise predicted.
There are three reasons for its occurance: simultaneous criticals, criticals that occur shortly before an ignite tick, and criticals that occur when the ignite debuff's remaining duration is greater than four seconds. The two former causes are caused by old, nigh-unfixable limitations within the game engine, and the latter is to do with a recent change in how DoT effects are refreshed.
As the name states, simultaneous criticals is when two spells crit simultaneously on a given target - usually, these times are logged as the same to a thousanth of a second. Most commonly, the spells responsible are either a fireball with a queued hot streak, or a scorch with a queued fire blast. The result is that only the second logged spell's damage being considered for ignite - the first spell's damage is completely ignored with respect to ignite. In a log, this might look like:
[00:16.414] Spell Crit #1 on Target [00:16.414] Spell Crit #2 on Target
Here, ignite would be calculated only considering Spell Crit #2's damage.
An obvious solution would be to prefer against queuing spells with identical travel times, but since a fire mage's myriad or DoTs can crit, it will still happen. Indeed, with relatively low crit rates (compared to late-WotLK where this munching was the majority of lost ignite damage) this is not as prominent as it was - but it is still a hefty chunk of damage lost.
As long as simultaneous events are problematic in the game as a whole, this type of munching will always occur. However, it could be alleviated by changing the travel time on certain spells - if pyroblast was slightly slower or faster than a fireball, for example.
The next cause of munching is based on ignite's 'talent delay' - a small delay between a given spell critical and the actual ignite application. In a log, ignite applying might look something like this:
[00:23.409] Spell Crit on Target [00:24.158] Ignite Refreshed on Target
The time between the actual crit and the ignite applying is the server verifying that, yes, your character has the talent necessary before actually applying the debuff. Proc-based talents from all classes suffer this ~0.5s delay. This delay isn't a huge problem for other class-based procs, but strange things with ignite happen with certain sequences of events:
[00:13.872] Spell Crit on Target [00:14.381] Ignite Tick [00:14.461] Ignite refreshed on Target
In this situation, the Ignite Tick is a 'free' tick - since it falls between a valid crit refreshing the ignite (verifying that the mage has the ignite talent and then calculating its damage pool) and the actual refresh event, the damage it deals isn't subtracted from the total - or, more accurately, the total is 'rolled back' to when the crit occured.
There is a rarer variation of this where the following happens:
[00:30.064] Spell Crit #1 on Target [00:30.097] Spell Crit #2 on Target [00:30.512] Ignite refreshed on Target (from Spell Crit #1) [00:30.902] Ignite Tick [00:30.902] Ignite refreshed on Target (from Spell Crit #2)
The difference in this situation is that there's a crit and refresh sandwiching the crit in the last example. The result is that the Ignite Tick does damage as calculated considering Spell Crit #1 - then 'rolls back' the total to before either crit occured, and adds Spell Crit #2 instead.
Both of these scenarios are unavoidable, especially with DoTs ticking. I believe the first bug adds a non-trivial amount of damage, but I can't say much for the second - it is quite rare, and a favorable outcome when the alternative would be the next type of munching.
The last type of munching is a side-effect of the new Cataclysm DoT system.
Ignite extends past four seconds because of the new DoT refresh mechanic. This mechanic is present on other player-cast DoTs like living bomb and corruption, and was implemented to make clipping the DoT impossible. For example, if, before 4.0.1, if you were to refresh living bomb right before it was about to tick, perhaps at 3.1s, living bomb would refresh to 12s, and would tick 3s later at 9s - the time between those two ticks was effectively 5.9s; after 4.0.1, the duration of living bomb would refresh to 12.1s, tick at 12s, and continue to tick as normal.
Following this new system, ignite's behavior is as follows:
- Ignite's initial application will be 4s in duration: 2 ticks, one at 2s, one at 0s. Ignite's total damage pool is divided between these two ticks.
- Any refreshes at any time will refresh ignite to 6s in (max) duration (current duration is ignite's current duration mod 2 plus 4s): 3 ticks, one at 4s, one at 2s, one at 0s. Ignite's damage pool is divided evenly between these three ticks.
- Ignite must be below 4s in current duration to accept any new refresh events.
[00:54.436] Spell Crit #1 on Target [00:54.819] Ignite Refreshed on Target [00:55.163] Spell Crit #2 on Target [00:56.354] Ignite Tick on Target
Spell Crit #2 is munched in this situation.
This means that ignite will, on average, accept only one crit every two seconds. This is the other major source of ignite munching - DoTs critting at inopportune times and multiple crits in a small time-frame.
It is possible to diminish this effect by attempting to space spells out, but DoTs will make this form of munching inevitable.
This 'limitation,' while seemingly arbitrary, is more about how ignite evenly splits its damage between its ticks and how the new system requires a DoT tick every period without interruption. To further refresh ignite would require that either the duration be set to 6s or the duration to arbitrarily lengthen as crits occured.
Two possible solutions might be to only add the new damage to ignite without affecting its duration when the current duration is over 4s, or to have its ticks not spread evenly, but each one representing only crits that happened in the past four seconds. As most other systematic problems in WoW, I'm keen to believe this is either old and hard-to-update, or not a high priority (or more likely, both).
There is one final anomaly. When spells simultaneously crit on a target without ignite present:
[00:16.414] Spell Crit #1 on Target [00:16.414] Spell Crit #2 on Target [00:16.938] Ignite #1 Applied to Target [00:16.938] Ignite #2 Applied to Target
The resulting ignite, as expected, only considers Spell Crit #2. However, because of the simultaneous ignite application events, it ticks as hard as a 4s ignite would (damage pool/2) over 6s - an extra tick - 50% more damage than expected.
Do note that this is still a damage loss so long as Spell Crit #1 is more than 50% of Spell Crit #2.
How do Rawr and SimC account for Ignite Munching?
How does Rawr account for Ignite Munching? Kavan's response to this question is below:
Rawr accounts for Ignite Munching by reducing all Ignite damage by a static percentage that can be specified in the spells and buffs section of the options.
How does SimulationCraft account for Ignite Munching? dedmonwakeen's response to this question is below:
When a crit occurs, the new Ignite pool is calculated immediately, but not applied for AuraDelay ms +/- some rng, where AuraDelay defaults to 150ms.
If a subsequent crit occurs before the first one is applied then the Ignite pool is calculated using stale data. When this second crit is applied it effectively "munches" the previous crit.
When an Ignite is initially applied where it did not previously exist, it will have a duration of exactly 4sec.
When an Ignite is applied where it already existed, the event time of the next tick is not changed. The duration of Ignite becomes time_to_next_tick plus 4sec and the stack size becomes 3.
At the time of Ignite application (AuraDelay ms after crit), if the stack size is still 3 (duration remaining is greater than 4sec) then the application will fail, effectively "munching" the crit.
If Ignite ticks AFTER the crit and BEFORE the application of an Ignite refresh, you get a "rolled" Ignite. This is because the new Ignite pool damage is calculated before it is drained by the next tick.
Playing a Fire Mage: Finer Details
Managing Combustion well is an important part of optimal play for a Fire Mage.
How does Combustion actually work? The tooltip states, "Instantly deals X to Y Fire damage and creates a new periodic fire effect on the target, lasting 10 sec and dealing the same damage per time as all your existing periodic fire effects".
Combustion sums up the individual DPS of all your existing DOTs on a target, creates a new debuff with that value, and has the new debuff tick every second for a 10 second total duration. Remember that the wording in DOT tooltips, or what a DOT ticks for, is not necessarily its DPS value. If a given DOT does "1500 damage every 3 seconds" or "5000 damage over 10 seconds" - they still both tick for value: 500 DPS. This DPS value is what Combustion combines when consolidating DOTs, and to calculate the new consolidated DOT's value. Example below:
Combustion example. If you have:
- Ignite ticking for 500 dps
- Pyroblast ticking for 200 dps
- Living Bomb ticking for 300 dps
= Combustion would create a new DOT which ticks for 1000 dps over a 10 second period, for 10 000 total damage.
Players benefit from using a mod to assist in tracking and managing Combustion, Fire's Procs and Fire DOTs in general. The solution is Combustionhelper. Combustionhelper was created by Angayelle , who's also an EJ member. He/she also reads and contributes to this thread, taking onboard feedback and suggestions pertaining to the mod.
Combustionhelper is a small mod that makes it easier to manage and track everything a Fire Mage needs to know. You can download Combustionhelper here. Four examples showing Combustionhelper in action are below. The bottom left diagram shows the ideal time to use Combustion: When all DOT's are present on the target, the Combustionhelper window turns green:
- Combustion can be spread via Impact. Impact-Combustion can be incredibly powerful.
- Combustion damage is modified by the Flashburn Mastery.
- Combustion consolidates DOT's from: Pyroblast, Ignite, Living Bomb, Glyphed Frostfire Bolt. The damage-over-time portion of Flamestrike does not leave a debuff on affected targets, therefore it does not interact with Combustion.
When should you use Combustion? Firstly, be mindful that a strong Ignite is the most important contributor to a strong Combustion.
Use Combustion when an Ignite is on the target - at the very least. The ideal Combustion, however, will have all Fire Dot's present: Living Bomb, Pyroblast (Dot), Frostfire Bolt DOT (only if FFB is your primary nuke) in addition to a strong Ignite from Pyroblast or Fireball crits. At level 85 with lower crit ratings, however, it can be difficult to get all these stars to align: Sometimes those spells just won't Crit when you need them to. And you might not have the luxory of being able to wait, either.
With this in mind: Avoid using Combustion without Ignite present, even if it means you cast fewer Combustions over the course of the fight. The preferred Ignite is one from a big Pyroblast or Fireball crit. However - if you're desperate for an Ignite and running out of available time to wait - you can even try to fish for one via Scorch. Ignite is what make Combustion worth casting, even if you need to wait a while after each 2 minute cooldown to get it up. How long should you wait? Should you hardcast Pyroblast, Fireball? Should you fish for Ignites via Scorch? All of that is dependant on the unique needs of the given encounter you're referring to. Some encounters give you plenty of time to set up optimal conditions for AOE (Heroic Halfus Wyrmbreaker). Other encounters give you very little time to set up optimal conditions for necessary AOE (Heroic Maloriak: Green Phase).
Be mindful that Combustion can be susceptible to "Ignite Munching". Read the Ignite Munching section carefully for more details on why and how this happens. Simply getting a big Crit and using Combustion shortly thereafter - might not give the Combustion results you expected - if said Crit has been munched.
At the start of Cataclysm: The Fireball spell cost 16% of Base Mana. This has since been lowered to 9% several months after release. That initial, high 16% cost of Fireball required Fire Mages to very carefully manage their mana or risk running OOM only several minutes into an encounter. Thus, this rather lengthy "Mana Management" section was needed. Many of the points and behaviour below may no longer be necessary in standard practise now, as Mages can simply spam Fireball without fear of running OOM. However, it will still benefit readers to be familiar with exactly how Fire Mages managed their mana during the first few months of release. Several situations can and still will require you to do the same, even if they aren't too common. These may include:
- Any time Evocation is interrupted
- Fights with Mana Drains
- Fights with unusually heavy AOE requirements
- Unusually Long Fights
Be sure to familise yourself with the section below. This is your backup plan for when things go wrong or don't go to plan. You want to ensure that your Mana can last under even the most trying of circumstances. The original "Mana Management" section is below.
Fire Mages in Cataclysm need to manage their mana carefully.
Failure to do this will result in going OOM early, often - and poor DPS performance. This section will go into thorough details on Mana Management. This is one of the most important parts of this post that readers need to come away with an understanding of.
Fireball is the high DPS nuke, yet unsustainable to cast for long periods of time. You'll OOM yourself after several minutes if you try, long before the encounter ends. Scorch can be cast indefinetely due to its free mana cost, but it's lower DPS. So you can't just cast Scorch forever either. So what do you do? The answer is: Use both. Somewhere between these two extremes you need to find the balance for a given encounter. If you get the balance right - you'll make your mana the necessary duration and avoid going OOM - and still deliver maximum DPS possible.
This is the basic idea: Get used to casting Scorch and Fireball. But there's a few finer details on how best to actually go about this. The differing Fire Mage rotations can be described as the following:
Burn Rotation|The Burn rotation refers to chain casting Fireball, keeping Living Bomb up, and Pyroblast! on Hot Streak procs. This is our highest DPS rotation for single target, but is not sustainable for long. You want to use this rotation during Boss Weakened PhasesDuring powerful on-use or passive effects (Trinket Procs, Engineering Gloves, Tailoring Capes)Molten Fury rangeAfter Spellstealing powerful BuffsDuring Encounter-specific +damage mechanics (Eg: While standing in a friendly void-zone which gives you +100% damage for the duration)To burn off excess mana before an encounter ends|
Hover Rotation|This refers to the rotation used to keep mana levels hovering at a constant value. We call this value our Mana Reserve. We use the Mana Reserve to switch into the Burn Rotation at the opportune time. A Hover Rotation makes extensive use of "Scorch Weaving". Scorch is cast frequently in rotation alongside Fireball. For example: 2 Fireballs to every 5 Scorches.
Pure Scorch Rotation|This is a rotation you can cast while completely OOM and 100% on the run. Scorch and Pyroblast! on Hot Streak procs.
Movement Rotation|This is a rotation you can cast 100% while moving: Scorch, Pyroblast!, Living Bomb, Flamestrike, Blastwave.
To play like a Fire Mage, good advice is to start thinking like an Arcane Mage. Mana is DPS. More Mana means more DPS. Unused Mana means wasted DPS. Spend your mana in the most effective way.
With more mana is available, you can cast your Burn Rotation for longer and more frequently. This means we should be using every mana resource available. Use Mana Gems on cooldown. Use Evocation. Accept innervates from any friendly Druids. Every ounce of mana you get will let you cast your Burn Rotation a bit longer.
Your goal is to end each fight with exactly zero mana. However, it's not always possible to achieve this in practise. This doesn't necessarily mean you've failed or done something wrong: Unique encounter needs might mean the optimal way to end a fight is indeed with excess mana, simply because you had no other way to burn it off.
Readers might be thinking, "Can I just cast my Burn Rotation until i'm OOM, then use Scorch to regen to full again - then alternate between the two?" The answer is you can most certainly try this, but it's not possible nor optimal in many situations. Here are several scenarios which won't allow you to do this:
- Myriads of Encounter specific mechanics. (Running a debuff out, AOE'ing adds, running to stack up or spread out, jumping between platforms, avoiding obstacles, Boss weakened phases)
- Adds may spawn, requiring Burn Rotation immediately (You don't want to be stuck on the Scorch regen side at the time)
- A Boss might apply a powerful spellstealable buff at random times. You want to have a Mana Reserve ready to immediately switch to Fireball.
Encounter mechanics will force you to constantly swap between Burn and Hover rotations. You cant plan around simply having the perfect rotation mapped out beforehand, which would only work on a "Patchwerk style fight". But lets try: Lets walk through a Hypothetical 5 minute Patchwerk style fight. We'll try to map our Mana and Rotations out perfectly beforehand:
| Hypothetical example only: A 5 minute Patchwerk encounter with no adds, no movement, no trinkets worn, no glove/cape enchants, no weakened phases. Do not interpret the table below as anything other than a hypothetical example for what would be an unrealistic set of conditions for an encounter.
1|Start the fight with a "Burn Rotation" until you're 12500 mana short
2|Use the first Mana Gem to go back to 100% mana
3|Continue the "Burn Rotation" until 35% mana (Approximately 1.5 minutes)
4|Use Evocation to go back to 100% mana
5|Resume the "Burn Rotation" phase until around 35% again. Use the second Mana Gem as soon as off cooldown
6|Use the "Hover Rotation" via heavy Scorch Weaving to keep mana levels constant. Use your 3rd mana gem as soon as it's off cooldown to bring us up to 50% mana. (We're hovering at 50% mana to save up enough mana for the incoming Molten Fury Range, which we expect to last 1 minute).
7|As soon as the boss reaches Molten Fury range (35%) switch back to the "Burn Rotation".
8|Boss dies exactly as we run OOM.
For our 5 minute fight, with all these unrealistic conditions attached, our strategy might work. But can we rely on doing this for the majority of encounters? No.
If this boss had a movement phase, adds that spawned, a debuff you had to run out, void zones you had to move from, AOE that was required, a "Weakened Phase", and if we're using powerful On-use trinkets, glove/cape enchants - suddenly all our neat plans go out the window. There's just so many variables which could force your plans to change. Therefore:
Fire Mages need to react dynamically to the unique needs of each encounter, and even to differing attempts on the same encounter. A static, pre-planned rotation must only be treated as a guide - be ready to deviate at any moment - for a magnitude of reasons.
There are several other ways one can attempt to approach mana at 85:
Pure Scorch Rotation|This refers to only casting Scorch in rotation, not casting Fireball at all. Doing this could still provide comparable DPS to the Burn rotation. Why? Movement and Hot Streak: Scorch is a fast casting spell, and casting it more often means you get many more opportunities for Hot Streak Procs. Pyroblasts are big DPS. The other big reason is you can cast the Pure Scorch rotation while moving. For stationary Patchwerk style fights: A Burn Rotation is, in a vacuum, still higher DPS than a Pure Scorch rotation by a margin of up to 10%. However, in practise, the difference may end up being much less: Burn Rotations get boosted support from the Glyph of Fireball and the 4-piece Tier 11 bonus, whereas Pure Scorch rotations do not. You may not have 4 piece, nor use the Fireball Glyph (See the Glyph section for more info). Furthermore, there are several additional factors to consider which can reduce the theoretical DPS difference:Fight with frequent unexpected movement penalise a Scorch Rotation less (You keep casting while moving)Fights with knockbacks penalise a Scorch Rotation less (You keep casting while knocked back)Adds or AOE Fights may favour Scorch Rotations (Scorch produces more Impact procs than Fireball. Also means you will have more mana available to AOE instead)In many encounters you'll find yourself casting Pure Scorch rotations during these periods. It's not necessarily a bad thing. Players might know a theoretical "Patchwerk" fight places Burn Rotation as superior DPS - but need to to take all this into account - before blindly making the assumption that Burn Rotations are always superior. They aren't. Both rotations have a time and place to be preferable, and optimal. It comes back to, again, the unique needs of each encounter.
Use Mage Armor|Using Mage Armor makes mana issues largely trivial. However it comes with two key problems. Firstly, you lose DPS mobility. Firestarter allows Scorch to be cast while moving, when Molten Armor is active. There are many Cataclysm encounters where you need to move, and move often. Using Mage Armor will prevent you from DPS'ing effectively during these periods. Second: It's lower DPS. Simulations show that using Molten Armor is simply put, the better thing to do. You can certainly try to use Mage Armor regardless, but you're putting yourself at a disadvantage.
Primary Nuke: Fireball VS Frostfire Bolt
Fire Mages can cast either Fireball or Frostfire Bolt as primary nuke in their rotation. The DPS difference is minor, but Fireball is theoretically superior by a small margin. Why's the difference rather small?
- Fireball and Frostfire Bolt cost the same amount of mana
- Fireball and (Glyphed) Frostfire Bolt do the same amount of initial damage
The only other difference stems from Glyph of Fireball and Glyph of Frostfire. Glyph of Frostfire Bolt adds a 3% damage over 12 seconds DOT (stacks 3 times) whereas Glyph of Fireball adds 5% crit.
The periodic damage of Glyphed Frostfire Bolt can crit, which leaves an Ignite. This is a very important point in practise because of Ignite Munching. More frequent Crits from minor, weak DOT's such as FFB - result in more opportunities for Ignite Munching. Be sure to read the Ignite Munching section for an understanding of why this can be very detrimental to Fire Mages. Theoretically, FFB vs Fireball might be deemed as an "X% difference" by sims - but remember that Ignite Munching can and will exacerbate that difference - which many sims do not account for.
Therefore, we can sum up the primary nuke debate by saying: Fireball as primary nuke is better. Not by a huge margin, but enough to convince most players seeking Optimal Play to use Fireball over FFB.
Flame Orb is a new Cataclysm Mage Fire spell. All mages learn Flame Orb at level 81. The Tooltip reads, "Launches a Flame Orb forward from the Mage's position, dealing X Fire damage every second to the closest enemy target for 15 secs. 1 minute cooldown, 40 yard range."
Flame Orb has a high spell coefficient, which makes it a powerful 1 minute cooldown.
Flame Orb does not AOE as it travels, instead it attacks the single closest target. At the end of its travel path, it can be talented to explode via Fire Power. The Flame Orb spell is more accurately described as a single target DPS cooldown which can provide a single AOE pulse at the end of its duration.
When cast, Flame Orb travels directly forward 40 yards then dissappears if no target was in range to attack. The Flame Orb travels forward very fast initially, but slows down greatly when it begins to attack a target in range. Flame Orb takes roughly 5 seconds to travel 40 yards. If cast with an object in the way, such as a wall, Flame Orb will still exist for the same 5 second duration, but will still dissappear afterwards if no target was in range to attack.
Although Flame Orb does steady damage per second, it's not considered a DOT. Therefore, it does not directly interact with Flashburn or Combustion. However, the damage Flame Orb does can critically hit, leaving an Ignite, which can interact with those mechanics. It does not gain any additional ticks with increased levels of Haste.
Talents and Glyphs
1|Master of Elements|Recommended.
1|Burning Soul| Highly Recommended. There are too many Cataclysm fights where pushback is an issue. This is not a talent you want to skip.
1|Improved Fire Blast| Optional. Impact can only be spread via Fire Blast, which has a base 30 yard range. Other Fire spells have a 40 yard range. Whether you feel more range is needed for Impact, to being it closer in line to the range on other Fire spells, is subjective. Some players will skip this talent completely, others will put a single point in.
2|Ignite|Essential. Cornerstone talent of the Fire tree.
2|Blazing Speed|Skip. PvP talent.
2|Impact|Highly recommended. Impact (DOT spreading) is a strength of the Fire tree.
3|Cauterize|Highly Recommended. This talent can be extremely useful for DPS and survival, especially during Heroic and Progression content. Read the section below for more details.
3|Blastwave| Highly Recommended. Blastwave is only ~1k mana at 85. Very cheap, and coupled with Improved Flamestrike, provides good DPS for a single GCD.
3|Hot Streak|Essential. Cornerstone talent of the Fire tree.
3|Improved Scorch| Situationally Recommended. This was considered an essential talent before patch 4.06, but due to spell mana cost reductions, whether to pick it up now largely depends on the type of content you're doing. For long heroic encounters, encounters with heavy aoe-mana demands, encounters with mana drains, or encounters where Evocation is difficult to pull off - this talent is still desirable. For other content, such as short fights or non-raid content, Improved Scorch could safely be skipped.
4|Molten Shields|Optional. This talent could situationally see some use during encounters where Mage Ward is used. It won't be included in most standard builds, but is something you may wish to consider picking up for specific fights. (Note: The Molten Shields talent will still proc the Blazing Speed effect, even if you have no points in the actual "Blazing Speed" talent)
4|Combustion|Essential. Fires 2 minute cooldown. For more details regarding how Combustion actually works, read the section below.
4|Improved Hot Streak|Essential. Cornerstone talent of the Fire tree.
4|Firestarter| Highly Recommended. Many fights require lots of movement. This talent lets you DPS on the run, and the mobility it gives is a strength of the Fire tree.
5|Improved Flamestrike|Highly Recommended. An Instant Flamestrike is great for AOE. Having Blastwave also give a free Flamestrike is another bonus.
5|Dragon's Breath| Essential. You need this talent to reach Living Bomb
5|Molten Fury| Essential.
6|Pyromaniac| Recommended, but this talent is highly situational. Read the section below for more details
6|Critical Mass|Highly Recommended. Crit is what makes the Fire tree function, and is an important raid debuff to bring. Buffing Living Bomb and Flame Orb is also a strong bonus.
7|Living Bomb|Essential. Cornerstone talent of the Fire tree.
Arcane and Frost Subspec Talents
1|Arcane Concentration| Optional. After recent Fire spell mana cost reductions, Fire Mages don't need the mana efficiency this talent provides anymore.
1|Improved Counterspell|Optional / Situational. Using Counterspell as a spellock interrupt is sufficient for Raids. However, if you're terrible with catching interrupts, and you're doing a fight where interrupts are crucial - you could consider temporarily speccing into this talent as a crutch to assist you.
2|Invocation|Highly Situational. This is a talent you'll skip from standard builds, but may consider using for very specific fights.
Prime|Glyph of Molten Armor|Essential. The strongest Prime Glyph. This provides +2% Crit on all your spells
Prime|Glyph of Pyroblast|Recommended. Pyroblast comprises a large portion of your total damage output
Prime|Glyph of Fireball|Recommended. Fireball comprises a large portion of your total damage output
Prime|Glyph of Frostfire|Situationally Recommended. Only use this (in place of the Fireball Glyph) if Frostfire Bolt is your primary nuke. If not, skip it.
Prime|Glyph of Living Bomb|Situationally Recommended. For single target: Living Bomb is not as strong as the other Prime Glyphs. For AOE fights however, or encounters where you can apply multiple Living Bomb's simultaneously, Living Bomb will comprise a much larger proportion of your total damage. For these scenarios you can use this Glyph in place of the Fireball one.
Prime|Glyph of Mage Armor|Skip. You'll be using Molten Armor, rendering this Glyph useless.
Major|Glyph of Evocation|Recommended. You'll always prefer to cast Evocation for mana, even if you're full health at the time. However, this Glyph gives you a powerful self heal for times where you might desperately need it
Major|Glyph of Polymorph|Recommended. Great Glyph to ensure that when you want to Polymorph something, it won't be broken immediately by careless players.
Major|Glyph of Blink|Optional. This Glyph increases the range travelled by 5 yards. Be mindful that Glyph of Blink could work for you or against you, you'll need to anticipate travelling the extra distance.
Minor|Glyph of Conjuring|Recommended. This also reduces the cost of conjuring Mana Gems. For any Cataclysm fights over 6 minutes, where you'll need to resummon a Mana Gem, this seemingly innocent minor Glyph will save you a chunk of mana.
Minor|Glyph of Arcane Brilliance.|Recommended. The is recommended because people will frequently die on new fights in Cataclysm. After receiving a Combat Res, you may need to rebuff them with Arcane Brilliance. This Glyph will save you a chunk of mana.
Misc||All other Glyphs not listed here are too situational to mention. Pick and choose from them as necessary.
Additional Notes on Specific Talents
- Hot Streak VS Improved Hot Streak: What's the difference?
How does Tier 3 Hot Streak work? The non-mathy answer: It 'smooths' Hot Streak out, by making sure it's not too rare at low levels of crit, but isn't too common at high levels of crit. The bonus from T3 Hot Streak scales inversely with your crit. For example, if you have a low 10% crit chance, "Hot Streak" may have an 80% chance to proc on a single crit. But if you have a high 30% crit chance, "Hot Streak" might only have a 5% chance to proc on a single crit.
As your Crit rate increases (Via gear upgrades, raid buffs etc) the bonus from Tier 3 Hot Streak is steadily reduced. This is a hidden mechanic, neither the game nor talent pane tells you "Hot Streak" scales dynamically like this.
Although the T3 Hot Streak bonus scales down with increasing crit, the chance of a T4 Hot Streak scales upward with increasing crit. The two talents complement each other, working together to "smooth" Hot Streak out for all levels of crit. For more information regarding Hot Streak, click the spoiler tag below.
- Pyroblast VS Pyroblast! - What's the difference?
Pyroblast! (With the "!" at the end) is another version of the spell with the same name. Pyroblast! is what you cast when under the effects of the the Hot Streak or Improved Hot Streak talents. Pyroblast! has a 0 mana base cost and is instant cast. Two important points to note:
1: Because Pyroblast! has a 0 mana base cost, it gives no mana back via Master of Elements.
2: Pyroblast! does not consume Clearcasting (via Arcane Concentration)
If you attempt to hard cast the 3.5 second version of this spell, you're casting "Pyroblast" instead.
Pyromaniac is a highly situational talent. It's potentially excellent for encounters where you have 3+ mobs present, and completely useless on encounters with 1 or 2 mobs only. This is why you'll sometimes see builds or players suggesting Pyromaniac be skipped from the standard talent build. Those builds essentially state the talent is too situational for 'standard build' consideration. For any fight where Pyromaniac gets compelling use, however, those builds will respec to include it again.
Cauterize can be extremely useful. The first use is obvious: It can save you from Death, like Guardian Angel. A one minute cooldown is very short for this type of effect, and useful during difficult heroic and raid progression encounters. Being passive makes it even more powerful.
The other, perhaps surprising use of Cauterize, is for DPS. You can use the talent aggressively for a surprisingly large DPS gain. Three examples of where this is possible are Algalon, Festergut and Sapphiron. All of these fights have 'Big Bomb' type mechanics which will instantly kill you, unless you perform various mechanics (Enter Black Holes on Algalon, get Spores on Festergut, LOS behind Tombs on Sapphiron). However you can use Cauterize to ignore all of these mechanics completely. On Festergut, there are 2 Pungent Blights, and you could Iceblock one and use Cauterize for the other. On Algalon, there are several Big Bangs and you can ignore them all and just let Cauterize save you while you continue to DPS. Even fights such as Sapphiron (Back in Naxx) you can ignore every Frost Bomb and let Cauterize handle your survival, and continue to happily DPS while everyone can't - because they must perform survival mechanics dictated by the encounter. On Kel'thuzad, don't bother moving from Void Fissures - let Cauterize handle it. You'll still want to use Mage Ward and/or a Healthstone to help survive afterwards, as Cauterize will take you to low levels of health as you burn.
Impact and Improved Fire Blast
Impact spreads DOTs with their current remaining duration. If you have 1 second left on your Ignite and Impact Fire Blast spread it, all affected targets will also receive an ignite with 1 second left.
Most Fire Spells in Cataclysm have a 40 yard base range, except Fire Blast, which is 30 yards
Impact relies on Fire Blast to spread DOTs
- You need to be mindful of what range you deem is acceptable for Impact usage. If you place 0/1/2 points in Improved Fire Blast, you'll need to be within 30/35/40 yards to take advantage of Impact. Both points in Improved Fire Blast are required if you wish to bring Impact use range in line with other Fire spells.
- You'll notice that some talent builds will place any of 0, 1 or both points in Improved Fire Blast. When talking about range talents: what players deem necessary will be very subjective.
Cataclysm: Key Mage Changes
Flashburn|New Fire Mage mastery. Increases the damage done by all your periodic fire damage effects by 20%. Each point of Mastery increases periodic damage done by an additional 2.5%.
Fire Specialization|Special bonus all Fire Mages receive. Increases the damage of your Fire spells by 25%
Flame Orb|New Fire spell all mages learn at level 81. Discussed in more detail above.
Spirit|Now a healer stat only. No longer provides Mages with Mana regeneration in Combat.
Mastery|New Cataclysm stat found on high level gear. Fire Mage mastery is called Flashburn.
Molten Armor|No longer scales with Spirit. Crit bonus reduced to 3%. Glyph of Molten Armor provides an additional 2% crit.
Mage Armor|Now regenerates 3% of maximum mana per 5 seconds. Glyph of Mage Armor boosts this by an additional 20%.
Hot Streak|Has been split into two talents: Hot Streak and Improved Hot Streak. This is discussed in detail in the Additional Talent Notes section.
Impact|Allows Fire Blast to spread all DOT's on your current target to nearby enemies.
Firestarter|Scorch can now be cast while moving via the Firestarter talent. Note that Molten Armor must be used for this talent to take effect.
Critical Mass|Given a selfish benefit. The Pyroblast spell can now also apply the Critical Strike debuff.
Frostfire Bolt|Can now be used as an alternative to Fireball as the Primary nuke for the Fire rotation. You must use Glyph of Frostfire when doing this. The base spell no longer leaves a DOT on the target, but Glyph of Frostfire will modify the spell to leave a +3% additional damage over 12 seconds DOT (stacks 3 times)
Living Bomb|Living Bomb can only be applied to 3 targets. The explosion from Living Bomb will only hit 3 targets. Living Bomb can be refreshed before the timer expires, but doing so will cause the current Living Bomb to be removed with no explosion. When using Impact with Living Bomb when 4 or more targets are close, Living Bomb will be removed from your current target completely (with no explosion) and spread to another 3.
Fireball|No longer has a DOT component at all.
Pyroblast|Has a 3.5 second base cast time. Spell is now only available to Fire Mages.
Pyroblast!|Notice the "!" at the end. Pyroblast! is a different version of the spell with the same name. Hot Streak and Improved Hot Streak allow you to cast Pyroblast! It's instant cast and has 0 base mana cost.
Blast Wave|Is now a targettable, range casted AOE. No longer knocks back, instead snares targets for a short duration. Can be improved via the Improved Flamestrike talent to provide an additional, free Flamestrike when cast on 2 targets.
Mage Ward|Now absorbs Fire, Frost and Arcane Damage.
Flamestrike|Radius increased to 8 yards. (Same as Blizzard). Can be talented to be instant cast via Improved Flamestrike
Focus Magic|No longer available to Fire Mages.
Torment the Weak|Bonus now applies to Arcane spells only.
Mana Shield|Absorbs damage at the expense of mana on a 1:1 ratio. Has a 12 second cooldown on use.
Arcane Brilliance|Increases mana by a specific amount. Also gives +6% spellpower to all targets.
Time Warp|Mage version of the Heroism spell. Learnt at level 85.
Ring of Frost|New Frost spell learnt at level 83. Deals no damage, but offers excellent crowd control and Area of effect denial. Check the Frost Spec thread for more information.
Current Fire Problems and Concerns
Ignite Munching|The biggest ongoing issue for Fire Mages. Ignite Munching has been around for many years. Ignite Munching is more prevalent than ever in Cataclysm. It devalues the Crit and Mastery stats - and result in considerable lost DPS. Players would love this to be fixed - somehow - even though it's been in the game so long and we're told limitations of the game engine itself might make it difficult/impossible to do so.
High DPS Variance|Fire can have a large swing in potential DPS, moreso than other classes/specs, with Crit being the big offender. You can get lucky and perform well above normal, or be unlucky and perform poorly. Other classes and specs don't swing this much. Raid leaders expect a degree of consistency from raid members, but the Fire spec itself puts this somewhat out of your control at times. Is Fire's DPS variance simply too high?
Lack of Rotation Complexity|Fire's level 85 rotation isn't exactly complex. Keep up Living Bomb. Use Fireball and Scorch as dictated by your mana. Use Hot Streak when it procs. At level 85, Hot Streaks are rarer, so players have even less to look out for. Some players feel that Fire's rotation simply doesn't have enough going on.
Crit Dependancy: General|Fire mages love Crit. The problem is that Fire relies very heavily on crit to function. Getting crits equates to getting lucky or RNG. A little luck here and there is fine, and fun. But there's a line between appreciating crit, and relying on it so badly because it's not only makes the tree function, but fun to play. Combat ratings have been substantially reduced at lvl 85. Mages won't be critting so much anymore. Players feel that Fire's high crit dependency exposes a major design flaw with the spec, which is exacerbated in Cataclysm when Combat Ratings are so low.
Crit Dependancy: Hot Streak| Hot Streak has become a much rarer occurance. Tier 3 Hot Streak attempts to "smooth" Pyroblast use out, but Mages still feel like the spell is something they don't get to cast enough. Does Tier 3 Hot Streak go far enough to smooth Pyroblast's use out?
Crit Dependancy: Fun Factor|Although "Fun" is subjective, many mages will agree that Hot Streak Pyroblasts are a hallmark fun element in the Fire tree. Hot Streaks are much rarer at 85. Many players feel this makes the playstle relatively bland and boring in their absence.
Crit Dependancy: Combustion|Having a strong running Ignite (via Fireball or Pyroblast Crits) is needed for an optimal Combustion. But with lower crit ratings, this is more difficult to pull off on demand. Combustion is a 2 minute cooldown: But you may need to wait some time after that to actually use it. Some Mages consider this poor design and very frusutrating - and would prefer Combustion to be a more traditional type of cooldown.|
Living Bomb: Refresh|Refreshing Living Bomb on a target will remove the current Living Bomb without an explosion. If you clip your Living Bomb reapplication, even if by only by a split second, you lose the explosion completely. This is very frustrating to players.
Living Bomb: Target Cap| Living Bomb was given a cap of 3 targets during Cataclysm Beta. This was due to how Overpowered Impact could be when used with an uncapped Living Bomb. However, the cap now causes frustration when Living Bomb interacts with Impact, as outlined in the point below. Simply increasing the Living Bomb cap to 4 or 5 would alleviate this from occuring in most realistic circumstances. This is because pulls with 4-5 mobs are common, but 6 and above aren't. Having the Cap set at three just seems a little too low. 4-5 would make much more practical sense.
Living Bomb: Impact Interaction| Players find this very frustrating. If you have 4 mobs, with Living Bomb on one, using Impact will result in Living Bomb being spread to the other 3 targets - while the original Living Bomb will actually be removed completely from your original target. This occurs whether you wanted it to happen or not. Furthermore, there is no explosion when it's removed. Mages do not like having such a powerful debuff removed from their primary target automatically.
Pyromaniac|This is a great talent on paper. The problem is that Pyromaniac swings a huge pendulum, alternating between extremely powerful and useless. Pyromaniac is excellent when it's up (3 targets present) and useless if only 1-2 mobs are present. How is Blizzard going to balance this talent?
Number of Fire AOE Talents|Fire has a few AOE orientated talents. These range between mildly to very situational. Improved Flamestrike, Blastwave, Pyromaniac, Impact. There's concern these AOE talents take up too many points in the Fire tree. If AOE is getting pushed somewhat into a niche role in Cataclysm, where we simply don't AOE as often, why are so many Fire talent points dedicated to improving it?