In preparation for the updates to our guides for Mists of Pandaria Patch 5.0.4, we are releasing articles such as this one, explaining what has changed for a particular class and spec, and what the new rotation is likely to be.
Keep in mind that this is still a work in progress (both from Blizzard's side and from our own) and that this article assumes you are at least somewhat familiar with the Cataclysm version of the Fire Mage rotation and playstyle (such as from reading our guide).
We will first list the most important changes to the Fire Mage Cataclysm abilities, and then we will proceed to explaining the (likely to be) optimal rotation. Keep in mind that we do not document every single change or new ability, only those that impact the rotation.
Finally, we will give you some information about the most useful talents and glyphs you should choose.
Changed MechanicsThe main changes for Fire Mages are related to Ignite, which is now your Mastery, Hot Streak, which has been redesigned to remove Ignite Munching, and Living Bomb, which is now optional.
Mastery: Ignite is your new Mastery. Increasing Mastery Rating will now increase the amount of damage that Ignite does on your target. As you can read in the tooltip, when the effect is refreshed, it creates a new 4-second DoT and whatever remained on the DoT that was refreshed is added to the new DoT. In theory, this should remove Ignite Munching from the game, especially as it seems, from our tests, that Fireball and Pyroblast can no longer hit the target at the same time. The closest we managed to reach was a 1-millisecond difference, but the lag on the beta could be preventing us from testing this precisely.
The old Hot Streak and Improved Hot Streak talents have been removed. The proc that these talents granted is now added to the mechanics of Pyroblast, as you can read in the tooltip. Scoring a critical strike will cause your character to proc Heating Up. Scoring a second critical strike in a row, will cause Heating Up to be transformed into Pyroblast!, the new equivalent of the old Hot Streak proc. This distinction is very important because Heating Up and Pyroblast! can coexist on your character. It means that if you score a third critical strike in a row, it will not be wasted. However, if you score a fourth critical strike in a row, without having used your proc of Pyroblast!, then you will have wasted a proc.
Also, instant-cast Pyroblasts can now proc Heating Up or transform Heating Up into Pyroblast!. It was not the case in Cataclysm.
Finally, Living Bomb is now a Tier 5 talent, which makes it optional. As a result, it no longer has any meaningful interaction with any of your Fire Mage-specific abilities. It is not spread by Inferno Blast (the spell that replaces Fire Blast, see the next section), unless you use a specific glyph, and it is no longer taken into account for Combustion.
New AbilitiesYou have the following new abilities:
- Alter Time is a new DPS cooldown.
- Deep Freeze is now available to Fire Mages. It used to be the 31-point talent of the Frost specialisation.
- Nether Attunement causes your haste to increase your mana regeneration. This will be very useful as your amount of mana will be capped to 300k.
- Shatter increases the damage you do against frozen targets. It used to be only available to Frost Mages and worked only for Frost spells.
- Critical Mass is now a passive ability that multiplies the critical strike chance of Fireball, Pyroblast, and Scorch by 1.5.
- Burning Soul is now a passive skill given to all Mage specs.
- Inferno Blast replaces Fire Blast and its related talents: Improved Fire Blast (Inferno Blast is actually guaranteed to be a critical strike) and Impact.
- The 5th tier of your talent tree gives you the choice between Nether Tempest, Living Bomb, and Frost Bomb. All of them are viable, as we will see in the AoE Rotation section.
- The 6th tier of your talent tree gives you the choice between Invocation (a modification of Evocation), Rune of Power, and Incanter's Ward (improvement over the old Mage Ward). All of them are viable, as we will see in the talent section.
- There are other new abilities provided by the other tiers of talents. They are not as important as the Tier 5 and 6 talents, so we do not mention them here, but in the talent section.
Rotation and Spell UsageThe rotation is not greatly changed from what it was in Cataclysm (see our Fire Mage guide). For single-target damage, you will need to choose Nether Tempest as a Tier 5 talent and Rune of Power as a Tier 6 talent.
The rotation will be as follows:
- Keep Rune of Power up and stand in it.
- Keep Nether Tempest up.
- When Pyroblast! is up, cast Pyroblast.
- When Heating Up is up and Inferno Blast is off cooldown, cast Inferno Blast.
- Cast Fireball.
- Time Warp and Combustion work in the same way that they used to in Cataclysm, except that Living Bomb being optional, it no longer interacts with Combustion. Also Combustion now has a 45-second cooldown.
- Alter Time is a very interesting cooldown. We see two main ways of using it. If you cast it while you have a powerful trinket proc or while Pyroblast! is up, you will either extend the duration of the trinket proc by 6 seconds or benefit from Pyroblast! a second time after 6 seconds. If you cast it before receiving a large amount of damage or a dangerous debuff, then, after 6 seconds, the damage or the debuff will be gone.
AoE RotationYour AoE rotation will still consist in performing your single-target rotation on one enemy. Inferno Blast will automatically spread your DoTs to nearby enemies. Note that Combustion will always reset the cooldown of Inferno Blast. Additionally, you can choose Living Bomb as your Tier 5 talent and keep it up on 3 enemies (or use Glyph of Fire Blast to automatically spread it).
If there is an exceptionally large number of enemies, use a combination of Flamestrike and Arcane Explosion. Blizzard can be used when you cannot get close enough to the enemies to cast Arcane Explosion. Also, Frost Bomb can be chosen as a Tier 5 talent, instead of Living Bomb.
TalentsTier 1 talents have been designed with mobility in mind. You have the choice between:
- Presence of Mind, which should only be chosen for encounters with no movement or for encounters where the small DPS increase it provides is necessary;
- Scorch, which should be the default choice for Fire Mages, because it can proc Heating Up and Pyroblast!, and because its critical strike chance is increased by Critical Mass;
- Ice Floes, which allows you to cast two spells while moving and should be used in encounters where you have to move from time to time.
- Temporal Shield, which can be very useful in encounters with a lot of raid damage;
- Blazing Speed, which might be of use in some encounters, though Blink should be enough in most cases;
- Ice Barrier, which should be the default choice because the shield it gives you also protects you against pushback, resulting in a slight DPS increase.
- Greater Invisibility, which seems to be the less viable choice;
- Cauterize, which is the most useful of the three talents;
- Cold Snap, which can be used in encounters where you need to use Ice Block twice in a row.
- Nether Tempest should be used in single-target situations or when you are fighting two enemies and want a bit of collateral damage on one of them.
- Living Bomb should be used in multiple-target situations.
- Frost Bomb should be used when you are fighting a very large number of enemies or when you need the slowing effect that it provides.
- Invocation is largely useless for a Fire Mage because it forces you to often cast Evocation (making you lose DPS).
- Rune of Power will be the preferred choice for Fire Mages. The increased mana regeneration that it provides is enough to sustain your rotation without ever running out of mana.
- Incanter's Ward seems to be more of a situational talent. We need to see how it will fare in the raid encounters, but we believe that the use of this talent will require encounters where periods of downtime on the boss and periods of raid damage are distinct.
GlyphsMost of your major glyphs will give you more utility, but from a DPS standpoint, only a few will matter:
- Glyph of Fire Blast will be mandatory in AoE situations as it enables you to spread Living Bomb with Inferno Blast.
- Glyph of Frostfire Bolt can be very useful if you need to add a slow in your rotation. This glyph will line up the cast time of Frostfire Bolt with that of Fireball, making it possible to swap Fireball for Frostfire Bolt in your rotation (both spells do the same damage).
- Glyph of Arcane Explosion can be useful in AoE situations with a large number of enemies that are not stacking.
- Glyph of Combustion doubles the cooldown and the duration of Combustion. It can be useful for lining up Combustion with periods of increased damage.
- Glyph of Armors increases the defensive effects of your armors by 10%. It can be useful on fights with a lot of magic damage and on which the other major glyphs are not useful.
This concludes our Fire Mage preview for Mists of Pandaria. We hope you have enjoyed reading it and that it proved useful to you. As always, we are looking forward to reading your opinions on the matter!