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Berlinia

Mage specs, pro's, con's and general information

Favourite Spec   18 members have voted

  1. 1. What is your favourite Spec?


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Hello ladies and gentlemen of the Icy Veins community

 

Whether or not you have just recently returned to WoW and picked up your mage, used your level 90 boost on a Mage or simply just dinged your alt, this “guide” is going to help you understand and chose a spec to play. I am not going to give you specifics on rotations and gearing, as there are alot of very good guides to be found. Keep in mind that this is no set in stone and that I most certainly advise you to play something you do not enjoy.

 

Also if you are generally interested to know the state of mages I would most definitely recommend you watching the FinalbossTV episode on mages and the Aftershow.

You can pickup a lot out of these videos.

I shall begin with the disclaimer: At higher gear levels (570+) ALL specs are very viable to play and are on par on the meters.
So let's begin shall we?


Fire Mage

 

Probably the most iconic of the Mage specialisations, the Fire mage is probably the most visual of the specs and most certainly has a very fiery feel to it both gameplay wise and graphicswise. Fire is the trend for most high-end mages in this day. The most prominent of Fire Mages I can think of is Vykina who raids with Method (check out his site he has some very interesting stuff going on there).

If you are simply looking for some written guides I can refer you to the Icy Veins Guide, Kver's Guide to Advanced Fire and Vykina Mop Fire Mage Guide.

 

The Fire Mage has changed quite alot in the way he or she puts out damage. Whereas in the end of Cata and the Beginning of MoP it was all about building up high Ignite values and delivering a very powerful Combustion. Now it has shifted over to throwing as many instant cast Pyroblast in a row as you possibly can. Combustion is still a very powerful DPS cooldown that when aligned with Trinket procs, Alter Time and Potion of the Jade Serpent contributes to a fair proportion of your initial burst and should most certainly not be overlooked.

Pros
 

So why should you consider playing a Fire Mage. The main reason is, at least in my opinion, that it is a TON of fun. When played correctly, a Fire Mage can throw alot of instant casts Pyroblasts that hit like a truck. At high crit values it has a very smooth rotation as the RNG portion of the spec due to Pyroblast! becomes very minimal.

As the spec revolves mostly around through huge chunks of molten rock (some might want to call them meteorites) to the boss, and see it burn afterwards it is the most rewarding of the three to play, at least visually. The burst damage it brings to the raid is also very powerful whilst giving you the ability to see some pretty high critical strike values.

 

When the rotation get's into your muscle memory it becomes very very smooth (again at high gear levels).

 

Cons

 

To be perfectly honest with you guys there are moments that I, personally, completely hate this spec. There is nothing more annoying than having 50% critical hit chance and casting 3 Fireballs that do not crit in a row during the pull. RNJezus can sometimes completely fuck you over (I do not know if swearing is against ToS but I suppose the mods will agree with my frustration).

This was especially true during Cata, when you had your Intellect pot up and nothing crit. Thankfully we have Inferno Blast currently, which helps out alot when we have unlucky streaks of critical zero's.

You can not play this spec unless you have a fair amount of critical strike rating. The time I would even consider going Fire is if you have over 565 item level that are itemized correctly, together with the four set (as this helps smooth out the rotation a lot).

 

If you just started playing the spec it can seem very complicated and overwhelming to track your actions and procs so carefully. It has a very high skillceiling especially considering the slight alteration in playstyle and snapshotting when you get your Black Blood of Y'Shaarj and the skillfloor is not that low either.

 

Summary

 

So to summarize. Play Fire only when you have the gear for it. The rotation becomes generally very smooth when you are close to BiS, but it can offer moments of extreme frustration. When it's smooth though, it's a ton of fun (no pun intended).
It has a high skillceiling and a moderate skillfloor.
 

 

Frost Mage

 

The frost mage is my personal favorite of the specs, despite having some problems which I shall describe later. It has moved out of the idea of being the PVP specialisation it is now a prominent PvE spec that most lowly geared mages seem to uitilize (and for good reason).

Some mages have done an extremely good job in analyzing the spec. The most prominent example I can think of is Akraen with his Frost Mage Stat Analysis and Frost Mage PvE Guide for 5.4.

 

If you are looking for a more rotational guide I can only redirect you to the Icy Veins Guide which summarizes everything perfectly.

 

Pros

 

One of the most amazing things with the Frost mage is how consistent it is to play. The most ideal situation might be having two Fingers of Frost procs together with a Brain Freeze proc on the pull, but having only one FoF proc due to Frozen Orb and a Brain Freeze doesn't really affect you that much. Don't get me wrong it's a dps loss, but your true power is that you can bring fairly consistent amounts of dps even without cooldowns and you are not as reliant on your burst as the other two specs.

 

As a Frost Mage we have 3 stats that all benefit us in some fashion and there are multiple gearing builds and playstyles available to you. We have a very strong Single Target power, and possibly what I consider to be one of the most powerful cleave effects in the game through Mastery: Icicles and

Glyph of Splitting Ice.

Another great thing with the Frost Mage is that when you use Glyph of Icy Veins to empower your biggest cooldown Icy Veins you can very easily proc the Purified Bindings of Immerseus which is generally the thing the other specializations wait for before blowing their cooldowns.

 

Another very powerful part of the Frost mage is it's general mobility to due to a high array of instant cast spells that can be cast on the move and due to making use of Invocation. Our mobility is not unrivaled, Fire is probably a bit more mobile due to Scorch proccing Heating Up and Inferno Blast being instant cast resulting in even more instant Pyro's.

 

On top of all that the Frost Mage is very easy to learn and has an extremely low skillfloor. If you do the spell priorities correctly, react to your procs and have good uptimes you can do 90% of your dps without even caring to snapshot or get into complicated. On the otherside the Haste build has a very high skillceiling making it very fun to try and perfect, without losing huge chunks of DPS when not doing so. On top of that again the gear necessary to play Frost is pretty low, as you have set %based procs that Gear does not affect immediately.

The final very important part of a frostmage is it's raid utility and kiting potential. You have a long range Frost Nova in the form of Freeze and the fact that your Water Elemental can do damage on bosses during times which are marked with a general downtime of damage (think fo General Nazgrim's Defensive Stance).

 

Cons

 

The major part of a Frost mage that I would criticize is the fact that you do not get to see big numbers. If you are a fun of Chaos Bolt critical strikes, you shall find nothing like that with the Frost mage. We are all about consistent damage on the target and surrounding enemies. It's abit less rewarding one might say as the scaling is not that visible. Don't get me wrong, our damage most definitely increases, but getting new pieces of gear or getting our 2set does not affect our playstyle.

 

Summary

 

To conclude, playing Frost is very consistent dps wise and is also the most viable of the specs in low gear levels. You do not need very high amounts of a certain stat in order to perform well among others of the same gear level. It has a very low skillfloor but the skillceiling is quite high making it fun to play and providing the incentive to try and master.

 

Arcane Mage

 

The Arcane Mage is the most stigmatized of the mage specs for being a 2-button spec and being the spec that noobs should play. That was never true and now it's 100% not true at all. Arcane is a very difficult spec to master, but is great fun if you understand that it has some drawbacks that are intrinsic to the spec.

 

An excellent visual and audio guide for playing the Arcane Mage, is Cycobi's Guide available on Evreliagaming's channel.

If you are more inclined to read a written guide I would recommend Shangalars Guide on the MMO-champion Forums.

 

Pros

 

The Arcane Mage is the highest single target damage in the game at this point. The scaling is absurdly powerful and the absolute value of Mastery for the Spec is very very high. If you want to see yourself topping meters upon meters then the Arcane Mage is the way to go. 

Not only is the Arcane Mage very very powerful in single target damage, it also excels in multy-target situations and AoE'ing adds. The scaling of Arcane is so absurdly high that if we were to receive more pieces of gear rather than the current BiS, Arcane would fly through the roof. Of course it doesn't beat Affliction Warlocks on Fights like Protectors, but we all know how broken that class is.

 

Additionally our playstyle changes alot the more gear we get. The 2set and the 4set greatly influence our rotation and playstyle making for a far more interesting progression curve.

 

The last part for supporting the Arcane Mage is it's moderate skillfloor and absurdly high skillceiling. Almost none plays this class 100% correctly as there are alot of things to manage and there is always room for improvement. That makes it extremely rewarding to play, together with the fact that it is the only Mage specialization that can produce hard hitting spells. Arcane Barrage can easily Crit for 1.000.000 damage (that's a lot of 0 i know smile.png )

Cons

 

The greatest negative that I can find on the Arcane Mage is that is one (if not the most) immobile specs in the game. Rune of Power is an essential talent that we are forced to pick and even though it's radius has been buffed quite alot it still locks us in place. Going into an encounter that you do not know as an Arcane mage will probably be disastrous as you will have to reposition often.

 

Another thing that quite annoys me with the Arcane Mage is how important snapshotting is. Our dot damage becomes very important as it scales with our Mastery. As such snapshotting correctly is very very very very important for us more so than the other two specs.

 

Another thing that is tied to this spec is something that for all other damaging classes has dissapeared and that is mana management. This is something that should be fixed on healers and not dps. Your mana is something additional that you are forced to track and one mistake, like casting an additional Arcane Blast at 90% mana, might take a long time to recover from.

The final thing with the Arcane Mage that bothers me in it's design is how unforgiving it is. Timing something incorrectly as Frost makes you lose potential dps. Making a mistake as Arcane reduces your damage for roughly the next 10-15 seconds. This is the reason that Arcane is a very difficult spec to play. Not only do you need to keep track of and manage a million different things, you also need to react accordingly to procs and snapshot correctly.

Summary

 

I would definitely recommend the Arcane specialization when you reach around 550+ item level and your mastery and haste levels start going up. It is quite slow without some haste, and Mastery is very important to the spec. It's great fun and has huge room for personal improvement

 

Okay guys this was my attempt to show you what the specs are all about. If anyone has comments you can PM me with your ideas or post constructive criticism under this post. Cheers you all!

Edited by Berlinia
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Frost has been my favorite spec for the past two expansions smile.png

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You must have loved when you were practically mandatory for Nefarion HC right? :P Kiting dem big adds ^^

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I used to enjoy Fire so much I used it for progression in MC and BWL, but I'm really quite terrible at using Combustion; it's a unique DPS cooldown and I don't want it to go away, but I find it very hard to break the mindset of 'If I just launch one more spell it might boost my Ignite even higher' - of course, it never does.

I've loved Frost since its Cataclysm revamp, however; the procs and mobility are stellar, as is the control. I was incredibly happy when it became raid-viable in ToT and I'm now using it in Soo heroic modes (including our Garrosh kills).

Arcane is also very fun, but RoP kills it for me. I like mobility, and Arcane's a turret.

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I used to enjoy Fire so much I used it for progression in MC and BWL, but I'm really quite terrible at using Combustion; it's a unique DPS cooldown and I don't want it to go away, but I find it very hard to break the mindset of 'If I just launch one more spell it might boost my Ignite even higher' - of course, it never does.

I've loved Frost since its Cataclysm revamp, however; the procs and mobility are stellar, as is the control. I was incredibly happy when it became raid-viable in ToT and I'm now using it in Soo heroic modes (including our Garrosh kills).

Arcane is also very fun, but RoP kills it for me. I like mobility, and Arcane's a turret.

Concerning Arcane that is most probably what it's going to be till the end of time. THe thing is we will need to have tools to be able to suffice as such (like enhanced range or something like that), something that we are currently lacking.

Combustion imo needs to get a major buff while reducing damage from other sources in order to kind of make Fire more challenging to play.

Frost is indeed quite simple but throwing a Frozen Orb at the protectors and getting a million FoF procs is amazing every single time tongue.png

Edit: Also concerning Arcane think that right now the problem is that every other spec has receive very high mobility and arcane has fallen behind for that matter. With Wod changes that might change as well.

Edited by Berlinia

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