Daily Thoughts: Arcane in the Membrane

Posted: June 24, 2011 in Daily, mage
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Man, I’ve really been slacking on keeping up my Daily Thoughts here. Someone once commented that I should consider calling it “Weekly Thoughts” and that is seeming more accurate right now, but the name doesn’t sound quite right. Let’s continue!

Not too long ago, my mage reached level 85. I leveled using mostly a mix of frost and fire specs. 5 minutes after reaching max level, I was ready for heroics. Wait? Apparently it’s pretty nice reaching 85 with nearly max justice points and honor points through a long series of dungeons and battlegrounds. I picked up my vendor gear and had 331 item level, well clearing the 329 requirement to get into heroic dungeons. I got fired up, ready to go, and prepped for my unfortunately long 30 minute wait to get into a heroic dungeon…and found my DPS startlingly lacking.


Admittedly, aside from being carried in a guild run for a Zul Aman heroic later on, I was never significantly lower than other players in a heroic and usually was still averaging between the other dps in my runs. Unfortunately, I’m not satisfied with being between the others. I’m also not used to it. All my other toons would top the charts nearly every run even being freshly geared for heroic dungeons (except my feral cat at first, but I knew my feral gear was atrocious and I my item level was horribly screwed by my resto gear). I read up on the fire mage’s rotation, confirmed I was doing it right, and reforged a little extra hit – an insignificant increase. It was after an exceptionally lack luster performance in Baradin’s Hold (under 10k dps – the first time I’ve not broken that in there since my very first attempt ever on the boss). I decided to try out arcane, hearing that it is supposed to be the bees knees of mage specs currently. Wanting to be able to keep my fire spec for comparison, I dropped frost and hit up EJ for some (hopefully) good arcane information.

Is Arcane Better Than Fire as of 4.1?

It is hard to make a blanket statement between the specs with my limited experience. From what I hear, in raiding environments arcane has a strong lead but fire is a competitive spec still. For me personally though? Well, arcane has been a solid damage increase, mostly. The problem that I’m finding with the fire spec, it that it is highly dependent on crits and procs. With a lucky string of crits (and still weak gear) I can break 16-18k dps on a heroic boss or shorter test dummy experiment. Meanwhile, in that same gear the best I accomplish and typical damage as arcane is 12-14k, assuming the fight doesn’t have damage boosting gimicks. Sadly, the amount that I am > 15k dps in fire is probably under 15% of the time.  Other times I can find myself struggling to be over 10k dps. Both specs bring solid buffs to the group so personal dps really does take priority for a mage. As a mage, if you’re not doing the best possible dps, given that you’re not pulling aggro or standing in fire, you’re doing it wrong. Unfortunately, arcane is really, really boring. Spam arcane blast, occasionally hit arcane barrage or arcane missiles on the proc. Rotation ends up something like, AB >AB >AM>AB >AB >AB >AB >AbarAB >AB >AM. Forever. It’s just that. For burn phases its nothing but AB >AB. I saw a mage over 20k dps with nothing but arcane blast cast. The game with arcane is mana conservation and management. With my current level of mastery, every 4% mana lost is 1% flat dps loss! Keeping mana topped off is a must. So, I’m finding myself in arcane more and more because I want my dps to be consistent. Even though the rotation is much less dynamic and a little more dull, I find that when I’m playing a class that does nothing other than pewpew, pewpewing the hardest is the most fun for me.

Finding yourself doing bad mage deeps? The folks over at ElitistJerks usually have buckets of helpful information. Check out their Arcane Mage Compendium to turn your QQ into pewpew.

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