This one’s for the Mages out there. And yes, it’s a QQ. Well of course it is, we’re mages. Poke us hard enough with a stick and QQ floods out.
Wait a second, I’m getting a little ahead of myself. Let’s back up a bit and talk about something great that makes being a Mage good after the horror that was the Burning Crusade. Frostfire Bolt, I’m talking about you.
I love my Frostfire Bolt. I suspected that it was going to be good, but I had no idea just how good. I can remember being all excited about getting it at level 75 and not really having any clue which way to spec for it while I was at the trainer. Since I was levelling I had a heavy Frost build, and it works quite nicely with Frost, but I respecced to get some points in Fire for Ignite and was pleased with the damage boost for a measly 10 points. Frosties crit a LOT while grinding. Between Frostbite procs, Brain Freezes etc there was ample opportunity to get a FF Bolt off with an almost guaranteed crit and cackle madly as a mob burned to death from the Ignite damage while rooted helplessly. It had a longer cast time than Frostbolt, sure, but it still had the 60% snare and benefited from all the extra snare talents in the Frost tree, so I was pretty happy.
Well one day, not long after, I hit level 80 and jumped straight into Heroics with the same old FF/Frost build. It worked well enough, but I started to get a bit frustrated with the casting time on mobs that we weren’t just AoEing down. Often they’d be dead before I could finish a second or third cast. Still… not a big deal. It’s not like we were coming close to wiping on anything, so there was no pressing need for me to respec, and the Frost build made doing quests a walk in the park. But all the same, that 3 sec casting time on FF Bolt (before haste) was a bit of a pain. So one day, I thought I’d give Arcane/Fire a try, see how it worked out for raiding and grinding. The faster casting fireballs would help a lot on trash, I reasoned, and I’d probably be able to blow anything away before it reached me while questing. And yeah, it wasn’t a bad build. I was obviously a whole lot more fragile then before, but it worked okay. And then something spectacular happened.
While doing a quest in Zul’Drak, a Frostfire Bolt one-shotted a mob for 10k damage.
Hang on a second! HOW MUCH?? Ten thousand damage in one shot. It had critted obviously, but holy moley… 10 THOUSAND damage? And bear in mind that if the mob had lived it would still have burned for another 4000 damage from the Ignite tick, too! So, 14k damage from one cast? This needs some investigation! By now most of you are probably nodding wisely, wondering how it took this dumbass mage so long to discover just how awesome Frostfire Bolt can be with the right spec. Euripedes over at Critical QQ has posted a comprehensive talent guide since, which you should definitely look at if you’re levelling a mage, but at the time for me, as I pored over the talent tree with a fine toothcomb, the potential that lay in the Fire and Frost tree for FF Bolt properly specced suddenly dawned on me.
In a nutshell, here is my current talent tree. With that build and my current gear, FF Bolts crit in raids for upwards of 12,000 damage. They get 6% extra damage from Piercing Ice, 100% critical damage bonus from Ice Shards, 3% extra damage from Playing With Fire and another 50% critical damage bonus from Burnout. Taking Ignite into account, that’s 290% increased critical damage. Another 3% critical damage bonus from my Metagem, and with one more piece of Tier 7, I’ll get another 5% critical damage bonus. So, 298% critical damage bonus. I’ve seen WWS parses of Fire mages doing 5000 dps in raids with this talent build and Frostfire Bolt.
But here comes the QQ.
In order to make Frostfire Bolt work properly, you need to crit. You need to crit a LOT. When FF Bolt doesn’t crit, the damage it does can best be described as “meh”. Frankly, you’d be better off casting Fireballs. But when they do crit, they hit so hard that the ghost of whatever you hit even takes damage. And this is where the problem lies. Frostfire Mage itemisation in Wrath sucks. I mean it really, really, REALLY sucks. You need gear with masses of crit, hit and spellpower. Once you’re hit capped you just need more crit and more spellpower, and it’s very easy to get hitcapped. Now there IS gear in raids with lots of hit and crit, but the problem is, it’s all loaded with spirit or mana per 5, which is absolute junk for a Frostfire mage.
Take a look at the Heroic badge vendor gear and see if you can find one item of caster gear that doesn’t have spirit/mp5 on it. I’ll wait. Actually don’t bother because there isn’t any. Let’s take a look at the 10 man drops in Naxxramas. We have the following items that are actually useful for us:
Grand Widow Faerlina: Grieving Spellblade
Maexxna: Embrace of the Spider
Patchwerk: Blade of Dormant Memories
Noth: Ring of the Fated
Gothik: Signet of the Malevolent
The Four Horsemen: Gown of Blaumeaux
Yes, there is other loot that drops in 10 man Naxx that would doubtless be an upgrade for you, but it’s all got spirit or mana per 5 on it, so it’s wasting item budget on stats that are all but worthless to you. Those mages I mentioned on the WWS parse doing 5k dps? They weren’t wearing any of it. Perhaps things are better in 25 man Naxx? Not really, no.
Anub’rekhan: Gemmed Wand of the Nerubians
Grand Widow Faerlina: Nil
Gluth: Mantle of the Corrupted
Thaddius: Cincture of Polarity
Heigan: Dying Curse
Gothik: Life and Death
The Four Horsemen: Nil
Kel’thuzad: The Turning Tide
Okay, that’s quite spectacularly crappy itemisation. Perhaps we can make it up with Tier 7 gear? No, can’t do that either. Of the five pieces available, and you need four for a solid Frostfire build, two come loaded with spirit, so either way you’re getting gear with spirit on it. Robes and hat have spirit, the rest actually have useful stats. We may as well face the fact that Blizzard are determined to gimp mages by forcing us to equip gear that has stats which are completely useless for our strongest spec. Of course they didn’t do it on purpose, it’s a direct result of the loot homogenisation process that they announced prior to Wrath shipping. Enhancement Shamans are no longer desperate to find mail armour with Strength on it because their class mechanics were tweaked to make Agility more valuable, hence they now compete for the same gear that Hunters look for. Druid itemisation has had (and is still undergoing) similar streamlining to make Rogue gear just as attractive. Warlocks actually have a use for Spirit now, Priest always have, and Arcane Mages just love it. So that’s all the cloth classes covered with the same gear itemisation, right?
Fire and Frost mages do not need spirit on their gear. We didn’t in vanilla WoW, we didn’t in The Burning Crusade and we still don’t now. Okay, so you can’t afford to make a complete seperate loot table purely to satisfy the itemisation needs of two mage specs, I get that, I really do. But the alternatives are keep giving us gear that limits our potential or make spirit a useful stat for all mages, not just Arcane.
Really, it’s been four years already! I’ll gear for spirit if you make it useful for me to do so. “But spirit IS useful for mages!” I hear you cry. “You get mana regen from it!” Well actually, while I have Molten Armour up, for that extra 3% crit I mentioned earlier that was so crucial to Frostfire Mages, I have exactly 0 mana regen from all that spirit on my gear. Which is why it’s a useless stat. Yes, useless. Not “not very good”, it’s useless. It has NO use.
In a 25 man raid with all the replenishment buffs flying around, my mana gems, runic mana potions and evocation I do not run out of mana. I barely even need to Evocate, and this is with Molten Armour up. The spirit on my gear is USELESS.
Please for the love of all that’s holy, either make it useful or stop putting it on my gear! It’s been four years now, Blizzard! DO something, pretty please? Euripedes over at Critical QQ has made some excellent suggestions on how to fix this mess in his posts here, here, here and here. I highly recommend them.