Thursday, September 24, 2009

Spell Rotation for Single Target Fire Spells - Revised

Over two years ago, I wrote a post about Spell Rotation for Single Target Fire Spells. To this day, it is still, by far, one of my most popular posts as far as hits it gets. Nevermind the fact that it's 2 years old. Google doesn't recognize that when people start searching for it. "Fire Mage Spell Rotation" is what people are generally searching for, and that's how people find that old post. So, I thought it only fair that I update the post. Why, after all these years, am I deciding only now to update it? Honestly, I have no idea. lol. Nonetheless, here it goes.

Mages are created for damage. We harness the raw arcane energies and unleash them on our foes. Sure there's a couple of "perks" that we get with free food and water (which I really miss when playing my shaman), and portals to practically everywhere (which isn't as big of a deal if you have Astral Recall). We also have one of the best CC's in the game... not that that's really used much anymore, but I digress.

As a history lesson (and for anyone leveling a mage), fire mage spell rotation has historically been about a number sequence. Something along the lines of 7 fireballs and then an improved scorch, rinse and repeat. But it's really more of a priority system now, much like shadow priests have been for years, with a bunch of if-this-than-that-else-that's.

Let's go through the spells in the "typical" order. I'll explain the spell, talk about some of the talents that support it, explain when to use it in a single target sequence, and then you should be good to go.

Scorch - As a fire mage you'll generally want to start off hitting the boss with this spell. The main reason is because of a talent that you will want to have called Improved Scorch. As you can read from the tooltip, after 5 applications of Improved Scorch, all spells (yours and others) will have a 5% increased chance to critically hit. So, you want to make sure this is on the boss at all times. If you choose, there is also a Glyph of Improved Scorch that will mean you'll only have to cast this spell once before going on with the rest of your rotation.

All of that said, if you have a Frost Mage (Winter's Chill) or Afflication or Demonology Warlock (Improved Shadow Bolt) in your raid/party, you can completely ignore Scorch. All of the Frost Mage's spells will add the Winter's Chill effect (same debuff as scorch) and the Warlock usually uses their filler spell, Shadow Bolt, in between casting DoTs anyway. So, you can ignore it if somebody else is taking care of it.

Pyroblast - This spell is probably the biggest reason we're no longer a number sequence class. And more specifically, it is this spell in unison with the talent Hot Streak. So, whenever you crit twice in a row (which generally happens quite often), you can let this insta-pyro go. You do want to make sure that you have the full 5% increased crit debuff up first so that the spell has a greater chance to crit, but after that, let it fly. I do suggest a mod such as MageAlert to let you know when Hot Streak, Brain Freeze, or Missile Barrage proc. It's an audible way to let you know that it's ready. I just don't see the tiny little buffed button otherwise.

This spell is also towards the top of the prioritization since it's a huge hit AND you want to make sure you clear the crit table. If you crit twice and keep casting another spell, you could be sitting with an insta-pyro ready to go while you continue to crit. Cast the spell, go back to what you're doing, and then you have the opportunity to get another double crit for another insta-pyro! Additionally, there's a nice little DoT on this spell as well. It's not a lot, but it does help.

And finally, because we only cast this spell when we have Hot Streak up, it becomes a type of mobility spell. Need to reposition yourself? If you have the time, you can wait until Hot Streak procs, and then move as the 1.5 second global cooldown has triggered.

Living Bomb - If you haven't proc'ed Hot Streak with your Scorches, it's time to get your Living Bomb DoT up. Keep this spell up on your target as much as possible. You can't refresh this DoT; you have to wait until the final explosion until you cast it again. So, it's unlikely that you'll have Living Bomb on a target 100% of the time. Aim for the most, but you don't want to be sitting there waiting for it to go off.

For example, if you've just finished casting Fireball and there's 0.5 seconds left before Living Bomb goes off, what do you do? Do you sit there for 0.5 seconds waiting for the Living Bomb to explode? No. You cast another Fireball, let that fly, and then reapply Living Bomb.

Again, this is one of the mobility spells. If you have to move, this is a good insta-cast spell. You may even be able to justify using that 0.5 seconds in the example to move and then cast this spell as you're continuing to your destination.

If you're this far into fire and you have this spell, you'll also want the Glyph that goes along with it. Everybody loves more crits, right?

Fireball - This is where it comes down to what type of Fire Mage are you? You're generally a Fireball Fire Mage or a Frostfire Fire Mage. If you're a Fireball Fire Mage, you probably have some points in Arcane to take advantage of Focus Magic. You'll also want the Glyph of Fireball which means more crit, which means more damage, and also means more mana by means of Empowered Fire. Once the crit debuff is up (by means of Scorch or a Warlock), Living Bomb is going, and there's no Hot Streak, this is your main nuke. Spam this until Living Bomb blows up, Scorch needs to be renewed, or Hot Streak procs.

Check Fireball specs with Elitist Jerks or simply google it to find one. If you believe the masses, this is currently one of the highest DPS specs. You do need a good deal of hit to go along with it since you lose some in talents, but that's not really the point of this post, so I'll leave it at that.

Frostfire Bolt - If, on the other hand, you're more of an elemental mage using both Fire and Frost schools, you'll probably be using this as your nuke. Frostfire Bolt takes advantage of talents from both of those schools to increase it's damage. And the Glyph of Frostfire is required for this build. There's absolutely no down side for this glyph. It's your main nuke, it increases damage and crit. Use it.

As for spell rotation for Frostfire Bolt, if you're a Frostfire Mage, then simply use this spell instead of Fireball. As a Frostfire mage, there's really no reason to cast Fireball. Likewise, as a Fireball mage, there's no reason to cast Frostfire.

Fire Blast - With the way this spell scales, it's really not in the normal rotation much at all. You can use it as a filler here and there, but overall, it's generally better to cast another spell. That said, there is still some uses for this spell. Take the example I gave before. If you're on the move but waiting for Living Bomb to explode before you reapply, throw in a Fire Blast and then use that Living Bomb. Otherwise, you'll generally do more damage simply going back to your nuke.

Of note:
Molten Armor - While this isn't one of the spells in the "rotation", you'll want to be raiding with this armor on. And most likely, you'll want the accompanying Glyph as well. More crit... yep... we love it.

So, to sum it up. Scorch Debuff > Hot Streaked Pyroblast > Living Bomb > Fireball / Frostfire Bolt.

Now go out and do some damage.


gnic said...

That is a great rotation guide for my Mage alt! Thanks!

One small note tho -- Destro Warlocks don't run 'Improved Shadow Bolt' anymore. In fact, they don't even cast Shadow Bolts. But your solid *Affliction* Warlocks -- those guys are still packing the +Crit debuff that doesn't stack with 'Improved Scorch' or 'Winter's Chill' debuffs.

Leiandra said...

/blush. We have exactly zero raiding warlocks atm. So, thanks for keeping me honest.

Anonymous said...

I worry that my dps is not up to snuff for my deep fire/ttw spec. In 5-man heroics I do 2.5K to 3K overall dps with another 500-700dps on bosses. I am in full triumph badge gear for the most part, glyphed for molten armor, fireball, and living bomb. I have one error on my spec (only 2/3 in TTW). My rotation is generally the standard LB-Scorch-FB with Hot Streak Pyros when available. I regularly see mages of all specs out dps me significantly. Any suggestions? You can look me up on Magerhex / The Forgotten Coast.