Musings: Mage alt decisions

This is probably going to be a double post day. First off I hope everyone had a wonderful Easter. I do not celebrate the holiday myself but I did spend it with my girlfriend’s family and it was a lovely time. For those who did not celebrate it, I hope you had a wonderful Sunday J Later on tonight I will probably be making revisions to my restoration guide including modified specs and new spell information (along with a general 4.1 round-up, the relevant bits at least).

What I wanted to discuss briefly is…Mages. Yup you heard me right. This is one of the few times that I veer completely off druid course and talk about something different. If you aren’t interested I completely understand. This post is also about an alt of which my familiarity and knowledge of are lower so this will be more of a gut reaction article than anything else.

I’ve spent a lot of time raiding as moonkin when my guild needed DPS over the last few years. I pride myself on being a fairly strong DPS player (with some gear limitations taking only what would be sharded) and more than pull my weight when working on difficult content. I’m competitive by nature when it comes to DPS’ing on my druid. It’s not that I’m a meter whore or anything like that, I just want to make sure I’m not a liability. I like to know that they value my performance when I am asked to DPS and that I’m not three quarters or seven eights of a full time DPS’er. Because of this drive I find myself a little at odds when it comes to playing my mage.

I leveled up as arcane for a good chunk of my play time on the mage and then swapped over to frost once I hit the content where arcane blast couldn’t two shot mobs as easily as it did everywhere else. Frost grew on me a lot while playing and I enjoyed the rotation it offered with a range of dynamics procs to manage and cooldowns to work off of. It was fluid and intuitive. When I hit level 85 I still rocked frost while gearing up and running heroics but soon saw the allure of fire. With comparable effort I was able to do much more damage on all accounts and soon I was mastering that rotation as well. The AoE took me a little longer to get the handle on but it is quite fun.

With patch 4.1 on the horizon and simulationcraft results showing arcane pulling ahead at 372 ilevel (vastly different than 352 I know, especially with the mana cost reduction trinket they use) and frost coming up just behind fire as a semi-competative spec I’m very torn. I love frost and have a fondness for arcane but I’m not sure I enjoy their level 85 play style and rotation. Here is what I’ve found from trying all three specs out on my alt:

Frost

Pros

– I much prefer the frost cast rotation to either of the other two.

Cons

– Hard to evaluate without raid buffs, I come up short of the crit soft cap and lose a substantial amount of damage

– Mobility and movement dps loss is a problem

– Most mana inefficient spec, requires a chunk of time spent in mage armor

Arcane

Pros

– Potentially the highest single target dps after 4.1

Cons

– Terrible movement dps loss (blink helps some)

-Enjoys mastery, gear is currently primarily crit/haste

Fire

Pros

– Simple rotation, high damage

– Great mobility and movement dps

Cons

– Ignite munching greatly improved but not removed

These are purely observations from someone playing an alt mage. I’ve done tons of reading on forums, sites, and elitist jerks in order to better familiarize myself with the class. Having had a chance to start raiding a smidge with him some this weekend I’m seeing areas where playing him differs from DPS’ing on my druid and I enjoy those subtle variations. I just want to find some type of compromise between choosing the spec du jour and a spec that I thoroughly enjoy playing. Anyone else find themselves in a predicament like this? Anyone out there with a lot of mage experience want to chime in and discuss the decision behind the spec they’ve chosen to play or plan to play in 4.1?

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2 responses to “Musings: Mage alt decisions

  1. My mage is my primary alt. However, as a healer I’ve never took the time to maximize my DPS by min maxing pretty much anything. I’ve never had the urge to do so, and I generally am not in a position where my spec’s dps output needs to come into question. If it does, I’m wondering why my healer isn’t there instead.

    That being said I’ve tried all the specs at various points, but I’ve always been frost. That’s the spec I enjoy and what I use unless I’m feeling different. I’d say play what you love. But if you do like the DPS it sounds like you’d like fire more. It’s somewhat in the middle from what I’ve seen, so perhaps a compromise. My mage continues to just farm me leather and make portals to places, so I really can’t say what it is like raiding as any of the specs in this content.

    All the mages in my guild seem to be mainly arcane since forever ago, but I also bet they’d switch to frost if suddenly that was top dps.

  2. An interesting thing to note, apparently the main mage in our main group is running frost for some heroic fights. Something about the movement requirements allows the most dps from the frost spec. Or they were lying to me, there’s a World of Logs report somewhere though, so doubt they’d quote that and lie. So seems frost might be somewhat viable for movement intensive fights. And they would switch to frost for dps 😄

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