I don’t know about the other mages out there, but I know that I am constantly at odds with myself as to what spec I’m going to play on my mage.
I know, I know! You’re supposed to play the spec you enjoy most!
But that’s where all my conflict starts. I like ALL three (well, “four”) specs you can play as a mage.
I did levels 1 – 70 as a Fire mage. I did not interest myself in theorycrafting and min/maxing my talents. I picked the fire tree and took everything I could in that spec. It was pretty decent for leveling. You find the mob you need, load up your pyroblast and follow up with one or two fireballs and then you collect your loot. NEXT!
But then finally my friends convinced me that Frost was the way to level. So, when Wrath came out, I decided to utilize the free respec that came with the talent changes and grew some Frosticles. And boy, the differences were very clear. It took a few more frostbolts to take down a mob…but they often got rooted and you could take them down before they hit you. And if they did get a chance to hit you, ice barrier absorbed the damage. So now leveling involved nabbing four or five mobs, frost nova them in place, and then blizzard them all and collect your loot. But I knew for raids, there’s no way this spec could keep up with any of the others.
And for the majority of my Raiding/Pugging life, I went as Frostfire. Basically an “Icy Veins” fire build that utilizes the Frostfire bolt to reap the benefits of all those frost talents you took to get IV. Another added benefit is a talent to reduce your required hit rating by 3%. Very sexy for itemization. Anyway, once I learned that spell power and crit were the way to go, I geared up and gemmed as best I could. I could dish out 2800 – 3200 regularly and peak out at 3800 or so in a 25 man raid.
Arcane – I had always pondered about this one since the beginning of Burning Crusade, but I never bothered to try it until a month or two ago. Ever since Wrath was released, I heard that Arcane was the way to go. Most DPS EVARZ. So I made my switch… and I definitely saw maybe a 500 dps increase over my “Frostfire” and even more if I utilized Arcane Blast appropriately. It was fun to play, but I was expecting more. I knew that I wasn’t properly geared for it, having put all my focus on crit and SP as opposed to haste. I took a look at the work I’d have to do to re-gear for haste and basically gave up. Too much work!
So now I sit with full Fire (+TTW) spec. I’m able to break 3500 dps regularly and I’ve peaked out at around 4900 (depending on the fight). I had heard this spec was comparable to the Arcane spec, but I’m guessing if I was equally geared (same iLevel) but geared for more haste than crit, the Arcane spec would produce bigger numbers. It’s also more flexible and less RNG dependent than Fire.
Now, I realize I’m not a progression raider. I usually end up in VoA pugs and sometimes hop into a Naxx run just for fun. I put out decent numbers and really I’m just splitting hairs, so I really shouldn’t worry about it. (I don’t actually worry about it… but I do ponder!) And with the changes coming in patch 3.3, this pondering of spec becomes a tad more complicated.
Frost is likely becoming a viable raiding spec. Soon frost mages will have the option of a permanent water elemental (which probably pisses off Hunters and Warlocks. :P). Also, the once only-useful-in-PvP 51 point talent “Deep Freeze” will dish out damage to stun-immune targets (read: raid bosses). And from what I’ve read over at Critical QQ, it’s actually quite a bit of damage.
So, I’m left to wonder how I should proceed through the next patch. I like all the mage builds and their various fuctions. Living bomb with fire mage is a blast, Arcane is flexible and you can manage your mana and dps, and frost will keep you alive longer and make your healers slightly less frantic. (You’ll still have to get out of the fire, you silly frosties!)
Are there any other mages out there that have the same neurosis that I do over these choices? Or do you play a spec because you enjoy it the most? Should I just be happy that I’ve got good dps, even if I’m not uberleetmaximus?