There are many, many resources available out there on the interwebz on how to improve your character in WoW.
These resources can be used to find optimal gear, spec, rotation, gems, enchants, et cetera, et cetera.
But one of the things that people often forget is who they are getting their information from. Well, maybe not so much “who”, but they forget at what level the information comes. No, I don’t mean “a level 80”. I mean more like a “casual” raider or a “heroic mode” raider. Or even a 10-man raider versus a 25-man raider.
You see, it’s easy to forget the impact that different tiers of gear (and subsequent stats) may have on the effectiveness of a certain spec. It’s easy to also forget the available group buffs that impact the spec.
Let me use myself as an example as to how important these bits of information are…
You see, about two months ago, Frostheim did a writeup for WoW.com. It was a DPS analysis of specs used in ICC. It’s just a look at the data posted on World of Logs. Like any information, it should be taken with a grain of salt. It’s not data of everyone in ICC. Just the people that post their information. Basically, it’s a relatively small piece of the picture. It’s still good information, but it may have some limitations on the accuracy.
Aaaanyway, one of the things I noticed was that the Fire spec for a mage was coming out above Arcane. Sure, I had heard some musings: At higher gear levels, Fire was as good as Arcane, but there was nothing to back it up. Now it was in Frostheim’s analysis. This was pretty awesome news for me because I was Fire spec for all of Vanilla and Burning Crusade*. I really enjoy Fire, but early on in Wrath, Arcane was toted as the top DPS spec. So, with a smidge of curiosity (I never touched Arcane before) and hopes of self-improvement, I went along with the mage herd and spec’ed into Arcane.
All the reports held true – being an Arcane mage meant that I was a DPS monster.
Sure, kicking ass on the meters was pretty cool and the burst DPS is freaking amazing! (I broke 12k DPS on the Corehound boss in Violet Hold.) But, for me, Arcane hasn’t been all that fun. It’s a pretty easy rotation. And yes, I know there are several little tricks that separate the good DPS from the great DPS. But sorry kids, that can be said about every spec. As such, having two spells as your main rotation, it’s kind of dull.
So, back to Fire being arguably better than Arcane. The rumours were out there and there was the aforementioned DPS analysis. This finally got some further confirmation from a post at Empowered Fire. At higher gear levels, Fire was as good as Arcane.
That was it! Imma switch back to Fire, suckas!
Knowing that Crit is a more desirable than haste for Fire, I started to pick up pieces of gear for the change. There was also the challenge of making sure I had enough hit rating, but that was no problem. New booties, EoF cloak, etc. Once I felt I had the equivalent gear, I was ready for the change. In fact, my gear score actually went up a little.
So, with some fresh new digs and a revisited spec, I was ready to drop Living Bomb on absolutely everything (especially Warlocks). I did some heroics… I didn’t do as well, but considering how short the fights were, it didn’t really do Fire any justice. I NEEDED A RAIIIID! And eventually I got myself into an ICC-10 random, all set to melt the faces of Arthas’ minions. But it didn’t happen. At least not how I had hoped.
My DPS was garbage.
Well, at least compared to what it used to be. Sure, I may have been a bit rusty on the rotation and when to use the Hot Streak proc, but the drop was pretty drastic. (Like 1k DPS less type drastic.)
W. T. F?
So, I managed to hijack the comments for a different post at Empowered Fire. And that’s when they gave me a little wake-up call I made reference to earlier. Like I said, raid composition will affect which buffs you get. And certain buffs work much better for some specs than others. And lacking certain buffs may result in some lower number than to what you are accustomed to. (ie: Boomkins give a nice Crit buff. Having one in the group would have been very beneficial for me.)
The other wake-up call: What I consider to be “higher end” gear, may not be high end gear to someone else.
You see, I’m running around in mostly ilevel 251 gear mixed in with a piece or two of ilevel 264 (and 200 :P). Aislianana over at Empowered Fire – yeah, 264/277 gear. Yup, that qualifies as high end gear. And suddenly my gear seems a tad lacking in comparison. (And my skill seems lacking as well, but that’s another story! :P)
Am I going to switch back to Arcane? Nah, probably not. I still enjoy the play style. It requires a bit more attention and some particular timing, and I enjoy that challenge. And fortunately, I don’t think my DPS is gimped to the point that people are going to boot me out of PuGs.
But kids bored enough to read my drivel, let this be a lesson to you: Take note of where your information comes from.
Sometimes the information you get may not apply to you directly. Gear and raid composition (your raid versus info source) may differ to a point where what is best for them may not be best for you.
Or in other words, don’t be as silly as Uncle Regis. 😛
*Note: I was Frost for most of Wrath because it’s awesome for leveling. I dabbled in Frostfire at 80 before the visit to Arcane.