Guide to Being a Successful Fire Mage in PVE

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Guide to Being a Successful Fire Mage in PVE

Post by Janneel's on Wed 11 Aug 2010, 10:28 pm

Disclaimer: This guide has been written based off my own experiences as a fire mage. I’ve been a fire mage since the original beta to World of Warcraft and have been a fire mage ever since. While this guide is not the tell all of fire mages, this is based off my own experience and what has worked for me over the past two years. I encourage you to try out different aspects of being a fire mage to find out what works best for you. My goal with this guide is to expand your knowledge of the class and make you the best mage you can possibly be.

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TO START WITH…
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So you’ve finally decided you want to be a fire mage. Well, let me be the first to congratulate you on a decision that seems to be plaguing many mages every day. But let me warn you. It’s not going to be easy. One of the big differences between a fire and frost mage is mana conservation. Without mana, you can’t produce the DPS to help your group. Frost is a much more mana friendly specialization, so you’re going to need to learn how to maximize your DPS without hindering your group. As a fire mage, you’re going to be expected to be one the main damage dealers, whether it be a 5-man instance or a full raid. Fire mages also lack the survivability that the frost mages have, so you’re going to need to be a little more on your toes. A dead mage does no good to the raid. But first, you need to understand what you’re working with.

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FIRE SPELLS
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Fireball - Fireball will be your primary spell when it comes to causing damage. But be wary of its mana cost, because it will drain your mana before you realize it. Spamming fireball is not necessarily the best option when it comes to producing your damage. This is one of the biggest mistakes a new mage can make, especially when they don’t have the total mana to support it. The key to mana conservation with fire is to mix in other spells to compliment your fireball.

Fire Blast - One of the most underrated spells that a fire mage has. While more experienced mages might disagree with me, I have had too many experiences with new mages that completely forget this spell is even on their tool bar. Fire blast is an instant cast spell that I like to use as my own “finishing move.” It plays an integral part in both PVE and PVP, especially when you need something or someone to go down quick. In PVE, this spell will help maximize your DPS if used correctly. Untalented, fire blast is on an 8-second cool down. Fire blast should be used immediately after the cast for your fireball has completed. Why? If done correctly, your fire blast and fireball will hit the target at the same time. It may take some practice and quick hands, but it’s a good way to maximize your DPS.

Scorch - Learn to use scorch and learn to love it. Scorch is the most mana efficient spell in the fire tree and its not to be taken lightly. Scorch is a 1.5-second cast, that can deal a moderate amount of damage and be very viable in PVP. Scorch is also the best way for a Mage to control their DPS while raiding, especially if you’re getting high on the mobs hate list. I have seen Mages top DPS charts with knowing how to use this spell and how to use it effectively.

Pyroblast - Pyroblast is a spell that isn’t used very much and for good reason. Pyroblast has a 6-second cast time and in most situations, you won’t have 6-seconds to sit around and waste while this spell gets ready. Pyroblast is best used with presence of mind (commonly referred to as PoM), which is a talented spell that makes your next spell with less than a 10-second casting time an instant cast. But with the 3-minute cool down on presence of mind, don’t think you’re going to be able to just fling around pyroblasts whenever you feel like it. *Pyroblast is a talented spell and you must spend a talent point to train the first rank.*

Flamestrike - Flamestrike is the primary fire AOE available to mages. It’s also the only AOE that has a cast time. Flamestrike plays a role in both PVE and PVP since it can be done from a distance, unlike arcane explosion or blast wave that uses the mage as its center casting point. Flamestrike also can be talented to have a higher critical chance rate, which can lead to more damage with it procing ignite, a talent that allows 40% more damage to critical hits. Flamestrike is also the only AOE that gets about half of its damage from a DOT effect.

Blast Wave - Blast wave is the other fire AOE and is an instant cast. It does a little more instant damage (it has no DOT) than flamestrike but it also has a 45-second cool down. One of the highlights of this spell is the 6-second daze it causes to the target. Blast wave definitely has its uses and is a common spell used in PVP because of the daze effect. Blast wave has a chance of critical hitting and procing ignite. One mistake mages use in PVE AOEing with blast wave, is they open up with the spell, followed by arcane explosion. Blast wave has a higher chance of pulling agro on you than arcane explosion (especially if you don’t take the reduction of threat talent) and might take some practice to get used to. *Blast wave is also a talented spell and you must spend a talent point to train the first rank.*

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FIRE TALENTS
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Talents are additional abilities added to your character. Usually they compliment your already existing fire spells in some way, shape, or form. A couple of them are skills all in themselves. Choosing the right talent can be a very important decision. One of the problems I’ve seen with a lot of mages is a lack of knowledge of talents. While I won’t go into specific builds, a slight tweak to your current build may help maximize your DPS and fix a few of the kinks you may be having.

Improved Fireball - This is a must have talent. This talent decreases the cast time of your fireball spell by 0.5-seconds. Now you may be asking your self -- only 0.5-seconds? What good is that? Believe me, when you’re raiding, 0.5-seconds is a lot of time. Actually, any aspect of this game that is a lot of time. This allows you to get more fireballs off per encounter, maximizing your DPS.

Impact - While many will disagree with me on this, impact is almost useless in PVE. I haven’t talented into this in a very long time and quite frankly, I don’t miss it or ever been in a situation where I wish I had it. It has its uses in PVP, but since this guide is aimed at the raiding mage, this talent shouldn’t have much importance to you.

Ignite - Ignite gives your critical hits 40% (fully talented) more damage. Ever hear of rolling ignites? Its not uncommon to get multiple ignites from using scorch and yes, they do stack. Ignite is important because there is no extra mana cost when it procs on your target.

Flame Throwing - Another must have talent in my opinion. The further you’re away from the action, the better. And this talent gives you an extra 6 yards of casting distance. This talent is incredibly useful in encounters that require you to stay at a certain range. With more encounters being implemented that have fears and other ranged damage, you can easily be out of range with flame throwing.

Improved Fire Blast - If you have extra talent points, I’d definitely toss them into this. Fully talented, this can reduce your cool down on your fire blast by 1.5-seconds. It will allow you to use your fire blast more often, but its not something I would consider a must have if your points are spent better elsewhere. Good way of getting deeper in the talent tree if you need to spend points.

Incinerate - This talent will increase your critical hit chance of your scorch and fire spells. Remember back when I mentioned rolling ignites? This is the talent that helps that out. This is an integral talent to any PVE fire build.

Improved Flamestrike - Increases your critical strike chance of your flamestrike spell, but not really worth putting the points into. I’ve never used flamestrike enough in a PVE situation to need this talent.

Burning Soul - This talent does two things. It reduces the threat generated by your fire spells and it also gives your fire spells a high chance to avoid interruption. In PVE, you’ll be more worried about the first part than the second. Threat is everything to a mage. The less threat you cause, the more damage you can do. Pull agro from the tank is going to get you in some hot water. So this gives you more of a comfort zone when it comes to putting on the hurt. The interruption avoidance is good for PVP, but you’ll rarely need that part of the talent in PVE since you shouldn’t have things beating on you to begin with.

Improved Scorch - One of the best talents offered in the fire tree. Increases fire damage done to your target up to 15%. More damage is always a good thing and this also benefits the warlocks in the raid. The more mages with this talent, the quicker it can be applied. It lasts for 30-seconds, but the timer is reset whenever a new scorch hits the target.

Improved Fire Ward - No real use for this talent. Mainly a filler talent that has no real use in PVE. You shouldn’t be getting hit by fire spells and if you are, the mob casting them on you is most likely immune to fire damage (ex. Vaelestrasz in Blackwing Lair).

Master of Elements - This talent goes back to the whole mana conservation. This allows any of your fire or frost spells that critically hit to restore some of the mana used for the spell.

Critical Mass - Increases the critical strike chance of your fire spells. Critical strikes can be a good thing while raiding, but can also be a bad thing. Critical strikes proc ignite, which increases your damage, but it also causes more threat. The more critical strikes you cause, the more threat you cause. Its good to learn how much damage you’re doing, so you have an idea of the amount of threat you’re causing. More on this later.

Fire Power - Your goal as a fire mage is to at least get to this point of the fire tree. Fire Power is a much needed talent for any raiding fire mage. It increases your damage by up to 10%, depending on how many points you put in it but you should max it out. Your goal as a fire mage is to do damage, so anything that gives you more damage is definitely something you need to pick up.

Combustion - Much better than the previous combustion. This is a good talent to go for to increase damage, but one you can still live without. Even with it being one talent point, that point can most likely be used in the arcane tree for something much more useful.

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GEAR
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One of the most important aspects of the raiding mage is gear. Spell damage gear is the gear of choice by mages as it bumps out your total damage output. Making sure all your pieces are properly enchanted all goes along with gear. Depending on the instance you’re getting ready to enter, being properly equipped will go a long way. You don’t want to gimp yourself or your raid group by showing up under dressed. You need to be able to pull your own weight in a raid and can’t depend on others to pick up your slack. There is an order of instancing in the game for a reason, where the gear drops scale with difficulty so be sure to read up on that.

Damage gear however doesn’t replace your knowledge of the class. I have been in raids with other mages that have had much higher damage gear than I have and I’ve out damaged them on many occasions. Gear only compliments the player and that’s the way it should be. Anyone can stack their damage over +500, but if they don’t know how to make the best of it, its going to be completely pointless. Its all about learning what does what, when it should be done, and how it will effect the overall outcome of the encounter.

There are many resources that you can read to find out what the best gear available is to you at your particular level or stage. You need to be willing to put in the effort and can’t expect anything to be handed to you. As a fire mage, there are many drops that can boost your fire only damage. In most cases, you can find gear with more +fire damage on a particular item than a similar item that has +all spells. So its going to take a little time to find out and if you have any questions about what gear is good for you, don’t be afraid to ask someone knowledgeable of the class or end-game raiding.

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CONSUMABLES AND ENCHANTS
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If you’re an alchemist or you know an alchemist, there are various recipes that can give you a little boost in your overall spell damage or your fire damage in general. These potions are cheap to make and can be very handy in fights, especially ones that require a high amount of burst DPS a small amount of time. There are also various enchants available for your items that can be applied by an enchanter. Some of these enchants can be fairly expensive, but well worth it and will allow you to pull your own weight in your raids. Be sure you’re aware of which enchants are available to you and what you need to do in order to get them.

Aside from spell damage potions and enchants, its always a good idea to come prepared with your bandages, health potions, mana potions, or other means of consumables that will help you production in a raid. Keep in mind that healers are not always looking out for you and an over confident mage can take away the much needed heals from the tank. So you should always have a back up plan on you incase things go wrong. There are also invulnerability potions that can get you out of a stick situation if you do pull agro off the main tank.

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RAID PERFORMANCE
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Alright, so we made it through all the boring stuff. Hopefully you have a better understand of the spells and talents that affect you as a fire mage. Like I’ve said many times in this guide, your primary role as a fire mage (or mage in general) is to be one of the main damage dealers. The last thing you want to do in a raid is pull the attention on yourself. A good mage is a quiet mage. If you constantly make mistakes or do what you’re not supposed to be doing, the chances of finding yourself back in a raid will be slim to none. Many inexperienced mages I come across overlook a lot of the basic functions of how raiding works. I know its fun to sit there and nuke away with everything you have, but you need to know when enough if enough.

Even with talents and other threat reduction gear or abilities, its still possible to pull agro. Take some time to learn how the warrior class works. Learn how they build their agro and what needs to be done before the mob they are on is under control. A general rule in most raids is not to begin DPS until there is five sunder armors on a target. A good warrior will be vocal about what is going on as they have the best idea of how much agro they have and how well they can control it. As a fire mage, the mob is very sensitive to your spells in the early stages of the fight. Frost mages can get away with early damage, because they’re spells don’t do as much damage and cause the amount of threat fire does. Plus, they have many options when it comes to survivability if they do pull agro.

The next thing you need to determine is what type of encounter is this? If it’s a trash mob or a boss will determine what your next action is. Usually on trash pulls, there isn’t much strategy when it comes to what spells you should use in certain situations. Most trash mobs will be dead by the time you get off three fireballs, so mana conservation isn’t too much of an issue. You will normally have enough mana to outlast most trash pulls allowing you to drink in between pulls. Boss fights however are much different. Aside from understanding how a warrior creates agro, you need to learn how certain mobs and bosses handle agro. Bosses are much more touchy than your normal trash mob and should be treated as such.

Another thing you need to keep in mind is most raids have some sort of assisting program set up. As a fire mage, this is INCREDIBLY important for you to know. Attacking the wrong target will get you into some hot water with the raid leader and your fellow raiders. Not to mention, some mobs can cause drastic effects on the raid group, so if you pull a mob that isn’t properly tanked, it can mean a wipe to your raid group and a lot of upset people. Rolling a mage means you’re ready to be alert at all times. You can make or break any encounter if you’re not careful with what you’re doing.

Alright, so you’re ready to put a beat down. Generally the best spell to open up with is scorch. it’s a slow, steady, and quick way to build up your DPS without putting yourself high on the hate list. It also begins to apply your improved scorch debuff which will allow more damage. Because damage is good, right? Improved scorch will stack up to 5-times so be sure you keep an eye on the debuff icon. If the mob resists your scorch, the debuff WILL NOT be applied. Most mages I’ve ran into don’t pay attention to this and then they’re surprised to find out the debuff has only stacked 3-times. Be sure you know which other mages have improved scorch, because this can make your life a lot easier. There’s no reason to keep applying scorch if the debuff has already reached its 5-stack limit.

Here is when you begin to cast fireball. Scorch is very mana efficient so you should still have close to a full mana bar at this point. Its always a good idea to be at max range, depending on what the encounter calls for. If the mob has no AOE effects, you may want to get a little closer. By standing closer, you bring in your ability to restack scorch if need be and/or make use of fire blast. Like I mentioned earlier, in raiding, most mages forget about fire blast. But it’s a quick way to add more DPS on the mob. Especially when cast immediately after fireball. Fire blast also has a high critical hit rate (if talented), so you want to make sure if it does critically hit, you’re aware of your current standing on the hate list.

You want to keep an eye on your scorch debuff. Too many times this will run out and you won’t realize its no longer there. The scorch debuff only has a 30-second time limit, so it’s a good idea to keep in mind when it was applied and how much time it has left. As long as the debuff is still active on the mob, it only takes one scorch to reset the time back to 30-seconds. If you wait until it completely wears off, you’ll need to reapply it five more times. This can take away from your time to deal damage, so be sure to keep that debuff refreshed.

Another thing to keep in mind while raiding is mob resistance's. Some mobs may be more susceptible to your fire school than other schools of magic. While this is fun to watch and watch numbers pop up you wouldn’t normally see, you need to keep in mind that you’re threat is also reaching numbers you’ve never seen. Being a cloth wearer, you don’t have much armor to help you survive a few hits from an end-game mob while a warrior fights to get them off you. This is where you’ll truly be tested on how much you understand your own agro. Agro control is something you will learn over time and get used to. You may make a few mistakes here and there, but try not to make a habit of it.

On longer fights, scorch will most likely be your primary spell, with fireball complimenting it. There are many boss encounters where mana conservation is key. Scorch is also a good way to knock down adds with low hit points that are brought into the fight or are part of the encounter in general. In some encounters, you’ll find the 3-second cast time on fireball is just too great. Other times, the fight goes on way to long for fireball to even be considered as a primary spell. Just because fireball is your main source of damage, doesn’t mean it’s a viable spell 100% of the time. This is where preparation comes into play. One of the reasons a lot of mages dwindle in DPS as the fight goes on is because they become too reliant on one or two spells instead of using everything they have available to them.

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SURVIVABILITY
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Sometimes things go wrong. But try not to make a habit of it. As a fire mage, your survivability is lacking compared to a frost mage so you need to be able to adjust to situations gone bad. Most encounters in the game will be from mobs that cause physical damage. You will learn mana shield is your best friend. Yes, it drains mana for the amount of damage you take. But a little mana loss at the cost of dying is a worth taking. Your no good dead, so you need to do what you can to survive. The first rule to pulling agro is get to the main tank. Whatever you do and I can’t stress this enough, but DO NOT RUN. Mobs will follow you and trust me, you can’t outrun them. The quicker you get it back to the main tank, the better it is for you and the raid. And can ultimately save the raid group from a wipe. Mana shield can be spammed in sticky situations. There is no cool down on it, so if you need to waste half your mana bar to survive, DO IT. While many mages may question the role of mana shield, it has saved me on way too many occasions and is something I always have ready.

Being a mage, you also have two wards available to you to soak up damage. While mana shield absorbs physical damage, you also have a fire ward and frost ward. Both of these wards are on a 30-second cool down so you need to be smart. If you pull agro from a mob that uses either fire or frost damage, don’t be afraid to pop up a warn to absorb some of it. It will also save time for some of the healers having to turn to you and heal you rather than focusing on the main tank. These two wards are very beneficial and should be relied upon whenever the situation may call for it.

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IN THE END…
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So you’ve read through this guide and I hope you now have a better understanding of how you work as a fire mage. Raiding is always a learning experience as you will very rarely come across two encounters that are exactly alike. So being a good mage also depends on how well you can adjust to certain situations. Being a mage is going to push you to your limits. Its definitely one of the hardest classes in the game to master, so you need to constantly learn what everything does and ask questions if you don’t understand.

I hope in the end, this guide has made you a better raider and/or cleared up some questions you may have had when it came to your role in a raid.
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