You will not find me very enthusiastic when I hit 85, because fire mage mana management is terrible and the crit suppression means the spec will be far, far less fun to play. But right now? Oh man, best fun I have ever had in WoW.
Tonight I played with what I call the “fun spec”. I took improved flame strike. I took fireblast range AND impact. I even took cauterize. And scorch-on-the-move. In short, I took everything that made life fun. It meant I had 0 points in haste and only 1-2 (forget which) in crit, but it didn’t matter — because I had everything that was awesome about fire in one tight little package.
First off, AE: just… far more engaging. Yes our DPS is lower due to not just LIVING BOMB LOL — but it’s also more fun. It’d be very hard to give up my blast wave + imp flame strike talent points after experiencing them. And I didn’t mind doing a bit of single-target rotation in between LB refreshes and Blast Wave — it worked out pretty well, and Impact gave me something to do if I got ignites up (assuming impact works with ignite — I was playing tonight if it did, but I lost track of which bugs and behaviors are active right now on live.)
Impact… I’m not sure if I used it poorly or if it’s just plain weaker than I thought. It has a weird interaction with living bomb due to the whole “no more than three LB’s up” that I couldn’t quite figure out, and without fireball leaving a dot (and later with crit being more surpressed), it just turns out that fire mages don’t have a lot of dots. I could see this becoming points we end up skipping down the road (although right now it’s beyond awesome for saurfang.)
Combustion is a terrible DPS cooldown, it really is. Very weak, nothing on the order of what you expect from a DPS cooldown — avenging wrath, icy veins, arcane power — THOSE are cooldowns. The two-minute limit on it also seems just way too long for how weak it is.
That said? It was fun! It gave something extra to do, something to plan around and for. I imagine it might be frustrating and unpleasant in Cata when our crit rates are terrible and we can’t get ignite up but, for now, it’s a very nice flavor addition to the spec. I definitely recommend using CombustionHelper : Mage : WoWInterface Downloads.
Mage threat is through the roof right now because caster damage is very high and, unlike warlocks, we don’t have a pet to mitigate our threat impact. Combustion doesn’t help either, since it’s a big bang right up front. I had little choice other than to use mirror image at the start of many fights, and I was invising often (my fellow mages were instead relying on taunt’s cooldown to be back up. Either way works ).
Cauterize is just as fun as you might think — ignoring mechanics entirely on Festergut and then popping mage ward and laughing at the world….right up until your healers, who are distracted by the lack of grid, forget to heal you and the damage pulse kills you. I was laughing so hard I was almost crying. I do look forwards to living past that point next week, but it was enough to verify that cauterize works and we can cheese the hell out of some raid mechanics. I can’t imagine wanting it in a build other than for a Festergut style fight when points are more precious, but it was sure great for that! (modulo, you know, not dying and stuff.)
My original plan was to play arcane and fire tonight, and then to add in frost next week. I have to say, it’s going to be hard to convince myself to play anything other than fire for a while, especially since I think the fun factor will drop severely in cataclsym — I’d like to get my jollies now!