Updated thoughts via Alpha Notes
*If you would like to see the Pre-Alpha Design I had in mind, just scroll down past all of these thoughts.
So, Fire has had some changes for Warlords coming up. Good or bad? Well, if you are bleeding out, I suppose a band-aid will help stem the blood flow slightly (I need to find a new analogy really, but it works), and these are what the notes are for Fire.
Now looking at our perks:
Good things to note are Enhanced Fireball, Improved Dragon's Breath, Improved/Enhanced Inferno Blast, and Improved Scorch. The rest can be ignored for the most part. From this, our AoE and Cleave will get a slight boost with Dragon's Breath possibly not being crap, and Inferno Blast getting two decent boosts, Flamestrike honestly just needs better scaling or a damage boost overall to be better. Scorch will be more of a DPS loss now with Fireball getting buffed, however the Scorch movement buff will allow us to get set into a position faster if we have to move a substantial amount (how common this will be with Raid design in 6.0-6.x remains to be seen). Combustion will have more general uptime. And Fireball and Pyroblast will crit more saving us some annoyance and keeping steadier RNG for DPS.Originally Posted by Blizzard Entertainment
It isn't bad, and we will certainly be in a better place than MoP. However, Combustion still exists in its current state which I think is not good to an extent. I believe Fire would really benefit from a CD that increases Crit Damage, or having our Molten Armour changed to such:
Molten Armour - Increases Crit Damage by x%.
Crit will be devalued with the base Crit being ingrained in the spec (and losing general crit from Intellect not giving it anymore), predictable and my Heat design worked around that idea. Crit Damage has great Synergy with Combustion and the spec, and Haste will have great synergy with our new 100 Talent:
Kindling (Fire) - Your Fireball, Pyroblast, and Inferno Blast critical strikes reduce the cooldown remaining on Combustion by 1 sec.
I would assume that the main testing now will be to see if Crit is still worth going for, or if after a certain % Haste/Mastery will overpower it. Crit Damage is good with Mastery and Crit as well, but not as much with Haste, so we will also need to see come Beta and such how much Crit Damage is prevalent on gear and if it will truly affect our stat weights enough to matter.
Overall, it is just definite that the changes are going to make Haste and Mastery stronger stats for us, which I think is healthy for the spec. The closer the stats are, the more possible build deviations there are and creations to excel in different areas. Otherwise, everybody is just pigeonholed into one straight gearing which, while it works and is consistent, I find boring.
Now, how Mana will work is something that will be seen. Rune of Power no longer increases generation, and we will again have to see in Beta how costly spells are and if Mana is even going to be a thing that we need to watch for. I do believe that if Mana is useless, then a new resource such as my Heat proposal will should be added in. There is no point arguing that Mana should be left in if it is unusued or unwatched in an encounter. That argument just simply has no merit other than "Oh, but Mages have always used Mana and stuff." Yes, we use it as a resource for casting spells, but if that resource is infinite essentially, then it adds absolutely nothing to the class. If I can go to a Target Dummy, and perform my normal rotation for 10min and never need to worry about Ooming, then Mana needs to go and we need to get something else to play with or use, or just remove the bar entirely and save those pixels on my screen.
Overall Fun Compared to MoP
The spec will obviously be better and more fluid than it was in this expansion. Both Combustion and Ignite I find are the core issues with the spec currently, but the lessening of RNG problems throughout an expansion is the main help for Blizzard's changes. The talent tree will also hopefully be better balanced to allow differing builds, or at least builds within 1% of each other (and yes, there will always be min/max players that ignore any other possible build, I am one of those as well). Once Beta rolls along and testing goes underway, I can hopefully comment more on WoD Fire, but this is all just theory and speculation. This most likely will not be where Fire should be for myself and other players, and I think it could use some slight complexity increases (as a new resource could add), but overall it is an okay start.
Pre-Alpha Thoughts Below
Hello all, a few of you may remember my old Fire Spec Redesign that I made several months ago, and has popped back up every now and then. It did garner a decent amount of support, and good ideas have been knocked back and forth. I have also had many people in game, from higher end raiding Mages to average Mages, and they all chimed in with ideas and support as well. With this, the start of Patch 5.4, and the soon-to-be end of the expansion, I have re put everything together and redesigned my...redesign to reflect the changes that have been discussed with me.
The Current Problems of Fire: Why it needs to change
To answer any beginning questions for this guide, I will start with why I believe the spec needs to be redesigned. If you have played a Mage this expansion, you have realized that the class and all of the specs have been very rocky throughout it. Fire in particular, has bounced from a medium spec, to the best spec, to the worst, and slowly climbed its way to a competent spec with gear. Now that doesn't seem so bad in general, however, if you review patch notes you see the true mess of the spec. From 5.0 to 5.2, almost every hotfix had something to do with nerfing Fire, accidentally buffing it with a temporary Combustion change (which was 100% of your ignite, a HUGE unintentional buff). The spec scales well, too well. And that is not a good thing during the MoP era and possibly going into the future.
Back in WotLK, we did not have Inferno Blast. You needed two Fireball crits in order to grab a Hot Streak proc. This reduced the scaling as you were still working against probability in gaining that Pyroblast. Even with up to 60-70% crit back in the day, it is easier nowadays to get a Crit with just 50% crit (and then an Inferno Blast for the free Pyro) than two criticals with 65% crit.
Math for that:
50% of Fireball crit per Cast = 50% chance of Pyro per cast w/ Inferno Blast
65% of Fireball crit per cast x 65% of Fireball crit per cast = 42.25% chance of Pyro w/o Inferno Blast
We did have huge amounts of crit in WotLK, however the scaling was not near as huge as it is today.
Now why is scaling a problem? Just look at the hotfixes and patch notes for this expansion. With the addition of x2 Secondary Stat Gems (320 Crit vs 160 INT) and reforging, we can get bucket loads of Crit with Gear than ever before. On top of that, as gear improves through tiers, chances of multiple sockets in gear increases. Those extra sockets are another possible 320 crit, or 160 crit on top of that. This shoots Fire out of control through the patches, requiring constant nerfs. Now nerfs are not a bad thing, but they are when they have gone as uncoordinated as they have this expansion, which makes me afraid for the future. Combustion, our one CD, is completely broken. It is either too good, or too horrible. It is too RNG based, as is the whole spec. And RNG brings in an entire other point.
Crit is the only secondary stat that does this. For specs that rely on it a ton (aka Fire Mages), it can make or break your DPS. Haste? Straight boost to casting speed. Mastery? Straight boost to our ignite. Crit? You either do double damage or you do not. You either get a Heating up proc or you do not. And RNG ruins the fun of specs. Yes, you heroic raiders who had 548 ilevel love RNG, we get that. Because at your gear level, it is almost never a problem, and generally goes in your own favor. However, 95% of the Mage population is or can be screwed over by it, and that is terrible class design. It is horrible to see your DPS drop by 10k of your normal damage one attempt because your RNG is just terrible for that attempt. Oh, you are supposed to have 45% crit buffed? Enjoy quite possibly averaging 34% for an attempt and having terrible Combustion uses on top of that. A class should not be designed around luck. You shouldn't be able to put two equal skilled and equal geared fire mages next to each other and have one pull 20k-30k over the other just because of RNG. No other spec suffers this much, and if it continues, we can expect next expansion to be the same back and forth placing of Fire and the constant complaints from it. And thus, to my proposed changes to fix this.
The New Fire Spec
Heat - Fire Mages will no longer use Mana, we will use "Heat". Heat is a resource that is at a baseline of 0, and climbs to 100, the cap. Spells will generate Heat or cost Heat. Heat will also decay at a rate of 5 heat every 5 seconds*.
*This will occur at a rate of -5 on the 5th second, not -1 for every second (i.e. 50,45,40, not 50,49,48).
New Mastery: Thermophile
Thermophile - As your heat increases, your spell damage is increased by x%, up to a maximum of x% at 100 heat.
Spells that Generate or Cost Heat:
Fireball - Generates 20 Heat.
Scorch - Generates 10 Heat.
Pyroblast - Costs 20 Heat, Now has same cast time as Fireball.
Mage Bomb - Bombs are individually balanced to provide 15 Heat with their explosion or end of duration.
Inferno Blast - Generates 15 Heat, 100% crit rate, now a 10 second CD.
Flamestrike - Removed. Replaced with Meteor.
New Spell: Meteor - A meteor falls on the selected location, doing x% Fire damage and leaving a damaging aura on the ground for 7 seconds. Costs 40 Heat. BEING IMPLEMENTED WITH 100 TALENTS
Dragon's Breath - Costs Zero Heat. Does x% damage and dazes the targets for 0.5 seconds for every 10 heat you have (up to a maximum of 5 seconds).
Blast Wave - Reimplemented. Blasts away all targets from the selected area doing x% damage. Costs 15 Heat. 15 second CD.
*Passives not listed (such as Shatter) will remain the same
Heating up - When a spell crits, you will gain "Heating up". If the next spell you cast crits, "Heating up" turns into "Hot Streak", which allows a instant cast Pyroblast that does not generate nor cost Heat.
Critical Mass - No longer multplies Crit chance by 1.3
New Passive - Every point 10 points of Heat will increase your critical strike by 3%, up to a maximum of 30% at 100 Heat.
Nether Attunement - Removed as a passive
Ignite - No longer a mastery. Same effect however, but is fixed at x% of your damage instead of scaling off of mastery.
Combustion - No longer makes a DoT based on Ignite Damage.
New CD: Increase your Heat generation by 100% for 15 seconds. 1min 30sec CD.
Flame Orb - Reimplemented. Absorbs all Heat your Mage currently has into an orb that fires straight, doing x% damage based on your Heat for the next 10 seconds. If cast at multiple targets, damage is split between them. Orb explodes at end of duration. 1min CD.
NEW ADDITION - Wildfire - Your Critical Strike Damage is increased by 50% for the next 15 seconds. 2min CD.
Glyph of Combustion - Removed
Glyph of Inferno Blast - Spreads Pyroblast DoT and Ignite to 2 additional targets (up from 1).
Glyph of Fiery Returns - Your Mana Gem becomes a Fire Gem, restoring 50 Heat per use, not increased during Combustion. 2min CD.
Glyph of the Phoenix - Minor Glyph. Your Flame Orb spell is no longer an orb, but takes the shape of a Phoenix that flies out in front of you, shooting fire at any target(s) near it. Explodes into ash at the end of the duration. (Cosmetic).
Basic Rotation with these new changes:
Fireball (20 heat)
Bomb, 0 Heat initially (20 heat total)
Fireball (40 heat)
Fireball (60 heat)
Fireball (80 heat) *Crit* *Heating up*
Inferno Blast (95 heat) *Crit* *Hot Streak*
Free Pyroblast (95 heat)
Casted Pyroblast (75 heat) *Crit* *Heating up*
Bomb explodes (90 heat)
Casted Pyroblast (70 heat) *Crit* *Hot Streak*
Free Pyroblast (70 heat)
Bomb (70 heat)
Casted Pyroblast (50 heat)
Fireball (70 heat)
Fireball (20 heat)
Bomb, 0 Heat initially (20 heat total)
Fireball (60 heat)
Fireball (100 heat) *Crit* *Heating up*
Flame Orb at 100 Power (0 heat)
Inferno Blast (30 heat) *Crit* *Hot Streak*
*Use Fire Gem* (80 heat)
Pyroblast (60 heat)
Bomb explodes (90 heat)
Fireball (100 heat) *Crit*
Theorycrafting 101 for this new Spec:
NEW: Possibly having Heat as a main "fire bar" but also adding a Mana bar to use spells outside of the Fire line of spells (for things like Ice Barrier, Spellsteal, etc).
Now with the basics over, there is still a lot to review and think over. There are still spells in the repertoire I didn't include (i.e. Spellsteal or Ice Barrier). My possible changes for things such as these (that I will allow you guys to assume a blanket example here for the rest of the spells not included):
Spellsteal - Costs 0 Heat, now a 10 second CD.
Ice Barrier - Costs 0 Heat, 25 second CD.
However, with spells like Invocation and the such, things that have to do with our mana specifically (as mana gem has been addressed), I would just leave the mana part out like such:
Invocation - A full cast of Evocation now increases spell damage by 15% for 60 seconds.
This also assumes 90 talents will not change next expansion (kill ourselves).
Now at the nature of the spec. It will be based on maintaining high amounts of heat, and your DPS will be better the higher average you can keep it at (sort of like Arcane's Mana Adept). With Critical Mass giving us a built in possible 30% crit, I would assume the strongest stat would be Haste for us, if not Intellect. Since our Mastery no longer includes the DPS of a major CD, I find it to be weaker than it currently is. My guesstimated Stat priority would be:
Hit/Exp (to 15%) > Haste > Intellect > Crit = Mastery
However, I am not running a sim here, I am guessing. I could be completely wrong, and it also depends on how well the Mastery would be initially implemented. Now, why is Crit lower if we still have Hot Streak? Because I believe for this Spec redesign to work, we would need to nerf the damage of Fireball by 10%-20% and Pyroblast by 20-30%, otherwise Pyroblasts would be too easy to come by and hit way to hard to really be fair. With Pyroblast now the same base cast time as Fireball, it becomes our main Heat user when we cannot get free casts, and it will overall be used more than it is today.
*To be added to when necessary*
Now, the ending notes to this. This spec is complete theory. I have no idea how great it would preform, I have no idea how easy it would be to implement. I just know that many people liked the original idea, and I have brought all of our ideas together to make this. It is the end of an expansion (or the beginning of the end), and I would LOVE Fire to change for the future, and I believe this spec design to be the step in the right direction. Will Blizzard ever see this? Probably not. However, we can at least try. If you do like this spec, or have a question, feel free to comment or ask. The more people that see this, the higher chance that Blizzard will see this if it gets a lot of Mage support (which is good if you like the idea, right?). Get other Mages to read it, link it to your friends, spread it around!
If you hate the spec and think I am a dumby, please comment as well. Offer your critique, offer your suggestions, offer what you think about it in any way, shape, or form. I did this all in one night, I might have missed a key point, or wrote something that sounds weird or stupid that I could reword better. So point any mistakes out too.
Thank you for reading this, if you want to get in touch with me in game, my battletag is Rhaegas#1141.