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This is not my main, and believe it or not my guild hasn't had a raiding mage in its core since cataclysm. My question is what exactly limits my dps at the moment. I'm guessing its lack of high end gear and not having teir set bonuses. I also have a question about haste caps vs crit. Is it always beneficial to have as much crit as possible, or should I focus on a certain level of base haste to maintain as well? I'm a little over 35% crit self buffed ATM (no flask/food). I'm trying to master fire as I start to fully gear this toon. I know frost like the back of my hand, but it doesn't seem to be "elite" for raiding.
Yeah I finally gave up my sentimental attitude toward fire and went back to frost. I had 40% crit raid-buffed and only 1/10 fights did I see an ignite as high as 100k (which is probably the starting point for the godly combustions mages attained pre 5.4). After the patch hit, my dps was worse than our tank (monk). I tried arcane but micromanaging my mana on top of raid mechanics was too much for my old computer. By the time I saw I was at 80% I was already mid-cast of another Arcane Blast to fish for another Missiles! proc.
Anyway, Arcane might be alright at ilvl 515-520, I have no idea because I didn't let myself become comfortable with the spec (I have a secret loathing for it, having been forced to play it for heroic progression in Wrath and Cataclysm).
So to answer you more directly, you're lacking crit. I believe to really benefit from fire, before 5.4, you needed 40% self-buffed (no flask or food, just Arcane Brilliance and Molten Armor). Now I don't know what the crit %, hopefully more geared mages can share this with us-- I think they're carrying around 50-60% crit raid buffed.
And frost is just fine for raiding. I keep up with our legendary cloak wearing ilvl 530 assassination rogue. ;)
I converted to Frost last night and it was working just fine.
Things holding you back: Gear, and the level thereof.
Specifics: 35% is too low to be consistent. 40% is minimum, and still not even amazing. Fire was nerfed 10% in the last patch. It's weak, even in good gear. At 538 with a bit over 47% Crit, my DPS was consistent, but low. I've been fire for an entire expansion and I was keeping up just fine on my first night of raiding Frost. (I gemmed/reforged 10 minutes before raid time, after invites had started)
On Haste: The reason a 520 ilvl is often quoted isn't just the level of Crit, it's that you can have high Crit with the secondaries to back it up. Always, always, always reforge full Crit.
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