When is Fire spec better than Frost?
Here's how fire plays at different levels of buffed crit ratings:
25% - Crits are extremely rare. Most of the time all you'll be doing is casting fireball while keeping up your mage bomb. This is incredibly low dps... vastly lower than frost. It's also incredibly boring as it's virtually a one-button rotation. Fire really isn't playable at this level of crit.
35% - Crits are still somewhat rare and are not dependable. Pyroblast procs are rare. Long strings with no crits are common so sometimes you'll be casting lots of fireballs while praying for crits. DPS is extremely spikey and unreliable. Strings of non-crits happen at the most inopportune times... such as when you have trinket procs and combustion just came off cooldown. At this level of crit, a mage would almost certainly do much better with frost spec. Fire spec is rather boring and frustrating and not very fun. It's borderline... you won't be totally worthless in a raid, but every time you get a bunch of non-crits you'll be thinking about how much better your dps would be as frost.
40% - crits are fairly common with crits every 2-3 casts, so you get lots of pyroblasts. DPS curve flattens out and is much more dependable. Generally doesn't take that long to get a good crit and pyroblast for Combustion, though you'll need to use Presence of Mind for strongest combustions. Strings of 7 or 8 non-crits in a row still happen, but are quite rare. Fire is very playable at this level of gear and can give raid results somewhat comparable to frost.
45% - Every other cast is a crit. Strings of multiple crits in a row are common. Can very reliably do fireball --> scorch --> pyroblast almost on rotation. Strings of multiple crits leading to 2-3 pyroblasts cast with nothing in between are common. Setting up for Combustion is fairly easy and can reliably involve casting multiple instant pyroblasts in a row without using Presence of Mind. Fire is fairly engaging and effective at this level of crit and can give results comparable to frost.
When you master one spec enough that you get better results than when playing the other.
You could be a master of magecraft and play absolutely perfectly with no errors ... but if you don't have the crit, you won't be able to play fire effectively.
A super-skilled fire mage with crappy crit chance can't "skill" those fireballs into critting. Either they crit or they don't. It's not a matter of skill. It's a matter of gear.
Fire is incredibly gear dependent. No matter how skilled you are it won't become viable until you get a minimum level of crit.
Or aprox what item level?
Don't look at your ilevel, you want to look at your crit. You want at least 35% before you respec fire. Less than that, go frost. I'm sitting at 35% crit, but I only do LFR. If you're in a real raid, you should easily be able to get to 40%.
Top tier mages have been playing fire since MSV where noone had 40%+ crit levels.
While this is true, its also irrelevant. Back when msv/toes/hof were current content they had CM set to 1.5 instead of 1.3, in case you dont know what that means it meant our crit was multiplied by that amount on enemies. so for example sitting at 40% crit now would be akin to sitting around 34% crit then.
That being said, the number is typically used to showcase when fire starts competing/surpassing frost assuming equal skill.
That also being said, a mage can go fire if they so choose at lower gear levels, if they are that low then they are probably going through normals or lfr which if they just learn the spec well enough then there dps will be more than fine. Where its more of a skill issue than a spec issue.
Where is everyone getting these crit requirements? Fire is nice with higher crit levels but it is far from unplayable at lower levels. The primary difference is how often you use infernal blast to upgrade heating ups. Even at a 25% self buffed crit rate almost 1 in 3 fireballs will crit. That is far from a 1 button rotation. Top tier mages have been playing fire since MSV where noone had 40%+ crit levels.
We've gotten them from playing the class. I've been fire straight through, but I won't pretend that Frost wouldn't have been much better for me for lot of that time. Around 38-40% Crit is when the spec really started feeling good. At 43% now and it's much better.
On mages playing Fire before during MSV...
Old CM, pre 5.2, 30% * 1.5 = 45%
New CM, after 5.2, 35% * 1.3 = 45.5%
We also had a reduction to our Pyro damage and a nerf to Combustion. With those factored in, the Crit required to get our DPS back in line is very high.
Is self buffed including molten armour? According to askmrrobot I can get 30% crit. I'd like to switch soon since the frost rotation is getting rather dull.
It also subtracts 3 from what you would see in game as it takes into affect the boss crit reduction. When we say you want 35-40% we mean like in game. So you would want 32-37% i believe on askmrrobot.
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