Monday, 22 August 2011

A tale of 3 specs

Come, gather around my friends, and let me regale you with a tale. Once there was a spec, named frost. Ah, I hear you say, frost, well, that’s the mages PVP spec, and it has been since the days of Molten Core. Ah, you poor souls, how sad. Poor frost, he was always bullied by the other raiding specs, and when he went into arenas, everyone complained that he was OP, and that he should be nerfed. And nerfed he was, and buffed, and nerfed, and buffed. Frost mage dps is like the tide, it climbs up the meter, reaches the top, and falls back down. We can blame this on the fact that Blizzard remains resolute in its opinion that spells should work the same in PVE and PVP, to avoid confusing the poor little newbs. An admirable aim, of course, but it is getting to be impractical. As the games evolves, and balance between classes and specs becomes ever more finely controlled, it is a concept that is beginning to hold back design. But we are not here today to criticise Blizzard. No no, I have a slightly bigger target in mind.

 I am here today to ask a question or two. Hands up if you raid frost. Ah, now hands down if that raiding spec is only used on the odd fight where you have to control or kite adds (Nefarian 10man anyone?). Ok, now the few of you who still have hands up, how many of you are in the top 100 or so mages in the world? Top 1000? Oh, well, that’s no-one then. So how do we know that frost mage raid DPS is so crappy? Oh well, I hear you say, we go to world of logs, or state of DPS, and a pretty graph tells us that frost mages are crappy, and arcane mages are awesome! Hmmm, see, this is where the problems begin, because if no-one raids in frost spec at the top end, except for perhaps in a fight where they are on add control, we don’t actually have any data about frost mage raid boss dps... Ooops. Hmmm, now, let’s have a quick peek at our talent trees. Some of you may be aware that there is a talent in the first tier of the frost tree called Shatter. Now, what this talent does is it multiplies our critical strike against frozen targets by 3. So, what happens, do you think, if our critical strike chance is over 33.3%? Well, that means that frostfire bolt ALWAYS crits when you have FoF up. And if you’re specced into Ignite in the fire tree, since it’s a fire spell, that means that frostfire bolt is guaranteed another 40% damage increase from ignite, because it always crits. So that means that frostfire bolt with fingers of frost will always do 280% damage! That’s a lot of damage for one spell. And our tier 12 4 set doubles the proc chance of brain freeze. Hmmmm, that’s a LOT of 280% frostfire bolts my friends, and since they are on fingers of frost, they also benefit from our mastery bonus... many damages methinks. So, let’s take a mosey over to the simulators.

 Taking Rawr straight out of the box, simple stand and shoot fight, I set a basic template character, raid buffed. Reforging crit to the cap, and then haste, hit capped, and full 378 gear (full T12 set) we get 25.6K dps. That’s positively respectable. Now we change to fire spec. With the same set of gear, we plummet to only 23.2K dps. That’s right, my dears, frost is actually ahead of fire by a fairly significant margin (just under 10%). Finally we swap over to arcane, reforging for hit cap, then mastery, then crit, for the same set of gear and fight conditions. This done, we get 26.9K dps, a difference to arcane of only 5%. Shock, Horror, Apocalypse. That, my friends, is negligible. NEGLIGIBLE. I would even be willing to put forward, that on a movement or AOE fight, you would want to pick frost over arcane. Good god, I actually just said that. Keep in mind that this was done with a full tier set bonus, which we all know is appalling for arcane, but actually seems to be godlike for frost. So yeah. Go set a frost spec, and try it out on a dummy, my results may not match up to your own skill or gear situation, and the benefits drop off significantly as you get further from the 33.3% soft crit cap. Scary thought. Just to recap then, Arcane is sitting at 27K, frost at 25.6K, and fire at 23.2K in full tier 12. This is probably down to the relative strengths of the tier 12 bonus for frost and arcane. And keep in mind that this is based on a fight with no movement, and single target dps, and there aren’t many of those fights in this tier (Baleroc springs to mind, especially if you aren’t soaking a shard, I’ve hit some scary numbers there). Feel free to comment, particularly if you run some of your own experiments, I’d love to garner more information on this topic, and will sure be doing my own further tests over the next few weeks, I’ll get back to you on that.

Tommorow, I'll be going off topic a bit, and having a chat about the Valour/Justice System. Stay tuned :)

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