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Pimp My Profile: Lissaris, arcane mage

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I've traditionally used a modified frostfire build, which has always worked well for me. I recently dual spec'd and tried an arcane build, but I wasn't able to put out as much DPS. Any suggestions on how I can improve to deliver maximum DPS?
- Lissaris
I wasn't quite sure how to classify you in the title of the post, seeing as you've only recently respecced into arcane. The good news is that most of the tweaks I'll be suggesting today will work for both specs. Lets hear it for stat homogenization!
Gems

First things first: never gem for intellect. Though it is a tempting stat, especially for an arcane mage, you should be getting plenty of it through gear, especially if you're using the Talisman of Resurgence. For the most part, no matter what kind of mage you happen to be, gemming is relatively simple: Gem for spellpower first, haste second. Get your crit, intellect, and spirit through gear. I see that you've got a Chaotic Skyflare Diamond as your meta, and that's absolutely the best meta you can be using, by a large margin. To meet the 2-blue-gem requirement for that meta, shove a pair of Purified Dreadstones (because those are the best blue option) into any two blue slots you've got and then gem spellpower into everything else.

You can largely ignore the color of the rest of your sockets. Though in some cases you'll be giving up a small amount of spellpower due to the loss of the socket bonus, the amount you'll be picking up by cramming those sockets full of 23 spellpower gems more than makes up for it. The only other gem option that could work is a Reckless Ametrine in a yellow slot, and the only reason I'd use one of those over a straight spellpower gem is if doing so would net a decently sized spellpower slot bonus. The haste on the Reckless is worthwhile, and though the straight spellpower gem still trumps is for most mages, if you throw a solid spellpower slot bonus into the equation, a Reckless may be the way to go.

Other gem issues I see include a hit rating gem on your boots and a spell penetration gem on your cloak. Only gem for hit rating if you're below the cap and have no other way to get the necessary points. Your hit rating is at 413, which is way, way above the cap. With the talents you've taken, your hit cap in arcane spec is 289 (and that's without raid buffs...if you happen to have a Draenei and a shadow priest in your party, the cap drops to a measly 184), and in your frostfire spec it's 368 without any further aid, and 263 with full raid buffs. Any hit rating you've invested in beyond your spec's cap is wasted. So, get rid of that hit rating gem. Throw some spellpower in there, and you've just traded 20 points of crap for 23 points of awesome.

Same goes for the spell penetration gem. Spell pen is a PvP only stat, and even if you're PvPing a lot, replacing it with 23 spellpower is going to be a better use of the slot. Here, again, you're making a simple switch that swaps a stat that gives you zero extra DPS for one that gives you a lot of extra DPS.

TL;DR version:
  • Replace your non-spellpower gems with spellpower gems
  • Put two Purified Dreadstones in to meet your meta requirements (ideally in blue slots)
  • Consider Reckless Ametrines in yellow slots if the spellpower bonus is worthwhile (for example, in the yellow slots in your tier 9 pants. In fact, as a rule, I find that a spellpower bonus is always worthwhile in my pants. Heh. Ok, I'm going to shut up now.)
Enchants

Your enchants look pretty spot-on for the most part. The only problem I notice is that it doesn't appear that you've enchanted those sweet crafted bracers yet. Throw some Superior Spellpower on there!

Talents and Glyphs

Again, I don't see any real issues with your talent choices. Both your frostfire and arcane specs are fairly optimal. One change I would suggest is to pick up Incanter's Absorption in your arcane build.

You can take points out of Student of the Mind (your spirit is high enough already), Slow (you don't need it for PvE), and one out of Arcane Mind (again, you're already getting enough intellect from your gear) to get the three you need for Incanter's Absorption. Incanter's is a phenominal DPS boost, if used wisely. It is most effectively used in conjunction with a priest teammate who can put Power Word: Shield on you regularly. It works thusly:
  • Step one: You get shielded (either by your own means -- Frost/Fire Ward or gulp Mana Shield -- or ideally by a priest)
  • Step two: You take damage (normal boss splash damage, or you might even consider triggering the damage yourself, by doing something like running through some fire or a pool of nastiness on the ground that you would otherwise avoid)
  • Step three: Your spellpower skyrockets (temporarily, of course)
Edit: This was written prior to patch 3.3.3, after which Incanter's becomes far less valuable. It's still ok, but choosing to skip it is now a viable option. The major difference is that it now only functions with your own shields, meaning you can no longer get a spellpower benefit from damage absrobed by Power Word: Shield If you do decide to snag Incanter's Absorption, make a small switch in your frost talenting as well. Take the points you have in Ice Shards (a useless arcane talent) and throw them into Frost Warding. It isn't a huge difference, but since you'll be throwing up Frost Ward whenever you're taking frost damage for the spellpower boost anyway, you might as well get some mana return while you're at it.

Your glyphs look good for your arcane spec, but your frostfire glyphs are more PvP-oriented. They're fine if PvP is what you're using that spec for, but if you wish to maximize DPS with it, you need to get rid of your Evocation and Scorch glyphs and replace them with glyphs of Living Bomb and Molten Armor.

Gearing

You've got a couple of PvP pieces on now, and while those can be useful as initial pieces to fill gaps in your early level 80 gear, their time for you has come and gone. At the point you're at in your gearing, anything with resilience on it is a sub-optimal piece of PvE gear. Your boots and belt both need to go.

The first and easiest places for you to start your quest for raid-worthy gear is in the Icecrown 5-man heroics. You'll find massive upgrades for your waist and feet in heroic Pit of Saron and heroic Halls of Reflection. If those instances cause you grief, you can always start a bit smaller by heading to the normal Icecrown 5-mans (Pit of Saron has a nice pair of boots) or to heroic Trial of the Champion (shake the Black Knight down on a daily basis until these drop).

One issue that needs addressing right away is your trinket situation. You have the Talisman of Resurgence in the first slot, and that's a fantastic trinket for your arcane spec. It isn't optimal for frostfire, but isn't terrible either. It's your other trinket I have a problem with.

Your Mark of Supremacy is not a caster trinket. While it is true that it grants you hit rating, we've already discussed that you're well, well over the cap. And the on-use ability of the trinket increases your attack power, which is an entirely worthless thing for it to do. So in essence, you're wasting an entire trinket slot. Ditch that thing and look for something better. The easiest thing I can come up with is to chain-run normal Trial of the Champion until you snag an Abyssal Rune. That's something you can do right now. You can't get locked out of normal ToC, so go, queue for it in the random finder, or kidnap some guildies and run it until you get a decent mage trinket to put in that second slot.

Once you've gotten a more PvE-centered gear set, you can look to start gearing up through raiding, and move on from there.

Here's hoping that these suggestions help you improve your DPS, Lissaris. Let us know how things go!


Every week Arcane Brilliance teleports you inside the wonderful world of mages and then hurls a Fireball in your face. Check out our recent look at how much I hate damage meters, or our lengthy series of mage leveling guides. Until next week, keep the Mage-train a-rollin'.

Filed under: Mage

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