How times have changed! The pre-bc talent tree revamp, with the changes to ice barrier and the introduction of the water elemental, amongst others, made that frost tree very attractive. I was still raiding against a whole lot of fire-resisting mobs in those days, so the decision was easy. Deep frost all the way.
... Then I had an extended break from the game, only to return and discover that fire now sucks for pvp, and frost isn't the most popular raiding spec. In fact it's not even close. I hardly see another frost mage these days.
Of course I toyed with the idea of going back to fire, all kinds of dps calculators indicate that it is the highest damage output raiding spec. Unless, of course, you happen to be toting a frozen shadoweave set, as I was shortly after hitting 70.
I figured that I'd hang in there until I replaced those +frost damage items and then I would have a crack at a fire spec, and maybe an arcane spec, and see what happens.
Well that day came and went, and with much trepidation, I visited the mage trainer. I actually downgraded my shadoweave boots to the veterans PvP ones, which wasn't a massive nerf and I figuered would be worth it for the extra super uber fire dps I was going to be doing. Since I lost my ghost hit, I had to use the scryer bloodgem for extra +spell hit. Another nerf that would be worth it right?
I have also picked up both the Tymbals focusing crystal from H MgT (I know I said I wasn't going back but a guildie asked nicely, and what could I say?)... and then as I hit exalted with scryers and SSO on the same day and bought the Shattered Sun pendant of accumen.
I chose fire with icy veins (2/48/11), stolen from the most powerful mages in my guild, then headed out to area 52 and started pounding away on that mob with the bombs who you can test your dps on. I was looking forward to my trinket and neck proccing all over town and adding huge amounts to my DPS. As the trinket only procs of periodic damage it's useless to a frost mage, and scoring this little guy had a lot to do with my decision to respec. So - testing time!
SO NOT IMPRESSED.
Like totally, not happy. Fireballs take AGES to cast. Like FOREVER. Even with icy veins it's slow, and then they go and crit for less than my frostbolts used to. What the hell? I kept clearcasting, but still managed to use a mana stone and go out of mana in no time at all. That trinket does one tenth of next to nothing in terms of DPS from the proc, and the neck is equally worthless.
Damage from arcane bolt and shadow bolt (procs from the trinket and neck) accounted for not more than 2% of my overall DPS by the time I ran out of mana (which wasn't particularly long)
Previous tests as frost had me spamming away for what seemed like 10 minutes, using my elemental and cold snap to full effect, popping crit after crit after crit and generally carving it up.
Not so as a fire mage.
Something was definitely wrong here.
So I went back to the drawing board, and realised I had forgotten about scorch altogether. Oh right. Fire mages have to do that dont they.
Ok lets try that again. DPS was better. Crits were bigger. Ignite does a lot of damage, but I still wasn't happy, it still felt weak, and I still went OOM in no time at all.
Since that trinket isn't worth respeccing fire for, I'm going to do some more testing, try it out in some raids, then respec back to frost and demonstrate the superior nature of the frost spec :) I'll post my damage meter breakdowns for all to see later this week.
According to magegraf and the theory-craft-omatic, the fire spec gives me a smidgen more damage, something like 3% or 50 dps depending which calculator you ask. They all agree that that extra damage is going to cost me a huge amount of mana. Have a look at the graphs above. Surely no shield, no elemental and no mana isn't worth such a minor damage increase? If I run out of mana I'm not doing much damage at all am I?
So go on, convince me fire doesn't suck!
Aside from that did I mention I now get totally pounded in PvP? No ice barrier is just horrible. Even in raids I am completely reliant on the healers to keep me up, i'm used to having my shield available at any time to keep me alive, but no such joy with this spec.
One thing I like about this spec.... I do rather enjoy setting people on fire.
Oh and the arena winner, my water elemental, is now retired.