Friday, February 3, 2012

Rift Mage: 1.7 Update

Update: Props to T Karlsson who pointed out that I'd had a run-away search and replace turn all my Flame Bolts into Fire Bolts... fixed.

Since I first published my How To Do It All Wrong and Win article about pyrolock mage dps, I've done a fair amount of raiding, dungeons, solo and PvP. I have some new info to share with you, and some updates to that article.

First off, the build has changed slightly, as have the macros. I no longer blend in Archon except as a zero-point tree (my fellow guildie, Calvnan, suggested this, and while I still think there's value in the infinite mana of Archon, the flexibility of a zero-point soul combined with the dps increase of this build makes it a great raiding build). This leaves me mana-starved in many situations, so Sacrifice Life: Mana becomes an important part of my rotation, and I have to cast it about every minute in order to maintain a boss fight. This sacrifices one 1-second global cooldown (thanks to the global cooldown reduction from Pyromancer) while giving me a substantial DPS boost from the Warlock tree (remember that both Warlock and Pyro give extra dps based on how many points you spend, so taking additional dps points in those trees gives extra bang-for-the-buck).

I've also used some of those points to buy off some of the glass-cannon aspect of the build and make it more survivable.

Finally, I've dumped Pyromancer's Armor because in testing it comes out behind Fire Armor and that extra point can be placed into Warlock.

Here's the final soul tree build: Pyrolock (not to be confused with the advanced, end-game pyrolock that only works well with the Hammerknell raid synergy crystal 4-piece bonus, and it's even a bit different from some 1.6 build Pyrolocks because of the increased 1.7 stats on gear, especially the increased Int and spell crit).

The macro I use as my Masher is now:

#show Heat Wave
 cast [ctrl] Countdown
 cast [ctrl] Heat Wave
 cast [ctrl] Sacrifice Life: Damage
 cast [ctrl] Fireball
 cast Flame Bolt
 cast Countdown
 cast Fireball

My rotation has gotten a little bit more complex, but it's still focused on sacrificing small amounts of dps for situational awareness, especially during raids. For example, I don't cast Flame Bolt manually when it drops, but instead macro it. That means that I end up casting it repeatedly when Wildfire procs. This is generally a dps lose, but not a huge one, and macroing this spell into my masher gives me lots of time to look at what's going on around me.

Here's how it works in order for most long fights:
  1. Cast Searing Vitality to give myself the endurance buff.
  2. Press Masher button until I have to move or I'm at the sweet spot for Heat Wave (see below)
  3. When I reach the sweet spot:
    1. Hit Internalized Charge
    2. Hold down control and press Masher button until Heat Wave drops or you have to move
  4. When I'm at the sweet spot, but Heat Wave is not up or I have to move and am above 50% charge:
    1. Pop Interalize Charge
    2. Inferno if it's up (don't macro this)
    3. Searing Vitality
  5. If I have to move and am at low charge:
    1. Cast Searing Vitality
    2. Spam Masher until I don't have to move anymore or Searing Vitality needs to be refreshed.
  6. Advanced: if I have the attention to pay to it, and I notice that Combust drops off the mob, and I'm at or above half charge, and Flame Bolt is on cooldown, and Heat Wave is on cooldown, I pop Withering Flames to give me guaranteed stacks of Combust, but once I have 3 stacks or Flame Bolt is up, I go back to my normal rotation, even if Withering Flames isn't done. Never use WF when Internalize Charge is running!
  7. Continue to press masher until I'm back in the sweet spot or have to move, then repeat from #2
  8. If everything goes to hell and you have to pay more attention to what's going on than your spells, just press the Masher until you regain your footing. Don't worry about long cooldowns or Searing Vitality or Internalize Charge. Remember, survival first, then dps.
The important concept is the sweet spot. This is when you are at full charge and have just cast Flame Bolt (and thus have a full duration on your Improved Flame Bolt self-buff). When this happens, you need to pop Internalize Charge to begin your high-dps segment, either by casting dots and then going back to your Flame Bolt/Fireball rotation or by popping Heat Wave and Sacrifice Life: Damage when they're up. One caveat: if Heat Wave is not up and Inferno is (30% heatlh on target and Inferno not on cooldown) use Internalize Charge at 50% charge or higher. Inferno is worth a shorter Internalize Charge rotation.

Never pop Heat Wave if there's a good chance that you'll have to move soon, unless the whole fight is full of movement, in which case you might have to just pop it and get what you can.

That sounds like a lot, but the core of it is simple: Press Masher until full charge, pop Internalize Charge, refresh dots and repeat. Use Heat Wave/Sacrifice Life: Damage when it's up, and only spam fireball during Heat Wave. Boom: you're a pyrolock!

In terms of the other builds, my standard support build for groups and solo is Chloro/Pyro. It's neither a dps powerhouse, nor a healing superstar, but in PvP and groups you'll provide tremendous utility and decent damage. Solo, you never have downtime, since your mana stays full and your health comes from damage. For single-target, I suggest:

  1. Radiant Spores
  2. Ruin
  3. Flame Bolt
  4. Spam Fireball until one of those drops.
  5. Watch health bars and throw Flourish or Bloom as required.
On AoE fights, replace Fireball with Fire Storm, but don't be afraid to waste the AoE uptime on the initial single-target spells. These are your healing bread-and-butter, while the fire AoE is going to throw tiny amounts of healing. This works best with a trinket like the Sacred Heirloom of Eth (SHoE). You also have a combat-rez which is probably the single most important utility ability for pugs. If the tank goes down, you're probably lost, but if the healer goes down a well-timed battle rez and a few spot heals can get the group through a fight that otherwise would have been a wipe.

For AoE dps, I'm playing with the Stormcaller/Elementalist build that Bluedots suggests. It's certainly a lot of damage, but until I master it, it'll be strictly for PvP and soloing.

The biggest news for Mages in 1.7 is probably the fact that gear has gotten easier to manage. Crafted purples are worth getting; Raid 1 gear is worth getting; expert dungeon gear is worth getting. It's all good. Sure, if you're in full HK gear, you don't care, but until that point, there are a lot of sources of nice upgrades. If you still have a blue or two look around. There's a really nice site called Rift Upgrades that will walk you through the available upgrades for any and all pieces of gear that you have.
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