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Fire Mage DPS Rotation, Cooldowns, and Abilities (WoW 4.3.4)

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In this article, we list your Fire Mage (WoW 4.3) core abilities and how they should be used together (rotation). We also explain when to use your various cooldowns. Then, we go deeper and present all the subtleties that playing a Fire Mage will face you with. The other articles of our Fire Mage guide can be accessed from the table of contents on the left.

1. Basic Single Target Rotation↑top

In the case of a single target, the rotation of a Fire Mage is a priority checklist:

  1. Cast Pyroblast! Icon Pyroblast! whenever Hot Streak Icon Hot Streak is up.
  2. Cast Flame Orb Icon Flame Orb whenever it is off cooldown.
  3. Apply/refresh Living Bomb Icon Living Bomb (always let it explode before refreshing).
  4. Apply/refresh Critical Mass Icon Critical Mass with Scorch Icon Scorch.
  5. Cast Fireball Icon Fireball.

1.1. Cooldown Usage

Combustion Icon Combustion is your only real DPS cooldown. It creates a new DoT on your current target by combining the power of your existing DoTs on this target. To use it, follow these guidelines:

  • Do not cast Combustion when Living Bomb Icon Living Bomb is not active on the target.
  • Cast Combustion after landinging a big critical strike with Fireball Icon Fireball or Pyroblast! Icon Pyroblast!.

Mirror Image Icon Mirror Image is a very small DPS cooldown, which you should use when the images can attack the boss for their entire duration (30 seconds).

2. Basic Multiple Target Rotation↑top

Do your normal single-target rotation on one enemy and use Fire Blast Icon Fire Blast to spread your DoTs on nearby enemies (thanks to Impact Icon Impact).

3. Armors↑top

Your only viable choice of armor is Molten Armor Icon Molten Armor. Exceptionally, you can use Mage Armor Icon Mage Armor when you are running out of mana.

4. Optional Read: Mastering Your Fire Mage↑top

While the rotations we gave in the previous sections will yield very good results, there are many things you should be aware of, in order to play your Fire Mage to its full potential. In particular, you will need to find the right timing for casting Combustion Icon Combustion, be it in single-target or multiple-target situations.

4.1. Single-target Situations

4.1.1. Abilities in Details

This section presents a list of the abilities you will need in single target fights as a Fire Mage.

Fireball Icon Fireball is your main spell and highest source of single target DPS.

Living Bomb Icon Living Bomb is a spell that does no initial damage but leaves a DoT (Damage over Time) on the target and explodes after 12 seconds, dealing further damage to your target and the enemies around it. It can be cast on a maximum of 3 targets. The DoT ticks 4 times but this can be influenced by your haste rating. Each tick can be a critical hit.

Scorch Icon Scorch is a mana-free spell that can be cast while moving and that does very decent DPS.

Pyroblast! Icon Pyroblast! is your highest damage spell. Due to its high cast time, it should only be cast when Hot Streak Icon Hot Streak is up. Pyroblast leaves a DoT on the target. That DoT ticks in the same manner as the Living Bomb ticks and its frequency can be influenced by haste. The damage from that DoT does not depend on the damage done by the Pyroblast.

Hot Streak Icon Hot Streak is a Proc that gives you a mana-free Pyroblast with an instant cast. It happens every time you get two successive critical strikes with fire spells (excluding Flame Orb and Living Bomb). It also has a chance to happen every time you score a critical hit with a fire spell.

Flame Orb Icon Flame Orb is a spell that casts a fire orb that travels from your location, in the direction that you are facing. If it finds an enemy in its path, it will damage it every second for 15 seconds before exploding and dealing AoE damage.

Ignite Icon Ignite is a DoT that is applied on your target every time you score a critical hit with a fire spell (including ticks from Living Bomb and Flame Orb). It further burns the target for 4 seconds for 40% of the critical hit you landed. It actually ticks twice for 20%, once after 2 seconds and once after 4 seconds.

Critical Mass Icon Critical Mass is a debuff applied on your target by Scorch or Pyroblast. It increases your critical strike chance and that of your raid members on the target by 5% but does not stack with the same debuff from another Fire Mage or Shadow and Flame Icon Shadow and Flame from a Warlock.

Combustion Icon Combustion is an ability that deals damage to your target before applying a new DoT which ticks every second for 10 seconds and that deals damage equivalent to the sum of the DoTs you currently have ticking on that target.

Frostfire Bolt Icon Frostfire Bolt should not be used as a Fire Mage, it is simply not as good as Fireball.

4.1.2. Justifying the Rotation

  • Pyroblast should be cast as soon as Hot Streak is up. If you wait, there is a chance that Hot Streak gets refreshed and you will have missed a free Pyroblast with an instant cast.
  • Flame Orb gives you a high amount of overall damage and has an instant cast.
  • Living Bomb gives you a lesser amount of overall damage but also has an instant cast. It should always be refreshed after it has exploded and worn off because the explosion deals more damage than a tick and it also damages nearby enemies.
  • You want the 5% increased critical strike chance from Critical Mass before casting your Fireball.

4.1.3. Tips

Regarding Critical Mass Icon Critical Mass, you should not normally have to refresh it. It is very likely that you will have a Warlock in your raid that will apply Shadow and Flame Icon Shadow and Flame as part of their normal rotation. If you do not have a Warlock in your group, then you will probably only need to initially debuff the boss with Critical Mass by casting a Scorch. It should then be refreshed automatically, every time you cast a Pyroblast. If you are really unlucky and Critical Mass is about to wear off, then you might have to refresh it manually with Scorch.

You might be tempted to insert a Scorch (which has a lower cast time than Fireball) in your rotation, from time to time, so that you can refresh Living Bomb as soon as it has exploded. Refrain yourself from doing so, it is more efficient to cast Fireball, even if its long cast time induces some downtime on Living Bomb.

4.2. What You Need to Know About Combustion

When cast, Combustion Icon Combustion sums the DoTs present on your target (without removing these DoTs) to create a new DoT. As a Fire Mage, the DoTs you will want to combine are:

Ignite is the main contributor to Combustion's DoT. So you will want to have the Ignite from a Pyroblast! Icon Pyroblast! or a Fireball Icon Fireball critical strike (as well as Living Bomb and Pyroblast's DoT up) before casting Combustion.

4.2.1. Combustion and Ignite Munching

If you really want to get the best out of Combustion, you need to be aware of a phenomenon related to Ignite which can cause your Combustion ticks to be seriously lower than what should be expected. This phenomenon has been coined as Ignite Munching in the community, and represent the fact that the game engine will, under particular circumstances, ignore (or partially render) the 40% additional damage that Ignite should deal to your target following a critical strike with a fire spell. This is obviously a game engine deficiency but we need to understand how to deal with it.

The two most common causes for Ignite Munching are:

  • Sometimes, you can score two critical strikes at the same time. It typically happens when you cast a Fireball immediately followed by a Pyroblast (because Hot Streak was already up); these two spells have exactly the same travel time and the game engine considers you cast them at the same time so the game engine considers they hit at the same time. In that case, the damage of one of your two spells will not be accounted for in the Ignite DoT.
  • When you score a critical strike when Ignite is up, it gets refreshed with a 6 seconds and a value per tick that should correspond to 40% of the damage of the critical strike you just scored plus whatever remained of the 40% of the damage of the spell that had caused Ignite in the first place. In that case, there is another game engine issue. When Ignite is up with 6 to 4 seconds remaining (which can only happen after Ignite was refreshed), any occurring critical strike will not further refresh Ignite and the 40% additional damage will not be dealt.

4.2.2. Tips for Combustion

Prior to patch 4.1, ticks of Living Bomb Icon Living Bomb and Flame Orb Icon Flame Orb could trigger Ignite Icon Ignite. Now, they do not trigger Ignite anymore, which greatly limits the circumstances under which Ignite Munching can happen. It makes it much easier for Fire Mages to cast Combustion Icon Combustion following a high critical hit. Indeed, Ignite Munching will now mostly occur when Flame orb and Living Bomb explode. As these are signaled by visual effects, you should be able to avoid using Combustion immediately after seeing these effects.

Combustion Helper is a great addon to keep track of your DoTs and help you cast Combustion at the ideal moment. Bear in mind that addons cannot access the values for which the DoTs are going to tick so the information Combustion Helper displays is an estimation based on your combat logs (recent critical strikes).

At Icy Veins, we do not use Combustion Helper for the following reasons. Living Bomb should always be up on the target, so there is no reason to have yet another addon that displays it for you. Whenever you cast a Pyroblast, the Pyroblast DoT gets applied on the target. So the only question you should ask yourself is whether your Pyroblast was a critical hit. To do so, simply use a battle text addon, such as Parrot, that allows you to filter the text displayed (filter everything out except for Pyroblast and Fireball over a certain amount of damage, like 40,000). You can also try to watch out for two critical strikes in a row, but you risk losing Combustion damage to Ignite being refreshed by a Living Bomb or Flame Orb explosion in the meantime.

During an encounter, there are often time windows during which you will do more damage: trinket procs, cooldown use, specific boss mechanic. During such time windows, a critical hit with Fireball will usually do more damage than a critical hit with Pyroblast outside of the time window. Therefore, if such a time window is almost over and it looks like you will not be getting the required Pyroblast critical hit that would allow you to use Combustion, then you should look for Fireball critical hits and subsequently cast Combustion. This will normally give a better Combustion DoT than waiting for a Pyroblast critical hit outside of the time window.

4.3. Multiple-target Situations

Fire Mages are excellent with multiple target damage in all its forms, regardless of the number of targets, their health pool or how much they are spread. This section will walk you through the different ways you can use your abilities to optimise your multiple target damage.

4.3.1. Abilities in Details

In addition to the abilities for single target DPS presented above, Fire Mages have the following abilities at their disposal:

  • Fire Blast Icon Fire Blast allows you to spread your DoTs on your current target to nearby enemies, when Impact Icon Impact is up. DoTs are spread with their current remaining time. Spreading Living Bomb causes Living Bomb to affect two nearby enemies (in addition to the current target).
  • Flamestrike Icon Flamestrike is an AoE ability that deals initial damage to every target in a 8 yard radius area and additional damage over 8 seconds. The additional damage does not take the form of a DoT on the targets and as such cannot be spread with Impact or used for Combustion Icon Combustion, but rather it takes the form of an area damage, dealing damage to every target remaining in the initial area where Flamestrike was cast.
  • Blast Wave Icon Blast Wave deals damage to every target in a 8 yard radius area and slow them down by 70% for 3 seconds. Glyph of Blast Wave enables you to increase the slowing effect by 1 second. If you have chosen the Improved Flamestrike Icon Improved Flamestrike talent, casting Blast Wave will also automatically cast Flamestrike (so you cast two spells at the same time).
  • Dragon's Breath Icon Dragon's Breath deals damage to every target in front of you and disoriente them for 5 seconds. Glyph of Dragon's Breath enables you to reduce the cooldown of that ability by 3 seconds.

4.3.2. In Combination with Single Target Damage

The nice thing about the Fire specialisation is that it allows you to benefit from other targets being present when you are interested in damaging only one of them. You should not use any of the suggestions below when only one of the targets present should be attacked (like in the Omnitron Defense System encounter):

  • If there are 2 or more targets and they are far apart, keep Living Bomb Icon Living Bomb up on 3 of them (including your main target) and proceed with your single target rotation on your main target.
  • If there are 2 or more targets and they are next to each other, proceed with your usual single-target rotation on the main target and use Fire Blast Icon Fire Blast, when Impact Icon Impact is up, to spread your DoTs (including Living Bomb and Combustion Icon Combustion) to the other targets.

4.3.3. AoE rotation

The Fire specialisation offers you several ways of dealing with AoE damage, depending on the time the targets will need to die. This is normally a function of their health pool.

  • If you expect the fight to only last a few seconds, start with Blast Wave Icon Blast Wave, continue with Dragon's Breath Icon Dragon's Breath, and finish with Flamestrike Icon Flamestrike.
  • If you expect the fight to last long enough to leave you the time to cast a few Pyroblast! Icon Pyroblast!, cast Pyroblast a few times until you get a critical strike. Then use Blast Wave. That ability will also cast Flamestrike (with Improved Flamestrike Icon Improved Flamestrike) and that gives you quite a chance to proc Impact Icon Impact, which you can use to spread the Ignite Icon Ignite from the Pyroblast critical strike. You can try to cast Blast Wave first but Impact might have run out before you get a critical strike with Pyroblast. Finally, finish the targets with Dragon's Breath or Flamestrike, if necessary.
  • If you expect the fight to last long enough that Living Bomb Icon Living Bomb can go off, set up your regular single target rotation on one of the targets. Use Impact and Blast Wave whenever they are available. You can also cast Flamestrike to refresh the AoE effect when Blast Wave is on cooldown. Use Combustion Icon Combustion only if you are not going to need it for something more important later on.
    • In this case, you can simply cast Pyroblast! Icon Pyroblast! instead of Fireball Icon Fireball in your rotation. It will make it easier to get a good critical strike for Combustion Icon Combustion.

Sometimes, you might be tempted to just spam Flamestrike, as it can be efficient with a lot of targets. Simply be aware of its high mana cost.

It is very hard to give specific advice for AoE damage as Fire. We hope that you will use these general guidelines as a base and that you will try to tweak them in order to adapt them to the various situations and encounters you will face.

4.4. Mana Management

Early in Cataclysm, mana management was an integral part of the Fire Mage play style. Changes in the first few patches have completely removed it.

If you are going to run out of mana and Evocation Icon Evocation is a long way from being available, use a Mana Gem, before eventually switching to Mage Armor Icon Mage Armor, if needed. It allows you to keep your regular rotation with a very low mana consumption and for only a small DPS loss.

In single target mode, using Mage Armor is a lot more efficient (both in terms of mana management and damage done) than trying to use Scorch instead of Fireball in your rotation.

4.5. Tier 13 4-piece Set Bonus

With 4 pieces of the Mage Tier 13 set, each time you cast Fireball Icon Fireball or Pyroblast! Icon Pyroblast!, you have a 50% chance to gain a stack of Stolen Time Icon Stolen Time (up to 10 stacks). Whenever you use Combustion Icon Combustion, these stacks are removed. In addition, each stack of Stolen Time Icon Stolen Time reduces the cooldown of Combustion Icon Combustion by 5 seconds.

Note that stacks of Stolen Time Icon Stolen Time do not reduce the remaining cooldown of Combustion Icon Combustion, so if you cast Combustion with no stacks of Stolen Time, you will have to wait for its full 2-minute cooldown. Therefore, you should always try to cast Combustion with 10 stacks of Stolen Time. This way, you will get a 70-second cooldown on Combustion.

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