Ignite shares a very unfortunate property with blink: it doesn’t work properly, and, in fact, never has.
“Whats wrong with Blink?” you ask? I take it, then, you’ve never tried using blink while standing on very odd terrain? Things like doodads, ramps, and slight breezes tend to mess with blink something fierce. It was even the source of a hysterical complaint from a hunter claiming that blink needs to actually move the mage forwards 20 yards, as a mage blinking backwards cost him a duel.
So ignite then, has also been broken from day 1, and has never been fixed.
Before we go any further, allow me to explain that the issue is not with either of these in themselves, but rather the constraints the game places on them. Blink, as a spell, is fine, but the terrain blink is trying to use is not. Hence, when trying to calculate really complicated pieces of terrain (uh oh, there’s a blade of grass ahead!) it does wonky things, such as nothing.
Ignite? I’ll get to that.
So in the old days, there was something called “rolling ignites”. Essentially, all the ignite damage out there was only allotted ONE debuff slot. But, all this ignite damage had to tick somewhere, so only one mage would ever see a tick for ignite for everyone else’s crits.
Yes, this means in a stacked raid (and yes, mages were stacked way back when) a mage could easily see ignite ticking for well over 20k damage. Why yes, this does mean plenty of mages met very sudden and painful ends.
Picture it like this. There are 4 warlocks. All the warlocks cast Curse of Agony. However, all of the damage from all four CoA’s only tick for whichever mage casted CoA first.
So three of the warlocks would not see any damage from CoA, whereas the first would see far too much, freak out, beg the other warlocks to stop casting CoA as the numbers on his screen just keep getting bigger and bigger (CoA stacks for some reason), the other warlocks just cackled at him, and then he died horribly when the boss came over yelling “DIE” and the tank following yelling “wtf L2 not aggro”.
(See the Appendix for detailed and relatively non silly description of how ignite used to work)
This was basically what raiding was like as a mage before BC was released.
Patch 1.10 (I believe it was this patch, someone correct me if I’m wrong here) changed the way Ignite worked.
This new fangled ignite did… exactly what it was supposed to from the start.
You crit for X amount of damage.
2 seconds later, 20% of X goes ‘tick!’. 2 seconds after that, a further 20% of X goes ‘tick!’.
And if you crit somewhere else in there, Blizzard had the foresight to create what is referred to by normal people as the “ignite bank”.
When you critically strike, 40% of that spell is “banked”, to be withdrawn every two seconds. Any further critical strikes merely add to the banked amount, and any future ignite ticks withdraw from that new amount. All fire spells contribute to the ignite bank.
BEWARE. MATH FOLLOWS. ALTHOUGH IT IS FAIRLY SIMPLE. I MEAN, MY SISTER UNDERSTANDS IT, AND SHE STILL BLUSHES WHEN I USE THE WORD “SPOON” IN A SUGGESTIVE MANNER.
Describing ignites, then, with numbers!
Fireball crits for 3000 damage. This means that there is now 1200 damage in the ignite bank.
2 seconds later, 600 damage ticks, with 600 left in the bank.
2 seconds after that, 600 damage takes. The ignite bank account is now empty.
Simple, right? Cast two fireballs in a row and LO AND BEHOLD they both crit!
Fireball crits for 3000 damage. 1200 ignite damage in the bank.
2 seconds later, 600 damage ticks, with 600 left in the bank.
Then, !BAM! fireball crits for 3000 damage! There is now 1800 damage in the bank.
2 seconds later, ignite ticks for 900 damage. 900 damage left in the bank.
2 seconds after that, ignite ticks for the last 900 damage.
Every time you crit with a fire spell, it resets the ignite timer. Any damage left from the previous crit is simply merged into whatever damage comes from the newest crit, and ticks accordingly.
Enter Wrath of the Litch Queen and all if it’s new and fuzzy talents (or not, in the case of DK’s Bladed Armor – no hugs for you!).
Here we fire mages have a talent called “Hot Streak: which, in it’s current rendition, allows your next Pyroblast to be instant cast after you crit twice in a row.
Neat? Damn straight it’s neat. Mixes it up a little, throw in a wee bit of “OH GOD RANDOM” to make things more spicy.
But of course, there’s a little problem that Manly from elitist jerks has coined “Ignite Munching”.
Basically, when Fireball and Pyroblast land, and crit at the same time, the ignite damage from fireball simply disappears. Or, “munched”.
(Time in seconds) – (stuff that happens)
00:00 – Fireball crits for 3000 damage. 1200 damage in the ignite bank. Start casting another fireball. Hot Streak!
02:00 – Ignite ticks for 600 damage.
03:00 – Fireball launched, Pyro launched as soon as it completes it’s casting. Both crit, Fireball for 3000 (1200 ignite damage), Pyro for 3800 (1520 ignite damage). There is now (supposed to be) 3320 damage in the ignite bank.
05:00 – Ignite ticks for 1060 damage (supposed to be 1660)
07:00 – Ignite ticks for 1060 damage. Ignite bank is now empty. 1200 damage has somehow totally disappeared.
08:00 – Mage says “wait, what?”
45:00 – Having perused the combat log, mage says “… what?”
Have you ever, in PvP, managed to bounce two spells off of a warrior’s spell reflect? You know how that’s only supposed to bounce one spell?
It’s the same thing. If, say, you accidentally bounce a shatter combo off a warrior, critting yourself for a bajillion, it’s because server side speaking, the frostbolt and ice lance were so close together that they count as one spell.
This is because how these spells are treated is calculated when the spell is cast.
When you use something like Quartz, you can cast ice lance within a few dozen miliseconds of when frostbolt completes it’s cast.
Without Quartz, server side, there will be some lag between when frostbolt cast and when ice lance casts. It would look like “Frostbolt casts, then ice lance casts”.
Using quartz, the delay between the two is nearly nonexistent, and is nonexistent as far as server side calculations go. It looks like “Frostblance casts.”
This exact same effect is what causes the ignite damage from fireball to get munched. To the server, it looks like “Firoblast crits”. The ignite damage from fireball disappears, and the game refuses to acknowledge it ever existed. Meanwhile Pyroblast giggles happily away, just glad that somebody is finally paying attention to it.
On live, this limitation is unnoticeable, as… come on, be serious now, how often does fire use two spells like this so close to each other?
However, once this Hot Streak change goes live, it will become painfully obvious to any mage who bothers to pay attention… and then starts to wonder why ignite damage is disappearing without a trace.
So now you know. If you ever see (or don’t see, as it were) ignite damage do something like this, now you know!
Blizzard has a few options on how to fix this. They can either change spells to calculate when they land rather than cast, or have every single ignite get it’s own debuff slot (should be feasable now with debuffs effectively cut in half), or completely change the way ignite works.
How rolling ignites worked in the old days.
There is only one debuff slot for ignite, thus any and all fire crits would count for this single debuff. Ignite stacks to 5.
Whichever mage critically strikes first has this ignite debuff attributed to him, with any other crits merely contributing to, and refreshing, the debuff.
Say there’s two mages. I’ll call them mage A and B. Hey, if you wanted creativity, I know of this program called “Drawing for Children” that should keep you amused for a good twenty minutes.
Mage A’s fireball crits for 3000. A second later, mage B’s fireball crits for 3000.
Mage B will not see any ignite damage, whereas mage A (because the ignite debuff is attributed to him) will see ignite tick for both his fireball, and mage B’s fireball. In this case, 1200 damage per tick.
So what happens if 5 mages all crit like this? And in order, just so it’s simpler?
Five fireballs all critically strike for 3000 damage. This means there is now 6000 ignite damage there, and ALL of it will be ticking for Mage A. This mage will see ignite tick for 3000 damage.
Now here’s the cool part, and where the term “rolling” came from.
When ignite is fully stacked (that is, all five), any further fire spell criticals do not add to the damage of ignite any more. Ignite is capped, you see, with whatever damage it currently has.
These further spell criticals, however, refresh the current stack of ignite at whatever damage output it currently has. In other words, the ignite damage “bank” will not run out.
So, if all 5 mages crit, and mage C, D, and E do nothing but spam Scorch, they can refresh ignite indefinitely.
Meaning, mage A will see ignite ticking for 3k damage every 2 seconds for… well, as long as the boss encounter lasts.
This is why they are referred to as “rolling ignites” – a dedicated team of scorch spammers (or all the mages spamming scorch) could keep a heavy stack of fireballs ticking indefinitely.
Stack the scorch debuff to max, and then as many mages that have Combustion pop them, and any trinkets/pots/whatever that can be used are, resulting in 5 fireball crits as high as the mages can get them. And then they keep that massive ignite stack rolling.
Planned rolling ignites were single handedly responsible for the utter domination mages had on the meters in old school raiding.
Unplanned rolling ignites was the single greatest source of SMD (sudden mage death) in old school raiding.
Imagine your shock. Here you are, raiding Naxx, chain casting fireball on Patchwerk.
Oh look, there’s a crit. Ignite ticks for 576 damage… ignite ticks for 8277 damage – WAIT, WHAT THE – *squish*.