I’ve had several pleas from the various far flung corners of the internet for help, regarding fire PvP. So without further ado, I will try my best to answer those questions.
First, gearing questions.
- Ignore haste, crit and spellpower all the way
Haste is the best friend of frost and arcane PvP specs. Not so for fire! As a fire mage, the only spells with a cast time you will ever be casting are Polymorph and Scorch. Literally every other spell you ever use will be instant cast; you simply do not need to use haste for anything.
Instead, gear for crit. Your base PvP set has all crit, aim to get crit on every single piece you use. Buy the crit necklace, the crit cape, the crit rings, and so forth. If you end up with some haste from, say, your raiding weapons, that’s fine, just make sure your actual PvP gear is haste free.
Gem for spellpower and spell penetration. It might be tempting to gem for, say, crit, but don’t give in! Primarily you’ll want to gem Mysterious Dreadstones, and you’ll want to end up with around 120 spell penetration. This should nullify most of the resistances you meet in general PvP. Naturally, once you have enough spell penetration, fill everything else up with raw spellpower.
Generally, ignore socket bonuses. Go for bonuses like +9 spellpower, ignore everything else. (+7 is good too, +5 is pushing it.) Anything else, just ignore it. If you absolutely must socket something yellow, the spellpower/crit hybrid is your friend.
Chaotic Skyflare Diamond is the only metagem for you.
- 4 piece PvP, raid gear
Fire PvP depends heavily on the damage it puts out, which means you need really high spellpower. Get four pieces of your PvP gear as soon as possible for the hefty spellpower boosts, and do not be afraid to use your best raid gear, especially weapons.
If you are just putting a PvP set together, you are far better off using, say, your 232 T9 gear than the crafted blue items. Wait and get the best PvP gear you can, rather than downgrading for shoddy PvP gear. Yes, you will be squishy and die a lot, but which would you rather be? Be squishy and die a lot without doing anything, or be squishy and die a lot and take six people down with you?
I cannot stress enough, however, the importance of the 4 piece PvP bonus. The extra spellpower is a big deal, and you need to make that your priority when collecting PvP gear.
The next arena season starts shortly, do not buy anything now with honor! Do not buy the deadly stuff, do not buy the furious off pieces. In a few weeks you’ll be able to buy furious main set pieces with honor and relentless off pieces.
If you are honor capped, just buy gems. If you can’t BG a lot for one reason or another, buy pieces of your deadly glad main set, then grab relentless glad off pieces when they become available for honor. This will gear you up faster, given your limited time.
Two exceptions, though. The crit pants from WG, go ahead and buy those, if you have a lot of marks to spend. A new arena season brings new WG gear, meaning that there could very easily be a 245 hat available from there in the near future (meaning you’d get and wear the helm, and ditch the pants in favour of your furious gear to maintain the 4 piece set bonus.)
Feel free to buy a furious ring, too. You have two ring slots, and you can only buy one relentless crit ring. Or, if you raid frequently, just use a pair of high end raiding rings with crit on them and save the honor.
High spellpower raiding weapons should be your priority, preferably MH/OH combos, as those will have the highest spellpower values. The difference in spellpower between, say, a 232 weapon and a 264 weapon is very significant.
Lastly, this is your PvP trinket. No ifs. No buts. That is your PvP trinket. Everything else is vastly inferior. Unless you’re a human, in which case you can go diaf.
Enchants are simple.
Use the spellpower PvP head and shoulders enchants, +35 spell penetration to cloak, and Tuskarr’s Vitality to boots, unless you’re an engineer, in which case rocket boots all the way! Use the spellpower/stamina spellthread. Raw spellpower on everything else.
If you are an engineer, do not forget your frag belt and rocket gloves. The frag belt is ridiculous, effectively giving you FIVE spell interrupts.
- Speccing the padawan pyromancer
You need to make a choice between using the frost tree or arcane tree for your extra, non-fire points. Spending all of your points in the fire tree can be amusing, but is ultimately foolish. I personally prefer the arcane tree, but if you choose frost, the only talent you really care about is Icy Veins. Spend your points to get there however you deem fit, though I highly recommend Frost Warding if you go that route.
I use a 14/57/0 spec. I do not get Imp. Counterspell, as I find I don’t need it for general BG action. I would consider taking it for arenas, though bear in mind fire is extremely good at shutting healers down, and your damage will be too great to heal through without casting heals. Yes, even druids have to stop and cast something against a fire mage unloading on them.
Torment the Weak is pointless, you will never use any of the spells it benefits. Spell Impact is solid gold, and I quite like Arcane Fortitude. It’s worth is significantly less now, however. Most melee types it’s supposed to protect against will have enough armor penetration to totally nullify it with today’s gear, so you could easily be better off taking Arcane Concentration.
You will not have mana troubles so long as you use mana gems and evocate smartly, so bear that in mind too.
Don’t take Playing With Fire, it isn’t worth it. You won’t ever use Fireball or FFB, so Empowered Fire is out, too. Master of Elements is superfluous, and Burning Soul nigh useless when most things you cast are insant.
Glyph Living Bomb, Scorch, and Evocation for starters. Feel free to experiment from there. I consider Scorch an absolute must, LB is a significant boost to effective DPS, and Evocation saves my life roughly every five or six minutes. If I were to drop one, the first to go would be Evocation. You can always simply disengage from combat and drink, or band-aid, or pay a healer in biscuits to follow you around.
- Burning things, surviving things
So. How to play this amazing spec?
This is going to be the hardest part.
Forget absolutely everything you ever knew about playing as a fire mage.
I’ll give you a scenario. You are in WG, and you come across a large melee. Say eight people in each side in a huge kerfuffle. What do you do?
- Run into the center and Blast Wave!
- Living Bomb everyone!
- Find a healer, Living Bomb them and scorch spam!
- Find a healer, line up a Deep Freeze shatter combo!
If you picked 4, GTFO.
If you picked 1, NO! BAD! BAD FIRE MAGE!
If you picked 2, you are in the path to enlightenment.
If you picked 3… my young padawan, you have learned what it means to be a pyromancer.
Running into a huge group and blowing them all up is fun, most certainly, but there are a few serious issues with it. First, you become dead. Second, nobody else did. It’s like if you tried to burn someone’s house down, but only managed to build a campfire and gave them all sticks with marshmallows attached.
Generally speaking, you want to stay as far away from the front lines as you can get. Wading into melee is for those wearing plate and those with dedicated healers. You, my friend, have neither. Stay at range as much as possible, and cherry pick your targets. Find someone causing a lot of havoc, and then destroy them.
Your first instinct will be to suicide mage. That is perfectly normal, a completely instinct that afflicts all fire mages, new and old. You must fight this instinct! You must quash it!
Try to envision what PvP life is for a healer. Picture the healer, trying to squish himself into as small of a ball as possible, ducking around a corner at the merest hint of danger. Picture the coward, fleeing from battle the second everything goes south.
You must emulate the coward to the best if your abilities, to truly become a nightmare of the battle field.
As a fire mage, you have few true defensive options. You have only one ice block, an invis spell that takes three seconds to take effect, a blink with no extra bells or whistles, and your eponymous blast wave and dragon’s breath moves.
Blazing speed and your disarm ability will proc when they will, but you cannot depend on them. You cannot survive focus fire for long, you cannot survive the rigors of fair combat. Thus, you must take every step necessary to ensure you are never focused and that combat is never fair.
Do not hesitate to flee. Running from a fight is not cowardly, you are merely advancing in a new and exciting direction. Throw Living Bomb’s over your shoulder to discourage pursuit, save BW/DB/FN for when someone gets close. Blast Waving someone and then Flamestriking where they land is usually enough to give any opponent pause.
Remember, you are not running away for the sake of running away. You are running away in an effort to get into a better position from which to launch an offensive. Run for cover in order to evocate, run while you spellsteal, run while waiting for a cooldown of some sort to either be ready for you or wear off a foe.
Polymorph defensively! This is a good strategy for any mage, but especially so for fire. Enemies cannot hurt you when they are a sheep, and most classes only have one or two ways out once they are down.
Picture a ret paladin bearing down on you. He’s blown Avenging Wrath, he has freedom up, and you just blinked out of HoJ. What now?
Polymorph that paladin! “But I already hurted him and polymorph heals!” So? If that paladin gets to you, you die. It won’t matter then that you’ve already got him to 80%. Spellsteal does not break polymorph! Sheep that ret paladin, and steal all of his buffs while he cannot do anything about it. He cannot bubble, due to Avenging Wrath, so his only option is trinket. At which point you sheep him again.
Imagine if you met a holy paladin. Now, you have four interrupts to use against this holy paladin, though they are all close range. Put Living Bomb and Scorch up immediately, then stay close. Spam scorch as much as possible, but stay close. You want to be easily able to hit him with BW/DB as soon as he tries to cast.
Say he casts Flash of Light. Blast Wave him. The knockback effect prevents him from casting until he lands, and LB is still ticking. Hit him with Flamestrike, and be ready for the next cast. Dragon’s Breath the next cast, let him sit a bit while you wind up a Scorch, then Flamestrike. On his end, he will get hit with Scorch, a Living Bomb tick/explosion and a Flamestrike all in rapid succession.
If you have the impact buff, prepare to fireblast. If not, prepare to counterspell.
Feel free to mix and match to your liking. Counterspelling late locks healers out, so they don’t get any more heals for a long time, paladins can’t bubble if you lock them out of holy, etc. But, you also run the risk that a paladin might blow Aura Mastery after you’ve run through BW/DB, and you won’t be able to CS them then.
So do you counterspell early, deal a ton of damage, and let BW/DB/impact carry out the kill? Or save counterspell and simply shut them down when they enter “oh shit” mode?
The entirety of fire PvP comes down to this give and take. You need to be constantly rotating between offense and defense, wisely selecting your cooldowns, continuously closing to melee range with enemy casters and stay as far away from enemy melee as possible.
The core lesson to learn, I think, is a philosophical one.
Every defensive tool you have is also an offensive weapon. Every offensive weapon you have is also a defensive tool.
Master that, and you master pyromancy, and magecraft in all its forms.
Consider Blast Wave. An excellent way to get, say, a rogue off your back. It knocks them away, dazing them, damaging them, and giving you a powerful, free instant nuke. It simulatenously serves as a weapon and kiting implement.
- Bribe a healer to follow you
The last point I can remember to make is to get a pocket healer. You can deal a lot of damage very quickly, either literally blowing someone up or cutting a huge swath through enemy ranks with absurd amounts of damage. But you need to be alive to do that.
If you can get someone to help you with that, you can easily earn the Wrecking Ball achievement every single BG you do.
Ask any question you like in the comments, and I’ll do follow up posts answering them, time allowing. Judging from the pleas for help, it looks like information on fire PvP is rather hard to find!