Questions & Answers: Heroic DPS

Here’s a question courtesy of Hannah:


I recently stumbled upon your blog and I think it’s fantastic! I raided quite a bit pre-WotLK but due to starting graduate school, I fell out of playing regularly.

Since summer is here, I’m starting to get back into the swing of things. I’ve hit 80 and started doing heroics and some 10-mans, with an aim at filling in for guild raids if needed (and once I get better gear).

I know your blog is aimed towards raid DPS, but do you have any spec suggestions for someone in my shoes? My gear is not that great, but it’s getting better every week as I run more instances. I’m currently running with a deep fire spec, which is what I remember from raiding pre-WotLK but I’m not really getting the numbers that I’m looking for.

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated and I will continue to watch this blog for raiding advice as I slowly move back into that role!

Thank you :)

This is just the kind of player this blog is aimed at, and my hope is that a lot of people reading this are in similar situations.  Just a reminder to the people who are interested in really specific information on maximizing raid DPS:  I do my best to give tips here, but the Elitist Jerks forums are where you should be. 🙂

Alright, with that said, let’s get to the question!  The basic situation is one that all of us were in at some point:  I turned 80 not that long ago, I have some quest gear and some instance gear – what’s the best way to put up decent numbers so I can perform in heroics and get into raids?

There are two ways to go about this, in my opinion, and both have their own advantages.

The first is to spec frostfire.  You can follow the frostfire guide on this here site to get set up with your talents, glyphs, rotation.  While frostfire does not perform great on trash, it’s nice for 10-man bosses because even at not-so-great gear levels, you are unlikely to have mana issues and you can stick to your rotation.  Frostfire is a very easy spec to play, and if you have prior raiding experience, you can become very good at it very, very quickly.

The problem with frostfire at low gear levels is that your crit chance will be low, and a good chunk of frostfire’s damage comes from hot-streak’d pyroblasts, which only occur after two consecutive crits.  If you are only critting 30% of the time or so in raids, you’re going to have fights where you simply don’t get many consecutive crits, which will cripple your dps.

The other option is to go arcane.  Arcane has a much higher learning curve than frostfire – while the rotation is easy enough, you’ll find yourself running out of mana all the time, so you’ll need to time your evocations well and be smart with your mana gems and cooldowns.  You can check my arcane guide for all the basic information.

The main benefit of arcane at low gear levels is that it lets you put up abnormally high dps numbers at the expense of your mana pool.  Want to impress some guildies on a heroic boss?  Pop all your cooldowns right off the bat and burn through your mana in 15 seconds, then evocate and burn it again (hopefully the boss will be dead by the time you’re out of mana!). 

I recently worked on this strategy with a  friend who has a newly-80 mage alt , and after he got experience with arcane in a few heroics, he started putting up 3,500 single-target dps regularly on bosses.  That’s a huge number for someone still with quest gear! 

The problem, of course, is that you can’t really sustain this for anything longer than a standard heroic boss fight.  Once you get into raiding, arcane mages with a low gear level have to be very careful not to burn through their mana when evocation is on cooldown.  At the same time, if you’re too careful then you end up crippling your dps, so arcane definitely takes practice.

And just as a final note:  I would not go deep fire/torment of the weak with a low gear level.  That spec seems to scale extremely well with gear, meaning that it’s not a good one to start out with.  Whatever you choose, good luck and thanks for reading!


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3 Responses to “Questions & Answers: Heroic DPS”

  1. Hannah Says:


    Thanks for addressing my question so thoroughly! After reviewing your guide, I’ve duel specced with your frostfire and arcane specs.

    I started off trying the frostfire spec because it is so similar to the specs I’ve played in the past and, like you pointed out, it’s much easier to play. I was getting around 1600-1700 DPS with it. While it’s a good spec, it was a little too easy for my taste after raiding with fire for so much of my past experience.

    When I switched to trying out the arcane spec, my DPS jumped to closer to 2500 and, again like you said, I blew through my mana quickly. But I really enjoyed the play style. I think it’s perfect for heroic instances because you get that big burst of DPS and there are plenty of opportunities to drink between pulls. However, I think this spec would be much more complicated to use for a long raid boss fight.

    Again, thanks for your blog! Since I started back playing, I’ve been shuffling through ElitistJerks and as many other sites as I could get my hands on really to no avail. Everything was either outdated or WAY to technical and number oriented for me to understand it. Your blog is the perfect balance of intelligence and common sense. I’ll definitely be stopping by regularly!

  2. Noorie Says:

    Nice blog. I enjoy the info here, as well as the personal touch.

    Not to hijack a thread, but I was wondering if I could get your opinion of what spec would benefit my current gear:

    Prior to Dual Spec, I tried the Deep Fire FFB, as well as the Deep Frost FFB, and found (as you pointed out) with such low crit my dps was suffering.

    I’m trying to do H runs as much as possible for gear / badges, but haven’t had much luck w/ rolls / drops. 🙂

  3. Junyong Lu Says:

    Hey, I love this blog. So much information. Thanks!

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