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Focusing Your Magic: Rotation

April 18, 2010

(Before we begin today I’d like to apologise for the lack of posting going on here lately, WoW just has not been my top priority lately but that’s soon changing so expect Plagued Candles not to be dead this week!

Last week we reviewed how to stay alive and how being alive actually is a big part of your DPS, who would have thought that? This week students, I believe it is time to give you all a bit of information as to your spell rotations as Mages. Each viable spec (Frost/Fire/Arcane) will be reviewed regardless of how they are performance-wise.

So, without further adieu let’s get crackin’!


A rotation is the order of abilities/spells that you press to obtain the maximum amount of DPS. As we are a pure DPS Class (we cannot ever Tank or Heal) doing the most DPS possible is high on our list of priorities! Sure, you can do DPS by randomly spamming random buttons that have SOMETHING to do with your spec, but it is fairly idiotic to do so since your performance will suffer directly from it.

So, each and every DPS (and some Tanks) have a rotation or a list of priorities that at some point will feel like a rotation. By going through the rotation or list of priorities in the correct order you will be achieving your maximum DPS with your current gear and buffs. Do not worry, the rotations for all of the Mage specs are easy it can just take a bit of practice depending on your spec!


Single Target- Frost relies on its main nuke called Frostbolt as it should account for the majority of your single target damage along with everyone’s friend the Water Elemental. The Elemental requires practically no management in a PvE setting so do not worry about that, however what you will worry about is the one proc that you NEED to look out for. It is quite literally called “Fireball!” and with it, it allows you to throw one free, insta cast, Fireball or Frostfire Bolt at the target.

As I said before, Frost relies on Frostbolt to do its damage as 1) it’s the main nuke of the spec and 2) all of the procs and buffs in the spec revolve around “chilling” effects (Frostbolts are the one mana efficient + sufficient damage that will have the chilling effect). For example, the “Fireball!” proc that I mentioned previously comes from a talent called Brain Freeze which has a 15% chance to proc “Fireball!” for each chilling effect spell thrown at the target. Yes, that’d be Frostbolt!

Lastly, Frostbolt increases your own damage as each Frostbolt (or any other Frost-damaging spell) adds a stack of Winter’s Chill to the target (5 stacks max) which will increase the chance that spells will crit the target by 5% (at 5 stacks) the buff falls off every 15 seconds if Frostbolts are not thrown at the target to reapply the effect so clearly it is a DPS loss to not be launching a gratuitous amount of Frostbolts!

Rotation: 1st priority Cast Deep Freeze whenever it is available—> 2nd- Use Frostfire Bolt whenever you have the “Fireball!” proc—> To fill the void keep using Frostbolt when Deep Freeze is not available and you do not have the Fireball! proc.

AoE– Frost, although it has one of the strongest AoE DPS out of all of the specs definitely has the simplest way to AoE. Let’s just call it the “win button”, or for its scientific name it is called Blizzard. Spam this when there are more than 2 mobs in the pull and ensure that you are placing this spell on ALL of the mobs!

Rotation: BLIIIIIIIIIZZZZZAAAAAARRRRRDDDD—-> Blizzard—> More Blizzard—> Get hired by Dairy Queen to make BLIZZARDS!


Single Target- Arcane was the bane of every single DPSer’s before patch 3.3.3 as it had possibly one of the simplest single target rotations in the game for the most DPS in the game as a whole. Was it fair? Hell no! Is it fun? For sure! Similar to Frost (and Mages as a whole) the spec if very proc-based meaning that you will spend most of your time watching your buffs like a hawk for one specific proc to use a specific spell. However, there are a few choices to be made in Arcane.

First of all there are 3 spells that are ever used in Arcane: Arcane Blast, Arcane Missiles, and Arcane Barrage and even then Arcane Barrage is only used in very specific circumstances. The whole point of the spec is to stack Arcane Blast (AB) until it reached 4x stacks and hopefully you would be able to use a Missile Barrage for extremely fast (and deadly) Arcane Missiles. Remember, Arcane Missiles should ONLY be used with a Missile Barrage proc AND 4x stacks of  AB.

Now to go back to my point with the Arcane Barrage being used in a PvE setting it should only be used if it is best for your mana efficiency. The problem with Arcane is that it is the least mana efficient out of all three specs because at 4x AB stacks it gets VERY expensive to cast AB (close to 1000 mana per AB) and the stacks will not increase past 4! So, if you are either 1) running low on mana or 2) have done at least 6-7 AB’s without getting a Missile Barrage proc you may as well use an inexpensive Arcane Barrage to clear your stacks and start over again.

Rotation: 4x AB—> Arcane Missiles with Missile Barrage
Remember, it is very rare to get a perfect rotation such as that so remember to be mana efficient and make good decisions!

AoE- Arcane, although extremely strong single-target wise is not so lucky in AoE. There are two different ways to do AoE, though. There is the safe way in which you will most likely live and will do sufficient AoE, OR there is the dasterdly/daring way to AoE which can do some decent DPS, but you have to watch your threat!

Rotation- “Safe”: Blizzard–>Blizzard—> BLIIIIIIIIZZZZZAAAAARD!

“Ballsy”: Arcane Explosion> Arcane Explosion—> Arcane EXPLOSION!


Single Target- Currently “on top” (depending on your gear) the Fire spec literally gives you the most bang for your buck! It is a challenging spec to play, but when played right will procure some of the best DPS known to man-kind. Like Arcane and Frost it is fairly proc based, but it also requires a keen eye for watching DoTs/Debuff timers although not to the point of a Spriest or Affliction Warlock!

Living bomb is your DoT and should always be up along with Improved Scorch (which is put up with a single Scorch spell). Living Bomb works as a DoT (damage over time) ability with fairly good “ticks” of damage PLUS a crittable explosion that hits the target and surrounding enemies for some delicious fire damage the timer on it is merely 10 seconds so it will need to be reapplied often and immediately. Improved Scorch takes a lot less watching as it is ~28 seconds of 5% more chance to crit with your spells on the target. Clearly you ALWAYS want this up as crit is a major part of Fire’s DPS!

Fireball is going to be your new best friend; it is mana efficient, has a DoT, but does take a bit of time to cast. However, what it does do is have a chance to proc Hot Streak and give you an instant Pyroblast which basically is Fireball’s big brother. Hot Streak, however, is not exactly a “random” proc, but more of a luck of the draw sort of deal. What has to happen to cash in your insta-Pyroblast is for 2 consecutive Fire Damaging spells to crit (that are non peridodical [DoTs] of course!). Thus you see why Fireball is a crucial spell to be spamming!

Rotation: 1st priority Living Bomb is applied—> 2nd- Imp. Scorch is applied—> Spam fireballs—> Hot Streak?- then PYROBLAST!–> Moar Fireballs

AOE- Fire is where AoE DPS is good AND somewhat fun/challenging to pull off. Basically what you have to do is revisit your friend Living Bomb and spread the word (like a successful Jehovah’s Witness) of its explosive properties to all of your enemies that are wailing on your Tank(s). Once this task has been completed you will proceed to use a Flamestrike.

Your goal here is to ensure that no man is left without a Living Bomb and that Flamestrike is reapplied when the 8 second DoT has worn off. So, if you actually are experiencing some down time you may as well just slap some Blizzards in the mix and have yourself a damn party!

Rotation: Living Bomb on everything that is moving—>Flamestrike–>Blizzard in between reapplying Living Bomb/Flamestrike!

Have a great week students and I will see you all here again next Sunday for another lesson on Focusing Your Magic!

Happy WoWing!

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Alex permalink
    April 18, 2010 12:48 PM

    Keep in mind that Improved Scorch will be overwritten by a Warlock’s Improved Shadowbolt, which gives you the 5% spell crit. In addition, Frost’s Winter’s Chill does the same thing, and don’t stack; if you’re raiding with a Frost Mage and you’re Fire, its much easier to just let the Frost Mage do the work and skip your Scorches.

    • April 19, 2010 8:50 AM

      That’s an excellent point and something I still see Mages missing. We only have one non-Arcane mage raiding with us right now so it’s not an issue in the guild, but I see it all the time in randoms and PUG raids. Am I the only person that takes the time to see what spec everyone else of my class is when we first get there?

      I still feel that Frost is lacking DPS in the raid environment, so I’m shelving that one until Cat at the very least. I’m going to give Fire another shot though, probably sometime this week if I can peel myself away from all the new toons I’ve rolled and actually put in some raid time. I’ve enjoyed Arcane a lot and for a good long while now, but it’s starting to get a bit stale.

  2. September 30, 2010 8:53 PM

    I never stop to leave comments on peoples sites but I just felt I had to stop and tell you that I love your site. Love your design and I love reading your posts. Keep up the good work. 🙂


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