5 Jan 2011

Mage Stat Priority in 4.0

For many of us, January marks the beginning of Cataclysm raiding. It’s time to start getting those gear upgrades from heroic dungeons, digging out those gems and finishing everything off with a nice coat of enchants. This can be fairly expensive, so it’s worth doing properly rather than wasting money on mistakes.

I’m hearing that the minimum DPS you want to be doing is around 10k sustained while raidbuffed. This isn’t just the burn phase either – you need to be able to provide decent damage output during your recover phase as well. But how do you make sure that the gear you pick is good for you? As an example, there are four cloth headpieces available at iLevel 346, all with the same base stats. Which would be the best for your spec?

I’ve put together a handy list for all three mage specs to give you an idea of what gear to look for and what gems and enchants to pick out. This mage stat priority list should help you focus on what’s important while letting you comfortably shard what’s not essential.

The Golden Rules

For all mage specs Intellect is our most important stat. It contributes to our spellpower, mana pool and even crit rating. Everything about our gear including enchants, gems and so on should go towards maximising this value. You won’t find Spell power on armour any more as it’s all been replaced with Intellect.

Reaching the Hit cap is almost as important. For mages we’re going to need 1742 Hit to reach the 17% cap. Anything over this cap is wasted (for tier 11 – the hit cap will go up for later tiers).

Keep in mind that you’ll still find Spell Power on weapons and trinkets. It’s still important as a stat so make sure you pick it up when you can. Although not quite as good as Intellect (it doesn’t contribute to crit or mana pool) it still improves our damage output.

Finally, Spirit is a wasted stat for Mages. It does nothing for us any more and you should not be rolling on gear with it on, especially against healers. As a last resort you can reforge a proportion of the spirit out, but this is a worst case scenario. Focus on pure Intellect-Stamina gear.

The Variations

With the three talent trees come three mastery abilities. These masteries along with the nuances around spell rotations and procs, mean that each talent spec has a slight difference in stat priorities below Intellect, Hit and Spell Power.

Arcane mages have the Mana Adept mastery, which increases all spell damage by up to 12% based on the amount of mana you have remaining. Each point in mastery increases this by an additional 1.5%, making it a great one to use. As a result, Haste and Mastery come in at about equal with Crit coming in slightly lower.

Fire mages have the Flashburn mastery, which increases the damage done by damage over time effects. Since the primary nuke in the Fire spec is Fireball (which doesn’t have a DoT component), this mastery isn’t as useful. As a result, it’s worth getting to the fire Haste softcap (12.5% raidbuffed) before stacking Crit. Mastery and Haste over the softcap are pretty poor compared to Crit, but could be great reforge candidates.

Frost mages have the Frostburn mastery, which increases the damage done against frozen targets. Because of this and the way in which Frost mechanics behave, there doesn’t seem to be any clear winner. Crit, Mastery and Haste seem to be about equal for Frost mages.

Final Notes

As you get ready to raid it’s worth keeping your final gear objectives in mind. It’s a bit like playing Tetris, with a jigsaw of numbers that you’re trying to slot together to make the right shape. It’s not essential that everything is absolutely perfect – the randomness of critical hits etc. will always mean that your damage falls within a bell curve. The key thing is to make sure that your gear moves in the right direction.

For further reading, you might want to check out the Fire, Frost and Arcane threads on Elitist Jerks. There’s also a fair bit of discussion on gear etc on the Mage Forums.

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