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frost versus fire

Discussion in 'Character Building' started by Jakeman, Apr 23, 2007.

  1. Jakeman

    Jakeman MSC Founder and Donator

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    I posted this on the mage forum and was met with the responses you might expect. So that didn't work out. I thought I might try my luck here. I am trying to be scientific about this by first observing and then attempting to explain.

    Observation - frost does more dmg than fire:
    People always say that fire is better dmg than frost, and that frost cannot be #1 dmg. Yet as a frostie I hold the #1 dmg spot in about 99% of groups / raids, often by a large margin. I can only recall one group since BC where a shaman barely beat me in dmg. At best, some exceptional players of other classes will almost tie me for #1, but never a fire mage in my experience. And when I say "exceptional players" I am talking about topped out people from big raid guilds, so my player sampling is complete.

    Here is some context:

    http://armory.worldofwarcraft.com/#character-sheet.xml?r=Hyjal&n=Jaden

    Possible explanations:
    Let's start by negating some perceived advantages of fire. Note that these are not precise arguments. I am simply offering counterarguments to commonly perceived advantages of fire in order to negate or at least lessen those perceived advantages in an attempt to explain my observation that frost does more dmg than fire.

    Negations for commonly perceived advantages of fire:

    1) Fireball does more dmg than frostbolt. Included in this argument is the higher dmg coefficient of fireball.

    - this argument can be negated by citing the faster cast time of frostbolt. Because of the difference in cast time, you cannot compare just the raw dmg of the nuke since frostbolt lands more nukes per amount of time.

    2) Fire crits do a total of 210% dmg when you include the DOT, versus frostbolt's 200% dmg.

    - this argument can be negated by citing the fact that 210% only comes when the DOT runs to completion and is not overriden which is not always the case. Frostbolt on the other hand does its full crit dmg up front so it's a guaranteed 200% instead of a variable and maximum 210%.

    3) Fire has higher passive crit chance than frost.

    - this is not true when considering emp frostbolt and a fully stacked winter's chill which totals 15% +crit. For shorter fights you can expect a lower average crit chance for frost, but it still compares to fire's 9% passive.

    Now let's look at some pro-frost arguments of mine. Once again, these are not precise arguments. I am only offering possible explanations to support my observation that frost does more dmg than fire.

    Pro-frost arguments:

    1) The higher survivability of frost allows you to dps more. You can't do dps when you are dead.

    2) The "pure nuke" nature of frost dmg (ie no DOTs) provides more steady dps output allowing the mage to more easily ride the threat line to maximize dmg, unlike a fire mage whose dmg is more... inflamatory, for lack of a better word.

    3) The water pet raises the threat ceiling allowing the mage to do more dmg. When a mage reaches a maximum level of dmg output where they have to hold back in order to avoid pulling agro, the frost mage can use the water pet to deal additional dmg on a separate threat bar while the fire mage has to simply stop dpsing to avoid the threat ceiling.

    And here are some general arguments that I don't like:

    Bad general arguments:

    1) Fire would do more dmg without the threat ceiling limitation.

    - First of all, my personal observations show that I still do more dmg despite the ceiling. I also don't like this argument since it has no practical application... threat ceilings must be recognized in group / raid scenarios. The only situation where threat is not a concern is in solo PvE which is when many mages respec to frost because of the CC and survivability. I know tons of raid guild mages that went frost for the 60-70 grind.

    2) Fire must necessarily do more dmg or else everyone would spec frost since it has more survivability.

    - ...

    3) Fire does more dmg because of old skool rolling ignites on Patchwerk.

    - the combined rolling power of a 40-man raid under the old ignite mechanic does not speak for an individual fire mage's dmg.

    4) Single fire mages can roll their own ignites indefinitely.

    - wow, you can? I call BS, but I don't know for sure. And I have never seen that done in all of my group / raiding experience. And even if you can... got threat meter?
     
  2. Lurk

    Lurk Peasant and Donator

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    I saw this before you deleted the OP. I'm leaning toward leaving it alone because you are set in your opinion and no amount of hard math will convince you. Granted your opinion is based on your own observation, but I challenge your "complete sample."

    You are very well geared. I'm curious to see the Armory profiles of the others in your raid and SS's of your damage meters, as others in that thread requested. We are taking your word as to them being "topped off."
     
  3. Jakeman

    Jakeman MSC Founder and Donator

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    I don't do math or specific examples of armory profiles. General arguments are enough for fire mages, and they are enough for me. I want a discussion, not a dissection of armory profiles and formulae from which we can't draw any conclusions.

    My opinion is not set in stone. I am not closed minded. I specced frost for reasons other than damage.

    This is disappointing that the thread has already become personal.
     
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2007
  4. Lurk

    Lurk Peasant and Donator

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    Not at all, although at the risk of sounding personal again, your hypersensitivity (likely as a result of spending too much time on the WoW forums) would interfere with a constructive discussion.
     
  5. Jakeman

    Jakeman MSC Founder and Donator

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    I will help:

    A counterargument to this point can be seen by examining the dmg versus cast time closer.

    You can cast 1.166 frostbolts per fireball, which is the difference in the dmg coefficients. We can make an easier comparison if we ignore the cast time difference treat frostbolt as if it has a 100% dmg coefficient. Assuming equal +dmg numbers, we can now look at just the base spell dmg. Fireball does more base dmg than frostbolt, so we can conclude that fireball does indeed do more dmg despite cast time differences.

    Now I will switch sides again...

    However, the difference in crit mechanic still exists which I believe evens the playing field at the very least. In short fights frost crits have an advantage since the fire dots can't run to completion. In long fights frost still has an advantage due to the higher crit rate with a fully stacked winter's chill.

    I could probably flesh out a full discussion by myself, but it's kind of like masturbation. Verbal sex is more satisfying with some one else.
     
  6. Wulf

    Wulf MSC Knight and Donator

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    I will tell you some interesting information at this time. There are two very good mages in The Obsidian Spur. An undead mage named Jarth, and my mage Dhaval. Now Jarth is Frost, while I am Fire. My first point is that I tend to last a lot longer than Jarth when it comes to mana. At first this wouldn't seem to make sense, however as a SMRT® mage I have Elemental Mastery, in addition to all the talents that make my spells cheaper. I also crit on about every third spell, add in clearcasting, which while a bit streaky can result in me getting off about 3-4 fireballs for less than the cost of a single Ice Lance.

    Secondly, I tend to live longer than said frost mage. Why? Well he doesn't care about his aggro as much due to his ice block. It gives him an extra feeling of warm fuzzy (or chilly willy ;)) that I don't have. Now, at first this would seem like a huge disadvantage on my part, after all ice block would save me if I pulled aggro right? Well I have learned, via playing with our tanks constantly how much I can do before I need to start paying attention to the meters. If Jarth pulls aggro, he will ice block and go right back to DPSing, which usually ends up with him lying face down on the floor. If I get near the top, I pop Invisibility, reset my aggro and stomp down on the DPS pedal! Sure, he could do this too, but for some reason, most ice mages think that ice block is the end all and be all of aggro gimmies.

    Thirdly, I actually help some of the other classes in the raid/group. Warlocks LOVE me for my improved scorch, which is so easy to keep on the mob the entire fight, and since it has almost a 50% crit rate for me fully buffed, can help keep ignite ticking for a mere 45ish mana. Not to mention the fact that it usually crits for about the same as a huge Ice Lance crit, and doesn't require the mob to be frozen. So, adding in the additional % of damage from Improved Scorch, the additional damage from Warlocks, smart shaman (Fire Tongue) and Hunters (fire related traps) it really starts to stack up. Adding in to that the fact that once a mob gets to 20% I get an additional 20% spell power against it, on top of all my other buffs (and its modified by the Improved Scorch) I can start seeing nearly 5k crits.

    Thats not to say that ice mages aren't without uses. They do make learning new encounters slightly more manageable, and can kite trash like mofos. But if you have them putting on a debuff that only they can take advantage of, (no shaman in their right mind would use it to help their frostshock, now that its basically a taunt) whereas fire mages can put a debuff on there than can help nearly every class in the game, hell all of them if the shaman puts Flametongue in with the tank and melee DPS, do more damage. So sure, fire mages may do slightly less DPS than frost mages in a solo situation. But raiding/grouping isn't a solo situation, and they are better for that.
     
  7. Lurk

    Lurk Peasant and Donator

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    :hump: I love it when you talk dirty.

    Very well... (this is long)

    Fireball's damage coeffecient is 100%. Frostbolt's is 81.4%. ((3.0/3.5)*0.95) It is true that the cast time modifier (3.0/3.5) is negated over time, as it is for all spells, but spells with a secondary effect (in this case a slowing effect) take an additional 5% hit. So even ignoring cast time, you'd still have to treat Frostbolt as 95%, not 100%. Add to that the higher base damage of Fireball and you have a clear edge in Fire's direction.

    As someone pointed out in the linked thread, you can Frostbolt crit for 2000 when the mob only has 1000 HP left, and the extra damage is negated, just as it would be for an Ignite dot that doesn't run to completion. (That said, I'm not entirely sure this is reflected in damage meters.)

    First, you are ignoring Combustion, which I argue negates the difference in crit percentage over long fights and allows me to control when I will crit (i.e. near the beginning of a fight when my Ignites matter more, or right at 20% to max with Molten Fury).

    Second, over time a passive increase to spell damage outweighs a passive increase to crit percentage because it affects EVERY cast whether it crits or not, and has a bigger effect on the bonus when you DO crit. Thus, Empowered Fireball (15% increase to bonus damage) trumps Empowered Frostbolt (10% increase to bonus damage, 5% increase to crit chance).

    Expanding on that subject, look at the Fire tree's raw damage modifiers for my primary nuke: Fire Power = 10% to all damage, Playing With Fire = 3% to all damage, Molten Fury = 20% to all damage on wounded targets, Empowered Fireball = 15% to bonus damage. And those are just the passive effects. Throw in a fully stacked Improved Scorch and you're getting 15% more.

    Compare that to Frost: Piercing Ice = 6% to all damage, Ice Shards = 100% to critical strike bonus, Empowered Frostbolt = 10% to bonus damage, Arctic Winds (in 2.1) = 5% increase to all damage.

    Ice Shards only helps on crits, and honestly I'm not sure how many Frosties currently spec Arctic Winds. Maybe all of them, but if not they are giving something up to get it in the next patch. Point is, Fire's raw damage potential outweighs Frost's, and by a fairly significant margin.

    Aggro management is something ALL mages have to contend with. (Although it's as much a function of the warrior doing his job as it is the mage keeping it in his/her pants, but I digress.) I argue that Fire mages actually tend to be better at it because they can't fall back on Ice Block. Plus, it's important to note that Ice Block does NOT wipe threat. Never has, never will. What it does do is give the tank a chance to grab aggro back while you are frozen. To do that they have to get to 110% of your threat, and if you pulled aggro it means you are 30% ahead of them already, so they are in a 40% hole. Any time the mob is not on the tank bad things can happen. Frost mages shouldn't be pulling aggro any more than Fire mages should. The Hypothermia debuff coming in the next patch reduces the effectiveness of the Ice Block crutch. Oh, by the way, while you are frozen your DPS = 0.

    Not currently, because as I understand it Ignite is broken: 1.) If you crit twice in rapid succession the first Ignite is being overwritten instead of stacking, and 2.) multiple fire mages can overwrite each other's Ignites, instead of each receiving his own debuff slot. Neither of these is intended and from what I've read, it is fixed on the 2.1 PTR.

    Once fixed, a Fire mage with a high enough crit rate could theoretically roll their own Ignite stack by Scorching, but I'd venture to guess a straight Fireball spam will still out-DPS a lone mage's Ignite stack. That's just a gut feeling, not based on any theorycrafting.
     
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2007
  8. Lurk

    Lurk Peasant and Donator

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    If you're looking for a more math-based analysis, here is a direct response to your thread on the WoW forums.
     
  9. Jakeman

    Jakeman MSC Founder and Donator

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    The points about mages who use iceblock as a crutch, and mana lasting power have never stopped me. Both fire and frost can pull agro if they aren't careful, iceblock or not, and that will always stop their dps temporarily. Perhaps I am just better at surviving than other overzealous frosties and flamers. Perhaps spec has nothing to do with it. I don't have math to say that frost has more lasting power, but it is apparently enough since I don't run out of mana. I don't know what else to say there.

    The point about class synergies with debuffs is valid but slightly off topic. Any class can synergize to increase overall effectiveness, including frost. For example, frost slowing synergizes with everyone when used well on big pulls. But we are not talking about other classes, only mages.

    Combustion is very temporary, and the effect is consumed unlike Winter's Chill. During the 3+ minute cooldown (it doesn't reset until the stack is consumed, right?) I can cast 60-72 frostbolts (2.5 - 3 secs over 3 min) which all benefit from the crit buff. Combustion is consumed within 8 casts if not less depending on your base crit. Fire mages talk about higher damage in long fights and then use a "short fight" buff like combustion to help explain it. I don't think that's a good explanation.

    The one argument of mine that seems the most undeniable is about threat. How is it possible for fire to do more dmg than frost with a water pet when both mages are riding the line and don't pull agro? I ride the line all the time and don't pull agro, and fire has no more threat reduction than frost. Even with a timely invisibility on long fights, I can still regain #2 agro if I go all out.
     
  10. Lurk

    Lurk Peasant and Donator

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    It's one factor out of many. You keep looking at this skill or that talent in a vacuum. All of the things I mentioned come into play.

    Threat management is very dependent on the skills of the players in the raid, theirs and yours, and as such is hard to quantify. As a rule, Frost generates less aggro than Fire (because... gasp!.. it does less damage), so yes there may be something there, but I maintain that a good mage knows how to maintain DPS and not pull aggro, regardless of spec. (Not saying I'm perfect at this by any means.)

    Once again, if you are looking for a reason why you are always #1 on the meter (a specific condition), then the skill/gear of those you raid with is relevant to the discussion and I restate my request to see screenies and armory profiles.

    If on the other hand, you are looking for an analysis of Frost vs. Fire in terms of overall DPS (a general condition), it has been discussed ad nauseum in many many venues, with supporting math and anecdotal evidence, and Fire is the winner. It doesn't mean Frost is not a viable or competitive spec, of course it is. But all things being equal, Fire wins the DPS fight. That's not an opinion.

    You can debate the color of the sky all you want, it's still going to be blue.
     
  11. Jakeman

    Jakeman MSC Founder and Donator

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    I'm still not convinced.

    The threat argument seems like a decisive tie breaker, independant of all other variables. I can even admit that fire does more dps when there are no other concerns. But when we consider the threat ceiling, which we must, the water pet comes out ahead.

    Code:
    ___________THREAT CEILING FROM THE TANK_______________
    |----fire----|   |----frost---|
    |            |   |            |
    |            |   |            |
    |            |   |            |   |----water---|
    |            |   |            |   |            |   
    |            |   |            |   |            |   
    
    Overall dmg:

    Code:
                      |-frost+water-|
                      |             |
                      |             |
    |----fire-----|   |             |
    |             |   |             |
    |             |   |             |
    |             |   |             |
    |             |   |             |
    |             |   |             |
    
    Having an additional source of dps that doesn't come from you raises the ceiling allowing for more dps potential, if the mage is good enough to reach the ceiling and maximize the water pet, two things which I do well.

    In this case it doesn't matter if fire can do more dmg without a threat ceiling, because if they go beyond the ceiling then they die. The extra dmg potential of fire is lost, assuming fire has more potential.

    This might explain why I always beat people, even if only by a little bit.
     
  12. JollyRedGiant

    JollyRedGiant MSC Commander

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    I really don't want to get in the middle of this discussion too much, but as Fire said, the quality of players you run with and your own personal quality have a large impact on how all out you can go on DPS. I found this out while I've been shadow specced, better tank = more all out DPS. Being that you have been playing one class for 3 years and you run mostly heroics and Kara with similarly geared and talented people, you are going to be an exception to a lot of norms. Thats my $.2.
     
  13. Lurk

    Lurk Peasant and Donator

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    Agreed Red.

    The "threat ceiling" is not a static variable. It's highly dependent on the skills of the others in the raid, most notably the tank. I might be willing to accept that with a shitty tank, the "no threat" aspect of the WE can close the gap between fire and frost, but honestly I haven't seen this in action myself. The few raids we've been on together since I left MSC are not representative because you've always outgeared me by a significant margin. (And even then as I recall I was not THAT far behind you.)

    Incidentally, threat considerations aside, from a theory standpoint the WE is the lone aspect of the frost build that allows a Frostie to even approach a Fire mage's damage potential.

    I frequently have people below me on the damage meter pull aggro before I do. (Shadow Priests are notorious for doing this.) So there's something to threat management that goes beyond total DPS (granting that I have a talent that reduces my threat by 10%).
     
  14. dcwilson26

    dcwilson26 MSC Knight

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    Ok, I'll tank, and you two take it out on some boss in some instance. :P
     
  15. Jakeman

    Jakeman MSC Founder and Donator

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    Lesser geared people are rolled into the 99% number, but so are equally geared people. I am not making my case solely on me versus blue geared players.

    The threat argument depends on me being able to reach the ceiling, not on how high that ceiling is. But I have yet to meet a ceiling that I couldn't reach.

    Discrepancies in threat versus agro are often due to nonrepresentative threat numbers because of multi-pulls and AOE agro and such. Shadow priests have to contend with their healing proc which functions like a mini AOE agro generator.
     
  16. Wulf

    Wulf MSC Knight and Donator

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    Honestly, a good mage player shouldn't have to worry about the threat ceiling in a fight that lasts less than the cool down for Invisibility. It completely resets your threat. To zero. Then you can have all the fun you want on your way back up to the 80-100k+ aggro the tank has.
     
  17. Jakeman

    Jakeman MSC Founder and Donator

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    I understand what you are saying, but let's not lose our perspective. I am saying that threat is important and you are saying it's not, but we are talking about different things. I am talking about damage potential while you are talking about pulling agro. We can combine these two topics by agreeing that good mages can maximize their dmg potential while not pulling agro, and invisibility helps to do that in certain situations.

    And to use your tangent to fortify my own arguments... when I fight the prince with my karazhan group I can dump agro around 60k and still work my way up to 2nd highest threat in a couple minutes. Invisibility doesn't necessarily remove all threat concerns, so the ceiling still comes into play.
     
  18. Wulf

    Wulf MSC Knight and Donator

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    I don't get how that helps you though. The quicker you get back to the aggro cap, the quicker you have to start artificially reducing your DPS to keep from pulling. But really, beyond all that, I like having more than one main spell to cast, and the Elemental pissed me off for the last time when I summoned it, told it to attack and it sat there, doing nothing, for the entirety of its duration. .. For the whole damn week! I can't stand buggy pets :P
     
  19. Jakeman

    Jakeman MSC Founder and Donator

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    http://www.mscclan.com/forum/showpost.php?p=135447&postcount=11

    If both the frost and fire mage reach the ceiling, then their dps is equal. The pet makes the difference.

    Yes, the pet is buggy, but most of the time it works.
     
  20. Lurk

    Lurk Peasant and Donator

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    Assuming damage done (regardless of source) and threat have a linear relationship. Perhaps they do, honestly I don't know the formula. All I know is, like I said before, people below me on the meter frequently pull aggro before I do, granting that some classes (e.g. Shadow Priests) have other sources of threat on top of their damage.

    I'd still like to know which equally geared Fire mages you are routinely beating. Your experience is different from most, so I restate that the specific conditions under which you raid are relevant to this discussion, yet you seem reticent to share this information.

    In fact, I'm ruling inadmissable any of your raids where you significantly outgeared the rest of the raid (which is to say, pretty much all your raids with HGA/BAH).

    PRE-EMPTIVE EDIT: Before you restate how you want to keep the arguments general, I point out that your initial observation is anything but:

    This is a very specific observation (specific to you). If you want me to discuss it, then I need the specific conditions under which it was made. Otherwise any theories as to why you observe what you observe are moot, especially if you are unwilling to brook the discussion of an alternate theory (that it might simply be a case of better gear.) That's just basic scientific method.

    GENERALLY speaking, Fire > Frost (in terms of strict DPS) for reasons already stated.
     
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2007

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