Where we are now
Before we discuss the changes, it’s important to acknowledge the place Fire Mage occupies in Mythic+ and Raiding.
The strength of a good Fire Mage in Mythic+ is undeniable. Fire is a spec that basically every group runs. There are a lot of reasons why groups want a Fire Mage, but mostly it’s due to Fire’s extremely high uncapped AoE damage, short cooldowns, and Distorsione Temporale
. It’s very easy to make arguments for why a good Fire Mage is overpowered in Mythic+, and a quick look at what comps people want to run can confirm this. It’s important, however, that we don’t confuse how overpowered Fire is in Mythic+ with Raiding.
It might be hard to remember, but when it came to just damage Fire Mage was not very strong in the initial week of Mythic. You could say that the spec took a while to heat up
. A lot of why Fire is so good now depends on small advancements from the Mage theorycrafting community and adjustments for its damage in the form of legendary buffs or conduit unlocks. That being said, the biggest factor in Raiding will always be the encounters themselves. If anything, we as Fire Mages got lucky to have fights that were almost tailor-made for us in this raid (Uncapped AoE for Sun King's Salvation
, one minute damage amps for Picchiapoltiglia
, and high burst and execute for Sire Denathrius
). The next raid might not have encounters as opportune.
Changes on the Horizon
A lot of classes have things changing for them in 9.1 and Fire Mage is one of the classes receiving adjustments. The changes are listed below. Keep in mind, this is one of the first info drops from 9.1. Since it is early there's a good chance a lot of these changes have wiggle room with future changes. Even so, I will cover them as if they are set in stone to give you an idea of how these changes will affect mages if they go live.
Flamestrike and Flame Patch
First up in the 10% nerf to Colonna di Fuoco
and Pozza delle Fiamme
. I’m talking about both of these together since heavy Colonna di Fuoco
use is almost always paired with Pozza delle Fiamme
. This change is a direct response to the strength of Fire Mage in Mythic+ in large AoE situations. This change also affects raiding Fire Mages, but not nearly as much. 10% is a pretty substantial nerf, but what is most interesting to me is that this change didn’t add a soft-cap Pozza delle Fiamme
. The situation very well might be that this is a preemptive nerf because the addition of a 3rd potency conduit allows us to easily run Maestro della Fiamma
. A nerf to Fire Mage AoE seems justified (maybe not 10%, though) to me and the silver-lining of this nerf is that it will likely increase the amount of targets needed before we hardcast Colonna di Fuoco
Next up is the nerf to Combustione Critica
. There are plenty of ways to nerf Fire Mage’s damage without making it less fun to play. I believe this is a bad change and should be re-evaluated. Let me explain:Combustione Critica
is returning to Battle for Azeroth levels at a one second reduction per crit. The effect of CDR (cool down reduction) for Fire Mage depends a lot on what the cooldown of Combustione
ends up being. For example, going from a 60 second cooldown to a 50 second cooldown does very little for Fire since you want to sync your Combustione
with your one minute cooldowns. Going from a 40 second cooldown to a 55 second cooldown also does very little for this same reason, but anything that causes Combustione
’s cooldown to average over one minute is going to have a huge effect.
As of writing this, this change is speculated to bring Combustione
’s cooldown from 55-60 seconds to approximately 73 seconds. The overall effect of this increase to cooldown in a patchwork environment is around -8% in single target. This is before factoring in boss mechanics, such as the windows between sludgefist’s pillars
. Fire mage is extremely cooldown reliant and having a 73 second cooldown is extremely awkward
. Most raid mechanics are set to 30 second to one minute intervals, which means that in most cases you will have to end up holding cooldowns for long periods, which is almost always a bad idea.
If the intent of this change is to nerf Mythic+ mages, then it misses the mark since Combustione Critica
has far less of an impact in Mythic+ because Colonna di Fuoco
doesn’t affect Combustione Critica
. If the intent is to nerf AoE, it also doesn’t have as much of an effect for the exact same reason. If the intent here is to nerf Fire Mage in raiding, it will have that result but mostly in the frustration it will cause in having Combustione
almost fit cooldown timings but miss it by 10 seconds. If Blizzard truly wanted to nerf Fire Mage in Raiding and Mythic+ they could just change the spec aura. In my opinion, this is a case of unintended consequences since Combustione Critica
is a talent choice that almost all Fire Mages take. I believe Blizzard is looking at this as a way to help balance the talent row while also helping curb Fire’s strength in Mythic+. Likely the end result of this change will be that Fire Mages will continue to run Combustione Critica
, but be more reliant on buffs such as Silfide Benevolo
and Infusione di Potere
to make cooldowns fit. A silver-lining is that Combustione Critica
will continue to become better as our gear improves over the expansion. If this change isn’t reverted, there will probably be a time where Combustione
gets back to the one minute mark, eventually.
The last change is a 20% nerf to Cascata Infernale
, which is about the same difference between ilvl 200 and 226. Infernal Cascade is a very strong conduit compared to its peers and a nerf to it is justified to bring it more inline with other conduits. That being said, I'm not sure if pairing this nerf with an 8% nerf to Combustione Critica
makes much sense.
This change is likely being made with the intent to bring Cascata Infernale
closer to other conduits while also reducing Fire Mage burst. The overall effect of this change is Fire Mages will still run the conduit, but it is around a 1.5% nerf to Fire Mage.
In summary, these changes seek to knock Mythic+ Fires down a peg, and are mostly justified. None of these changes will affect much in how the class is played or what Fire is known for. That being said, the change to Combustione Critica
will have far reaching consequences and I believe it should be reevaluated. It's still very early so there is still time for this change to be reverted.