So Cynwyn is in Shadowfang Keep, right? She’s spamming Frostbolts and her DPS is really sucking. I mean, say what you will about DPSers looking at Recount in the middle of a fight, but really, the tank shouldn’t be out-DPSing me here. I’m like, listen, little Frost Mage, have some Mage pride and do some damage, and she’s all, I’m casting them as fast as I can, STOP JUDGING ME. And I’m all, cast faster! And she’s all, you didn’t give me Improved Frostbolt, so unless someone pops Heroism, this is as good as it gets.
No, really. Don’t you have these conversations with your characters? No?
Hmmm. Likely story.
So I start searching around for something to make up for Frostbolt’s dismal performance. Arcane Missles are there, but they suck mana like blood elves at a mana picnic. Fire Blast has too much of a CD, but wait… didn’t I use to have something that hurled big balls of fire… I’ve got that mapped somewhere, right? On the … T key? Odd. Why is it over there? Let’s give it a try.
Woah. Boom! Heh.
Suddenly, the worgen were dying a LOT faster. Wow. Those Fireballs might have been slow, but they sure packed a wallop. Cynwyn’s DPS soared along with her renewed Mage pride, and she was gracious enough to not call me a noob.
There was an important lesson in that episode for me, and it wasn’t just that Fire burns. It was that I’d brought a concept from later in the game — talent tree specialization — and applied it waaay to early. Level 19 is too soon to have invested enough points in any tree to have picked up their defining features.
Furthermore, a leveling character is working towards a specialization and doesn’t want to respec every few levels to optimize for this set of abilities. A twink, however, has her full set of abilities right now, and will never get past the second level of talents.
In other words, a leveling character is looking down the talent tree, picking some goals and working towards them. A twink needs to look across the trees at just the first two rows and take those talents that suit their current roles. The view must be horizontal, not vertical.
So my real mistake was thinking Cynwyn was a Frost Mage. She’s not. She’s a Mage. Period. Frostbolts, Fireballs, Arcane Explosions — I have to start using all the tools available to me and not get stuck in an endgame mindset. Just as there are no Destruction or Demonology Warlocks at this level, the Frost, Fire, and Arcane labels do not apply yet.
I started experimenting on that SFK run with spells I didn’t use that often. For AoE mobs, hitting them with Arcane Explosion until my mana ran low, followed by a Frost Nova and hasty retreat, gave me huge DPS numbers on trash mobs. (It also left me /oom, but it was worth it.) Arcane Missles or Fire Blast worked well on mobs who were dying quickly, and Fireballs were the way to go on bosses. Frostbolts – especially level 1 Frostbolts – were great for stopping runners.
When I teleported out of that dungeon, my first stop was to the Mage trainer to unlearn my current talent build and look at the trees, sideways. I’m not sure if I’m happy with the build I have right now (2/2 Improved Fire Blast, 3/3 Frostbite, 2/3 Ice Floes, 3/3 Permafrost) but I’ll take her back in to the Gulch and let you know how it works out. I want to see if Permafrost is as potent as I think it is.
And as for Fireballs?
Expect to see a lot more of them in the future.