Mages, ten-man raiding, and other things that are awesome.

I’ve been seeing a disturbing mage trend lately. Sometimes folks send me armory links (their own, a friend’s, a guildmates’, whatever). Sometimes these armories reveal things. Horrible things, people. Mages with strength shoulder enchants. Mages with all blue gems. Although I’m primarily concerned with Fire these days, Intellect is the strongest stat for all mage builds. But it’s not aimed at them and so statements about secondary stats (crit, haste) may not hold true. Use at your own risk, your mileage may vary, etc.

Seeing Red

Gemming a fire mage is simple!

You want Brilliant Inferno Rubies.

Lots and lots of Brilliant Inferno Rubies. Intellect is far and away our most powerful stat. A red socket? Put a red gem in it.

So many beautiful red gems.

Now this next part is, I think, where many mages get tripped up. It’s extremely tempting when you see a socket of a particular colour to want to put a gem that will match that colour. We’re taught this as kids, right? Sorting games, matching games, all your crayons colour-sorted (okay, maybe that was just me).

You must let this go.

Whenever you’re gemming any piece of gear, take a critical look at what you stand to gain and lose. For example, take these Firelord’s Gloves. They have a yellow socket. The socket bonus is +10 Mastery, which you could achieve if you used an orange Reckless Ember Topaz. In that case you’d have +20 Int, +20 Haste, and +10 Mastery. But it’s not worth it. You’re losing 20 Int by not gemming an Inferno Ruby, and Int should be your priority.

Now let’s look at another piece of tier gear, something a bit trickier, the Firelord’s Leggings. Now these have a red socket (no brainer) and a yellow socket. But look at the socket bonus – it’s +20 Int. You could put an Inferno Ruby in each socket and you’d have +80 int gain from gems. Or, if you put a red (+40) and an orange (+20 Int/+20 Haste) you’d also meet the socket requirements so you’d have a total of +80 Int and +20 Haste. In this case you stand to gain by using an orange gem, but unless the socket bonus on a piece is 20 Intellect or greater, it will almost always be a DPS loss to gem other than red.

Hit Me With Your Best Shot

I’m anticipating you here. But what about hit gems, you say. I’m so far below the hit cap, I can’t possibly hit the cap without using gems. I still stand by no blue gems, period. At the beginning of the expansion when our meta gems were loopy you could argue a case for blue gems. The hit cap can seem a distant goal. First, you have to be familiar with other ways to reach the hit cap. Investigate hit trinkets (like the one from Tol Barad) and reforge your weakest stats to hit on all your gear wherever possible. For fire mages, this means mastery. Reforge mastery because it’s really not great. Seek gear with hit on it, and see how close you are at that point. If you’re close, consider that you may be hit-capped and you will do less DPS than a mage who is not hit-capped but has more Int.

I know, it’s radical. We’re bludgeoned with hit cap this and hit cap that. And don’t get me wrong, it’s important to reach the hit cap. But hit is only important up until the point where it isn’t – and perhaps even close to that point. Over the past month my hit has varied from between about 16.5% and 17%. Having all of my spells hitting harder (with more spellpower, more int!) is, I believe, better for me than killing myself to reach the hit cap. Look at everywhere you can obtain hit (enchants, reforging, gear) and seek it through those avenues first before devoting your gemming to it. In any slot where you are sacrificing potential Intellect, realize that you will be hurting your DPS.

Much like the Firelord’s Leggings above, there will sometimes be pieces of gear where having a purple hybrid gem to gain a socket bonus IS worthwhile. In these cases, by all means, use an Intellect/Hit gem. That extra twenty hit will be invaluable and it’s just icing on the delicious intellect cake we so love to conjure.

If you want to read about this in more depth, the Fire Mage Compendium at EJ is excellent and should cover all of your needs. I can’t recommend it enough. I know not everybody wants to read EJ though, you may just have a mage alt you like to play from time to time, or whatever. So, the TL;DR version:

Gem red, unless the socket bonus is equal to what you’d stand to gain from gemming red anyway. Grab as much Int as you can. Reforge your gear to gain the hit you need and seek gear with hit already on it. Remember the in-game tooltip shows you how much hit you have versus various level creatures, and you only need 17% hit if you’re going to be raiding. Your DPS might be higher if you aren’t quite at the hit cap even for raiding, but use this advice with caution. It’s one of those ‘you have to know the rules before you can break the rules’ things. If you just want to run 5-person content, load up on Int and never look back!

Comments on: "Fire Mage Gemming: A Quick Overview" (19)

  1. Obviously you know this, but the rule I always give friends who are new to gemming and reforging is this: You can reforge to get more Hit. You cannot reforge to get more Intellect. Hence, gem Intellect, reforge for Hit.

    Passing this link on to my guildie mage friend! 😀

  2. crimsonjoe said:

    Quick question- after Int and Hit, what stat is third on the priority list? I’ve always thought for fire mages it’s crit, but some of the sites I’ve seen put haste as equal or greater than crit. This is more for reforging than gemming.

    • This is a sticky question, and the answer is, “It really depends.” Due to Fire’s dependence on Crit, in an ideal world you’d say, “Crit wins, hands down!” but it’s not so simple. I’m not sure if you know about ignite munching. To make a long story short (and you can read more about it at the link, if you’re so inclined) it means that crit isn’t always as valuable as it may otherwise appear.

      The magic number for haste is 516 – that gives you an extra tick on Living Bomb which should result in a DPS increase. The functional answer for the crit vs haste debate is that it depends on your gear, and the only way to get an accurate picture of that is to plug your character into a simcraft (Rawr or etc.) Otherwise, you aren’t avoiding crit but just recognize that it may not give you as much bang for your buck right now as haste will. I’ve personally reforged much of my crit into haste so that now they are more or less equally valued for me. I’d say you want to try to keep them balanced – you still NEED crit but don’t put all your eggs in that crit basket, make sure your casts are also happening quickly enough that you are pumping out damage even if you have an unlucky series of ignite munches.

      • The answer is not sticky at all. Yes, ignite munching sucks but crit is better than haste unless you can hit one the haste benchmarks. You say 516 haste gives you an extra tick on LB, which is correct but from what I remember, 516 is easy to get in gear from heroics. The next haste benchmark comes at 812, which adds an extra tick to combustion. 812 is easy to attain in 359 raid gear. After that, you need some absurd amount of haste (1996 to be exact) to hit the extra tick on anything. Unless you can hit one of these benchmarks, haste is pretty much useless.

        As far as ignite munching, I’d rather see a 15k ignite munched to 5k vs not having an ignite to begin with because I never crit to get that ignite.

        Also, beware of Rawr. If you don’t have it set up correctly, it will not optimize your gear properly.

        I’ve got a post on my blog of my thinking on all the secondary stats…

  3. Blizz cheated with the Burning Shadowspirit Diamond meta.

    They’re essentially acknowledging that mages aren’t not going to gem blue or yellow unless you’re forced into it, so they gave up.

    • Hahah. I told Voss yesterday, “Having a three red requirement for our meta gem is like telling me, ‘You have to eat more pasta for your health!'” I was going to eat the pasta anyway. Maybe that’s only funny if you know how much I like pasta. (Almost as much as I like red gems).

      • /snicker

        BTW, did you change your e-mail address, or is it still the one listed in your “About Me”? I tried e-mailing you, but I kept getting a notice that it was an invalid address.

      • No, it should be that one! puggingpally That’s odd, I have gotten e-mails from it (even today) and nobody has mentioned anything.

  4. I’ve been struggling with dps recently (on my fire mage) because I’m so ingrained for years and years as a tank or healer. I’m not sure what my numbers should be (never being paired with other mages in dungeons), so I feel out in the woods. I certainly have been getting my socket bonuses (even though I was good about that and didn’t in WotLK with my resto druid), but seeing your post has made me reconsider and go gem straight for Int where it’s better. Thanks!

    • It’s my pleasure! I hope that a bit of regemming sees your damage climbing. It can be a tough adjustment from one role to another, and it’s partly why I enjoy healing alts, I think. As long as everyone lives, I’ve done my job and can relax a little instead of always wondering “Am I measuring up? Is the damage I’m doing ‘enough’?”

      p.s. Are you Stubborn from Sheep The Diamond, or am I thinking of a different Stubborn? If so, I’ve been enjoying your blog recently!

  5. You would be surprised at the number of people still advocating Hit over Int and for a long time I fought I was fighting a losing battle on this one – so I had a massive smile on my face when I saw this XD

    Especially now that counterspell won’t miss, being hit capped is not as important as it once was – within reason of course. Obviously if you have no hit rating then there’s gonna be problems but ranginf from perhaps as low as 14.5% any DPS loss from misses is made up for by the increase in spellpower.

    So hurrah for more enquiring posts which are prepared to debunk old myths and hangovers from Wrath days XD

  6. >_> I very much hope you haven’t been looking at my armory.

    My strategy for gemming Rhii has been “what cuts does my JC have lying around that are reasonably casterish” resulting in a lot of gems that don’t have int on them at all! Heehee. I suppose my mainly-for-farming alt doesn’t need to be perfectly itemized, but I still like to keep my characters presentable. I think perhaps I should go buy myself a nice stack of inferno rubies…

  7. Thanks for this post I’m new to the Mage world and this has been bugging me since I hit 85, I have to say I’m in love with the Mage now and have been neglecting my Holy/Ret Paly ever since I rolled this toon….Please don’t tell him though!

  8. […] discusses gemming for fire mages and what stats you should be looking […]

  9. […] discusses gemming for fire mages and what stats you should be looking […]

  10. […] Vidyala’s Gemming for Fire Mages post […]

  11. […] yellow socket gems for fire mages I think you know what to do. (Hint: The answer is not yellow and it’s probably not orange but you never […]

  12. […] Vidyala’s Gemming for Fire Mages post […]

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