Lhivera’s Library

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A Look at Mage AOE in Mists of Pandaria

Saturday, March 24 2012 at 11:20pm CDT

Ever since the initial introduction of the "bomb" tier of Mage talents, there's been a lot of speculation about how they measure up to each other in various situations. Now that we have some real (but likely to change!) numbers on the various spells we can use for AOE, we can really start to look at how they might be used, and how effective they are in combination with the various spells we can use to fill the GCDs they leave available.

(Important: In preparing my coefficients post, I realized that I had forgotten that DOT tooltip damage takes extra ticks from haste into account. In short, this entire analysis has Living Bomb and Nether Tempest benefiting from Haste, but not Frost Bomb. I will rework the numbers with the extra ticks removed...but not tonight, as I don't recall how much haste I had on, and the server's down.)

A quick refresher

  • Nether Tempest is the new name for what was called Arcane Bomb. It is cast (instantly) on a single target, and every time it ticks, it chooses a random secondary target within ten yards and lobs a little arcane blob at it for half the tick damage. It takes twelve seconds to deliver all its damage, and can be placed on any number of targets. Like most DOTs, its tick speed is increased with haste, gradually reducing the duration of the spell until an additional tick can be added to bring it back to full duration.
  • Living Bomb is our old friend from the Fire tree. It is cast (instantly, and with a short one-second GCD) on a single target, ticks for twelve seconds, and then detonates, damaging its primary target and two other targets within ten yards. It can be placed on a maximum of three targets at once. Living Bomb is also affected by haste like other DOTs.
  • Frost Bomb is cast (with a 1.5-second cast time) on a single target; after six seconds, it explodes, dealing full damage to the primary target and half damage to every other target within ten yards. It has a ten-second cooldown. Frost Bomb is affected rather uniquely by haste, which reduces both its countdown and its cooldown; in other words, if you have 20% haste, it will take 5 seconds to detonate and can be recast after 8.33 seconds.
  • All three bombs are intended to be used in single-target rotation by any spec, and produce similar DPS (more on this in a bit). Each is intended to be stronger than the others in certain situations, depending on the number of secondary targets and various other factors.

A few important caveats

  • All these numbers are based on level 85. I have approximate coefficients for the spells, but as with everything else, they may change, and without knowing level 90 spell power levels, we don't know how influential those coefficients will be.
  • Each individual spec has its own ways of complicating these numbers, which I'm not going into here. Arcane can use a GCD on a fully-stacked Arcane Barrage to hit several targets hard to open the AOE, for example. Fire can throw a hefty DOT spread into the mix (heftier than a Frost or Arcane Mage with Glyph of Fire Blast). Frost has Frozen Orb, and with Glyph of Ice Lance may often find it profitable to use the FOF charges it generates. I'm ignoring these variations for now and presenting a more generic look at how the bombs fit together with other AOE spells.
  • This is a comparison of the AOE abilities only. Depending on your spec and talents, you probably won't actually use these combinations of spells against a small number of targets. For example, if you've got Frost Bomb, you'll probably just keep up a single-target rotation with 2-4 targets, supplementing your damage with multitarget Barrage, glyphed Ice Lance when FOF procs, or Inferno Blast DOT spreading, without filling any GCDs with AOE spells, and see much better numbers than the list below would imply. But this is not a comparison of the various ways each spec might handle a three-target situation with each bomb; it's purely a comparison of the bombs themselves, the AOE spells that can fill the GCD's they leave empty, and the number of targets at which the bombs shift relative power. 

The Short Version

Number of TargetsBomb Cycle Ranking (one > is approximately equal to a 10% difference)
1Nether Tempest > Living Bomb ~= Frost Bomb
2Living Bomb (spread) > Nether Tempest > Living Bomb >>>> Frost Bomb
3Living Bomb (spread) > Living Bomb >>>> Nether Tempest >>>> Frost Bomb
4Living Bomb (spread) > Living Bomb >> Nether Tempest >>> Frost Bomb
5Living Bomb (spread) > Living Bomb > Nether Tempest > Frost Bomb
6Living Bomb (spread) > Living Bomb > Frost Bomb ~= Nether Tempest
7Frost Bomb > Living Bomb (spread) > Living Bomb >> Nether Tempest
8Frost Bomb > Living Bomb (spread) > Living Bomb >> No bomb (fillers only) ~= Nether Tempest

The Long Version

There are basically three loose groupings:

  • Bombs do 18000-19500 damage to a single target, and half damage to some number of secondary targets.
  • Spec fillers are a vague category that, for the sake of argument, I'm saying do 5000 damage to every target, and can be used once per cycle. This is pretty representative of Frozen Orb. Other spec-specific fillers may do more damage but to fewer targets, or may not be always usable; a rough approximation will have to do here.
  • Class fillers are Blizzard, Flamestrike and Arcane Explosion. Each of these does similar damage (in the 3200-3500 range) per target per GCD. I'll use the 3500 number for our purposes.

Each bomb uses one GCD per target it can be applied to, after which fillers are used.

  • Nether Tempest uses no fillers.
  • Living Bomb uses only 2/3 of a GCD per cast. It uses a spec filler after the third cast (on the third GCD). It uses a class filler on the fourth and subsequent GCDs.
  • Living bomb (spread) uses one GCD, followed by a second used on a Blast to spread the bomb. It uses a spec filler on the third GCD, and a class filler on the fourth and subsequent GCDs. Its total cycle is 0.5 sec shorter than the others; to account for this, I'll multiply its total damage by 1.043.
  • Frost Bomb uses one GCD, then a spec filler, and class fillers on the third through sixth GCD's. Its shorter cooldown allows the application of a second bomb on the seventh GCD, and the eighth adds a fifth class filler.
  • It's important to remember that spreading Living Bomb requires the use of a major glyph slot, which, given the variety of new glyphs, may mean making a difficult choice to give something else up.

1 Target

These are rounded values close to what I saw in my 85 gear
Nether Tempest: 19500
Frost Bomb: 18000
Living Bomb: 18000
Frozen Orb: 5000
Flamestrike: 3600
Blizzard: 3200
Arcane Explosion: 3200
Fire Blast/Inferno Blast: 6800

2 Targets

Living Bomb (spread): 63,414
Bomb primary: 18000 * 2 = 36000
Bomb secondary: 9000 * 2 = 18000
Blast: 6800
Total: 60800 * 1.043 = 63414.4

Nether Tempest: 58,500
Bomb primary: 19500 * 2 = 39000
Bomb secondary: 9750 * 2 = 19500
Total: 58500

Living Bomb: 54,000
Bomb primary: 18000 * 2 = 36000
Bomb secondary: 9000 * 2 = 18000
Total: 54000

Frost Bomb: 37,000
Bomb primary: 18000
Bomb secondary: 9000
Spec filler: 5000 * 2 = 10000
Total: 37000

3 Targets

Living Bomb (spread): 135,381
Bomb primary: 18000 * 3 = 54000
Bomb secondary: 9000 * 2 * 3 = 54000
Blast: 6800
Spec filler: 5000 * 3 = 15000
Total: 129800 * 1.043 = 135381.4

Living Bomb: 123,000
Bomb primary: 18000 * 3 = 54000
Bomb secondary: 9000 * 2 * 3 = 54000
Spec filler: 5000 * 3 = 15000
Total: 123000

Nether Tempest: 87,750
Bomb primary: 19500 * 3 = 58500
Bomb secondary: 9750 * 3 = 29250
Total: 87750

Frost Bomb: 61,500
Bomb primary: 18000
Bomb secondary: 9000 * 2 = 18000
Spec filler: 5000 * 3 = 15000
Class filler: 3500 * 3 = 10500
Total: 61500

4 Targets

Living Bomb (spread): 155,198
Bomb primary: 18000 * 3 = 54000
Bomb secondary: 9000 * 2 * 3 = 54000
Blast: 6800
Spec filler: 5000 * 4 = 20000
Class filler: 3500 * 4 = 14000
Total: 148800 * 1.043 = 155198.4

Living Bomb: 142,000
Bomb primary: 18000 * 3 = 54000
Bomb secondary: 9000 * 2 * 3 = 54000
Spec filler: 5000 * 4 = 20000
Class filler: 3500 * 4 = 14000
Total: 142000

Nether Tempest: 117,000
Bomb primary: 19500 * 4 = 78000
Bomb secondary: 9750 * 4 = 39000
Total: 117000

Frost Bomb: 93,000
Bomb primary: 18000
Bomb secondary: 9000 * 3 = 27000
Spec filler: 5000 * 4 = 20000
Class filler: 3500 * 4 * 2 = 28000
Total: 93000

5 Targets

Living Bomb (spread): 182,316
Bomb primary: 18000 * 3 = 54000
Bomb secondary: 9000 * 2 * 3 = 54000
Blast: 6800
Spec filler: 5000 * 5 = 25000
Class filler: 3500 * 5 * 2 = 35000
Total: 174800 * 1.043 = 182316.4

Living Bomb: 168,000
Bomb primary: 18000 * 3 = 54000
Bomb secondary: 9000 * 2 * 3 = 54000
Spec filler: 5000 * 5 = 25000
Class filler: 3500 * 5 * 2 = 35000
Total: 168000

Nether Tempest: 146,250
Bomb primary: 19500 * 5 = 97500
Bomb secondary: 9750 * 5 = 48750
Total: 146250

Frost Bomb: 131,500
Bomb primary: 18000
Bomb secondary: 9000 * 4 = 36000
Spec filler: 5000 * 5 = 25000
Class filler: 3500 * 5 * 3 = 52500
Total: 131500

6 Targets

Living Bomb (spread): 216,735
Bomb primary: 18000 * 3 = 54000
Bomb secondary: 9000 * 2 * 3 = 54000
Blast: 6800
Spec filler: 5000 * 6 = 30000
Class filler: 3500 * 6 * 3 = 63000
Total: 207800 * 1.043 = 216735.4

Living Bomb: 201,000
Bomb primary: 18000 * 3 = 54000
Bomb secondary: 9000 * 2 * 3 = 54000
Spec filler: 5000 * 6 = 30000
Class filler: 3500 * 6 * 3 = 63000
Total: 201000

Frost Bomb: 177,000
Bomb primary: 18000
Bomb secondary: 9000 * 5 = 45000
Spec filler: 5000 * 6 = 30000
Class filler: 3500 * 6 * 4 = 84000
Total: 177000

Nether Tempest: 175,000
Bomb primary: 19500 * 6 = 117000
Bomb secondary: 9750 * 6 = 58500
Total: 175500

7 Targets

Frost Bomb: 277,000
Bomb primary: 18000 * 2 = 36000
Bomb secondary: 9000 * 6 * 2 = 108000
Spec filler: 5000 * 7 = 35000
Class filler: 3500 * 7 * 4 = 98000
Total: 277000

Living Bomb (spread): 258,455
Bomb primary: 18000 * 3 = 54000
Bomb secondary: 9000 * 2 * 3 = 54000
Blast: 6800
Spec filler: 5000 * 7 = 35000
Class filler: 3500 * 7 * 4 = 98000
Total: 247800 * 1.043 = 258455.4

Living Bomb: 241,000
Bomb primary: 18000 * 3 = 54000
Bomb secondary: 9000 * 2 * 3 = 54000
Spec filler: 5000 * 7 = 35000
Class filler: 3500 * 7 * 4 = 98000
Total: 241000

Nether Tempest: 204,750
Bomb primary: 19500 * 7 = 136500
Bomb secondary: 9750 * 7 = 68250
Total: 204750

8 Targets

Frost Bomb: 342,000
Bomb primary: 18000 * 2 = 36000
Bomb secondary: 9000 * 7 * 2 = 126000
Spec filler: 5000 * 8 = 40000
Class filler: 3500 * 8 * 5 = 140000
Total: 342000

Living Bomb (spread): 307,476
Bomb primary: 18000 * 3 = 54000
Bomb secondary: 9000 * 2 * 3 = 54000
Blast: 6800
Spec filler: 5000 * 8 = 40000
Class filler: 3500 * 8 * 5 = 140000
Total: 294800 * 1.043 = 307476.4

Living Bomb: 288,000
Bomb primary: 18000 * 3 = 54000
Bomb secondary: 9000 * 2 * 3 = 54000
Spec filler: 5000 * 8 = 40000
Class filler: 3500 * 8 * 5 = 140000
Total: 288000

No Bomb: 236,000
Spec filler: 5000 * 8 = 40000
Class filler: 3500 * 8 * 7 = 196000
Total: 236000

Nether Tempest: 234,000
Bomb primary: 19500 * 8 = 156000
Bomb secondary: 9750 * 8 = 78000
Total: 234000

Final Thoughts

Each bomb clearly has some things it's better at than the others. Nether Tempest gives you a big more single-target DPS and is strongest with few targets. Living Bomb is the powerhouse on your typical 3-6 targets situation. And Frost Bomb shines when you have more than six targets, and/or it's useful to slow them down.

But this doesn't necessarily mean you're going to be switching bombs around for every encounter. An Arcane Mage using multi-target Arcane Barrage, a Fire Mage making more liberal use of DOT-spreading, or a Frost Mage taking advantage of the many Fingers of Frost procs provided by Frozen Orb to launch glyphed Ice Lances can all hit targets with high-damage spells in ways that can compensate for a bomb's weakness in a given situation. It's likely that it'll be possible to narrow these gaps considerably, making the bombs not so much tools you must select for a given job, unless you are on the bleeding edge of progression, but instead something that determines your AOE playstyle.

Comments

Submitted by Fennor on

Why do you have two frost bombs in one cycle for 7 and 8 targets? Sure, the CD is a little lower, so you can recast it earlier. But won't the value of frost bomb decrease for the next 12 seconds? I mean, for the  next 12 seconds you have a completly different cycle, because frost bomb is on CD at the beginning, while the first 12 seconds of nether tempest will be exactly the same like seconds 12-24. Did I just miss something?

http://www.mmo-champion.com/threads/1105073-Nether-Tempest scroll to post #12 if you want to see my opinion.


Submitted by Lhivera on

I'm not assuming any particular duration for the entire cycle; duration actually factors in, but depending on the duration you select, it can cut in pretty much any direction. For example, if all the mobs die after seven seconds, Frost Bomb has a signifiant advantage because it's delivered 100% of its damage while the other bombs have delivered only 58. On the other hand, if the mobs die after five seconds, Frost Bomb hasn't delivered any damage at all. And then if we bump it up to sixteen seconds, Frost Bomb has delivered two payloads while the other two have only delivered one and a third.

In a more extensive analysis, of course we can figure out which bomb and which fillers produce the best result for a given number of targets with a given duration, but this was intended simply to illustrate how the damage mounts up for a given bomb as you add targets and GCD's that can accept fillers. An open-ended analysis like this is often more useful than one that deals with specific durations, because unless you have a very specific encounter in mind, it's very hard to find a duration everyone agrees is representative.

Submitted by Fennor on

But for me it looks like there is a given duration in your example. And that is 12 seconds.

For example 8 targets. There are 3 conditions.

-The mage faces 8 enemy targets

-The mage casts for exactly 12 seconds

-The targets survive at least for 24 seconds, otherwise nether tempest couldn't tick for its full amount like it does in your example

I think you are saying the 12 seconds are not a given duration of the fight, they are just the time it takes to cast all the spells. But I think these aren't proper cycles. I think your cycles only work for an active time of 12 seconds.

For 8 targets you are saying:

Frost Bomb: 342,000

Bomb primary: 18000 * 2 = 36000             

Bomb secondary: 9000 * 7 * 2 = 126000

Spec filler: 5000 * 8 = 40000                    

Class filler: 3500 * 8 * 5 = 140000            

Total: 342000

The factors *2, *1 and *5 say how often the spells are cast, right? So you cast frost bomb twice, spec filler once and the class filler 5 times. So in which order do we cast the spells? I guess that would be:

00:000 start casting frost bomb (1.5 sec cast)

01:500 casting frost bomb finished, cast spec filler

03:000 cast class filler

04:500 cast class filler

06:000 cast class filler

07:500 cast class filler

09:000 cast class filler

10:500 start casting frost bomb (I am not sure whether the CD starts counting when the mage starts to cast frost bomb or when he finishes the spell, so maybe it isn't ready yet)

12:000 casting frost bomb finished

For me that is not a complete cycle, because you can't repeat it. Frost bomb will be on CD. That means your example only works for an active time of 12 seconds, but the adds survive at least 18 seconds because the second frost bomb also explodes. If you would try to continue for another 12 seconds you have a completly different cycle.

12:000 cast spec filler

13:500 cast class filler

15:000 cast class filler

16:500 cast class filler

18:000 cast class filler

19:500 cast class filler

21:000 start casting frost bomb

22:500 casting frost bomb finished, cast spec filler

24:000 cast class filler

So you can cast frost bomb only once and deal less damage overall than you did in the first 12 seconds. So your math "implies" a duration of 12 seconds because it only works for those 12 seconds. For nether tempest it works. You cast it 8 times for 234000 damage total and that works for every duration, because the next 12 seconds would look like the same: 8 times nether tempest for another 234000 damage and 12 seconds.

Or am I just completely missing the point?

Submitted by Lhivera on

Once you hit that point, you're largely repeating cycles. We could, of course, extend the thing longer, and the numbers would continue to shift around some; I used twelve simply because that's the cycle time for the longer to bomb durations (and remains their cycle time, regardless of haste, give or take a couple of seconds as ticks are added), and because I had reached what seemed like a reasonable target maximum. I suppose I could have stopped at 60 seconds, when the two cycles sync up again, but I think this was enough for people to get the point of how the spare GCD's can be filled and how those additional spells can add up as you add targets. If you wanted to get a more precise result for a specific timeframe and a specific number of targets, you could do so by cutting off the damage at the end of the timeframe you chose.

If there's some specific scenario you're interested in, we could take a look at it, but I can say pretty confidently from past experience that it will be very difficult to get people to agree that your specific scenario is representative. Which doesn't mean it's not worth doing.

 And yes, Nether Tempest can deliver an entire additional round of payloads in that time, but even ignoring the fact that at ten targets, it's not as strong as just using the class fillers, what if the cutoff is in fact 18 seconds? This is a highly generic comparison intended to show how the bombs interact with the fillers and the number of targets. Making aspecific comparison of strength requires a specific well-defined scenario, and tha wasn't really the intent here.

Submitted by Lhivera on

Tell you all what: suggest 4-5 specific scenarios — number of targets and how long it takes them to die — and we'll take a look at them in a follow-up post. I'll put out the request on Twitter as well.

Submitted by Fennor on

8 targets with 5.000.000 hp. (Or even an infinite fight) I want to see whether frost bomb or living bomb (spread) deals more damage on very long AoE fights. 8 targets because I think at this point both are very close together.
A simple question first: Frost bomb has a 1.5 sec cast time. Does the CD start counting when the mage starts casting, or does it when he finishes casting the spell?

Submitted by Lhivera on

We can't really go by health, because we have no data on how much damage other players would be doing — unless you want to assume only the Mage is attacking the targets, which is doable. You thinking like a two-minute period?

The cooldown starts at the end of casting, which I forgot to take into account above; I'll correct this when I'm home.

Submitted by Kelmor on

Is it less effective to cast nether tempest on multiple targets vs just taking the glyph of fireblast and spreading lving bomb with one spell and then moving on to other aoes?

Submitted by Lhivera on

Spreadable Living Bomb is moderately better than regular Living Bomb, both of which become more effective than Nether Tempest at a pretty low number of targets, assuming the targets live long enough.

Submitted by Lhivera on

...he said, channeling Arrested Development.

In preparing my coefficients post, I realized that I had forgotten that DOT tooltip damage takes extra ticks from haste into account. In short, this entire analysis has Living Bomb and Nether Tempest benefiting from Haste, but not Frost Bomb. I will rework the numbers with the extra ticks removed...but not tonight, as I don't recall how much haste I had on, and the server's down.