Extensive (but hopefully constructive) Criticism of the Fire Mage Talent Tree

Hello! I’m Pyrha, a fire mage main for the last decade almost! I’m of the genuine belief that fire has been the best it’s been design wise in Shadowlands and I’m very happy with both its playstyle and its niche, however the talent tree shown has left me slightly concerned.
I’m just doing my part as a mage player to voice my criticism of what honestly feels like a mostly unfinished tree, for both the main mage tree and how it relates to fire.
So let’s begin with the criticisms of the mage tree:

  1. Minor complaint, but the whole point of a class tree is to have universal abilities for all 3 specs, while the spec tree decides which abilities are spec specific. It makes little sense for the barrier type to change depending on spec despite it being on the class tree. If you insist on it being on the class tree, then make it a generic “magic barrier” ability that then changes when you switch specs.

  2. It makes absolutely no sense for fire mage to ever have access to shatter. I appreciate that you’re allowing more multicasting options for mage but this passive is not it, fire’s entire gimmick is the fact that it can enter a burst window to guarantee crits, shatter could be useful to fish for hot streak procs on targets that can be cc’d, but the criteria is far too limiting. It would first need to be a target you can root, and then you need to fit your cast on that rooted target in that split second before it breaks (almost instantly in group content), and that is impossible outside of an instant cast proc of pyro or flamestrike. It’s far too restrictive and niche in its use to be incorporated as a universal passive for mage when 90% of its functionality on frost isn’t even its use on cc’d targets.

  3. Rune of power/Incanter Flow’s placement on the tree is very poor, there is a large myriad of content where you get zero use out of both slow and spellsteal, to lock one of our biggest throughput options behind either is a bad idea. If you insist on keeping rune of power (which I personally prefer if you don’t), then it needs to be far higher up in the tree.

  4. Likewise, from a thematic and functional perspective it makes no sense for shimmer and icefloes to be where they are, our strongest movement options should not be locked behind a bundle of cc and utility. It and the Blast Wave/Mass Polymorph node should switch places, on account of the right side of the tree being a lot more mobility oriented (incantation of swiftness, alter time, and temporal velocity)

  5. Same logic again, diverted energy is completely misplaced, it provides zero throughput and its primary functionality is sustain. There is no reason it should be gatekeeping one of our strongest cc’s as well as meteor.

  6. On that note, whats the reasoning behind the dragon’s breath cd nerf? (from 18 to 45 seconds) Im assuming the intent is so that you alternate the uses between dragon’s breath and blast wave which more or less fulfill the same purpose. Either that or you do not want the other two mage specs to have access to a spammable disorient. But in which case, fire should definitely get a talent in it’s spec specific tree that reduces the cooldown of Dragon’s Breath, and Alextraza’s fury could be nerfed accordingly if the concern is it being too strong. There’s no reason to gut one of our most powerful utility spells in M+, especially seeing as mage doesn’t bring a lot of it to begin with compared to other classes. A good talent to put this CDR on or next to would be Phoenix Reborn, which is likely there to accomplish the similar purpose of add control, though I imagine its proc rate would have to be reduced as a result.

  7. Both shifting power and time anomaly are locked behind a ludicrous amount of potentially unwanted utility, 3 points in frigid winds and 1 point in ice ward/ring of frost just to access shifting power is absolutely criminal, likewise, 3 points in flow of time and a point into greater invis to get time anomaly is arguably even worse.
    This entire class tree suffers heavily from locking valuable throughput options behind pages and pages of utility that in the best case is situational and in the worst case is utterly useless in the encounter of choice.

The point of the class trees is to provide the player options with how they approach their build, choosing to add or remove things that may or may not assist in the encounter of choice.

The mage tree runs completely counter to that, having to invest copious amounts of points into what feels like arbitrarily linked talents to get what you want.
And On the note of arbitrary linkage. Defensives, mobility, crowd control and throughput is all over this tree with no rhyme or reason behind why one is required for the other.
For instance, why do I have to choose blast wave and/or tempest barrier (cc and health) to access Tome of Antonidas (A haste buff) to then have access to Master of time, despite the fact I picked alter time ages ago by this point.
By the same token, why is shifting power, one of our strongest AoE throughput options locked behind 5 rows of nothing but crowd control and damage reduction.
This tree needs serious cleaning up. CC options, Mobility Options, And Defensives need to be all cleanly separated so you know how deep into any of the three you want to go. Overlap between the three can and needs to exist, but it needs to be an option, not a requirement.
Likewise, throughput options need to not be locked behind several rows of potentially undesirable utility and CC, a raid boss typically does not require any crowd control and yet I am forced to pick these options just to get to the damage portion of the tree. This is a philosophy also present on a few other trees and needs to be completely abandoned. Make the connection between different throughput options make sense, and make the CC, Mobility, and Defensives parts of the trees cleanly separate with the option of overlap should the mage choose to invest in it.

The fire tree in comparison has a much stronger showing but still has its own host of issues.
The core is strong, both spenders (Pyroblast and flamestrike) are early and the left side of the tree branches into single target while the right side branches into AoE, combustion is down the very center. All very elegant.
It’s once the tree begins to go a bit further down that it falls apart.

  1. For one, seeing as the way the tree is framed makes it seem like the left side is meant for ST damage and right for AoE, however theres the questionable presence of a lot of talents that do not belong on the side they’re on.
    For instance, why is Alextrasza’s Fury and Phoenix Reborn on the ST side of the tree, while Pyroclasm, a notoriously ST only talent is on the AoE side of the tree.
    And if the intent is not for one half of the tree to be for AoE and the other for ST, then the talents need a serious positional shake up. And it also needs to be easier to go to the opposite side later down the tree as well.

  2. Conflagration needs to be either moved to the left side of tree or preferably entirely removed. There’s no reason that a talent that only ever works off fireball should be below the one that asks you to hardcast flamestrike, I would replace it with flame patch.

  3. Improved blazing barrier needs to be completely removed, or baked in, no sane person on earth would ever spend a talent point on a very minor damage buff to getting hit.

  4. Master of flame is a very interesting concept to allow your fire blast to now be the component that spreads ignite, but ignite damage outside of combust seems like a frankly very boring way to play fire, I would remove master of flame altogether but bake the fire blast spreading ignite into flame on

  5. Speaking of boring ways to play fire, Improved Scorch needs a to be preceding searing touch, and ONLY searing touch. Playing it with searing touch makes sense and Imagine would be easy enough to use. However, it is also likely going to be the premier ST execute even on fights where you go Firestarter, and having to use a scorch that isn’t guaranteed to crit below 30% often is a horrible way to play. Make it so Improved scorch is only even an option if you go searing touch, or bake it into searing touch.

  6. Fevered incantation seems very arbitrarily placed, it seems like a natural fit next to Firemind, and I believe it should be an offshoot of it or a point preceding it.

  7. Likewise, Fire Frenzy is arbitrarily placed, and as we’ve seen in shadowlands is just a worse version of SKB, it should be placed as a precursor to SKB, which imo would result in a very fun build.

  8. I’m not sure what Tempered flames is meant to be, it seems like its expecting you to hardcast pyroblast for single target damage? It’s a new idea so I won’t knock it til we try it but it seems very unconventional, and honestly not very fun.

  9. I would like to see the return of infernal cascade, it is a conduit that genuinely adds a meaningful change to the rotation of mage with the upkeep of the buff, and I think would make an excellent talent.

  10. Finally, the biggest complaint, there is absolutely no reason to make us pick between kindling and fiery rush, this should NOT be a choice node, if anything they should precede each other. The reason kindling is so good atm in Shadowlands is specifically because fiery rush permits so many consecutive crits, making us pick between a fast but infrequent combust or a slow but frequent one is unfun, and feels like a straight up downgrade from our current gameplay. If ANYTHING needs to be changed about fire’s talent tree, it’s that we need to be permitted to pick both of these talents, they feed so well off each other and are an excellent pairing with SKB.

That’s my list of primary complaints, please take none of this as maliciousness, the folks over at Blizz have been doing an excellent job listening to their players recently and I’m confident that they’ll listen to criticisms of this tree. I’m just attempting to do my part.
Thank you for reading this far, and take care everyone!


I honestly hope that the developers in charge of coming up with this choice are trolling. There’s no other logical explanation to it.

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The reason is PvP, pretty much. Arena players had issues with how often fire mage can get easy CC setups, so the ability’s getting nerfed.

It struck me as opening to a build that doesn’t care about combustion as much and has a focus on constant damage with pyroclasm + SKB + fire frenzy. Not sure if that’ll work out, but that’s the impression the talent tree gave me.

They should just assign another task to the developper, that is occupied with mage currently. This person is clearly not passionate about their work judging by how uncreative and bland our talent trees are. Alot of people would do better for free. It’s very boring to be a mage now.
It’s very lazily done. I have the impression, that whoever made that tree, just opened the class book, and the conduit pages to randomly assign things in a tree structure.

Aren’t all the class trees?
It feels to me like a fancy bait to lure in older players that quit long time ago… And also a bait to “show” “how much” we listen too players that wanted the old TBC tree back.
It’s all a ruse

My friend who plays 8yrs off druid is now concidering rerolling because druid is yet again getting a faceslap.

To be fair, the talent trees are supposed to double as the leveling progression system. It’s intended that the early parts are something you’d get from leveling up. There’s nothing wrong with that. However… there should still be limits to that and bringing fireblast up to a usable form should never cost 4 talent points. It’s overkill to spec into fireblast, another talent that makes it 100% crit, and another 2 points on flame on.

I’m not saying every ability should be baseline, but there are tons of nodes, that just consist of 2-4 times the same ability, and there are alot of nodes, that are just completely filler, that also don’t look nice in the context of leveling. Don’t the different class designers talk with eachother? Are they competing, who makes the better spec, and try to hide them from eachother? Something is very odd. It just simply can’t be, that there are so insane gaps quality-wise between the different trees.

I’m seriously thinking about rerolling rogue, even though I’ve never played it.
For Mages, it’s not even thematically/lore-wise well done, if you look at the general tree, and gameplay-wise it’s also extremely restricting.

I agree, general tree is all over the place. Definitely rerolling evoker if they don’t fix it. Although… I kind of like the fire tree save for a few odd choices? It offers multiple builds for ST/AoE and I like a lot of the abilities they’re bringing back into it. When coming with the mindset of creating a cool fire mage build rather than “how do I get a copy-paste of Shadowlands fire”, it seems like a fun tree to me. That might be an unpopular opinion on my end though, considering the community’s reaction to it.

Well, the problem is actually in the fire tree, that you are locked into one path for AoE and for ST. You decide basically between having SKB,and fevered incarnation, and sadly, for both, AoE, and ST, we will pretty much always have to take skb, and wildfire with fiery rush. The only choice is between getting Phoenix flames, and Flame Patch, or Blaster Master with Master of Flames. That’s it. The illusion of choice.

You sure? After tinkering around with the trees, I got something like that for single target. Tempered flames is obviously meant to open the way for a build that does not only deal damage inside combustion and could focus on doing sustained damage with all the different procs. (Picking firestarter instead of the scorch talent in the choice node was a misclick, don’t mind that)

AoE also seems like it has potential for something new, with living bomb + flame patch, as well as that new talent which gives flame patch a chance to give mobs living bombs. Not sure if the tuning will work out for that to be a thing, but the fire tree does have potential. Especially if they do get rid of rune of power and focusing most of your damage on combustion burst windows is not the 100% superior way to play the spec.

I do hope that one becomes worth picking for AoE and likely M+ in general. It’s one of the new things that i do like.

I think for Pve, we will always put all points into scorch, unless we do a low m+ dungeon during fortified. Wild Fire will always be mandatory, or we will be kicked from the group. Blaster Master will be useless without fiery rush anyway, and this one phoenix flames point does nothing.
With the current design, this build will never work in a group, but I hope it will change, and they listen…

Sure, because that 2% crit buff for 4 people that has nowhere near 100% uptime will tootally be mandatory. We had that effect in Legion, and if I’m being honestly my guild members never even paid attention to it. Many of them probably didn’t even know it’s a thing. If groups are not making us spec into focus magic to support other people right now, they won’t kick you for not providing wildfire either.

If combustions are less frequent and last shorter, 2 charges of phoenix’s flames should be enough. Especially with that phoenix reborn passive.

We will always be forced into this Build with the current Fire Mage Design for single target (including general tree):
Dragonflight Talent Calculator - 10.0.0 Beta (wowhead.com)

For Aoe, we will probably make a tree like this, and the main variation will be blaster master vs putting points into phoenix flames.
Dragonflight Talent Calculator - 10.0.0 Beta (wowhead.com)
Dragonflight Talent Calculator - 10.0.0 Beta (wowhead.com)
This is the result of restricting us to so many filler talents, that should have been baseline. And yes, all 3 trees are like 90% congruent…

What makes you so sure? Are sims already out? This is most similar to current fire mage, but that doesn’t mean it’s the best build by default.

Sims are bull :poop: anyway.

Idk if you play Warrior or not but Necro fury would sim “too high” in a 100% uptime raid boss (never happens) so they nerfed it before ever hitting a playable state.

Sims do not count in downtime on bosses or you needing to move as a caster etc etc…
Even if a certain build sims “higher”, depending RNG off swirleys or the lack thereoff your results will be different…

Ofcourse simming for gear is a different game.

Thank you Pyrha for taking the time to create this constructive criticism that I agree with you in almost all of it, and I hope it lands on an open ears from Blizzard as we saw with frequent quality improvement to Rouge, Shaman, DK and Hunters changes so far.

I’d like to add just a few points that mostly you already elaborated but I’m just hoping to magnify the glaring issues, and I’ll speak about main tree and fire tree because I played fire mostly for the last 8 years:

Main tree:

The main tree has significant problems, especially with the abundance of 3/3 nodes, but it really lacks any meaningful options and diversity, just for comparison from most similar other classes’ trees in terms of raw options:

Rouge = 45

Hunter = 37

Shaman = 47

DK = 43

Druid == 44

Mage = 32

This is just as options and diversity of builds, let alone the other problems like:

  • Connections between nodes, for example shimmer/IF are separated from the latter 3rd.
  • The 3 points nodes, especially the 3 in the latter third of the tree, so annoying to get to any of them without this feeling of friction and underwhelming.
  • Capstones, Meteor for arcane and frost? Why not frostfirebolt? Or even your suggestion to be in Fire/Frost could be better; Time anomaly is ok but not many like RNG, Shifting Power? Boring and not really useful outside of fire due to the consistent damage profile of Frost and the Sync of multiple CDS in Arcane, I think it better fits fire tree, and I don’t mind it being gone entirely, though.
  • Most importantly, there are too much defensive traits, like why? Most of them are just endurance conduits, and you HAVE to take them, boring in PvE and PvP.

The tree needs more raw options, some more cross-specs universal benefits for all specs, like we saw with rouge for example, DB is good in M+ and PvP for all, but its position is bad for raiding and will divert many from it.

Ice ward should be replaced with Deep freeze for sure; almost no one cares about it.

2 Nova improvements are so boring; bake the duration nova to base nova atleast, and replaces it with 1 node of freezing winds for example, or any other slow related/utility

Too many defensive/utilities like Cyro freeze, Tempest Barrier, Diverted Energy, Frigid winds, Flow of time, mirrors nodes, Accumulative Shielding, are consuming A TONE of points, forcefully and should be reduced, changed, spread horizontally with more interactive and output nodes, with more available connections and pathing.

I really hope that the class tree gets a complete rework cause this current version is so bad in every single context, you feel like your legs are restrained and you are jumping around, barely picking stuff and dodging others.


These must be baseline:

  • Fire blasts, castable while casting.
  • Fire blasts always crit.
  • Hot Streak.

  • Conflagration preferably removed, too passive.
  • Flame on 1 rank, flame on is stable for 4 years now and always picked, even if you make it 5/5 node rank it will be picked, forcefully, it’s not a choice.
  • Wildfire and Tinder are placed in an unmatched spot to their power gain, should be in the 1st or 2nd sections of the tree, despite their terrible implantation to the gameplay.
  • Alexstrasza’s fury is good and finally available, but you can bake some power from Darckl’s Dragonfire Diadem to it.

Overall, there is lack of interesting new stuff and combinations of builds in the latter 2 halves of the tree, AoE is almost 1 option including: Flame Patch and Incendiary Eruptions, Alexstrasza’s fury, still very passive outside of combustion, hard-casting Flamestrike until 30%, this option should be improved and additional builds and options are existed.

ST is almost copy paste of SL version with conflict between tier set and kindling, only new gameplay build is centred on Tempered Flames.

Again, as with the main tree issues, the connections, the positioning and the novelty of the options are lackluster or old and same as the last few expansions, and lacks the horizontality and depth needed to have divers and fun builds.

These are my complaints, really i hope to see significant changes as we are seeing lately, not only around trees but about everything in the game, just doing my part as you said Pyrha.

Thank you for reading.

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Yea, that one is super bad, that talent is one of the best for the flow of the rotation inside combustion.

That one straight up needs to be changed, it cannot stay like that.

They are not trolling look at their Class design Blizzcon team. Four LGBT people, who have NOT played WOW since Vanilla, with constant improvements in their minds. No way in satanic hell.

I’ve been playing fire mage since Cataclysm and for PVE the Kindling, Fiery Rush and Sun Kings combination in my opinion is the most fun fire mage has ever been. Totally agree that it would feel really bad to lose it going in to dragon flight.