You want to cap Hit while you're building spellpower. If you think about it every time you cast on a boss and that spells fails youre lowering the raid dps...forcing the battle out, requiring maybe say a hunter to pick up the slack just a little. Hit cap was not really easy to come by before, Im not sure of the situation now yet. After you cap hit and reach 1k SP move on to crit. It actually becomes more valuable at that point, but only if u are hit capped. Who knows how often that mega 7k crit missed heh. Int should technically scale with newly aquired gear/talents/levels. Health can be a major concern for some who have not mastered aggro management or are relying on a tank who isn't quite proper. Haste is an interesting stat that is more like a buff than anything. It can destroy rotations and mana if you've built to much. Ive always enjoyed a little , maybe 60-75 points. My tactic concerning haste was to find a weapon that had it built in with gem slots avail and stack it on the weapon...switching to it if it seemed needed. I carry alot of gear.All with different purposes and uses for individual situations. Wether it be to maximize mana for a long fight or to boost dps. Usually while clearing trash I drop all hit/haste for SP and Crit...when the boss preps are going down I'm swapping back to hit+sp+crit. With all the new mechanics and levels of enemies now...Its really a different game I personally dont have the attention to break out the calculator and fgure on what the hit cap has been raised to..although wikii probably has that on some table buried somewhere. Sorry to drag all this out..GL
Seeing as how this is an old post, I figure I'll throw some updated info in...
Even pre-WotLK, you should hit-cap as you acquire gear (i.e: quest gear, badge gear, etc.) According to a couple sources, FFB mages' +hit caps at about 367 (342 w/ a draenei in your grp and drops to roughly 270 with a balance druid or shadow priest in your grp.) So, to max your DPS, gem for hit (in your yellow sockets) until you can reach your hit cap with just the +hit on the gear. Like stated above, it doesn't matter how much +spell power you have if you're missing all the time.
Personally (after reaching hit cap, of course,) I tend to use a couple yellow sockets for +crit. I like to keep my crit around 30+%. I don't like to stray much higher than that due to threat issues. Once i get my hit and crit where i want it, I'll look for more haste. Haste is nice to have, but not really necessary.
As far as stacking intel... it really depends on your spec. An arcane mage will need more intel, seeing as how arcane builds are more mana hungry. But, if you have mana issues and go oom all the time, you really shouldn't be trying an arcane spec anyway. Back to my main point. even in arcane spec with the +spell power per intel, you're really not getting much dmg from it. My old figures showed 1 int = 0.15 sp dmg (if this is accurate, idk.) So really, the only point to stack intel is for your mana pool.
For gemming, I really just like to put some nice +dmg gems in there, regardless of the slot color. The only time I will gem based on slot color is if the socket bonus is good or if i need to socket for a meta.
Anyways, I hope this information was helpful. I know it's an old post, but I was bored... I'm on Rexxar if you're interested in checking me out.
Crit VS Haste!? or SP VS INT?(like no duh SP) but what if despite from having to chose best in slot, would you aim for like 2.0 cast? from haste, or like having to aim for 2.5k SP, or having to have 50% Crit!
I mean how many people do u know actually go thru those, other than maxdps.com and BAM! yup thats best in slot and i'm going for it. just a thought.
I know alot of the "better" players on my server including myself dont just hit maxdps and go omg thats BiS.
Personally I theorycraft the hell outta everything and figure out what will be an upgrade, what I need when and where I need to improve my stats. As of late people don't even know what theorycrafting is. Makes me cry a little inside.
Personally, I went for spellpower and haste once I started getting naxx25 gear...bad advice from someone. My dps was always high but as soon as I got hitcapped it went WAY up. Right now, in raid (currently progressing through Ulduar), I am always in the top 5 or 6 (25 man) and always the top mage...sometimes I am top dps over everyone in boss fights. My dps is somewhere between 3.4K-5K depending on the boss. Last boss fight in naxx 25 5.4K
Get hit capped, it takes less for arcane since you get some hit with your talents. I didn't waste the few extra points to get exactly 17% because I'm overcapped with talents..I used that extra space for crit. I have @ 98% hit with an additional 3% coming from arcane focus. My crit is around 23% right now, I lost some crit adding haste gems. For me, at this level of raiding (spellpower comes with gear, enchants and any red gem slot)...I went with hit>crit>sp>haste. But like I said gave up some crit with new gear due to loosing too much haste with the change.
I would post my toons name and link to armory but I got harassed constantly last time so I am not going to do that here. Arcane 57/3/11
I don't run into a lot of mana issues unless the overall dps of the group is low. Most of the time we are all pulling our expected dps and I don't run out of mana, of course 2 minute evocation helps with mana gems.
I don't know a lot about the other specs but have heard you shouldn't even attempt frostfire unless you are hit capped and have 30% crit, I am not sure if this is true or not but our frostfire mage is neither of these things and is lower on the dps list. I run with one who kicks my butt in dps but he is hit capped and has around 30% crit.
Hey! Just thought I'd chime in on this. Gotta love that super low Arcane hit cap. I'm a little jealous of that. Luckily I always have my pocket Shadow Priest hooking me up with Misery or I'd have a rough time! Great numbers btw, keep that up! Represent mages!!! <pumps fist> Oh yeah, and I'm totally with Vyr1s on this. Theorycrafting will definitely help you improve your playstyle and get your DPS numbers into the stratosphere! Also, as A frostfire mage, I can say I thoroughly enjoy it as a spec! Lots of chaos, threat management, timing, and gambling. Works nice for me. The key is to just play the spec you enjoy most!
The FIRST thing you need to worry about is your hit cap. 289 is your "magic" number, provided you have Precision and Arcane Focus and you are Arcane speced. Arcane Focus is only for arcane spells, despite its slightly confusing wording.
Picking up both of these will require a 6 point skill investment. Draenai are the only ones lucky enough to get a bonus with Heroic Presence, lowering their number to 263. This also assumes the mage is Arcane speced. These numbers will ensure that the majority of your casts will hit. If you are a Fire mage (not quite as powerful in a raid situation, but still a decent damage dealer), your numbers are 368 and 342 for Draenai
After that, I recommend working on both your Spellpower and your Crit. Arcane and fire both have nice crit bonuses built in if you spec correctly, but having more Crit is never a bad thing. Fully raid buffed, my mage was just shy of 40% crit. I was basically was critting almost every other hit. (This was in Ulduar and fully Naxx geared, btw.)
After that, I'd worry about Haste, then your MP5. And yes, MP5 is of slight importance to a mage. This is why Blizz has made Spirit more useful.
Good posts so far. I am really really surprised most of them do not take spec into account.
Spell Power and Hit rating for bosses are always your most important stats, being a bit over hit cap rather than a bit under is recommended. 26.2 hit = 1%, Misery from a shadow priest or imp Fairie Fire from a druid = 3%, heroic presence from a draenei = 1%.
After those two stats, it totally depends on if you are fire/ffb or arcane as to what you want to gear for.
For fireball (18/53/0 etc) and ffb (0/56/15 etc), crit > haste/spi are your next goals. Obviously fire is all about the crit, with how Hot Streak works, and the pros have calculated that crit is as beneficial as haste for dps, even though it takes 45.9 crit compared to 32.8 haste for a 1% increase. This is because fire/ffb has a 245%-320% crit modifier, where as arcane only has a 175% modifier. Spi is very important for fire now because of the passive mana regen added to pyromaniac, as well as molten armor giving more crit per spi. There is a fair bit of spi/crit cloth gear to choose from.
Arcane on the other hand (I like 58/2/11) is ALL about the haste > spi > crit. For arcane, haste is calculated as being twice as much as an improvement for dps than crit, AND it is less expensive than crit when determining item budgets, meaning you can usually get more of it on gear. With 100% mana regen during casting, spi is quite important, although if you have massive raid buffs (sp, shammy, pally) for replenishment you will be able to drop a bit of spi for crit on most encounters. I'm up to almost 700 haste on my boss set and I've been a top dps arcane mage ever since arcane became viable again with 3.08.
I'm not completely sure about frost, since it is not considered a viable raid spec, but I would venture a wager that it is more like arcane where haste is (slightly) more beneficial for dps than crit. I would also guess that for pretty much every boss spi would be near useless compared to haste/crit.
Arcane does do more damage and dps than any other spec atm, IF you have the computer and internet connection to handle it (shorter cast times means lag cuts into your dps more, Quartz can help you overcome this), and if you can wrap your head around the dynamic casting rotations (spell selection is highly dependent on situational buffs, movement and overall boss strategy). If you want a more relaxed approach to mage dps and don't care if you aren't at the top of the meter, fire/ffb still do great damage/dps, and are a bit simpler to adapt to whatever encounter you're doing.