Spell-queuing, Waterbolt Macros, and You

What is Spell Queuing?

To explain the concept of spell queuing, I would like to first mention the effect of lag on the spellcasting mage.  Suppose that with the effects of haste, a frostbolt takes 1.8 seconds to cast.  This means that in a 3-minute battle (180 seconds), one could theoretically cast 100 frostbolts (180 seconds / 1.8 seconds per cast).

However, due to the effects of latency, there is a slight delay between the physical inputting of the command to cast a frostbolt, and the actual cast of the frostbolt itself.  Over the course of the same battle, this delay in cast time can accumulate and can result in wasted time, limiting the number of frostbolts that you can actually cast.  A person with a latency of 100 milliseconds will effectively have a cast time of 1.9 seconds, and will only cast  94 frostbolts.  That’s 6 frostbolts lost over the same amount of time, translating to a 6% damage loss.

Thanks to spell-queuing, one can pre-emptively cast a frostbolt before the previous spell finishes casting, and the server will immediately begin casting the next spell without the gap in latency, allowing you to squeeze in the maximum number of spells allowed.  Addons such as quartz can show you the latency of your spellcasts on the castbar itself, so you can queue your spell appropriately, salvaging that potentially lost DPS.

Spell-Queuing and the Water Elemental

A Water Elemental’s Waterbolt has a cast time of 2.5 seconds, and is not affected by its owner’s haste rating.  When you put a pet on auto-attack, it will automatically attempt to chain-cast waterbolt.  However, the pet’s waterbolt cast is also affected by its owner’s latency.  This means that consecutive casts are effectively delayed by latency, resulting in wasted time and a loss of dps.

For example, my latency is 240 milliseconds.  While squirtle should be casting 72 waterbolts over the span of 3 minutes without the effect of latency, he is actually casting only 65 waterbolts if I leave him on auto-attack (180 seconds / 2.74 seconds per waterbolt).

However, caster pets also have the ability to queue spells as well, but it is up to the owner to manually queue it for the pet.  Since Frost Mage pets are not “true” pets, they do not have their own tab in the spellbook.  One would have to create a “/use waterbolt” macro, and put it on their hotbar to use it.  By inputting a waterbolt command approximately .1-.2 seconds before the initial cast is finished, the same time-saving effect is achieved, and the pet dps loss is salvaged.

Double-Queuing and Macro-Mashing

In empowered fire’s post, Lhivera has noted the same dps loss from squirtle’s autoattack, and suggested the following macro:

#showtooltip
/cast frostbolt
/use waterbolt

What this macro efffectively does is combine both spells into one macro, allowing you to cast both spells with a single button.  However, what the ElitistJerks post doesn’t tell you is that due to the discrepancy in cast times, waterbolt and frostbolt actually go out of synch with each other after several casts.

If you are using the default UI cast bar, you cannot see your pet’s cast bar, and thus, you cannot tell when your frostbolt is out of synch with your pet’s waterbolt. If you’re spell-queuing your frostbolt only, you are effectively failing to queue the waterbolt as well, resulting in a dps loss.

This means you have to spell-queue for both spells if you want to minimize the effect of latency on both you and your pet’s spellcasts.  Alternatively, you can simply repeatedly mash the button to which your macro is bound to, but that is simply a waste of energy, considering the length of some fights.  Your best bet is to keep an eye on both castbars and hit your macro whenever one of the two spells is .1-.2s away from finishing its cast.

Double-Queuing With Quartz

Firstly, in order to manage the casting of both you and your pet, you must modify your quartz setup so that your pet’s castbar is directly under your own.  To do this, follow these steps.

1.  Open the quartz menu with /quartz.
2.  Click “Pet” on the side menu.  This will bring up the menu for your pet cast bar.
3.  Uncheck the item called “Lock.”  This will unlock the pet’s cast bar, allowing you to reposition by dragging it across the screen.
4.  Click “Player” on the side menu.  This will bring up the menu for your own cast bar.
5.  Uncheck “Lock” again.  Now you can see both you and your pet’s cast bars, and can adjust the position accordingly.

Personally, I like to resize both castbars so that their widths are exactly the same.  This makes it easier to keep track of when I should press my macro.  Do this by changing the numbers under “Height” and “Width.”

Now that your castbars are easier to keep track of, now is the time to start practicing the double-queue.  Take a look at the timeline below.

Let the arrow shape represent the time it takes for a spell to be cast.  Comparing Waterbolt and Frostbolt on the timeline, it is clear that both spells immediately go out of sync due to the latter’s cast time reduced by haste.  Suppose that the head of the arrow represents the frame of time required to queue the spell, you would have to press your macro at each arrowhead on the timeline.

However, since the macro itself covers both spells, you only have to press the button once whenever the two arrowheads overlap.  According to the graph, this occurs close to the 10-second mark.  Visually, this is represented in your UI where both spells have reached the end of the cast bar.

Conclusion

Before patch 3.3, a Frost Mage’s spell “rotation” consisted mainly of Frostbolt, Frostbolt, and more Frostbolt.  This monotnous rotation has caused the the school’s reputation to fall out of favor with seasoned mages, a design flaw secondary to its lackluster damage.

With the introduction of Deep Freeze as a highly damaging spell, the priority rotation of a Frost Mage has become a lot more dynamic.  With a permanent Water Elemental, and the recent tests by Lhivera, another dimension has been added to the cryomancer’s playstyle, making it even more dynamic than before, possibly moreso than the other three mage specs.

While the damage has been buffed, one can argue that it has not been buffed enough to solve its primary flaw.  However, with the spell-queuing system demonstrated in this post, combined with management of Deep Freeze and other cooldowns, it is very difficult to deny that the monotony has been effectively eliminated.

Until next time, see you on the other side of the internether!

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7 thoughts on “Spell-queuing, Waterbolt Macros, and You

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  4. Not so much a spell queing question but more to do with the water elemental.

    Is having the glyph for a permanent water elemental worth having. I pvp on my mage and if I understand it correct using this means I lose the ability to freeze with the w/e.

    Is losing freeze worth losing over having w/e all the time, in your opinion as this isn’t something that I’ve really ever considered.

    • I was never much of a PvP’er, but I can imagine that the whole idea of Frost is to have absolute control over your opponent, being the master of kiting and all. While having a permapet is nice for DPS and such, the arena community generally agrees that the snare component is paramount, and the short duration of the elemental’s lifespan is good enough to apply damage pressure to the team’s current target.

  5. That’s always been my thinking so you have confirmed that. Just saw that you’d mentioned it and its something that I’ve always mean’t to ask someone but never gotten around to it.

    Thanks for the reply.

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