Now that I’ve covered the full process of leveling a Mage with the Frost tree, (and Arcane leveling can be summed up by saying “Frostbolt, Arcane Missiles, Frostbolt, Arcane Missiles” until we catch up with the guide I already have divided between Frost and Arcane leveling), it’s time now to switch over to the final talent tree of Fire.
Early on Fire leveling is pretty much the same as any other mage in how it plays except that you’re constantly flinging Napalm rather than Icicles. As you get higher though you’ll find that your rotation changes up quite a bit over time until the word “rotation” becomes a part of the past and instead you follow something called “priority”. But I’m getting ahead of myself there. For now, let us look at the art of napalm flinging, shall we?
Fireball: Hurls a fiery ball that causes Fire damage and additional Fire damage over 6 seconds.
Frostbolt: Launches a bolt of frost, causing Frost damage and slowing movement speed by 40% for 6 seconds.
Fireblast: Instantly blasts the enemy for Fire damage.
Frost Nova: Blasts enemies near the caster for Frost damage and freezes them in place for 8 seconds or until damage breaks the effect.
Polymorph: Transforms the enemy into a sheep for 20 seconds. Sheep cannot attack or cast spells, but will regenerate very quickly. Any damage will transform them back to their normal form.
You’ll be spamming Fireball for a very long time, so you might as well get a feel for it now. The cast time will grow as you level, eventually capping at 3.5 seconds before any reductions. You’ll only use Frostbolt as a means of slowing mobs down when you’re playing as Fire, but slowing them down is really useful at lower levels so it made the list. Fireblast is our instant cast “finishing move”, the spell we’ll use to finish off a mob when it’s low on health so that we don’t have to sit through a cast time.
Frost Nova is an excellent tool for any Mage. You’ll usually make use of it to freeze an enemy in place while you gain distance between you and the mob before going back to flinging Fireballs. However, Frost Nova is also a great spell to use for finishing off mobs that are very low on health (around 20 HP or so) as its mana cost is 1/3 of the cost of Fireblast. If you’re not having to use Frost Nova defensively then use it as a low health finisher and if the mob still isn’t dead then you can easily Shoot it to death with your wand while it’s frozen in place.
Slow Fall: Slows friendly party or raid target’s falling speed for 30 seconds.
Flamestrike: Calls down a pillar of fire, dealing Fire damage to all enemies in the area and burning for additional Fire damage over 8 seconds.
Remove Curse: Remove 1 Curse from a friendly target.
Blink: Teleport yourself up to 20 yards forward. Frees the caster from stuns and bonds.
Blizzard: Ice shards pelt the target area dealing Frost damage over 8 seconds.
Evocation: Restore 60% of your total mana over an 8 seecond channeling.
Pyroblast: Hurls an immense fiery boulder that cuases Fire damage and burns for additional Fire damage over 12 seconds.
You can also teleport to any of your faction’s starting city except for the Druidic races (Night Elf and Tauren) which you can get at 30 instead.
My love for Slow Fall runs deep. There are just so many uses for it even outside of combat that it’s on my list of greatest spells in the game. Flamestrike is going to be our main AoE nuke spell while questing, though Blizzard will remain a very powerful AoE spell throughout the game as well. I generally macro the two of them together so that I can cast either one at any given time depending on the setup.
Remove Curse may not be used very much while we’re leveling, but you’re going to be called on to cast it when you get around level 80 so you might as well get used to where it’s at and when to use it. Blink is another spell like Slow Fall deserving great praise. It’s a spiffy little tool for running away or just getting around easier, but the real beauty of this spell that so many mages seem to miss is that Blink frees the caster from stuns and bonds. A “bond” is anything at all that stops you from moving except for something like a Death Knights Hungering Cold which freezes you in a block of ice. Frost Nova? Stuns? Roots? All can be “blinked” out of.
Evocation is your lifeblood, the key to your downtime. Use it when you’re below 40% mana and only drink when you have to or when Evocation is on cooldown. For maximum benefit, use the glyph that goes with it to restore 60% of your health during the channel as well. Pyroblast is our level 20 talent, and for now we’ll just be pulling with it since it has a huge cast time, but later on we’ll lay waste to things with it as an instant cast.
Scorch: Scorch the enemy for Fire damage.
Counterspell: Counters an enemy’s spellcast, preventing any spells from that school from being cast for 8 seconds. High threat.
Conjure Mana Gem: Create a Mana Agate which when used restores 390 to 410 mana.
Ice Block: You become encased in a block of ice, protecting you from all attacks and spells for 10 seconds, but you cannot attack, move or cast spells.
Scorch will become much more important to us later on. For right now it’s just a quick cast Fire spell that deals a bit of damage. After some talent points get spent though it will be a big boost to our crit chance. Counterspell is a great spell because it can be used either offensively or defensively. If you see a caster cooking up something that’s going to hurt, counter it. If you see a caster about to heal someone, counter it. If you wish the mob would move a bit closer to his buddies, counter his spell so that he moves into melee during the time he can’t cast. Just remember that countering someone’s spells generally pisses them off, whether it’s an NPC or another player.
Conjure Mana Gem is yet another step towards reducing our downtime and increasing our efficiency. You’ll use your various mana gems throughout the rest of your career, so get used to using them now. They should be your first priority for restoring mana while in combat unless you have lower level mana pots that you just want to get rid by using them. Ice Block is your first OSB, a spell you cast when things go wrong and you think you might die. It’s a solid offensive tool when you’re using AoE as every mob you have agro on will run up and melee attack your ice block, and it’s good defensively because you become immune to everything while it’s up (at least until higher levels where other classes get the ability to destroy it). If you’re in trouble with melee mobs it’s a good idea to cast this, let them gather around, and then Frost Nova the second it wears off and blink away to either Bandage, potion, Evocate, or simply run away.
Fire is all about blowing things up and roasting mobs while they’re still alive.
- Improved Fireball 5/5: Reduces the casting time of your Fireball spell by 0.5 seconds.
- Ignite 5/5: Your critical strikes from Fire spells cause the target to burn for an additional 40% of your spell’s damage over 4 seconds.
- Pyroblast 1/1: Hurls an immense fiery boulder that causes Fire damage and burns for additional Fire damage over 12 seconds.
- Burning Soul 2/2: Reduces the pushback suffered from damaging attacks while casting Fire spells by 70% and reduces the threat caused by your Fire spells by 20%.
- World in Flames 2/3: Increases the critical strike chance of your Flamestrike, Pyroblast, Blast Wave, Dragon’s Breath, Living Bomb, Blizzard and Arcane Explosion spells by 4%.
- Master of Elements 3/3: Your spell critical hits refund 30% of their base mana cost.
- Improved Scorch 2/3: Increases your chance to critically hit with Scorch, Fireball and Frostfire Bolt by an additional 2% and your damaging Scorch spells have a 66% chance to cause your target to be vulnerable to spell damage, increasing spell critical strike chance against the target by 5% and lasts for 30 seconds.
- Blast Wave 1/1: A wave of flame radiates outward from the caster, damaging all enemies caught within the blast for Fire damage, knocking them back and dazing them for 6 seconds.
With the otherwise long cast times that we have to deal with our first priority is Improved Fireball to cut down the time on our primary nuke. Ignite is one of our most important features as Fire Mages, causing our Fire crits to apply a Damage over Time (DoT) effect to the target. Scroll down a bit for more info on Ignite.
At level 20 we get one of our signature Fire spells, Pyroblast. It has a huge cast time at 5.0 seconds, but it hits like a truck and has it’s own DoT effect that surpasses Fireball’s DoT by a great deal. For right now we’ll simply use it when pulling, when mobs are frozen via Frost Nova, or when we want to break Polymorph. As we get closer to level 60 this puppy is going to be an instant cast nuke of doom.
We take Burning Soul primarily for the reduced pushback when we’re casting Fire spells, but if you’re going to be running randoms then having that 20% threat reduction is pretty critical because as a Fire Mage you generate a lot of threat with your big hits and crits. World in Flames is another big talent for us since we love crits, but we can’t make full use of it for a while yet so we’re just building points in it for now. Still, an extra 4% crit on Flamestrike, Pyroblast, and Blast Wave (during this level range) is just what we’re looking for.
Fire is known for its mana issues early on because it takes a lot of fuel to burn that much flesh. For now we’ll buffer that with Master of Elements for a 30% mana refund when we crit. After level 60 we’ll pad that further with talents from the Arcane tree, but this is as good as it gets for now. We’ll finish our 20s with Improved Scorch to help further increase our crit chance.
And our level 30 talent is one of my favorite Fire spells, Blast Wave which is Fire’s version of Frost Nova, but rather than freezing enemies in place we’re going to knock them back and then daze them for 6 seconds. If you’re a dungeon runner then you may want to consider getting the glyph for this so that the pushback is removed and the mana cost drops down a little bit, but being the PvP fan that I am I love the pushback for knocking scrubs off of cliffs and down to their doom. Back in the day you used to be able to use this spell while on a flying mount to knock flagged opponents off of their mounts as well. Those were good times. /sniffle
I’m going to take just a second to quote Tachyon on how Ignite works, and I encourage you to click on that link to read the rest of the description on Ignite and the rest of the article as well:
Ignite is a core mechanic you are expected to understand if you raid with fire.
Whenever one of your fire spells crits, it will do 40% of that damage as DoT (Damage over Time). On a single crit, there will be two Ingite ticks, the first after 2sec, the second after 4sec, both doing 20% of the direct damage component of the spell that crit. If other spell crits happen when there’s still Ignite damage to tick, the new Ingite damage is added to the amount that is left to tick, and the timer starts anew to tick after 2/4 seconds.
Glyphs for Leveling
Glyph of Evocation: Also grants you 60% of your total health over the channeled time of your Evocation spell. [Req Lv 20]
Glyph of Mana Gem: Increases the mana recieved from using a mana gem by 40%. [Req Lv 30]
Glyph of Scorch: Increases the damage of your Scorch spell by 20%. [Req Lv 20]
Glyph of Fireball: Reduces the cast time of Fireball by 0.15 seconds, but removes the DoT effect.
Glyph of Slow Fall: Your Slow Fall spell no longer requires a reagent.
Glyph of Fire Ward: You have an additional 5% chance to reflect Fire spells while your Fire Ward is active.
Glyph of Frost Ward: You have an additional 5% chance to reflect Frost spells while your Frost Ward is active.
Evocation is probably the single best leveling glyph available to a mage. You’re already going to be using it for mana restoration, but giving a 60% heal to a class that otherwise is unable to heal themselves is amazing. Mana Gem goes a long way towards reducing down time. You might not notice just how big that 40% is right now, but it will become increasingly apparent as you level up. Scorch is a dps alternative, but it’s usefulness is going to depend on how often you use it. I mostly pull it out on boss fights in dungeons, and that’s about it, so it’s not great for me. Another DPS alternative is Fireball, which isn’t bad but it’s not especially great either. The cast time reduction is small to say the least, but the loss of the DoT isn’t too big since the DoT sucks anyway.
For minors Slow Fall is your glyph, hands down. It usually costs around 45g to get the thing because every mage wants it, so if you can’t afford it then go with one of the other options I listed. Those three glyphs are going to be the ones you’ll use at level 80 regardless of your spec and they’re just as valid now as they will be later. Of the other two you’ll see more use at low levels from Frost Ward, but as you get into your 40’s or so you’ll see more use from Fire Ward.
My suggestion is Slow Fall at 15, Fireball only if it’s cheap otherwise no major, upgrade to Evocation as major at 20, add Mana Gem at 30.
At this level there’s not a whole lot to your tactics, you’re basically a fireballin’ fool. General tactics still apply though. Just because you’re Fire doesn’t mean you can’t make use of Frostbolt to slow targets, Frost Nova to freeze them in place, and so on. The most important thing is knowing how to take advantage of your cast times and your skills.
Prior to level 20 you’re basically just like every other mage in the game, flinging whatever you want to in order to kill things. Your general tactic though, for quite a few more levels, is to cast your longest cast time spell to pull with and then decide between slowing them down or simply burning them down. I tend to go back and forth in my personal style depending on the type of mob; it’s a habit I’ve picked up from PvP that’s unnecessary in PvE but I do it anyway.
Once you reach level 20 there are a couple of tactics that you should remember because you now have access to Pyroblast. The first tactic is in relation to Polymorph. If you body pull a mob or one paths into you that you weren’t expecting, you have the choice between Frost Nova or Polymorph. If the mob is immune to poly, then your only option is to Frost Nova or fight in melee range. If the mob is a caster or has a ranged attack then poly is the better option, but if it’s just melee then either one will work. When you sheep or freeze a mob you want to break that effect with Pyroblast. Fireball is going to hit hard enough to break Frost Nova almost every time so you might as well take advantage of your time with your biggest spell.
Another tactic that I use as Fire the “run-through” that I’ve mentioned in the Frost AoE guide, where you rush towards a mob in order to take advantage of one of your abilities. Frost typically uses this for Cone of Cold, but Fire uses it for two purposes. The one we’re going to talk about right now is your level 30 talent spell Blast Wave, because the other is Dragon’s Breath which we don’t get until level 50. When you use Blast Wave offensively rather than defensively you want to move within range of the enemy to use it similar to how you would Frost Nova. As it pushes the targets back and dazes them you have time then to cast either Fireball or Pyroblast, or you can be a bit more aggressive and follow it with a Fire Blast and then either Frost Nova or Arcane Explosion before finishing them off.
With Fire I tend to be much more aggressive and to some degree more careless with my mana. I’m not there to run around and kite the mobs as Fire, I’m there to melt your face. It’s not uncommon to see me use a Pyroblast > Fire Blast > Arcane Explosion x2 rotation on a single mob kill in this bracket because I like being more aggressive as Fire. Blame it on my inner pyromancer.
Leveling as Fire
Rotation 1: Fireball, Frostbolt, Fireball, Fire Blast or Fireball spam
Rotation 2: Fireball, Arcane Missile, Fire Blast
Rotation 3: Pyroblast, Fireball, Fireball, Fire Blast
Rotation 4: Pyroblast, Fireball, Blast Wave, Fire Blast
I have quite a few rotation options up there for you to choose from. Starting out you’ll be on the first rotation, either option. The first one is a bit more defensive since it uses the slow, but it works just fine. Fireball spam might not be very interesting, but it does work so it gets a mention as well.
The second rotation is one you’ll have available in your teens and twenties. During these ranges AM hits pretty hard so when you’re fronting that with a hefty Fireball chances are the target is going to die. During your teens especially that rotation should kill just about every non-elite mob you face.
The third rotation is what I typically use once I hit level 20. If I’m fighting lower level mobs then I might switch it up a bit by dropping the second Fireball and throwing an Arcane Explosion on the end if necessary, but it depends on the mob. You also have the option of replacing the Fireballs with Scorches instead, that’s up to you.
The last rotation up there is for level 30 and it’s the more aggressive playstyle I mentioned in the tactics section up above. It’s a very in-your-face method of playing a Mage when compared to the distanced style of Frost. Two big nukes at the front followed by a Blast Wave will often kill the mobs for you, but the Fire Blast on the end should mostly solidify that. If you need more damage then you always have other spells you can throw into the mix.
Playing a mage successfully is all about using the many spells that you have available to get the job done. Always remember that you still have Frost and Arcane spells available to you and you don’t lose any Pyro Points for casting Frost spells when the situation calls for it. When things need to die it’s your job to kill it; it doesn’t matter how it dies, only that it’s dead when you leave.
Because the mage has so many spells that he can use, and all of them have their various uses, I use a lot of macros when playing a mage. Some of them are just for saving space, some are for being able to change from one type of damage to another for when you find thing like elemental that are immune to your main damage type.
As I’ve mentioned in other posts before, I have a standard that I follow when setting up my action bars so that similar spells from each class can be found on the same keys. So when I’m in the habit of playing my mage and then step over to playing my Death Knight I don’t end up casting the wrong spells just because my fingers want to react a certain way.
The first Mage Macro that I make is a simple one for Fireball:
At level 4 I add a similar macro for Frostbolt:
When I get to where I don’t bother slowing with Frostbolt anymore I just replace the two macros above with this one instead:
/cast [modifier:alt] Frostbolt; Fireball
The macro above will cast Fireball by default, or it will change to Frostbolt instead if I hold Alt when I activate the macro.
/cast Blast Wave
/cast Arcane Explosion
This is your one key instant AoE macro, it’s going to cast Blast Wave if it’s not on cooldown, and Arcane Explosion if it is. Another space saving macro for two very similar spells from a single key.
Gearing Up for Spellcasting
Spell Power > Intellect > everything
Spell Power is the driving force behind your damage, so you can never get enough of it. When you’re leveling up though you’ll often feel like you’re having mana problems where you’re drinking after every fight. Sometimes that’s just the way it is, you’ll have times where you’re burning through mana like a mad (wo)man, and for that reason you want to keep a stack of the best water/milk/juice/whatever that you can get your hands on for your level as well as a stack or two of the best you can summon.
If you feel like you’re constantly having mana problems then screw looking for spell power and shoot for the highest +Intellect gear you can get your hands on.
The Tailoring profession is a great source of gear throughout the various levels, especially if you plan on solo questing and solo AoE grinding your way to the top. You can generally find better gear in instances than you can from tailoring when you are starting out, but you can certainly weave that cloth to fill in any gaps you might have.
Whether you use a staff or you go with a one handed weapon and an off hand item is mostly up to you. Use whatever will give you better stats overall and go with it. Typically the low level staffs will be better than other options, but just use whatever you have on hand that provides the most benefit.
Keep a close eye on wands that are available to you and be sure to get one as soon as possible. You can equip the lowest level wand in the game at level 5 and it’s basically a free source of ranged damage. A lot of wands, starting in your teen levels also have other stats on them if you are willing to look around a bit to find them. Draenei and Blood Elves both have quests prior to level 10 that will give you a wand with +1 Intellect for instance.