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Mage Leveling: Part I-B

I was chatting on twitter with Cynwise the other day and they mentioned that Human’s racial ability set them up so much higher than rolling a Gnome Mage was out of the question. Despite my dislike for the gnome race, I don’t mind using one as a twink so I took that statement as a challenge and rolled yet another twink named Blastoph. I had a good bit of fun with the Gnome last night and got the chance to see the new leveling mechanics with the changes in 3.3. When I saw Cyn’s post this morning on Green Tinted Goggles I decided I should probably post a bit about me new leveling experience as well.

Blastoph: Gnome Mage
This post isn’t going to be about Blastoph quite so much as the last two posts have been for my other twinks because he’s only level 7 and I have a couple of other blogs set aside to start monitoring my twinks anyway, which I’ll introduce to you later when I have their designs and such finalized.

What I do want to do though, is share some of what my experiences last night showed me with leveling new characters. So here are some examples of what I did with Blastoph:

Killing Spree: No, not the achievement, just the literal performing of such. I took the mage into the troll cave in the starting area, positioned myself right in the middle of all of the mobs (which are now Neutral instead of Hostile) and starting casting Fireballs one right after the other on every mob in the entire cave without taking any breaks until they were all dead. More specifically, I cast 40 consecutive Fireballs without running out of mana. Every mob in there died to two casts or to two casts plus the extra little bit that comes from the dinky DoT effect of the Fireball.

Frostbolt Sucks: Actually it doesn’t suck, but with the changes made there’s really no reason to bother casting it in the starting zone. Fireball now has the same cast time, costs only 1 more mana point to cast, and does significantly more damage. With all of these changes you might as well consider Frostbolt a thing of the past while you’re rolling your new toon and just Fireball everything in the face. That’s what I did this time.

“Free” Quests? Yoink! Now that none of the mobs in the starting areas will agro you before you attack them you can do all of those otherwise annoying little gather quests with no worries and little effort. Just run right up, grab what you need, and then run back and turn in the quest. Collecting Felix’s items for him was easier than ever this go around.

Details on 3.3
With the new changes in 3.3 the leveling of a mage has taken a whole new twist. Here are the main reasons why:

  • Reduced Mana Cost
  • Reduced Casting Times
  • Increased Mana Regen

Reduced Mana Cost
First on the list we have probably the biggest contribution to the changes in the reduced mana cost. A level 1 mage in 3.2 had to spend 18-25 mana (if I remember correctly) to cast a Fireball. In 3.3 through, using a Gnome in my case, Fireball costs a whopping 8 mana to cast a level 1. That’s more than a 50% reduction in mana cost, and that’s flipping huge.

One of the main trade offs in 3.2 and previous patches between Fireball and Frostbolt was that Fireball cost quite a bit more mana, so you could cast for a longer period of time by leaving the Fire alone save for pulling. At level 4 my Fireball required 9 mana to cast and my Frostbolt required 7; I think I can handle an extra 2 mana for higher damage.

Reduced Casting Times
Previously Fireball had a base cast time of 2.0 seconds, which made things move a bit slower than you’d like (sort of like a Warlock from that day and age with their Shadowbolts). But now our Fireball (Rank 1) has only a 1.5 second cast time. That was the second big difference between Fire/Frost in 3.2 was that you could fire off Frostbolts with a lower mana cost and also a faster casting speed, but that’s no longer the case.

The casting speed does jump back up to 2.0 seconds when you get Fireball (Rank 2), but it still hits harder than Frostbolt does, and with the next point below you can see that the mana issues are no longer a problem.

Increased Mana Regen
When they nerfed regen in previous patches it really screwed low level toons to the point where I actually had to start drinking between fights in my starting areas. With 3.3 they have increased regen by 200% which is a very noticeable rate now that we’re back to having some decent regen.

The removal of food on starting characters didn’t bother me as I don’t think I have ever used the starting food for anything but a few spare coppers in my pouch, but the removal of drinks made me wonder a bit about casters.

Other 3.3 Changes
Another new little feature I want to bring to your attention is that any time you learn a new spell now it will auto-assign it to an open space in your action bar. While this feature actually bothers me due to my planning out my action bars ahead of time and reserving slots for future use and such, it does provide a benefit to a lot of people making it almost impossible for you to miss the fact that you learned a new spell unless you just never bother looking at them for some reason.

A really big change that I saw in starting areas also is that now all mobs in starting areas are Neutral, meaning that you aren’t going to have to fight anything you don’t want to until you get out of the starting zone. The little mini-bosses of sorts, everything you have to kill for a quest, every mob all together in your starting areas are now Neutral, meaning that you will not draw agro from anything unless you attack it. So you can move at your own pace no matter where you’re at, and with the big boost to regen rates you can get a lot more done with a lot less hassle.

You’ll also find the new build in quest tracking features to be very helpful. As Gordon over at WeFlySpitfires.com discussed yesterday, this new feature potentially removes the need for questing addons such as QuestHelper. Your questing is going to be made easier with all of these changes whether you use addons or not, but this is just one more change that’s going to impact the speed at which you level early on.

I think the only thing they could have done to make leveling any easier would be to give us some bags to start out with and/or put a mailbox in the starter zone so that we don’t have to run to the next town to pick up bags, gear, or gold that we mail to them.

New Leveling Rotation
When it comes to the new starting zones you can write off everything I said in the old mage leveling post and stick to this rotation right here:

Fireball, Fireball, Fireball, Fireball

That’s it, just spam Fireball at everything until it’s dead. Once you run out of mana, go collect all of your loot and by the time you finish clicking all of the sparklies you’ll have a full mana bar and will be able to jump right back into that rotation again.

Sadly, I’m completely serious about this. I don’t mind the fact that leveling is a bit easier now, the sad part comes from the fact that using Frost isn’t even the least bit necessary any more. Just spam Fireball 2-4 times and whatever you’re fighting will be dead unless you keep missing for some reason.

 
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Posted by on December 10, 2009 in Guide, Leveling, Mage

 

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AoE Grinding: Frost Mage Edition

The time has come to share with you the greatness that is Frost Mage AoE Grinding. Grinding on my first Mage was really what solidified my interest in the game. Up to that point I really didn’t care all that much for the game. It was something to do, storyline was decent, play style wasn’t too bad, but overall it was just something else that I could play save that I actually had to pay as I played as well. Up until I started playing the mage I had seriously considered just letting my account expire and go back to playing Diablo II and D&D and leaving this game to my wife and her friend. [Shameless plug: Wife @Fynralyl and her NaNoWriMo Blog and her friend: @Catarith]

But I was reading through one forum or another one day and stumbled onto a thread about AoE Grinding with a Frost Mage and decided to take a look. I got the general idea, hit YouTube for a visual example of what people meant by some of the terms, and then set about doing it myself. I got into it right away and found out that it was in fact a quick and easy process. However, I also noticed that several of the suggestions given were flawed. Some things they told me to do were not effective while others that they told me not to do were actually way more effective than the contrary. So, I gave up on the forums, the blogs, and the YouTube videos and did my own thing. My performance increased greatly and my leveling speed increased right along with it.

So what I am going to share with you today is what I have found to be the most effective way to perform AoE Grinding with a Frost Mage. I invite anyone who has done this themselves to join in with any thoughts, suggestions, experiences, and so forth that they have had as well. If you find something works better for you then go ahead and share it. If you disagree with something I’ve said then bring that up too.

Advice You Should Ignore
There are a lot of things that you will find in guides around the net that are not true. People will give you suggestions on how to spend your talents or which spells to cast or avoid, and while all information can help you improve on what you’re doing or prompt you to try something you hadn’t thought of before, that doesn’t mean that the information they give you is correct. Here I will cover some of the advice that I suggest you ignore. Take note of the fact that the statements I just made apply to me as well – this worked for me, but you may well find that it sucks for you and that you would rather go down the paths I tell you to avoid.

Misconceptions The following are all topics you will find discussed on forums and in blogs. I’ll tell you what many of those blogs say that I feel is wrong and then tell you what my thoughts on them are as well.

Frostbite Talent: Almost every AoE grinding guide you’ll find for Frost Mages will tell you not to take this because it will mess up your pulls. This is, by far, one of the single most effective grinding tools that the class has to offer.

Mana Shield: All of those guides that I just told you who don’t use Frostbite also tell you to use this worthless piece of crap of a spell. Blizzard has the highest mana cost of any spell you’re ever going to cast, and if you get a big pull and then find out you don’t have the mana to fire that bad boy off, then you’re well beyond screwed. You better hope you’ve got your running shoes with you. Forget this thing exists unless you’re in PvP.

Icy Veins: You’re also going to find a lot of guides that tell you that this is crucial to your grinding. Fact is, it’s not crucial at all. Don’t get me wrong, it certainly helps and can speed things up when it’s not on cooldown, but it is by no means crucial. Take the talent when you don’t have more important things to pick up instead. It’s great for having Blizzard do all of its damage in a short time, or firing off your Evocation in a shorter time, but it’s not necessary and I do most of my grinding without ever using it.

Frost AoE: General Information
If you have read my Paladin AoE Guides then you will know that I mentioned that there is no set rotation for AoE grinding with Paladins. For the Mage, it is pretty much the same. There are certain spells that you are going to cast, but not a specific order in which you are going to cast them as each pull and each situation can change what you have to do and how you have to react.

However, just like the Paladin’s guides, there are general steps that are always taken in pretty well the same order. I already mentioned the order in the Mage Leveling: 21-39 post: [Pull], Corral, Freeze, Distance, Blizzard, Clean Up

One difference that I will note right off the bat between Mage AoE and Paladin AoE is that I do not including Pulling as part of my rotation on a Mage where I do include it as a Paladin. With the mage you want everything in one spot and you want it to stay there, so pulling other mobs into the mix is generally a bad idea. So as a general rule of thumb, when you’re grinding with a Mage as soon as you’ve pulled the mobs you want, finish them off before you pull any more.

Getting Ready: Before you even begin to pull the mobs there are a couple of things you need to do. First thing’s first – Always, ALWAYS make sure you have enough mana to do what you’re about to do. Nothing sucks more than pulling a group of mobs, freezing them in place, and then wondering why Blizzard isn’t casting and then noticing you started the pull with 50 mana… Never go into a fight without mana. Second, make sure you’ve got your armor on. Personally, I suggest you go with Frost Armor when doing your AoE. Once you hit level 40 you will also have Ice Barrier, and I suggest you cast that as well as it will absorb most of the blows you take while pulling.

Once you’ve got your armor on and your mana’s up, then go ahead and start your pull.

Step 1: Pull There are various method of pulling mobs, but with mounts now available at level 20, which also happens to be when you get your AoE spell, Blizzard, the good old fashion Body Pull method is going to be your best bet. It’s not your only option, but it will generally be the best one you’ve got. So jump on your mount and run near all of the mobs that you want to AoE and allow yourself to draw agro simply by moving within their agro range. There are other methods that you can use depending on your situation which include casting a single Frostbolt on multiple mobs that are spread out, using Polymorph on a central mob and then pulling the others to it, and several others. Once you get into your 60’s you’ll have Ice Lance which is great for pulling, but otherwise stick to the body pulls.

Step 2: Corral For you city folks, you might note that corralling is basically the same thing as gathering up or grouping together, so that’s what you’re doing here if you aren’t familiar with the term. You need to gather up all of the mobs that you’ve pulled and get them bunched up together so that your Frost Nova will hit all of them.

This isn’t necessarily done by casting a spell so much as simply by running around towards or through the mobs that you’re pulling so that they all move closer together. The easiest way to corral the mobs does involve casting a spell, and that spell is Ice Block. I don’t use the method very often myself because I’m proficient in corralling as part of my pulling, but if you have a hard time doing it then just cast your Ice Block and go with that. By using Ice Block you make yourself immune to everything and the mobs will all run up to melee your block of ice until the spell wears off or you cancel it.

I suggest you practice corralling as part of your pulling, which is simply moving around so that the mobs get closer together, rather than relying on Ice Block as it has a cooldown that is far too long to rely upon it for every pull.

Call this step whatever you want to help you remember it. When I talked about AoE with a Paladin I didn’t bother including a Corral step because the paladin doesn’t give a crap where you are so long as you’re close to him. A Mage though, needs all of the mobs close together and he needs them there at the same time. So, I’m adding a step here that didn’t exist for the Paladin to help emphasize that point.

Step 3: Freeze The next thing on your list is to freeze the mobs in place. Your most reliable method of doing this is going to be by casting Frost Nova. It is possible to freeze them all with Cone of Cold if you put your talent points in Frostbite like I told you to, but I certainly wouldn’t rely on that. Stick with Frost Nova as it’s going to work every time so long as it hits.

As you get higher in levels you will get talent points that increase your critical hit chance, and your critical hit damage while your targets are frozen, which makes this all go a whole lot faster and smoother. But, the main reason for freezing them in place is so that you can get your distance and then cast Blizzard to hit them all at once so that you’re not wasting mana or time.

Step 4: Distance The next item of business is to put some distance between yourself and the mobs. You can do this one of two ways: cast Blink, or run. Personally, I just run a short distance and then call it good. Some people find that casting Blink is the way to go, but I disagree. The only time I use Blink instead of just running is when I am either Dazed, Stunned, or Rooted by the mobs that I am pulling. If none of those three things are happening, then I simply run and call it good.

There are a few flaws in using Blink that keep it from being my chosen method. You can accidentally blink into other mobs causing you to over pull, you can Blink over a glitched section of ground so that you basically waste the spell as you gain little or no distance at all, you can Blink into a glitch that causes you to fall through the world and die, or you can Blink out of the range of Blizzard causing you to run back towards them and waste whatever time you might have saved otherwise. I thought that Blizzard had fixed the glitches that send you falling through the world, but it happened to me last week in Redridge, so I know it’s still possible.

Step 5: Blizzard The spell, not the company. With your enemies safely frozen in a nice little corral of their soon-to-be death, cast Blizzard and let destruction rain (snow?) down upon your enemies. When you cast Blizzard make sure you put the far edge of the spell’s area as close to you as possible. In other words, try to leave as much of the spell’s area that isn’t on the mobs closer to you so that if the mobs break out of their freeze they still have to run through your Blizzard to get to you.

If you have taken Frostbite and Improved Blizzard then each time your Blizzard hits them it has a chance to freeze them again as well. Sometimes a mob will manage to escape your Blizzard without being frozen again (and again, and again), but even though you only have a 15% chance to freeze them from Frostbite, each spike from Blizzard has a chance to trigger that 15% chance so it happens a lot more than you would expect from such a small number. But, since it is a chance rather than a guarantee you never know how it might turn out.

Step 6: Clean Up Clean Up is where you have to make a decision and why a set rotation doesn’t actually exist. This is where you have to make a judgement call based on the situation.

If you still have multiple mobs that are still alive and they are not close to dying, then you either want to repeat Step 5 by casting another Blizzard, or go back to Step 3 and try to refreeze them if your Frost Nova is not on cool down.

If you have multiple mobs that are close to dying then I generally suggest you finish them off with Cone(s) of Cold or Arcane Explosion(s). Because of the extra benefits of your Frost talents I would generally suggest you use Cone of Cold for this if you know you can catch them all in it’s area, but if not then go ahead and use Arcane Explosion instead. You have more potential benefit from using CoC, but AE is the safer route if you’d rather do that for getting started.

Visual Representation
Rather than going with specific examples as I did with the Paladin series, I’m going to give you a bit more visual look at how things are done. Some of my other fellow bloggers have picked up this method, so I figured I would give it a shot myself to see how well it works for me.

Pull (a body pull using a mount)
Pull

Corral (grouping the mobs simply by positioning yourself in a central area)
Corral

Freeze (using Frost Nova, or a Water Elemental’s Freeze spell)
Freeze

Distance (by running, or casting Blink)
Distance

Blizzard (there’s only one Blizzard, ladies and gents – only one)
Blizzard

Clean Up (Arcane Explosion in this case, Cone of Cold or other spells work too)
CleanUp

 
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Posted by on November 18, 2009 in Guide, Leveling, Mage

 

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Mage Leveling Part II: 21-39

Part I: Beginning

Once you get to level 20 some parts of your leveling will become easier, and some will not. The first change that you are going to find is that having the ability to teleport all over the world is absolutely amazing. It’s probably my favorite trait of the class overall. For that matter, it’s my favorite trait of every class in the game.

One change you are going to find with your questing and such is that being able to AoE grind through your quests is going to make them fly by a whole lot faster. Some quests are not impacted by AoE grinding at all, like ones that have you bring back Mr. Mob’s head, or ones where you have to deliver an item from Location A to Location B (though teleporting can help with that), and so on. But a lot of quests involve killing a certain number of specific mobs or collecting a number of items that drop from certain mobs. These are the ones where AoE grinding really shines and where your leveling process starts burning some serious fuel.

Where you level is not especially important, just try to focus questing to some degree in areas that have a lot of mobs grouped together that are melee mobs rather than ranged attackers or spell casters. My first Mage leveled through the 20’s in Hillsbrad Foothills much like my Paladin did. The Mage I am leveling right now did these levels, mostly, in Ashenvale. If you want to follow my path then feel free, but as long as you are questing in an area that is level-appropriate for you then you should be just fine. Just remember to stay away from the caster mobs and ranged attackers as they are the only ones that pose any real threat; at least from an AoE standpoint. If you’re going against mobs 1v1 then by all means just kill everything you see.

Scope
This post is about playing your mage and getting them leveled up to 39. I am going to talk about AoE grinding a bit, but that’s not the focus of this post. That will be in the next post in this series where I discuss the particulars of grinding. If you want to find out about how to AoE with a Frost Mage then you should probably look at that post rather than this one. AoE Grinding: Frost Mage Edition

Here I am going to show you how to spend your talent points, which glyphs you should get, what spells you should cast or avoid, general rotations, etc. So the scope of this post is the mechanics of leveling a mage, not the technique of casting your spells.

Important Spells

Levels 21-30
magespells1

Counterspell (level 24) This is an excellent spell that should always be somewhere on your screen. I don’t necessarily recommend it be on your primary action bar, but have it somewhere that you can access it. It’s great for PvE (when facing casters), and it’s excellent for PvP. Check the macro section down below for this one.

Conjure Mana Gem (level 28) This spell creates a gem that you carry around in your bags that acts just like a mana potion, restoring amounts of mana that scale with your level. The gems you make early on in the game are always single use, but as you get to end game you will mage gems that have three uses. Creating a gem costs more mana than it returns, so note that it’s something that should be prepared ahead of time.

Ice Block (level 30) This is your first “oh crap” button. It throws a solid block of ice around you for the duration making you immune to, well, everything. The drawback to it is that you’re stuck there until it wears off or you cancel the spell. Use it when you pull too much, when you have Frostbite proc in the middle of a pull that can’t be fixed, when you’re about to die, when you’re covered in DoTs/Poisons/Disease, when you fall off a cliff and can’t find Slow Fall, or when you want to see yourself in a funny little pose since it keeps you exactly as you were when you cast it. If you have the Glyph of Ice Block, use it any time you need to reset your Frost Nova cooldown. And do not feel like you have to wait out its duration. If it’s accomplished what you need it to, feel free cancel the spell early and go back to your business.

mage2
Teleport: Darnassus/Thunderbluff (level 30) At level 30 you get access to your faction’s Druid city teleport. I don’t know what the reasoning is for putting these off until level 30, but apparently Blizzard does.

Levels 31-39
mage3
Mage Armor (level 34) gives you Resist Magic 5 which isn’t great, but not bad, and also allows you to regenerate 50% of your regular mana regen during combat. A lot of people love this spell and use it in place of Frost Armor. I rarely use it myself, but it’s still a decent spell.

mage4

mage5
Alliance
Teleport & Portal: Theramore (level 35) Here you are able to both teleport and open portals for your party to travel to Theramore. This portal actually sells pretty frequently for me on my Alliance server as it’s an easier way for people to travel to that portion of the world. Tips for portals vary on every server, so you’ll have to see for yourself how much gold you might be able to make off of it. On my Ally server this portal sells for 3-5g and I see people asking in trade chat for it every other day or so.

Portals: Stormwind, Ironforge, Exodar (level 40) You can now open portals for your party members to be teleported to these major cities. Selling portals is an easy way to make a few gold, but again it varies on each server. My Alliance server still sells all portals and these typically bring in a 10g fee each. You don’t get the portal for Darnassus for a few more level yet, but that one sells for the same.

Horde
Teleport & Portal: Stonard (level 35) You are able to both teleport and open portals for your party to travel to Stonard. This portal used to sell almost constantly as it was the shortest way for you to reach Outlands for the first time since it’s just north of the Dark Portal. Now that those portals exist in every major city you might as well forget the fact that this one exists. I do find an occasional request for it from groups that want to run through Sunken Temple on my old Horde server, but for the most part people just don’t need it anymore.

Portals: Orgrimmar, Undercity, Silvermoon (level 40) You can now open portals for your party members to be teleported to these major cities. Selling portals is an easy way to make a few gold, but again it varies on each server. On my Horde server the only portals you ever really see people asking for are Org and TB, with an occasional ask for Undercity as well. The only time you ever see anyone ask for Silvermoon is when there’s a holiday event going on. For my Horde servers you’re lucky if you can get 2g for a port to any of the Horde’s major cities.

Leveling 21-30
Rotation Option 1: Frostbolt, Frostbolt, Frostbolt, Fire Blast
Rotation Option 2: Frostbolt, Frostbolt, Frostbolt, Frostbolt
Rotation Option 3: Frostbolt, Frostbolt, Cone of Cold, Frostbolt
Explanation: This will pretty well be the rotation you use for the rest of the game for single mobs. Basically your life revolves around Frostbolt spamming and throwing out a Fire Blast or Cone of Cold to finish them off.

As you may notice, at this point Fireball is completely gone from my rotations and it will see very little, if any, use throughout the rest of my playing. The only time I go back to Fireball from this point on is when I am fighting a mob that is resistant or immune to Frost damage.

If you feel a need to throw a Frost Nova out there to stop a mob that’s rushing into melee range then feel free to do so. If you like Cone of Cold more than Fire Blast then feel free to use it as well. I generally stick to using Fire Blast as my finishing move, but as you get higher in levels and mobs start having more hit points I begin to use Cone of Cold more frequently for the sake of having more chances to proc Frostbite and freezing the mob in place. Doing this gives you a chance of ending many of your fights without taking a single hit.

Remember that you have your Mana Gem for when you need to restore your mana. Unless you’re in the middle of a horrible pull and already running out of mana then using the Gem by itself should give you enough to finish the fight. If you need more mana than that, then feel free to use a Mana Potion in addition to the gem.

Leveling 31-39
Rotation Option 1: Frostbolt, Frostbolt, Frostbolt, Fire Blast
Rotation Option 2: Frostbolt, Frostbolt, Frostbolt, Frostbolt
Rotation Option 3: Frostbolt, Frostbolt, Cone of Cold, Frostbolt
Explanation: Nothing new here.

You don’t get any new offensive spells in this range, you just get higher ranks of the ones you’ve already got. Refer back to the section above for specifics.

General Tactics

There is one thing in particular that I want to point out right now. As you begin gaining more levels the mobs you are fighting are going to gain more hit points which will require you to cast more spells due to the fight taking longer. The longer a fight lasts, the more likely the mobs are to close in and start attacking you. Do not be afraid to stop casting a spell in order to save yourself. It’s alright to take off running half a second before your Frostbolt goes off. There’s nothing wrong with that; especially if you are close to dying. It’s perfectly acceptable to run away like a little girl, screaming your head off while you wait for Frost Nova’s cooldown to pop so that you can freeze the mob in place and then get back to killing him. There’s also nothing wrong with throwing a Frost Nova the second the mob comes within range and running away all together.

For a Frost Mage a strong offense truly is the best defense you can have. You defend yourself by attacking your enemies and slowing them down or freezing them in place. You don’t have to constantly be on the move and you don’t have to kite every mob that you face, but the abilities that you have give you the time and the opportunity to almost completely control the field.

I’m going to introduce now a tactic I like to call Run Through. It’s most effective when using either Frost Nova or Cone of Cold (or Dragon’s Breath if you’re a Fire Mage). It’s best represented in Rotation Option #3 up above. Assuming that you do not get a Frostbite proc from your Frostbolts, the mob is generally going to arrive near to melee range close to when your second Frostbolt is cast or in the middle of the third. I like to be aggressive on my Frost mage, so I take right to the mob’s face; so if he’s closing in after my second cast I don’t wait for the third cast I just start running into him after the second.

As you get close to the mob cast Cone of Cold and keep right on running through them. You can then cast Blink if you want or just keep on running a ways before turning around and going back to Frostbolts to finish them off. This is going to accomplish a few things 1 you’re going to deal additional damage with an instant cast, 2 you are going to put distance between yourself and the mob, and 3 you have yet another chance to proc Frostbite and freeze the target in place.

By running through a mob to do this you also open up the option of them causing a Frostbite proc from hitting you with a melee attack while you have Frost Armor on which will freeze them in place for you and make your job a whole lot easier. If you remember back in Part I, I mentioned that my hit points are just another resource for me to use, and this is what I mean by that. I’m giving away a few hit points by giving the mob a chance to hit me, but what I’m gaining out of the deal is another chance to proc Frostbite.

AoE Grinding: Frost Mage Edition
Here are your basics of AoE Grinding with a Frost Mage. For more details you will need to refer to the next post in this series which will discuss the details of AoE grinding across all levels.

Generally speaking you want to pull a group of mobs, at least 3, into a central location, Frost Nova to freeze them in place, and then move out of melee range before casting Blizzard. Now, that’s a very generalized version of it, but it’s essentially what it is. There are a lot of tricks that you can use to help you in this, and sometimes you have to sacrifice your cooldowns to make some of them work.

Step 1: Pull The first thing you have to do for any type of AoE grinding is pull the mobs. The easiest way to do this is to jump on your mount and ride around into all of their threat ranges.

Step 2: Corral The second thing you have to do is get them all bunched up together. If you’re still on your mount then ride away, turning a bit here and there to get the mobs next to the others. It’s a bit hard to explain how to do that, but practicing will help you understand. The point is to get all of the mobs close enough to each other, and to you, that a single Frost Nova will catch all of them.

Step 3: Freeze The third thing you have to do is stop them from moving. The best option for this Frost Nova, though at later levels your Water Elemental gets an ability called Freeze which is a ranged Frost Nova that works just as well if not better. Be aware that in this stage you will occasionally miss some of the mobs. It’s good to have items with +Hit on them for doing this, but they aren’t required. You don’t miss very often and even when you do it can still be managed.

Step 4: Distance The fourth thing is putting distance between yourself and the mobs. The traditional way of doing this is to use Blink to teleport yourself a short distance away. However, Blink is not 100% reliable and can often teleport you right into another mob, or group of mobs, if you haven’t been keeping an eye on your surroundings. Personally, I don’t Blink at this point unless the mobs have managed to Daze me which makes you move slower. If I’m not dazed or otherwise rooted in place (nets, webs, etc) then I simply run. I run about 10 yards away and then turn around. Whatever method you choose to use for moving, be sure to turn around and face the mobs when you’re done. The optimum distance is twice the size of your Blizzard’s AoE circle or just slightly further. Going too far means that the mobs will be out of range for Blizzard, while not going far enough means melee mobs will be hitting you in the face while you cast.

Step 5: Blizzard Now it’s time to cast your Blizzard and watch the pretty numbers fly by as they all start to die. You want to position your Blizzard so that all of the mobs (or at least all that you can manage) fall within the area of the damage. You also want the furthest edge of Blizzard’s effect to be as close to you as possible. When a mob is frozen, that freeze breaks after they’ve taken a certain amount of damage, and Blizzard deals a lot of damage. So by keeping the area as close as possible it means that when their freeze breaks they still have to walk through the AoE damage to get to you. Since we also have at least one point in the Improved Blizzard talent (minimum level 20) your Blizzard now has a chill effect that will slow the mobs down. And since we have points in the Frostbite talent, every spell with a chill effect has the ability to freeze the target in place. And every time Blizzard deals damage it chills them, meaning that every time it hits it has a chance to proc Frostbite.

Step 6: Clean Up After you’ve cast your Blizzard you need to decide what’s next. If the mobs are still alive then you have to finish them off. You can do that by either casting another Blizzard if they have a lot of health, or casting Arcane Explosion of Cone of Cold if they just have a little bit of health left. If the mobs are already dead, then your only form of clean up is collecting your loot.

Notes
If you are fighting caster mobs in addition to melee, then pulling them and rounding them up into a single group isn’t going to be as easy. Until level 30 your only real option is to have the caster’s location be where you coral all of the rest of the mobs, or to line of sight the caster and coral everyone there.

At level 30 you get an excellent spell called Ice Block. It freezes you in place and makes you immune to everything for its duration. The great thing about being immune to everything is that caster mobs will move into melee range and just start attacking the ice, as will everything else. This gives you a coral method to use when facing casters as well. If you happen to be using the Glyph of Ice Block (level 30) then every time you use Ice Block it resets/removes the cooldown on Frost Nova so that you can immediately cast Frost Nova again. If my pull has gone bad I’ll use Ice Block just to let everyone come to me and start all over again.

Another thing to note about Ice Block is that it gives you a great opportunity to change the direction you’re heading after a Pull. When you go to initiate your Coral you can use Ice Block to do it and then rotate your camera to take a look around the area. Find which direction is clear of mobs so that you know which way you’re running, and have that be the direction you go when you pop out to initiate your Freeze. Playing with an AoE Mage was the reason I turned off the Smart Pivot option in my UI > Camera options. If you’re not familiar with that, it’s what causes your camera to rotate to the direction your character is facing if you rotate the camera with a click-and-drag left click. It allows me to look in any direction, for as long as I want, without having to hold down my mouse button to keep it there. If you aren’t aware, the default settings allow you to hold down both the left and right mouse buttons to run, and when doing that it causes you to run whichever direction the mouse moves. So if you hold down the two mouse buttons coming out of an Ice Block you will run the direction that your camera is facing instead of the direction that your character is facing. When you do it, go ahead and shake the mouse left and right just a hair when you first come out because it’s the movement of the mouse while the right button is down that forces your character to turn that way, but the turn is instant so once the character takes off running the way you want them to you can stop moving the mouse and use whatever method(s) of movement you use normally.

Explanation
Because we’ve combined Frostbite with Improved Blizzard, we have the chance to constantly freeze the mobs in place during your Blizzard. That is why Frostbite is so essential to a good Frost leveling spec even though so many other people claim to hate it. If you find that Frostbite is messing up your pulls then the answer to that is simple, remove your Frost Armor before you pull. If you don’t have Frost Armor up (or Ice Barrier after level 40) then you aren’t going to freeze the mobs in place during a pull because there are not chill effects to make it happen.

I personally keep my Frost Armor spell on all the time, regardless of whether or not it might proc Frostbite and “ruin” my pulls, because I can handle the pulls that other mages apparently feel are dangerous. As I said, if my pull goes a bit bad, then I’ll just Ice Block and let them mobs come to me and then Frost Nova once the Ice Block is over. The duration of Ice Block lasts longer than all of your freezing abilities, so the mobs will break free before your Ice Block wears off. If you use the Glyph of Ice Block then your Frost Nova will already be available when IB wears off so you pop your Frost Nova and then jump right back into the steps above starting at #4-Distance.

If none of those options work because something else comes along and fouls it all up, then welcome to being in a world you don’t control! In this case, put your true mage skills to the test and kick the crap out of them anyway. You’ve got a ton of tools at your disposal to handle the mobs you’re facing, so put them to use. If you need to sheep one, then do it. If you need to Cone of Cold to try to proc Frostbite for Blizzard, then do it. If you need to run around in circles while you wait for Frost Nova to cool down again, then do it. If you want to Arcane Explosion spam hoping to slay them all anyway, then do it. If you took the Glyph of Evocation at 20 as I suggested, then try to run around until Frost Nova is up again, freeze them in place, and then hit your Evocation to restore 60% of your health and mana, and then slay them all.

If the crap hits the fan, then turn the sucker on high and start flinging that crap wherever you can until you’re either the last one standing or you’re all alone in the graveyard. These are the moments that help you grow more confident in your ability to solo content, or that teach you what mistakes not to make again.

I love screwing up an AoE pull with way more mobs than I could take on otherwise and still pull it off without a single Blizzard being cast. I’ve taken out 8 mobs with nothing but Frost Novas, Cones of Cold, and Fire Blasts while running around in circles because my attempts to freeze the mobs kept missing or not freezing. It’s not always easy, but it sure is fun when you come out of it still standing.

Macro Suggestions
There are a few new macros to bring to your attention at this point.

Counterspell: Cancel whatever spell you might be casting and immediately cast Counterspell.
#showtooltip
/stopcasting
/cast Counterspell

Ice Block: Stop whatever you’re doing and cast Ice Block
#showtooltip
/stopcasting
/cast Ice Block

Sometimes a big spell is about to go off and it needs to not happen. If stopping that spell is potentially more important than casting the one you’re on, then make the call and counter the spell. Heals and Mana Burns are the primary target for this unless you’re low on health and need to stop a dps spell from killing you.

Ice Block sometimes has to be cast on the fly simply to save your life rather than to help you in your AoE grinding. When that is the case, don’t bother with trying to get that one last spell off, just throw the barrier up and deal with the situation once it wears off.

Talent Points and Glyphs: Level 21-39

magespec39

Starting at level 21, this is how I would suggest spending your talent points.
Ice Floes +1 (3/3) Reduces the cooldown of Frost Nova, Cone of Cold, Ice Block, and Icy Veins by 20%.

Piercing Ice 3/3 +2/4/6% damage to all Frost spells.

Shatter 3/3 +17/34/50% critical strike chance against targets who are frozen.

Arctic Reach 2/3 +14/20% range to Frost Bolt, Ice Lance, Deep Freeze, and Blizzard spells and +20% radius to Frost Nova and Cone of Cold spells.

Cold Snap 1/1 Resets the cooldown of all Frost Spells.

Icy Veins 1/1 +20% spell haste and reduces pushback on channeled spells by 100% for 20 seconds.

Frost Channeling 3/3 -4/7/10% Mana cost of all Frost spells and reduces threat generated by Frost spells by 4/7/10%.

Winter’s Chill 3/3 Gives +3 chance to crit with Frostbolt, and a 33/66/100% chance that your Frost spells will increase your chance to crit the target by 1%, stacks up to 5 times.

Cold As Ice 2/2 Reduces the cooldown of your Cold Snap, Ice Barrier, and Summon Water Elemental spells by 10/20%.

Ice Floes is simply there to reduce the time on our cooldowns. Every spell that it effects is useful for AoE grinding as well as leveling in general, so reducing the cooldowns on those is great. Piercing Ice is just a general increase to all of our damage; the more damage you do, the few spells you have to cast. Shatter is going to increase the chance to crit when targets are frozen by 50%. That’s a huge boost to our crit and since every spell you’re going to use has a chance of freezing your target, that means you’ve got a whole lot of potential for landing crits. Shatter is the reason why we want Frostbite.

Arctic Reach helps with the range at which we can cast our spells. That means you can get off more Frostbolts before an enemy can close in on you, and it means you can cast your Blizzards from a greater distance as well. In addition to that it increases the radius of Frost Nova and Cone of Cold. The increased radius is crucial to what you do as a Frost Mage, but it’s also a hard thing to judge because neither of these spells shows you visibly how large their radius is to being with. It’s something you’re going to have to learn on your own and just become aware of. With practice you’ll start picking it up instinctively and you’ll just know when you can catch someone with it and when you can’t.

Cold Snap is easily one of the best talents you ever get. It completely resets all of your Frost spells and makes them available to you again. So you can blow all of your cooldowns, hit Cold Snap, and they’re all right back ready to use again. Icy Veins is a great spell for two reasons: 1 the increase spell haste means all of your Blizzard damage happens in a shorter amount of time (or other spells if you’re fighting single mobs), and 2 removing the effect of pushback means that you get the full bang from your mana-buck from your Blizzard even if you’re getting punched in the face while you do it. I don’t cast it on every Blizzard, but there’s nothing wrong with using it every chance you get. The haste from Icy Veins also works on your Evocation, by the way, so if you need to refill your life/mana in a pinch that’s the way to get it done.

Frost Channeling is last up on the list. The reduced mana here is the primary reason for taking the talent as Blizzard is a huge mana cost spell. The reduced threat is nice when you’re running with groups though it serves no purpose at all when soloing. Winter’s Chill is a stacking debuff on the target that gives you an additional 1-5% chance to crit each time you hit them with a Frost spell. The extra crit chance goes for all spells, not just Frost, but Frost spells are what stacks it from 1-5%. Cold As Ice is strictly to lower the time on your cooldowns.

Glyphs for Leveling
The only glyph slot that is going to open up for you at this level range will open up at level 30.

I recommend the Glyph of Ice Block for level 30 which resets your Frost Nova cooldown when you use Ice Block. It’s great for AoE grinding so that you can make sure that your pulls go off as smoothly as possible.

Some people prefer to go with Mage Armor here instead to get mana regeneration during combat, but since I prefer using Frost Armor I don’t personally recommend it. Since I can summon my own water on the fly and have mana gems I don’t really care about regenerating mana during combat. There’s nothing wrong with it, it’s just not my personal play style.

Gearing Up for Spellcasting
Your gear priorities don’t change: stack Spell Power and Intellect, take Stam/Hit/Crit when you can find it, and the other things don’t really matter. Hit becomes increasingly important as you level, so take it when you see it if it’s not going to cost you too much Spell Power or Int.

Again, Tailoring can provide a lot of useful upgrades for you around this level so you might want to check with a Tailor if you aren’t one yourself.

You are still going to be more likely to find a good staff at these levels that a one hander plus an off hand item, but just go with whichever you find that can give you better stats. A lot of the Inscription off-hand items open up during this level range which can give you additional spell power, so if you find a nice off hand go ahead and take it, but you’re still more likely to find a better staff overall.

And as always, keep an eye out for good wands that provide stats. If you find that you are actually using your staff for anything other than killing off mobs that are low on health, then you’re probably doing something wrong; like using Mana Shield for anything other than PvP.

Suggested Instances
I would highly suggest in your twenties that you run through either Deadmines (VC) or Shadowfang Keep (SFK) (both, if you can manage it) for good gear during those levels. You can find a staff, gloves and ring in VC, and excellent robes in SFK that will last you well into your 30’s.

In your thirties, Scarlet Monastery is the place to be. You will get gear from here that will last you into your 50’s. You can get inside the doors of all four sections at level 20 if you have someone run you through, or you can start joining LFG for it at level 28. For a mage you can find shoulders or an off-hand item in SM:Graveyard, a great robe and an excellent staff in SM:Library, and while SM:Armory offers very little, there are a couple of items in SM:Cathedral that can really help you out as well. Primarily SM:GY and SM:Lib are the areas for you to focus on, and both of them can be ran with a group of people around level 30 with little problem. Especially with your AoE skills.


Edit: (10/29/09) Added level listing for spending talent points.
Edit: (10/30/09) Finished Ice Block section near the spell description at the top and added Ice Block information to General Tactics section as well.

 
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Posted by on October 29, 2009 in Guide, Leveling, Mage

 

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Mage Leveling Part I: Beginning

In sticking with my normal routine here, I’m going to break the Mage leveling down into smaller blocks rather than lumping them all together. I already have a Mage sitting at level 80 that I have not bothered to play in about eight months, and I am currently leveling another mage on my wife’s Alliance server, Durotan-US.

I posted a while back about grinding rep grinding on my mage and getting Exalted with Darnassus at level 31, but I have not yet covered the process of leveling the character.

If you took the time to look at my post on Motivations Assessments then you’ll see that I’m a mechanics-driven guy. I like to plan out my character before I even bother rolling him. I like to know my spec, my gear, professions, where I’m going to level, instances I want to run, recipes or mats that need to be farmed to make them better or help ease a hard task, or whatever.

Part of that whole process of planning out my characters generally involves taking a look at information on blogs and on forums. I like to get a general idea of what other people are doing in case a change that I missed or had forgotten about has changed how something works or in case I just don’t know how to play the class or build to begin with. For the most part, the information I find there is useful, but there’s one big exception that just really bothers me: Frost Mages.

A lot of what you see on the Frost Mage is actually useful, it just isn’t as useful as it could be. Everywhere you look for information on the Frost Mage and how to level with them using AoE, you find some very key bits of information that people seem to agree with and support, and yet…they’re wrong.

So not only am I going to be covering the leveling process of the mage in this series, but I am going to dispel some of the many myths concerning Frost Mage leveling like talents and rotations that people tell you to avoid which actually slows down your leveling, what spells you shouldn’t use even though they all say you should, and how to realize that even though you may wear cloth armor your ice is even thicker than plate.

Choosing a Race
Mages have a pretty wide variety of races available to use. Alliance has Human, Gnome, and Draenei while Horde has Troll, Undead, and Blood Elf.

Each of the available races has is pros and cons for the class, and in the overall scheme of things you really can’t go wrong with any of them since the “cons” really make very little difference at all. But, since I did just do a whole series on all of the races, I will actually take the time to point out the pros and cons of each in relation to the Mage class in particular.

Human: High starting Intellect (23) for a large mana pool. Diplomacy to help with Reputation grinding throughout the game, and Every Man For Himself to break you out of snares so you don’t get stuck in melee.

Gnome: Very high starting Intellect (27) plus the Expansive Mind racial bonus gives you the largest starting mana pool in the game. As with the humans, Escape Artist allows you to break snares to prevent being stuck in melee.

Draenei: High starting Intellect (24) for a large mana pool. Gift of the Naaru provides a racial heal that you would otherwise lack, and Heroic Presence helps you hit with your spells more often.

Troll: Below-average starting Intellect (19) gives you the smallest mana pool for a mage, but Berserking gives you 10-30% faster casting time when used.

Undead: Above-average starting Intellect (21) gives you a decent starting mana pool. Cannibalize allows you to restore up to 35% of your health over 10 seconds if you have a dead humanoid body near you.

Blood Elf: Very high starting Intellect (27) gives you the second highest starting mana pool in the game. Arcane Torrent allows you to instantly restore 6% of your total mana every 2 minutes.

As the saying goes, play whatever you want to play. From a purely mechanics stand point, Humans and Gnomes are your best bet for Alliance, and Blood Elves and Undead are the top two for Horde. I personally prefer Human and Undead of all the ones listed.

Important Spells
Mages get tons of spells, and I would expect nothing less from a class of that name. Luckily, the majority of them are actually useful.

Going from Left to Right, Top to Bottom we have the following:
Levels 1-12
mage1

Fireball, Frostbolt, Fire Blast, Frost Nova, Arcane Intellect, Conjure Water, Polymorph, Arcane Missiles

Fireball is your heavy hitter early on and it’s the only offensive spell you start out with. It’s damage is high throughout the entire game, but it has a longer cast time than Frostbolt. It’s a great spell to use for pulling mobs where its long cast time makes little difference.

Frostbolt will be your bread and butter spell during your entire career as a Frost Mage and will be the spell you cast more than any other. It doesn’t hit as hard as Fireball, but it does have a faster cast speed and it slows enemies down as well.

Fire Blast is a great finishing move, your only instant cast spell with decent damage for a single target until higher levels.

Frost Nova is used to freeze the mobs within its radius in place so that they cannot move. Great for both crowd control, offensive, and defensive purposes. It is also a key part of Frost Mage AoE grinding.

Arcane Intellect is your primary buff spell that you should never be without. Trainable at level 1, and provides you with a bonus to your Intellect which means more mana and more spell crit.

Conjure Water is a big gold saver over time and is how you never have to worry about carrying enough water around with you to restore your mana. Cast it when you first log, while you’re standing around chatting with friends, checking your mail, scanning the auction house, etc. Get a stack or two worth of your water and then go about your business. I never have less than a full stack of water and oftentimes have 2 full stacks though I’ll end up using less than a stack during an extended play period.

Polymorph Your primary crowd control used to turn a single target into a harmless animal for 20 seconds. Use it to even the playing field with how many mobs you’re facing, use it to pull, annoy players of the opposing faction, or use it to run away from combat.

Arcane Missiles A channeled spell that does great damage if you manage to get the full channel time out of it, or a huge waste of mana if you are not able to fully channel it. A potentially deadly spell when used in addition to frost spells.

Levels 12-20
mage2
Frostbolt, Fire Blast, Frost Nova, Blizzard, Frost Armor, Evocation, Arcane Explosion, Blink

Nothing new about the first few spells up there.

Blizzard you get at level 20 and it is the key to your AoE grinding. It has a high mana cost, but with its high damage and large radius the cost is well worth it when facing multiple mobs.

Frost Armor you get early on in your playing and though it’s protection does help keep you alive when enemies manage to move within melee range of you, the true beauty of the spell comes when you properly spend your talent points turning it from a purely defensive spell to both offensive and defensive at the same time (more on that in Part II).

Evocation is key to reducing your downtime by allowing you to restore 60% of your total mana over a few seconds. It is a channeled spell so should only be used when you are not getting hit (unless you have no mana and need to get whatever you can). When you use the Glyph of Evocation as well you also restore 60% of your total health over the channeled time as well.

Arcane Explosion an instant cast AoE spell that’s great for finishing off mobs that are low on health. The spell is very taxing on your mana and should not be used any more than you need to, but it is a very helpful spell when utilized correctly.

Blink is a ten yard teleport that can save your life, shorten your travel time, or give you an advantage in combat.

Teleports
ports
Alliance (left column): Stormwind, Iron Forge, Exodar
Horde (right column): Orgrimmar, Undercity, Silvermoon

Each of these spells is gained at level 20 for your respective faction, allowing you to teleport yourself to the respective city. At higher levels you will be able to open portals allowing your party members to travel to the chosen city as well.

Leveling 1-6: Starting Zone
Rotation Option 1: Fireball, Frostbolt, Frostbolt, Frostbolt, Frostbolt
Rotation Option 2: Fireball, Frostbolt, Fireball, Fireball, Frostbolt
Rotation Option 3: Fireball, Fireball, Fireball, Fireball, Fireball
Explanation: You start out with just Fireball and Frost Armor, with Arcane Intellect being trainable for 9 copper at level 1 as well. Initially you’ll just Fireball the snot out of everything until it’s dead. Fireball hits harder than Frostbolt, but it also has a higher mana cost and a longer cast time as well. I stick to Rotation 1, personally. But you don’t get Frostbolt until level 4 so for the first few levels you have no option other than #3.

Frost Armor is a decent armor buff for you and it slows mobs down when they hit you. It’s not really necessary to have it on at this low level because nothing has a chance of killing you anyway, but it will save your life later on so you might as well get used to having it on at all times. Arcane Intellect is trainable at level 1, so as soon as you have a few coppers in your belt pouch go grab that for +3 Int, which equates to +45 mana, which at this level is an additional 2 spells worth of mana.

If you know how to kite, then you may want to start practicing your kiting while using Frostbolt. Basically you cast the spell and wait for it to leave your hand, and the second it does so you start moving away from your target. The idea is to use the slowing effect of Frostbolt to constantly keep yourself out of your opponent’s reach. If you’re a kiting veteran you can pretty easily make it all the way through level 6 and out of your starting zone without ever taking a single point of damage.

Leveling 6-12: Surrounding Map
Rotation Option 1: Frostbolt, Frostbolt, Frostbolt, Fire Blast
Rotation Option 2: Fireball, Frostbolt, Frostbolt, Frostbolt
Rotation Option 3: Frostbolt, Arcane Missiles, Fireblast, Wand
Explanation: At level 6 you get Fire Blast, and at level 8 Arcane Missiles. Both of them are often considered to cost more mana than they are worth, though Arcane Missiles is more accepted now than it was in previous patches.

This is the level bracket where you find a lot of different advice on what sort of spells you should be casting. A lot of mages like to keep using Fireball as their pulling spell and then move into Frostbolts, but I personally step away from using Fireball at this level and don’t bother going back unless I’m bored and just want to change things up a bit.

I use Fire Blast from level 6 all the way through level 80, it’s my finishing move, it’s something I use to pull when I’m AoE grinding, it’s constantly on my bar bound to my 4-key and it never leaves. Some people don’t like it, some think it’s mana cost is too high or it’s damage is too low, but regardless of what their opinion is I think it’s a wonderful spell.

Rotation 3 up there is one that I never bothered with before but found to be extremely effective this time around. Arcane Missiles is a channeled spell that shoots out little purple missiles at the chosen mob. It’s an expensive spell, but as long as you get to channel the whole thing then you pretty well get your money’s worth. If you don’t get to use the full channel time then it’s a definite mana drain and not worth the cost. I found though that I was able to use Frostbolt once, follow it up immediately with Arcane Missiles, and by the time the channel was up the mob was either already dead or within a single Fire Blast or one shot from my wand away from dying.

Level 10 is where you get one of your primary spells for the rest of the game, Frost Nova. When you first get it the main benefit that you get from it is just keeping mobs from closing into melee range with you while you back away, but later on it’s going to provide you with the foundation of your AoE grinding as well as significantly increasing both your chance to crit and the amount of damage that you deal when you crit due to the talent points that you invest.

I also want to point out that level 12 is when you can learn Slow Fall. This is one of the best utility spells in the game if you take the time to learn how to make use of it. I get the minor glyph for this spell at level 15 and it never gets changed. It can save your life in both PvE and PvP, it can save you time and effort when you’re traveling, it can screw with other players if you feel so inclined, etc. There are a lot of uses for this spell, and regardless of it being utility rather than dps or defense, it’s one of my favorite spells in the game from any class.

Leveling 12-20: Secondary Zone
Rotation Option 1: Frostbolt, Frostbolt, Frostbolt, Fire Blast
Rotation Option 2: Fireball, Frostbolt, Frostbolt, Frostbolt
Rotation Option 3: Frostbolt, Arcane Missiles, Fireblast, Wand
Explanation: Basically the same as before.

You don’t see a whole lot of changes in what you do or in what spells are available during these levels, so it’s pretty much more of the same thing.

At level 14 you are introduced to Arcane Explosion which is a decent AoE spell that is centered around the caster, but it is also one of the worst mana draining spells you get throughout the entire game. It does go on my primary action bar and it does stay there the entire game, but it only gets used in specific situations. The damage on it is not great, so I tend to use it either to pull multiple mobs at a time or to finish off mobs that are low on health and other spells like Fire Blast are on cooldown. After I start AoE grinding, I often use Arcane Explosion to finish off the group of mobs when their health is low enough that casting a second Blizzard is a waste.

At level 16 your Arcane Missiles reaches Rank 2 and gets a pretty significant boost in damage. I actually used Rotation 3 to kill a lot of mobs at this level just because I did not expect it to be nearly as effective as it was and I was surprised by that compared to when I leveled my previous mage. I pretty well stop using Arcane Missiles at level 20 in all things except pvp.

Find a rotation that works for you during these levels and stick to it. A big part of being a mage involves spamming the same buttons over and over until things die. Adding kiting and other forms of movement into your combat does a lot for keeping the mage an interesting class to play and helping you be ready to react to whatever situation you might find yourself in. Nothing sucks more than plinking off a single mob only to find another mob walk up and agro you from behind. Getting used to being able to move on the fly early on will end up saving your life later in the game. It helps to always be aware of your surroundings.

After you hit level 20 you finally find yourself able to AoE grind effectively and much of your world begins to change as you find out that you go from spamming a couple of keys to kill a single mob turns into casting a handful of spells to kill an entire group of them.

General Tactics
There are a lot of different tactics that you can employ as a Frost Mage. Frost Mages have more potential for crowd control than any other class. Your primary spells slow down your targets and after spending talent points even have the chance of freezing them in place all together. You have Polymorph that allows you to change a target into a harmless animal for a time, and spells such as Blink (level 20) allow you to move around the field faster than your opponents.

Kiting is a great tactic to use for any class that can actually do it, and only a Hunter has the potential to kite mobs better than a Mage. Practice kiting early on and get used to using it.

Prior to level 20 your options for taking on multiple mobs at once are fairly limited, but you do have some options. If you know that you are going to pull multiple mobs whether you want to or not, likely because the mobs are right next to each other, then the best way to take on those mobs is to cast Frostbolt on the target that you want to kill first and as soon as you start casting the spell go ahead and click on the other mob to target him as we get ready to use a crowd control spell on it.

I use the Quartz addon to tell me when I can start casting another spell but if you don’t have access to an addon like that then just start spamming the button for your next cast which will be a crowd control spell. If you have Polymorph already, then that’s the spell to cast on that second mob and as soon as you start casting it you need to retarget the original mob. By doing this you are going to slow down the first mob by hitting them with Frostbolt (if it misses, it misses, just go with the flow), the second mob is going to agro you as soon as your Frostbolt hits/misses that first mob and come running after you. Before he takes more than a couple of steps though he’s going to get hit with your crowd control which essentially takes him out of the fight until the spell wears off which should be more than enough for you to kill the first mob.

After the crowd control hits it’s time to focus fire on the first target and take them out. If you managed to start this type of battle off from a distance, which you should have unless you had no other option, then it’s likely that using this method along with some amount of kiting will allow you to take out both mobs without taking any damage yourself. Another option you can consider in this type of battle is to go ahead and use Frost Nova when the first mob starts to get within range of you. You can then spend a few seconds running away from the first mob and then turning back around to Frostbolt them again before they are able to start moving.

Facing melee mobs is your specialty and where you can really show overwhelming strength because of your many slowing and freezing spells. Caster mobs are slightly harder since they are going to hit you just as much as you hit them, but that’s where a couple of your other spells come into play, primarily Dampen Magic (which lowers the amount of damage you take from spells) and Counterspell (which stops a spell from being cast), though you will have to wait a few levels before these are made available to you.

Macro Suggestions
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 paladin 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:
#showtooltip
/startattack
/cast Fireball

At level 4 I add a similar macro for Frostbolt:
#showtooltip
/startattack
/cast Frostbolt

After I get more levels and decide to remove Fireball from my normal rotation I replace both of those with a single macro instead:
#showtooltip
/startattack
/cast [modifier:alt] Fireball; Frostbolt

The macro above will cast Frostbolt by default, but will change to Fireball if I hold Alt when I cast the spell.

Macros like the one above are time savers and space savers (the third option is anyway). They set your character to attack the target with your melee weapon and then start casting a spell. The benefit of that is that you will attack the mob when they get within melee range when you aren’t casting a spell. It also helps you to target mobs without having to click on them or tab to start off as it will auto-target the nearest mob that is in front of you and within range if you do not already have a target selected.

Talent Points and Glyphs: Level 10-20
This is the talent build that I recommend for leveling with your Frost Mage up to level 20. As you progress higher in your levels a lot of the talents that are only getting some points right now will be capped and some talents that are being skipped now will be filled in. Frost Mages get a lot of use out of their talent tree.

talent_mage20

3/3 Frostbite: Gives all of your Frost spells a 5/10/15% chance to freeze the target in place for 5 seconds.

2/3 Ice Flows: Reduces the cooldown of Frost Nova, Cone of Cold, Ice Block, and Icy Veins by 7/14%.

3/3 Ice Shards: Increases the critical hit damage of your Frost spells by 33/66/100%.

2/3 Precision: Reduces the mana cost and improves the hit chance of all spells by 1/2%.

1/3 Improved Blizzard: Adds a chill effect to your Blizzard spell reducing the target’s speed by 25% for 1.5 seconds.

Frostbite is the most controversial of these talent points and the one that most guides tell you to avoid when trying to AoE grind with your Frost Mage. Where they feel that it can ruin their pulls, I’m here to tell you that it’s going to save your life as well as help you kill faster which reduces the mana you have to spend and because of that reduce your downtime. Ice Flows reduces the cooldown of some of your most beneficial spells which also reduces your down time.

Ice Shards is going to double the amount of damage that you deal with your Frost spells when you crit. At this level that’s just a nice little bonus when you manage to crit, but in a few levels you are going to greatly increase your chance to get crits with spells while your target is frozen (which is why Frostbite is especially powerful in AoE grinding). Precision gives you a better chance to hit which is always nice, but it also reduces the mana cost of all of your spells so that you can keep on grinding for longer periods of time. The 3% reduction might not be all that significant, but it’s going to add up over time.

Improved Blizzard is going to add a chill effect when it hits which will make your AoE grinding that much more effect, and it will give Blizzard more chances to proc Frostbite on the target which will freeze them in place, which in turn will give Shatter (the talent that increase crit chance on frozen targets I mentioned above) a chance to proc, which then gives you the benefit of doubled crit damage from Ice Shards.

As I said before, you will be filling out these talent points as you gain more levels, so do not worry too much right now about the fact that you are leaving some of them incomplete.

Glyphs for Leveling
Mages have a decent number of glyphs to choose from, and most of them are actually pretty good. Some of them are crap, which is the case for all classes.

You get both a Major and Minor glyph slot when you hit level 15 with any character. I personally start off with the following Glyphs:

Glyph of Frost Nova [Major] Increases the amount of damage that a target can take before breaking the freeze effect of Frost Nova by 20%.

Glyph of Evocation [Major] Also grants you 60% of your total health over the channeled time of your Evocation spell.

Glyph of Slowfall [Minor] Removes the reagent requirement of the Slowfall spell.

Glyph of Frost Nova is going to help you to some extent prior to level 20. It is not a great glyph that you will use throughout your entire career, but it will help give you better control while leveling. I use this glyph when I hit 15 and I replace it with Evocation when I get to level 20. If you don’t feel like wasting the glyph then you can either wait or use another one in its place, or if you’d like you can use it instead of Evocation.

Glyph of Evocation changes the spell so that you restore 60% of both your health and mana over the channel duration. Being able to restore 60% of both every 3 minutes is huge for reducing your down time and it can be used in the middle of combat just as easily as it can between pulls. You can use it after casting Frost Nova or Polymorph to allow you to regain most of your health and mana in the middle of a big fight, a bad pull, or when an unexpected enemy paths into you in the middle of a fight. I use this glyph at level 20 and keep it there until I get close to level 80.

Another option that is open to you for your Major glyph is the Glyph of Frostbolt which increases the damage of Frostbolt by 5%. The down side of the glyph is that it also removes the chill effect of Frostbolt, which is one of the primary reasons for using it in the first place. I do not suggest the glyph, but if you find that dealing more damage is more important to you than controlling your targets then it is a good replacement when fighting single mobs.

Most of the Mage’s minor glyphs suck pretty bad. Some increase spell durations, some reduce mana costs, and others have no effect on the game (such as the Glyph of Penguin).

I personally pick Slowfall because I use the spell constantly. Slowfall can save you travel time, can save you from a fall that would have otherwise killed you, or it can be used to great benefit in PvP. Taking away the reagent requirement for the spell allows you to cast it whenever you want to for nothing more than its low mana cost. At this level of play I would not consider any other minor glyph to be more valuable.

Gearing Up for Spellcasting
Your primary stat is, was, and forever will be – Spell Power. It’s the bread and butter of everything you do. If your damage sucks then you suck, so stack this whenever you can.

Next in line is going to be Intellect for your mana pool and spell crit. If you don’t have mana then you aren’t going anywhere except to the spirit healer. A tank needs plate armor (or thick fur) to survive, and you need mana. It doesn’t matter how much health you have or how much damage you can deal if you don’t have the mana to put any of your spells to use.

A lot of other things can help you as well, Stamina for health, Hit so that your spells actually do what they are intended to do, Crit to make those spells hit even harder, and so on. That’s where you should be looking after Spell Power and Intellect are covered.

Tailoring 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.

Part II: Levels 21-39

 
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Posted by on October 16, 2009 in Guide, Leveling, Mage

 

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