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Priest Leveling: 1-29 Shadow

I covered Shadow Priests just a couple of months ago, but a lot of the feedback I got was from people who were having a much harder time than I was leveling their Priests. So rather than continuing on I deleted my Priest and started over to take another look at it with a special focus on watching my mana and my downtime.

What I found was that I did in fact have a lot of mana issues at various stages of play if I stuck to a specific rotation. I also found that I naturally change my rotations based on my mana without actively thinking of doing so. So I changed how I did that and tried to stick to specific rotations and watch my mana to see what works and what doesn’t in various situations.

Playing a Shadow Priest
In the past I’ve linked Shadow Priests to Affliction Warlocks as both classes/specs focus on using DoT’s and Drains for the majority of their damage, with some direct damage spells thrown in to help speed up the killing process. While the similarities are there, the classes actually play much differently while leveling. For example, on my Affliction Warlock I simply cast my DoT’s on my current target and then go find another target while I wait on the first one to die. With the Shadow Priest I can’t rely solely on my DoT’s because the biggest part of my damage is actually my drain (Mind Flay).

So basically, playing a Shadow Priest isn’t really like playing a Warlock, it’s like playing a Shadow Priest.

Shadow Priests have more survivability than any other DPS caster. You have defensive spells such as bubbles and heals, you have spells that heal you while you deal damage with them, and the spell you cast more than any other applies a slowing effect that means you’ll rarely have a mob close in to melee range before it’s dead. And if that wasn’t enough, you also have fear effects to send them all running away (or cowering).

Shadow-Specific Tips
In my previous Shadow Priest guide I mentioned that you have two types of DPS spells, but really you have three: channeled spells (Mind Flay), direct damage (Mind Blast), and DoT’s (Shadow Word: Pain). Knowing how those work and how/when to use them determines how effective you are at playing the class. The most important thing to do early on is to learn your spells.

Right now Shadow Priests have more trouble with mana issues than any other class in the game. Healers can run out of mana in no time if they cast the wrong spells, but Priests can run out of mana in no time even casting the right spells. The key is to know your spells. You need to be aware of how much damage your spells can deal, and how much mana it takes to cast the.

DoT = OOM: The first thing you need to know about playing a Shadow Priest is that even though DoT’s are a big deal for you, casting them is a complete waste of mana if they don’t have time to deal their damage. If you cast Shadow Word: Pain on a target and then promptly kill it within the next 2 seconds then congratulations, you just wasted your mana.

  • Mind Flay: 9% base mana
  • Mind Blast: 17% base mana
  • SW:Pain: 22% base mana
  • Devouring Plague: 25% base mana

Channel Time = Up Time: The next thing that you need to know is that Mind Flay is your best friend. The more you use Mind Flay, the less time you’re going to spend drinking in between pulls. Mind Flay deals great damage, it slows the target’s movement speed, and it has the cheapest mana cost of all of your damaging spells. You can cast Mind Flay 2.5 times for the same mana cost of a single Shadow Word: Pain, or 2.8 times for the same mana cost of a single Devouring Plague.

Important Spells & Abilities
Priests have a fair number of spells and abilities at their disposal, so it’s always good to know which ones you have available to you. I’m not going to list every spell that you get here, I’m just going to point out the ones that you’ll use at least fairly often while leveling. Number in parenthesis after spell names indicate the level at which you can train the spell.

Level 1-10

  • Smite (1): Smite an enemy for 33 to 35 Holy damage.
  • Shadow Word: Pain (4): A word of darkness that causes 66 Shadow damage over 18 sec.
  • Power Word: Shield (6): Draws on the soul of the friendly target to shield them, absorbing 177 damage. Lasts 30 sec. While the shield holds, spellcasting will not be interrupted by damage.
  • Inner Fire (7): A burst of Holy energy fills the caster, increasing the armor value from items by 60% and spell power by ??. Lasts 30 min.
  • Mind Blast (10): Blasts the target for 50 to 52 Shadow damage.
  • Mind Flay (10-Shadow Spec): Assault the target’s mind with Shadow energy, causing Shadow damage over 3 sec and slowing their movement speed by 50%.

Smite is your starting spell, and your primary nuke for your first 10 levels. Typical Priest leveling involves Smite-spam where you just cast this over and over until things are dead (2-3 casts in most cases). I would tell you not to get used to casting it since this is the only guide you’ll see it in, but you really don’t have any choice at this level. As a Holy spell, you cannot cast Smite in Shadowform.

At level 4 you get Shadow Word: Pain which is your bread and butter DoT (damage over time) spell. You’ll use this one for the rest of your shadowy career, so get used to it, but it’s also one of the highest mana costs, so don’t just fling it around carelessly.

Power Word: Shield is your “bubble” spell, absorbing damage for you so that you don’t actually take damage. It’s a great spell while you’re leveling in this bracket or when you need to act as a healer. You’ll use it quite a bit while leveling, especially when you’re doing it solo. PW:S is a Holy spell, but it falls under the Discipline tree so it can be cast while in Shadowform. Use it on yourself when soloing, or on your tank when using LFG (unless your healer is a Priest, then leave the bubbles to them).

Inner Fire is your first real buff, and one you want to keep up at all times. It provides you with a bonus to your Armor which will make you take less damage in combat, and it also provides you with a nice Spellpower boost. While Inner Fire is a Holy spell, it’s listed under the Discipline tree so it can be cast while in Shadowform.

Mind Blast is your first shadow nuke, dealing decent damage with a fairly short cast time. The 8 second cooldown on it prevents you from spamming it, but if you wanted to just constantly nuke things to death then you would have rolled a Mage, right?

For choosing to become a Shadow Priest at level 10 you’re awarded use of the Mind Flay spell. Mind Flay is a channeled spell that deals a lot of damage over 3 seconds and also slows the target by 50% while it’s being channeled. This is your most mana-efficient spell, and the slowing effect is one of your best defensive tools by keeping melee mobs away from you.

Level 11-20

  • Power Word: Fortitude (14): Power infuses all party and raid members, increasing their Stamina for 1 hour. If the target is in your party or raid, all party and raid members will be affected.
  • Psychic Scream (14): The caster lets out a psychic scream, causing 5 enemies within 8 yards to flee for 8 sec. Damage caused may interrupt the effect.
  • Holy Fire (20): Consumes the enemy in Holy flames that cause 45 to 55 Holy damage and an additional 14 Holy damage over 7 sec.

Power Word: Fortitude is another buff that you want up at all times, which will increase your party’s Stamina for 1 hour. PW:Fort is another Holy spell found in the Discipline tree, so it can be cast while in Shadowform.

Psychic Scream is your version of crowd control and/or emergency button. It causes up to 5 targets around you to run away in fear for 8 seconds or until damaged. I like to use it while questing by casting SW:Pain on several targets to draw them to me and then using Scream to send them running away where I’ll pick them all off with either spells or my wand (assuming SW:P isn’t enough to kill them by itself). Just remember, the damage from your DoT’s will break the effect, so it’s best used before you start spreading SW:P, or when you’re taking a lot of damage and need a chance to escape.

I list Holy Fire here only because it’s a good spell to use in this leveling range when you’re pulling a boss or an elite mob with a lot of health. It does good damage and has a longer cast time than all of your Shadow nukes, and it also has a DoT effect for extra damage. You won’t use it anymore once you get Shadowform at 29, but until then it’s a decent damaging spell. Once you reach level 29 and pick up Shadowform you can forget that this spell exists.

Level 21-29

  • Fade (24): Fade out, temporarily reducing all your threat for 10 sec.
  • Dispel Magic (26): Dispels magic on the target, removing 2 harmful spell from a friend or 2 beneficial spell from an enemy.
  • Devouring Plague (28): Afflicts the target with a disease that causes 88 Shadow damage over 24 sec. 15% of damage caused by the Devouring Plague heals the caster. This spell can only affect one target at a time.

At level 24 you get Fade, to reduce your threat generated. If you’re solo questing then it doesn’t do much of anything for you. It has some small amount of value in PvP against player pets if used properly, but it really shines in dungeons so that you don’t draw agro, or to lose that agro if you do happen to draw it.

Dispel Magic is how you’ll get rid of debuffs that hit you, or how you remove buffs from enemy targets. You’ll probably use that one more for PvP in this level range, but it’s good to know you have it. If you do a lot of dungeon runs you’ll start to see debuffs around the level 30 range that are worth clearing off with this. As a member of the Discipline tree, Dispel Magic can be cast while in Shadowform.

Last up we have our other Shadow DoT for this level range, Devouring Plague. The great thing about this one is that it also heals you for 15% of the damage that it deals. While that might not be a huge amount of healing by itself, when you combine that with the 15% damage reduction from being in Shadowform and the ability to bubble and/or heal yourself you can really start to see just how powerful a Shadow Priest can really be. But just so you don’t forget, Devouring Plague is the highest mana cost spell you have so don’t cast it when it’s not needed.

Leveling a Shadow Priest

  • Questing Single Mob: Mind Blast, Mind Flay, Mind Flay
  • Questing Multi-Mob: (First target) Mind Blast, Shadow Word: Pain – (Adds) SW:Pain, Mind Flay
  • LFG Trash Rotation: Shadow Word: Pain (all targets), Mind Blast/Mind Flay (as needed)
  • LFG Boss Rotations: Shadow Word: Pain, Devouring Plague, Mind Blast, Mind Flay x3, Mind Blast

The rotations I had in my last guide suck. They didn’t suck for me, but they sucked for a lot of my readers. Why? Because not everyone loads their toons with enchanted gear from level 1. My level 1 toons generally have around 760 Mana, and I usually top 1,000 by level 8-10 to give you an idea of what I’m talking about.

So if you were following the previous guide, please accept my apologies for leading you astray. Now, on to rotations that actually work.

I’ve got a few different rotations here so that you can find one that fits your play style. The rotation I don’t mention is the one you use prior to level 10, which is simply spamming Smite until everything is dead. Once you get to level 10 these options start to open up for you.

The first rotation up there is what I typically do. It costs 35% of your base mana in total. It will basically kill any mob you come across while questing. If you find that it’s not enough then you can either use your wand to finish them off or add either a third Mind Flay or a second Mind Blast.

The second rotation is one I use when I know I’m going to pull more than one mob just because of how close they are to each other. It costs 39% of your base mana to kill the first target, and another 31% for each additional target. The damage from SW:Pain is almost enough to kill any mob you find while questing, but you don’t want to sit there taking damage from multiple sources while you wait the 18 seconds it takes for SW:Pain to do its full damage. So by loading another damage spell into the mix as well you significantly lower the amount of time it takes to kill them. If you’re facing more than 2 mobs, be sure to cast SW:P on all of them before you cast the Mind Flay on your second target.

When it comes to trash in LFG you need to make a decision based on how quickly the group is killing the mobs. If the mobs die quickly then just use the single mob questing rotation instead. If it takes more than 10 seconds for the mobs to start dying though, go ahead and use the LFG Trash Rotation, which is to spam SW:Pain on all of the targets and then pick one of them to start burning down with Mind Blast and Mind Flay casts. I’ll generally Mind Blast one of the targets with less health to speed its death, and then I’ll start the Mind Flays on the mobs that have the most health.

Also, when using LFG I like to cast Fade before it becomes an issue, so I’ll cast it right after spreading SW:P to all targets during trash. Boss fights are based on how well my tank has done with threat so far. If he’s good on threat then I’ll Fade after the second Mind Blast, otherwise I’ll do it after the first Mind Blast.

Talent Spec: 29 Shadow Priest

I’ve got two talent specs for you to choose from here. The one that I prefer is the one on the left which puts two points into Twisted Faith for a 2% increase to Shadow Damage and counts all of my Spirit as Hit. The second option uses those two points to max out Improved Mind Blast which reduces its cooldown by 2 seconds and reduces healing on the target by 10%. I don’t like to miss, so I prefer to get Twisted Faith early, but if you would rather get more Mind Blast casts in then feel free to choose Option 2.

  • Darkness 3/3: Spell haste increased by 3%.
  • Improved Shadow Word: Pain 2/2: Increases the damage of your Shadow Word: Pain spell by 6%.
  • Twisted Faith 2/2: Increases your shadow spell damage by 2%, and grants you spell hit rating equal to 100% of any Spirit gained from items or effects.
  • Improved Mind Blast 1/3: Reduces the cooldown of your Mind Blast spell by 0.5 sec., and while in Shadowform your Mind Blast also has a 33% chance to reduce all healing done to the target by 25% for 10 sec.
  • Improved Devouring Plague 2/2: Your Devouring Plague instantly deals damage equal to 30% of its total periodic effect.
  • Shadowform: [Instant cast] Assume a Shadowform, increasing your Shadow damage by 15%, reducing all damage done to you by 15%, and increasing all party and raid members spell haste by 5%. However, you may not cast Holy spells while in this form.

I decided to switch things up a little bit this time and I found in leveling the new Priest that it was better for me to start with Darkness for the increased Haste and then fill in with Improved SW:Pain after. You can do them in either order, but I like how good that Haste is at low levels.

From there I suggest going Twisted Faith first to improve our hit chance. I used to not worry about Hit very much at all while leveling, but after leveling my Rogue I’ve seen the real value in hit while leveling, so I suggest you go ahead and pick this up now. Improved Mind Blast shortens the cooldowns for one of our nukes, and has a PvP’ish benefit to reduce healing as well. If you don’t like Twisted Fate, feel free to move it’s points over to this for now and then fill TF in at later levels where the hit will be more important. You’ll want 3/3 here eventually anyway so that choice is yours.

Improved Devouring Plague won’t help you much when you first start putting points into it, because you won’t actually get the spell until level 28 though I’m suggesting you take the points in this talent at 25 and 27. Even though those points get “wasted” for a few levels it will pay off once you get the spell.

At level 29 we get the signature Shadow Priest ability, Shadowform with a 15% damage increase, a 15% reduction of damage taken, and a 5% Haste buff that we grant to our whole party.

Glyphs

Prime Glyhphs

In the previous guide I had SW:Pain listed first because I’m a DoT spreading fool. Taking another look at things while paying attention to my mana and all though, I have to say that Mind Flay takes the top slot because it’s going to be cast more often. I believe in Patch 4.0.6 they’re also changing the glyph so that it’s a straight damage increase, taking away the SW:Pain requirement. Shadow Word: Pain is still a great glyph though, especially if you’re looking at doing some LFG runs for those boss fights and large trash packs.

Major Glyphs

  • Glyph of Psychic Scream: Targets of your Psychic Scream spell now tremble in place instead of fleeing in fear, but the cooldown of Psychic Scream is increased by 3 sec.
  • Glyph of Fade: Reduces the cooldown of your Fade spell by 9 sec.

I have two options for your Major glyphs as well. I’m going to rank Psychic Scream above Fade here strictly because Fade has no use (at this level) while soloing. If you’re a solo quester, go for the Scream. If you’re going to do a lot of dungeon runs or if you like to PvP a lot, then I suggest you go with Fade first instead. Again, you’ll end up using both of them eventually, so you can’t really go wrong here.

HOWEVER – If you’re low on cash or glyphs are really high in price on your server, ignore your Major glyph for right now and wait until you can use the Glyph of Spirit Tap at level 32.

Minor Glyphs

Two options for Minor glyphs too. Since you’ll use PW:Fortitude both soloing and in groups, it’s the clear winner for me. Fading will only be used when you’re in a group. Just from the frequency of casting them I’d go Fortitude over Fading, but either one will work. Minor glyphs are just that, minor, so don’t worry about screwing this one up as neither one really provides any significant benefit.

Again, if glyphs are high priced or you’re low on cash, you might want to wait until level 34 and use the Glyph of Levitate to remove the reagent requirement from the spell.

Gearing Up Your Priest
As a typical caster you’re most interested in Intellect since it increases your total mana, your spellpower, and your spell critical strike chance. However, unlike most other DPS casters you also benefit from Spirit. If you put points in the Twisted Faith talent then your spirit counts as Hit rating which is a nice bonus, but Spirit is also the stat that determines your mana regeneration rate. As the class and spec with the most mana issues in the game right now, you can use all the mana returns you can get your shadowy fingers on.

Mana Issues: Intellect > Spirit >= Haste > Crit
No Mana Issues: Intellect > Haste > Spirit > Crit

Intellect is the most important stat because it has a more direct effect on your performance than any other.

I listed Spirit and Haste as being roughly equal because even though Haste is actually a better stat for your DPS, Spirit plays a big role right now in our poor mana regen and has the benefit of giving Hit if you’re specced for it as well.

Now that all of our spells can score critical hits, including our DoT’s, Critical Strike Rating has become more appealing. I wouldn’t rank it higher than the others with the possible exception of Spirit if you’re having no mana issues at all, but it definitely has an impact and the more you have the better. I would take all of the other stats over Crit though, unless it’s truly an absurdly large amount of Crit for your level (not likely).

 
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Posted by on January 25, 2011 in Caster, Class, Guide, Leveling, Priest

 

Mage Leveling: 1-29 Frost

Today we’re getting back to the leveling guides, this time with the low level Frost Mage. I originally had the Frost and Fire posts combined, but decided that since the style of play really is different now that Frost has a pet that they deserved their own posts.

Right now I plan on bouncing back and forth between the two specs until I get you all the way to the level cap and then whether or not I do an Arcane post will be decided by whether or not I roll an Arcane Mage… which isn’t very likely.

But, first thing’s first:



Playing a Frost Mage
As I mentioned in the 1-29 Fire post, each Mage spec has it’s own focus or specialty, and for Frost that is control. Frost is the king of control and survival, taking me back to the days where I dominated Magic: the Gathering tournaments with something we called a Stasis Deck…

.. oh, sorry. What were we talking about? Oh, Frost Mages. Yeah, sorry about that. It’s been a long time.

So yeah, Frost is all about controlling your opponents, whether they be mobs or other players. Cataclysm actually increased our control capabilities by giving us more ways to freeze our targets and also by making the Water Elemental a permanent pet. They also did us the favor of providing one of our most effective damaging spells, Ice Lance, at level 28 rather than waiting until after level 60, so we’re now able to turn the defensive freezing effects into deadly offensive damage.

But don’t fall into the trap of thinking that just because we have more control means that we deal less damage. Sure, our spells might be slightly lower in damage than the other specs’, but by combining control with the proper spells you can actually deal more damage in a single hit than either of the other two specs.



General Mage Tactics
Mages are known for two things: Being hard to kill, and being incredibly squishy. That’s right, we’re hard to kill because we’re so easy to kill. Why are we easy to kill? Because we wear t-shirts instead of plate armor. Why are we hard to kill? Because we’re often able to kill you before you can do anything to make our t-shirts matter.

As a spellcaster your primary source of defense is to stay away from things that want to hurt you. That doesn’t mean avoiding combat, it means avoiding damage. You’re a ranged class, so don’t get into melee combat when you don’t have to. That doesn’t mean you have to run away from everything, but it does mean you don’t want to run up and hit things with your staff or stab them with a dagger when you could instead cast several spells at them before they can cause you any harm.

Mages have more crowd control options than any other class, in general. Warlocks can beat us when it comes to using CC on certain types of mobs because they have spells that work on things that we don’t, but generally speaking we’re the kings of CC. We can freeze, stun, slow, and polymorph our targets and in some cases we can do those to multiple enemies at once.

Mages also have a number of defensive spells that can either prevent damage or remove harmful effects. If you’re stunned or “rooted” (you can’t move because of a spell/effect) you can cast Blink and it will remove those effects from you. If you are poisoned or diseased you can cast Ice Block to remove all of those effects as well. And if you’re about to die you can always just jump off of a cliff…just make sure you cast Slow Fall before you hit the ground.

While you won’t see it in this level range, Frost also has additional defensive tools that the other specs do not as well as offering talents that can lower the cooldown time of some of those abilities that allow them even more control and survival.

Frost-Specific Tips
Prior to 4.x being released the people who disliked Frost did so because they felt their spells hit for less damage, which was true. The trade off was that Frost spells also had shorter cast times and they did have to give up some damaging potential in exchange for their increased survivability. But the real problem was that so many people who played Mages were afraid of getting killed in melee that they overplayed their defenses to stay alive even if there wasn’t any real threat.

So here are some things to keep in mind when you’re playing a Frost Mage:

  1. Use your pet – constantly.
  2. Use the terrain to your advantage.
  3. Use the extra time to cast additional spells.
  4. Take advantage of Crowd Control.
  5. Chill, there’s no need to hurry.

Use Your Pet: The biggest mistake that Frost Mages are making right now is that they’re trying to treat their pet like a Warlock treats his, which is to say they just leave it alone and let it do its thing. The Water Elemental can do some decent damage with his attack, but his real value is actually in his special ability called Freeze. At level 10 when you get the pet this ability is mostly helpful in the form of defense by keeping mobs away from you, or in keeping fleeing mobs from bringing other mobs into the mix. Macro this ability. Use it. Love it. Embrace it.

Terrain: As a caster you have the huge advantage of being able to use terrain to your benefit where melee classes cannot. If you’re fighting mobs that fight back with melee rather than ranged attacks or spells of their own, then make use the terrain. You can cast your spells through trees, or from the top of a hill or a wall. The time that it takes your target to reach you is time that you have to freely cast your spells. Casting from the opposite side of a tree makes the mob run around the tree to get to you, effectively making the distance between you longer. Doing the same from the opposite side of a fallen log has the same effect, for example. And you’re playing Frost which means that the mobs chasing you down are moving at a slower speed than usual thanks to your Chill effects. A good Frost Mage who’s able to abuse the terrain is virtually unstoppable.

Time: I mentioned the travel time of your spells in the Fire guide, and Frost takes advantage of this as well, but in a different way. Rather than using the travel time strictly to queue up our second spell (which we do, but that’s not the only reason) we’re also doing it to use and abuse our Freeze effects. Our talents grant us extra benefits, such as an increased chance to Crit or additional damage, against targets who are frozen. When a spell is cast the game checks to see if there is a frozen debuff on the target and then if so it applies the buffs. One of Frost’s signature damage spells though is Ice Lance which is an instant-cast spell which does double damage (even more later on) against frozen targets and because it’s instant you’re able to take advantage of a Freeze with both a Frostbolt and an Ice Lance cast by taking advantage of Frostbolt’s travel time to cast an instant Ice Lance so that they both get to benefit from the target being frozen.

Crowd Control: There are three types of CC to bring up here: Slow, Freeze, and Polymorph. Slow refers to any Chill effects you have that slow the target down, primarily Frostbolt. By pulling mobs with a Frostbolt cast you can slow the target’s movement to allow additional time for casting additional spells before they reach you. Freeze is similar, though it prevents movement from the target all together. Frost has the advantage of being able to freeze with Frost Nova, Freeze (pet ability), and Cone of Cold (via talent). You’ll have access to even more freezing abilities later on as well. Polymorph is just that, and typically used when you’ve pulled multiple mobs. If you’ve taken the time to sheep a mob then the best way to break that CC to get back into combat is to move out to max range and then make use of your long-cast time spells such as Fireball in the case of a Frost Mage, or a Frostbolt if you want to immediately apply a slow once Polymorph is broken.

Chill: Yeah, I know, I’m so punny aren’t I? Like I said before, Frost might be the spec of control and survivability, but it’s still a very deadly spec as well. If a mob is hitting you, but you’re not in immediate threat of dying, then who cares? You can either Freeze them and then relocate for safety, you can Freeze and then lay on the extra damage, or you can just keep right on casting and kill them anyway. If you like to move a lot in combat (like me) then go ahead and do so. If you would rather stay in one place and cast until they die then do that. There are very few times outside of fighting elites or group quest mobs that you’ll actually be killed by a mob in a 1v1 fight in which you pull from range.

Important Spells & Abilities
Mages have such an amazingly useful spellbook that it’s really hard to narrow it down to which spells are important and which ones aren’t. Some of them aren’t useful in every fight, but under the right circumstances they’re your go-to spell of choice for the situation. But, I’m going to do my best to remove all of the “but what if…” questions and stick strictly to usefulness for leveling in general circumstances.

All numbers are taken from the level 29 version (where applicable) of the spell. The number following the spell name is the level at which it becomes available.

Damage Spells
Fireball (1): Hurls a fiery ball that causes 63 to 79 Fire damage.
Arcane Missiles (3): Launches a 3-5 waves of Arcane Missiles at the enemy over 2 sec, causing Arcane damage per wave. Each offensive spell you cast has a 40% chance to activate Arcane Missiles.
Fire Blast (4): Blasts the enemy for 67 to 79 Fire damage.
Frostbolt (7): Launches a bolt of frost at the enemy, causing 47 to 59 Frost damage and slowing movement speed by 40% for 9 sec.
Summon Water Elemental (10): Summon a Water Elemental to fight for the caster.
Cone of Cold (18): Targets in a cone in front of the caster take 53 to 57 Frost damage and are slowed by 60% for 8 sec.
Ice Lance (28): Deals 25 to 31 Frost damage to an enemy target, damage doubled against frozen targets.

I only mention Fireball because when you first roll your Mage you have no other option. You don’t actually get Frostbolt until level 7. Arcane Missiles I only list because up to level 29 it will be your main proc spell, allowing you to get mana-free damage; after level 29 you’ll never cast this again. Fire Blast is one of your most useful spells, dealing better damage on average than Fireball and as an instant cast as well; the only drawback being its cooldown. Fire Blast is one of the few spells that provides great utility no matter what spec you choose.

At level 7 we actually get the bread and butter spam spell, Frostbolt which deals decent damage and slows the target by 60% for 8 seconds. At level 8 we get our first freeze effect in the form of Frost Nova, freezing the mobs near the caster. Level 10 gives us access to our Summon Water Elemental which provides our second freeze effect, called Freeze (creative, I know), which works just like Frost Nova except that we get to pick where its effect is centered. The details of the elemental’s Freeze spell can be found in the Utility section just below.

Level 18 gives us Cone of Cold which is a decent spell in its own right being instant cast and dealing AoE damage in a frontal cone, but it also provides yet another freeze effect from the talent points we spend. Finally we have Ice Lance at level 29 which is the key to Frost’s burst damage. It’s an instant cast spell that’s fairly cheap and usually doesn’t deal a whole lot of damage. But, if you cast it on a target that is frozen it will deal double damage instead, putting it slightly ahead of Frostbolt in raw damage if the target is frozen.

Utility
Frost Nova (8): Blasts enemies near the caster for 26 to 30 Frost damage and freezes them in place for up to 8 sec. Damage caused may interrupt the effect.
Freeze (Pet 10): Blasts enemies in a 8 yard radius for 27 Frost damage and freezes them in place for up to 8 sec. Damage caused may interrupt the effect.
Evocation (12): Gain 15% of your mana instantly and another 45% of your total mana over 6 sec.
Polymorph (14): Transforms the enemy into a sheep, forcing it to wander around for up to 50 sec. While wandering, the sheep cannot attack or cast spells but will regenerate very quickly. Any damage will transform the target back into its normal form. Only one target can be polymorphed at a time. Only works on Beasts, Humanoids and Critters.
Blink (16): Teleports the caster 20 yards forward, unless something is in the way. Also frees the caster from stuns and bonds.

Frost Nova gets a special mention even though it’s not a Fire spell because it’s such an excellent tool for both offense and defense, often both at the same time. If a mob manages to get into melee range use Frost Nova to keep them in place, move away, and then use the time that they’re frozen to cast another Pyroblast. Evocation is your source of massive mana return, and once glyphed it also restores a good amount of your health as well.

Polymorph is your primary crowd control (CC) spell, effectively removing the target from combat. If you pull more than one mob, use this on one of them to even the odds and then smack them upside the head with a Pyroblast once the first target is killed. Blink is another one of our signature abilities, a spell that no one else can duplicate save Subtlety Rogues to a much lesser extent. It allows you to teleport 20 yards away in the direction you’re facing and breaks any stuns or roots that have been cast on you.

Leveling a Mage
Questing Rotation: Frostbolt, Freeze (Pet), Ice Lance x2, Frostbolt, Frost Nova, Ice Lance
Optional Rotation: Frostbolt, Ice Lance spam while kiting, Arcane Missile on proc
Dungeon Rotation: Frostbolt spam, Ice Lance on proc, Arcane Missile on proc

Frost is often seen as a somewhat boring spec to play, and the rotations up there are your reason why. There’s not a wide variety of damaging Frost spells, so you find yourself doing a whole lot of Frostbolt spam, especially in dungeons since we no longer get Blizzard until we get to the end of Vanilla content.

The Questing Rotation can also be used in dungeons, but a lot of tanks tend to get pissy when you start freezing things in place with your pet or with Frost Nova. If you’re going to use these in a dungeon be sure to use them in situations where you’re not going to mess things up with the group. For example, don’t use your freeze effects until the mobs are gathered closely around the tank, and if you find that one of them is outside of the range that the tank can currently build agro on then you either need to focus on that target to kill them off quickly or do nothing else to them at all so that the tank doesn’t have to put extra effort into pulling threat.

The Questing Rotation is going to maximize your Ice Lance damage by applying freeze effects as often as possible. It’s a great tactic for both PvE and PvP, and it allows you to stay fairly mobile with the Ice Lance casts.

The Optional Rotation is how you’ll see a lot of PvP players utilize a Frost spec, which is slowing the target down and then kiting them around while killing them with Ice Lance casts. If the target does catch up to you just use Freeze or Frost Nova to root them in place, get your distance, bust the freeze with a Frostbolt, and then go back to IL kiting. It’s a “cheap” way to fight, but as long as you’re left alive and they aren’t then who cares, right?

The Dungeon Rotation is what you’ll use when you have a tank. If you get a Fingers of Frost proc from your talents then switch over to Ice Lance to use the proc, but otherwise stick with Frostbolt spam unless you need to move.

Procs: Unlike Fire, Frost keeps the Arcane Missiles proc for quite a while, so when you get an AM proc go ahead and use it so long as the target’s not frozen and you don’t have a Fingers of Frost proc to use instead. AM is a decent damaging spell, but Ice Lance takes priority if the target is frozen or if you have a FoF proc. Once you get to 29 and spend your talent point on Fingers of Frost you get your second proc which makes your Ice Lance treat the target as frozen even when it’s not, allowing Ice Lance to do additional damage and benefit from the x3 crit chance.

Talent Points

Solo Spec



Shatter 2/2: Multiplies the critical strike chance of all your spells against frozen targets by 3, and increases the damage done by Frostbolt against frozen targets by 20%.
Piercing Ice 3/3: Increases the critical strike chance of your spells by 3%.
Improved Cone of Cold 2/2: Your Cone of Cold also freezes targets for 4 sec.
Ice Floes 3/3: Reduces the cooldown of your Frost Nova, Cone of Cold, Ice Block, Cold Snap, Ice Barrier, and Icy Veins spells by 20%.
Fingers of Frost 1/3: Gives your Chill effects a 7% chance to grant you the Fingers of Frost effect, which causes your next Ice Lance or Deep Freeze spell to act as if your target were frozen. Fingers of Frost can accumulate up to 2 charges and lasts 15 sec.

Shatter is one of your most important talent points. It’s one of the primary keys to your damage output as a Frost Mage. It triples your crit chance against frozen targets and also gives a 20% damage buff to Frostbolt against frozen targets as well. It’s the best DPS increase you can get at that level. Piercing Ice is one of those talents that basically every Mage will take at some point. Free crit chance is free crit chance.

Improved Cone of Cold gives you a third method of freezing targets, and while you probably won’t have points in this talent at level 85, it’s an excellent addition to your leveling tool belt. The more you can freeze targets in place, the more you can abuse the increased damage, crit chance, and instant cast speed of Ice Lance. Ice Floes is a great tool, providing a faster cooldown of all of your most important spells, allowing you to make use of them more often.

The final talent point goes into Fingers of Frost which gives your chill effects a chance to proc the Fingers of Frost buff which treats your next Ice Lance cast as though the target were frozen. So IL’s damage is doubled because that’s the way the spell itself works, plus you get triple your crit chance because your points in Shatter, so you’ve got a very high chance of dealing critical strikes every time you cast Ice Lance on a frozen target or when you have a FoF proc.

Glyphs for Leveling
You don’t get glyphs now until level 25, but at least you do get to use them a little bit in this level range.

Prime Glyphs
Glyph of Ice Lance: Increases the damage of your Ice Lance spell by 5%.
Glyph of Frostbolt: Increases the critical strike chance of your Frostbolt spell by 5%.

Ice Lance wins out for me because I primarily level solo so I use a lot more freeze effects which makes the extra damage to IL more appealing overall. If you’re not primarily a solo leveler then Frostbolt is also an excellent spell and you’ll see a better return overall if you use it instead. You’ll use both of these glyphs eventually, so you really can’t go wrong here, just pick the one that fits better for you.

Major Glyphs
Glyph of Evocation: Also grants you 40% of your total health over the channeled time of your Evocation spell.
Glyph of Frost Nova: Your Frost Nova targets can take an additional 20% damage before the Frost Nova effect automatically breaks.

Evocation is one of the most amazing glyphs that Mages have access to. If you can only afford a single glyph, make it Evocation because the ability to heal yourself on the fly like that for 40% of your total health is amazing.

Frost Nova isn’t a great replacement, but it can help give you additional Ice Lance casts if you manage to not score crits with your Ice Lances when the target is frozen. Unfortunately the freeze from FN breaks pretty easy regardless, so while it has some potential benefit now and then overall it’s not all that great. It is much better while leveling than it will be at end game though, so it’s not a bad choice even though it’s not optimal.

Minor Glyphs
Glyph of the Monkey: Your Polymorph: Sheep spell polymorphs the target into a monkey instead.
Glyph of the Penguin: Your Polymorph: Sheep spell polymorphs the target into a penguin instead.

These are your only two options within the level range, and sadly they both essentially do nothing at all. They change the physical appearance of what you change targets into when you polymorph them, and that’s it. Of the two, I definitely prefer Monkey, so that’s my suggestion….or just wait until level 32 and use the Glyph of Slow Fall instead.

Macro Suggestions
Frost makes a bit more use of macros thanks to the Water Elemental. The best way to make use of his Freeze spell is to use a macro and add it to your action bars (or you can keybind it directly). You can either have it there by itself like I do, or you can tie it into other spells to make it easier for you to remember.

#showtooltip
/cast Freeze

This macro simply calls up the Freeze spell to be cast and nothing else. This is the version that I use for any special abilities that my pets have, regardless of class. In fact it’s literally the exact same macro with a /cast for every spell that I have a pet that can cast, and I just use a default icon for it. But I’m lazy like that.

#showtooltip
/startattack
/cast Frostbolt
/cast !Freeze

This is the version that I made for my wife to use on her Frost Mage. This is the first pet class where having the pet’s special ability activate on demand was especially important, so she’s not used to having to use them. This macro casts your own Frostbolt spell but also brings up the target icon for your pet’s Freeze spell. Many players tend to spam the button needed to cast their spells so the exclamation point in front of Freeze will prevent the target area for constantly going in and out while you spam it because activating it every other time cancels the cast without it.

Gearing Up for Spellcasting
Intellect > Crit > Haste > Hit > everything else

You’re a caster, so Int is your top priority. Crit is number two because your DPS thrives when you manage to crit due to Hot Streak procs and Ignite DoT’s. Haste is good for helping you with those cast times, and it will improve your DoT’s later on when you actually have some. Hit really doesn’t matter while you’re leveling; it’s not a bad stat, it just isn’t all that great either. If you stumble onto some great gear that just so happens to have Hit on it, then grats on your bonus stat, but don’t turn down upgrades to the other stats in favor of Hit at this level.

The Tailoring profession is a great source of gear throughout the various levels, especially if you plan on soloing 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. Don’t discount quest rewards though, because Cataclysm brought a whole new set of quest rewards and some of them are fantastic for their level.

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.

When it comes to Wands, it’s all about the stats. I haven’t used my wand for anything other than killing critters when I’m bored in a very long time. Look for Intellect and Crit above all others for your wand and ignore the damage it can do all together.

 
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Posted by on January 19, 2011 in Caster, Guide, Leveling, Mage

 

Mage Leveling: 1-29 Fire

Alright, I admit it. I’ve been slacking on the leveling guides.

But today that all gets to change, because I’ve been asked so many times for new Mage leveling guides that I have no choice but to do as the readers command.

I’ve done a lot of Mage leveling in Cataclysm so far, trying out different specs across various level ranges. I’ve leveled my own Mages and I’ve leveled alongside Mages as well. I haven’t been so focused on Mages that I know the ins and outs of leveling as every spec, but I have done enough to know the two of them quite well. Arcane just doesn’t feel right to me while I’m leveling. It works, don’t get me wrong, but it just…I don’t know, but I don’t like it so I’m sticking with Frost and Fire.

So today we start the journey down the leveling road of one of the two classes that are constantly locked in a never ending battle for the rank of Psynister’s Favorite Class, and this time we’re going to look at what is quickly becoming my favorite Mage spec, Fire.

Playing a Fire Mage
Each of the three Mage specs has its own way of doing things. Arcane is about mobility and speed, Frost is about control and security, and Fire is about melting your opponent’s face before any of the rest of that matters. Fire hits hard and though it doesn’t hit as fast as the other two specs, it definitely larger numbers (individually) than the other two.

And in case your spec perk of Fire Specialization doesn’t spell it out clearly enough for you (+25% damage to Fire spells), you’re going to be casting a lot of Fire spells.

Playing a Fire Mage is all about knowing your spells and taking advantage of opportunities. Fire has the longest cast times of all three specs, but their return for that is higher damage. In order to minimize the issue of long cast times you need to become familiar with how, when, and where to cast your spells.

Some people find that playing a Fire Mage is boring because of all of the extra cast time, but Blizzard has done a great job of easing us into those longer cast times while also providing additional utility spells while we level that it’s easy to just build up a feel for it over time to the point that you just get used to it. Don’t discount the brutality of the Fire spec simply for it’s supposed slowness until you’ve given it enough time to make an honest impression.



General Mage Tactics
Mages are known for two things: Being hard to kill, and being incredibly squishy. That’s right, we’re hard to kill because we’re so easy to kill. Why are we easy to kill? Because we wear t-shirts instead of plate armor. Why are we hard to kill? Because we’re often able to kill you before you can do anything to make our t-shirts matter.

As a spellcaster your primary source of defense is to stay away from things that want to hurt you. That doesn’t mean avoiding combat, it means avoiding damage. You’re a ranged class, so don’t get into melee combat when you don’t have to. That doesn’t mean you have to run away from everything, but it does mean you don’t want to run up and hit things with your staff or stab them with a dagger when you could instead cast several spells at them before they can cause you any harm.

Mages have more crowd control options than any other class, in general. Warlocks can beat us when it comes to using CC on certain types of mobs because they have spells that work on things that we don’t, but generally speaking we’re the kings of CC. We can freeze, stun, slow, and polymorph our targets and in some cases we can do those to multiple enemies at once.

Mages also have a number of defensive spells that can either prevent damage or remove harmful effects. If you’re stunned or “rooted” (you can’t move because of a spell/effect) you can cast Blink and it will remove those effects from you. If you are poisoned or diseased you can cast Ice Block to remove all of those effects as well. And if you’re about to die you can always just jump off of a cliff…just make sure you cast Slow Fall before you hit the ground.

Fire-Specific Tips
As I’ve said, cast times are often the thing that drives people away from playing Fire. So what are some ways you can get around that?

  1. Pull with Pyroblast.
  2. Use the terrain to your advantage.
  3. Use the extra time to cast additional spells.
  4. Take advantage of Crowd Control.
  5. Relax, there’s no need to hurry.

Pyroblast: A lot of people seem to think that since this is the “signature” spell of the Fire tree that you’re supposed to be using it all the time, but that’s not true. Pyroblast can get up to a 5 second cast time, which in the middle of combat when you’re already getting pounded on by a mob is most definitely not a good idea. Until you reach level 29 you should only cast Pyroblast when pulling mobs or when breaking crowd control.

Terrain: As a caster you have the huge advantage of being able to use terrain to your benefit where melee classes cannot. If you’re fighting mobs that fight back with melee rather than ranged attacks or spells of their own, then make use the terrain. You can cast your spells through trees, or from the top of a hill or a wall. The time that it takes your target to reach you is time that you have to freely cast your spells. Casting from the opposite side of a tree makes the mob run around the tree to get to you, effectively making the distance between you longer. Doing the same from the opposite side of a fallen log has the same effect, for example.

Time: While your spells do have longer cast times, they also have “travel time”, which is the time it takes between when it’s cast and when it actually hits the target. By following a Pyroblast with a Fireball you effectively remove the majority of the cast time of your Fireball because it takes place outside of combat until the Pyroblast hits.

Crowd Control: There are three types of CC to bring up here: Slow, Freeze, and Polymorph. Slow refers to any Chill effects you have that slow the target down, primarily Frostbolt. By following your Pyroblast pull with a Frostbolt instead of a Fireball you can slow the target’s movement to allow additional time for casting spells before they reach you. Freeze is similar, though it prevents movement from the target all together. Your only source of Freeze for many, many levels is Frost Nova. Once you’ve drawn a mob and he’s closed into melee range you can Frost Nova, move away and then utilize the time for either a Pyroblast or Fireball in safety. Polymorph is just that, and typically used when you’ve pulled multiple mobs. If you’ve taken the time to sheep a mob then the best way to break that CC to get back into combat is to move out to max range and then make use of your long-cast time spells such as Pyroblast.

Relax: Like I said before, Fire is all about packing big enough punches that you don’t need a lot of movement or crazy control and survival skills. If a mob is hitting you, but you’re not in immediate threat of dying, then who cares? Cast another spell, kill them, loot them, and move on to the next mob. You’re not in a hurry as Fire, you’re there to nuke the crap out of things and then go collect all of your loot once the smoke clears.

Important Spells & Abilities
Mages have such an amazingly useful spellbook that it’s really hard to narrow it down to which spells are important and which ones aren’t. Some of them aren’t useful in every fight, but under the right circumstances they’re your go-to spell of choice for the situation. But, I’m going to do my best to remove all of the “but what if…” questions and stick strictly to usefulness for leveling in general circumstances.

All numbers are taken from the level 29 version (where applicable) of the spell. The number following the spell name is the level at which it becomes available.

Damage Spells
Fireball (1): Hurls a fiery ball that causes 63 to 79 Fire damage.
Arcane Missiles (3): Launches a 3-5 waves of Arcane Missiles at the enemy over 2 sec, causing Arcane damage per wave. Each offensive spell you cast has a 40% chance to activate Arcane Missiles.
Fire Blast (4): Blasts the enemy for 67 to 79 Fire damage.
Pyroblast (10): Hurls an immense fiery boulder that causes 91 to 115 Fire damage and an additional 60 Fire damage over 12 sec.
Scorch (26): Scorch the enemy for 47 to 55 Fire damage.

Fireball is your primary nuke spell, the one you’ll spam more than any other as Fire. Arcane Missiles I only list because up to level 29 it will be your main proc spell, allowing you to get mana-free damage; after level 29 you’ll never cast this again. Fire Blast is one of your most useful spells, dealing better damage on average than Fireball and as an instant cast as well; the only drawback being its cooldown. Fire Blast is one of the few spells that provides great utility no matter what spec you choose.

Pyroblast is your signature spell, and the one you’ll use to pull all of your enemies while soloing. Once you hit level 29 this also becomes your mana-free proc as the Hot Streak talent puts it in place of Arcane Missiles. Scorch provides a reasonable, though weaker, alternative to Fireball as your spammable spell if you want to try to force Pyroblast procs more frequently.

Utility
Frost Nova (8): Blasts enemies near the caster for 26 to 30 Frost damage and freezes them in place for up to 8 sec. Damage caused may interrupt the effect.
Evocation (12): Gain 15% of your mana instantly and another 45% of your total mana over 6 sec.
Polymorph (14): Transforms the enemy into a sheep, forcing it to wander around for up to 50 sec. While wandering, the sheep cannot attack or cast spells but will regenerate very quickly. Any damage will transform the target back into its normal form. Only one target can be polymorphed at a time. Only works on Beasts, Humanoids and Critters.
Blink (16): Teleports the caster 20 yards forward, unless something is in the way. Also frees the caster from stuns and bonds.

Frost Nova gets a special mention even though it’s not a Fire spell because it’s such an excellent tool for both offense and defense, often both at the same time. If a mob manages to get into melee range use Frost Nova to keep them in place, move away, and then use the time that they’re frozen to cast another Pyroblast. Evocation is your source of massive mana return, and once glyphed it also restores a good amount of your health as well.

Polymorph is your primary crowd control (CC) spell, effectively removing the target from combat. If you pull more than one mob, use this on one of them to even the odds and then smack them upside the head with a Pyroblast once the first target is killed. Blink is another one of our signature abilities, a spell that no one else can duplicate save Subtlety Rogues to a much lesser extent. It allows you to teleport 20 yards away in the direction you’re facing and breaks any stuns or roots that have been cast on you.

Leveling a Mage
Questing Rotation: Pyroblast [Pull], Fireball, Fire Blast, Fireball x3, Fire Blast (Procs when available)
Optional Rotation: Pyroblast [Pull], Fireball, Fire Blast, Scorch x5, Fire Blast (Procs when available)
Dungeon Rotation: Pyroblast [Pull], Fireball, Fire Blast, Fireball x3, Fire Blast (Procs when available)

At this level range there’s not a whole lot of options when it comes to rotation. Basically you’re going to do what I already covered up in the Fire-specific tips section by utilizing pre-pull time for your biggest spell casts and then follow it up with your make spammable spell.

The “Procs when available” comment means to cast the spell associated with your proc when it comes up. Until level 29 you’re main proc is going to be Arcane Missiles which you learn the mechanics of at level 3. At 29 though you put a talent point into Hot Streak which chances the AM Proc into a Hot Streak proc, allowing you to cast an instant Pyroblast that costs no mana. Whenever you get one of these procs, stop the Fireball/Scorch spam and instead cast the spell related to the proc. You also have another proc from your talent tree which is Impact. Impact resets the cooldown on your Fire Blast spell and if you cast Fire Blast on a target it will stun them for 2 seconds and also spread any of your Fire DoT effects on the target to all other enemies within 12 yards of them. Right now the only DoT you have is Pyroblast, so that portion’s not especially important, but the rest of Fire Blast (instant nuke) and the added stun effect are really good.

The two different variations you see up there are Fireball spam and Scorch spam. Fireball hits hard, but it has a long cast time. Scorch is weak compared to Fireball, but it’s got a faster cast time. The appeal of the Scorch spam is that you can try to cast more spells in a shorter period of time to have more chances to land a Hot Streak proc for those mana-free, instant Pyroblasts. I personally prefer Fireball spam over Scorch, but my wife found that Scorch fits her playstyle much better, so try them both and go with the one you feel more comfortable with.

Talent Points

Solo Spec Group/LFG Spec



I’ve gone ahead and listed two different specs up there for you to choose from. The first is focused on solo play, where you spend more points in Burning Soul to reduce pushback and the other puts points into Master of Elements instead for mana conservation. Both of these talents are great, but while MoE can benefit any Mage, Burning Soul does you no good if you never get hit.

Solo Spec
Improved Fire Blast 2/2: Increases the critical strike chance of your Fire Blast spell by 8% and increases its range by 10 yards.
Burning Soul 3/3: Reduces the casting time lost from taking damaging attacks by 70%.
Impact 2/2: Gives your damaging spells a 10% chance to reset the cooldown on Fire Blast and to cause the next Fire Blast you cast to stun the target for 2 sec and spread any Fire damage over time effects to nearby enemy targets within 12 yards.
Ignite 3/3: Your critical strikes from Fire damage spells cause the target to burn for an additional 40% of your spell’s damage over 4 sec.
Hot Streak 1/1: Your spells no longer trigger Arcane Missiles. Instead, your critical strikes with Fireball, Frostfire Bolt, Scorch, Pyroblast, or Fire Blast have a chance to cause your next Pyroblast spell cast within 15 sec to be instant cast and cost no mana.

The Solo spec is all about dealing extra damage whenever possible, and and getting additional functionality out of our spells early on. Improved Fire Blast helps us most with its additional crit chance which increases our chance to proc Hot Streak for free, instant Pyroblasts. Burning Soul comes next because it really helps with Fire’s long cast times. When a mob does close in to melee range and you don’t have any spells available to get distance again you’re going to have to cast while being attacked, and this does a great job of reducing the penalty you get from casting while being attacked.

Impact serves a dual purpose, though primarily we’re taking it for the stun effect and the additional damage from having Fire Blast’s cooldown reset. It also spreads DoT damage to all other targets within 12 yards which is nice though it won’t do a whole lot for us at this stage of the game. Ignite is an excellent ability that gives us extra damage by causing all of our crits to deal additional DoT damage which really stacks up fast with a Fire spec, especially at higher levels.

Finally, we add Hot Streak to the list, replacing the Arcane Missiles proc with a Hot Streak proc that allows us to cast Pyroblast instantly and without a mana cost. Hot Streak procs are the reason people play Fire, don’t let them tell you otherwise. Being able to deal that much damage as an instant cast spell is insane and you’ll cackle with glee every time you do it.

Group/LFG Spec
Improved Fire Blast 2/2: Increases the critical strike chance of your Fire Blast spell by 8% and increases its range by 10 yards.
Master of Elements 2/2: Your spell criticals will refund 30% of their base mana cost.
Burning Soul 1/3: Reduces the casting time lost from taking damaging attacks by 23%.
Ignite 3/3: Your critical strikes from Fire damage spells cause the target to burn for an additional 40% of your spell’s damage over 4 sec.
Impact 2/2: Gives your damaging spells a 10% chance to reset the cooldown on Fire Blast and to cause the next Fire Blast you cast to stun the target for 2 sec and spread any Fire damage over time effects to nearby enemy targets within 12 yards.
Hot Streak 1/1: Your spells no longer trigger Arcane Missiles. Instead, your critical strikes with Fireball, Frostfire Bolt, Scorch, Pyroblast, or Fire Blast have a chance to cause your next Pyroblast spell cast within 15 sec to be instant cast and cost no mana.

The Group/LFG spec is almost exactly the same as the solo spec except for two things. First, we take 2 points in Master of Elements to make our mana last longer by getting 30% mana refunds when we crit, and taking only 1 point in Burning Soul to pay for it since we shouldn’t get hit as often when in groups (hopefully you have a tank). The other is that I suggest you take Ignite prior to Impact because it will give you more damage potential in groups if you crit something and let Ignite burn it down while you begin attacking another target and begin to work on getting Ignite DoT’s on multiple mobs at once.

Glyphs for Leveling
You don’t get glyphs now until level 25, but at least you do get to use them a little bit in this level range.

Prime Glyphs
Glyph of Fireball: Increases the critical strike chance of your Fireball spell by 5%.
Glyph of Pyroblast: Increases the critical strike chance of your Pyroblast spell by 5%.

These are about as basic as it gets for prime glyphs, and they both do the same thing but for different spells. If you’re going to be a Fireball spammer then you’re better off with Fireball for now, but if you’re going to be a Scorch spammer then Pyroblast is the way to go.

The good thing about adding crit chance to Fireball is that it gives you more chances to proc Hot Streak for instant Pyroblasts, but the good thing about adding crit chance to Pyroblast is that you’ll often end up one-shotting mobs from Pyro casts alone which gives you the powerful feel that Fire is supposed to have. If you’re not getting a lot of Hot Streak procs though, the Pyro glyph will only help on the initial cast when you pull the mobs, so you’ll get more use overall out of Fire.

Major Glyphs
Glyph of Evocation: Also grants you 40% of your total health over the channeled time of your Evocation spell.
Glyph of Blast Wave: Increases the damage of your Scorch spell by 20%. [Req Lv 29]

Evocation is one of the most amazing glyphs that Mages have access to. If you can only afford a single glyph, make it Evocation because the ability to heal yourself on the fly like that for 40% of your total health is amazing. Blast Wave is a decent option as well, though you can’t use it until you learn the spell by taking the talent, which you won’t actually do until level 31. If you’re not worried about your health though, it’s a decent option once you have access to the spell.

Minor Glyphs
Glyph of the Monkey: Your Polymorph: Sheep spell polymorphs the target into a monkey instead.
Glyph of the Penguin: Your Polymorph: Sheep spell polymorphs the target into a penguin instead.

These are your only two options within the level range, and sadly they both essentially do nothing at all. They change the physical appearance of what you change targets into when you polymorph them, and that’s it. Of the two, I definitely prefer Monkey, so that’s my suggestion….or just wait until level 32 and use the Glyph of Slow Fall instead.

Macro Suggestions
I actually don’t have any especially good macro suggestions for Fire at this level of play. Everything’s basically as straight forward as you can get. The only thing that even comes to mind here is the generic attack macro I use for all of my attack spells:

#showtooltip
/startattack
/cast Fireball

Gearing Up for Spellcasting
Intellect > Crit > Haste > Hit > everything else

You’re a caster, so Int is your top priority. Crit is number two because your DPS thrives when you manage to crit due to Hot Streak procs and Ignite DoT’s. Haste is good for helping you with those cast times, and it will improve your DoT’s later on when you actually have some. Hit really doesn’t matter while you’re leveling; it’s not a bad stat, it just isn’t all that great either. If you stumble onto some great gear that just so happens to have Hit on it, then grats on your bonus stat, but don’t turn down upgrades to the other stats in favor of Hit at this level.

The Tailoring profession is a great source of gear throughout the various levels, especially if you plan on soloing 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. Don’t discount quest rewards though, because Cataclysm brought a whole new set of quest rewards and some of them are fantastic for their level.

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.

When it comes to Wands, it’s all about the stats. I haven’t used my wand for anything other than killing critters when I’m bored in a very long time. Look for Intellect and Crit above all others for your wand and ignore the damage it can do all together.

 
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Posted by on January 12, 2011 in Caster, Class, Guide, Leveling, Mage

 

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Hand Me Downs: Paladins

So we all know that the Hand Me Downs: A Poor Man’s Heirlooms post was a huge wall of text, and that I’m breaking it down into class-sized pieces for you. No need to repeat all of that business, so here we go. Moving on to the next class in this series (in no particular order, I might add), we have: Paladins.

General Concept
The basic idea of what I call “hand-me-downs” (or HMD’s) is that you’re taking items that can be passed from one toon to the next (so Common, White-quality items) and enhancing them to make them better. Enhancements that we’re going to talk about here come mostly from the Enchanting profession, though a few may also be found in Blacksmithing (counterweights, sheild spikes, etc), Leatherworking (armor kits), and Engineering (scopes).

The whole point here is to get low level gear that you can pass around to any alts that you ever roll to make them more powerful starting out. As Cynwise and I have proved through experiment in both PvE and PvP at low levels, it isn’t heirlooms that make your character so overpowered, it’s actually the enchants.

So if you’re trying to decide on which class to role, or what to go take one for a test drive for 10 levels or so before deciding whether or not to keep them, this is a great way to get a feel for how the class is going to play for you without putting in investment that’s going to be wasted. Since these items can be passed around due to their lack of binding, it’s not a big deal to roll a character, gain a few levels, scrap them and reroll another, and so on until you find a nice fit.

Melee Weapons
Unlike casters, a melee class actually needs to look for good weapons in order to perform well. For a Paladin, we’re looking for good damage slow speed. We don’t necessarily want to stick with the same weapon from level 1-15 (or higher), because the damage itself needs to go up, so with melee classes you may want to consider multiple HMD’s to upgrade to throughout the first 20 levels or so.

Once the LFG becomes available to you I strongly suggest you run through The Deadmines and Shadowfang Keep, as well as The Stockade and Blackfathom Deeps. Those dungeons have the best weapons you can find for your level. While some may not always perform as well as your HMD’s, averaged out they most likely will. Remember that you’re looking for big damage, slow speeds, and bonuses to Strength and Attack Power.

While HMD’s are excellent at making your characters more powerful, when it comes to melee classes your weapons should be upgraded whenever possible, making HMD’s have much shorter lifespans for melee classes. I don’t bother with melee HMD’s passed level 11-12, and I wouldn’t suggest that you do so either unless you can’t stand LFG and for some reason can’t find a quest with a decent reward.

Melee Weapons (1H)
Fine Scimitar: [Lvl: -] 3-7 Damage (2.5 DPS), 1.90 Speed
Arcane Forged Axe: [Lvl: -] 2-5 Damage (1.7 DPS), 2.00 Speed
Studded Blackjack: [Lvl: 5] 5-11 Damage (4.4 DPS), 1.80 Speed
Cutlass: [Lvl: 10] 10-20 Damage (7.0 DPS), 2.20 Speed
Hatchet: [Lvl: 11] 12-25 Damage (7.4 DPS), 2.50 Speed
Scimitar: [Lvl: 14] 14-27 Damage (8.7 DPS), 2.30 Speed
Cleaver: [Lvl: 15] 14-27 Damage (9.2 DPS), 2.20 Speed
Double Axe: [Lvl: 19] 19-37 Damage (11.2 DPS), 2.50 Speed
Left-Handed Claw: [Lvl: 20] 12-23 Damage (11.7 DPS), 1.50 Speed
Right-Handed Claw: [Lvl: 20] 12-23 Damage (11.7 DPS), 1.50 Speed

I don’t generally suggest leveling with one-handed weapons starting out because of their low damage compared to two-handers, but if you want to use a shield to help you level then these are your options.

Starting out I’d shoot for the Arcane Forged Axe since it’s a vendor item compared to the Fine Scimitar being a drop. At level 5 you may want to upgrade to a Studded Blackjack or similar item for higher base damage, though it’s not necessary if you have a decent enchant on the axes. For melee classes, I suggest Fiery Weapon as your initial HMD enchant, because it deals 40 Fire damage when it procs, and that proc can crit for 60 or 80 Fire damage instead. The damage from the proc is often enough to one-shot the mobs in your starting areas, and it quickly dispatches the mobs you’ll face up to level 10 as well.

At level 10 you need to make a decision on your spec, and that determines which weapons you pursue from there on. Holy will want a one-handed weapon and a shield, though you don’t really need to upgrade your weapons as often with Holy. Protection wants a solid one-hander and shield, and Retribution demands the nastiest two-hander you can find.

Melee Weapons (2H)
Bastard Sword: [Lvl: -] 5-8 Damage (2.1 DPS), 3.00 Speed
Broad Axe: [Lvl: -] 5-8 Damage (2.1 DPS), 3.10 Speed
Vile Fin Battle Axe: [Lvl: 4] 12-19 Damage (5.1 DPS), 3.10 Speed
Frostbit Staff: [Lvl: 5] 12-19 Damage (5.8 DPS), 2.70 Speed
Tabar: [Lvl: 9] 21-33 Damage (8.5 DPS), 3.20 Speed
Claymore: [Lvl: 10] 23-35 Damage (9.0 DPS), 3.20 Speed
Rock Hammer: [Lvl: 16] 37-59 Damage (12.5 DPS), 3.70 Speed
Battle Axe: [Lvl: 20] 46-70 Damage (15.3 DPS), 3.80 Speed

Here’s quite a list of two-handers for you to choose from. Remember to take your racial modifiers into account when choosing your weapons. If you have a bonus when using certain types of weapons then try to stick to those weapons to maximize your performance in combat. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with just going with whatever weapons look cool either.

For my melee toons I generally get a weapon that I can use at level 1 and then replace at 5, or one that I can use a level 3 and then replace at level 10-12. If you’re going to stick to two-handers then I suggest upgrading to the Vile Fine Battle Axe or Frostbit Staff at level 5 and then the Claymore at level 10. You can probably last through most of your teens with the Claymore before replacing it with a dungeon drop or quest reward that offers more base damage and a decent stat boost to make giving up the enchant worth it.

If you aren’t using LFG to level and you aren’t having any luck with good weapons from your quest rewards, then you might consider upgrading to either the Rock Hammer or the Battle Axe as HMD’s. I would strongly urge you to run dungeons at this level though as there are some excellent weapons to be found.

Enchanting Melee Weapons
As a melee Paladin, you’re mostly interested in Strength enchants. Stamina is a good option as well, especially if you’re going Protection as they seem to be taking more damage than the other low level tanks at the moment.

Protection and Retribution Enchants
Enchant Weapon – Crusader: Proc: +100 Strength for 15 sec., heals you for 75-125 (x2 crit)
Enchant Weapon – Lifestealing: Proc: Steals 30 health from the target (x2 crit)
Enchant Weapon – Strength: +15 Strength
Enchant Weapon – Fiery Weapon: Proc: +40 Fire damage (x2 crit)

The best source for Strength at low levels is Crusader with a +100 Strength proc. That’s 200 Attack Power plus a heal when it procs that’s going to have you one-shotting mobs left and right. If you go with a slow weapon, then Crusader is the one you want. If you’re going with fast weapons, then you want either +15 Strength or Fiery Weapon.

I don’t find Fiery to be quite as appealing for Paladins as I do the other melee classes, though I can’t say for sure why that it. Lifestealing is a good backup for Crusader, as is the +15 Strength.

Holy Enchants
Enchant Weapon – Mighty Intellect: +22 Intellect
Enchant Weapon – Spell Power: +30 Spell Power
Enchant Weapon – Healing Power: +29 Spell Power
Enchant 2H Weapon – Major Intellect: +9 Intellect

In 3.5 the +30 SP was the go-to enchant for casters, but with the change to spell power Mighty Intellect has taken the lead. It’s also the cheapest of the three options which makes it that much more appealing. You don’t get quite as much spell power out of the deal, but you’re trading 7-8 SP for 330 mana which is more than worth it for low level casters in my opinion.

Shields
Holy and Protection will both be using shields. Prior to level 10 I’d still us a two-hander for all three Paladin specs, but that’s just me. If you want to use a shield before then, here’s your list of HMD worthy shields.

Shields
Large Round Shield: [Lvl: -] 171 Armor
Dull Heater Shield: [Lvl: 5] 307 Armor
Standard Issue Shield: [Lvl: 5] 307 Armor
Wall Shield: [Lvl: 12] 480 Armor
Reinforced Targe: [Lvl: 19] 634 Armor

If you want to start off with a shield, then the Large Round is the one you want. The Dull Heater can be purchased at level 5, or you can do what I did and spend 18 seconds farming a pair of Standard Issue Shields outside of Scarlet Monetary. (Note: The area around SM changed from 4.0.3 to 4.0.3a, so these might not be available now.)

I’ve listed a couple of options for HMD’s passed level 10 if you’re going to roll as Protection, but you’re probably better off sticking with your low level shield until you replace it with dungeon drops or quest rewards.

Protection Shield Enchants
Felsteel Shield Spike: Deals 26-38 damage when you block
Thorium Shield Spike: Deals 20-30 damage when you block
Mithril Shield Spike: Deals 16-20 damage when you block
Enchant Shield – Greater Stamina: +7 Stamina

The best option from a leveling perspective is to go with the biggest, nastiest shield spike you can find to slap on the most interesting-looking shield you have access to and then go stab some eyeballs out with the shield spikes while you’re smashing faces with your weapon.

If you’re worried about your health then get the Stamina enchant, but otherwise stick with the shield spikes.

Holy Shield Enchants
Enchant Shield – Vitality: Restore 4 health and mana every 5 seconds
Felsteel Shield Spike: Deals 26-38 damage when you block
Thorium Shield Spike: Deals 20-30 damage when you block
Mithril Shield Spike: Deals 16-20 damage when you block
Enchant Shield – Greater Stamina: +7 Stamina

Holy doesn’t really have much trouble as far as mana is concerned at low level, so this one’s a little rough. Better safe than sorry – the Vitality enchant is probably the best one overall. If you’re going to do a lot of soloing then I would suggest a shield spike. The Stamina enchant isn’t a bad option, but Paladins have the best low level survivability of every class in the game, so 70 HP isn’t really all that important.

Armor
Armor isn’t nearly as important as your weapons because in the levels that you’ll use HMD’s you should not have very many issues with survivability, making the armor stat much less impressive than it really is. The main benefit that you’ll get from your HMD’s then is actually the enchants that you place on them. The best-in-slot items for both chest and leg slots (that can be used at level 1) are interestingly cloth items; Haliscan Jacket and Haliscan Pantaloons.

And since the whole point of HMD’s is to enchant them in order to make them more powerful than regular gear, we’re not going to bother making HMD’s that cannot benefit from enchants, or which benefit only a very small amount. So we’re not going to look at Belts, jewelry or trinkets.

Mail Armor Set
Chest: Haliscan Jacket: 90 Armor (Cloth), Unadorned Chain Vest: 53 Armor
Legs: Haliscan Pantaloons: 77 Armor, Black Tuxedo Pants: 54 Armor, Unadorned Chain Leggings: 47 Armor
Waist: Unadorned Chain Belt: 30 Armor
Bracer: Unadorned Chain Bracers: 23 Armor
Gloves: Unadorned Chain Gloves: 33 Armor
Feet: Unadorned Chain Boots: 37 Armor
Back: Linen Cloak: 12 Armor

No surprises here, again we have the Blood Elf starting zone’s vendor items. Warriors get better Rage if their armor is a somewhat slacking (at least they used to), and Paladins have plenty of self healing at their disposal, so I wouldn’t bother replacing HMD’s on either of them until you start to find superior dungeon drops or significant quest rewards.

I still get a little chuckle at the Haliscan Jacket/Pantaloons and Tuxedo Pants beat out even the best Mail options at level 1, so they’re listed here as well even though they’re cloth.

Holy Chest Enchants
Enchant Chest – Exceptional Stats: +6 All Stats [ilvl 35+]
Enchant Chest – Greater Stats: +4 All Stats
Enchant Chest – Stats: +3 All Stats
Enchant Chest – Major Mana: +100 Mana
Enchant Chest – Restore Mana Prime: Restore 7 Mana every 5 seconds [ilvl 35+]

The best choice here is +6 Stats which gives you 90 Mana and 6 Spell Power, though it can only be placed on the Haliscan Jacket. The +4 and +3 Stats enchants are listed for the same reason, providing both spell power and mana. Mana isn’t nearly as big of an issue for a Paladin as it is for other classes, so the stats pull ahead here for me.

Protection and Retribution Chest Enchants
Enchant Chest – Exceptional Health: +150 Health [ilvl 35+]
Enchant Chest – Exceptional Stats: +6 All Stats [ilvl 35+]
Enchant Chest – Greater Stats: +4 All Stats
Enchant Chest – Stats: +3 All Stats
Enchant Chest – Major Health: +100 Health

The +150 Health enchant can only be placed on the Haliscan Jacket because it requires a minimum item level of 35 and the Haliscan is one of only two items you can wear at level 1 that meat that item level requirement. The other is an expensive gown purchased in Moonglade which is limited quantity and has a horribly long respawn time. To give you an example of how hard it is to find, I’ve been looking now for almost 5 weeks and I’ve never even seen it.

The best option for offense rather than survival is the +6 Stats which still gives you 60 Health, but also a fair amount of Attack and/or Spellpower. Like the +150 Health though, it toon can only be placed on the Haliscan Jacket.

The +4 Stats enchant is pretty hard to find and you’re going to pay a pretty copper for it if you buy it on the AH, so you may want to settle for the much easier to obtain +3 Stats. The +100 Health isn’t going to help you perform any better in combat, it’s just survivability, so it’s listed last.

Holy Bracer Enchants
Enchant Bracer – Healing Power: +15 Spell Power
Enchant Bracer – Greater Intellect: +7 Intellect
Enchant Bracer – Mana Regeneration: Restore 5 Mana every 5 seconds

I personally choose +15 SP for my bracer enchants, but the +7 Intellect enchant is a lot better now than it was before 4.0. You can either have 15 SP or you can have 7 SP and 105 Mana to go with it. It’s up to you really, I just like to have that extra level of power from the 15 SP for my personal taste. If you do find mana issues, then the Mana Regeneration enchant is there to help you along.

Protection and Retribution Bracer Enchants
Enchant Bracer – Superior Strength: +9 Strength
Enchant Bracer – Superior Stamina: +9 Stamina
Enchant Bracer – Minor Agility: +1 Agility

Finally we come to a class that gets some real benefit out of that +9 Strength enchant. Unless you’re in dire need of more health, the Strength enchant is the way to go. If you need survivability then the Stamina is a very solid choice as well, and if by some freak occurrence you can’t find either of those, then the +1 Agility is better than nothing.

Holy Glove Enchants
Enchant Gloves – Healing Power: +16 Spell Power
Enchant Gloves – Minor Haste: +10 Haste

Casters have a lot of really good options here. The generic enchant of choice is Healing Power for +16 SP to all of your spells. Haste can help you in a few situations, though mostly in your reduced cast times.

Protection and Retribution Glove Enchants
Enchant Gloves – Greater Strength: +7 Strength
Enchant Gloves – Superior Agility: +15 Agility
Enchant Gloves – Minor Haste: +10 Haste
Enchant Gloves – Greater Agility: +7 Agility
Enchant Gloves – Threat: +2% Threat on all attacks

I generally prefer the +15 Agility enchant for my gloves, but the Strength classes don’t get quite as much from Agility, so +7 Strength is a very solid option. Given that the two mail-wearing classes who’ll be using your HMD’s both benefit the most from strength, I’d say +7 Strength is the way to go here, or just reuse the +15 Agility Leather gloves you use on your other toons. I wouldn’t bother enchanting both a leather and mail piece with +15 Agility unless you’re just trying to burn through your enchanting mats.

Haste will give you a slight boost to your attacking speed, and will give a small benefit to your Rend damage (at least, I think bleeds benefit from Haste the same way DoT’s do – could be wrong), and the +7 Agility is a decent substitute if you can’t find the others.

I also listed the Threat enchant which I definitely recommend if you’re going to be a tank. From what I’ve seen so far in low level LFG, Paladins have the best threat generation of all the low level tanks. That 2% Threat can probably solidify that for you if you find that you’re having problems. Note that I give advice on this enchant and this situation based on my healing of tanks on my Resto Shaman twink, not from my experience tanking.

Leg Enchants
Light Armor Kit: +8 Armor to Chest, Legs, Hands or Feet
Medium Armor Kit: [Lvl: 5] +16 Armor to Chest, Legs, Hands or Feet

I’m going to go ahead and list these here just for the sake of completion. I don’t use HMD pants because of the fact that these are the only enchants you can put on them. A little extra armor never hurt anybody, but it never really helps for your low level toons either. Not when we’re talking about 8-16 points of it, at least. If you want to use them, then here they are.

Holy Boot Enchants
Enchant Boots – Minor Speed: +7% Run Speed
Enchant Boots – Lesser Accuracy: +5 Hit

Casters get the shaft on boot enchants, with nothing really standing out. I lean towards the speed increase for my personal use, but you might prefer the +5 Hit. Run Speed will help you quest and level faster, while Accuracy will help you kill faster, so the choice is yours. Accuracy will help if you’re using Holy Shock offensively or when you’re using Crusader Strike for additional Holy Power.

Protection and Retribution Boot Enchants
Enchant Boots – Greater Agility: +7 Agility
Enchant Boots – Minor Speed: +7% Run Speed
Enchant Boots – Lesser Accuracy: +5 Hit
Enchant Boots – Greater Stamina: +7 Stamina

Paladins still have nothing to help them close gaps when tanking and such, so I prefer Minor Speed for them to get whatever edge I can. The +7 Agility will give you better avoidance and also help with your melee crits, so it’s a good choice as well. Hit is there if you need it, though you probably will not, and +7 Stamina is something to consider if you’re going Prot.

Paladin tanks seem to take more damage than the others right now at low level, so I strongly recommend picking up extra Stamina where you can afford it if you’re going to be a tank.

Cloak Enchants
Enchant Cloak – Stealth: +8 Agility and +8 Dodge
Enchant Cloak – Lesser Agility: +3 Agility
Enchant Cloak – Superior Defense: +70 Armor
Enchant Cloak – Subtlety: -2% Threat

As I’ve mentioned in the other HMD posts so far, the Stealth enchant made a surprise leap of awesomeness in 4.0.3a by switching from a lackluster enchant to the best-in-slot cloak enchant for the majority of low level play. You want it more than the others and that’s really all there is to it.

If you can’t find Stealth then the +3 Agility enchant would be my preference for Retribution while I would probably consider +70 Armor for Protection. Retribution can lay down a lot of damage in a really short time right now, especially if they store Holy Power from one fight to use at the beginning of another. For that reason you may consider Subtlety for Retribution, but you likely have enough survivability to handle pulling threat from time to time anyway if you’d rather go with one of the others.

 
 

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Hand Me Downs: Druids

So we all know that the Hand Me Downs: A Poor Man’s Heirlooms post was a huge wall of text, and that I’m breaking it down into class-sized pieces for you. No need to repeat all of that business, so here we go. Moving on to the next class in this series (in no particular order, I might add), we have: Druids.

General Concept
The basic idea of what I call “hand-me-downs” (or HMD’s) is that you’re taking items that can be passed from one toon to the next (so Common, White-quality items) and enhancing them to make them better. Enhancements that we’re going to talk about here come mostly from the Enchanting profession, though a few may also be found in Blacksmithing (counterweights, sheild spikes, etc), Leatherworking (armor kits), and Engineering (scopes).

The whole point here is to get low level gear that you can pass around to any alts that you ever roll to make them more powerful starting out. As Cynwise and I have proved through experiment in both PvE and PvP at low levels, it isn’t heirlooms that make your character so overpowered, it’s actually the enchants.

So if you’re trying to decide on which class to role, or what to go take one for a test drive for 10 levels or so before deciding whether or not to keep them, this is a great way to get a feel for how the class is going to play for you without putting in investment that’s going to be wasted. Since these items can be passed around due to their lack of binding, it’s not a big deal to roll a character, gain a few levels, scrap them and reroll another, and so on until you find a nice fit.

Balance and Restoration Weapons
We’re going to start off with weapons because they have more potential than armor for making your low level toons extra powerful. When you’re choosing a hand-me-down weapon, you need to consider which type you’re really looking for. For Melee weapons you’re interested in three things: damage, usefulness, and coolness.

Balance and Restoration Weapons
Arcane Forged Mace: 2-5 Damage (1.7 DPS), 1.90 Speed
Arcane Forged Dirk: 1-4 Damage (1.7 DPS), 1.60 Speed
Mana Gathering Staff: 5-9 Damage (2.1 DPS), 3.20 Speed
Apprentice’s Staff: 3-5 Damage (1.3 DPS), 2.90 Speed

As I’ve said before, the Mace is the only weapon that every healing class in the game has in common, so the Mace is one of your best choices. However, the Dagger is the one weapon that can be shared across every type of spellcaster in the game, except for the Holy Paladin. If you only want to enchant a single caster HMD, then the dagger is the best option because both healers and DPS casters can use it save for the Paladin.

Balance and Restoration Enchants
Enchant Weapon – Mighty Intellect: +22 Intellect
Enchant Weapon – Spell Power: +30 Spell Power
Enchant Weapon – Healing Power: +29 Spell Power
Enchant 2H Weapon – Major Intellect: +9 Intellect

In 3.5 the +30 SP was the go-to enchant for casters, but with the change to spell power Mighty Intellect has taken the lead. It’s also the cheapest of the three options which makes it that much more appealing. You don’t get quite as much spell power out of the deal, but you’re trading 7-8 SP for 330 mana which is more than worth it for low level casters in my opinion.

I find that I have more mana issues as Balance so +22 Intellect is the clear winner there for me, while as Resto I’m begging people to go jump in a fire or something just so I can spend my mana on something. I’ve mostly given up on the 30 SP enchant for everything non-twink at this point, but you might find it to be more to your liking.

Feral Weapons
2H Frostbit Staff: [Lvl: 5] 12-19 Damage (5.8 DPS), 2.70 Speed
2H Quarter Staff: [Lvl: 11] 20-32 Damage (9.6 DPS), 2.70 Speed
2H Gnarled Staff: [Lvl: 15] 27-42 Damage (11.9 DPS), 2.90 Speed
1H Copper Dagger: [Lvl: 6] 5-10 Damage (5.0 DPS), 1.50 Speed
1H Amani Sacrificial Dagger: [Lvl: 12] 10-21 Damage (7.8 DPS), 2.00 Speed

The best way for you to kill things when you roll a fresh Druid is to just spam Wrath until your target is dead. You don’t have any Feral abilities at all until level 8, so you start out as a Balance Druid no matter what you want to do later in the game.

Once you get Cat form you can switch over to melee combat instead of Wrath spam. You’ve got a couple of options to consider here. First, some Cat abilities now take weapon damage into consideration, so you want weapons that actually deal damage. Second, you have to take reusability into consideration and Druids have some of the worst weapon selections for that.

There are four classes that use Agility as their primary damage stat (Druid, Hunter, Rogue, Shaman). The highest Agility bonus enchant you can get comes from two-handed weapons, but the only other Agility class that will use two-handed weapons is the Hunter, and the only two weapon types you share in common are the Staff and Polearm. Hunters don’t care about melee weapon damage, so they could use a level 1 weapon for 40 levels and not care. If you have multiple two-handed HMD’s you’re not going to the same reusability from them that you would other weapons because the Hunter doesn’t need to upgrade HMD’s until he can dual wield.

My personal suggestion for Feral Druid HMD’s is to use a staff with +25 Agility when you first get Cat Form at level 8, and then upgrade to two-hander (likely a Mace) with Crusader on it in your teens and stick with that until you replace your HMD’s with dungeon drops or quest rewards. The Crusader two-hander can be used by your Warriors and Paladins, so it has at least some chance of being reused where a higher level staff with +25 Agility would not.

Feral Enchants
Enchant 2H Weapon – Agility: +25 Agility
Enchant Weapon – Crusader: Proc: +100 Strength for 15 sec., heals you for 75-125 (x2 crit)
Enchant Weapon – Fiery Weapon: Proc: +40 Fire damage (x2 crit)
Enchant Weapon – Agility: +15 Agility
Enchant Weapon – Lifestealing: Proc: Steals 30 health from the target (x2 crit)

Since the purpose of HMD’s is to be used at low level, you want to consider what kind of investment you’re really making. The best enchant for your class is Agility, but the best enchant for those low levels is technically Crusader. Druids don’t get the luxury of dual wielding, so your best option is a two-hander with +25 Agility on it, or any weapon you can use with Crusader on it. You can put a +25 Agi enchant on it for a consistent +50 AP, or you can put Crusader on it for a fairly reliable +100 AP most of the time.

I haven’t had enough time to really sit down and test this one out from a min/max point of view. As far as being able to reuse an item goes though, a staff with +25 Agility is great for Feral Druids but also excellent for Hunters until they can dual wield at level 20. At the same time, Crusader is the best Strength class weapon, so you can also reuse those weapons on your Warriors and Paladins.

Another thing to consider is that the best place to farm the mats for the Agility enchants has apparently been nerfed in my experience. The day before 4.0.3a went live I farmed the area for just over 40 minutes and had 4.5 stacks of Essence of Air. I farmed it again on patch day and in the time that I should have had over 2 stacks in my months of farming experience I only had 3, total. Not 3 stacks, just 3, when I should have had more than 20. So Agility might be harder to come by than it once was.

Fiery and Lifestealing are both great choices as well, with Fiery being the better of the two. I like that Fiery procs often lead to one-shots, but the higher you get in level the less impressive the enchant becomes. Lifestealing does at least have some scaling with your level, but it’s proc rate isn’t as high as Fiery so it doesn’t happen as often.

Armor
Armor isn’t nearly as important as your weapons because in the levels that you’ll use HMD’s you should not have very many issues with survivability, making the armor stat much less impressive than it really is. The main benefit that you’ll get from your HMD’s then is actually the enchants that you place on them. The best-in-slot items for both chest and leg slots (that can be used at level 1) are interestingly cloth items; Haliscan Jacket and Haliscan Pantaloons.

And since the whole point of HMD’s is to enchant them in order to make them more powerful than regular gear, we’re not going to bother making HMD’s that cannot benefit from enchants, or which benefit only a very small amount. So we’re not going to look at Belts, jewelry or trinkets.

Leather Armor Set
Chest: Haliscan Jacket: 90 Armor (Cloth), Sun Cured Vest: 33 Armor
Legs: Haliscan Pantaloons: 77 Armor, Black Tuxedo Pants: 54 Armor, Sun Cured Pants: 29 Armor
Waist: Squeeler’s Belt: 22 Armor, Sun Cured Belt: 18 Armor
Bracer: Sun Cured Bracers: 14 Armor
Gloves: Sun Cured Gloves: 20 Armor
Feet: Sun Cured Boots: 23 Armor
Back: Linen Cloak: 12 Armor

Above is the vendor bought Leather set from the Blood Elf starting area. For level 1 characters these do end up being the strongest items available to you, so I haven’t bothered listing items for other levels as armor upgrades really aren’t important for your first 20 levels unless you’re a tank.

The Haliscan Jacket and Pantaloons and the Tuxedo Pants easily beat out the best leather options at level 1, so they’re listed here as well even though they’re cloth. They also happen to have higher item levels than all of the other options, giving you the ability to put more worthwhile enchants on them as well.

Balance and Restoration Chest Enchants
Enchant Chest – Exceptional Stats: +6 All Stats [ilvl 35+]
Enchant Chest – Greater Stats: +4 All Stats
Enchant Chest – Major Mana: +100 Mana
Enchant Chest – Stats: +3 All Stats
Enchant Chest – Restore Mana Prime: Restore 7 Mana every 5 seconds [ilvl 35+]

The best choice here is +6 Stats which gives you 90 Mana and 6 Spell Power, though it can only be placed on the Haliscan Jacket. The +4 and +3 Stats enchants are listed for the same reason, providing both spell power and mana. I like the +100 Mana more than +3 stats for Druid HMD’s because while mana isn’t an issue in most cases I’m more likely to need the extra mana than I am a mere 3 points of spell power. Mana regen isn’t usually a huge issue, but if you run into mana problems then you might want to consider Restore Mana Prime.

Feral Chest Enchants
Enchant Chest – Exceptional Stats: +6 All Stats [ilvl 35+]
Enchant Chest – Greater Stats: +4 All Stats
Enchant Chest – Exceptional Health: +150 Health [ilvl 35+]
Enchant Chest – Stats: +3 All Stats
Enchant Chest – Major Health: +100 Health

We have basically the same situation for Feral, except the +X Stats enchants get much more beneficial. The +6 Stats for instance grants 18 Attack Power (6 Agi = 12 AP, 6 Str = 6 AP) as well as 6 Spell Power and 90 mana, all of which you’ll use (though SP to a lesser extent). This is a great example of when being a hybrid is a good thing. I’ve found Feral Druids to be more on the squishy side than they used to in the early levels, so +150 Health isn’t a bad idea either, if you have the Haliscan to put it on.

Balance and Restoration Bracer Enchants
Enchant Bracer – Healing Power: +15 Spell Power
Enchant Bracer – Greater Intellect: +7 Intellect
Enchant Bracer – Mana Regeneration: Restore 5 Mana every 5 seconds

I personally choose +15 SP for my bracer enchants, but the +7 Intellect enchant is a lot better now than it was before 4.0. You can either have 15 SP or you can have 7 SP and 105 Mana to go with it. It’s up to you really, I just like to have that extra level of power from the 15 SP for my personal taste.

I feel that the mp5 enchant is the weakest here, but it’s still a decent fit for a caster. I find I have more mana issues as Balance than I do Resto, but I’d go for one of the other enchants over this one regardless.

Feral Bracer Enchants
Enchant Bracer – Superior Strength: +9 Strength
Enchant Bracer – Superior Stamina: +9 Stamina
Enchant Bracer – Minor Agility: +1 Agility

I don’t know why in the world they gave us +9 to both Strength and Stamina, but not Agility. We don’t even have a +7, +5, or even +3 Agility; they just left us with the dinky +1. However, we do still get 1:1 AP from Strength, so the +9 Str enchant is your best bet here. If you’re feeling especially fragile then go ahead and reach for the +9 Stam instead, but you shouldn’t have many too survivability problems in this level range, especially not as a class with some of the most useful heals in the game.

Balance and Restoration Glove Enchants
Enchant Gloves – Healing Power: +16 Spell Power
Enchant Gloves – Minor Haste: +10 Haste

Casters have a lot of really good options here. The generic enchant of choice is Healing Power for +16 SP to all of your spells. Unfortunately, most of our damage is Nature which doesn’t have it’s own “.. Power” enchant, so Healing Power is your best option. Haste can help you in a few situations, though mostly in your reduced cast times.

If you’re going for Resto then Haste actually helps a lot more because of your HoT’s, but at the same time you aren’t going to have much trouble healing low level instances anyway so it’s not all that big a deal in this time frame.

Feral Glove Enchants
Enchant Gloves – Superior Agility: +15 Agility
Enchant Gloves – Greater Agility: +7 Agility
Enchant Gloves – Greater Strength: +7 Strength

Gloves provide us one of the best enchants of all of our HMD’s with Superior Agility (+15 Agi). The +15 Agi enchant isn’t exactly easy to find though, because it’s not exactly easy to farm either. If you can’t find it, then look for the +7 Agi instead, or +7 Str if you can’t find either of the Agility enchants.

I’ve been told that the rep grind for Superior Agility isn’t as bad as it was prior to 4.0 being released, so perhaps it will become easier in the future. I’ve done the farming on my own for one of my servers and am about to start on my other server just as soon as I finish up the Cenarion Expedition grind that I’m on right now for the cloak enchant that we’ll talk about down below.

Leg Enchants
Light Armor Kit: +8 Armor to Chest, Legs, Hands or Feet
Medium Armor Kit: [Lvl: 5] +16 Armor to Chest, Legs, Hands or Feet

I’m going to go ahead and list these here just for the sake of completion. I don’t use HMD pants because of the fact that these are the only enchants you can put on them. A little extra armor never hurt anybody, but it never really helps for your low level toons either. Not when we’re talking about 8-16 points of it, at least. If you want to use them, then here they are.

Balance and Restoration Boot Enchants
Enchant Boots – Minor Speed: +7% Run Speed
Enchant Boots – Lesser Accuracy: +5 Hit

Casters get the shaft on boot enchants, with nothing really standing out. I lean towards the speed increase for my personal use, but you might prefer the +5 Hit. Run Speed will help you quest and level faster, while Accuracy will help you kill faster, so the choice is yours.

Feral Boot Enchants
Enchant Boots – Greater Agility: +7 Agility
Enchant Boots – Lesser Accuracy: +5 Hit
Enchant Boots – Greater Stamina: +7 Stamina
Enchant Boots – Minor Speed: +7% Run Speed

For Feral Druids I almost always suggest you go with +7 Agility because the first two points you spend in your talent tree are likely going to include a speed boost while in Cat form anyway. If you don’t want to spend your points there, then the Minor Speed is still a good option, but I personally go for that kitty speed right off the bat. The speed from the enchant and the speed from those talent points do not stack, which is why I mention it.

Cloak Enchants (All Specs)
Enchant Cloak – Stealth: +8 Agility, +8 Dodge
Enchant Cloak – Lesser Agility: +3 Agility
Enchant Cloak – Superior Defense: +70 Armor
Enchant Cloak – Subtlety: -2% Threat

The top cloak enchant is thanks to a change from 4.0.3a in the Stealth enchant. It used to just make you count as a single level higher when calculating how hard/easy it was for someone to see through your stealth. But now this sucker has almost three times as much Agility as the previous option and it also has Dodge thrown in for good measure. I don’t know what prompted this change, but I’m loving it.

If you’re not Feral though, the Subtlety enchant is probably your best option for the reduced threat. Tanks don’t have great AoE threat compared to what they used to have, so it’s not too uncommon for healers to get early agro on trash packs. If you don’t like LFG or don’t think that threat is an issue, then go for either Stealth or Superior Defense.

 
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Posted by on November 29, 2010 in Caster, Class, Druid, Guide, Hand Me Downs, Leveling, Melee, Play Styles

 

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Hand Me Downs: Priests

So we all know that the Hand Me Downs: A Poor Man’s Heirlooms post was a huge wall of text, and that I’m breaking it down into class-sized pieces for you. No need to repeat all of that business, so here we go. Moving on to the next class in this series (in no particular order, I might add), we have: Priests.

General Concept
The basic idea of what I call “hand-me-downs” (or HMD’s) is that you’re taking items that can be passed from one toon to the next (so Common, White-quality items) and enhancing them to make them better. Enhancements that we’re going to talk about here come mostly from the Enchanting profession, though a few may also be found in Blacksmithing (counterweights, sheild spikes, etc), Leatherworking (armor kits), and Engineering (scopes).

The whole point here is to get low level gear that you can pass around to any alts that you ever roll to make them more powerful starting out. As Cynwise and I have proved through experiment in both PvE and PvP at low levels, it isn’t heirlooms that make your character so overpowered, it’s actually the enchants.

So if you’re trying to decide on which class to role, or what to go take one for a test drive for 10 levels or so before deciding whether or not to keep them, this is a great way to get a feel for how the class is going to play for you without putting in investment that’s going to be wasted. Since these items can be passed around due to their lack of binding, it’s not a big deal to roll a character, gain a few levels, scrap them and reroll another, and so on until you find a nice fit.

Obtaining Your HMD Caster Weapons
Arcane Forged Mace: 2-5 Damage (1.7 DPS), 1.90 Speed
Mana Gathering Staff: 5-9 Damage (2.1 DPS), 3.20 Speed
Apprentice’s Staff: 3-5 Damage (1.3 DPS), 2.90 Speed
Arcane Forged Dirk: 1-4 Damage (1.7 DPS), 1.60 Speed

The first thing you need to decide when picking your caster weapon(s) is whether you want it to be one-handed or two-handed. The benefit of using a one-hand is that you can also equip off-hand items as you level, such as the books offered from the Inscription profession. The only real “benefit” of using a two-handed item as a HMD instead is that it can often look “cooler”. I like my casters to have a staff even though I know I can usually get better stats overall from a one-hand plus off-hand combo.

The benefit of a staff really is that the staff weapons almost always look cooler than the one-handed weapons. You lose out on being able to use an off-hand item, and you get nothing in return save for the weapon’s looks. You also need to consider the fact that these enchants usually have a glow effect on them which will make a Dagger look like a lightbulb in your hand (not really, but pretty close). A sword can have a really cool effect with the right enchant, and a staff will have the primary end glow when enchanted. All in all I just tend to lean towards a staff, though a sword tends to look the best when enchanted.

The first option up there, Arcane Forged Mace, is the one that I recommend using for your Priests because it looks fairly cool for a caster mace and because it’s one-handed. Since you’re a caster, it doesn’t make a bit of difference which one you choose as far as damage and speed are concerned, because it’s really just a source of stats for you via the enchant you place on it. I have four different staff weapons in my HMD collection, but I still prefer using a one-hander for the ability to make use of my off-hand. Despite my preference for a staff’s look, I’m a min/maxer at heart so I’m suggesting the sword.

Another benefit of the Mace is that every healer in the game can use a mace. You may decide to go with the Dagger instead because every caster besides the Paladin can use it. But because of that restriction on the Paladin, if you want to cover every caster in the game you have no choice but to make two caster HMD’s.

Weapon Enchants
Enchant Weapon – Mighty Intellect: +22 Intellect
Enchant Weapon – Spell Power: +30 Spell Power
Enchant Weapon – Healing Power: +29 Spell Power
Enchant 2H Weapon – Major Intellect: +9 Intellect

Priests played as DPS operate similar to Mages in a lot of their casting, or somewhat like Warlocks if you go Shadow. But, Priests find mana issues in any spec they take while leveling (when compared to the Warlock). As such, I put the +22 Intellect enchant firmly at the top of the list.

So far I’ve leveled Priests as Shadow and Discipline after the 4.0.1 changes and I’ve seen mana issues with both of them. You want as much Intellect as you can get your hands on, and the weapon enchant is the single-best source for that.

If you can’t afford (or find) those top three, then +9 Intellect should be both easy to find and cheap. It’s not nearly as good as the others, but it’s definitely better than nothing and 9 Spell Power and 135 Mana is still of great use to a low level toon.

Obtaining Your HMD Armor
Chest: Haliscan Jacket: 90 Armor
Festival Dress: 13 Armor
Simple Black Dress: 0 Armor
Bracer: Light Cloth Bracers: 9 Armor
Gloves: Light Cloth Gloves: 13 Armor
Feet: Dress Shoes: 9 Armor
Back: Linen Cloak: 12 Armor
*Waist: Light Cloth Belt: 12 Armor
*Legs: Haliscan Pantaloons: 77 Armor
Black Tuxedo Pants: 54 Armor

This is an example of a full gear set that I would suggest for your HMD’s. This particular set can be purchased form the Cloth Armor vendor in the Blood Elf starting zone, but there is a similar armor set that you can purchase in every starting zone that have the same stats.

There are a few armor pieces here that aren’t vendor purchases though, and those are the Chest and Legs. There I have the pieces that are actually above and beyond the norm, and they are all crafted by Tailors. The Haliscan Jacket and Simple Black Dress are both able to be equipped at level 1, but they both have item levels over 35 which means they can be enchanted with recipes from the Burning Crusade expansion where other items cannot. If you can afford one of them, then I suggest you do it. The Haliscan is a shirt rather than a robe, so if you like to look more like a caster then you may prefer to the Dress instead, despite the 90 Armor difference.

The Festival Dress is just a cool looking robe for you to wear at low levels, and since part of using HMD’s is looking cool I’m going to leave it up there. The Simple Black Dress might have a higher item level and be able to get better enchants on it, but it doesn’t look nearly as cool as the Festival Dress.

I marked the Legs and Waist items because neither of those slots can actually be enchanted with anything worthwhile for a low level toon (16 armor from an armor kit is blah). You can get some more armor out of them, but that’s it. I don’t consider it worth my time or my bank space to hold onto those items since they offer so little benefit. If you want a complete “set” of the armor, then go ahead and buy them, but otherwise ignore those two slots.

Chest Enchants
Enchant Chest – Exceptional Stats: +6 All Stats [ilvl 35+]
Enchant Chest – Greater Stats: +4 All Stats
Enchant Chest – Major Mana: +100 Mana
Enchant Chest – Stats: +3 All Stats

I still feel that the +6 Stats is overall the best option for any class because it just offers so much across the board that it’s hard to match, much less beat. The mana is another good option for you as it’s also fairly cheap, it’s just not quite as good as the others.

While you can play a low level Priest similar to how I play my Warlocks (casting DoT’s on the entire starting zone at once), your mana costs are insanely higher for spamming Shadow Word: Pain when compared to the Warlock’s Corruption. You want mana, and you want lots of it. While you take a slight loss of mana using the +6 or +4 Stats enchants over the +100 Mana, you’re also gaining both Spell Power and Health in return.

Bracer Enchants
Enchant Bracer – Healing Power: +15 Spell Power
Enchant Bracer – Greater Intellect: +7 Intellect

I personally choose +15 SP for my bracer enchants, but the +7 Intellect enchant is a lot better than it used to be now that Int=SP. You can either have 15 Sp or you can have 7 SP and 105 Mana to go with it. It’s up to you really, I just like to have that extra level of power from the 15 SP for my personal taste.

I’ve considered swapping out the +15 SP for the +7 Intellect for my Priests, and I think I’m going to go ahead and do it simply because of the mana issues. If I’m just kicking back covering the heals in a dungeon then there’s not really a problem, but if I decide to go on the offensive then I can very easily bleed my mana dry on every single boss fight.

Glove Enchants
Enchant Gloves – Healing Power: +16 Spell Power
Enchant Gloves – Shadow Power: +20 Shadow Spell Power
Enchant Gloves – Minor Haste: +10 Haste

Casters have a lot of really good options here. The generic enchant of choice is Healing Power for +16 SP to all of your spells, but if you know you’re going to Shadow then you can go with the Shadow Power instead. Caster bracers aren’t especially easy to find in game, so you may very well find yourself wearing these HMD’s in your 30’s. If you plan on paying 10g for dual spec at that level range then you may really want to consider Healing Power over Shadow Power because of the cross-over usefulness of generic SP over type-specific.

The Minor Haste enchant is a very good choice and one I frequently use. For low level casting that 10 Haste equates to about 0.10 seconds off of your cast times. Priests make fairly good use of Haste at early levels where some of the other classes do not, because the Haste makes your DoT’s tick more frequently. I’m not sure how big of an impact that 10 Haste will give you, but it’s definitely better than nothing.

Boot Enchants
Enchant Boots – Minor Speed: +7% Run Speed
Enchant Boots – Lesser Accuracy: +5 Hit

Casters get the shaft on boot enchants, with nothing really standing out. I lean towards the speed increase for my personal use, but you might prefer the +5 Hit. Run Speed will help you quest and level faster, while Accuracy will help you kill faster, so the choice is yours. If you’re not playing DPS, then Hit obviously isn’t a priority.

Caster Cloak Enchants
Enchant Cloak – Subtlety: -2% Threat
Enchant Cloak – Superior Defense: +70 Armor

The cloak enchants still suck, and that’s about all there is to it. Threat really shouldn’t be an issue for you in dungeons because you don’t get early AoE spells and Priests kind of suck when it comes to burst damage so you shouldn’t steal threat from a tank unless you’re targeting the wrong mobs. On the flip side, you shouldn’t be getting hit in melee combat anyway so the Armor enchant is even more useless.

If you’re going to run dungeons at all then I say use the Threat enchant, otherwise go for the Armor simply because threat has no value at all when solo.

 
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Posted by on November 29, 2010 in Caster, Class, Guide, Hand Me Downs, Leveling, Play Styles, Priest

 

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Hand Me Downs: Shamans

I realize that my Hand Me Downs: A Poor Man’s Heirlooms post was a huge wall of text, so I’ve decided to do a breakdown of it so that it’s more useful to those who want try it out.

To do this, I’m going to do a breakdown of each class and show you which Hand Me Downs (HMD’s) I suggest using for the given class and spec. Most of this information is copied and pasted from the original post, but I’ve put in specifics related to the Warrior class and specs and hopefully given a bit more detail and direction for why I chose what I did.

General Concept
The basic idea of what I call “hand-me-downs” (or HMD’s) is that you’re taking items that can be passed from one toon to the next (so Common, White-quality items) and enhancing them to make them better. Enhancements that we’re going to talk about here come mostly from the Enchanting profession, though a few may also be found in Blacksmithing (counterweights, sheild spikes, etc), Leatherworking (armor kits), and Engineering (scopes).

The whole point here is to get low level gear that you can pass around to any alts that you ever roll to make them more powerful starting out. As Cynwise and I have proved through experiment in both PvE and PvP at low levels, it isn’t heirlooms that make your character so overpowered, it’s actually the enchants.

So if you’re trying to decide on which class to role, or what to go take one for a test drive for 10 levels or so before deciding whether or not to keep them, this is a great way to get a feel for how the class is going to play for you without putting in investment that’s going to be wasted. Since these items can be passed around due to their lack of binding, it’s not a big deal to roll a character, gain a few levels, scrap them and reroll another, and so on until you find a nice fit.

Elemental Weapons
We’re going to start off with weapons because they have more potential than armor for making your low level toons extra powerful. When you’re choosing a hand-me-down weapon, you need to consider which type you’re really looking for. For Melee weapons you’re interested in three things: damage, usefulness, and coolness.

WARNING! - Using your Shaman weapon buffs will bind non-bound gear to you. Meaning, if you cast Flametongue Weapon (or any of the others) on your HMD’s, they become bound to the character and can no longer be traded to your other toons. The only weapons that will not become soulbound when using your class’s weapon buffs are the actual BoA heirlooms.

Elemental and Restoration Weapons
Arcane Forged Mace: 2-5 Damage (1.7 DPS), 1.90 Speed
Arcane Forged Dirk: 1-4 Damage (1.7 DPS), 1.60 Speed
Mana Gathering Staff: 5-9 Damage (2.1 DPS), 3.20 Speed
Apprentice’s Staff: 3-5 Damage (1.3 DPS), 2.90 Speed

As I’ve said before, the Mace is the only weapon that every healing class in the game has in common, so the Mace is one of your best choices. However, the Dagger is the one weapon that can be shared across every type of spellcaster in the game, except for the Holy Paladin. If you only want to enchant a single caster HMD, then the dagger is the best option because both healers and DPS casters can use it save for the Paladin.

Any of these, or similar, weapons will work for you though you’ll want to keep in mind that as a Shaman caster you can take advantage of shields where most other casters cannot, so a one-hand is more useful to you overall than a staff.

Elemental Enchants
Enchant Weapon – Mighty Intellect: +22 Intellect
Enchant Weapon – Spell Power: +30 Spell Power
Enchant Weapon – Healing Power: +29 Spell Power
Enchant 2H Weapon – Major Intellect: +9 Intellect

In 3.5 the +30 SP was the go-to enchant for casters, but with the change to spell power Mighty Intellect has taken the lead. It’s also the cheapest of the three options which makes it that much more appealing. You don’t get quite as much spell power out of the deal, but you’re trading 7-8 SP for 330 mana which is more than worth it for low level casters in my opinion.

Enhancement Weapons
2H Broad Axe: [Lvl: -] 5-8 Damage (2.1 DPS), 3.10 Speed
2H Vile Fin Battle Axe: [Lvl: 4] 12-19 Damage (5.1 DPS), 3.10 Speed
2H Frostbit Staff: [Lvl: 5] 12-19 Damage (5.8 DPS), 2.70 Speed
1H Mace: [Lvl: 9] 8-17 Damage (6.5 DPS), 1.90 Speed
1H Left-Handed Brass Knuckles: [Lvl: 10] 6-13 Damage (7.0 DPS), 1.40 Speed
1H Right-Handed Brass Knuckles: [Lvl: 10] 6-13 Damage (7.0 DPS), 1.40 Speed

The best way for you to kill things when you roll a fresh Shaman is to just spam Lightning Bolt until your target is dead. You really don’t have anything else to help you along until Primal Strike at level 3, so you don’t necessarily need a melee HMD until then. If you want one anyway, then the Broad Axe is your choice for level 1+, while the Vile Fin Battle Axe or Frostbit Staff will work well for level 4-5 on.

Since a two-hander will work better than a one-hander in those early levels I’m not listing any one-hand options until the Mace at level 9. You can’t dual wield until level 10, but you can use a pair of Maces once you hit level 10. If you want to add a little flair to your low level toon you can go for the Brass Knuckles instead as very, very few players use fist weapons early in the game.

As I mentioned above, using your class’s weapon buffs (Flametongue Weapon) will bind your HMD’s to this character, so you don’t want to use them unless you don’t mind having to vendor the HMD’s when the Shaman gets high enough to stop using them.

If you’re going to go Enhancement, I suggest you pick up the Maces at level 9 and use them until you replace them with dungeon drops.

Enhancement Enchants
Enchant Weapon – Crusader: Proc: +100 Strength for 15 sec., heals you for 75-125 (x2 crit)
Enchant Weapon – Agility: +15 Agility
Enchant 2H Weapon – Agility: +25 Agility
Enchant Weapon – Fiery Weapon: Proc: +40 Fire damage (x2 crit)
Enchant Weapon – Lifestealing: Proc: Steals 30 health from the target (x2 crit)

Since the purpose of HMD’s is to be used at low level, you want to consider what kind of investment you’re really making. The best enchant for your class is Agility, but the best enchant for those low levels is technically Crusader. Since you don’t get Dual Wield until level 10 your best damage increase is going to come in the form of a two-handed weapon. You can put a +25 Agi enchant on it for a consistent +50 AP, or you can put Crusader on it for a fairly reliable +100 AP most of the time.

Note: Concerning Crusader, Fiery Weapon, and Lifestealing – these enchants all work off of a proc rate which ties directly to the weapon’s speed. The slower your weapon, the more often it will proc on a per-swing basis. The faster the weapon, the fewer times per-swing it will proc. The proc rate is based on a Procs Per Minute (PPM), so you won’t get any more procs each minute from a slow weapon than you would from a fast weapon, but the chance of a proc on each swing is higher if it’s slow.

It’s kind of confusing, so let me simplify it by saying this: Given the level range at which HMD’s are viable, the strength of classes, and the fragility of mobs, you’re better off using slow weapons rather than fast weapons when using proc-based enchants.

I haven’t decided yet which of those I honestly prefer more, so for now I’m using Crusader since I already have it. When it procs I know I have 12 seconds of one-shotting most mobs, so I go on a mini killing spree while it’s active and loot after the buff wears off. Between the two Agility enchants, you want a two-hander prior to level 10, and then two one-handers from 10 on, so if you can dual wield the +15 Agi (x2) is better than +25 Agi, but until then +25 > +15 (x1).

Fiery and Lifestealing are both great choices as well, with Fiery being the better of the two. I like that Fiery procs often lead to one-shots, but the higher you get in level the less impressive the enchant becomes. Lifestealing does at least have some scaling with your level, but it’s proc rate isn’t as high as Fiery so it doesn’t happen as often.

Shields
I really only suggest you even bother looking at shields if you’re going to go Elemental or Restoration. Enhancement is better served with a two-handed weapon prior to level 10 and then dual wielding from there on, so there’s never any room for a shield as Enhancement.

Shields
Large Round Shield: [Lvl: -] 171 Armor
Light Guard Shield: [Lvl: -] 116 Armor
Warrior’s Shield: [Lvl: 4] 278 Armor
Dull Heater Shield: [Lvl: 5] 307 Armor
Standard Issue Shield: [Lvl: 5] 307 Armor

Shields aren’t all that important prior to level 10 or 15, so you might want to consider doing another search that looks at higher level shields if you’re not going to use one right away. If you want one starting out though, the Large Round Shield is as good as it gets. While I do have a level 1 shield that I can pass around on my alts that use them, I wouldn’t really recommend that you bother with one below level 5 when the Standard Issue and Heater Shields become available. They give almost twice the armor value and it takes all of 15 minutes to reach level 5 without heirlooms so it’s not a big deal to wait. And the Standard Issue Shield is probably the coolest looking low level shield in the game, give or take a couple of the other options I have listed there.

Elemental and Restoration Shield Enchants
Enchant Shield – Vitality: Restore 4 health and mana every 5 seconds
Felsteel Shield Spike: Deals 26-38 damage when you block
Thorium Shield Spike: Deals 20-30 damage when you block
Mithril Shield Spike: Deals 16-20 damage when you block
Enchant Shield – Greater Stamina: +7 Stamina

This is actually a hard call to make. Elemental now gets Thunderstorm at level 10 which can negate the usefulness of a shield spike because most mobs won’t get to touch you before they’re dead. But, the shield spike provides a lot of extra damage for low level characters too. I haven’t been able to test these two out yet, so I’m going with my gut on the priority order here. I’m going to say that for Elemental you want Vitality over a shield spike, while Resto probably wants the additional damage from a shield spike rather than Vitality.

Armor
Armor isn’t nearly as important as your weapons because in the levels that you’ll use HMD’s you should not have very many issues with survivability, making the armor stat much less impressive than it really is. The main benefit that you’ll get from your HMD’s then is actually the enchants that you place on them. The best-in-slot items for both chest and leg slots (that can be used at level 1) are interestingly cloth items; Haliscan Jacket and Haliscan Pantaloons.

And since the whole point of HMD’s is to enchant them in order to make them more powerful than regular gear, we’re not going to bother making HMD’s that cannot benefit from enchants, or which benefit only a very small amount. So we’re not going to look at Belts, jewelry or trinkets.

Leather Armor Set
Chest: Haliscan Jacket: 90 Armor (Cloth), Sun Cured Vest: 33 Armor
Legs: Haliscan Pantaloons: 77 Armor, Black Tuxedo Pants: 54 Armor, Sun Cured Pants: 29 Armor
Waist: Squeeler’s Belt: 22 Armor, Sun Cured Belt: 18 Armor
Bracer: Sun Cured Bracers: 14 Armor
Gloves: Sun Cured Gloves: 20 Armor
Feet: Sun Cured Boots: 23 Armor
Back: Linen Cloak: 12 Armor

Above is the vendor bought Leather set from the Blood Elf starting area. For level 1 characters these do end up being the strongest items available to you, so I haven’t bothered listing items for other levels as armor upgrades really aren’t important for your first 20 levels unless you’re a tank.

The Haliscan Jacket and Pantaloons and the Tuxedo Pants easily beat out the best leather options at level 1, so they’re listed here as well even though they’re cloth. They also happen to have higher item levels than all of the other options, giving you the ability to put more worthwhile enchants on them as well.

Elemental and Restoration Chest Enchants
Enchant Chest – Exceptional Stats: +6 All Stats [ilvl 35+]
Enchant Chest – Greater Stats: +4 All Stats
Enchant Chest – Major Mana: +100 Mana
Enchant Chest – Stats: +3 All Stats
Enchant Chest – Restore Mana Prime: Restore 7 Mana every 5 seconds [ilvl 35+]

The best choice here is +6 Stats which gives you 90 Mana and 6 Spell Power, though it can only be placed on the Haliscan Jacket. The +4 and +3 Stats enchants are listed for the same reason, providing both spell power and mana. I like the +100 Mana more than +3 stats for Shaman HMD’s because while mana isn’t an issue in most cases I’m more likely to need the extra mana than I am a mere 3 points of spell power. Mana regen isn’t usually a huge issue, but if you run into mana problems then you might want to consider Restore Mana Prime.

Enhancement Chest Enchants
Enchant Chest – Exceptional Stats: +6 All Stats [ilvl 35+]
Enchant Chest – Greater Stats: +4 All Stats
Enchant Chest – Exceptional Health: +150 Health [ilvl 35+]
Enchant Chest – Stats: +3 All Stats
Enchant Chest – Major Health: +100 Health

We have basically the same situation for Enhancement, except the +X Stats enchants get much more beneficial. The +6 Stats for instance grants 18 Attack Power (6 Agi = 12 AP, 6 Str = 6 AP) as well as 6 Spell Power and 90 mana, all of which you’ll use. This is a great example of when being a hybrid is a good thing. Shamans do have a knack for being squishy in the early levels though, so +150 Health isn’t a bad idea either, if you have the Haliscan to put it on.

Elemental and restoration Bracer Enchants
Enchant Bracer – Healing Power: +15 Spell Power
Enchant Bracer – Greater Intellect: +7 Intellect
Enchant Bracer – Mana Regeneration: Restore 5 Mana every 5 seconds

I personally choose +15 SP for my bracer enchants, but the +7 Intellect enchant is a lot better now than it was before 4.0. You can either have 15 SP or you can have 7 SP and 105 Mana to go with it. It’s up to you really, I just like to have that extra level of power from the 15 SP for my personal taste.

I feel that the mp5 enchant is the weakest here, but it’s still a decent fit for a caster. You may consider it if you’re a healer, but I wouldn’t even look at it if you’re going for DPS unless you can’t find or can’t afford one of the others.

Enhancement Bracer Enchants
Enchant Bracer – Superior Strength: +9 Strength
Enchant Bracer – Superior Stamina: +9 Stamina
Enchant Bracer – Minor Agility: +1 Agility

I don’t know why in the world they gave us +9 to both Strength and Stamina, but not Agility. We don’t even have a +7, +5, or even +3 Agility; they just left us with the dinky +1. However, we do still get 1:1 AP from Strength, so the +9 Str enchant is your best bet here. If you’re feeling especially fragile then go ahead and reach for the +9 Stam instead, but you shouldn’t have many survivability problems in this level range.

Elemental and Restoration Glove Enchants
Enchant Gloves – Healing Power: +16 Spell Power
Enchant Gloves – Minor Haste: +10 Haste

Casters have a lot of really good options here. The generic enchant of choice is Healing Power for +16 SP to all of your spells. Unfortunately, most of our damage is Nature which doesn’t have it’s own “.. Power” enchant, so Healing Power is your best option. Haste can help you in a few situations, though mostly in your reduced cast times.

Enhancement Glove Enchants
Enchant Gloves – Superior Agility: +15 Agility
Enchant Gloves – Greater Agility: +7 Agility
Enchant Gloves – Greater Strength: +7 Strength

Gloves provide us one of the best enchants of all of our HMD’s with Superior Agility (+15 Agi). The +15 Agi enchant isn’t exactly easy to find though, because it’s not exactly easy to farm either. If you can’t find it, then look for the +7 Agi instead, or +7 Str if you can’t find either of the Agility enchants.

Leg Enchants
Light Armor Kit: +8 Armor to Chest, Legs, Hands or Feet
Medium Armor Kit: [Lvl: 5] +16 Armor to Chest, Legs, Hands or Feet

I’m going to go ahead and list these here just for the sake of completion. I don’t use HMD pants because of the fact that these are the only enchants you can put on them. A little extra armor never hurt anybody, but it never really helps for your low level toons either. Not when we’re talking about 8-16 points of it, at least. If you want to use them, then here they are.

Elemental and Restoration Boot Enchants
Enchant Boots – Minor Speed: +7% Run Speed
Enchant Boots – Lesser Accuracy: +5 Hit

Casters get the shaft on boot enchants, with nothing really standing out. I lean towards the speed increase for my personal use, but you might prefer the +5 Hit. Run Speed will help you quest and level faster, while Accuracy will help you kill faster, so the choice is yours.

Enhancement Boot Enchants
Enchant Boots – Greater Agility: +7 Agility
Enchant Boots – Minor Speed: +7% Run Speed
Enchant Boots – Lesser Accuracy: +5 Hit
Enchant Boots – Greater Stamina: +7 Stamina

While my personal choice for HMD boots is almost always Minor Speed, the +7 Agility is the best one for actually improving your performance. You can also get a lot of use out of the +5 Hit, especially once you can dual wield at level 10, so keep that one in mind. I only use the +7 Stamina enchant on my twinks, and even then I usually go for the run speed instead, but it’s there if you want it.

Cloak Enchants (All Specs)
Enchant Cloak – Stealth: +8 Agility, +8 Dodge
Enchant Cloak – Lesser Agility: +3 Agility
Enchant Cloak – Superior Defense: +70 Armor
Enchant Cloak – Subtlety: -2% Threat

The Stealth enchant has stepped up in 4.0.3a as the top enchant for Agility-based HMD’s. Rather than making it harder to be noticed while it stealth, it now gives you +8 Agility and +8 Dodge making it far superior to every other cloak enchant available on your HMD’s. The mats for it are also fairly inexpensive given how powerful this enchant it.

Elem/Resto may want to consider Subtlety if you’re going to be using the dungeon finder a lot. The Defense enchant is good for any spec as well, but it’s not all that great. Consider the +70 Armor if you’re going to do a lot of solo questing, and Subtlety if you’re doing a lot of LFG.

 
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Posted by on November 24, 2010 in Caster, Class, Guide, Hand Me Downs, Leveling, Melee, Play Styles, Shaman

 

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