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Category Archives: Mage

Hand Me Downs: Mages

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. I was going to combine the Mages and Warlocks into a single post, but I considered that even though they’re both pure DPS classes and both wear the same gear (cloth), they don’t necessarily want the same enchants in every slot. So I’ve split them back up and we’ll move forward from here with the Mage post.

Most of this information is copied and pasted from the original post, but I’ve put in specifics related to the Mage class 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 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 roll, or want 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 a time 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 Shortsword: 3-6 Damage (1.7 DPS), 2.6 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 swords or daggers that you would use for a Mage HMD. 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 Shortsword, is the one that I recommend using for your Mage because it looks cool 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 the sword or dagger 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.

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

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.

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

The enchants I have listed here are ranked by their power and usefulness as I see them. The best choice here is +6 Stats which gives you 90 Mana and 6 Spell Power, though it too can only be placed on the Haliscan Jacket or Simple Black Dress (from the list I gave you). The +4 Stats enchant gives you 4 Spell Power and also 60 mana, so I consider it better than just +100 Mana. The difference is only 40 mana which is typically only enough to cast one or two spells. The +3 Stats falls below the +100 Mana enchant for me for the very same reason, in that it’s only giving you 45 Mana, so the +3 Spell Power isn’t all that great.

We have the same situation with the Stats enchants here as we do above with the Melee enchants and for the same reasons. Again, I list the +100 Mana last here, but only because I consider it less valuable than the others. For casters, mana = damage so having more mana does essentially make you more powerful; just not directly. Despite it being last on my list, I tend to use it above all of the others for my personal HMD’s, because I like to have a ton of mana to work with and don’t mind sacrificing a few points of spell power for 100 extra mana.

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 don’t often run into mana issues on my Mages, but it’s also the class I’m most familiar with leveling and playing, so I know how to work with what I’ve got.

There are some other bracer enchants you might want to take a look at if you don’t like these or can’t find/afford them, but they shouldn’t be all that hard to come by.

Glove Enchants
Enchant Gloves – Healing Power: +16 Spell Power
Enchant Gloves – Fire Power: +20 Fire Spell Power
Enchant Gloves – Frost Power: +20 Frost 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 your’e going to spec for a specific damage type then you can go ahead and grab it instead. If you’re going for a Fire spec, then get Fire Power, and if you’re going Frost spec then get Frost power.

If you’re not sure of your spec, then go with Healing Power. Also remember that the purpose of HMD’s is to pass them around on other toons, so they need to be reusable. For that reason, I personally go with +16 Spell Power rather than +20 to a specific type. Frost Mages are the only ones that will make decent use of Frost Power, while Fire Mages and Destro Locks can both use Fire Power.

The drawback of those top three enchants is that they’re all harder to come by than mots of the other enchants you’ll use for HMD’s because they’re found in old raids. The mats can be a bit pricey on some servers, but they aren’t as bad as some of the others.

The Minor Haste enchant is a very good choice and one I frequently use. I don’t prefer it for Mages (now that spell ranks are gone /sniffle), but it’s still a good option for them as well. For low level casting that 10 Haste equates to about 0.10 seconds off of your cast times.

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.

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

The cloak enchants are even worst than the boot enchants, I’m afraid. If you’re going to do a lot of dungeon running then I definitely suggest you pick up a cloak with Subtlety on it for the threat reduction, because Mages are real good at laying down some good DPS, and reducing the chance of pulling those mobs to eat your face is a good thing.

If you’re not going to use LFG very much, then either go with the +70 Armor, or skip using an HMD cloak all together. We don’t get much benefit out of them when not running dungeons, so they’re not that important.

 
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Posted by on November 19, 2010 in Caster, Class, Guide, Hand Me Downs, Leveling, Mage, Play Styles

 

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Leveling Overview: Cataclysm 1-10

Beta Build: 4.0.1.12942
Spoiler Types:
– New features
– Low level class abilities or traits
– General impression of starting areas (no specific lore)

With my beta key firmly in hand, and the client downloaded and installed (after 38 hours), a lot of my leveling now is done in the beta rather than the live, and it’s most likely going to stay that way. I don’t want to leave the blog hanging or go off in another direction with it, so I’m going to keep right on blogging about leveling, just with a Cataclysm touch in mind instead.

I’m going to stay away from spoilers as far as the game itself goes, but I am going to talk about new abilities, where you get them, how you get them, and so on and so forth. There will be some small spoilers in relation to those topics, so if you don’t even want to know what abilities are changing and such, then you’ll probably want to ignore me for a couple more months until it comes out live. I’ve said it since Cataclysm was revealed to us in BlizzCon 2009, that it will launch in November and I still believe that that is true.

Each post that I make in relation to Cataclysm prior to its actual launch will have a disclaimer at the top noting which type of spoilers (if any) you’ll find in the post, along with the beta build number associated with the information in the post.

For this post I’m going to talk about leveling for all of the races and classes up to level 10, just to give you an idea of how they’re going to feel coming right out of the box.
Turn the page to find out more…

 

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Guide to Heirloom Purchases

Today we’re going to look at which heirlooms you should purchase for your leveling alts. A couple of weeks ago I covered Enchanting Your Heirlooms, so I’ll refer you back to that post if you have already purchased heirlooms and would like to look into the various ways that you can enhance their performance via enchants and item enhancements.

Equipment Lists
I’m going to make a list of heirlooms for each class individually, and I will mention certain items that would work better for certain specs as well. I will tell you right now though, that while I have leveled most classes to a significant leveling milestone, I have not played every class and every spec. So if you see me suggest an item for your class because I know you’re looking for Spell Power, but you feel it would be better for you to go with another because it has Spirit as well as Spell Power, then go with your gut as you may very well know that particular class better than I do.

What I am going to have is a list of weapons, chests, and shoulders for you to use in each of your different specs, and a (hopefully) short explanation of why. In some cases there may be multiple suggestions made for a particular slot, particularly when it comes to weapons. The reason for this will generally be because there are multiple builds that people use for that class, or because certain equipment options aren’t available until a higher level. A good example of this is the Enhancement Shaman who benefits more from a large two-hand weapon until level 40 when they can dual wield one-handers, or the Warrior who may dual wield one-handers until level 60 and then dual wield two-handers from there on.

Under each class header you’ll find the list of gear that I suggest and prefer. There will also be a Substitutions list which are items that I consider to be reasonable replacements for the items I suggest in case you already have some of those and would rather not purchase others, or in case you have more of one currency than another and can’t afford all of the recommended pieces.
Turn the page to find out more…

 

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Mage Leveling: Fire 1-30

Now that I’ve covered the full process of leveling a Mage with the Frost tree, (and Arcane leveling can be summed up by saying “Frostbolt, Arcane Missiles, Frostbolt, Arcane Missiles” until we catch up with the guide I already have divided between Frost and Arcane leveling), it’s time now to switch over to the final talent tree of Fire.

Early on Fire leveling is pretty much the same as any other mage in how it plays except that you’re constantly flinging Napalm rather than Icicles. As you get higher though you’ll find that your rotation changes up quite a bit over time until the word “rotation” becomes a part of the past and instead you follow something called “priority”. But I’m getting ahead of myself there. For now, let us look at the art of napalm flinging, shall we?

Important Spells

Level 1-10:
Fireball: Hurls a fiery ball that causes Fire damage and additional Fire damage over 6 seconds.
Frostbolt: Launches a bolt of frost, causing Frost damage and slowing movement speed by 40% for 6 seconds.
Fireblast: Instantly blasts the enemy for Fire damage.
Frost Nova: Blasts enemies near the caster for Frost damage and freezes them in place for 8 seconds or until damage breaks the effect.
Polymorph: Transforms the enemy into a sheep for 20 seconds. Sheep cannot attack or cast spells, but will regenerate very quickly. Any damage will transform them back to their normal form.

You’ll be spamming Fireball for a very long time, so you might as well get a feel for it now. The cast time will grow as you level, eventually capping at 3.5 seconds before any reductions. You’ll only use Frostbolt as a means of slowing mobs down when you’re playing as Fire, but slowing them down is really useful at lower levels so it made the list. Fireblast is our instant cast “finishing move”, the spell we’ll use to finish off a mob when it’s low on health so that we don’t have to sit through a cast time.

Frost Nova is an excellent tool for any Mage. You’ll usually make use of it to freeze an enemy in place while you gain distance between you and the mob before going back to flinging Fireballs. However, Frost Nova is also a great spell to use for finishing off mobs that are very low on health (around 20 HP or so) as its mana cost is 1/3 of the cost of Fireblast. If you’re not having to use Frost Nova defensively then use it as a low health finisher and if the mob still isn’t dead then you can easily Shoot it to death with your wand while it’s frozen in place.

Level 11-20
Slow Fall: Slows friendly party or raid target’s falling speed for 30 seconds.
Flamestrike: Calls down a pillar of fire, dealing Fire damage to all enemies in the area and burning for additional Fire damage over 8 seconds.
Remove Curse: Remove 1 Curse from a friendly target.
Blink: Teleport yourself up to 20 yards forward. Frees the caster from stuns and bonds.
Blizzard: Ice shards pelt the target area dealing Frost damage over 8 seconds.
Evocation: Restore 60% of your total mana over an 8 seecond channeling.
Pyroblast: Hurls an immense fiery boulder that cuases Fire damage and burns for additional Fire damage over 12 seconds.

You can also teleport to any of your faction’s starting city except for the Druidic races (Night Elf and Tauren) which you can get at 30 instead.

My love for Slow Fall runs deep. There are just so many uses for it even outside of combat that it’s on my list of greatest spells in the game. Flamestrike is going to be our main AoE nuke spell while questing, though Blizzard will remain a very powerful AoE spell throughout the game as well. I generally macro the two of them together so that I can cast either one at any given time depending on the setup.

Remove Curse may not be used very much while we’re leveling, but you’re going to be called on to cast it when you get around level 80 so you might as well get used to where it’s at and when to use it. Blink is another spell like Slow Fall deserving great praise. It’s a spiffy little tool for running away or just getting around easier, but the real beauty of this spell that so many mages seem to miss is that Blink frees the caster from stuns and bonds. A “bond” is anything at all that stops you from moving except for something like a Death Knights Hungering Cold which freezes you in a block of ice. Frost Nova? Stuns? Roots? All can be “blinked” out of.

Evocation is your lifeblood, the key to your downtime. Use it when you’re below 40% mana and only drink when you have to or when Evocation is on cooldown. For maximum benefit, use the glyph that goes with it to restore 60% of your health during the channel as well. Pyroblast is our level 20 talent, and for now we’ll just be pulling with it since it has a huge cast time, but later on we’ll lay waste to things with it as an instant cast.



Level 21-30
Scorch: Scorch the enemy for Fire damage.
Counterspell: Counters an enemy’s spellcast, preventing any spells from that school from being cast for 8 seconds. High threat.
Conjure Mana Gem: Create a Mana Agate which when used restores 390 to 410 mana.
Ice Block: You become encased in a block of ice, protecting you from all attacks and spells for 10 seconds, but you cannot attack, move or cast spells.

Scorch will become much more important to us later on. For right now it’s just a quick cast Fire spell that deals a bit of damage. After some talent points get spent though it will be a big boost to our crit chance. Counterspell is a great spell because it can be used either offensively or defensively. If you see a caster cooking up something that’s going to hurt, counter it. If you see a caster about to heal someone, counter it. If you wish the mob would move a bit closer to his buddies, counter his spell so that he moves into melee during the time he can’t cast. Just remember that countering someone’s spells generally pisses them off, whether it’s an NPC or another player.

Conjure Mana Gem is yet another step towards reducing our downtime and increasing our efficiency. You’ll use your various mana gems throughout the rest of your career, so get used to using them now. They should be your first priority for restoring mana while in combat unless you have lower level mana pots that you just want to get rid by using them. Ice Block is your first OSB, a spell you cast when things go wrong and you think you might die. It’s a solid offensive tool when you’re using AoE as every mob you have agro on will run up and melee attack your ice block, and it’s good defensively because you become immune to everything while it’s up (at least until higher levels where other classes get the ability to destroy it). If you’re in trouble with melee mobs it’s a good idea to cast this, let them gather around, and then Frost Nova the second it wears off and blink away to either Bandage, potion, Evocate, or simply run away.



Talent Points
Fire is all about blowing things up and roasting mobs while they’re still alive.



  • Improved Fireball 5/5: Reduces the casting time of your Fireball spell by 0.5 seconds.
  • Ignite 5/5: Your critical strikes from Fire spells cause the target to burn for an additional 40% of your spell’s damage over 4 seconds.
  • Pyroblast 1/1: Hurls an immense fiery boulder that causes Fire damage and burns for additional Fire damage over 12 seconds.
  • Burning Soul 2/2: Reduces the pushback suffered from damaging attacks while casting Fire spells by 70% and reduces the threat caused by your Fire spells by 20%.
  • World in Flames 2/3: Increases the critical strike chance of your Flamestrike, Pyroblast, Blast Wave, Dragon’s Breath, Living Bomb, Blizzard and Arcane Explosion spells by 4%.
  • Master of Elements 3/3: Your spell critical hits refund 30% of their base mana cost.
  • Improved Scorch 2/3: Increases your chance to critically hit with Scorch, Fireball and Frostfire Bolt by an additional 2% and your damaging Scorch spells have a 66% chance to cause your target to be vulnerable to spell damage, increasing spell critical strike chance against the target by 5% and lasts for 30 seconds.
  • Blast Wave 1/1: A wave of flame radiates outward from the caster, damaging all enemies caught within the blast for Fire damage, knocking them back and dazing them for 6 seconds.

With the otherwise long cast times that we have to deal with our first priority is Improved Fireball to cut down the time on our primary nuke. Ignite is one of our most important features as Fire Mages, causing our Fire crits to apply a Damage over Time (DoT) effect to the target. Scroll down a bit for more info on Ignite.

At level 20 we get one of our signature Fire spells, Pyroblast. It has a huge cast time at 5.0 seconds, but it hits like a truck and has it’s own DoT effect that surpasses Fireball’s DoT by a great deal. For right now we’ll simply use it when pulling, when mobs are frozen via Frost Nova, or when we want to break Polymorph. As we get closer to level 60 this puppy is going to be an instant cast nuke of doom.

We take Burning Soul primarily for the reduced pushback when we’re casting Fire spells, but if you’re going to be running randoms then having that 20% threat reduction is pretty critical because as a Fire Mage you generate a lot of threat with your big hits and crits. World in Flames is another big talent for us since we love crits, but we can’t make full use of it for a while yet so we’re just building points in it for now. Still, an extra 4% crit on Flamestrike, Pyroblast, and Blast Wave (during this level range) is just what we’re looking for.

Fire is known for its mana issues early on because it takes a lot of fuel to burn that much flesh. For now we’ll buffer that with Master of Elements for a 30% mana refund when we crit. After level 60 we’ll pad that further with talents from the Arcane tree, but this is as good as it gets for now. We’ll finish our 20s with Improved Scorch to help further increase our crit chance.

And our level 30 talent is one of my favorite Fire spells, Blast Wave which is Fire’s version of Frost Nova, but rather than freezing enemies in place we’re going to knock them back and then daze them for 6 seconds. If you’re a dungeon runner then you may want to consider getting the glyph for this so that the pushback is removed and the mana cost drops down a little bit, but being the PvP fan that I am I love the pushback for knocking scrubs off of cliffs and down to their doom. Back in the day you used to be able to use this spell while on a flying mount to knock flagged opponents off of their mounts as well. Those were good times. /sniffle

I’m going to take just a second to quote Tachyon on how Ignite works, and I encourage you to click on that link to read the rest of the description on Ignite and the rest of the article as well:

Ignite is a core mechanic you are expected to understand if you raid with fire.
Whenever one of your fire spells crits, it will do 40% of that damage as DoT (Damage over Time). On a single crit, there will be two Ingite ticks, the first after 2sec, the second after 4sec, both doing 20% of the direct damage component of the spell that crit. If other spell crits happen when there’s still Ignite damage to tick, the new Ingite damage is added to the amount that is left to tick, and the timer starts anew to tick after 2/4 seconds.

Glyphs for Leveling

Major Glyphs
Glyph of Evocation: Also grants you 60% of your total health over the channeled time of your Evocation spell. [Req Lv 20]
Glyph of Mana Gem: Increases the mana recieved from using a mana gem by 40%. [Req Lv 30]
Glyph of Scorch: Increases the damage of your Scorch spell by 20%. [Req Lv 20]
Glyph of Fireball: Reduces the cast time of Fireball by 0.15 seconds, but removes the DoT effect.

Minor Glyphs
Glyph of Slow Fall: Your Slow Fall spell no longer requires a reagent.
Glyph of Fire Ward: You have an additional 5% chance to reflect Fire spells while your Fire Ward is active.
Glyph of Frost Ward: You have an additional 5% chance to reflect Frost spells while your Frost Ward is active.

Evocation is probably the single best leveling glyph available to a mage. You’re already going to be using it for mana restoration, but giving a 60% heal to a class that otherwise is unable to heal themselves is amazing. Mana Gem goes a long way towards reducing down time. You might not notice just how big that 40% is right now, but it will become increasingly apparent as you level up. Scorch is a dps alternative, but it’s usefulness is going to depend on how often you use it. I mostly pull it out on boss fights in dungeons, and that’s about it, so it’s not great for me. Another DPS alternative is Fireball, which isn’t bad but it’s not especially great either. The cast time reduction is small to say the least, but the loss of the DoT isn’t too big since the DoT sucks anyway.

For minors Slow Fall is your glyph, hands down. It usually costs around 45g to get the thing because every mage wants it, so if you can’t afford it then go with one of the other options I listed. Those three glyphs are going to be the ones you’ll use at level 80 regardless of your spec and they’re just as valid now as they will be later. Of the other two you’ll see more use at low levels from Frost Ward, but as you get into your 40’s or so you’ll see more use from Fire Ward.

My suggestion is Slow Fall at 15, Fireball only if it’s cheap otherwise no major, upgrade to Evocation as major at 20, add Mana Gem at 30.

General Tactics
At this level there’s not a whole lot to your tactics, you’re basically a fireballin’ fool. General tactics still apply though. Just because you’re Fire doesn’t mean you can’t make use of Frostbolt to slow targets, Frost Nova to freeze them in place, and so on. The most important thing is knowing how to take advantage of your cast times and your skills.

Prior to level 20 you’re basically just like every other mage in the game, flinging whatever you want to in order to kill things. Your general tactic though, for quite a few more levels, is to cast your longest cast time spell to pull with and then decide between slowing them down or simply burning them down. I tend to go back and forth in my personal style depending on the type of mob; it’s a habit I’ve picked up from PvP that’s unnecessary in PvE but I do it anyway.

Once you reach level 20 there are a couple of tactics that you should remember because you now have access to Pyroblast. The first tactic is in relation to Polymorph. If you body pull a mob or one paths into you that you weren’t expecting, you have the choice between Frost Nova or Polymorph. If the mob is immune to poly, then your only option is to Frost Nova or fight in melee range. If the mob is a caster or has a ranged attack then poly is the better option, but if it’s just melee then either one will work. When you sheep or freeze a mob you want to break that effect with Pyroblast. Fireball is going to hit hard enough to break Frost Nova almost every time so you might as well take advantage of your time with your biggest spell.

Another tactic that I use as Fire the “run-through” that I’ve mentioned in the Frost AoE guide, where you rush towards a mob in order to take advantage of one of your abilities. Frost typically uses this for Cone of Cold, but Fire uses it for two purposes. The one we’re going to talk about right now is your level 30 talent spell Blast Wave, because the other is Dragon’s Breath which we don’t get until level 50. When you use Blast Wave offensively rather than defensively you want to move within range of the enemy to use it similar to how you would Frost Nova. As it pushes the targets back and dazes them you have time then to cast either Fireball or Pyroblast, or you can be a bit more aggressive and follow it with a Fire Blast and then either Frost Nova or Arcane Explosion before finishing them off.

With Fire I tend to be much more aggressive and to some degree more careless with my mana. I’m not there to run around and kite the mobs as Fire, I’m there to melt your face. It’s not uncommon to see me use a Pyroblast > Fire Blast > Arcane Explosion x2 rotation on a single mob kill in this bracket because I like being more aggressive as Fire. Blame it on my inner pyromancer.



Leveling as Fire
Rotation 1: Fireball, Frostbolt, Fireball, Fire Blast or Fireball spam
Rotation 2: Fireball, Arcane Missile, Fire Blast
Rotation 3: Pyroblast, Fireball, Fireball, Fire Blast
Rotation 4: Pyroblast, Fireball, Blast Wave, Fire Blast

I have quite a few rotation options up there for you to choose from. Starting out you’ll be on the first rotation, either option. The first one is a bit more defensive since it uses the slow, but it works just fine. Fireball spam might not be very interesting, but it does work so it gets a mention as well.

The second rotation is one you’ll have available in your teens and twenties. During these ranges AM hits pretty hard so when you’re fronting that with a hefty Fireball chances are the target is going to die. During your teens especially that rotation should kill just about every non-elite mob you face.

The third rotation is what I typically use once I hit level 20. If I’m fighting lower level mobs then I might switch it up a bit by dropping the second Fireball and throwing an Arcane Explosion on the end if necessary, but it depends on the mob. You also have the option of replacing the Fireballs with Scorches instead, that’s up to you.

The last rotation up there is for level 30 and it’s the more aggressive playstyle I mentioned in the tactics section up above. It’s a very in-your-face method of playing a Mage when compared to the distanced style of Frost. Two big nukes at the front followed by a Blast Wave will often kill the mobs for you, but the Fire Blast on the end should mostly solidify that. If you need more damage then you always have other spells you can throw into the mix.

Playing a mage successfully is all about using the many spells that you have available to get the job done. Always remember that you still have Frost and Arcane spells available to you and you don’t lose any Pyro Points for casting Frost spells when the situation calls for it. When things need to die it’s your job to kill it; it doesn’t matter how it dies, only that it’s dead when you leave.

Macro Suggestions
Because the mage has so many spells that he can use, and all of them have their various uses, I use a lot of macros when playing a mage. Some of them are just for saving space, some are for being able to change from one type of damage to another for when you find thing like elemental that are immune to your main damage type.

As I’ve mentioned in other posts before, I have a standard that I follow when setting up my action bars so that similar spells from each class can be found on the same keys. So when I’m in the habit of playing my mage and then step over to playing my Death Knight I don’t end up casting the wrong spells just because my fingers want to react a certain way.

The first Mage Macro that I make is a simple one for Fireball:

#showtooltip
/startattack
/cast Fireball

At level 4 I add a similar macro for Frostbolt:

#showtooltip
/startattack
/cast Frostbolt

When I get to where I don’t bother slowing with Frostbolt anymore I just replace the two macros above with this one instead:

#showtooltip
/startattack
/cast [modifier:alt] Frostbolt; Fireball

The macro above will cast Fireball by default, or it will change to Frostbolt instead if I hold Alt when I activate the macro.

#showtooltip
/cast Blast Wave
/stopcasting
/cast Arcane Explosion

This is your one key instant AoE macro, it’s going to cast Blast Wave if it’s not on cooldown, and Arcane Explosion if it is. Another space saving macro for two very similar spells from a single key.

Gearing Up for Spellcasting
Spell Power > Intellect > everything

Spell Power is the driving force behind your damage, so you can never get enough of it. When you’re leveling up though you’ll often feel like you’re having mana problems where you’re drinking after every fight. Sometimes that’s just the way it is, you’ll have times where you’re burning through mana like a mad (wo)man, and for that reason you want to keep a stack of the best water/milk/juice/whatever that you can get your hands on for your level as well as a stack or two of the best you can summon.

If you feel like you’re constantly having mana problems then screw looking for spell power and shoot for the highest +Intellect gear you can get your hands on.

The Tailoring profession is a great source of gear throughout the various levels, especially if you plan on solo questing and solo AoE grinding your way to the top. You can generally find better gear in instances than you can from tailoring when you are starting out, but you can certainly weave that cloth to fill in any gaps you might have.

Whether you use a staff or you go with a one handed weapon and an off hand item is mostly up to you. Use whatever will give you better stats overall and go with it. Typically the low level staffs will be better than other options, but just use whatever you have on hand that provides the most benefit.

Keep a close eye on wands that are available to you and be sure to get one as soon as possible. You can equip the lowest level wand in the game at level 5 and it’s basically a free source of ranged damage. A lot of wands, starting in your teen levels also have other stats on them if you are willing to look around a bit to find them. Draenei and Blood Elves both have quests prior to level 10 that will give you a wand with +1 Intellect for instance.

 
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Posted by on April 27, 2010 in Class, Guide, Leveling, Mage

 

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Mage Leveling Final: 68-80 (Frost & Arcane)

Part I: Beginning
Part II: 21 – 39
Part III: 40 – 58
Part IV: 58-68 (Frost & Arcane)
AoE Grinding: Frost Mage Edition

Last time we got you up to level 68 in Outlands, so now it’s time to move it on up to Northrend. If you recently read the other guides up there you may remember that I mentioned that you can still pretty well solo all of the old world content, but that Outlands Group Quests really did require a group. In Northrend we go back to the way things were, with group quests not necessarily always requiring groups to complete at level. Some of them certainly require help, such as the Amphitheater of Anguish and such, but those are the exceptions not the rule.

The big change that you’re going to notice about Northrend is the amount of health that mobs have. Frost is going to notice that more so than other specs because of it’s lower damage. At least, that’s what I noticed when I took my Frost Mage there. Since then there have been some buffs to Frost that might make it a bit easier on you, but I found myself running out of mana frequently simply because of how many spells I had to cast to bring down the mobs.

Another big change you’re going to see is that you no longer get to use your flying mount(s). If you already have a level 80 character on the server then you can buy a book with your 80 that you can send to any of your own level 68+ characters that will teach them Cold Weather Flying to allow them to fly in Northrend. If you do not have an 80 on that server, then you’re screwed out of flying until level 77. Why? Because Blizzard said so, that’s why.

My first Mage made it to level 74 as Frost before I switched him over to Fire to level to 80. My most recent mage made it to 66 before I decided to try out Arcane for the first time and I never bothered looking back to Frost until it came time to make a PvP dual spec.

Important Spells
General Spells
Invisibility: Become invisible over 3 seconds, reducing threat each second; effect is cancelled by taking any* action, or after 20 seconds.
Ritual of Refreshment: Perform a ritual to summon a table. Requires 2 additional party/raid members and summons 50 stacks of Conjured Mana Biscuits.
Spellsteal: Steal a beneficial magic effect from the target, lasting a maximum of 2 minutes.
Teleport: Dalaran: Congratulations, you can now set your hearthstone wherever you want to and still be able to hit Dal at any time.
Portal: Dalaran: More grats, now you can actually make gold selling portals again!
Mirror Image: Creates three copies of the caster nearby, which cast spells and attack the mage’s enemies for 30 seconds.

Invisibility is your agro dump. If you cast it then your threat gets dumped over the 3 seconds it takes you to fade to invisibility. If you happen to be an Arcane Mage then you can make this an instant cast spell so that your threat is instantly gone. When you turn invisible all of your threat goes away. It also works fine as an Oh Crap! button as well, which is what you’ll use it for while questing, but it’s best use is as an agro dump.

The Ritual is what’s referred to as a “Mage Table” or just “Table” in case you find people asking you for one. There are 50 stacks available for people to take, but each character can only hold 4 stacks, and most players don’t bother taking more than one, so a single table will generally last all players through an entire raid.

Spellsteal, while great for PvP, has a lot of different uses. Now is when you really want to start paying attention to the buffs that are on the mobs you’re facing, both in solo questing and in running through dungeons/heroics/raids. There’s nothing like stealing a haste buff off of a mob and finding your 3 second cast now fires off in 1.2 seconds or using a single spell to snag +350 Spellpower and 50% Haste. You’ll also find mobs that have something like “Heals the caster for 30% of the damage they deal” which you want to steal just to prevent the mobs from healing, or other buffs that provide no value to you but that you need to remove.

The Teleport/Portal: Dalaran are pretty self explanatory. If you don’t know by now what they do then you’ve clearly purchased your account on eBay…

Mirror Image is an excellent spell for increasing your DPS, even if they do cast nothing but Frostbolt. With the set bonus from Tier gear this is a huge bonus to your DPS. You’ll probably use it more in dungeons and raids than anything else since you don’t get it until level 80 anyway, but it’s great for casting while questing, farming, or whatever.

Frost Spells
Frostfire Bolt: Launches a bolt of frostfire at the enemy, dealing Frostfire damage, slowing movement by 40% and causing additional Frostfire damage over time.

That’s right, I’m listing a “Fire” spell in the Frost section. Why? Because Arcane doesn’t give a crap about this spell, and while Frost didn’t care about it before it’s a bit more important to them now that their Brain Freeze talent allows it to be made instant cast and mana free when it procs. The good thing about FFB is that “Frostfire” damage counts and either Frost or Fire damage, whichever your target has the least resistance to. So if you’re fighting something that’s immune to Frost spells it will deal Fire damage instead. If it’s immune to both, then…why aren’t you running away?

Playing as Frost
There’s no reason to bother mentioning rotations here, you know that as a Frost Mage you’re going to Frostbolt the holy, ever-loving crap out of everything, and if you need to you’ll finish it off with Fire Blast, Cone of Cold, or Ice Lance. If you used the Glyph of I Wanna Be a Warlock (wuss) then you also have the option of just letting your pet finish them off.

Frost isn’t hard to play, it’s simple and it’s safe. You’ve got the best survivability and crowd control available to any spell caster in the game, and you’re a crit-tossing fool too. The same basic principles apply at this level that we’ve been seeing all along, keep yourself away from the mobs, keep the mobs slowed down so they can’t close the distance, AoE everything you can, spam Frostbolts like they’re going out of style (they’ve been out of style for a long time, but they still hurt so we’re good), and take advantage of any opportunity to freeze and then crit the mobs that you’re facing.

And when all else fails, Frost Nova, Blink away, and then run like the a pansy until you’re out of combat.

Playing as Arcane
Arcane Option 1: Arcane Blast, Slow, Arcane Missile, Arcane Barrage, (Fire Blast)
Arcane Option 2: Frostbolt or Slow, Arcane Blast x2, Arcane Barrage, (Fire Blast)

I’m going to leave these rotations up here in Arcane since I’ve only mentioned them to you one other time. This rotation doesn’t change from 64 up through 80 for leveling purposes except that you’ll eventually just drop all the slowing business for the sake of killing things faster. Taking the safe road is what Frost excels at; killing things before it matters is what Arcane is there for.

The two rotations listed up top there are for your solo questing. If you’re in a dungeon and you have a tank that’s going to hold agro for you then you can drop the silly business and move into what is going to be your true rotation for heroics and raiding at level 80:

Arcane Dungeon Rotation: Arcane Blast x4, Arcane Missile

There you go, you end up mashing two buttons for the rest of your life as Arcane.

Now, if you don’t have a Missile Barrage proc after the fourth Arcane Blast then go ahead and cast a fifth. If you did get a proc during or after the four casts, then go ahead and fire it off. My personal preference is to cast AM after no more than the 5th AB regardless of whether or not I get a proc from it. The reasons for that are mana conservation, since AB increases mana costs, and sustained DPS. It’s better to spend more mana on an AM cast without a MB proc than it is to keep on casting AB repeatedly.

If you get a Missile Barrage proc before you’ve built a full stack of 4 from AB, then hold off on casting AM until you have the four stack unless you’re either going to lose the stack of AB that you have already or your MB proc is about to wear off. Otherwise just hold off and make the most of what you’re given. If you read raiding forums and sites you might find people telling you to fire it off at 3 stacks or to fire it whenever it procs regardless of stacks, and so on, but I’ve tested it out with every configuration I’ve been able to and I always find more consistent DPS when I stick to four stacks, bar none.

Leveling in Northrend
The first decision you need to make when you move on to Northrend is which zone you want to level in. You basically have two choices if you go right at level 68: Borean Tundra and Howling Fjord.

If you look at the quest rewards for each you’ll see that BT has about 15x the number of Blue quality items as quest rewards than HF. For that reason, I personally prefer BT for my first zone. But, I’m a min/max styled player and I want the best that’s available to me. My personal opinion of the two zones is that HF is the more enjoyable zone to level in. Of the few blues that HF does offer as quest rewards, there are some nice caster trinkets you may want to pick up where BT blues are mostly armor and weapons.

If you want enjoyable, go with Howling Fjord. If you want good quest rewards, then go to Borean Tundra. Either way, it’s merely a suggestion on my part so do whatever you want.

General Tactics
Frost
AoE grinding is still your fastest, most efficient method of leveling, but it’s a bit harder when you first step into the frozen lands of Northrend. For that reason I suggest you start off with single target combat until you’ve gotten a feel for the mobs and hopefully a few item upgrades as well, and then move into AoE mode once you’re comfortable.

Other than that it’s simply business as usual.

Arcane
Arcane is all about burning down single targets. When you first reach Northrend you’ll want to use a slowing spell first and then DPS the targets down, and make use of your CC spells such as Polymorph if you happen to pull multiple mobs. After you’re more comfortable with your spec and facing the mobs that are there you’ll eventually move away from using a slow in favor of quicker kills. You’ll get to the point where your health just doesn’t matter anymore so taking a hit here and there is just part of the job.

Arcane is the most mobile Mage spec because it has more potential for significant, instant-cast damage. Arcane Barrage (ABarr) isn’t the hardest hitting spell out there, but it sure trumps Ice Lance. ABarr also has the chance to proc your Missile Barrage (MB) talent that makes your Arcane Missiles super-speedy missiles of doom, so you can stop to fire off the MB to get whatever casts you have time for out of it and then get back to moving if necessary. It won’t happen often, but at least the option is there for you where it’s not for others.

Talent Points and Glyphs

Frost Spec

Brain Freeze 3/3: Your Frost damage spells with chilling effects have a 15% chance to cause your next Fireball or Frostfire Bolt spell to be instant cast and cost no mana.
Incineration 3/3: Increases the critical strike chance of your Fire Blast, Scorch, Arcane Blast and Cone of Cold spells by 6%.
World In Flames 3/3: Increases the critical strike chance of your Flamestrike, Pyroblast, Blast Wave, Dragon’s Breath, Living Bomb, Blizzard and Arcane Explosion spells by 6%.
Frost Warding 2/2: Increases the armor and resistances given by your Frost Armor and Ice Armor spells by 50% and gives your Frost Ward and Fire Ward a 30% chance to negate the warded damage spell and restore mana equal to the damage caused.

Brain Freeze we’re taking for more instant casting goodness. It’s not a huge benefit to us, but it allows us to be a bit more mobile and FFB/FB will generally hit harder than your Frostbolt, especially if it crits. Incineration we’re taking to increase the crit chance of Cone of Cold, but also to allow us to move deeper into the Fire tree.

World in Flames is all about increasing our AoE DPS against trash packs or while grind-questing by increasing our chance to crit with Blizzard. The two points in Frost Warding can be moved if you want, but with Frost damage being present in Northrend dungeons and raids it’s what I’d suggest.

Special Note
This is the talent build I prefer when leveling as Frost because of my focus on AoE grinding. If you are going for a Frost Raiding spec, then you’ll need to do a respec to change up a lot of what we’ve done in Frost up to this point because Frost was not viable as a Raid spec when I started writing these guides. If you do want to raid as Frost, then I will refer you to the masters of such: SpicyTunas and Frost is the New Black.

Arcane Spec

Frost Warding 2/2: Increases the armor and resistances given by your Frost Armor and Ice Armor spells by 50% and gives your Frost Ward and Fire Ward a 30% chance to negate the warded damage spell and restore mana equal to the damage caused.
Icy Veins 1/1: [Instant Cast] Hastens your spellcasting, increasing spell casting speed by 20% and reduces the pushback suffered from damaging attacks while casting by 100% for 20 seconds.
Incineration 3/3: Increases the critical strike chance of your Fire Blast, Scorch, Arcane Blast and Cone of Cold spells by 6%.
Mind Mastery +2 (5/5): Increases spell power by 15% of your total Intellect.
Prismatic Cloak 3/3: Reduces all damage taken by 6% and reduces the fade tie of your Invisibility spell by 3 seconds.
Arcane Meditation 1/3: Allows 17% of your mana regeneration to continue while casting.

The points Frost Warding can be moved if you want to, but be sure they stay in the Frost tree so that we can get Icy Veins which is a huge boost to our DPS by cutting the cast time of Arcane Blast and reducing the channel time of Missile Barrage. IV is brutal, trust me.

Incineration is more important to Arcane than it is to the Frost build up there because it increases the crit chance of our main nuke, Arcane Blast. Mind Mastery is just finishing of the talent for the extra spell power which we can never get enough of. You can stop stacking spell power when you can one-shot Arthas on 25-man with an Ice Lance.

Prismatic Cloak is somewhat optional, but making Invisibility instant instead of fading over 3 seconds is a huge benefit in my opinion. It’s great for PvE as well as PvP, and reduced damage on top of it just makes it that much sweeter for me. Arcane Meditation is completely interchangeable if you’re not a fan. I personally use 3/3 Arcane Meditation and only 1/3 Student of the Mind which I have reversed in this guide. As for which is actually better, I haven’t decided yet.

Glyphs for Leveling
Major Glyphs: Frost
Evocation: Your Evocation ability also causes you to regain 60% of your health over its duration.
Ice Block: Your Frost Nova cooldown is now reset every time you use Ice Block.
Ice Barrier: Increases the amount of damage absorbed by your Ice Barrier by 30%.
Water Elemental: Reduces the cooldown of your Summon Water Elemental spell by 30 seconds.
Eternal Water: Your Summon Water Elemental now lasts indefinitely, but your Water Elemental can no longer cast Freeze.
Molten Armor: Your Molten Armor grants an additional 20% of your spirit as critical strike rating.

The Glyph of Evocation is invaluable if you are soloing. You can get by without it, but it goes a long way towards reducing your down time to have it.

If you are going to do a lot of AoE grinding, then I suggest you go for Evocation and Ice Block as those will be the most helpful to you at this point.

If you want to do more leveling via dungeon runs, then I suggest you go for Eternal Water and Frostbolt instead, as they will provide you with the largest boost to your DPS. Eternal Water removes one of your best AoE grinding tools, but you can deal with that if you need to. You may also want to swap Frostbolt for Ice Barrier if you plan to solo quest as well as run dungeons to give you more survivability.

If you want to increase your DPS you may also consider Molten Armor at level 62 for increased Crit Rate, though you’ll probably get more use out of that at higher levels than you will right now.

Major Glyphs: Arcane
Arcane Blast: Increases the damage from your Arcane Blast buff by 3%. (Requires Level 64)
Arcane Missiles: Increases the critical strike damage bonus of Arcane Missiles by 25%.
Mana Gem: Increases the mana received from using a mana gem by 40%.
Molten Armor: Your Molten Armor grants an additional 20% of your spirit as critical strike rating.

Arcane Blast being your primary nuke and a buff to other Arcane spells, having another 3% damage from the buff can add up real quick. You’ll use it at 80 if you stay Arcane, so you might as well get it now.

Arcane Missiles is your second most common nuke spell, and considering the high crit rate that Mages generally have, an extra 25% damage when it happens is great. This is another one you’ll use at 80, so grab it now.

Mana Gem I list specifically for leveling purposes, because it is amazing for restoring your mana and thus reducing your downtime. I suggest you pair it up with Arcane Blast if you do take it.

Molten Armor is the third glyph you’ll be toting around at level 80, and another worth considering now. Additional crit is never a bad thing. I usually save this one for my level 80 slot, but go with whatever works best for you.

Minor Glyphs: All Mages
Slow Fall: Your Slow Fall spell no longer requires a reagent.
Frost Ward: You have an additional 5% chance to reflect Frost spells while your Frost Ward is active.
Fire Ward: You have an additional 5% chance to reflect Fire spells while your Fire Ward is active.

Mages have crap for minor glyph selection (I know, “Who doesn’t?” right?), so the only one I really care for is going to be Slow Fall. Get that one for your first slot at 15 and then fill in the others as they open up with whatever you fill like sticking in there.

Gearing Up for Spellcasting
We’re finally going to change up our gearing priority a bit, but only once we hit level 80.

Prior to 80: Spell Power and Intellect > All, with Hit, Crit, and Stam being next up on the usefulness list.

Level 80: Hit (until capped) > Spell Power > Haste = Crit > Intellect > Spirit > everything else

The higher you get the more important Hit becomes, but once you start reaching the cap it’s useless. Arcane needs less hit than any other spec since they get 3% from both the Arcane tree and the Frost tree, so once you hit 80 and start getting badge gear in particular you’ll generally be overflowing with Hit before you know it. I was over twice as much Hit as I needed for a long time after I hit 80.

If you’re getting into raiding then you need to give Haste some love until you start getting to the haste cap and then focus more on crit. As long as your primary nukes aren’t being cast in under a second then you’ve got room for more Haste.

 
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Posted by on April 22, 2010 in Guide, Leveling, Mage

 

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Mage Leveling Part IV: 58-68 (Frost & Arcane)

Part I: Beginning
Part II: 21 – 39
Part III: 40 – 58
AoE Grinding: Frost Mage Edition

Once you hit level 58 it’s time for you to make your way on over to the Outlands. The easiest route is to head to any major city of your faction and head towards the Portal Trainer. There you will fine a portal to the Blasted Lands (which only a level 58+ can activate) which takes you right outside of the Dark Portal that leads you to the Outlands.

You will still have excellent opportunities to put your AoE grinding skills to use in Outlands, and in some cases even more so than you did back in vanilla content (I’m looking at you, buzzards). You’ll also notice that when they tell you it’s a group quest now, they actually mean it. If you were able to wear plate then you might be able to ignore that little warning, but since you don’t, you can’t. If it’s a group quest, and not not PvP related, then you can pretty well rest assure that you aren’t going to solo it. At least not on level. If you would like to prove me wrong on that point, then by all means do it. Just be sure to take a screen shot if you want me to believe it. ;)

Important Spells
General Spells
Teleport: Shattrath at level 60 lets us port ourselves to Shat, which makes traveling quite a bit easier, and helps to solidify our ability to set our Hearthstone in whatever zone we’re questing in, knowing that we can now teleport ourselves to any city we want (except Dalaran) with our spells rather than our hearth. We also get the portal version, Portal: Shattrath at level 65 so that we can teleport our party members as well.

Molten Armor at level 62 provides us with the Armor spell that we will use for most of the rest of the game. It gives us a bonus to Crit Rate equal to 35% of our Spirit as well as reducing the chance that we will be critically hit ourselves by 5%. It also deals Fire damage to enemies that hit us which is a nice little bonus even if it’s not very much.

Invisibility in all its greatness shows up at level 68, allowing us to become invisible for 20 seconds so long as we don’t take any actions (with a few exceptions which note such, like Herbalism’s Lifeblood spell). It also has a wonderful little feature that removes all of our agro when we use it. So if you find yourself in a dungeon and you just pulled off of the tank, or you find that you’re getting close to doing so, use this and then cancel it off of yourself and get back into the action without having to worry about your threat.

Frost Spells
Ice Lance shows up at level 66 giving Frost an instant cast at long last that has a small mana cost and similarly small damage, unless the target is frozen in which case its damage is tripled (quadrupled if you have the glyph).

Arcane Spells
Arcane Blast finally shows its face at level 64, making the Arcane spec viable and able to stand on its own Arcane legs rather than relying so heavily on other spell types. It is the key and primary nuke of an Arcane Mage.

Frost Rotations
Frost Option 1: Frostbolt, Frostbolt, Frostbolt, Fire Blast
Frost Option 2: Frostbolt, Frostbolt, Frostbolt, Fire Blast – [Ice Lance x2 when Frozen]

There’s that same old rotation for Frost that we’ve been using for next to forever. You’re the king of spamming a single button, and that’s all there is to it. Sure we’ve got Fire Blast to finish of the mobs which is likely a separate button, and if we take Brain Freeze then we’ll have a third for the instant-cast Fireballs, but otherwise you pretty well eat, sleep, and breathe Frostbolt spam.

If you want to change things up just a little bit then you can switch over to using Ice Lance whenever an enemy is frozen, or when you use your level 60 talent, Deep Freeze. Ice Lance is an instant cast that does 300% damage if the target is frozen, so if you get Frostbite to proc you can usually get 2 casts in there, Deep Freeze allows 3 casts during its duration (or 4 if you have a healthy amount of haste, which you probably do not), and Frost Nova will allow 1-2 depending on whether or not it crits since FN is broken based on damage where the others are not.

If you do get into the habit of using Ice Lance, just be sure not to cancel a Frostbolt cast in order to use it or else you’re losing DPS. Send the bolt, and then follow it up immediately with an Ice Lance instead. If you aren’t already queuing up your spells, or don’t know how to, then it’s time to learn that. I may need to include a video about queuing up your spells to show you how to do it in case you don’t already know. If you’re doing it right, then your Frostbolt and Ice Lance will basically hit the target at almost the exact same time. If FB hits and then the IL launches, then you know you’re actually wasting time and losing DPS.

Queuing Up Your Spells: Chain Casting

Alright, first thing’s first – go download the Quartz addon (link to Curse.com). Doing so will give you a movable cast bar that will also display the latency on the server to you so that you know when your spell “should” actually happen as opposed to when your interface thinks that it will happen.

The Red part on there is the server latency. The Yellow strip in the bar is where your spell is actually going to cast. The Blue part is the progression of the spell you are casting and it will continue to move right until it hits the Yellow strip for the actual cast. The Grey portion is just the background of the bar, showing the portion of time you have remaining before the actual cast.

Now, the “SWEET SPOT” is where you can activate your next spell and put it in the queue. Even though just looking at the bar you would think you can’t cast anything yet because you aren’t finished with the current spell, the game actually lets you put your next spell in queue so that you start casting the next one immediately. Now, the Sweet Spot covers a range because it’s actually a little bit different for everyone and other things in the game that you can’t see can impact how large or small that section is as well. Generally it’s at about 85-90% of the current bar reaching hitting the left side of the latency area.

If you aren’t used to queuing your spells then I suggest you go find yourself a training dummy and start practicing to get the hang of it. The longer you practice it the more you’ll grow used to the look and “feel” of your casting that you’ll know when you hit the Sweet Spot and when you didn’t, but hitting it before the cast goes off is the key to maximizing your DPS through your interface alone.

Now, on to Arcane.

Arcane Rotations
Arcane Option 1: Arcane Blast, Slow, Arcane Missile, Arcane Barrage, (Fire Blast)
Arcane Option 2: Frostbolt or Slow, Arcane Blast, Arcane Missile, Arcane Barrage, (Fire Blast)
Arcane Option 3: Frostbolt or Slow, Arcane Blast x2, Arcane Barrage, (Fire Blast)

Requires Level 64: Why? Because you don’t get Arcane Blast until level 64, that’s why. Until then I don’t care how much you want to call yourself an Arcane Mage, you’re not. You’ve got two spells up to that point – Arcane Missiles and Arcane Explosion. Two spells does not an Arcane Mage make you. But three? Now that is a different story.

Don’t bother with Arcane until 64. You can do it, it’s possible, but you’re unnecessarily taking the hard road to get there. Level as Frost, and then if you want to switch to Arcane do so at level 64 or higher, though preferably not 80.

The (Fire Blast) on the end there is just to finish off any mobs that might still be up. They should be dead before then, but just in case they aren’t.

As far as spamming the same buttons goes, Arcane isn’t much better off than Frost is to be quite honest. The big difference is that you’re going to be killing things on a mostly individual basis rather than using AoE. The key to doing this effectively while also maintaining survivability, without that fancy Frost Barrier you’ve likely gotten used to, is keeping your targets slowed so that they never reach you in the first place.

Slowing targets also gives you the added benefit of increasing the damage of all of your primary Arcane damage spells spells by 12% because of your Torment the Weak talent. I found the Slow spell to be incredibly valuable while leveling because it’s an instant cast and it slows for 60% where Frostbolt is only 40%, and it also slow attack and casting speed as well.

Arcane burns through a lot of mana, not necessarily because the spells have a high cost, but because the spell you’re spamming, Arcane Blast, increases the mana cost of every spell that comes after it until you use the stacking buff that it gives you. I’ll talk about the specifics of using the spell in the Tactics section. Because of this you will want to make use of your Mana Gems as well as your Evocation spell. Another good thing about Arcane is that the talent points I have you take for it will reduce the cooldown of Evocation from 4 minutes down to only 2, so you will almost never run out of mana without being able to get it back quickly.

Leveling in Outlands
The first thing you’ll notice about leveling in Outlands is that mobs have a little bit more health than what you’ve been used to fighting in Azeroth. Not so much more that it really matters, but you’ll notice it. So if you’ve been comfortable enough with your class to know that “this” combination of 3-4 spells kills any mob you face, then you might get bumped out of your comfort bubble…at least until you level a time or two.

There are a lot of gear upgrades for you in Outlands, and a mage can replace a decent amount of gear in Hellfire Peninsula alone.

General Tactics
Frost
I still suggest that you AoE grind everything you can for questing and if you’re running instances where your tank generates some decent AoE threat then focus almost entirely on Blizzard for that as well.

Just keep in mind while grouping, that not all tanks are considered equals when it comes to AoE on trash. Give your tanks a few seconds to establish AoE threat before you start using AoE yourself. Until then just cast single target spells on the tank’s target. Always keep an eye on your threat.

Arcane
As for Arcane, you’re not going to worry too much about AoE, instead you’ll be focusing on burning down single targets in the blink of an eye. I switched to Arcane at level 66 on my current Mage, Belsynis, and I went from doing 600 DPS with Frost to 1500 DPS with Arcane with nothing but a respec. You might not be the King of AoE anymore, but you can definitely lay the smack down when it comes time to kill the bosses.

Arcane is going to survive by slowing down its targets, and then firing beautiful beams of Arcane ownage through their target’s face. Slowing opponents gives you a boost to your damage, so use whatever means of slowing you have available. I personally prefer the Slow spell from the Arcane tree, but others prefer pulling with a Frostbolt for the damage as well as the slowing effect. Do whatever suits you better.

The key to max DPS with Arcane is to build up your four stacks of Arcane Blast and then fire off a Missile Barrage proc to send your Arcane Missiles out at super speed. If you don’t get a Missile Barrage proc in the four casts you have two options. You can either cast ABlast again hoping for the proc, or you can cast another Arcane damaging spell to remove the stack and start over so that you can conserve your mana. It’s also acceptable during leveling to fire off Missile Barrage procs at less than four stacks, but hopefully you have 3-4 ready when the proc happens.

I prefer to go with a fifth ABlast before giving up on the proc at which time I will cast Arcane Barrage if I am solo questing, or Arcane Missiles if I am in a dungeon. The damage bonus from the Arcane Blast buff applies to the full spell you discharge the stack with, so if you use Arcane Missiles then the damage buff hits all of the missiles, not just the first one.

Macro Suggestions
As for macros, I only have one to suggest at this point.

#showtooltip
/cancelaura Invisibility
/cast Invisibility

This macro will cancel Invisibility if you already have it on, or it will cast it for you if you do not. You may also want to macro the “/cancelaura Invisibility” portion to other spells to make it easier on you. You don’t necessarily need this macro, it just comes in handy. I used it on my first 80 Mage, but I haven’t bothered with my new 80. It’s up to you whether you use it or not, my play style just doesn’t call for it so I don’t use it anymore.

Addon Suggestions
For Frost I suggest you grab the ShieldMonitor addon (link to wowinterface.com) so that you can keep track of your Ice Barrier’s remaining strength.

I also recommend the MageAlert addon (link to Curse.com) for audio queues that your procs are active. It will help with any mage spec you decide to go with. I have used this addon since I rolled my first Mage back in 2008 and it has served me very well the entire time.

And finally I suggest you grab TidyPlates and its companion addon ThreatPlates to visibly monitor your agro on all of the mobs in the area. When you’re using AoE spells it’s hard to know which mobs are getting close to coming after you rather than the tank, so these are a huge benefit and I really wish I would have had them while I was leveling.

Talent Points and Glyphs

Frost Spec

Here we’re building onto the talent tree we already established in Part III.

Chilled to the Bone +1, 4/5: Increases the damage caused by your Frostbolt, Frostfire Bolt and Ice Lance spells by 4% and reduces the movement speed of all chilled targets by an additional 8%.
Deep Freeze 1/1: [Instant Cast] Stuns the target for 5 seconds. Only usable on Frozen Targets. Deals damage to targets permanently immune to stuns.
Chilled to the Bone +1, 5/5: Increases the damage caused by your Frostbolt, Frostfire Bolt and Ice Lance spells by 5% and reduces the movement speed of all chilled targets by an additional 10%.
Precision +1, 3/3: Reduces the mana cost and increases your chance to hit with spells by 3%.
Improved Frostbolt 5/5: Reduces the casting time of your Frostbolt spell by 0.5 seconds.
Improved Fire Blast 2/2: Reduces the cooldown of your Fire Blast spell by 2 seconds.

We finish of Chilled to the Bone and Precision for their full effects. Deep Freeze is great for questing and killing single mobs, and it’s now also very good for fighting bosses since it damages targets that can no longer be stunned. I have not tried it out myself since I haven’t switch over to a Frost Raid spec myself, but I do plan on trying it out soon so I can come back and report on it later. We also finally get around to taking Improved Frostbolt since a lot of times we do get forced into fighting single targets and it’s better to get them down quickly.

I move us then into the Fire tree for Improved Fire Blast to reduce its cooldown and help us maintain our DPS a bit better for fights that require us to move a lot. The point of going into Fire is to get World in Flames here in a few more levels so that we can get an extra 6% Crit Chance on our Blizzard spells for grinding. Fire doesn’t really offer us much beyond that, which is why we’ll duck back into Frost afterwards, but again this is when you have AoE grinding in mind, or when you’re going to run a lot of dungeons that will make use of your AoE strengths. If you’re looking for better performance for end game, you’ll most likely be branching off into the Arcane tree instead of Fire.

Special Note
This is the talent build I prefer when leveling as Frost because of my focus on AoE grinding. If you are going for a Frost Raiding spec, then you’ll need to do a respec to change up a lot of what we’ve done in Frost up to this point because Frost was not viable as a Raid spec when I started writing these guides. If you do want to raid as Frost, then I will refer you to the masters of such: SpicyTunas and Frost is the New Black.

Arcane Spec

Arcane Focus 3/3: Increases your chance to hit and reduces the mana cost of your Arcane spells by 3%.
Arcane Subtlety 2/2: Reduces the chance your helpful spells and damage over time effects will be dispelled by 30% and reduces the threat caused by your Arcane spells by 40%.
Arcane Concentration 5/5: Gives you a 10% chance of entering a Clearcasting state after any damage spell hits a target. The Clearcasting state reduces the mana cost of your next damage spell by 100%.
Spell Impact 3/3: Increases the damage of your Arcane Explosion, Arcane Blast, Blast Wave, Fire Blast, Scorch, Fireball, Ice Lance and Cone of Cold spells by an additional 6%.
Focus Magic 1/1: [Instant Cast] Increases the target’s chance to critically hit with spells by 3%. When the target critically hits your critical hit chance with spells is increased by 3% for 10 seconds. Cannot be cast on self.
Student of the Mind 1/3: Increases your total Spirit by 4%.
Torment the Weak 3/3: Your Frostbolt, Fireball, Frostfire Bolt, Arcane Missiles, Arcane Blast, and Arcane Barrage abilities deal 12% more damage to snared or slowed targets.
Student of the Mind +2, 3/3: Increases your total Spirit by 12%.
Presence of Mind 1/1: [Instant Cast] When activated, your next Mage spell with a casting time less than 10 seconds becomes an instant cast spell.
Arcane Mind 4/5: Increases your total Intellect by 12%.
Arcane Instability 3/3: Increases the damage done by your spells and your critical strike chance by 3%.
Arcane Potency 2/2: Increases the critical strike chance of your next damaging spell by 30% after gaining Clearcasting or Presence of Mind.
Arcane Power 1/1: [Instant Cast] When activated, your spells deal 20% more damage hwile costing 20% more mana to cast. This effect lasts 15 seconds.
Arcane Empowerment 3/3: Increases the damage of your Arcane Missiles spell by an amount equal to 45% of your spell power and the damage of your Arcane Blast by 9% of your spell power. In addition, when you score a critical hit with Arcane Missiles, Arcane Explosion, Arcane Blast, or Arcane Barrage all party and raid members have all damage increased by 3% for 10 seconds.
Arcane Mind +1, 5/5: Increases your total Intellect by 15%.
Arcane Flows 2/2: Reduces the cooldown of your Presence of Mind, Arcane Power, and Invisibility spells by 30% and the cooldown of your Evocation spell by 2 minutes.
Mind Master 3/5: Increases spell power by 9% of your total Intellect.
Missile Barrage 5/5: Gives your Arcane Blast a 40% chance, and your Arcane Barrage, Fireball, Frostbolt, and Frostfire Bolt spells a 20% chance to reduce the channeled duration of the next Arcane Missiles spell by 2.5 seconds, reduce the mana cost by 100%, and missiles will fire ever 0.5 seconds.
Netherwind Presence 3/3: Increases your spell haste by 6%.
Spell Power 2/2: Increases critical strike damage bonus of all spells by 50%.
Arcane Barrage 1/1: [Instant Cast] Launches several Missiles at the enemy target, causing 936 to 1144 Arcane damage.
Ice Floes 3/3: Reduces the cooldown of your Frost NOva, Cone of Cold, Ice Block, and Icy Veins spells by 20%.
Frostbite 2/3: Gives your Chill effects a 10% chance to freeze the target for 5 seconds.
Precision 3/3: Reduces the mana cost and increases your chance to hit with spells by 3%.

You’ll see that a large portion of the Arcane tree is designed around increasing damage or crit rating, either directly or by increasing stats such as Intellect and Spirit which provide those bonuses as well.

We move into the Frost tree after level 60 for some key talents there. Frostbite doesn’t help us a whole lot, but since we do occasionally drop into Blizzard mode when running instances it’s better than Improved Frostbolt which we’ll never cast except to pull, and even then only while we’re leveling. Ice Floes on the other hand reduces the cooldown on some of our defensive spells (Frost Nova and Ice Block) and especially Icy Veins which is the whole reason we’re going into Frost to begin with, even if we don’t have it just yet. Precision provides us with an additional 3% Hit Rating which stacks wit

Special Notes
If you’re leveling Arcane from the beginning rather than switch to it at level 64 as I suggest, then you want take Arcane Stability 5/5 rather than Arcane Focus and Arcane Subtlety so that you don’t have any pushback on your Arcane Missiles, which is your only real source of Arcane damage up to that point other than Arcane Explosion.

You may also wish to replace the two additional points in Student of the Mind with two points in Improved Counterspell instead, to provide a 4 second silence on your targets. It may be more geared towards PvP, but it also has its uses in Heroics and Raids as well.

Glyphs for Leveling
Major Glyphs: Frost
Evocation: Your Evocation ability also causes you to regain 60% of your health over its duration.
Ice Block: Your Frost Nova cooldown is now reset every time you use Ice Block.
Ice Barrier: Increases the amount of damage absorbed by your Ice Barrier by 30%.
Water Elemental: Reduces the cooldown of your Summon Water Elemental spell by 30 seconds.
Eternal Water: Your Summon Water Elemental now lasts indefinitely, but your Water Elemental can no longer cast Freeze.
Molten Armor: Your Molten Armor grants an additional 20% of your spirit as critical strike rating.

The Glyph of Evocation is invaluable if you are soloing. You can get by without it, but it goes a long way towards reducing your down time to have it.

If you are going to do a lot of AoE grinding, then I suggest you go for Evocation and Ice Block as those will be the most helpful to you at this point.

If you want to do more leveling via dungeon runs, then I suggest you go for Eternal Water and Frostbolt instead, as they will provide you with the largest boost to your DPS. Eternal Water removes one of your best AoE grinding tools, but you can deal with that if you need to. You may also want to swap Frostbolt for Ice Barrier if you plan to solo quest as well as run dungeons to give you more survivability.

If you want to increase your DPS you may also consider Molten Armor at level 62 for increased Crit Rate, though you’ll probably get more use out of that at higher levels than you will right now.

Major Glyphs: Arcane
Arcane Blast: Increases the damage from your Arcane Blast buff by 3%. (Requires Level 64)
Arcane Missiles: Increases the critical strike damage bonus of Arcane Missiles by 25%.
Mana Gem: Increases the mana received from using a mana gem by 40%.
Molten Armor: Your Molten Armor grants an additional 20% of your spirit as critical strike rating.

Arcane Blast being your primary nuke and a buff to other Arcane spells, having another 3% damage from the buff can add up real quick. You’ll use it at 80 if you stay Arcane, so you might as well get it now.

Arcane Missiles is your second most common nuke spell, and considering the high crit rate that Mages generally have, an extra 25% damage when it happens is great. This is another one you’ll use at 80, so grab it now.

Mana Gem I list specifically for leveling purposes, because it is amazing for restoring your mana and thus reducing your downtime. I suggest you pair it up with Arcane Blast if you do take it.

Molten Armor is the third glyph you’ll be toting around at level 80, and another worth considering now. Additional crit is never a bad thing. I usually save this one for my level 80 slot, but go with whatever works best for you.

Minor Glyphs: All Mages
Slow Fall: Your Slow Fall spell no longer requires a reagent.
Frost Ward: You have an additional 5% chance to reflect Frost spells while your Frost Ward is active.
Fire Ward: You have an additional 5% chance to reflect Fire spells while your Fire Ward is active.

Mages have crap for minor glyph selection, so the only one I really care for is going to be Slow Fall. Get that one for your first slot at 15 and then fill in the others as they open up with whatever you fill like sticking in there.

I had some other glyphs listed here in the previous articles, but now that you’re getting ready to push on into Northrend I’m not going to bother with fluff that provides no real value, so these are the only Minor Glyphs I suggest as they’ll likely be what you use at 80. You’ll use Frost Ward in ICC for instance, and Fire Ward comes up in Ulduar a time or two, but at least they provide some lasting value at times where others generally do not.

Gearing Up for Spellcasting
Nothing new here at all. Spell Power and Intellect > All, with Hit, Crit, and Stam being next up on the usefulness list.

There are some specific quests I suggest doing for gear upgrades, and several of those are found in Hellfire Peninsula. You can replace most of your armor as well as your staff in Hellfire alone, and for this reason I suggest you go ahead and do almost every quest in the zone, at least until you get the achievement for questing. Overlord/Cruel’s Intention and Blacktalon are two of the key quests you want to be sure you complete.

For Nagrand I strongly suggest you get a group together or call on your guild mates to help you out with the Ring of Blood chain for another great staff upgrade. If you’re using a BoA Staff then you won’t need to upgrade it of course, but it’s still a great source of both experience and gold for doing the quest chain, and you can sell the weapon from the final reward if you want to as well.

Suggested Instances
Once you hit level 60 I suggest you run every instance you get the chance to in Outlands. Put yourself in the queue and then get right to questing. When the queue pops go run the dungeon and then put yourself right back into the queue and quest while you wait for the next one to pop. Do that over and over and you’ll find yourself hitting 68 in no time and likely a decent set of starting gear as you prepare to head into Northrend as well.

If you have rested experience then dungeons is the best way to burn through it and do so quickly. Not only will you get the rested bonus, you’ll also get the group bonus for doing it with a full group. That’s enhanced even further of course if you happen to be wearing the heirloom chest (+10% exp), shoulders (+10% exp), and/or ring (+5% exp).

 
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Posted by on March 12, 2010 in Class, Guide, Leveling, Mage

 

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Mage Leveling Part III: 40-58

Part I: Beginning
Part II: 21 – 39
AoE Grinding: Frost Mage Edition

Level 40 is where you get your first big break because you finally get your frosty bubble, Ice Barrier. During the course of the 18 levels I’m covering in this post you will also end up with all of your Portal spells to get you to the various capitol cities for your faction as well meaning that you are able to get yourself and your part all over the world in a must faster and easier way than before, and it may even open up some opportunities for you to sell your ports and make some gold if your server if friendly to such.

Since you now have access to Ice Barrier it’s time to turn your AoE dreams into something even bigger than you had imagined. You’ll also be able to do a lot more AoE grinding for the sake of serious experience gain now where before it was more useful in speeding up your quests. It still works great for that as well, but you can now start facing more opponents at once which will become more and more profitable as you go on.

Leveling areas still aren’t very imporant to you, but again it’s always going to be better for you to level in places filled with melee mobs than ones filled with casters and other ranged attackers. To give you some bit of direction, Tanaris offers great grinding opportunities with the pirates on the east coast as well as the local instance of Zul’Farrak. If you aren’t quite ready to take on some of those mobs, then I would personally recommend you go grind some of the mobs in Arathi Highlands if you want to grind. Otherwise, just quest wherever you find level appropriate quests.

Important Spells

Levels 40-49

There isn’t much in the way of new spells that you’ll gain in your 40’s, most of it is just going to be higher ranks of what you already have. Frost Nova, Ice Armor, Conjure Food/Water, Arcane Intellect, Cone of Cold, Blizzard, Frostbolt, Ice Barrier, and Conjure Mana Gem all receive a new rank which will be helpful for you.

Portals: Exo/IF/SW or Org/SMC/UC (level 40) Here you get your first set of portals to your faction’s major cities. They pop up in the same order that the teleport spells did with the druid city coming in at a higher level. Don’t ask me why, that’s just the way it is.

Ice Barrier (level 40) Welcome to AoE Grinding like you’ve never seen it before. Who needs healers and tanks when you’ve got a wonderful frost bubble keeping you perfectly safe? You do not suffer pushback to spell casting while you have it up which means you can Blizzard while mobs are hitting you, it absorbs damage that you would have otherwise taken, and if you spend your talents right then when the bubble has absorbed the maximum amount of damage for you it explodes in a Frost Nova effect that freezes all of the mobs around you. Pure. Win.

Levels 50-58

Some of your big spells get rank upgrades here as well: Cone of Cold (twice), Frostbolt (twice), Ice Armor, Blizzard, Ice Barrier (twice), Frost Nova, Arcane Intellect, and Conjure Mana Gem.

Portal: Darnassus or Thunder Bluff (level 50) Here we finish out the Pre-Outlands portals so you can now port people to any of your faction’s major cities.

Summon Water Elemental (level 50) Next to Ice Barrier this is the biggest upgrade you’re going to find for improving your grinding abilities. You have to spend your talent points in the Frost tree to get it, but if you aren’t Frost then you probably aren’t reading this guide in the first place. And if you are Frost and haven’t been putting all of your points into the Frost tree up to this point then you obviously haven’t read the previous installments of this guide.

Rotation
Rotation Option 1: Frostbolt, Frostbolt, Frostbolt, Fire Blast
Rotation Option 2: Frostbolt, Frostbolt, Frostbolt, Frostbolt
Rotation Option 3: Frostbolt, Frostbolt, Cone of Cold, Frostbolt

These will pretty well be the rotations you use for the rest of the game for single mobs as far as the Frost spec is concerned. Basically your life revolves around Frostbolt spamming and throwing out a Fire Blast or Cone of Cold to finish them off. Frost Nova when and if you need to, but otherwise just spam Frostbolt to knock them down and then finish them off with an instant cast.

This will change a bit when you get up around level 64 or so because new spells open up, but until then you pretty well stick to the ones listed above here.

Note: These rotations are for single mobs that you want to take down. Ideally you will want to fight every chance you get using an AoE pull and rotation, but if you have to single target then this is how you get the job done. If you need a refresher on how to AoE Grind with a Mage then please refer to my post: AoE Grinding: Frost Mage Edition.

Special Mention: Ice Barrier

Ice Barrier is a game changing spell for a mage because it addresses the one problem that we cannot otherwise overcome; our squishiness. Mages can’t take a lot of hits because they generally have low health pools. They can’t stand up long in melee because all they have protecting them is a few threads of cloth rather than a suit of plate armor. But now we’ve got ourselves a bubble that absorbs damage for us.

The key to effectively using Ice Barrier is noting the duration and cooldown of the spell and keeping track of that. This spell has a 1 minute duration and a 30 second cooldown. The cooldown is the biggest drawback to the spell (because we’ll be fighting so many mobs at once), so you need to know how to overcome that. You want this spell to be active before you start pulling, and you want to burn its cooldown while you’re getting on your mount, while you’re pulling the next group, while you’re putting distance between you and the mobs after freezing, or while you’re moving but not mounted.

If mobs chew through your bubble in the middle of your pull then don’t worry about it, you’ve been doing fine without it for 40 levels so surely you can handle being without it for a few seconds. The priority in your pull if Ice Barrier wears off is to corral the mobs, freeze them in place, and then cast Ice Barrier while you’re getting distance between you and the mobs. This is another big reason why I prefer to run away from mobs to get my distance rather than using Blink. It gives me a chance to refresh Ice Barrier while also keeping a watchful eye on everything around me so that I can react to anything unexpected.

Get used to keeping Ice Barrier up at all times. If you’re in the middle of town or in a low level area then of course there’s no reason to bother with it. But if you’re in an area where there are mobs that you plan on fighting then keep it up all the time.

The Shattered Barrier talent gives your Ice Barrier a 50-100% chance of freezing all enemies within 10 yards for 8 seconds when the barrier is destroyed. This can be used to your advantage in many cases, but some people don’t like for it to happen. If your IB is reaching its limit of damage absorption and you don’t want the freeze to take place, then be sure to recast IB before it gets destroyed. If you can’t stand the freeze effect when it breaks, then just don’t put the points in Shattered Barrier and instead put them in either Arctic Winds, Chilled to the Bone, or Improved Frostbolt (see talent section below).

And remember that IB is a Frost spell, so Cold Snap will instantly remove its cooldown if you find yourself in a bind and need to get the bubble back up immediately.

Leveling 40-49
As soon as you hit level 40 you need to put your talent point into Ice Barrier, and that one spell may potentially change the way you play your class all on its own. The early levels of the spell don’t seem to absorb a whole lot of damage for you, but you’ll soon learn how to gauge that amount and how to use and abuse your bubble in every situation. The starting amount is 3300 damage which seems like quite a bit, but when you’re pulling several mobs at once and they’re all hitting you it doesn’t last quite as long as you would hope.

The main change with adding IB to the mix is that you can get more confident in your ability to pull large groups and survive, or you can get more focused in your single target casting and focusing more on just burning them down than trying to keep yourself alive. Since IB prevents all pushback on your spells you don’t have to worry about keeping distance between yourself and your targets for the sake of casting your spells quickly. Just keep spamming your Frostbolts until the mob is dead or your bubble is gone.

The bubble provides you with some much needed defense in the form of immunity. It’s easy for you to get into an overpowered state of mind with it, and that’s a good thing. Just remember that while you can solo all of your quests with ease now, you’re still a squishy little cloth wearer when that ice is gone.

Leveling 50-58
At level 50 it’s time to introduce yourself to your friend in frostiness, the Water Elemental (WE). You now have all the tools you need to AoE your way up to level 80 if you want. WE is going to help you with pulling mobs, freezing, corralling, or simply killing them. The primary use for him in an AoE build is his Freeze attack which works exactly like Frost Nova except that instead of being centered on the caster it can be cast at range similar to how you cast Blizzard.

If your Frost Nova is on cooldown or if it misses a few mobs, then you can use WE’s Freeze spell instead. Sometimes you’ll find a nice cluster of mobs to begin with that don’t even require you to corral them into a single spot to start grinding. In cases like that you can skip most of the steps in my grinding guide and just start off with Freeze right off the bat followed by an immediate Blizzard from you. WE’s Freeze spell does have a cooldown on it, but it does not trigger your own Global Cooldown (GCD) when you cast it, so you can cast freeze and then immediately cast Blizzard, and you can have him cast Freeze in the middle of your Blizzard cast without it interrupting what you’re doing.

Summon Water Elemental does count as a Frost spell for the sake of using Cold Snap to finish off the cooldown of your spells too, so if you need the WE back in action on the fly then Cold Snap is how you do it.

Summon the WE whenever you need to increase your dps or be more efficient in your AoE, whenever you find yourself in a bind during an AoE pull, when you’re just bored and feel like casting something, or when you’re lonely and need a friend. Whatever you need him for, he’s there for you.

I tend to save him for when I’m doing big AoE pulls or fighting elites or instance bosses, but his cooldown really isn’t all that bad at 3 minutes if you want to summon him more often just to get his added dps. You can get the Glyph of Water Elemental to reduce his cooldown by 30 seconds if you feel you need him more often, or you can get the Glyph of Eternal Water if you want him around all the time and are willing to sacrifice his ability to cast Freeze. Since I use his Freeze all the time I have no desire to use the GoEW to keep the pet around all the time, but it’s an option if you feel it works well for you. If I wanted to be a caster with a pet though, then I would have rolled a Warlock. Just saying.

General Tactics
As far as general AoE Grinding goes, you’re pretty well going to be doing the same thing you’ve been doing since level 20 except that you can do even bigger pulls now that you have Ice Barrier.

I mentioned one of my favorite tactics in Part II that I called Running Through, and that becomes even more viable now that you have Ice Barrier backing you up as well. The potential threat of doing it at lower levels was that you were subjecting yourself to being hit which could potentially get you killed, but with the bubble on we really don’t care any more.

I still suggest that you AoE grind everything you can for questing and if you’re running instances where your tank generates some decent AoE threat then focus almost entirely on Blizzard for that as well.

Let me say it now, loud and clear IF YOUR TANK IS NOT A PALADIN THEN DO NOT CAST BLIZZARD! At least not right away. If you have a Warrior tanking then wait at least until the first Thunder Clap, preferably the second before you cast Blizzard. If you have a Druid tank then wait until he’s used Swipe a time or two before you get started. While you’re waiting for your tank to build up their threat just spam Frostbolts at the tank’s target.

If you have a Death Knight tank then save yourself the stress and repair bills and leave the group give him a few seconds to get his agro going. A DK tank can come in the form of any of the three DK specs. If he’s Unholy then you can usually start AoE after 3-6 seconds, if he’s Frost you need just a little more time, and if he’s Blood then you might as well give up on the whole AoE idea and just stick to Frostbolt spam.

Paladins have great AoE threat generation, so just make sure Consecrate has been cast (the ground will have a golden glow to it in sort of a cracked ground looking pattern), give it a second or two to tick, and then lay into them.

If you’re following my talent build then you’ve got a lot of potential for spike damage from multiple crits in quick succession. Because of this you have a lot of different opportunities to pull threat off of your tank, so you need to be mindful of these things and know when to pull back on the AoE throttle. Mobs will die faster if you’re casting Blizzard, but your group will die faster if everyone’s agro is all over the place. Know your role, and watch your agro.

Macro Suggestions
#showtooltip
/cast Freeze

This macro is going to cast your Water Elemental’s Freeze spell so that you don’t have to use the default keybind or click on the icon. There are several different ways to get this same functionality, but I personally build it into a macro.

You can modify that macro however you’d like, but I wanted to show you how to activate WE’s spell in a macro format. I personally have it tied into the number 4 on my action bar when modified with the Alt key like so:

#showtooltip
/cast [modifier:alt] Freeze; Fire Blast

It’s a simple macro that makes me cast Fire Blast by default, but if I hold Alt then it casts Freeze instead. The 1-4 keys are always my most active spells so I like to keep it handy, but since it has a cooldown I keep it on an Alt function rather than giving it a key of its own.

Addon Suggestions
The one addon that I’m going to suggest that you at least look into here is ShieldMonitor. It will display a bar on your screen that you can move wherever you want, and that bar will monitor the “health” of your Ice Barrier. It gives you a visible and numeric display of how much damage your IB can still absorb so that you’ll know when it’s about to break and when you might need to recast it if you don’t want it to break.

Talent Points and Glyphs: Level 40-58

Frost Talent Build: Level 58

Starting at level 40, the following is what I personally suggest for leveling your Frost Mage with a preference for AoE grinding:

Ice Barrier (1/1): [Instant Cast, 30 sec cooldown] Instantly shields you, absorbing 3300 damage. lasts 1 minute. While the shield holds, spellcasting will not be delayed by damage.

Shattered Barrier (2/2): Gives your Ice Barrier spell a 100% chance to freeze all enemies within 10 yards for 8 seconds when it is destroyed.

Arctic Winds (2/5): Increases all Frost damage you cause by 2% and reduces the chance melee and ranged attacks will hit you by 2%.

Fingers of Frost (2/2): Gives your Chill effects a 15% chance to grant you the Fingers of Frost effect, which treats your next 2 spells cast as if the target were Frozen. Lasts 15 seconds.

Empowered Frostbolt (2/2): Increases the damage of your Frostbolt spell by an amount equal to 10% of your spell power and reduces the cast time by 0.2 seconds.

Arctic Winds +1 (3/5): as above, but 3% instead of 2% in both cases.

Summon Water Elemental (1/1): [Instant cast, 3 minute cooldown] Summon a Water Elemental to fight for the caster.

Enduring Water (3/3): Increases the duration of your Summon Water Elemental spell by 15 seconds and your Frostbolt spell has a 100% chance to grant the Replenishment effect to up to 10 part or raid members mana regeneration equal to 0.25% of their maximum mana per second for 15 seconds. This effect cannot occur more often than once every 6 seconds.

Arctic Winds +2 (5/5): as above, bu 5% in both cases.

Chilled to the Bone (3/5): Increases the damage caused by your Frostbolt, Frostfire Bolt and Ice Lance spells by 3% and reduces the movement speed of all chilled targets by an additional 6%.

Ice Barrier has already been discussed in detail up above, it’s main function is to provide you with protection by absorbing damage. Shattered Barrier gives you an extra layer of protection by freezing your enemies when Ice Barrier’s bubble is destroyed from absorbing too much damage.

Arctic Winds is a straight increase to our damage. The reduced chance that we’ll get hit by attacks is a plus, but the extra damage is what we’re really after here. Fingers of Frost serves multiple purposes, but at this level it’s primarily an increase to your DPS. By treating targets as though they are frozen your spells (including damaging spikes from Blizzard) gain the benefits of earlier talent points we spent such as Shatter (+50% chance to crit against frozen targets) and Ice Shards (increase the critical strike damage of Frost spells by 100%).

Empowered Frostbolt might seem a bit odd since we still haven’t put any points into Improved Frostbolt to reduce it’s cast time, but what we’re after here is more damage from Frostbolt, not necessarily a faster cast time. Chilled to the Bone gives us more damage to Frostbolt and Ice Lance (which we don’t have yet) which is always good, but the additional 6% speed penalty to chilled targets is what we need for our AoE.

Summon Water Elemental has been covered in the Level 50 section up above. Enduring Water used to be there strictly for the increased duration of your WE, but it now also provides a replenishment effect when you cast your Frostbolt, which will provide us with a great way to get our mana back since Frost misses out on talents that both Arcane and Fire have to reduce mana costs or increase methods of regaining mana.

Glyphs for Leveling
Our count now reaches 2:2 for Majors and Minors. I’m going to list the different options that I would suggest for each glyph slot in the order that I would suggest them. Look at each one and decide for yourself which ones you will use.

Major Glyphs
Evocation: Your Evocation ability also causes you to regain 60% of your health over its duration.

Ice Block: Your Frost Nova cooldown is now reset every time you use Ice Block.

Ice Barrier: Increases the amount of damage absorbed by your Ice Barrier by 30%.

Frost Nova: Your Frost Nova targets can take an additional 20% damage before the Frost Nova effect automatically breaks.

Water Elemental: Reduces the cooldown of your Summon Water Elemental spell by 30 seconds.

The Glyph of Evocation is invaluable if you are soloing. You can get by without it, but it goes a long way towards reducing your down time to have it. Glyph of Ice Barrier is going to give you an even larger bubble which can be a great help and it’s your call whether you find it more valuable than Glyph of Ice Block which will reset Frost Nova when needed. Of the two I personally go with Ice Block because I like for my Ice Barrier to burst and freeze enemies for me, but it’s your call. The other two I consider acceptable choices for a Frost Mage in these levels, but I wouldn’t necessarily go for them myself.

Minor Glyphs
Slow Fall: Your Slow Fall spell no longer requires a reagent.

Frost Armor: Increases the duration of your Frost Armor and Ice Armor spells by 30 minutes.

Arcane Intellect: Reduces the mana cost of your Arcane Intellect and Arcane Brilliance spells by 50%.

Penguin: Your Polymorph: Sheep spell polymorphs the target into a penguin instead. (listed strictly for you Linux users)

Mages have crap for minor glyph selection, so the only one I really care for is going to be Slow Fall. Get that one for your first slot at 15 and then fill in the others as they open up with whatever you fill like sticking in there. If you are only leveling solo then go for Ice Armor so you don’t have to recast your armor as often, and if you’re doing a lot of group runs then go for Arcane Intellect instead since people are always asking for buffs and sitting to drink sucks. Penguin is about as worthless as you can get since it has no actually benefit, but at least it changes things up a bit.

Gearing Up for Spellcasting
Nothing new here at all. Spell Power and Intellect > All, with Hit, Crit, and Stam being next up on the usefulness list.

Suggested Instances
There aren’t any particular instances that need to be suggested for these levels, though all of them have some good gear that you could use and are great for your AoE. If you get to 40 and still haven’t done Scarlet Monastery then I strongly suggest you do that for the Illusionary Rod if nothing else. That staff will last you well into your 50’s and the other gear is an excellent base for getting through these levels as well. All of the SM instances are good for you actually, except for Armory which offers nothing for a cloth caster, but the AoE grinding in Armory is pretty nice as there are opportunities for such around every corner (literally).

You will find a lot of AoE opportunities in Sunken Temple as well as some decent gear upgrades. The instance is a bit annoying and a lot of people hate it, but with the new LFG system set up for random dungeons, you’ve got a fairly good shot at ending up there.

When you get into your 50’s you’ll want to look for a group to run Blackrock Depths for even better AoE fights and gear upgrades, and you’ll find the same in both Scholomance and Stratholme as you get to your upper 50’s as well. These three instances in particular are some of the best AoE spots you’re going to find in vanilla WoW and the loot is great for your level.

You’ll end up replacing most of your gear pretty early on once you hit Outlands, so don’t worry too much about running those instances, but if you’re looking for somewhere to go in particular, then those are the places I’ll suggest.

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

 

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