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

22 Apr

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
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 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.


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


Tags: ,

2 responses to “Mage Leveling Final: 68-80 (Frost & Arcane)

  1. DarthRegis

    April 22, 2010 at 9:36 AM

    As it stands, the haste cap is something ridiculously high and you’re not going to be anywhere near it with EoT/Tier 9 gear. So, Frosties and Arcanicles should keep stacking haste on their gear. It carries more weight than Crit pretty much always.
    Gems, of course:
    Red – Spellpower
    Yellow – Spell/haste
    Blue – Spell/spirit (although I use green Haste/Spirit… I’m addicted!)
    If you don’t want the socket bonus – Spellpower.

    The nice thing about arcane is that your hit is high enough, you can re-talent some of those points elsewhere. (I would recommend taking points out of Arcane Focus as opposed to Precision because Precision affects all spells and AF is only Arcane.)

    Also, if you’re going to raid, your frost spec would have to be adjusted. Krizzlybear over at Frost Is the New Black has a good one:

    • DarthRegis

      April 22, 2010 at 9:42 AM

      Anyone wanna take a guess at who skipped some stuff while reading the first time around?



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