Hand Me Downs: Mages

19 Nov

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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16 responses to “Hand Me Downs: Mages

  1. Ceraphus

    November 19, 2010 at 10:49 AM

    I currently have my mage with many of the heirlooms you described, my biggest issue now is just leveling, either I feel under-powered, or too squishy, and feel that I am lacking abilities I used to have, like scalable food, sure I can conjure up a tray, but I need people for that, can’t do it on my own.

    Maybe with 4.0.3a and the reduction in the amount you need to level will help but right now it definitely feels like a grind even with the heirlooms

    • Psynister

      November 19, 2010 at 11:38 AM

      Losing the food/drink did kind of suck. I’m glad we got Evocation at level 12 to compensate, but it still feels a little bit off even to me.

      Which spec are you using that’s making you feel underpowered, though? And what level are you right now?

      • Ceraphus

        November 19, 2010 at 1:28 PM

        currently 70, and fire spec’d

        • Psynister

          November 19, 2010 at 1:59 PM

          I suggest a switch over to Frost. I’m running a Fire main spec and Frost off spec on my 80 right now, and did all of my raiding as Arcane. While Fire is supposedly the better spec I’ve found that for me Frost outshines it by a large margin. Not just in DPS but also in survivability and just more enjoyable to play.

          Frost basically gives you access to crits whenever you want them. If you want to crit something, Freeze it. If you’re feeling squishy, cast Ice Barrier, freeze things in place, relocate and kill them. With the water elemental up at all times now and still having his Freeze ability Frost has been greatly improved.

  2. Cynwise

    November 19, 2010 at 11:00 AM

    brb getting Apprentice’s Staff

    • Psynister

      November 19, 2010 at 11:40 AM

      Yeah, I like that staff quite a bit.

      I believe it’s now the staff that most Blood Elf casters start with, but it used to only be purchasable from…what’s his face on the isle in Northrend. I made some good money selling that staff on Durotan for a while, but eventually people stopped buying so I just used it for HMD’s. I still have one with +30 SP, one with +22 Int, and one with +25 Agi, but they haven’t been used there in forever since I got my heirlooms.

    • Screwlewse

      June 19, 2011 at 2:22 PM

      Apprentice’s Staff Acquired… Enchanted with 2H Major Int. Mission “OP Mage” Accomplished.

  3. Narci

    November 19, 2010 at 11:55 AM

    I might point out that a dagger would be the most economical purchase for someone who wants to min-max multiple toons, since they’re equipable by all ranged DPS and all healers except holy paladins. (And if you’re leveling a paladin holy from 11, more power to you.) You get the joy of offhands for your priests, locks, mages, druids and shamans. Shamen. SHAZZAM! /needs to go to sleep earlier.

    • psynister

      November 19, 2010 at 2:10 PM

      Yeah I covered that in the original article. Because of l the pally caster spec you can’t have one weapon that covers every caster so you would need 2 which can be covered by a mace for all healing classes and one other for all dps casters.

      Leveling a pally as Hol is really easy and its a lot more fun than it used to be. You have no chance of being killed w/o mass overpulls either. I soloed level 19 elites two at a time as a 10 holy pally.

  4. Ceraphus

    November 19, 2010 at 2:06 PM

    Any recommendation on Frost specs for level 70-80 leveling, with glyphs and rotations?

    • psynister

      November 19, 2010 at 2:11 PM

      Absolutely. I’ll send it to you shortly

      • Ceraphus

        November 19, 2010 at 2:22 PM

        I appreciate it, mages are quite foreign to me, and everytime I pick mine up they change something drastically. Now if it was my DK, I know that class inside and out

        • Psynister

          November 19, 2010 at 3:29 PM

          Email has been sent via your blog.

  5. Ceraphus

    November 19, 2010 at 4:16 PM

    Thank you sir! You are a gentleman and a scholar

  6. Screwlewse

    June 19, 2011 at 2:24 PM

    You should see the cost of most the weapons you refer to… they are in the 500 – 1000 gold range! I guess people know this stuff is still valuable.

    • Psynister

      June 20, 2011 at 8:20 AM

      Some of the prices are high because they’re found in remote areas of Northrend, like the Apprentice’s Staff. A lot of people even during Wrath had no idea where to find that thing.


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