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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.