Category Archives: Mage

Mage Heirlooms

Welcome to the Mage Heirlooms Guide for Legion. This post will cover all three of the Mage specs, including the optimal enchants. Please keep in mind that heirlooms are designed for leveling, and the choices of which pieces of gear to use as well as which enchants are designed towards leveling rather than raiding. In many cases the choices are the same, but if something seems odd then I’ve likely chosen it for a reason. Feel free to ask if you’re confused or care to offer other comments or suggestions. In the long run, as long as you’re wearing heirlooms with the right primary stats on it, it doesn’t necessarily matter which ones you choose.

Arcane (DPS)

Slot Item Name Enchant
Helm Tattered Dreadmist Mask N/A
Neck Eternal Horizon Choker Gift of Critical Strike
Cloak Ancient Bloodmoon Cloak Gift of Critical Strike
Shoulder Tattered Dreadmist Mantle Greater Crane Wing Inscription
Chest Tattered Dreadmist Robe Peerless Stats
Legs Tattered Dreadmist Leggings Greater Cerulean Spellthread
Ring 1 Signet of the Third Fleet Gift of Critical Strike
Ring 2 Dread Pirate Ring Gift of Critical Strike
Main Hand Dignified Headmaster’s Charge Elemental Force
Trinket 1 Discerning Eye of the Beast N/A
Trinket 2 Discerning Eye of the Beast N/A

If you don’t have access to the enchants mentioned above, you may choose others. Choices made are based on info from

Fire (DPS)

Slot Item Name Enchant
Helm Tattered Dreadmist Mask N/A
Neck Eternal Horizon Choker Gift of Critical Strike
Cloak Ancient Bloodmoon Cloak Gift of Critical Strike
Shoulder Tattered Dreadmist Mantle Greater Crane Wing Inscription
Chest Tattered Dreadmist Robe Peerless Stats
Legs Tattered Dreadmist Leggings Greater Cerulean Spellthread
Ring 1 Signet of the Third Fleet Gift of Critical Strike
Ring 2 Dread Pirate Ring Gift of Critical Strike
Main Hand Dignified Headmaster’s Charge Elemental Force
Trinket 1 Discerning Eye of the Beast N/A
Trinket 2 Discerning Eye of the Beast N/A

If you don’t have access to the enchants mentioned above, you may choose others.If you don’t have access to the enchants mentioned above, you may choose others. Choices made are based on info from

Frost (DPS)

Slot Item Name Enchant
Helm Tattered Dreadmist Mask N/A
Neck Eternal Horizon Choker Gift of Critical Strike
Cloak Ancient Bloodmoon Cloak Gift of Critical Strike
Shoulder Tattered Dreadmist Mantle Greater Crane Wing Inscription
Chest Tattered Dreadmist Robe Peerless Stats
Legs Tattered Dreadmist Leggings Greater Cerulean Spellthread
Ring 1 Signet of the Third Fleet Gift of Critical Strike
Ring 2 Dread Pirate Ring Gift of Critical Strike
Main Hand Dignified Headmaster’s Charge Elemental Force
Trinket 1 Discerning Eye of the Beast N/A
Trinket 2 Discerning Eye of the Beast N/A

If you don’t have access to the enchants mentioned above, you may choose others. Stat priorities from Icy-Veins depend on what Tier 7 talent you decide to use, which of course doesn’t matter until you’re level 100. You can see their list here.


MoP’ing up the Twinks

Today we’re going to take a look at the talent trees that are proposed for being in the Mists of Pandaria expansion, and how those talent trees might impact twink brackets. As we continue on, keep in mind the fact that this stuff was just announced at BlizzCon 2011 and this expansion isn’t scheduled to come out for who knows how long yet so any and all information here could potentially change.

I’m not going to look at every bracket in this post because there are just too many talents to smash them all into a single post. Instead I’m going to break in into two parts; one for the 10-14 bracket, and one for the 15-19 and 20-24 brackets as the impact on the two should be roughly the same.

I did not attend or in any way participate in this year’s BlizzCon, so I’m only going off of what the MoP Talent Calculator from Wowhead has to tell me, and what I heard people say on Twitter or on other blogs. If any of this information is incorrect, incomplete, or false please notify me of such in the comments so that I can get it updated with the correct information.

Right now we don’t know much of anything about the Monk class, so they won’t be included in this particular post. It is safe to say you better be careful around those pandas with their racial sleep attack though.
Turn the page to find out more…


Posted by on October 25, 2011 in Druid, Hunter, Mage, Paladin, Priest, Rogue, Shaman, Warlock, Warrior


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New Heirlooms in 4.3

In Patch 4.3 the Darkmoon Faire is going to get a nice little revamp (details here). I’ve never been too big on the faire beyond abusing the vendors there to get high selling mats for cheap vendor prices that I could toss on the AH for a quick, easy profit. My lack of interest almost made me ignore the information regarding the faire, but I was bored anyway (and about to leave work for the day) so I figured I might as well take a look.

Most of what the notes mentioned weren’t bad, but nothing that would get me otherwise interested in the DMF, until I stumbled onto this:

“We have adorable companion pets inludin’ a fez-wearing monkey, a plethora of profession recipes, toys, balloons, souvenirs, delectable carnival snacks and beverages, heirlooms for the little ones, and even replicas of long-lost suits of armor that we’re offering for your Transmogrification needs.”

Unfortunately for us, there’s no more mention of heirlooms in the article, so we don’t know for sure what it refers to. It could be new heirlooms, it could be existing heirlooms, or it could be other items all together that they simply used the word to describe. Without the details, one can only hope and imagine.

But wait… we do have details!
Turn the page to find out more…


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Mage Leveling: 1-29 Frost

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

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

But, first thing’s first:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Talent Points

Solo Spec

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

/cast Freeze

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

/cast Frostbolt
/cast !Freeze

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

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

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

The Tailoring profession is a great source of gear throughout the various levels, especially if you plan on soloing your way to the top. You can generally find better gear in instances than you can from tailoring when you are starting out, but you can certainly weave that cloth to fill in any gaps you might have. Don’t discount quest rewards though, because Cataclysm brought a whole new set of quest rewards and some of them are fantastic for their level.

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

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


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


Critter Killer Squad

After a few conversations back and forth on Twitter, it was decided that I should be the one to do a post about tips for farming the Critter Killer Squad achievement for your guild by killing 50,000 critters collectively. Completing this achievement gives your guild members access to the Armadillo Pup companion pet, though you do have one heck of a rep grind to do with your guild before you can actually purchase and summon him. The current PTR patch mentions he’s purchasable at Revered once the patch goes live, but currently it’s Exalted.

This isn’t really a guide to show you how to do it, it’s merely a list of tips to help you along the way. I’m going to point out the primary locations for where I did most of my grinding as well as things you can do to help you out in your own.

General Tips

Classy Killers
The first thing to consider if you’re going to go on a critter farming spree is your class. If you don’t have good AoE spells, or you’re not able to “spam” your AoE spells, then you aren’t really an ideal farmer. That doesn’t mean you can’t do it of course, only that you could do better if you were a different class. Which class is the best Critter farmer in the game? Mages followed by Priests.

Mages are the best critter farmers because they have a cheap AoE spell that you can spam (no cooldown) and several ways of getting their mana back quickly and easily. By taking the Arcane spec they can reduce the cooldown of their best mana return, Evocation, to every two minutes. By taking the Fire spec they gain access to two more AoE spells that can be cast instantly on a targeted location. And they can always conjure their own food for free if mana returns get stuck on cooldown.

Priests have a similarly useful AoE, but mana can become an issue after sustained periods without as many ways of generating it back.

You can also do a fair job with a Death Knight if you take the Frost Spec, allowing you to cast two Blood Boils, and two Howling Blasts to clear large numbers of critters. The drawback is that Howling Blast does require you to select a target which can be hard if you’re having to click on some of these tiny critters. You can get around that either with a macro or by trying to click on other, larger targets to center it on. You can also use your “ice cubes” cooldown when it’s up, allowing Frost Fever to kill them.

Critter Killer “SQUAD”
The next thing to consider is whether or not other people in your guild are willing to help you. Why is that important? Because just like loot in dungeons or raids, you get credit for the kills as long as you’re in the area when they die. Credit in the case of critters is the kill count. What that means is that if you’re in a group then everyone who is there and within “reward range” of the critters when they die all get credit for it.

So if you’re in a group with another person for your guild then every critter killed counts as two critters because both of you are rewarded with a kill. If you’re in a group of five, then every critter counts as five. And if you’re in a 40 man raid, then every critter counts as 40 instead.

Remember, guild achievements aren’t meant to be accomplished by a single individual, they’re meant to be a group effort; that’s why they’re guild achievements. Get a group together for the areas you want to farm in and then go do them together. You can either send a large group, like the 40 man raid, to a single location, or you can do smaller parties or raids to several locations at once.

Uldum: the land of sheep, moths, lizards and scarabs.

This is where most of the people who got this achievement first did their thing. There are two locations on the map where two groups of sheep spawn which make it an excellent zone to grab a few, quick kills from. When the expansion was first released killing these sheep forced more sheep to instantly respawn, making it the single-best location in the game to farm the achievement. Once Blizzard caught on though, they took away the respawn rate and now they respawn about the same as any other critter, though maybe a tad slower.

Those little packs of sheep are still a great source of kills though, so I still enjoyed farming them even after the respawn nerf.

Anywhere that you find green growth in the zone can also be home to moths which count for the achievement as well. If you happen to be an herbalist or a skinner then you’ll likely be farming these areas for your professions as well, and killing critters while you’re in the middle of farming something else anyway is a great way to contribute to the guild without going out of your way. The sheep don’t quite have enough time to respawn after a single path along the highest spawn points of Whiptail unless you manage to find several of the nodes and stop for moths along the way, but a double-path should have the big sheep packs back up for you.

If you’re a miner then you’ll often find along your mining paths here that there will be several groups of critters that spawn in groups of three and then spread out and “flee” when you get close to them. Drop down in the middle and fire off an AoE spell to grab your three kills and then return to your ore farming. Many of the ore nodes themselves are spawn points for these critters which you can use to some extent as a reference for a place to keep your eyes open for a node you’re not aware of.

I start my mining path just south of where the sheep spawn, at a point where I often find Pyrite nodes and then I run a path that takes me through both sheep spawn locations, up around where the Armadillo rare spawn is located, up into the western mountain ranges looping around the north side of the map all the way to the east where I also find several Pyrite nodes, and then I go back to the sheep spot. My mining path is significantly larger than my herb path, and the sheep have always respawned by the time I get back around.

You can also make a macro to “/target Strange Camel Statue” to search for the statue that gives you a chance at a camel mount. I haven’t had any luck with that one myself yet, but I’ve been told that’s the best way to find it since the statue can be targeted.

Zul’Gurub: The raid that once was, land of the eternal snakes.

In Zul’Gurub you’re going to be killing snakes. Lots, and lots, and lots of snakes. Now, there aren’t all that many snakes that are actually there, probably only 25-30 in this particular area, but killing them forces more to spawn and they also have a fast respawn rate on their own. The key to getting them to spawn a lot is to make sure that you kill all of them, and doing that requires you to know where all of them are.

Go to the area marked on the map. You’ll find the section where the snake boss used to be located when ZG was still a raid instance. Now, back out of his room onto the main pathway that runs around the instance. There are 4 snakes that spawn right outside there; 2 are in line with the doorway and there is one slightly to both the left and right of the door. The doorway itself also has up to 3 snakes that can spawn inside it.

Now your objective is clear a ring around the entire area inside the snake bosses “room”. So go in the door and start making a circle around the edge, spamming your AoE the whole time. I prefer to turn right and go around counter-clockwise, but that’s just me. When you come around opposite the doorway to where the stairs are go on up and do the same thing there, spamming your AoE as you circle around the upper floor. Then go back down the stairs and finish your ring of the lower level by following it around and going back out the door.

From there it’s just a simple matter of repeating everything you just did. If you don’t kill all of the snakes then not all of them will respawn, that’s why I have you kill the ones outside the door. You can’t kill just the lower floor and outside the door, or the snakes will follow normal respawn rules. If you do take the time to get snake down in there then you’ll have a constant supply of snakes to kill.

As you path around here you’ll pick up on where all of the snakes are and get a feel for where you need to stand when you fire your AoE to kill the most snakes per cast, and you’ll find just how close you need to get to the edges of the room. Once you’ve got a feel for it you’ll be able to clear the place in no time and can probably develop a rhythm like I did where I didn’t even have to look at the screen anymore because I knew how far to turn in each direction in sequence to get to where I was going.

ZG farming gets old pretty fast, but it is effective and it’s your best source if you don’t want to deal with respawn rates. If you’re grinding the achievement with your guild you probably don’t want to bring more than 2-3 other people with you to this place. While killing does force respawns, there’s still a little bit of an actual respawn on the forced spawn as well which ends up giving you a slight delay followed by bursts of snakes in random places and it gets a little screwy.

Eastern Plaguelands
Eastern Plaguelands: Enough creepy crawlies to feed the entire goblin race for a decade.

Eastern Plaguelands is overall the best place for you to farm. It has more critters than any other location in the game now, and they all have a reasonable respawn rate of 3-5 minutes. The respawn timer kind of sucks, but the cave is large enough and there are enough critters in there to make up for it.

EPL comes with another side benefit though which helps with that respawn timer, and that’s farming for the Mr. Grubbs companion pet. The whole point of killing these critters is to open up another pet, so don’t try to tell me you’re not in it for pets. ;)

If you don’t already have Mr. Grubbs then go ahead and clear out the cave full of critters and then fly east and farm some mobs for a chance to get Mr. Grubbs. After a few minutes of grinding those, head back to the cave and kill some more, then grind Grubbs while you wait, and so on and so forth.

If you’re going to grind this achievement with your guild then this is the best place to do it in groups.

Psynister’s Psystem
I did a large portion of my guild’s critter farming solo, mostly because I had no idea at the time that doing it in groups could multiply your kill count. If I had known that then we would have gotten it way sooner than we did.

I started off farming the sheep in Uldum, pre-nerf, and not expecting a nerf to come for a while I mostly took my time with them and only did a few thousand at a time before going off to do something else. I don’t remember what our count was when the nerf hit, but I think it was around 10-12k at that point.

The nerf wasn’t a big setback though because I had found a location that was even better. I was leveling a Worgen Fury Warrior to become PvP twink when I suddenly found myself in a tunnel/hallway absolutely full of critters. I remembered it from the Beta but I had completely forgotten that the area existed. The great thing about this place was that the critters actually attacked you which mean that my Warrior had a never ending supply of Rage along with a never ending supply of critters, and a wonderful spell to dump that Rage into that just happened to be an AoE.

I farmed the crap out of that hall until all of my non-BoA gear was broken. Once it broke I set off to find myself a repair vendor so I could make use of my enchanted Hand-Me-Downs again, but none of them existed in the phase I was in. Sadly, neither did a mailbox so I couldn’t send the BoA’s to a new Warrior. The grinding was still great, but slower after all of my gear was busted so I took a break there for a while as well. The following week this place was nerfed as well so that the critters don’t count. Still, I’d managed over 20,000 kills there.

That left me with only a few options so I searched for other good places to go and stumbled onto the snakes in ZG. The good thing about them is that they do have an excellent respawn rate. The bad thing is, farming them kind of sucks with how spread out they are so you don’t get as many kills in as short of a time. And because of the layout I actually got bored with it easier than I did the others. I only did maybe 500-1,000 there before I got bored and left.

I then went to try my luck in EPL which is where I decided to spend most of my remaining time farming it. The respawn rate isn’t great, but the number of critters inside was fantastic. The respawn timer did make it boring pretty easily though, so again I only ended up with a little over 1,000 kills here at the time.

From there I left the achievement alone for a while at around 36,000 critters. From there I left it up to the rest of the guild for a while and we made decent progress from there. When I saw that we were within 5,000 of the achievement I went back to farming a bit more seriously and decided to beat the respawn timers by setting up a different toon in each of my three best farming locations and just relog each time I finished off an area. That worked for all of two cycles before I was killing them all too fast to really make it efficient. The DK in Uldum was doing good slaying sheep with Blood Boil and Howling Blast, but the Balance Druid kind of sucked in ZG with how much they were spread out and how much mana my non-cooldown AoE spells required to cast. The Mage was still slaying like crazy in EPL though, and eventually I just gave up on the rotation and stuck with Mage/EPL.

Quite a few members jumped in there at the end trying to finish off the achievement. At the very end, I saw two other people farming critters and only one of which was in a good spot (Uldum) for getting big numbers in a short amount of time. I’d worked so hard on the achievement though that I wasn’t about to let someone else finish what I’d started so I jumped back on the Mage for one final push through that EPL tunnel. I went in with 200 critters left on the countdown and started in.

I saw the numbers drop quickly, and just as we hit 13 I saw someone else in my tunnel doing the same thing. If he had been flagged, and on the opposite faction, I’d have killed him with AoE spells a’blazing, but that was not the case. Luckily I’d been through that stinking cave so many times that I knew all of the twists and turns and I knew there was a side passage to his right…and apparently so did he.

But, he wasn’t a mage.

/cast Blink
/cast Arcane Explosion (critter count: 3)
/cast Arcane Explosion (critter count: -7)

Now all I have to do is stop being such a friggin altoholic and focus on a single character long enough to get my rep high enough to buy the Armadillo. I’m not real big on companion pets, but still – I am a Texan, after all.


Posted by on January 13, 2011 in Death Knight, Mage, Priest, World of Warcraft


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