Blizzard’s done a really good job of trying to prepare mages early on with learning the sights and sounds of their class – this includes giving you a mixture of spell schools. You get arcane, fire and frost within your first ten levels. For the first six, however, you only have 3 spells to your name – Fireball (which you start out with), Arcane Missiles (Level 3), and Fire Blast (Level 5). Arcane Missiles are a nice high-damage spell but you can only cast them when you proc – so sometimes a mob will not wait around for you run away and pew pew them in the face and you will die. At very low levels, you are quite possibly just a glorified bag of meat that shoots fire out of your hands occasionally. I didn’t die too many times while starting out, but the possibility of being overwhelmed by more than one mob when you’re questing will ultimately kill you.
This all changes when you get to level 7; your first slowing ability, Frostbolt, is learned. Even now, getting this spell felt like a lot more of a game-changer to an old hat mage like me. Having the choice of keeping a mob crawling along after me makes it easier to keep them away. I can also pull more than one mob at a time if I don’t feel I’m going to get overrun. A really good set of skills to start practicing now, little mages, is how to cast while just barely facing a mob. It is an essential ingredient of kiting later on. You turn yourself sideways, just enough that you still have facing on whatever you are targeting and can shoot a spell. Then continue running, using instant cast spells (like Fire Blast) and Frostbolt again when you’re a safe distance. Immediately after getting Frostbolt, you get Frost Nova (level 8). Your first snare! Huzzah. This makes kiting easier and will also help with AOE-mob-grinding at higher levels if you choose to go frost.
The first ten levels gets rounded off by Counterspell at 9. This is such a marked difference over leveling back in vanilla. You had no way to interrupt caster mobs (which there were many) early on in the game. You just had to hope you could survive. Giving casters tools like snares and interrupts this early makes the game a lot more fun.
The macro I use for Counterspell basically just makes it so you can use CS whenever, even if you are casting. This is crucial because sometimes you will have to stop immediately what you are doing and interrupt something in dungeons and raids. It does lower your DPS if you have a tendency to “hammer” an interrupt like I do, but hopefully you’ll get used to it and have it as a reflex. Mages who can sucessfully interrupt make more money, lead better lives and have more friends (Maybe.)
When you hit level 10, you gain the ability to start using talent points. This will lead to gaining the bonuses for whatever specialization you choose. Since I went Fire (as picked by you guys), I am now allowed to cast Pyroblast. Frost gets their Water Elemental, and Arcane gets Arcane Barrage.
Hopefully this series of guides will help you understand mages a little better as you are leveling them. It is pretty fast work these days to get a character to 85, so I don’t need to tell you necessarily where to go, but giving you some pointers on talents and spell choices, plus some mage tips might turn you into better “career” mages and make the leveling experience more fun.
>> Levels 11-20