Northrend, land of eternal aurora borealis, long quest chains and brown quest gear. You’re getting really close to the finish line, you have just this last chunk togo before you hit Cataclysm content. Too bad this will feel like the longest 10 levels of your entire mage career. Maybe it is because Misandry will be my 6th 85.
Like I said in the 60-70 most of your spells have been learned by this point and between now and 85, you will be getting a couple additional high-level spells. Any other spells you get will be for travel only. At level 71 you can pick up the quest Attunement to Dalaran (Alliance/Horde) and complete it for Teleport: Dalaran. In this vein, you learn Portal: Dalaran at level 74. Mages being the superior class was a lot more evident in Wrath, when we were the only ones with access to our class trainer (as well as portal trainer) in Dalaran as well as access to the city before anyone else could get there.
Ritual of Refreshment comes in at level 76, which means you are now the party caterer. This spell takes Arcane Powder, so make sure to pick some up at the reagent vendor, along with your portal and teleport runes. You kids don’t know how easy you have it – back in my day we had to conjure all our edibles by hand for raids and parties. And they didn’t even conjure at stacks of 20! They only stacked to 5! Imagine emptying out your bags before a raid making a stacks upon stacks of cinnamon buns.
Finally rounding out the level block is Invisibility and Mastery. Invisibility is a 3 second “wind-down” spell that reduces your aggro and then finally drops you out of combat when you pop out of this phase of reality. You remain invisible for 20 seconds to enemy mobs and players, giving you the ability to move around (while still seeing them). This spell has several uses: you can use it as a temporary aggro drop, even if you don’t go invisible, you can go invisible to get around extra mobs or stealth past players, and you can use it to get out of a dangerous combat situation if you feel overwhelmed or there is an impending wipe. Damage doesn’t break the aggro reduction or the backwards cooldown (it used to) but certain boss debuffs and AOE damage can still “pop” you out of being invisible. Also any mobs that can see through Stealth will also be able to see you while Invisible. Use this spell often around tanks that aren’t holding aggro off you well or if you want to solo dungeons. I feel like mages get this spell way too late in the game, but given how powerful it is with regards to aggro and stealth, I can see why. Mastery is a spell you get, but it is a passive – it grants you the Mastery stat as well as benefit from Mastery on gear. Mastery is the stat that is talent spec-specific and grants you additional benefits to the spells you cast. However, whether or not mastery is useful for your spec varies. For a longer discussion, see the “Gear” portion of this guide.
The end is almost in sight, especially for your talent points. All specs at this point will be concluding most of their major point spends in their main talent tree and can begin branching off into the talent points in the other two specs. Keep in mind that your specs will change slightly when you hit 85.
For frost, you are going to skip putting points in Frostfire Orb for now (as you do not get Flame Orb until level 81) and put your requisite 5 points for this level bracket into Master of Elements and Burning Soul in the fire tree. Master of Elements is a secondary source of mana regen for frost mages (primary being Replenishment from Enduring Winter); it synergizes very well with Frost’s natural crit. Burning Soul gives additional pushback resistance, meaning your casts aren’t slowed as much when taking any damage. (0/5/31)
Fire is going to go back and pick up some needed talents for the end-game with four of the points you have: Pyromaniac and Cauterize. I didn’t suggest Cauterize earlier because it is a tricky talent for newer mages to get around. What Cauterize does is that if something would have outright killed you (a boss mechanic or just an accident), it saves you, but at the expense of burning you with fire damage. The fire damage can be mitigated with Mage Ward or Ice Block-ed off completely, but if you do not do either of these things, you will watch your small amount of health tick right away and you’ll die again. Pyromaniac is a straight forward talent that gives you a haste boost if your DoTs are ticking on more than 3 targets. This indicates DoTs spread to mobs via Impact rather than hard-casting Living Bomb on 3 targets. Last talent point will go into Piercing Ice in the frost tree, a flat crit boost for your spells. (0/35/1)
Arcane (33/3/0) will be filling out Torment the Weak and then picking up the beginning of some talents in the Fire tree, much like Frost: 2 points into Master of Elements and 1 point into Burning Soul.
If you were paying attention to the links I posted for talents, you’d notice that I included what glyph choices you should be making now that you unlocked an extra set of glyphs at level 75. As always, my patterns for picking out glyphs for your Prime, Major and Minor slots tend to work thusly – Prime glyph should now boost your third-most powerful spell, Major should enhance your third-most useful utility or damage spell, and Minor should be for fun or extra usefulness.
- Glyph of Deep Freeze (Frost) – Additional damage for your Deep Freeze spell. A must.
- Glyph of Living Bomb (Fire) – Additional damage for your Living Bomb spell, now that you have it. Very crucial.
- Glyph of Mage Armor (Arcane) – This causes your mage armor to regen more mana. This is a large part of your DPS as Arcane.
- Glyph of Polymorph or Blink (Frost) – Good glyphs for dungeons. Polymorph is a lot more useful if you are not going to raid.
- Glyph of Blink (Fire) – Good for dungeons or raiding.
- Glyph of Arcane Power – Reducing the GCD on Mirror Image will factor into your ability to blow through cooldowns as arcane.
- Glyph of Conjuring (All) – This benefits every spec but mostly Arcane because you’ll be conjuring mana gems on a more frequent basis, sometimes mid-fight. If you don’t have Presence of Mind up to make one instant, that is.
- You can also glyph for either of the vanity polymorphs or armors if you do a lot of soloing.
Northrend content isn’t as bad as Burning Crusade when it comes to gear. Long quest chains award you nice blues, and there’s also the chance at rares scattered around the world that drop nice randomized gear as well. Haste and crit come back into the fold, even if a lot of your cloth gear is STILL going to include spirit. Don’t feel ashamed if most of your major upgrades out of BC gear has spirit on it still.
However, when you hit 80, as I mentioned before, you’ll be getting a stat called mastery. This stat is only present on Cataclysm gear. What mastery does is it enhances the passive stat that gives you bonuses specific to your talent tree – hence why you have to “lock” into a talent tree from level 1. Let’s look at what these specific bonuses are:
All of them seem pretty good right and benefit the spec the way it is played. However, Arcane is the only spec that really benefits from mastery to a degree that you should gear for it. Frost benefits largely from crit after you cap your hit, and Fire it is haste. I wonder why this is, to be honest. I suspect at one point, the intent for mastery was that it was a stat you wanted in half-measures on all your gear, but with the predominance of reforging, gemming and min-maxing, there just came the acknowledgement that mastery is going to fall far behind in terms of pure DPS for every spec BUT Arcane. It’s not terrible to have on your gear as Fire or Frost, but gemming or reforging for it is not suggested.