Leveling as a Mage – Levels 21-30

Leichi casts Arcane Blast in Stranglethorn Vale.

This part of the leveling experience starts to dissolve into a series of choices. Do you want to level via quests? What zone? Do you want to do dungeons straight to 60? The same goes for what kinds of things you are doing as a mage. You are learning about not just the basics, but filling out what will be the heart of your rotation at this point.

Spells

You get five spells from levels 21-30 and a lot of their usefulness to you depends on what spec you decide on playing. This is also the point where you gain enough spells to start the basics of a rotation for every spec. At level 22, you gain Ice Lance. This is a low-mana instant cast frost spell, so you can cast it on the move. This spell becomes a lot more powerful/useful for frost mages at level 24, when all mages gain another set of speciality-based spells or effects.

This is what the Fingers of Frost proc looks like. Its second charge appears on the right.

This is what the Fingers of Frost proc looks like. Its second charge appears on the right.

Frost mages get Fingers of Frost, which is a proc off some of your spells (Frostbolt, Frostfire Bolt, Frost Orb, Blizzard or Scorch) that lets you use Deep Freeze (which you will get later) or Ice Lance as if it were frozen. Ice Lance does extra damage because of this. Fingers of Frost can also go up to 2 charges.

This is what two charges of Arcane Missiles looks like.

This is what two charges of Arcane Missiles looks like.

 Arcane mages get Arcane Missiles. Arcane Missiles have a chance to proc off any damaging spell you cast and can go up to 2 charges. It costs no mana and does more damage depending on how many Arcane Charges you currently have. They are a channeled spell, as well.

Heating Up and then Pyroblast! proc on right.

Heating Up and then Pyroblast! proc on right.

Finally, fire mages get a spell called Inferno Blast. This spell replaces Fire Blast for mages and does a couple of different things:

  • It has a 100% to crit.
  • Because of this, you should be using it to force your Heating Up proc (one crit) to become “Pyroblast!” (two consecutive crits also known as an instant no-mana Pyroblast)
  • It spreads all your DoTs to two other targets in 10 yards of the one you are currently targeting – Combustion, Living Bomb, Pyroblast, and Ignite.
  • It explodes all other “bomb” effects – Nether Tempest and Frost Bomb (which are talents you can choose later.)

 

Level 26 is Ice Block. This is a very important defensive ability – Ice Block is classed as an immunity, which is why it is so powerful. It doesn’t absorb damage, but it keeps you from being harmed by it. This means that you can use it for things like saving yourself from falling damage ([Going Down] is a breeze!) and keeping yourself alive during a high damage fight in case a healer dies or you are somewhere you shouldn’t be. It can also be used in a pinch to keep an aggroed mob off of you (if Invisibility is on cooldown) or even to break a fear. However, if you want to do fancy things like that, you have to be able to pop it on and off quickly. Make sure to have this keybound somewhere easy to reach. What this is does is a) allow you to break your cast to pop your Ice Block,  meaning you can have a nice hair-trigger cooldown at use  and b) tapping your Ice Block macro button a second time cancels the spells so you can use it for part of its duration instead of full. It gives you a lot more control over your block and the situation at hand.

Wrapping up spells at level 28 and 29 are Cone of Cold and Remove Curse. Remove Curse is still an important cleanse spell that mages should learn how to use to save healer’s mana as well as yourself. If you do not use an add-on to handle it (like Decursive) here is a quick mouseover macro that allows you to simply mouse-over and hit your hotkey:

/use [@mouseover,help][@target,help][@player]Remove Curse

What this does is: cleanse your mouseover, and if you aren’t moused over anyone, will cleanse a target if you have one, and failing either of those, cleanse yourself of a curse. Getting good at this will make you indispensable in raids and PVP. At this point, most specs now have a skeleton of a rotation, as well as utility. You have your primary nuke (Arcane Blast, Fireball, Frostbolt), secondary spells (Arcane Missiles, Frostfire Bolt, Pyroblast), and instant-cast fillers (Arcane Barrage, Inferno Blast, Ice Lance). You also have a couple AOE spells (Arcane Explosion, Blizzard) and a couple of utility spells and defensive cooldowns. This is the beginning of your actual life as a DPSer. Your basic rotations should look like:

  • Arcane – Arcane Blast, use Arcane Missile procs for mana regen and to complete your stack of Arcane Charges, clear your charges with Arcane Barrage when full (or to AOE). Arcane Explosion if you have lots of low health mobs. Use tier 1 movement talents or Fire Blast when on the move.
  • Fire – Fireball is your main spell, if you get a Heating Up proc, use Inferno Blast to force a Pyroblast proc. Use Pyroblast with procs. Use movement talent (preferred is Scorch) when on the go.
  • Frost – Use Frostbolt as your nuke, and cast Ice Lance on Fingers of Frost procs. Use your movement talent and Ice Lance when moving.

Talents

Tier 2 talents: Temporal Shield, Blazing Speed, and Ice Barrier

Level 30 gives us another talent choice and this tier is the “Survival Tier.”

  • Temporal Shield – This is a shield that you can cast at any time (even while stunned, etc) and lasts for 4 seconds. Anything damage gets healed back over 6 seconds after the shield effect fades. This is a good talent for when you know you will be taking a large amount of damage at a particular time.
  • Blazing Speed – After taking a melee or spell hit, you can use this spell and give yourself a huge speed boost (preferably away from your attacker) and negate any slowing effects on you as well.
  • Ice Barrier – I took this because at low-levels, this is a very beefy damage reduction shield. It’s not very complex but I don’t need complexity. It lasts for a 1 minute if damage does not break it. Very simple and effective.

Glyphs (New!)

At level 25, you gain your first of three major and minor glyph slots. The idea between each kind of glyph slot is that they focus on giving certain kinds of spells a little extra usefulness or flavor.  Major Glyphs tend to play around with a lot of secondary spells or cooldowns, giving you a little more width of choice here depending on what kind of play you want to do. Lastly, Minor Glyphs are strictly for fun/flavor or adding bonuses to quality of life spells. There’s not many of them, so it makes choosing them a lot more for “fun.”

What should you be picking for your first glyphs? It is difficult at level 25 since many of the abilities you would be augmenting with a glyph aren’t available to you yet. For sheer usefulness, I picked Glyph of Evocation as my first glyph, so that when I got Evocation, I could use it as a healing cooldown. It is also part of Arcane’s rotation later on. As a fun minor glyph, I picked Glyph of Illusion. To use a glyph, click on the item in your bags. Then press “N” to open up your talents and glyphs panel (if you have not re-bound it, otherwise use the panel on your UI), and apply the glyph from your list to the circle slots.

Note: I am aware that glyphs, even ones for basic abilities, can be very expensive on some servers. As you are leveling, it is not as big of deal as it might seem if you don’t have glyphs right away. If you are short on cash, perhaps buy or gather some herbs and parchment and find a helpful guildie or person on your server to make it for you. Otherwise, you can wait until later to try and buy the glyphs you need. Don’t fret if you don’t have the big money in-game just quite yet. Save it for things like a mount!

Leichi picks out some new gear.

I want this one!

Gear

Gear, especially from dungeons and their requisite quests are plentiful now. Slots you won’t really see gear for  yet is most head pieces or trinkets. If you are an alt with heirlooms, this is largely meaningless to you! Snagging a cheap Mage deck off the auction house will net you Darkmoon Necklace from the quest. Amulet of the Moon isn’t amazing but it is cheap to make if you are a Jewelcrafter or have a JCer friend and it has INT on it.  Reinforced Woolen Shoulders are good for low-level tailors, but if you are doing dungeons, decent shoulders don’t really show up until 30 or so outside of drops. Also absent are hats, rings and definitely trinkets.

Always prioritize for intellect if you can. If you get some gear that has spirit on it, don’t fret. While spirit does zippo for mages, if it also has intellect on it, it is an upgrade. As more gear becomes diversified for healers versus casters, it’ll be considered better if you let healers in your group roll over you on spirit items, but for now, anything that has more intellect should be something you pick. Intellect/stamina gear is fairly plentiful from quests, however. Secondary stats like haste are rarer at this level, even if you do dungeons. However, due to Blizzard re-itemizing a lot of  lower-level gear you should be seeing more gear with hit and crit. Now that you are actually receiving gear that may have those stats on it, why don’t we talk about why they are good for you.

Character sheet, looking at hit percentages.

Hit is easily the second stat behind Intellect, especially at later levels when you will be constantly fighting mobs that are higher level than you in dungeons. What hit does is determine how much you will miss hitting a mob with spells. The way this stat works, is that it scales down depending on the difference between  you and the mobs level. If you look at your character sheet, you will notice things like this: A baddie that is 3 levels higher than you or is “boss level” will require a lot more hit on your gear to cast spells at them reliably. I’m sure you’ve seen a spell miss before – if you run a combat text add-on or use the in-game scrolling combat text, you’ll sometimes see “MISS!” next to the spell icon. That means that math that goes on behind the scenes determined that your spell didn’t actually hit the mob in that encounter. Hit is not as crucial now if you’re questing or doing level-appropriate dungeons/PVP, as most of those mobs will be within 3 levels of you. But any little bit of hit you get on your gear is good and will continue to become more important as you get higher in levels. Crit (rating) is a little more important or less important depending on what spec you choose but for right now, all specs consider it a good thing to have.

Crit increases your chance that you will have a critical strike with your spells. If your spell hits for 300 damage baseline, a crit is that same spell hitting for some portion of its damage over what it already hits for. So you might crit for 700 on an enemy. Intellect already provides a boost to your crit, but straight critical rating on your gear also does as well. Remember that all these things are explained if you mouseover a stat on  your character sheet, take a look there sometime. Just remember to look under “General” “Attributes” or “Spell” like in the graphic, Ranged/Melee is for other classes that do Ranged attacks (with their weapons) or melee attacks. “Resistances” isn’t really important right now.

Helpful Tips:

  1. At level 30, you can pay for the ability to get a second specialization. This allows you to flip between two different specializations on your talents page. Doing this cannot be done in combat! Each spec gets its own set of talents, glyphs and spells.
  2. Glyphs only need to be learned once. You can swap talents as many times as needed. You do need Vanishing Powder to swap them, however.

Leichi hits level 30.

Leveling Through Misandry – Levels 30 to 40

Stop that, Murkablo!

Levels 1-10

Levels 11-20

Levels 20-30

Try not to let the 30s to 40s knock you flat on your magely butt. There’s a lot of challenges out there, but this is halfway-ish to the leveling finish line! I know that Murkablo was just grumpy that we only ever got Uldaman and nothing fun like Scholomance yet. Keep your pets in line, mages!

Spells

Welcome to the 30-40 bracket, where all the mage spells you start to get tend to be less about your primary use nukes and cooldowns, but rather what I like to call “quality of life” spells. Things that make your time spent as a mage relaxing, enjoyable and frankly, kick ass over other classes. You got a taste of this when you got your Teleport spells last bracket, but now that you’ve come this far, prepare for the magical equivalent of riding around in a Bentley, waving over your shoulder at the warlocks and rogues crying on the side of the road. (Okay, maybe not like that, but come on, we’re pretty awesome.)

At 32 you get Slow Fall, which may seem like an unusual and frankly unnecessary spell, but as any veteran mage can tell you, will literally save your life. If you are a mage that spends any amount of time exploring the world or going into battlegrounds, the ability to descend gracefully and not hit the ground with a caster-shaped crater (preferably while popping off several instant cast spells) is beyond useful. Slow Fall does just that – it slows your falling speed. You float off at a diagonal towards the ground until you land on something solid. Keep in mind though two things – it costs a reagent (Light Feathers, which are not purchasable off vendors) and it only lasts for 30 seconds. However, you can cast it on other party members or yourself. Just make sure you are targeting the right person. It becomes a lot more handy if you use the glyph to improve the spell, but I’ll discuss that in our glyphs section this round.

Molten Armor (level 34) and Mage Ward (level 36) are really nice to get at this stage in your leveling. One thing that mages should always have on, no matter what they are doing, are their armors. Much like a warlock’s armor or a paladin’s aura, an armor defines certain benefits and defenses. They still have a limited time meaning you have to refresh them every 30 minutes, but that’s the only downside. Molten Armor grants you extra critical strike chance and reduces your chance to be hit. Fire and frost mages will value this more than arcane mages later on in the game, but for right now it is your only armor and you should wear it! As for Mage Ward, this is a very easy way to reduce a portion of any incoming frost, fire or arcane damage. Granted, it is using a global cooldown but you can’t really beat spell damage reduction. There are talents that make this better, and if you eventually move into raiding at end-game, using it will make your healers love you. It is definitely part of a conscientious mage’s arsenal against smear-age.

Now for the moment I’m sure you’ve been waiting for – the ability to conjure food. That’s right, at level 38, you gain Conjure Refreshment. This is your ticket to reducing incoming costs for your budget and never needing to grocery shop ever again. Granted, conjured food is slightly behind the best available food for your level but if you forget to buy things like I do, it will work in a pinch. As well as being good for regening mana and health, this food turns into a new kind of sweet treat as you level up. (Right now, your conjured food is gingerbread! Yum!) Other players will love your food too – so much in fact that they will ask you for it four pulls into a dungeon. *facepalm*

Talents

Five new talent points again, but where to spend them?

Since I jumped ahead tiers last time to take Icy Veins, this time I took two steps and filled out Icy Floes, now that I have a spell or two that actually benefits from it. Reducing your cooldown on both important DPS and defensive spells is always handy and means that you can pop them more often on longer fights. Now, do I continue along the second tier of talents or do I solidly move to the third tier? The effectiveness of the second tier’s talents (like Improved Cone of Cold and Piercing Chill) still feels like a side-grade benefit so I hopped down the third tier to Fingers of Frost. Fingers of Frost is a really powerful proc that treats your target as being “frozen” despite not literally so; this means that spells that boost damage against frozen targets should be your choice when you get the proc.

Fingers of Frost spell proc graphic.

Your talent tree should now look like this: (0/0/16).

Fire definitely takes the cake in terms of getting the most interesting choices and additions to their spellcasting this time. With their five points, they not only can get Hot Streak (which is a instant-cast proc Pyroblast), but also movable Scorch that costs no mana (Firestarter and Improved Scorch), as well as Blast Wave, a great AOE ability that does damage and slows mobs. I chose Firestarter over Combustion (despite my similar choice for Icy Veins in Frost), as I felt movable scorch was more of a benefit to questing and BGs rather than a straight dungeon-based ability.  You can pick up Combustion first however if you are dungeon grinding. Your talent tree now looks like this: (0/16/0).

This is what the spell alert for Hot Streak looks like.

Bringing up the rear is arcane at (16/0/0). You get one new ability (Presence of Mind) as well as finishing off another talent (Missile Barrage.) You pick up Arcane Flows (which is identical to Icy Floes for arcane) and begin filling out Prismatic Cloak. POM used to be a lot stronger of a talent when Pyroblast was a baseline mage ability and you could instant-cast it using POM as an arcane mage, but given that Arcane Power and POM share a cooldown, and Fire has it now as a talented ability, the days of PoM-Pyro is gone. It is now part of an arcane mage’s very limited toolbox for DPS mobility or conjuring on the fly. Prismatic cloak may seem unsubstantial now, but when you fill it out for all 3 points, it gives you instant, no fade Invisibility. Great, yah?

Misandry stands on the seal of Lordaeron in the throne room.

Glyphs (New!)

I stupidly neglected this little section for my last part of the guide, and for that, I am sorry. At level 25, you gain your first of three Prime, Major and Minor Glyph slots. The idea between each kind of glyph slot is that they focus on giving certain kinds of spells a little extra usefulness or flavor. Prime Glyphs augment your main nukes – additional damage modifiers are typical here. There’s very little choice here; most of your nukes are heavily spec-based, so it’s easy to pick out what you should be glyphing. Major Glyphs tend to play around with a lot of secondary spells or cooldowns, there’s a little more width of choice here depending on what kind of play you want to do. Lastly, Minor Glyphs are strictly for fun/flavor or adding bonuses to quality of life spells. There’s not many of them, so it makes choosing them a lot more for “fun.”

So what should you be picking for your first glyphs? For me, it was fairly easy. As my Prime Glyph, I went with Glyph of Frostbolt. No brainer, obviously, and Fire and Arcane should be going Glyph of Fireball and Glyph of Arcane Blast, respectively. At this point, however, the most useful Major glyph available to leveling mages is Glyph of Evocation, full stop. Having a mana and health regen during combat is so useful; everyone should take it no matter what. Lastly, I took Glyph of Slow Fall so I wouldn’t have to worry about having Light Feathers.

To use a glyph, click on the item in your bags. Then press “N” to open up your talents and glyphs panel (if you have not re-bound it, otherwise use the panel on your UI), and apply the glyph from your list to the circle slots.

Note: I am aware that glyphs, even ones for basic abilities, can be very expensive on some servers. As you are leveling, it is not as big of deal as it might seem if you don’t have glyphs right away. If you are short on cash, perhaps buy or gather some herbs and parchment and find a helpful guildie or person on your server to make it for you. Otherwise, you can wait until later to try and buy the glyphs you need. Don’t fret if you don’t have the big money in-game just quite yet. Save it for things like a mount!

"You're looking very fashionable today, Misandry."

 Gear

Matching colors and items! How novel! That is what you can expect during this portion of leveling – many quests in zones help itemize you sensibly as well and look snappy.  You’ll starting seeing more choices in head-gear as well as all your slots. Darkcleric’s Veil/Veil of Aerie Peak is a great blue quest reward from a quest in the Hinterlands (and it looks like a face mask, so cool.) Whitemane’s Chapeau from Scarlet Monastery – Cathedral is a classy and classic choice.

The only problems I really ran into with gear in this bracket was between some overlapping quest items or slots covered by dungeon drops having wildly different stat allocations. One example of this was two questions offering me two belt choices – one had +11 INT, one had +8 STA, +4 INT, and gave me a bunch of hit. Which seems like the better choice? Lots of intellect is great, but so is hit? This sort of stuff can get really confusing. Typically, even though HIT is my best stat for not missing on mobs, more INT should win out. It just is a flat DPS boost no matter how you slice it. A good way of determining which piece of gear is better when it has identical kinds of stats on it is which has more if you added all the “numbers” up. Hit is better than crit, haste is better than crit in a lot of ways.

Still, always prioritize for intellect if you can. If you get some gear that has spirit on it, don’t fret. While spirit does zippo for mages, if it also has intellect on it, it is an upgrade. As more gear becomes diversified for healers versus casters, it’ll be considered better if you let healers in your group roll over you on spirit items, but for now, anything that has more intellect should be something you pick. Intellect/stamina gear is fairly plentiful from quests, however. Secondary stats like haste are starting to become more plentiful, especially if you do dungeons. Now that you might be seeing this, let’s explain what haste actually does.

Haste is what makes your spell casting go faster. It sounds simple but it can mean a few things – casting faster means technically more DPS. It also means you run out of mana faster, as you have less time to regen while casting. It also can speed up ticks of some DoTs and reduce your global cooldown by a small margin. Haste also only goes so far, especially when you get to the level where Heroism/Time Warp/Bloodlust is concerned. You can only speed up your casts down to 1 second. Under one second and you will be effectively locked out by the global cooldown between all your spells. That is what most casters that are working around a lot of the time when they talk about racials, cooldowns in regards to a “haste cap.” Early haste gains in leveling tend to be talented or profession cooldowns like Lifeblood.

Remember that all these things are explained if you mouseover a stat on  your character sheet, take a look there sometime. Just remember to look under “General” “Attributes” or “Spell” like in the graphic, Ranged/Melee is for other classes that do Ranged attacks (with their weapons) or melee attacks. “Resistances” isn’t really important right now.

Misandry dings level 40 with her friends.

>> Levels 40-50