Leveling as a Mage – Levels 1-10

A pandaren lady mage stands under a canopy of leaves.

Meet my mage, Leichi!

You created a mage! Congratulations! What do you do now?

Starting a mage from scratch, especially when you may have not played a caster before, can be a little confusing. 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 90, 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.

When I roll a new character, what I like to do before literally anything else is make sure my bars are set up. Put any guild perks (if you are in a guild) or racial skills (like Will of the Forsaken or Every Man for Himself) on your bars. I’ll talk about keybinding a little later but for right now, put these out on your bars or hidden somewhere if you use them regularly.

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 spells to use early on.  Your very first spell at level 1 is Frostfire Bolt. This is a really interesting choice as that spell is only used by frost mages later on in the leveling. But is nice for practicing using a primary “nuke” (longer cast filler spell that will be your bread and butter) and it comes with a slow built in, which is nice.

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 at level 5) and Frostbolt again when you’re a safe distance. Immediately after getting starting, you get Frost Nova (level 3).  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.

At very low levels, you are just a glorified bag of meat that shoots magic 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 is why having a snare and a slow right away is useful. But it all changes at level 7 when you get your first utility spell:  Blink. This is easily your best way to escape a bad situation. Pull too many mobs? Frost Nova them and Blink away to safety!  It can also be used to save you from an accidental fall if you choose to use it right before you make a mage-shaped crater into the ground.

The first ten levels gets rounded off by Counterspell at 8. This interrupts spellcasts from monsters or other players. 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.

Learning how to interrupt on a dime is crucial! Sometimes you will have to stop DPS immediately 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 successfully interrupt make more money, lead better lives and have more friends (maybe.)

This macro allows you to Counterspell a mob even if you have something focused, or only Counterspell your focus target. This is handy when you can Polymorph:

/cast [@target,mod:alt] Counterspell
/cast [@focus,exists,harm] Counterspell; Counterspell

When you hit level 10, you gain the ability to pick a “specialization.” This is basically what kind of mage you will be – you have access now to spells only your kind of mage can use. I picked Arcane Specialization. You can go to the specialization page (default to access this is “N”) and see what spells you will be learning or what will be changing:

Specialization panel in game.

I immediately learned Arcane Blast; fire mages will be learning Pyroblast, and frost mages can summon their Water Elemental pet.  For fire mages specifically, your Fire Blast is now a spell called Inferno Blast and you learn it at level 24.

Helpful Tips:

  1. If you are unsure about what your spells are used for, check your “Core Abilities” tab in your spellbook, they give advice on when to use a spell.
  2. Spells are now instantly learned, so when you hit a new level, just open up your spellbook and drag it onto your bars.
  3. If you don’t like your Specialization, you can change it at any time with a mage trainer.
  4. Mages have changed a little bit since Mists of Pandaria – we can now use wands as main-hands, some talents have become specialization spells, and Arcane specialization uses “charges” now as a resource.
  5. Don’t get frustrated if you die a lot in the beginning, trying new things is what makes you better!
  6. At level 10, you can now queue for battlegrounds.

Leichi cheers at dinging level 10.