Updated for Mists of Pandaria
Mages are a tricky class in which to gauge performance, particularly in leveling speed. Put a mage with the best gear possible in the hands of an amateur and you have one of the worst levelers in the game. On the flip-side, with an experienced player behind the class it becomes a pretty efficient leveling machine.
The WoW Mage: Contents
It used to be that a large amount of the blame for this could be placed on the relatively complicated talent trees of Cataclysm and earlier. With Mists of Pandaria Mages of all specs have their tools as abilities and the “perfect talent choice” is less essential.
Being a “glass cannon,” especially at earlier levels, you will need to develop some skills in “kiting.” Learning to manipulate multiple mobs is also a nice skill, especially with Fire.
So, that’s why this guide is here to help. In addition to overcoming the hump of what talent build and general progression to follow, I’ll also be covering what statistics you want to aim for to truly maximize efficient damage output.
Buffs and Nerfs: With the 4.0 patch Mages received a lot of love and were doing crazy damage. Various patches changed that. Mists of Pandaria (patch 5.0) changes everything in regards to talents and mana usage. Based on beta play it looks like Mages will be just fine.
Click Here for fast and easy leveling all the way to the cap!
Mage Changes for Mists of Pandaria
Here’s how the changes are working out in Mists of Pandaria:
- Prime Glyphs are dead.
- Talents as we knew them in Cataclysm are dead.
- Mages will share a set of core abilities, as they do now. (see above)
- Each spec will have their own set of around ten abilities unique to their spec.
- The “talents” consists of six tiers of three talents each. Any Mage has access to any of the talents. You will pick one from each tier (tiers are accessed at levels 15, 30, 45, 60, 75, and 90) for six total talents at 90.
- There are no longer points to be spent in any talent or ability. Once you acquire either you will have it at its full value.
- The wand slot is gone, as is the third weapons slot for all classes. You can still use wands and wands are being buffed, so they just might make good main hand weapons.
- There have been some interesting changes to the general abilities that all mages get. For one, any mage can now Shatter, not just Frost. Note that this means that a 25% crit rating gives you a 100% chance to crit frozen targets.
Quick Mage Leveling Guide
This is the short version of this guide. There is much more detail below this section. All of this is appropriate for Mists of Pandaria.
Race: It doesn’t matter much. If you really want to be efficient for the end-game PvP or PvE then…
- Pandarens can be either Horde or Alliance.
- Alliance PvE: Draenei (for the Hit)
- Alliance PvP: Human (escape) or Gnome (mana pool & escape)
- Horde PvE: Orc (Blood Fury) or Troll (Berserking)
- Horde PvP: Orc, Troll, or Undead (for the escape.)
Spec: All specs level just fine. The builds linked to also include glyphs.
- Frost if you’re on a PvP server.
- Fire or Arcane: Whichever suits your game.
- If you need to blast to 90 as fast as possible then check out our favorite leveling guide.
Stats and Gear:
- Stack as much Stamina as you can at low levels
- After that, Int above all else
- No Spirit, no Agility, no Strength.
- If you find direct damage gear (eg: +fire damage for fire mage) then use it.
- At higher levels
- Hit is always good (You need 4% for same level mobs/players, 17% for raid bosses.)
- Fire likes Crit, a lot. Even in M of P.
- All mages like Haste.
- Resilence only if you PvP.
Gems & Enchants:
Keep in mind that you’ll level out of your gear quickly, so only get expensive gems if you’re rich.
- Int gems only (Brilliant gems.) M of P gems require item level 417,
- You can sometimes find cheap enchants on the Auction House: Stam, Int, Spellpower.
- Heirloom gear can take any enchant that can be applied to an iLevel 1 item.
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Race choice for the Leveling Mage
Wtih the arrival of the Cataclysm expansion the various classes are open to more races then ever before. However, the Tauren are left out of this one, and they still are in Mists. Bovine discrimination?
Really, the best choice for race is to pick the one that fits your game. If you want to get every last bit of efficiency then some choices have advantages as mages. Orcs and Trolls are probably best for raiding, with Draenei being next. For PvP Orc (Enrage & Stun resist) or Human (escape ) though Gnomes & Undead have their uses. Skill counts for more than race, though.
- Choose Horde or Alliance after leaving the starting area.
- Stun opponents with a hand strike
- Longer lasting rest XP will make leveling a bit faster.
- Better buffs from food will be useful in all situations.
- You take less falling damage, which has uses at times.
- Since you get better buffs from food and longer rest XP it just makes sense that you’re good with cooking.
For the Alliance, the Draenei may be best for Raiding (with their +1% to hit chance,) while Humans and Gnomes are best for PvP
- Better for PvP, with their Escape ability. You won’t need to equip the PvP escape trinket.
- Diplomacy is nice if you are going to be gaining faction at any point, and there are a lot of factions to grind… this is nice if you ever want to gain rep and not so much if you don’t care.
- Spirit is now useless for mages, and so is the Human’s increased Spirit.
- Expertise with melee weapons is useless for you.
- As Humans, better for PvP due to their Escape Artist skill and small size.
- Previously Gnomes had increased Int, now they have an increased mana pool, which is certainly of interest to any caster.
- Engineering skill doesn’t help casting, but that skill can make some nice gadgets which will help.
- A minor heal is always handy for a class that has no heals.
- Draenei get a self-only + 1% to hit chance with spells. Not so useful for leveling, but nice for PvP and nicer for raids, where every little bit helps
- Night Elf
- The Shadowmeld ability has its uses while leveling or PvPing and can dropp aggro in instances and raids. Popping out of hiding to blast away has definite PvP value.
- Being a bit harder to hit is also occasionally nice while leveling or in PvP. Again, not much use in raiding.
- Faster movement while stealthed is great for your fellow Rogues, but you don’t do stealth.
- Dwarf (Cataclysm)
- Stone form is nice in PvP and of occasional use elsewhere.
- Ranged expertise will be useful since your spells can now be dodged. This ability adds in to your Spell HIt rating.
- Dwarves are good with Archeology.
- Worgen (Cataclysm)
- Can periodically move quickly, which is a generally nice ability.
- Crit chance increased, which has general use.
- Worgen are good with skinning.
For PvE? Troll or Orc
For PvP? Troll or Orc for offense, or Undead for “Will of the Forsaken.”
- Will of the Forsaken is a nice PvP ability, but much more situational outside of PvP.
- Cannibalize is useful every now and then, especially if you need to heal while in combat.
- Underwater Breathing is gone with Mists of Pandaria and has been replaced with a Drain Life ability (which also heals.)
- Berserking increases your casting speed for a few seconds, which is always nice.
- Beast Slaying is a nice little bonus for leveling, but pretty useless elsewhere.
- Voodoo shuffle is a help in PvP, but situational elsewhere.
- Ranged Expertise will be nice to keep things from dodging your spells.
- Blood Elf:
- An increase to Enchanting skill is of no direct use, but ‘chanters get some self-only ‘chants which are nice.
- Arcane Torrent is of little use, since it doesn’t return much mana and the opponent has to be close to you for the silence to work and casters will rarely be that close (though DKs might be…)
- Orc (Cataclysm)
- Blood Fury adds to spell power as well as attack power
- No useful mage specific abilities, though the increased resistance to stun does have some general use.
- Increased pet damage might be of interest to Frost Mages.
- Goblin (Cataclysm)
- Increased Haste is generally useful.
- Your spells are far more damaging than the rocket launcher.
- Rocket leap might be a useful escape ability, like an extra Blink.
- An increase to Alchemy skill and increased results from healing potions has its uses.
- Vendor discounts will help with the gold supply and a personal bank has its uses.
- Tauren (nope)
- Bovine discrimination? Racism? General Tauren policy? No mages here. Giant, war-stomping, furry Tauren things can’t be mages at this time.
Talents and a Mage leveling build
At level 10 you get to decide on your specialization (your “spec.”) You get your first talent at level 15. In Mists of Pandaria, the talents work like this:
- You get them at levels 15, 30, 45, 60,, 75, and 90. Each “tier” has three choices, you get to pick one.
- Any spec of mage can pick any one talent from any one tier.
- Talents can be changed like glyphs, one at a time, using one dose of powder/dust/tome that you get from your inscription supply vendor. Your trainer can still wipe all of your talents for you.
- You will have six talents at level 90.
- You do not need to see the trainer when you level, you will automatically acquire the new abilities and open up the new talent slots.
You can see the Mists of Pandaria skills, talents, glyphs, etc., here.
- Mists of Pandaria is changing things. All mage specs should be fine for PvE, while Frost will likely still be the PvP king. All should be fine for leveling.
- Our Generic recommendation for the new mage? Go Frost, for the survival skills, though Fire or Arcane will level just fine and often destroy the opponent before it gets to you. They’re just a bit less forgiving of mistakes.
Mage Abilities by Specialization
With Mists of Pandaria each spec of Mage gets a set of unique abilities that they will gain over time. Only Arcane Mages get Arcane Blast, for example. The following section is for abilities common to all mages. These spec abilities are in addition the regular abilties that all mages get.
|Arcane Spec||Fire Spec||Frost Spec|
|Arcane Charge||10||Fireball||12||Summon Water Elemental||10|
|Arcane Barrage||12||Inferno Blast||24||Fingers of Frost||24|
|Arcane Missiles||24||Critical Mass||36||Icy Veins||36|
|Slow||36||Dragon’s Breath||62||Frozen Orb||62|
|Arcane Power||62||Combustion||77||Brain Freeze||77|
|Mastery: Mana Adept||80||Mastery: Ignite||80||Mastery: Frostburn||80|
|Create and spend arcane charges to build more power and to drive Arcane Barrage.||And there was much burnination. Crit happy. Chance for free Pyroblasts. Lots of Dots.||Chance for free spells, lots of freezing and slowing, more damage against frozen.|
Talents and Glyphs
The Prime Glyphs of Cataclysm are gone, Major glyphs now are responsible for changes in power effectiveness. Minor glyphs are mostly cosmetic or make small, but sometimes useful, changes. You will open up glyph slots at levels 25, 50, and 75 and you will get one major and one minor each time.
The talents are independent of spec, so Fire can happily cast Frost Bomb, for example.
While your abilities define your specialization (spec) the talents will add to your effectiveness and survival. See below the image for descriptions. This build assumes that you are questing, for the most part.
||Glyphs, Major- this is where all your major mods come from. depending on which spec you choose there are other glyphs while can be useful. These three are generally useful.
Minor glyphs are pretty much just cosmetic.
Gear, stats, etc.
The most important statistics for any levelng mage are intellect and stamina. These two stats improve two things that no mage is ever satisfied with: health and mana. Thankfully, it’s easy to find cloth pieces that contain at least one, and often both, of these stats in ample levels.
- Your Int determines your Spellpower, and influences your Crit Rating, but not your mana pool. Int is, by far, you most important stat, for any flavor of mage (and any caster.)
- Stamina – you need enough to stay alive.
- Strength? For what? To hold up a heavy staff? Skip it.
- Same for Agility.
- Spirit, with 4.0 and later, has pretty much zero use.
Secondary Stats -
- Do not sacrifice Int to get any of these stats and don’t worry about them much while leveling, though some hit might be nice, especially if you do dungeons.
- Hit rating is pretty important for all mages, especially in PvE, but it only really starts appearing on your gear at the high end. Eventually you will want:
- 6% Hit for same level mobs or players (PvP.)
- 15% for raid bosses (+3 levels)
- Expertise now applies to ranged attack since such attacks can be dodged (this is new with Mists of Pandaria.) Expertise adds to your Hit rating to determine Spell Hit.
- Spellpower doesn’t appear much on gear until the high end, and even then it’s pretty much only on trinkets and some enchants. Nice when you can get it, it’s second only to Int for all specs.
- Some early gear has Fire/Frost/Arcane damage as a stat. This is good stuff.
- Crit rating – Crit is very important for fire mages since you will get free Pyroblast procs after two consecutive crits with direct damage fire attacks. Crit is less important, though still nice, for the other Mage specs.
- Haste – Another stat appearing mostly at the high end of the level range. Good for all mages.
Find a piece of gear that looks great, but has points in the wrong rating? Reforge it. Reforging lets you take 40% from rating A and change it to rating B. Basically you won’t be able reforge before 80 and you shouldn’t worry about it until you get into end-game PvP and Instances/raids.
If you do decide to reforge while leveling, then…
- go for 6% Hit (Raid bosses will need 15%, mobs/players of the same level require 6%)
- Next: If Fire/Frost then Crit before anything else, otherwise Haste. If you like to swap specs and don’t want to swap gear, then Haste might be a good choice.
You have Arcane Brilliance as a nice Spellpower & Crit buff (at level 58) and you can get scrolls and foods to buff your Stamina.
The better buffed you are the faster your leveling will go. Keep your Armor and Int spells up along with any other buffs appropriate to the situation (such as Fire Ward.)
Foods of certain types buff your Stamina at low levels and other stats at higher levels. Get cooking or keep an eye on the Auction House for interesting foods. Check WoWhead.com for current recipes appropriate to your level. Also, prices and availablility on the AH vary wildly, so keep that in mind when shopping.
Scrolls add to your Stam or Int and are generally very cheap to buy, but with 4.0 they are now considered “battle elixers” and won’t stack with other battle elixers or potions. So buy a bunch of the Auction House or talk to your friendly, neighborhood Inscription expert.
Potions can add to various stats as well as recover health and/or mana. Consider Herbalism and Alchemy to keep yourself in Pots as you level.
Quest Rewards – Every now and then a quest reward will provide a buff or buffing item. An example is the troll in the cage in Camp Taurajo, who will give you a buff in echange for blood shards. In Tranquillen (Ghost Lands) one of the quest givers will give you potions Vs undead in return for undead parts.
Gems and Enchants
You won’t see socketed gear very often, at all, until 60+. If you have the gold to buy gems then stick to Int gems, otherwise skip them. If you’re gemming high end gear then be aware that Mists of Pandaria gems and enchants are much better that the Cataclysm versions. The gems require item level 417 gear, while enchants require iLevel 372 gear. You can hit 85, buy or make your iLevel 377 PvP set and enchant it with the new enchants (if you’re rich.)
Some enchants are handy, but they can be very expensive. How much gold do you have? At lower levels I look for really cheap enchants. Buying the expensive ones is pointless when you will be out of that gear soon.
If you are PvPing in competitive BGs then some enchants, especially Stamina, can be desireable.
The general routine is this: Keep the opposition at maximum range wherever possible and blast away. Use Frost Nova or Ring of Frost when the mob gets too close. Blink, get some range and blast away. Wands have situational use in Cataclysm, but the wand slot is going away in Mists of Pandaria. You will still be able to use one, though. Check them out, they might be worth it if only for the stats.
Something to show you the way as you level, where to go and what to do, helps alot.
Food – Keep well stocked. Regular foods are great if you need to recover a lot of HP. Beverages keep your mana up. Your Create Water & Create Food are free, use them. You can usually find beverages that will recover more mana than the spell in certain level ranges, so grab those when appropriate, but again… the spell is free.
First Aid – An essential skill, too bad there isn’t a “first aid for Mana.” Keep this skill maxed.
Crafting- skip the crafting professions unless you have a ton of cash. If you want to go for it, and you don’t need to gather stuff to sell, then there are a couple of good combiniations:
- Herbalism and Alchemy – You’ll be able to create lots of very useful potions with the stuff that you gather, this keeps your costs way down.
- Skinning and Mining (or Herbalism) -is a great money making combo. Builds Stam and Crit rating, too.
- Tailoring and Enchanting – Enchanting is very expensive to level. You can use it here, though, to disenchant many of the surplus items that you make with tailoring. The mats created will sell for more than the items. Or save the mats and use them for the enchants. By the way, some clothing items sell for nice prices.
Gear – Stam, stam, and more stam. At least until 20 something. Get the biggest bags you can afford. Carry plenty of food and bandaids and beverages. Once your survival isn’t an issue start stacking as much Int as you can.
Bank alt- make a bank alt so you can mail your stuff and get back to leveling. Yes, you can ‘port to the city, but ‘porting back to your leveling area isn’t quite so easy.
Develop eyes in the back of your head, especially on PvP servers. It’s not that you can’t do damage up close, it’s that you can’t take it. See what’s coming before it surpirses you and Learn to love the Frost Nova and Blink combo, especially when sneaky things are about.
Get Your Mage Leveled, the Fast Way
Once you have the right build for your Mage consider a full blown Mage Leveling Guide for the most effective (fastest) leveling. Why? With thousands of quests and a million mobs to grind the trip to the top level can take a while. A long while. Grab an in-game leveling guide and you’re make that looong leveling patch a whole lot easier.
Start from any level and use Dugi’s to blast to the finish. Heck, you can even grab a few levels in the dungeons and/or battleground PvP. Dugi’s guide will figure out your new level and the best spot to continue your questing.
Pick your starting point and the guide will show you where to go and what to do. It automatically updates and advances as you complete tasks and quests, sets a waypoint arrow automatically (always showing you where to go next,) and includes all the important quest info. You will probably never need to look at your quest log again, much less stop mid-play to browse some website.
Note: Dugi’s is fully ready for all new patches and expansions, it’ll never be obsolete.
Grab your copy now and beat all your friends to the level cap.