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Mage Class Guide
The Gotwarcraft Mage Guide
for Cataclysm



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The Mage

Mages are the arbiters of Fire, Frost, and the Arcane.  They are wielders of mystical energies beyond all natural comprehension, and sheep-happy, deep freezing, arcane blasting PvP maniacs if my battlegrounds experiences count for anything, but above all, mages are clean and simple fun.

Mages are cloth wearers, much like Warlocks and Priests, however unlike both these classes we do not possess the adequate survivability to make up for our lack of armor, no healing and no massive health pools.  Instead we rely entirely on ‘not getting hit,’ either by constant movement, blinking, invisibility, crowd control, and massive burst damage. We're truly Glass Cannons

This potentially crosses over into PvE woes as well, with the frequency of AoE boss fights, in Wrath of the Lich King, dictating that we be a little more careful in case the tank loses a few mobs to our superior damage. To make yourself useful you’ll need to possess enough skill to make your positive qualities shine above being a simple damage machine.




So far as tradeskills go, it’s a fairly obvious choice as to what you’ll be picking up if you want to maximize your gear levels the instant you hit max level, and that would be Tailoring.  Tailoring gives us not only consistent and useful upgrades in the lower levels, but increasingly rewarding instance level gear upgrades once you venture into Outland and beyond.

Multiple sets of cloth armor are better than instance gear of the same level and more accessible even for a brand new 60, 70. or 85. All it takes is a high, if not maxed out, tailoring skill by the time you reach the appropriate level.  Since tailoring doesn’t possess any specific synergies tradeskill wise, you can always grab mining or some other gathering profession to aid funding your primary crafting abilities. Enchanting will let you disenchant tailored items that you don't want to try and sell or otherwise dispose of. You can then use or sell the Enchanting mats.

Keep in mind that all the crafting skills are very expensive to level up, especially in Cataclysm and beyond. If you're going to work on the expensive tailoring or brutally expensive Enchanting then you will need to have a pretty solid gold stash. If you don't have that, then you may have to skip them, but drop Enchanting first.

Another option is to spend some time farming appropriate materials.

Other useful skills and min/maxing:

Note that in Mists of Pandaria the profession bonuses will be much higher.

  • Alchemy will keep you in mana and healing potions, as well as all sorts of other potions, elixers, etc. You get more effect from consuming your own potions. The top buffing potions that you make will provide an addition 80 Int. Alchemists can also create a pretty nice trinket which provides additional healing and mana from effects which restore those.
  • Inscription has several "off-hand" items that are very nice, as well as high-end shoulder inscriptions. Felfire Inscription adds 80 Int over Greater Inscription of Charged Lodestone, which also saves you some reputation farming
  • Jewelcrafting has some nice, self-only, gems. These provide 67 Int each and you can load three of them. Patch 4.3 introduced epic gems providing +50 Int each, which seems to discount JCs value somewhat, but those gems are very expensive.
  • Blacksmithing - The two additional sockets (Socket Bracer and Socket Gloves) result in 80 Int (+100 with the patch 4.3 epic gems.) Otherwise you have little use for the weapons and the plate armor. You can make keys to open locks, however.
  • Engineering - Engineering enchants do not overwrite the Enchanting enchants. Engie gadgets suffer from the occasional "interesting" side-effects. Keep this in mind if you go with this skill.
    • Synapse Springs: 480 Int for 10 sec on a 1 min cooldown - This is a cooldown and not a random proc, so fire it off in those burst phases.
    • Nitro Boosts have their crit bonus removed and are applied to your belt.
    • Lightweight Bio-Optic Killshades with special engineering sockets. You can choose from different cogwheels, each granting 208 of a different (yellow-gem) combat stat (eg: Resilience, Crit.)
  • Enchanting - 2x Enchant Ring - Intellect for another 80 Int.
  • Leatherworking - Draconic Embossment - Intellect: Provides 130 Int instead of 65 Crit or 65 Haste.
  • First Aid is essential, keep it maxed at all times.
  • Cooking is very useful with all the healing and buffing foods it provides.
  • Herbalism is a nice cash creating skill and also fuels Inscription and Alchemy. It will also give you a small heal ability, Lifeblood: 480 Haste for 20 sec on a 2 min cooldown plus the HoT.
  • Mining and skinning are good skills to have for gold creation. Skinning offers +80 crit rating, mining offers 120 Stam.



What Race Should You Be?

Wtih Cataclysm, the only race that cannot be a mage is the Tauren. This is also true in Mists of Pandaria. Yes, that means that Pandarens can be mages.

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 & stealth detect,) though Gnomes & Undead have their uses.

Skill counts for more than race, though. Play what you like.


Is there Zen in Magery? We'll find out in Mists of Pandaria. Pandarens are listed here since they get to choose, once they leave the starting area, whether they will join Horde or Alliance.

  • Can stun enemies with a quick strike of their hand. Might have situational use for a Mage.
  • Rested (as from an Inn) XP lasts longer
  • Increased benefits from food buffs
  • Good at Cooking.
  • “Bouncy,” so take less falling damage, just in case you dont cast Slow Fall.


For the Alliance, the Draenei may be best for Raiding (with their +1% to hit chance,) while Humans and Gnomes are best for PvP.

  • Human:
    • Good for PvP with their Escape ability. Also allows the use of two DPS trinkets.
    • Diplomacy is nice if you are going to be gaining faction at any point and since so much past level 60 is a faction grind... Mists of Pandaria will introduce even more factions.
    • Spirit is now useless for mages, and so is the Human's increased Spirit.
    • Mages have no use for the expertise with axe and mace.

  • Gnome:
    • As is true for Humans, Gnomes have an Escape Artist skill and their small size is not to be scoffed at. It makes them a bit harder to see in the heat of a (PvP) fight and a bit harder on people who click their targets.
    • Gnomes 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.
    • Also, as with Humans, Gnome mages have no use for Expertise with daggers and swords.

  • Draenei:
    • 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 for raids, where every little bit helps (since you'll want a total of 17% hit.)

  • Night Elf
    • Their Shadowmeld ability has its uses while leveling or PvPing. In instances and raids it will drop the aggro you picked up until you unmeld. Hopefully the tank has picked the mob(s) up by then. (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
    • Stone form is nice in PvP and of occasional use elsewhere. It also reduced damage by 10%, which is of some benefit in those "Oh Rats!" situations.
    • Again, we don't care about the weapon expertise.

  • Worgen
    • Can periodically move quickly, which is a generally nice ability.
    • Crit chance increased, which is nice, especially for Fire.


For PvE? Troll or Orc
For PvP? Troll or Orc for offense, or Undead for "Will of the Forsaken."

  • Undead:
    • 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 or "rub it in" to some player you just killed.
    • Underwater Breathing is useful for some quests, especially in Northrend.

  • Troll:
    • Berserking increases casting speed by 20% for a few seconds. Very nice, even though many of our spells are instant.
    • Beast Slaying is a nice little bonus for leveling, but pretty useless elsewhere.
    • Voodoo shuffle is a help in PvP, but situational elsewhere.

  • 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...) On the other hand, if you're bouncing in to drop a Frost Nova then an AT might not be a bad thing to throw in along with it.

  • Orc
    • 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.
    • Expertise with axes isn't interesting to us.

  • Goblin
    • Increased Haste is generally useful.
    • Your spells are far more damaging than the rocket launcher.
    • Rocket leap is a useful escape ability, like an extra Blink.
    • An increase to Alchemy skill and increased results from healing potions 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.


Mage Class Guide

Mage Abilities

With 4.0 there is no hybridization worthy of the name. At level 10 you will pick one of the three specializations and you will be locked into that spec until you have spent 31 points, after which you can pick talents from the other specs. There are 41 talent points to be had at level 85, 36 at 80, which means that your most hybridized build will be something like 31/10/0.

Also, each spec (for any class) has some abilities unique to that class, once such being Mastery, which is trainable at level 80 and improves some aspect of your spec. For example, Fire's Mastery Flashburn increases the periodic (Damage over Time) effects of their spells.

Mage specs are divided into three primary elements, Arcane, Fire, and Frost, each possessing far more than simple visual difference. 


Arcane Spec

Arcane is seen by some as a raiding tree, largely due to the high mana constraints placed on raiding mages (from 5-10 minute long fights) as opposed to PvP, where high burst is favored over consistency. The squishiest of mages, Arcane PvP is challenging. Still, they can do a lot of damage and if you are part of a decent team, or really know what you're doing, then PvP can be great fun.

Arcane used to be something of a utility tree, however when maxed out the arcane abilities also extend to massive burst damage with talents such as Arcane Power, and a variety of other mixed damage increasers/mana regeneration abilities.

The Arcane Spec abilities are:

  • Arcane Barrage - Launches bolts of arcane energy at the enemy target, causing Arcane damage. 12% of base mana, 40 yd range, Instant cast, 5 sec cooldown
  • Arcane Specialization, Passive - Increases the damage of your Arcane spells by 25%.
  • Mastery: Mana Adept - Increases all spell damage done by up to 12%, based on the amount of mana the Mage has unspent. Each point of Mastery increases damage done by up to an additional 1.5%. Instant

Arcane Mage Leveling

Arcane is a spec that was simply not designed for leveling, prior to 4.0. With 4.0 it's a lot less painful than it used to be and Arcane is a viable and fun leveling spec with big numbers and cool stuff. Arcane mages do very well in instances (Dungeon Leveling.)

For more about the Arcane spec, see...

Fire Spec

The original Burninator

Fire is the burst tree, boasting massive amounts of damage including more than a few incapacitation abilities/augmentation.  This comes from talents such as impact (chance to stun on fireball impact,) and Dragon’s Breath, a frontal cone disorientation spell. With 4.0 fire seems to be the "burn everything in sight" and "run and gun" mage spec. With certain talents in place the Fire Mage can cast a lot of damage while constantly moving.

Fire is the burst damage tree, massive damages, pyroblasts, etc.  If you’re looking for anything from a
good leveling build to raiding, then fire is one of the easier choices.  Most styles of play can be compensated for by picking up the generally viable talents in this tree, it’s all a matter of how you use them.

By properly gearing yourself you can fit literally almost any situation as fire, it presents the range and damage efficiency required for raiding, the burst potential desperately needed in PvP, and with some good spell rotation becomes an extremely efficient grinding machine.

Fire is quite viable in PvP, especially with patch 4.3, though Frost is considered the PvP spec.

The FIre Spec abilities are:

  • Pyroblast - Hurls an immense fiery boulder for good damage. It was buffed in 4.3
  • Fire Specialization, Passive - Increases the damage of your Fire spells by 25%.
  • Mastery: Flashburn - Increases the damage done by all your periodic fire damage. Each point of Mastery increases periodic damage done by an additional %.

The one catch with Fire is that it's very crit dependent. This is good when you're luck and frustrating when the procs don't happen.

Fire Mage Leveling

Going fire as your primary talent line-up while leveling is probably the best idea for those new to the mage class, it’s simple, easily learned, and configured for any setup, and eliminates quite a bit of the problems you can run into when trying the alternative leveling strategies inherent in the other talent builds.

Start out with Pyroblast and, more often than not, you'll never be touched. Especially when Hot Streak procs.

Our Fire Mage guide has more and you can also see our Fire DPS and Fire PvP guides. If you're leveling your mage then see our Mage leveling guide or our recommended 1-85 leveling guide, here.

Frost Spec

Frost represents a combination of Fire and Arcane, less burst damage than fire andless sustained DPS than arcane, especially with shatter and a couple more increased critical damage talents.  Additionally it has some of the mana regeneration of arcane, not completely as effective, but still enough to make it worthwhile. The survivability and crowd contral aspect of Front make it a favorite PvP and leveling spec. With the release of WoW 4.0 Frost was and is doing very well in PvP.

Frost is probably the best starting PvP build for an experimenting Mage due to how much more forgiving it can be.  By possessing more than a few tools to increase your life-span you’ll find yourself in the possession of far more opportunities to, at the very least, live through a given fight, if not defeat the opponent outright.

Frost is also an equally effective leveling build comparative to fire, instead of killing monsters before they can get to you, you kill them via a small amount of kiting if necessary augmented by the frost spell's snare effects.

Frost's special abilities are:

  • Frost Specialization - Passive - Increases the damage of your Frost spells by 25%.
  • Summon Water Elemental - Summon a Water Elemental to fight for the caster.
  • Mastery: Frostburn - All your spells deal increased damage against Frozen targets. Each point of Mastery increases damage by an additional%.

Frost Mage Leveling

Leveling as frost will be likely similar speeds to fire, if not slightly faster, depending on your degree of skill concerning frost's primary calling card, snares and roots.  Frost mages are all about mobility, survivability, and in many cases AoE grinding as opposed to fire's strictly "one at a time" kill scheme.

Frost deals maximum damage when the target is frozen, big secret right there, so obviously the more the target is frozen, the more criticals you throw out, the higher damage dealt overall, etc.  This would be why you grab all the talents related to freezing opponents, as well as shatter and a few others, to make you a monster of massive critical strikes, rivaling fire burst damage when you hit lucky streaks.

Due to your increased survivability via ice barrier and so on, you can easily handle multiple pulls of two-three mobs and through proper usage of abilities take them all down quite a bit faster than a fire build as well.  Again, this is all about how well you control your mage.

Also see our Frost Mage guide as well as our Frost DPS and Frost PvP pages. If you're leveling your mage then see our Mage leveling guide or our recommended 1-85 leveling guide, here.



As I mentioned near the start of the guide, mages are great fun at level 85, it’s getting there that can sometimes be a tiny bit painful.  It's the combination of being squishy and having too many mobs in melee range. Especially on the PvP server with that rogue tracking you. Sit to drink only to find yourself being subject to a stealth attack that wipes out most of your health before you can stand. (There's a reason that you see so many mages jumping about, spamming Frost Nova and Arcane Explosion . )

Mana is thankfully no longer a real issue, which is a big help. It used to be that you'd kill a mob or too then have to get that mana back.

Still, you have a lot of things going for you: portals to major cities, food and water summoning, and you can continue killing for an indefinite period of time due to the major lack of gear dependency.

I found myself many times completing quests with every last piece of gear broken without  having a noticeable slowdown in killing speed, it can be just that easy for mages as unlike every other class they are almost completely self-supporting.

The Stats:

  • Intellect adds directly to your mana pool and adds a small bonus to crit with your spells. You can never have a mana pool that's too big. With 4.0 your Int also directly adds to your spellpower and therefore Int is now the #1 stat for all mages.
  • Stamina is more important for PvP than raiding or leveling, but you need enough to survive in any given situation. Stack it at low levels, at higher levels your gear will provide enough.
  • Spell Power - you can never have enough, but it now only appears on some gear.
  • Crit rating - as with Spell Power you can never have enough, especially for Fire.
  • Hit Rating - Very important for raiding, less for PvP and leveling. If raiding you will want to get into the 15-17% range, 4% is fine for PvP and leveling. Remember that Draenei get a free 1%.
    • 17% is a 446 Hit rating at level 80
    • at level 85, 1742 rating is required.
    • The hit cap for raid bosses is 17%, or 1742 rating points
  • Direct Damage - some gear has +X fire/frost/arcane damage. While you will give up Stamina or Int, it is a nice add to your basic damage type.
  • Resilience - reduces the damage caused by other players, but it no longer reduces their crit chance against you. Essential for PvP, Res. has zero value outside of PvP.
  • Spirit is useless for a mage.
  • Agility is useless for a mage.
  • Strength is useless for a mage.


Mage Enchantments - These apply to any spec of mage.

The top enchants are often expensive, feel free to drop down to something less expensive or just work a bit more to earn more gold. Enchants in Mists of Pandaria will be much more powerful.


All mages will be fitting Brilliant gems into all slots, unless the socket bonus is a very high Int bonus.

Leveling Tips

  • There are times when having a wand is nice, though it's far from essential. Get one with good stats, if you can, such as Int and Stam.
  • Learn to kite and constantly practice your snares and roots.
  • Make sure you have the biggest bags you can afford.
  • Keep an eye out for Rogues. ;) By the way, if you attack the Rogue (while he's leveling or something) and you don't kill him I don't recommend sitting to eat/drink unless you're in a safe place, because he is tracking you. Many mages have made that mistake.

This section is only an overview of Mage leveling, check out our Mage Leveling Guide for more information.

Or, to get leveled really fast:

wow warcraft alliance horde cataclysm leveling guide


Mage PvP

Mage PvP Builds

With the release of WoW 4.0 Frost became a superb PvP build for mages, combining crowd control, very good survivability, and major damage. The other trees have less of the first two, but they also do plenty of damage, making all three trees at least decent in PvP.

With patch 4.3 Fire got some buffs and is now more interesting. It doesnt have Frost's control and survivability, but it does more damage and can be a blast to play.

Get yourself leveled ASAP and let us know!

That said, here are some good starting points for your PvP mage:

If you want to be successful in WoW PvP you must prepared for your opponent. This is especially important for Mages who fight with their mana more than their health. When you run out of mana, you are incapable of mitigating damage any longer, crowd controlling, or doing much of anything else.

Mage PvP Guides are almost all designed to tell you that you must focus on dealing as much damage as possible as early as possible to almost every class to be effective in PvP. As far as mana goes, a good talent selection and the use of Mage Armor should make that a non-issue.

But, there are exceptions to the rule – for Frost Mages especially you will find that there is a great deal more survivability in your spec because of the power of spells like Ice Block and Frost Nova. You can usually withstand almost double the damage as your counterparts – of course your burst damage potential is greatly diminished (barring flavor of the month effects,) but for those who would rather be more deliberate and strategic in battle this is the route to go.

Be aware of what your opponents can do. If you're not aware of what a Subtlety Rogue can do then he'll catch you by surprise and you'll be way down in HP, silenced, stunned, and mostly locked up. If you are aware then you can plan your counters.

Unlike practice and trial and error, a good Mage PvP Guide works with the expertise of past players to provide a complete outlook on the various methods you will use to effectively defeat any opponent in the game, even those such as the Warlock who are seemingly built to kill Mages.

One you have an idea of what to do then endless practice is the best way to get good. At one point Frost might called the Faceroll build, because it has all the tools and can work very well. Next week may be different. If you have the skill to use all the tools, not just Ice Lance, then you'll be that much better when the "flavor of the month" changes to some other class/build.

The truth is that while a Mage can be highly effective in PvP, they are among the hardest classes to master. There is less room for error which makes mistakes that much more lethal.

Learn how your mage can start dominating the battlefield and achieve much higher arean ranking, right here.


1-85 Mage Leveling Guide

Once you have the right build in mind for your Mage your next step is to get a full blown 1-85 Mage leveling guide for the most effective (fastest) leveling. Why? With thousands of quests and a million mobs to grind the trip to the highest levels can take awhile. A long while. An in-game leveling guide, semi-automates the whole leveling path for your mage, from start to finish.

Pick your starting point and the guide will show you where to go, what to do, and keep track of your objectives (such as Kill X of...). 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. Dugi's does this even if you've gained levels in the dungeons or PvP Battlegrounds. Leave off the questing to gain a few levels elsewhere, then come back and Dugi'ss will figure out where you are and show you the best place to go next, automatically.

Dugi's is fully updated for the latest patches of every expansion. With it you will probably never need to look at your quest log again, much less browse some website. Grab your copy here and get leveled fast.


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