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The Mage Guide for Shadowlands

Frost MageThe Mage

Students gifted with a keen intellect and unwavering discipline may walk the path of the mage.

The arcane magic available to magi is both great and dangerous, and thus is revealed only to the most devoted practitioners.

To avoid interference with their spellcasting, magi wear only cloth armor, but arcane shields and enchantments give them additional protection. To keep enemies at bay, magi can summon bursts of fire to incinerate distant targets and cause entire areas to erupt, setting groups of foes ablaze. Source

This page is intended as an overview of Mages in general. For specific info on specs, rotations, etc. see the links just below.

Mage Guide

Other Mage Guides


The Mage

Blood Elf Fire MageMages 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.

While we DO have shields and some defensive measures, we mainly rely on ‘not getting hit,’ either by constant movement, blinking, invisibility, crowd control, and massive burst damage. We’re truly Glass Cannons

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Some Patch Notes for Mages

Shadowlands is here. Stats change, abilities change, talents change, item levels change, almost everything changes to some degree with each expansion. and now the actual levels will be changed. SLAM! Down to 50. And gain another ten while leveling through Shadowlands.

Wowhead has a massive page on the Mage changes, new abilities, and so on. So does Icy Veins.

Here’s more, and keep in mind that these are pre-beta pieces.

Mage Conduits in Shadowlands:

What they are and how they work.

Mage Legendaries in Shadowlands


Which Race Should Your Mage Pick?

Pandaren Mage
Pandaren Mage

As of Cataclysm, the only race that cannot be a mage is the Tauren. in BFA they are joined by the Highmountain Tauren.

Every other race can join the mage club.

Which race is best? For what? 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.

According to World of Graphs, Dec 20, 2019, the top four PvP races, in order, are: Human, Orc, Undead, Troll.

For just blasting away in raids and such?

  • Draenei have higher Int, so more spellpower.
  • Lightforged Draenei have a nice area attack.
  • Void Elves have a small buff that appears randomly, adding 5% damage.
  • Dark Iron Dwarves have the Fireblood, which greatly increases Int for a few seconds.
  • Orcs and Mag’har Orcs have nice offensive buffs, as do Trolls.
  • Zandalari trolls have various Loa, and get added damage through that.

Skill counts for more a lot more than race, though, so play what you like.

You can see a detailed list of all the Mage races here, on our leveling page.



Mage Specs and Abilities

Each of these groups of spells are unique to the particular spec. Only Arcane Mages get Arcane Blast, for example.

At level 10 you will pick one of the three specializations (specs.) Mage specs are divided into three primary elements, Arcane, Fire, and Frost, each possessing far more than simple visual difference.

You can change your spec at any time you are out of combat. DO some leveling as Fire, hope into a dungeon as Arcane, level a bit more as Arcane, and switch to Frost for some PvP or just a different experience. So special anything is required.

You can se a list of all the general abilities and specialization abilities on our Mage leveling page, here.

Undead Mage
Death to the Living!

Arcane is seen by some as a raiding spec, 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, and/or really know what you’re doing, then PvP can be fun.

Arcane Mage Leveling

Create and spend arcane charges to build more power and to drive Arcane Barrage and Evocation

Arcane is a spec that was simply not designed for leveling, prior to 4.0. With 4.0 it became 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 our Arcane DPS page, for raiding mages, or our Arcane PvP page for laying waste to other players.

Leveling? Then see our Mage leveling guide or our recommended in-game leveling guide, here.

Fire Spec

And there was much burnination. Crit happy. Chance for free Pyroblasts. Lots of Dots.

Fire is the burst tree, boasting massive amounts of damage including more than a few incapacitation abilities/augmentation.  This comes from Abilities such as Pyroblast  (procs from crits,) and Dragon’s Breath, a frontal cone disorientation spell.

If you’re looking for anything from a good leveling build to raiding to battleground PvP, 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 (mainly) battleground PvP though Frost is considered the PvP spec. Still, Fire is making a good show in the Arenas.

The one catch with Fire is that it’s very crit dependent and crits are random. This is good when you’re lucky 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.

For more detailed info, including rotations and such, see our Fire DPS and Fire PvP guides. If you’re leveling your mage then see our Mage leveling guide or our recommended leveling guide, here.

Frost Spec

Chance for free spells, lots of freezing and slowing, more damage against frozen.

Frost represents a combination of Fire and Arcane, less burst damage than fire and less sustained DPS than arcane, especially with shatter (which only Frost now gets) and a couple more increased critical damage talents.  The survivability and crowd control aspect of Frost make it a favorite PvP and leveling spec.

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 more opportunities to, at the very least, live through a given fight, if not defeat the opponent outright.

Frost is also a decent leveling spec, 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 Mage Leveling

Leveling as frost will be likely similar to fire, 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.

Also see our Frost DPS and Frost PvP pages. If you’re leveling your mage then see our Mage leveling guide or our recommended leveling guide, here.



Mage PvP

With the release of WoW 4.0 (Shadowlands is 9.0) Frost became a superb PvP build for mages, combining crowd control, very good survivability, and solid damage. The other specs have less of the first two, but they also do plenty of damage, making all three trees at least decent in battleground PvP.

You must focus on dealing as much damage as possible as early as possible to almost every class to be effective in PvP, plus be aware of all of your own escapes, shields, and CC abilities. And you must be able to fire them off as you need them, which out looking for them or forgetting them.

Put your abilities into keybinds and learn them. Then, once you have that down, an intimate knowledge of the other classes is very desirable.

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 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.

Above all, practice. Blast the target dummies in your downtime so that you have a handle on your routines. Include you interrupts, CC, escapes, and any other useful abilities you have. The more 2nd nature your spell-casting and escaping, the better off you’ll be.

Skill Capped to be a more lethal Mage
Check out Skill-Capped for more PvP Magery.



Stats for Mages

While you’re leveling you won’t have to worry so much about the secondary stats (Ok, Pyros might want to grab as much Crit as they can, especially while leveling.) Just grab gear with Int and Stam and you’re good. At max level you can start thinking more about stats and gems and enchants and so on.

Note that Shadowlands brings a diminishing returns thing to stats.

Unlike previous expansions, all secondary stats, Critical Strike, Haste, Mastery, and Versatility, will now have diminishing returns once you’ve stacked too much of a given stat.

This change only happens with stats gained from Rating conversion, so flat gains like Bloodlust/ Heroism aren’t affected by this change.

In short, for example: after reaching 30% received from gear of any secondary stat, it takes increasingly more rating to increase another % of that stat from your gear.

This means that if you have, let’s say, 40% haste before the change was implemented, with it you’ll only have 39% haste.

Also, there’s a new cap on how much of a single secondary stat you are able to obtain from gear. This cap is set to 126% right now, everything beyond that is ignored and wasted.  (source)

Naturally, the exact numbers will change over time, but that is the basic idea. Who knows, maybe the whole idea will be trashed at some point.

The Stats:

    • Intellect adds directly to your SpellPower and adds a small bonus to crit with your spells. With the possible exception of Fire, Int is your #1 stat.
    • 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.
    • Crit rating – Crits do 200% total damage (150% in PvP.) Fire can’t get enough of it and it’s a decent stat for the others, as well.
    • Haste speeds up everything you do. Your casting is faster, your “over time” spells burn faster, your mana returns faster, etc. It’s a nice stat for all mages.
    • Mastery improves some aspect of what you do. Arcane loves it, Fire is Ok with it, and Frost would rather get rid of it.
    • Versatility is a generally good stat. It increases any damage done and, at half value, reduces incoming damage.
    • Agility and Strength are useless for mages.

You get get more detailed info on your own spec on one of these pages.


Gems for Mages

Can you afford those nice gems? If not, then go here, grab this guide, and start earning some serious gold.

In Warlods and BFA and Shadowlands the Stats Squish is in. This means that gems have a fraction of their earlier values. The proportional values of the gems to the rest of your gear, also squished, will be very close to what it was before.

In Shadowlands the level squish is in, so max level is 60, and there is an appropriate gear/item level squishing. .

There are no socket colors, all gems fit all sockets. Sockets are actually pretty uncommon and are random. When you find one drop something like Leviathan’s Eye of Intellect into it.

If you’re travelling the lands of Mechagon, you might pick up punchcards instead of gems for certain trinkets with card slots. Such as Pocket Sized Computation Device. A couple of example cards are:

  • red card: Cyclotronic Blast: You can channel a cyclotronic blast, dealing 21142 damage every 0.5 sec for 2.5 sec. Not bad at all.
  • yellow card: Forceful Logic Board: +171 Critical Strike, +57 Random Stat. Naturally Fire Mages will want this one.
  • Blue card: Supplemental Oxygenation Device: Your lung capacity is increased by 1000%, perfect for those long underwater swims.

Gem Note: Gem sockets are uncommon on dropped gear and none of the vendor gear comes with sockets. All sockets will appear on gear that’s dropped, in a box, or otherwise won/looted. If you’re max level in BFA and are working on upgrading Mother, you will, for a ton of Corrupted Mementos, be able to buy an item that will add a gem socket to your gear. It’s the Gouged eye.

Your Mage bonus adds to any Int gem bonuses, making them worth 5% more Int.


Mage Enchantments

Various enchants still exist, though you cannot enchant everything like you could way back when.

Note that enchants can be added to low level gear. So your level 1 Mage, starting out in Heirloom gear, can apply enchants to that gear and use it through the leveling process.

Also note that Shadowlands enchants require you to be at least level 50.

Since the enchants are going to be fairly expensive I don’t recommend using them on gear you will not be keeping for at least while. Some of the BFA enchants are:

The lower level enchants will be good for leveling, but will be in-active into Legion and BFA. Hover over the item link to see the tooltip.

Some Mage Enchantments for older gear.
Weapon Enchant Weapon – Jade Spirit
Enchant Weapon – Windsong
Enchant Weapon – Glorious Tyranny
Living Steel Weapon Chain
Off Hand: Enchant Off-Hand – Major Intellect
Shoulders Greater Crane Wing Inscription
Cloak Enchant Cloak – Superior Intellect
Chest Enchant Chest – Glorious Stats
Bracers Enchant Bracer – Super Intellect
Gloves Enchant Gloves – Superior Mastery
Belt Livingsteel Belt Buckle
Leggings Greater Cerulean Spellthread
Boots Enchant Boots – Greater Precison
Enchant Boots – Pandaren’s Step
Enchant Boots – Greater Haste



Mage Professions

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 higher level area and beyond. On the other hand, if you’re decked out in heirlooms…

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. 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 as of Warlords of Draenor all the profession bonuses are dead. No more +Int cloak enchant for you tailors. Once upon a time the professions gave bonus perks. Those are gone.

  • Alchemy will keep you in mana and healing potions, as well as all sorts of other potions, elixers, etc. 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 staves and the shoulder inscriptions, not to mention glyphs and fortune cards.
  • Jewelcrafting  is nice for making gems, jewelry, and shiny things, including gemmed panther mounts.
  • Blacksmithing – Nothing much here for you.
  • Engineering – Engineering enchants do not overwrite the Enchanting enchants. Engie gadgets sometimes suffer from the occasional “interesting” side-effects. Keep this in mind if you go with this skill.
    • Nitro Boosts are applied to your belt.
    • Lightweight head armor with special engineering sockets. You can choose from different tinker’s gears, each granting  some pts of some secondary stat, such as Crit.
  • Enchantingyou can make all those enchants, plus enchants for rings and neck items.
  • LeatherworkingNothing here for mages. Move along.
  • First Aid has died. Get bandages from tailors and potions form Alchemists.
  • Cooking is very useful with all the healing and buffing foods it provides.
  • Herbalism, Mining, and skinning are good skills to have for gold creation or to feed one of the above crafts. Herbalism and mining also provide XP while you level up.


The Fastest Mage Leveling

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Once you have the right build in mind for your Mage your next step is to get 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 highest levels can take awhile. A long while. Even in Shadowlands.  An in-game leveling guide makes the whole trek a whole lot easier.

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…).

Zygor’s Guide 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. Zygor 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 Zygor will figure out where you are and show you the best place to go next, automatically.

Whether you’re brand new to WoW, or covered from head to toe in Heirlooms, Zygor will show you the way to get leveled as fast as possible.

Zygor’s always fully updated for the latest patches of every expansion, including Shadowlands. 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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