Leveling Through Misandry – 50 to 60

Misandry enjoys the view in Ogrimmar from her mount.
Levels 1-10
Levels 11-20
Levels 20-30
Levels 30-40
Levels 40-50

We’re growing up so fast, mages. It seems like just yesterday we were starting out at level 1 in a broken world. Now we’re going to be 60 and in an even more broken world, except this time the quest rewards and zone flow hasn’t really been updated in the slightest. But we’re still going to have fun, right?

Spells

The rate at which you learn new spells of significance is going to slow down once you hit 50 or 60 and get into the outer expansions. Still, as you move to Outlands-range, you’ll get a couple of helpful spells before you leave. First up at level 52 is Blizzard. Blizzard is the AOE you will be using exclusively if you’re a frost mage due to awesome talents you get, and the so-so AOE you use when you’re Arcane – pair it with Presence of Mind (when you talent into it) and then use the buff to make it stronger, then cast an instant Flamestrike. Later on, Arcane Explosion will be strong enough to use in most situations where you can survive being in melee. But I digress. Horde mages in particular also get Teleport: Stonard and Portal: Stonard at this point, meaning you can successfully pull off such hilarious mage games as Portal Roulette*.

Frost Armor comes in at 54 – this is an essential for low-level PVP, especially around melee. It applies a slow to mobs or other players that attack you, as well as makes them hit slower. It also gives you 15 percent damage reduction. Booyah! Frost Armor plus any of your shields can keep you from taking a lot of deadlier hits from an enemy. However, if you are just leveling against mobs, I’d suggesting using Molten Armor and blow them up faster instead. Frostfire Bolt is shortly after at 56. Don’t be confused by this spell unless you are Frost. You will never use it as Arcane or Fire except possibly on the very rare occasions you come across a Fire AND Arcane resistant mob. Frost mages use this spell exclusively when they get Brain Freeze procs – up until this point you’ve been using Fireball. Swap Fireball off your bars and put Frostfire Bolt there now for easy access when you get a proc.

And what feels like far too late in the game, you finally get Arcane Brilliance at level 58. It feels like other classes get their proper group buffs very early on, so I wonder why Arcane Brilliance gets pushed back so far. Is it a relic of pre-leveling changes? Who knows. But now you can buff yourself or your party members with extra mana and spellpower. This buff used to be straight intellect but when the SP/INT change went into the game that was seen as a little too powerful.

Unlike every other bracket where you’ve gotten a powerful spell at the end, 60 has no new spells. However, you do have the ability to learn new versions of Polymorph if you choose to track them down. Beware though – some of them are costly, hard-to-get-to, rare, or holiday-related (x2).

Talents

It feels weird to backtrack a lot with talents, but picking talents up when they become useful by the virtue of getting the spells they enhance is a good thing, so don’t feel bad if your talent acquisitions feel similarly non-linear. I pushed ahead in Frost to pick up Ice Barrier. Ice Barrier is the only shield you will use as Frost just because it outstrips Mana Shield on every conceivable level. 30 second cooldown, but it shields you for a minute if the damage doesn’t destroy it, and doesn’t burn through your mana doing so. Its cooldown can also be reset using Cold Snap as well. Once you get Blizzard at 52, you can put full points into Ice Shards. This helps as you gain enough momentum to grind out numerous quest mobs at once; being able to slow them significantly as well as extend your reach on Ice Lance is beneficial to the solo player. I dropped a point into Improved Freeze. Whether you do 2 points in this, or put your last point into Enduring Winter is your choice. I opted for one point into Enduring Winter because I felt like I was chugging a little hard on mana in dungeons. Having your elemental being able to generate Fingers of Frost procs by using Freeze is a big boost to your DPS, but having mana cost reduction and group mana regen in dungeons (with the GO GO GO attitude) is also nice as well. You’ll be filling Improved Freeze in full in your next bracket, so whichever your choose is whatever feels more comfortable for your style of play right now. Your spec should look like this: (0/0/26).

Fire seems to be geared a lot more towards group play when you get down the tree (0/26/0) and I found myself sort of up a wall considering people who do other things like PVP or solo quest. First point goes into Dragon’s Breath, naturally. It is your short-range instant cast cone spell for Fire, much like Cone of Cold. Instead of slowing a mob, however, it will disorient it. This has a nice temporary crowd control effect (like Blind for rogues) but also can interrupt spell-casting if your timing is exceptional. Next, fill out Improved Flamestrike, as the extra Flamestrikes while casting Blastwave are a nice boost to your DPS. However, Molten Fury is only really helpful to people who are pelting high health mobs that live a long while (see: elites/bosses) and therefore make this “Execute” mechanic work. I dropped one point into it for now and put one point into Critical Mass, which while is technically good for everyone in your group, will help your own personal DPS later on. It’s really a hard sell. If you strictly solo quest, you might want to just take the 2 extra points and put them into Blazing Speed for now. You’ll have to do more respeccing when you reach higher levels, but it might be worth it if you like having fun talents.

The way that Arcane plays out near the end of the tree is similar; however, you don’t get any fun group buffs until a little later. Slow is your latest talent acquisition and it works similar to how Frostbolt does in that it slows down mobs or players you apply it to, however, it is a separately casted spell. For those of you who do not PVP, dropping two more points into Nether Vortex seems to make more sense, even if it is redundant. This way you get the slowing effect on top of your arcane blast spell. Easy peasy. The last two points go into Arcane Potency, which is a flat critical strike buff to your spells after you use Presence of Mind (making PoM + Blizzard/Flamestrike a really nice AOE combo if you aren’t dedicated to using Arcane Explosion) or gain Clearcasting. Sure, boring talents for the most part, but definitely useful. (26/0/0)

Glyphs

If you were paying attention to the links I posted for talents this time around, you’d notice that I included what glyph choices you should be making now that you unlocked an extra set of glyphs at level 50. As always, my patterns for picking out glyphs for your Prime, Major and Minor slots tend to work thusly – Prime glyph should now boost your second-most powerful spell, Major should enhance your second-most useful utility spell, and Minor should be for fun or extra usefulness.

Prime Glyph

  • Glyph of Frostfire (Frost) – Additional damage as well as a DoT makes this a great choice for your Brain Freeze spell.
  • Glyph of Pyroblast (Fire) – Similar to why I chose Frostfire Bolt for frost, adding critical strike chance to Pyroblast makes this attractive for additional Hot Streaks.
  • Glyph of Arcane Missiles (Arcane) – It is your second highest casted spell and now it will crit for more. Arcane Barrage looks like an attractive choice, but overall, it is not worth it as you move into higher levels.

Major Glyph

  • Glyph of Ice Barrier (Frost) – Additional damage reduction from Barrier is a nice treat.
  • Glyph of Dragon’s Breath (Fire) – Reducing the cooldown on this spell not only is useful for CC, but makes a difference on some raid fights later on.
  • Glyph of Blink or Polymorph (Arcane) – Arcane does not have a lot of valuable Major Glyphs, so these are two solid options. Polymorph glyph is very handy if you do a lot of dungeons. Arcane Power is not available to you yet, so this is not a choice.

You can also substitute Blink or Polymorph for Dragon’s Breath with Fire, as well.

Minor Glyph

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 flying at level 60!

Gear

At this point in the game, gearing should be relatively intuitive and easy for you if you’ve been following my guides thus far. Intellect is still by far your best stat, with hit following behind it. However, remember the hit cap for most things you are doing at this point is only 6 percent, and most of the gear you acquire will not cap you. Don’t worry if you don’t, it isn’t a dealbreaker. Fire favors what little haste and crit you get on your gear (as well as Frost), and Arcane going with high amounts of intellect and crit would do just fine. The only problems you are going to run into is when you start using Outland gear, which hasn’t been itemized in the same way as revamped Cataclysm questing gear. A lot of it still includes Spellpower (which is in a 1:1 conversion with INT, however, SP does not increase your mana pool or your crit), as well as most of the item budget being given over to STA. Many pieces do not have secondary stats either. Make intelligent choices, but when in doubt, pick the gear that gives you the most INT or SP. You’ll outlevel it by 70, so don’t stress too hard about it. A smattering of gear from both the 50s and late 50s will carry you well into the 60s.

Some items to look out for before you hit Outlands though:

Hood of the Royal Wizard/Hood of the Arcane Path – Alliance and Horde versions of the reward from doing the level 50 mage quest. The quest requires you to go into Blackrock Depths (which you will be doing a LOT of if you do Dungeon Finder) and kill Pyromancer Loregrain and some of his cronies. The hood is a duplicate of the Tier 1 mage hat that you can get from Molten Core.

Circle of Flame – Rare epic drop off Ambassador Flamelash in Blackrock Depths.
Anastari Heirloom – Necklace from Baroness Anastari in Stratholme.
Band of Sacrifice – Quest reward ring from Blasted Lands.
Burst of Knowledge – Drop off Ambassador Flamelash in Blackrock Depths.
Essence of Eranikus’ Shade – Quest reward from Sunken Temple.

*Portal Roulette is the best mage game where you cast every portal you have all on-top of each other and people get sent somewhere randomly.

>> Levels 60 to 70

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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

Leveling Through Misandry – Levels 20 to 30

Misandry casting a frostbolt in the middle of a field in Arathi Highlands.

Levels 1-10

Levels 11-20

There’s some periods of your leveling experience that are going to offer only the barest of new experiences. I chose to go through Arathi Highlands on my mage at least partway and felt that it was symptomatic of this. So then I headed south to Stranglethorn Vale and my perspective changed entirely. This still is a bracket of 10 levels that you have to navigate through, though, and you are learning about not just the basics, but filling out what will be your spec-based rotation at this point.

*Spells only learned by Alliance are indicated blue and Horde are indicated in red.

Spells

You get five spells from 20 to 30 and they do a lot of different things depending on what spec you play, or where you want to go.  At level 22, you gain Arcane Explosion. You might be wondering what Arcane Explosion (abbreviated “AE”) actually will do for you, especially if you are a budding arcane mage. Not…much. While this is technically the arcane area-of-effect spell, arcane will never truly excel at AOE damage. Arcane Explosion is cast from the mage’s position, meaning you have to damage mobs that are within melee range of you. It can be a lot more powerful later on as you talent for it, but right now it’ll be only really good for a lot of low-health enemies. It pales in comparison to Blizzard and eventually Flamestrike (but we’ll talk about that in a future post.) One nice benefit about AE is that you can spam it indefinitely as your mana holds as it is instant cast. Back in my day, Arcane Explosion required a talent to make it not have a long cast time! There was even an old mage superstition regarding how jumping while DPSing made you do more damage – Arcane Explosion was one spell that actually adhered to this myth. Up until recently (and I still suspect it is true), AE’s blast radius was determined by your movement, and therefore jumping around actually lengthened the reach of the spell, meaning that hopping around in a circle like a moron made you hit more mobs. Neat, huh?

What’s even more cool than AE is what you get at level 24 – Teleport. You learn these spells from the portal trainers, located near wherever your class trainers are standing. It also is your first reagent cost spell – it uses one Rune of Teleportation to cast; these runes can be purchased from any reagent vendor. Technically this is “one” spell but you get an individual Teleport spell for each of your faction’s cities (Darnassus, Exodar, Ironforge, Orgrimmar, Silvermoon, Stonard, Stormwind, Theramore, Thunder Bluff, and Undercity.) Now you too can be a world traveler! Blizzard used to award these teleports every 10 levels between 10 and 60, but it seemed pretty stupid to do that, what with mages being so cool and all. They also made Teleport use one of their improved UI elements that lets you place the Teleport meta-spell on your toolbars and have all of your various cities slide out for ease of use.

The teleport spells on a hotbar.

This is what it looks like.

Granted you can’t start making money off lazy players just quite yet, but enjoy never needing to bind your hearth in a city ever again. Keep in mind that you have while before you get your mid-continent teleports (Teleport: Theramore, Teleport: Stonard) as well as Teleport: Shattrath and Teleport: Dalaran.

Bread and butter spells like Scorch and Ice Lance come along at level 26 and 28 respectively. Scorch and Ice Lance are great low mana-cost spells early on and can be talented for even greater DPS while moving, depending on when they are used.  Finally, rounding us out at level 30 is Ice Block. This is a very important defensive ability – this means that it can help save not only your scrawny little mage butt, but your healer’s mana in a pinch. Ice Block is classed as an immunity, which is why it is so powerful. This means that while encased in ice, you take no incoming damage. It doesn’t absorb it, it just 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. Keeping the duration of the immunity at your fingertips will greatly increase your magely intellect – so here is a handy  macro:

#showtooltip Ice Block
/stopcasting
/cast ice block
/cancelaura Ice Block

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.

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, Pyroblast), and instant-cast fillers (Arcane Barrage, Ice Lance). You also have a couple AOE spells (Arcane Explosion, Blizzard) and a couple of utility spells and a defensive cooldown. This is the beginning of your actual life as a DPSer. I will go more into what a proper rotation would be as we get later on to the leveling. At this point, you’re still mostly just casting your primary nuke (especially in dungeons where things die fairly fast), with some use of instant casts if a mob is close to dying or area-of-effect spells if a group of mobs is being tanked.

Talents

Moving on from level 20, we are given 5 new talent points, meaning we can start solidly moving into the second tier of talents in the tree of our choice. First up is Frost – a lot of options to go but very confusing to a newer player. All of them are definitely soloing/PVP- centric because they focus on slows and may not be as useful for a straight PVE scenario. However, slowing a mob and applying a Chill effect (as well as healing your water elemental) plays into a lot of future talents, so after filling out Shatter, I went for Permafrost. Having extra slowing on mobs is useful for questing, even without taking the other talents yet in the second tier.  This is where a lot of choices come up however. I opted for a more PVE-ish build than adding additional slows and chills into my spells (via Improved Cone of Cold and Piercing Chill) and went into Icy Veins, a must-have for dungeoning. It goes hand-in-hand with Ice Floes, when I take that down the road. It just depends on what you’ll be doing more – dungeoning, soloing, or doing battlegrounds. Play around! You never know what you might enjoy. Either way, my talent tree now looks like this: (0/0/11). Fire doesn’t delve into the third tier yet, as there are some solid choices in the second tier: (0/11/0).  After you finish out Fire Power, you will want to go straight for Ignite. It is a very powerful talent and will be a good chunk of your damage at the level cap. I’ve seen the eponymous damage-over-time spell kill mobs dead when they were at low health and running towards me. Blazing Speed has bit more of a survivability angle, therefore a better talent for battlegrounds. Impact is definitely useful but is a more advanced talent to try and get the hang of and you aren’t going to be killing packs of mobs that live for a decently long time, so it isn’t as useful to you at low levels. It also pairs very well with Improved Fire Blast, so save those two talents as you get higher in levels. As for Arcane (11/0/0), you  will want to sink some points into the second tier (Improved Arcane Missiles and Improved Blink, respectively) to get into the third tier. I’d go for 1/2 Missile Barrage rather than Presence of Mind, personally. Beefing up your arcane missiles is great for mana (as you are past the point where your mana regens faster than you spend it) and your damage. Torment the Weak is a crucial talent later on, but a lot of dungeon groups don’t have enough reliable slows to make it worth it yet. Invocation is nicer for PVP, so another consideration depending on what you are doing. Improved Blink gives your Blink a nice little sprint at the end, so I find it better for moving to mobs while questing (without mounting) and definitely nice for dungeons or getting away from enemies!

A note: most of the builds I will be presenting in the guides tend to be a good balance of solo talents that are great for questing and a little bit for boosting your usefulness in dungeons. If you wish to level straight via dungeons, you might want opt toward builds that you see closer to 85 as they usually provide slightly more group utility and buffs. Most of the “solo” talents as well tend to veer into PVP utility and may not be overall as useful for PVE soloing. Remember that there is some variance in specs when leveling and picking things that you feel help you overall might be good to experiment with. Remember, you can always go back to the trainer and relearn your talents. However, leveling/raiding specs that tend to be given as the “best” are because they are fairly tried-and-true to perform most optimally in most PVE situations.

“Are we done shopping yet, Misandry? I’m tired.”

Gear

Gear, especially from dungeons is a little more plentiful now. I haven’t been hitting dungeons as often as I could because I wanted to see Horde-side quests but I don’t feel like I’m running around in rags at all. 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, I’d highly suggest Mantle of Doan to you. It is easily some of the better shoulders you will get and keep for many levels.

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.

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 often you actually hit 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:

Character sheet, looking at hit percentages.

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. There is a 1 percent miss chance that will always be there, no matter how much hit you have but you can come as close to that one percent as you can.

Crit 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 strike 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.

>>Levels 30-40

Leveling Through Misandry – Levels 11 to 20

Misandry runs with her water elemental and forsaken forces.

Levels 1-10

The best laid plans of mice and mages often go awry, and in my case, that means having to spec frost at the utmost insistence of some of my Twitter followers. They felt that the poll put me squarely back into my wheelhouse and that the point of a leveling guide was to learn something new. So here I am, with a loud bubbly friend. Frost has been fun so far and has made killing mobs a lot easier, but I suspect that is how it is now with every mage spec now. Back in my day, you had to wand and pray that you killed something. Now that we’re actually starting to get into the meat of leveling, I figured that I ought to break up the guides into sections for ease-of-use. Hopefully you’ll find this a bit more useful if you just need help with one specific part of leveling in each block.

Spells

11 through 20 gives you another block of very important utility and resource skills that as a mage; spells you should become accustomed to using. At level 12, you get Evocation. This is one of a mage’s main abilities to regen mana. If you eventually go on to become a full-time arcane mage, your rotation will basically rise and fall around this. As you gain the ability to use glyphs, Evocation will also be a nice way of regaining health in and out of combat. The only downside to this is that you have to stand still. Ticks of your Evocation will also shorten if you are taking prolonged damage (so try not to use it during an AOE ability from a mob.)

Polymorph is level 14 and is your first real crowd control. While Polymorph does tend to vanish at the drop of a hat if someone even so much as LOOKS at your sheep, it is considered one of the more prized crowd control abilities in that is it easily renewable and has no cooldown. A good mage will master the art of keeping a focus target sheeped and being able to polymorph on the fly and I will give you a great macro for how to do that:

#showtooltip Polymorph
/stopcasting
/clearfocus [mod:shift]
/focus [@focus,noexists]
/cast [@focus,exists,harm] Polymorph

This macro does a couple of things right off the bat – first, it stops your cast (meaning you can sheep on the fly if need be), secondly, it sets a focus if one does not exist already, and it casts Polymorph. It is going to set whatever you’re targeting and sheeping as your focus, so keep in mind that if you need to swap your focus/sheep target, you press the macro while holding down your modifer key (in this case is SHIFT). If you want to change your modifer key (to say, ALT or CTRL), you merely change the [mod:shift] part.  I also like to use my macro as a nice “set a focus” button as if you are out of range or a mob cannot be sheeped, it will just simply focus the mob you are targeting, provided it is a harmful entity. If you want to eventually use other spells besides just the flat Polymorph spell (like Polymorph: Black Cat, Polymorph: Pig), you can simply change the last line to this:

/castrandom [@focus,exists,harm] Polymorph, Polymorph(Rabbit), Polymorph(Black Cat)

The only problem you might run into is if you have other spells that work on a focus – such as Counterspell (like in our last guide). What I’ve done is used modifers in all my macros for those spells so in the fairly rare case I need to counterspell a non-focused target, while having a focus target polymorphed, I can shift-Counterspell the non-focus target and still keep my focus target sheeped. Glyphing Polymorph lets you turn your boring old sheep into a penguin or monkey as well, or allows polymorph to remove damage-over-time spells on a mob (a must for dungeons.)

The last utility spell you get is Blink, at level 16. Blink is easily one of the most live-saving spells you will get as a mage. It moves you quickly from place to place, it can get you out of places fast and it can move you over dangers that other classes have to muddle through. If you glyph it, it can even take you greater distances than before and Arcane has a talent that gives you a speed boost when you use it. In short, use it early, use it often, don’t Blink into a fire (as I have done many, many times.) Always have this key bound to something you can hit very easily.

Rounding this all out is Cone of Cold (level 18) and Arcane Blast (level 20.) Cone of Cold is a must-have instant cast melee range slow for Arcane and Frost mages (especially because you can talent it to be more effective), since Fire eventually gets Dragon’s Breath. CoC is good for keeping things that get right up in your face a little slowed so you can Blink back and pop off a well-timed Frostbolt or Arcane Blast.

Talents

From 11-20 you receive 6 talent points which means you begin picking talents from the top tier of your given talent tree. I am now frost, so my first six points (past the first one I placed in Early Frost) looks a little something like this: (0/0/6). When starting out on the first tier, or even as you are working down a tree, talents that give you a boost to how much damage you do, or make you cast faster, or give you more secondary stats are good things overall. Early Frost and Piercing Ice are great examples of these. Shatter is a little more obscure but it comes in handy later as you use more abilities that freeze a target and can be very handy when trying to kite a mob. As for fire and arcane mages? Your first seven points should look like this (0/6/0) and (6/0/0). Fire is a little less jazzy in terms of choices from early on; Master of Elements having a flat mana back from critical strikes (which are harder to come by at early gear levels) and Burning Soul giving you extra pushback protection is not very fun. Compared to the haste boosts of Arcane and Frost (Early Frost, Netherwind Presence), as well mana cost reduction (Arcane Concentration) and critical strike boosts (Piercing Ice), it feels a little blah. But never fear, Fire gets some fun toys later on.

A note: most of the builds I will be presenting in the guides tend to be a good balance of solo talents that are great for questing and a little bit for boosting your usefulness in dungeons. If you wish to level straight via dungeons, you might want opt toward builds that you see closer to 85 as they usually provide slightly more group utility and buffs. Most of the “solo” talents as well tend to veer into PVP utility and may not be overall as useful for PVE soloing. Remember that there is some variance in specs when leveling and picking things that you feel help you overall might be good to experiment with. Remember, you can always go back to the trainer and relearn your talents. However, leveling/raiding specs that tend to be given as the “best” are because they are fairly tried-and-true to perform most optimally in most PVE situations.

"Are we done shopping yet, Misandry? I'm tired."

Gear

Obviously this early on, gear will basically be whatever you pick up questing, in dungeons or off mobs. 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 and stamina gear is fairly plentiful from quests, however. Secondary stats like haste, crit or hit is very rare at this level, even if you do dungeons. Slots you won’t really see gear for  yet is shoulders (besides some white or grey ones), necklaces, head pieces, or trinkets. If you are an alt with heirlooms, this is largely meaningless to you!

At level 20, you get a class quest (Horde/Alliance) that takes you to Shadowfang Keep and gets you an awesome staff. Do this if you can!

Misandry dings level 20 with a cheer!

>> Levels 20-30

Leveling Through Misandry – Levels 1 Through 10

Misandry the mage runs through a field in Tirisfal Glades. The light is a murky green.

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 spell schools. You get arcane, fire and frost within your first ten levels.  For the first six, however, you only have 3 spells to your name – Fireball (which you start out with), Arcane Missiles (Level 3), and Fire Blast (Level 5). Arcane Missiles are a nice high-damage spell but you can only cast them when you proc – so sometimes a mob will not wait around for you run away and pew pew them in the face and you will die.  At very low levels, you are quite possibly just a glorified bag of meat that shoots fire 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 all changes when you get to level 7; your first slowing ability, Frostbolt, is learned. Even now, getting this spell felt like a lot more of a game-changer to an old hat mage like me. 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) and Frostbolt again when you’re a safe distance. Immediately after getting Frostbolt, you get Frost Nova (level 8).  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.

The first ten levels gets rounded off by Counterspell at 9. 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.

The macro I use for Counterspell basically just makes it so you can use CS whenever, even if you are casting. This is crucial because sometimes you will have to stop immediately what you are doing 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 sucessfully interrupt make more money, lead better lives and have more friends (Maybe.)

#showtooltip Counterspell
/stopcasting
/cast Counterspell

When you hit level 10, you gain the ability to start using talent points. This will lead to gaining the bonuses for whatever specialization you choose. Since I went Fire (as picked by you guys), I am now allowed to cast Pyroblast. Frost gets their Water Elemental, and Arcane gets Arcane Barrage.

Misandry the mage cheers when she hits level 10.

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 85, 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.

>> Levels 11-20

Leveling Through Misandry

When I started off asking people what they really wanted to see in a mage blog (again, heh), a lot of them really wanted to see some revamped mage leveling information. Since I haven’t levelled a mage in earnest since vanilla, I felt that this was a prime opportunity to do something really radical. Not only would I level a Horde character (which I have scant few), but I’d also write about my experiences so that new mage players could read along, watch the character grow and have some laughs along the way. Anyone is welcome along on this journey, but I plopped myself down on Mal’ganis, where I have some higher level friends so I wouldn’t be quite so lonely. Thus Misandry was born. (Name is tongue-in-cheek, I assure you. Or is it?)

Misandry the undead mage waves "hello." She's in starting gear.

Anyways, Misandry here is going to be levelled up (fast or slow, haven’t really decided) and every 10 levels or so, her progress will be recorded here in the form of guides that tell you what spells you get when, what content you might want to do, and what the overall experience is like for me. The only thing I cannot decide right now is what spec to play her as! So I ask you, faithful readers, to decide for me:

 

Once I get the answers in by Sunday, October 9th, I’ll get her past level 10. You can also follow my progress in bits and pieces on my Twitter account, which you can follow from the sidebar on the right side of my blog (@applecidermage).

Are any of you leveling a mage currently, comment and tell me a little about them!