Here you are now, leveling up your mage. You’ve picked up your professions, and have a good idea of what kind of build you’d like to use. But where do you put these talent points when you’re leveling?
This section here is a brief guide on where to put your talent points while making the grind to 50.
We’re only going to cover you’re first 40 talent points, since by level 50 you should know how to play the class. I’m also going to cover the stats in the game, as they pertain to spells, and mages.
While leveling your new mage, there are two routes to go. You can either go with the fire tree for leveling, or the frost tree. If you choose fire, you will be able to quickly take down a target mob. You will be able to move from one target to the next rapidly, quickly downing mobs one-by-one. You will have trouble taking on multiple mobs at once, at least until you get Blastwave. There is little to no room for error leveling as a fire mage; if you screw up, you’re dead.
If you choose frost, you will not be able to take down mobs nearly as quick as fire. A fire mage can usually 3-4 shot an equal level mob; as a leveling frost mage you will probably take more than 5 spells to get the same job done. However, you can take multiple mobs on at once, with little of the difficulty fire has. You also have a very large margin of error. If a fire mage accidentally pulls 5 mobs instead of the one he was looking for, he’s close to screwed. A frost mage will pull 5 mobs on a regular basis.
Take your pick. Rapid killing one-by-one with almost no margin for error, or slower killing with a very large margin of error?
Please, don’t pick arcane. It is terrible for leveling, and doesn’t get any good until much later in the game. It has no inherit kiting ability, which fire gets very early on and frost always had. It cannot match the damage output of fire early on, and you will run OOM (out of mana) much faster than either frost or fire.
Save yourself some grief. Say no. You gain nothing by trying to level as arcane, except a hard time.
Also, be aware that all mage trees are “top-heavy”. That means all the good stuff is deep in the tree, and not at the beginning. Thus, while leveling, don’t split trees. Stay focused, and keep putting points into the same tree as you level.
Your first 40 points – FIRE
Level 10-14 – Put your first 5 points into “Improved Fireball”. This is your base attack spell, and you will be using it constantly. Cutting down its cast time means you get more damage off in less time. Self-explanatory. It gets even better at level 15.
Level 15, 16 – Put your next two points in “Flame Throwing”. This increases the range of your fire spells by 6 yards, and you will adore this. Mages do best attacking at range; you’re hurting the mob while it’s not even touching you. Range means you do more damage, and take less damage. Coupling this talent with Imp. Fireball will give you an extra fireball to cast at a mob before it even reaches you.
Level 17-19 – Put three points in Ignite here. You may not crit that often at this low level, but when you do, the extra damage helps you a great deal. And you’re a mage, get all the damage you can get.
19 PVP BUILD – No. Just no. You will get horribly slaughtered again and again.
Level 20 – This is where there is some argument as to where your tenth point should go. Many suggest putting your next two points into Burning Soul, so you don’t get your spells interrupted anymore. I say, at this stage of the game, you shouldn’t be letting mobs beat on you anyways. You already have a 41 yard range and frost nova, why are you letting them hit you? At this point in leveling, your spell rotation should be something like : Fireball, Fireball, Fireball, Frost Nova, Fireball until dead. No mob should survive 5 fireballs. Maybe six if you’re taking on something 4+ levels higher than you. In case of unlucky resists, thats what Fireblast is for. You don’t need to pick up Burning Soul right this second.
HOWEVER, Pyroblast is an excellent spell at this stage in the game. It won’t stay this way forever, but in your twenties, Pyroblast is vastly more powerful than fireball. Open every fight with it, attacking at maximum range. Pick it up at 20, it will give you a very nice damage boost at the start of fights
Level 21, 22 – This is where you pick up Burning Soul. Now you have an amazing opener ability, and an ability that will let you keep right on casting in the face of adversity.
Level 23, 24 – Finish off Ignite. Now your spell criticals will do almost half the damage again whenever you crit. If your opening Pyro crits, you will be seeing a tremendous amount of damage at this stage in the game.
Level 25-29 – Now you’re going to want to pick up Impact. Incinerate and Improved Scorch are just not that useful when leveling. Nothing will stay alive long enough for Imp. Scorch to stack, and you should only be using scorch/fireblast at this stage of the game as an “OH SHIT” button. Fireball is still your best spell. Impact will give you a 10% chance to stun a target upon being hit with a fire spell, and it is an excellent talent for leveling. It will keep your target at range that much longer. giving you time to fire off more spells before your target can do anything about it.
29 PVP BUILD – Remember those 5 points you put into Imp. Fireball? Well, put them into “Incinerate” and “Improved Fire Blast” instead. Viola! You have the best possible PvP build for mages at 29.
Level 30 – Pick up Blastwave.
Level 31-33 – Put 3 points into “Critical Mass”. This is where we start seeing some more powerful abilities in the fire line. With an increase of your crit chance, you will be seeing Ignites far more often, which means even more damage.
Level 34 – Put a point into “Master of Elements”. It will add to your mana-efficiency, which is a very good thing while leveling. The higher your crit chance, the better this talent gets. And you’re crit chance will only go upwards as you level, so get it, and enjoy a little extra mana.
Level 35-39 – Shove all five points into “Fire Power”. 10% more damage from fire spells. Thou shalt not go without it.
39 PVP BUILD – Same thing as the 29 build. Put the points from Imp. Fireball into Incinerate and Imp. Fireblast. 39 is a really good bracket for mages, we really come into our own here. We do fine at 29, but we’re better at 39. Pwn some nubs, 39 is a great bracket to be in. And if you’re a twink, even better, because you can put all those new enchants from TBC on your gear. Before you ask, yes, you can put the Sunfire enchant on the Staff of Jordan if you really, really wanted to. A twink mage at 39 can easily be a god of fire damage.
Level 40 – Get Combustion. Even more crits for you!
Level 41-43 – Put 3 points in Pyromaniac. You get a little bit of mana efficiency, and even more crit chance. You’ll be pumping out a lot of damage at this point in the game.
Level 44 – Put a second point in Master of Elements. You will be critting a lot at this stage of the game, get a little extra mana back.
Level 45-49 – At this point in the game, you should have bonus spell damage on your gear. At bare minimum, have at least 100 of the stuff. Shoot for 200+. As such, pick up Empowered Fireball, and get all the more damage out of your main spell as you can.
And that is that. Congratulations on making it this far, you should have an idea of how a fire mage works at this point. Feel free to mix it up, try a 49 PvP build (another really fun bracket). Or put 10 points into Arcane for Clearcast. Its up to you, and 70 is the limit.
Your First 40 points – FROST
Level 10-14 – Put your first 5 points into Improved Frostbolt. Same reasoning as Imp. Fireball, you use this spell a lot, use it even more, and get even more damage out of it.
Level 15-17 – Your next three points should go into Frostbite. 15% chance on any chill effect to freeze the target. So thats… 15% chance on every spell you cast to root the target. Frost is all about control and leeway while leveling, this makes your time even easier.
Level 18-22 – Put 5 points into Ice Shards. You won’t be critting very often at this point in the game, but when you do, it will hurt a lot. Most importantly, this talent is going to come into its own in a huge way in a few levels.
Level 23, 24 – Put 2 points into Imp. Frost Nova. By itself, this will give you more leeway in controlling the encounter, just in case something goes wrong and you need another frost nova right away. Most importantly, this talent lets you take Shatter next level up.
Level 25-29 – Put all 5 points into shatter. This is a godly talent, and seeing as you freeze your target in place a lot, you will be critting quite a bit. And remember that Ice Shards we took a few levels ago. Yeah. You will be critting very hard, and often.
Level 30, 31 – Put 2 points into Arctic Reach. You don’t need the range as much as fire does, thats why we left it until here. But add the range, and this will give you even more manuevering room when taking on random mobs. You already have a chill effect, a faster casting time than fire’s main spell, a 15% chance to outright stop your target, and now you’re adding even more range. Life is good. Mobs shouldn’t even be able to touch you.
Level 32-34 – Put 3 points into Piercing Ice. Its 6% damage, it’s kind of a no-brainer. We didn’t take it earlier, because we need to turn you into a god of kiting. Which you are now, so go ahead and take the extra damage. It won’t have much of an impact of you take Piercing Ice before Arctic Reach, I just prefer to widen the margin of error first. If you’re still sucking and still getting hit by mobs, get some more kiting help. Skip Piercing Ice, and put these three points into Permafrost instead. You shouldn’t need to have Permafrost while leveling, but hey, if you’re that bad at kiting still, take it and get better.
Level 35-37 – Put 3 points into Frost Channeling. A 15% reduction in the cost of frost spells is huge, and it will keep you up and casting for a much longer time. It’s the best mana reduction talent in any mage tree, so get it and love it.
Level 38 – Get Ice Block here. We’re going to add some powerful special abilities to the frost tree here. Start with Ice Block. The biggest uses this spell has is letting you wait for the frost nova cooldown freely, and wiping any stupid disease effects or whatever a mob throws on you. Not very important at all for leveling. But, we need it for Ice Barrier, which is simply awesome.
Level 39 – Get Cold Snap right now. This is your “OH SHIT” button as frost. Other specs and classes have them, but this one is yours.
Level 40 – Get Ice Barrier. You may have noticed that the frost tree doesn’t have any spell interrupts. This is why we needed to get you good at kiting. But, now we have this little handy spell, which will keep your pecious cast bar ambling towards completion rather than failing.
Level 41, 42 – Put 2 points into Ice Floes. Now that you have all these special abilities kicking around, get this so you can use them more often. Feel free to cry that it doesn’t reduce the cooldown on frost nova even more. I know I did.
Level 43, 44 – 2 points into Arctic Winds, to add some much needed damage to your frost spells. You’re probably jealously looking at fire mages and their large damage output at this point. Go ahead and treat yourself to a little more damage.
Level 45-49 – All five points go into Empowered Frostbolt. Like the fire side of things here, you should have at bare minimum 100 + spell damage. Make your main spell even more powerful. The fact that it also increases the crit chance of frostbolt by 5% is just free candy on the cake.
And grats, you’ve made it to level 49 as a frost mage. Ding 50 and snag the water elemental, and rejoice. You are a kiting god, and as long as the mob can be snared/rooted, you can kill it without even being touched. Congratulations, now go grind on some elite dragonkin.
You see it all the time in noobie zones. People asking in General about what stats are most important, you see it on the forums sometimes too. So let me summarize everything up here for ya. These are the stats in the game that effect mages, and what you need to know.
- INTELLECT – This is the core stat for mages of any kind. Each point of intellect gives you 15 mana and a 0.0125% chance to crit. No matter what you plan on doing, you need a mana pool. And for a mana pool, you need Intellect. Its basic knowledge, but there it is. Intellect is a very important stat
- STAMINA – This is a core stat for every class in the game, however, its emphasis for mages is somewhat lower than most other classes. As ranged DPS, we have very low natural stamina, and little real need for it. For anything other than PvP, stamina is not very important for mages. In PvP, of course, stamina is very important and you need a lot of it. However, no matter what you do, you never need to worry about it. For PvE gear, it will come with its own stamina regardless, and you’ll have enough hitpoints to get by just fine. For PvP, any and all PvP gear already comes with stamina, so you still don’t need to be concerned about it. If you get PvP gear, you will get stamina, and lots of it, by default. It will not hurt in the least to toss some Stamina gems into your sockets, if you are that high of level.
- SPIRIT – Spirit just isn’t a very good stat at all. Literally any other mage stat should be considered more important than spirit, even spell penetration. See, spirit will only regen mana every 5 seconds while you’re NOT casting. If you’re not casting, you’re not doing your job. Healers (especially priests and druids) have all sorts of strange tricks with the “5 second rule”, but we mages do not. You should be casting almost all the time. Try to avoid spirit in favor of pretty much anything else.
- ARMOR – Armor is of little importance to mages, with just a few grains of salt. In PvE, its pointless and kinda stupid. If something is hitting you with physical damage, something is very, very wrong. In PvP, armor is somewhat more important, since many classes will be trying to hit you with physical attacks. But, like stamina, this is not a stat you need to concern yourself with. If you’re wearing PvP gear, which is the only place armor is useful, it will come by itself on the gear.
- RESILIENCE – Another defensive stat that is only good if you PvP. Resilience reduces the chance that targets will critically hit you, reduces the damage of critica hits, and reduces the damage of Damage over Time (DoT) abilities. 1 Resilience gives you a crit chance reduction and DoT damage reduction of 0.0254%, and a crit damage reduction of 0.051%. As a whole number, 39.4 resilience will reduce crit chance/DoT damage by 1%, and crit damage by 2%. Similar to stamina, PvP gear will come with this stat on it. Unlike stamina, Resilience is well worth stressing over and stacking with gems and such. You should shoot for at least 200 resilience before taking yourself seriously at high-end arenas. 300 is a good average, 400 is roughly where you want to be at the highest competitive level. If you have a yellow socket in your PvP gear, it should have a resilience gem in it.
- SPELL DAMAGE – Damage from spells is the lifeblood stat of mages everywhere. The more spell damage you have, the harder your spells hit. This stat should be treated as the most important spell for PvE of any kind, and a very important spell for PvP (alongside stamina and resilience). You should be looking at all times, at any level, for gear that increases spell damage.
- SPELL CRITICAL STRIKE RATING – This used to be a contraversial stat in the old days. More spell crit means more spell damage, right? Well, not quite. Spell crit is a very complex stat, and depends a great deal in circumstances. Lets start with the nature of a critical spell. A spell hits for 100% damage. Barring talents, when it crits, it crits for 150% damage. Therefore, 1 spell damage = 1 spell damage, and 1 spell crit = 0.5 spell damage. In a flat scenario, spell damage is twice as good as spell crit. However, there are so many other factors that can be included. First off, there are abilities that only proc in critical strikes. Take Ignite for example, which does an additional 40% of a spells damage. With this talent, a spell crit will actually do 210% of the spells base damage. Therefore, for a fire mage, spell crit = 2.1 spell damage. Again, though, that is a flat scenario. There are many talents that affect crits in the mage trees. Both frost mages and arcane mages can increase the damage spell crits do, and as was already mentioned, fire mages add a DoT after a crit. By itself, spell crit is a very nice stat, giving mages a chance at some very high damage. With talents, point-per-point, it is better than flat + spell damage. For arcane, spell crit is 1.75 spell damage; fire, spell crit is 2.1 spell damage; frost, spell crit is 2 spell damage. HOWEVER. That ratio is assuming that you, the mage, actually crits. Let’s say you’re a fire mage with 25% chance to crit. This means that you crit a quarter of the time. Now, every spell you cast, assuming no misses will benefit from your + spell damage. However, only a quarter of those spells will benefit from your spell crit rating. Thus, in this scenario, spell crit is only worth 0.525 spell damage. With this in mind, that essentially means that if you are a fire mage, + spell damage is better point per point than spell crit, unless your crit chance is within a few percentiles from 50% chance. Thus, as a general rule, spell damage > spell crit. As for PvP, spell crit is a terrible stat. Anyone who is anyone in pvP will have plenty of Resilience on their gear, which totally negates your crit rating. And if you try and stack crit rating for PvP, you’re sacrificing other, more important stats for it. Just say no. There is one very important stat we need to discuss. But we’ll get to that in the next point.
- SPELL HIT RATING – Lets say, just for ease of use, that you are level 70. You shoot a fireball at a level 70 target. There is a 4% chance that fireball will “miss”, showing up as “Resist” on your screen. Spell hit reduces the chance you will “miss” with spells. There is always, ALWAYS a 1% chance your spell will miss, no matter how much spell hit rating you have. Thus, there is a “cap” to spell hit rating. Against an equal level opponent, the spell hit cap is 3%. With 3% spell hit rating, you will almost always land your spells. This is why, if you wanted to, you could have ~3% spell hit rating for PvP and nobody would gripe at you. It IS the hit cap against fellow players, after all. But, if you have either spell hit talents, you don’t need any of it. Against higher level mobs, this stat ramps up exponentially. Let’s say you, a 70 fire mage, attack Illidan Stormrage. Now, he is a skull-marked boss, but the game will calculate him at level 73. Meaning, there is a base chance to miss Illidan Stormrage with spells of 17%. 1% you cannot get rid of, but the other 16% you can mitigate through talents involving spell hit. To be an effective raiding mage, you will need to gather 16% spell hit rating to avoid missing these boss mobs. Frost/fire builds with elemental precision will need to stack 13% spell hit, while Arcane mages will only need to stack to 6%. For PvE, spell hit is an incredibly important stat. If you miss a spell, that means you did no damage at all. To hell with your +spell damage and +spell crit, you outright missed, you get nothing. At end-game, spell hit should be something you stack to the hit cap as soon as you can. Spell hit is also more important than spell crit, but only to a point. If you’re an arcane mage, you only need 6% to your hit rating. If you have 6.7%, that .7% is a total and utter waste, and you can feel free to put spell crit there, if you wanted to.
- SPELL PENETRATION – This stat is… well, silly. It’s supposed to be the PvP version of spell hit, but it’s situational to the point of being sad; you shouldn’t even consider trying to get this on your gear. Spell Penetration reduces your targets resistances to your spells, as in those little numbers in the top-right corner of your character panel. Here’s a quick example. Say you cast a fire spell at a Paladin. The Paladin, for some inexplicable reason, has 40 fire resistance. You have 25 spell penetration. As such, the resistance “check” to see if the Paladin resists your spell will be calculated as if he had a fire resistance of 15, rather than 40. As such, spell penetration is useful in the following situations: against druids, paladin aura buffs, and priests against shadow spells. Thats it. Of course, its very handy if you fight some joker who’s wearing a bunch of resist gear. But when do you ever see a warrior running around in a battleground in full fire resist gear? Spell Penetration is a pointless stat, don’t ever go out of your way to get it. As a side note, spell penetration has NO EFFECT WHATSOEVER in PvE. Any resistances calculated for NPC characters are a flat rate, and cannot be changed by spell penetration. A raid boss, for example, will always have an innate spell resistance of 15. And you cannot overcome that.
Ranked highest to lowest (Very Important, Important, Useful, Meh, Stupid, Worthless)
This is the quick version:
INTELLECT – PvE = Very Important, PvP = Important
STAMINA – PvE = Useful, PvP = Very Important
SPIRIT – PvE = Stupid, PvP = Worthless
ARMOR – PvE = Stupid, PvP = Useful
RESILIENCE – PvE = Worthless, PvP = Very Important
SPELL DAMAGE – PvE = Very Important, PvP = Very Important
SPELL CRIT RATING – PvE = Useful, PvP = Stupid
SPELL HIT RATING – PvE = Very Important (up to the cap), PvP = Meh
SPELL PENETRATION – PvE = Worthless, PvP = Stupid
And so concludes Volume III