A quick reference guide on getting your freshly minted 70 mage geared up and ready to take dirt naps in a competitive environment. So, uhm, this first part is identical to OOM’s post here. Feel free to skip it if you’ve already done that.
Note that you don’t have to consider this guide a step by step process, the way it’s laid out now is simply the fastest way (gear upgrade wise) to go from scrub to not so scrub.
THE PVE PORTION
Thanks to Patch 2.4, it is now significantly easier to get to a respectable amount of PvP gear without having ever set foot into a battleground.
A major problem with end-game WoW is that if you fall behind, you tend to stay behind. If you’re just hitting 70 now, you’ll be far, far behind the people chugging around sporting enough epic gear that’ll probably kill you by farting in your general direction.
Patch 2.4 introduced blue PvP sets identical to the old High Warlord / Grand Marshall’s stuff that was available before. Except that you don’t actually need honor to get any of these pieces. Introducing the not really new at all but very shiny Evoker’s Silk Battlegear. Each piece can be bought from an Outland’s faction vendor person at Honored reputation.
- Evoker’s Silk Cowel (hat) – Purchased from the Lower City quartermaster
- Evoker’s Silk Amice (shoulders) – Purchased from the Thrallmar / Honor Hold quartermaster
- Evoker’s Silk Raiment (robe) – Purchased from the Keepers of Time quartermaster
- Evoker’s Silk Gloves (take a wild guess!) – Purchased from the Sha’tari quartermaster
- Evoker’s Silk Trousers (legs) – Purchased from the Cenarion Expedition quartermaster
Honored reputation isn’t that hard to get, now is it? Run some instances, snag a flying mount, do some quests, run Mechanar, and you’re good! Now you’ve got a full set of PvP gear to replace all those quest greens. You are no longer a helpless stick of butter, you’ve got some fancy armor on now. That hot knife is lukewarm at best!
THE HONOR GRIND
Now that you’ve got a decent foundation in your PvP stats, it’s time to hit the battlegrounds, kill some people, cap some flags, and get some honor. Preferably a lot more than some.
Collecting honor in 2.4 is relatively simple to do. Since there are no more diminishing returns whenever you kill somebody, literally any battleground can be very lucrative when it comes to grabbing honor.
As to the quest you can do to turn in your battleground tokens, I heartily encourage you to turn in as many tokens as you can !BUT! you need to save some for actually purchasing your gear. Having 40k honor ready to go is all fine and dandy if you don’t have the 30 Arathi Basin marks to purchase anything. See below for what items need what.
COST: 16,983 honor
Get the level 70 PvP trinket as soon as you can. This is the first thing you spend your honor on, mk? No arguments now, just do it. A get out of splat town every two minutes is better than every five minutes. And the resilience it adds is just icing on the cake.
The blue one is fine to get for now. I highly doubt you have the time to grind up 40k honour for the epic one. Put it on your to do list, just don’t spend the time right now.
BELT, BRACERS AND BOOTS
COST 47,494 honor, 40 Arathi Basin marks, 20 Warsong Gulch marks, 40 Eye of the Storm marks
There is much debate in the mage community over what type of the honor belts/bracers/boots they should purchase. As a mage, you have two options. You can choose to buy Silk (supposed to be for mages) which have stamina, intellect, spell critical strike rating, spell damage, and resilience. Or, you can choose to buy Dreadweave (meant for warlocks) which have stamina, intellect, spell damage, and resilience. The lack of crit on the latter means the other four stats are slightly higher.
A lot of mages (including myself several months ago) would say pick the Dreadweave. After all, this is PvP we’re doing here, right? And what stats do you need? Stamina and resilience, right. So why choose the option that has less of those two stats? And off we go buying warlock gear.
Let me pose a question here. Of the mage spells that deal damage to an enemy, how many of them are capable of a critical hit? Think on that for a second. There is only one spell in the entire arsenal of damage dealing spells mages have that does not critically hit (that would be Blizzard, and this is changing in Wrath). Every single spell you are going to be using in a damage dealing role will be able to critically strike your opponent.
Despite resilience, the damage you deal to your opponents will be spike damage. That’s just the way mages work. The whole idea of Frostbolt + Ice Lance on a frozen target is the epitome of spike damage.
Also keep in mind that resilience has a soft cap against critical strikes: 12.5% reduction in critical strike chance.
You should pick the Silk gear over the Dreadweave gear. As a mage, you need the spell critical strike rating to do your job properly.
Keep in mind you will have to wear some of last season’s gear, due to the personal rating required for some of these items. Get the belt first, it’s current season, and thus will provide the biggest boost in stats/
- Guardian’s Silk Belt – Costs 17,850 honor and 40 Arathi Basin marks
- Vindicator’s Silk Cuffs – Costs 9,199 honor and 20 Warsong Gulch marks
- Vindicator’s Silk Footguards – Costs 13,923 honor and 40 Eye of the Storm marks
CLOAK AND DAGGER (WITHOUT THE DAGGER)
Really, there are only two options to go with for your cape. Cloak. Robe thingy. Whatever you wanna call it.
- Sergeant’s Heavy Cape – It’s cheap. 7,548 honor and 20 Arathi Basin marks. It’s not as good as the next one on the list, but it is faster to get, assuming your running battlegrounds more often than instances. If you do a full Karazhan clear every week and have so many badges you brag to your friends that you can double check how many you can have in a stack, well…
- Cloak of Arcane Alacrity – This is a direct upgrade to the Heavy Cape. I definitely, definitely recommend getting this over the Heavy Cape if you have the resources to get it. It’ll cost ya 60 badges, so make sure you don’t have any other purchases in mind.
Next up on your honor purchases is your necklace and your rings. Thankfully, the designers of this gear has seen fit to include both spell haste and spell damage on the same item. Spell haste is still awesome, but now you aren’t forced to choose between the two.
When you’re casting a spell, what else are you doing? You’re standing still. Not moving. Vulnerable. The time you spend not moving, sitting there, vulnerable to an attack, should be kept as low as possible. You will have to stand there and cast stuff, don’t get me wrong there. You just don’t want to be doing it very long. Mobility is your friend.
To that end, spell haste becomes an incredibly viable tool in transforming you into a killing machine. Spell haste makes your spells cast faster. Meaning that it is harder for enemies to interrupt what you’re doing. Meaning you are vulnerable for shorter amounts of time. Meaning that whatever you are trying to do with that spell cast, it happens faster. Need an enemy rogue turned into a sheep? Having a muttonized rogue 1.1 seconds later is a lot faster than 1.5 seconds later.
To that end, I heartily recommend the following pieces:
- Guardian’s Pendant of Subjugation – Costs 15,300 honor and 10 Eye of the Storm marks
- Guardian’s Band of Dominance – Costs 15,300 honor and 10 Alterac Valley marks (Yes, I do think that getting this over the Subjugation one is a good idea. You need spell damage, too, you can’t just stack spell haste ad nauseum)
Sadly, you can only have one kind of Guardian’s ring, so for the second ring slot, you’re going to need to get last seasons Veteran ring.
- Vindicator’s Band of Subjugation – Costs 11,934 honor and 10 Alterac Valley marks
With that out of the way, it’s time to upgrade whatever weapons you’ve been using from before.
First a brief interlude about spell hit. Against an even level target, you have a 96% chance to hit them with spells. Therefore, to be hit capped against an enemy player, you need to have 3% hit rating on your PvP gear. I know right? Spell hit on PvP gear? This is madness!
Note that if you manage to work Elemental Precision into your build at 70, you don’t need any hit rating. (Thanks Tuna!)
At level 70, 12.6 spell hit will give you 1% of hit, therefore, to be hitcapped against enemy players, you are going to need 37.8 hit rating, give or take a few points.
There is no longer a significant difference between getting the Staff and the MH/OH combination. The spell blade comes with hit now, so there is no longer a significant advantage to getting the Staff.
Choosing the Staff will give you (over the MH/OH) +1 Stamina, +5 Intellect, +42 critical strike rating, and 9 hit.
Choosing the MH/OH combo will give you (over the staff) +16 Resilience, +33 damage.
Stat wise, you could honestly go either way with this. Go with whichever you need to fill in places that you are currently lacking in. Running with 15% critical strike chance with AI and Molten Armor up? Get the Staff. Running with 21% crit, but your resilience is only 300? Get the MH/OH.
- Merciless Gladiator’s War Staff – Costs 27,000 honor and 40 Alterac Valley marks
- Merciless Gladiator’s Spellblade – Costs 25,200 honor and 20 Eye of the Storm marks
- Merciless Gladiator’s Endgame – Costs 9,000 honor and 20 Eye of the Storm marks
- Merciless Gladiator’s Touch of Defeat – Costs 8,000 honor and 10 Eye of the Storm marks
If you want to hop into arenas without grinding these things first, any old weapon with spell damage and stamina on it will serve you just fine.
With all that out of the way, you are looking pretty damn spiffy, ain’t ya? You’ve got loads of stamina and resilience, and in an excellent position to start up a proper arena team. One last thing about honor…
LAST SEASON’S REWARDS
While you don’t necessarily NEED to grab any Season two gear before heading into the arena, if you can bear farming honor some more, you can replace a couple pieces of the Evoker’s Silk set. The set bonuses no longer stack between the Evoker’s set and the Merciless Gladiator’s set, so there really isn’t a point in aiming for two pieces of each set. Other than that, at this point you should seriously consider that all of your future arena gear upgrades should come from the current season to replace the blues you still have.
ENCHANTING AND GEMS
Before we get started here, I’d like to point one thing out. As a general rule, socket bonuses are not worth it. Got it?
Socket bonuses worth trying to get: Stamina, spell damage/haste. That’s it, really. Attempting to get the socket bonus for critical strike rating is usually a bad idea. Do not go out of your way to get this kind of socket bonus. However, if it requires 2 yellow gems, and you just so happen to have two orange gems you need to put somewhere… go ahead and get that socket bonus.
Just don’t go out of your way, intentionally gimping yourself, for something so insignificant.
Gemming up for arena play is a very simplistic thing as a mage. Ask yourself two questions: “Do I have 10k health? Do I have 400 resilience?”. Bear these two questions in mind, gemming and enchanting go hand in hand here.
Ten thousand health and four hundred resilience are the benchmarks that you, as a mage, need to gem and enchant for before doing anything else. Once you’ve accomplished that, start stacking for damage.
- HEAD – Two choices here. Remember that spell hit cap we need to reach for PvP? The Glyph of Power (revered with the Sha’tari) will help you get there, and add some spell damage to boot. Alternatively, if you already have enough hit rating (maybe you tossed a spell hit gem into the neck piece for the socket bonus?) you can get the Glyph of the Gladiator (revered with the Shattered Sun). Plenty of Stamina and Resilience to be had.
- SHOULDER – Your Aldor/Scryer shoulder enchant will be going here.
- BACK – Only the one enchant here, Spell Penetration.
- CHEST – Either Resilience or Exceptional Health, depending on which stat you need more of.
- WRIST – Get the spell damage enchant. I know the extra stamina looks tasty, but trust me. Get the spell damage.
- GLOVES – Same here. Get the spell damage.
- LEGS – Runic Spellthread if you can, Mystic if you can’t quite afford the good stuff. Spell damage AND stamina… it’s a perfect world!
- BOOTS – Boar’s Speed if you can get it, if not, get the stamina enchant.
- RINGS – If you are an enchanter, put +12 spell damage on the both of ‘em.
- WEAPON – Major Spellpower is an excellent enchant to go with.
Once you have those enchants out of the way, take stock of where you are. How’s your resilience doing? What about your health pool? Spell hit capped yet? We gem up from here.
- SPELL HIT – If you are still shy of the spell hit cap for PvP (37.8, remember?) toss in a Great Dawnstone or two to bump you up there. Note that since you are using yellow gems anyways, feel free to toss them into a yellow socket to get the bonus.
- STAMINA – Still don’t have enough hit points? Snag a Solid Star of Elune of the auction house. Any other stamina gems, from Zul’Aman or Mount Hyjal, are obviously better. But this is an excellent starting spot.
- RESILIENCE – Need a boost to your resilience? Grab a Mystic Dawnstone or two and socket them up!
- Short on both Stamina AND Resilience? Blizzard thinks of everything. Steady Talasite is the way to go, netting you both stamina and resilience in one go.
Obviously, if you can afford to do so, spring for epic gems.
ONLY once you have reached both 10k health and 400 resilience should you go about socketing any sort of spell damage gems. Socketing spell damage/haste gems is an excellent investment for PvP.
META GEM -There really is only one option meta gem wise these days.The Chaotic Skyfire Diamond is just too good. It’s a DPS gem, yeah, but it essentially negates 75.35 of your opponents resilience. Consider:
19.7 resilience reduces the damage taken from critical hits by 1%. Increase the critical damage you do by 3%, and that’s 75.35 resilience that effectively doesn’t matter anymore, if you have Ice Shards.
For further maths, see this post here about the CSD.
That, and it’s requirements are a lousy 2 blue gems. Blue gems? Say, aren’t we stacking those to infinity and beyond here already? Why yes, yes we are.
THAT LAST TRINKET
You have several options when choosing your secondary trinket.
The vast majority of mages use either a manual use damage trinket, or one of the Battlemaster trinkets. Most carry on of each, just in case they need to switch from one to another depending on how that night’s games are going.
You may not have the time (or, indeed, will) to go farming another massive chunk of honor to get one of the Battlemaster trinkets (if you do, the spell haste one is the best option). If you have extra badges to spend, it is inadvisable to use them to get a Battlemaster trinket. If you have the badges to spare, save yourself some significant time (and badges) and use those badges to buy a damage trinket instead.
Some excellent damage trinkets are:
- Icon of the Silver Crescent - solid flat damage increase, and powerful on demand burst.
- Scryer’s Bloodgem – almost the entire amount of hit you need for PvP right here. Solid on demand burst.
- Dark Iron Smoking Pipe – Sadly, this trinket is only available as a holiday boss drop. It drops from Coren Direbrew during Brewfest, which takes place between September 20 – October 4. It is a direct clone of the Silver Crescent, so, if possible, snag this trinket and you’ll be golden.
- Xi’ri’s Gift – Decent on demand burst and a solid critical strike chance increase.
- The Lightning Capacitor – A trinket best suited for crit heavy arena builds (such as the gaining popularity arcane fire hybrid build) it can, nevertheless, provide some valuable burst.
- Darkmoon Card: Wrath – An excellent choice, if you have the money/time to get it. One of the few trinkets out there that is designed specifically to circumvent resilience.