10 more levels means 10 more talent points. What to do with them? I'm sure you can think of something productive, but here are a few of the generally accepted builds that have become popular on the beta. Keep in mind that these are all endgame DPS-maximized specs. You may well want some different talents for leveling, and we'll go over PvP builds in some future column.

0/53/18 Frostfire Build

This brings into play as many of the talents that affect Frostfire Bolt as possible, and results in what is currently the highest-DPS spec available at the new endgame. With this spec, you'll want to begin each fight by casting Scorch until the Improved Scorch debuff is fully stacked, then cast Living Bomb, apply Icy Veins and Combustion, and throw out Pyroblast until you get a Hot Streak started, then spam Frostfire Bolt, pausing only to reapply Scorch or Living Bomb, or when Icy Veins and Combustion come off cooldown.

Edit: I'm saying this wrong, Pyroblast doesn't trigger the Hot Streak, it's what you want to cast when the Hot Streak procs. Sorry about the confusion.

68/3/0 Deep Arcane Build

Though it doesn't pack the raw DPS of the Frostfire Build, this build still does some nice damage, and to be perfectly honest, I simply find it more fun. To get the most out of it, you'll either need to tweak it to pick up Slow or have another Mage in the raid who has it, for the purposes of Torment the Weak. Your ideal rotation here is alternating Arcane Blast with Arcane Barrage, throwing out Arcane Missiles whenever Missile Barrage procs, Arcane Power whenever it's off cooldown, and tying Presence of Mind to the occasional Arcane Blast.

20/51/0 Fire Build

This build can actually rival Frostfire's DPS if you have another Mage in the raid with Slow. The rotation here is Scorch for the debuff, Living Bomb, then Combustion/Pyroblast to start off a Hot Streak, followed by--you guessed it--some good old-fashioned Fireball spam. Go forth and burn things, Fire Mages. With your help, the frozen north won't be frozen for much longer.

Edit: Again, Pyroblast is what you cast when Hot Streak procs. Fireball, Frostfire Bolt, Scorch, and Fire Blast are what you cast to get it to proc. The lesson, as always? I'm a moron.

18/0/53 Frost Build

The idea here is pretty similar to Frost PvE now. Keep your Water Elemental up as much as humanly possible for the mana return and added DPS, cast Icy Veins and Cold Snap whenever appropriate and off cooldown, spam Frostbolt, and throw out a Fireball whenever Brain Freeze procs. Fingers of Frost makes casting anything else a DPS loss. This build isn't going to be as damaging as other specs, but it's not terrible. If you want to hurt things in PvE as a Frost Mage, you can certainly do it, and this build or something similar is the way to go.

Unsolicited Commentary

Though Mages as a class are far from perfect (Arcane Blast and Deep Freeze are still in dire need of reworking, we still can't compete with Warlock DPS at the new endgame, and Blizzard still hasn't implemented my Polymorph: Corpse idea), we're a lot stronger going into the new endgame than we were going into the current one. The class as a whole is in relatively good shape, and a lot more fun to play, in this blogger's humble opinion.

We have a lot of new, proc-dependent mechanics that make playing a Mage far more interactive. These are greatly entertaining, but painful to miss. I highly recommend picking up a scrolling battle text mod, something like Mik Scrolling Battle Text or Scrolling Combat Text, that will alert you to each of these procs when they occur. Honestly, I really can't recommend this enough. I hate missing a Missile Barrage proc. Hate. I'll fire out an Arcane Missiles at a squirrel if there are no other mobs in range, rather than waste the proc. It's actually quite satisfying.

So DPS charts and high-end theorycrafting be damned, being a Mage in Northrend is going to be fun. Let's hop on a ship or zeppelin and show the Lich King that his biggest problem isn't the giant Tauren in full-plate armor, wielding two six-foot-long swords, it's the Gnome behind him in the dress. Who's with me? Put your hand down, Warlock. Nobody likes you.

Every week Arcane Brilliance teleports you inside the wonderful world of Mages and then hurls a Fireball in your face. Check out our recent look at how long your gear will last you in Northrend, or our analysis of the current state of the Mage class as we move into the new expansion. If you're sick and tired of all this Mage-talk, there's a veritable treasure trove of guides and tips related to all of the other aspects of WoW over in the WoW Insider Directory. Until next week, keep the Mage-train a-rollin'.

Preparing for Wrath Day 5: Dungeoneering and you