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Arcane Brilliance: Mage guide to quest rewards -- the early levels

Christian Belt
It's time again for Arcane Brilliance, the weekly mage column that proves each and every week that there's no such thing as too much warlock hate. You might think there's some kind of limit, that at some point a constant stream of warlock hate crosses the boundary of good taste -- but you'd be wrong. Each joke at the expense of a warlock, like each episode of Breaking Bad, is more satisfying than the one before it. On a related note, Bryan Cranston is a god. Nothing in the above paragraph can be disputed.

I'm realizing something as I level the stinking warlock you guys thought it would be fun to have me create, and that's how incredibly fast the leveling process is these days. Gone are the days when your best bet was to pick a zone and then quest it out before moving on to the next one. I was over-leveled for the first quests in Ghostlands before I was even halfway done with Eversong Woods, and I wasn't even trying that hard. In fact, I was more actively engaged in finding new and creative ways to get myself killed than I was in questing efficiently.

The fact is, you can now absolutely pick and choose while leveling. Which zone? Which quest? Do I want to just bag the whole thing and hit some random dungeons? If something is unsavory -- say, you find yourself shackled to a quest in which you need zhevra hooves, only it is becoming rapidly apparent that none of the zhevra you're killing actually have feet -- you can skip it with negligible consequences. You're just going to come back and do it later for your Loremaster achievements anyway, right?

So today, and probably in the coming weeks (I have no idea if I'll attempt to bring these guides to you consecutively, but I might), I'm going to try to provide you with something of a sightseeing guide for your accelerated tour through Azeroth. But instead of pointing you toward destinations like Hoover Dam or the Louvre, I'm going to direct you toward a selection of particularly worthwhile quest rewards. If you do nothing else in these zones, do these quests. Today we'll focus on classic WoW, and hopefully tackle Burning Crusade and Wrath rewards in the coming weeks.

So gather your robes about you, plant your staff firmly into the path ahead and bring lots of conjured water. Our destination today? Phat loot.

A note on organization (or lack of it):

These will be primarily listed by level range and secondarily by zone. Simply scan the section for whatever level you happen to be, then look for the zones you wish to quest within. I'll also be marking rewards that are faction-specific, so you can easily eliminate those that your faction can't obtain. Keep in mind that the level I'm listing within the parentheses following the quest name is the minimum level at which you can pick up the quest. In most cases, it may be quite difficult to actually complete the quest at this level, but at least you can go get it in your quest log. The list will by no means be comprehensive. I've simply selected those quest rewards that I think are especially worth going out of your way for. Feel free to add things that I've missed in the comments below.

Levels 1-10

In this range, there simply isn't a whole lot going on, and you're typically not going to be moving beyond your racial starting zone anyway on a pilgrimage for a staff that has 1 point of intellect on it or whatever. My one piece of advice probably goes without saying: do your mage quests. I won't list each quest individually. Just visit your mage trainer at level 10 and pick up the quest for your race.

Unless you have some awesome one-handed weapon to go with the orb, take the staff. It'll probably be your first weapon with actual stats on it, and it'll give you a nice boost for the next few levels. A couple additional items to look for:

Levels 11-20

This is a good selection of exceptionally powerful staves for the level at which you can acquire them. You'll notice a theme as we go through these early levels, and that theme is that the quest rewards are way better if you're a blood elf or draenei (or if you're some other race and just make the trip to the blood elf/draenei starting areas). So do with that information what you will. Also noteworthy, the dungeon quests can be obtained at a far lower level than they can reasonably be completed. Still, they're more than worth picking up early, so that when that dungeon pops up in the random finder, you're ready for it.

Again, do your mage quests. You're a mage.

In all likelihood, this will be your first opportunity at some nice shoulder armor. You won't be able to really complete the quest until level 18ish, but pick it up anyway.

I have no specific suggestions for Alliance cloaks or bracers at this level range; most of what's out there simply doesn't have mage-specific stats. Take what you can get here, and keep in mind that stamina is a great leveling stat for mages.

Levels 21-30
As we progress into the mid and upper ranges of the leveling process, the options become even more numerous and varied. I'm going to limit my suggestions even more, mentioning only those rewards that I feel are especially noteworthy.

If the shoulder piece from Wailing Caverns isn't on your radar, these are the next ones you should aim for.

Here you have a two-fer. That hood, for you Horde mages, sucks hard. But it's probably the first head piece you'll be able to get your mitts on, so snatch it up when you can. Plus, you get a wand! This quest line is much easier in a group. Just saying.

Best belt out there for a while, really. The quest can take a while to complete, and makes you run around a lot for no defensible purpose, but is well worth it.

Great rewards from these dungeon quests, and worth doing a fairly tiresome instance to get.

Again, if you're a mage, mage quests are mandatory. It's a rule. And because I'm writing this, I get to make up the rules as I go along. My next rule: Pants are optional. Also, I declare June 5 to be the start of warlock season. Happy hunting!

That's it for the first 30 levels of sweet quest loot. Next, we'll tackle the rest of the old world, before moving on to Outland and Northrend. I don't know when I'll get them done, but hopefully it'll be before Cataclysm arrives and renders everything I've just written completely worthless. So what did I miss? Which quests rewards did you get the most mileage out of on your mage? Which ones do you always recommend to leveling mages?

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 much I hate damage meters or our lengthy series of mage leveling guides. Until next week, keep the mage-train a-rollin'.

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