The early years: When you first roll your mage, I recommend you pick up tailoring as soon as you hit level 5. Not only will you be preparing yourself for your future as a mage by leveling your profession along with your character, you will be able to make some decent gear for yourself early on. Taking up enchanting to compliment your tailoring is also recommended, particularly because at your early levels the wands created will be the best you can find. On the other hand, I know mages who are engineers who make some awesome goggles, I know mages who are jewelcrafters and make themselves rings right off the bat. Why do I bring up tradeskills in a discussion about gear? Because much of the best gear a mage can get is crafted. If you choose your professions early you will save both gold and time, both valuable commodities in Azeroth.
Here are just a couple examples of crafted items that a young mage will find invaluable:
- White Linen Robe: BOE, 19 armor, +1 int, level 5. So you're a tailor, right? Right? This little robe will serve you well enough until you can pick up your manaweave robe/lesser spellfire robes from the mage quest at level 15.The linen robe also comes in red if you prefer.
- Lesser Magic Wand: BOE, 11.3 DPS, level 5. If you have picked up enchanting as your secondary skill, this should be one of the first things you make. If not, when you hit level 5 pick one of these up on the AH for about 15 silver. It doesn't do much damage, but it's the best you can get until you get a bit higher in levels, and a wand is a must for when you run out of mana.
- Woven Copper Ring:BOE, unique-equipped, +1 int. While you can only wear one of these, the fact that you can get a ring at level 10 is in and of itself a thing to celebrate. Jewelcrafters can make these, and if you are one, groovy. If not, pick one up for about 10 silver on the AH.
- Ley Staff: BOP, 8.8 DPS, +2 int, +2 spi. This is a quest reward from the first mage quest for the Horde. The alliance version is the same for humans, but for the gnome quest you receive an Arcane Staff with similar stats.
Levels 10-20: You're moving up in the world, heading toward places like The Barrens, Ghostlands, or Westfall. Now that you've learned to conjure water and have spent your first talent point, here are a few items that will help you survive your teens. You'll notice that a lot of items from here on out get considerably better once Patch 2.3 hits. Suddenly mage gear no longer has agility and strength on it, and we all can rejoice:
- Greater Magic Wand: BOE, 17.5 DPS, level 13. Again, support your local enchanter. At 17.5 DPS, this is one of the best wands for its level, and will cost you about 50 silver on the Auction House.
- Firebelcher: BOP, 20.3 DPS, level 15. This wand isn't easy to get, but its DPS is quite lovely. It has a high drop rate from a rare spawn boss call the Deviate Faerie Dragon in Wailing Caverns, who can be found just before the Winding Chasm inside the instance.
- Robe of Evocation: BOP, 32 armor, +3 sta, +4 int, level 13. This is actually the best robe in the game for mages for its level. Being that it drops from fairly frequently from Jergosh the Invoker in Ragefire Chasm, it's a horde-only item, and is the first in a series that will be getting a stat upgrade with Patch 2.3. After the patch the robe will have more stamina and intellect than before, as well as +5 spell critical strike rating. Also, it has the same model as the Horde warlock starting robe, which I always found fetching.
- Crystalline Cuffs: BOP, 14 armor, +1 int, +2 spi, level 13. These bracers are another Horde-only item. They drop about have the time from Taragaman the Hungerer in Ragefire Chasm, and will be getting a buff with Patch 2.3, getting one more point of intellect, and +4 spell damage and healing.
- Lavishly Jeweled Ring: BOP, +2 agi, +6 int, level 17. This is the first of a couple of items that prove that Horde or Alliance, every mage should run The Deadmines. After Patch 2.3 the ring will lose the Agility in favor of +2 spell hit rating. You may have to run the instance a couple times in order to get it to drop from Gilnid, but it will be worth it.
- Cookie's Stirring Rod: BOP, 22.3 DPS, level 17. Another great drop from The Deadmines, this is the best wand in the game for a caster at this level. It drops about one out of every four times from Cookie, the Murloc on the lower deck of the ship.
- Gold-flecked Gloves: BOP, 22 armor, +4 str, +3 int, Level 17. Currently this is one of those items that makes you wonder what the itemization team was thinking when they started working on this instance. A level 17 pair of gloves, they are a fairly frequent drop off Sneed in The Deadmines. The stats currently include both Strength and Intellect, but luckily the Strength will be replaced by +7 spell damage and healing after the patch.
- Phoenix Pants: BOE, 34 armor, +4 int, +10 fire dmg, level 20. If you are a fire mage, then sitting down to sew yourself a set of these is definitely something you want to do as soon as you hit level 20. Not only will you get 4 points of Intellect, you will gain +10 fire spell damage. There is also a pair of gloves that will add +9 to your fire spell damage, although you have to decide for yourself as to whether or not you would forgo the Intellect on the Gold-flecked Gloves for +9 fire spell damage.
- Living Root: BOP, 21.2 DPS, +2 sta, +12 spi, level 20. I love this staff, and although it seems more designed for priests than mages, the changes to the stats in Patch 2.3 make it an excellent weapon for us as well. At level 20 take a trip to the Wailing Caverns and look for this to drop about a third of the time from Verdan the Everliving. Even with my Alliance mage I used to make this trek with guildies that wanted the Fang set, so when I got this to drop, I was quite happy. After the patch you will be happier, since instead of Nature Resistance, this staff will have +6 spell damage and healing.
Here is where I break form and mention a couple items in this bracket that are currently too high level to be used until you gain a few levels. However, they are excellent items that will receive level shifts after Patch 2.3 and so they might as well be placed here:
- Robes of Arugal:BOP, 46 armor, +3 agi, +5 sta, +9 int, +10 spi, level 24. Even with the superfluous Agility, this is a great chest piece. I wore this for several levels afterward, and it will only get yummier when the Agility is replaced by +12 spell damage and healing, and has its level lowered to 20. Look for it to drop about one out of three times you fight Archmage Arugal in Shadowfang Keep.
- Belt of Arugal: BOP 26 armor, +2 agi, +10 int, +3 spi, level 24. Yep, Archmage Arugal is the guy to see again, this time for his belt. This belt will also become a level 20 item after the patch, as well as have its Agility replaced by +2 spell damage and healing.
Looking over this list, is there anything that you recall being one of your favorite pieces for your first few levels? What weapon or armor piece could you never have gone without? Next week we will move into the 30's and 40's, exploring a mage gear buffet for the mid-range levels. Until then, may your casting be swift, and your Arcane Powder never run empty.