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Arcane Brilliance: Leveling your baby mage

Amanda Rivera

It's only been a few days since Patch 2.3 was released, and you are already itching to create some new alts, aren't you? Totally understandable, lots of lower level characters are getting some love now that the experience gain has been accelerated. But seeing as how that exp boost doesn't kick in until level 20, Arcane Brilliance is here to provide you with some tips and tricks for getting your mage leveled with speed and style. Now, we've already talked about low-level gear, so let's move on to some of the more juicy parts of leveling your baby mage. So roll your new mage in your starting area of choice and meet us after the jump.

For the super mage gods out there: I realize that there are plenty of ways to level a mage, but this guide is my take on the quick and dirty way to get to 20. Perhaps you did it differently, and perhaps you don't even think this worthy of a guide. But that's the lovely thing about our class: we go with what works. In my experience having leveled a couple of mages past their 20's, these tips work, and so I share them with those looking to level their mage alts. This guide is for those who are new to the class, and as such might seem elementary to you, but we all had to learn the basics as some point, right?

Step One, use your keyboard: First things first, get to know your keyboard. The key to leveling fast with a mage is dropping mobs as quickly as possible, and clicking just isn't going to do it. Blizzard just removed our need for /stopcasting macros, so pound those keys like there's no tomorrow.

Step Two, organize your spells: I suggest setting up your UI with the spells laid out in chronological order, basically in the order which you will cast them. Now obviously this will vary with your play style and spec, but generally when you're looking for speed, lining up your spells yourself rather than letting the game set them for you is definitely the way to go. Also, slot the spells where you will have them permanently and never mind the spaces in between. If your Fireball is always in slot 3, you be used to it always being there and will start hitting your spells by memory. Think of it like playing piano. First you start off looking at your fingers, but eventually you begin to play by touch.

I set up my spells like this, organized by frequency of use (ignore Scorch, Cone of Cold and Counterspell, you won't get those spells until after level 20, but this gives you an idea of where I place them.)

The setting up of your UI leads directly into a discussion on spell rotation, which we'll get to in a moment. Before that I wanted to suggest that you take a look at our article on mods and addons, specifically at Quartz. Even with /stopcasting effectively removed from the game, Quartz will let you know when you can hit the button to cast your next spell. This will substantially increase your damage since you will cast faster and kill things faster, thus getting exp faster. If you only install one add-on to level your mage, make it Quartz.

Step Three, spell rotation: When you first create your mage and for the short time that you play through to level 4, mashing Fireball will be your best bet. Once you get Frostbolt at level 4, pull your mob with a Frostbolt and then continue to pound on them with Fireball. The chill effect of Frostbolt will slow the monster while you can fry them to a crisp with your Fireball. Two levels later you'll fold Fire Blast into the rotation, an instant cast spell that is great to place between your Frostbolt and your Fireball. At level 8 you'll receive two key spells, Arcane Missiles and Polymorph, and at level 10 you'll get Frost Nova. With those spells in place you are ready for some serious solo leveling. Before level 10 you'll have to take a lot of hits, but with Frost Nova in the equation you'll be able to keep your advisary at bay long enough to whittle them down to size. The first few ranks of the spell don't last very long, but they will make all the difference between a triumphant mage and a dead one.

At this point things are fairly straightforward. At the beginning of the fight, polymorph an extraneous target if there is one(this is even easier to deal with if you have a focus macro set up), and Frostbolt the first mob. From there the rotation is something along the lines of Frost Nova (back up a few steps) > Fire Blast > Fireball > Arcane Missiles > Fire Blast > Arcane Missiles and you're good. This is a basic, all-around rotation, using everything you've got. It's the sort of rotation that will work well until you progress down your chosen path.

Step Four, spend your points: At level 10 you will begin picking your talents,you're your spell rotation might shift a little as you decide the mage you are going to be. Knowing what kind of spec you're looking to build will help, but it's also good to know which talents to put your points into first. You have 11 points to spend between level 10 and level 20. Here are some suggestions for spending those 11 points depending on your intended spec. If you're unsure of which to take first, work in the order I've given you until you feel more comfortable playing around with the mage talents:

Frost AoE Spec 13/0/48 (this one we'll be covering in detail next week):

  1. Improved Frostbolt 5/5
  2. Elemental Precision 3/3
  3. Improved Frost Nova 2/2
  4. Improved Blizzard 1/2

Heavy Frost 10/0/42:

  1. Improved Frostbolt 5/5
  2. Arcane Subtlety 2/2
  3. Arcane Focus 3/5
  4. Elemental Precision 1/3

Arcane Fire 33/28/0:

  1. Improved Fireball 5/5
  2. Arcane Subtlety 2/2
  3. Arcane Focus 4/5

Full Arcane 61/0/0:

  1. Arcane Missiles 5/5
  2. Arcane Focus 5/5
  3. Arcane Subtlety 1/2

Raiding Fire 10/48/3:

  1. Arcane Subtlety 2/2
  2. Elemental Precision 3/3
  3. Impact 2/5
  4. Improved Fireball 3/5
  5. Ignite 1/5

PvP 0/12/49:

  1. Improved Frostbolt 5/5
  2. Ice Shards 5/5
  3. Impact 1/5

Once you begin to spend your talent points, you'll find it to your advantage to change your spell rotation based on the spells in your chosen school. If you have created a blended spec, often times it is best to use spells from the school of magic you have most points in, but again, this depends what you choose. As I mentioned before, next week we'll look into AoE grinding, the spec to work with, and some tips to get you started.

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