Several of those of you who commented last week mentioned the wonders of Leatherworking. At first glance, it seems a silly choice for a Mage, and for good reason. Here's the problem: Mages can't wear leather. I don't know if we're allergic to animal skin, or if we've all had some kind of horrific S&M trauma in our past, or if we just haven't learned to channel our inner biker like other classes, but wearing the majority of the items Leatherworking can create simply isn't possible for we men of the cloth. So why take this profession? There's a reason, as it turns out.
Aside from a few decent cloaks, there simply isn't much a Mage can actually use from this profession as he makes the climb to level 70. Frankly, as with Blacksmithing, if you're looking for a profession that's actually useful as you progress through the game, you'll want to avoid Leatherworking. In fact, I'm going to fully advocate learning a different profession for leveling and only switching to Leatherworking at end-game. Unless your Mage is an alt who can be fully subsidized by a more powerful character, you'll want something you can actually use while you progress through the pre-70 content.
So why take a profession that makes things you can't equip? There's a single, very specific reason. In high-end raiding guilds, when statistical min-maxing becomes the order of the day, and you need every advantage you can possibly get to down Illidan, your profession choice becomes less about what gear it can offer (and if you've progressed through high-end raid content, your gear likely outstrips anything you would have taken those other crafting professions for), and more about what statistical advantage it can give you. Many high-end raiders take Enchanting for this reason, due to the enchanter-only enchants it offers, and to a lesser extent, they sometimes take Jewelcrafting for the Bind-on-Pickup gems. They also frequently take Leatherworking, and depending on your guild, it may even be a requirement to participate in certain raids. Why? Well, for these beauties, of course:
Drums of Battle
These have 50 charges each time you make one, and work on a 2 minute cooldown. They last for 30 seconds, and stack with other haste buffs, like Bloodlust. If almost everybody in the raid or party has these, the effect can be kept up for the duration of the fight. This is fantastic for everyone, from caster to melee, and gives the group a very distinct advantage in the encounter.
This profession serves a single, very specific and situational purpose. If you need the Drums of Battle, take the profession. If you don't, don't.
As with Enchanting, Jewelcrafting is a useful profession for every class to have. Every class uses rings, necklaces and trinkets, and prior to the end-game, the accessories Jewelcrafters can make are generally superior to anything available as a drop at the same level.
The rings and necklaces this profession makes are really nice as you level, statistically far better than almost anything available any other way. The unique benefit of Jewelcrafting while leveling, however, is the early access to very useful trinkets. Without Jewelcrafting or Engineering, you'll be waiting for something to fill that trinket slot until you hit level 40 or so, and whatever it is, it won't really be useful. Here are the highlights:
Woven Copper Ring and Braided Copper Ring
These are the first equippable rings in the game, and both help Mages.
A very nice head-piece for the level, and the mats are fairly cheap.
Figurine - Jade Owl
To put it simply, this trinket is awesome for the level. The mana regen is wonderful, and the stats are unique for the level in a trinket-slot item. For perspective, it should be pointed out that the only comparable option at this level is the Rune of Perfection, which is only available if you've been doing a lot of Warsong Gulch, and the next available trinket that's specifically valuable to a Mage is the Fire Ruby from the level 50 Mage quest. There are other trinkets available in-between, but they aren't anywhere near as useful for a Mage...
Figurine - Ruby Serpent
...unless you're talking about this one. If the cooldown were shorter, I'd say it's almost preferable to the Fire Ruby itself. 100 spell damage is whopping at the level, and again, the stats are extremely rare for a trinket anywhere near the level.
Diamond Focus Ring
This is a very nice ring, and you'll likely be making them anyway to level your Jewelcrafting through this stage. The mana regen is superb, and Mages always enjoy a little intellect.
Emerald Crown of Destruction
Another very nice head-piece. 30 spell damage will likely last you into Outland, and spell crit is always welcome.
Jewelcrafting is full of high-end BoP gems and jewelry, and it seems like every patch adds more fun reasons to be a crafter of jewels at level 70.
Don Julio's Heart
The design requires you to be revered with The Consortium, but this is one of the unique gem rewards for being a Jewelcrafter. You can only equip one, which is lame, but when you're min-maxing end-game, every little advantage counts.
Blood of Amber
This is a another unique, BoP gem. It requires revered with The Sha'tar.
Pendant of Sunfire
Presumably, this drops from the trash in Sunwell Plateau. As far as I know, it hasn't been sighted on the live realms yet, but ooh baby. The design is not BoP, but the necklace is. Mage Jewelcrafters in high-end raiding guilds? Here, this is for you. Enjoy.
Figurine - Crimson Serpent
This is purchased from the Shattered Sun Offensive reputation vendor, and requires revered reputation with that same faction. Then it is created as soon as the very rare and expensive mats can be obtained, equipped at the speed of light, and used with pride every time the cooldown is up, sometimes while laughing gleefully.
It's hard not to recommend Jewelcrafting, no matter the class. This profession has unique benefits for every kind of player out there, and Mages are no exception. Excellent while leveling, and full of win at end-game, you really can't go wrong with Jewelcrafting.
It's hard to overstate the value of being able to make your own potions. Alchemy is truly a utility profession, of great worth to every class without exception. As an alchemical Mage, you will bring added value to every instance and raid by being able to provide potions and elixirs, you will have the incalculable financial self-sufficiency that comes with being able to perform your own transmutes and create your own mana potions, and you will have access to a very nice end-game Mage trinket.
As a leveling Mage, wouldn't you love to always have a stack of mana potions around to use, without having to hit the auction house? It goes without saying that none of the wonderful buff-potions made by Alchemy are BoP, but it's incredibly nice to be able to make your own on the fly, and not have to rely on others to make them and sell them to you. Here's a sampling of what you'll be able to enjoy as you burn or freeze your way to level 70.
Elixir of Wisdom
It's always nice to be a little smarter.
Elixir of Greater Intellect
Though drinking strange liquid from a flask in real life can sometimes add courage and remove inhibitions, it almost never adds intellect. Not in my experience, anyway. Good thing WoW isn't real life.
Greater Arcane Elixir
Spell damage! Mages like spell damage.
Flask of Supreme Power
This effect persists through death and lasts for 2 hours, so your party members and raid-mates will love you for handing these and other flasks out.
Super Mana Potion
How many of these do you use on a typical raid? Now imagine that instead of paying exorbitant prices for them on the AH, you could just make your own? Nice, yeah?
Everything that you loved about leveling with Alchemy, you'll still love at end-game. Making your own potions and elixirs is a wonderful thing for any raiding Mage. The only really unique, BoP thing Alchemy has to offer us is new as of Patch 2.4.
Sorcerer's Alchemist Stone
The spell damage is really nice, but the best benefit here is that 40% buff to any mana potions you use. That's a big buff. With this puppy equipped, not only can you make your own mana pots, they'll give you back 40% more mana each time you use one. This little wonder requires that you be exalted with the Shattered Sun Offensive, but if you've been doing your dailies, you may already be there. If you haven't been, why not? Get to it, it's free money. If you do all of them every day, you'll be exalted in like two weeks or something.
If gear isn't your biggest concern, Alchemy is a great choice for Mages, as with every other class. Being able to stock your own potions and keep extra buffs constantly up is invaluable. It's important to note, however, that nothing here, with the exception of the trinket, is unique to Alchemists. You can certainly buy whatever potions and elixirs you wish, without having to actually take up the profession. It's just that being an Alchemist makes it a whole lot easier and far less expensive.
Now for a little bit on the three secondary professions, which every Mage should take anyway.
I know what you may be thinking: "I know how to cook already: I click this button in my spellbook, and poof, a pile of magical croissants manifest themselves before me." Many Mages neglect this profession because they can create their own food. Here's why you shouldn't: buffs! You can't get those from any otherworldly donuts that I'm aware of. Here are a few examples:
Crunchy Spider Surprise
Stamina and spirit are the standbys throughout the old-world content, but things get more interesting when you reach Outland.
Mana per 5!
And spell damage!
And spell crit! See? Now go level cooking. Plus the daily cooking quests are easy money.
There are three reasons I can think of to level this profession. Firstly, it helps you to level Cooking. Secondly, it allows you to catch your own fish to make those fantastic end-game recipes. And thirdly, you can do those incredibly lucrative fishing daily quests. I know it takes forever to level Fishing. I know it's boring. I usually level it without looking at the screen while watching sports or keeping an eye on the kids or something. I just turn up the volume and click whenever the splash sound happens. It works.
How many other ways do you have to heal yourself? No, besides those ensorcelled cinnamon rolls you just summoned from god knows where. Don't you have enough down-time as it is, what with all the drinking? If you PvP at all, you need bandages, especially in Arena. Train up this profession, and never leave home without a stack of Heavy Netherweave Bandages. You'll be happy you did the next time you freeze somebody in place, Blink behind a pillar and need a quick way to heal yourself.
Now we get to the fun part. Why discuss things you already know about when you can spout wild, uninformed theories about things you have no knowledge of whatsoever. Hey, if it works for Fox News, it'll work for me, right?
So what do we know about this profession, coming to us in Wrath of the Lich King, whenever that may arrive? Not a lot. We know it'll be similar to Enchanting, but will affect our spells and abilities instead of our gear. We know that one inscription in particular, called Demonic Runes, made its way into the 2.4 patch files, so we have a small idea of what we're in for. Inscription will allow us to augment our existing spells and abilities with changes to things like cooldowns, damage, crit chance, or actual spell mechanics.
Here's what we don't know:
Will this profession have an associated gathering profession, or will one be attached to the profession itself, similar to Disenchant? Will it have a recipe for every ability of every class (very unlikely), or will it only have inscriptions for certain commonly used spells (likely)? Will there be certain spells that are only usable by the Inscriptor (is it okay if I pretend that's a word?) on his own abilities, as a reward for taking up the profession (probably)? Will there be any created items involved in the class, as with every other profession, like a trinket or device?
Let's not let what we don't know stop us from indulging in random supposition with little to no basis in fact.
This could prove to be the single most important end-game profession for a Mage. I presume that in both end-game PvP and PvE, it will become expected for every Mage to have certain inscriptions on certain spells. This will be similar to the way a raiding Mage would currently be expected to have specific enchants and gems. Here's the difference, though. Stats can be obtained other ways. If you decide to put a spell crit gem in a piece of gear, you could always put spell damage on it as well with an enchant. Now apply that thinking to the inscription example given by Gabe Kaplan at Blizzcon, which may or may not ever be implemented: adding a knock-back effect to your Fireball spell. How would you otherwise duplicate that effect? Barring new talents, I can't think of a way.
From what we know, Inscription will create physical items that give the actual enchants, like scrolls, which can then be traded or sold. Even if your Mage doesn't take this profession, he/she will still be able to take advantage of most of the benefits, it seems. Considering that every other profession saves its very best and most unique creations for those who have taken up the actual profession itself, I shudder to think what Inscription might offer. Actually, I don't shudder at all, unless it's with joy. I love to think about this stuff. Here's what I see happening:
Scroll: Inscribe Spell - Flaming Death Nuke of Death
Binds when picked up
Requires Inscription (450)
Requires New and Improved Argent Dawn - Exalted
Use: Teaches you how to permanently enchant
your Pyroblast spells to kill your target so
completely that they cease to exist, deleting the
character from the game. Best used against
Warlocks. Spells can only have one inscription.
It'll happen. You watch.
Every week Arcane Brilliance teleports you inside the wonderful world of Mages and then hurls a Fireball in your face. Check out our two-part look at Mage match-ups with other classes in PvP, or our recent look at the new caster gear in patch 2.4. 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'.