This isn't going to be a leveling guide or anything like that. I'm not going to be listing all of the gear you'll be picking up on the way to Arthas. My intention here is to talk a little bit about some of the new abilites in store for Mages as we climb to level 80.
The first new spell Mages will be able to learn as they level is also one of the most important. Fittingly, Mages will be the first to visit the magical city of Dalaran. You obtain this spell through completing a relatively simple quest as early as level 71. You can pick it up with no other prerequisite by traveling to Dragonblight at level 71. It isn't especially difficult to complete, even at that level. Once you've done so, you can hang out in Dalaran with all of the other Mages and feel special for a little while. Everybody else has to wait until level 74, so that gives us like an hour to have the city to ourselves, I guess. Mages can learn the portal version of this spell at that same level, at which point we can start charging exorbitant amounts for ports to Dalaran for everybody and everybody's alts. It's kind of a dick move, I know, but I consider it payback for all of the times I've ported people in the past and they haven't even tipped enough to cover the cost of the reagent. Screw you, everybody.
We'll talk more about this later, but Frostfire Bolt is currently the most effective nuke at endgame, with the right spec. If you aren't excited about this spell yet, you might want to start getting that way. Benefiting from almost every talent that affects either Fire or Frost spells, this spell coupled with an elementalist spec produces the highest sustained DPS at the new endgame. It isn't sexy. It isn't flashy or fun. It's just a high-damage nuke that can double-dip in talents like no other nuke in the game. For all the talk Blizzard keeps spouting about wanting to move away from the old raid-model of spamming one primary nuke over and over, what they've given us here is a spell that a large contingent of raiders will begin to spec entirely around and use almost exclusively.
The spell is trainable at level 75, and will damage both Frost-immune and Fire-immune mobs indriscriminately. Its 3 second cast-time can't be talented down, and currently Elemental Precision grants it 6% (and possibly more) extra chance to hit instead of just 3%. The mana cost reduction is still just 3%. Presumably, this is a bug, but while it lasts, it's nice.
Another new addition at level 75, this spell marks the last time Mages will have to waste an inventory spot on water and another one on food. Just in time for Thanksgiving, we'll be able to summon ourselves a nice batch of pumpkin pie (ok, the game calls it mana pie, but I think we all know what that icon really is), which apparently restores both health and mana. Convenient, and tasty.
It's been awhile since we talked about this spell, and a few things have changed. One thing that hasn't changed? Its pure, unadulterated awesomeness.
The new level 80 spell for Mages, Mirror Image instantly summons three identical copies of the caster. These copies are entirely independent and uncontrollable. They cast Frostbolt and Fire Blast at your primary target, and sometimes Polymorph a secondary target, though you can't count on anything with these knuckleheads. They pretty much cast whatever they want at whoever they please, and yes, that can cause problems. They generate a high amount of threat and have their own health and mana pools, which are about a third or so of the size of your own. Their hit rating scales with your own, but their spellpower, crit, and haste are fixed. DPS-wise, they dish out approximately 15,000 damage over the course of 30 seconds, at which point they die.
The spell is instant-cast, and off the global cooldown. It can be used once every three minutes. The caster no longer switches places with the copies upon casting, which is nice. If a mob or another player has you targeted when you cast the spell, they will automatically be switched from you to one of your copies, making this a nice defensive spell. The copies function like pets set to aggressive, and they mean business. They will immediately begin attacking any hostile targets in range once you cast the spell. They have no problem breaking crowd control effects, or even polymorphing (and healing) a primary target in group situations, so you sometimes have to be selective about casting it. These guys aren't too bright, but what they do, they do well. And what they do is kill stuff.
The spell is a nice DPS boost in PvE, a fantastic panic-button, and something of an I-win button in PvP. Bugs and unpredictability and scaling issues aside, it's great fun and a nice reward for completing the journey to level 80. Enjoy!