Arcane Brilliance: Professions for Mages, part 1

Christian Belt
C. Belt|04.04.09

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Arcane Brilliance: Professions for Mages, part 1

Each week Arcane Brilliance thinks about its career as a Mage. It considers which profession to pursue, and polishes up its résumé:

Previous job-titles: Sweet DPS, Table-whore, Sheep-bot

Job skills: Can blow stuff up good. Able to conjure 400 strudels per minute (depending on lag). Can teleport. Hates Warlocks...

Now that the PTR class changes for patch 3.1 seem to have died down a bit, we can finally talk about other things. I asked last week for topic suggestions, and you guys responded in typically spectacular fashion. That's one of the best parts about writing a column for Mages: my readership is made up of freaking Mages. I can always count on you guys to be smart and well as complete nutjobs.

Suggestions ranged from relatively normal (PvP tactics), to angry and bitter (One guy is switching his main to a Death Knight because Mages apparently suck now), to mean (I should rename the column from "Arcane Brilliance" to "QQ"), to clever (the most effective places to AoE farm, since, you know, we are the kings of AoE), to disturbing (Top 10 ways to cook and serve Warlock on a budget). Okay, so I made the last one up. Several of you thought a column on profession choices for Mages would be a good idea. So, that's what you're getting this week. Well, the first part of it. I plan to do this in installments, which may or may not come on concurring weeks. The next part will probably be coming along next Saturday, barring any crazy patch-news or my sudden demise.

Those of you who've been reading this column for awhile may remember the last time Arcane Brilliance dealt with professions for Mages. So much has changed since then--both for Mages as a class and for the professions themselves--that I felt an all-new multi-part guide was in order.

When the Lich King and his wrath descended upon Azeroth, almost every aspect of the game changed substantially, and professions were no exception. In the Burning Crusade, your choice of a profession was largely determined by the usefulness of that profession's best recipes for your class, or the benefits it bestowed upon your raid. Cloth-wearer? Tailoring. Warrior? Blacksmithing. In a Sunwell guild? Leatherworking. Since all of the best gear recipes were bind-on-pickup, a lot of Mages went with Tailoring, sewed themselves up some sweet Spellfire gear, and then went to Karazhan and replaced it. Then they dropped it for mining or something.

Things have changed in Wrath. The best gear recipes are now almost entirely bind-on-equip. You can pick them up in the auction house for a reasonable price. You don't have to be a Jewelcrafter to get a Titanium Spellshock Ring. You don't have to be a Tailor to equip a Deathchill Cloak. Gathering professions are no longer just to supplement your crafting profession, or to make money by farming mats. They all carry with them inherent bonuses that increase as you level them. The coming patch will change these professions even further. We'll be receiving new recipes galore, changes to existing recipes, and even major changes to the actual mechanics of certain professions.

We'll take a look at a few professions each week, and analyze them from the point of view of a Mage. We'll look at their relative value to our class in two areas, since WoW is really two separate games in one: leveling, and end-game.


We'll begin with the old Mage stand-by. Mages wear cloth. Tailoring produces cloth gear. No-brainer, right?
  • Leveling:
It's hard to overstate the convenience of being able to make your own pants. This is as true in real life as it is in WoW. As you level your Mage, no profession will serve your gearing needs more consistently than Tailoring. You'll be able to craft your own robes, belts, bracers, boots, gloves, cloaks, headgear, and of course, trousers as you quest your way through Azeroth and Outland.

Tailoring is also special in that it requires no gathering profession to augment it, leaving your second profession slot open to whatever you choose. This is a pretty big advantage, and its value is difficult to overstate. A lot of folks couple it with Enchanting, which also requires no gathering profession. We'll talk more about Enchanting in another column.

Once you hit the shores of Northrend, you'll be able to farm a lot of cloth thanks to Northern Cloth Scavenging, thus earning you loads of money if you choose to sell it.

And of course, the other nice leveling perk of Tailoring is the ability to craft your own bags. This is a tremendous benefit while leveling. It's not a big deal if you have tons of money and access to other people's bags, but really: who wants to touch other people's bags? Do you know where those bags have been?
  • End-game
But here's where it all sort of falls apart. This used to be the part of the game where Tailoring really came into its own for Mages, allowing us to craft our awesome pre-Kara gear sets. With everything being bind-on-equip, there's no longer as many good reasons to stick with Tailoring for the purposes of min-maxing. The gear this profession makes is definitely good, but you can always get it from somebody else, and other professions simply have better perks to offer. I still prefer wearing my own pants, but I'm in the minority, I guess.

Now, don't get me wrong. Tailoring is by no means worthless. I have it on my Mage, simply because I can't bear to let it go after getting so much out of it for 80 levels. Nostalgia aside, here's the nuts and bolts of what it offers:
  1. Cheaper pant enchants. Yes, our special bind-on-pickup leg enchants are identical, stat-wise, to the ones we can make for everybody else. But instead of having to use a bunch of Eternals to make ours, we can just use an Eternium Thread. Let's hear it for saving money! Still, cheapness aside, the enchants are the same. I guess enchanted pants, at the end of the day, are still enchanted pants, no matter how much they cost to make. My mom was right when she bought me those acid-washed jeans at Kmart. Pants really are just pants. Kmart-bought acid-washed jeans are really crappy pants, but whatever. I'm still bitter, Mom.
  2. Unique cloak enchants. There are a lot of cloak enchants out there, but Tailors can give themselves a couple of pretty nice ones. Darkglow Embroidery gives you a chance to restore 300 mana on every spellcast. The Lightweave version gives you a similar chance to score an extra 1,000 to 1,200 holy damage on spellcasts. The proc rate appears to be pretty high, but each effect has about a 60 second internal cooldown, so neither embroidery will proc more than once per minute. The Lightweave, especially, is rather nice for Mages, increasing your DPS by about 20, assuming it procs every minute. As cloak-enchants go, that's about the best straight DPS increase you're going to find out there.

This is probably the single best option out there for Mages right now, on a pure-min-maxing level.
  • Leveling
There are a lot of good reasons to be a Jewelcrafter while leveling. The rings and necklaces you can craft with this professions will be consistently better and available earlier than those you can gain from any other source as you level. The Jewelcrafter-only trinkets you can make are incredibly useful, and will be available as early as level 35, a level at which it used to be nearly impossible to find any kind of trinket at all, let alone a good one.

Mages specifically will enjoy several of the nice cloth head-pieces Jewelcrafting offers relatively cheaply. These are excellent options during leveling, comparable to anything Tailoring offers. Still, this profession manages to really come into its own as you progress into the final stages of the game.

The single best pre-naxx caster ring in the game, the Titanium Spellshock Ring, can be made by Jewelcrafters. Though you'll see them in the auction house, you can make them much cheaper yourself, and then make a tidy profit making them for others.
  • End-game
When min-maxing becomes important, Jewelcrafting truly shines. The benefits it offers to Mages are substantial:
  1. Bind-on-pickup gems: you can equip three of these, and they are not unique, meaning you can stack three of the same one. There's one that gives 27 intellect, one for haste rating, one for crit, or one that gives you the same amount of all-important hit rating. The nicest one, though, gives 32 spellpower. That's a lot of spellpower, especially with three of them. 96 spellpower from three gem slots? Yes please.
  2. Bind-on-pickup Trinkets: The best of these are quite nice. The most valuable one to Mages, especially those who are gearing up for Naxxramas, is probably the Twilight Serpent. It gives a sizable chunk of beautiful, beautiful hit rating and an on-use spellpower boost. It also has two fat gem sockets. You could fill them with some of those sexy BoP gems we talked about a paragraph ago. As pre-raid trinkets go, this one is pretty awesome.
Gathering profession boosts

If you take Jewelcrafting, you might also choose Mining to farm mats for it. If you do, your perk at level 80 is an extra 50 stamina, which will help if you PvP a lot, but for raiding purposes isn't really worthwhile.

Herbalism gives you a nifty little heal-over-time spell, which at max rank grants 2,000 health over 5 seconds. In raids, again, this isn't really a good option. In PvP, though, this has its uses. Not only is it a small health boost on a three-minute cooldown, it can also be used while invisible, which can come in very handy.

Skinning is a better PvE option as far as gathering professions go, granting a small critical strike rating boost. We all like crits, yes? Still, if you're min-maxing for end-game raiding, you may want to ditch your gathering profession for something that provides more benefit to Mages.

Next week we'll look at a few more professions. Which ones? Well, probably not Tailoring, Jewelcrafting, Mining, Herbalism, or Skinning. I'm just guessing, here. Stay tuned, Mage/profession fans. Screw you, everybody else!

Every week Arcane Brilliance teleports you inside the wonderful world of Mages and then hurls a Fireball in your face. Check out our recent guide to gearing your Mage for Naxxramas, or our look at a few ideas for dual speccing your Mage. Until next week, keep the Mage-train a-rollin'.

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