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November 5, 2007
World of Warcraft Class Focus – Mage

By Mark Arsenault

Ah … glass cannons. A love - hate relationship that has been YEARS in the making. We all love the raw, unbridled destruction that such a class can rain down upon its foes, while cursing moments later as they get flat out destroyed by the raptor that came in from the left, and brought a friend from the right. Those raptors are tricky little buggers aren't they?

The mage class in World of Warcraft is one of the highest damage dealing classes, and depending on the circumstances, can often be THE highest. As with all classes in WoW, the talent point distribution determines the method and volume of damage dealt over time. Fire/ Arcane spec mages deal the best burst DPS, while a Frost build mage has better survivability over the long term, and will deal more damage in longer fights. While there are practically infinite talent builds available, here are links to the 2 most common builds:

Fire / Arcane (Burst DPS)
Frost (Defense)

Of course, gear plays a huge factor as well. Aside from the obvious focus on intelligence and + damage, resilience and + spell crit are equally important to rounding out either a defense or burst damage build. All of the epic armor pieces available from the Arena system take all of these 4 basic character requirements into consideration, and distribute the statistics fairly evenly across them with a full set.

For those who choose to do more than just PvP in order to get access to some better gear, there is of course countless combinations of raid gear. From the lower end instances such as Karazhan and Gruul's Lair, most pieces are on par or close to the PvP pieces. Once you get into Tempest Keep and Black Temple however, the drops are considerably better, but much more difficult to acquire. Unless you are part of a VERY hardcore raiding guild, the PvP set mixed from some low end dungeon drops will be your best bet.

All of the nitty gritty aside, arguably the most fun that can be found in WoW is area affect killing with a mage. Nobody does it better, and if you have a healer in your pocket, you are practically invincible. Fire / Arcane mages generally round mobs up on their mount, dismount and Frost Nova to root them in place. The next best thing to do is lead in with a Flamestrike (Presence of Mind enhanced, if available), and then start spamming Arcane Explosion until Frost Nova is up again. Nova, back up and continue with Arcance Explosion until everything lies in ruins around your feet. This is made trivial with a healer backing you up, who won't likely pass you in threat, thus keeping them relatively free to chain heal. The key factor is to make sure that you don't round up more mobs than you can handle, preferably ones with no range attacks at all. Start with 3 or 4, and work your way up to 8 -10 slowly. Depending on your armor and resilience, you may be able to kill even more than that simultaneously when paired with a healer. However, it can be difficult to find a good spot with that many non-range mobs at the same time, especially before they drop off and return to their home spot when trying to round them up.

AE killing with a Frost Mage requires a bit more of a subtle hand, is relatively risk free to the mage, does not require a backup healer, and of course there is the bonus of DOUBLE XP. It is critically important to NOT spec for Frostbite (for PvE … it's a great talent for PvP), as the root effect will break up your grouping and make AE considerably more difficult. Again, mount and round up all the mobs you can handle, and get ready make use of all those wonderful chill effects to slow the mobs. Frost Nova and Blink to get some distance, and then start chain casting Blizzard. Once the mobs get low enough in health, another Nova followed by a well-placed Cone of Cold will generally finish them off. If you are a sissy, you can throw up a mana shield in there somewhere, but you should not need it at all if you watch your positioning vs. the mobs.

To top it all off, mages are loved because they are the ultimate utility belt for every group. Free water, free food, portals left and right, crowd control ability via Polymorph and Frost Nova - who wouldn't love you? Healer and tank aside, mages are usually the best third round draft pick when forming a solid team for a dungeon run, or for the elite quests that abound. If all of this does not make you want to roll a mage, then tune in tomorrow for our next class focus - perhaps that will be more to your liking!

About the Author
Mark is a self-professed WoW junkie, having leveled practically every class to the cap on both Horde and Alliance. While some would argue this makes him an expert on class development, talent builds, and the intricacies of group balance, the god's honest truth is that he just can't decide which class he likes best. One day, he hopes to bring his message of peace and love to the world, but until then he will slay mercilessly into the wee hours of the night, praying the powers that be don't pull his cable in a vain attempt to silence him.


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