The sizzle as a firebolt snaps through the air and explodes against my enemies brings me pleasure. Few things electrify my blood more than chaining a group of my enemies to the ground in shackles of ice and then scorching that very same ground with molten fire. My name is Meritus Bayle and I deal in death.
Being a mage is unlike any other profession; you must be nimble and ready to maneuver yourself out of harms way and into victory. You must be thoughtful in how you manage crowds when in groups and most importantly you must be careful how angry you make your enemies. After all, if you unleash your full fury of magic mayhem in one quick volley, it will become evident to your prey very quickly who the biggest threat is.
Mano y Mano
The best place to solo is wide open terrain. When you can dart around the battlefield without picking up adds, you can be most effective with your hit and run spells. Cramped confines like dungeons where you must plant your feet and fight can be much more difficult.
I Am Invincible!
When fighting an enemy in the open, your level or a few above is child’s play for a good mage. Death only comes to those mages who are overly confident and are rarely cautious. Frost nova is your exit pass and conjured water is the refreshment to get you back in the game.
Begin your assault on your unwitting victim with a frost bolt; with its slowing affect you can get off an extra spell as it crawls toward you. Pull out a fireball as your second spell. Its rocking impact will please you as will the slow burn that its heat leaves on your target. By now your victim is enraged and within striking distance. At this point you drop the instant cast fireblast followed by a quick frost nova. Depending on your level and level of your target, the damage you have inflicted will leave him at around half his health. Your frost nova has left him chained in ice staring at you blankly as you pull back. At this point most mages flee to the full distance that they can retreat while their nova holds. I find that it is best to drop just out of melee range and lay another frost bolt on them. If you have invested your talents enough in arcane, you an now lay down an arcane bolt on them that will end their misery. With five points spent in arcane bolt you can cast 5 bolts without a chance of being interrupted (as of push 3). This will almost always leave your quarry dead, unless you are hunting well above your level. Even a few levels above you and they will be near dead. At this point your fireblast will be cooled down (so use it again) and your frost nova will be ready as well. If pulled off right, you should have only been hit once and still have some mana left over in case any of his buddies joined up.
Guess Who Is Coming to Dinner?
Mages hold power enough to drop an entire party of enemies. However, we wither like flame before water when more than one enemy focuses its attention upon us. In fact even a summoned snake, capable of being killed in a single crack of your staff, can cause you to die when fighting your enemies. Additional enemies or “adds” have two negative effects cards they bring to the table. The first is naturally “more damage” in that as a soft and squishy mage, you can not take much of it. The second is “interrupts”. Each time you are struck by a melee attack it slows down your casting of a spell. If it is one enemy pounding on you, you will get the spell off in time, but two or more and you may never get it off at all. This is why a couple low level creatures can be more deadly than one big mean sumuvabich to a mage.
When fighting solo, adds are deadly. They essentially separate the great mages from the good mages. A great mage can juggle polymorph (turning the add in to a sheep) and then dealing with the original. A good mage can frost nova his way out of the fight and live to fight another day and the bad mage sits there trying to cast a fireball as they both pound him back to the graveyard.
The Walls Are Closing In
Dungeons are not the best place for mages to solo. If you find yourself needing to solo in the cramped confines of a dungeon, be sure that you can handle two or more at the same time of whatever is inside. The reason being is that either you, or your prey is bound to wander into some of his buddies.
Polymorphed sheep like to wander. Mages trying to get some distance to get off a spell do to. Avoid dungeons solo. They can be done, but will likely result in a trip or two through Black and White land.
A good mage is always welcome but there are enough bad mages out there that many groups would rather pass on us. Bad mages end up dead once things get ugly. They act like teenagers with their first chance to score, by blowing their mana all over the room in one big clumsy act of inept exuberance. Then, because the healers cast a half dozen heals on them to keep the mage alive, the healers go next and so the cookie crumbles.
However, a good mage will save a group every time. I think of a good mage like a multiplier. If your group can take 2-3 mobs in an area with only a few nukes from you, then when the going gets tough you should be able to take 4-6. It takes a lot of practice to get good at but when done right you can truly lay some serious hurt on your enemies.
In a group there are three basic roles for you to play. A good group that is balanced for the area you are in will allow you to play which ever one you want. However, if you are under or overpowered for the area it will push you in one direction or another.
Say Hello to My Little Friend
Your basic role is to simply be around to lay some good thump spells on the pulls that have been laid before you. If you give your tank a few seconds to build some agro before laying the smack down, then you should never be attacked when getting solo pulls. In groups like these, you generally have mana to spare and life or death doesn’t hang with every pull.
Two’s Company Three’s a Crowd
When your group really has a tough time with two, then you need to put yourself on crowd control duty. Or “Sheep Herding” as I call it. This puts you near the front of the group, just behind the puller and its your job to watch the pull and make sure that if three or more is incoming, that you are going to turn the most dangerous one in to a sheep. Some argue that you should pick the weakest, but I disagree. Let your party drop the easy ones quickly, otherwise you may have to sheep the little guys longer and they could wander in to trouble. Some times when on sheep patrol you can be tempted to blast the unsheeped enemy however, usually this will be right as sheep number one poofs back in to the raging mob whose pride you’ve just wounded. If that second or third mob is too much to handle keep your attention on keeping him sheeped, even if it means not laying a spell or two on the other guy.
I am a Mushroom Cloud Laying Mother……
If you are in a group in which your group outclasses the enemies and a few adds can be handled here and there, then you can really have some fun. Area of Effect spells gain a ton of agro and consequently you can’t go buck wild with them as all that agro needs to be gathered by others or all the mobs will keep coming after you. So if you want to play this role routinely in your group you need to be in a group where the others have the ability to bring them down quickly. With effective use of mana shield and frost nova, you can get through all your mana before taking serious damage. You may also have delivered around 300 damage to every foe in your vicinity with a Flame Strike/ Blizzard combo. Ask your priest to give you a damage shield each time he sees your Blizzard go off and you can really spread the pain around.
The Voodoo That You Do So Well
I am not going to go over all the spells as many are self explanatory. I will go over the ones I feel should be staples of all mage diets. Also keep in mind that I spent ALL my talent points in Arcane up to level 25 so you may find arcane missile and explosion less effective.
Frost Bolt does a decent amount of damage but it is worth more for its ability to slow your target. Use it to pull and you can have your enemy down to half before it even gets to you or your group. Also is great to land right as an enemy gets to a point where it might run as it will keep them from getting very far.
This spell sends off a number of missiles to strike the target doing a moderate amount of damage with each strike. The combined effect is generally as much as your fireball. When solo Arcane Missile is not the most effective spell. It takes a while to cast and is interrupted with any melee damage. However, in a group it does come in handy. Missile is a great way of doing damage early in the fight. Because it goes off slow and then hits in bursts, it allows you to do damage slowly while your tank or other members gain some agro. It also is loud and flashy which when I played a tank made a good impression as I would say “oh yeah the mage is doing something” (since often I would only remember seeing them sitting and drinking). Think of it as a reminder to everyone that yes, you are indeed attacking and not just guzzling conjured water and running around frost novaing everything.
Polymorph is just like you remember from Warcraft 3. Cast it and your enemy goes “poof” and is turned in to a sheep. You may think it means you can forget about him, however that would be folly. The sheep can’t attack but he can wander AND when wandering, his friends may very well notice him and say “hey…doesn’t that sheep look a lot like Uk’thor Crusher of Moons?”. Once they recognize Uk’thor or whatever his name is, they will remember what they learned in Monster 101 which is “Mages like to turn your buddies in to sheep” that or they just get curious when mutton wanders near them. At this point the entire cave or camp will come looking for your scrawny robe wearing butt.
The main function of polymorph is crowd control or “cc”. In a dungeon where there are few mobs that wander around or “roamers” or “patrols”, your puller should be able to pull one to three with little difficulty. Depending on the make up of your group will determine when polymorph should be used. See Grouping for details.
Frost Nova allows you to root in place all enemies in a given radiance in shackles of ice. It will gather agro from everything you hit, but not enough that most attacks by other classes won’t get the critters off you. Coupled with mana shield and you can do some decent damage.
Frost Nova is by far your most useful spell. In solo combat it will by you time to maneuver or flee. In groups it will tie up your enemies and give your healers breathing room or your tank time to gain agro, in PvP it can frustrate a whole gaggle of enemies. In short, Frost Nova is your best friend. Give it the same hotkey spot on every bank you use for combat. Mine is number seven so I always know to hit lucky 7 when things get hairy.
A near instant cast spell,. Mana Shield exchanges melee damage for mana. By casting it, you can absorb about 1/3 of your hit points with the shield at the expense of some of your mana. This robs you of offensive power over the course of a nasty fight, however, you also save your healer from needing to heal you over and over and thus gain agro on them as well.
I have met mages who don’t use this spell. Why, is a question I can not answer. This spell is critical in groups. Normally mages are the first to die when things get real ugly. The reason is, as a mage you see a big group and you think “time to bust out the big guns” and so, you go buck wild with AE (area effect) spells. Well as we stated earlier if mobs see all their buddies getting hurt as bad as they are, you become the honorary guest at the mage bashing. However, with mana shield you can get off more Area Effect spells than you might think.
Frost Armor raises your armor AND slows down most enemies that hit you. If you do not have Frost Armor activated at all times you are a bad baaaaaaad mage and should be spanked vigorously by a large angry woman with a wooden spoon of some sort.
Blizzard is a brilliant translation of the WC3 (And WC2) spell in that it kicks serious tail, but also enemies do everything they can to try and stop it. It does great damage and has a wiiiiide radius.
The trick with Blizzard is to give yourself as much time as possible to use it. Frost Nova first, find a safe spot drop a mana shield and then Blizz till they make you stop. If you do it right you can do 200-300 damage to every mob around you. Keep in mind that they will all want to get to the crunchy red stuff hidden in your bones once you’ve done all that damage.
It gives you more mana to kill stuff with. Always have it on….always. Always give it to your casters…always. Be sure and spend points to increase its effectiveness in the Arcane Talents.
Conjure Food and Water
As a mage you will begin to take for granted what it means to have good food and water handy at all times. Try not to do this. Whenever you group hand your buddies food for the melees, water to the casters and both to the combos. Most of the time they wont need it in a good group but if they know they got a ton of it, you can speed up a dungeon trip by having folks chow or gulp down some conjured goodness between fights instead of a slow gain sit down.
A quick AE spell that does a little damage to everyone but not enough to get massive agro like Blizzard. Usefull when you know that one or two are stuck on a warrior or rogue and you can shoot off a few without fear of getting a bunch on you.
If you spend talent points on this you can get it to a near instant cast and lower its mana cost. With about ¼ of my mana I can drop a frost nova and then hit 3-4 Arcane Explosions that will do around 100+ damage to each critter.
Remove Lesser Curse
It does what it says. This is one of those spells you rarely use but when you do, it can save your group. This little spell saves groups thirty minutes in dungeons like Shadowfang Keep where some of Arugal’s Sons can curse a DoT that makes your teeth hurt it hits so hard. The same go for fire and ice ward. Know when to use em.
She’s Crafty And She Gets Around
Alchemy and Herbalism are great skills for a mage. Health potions will keep your frail butt alive and being able to do some decent buffs via potions helps add a little more to your resume. Tailoring can be useful as well but as it is now, the better high end stuff requires objects that many folks don’t hang on to or sell at vendors. I have been looking for an iridescent pearl for four levels to make a cloak….only to find out that I just got a cloak that was better than the one I was trying to make. However, if you get tailoring get skinning as well since many items require some leather. Word of warning though, if you get skinning, get it EARLY. If you out level your skinning ability you may find it hard to find the time to go back to hunt stuff that does not give you xp, only to try and get your skinning up.