Ten Ton Hammer's Class Guides - Mage

In's & Out's of Magehood

(By: DarthMolen)

Being a mage can be quite exhilarating yet utterly frustrating at times. I'm writing this so that we can have a valid place to discuss these high's and low's as well as serve as warning to those who are looking to start their own Mage. This isn't necessarily a guide but my opinions on what I have seen as I have played my own mage. The difference is subtle in that I am not telling you what is good to do but I am relaying my experiences as I have experienced them.

First Lets start with the Pro's and Con's that I have seen on en route to a lvl 37 Firecaster.

Just to let you know, I am building a FireBlaster (35 points in Fire 16 in arcane) so these In's and Out's come from my current build. They might be different with other builds and that is where the community will come in handy.

First, lets discuss the Pro's and Con's of Magehood. These are actually pretty generic and can be applied to any mage and really can be found in any guide. Im adding my personal bend to them to spice it up a little.


*I can do a TON of damage before the mob ever gets to me. 600-800 before arrival; 300 in the next 2 seconds after arrival and variations of LOTS OF DAMAGE thereafter. Heaven help me if my enemy is not dead before I run out of mana.

*My range is pretty incredible and allows me time and distance (the two factors that keep me alive as a mage)

*TELEPORT AND (eventually) PORTAL - Insta-transports is definite BIG PLUS. Especially for one that has 2 children and a wife to look after and doesn't have the time to waste on 30 minutes of gryphon travel a day.

*Roots and mob control - I have a viable root (Frost Nova) that I can use to give me the time and distance or trap fleeing mobs (unlike paladins). I also can use that same root as crowd control or use polymorph if i don't wanna risk Area Effects.

*Free int boost and armor - The extra mana is always nice and allows me to stay up longer. Free armor is always good

*Free food and drinks - Who can say no to this. Although I try to level up my cooking, it has lagged behind cause there is no need for it. I can log in and continue wherever i am at without worrying about buying or harvesting food.

*Area Affects - Both our Blessing and our Bane. You haven't seen somebody rip through Scarlet Monastery library til you have seen a warrior and 2 mages in full Area Effect mode working as a finely tuned machine.


*Time and Distance - This can also be a con because I ABSOLUTELY need that time or distance or I am pretty much toast. I can usually deal with 1 surprise but if an Add comes along? forget it. Especially if they resist my root or polymorph.

*Need free drink - I go through mana like its going out of style. I have 1 1/2 short battles that I can do without stopping and drinking. or 3/4 of a BIG battle in me. Not a good feeling when you get those Elites and you run out of mana and your tank is going down in flames. Mana agates help somewhat but I can run through that reserve at my level in 2 spells flat.

*Need the free armor - I know the reason that WoW gives the mage free armor, because we absolutely need it. We can deliver so much damage in a short period of time and this blessed ability always manages to pull the threat off the tank and get us pummelled in the process.

*Reagents - Better have a fat wallet because you will need it when it comes to reagents. With the nicety of insta-transport comes the steep price (10 silver for teleport, 20 silver for portal). Don't even bother with slow-fall. It's used so rarely and not worth the extra bag-slot the feathers would take up.

*Death Becomes Us - With the propensity to pull threat, I find myself dying 2 to 3 times more in a group than the average character.

*Area Effects - Both our Blessing and our Bane. Better know how to manage these appropriately or your group is going to start hating your guts. When you pull in 8 more elite adds because you used flamewave or blizzard in the wrong place (BIG FOOTPRINTS), who can blame them?

*Resist, Resist, Resist, Dead - I call this the 4 levels over syndrome. I have found that enemies at about 4 levels above my own tend to resist everything I throw at em (or a good majority). Nothing worse than seeing them resist all my efforts then I die.

-=Overcoming the Con's=-

With a little patience, just about every one of the con's can be mitigated. Here's how I have chosen to mitigate these less than stellar points. Some can be eliminated, others are just a fact of life.

*Time and Distance - Always start at maximum range. Distance is your ally.

Wait until the walkers stop then find your maximum range and start firing. ALSO I tend to move off to the side of their path and they will stay in range longer and it will force the mob to have to turn which gives me more time. If there are 2 in a group, I start by polying the one (this gives me more time) and then start a fireball for the other. I ABSOLUTELY DO NOT USE Area Effects at this point unless I am positively sure that my sheep'ed enemy is out of range and I only use a small footprint Area Effect (cone of cold, frost nova).

*Need free drink - When I am solo, the only way I have found to mitigate this is by finishing them off with my weapon if they are alone. I maybe cast scorch or fireblast which is lower on the mana count as the final blow. If there are two enemies, then thank goodness that drink is free because I am going to trade mana for life (Mana Shield baby and bombs away). In a group, I always close with my staff or resort to my wand once they go red. The only time I will finish with a fireblast in a group is when they start to run and there is a possibility of adding.

*Need the free armor- When solo: Poly, Mana Shield, and Frost Nova are my friends. I use them often and wisely. They have saved my life AND saved me in repair costs. In groups, I regulate my spell casting. If there are multiple tanks, I drop down to Area Effects. If there is one tank, then I drop into a rhythm with my single target spells. I Don't throw all my instants at once because the higher the burst damage, the better likelihood I will pull that mob off my tank. By being smart, you will make your life easier in armor costs AND make your warrior happy because he doesn't have to wait while you run back from res'ing

*Reagents - this is a live with it arrangement. I tend to trade in-game money for real life time and feel that its a good trade-off (concerning teleport and portal). I just ignore Slow Fall unless I happen upon a light feather in my regular travels.

*Death Becomes us - In Solo combat, I mitigate my adds with Polymorph. I Use Mana Shield when my health starts to get low. I Frost Nova every chance I can get and I am not afraid to Frost Nova, Blink, And then run. I also make sure I don't blink into the next major enemy

In a group, I have a macro healing statement, I don't use Area Effects unless I have more than one tank, and I get into a rhythm with my main tank with my single target casts.


If you notice that you are pulling the mob off your tank. STOP!!!!! don't cast any more. Don't run because you will just bring more add's. Better that you die than the whole group. Cast mana shield instead and wait for your tank to get the threat back then resume blasting away.

*Area Effects - The majority of the people out there have no clue how to use these awesome additions to a Mage's repetoire. Here is how I prevent these spells from becoming a negative in a group. Flamewave, Blizzard, FlameStrike and Arcane Blast are the three you have to worry about most (listed in ranking order). Blizzard and Flamewave have the largest footprint with a 360 degree radius and are the most dangerous. I only use these dangerous spells in two situations.

1) If I have more than one tank to pull threat back onto them after I do a crap-load of damage with my AE.

2) I want to pull threat thereby giving the tank or tanks an opportunity to heal up with First Aid or potions. I usually die when I do this but they can always res me

Be aware of your spacing and also aware of the high threat any of these spells will impose. If I do decide to use AE. I always Frost Nova, Flamestrike, Then Blizzard either around me if the tanks have lost threat or around the tanks if they manage to hold.

*Resist, Resist, Resist, Dead - I don't take Mobs more than 3 levels over my own Solo. Even at three levels they start to resist a lot which means although I probably won't die, I will need a long time to heal up myself in between battles. When I do find myself in the 4 over situation, I tend to just cycle through the three schools AND I only use instants. No use waiting three seconds to find out they are going to resist my fireball.


I personally feel that a Mage needs to be the most tactically savvy of all the characters in WoW. Their frailty leaves little room for error. Also remember these strategies are coming from a Fireblaster bend so you will not see a lot of other stuff. I also use different strategies for different situations so I will go over some of the common scenario's that I meet and go into strategies that I use. I will also break each battle into segments so that I can explain my tactics as they happen and my thought processes behind them. I am sure you will see flaws and any constructive criticism is welcome (no "U 5UXX0R5" allowed)

1v1 PVE -

Situational Caveats: unsurprised where I choose my start and there is proper spacing and no walkers coming


This is the easiest situation I have found to handle as a Mage. My whole objective is to bring as much damage to bear in as little time as possible. I also take into account cycle times of spells and the distance factor.

-=Segment 1 (Pre-Contact)=-

*Warrior: Pyroblast, Fireball, Fireblast (600-800 Damage without crits) *Mage / Caster: Pyroblast,Advance,Counterspell, Mana shield, Fireball, Fireblast

I substitute Fireball instead of Pyroblast depending on the situation. If there are walkers about and the chance of interruption, I will go with the shorter fireball. If the target is a caster, I will run up slightly and insert a counterspell after the first spell and then cast mana shield and fire or frost ward then continue on with the sequence. If the target is moving, You better use fireball or that six seconds will just be wasted when you go to cast Pyroblast and they are out of range. Also remember that the damage is NOT that significantly greater with pyroblast vs. fireball on the front end but the Damage Over Time is where Pyroblast sets itself apart. I use fireblast at the end instead of Frost Nova because 1) I am trying to deliver as much dam as possible in the shortest amount of time 2) I want my fireblast to cycle as soon as possible. I find that if i use Frost Nova then Fireblast, they tend to break out of the frost nova faster so I tend to stay away from the fire instants when they are rooted in ice. Maybe its just me. Also, If one of my first two spells stuns him, I will immediately add a fireball in wherever the stun came. If the stun happens on the second fireball, I will fireblast then fireball. I will probably get hit at this point prolonging the last fireball but it will pay out dividends in the long run.

-=Segment 2 (Post-Contact)=-

*Cone of Cold, FlameWave, Frost Nova, Move Back, Fireball, Fireblast (another 600-800 damage without crits)

Cone of Cold is great,allows for a good slow-down, and is an instant. Its a good way to start the next segment after being hit by the enemy. I only use Flamewave if there is a huge spacing and no possibility of adds. If there isn't a LARGE spacing then I go straight to Frost Nova and keep going.

-=Segment 3 (Enemy still standing)=-

*Scorch, Cone of Cold, Fireblast

Notice that I am not going to any spells that take time. Every once in awhile I will break that rule if I still have TONS of life to trade, there are no walkers coming or possibilities of add, and have time to give fireball a chance.

-=Segment 4 (Enemy Flight)=-

Usually fireblast is not available or quite cycled yet so I will resort to Magic Missiles to finish my opponent off as they are running or if there is no other enemy they can add, I will just run after and keep hitting with my staff or wand til fireblast comes available. Magic Missiles are great for runners because although it is not an instant, they do start delivering damage half-way through the channeling process.

1v1 PvE -

Situational Caveats: Surprised


Surprise usually happens a couple ways. The attacker could have been stealthed and then attacked or I could have had target fixation and didn't notice that I had stepped into the threat field of another NPC. This is a little more difficult situation to deal with but still manageable. I really have two choices here. Flee or Fight. I will break each one down and how I deal with them.


*Warrior: Mana Shield,Polymorph,Run

*Mage: CounterSpell, Run, Fire or Frost Ward

*Caster: Counterspell, Polymorph, Run

As you can see there are different spell groups that I use based upon the type of target that has surprised me. The Warrior designation is any NPC that I determine can hurt me with brute physical force. The Mage is of my same class that uses elemental range spells to do their damage. Casters are usually the ones that use shadow type spells or electric spells to create havoc. I usually choose the flee route if the area is heavily infested, there are plenty of walkers, or this surpriser is 4 levels or more above me.

Warrior - Mana shield first so I can preserve as many HP as I can in case things go utterly wrong. I have pleny of Mana to spare. If I don't have plenty of Mana to spare, I will Frost Nova instead and back up slightly. Polymorph is to make sure they don't follow me and run like hell so I don't die. There is no way I can match at close range with a Warrior Type that is 4 levels or more above me.

Mage - 4 or more levels above me I still want to turn tail and run but in this situation, it is even more imperative that I eliminate the range threat or he will kill me quicker than the Warrior. Remember time and distance is my ally and if I can't get distance (root is ineffective because he's a caster) then I am toast. With NPC's I always counterspell first because they usually are a one hit wonder when it comes to spell classes. I don't worry about polymorph because he's like me and has crap for physical hit damage. I then turn tail and run. I also cast a ward because that counterspell wears off quickly and I might not be out of range when he does.

Caster - These are the most dangerous types to me because I don't have any shadow or electric wards to protect me and they are still range type units so a root is not going to help much. All I have is counterspell and polymorph to deal with them. If there is more than one, I am usually toast. Sometimes these casters can be Warrior Type's also and if thats the case, I will cast Mana Shield as needed.

I never use Frost Nova at the front of the flee process. I almost always want to keep it in reserve in case I Train others as I am trying to flee the first conflagaration.


Ok, I've been surprised and my opponent is actually my level. Time to do some damage.

-=Segment 1 (Surprised)=-

*Warrior: Frost Nova, Move Back, Fireball, Fireblast

*Mage: Counterspell, Fireblast, Fireball

*Caster: Counterspell, Frost Nova, Move Back, Fireball, Fireblast

Notice I didn't use a Frost Nova on the mage. I used counterspell instead. I don't care if he is rooted or not. I just want his spells to stop. Who cares about his physical damage. If its a caster type other than a Mage, go ahead and insert a frost nova right after the counterspell.

-=Segment 2 - 4 (Post-Contact, Enemy Still Standing, Enemy Flight)=-

These segments will be just like the ones explained in 1v1 PVE (unsurprised). The only difference is that segment 3 (Enemy Still Standing) will be more likely and therefore you will need to manage that stage a little bit more.

The number one rule in both these situations is not to lose your cool. Keep calm and just do what you know best which is root and run or stay and blow em up!

1v1+Pet PvE

This one is a little different than a straight 1v1 PvE or even a 1v2 PvE because if it's a warlock, you can't polymorph the pet. This can turn into a real fluster cluck if you are not careful. There are a number of paths you could take here but I am going to address the one that you can use for either class. Remember that I am addressing what I do in a PvE environment. The setup is very different for PvP.

As a quick aside, I find that warlocks in PvP are the hardest for me to handle because I don't have any wards against their shadow magic. The only recourse I have against them is counterspell and out damaging them. So if they have any kind of level over me, I usually get toasted because my DPS tends to go way down the more levels they have over mine (See Resist, Resist, Resist, Dead). -=Segment 1 (Kill Pet)=- *Polymorph Owner, Fireball Pet (skip if pet already on you), Manashield, Frost Nova (if owner has wandered far enough away), Back up, Fireball,Fireblast, Cone of Cold (again if owner has wandered away far enough), Scorch, Fireblast, Magic Missile (if needed)

I absolutely have to split them up. I focus on pet first because both warlocks and hunters have pets and I can't polymorph the Warlocks pet. Therefore I want the least amount of procedures to follow for any given situation. You can try and frost Nova the pet and then deal with the master, but I find that the Frost Nova fails too early and I still end up in the 2v1 situation that I don't want and can't survive. If that first polymorph fails, I usually go into flee mode. Also, if the pet is the weaker spell slinger of the warlock, I have it made because I can out dps him and then I will have longer to bandage.

-=Segment 2 (Quick Rest)=-

*Mana Potion,Bandage

Polymorph should last just long enough to let me get these two off. I haven't tested this part yet because i am perpetually broke and never have mana potions or bandages on hand . You might have to forego the bandaging and just rely upon your mana shield to save you.

-=Segment 3 (Kill Owner)=-

*Hunter: Pyroblast (if still sheep'ed), Mana Shield, Fireball, Fireball, Blink towards him, Fireblast, Flamewave, Cone of Cold

In a one on one situation with a hunter, I can waste him almost each and every time. My range dps far outweighs his range dps, especially if its a NPC hunter. I close the distance after a couple range potshots so that I can really raise my dps with some instants. Granted this will bring his blades into play but hopefully the quick burst of damage will kill him quick.

*Warlock: Pyroblast (if still sheep'ed), Counterspell, Fireball, Blink towards him, Fireblast, Cone of Cold, Flamewave, Magic Missile, Fireblast

If the warlock is my same level, I can usually get him because his DPS is going to be lower than my DPS at distance. If he has levels above me and/or surprised me in some way, I better hope that my potions cycle so that I can get another heal in quick so that I can continue the instant onslaught.

-=Personal Tips and Tricks=-

I found that for the harder collection quests, it is definitely more efficient for me to group with one more person. If I had my choice, I would choose a paladin each and every time. By choosing a Paladin, I save all my mana for the baddies instead of my Mana Shield. There seems to be a symbiotic nature there where I damage, he heals. Also, since I pull a lot of threat, his resurrect is a great time saver.

I go into Mana saving mode when in large groups that are pulling one regular elite at a time in an instance. It isn't worth it to burn all my mana up on that one encounter when the group will want to be moving on at the end of it. I usually tone down to one fireball as an opener and then only fireblast. I resort to stave when he is orange and when the mob begins to flee, I pull out the magic missile and fireblast so he doesn't add. If you don't want to use that much mana at the end of the fight or are really low, just Frost Nova the fleeing enemy and let the tanks finish him off.

If the group pulls more than three mobs and there are two tanks, I almost always go into full AoE mode. I also make sure that my mana shield is up and that i only deplete my bar to about 1/4. If I have the luxury, I wait until the warriors have aquired the threat before pulling this out of my hat.

In a group (unless its the paladin duo) I ALWAYS have my Mana shield up. You never know when a group member is gonna mentally collapse and cause a "train wreck" (that is my nomenclature for when a person freaks and runs all over the place bringing every mob in site with him). If you are on Mana saving mode, you just might survive.

As the mage in the group, I am part of the first line of defense against other NPC casters that my team might meet (rogues and hunters are effective in this category also). If I am the only ranged defender in the group and I get a caster add, my best bet is to poly. If I get two caster add's then poly one and counter the other.

There is always one alternative for a fluster cluck when I am in a group. I sometimes find it acceptable to "Suicide". It is very easy for me to soak in all the threat. I just raise my mana shield and go into full AoE mode. I start with a Flamestrike, then Flame Wave, and then just use Arcane Explosions until all the mob's are focused on me. My mana shield gives me a few seconds with my Mana jewels and this also gives my tanks some precious time to regain their composure or gives the res ppl the time to flee the scene of the crime and then come back later and bring back the rest of the group. I always preface my actions with "RUN!!!!".

Ten Ton Hammer's Class Guides - Mage

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Last Updated: Mar 13, 2016

About The Author

Byron 1
Byron has been playing and writing about World of Warcraft for the past ten years. He also plays pretty much ever other Blizzard game, currently focusing on Heroes of the Storm and Hearthstone, while still finding time to jump into Diablo III with his son.


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