WoW and Mage Talents

Just started leveling a Mage on WoW, and I have absolutely no clue what to spec in as far as talents go.

Should I go Arcane? That looks like the most appealing because Arcane Missiles seems to be pretty awesome, but if I go Arcane I don’t go Fire/Ice, and some of that stuff looks really sweet as well…

So I have no clue what to spec in! Help me decide.

Might be a good idea actually to make this into a big WoW talent build thread with all the added talents with the new revamp.

RE: Mage talents, I never played one so I can’t say, but what the mages in my guild used to do is play with fire talents until 60, switch to frost for the dungeons with mobs that have high fire resistance (such as Molten Core or Blackwing Lair), then switch back to fire when those instances became on farm.

Fine then. Big WoW talent post-patch thread is fine by me.

Also: Shadow Priest for leveling. Am I right? Then respec when I start doing raids.

As an experienced Shadow priest: Yes. Any other method of leveling is an exercise in frustration. Shadow priests can heal just fine in 5-man instances also, so you really only need to respec if you plan on raiding.

Arcane missiles DO pump out the damage and at lower lvls are probably one of your staple spells.

However, they’re very inefficient in terms of dmg/mana. Yes you can pump out a butt load of dmg but you then need to sit and drink after every few fights. I got REALLY bored with that when i did my first mage - years back it seems now - and gave it up quickly as a dull class.

I tried again recently and tried a suggestion of a mate and specced pure frost. While it’s a WoW stereotype, it was also something of a revelation. I could go for what seemed like hours without stopping to mana up. Once Evocation was released as a spell rather than a talent, I could go even longer. Also, if you’re good enough at it, or practice enough, you can ‘frost aoe grind’. That’s a technique where you round up multiple mobs into a tight group then blast them down with various frost aoe spells. If you can pull it off. it makes frost mages the fastest leveling class out there. ‘If’ you can. I can’t. I’m just not good enough. But it’s bloody impressive if you see someone doing it well.

Oh yes definitely. My shadow priest was the most fun I had leveling a character, they’re absolutely awesome, particularly when you get shadowform. You can always usually do elite same-level quests solo as well. You also have a useful crowd control tool in Mind Control. You can heal just fine in 5 man instances. In fact, since I used to raid with my protection warrior, I kept my priest shadow and enjoyed PvP with him quite a bit, and I healed with him fine in 5 man instances at level 60, including a Stratholme Baron run, and he wasn’t particularly well-geared.

With regards to race, Undead are usually preferable on horde side for priests but I haven’t played them. Dwarf priests are great since they have fear ward (makes you immune to fear for 10 mins, 1 charge, with a 30 second cooldown), stoneform, which lets you dispel poisons and bleed effects (priests can only remove disease and magic), and Desperate Prayer which is a shared racial with human priests, and is basically a free instant cast self-heal with a 10 minute cooldown and comes in very handy at times.

With regards to talents, here’s how I did it as I was leveling to 60 (this is before the addition of the recent talents, so YMMV). I started out with 5 points in spirit tap (which is very helpful while leveling but useless at 60 when you have a high mana pool), 2 points in imp shadow word pain (which is essentially a 33% increase in the damage from the spell with the extra duration), 3 points in blackout to open 3rd tier talents, get mind flay (one of the most effective mana to damage spells), imp mind blast and psychic scream, shadow reach, shadow weaving, vampiric embrace, darkness, silence, and shadowform. Of course, arrange so that as soon as you hit 40 you can gain shadowform, or simply respec at 40 to get shadowform and then add these talents. Spec out of spirit tap once you get to 60.

Higher tier shadow talents weren’t available at the time, so I went to the discipline tree and got unbreakable will, imp fortitude, and imp shield, as well as inner focus for the occasional free group heal or buff. I haven’t specced my priest since the latest patch though, and I can see a lot of the higher tier shadow talents are probably worth getting. For instance, I can see taking advantage of vampiric touch, shadow power and focused mind, if I ever bother resubbing.

Shadow priests can heal just fine in 5-man instances also

I didn’t find this to be the case, personally. I must be a lousy healer because I can only get the job done when I have a lot of advantages in terms of talents etc. While leveling as shadow, I was going OOM a lot as main healer. I remember a particularly frustrating ZF run where the druid had to keep bailing me out.

I try to educate myself more about mana efficiency and all that rot, but when people bust out the spreadsheets, as they inevitably do when talking healing, my eyes glaze over.

But there isn’t a talent that improves the damage of arcane missles.

I mean, you can use arcane missles effectively without the need of using points on the arcane tree.

Gordon, I’ll guess one of two things is going on:

  1. You’re overhealing. Tank Mctankerson has taken 120 points of damage but you use a heal spell that heals 300 points of damage. Even as a holy spec that will run you OOM pretty quickly.

  2. You’re with people that really really suck. In the 5-man instance game, if everyone is pulling aggro off the tank (resulting in more healing load) or if the tank is an idiot and is dual wielding or using a 2-handed weapon (or wearing some REALLY crappy gear), it’s going to be tough to heal.

As you mention mana efficiency and spreadsheets and glazing eyes, I’ll go ahead and guess your problem is overhealing. I say don’t worry about the specifics, just plan to focus all of your attention on the tank. Don’t heal the tank until he’s at 50% health. Then hit him with a big heal. If you want to play advanced whack-a-mole, make it a goal to keep everyone at 50-70% health. If you’re ever keeping a party member at full health, chances are you’re overhealing them. If letting people drop below 50% health results in any wipes, you’re with a sucky party anyway (or are facing an instance that’s too high level for the group).

Arcane missiles are only worthwhile when playing with somebody who can tank for you. Fire or Ice tree to level. Fire kills them faster, Ice kills them more safely. Ice turns you into one of those annoying AoE farmers if your twitch ability is halfway decent.

There IS a talent to improve the damage of arcane missiles now, but it’s way the hell down in the tree so not useful for levelling really.

I recommend getting 10-15 in fire or frost, whichever you like better. Then get to 5/5 Clearcasting in arcane, then keep filling out fire or frost whichever you like.

And waste 10 talents points to cast one spell for free every ten?

I try not to overheal, but against hard hitting bosses that can be hard to avoid. e.g. against the baron or Alexi I don’t want to let the tank get down to 50% if I can help it. I haven’t tried those fights as shadow spec – I specced holy/disc many months ago – but I find them to be a handful even with a healing spec and halfway decent (non raid) gear.

Anyway, the pugs where I healed as shadow spec were months ago, and I don’t remember whether or not the tanks were any good. Probably varied. I just got a general impression that I couldn’t “heal just fine” as a shadow spec. Your 50-70% rule is well taken however, at least with regard to trash mobs.

The stuff that makes my eyes glaze over has more to do with which particular downrank heal is most mana efficient given a particular amount of +healing, and whether to go for mana/5 or spirit or +healing or whatever. The recent “nerf” to downrank heals – just after I was starting to get the concept and was starting to get enough +heal to actually notice a bonus to them – didn’t help matters. I’m just never going to be the kind of healer who can squeeze the most out of every possible point of mana, I suppose. It doesn’t feel like gameplay to me; it feels like a homework assignment.

Ok, so I get the points about Arcane Missiles, and I was noticing myself that the mana efficiency of them was pretty abysmal.

Thanks. :)

And thanks for the Priest advice, too. I was planning on making a NE, but I’ll probably make a Dwarf by your rec instead.

They have changed on the beta server the damage caps for large groups of monsters when AoEing. You start losing damage after about 4 or 5 monsters, which basically kills the efficiency of AoE levelling.

Personally my 55 mage alt was fire before the mage talent patch, and has been frost ever since. I far prefer frost. Fire was 2-3 monsters then I’d have to drink… frost is 10+. In addition I get the added control that frost brings with ice barrier, faster frost novas, etc.

So what would you recommend for a talent track? I’ve decided to go with Frost, and obviously the first five points into Improved Frost Bolt are a gimme, but after that I’m not so sure.

It appears that what many people will do is go pure fire until 40 or 50+, then consider the switch to frost for added control. From what I’ve read, frost doesn’t really come into its own until you can dump 31+ points into it all at once. I’m currently leveling as pure fire (I’m only 23, though) and while yes you do have to drink after every few fights… who cares! The drinks are free, and you burn things down so fast that I’m pretty sure it balances out with frost where you drink less, but fights are slightly longer. After being a support priest for so long (my only lvl 60), it is a pure joy just being a wake of destruction. But of course, early game is easy too, so… :)

For your priest, shadow until at least 55, if not longer (I went disc/holy at 55 because I was doing mostly instances at that point). Depends on what you like doing end-game. If you do raids, you may end up having to go some form of disc/holy depending on availability of other healers in your guild/group. Otherwise, TBC instances unseen, shadow may be worth staying in clear up to 70.

I leveled and keep my mage frost because of the defensive side of it. 2/0/49, as I recall. Between all the freeze effects, slowing, and shields (Ice Barrier and Ice Block) I rarely die. Heck, I rarely get hit. The AOE grinding is fun, though it is hard to find a spot where you can do more than four or five mobs at once anyway. If you get many more, and there will usually be a caster or ranged mob to complicate things. In those cases, you can poly that one to start the pull, but that makes it harder to gather up your group of victims.

I usually start by putting up Ice Barrier, then gather them up while they beat on the IB (don’t use Frost Armor here, you will end up freezing one out of position). Once you have them together, back up slightly to put them all in front of you, then Cone of Cold, Frost Nova (rank 1 for cheap snaring, not the damage), Blizzard, Blizzard, Cone of Cold. They should be dead at this point, but an Arcane Explosion or two should finish any survivors. If things go badly, you can always Cold Snap to reset your Frost Nova and Ice Barrier, or Ice Block to let your cooldowns run if they are close.

Supertanker, would you agree with the assessment of Fire for lower-level until I can dump 30 or so points into Frost?

If you wait a few weeks to make your priest, you can be a dranei and have some even nicer racials plus fear ward also. Blood elves also make excellent priests, and, well, any other class due to the mana tap ability.

IMO the main reason to play a night elf priest is if you want to PvP.