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Revision of Kwaice's mage leveling guide from Wed, 2008-12-17 16:35

Kwaice's picture

Table of Contents.

1. Introduction
2. Spells, talents and cast rotation
3. Frostfire Bolt
3. How to gear
4. Useful addons
5. Macros

1. Introduction

First of all, i'll ask you to be nice with my english, i come from Belgium and french is my primary language. This is also the first guide i write myself Sticking out tongue

This guide is here to help you leveling up your mage, not by telling you where to go and which quest to pick up (there are very nice leveling guides on wow-pro for that) but by giving you some piece of advice with the talents you should choose, the gear to aim for and some useful macros as well as addons.

It only aims to help you during the leveling process, it will not cover pvp, dongeons nor raids.

So let's get started.

2. Spells, talents and cast rotation

The mage is a caster. 99,9% of the time, you will want to keep the ennemis as far as possible from you.

Until the poweful Frostfire bolt, the deep Frost spec is, in my opinion, the best spec to pick while leveling.
It offers much more control over your ennemies than fire and arcane and can dish out very nice damage.

Let's review the frost tree and the talents that will help you the most. If bolded, it means that you should ABSOLUTELY take the talent.

  • Frostbite :

    Extremely useful talent. It allows your slowing spells (frostbolt, cone of cold, ice armor, improved blizzard, frostfire bolt) to have a 15% chance to root your ennemies in place, like a mini frost nova.
    Sometimes, you'll be unlucky and it will never proc during the battle, but when it procs, it basically means your ennemy is going to die very soon (See Shatter). It lasts like 5 secs.

  • Improved Frostbolt

Frostbolt will be your primary nuke spell until you get Frostfire bolt at 75. You'll cast it more than any other spell and you'll dream about it too (ok maybe not). Improved frostbolt shortens the cast time of your primary spell by 0.5 sec when maxed.
While this may not seem much, it will speed up the leveling process and improve the damage you deal to your ennemies. Beside, you'll be glad to have this talent maxed when you will need to Shatter your ennemy and don't have much time left on your Frost Nova or Frostbite proc timers.

  • [b]Ice Floes :

    There is "Survival" written on this talent. Maxed, it shortens the cooldown of your :

    • Frost Nova by x secs.
    • Cone of Cold by x secs
    • Ice Block by x secs
    • Icy Veins by x secs
  • Frost Nova is a spell you'll want available when one or more ennemies managed to get close to you. Same goes for Cone of Cold.
    The shortened cooldown on Ice Block has saved my life many times, those seconds you gain with this talent can mean the difference between life and death when fighting mobs and especially elites.

  • Ice Shards :

    Core talent. Improves the damage of your critical spells by 100%.
    In short, a spell that does 50 base damage for example will, without Ice Shards, crit for 75 (50% more damage).
    With Ice Shards, the same spell will actually crit for 100, so double damage.
    Improves your burst damage tremendously.

  • Elemental Precision

    3% hit when maxed means that you will have less "missed" spells when fighting mobs. This talent is really only useful if you're often taking on enemies that are higher level than you. You shouldn't really have much use of it while leveling but if you growl each time your spells miss, then i guess it wouldn't hurt to take this talent Sticking out tongue Otherwise it's not really mandatory. The mana reduction alone isn't really worth 3 talent points.

  • Permafrost

    Your chill effects last 3 sec longer and the walking speed of your enemies is decreased by another 10%.
    Not that useful for leveling in my opinion. It allows you to kite the enemies longer but by the the time your enemies get to you, they should be already half dead anyway. It really shines in pvp BUT i actually took the talent when switching to the frostfire spec at 75, i'll explain why later in the guide.

  • Piercing Ice

    6% more damage on your frost spells, i think it speaks for itself.

  • Icy Veins

    Activated, this allows you to cast your spells 20% faster without suffering pushback. It is nice when you need to burst down your enemy but i never really used it while leveling up. It is very useful in raids and dongeons though.

  • Improved Blizzard

    Depending on your playstyle, this could be a must get. Improved Blizzard adds a chill effect to the base spell allowing it to slow your enemies. Coupled with Permafrost (+3 secs chill and +10% slow), this means that the enemies taken in your blizzard are slowed by 75% for 4,5 secondes AND that Frostbite can proc, rooting them in place.
    Also note that Blizzard can now crit since patch 3.0.2 (not too sure of which patch).
    If you like to take on many mobs at once and aoe them down, then this talent definitely is for you. It all depends on your playstyle.

  • Arctic Reach

    This talent can seem weak but it is very useful while leveling. Being able to cast your opening frostbolt on the enemy from x yards instead of x yards results in more frostbolts launched before it gets to you. It can save you a frost nova that could be useful when fighting the next mob. Also more range on Cone of Cold and Blizzard and a higher Frost Nova radius is very nice, allowing you to avoid hits easier.

  • Frost Chanelling

    All your spells cost 10% less mana. This means less downtime while leveling. Also the -10% threat can be nice if you like to do dongeons from time to time.

  • Shatter[/b

    THE core talent of the frost tree. If you don't put points in it, you'd be better just respecing fire or arcane.
    This talent allows you to burst down your enemies everytime they are frozen in place. Your crit chance against them will raise by 50%.
    Enemies frozen in place are the ones affected by the following spells : Frost Nova, Frostbite, Hungering Cold and Frost Trap (Hunter).
    Chill effects will NOT affect Shatter. Enemies slowed by a frostbolt won't make your crit chance go up by 50% but if frostbite procs, then it will.

  • [b]Cold Snap

    Very nice talent that resets all your frost cooldowns. Can save your life if you need to frost nova an enemy chasing you when you're at 5% hp, or pop an ice block that was on cooldown to give you some fresh air. It is also a required talent point to unlock the very useful Ice Barrier.

  • Improved Cone of Cold

    Not really needed while leveling. You'll only use Cone of cold to slow a pack of enemies that are close to you or to kite one enemy while your frost nova is on cooldown.
    Cone of Cold can be nice when it procs Frostbite but it's not reliable enough. 35% more damage on a spell that you won't use that much while leveling isn't worth 3 talents points.

  • Cold as Ice

    Maxed, it shortens the cooldown of your :

    • Cold Snap by x secs.
    • Ice Barrier by x secs
    • Summon Water Elemental by x secs
  • Winter's Chill
  • Shattered Barrier
  • Ice Barrier
  • Arctic winds
  • Empowered Frostbolt
  • Fingers of Frost
  • Brain Freeze
  • Summon Water Elemental
  • Improved Water Elemental
  • Chilled to the Bone
  • [/]


    Talents from lvl 75



    I've found out that the link with the talents from lvl 75 isn't working anymore. Maybe somebody has it, or somebody can help me with this.

    Emmaleah's picture

    RE: Talents from lvl 75.

    Things have changed considerably since this was written, which is why it has been moved to the archive section.  It was well written at the time and some amount of the content is still useful.  That being said, I think the link you refer to was a link to Wowheads talent calculater which doesnt exist anymore in that format, since talents don't exist in that format.  If you want current talent / spec information I would suggest Icy Veins or Wowhead.

    Emmaleah == bravely leading the way since ... um a long time ago... Smiling

    Jiyambi's picture

    Moved to Archive Section

    We are recently working on improving the quality of content here on, both by limiting low ranked guides and by moving out of date guides into archives. For more information, see the full news post detailing this process.

    Your guide has been moved to the archive section for the following reasons:

    • The guide is significantly out of date.

    If you improve your guide to address these issues, you are welcome to move the guide back to it's proper category. If someone else would like to adopt the guide, please leave a comment.

    If you have any questions about this process, feel free to comment here.


    Maybe it's just me, but I'm highly disappointed at the lack of updated guides. Not just this class, but across the site for the most part. And I know that everyone's going to say, "Oh, but there's no point in updating - until we find out what Cataclysm does!" My answer? That's a load of CRAP... some of these guides are almost a year and a half to two years' old.

    Perhaps it's a product of the game itself. I've witnessed this phenomenon a bit myself, within my own guild. The push to raid, the emphasis on gearscores, armor sets, etc., has robbed a lot of the fun. Some of us are NEVER going to see ICC... For whatever reason, desire, play style, time constraints, etc.

    Some of us also like making and leveling alts... We could use current, updated information. Just because it's free, shouldn't make it worthless...

    Jiyambi's picture

    Hi there. Now, you are

    Hi there.

    Now, you are entitled to believe whatever you want here, but I'm getting this sense that you think the contributors to this site are doing this full time and getting paid. You seem to think we aren't updating some of these guides because we are being lazy.

    In that, you are quite mistaken - we are all gamers in our off time, just like you, and we all have real jobs or school, not to mention friends and family and actually playing the game, that take up time. So you see, we don't have endless hours to devote to the game.

    We have to do a little something called prioritizing.

    While I'd love to have an infinite amount of time in which to update every single guide on this site (I'm not being sarcastic, I LOVE making guides and that would be pretty awesome) - I just don't. I work and go to school, run a guild, and try to have some kind of social life as well. I just don't have time to update everything, and while there are other contributors to the site, they are often in the same situation as I am. We are all VOLUNTEERS and we volunteer as much as we can, but that's not enough to do everything and make everyone happy.

    I am aware that you may have different priorities than I do, and that's fine. But since I'm the one volunteering my time and effort and not you, I get to decide what to update first. And I think for most of our users, we'd rather have some out of date guides now and have everything ready for launch date of cataclysm, than trying to play the catch up game now and have nothing ready at launch. Again, this is an opinion - you're entitled to yours.

    Do please think about what you are doing next time, however, when you go on about how disappointed you are with people who are doing something for nothing that you are getting enjoyment out of. None of us are obligated to create this content for you to use - please keep that in mind. I'm not trying to say you shouldn't give suggestions or offer constructive criticism, but to be honest your comment rankled a bit and is a slap in the face for all the authors here on the site working their butts off so you can freely enjoy their creations.

    Sarok's picture

    Glyph of Slow Fall

    I found glyph of slow fall to be a bit redundant if you master this one skill. When falling, right before you might meet your doom, you blink. Blinking resets your falling position and you don't take as much damage or none at all! Of course you might as well take it since there aren't that many other good minor glyphs.

    Lycander's picture

    Glyph suggestion

    I've found that the Glyph of Eternal Water has been awesome for leveling. Sure, you lose the rooting ability of the elemental (and the associated frostbolt crit) but you've got a DPS pet helping you the entire way. It's helped my mage out a lot.

    A warning on it, though. Anytime you take a taxi, or log out, your pet will be gone. On the plus side, the CD on the summon spell starts as soon as you summon, so if your elemental dies you'll likely be able to summon one right away.

    Hope this helps.

    Kwaice's picture

    Indeed, i've been using it

    Indeed, i've been using it too on my mage reroll, along with the glyph of *gasp* mage armor since i dinged 34.

    The 70% mana regen while casting is awesome and i haven't made water since like level 40 ? She is 67 now.

    Thank you Lycander and

    Thank you Lycander and Kwaice for your Glyph tips. I shall start moving my Mage now since I'm abit bored.

    Kwaice's picture

    The guide is clearly

    The guide is clearly outdated and i am not even sure i'd use frostfire if i was to level a mage again as it's too reliant on crit for my taste.

    I should take some time to revamp it Laughing out loud ...

    It's still a fun spec and if you go frostfire for leveling, the rotation is pretty simple: just chain frostfire bolt at max range. When hot streak procs, pyro.

    Blast wave and Dragon Breath mana cost is really low (7% of base mana) and can be used to gain back some distance if enemies manage to get close to you or to finish them.

    This guide is awesome, no

    This guide is awesome, no doubt on that.
    But, the only small problem i found was the rotation,
    after level 74, you don't tell us the new rotation for the fire spec,
    can you maybe update that?

    other than that, it's a great guide:)

    Young Blood's picture

    Great guide, but I found gramatical error...

    This guide is AMAZING!!! It really helped me out a lot!!!! I did find one small problem. In section 3, for the description of Empowered Icebolt, you wrote "You also gain 0,2 sec casting time" when it should say 0.2 Thanks again. Keep up the great work!! Please.

    Actually ...

    Actually we Europeans always spell it like that. Depends on which continent you are I think Sticking out tongue

    Young Blood's picture


    Wow thats really cool! Thanks for telling me. You learn something new every day I guess.

    Any chance you might be

    Any chance you might be updating this guide? From what I am reading some people suggest switching to more of a Arcane/Fire build once at level 70 to 80. Then jusing it for raiding at 80.


    I've been working on my macros lately and tried the conjuring food/water macro you have listed. It conjures perfectly but you say to left click to eat and it's not doing it. Any suggestions


    Yes mate that happened to me two the way t odo it it on the [button:2] make sure there is the : between the button and the 2 thats all there is to it

    Great guide

    Wow, this is a great guide! My alt is a mage, and this is helping a LOT. Thanks!

    Also, I'd recommend one, and only one, point in Improved Blizzard, for the reason you spoke about -- it slows AND gives you Frostbite -> Shatter chances. When I'm instancing, this annihilates mobs around the tank.

    talent calculator

    Great guide. Just wanted to say that now whenever i go to the talent calculator link shown after the frostfire blot section, im told access denied and it says i need a username and password. anyone know why this is?

    nukestorm's picture

    after patch 3.1

    do you still recommend getting winters chill since it only gives 1% extra crit now after patch?

    Kwaice's picture

    Yeah, crit makes for faster

    Yeah, crit makes for faster kills, even if it's 5% less, it's still nice. You also gain those 3% crit with your frostbolt.

    Beside, i don't see where i would put those points instead.

    Nuclear898's picture

    I disagree with the 6-11

    I disagree with the 6-11 rotation, its alot better to do a fireball from max range (35yd), then go for frostbolt untill the mob has 1/4 HP then use fireblast and then melee or a last frostbolt, the DoT helps alot.

    nukestorm's picture

    or maybe i just remembered

    or maybe i just remembered it wrong

    nukestorm's picture


    my frost bite talent only lasts about 2 seconds.

    Kwaice's picture

    I noticed that i talked

    I noticed that i talked about living bomb and scorch in my last comment (Nyon's question) when it's not even in the spec i suggested so don't take that comment into account, i had the raiding spec in head Sticking out tongue

    Holyterror's picture

    Frost AOE

    If you are going to level frost then AOE grinding is the only way to go IMHO. Frostbite = death wish for AOE

    It would be nice to have a Frost AOE guide. You can still follow Jame's guide but AOE when you can pull a few (most of the time)

    DKs rule...others drool

    DKs rule...others drool

    Great guide. I do have a

    Great guide. I do have a question, however. What rotation do you suggest at 75, after you switch specs to get Frostfire bolt?

    Kwaice's picture

    Just frostfire bolt

    Just frostfire bolt spam.

    You can't start with Living Bomb or scorching the mob for the +crit chance right away or you'll lose the range advantage.

    But if you like living bomb, you can go with

    Frostfire bolt (max range) > Living Bomb > Frostfire bolt spam.

    Mobs just die very very quick for Living Bomb to be worth casting anyway.

    blast wave?

    I'm guessing I shouldn't use pyroblast to start attacking, but at 75 should blast wave replace frost nova, and dragon breath replace cone of cold?

    Kwaice's picture

    Yeah, those 2 attacks are

    Yeah, those 2 attacks are very nice to cast if a mob manages to get close to you.

    Kranky's picture

    I love the guide

    I have been following the guide since level one and it has been a great help.

    I just wanted to point out that you get Ice Lance at 66.


    a.k.a. Sonnis on Anetheron

    Kwaice's picture

    Oops, thanks, fixed

    Oops, thanks, fixed Laughing out loud

    Sorry for the long delay;

    Sorry for the long delay; I've been busy recently, I'll finish it soon!

    Trollvink's picture

    Hi, I'm currently leveling


    I'm currently leveling a mage, 'till level 29. Then I'm gonna twink him. When I looked for a guide for mages, this was the first one I found. I'm using this guide and I love it.

    A few things I noticed:

      - You can color your links by putting the colour between the text, before the URL code. like this:

      [ url=YourLinkHere][ColourTypeHere]TextHere[/color][ /url]

      This would be a nice addition for your spells. For instance, blue colour for Frost spells, and red for Fire.

      At '6. Gear' you have 'Critical Rating', I think it should be 'Critical strike rating'.

      At '6. Gear', again. You say INT, you might want to say the full word, Intellect. Sounds a bit friendlier and nicer for new players, in my opinion. Same with Stamina and Spirit, in that section.

      You could replace all of the 'i' with capital 'I' if you mean 'yourself'.

    There are alot of other things, but I wont nitpick any longer Sticking out tongue Outside of that, it's a wonderful guide. Covered everything I would ever need for leveling.

    ~ Trollvink

    Hello, Kwaice. I just wanted

    Hello, Kwaice. I just wanted to offer to proofread the guide for you, if you wanted. I saw a few errors earlier, and I'm a grammar freak sometimes, haha. Sticking out tongue

    Kwaice's picture

    Yeah go ahead, english isn't

    Yeah go ahead, english isn't my primary language so i am sure there are some errors here and there Laughing out loud

    honj93's picture

    Talent build

    The other thing I wanted to say (sorry, had no time yesterday) is about your suggestions on talents and especially ice shards.

    I agree that it is a core talent for a frost mage, but as at the beginning your crit chance with spells is about 5% and maybe a bit more depending on your gear your damage output will not be that raised by that talent. I suggest waiting utnil you get shatter to optimize the combinations of these two.

    Also I would say to take Icy Veins, it's only 1 point anyway and because some people don't like to use spells on cd and hold them for a more difficult situtation I can guarrantee that I'm one of them and even if I feel bad everytime I do it use your spells, the cd will be over faster than you think. In this case I would suggest a macro if you don't feel comfortable clicking each time on spell icon, because if I remember right Icy Veins doesn't trigger the GCD.

    And last I would say to not take Cold as Ice immediatly as at this moment it only affects Cold Snap.

    So, I would say something like that (although it's not that perfect just to get a general idea):

    10-14 : 5/5 Improved Frostbolt
    15-17 : 3/3 Frostbite
    18-19 : 2/3 Icy Floes
    20 : 1/1 Icy Veins
    21 : 3/3 Icy Floes
    22-24 : 3/3 Icy Shards
    25-27 : 3/3 Shatter
    28-29 : 2/2 Arctic Reach
    30 : 1/1 Cold Snap
    31-33 : 3/3 Frost Chanelling
    34 : 1/3 Piercing Ice
    35-37 : 3/3 Winter's Chill
    38-39 : 3/3 Piercing Ice
    40 : 1/1 Ice Barrier
    41-42 : 2/2 Cold as Ice

    From here on just continue as you would, maybe only give less points to Arctic Winds.

    P.S. For AoE grinders I stronly recommend :
    impr Blizzard ofc
    Icy Veins
    Shattered Barrier
    improved Cone of Cold
    frost chaneling as blizzard uses lots of mana
    and permafrost is also nice

    Kwaice's picture

    Very valid point indeed. I

    Very valid point indeed.

    I didn't really think about the low crit chance at lower levels.

    I just went "if i crit, i want to crit BIG ! :p" even if i have 6% chance to crit only.

    If you really like Icy veins then yes, you can put it in your build and remove 1 point in Arctic Winds like you suggested.

    I will change the guide a little when i get some free time.

    Thanks for the great suggestions Smiling

    honj93's picture

    Nice guide

    Quite nice guide and it will probably help many people who want to roll a mage. There are some things I would like to mention though:

    1. Buy water. I know this may seem stupid, but when your conjured water is worse than the one you can buy you should buy it it will diminue greatly your downtime (personal experience Sticking out tongue). After a certain lvl ( 10 I think) this is the case for lvls 15-20, 25-30, 35-40 and so on. If you have a main you shouldn't have money problems also not if you've picked 2 gathering proffesions (my priest alt has probably made about 20g and is only lvl 13 Sticking out tongue)

    I have something other to say to but I don't have time now, will add it in the afternoon Smiling

    Kwaice's picture

    Interesting, i never

    Interesting, i never actually thought of that while leveling, but i've indeed noticed that my water sometimes didn't replenish my mana bar fast enough Sticking out tongue

    Nice guide =) Recently

    Nice guide =)

    Recently rolled a mage alt as a side project while waiting for wrath, but had so much fun with him, he's now my main!

    Looks like your guide cover's everything well, and the frostfire section was very helpful as i haven't really looked into that spec yet as levelled fully (currently 78) deep frost.

    I specked more towards being an AOE machine and levelled from the early 20's to late 40's doing only about 10 quests, the rest AOE grinding. I just thought I'd mention it because i don't really think any mage guide is complete without a mention of the basic AOE cast cycle e.g
    Ice barrier / mana shield -> round mobs up -> frost nova -> blink / run -> blizzard-> blizzard -> cone of cold (should be dead, unless they are a few level higher then you, if so start the rotation again)

    great video here and the inspiration for me rolling a mage

    and a horde version here (but watch the above one first)

    if you want me to do a bit of an AOE wright up let me know and ill see what i can do when i get some time,



    mana shield??

    I would suggest you never ...ever....use mana shield when AoE grinding for the following reason, if your low level AoE grinding your mana pool isn't going to be too big and will allow you to get off 2 Blizz, 2 nova a blink and CoC with very little mana left the reason you need your 2 nova is if you miss a mob or have an add
    and need to regroup them, if you where to use mana shield each hit will take mana off you (and you will get hit) leaving you with an OOM situation and 10 almost dead mobs coming at you
    If you don't have Ice barrier yet go in with no shield round up nova Blizz Blizz CoC
    all mobs dead, you will have little mana left and your HP will be well down but its better that OOM, full HP 10 mobs running at you

    Once you get higher level your mana pool will support you using mana shield but then you have Ice barrier so why would you Eye

    oh one more thing if mana is an issue forget blink and sidestep away, it might give you that little bit extra to finish them off

    Harper1990's picture


    But don't forget to change the Talents if you do take on an AoE section - after all, can you imagine AoE grinding with Frostbite???!

    "Wise is the man who knows he does not know"...
    ...Or who knows why my mother keeps calling me.

    "Wise is the man who knows he does not know"...
    ...Or who knows why my mother keeps calling me.

    Kwaice's picture

    Thank you. I've personaly

    Thank you.

    I've personaly never used the aoe grinding path so if you want to add a section to the guide, feel free to send me a message Smiling

    I tried this, I like it!

    I have a mage alt that I've let sit on the wayside. I read this, and redid his talents, and sought out items as you suggested...he rocks! Thanks so much for the helpul tips, and info.

    Interested in doing a priest guide now? Smiling

    To do is to be - Socrates
    To be is to do - Voltaire
    Do be do be do - Sinatra

    To do is to be - Socrates
    To be is to do - Voltaire
    Do be do be do - Sinatra

    Kwaice's picture

    Thanks for the input, glad

    Thanks for the input, glad you liked it.

    I could do a priest leveling guide but i don't have much time for it now.

    If i get the time, i will make one.

    iRaid's picture

    Very Nice

    Very Nice Guide!!

    I've never played a Mage before and after reading this it kind of makes me want to go and make a Mage alt.

    Kwaice's picture

    Thank you Jiyambi. Your

    Thank you Jiyambi.

    Your guides as well as Jame's helped me a ton to create this one.

    Jiyambi's picture

    After reading through it in

    After reading through it in more detail, I can say yet again that this looks quite impressive with a lot of really useful tips.

    Jiyambi's picture

    This looks great, and I see

    This looks great, and I see it has Jame's seal of approval! I have so many alts so these class-specific guides that are coming out are a big help. Thanks for making it!