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Revision of Kwaice's mage leveling guide from Mon, 2008-12-29 11:32

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, dungeons 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 up while leveling.
It offers much more control over your ennemies than fire and arcane and can dish out very nice damage.


The spells you will use most of the time as a frost spec mage are Frostbolt, Frost Nova and Ice Lance (at 65).

  • Frostbolt : 3 sec cast time damaging spell that slows down your enemy's walking speed. This is your primary nuke spell, not as powerful as fireball (damage-wise) but it will let you solo more easily without worrying much about enemies getting close to you.
  • Frost Nova : Roots the enemies in place, allowing you to get some distance if they managed to get close to you. Useful against any melee mob and even caster type for the burst it offers with the Shatter talent (see Talents section).
  • Ice Lance : Instant low-mana spell that does 3 times its initial damage if the enemy is frozen in place. Can deal HUGE damage and is instant cast. It only comes at 65 though. Also useful to tag a mob.


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 even 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.
  • 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 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 more easily.

  • 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 dungeons from time to time.

  • Shatter

    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 (Death Knight) 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.

  • 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 so, 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 imo.

  • Cold as Ice

    Maxed, it shortens the cooldown of your :

    • Cold Snap by 1 min 36 secs.
    • Ice Barrier by 6 secs
    • Summon Water Elemental by 36 secs
  • Very useful, juste like Cold Snap, it adds more survavibility and the shortened cooldown on Summon Water Elemental is very very nice to have while leveling (and anything else actually).

  • Winter's Chill

    Each time your damaging spells hit, you have 2% more chances to crit. Stacks up to 5 times to make it 10%. Allows you to crit your enemies more often. Take this.

  • Shattered Barrier

    I personaly don't really like this talent for leveling. I didn't find much use for it and it can sometimes be annoying when the auto frost nova unsheeps an add that was too close without warning.

  • Ice Barrier

    Your personal shield, that prevents pushback on your spells while it's active. Very useful against those annoying ranged mobs and against a pack of enemies that are too close to you. It takes a % of your spell damage to absorb more. Core talent that will make leveling easier.

  • Arctic winds

    +5% damage on all your frost spells. It doesn't seem like much but it will make you kill mobs faster. Also the chance to be missed by melee and ranged attack can be very nice. You'll love seeing missed ranged hits Laughing out loud

  • Empowered Frostbolt

    +4% crit and your Frostbolt gains an additional 10% of your spell power. Your primary nuke is now even stronger. Core talent, don't level without it.

  • Fingers of Frost

    Your chilling spells (Frostbolt, Cone of Cold, Improved Blizzard) have a 15% chance to make your 2 next spells act like your target was frozen in place, even if they are moving. Shatter, anyone ?

    Must have. It's basically a 15% chance to improve your crit rate by 50% for your next 2 spells even if your target is not frozen. You will definitely like it.

  • Brain Freeze

    Burst damage. A free instant cast fireball, even untalented, hurts. Makes your killing even faster.

  • Summon Water Elemental

    The Water Elemental is a VERY strong guardian. Its bolt hurts alot and its Freeze is basically a frost nova that you can cast anywhere, even 35 yards away from you. It allows very nasty burst damage on demand.

    I suggest using a macro for your water elemental though, as it can be annoying to click on your pet cast bar. This is how the macro works:

    -The first click makes you summon your water elemental on defensive mode and makes it attack your current target.
    -If you click on the macro again, 2 things happen : It makes your water elemental attack your other target if you changed targets. It also activates the Freeze ability of your Water Elemental, you still have to target it around your enemy to make it work though.


    As you can see, you become very powerful when your elemental is active. You can run to an enemy with your elemental, start casting Frostbolt and just when Frostbolt is about to be launched, use the Freeze ability of your elemental to root your enemy in place. That will make your frostbolt crit almost all the time, chuncking a huge amount of hp off the mob. Even more deadly at 65 when you get Ice Lance.

    The elemental also takes a percentage of your spell damage, intellect and stamina.

    Too bad it only lasts 45 secs >_<

  • Improved Water Elemental

    Mainly useful while raiding. Recovers the mana of your raid and your elemental now lasts 1 min. Not very useful while leveling, your enemies will be dead very quickly anyway.

  • Chilled to the Bone

    Your Frostbolt, Frostfire Bolt and Ice Lance do an additional 5% damage. What else can i say, still more damage on your primary nuke spell as well as Ice Lance. Your enemies also take more time to get close to you <3

    We won't use this talent with Frostfire Bolt, i will suggest another spec for it

  • Deep Freeze

    A 5 secs stun ability only available when your target is frozen in place (Frostbite, Frost Nova, you know the music). Pretty nice, this ability makes you untouchable and lets you solo elites without problems if they are not immune to stuns.

    You can make solid combos that prevent your enemies from even moving, like Frostbolt > Frost Nova / [=#add8e6]Frostbite > Frostbolt + Ice Lance + Deep Freeze, allowing you to cast another full frostbolt while your enemy is stunned (if he isn't dead that's it).

    This is how i would put my talent points while leveling up. I'll also explain the cast rotation depending on which spell is available. I'll go up to 75 and then i invite you to read the Frostfire section of the guide.

    10-14 : 5/5 Improved Frostbolt
    15-17 : 3/3 Frostbite
    18-20 : 3/3 Ice Shards
    21-23 : 3/3 Icy Floes
    24 : 1/3 Piercing Ice
    25-27 : 3/3 Shatter
    28-29 : 2/2 Arctic Reach
    30 : Cold Snap
    31-33 : Frost channeling
    34 : 2/3 Piercing Ice
    35-37 : 3/3 Winter's Chill
    38-39 : 2/2 Cold as Ice
    40 : Ice Barrier
    41-44 : 4/5 Arctic Winds
    45-46 : 2/2 Fingers of Frost
    47-48 : 2/2 Empowered Frostbolt
    49 : 5/5 Arctic Winds
    50 : Summon Water Elemental
    51-53 : 3/3 Brain Freeze
    54 : 3/3 Piercing Ice
    55-59 : 5/5 Chilled to the Bone
    60 : Deep Freeze

    Now we'll venture a bit in the fire tree until 75 and the Frostfire bolt respec. You can also put points in the frost tree wherever you feel like it.

    61-63 : 3/3 Incineration (more crit with Fireblast and Cone of Cold)
    64-65 : 2/2 Improved Fireblast (-2 secs on Fireblast CD)

    (Improved Fireball is useless anyway, since we only cast it on Brain freeze procs)

    66-70 : 5/5 Ignite (more damange on fire crits, even if it's not our primary nukes, it helpsl)
    71-73 : 3/3 Impact (your spells have a 10% chance to stun your enemies for 2 secs, just to make you even more unreachable).
    74 : Last point before the respec, put it wherever you like to. Burning Determination maybe.

    75. Here we are, you can now learn Frostfire Bolt at your mage trainer. I strongly suggest respecing to take full advantage of this spell because it's simply monstruous imo.
    I also invite you to head to the Frostfire section for more information on this spell.

    Cast rotation

    Your cast rotation will vary depending on what level you are and what spells are available in your arsenal.

    Note: You should always start at max range of your frostbolt.

    Level 1-11 : Just chain Frostbolt until your enemy gets close to you, when it does, use Fireblast to finish him. If he still lives, just cast another Frostbolt / Fireblast.

    Level 12-29 : Start chaining Frostbolt until your enemy gets close to you. When it does, use Frost Nova (available at level 12) to froze him in place, take some distance and start chaining Frostbolt again. At 27, your Shatter talent should be maxed, meaning you will reliably crit every time your target is frozen in place. You'll start killing faster but your killing speed will vary depending on the proc rate of Frostbite.

    Level 30-39 : Same as before, excepted Cold Snap is available, meaning you can Frost Nova your enemies two times in a row to burst them even faster.

    Level 40-44 : Ice Barrier is available. You'll have to worry less about being hit and will be able to cast your Frostbolt wihout pushbacks while the barrier is active.

    Level 45-49 : You'll start criting even more. Fingers of Frost will speed up your killing tremendously.

    Level 50 : Your Water Elemental is now available. I suggest saving it for tricky situations (elites, pack of mobs, etc..).

    Level 51-59 : Now you have to monitor the Brain Freeze proc. When it does, launch the Fireball after your nukes. Don't interrupt your spells for a Fireball unless it can finish off your enemy.

    Level 60-64 : Deep Freeze is available, meaning you can stun your enemies when they are frozen in place. I suggest stunning them when Frost Nova/Frostbite is about to break. It will mostly break when you crit the enemy.

    Level 65-70 : Killing machine : ON. Ice Lance is a crazy spell. It is instant cast, costs almost nothing and does HUGE damage. As soon as you see the enemy frozen in place, be ready to launch an ice lance right after your frostbolt. Those 2 spells critting in a row will remove like 60% of your enemy's health.

    Level 71-74 : Your spells can now stun, thanks to Impact. If an enemy manages to gets close to you, it means either that you were AFK or that he is immune to movement-imparing effects Sticking out tongue

  • Comments

    Benhir's picture


    This guide is GREAT! I mean, what I really needed to level a mage! I found it very useful, well written and formatted. I have just one thing to add: in the Brain Freeze explaination, you should add that it is instant cast and has NO MANA cost Smiling.

    Other than that, I loved this.

    Kwaice's picture

    Thank you for the comment

    Thank you for the comment Benhir.

    I will bold the "free" part of the spell and add that it costs no mana Smiling

    Jame's picture

    Very nicely written, and

    Very nicely written, and it's exactly how I would suggest to level a mage as well.

    Thumbs up!

    Small mistake here:

    "Replace nameofthefood in the macro by the exact name of the food you can summon (shift-click the food to copy the text in the macro).[i/]"

    The italic tag needs to be fixed. put the / before the i Smiling

    Kwaice's picture

    Thank you Jame. Fixed.

    Thank you Jame. Fixed.

    one question

    this is a really good guide, i'm using it right now, I have one question though, why not do Shattered Barrier it's pretty much like another frost nova