World of Warcraft Mage Leveling Guide
Regardless of spec, warlocks are a fun, versatile class to level and grind with since they can adapt so well to the mobs you're fighting in a particular setting. Mobs resistant to shadow? Switch to fire and vice-versa. Mobs need tanking? Get your Voidwalker out. Mobs need crowd controlling? Get your Succubus out and the examples can go on and on.
World of Warcraft Mage Leveling Guide – Talent Specs
As most mages will agree, there are two trees worth climbing up to for leveling: fire and frost. While fire gives you better burst damage and good single-target killing capabilities, frost mages will be able to control their opponents better and generally multi-target better. Fire is quite heavy on mana and will require more downtime, but you will also kill mobs faster so that makes up for it a little. Frost on the other hand takes a bit more time to kill the several mobs you’re about to control, but frost spells are more mana efficient. Frost is also more reliant on spell cooldowns than fire.
So which one should you choose? That’s not something anyone can be “told”, you’re better off trying both types of specs first, at least for a couple of early levels (20+).
But if you really want someone to tell you what to do, I will :). Try going fire for the first 40 levels and see how the burst-mage type fits you, then do a respec to frost. Don’t dismiss it after a few days, like most players that respecced to something new do, after they had their old build for some time. Give it at least 3-4 levels, get used to the talents, the new spells, the attack patterns and the playing style of a frost build. Once you’re level 45, you already have a good knowledge of both specs, so you can pick one up now to use for leveling all the way to 70. Note that in a few levels, you will be eligible to take the 41-point main talent in each spec, so you’ll have to decide now if you’ll need the short-distance cone-damage Dragon’s Breath from the fire tree, or the water elemental from the frost tree.
Arcane may be useful as a support build, but you shouldn’t really put more than 10-12 talent points in it. Talents in Arcane worth taking include Improved Arcane Missles, Arcane Concentration for the 10% free-damage spell chance (Clearcasting) and Wand Specialization (don’t laugh, your wand is your main non-spell DPS and a 25% increase in its damage for 2 points’ worth is a fair trade, especially for Fire mages that will find themselves out of mana and will require to use their wand to finish the mobs they were grinding). You can find two good leveling specs in our Mage Talent Build Guide.
World of Warcraft Mage Leveling Guide – Levels 1-20
The first 10 levels shouldn’t really be explained but then again, it didn’t look well writing “World of Warcraft Mage Leveling Guide – Levels 10-20” so I’ll mention them anyway. It’s during these first 10 levels that you get the hang of playing a mage, since the quests are easy and the mobs easier and you can experiment with pretty much all you like.
At level 10, you will be able to start building on your talent tree of choice. Read above and check out the Mage Talent Build Guide for a few tips.
Once you get to level 13-14, grab a party for The Deadmines (Alliance mostly at this level) or Ragefire Chasm (Horde only) and start getting used to what you’ll be doing throughout most of your career as a mage: overnuking and dying :). Actually, it’s a good idea to start learning about a mage’s aggro by now and trying to avoid pulling mobs from the tank…trust me, it’s a lesson that will prove a lot useful later. You can also go to the Wailing Caverns in a few levels, although the instance is situated in the Barrens near the Horde capital Orgrimmar, so it’s more accessible for Horde players.
World of Warcraft Mage Leveling Guide – Levels 21-30
If you decided to be a frost mage, by the time you’re in your 20s, you will be able to take Improved Frost Nova, which is an excellent leveling and grinding talent for AoE techniques.
While you’re in the 20s, you’re still not at your full leveling potential as a mage, since you’re missing a few critical talents that make this class such a fast leveling one. So you’ll have to pretty much tag along with what the other classes do at this point, alternating between quests and grinding in areas such as Redridge Mountains and Wetlands (level 22ish zones) for Alliance mages, or the southern part of the Barrens (20-24) for Hordes. These are still faction zones, but your next target, Ashenvale (23-26) is a contested area so if you’re on a PVP server you will get a first taste of what it’s like to PVP as a mage (you’ll probably lose painfully at first, since like I said, mages fulfill their potential as they level up, unlike some classes that get a strong start but a slower power buildup).
Instances such as Shadowfang Keep (22-30 - closer to Horde areas but available to both factions) and the Stockades (24-32 found in Stormwind, only available for Alliance mages) open up for you in the mid 20s, and you should especially grind Shadowfang Keep, since it has some lovely mage cloth drops. The Stockades on the other hand is a great experience well, since the mobs there, although elites, are weaker and can be grinded faster.
At level 25, try a few Blackfathom Depths runs and make sure you take all the quests that can be completed inside it (or just ask your party members to share them to save you some running). The instance does offer some nice cloth drops, but it’s a bit long and boring after the first…one try.
A few excellent AOE grinding spots at this level range include:
- Hillsbrad Fields in Hillsbrad Foothils – you can AOE peasants and farmers here quite easily and it’s one of the first AOE experience farms out there.
- Thousand Needles – Highperch Wyverns – good clusters, nice experience.
- Raven Hill Tomb – Duskwood - Plague Spreaders can be easily AOE grinded and dish out a fair amount of experience. Actually, Duskwood is a good AoE area all round.
Your next instances when you reach level 28 should be Razorfen Kraul (Horde) and Gnomeregan (Alliance). Of course, both factions can enter each instance, but with the Razorfen Kraul located in the south of the Barrens and Gnomeregan located near Ironforge, it’s a long and risky walk for an opposing faction party to get there (actually it will be very difficult to find a party for these instances in the first place, if you’re part of the opposing faction).
World of Warcraft Mage Leveling Guide – Levels 31-40
Ok, levels 31 through 40 are really when mages get a boost in leveling. If you’ve specced fire, you will gain access to Blast Wave, a good fire AoE alternative. Frost mages get Ice Block and Improved Cone of Cold, which are two of the most important frost AoE grinding talents from hereon. If you’re the type of person that prefers grinding to questing and instancing for experience, then this is the time to start putting the power of your mage to full effect.
Questing: Desolace, Arathi Highlands, Hillsbrad Foothills, Shimmering Flats are good 30-36 questing hubs and I’d personally go for Shimmering Flats, since it’s a small, compact area full of mobs and with a lot of quests, that can net out a massive amount of experience/hour if you combine finishing quests with AoEing the mobs there. Although Stranglethorn Vale becomes an option at level 34, I’d stay away from it for 3-4 more levels, especially if you play on a PVP server (people who leveled in STV on a PVP server will know why I hate this area so much).
Now that you can AoE effectively as either a fire or a frost mage, a few great AoE grinding zones include:
- Shimmering Flats in Thousand Needles – Silithids, Salt Vultures and Scorpid Reavers roam around the area and they range from level 32 to 36 so you can grind them effectively for a couple more levels. The tight clusters in which they can be found make them excellent AoE targets. Admittedly, they don’t drop great stuff, but then again we’re here to grind experience not gold.
- Arathi Highlands – Dabyrie Humans in the Dabyrie Farm are awesome to grind because you can easily gather several of them for AoE, they give you great experience and being humanoids, they drop cloth, money and items. Another good AoE grinding spot in Arathi is the Go’shek Farm, where you can turn your mage into an experience sucking machine by killing Hammerfall Orcs (good drops too).
You’ll probably be busy grinding and questing until level 36, which is a great time to start Scarlet Monastery, one of the places you should be seeing a lot in the next 8 or so levels. The 4 sub-instances (Scarlet Graveyard, Scarlet Library, Scarlet Armory and Scarlet Cathedral, in order of difficulty) will be your experience farming instances until level 42-43 and they also have the advantage of some great cloth drops.
The only wing that is not that good for mages is the Scarlet Armory, which is designed for non-clothies for the most part. Obviously, for Alliance players, the main disadvantage of Scarlet Monastery is that it’s so damn far away and deep inside Horde Territory (again, trouble if you’re on a PVP server). Once you get to 40 and buy your mount it shouldn’t be that much of a problem though. I suggest getting a party of friends that you know (you’re level 36ish, you should’ve made some friends in WoW by now…) and asking them if they have time for several runs. This way, you can get all the items you need in a multi-run, or you can take each wing and do it successively (until the one you can’t handle anymore).
By the way, you can start going to Razorfen Downs around level 37-38, but I wouldn’t recommend grinding for it, since it doesn’t offer the same mage drops that Scarlet Monastery does. Besides, it’s equally hard to get to RFD as an Alliance mage, as it is to get to Scarlet Monastery.
World of Warcraft Mage Leveling Guide – Levels 41-50
You now have your mount, so getting anywhere in Azeroth is not the same pain in the behind it was for the past 39 levels. For your first levels in this range, you should have 3 objectives:
- Grinding Scarlet Cathedral
- Questing in Stranglethorn Vale
- AoE Grinding
You’re probably wondering what good AoE grind spots you can find around level 42-44. Camp Cagg in the Badlands is one of them, packed with roaming ogres that are easy to gather up and kill. Being humanoids, they have nice drops as well and they’ll be a viable grinding option until level 44. The Southsea Pirates in Tanaris are also a good AoE grinding option and you’ll be killing, again, humanoids (good experience + better drops).
Speaking of Tanaris you can start questing here in the mid-40s to great effect and Zul Farak is an instance with varied gear, but some of the drops there are truly amazing for mages. The Zum'rah's Vexing Cane from Witch Doctor Zum'rah is a nice staff that you can equip at level 42 and the Spellshock Leggings that drop off random mobs in ZF is an awesome blue item (low drop rate though).
You might wonder why I haven’t mentioned Uldaman, which is a level 40-46 instance. Well, although it’s worth going there for the quests inside, there’s not a lot of drops that mages can use efficiently. Most of the cloth drops have high Spirit, which is great for priests, but not all that useful for mages at this level, since you’re probably aiming for +spell damage and Intellect in the first place. One item from Uldaman, the Miner’s Hat of the Deep (17 Intellect, 10 Spirit, 7 Stamina) is quite good, but it drops off random mobs and I haven’t really seen it that often, despite doing a lot of Uldaman runs with all my characters.
At level 48, start looking for Maraudon parties. There are plenty of quests there and the instance is huge so you’ll need a lot of runs through it before you get bored (unless you’re leveling an alt Mage and you’ve already been to Maraudon countless times, in which case it’s boring long before you enter).
World of Warcraft Mage Leveling Guide – Levels 51-58
If you went all the way with a talent tree, then level 50 will bring you a wrapped gift in the form of the build-end talent. Assuming you went either Fire or Frost so far, you will either get Dragon’s Breath, a good AoE short range spell that needs a little getting used to before being effective, or the Water Elemental summon, which is a good single-target DPS boost for frosty and also enhances your crowd controlling ability through its Freeze spell. Overall, I’d say the Dragon’s Breath is more useful when leveling, although the Water Elemental is versatile enough to be used in instances, PVP, AoE grinding and single-target grinding.
Two 52-54 instances you should try out at this level are Sunken Temple and Blackrock Depths. Both have a lot of good mage drops, but both are quite long and hated by a lot of players, which makes getting a party for them harder.
In what regards the zones you should quest/grind in at this point, Felwood and Un’Goro are both great choices. Un’Goro is more compact and has more quests, but the mobs there roam around and it can get frustrating after a while when you’re being ganked by a raptor while fighting some mobs. Felwood on the other hand has a few awesome AoE grinding areas, such as the Furbolg camps (southern and northern Felwood) – these guys stay in packs and it’s almost like they ask to be AoEd.
If you’re going to be here for a while, you can also gain Timbermaw reputation, which is still useful, even in The Burning Crusade, as it offers some nice recipes that can be used as place-holders until you have the money to buy the really good ones in The Burning Crusade. The Warpwood Elementals in Felwood are also a good grinding spot and although the Essences they drop have decreased their cost dramatically in the Burning Crusade, they can still be sold for a few gold pieces, since they are used in placeholder enchants and recipes.
At levels 56-57 you can do Scholo, but I really suggest just putting some effort in pure grinding and getting to 58 so you can start questing in Outland.
World of Warcraft Mage Leveling Guide – Outland
Outland areas offer a visibly larger quantity of quests per area, which makes earning experience an easier task. Basically, you'll find yourself spending less time looking for zones to grind in and quests to do, since you'll have clearer objectives. The zone order is usually Hellfire Peninsula -> Zangarmarsh -> Terrokar Forrest -> Nagrand/Blade's Edge -> Netherstorm/Shadowmoon Valley.
World of Warcraft Mage Leveling Guide - Levels 58 and 59: You could go through all the Azerothian level 58-60 instances such as UBRS, LBRS, Stratholme, Dire Mauls, etc. But seriously, Outland is a much better place to be, simply because there are a boatload of quests everywhere, the drops are better and the first instances (Hellfire Ramparts and Blood Furnace) are quite fast. Leave the instances alone though and go for the quests around the Dark Portal and slowly make your way to Honor Hold/Thrallmar. If you haven’t been here before, these quests also offer you a great chance to get accustomed to the new World and the story in The Burning Crusade.
World of Warcraft Mage Leveling Guide - Level 60 and 61: Grinding these two levels will be easy, easier than 58-59 even. At 58, the quests around Honor Hold/Thrallmar might prove just a tad too tough, but now you’ll be ok. Then, you can start going to Hellfire Ramparts, a fast instance with good mage drops (each boss drops an item you’ll be able to use for at least another 3-4 levels). But most importantly, you can start AoEing in one of my favorite spots: the Bone Wastes. If you go just south of Honor Hold, you’ll find dozens of vultures roaming around some huge bones. They’re so easy to AoE it’s scary how fast you can grind them (unfortunately they get “depleted” after a few minutes and you’ll have to wait for them to pop back up). They also drop buzzard meat that you can use to make Buzzard Bites (20 Stamina and Spirit for 30 minutes), a nice addition to AoE mages.
World of Warcraft Mage Leveling Guide - Level 62: Grind Hellfire Ramparts and Blood Furnace for some nice blues (Hellfire Ramparts has better drops for mages, but gives you less experience) before setting off to the western part of Hellfire Peninsula, for the quest hubs in Temple of Sha’naar/Falcon Watch. Most of the quests here require you to grind various mobs, so that’s a great experience boost. You can get to level 63 quickly if you follow the quest lines and stay out of PVP trouble.
World of Warcraft Mage Leveling Guide - Level 63: Zangarmarsh is your next questing zone at level 63 and there are several areas where AoE proves its worth. The naga camps around the Zangarmarsh lakes or the Broken camps in the southern part are great spots, but you can also try the Dead Mire. Those clumsy bog giants don’t like to stay too spread out, so you can gather them and AoE them with ease since they’re the perfect mobs: they have weak hits, they die easily and they drop Motes of Life, which are quite the money makers these days. The ogres in the Northwestern Zangarmarsh are nice to grind as well and you’ll actually have a few quests that will require you to grind them. The only setback about the ogres is that there are a few casters amongst them and as you probably know by now, AoE is only effective against melees and a single caster or ranged mob can ruin your entire plans.
World of Warcraft Mage Leveling Guide - Level 64: This level basically opens up the Coilfang instances (well you could’ve went to Slave Pens and the Underbog earlier, but now’s the right time really) and you’ll also want to finish off the quests in the eastern part and move on to western Zanga. If you’re really bored of mushrooms by now, just pass on to Terokkar Forrest, since some of the last Zanga quests are annoying for clothies (such as those stupid bogs that eat Sporegarr children and place mushroom bombs on the floor).
World of Warcraft Mage Leveling Guide - Levels 65-67: Terokkar Forrest has a lot of quests, especially around the Auchindoun Crater. Mobs worth grinding include the Cultists found in several areas around the crater (they drop Aldor reputation marks and Fel Armaments that can be used/traded/sold) and the Netherweb Spiders in the north-east of the Crater. It’s quite easy to gather up 5-6 spiders at a time and AoE them if you think you’re up for it. The downside is that the area you’ll find most of the spiders is a forest that gives you less room to move around and do your grinding routine as a frost mage (fire mages have it easier with the spiders though).
By grinding these guys, you’ll be getting a lot of Netherweb Silks from their bodies, which are quite expensive and can be used to craft some of the best pre-raiding gear in the game (used in most BoP craftable sets, including the ones that interest us most: Frozen Shadoweave and Spellfire). Personally I skipped Blade’s Edge and Nagrand as a mage and went straight to Netherstorm at level 67, but feel free to choose any destination since it doesn’t really matter at this stage.
World of Warcraft Mage Leveling Guide – 68-70: This is just a last push and if you’ve done it so far, the last two levels shouldn’t really be an issue. Especially that you can now go to most of the Outland normal instances (save the Tempest Keep Botanica, Arcatraz and Mechanar, which you can only get to at level 70 and after you have a flying mount). My mage was the first player I leveled in Outland, so I had access to a large amount of new instances (Old Hillsbrad Foothills, Sethekk Halls, The Black Morass, Mana Tombs and so forth) and I breezed through these levels.
I didn’t really grind on purpose, but I did notice an awesome grinding opportunity in Netherstorm, around the Manaforges. The blood elves there are close together, have great drops, including Scryer signets which can be sold/used/traded, netherweave cloths and items. If you bring a secondary AoEer or a priest to keep you alive while you pull some risky maneuvers, you can easily grind 1 level per day. Another great questing/experience grinding/gold grinding spot that I found was the Kirin Tor Village, which is full of quests, mobs that drop valuable motes and also respawn faster than you can say “OMG I’m level 70 already”.
World of Warcraft Mage Leveling Guide – Profession Tips
The tailoring/enchanting profession combination is chosen by a lot of mages (and warlocks and priests) and it does have its advantages. If you intend to do end-game PVE raiding when you’re level 70, you should go with tailoring since you’ll be able to create some extremely powerful BoP (Bind on Pickup) items, such as those in the Frozen Shadoweave Set (+frost damage), or the Spellfire Set (+fire damage).
You’ll also be able to create some nice gear for yourself while leveling and all the linen/wool/silk/mageweave/runecloth/netherweave you’ll pick up can be used to create items to sell or disenchant, rather than simply selling the cloth. Enchanting, in theory, can help you save some money if you disenchant the stuff you pick up or the stuff you craft with tailoring and sell the shards/essences, rather than vendoring the items.
This profession combination can become really expensive really fast at higher levels, so you will have to take that into account as well. If you find yourself constantly OOM (out of money) you can drop enchanting and take on a gathering profession such as mining or herbalism.
World of Warcraft Mage Leveling Guide – Gear
Initially, you won’t find a lot of +spell damage or +fire/frost/arcane damage gear around Azeroth, so you’ll have to choose between “physical” stats. Intellect and Stamina should always get priority over Spirit. For those mages that say Spirit is equally important because it reduces downtimes…does it really? When was the last time you spent your downtime between mobs spirit regenerating and not drinking your own conjured water?!
At level 35ish, +spell damage items start to drop and you should prioritize this spell effect over physical stats. So the prioritization formula is +spell damage > Intellect > Stamina > Spirit. Specific tree damage such as +frost, +arcane and +fire can be used over spell damage, especially if your playing style doesn’t involve using too many spells outside your main spec tree. For fire mages, +spell crit chance and Intellect gain more importance since they improve your burst damage and your build is all about focus fire burst damage.
Another gear-related mage question is “Should I use a staff or an 1-handed sword + offhand combination?”. The answer is simple…use the one that gives you better stats overall, since it’s not like you’ll be using melee that often. Just add-up the stats and spell effects from your Sword/Offhand and compare them to the ones on the staff and you’ll know what to use. One last note regarding this comparison: usually, staves have a lot of few different stats, whereas 1-handed/offhanded combinations have less of more stats/effects. Take that into account when comparing mage weapons.
For more information on useful leveling mage gear, you can check out our Mage 1-60 Gear Guide. As soon as that gear becomes outdated and you move to Outland, check out the Mage Outland Gear guide for useful items for you from levels 61 to 70. Just remember to keep your gear stats consistent with your build, playing style and what exactly you will be doing mostly while leveling (grinding, questing, instancing, etc).