- Author: Kurathis
- Date: April 27, 2021
- Expansion: TBC Classic
Mages will generally choose Fire as their main spec until later in the Expansion when they start obtaining better gear.
Below is the spec you will want to use at first until your gear allows you to have enough mana to sustain Icy Veins.
Below is the build we’ll be focusing on when we have enough mana to sustain Icy Veins to maximize our DPS potential.
Hello mate! I’ve been wondering which spec to get while leveling on TBC, I think I won’t be doing much aoe farms, I’m currently using the boosted gear (which sucks), do you think fire is a good option? Or stay frost
My heart goes out to you – using boosted gear haha.
The unfortunate reality is that TBC’s launch will effectively determine your leveling strategy. Why I say this is because if Blizzard doesn’t create enough layers for us, Mages and Paladins alike are going to be competing for each prime grinding location, we’re going to have hundreds, if not thousands, of other players competing with us for quest mobs/objectives. The main takeaway from this is that if this does happen, you’ll find it very difficult to AoE grind to any degree.
Frost does boast higher survivability, while providing less damage overall. Fire is the opposite of that. Not only will Fire allow you to contribute more while in groups, it will also make your grinding/questing significantly faster since you’ll be killing mobs a lot faster than if you were single-targeting while Frost spec’d.
I’m also a believer in learning the spec you’re choosing for level 70 as early as possible. (Talents, spells, rotation, debuffs, effects, etc.) I believe until you put something into practice and test it out for yourself, it’s just theory. For example, the Fire Mage rotation is admittedly pretty basic, but in order to maximize the benefit from the rotation, you’d need perfect latency, which seems to be hit or miss with players. In this case, 9 Fireballs would be the absolute maximum during the Scorch debuff before reapplying it, and that requires perfect latency. Some players may only be able to get off 5-6 with their internet.
I see, thanks a lot for the answer! Yea, the rotation seems to be pretty “simple/straightforward” but I’m sure it isn’t.
I think I’ll give a try!
Please keep me updated as to how you find it!
Hey, I’m pretty new to WoW and currently playing a lvl 60 Mage going into TBC. I’m duoing with a friend who’s a Paladin. I got to lvl 60 and some Classic pre-raid BiS gear a while back but never got around to raiding unfortunately.
Should I go fire spec for 60-70, or would that be too mana intensive in my Classic pre-raid gear whilst levelling? I’ve read your comment about ‘learning the spec you’ll play at 70’ so I’m thinking of ditching the frost spec for fire. Cheers, and keep up the great work!
Thanks for your great question!
I am definitely a firm believer in learning not only your spec choice that you’ll be playing at level 70, but also your class in general; learning the math behind the threat you pull, your class’ limitations, etc. This mentality was born from watching Level 70 tanks (back in 2007) entering high-level dungeons and having little to no idea about their spells, abilities, and whatnot because they went from 1-70 as Retribution, for example.
If your friend happens to be Protection, you may find it more beneficial to remain as Frost. There’s a few reasons behind this:
a.) With a Protection Paladin leading the way, you are able to efficiently AoE grind in the open-world while waiting for dungeon groups, or just providing filler experience between point A and point B
b.) With a Protection Paladin, completing dungeons will often see AoE pulls because that’s what they excel at tanking. As a Frost Mage, you bring a lot of control to the group just with Improved Blizzard, allowing you to slow the mobs to a crawl, thus allowing your tank to create space between themselves and the pull to minimize damage taken
c.) With a Protection Paladin, 9 times out 10, you’ll be spamming Blizzard in their pulls since it provides more consistent overall damage than Flamestrike, Blast Wave or Dragon’s Breath. Digging into the Frost talent tree, we’ll only improve the usefulness of Blizzard and other Frost spells
If your friend happens to be Holy, you may find it more beneficial to stick with Frost while leveling. Holy Paladins won’t typically do AoE pulls like a Protection Paladin will, but as Frost, WE can do the AoE pulling and not fear dying. In terms of dungeons, that changes things…
a.) If you have a Paladin tank, the above section applies. If you have a Warrior or Druid tank, you may notice it better to be Fire since you won’t be AoEing your heart out since they lack the consistent threat-per-second abilities that Paladins have
If your friend happens to be Retribution, you may find it more beneficial to go Fire while leveling. This is mainly due to the fact that as Retribution, the Paladin won’t be looking to do AoE pulls, in or out of dungeons. With Righteous Fury active, you shouldn’t have to worry too much about peeling aggro off of the Paladin, so by choosing Fire, your damage is maximized.
Also, if you do notice your mana going down a little too quickly for your liking, remember to ask your friend for Blessing of Wisdom (Untalented, it will give you 33 Mp5 at level 60 – which grants roughly 13.2 mana per tick and if talented, Blessing of Wisdom will give you roughly 15.84 mana per tick ((Blessing of Wisdom ticks every 2 seconds)) Another thing we can ask for is the Paladin to use Judgement of Wisdom on the target we’re fighting. (This will give us the chance to restore 59 mana on every spell we cast)
Thanks so much for taking the time to reply, incredibly informative. Currently he’s playing Holy as we venture around the world questing and doing dungeons, in which case (because he’s not tanking in those dungeons) I’ll try opting for a Fire build using the lvl 60 build you set out in another comment. Always a nice change to mix it up and get to know a different spec for my class too! Thanks again, cheers!
You’re absolutely correct. It’s a great idea to mix things up and learn each spec while you’re leveling.
I grabbed the link to the build for you in case you couldn’t find it again. I’ve just noticed there’s quite a few comments to sift through to find it 🙂
Quick question: Thinking of dropping arcane focus and arcane concentration, pyroblast, dragon’s breath, and blastwave, and putting the points toward improved blizzard. right now icey veins is just too thirsty for me, and I think the improved blizzard has more use is farming and heroics. I would keep my main fire single target damage, but gain blizzard. What do you think? It’s basically the fire+icey veins, (I think a point or two from improved fire blast needs to be taken as well).
I apologize for the delay in my response, but I’ve just been trying to figure out the best build to allow for Improved Blizzard while maintaining high damage output for boss/single-target encounters.
In heroics, Improved Blizzard is one of those things that are essentially hit-or-miss, with the determining factor being your tank. For example, if you have a Paladin tank, you have a much better chance of being able to use Blizzard than if you were to have a Warrior or Druid tank. Realistically, Improved Blizzard would be utilized in anticipation of the tank losing aggro, so that whomever gains aggro has the chance of surviving until the tank can taunt the mob. However, Improved Blizzard does have an advantage in caster groups since there’ll be more AoE happening. The sad reality of pugging any groups is that in one group, you may have a tank who LOVES AoE damage and encourages you to use it whenever, while the next group’s tank will get mad at you for using it.
In terms of farming, it really depends on how you look at it. On one hand, Improved Blizzard does provide extra control, but on the other hand, without various talents under Frost, your pulls will be small anyway since you’ll be relying on using Mana Shield which can be seen as a negative since it drains your mana instead of just straight-up absorbing damage. Can Improved Blizzard help when farming? You bet. It just depends on how you orient your pulls, how much it will help.
Dropping Pyroblast and Blast Wave is fine if you want to grab Improved Blizzard, but I wouldn’t drop Dragon’s Breath. If you intend on AoEing throughout heroics, there’s a good chance that you may steal aggro, and with Dragon’s Breath, it disorients the target(s) for up to 3 seconds, unless damage is caused to it, but that will give you time to either create distance or get closer to the tank for a Taunt to regain aggro. Blast Wave does daze targets, but that really only affects melee mobs.
Here’s the build that I came up with to grab Improved Blizzard.
Thank you! I was still really on the fence with this, and this really put things into perspective. Thanks for taking the time, it’s really appreciated.
Glad I was able to help! 🙂
Hey Kurathis, got another question for you! :p
After my last comment (about which spec Frost vs. Fire for levelling to 70) I’ve hit 70 and crafted my Spellstrike gear. However, as I’m now gearing for Raid I find myself having to commit to Fire or Frost spec due to Spellfire vs. Frozen Shadoweave. What would you recommend? On most, if not all PvE Mage guides I see Fire spec recommended. However I have a slight bias towards Frost spec, maybe because it’s the spec I’ve played most by far and I’m more comfortable with.
I’ve been Fire spec for a good few hours in-game but really don’t feel like I’m very strong, especially on dungeon bosses where I’m supposed to feel it. Given I’ve not done any heroics/raids yet so maybe I’ve not really tested the single-target damage capabilities, is there something I could be doing wrong? Have I not got strong enough gear, or am I jumping the gun and judging the spec way too soon? Currently only have the spellfire belt out of the Spellfire set with a ~26% fire crit chance and ~680 fire spellpower. Another reason fire may be better is I see that Arcane may become more viable later in the expansion (especially when obtaining 2 pieces of the T5 set) where Spellfire may play a part for it’s Arcane damage too, so not having to buy both Shadoweave and Spellfire would of course be ideal.
I see Frost also doing very well on WarcraftLogs in terms of DPS which makes me want to play Frost slightly too, but comparing WarcraftLogs’ DPS to someone playing casually seems like it may not be a good representation of the specs.
Here is my current build: https://www.warcrafttavern.com/tbc/tools/talent-calculator/mage?t=B11111554444488bbafffcccggghhhimmmmmoooqqpuuuuuxC2221166777bbb9
Firstly, congratulations on reaching level 70! That is so awesome to hear!
Fire typically has the higher potential single-target damage output, while Frost has a lot more potential for care and control in any scenario.
The main catch here, though, is that if you’re more used to Frost spec, the damage output could technically be higher than what you would achieve in Fire spec. This is mainly a result of being more comfortable with Frost (knowing the spells inside and out, having a solid rotation down, etc.) So, yes, Fire has more potential damage output, but generally only after you get used to it.
Yes, Arcane does become the more optimal build later in the expansion, absolutely.
What I would recommend is if you are comfortable out the wazoo with playing Frost, stick with Frost, it sees so much benefit for groups and raids alike. If you are interested in switching to Fire or Arcane down the road, do so gradually. There’s no need to rush – if Frost is your strength, switching to Fire may actually cause you to lose DPS until Fire is your strength.
On my tank, I LOVE having Frost Mages in my group – raids and heroics alike. Personally, I’d rather have a strong Frost Mage than someone who JUST went to their trainer to unlearn their talents before accepting the summon to Karazhan (For example)
How would I recommend transitioning to Fire/Arcane if that’s your goal?
At the end of the day, Frost is definitely viable for Phase 1 without issue and if you enjoy playing it more than Fire, stick with it 🙂
Thanks so much for the informative reply as always, answered everything I needed to know.
Glad I was able to help! 🙂
After the site changed and the guide got updated I may ask again:
i never have played tbc, but I want to play it.
but from my modern perspective I don’t understand, why we waste 2 talentpoints in blastwave and dragons breath? I never go meele as mage
I’m confident that you will love TBC Classic!
It’s a great point to bring up that Mages, along with every ranged DPS class, should avoid going into melee range at all costs. While the main reason is because we don’t have to in order to deal damage, it’s also notable to remember how threat works…
While we’re within melee range, we’re allowed to exceed the tank’s threat by 110%.
While we’re outside of melee range, we’re allowed to exceed the tank’s threat by 130%.
Dragon’s Breath and Blast Wave are both usable from outside of melee range. (Not as far away as you can use Blizzard, granted, but it’s still outside melee range.)
The other thing to consider with both spells is that Ignite can proc on each and every mob the spell lands on, causing additional damage. They both also daze mobs, allowing you to potentially escape a little easier from situations where Blink is on cooldown.
The link for the first build doesn’t show 5/5 in Arcane Concentration. The corrected link is: https://www.warcrafttavern.com/tbc/tools/talent-calculator/mage?t=A00111B111114444455688abbfffcccihhhgggmmmmmpqqooouuuuuxC222A66666
Thanks! I’m not sure what happened. I’ve updated it now.
Why would you reduce frost bolt’s casting time, when you could put 2 points in frost warding, and 3 points in frostbite, I’m much more likely to use cone of cold, than frostbolt as a fire mage. What am I missing?
Frost Warding will never be utilized since if we were to use Ice Armor, we would lose 3% Critical Strike Chance and the 5% reduction in the chance for us to be critically hit.
There are only two spells that benefit from Frostbite outside of Ice Armor – Frostbolt and Cone of Cold.
In regards to AoE pulls;
1.) If we combined Cone of Cold with Frostbite, that’s actually potentially a recipe for disaster. Even using Frost Nova in pulls can lead to deaths just the same as surpassing your tank’s threat can. If a mob is frozen and the tank is out of their melee range, that mob will just attack whomever is in their melee range, even if the tank technically had aggro. This tends to happen quite frequently in raids such as Karazhan, for example.
2.) Because Cone of Cold deals less damage than Blizzard, Blast Wave, Flamestrike and Arcane Explosion, it would only be used as a means of crowd control. By the time you can go and use Cone of Cold on a pull, the tank generally has it where they want it, so Frostbite doesn’t actually benefit anyone at that point. On top of that, you’re more likely to enter melee range, which reduces your threat leniency. So, realistically speaking, you’d be wasting 3 talent points on something that doesn’t really benefit us and has a pretty low chance to actually proc anyway.
In regards to Improved Frostbolt;
1.) 99% of the time in heroics, you won’t be using AoE spells, until you are within Tier 5/6 content and the tank can handle the incoming damage without the use of Crowd Control spells/abilities. For this reason, you are much more likely to use Frostbolt than Cone of Cold in heroics.
2.) With Improved Frostbolt, the overzealous mages who just can’t wait for the tank to pull (and they do exist) have a better chance of survival since we are able to complete more casts quicker.
Hello! Quick question regarding Elemental Precision. Are you mainly choosing to take it for the mana reduction? It says it reduces chance to resist but I figured that would show in the form of Hit/SPen?
Elemental Precision is picked so that the chance of your spells being resisted (missing) is reduced. This equates to less spell hit rating needed from gearing/gemming/enchanting.
“Resist” is our equivalent to a physical DPS’s “Miss”
Why talent pyro? Im thinking im going to level through dungeons, so I would want that flame strike talent right? Maybe I can drop those 2 to put it into the flamestrike crit chance?
In groups with Warriors or Druids, a Mage using Flamestrike may cause them to get aggro. While Warriors and Druids can appear as though they have the pull under control, that may not be entirely true. In an AoE pull it is completely possible for the tank to have threat on one mob, while only having what’s considered “pull threat” on the others.
Pyroblast is phenomenal single-target damage. In most cases, this would be used mainly on bosses, rather than trash pulls. And to boot, the DoT from Pyroblast stacks with the DoT from Fireball.
Hi kurathis, is there a way to know in which order should i put the talents? I dont wanna mess up anything and im following this guide so if you can tell me if there’s a order that would be amazing 😀
I’m a fan of saying level as you wish. Choose the talents that work best for you in your gameplay. (Some players love to AoE grind, while others get boosted, and others work their up via quests, dungeons, etc.)
If you’re a fan of AoE grinding, Frost is going to be best. If you are looking to quest, do dungeons, etc., I would just recommend following the Fire tree down without focusing on the Arcane/Frost talents, since your DPS numbers don’t matter while you’re leveling up and learning your class 🙂
Hello! First, thank you for the guide(s) 🙂 You made me register and want to know more!
For leveling in TBC (I am almost certain to do dungeons to level), would fire be viable? I am thinking the CC build. What would you suggest to move from fire to get to CC in the Arcane tree? Or would you recommend a spec at 60?
To answer your first question…
If we look at Frost, we’ll see that the specialization is mainly focused around survivability, and this point is driven home by the inclusion of Ice Barrier, Summon Water Elemental that has a second Frost Nova for you, Permafrost and Improved Blizzard. If you were going to focus on AoE grinding to level from 60-70, Frost would be the better choice.
If we look at Fire, we’ll find that this specialization actually has the highest consistent damage that we can maintain without running out of mana. With Improved Scorch, Empowered Fireball and Fire Power, you’ll see an increase in damage that no other specialization will touch. Also, with Improved Scorch, any party member using Fire spells (Shamans’ totems and Hunters’ traps may benefit from this, as well)
If we look at Arcane, we’ll find that there are several great talents that we can pick up such as Presence of Mind, Arcane Power, Arcane Instability and Mind Mastery.
To answer your second and third questions…
If you like the sounds of Clearcasting (I assume that’s what you mean by CC – not Crowd Control) you can try this build at 60 and build upon it as you level. Keeping in mind that you can replace Dragon’s Breath with Blast Wave, or if you’re not doing enough AoE pulls, you can use that point in Elemental Precision to increase your spell hit rating.
You’re correct. ClearCasting = CC to me. Played a Sham for so long :P.
As for the 3 different specs, my thoughts are (as you said): Frost, I will survive more on the pulls and offer more to my group in terms of control. Fire, it’s just plain awesome damage and helping others due to Scorch. Arcane: Not my goal at this time, but great nonetheless.
As for your spec suggestions. If I do not pick Dragon’s Breath+Blast Wave. Blizzard would be the go to AOE since Flamestrike would pull aggro from AOE packs, correct?
Again, thank you!
That is an awesome question.
One of the most important things to remember in terms of threat for Mages is that Blizzard and Flamestrike’s DoT portion will never crit. What CAN crit, though, is Flamestrike’s initial damage. The other important note is that within melee range, DPS are allowed to exceed their tank’s threat by 110%. (Tank’s threat is 100, DPS can cause 110 threat before pulling aggro) Outside melee range, DPS can exceed their tank’s threat by 130%. As a Mage, you’re generally going to fall under the 130% threshold.
At Rank 6, Flamestrike has a chance of causing 375-460 damage (Assuming you have 0 spell damage and it doesn’t crit) for a maximum of 460 threat within 3 seconds.
Also at Rank 6, Blizzard causes 149 DPS. (1142 ÷ 8 seconds) 149 DPS is equivalent to 149 TPS (Threat per second)
If we look at the average Protection Paladin (Because, let’s face it, there’s going an absolute onslaught of them running around in TBC) Most have at least their Level 60 PvP gear by now, granting them a minimum of 134 spell damage just from the blue armor. The epic armor set increases this to 137. Assuming they have no other spell damage enchants or gear, let’s take a look at their potential TPS:
Consecration at Rank 5 will generate 123.03 TPS. If you stay out of melee range, this would allow you to generate 159.94 TPS before you would steal aggro. Because Flamestrike takes 3 seconds to cast, we’d multiply 123.03 x 3 for 369.09 threat. And then we’d see 369.09 x 130% = 479.82 threat which DOES allow for Flamestrike to be used. More notably, Protection Paladins will generally be using Retribution Aura and Blessing of Sanctuary which will also increase their threat generation significantly, but ONLY against physical-attacking mobs. Retribution Aura causes roughly 38 threat per hit (roughly 19 TPS) One-Handed Weapon Specialization further increases a Paladin’s damage by 5% which would increase Consecration‘s TPS by about 6.15 (129.18)
When grouping with Warrior or Druid tanks, our AoE spell of choice changes since Thunder Clap and Swipe (Both classes main AoE abilities respectively) affect random mobs in the pull and neither class can determine which mobs get hit.
In either case, using Blizzard instead of Flamestrike…
Blizzard = 149 TPS > In 3 seconds, you’ll have generated 447 threat.
Using Flamestrike might be a better idea to use first since you give the tank a 3-second headstart to build threat rather than pumping out 149 TPS immediately.
If the Warrior tank is in full Conqueror’s gear (Tier 2.5 set) and they have Improved Thunder Clap at 3/3 in the Arms talent tree, Thunder Clap can be causing 309 damage every 6 seconds which causes at least 500 threat (So, at 500 threat, we’re looking at 83.33 TPS)
Edit: Fixed a grammar error and linked One-Handed Weapon Specialization.