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Arcane Brilliance: Lowbie instances and the upwardly mobile Mage

Each week Arcane Brilliance endeavors to deliver a brief glimpse into the flame and sheep-filled (and sometimes flaming sheep-filled) world of Mages. Today we focus on the younger students of sorcery, those of us still growing into our robes and pointy-hats, because we here at Arcane Brilliance hold firmly to the motto that even the tiniest ball of flame is important, and still a freaking ball of flame.

So for some reason, be it temporary insanity, an unhealthy obsession with dresses, or just an irrepressible urge to be completely awesome, you've rolled Mage.

You've fried a few raptors, frozen a couple of furbolgs, completed a few quests, and probably died horribly at the hands of a Rogue or two, or maybe after stubbing your toe on a rock, I don't know, Mages don't get a lot of hit points. You're ready to step beyond the first zone and out into the wide world beyond. You hike up your robes so you don't trip over them and cross the bridge into The Barrens, where you discover that there are a lot of other people doing quests, and killing raptors, and asking inane questions like "where i find mankrik wife?" and "wat is stolen silver at?" and "Who would win if Chuck Norris fought Santa?"

Frankly, I think the answer to that last one is "nobody." If those two fight, we all lose.

After some low-grade emotional scarring your psyche will never truly recover from, you'll learn to tune most of it out. Once your mind learns to filter the madness that flows through that chat channel, you'll see that certain questions are not inane, and may actually be important. Most of these will be variations of the same thing: "Looking for group, Wailing Caverns."

Following some brief negotiation, you may find your new Mage in a party of five, deep within an instanced dungeon, losing loot rolls to a Warlock. You will level at high speeds, and find gear in a hue that is decidedly bluer than you may be used to.

After the jump: I'll spotlight two low level instances that are perfect for Mages, the best caster loot that drops therein, and the bosses you need to hunt down to get it.

Wailing Caverns

This instance will be the first stop for most Horde-side Mages, as by the time most players realize what instances are, they're too high level for any of the loot in Ragefire Chasm. It's not too awfully difficult, and the Barrens are always full of willing party-members. Mages can find some nice gear in this dungeon. Also, there's a giant walking tree in there. It attacks you. What are you waiting for? Go set fire to it.

Serpent Gloves

These are pretty sweet. The intellect is nice for the level, but the real attraction is the spell damage, which at this stage of the game is fantastic. These drop from Lord Serpentis, one of the crazy night-elf druid-guys in this place, at a 22% rate. It may take a few runs to get him to cough them up, but these are worth it. Incidentally, if twinking is your thing, there aren't many better glove options for a twink Mage than these.

Firebelcher

This beauty drops from a rare spawn, so you'll have to either be very lucky or make several trips into the instance to have a shot at it. Why bother, you may ask? Because at level 15 there is simply no better wand out there. In fact, for some time the DPS on this baby will trump most wands you'll come across. There's a world drop that's better at 16, and a trip to the Deadmines might net you Cookie's Stirring Wand at 17, if you can survive the Deadmines at that point, but Horde-side, this is the pinnacle of wandness until almost level 30. If you can get the Deviate Faerie Dragon to appear in his spot near the Winding Chasm area of the instance, and you can get this to drop, well congratulations, young Mage. The Deviate Faerie Dragon appears approximately once in every 10 WC runs, and this beauty drops from it almost every other time you kill it.

Robe of the Moccasin

This drops 55% of the time from the Fanglord, Lord Cobrahn, and is one of the nicest early caster robes around. It has good spirit and stamina, along with a healthy amount of spell damage. Plus, these look spiffy. If you're going to wear a dress, it might as well be a good-looking one, right?

Living Root

This was my first blue when I started playing WoW, and it still holds a special place in my heart. It looks neat and is packed with spirit, spell damage and stamina. Verdan the Everliving gives this up about a third of the time, and you may have to fight off a couple Priest or Warlock loot rolls for it, but it's worth the trouble.

Slime-encrusted Pads

You have to kill a giant murloc to get these. I can't stress that enough. I mean, this murloc is big. They only drop a fourth of the time from him. They give mana regen. That's it. Oh, and armor, but as a Mage you might as well be naked anyway. So why get them? You get to kill a giant murlock! And they look pretty cool. Also, mana regen may not be sexy at low levels, but it's better than nothing. Which is probably what you have on your shoulders at this point: nothing. Or crap. You might have crap on there too.

Shadowfang Keep

The next must-visit stop on a Mage's instance list, SFK is caster-heaven. It shouldn't be too hard to find a group for this one; it's close to the horde flight path and after patch 2.3 the gear is fantastic for the level. Plus the instance itself is fairly straightforward, with a little bit of something for everybody. Just watch out for Arugal, he's a right jerk.

Bloody Apron

The stamina is sort of nice at this low level for survivability, but seriously, its lack of other stats make this the drop you offer to the Warlock so later on you can get him to let you have the Robes of Arugal. It drops off of Razorclaw the Butcher a little under half of the time.

Feline Mantle

You want this. At this level and for some time after you simply can't beat the stats on a shoulder-slot item. It has a drop rate of over 50% from Wolfmaster Nandos, so it's not too difficult to obtain.

Belt of Arugal

As you may be able to tell from the name, this comes from Archmage Arugal, the patron saint of level 20ish casters everywhere. He's a pain to kill, but his gear makes it worth your while. Interestingly, it has exactly the same main stats as the Feline Mantle...something fishy there. Anyway, hope for the robe, but if this drops snatch it up. You'll see it a third of the time.

Odo's Ley Staff

Not bad, but could be much better. At this level, it'd probably outstrip most of what you might already have, (unless you have that sweet staff from the Ghostlands quests), but it isn't ideal. Again, this might be better used as a goodwill offering to the lock or the priest so you can steal something better on the next run. It drops from Odo the Blindwatcher at a rate of 36%.

Robes of Arugal

Ah, now here's the reason SFK is so castertastic. After patch 2.3 the level requirement was lowered on this from 24 to 20, so you can almost equip the thing before you can kill the boss it drops from. During your twenties, +12 spell damage is downright phenomenal. It drops 34% of the time, so it may take a couple of runs to get, but it is well worth the investment. As a bonus, it just looks...magey. Seriously, I love the way this robe looks. Arugal is a pimp.

In future installments of this column, we'll explore the next batch of places for Mages to pick up sweet gear as they level. Scarlet Monastery Library, anyone? In the meantime, grab a group of like-minded lowbies and start downing bosses. Keep your threat down, stop casting when the mob comes after you so the tank can grab aggro back, and have fun!

Arcane Brilliance will be back next week with a look at the Mage/Warlock rivalry, and the changes Blizzard has been hinting at for Mages. I promise to be fair and balanced about how much I hate Warlocks.

Filed under: Mage, Priest, Warlock, Items, Instances, Leveling, Classes, Alts, (Mage) Arcane Brilliance

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