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Arcane Brilliance: Professions for Mages, part 2



Each week Arcane Brilliance, a column about Mages, levels up. It gains 3 intellect, 2 stamina, 2 spirit, and 1 talent point. In case you were wondering, Arcane Brilliance has been leveling up every week for the past four years. That's right: Arcane Brilliance is level 208. What has Arcane Brilliance been doing with all of those talent points, you ask? Arcane Brilliance is specced 63/75/60. And yes, Arcane Brilliance still gets pwned by Lichborne in the 201-210 pvp bracket.


Last week, we took our Mages job-hunting. We looked into Tailoring and Jewelcrafting, and explored the three gathering professions. This week, our job search takes us into slightly more magical territory, as we look at the potential benefits of Enchanting, Alchemy, and Inscription. All of these professions are similar, in that they begin with vowels.

Enchanting

This profession has always been a popular choice with Mages. Not only is it an inherently magical profession, fitting the whole wizardly aesthetic to a tee, but it has no associated gathering profession, meaning it makes for a nice, convenient pairing with Tailoring, the other traditional Mage profession choice. This profession is undergoing a number of changes in patch 3.1, one of which is of particular interest to our class.
  • Leveling
Enchanting is something of a two-edged sword for the leveling Mage. On the one hand, it is quite beneficial: offering the immeasurable convenience of being able to enchant your own gear as you improve it, without having to ask someone else to help you. Those extra stats make a more noticeable impact at lower levels, and can greatly aid your Mage as he wends his frail way through the wilds of Azeroth. You also gain easy access to a number of crafted wands, which are almost always more powerful when they become available than any of their quest-reward counterparts at the same level.

On the other hand, Enchanting is quite possibly the most expensive profession in the game to level. Disenchanting consumes valuable green, blue, and purple-quality items to produce mats, meaning that instead of being able to sell those items when you get them as drops and rewards, you must now disenchant them to keep the profession up to speed. Unless you have a high-level main feeding money to your little enchanter, you will find this profession a costly one.
  • End-game
For a min-maxing Mage, Enchanting's claim to fame is its ring-enchants. The most Mage-appropriate of these is the one that grants 19 spellpower. It can, of course, be used on both of your Mage's rings, giving you a total of 38 bonus spellpower.

Two new staff enchants are being added to the shard vendor in Dalaran when patch 3.1 hits. Hopefully, these will help to bring staves back to prominence, after having been eclipsed handily by the merits of a good 1-hand/off-hand combo so far in this expansion. The first of these grants 69 spellpower to staves, and the last gives 81 spellpower. So if you prefer your Mage to wield a nice, wizardly, bat-winged staff as opposed to a big ugly sword and some kind of crazy eyeball-looking thing, good news!

Alchemy

Alchemy is rather unique in that it is a perfectly respectable profession choice for absolutely anybody. Warrior? It'll work for you. Druid? It'll work for you. Rogue on a roleplaying server who insists upon running around wearing cloth and pretending you're a Bard or something? It'll work for you, too. Warlock? Die in a fire.

Everybody benefits from potions, and everybody loves flasks and elixirs, and there are potions and flasks and elixirs that are highly valuable to every class and every spec in the game. Being able to make your own--coupled with the unique bonuses Alchemists gain from them--makes this an incredibly versatile profession.
  • Leveling
If you've never leveled a character with Alchemy before, it's difficult to appreciate how useful it is, even at its earliest stages. Being able to keep yourself perma-buffed with level-appropriate potions and elixirs gives you a significant advantage, and being able to freely share said potions and elixirs with others will make you popular in groups. Having a ready supply of healing and mana potions at hand reduces downtime, and often helps stave off the inconvenience of dying. The Philosopher's Stone makes for an unparalleled early trinket option, and the late-level Alchemy-only trinkets will help make that final push to 80 that much easier, and even serve you into the end-game content.

MIxology becomes available once your Alchemy hits 50, and will serve you well throughout the rest of the game. The percentage of the increase depends on the flask or elixir you happen to be using, but is always significant, and only applies to those recipes you can make for yourself.
  • End-Game
There are a few solid benefits to being an Alchemist at end-game for Mages.
  1. Mixology elevates the effect of your Flask of the Frost Wyrm to 162 spellpower, an increase of 37. That's nice.
  2. The Crazy Alchemist's Potion is a fun bonus. It's an excellent and far cheaper alternative to Runic Mana Potions, providing the same amount of mana return, plus a substantial amount of health and a "random" additional effect. This effect can be anything from haste to crit to more mana or health, and can often result in a temporary but substantial DPS increase.
  3. Double duration for elixirs and flasks, thanks to MIxology.
The problem with Alchemy comes when you try to min-max with it. Although its benefits are substantial, the only one that results in consistent, quantifiable DPS is the 37 spellpower given by the MIxology/Flask of the Frost Wyrm combo. And that simply doesn't compare very favorably with professions like Jewelcrafting, which results in a much larger direct boost to DPS. Still, taken as a whole, Alchemy is a rock solid profession for Mages, and your guild will love you and your wonderful bottles of magical awesomeness.

Inscription

When this profession debuted, it changes the game forever. Glyphs are yet another thing every class needs and benefits from, and offer a way to customize your character that significantly affects gameplay.
  • Leveling
When you choose this profession as a Mage, your choice will allow you the convenience of making your own glyphs. This isn't quite as useful as it may sound, since many of the most useful glyphs aren't available until late in the profession, but can be used far earlier. Even with the profession, you may find yourself buying higher-level glyphs simply because you can't yet make the one that would help your spec the most.

The off-hand frill items this profession makes are quite nice. The lowest level one, the Mystic Tome, is really attractive at the level, and the rest follow suit, all the way to the highest levels.
  • End-game
The single best bonus Mages get for being a max-level scribe is the shoulder enchant. Outside of Inscription, the best shoulder enchant in the game requires grinding your way to exalted reputation with the Sons of Hodir, and offers 24 spellpower and 15 crit rating. The one scribes can fashion for themselves requires one Snowfall Ink, a full 4 seconds of casting time, and exalted reputation with your mom. It grants 61 spellpower and 15 crit. The 37 spellpower increase puts this profession on par with Alchemy from a min-maxer's perspective. The sad fact is that for Mages, there are simply better choices out there.

If any profession needs a buff, I feel it is Inscription, and yet nothing substantial is coming for it in 3.1. I fear that once dual-specs are ushered in and everyone nails down their preferred specs and glyph setups, this profession will enter a slump of remarkable proportions. Something needs to be done, and here's hoping it happens soon.

Edit:

Apparently I didn't make it clear, but there most definitely will be a part 3 of this multi-part Mage-professions extravaganza. Next week's Arcane Brilliance will explore the pros and cons of Leatherworking, Blacksmithing, Engineering, as well as touching on the holy trinity of Cooking, Fishing, and First Aid. Now if only I could find a picture of Fullmetal Blacksmith to go with the column...


Every week Arcane Brilliance teleports you inside the wonderful world of Mages and then hurls a Fireball in your face. Check out our recent guide to gearing your Mage for Naxxramas, or our look at a few ideas for dual speccing your Mage. Until next week, keep the Mage-train a-rollin'.

Filed under: Mage, (Mage) Arcane Brilliance, Classes, Guides, Leveling, Raiding, Features, Analysis / Opinion, Enchanting, Alchemy, Inscription

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