It's time once again for Arcane Brilliance, the weekly mage column that would like to thank its readers profusely for the deluge of screenshots it received last week. Arcane Brilliance sent out the call, and you guys responded in droves. There were so many, in fact, that it was an impossible task to select just one for the column. Arcane Brilliance finally went with this one, apparently of an undead pimp of some type, simply because it made Arcane Brilliance chuckle. Also, the column this week is about leveling through Outland, and this is a pretty good representation of how your mage will look throughout that leg of the journey: like the mutant love-child of the entire cast of Saved by the Bell.
Seriously... you guys are awesome. Sooooooo many good pictures to use. I may have to start writing like 12 of these a week, just to have an excuse to use all of them. Thanks again, and keep them coming. Even if I don't get to use them, I just enjoy browsing through them. So many mages, so little time.
Last week, our mage leveling guide hit level 58 and fled vanilla WoW for the alien landscapes of Outland. This week, we'll tackle the 10 levels your mage will be spending there, amongst the hellboars, sporebats, and ravagers.
I'm assuming for the purposes of this guide that you've taken the advice given in last week's installment and high-tailed it for Hellfire Peninsula the moment you dinged level 58. This is not to say that you can't have a great deal of fun spending a few more levels in the lore-rich end-zones of the old world--in fact It's entirely possible to stay in Azeroth well into the early sixties. This option is undoubtedly attractive to completionists, as you can see everything vanilla WoW has to offer and gain a few more levels before moving on to the first expansion content. But for the sake of efficiency, moving on to Outland at the first opportunity is simply the way to go.
As you explore Hellfire Peninsula, you'll find that the mobs take longer to kill, but grant far more experience and drop far better loot than their old-world counterparts at the same level. You'll also discover that the questing is so much better organized it's ridiculous. Travel time is reduced, you'll be doing several quests at once in the same area, and you'll often find additional quest-givers hanging out in the areas you're questing in, just itching to give you more experience points, loot, and gold for doing what you were already going to be doing anyway. Plus, the quests all reward you with a whole lot more experience points than any quests in the old world will. When talking about leveling, it's difficult to advise anything other than heading to Outland as soon as humanly possible.
Unless you've done some crazy vanilla WoW raiding before you come here, you'll find that absolutely every cloth quest reward is a massive upgrade over whatever you were wearing before in that slot. For instance, here's a reward from one of the very first quests you're handed upon entering Hellfire: The Staff of Twin Worlds. Now compare it to a staff rewarded from an Eastern Plaguelands quest of similar level: Sarah's Guide. That's not even in the same ballpark, right?
So spend your first two levels in Outland questing, upgrading as much of your equipment as possible, and gradually morphing into the confused mage/pimp/Hannah Montana back-up dancer featured in Andre's screenshot. Because while this loot has awesome stats, it also tends to look like a steaming puddle of vomit. I'm not saying, I'm just saying.
New spells: Teleport: Shattrath
Ah, level 60. The original level-cap. You're going to want to do several things at this point:
- Whatever you're doing, drop it and head back to Thrallmar/Honor Hold. Look for the flight trainer stationed there. Purchase Expert Riding. Then purchase a flying mount in a color that matches your clown outfit. (Or don't. Chances are that color would be hideous.) With faction discounts (Stormwind rep for Alliance, Orgrimmar for Horde), this should cost you a total of around 250g. Without any discounts applied, it costs 300g for both mount and training. If you do not have the money, continue questing in Hellfire until you do (it really shouldn't take long), or hit the auction house hard. Trust me, it's so worth it it isn't even a debate.
- Head to Shattrath. Shattrath is the neutral capital city of Outland, and it's located just south of Hellfire, in a zone called Terokkar Forest. Just look for the giant city with a beam of light shining up out of it for no good reason. Locate the portal trainer stationed in the center of the city, and purchase the ability to teleport to Shattrath. This isn't as vital for mages as it is for other classes, since we can teleport to the major cites at will anyway, but Shatt is still the hub of choice for the entirety of your stay in Outland, and you'll want to be able to port there as soon as you can. It's worth the detour.
- Head back to Azshara. In fact, we're going to devote an entire section to this one:
Why? Because our old friend Archmage Xylem has another quest chain for you. It isn't hard, and the reward is your first alternative polymorph spell, Polymorph: Pig. There are several ways to polymorph besides sheep, but this is by far the easiest to obtain (unless you count the minor glyph that exchanges your default sheep for a penguin). The others are:
A very rare drop from a hard-to-summon boss in a level 60 raid zone nobody but achievement hunters visits anymore. You'll occasionally see the book that teaches this spell in the auction house, but the cost is usually prohibitive for level 60 mages. Very cool spell, though.
Yeah, this one you can buy in Dalaran (the capital of Northrend) for the paltry sum of 2500 gold. Not feasible until you've got way too much money for your own good.
Purchasable during the Noblegarden world event, which only takes place once a year around Easter.
This isn't in the game yet, but Pilgrim's Bounty is literally around the corner. My guess is that you're thinking the same thing I am: "Warlocks would taste great cooked at 350 degrees for five hours, glazed with honey, served with cranberry sauce and with a load of stuffing shoved up their butts. Oh...and we might get to purchase this spell this weekend." See? Great minds think alike.
51 Point Talents:
Level 60 also brings you access to the 51 talents in your tree of choice.
Fire gets Living Bomb, which is a very powerful, mana-intensive, instant-cast, damage-over-time spell that explodes after the timer runs out. It's a fantastic DPS spell, and deserves a spot in your rotation, especially in instances. Its usefulness while playing solo isn't as high only because you should be killing things too quickly to really enjoy the spell's full benefit.
Frost gets Deep Freeze, which is a stun that only works on frozen targets. It's a killer in PvP, and helpful for control purposes when questing. This spell is getting a major PvE buff in patch 3.3, adding a powerful, Pyroblast-esque damage component against enemies that are permanently immune to stuns, which pretty much means instance bosses.
Arcane, though... hooo boy. I'll just link the tooltip. Arcane Barrage. If you're a leveling mage and that didn't make you crap yourself in delight, you have sturdier bowels than me, my friend. Instant cast, low mana, high damage, 3-second cooldown, sparkly animation. This spell single-handedly makes the Arcane spec awesome from this point on. It loses a lot of its usefulness in end-game raiding, but for solo play, it's flat-out awesome.
Though there are no real milestones at this level, and no new spells, I'm still giving it its own section. You see, I went through almost all of Outland before I realized one simple difference between leveling pre and post-60: you can generally train new spells every level instead of every other. For instance, at level 61 here, you can learn rank 8 Fire Blast. neat, right?
Since you're a mage, you have the luxury of setting your hearthstone to whatever quest hub you're currently burning through, and every time you ding you can port to the mage trainer to see what's new, then hearth back without so much as a hiccup in your progress. It's good to be a mage, yes?
New spell: Molten Armor
This immediately becomes your armor of choice for DPS, and makes spirit jump a couple rungs on the useful stat ladder. It increases your crit rating by 35% of your total spirit and does fire damage to enemies whenever you're struck, meaning you'll be doing significantly more damage all around with it on, and it scales very well as you level.
While we're at this level, let's talk briefly about zone progression in Outland. With the sped-up leveling curve that's been applied to everything prior to Northrend, you no longer have any need to visit every zone in Outland. In fact, you may very well find yourself hitting level 64 or even 65 before leaving Hellfire Peninsula. I recently leveled a rogue through the Burning Crusade content, and found that I reached level 68 quite easily by questing out the entirety of Hellfire, making a run through Ramparts and Blood Furnace, losing two Alterac Valleys, and then immediately heading to Nagrand at level 65 and questing through the majority of that zone.
Now, that rogue had the experience bonuses of Heirloom items, but I think the point is still valid. You can absolutely skip the majority of Outland if you so choose. There's certainly a lot to see and do in Outland, and if this is your first character, I'd wholeheartedly support the idea of taking your time here. The bottom line is that your zone progression on this leg of the journey depends largely upon personal preference. Go to the places that appeal to you, and run the instances for which you see people looking for DPS in the chat channels. Have an irrational fear of giant fungus? Skip Zangarmarsh and head straight for Terokkar. Can't stand pretty scenery and incredible quest rewards? Jump right past Nagrand and move on to Blade's Edge Mountains.
Here's the general order of things:
Hellfire Peninsula: 58-63
Terokkar Forest: 62-65
Blade's Edge Mountains: 65-68
Shadowmoon Valley: 67-70
As you can see, there's a lot of overlap there. In general, nobody will ever need to spend any time at all in Netherstorm or Shadowmoon if they don't want to, since by the time you reach either of those zones, the experience gain and loot available in Northrend is far more worthwhile. The rest is up to you.
New spell: Arcane Blast
Arcane Blast changes the way an Arcane mage plays, forever. Seriously.
This spell now becomes the backbone of your rotation, because of its stacking damage increase debuff and high damage. I'll never figure out why this spell isn't offered at lower levels. Really, Blizzard? Arcane mages have to wait until level 64 to get their primary nuke? This is really the equivalent of making Fire mages get by with Flamestrike and Fire Blast until level 64 and then finally handing them Fireball.
You'll want to start just about every encounter with Arcane Blast, followed with another Arcane Blast. Most normal mobs will be close enough to dead now that you can polish them off with a buffed-up Arcane Barrage, or an Arcane Missiles if Missile Barrage has procced. Once you get this spell, you'll wonder how you ever played Arcane without it.
New spell: Portal: Shattrath
Alright, even if you don't plan to level in Nagrand (and I have no idea why you wouldn't want to, it may be the single most well-designed zone in the game, in my opinion), you should head there now and find a group for a single quest-line: the Ring of Blood.
This is a series of 5-man boss-fights that will take a decent group a short time to complete and reward you with the better part of a full level's worth of experience, a bunch of potions, a fat stack of gold, and a very nice blue-quality staff that you probably won't replace until you hit Northrend. There's almost always a lot of folks looking for this questline, and it's one of the single most efficient uses of your time while leveling that you'll ever find.
You can also return to Shatt here and pick up your second-to-last portal spell.
New spell: Ice Lance
Frost mages get a fun spell here. Ice Lance is instant-cast and very low-damage. The fun part of the tooltip, though, is that last line: "Causes triple damage against frozen targets." Though it isn't as useful as it should be at end-game, while leveling this spell is simply a blast. Insert it into Shatter combos, spam it while kiting, use it in PvP to stomp totems or waste a warrior's spell reflect... lots of fun.
And just like that, you're done with Outland. Went quick, didn't it? If you have a burning desire to stick around here, feel free. There's a lot of fun to be had, both gameplay-wise and lore-wise, in Netherstorm and Shadowmoon Valley. Once you hit level 70, you can even go spend a bit of time over on the endlessly gorgeous Isle of Quel'Danas, doing daily quests and killing Kael'thas a few times. But as with the leap to Outland at level 58, it is now far more efficient to head directly to Northrend. Do not pass go, do not collect 200g.
The mobs there grant more experience points, the quests reward far better loot, and the soundtrack is purty. Head for Stormwind Harbor or
Edit: Yeah, the other Alliance boat to Northrend is totally in Menethil harbor, and I'm a moron.
And here is where we'll adjourn for this week, fellow mages. Next week we'll hit the icy shores of Northrend, and set our sights on the Lich King himself.
Every week Arcane Brilliance teleports you inside the wonderful world of mages and then hurls a Fireball in your face. Check out our recent two-part look at what Cataclysm will mean to Mages, or our ongoing series of mage leveling guides. Until next week, keep the Mage-train a-rollin'.