The most common example of an overlooked spell feature for Mages is Blink. This spell teleports you up to 20 yards forward, assuming that there’s a path for you to teleport along. That part everyone knows and understands. The part that they miss, is that Blink also removes any stun effect and any root/snare effect that you’re currently under. So if a Warrior hits you with Charge or a Paladin hits you with a Hammer of Justice or a Druid snares you with Entangling Roots, you can use Blink to not only break their stun and root effect(s), but also still get the 20 yard teleport.
Mages are also known for their various forms of crowd control. Mages can sheep you, freeze you, slow you, stun you, or they can even dead you. That’s right, they can dead you. In the face, even. Some of these are pretty self explanatory, and some have little tricks you might not be aware of.
First up is Polymorph, often referred to “poly” or “sheeping”. This spell turns your target into a harmless sheep for its duration. If you’re used to using this in PvE you probably already know how this works and that any damage dealt to the target will break your sheep effect. What you might not be quite so familiar with is that the target regenerates health and mana LIKE CRAZY while they’re a sheep. Sheeping someone is good because it removes them from participating in combat, but be aware that you’re basically giving them free heals when you do it. Sometimes the best option you have is to sheep someone that’s low on health, and that’s fine. You just need to be aware of that regeneration. Also, you can only sheep one target at a time, though sometimes the slowing effect of sheeping people one right after the other is enough to capture a flag.
The Freeze effects that we have access to at this level simply stop movement, they do nothing to prevent the opponent from attacking or casting spells. However, one thing to note is that with the Gnome Clones being Alliance, that means our opponents are Horde and the only option Horde has to remove a Freeze effect is to pop their PvP trinket which has a 5 minute cooldown, or to wait out the 8/4/2 seconds for the effect to wear off. Your team can break them out early by dealing damage to them, and it will happen all the time, but the point is that there’s very little that they can do to stop it or get out of it (Resto Druids being the exception as they can shift to break roots/snares).
People often overlook the usefulness of Slows for some reason, and I couldn’t really tell you why. Your primary slow is Frostbolt, which all Mages have access to (at least until MoP is released). If you’re not a Frost Mage then Cone of Cold is also a Slow effect, where Frost has the option of spending talent points to change it into a Freeze. I’m sure you’re all aware of what a Slow effect is, but what you might not know is just how much difference you can make by spamming Frostbolt casts across the entire enemy team can be. I lost count of how many flags we’ve captured solely because of well timed slow effects. Don’t ignore the usefulness of Frostbolt simply because you’re not a Frost Mage.
/cast !Arcane Missiles
The first macro introduces something new which is the /stopcasting line. This line of code immediately cancels whatever you’re currently casting as though you had hit the escape key. It follows that by casting Counterspell. The significance of this macro is that often times your opponent will cast a spell in the middle of you casting your own spell, and you need to counter it but you can’t since you’re in the middle of your own cast. With this macro you can cast your interrupt regardless of whatever else you happen to be doing because it will cancel your action and force the counterspell through. You do need to realize that by using this macro you are potentially nerfing your own DPS or maybe some potentially vital CC spells if you constantly have to cancel your casts in order to counter a spell, but that’s the price you pay for good PvP (and PvE). To put it into perspective, by cancelling a Flash Heal you’re basically doing anywhere from 600-1400 damage with Counterspell by preventing that heal from happening in the first place.
The second option introduces something new, /cast !Arcane Missiles, which is the exclamation mark (!) in front of the spell name. This is something you use on spells that are either channeled or that require you to select the target area of the spell. In the case of a spell that has a target area, like Frost’s pet’s Freeze spell (see the Frost Mage section below), activating a macro without this mark two times in a row basically cancels the action of casting it, so pressing once activates the spell waiting for you to select the target area, and pressing it twice cancels the cast because you didn’t actually select the area. When you do have this mark in front of the spell name no matter how many times you press this macro that target area icon isn’t going to go away until you either cancel the cast (escape key, right-clicking, or casting another spell) or you select the target area for the cast to take place.
In the case of channeled spells, like Arcane Missiles, the exclamation mark prevents recasting or cancelling the channeled cast. By having the mark there you can spam the macro and it will cast the spell once and fire it off as though you has only activated it one time, but without that mark activating it a second time will cancel the current spell mid-channel and attempt to cast it again. Without the mark in front, best case scenario is you lose mana by recasting early, worst case is you cancel your spell which wastes both the mana you used on it as well as the proc and its related damage.
Arcane’s signature spell is Arcane Barrage, which is an instant cast nuke that’s…well, it’s freaking amazing is what it is. However, as just another attack spell it doesn’t warrant a special macro of its own beyond the typical default offensive macro that I introduced in the Macro Primer.
Arcane Mages are known for their high burst damage and their ability to deal damage while staying mobile, making them one of the deadliest kiters in the bracket. In this bracket, Arcane has the highest burst potential of all three Mage specs, and wrestle with Retribution Paladins for the second highest burst class in the entire bracket (behind hunters).
In the General Mage section up above you’ll find a Counterspell macro. This one is especially important to Arcane Mages because of the Improved Counterspell talent which silences the target for 4 seconds when you counterspell them. It’s especially important to be familiar with casting Counterspell with this talent because the silence is applied even if it doesn’t actually counter a spell, meaning you can silence opponents before they even get a chance to try casting. Of the four types of healers, Priests and Paladins are your primary targets for this. Of the offensive casters, Mages and Shamans are the top priority. Every other class that has an interrupt that prevents casting requires that they actually counter a spell with their interrupt.
If you’ve gone with a spec that uses the Invocation talent (bonus damage after interrupting spells) then you definitely want to consider using that Counterspell macro I have in the general section up above. Make frequent use of Counterspell, particularly to stop healers, but any caster will do. Druids, Shamans, and Paladins who aren’t even using healing specs are good targets for Counterspell too since they all cast spells even as their melee specs (Prot/Ret Paladins included).
A trap that a lot of Arcane Mages fall into these days is Arcane Missiles. The spell does good damage and you’ll have AM procs all the time as Arcane, but don’t feel like you have to stop and cast them, and when you do stop to cast don’t feel like you have to stand still for their entire cast time. Mobility and burst damage are the key to this spec at level 24 and AM contradicts that. If you don’t have any melee opponents trying to eat your face then by all means fire off those missiles every time they proc, but if you are being assaulted by melee you’re better off either not casting AM at all, or casting it only long enough to get whatever missiles you feel comfortable with before moving again. If you only get one or two sets of missiles out of an AM cast, then so be it. If all else fails, you’re a fantastic kiting machine and you can an run around the whole field with them chasing you while you cast Arcane Barrage and Fire Blast every time they come off of cooldown until they’re dead.
Fire’s signature spell is Pyroblast, which has a very long cast time that unfortunately you can’t do anything about in this bracket, but as a typical DPS spell it doesn’t warrant any special macros of its own beyond the typical default offensive macro that I introduced in the Macro Primer.
Fire Mages are unique in that they have the option of bringing three new attributes to the class through their second tier talents. The first is Ignite which makes your Fire crits add a DoT effect that deals up to 40% of the total damage as additional DoT damage to the target. DoT’s are especially good on places like AB since their damage will keep opponents from capturing or recapturing flags. The second is Blazing Speed which gives you a 10% chance when hit by a melee/ranged attack to increase your speed by 100% for 8 seconds and dispel any movement impairing effects. Third is the Impact talent which gives your damaging spells a 10% chance to reset your Fire Blast cooldown and modifies Fire Blast to also stun the target for 2 seconds.
How beneficial each of these new abilities can be depends entirely on the situation you’re in at any given time and which battleground you find yourself in most often, making it hard to judge which talent build is actually the best.
Remember that just because you’re a Fire Mage doesn’t mean you should ignore your Arcane and Frost spells. Especially Frost’s crowd control spells like Frost Nova and even Frostbolt. Fireball has a long cast time, Pyroblast even longer, but a good way to make up the difference is to take advantage of Frostbolt’s faster cast time to slow your opponents before opening up with the Fire spells for higher damage. If your opponents are getting close to you, root them with Frost Nova, run away to get a little distance, Frostbolt to slow them, and then start casting your Fireballs.
It’s easy for Fire Mages to get tunnel vision and feel like they need to stand there and nuke the crap out of everything with a red bar over its head. While that can be a good thing, don’t get locked into doing only that or you might miss opportunities where your other spells could be more valuable. Remember, it doesn’t matter how much damage you deal or how many kills you get, it’s all about which team works together the best and which team has the most points at the end of the game. We’re clones, we work together or we don’t work at all.
The signature spell of the Frost tree is Summon Water Elemental. While the summoning of this elemental pet itself doesn’t require a macro, Squirtle (as I like to call him) does have a very unique ability that is worthy of a macro.
/cast Freeze – OR – /cast !Freeze
The Water Elemental’s Freeze spell works exactly like Frost Nova does, except that it targets a specific area rather than being centered on the caster. Basically it’s a ranged version of Frost Nova that you can target wherever you need it. (Hint: Flag carriers and/or their healers as well as people chasing your flag carrier are prime targets for this.)
Each of these three macros is used to activate Squirtle’s Freeze ability in a different way. The first macro works like most of our other macros, we’re just casting Freeze and clearing error messages. This is the version of the macro that I personally use because I like to have complete control over when and if I decide to use the Freeze ability and I don’t like having accidents happen.
The second macro works exactly like the first, except that it allows for spamming if you happen to be a button mashing fiend, but otherwise it functions exactly like the version above it.
The third macro combines the pet’s Freeze spell with your own Frostbolt cast. Since the pet is a separate entity, his spell cast isn’t associated with your own as far as the global cooldown (GCD) is concerned, so you can cast both your spell and his/hers at the same time. Frost gets a lot of extra benefits (damage and crit chance) from casting spells on targets that are frozen, which is why Freeze is such a fantastic spell.
If you’re not familiar with what the exclamation mark (!) in front of the spell names does, refer to the General section near the top of this article.
Frost Mages have a lot of really great talent choices in their first two tiers. In fact, almost every one of them is worth taking and has at least some amount of usefulness in low level PvP. The weakest one of the bunch is Permafrost which heals your pet as you deal damage and also improves the strength of your slowing effects – but even that’s good for PvP.
Frost can be played basically three ways: heavy control, heavy burst, or a combination of the two. If you’re going to focus on burst damage, then you want to make ample use of your pet’s Freeze spell as well as your own freezing effects (Frost Nova and possible Cone of Cold if you spec for it). Freeze your opponents as much as possible and unless as many Frostbolts as you can while they’re unable to move. If you’re into control then you want to save your freezing and slowing effects for when you can really make them count. The balanced build follows the philosophy of “kill when you can, control when you can’t”.