For the manga, see World of Warcraft: Mage.
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The mage is a DPS caster that specializes in burst damage and area of effect spells. Their primary role in a group at lower levels is damage dealing and crowd control through the use of Polymorph, temporarily changing humanoids and beasts into harmless critters. At end-game levels, mages' damage is supplemented with Counterspell, Remove Curse, and Spellsteal. Mages' utility spells also include conjuring food and drink and the ability to teleport to major cities and open portals for party members. In PvP, Mage deals ranged damage while using snare effects and Polymorph to control enemy players. As damage casters, primary stats are spell power, spell hit rating and spell haste. intellect, stamina, spell crit, and spirit also benefit mages, but to a lesser degree.


Mages, the most common of arcanists, are found all over Azeroth. They focus on magic that creates and that changes things, most often with the purpose of damaging their enemies and boosting the power of their allies.[1] Such beings can obtain a familiar, which is a normal animal that gains new powers and becomes a magical beast when summoned to service by a mage,[1] while others choose to become focused mages.[2] Mages also understand the workings of arcane energy so well that they can counter most magic with great effectiveness. An adept mage who has dedication to and natural predilection for one of the schools of specialization becomes more entrenched. At this point the mage chooses either evocation or transmutation as a preferred school, and casts spells from his chosen school. The mages of the Kirin Tor first mastered the arts of casting spells using the elements of ice and fire. Mages are also known for being able to summon elementals, usually water elementals, but can also summon air, earth and fire elementals as well.[3] The greatest mortal mage ever to live is the Naga Queen Azshara, who still lives. In fact, she may no longer be mortal.[4]

The first known mages on Azeroth were elves, before the breaking of the Well of Eternity and the Exile of the High Elves, who lived on the shores of the Well of Eternity and wielded its powers.



An elderly mage from the Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness manual.

Early kaldorei civilization was defined by direct manipulation of magic drawn from the Well of Eternity to create and sustain their society. The constant use of the well attracted attention from Sargeras and the Burning Legion, and their coming resulted in a massive war known as the War of the Ancients. The war had grave consequences, for even though the combined might of Azeroth's mortal races were victorious, the continent of Kalimdor was shattered, and a swirling, raging miasma of sea storms flowed into the vacant area where the Well of Eternity used to reside. This Great Sundering caused the Well's waters to be permeated into the atmosphere and spread magic all over the world.

This event convinced the majority of night elves to reject arcane magic and embrace Malfurion Stormrage's call for druidism. Many of the Highborne refused this lifestyle, and left in self-imposed exile to Lordaeron where they eventually founded their kingdom of Quel'Thalas and became the high elves. When their kingdom came under siege by the trolls of Zul'Aman the high elves agreed to teach one hundred humans the arts of magic in exchange for military aid from the human nation of Arathor. From these two races, the arcane arts have spread to various races all over Azeroth.


Once students of the Conjurers of Azeroth, this new order of mages had been forced to discover untapped magical forces to command in their war against the ruthless orcs. Although masters of their arts, the Conjurers who fell during the First War were unprepared for the rigors of warfare. Determined to avoid a similar fate, the mages began to undertake a regimen equally demanding on body and soul, thus dedicating themselves to the command of more aggressive and destructive magic. Whether in their sanctum at the Violet Citadel in Dalaran or on the many battlefields of Lordaeron, the mages are resolute in their efforts to defend the people.[5]

The most powerful mages of the Eastern Kingdoms were perhaps the Archmagi of Dalaran. The city was transported to Northrend when the mages believed they were in danger. It now hovers in the skies over Crystalsong forest and is ruled by the Kirin Tor. The Kirin Tor are quick to recognize fellow mages as allies where outsiders must do more to prove themselves.

Notable mages


Main article: Mage races

The mage class can be played by the following races:

Race Strength Agility Stamina Intellect Spirit Armor Health Mana
Alliance 15 IconSmall Draenei MaleIconSmall Draenei Female Draenei Bc icon 21 17 20 23 24 34 52 165
Alliance 15 IconSmall Dwarf MaleIconSmall Dwarf Female Dwarf Cataclysm-Logo-Small 22 16 23 22 21  ?  ?  ?
Alliance 15 IconSmall Gnome MaleIconSmall Gnome Female Gnome 15 22 20 27 22 44 52 225
Alliance 15 IconSmall Human MaleIconSmall Human Female Human 20 20 20 23 22 40 52 165
Alliance 15 IconSmall NightElf MaleIconSmall NightElf Female Night elf Cataclysm-Logo-Small 17 25 19 23 22  ?  ?  ?
Alliance 15 IconSmall Worgen MaleIconSmall Worgen Female Worgen Cataclysm-Logo-Small 23 22 20 19 21  ?  ?  ?
Horde 15 IconSmall Blood Elf MaleIconSmall Blood Elf Female Blood elf Bc icon 17 22 20 26 20 44 52 210
Horde 15 IconSmall Undead MaleIconSmall Undead Female Forsaken 19 18 20 21 27 36 52 135
Horde 15 IconSmall Goblin MaleIconSmall Goblin Female Goblin Cataclysm-Logo-Small 17 22 20 26 20  ?  ?  ?
Horde 15 IconSmall Orc MaleIconSmall Orc Female Orc Cataclysm-Logo-Small 23 17 22 20 25  ?  ?  ?
Horde 15 IconSmall Troll MaleIconSmall Troll Female Troll 21 22 20 19 23 44 52 119


See also: Mage sets

When first created, a mage is only able to wield staves and wands; one can later learn how to use daggers and one-handed swords from weapon masters in Stormwind, Darnassus and the Exodar for the Alliance, Undercity and Silvermoon for the Horde. Wands go in the ranged slot and will continue to shoot once manually started, and do not require any form of ammunition. A mage can only wear cloth armor.

Magi gear primarily for spell power and haste. An appropriate amount of Spell hit is maintained to ensure no spells miss. Spell crit is inferior to haste point-for-point, but is desired by mages using a fire specialization (specifically those with Master of Elements and Hot Streak). Spirit is the typically the least desirable mage stat, providing mana regeneration and spell crit through Molten Armor (the talent Student of the Mind can also boost Spirit by as much as 10%).



A female blood elf mage in magister's gear with the Staff of the Shadow Flame.

Main article: Mage abilities

Mages have a wide variety of spells which fall in to three schools of magic: arcane, fire and frost. All spell schools include damage spells. Arcane includes some crowd control and utility, and most Frost spells provide a movement-slow effect supplementing their damage.

Fire spells are primarily damage-dealing spells, including direct single-target damage and area of effect damage. Many Fire spells include damage over time effects. Fire mages trust heavily on RNG in raid situations to proc Hot Streak.

Frost spells are primarily single-target and area of effect damage-dealing spells, but with more emphasis on chilling effects. Nearly every frost spell has a chill or freeze effect that fully or partially immobilizes an enemy. This includes freezing it in place (called a root) or slowing its movement speed (called a snare). Frost specialized mages can further improve these chilling effects and increase frost damage output to respectable levels. Frost spells help the mage use kiting as a combat tactic.

Arcane spells include single-target damage spells and utility. Arcane spells allow the mage to remove curses, provide crowd control, absorb damage, teleport himself or others to major capital cities, Slow Fall, Counterspell, buff players' intellect stat, save mana for later use in the form of mana gems, conjure food and water for himself or others, and provide many other conveniences.

Arcane and Fire are the trees currently best suited to raid damage. Frost's snare effects and Ice Barrier make it the best leveling and PvP tree. Fire and Arcane specs lack the control and survival abilities crucial to leveling and PvP.


Main article: Mage talents

Goblin fire mage art

Mage talents are split into 3 categories which mirror their 3 main spell types. Descriptions of the roles of mages who specialize in each talent tree are shown in parentheses.


The arcane tree's damage focuses on Arcane Blast and Arcane Missiles. Arcane can provide the greatest potential damage output mages can offer. The Arcane tree includes Slow, a powerful instant single-target slowing effect, and Arcane Barrage, an instant-damage ranged attack. Arcane mages can provide substantial burst damage with Arcane Power and Presence of Mind. Leveling as arcane is not recommended, since they learn their signature skills (Arcane Blast, Arcane Barrage, Missile Barrage) at later levels.


Fire's damage output is oriented around Living Bomb and Hot Streak. Living Bomb is an instant cast damage-over-time effect. Hot Streak is a triggered effect: whenever a Fire mage deals two critical strikes in a row, their next Pyroblast spell is instant. Fire is currently behind Arcane in single-target damage, but Living Bomb makes Fire vastly superior to Arcane in AoE situations. Fights in which players are forced to move frequently can also benefit Fire mages, as Living Bomb and Hot Streak-enabled instant Pyroblasts can fill the movement time which Arcane mages can only use for Arcane Barrage, Fire Blast and Ice Lance which is especially poor damage against bosses. The Fire talent tree provides few survival tools. This has historically made the fire tree a good choice for high-end raiders who seek to maximize damage output, but poor in PvP due to Resilience's reduction of critical strike chance and Arena's survival requirements.


Frost specializes in crowd control and snaring foes with its various chills, allowing for powerful kiting, and provides good AoE capability. It is the most mana-efficient spec. Frost also has very high survivability, making Frost very popular PvP tree. Frost's AoE makes it the spec best suited to five-player dungeons. However, it is far behind fire and arcane in terms of DPS. Frost is most effective in PvP, as Frost mages can learn Ice Barrier to protect themselves from damage and Deep Freeze to supplement their snare effects with a stun. Frost mages can also learn Summon Water Elemental, gaining a pet which has a Freeze ability similar to Frost Nova.

Common builds

Notice that while all three trees of talents already have been given names, different talent-builds invented by players have also been given names.

Frost & Fire:

Arcane & Fire:

  • A mage with points both in fire and arcane is often referred to be a "three-minute mage" because this kind of mage often base(d) their damage on combining the fire-talent spell Pyroblast, which takes long time to cast yet provides powerful damage, with the arcane-talent-spells Presence of Mind and Arcane Power to create a instant-cast, long-ranged, high-damage spell. As the two arcane-spells both had a three minute cooldown, one would say the mage "functioned" (most likely in a humorous context) only every three minutes. However, since patch Patch 3.0.9 Arcane Power and Presence of Mind shares cooldown, which somewhat ruined the three-minute mage. Still, with the talent Arcane Flows which was introduced in Patch 3.0.2, the cooldown of both Arcane Power and Presence of Mind may be reduced to two minutes, changing the original Three-minute mage into a "Two-minute mage". This spec was championed during The Burning Crusade by the mage Pigvomit[1].

Arcane & Frost:

  • A mage with points both in arcane and frost is sometimes called a "Arcane Shatter" mage. The name is likely to derive from the arcane-talent Arcane Barrage and the frost-talent Shatter. This talent specialization was popularized by the success of Abni, who obtained Gladiator titles for several seasons using this spec.


This is a list of the Mage's primary stats for level 80 raiding in order of importance. Not all stats have a min or a cap.

Arcane Fire Frost Comments
  • 17% 446, 14% 368 Precision, 11% 289 Arcane Focus

Endgame expectations


A human mage in art.

In a group or raid environment, mages are usually tasked with ranged DPS, AoE, Counterspell, Spellsteal, Crowd Control and finally provide food.

With the introduction of patch 1.11, mages enjoyed a high degree of flexibility in the endgame. Previous to patch 1.11, it was expected that most mages would spend at least 11 talent points in the arcane tree for Evocation, as it is a quite powerful mana-regenerative spell. It was given free without the use of talent points. New changes to all three trees also made investing points into both the fire and the frost trees much more viable. This still holds true with the release of Bc iconBurning Crusade. It should be mentioned that a build predominantly using the fire tree will usually contribute greater DPS in multiple-target encounters; those using a predominantly arcane tree will usually contribute greater DPS in single-target encounters; and finally, those using a predominantly frost tree will contribute a fair amount of control.

The endgame mage also acts as a utility class, providing drink, food, buffs and portals. Originally, when it came to providing drink and food, mages were by some considered equal to "vending machines" due to their unique ability to create food and drink and provide them with no cost except mana and time. In Wotlk-mini Wrath of the Lich King, Refreshment Tables may also be created at level 80 at the cost of five Arcane Powder; the table lasts for three minutes or 50 charges of Conjured Mana Strudel, whichever comes first. It is expected that a mage provides his party or raid with food and drink for free. A second (or third) table can sometimes be called for while mustering players at the beginning of a raid if the first expires before everyone has received their strudel.


PvP-wise, mages are considered "glass cannons" - a design philosophy which gives mages generous burst damage at the cost of generally low health and armor values. Aided by talents such as Presence of Mind and Arcane Power, they are one of the classes with the potential for dealing out the greatest amount of damage in the shortest amount of time. In group PvP, mages will stay back and focus on crowd control with Polymorph and pick off targets from range. Depending on the Battleground and the situation, mages typically AoE to prevent node captures or nuke flag carriers as fast as possible. In solo PvP, a skilled frost mage is a formidable opponent.

Cataclysm changes

General preview

Cataclysm Class Preview: Mage | 2010-04-10 06:57 | Bashiok
In World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, we’ll be making lots of changes and additions to class talents and abilities across the board. In this preview, you’ll get an early look at what's in store for the mage class, including a rundown of some of the new spells, abilities, and talents, and an overview of how the new Mastery system will work with the different talent specs.

New spells

[Flame Orb] (available at level 81): Inspired by Prince Taldaram's ability in Icecrown Citadel, this spell allows the mage to cast a flaming orb that travels in front in a straight line, sending beams that cause fire damage to passing targets. Once it's cast, the mage is free to begin casting other spells as the Flame Orb travels. While the spell will be useful to any spec, Fire mages will have talents that improve it, possibly causing the Flame Orb to explode when it reaches its destination.

[Time Warp] (level 85): Grants a passive Haste effect much like [Bloodlust] or [Heroism] to party or raid members. Time Warp will be exclusive with Bloodlust and Heroism, meaning you can’t benefit from both if you’ve got the Exhaustion debuff, though the movement-speed increase will still work even when under the effects of Exhaustion.

[Curtain of Frost] (level 83): Creates a line of frost in front of the mage, 30 yards from end to end. Enemies who cross the line are snared and take damage. The mana cost will be designed to make Curtain of Frost efficient against groups, not individuals. This spell is intended to give mages a way to help control the battlefield, whether the mage is damaging incoming enemies (Blizzard can be channeled on top of Curtain of Frost) or protecting a flag in a Battleground. 15-second duration. 2-minute cooldown.

Changes to abilities and mechanics

In addition to introducing new spells, we're planning to make changes to some of the other abilities and mechanics you're familiar with. This list and the summary of talent changes below it are by no means comprehensive, but they should give you a good sense of what we intend for each spec.

  • [Arcane Missiles] is being redesigned to become a proc-based spell. Whenever the mage does damage with any spell, there is a chance for Arcane Missiles to become available, similar to how the warrior’s [Overpower] works. The damage and mana cost of this spell will be reworked to make it very desirable to use when available. This change should make gameplay more dynamic for the mage, particularly at low levels.
  • We are planning to remove spells that don't have a clear purpose. [Amplify Magic], [Dampen Magic], [Fire Ward], and [Frost Ward] are being removed from the game, and we may remove more.
  • The ability to conjure food and water will not become available until higher levels (likely around level 40), as we're making changes to ensure mages generally won’t run out of mana at lower levels. Once mages learn how to conjure food and water, the conjured item will restore both health and mana.
  • [Scorch] will provide a damage bonus to the mage's fire spells. Our goal is for Scorch to be part of the mage's rotation and a useful damage-dealing ability, even if someone else is supplying the group with the spell Critical Strike debuff. Scorch will provide the mage with more specific benefits, which can also be improved through talents.

Talent changes

  • [Arcane Focus] will now return mana for each spell that fails to hit your target, including Arcane Missiles that fail to launch. We want Arcane mages to have several talents that play off of how much mana the character has and give the player enough tools to manage mana.
  • The talent [Playing with Fire] will reduce the cooldown of [Blast Wave] when hit by a melee attack, instead of its current effect.
  • [Pyromaniac] will grant Haste when three or more targets are getting damaged by the effects of your damage-over-time (DoT) fire spells.
  • The [Burnout] talent will allow mages to cast spells using health when they run out of mana.


  1. Spell damage
  2. Spell Haste
  3. Mana Adept: Arcane will deal damage based how much mana the mage has. For example, Arcane mages will do much more damage at 100% mana than at 50% mana. If they begin to get low on mana, they will likely want to use an ability or mechanic to bring their mana up to increase their damage.
  1. Spell damage
  2. Spell Crit
  3. Ignite: All direct-damage fire spells will add a damage-over-time (DoT) component when cast. The flavor will be similar to how Fireball works; however, the DoT component will be much stronger.
  1. Spell damage
  2. Spell Crit damage
  3. Deathfrost: Casting Frostbolt places a buff on the mage that increases the damage for all frost, fire, and arcane spells. The only damage spell that won't be affected by this buff is Frostbolt.
We hope you enjoyed this preview, and we’re looking forward to hearing your initial thoughts and feedback on these additions and changes. Please keep in mind that this information represents a work in progress and is subject to change as development on Cataclysm continues.

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Re: Cataclysm Class Preview: Mage | 2010-04-10 17:42 | Ghostcrawler
Flame Orb is not channeled. It may have a cast time, but after that is fire and forget. We want to try the line idea because there aren’t any spells that work that way currently. Giving it a target to follow makes it feel more like a fancy dot – useful perhaps, but nothing that feels really new. It will be balanced for single-target damage, but if you can launch it in such a way that it will hit multiple targets, then you’re just being awesome.

Wall of Fog is not channeled. We don’t know yet how wide it will be, but wide enough so that it feels more like a trip-wire than an area like Frost Trap.

We like the basic gameplay of Hot Streak. With lower crit rates all around, we hope that it will feel more like a bonus when it’s up rather than a penalty when it refuses to stay up. We may lower the magnitude overall for the same reason.

On Arcane Missiles, the basic spell is pretty cool. The problem is the way the spell works makes the current design hard to balance. It’s either too expensive and low damage or the opposite problem. This is particularly true at low level, and meanwhile we think the mage experience at low level is also a little too repetitive. The change is that you can’t hit Arcane Missiles whenever you want. The icon is just grayed out. However, when you deal damage, you have a chance to get Arcane Missiles to light up and then you definitely want to hit it. At higher levels Fire and Frost may eventually phase it out in preference for other spells, or if we like the mechanic, it may be something even Fire and Frost do, just less often than Arcane.

On the topic of mastery bonuses, understand that this is a new design for us and very few people have seen them in action yet. We run the risk of specific masteries being so generic that the mastery stat isn’t interesting or so complex that what players really like about playing a certain spec gets turned on its head. This is the kind of thing that will require a lot of iteration and the reason we’re trying to cover the whole gamut of relatively complex to relatively simple to see what feels right.

The reason behind Deathfrost (Frost mastery) isn’t to get Frost to spam Frostbolt more. It’s to get mages to spam Frostbolt less. If you hit nothing but Frostbolt, you’re wasting the Deathfrost bonus.

We’re shifting food and water to higher level because we don’t want players to have so much down time at lower level. We’re not trying to make it harder to level; we’re reducing the need to drink or eat so we’re bumping the actual food and water (though it’s really foodwater in the case of mages) higher.

The intent behind Mana Adapt (Arcane mastery) is that Arcane currently has a pretty fun mana management game going, at least at relatively high level. We thought it would be fun to extend that concept even further to where Arcane mages that use the mechanics to keep their mana high would do higher dps. I find many of the predictions that Arcane is doomed in PvE based on the very limited information you have at the moment to be quite premature.

On Time Warp vs. Bloodlust, we are really trying to give groups flexibility in who they bring to 10 player raids to an even greater extent than we did in Lich King. We heard over and over that shaman still felt like the one mandatory class in any raid. The more we hear “now there will be no reason to take me over X class / spec” the happier we will be. The reason should be that you’re a good player, not that your mere presence makes everyone else perform better. It’s fun to feel more powerful in a group – we get that, and we aren’t going to completely marginalize group synergy. But it needs to come secondary to the skill of the players involved.

I understand some mages really like Fire Ward or Dampen Magic. Perhaps “no clear role” wasn’t the best choice of words, but we are trying to remove mechanics from the game that we think aren’t really cutting it. When asking players to put more buttons on their action bars from these new spells, we only think it’s fair to try and get some bar space back from the least interesting spells. Don’t worry so much about balance at this stage. Many things will need to be tweaked. Worry more about whether it ever felt like a fun decision to use these spells.

For everyone focusing on the RMP Arena comp, I really think you’re going to see a shift to more PvP concerns in Cataclysm being about Battleground balance. There will still be players playing Arenas for sure, but a lot of the players currently doing Arenas are going to shift to rated BGs instead.

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  • Dr. Bill Lee, a re-occurring character from the TV Series 'Stargate SG-1' and 'Stargate Atlantis,' states that he plays a mage, and makes multiple references to the game, including Elwynn Forest. While his character's race is not explicitly stated, it's assumed from that statement that he plays a human.

See also


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