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Frost Mage Single Target

    Hardcore viability

    Mage is one of the strongest classes to level in hardcore for both new players and experienced ones, especially if you choose to level in the recommended Frost Spec. They are a glass cannon class built on two core principles: control and big direct damage. They get early access to CC in the form of Polymorph and Frost Nova and are focused on bursting mobs down before they get a chance to reach them.

    It is highly recommended that you level your Mage in the Frost spec for hardcore, as the name of the game is survivability and this spec is unmatched in that regard. For players wanting a change of pace from Frost, Fire is also a very strong single target spec losing out on a bit of survivability for bigger damage, and is a lot of fun to level in. Arcane is fine and a lot of fun too, but not recommended.

    Note that one the biggest strengths of Mage is their ability to be absolutely AoE gods. However, this guide specifically does not leverage this AoE prowess due to it being centered on hardcore survivability for players newer to mage and/or hardcore. If you are interested in pursuing AoE for some or all of your hardcore journey, take a look at the great guide written by Durtyrandy

    Best races

    Alliance Alliance

    For the Alliance, your two options are Human or Gnome with Gnome being the clear winner here across the board. Gnomes get 5% more Intellect, +15 to Engineering (one of your go-to professions), and Escape Artist to get out of sticky situations. Humans on the other hand really only bring 5% increased Spirit. Gnome or go home.

    Horde Horde

    For the Horde, you’re looking at either Troll or Undead and there is a clear winner: Troll. Trolls get 5% more damage to beasts, in-combat health regeneration, and a DPS cooldown: Berserking. Berserking gives you a 10-30% casting speed buff every 3 mins, which is great for taking down important targets. The Undead aren’t without their own benefits, but they are more niche. Underwater Breathing is great for underwater quests and Will of the Forsaken can remove Charm, Fear and Sleep; but you don’t encounter these often when leveling up. Troll or reroll.

    Terms to know

    Heartbeat resists

    Heartbeat Resists are when a spell effect breaks earlier than expected. This happens because the game is periodically calculating resistance to that effect throughout its duration, so on an unlucky roll the spell effect will break.


    Leashing is a mechanic whereby a mob will reset or “Evade” once you have made it either out of render range of a mob or you and the mob haven’t interacted for a certain amount of time (usually ~10-15s) and you are far enough away from where you pulled them. There’s a bit more to how this works exactly and anyone interested should check out Tommysalami’s Leash Guide.

    Split pulling

    Split Pulling is a very useful mechanic to us as Mages because we can take advantage of the fact that packs of mobs will leash individually instead of together if we pull them simultaneously with an AoE spell like Flamestrike or Blizzard. This allows us to only re-leash the mob we want out of a pack while running away from the others, who will Evade after 10-15s. Wonderful guide (once again Tommysalami) here.


    Your base rotation is to Frostbolt until the mob reaches you, Frost Nova them, get some distance, and Frostbolt them until they die. If they are low enough to die to 2-3 wands or 1-2 staff hits, you can finish them that way. You can weave in some Fire Blasts for added DPS at the cost of mana efficiency (I tend to opt for this). In the earlier levels, you’ll be swapping Frostbolt spam with Fireball spam whenever you’ve trained a new rank.

    More efficient

    FrostboltFrostboltFrostboltFrost NovaFrostboltFrostboltFrostboltFrostboltWand

    More DPS

    FrostboltFrostboltFrostboltFrostboltFrost NovaFrostboltFrostboltFrostboltWand

    When Shatter comes online, I opt for not creating max distance after Frost Nova. I instead just move away while the GCD tics and cast my next Frostbolts from about 10 yards away. This is because if your first Frostbolt doesn’t get a Shatter Crit, you’ll have time to cast a second one before the end of the duration of Frost Nova, giving you 2 Frostbolts at a 55%+ Crit chance.

    Talent builds

    There are a few variations to talents that you could go for depending on your playstyle. The assumption with this guide is that if you’re reading this you are either inexperienced with Mage, new to Hardcore, or some combination of the two. With this assumption in mind, the main build we’re going to focus on is the Single Target Frost Spec as this provides a good amount of damage and many survivability skills. This build deviates from the traditional Frost leveling builds you might find online, opting to delay extra damage a little bit for key survivability talents early on.

    Level 10-20

    Your first 11 points are going into 2/3 Elemental Precision, 3/5 Improved Frostbolt, 2/2 Improved Nova, 3/3 Frostbite, and then Cold Snap. Rushing these later 3 talents greatly increases our survivability by maximizing the uptime of our roots. Note that Frostbite does proc off of your Frost and Ice Armor making it huge for getting away.

    No Frost Warding? But it’s Hardcore! I don’t take this because you shouldn’t often be getting hit, the entire playstyle of single-target Frost Mage is to keep your distance from mobs. If you are struggling with this, however, you can take 2 points from Improved Frostbolt and put them here, or put points into Frost Warding later on.

    Level 21-30

    From here, I like to finish out 5/5 Improved Frostbolt, put 2/5 into Ice Shards, 5/5 into Shatter, grab Ice Block (our next vital survivability skill), and then finish out 5/5 Ice Shards. You can also focus on finishing Ice Shards first and then placing your last 2 points into Improved Frostbolt later, but I prefer the consistent DPS increase of Frostbolt vs the extra Crit Damage. See below for a breakdown on the difference in DPS.

    Level 31-40

    You now have 6 points to spend before you grab Ice Barrier; either Piercing Ice, Arctic Reach, Frost Channeling and/or Permafrost. This really comes down to preference, I like Arctic Reach and Piercing Ice. Piercing Ice is a straight 2% damage increase per point. Arctic Reach is an extra 3 yds per point on Frostbolt allowing you to potentially get 1 extra cast in before the mob reaches you. A little bit more Frost Nova/Cone of Cold range can help get away. Frost Channeling is 5% less mana per cast, which adds up surprisingly quickly and increases efficiency. Permafrost makes your slows a little more potent and last 1s longer per point. Great for kiting.

    Grab Ice Barrier at 40, and you have the core of your build complete.

    Level 41-50

    At level 41, you make your way into the Arcane tree to pick up 5/5 Arcane Concentration. The tier 1 talents are mostly filler but Arcane Subtlety and Arcane Focus are the least useless.

    Level 51-60

    At level 51 you have another decision to make based on your playstyle. You can continue down the Arcane tree picking up what is mostly filler and then 3/3 Arcane Meditation to regenerate more mana in combat. This coupled with your Mage Armor is quite nice for uptime. The alternative is to go back into the Frost tree to pick up the remaining talents you didn’t grab in the 30s followed by either 4/5 Winter’s Chill or some more Arcane Talents. Either path is fine, I prefer the Deep Frost myself.

    This is what those two possibilities can look like:

    Standard Frost Shatter

    Standard Shatter Frost Mage Talents

    Deep Frost

    Deep Frost Mage Talents

    A note on Winter’s Chill. This talent seems good but is mostly only useful in a dungeon/raid setting. The Crit adds up nicely when fighting Elites, however, so it’s worth considering if you’ll be doing lots of Elite content.

    Important skills

    Main Damage Spells

    Frost Bolt

    Frosbolt is going to be your bread and butter ability. Your basic rotation on nearly every pull will be 3-4 Frostbolts into a Nova into 2-4 Frostbolts depending on shatter procs and crits.


    Fireball is important to purchase early on, but it loses its efficiency as you gain more levels. For this reason, I wouldn’t train it beyond rank 4. Note that without + Frost Damage gear, Fireball can still out DPS Frostbolt when you gain a new rank, so if you want to inch out a little bit more dps at the cost of efficiency you canspend the gold on new ranks. Also, if you plan on doing quests against Frost Immune mobs (Eg. Water Elementals), you’ll want to have the most recent rank of Fireball.

    Fire Blast

    Fire Blast is a bit of a weird one for hardcore. It does huge amounts of damage for being an instant cast but it’s also very mana expensive. I personally use it because I like to see the mobs dead quicker and if that means I drink a bit more often, I’m fine with that. I usually weave it in between my Frostbolts, or cast it right before Nova and as my last spell to finish a mob.

    Main Utility Spells


    This is one of the most broken abilities in hardcore, allowing you to completely isolate certain mobs from a fight indefinitely. The higher the rank, the longer the duration. It can heartbeat resist, but just reapply it for a fresh duration.

    Frost Nova

    This is the other bread and butter skill of the Frost Mage shatter build. Not only does it allow you to root a mob in place for 8s, but combined with Shatter and Ice Shards, it allows you to hit massive Frostbolt Crits for 250% damage (applies to all Frost Spells). You will be using this on virtually every pull to keep distance and later on explode mobs.

    Mana Shield

    This spell’s uses are a bit niche but when it comes to harry moments where you need to survive, it really comes in clutch. You essentially increase your effective health pool by half of your mana, allowing you to take more hits while you escape. It’s generally not advised to have this on at all times as it will drain your mana which you need to kill. Better to use your other spells to keep mobs away.


    This is your primary mobility spell and a fantastic means of escape. Combined with a Nova or Cone of Cold, or even a Frostbite (if talented), you can almost always escape any situation you find yourself in. Word of caution, don’t spam it too much for travel if you’re in a dangerous area as it’s your main means of escape if you get caught out and dazed.


    The only thing I have to say about this spell is don’t use it as a substitute for drinking water. Saving yourself 1 drink every 8 minutes is absolutely not worth potentially not having this when you need it to save your life. Running out of mana is the bane of all Mages and happens more often than you realize mid fight (for instance, if an extra mob or two pulled). In my opinion, in hardcore, treat this as channeled Mana Gem, especially before your first Mana Gem at level 28.

    Cold Snap

    Half of my namesake, this ability is your last ditch “Oh Shit” button. Once you have exhausted all of your other abilities to try to get away or survive, you can pop Cold Snap and instantly get all those Frost Spells off cooldown to be used again. This spell has single handedly saved more of my hardcore runs than all the others combined and is absolutely essential. You now basically have 2 casts of every Nova, Ice Barrier, and Ice Block.

    Cone of Cold

    Cone of Cold (level 26+): This spell is a pretty good amount of AoE damage, although mana intensive. Where it really shines is its 50% slow for 8s on a 10s cooldown, allowing you to kite multiple mobs virtually indefinitely, with some practice (especially if you have Permafrost talented).

    Mana Gems

    Basically a free Mana Potion. It doesn’t share a cooldown with regular mana or health potions. It does however share a cooldown if other on use effects such as Target Dummies, so keep that in mind. You will need to choose between a Dummy or a Mana Gem depending on the situation you find yourself in (if you went engineering).

    Ice Block

    Another fantastic survivability tool, but keep in mind it usually needs to be used in conjunction with something else. If things go south, you can pop into your Ice Block for up to 10s of complete immunity to mobs. This is great for waiting out a much needed cooldown to escape, such as your nova, blink, or even a potion.

    Ice Barrier

    This makes mana shield look downright wimpy, providing you with a 1min shield on a 30s cooldown that doesn’t drain your mana. You’re going to want to have this active all of the time before pulls allowing you to keep your health up and not receive pushback when hit by mobs. It’s a complete game changer and a must grab.


    The armor you decide on is mostly up to you and is going to depend on the situation you’re in. If you’re expecting to take lots of hits, Frost/Ice Armor are the way to go. If you’re just single targeting mobs down and doing a good job at keeping your distance and maintaining your Ice Barrier, you’ll want to be running Mage Armor for the mana regen.

    Non-essential spells

    You can buy these if you want, but they have limited use or aren’t as efficient as others. Once you get your mount, feel free to buy everything to maximize your toolkit since you have little use for spare gold.

    • Fireball - No need to go passed rank 4 (see above) unless you want to do Frost Immune quests.
    • Arcane Missiles Lots of dps, too expensive, pushback sucks untalented. (Can consider after you have Ice Barrier for max dps)
    • Arcane Explosion - Can be useful to finish mobs while running in a pinch, but definitely niche. If you aren’t going to AoE at all, save your gold.
    • Detect Magic - Addons or wowhead can give you this info, save your gold.
    • Amplify Magic - Only useful in groups, and if you aren’t knowledgeable of mobs’ damage types don’t bother, could end up boosting enemy damage.
    • Flamestrike - If you aren’t going to AoE ever, save your gold.
    • Blizzard - Mostly useless if not talented into, save your gold). Rank 1 Flamestrike or Blizzard can be used to split pull so grab one of those (Blizzard is my choice due to bigger radius).
    • Scorch - Some niche uses in a Fire spec, that’s it.
    • Cone of Cold - If you aren’t going to AoE ever, only get rank 1 for the slow.


    Teleports are not strictly needed but they can be a HUGE timesaver on travel. It’s up to you if you want to spend the gold on training them and then the silver on each reagent every time you use them. I almost always get at least Ironforge and Orgrimmar, and just use hearth/zeppelins/boats/flight paths from there. Portals are up to you, once you have your mount you don’t really need the gold and it can be nice to port out groups from a dungeon or set up a portal ahead of a sketchy pull to escape. Note that the portal needs to be down BEFORE combat to be able to do this.


    There are really only two strong profession choices for Mages in Hardcore: Tailoring and Engineering. Alchemy is usually strong in hardcore but you don’t really get that much value out of it as a Mage. That said, Mages are strong enough to level without professions at all due to their incredible toolkit and ability to control fights, so if you have a specific profession that you love, you can go for that too.

    Before I jump into the benefits of Tailoring and Engineering, I will say that every class should level Fishing, Cooking, and First Aid. It will only take you a few hours to level these up and the benefits can save your up to 10+ days played run.

    Your first wand

    As a wand user, having a wand as early as possible is huge. It’s not as essential on a Mage as it is on say a priest, but having a wand early on is a huge quality of life increase as it allows you to wand down mobs that are low health, allowing you to be more efficient with your mana usage. It is highly recommended (although not necessary) that you start off with Tailoring and Enchanting regardless of what professions you will continue to use as you level up. If you don’t want to do this, you can get Smoldering Wand at level 15 from Vendors in Ironforge, Stormwind, Orgrimmar, and Undercity.

    Lesser Magic Wand: Equippable at level 5, with 60 Linen Cloth you can create 30 Bolts of Linen Cloth followed by 10 Brown Linen Robes which you can then Disenchant to an Enchanting skill of 11 allowing you to craft your first wand (you only need 10 and can actually get a skillup from craft your rod ASAP). Note that you will need to get 2 Lesser Magic Essence from Disenchanting (complete RNG), which you usually get but if you’re unlucky might be short on. The Enchanting Vendors sell these for around 8s.

    Greater Magic Wand: Equippable at level 13, with roughly 220 Linen Cloth (total so ~160 if you made the Lesser) you can keep creating enough Brown Linen Robes to Disenchant and get your Enchanting skill to 70 and craft the better wand. This wand will be your best wand until about 20-22 and hits very hard for its level. You will need 1 Greater Magic Essence (crafted from 3 Lessers). It’s up to you if you want to spend the time farming this cloth (about 2-3 hours as single target) or just keep leveling until you’ve accumulated it naturally.

    I recommend you just make the wands when you have naturally accumulated the Linen as opposed to farming them, but farming is totally fine too.


    This is an easy choice for me as a single target Mage. You can level it up with minimal grinding and you'll get lots of mats while questing and taking a level or two to grind each level of cloth can save you time in the long run as there aren’t enough quests to fully level through quests alone anyways. It is also paired well with skinning providing you easy access to the leather needed in some recipes and that can vendor for lots of gold. This profession combo will basically guarantee you have your mount at gold at 40.

    Main benefits

    1. Self crafted bags (up to 14 slots, but more realistically 12)
    2. Azure Silk set in the early-mid 20s provides a total of +27 Frost Spell Power (+40 if you can find the Shoulder Recipe, but it’s rare)
    3. Black Mageweave set in the late 30s early 40s has great stats
    4. Dreamweave set can be crafted and equipped as early as 40 for the chest and hands and 45 for the head. This set will in all likely-hood be your absolute BiS until 60. It gives 57 Spell Power and a bunch of Intellect and Spirit.


    Also a very solid choice for Mages, especially in a Hardcore setting, and especially with the Gnome Racial bonus. Engineering is also the profession of choice for AoE Mages as the Grenades help a good bit and the Dummies can save a bad pull. Its main advantages come from being able to deploy a Target Dummy to taunt mobs off of you in a dangerous situation and being able to use Bombs/Grenades to stun and/or damage mobs. Engineering also provides you with the best head pieces you can get in the early levels with the Flying Tiger Goggles and the Green Tinted Goggles.

    A few notes about engineering:

    Many of your crafts, especially higher level ones, will require materials that must be fished, so keep your fishing skill up and always be on the lookout for pools. All pools can drop crates with materials in them, not just the floating debris pools. The Basic Target Dummy can be used up to max level to taunt mobs off of you, but will obviously die quickly. It is able to tank for quite a long time in the early levels.

    Target Dummies share a cooldown with your Mana Gem, so know ahead of time which one you will use if things get dicey.

    Bombs need to be thrown from a stationary position and have a cast time, this limits their use a little bit, but they’re still great.

    Grenades on the other hand can be thrown while moving which is fantastic for running away. Once at 175 Engineering, you’ll have access to Iron Grenades and use them until max level unless you grind out Engineering for the Thorium Grenades.

    There are other trinkets and gadgets that you can get with Engineering but they are either a bit of a grind to get or can be finicky to use or worse, have disastrous effects. If you aren’t sure what something you made does, please look it up ahead of time.

    Class quests

    These quests are available to both factions (and all races have their own for the level 10 quest) and are essentially the same. Before reading on, know that NONE of these quests are mandatory and they only provide you with gear, so missing some or all is not the end of the world. I usually skip most of them but I also tend to AoE level so take that with a grain of salt. The only one that feels kind of bad to miss is the Mage Wand quest because this will be your BiS Wand until 60 (not in terms of dps but in terms of stats).

    Level 10

    Mage-tastic Gizmonitor (Gnome) Ju-Ju Heaps (Troll)

    Very simple quests that reward you with a 1 Int 1 Spirit staff or a 1 Spirit off-hand that doubles as a 30min cd mana pot. The latter is a better option as 15 mana won’t make that big of a difference whereas the off-hand effect could provide you with enough mana to save yourself. That said, if you’ll never remember to use it, grab the staff.

    Level 15

    Chain starting with Investigate the Blue Recluse (Alliance) or Investigate the Alchemist Shop (Horde) rewarding a nice 6 Int robe.

    This quest is a hard skip for many, as it can be very challenging if you don’t know how to do it. Definitely have a health potion saved for this quest and maybe don’t try it until 16-18 if you’re a bit nervous (you’ll have either flamestrike or a new rank of fireball at those levels which can be huge).

    Strategy: Use the scroll in the right spot to pull only 1 or 2 Rift Spawns. This can be done in Stormwind by going into the far corner of the basement and in Undercity by standing at the max range by the river where you are able to summon them. The Undercity one is a bit finicky so if you accidentally get too many to spawn, RUN and try again in a different spot. I was able to get both of these done with 1 mob at a time. DO NOT try to AoE 3 of them down without a Target Dummy, Bomb and Lesser Health Pot. It can be done, but if you get unlucky crits you will die and have to go agane.

    Level 26

    Chain starting with High Sorcerer Andromath (Alliance) or Speak with Deino/Waters of Xavian (Horde) rewarding a very nice 6 stam 9 int chest.

    The Horde quest consists of collecting water from the base of the waterfall at the top of the river in Ashenvale and then killing Laughing Sisters, also in Ashenvale. You need to be careful of the guards in the area that will smash you. They also have magic resistance so be ready for some annoying fighting.

    The Alliance quest has you climb the top of a gnoll surrounded tower in Redridge and collect a book. Just be careful not to overpull and systematically fight your way up to the book which will be noticeable on a shelf. DO NOT aggro the boss at the top or you will die. The dogs mana burn, so that sucks. Try to counterspell it if you can or burn them down. Once there you’ll need to fight a 3 pack: 1 caster, 2 dogs. Sheep the caster, nova the dogs and burn them down. Pots and any other consumables are recommended here. Also might need your Evocation if you get mana burned alot.

    All in all, both of these quests can be a little bit scary if you aren’t familiar with Mage, especially the Alliance one so over level it if you are unsure. No reward is worth rerolling.

    Level 35 (really 40)

    Multiple Quests ending with Mage’s Wand rewarding either a Fire,Frost or Arcane Spell Power Wand. This will be your BiS wand until 60 so don’t skip it.

    Rituals of Power has you go to SM: Library and collect a book, so don’t run this dungeon until you have the quest.

    Items of Power has you combine 10 Witherbark Totems in Arathi Highlands and combine them at Circle of Outer Binding. This is guarded by Air Elementals so kill those first. Don’t forget Dampen Magic and Ice Barrier as these can hit decently hard. You’ll also need to get a Jade so keep an eye out as you level.

    Hidden Secrets has you go to Shimmering Flats, find the chicken named “Plucky” Johnson, and /beckon him. He will give you the secret phrase and complete the quest.

    Go back to Tabatha and collect your wand!

    Level 35 (really 45+)

    Multiple quests culminating in Celestial Power. The rewards are fantastic, a 3 Int 13 Spell Power Off-hand with a 400-1200 mana (Celestial Orb) on use or a 8 Int 22 Spell Power staff (Celestial Stave).

    The Infernal Orb has you kill Burning Blade Summoners for an orb in Desolace, pretty straight forward.

    The first ‘tough’ part will be killing the demon you summon for The Exorcism, but you can fully CC and kite him with your Frost Spells so just kite him around the hut and it should be a piece of cake. He can’t be polymorphed so make sure you have a Target Dummy available or the mana to Blink away if things go bad.

    You then need to go to Uldaman and retrieve an Obsidian Power Source from an Obsidian Sentinel. Make sure you have this quest before doing this dungeon. It can also be pretty hard to find a dungeon group this late in the leveling journey so don’t feel bad if you can’t do it.

    The final quest Mana Surges, has you fight waves of mobs that spawn in sets of 2-5. You need to kill 12 in the alloted time to complete the quest. You can AoE the earlier waves down with Flamestrike > Cone of Cold/Arcane Explosion but this can be risky. Instead, you should stand by the tree and you’ll be able to pull them 1 at a time as they aren’t social with each other.

    Dealing with danger

    Generally speaking you’ll want to single pull almost everything, as you don’t get any type of cleave benefit as a Mage. Your AoE spells do pull ahead in dps at 2+ mobs and in dpm at 3+ mobs but please be careful AoE-ing, especially at early levels.

    Unless you are experienced with AoE, I would recommend running at 3/4+ mobs. This is as simple as hitting them with a Frost Nova (Cold Snap into another Nova if some resist) and running away. Blink here too if you have it.

    Dealing with multipulls (the safer way): Sheep the most dangerous/annoying mob (usually the caster or the ranged mob). Focus down 1 mob at a time, making sure to use Frost Nova on cooldown to keep them away from you and Ice Barrier on cooldown once you have it. Resheep between kills.

    If things get harry and your much needed Blink or Frost Nova or even Ice Barrier are on cooldown (with no Cold Snap), don’t forget that you can Ice Block for 10 seconds while waiting on cooldowns making yourself completely immune to everything. Ice Block can also be used to remove harmful effects that would otherwise kill you.

    A note on Cold Snap. You obviously get the most value if all of your abilities are on cooldown, but don’t hold this for too long waiting to get the most value. If you need it, just use it and be careful on future pulls until you have it back off cooldown.

    Be very careful with Mana Shield if you’re going to stand and fight. It can drain your mana super fast and if you’re oom you can’t kill the mobs. I’ve seen so many death clips where mages try to fight multiple mobs with Mana Shield to tank the hits and they just die to going OOM. As a general rule, Mana Shield to run only (using your mana bar as a second health bar), or only use 1 cast of Mana Shield, but even this can be enough to OOM you.

    Dealing with multipulls (AoE - not recommended unless you have no other choice): Sheep any casters away from the pack. Frost Nova all the mobs (except the Sheep) as close together as you can get them and then deadzone them. This means stand far enough away that they aren’t hitting you, but close enough that ranged mobs can’t shoot you and you can still hit them with your spells. Hit them with a Flamestrike + Cone of Cold/Arcane Explosion before Nova expries (if you have Shatter this will Crit for huge damage). If available, Cold Snap > Frost Nova, and repeat. Fill with Arcane Explosion and Cone of Cold spam until they are dead. Cone of Cold can be a great tool here to kite the mobs and not get hit, but it takes a good bit of practice. Utilize any and all other tools you have ie potions, target dummies, grenades, mana gems, etc.

    Let me emphasize here, THIS IS NOT RECOMMENDED FOR INEXPERIENCED PLAYERS. Fighting packs this way regularly without being practiced at AoE will get you killed. AoE guide in the works for those interested.

    Stat analysis

    Spell Power = Intellect > Stamina > MP5 > Spirit

    This stat priority focused on the core principle that the faster you kill something, the less it can hurt you. This is at the core of playing a glass canon, bursty class like Mage. For someone opting to be a bit more defensive (or someone AoEing), Stamina will take prio over Intellect.

    Spell Power is generally hard to come by while leveling, especially in Hardcore but is going to be our most impactful stat in terms of reducing our kill times, if you can stack it. If you can’t get a bunch of it (eg. the dreamweave set), then having more mana is more useful while leveling.

    Intellect increases our mana pool by 15 per point and has a small effect on our spell critical chance (although fairly minor). The bigger your mana pool, the more damage you can dish out before having to stop to drink, and the more options you have when things get hairy.

    Stamina increases our health by 10 per point. There is some debate on whether this is more valuable than Spirit since, as a Mage, you shouldn’t be getting hit often, to begin with. This is especially true later on with Ice Barrier (and to a lesser degree Mana Shield). However, considering that the main goal of hardcore is not to die, I’ve opted to place Stamina over Spirit. I’ve survived close calls with as little as 1 hp, so every point of Stamina helps.

    Spirit is our main regeneration stat (other than MP5, which is pretty scarce while leveling). After 5 seconds of not having cast a spell, we will regenerate an amount of mana every 2 seconds until we cast another spell. Mages get a bonus to this tic of 1 mana per 4 points of spirit. Unfortunately as a mage, we often don’t make use of this regeneration until later in the leveling process when we have talents and abilities that allow mana regeneration while casting. We cast a whole bunch until we are oom, then we sit and drink, limiting the value of our spirit. For this additional reason, I’ve placed Spirit under stamina.

    MP5, or mana per 5 seconds, does exactly what it sounds like - gives you that amount of mana for every 5 seconds regardless of casting. This makes it better than spirit but it’s much harder to find. When not casting, 1 MP5 = 1.6 Spirit (8/5) When casting, the gap widens quite a bit based on how much you can regen in combat making MP5 that much more valuable than spirit. At 30% (Mage Armor), 1 MP5 = 5.33 Spirit (16/3) At 45% (Mage Armor + Arcane Meditation), 1 MP5 = 3.55 Spirit (32/9)

    In terms of BoE gear, you’re looking for "of the ..." Eagle > Owl > Whale

    Spell Hit is something that is constantly asked about and there seems to be some confusion around how it works, so let me explain it to you as it informs our gameplay and talent choices.

    Your base Spell Hit chance on any given target of equal level to you is 96%, or 4% chance to Resist. You can increase this chance through talents and gear*, but regardless of how much +Spell Hit you gain from all sources, there will ALWAYS have a 1% chance for your spells to Resist. For every level of difference between you and your target, you gain or lose a 1% chance to Spell Hit. Once a mob is 3 levels or more above your level, you lose an additional 11% chance to Hit per level. This is why we only take 2/3 Elemental Precision to cap our Spell Hit, the 3rd point is wasted while leveling.

    This is all summarized in the following table:

    Hit Capped Elemental Precision
    Target Level Resist Chance 1/3
    (-2% Resist)
    (-4% Resist)
    (-6% Resist)
    -3 1% 1% 1% 1%
    -2 2% 1% 1% 1%
    -1 3% 1% 1% 1%
    0 4% 2% 1% 1%
    +1 5% 3% 1% 1%
    +2 6% 4% 2% 1%
    +3 17% 15% 13% 11%

    Other tips

    Drink Walking is a way to utilize the 2-second mana tic to move and regain mana at the same time. Using a tic tracker like 5 Second Rule, you can stop walking and drink water right before the 2-second tic, then continue walking, allowing you to be mostly mobile while still recovering mana. Mainly used when you can conjure many stacks of lower-ranked water and gain mana as you travel.

    Jump Leeway is a mechanic by which jumping gives you an extra 5ish yards on weapon swing and abilities used. Jumping as you cast a spell such as Forst Nova can extend its range slightly allowing you to root mobs from further away and when on the move.

    Hardcore Mage Leveling Guide

    Looking for a step-by-step leveling guide that is tailored for the Hardcore Mage leveling experience?

    Click below to visit RestedXP and download their awesome add-on to start receiving in-game directions. The guide is free for the first 20 levels, so give it a try!

    Important Macros

    Mark my Sheep target with Moon

    #showtooltip /script SetRaidTarget("target", 5) /cast Polymorph(Rank 1)

    Mouseover Decurse so you don’t have to un-target mob (dungeons)

    #showtooltip /cast [@mouseover,help,nodead][]Remove Lesser Curse

    Modifiers on Buffs to have them on 1 button

    #showtooltip /cast [mod:shift] Ice Armor; [mod:ctrl] Dampen Magic; [mod:alt] Mage Armor; Arcane Intellect

    Always cast max rank (make sure you keep rank 1s on your bar still)

    #showtooltip /cast Frostbolt

    1 Button Mana Gem - this macro will use your Mana Gem, or Conjure it if you don’t have one. The no combat modifier is so that you don’t re-conjure one mid-fight. Alternatively, you can have a modifier instead eg. [mod:shift]

    #showtooltip /use Mana Ruby /cast [nocombat] Conjure Mana Ruby

    All Mana Gems variation (uses are niche, typically you will be able to conjure another of your highest mana gem before the cooldown is done, as they all share cooldowns.

    #showtooltip /use Mana Ruby /use Mana Citrine /use Mana Jade /use Mana Agate /cast [mod:alt] Conjure Mana Agate; [mod:ctrl] Conjure Mana Jade; [mod: shift] Conjure Mana Citrine; [nocombat] Conjure Mana Ruby

    Annex (Math for the curious)

    The reasoning for Improved Frostbolt vs Ice Shards first. TLDR; every point in Improved Frostbolt is a 3 - 4.5% casting speed (and DPS) increase depending on level whereas Ice Shards points only add 20% extra damage to Crits which only happens 5% of the time (a net 1% DPS increase).

    The main downside is that once you have Shatter, your Crits hit 16% less hard. At this point in the build, you will be level 21-24 and either be getting 5/5 Improved Frostbolt with 2/5 Ice Shards OR 3/5 Improved Frostbolt with 4/5 Ice Shards. Your level 25-29 points will always be 5/5 Shatter to get this online ASAP.

    You have just trained Rank 4 Frostbolt with a base cast time of 2.6s, and will get Rank 5 Frostbolt at 26 with a base cast time of 3s that will continue for the rest of your journey. You also have about a 5% Crit Chance so the difference in DPS is broken down like this:

    DPS Calculated as (Chance to Crit * Crit Damage + Chance not to Crit * Damage) / Cast Time then compared to original DPS at levels 20. Crit Damage is 1.5 usually but is increased by 0.2 per point in Ice Shards. Eg. at level 23 with 5/5 Improved Frostbolt and 1/5 Ice Shards: ( 5% * 1.7 + 95% * 1.0 ) / 2.1s = 0.49286 vs ( 5% * 1.5 + 95% *1.0 ) / 2.3s = 0.44565. 0.49286 / 0.44565 = 1.1059 , an increase of 10.6%

    Level 5/5 Improved Frostbolt with 2/5 Ice Shards 3/5 Improved Frostbolt with 4/5 Ice Shards
    Cast Time (s) Relative DPS Cast Time Relative DPS
    20 2.3 1 2.3 1
    21 2.2 1.045 (+4.5%) 2.3 1.01 (+1.0%)
    22 2.1 1.095 (+9.5%) 2.3 1.020 (+2.0%)
    23 2.1 1.106 (+10.6%) 2.3 1.029 (+2.9%)
    24 2.1 1.116 (+11.6%) 2.3 1.039 (+3.9%)