How to play a Mage in WoW dungeons

“Lol, ur gear suxx!” “Ur DPS is crap noob!” Dungeons aren’t always the friendliest place if you’re not sure how to play a mage in WoW. Here’s a bit of help that’ll hopefully let you figure out what’s going on if you’re having some trouble!

I keep dying!

Don’t use too much AoE.

Generally speaking, the mobs should be hitting the tank, not you. If they’re hitting you, you may have accidentally caused too much threat. Make sure not to use too many area of effect abilities, like Flame Strike, Blizzard, or Arcane Explosion, before the tank has control of the monsters, even if they’re not elites.

Use Iceblock and Invisibility

If you are high enough level to have these two spells, both of them will prevent you from dying.

Iceblock makes you invulnerable for a reasonable period of time – you can’t do anything, but you also don’t die. Use it if your health is getting very low.

Invisibility causes all monsters to stop attacking you, but it takes a few seconds. It’s still worth doing if something’s hitting you and the tank doesn’t seem to have control of it.

Don’t attack before the tank

The tank should start each fight, and will attack the mobs first. However, the tank probably has to run in, even if they have an ability like Charge, and then has to hit all of the monsters at least once. Be careful not to cast a spell, particularly something like Pyroblast, on a monster the tank has’t had a chance to hit yet, even if that means waiting a couple of seconds before starting to do damage.

Don’t stand too close to the boss

A mage is a ranged damage-dealer. That means that, for most fights, you should be standing some distance away from the boss, hitting him at range with your spells and abilities. If you’re too close to the boss, you’re in danger of receiving damage from the boss’s close-combat abilities.

Some bosses require you to stand close to the boss. See our quick start dungeon guides to find out when that is.

My teammates say I am a “ninja”

Don’t roll need on armor that is not suitable for mages.

Mages can only ever wear cloth armor, so you won’t be able to roll on any leather, mail or plate armor. Even if the armor is cloth, though, it may not be suitable for you. If the item gives a bonus to your Spirit, it’s probably not intended to be mage gear and will be of limited use to you.

My teammates say my damage sucks

Make sure you’re using your buffs.

You should have Arcane Brilliance and Molten Armour cast and active at all times. It’s also polite to cast Arcane Brilliance at the start of any dungeon so your teammates can benefit from it too.

Make sure you’re using the right spells

There is a very big difference between using some spells and using others in terms of your damage output as a mage. Advanced players use complex “priority” systems that have been carefully worked out to maximise their damage. You don’t have to go that far, but it’s important to know the basics, as it can easily triple the amount of damage you do.

Most importantly – always be casting something. If you’re not casting, you’re not doing damage.

On a single target:

Arcane Mage: Use Arcane Blast unless Arcane Missiles becomes available, in which case use Arcane Missiles. If you run out of mana, use Evocation.

Fire Mage: Cast Pyroblast if Hot Streak has happened (it’ll come up on your screen). Cast Flame Orb if it’s available. Otherwise, cast Fireball. Cast Scorch if you have to move.

Frost Mage: Make sure your elemental is active and attacking. Cast Freeze and Flame Orb when they’re available. Otherwise, cast Frost Bolt.

On more than 3 targets, all flavours of mage should alternate between casting Blizzard and Flamestrike.

These are very, very basic priority systems. When you’re comfortable with these, you can learn about more advanced priority systems that will boost your damage even more in our main fire frost and arcane guides.

Make sure you’re using the right spec

Talent Points are additional powers you get as you level up. To see them, press “N”.

Mages have three talent trees available, each of which is capable of a high damage output when used correctly. Whether you choose Fire, Frost or Arcane, make sure that you’ve spent all of your talent points – they make a significant difference to your damage.

It’s not as important as many players think to choose the “perfect” talent spec. However, it will certainly increase your damage – see our main fire frost and arcane guides for the recommended “builds” for each talent tree.

Make sure you have the correct glyphs

You can find Glyphs from the bottom of your Talent window (press “N” and look for the Glyphs tab at the bottom). Most glyphs are not that important, but you need to have the following Prime glyphs – fill up as many Prime Glyph slots as you currently have:

  • For Fire Mages, you need Glyph of Fireball, Glyph of Pyroblast, and Glyph of Molten Armour.
  • For Frost Mages, you need Glyph of Frostbolt, Glyph of Deep Freeze, and Glyph of Ice Lance.
  • For Arcane Mages, you need Glyph of Arcane Blast, Glyph of Mage Armour, and Glyph of Arcane Missiles

You buy glyphs from the Auction House. Some may be very expensive – it’s worth saving up for them (see our guide to making enough money to buy things on the Auction House) . You, or a guildmate, may be able to make the glyphs you need if you have the Inscription profession.

My teammates say my gear is bad

Don’t use gear with the wrong stats

As a mage, your most important primary stat is Intellect. Your important secondary stats are Hit, Haste, Critical Strike Rating, and Mastery. You should be looking for these stats on your gear, and ignoring gear with other stats. In particular, you shouldn’t use any gear which provides a bonus to Spirit, unless it also provides a large bonus to one of your important stats.

Mages can only ever use cloth armor.

My teammates keep telling me to “CC” or “sheep”, or there’s a moon above one of the monsters.

Your team want you to use the Polymorph spell on that target, turning it into a sheep and removing it from combat. You should do this – it’ll help your party out. Doing so will not initiate combat, but be careful not to get so close to the monsters that they notice you and initiate combat themselves!

My teammates are annoyed at me for using Frost Nova or Blast Wave

In general, you shouldn’t use any spell that moves the monsters about or keeps them still, without checking with the tank first. The tank is in charge of keeping the monsters controlled, and whilst it might look like freezing them in place will help him or her out, in actual fact it might be disasterous.

Don’t use these spells in a dungeon unless you’re really sure that they will help, and you know your group.


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