With the release of Patch 4.0.3a, new race and class combinations became available for players to try out. Mages have become one of the most accessible classes, with all classes except Tauren having them available as an option. With all new quest content, revamped zones and streamlined zones, it’s never been a better time to choose a new mage.
Unfortunately having so much choice can be bewildering. Choosing which race to play is as much about how they feel as what bonuses they give. You might want to play an explosive Gnome instead of an aristocratic Blood Elf. Whatever your drives or desires, this two-part guide should give you everything you need about choosing your ideal character. This week I’ll be covering the Alliance races, while next week will be the turn of the Horde.
Devout followers of the Light, the Naaru and anything else shiny or mystical, the Draenei are essentially the Alliance’s version of Tauren. They have a natural affinity for magic and make very capable mages. Unfortunately, their sheer size means that they stick out like a sore thumb. This unsubtle nature means that they’re probably not ideal if you’re playing a class that has tissue paper for armour, especially in PVP.
The Draenei bring a number of toys to the table. The 1% hit boost from Heroic Presence is very welcome, especially considering how hard getting hit-capped will be in Cataclysm. Even though it doesn’t provide the same benefit to party or raid members any more, it’s still useful for your own gearing. Gift of the Naaru also provides a useful heal, especially considering it doesn’t munch a global cooldown and can be used whenever, even on others.
Jewelcrafting gets a 5 skillpoint boost, which can help with levelling but is ultimately pointless. There’s also a 2% shadow resistance passive which sounds useful, but ends up only being useful for certain fights.
You’ve probably heard that playing a mage is all about drink-fight-drink-fight. Dwarves take that concept to extremes, alth0ugh we’re not talking Ice Cold Milk here. If you’re playing your Dwarf mage sober, you’re doing it wrong.
This race-class combination is new in patch 4.0.3a, along with Dwarf Shaman and Warlock. Unlike the Wildhammer Clan shaman, most mages (and warlocks) will probably be Dark Iron. If you want to play an antisocial lout with a grudge against the world, this will probably suit you perfectly. If you can hit your rotation with a beer in your hand and a sneer on your face, you’re there.
In terms of racials, Dwarfs pick up Stoneform. While the temporary armour bonus is no great shout, the ability to remove poisons, diseases and bleed effects is very useful. There’s nothing more annoying than watching your health tick down due to a DoT that’s not being dispelled, and this ability will clean them off for you. A 2% bonus to frost resistance is also thrown in as a passive ability, but is unlikely to be useful for most fights in the expansion.
There’s also a bonus to Archaeology that might be useful if you’re going to pick up the skill in Cataclysm, but the chance of getting anything more than a couple of fluff items from it is low. That said, getting that bone raptor mount might be important to you.
If you’re a fan of explosions, magical experimentation, explosion, setting things on fire because you have these great balls of fire that you can throw around, explosions, being one of the shortest people in the room and finally explosions, then the Gnome mage is for you. Don’t let people kid you that Goblins are the King of Kaboom – their first true love is to their money. If you ever need someone who can tell you to three decimal places just how much they’ll Blow Stuff Up, get a Gnome mage.
A key part of playing a mage is keeping yourself mobile, particularly in PVP. If you’re standing still or in melee, you’re toast. The Escape Artist racial ability sits nicely alongside Blink and Invisibility as a great way of getting away whenever you’re stuck. There’s also Expansive Mind to give your mana pool a 5% boost, helping you squeeze out a few more spells from a full blue bar.
On the flipside, it’s unlikely that the 15 point bonus to Engineering will help you much in gearing up, although the profession and its gadgets are some of the most entertaining you’ll find. There’s also a 2% Arcane Resistance passive ability which again probably won’t be much help.
If you’re looking for a mixed bag of mage, Human might be the race for you. On the one hand you have the bookworms and academics of the Kirin Tor, while at the other extreme are people like Medivh or Ras Frostwhisper. If your goal is to endlessly debate magical theory or to be deep, troubled and mysterious, or anywhere in between, the Humans have you covered.
Human mages get a couple of side benefits from racial benefits. A flat 3% increase to Spirit helps boost mana regeneration, while Diplomacy provides a welcome 10% boost to reputation gains with all factions. Considering that some of the best rewards in Cataclysm come from the new introduced factions, being able to shave some of the grind off is very welcome. There’s also Every Man For Himself, which works in a similar way to Escape Artist in keeping your mage mobile.
Along with the Dwarves as new to Team Mage, the Night Elf mages are either taught by Highborne or are actual Highborne themselves. There are also the Shen’dralar in Dire Maul that could provide a rich background. If your goal is to play an aloof, aristocratic and somewhat distant mage then this might be the race to choose. Play a Frost Night Elf with a water elemental and you’ll be almost indistinguishable from the legions of Night Elf Hunters already out there.
In terms of racial abilities, there’s a few abilities that help playing a mage. Shadowmeld is great for being able to sneak around places, and coupled with Invisibility can help you get out and stay out of combat. There’s also Quickness to help you avoid melee and ranged attacks, although as ranged cloth DPS your goal is not to get hit in the first place.
Wisp Spirit can also be a nice feature when you eventually die and have to corpserun, although its value is getting smaller now that ghostly gryphons are being used in parts. There’s also a 2% bonus to nature resistance, although like other racial resistances this is unlikely to have a significant impact.
New to Cataclysm, the Worgen Mage shares many roots with Human mages despite their isolation within Gilneas. Worgen are also able to maintain their human form outside of combat, providing a little bit of unique diversity. If you’d like to play a top-hat wielding English Victorian who just happens to be a werewolf, this is ideal.
There’s also a couple of racial bonuses that make Worgen great as mages. There’s a 1% critical hit bonus available through Viciousness, while Darkflight provides a 40% movement speed boost for ten seconds. The 15 point bonus to Skinning isn’t nearly as useful unless you’re looking to make a leather farming alt.
If you’re looking for a new mount with your new character, Worgen will disappoint you. Instead of having a racial mount, they drop to all fours and run wild along the ground. It works in the same way to having a mount but just uses a special animation instead.