Classic Mage PvP Guide
This guide will walk you through everything you need to know to play a Mage in a PvP environment in WoW Classic, with a focus on Battlegrounds but also including World PvP and Dueling. The guide will cover everything from talent choices, gameplay and rotation, and useful racial bonuses.
1. Core Concepts for PvP Mages
Being a Mage in PvP is all about following a two-step plan to victory:
- Control your opponent(s) — This can be as simple as landing a Polymorph in preparation for a Pyroblast, followed by a Presence of Mind Pyroblast one-shot combo, or a complex sequence of freezing and slowing spells meant to exhaust your opponent's means of getting to or away from you.
- Destroy your opponent(s) — Once they are brought under control, you can simply use maximum rank Frostbolt, Fire Blast, or AoE spells like Cone of Cold and Arcane Explosion to finish them off.
The first step is the most important, but also often the hardest one, requiring you to know the tools of the class(es) you are facing and how to trade your cooldowns for theirs. Experience is key!
2. Talent Builds for PvP Mages
As detailed above, PvP Mages are all about control and destruction woven together, and as such, there are several popular, distinct builds you can follow. One small, but important detail to keep in mind, is that you need 3% hit chance to be capped in PvP. This means it will be useful to use talents such as Elemental Precision early on, before you have some hit on your gear.
2.1. Deep Frost PvP Mage Talent Build
This is the deep Frost build for masters of control, used by Francis on his video. Going deep into the Frost tree unlocks huge critical strike damage potential due to Shatter, combined with Ice Shards and Improved Cone of Cold, while still saving enough points to get Presence of Mind from the Arcane tree, which can be used for extra burst or utility purposes.
It is also possible to use a more defensive version of this build, swapping Presence of Mind's utility and damage for Ice Barrier's defensive properties. In that case, consider also swapping Magic Attunement's points into Improved Blizzard for its group slowing properties and / or Piercing Ice for added damage.
Besides the big changes detailed in the previous paragraph, feel free to swap points around between Improved Blizzard, Piercing Ice, and Elemental Precision in the Frost tree, and between Magic Absorption, Improved Arcane Explosion, Magic Attunement, and Improved Arcane Missiles in the Arcane tree.
2.2. Elementalist PvP Mage Talent Build
This build, used by Vurtne in some of his videos, is designed to mix some of the best parts of both the Frost and the Fire Mage talent trees. Specifically, it is designed to have incredible burst AoE with Blast Wave joining Cone of Cold as another instant, highly damaging AoE spell.
While Frostbolt will still be your main nuke for finishing enemies, Scorch makes an appearance as an alternative, low cast time spell which is hard to slow down, due to Burning Soul, and can stun enemies with Impact. Having two main nukes in different spell schools allows you to continue casting, even after being interrupted.
Finally, it is worth noting that, since you will have Pyroblast with this talent tree, combining Polymorph into Pyroblast and a sequence of all your instant spells will usually be enough to kill most undergeared players.
2.3. PoM Pyro PvP Mage Talent Build
A WoW Classic Classic talent build, this build has been used by players, such as Gegon on his videos, to cause mayhem back in the day. The idea is to swap the strong control of Frost for the raw destructive power of the Fire tree.
With good enough gear and trinkets, a single Pyroblast can one-shot lesser geared enemies. This chance to quickly end a fight is vastly increased if you manage to Polymorph the enemy and hard-cast Pyroblast before following it up with another one, this time as an instant cast, courtesy of Presence of Mind.
Against slippery enemies like Druids, especially in the context of Warsong Gulch flag carrying duties, the raw burst damage offered by this talent build is often the difference between victory and defeat.
It is possible to go all the way down in the Arcane tree for Arcane Power, for an even deadlier opening burst, but this makes the build very all-in, and even more dependent on its 3-minute cooldowns, overall. Feel free to try it out, and see just how high your AP PoM Pyro critical strikes can go!
Feel free to swap points around between Improved Fire Blast, Improved Fireball, and Improved Scorch in the Fire tree, Improved Mana Shield, Magic Absorption, and Improved Arcane Missiles in the Arcane tree, and Elemental Precision in the Frost tree.
3. Notable PvP Mage Talents
3.1. Arcane Tree
The Arcane tree is full of utility goodies for PvP Mages, applicable to any PvP Mage.
Magic Attunement amplifies Amplify Magic and Dampen Magic by up to 50%. This is typically very useful to lower the damage you take from enemy casters, or to increase the healing you take from allied healers.
Improved Counterspell makes your Counterspell silence its target for 4 seconds. This guarantees that you can stop your target's casting, even if he does not actually try to cast anything in the first place. It also guarantees full silence, rather than the school silence of baseline Counterspell.
Presence of Mind makes your next spell be instantly cast, but only once every 3-minutes. This can be used to burst very hard with Pyroblast, to instantly crowd control an enemy with Polymorph, and other, more niche uses.
Arcane Power increases your damage by 30%, but makes them also cost 30% more Mana, and only lasts 15 seconds, with a 3-minute cooldown. This is a very powerful boost to your damage, but ultimately, it requires a heavy commitment to the Arcane tree that lowers your burst damage outside of the Arcane Power window.
3.2. Fire Tree
Impact makes your Fire spells randomly stun an enemy for 2 seconds. Considering how often Scorch, Fire Blast and Blast Wave are cast when Fire-specced, this is quite likely to happen at least once during a fight.
Ignite allows your critical strikes to finish enemies off by themselves, as they will take up to 40% extra damage from your critical strikes over 4 seconds. It can also be useful to keep Rogues out of stealth.
Pyroblast does huge damage, but also requires 6 seconds to be cast. This means it is usually used alongside Presence of Mind, or as an opener, before enemy players can react to your presence or while they are Polymorphed.
Improved Scorch allows Scorch to stack up a debuff that increase enemy damage taken from your Fire spells, and also counts as a dispellable debuff which protects more important debuffs, such as freeze effects, from being dispelled.
Blast Wave is both a powerful AoE damage spell, and a crowd control tool due to its 50% slow for 6 seconds to anyone hit. Use it when kiting, and to open up a fight, especially against multiple opponents.
3.3. Frost Tree
Frostbite makes your slowing effects have up to 15% chance to freeze the target. This has great synergy with Shatter and Ice Shards for burst damage purposes, and is also valuable due to disabling enemy movement.
Permafrost increases the duration of your slowing effects by up to 3 seconds and makes them slow for 10% more. This allows lower duration slows, such as Improved Blizzard to be much more annoying and impactful on opponents, and makes Cone of Cold have a longer slow duration than its cooldown.
Cold Snap has a lengthy 10-minutes cooldown, but instantly resets all of your Frost spell cooldowns when used. This makes it an incredibly flexible tool, for damage in the form of back-to-back Cone of Colds, and for control in the form of extra Frost Novas and Ice Blocks.
Improved Blizzard causes your Blizzard spell to slow hit targets by up to 65% for 2 seconds. When combined with Permafrost, the duration and slow effects are increased to 5, and 75%, respectively, which is extremely strong for controlling packs of enemies, or slowing single enemies with the Rank 1 version.
Ice Block literally turns you into an ice block, immune to all enemy attacks for 10 seconds, but also incapable of performing any action while it is active. It removes all debuffs on you, which is extremely useful against Warlocks, but its main use is to allow you to survive overwhelming odds, while planning your next move and waiting for cooldowns to reset.
Ice Barrier creates a barrier of ice around you, absorbing damage for 1 minute. This is very useful, for the extra survivability, and also for the immunity to spell interruption from damage while it lasts.
3.4. PvP Mage Consumables
Consumables are an important part of PvP in Classic. While using as many as possible will quickly drain all of your gold, you should always have some on you for the fights you cannot afford to lose. We made a list of the most important consumables to have as a Mage in PvP (look here for a complete list of consumables):
The potions listed below have a 2-minute shared cooldown.
- Major Healing Potion
- Free Action Potion
- Living Action Potion
- Swiftness Potion
- Invisibility Potion
- Limited Invulnerability Potion
Noggenfogger Elixir is also a popular consumable used for PvP. When you drink it, it will do one of three things: make you smaller, turn you into a skeleton, or cast a slow fall spell on you. The shrink effect can be useful to make it harder for players to see and target you, and the slow fall can allow you to jump off high places and not die, while attackers will not be able to follow.
A special remark must be made for Limited Invulnerability Potion. This potion is great for Mages, making you immune to most physical damage effects for 6 seconds. Use it when engaging a pack of enemy players, Blinking right in, followed by Goblin Sapper Charge, and then using Cone of Cold, Blast Wave, or Arcane Explosion spam, depending on the situation.
After using a bandage, you cannot do so again on yourself for 1 minute.
3.4.3. Other Consumables
These consumables have a 1-minute shared cooldown.
Most of these are very annoying to farm, so only use them in the case of an emergency.
Engineering is a great profession in WoW Classic, as it creates a lot of useful consumables and trinkets. Some of those are especially strong in PvP, but most of them have a 1-minute shared cooldown, unless otherwise specified:
- Arcanite Dragonling (1-hour cooldown)
- Goblin Sapper Charge (5-minute cooldown, triggers 1-minute on rest)
- Goblin Land Mine
- Thorium Grenade
- Dark Iron Bomb
- Iron Grenade
- Dense Dynamite
- Goblin Rocket Helmet
- Gnomish Mind Control Cap
- 29 Jul. 2019: Added Noggenfogger Elixir as a PvP consumable.
- 30 Jun. 2019: Page added.
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