Author: Xanadu (Rosmerta, clan Forever)
Being a mid-game mageThere are plenty of great resources and guides to being a mage on the forums, but I was asked to give you my experience on maging so it can help you all. I love playing a mage, but like all classes, it has advantages and disadvantages. Mages are the damage casters. While there are some other skills, the useful skills are about maximizing damage for yourself and those in your group. Mages are also energy creators (as Druids are health creators), but these skills are largely point sucks and are not worth your time for the little benefit they provide. So as a mid level mage, your philosophy should be that the best defense is a good offense. You are a glass cannon and you pump out nuclear hits while trying to stay alive.
A few qualifiers. Mage is not a cheap class. While you will not spend on things like hastes, maging requires serious investment of time/money to do it properly. This is because your options are sigils (highly recommend) in mass quantities, energy regeneration gear (costly, less recommended), energy lixes (they add up), or skill points in energy skills (do not recommend), or some combination thereof. None of these are cheap options. And you will buy lots of idols and lots of potions because with your paper thin armor you will die. A lot. Be ready to invest if you want to play this class.
Types of mages. While you can play a pvp mage, a hybrid mage, or a support mage, I don't recommend it. Pvp maging is useless in ch which is a pve game. Hybrid and support mages are really only useful at end game. So that brings us to the two main mages: fire mage and ice mage.
Fire mages have a shorter cool down on their nuke skills, but they hit for less damage than ice mages. Conversely, ice mages have harder hitting nukes but longer cooldowns to recast them. This is an issue because your skills will not always hit. Mobs evade and your big damage goes for naught when they do. However it is best to choose one because of attunment.
Where do you get damage from? Four areas: focus, fire/ice magic, skill points, and reduced resists. We will discuss resists when we discuss lures. As for the other three, you want to maximize all three of them to get the most damage from each skill hit.
Point distribution. The goal is to maximize focus but to stay alive. So strength is useless, no points. Dex is only mildly useful for the occasional dodge, but I don't recommend it. No points. Focus and vit are where you go with casters. And the more focus you have, the more powerful your skills are. So, your goal is to be full focus with all the vitality you need from your gear. But that's the goal. At beginning game you should have a ratio of 3:2 and 4:1 as you move into end game and don't hav vit:focus gear. As an endgame mage, I have no more than 5000 health (and all my vit comes from gear). Yes, I die. A lot. But that's mage life.
Skill points. To maximize damage, you should attempt to maximize the following skills: bolt/shards (dps single mob), storm/blast (dps area of effect), attunment (ice or fire as appropriate).
Lures. Lures lower a mobs resist. However, a resist can only be reduced to zero. Accordingly, while mid game, and since you have limited skill points, I recommend half maxing your primary lure (fire, ice). For most mobs of level, this will eliminate their resist or bring it close to zero, allowing you to spend points elsewhere.
Other lures. Don't spend points on your opposing elemental lure (e.g. ice if you're fire). However, if you have extra points, assassin lure is highly recommended (again, no more than half max). Assassin lure reduces pierce resistance, which is the damage used by rogues and rangers, as well as Warriors using spears. This increases the damage they do to a mob with pierce damage. It is wonderful in leveling groups and on bosses. Giant lure (crush) solider lure (slash) and magic lure (druid spells/nature magic) are less common at mid game but can be helpful with the right group. But assassin lure gets the most bang for the buck.
Eshield. There are varying opinions on eshield. I love it. I have it maxed and use it constantly. And if you time your eshield (1/4 left in recast when you start attacking a 4* of level) you can usually get the value of two eshields to take a three or four star mob solo. But it is a massive energy suck and it has a very long recast time, so it is hardly enough to make you a tank. You should always have energy regeneration in at least the amount of your eshield cost. How many points in it? That depends on your survivability.
Other mage skills. I'm less hot on other mage skills at mid game. The damage over time skills (dot) are incinerate and frostbite. They're better at end game than at mid game. Skill points are scarce at mid game and you want to invest in nuke damage and survivability. At end game, they are helpful on end game bosses.
Cloak of fire. Also a dot skill, but set and forget. The issue with cloak is that it only affects the mob that is harming the cloaked individual. Ideally, over a long fight a mob won't be attacking you. While casting it on a tank is always helpful, the cost benefit on this skill is not worth it.
Eboost. Eh...this skill gets you energy by regenerating it. But to get enough energy you need to put points into it. That is a waste in mid game. At this point you should be investing in sigils to regenerate your energy. Put the points in damage skills where they are useful.
Sacrifice. This is bandage wounds in reverse. You cast it and it converts health to energy. While it has some limited utility, again, points are scarce, and nukes are the priority.
Ewell. Increases the maximum energy you can hold. Useless. Wasted points.
Freeze. Not useful until end game. No points.
Also a good idea. Putting the ice or fire dps skill in your rotation during cool downs is also not a bad idea because it will help you increase the opposing magic skill. Having both maxed is helpful because you may occasionally use a fire skill (assassin lure) or ice skill (eshield), even if you aren't that type of mage. So it will be more effective when you do.
Casting strategy: eshield and attunment up all the time. Then lure, dps, dps aoe. Nuke it until it's dead.
Survival strategies: Mages are most effective when working as a team with other classes. They can maximize damage while keeping up attunment and aid those classes in maximizing their own damage. And before dl gear, they are solid lock toons.
Kiting. Working with a ranger with bolas is the best option for mages. The mage is often going to get the aggro, but the bolas mob is going to come at the mage slowly. This gives the mage the opportunity to nuke the mob as much as possible before it dies. Run from the bolaed mob and fire off nukes and when it gets close run again. The ranger also provides excellent supplemental damage with his or her arrows. This strategy also works on bosses when no tank is available.
Tanks. Tanks work great with mages too for leveling and bossing. A good tank is loaded with vit, armor and skills like taunt and warcry to hold one or more mobs aggro. That's important because mages skill hits make them aggro fiends. But when the mob holds on a tank, the mage can fire away with nukes. They are great to level with and fantastic to boss with.
Rogue support damage. Mages work great with rogues too. Rogues give pierce damage fast and furious, but need to be on a mob to kill it. Mages can stand back, lure the mob and fire off those supplemental nukes, making a lengthy kill end much faster. Want to blow up a leveling room? Group with a rogue.
Druids, savers of idols and pots. Druid grouping does wonders for survivability. Bark will keep you alive when eshield breaks and their heals will let you fire off your nukes without thinking twice. While you will be burning energy on two ends, Druids are amazing to keep you alive and to share your xp with.
A word on attunment. Attunment is a great skill, but pretty much ended the hybrid mage. It also has a very long recast time. What that means is if you die, you can see a very significant drop in your damage until it cools down. This is why grouping as a mage is so important. Every other class helps your survivability. And a live mage is a powerful mage.
My pretty wand. Turn off auto. As a mage you are wasting time using auto attack. Your attacks come from skills. Your main hand and off hand should be for focus, skill points, recast rate, and health. And when you move to sigils, as you must, the auto attack harms your sigils from kicking in. Remember sigils are out of combat regen and they don't work if auto is on.
Sigils. Buy them. Then buy more. Gobble them up. As a rule of thumb, you should have as many energy sigils as your cost to use eshield so you get back that energy in one tick. And the sooner you end your dependence on regen gear the better if you want to be a serious mage. Your gear slots should be for items that give skill points, fire/ice magic, focus and vitality. Also sigils only work out of combat but attunement and eshield are out of combat skills. So if you are out of energy stop attacking and step back and let those expensive little babies kick in.
Holy cow! I have extra skill points! Congratulations! You have maxed your nukes and their attendant skills and still have more points? Put those into a skill that helps your friends. Assassin lure is great for leveling and bossing with others because pierce damage is so prevalent. A dot skill like incinerate or frostbite is also good for bossing because they are "set and forget" skills that do a lot of damage over a long boss fight.
Feel free to ask any questions and happy maging!