The Mage has always been the master of ranged DPS.
Wielding Arcane, Fire and Frost they are outfitted with an assortment of utility, disabling and direct damage skills to lay waste to their choice of battlefield, be it in PvP or PvE.
In Mists of Pandaria the class underwent several structural changes, and one of the first was changing the Frost specialization.
Similar to Arms for Warriors or Discipline for Priests, Frost had always been considered a PvP or leveling build, and the changes to it have allowed it to be much more competitive in PvE.
Mages were also granted significantly more utility, allowing them to bring much to a raid group, in the form of stat increasing buffs and raid wide cooldowns, similar to a Shaman.
If you enjoy doleing out destruction from afar but still able to escape from melee combat, the Mage is for you.
Mages have always been available to a wide number of races. In fact, the only race that cannot field them is Taurens, due to their natural aversion to Arcane magic.
Blood Elf – Very effective in PvP, due to the mana restore and can act as a Counterspell, locking out spells for that few crucial seconds.
Draenei – Heroic Presence increases spell hit by that crucial 1%, and the self heal from Gift of the Naaru is very useful to a class that lacks healing abilities.
Dwarf — Stoneform offers some good escape utility in PvP, especially from rogues and crippling poison.
Goblin – Time is Money gives 1% Haste which offers excellent long term benefits, and Rocket Jump combined with blink can put a mage far away from pesky melee.
Gnome – Escape Artist offers an excellent movement debuff removal spell, and Expansive Mind increases their base mana above what any other race can get.
Human – While the increase in spirit is not as useful as it once was, the 10% increased reputation gain and free PvP trinket ability are both very handy.
Night Elf – Shadowmeld is an excellent ability in pvp and pve, acting as a secondary invisibility, and dropping the target of the other player in PvP.
Orc – Orcs have a built in damage Cooldown in the form of Blood Fury and Hardiness reduces stun duration.
Command will also help Frost Mages with the 5% increase in damage to water Elemental.
Troll – Trolls have Berserking which offers a damage Cooldown and Da Voodoo Shuffle which permanently reduces movement disabling effects.
Regeneration can have very good long term benefits in raid encounters.
Undead – Will of the Forsaken is good for escaping loss of character abilities and Cannibalization is excellent for quick mana and health regen.
The best choice for Horde is Troll as they offer the greatest PvP and PvE benefits.
For Alliance, the best choice is Human, with increased reputation gains, so important in Mists of Pandaria, and with the free PvP trinket ability.
WoW Mage Leveling Specialization
Mages come with three specializations, and while all of them are aimed at dealing direct damage, the three trees have different ways of going about it.
Fire is aimed at direct damage enhanced by DoT’s inflicted by Critical Effects.
Fire relies on a high Crit chance to proc instant cast Pyroblasts. They are the best AoE Spec, offering the ability to spread their fire damage dots to many targets.
Frost is aimed at disabling, with abilities that can freeze or chill opponents, rooting them or reducing their movement speed.
Frost gains damage synergy with these abilities, as many gain double or more damage modifiers against frozen targets.
Frost also has a pet, the Water Elemental for additional damage.
Arcane works as single target direct damage, with each spell cast increasing damage and haste at the expense of massive mana usage.
For leveling, the best choice is Frost.
Offering decent AoE damage, Frost is excellent for low level pvp, offering damage reduction and survival skills, coupled with easy damage and a pet. The rest of this guide will assume you have chosen Frost.
WoW Mage Leveling Talents
When leveling, the best choice is to select Frost, for the reasons previously discussed.
The Talents that go with Frost Synergize very well, allowing for massive damage while retaining high mobility.
At level 15, 30, 45, 60 , 75 and 90 the player can allocate Talent points. As with many other Classes, the choices can be argued, but for levelling and synergy, these are the best choices.
Level 15: This first tier is generally mobility based, and help more with PvP than PvE.
Ice Floes is an excellent ability to use, as it allows casting Frostbolt or Frostjaw while moving.
Level 30: Ice Barrier, with the survivability it offers, is a no brainer.
Level 45: Frostjaw is excellent for Frost, offering a castable way with Ice flows to freeze opponents for some big Ice Lances.
Level 60: Cold Snap and Cauterize are toss ups, but Cauterize + Ice Block is excellent combination for survivability. The heal from Cold Snap is very useful though.
Level 75: Nether Tempest is an excellent spell against packs. Tap target casting it will cause excellent damage, even as a pulling mechanic.
Level 90: Rune of Power is excellent for PvE, but for PvP Invocation and the mobility it offers with Evocation is the best choice.
As Mages are a Cloth class, if you want to build your own gear, Tailoring and Enchanting is the classic choice.
As Tailoring needs no specific gathering skill, Enchanting goes well with it, as it means you are able to craft, and disenchant gear without needing to vendor items used to raise the skill.
Tailoring + Enchanting
As Tailoring now offers top tier gear at max level, a cloth wearer would be well suited to choose this.
Enchanting is a good money maker, especially at the start of a new tier, as people will be enchanting and gemming many pieces of new gear.
Herbalism + Mining + Skinning
This is the classic farmer choice, something to turn into profit to purchase gear.
Mining + Jewlecrafting
Mining and Jewelcrafting offers a good choice for Mages, as they benefit so much from raw Intellect, and the additional Jewlecrafter only gems offer a huge boost.