Mage PvP



It’s almost a bad word for mages, particularly for raiding mages.  Those gladiator-geared warlocks see us coming in our raiding equipment and they start thinking … ‘Easy kill  Same for rogues.  Heck, same for most classes actually.

Now, this article won’t suddenly turn you into a 2000 rank arena team player.  I’ll be completely honest on that count.  My personal arena rank hits 1500 semi-regularly … every time the arena season changes.  What this article will do is help you be more effective in that other PvP format:  Battlegrounds.


OK, Rei, but really, why do we care?  We’re PvE mages, we’ve made that perfectly clear.  Why should we even bother?  Good question.  And for many, the answer is, there is no good reason.  But at almost any raiding level, there are usually at least one or two very nice pieces of equipment that can be obtained from honor and battleground marks.  There’s a pretty nice neckpiece, and the PvP bracers are quite good as well.  Other pieces such as boots, ring, etc. may also be relevant for you, depending on your current gear.


And sometimes, as in my own personal case, you want to see how high you can take your reputation with one of the factions before you’re forced to claw your own eyes out.


So, you’ve hit join battleground.  You’ve gotten in to a battleground.  And amazingly enough, the game looks like it might start even.  10v10, 15v15 or 40v40 resepectively.  (If it’s lopsided, everything here goes out the window, but if it’s lopsided, you’re already looking to afk out, and I don’t blame you at all.)


The first thing to do is make sure you have the appropriate escape skills fairly close by, and you know how and when to use them.  Blink, Frost Nova, Blasy Wave, Dragon’s Breath etc. are wonderful spells.  However, their use in PvP changes somewhat from their use in PvE.  (We’ll go into that in a bit)


Second, look for some folks to partner with.  A mage running around alone in a battleground is a target.  A mage running around with a warrior and a warlock is a killer.  This point cannot be overemphasized.  At least 75% of people, when they see a group charging at them will pick the most dangerous person to kill first.  And, sadly, that’s not you.  Not in a battleground.


So, while they’re beating down the warrior, or trying to escape from the warlock’s various fears, or trying to escape from the rogue’s stuns, you kill them.  Fairly simple equation.


Third, never make yourself obvious.  Yes, there are points in Alterac Valley when charging through to the Stormpike Aid Station and spamming Arcane Explosion will get followers and get the horde closer to taking it, but as a rule, you do not want to be seen.  You have great range (If you’re a raiding mage, you have potentially the best range in the game).  Take advantage of it.  Sit back behind the warrior and the warlock, and hammer them with fireballs till they scream for mercy.


If they have to search to find you, then run closer in order to hit you, odds are good they’ll be dead before they can do much to you.






What you trarget and how you bring it down is what’s going to make the biggest difference in how you do.  Yes, you can run into the middle of a big group of mobs and fire off a Blast Wave, and start spamming Arcane Explosion.  You may even wind up on top of the damage charts by doing so.  But will it really kill anyone?  Will it accomplish something?  If yes, ok.  If no, then don’t bother.  You’re not there to get yourself killed (and that will get you killed)


If you’re properly back from the front lines, your most likely targets initially are going to be melee classes.  Feel free to find the big nasty warriors and paladins and hammer them with Fireballs.  Keep an eye out beyond that melee area though to see who’s targeting your warriors and paladins.


Once you have a picture of the larger environment around the combat, seek ways to make yourself useful.  You are very versatile, even in a battleground.  If you can sneak (HA) around towards their healer and sheep him, everyone will thank you for it once the fight’s over.  (Or at least they will if they notice that there’s a healer at all.  Which many don’t)


Combat Tactics


Much like a boss fight, if you can, wait a second or two to let everyone settle into their targets.  Once they have targets, if you hit them, they have to search for you.  The key here is, don’t wait too long.  Aggro doesn’t exist.  You just want to make sure that people don’t see you.  If they do, they’ll target you, and you then go into self-preservation mode.


Scorch vs. Fireball.  This is an interesting debate.  Scorch has less cast time, thus making it more likely you’ll get the spell off in the heat of battle, but Fireball will do more damage.  Unless someone’s getting healed (and if they are, you have the wrong target) a player shouldn’t last long enough for you to get the full Scorch debuff on them and then hit them with a Fireball.  Therefore, if you’re being attacked, or expect to be attacked, hit them with Scorch.  You have a better chance of getting the spell off.  If you’re at a good range, and expect to be able to cast uninterrupted, hit them with Fireball.


Polymorph.  This is one of your best resources, and many mages forget to use it.  Of course, a great deal of this is because everyone else ignores it.  But nonetheless, Polymorph can be a great spell in PvP.  Target their healers.  In most good battleground groups, someone will be healing.  That person isn’t a dps threat, so you don’t need to worry about killing him, but it’s inconvenient to let him keep casting.  Therefore, sheep him.  Feel free to set him as your focus so you can keep him down.  Remember polymorph lasts a sadly short time in PvP, so recast fairly regularly.  And when you get the fourth cast on him, you might as well switch to him and kill him since that’s all you get.


Make liberal use of Spellsteal.  Steal their buffs, particularly any healing buffs they get.  Any time you see renews or Lifeblooms on a target, steal them.  You can always use the healing in a battleground, and they need it far less than you.  (They must, or they’d have rolled a character on your side to begin with)  Also, Fortitude, Divine Spirit, various paladin blessings, etc. are wonderful things to steal.


Escape Tactics


Despite everything you do, there will be times when you’re targeted.  When that happens, you can do one of two things.  You can die gracefully or you can take them with you.  The key to taking them with you is to be able to escape from whatever fear, stun, or incapacitation they plan to put on you. 


Everyone wants to fear you, stun you, and keep you from casting.  Warriors will Intercept, Paladins will Hammer of Justice, Warlocks will Howl of Terror, Rogues will Cheap Shot, etc.  Everyone’s got one.  (Hey, where’s ours?  But that’s another issue)


Fortunately, you have several escape options, with various benefits and disadvantages.


Blast Wave.  This is, not surprisingly, one of your best escape options.  While it won’t freeze them like Frost Nova, it will slow them down considerably, which is nice.  Sadly, Frost Nova breaks on just about any damage whatsoever, and this will stick with them.  Paired with blink, this gives you range and that most precious commodity when you’re in combat:  time.


Dragon’s Breath.  Again, the disorientation is a good thing.  It will break on damage, but you’re more interested in getting away when you’re using this one.  This spell is the better choice when you have someone with you who can get in and melee them.  Otherwise, after it wears off, they’re right back after you.  Use this and either escape, or hit them with something large.


Frost Nova.  For most mages, this is a first choice.  It’s the fastest cooldown, and therefore the one most likely to be available.  However, it’s entirely too easy to escape from in my opinion.  Use this as a last resort.


Blink.  When you’re stunned, this is one of your only ways out of it.  20 yards of immediate distance, and a clearing of whatever stun happens to be on you.  That’s the good news.  The bad news is whatever stunned you is still out there.  And more than likely, coming right for you.  Therefore, take the time to use some kind of effect to slow them, stop them, or disorient them.  Buy yourself time to get a more powerful spell in the air at them.


Ice Block.  This is your fear/stun break of last resort.  Generally the only one that is useful on fears.  This will also clear all those obnoxious warlock debuffs they toss on you while you’re running around.  Therefore, that is the best time to use it.  A warrior’s Intimidating Shout will do nothing to you except make you run around (and generally out of melee range.  This doesn’t seem like a bad thing).  Same thing with a priest’s Psychic Scream.  Unless you’re being killed while feared, save the Ice Block.


Once you’re out of the stun, remember to strafe.  You want as much speed as you can get, and that means moving forward or strafing.  Moving forward will be a wonderful thing, but that’s typically called running away.  (A nice idea if you’ve got teammates ahead of you, but that’s not something you can count on.)  Alternatively, strafe, turn quickly and hit them.


Coming Next:  Battleground specific PvP.  Tactics and Strategies


~ by Jack Shot on August 5, 2008.

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