So how's everything? Did you make it through patch day unscathed? Did you log in, like me, and find that your Mage's face, forearms, and feet were gone, and there was a hole through his chest (pro tip: upgrade your video card drivers more than once every three years)? Are you running out of mana at an outrageous clip? Are your crit numbers from Molten Armor up or down? Did your guild manage to make it into Ulduar yet, and if so, did you manage to snag any phat loot? Did you dual spec your Mage so he can now both DPS and DPS? I went Frostfire/Firefrost, myself. When triple-specs hit, I'm taking a Frarcano-fire spec. Mark my words.
All in all, I'd say 3.1 wasn't too bad. We have some new glyphs to play with, the Argent Tournament is good, clean fun, our mounts can swim, and we have a whole new batch of loot-pinatas to blow up. Our DPS seems to be down a bit, but we're still beating Warlocks, so I'm not going to mail any angry, expletive-laced letters to Blizzard just yet. I've written them--rest assured--but I'm not yet prepared to actually invest in stamps for them. Those things are like a buck apiece these days.
So now we turn to the third and final installment in our guide to professions for Mages. If you missed them, the first two parts can be found here and here. This week we'll investigate the merits of Blacksmithing, Leatherworking, and Engineering. As an added bonus, we'll take a quick peek at the three secondary professions and enumerate the reasons for investing in them. Yes, even though you can conjure Strudel from the very air around you with but a word and a snap of your fingers, you still need to learn how to cook
For Mages, this profession is flat-out horrible for approximately 79.99 levels. Then it becomes completely fantastic.
Nope. This is not a profession you want your Mage to be anchored to while you level him. I'm not kidding, it's godawful. With a few very minor exceptions, Blacksmithing doesn't allow you to craft anything your Mage can even use. Seriously, there are like three Blacksmithing swords/daggers that have stats you even give a crap about. Everything else is mail or plate or a frigging shield or something. You can make skeleton keys, though. That's something.
...And now you can forget everything I just said, because at level 80, Blacksmithing is absolutely stellar. You can make yourself a very nice pre-Naxx dagger, but then again, you don't have to actually be a blacksmith to equip it. The real advantage to this profession at end-game is in a couple little spells that add an extra socket to your gloves and bracers. Only blacksmiths can benefit from these two extra sockets, so if you're looking for a reason to hit the forge, this would be it.
A popular choice among min-maxers is to pair Blacksmithing with Jewelcrafting, allowing you the extra spellpower of the JC-only epic gems and the flexibility of the two bonus BS sockets. The bottom line here is that you can place an extra 38 spellpower's-worth of gems in those two sockets, and you have a lot more options as to which stats you gem for, due to the extra room. If/when the new epic gems get implemented, these extra two sockets become even more valuable.
This is another profession that was obviously intended to be utilized by classes other than Mages. It's tough to recommend this profession, even at end-game. In fact, of all the crafting professions, this is probably the least useful to Mages.
As with Blacksmithing, there simply isn't much here for the leveling Mage. We can't wear leather, so a profession that creates that type of armor almost exclusively is a hard sell.
The main bonus this profession has to offer is a bracer enchant. Fur Lining - Spellpower is admittedly quite nice, offering a whopping 67 spellpower, but it replaces Enchant Bracers - Superior Spellpower, meaning that the net gain is only 37 spellpower. Compared to other professions, Leatherworking just falls short. There simply isn't a good enough reason for a Mage to be a Leatherworker as the profession currently exists.
From a standpoint of pure fun, Engineering shines. Unfortunately, until Blizzard adds in a talent that converts a percentage of your fun into crit rating or whatever, fun simply doesn't help us much. If you choose Engineering, you'll have access to toys and mounts and random conveniences that non-engineers will be jealous of, but non-engineers will have access to spellpower that will have you green with envy. If only you could attach a scope to a wand...
Engineering is and always has been a pretty useful choice for a Mage to level with. As you level, you'll have access to a number of items that will make your life significantly easier. Here are a few of the highlights:
Goggles: These are awesome. As head-gear goes, these will often be the best options available at the level, rife with spellpower and intellect, and most importantly, made of cloth.
Trinkets and random trinket-like items: These will allow you to do a bunch of things that Mages can't usually do, from rezzing people, to summoning a combat pet, to stealthing. Plus, hilarious and deadly side-effects!
Explosives: You may not think that you need more ways to blow things up, but I'm here to tell you that you're wrong, my friend. Dead-wrong. I have two words for you. One is sheep and the other is explosive. In all seriousness, these actually help quite a bit as you level, providing a cheap and powerful AoE/stunning option.
I really don't have enough room here to describe all of the fun stuff you can make with Engineering as you level. The mileage of these gadgets will vary with each player, but suffice it to say that though it's difficult to quantify this profession's value in pure stats, you will be hard pressed to find anything more fun to level with.
Now, if you're weighing your professions from a purely min-maxing point of view, you may as well ignore Engineering. The numbers are just too hard to nail down. It offers a few assorted niceties, specifically:
- A glove haste enchant that is probably the best glove enchant out there for Mages, but not by a whole lot.
- A cloak enchant that is the only way to get spellpower on a cloak in the game currently. It's not much better than the traditional haste enchant, but certainly isn't worse.
- BoP epic goggles. For Mages, it's the hilariously named Visage Liquification Goggles. Prior to Heroic Naxx, these will be just about the best thing out there for your Mage to put on his/her head.
- Random assorted other junk.
The advantages of being an Engineer at end-game are quite useful but incredibly difficult to measure. How do you assign a numerical value to the ability to make your own mailbox? Which is better: 18 spellpower or a giant freaking squirrel? I don't know!
If you're looking to maximize your performance, you should probably pick something else. If you're more interested in creating a tiny robot and then selling him all your trash, pick Engineering. Did I mention the motorcycle? You get to ride around on a motorcycle!
I'm not going to say a whole lot here, except to assert that if you are ignoring any of these professions, as a Mage (or any other class, for that manner), you should reconsider. All of them are worth leveling. Even Fishing.
We're Mages. We just don't have that many ways to get health back. in PvP, especially, the ability to slap a quick bandage on is often invaluable. Keep your First Aid maxed out, guys.
Now, don't get me wrong. I love Strudel as much as the next Mage. It's free, available in massive quantities, tastes great, and is less filling. Still, eating it won't increase your spellpower at all. Sad, but true. If you cook your own food, on the other hand, you'll be able to do just that, or your hit rating, or your crit rating, or your haste rating, or your whatever else you might want to increase. Level Cooking, seriously. Quit mooching off your guildies.
I know it's mind-numbingly boring. I know it takes a million years to max out. I know. But leveling this will help you level Cooking, and allow you multiple options for making some tasty spellpower food. Plus, the new Fishing dailies give fun loot, and you can fish up a turtle and then ride it about town. Bite the bullet, grab your pole, and go fish.
So now that we've spent the last three weeks discussing professions at length, what better way to end than by condensing all of the relevant information into one handy table, rendering the previous five thousand or so words almost entirely moot?
Let's break it down, taking into account only the bonuses each profession offers above what is normally available:
Alchemy: +37 spellpower, and whatever you can squeeze out of your Crazy Alchemist's Potions.
Blacksmithing: +38 spellpower, plus the flexibility of two extra prismatic sockets.
Enchanting: +38 spellpower
Engineering: 340 haste rating for 10 seconds once every minute on your gloves instead of the 28 spellpower you'd normally have there, plus 18 spellpower on your cloak instead of the normal 23 haste you'd otherwise have there, plus a bunch of situational extras from trinkets and such. Seriously, your guess is as good as mine.
Inscription: +37 spellpower, plus you don't have to grind any rep with the Sons of Hodir.
Jewelcrafting: +59 spellpower
Leatherworking: +37 spellpower
Tailoring: Lightweave Embroidery, which now translates to approximately +60 spellpower, assuming it replaces the 23 haste enchant and procs normally.
Mining: 500 health
Herbalism: 2,000 health over 5 seconds, three minute cooldown.
Skinning: +25 crit rating
So, after all of that, what should you choose? Beats me. Do what you want.