Since we're more or less holding off on revamping the TGMPE guide for Cata until we've actually reached 85, I've gone ahead and revamped a single section that most folks might find useful right when Dec 7th hits(and before as they wait for new content.
Edit: Oops. Forgot to post this on the sock. If any of our other sticky writers here have suggestions, feel free to PM me and I'll add them in.
Part III: What to Spec as You Level
I'm not going to be giving you an easy way out here. You will not be getting a step by step guide on what talents to pick in what order. Instead, as I am a big fan of making you think for yourselves, I'm going to teach you how to decide what talents are good for your own leveling progression.
First: Picking a Talent Specialization
First of all, you're going to need to look at what you get for going down a particular path even before you've chosen your first talent point. All three give you more damage for spells from that school, so that part easily sorts itself out. However, now you have to look at the spell it gives you.
In Arcane, you get Arcane Barrage. It's a spell that gives you fairly decent damage at a reasonable cost. What's better is that since it has no cast time, you can use it on the move, which can be quite useful to maintain your distance from foes.
The major downside to it is that it has a 4 second cooldown, meaning you're going to be sitting on your hands waiting on the cooldown quite often if you don't weave it with other spells. Sometimes you'll have your Arcane Missiles proc to use in that between time, but sometimes you won't. This likely means you'll be weaving it with Frostbolts, partially to keep up Torment the Weak if you've talented for it, partially because you simply have nothing else you can do at the moment(though I guess you could also use Scorches if you desire).
It also gets relegated to situational status once you get Arcane Blast, being used only when you don't feel like using the mana for a full Arcane Blast burn and don't have Arcane Missiles procced, though even then you might find yourself weaving Frostbolts in with Arcane Blast instead for Torment the Weak damage(at least until you have Slow/Nether Vortex). Or when you're moving. Nonetheless, it's still a solid ability that will get you along until you pick up your bread and butter spell later.
Ah, Pyroblast. Likely one of the most iconic spells of the mage class, even since vanilla. Few veteran mages cannot recall some fun times with their pyroblast. With its high damage, relatively high mana cost and additional DoT damage, it's almost the fire mage's whole modus operandi condensed into a single spell, when you think about it.
In the beginning, its high cost and relatively long cast time relegate it to a "once a fight" role, usually as an opener. And that's really just fine. Opening with a pyro before your enemy has noticed you and following it with a barrage of fireballs, scorches and fireblasts is really the fire mage way. Shock and awe, baby.
Eventually, you'll likely pick up Hot Streak, which does some interesting things for Pyroblast by giving your procs that completely remove the two biggest problems with Pyroblast, its cost and its cast time. This takes it from being only a spell used to open and makes it a powerhouse of an ability you'll use all the time. Just try to resist yelling "BOOM, baby!" every time it crits unless the people you live with are forgiving.
Puddles, your faithful and loyal Water Elemental, is your reward for going Frost. By itself, its damage might seem to you to be lackluster, but if that's what you feel, you're likely just not looking at it in the right light. The damage this dripping force of death is doing is completely cost free to you, as it has its own mana pool and cast bar, meaning you can simultaneously be doing your own damage as well.
But as usual, it gets even better. He not only adds some damage, he adds a couple levels of enemy control to the mix. The first is the Freeze ability, which gives you the option to root enemies and keep them from beating on you. The second is its ability to generate its own aggro independent from yours, meaning you can use him to draw fire from one add when you pull a group, allowing you to focus on dealing with fewer foes for a time. Add in a polymorph and suddenly a three mob pull becomes one on one for you. Alternatively, you sic him on a single large foe, run to a distance and pull the enemy off of him before he dies, then use iceblock when the enemy reaches you to make it go back to Puddles, only to release the iceblock before it reaches him, causing the enemy to come back your way.
And when you get down to it, frustrating your enemies by controlling their ability to move is really what frost is about.
Second: What makes a good leveling talent?
A good leveling talent has at least one of the three following properties.
1)Control - It gives you a greater ability to control what your enemy is doing. Or it gives you a bit more control over your own abilities or mana pool. Less downtime means faster leveling.
2)Burst - The talent gives you faster, harder hits, with an emphasis on damage in quick "bursts" optimal. Generic Increases in damage(such as present from "Fire Power" are inferior for this to talents that give greater chances to crit such as "Critical Mass", "Arcane Potency" and "Shatter" as well as to talents that increase the damage of your criticals such as "Ignite".
3)Survive - Deaths do not help you level faster. Anything that makes it easier for you to stay alive has at least some emphasis on survival. Many control talents will also gain points for survival as well.
Third: Are there talents that have aspects of each?
Hell yes. Some of the greatest leveling talents include all three. Though the absolute best is when you can have a multi-talent synergy going.
Fourth: Synergy? What do you mean by that?
There are multiple talents that are decent on their own, but when two or more are combined, they become phenomenal. Here's an example:
Shatter - Excellent Burst talent for frost mages. You get a rather impressive increased chance to crit on enemies when you have them frozen with your Frost Nova or Elemental's freeze ability. Not only that, but your frostbolts also do more damage to frozen targets, to boot! But it gets better. Add in Fingers of Frost, and now you get even more chances for higher crit shots and more powerful frostbolts! But wait, as Billy Mays might have said, there's more! You could also pick up Improved Cone of Cold for additional freezing ability to exploit Shatter even more.
"But what if the enemy is immune to being frozen and I'm just not proccing enough Fingers of Frost to really take advantage of Shatter?" you might find yourself asking. Well, there's a talent for that possibility too! By picking up Improved Freeze, you can now give yourself two Fingers of Frost charges whenever you want, limited only by the cooldown on Freeze. With those you can Shatter away!
And that's what I mean by Synergy. There are many sets of talents that function like this, including the Torment the Weak/Slow/Nether Vortex trio in Arcane and the strangely effective Molten Shields/Cauterize survivability combo in Fire. Those are by no means the only ones, so I urge you to seriously think about how each talent plays with every other one and find combos that work well for you.
Fifth: Ok, seriously, just give me a step by step leveling talent build.
Nope, sorry, ain't gonna happen.
Sixth: Ok, then how about Glyphs? What do you suggest?
As with everything else, I highly suggest you experiment. Find what works best for your own playstyle. But that doesn't mean I won't give you a suggestion to get you started.
Pick up the Slow Fall glyph. Trust me, nothing sucks more than jumping off a cliff to escape an enemy(or simply to save time running down some stairs) and realizing you're out of Light Feathers.
Edited, Nov 27th 2010 2:15am by Poldaran
Edited, Nov 27th 2010 2:16am by Poldaran
Edited, Feb 5th 2011 12:08am by Poldaran