Mage PvE Gear Sets: Pre-TBC

The gear sets is what defines the roles of the class you are playing. From the stats that are given on each piece of gear, to the set bonuses of each regalia. Even how the gear looks like, they are tailored for your class for the most part. Over the years, as the game changes, so do the gear sets. Lets take a trip down memory lane, and look at how the Mage sets were in Vanilla WoW (pre-TBC), and how they have evolved.

Tier 0

The regalia gave us the “look” of a Mage. We had the “look” of intelligence and royalty. We were the casters in a fancy looking dress, throwing out bolts of Fire, Ice, and Arcane.

The Magister’s Set had only regular stats on them, and it told us that Mages only had three stats to pick up: Intellect, Spirit, and Stamina. It told us that Mages have very little armor, low health, and lots of Mana. We also had a decent amount of Spirit but with little to no use for it. The only use for it at the time was Evocation, which was also an 11 point talent in the Arcane Tree, and Arcane Meditation, which required investing 20 points into the Arcane Tree. At that time Arcane Meditation took 5 points for 15% Mana Regeneration.

The Set Bonuses gave us a little push in the right direction. The 2 piece bonus was useless at the time when we would die in 2-3 hits anyways, but the 4 piece bonus gave us one of our most important stat, Spell Damage. The 6 piece bonus gave us a chance to live after getting hit once or twice, and taught us to be mobile and “kite” things. The 8 piece bonus gave us our first look at spell resistance. Nothing really ground breaking, but these were some stats that we were not used to seeing on our “Green ______ of the Eagle”.

Tier 0.5

The Sorcerer’s Set is basically a recolored version of the Magister’s Set, but a little less colorful and fancy looking. Also in this set, the Gloves go over the sleeves of the Robes. I don’t know why some gloves do this, but I don’t like the look of it when they do.

To obtain these set pieces, you have to do some quest chains to “upgrade” the pieces of your Magister’s Set. A detailed look at these quests can be found at They are some costly and lengthy quests.

The stats on each piece has been improved greatly from the Magister’s Set. Spell Damage has been added as a regular stat, and this set introduces 3 more Mage stats: Spell Hit, Spell Crit, and Spell Penetration. The Set Bonuses for this regalia is the same as the Magister’s Set, but in reverse order. Mages were now given more Spell Damage, a way to make our Spells crit more often, and our Spells resist less.

Tier 1

The Arcanist Set was our first raid set, with each set piece only obtainable from the first 40-man raid, Molten Core. The Arcanist Set looks like it was made for royalty, made for a prince or princess. In fact, during the time I was raiding for my Arcanist Set, our Mages referred to this set as the “Ice Princess” set.

We were given more Spell Damage, more Spell Crit, but our Spell Hit stayed the same. We were also given a new stat: MP5. The amount of Spirit stayed the same, and we got more Intellect and Stamina. Also added was Fire and Shadow Resistance. This was mainly due to the fact that these set pieces drop in Molten Core, which pretty much all the bosses did some sort of Fire or Shadow Damage.

The Set Bonuses are different this time, and bonuses were given only at 3, 5, and 8 pieces. 3 piece bonus gave us more Spell Damage, and the 5 piece bonus gave us Spell Penetration. The 8 piece bonus was finally a bonus worth getting, 15% threat reduction on our Spells.

Tier 1.5

The Illusionist’s Set is also known as the Zul’Gurub Set. Zul’Gurub was added as a content patch in Patch 1.7. The set looks ridiculous and doesn’t look very Mage-like at all. It is like Blizzard picked random looking gear out of a hat. This patch also introduced the loot “token system” where a token drops which 3 classes could use to turn in for their set piece. It is the system we still use today.

The Illusionist’s Set was a small upgrade from the Arcanist Set, with each piece being slightly better than the previous. The unique thing about the Illusionist’s Set is the inclusion of the Neck and Trinket slots, as set pieces. This allowed for better mixing and matching different gear sets for different bonuses.

However, the Set Bonuses for this set also suffered from some randomness. 2 piece bonus is some Spell Damage, which is normal. 3 piece bonus reduced the Mana cost of Arcane Intellect and Arcane Brilliance, and the 5 piece bonus reduced the cast time on Flamestrike by 0.5 seconds. Both of these set bonuses had been mocked and ridiculed by Mages since then.

Tier 2

The Netherwind Set was given a first glimps when the Helm dropped off of Onyxia, and the Leggings dropped off of Ragnaros. It was until Patch 1.6 when Blackwing Lair was introduced in the content patch, that the rest of the set pieces were obtainable. The gear went back to looking more Mage-like, and this time we looked more like Wizards of Magic. There are two floating balls of light on your shoulders and one right in the middle of your forehead. The only thing I didn’t like is the way the helm looks, and how character’s facial features and hair clips through the helm.

The stats on the Netherwind Set was a big increase in Spell Damage and Spell Crit, but lost all its Spell Hit and Spell Penetration. There were still some MP5 stats on the Netherwind Set. There was more Fire and Shadow Resistance, as well as some Frost, Arcane and Nature Resistance. This helped in Blackwing Lair, where there was a lot of different Magics thrown around. The biggest thing about this set however, is the Set Bonuses, and all of them are good.

The 3 piece bonus reduced the threat generated by all your nuke spells. The 5 piece bonus increased the radius of your Arcane Explosion, Flamestrike, and Blizzard by 25%. Then you have one of the best set bonuses ever, the 8 piece bonus which gave you a 10% chance on casting your main nuke, that your next spell cast will be instant. This Set Bonus alone made it very difficult to break up the Netherwind Set, and I actually leveled from 60 to around 68 without replacing any of it.

Tier 2.5

The Enigma Set, also known as the Temple of Ahn’Qiraj Set, was obtainable with the release of Ahn’Qiraj in the content patch of Patch 1.9. Ahn’Qiraj was known as the “Bug Instances” and the Enigma Set definitely looks like it was taken from there. One thing that bugged me (haha) was that the Boots looked more like Hobbit hair growing on your feet.

The Enigma Set brought back what the Netherwind Set got rid of, Spell Hit and Spell Penetration, and managed to match the same amount of Spell Crit, despite only being a 5 piece set. The 3 piece bonus gave us a 30% chance to avoid spell interruption during Blizzard. The 5 piece bonus gave us a +40% Spell Hit bonus for 20 seconds every time one of our Spells get resisted. Spell Hit has become a very important stat for Mages.

Tier 3

The Frostfire Set became available with the release of Naxxramas in the content patch of Patch 1.11. The Frostfire Set is the last Mage Set before the Burning Crusade Expansion was released. The way the set looks just screams, “Frost Mage”. There are ice crystals on the shoulders, with icicles coming down off of it.

The Frostfire Set used the “token system” that was similar with how the Illusionist’s Set was handled, but you also needed random trash drops, as well as craftable items in order to turn in the token for the set piece. The only exception was the Ring, which dropped off the final bosses in the instance. The Tier 3 Set is also the biggest set in the game with 9 pieces total. I was able to get the Sandals, Gloves, and Ring. I wish I could find some people to help me get the rest before they are gone forever with the Wrath of the Lich King expansion.

The Frostfire Set dropped MP5 from the Mage Set, and gave us more Spell Damage, Spell Hit, Spell Crit, and Spell Penetration. Spirit was also reduced on the Frostfire Set. The Frostfire Set also goes back to the 2/4/6/8 piece bonuses like the Magister’s and Sorcerer’s Set.

The 2 piece bonus reduced the cooldown of Evocation by 1 minute. Evocation by this time had been made a standard Mage Spell as opposed to a 11 point Arcane Talent. The 4 piece bonus gave us a chance when struck by a harmful spell with Mage Armor active, that it would increase our Spell Resistance against that school of Magic by 35 for 30 seconds. This was very useful for Sapphiron in Naxxramas, who has a Frost Aura that periodically does Frost Damage. The 6 piece bonus gave you a 20% chance to increase the Spell Damage of your next spell by 200. The 8 piece bonuse gave you a 15% chance to make your next Spell cast cause no threat.


You can see how Blizzard has been changing the stats needed by Mages, and how they differ from one set to another. Saw how we went from MP5 to Spell Hit and Spell Penetration. We also see how Set Bonuses help define the Mage roles. Bonuses which helps single target DPS, bonuses for AoE, bonuses which reduces our threat, and even bonuses which increases our DPS time.

I have also finally changed my Poll! You can vote for your favorite Pre-TBC Mage PvE Gear Set on the left sidebar. For either: stats, bonuses, looks, or a combination of all, make your pick. I personally like the Netherwind Regalia (without the helm shown). I occasionally still switch to it every now in then when hanging out in Ironforge.

Next time we’ll take a look a the Mage PvE Gear Sets in TBC, or maybe the Mage PvP Gear Sets in Pre-TBC. Depends on what mood I’m in :)

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  • magi said:

    I’m gonna have to go with Sorcerer’s set based on just looks. I really like the way it looks.

  • Aurdon said:

    Awesome post. Its a real treat to look back in great detail how far sets have come. I will say though, I think there was an extremely brief time where T2 dropped in MC more then just the pants off of Rag. This was before BWL was added of course and MC was the only End Game.

    Very nice post. I think I might have to go with Tier 1 though for no other reason then its the only PreTBC set I collected everything from. Its still fun to run an AV with it on now and then and see if I get any whispers asking why I have such low stats.

  • Geiela said:

    Love/hate over Magisters. Like the colours, but reminds me too much of a Belf.
    My vote goes to Frostfire T3. A friend of mine has the full set and it just looks awesome :)


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