The reason for my decision to roll a mage a little more than a year ago was quite unclear to be honest. I had read a little too many fantasy books, what else? Actually I didn't have much to base it on. I guess it was a lot about hazard. Am I happy about my choice? Yes, I guess I'm pretty happy. I could probably have picked worse. Would I do the same decision today, with my current knowledge? Maybe. If there's any reader that is thinking about rolling a mage I'll give you a quick evaluation here:
Beginner friendly - and challenging
Mage is a good class for a beginner to pick I think. Throw a ball. The mob is hurt. The mob die. You drink. Repete. But to become a really god mage it takes quite a lot of thinking. If you want to get out the most possible damage per time and mana you put into it, you have to learn about mana management, learn to time your cooldowns with other classes, learn to do the right thing in a minute to learn, a lifetime to master.
When I first learned the spell I was a bit disappointed. Hey, you can only make one sheep at a time,what different does it make when you have a whole bunch of mobs to take care of? But as time passes you understand that this is one of the most powerful cc:s in the game. At higher levels the sheep lasts for an entire minute - and best of all: you have no cooldown. You just resheep - over and over again, as long as needed. Brilliant in five man instances, but also very handy when you're soloing and can take time for bandaging yourself or having a mana gem before grabbing the last mob.
Your own food crate
You're self sufficient when it comes to food and drinks. It's lovely never having to calculate how many stacks you may need to bring to a far away corner of the world. You don't even have to make a fire to make the food. It can hardly get any easier.
It isn't as good as the beaming device in Star Trek, but it's not far from it. It's gold to be able to shorten your travelling time for the price of a few silver for the rune, especially when you're levelling and the the quest chains take you from one island to the other, in all sorts of directions. As a mage you get a bit spoiled and you don't realize it until you try playing an non teleporting class. Then you know.
A lovely button for panic sitations that frost mages have enjoyed for a long while but that we fire mages got only recently. Of course you can't be very useful when you're stuck in piece of ice, but you win a few seconds and can give things a second thought - hoping that luck or someone in the party will come to your rescue.
I never grow tired of being able to jump away from the mobs in this miniature teleportation or to be able to speed up a bit, running back in an instance after a wipe. Its fun and looks cool.
Being a mage you're quite popular when it comes to instance playing. You're definitely not in the class of a healer or a tank, but at least you're not in the very bottom of the ranking list. Many people want a mage for the sheep, a decent dps and for free food and drink.
They won't blame you
Being a mage you rarely play the leading character. In Gruul you're supposed to tank, but otherwise there are no huge expectations on your performance. You're more of a background person, one soldier among the others. You're supposed to make decent dps, not getting aggro from the tank. No more, no less. If anything go wrong it's probably the healer or the tank that is blamed, no matter how unfair it is. As a mage you can generally go free from uncomfortable attention.
Of course you can swear at only being able to wear cloth, that gives such a lousy protection. On the other hand it's much cheaper to patch some simple clothes than to engage into blacksmithing. In spite of dying many times, my repair bills after an instance are nothing if you compare it to the poor tank.
Not so good
As nice and natural it is being able to offer a portal after finishing an instance, as unpleasant is it to get all those whispers in Stormwind, people wanting you to make portals over and over again. The worst thing is that if you fall for it and make a portal for someone, you instantly have ten new requests to deal with - you have made people aware of that there's a living taxi driver in the middle of the square. Of course you can ignore the whispers, but all that pink text is shining into my eyes and finally I have to have a look at it, in order not to miss calls from friends.
Your biggest asset in the game is time. The gold you have, the epic gear you're wearing ar after all just a result form how you've chosen to spend your time. Mages are expected to spend their time making bread and water for others. It seems that other players seriously believe that we think this is great fun, the thing we want to do most of all in the game. It's one thing if you're dealing with guildies, friends or party members. I love to share my food and drinks with them. But to slave for total strangers doesn't make anyone happy.
To be a mage isn't quite as being a hunter, but it's not far from it. There are thirteen of us in a dozen and if you're thinking about making a career in the game you can hardly expect the top guilds of the server standing in a queue, begging you to join their guilds.
You're not a star
If you want to get general admiration from the public, feel that you're making big difference and that your participation has meant a big difference for the success of the raid, the mage class isn't the first thing to pick. You'lll rarely - or at least not without big efforts - top the damage lists, you'll se yourself passed by rogues and warlocks. In Karazhan your cc is suddenly useless, while others can keep on shackling, banishing, fearing and trapping. If several players die during the fight and a druid is there for battleressing, the mage isn't the obvious choice. According to Blizzard the mage class is right now supposed to be specialists in making good aoe. But that's not enough. It's no hazard that raiding mages for quite a while have been wining immensly in all sorts of forums.
All those corpse runs
Graygraygray is the world to you, quite often. One hit and you're down. Being a mage you're visiting the graveyard much more often than others.
The water drinking
Sometimes there's a bit too much of water drinking in order to stay fun, at least while you're levelling. Kill one or two mobs. Drink. Over and over again. In instances you allways feel like a drag anchor, keeping the whole party back by the constant demand of drinking. You don't do it to be mean, but you still fee how the whole group impatiently is drumming their fingers, waiting for you to get mana back.
A mage is a mage is a mage
Being a mage you can't do much else but being a dps machine. I can't help getting a bit envious thinking of palas, shammys and druids that can vary their role when they feel like a change (even though it may take them some gold and new gear). And priests at least can switch between shadow and holy. But a mage is a mage. You throw balls, no matter if they're done by fire, ice or are generally magic. This is my standard rotation for a boss fight:
1. Make five scorches in order to get the boss vulnerable for fire
2. Throw eight fire balls. Throw in one scorch to keep up the debuff.
3. Repeat until the boss is down. Interrupt from time to time if you're risking to take aggro.
It's no wonder it sometimes feels just a little bit repetitive....
This was about the pros and cons of being a mage. In this evaluation the good sides are dominating. After all I love my mage, Larisa is and will remain my main. She's fragile like few others, but she's got a hell lot of dps when things are running as they should. A creature that is constantly touching the limits. To kill or to get killed, heaven or hell. We'll see what Blizzard has planned for the mage class in the expansion. Myself, I'll stick to it, whatever happens. If you've once got a mage heart there's no way to let it go.
37 minutes ago