The Undergeared Project continues apace – I recently passed the all-important level 40 barrier on my mage, and now get to ride around at something above a slow crawl. Some new spells, the 7th tier of the talent tree, and a bunch of new portals to whisk me around the world.

Although rogues and mages are both DPS classes, their play style is vastly different. My rogue was my first ever character in WoW and as such, I don’t think that I have ever really appreciated quite how tricky it is to play. Leveling a mage and running instances is proving to be substantially easier. I used to think that a rogues ability to sneak through to a quest objective without killing mobs was the greatest thing ever. But the mages abilities tend to outdo that advantage. It is sometimes said that a fire-mage is a glass cannon, in the sense that you’re fine until the mobs actually start to pummel on you. But I find that they rarely get close to me, and even if they do I’m able to survive them pummeling on me just fine. Throw out some push-back attacks and some stuns, freeze them in place, blick away and them some AoE attacks and I really don’t have any problems at all. To be honest, discounting instances, I can’t remember the last time that I died. I also don’t remember my rogue having this sort of fire-power at a similar level. Rogues don’t get any multiple attacks until Blade Flurry, and that only strikes one other opponent.

In 5 mans I am doing some very acceptable damage. I’m finding myself consistantly at the top of the DPS charts, (at the moment I’m putting out just under 200DPS in a 5 man), and this is without any heirloom items. The only weak link that I have found is threat reduction – I don’t have any. From what I can glean Invisibility is the main mage threat reduction for mages, but I don’t get that until level 68. If I pull threat and a mob comes over and starts bashing on me, the only recourse I have is to either duke it out with it or cast ice-block, (which does not reduce threat, it just makes me invulnerable for a while.)

As a mage in a 5 man I have almost zero situational awareness. I stand at the back, on the side, on the railing above, back at the local inn, and I cast my ranged attacks. I also have a servant on hand while this is going on to get me alcholic beverages and neck rubs. Rogues are a completely different kettle of fish. With a rogue you have to time your run in with the tank, or time your stealth run if you’re opening with an attack from stealth, and consistantly position yourself throughout the fight. What a difference it is to have to attack and consistantly move and position yourself.

I am enjoying my mage, but one thing is for sure – all DPS is not created equal. And so far in my experience playing a melee dps is more difficult and more rewarding on a personal level than playing a ranged dps class. I’ll be interested to see the what the difference is like once we get to the end game.