There’s not a single more quintessential caster than a Mage. Anyone with a brilliant mind can find themselves delving into the world’s mysteries in the pursuit of knowledge and power. Mages tap into the raw magical energy of the ley lines that connect all of Azeroth and fling spells like no other.
Dive further in the mystic Arcane arts and choose between setting the world ablaze with ever-burning Fire, or turning the battlefield into a frigid, frozen wasteland with Frost. Regardless of your choice, mages are the master of magic damage and consistently one of the best DPS classes in WoW.
Naturally, you’re here to squeeze out of every point of damage you can get and to ensure you don’t die. This week, we’re going over the best races for mages in WoW: Shadowlands. We have iconic mage options for Alliance and Horde players alike, and will be covering all types of gameplay.
Let’s get started!
Table of Contents
Best Race for PVE Mages: Void Elf/Nightborne
It’s unsurprising that some of the most ancient races in Azeroth are the best races for mages. Both the Void Elves and Nightborne come from a long lineage of casters, have sordid history of dealings with demons, and are new members to their respective factions.
Alliance: Void Elves
On the Alliance side, the Void Elves hold the top spot largely due to their racial passive, Preternatural Calm. Unlike every other race, Void Elves suffer no spell casting pushback on taking damage. Given that there are plenty of fights with random adds and passive AOE damage going on, this ability is incredibly good for ensuring your spells come out without delay and consistently.
Plus, Entropic Embrace is a fantastic passive that periodically buffs you damage output every 60s by 5%. Given how most mages’ major cooldowns are two-minute cooldowns, they should be able to line them up rather nicely with this passive’s proc.
Additionally, while Spatial Rift is a rather situational ability, Void Elf mages can combine it with Alter Time and Blink for some really cheeky repositioning during certain boss fights and mechanics to cheese them.
As for the Horde, the Nightborne reign supreme as the best race for mages due to their Magical Affinity passive. Providing a straight up 1% increase to all magical damage dealt is huge, given that all your damage as a mage is magical and that most racial bonuses give only 0.5% boost to performance overall.
Further augmenting this is their other racial Arcane Pulse. Offering a rather strong AOE blast that DOTs up enemies and slows them by 50% for free is rather nice, given that mages want to escape from being wailed on. The only downside is that it’s on a three-minute cooldown, so plan ahead to maximize its usage.
Best Race for PVP Mages: Human/Orc
Nothing symbolizes the conflict between the Alliance and the Horde better than Humans vs. Orcs. That’s reflected heavily in PVP, even for mages, due to the two races having abilities that reduce/negate common CC effects.
For Humans, it’s hard to give up Will to Survive as a free stun cleanser. It frees up one of your trinket slots to run something besides the standard Gladiator’s Medallion. Given that Patch 9.2 added more unique PVP trinkets, this is rather nice.
It also helps that the 2% bonus from all sources to secondary stats is quite nice for just increasing your performance across the board. Especially since versatility is so critical to surviving/destroying your enemy.
As for the Orcs, they’re considered the best race for mages in PVP due to Hardiness reducing all stun effects by 20%. Given that mages are often targeted and locked down for their burst potential, this can be huge in buying you that split second to escape or retaliate.
Blood Fury is also just straight up free damage for 15s on a reasonable two-minute cooldown. Absolutely perfect for lining up with your cooldowns’ active windows and nuking down your foes when their survival abilities are spent.
Best Race for Lore Mages: Night Elf/Nightborne
Alliance: Night Elf
The world of Azeroth as we know it today is largely due to the ancient Night Elf noble society, known as the Highborne. Led by Queen Azshara, the Highborne were lured into a deal to summon Sargeras’ Burning Legion using the Well of Eternity as both a source of power and a gateway.
However, to no one’s surprise, consorting with demons tends to end poorly. Extremely poorly. The summoning disrupted the energy flowing to the Well, cutting off the power source of the ancient Night Elf empire.
Without the sustaining power of the Well of Eternity, the land itself shattered and the very immortality that the elves prided themselves on was stripped away. Elven-kind diverged into the three main races we know today — the Night Elves, the High Elves (whose majority would splinter off into Blood Elves), and the Nightborne.
For Night Elves, arcane magic became reviled and blamed for the catastrophic events that destroyed their way of life. To be a Night Elf mage was unthinkable — an act that suggested nothing was learned from Azshara falling prey to the seduction of more arcane power. Night Elf mages lived in exile or splintered off to become the High Elves. They still endured and studied in the event that their knowledge would be needed once more.
With the Cataclysm awakening Deathwing and reshaping the world, Night Elves were once again permitted take up the arcane arts. If you want to be one of the first to answer the call and rediscover what allowed the Night Elves to come to dominance so long ago, then step forward as a Night Elf mage.
As for the Nightborne, they’re a living relic from the ancient ways. Instead of fleeing when the Sundering occurred, the leader of the city of Suramar created a massive barrier over the city to isolate it from the world. With a font of power called the Nightwell established in their city, the Nightborne remained isolated for 10,000 years.
With little divergence in practices since the ancient Night Elf empire, one could say they’re frozen in time as representatives of a bygone era. However, their reliance on the Nightwell has changed them physically and turned them into their own species of elf.
Unfortunately, the Burning Legion’s third assault on Azeroth would result in the city’s barrier falling. With their backs against the wall, most of the city and its leader chose to side with the demons to preserve themselves.
Yet the denizens of Azeroth managed to oust the demons and the traitorous leader, and with time and a closer connection to the Blood Elves, the Nightborne came to join the Horde. With their continued reliance on the arcane arts during their isolation, the Nightborne are second to none in their mastery of magic. To be a Nightborne mage is to be one of the most ancient practioneers in all of Azeroth.
Best Looking Race for Mage: Gnome/Blood Elf
As for the Alliance, we’re going to have to go with Gnomes. Yes, we know that’s an incredibly divisive choice for some players, but hear us out. When you’re tiny and only come up the ankles of most races, martial prowess probably isn’t your race’s strong suit. Thankfully, magic doesn’t care about how big you are, just how much talent and knowledge you have.
With their affinity for learning and studying, gnomes make for ideal mages. You can also try to be as amazing as the mighty Milhouse Manastorm — the greatest gnome mage to have ever lived (or at least the most memorable). There’s something beautiful about watching a tiny being unleash devastating storms of fire and ice to slaughter all their enemies.
Also, if you’re interested in PVP, there are few things more enraging to your foes than being killed by a gnome. Relish in their salty tears as you kite them to death and dance on their corpse.
Horde: Blood Elves
Unsurprisingly, Blood Elves are still the best-looking race for mages on the Horde side. Few things reflect power and poise as well as an aristocratic educated upbringing and gold inlaid robes made from the finest silk. That, and they’re so smug with their long lives and penchant for magic — fitting for those who look down on the peasants swinging sharpened sticks.
Plus, you can always have a mana wyrm out as your companion pet to really tie into the opening cinematic of Burning Crusade if you’re all about playing a mana addicted caster. While you can’t get quite the hunched over mana-overdosed aesthetic that the Wretched have, you can roleplay as a mage teetering on the brink.
Best Races for Mages in WoW Classic and Burning Crusade: Gnome/Undead
For those familiar with Classic, it should come as no surprise that Gnomes are considered the best Alliance race for mages. As mana still requires careful management during this era, their Expansive Mind passive provides a much appreciated boost to Intellect. This means you have more mana and have a higher crit chance (which equals more damage).
Given how debilitating some movement impairing effects are in Classic/BC, their Escape Artist ability is fantastic for escaping situations where Blink isn’t a viable option. Especially given that the time to die in Classic tends to be far quicker than in retail…
As for the Horde, we have to go with the Undead as the best Horde race for mages in WoW Classic. This is largely due to none of the Horde races having a fantastic racial abilities for mage. The only other contender is Troll, with their Berserking ability for faster casting.
Due to how popular and prevalent PVP is in Classic, the Undead’s Will of the Forsaken is just too good to pass up. Fear effects are incredibly powerful, as damage isn’t guaranteed to break them during this era. Given how long some of those last, it’s a death sentence for most except the Undead.
While Blood Elf mages in Burning Crusade specifically had access to Mana Tap as a special racial ability, the performance is rather lackluster and does not outperform Trolls in PVE. The mana regeneration and buff removal can be nice in PVP, but the Undead are still generally seen as better.
Join the High Ground
And that’s it for our take on the best races for mages in World of Warcraft. If you have a different opinion or any comments that you want to share, subscribe and leave a comment below!