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Every ability, power, or spell belongs to one of seven magic schools which define what can be done to absorb, immunize against, or resist it. Your resistance against five of these schools are displayed in your character information. The magic schools are also used as damage types, but even abilities that don't cause damage have schools.

If you are a caster, and an opponent uses an interrupt effect such as Spell frost iceshock [Counterspell], Ability kick [Kick] or Spell deathknight mindfreeze [Mind Freeze] on you while you're casting a spell, your cast will be interrupted, and you will be prevented from casting any spell in that school for a certain period time. It's good to know what schools your abilities are in so you can switch to another when this happens. It's fairly clear for mages (the school of the spell is the same as the tree it falls under) and warlocks (if it doesn't involve fire, it's Shadow). For other classes, it's not always clear. Fortunately, the tooltip of any damage spell will specify the type of damage it does. Some abilities belong to multi-schools, and behave a little differently.

Warriors are the only class that strictly deals only one damage type, that being Physical. Hunters and shaman have the most varied damage types, with both being able to deal Physical, Nature, Frost, and Fire damage, as well as Arcane and Shadow for hunters.


Ability Physical

Not presented as magic to the user, but treated as a school by the game mechanics. All weapons except wands deal physical damage; the target can use Dodge to avoid the attack, a shield to Block it, the Parry skill to block it with a weapon, and Armor to resist some of the damage if all else fails. Damage taken is physical damage. Most warrior and rogue abilities are Physical. Death knight abilities obtained by spending talent points in the Blood Tree do physical damage. Armor penetration only ever applies to physical damage dealt.

Some physical abilities, like Ability warrior warcry [Demoralizing Shout] and Spell nature thunderclap [Thunder Clap], are treated like spells. These abilities have a chance to miss like all spells, which can be offset by Hit rating, but resistance to these abilities cannot be increased.


Ability Arcane 32x32
See also: Category:Arcane spells

Arcane magic is typically utility magic that causes various effects rather than dealing direct damage, and is used by mages, druids, hunters, and blood elves.

Hunters' Ability impalingbolt [Arcane Shot], Ability hunter eagleeye [Eagle Eye] and Spell fire flare [Flare] are Arcane based. The druids' Spell nature starfall [Moonfire] and Spell arcane starfire [Starfire] is a main source of direct damage. Also, the blood elf racial ability Spell shadow teleport [Arcane Torrent] is Arcane-based. (Before patch 3.0.2, night elf priests could do Arcane damage with Spell arcane starfire [Starshards].)

The true masters of the Arcane, however, are mages. For mages, the Arcane school is primarily a utility line rather than a damage line. Any spell from a mage's Arcane ability category is of the Arcane school, including four spells that do damage (Spell nature starfall [Arcane Missiles], Spell nature wispsplode [Arcane Explosion], Spell arcane blast [Arcane Blast], Ability mage arcanebarrage [Arcane Barrage]) and a very broad range of utility spells: Polymorphs, Spell holy magicalsentry [Arcane Intellect], Spell shadow detectlesserinvisibility [Mana Shield], Spell magearmor [Mage Armor], Spell arcane blink [Blink], Teleports, Portals, Spell frost iceshock [Counterspell], and Conjure Mana Gems, Food, and Water.

Hostile Arcane spells (including those that do no damage) can be resisted; there are items that increase one's Arcane resistance. Arcane is the only resistible magic school against which players cannot increase their Resistance via class abilities.


Ability Fire 32x32
See also: Category:Fire spells

Spells of the Fire school typically inflict damage, which can be direct damage and/or damage over time. Mages and warlocks use it as one of their primary source of damage, while shamans, hunters, and engineers also use the Fire school.

Many spells and environmental effects (such as lava) do Fire damage. The classes most associated with the ability to control fire are warlocks and mages. Fire is also one of the fundamental elements that shamans can manipulate with their Totems. In the same way, Warlocks deliver huge burst of Fire damage. Destruction warlocks are sometimes called "Firelocks". Hunters' Spell fire selfdestruct [Explosive Trap] and Ability hunter explosiveshot [Explosive Shot] also deal Fire damage; similarly, explosives and damaging trinkets created by Engineers typically do Fire damage.

Like Arcane resistance, Fire resistance is a statistic that can be affected by spells and items.


Ability Frost 32x32
See also: Category:Frost spells

The Frost school is effective both for attack (doing damage) and defense (raising armor value). Frost spells often inflict snare or root effects, as well. Mages, shamans and death knights use the Frost school.

Mages and death knights have Frost specializations, and obviously any spell in those trees are of the Frost school. Shamans' Spell frost frostshock [Frost Shock] is also of the Frost school.

Spell frost wizardmark [Frost Resistance] exists as a statistic as well.


Ability Nature 32x32
See also: Category:Nature spells

The Nature school is usually used for nature based attacks, buffs, and curative spells. Nature damage can be direct damage (like lightning) or damage over time (like poison). This means that rogues (poison), shamans, druids, and hunters have access to Nature damage.

Almost all magical hunters abilities are Nature school, including some of their signature abilities like Ability hunter markedfordeath [Hunter's Mark], Ability hunter misdirection [Misdirection], Ability hunter beasttaming [Tame Beast], Ability hunter mendpet [Mend Pet] and Ability physical taunt [Beast Lore].

Acids, diseases, and poisons inflict Nature damage, and damage from lightning is also considered part of the Nature school. Shamans' and druids' healing spells are Nature spells, and other non-damaging spells such as Spell nature stranglevines [Entangling Roots] and Spell nature faeriefire [Faerie Fire] are in this school as well. Rogues' poisons are also Nature-based.

A Nature resistance statistic exists.


Ability Shadow 32x32
See also: Category:Shadow spells

The opposite of Holy magic, Shadow is probably the most versatile school. Used by priests, warlocks, death knights, rogue and hunters (Ability theblackarrow [Wailing Arrow]) it contains a wide variety of spells. Apart from Direct Damage and Damage over Time spells, there are various utility spells, including Drains, Crowd Control spells, Debuffs, and even healing.

Shadow damage is dealt by dark spells such as those of the priest's Shadow abilities and most of the warlock's repertoire. The creation of a Warlock healthstone [Healthstone] or Spell shadow soulgem [Soulstone] and the summoning of demons are Shadow effects. Warlocks can also absorb Shadow damage with Spell fire twilightfireward [Twilight Ward].

Shadow Resistance is the final resistance type.


Ability Holy 32x32
See also: Category:Holy spells

The Holy school is usually related to abilities which heal and aid living beings. There are also a few spells that do Holy damage, including Spell holy holysmite [Smite] and Spell holy innerfire [Consecration]. Contrary to popular belief, Holy Magic does not deal additional damage to undead or demons.

Priests and paladins are the primary users of the Holy school, including all their healing and resurrection abilities.

Holy damage[]

It is not possible to resist Holy magic, giving it a slight advantage over other schools, but it does have a basic miss chance like all spells. This is of little value to players, and in PvE, NPCs' resistance is usually minimal anyway. However, NPC abilities that deal Holy damage can be significantly more harmful to a buffed raid group than damage of other schools.

Items and Buffs which give a bonus to all resistances do not include Holy resistance, but percentage-based damage-reduction abilities successfully reduce damage from Holy spells. Also, the Inv potion 09 [Holy Protection Potion] and Inv potion 125 [Major Holy Protection Potion] items will also absorb limited amounts of Holy damage.


Some abilities belong to multiple schools of magic. These multi-school abilities benefit from bonuses that affect any of their schools. They use the lowest resistance value among their schools, and they ignore absorption and immunity effects that apply to only some of their schools. Multi-schools were introduced with patch 4.0.1, although Ability mage frostfirebolt [Frostfire Bolt] had served as a prototype of the effects of multi-schools since patch 3.0.2.

Interrupt effects are far less effective at locking players out of using multi-school spells. As long as any of the spell's schools is available, the player will still be able to cast the spell. This makes multi-school spells extremely hard to lock down, requiring the use of at least two consecutive interrupts (one for each school) in a very short space of time. This means that these abilities will almost always be available for players to cast when one of their schools is locked. In addition, some multi-school spells such as Inv sword 2h artifactashbringerfire d 03 [Wake of Ashes] belong to schools that are not used by any of the class's other spells. When these spells are instant cast, this means that it is not possible for that spell to be locked down.

Physical Arcane Fire Frost Holy Nature
Arcane Spellstrike -
Fire Flamestrike Spellfire -
Frost Froststrike Spellfrost Frostfire -
Holy Holystrike Divine Radiant Holyfrost -
Nature Stormstrike Astral Volcanic Froststorm Holystorm -
Shadow Shadowstrike Spellshadow Shadowflame Shadowfrost Twilight Plague
All multiples
Schools Used by Spells
Astral Arcane, Nature Druid Category:Astral spells
Chaos Arcane, Fire, Frost, Nature, Shadow, (Holy, Physical) Demon hunter, warlock Category:Chaos spells
Cosmic Arcane, Holy, Nature, Shadow Items only[1][2][3] -
Divine Arcane, Holy Priest (formerly) -
Elemental Fire, Frost, Nature Shaman Category:Elemental spells
Flamestrike Fire, Physical Shaman Category:Flamestrike spells
Frostfire Fire, Frost Mage Category:Frostfire spells
Froststorm Frost, Nature Chimaera (hunter pet) Category:Froststorm spells
Froststrike Frost, Physical NPC only[4] -
Holystorm Holy, Nature NPC only[5] -
Holystrike Holy, Physical Paladin Category:Holystrike spells
Plague Nature, Shadow Death knight Category:Plague spells
Radiant Fire, Holy Paladin, priest Category:Radiant spells
Shadowflame Fire, Shadow Warlock Category:Shadowflame spells
Shadowfrost Frost, Shadow Death knight, priest Category:Shadowfrost spells
Shadowstrike Shadow, Physical Voidwalker (warlock minion) Category:Shadowstrike spells
Spellfire Arcane, Fire NPC only[6] -
Spellfrost Arcane, Frost Evoker Category:Spellfrost spells
Spellshadow Arcane, Shadow Priest (formerly) -
Spellstrike Arcane, Physical NPC only[7] -
Stormstrike Nature, Physical NPC only[8] -
Twilight Holy, Shadow Priest Category:Twilight spells
Volcanic Fire, Nature Evoker, shaman Category:Volcanic spells

See also[]