Arcane in BFA

Battle for Azeroth Items and Classes
Arcane is in a very weird position in BFA. The reworks to the core rotation in addition to no compensation of artifact traits and no significant talent shuffles leaves the spec very bare. I’ll try to do my best to criticize the current feel of the spec, how they relate to the core philosophy of the spec and propose changes that could alleviate some of the issue.

What makes Arcane unique?

Arcane is a very unique spec, in that it is the only DPS spec currently in the game that has mana management as a core gameplay element. Coupled with arcane charges and the mastery you have a spec that revolves around mana. As such, I think it is reasonable to state that the spec should revolve around mana management, and that the core rotation should make it feel like mana matters.

Arcane in Legion:

In Legion Arcane’s rotation is surprisingly simple, but still fun and engaging. Arcane Missiles as a frequent proc that costs no mana and is amplified in damage by arcane charges is highly interactive and requires some thought so as not to waste procs. Mark of Aluneth offers on demand mana, and you have to make sure you do not overcap when casting it. In addition, the very long duration on Arcane Power makes for incredibly potent burn phases. Arcane Charges coupled with Arcane Barrage gives us the ability to manually adjust the amount of mana spending.

Problems with Legion Arcane:

Kilt specifically gives such an enormous amount of mana, that mana conservation is almost a non-factor, it’s more about making sure you don’t overcap. However, that still requires taking mana into consideration, so ultimately, it’s not a major detriment.
Burn phases are almost mana neutral, despite it’s super long duration. Primarily because of Arcane Missiles procs being frequent and free, and the Overpowered talent. This means that staying at very high mana numbers going into the burn phase isn’t as important and makes managing mana tightly less rewarding.
In addition, the value of mastery has been somewhat lackluster, considering that it revolves around the core mechanics of the spec.
Going into BFA:

BFA has brought multiple changes to the core rotation of Arcane.

The first one being the Arcane Missiles rework. AM has had 5 mechanical changes:
1: It can be cast without a proc
This is somewhat insignificant, seeing as the ability is inherently designed so as not to be worth casting without a proc.

2: The procs are based off mana consumption rather than a flat % on cast.
This is a very appreciated change, because it increases the value of mastery and makes mastery result in more rewarding gameplay in the form of procs.
3: Arcane Missiles damage is not affected by Arcane Charges
4: Arcane Missiles does no longer grant Arcane Charges
This means there is no longer any incentive to cast the ability at a specific point in your charges cycle. It is not beneficial to wait for 4 charges, nor is it beneficial to use it with less charges. This is an incredibly negative change, seeing as it removes the interaction of the ability with our core rotation, but it gets worse.
5: Arcane Missiles procs do no longer stack
This means we can’t even stack up charges for the burn phase or smaller burst windows in the form of RoP.

Ultimately, this changes the ability from an interactive proc that affects the rotation and interacts with out core spec mechanics, to a random proc that you just press when you get it. Insanely boring

The second set of changes is the loss of the Artifact and legendaries
The primary effect on gameplay here is the loss of Kilt, reduced Arcane Power duration and the loss of Mark of Aluneth.

The loss of Kilt:
Honestly this isn’t even necessarily a negative thing for the spec, it just means there’s more room for having to actively make sure to not drop mana.

Reduced duration of Arcane Power:
This is a change that feels bad. The burn phases are shorter and less explosive before. However, it is ultimately not something that significantly affects the core rotation of the spec. With or without Arcane Power wanting to drop mana before Evocation is natural.

Loss of Mark of Aluneth:
Now, losing Mark of Aluneth specifically isn’t really the issue. The problem rather is that Arcane already has incredibly few buttons in the core rotation and losing one of those feels really dull. To be quite honest, if more of the active talents in the tree were actually usable, then it wouldn’t really be an issue. However, only having 4/5 buttons in your core rotation is kind of bare.

The third and final significant change to the spec is the changes to Arcane Explosion.
1: Arcane Explosion no longer interacts with Arcane Charges
Whilst this is boring (as it takes away from interaction), it doesn’t have to change the rotation that much depending on tuning. It does however mean that we can no longer regulate our mana pool by dropping or building stacks, which leads into the second point being a big issue
2: Arcane Explosion costs too much mana
If Arcane Explosion does not interact with Arcane Charges, it’s mana cost has to be at a point where it’s indefinitely spammable (with every 5th GCD being Arcane Barrage), or at the very least for 1.5 minutes since that’s how long it takes for Evocation to come off CD. Otherwise, Arcane just straight up does not have any consistent AoE. This may be an intended design choice, but it certainly isn’t one that’s enjoyable as a player.
I just made a quick test on a target dummy to give an idea of the numbers for those who haven’t tried it:
With 11% haste and 24% mastery I was able to AoE for 37 seconds.
This is not satisfying gameplay, and it’s certainly not fun

Suggestions to the most crucial of problems so far:
Arcane Missiles should either generate Arcane Charges, benefit from the damage, or both. In addition to stacking to at the very least 2. This makes the ability more interesting and interactive and adds a lot to the core rotation.
Either revert Arcane Explosion or reduce the mana cost so it is mana neutral at 0 haste with 4/5 casts and no clearcasting procs.
Give Arcane some extra button baseline. Supernova/Nether Tempest/Arcane Orb would all make decent choices here. The spec just needs one more button baseline in the core rotation to stay interesting.

Now that I’ve addressed the issues with the core changes to Arcane we can move onto the second part:
Talents

The talent tree of Arcane is for lack of better words terrible.
Most of the talents are boring/unfun and most of the talent tiers don’t make sense when considering the options and how they compete. This is not really a problem with BFA, but more of a remnant of Legion issues that is made that much more prevalent with the dull core spec that the BFA changes have resulted in. I will talk about every talent tier separately

15:
This is probably the most well designed of the talent rows. Amplification is a very simple damage increase that scales with mastery, Arcane Familiar also to some extent. The only issue in this tier really lies with Rule of Threes. The fact that it can either reduce the cost of AB or AM means that the button we will press depends entirely on tuning. It would be a lot more interesting if it was a way to introduce Arcane Missiles without Clearcasting into the core rotation.

30:
Since this is a utility tier it’s sort of hard to critique. Shimmer and Slipstream are both definitely useful. Mana Shield doesn’t really make much sense, the only reason you’d need Prismatic Barrier without a CD is for frequently incoming damage. However, in that situation you can’t really afford to sacrifice the mana to cast it repeatedly. It could honestly just be changed to reduce the cooldown of Prismatic Barrier by 50% or something like that instead.

45:
Honestly, at it’s core this talent tree is really cool and I like that it’s shared by all the specs. However, Mirror Image and Incanter’s Flow need to actively be tuned to offer compelling high mobility alternatives (for AoE for example) to RoP. Otherwise we’ll be stuck with always picking RoP to the end of time.

60:
This is a weird one. Charged up is well designed and fun to play with and very potent on ST. Resonance could offer a compelling alternative that requires less thinking, but it’s damage modifier was nerfed making it less compelling. If those 2 are tuned well they could both make interesting choices on ST. Again, active tuning is the key here. Supernova on the other hand seems like a really weird talent to put in this row. It suffers the same issue as Nether Tempest and Arcane Orb as I will mention later. It competes directly with 2 other talents that both also work on AoE, and certainly work significantly better on ST. The multitarget component isn’t great unless the pulls are insanely big at which point it outperforms Resonance. If tuned up a lot however, it could definitely make a compelling ST choice, but that doesn’t seem to be it’s purpose because that would also make it too strong for AoE? It’s a weirdly placed talent that can’t very well compete with the other talents on the row, it either needs a rework or to be removed completely (talent shuffles could be a solution here).

75:
Another utility tier. Chrono Shift and RoF are sweet options. Ice Ward is probably fine for solo content but seems a little weak? Maybe make it also reduce the cooldown so that it can be relevant in PvP and world content.
90:
Man, this tier is just all over the place. It offers 3 unique talents that are insanely hard to tune against each other and don’t really make much sense to compare. Erosion is basically a flat damage multiplier that’s worse on add spawns. Unstable Magic is also just a flat damage multiplier that is just kind of worse than Erosion. Unless the intent here is to make AB the AoE ability instead of AE it seems really weirdly designed, and even then it just kind of sucks. It could be interesting as a 2 or 3 target cleave talent if it just made AB hit a nearby target (similar to splitting Ice), but the current iteration seems really weird and out of place. For most purposes it’s just a worse Erosion. Nether Tempest is one of the big 3 flashy on use abilities in our tree. It’s actually really cool to play with as it does interact with Arcane Charges and introduces a dot you have to manage. By far the most interesting talent in the tier, sadly it just seems like it’s tuned with AoE in mind, but it’s a dot so it doesn’t do well in burst either. At that point it’s just an active version of Erosion.
Honestly what I’d like to see from this tier is Unstable Magic reworked into a 2/3 target cleave talent that doesn’t offer any ST value, and then either Nether Tempest or Erosion for all other content, with Nether Tempest tuned to outperform Erosion on single target since it’s significantly harder to play with. The current iteration of Unstable Magic makes no sense and Nether Tempest just can’t compete with Erosion on any type of content.

100:
The Temporal Flux rework is definitely intriguing, and I honestly don’t have much criticism for it. Arcane Orb is a really cool talent it were actually the best AoE option. But, it simply can’t compete with Overpowered unless it’s super overtuned, and then it would become the ST default option aswell.
Overpowered needs to go. The talent is badly designed because it either is amazing for everything or !@#$ for everything depending on tuning. In addition, it makes the burn phase near mana neutral which lowers the specs skillcap significantly. It would be nice to see it reworked to 60% flat damage to Arcane Blast or something like that instead. This means that the mana requirement for the burn phase is still high, and that Arcane Orb gets it’s time to shine on AoE/cleave.

The bottom line is that the core concept of Arcane is super enticing, but the current iteration of it is insanely dull. The cluster%^-* of a talent tree just makes it that much more pronounced. I think Arcane has the potential to be something unique and enticing as far as DPS specs go, but currently it is not.

If you actually read all of that then I thank you, and I encourage you to leave a comment below so that we can let Blizzard see that there is a passionate community of Arcane players and that we do not appreciate the current iteration. Thanks for reading.

- Rag
I was going to make a thread myself, but I will put down what I have written down here instead.

These are my experiences from trying out Arcane in dungeons primarily.

Currently it is barely worth it to cast AM with a Clearcasting proc. Example: With Rule of Threes talented, after gaining my 3rd charge, AB deals 9945 on a ~1.6s cast time and AM deals 11665 on a ~2.4s channel time, respectively a DPET of 6126 and 4860 (and AB is even better than this because it gives you a charge). I assume this is a tuning issue, and in a final iteration it will always be worth it to use AM with Clearcasting. Furthermore, I assume that the mechanics of classes should feel good even without Azerite traits, so I will ignore any existing or missing Azerite traits.

Core Issues

  • Anything that "saves" mana is counterproductive to the new Arcane gameplay centered around Clearcasting.

    • Examples: Overpowered and Rule of Threes.
  • Gameplay without Slipstream is still super punishing due to knockback mechanics, and is less useful because you get less Clearcasting procs due to certain talents (Core Issue number 1).
  • Sustained AoE have strict positional requirements whilebeing forced to hardcast.

    • By replacing Arcane Missiles with Arcane Explosion on Clearcasting procs.
    • Double Jeopardy, Arcane suffers both the melee and ranged drawbacks, respectively, if you want to do sustained AoE.
Talent Issues

  • Boring passive talents that shares rows with actives that cannot compete (in both single target and AoE) with the passive talents on the same row.

    • Erosion >>> Nether Tempest (after some more thought, this choice might be more nuanced in AoE situations due to Arcane Explosion not being a charge builder anymore and Mark of Aluneth being gone)
    • Resonance >>> Charged Up and Supernova.
  • Overpowered

    • Overpowered is overpowered, overwhelmingly so.
    • Very limited talent choices due to the power of Rune of Power + Overpowered (and point 1).
    • Because of Overpowered: Rune of Power >>> Incanter's Flow.
  • 75 Talent Row

    • The 75 talent row is a group CC row, but Chrono Shift dominates the row due to the movement speed it provides.
    • This is accentuated by that Clearcasting does not stack and we get less procs, making Slipstream less reliable to deal with movement.
  • Arcane Familiar

    • Is entirely passive. Furthermore, even with AM being undertuned it cannot compete with Rule of Threes or Amplification.
    • Has negative synergy with the new Evocation (750% mana regen for 6s), since we have to channel longer. This was fine in Legion because Evocation restored 25% of our mana pool on each tick.
    • Suggestion: Change to give X% more Mastery instead of maximum mana, making it more viable and synergistic.
  • Slipstream

    • Current iteration cannot compete with the versatility of Shimmer.
    • Usefulness further diminished by Core Issues.
  • Mirror's Image

    • There is no planning with this talent. You simply press it whenever it is up and forget about it otherwise.
    • Damage of images does not scale with any talents or abilities available to Arcane. This includes Erosion and Arcane Power (an by extension Overpowered).
    • Rune of Power is better and more versatile for on-demand burst damage, which fits the current gameplay, flavour, and theme of Arcane.
  • Unstable Magic

    • The most uninspiring talent ever made. Should be removed like it was for Fire and Frost.
  • Temporal Flux

    • Effectively extends the burn phase by ~11s after finishing your Evocation, plus a few move seconds because you will cancel the Evocation cast earlier because the Temporal Flux is a full Evocation regardless of how long your channeled.
    • Currently have not found where this is prefered over Overpowered.
    • Problem: After finishing the Evocation channel, you want to use as much mana as possible such that you gain as much mana as possible from the Temporal Flux effect.

      • I begin spamming AM (which I assume will be tuned to be stronger), but several Clearcasting procs will diminish the effectiveness of Temporal Flux.
      • I begin spamming AB, which gives me Clearcasting procs, but using the procs will diminish the effectiveness of Temporal Flux, and since Clearcasting procs does not stack there is a high chance I will munch procs.
Positives

  • The single target rotation loop is fine, assuming AM will be tuned to be worth casting on Clearcasting procs.
  • Clearcasting works like Brain Freeze for Frost such that if you do two Arcane Blasts in a row that both proc Clearcasting, you will not munch the proc and you can go AB -> AB -> (free)AM -> (free)AM
  • The new Clearcasting mechanic makes Mastery meaningful, after being largely irrelevant during Legion. With more Mastery you can spam more 4C Arcane Blasts, which gives you more free AM's more often (again assuming AM will be tuned to be used on Clearcasting procs).


Personal Opinions (but probably would make Arcane too strong/versatile).

  • Rune of Power should just be made baseline for Arcane, with a reduced damage multiplier, such that it is a alot more versatile Colussus Smash.
  • Clearcasting should have the Arcane Empowerment honor talent baseline (without the damage bonus).
  • Evocation should be able to be channeled while moving as baseline.
This is some nice feedback here. While I agree with most of the things you guys said I want to change one thing;

21/05/2018 16:12Posted by Eilá
Rune of Power should just be made baseline for Arcane, with a reduced damage multiplier, such that it is a alot more versatile Colussus Smash.

Rune of Power should just go away. In fact whole level 45 row needs a rework to fit the core mechanics of each spec. Could be around mana regen for arcane, crit effects for fire and shatter for frost.
21/05/2018 21:32Posted by Shailla
Rune of Power should just go away. In fact whole level 45 row needs a rework to fit the core mechanics of each spec. Could be around mana regen for arcane, crit effects for fire and shatter for frost.


With how they have changed AM and AE, I think the main complexity will come from when you should trade mana sustainability for high burst damage (AM for ST, AE for AoE). This aspect is what will define a good Arcane mage. Rune of Power plays well into this kind of gameplay imo.

But I realise that RoP is disliked by plenty of people. I don't think I could have ever put this as anything but a personal opinion lest I wanted to appear at least a little objective.
22/05/2018 07:45Posted by Eilá
With how they have changed AM and AE, I think the main complexity will come from when you should trade mana sustainability for high burst damage (AM for ST, AE for AoE). This aspect is what will define a good Arcane mage. Rune of Power plays well into this kind of gameplay imo.

I agree RoP fits with arcane's burst windows and decently utilizing it would seperate good players from the bad. But my problem with it is, arcane is already a punishing spec for movement and RoP adds another layer to this. Also with the gcd on Arcane Power it brings too big a pause in the rotation to feel good.

22/05/2018 07:45Posted by Eilá
But I realise that RoP is disliked by plenty of people. I don't think I could have ever put this as anything but a personal opinion lest I wanted to appear at least a little objective.

It was my personal opinion but I realize it reads like I was stating a fact. I could have worded that differently.
I personally like RoP a lot, but I definitely think that the other talents on the line should offer compelling high mobility alternatives.
I'd like to add that I honestly think that most of Arcane's issues can be band-aided or outright fixed with proper tuning of talents. Dead picks and the insane dominance of passives in the tree really kills a lot of interesting mechanics that could've been intrinsic to the spec. Whilst even with tuning some talent tiers would seem questionable, at least it could add a lot to the core rotation and fun/flashy abilities could actually see use. So yeah, I strongly agree with most of Ella's general assertions around talents.
I wanted to say one more thing regarding Erosion.

As it is, Erosion will be the prefered pick for ST because it is easy to maintain. However, for AoE I think there is a bit more nuance to it. In Legion, you replaced Arcane Blast with Arcane Explosion as your charge builder, so it was easy to maintain Erosion on multiple targets. Even easier by also considering Mark of Aluneth. However, in BfA, you are not supposed to spam Arcane Explosion if you also wish to have mana sustainability, so Erosion will be hard if not impossible to maintain on all targets in AoE situations. Therefore, we might see Nether Tempest become viable on AoE, pending final tuning obviously.
I am spending a lot of time in the US Arcane thread, though I am growing disheartened from their total focus on tuning and misconceptions about Clearcasting.
Because missiles are intentionally weaker than blast, the increased CC procs during cooldowns are intentionally misleading players from their intended usage.
A poster claiming that Clearcasting was introduced with the purpose of tricking the player into doing less damage by pressing the free AM.

I still firmly believe that MI is intended to be a damage increase and prefered above AB on CC procs, but pending tuning.

However, a point I noted from the US thread which makes a lot of sense: If AM is just tuned to do more damage flat than a 4C AB, during burn when we do not care about how much mana we spend we will simply spam AM instead of AB. This is not preferable either.

Therefore an AM affected by CC should also buff it, besides making it free. Suggestion: AM fires an additional X missiles when it consumes CC (which might also fix the problem with AM feeling puny to use), or AM deals Y% more damage when it consumes CC.
25/05/2018 09:14Posted by Eilá
Therefore an AM affected by CC should also buff it, besides making it free. Suggestion: AM fires an additional X missiles when it consumes CC (which might also fix the problem with AM feeling puny to use), or AM deals Y% more damage when it consumes CC.

With flat damage inrease on CC, because of mastery scaling on AB, it could still take over AM with high mastery and make AM obsolete during cooldowns. Or CC procced AM would be too OP to make it always deal more damage than AB(considering high mastery builds). My suggestion would be CC increases AM damage based on mastery maybe like 20%(made up number to bring AM damage above AB with 4AC without mastery) plus mastery. This would encourage using AM whenever CC procced, discourage spamming AM, and also make mastery a bit more relevant.
25/05/2018 10:45Posted by Shailla
With flat damage inrease on CC, because of mastery scaling on AB, it could still take over AM with high mastery and make AM obsolete during cooldowns. Or CC procced AM would be too OP to make it always deal more damage than AB(considering high mastery builds). My suggestion would be CC increases AM damage based on mastery maybe like 20%(made up number to bring AM damage above AB with 4AC without mastery) plus mastery. This would encourage using AM whenever CC procced, discourage spamming AM, and also make mastery a bit more relevant.

You are severely overestimating the damage component of the Arcane mastery. Even with a high mastery build you cannot keep spamming 4C AB's, you cannot spend CC procs on AB after all.

I conjecture that the reason why they removed AM from the Arcane Charge system is because they do not want CC procs to be partially wasted if you have to cast only when you are at 4 charges. This is in line with why they did not allow CC to stack and proc like Brain Freeze, because it should be used immediately (with the casualty that Slipstream is practically hard to use).

EDIT: I am not saying this is a good thing, but rather me guessing what Blizzard's intentions are.

In my opinion the point of Mastery is not to increase the damage of Arcane Blast, but to allow us to spend more mana with 4C Arcane Blast, resulting in more CC procs. The damage component of mastery is there, I conjecture, to ensure that the best way to proc CC is NOT by casting non-clearcasted Arcane Missiles.
Interesting point I hadn't really thought about that. But yeah, if 4xAC AB does more damage than AM (which it has to) then it may be preferable to not even spend procs during Arcane Power. That's kind of a tough one. On one side if you have to boost the damage from the proc itself, then it makes the flat ability sort of uninteresting. As I see it right now the purpose of AM without clearcasting procs is to be mana inefficient burst damage on demand. It provides that niche quite well. Honestly the simple solution here is to just make clearcasting procs specifically scale in damage with arcane charges. This does introduce another issue though, because that will consequently force you to always hold procs for 4 charges. Whilst simply reverting AM to how it was (and letting it be freely castable for a high mana cost without procs) is a solution, I sincerely doubt that it's even on the table for blizz. AM definitely needs to be scaled to a point where using clearcast procs is worth it because they do similar or higher damage than 4AC AB, but the mana cost is too taxing to keep spamming it without procs. It's probably hard to get right but looks like the only real option with current design space.
IMO damage should be like:
At 4 Charges: Barrage > Missiles > Blast > Explosion
At 0 Charges: Missiles > Blast > Barrage = Explosion

Reshuffle talents so each one makes sense in it's corresponding row and buff undertuned talents(tempest, supernova).

Or if we go the long route: Talents I'd like to see removed/replaced/reworked:
Arcane Familiar, Mana Shield, Mirror Image, Rune of Power, Ice Ward, Unstable Magic, Erosion, Overpowered, Temporal Flux.

I'd like to see lvl 100 row completely overdone and Arcane Orb and Supernova added baseline to spice up arcane's 3 button rotation and will fill up the Mark of Aluneth gap that is left out. Also Arcane Empowerment honor talent as baseline(or just revert missiles to stacking up to 3 times).

Nerf Polymorph duration to 6s in PvP and reduce it's range to 25yrds down from 30ydr to reduce effectiveness in arena.

Charged Up should be off the GCD and Arcane Power should have longer duration, 8.5s after GCD is too short for a spec that relies on casting.

Edit: If Clearcasting procs reduce Arcane Missiles cast time by 0.5s(so it's like legion cast time) that would be dope too.
The talents certainly have a lot of issues, if blizzard refuses to do a shuffle/rework of the tree at this point they definitely have to at least buff the actives that spice up the rotation so we can actually pick them ever.

27/05/2018 11:22Posted by Vîndy
IMO damage should be like:
At 4 Charges: Barrage > Missiles > Blast > Explosion
At 0 Charges: Missiles > Blast > Barrage = Explosion


As long as the mana cost of Missiles is much higher than 4 charge Blast that could definitely work, otherwise you risk indefinitely spamming AM. Honestly I'm not too fussed how the rotation actually ends up, as long as there is room to use Arcane Missiles with and without procs at some point in our rotation. Spamming or ignoring both sort of defeats the purpose.

IMO damage should be like:
Charged Up should be off the GCD and Arcane Power should have longer duration, 8.5s after GCD is too short for a spec that relies on casting.


I honestly don't think Charged Up should be off the GCD. The fact that it is on the GCD makes it so you have to actually put it into your rotation at applicable times. In addition, taking it off the GCD would straight up make it too strong on ST in comparison to the talents it competes with.
I do agree with buffing the duration of Arcane Power though, something like 12 seconds would probably be fine. Less than 10 seconds (post GCD) feels kinda meh. I do like not having to cast RoP again during AP, though.
27/05/2018 13:21Posted by Raglacera
As long as the mana cost of Missiles is much higher than 4 charge Blast that could definitely work, otherwise you risk indefinitely spamming AM.

Yea, I should've added that too. If they go with the high mana cost missiles, it only makes sense if they are really good during procs or/and they do the highest DPS of all of our spells.

27/05/2018 13:21Posted by Raglacera
I honestly don't think Charged Up should be off the GCD. The fact that it is on the GCD makes it so you have to actually put it into your rotation at applicable times.

If barrage was doing really good damage, then I wouldn't mind charged up on GCD, since then it will feel like a meaningful offensive cooldown.
But right now, all it does is to skip the stacking at the start of a fight and using it mid fight feels like(and probably is) a damage loss.

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