Laniala's Guide to Arcane Powaaaaa! (and Arcane itself)

Mage
Introduction

Welcome to my guide to playing as an Arcane mage in raiding environments. People have been asking me whether or not I was going to update my Fire guide with the recent hotfixes, I will promise that I'll get around changing some small bits - though the guide is still mostly accurate.

With the recent hotfix to Fire and the buffs from 5.1, Arcane has become a very interesting, viable alternative to Fire for raiding. Considering some mages will probably consider making a switch, this guide is to accommodate that switch and make it easier.

People have been asking me a lot of questions last time after reading my guide to fire, whispering me in game for a short chat with their questions. I'll make that easier now and just give you my contact information.

If you have any questions, either ask them here or contact me with my BattleTag: European#2327

With that out of the way, let's kick this off shall we. I shall keep this one much in the style of my Fire guide.

Differences to Fire

First of, let me note that I think Fire is still completely viable and is competitive to Arcane in DPS. If you prefer playing Fire and feel comfortable with it, you may wish to stay Fire.

Arcane's main difference to Fire is that it's far more rotational and has less RNG elements to it. Arcane is a spec that revolves a lot around mana management. Arcane is really easy to pick up, but very difficult to master (there will be naysayers, but Arcane's skill cap is much higher than any other mage spec).

Changes compared to Cataclysm
As many mages switching to Arcane have probably played Arcane in Cataclysm, it might be worthwhile pointing out what has changed since:
  • Arcane is not as limited by movement as it used to be, Arcane now has access to Scorch like any other spec. Allowing Arcane to cast while moving, albeit for less damage.
  • Further more, charges can now be refreshed on the fly by casting Arcane Explosion.
  • Arcane's ranged AoE potential is a bit better than it used to be, Arcane Barrage can now cleave.
  • Arcane now has a DoT component to it. More on that later.
  • Evocation no longer is the de facto mana management tool we get. Our final tier heavily impacts how you play Arcane, depending on play style preferences.

Aside from that, Arcane is still about building up charges, mana management and spending them. If you enjoyed Big Crits(tm) in Cataclysm, well, they are still here.

Mage Role & Laws of DPS

The mage role is, regardless of your spec, to be a damage dealer. The mage only has DD specializations which means this class is a 'pure class'. This generally means that if you are awful at DPS, there's no hope for you with the class as there's no carebear easy role to play like Healer. Unless you read my guide of course, and become a good mage!

When you play DD, you must remember the so-called Laws of DPS, which are universally true to any DPS spec for maximizing your DPS.

1. Stay alive.
2. No seriously, stay alive.
3. Don't die, corpses don't do damage.
4. Position yourself correctly.
5. Minimize movement as much as possible.
6. Always cast something.
7. Tactics above DPS.

Take these in mind, always. Survival always comes first because you can't do damage if you're dead, none at all, ZERO. Make sure you are positioned correctly so you don't have to keep moving. You want to make sure you are always casting something, if you're not casting you're not dealing damage. Always honour tactics above DPS (read: move out of bad things).

Specialization (passives), Mastery and Spells

Let's quickly go over what you get for speccing Arcane, our masteries and a quick overlook of our most important spells.

Mana Adept (mastery). Our Mastery is the most important thing we have, it defines how our spec works and what makes Arcane difficult to master. Mana adept increases our damage done by a percentage, but it's benefit becomes less and less good as our mana depletes. I'll explain later how that works.

Arcane Charge (passive). Unlike Cataclysm, we now gain Arcane Charges from Arcane Blast, Missiles and sometimes of Explosion. Arcane Charges increase the damage of Arcane Blast (and it's cost), Arcane Missiles and Barrage (also consumes them). Arcane Charge is a key aspect of our mana management. You can have up to 6 charges at once.

Nether Attunement (passive). This passive makes our passive mana regeneration scale with haste. While this is relatively uninteresting for Frost and Fire, this matters greatly for how we value haste as Arcane.

Arcane Blast (spell). This is our main nuke and rotational ability. Arcane Blast generates Arcane Charges and increases it's damage by 24% and cost by 125% for each charge.

Arcane Missiles (spell). Arcane Missiles is a proc based ability, it has a chance to proc off any damaging ability and can have 2 charges. Every time you use Arcane Missiles, you will consume 1 charge of Arcane Missiles, gain a stack of Arcane Charge. Arcane Missiles will deal 24% more damage per charge of Arcane Charge.

Arcane Barrage (spell). Arcane Barrage is a nuke ability, it deals increased damage (24%) per stack of Arcane Charge but consumes all the charges. Arcane Barrage will hit an extra nearby target for 50% damage per charge (max 6 extra targets).

Arcane Power (cooldown). Arcane Power is our main cooldown. It increases the mana cost of our damaging abilitiies by 10%, but increases their damage by 20%. Its duration can be doubled with a glyph, but the cooldown will be doubled too.

Talents and Glyphs

Tier 1:
Options are Presence of Mind and Scorch. Pick Presence of Mind for fights where you stand still or have to move very little. Pick Scorch if you find yourself moving a lot.

Tier 2:
Options are Ice Barrier and Temporal Shield. Ice Barrier is a great pick for everything, Temporal Shield is great for fights where you only need to be concerned about burst damage.

Tier 3:
Pick whatever, Ring of Frost is probably the most useful for PvE.

Tier 4:
Pick Cauterize, it always works and is always a great choice. Note that some other talents may be better in certain situations, but Cauterize always yields good results.

Tier 5:
Arcane Tempest for single target, Living Bomb for 3-5 Targets, Frost Bomb for more than 5.
I personally just roll with Arcane Tempest, to be fair. But if you want to be optimal, pick according to the above.

Tier 6:
Rune of Power and Invocation are your only real choices. Incanter's Ward is viable but very situational. Pick either Rune of Power or Invocation, but realize that they both completely change how you play Arcane. More on that later!

Major Glyphs
Glyph of Arcane Explosion, increases the range on Arcane Explosion. Recommended
Glyph of Arcane Power, increases duration and cooldown of Arcane Power. Generally a DPS gain, more on that later.
Glyph of Mana Gem, increases the amount of charges on your Mana Gem to 10. Highly recommended
Glyph of Evocation, provides health generation to Evocation and Rune of Power. Highly recommended

These are in my opinion the best choices for Arcane. Arcane Power glyph is a very curious one that I'll discuss later on in the Cooldown section. Note that the Arcane Power glyph only yields more DPS if you use it correctly, skip it if you're learning the spec.

As for minors, pick whatever you want. Note that in Cataclysm, the Glyph of Mirror Image was a DPS increase - this is no longer the case.
Stats and Attributes
Like Fire Mages, Arcane benefits from the following stats: intellect, stamina, crit rating, haste rating, mastery, hit rating/expertise.

What stat is the most important is a question that's often asked. Arcane's stat priority is very straight-forward.
Intellect > Hit/Expertise (till cap) > Mastery > Haste (till softcap) > Crit > Haste

The haste soft cap has to do with cast time and Nether Tempest. We'll discuss that in a second.

Intellect
Intellect increases our spell power and increases our critical strike chance by a minimal amount. It's easily our most important stat, and yet you are discouraged to actively gem for it (more on that later).

Hit / Expertise
Hit and expertise are equal to Arcane mages, a 1:1 ratio. This means that if an item already has hit rating on it, you can reforge the other stat to expertise. This makes reaching your hit cap significantly easier.

Hit rating is extremely important for Arcane, and getting hit capped should be your foremost important goal before you start raiding. Our hit cap is 15%.
1% hit chance = 340 hit/expertise rating
Hit cap 5100 rating
Hit cap for Draenei 4760 rating


Mastery
Mastery increases the damage of our spells by a flat percentage, depending on how mana we have unspent. This is what makes Arcane an unique spec to play and in my opinion the most fun of all specializations. Learning when to spend your mana, and when to not spend it is what puts a good mage above an average one.

To understand how our mastery works, we need a bit of an example, and the formula on how it's calculated. I'll start with an example that's self explanatory.

Let's say I got 60% increased damage from Mana Adept, and I have spent 20% of my mana. That means my spells will do 60 * 0.80 = 48% more damage.
2% extra damage = 600 mastery rating
1 mastery rating = 0.00333333333333333333333333333333% extra damage.
actual_damage_increase = %_increase_from_mastery * your_mana_percentage


Haste
Haste increases our cast time, mana regen and the rate at which our Damage of Time effects tick (we only have one, sometimes zero - depending on the bomb you picked). For haste we want to reach the nearest haste plateau.

There's another haste plateau, which means our Arcane Blast is 1.0 second during Bloodlust/Heroism. I don't have the exact figure on that right now, I'll add that later.

For now, our haste softcap is at 3056 rating as a non-goblin and 2605 as a goblin. For reference, here is the table with haste plateaus if you are curious.
Legend:
1234 = Raid buffed (all races)
(1234) = Raid buffed (goblin)
[1234] = Raid buffed + blood lust (all races)
([1234]) = Raid buffed + blood lust (goblins)

Haste Plateau Ticks of Nether Tempest
0 (0) [n/a] ([n/a]) 13 ticks
3056 (2605) [n/a] ([n/a]) 14 ticks
6414 (5930) [n/a] ([n/a]) 15 ticks
9762 (9244) [n/a] ([n/a]) 16 ticks
13138 (12587) [298] ([n/a]) 17 ticks
16547 (15962) [2921] ([2471]) 18 ticks
19916 (19298) [5512] ([5037]) 19 ticks
23262 (22611) [8086] ([7585]) 20 ticks


Crit
Critical strike rating gives us a percentage chance to deal double damage to our target. It's a relatively unimportant stat for Arcane. Not that crit is bad, it just pales before the other stats.
1% crit chance = 600 crit rating
1 crit rating = 0.00166666666666666666666666666667% crit chance
Critical strike cap = 95% (98.6% on boss targets)


Gemming and Reforging
Gemming your gear as an Arcane mage is really simple.

Red sockets: Artful Vermilion Onyx
Yellow sockets: Fractured Sun's Radiance
Blue sockets: Sensei's Wild Jade

Try to honour socket bonuses, unless the socket bonus is truly awful (it rarely is).

These are the best enchants available to us at the moment:
Shoulders: Greater Crane Wing Inscription
Back: Enchant Cloak - Superior Intellect
Chest: Enchant Chest - Glorious Stats
Bracers: Formula: Enchant Bracer - Super Intellect
Gloves: Enchant Gloves - Greater Haste / Enchant Gloves - Superior Mastery
Waist: Living Steel Belt Buckle with Smooth Sun's Radiance
Legs: Greater Cerulean Spellthread
Feet: Enchant Boots - Pandaren's Step
Weapon/OffHand: Enchant Weapon - Jade Spirit / Enchant Off-Hand - Major Intellect

Best in Slot Gear

I'm still working on this list.
Single Target Rotation

While Arcane is not strictly a rotation-based spec (we have a priority), it does feel much like a rotational spec because of how we deal with our procs. Our rotation in it's most basic shape looks like this:

1. Nether Tempest, always keep this up.
2. Arcane Blast if you do not have 6 stacks of Arcane Charge.
3. Arcane Missiles when you got 6 stacks of Arcane Charge.
4. Arcane Blast to generate Missile procs.
5. Arcane Barrage* to reset stacks when your mana dips too low.

*: You can also use Scorch to never reset your stacks of Arcane Charge. This may or may not work as well as you expect. If you get procs frequently, you will be fine, but you may get no procs of missiles at all. I personally use Barrage.

The key to doing good DPS as Arcane is to stay at a high amount of mana as much as possible while maintaining six stacks of Arcane Charge. The key to doing this is to cast as much Arcane Missiles as possible (they are free of cost). Eventually you'll have to either use Scorch or Arcane Barrage to manage your mana.

You can try and delay this though. You should use your mana gem whenever you are at 230k mana, this will put you right back on 300k (not by the gem alone, but the cast time of Arcane Blast is included). You will also regen a lot more if you got more haste rating. The downside is that you also cast faster (thus spend mana quicker).

Opening Sequence

This is how you should be opening as an Arcane Mage.

1. Prepot an intellect potion and cast Mirror Image.
2. Get to six stacks of Arcane Charge.
3. Make sure you have 2 charges of Arcane Missiles.
4. Make sure all your trinkets and stuff have procced (and that you have Bloodlust, if you BL on pull).
5. Use your mana gem and Arcane Power and ONLY THEN, press Alter Time.
6. Use both charges of Missiles now.
7. If you have bloodlust, cast Arcane Blast and cast missiles if they proc. If you do not have Bloodlust, use Arcane Barrage.
8. Cancel Alter Time.
9. Cast missiles twice again.
10. Now continue with your single target rotation.

AoE Rotation

Spam Nether Tempest on everything, or Arcane Explosion, or do Arcane Barrage cleave. It matters little, Arcane AoE is irrelevant and you should go Frost or Fire if AoE is crucial to the fight.

Cooldown Usage

Arcane Power
Arcane Power is our most important cooldown and should be used everytime the cooldown comes off (unless you know you won't get the full benefit of it's duration). Preferably try to time this with trinkets and procs. Don't delay too long though, or it will not be worth it!

When Alter Time is also off cooldown (or about to come off cool down). You will want to delay using Arcane Power and start getting 2 stacks of Arcane Missiles, read below for the reasoning.

Be reminded that Arcane Power does increase the mana cost of Arcane Blast and other spells. You should not worry about this, and instead try to regen the mana back after Arcane Power runs out.

Alter Time
Alter Time is neat but tricky to use, and sometimes its outright infuriating. Alter Time should preferably be used as many times as possible in a fight, but always synced with Arcane Power (and as many other procs and buffs as possible). Alter Time resets our mana, buffs, debuffs and position (important!) after 6 six seconds to the moment they were when we casted it.

We can use this ability to aggressively ignore many elements of a fight to push out more DPS (don't die though, it does not save you from that) and get an extra six seconds of important buffs.

The trick is to have at least Arcane Power up and two charges of Arcane Missiles. This means we can cast at LEAST four missiles under arcane power, which is a huge DPS gain.

Try to use Alter Time with Bloodlust. Be careful to NOT get Bloodlust while Alter Time is active. When the duration ends, your Bloodlust buff WILL be removed but your Sated buff will not, giving you effectively 6 seconds of Bloodlust only! You can remove the Alter Time buff if this happens, which will cancel the effect of AT all together. I recommend you make a macro for that.

Alter Time takes some time to use properly, but when you learn how to do it, you will find that it is a great DPS cooldown.

Mirror Image
Tiny DPS cooldown that should only be used if you're certain your images will be capable of attacking for the whole duration they are active. Otherwise they are not worthwhile.

Mana Gem
Use whenever your mana is below 230k for the best results.
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What are your thoughts on fishing for Arcane Missiles using a mix of Scorch and Arcane Blast while staying at 6 stacks of Arcane Charges?
Using Rune of Power over Invocation, I find that -- with bad luck and Mana Gem on cooldown -- the mana of an Arcane mage may actually deplete below 80 percent at a steady pace. But I also find that weaving Scorch into your Arcane Blast spam helps a lot, though if this is a gain in overall damage I do not know.
Tier 1:
Options are Presence of Mind and Scorch. Pick Presence of Mind for fights where you stand still or have to move very little. Pick Scorch if you find yourself moving a lot.


I prefer Ice Floes, I love to chanel missiles while moving.

Tier 2:
Options are Ice Barrier and Temporal Shield. Ice Barrier is a great pick for everything, Temporal Shield is great for fights where you only need to be concerned about burst damage.


I chose Temporal Shield for a bit silly reason,you can have Incanter's Ward and Temporal Shield in the same buton with a macro.

Tier 3:
Pick whatever, Ring of Frost is probably the most useful for PvE.


Imo, Ice Ward is mandatory for arcane. Cast it on the target's target before barrage and boom! In PvP it helps casting Deep Freeze, really useful.

Tier 4:
Pick Cauterize, it always works and is always a great choice.


I prefer Cold Snap, with glyph of Cone of Cold, you have a 3m burst aoe combo, nova-cone-snap-nova-cone, with arcane power is a massive aoe damage.

Tier 5:
Arcane Tempest for single target, Living Bomb for 3-5 Targets, Frost Bomb for more than 5.
I personally just roll with Arcane Tempest, to be fair.


Agree, Nether Tempest feels the best for PvE. But I prefer Living Bomb for PvP. Nether Tempest breaks polymorph, that's really anoying in arenas and challenge modes.
Tier 1:
Options are Presence of Mind and Scorch. Pick Presence of Mind for fights where you stand still or have to move very little. Pick Scorch if you find yourself moving a lot.


I prefer Ice Floes, I love to chanel missiles while moving.

Tier 2:
Options are Ice Barrier and Temporal Shield. Ice Barrier is a great pick for everything, Temporal Shield is great for fights where you only need to be concerned about burst damage.


I chose Temporal Shield for a bit silly reason,you can have Incanter's Ward and Temporal Shield in the same buton with a macro.

Tier 3:
Pick whatever, Ring of Frost is probably the most useful for PvE.


Imo, Ice Ward is mandatory for arcane. Cast it on the target's target before barrage and boom! In PvP it helps casting Deep Freeze, really useful.

Tier 4:
Pick Cauterize, it always works and is always a great choice.


I prefer Cold Snap, with glyph of Cone of Cold, you have a 3m burst aoe combo, nova-cone-snap-nova-cone, with arcane power is a massive aoe damage.

Tier 5:
Arcane Tempest for single target, Living Bomb for 3-5 Targets, Frost Bomb for more than 5.
I personally just roll with Arcane Tempest, to be fair.


Agree, Nether Tempest feels the best for PvE. But I prefer Living Bomb for PvP. Nether Tempest breaks polymorph, that's really anoying in arenas and challenge modes.


This is a PvE orientated guide, this may not be obvious yet, but it will soon be when I add the rest.

Also playing Arcane in PvP.

What are your thoughts on fishing for Arcane Missiles using a mix of Scorch and Arcane Blast while staying at 6 stacks of Arcane Charges?
Using Rune of Power over Invocation, I find that -- with bad luck and Mana Gem on cooldown -- the mana of an Arcane mage may actually deplete below 80 percent at a steady pace. But I also find that weaving Scorch into your Arcane Blast spam helps a lot, though if this is a gain in overall damage I do not know.


It's better to keep fishing with Arcane Blast and then try to get the mana back by playing a bit more conservative or such. This is where the high skillcap of Arcane kicks in, making such choices and planning how to spend your mana and when to regen it.
I agree that Icy Floes are better then scorch just an opinion tho.
You don't have to keep moving for far too long, just refresh your bomb when its about to expire and consume your missiles with ice floes on the move.Gives out more damage on the move then what scorch does.
Thanks for you're Guide it's really appreciated, i'll be interested in reading this thoroughly to see if i can maybe play arcane style and see what it's about as i've not tried it, frost till 40 then fire ever since ^^.
Ice flows is completely bollocks for me.Scorch really gives the confidence you need for this turret spec.The most important thing about it is that it costs close to no mana and it procs missiles.
If,by scorching, you manage to keep the 6 stacks up only with missiles and not waste any potential missiles and keep mana regening(meaning you're not at 100%), you don't really loose much dps as just reseting stacks with barrage to regain mana.
Depending on your luck with missiles procs, it feels sometimes like it's better to keep scorching and use missiles on every occasion in a regen phaze.
This is with the rune of power spec.I personnally don't like invocation for arcane.I find myself very frequently loosing stacks after an evocation for various reasons.And that screws over your dps bigtime.
I agree that Icy Floes are better then scorch just an opinion tho.
You don't have to keep moving for far too long, just refresh your bomb when its about to expire and consume your missiles with ice floes on the move.Gives out more damage on the move then what scorch does.


Icy Floes has a long cool down. For short movement bursts you're better off picking PoM anyway. For long movement, Icy Floes isn't enough and you'll need scorch.
Never drop your 6 stacks of Arcane Charge. Use scorch to manage your mana. If you drop below 90% mana, 1 or 2 scorch is enough depending on your haste.
05/12/2012 03:48Posted by Mishh
Never drop your 6 stacks of Arcane Charge. Use scorch to manage your mana. If you drop below 90% mana, 1 or 2 scorch is enough depending on your haste.


Even if you are correct - just for lulz :D
22:49:58> [Your] Arcane Barrage hit [Elegon] 1314221 Arcane. (Critical)
Arcane Blast (spell). This is our main nuke and rotational ability. Arcane Blast generates Arcane Charges and increases it's damage by 24% and cost by 125% for each charge.

The percentages are actually 25% (damage increase) and 75% (mana cost) per stack. Without the latter we probably wouldn't speak about Arcane as a raiding spec.
Cauterize isn't the best spec for all fights. For example elegon heroic, greater invis is better. Will of the emperor heroic greater invis could also be way more beneficial. (allows you to soak 4 mobs or so)

Temporal shield > ice barrier on almost anything. Not only is it off the GCD, it also will give you way more effective hp than ice barrier will in almost any occasion.

Icy floes is a viable talent on some occasions. (garajal, feng, garalon if you're not kiting, etc) Agree in almost any situation pom/scorch will be better though.

Bombs: Living bomb and nether tempest are very close single target. The difference is, living bomb is "easier" to use than nether tempest, because you can re-apply living bomb anywhere in the last 1.5 seconds, without losing any damage, whereas with nether tempest you need to use it in the last 0.3 seconds to not lose any damage.

Rotations are very dependant on your level 90 talent, but in general, You wanna stay at 6 stacks the entire fight long, unless you need to aoe from range. Rotation AB and AM at 6 stacks should keep you there quite easily with any of the level 90 talents. (If you don't spec PoM, you will lose your 6 stacks every evocation though)
AoE for Arcane is just spamming LB/NT and Arcane Missile on Procs. If you are unlucky with AM procs, use an Arcane Blast or an Arcane Explotion so you dont drop your Arcane Charges
hi guys
after reading ur guide i just went and try few runs in LFR and normal run MSV raid as Arcane spec

1st my mage is normal gear 489 item lvl i manage to get mastrey to 11.4k full buff run with flasks + 2 pots + 300int food ( i am panda so its 600int foor me )

any way this what i get

1st boss normal MSV
ofc i stay Fire dps was after nerf : 100k ,
but i was chain from start of fight and was stuck with noob shaman who keep moving ><
my best was in 5.1 ( before nerf 136.8k dps " no jasp chain fight ) before 5.1 was around 110~120
so its like 20% less dmg which we already know from nerf

i try it in LFR ( zerg all 3 )
did 175k dps as fire ( LB on all 3 all time )

2nd boss normal MSV
for some reasen i try fire did 67k dps vs my Arc mage friend which is (8k mastrey raid buff ) did 75k dps

in lfr i run it 2 time
As Arcane i did 80k , as Fire i did 75k

3rd boss
well this boss all know dmg meater sux a bit becouse when u enter totem dps mix up blah blah blah so skip it
(was 86k dps as arc in normal mode any way)

4th boss
Arcane dos was 75.8k in normal mode with few wrong / bad luck move

in lfr
80k dps as Arcane and 75k dps as fire ( best was 5.1 before nerf fire was 92k)

5th boss
this is where it get cool
My best was fire 5.1 before nerf as 156.9k dps ( with killing 4 orb wave then dps boss on 5th )
Arcane today i just hit 141k dps ( 5 orb wave )

in lfr
cant becouse most time ppl fail on 1st wave so i stuck with 120k dps as Arcane

6th boss normal
70k dps as arcane ( can do more i guess but was late >< )

Any way i was just sharning this info / numbers becouse i will love to see other ppl numbers on Arcane in diffrent bosses / better gear

i know some will say arcane borning etc etc but hey fire now is borning as hell also with RNG fire ball most time
but some of us like me rly only care about dps and i dont mind pressing 1 and 2 if i can help my raid and kill bosses so what u guys think is Arcane now rdy for the raid " not all bosses ofc "

and which bosses do u think Arcane cant be used on ?
( i know 3rd boss in HoF is bad idea to be arcane for )

Thx all for reading and have nice day


ps. do u think Arcane can out dps fire ? and on what bosses ?
and which bosses do u think Arcane cant be used on ?
( i know 3rd boss in HoF is bad idea to be arcane for )

Thx all for reading and have nice day


ps. do u think Arcane can out dps fire ? and on what bosses ?


Holy Lord, I did not read all that stuff you wrote but.

Arcane is viable on almost every encounter, with some notable exceptions, like Will of the Emperor heroic.

Arcane does out DPS Fire, though Fire is still pretty close. On cleave fights, Fire will generally win.

Edit: I'll start working on the next part tomorrow.

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