The Arcane Mage is something of a jack-of-all-trades ranged DPS class in WOW, boasting amazing versatility with strong damage performance across the board. This comes at the cost of an increased complexity of playstyle though, and that's where our Arcane Mage guide comes in. We’ll show you the best way to talent and play this spec while progressing in levelling content, world-quests, raids and dungeons.
When it comes to raw damage output, this specialisation is weaker than its Fire Mage counterpart, but it provides a bit more control on how and when you direct said damage output, making it stand out in fights (or phases of fights) where a target needs to be dealt a large amount of damage reliably and in a short time window.
In this Arcane Mage guide, we’re going to focus on a talent choice that is simple to play and easy to learn while not significantly sacrificing performance as a damage-dealer in dungeons. It will also help you level up and quest easily.
That said, this is still the most complex of Mage specializations, as it requires careful management of your mana and that implies a dual set of rotations. If you are new to the Mage business, you should probably dip your toe into the other specializations first. Luckily, we have both a Fire Mage guide and a Frost Mage guide for your perusal!
Over time, we’ll update this guide with advice for optimally developing the Arcane Mage Artifact Weapon, and a section aimed at helping you select the best gear for your Arcane Mage.
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Arcane Mage talent build
This is our favorite Arcane talent build, one that was crafted with the aim of minimising the inherent complexity of the specialisation, while performing well in most situations.
|Level||Talent Option||Reason for Choice|
|15||Arcane Familiar - Summon a Familiar that attacks your enemies and increases your maximum mana by 10%. Lasts 60 min.||A bigger mana pool is especially important for Arcane, helping you manage your rotations better. The passive damage here is a nice bonus.|
|30||Cauterize - Fatal damage instead brings you to 35% health and then burns you for 28% of your maximum health over 6 sec. While burning, movement slowing effects are suppressed and your movement speed is increased by 150%. This effect cannot occur more than once every 2 min.||A passive safety net, this gives you a short window to recover from what would otherwise have been a fatal blow.|
|45||Rune of Power - Places a Rune of Power on the ground for 10 sec which increases your spell damage by 50% while you stand within 8 yds. Max 2 charges.||While this ability requires you to have a keen grasp of the rotation - in addition to a knowledge of when, during any given fight, you will or will not be required to move - the huge payoff in additional damage is well worth the added complexity.|
|60||Supernova - Pulses arcane energy around the target enemy or ally, dealing Arcane damage to all enemies within 8 yards, and knocking them upward. A primary enemy target will take 100% increased damage.||This is a very cost-effective spell that will become a fixture of your main rotation.|
|75||Ice Floes - Enables you to cast while moving. This spell has 3 charges.||Using this will allow you to move while doing your rotation, which is helpful when fighting stronger mobs.|
|90||Nether Tempest - Places a Nether Tempest on the target which deals Arcane damage over 12 sec to the target and to all enemies within 10 yards. Limit 1 target. Damage increased by 60% per Arcane Charge.||This is the most effective talent in this tier, and also a staple of our rotation.|
|100||Quickening - Arcane Blast, Arcane Missiles, and Arcane Explosion also grant 2% Haste for 6 sec, stacking up to 50 times. This effect is cleared when you cast Arcane Barrage.||A powerful passive buff that will be constantly applied during the natural course of our rotation.|
Arcane Mage rotation
The main goal of our rotation is to maximise your mana usage during a combination of Arcane Power and Rune of Power, two cooldowns on a relatively short timer that you can deploy at will. After that is done, you use the Evocation ability to top up your mana reserve, and then try to keep dealing damage without speeding too much mana, as you want to pool it for when Arcane Power is available again.
The best way to manage this is to keep two rotations in mind - instead of detailing a multiple target and a single target rotation, what you’ll find below is an “Arcane Power” rotation and an “Evocation” rotation, thus labeled for the spell that marks their start. You will spend your playtime alternating between these as the proper cooldown comes online.
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Arcane Rotation - Arcane Power
You will enter this rotation as soon as you have 4 Arcane Charges (generated via Arcane Blast) and both Arcane Power and Rune of Power available to deploy. Then, you need to use the ensuing 10 seconds of God-like power to expend as much of your mana is possible on your stronger spells.
|Action||Condition / Further Instructions|
|1||Rune of Power||If you have 4x Arcane Charges and Arcane Power is off cooldown.|
|2||Arcane Power||Right after activating Rune of Power|
|3||Arcane Missiles||If available (casting other spells will enable you to cast this)|
|5||Repeat from step 3||If you still have mana and the Arcane Power Buff|
|6||Continue to the Evocation Rotation||If you have run out of mana or Arcane Power has expired.|
Arcane Rotation - Evocation
With the Evocation rotation (which will represent about 75% of your playtime), your job is to keep dealing consistent damage while saving as much mana as possible for the next time Arcane Power is available. This, we’re afraid, depends heavily on your gear and needs to be learned via experience - but as a rule of thumb, if you run out of mana before Arcane Power expires, then you’re being too “greedy” during your Evocation phase.
|Action||Condition / Further Instructions|
|1||Evocation||This will replenish your mana and reset your Arcane Charges.|
|2||Rune of Power||If you are reasonably sure you won’t need to move much in the next 10 seconds or so.|
|3||Mark of Aluneth||This is only available at level 100, once you acquire your Artifact Weapon.|
|4||Arcane Blast||This generates Arcane Charges, and you will often cast several in sequence as many of the rotation’s spells are most effective at 4 Arcane Charges.|
|5||Arcane Missiles||If available and at 4 Arcane Charges.|
|6||Nether Tempest||If at 4 Arcane Charges.|
|7||Arcane Barrage||If you are running low on mana - this will clear Arcane Charges and allow you to regenerate.|
|9||Arcane Explosion||At 3+ targets.|
|10||Repeat from step 3||If Arcane Power is not available.|
|11||Continue to the Arcane Power Rotation||If Arcane Power is available.|
This is the end of our Arcane Mage guide - for now! In an update coming soon, you can expect to see sections detailing stat and gear recommendations, as well as suggestions on how to develop your Artifact Weapon.
Your feedback is greatly appreciated: please take the time to use the comments section below and let us know if we missed something!