Arcane raiding guide!

#0 - June 1, 2009, 10:52 a.m.
Blizzard Post
***Post edited on the 28th of August with such changes for arcane ahead***

There are countless threads nowadays in our boards asking for advice as to how to raid with arcane and after posting in 3-4 of them and see a couple others being created, I've decided to try and help out as much as I can so all the questions can be summarised in one post. I'll either type it or paste stuff that I've myself written on other threads. Here goes! :)

-Advantages of being arcane:

  • Your hit needs are far lesser than that of a fire/ttw or frostfire build. That leaves you room to gear for more haste/crit with ease.

  • Controllable burst: unlike fire-based builds whose burst is random and based on crits/procs an arcane mage will decide when and how he wants that burst applied. It's the one advantage you have to exploit if you want to push competitive numbers.

  • No threat worries whatsoever - unless the tank dies or it's a threat sensitive fight with threat resets, it's nearly impossible to pull threat as arcane with a good tank, unlike fire builds.

  • Reactive playstyle: unlike fire builds whose rotation is a priority system arcane mages can tweak their rotation according to how much mana they can afford and how much HP their target has.

  • -Disadvantages of being arcane:

  • Mana, mana, mana. The blue bar will always be the first of your concerns. Unlike fire, you will have to use evocate at least once on every bossfight. If you can't guarantee a safe one your dps will go down. Replenishment is a must to keep up with heavy mana rotations and so is having a decent spirit rate.

  • No utility whatsoever. Leaving intellect/tables/focus magic aside arcane mages don't even bring crit buff so if it's utility what you are after you may consider other builds.

  • AoE capacity. Although fire/ttw isn't a great build either in this sense, the main AoEing spell arcane has requires you to get close to the target which can be both frustrating and dangerous. You will find yourself using frost/fire spells when AoE is needed.

  • -Build:

    This is the build I'm using:

    Explanation: Bear into mind, arcane talent tree is pretty bloated at the moment so while there's a few "must" talents that every mage will pick - torment the weak, missile barrage, etc - there's not enough points to pick everything that could possibly improve your raiding. For instance, I've left Arcane Stability out of my builds because during raids I'm hardly in a situation where I'm missing it. I've also left Magic Attunement out because I find range isn't a concern at all except for some situations.

    But you have to understand these were my personal choices. If for example you find increased range a necessity then by all means go for it, so long as you don't drop any fundamental talent!

    I would add as tip to use the filling points in frost tree and spec Frost Warding instead of Ice Shards. What would you prefer as arcane, higher crits on blizzard AoE or a 30% chance to negate a fire/frost based damage spell and restore as much mana as that spell would've caused? In fights such as Ignis, Hodir, Mimiron, Razorscale, it's an invaluable talent... Pop it before Ignis uses Flame Jets and watch how you absorb all the damage and regen 5k-6k mana for free!

    -Glyphs and armor:

    You should use Arcane Missiles, Arcane Blast and Molten Armor glyphs. You will be using Molten Armor during bossfights. As for Mage Armor, never glyph for it - with Arc.meditation and Mage Armor up you'll be capped at 100% regen already without the need of a further glyph - but don't hesitate to use it at lower gear levels or during long fights if you find mana an issue. As gear gets better, though, you will find using Molten Armor is more than enough.


    These are the steps I usually follow when gearing up as arcane:

  • Getting hitcapped: 11% off gear without raidbuffs, 8% with raidbuffs and even 7% if there's a draenei in your team, if the balance druid/spriest dies tho I'd have a weapon with hit ready - I use a staff from Freya 10 man - to be equipped as losing 3% hit midfight will mean dps will go down.

  • Here comes the hard part: have to balance your gear so you have high spellpower, high haste - haste > crit for arcane - decent spirit rate all while keeping a decent crit rate. (I aim for around 20% crit unbuffed) Luckily for us arcane mages there are plenty of items with high spellpower, haste and spirit - for instance, check Lifespark Visage off Flame Leviathan - Ulduar 10 man. That kind of item is brilliant for us.

  • So a quick recap: hitcapped > spellpower / haste > crit all while keeping a decent spirit rate.


    These are the ones I normally use:

  • Red: Runed Scarlet Ruby (19 spellpower)

  • Yellow: Reckless Monarch Topaz (9 spellpower - 8 haste)

  • Blue: Purified Twilight Opal (9 spellpower - 8 spirit) - although you could also use a Glowing Twilight Opal (9 spellpower - 12 stamina)

  • Meta: Chaotic Skyflare Diamond (21 crit rating and 3% dmg increase in crits) - been theorycrafted to death and this is by far the best meta for mages regardless of spec.

  • As for the epic gems which came out when 3.2 was released, the choices remain the same gems-wise: Runed Cardenal Ruby (23 spellpower) for red sockets, Reckless Ametrine (12 spellpower - 10 haste) for yellow sockets, and Purified Dreadstone (12 spellpower - 10 spirit) for blue sockets. Meta gem choice remains the same: Chaotic Skyflare Diamond.

    -Rotation (3.2.2 updated):

    These were the changes announced by GC a few weeks ago:

    * Arcane Blast: The buff from using this ability now stacks up to 4 times instead of 3, and each application increases mana cost by 130% instead of 200%.

    Let's see, with the new changes, this will be the mana cost for Arc.Blast on each charge:

    0 stacks = 215
    1 stack = 591
    2 stacks = 967
    3 stacks = 1343
    4 stacks = 1720

    * Missile Barrage: The effect from triggering this talent now removes the mana cost of Arcane Missiles. In addition, the chance for Arcane Blast to trigger this talent is now 8/16/24/32/40%. All other listed spells continue to have a 4/8/12/16/20% chance to trigger it.

    Yeah, you read that one right! The new effect for Missile Barrage talent, by the way, isn't replacing the old one - making the missiles fire in half the duration - but being added to it. Good news for us arcaneheads.

    The rotation will now be the following: Use Arc.Blast 4 times and since each cast now has a 40% chance to proc Missile Barrage you'll have the proc up nearly for sure. Fire those Arc.Missiles! To sum it up, Arc.Blast x 4 --> A.Missiles, repeat.

    -A concern for the arcane mage come 3.2.2: is it worth to push more dps at the cost of a less fun-to-play spec?:

    See these numbers to check the dps calculated for each rotation according to Simcraft from EJ:

  • AB spam: 7130.751 dps, 752.7504 mps
    ABx4+AMissiles (With Missile Barrage proc): 6988.205 dps, 227.2016 mps

  • Traditionally, an arc.mage juggles with mana in the sense that the more mana he uses, the more dps he pushes. But as shown by simcraft, with 3.2.2 changes, spamming Arc.Blast increases mana-per-second greatly where as the dps increase is but a measly 150ish dps. Why would you spend three times as much mana for slightly 150 more dps? This means arc.mages have no choice but to use ONE rotation and as such destroys what made this spec fun to play to begin with: the fact you could adjust your rotation to how much damage you wanted dealt - and how much mana you could afford.

    However, GC has acknowledged this in a post one week ago. Here's the linkie:

    To sum up what he said, they realise that dealing with mana was what made players feel attracted by arcane so they will try to make some changes before 3.2.2 is released so this "fun" factor when speccing arcane remains. We shall see about whether those words turn into something real so I'll leave this section open for updates. :)

    -Evocation: the blue "whoosh!" and you:

    Evocating safely is a must to push numbers as arcane. Actually - contrary to what people say about arcane being bad in long fights - if you can evocate when needed you can keep a heavy mana rotation forever. Generally speaking what you should do is learning boss abilities - i.e. the ones who will ruin your evo - and time evocation accordingly.

    For instance, wait for Ignis to cast Flame Jets before using it, or when doing Sarth with drakes up wait until the drakes have spawned their voidzone somewhere before popping evo - so it doesn't spawn ontop of your sorry mage arse while you are evocating.

    It usually helps to have a discipline priest shield you before you evocate in high damage fights and I have a whispering macro ready for that. Not only do those bubbles absorb up to 6k-7k with raidbuffs but they get mana back when casting them thanks to Rapture talent.

    Another tip - thanks Cinondra - is profiting of casting speed buffs - icy veins, heroism/bloodlust, procs from trinkets - to evocate even quicker to reduce the chance to have it interrupted. As a rule try to use the last second of such procs so you squeeze the most dps out of it.

    That was it, hope it helped, good luck for all the arcane-heads out there. :)
    #4 - June 1, 2009, 1:51 p.m.
    Blizzard Post
    This has been added to the compilation of great guides atop the mage forum. Nice work, Wrathyr!