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Arcane Mages and You
Making the most of an underused yet valuable spec
Last updated November 13, 2007 @ 1:51:03PM
Viewed 2632 times

This post was yanked long ago from a mage forum of some sort... probably Elitist Jerks or the main WoW site. The poster was named Malicious.


Thought I'd write another post about Arcane mages and my experiances, now I've been raiding with the spec (and raided as fire as well). Aim of the post is to suggest :

1.) Gear and Talents
2.) Tips on playstyle and maximising output
3.) Specific SSC sxamples (And WWS linked parses)

As always, the caveats - I'm not a high end raider. We're a casual guild that raids 3 days a week, and we are at Lady Vashj right now (4% wipe sob). This isn't the be all and end all of Arcane magecraft, it's just my thoughts and ideas, with some stuff pulled from EJ as well. Criticisms and suggestions welcome!

A. Gear

First up, the most important bit.

Arcane spec is extremely viable in 5 player instances, workable but not optimum in 10 player, and sub-par in 25 player raids until you are able to get two pieces of Tier 5 gear. This activates the set bonus of 20% extra damage and mana cost on Arcane Blast.
Without that set bonus, don't bother. Fire is strictly better in all terms, and you'll spend a lot of gold and resources trying to play catchup for no gains at all. It's not fun facing up to that, but if you are intend on playing your best, fire is the better spec at this stage.

Once you have two pieces of Tier 5, Arcane becomes viable again. The boost is insane, and it is helped by the fact that the 20% extra cost to Arcane Blast only affects the *base* cost - it does not increase as you stack Arcane Blast debuffs up. (As otherwise it wouldn't ever be castable). At this point, you need to start changing your gear round extensively. Things to bear in mind are :

I.) Spellstrike and Spellfire no longer cut it. You need Intellect and Spirit as an Arcane mage, and you don't need spell hit. Good examples of replacement gear are the robe of Hateful Echoes from Hydross, the Belt of Blasting from trash drops, and Tier 5 legs and hat.

II.) The Lightning Capacitator is your mother, your father and your god. Due to a quirk in the way arcane works, this trinket is obscene - more details later, but until you get it, continue running karazhan each week and killing Illhoof until you get it. Arcane mages get more out of this trinket than any other in the game (including the Skull of Guldan), and no other class can affect it like we can.

III.) Examples of items that are better for arcane than other specs:

Robe of Hatreful Echoes
Velvet Slippers of the Guardian
Sextant of Unstable Currents
Tier 5 Legs / Hat / chest / shoulders
Belt of Blasting (for all mage specs equally, it's that good)

IV.) Items that you shoud pass on because other options are better, and other casters get more out of these :

Vestments of the Sea-witch
Boots of Blasting
Collar of the Grand Engineer
Serpent-Coil Braid

Gear that is not Good

Tier 5 gloves - whoever itemised these needs to never look at an item again. They are in every way inferior to Teir 4 gloves, and Spellfire are so much better it makes the baby jesus cry. Even if they are the only piece of Tier 5 you can get to activate the 2 piece bonus, wait until you can get something else. They are truly awful.

B. Talents

After parsing, I've ended up with the following talent build: Malicious' Build.

I've gone with this build for several reasons. The main one is that actually that I hardly ever cast fire spells. When I do, it's only ever scorch or a pyroblast. Any points spent into increasing fires DPS are extremely limited in their effect, as I only scorch once every 12 seconds basically.

I.) Improved Arcane Missiles is extremely useful because of fights like Vashj, Morogrim, Fathomlord and Hydross, where there's AE damage flying round that will interrupt your casts. You need a spell you can keep casting through damage, and Arcane Missiles is that spell.

II.) Magic Attunement - Amplify Magic is one of the best buffs in the game. Talented, it adds 360 extra healing to every heal cast on your main tank. This makes a HUGE amount of difference. The only fight in SSC where the tanks do *not* get this buff is Hydross. It should be on your tanks on every fight otherwise.

III.) Slow - remains useless for raiding.

IV.) No flamethrowing - the extra range is nice, but when your main damage spells are Arcane Missiles and Arcane Blast, any time you are having to use the extra range your DPS is so limited anyway you should just be moving into closer range. Other DPS classes manage it, we can too.

C. Playstyle

As mentioned in earlier posts, one of the main benefits to Arcane is the ability to have absolute control over your mana. You can be the most efficient caster in the raid, and actually be gaining mana from casting, or you can burn mana faster than ANYONE in an orgy of sparks and explosions. That's what makes it fun...

However, you do need a base "cycle" to fall back on that you can use for a good damage output without insane mana expenditure. The one I use, and the one most popular, is:

Arcane Blast
Arcane Blast
Arcane Blast
Arcane Missiles

This takes advantage of the arcane blast mechanics, in that if you time it right, you will cast the first arcane blast at 1.5 seconds speed cast, as you have the debuff at the start of your cast, but it only costs the basic cost because the debuff has worn off by the end of the cast. This is hard to master, and a lot more complex than any other catsing mechanism, but a huge benefit and large DPS increase.

However, cycles are just that - theoetical cycles designed to keep you going when you don't have anything else. You should ALWAYS be burning mana potion cooldowns / mana gems in arcane, as each directly ups your damage here. I often go through periods of spamming arcane blast, swapping in spirit weapons and evocating, then dropping back to this cycle until the boss nears death then spamming again. Or if the fight has break periods in it, I'll spam before a break, then rest up.

Your cycle is not a religous order you must follow, it is your default setting that you replace with Arcane Blast spam when you can. It's a judgement call, and you'll need to practice and learn the extent of your own mana bar, but after a while you'll get a hang for it.

Arcane is about flexbility and control, rather than just spell spamming. It takes time to learn and master, so don't expect instantaneous results.

Arcane Power

Only ever use Arcane Power when you are at a fully maxed out Arcane Blast and burning. The reason for this is, Arcane Powers extra damage effects the overall damage done by Arcane Blast - but the extra mana cost only applies to the *base* cost of Arcane Blast, so it hardly costs you any extra mana at all for the huge increase in power. Personally, I usually use arcane power about 10 seconds into a fight, once the tank has a bit of a head start in aggro, so that the cooldown comes up quickly. In between the cooldowns, I'll either continue burning or drop down to a more efficient cycle like the one above to be ready for the next time.

Managing Your Mana

For once, mana actually matters to us. You need a shadowpriest in your group - take no prisoners here, without it you may as well spec back to fire. If you're guild doesn't run shadowpriests (are you mad!), then get one. If you are lucky enough to have a shaman, or even better an elemental shaman, again, grab them - you can use their bonuses better than other classes!
The ideal caster DPs group would be an Elemental Shaman, Shadowpriest, 2 * Mage, Destruction Warlock. (Sorry Oomkin).

One downside to Arcane is the cost. You need Super Mana Potions, and you need lots of them. Be prepared to be doing daily quests or herbing a bit. Arcane converst mana directly into damage, and even on farmable mobs, if you want to be doing your fair share of the fight you'll need to be burning those cooldowns. If your guild runs with several feral druids like mine (we have 2 per raid), grab innervates as well if you can - after your shadowpriest, you are the best person to innervate unless a healer has really gone haywire and run out of mana!

Note that doesn't mean get mana regen gear. + to damage remains the best way of increasing your damage as an arcane mage. Just bear in mind you need more than it to function - gear with spirit on it actually really helps, and for once makes our class set very good.

ATM I'm using Mage armour on boss fights rather than Molten Armour, as I re-learn how to use my mana bar, but I haven't done the precise maths as to which would benefit me more. WWS parses of fire versus Arcane will be in the next post, and I'll try out molten armour next week and bring those up as well.

Judgement of Wisdom: It is completely possible to keep Judgement of Wisdom up on every single raid mob without it affecting healing at all, without a retribution paladin, and with your normal compliment of 7 healers. This is hugely important - as mana feeds into more damage for arcane. It also turns Arcane Missiles into one of the most mana efficient spells around, as each missile can proc the extra mana. Insist on your paladins using it, it is hugely important on all fights. Only on voidreaver should they be using something else.

Arcane Missiles and You

Arcane Missiles is a freaky, freaky spell. It's incredibly powerful with any effect that procs "on hit" - as it's a minimum of 5 hits in a 5 second period, which is substantially faster than any other spell. This is why the Lightning Capacitator is so powerful - using it with arcane missiles means a huge number of hits. So even though a fire specced mage will have ahigher crit rate, you will get a VASTLY higher number of procs as you are casting more than twice as many spells in the same time period.

If you have a lightning capacitator, then it is worth using Arcane Missle spam rather than Arcane Blast on Bloodlust to further abuse the trinket. It's that powerful.

Patch 2.2

Currently on the test server, Arcane Missiles has been further changed so that each missile counts as a seperate spell hitting for the purpose of procs. This isn't an accident, it's Blizzard attempting to give the spell a real use in the game. The main thing this changes is the [Mystical Skyfire Diamond]. This now has **6** chances to proc off each Arcane Missile - once when you cast the spell, and 5 times for each missile hitting.

This means that the gem is hugely powerufl in combination with arcane missiles and the Lightinng Capacitor - each effect is feeding each other, as the more procs of the gem you get, the more chances you have to proc again and to activate the capacitator. And when Bloodlusted, you'll cast an entire Arcane Missile Volley in 1.7 seconds. Fun...

If this goes live, it is well worth getting a hat with a meta-gem slot for this gem, and using it in your rotations. For more details, see the following EJ thread - Manly from EJ has done a lot of theorycraft over it :
Elitist Jerk's thread

What does this mean?

It means the following items in Patch 2.2 become REALLY good with Arcane Missiles. Some already are good of course...

Lightning Capacitator (already works)
Sextant of Unstable Currents
Magtheridons Eye (even with 1% resist rate, you'd be surprised)
Spellstrike Set bonus
Mystical Skyfire Gem
Wrath of Cenarius
Ashtongue Talisman of Insight

I'll update this if things change thouhg from test!

Is it worth it?

Short answer - yes
Long answer - if you like complicated mechanisms and using lots of pots...

Arcane is not easy to play, and it is more expensive. But it does have a lot of potential, and if you like complex mechanics rather than just fireball / frostbolt spamming, it is a great spec to play. Personally, I really like the challenge of making it work, and I think on many fights it is definitely better due to it's ability to splurge tons of mana and then regain it on break periods.

I've listed below each fight in SSC, and given a WWS parse of my guild from the last time I was fire spec (two weeks ago), and my arcane spec run from last night. These are only really useful comparing between myself, although the other mages on the parses are all fire so that can give you some idea. Also, of course, it's worth noting that for some reason that no-one can figure out, our raid DPs has substantially increased over the last few weeks, so please bear how that will affect the results in mind. (less adds on Hydross / Lurker, fewer demon phases on Leo etc).

NOTE: Due to the way WWS calculates DPS, Arcane will *always* show a higher DPS, as fire is automatically lowered by the fireball DoT effect. What this means is, if there is only a small diference between the two numbers, fire is probably better, but if it's fairly decent arcane is ahead).

NOTE 2: These are not e-peen posts or anything like that, or a reflection on my guild/me, they just are presented as is for those interested in Arcane mages in SSC. We aren't the world's best guild, we aren't bleeding edge raiders, but they help in giving a picture of the class and how the specs compare.

Saying that - here's SSC as Arcane! (positions aren't very useful, but may as well list them).

Hydross the Unstable

Fire WWS : (DPS of 1151, position 1)
Arcane WWS : (DPs of 1167, position 4)

Hydross is not a great Arcane fight. Arcane is NOT a good AE spec - fire, with Blast Wave and Dragons Breath, is much superior at this sort of fight. Combine that with the movement that disrupts your Arcane Blast cycles, and the huge mana expenditure when AE'ing, and this is one fight where you have to fight to maintain parity.
Saying that, it is possible to be just as good as a fire mage, it's just harder here. Don't expect amazing results from him.

The Lurker Below

Fire : (DPs = 953, position 2)
Arcane : (DPS = 1096, position 2)

This is a good fight for arcane. You can blast away with regards to aggro, you get multiple breaks to regain mana and evocate with a DPS loss, and improved arcane missiles is very powerful on the adds as you can't be interrupted by them.

My general tactics is to go all out when he first appears, using Arcane Power and Pyroblast and then spamming Arcane Blast like crazy, burning pot & gem cooldowns. When he submerges, I'll regain a bit of mana, kill the adds using a mana efficient cycle (always burn clearcasting procs on arcane missiles at this stage), and then pause for breath before he comes back up, and repeat. Where needed I'll swap in my evocation weapons and regain mana that way, and carry them until he comes back up to eek out more mana regen.

If you are in a shadowpriest group, you can spend the entire fight underwater if needs be, as their heals will heal for more than the water ticks. This allows you to blast contiously without suffering from geysers or spouts, extending your DPS time extensively.


Fire : (DPS = 1438, position = 1)
Arcane : (DPS = 1514, position = 3)

This is the worse fight in the zone for arcane. It relies on almost continous casting, massive amounts of Ae, and your spell cycles get thrown to hell by watery graves, earthquakes and the need to AE. I would definitely recommend mage armour here whilst you get used to the fight as arcane - and remember to use frost ward after each earthquake! . This is the worse type of fight for the spec.


Fire : (DPS : 876, position = 5)
Arcane : (DPS : 1025, position = 7)

This is actually a good fight for Arcane - several break periods, the need to burn some bosses and not on others etc. Unfortunately, the linked parses aren't that helpful, as theres a HUGE difference in raid dps between them (over 3000). As other people got a lot better at the fight, the mages dropped down, mostly due to the stupid, cursed, annoying whirlwinds that don't affect the DPS of hunters / warriors / rogues. Never the less, you should at least be able to equal a fire mage here with practice, and do better once you know how to play the fight arcane style.

I would recommend mage armour on this fight, as if you get hit by leeching throw from the hunter mob, it puts you in a world of pain.


Fire : (DPS : 1055, position = 1)
Arcane : (DPS : 1211, position = 1)

The perfect Arcane fight, in every respect. Play things very careful in the elf phase - don't go mad with mana, save your cooldowns, and just make sure you stay alive. As you don't have ignite to worry about, there's much less chance of a whirlwind creaming you.

Once the turns to demon - unleash. Blow all your cooldowns and spam arcane blast until he changes back. You shouldnt grab aggro due ot arcanes threat modifier, and you will provide vast amounts of damage. If you get an inner demon, don't panic - just frost nova it, back off, arcane blast it twice and it will die. They suffer extra damage from Arcane spells, so there's absolutely no chance you can't kill it.

I actually get innervated on this fight, as the healers don't need the mana, and I can use it very well, but on this parse I didn't even evocate as we only got 3 demon phases. Going insane on the demon phase is why we are here - abuse it!

Lady Vash

Arcane :

Only done this as arcane, so just linked the above parse to show it can work. Note that in phase 1, I go really slowly, as there's no rush and you want full mana for phase 2. In phase 2, go insane with mana and burn those striders down fast - arcane mages are superb on strider killing duty. I burn the striders with full spam, and then use the arcane missile cycle on naga's / elementals until the next one spawns.
Last edited by Maledict : August 17th, 2007 at 08:02 AM.
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