Arcane Mage DPS Guide for Maximum Damage
Updated for Warlords of Draenor
Warlords of Draenor is here and there have been a few changes, though not like the last two expansions. Some abilities have been trimmed or moves to one or another spec (for example, you no longer have Shatter, but Presence of Mind is exclusively yours.)Alter Time & Mirror image are now talents. And, of course, ten more levels and a new talent row.
You can see our Mage Changes in Warlords post for more details.
This page covers Arcane for PvE content (raids and such,) so if you’re looking for PvP or leveling then see the links just below.
|This Arcane Mage guide is primarily intended for Raid DPS use (and other PvE content) at level 100. However, the principals will still apply during the leveling process. If you’re looking for advice on leveling your Mage, check out our Mage Leveling Guide.
If you want the same in-game step by step leveling guide that we use to get to level 100 as fast as possible, take a look at our favorite in-game leveling guide.
Other Mage Guides:
Arcane Mage Talents
Talents can be easily changed to suit particular fights or situations. Keep a stack of Tome of the Clear Mind handy and swap them as necessary. Ditto with glyphs. Note that many of the talents are quite good for general use, so don’t hesitate to experiment.
Descriptions are below the image and our talent picks are checked . (If you’re still leveling then go here to level faster.)
Tier 1, level 15
- Evanesce – Avoid all attacks for three seconds and replaces your Ice Block. If you need a “save me, now” ability more often than Ice Block then this is your pick.
- Blazing Speed is a nice little speed boost, which can be handy to getting to, or out of, stuff. You still have blink, of course, and can use B. Speed when it’s on cooldown.
- Ice Floes Gives you a chance to cast while moving and has three charges. Depending on the fight that could be very useful. If you don’t need the sprint from Blazing Speed then take this one.
Tier 2, level 30
None of these add to DPS, other than allowing you to live long enough to continue dealing your damage.
- Alter Time, when timed right, can either extend your burst or avoid large quantities of damage. Use it just before your “unleash hell” (burst) phase or just before that massive incoming damage. Note that it doesn’t help if that damage kills you.
- Flameglow constantly mitigates some damage. It’s a great choice for fights where you anticipate taking constant, relatively minor, damage. It won’t make you a tank, but it will make the healer’s (and your) lives a bit easier.
- Ice Barrier doesn’t absorb a ton, but it can save your but in the right situation and you don’t have to time it as well as Alter Time.
Tier 3, level 45
Which one of these you pick depends on the situation. None add to your DPS and all are only useful against trash.
- Ring of Frost is an AoE CC for any encounter in which you might need it, such as a patrol. Keep in mind that it takes a couple of seconds to do it’s thing, even with Presence of Mind.
- Ice Ward might be difficult to find a good use for, but has decent creative potential. For example, if you’re helping someone to kite a mob or mobs.
- Frostjaw is a single target root and silence, which is always useful, especially against caster adds. For groups, Ring of Frost will be superior.
Tier 4, level 60
- Greater Invisibility is a decent survivability option and, depending on the encounter, can compete with Cauterize, Useful if you tend to, somehow, gain aggro or get dotted up.
- Cauterize is beautiful by virtue of its simplicity. Instead of dying, you don’t, which is perfect for those You Will Die Now moments. You will burn, but it gives your healer a chance to get to you and your Ice Block cancels the burn.
- Cold Snap resets your Presence of Mind, along with Ice Block and Frost Nova, and provides a small heal. If you don’t need the defensive abilities of the other two then this is a solid choice.
Tier 5, level 75
All three are about equal for single target while NT and S’nova are better for groups.
- Nether Tempest takes a “snapshot” of your current charges and bases its damage from there, both to the primary target and to all other targets within 10 yards. If you reapply it within the last 3.6 seconds you add that remaining time to your new application. Can only be used on one target at a time. When fighting groups or waves take a look at Supernova instead.
- Unstable Magic is the easiest to use of these three, doing good single target damage and decent A of E damage. You don’t have to change anything about your rotation, just blast away.
- Supernova replaces your Frost Nova. It deals 400% damage to the main target and a pulse that does 200% to all targets within 8 yards, in addition to knocking them upwards. Two charges on a 25 second cooldown. Very nice choice for waves of adds and not bad for single target.
Tier 6, level 90
Mirror is nice for short fights or where a burst phase is required. Otherwise, if you can stay in one place take Rune. If you have to move around too much for that, take Incanter’s flow.
- Mirror Images creates three images which blast away for decent damage. They all of your stats except Mastery, which is the one you really want them to have. Nice for a 25 second burst every couple minutes.
- Rune of Power is the simplest to use of this tier, seeing as all you have to do is stand in it to get that 15% damage increase and blast away. Best used on fights with little or no movement or where you can place yourself such that you don’t need to move. Place the rune(s) and blast away.
- Incanter’s Flow can work well with Supernova and your Mastery if you can cast it at peak flow and peak mana. Otherwise it’s an average of about a 12% boost which doesn’t require you to stay in one place.
Tier 7, level 100
These three are very close in value, with the Crystal only falling off due to certain potential positioning issues.
- Overpowered: Casting your Arcane Missiles extends your Arcane Power by 2 seconds. Nice choice for both single target and group damage and boosts the value of Unstable Magic (through your Arcane Power.)
- Prismatic Crystal: Puts a crystal at the targeted location. Only you can attack it and it takes 130% damage from your attacks. Any time it takes damage it instantly releases that damage, splitting it evenly among all enemies within 8 yards. The downside is the possibility of your tank, or some other mechanic, moving the target(s) away from your crystal.
- Arcane Orb: Your Arcane Orb travels up to 40 yards doing damage to everything it passes through and it generates an Arcane Charge every time it does damage. Nice way to build charges without casting Arcane Blast.
As with talents you can change these as necessary.
- Glyph of Arcane Power – doubles the damage boost, but increases the cooldown to 3 min. Nice for “burn it down” phases.
- Glyph of Arcane Explosion – For AoE situations
- Glyph of Counterspell – useful if you use the spell often.
Most of the minors are pretty much just cosmetic.
- Glyph of Momentum – Nice for strafing. Blink in the direction you’re moving rather than looking.
Arcane Stat Priorities
Warlords note: Your Hit, Expertise, and Reforging are all gone. You have two new stats, Versatility and Mastery, both of which will have some value. The exact value of these two remains to be seen, but it they should be close to the priority below.
- Stat Priority: Intellect > Mastery > Haste=Multistrike > Critical > Versatility
Int is your “go to” stat and is more important than any secondary stat. It is your Spellpower, so improves any damage that you do. It no longer adds to Crit.
Mastery rewards you for keeping your mana high. So stack this stat way up and keep your mana as high as possible though evocation, potions, good management, etc.
Haste speeds up everything you do, including burning mana. Spells cast faster and DoTs tick faster. Lots of Haste is a good thing, but you will have to watch your mana a bit more closely.
Multistrike gives you a chance for one or two additional strikes at 30% effect. Obviously this will be a straight up DPS add and should be as valuable as Haste.
Crit – it’s not that Crit is bad or useless, it’s that the other stars are better. Any gear with Crit on it should have that Crit reforged to Mastery or Haste.
With Reforging dead you will have to stack stats the old fashioned way, through gear, gem, and enchant choices. There are new enchants for your rings and neck items that will add your choice of stats (Mastery.)
In-Depth Rotation Guide for the Arcane Mage
Keep your mana as high as you can at all times to take advantage of your Mastery. Potions can help keep it up.
Arcane Charge is a stacking buff that increases the damage of a number of your abilities as well as the mana cost of some of them. Managing this buff allows you to maximize your damage while at the same time not allowing your mana to drop too low so that we can also continue to benefit from our mastery. Arcane Charge lasts for 10 seconds and stacks up to a maximum of 4 times, each stack providing the following effect:
- Arcane Blast – Damage increased by 50% per charge and mana cost by 100% per charge and it generates a charge.
- Arcane Missiles – Damage increased by 50% per charge and it generates a charge.
- Arcane Explosion refreshes your charges and has a chance to generate one charge if at least one target is hit.
- Arcane Barrage comsumes all charges – Damage increased by 50% per charge and strikes an additional target, per charge, for 50% damage.
- Evocation consumes all charges and its mana regen is increased by 25% per charge used.
What to do
- Arcane Missiles should be cast whenever it procs as essentially a mana-free Arcane Blast which is important given that our strategy revolves around maintaining as close to a full mana pool as possible at all times.
- Arcane Barrage should be used to dump Arcane Charges when you’ve built a stack of 4 charges.
- Arcane Power should be activated when available at which time you then spam Arcane Blast and Arcane Missiles whenever it procs until Arcane Power fades.
- If you took Presence of Mind you should use it as often as possible to instantly cast Arcane Blast.
Your level 90 talent is to be used as available.
Multiple Target Rotation/AoE:
- Nether Tempest is ideal for facing small groups of 2-4 enemies in which case you should aim to refresh the effect with around 3 seconds remaining.
- Cast Arcane Barrage when your Arcane Charge stack is equal to one less than the total number of enemies as each charge causes Arcane Barrage to hit one additional target for 50% of normal damage.
Tier 1 Talented Abilities:
- Use Ice Floes (if you took it) whenever movement is demanded to continue casting Arcane Blast or Arcane Missiles.
- Use Blazing Speed (if you have that instead) to position yourself as necessary to continue blasting away.
Tier 5 Talented Abilities:
- Nether Tempest should be refreshed on the target at around 3 seconds remaining. That remaining time is added to the new spell’s duration.
- Supernova is very nice for blasting groups and when combined with Prismatic Crystal (level 100 talent) it’s probably overpowered (expect a nerf.)
You have three cooldowns of interest for DPSing:
- Presence of Mind gives you an instant cast of Arcane Blast every 90 minutes. It’s a minor DPS gain.
- Arcane Power is your major DPS cooldown. Use on cooldown, unless you need to save it for a particular phase of the fight. Note that the Improved Arcane Power perk reduces the cost of your spells, instead of increasing them. The glyph of Arcane Power doubles the bonus and the cooldown time.
- Time Warp is a very powerful raid cooldown. It should be used when your raid leader tells you to use it, as you can only receive its buff once every 10 minutes. This cooldown is shared with Heroism/Bloodlust.
More on the Arcane Mage “Rotation”
The following section was taken from Berlinia’s Arcane Mage Guide on MMO-Champion.
The Arcane Mage constantly rotates around two phases, the Conserve Phase and the Burn Phase. The Conserve Phase is what you will be doing most of the time, and is a playstyle that you employ when you want to remain on high mana levels. The Burn Phase on the other hand is the practice of using the 400% increase to Arcane Blast’s mana cost at 4 Arcane Charges to your advantage, in order to burn through your mana as fast as possible.
This phase might seem contradictory to what I just wrote about benefiting from Mastery, but is done because Arcane Blast does a very high amount of damage during this phase. In order to start your Burn Phase you need to keep an eye to your Evocation cooldown, because when you finish burning your mana you want to get it right back up and continue with the Conserve Phase. The Arcane playstyle is a constant rotation between Burn and Conserve cycles.
There is no set rotation for Arcane Mages, just a priority list. This is the priority list for the Mana Conservation Phase which is the phase you will mostly be executing.
- Cast Arcane Missiles when you have 3 stacks of Arcane Missiles!.
- Cast Arcane Blast when you have more than 93% Mana at the start of your cast, and you have 4 stacks of Arcane Charge.
- Cast Arcane Missiles when you are at 4 stacks of Arcane Charge
- Cast Arcane Barrage at 4 stacks of Arcane Charge
- Cast Arcane Blast
This is the basis of the Conserve Phase. Essentially what you do at this phase is that you:
- Build Arcane Charge stacks with Arcane Blast or Arcane Missiles to prevent capping,
- Use your Arcane Missiles at 4 stacks of Arcane Charge, except if over 93% Mana; then you cast Arcane Blast ,
- Use Arcane Barrage to reset your Arcane Charges.
Just like with the Conserve Phase, the Burn phase does not follow a strict rotation but rather a priority list. This phase is heavily tied to the cooldown of your Evocation and can only be started when you are at 4 Arcane Charges.
- Cast Arcane Power.
- Cast Arcane Missiles.
- Cast Arcane Blast if you have more than 50% mana.
- Cast Evocation if you have less than 50% mana and 4 stacks of Arcane Charge.
This is the priority list tied to the Burn Phase. What this list essentially tells you is that you should cast Arcane Missiles as they proc, and then burn your mana until you have less than 50% mana. Due to the high mana costs of Arcane Blast at 4 stacks of Arcane Charges, you will need to know the mana costs of your spells of your spells so you know when to execute the third step of the priority list.
Now that we have defined the two phases, you need to understand how and when to rotate around the two. The Conserve Phase is your rest phase, and is executed whenever your cooldowns are down. The Burn Phase is tied to the cooldown of Evocation which with the perk Improved Evocation has its cooldown reduced to 1.5 minutes. With this cooldown, you can tie every Burn Phase with an unglyphed Arcane Power or you can tie every second Burn Phase with a glyphed Arcane Power
Keeping in mind that before starting a Burn Phase you want to reach 4 stacks of Arcane Charges
End mmo-champ borrowing.
Gems for Arcane Mages
If you find yourself short of the cash needed to buy expensive gems then you should see this post.
Gems with secondary stats have twice the value of gems with primary stats, so your Haste gems are 20 points and your Int gems are 10.
Your Mage bonus adds to any Int gem bonuses, making them worth 5% more Int, that bonus does not add to other stats. If you do want to match a socket bonus you can use Reckless Vermilion Onyx in your fellow slots and Veiled Imperial Amethyst in your blue slots.
In Warlords the stat squish is in, but since everything has been squished the gems still have close to the same value as before. Gems that added Hit now add Crit, those that added Expertise now add Haste. Prismatic gems fit any socket and the Warlords gems require item level 600+. See the bottom of the table for those gems.
Socket Matching suggestions:
Note: The Greater Mastery Taladite (+50 Mastery) will be superior to any of the Mists of Pandaria gems.
- Meta: Get the Courageous Primal Diamond if you can, otherwise Burning Primal Diamond will do.
- Red sockets: Brilliant Primordial Ruby
- Yellow: Artful Vermilion Onyx
- Blue: Veiled Imperial Amethyst
|Meta||Courageous Primal Diamond: +20 Intellect and chance on beneficial spell to make your spells cost no mana for 4 sec.
Ember Primal Diamond: +14 Intellect and +2% Maximum Mana
|Red||Brilliant Primordial Ruby: 10 Int|
|Yellow||Quick Sun’s Radiance: +20 Haste
Fractured Sun’s Radiance: +20 Mastery
|Blue||Rigid River’s Heart: +20 Crit|
|Orange||Reckless Vermilion Onyx: 5 Int, 10 Haste
Artful Vermilion Onyx: +5 Int & +10 Mastery
|Green||Sensei’s Wild Jade: +10 Crit and +10 Mastery|
|Purple||Veiled Imperial Amethyst: 5 Int and 10 Crit|
|Prismatic||Greater Mastery Taladite: +50 Mastery
Mastery Taladite: +35 Mastery
Greater Multistrike Taladite: +50 MultiStrike
Multistrike Taladite: +35 Multistrike
Greater Haste Taladite: +50 Haste
Haste Taladite: +35 Haste
|Cogwheel||requires an engie helm, such as this.
Quick Tinker’s Gear: 38 Haste
Smooth Tinker’s Gear: 38 Crit
Fractured Tinker’s Gear: 38 Mastery
Short on gold? If you want to buy the best enchants, fund all of your alts, donate to the guild, etc., but don’t have the cash, then see what the Tycoon Addon can do about about fixing your poverty.
Helm enchants are gone in Mists of Pandaria, shoulder enchants all come from the Inscription profession.
In Warlords the stats squish is in, but since everything is squished your enchants will still have nearly the same relative value. Also note that rings and neck items can now be enchanted. Note that the Mists enchants cannot be added to items higher than ilevel 600.
|Various Caster Enchantments|
Main & Off-Hand
|Shoulders||Greater Crane Wing Inscription: +15 Int and 5 Crit|
|Chest||Enchant Chest – Glorious Stats: +9 to all Stats|
|Bracers||Enchant Bracer – Super Intellect: +15 Int
Enchant Bracer – Mastery: +25 Mastery
|Gloves||Enchant Gloves – Superior Mastery: +25 Mastery|
|Belt||Livingsteel Belt Buckle: Gem slot for a nice Int gem|
|Leggings||Greater Cerulean Spellthread: +19 Int and +11 Crit|
|Boots||Enchant Boots – Pandaren’s Step: +10 Mastery, slight run speed increase.|
Consumables for the Arcane Mage
Note that Pandarens get twice the food buff. All food buffs last one hour.
Alchemists get roughly 30% more in stats from the chemicals and an extra hour in duration from Elixirs and Flasks. Note though, that the flask is better than any pair of elixirs.
- Mogu Fish Stew: 34 Int
- Braised Turtle: 31 Int
- Flask of the Warm Sun: 114 Int for an hour, Alchemists get 1,320, plus Mage Int bonuses, and 2 hours.
- Potion of the Jade Serpent: 456 Int for 25 seconds. If you pop one immediately before combat you will be able to pop another during combat.
- Master Healing Potion: Heals 12k HP
- Master Mana Potion: About 6k Mana
Professions for the Arcane Mage
In Warlords all of the profession perks are dead. No more extra Blacksmithing sockets, cloak enchant, etc. You might be best served by using your professions to build a larger gold stash.
Still, they’re not without some value, other than earning gold. See the notes below. The “best” profs? Probably tailoring for the gear and Engineering for the gadgets. For gold? Gathering is Ok. I’ve made a ton with Inscription and a fair amount with Blacksmithing. Others swear by Jewelcrafting. Tailoring and Enchanting can work very well, too.
|Tailoring||Make your own gear, including some nice entry level raid gear.|
|Leatherworking||Nothing much here for Mages|
|Jewelcrafting||Make nice gems, ring and neck items, gemmed mounts, cheaper leg armor.|
|Enchanting||Enchant rings and neck items and almost everything else.|
|Inscription||Make glyphs, fortune cards, caster items for main and off hands, shoulder enchants, misc other things.|
|Alchemy||Better living through chemistry and transmutation, but no explosives.|
|Engineering||has lots of interesting toys, including gliders, nitro boosts, and mounts.|
|Blacksmithing||Not much here for you, other than a couple of weapons.|
|Skinning||For the gold and to supply Leatherworking.|
|Herbalism||For the gold and to supply Alchemy and Inscription. Also you will be able to find life and mana spirits.|
|Mining||For the gold and to supply Blacksmithing.|
In Mists of Pandaria the Tauren are the only race that cannot become mages. Even the Pandarens can be Mages.
In Warlords any racial ability that raised Hit or Expertise is now dead. A few races that had those abilities got replacement abilities. For DPS purposes they are now all very close.
The Best? Draenei get an Int boost and Pandarens get an increased bonus from food buffs. Gnomes and Goblins get a 1% Haste boost.
Pandarens (Mists of Pandaria) can be either Alliance or Horde, they choose when they leave their starting area.
- They can put enemies to sleep (stun) with a touch of the paw, but you don’t want to be in melee range.
- Increased benefits from food buffs will be quite nice while raiding.
- Take less falling damage from being “bouncy.”
Alliance Races, in order of DPS gain:
- A minor heal is always handy for a class that has no heals. Also usable on others. Especially nice while leveling, though a bit of “topping off” in your raids will be handy.
- Draenei get a boost to their Int (and Str and Ag.) Since Int is your best stat this is rather nice.
- Draenei are good gemcutters.
- Can periodically move quickly, which is a generally nice ability in all cases.
- Crit chance increased, but Crit isn’t a great stat for you.
- Worgen are good with Skinning
- Gnomes have a useful Escape Artist skill. It’s more useful in PvP, but will still be handy at times. Unlike the Human escape, this one does not break roots.
- Gnomes have an increased mana pool, which is certainly of interest to any caster.
- Engineering skill doesn’t help casting, but that skill can make some nice gadgets which will help. Just be aware of backfires.
- +1% Haste
- Good for PvP with their Escape ability. Also allows the use of two DPS trinkets. This ability will have occasional use in PvE and leveling, as well. Unlike the Gnbome escape, this one does break roots.
- Diplomacy is nice if you are going to be gaining faction at any point and since so much past level 60 is a faction grind… Mists of Pandaria introduced even more factions.
- The Human Spirit now adds to your Versatilty stat, which isn’t bad at all.
- Their Shadowmeld ability has its uses in instances and raids it will drop the aggro you picked up until you unmeld. Hopefully the tank has picked the mob(s) up by then.
- Being a bit harder to hit is occasionally use while leveling or in PvP, but you will find little use for it in PvE.
- Faster movement while dead is an interesting perk, it’ll let you get back to the raid that much faster if no one has rezzed you.)
- 2% faster movement
- +1% Crit by day and +1% Haste by night.
- The stone form ability is rather nice, washing away bleeds and reducing damage taken by 10%, and the latter part of that will find occasional PvE use.
- +2% critical damage
- Dwarves are good with Archeology.
Horde Races, in order of DPS gain:
- Berserking increases casting speed by 15% for a few seconds. Very nice ability for any mage, drop it into a macro.
- Beast Slaying is a nice little bonus for leveling as it adds 25% XP
- Voodoo shuffle is a help in PvP, but very situational otherwise.
- Blood Fury adds to spell power as well as attack power. Put it in a macro. This one ability might make Orcs the best DPS choice for Arcane mages.
- No useful mage specific abilities, though the increased resistance to stun does have some general use.
- Will of the Forsaken is a nice PvP ability, but much more situational outside of PvP. Still, there are times in the raid where it will be “just the thing.”
- Cannibalize is useful every now and then, especially since you won’t have to carry food.
- Touch of the Grave is a passive ability that drains life and heals. It will add a bit to your damage numbers as well as improve your longevity.
- Indefinite Underwater Breathing might have some use, somewhere.
- 1% Increased Haste is useful stat for you
- Vendor discounts are always nice, esp. if you’re always broke.
- Your spells are far more damaging than the rocket launcher.
- Rocket leap is a useful escape ability, like an extra Blink.
- An increase to Alchemy skill.
- An increase to Enchanting skill is of no direct use, but ‘chanters get some self-only ‘chants which are nice.
- Arcane Torrent is of little use, since it doesn’t return much mana and the opponent has to be close to you for the silence to work and casters will rarely be that close (though DKs might be…) On the other hand, if you’re bouncing in to drop a Frost Nova on some caster trash then an AT might not be a bad thing to throw in along with it.
- +1% crit rating.
A nice discussion on “How To Arcane.” Does not covers talents or gear very much, it’s mostly rotations.
The Fast Mage Leveling Guide
Leveling a Mage or some other class? It’s pretty easy these days, especially with the Mists of Pandaria changes and since Mages excel at destroying things. Still, there are a lot of quests and a incredible number of things to kill. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a bit of help in the “where to go and what to do” department?
Zygor’s guide gives you that help, whether Horde or Alliance, at all times. It’s like having an expert showing you exactly where to go and what to do. Zygor’s has even gemmed for Int and, as a result, it doesn’t matter if you stop your questing to gain a few levels in PvP or the dungeons, you’re brand new to the game or you’re decked head to toe in heirlooms. Come back to the quests and Zygor will figure out where you should be, based on your new level, and update the guide accordingly. It’ll even let you zap your obsolete quests.
You’re not even locked into any particular build. Zygor’s guide has a talent advisor which will recommend talents regardless of your class or spec. All in all you’ll blast to 100 faster than ever before.
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