Arcane Mage DPS Guide for the Mists of Pandaria

Updated for Mists of Pandaria 5.3

As always, Arcane tops a lot of damage charts, but maybe not by quite as much as before patch 5.2. Patch 5.3 didn’t change much, mostly some tweaks.

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.

Arcane Contents

  1. Arcane Talents
  2. Glyphs
  3. Stats
  4. Rotations
  5. Gems
  6. Enchants
  7. Consumables
  8. Professions
  9. Races
  10. Arcane Videos
  11. Leveling Quickly
This Arcane Mage guide is primarily intended for Raid DPS use (and other PvE content) at level 90. 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 90 as fast as possible, take a look at our favorite in-game leveling guide.

Click Here to Blast to 90 All the Way Through Mists!

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. Our talent picks are checked Best talent. (If you’re still leveling then go here to level faster.)

In Patch 5.2 there were two major changes. Scorch (tier 1) was changed to become a Fire specialization. It was replaced with the tier 2 talent: Blazing Speed. The new talent to replace Blazing Speed is Flameglow. Patch 5.3 didn’t change much of interest.

Arcane Mage Tier 1 Talents

  1. Best talent Presence of Mind is the optimal choice for standard fights, the instant cast is a simple boost to our damage dealing. Fire it off every 90 seconds. This is the only talent here that will add to your DPS.
  2. Blazing Speed is only useful if you’re getting snared a lot. Otherwise it does nothing for your DPS. Best for PvP.
  3. Ice Floes is the least useful of the three talents, but has its place if you anticipate short bursts of movement in a fight with enough time in between that Ice Floes is off cooldown when you next need to move. This one is probably more use for PvP than raiding/PvE.

Arcane mage tier 2 talents

None of these add to DPS, other than allowing you to live long enough to continue dealing your damage.

  1. Temporal Shield is the most interesting choice of this tier as it allows you to, with smart usage and good anticipation, completely mitigate large amounts of damage.
  2. Best talent Flameglow Flameglow constantly mitigates some damage. It’s a great choice for fights where you anticipate taking constant damage. It won’t make you a tank, but it will make the healer’s (and your) lives easier.
  3. Ice Barrier has one big advantage over Temporal Shield: you don’t have to anticipate damage nearly as much.

Arcane mage tier 3 talents

Which one of these you pick depends on the situation. None add to your DPS.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Best talent Frostjaw is a single target root and silence, which is always useful, especially against casters. For groups, Ring of Frost will be superior.

Arcane mage tier 4 talents

  1. Greater Invisibility is a more than decent survivability option, and depending on the encounter can compete with Cauterize, the other recommended choice from this tier. Useful if you tend to gain aggro or get dotted up.
  2. Best talent 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.
  3. Cold Snap doesn’t seem like it can really compare to the other choices of this tier and is better used for Frost PvP.

Arcane mage tier 5 talents

  1. Best talent Nether Tempest is the optimal choice for single target DPS and small groups. (It also has a cool spell effect if that matters.) It scales better with Haste the the others and procs more Arcane Missiles.
  2. Living Bomb is the weakest of the trio for Arcane.
  3. Frost Bomb does the best damage of the three on larger groups of 6 or more targets. It scales very poorly with Haste and doesn’t proc much in the way of Arc. Missiles. If you can get off a Ring of Frost right before FB detonates you will see some very nice numbers.

Arcane mage tier 6 talents

  1. Invocation is perhaps the most difficult to use talent of this tier. It’s good is you have time to cast it and you don’t mind having less mana regeneration. Overall it’s the least interesting of this set.
  2. Best talent Rune of Power is the simplest to use of this tier, seeing as all you have to do is stand in it. Best used on fights with little or no movement. Place the rune(s) and blast away. You lose Evocation, which might be a concern if you use that spell a lot.
  3. Incanter’s Ward is an interesting choice that works best when you anticipate taking at least a moderate amount of damage as otherwise the ability will largely go to waste. It does improve damage and mana regeneration while it is active, more if you take damage, and is the best choice for fights with plenty of movement.


Arcane Glyphs

As with talents you can change these as necessary.

  1. Glyph of Arcane Power – doubles the damage boost, but increases the cooldown to 3 min. Nice for “burn it down” phases.
  2. Glyph of Arcane Explosion – For AoE situations
  3. Glyph of Mana Gem – More charges = more mana recovered.
  4. Glyph of Evocation – Regain health when evocating.
  5. Glyph of Polymorph – removes DOTs from the target to make the spell stick.
  6. Glyph of Counterspell – useful if you use the spell often.
  7. Glyph of Blink – A bit more overall movement capability.

Minor Glyphs

Most of the minors are pretty much just cosmetic.

  1.  Mirror Images – This is claimed to be a (minor) damage increase, so use it.
  2. Glyph of Loose Mana – If you feel than regaining mana (from mana gem) over a few seconds is better than all at once.
  3. Glyph of Momentum – Nice for strafing. Blink in the direction you’re moving  rather than looking.


Arcane Stat Priorities

  1. Primary Stats: Intellect
  2. Secondary: Hit+Expertise+Racial to 15% total Spell Hit > Mastery > Haste
  3. Weak: Critical
  4. Useless: Total Spell Hit over 15% has zero value

Int is your “go to” stat and is more important than any secondary stat.

Hit and Expertise: Both of these stats add directly to your total Spell Hit rating, and you want a total of 15% Spell Hit.

If you have a piece of gear that has Hit and Crit you can reforge that Crit to Expertise and get more total Spell Hit as a result. If you’re Human or Gnome then your Expertise racial adds to your Spell Hit if you equip the appropriate weapons, Draenei get 1% Hit anyway.

Mastery rewards you for keeping your mana high (not that mages have a problem with that. You do a lot more damage with high mana than low. So stack this stat way up and keep you mana as high as possible though mana gems, 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.

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.


  • Get your 15% Spell Hi. Remember, Expertise adds in to this stat. You can reforge the second stat on a piece of gear to Expertise.
  • then reforge into Mastery and then Haste.


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 and mana gems can help keep it up.

Mage Armor should be active at all times as your armor of choice.

Arcane Blast is your primary damaging ability and used to build stacks of Arcane ChargeArcane 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 6 times, each stack providing the following effect:

  • Arcane Blast – Damage increased by 22% per charge and mana cost by 125% per charge.
  • Arcane Missiles – Damage increased by 22% per charge.
  • Arcane Barrage – Damage increased by 22% per charge and strikes an additional target for 50% damage.

Arcane Blast grants a charge each cast and Arcane Missiles grants one charge each time you channel the spell. Arcane Explosion has a chance to grant a charge. Arcane Barrage is used to expend all charges.

  • 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 between 4 and 6 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. Time your use of a Mana Gem to coincide with your use of Arcane Power, or rather shortly after you’ve activated the buff to extend the time you spend at high mana as long as possible while still under the effects of Arcane Power.

Mirror Image is to be used on cooldown.

Multiple Target Rotation/AoE:

  1. Living Bomb is ideal for facing small groups of 2-4 enemies in which case you should aim to refresh the effect just before or after the final tick to have it both explode and still maintain the effect.
  2. Glyph Fire Blast and use it to spread Living Bomb to multiple targets at once.
  3. 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.
  4. Cast Flamestrike on cooldown.
  5. When facing 5 or more enemies Frost Bomb pulls ahead of Living Bomb and should be used on cooldown in conjunction with Arcane Explosion and Flamestrike.

Tier 1 Talented Abilities:

  1. If you took Presence of Mind you should use it as often as possible to instantly cast Arcane Blast.
  2. Otherwise, use Ice Floes whenever movement is demanded to continue casting Arcane Blast or Arcane Missiles while moving.

Tier 5 Talented Abilities:

  1. Nether Tempest should be refreshed on the target immediately before the final tick.
  2. Living Bomb is the same and should be refreshed just before or after the final tick to have the Living Bomb explode while the effect is still refreshed for maximum damage.
  3. Cast Frost Bomb on cooldown.


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 320 points and your Int gems are 160. This does give some reason to match socket bonuses, especially if it’s for a nice Int, Hit, or Mastery bonus.

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.

Socket Matching suggestions:

Gem Priorities
Meta Courageous Primal Diamond: +324 Intellect and chance on beneficial spell to make your spells cost no mana for 4 sec.
Burning Primal Diamond
: +216 Int & 3% Increased Crit Effect
Red Brilliant Serpent’s Eye: 320 Int, self-only Jewelcrafting gem
Brilliant Primordial Ruby: 160 Int
Yellow Quick Sun’s Radiance: +320 Haste
Fractured Sun’s Radiance: +320 Mastery
Orange Artful Vermilion Onyx: +80 Int & +160 Mastery
Purple Veiled Imperial Amethyst: 80 Int and 160 Hit
Prismatic Brilliant Primordial Ruby: 160 Int
Cogwheel Quick Tinker’s Gear: 600 Haste – requires an engie helm, such as this.
Fractured Tinker’s Gear: 600 Mastery


Arcane Enchantments

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Helm enchants are gone in Mists of Pandaria, shoulder enchants all come from the Inscription profession.

Enchantments for the Arcane
Weapon Enchant Weapon – Jade Spirit: Sometimes increases Int by 1650
Shoulders Secret Crane Wing Inscription: – 520 Int and 100 Crit rating, Requires Inscription 550.
Greater Crane Wing Inscription: +200 Int and 100 Crit
Cloak Enchant Cloak – Superior Intellect: +180 Int
Lightweave Embroidery – attacks have chance to increase Int by 2k for 15 sec, requires tailoring
Chest Enchant Chest – Glorious Stats: +80 to all stats
Bracers Enchant Bracer – Super Intellect: +180 Int
Fur Lining increases Int by 500, requires leatherworking.
Socket Bracer – Pop in a gem, requires Blacksmithing 400
Gloves Enchant Gloves – Superior Mastery: +170 Mastery
Socket Gloves – Pop in a gem, requires Blacksmithing 400
Belt Livingsteel Belt Buckle: Gem slot for a nice Int gem
Leggings Greater Cerulean Spellthread: +285 Int and +165 Crit
Boots Enchant Boots – Greater Precison: +175 Hit rating
Enchant Boots – Pandaren’s Step: +140 Mastery, slight run speed increase.
Rings Enchant Ring – Greater Intellect: +160 Int, Requires Enchanting 550


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.


Professions for Mages

All of the professions provide some benefit for Mages of any spec, though clearly some are better than others. Even the gathering professions have some value, note the Haste buff on Herbalism, though you might be better served by using those to build a larger gold stash.

If you’re looking for the buffs then Blacksmithing might be the best choice wince you can slot two gems and gems with secondary stats have twice the value of those with primary stats, 320 Mastery Vs 160 Int, per gem, for example. It also gives you a bit more versatility with gem slotting, though you’ll most likely want to stick Int gems in those slots anyway.

Your Mage bonus adds to any profession bonuses, making them worth ~336 Int, that bonus does not add to other stats.

Tailoring Cloak enchant sometimes adds 2k Int.
Leatherworking Bracer enchant adds 500 int.
Jewelcrafting Make nicer gems for your own use.
Enchanting Enchant both rings, for a total +320 Int gain.
Inscription Shoulder enchant adds 520 Int and 100 crit.
Alchemy More effect from your own potions. Adds 320 Int and an extra hour to your main flask.
Engineering has lots of interesting toys, some of which have situational use, and Synapse Springs, which increases Int by 1940 for a short time. If you take this use a macro to activate it along with other short term buffs.
Blacksmithing gives two extra gems slots for a potential 640 points in Mastery Vs 320 in Int.
Skinning provides 480 crit rating
Herbalism Small heal and 2880 Haste for 20 seconds, also you will be able to find life and mana spirits.
Mining 480 Stamina


Mage Races

Draenei Arcane Mage

In Mists of Pandaria the Tauren are the only race that cannot become mages. Even the Pandarens can be Mages.

While no race is wildly better than any other for Arcane bolt lobbing, some do have certain advantages.

  • Alliance Damage: Draenei (hit rating,) Worgen (Crit chance & sprint,) Humans and Gnomes for 1% spell hit, if they equip the right weapons.
  • Horde Damage: Orc (Blood Fury) and +5% pet damage ; Trolls gets Berserking; Goblins get a Haste effect and Rocket Jump (a useful escape ability.) Undead drain life and heal.

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. This will be about 300 Int over what non-Pandaren’s get.
  • Take less falling damage from being “bouncy.”
Note: All races with an expertise bonus of any sort, including melee weapons, have that added to their Spell Hit, if they are equipping the appropriate weapon. As an example, your brand new human Warrior will have 1% Spell Hit while equipping a sword. Your Mage will get the bonus if you also equip a sword. 

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 self-only + 1% hit chance with spells. Useful for leveling, but nice for for raids, where every little bit helps (since you’ll want a total of 15% hit.) This makes that gearing/reforging just a it easier.
  • Draenei are good gemcutters.



  • Gnomes have a useful Escape Artist skill. It’s moe 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.
  • Also, as with Humans, Gnome mages will get a +1% to their Spell Hit rating if equipping a sword, due the the Gnomish expertise.


  • 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.
  • Spirit is useless for mages, and so is the Human’s 3%  increased Spirit.
  • Mages have no use for the expertise with mace, but the expertise with Sword will give you a +1 to your Spell Hit, if you have a sword equipped.

Night Elves

  • 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.)


  • 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.
  • Dwarven Ranged expertise does not add to Spell Hit unless you equip the appropriate weapon, which you won’t be.
  • Dwarves are good with Archeology.

Horde Races, in order of DPS gain:


  • Berserking increases casting speed by 20% for a few seconds. Very nice ability for any mage, drop it into a macro.
  • Beast Slaying is a nice little bonus for leveling and useful in PvE content when the opposition is classed as “beast.”
  • Voodoo shuffle is a help in PvP, but very situational otherwise.
  • Ranged weapon expertise is useless to you.


  • 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.
  • Expertise with axes is of no use, but Wands apparently count as “fist or unarmed weapons” and you DO get expertise with the wands. This gives you a +1 to your Spell Hit if you are equipping a wand.


  • 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.


  • Increased Haste is useful stat for you (and it IS “Haste,” despite what the tooltip says. Over the duration of the fight it’s about equal to the Troll’s Berserking.
  • 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.

Blood Elves

  • 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.


Arcane Videos

A nice discussion on “How To Arcane.” Does not covers talents or gear very much, it’s mostly rotations.


The Fast Mage Leveling Guide

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