arcane Mage Guide

1. Introduction

This guide will cover everything you need to know about playing Arcane in PvE content. Arcane is a spec that revolves around burst damage and mana management. The spec remains unique in that it’s the only DPS spec left in the game that still cares about mana; however it’s mana functions much closer to slow moving energy than it does to traditional mana like healers.

Mage continues to have a desirable progression spot due to a raid buff & immunity.


Strong burst damage profile.

Good Mobility.

Arcane Barrage talents provide funnel and execute.

Strong defensive kit.

Time Warp, Arcane Intellect, & the class tree provide a wide range of dungeon utility.


No spread AOE or cleave.

Competes with the other mage specs for similar strengths.

Main raid utility is Arcane Intellect which does not make stacking the class appealing.

Extremely low passive tankiness. Defensive kit is all proactive which requires spec comfort or encounter knowledge.

DragonflightShadowlandsBattle for Azeroth

2. Spells & Abilities

Damage Spells:
  • Arcane Blast - Filler ability. Damage and mana cost are increased per Arcane Charge. Unlike other filler abilities our resources mean this also works as our primary damage source with Arcane Charge.
  • Arcane Missiles - Medium damage channel with a high mana cost. Ticks an additional time and costs no mana with Clearcasting.
  • Arcane Barrage - High damage ability that deals additional damage per Arcane Charge and resets our Arcane Charge to 0. With talents, hits an additional target per Arcane Charge . Restores 1.5% mana per Arcane Charge used.
  • Touch Of The Magi - 10 second debuff that stores a percentage of the damage we do to the target over the duration; at the end the damage is released to deal damage to the target and all nearby enemies.
  • Arcane Surge - Primary DPS cooldown. Depletes our mana bar and deals damage based on percent mana spent. Drastically increases mana regeneration and spell damage for 12 seconds.
  • Evocation - Channelled ability that regenerates our mana over the duration.
Defensive Spells:
  • Prismatic Barrier - Small shield for 60 seconds.
  • Mirror Image - Creates 3 copies of your character for 40 seconds. While an image is active your damage taken is reduced by 20%, and taking direct damage causes an image to dissipate.
  • Alter Time - Snapshots your current location and health. The spell can be reactivated again within 10 seconds to return you to said location and health.
  • Ice Block - Immunity that prevents all damage.
  • Greater Invisibility - Turns us invisible immediately and provides a 60% damage reduction. Can be used to fizzle several targeted boss abilities.
Other Utility Spells:
  • Blink - Teleports you 20 yards forwards. Our main mobility tool.
  • Dragon's Breath - Frontal cone AOE that disorientates all targets hit.
  • Invisibility - Turns you invisible after a short delay. Can be used to fizzle several targeted boss abilities.
  • Spellsteal - Steals or purges 1 beneficial magic buff from the target.
  • Arcane Intellect - Increases your groups Intellect by 5% for 1 hour.
  • Remove Curse - Dispels all curses from a friendly target.
  • Blast Wave - Knocks back, slows and damages all nearby enemies.
  • Cone Of Cold - Slows enemies in a frontal cone by 70%.

3. Talents




Spec tree:
Class tree:

4. Rotation

4.1 Rotation Overview

As an Arcane mage you always want to cast Touch Of The Magi and Arcane Surge on cooldown. As Arcane Surge has twice the cooldown, you will cast it every second Touch Of The Magi.

Touch Of The Magi casts with Arcane Surge will be referred to as the Arcane Surge burn or big burn, and casts without Arcane Surge will be referred to as the mini burn.

These timings are not exact as you will end up delaying certain spells for a second or two for one reason or another. It should however give you a good idea of the cycles you’re supposed to go through. Note that Shifting Power will change these timers slightly.

Most of the time Arcane Harmony should be treated as a passive increase to Arcane Barrage damage and does not need to be played around.

4.2 Cooldown Phases

4.2.1 Arcane Surge

Enter the burn phase whenever Evocation, Radiant Spark, Arcane Surge and Touch Of The Magi are off cooldown.

Burn Phase Ramp:

  1. Evocation
  2. Arcane Orb (It's ok to miss this if you aren't at 0 Arcane Charge)
  3. Radiant Spark
  4. Nether Tempest (Does not interact with Radiant Spark)
  5. Arcane Surge (+0% increased damage)
  6. Mana Gem
  7. Arcane Barrage (+10% increased damage)
  8. Touch Of The Magi
  9. Arcane Blast (+20% increased damage)
  10. Arcane Blast (+30% increased damage)
  11. Arcane Blast (+40% increased damage)

We cast Nether Tempest at 4 charges before Arcane Surge as the primary use of Nether Tempest is to trigger ArcaneEcho a significant number of times during Touch Of The Magi.

Touch Of The Magi is off the global cooldown. By casting Touch Of The Magi immediately after Arcane Barrage, we immediately regenerate our 4 Arcane Charge and the Arcane Barrage cast prior will land during Touch Of The Magi due to the spell's travel time.

Note that if you have Orb Barrage and it procs from Arcane Barrage during Radiant Spark, it will consume a stack of Radiant Spark and you should therefore enter the Touch Of The Magi rotation one spell sooner.

Example Burn

4.2.1 Mini Burn

Enter the mini burn whenever Radiant Spark, and Touch Of The Magi are off cooldown, and Arcane Surge is on cooldown.

Mini Burn Ramp:

  1. Radiant Spark
  2. Nether Tempest (Does not interact with Radiant Spark)
  3. Arcane Barrage (+0% increased damage)
  4. Touch Of The Magi
  5. Arcane Blast (+10% increased damage)
  6. Arcane Blast (+20% increased damage)
  7. Arcane Blast (+30% increased damage)
  8. Arcane Blast (+40% increased damage)
Example Burn

Spell queueing is a mechanic whereby pressing a spell while casting towards the end of the cast "queues" that spell, casting it immediately after the first cast finishes. Most spells in World of Warcraft calculate the damage the spell will deal on cast completion, not when the spell hits. This has a few implications for arcane concerning Radiant Spark and Harmonic Echo.

First off, if you spell queue an instant spell after a hard cast spell, both will have their damage calculated with the same stack of Radiant Spark. Let's say for example you were at 2 stacks of Radiant Spark and cast Arcane Blast with a spell queued Arcane Barrage

  1. Arcane Blast is cast (20% increased damage from Radiant Spark
  2. Arcane Barrage is spell queued and cast (20% increased damage from Radiant Spark
  3. Arcane Blast hits and increments Radiant Spark to 3 stacks
  4. Arcane Barrage hits and increments Radiant Spark to 4 stacks

Our Arcane Barrage was buffed by stack 2 instead of stack 3. This would be disadvantageous, except if we were to queue an instant after the final stack of Radiant Spark. Both spells would gain the benefit of the 4th stack of Radiant Spark, giving us free damage.

While the damage a spell will do is calculated on cast; effects that care about the damage a spell actually did cannot be triggered until impact (whenever the spell actually deals it's damage). This includes effects such as Touch Of The Magi and Harmonic Echo.

This means that if you spell queued an Arcane Barrage after the final spell into Radiant Spark, the Arcane Barrage would be buffed by Radiant Spark but would not trigger Harmonic Echo.

4.2.3 Touch of the Magi

Touch Of The Magi is off the global cooldown. By casting Touch Of The Magi immediately after Arcane Barrage, we immediately regenerate our 4 Arcane Charge and the Arcane Barrage cast prior will land during Touch Of The Magi due to the spell's travel time.

For the remainder of Touch Of The Magi, follow this priority:

  1. Arcane Blast with Nether Precision
  2. Arcane Missiles with Clearcasting
  3. Arcane Blast

With Nether Precision do not full channel Arcane Missiles unless you have Arcane Artillery. Cancel and cast Arcane Blast as soon as the global cooldown allows you.

With Arcane Artillery active you should always full channel Arcane Missiles.

Touch Of The Magi is where a significant amount of our damage comes from, therefore it's extremely important that we protect this damage as much as possible. The 2 main ways I recommend doing this:

Touch of the Magi Sequence

If Presence Of Mind is not being used for movement, it can be used to squeeze some damage into Touch Of The Magi. Arcane Blast being instant does not net more casts, as it's cast time is the same as the Global Cooldown. However Presence Of Mind moves the damage to beginning of the GCD, rather than the end, potentially allowing an additional Arcane Blast to fit inside Touch Of The Magi.

Visual example:

Presence of Mind

4.3 Opener

The Arcane opener involves entering the burn phase fairly quickly. Ideally we want to burn mana for a small amount of time first to make use of the extra mana from Arcane Surge. Only do this if fight timers allow you.

  1. Cast Evocation prepull
  2. Precast Arcane Blast into Arcane Orb
  3. Cast Arcane Blast and Arcane Missiles until Siphon Storm has 18 seconds left
  4. Enter the burn phase

4.4 Conserve Phase

4.4.1 Filler Rotation

During the conserve phase when everything is on cooldown our goal is to simply efficiently spend mana while ensuring that we have enough mana for our next burn phase.

Conserve Priority:

  1. Cast Arcane Orb with less than 2 Arcane Charge
  2. Cast Shifting Power after Siphon Storm runs out
  3. Cast Arcane Missiles with 3 stacks of Clearcasting
  4. Cast Arcane Blast with Nether Precision
  5. Cast Arcane Missiles with Clearcasting
  6. Cast Arcane Barrage at 4 Arcane Charge
  7. Cast Arcane Blast

If you have Nether Precision but not Arcane Artillery, do not full channel Arcane Missiles. Instead cancel and cast Arcane Blast as soon as the global cooldown allows you. Nether Tempest is an small gain to maintain. I recommend you only use it during Burns, whenever you need to move during the Conserve phase and whenever you want to save mana. While Nether Tempest damage scales with Arcane Charge, it's mana cost does not.

4.4.2 Mana Management

Depending on the situation you may want to burn mana or conserve mana. Arcane Missiles does not scale with Arcane Charge directly. However because Clearcasting converts into Nether Precision, and Arcane Blast does scale with Arcane Charge, Clearcasting indirectly scales with Arcane Charge.

To Burn mana:

To Conserve mana:

You want to burn as much as possible because its the most efficient way to convert mana into damage outside cooldowns, but it's not possible all the time, in general these rules can help:

  • Spend mana aggressively during Siphon Storm and Arcane Overload.
  • If you just finished your Arcane Surge burn and your mini burn is next, you want to conserve and float at high mana to ensure you have enough mana for your mini burn.
  • Once your mini-burn is over and your Arcane Surge burn is up next, you can afford to spend mana more aggressively as you will cast Evocation prior to your Arcane Surge burn.
  • During Time Warp or Temporal Warp be aware the additional haste will make you cycle through your mana faster.

4.5 Opener & Trinket Usage

  1. Precast Evocation to stack Siphon Storm before the encounter begins.
  2. Cast Arcane Orb and Arcane Blast until you reach 4 Arcane Charge.
  3. Cast Radiant Spark and enter the burn phase.
Trinket usage:

5. AOE Rotation

5.1 AOE Rotation Overview

On AOE a few things change, the main one being Arcane Explosion takes the place of Arcane Blast, however there are a few things to keep in mind:

5.2 AOE Cooldown Phases

5.2.1 AOE Arcane Surge


  1. Evocation
  2. Radiant Spark
  3. Arcane Orb
  4. Nether Tempest
  5. Arcane Surge
  6. Arcane Barrage
  7. Touch Of The Magi
  8. Arcane Barrage
  9. Arcane Barrage if Orb Barrage procced. Otherwise Arcane Orb
Example Burn

5.2.2 AOE Mini Burn


  1. Radiant Spark
  2. Arcane Orb
  3. Nether Tempest
  4. Arcane Barrage
  5. Touch Of The Magi
  6. Arcane Barrage
  7. Arcane Orb
  8. Arcane Barrage

This sequence assumes no Orb Barrage procs. If Orb Barrage procs at step 6, keep pressing Arcane Barrage until it doesn't proc, then continue with this sequence until Radiant Spark is done.

Example Mini Burn

5.2.3 Touch of the Magi

For the remainder of Touch Of The Magi, follow this priority:

  1. Cast Arcane Missiles with Arcane Artillery
  2. Cast Arcane Barrage with 4 Arcane Charge
  3. Cast Arcane Orb with less than 4 Arcane Charge
  4. Cast Arcane Explosion

After the burn, cast Shifting Power.

5.3 AOE Conserve Phase

On AOE as Arcane, our goal is to maximise the number of Arcane Barrage casts at 4 Arcane Charge.

Conserve Priority:
  1. Cast Arcane Missiles with Arcane Artillery
  2. Cast Arcane Orb with less than 4 Arcane Charge.
  3. Cast Shifting Power
  4. Cast Arcane Barrage at 4 Arcane Charge
  5. Cast Arcane Explosion

There is no concept of mana management on AOE, you will never run out of mana in the time it takes Evocation to come off cooldown.

Make sure to react to Orb Barrage procs. With enough targets you will be casting back to back Arcane Barrage.

6. Stats & Gearing

6.1 Stats

Due to the large Intellect stat budget on items, item level will usually be an upgrade. Stat weights vary depending on your current gear and talents. To produce an accurate stat priority or to accurately compare items you must sim yourself. Remember that haste value increases on AOE due to the AOE rotation spending less mana.

  • Critical Strike increases the critical strike rate of our abilities.
  • Haste reduces the cast time of our spells, our global cooldown, and therefore increases the rate at which we spend mana.
  • Versatility provides a flat damage increase and damage taken reduction.
  • Mastery - Increases our mana and mana regeneration. Increases the damage bonus provided by Arcane Charge, and provides a flat damage increase to all Arcane damage done.

Generally prioritise stats like so:

  1. Intellect
  2. Critical Strike
  3. Mastery
  4. Haste
  5. Versatility

Haste and Versatility are very close, with Versatility edging out on single target and Haste edging out on AOE.

6.2 Trinkets

Because active trinkets share a cooldown, we generally want to pick up one active trinket and one passive trinket. For up to date trinket data please refer to the sims page of the site.

Recommended trinkets for Raiding:

Recommended trinkets for Mythic+:

6.3 Crafting & Embellishments

Recommended Embellishments:

  • Blue Silken Lining is currently the most powerful embellishment if you can maintain uptime, however this is not always possible. The best slots to craft in are Bracers, Belt, and Feet.
  • Shadowflame-Tempered Armor Patch is the safer option. The best slots to craft in are Bracers, Belt, and Feet.

Good dinar items (in no particular order)

8. Racials

8.1 Horde

  • Troll - Berserking makes Troll the best race for Arcane.
  • Goblin - Rocket Jump is one of the few useful utility racials while Time is Money keeps the race somewhat competitive for DPS.

8.2 Alliance

9. Macros

This macro makes it easier to sequence Arcane Barrage and Touch Of The Magi. You can spam this macro and Touch Of The Magi will never be cast before Arcane Barrage.

/castsequence reset=10 Arcane Barrage, Touch of the Magi

The macro below can be used to automatically cancel Ice Block if you try to cast a spell while blocked; and automatically targets something if you try to cast a spell with no target. [nochanneling] will also allow you to spam the key without cancelling Shifting Power:

/cancelaura Ice Block
/cast [nochanneling:Shifting Power] Arcane Blast
/targetenemy [noexists][dead]

Can be used to cancel Ice Block and immediately Blink. Useful when Ice Blocked in a void zone as you'll Blink out and take no damage. Also works with Shimmer:

/cancelaura Ice Block
/cast Blink

Counterspell. Prioritizes Mouseover > Focus > Target:

#showtooltip Counterspell
/cast [@mouseover,harm][@focus,harm][harm] Counterspell

Spellsteal. Prioritizes Mouseover > Focus > Target:

#showtooltip Spellsteal
/cast [@mouseover,harm][@focus,harm][harm] Spellsteal

Mouseover Remove Curse:

#showtooltip Remove Curse
/cast [@mouseover]Remove Curse

10. Advanced

10.1 Ice Floes Usage

Ice Floes makes our next cast castable while moving. This effect stacks. This means we can press Ice Floes twice without casting a spell, and have our next 2 spells be castable while moving.

Ice Floes can also be cast while casting, in case you decide you need to move while in the middle of a cast. However, this effect has a small grace window. If Ice Floes is activated within the last 0.5 seconds of a cast, it will NOT consume a stack of the buff.

This means that we can abuse Ice Floes to gain multiple consecutive casts while casting without consuming any stacks of the buff, as long as we refresh the buff in the last 0.5 seconds of the cast.

For example:

  1. You activate Ice Floes.
  2. You cast a Frostbolt while moving, with a single stack of Ice Floes, and with 0.5 seconds left on the cast you activate Ice Floes again.
  3. You still have 2 stacks of Ice Floes.
  4. Optionally repeat step 2 again.

This means you can cast 3 spells while moving with 2 charges, or 5 spells while moving with 3 charges.

10.2 Cancelling Alter Time

Alter Time snapshots our current location and health. The spell can then be reactivated within 10 seconds to return us to said location and health. However if the buff expires we will be returned regardless, which sometimes we may not want to do.

If we cancel the Alter Time buff, it will not automatically be activated at the end of the duration, allowing us to stay where we are.

/cancelaura Alter Time

11. FAQ


How do I sim Mythic+?


There is no single sim that will represent a Mythic+ dungeon. Looking at the results of multiple Patchwerk sims with different numbers of targets and various settings can help you understand what is good in different situations. Fight styles other than Patchwerk and short duration sims can be misleading and are not recommended.


What stat percentages should I aim for?


Nothing, you don't aim for specific percentages of stats. There are very few stat breakpoints in the game that are of utmost importance, and any that are will be reflected in sims. You equip the gear that gives you the most DPS with almost no thought on what stat percentages that leaves you at.


Should I use pawn?


No, it's an outdated addon, based on an outdated way of thinking about the game. It relies too heavily on stat weights being an accurate method of comparing gear, which they aren't. Just use top gear and never think about stat weights ever.


How do I sim <Mage Thing>?


What should I set my Spell Queue Window to?


If you don't know why you're changing it leave it at the default (400).


Should I use Arcane Momentum?


Generally I would advise against it as it's more error prone and currently has multiple different bugs.


My sim says this thing gives X stat, but in game I get Y?


Raidbots takes it's tooltips from Wowhead. They may not necessarily lineup with the values being used by the sim. Always check the HTML report.