Arcane Mage DPS Rotation, Cooldowns, and Abilities (WoD 6.0.3)

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General Information

On this page, we list your Arcane Mage core abilities and how they should be used together (rotation) in World of Warcraft WoD 6.0.3. We also explain when to use your various cooldowns. Then, we go deeper and present all the subtleties that you will need to know if you want to excel at playing an Arcane Mage.

The other pages of our Arcane Mage guide can be accessed from the table of contents on the right.

About Our Reviewer

This guide has been reviewed and approved by an Arcane Mage theorycrafter and SimulationCraft developer, who wishes to remain anonymous.

6.0.2 Transition Guide

If you want to read all about the Patch 6.0.2 changes and learn how they affect your character, make sure to read our Mage Transition Guide!

1. Single Target Rotation↑top

The rotation of an Arcane Mage consists in the following priority list. The idea is to remain at 100% mana for most of the fight and then burn your Mana for increased damage whenever Evocation Icon Evocation is about to come off cooldown.

1.1. Conserve Phase

  1. Put your Rune of Power Icon Rune of Power down and try to stay within 8 yards of it.
  2. If you chose Nether Tempest Icon Nether Tempest as your Tier 5 talent, apply it with 4 stacks of Arcane Charge Icon Arcane Charge or refresh it with 4 stacks of Arcane Charge Icon Arcane Charge before it drops (refreshing it with less than 3.6 seconds left will not cause you to waste ticks).
  3. If you chose Supernova Icon Supernova as your Tier 5 talent, try to cast it on cooldown or let it recharge, so that you can cast it twice in a row for burst damage (preferably during a trinket proc).
  4. If you chose Arcane Orb Icon Arcane Orb as your Tier 7 talent, then cast it if you have 0 or 1 stack of Arcane Charge Icon Arcane Charge.
  5. Cast Arcane Missiles Icon Arcane Missiles once, if you have 3 charges of Arcane Missiles.
  6. Cast Arcane Blast Icon Arcane Blast, if you are above 93% Mana before your start casting.
  7. Cast Arcane Missiles Icon Arcane Missiles, if you have 4 stacks of Arcane Charge Icon Arcane Charge and at least a charge of Arcane Missiles.
  8. Cast Arcane Barrage Icon Arcane Barrage at 4 stacks of Arcane Charge Icon Arcane Charge.
  9. Cast Arcane Blast Icon Arcane Blast.

When moving, you need to first place a Rune of Power Icon Rune of Power at your destination (it requires a bit of planning ahead), and Ice Floes Icon Ice Floes can greatly help with that. When the next Rune of Power is in place, you can use Ice Floes Icon Ice Floes again to cast Arcane Blast Icon Arcane Blast or Arcane Missiles Icon Arcane Missiles (do not cast Arcane Barrage Icon Arcane Barrage unless you meet the single-target rotation criteria that we listed above). If you have to move for a long distance and that your stacks of Arcane Charge Icon Arcane Charge are about to drop, you can use Arcane Explosion Icon Arcane Explosion to refresh them, if there is a target in range.

1.2. Burn Phase

At the start of the fight and whenever Evocation Icon Evocation is about to come off cooldown, you need to start the Burn Phase and burn your Mana. Before doing so, make sure that you have 3 charges of Arcane Missiles Icon Arcane Missiles and 4 stacks of Arcane Charge Icon Arcane Charge.

Your rotation during the Burn Phase is the same as the Conserve Phase, with three changes.

  • Arcane Barrage Icon Arcane Barrage should never be cast during the Burn Phase, because you want to remain at 4 stacks of Arcane Charge Icon Arcane Charge for the entire Burn Phase.
  • Arcane Blast Icon Arcane Blast should be cast without Mana restrictions. Your goal is to burn your Mana, and the only way to do so is to keep casting Arcane Blast.
  • When your Mana drops below 50%, use Evocation Icon Evocation to get back to full Mana (interrupt the channel when you reach 100%). After that, resume your Conserve Phase.

See our Opening Sequence for instructions on what to cast when the fight starts.

1.3. Cooldown Usage

Arcane Power Icon Arcane Power is your main DPS cooldown and it should only be activated as you enter a Burn Phase.

If you chose Prismatic Crystal Icon Prismatic Crystal as your Tier 7 talent, then you should use it immediately after starting your Burn Phase and attack the Crystal until it despawns. After that, you can go back on the boss. Prismatic Crystal has the same cooldown as Evocation Icon Evocation (thanks to Improved Evocation Icon Improved Evocation), so it will always be available for your burn phase.

If you use Supernova Icon Supernova as your Tier 5 talent, start saving it for Arcane Power Icon Arcane Power when Arcane Power's cooldown is almost over.

Presence of Mind Icon Presence of Mind is a minor DPS cooldown and you should use it on cooldown to build your first or second stack of Arcane Charge Icon Arcane Charge.

If you chose Mirror Image Icon Mirror Image as your Tier 5 talent, then you should simply use it on cooldown.

2. Multiple Target Rotation↑top

If the enemies are spread out, then there is little else you do, besides picking one enemy and focusing on it.

Between 2 and 4 enemies that are stacked together, continue performing your single-target rotation on one of them, Nether Tempest Icon Nether Tempest and Arcane Barrage Icon Arcane Barrage will take care of the collateral damage.

For 5 or more enemies that are stacked together, spam Arcane Explosion Icon Arcane Explosion and use Arcane Orb Icon Arcane Orb (if chosen as your Tier 7 talent) to build stacks of Arcane Charge Icon Arcane Charge that you will spend with Arcane Barrage Icon Arcane Barrage. Do not forget to refresh Nether Tempest Icon Nether Tempest at 4 stacks of Arcane Charge Icon Arcane Charge (use Arcane Blast Icon Arcane Blast and Arcane Orb to get to 4 stacks of Arcane Charge, for the initial application). Use Cone of Cold Icon Cone of Cold (glyphed, if possible) on cooldown.

3. Optional Read: Mastering Your Arcane Mage↑top

While the rotations we gave in the previous sections will yield very good results, there are many things you should be aware of, in order to play your Arcane Mage to its full potential. In particular, you will need to become a master at managing your Mana.

3.1. Arcane Charge System

Arcane Charge Icon Arcane Charge is a system of charges that increases the damage and Mana cost of some of your spells.

Arcane Charge is basically a self-debuff that lasts for 15 seconds and stacks up to 4 times. Stacks are granted and consumed by the following spells:

Spells are modified by Arcane Charge Icon Arcane Charge in the following ways:

  • Arcane Blast Icon Arcane Blast's damage is increased by 50% per charge and its Mana cost by 100% per charge;
  • Arcane Missiles Icon Arcane Missiles always costs no Mana and its damage is increased by 50% per charge;
  • Arcane Explosion Icon Arcane Explosion's damage and Mana cost are not affected by the charges;
  • Arcane Barrage Icon Arcane Barrage deals 50% more damage per charge and hits 1 additional target per charge, for 50% damage;
  • Evocation Icon Evocation over time Mana regeneration is increased by 25% per charge.

3.2. Mastery, Mana Costs, and Mana Regeneration

Understanding what your Mastery does, how much your spells cost and how your Mana regeneration works is an important part of playing an Arcane Mage.

3.2.1. Mastery: Mana Adept

Mastery: Mana Adept Icon Mastery: Mana Adept is a unique proficiency that you gain by choosing the Arcane talent tree. It increases the damage you deal with Arcane spells according to the percentage of Mana you currently have. Initially, you start with a 16% increase, and you increase that value by increasing your Mastery.

For example, the tooltip of your Mastery can say:

  • Increases all spell damage done by up to 20%, based on the amount of Mana the Mage has unspent.

In this case, for a spell that would otherwise deal 10,000 damage, you will deal:

  • at 10% Mana, 10,200 damage, which corresponds to the normal damage value increased by 2% (10% of the 20% increase from Mana Adept).
  • at 25% Mana, 10,500 damage, which corresponds to the normal damage value increased by 5% (25% of the 20% increase from Mana Adept).
  • at 50% Mana, 11,000 damage, which corresponds to the normal damage value increased by 10% (50% of the 20% increase from Mana Adept).
  • at 75% Mana, 11,500 damage, which corresponds to the normal damage value increased by 15% (75% of the 20% increase from Mana Adept).
  • at 100% Mana, 12,000 damage, which corresponds to the normal damage value increased by 20% (100% of the 20% increase from Mana Adept).

As you can see, at low amounts of mastery, the penalty for casting spells at low Mana is not that extraordinary, especially if you compare it to the increased damage (+200%) that Arcane Blast Icon Arcane Blast does when you have 4 stacks of Arcane Charge Icon Arcane Charge. As you get more Mastery, the penalty becomes much higher, which is why staying close to 100% Mana is so important.

3.2.2. Mana Costs and Regeneration

Arcane Blast Icon Arcane Blast, the spell that you will use the most, has a fixed cost: 3,200 Mana for every Mage at level 100. At 4 stacks of Arcane Charge Icon Arcane Charge, the Mana cost of this ability increases to 16,000 Mana (10% of your total Mana!), which means that you need to be careful with the number of stacks you allow yourself to build.

While you innately regenerate some Mana over time, it is not enough to sustain casting Arcane Blast Icon Arcane Blast without ever dropping stacks of Arcane Charge Icon Arcane Charge with Arcane Barrage Icon Arcane Barrage. If you try it, you will see that you can cast Arcane Blast about 20 times before running out of Mana (if you do not reset your stacks of Arcane Charge).

3.3. Arcane Missiles

Arcane Missiles Icon Arcane Missiles has three charges and can proc from any of your other damaging spells. So if it procs and you do not use it, it can proc twice more and you will be able to use it three times in a row. This is important to take into account because it means that you are not forced to cast Arcane Missiles Icon Arcane Missiles as soon as it procs.

Arcane Missiles Icon Arcane Missiles' damage is increased by your number of Arcane Charge Icon Arcane Charges (+50% per stack). This means that, while you are building up charges with Arcane Blast Icon Arcane Blast, you should delay casting Arcane Missiles for as long as possible, so that it benefits from the increased damage provided by the charges. Currently, the best strategy is to build up 4 Arcane Charge Icon Arcane Charges before spending your charges of Arcane Missiles Icon Arcane Missiles.

3.4. More on Supernova Usage

Supernova Icon Supernova's damage is not increased by Arcane Charge Icon Arcane Charge, so your only concern should be to cast Supernova when you have high Mana, but not so high that you will Mana cap before you have a chance to complete your next cast of Arcane Blast Icon Arcane Blast. Usually, casting Supernova when you have less than 94% ensures that it does not happen. Also, Supernova can trigger a charge of Arcane Missiles Icon Arcane Missiles, so do not cast Supernova when you already have 3 charges of Arcane Missiles.

When casting Supernova Icon Supernova, the important thing is to make sure that you do not waste a charge of Arcane Missiles Icon Arcane Missiles. In comparison to that, not reaching full Mana is secondary.

3.5. Opening Sequence

We advise you to use the following opening sequence (or opener).

3.6. Other Talent Cooldowns and Abilities

3.6.1. Tier 1 Talents

Blazing Speed Icon Blazing Speed and Ice Floes Icon Ice Floes are your Tier 1 talents of choice. So, you should practice using them and master their usage, in order to minimise your movement and optimise your DPS.

You have many spells with a cast time, so keep Blazing Speed Icon Blazing Speed for situations where you need to stand still casting these spells before moving out of danger in a flash. Consider it as an extra Blink Icon Blink: use it to get out of a situation that would otherwise kill you or if your target goes out of range.

If you choose Ice Floes Icon Ice Floes (encounters with short sequences of movement), then, whenever you have to move, you should use it with Arcane Blast Icon Arcane Blast.

3.6.2. Tier 3 Talents

Cold Snap Icon Cold Snap can provide a small DPS boost, if you use it to reset the cooldown of Presence of Mind Icon Presence of Mind. This will provide you with a small burst of damage.

4. Changelog↑top

  • 18 Nov. 2014: Properly separated Conserve Phase and Burn Phase.
  • 16 Nov. 2014: Updated rotation for Level 100 talents (burn/preserve phases are back). Added Tier 17 bonuses.