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Arcane Mage DPS Rotation, Cooldowns, and Abilities (Legion 7.0.3)

Last updated on Sep 15, 2016 at 08:28 by Furty 125 comments

Table of Contents

General Information

On this page, we list your Arcane Mage core abilities and how they should be used together (rotation) in World of Warcraft Legion 7.0.3. 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 Author

This guide has been written by Furty who raids in Serenity, one of the top World of Warcraft guilds. He plays most classes at the highest level. You can follow him on Twitter and watch him play on Twitch.

1. Ability Priority List

The rotation of an Arcane Mage is outlined in the following priority list. The concept is to maintain a high and stable Mana pool during your "conserve" phase, biding time until your cooldowns are available. As soon as your cooldowns are ready, you enter the "burn" phase where you siphon all your Mana into damage. After the burn phase concludes, you recoup your entire Mana pool using Evocation Icon Evocation.

1.1. Conserve Phase

The conserve phase is deceptively straightforward, but it mercilessly punishes mistakes. Once Evocation Icon Evocation is on cooldown, the only way to regain your Mana is by waiting for it to slowly regenerate, so paying close attention to it is of crucial importance. Your goal is to stay relatively healthy on Mana throughout the conserve phase, so that when your Arcane Power Icon Arcane Power comes off cooldown you are able to burn as much Mana as possible within that window for optimal output.

  1. Use Rune of Power Icon Rune of Power if it has 2 charges.
  2. Cast  Icon Mark of Aluneth on cooldown.
  3. Cast Arcane Orb Icon Arcane Orb (if talented) and you currently have no Arcane Charge Icon Arcane Charges.
  4. Apply Nether Tempest Icon Nether Tempest (if talented) with 4 stacks of Arcane Charge Icon Arcane Charge.
  5. Refresh Nether Tempest Icon Nether Tempest (if talented) with 4 stacks of Arcane Charge Icon Arcane Charge if it has less than 4 seconds remaining. Apply it if absent.
  6. Cast Arcane Missiles Icon Arcane Missiles if
    • you have 3 charges of Arcane Missiles Icon Arcane Missiles or
    • you are not at 100% Mana and you have 3 or more Arcane Charge Icon Arcane Charges (always 4 charges unless you are capped on Missiles procs).
  7. Cast Supernova Icon Supernova (if talented).
  8. Cast Arcane Barrage Icon Arcane Barrage if you need to regenerate Mana.
  9. Cast Arcane Explosion Icon Arcane Explosion if you will hit 3 or more targets.
  10. Cast Arcane Blast Icon Arcane Blast.

Once again, the goal is to save enough Mana for your burn phase to still last for all of Arcane Power Icon Arcane Power while still dealing enough damage to be effective. The more Mastery you currently have, the more 4 Arcane Charge Icon Arcane Charge casts you will be able to manage without destroying your Mana pool entirely.

1.2. Burn Phase

The burn phase commences at the start of the encounter, and whenever Arcane Power Icon Arcane Power is off cooldown thereafter. It is important to ensure you will not be interrupted during the burn phase, so avoid entering this part of the rotating during heavy movement or when volatile mechanics are active.

  1. Ensure you have 4 Arcane Charge Icon Arcane Charges.
  2. Place Rune of Power Icon Rune of Power (if talented).
  3. Activate Arcane Power Icon Arcane Power.
  4. Cast Arcane Missiles Icon Arcane Missiles whenever available.
  5. Cast Arcane Blast Icon Arcane Blast.
  6. Activate Presence of Mind Icon Presence of Mind (if talented) for the end of Arcane Power Icon Arcane Power.

If there is AoE or cleave and you are talented into Resonance Icon Resonance, it is ideal to cast Arcane Barrage Icon Arcane Barrage right at the end of Arcane Power Icon Arcane Power for the increased cleave damage.

If you are talented into Charged Up Icon Charged Up, you can cast Arcane Barrage Icon Arcane Barrage after Arcane Power Icon Arcane Power ends for some extra damage, then used Charged Up Icon Charged Up and continue your burn.

To reiterate, the goal of the burn phase is to maximize damage during Arcane Power Icon Arcane Power. Arcane Power Icon Arcane Power and Evocation Icon Evocation both share a 90-second cooldown, so it is logical to burn all your remaining Mana during this period. Once Arcane Power Icon Arcane Power ends, and you no longer have the Mana to cast Arcane Barrage Icon Arcane Barrage, you should activate Evocation Icon Evocation and fully channel it to restore your Mana to 100%. After this is done, the conserve phase resumes. You should save your Arcane Missiles Icon Arcane Missiles for after Evocation Icon Evocation if you reach 0 Mana.

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

2. Important Notes

2.1. Arcane Charges: Understanding Your Mana Pool

If you are unfamiliar with Arcane, managing your Arcane Charge Icon Arcane Charges can be a bit confusing at first. Arcane as a specialization is fundamentally very straightforward, but also stands apart from many specializations in the respect that you have full control over your damage output and resource at all times. Ultimately, the only wild card in the Arcane rotation is Arcane Missiles Icon Arcane Missiles, and it alters the specialization in a unique way. Since Arcane Missiles Icon Arcane Missiles does not cost any Mana to cast and also generates an Arcane Charge Icon Arcane Charge, it functions as a way to regenerate Mana without having to cast Arcane Barrage Icon Arcane Barrage. Every time you do a new pull on a boss, you will reorganize your abilities into a different sequence due to the randomness of Arcane Missiles Icon Arcane Missiles procs. Ultimately this results in a very reactive playstyle revolving around the basic Arcane Charge Icon Arcane Charge system.

For each Arcane Charge Icon Arcane Charge you have, you deal more damage with your basic spells, however, the Mana cost is also increased by 100% per charge. It is not possible the maintain a stable Mana pool by casting spells at 4 Arcane Charge Icon Arcane Charges, and therefore you will have to often clear your charges with Arcane Barrage Icon Arcane Barrage during the conserve phase. While it is technically ideal to generate another 4 Arcane Charge Icon Arcane Charges before clearing them with Arcane Barrage Icon Arcane Barrage, this will not always result in a net Mana gain if Arcane Missiles Icon Arcane Missiles does not proc. When you drop below 70% Mana during the conserve phase, it is beneficial to instead generate between 1 and 3 Arcane Charge Icon Arcane Charges before clearing with Arcane Barrage Icon Arcane Barrage. Since the Mana multiplier is considerably lower, this will result in much more Mana gained during the charge generation and dumping cycle.

It is best to use your charges of Arcane Missiles Icon Arcane Missiles when you are high on Arcane Charge Icon Arcane Charges, or about to clear with Arcane Barrage Icon Arcane Barrage. The reason for this is that Arcane Missiles Icon Arcane Missiles has no Mana cost, and it is best to take advantage of the increased damage multiplier from your Arcane Charge Icon Arcane Charges for as long as possible before you clear (without adversely affecting your Mana pool). During the burn phase, it is still preferable to cast Arcane Missiles Icon Arcane Missiles over Arcane Blast Icon Arcane Blast, as Arcane Missiles Icon Arcane Missiles does more damage and is also a faster cast (higher DPET or Damage Per Execution Time).

In conclusion, your Mana pool and Arcane Charge Icon Arcane Charges have inverse synergy. The longer you remain at higher stacks of Arcane Charge Icon Arcane Charge, the faster your Mana bar will deplete, but the more burst damage you will deal. The shorter you remain at higher stacks of Arcane Charge Icon Arcane Charge, the easier it will be to maintain a stable Mana pool (or possibly regenerate Mana), though you will deal less burst damage. Arcane Missiles Icon Arcane Missiles serves as a tool to allow you to remain at high stacks for an increased period without penalty, but occurs randomly, keeping you on your toes. Finally, during the burn phase the intent is to permanently remain at maximum Arcane Charge Icon Arcane Charges until your Mana pool is entirely depleted.

2.2. Spells That Benefit From Arcane Charges

Evocation Icon Evocation is no longer affected by Arcane Charge Icon Arcane Charges, but it is still preferable to ensure you do not clear your charges with Arcane Barrage Icon Arcane Barrage before casting Evocation Icon Evocation. The reason for this is that you will finish Evocation Icon Evocation with 100% Mana and 4 Arcane Charge Icon Arcane Charges, allowing you to immediately cast a 4 charge Arcane Blast Icon Arcane Blast instead of Mana capping for a few seconds.

2.3. Truncating Arcane Missiles

Many channelled basic spells, such as Drain Soul Icon Drain Soul, benefit from truncating (or "clipping") the channel after the penultimate tick, allowing you to immediately lead into the next cast without delay. Arcane Missiles Icon Arcane Missiles, however, fires off an extra missile every time it ticks throughout the channel, making it extremely beneficial to fully complete your channel before queuing up the next spell. Many players will accidentally clip the last tick of the channel, cancelling the final missile and robbing them of a noticeable amount of damage. This can be solved by using !nochannel macros, which prevents you from interrupting a channelled spell with another cast. This induces slight input lag, causing a slight delay between the end of your channel and the beginning of a new cast, so it is not recommended. For players that want maximum results, the best solution is AddOns. The easiest way to avoid missile clipping is by installing Gnosis, a cast bar AddOn specifically designed to make channelled ticks easily identifiable. Unlike the in-game castbar or most other AddOns, it updates dynamically with latency so your true tick rate is always displayed. This is the castbar used almost unanimously by all high level players, but it is especially beneficial for Arcane Mage due to the importance of Arcane Missiles Icon Arcane Missiles.

2.4. Effectively Handling AoE

As a specialization that is typically known for single target damage, AoE is a bit of a foreign concept to some Arcane Mages. It is possible, however, to deal effective AoE damage as Arcane. Arcane Power Icon Arcane Power does technically affect your AoE spells, however, it is extremely inefficient to dedicate your burn phase to AoE damage (generally speaking), however, there are some exceptions to this rule. For example, in a dungeon environment where you know your cooldowns will be up in time for the boss, it makes sense to use your cooldowns to help clear the trash in a more timely fashion.

To effectively deal AoE damage, you should cast Arcane Orb Icon Arcane Orb to quickly generate Arcane Charge Icon Arcane Charges and Arcane Missiles Icon Arcane Missiles. Apply a 4-charge Nether Tempest Icon Nether Tempest to a central target, and spam Arcane Explosion Icon Arcane Explosion. Use your charges of Arcane Missiles Icon Arcane Missiles as needed to help regenerate Mana and single out priority targets. Essentially, perform the rotation per normal, replacing Arcane Blast Icon Arcane Blast with Arcane Explosion Icon Arcane Explosion. If you are talented into Resonance Icon Resonance, your conserve phase will also pack a noticeable punch on AoE due to the increased damage from Arcane Barrage Icon Arcane Barrage.

If you are playing with Charged Up Icon Charged Up and Arcane Orb Icon Arcane Orb, you can drop your stacks with Arcane Barrage Icon Arcane Barrage and instantly rebuild them without effort.

If you are performing AoE on a raid boss, it is important to continue to pay close attention to your Mana bar. Arcane Explosion Icon Arcane Explosion is very expensive, and it can be easy to quickly consume a full Mana bar if you are not careful.

2.5. Rune of Power

Rune of Power Icon Rune of Power is a medium length cooldown that is best used to apply significant pressure during its duration. You should always overlap Rune of Power Icon Rune of Power and Arcane Power Icon Arcane Power, as this will result in the maximum possible burst. Start by casting Rune of Power Icon Rune of Power, and immediately activating Arcane Power Icon Arcane Power at the end of the cast), so they will both end at the same time. You should also ensure your Rune of Power Icon Rune of Power is always available for  Icon Mark of Aluneth, as it boosts the damage significantly. Rune of Power Icon Rune of Power does have 2 charges, allowing you to save the second for a usage of your choice. Good times to use your second rune charge:

  • For  Icon Mark of Aluneth if it is desynced with Arcane Power Icon Arcane Power;
  • after Arcane Power Icon Arcane Power ends and you have enough Mana to last another 10 seconds in the burn phase;
  • to push a damage check;
  • when several advantageous procs overlap;
  • during a period of zero movement;
  • with excess Mana in the conserve phase at 4 Arcane Charge Icon Arcane Charges;
  • on AoE.

2.6. Arcane Orb

Arcane Orb Icon Arcane Orb is an extremely flexible ability that can be used in almost any way you prefer. Generally, it is best to use it to help generate Arcane Charge Icon Arcane Charges efficiently and help procure Arcane Missiles Icon Arcane Missiles. It can also be used to help maintain Mana stability at 4 stacks of Arcane Charge Icon Arcane Charge by casting it on AoE to help with the generation of Arcane Missiles Icon Arcane Missiles. It is best left to contextual judgement to determine the optimal usage. If in doubt, use it on AoE opportunities to generate Arcane Charge Icon Arcane Charges and deal damage.

2.7. Ice Barrier

Since this ability is now baseline to all mage specs, do not forget to cast this any time you have to reposition and Ice Floes Icon Ice Floes is not available. It lasts for 60 seconds, but only have a 25-second cooldown, meaning that you can and should cast it before the start of every engagement.

3. Core Concepts

Arcane Mage is an elementary enough specialization to perform on a target dummy, but there are a few key factors that will separate the good from the great. Learning to focus on what is important and master the core concepts of a specialization is what leads to strong overall performance on the damage charts. There are 3 major concepts that form the central trinity of optimizing for success:

  1. Mana management during the conserve phase;
  2. flawless execution during the burn phase;
  3. movement management.

Managing movement is a fundamental skill shared by all the caster classes in World of Warcraft. The highly mobile nature of the Mage class allows flexible and creative ways to move during combat, making it of supreme importance that you give this the proper respect.

3.1. Mana Management During Conserve Phase

It is highly recommended you develop an instinct for your Mana regeneration rate by practicing on a target dummy or in LFR. The more Mastery you have, the faster you will regenerate Mana in combat, making this regeneration highly variable depending on your level of gear.

It is important to have a good sense of the interplay between your Arcane Charge Icon Arcane Charges and your current Mana pool. On encounters with cleave and AoE, pay close attention to your timers if you plan on capitalizing on the extra targets. If you need to unleash a little extra burst in the conserve phase for an important add, AoE opportunities, or to push a damage check, ensure you correctly budget Mana and a Rune of Power Icon Rune of Power charge in advance.

Mana regens at fixed 1.5% of max Mana per second, increased to 1.364% if using Arcane Familiar. Evocation however, does benefit from the extra 10% Mana from Arcane Familiar. This is further increased through stacking Mastery, which will dampen the amount of pooling and lower the number of Arcane Barrage Icon Arcane Barrage casts per fight, allowing you to stay at 4 Arcane Charge Icon Arcane Charges longer.

If you have an AddOn that allows you detach your Mana bar, it is highly recommended you put it somewhere near the lower centre of your screen so you can easily keep track of your current resource level. Newer players tend to overburn during the conserve phase and are unable to execute a complete burn phase because of this. Remember to use Arcane Missiles Icon Arcane Missiles on 4 Arcane Charge Icon Arcane Charges whenever possible to cheat the Mana multiplier but exploit the damage buff.

3.2. Executing the Burn Phase Consistently

Since 75% of Arcane gameplay (the conserve phase) is about setting up the burn phase, it is of paramount importance that you consistently and flawlessly execute it once it begins. Arcane Power Icon Arcane Power should be used on cooldown wherever possible, though you do want it to overlap with any other major damage buffs (such as the legendary ring and Rune of Power Icon Rune of Power). You should cast Evocation Icon Evocation immediately upon hitting 0 Mana and save your Arcane Missiles Icon Arcane Missiles charges until after Evocating, so the Evocate cooldown will be up as soon as possible later in the fight.

Pay close attention to the burn phase priority list posted at the top of this page. This seems very straightforward on the surface, but a surprising number of players will stutter in the execution. Make sure you are prepared before entering the burn phase!

3.3. Movement Management

While it is difficult to describe the best ways to position and move during a dungeon or raid encounter, it is essential to your success as an Arcane Mage.

Ice Floes Icon Ice Floes charges set an important balance; it is important to refrain from overusing these and leaving yourself with nothing when it actually matters, but you also want to avoid letting Ice Floes Icon Ice Floes sit at 3 charges when you are moving.

Try and use Blink Icon Blink for "urgent" movement — when you need to travel from one place to another as quickly as possible. Ice Floes Icon Ice Floes should be used when you are capped on charges, or when you know you will finish an entire cast while moving. Ice Barrier Icon Ice Barrier is a good choice when you only need to take a few steps, as it only costs a single GCD. Ice Floes Icon Ice Floes can be used on important spells such as Evocation Icon Evocation, which is a lengthy channel. Protecting this key spell with an Ice Floes Icon Ice Floes charge can be crucial, as interrupting this channel will spell instant failure.

Displacement Icon Displacement is incredibly underutilized by a lot of players, but is an essential part of your mobility kit. This spell is fantastic for mechanics that force you to run out of the raid and return moments later. It is also great for dealing with dance mechanics — after the "dance" ends you can return to your original location without delay. Do not underestimate Displacement Icon Displacement and do not be afraid to get creative with how you use it! It should be noted that when using Shimmer Icon Shimmer, your casts are also uninterrupted by Displacement Icon Displacement in addition. The Shimmer Icon Shimmer talent is very strong overall, allowing you to stay in line of sight mid cast if the boss moves, or quickly dodge a mechanic without interruption.

For phases with predictable high movement, you should treat Ice Floes Icon Ice Floes as a DPS cooldown and plan your charge usage accordingly. If you are playing with Shimmer Icon Shimmer talented, you should be using this as a pseudo Ice Floes Icon Ice Floes as it does not interrupt your cast when used. Finally, always try to position yourself in a location central to fight movement. For example, if the boss is being moved in a circle, try to stay on the inside of the kite path to ensure minimal movement.

3.3.1. Quiet Movement

Many players will unconsciously move during fights, despite it being unnecessary. For example, sometimes the boss or adds will be moved by the tank a couple yards, and though you are still in range to cast, you subconsciously mirror that movement, costing you global cooldowns. Consciously work to "quiet" your movement, and reduce unnecessary movement to a minimum. The best way to see this in action is to take a video of your raid, then watch yourself play. Most players will be surprised by the amount of wasted movement they commit. When you are forced to move, make use of the tips above, and make your path as direct and decisive as possible.

4. Opening Sequences

  1. Use Potion of Deadly Grace Icon Potion of Deadly Grace.
  2. Precast Arcane Blast Icon Arcane Blast 1.5 seconds before the pull.
  3. Cast Arcane Blast Icon Arcane Blast 3 times.
  4. Cast  Icon Mark of Aluneth.
  5. Place Rune of Power Icon Rune of Power.
  6. Activate Arcane Power Icon Arcane Power and any racial cooldowns on on-use trinkets.
  7. Spam Arcane Blast Icon Arcane Blast.
  8. Use Arcane Missiles Icon Arcane Missiles when available.
  9. Cast Supernova Icon Supernova in your last second of Arcane Power Icon Arcane Power if you can't fit another cast in.
  10. Place Rune of Power Icon Rune of Power again when Arcane Power Icon Arcane Power ends (only if Bloodlust was used).
  11. Cast Evocation Icon Evocation when your Mana is empty and commence conserve phase.

5. ChangeLog

  • 15 Sep. 2016: Updated opener.
  • 29 Aug. 2016: Updated for Legion's launch.
  • 19 Jul. 2016: Many min-maxing improvements throughout the page.
  • 18 Jul. 2016: Updated for the Legion pre-patch.
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