TBC Classic Arcane Mage Guide
Welcome to our Arcane Mage guide for TBC Classic, tailored for PvE content. Here, you will learn how all you need to know to play Arcane Mage proficiently. Click the links below to navigate the guide or read this page for a short introduction.
The Arcane arts are likely the most difficult, but also the most rewarding to master. Unlike the other two specs Fire and Frost, Arcane is extremely Mana hungry, but even more fun to play. Turning a Druid's Innervate into damage when it is not needed by healers or generally managing your Mana is the main challenge of this spec and can be much more challenging than the rotations of the other two Mage specs.
The Arcane talent tree underwent significant changes. From unplayable in Classic, it transformed into a very competitive and fun to play PvE spec. The new main nuke Arcane Blast (also referred to as "AB") and extremely Mana friendly and hard Frostbolts, paired with the option to use Icy Veins and Arcane Power at the same time give this spec the highest burst damage potential. The infamous Arcane Missiles also got a buff and are now good in niche situations. Stats like Intellect and Spirit, usually regarded as secondary, can be utilized by the Arcane talent tree and playstyle.
If you are interested in playing this spec, you need to know that it is very important to be in a group with a Shadow Priest. This spec really uses a lot of Mana very fast and will not be viable without a Shadow Priest.
If you are looking to level a Mage, you will find leveling guides below. You can level as either Fire and Frost Mage, or you can simply go with the Arcane leveling spec.
If you would like to see where Arcane Mages fall in the overall rankings among DPS specs for both PvE and PvP in TBC Classic, we have created pages dedicated to explaining what classes and specializations are the best of the best through multiple factors. However, ultimately, you should not let these lists dissuade you from playing what you enjoy.
Strengths and Weaknesses
- Best and most controllable burst damage of all Mage specs.
- Highest DPS ceiling of all three Mage specs.
- Very low threat.
- Can turn Mana cooldowns of the raid into damage.
- Extremely easy to gear.
- Makes use of Intellect and Spirit.
- Most challenging of all Mage specs to play.
- Reliant on Mana support.
- Gets weaker the longer a fight goes on.
- Slightly more complicated to play and manage Mana than other specs.
- Hardest spec to theorycraft, because it is influenced by so many factors.
- It is difficult to bring more than two Arcane Mages per raid.
Best Races for Arcane Mage
The Burning Crusade lets Mages choose between the races BloodElf, Troll, and Undead if Horde. The Alliance offers you Draenei, Gnome, and Human.
Blood Elf is the new Horde race choice, players can choose. Their racials are still quite good. Mana Tap and Arcane Torrent restore Mana and also grant the Mage a 2-second AoE silence effect, which can be used as an emergency Counterspell. The additional magic resistances decrease magic damage taken slightly and as arcane beings, Blood Elves have an increased Enchanting skill.
- Magic Resistance — Increases all resistances by 5.
- Arcane Affinity — Enchanting skill increased by 10.
- Arcane Torrent — Silences all mobs within 8 yards of you for 2 seconds and granting scaling Mana return based on your stacks of Mana Tap.
- Mana Tap — Steals Mana from a target granting you a buff that upon casting Arcane Torrent will grant you Mana based on the amount of Mana Tap stacks you have (stacks up to 3).
Trolls are the best PvE Horde race for Mages. The passive damage increase to beasts is nice to have while leveling and for farming beasts, but the real deal is the increased cast speed from Berserking. The more Health you have lost, the faster this ability lets you cast, up to a maximum of 30% faster casting. Further, Troll Mages are able to generate small amounts of Health during combat, an ability no other race has.
- Berserking — Increases your casting and attack speed by 10% to 30%. At full health the speed increase is 10% with a greater effect up to 30% if you are badly hurt when you activate Berserking. Lasts 10 seconds.
- Beast Slaying — Damage dealt versus Beasts increased by 5%.
- Regeneration — Health regeneration rate increased by 10%. 10% of total Health regeneration may continue during combat.
The racial traits of Undead are most the powerful in PvP combat, but also have niche uses in PvE. They can cancel Charm, Fear and Sleep effects or become immune to them, before these effects even apply. Together with Ice Block, this is a very strong ability. The typical Undead hunger for fresh bodies lets them feast on their enemies' corpses, restoring Health very quickly. Being able to breathe 3 times longer underwater than any other race, the Undead Mage does not need to fear from drowning while doing underwater farming or questing, and Undead are more resistant to Shadow damage.
- Will of the Forsaken — Provides immunity to Charm, Fear and Sleep while active. May also be used while already afflicted by Charm, Fear or Sleep. Lasts 5 seconds.
- Cannibalize — When activated, regenerates 7% of total Health every 2 seconds for 10 seconds. Only works on Humanoid or Undead corpses within 5 yards. Any movement, action, or damage taken while Cannibalizing will cancel the effect.
- Underwater Breathing — Underwater breath lasts 300% longer than normal.
- Shadow Resistance — Shadow Resistance increased by 10.
Just as Undead, Draenei have a slightly higher resistance to Shadow spells. Their Gemcutting ability increases their Jewelcrafting skill. The two most important racial traits are Inspiring Presence and Gift of the Naaru. Inspiring Presence increases the Spell Hit chance of players grouped with you, and Gift of the Naaru is a heal over time that scales with your level, usually used in niche situations such as healing while running away from enemies.
- Shadow Resistance — Shadow Resistance increased by 10.
- Gemcutting — Jewelcrafting skill increased by 5.
- Inspiring Presence — Increases chance to hit with spells by 1% for you and all party members within 30 yards.
- Gift of the Naaru — Gift of the Naaru is a heal that scales with your level and will heal your target over the course of 15 seconds.
Perception is a very strong cooldown to detect any stealth class around you, giving you a massive advantage in PvP. The Human Spirit is very good for Arcane Mages and can, in some situations, make Human the better choice for Arcane Mages than Gnome (more about that in the Arcane Mage guide). Diplomacy is useful any time you do a reputation grind.
- Perception — Dramatically increases stealth detection for 20 seconds.
- The Human Spirit — Spirit increased by 10%.
- Diplomacy — Reputation gains increased by 10%.
Just as they were in Classic, Gnomes are considered overall to be the best race for Alliance. Their Intellect boost from Expansive Mind is good for all three Mage specs, especially for Arcane, and the Escape Artist is the best Mage racial trait for PvP, as it is instant in TBC on a low 1.75-minute cooldown. The extra Arcane Resistance trait helps in a few PvE situations, where Arcane damage is coming in, such as tanking the Mage boss on the Illidari Council. The bonus to Engineering is just as handy as the other races' profession bonuses.
- Escape Artist — Escape the effects of any immobilization or movement speed reduction effect.
- Arcane Resistance — Arcane Resistance increased by 10.
- Engineering Specialization — Engineering skill increased by 15.
- Expansive Mind — Intellect increased by 5%.
For the Horde, Troll is clearly the best PvE Mage race, due to Berserking being the only viable racial trait. In PvP, Undead are king with Will of the Forsaken and Cannibalize.
For the Alliance, in PvP, Gnomes are the best choice with Escape Artist. For PvE, the decision making is not as easy. Draeneis come with the 1% Spell Hit racial for the whole group, which by itself is absolutely phenomenal, however, it goes down to no value as soon as there is a Shaman in your group, and generally most classes will be Hit capped on trash mobs. So this racial basically is only useful on bosses, if you do not have a Shaman in your group. As Intellect also increases the Critical Strike Chance, Gnomes are viable for all Mage specs. Arcane Mages, which will be on top of the food chain when it comes to Mage specs in TBC, benefit even more from the additional Expansive Mind Intellect, as it is their main stat. However, if you play in a guild that chain pulls, not allowing you to drink, a bigger Mana pool will only mean you have to drink longer, thus making The Human Spirit the better option, especially paired with Innervates and Improved Divine Spirit.
TLDR: For speedrunning as Arcane Mage with support, Human is the better PvE race, otherwise Gnome is.
Best Professions for Arcane Mages
Engineering is a very potent profession. Explosives, such as Dense Dynamite and Super Sapper Charge, are not subject to the AoE cap and can be woven into your rotation. Engineering also offers access to various versions of the Destruction Holo-gogs throughout the expansion and the Zapthrottle Mote Extractor, used for farming motes.
Enchanting offers Enchant Ring - Spellpower enchants for your rings, which are considered to be very strong. These enchants stop working if you drop Enchanting and can only be applied to your own rings. Another benefit from Enchanting is, that you can Disenchant most green, blue and epic quality gear items, which can be used for other enchants or can be sold. This, however, requires your Enchanting skill to be leveled. Follow our TBC Enchanting guide if you want to learn more about the Enchanting profession.
Tailoring gives access to several very strong Tailoring items and set bonuses. At Tailoring level 350, wearing both Spellstrike Hood and Spellstrike Pants will give your spells a 5% chance to increase your Spell Damage by 92 for 10 seconds. The Arcane Mages' fast cast Arcane Blast will trigger/proc this set bonus more often than a slow 3 second cast time Fireball from Fire Mages.
Specializing in Spellfire Tailoring is possible at Tailoring 300. Spellfire Tailoring is required to wear the Spellfire set that consists of Spellfire Robe, Spellfire Gloves and Spellfire Belt. The 3-set bonus of the Spellfire set will give you 7% of your Intellect as Spell Damage. This bonus synergizes perfectly with Arcane Mages, as they get more Intellect from talents and Intellect is a preferred stat of Arcane Mages, and it has very high Arcane Spell Damage, which is good for Arcane Blast.
Another bonus of Spellfire Tailoring is that, whenever crafting a Spellcloth, Spellfire specialized tailors will get two instead of one Spellcloth. Spellcloth is used to craft both, the Spellstrike and Spellfire set.
At Tailoring level 375, players with Exalted reputation with Aldor, can create the best leg enchant for healers, Golden Spellthread. Players Exalted with Scryers can make the best caster leg enchant Runic Spellthread. Three other, very sought-after Tailoring crafts are Girdle of Ruination, Cloak of the Black Void, and Bracers of Havok. These items can be worn but also be sold to other players, making Tailoring a very convenient profession not only for PvE purposes, but also for gold making.
With Tier 5 and Tier 6, Belt of Blasting and Boots of Blasting from T5 raids, and Mantle of Nimble Thought and Bracers of Nimble Thought from T6 raids become available.
Leatherworking needs to be mentioned, as Leatherworkers can make different drums with beneficial effects for 30 seconds. However, in TBC Classic, players receive a Tinnitus debuff whenever they benefit from a drum effect. This is a 2-minute duration effect, that prevents you from getting another drum effect. This debuff was not in the game originally, and was recently added by Blizzard. It greatly decreases the value of drums and therefore Leatherworking.
If you would like to learn more about how your profession of choice can be used to supplement your goldmaking, along with a variety of other means to bolster your income, see our full goldmaking guide linked below:
- 08 May 2022 (pre-raid gear page): Updated for Phsae 5.
- 05 May 2022 (gear page): Updated for Phase 5.
- 05 May 2022 (Phase 3 gear page): Guide moved.
- 26 Mar. 2022 (gear page): Added info for the red gem in the wand.
- 21 Mar. 2022 (pre-raid gear page): Updated for Phase 4, the Gods of Zul'Aman.
- 21 Mar. 2022 (gear page): Included Ashtongue Talisman for Alliance Mages with Tempest of Chaos and Chronicle of Dark Secrets.
- 21 Mar. 2022 (gear page): Updated for Phase 4, the Gods of Zul'Aman.
- 15 Jan. 2022 (this page): Added new Tailoring items.
- 14 Jan. 2022 (pre-raid gear page): Updated for Phase 3.
- 14 Jan. 2022 (gear page): Removed the Haste neck which is currently not available and optimized layout.
- 14 Jan. 2022 (talents page): Removed the subpar Deep Arcane spec.
- 14 Jan. 2022 (enchants page): Updated the Flask section.
- 14 Jan. 2022 (stats page): Updated Spell Haste, Intellect, and Spell Damage info.
- 13 Jan. 2022 (enchants page): Page updated for Phase 3.
- 07 Jan. 2022 (gear page): Updated for Phase 3; separated previous Phase 2 list into a new page.
- 07 Jan. 2022 (Phase 2 gear page): Guide moved.
- 20 Dec. 2021 (rotation page): Updated to be in line with passive Haste.
- 15 Oct. 2021 (gear page): Updated page layout and added some alternatives to the Best in Slot list.
- 15 Oct. 2021 (stats page): Updated Global Cooldown info to fit the current 1s GCD.
- 15 Oct. 2021 (rotation page): Updated Global Cooldown info to fit the current 1s GCD.
- 19 Sep. 2021 (Phase 1 gear page): Page restored.
- 17 Sep. 2021 (gear page): Added Band of Eternity Ring.
- 13 Sep. 2021 (pre-raid gear page): Updated pre raid gear to Phase 2 standards.
- 13 Aug. 2021 (enchants page): Added Kreeg's Stout Beatdown to consumables.
- 13 Aug. 2021 (rotation page): Updated Global Cooldown info to fit the current 0.75s GCD.
- 13 Aug. 2021 (stats page): Updated Haste info.
- 05 Aug. 2021 (gear page): Added Horde version of the BiS list.
- 04 Aug. 2021 (gear page): Page added.
- 17 Jun. 2021 (enchants page): Adjusted gems recommendations to include craftable Spell Hit gems.
- 17 Jun. 2021 (pre-raid gear page): Adjusted BiS gear to include craftable Spell Hit gems.
- 04 Jun. 2021 (pre-raid gear page): Adjusted trinket recommendations.
- 04 Jun. 2021 (this page): Added links to leveling guides.
- 04 Jun. 2021 (enchants page): Added info about unique Heroic dungeon gems.
- 30 May 2021 (stats page): Guide added.
- 30 May 2021 (talents page): Guide added.
- 30 May 2021 (enchants page): Guide added.
- 30 May 2021 (spells page): Guide added.
- 30 May 2021 (this page): Guide added.
- 30 May 2021 (pre-raid gear page): Guide added.
- 30 May 2021 (rotation page): Guide added.
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