TBC Classic Arcane Mage Rotation, Cooldowns, and Abilities

Last updated on Dec 20, 2021 at 20:38 by Wrdlbrmpft 10 comments

On this page, you will learn how to optimize the rotation of your Arcane Mage in both single-target and multiple-target PvE situations in TBC Classic. We also have advanced sections about cooldowns, procs, etc. in order to minmax your DPS.



If you are not already familiar with all the Arcane Mage spells, or simply want to refresh your memory, you may find interest in the Spells Summary page. Knowing how all your important spells work helps you understand your class better. This will improve your performance, as you will not have to think about these spells any longer, but simply know them and can focus on what happens around you in PvE and PvP situations. Knowing when to press which defensive button can help your and your raid's survival. In PvP situations, you always have to be ready to notice what your enemy is doing, and you become better at that if you know all your abilities by heart.

This guide assumes you are running one of the Arcane Mage PvE builds and that you are playing a Level 70 character.


AoE Damage and Threat

Arcane Mages use Arcane Explosion IconArcane Explosion (AE) as their main AoE spell. Thanks to the Arcane Subtlety IconArcane Subtlety, your Arcane Explosion generates 40% less threat and makes this spell relatively risk free to use if you have an AoE tank, preferably a Paladin, who knows what they are doing. If you are not sure about your AoE threat, you can always start AoEing with a rank 1 Arcane Explosion in order to get on the enemies' threat table, as some threat meter addons only display your the threat to enemy targets after you engaged them. Generally, it is strongly recommended using a threat meter addon from sites like Curseforge to ensure your survival. Another reason to use AE is, that Arcane Impact IconArcane Impact gives this spell a 6% higher Critical Strike chance.

It is also possible to work with Flamestrike IconFlamestrike, however, only use this ability when you are sure you will not pull aggro from your tanks. This spell does 100% threat if you are Arcane specced and can make you jump up high in the threat table fast. To learn more about how threat works with AoE spells, we recommend reading the AoE Damage and Threat section of the Frost rotation guide. Another AoE spell that can be used by Arcane Mages is Cone of Cold IconCone of Cold, which will do slightly more damage than Arcane Explosion. It only hits targets in a cone in front of you, however, and it is easy to miss mobs with it. Additionally it also generates more threat, so it is recommended to simply use Arcane Explosion IconArcane Explosion.


Tips and Tricks for Using AoE Spells

All AoE spells can be combined with the Icy Veins IconIcy Veins talent and other Haste increasing abilities, as Haste increases casting speed, lowers the Global Cooldown for instant cast spells, and increases the rate at which Blizzard IconBlizzard damage is ticking. If your tank threat allows, using Destruction Potion Icon Destruction Potions, Arcane Power IconArcane Power, and trinkets such as Icon of the Silver Crescent Icon Icon of the Silver Crescent together with AoE spells greatly increases your damage. For that a macro like the following makes you use your trinket in the upper trinket slot, a Destruction Potion Icon Destruction Potions, Icy Veins, Arcane Power IconArcane Power and the AoE spell of your choice, in this case AE:

  • /use 13
  • /use Destruction Potion
  • /cast Icy Veins
  • /cast Arcane Power
  • /cast Arcane Explosion
  • /cqs

The trinket in the upper trinket slot is accessed via /use 13, the trinket in the lower trinket slot via /use 14. You can only use one activation trinket at a time. If you wish to not include the trinket, Icy Veins IconIcy Veins, Arcane Power IconArcane Power or the Destruction Potion Icon Destruction Potions in your macro, simply leave these lines out. If you wish to use another spell, such as Cone of Cold IconCone of Cold, simply write Cone of Cold instead of Arcane Explosion IconArcane Explosion in the macro.

Be careful when using Frost Nova IconFrost Nova, you might kill your friends (or yourself). Frozen enemies that cannot reach their highest threat target, which is usually the tank, will often attack the closest target on their threat table.

If you choose your Frost talents accordingly, that means you put talent points in Permafrost IconPermafrost and Improved Blizzard IconImproved Blizzard, allowing you to slow enemies with Blizzard IconBlizzard. Doing this can be useful to control enemies in chaotic situations or simply to make a Protection Paladin take less damage while he is kiting enemies through his Consecration IconConsecration.


Single Target Damage

Arcane Mages are capable of doing huge amounts of single target damage, especially in shorter fights with Arcane Power IconArcane Power and the double use of Icy Veins IconIcy Veins with Cold Snap IconCold Snap.

Your main rotation will be to cast Arcane Blast IconArcane Blast until it you have three debuffs. Then you decide if you simply continue casting AB or if it is time to use your cooldowns. For cooldown stacking, we recommend to use either:

  • /use 13
  • /use Destruction Potion
  • /cast Icy Veins
  • /cast Arcane Power
  • /cast Arcane Blast
  • /cqs


  • /use 13
  • /use Destruction Potion
  • /cast Arcane Power
  • /cast Arcane Blast
  • /cqs

You should only be using Destruction Potion Icon Destruction Potions with the macro if you experience no Mana issues, but for completive reasons it is in here. Most likely you will have Mana issues and will use Super Mana Potion Icon Super Mana Potions, which will put Destruction Potions on cooldown. You may have noticed that one macro uses Icy Veins IconIcy Veins and one does not. If you use Icy Veins with Bloodlust IconBloodlust/Heroism IconHeroism, the two Haste effects would push a 1.5-second Arcane Blast IconArcane Blast roughly 0.04 seconds below the intended 1-second Global Cooldown cap. This is no issue, as stacking Bloodlust and Icy Veins with trinkets and Arcane Power IconArcane Power is still a DPS increase, especially if you use Evocation IconEvocation at the end of both Haste buffs. Evocation will be cut down from an 8-second channel time to 5.13 seconds and you will effective gain roughly 3 seconds by doing this little trick.

Please note that this strategy is only viable if you stack Arcane Power IconArcane Power with Bloodlust IconBloodlust and Icy Veins IconIcy Veins, if you have no other Haste effects, as the 0.04-second downtime after each Arcane Blast IconArcane Blast will quickly add up. With more Haste, you will have for example 0.1 seconds (or even more) of downtime each cast, and stacking Bloodlust/Heroism IconHeroism and Icy Veins with Arcane Power is not worth it any more. As there is a variety of Haste gear available from Phase 3 on, there is no other solution but to stack Haste cooldowns in a way to have AB as close as possible to a 1-second cast time during Arcane Power, while not going below the 1-second cast time by more than 0.04s.

Use your Offensive Mana Potion/Gem as early as you can, but only if your Mana missing is greater than the Mana the Super Mana Potion/Mana Gem restores. A Super Mana Potion Icon Super Mana Potion can restore up to 3000 Mana, and Mana Emerald Icon Mana Emerald 2460 Mana.

Whenever you are low on Mana, for example 3000 Mana, you go into the filler rotation. For Arcane/Frost it is:

  • 3x Frostbolt, 3x Arcane Blast, repeat

For Deep Arcane you use:

  • 1x Arcane Missiles, 1x Frostbolt, 3x Arcane Blast

You do these rotations to have enough Mana available for a potential Bloodlust IconBloodlust/Heroism IconHeroism and/or your next Arcane Power IconArcane Power nuke phase. If you have a Shadow Priest in your group, their Vampiric Embrace IconVampiric Embrace usually restores enough Mana to make your filler rotation Mana positive. If your Shadow Priest is dead or you have no Shadow Priest, consider going into the filler rotation sooner. For this, and this is one of the interesting bits about the Arcane Mage playstyle, you need to get a feeling. Managing your Mana and developing a natural feeling for it is one of your key tasks when playing Arcane Mage.


Detailed Information About Arcane Main DPS Spells

Arcane Blast IconArcane Blast is your main source of single target damage. Minimize the time spent moving and maximize the time casting, to effectively increase your DPS. If you need to change positions, try Blink IconBlinking instead of walking, as this will almost always be faster than moving. Arcane Blast also places the 8 seconds debuff on you. If you start a new Arcane Blast cast at the last second of the Arcane Blast debuff, it will cast with the 1.5 second cast speed, but since Mana cost is calculated at the end of spells with a cast time, your spell will hit when the debuff has dropped and the Mana cost will be the base Mana cost instead of the stacked cost. In short, you will get a 1.5-second cast time Arcane Blast for 195 Mana — 39 Mana more with 2 pieces of the T5 set — instead of 634.

Frostbolt IconFrostbolt acts as filler ability in both Arcane specs. The rotation is explained above.

Arcane Missiles IconArcane Missiles is one of the filler abilities in the Deep Arcane spec. The rotation is explained above.

Arcane Power IconArcane Power is your first DPS cooldown, increasing your magical damage and Mana cost by 30% for 15 seconds. This ability has a 3-minute cooldown. Use this ability as often as you can, as not using it when there is an opportunity is lost damage. As with any cooldown in the game, try to time it so that your cooldown time does not get interrupted by having to move or deal with boss mechanics. If you are under the effect of Bloodlust IconBloodlust/Heroism IconHeroism, for single-target, cast this ability with Icy Veins IconIcy Veins to gain maximum damage. For AoE, it can always be used, but be careful with AoE threat. The recommended macros for this ability can be found above.

Icy Veins IconIcy Veins is your second DPS cooldown. Use it as often as possible and try to use it in a phase of a boss fight that does not interrupt your casting with movement or anti-casting mechanics. For example using it right before a 10-second stun mechanic on a boss makes this cooldown 50% worse. A good macro to use Icy Veins is written and explained above.

Cold Snap IconCold Snap — As Icy Veins IconIcy Veins and Arcane Power IconArcane Power both have a 3-minute cooldown, it is important to time Cold Snap, so Icy Veins and Arcane Power are not desynced. One way of doing that is to use Icy Veins at the start of a fight, after 20 seconds Cold Snap, then use Icy Veins and Arcane Power. This way you make sure Icy Veins and Arcane Power come off cooldown at the same time. Cold Snap can also be used to reset Ice Block IconIce Block or Frost Nova IconFrost Nova for survival or mob control reasons.

Fire Blast IconFire Blast will be cast when you are moving or to finish off an enemy with a last cast, as Fire Blast has no travel time.

Presence of Mind IconPresence of Mind is also called PoM, and can also be used as a finisher with:

  • /cast Presence of Mind
  • /cast Arcane Blast
  • /cqs

Arcane Blast IconArcane Blast is chosen in here, as it does not have travel time and instantly hits the target. If you want to prevent your Arcane Blast debuff from running out, you can also use the macro above to reset the debuff's rotation to 8 seconds. Another use for Presence of Mind IconPresence of Mind outside of instantly Polymorph IconPolymorphing enemies and the two cases described above, is damaging enemies while you are moving. If you want to use Presence of Mind with another spell, for example the AoE spell Flamestrike IconFlamestrike, simply replace Arcane Blast in the macro with Flamestrike.

Remove Lesser Curse IconRemove Lesser Curse — While this is no damage spell, it is of high importance to decurse on some fights, and doing so is part of being a good Mage.

Mage Armor IconMage Armor — It is important to keep this buff up on you, as it is responsible for half of your Mana regeneration while casting. Therefore it is part of your rotation.

Arcane Intellect IconArcane Intellect/Arcane Brilliance IconArcane Brilliance — It is important to keep this buff up on you and your group for a higher Critical Strike chance with spells and more Mana. Therefore it is part of your rotation.

Offensive Potion/Gem is not an ability per se, however, it is useful and should be part of your rotation. Every time you use a Mana potion or gem, you lose time when swapping back to your damage spells. This is all natural because of human reaction time. However, the Offensive Potion/Gem, which is the term for a macro, can counter this time loss. It is a simple macro to use your Mana consumable and start a new cast right after:

  • /use Super Mana Potion
  • /cast Arcane Blast
  • /cqs


  • /use Mana Emerald
  • /cast Arcane Blast
  • /cqs

This way, you will never lose cast time again between using a Mana cooldown and damage spell cast.


Other Useful Combat Abilities

Playing a Mage does not only mean to press the Arcane Blast button, but also managing your Mana, using crowd control spells and making sure you survive.

Please consider taking a look at the Arcane Mage spells if you want to refresh your memory.



  • 20 Dec. 2021: Updated to be in line with passive Haste.
  • 15 Oct. 2021: Updated Global Cooldown info to fit the current 1s GCD.
  • 13 Aug. 2021: Updated Global Cooldown info to fit the current 0.75s GCD.
  • 30 May 2021: Guide added.
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