WotLK Classic Arcane Mage Guide
Welcome to our Arcane Mage guide for WotLK 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.
Arcane Mage in Wrath of the Lich King is a very engaging spec. The high burst potential coupled with reacting to procs and Mana management feels very rewarding and is often considered very fun. On top of that, Arcane Mages are the highest DPS class in short and segmented fights until later in the expansion and not as gear dependent as Fire and Frost. Arcane is still kind of Mana-hungry, but more controllable than it was in TBC.
The Arcane talent tree has undergone significant changes. From unplayable in Classic, it transformed into a very competitive and fun to play PvE spec in TBC. In Wrath of the Lich King the spec managed to become even more competitive and even more dynamic. The new main nuke is still Arcane Blast (also referred to as "AB"). With the Missile Barrage talent, the previously infamous Arcane Missiles now become part of your new rotation. Pairing your new rotation with Icy Veins and Arcane Power simultaneously, Arcane is the spec with the highest burst damage potential of all Mage specs. Stats like Intellect and Spirit, usually regarded as secondary, can be utilized by the Arcane talent tree and playstyle, but they are weaker than they were in TBC. The Arcane spec is considered to be the best Mage spec for the majority of the expansion. You will learn more about all abilities in much greater detail in the Arcane Mage PvE Spells and Arcane Mage PvE Talents sections of this guide.
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 WotLK 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.
- Low threat.
- Less gear dependent than other specs due to lower Hit requirement.
- Fun to play.
- Gets weaker the longer a fight goes on.
- No fixed rotation.
Best Races for Arcane Mage
Wrath of the Lich King lets Mages choose between the races Blood Elf, Troll, and Undead if Horde. The Alliance offers you Draenei, Gnome, and Human.
Blood Elf racials mostly outclassed by Troll racials. 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 Resistance decrease magic damage taken slightly and as arcane beings, Blood Elves have an increased Enchanting skill.
- Magic Resistance — Chance to be hit with spells decreased by 2%.
- Arcane Affinity — Enchanting skill increased by 10.
- Arcane Torrent — Silences all mobs within 8 yards of you for 2 seconds and grants 6% of your base Mana.
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. This ability lets you cast 20% faster for 10 seconds. Further, Troll Mages are able to generate small amounts of Health during combat, an ability no other race has. Da Voodoo Shuffle reduces the duration of all movement impairing effects by 15%.
- Berserking — Increases your casting and attack speed by 20%. 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.
- Da Voodoo Shuffle — Reduces the duration of all movement impairing effects by 15%.
The racial traits of Undead are most the powerful in PvP combat, but also have niche uses in PvE. Undead can cancel Charm, Fear and Sleep effects. 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 — Removes any Charm, Fear, or Sleep effect.
- 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 233% longer than normal.
- Shadow Resistance — Chance to be hit with shadow spells decreased by 2%.
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 Heroic Presence and Gift of the Naaru. Heroic Presence increases the 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 — Chance to be hit with shadow spells decreased by 2%.
- Gemcutting — Jewelcrafting skill increased by 5.
- Heroic Presence — Increases chance to hit 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 passive ability to detect any stealth class around you, giving you a massive advantage in PvP. The Human Spirit is not very strong for Arcane Mages but better than nothing. Diplomacy is useful any time you do a reputation grind and Will to Survive can be very strong in PvE and PvP. The combination of Perception and Will to Survive make Human a very good race for PvPers.
- Perception — Increases stealth detection. Passive ability.
- The Human Spirit — Spirit increased by 3%.
- Diplomacy — Reputation gains increased by 10%.
- Will to Survive — Removes all movement impairing effects and all effects which cause loss of control of your character.
Gnomes are considered to be a very strong PvE race for Alliance. Their Intellect boost from Expansive Mind is good for all three Mage specs, especially for Arcane, and Escape Artist is a very strong racial trait both for PvP and PvE, as it is instant in WotLK and on a low 1.75-minute cooldown. The extra Arcane Resistance trait helps in a few PvE situations, where Arcane damage is coming in. 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 — Chance to be hit with arcane spells decreased by 2%.
- 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 and Da Voodoo Shuffle being so strong. In PvP, Undead are king with Will of the Forsaken and Cannibalize.
For the Alliance, in PvP, Humans are the best choice with Perception and Will to Survive. For PvE, the decision making is not as easy. Draeneis come with the 1% Hit racial for the whole group, which by itself is absolutely phenomenal. However, it goes down to no value as soon as there is another Draenei in your group. This 1% Hit chance for both melees and casters is what makes Draenei Mages slightly the strongest PvE race for The Alliance, closely followed by Gnomes.
Best Professions for Arcane Mages
Engineering is simply the best profession. Explosives, such as Saronite Bomb and Global Thermal Sapper Charge deal a huge amount of extra damage and can be woven into your normal rotation. Engineering also offers access to several Best in Slot enchants, pre-raid BiS items such as Visage Liquification Goggles, and the Zapthrottle Mote Extractor, used for farming Eternals, such as Eternal Water.
Tailoring gives access to several very strong Tailoring items, such as Ebonweave Robe. Most noteworthy, however, are the BiS enchants Tailoring offers and which make Tailoring the second best profession for Mages. The Lightweave Embroidery is the best cloak enchant available, and Sanctified Spellthread is extremely valuable, as it is exclusively for tailors and costs only one Eternium Thread to make. Further, Tailoring offers Epic flying carpets, such as Magnificent Flying Carpet and allows you to craft several good Bind on Equip items throughout the expansion, like Merlin's Robe.
All the other Professions are not considered best in slot, but the power gap between Tailoring and these is not as extreme as it would be between Engineering and any other profession. Further, most other professions provide almost equal bonuses. All the same, we recommend learning Engineering and Tailoring. If you decide to go for different professions, the following table provides more information about the bonuses each profession can give:
|Alchemy||47 Spell power|
|Blacksmithing||46 Spell power|
|Enchanting||46 Spell Power|
|Herbalism||Lifeblood, passive heal|
|Inscription||46 Spell power|
|Jewelcrafting||48 Spell power|
|Leatherworking||46 Spell power|
|Skinning||40 Critical strike rating|
- 05 May 2023 (pre-raid gear page): Added P3 pre raid BIS lists.
- 05 May 2023 (gear page): Added preliminary P3 BIS lists.
- 03 May 2023 (pre-raid gear page): Changed the layout of the page.
- 03 May 2023 (gear page): Changed the layout of the page.
- 18 Jan. 2023 (talents page): Reviewed for Phase 2 release ahead of Ulduar raid release.
- 18 Jan. 2023 (this page): Reviewed for Phase 2 release ahead of Ulduar raid release.
- 06 Jan. 2023 (pre-raid gear page): Added Phase 2 specific information.
- 06 Jan. 2023 (gear page): Added Phase 2 specific information.
- 06 Jan. 2023 (enchants page): Added Phase 2 specific information.
- 06 Jan. 2023 (stats page): Added link to the Mage Sim guide.
- 06 Jan. 2023 (rotation page): Added Phase 2 specific information.
- 06 Jan. 2023 (spells page): Added more detailed info about Mirror Images.
- 16 Oct. 2022 (gear page): Fixed some wrong drop locations.
- 16 Oct. 2022 (this page): Updated Racials.
- 06 Oct. 2022 (stats page): Fixed hit tables not displaying information depending on spec.
- 06 Oct. 2022 (rotation page): Added more info to Flamestrike stacking.
- 03 Oct. 2022 (pre-raid gear page): Added information about 2pc T5.
- 03 Oct. 2022 (enchants page): Fixed some macro errors.
- 03 Oct. 2022 (rotation page): Fixed some macro errors.
- 01 Oct. 2022 (pre-raid gear page): Fixed a wand.
- 20 Sep. 2022 (this page): Updated Racials.
- 14 Sep. 2022 (pre-raid gear page): Page added.
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- Wrath Classic Patch 3.4.2 PTR Notes: May 18th
- Death Heat Map for Hardcore Characters and Their Killers
- BlizzCon 2023 in Coming on Nov 3-4
- Blizzard Announces Hardcore Classic
- Icy Veins is Getting a New Look
- Wrath Classic 3.4.2 PTR Schedule
- Official Support for Hardcore Classic Realms Coming Soon?
- New Sons of Hodir Tabard to Be Added to Wrath Classic