Arcane Mage Pre-Patch Guide for WotLK Classic
The Pre-Patch period of Wrath of the Lich King Classic is a time to allow players to level or gear up characters while experiencing some of the class changes of the coming expansion before its official launch. Here you will find recommended talents, gear, and some rotation tips for a Arcane Mage when you can only reach a maximum level of 70.
Arcane Mage in Wrath of the Lich King Pre-Patch
The Wrath of the Lich King pre-patch changes the way Arcane Mages are being played by a bit. This guide will inform you about the most important basics for Mages during the pre-patch and tell you a few new things for Mages in WotLK. As there is no Mage Simulation for Level 70, it is assumed that Arcane will be the top DPS spec during pre-patch.
Stats, Gear, Glyphs and Enchants
Wrath of the Lich King has a few changes for stats. These stat values are not set in stone, because there is no WotLK Mage simulation for Level 70. They are derived from Osthyvel's Level 80 Mage Simulation results.
Suggested stat priority: Hit (until cap) > Haste >= Spell Damage > Critical Strike Rating > Intellect > Spirit.
- Critical Strike Rating — Still a good stat. Slightly worse than Haste and Spell Damage.
- Haste Rating — Probably our most powerful stat after Hit Rating until cap. However, Haste loses a lot of its value when you go below the global cooldown.
- Hit Rating — Our strongest stat until the 17% Hit cap. Precision and Arcane Focus give 3% Hit each, reducing your Hit cap to 11%. A Druid's Improved Faerie Fire and a Priest's Misery give another total of 3% Hit (you only need one of these debuffs on your target), reducing your cap to 8% or 101 Hit Rating at Level 70. With a Draenei in your group, you gain another 1% Hit from Heroic Presence, lowering your cap to 7% or 89 Hit Rating. At Level 70 you still need 12.62 Hit Rating for 1% hit chance with spells. Hit Rating now counts for melee attacks and spells. Spicy Hot Talbuk offers you 20 more Hit Rating, if needed.
- Intellect — With Mind Mastery giving only 15% instead of 25% Intellect to Spell Power conversion rate, Intellect becomes a less desirable stat for Mages and you should avoid socketing it.
- Spell Power — Together with Haste Rating, this is likely your strongest stat. In WotLK, Spell Damage and Healing have been changed into the stat Spell Power.
- Spirit — With Molten Armor, 35% (or 55% with the Glyph of Molten Armor) of your Spirit will be converted into Critical Strike Rating. Further, Spirit still increases your Mana regeneration, but it is not the greatest of all stats.
- Stamina — While not adding DPS, Stamina provides health and you can only DPS if you are alive.
Basically, most of the TBC Phase 5 BiS below is still valid, but with a few corrections:
- Brooch of Nature's Mercy (TBC version) changes into Brooch of Nature's Mercy (WotLK version) and gains more value.
- Golden Staff of the Sin'dorei (TBC version) changes into Golden Staff of the Sin'dorei (WotLK version) and is usable by us, but is slightly worse than Sunflare + Heart of the Pit.
- It is not clear if 2 piece T5 and/or 4 piece T6 will be BiS during prepatch, or if you want to use off-pieces from Sunwell Plateau. Pre-patch will not last long, however, so go with whatever you feel more comfortable with or what is easier to get.
- With the increased Hit cap, Veiled Pyrestone, Reckless Pyrestone, and Great Lionseye are your new preferred gems for yellow gem slots.
- Purified Shadowsong Amethyst is your new best blue gem.
Wrath of the Lich King introduces the new profession Inscription, adding glyphs for each class. Glyphs enhance or change class-specific abilities and can be very powerful. Each class can use each 3 major and minor glyphs. A big chunk of glyphs will only be available with WotLK's full launch, so in pre-patch we can only use Glyph of Arcane Blast and Glyph of Arcane Missiles as Major glyphs. The minor glyphs available during pre-patch are mostly underwhelming, but Glyph of Arcane Intellect and Glyph of Slow Fall are decent quality of life glyphs.
The enchants list of TBC stays valid, except for the Gem changes above and the Intellect enchant on bracers.
Talents and Rotation
During pre-patch the first talent build below will likely be best for your overall raid performance. It offers a lower cooldown on Presence of Mind, Arcane Power, and Evocation from the Arcane Flows talent and is probably going to be equal or better overall for raiding than the second spec below. Additionally you can also spec into Arcane Barrage, which is not the greatest spell in our book, but can be cast while moving and replaces Fire Blast.
If you have 3% excess Hit (see stats above), e.g. from Grand Magister's Staff of Torrents, The Skull of Gul'dan, or from any other source, the above spec can also be altered for your Arcane Blast and Arcane Explosion to gain a 6% higher Critical Strike chance by using the following talent tree modification:
This second spec prefers Icy Veins and more Critical Strike damage for your Blizzard — Blizzard can crit in WotLK — with Ice Shards. This sounds better for AoE damage in theory, but the bonus damage from Ice Shards only applies to crits from Blizzard and the effect of Icy Veins gets beaten by the lower cooldown of Arcane Power with Arcane Flows. Furthermore, in raids like Sunwell Plateau only a small portion of your total damage done will be AoE damage.
Make sure to keep up Focus Magic on another caster. When the other caster scores a critical strike, you also gain 3% increased Critical Strike chance for 10 seconds. The most efficient class to give this buff to is a Fire Mage, but this can for example also be traded for a Balance Druid's Innervate. Molten Armor is the armor you want to use, as it turns 35% of your Spirit into Critical Strike rating.
The single-target rotation will be to stack Arcane Blast to 4x stacks. If you got a Missile Barrage proc by then, cast Arcane Missiles. If not, cast up to 6 Arcane Blasts and cast Arcane Missiles after that. Arcane Blast has a chance of proccing Missile Barrage, which halves your Arcane Missiles cast time (the tooltip is misleading), makes the cast free, and resets your Arcane Blast stacks. Finally, Arcane Barrage should only be used while moving or as a finisher.
The Arcane Mage AoE rotation is a bit more complicated. In theory, stacking the two highest ranks of Flamestrike followed by Blizzard is the highest AoE damage rotation, but in practice your targets often move out of the Flamestrike ground effect and Blizzard radius or even get kited toward the next pack. Therefore, it is recommended to cast Arcane Explosion when mobs are not standing still.
Another good trick to know for when mobs are standing still is to open with Presence of Mind, casting Blizzard followed by a Flamestrike and Blizzard until your targets are dead. Presence of Mind makes your next cast with a cast time an instant spell and gives your next spell a 30% higher Critical Strike chance through Arcane Potency. As Blizzard is a channeled spell, it will not consume the Presence of Mind buff, but the whole Blizzard will get the 30% bonus crit. The following Flamestrike will consume the instant cast from Presence of Mind. Therefore you gain twice the value from Presence of Mind.
Whenever you are going OOM (out of Mana), use Evocation. Innervate is not based on your Spirit and Intellect anymore in Wrath of the Lich King, but is instead based on the Druid's base Mana. Therefore it will restore a small and fixed amount of Mana. For this reason the Arcane Flows talent is important, as it reduces the Evocation cooldown from 4 (new!) to 2 minutes. Another small tip is that the Tier 3 2-set bonus (Frostfire Regalia) reduces the cooldown of Evocation by a minute. With this in mind, you can swap to the 2 pieces, wait for a second (the bonus needs a bit to activate), Evocate, and swap back to your normal gear. Be sure to only use this strategy out of combat, as you can only switch back to your normal gear out of combat and Tier 3 is terrible to wear during an encounter.
Depending on the spec you are using you can use Arcane Power alone or stack it with Icy Veins. Try to use them early, so your cooldowns become ready multiple times in an encounter. During cooldowns you want to cast as many Arcane Blasts as possible, but switch to the normal rotation again when you get to low Lana. For proper cooldown stacking use the potion as explained below in our TBC guide's consumables section, and check out the cooldowns guide to stack you cooldowns into 1-button macros.
There is good news: In WotLK Weapon Oils get removed and food and drinks are in one category. In practice that means that you do not need Brilliant Wizard Oil and Kreeg's Stout Beatdown any more. Further, only one potion can be used in fight, which is good for your wallet. Typically you "pre pot", which means you use a potion right before the pull and then are able to use another potion in fight. Between trash pulls, you can still chug Mana Potions, as their cooldown is only one minute in WotLK.
The consumables you will be using are:
- Flask — Flask of Blinding Light
- Food — Spicy Hot Talbuk (if not Hit-capped) > Blackened Basilisk, Poached Bluefish, or Crunchy Serpent
- Potion — Haste Potion (when not Haste-capped) > Destruction Potion (when Haste-capped) > Mana Potion Injector (more Mana if Engineer) > Super Mana Potion
- Mana Gems — Mana Emerald
- Scrolls — Scroll of Spirit V if no Priest with Divine Spirit is around.
- Bandages — Heavy Netherweave Bandage as a self-healing tool.
Another niche and rather expensive consumable is Greater Rune of Warding. If you have the gold for it, using it will not hurt you and can potentially be a life-saver.
Of course, boosted characters also want to be geared. Since the time period until the actual Wrath of the Lich King launch is so short and since many item options outside of Sunwell Plateau BiS gear can be replaced rather quickly by WotLK quest rewards, it is not recommended to invest hefty amounts of gold and time into gearing. If you want to gear up regardless, feel free to visit the TBC gear pages below:
- 23 Aug. 2022: Page added.
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