Arcane Mage DPS Guide — Shadowlands 9.0.2

Last updated on Nov 24, 2020 at 23:31 by Dutchmagoz 16 comments
General Information

Welcome to our Arcane Mage guide for World of Warcraft — Shadowlands 9.0.2. Here, you will learn how to play as an Arcane Mage in both raids and Mythic+ dungeons: from the very beginning to maximizing your DPS.

If you were looking for WoW Classic content, please refer to our Classic DPS Mage guide.

1.

Arcane Mage Overview

The Arcane specialization is very singular in the current state of World of Warcraft. The core gameplay revolves around Mana expenditure, presenting the player with two distinct "phases" of the rotation; "Burn" and "Conserve". During the "Conserve" phase, the player aims to remain Mana neutral until the Evocation Icon Evocation cooldown is available. During the "Burn" phase, the player expends all their available Mana while their cooldowns are active, restoring their Mana to full with Evocation when they run dry and re-entering the "Conserve" phase. This dichotomy offers the player a unique experience that is both challenging and rewarding.

2.

Strengths and Weaknesses

V Strengths
  • +Very high burst damage
  • +Able to move around quickly
  • +Good at avoiding or reducing damage taken
X Weaknesses
  • -Low cleave damage
  • -Reliant on cooldowns for single-target damage
  • -Has to specifically opt into AoE damage at the cost of single-target damage
3.

Shadowlands Changes for Mages

We are maintaining a list of changes for Mages for Shadowlands, the upcoming World of Warcraft expansion, which you can access using the link below. We also have pages for the new Covenant abilities and Anima Powers.

Arcane Mages get the most changes out of the three Mage specs in Shadowlands. Although there is not a single very large individual change, all of the smaller changes make Arcane quite different from 8.3. Below we have listed some of the key ones that impact your core rotation.

  • Touch of the Magi Icon Touch of the Magi is now an active ability, and gets the effect from Charged Up built into it. This reduces setup time for Arcane's burst.
  • Although not an Arcane specific change, Rune of Power Icon Rune of Power now automatically activates when you use Arcane Power Icon Arcane Power. This is especially big for Arcane, as Arcane struggled with setup time, and this further reduces the large setup time that Arcane had.
  • Mastery: Savant Icon Mastery: Savant now not only boosts the damage of spells benefitted by Arcane Charges, but also all other spells. This is especially big for Arcane Missiles Icon Arcane Missiles, as this will now be an actual hard hitting ability that is a big damage boost to cast when Clearcasting Icon Clearcasting procs.
  • Clearcasting Icon Clearcasting has been changed to stack an additional time, allowing Arcane Mages to hold onto procs for specific situations, like a high priority target, or damage buffs.
  • The new Covenant system, especially Night Fae with its class ability of Shifting Power Icon Shifting Power, has a meaningful impact on Arcane's rotation. On the Covenants, Soulbinds and Conduits page, we go in-depth into this new system and what to pick.
  • Additionally, Legendaries were introduced, which have various gameplay altering effects. On our Legendaries page, we go into what Legendary to pick for what situation. To be able to create these new Legendaries, you will have to do Torghast. On our Torghast page, we guide you on picking the best Anima Powers and how to play optimally in Torghast.
4.

Leveling an Arcane Mage

If you want to play an Arcane Mage, but currently do not have one at max level, you can check out our leveling guide for tips on your journey.

Once you reach max level, it can be somewhat overwhelming to completely change the way you play by suddenly implementing a large number of addons in a short space of time, especially if they have a heavy visual impact on your UI. We recommend using some of the more basic addons recommended on our Addons page below while leveling, so that you have more time to get used to them during the easier phases of playing your class.

5.

Basics of Arcane Mage Gameplay

Arcane Mage is all about maximizing the damage you can do per point of Mana. Most of your damage will be done in a phase we will refer to as the "Burn" phase, during which you will quickly burn through all your Mana doing very high damage. Outside of this burn phase, you will be in your "Conserve" phase during which you are doing a bit lower damage waiting for your cooldowns to become available again.

Most of your time will be spent casting Arcane Blast Icon Arcane Blast as this is your main Mana expenditure spell. Additionally, Arcane uses various cooldowns, like Arcane Power Icon Arcane Power to boost the damage you do while burning through your Mana. The main way for Arcane to regenerate Mana will be via Evocation Icon Evocation. Conserve phases are made possible via Arcane Barrage Icon Arcane Barrage as this allows you to drop your Arcane Charges to reduce the Mana cost of your spells.

If you are an absolute beginner to the spec, but would like to learn the basic fundamentals of the class, recommend looking through the Spell Summary first, as well as the Easy Mode page linked below.

If you are already somewhat familiar with Arcane Mages, you can head straight to the Talents and Rotation pages to jump right into the more complex, detailed information.

6.

How to Gear Up as an Arcane Mage

We have a dedicated page that go over all the intricacies of gearing an Arcane Mage in the current patch, including the Best in Slot gear from the current tier.

After you have obtained some gear via the gearing guide above, you will want to make sure you are using the correct consumables, gems, enchants, and more. To help you with this process, we have a page on exactly this. Additionally, we have a stats page that goes over the stat priority and necessary changes that might occur from changing stat priorities.

7.

Arcane Mage in Shadowlands

With the launch of Shadowlands, Mages get access to various new systems that are very important to master to be able to perform well.

The most important new system is the Covenant system, which comes with the new Soulbind and Conduit systems. These systems have enormous impact on your DPS, and are hard to switch between, so picking the correct one is a big choice. Go to our Covenant, Soulbinds and Conduit page below to read what Covenant, Soulbind and Conduits to pick.

Arcane Mage Best Covenants, Soulbinds, and Conduits

Another important system that was added was the Legendary system. You can only equip one Legendary at a time, and the amount of Legendaries you can get is gated, so making the correct one for the content you are doing is important. On the page below, we go over what Legendaries to craft for what situation, and for what item slot to craft them, and in what order.

Arcane Mage Best Legendaries
8.

End-Game as an Arcane Mage

A fresh max level Arcane Mage plays and gears very different from end-game raiding and progression. In our Mythic+, Raiding, Torghast and PvP guides we go over all the details to perform as well as possible in these aspects, regardless of your focus in end-game content.

9.

Improving as an Arcane Mage

If you feel like you are making mistakes, or are not really sure what to improve on, you can check out the pages below for tips and answers to questions you might have.

10.

Arcane Mage Viability in the Current Patch

With current tuning, Arcane is looking to be very competitive on single-target, albeit a tiny bit lacking behind Fire Mages (1-2%). It does have good AoE damage, but struggles with 2-3 target cleave, unless you pick a Covenant specifically for this niche. In Castle Nathria, the damage pattern of Arcane might be problematic due to cleave being relatively important, but this remains to be seen on progress. However, especially during the early weeks of an expansion, many changes are often happening, so the viability might change before the raid and Mythic+ are released. If this happens, we will update this section.

11.

Changelog

  • 24 Nov. 2020 (Torghast): Page added.
  • 23 Nov. 2020 (spells page): Updated for Shadowlands launch. Added Covenant Abilities.
  • 23 Nov. 2020 (how to improve page): Updated for Shadowlands.
  • 23 Nov. 2020 (talents page): Updated for Shadowlands launch. Changed Englightened to Overpowered as optimal talent due to more cooldowns at level 60.
  • 23 Nov. 2020 (rotation page): Updated rotation to include Arcane Missiles during Touch of the Magi.
  • 23 Nov. 2020 (gear page): Updated for Shadowlands launch. Updated BiS list for season 1 of Shadowlands, added legendaries, conduits and early Shadowlands gearing sections. Removed mentions of BfA mechanics like azerite and essences.
  • 23 Nov. 2020 (this page): Updated for Shadowlands.
  • 23 Nov. 2020 (addons page): Updated for Shadowlands.
  • 23 Nov. 2020 (enchants page): Updated for Shadowlands launch. Changed enchants, gems, enchants to Shadowlands versions, added oils.
  • 23 Nov. 2020 (stats page): Updated for Shadowlands launch. Added Covenant Abilities.
  • 23 Nov. 2020 (easy mode page): Updated for Shadowlands Launch. Removed BfA sections like essences and azerite, and added Shadowlands sections like Legendaries and Covenants. Updated talents and rotation for new optimal play.
  • 23 Nov. 2020 (FAQ page): Updated for Shadowlands Launch. Changed balance question for level 60.
  • 22 Nov. 2020 (Covenants and Soulbinds): Updated page with more information regarding multi-speccing.
  • 21 Nov. 2020 (Legendaries): Updated some phrasing on Temporal Warp to be more informative.
  • 21 Nov. 2020 (simulations page): Updated for Shadowlands launch. Removed sims of BfA systems.
  • 21 Nov. 2020 (rotation page): Updated for Shadowlands launch. Changed the single target rotation to the new optimal rotation for Shadowlands, added covenant and legendary usage to the rotation, removed Essence usage, updated opener for Arcane Echo.
  • 20 Nov. 2020 (Legendaries): Page added.
  • 20 Nov. 2020 (Covenants and Soulbinds): Page added.
  • 11 Nov. 2020 (rotation page): Updated Arcane Missiles information to more clearly explain when to chain and when not to chain.
  • 26 Oct. 2020 (addons page): Removed 1 button Conjure Mana Gem since Blizzard now allows recrafting Mana Gem when not at max stacks.
  • 21 Oct. 2020 (FAQ page): Updated the balance question now that prepatch has been out for a week.
  • 21 Oct. 2020 (gear page): Updated Best in Slot for newly found strong items.
  • 21 Oct. 2020 (rotation page): Added a section for the Arcane Missiles Spam rotation.
  • 21 Oct. 2020 (talents page): Fixed linking to Charged Up instead of Touch of the Magi.
  • 21 Oct. 2020 (this page): Updated viability section after more data is available and updated a tooltip reference.
  • 21 Oct. 2020 (addons page): Added a 1 button Conjure Mana Gem
  • 14 Oct. 2020 (talents page): Updated a mistake in the talent selection.
  • 12 Oct. 2020 (easy mode page): Page updated for the Shadowlands pre-patch.
  • 12 Oct. 2020 (how to improve page): Page updated for the Shadowlands pre-patch.
  • 12 Oct. 2020 (spells page): Page updated for the Shadowlands pre-patch.
  • 12 Oct. 2020 (simulations page): Page updated for the Shadowlands pre-patch.
  • 12 Oct. 2020 (stats page): Page updated for the Shadowlands pre-patch.
  • 12 Oct. 2020 (Ny'alotha page): Page updated for the Shadowlands pre-patch.
  • 12 Oct. 2020 (mythic+ page): Page updated for the Shadowlands pre-patch.
  • 12 Oct. 2020 (rotation page): Page updated for the Shadowlands pre-patch.
  • 12 Oct. 2020 (FAQ page): Page updated for the Shadowlands pre-patch.
  • 12 Oct. 2020 (enchants page): Page updated for the Shadowlands pre-patch.
  • 12 Oct. 2020 (addons page): Page updated for the Shadowlands pre-patch.
  • 12 Oct. 2020 (gear page): Page updated for the Shadowlands pre-patch.
  • 12 Oct. 2020 (talents page): Page updated for the Shadowlands pre-patch.
  • 12 Oct. 2020 (this page): Page updated for the Shadowlands pre-patch.
  • 13 Jan. 2020 (Uldir page): This page has been reviewed for the release of Patch 8.3 and no changes are necessary.
  • 13 Jan. 2020 (Crucible of Storms page): This page has been reviewed for the release of Patch 8.3 and no changes are necessary.
  • 13 Jan. 2020 (Battle of Dazar'alor page): This page has been reviewed for the release of Patch 8.3 and no changes are necessary.
  • 13 Jan. 2020 (The Eternal Palace page): This page has been reviewed for the release of Patch 8.3 and no changes are necessary.
  • 20 Jul. 2019 (The Eternal Palace page): Added Azshara tips.
  • 16 Jul. 2019 (The Eternal Palace page): Removed disclaimer.
  • 14 Jul. 2019 (The Eternal Palace page): Added boss tips.
  • 10 Jul. 2019 (The Eternal Palace page): Added initial talent suggestions.
  • 07 Jul. 2019 (The Eternal Palace page): Page added.
  • 24 Jun. 2019 (Battle of Dazar'alor page): This page has been reviewed for the release of Patch 8.2 and no changes are necessary.
  • 24 Jun. 2019 (Crucible of Storms page): This page has been reviewed for the release of Patch 8.2 and no changes are necessary.
  • 24 Jun. 2019 (Uldir page): This page has been reviewed for the release of Patch 8.2 and no changes are necessary.
  • 12 May 2019 (Crucible of Storms page): Added more tips.
  • 15 Apr. 2019 (Battle of Dazar'alor page): This page has been reviewed and no changes are necessary for the release of the Crucible of Storms raid.
  • 15 Apr. 2019 (Crucible of Storms page): Guide added.
  • 15 Apr. 2019 (Uldir page): This page has been reviewed and no changes are necessary for the release of the Crucible of Storms raid.
  • 03 Feb. 2019 (Battle of Dazar'alor page): Added tips for Opulence.
  • 30 Jan. 2019 (Battle of Dazar'alor page): Updated for Jaina stun hotfixes.
  • 28 Jan. 2019 (Battle of Dazar'alor page): Added more Jaina info and suggestions.
  • 21 Jan. 2019 (Battle of Dazar'alor page): Added Battle of Dazar'alor guide for Arcane Mages.
  • 10 Dec. 2018 (Uldir page): This page has been reviewed for Patch 8.1 and no changes are necessary.
  • 30 Aug. 2018 (Uldir page): Added guides and talent recommedations for Heroic and Normal modes.
  • 10 Aug. 2018 (Uldir page): Added Arcane Mage Boss by Boss page (empty for now).
Show more
Show less