Arcane Mage DPS Guide — Shadowlands 9.0.5

Last updated on Mar 12, 2021 at 10:30 by Dutchmagoz 37 comments
General Information

Welcome to our Arcane Mage guide for World of Warcraft — Shadowlands 9.0.5. 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, so you can see what changes with every patch of Shadowlands.

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 very competitive on single-target, albeit a tiny bit lacking behind Fire Mages (1-2%). It is however significantly behind Fire Mages when it comes to AoE damage, unless you specifically opt into AoE damage, which comes at the cost of single-target damage.

Overall, Arcane Mages can perform quite well both in raiding and Mythic+ content, but they are not the best in either situation amongst the Mage specs.

11.

Changelog

  • 12 Mar. 2021 (Covenants and Soulbinds): Removed disclaimer for Venthyr bug because it was fixed in a hotfix.
  • 10 Mar. 2021 (Covenants and Soulbinds): Added a disclaimer for Venthyr bug.
  • 09 Mar. 2021 (enchants page): Reviewed for Patch 9.0.5.
  • 09 Mar. 2021 (stats page): Reviewed for Patch 9.0.5.
  • 09 Mar. 2021 (Torghast): Added new Torghast Anima Powers to the tier list.
  • 09 Mar. 2021 (talents page): Reviewed for Patch 9.0.5.
  • 09 Mar. 2021 (rotation page): Reviewed for Patch 9.0.5.
  • 09 Mar. 2021 (Covenants and Soulbinds): Updated Covenant suggestions to Necrlord as best due to Covenant buffs from 9.0.5.
  • 09 Mar. 2021 (Legendaries): Reviewed for Patch 9.0.5.
  • 09 Mar. 2021 (spells page): Reviewed for Patch 9.0.5.
  • 09 Mar. 2021 (mythic+ page): Reviewed for Patch 9.0.5.
  • 09 Mar. 2021 (gear page): Updated for 9.0.5 by adding Valor upgrade suggestions.
  • 09 Mar. 2021 (easy mode page): Changed suggested Covenant to Necrolord due to 9.0.5 buffs.
  • 04 Mar. 2021 (rotation page): Added Empyreal Ordnance usage to the rotation and fixed a typo.
  • 02 Mar. 2021 (gear page): Updated BiS list for Empyreal Ordnance and added description on how to use Empyreal Ordnance.
  • 18 Jan. 2021 (rotation page): Updated Prismatic Barrier description.
  • 16 Jan. 2021 (Legendaries): Updated Temporal Warp suggestions and descriptions to also be included even when Time Warp is not used early on a fight.
  • 16 Jan. 2021 (Castle Nathria page): Updated tips and recommendations based on new strategies commonly used for bosses.
  • 30 Dec. 2020 (this page): Updated viability section after a couple of weeks of mythic data and tuning giving a more complete picture of class balance.
  • 15 Dec. 2020 (Torghast): Updated tier list and rotation section for updated anima powers.
  • 14 Dec. 2020 (Torghast): Updated page for a better 1 shot combo and updated tier list.
  • 13 Dec. 2020 (Castle Nathria page): Removed Alter Time cheese from Sire Denathrius as it was hotfixed to no longer work.
  • 04 Dec. 2020 (rotation page): Simplified Shifting Power usage and expanded opener for Temporal Warp Legendary.
  • 04 Dec. 2020 (mythic+ page): Updated for Shadowlands season 1.
  • 03 Dec. 2020 (rotation page): Added a section for a very strong AoE combo.
  • 03 Dec. 2020 (Castle Nathria page): Updated Page based on Beta information.
  • 03 Dec. 2020 (enchants page): Updated potion to use int potion for all situations due to it being best above heroic dungeon gear.
  • 01 Dec. 2020 (enchants page): Updated suggested gems.
  • 01 Dec. 2020 (rotation page): Added Siphon Storm section to rotation and fixed incorrect checkbox functionality.
  • 01 Dec. 2020 (Castle Nathria page): Added placeholder Castle Nathria page.
  • 24 Nov. 2020 (Torghast): Page added.
  • 23 Nov. 2020 (FAQ page): Updated for Shadowlands Launch. Changed balance question for level 60.
  • 23 Nov. 2020 (how to improve 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 (rotation page): Updated rotation to include Arcane Missiles during Touch of the Magi.
  • 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 (spells 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 (this page): Updated for Shadowlands.
  • 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.
  • 22 Nov. 2020 (Covenants and Soulbinds): Updated page with more information regarding multi-speccing.
  • 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.
  • 21 Nov. 2020 (Legendaries): Updated some phrasing on Temporal Warp to be more informative.
  • 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 (rotation page): Added a section for the Arcane Missiles Spam rotation.
  • 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 (this page): Updated viability section after more data is available and updated a tooltip reference.
  • 21 Oct. 2020 (talents page): Fixed linking to Charged Up instead of Touch of the Magi.
  • 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 (Ny'alotha page): Page updated for the Shadowlands pre-patch.
  • 12 Oct. 2020 (addons page): Page updated for the Shadowlands pre-patch.
  • 12 Oct. 2020 (mythic+ page): Page updated for the Shadowlands pre-patch.
  • 12 Oct. 2020 (gear page): Page updated for the Shadowlands pre-patch.
  • 12 Oct. 2020 (rotation page): Page updated for the Shadowlands pre-patch.
  • 12 Oct. 2020 (simulations 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 (FAQ page): Page updated for the Shadowlands pre-patch.
  • 12 Oct. 2020 (talents page): Page updated for the Shadowlands pre-patch.
  • 12 Oct. 2020 (spells page): Page updated for the Shadowlands pre-patch.
  • 12 Oct. 2020 (this page): Page updated for the Shadowlands pre-patch.
  • 12 Oct. 2020 (easy mode page): Page updated for the Shadowlands pre-patch.
  • 12 Oct. 2020 (stats page): Page updated for the Shadowlands pre-patch.
  • 12 Oct. 2020 (enchants page): Page updated for the Shadowlands pre-patch.
  • 13 Jan. 2020 (The Eternal Palace 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 (Uldir 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 (Uldir 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.
  • 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 (Uldir 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.
  • 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).
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