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Arcane Mage PvP Guide (Legion 7.3.5)

Last updated on Jul 24, 2018 at 07:57 by Mysticall 3 comments

Table of Contents


This guide will walk you through everything you need to know to play an Arcane Mage in a PvP environment. The guide will cover everything from talent choices, PvP talents, gameplay and rotation, and useful racial bonuses. It is most applicable to Arena content, but most talents and racial bonuses will work in Rated Battlegrounds and skirmishes.

About The Author

This guide has been written by Mysticall, a seasoned PvP player who has repeatedly achieved Arena Master and 2500 rating. You can watch his stream on Twitch, and you can also check out his YouTube channel.

1. Spec Overview / Place in the Current Meta for Arcane Mages

Arcane Mages are the most unique Mage specialization. Unlike the other two specs that focus on consistent damage and crowd control, Arcane has the option to just deal damage. This means you do not need to rely on getting a Polymorph Icon Polymorph on the enemy healer to get a kill.

1.1. Strengths of Arcane Mages

  • Great mobility
  • Strong single-target and spread damage
  • Great control

1.2. Weaknesses of Arcane Mages

  • Only one casting school
  • Predictable burst damage
  • Very few defensive cooldowns

2. Regular Talents for Arcane Mages

Regular talents work in both PvP and PvE content (although they may sometimes work differently in the two environments, which is indicated by their tooltips). In other words, they are always active.

On the other hand, PvP talents (which we talk about later on in the guide) are inactive outside of a PvP environment, unless you have enabled War Mode.

2.1. Tier 1 (Level 15) Talents

Amplification Icon Amplification is the best choice in this tier, and it will help with your overall damage. However, if you are willing to give up damage for additional Mana, Arcane Familiar Icon Arcane Familiar is the best choice in this tier. This gives you some slight damage, but allows you to use Spellsteal Icon Spellsteal more. It is very effective against healers and teams with very few HoTs or buffs.

2.2. Tier 2 (Level 30) Talents

If you are playing with a class that has very high sustained damage, Mana Shield Icon Mana Shield is the best choice in this tier. When you choose this talent, you are going to have to play defensively by using Prismatic Barrier Icon Prismatic Barrier more often. This increases your overall survivability, but you do lose Shimmer Icon Shimmer, which means you will have a harder time getting a Polymorph Icon Polymorph on enemy players; that is why you only use this when playing with a class that has high sustained damage (Arms Warrior, Assassination Rogue, Frost Death Knight).

If you do not want to use Mana Shield Icon Mana Shield or are playing on a team that focuses on crowd control, Shimmer Icon Shimmer is the best choice in this tier. This is very strong when trying to get crowd control on the enemy team. If an enemy is trying to get out of line of sight of your Polymorph Icon Polymorph, for example, you can Shimmer while casting it and avoid losing line of sight. This talent replaces Blink Icon Blink.

2.3. Tier 3 (Level 45) Talents

Incanter's Flow Icon Incanter's Flow is the best choice in the tier. It provides great damage (especially when you are at 5 stacks). Be sure to track and time how many stacks your Incanter's Flow buff has before using your offensive cooldowns.

2.4. Tier 4 (Level 60) Talents

Charged Up Icon Charged Up is the best choice in this tier. This increases your burst damage significantly. If you want an additional interrupt effect, Supernova Icon Supernova can be used instead. You will have less on-demand burst damage, but you will have an extra interrupt for healers or against DPS classes with spells that have long cast times.

2.5. Tier 5 (Level 75) Talents

When playing against a Restoration Druid, Ring of Frost Icon Ring of Frost is the best choice in this tier. Druids are difficult to get crowd control on as an Arcane Mage, and Ring of Frost Icon Ring of Frost helps with this. Assistance from a teammate (such as a Rogue stunning the Druid) will make it easier.

Against any other healer, Chrono Shift Icon Chrono Shift is the best choice in this tier. This talent will help you kite away from teams much easier, making it harder for them to kill you.

2.6. Tier 6 (Level 90) Talents

If you are playing 2v2 arena or playing 3v3 against a team that will not be stacked often, Nether Tempest Icon Nether Tempest is the best choice in the tier. Although Nether Tempest's damage is a bit low, it does give you a small amount of spread damage. It is also useful versus teams with a class that has a Stealth Icon Stealth effect.

Against teams that will be stacked often or have pets, Reverberate Icon Reverberate is the best choice in this tier. This has the potential to increase your sustained and burst damage.

2.7. Tier 7 (Level 100) Talents

Arcane Orb Icon Arcane Orb is the best choice in this tier. This talent will give you even more consistent damage while giving you more Arcane Charges.

3. PvP Talents for Arcane Mages

PvP talents are typically only available in PvP content, but War Mode (explained below) allows you to also benefit from them in the open world.

As you will see below, the PvP talents are very flexible. Depending on what classes you are playing with and against, you can adjust your talents to better suit your team's goal. You must choose:

  • 1 trinket talent out of 3 possible choices;
  • 3 PvP talents out of a pool of about a dozen possible choices.

3.1. War Mode

War Mode is a new PvP system added in Battle for Azeroth. War Mode can be toggled on and off in any major city. When it is enabled, you are able to use your PvP talents in the open world, and because you will be fighting enemies of the other faction, you also get an experience bonus while leveling. Do note that this makes you vulnerable to being killed by players of the other faction.

3.1.1. Bonuses of War Mode

Enabling War Mode provides the following perks.

  • The ability to use all PvP talents in the outdoor world. You do not need to be in PvP combat to use them.
  • You can earn Conquest Points.
  • You gain +10% experience while leveling.
  • There are PvP achievements you can earn.
  • At maximum level, you get a +10% World Quest reward bonus.

3.1.2. War Mode Bounties

If you kill too many players in a single zone, there will be a bounty put on you. Everyone in that zone will know your exact location. You can see the location of players with a bounty by checking your map. Killing players with a bounty on them rewards Conquest Points and is part of an achievement called Bounty Hunting Icon Bounty Hunting. Bounty Hunting is part of a meta achievement called Conqueror of Azeroth Icon Conqueror of Azeroth / Conqueror of Azeorth Icon Conqueror of Azeroth that rewards the title Conqueror of Azeroth.

3.1.3. Air Drops

It is not yet totally clear how Air Drops will work, but we know the following about it from Blizzard.

From time to time, a flying machine will make its way across the sky. The rumble of its engine is a clear indicator that something is afoot. You'll want to keep an eagle eye on the sky and watch for a War Supply Crate to drop somewhere in the zone. Similar to the chest in Gurubashi Arena, players can fight over the crate and claim it for their faction. Once a faction has gained control of the crate, anyone of that faction who is within the area will have a short period to open it and collect a piece of personal loot.

3.2. Trinket Talent

The first PvP talent tier is will give you a choice between Gladiator's Medallion Icon Gladiator's Medallion, Relentless Icon Relentless, and Adaptation Icon Adaptation. If you are an Orc, Relentless Icon Relentless is the best choice in this tier. Arcane Mages can be the focus target of some teams, and this will help with getting out of stuns and getting away from the enemies. If you are any other race, Gladiator's Medallion Icon Gladiator's Medallion is the best choice in this tier. This will help with getting out of stuns that you might be stuck in.

3.3. PvP Talents

Mass Invisibility Icon Mass Invisibility makes you and your allies within 40 yards invisible for 5 seconds. Dealing damage will cancel this effect. This is a very strong PvP talent against every team. Using this talent guarantees crowd control on enemy healers before using your burst damage. It can also help your teammates if they are being focus or to avoid incoming crowd control.

Temporal Shield Icon Temporal Shield creates a shield around you for 6 seconds. Once it expires, you will instantly be healed for 100% of the damage you took while it was active. This is a great defensive tool and should be used when the enemy team is using their burst cooldowns.

Master of Escape Icon Master of Escape reduces the cooldown of Greater Invisibility Icon Greater Invisibility by 45 seconds. Greater Invisibility Icon Greater Invisibility reduces damage you take by 60% when Invisible and 3 seconds after reappearing. So this will allow you to have an additional defensive on a relatively short cooldown.

Prismatic Cloak Icon Prismatic Cloak reduces magical damage you take by 50% for 2 seconds after you Blink Icon Blink or Shimmer Icon Shimmer. This talent is great against teams with magical spells that deal large amounts of damage. You can replace Master of Escape Icon Master of Escape with this if you are playing against a team with two spell casters on it.

Dampened Magic Icon Dampened Magic reduces magical damage over time effects on you by 20%. This is a great talent against classes like Shadow Priest and Affliction Warlock. You can replace Master of Escape Icon Master of Escape with this talent.

If you want to play extremely defensive against a team with two melee on it, you can swap Master of Escape Icon Master of Escape for Torment the Weak Icon Torment the Weak. This, in combination with abilities like Chrono Shift Icon Chrono Shift, will make it very difficult for melee to catch you.

3.4. PvP Gear

Gear is what determines how strong a player is in PvP. The better gear you have, the stronger your abilities are. There are several ways to receive gear from PvP. One important way to get gear is by completing the weekly conquest point cap. You will receive gear at the end of the week based on your rating. For example, if you played and won at Rival in 3v3, you will receive a reward with an item level based on your ranking at the end of the week. It is important to note that if you are rated at a Rival level in 3v3, but only do 2v2 that week, you will not receive a piece of gear unless you won a game in the 3v3 bracket. The following are the names and ratings of all of the brackets:

  • Combatant: 1400-1599;
  • Challenger: 1600-1799;
  • Rival: 1800-2099;
  • Duelist: 2100-2399;
  • Gladiator: 2400+.

3.4.1. Conquest Points

Every week there will be an empty bar in your PvP queue tab. If you earn enough Conquest Points to fill it, you will receive a piece of gear. When you complete a set, you can receive higher tiers of gear. Conquest points can be earned by doing the following:

  • Rated Arenas;
  • Rated Battlegrounds;
  • Normal Battlegrounds;
  • Epic Battlegrounds;
  • World PvP.

3.4.2. Obtaining Gear

You will obtain gear by earning Conquest Points. The following are the three ways to receive loot in PvP.

  • At the end of an Arena match there is a chance to receive a piece of gear. This gear is based on your Arena Rating.
  • After you win a Rated Battleground or win your first Battleground of the day you will get a piece of gear and earn Conquest Points.
  • Once you earned enough Conquest Points for the week, you will unlock a new weekly reward. This gear is based on your rating.

It is important to note that the gear you get from capping your Conquest Points is predetermined in a specific order. There are mechanics for players to get gear quicker if they have no played a character for awhile.

4. Racial Bonuses for Arcane Mages

Racial bonuses can provide interesting PvP benefits. Here are the best races to choose for each faction.

4.1. Horde

The abilities gained from the Orc Race (Berserking Icon Berserking and Hardiness Icon Hardiness) both greatly benefit an Arcane Mage. Berserking will help when using offensive cooldowns to get more damage output; Hardiness is an overall useful passive, especially against teams with multiple stuns.

4.2. Alliance

The Human racial bonus (Every Man for Himself Icon Every Man for Himself) is a great way to get out of stuns.

5. Playstyle for Arcane Mages

The Arcane Mage has two important roles in a 3v3 environment.

  • The first role that Arcane Mages have is crowd control. They not only have strong kiting tools for getting away from enemies, but they have strong tools to also cast and get crowd control on enemy players. Polymorph Icon Polymorph, the major Arcane Mage crowd control, can be used offensively (when trying to get a kill) or defensively (when trying to keep a teammate alive).
  • The second role an Arcane Mage has is having strong burst cooldowns. With relatively short major cooldowns, Arcane Mages have very strong consistent damage.

5.1. Before Gates Open

Be prepared to be the focus of many teams. This can be frustrating and make people shy away from Arcane. That said, Arcane Mages have a lot of utility to get away from enemy teams, so make sure to use this to your advantage. Make sure to use Arcane Intellect Icon Arcane Intellect on your teammates. It can be dispelled by abilities like Purge Icon Purge or Spellsteal Icon Spellsteal, so be prepared to apply it often.

5.2. Crowd Control

This is where the Mage has always shined in PvP. There is no other class/spec that can crowd control a team as well as a Mage can, not to mention the large amount of utility at their disposal.

If you want to guarantee crowd control in the opener, you can use Greater Invisibility Icon Greater Invisibility and open with a Polymorph Icon Polymorph on the enemy healer. If they manage to get behind a pillar, you can Shimmer Icon Shimmer to their location and still get your Polymorph off.

5.3. Offensive Rotation

Unlike the Fire and Frost Mage specs, Arcane only has one casting school, Arcane. What this means, is if you are interrupted at any time as an Arcane Mage, there is nothing you can do (whereas, if your Polymorph Icon Polymorph was interrupted as a Frost Mage, you could still cast Frost-School abilities). What this means as an Arcane Mage, it is sometimes better to not get any crowd control on the enemy healer (so as not to risk being locked out) and let your teammates do that while you focus on dealing damage.

5.3.1. The Opener

The opener refers to your team's opening crowd control chain and damage done as soon as you get out of the gates. The main goal in the opener is to force your enemies to use their cooldowns. If the enemy healer uses their trinket in the opener, they are in trouble. With the amount of crowd control and damage that Mages have, you can force cooldowns (trinkets and defensives) without having to use any cooldowns.

  1. Start the arena by using Greater Invisibility Icon Greater Invisibility.
  2. Use Mass Invisibility Icon Mass Invisibility. You can use Shimmer Icon Shimmer while this ability is active. This will guarantee a Polymorph Icon Polymorph or Ring of Frost Icon Ring of Frost on the enemy healer (if you are focusing the enemy healer, Polymorph a DPS that can heal/peel for the healer).
  3. Use Spellsteal Icon Spellsteal to steal any important buffs the enemy player has.
  4. If the enemy team is letting you cast, use Arcane Blast Icon Arcane Blast.
  5. When the healer is in crowd control, use your burst rotation.

5.3.2. Burst Damage

When you have the enemy healer in crowd control and you are trying to kill an enemy, you should use your burst damage.

5.3.3. Sustained damage

Sustained damage is damage you do when your burst cooldowns are not available. When they are on cooldown, you want to be doing a combination of crowd control and generating Clearcasting Icon Clearcasting and Arcane Charges by using Arcane Explosion Icon Arcane Explosion. Once you reach 4 Arcane Charges, use Arcane Barrage Icon Arcane Barrage. Use Slow Icon Slow and Polymorph Icon Polymorphs to control the enemy team. If you are using Nether Tempest Icon Nether Tempest, make sure to apply it to all enemies (except for enemies you might be crowd controlling). Use Evocation Icon Evocation if you get low on Mana from Spellsteal Icon Spellstealing.

If you get interrupted, make sure to use Frost Nova Icon Frost Nova to root any enemies in melee range.

5.4. Defensive Techniques

Ice Block Icon Ice Block is your main defensive ability. If you have run out of Shimmer Icon Shimmers and have no other ways to kite or survive, use this spell. This will protect you from all damage.

A Mage's crowd control is effectively a defensive technique for them. If the enemy team is using their offensive cooldowns, you can kite them by using Slow Icon Slow or by casting Polymorph Icon Polymorph and Blink Icon Blinking away.

Temporal Shield Icon Temporal Shield is one of the best defensive cooldowns Mages have. Use this when you are being focused and when at high health; the reason for using it at high health is that a great part of this spell is the 6-second HoT it applies to you to heal back the damage you have sustained — if you are at low health, you will probably die before you are able to benefit from the HoT. One of the skills to this ability is knowing when to cancel it (since canceling it triggers the HoT). If you are at half-health and use Temporal Shield, there is a good chance you will die with it still active; cancel it instead, so you can get healed for a large amount and not die with it still active.

Prismatic Barrier Icon Prismatic Barrier has also been given to Arcane Mages. This is a slightly weaker form of Ice Barrier Icon Ice Barrier. However, it is very strong against caster teams, reducing all harmful magic damage dealt to you.

Remove Curse Icon Remove Curse removes all curses from a friendly target. This can remove important debuffs like Hex Icon Hex or Agony Icon Agony.

6. Best Team Compositions for Arcane Mages

Now that you have the correct talents and understand your damage rotation, it is time to step into the arena with your team. With spells like Arcane Power Icon Arcane Power, almost unmatched mobility, and strong crowd control, Arcane Mages want to stay aggressive and control the enemy team.

6.1. 2v2 Arena

In 2v2 Arena, you do not have many options. It can be quite difficult to kill a healer in 2v2 by yourself, so you will likely be focusing an enemy DPS. Before you use your burst rotation, make sure the enemy healer is in crowd control. Ideally, you will be playing with a healer that can stun. After the stun, cast Polymorph Icon Polymorph on the healer and use your burst rotation on the DPS. Unfortunately, If you get interrupted while casting Polymorph Icon Polymorph, there is nothing you can do because Arcane Mages only have one school of spells. Take advantage of your mobility with Shimmer Icon Shimmer to cast spells. It is important to note that Mages have Spellsteal Icon Spellsteal and can use it to steal HoTs to heal themselves. This is a great spell versus Restoration Druids and Discipline Priests that have multiple spells that you can steal.

Here is a list of the best team compositions for 2v2:

  • Arcane Mage + Assassination Rogue
  • Arcane Mage + Discipline Priest
  • Arcane Mage + Holy Paladin
  • Arcane Mage + Restoration Druid

6.2. 3v3 Arena

Your role in 3v3 is similar to 2v2 Arena. As an Arcane Mage you will be focusing on controlling the enemy team with slows and Polymorph Icon Polymorph. Before your team uses burst cooldowns, make sure there is crowd control on the enemy healer. If you are playing with a Rogue, remember that Polymorph Icon Polymorph shares a diminishing return with Sap Icon Sap and your Polymorph Icon Polymorph will be half duration in the opener. Again, take advantage of Shimmer Icon Shimmer so you can easily get crowd control on the enemy healer or to deal damage without being interrupted. It is important to note that you are not limited to using Polymorph Icon Polymorph on the enemy healer. If an enemy DPS using their burst cooldowns, you can slow/root and Polymorph Icon Polymorph them. This will help your healer significantly.

Here is a list of the best team compositions for 3v3:

  • RMPally(Arcane Mage + Assassination Rogue + Holy Paladin)
  • Arcane Mage + Elemental Shaman + Holy Priest
  • Arcane Mage + Windwalker Monk + Holy Paladin/Restoration Druid
  • Arcane Mage + Destruction Warlock + Holy Paladin

7. Useful Macros for Arcane Mages

Macros are crucial to be successful in PvP. They allow players to use abilities on enemies without having to target them. This helps increase overall damage/healing and general awareness in the arena. Here are a few macros that all Arcane Mages can benefit from.

7.1. Polymorph 123 Macro

  • #showtooltip Polymorph
  • /cast [target=arena1] Polymorph

Using this macro will cast Polymorph Icon Polymorph on arena enemy 1. This makes it easier to crowd control an enemy while staying focused on your target. If you want macros for the second and third enemies, simply change the arena1 to arena2 or arena3.

7.2. Polymorph Focus Macro

  • #showtooltip Polymorph
  • /cast [target=focus] Polymorph

If you find that you do not have much room on your actionbars, you can use a focus macro. This is much simpler to use than the arena123 macro. Put an enemy on focus and this macro will cast Polymorph Icon Polymorph on that player while you are still focused on your target.

7.3. Counterspell Focus Macro

  • #showtooltip Counterspell
  • /cast [target=focus] Counterspell

This macro will use Counterspell Icon Counterspell on whichever enemy you have on focus. Because you will be primarily using Counterspell Icon Counterspell on the enemy healer, you should only need this focus macro.

7.4. Ice Block Macro

  • #showtooltip Ice Block
  • /cast !Ice Block

This makes it so when you use Ice Block Icon Ice Block it will not cancel it if you click it a second time.

8. Artifact Traits for Arcane Mages

With the arrival of Patch 8.0, Artifact weapons have had their power drained in order to combat the spreading corruption from the sword of Sargeras and are now nothing more than a stat stick. This means that all traits are gone, so artifact paths and trait priority list are no longer required.

9. Relics for Arcane Mages

Relics are now simply a boost to your Artifact weapon's item level.

10. ChangeLog

  • 24 Jul. 2018: Made many updates to the guide.
    • Updated Introduction and spec overview.
    • Added War Mode sections.
    • Updated all talent sections.
    • Added PvP talents and gear sections for the new BfA system.
    • Updated Racial Bonuses section.
    • Updated Burst and Sustained Damage sections.
    • Updated Artifact Traits and Relics sections.
  • 29 May 2018: Added an Arena Compositions section.
  • 22 Mar. 2018: Made several updates to the guide and its structure.
    • Added sections for Macros, Strengths, and Weaknesses.
    • Moved Gear, Artifact Traits, and Relics sections to the end, since they are not that important.
    • Updated recommended Tier 3 honor talent.
  • 24 Jan. 2018: No major changes needed for patch 7.3.5.
  • 05 Dec. 2017: No major changes needed for patch 7.3.2.
    • Updated "About The Author".
    • Replaced unnecessary "Blinks" with "Shimmer".
  • 18 Sep. 2017: Reviewed the guide for Patch 7.3 (no important changes needed)
    • Removed Artifact Trait descriptions.
    • Updated burst damage rotation.
  • 27 Jul. 2017: Updated description for the talent "Shimmer".
  • 12 Jul. 2017: Updated recommendation for Tier 3 and 4 honor talents.
  • 16 Apr. 2017: Guide added.
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