Arcane Mage PvP Rotation and Playstyle (Dragonflight 10.0.7)

Last updated Today at 19:43 by Pherix 13 comments

PvP requires you to perform various actions in the course of a duel, match, or battleground: interrupting/silencing enemies, damaging them, bursting them down, defending yourself, keeping yourself alive, etc.. It is a game mode that fully utilizes your kit, especially spells that are rarely used in PvE. On this page, we go through all the spells you need to use in PvP as an Arcane Mage, how you should use them, and we explain what your playstyle should be.

This page is part of our Arcane Mage PvP Guide.


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. Don't forget to use Spellsteal Icon Spellsteal, as it is one of the biggest parts of controlling the enemy team. 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. Arcane Mages typically have good consistent damage even without their offensive cooldowns being up, so you will be able to provide consistent damage and pressure to the enemy team most times.
  • Arcane Mage is also typically categorized as one of the niche caster specializations, relying on outwitting the enemy with heavy crowd control and mobility. Having access to almost unlimited Spellsteal Icon Spellsteals, you are able to lock down and control how the enemy team plays.

For more information about team compositions, see our Arena compositions page for Arcane Mages.


Before Gates Open

Set a table for your team. Mage food actually restores health and Mana faster than normal food and water from vendors. Use Invisibility Icon Invisibility to guarantee your opener without any interruptions.

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. With the use of Greater Invisibility Icon Greater Invisibility and Invisibility Icon Invisibility, you often have ways to avoid crowd control or taking damage. Combined with Blink Icon Blink and Alter Time Icon Alter Time, the mobility as an Arcane Mage is unmatched by any other specialization. Talents like Chrono Shift Icon Chrono Shift also give high base movement making you a hard target to connect to. 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.


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. Also, if you are using the PvP talent Mass Invisibility Icon Mass Invisibility, you can cast while invisible, making it so enemies cannot see you, and cannot interrupt your Polymorph Icon Polymorph cast.


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 very little you can do (whereas, if your Polymorph Icon Polymorph was interrupted as a Frost Mage, you could still cast Frost-School abilities). Fortunately, Arcane Mages have received back Frostbolt Icon Frostbolt and Fire Blast Icon Fire Blast so you can at least cast an ability whilst you are locked out. However, 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.

Some of the most notable changes to Arcane Mages have come in Dragonflight, With the removal of Arcane Power Icon Arcane Power and the inclusion of Arcane Surge Icon Arcane Surge, the offensive cooldown rotation has changed drastically for Arcane.


Understanding Arcane Charges

Arcane Charges are a secondary resources that Arcane Mages that are consumed after using Arcane Barrage Icon Arcane Barrage. Understanding how to generate Arcane Charges is crucial to maximizing your damage. Here are the abilities that you can use to generate them:

  • Arcane Blast Icon Arcane Blast generates 1 Arcane Charge and is your primary damage dealing ability. Each time you use this, the damage and Mana cost increases, so you cannot use this ability too often. It will primarily be used when the enemy team is letting you cast spells.
  • Arcane Explosion Icon Arcane Explosion generates 1 Arcane Charge for each enemy that it hits. You should use this if the enemy team has pets or if they are stacked.
  • Arcane Orb Icon Arcane Orb generates 1 Arcane Charge for each enemy that it hits. Similar to Arcane Explosion, use this if the enemy team has pets or if they are stacked.
  • Touch of the Magi Icon Touch of the Magi generates 4 Arcane Charges and puts a DoT on the enemy that will explode for how much damage you dealt to them after 8 seconds. This will primarily be used in combination with Arcane Power Icon Arcane Power in your burst rotation.
  • Arcane Orb Icon Arcane Orb generates 1 Arcane Charge and an additional Arcane Charge for each enemy it hits in the line you cast it. This is a great charge gainer as it is only on a 20 second cooldown, you can use it often to gain charges quickly.
  • Arcanosphere Icon Arcanosphere is a new talent that Arcane Mages have obtained in Patch 9.1. This is a 4-second channel that does very heavy damage and can go through all pillars and walls. A correct setup of this ability makes Arcane very scary.

When you finally have 4 Arcane Charges, use them on Arcane Barrage Icon Arcane Barrage. You want to use it at 4 because it deals more damage based on each one used. It will also deal some of the damage to a nearby enemy.


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. Maintain Slow Icon Slow on your primary target, especially if they are a melee class.
  4. Use Spellsteal Icon Spellsteal to steal any important buffs the enemy player has.
  5. If the enemy team is letting you cast, use Arcane Missiles Icon Arcane Missiles.
  6. If the enemy team is focusing you, use Arcane Explosion Icon Arcane Explosion and Arcane Orb Icon Arcane Orb to generate Arcane Charges.
  7. Use Frost Nova Icon Frost Nova to get away from melee enemies.
  8. Use Arcane Barrage Icon Arcane Barrage at 4 Arcane Charges.
  9. When the healer is in crowd control, use your burst rotation.

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.


Sustained damage

After using your burst cooldowns, your job as an Arcane Mage is to help keep your team alive. Use abilities like Polymorph Icon Polymorph, Slow Icon Slow, and Frost Nova Icon Frost Nova to stop the enemy team's momentum.

  • Maintain Slow Icon Slow on your primary target, especially if they are a melee class. If you are using the talent Chrono Shift Icon Chrono Shift, you can also use that.
  • If you can cast, use Arcane Blast Icon Arcane Blast to generate Arcane Charges.
  • If you cannot cast or the team is stacked, use Arcane Explosion Icon Arcane Explosion or Arcane Orb Icon Arcane Orb to generate Arcane Charges.
  • Use Arcane Missiles Icon Arcane Missiles if you get a Clearcasting Icon Clearcasting proc.
  • Use Arcane Barrage Icon Arcane Barrage when you have 4 Arcane Charges.
  • Use Fire Blast Icon Fire Blast to kill totems if you are playing against a Shaman.
  • Use Frost Nova Icon Frost Nova if you need to root the enemies and help your teammates get away.
  • Use Polymorph Icon Polymorph to peel for your teammates and help keep your team alive.
  • Use Ring of Fire Icon Ring of Fire if talented to deal high sustained damage.

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


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 Arcane Mages have. Use this when you are being focused and when at high health. Once Temporal Shield expires, you will be healed for all the damage you took while it was active. It is important to use this right before a stun or right when the enemy team is using their burst cooldowns. Do not use it too late though, as if you are at low health, you will probably die before you are healed. Be aware this ability is also affected by dampening.

Alter Time Icon Alter Time may seem like a confusing ability at first, but it is really straightforward. The first time you press this ability, it remembers how much health you have and your location. The second time you press it, it will return to the same location with the exact health you had when you first pressed it. This should be used when you feel like you are about to take damage or about to be stunned.

Although Mirror Image Icon Mirror Image deals damage and slows enemies, it should primarily be used a defensive cooldown. While the images active, you take 20% less damage. Taking direct damage will break 1 of the 3 mirrors. If the images stay alive for the entire duration, you will get this damage reduction for 40 seconds! Use this when you do not have Alter Time and you see the enemy using their burst cooldowns.

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 and reducing the duration of harmful magic effects by 35%.

Blast Wave Icon Blast Wave returns in Dragonflight, allowing for Mages to receive a knockback. Use this when melee have connected you with heavy damage cooldowns or you need to kite and run. Talented into the Volatile Detonation Icon Volatile Detonation talent allows Blast Wave Icon Blast Wave to send enemies extremely far away and can even be used to knock off maps like Blade's Edge or Mugambala.

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.



It is advised to use Macros to use abilities on enemies or allies without having to target them. For this reason, we have a page dedicated to them.



  • 21 Mar. 2023: Updated for Patch 10.0.7.
  • 30 Jan. 2023: Reviewed for Patch 10.0.5.
  • 11 Dec. 2022: Updated for Dragonflight Season 1.
  • 22 Nov. 2022: Updated for Dragonflight Pre-patch.
  • 31 May 2022: Reviewed for Patch 9.2.5.
  • 28 Feb. 2022: Paged reviewed and approved for Patch 9.2.
  • 17 Nov. 2021: Page reviewed for Patch 9.1.5.
  • 04 Jul. 2021: Updated for Patch 9.1 of Shadowlands.
  • 19 Mar. 2021: Reviewed for Patch 9.0.5.
  • 18 Oct. 2020: Updated all damage rotation sections.
    • Updated Defensives section.
  • 11 Feb. 2020: Updated Burst and Sustained damage rotations.
  • 20 Jan. 2020: This page was checked for Patch 8.3 and no update was deemed necessary.
  • 26 Dec. 2019: Page added.
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