Basic Resources and Preamble
This thread is a consolidated resource for Arcane mages. Please refer to:
- The Arcane Design Thread - for a higher level discussion around the design of the Arcane spec.
- The Cataclysm Mage Resources Thread - for information concerning basic numerical data (e.g. spell coefficients, combat ratings, profession perks etc) as they apply to all mages specs.
- Mana Made Simple - An Arcane mage strategic casting simulator. Useful in comparing various casting strategies and gaining statistical output of the viability and stability of rotations.
Core changes and New mechanics
There have been some significant changes to some core mechanics of Arcane, as well as the introduction of some new mechanics. A shortlist of some of the important ones can be found here (n.b. ignore the wowhead tooltips, the are out of date).
Arcane Blast no longer buffs the damage of all Arcane spells. Instead, it only buffs its own damage. The Arcane Blast stack still stacks to 4 and is still cleared with the casting of any other Arcane spell.
Arcane Missiles is now a proc. It has a static 40% chance to proc off of the cast of any spell. (including things like Slow Fall).
Furthermore, the base cast of Arcane Missiles now launches 3 volleys of missiles instead of 5. It can be brought back up to 5 through selecting certain Arcane talents.
Now has a 5 second cooldown.
Now returns 3% of your maximum mana (3.6% glyphed) every 5 seconds both in and out of combat. The use of Mage Armor is now critical to success with the Arcane Spec.
Evocation now instantly returns 15% of your mana on the first tick, and the extra 45% over 6 seconds (plus haste). This prevents the issue where an interrupted evocation can sometimes end up not returning any mana at all. It also allows for strategic use of evocation where you can purposefully interrupt the channel yet still get some mana back.
*New* Mana Adept
Mana Adept is the Arcane Spec's mastery mechanic, at zero mastery from gear, it reads:
Important: Please note, at zero mastery from gear an Arcane mage has 8 mastery points by default. Due to this, the formula to calculate the damage multiplier received by mastery is:
Increases all spell damage done by up to 12%, based on the amount of mana the Mage has unspent. Each point of Mastery increases damage done by up to an additional 1.5%.
Damage Multiplier from Mana Adept = 1 + ( (8 + (mastery points from gear) ) * 0.015 * %mana )where
%mana = current mana / max mana
e.g. For a mage with 4 mastery points from gear, his damage multiplier from Mana Adept at 50% mana will be:
Damage Multiplier from Mana Adept = 1 + ( ( 8 + 4 ) * 0.015 * 0.5 ) = 1 + (0.09) = 1.09 = 9% extra damage.
It is important to note, Mana Adept scales linearly with mana.
Arcane Playstyle and Optimal Strategies
Arcane's playstyle in Cataclysm (and 4.01) is significantly different enough from WoTLk to warrant explanation. Needless to say, you won't necessarily be casting ABx4 AM regardless for optimal success.
N.B. Untill shown otherwise, Mage Armor is now the de facto armor to be used with the Arcane spec.
The current leading theory describes the optimal Arcane casting strategy as consisting of 3 distinct phases. These are:
- The Burn Phase
Optimal Cycle: ABspam+
Usage requirements: All cooldowns popped (AP, Mana Gem), Evocation available.
Duration: 15 to 25 seconds (scales up with gear), however long it takes to get from 100% to 40% mana using the optimal cycle.
Explanation: The 'burn' phase is activated when all cooldowns are popped and evocation is available. Use ABspam to burn mana from 100% to ~40% mana.
- The Regen Phase
Optimal Cycle: - none -, use evocation or fight specific mechanic to bring mana back up to 100% as quickly as possible
Usage requirement: Successfully completed burn phase, evocation available.
Duration: 6 seconds
Explanation: This short phase must be used directly after a burn phase to bring your mana back up to near 100%. Arcane mages must strive to keep their mana as high as possible for as long as possible.
- The Conserve Phase
Optimal Cycle: ~variable~, whichever cycle is mana neutral in your gear. A 'mana neutral' cycle is defined as the highest DPS cycle with which you can maintain relatively the same mana % point for some extended period of time. This cycle, naturally, is totally defined by gear and will increase in AB usage as gear increases. e.g. For Cataclysm pre-heroic gear, this cycle was found to be AB2 ABr/AM.
Usage requirement: Whenever you are not 'burning' or 'regenning'.
Duration: as long as it takes for your cooldowns to come back up for another burn phase.
Explanation: This is the core phase for Arcane. Due to this, I will describe how you can optimize this phase in more detail below.
Further details into optimizing the "Conserve" Phase
The basic target of the "conserve" phase is to maintain your mana at or within a mana % range where you can use a mana gem to get back to near 100% mana by the time you need to start your next "Burn" phase. This will usually be around 85% mana in early gear, and hypothesized to be ~90%+ mana in higher gear levels. Details of what this % mana point will be will become clearer as we gain more data on what the gear in cataclysm will look like.
You will need to maintain this "conserve" rotation while you wait out your AP, Mana Gem, and Evocation cooldowns. When they are up, you will end the "conserve" phase and start the "burn".
The rotation for the "conserve" phase is totally dependent on your gear. Most level 80 4.01 mages will probably find that they can maintain the same level of mana using an ABx4+ AM rotation, due to level 80 stat inflation. The key is to find what the highest level of the AB stack you can use while maintaining a mana % point at or near 85%-100% mana (within 'gem range'). N.B. The link for the MMS simulator earlier in this post will help you find a mana neutral rotation, though it is tuned for level 85 Arcane mages.
You can further optimize your "conserve" phase by exploiting certain procs, mainly Clearcasting and Arcane Missiles.
If you know that a AB2 ABr/AM rotation is your mana neutral and you gain a clearcasting proc which makes your second AB 'free', you can shift to casting a third AB to squeeze some extra damage out for that particular cycle.
Similarly, if due to 'bad luck' (i.e. AM has not procced) you are being forced to make heavy use of ABr to break your AB2 stack, you can cast a few AB1 AMs (if AM has started proccing) to bring your mana back up to within the required range.
Optimizing the "Burn" phase
One of the things you will want to optimize during burn, is maximizing the number of AB4+ casts while being under the influence of both AP and Mana gem, and being at high mana.
Due to this, it is suggested that you actually start your burn phase at or near an AB4 cast, i.e. you pop your AP and gem to get back to 100% mana while already at an AB2/3 stack, so as to start the burn phase near 100% mana with AP and MG popped, casting AB4s.
Furthermore, optimal use of the Burn phase is also now directly related to fight mechanics. I.e. you will need to adjust both the "conserve" phase and "regen" phase in accordance to fight specific mechanics, e.g. synchronize a 'burn' phase to the point where a boss becomes vulnerable or to a point where you can successfully execute an evocation without interruption.
POM usage optimization:
No clear cut strategic use of POM has yet been found. Preliminary theories place its optimal use similar to how it was before (i.e. the last AB of a particular AB cycle). However, a new theory suggests POM can be also be used as a mana regeneration tool, due to its synergy with the Master of Elements talent. Investigation into the overall benefit of MoE is underway. I will update this post when the investigation is complete.
Mana gem usage optimization:
As explained earlier, Mana Gem is now optimally used strictly at the start of a "burn" phase. Unlike WoTLk, where it was used sometimes after an Evocation or during emergencies.
Unlike WoTLk, maximizing evocation usage (and through extension, maximizing the amount of times you can "burn") is now critical to Arcane's success. Evocation is now a core part of the new Arcane playstyle. Evocation usage optimization will happen on a fight by fight basis, depending on where you can successfully cast it without interruption.
N.B. an alternate theory suggests that a use of Evocation where the channel is interrupted after a few ticks (i.e. not letting it go for its full duration) could lead to better overall results due to minimizing the "regen" phase. This theory is, as of yet, untested and is being investigated. I will update this post with then investigation is complete.
Arcane Talent Builds (and glyphs)
A lot of the variability in Arcane talent builds will occur due to fight specific optimizations. Concerns such as:
- How important is pushback protection (Burning Soul)
- How pervasive is raid wide damage and/or how easily can magical based damage be exploited for spell power gains (Incanter's Absorption).
- How many and what kind of adds are present during the fight
- How important is movement and mobility during the fight
- What kind of spell interruption opportunities exist
That being said, there are talents that are core to all Arcane builds:
Core Arcane build:
3/3 Netherwind Presence
3/3 Torment the Weak
2/2 Improved Arcane missiles
2/2 Missile Barrage
1/1 Presence of Mind
2/2 Arcane Flows
1/1 Arcane Tactics
- <-- First decision point
2/2 Improved Blink ( for mobility ) or
2/2 Invocation ( if many opportunities to interrupt ) or
2/2 Incanter's Absorption ( if many opportunities exploit raid damage ) or
2/2 Improved Arcane exposion ( if ample safe aoe opportunity ) or
2/2 Improved Improved polymorph ( for add control and/or heroics )
place 1 point anywhere you wish
2/2 Arcane Potency
- <-- Second decision point
2/2 Nether Vortex ( if many untanked adds and/or adds that need to be controlled/slowed ) or
2/2 in any of the selections from decision point 1.
1/1 Focus Magic
2/2 Improved Mana gem
- <-- Third decision point
2 points in any talents that you wish
1/1 Arcane Power
2/2 Master of Elements (fire)
3/3 Piercing Ice
- <-- Fourth decision point
3/3 Burning soul ( importance of pushback protection ) or
5 points elsewhere.
- Good mobiity, Maximum Add control, Powerful AoE, No interruption benefits, 2/2 Incanters 2/3 burning soul
Talent Calculator - World of Warcraft
This will probably end up being my personal default build of choice. It works well both in raids and in solo/heroics. It has adequate pushback protection but gains no benefit from interruption heavy fights.
- Good mobility, Maximum survivability, Maximum pushback protection, 2/2 incanters, basic add control, weak AoE
Talent Calculator - World of Warcraft
A good build for a heavy raid wide damage fight. Eases some stress off the healers, ensures pushback protection, and allows the Arcane mage to leverage the raid wide damage for some extra damage where possible, while keeping him relatively mobile
As you can probably see by now, you have a lot of choice to tailor a specific talent build to leverage fight specific mechanics. The core talents as shown above must however be present in all.
A few quick comments on specific Arcane talents
Some talents are worth mentioning for ideas that may be missed on initial inspection.
With Mage Armor becoming the norm for Arcane, focus magic helps offset the crit loss of molten armor. Take note, no other spec other than Arcane can use this now.
The change to "next 2 spells with 15% crit" actually has a significant playstyle impact, since now you can try to optimize the use of the ArcPot proc since you now have an opportunity to "react" to it. e.g.. if you would normally be casting AB2 ABr, with an ArcPot proc on your first AB cast, you may want to squeeze in a third AB to leverage some extra DPS due to the proc (and not, say, waste the proc on something like an AM, which doesn't benefit fully from the proc anyway). The change to Arcane Potency allows for some finer level tuning of what you would be casting, to maximally use the proc.
Prime glyphs are pretty no-brainers (by design), the following 3 seem to be producing optimal results so far.
Arcane Barrage is an alternate possible to mage armor, but from most of the investigation conducted so far, the Mage Armor glyph seems to be providing more benefit over 5 min fights. We are still investigating this issue. Will update as needed.
You have some room to play with the Major glyphs. That being said, the following have been found to be pretty useful
Slow - currently, Nether Vortex is not applying the slow effect at 40 yards range (the range of AB), this could be a bug. The only way to get Nether Vortex to work at ABs max range is through this glyph. Making it somewhat mandatory for arcane.
Arcane Power - the off the gcd blink is useful, especially if you want a bit of extra mobility.
Invisibility - Because running around fast in the invisible realm is not only cool but pretty arcaney. It also helps with mobility during fights (especially now that Invisibility allows you to see everyone when invisible).
Many other possibles exist as well, e.g. evocation, which could work well with the "maximum survivability" build shown above.
The following 3 were found to be most useful, that being said, the selection here is totally up to you.
Stat equivalences, gems and consumables
The investigation of Arcane stat equivalences, optimal gems and consumables is, as of yet, incomplete. The next version of MMS is slated to contain stat equivalence calculations given a specific set of gear. Stay tuned for the results. I will update this thread when the investigation is complete.
Known Issues, possible Bugs
- Currently on live a great number of Mage glyphs are improperly classified, e.g. Arcane missiles is classified as a major and not a prime. This is a confirmed bug (please see here). The glyphs choices mentioned in this post are accurate.
- Arcane Missiles does not properly cast at its stated 40 yard range. The game allows you to cast the spell, but no missiles are fired. The proc is consumed and you recieve a series of "out of range" errors.
- Nether Vortex is not properly applying slow when casting AB at 40 yards. This can be fixed using the glyph of slow, but makes the glyph somewhat mandatory (not ideal since it is not a prime glyph).
- Master of Elements only returns 30% mana of an unstacked Arcane blast on AB crits, irrespective of what the stack size of the critting AB was.