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Binkenstein’s Condensed Caster Compendium: Arcane Mage

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Welcome to the first of what will hopefully be many short & concise guides for PvE Casters. These guides will cover gearing & rotation basics, but won’t go into the sort of detail that results in gear or trinket lists.

This guide will cover Arcane Mages, who balance consuming more mana against a damage bonus based on how full their mana bar is.

Terminology
I will try to refrain from using abbreviations, but there are some terms that should be specified.

Unless otherwise mentioned, any reference to “stacks” refers to the number of charges of Arcane Charge.

Spells, Buffs & Passives
Alter Time Short duration cooldown
Arcane Barrage Charge consumer & cleave damage
Arcane Blast Basic damage spell
Arcane Charge One of three resources for Arcane Mages to manage
Arcane Missiles Zero cost damage spell, only castable when the Arcane Missiles! proc is up, consuming one stack per cast.
Evocation Mana restore ability. Can be modified by Tier 6 talents
Mage Armor The recommended armor spell for Arcane, increasing mastery by 3000
Mastery: Mana Adept Increases damage up to 16% (plus 1% per 300 mastery) based on current mana levels.
Nether Attunement Increases mana regen based on haste.
Slow Reduces target movement speed, and increases cast time by 50%

Stats & Gearing
Note: These are some rough numbers taken from Simulationcraft, using the T14H profile. Your individual stat ways may be different.
  • Intellect: 4.6
  • Spell Power: 3.7
  • Crit Rating: 2.0
  • Haste Rating: 2.4
  • Hit Rating: 3.2
  • Mastery Rating: 2.4
The priority goes as follows: Intellect > Spellpower > Hit > Mastery = Haste > Crit. Ideally Haste & Mastery should be treated the same when it comes to evaluating gear, but for gems, enchants, etc choose Mastery over Haste.

Single Target Rotation
  1. Arcane Missiles IF Arcane Missiles! = 2 AND Arcane Charge <5
  2. Nether Tempest (or Mage Bomb of your choice)
  3. Arcane Missiles IF Arcane Missiles! > 0 AND Arcane Charge = 6
  4. Mana Gem IF Mana < 83%
  5. Arcane Barrage IF Mana < 83%
  6. Arcane Blast
There are two reasons why Arcane Missiles is used when under 5 Arcane Charges with two stacks of Arcane Missiles!: there is a 30% chance that another Arcane Missiles buff will be generated on the last Arcane Blast, and using Arcane Missiles before 6 stacks allows for more mana to be restored, improving both your Mastery: Mana Adept bonus and how long you can continue to cast Arcane Blast while at 6 stacks before using Arcane Barrage . This results in a ~2% DPS increase over saving all Arcane Missiles! buffs for use at 6 stacks.

Multi Target Rotation (2-4 targets)
The goal here is to get as many Arcane Barrages cast as possible, which means never saving Arcane Missiles! buffs. Since it casts copies of the spell at additional targets for 50% damage, you only need to get a charge stack one less than the number of targets.

AoE Rotation
Most of your damage here will come from Arcane Explosion, which has a 30% chance to generate an Arcane Charge. We can use Arcane Missiles to speed up the charge acquisition, and thus Arcane Barrage use, increasing overall damage.

Note: The AoE damage from Nether Tempest & Living Bomb is less than Arcane Explosion, which keeps these two spells for single target & cleave damage only. Frost Bomb deals more (which is offset by the cooldown), but don’t use Fire Blast to trigger the explosion early.

Mobile DPS
There are few options for Arcane when it comes to mobile DPS. The important thing is to minimise time spent moving.
Cooldowns
Arcane Power Use prior to activating Alter Time, or when Arcane Charge >3. Can be glyphed to double the duration & cooldown. This will increase the mana drain when it is up but with proper use it will be available to sync with Alter Time without the glyph.

Alter Time: use if Arcane Missiles! =2 AND Arcane Charge = 6.
It is important to avoid casting Arcane Barrage just after Alter Time expires. To this end, it may be useful cancelling Alter Time early to cast the second pair of Arcane Missiles.

Mirror Image: use on cooldown.
Is not affected by damage buffs, but uses the casters character sheet for stats which means that temporary stat buffs like potions & trinkets will affect it.

Talents
Tier 1-4
The talents taken for these tiers are largely dependant on personal choices and particular encounter requirements.

Tier 5: Mage Bombs - Living Bomb vs Nether Tempest
While Living Bomb has a slightly higher DPET (damage per execute time), Nether Tempest is the better option to take as it results in higher DPS overall. This is because both spells cost the same mana, but with Living Bomb having a 1 second GCD, it consumes mana faster.

Tier 6: Evocation Modifiers
Invocation & Rune of Power are the two possible choices for this tier. Note Invocation is being modified slightly in 5.2, but this should not change the recommendations.

5.1 Invocation lowers the Evocation cooldown to 10 seconds but halves your passive regen. Each completed Evocation gives you a 25% damage buff for 40 seconds.

5.2 Invocation removes the Evocation cooldown & halves the channelling time. Each completed Evocation gives you a 15% damage buff for 1 minute, during which your passive mana regen is halved.

Rune of Power goes completely to passive regen, removing Evocation completely and replacing it with a castable Rune which lasts for one minute. When you stand in it, you gain 15% damage and your mana regen is increased by 75%. Mana management with Rune of Power is all about using Arcane Barrage to clear your Arcane Charge stack. This allows for the passive regen to refill your mana, as it is greater than your mana consumption with 0-2 stacks of Arcane Charge.

Invocation heads in the other direction, pushing mostly towards active regen. This means you need to balance your mana burn with the time spent casting Evocation, especially as a full cast is required for the damage buff.

Of the two I would recommend Rune of Power, especially as your Mastery levels increase, as it keeps your mana levels higher, and thusly keeps your Mastery: Mana Adept bonus higher.

Major Glyphs
Glyph of Arcane Explosion Only useful for AoE situations where the targets are loosely stacked in an area more than 20 yards across. Situational
Glyph of Arcane Power Doubles cooldown & duration. Only useful to sync with Alter Time, but it should sync anyway if you use it on time. Optional
Glyph of Evocation Adds health regen to Evocation and Rune of Power. Recommended
Glyph of Mana Gem Increases Mana Gem from 3 to 10 charges. Useful both for fights longer than 6 minutes. Recommended
Glyph of Polymorph Handy for crowd control situations where your target may be affected by DoTs. Optional
Glyph of Slow Mostly useful when solo. Optional

Minor Glyphs
Glyph of Discreet Magic Useful for reducing the chance other targets will be hit by Arcane Barrage or Nether Tempest Optional
Glyph of Loose Mana Reduces the chance for losing mana when using Gems. Also means they can be used sooner. Recommended

Technical Bits
Nether Attunement
Nether Attunement increases your regen by your haste value, eg: 15% haste = 1.15 multiplier. This applies to passive regen (which has a base of 15,000 every 5 seconds), Evocation and Mana Gem.

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Comments

  1. Unregistered's Avatar
    FYI, Living Bomb will still explode if refreshed in the last 3 seconds.
  2. Rashijin's Avatar
    Hello Bink!

    First of all, thanks a lot for your effort on preparing guides for other classes. I used to follow very close this website when I was raiding as elemental during Cataclysm, I really like your theoretical approach to what DPSing and raiding should be meant.

    This exp I have switched to mage, and I have found arcane the spec I am more willing to play.

    Regarding your guide, for current patch 5.1 it is considered as a DPS increase to keep on 6 stacks and over 85% mana at all times via scorch (now it costs 0,1% mana, will be increased on 5.2), when no procs of AM are available. This playstyle favours mastery over haste, and RoP over Invocation, and Mage Armor over Frost Armor.

    In the AOE section, I think Flamestrike should be included when having a pack of 5+ mobs stacked.

    Regarding cooldowns, also is important to use a Mana Gem prior Alter Time, to have the benefit from it, as well. Actually, you should be casting ABarr just right before the countdown of AT expires (if necessary cancelling 1 tick of the channeling of AM, as the DPET of ABarr is 2x), as it will revert to the initial 6 stacks situation.

    Nice work, is great to have your theorycrafting for mages, please keep on maintaning this arcane guide!
  3. Binkenstein's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Rashijin
    Hello Bink!

    First of all, thanks a lot for your effort on preparing guides for other classes. I used to follow very close this website when I was raiding as elemental during Cataclysm, I really like your theoretical approach to what DPSing and raiding should be meant.

    This exp I have switched to mage, and I have found arcane the spec I am more willing to play.

    Regarding your guide, for current patch 5.1 it is considered as a DPS increase to keep on 6 stacks and over 85% mana at all times via scorch (now it costs 0,1% mana, will be increased on 5.2), when no procs of AM are available. This playstyle favours mastery over haste, and RoP over Invocation, and Mage Armor over Frost Armor.

    In the AOE section, I think Flamestrike should be included when having a pack of 5+ mobs stacked.

    Regarding cooldowns, also is important to use a Mana Gem prior Alter Time, to have the benefit from it, as well. Actually, you should be casting ABarr just right before the countdown of AT expires (if necessary cancelling 1 tick of the channeling of AM, as the DPET of ABarr is 2x), as it will revert to the initial 6 stacks situation.

    Nice work, is great to have your theorycrafting for mages, please keep on maintaning this arcane guide!
    Yes, I know of the current scorch weaving technique, but as it's getting nerfed in 5.2 I chose to ignore it.

    Flamestrike deals less damage vs time cast than Arcane Explosion.

    Mana Gem should only be used before Alter Time if you don't have Loose Mana, and in any case you'll generally go Arcane Power -> Alter Time, so it'll be better to save Mana Gem for after Alter Time to get the most out of AP.
  4. Rashijin's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Binkenstein
    Yes, I know of the current scorch weaving technique, but as it's getting nerfed in 5.2 I chose to ignore it.

    Flamestrike deals less damage vs time cast than Arcane Explosion.

    Mana Gem should only be used before Alter Time if you don't have Loose Mana, and in any case you'll generally go Arcane Power -> Alter Time, so it'll be better to save Mana Gem for after Alter Time to get the most out of AP.
    Thanks a lot for the advice, I´m still learning the spec.

    Btw, do you know if the mechanichs of Mirror Images works similar than FET´s? I´m not sure if it can also scaletes with haste. With the glyph, can they also add additional charges?

    I know its damage is fairly low compared with it, but still is a DPS cooldown.
  5. Binkenstein's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Rashijin
    Thanks a lot for the advice, I´m still learning the spec.

    Btw, do you know if the mechanichs of Mirror Images works similar than FET´s? I´m not sure if it can also scaletes with haste. With the glyph, can they also add additional charges?

    I know its damage is fairly low compared with it, but still is a DPS cooldown.
    Mirror image is a "owners current stats" system, like FET is now. The old FET snapshot was a product of it being a pet of the totem, rather than the player.
  6. Slatch's Avatar
    I find your Condensed Compendiums amazingly efficient to read and have a good grasp of a spec. In Cata I either knew a spec or had a competent raider fill a role so as a raid leader I didn't need to nit-pick a player/spec. Unfortunately I have a reduced skill player base in MoP and I'm finding myself having to learn nearly every spec just to fix basic errors my raiders are making. Thanks for these great guides!
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