PVE Arcane Mage DPS Guide

PVE Arcane Mage DPS Guide WotLK 3.3.5a

Welcome to the most bursty class in Wrath of the Lich King. In this guide we will go over the Best Races for Horde and Alliance, Rotation, and the overall Best Professions, to make the best use of your resources. We will also cover Talents, Gems, Enchants, Consumables, and Glyphs to get you on your way to Burst Town!

Arcane Mages in Wrath of the Lich King

Generally referred to as the burstiest class in WoTLK, our damage scales better in the shorter fights, as it has the downside of consuming a ton of mana very quickly. Our main priority will always be to burst down mobs while providing crowd control through Polymorph and other powerful Mage CC effects.

Arcane Mages in TBC were very powerful, but many considered them to be somewhat boring — our damage “rotation” primarily consisted of mindlessly spamming Arcane Blast until our target died, or we ran out of mana and/or Innervates. Blizzard, thankfully, rectified this issue, as our rotation is significantly more dynamic now, with Arcane Missiles procs owing to our new Missile Barrage talent, and a new instant cast spell, Arcane Barrage, which allows us to keep doing some damage while moving.

It’s all sunshine and rainbows for us. However, we still have the massive weakness that we did back in TBC: in longer fights, we end up running out of mana and thus becoming unable to do damage. This causes us to fall off over time, as fights tend to get longer and longer with every phase. At the same time, our Fire specialization becomes stronger during each phase thanks to its incredible scaling, which leads many to view Arcane as a “temporary” spec you play until you get enough gear that you can switch to Fire. But, it can be a very fun spec to play regardless!

Arcane Mage Strengths & Weaknesses


  • Top-tier single target damage
    As arcane mages, we have the best early-level damage in the game, as our damage is based on how fast we can drain our mana bar (and, hopefully end with no mana left). To make things better — unlike those silly melee DPS types, we can do it all from a safe distance, which gives us a huge edge on some of these more melee-unfriendly fights.
  • Valuable crowd control
    Other classes hate Mages in PvP due to how powerful our crowd control is, with some really powerful spells like Polymorph and Counterspell. It turns out, those are a great asset to have on your team, helping your raid control dangerous monsters!
  • Good threat management
    Where other classes may occasionally struggle with threat, Arcane Mages don’t care about it at all. We have a permanent 40% threat reduction thanks to the Arcane Subtlety talent, as well as several ways to drop threat, such as Invisibility, should we need to do so.


  • Low to middle of the pack AoE damage
    While there’s no denying that our raw single target damage is amazing, our AoE and cleave damage, unfortunately, cannot keep up with the “big boys”. In fights with more than 1 target, you’ll usually do average to below average.
  • High loot competition
    Raids will typically have a lot of Mages, Warlocks, and Shadowpriests, as well as other casters — all competing against you for loot. As a result, it might be tough to get all of the items you need to perform at your strongest.
  • Glass cannon
    It turns out that we need all of those threat-management tools that we got, because we’re made of extra-fragile glass. Arcane Mages are the definition of glass cannon, dying to any stray ability that may happen to hit us, as we lack survival tools like Frost’s Ice Barrier.

Arcane Mage Utility

Besides their damage, Arcane Mages bring the following buffs and debuffs to a raid:

  • Focus Magic
    Mages of all specializations get access to this slightly peculiar reciprocal buff that allows us to boost another player’s spell crit chance by 3%. When the target of this ability crits with any attack, our own spell crit chance is increased by 3% for 10 seconds. Not a huge buff really, as it is limited to one player at a time, but a neat little boost nonetheless. Trade this buff with another Mage! They benefit from crit far more than Warlocks do.
  • 3% damage increase raid buff (does not stack)Arcane Empowerment
    Arcane Mages have this must-bring buff, which only Ret Paladins and BM Hunters can offer. Nobody invites BM Hunters to raids in Wrath, so it will be up to you or your raid’s Ret to make use of this invaluable buff — and, a lot of the time, you’ll be the one responsible for it in 10-man raids as well.
  • Intellect buff (does not stack)Arcane Intellect
    Since time immemorial, buffing another player’s Intellect stat has been the Mage’s domain. That doesn’t change in WotLK, as all Mages can still provide this handy buff. Warlocks can also offer this buff with their Felhunter pet but, thankfully, their version is significantly weaker than ours, so we don’t have to worry about being replaced!
  • Ritual of Refreshment
    There’s no telling how much gold you save your teammates by conjuring up food for them. Though this spell doesn’t really boost your raid’s DPS, your guildmates will absolutely love you for it.


We hope this guide has been able to help you decide if Arcane Mage is the class / spec for you. Make sure to check out our other sections, such as Talents, Gear, Gems, etc., to get more information on how to improve your performance as an Arcane Mage in WotLK!


About the Author


Hey guys! My name is Amery and here is a little something about me: I've been playing WoW for about 15 years now. With that experience, I wanted to share all the things I have learned over the years.
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1 year ago

Hey Amery! Thanks for your guide. I have a weird problem with my arcane mage since yesterday, maybe you can help me. It feels like my missiles get cancelled/interrupted midcast. I have all the nochanneling macros for AB and AM. What could that be? Thank you!

Reply to  Amery
1 year ago

Aaah! Good to know thank you so much. I was wondering because yesterday everything was fine. The feeling now is really weird, feels like something is broken. The macro you posted is the one I’m using already. So I just continue playing like always? Hope this will get fixed soon…

1 year ago

How about Orc Racial ? It gives Spell Power doesn’t it ?

Reply to  Amery
1 year ago

Yes i’m a fackin’ noob, i knew it

1 year ago

Do Casters in Wotlk still have a 1% inherent chance to miss the target?

Reply to  RagingTabor
1 year ago

always have 1% chance to miss even when hit capped

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