Arcane Mage Playstyle and Rotation Guide

Patch 10.2 Last Updated: 30th Oct, 2023
Tamir Arcane Mage Author

Playstyle & Rotation

The Arcane Mage rotation and gameplay changes when you get the new 4-set bonus from the Tier Set. As such, I will outline both in this section of the guide.

General Rotation (Patch 10.2):

Going forward with Arcane for 10.2 we will go back to our old 10.0 DF rotation and I will give a small breakdown for the reasoning behind it in this section.

Since we’re losing our 10.1 tier set from Aberrus, our rotation hasn't changed by a lot, only our CD usage with Arcane Surge, Radiant Spark, and Touch of the Magi. Losing the 4p from Aberrus, we won’t have the mana regeneration, which means we cannot use Arcane Surge on pull like we used to do in 10.1.

The general idea of the opener will remain the same, but the order for Arcane Surge, Radiant Spark, and Touch of the Magi has changed.

I will break the opener down in the following steps:

  1. 15 seconds before the pull, start fishing for Arcane Missiles procs by using Arcane Explosions, or Frost Nova;
  2. At 5 seconds before the pull start channelling Evocation for Siphon Storm;
  3. At 1 second before the pull, pre pot and precast Arcane Blast Followed by Arcane Orb and Nether Tempest (can’t be prepull since you will lose the Arcane Charges);
  4. Spam Arcane Blast until 70%;
  5. Cast Radiant Spark followed by 3x Arcane Blasts;
  6. At 3 Stacks of Radiant Spark refresh Nether Tempest is needed and Cast Arcane Surge;
  7. Cast another Arcane Blast to reach 4 stacks of Radiant Spark and follow up with Touch of the Magi and Arcane Barrage (like we did on 10.1). That will make sure that our last hit of Arcane Blast is inside the Arcane Surge and 4th stack of Radiant Spark window.

(The following was written before the patch so it’s subject to change!)

The sims have shown with the new 10.2 tier set and our damage will be a bit less front loaded. It is a DPS gain to go back to the old rotation inside our burn and mini burn windows since we lean less on Arcane Blast damage now with the new tier set losing spell power from Arcane Surge buff, so we want to make our Touch of the Magi and Radiant Spark window as strong as possible.

Arcane Mages has something we refer to as a "setup." You can read more about it further down the page. However, the "setup" is why we want to delay our Arcane Surge roughly 10 seconds into the pull.

Please consider this when approaching a raid boss, for example, if the raid leader says we need to have CDs ready 2 minutes into the fight to make a DPS check or burst down an add.

Shifting Power usage is a bit freer. This means we can use it anytime we want AFTER we've used spells like Surge / Rune / Spark / Touch (Ideally all together) to get the cooldown recovery for everything.


The idea behind the setup is to have a huge intellect buff from Siphon Storm + Arcane Surge and then dump it into our biggest hitters, such as Arcane Barrage with Arcane Harmony. It’s all about how many Intellect modifiers + Arcane Barrage modifiers we can fit in to make our burst as big as possible.

Now that we understand our setup well, you can read more about the opener below.

Multi Target

The arcane multi-target rotation inside both burn phases is generally the same because most of our AoE damage will come from the Touch of the Magi splash, Arcane Surge, Nether Tempest, and our Arcane Barrage Cleave.

With the introduction of the new Arcane Orb talent from the mage rework, the Arcane mage Aoe Rotation has become very simple and straightforward. We want to emphasize our gameplay on as many Arcane Barrage Arcane Orbs procs as much as possible. In order to achieve that we will always dump Arcane Charges at 4 with Arcane Barrage since we have 40% chance to proc a free Arcane Orb. With a bit of luck we can enter that Barrage > Orb > Barrage > Orb Barrage > Orb loop and it’s not only extremely satisfying, it’s also very strong.

10.1 Arcane Gameplay

I want to take a moment and explain the gameplay and rotation with our new tier set from 10.1 because the gameplay and opener changes quite a bit.

I won’t go into too much theory crafting and bombard you with irrelevant information. However, I do want to try and explain it the best way possible, so bare with me.

With the 10.1 Mage tuning and buffs that Arcane Blast received (see introduction section) we want to emphasize more on the Arcane Blast gameplay. That’s also the reason why we kind of shift away from arcane harmony, with Conjure Mana Gem being a choice, since we don’t really rely on harmony stacks anymore.

With that being said, after we understand that arcane blast has higher priority than arcane missiles, especially during Arcane Surge, we will use a technique called “ Clipping “. Which essentially means that during the Arcane Missiles cast (especially during arcane surge) we will not wait for the cast to finish, but we will queue another arcane blast during the arcane missiles channel. By doing so, we “Clip” the cast with another arcane blast queued; we do this because arcane blast is our highest hitting ability and has higher priority over everything else.

That being said, we still want to cast arcane missiles from time to time, for 2 reasons:

  • To fish for Nether Precision Procs
  • To make sure we are not spending too much mana

Another thing that changes is we are no longer using 4x Arcane Blast into Touch Barrage. The reason for it is, as mentioned above, that we rely more on our arcane blast damage. So, every time radiant spark and touch of the magi are available to us, we want to cast radiant spark and immediately touch barrage, then build our stacks for radiant spark inside the radiant spark and touch of the magi window (since arcane blast is our biggest contribution towards the touch of the magi window + buffed from our radiant spark).

With our new 4p, Arcane Blast hits extremely hard with all of the damage modifiers from rune of power, radiant spark, arcane surge and the buff we get after using Arcane Surge from our tier set.

That's the main reason why Arcane Blast is our best friend and we are basically giving Arcane Blast priority over everything else.

I will keep a full breakdown of the 10.1 Arcane Mage Gameplay in case you come back later in the patch and don’t have access to the new 10.2 tier set yet.

10.1 Opener With Tier Set

  1. Start to fish for clearcasting procs at 10 seconds on the pull count by using arcane explosion
  2. Use evocation at 4 seconds before the pull
  3. At 0, cast arcane blast
  4. Cast arcane orb (you should be at 4 arcane charges at this point)
  5. Cast radiant spark
  6. Use Potion, any trinket available to you, racials and cast Arcane Surge and Mana Gem, followed by Nether Tempest.
  7. Cast touch of the magi, followed by arcane barrage (you should be at 4 charges again from touch of the magi)
  8. Cast arcane blast during the Arcane Surge window, while not overcapping clearcasting procs. But remember to cancel missiles procs during the arcane surge window, especially with nether precision procs (refer to the clipping technique)
  9. Cast rune of power again (after the rune of power from arcane surge fades)
  10. Continue to cast arcane blast for as long as you have the buff from our tier set
  11. Continue to fill with arcane blast, arcane missiles and arcane orb
  12. Use arcane barrage if you are dropping below 60% mana after arcane surge fades
  13. Apply nether tempest if it drops from the boss

10.1 Mini Burn with Tier Set

For our Mini Burn phase, not much has changed from our opener.

Generally speaking, with the loss of rune of power the mini-burn phase became significantly easier now that you don’t have to think about syncing or de-syncing Rune of Power with touch of the magi and radiant spark.

Now, as soon as touch of the magi and radiant spark are ready outside of Arcane Surge, you just press them to get them on CD.

That means that outside of Arcane Surge, you will always get a use of touch of the magi and radiant spark, assuming you will press shifting power at a logical time after Arcane Surge fades.

10.1 Mini Burn Rotation:

  1. Cast radiant spark and nether tempest
  2. Cast touch of the magi followed by arcane barrage to make sure our Arcane Barrage is going to hit the target with Touch of the Magi applied to it and continue to build Radiant Spark stacks inside the Touch of the Magi window
  3. Continue with filler rotation, cast Arcane Blast with Nether Precision, don’t over-cap Arcane Missiles procs, use Arcane Orb below 2 arcane charges, and use Arcane Barrage if you struggle with mana at 4 charges.

I made a video of me performing the opener with the new tier set into the mini-burn, so it can help you to understand it a little bit more.

I’d recommend using an addon called DeleteManaGem. It makes it so you can easily delete and create new mana gems during the fight while using a macro. Check the addon description for more information. Full credit to Dorovon from Alter Time Discord.

Defensive Usage

As an Arcane Mage you have excellent survivability and mobility at your disposal with Slipstream, Mirror Images, Alter Time, 2x Shimmer, Ice Block, Greater Invis (which also increases your movement speed if talented), and Prismatic Barrier. You also have our new talent, Mass Barrier.

Rotating our defensives properly can significantly increase our chance of living through high sources of incoming damage!

Note: Don’t be afraid to be aggressive with your defensive cooldowns since shifting power reduces all our CDs by 10 Seconds, while on 1 minute CD.

For example, using Ice block, then shifting power on CD every time it’s available will bring Ice Block to roughly a 3 minutes CD instead of 4 minutes.

I will provide a picture of my UI, which is a combination of Elvui and Weakauras incase you are interested.