Arcane Mage Quick-Start Guide for WoW Patch 5.4 – Stats, talents and spec, glyphs, rotation, reforging and gems, and ability priorities

by on August 28, 2012

It is That Time, the time when the Gods – or GMs, at least – mess with our minds – and our ability rotations. Yep, the latest patch for Mists of Pandaria is here, WoW Patch 5.4. But don’t stress – if you want to get up and blasting away at Garrosh’s minions fast, this quick start guide will help you choose talents, get your reforging, gems and stat priorities right for this new world, pick the best glyphs, and figure out just what you should be casting when… Let’s get cracking!

Updated 17th September 2013 to World of Warcraft Patch 5.4

Arcane Mage Changes in WoW Patch 5.4

Our glyphs and talents have changed somewhat.

Arcane “Rotation” and Priorities

The Arcane rotation has been much simplified. We don’t have two phases any longer. Instead, we just concentrate on keeping our Bomb used as often as possible while maintaining our mana just below 100%.

Single-target DPS

  • Top Priority: Cast Arcane Missiles if it’s available and you’re at four stacks of Arcane Charge.
  • Second Priority: Cast Arcane Barrage if you’re at four stacks of Arcane Charge.
  • Third Priority: If Living Bomb isn’t active on your target, cast Living Bomb. If not, cast Arcane Blast.

You’re trying to maintain your mana as close as possible to 100% without hitting 100%. If your mana is dipping, cast Arcane Barrage at less stacks of Arcane Charge. If it’s capping, cast at more stacks of Arcane Charge.

Very Important – Make sure you’re using your Rune of Power properly. Recast whenever it has 1 second left and make sure to stand in it at all times.


Up to 4 enemies, keep Living Bomb on all of them and use your regular rotation on one of them.

At 4 or more enemies:

  • Top Priority Keep Nether Tempest up on as many enemies as possible
  • Second Priority Use your single-target rotation on one enemy.


Your big cooldown is Arcane Power, which you should use as often as you can – use any damage-increasing trinkets and potions at the same time. Ideally use it at 4 stacks of Arcane Charge.

Whilst it’s up, use your regular rotation, but use Arcane Barrage at 3 stacks of Arcane Charge if you’re dipping below 85% mana.

Other CDs:

  • Use Alter Time during Arcane Power if possible – it’ll give you another 6 seconds of Arcane Power.
  • Use Mirror Images on cooldown, unless there’s about to be a pause in the fight.
  • Cast Time Warp when your raid leader tells you to, or in a dungeon on boss fights.
  • Use Invisibility as a threat dropping ability.


Use Mage Armor, cast Arcane Brilliance, and remember to create a Mana Gem.

Arcane Mage Talent Choices

Mage 5.x talent choices are particularly flexible, and we heartily encourage you to experiment with them. However, for a quick-start setup of talents that’s simple to use, we recommend:

  • Tier 1: Ice Floes – DPS ability used whilst moving.
  • Tier 2: Ice Barrier – a solid cooldown to reduce damage to you.
  • Tier 3: Frostjaw
  • Tier 4: Greater Invisibility: makes your Invisibility spell also a major damage reduction cooldown.
  • Tier 5: Living Bomb
  • Tier 6: Rune of Power.

If you’re in an almost continuous movement fight, choose Incanter’s Ward for Tier 6 instead, but Rune of Power is much better for movement fights in Patch 5.4 than it was before.

In Tier 5, all three abilities are nearly perfectly balanced. They also all alter your rotation. If you chose a different Bomb ability:

  • Living Bomb: Re-cast it whenever it explodes.
  • Nether Tempest: Refresh it before its last tick. (NOTE – this is more complex and so is our least favourite choice here.)

Stats, reforging and gemming for Arcane Mage

Stat priorities for Arcane Mages are pretty simple in 5.4. Intellect is your most important stat, followed by Hit to the 15% Spell Hit Cap, then Mastery.

Reforging: Reforge to Hit until you hit 15% hit (5100 rating), then reforge to Mastery. Reforge from Hit above the cap, then Crit first.
Gems: Use Artful (Int/Mastery) gems in red sockets, Fractured (Mastery) gems in yellow sockets and Sensei’s (Mastery/Hit) gems in blue sockets.
Meta Gem: Burning meta gem of whatever type.
Note on Expertise: Expertise counts toward the Spell Hit Cap, so if you can’t reforge to Hit on an item, reforge to Expertise to hit the cap.

Arcane Mage Glyphs

5.0 Glyphs are very situational – you’ll probably end up using different ones for different fights – but here’s a good no-downside selection to start with:

Major: Glyph of Arcane Explosion, Glyph of Mana Gem, Glyph of Evocation
Minor: Glyph of Momentum, Glyph of Loose Mana, one other of your choice.

Arcane Mage enchants and item enhancements

You should almost always use a profession enhancement item if it provides appropriate stats instead of a general enchant.

  • Shoulders – Greater Crane Wing Inscription
  • Back – Enchant Cloak – Superior Intellect
  • Chest – Enchant Chest – Glorious Stats
  • Wrist – Enchant Bracer – Super Intellect
  • Hands – Enchant Gloves – Superior Mastery
  • Belt – Living Steel Belt Buckle
  • Legs – Greater Cerulean Spellthread
  • Feet – Enchant Boots – Pandaren’s Step
  • Weapon – Enchant Weapon – Jade Spirit
  • Off-Hand Weapon – Enchant Weapon – Major Intellect


If you want more details on your mana control or talent choices, here are a couple of solid links to check out:

  • Icy Veins started as a Mage guide, and their Arcane Mage guidance is top-notch.
  • Finally, as a WoW player, you should really check out the latest and greatest from the blogosphere on World of Warcraft, here at the Melting Pot.

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{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Luke Roberts October 5, 2012 at 6:12 pm

Its soooo [deleted - Editor] that wow took out arcane blast glyph and took speed away from blink they also took slow away from arcane blast it pisses me offf soooooooooooo bad give me back my perks damnittttt!!!!!


Luke Roberts October 5, 2012 at 6:13 pm

i want the okd arcane mage stufff back damniiitttt!!!!!!


Dan March 6, 2013 at 12:24 pm

I wouldn’t be surprised if this gets looked into further. Developers don’t like to test what they see on paper and their digits are dead wrong here. I’ve a veteran mage and have been through all the specs to many times to count since early 2008. This isn’t a nerf, it’s an execution. I don’t play long anymore, I can’t. Changing specs as much as they do is just wrong. I understand keeping things even but not changing things for no reason. Anyone here as old as me that played D&D as a lad? Imagine the DM changing things so many times? Or at all? Haha. I would’ve quit long ago. Anywho, there has to be a bug. Was 69k, best on the dummies no matter what is 47 (raid buffed). At least it takes my attention off my abused warrior for a bit.


Arioch March 7, 2013 at 6:02 am

I don’t know that I’m seeing *quite* that severe of a drop, but I did see myself drop from top 3 spots in LFR to struggling to stay above 7 or 8. I did get 3 gear upgrades the first night and I know I was low on hit until I reforged, but I wasn’t THAT low on hit.

Mana regen feels jerky now – in 5.1 it was smooth and I knew where my mana would be after casting a set of spells. Now it feels completely random and I can’t predict when I’ll be running low, forcing me to play more conservatively.


Canzar April 25, 2013 at 11:31 am

Its a debacle.Ive played my mage for seven years and he has never been as feeble.Its worse than what they did to paladins years ago.I cant raid anymore because my dps has dropped by about 35k. Ive worked at this char for years,and now there is absolutely zero percent opportunity of being top 5 dps in a 10 man raid.If your in a friendly guild, raiders might take you, otherwise, arcane mages are a liability and are currently a waste of a guild slot


Dan April 25, 2013 at 2:12 pm

Well, like I figured they would, they fixed it. I’m now pushing the dps I should be as arcane. Might want to check again. I’m rarely not top of the dps charts as arcane, but then again I’m geared better now. Now it’s time to switch and try fire though since I’m reforging away a ton of crit and could probably pull another 50k dps. Anywho, arcane is fixed and has been for about a month or more.


Canzar April 25, 2013 at 11:34 am

What makes it worse is the hourse spent vainly trawling the internet in an attempt to try and improve it.Its not possible.Anyone with this spec has been fucked over.The worst part for me,is guild leaders taking the piss out of your dps, when youve put just as much effort in as them, or anyone else, into researching the raid.Its like its the players responsibility, when its not.


Dan April 25, 2013 at 2:16 pm

Most guild “leaders” (cough), are so blind and only look at meters. They don’t look at the fact the mage did the fight correctly or if they were on kiting duty. Just look at what that does to fights when no dps should be on the boss for instance. People still do because they’re chasing the meters or their gm approval. I see bad gm’s all the time. Study your rotation and if the “leader” is a blind idiot, then seek a new guild and get away from the moron. If you’re on Dalaran I can help with your rotation. Our build though was fixed.


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