It's here, at last. Finally done, now I can enjoy a guilt free cup of tea without perpetually thinking that I should be doing something important :P
The aim of this guide isn't just to suggest to you the talents, enchants and gems you should be taking but also hopefully impart a little bit of knowledge so that you know why you are taking them. I certainly know that in my guild it's not just expected for you to take a good spec and gear appropriately, you will be expected to demonstrate that you know why you have picked those enchants as it shows you have an understanding of your class and spec mechanics. It's all too easy to say "I chose this cos teh interwebz told me to" but in most progression guilds they're going to see an understanding of your class mechanics as a sign of a competent and reliable playing who is going to be able to progress with the raid content and new patches/tier sets.
Next up will probably be Fire Mage PvE and Vidyala from the awesome Manalicious has kindly granted me permission to use her rotation flowchart and other pearls of wisdom that she has. Manalicious is always on my read list and if you guys haven't seen Vid's awesome stuff then I suggest you go look, she's one of the coolest bloggers I know.
Introduction: Why Go Arcane?
The Arcane Mage is unique amongst all other DPS classes, and that includes other mages. It is the only DPS'er where the amount of damage you do is directly related to how much of a ability resource (mana) you have, rather than just being limited by it (ie. you can't deal damage when you run out of it).
Arcane mages are very very good single target DPS'ers and are currently the top mage spec for DPS in Firelands according to World of Logs. However, despite an early very strong showing in Firelands they have been overtaken somewhat by a number of other classes in particular Moonkin Druids. I would hasten to add that World of Logs is entirely representative of the people who choose to upload and therefore only represent a sample portion of the total number of people playing certain specs and what their results are. Arcane Mages remain a very strong DPS spec and, with all things such as gear being equal, you can usually expect to be among the top DPS'ers in your raid group.
Arcane Mages excel at stationary fights which allow them the opportunity to complete their rotations which have relatively long cast times compared to other Mage specs, they lack the same ability of Frost and Fire Mages to maintain a consistent level (or high level in the case of Fire Mages) of DPS when forced to move. They are also weak in fights involving significant AoE and should not be used to deal with groups of adds in boss fights. However, they're very effective at dealing with single adds that must be burnt down quickly.
Arcane Mages bring a good variety of utility to Raid Groups when talented correctly. Obviously they have Arcane Brilliance, Mage Tables and Time Warp which all mages can bring but in addition talents allow them the Arcane Tactics passive buff which increases the damage of all nearby raid members by 3% and the Focus Magic active buff which will increase a single raid member's crit by 3% and periodically granting a proc which also increases your crit by 3%.
Arcane Mages are also relatively simple to play but allow for much greater complexity once you understand the spec more through experience. The basic Arcane Mage rotation requires as little as three buttons allowing for relatively simple play with good DPS results. However, this belies the actual complicated nature of an Arcane Mage. Instead of viewing the Arcane Mage as having abilities that deal damage, they are better understood as having a resource they are constantly manipulating in order to do damage.
Every other DPS class/spec in the game is more or less a sprinter that is going to blow everything they can as fast as they can as often as they can. The Arcane Mage is a marathon runner who wouldn't last past the first minute of a raid encounter if it was fought with the mentality of every other DPS class.
Additionally, at higher end play you can significantly improve your damage output through careful theorycrafting (or by reading other peoples' theorycrafting), gear, enchant and reforging selections and by refining your rotation specific to individual boss fights.
The ongoing joke is that Arcane Mages have only one button to be pressed in every boss fight, but don't be fooled by others' misconceptions! There is a great deal of depth to the Arcane Mage IF you bother to look into it and research. The rotation is not hard at all but the finer points of mana management and gear optimisation can be extremely challenging. However, even if you don't want to go through the extra effort or you're a beginner looking to start out in the PvE scene you can still perform reasonably well with the basics (and one button lol).
To see the rest of the guide, clicky clicky the title or the Read More button