Mages are one of the most popular classes in World of Warcraft: Shadowlands in both player-versus-player (PvP) and player-versus-environment (PvE) encounters. While Fire is the more preferred specialization compared to Frost or Arcane, the other two are still good in certain encounters.
In PvP, Arcane Mages are one of the most mobile casters using their tools such as Shimmer, Alter Time, and Chrono Shift. In PvE, they provide a good mix of single-target and area-of-effect damage.
Here are the best Arcane Mage talents and build for PvP and PvE.
Arcane Mages are in a decent spot PvP-wise due to Poymorph, as well as their huge mobility and burst damage on a low cooldown. One great aspect of Arcane is that you can also spam Spellsteal to take over valuable buffs without fearing running out of mana.
The biggest weakness is that your damage, mobility, and crowd control is on the same magic school compared to Fire or Frost. If you get locked out of the Arcane school, you’ll be less useful for a couple of seconds since your fire or frost damage will be quite low. But due to the Slow ability, you should be able to keep distance from melee opponents and avoid getting interrupted.
Level 15: Amplification – This talent is the best since it directly increases your damage of your Arcane Missiles every time you Clearcast.
Level 25: Shimmer – The best PvP mobility talent, this allows you to two charges of Blink, which can be used to target enemies behind pillars while casting. A good example is casting Polymorph on a target behind a pillar, then using Shimmer to quickly reach the line of sight to land the Polymorph.
Level 30: Incanter’s Flow – This is a default talent which you should be running, increasing your damage while in combat by up to 20 percent before going down to four percent, cycling every 10 seconds.
Level 35: Resonance – This talent will increase the direct damage of your Arcane Barrage and should be your go-to talent most games. If you’re facing a Rogue or a Druid, which might try to go for restealths during the game, feel free to take Nether Tempest instead to prevent that from happening.
Level 40: Ring of Frost – This talent is taken to have something to do if you get locked out of Arcane. If the enemies use their kick on your Arcane school, you can cast a Ring of Frost and trap them in a zone until you’re able to cast with your main school again. You can also try to use a Frost Nova into Ring of Frost to land crowd control if the opposing healer has no Dispel.
Level 45: Arcane Orb – This is the best talent in the row, providing additional damage on a low cooldown. On top of that, it gives you back Arcane Charges every time it deals damage.
Level 50: Overpowered– This talent will make your burst windows threatening. It will give you more damage over your cooldown duration, but if you want to go for sustained damage, feel free to go for Enlightened instead.
Your stat priority is Haste > Versatility > Mastery > Critical Strike.
With the fast-paced arena meta, you need to able to cast your spells as quickly as possible, and having a lot of haste to do so is a requirement. Afterward, you want to prioritize Versatility for the additional damage and reduce damage taken. With the double PvP trinket bonus, Versatility is the best secondary stat after Haste. Mastery and Critical Strike are lower in priority, but if you have higher item level gear with these stats, feel free to use them instead. As for the Legendary item, you want to go for Triune Ward because it increases your survivability and eases the burden on the healer.
The optimal covenant for an Arcane Mage in PvP is Night Fae. It grants you the ability to have additional blinks via the Soulshape ability and Shifting Power reduces your cooldowns by 10 seconds on a minute cooldown. The biggest benefit of Night Fae is that Shifting Power is on the Nature school, allowing you to use it to force the enemy to use their interrupt, before you unleash your main school Arcane burst.
Soulshape in PvP should only be used if you’re out of blinks, save it for when you’ve made a mistake and the enemy caught up to you. Then activate it to blink to a safe area and get your cooldowns. Due to its high cooldown, you should avoid using it offensively, unless you get a guaranteed kill.
The three PvP talents you should use by default are Temporal Shield, Mass Invisibility, and Netherwind Armor. While the first two are required to improve your survivability and provide various ways to surprise your opponents, the third one can be exchanged to Arcane Empowerment or Kleptomania in some matchups where you know you’re not the target.
Mages in PvE provide a good source of damage, while also having the tools to deal with plenty of mechanics unharmed, such as Blink, Ice Block, Barrier, and Frost Nova. The explosive playstyle makes them perfect for encounters where you need as much damage as possible in a short timeframe. While providing less damage than Fire, Arcane Mages still have their spots in dungeons or raids.
The Shadowlands changes compared to the Battle for Azeroth expansion enhanced the turret playstyle of an Arcane Mage. The gameplay is mostly the same and while most dungeons or raids might prefer a Fire Mage, you should be able to find spots as an Arcane Mage as well if you good gear and mechanics.
Level 15: Rule of Threes – This talent helps you with your mana sustain, which you’re going to burn through quickly, especially during your burst phases. If you prefer to get additional damage, then Amplification is the talent to go.
Level 25: Shimmer – This is the best talent in the row, allowing you to cast Blink while casting another spell to avoid mechanics in dungeons or raids. If you want to help your healer more often with certain encounters, you can pick up Master of Time to return to your full health bar more often. If you need to move a lot in a dungeon, then go for Slipstream to be able to cast while moving.
Level 30: Incanter’s Flow – This is a default talent which you should be running, increasing your damage while in combat by up to 20 percent before going down to four percent, cycling every 10 seconds. If you want more on-demand burst, you can go for Rune of Power instead.
Level 35: Resonance – This talent will increase the direct damage of your Arcane Barrage and should be your go-to talent most games. If you want more damage on one or two targets, go for Arcane Echo instead. Nether Tempest shouldn’t be taken since it has less utility compared to the other two.
Level 40: Ice Ward – In both dungeons and raids, you’ll encounter mechanics where you need to stop some adds from advancing to a certain point. By having two charges on your nova, you can either save your group or give them enough time to kill the adds. If you need individual kiting potential, go for Chrono Shift.
Level 45: Arcane Orb – This is the best talent in the row, providing additional damage on a low cooldown. On top of that, it gives you back Arcane Charges every time it deals damage. In some rare situations, you might want to swap to Reverberate when you’re facing a lot of adds.
Level 50: Time Anomaly – This talent will help you control the pace of the fight, allowing you to gain a huge burst of haste whenever you want. It’s best for fights where you might need to burst down through certain mechanics, but if you don’t feel the need of it, you can go for Enlightened.
Your stat priority is Mastery > Critical Strike > Versatility> Haste.
Unlike PvP, in PvE you don’t need to stack up on Haste and Versatility. You benefit from all stats quite well, but Mastery is king in a PvE environment. It directly increases your Arcane damage on all targets, making this the biggest priority. Afterwards, you want to go for Critical Strike to have bigger numbers more often, which will increase your DPS. Temporal Warp is your go-to Legendary since it gives you a lot of haste, a stat which you won’t be focusing to gear up your character. Once you have it upgraded, you can go for Arcane Bombardment legendary to increase your damage to lower-health targets.
The optimal covenant for an Arcane Mage in PvE is Night Fae just like in PvP. It grants you the ability to have additional blinks via the Soulshape ability, and Shifting Power reduces your cooldowns by 10 seconds on a minute cooldown. You can get access to your core abilities more often, while also being able to avoid certain encounters where you need the ability to kite by spamming Soulshape.