Mage Madness – Arcane Explosion Edition

In my Mage Madness – The Basics post, I covered the basics for single-target dps.  Now it’s time to discuss AOE damage.  Trust me, it’s just as much fun as single-target.  It’s just a different button.  If you want to skip the text below, my message is: “Seriously, stop using Blizzard!  It’s so ICC.

Getting Started

The first step to amazing (ok, not hunter amazing, but still amazing) AOE damage is to find your Arcane Explosion button.   If it is not conveniently situated on your keyboard, re-bind your keys to make it easy to reach and easily to hit repeatedly.

Arcane Explosion – Causes an explosion of arcane magic around the caster, causing 331 to 357 Arcane damage to all targets within 10 yards.

Next, check your spec.  Make sure you have two points in Improved Arcane Explosion.

Improved Arcane Explosion – Reduces the global cooldown of your Arcane Explosion spell by 0.5 sec, reduces the threat generated by 80%, and reduces the mana cost by 50%.

Now make sure you have three points in Arcane Concentration.

Arcane Concentration – Gives you a 10% chance of entering a Clearcasting state after any damage spell hits a target.  The Clearcasting state reduces the mana cost of your next damage spell by 100%.

When to AOE vs Single Target

If you are faced with 1 (single) mob, then Single Target is obviously the answer.  If you came up with a different answer on this one, you might need to play a class that isn’t quite as complex as the Arcane Mage.

If you are faced with 2 or 3 mobs, then Single Target dps will likely also be the better option for you.

Once you are faced with 4 or more mobs, then AOE dps may be the better option.  I tend to continue with Single Target dps if the mobs aren’t dying at the same rate, causing the number to be reduced to 3 or fewer mobs quickly.  This is generally the case if you are in a group with other single-target classes.

The more mobs in the group, the more advantage you will gain from AOE dps.

Remember, if the tanks or raid leader aren’t expecting AOE dps, then stick with single target damage and follow the kill order. 

Play Style – The Basics

Step 0 – Resist the urge to make it snow

You can dream about snow flakes in your head, but don’t hit the Blizzard button.  It’s so old school now.  You can’t jump/run around while casting it;  the dps is much weaker if you aren’t Frost spec’ed; and the first mob you hit that that doesn’t have a lot of threat from the tank will likely come running your way.  Some people argue that Blizzard + Flamestrike is still pretty good dps, but Blizzard + Iceblock is really quite low.

Step 1 – Wait for it

One of the most wonderful aspects of our new favorite spell is that it has very low threat generation.  However, if no one has threat on the target, our little bit of threat will still get us killed.  To put it simply, don’t jump the gun.  Let the tank, Hunter or Mage using Blizzard get the attention of the mobs first.  This isn’t a long wait, just simply a brief hesitation to let someone hit the mobs first.  In the advanced section, we’ll cover what you can do with your time in this step.

Step 2 – Run in and go crazy

That’s right, go crazy.  Hit that button as hard and fast as you can.

Step 3 – Check your mana

Holy cow!  Full mana?  Seriously?  That’s right.  You get to go crazy and end up using almost no mana.

Step 4 – Check your Recount

You should see good results with little effort.  The higher the number of mobs, the more impressive the numbers.

Play Style – Advanced

Arcane Blast + Arcane Explosion

Stacks of Arcane Blast now also increase your Arcane Explosion damage.   Your best dps will result from maintaining a full stack of 4x Arcane Blast while spamming Arcane Explosion.

Four Stacks of Arcane Blast

I find this most necessary when fighting a raid boss and other adds show up around the raid and need to killed quickly.  An example of this would be the Molten Elementals that come out in Phase 2 of Ragnaros.  You can spam Arcane Blast on the boss to get your 4 stacks of Arcane Blast and then mix in 4x Arcane Explosion on the adds while keeping Rag targeted.  When the buff is about to wear off, cast Arcane Blast on the boss again then spam 4 more Arcane Explosions.  Repeat until the adds are down, then resume your single target rotation on the boss.

One Stack of Arcane Blast

You generally won’t have time to get 4 stacks of Arcane Blast before the mobs are dead in trash pulls.  Therefore, I use my “Wait for it” time to cast an initial Arcane Blast on the tanks initial target to build a stack of Arcane Blast before I go crazy with Arcane Explosion.  This gives other people an extra second or two to develop threat and gives me just enough of a boost to down the mobs a little faster and beat a couple other dps on the Recount chart.

Knowing Who is After You

The coolest thing I ever learned from my husband was Tidy Plates – Threat Plates.  When used in DPS mode, you can easily see which mobs favor you over other players.  This is absolutely critical when we throw ourselves into the pack of mobs.  When all of my name plates are green, I’m good to go and I can keep spamming Arcane explosion.  If one or more turns purple, then I might want to consider a survival tactic.

Survival Tactic #1 – Run away

Simply put, if the mobs are moving toward you, start running away, but keep spamming Arcane Explosion while you run (try casting Blizzard while running…doesn’t work).  You might just manage to kill the mobs while they are chasing you.  Obviously if other players have very targeted AOE on the mobs, you might not want to kite them around, but if you are in charge of killing them, you can keep damaging them while moving.

Survival Tactic #2 – Slow them down

We aren’t Frost spec’ed, so we don’t have tons of cool toys at our disposal, but we do have a couple of tricks we can still use.  Cone of Cold is a nice directional spell (no need to target anything) that will slow the mobs.  We can also use Ring of Frost (doesn’t always work in boss fights) to freeze the mobs for a bit.

Survival Tactic #3 – Disappear

Invisibility and Iceblock will still work in a pinch, but they don’t allow us to continue any dps.

Happy Raiding!


Mage Madness – Quick Fixes

Mage Madness – The Basics


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