I've been somewhat interested in trying a full arcane build that is able to primary nuke with Missiles and/or Blast since BC was released, but I have yet to see or hear of any way to make one truly workable. The best I've seen are builds that alternate fireballs/missiles.
Has anyone successfully made such a build? The only things I could think of that would be really required gear-wise are either a huge mana pool (unorthodox and probably very debilitating to overall DPS) or amassing tons of mp/5 gear.
I'm also curious to see if anyone has done a comparison on gear to determine at what point the mp/5 needed to fix the longevity issues arcane build would overshadow the pure dps provided by such a spec.
Just a couple things I was pondering, and as someone who's not terribly mathematical unless a formula is given to me, I come here humbly asking for some assistance.
It breaks down when you try to use Arcane Missiles. The spell just doesn't work as efficiently as Fireball, Scorch, or Frostbolt. The restrictions on movement, range, and lengthy cast time just don't work in any realistic setting.
There's a massive thread about this, TBC Mage Theorycrafting.
Step 1: Get Mark of Defiance
Step 2: Get a shadow Priest in your group
Step 3: Get Paladin to judge wisdom
Step 4: Alternate Arcane Missiles/Arcane Blast
Step 5: Chug a lot of mana potions
My alt mage is specced full arcane with around 1100 arcane damage, and it works well for what I use him for - namely farming heroics. But in the few raids I brought him to, I did have serious mana issues (especially since we didn't have any level 70 paladins at the time).
If you can balance the mana bleeding though, I'd guesstimate that a geared out end game arcane mage in an ideal group setup could push upwards of 1200-1300 dps. Much like an affliction lock, you have to gear primarly towards spell damage, due to the way arcane missiles scales, the lower critical damage bonus, and the innate crit chance bonus that you get with clearcasting procs.
The only interesting thing about arcane missiles is that any of those "chance on crit" or "chance on hit" (not chance on cast) trinkets/effects will proc way more often with arcane missiles. Eventually I'll do a parse on this to compare some items. Could be interesting I suppose.
Oh and, arcane missiles has a tendency to give you spirit ticks, especially if you proc clearcast... hello spirit regen.
Raiding is full of challenge. Sometimes there is fire. You have to not be in the fire.
AM really is not a bad spell if and only if you have JoW on all the time and trinkets/effects that take advantage of the 1/s nature of the spell. The issue of course is that to do reasonable dps you need it fully supported and at that point it is nasty, nasty mps consumption. The secondary issues are naturally that finding a reliable cycle doesn't work well (AB/AB/AM/???/profit) and that our gear tends to have too much hit to optimize the whole spec. It doesn't help that clearcasting is developed in such a way that making decisions based on a clearcast is almost always a huge uptime (and hence dps) issue.
I'm still intrigued by the mythical pure arcane build but until I get frustrated and respec for a specific fight, I just don't see the point.
There are certainly some cool things about an Arcane Build...the issue really is if they pan out in the long-run. I'd be inclined to say no, but who knows how it will go in the future.
The pro's to an AM build have been noted, but to sum up:
1) Takes advantage of Clearcasting rather well, especially with Arcane Potency multi-crits during a Clearcast-proccing AM.
2) Very low threat due to Arcane Subtley
3) Arcane Blast can be very good (has to be mentioned, since you can't rely on AM alone)
4) Get to take full advantage of Arcane Focus and don't need to gear +Hit as much
5) Has a lot of regen synergy with Meditation/Clearcasting/AM while Clearcasting
The con's being:
1) Can be extremely mana-hungry, and cause serious difficulties if the situation isn't perfect (Shadow Priest/JoW/etc.)
2) Being limited to 30 yard range can be a handicap on many encounters, as is being rooted in place while casting
3) AB/AM cycles can be easily inturrupted due to timing issues if you have to move or the mob goes OOR
4) Paying mana upfront means a lot of lost mana if you have to move due to environmental effects, get counterspelled, knockbacked, or otherwise inturrupted.
5) Most of our high-end gear isn't itemized for Spirit very intelligently, so it's hard to take advantage of the regen synergy at times
For my own part, I tried an AM build some time ago...and after a week or so, I felt like it was more or less wasted and spec'd into an Arcane/Frost build. I was a bit happier with that, and felt I did more DPS than trying to use Arcane Missiles. (Nowadays I'm Fire, and don't regret going there at all.)
Although Blizzard stated they wanted Arcane to be the "highest DPS" build, realistically Fire scales a lot better at the high end and does more DPS in general. Arcane can be fun though, so my advice would be to just try out a couple solid specs and see which fits your playstyle the best.
Let me explain to you guys how arcane specc is handled in 25 man raids,not heroics and karazhan cos there bosses die way faster and the mana issues do not apply.
The cycle you must do is Arcane blast/arcaneblast/arcane blast/AM/scortch.
For this full arcane specc to work best u should have 2/5 T5 for the set bonus,your main damageing spell in arcane specc is arcane blast not missles,AM r used only once per cycle or when u get clearcasting.
Raid buffed i get to roughly 1400-1500 arcane spelldmg,32% crit chance on all schools and 135 spellhit,being ex deep fire specc i still have alot of +hit but the main focus on arcane is crit chance,the more you crit the more dps you do,and since i get to 32% crit chance i basically have 38% on arcane blast due to the talents that increase crit chance to AB and explosions by 6%.
As for mana problems....well get a flask of distiled wisdom,the mage class trinket from Morogrim in SSC,mana pots,evocation,shadowpriest,i have them all and on a Lady Vashj fight i finish with half mana still standing and with top5 dps overall(considering im on elementals duty and other warlocks/shadowpriests/feral droods are on naga and strider duty).
Get the required gear a nd test it then and trust me you will not be dissapointed.
Until you get 2/5 T5 it ain't worth going full arcane cos deep fire will still do more dps then you.