Going frost for PvP is so Burning Crusade. The new hotness? Arcane, baby!
I prefer arcane over frost for general PvP, largely for the following reasons:
- Did I already say mobility
- Cause Seriously
- This spec is MOBILE
- Also stupidly powerful crits
Specifically, I use a specific kind of arcane spec, known as “arcane shatter”. It’s a kickass spec, full of ass kicking, though it’s honestly a rather cheap spec to use against the undergeared and underskilled. It’s possible to defeat most opponents by using only slow and arcane barrage. That poor ret paladin…
Anyway, the spec itself is rather simple. 51/0/20, picking up all the good stuff arcane power, icy veins, slow, ABarr. It detours from a “normal” arcane PvP spec in that it doesn’t use arcane blast or arcane missiles. The main nuke is, in fact, frostbolt.
Game play is a simple affair. General combat revolves around liberal use of slow, arcane barrage, and frostbolt spamming where possible. The primary power of the spec comes from using shatter combos, just like a deep frost spec, but using arcane barrage instead of ice lance.
And, of course, using PoM+FFB and AP to produce shatter numbers that edge dangerously close to “what the hell just hit me” territory.
To put it another way, I have killed prot pallies with 35k hitpoints and 900+ resilience in five spells.
Arcane shatter does not have PoM Pyro, though it might as well considering how hard PoM-FFB hits. I use a macro, bound to Q, which will blast my hand-mounted pyro rockets (Engineering: most overpowered profession ever? Discuss), activate PoM, then fire FFB. I almost always use this macro exclusively on rooted/frozen targets, in order to unleash the almighty shatter combo we all know and love.
Shatter, of course, provides an extra 50% crit. By activating PoM, I am granting that FFB an extra 30% crit. Factoring in my base crit rate, this gives that FFB a 102% chance to crit before resilience. Then, of course, stack ice shards and spellpower for 225% critical strikes.
Usually, this results in a wall of huge numbers, something like an 8k frostbolt crit, 9k FFB crit, 3k HMPR crit, which is almost always enough to end the fight right then and there. Keep in mind that all this takes a mere 4 seconds to pull off, even less if I don’t use frost nova and use a frostbite proc instead.
And that’s just one trick, if a pretty good one.
Mage Armor is the armor of choice; switch to ice armor when fighting warriors and rogues. The frostbite procs will help you more.
Glyph choices are a personal thing. Glyph of Evocate, obviously, but the other two are up to you. I use glyph of polymorph, as DKs, warriors and rogues are AoE happy fiends, and glyph of mana gem. The extra mana is astoundingly good, and combined with a 2 minute evocate it’s extremely hard to run yourself oom, even if you’re using mana shield a lot (which I do).
Glyph of IV is a good choice, even glyph of AP has its uses, and I can even see glyph of ABarr if you’re spending a lot of time slow dancing.
Oh, right, mayhaps you don’t know what that is.
Ignoring cooldowns, there are two very distinct forms of playing arcane shatter. The first involves spamming frostbolt, and throwing in ABarr whenever you need to move or whenever you get a frostbite proc.
The second is when you don’t frostbolt at all, but spend 100% of your time moving, essentially spamming ABarr and slow. I call this slow dancing, as that’s essentially what it is. You’re at maximum range for your arcane spells, keeping slow up on your target whilst hitting them with ABarr.
The idea is that this keeps you out of range of melee while stil hurting them, and is even ruthlessly effective against any caster that relies on casted spells, by “dancing” in and out of range of them.
In both cases this is merely a delay tactic. You can win fights this way, though most opponents will figure out how to counter this behaviour fairly quickly. Why delay? For a number of reasons.
Forcing cooldowns – case and point, ret paladins. By essentially spamming slow on them as fast as they can cleanse it, the vast majority of ret paladins will, sooner or later, say “screw this” and blow freedom to come pound your face into the dirt. Then freedom gets spellstolen, then you destroy them utterly.
Waiting for your own cooldowns – perhaps most importantly, frost nova. Keeping a melee class at bay until you’re ready to hurt them is a legit strategy, even if it drives them up the freakin’ wall.
Killing healers is also a simple task. Catch them in a cast (it’s surprisingly easy to do this, with the combined pressure of constant damage, slow, and spellsteal) counter them, then a single shatter combo is enough to either flat out kill them or put them in straights dire enough you’ll be able to finish them off in a couple more casts.
Personally, I find this spec, quote unquote, better than the 51/17 arcane/fire style specs. Gaining huge shatter crits and twin snares outweighs the advantages of burning determination and impact for me.
So far this expansion, arcane has generally been a brutal counter to other casters, whilst being kinda terrible against melee. Arcane shatter doesn’t change this too much, as you’re still powerful enough to be considered a hard counter to many casters, but you are better at fighting melee than any other arcane pvp build.
I’d say “go on, give it a try”, but after telling you I can deal nearly 20k damage in 2 GCDs you probably already did. Have fun!