My first experience with the Arcane tree came back in the days when mages had to spec 11 points into the tree to get Evocation. Man, it makes me feel old to realize there are mages playing today that didn't have this choice facing them as they decided their builds. If you are one of the newer members of the fold, it might surprise you to know that this was a talent that we mages had to specialize in up until Patch 1.11. Training down to this ability introduced me to my first favorite Arcane talent (since now Evocation is a trainable skill), Arcane Concentration.
While their more popular cousins are focused on one specific type of gameplay (PvE for Frost and PvP for Fire) the Arcane mage is instead focused on resilience. It is the Arcane tree that gives us our truly powerful defensive spells, Magic Absorption, Arcane Fortitude, and Prismatic Cloak. For the MageTank™ in all of us, these spells can mean the difference between successful pwnage and that smeary mess on the floor of the Blood Furnace that used to be a mage. Beyond all this, the reason to become an Arcane mage can be summed up in one marvelous phrase: the Three-Minute Mage.
The Three-Minute Mage is all about power, and in fact one of the key spells in this phenomenon is Arcane Power, a talent that increases your spell damage by 30% in exchange for increasing mana usage by 30%. This effect lasts 15 seconds, and when combined with Presence of Mind (a spell that allows a channeled spell such a Fireball, Polymorph or Frostbolt to be cast instantly) packs an enormous punch. Essentially it turns you into a cannon for 15 seconds once every three minutes. The Three-Minute Mage combo is something I use every chance I get, and it's largely why I love to call myself Arcane.
Are you an Arcane mage? Which spell do you hold closest to your heart? Does Improved Counterspell really float your boat, or perhaps you prefer Slow as your weapon of choice? Any way you shape it, the Arcane mage is quite a viable all-around alternative to the other trees. Not only do you get the extra fortification-excellent in a PvP setting-but you also get the chance to pew pew your enemies into dust, which is just plain fun. Can this make you a little mad with power? Sure, but who's to say insanity is a bad thing? I say go with it, enjoy the madness, cackle while your enemies smolder at your feet. It will give you some warm memories to thrive on as they haul you away to your little padded cell.