Arcanist Class Guide – Lost Ark
In this Lost Ark Arcanist guide, we’ll cover builds, tripods, and more to help you play the class optimally through end game content.
Arcanist, also known as “Arcana” is one of the mage damage dealing sub-classes in Lost Ark.
It is of the squishiest damage-dealing classes in the game and that, combined with the fact, that she spends almost all of her time in melee range while fighting, makes her one of the most difficult classes to play correctly.
Additionally, her complex playstyle and identity combos make her very hard to master.
Arcanist uses a magic card deck as a weapon. There are several different types of cards with specific functions attached to each:
- Yellow cards are used for crowd control and self buffs.
- Blue cards are used to deal some damage and mark an opponent with a Ruin up to four times.
- Red cards have almost no effect on their own, however, when used on a target that is marked with Ruin stacks, it detonates all of the stacks and deals a lot of damage. More stacks explode means more damage is dealt, so applying all four Ruin stacks is very important.
Arcanist’s identity is a special deck of tarot cards. It consists of twelve cards and each one of them provides different effects for the arcanist, from damage buffs to an instant skill cooldown refresh. While dealing damage, she builds up an arcane energy meter. Once it’s full, one random card from the deck of twelve is drawn. Arcanist can hold up to two cards at the same time and use them at any moment when you are not cc’ed.
Arcanist is one of the most challenging classes to play in Lost Ark with a fast-paced gameplay and a wide variety of skill rotations. In order to get the most out of the class, quick thinking and fast decision making is required. The class may seem to be very weak at the beginning but as you dive deeper into the class mechanics and gear up more and more, the class begins to shine and feels more and more rewarding for effort that’s been put in.
- Deals very good constant damage
- Has good mobility in combat
- A lot of AoE CC abilities for PVP
- Difficult to play and even hard to master
- Very squishy and has to play in melee range
Comparisons to other classes
Compared to other mage damage dealing subclasses, Arcanist lacks ranged skills, so she has to deal most of her damage in melee. She has very weak stagger and some destruction in her skills (not very much but it is there).
Her mobility is way better than Summoner’s or Ignition Sorcerer’s.
While the other two have clear skill rotations that they can follow in combat, Arcanist’s combat flow can vary depending on tarot cards that have been drawn.
Lost Ark Arcanist Class Mechanics
When Arcanist deals damage with her spells she builds up an identity bar. Once it is full, one of the twelve identity cards is drawn. She can hold no more than two cards at the same time. Here is the list of these cards and effects provided on use:
- Three-Headed Snake Card
- Basic Attack changes into 3 directions for 16s. On hit, earn 1 stack. Damage to foes +100%. Damage to Challenge or lower monsters +400%.
- Mayhem Card
- For 30s, Atk. Speed +3% for 4s every time skills are used, up to 15%.
- Twisted Fate Card
- For 4s, your skill Damage either stays the same or increases by 40%
- Corrosion Card
- For 30s ,gain a 30% chance of +10% Damage to the foe for 5s.
- Ghost Card
- Ignore collision with monsters. Move Speed +20% and Damage from foes -50% for 3 hits for 16s.
- Cull Card
- For 4s, Crit Rate for all skill attacks 100% and Crit Damage +50% when they hit 1 foe.
- Balance Card
- For 30s, your Stacking skills are enhanced and grant you 1 more stack with each hit.
- Judgment Card
- For 4s, Ruin skills always trigger the 4 stack effect, regardless of the actual number of stacks cast upon foes.
- Moon Card
- Cooldown -10% and MP Recovery Speed increase +20% for 30s.
- Star Card
- Recovers 100% MP. Remaining skills Cooldown -15% except for Awakening, Movement, and Stand Up skills.
- Royal Card
- Fills empty card slots. You can obtain up to 2 cards.
- Wheel of Fortune
- The Cooldown of the next skill decreases by 100%.
- Emperor Card
- Inflict Damage to foes within a 14 meter radius. (Class Engraving dependent).
In PvE, Arcanist uses big AoE abilities to keep large groups of monsters in CC and deal good damage at the same time. When it comes to guardians or raid bosses, Arcanist uses her mobility to quickly jump into melee range and apply four stacks of (ruin), then detonate it with (red skill).
While doing that, she cycles through her tarot cards deck to search for cards like Death or Twisted Fate to increase the (ruin) damage while utilizing other cards’ effects for more smooth combat.
For PvP, Arcanist provides good AoE crowd control abilities to keep small areas of the battlefield locked for an opponent for some time. In 1v1 fights, Arcanist can catch her opponent with quick instant stagger skills and perform fast damage combos. The combo deals medium damage but that can be changed with good tarot card draws.
Since she can only catch opponents with stagger skills, she struggles against classes with a good amount of super-armor options and has to maneuver around waiting for a good window to strike.
Arcanist Awakening Abilities
As with all classes, Arcanist has access to two awakening abilities.
Arcanist surrounds the targeted area with six giant cards. Deals damage inside the area and then explodes, knocking up the enemies. Arcanist draws two tarot cards (one in PVP).
Arcanist opens up the Joker card that deals a lot of damage in the area in front of it. If an enemy is marked with (ruin), the ability deals more damage depending on the number of stacks.
Arcanist Advanced Class Engravings
Every part of the Arcanist build is set up around one of the two class engravings. When building character, you choose between playing around, applying and detonating four ruin stacks, or deal damage with common cards skills. The two playstyles are very different from one another.
Detonating four stacks of ruin deals 20%/25%/30% more damage and restores 30% of mana spent. The build around this class engraving utilizes high specialization stat to increase the ruin explosion damage as much as possible.
Common card abilities deal 10%/20%/30% more damage and fill up the identity bar 50% faster. The “Emperor” card is added to the tarot card deck.
When the “Emperor” card is used, deal a decent amount of damage in a big area around the Arcanist.
This engraving is very good for mobbing content like chaos dungeons or cubes. The build for raids with Emperor engraving utilizes high swiftness stat for quick cooldown reduction and high attack speed to be able to deal as much damage as possible in short buff windows.
There are two main builds shown below: Empress Spec-Crit and Emperor Swift-Crit.
Main source of damage in this build is a ruin card explosion itself. When you hit an enemy that is marked with ruin stacks with a red skill, you will see two different damage numbers. The lesser one is a red skill damage and the harder-hitting one is the Ruin explosion damage. This is very important to understand in order to choose the right damage engravings. It is also Arcanist’s main source of stagger.
Since the red abilities themselves are not dealing much damage, you should prioritize leveling the rest of the skills to unlock more different tripods instead of leveling red skills to level 11 and 12 on character levels 55 and 60.
Here are some of the skill explanations and tripods you will take in order of importance. Make sure to level up red skills tripod levels as much as you can because it is one of the main sources of damage increase that you can utilize to make your Arcanist hit harder.
The Awakening that you should use is Null Arcane. If you have not acquired a relic gear set yet, you can save it and use it when you draw cards like Death or Twisted Fate (remember that the Twisted Fate card may not do anything at all for you). Do not forget to apply ruin stacks for before the Awakening to deal the most damage. The Judgment card effect also works on it. The Null Arcane has a very long animation lock after the cast so you should spam the spacebar to cancel it with a dash or spam the Celestial rain to cancel it with the ability cast (the Awakening damage does not remove the ruin stacks).
- Celestial Rain (priority to max)
- One of your three main detonation skills that do damage along with Secret Garden and Serendipity.
- Secret Garden (priority to max)
- See above.
- Serendipity (priority to max)
- A counter skill. This ability strikes twice and both hits can trigger ruin stacks explosion. You can use a 2:1:2 tripod setup to have a small chance to detonate the stacks twice, but this is not optimal since it is a huge damage loss if you happen to draw the Judgment tarot card.
- Return (priority to max)
- A counter skill. This is one of the Arcanist’s party synergy skills. It provides her party members 10% critical strike chance against an enemy that it hit. Also, the last tripod provides a big critical damage buff for the Arcanist herself. Make sure to use the first part of this combo skill right before you are about to detonate ruin stacks. The second part of this skill is only useful for stagger and knockdown. The last tripod should be leveled up as much as possible.
- Spiral Edge (at least level 7 for the second tripod)
- This skill provides mobility and can apply all 4 ruin stacks on its own due to the second tripod. Level up this skill to level 10 only if you have skill points left over.
- Scratch Dealer (at least level 4)
- This is another party synergy skill. It also provides some mobility and applies 2 ruin stacks. Second tripod is useless for the most part and the third tripod provides even more mobility and an attack speed buff. It makes Arcanist gameplay feel much more comfortable but you need to get used to it since it might also make you get hit unwillingly.
- Call of Fate (at least level 7)
- This skill is here mostly for the second tripod. It provides a decent chance to draw a random tarot card when it hits something. It does not need to deal damage for the card to be drawn and can be used even when the target is immune to damage or even if the target is not an enemy at all (a wooden fence or anything that can be damaged). The tripod should be leveled up as much as possible for a better chance to draw a card. The last tripod is there only to make the skill hit three times instead of two, therefore the tripod’s level can stay at 1 since we don’t care about its damage output.
- Quadra Accelerate
- This skill is here to add 2 ruin stacks after Scratch dealer. It hits four times and applies ruin stacks on second and fourth hits. If the second hit has missed, the third and fourth will still apply one ruin stack each. Level this skill up at least to level 4 if you can for the attack speed tripod and level it up all the way only if you have already leveled everything above to level 10.
Build Combo Rotation
Use Call of fate whenever it is off cooldown to cycle through identity cards more efficiently.
- Scratch dealer > Quadra accelerate > Return > Celestial rain > Spiral edge x2 > Secret Garden.
If you managed to apply another 4 stacks of ruin before either Secret garden or Celestial rain came off cooldown – use Serendipity.
Basically, you stack ruin with either Scratch dealer+Quadra accelerate or Spiral edge and detonate the stacks with any red skill you have off cooldown.
Tarot card tips
- If you draw Royal, make sure to use it when it is the only card you currently have so it draws 2 cards and not 1;
- Use Star when most of your skills are on cooldown to get the most benefit from the remaining skill cooldown reduction;
- If you happen to have both Hydra and Balance effects together, you can quickly apply 4 stacks of ruin with 1 use of Spiral Edge and normal attack. Make sure to detonate the stacks fast to be able to use the second charge of Spiral edge before the skill goes on cooldown;
- When you draw a Judgment card, make sure you have all of your red skills off cooldown so you can quickly use them all with full effects while the Judgment buff is active. It is more optimal to wait for another good tarot card like Death or Twisted Fate or Wheel of Fortune but it might take a long time. The combo of Death and Judgment is the best card combo you can draw at any time.
- Make sure to use damage increasing tarot cards like Death and Twisted Fate right before you detonate the ruin stacks. If you are fast enough you will be able to apply another four ruin and detonate it while the card buff is still active.
- You can use a Wheel of Fortune card to cast your Awakening two times one after another. Don’t forget to apply four ruin before using the Null Arcane.
- The skill does not remove ruin stacks when it deals damage. If you do not have your Awakening ready when the card is drawn, use it to cast Celestial rain twice (do not forget to stack ruin before second use). If you happen to draw Wheel of Fortune and Judgment together, make sure you have all red skills up and use Return > Wheel of Fortune+Judgment > Serendipity > Celestial rain > Serendipity > Secret garden.
The more experienced you become with Arcanist the better you will identify good card combos and rotate your skills in combat more efficiently.
- Prioritize Specialization. The more spec you have the more damage your ruin explosion deals so it is highly recommended to get better quality on your accessories.
- Get a necklace with specialization and crit. With a high enough level of your crit tripod on Celestial Rain, Secret Garden, and Adrenaline engraving along with your own crit synergy on top of that, you will have no problem critting.
- Protection (any rarity) on Celestial Rain, Secret Garden, and Serendipity. This is very important and will be explained in the Engravings section.
- Galewind on Quadra Accelerate, Scratch Dealer, and Spiral Edge
- Rage on Return
- Bleed or Purify on Call of Fate.
Arcanist does not bring any utility for the party (other than critical chance synergy of course), only damage and pretty much of it. So we are building as much damage as possible.
Here is the engraving list in order of importance:
- The difference between level 1 and level 3 is small but having at least level 1 is important.
- This engraving provides the most damage increase of any non-class engravings in the game.
- Hit Master
- Even though Secret garden and Serendipity have back and head attack damage modifiers, the ruin explosion does not so Hit Master is very efficient.
- This is the reason why we use Protection runes in our ruin detonation skills. This is a 16% damage increase that is almost as free as the Hit Master. Prioritize getting the runes as soon as possible since, obviously, the engraving does not work properly without them.
- With decent timing, you can even get the bonus damage for your Awakening by canceling the animation with the spacebar and casting Celestial Rain right before the Awakening deals its damage. But if you use the skill too early, the ruin stacks will be removed and your ultimate will do very little damage so some precise timing is required for this trick.
- Cursed Doll/Adrenaline
- Standard damage options.
Keen Blunt Weapon is not advised because Arcanist has a big built-in Critical Damage buff in her tripods and sacrificing a valuable engraving slot for more Critical Damage is not efficient.
The most efficient endgame engraving setup:
- Grudge 3
- Cursed Doll 3
- Hit Master 3
- Barricade 3
- Adrenaline 2
- Empress 1
- Prioritize Damage and Cooldown on Celestial rain, Secret Garden, Serendipity.
- Cooldown on Spiral Edge, Scratch dealer, Quadra accelerate, Return, Call of fate.
Relic Gear Set
At the 1445 item level you unlock the relic gear set crafting. It requires the materials from Valtan and Vykas legion raids.
The best set for the Empress build is the Nightmare set. It provides mana cost reduction and damage increase for the skills that cost mana. If you have a four-piece set bonus, make sure to use your Awakening at the start of the fight.
After the Awakening, you get the buff for the rest of the combat. This buff gives damage increase and switches to cooldown reduction and attack speed when you drop below 30% of your mana. When your mana is fully restored, the buff switches back to damage increase.
Try to utilize the “low-mana” buff for more consistent damage but make sure to have the “high-mana” buff when you get tarot cards combo like Judgment and Death/Twisted Fate for more burst damage.
Emperor PvE Swift-Crit
This Lost Ark Arcanist build is a version of the Emperor build for raids. It has four main damage skills and the Emperor card on top of that. Two of those skills, Evoke and Checkmate, deal damage after a big delay.
Comparing the two builds, the Emperor one is not as dependent on ruin stacks and feels more fast-paced due to high swiftness. But it is still, in my opinion, harder to play than Empress because of skills with delayed effects. You are required to hit 3 main damage skills in short buff windows and it is not that easy because of the delays.
This build is nearly unplayable without a full Nightmare relic set unless you use a food buff and/or have support in your party for more mana regeneration.
The Awakening of choice is the Eudian star. We do not use the Null Arcane here because its only purpose is to do big burst damage and without any Specialization stat the Awakening damage is weak. Use the Eudian star at the beginning for some tarot cards draws.
- Dark Resurrection
- One of the main damage skills. Also provides good stagger.
- Part of your core big damage rotation. This skill has a very big delay before it deals damage so you have to time your damage buffs around the Evoke explosion. The last tripod is up for you to choose.
- Another main damage skill. This one is channeling. Very important to fully channel it for the maximum efficiency of the last tripod. But do not try to maximize it every time. If you see the boss is about to move out, it is better to release it early and deal some damage than to not deal damage at all.
- Celestial Rain
- This skill deals good damage while detonating four ruin stacks even without the Empress engraving. And it is very easy to stack with the Stream of edge and Checkmate.
- A counter skill. The first tripod provides 10% Critical Chance as a party synergy. The last tripod is a big Critical Damage buff only for Arcanist.
- Scratch Dealer
- Another party synergy skill due to the first tripod. Also the last tripod provides a big boost of attack speed to help fit all the skills in buff windows.
- Stream of Edge
- This skill is here mostly for its Critical Chance buff from the second tripod.
- Call of Fate
- This skill is here to draw more identity cards due to the second tripod. Remember that it can draw cards even if it does not deal damage, it just needs to hit anything.
Build Combo Rotation
Evoke > Stream of edge > Scratch dealer > Dark Resurrection > Return > (activate Evoke if you are not using the double circle tripod) > full channel Checkmate > Celestial Rain.
Do not forget to use Call of fate when it is off cooldown for more tarot cards draw.
Tarot card tips:
- Use Star after the full rotation so the cooldown reduction from this card provides its full potential
- Use Wheel of Fortune to double cast Dark Resurrection. If you know you have time – use it for x4 Evoke with the double circle tripod.
- Death is a huge damage buff. Save it and use it in the middle of the given rotation so every main damage ability benefits from the card. Same goes for the Twisted Fate card.
- Unfortunately, the Judgment card is useless in this build since you have only one (red) skill and it is not even dealing the biggest damage here. If you get it you might as well just cycle it away.
- Prioritize Swiftness and make Crit your secondary stat.
- Galewind on Checkmate, Dark Resurrection, Scratch dealer.
- Focus on Return
- Bleeding or Conviction on Stream of Edge
- Purification or Judgment on Call of Fate
- Quick Recharge on Celestial Rain
- Focus or Wealth on Evoke
Here is the list of usable engravings:
- We go for level 3 Emperor for the maximum damage increase for the common card skills.
- This engraving provides the most damage increase of any non-class engravings in the game.
- This engraving is here for more consistent crits.
- All-out Attack
- The engraving is used to shorten the channel time of the Checkmate skill as well as increase its damage. Note that you can’t make the channel time less than 2.6 seconds. It might feel bad to build an entire engraving only for one skill but this skill deals the most damage if fully channeled so it is important to make it easier to use.
- Raid Captain
- We have bonus movement speed from the swiftness stat and from the Scratch dealer’s third tripod buff. Do not forget the Ghost tarot card as well.
- Mass Increase OR Cursed Doll
- Use Mass increase only if you have All-Out attack. Otherwise use Cursed Doll.
- Prioritize Damage and Cooldown gems for Dark Resurrection, Checkmate, Evoke.
- Get Damage gems for Emperor and Celestial rain.
- Get Cooldown for Return, Call of fate, Scratch dealer.
Relic Gear Set
The best set to use is the Nightmare set. Without it, this build feels very mana-hungry.
Thanks for reading our Lost Ark Arcanist guide! To learn more about other classes, check out our collection of Lost Ark class guides.