So you want to be an Archon. Let's start with the basics.
No matter what, your build contains 51 Archon. Some hybrid builds with less than 51 Archon are viable for self-boosts but do not use the auras with those builds in 20 man raids. You need 51 points in Archon to get Burning Purpose which is a major raid buff as well as a major component of being able to do any DPS at all as Archon.
The other 15 points are up to your preference and the situation. My preferred build is:
51 Archon/11 Dominator/4 Pyromancer
The major benefit to this particular build is having Arresting Presence available, as well as the basic Dominator tools. If you do not need Arresting Presence, put that point into Ignition instead. Make sure to keep up Fire Armor as it is a free boost to the damage of your fire spells.
You can build with 6 or more points in Pyro for Glyphs of Power and other DPS increases, but I will not be going into that here. Another option is to put the 15 points in Warlock for an additional 10% maximum HP or 10 points in Elementalist for a 10% reduction in damage taken, but there is little other benefit to these builds. You can also put points in Improved Mana Wrench in Dominator for the energy drain mechanic of Laethys, but don't keep this in your build otherwise. There is no use in Chloromancer, Necromancer, or Stormcaller as secondary souls to 51 Archon.
Your first and foremost goals as an Archon are:
1. Stay alive
2. Buff the raid
3. Debuff the enemies
Anything else comes secondary, and if you are not fulfilling these goals you may as well go DPS.
You have three primary methods of buffing the raid. First, the auras:
Shared Vigor - Boosts raid endurance by 48. Reduces your endurance by 25, countered by endurance buff from Searing Vitality.
Tempered Armor - Boosts raid armor by 504. Reduces your armor by 504, countered by armor buff from Ashen Defense.
Vitality of Stone - Boosts raid Str/Dex/Int/Wis by 45. Reduces your Str/Dex/Int/Wis by 52, countered by stat buff from Pillaging Stone.
Arcane Aegis - Boosts raid resistances by 39. Reduces your resistances by 30, countered by resistance buff from Crumbling Resistance.
Burning Purpose - Boosts (reduces) raid cast times and autoattack delay by 10%. Increases your cast time and autoattack delay by 10%, countered by cast time buff from Lingering Dust. Causes debuffs to do damage.
These auras last five minutes and are applied as self-buffs, meaning you only need to run in range while it is active to buff the raid; you do not need to reapply them except to refresh their timers. The flipside to this is if you run out of range or die, the raid loses the buffs.
These should be kept up at all times, with a couple exceptions. When it is a priority not to generate passive aggro you can remove them by right-clicking the buff icons on your bar. Additionally, you can remove Burning Purpose temporarily to cast debuffs without doing damage.
The next raid buff, and one of the most important as an Archon, is Flaring Power. This is 15% AP/SP boost to the raid for 20 seconds, usable every 5 minutes. Use this macro:
This macro will prevent you from accidentally detoggling Flaring Power, as well as inform the raid it is active and they should use their cooldowns for DPS.
#show Flaring Power
cast [notactive] Flaring Power
yell FLARING POWER ACTIVE!
Flaring Power requires charge to stay active, so make sure to build up at least 40% or so before activating it. After activating continue to use charge-building powers (spam macro) to build your charge up as it will drop off if you run out.
The ideal times to use Flaring Power are commonly near the beginning of the fight after allowing some ramp-up time for DPS and to build your charge/debuffs, and as soon as the 5 minute debuff wears off thereafter. This varies from fight to fight as you generally want to use it when mechanics allow the most DPS to be on the boss.
The final component of your raid buffs are the spam buffs.
Surging Flare - Reduces cast time by 5% for 6 seconds.
Volcanic Bomb - Increases damage by 5% for 10 seconds.
Earthen Barrage - Increases Physical and Spell crit by 5% for 15 seconds.
These are castbar attacks that give very short-term buffs on anyone in range at the time, including yourself. These are the primary reason for pointing into Ignition in Pyro, as it will increase the cast speed of all of them as well as significantly increasing the cast speed of Surging Flare.
Use this macro as your primary "spam" macro to handle these raid buffs:
The reasoning for the order here is because Surging Flare will boost the cast speed of the rest and has the lowest cooldown, and Volcanic Bomb's direct damage buff is better than Earthen Barrage's crit buff.
#show Surging Flare
cast Surging Flare
cast Volcanic Bomb
cast Earthen Barrage
cast Leeching Flames
cast Pillaging Stone
cast Crumbling Resistance
cast Searing Vitality
Throughout the fight, your priority here is to hit this macro to cast the three raid buffs whenever they are up. It helps to keep them separately visible on another bar so you can watch their cooldowns.
Leeching Flames is one of the main reasons you never have to worry about your own mana as Archon, it will refill your mana even if the target dies.
Pillaging Stone is your counter to the stat debuff from Vitality of Stone, and will be easy to keep at 5 stacks as you will cast it basically whenever you have nothing else to do. It also triggers Burning Purpose as it is a debuff.
Crumbling Resistance is here mainly to trigger Burning Purpose while you are moving, I will go into this power more in the Debuffs section.
Searing Vitality is here because it will still activate when you have your back to the enemy. It is not a debuff and so will not trigger Burning Purpose, but this power should also be kept separately on your bar as you will want to use it for the Endurance buff immediately at the start of any fight.
Your other primary focus as Archon is to keep the enemy debuffed. Archons excel at debuffing one enemy quickly, and can keep the Increased Damage Taken debuffs on specific enemies for 5 minutes at a time if they are not overwritten. All of the debuffs listed in this section will trigger the Burning Purpose damage.
With debuffs, you must be aware of debuff stacking (or lack thereof). Many of the Archon's debuffs are identical in strength to similar debuffs from other classes and souls, and thus they will overwrite each other. Communicate with your raid and especially the Bard to ensure the most efficient use of debuffs.
Ashen Defense - Increases Physical damage taken by the enemy by 5% for 5 minutes. Also your counter to the armor debuff from Tempered Armor (the self-buff lasts 1 hour). This debuff does not stack with:
- Vengeance of the Piercing Cold (Cleric/Shaman) - A self-buff that causes every melee attack to apply this debuff. There is no need for this to be used in a raid with an Archon or Bard present.
- Coda of Cowardice (Rogue/Bard) - AoE debuff requiring combo points, lasts 60 seconds. The Bard should use this on trash and during boss fights where many (more than 3) enemies in AoE need to be killed. Should not be used on single targets as it will drop Ashen Defense.
Crumbling Resistance - Increases Magical damage taken by the enemy by 7% for 5 minutes. Also your counter to the resistance debuff from Arcane Aegis (the self-buff also lasts 5 minutes). This debuff does not stack with:
- Spiritual Deficiency (Cleric/Inquisitor) - A simple debuff that lasts 60 seconds. Should not be used in a raid with an Archon or Bard present.
- Exposure (Mage/Elementalist) - Another simple debuff that lasts 30 seconds. Again, should not be used in a raid (and there is no reason to point into this for a raid build).
- Coda of Distress (Rogue/Bard) - AoE debuff requiring combo points, lasts 60 seconds. The Bard should use this on trash and during boss fights where many (more than 3) enemies in AoE need to be killed. Should not be used on single targets as it will drop Crumbling Resistance.
Lingering Dust - Increases cast time and autoattack delay by 25% for 20 seconds. Most raid bosses are immune to the debuff component of this power. More importantly, it is your counter to the cast time debuff from Burning Purpose, lasting five minutes. It doesn't stack with Accelerated Decay from Dominator or Nebulous Haze from Cabalist but that doesn't really matter.
Illuminate - Causes the enemy to take additional damage when hit, at most every 3 seconds, lasting 20 seconds. Also triggers Burning Purpose. This debuff does not stack with:
- Wild Growth (Mage/Chloromancer) - Increases damage taken by 10% on all enemies in range. Works completely differently from the other powers in this debuff group, and is far superior, it will not only drop any of the others that are currently present but won't allow them to be reapplied while it is active. If your Illuminate is not applying this is probably why.
- Spotter's Order (Warrior/Warlord) - Identical to Illuminate except it requires 3 attack points. Can be used to help maintain the debuff on multiple enemies but generally not needed in a raid otherwise.
- Coda of Jeopardy (Rogue/Bard) - Same as Illuminate and Spotter's Order except it requires combo points and lasts 60 seconds. Using this or Illuminate is a matter of opinion and should be discussed in advance by the Archon and Bard.
In this last stacking group, Illuminate is easiest to apply and triggers Burning Purpose so it is not a loss in personal DPS, whereas Coda of Jeopardy lasts 3 times as long but uses combo points. My preference with only one target is to only use Illuminate immediately as the encounter begins so the debuff is present, and for the Bard to keep up Coda of Jeopardy throughout the fight as it does not need to be maintained as much; casting Illuminate every 20 seconds can lower the uptime of short-term raid buffs.
For adds that die in under 20 seconds (example: Stingers on Akylios, Arcane Porter on Garau), Illuminate is generally the best choice. In fights with at least two enemies, the Archon and Bard should coordinate keeping the debuff up on different mobs.
Anyone applying debuffs in this group should be aware of when Wild Growth is up and should refresh the debuff when it drops. Announcing when Wild Growth is cast helps, as does an addon like KaruulAlert that actually can tell you when Wild Growth is on the target.
Waning Power - Reduces the enemy's AP and SP by 5% while also buffing your own SP by 10%, for 1 minute. Doesn't stack with Necromancer's Looming Demise but who is going to bring a Necromancer to a raid really. Triggers Burning Purpose but it has a massive cooldown of 3 minutes.
Power Drain - Reduces the enemy's damage done by 10% and increases your damage done by 10%. This is a charge consuming toggle and the Archon's primary method of actively defending the raid. This should be activated before any large predictable raid or tank damage, as well as whenever you have full charge that is not being used for Flaring Power.
Does not stack with the debuff from Infestation from the Warrior Reaver soul, but if they have 3 points in Crippling Infestation it will be a superior debuff (15%) and only lasts 8 seconds with a 1 minute cooldown.
Power Drain is also a debuff so activating it will trigger Burning Purpose; this can be used to maximize personal DPS when not casting debuffs, as Burning Purpose can be triggered with this between each GCD. Personally I do not use this method.
This is the main difficulty of being Archon. The debuffs from the raid buff auras will make you more vulnerable than other mages of similar gear levels even with the counter-buffs, as others have access to similar buffs either from your auras or 0 pt archon. So what can you do about it? Paying attention to mechanics goes without saying, but you have some other tools:
Searing Vitality - Perhaps the most important, this self-buff should be applied ASAP during a boss fight or before if you have the opportunity. You only need to use the spell once and allow it to tick 5 times to apply 5 stacks of the endurance buff.
Consuming Flames - A somewhat weak shield, but it can mean the difference between surviving a hit and death. The buff to this shield's cooldown is also the only real use of the Archon synergy crystal. If you are not saving the shield to apply to others (and if you have purifiers, you shouldn't be) use it on yourself whenever raid damage is expected. Use this macro to use it on yourself as well as use breakfree if mezzed:
Ashen Defense / Crumbling Resistance - These are your Armor and Resistance buff counters to the aura self-debuffs, and should be kept up at all times. On boss fights you should be keeping these up on the boss anyway.
#show Consuming Flames
cast @self Consuming Flames
cast Break Free
Power Drain - Lowering the boss's raid damage helps keep everyone alive, and you are the weakest link!
Gear - Unless you know you will have no problem staying alive during an encounter, there is virtually no reason to worry about spellpower. It will only affect the damage of your attacks and Burning Purpose procs, not any of the buffs, and Consuming Flames scales with your HP. If you are going to be Archoning with any regularity, you should pick up Endurance-heavy gear where you can, and make sure to set up your Resist sigils as soon as possible.
For armor (left side of character screen), the Mage Rank 40 PvP gear offers the best Endurance, and you can equip much of it without affecting your Focus. Cleric tanking items that are usable by mages are the best option for wands and accessories. If you have Archon-specific gear you can rune some with Endurance instead of Spellpower, such as totems and legs.
Rock Slide - Channel that uses charge and gives you a stacking buff that increases Intelligence. Not a priority as it will only affect your DPS. If you have the opportunity use it on trash, or just after using all three short-term raid buffs if you don't need to use your charge for Flaring Power or Power Drain.
Purification - Casted single-target cleanse with no cooldown, only removes curses. Haven't found a use for this yet but it may be possible to cleanse the plant tank in GSB with it if there isn't a void knight for some reason.
Cleansing Flames - Casted ground-targeted AoE cleanse with no cooldown, that also purges enemies because of the Purging Flames upgrade. Only useful for certain fights but it is extremely useful in those cases. The main benefit over other AoE cleanses is that it does not have a cooldown. Unfortunately it does have a cast time so it is not ideal when debuffs need to be cleansed within 2-3 seconds of application. It also has a limited area of effect (where you place it) so everyone needs to be stacked to ensure it hits everyone. Both of these reasons mean it's not going to work for Silgen despite being spammable.
I have not yet found a use for the purge component of this power, other than making cleansing on Sicaron more difficult.
Flowing Sands - Slows the target by 50% and increases your movement speed by 25% for 15 seconds. Mostly useful for the self-buff during movement phases, as most bosses are immune to the debuff.
Mental Flare - Replenishes 30% of your mana, but can be used on others. You will never need mana, so it should be reserved for clerics and stormcallers who need it. Use this macro so you don't need to switch targets to apply it:
Lava Field - Placed AoE that does damage and increases healing received by 10 party members in the placed area. Primarily useful for the latter, but due to its massive cooldown not really useful for general situations, I just drop it on trash for the most part.
#show Mental Flare
cast @mouseoverui Mental Flare
The below abilities are from Dominator:
Transmogrify (0 pt Dominator) - Turns the target into a squirrel. Useful for keeping certain trash mobs out of the fight until they can be killed, and with 3 points in Dominator can be spammed to keep a target squirreled even while it takes damage. Doesn't work on bosses obviously.
Thunder Blast (2 pt Dominator) - Interrupt, knockback. On global cooldown and has a 15 second cooldown so its uses are limited to slow casts and backup interrupts. The interrupt does happen instantly however, the knockback and damage are delayed by travel time. Use this macro so you can interrupt before your casted spells finish:
Reflective Command (6 pt Dominator) - Reflects the next spell, can be cast on others. Mainly useful for specific mechanics such as Prince Dollin's Terminate Life. You can make a mouseover macro for this if you like:
#show Thunder Blast
cast Thunder Blast
Mana Wrench (8 pt Dominator) - Drains the target's mana/energy/power and restores your own mana. Useful for energy mechanics.
#show Reflective Command
cast @mouseoverui Reflective Command
Deny (10 pt Dominator) - Fully cleanses a target, cooldown of 10 seconds. Further reason that Purification is not needed. Use this macro so you don't have to switch targets:
Degeneration (10 pt Dominator) - Channeled purge that removes up to 3 buffs as it channels. Due to the delay on the first purge, the requirement to stand still, the 15 second cooldown, and most mechanics penalizing repeated purges, this power is rather useless in raids.
cast @mouseoverui Deny
Memory Wipe (10 pt Dominator) - Reduces threat with nearby enemies, can be used on others? Haven't really used this honestly but it could be useful to drop on accidental aggro pulls.
Arresting Presence (11 pt Dominator) - Toggled AoE silence, uses charge, can be targeted off allies or enemies (or yourself). Extremely useful for interrupting casters in AoE and in general, as unlike Thunder Blast it does not have a cooldown. Can be immediately toggled off after applying if you only need to interrupt one cast. Like Thunder Blast, it is on the global cooldown. Won't interrupt bosses immune to silence, or archers to whom silence has no effect.
In a Nutshell
The general sequence of actions to start a fight where you aren't using specific timing for buffs:
- Activate auras before fight
- Apply Illuminate, Crumbling Resistance, Ashen Defense, and Lingering Dust.
- Apply Searing Vitality if it isn't up.
- Use spam macro to cast Surging Flare, Volcanic Bomb and Earthen Barrage.
- Apply Waning Power.
- Activate Flaring Power.
- Spam macro.
- Power Drain when you have charge and to pre-empt boss damage.
- Use Illuminate, Crumbling Resistance, and Ashen Defense on any new bosses or single adds
- Refresh Crumbling Resistance, Ashen Defense, Lingering Dust, Searing Vitality, and the five buff auras before they wear off (5 minutes).
- Waning Power on cooldown or to pre-empt predictable boss damage (lasts a minute so you can likely use it whenever).
- Flaring Power after the 5 minute debuff drops off.
- Spam macro.
From that, weave in utility spells as needed and time buffs/debuffs with raid mechanics and other raid buffs as appropriate.
This concludes my guide to Archon. Once you get the priorities down, you can experiment with sacrificing survivability or utility for personal DPS and whatever else you may wish to do, as long as you keep the primary purpose of Archon in mind, to support the raid. I hope this has been helpful, thanks for reading and feel free to leave feedback!