Every other week, WoW Insider brings you Arcane Brilliance for arcane, fire and frost mages. Stacey Landry is the resident mage here, bender of space and time, conjurer of delicious confectioneries and expert at dressing well while setting things on fire.
I haven't forgotten the arcane among us. When it comes to flavor, arcane mages have it in spades. All of the now definitive mage abilities - Alter Time, Time Warp, Arcane Explosion - these all stem from the power of the arcane. These mages are not elementalists, but delvers into the arcane secrets, the essence of magic itself. Arcane mages embody everything you think of when you think "wizard," mysterious and powerful, and with sparkly spell effects.
I've played arcane over the years at various times, usually when it was too good to ignore as a top-performing spec. Mists introduced some major changes to arcane, even from patch to patch. The charges of Arcane Power went from six to four. The cooldown on Rune of Power was removed. The range of Rune of Power's effect was increased. Scorch went baseline for fire - not a bad result for fire, but tough if you were an arcane mage. Ice Floes is not a panacea when it comes to movement and casting, though the cool down and charges on it were also adjusted for the better.
To be completely clear: Arcane mages aren't having a hard time in terms of damage output. Currently arcane is very high performing. If you look at some of the numbers from various sources, arcane is not just high, it's the highest. That hasn't necessarily made it popular, though, for a number of reasons. Arcane is facing a few challenges.