frost Mage Guide

1. Introduction

This guide will cover everything you need to know about playing Frost in PvE content. Frost is an extremely flexible spec providing good sustained damage on both single target, cleave, and AOE.

Mage continues to have a desirable progression spot due to a raid buff & immunity.

Strengths:

Strong Mobility, especially during micro movement.

Good cleave with Splitting Ice.

Strong defensive kit.

Time Warp, Arcane Intellect, & the class tree provide a wide range of dungeon utility.

Drawbacks:

No spread AOE or cleave.

Competes with the other mage specs for similar strengths.

Main raid utility is Arcane Intellect which does not make stacking the class appealing.

Extremely low passive tankiness. Defensive kit is all proactive which requires spec comfort or encounter knowledge.

DragonflightShadowlandsBattle for Azeroth

2. Spells & Abilities

Damage Spells:
  • Frostbolt - Filler ability, it does low damage and has a chance to generate Fingers of Frost and/or Brain Freeze.
  • IceLance - High damage instant cast ability, deals triple damage if the target is frozen.
  • Flurry - High damage spell that launches 3 bolts of ice at the target and applies Winter's Chill.
  • FrozenOrb - Launches an orb that travels forwards up to 40 yards away that slows down significantly once it hits a target. Grants Fingers of Frost when it first deals damage and has a chance to generate more each time it deals damage. This chance does not increase from hitting more targets.
  • Blizzard - Ground targeted AOE that does low damage, slows, and reduces the cooldown of FrozenOrb each time it deals damage.
  • Icy Veins - Primary DPS cooldown. It gives us 30% haste for 20 seconds.
Defensive Spells:
  • Ice Barrier - Small shield for 60 seconds.
  • Mirror Image - Creates 3 copies of your character for 40 seconds. While an image is active your damage taken is reduced by 20%, and taking direct damage causes an image to dissipate.
  • Alter Time - Snapshots your current location and health. The spell can be reactivated again within 10 seconds to return you to said location and health.
  • Ice Block - Immunity that prevents all damage.
  • Greater Invisibility - Turns us invisible immediately and provides a 60% damage reduction. Can be used to fizzle several targeted boss abilities.
Other Utility Spells:
  • Blink - Teleports you 20 yards forwards. Our main mobility tool.
  • Dragon's Breath - Frontal cone AOE that disorientates all targets hit.
  • Invisibility - Turns you invisible after a short delay. Can be used to fizzle several targeted boss abilities.
  • Spellsteal - Steals or purges 1 beneficial magic buff from the target.
  • Arcane Intellect - Increases your groups Intellect by 5% for 1 hour.
  • Remove Curse - Dispels all curses from a friendly target.
  • Blast Wave - Knocks back, slows and damages all nearby enemies.
  • Cone Of Cold - Slows enemies in a frontal cone by 70%.

3. Talents


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Spec tree:
  • On any fight where you want to cast Blizzard, I recommend dropping Deep Shatter and Perpetual Winter for Freezing Rain and Ice Caller.
  • Wintertide vs Snowstorm. Snowstorm is quite powerful on big AOE. However a big benefit of Frost is being able to balance ST and AOE. I do not think Snowstorm adds enough meaningful AOE damage and it's mostly a pad talent. It takes time to stack and theres a risk of the debuff dropping off. In addition it can be hard to evaluate how useful the burst AOE is if you still end up being limited by priority damage.
  • Subzero can be dropped for Splintering Cold for more boss damage.
Class tree:

4. Rotation

4.1 Shatter

The core mechanic of the spec is Shatter. Spells against enemies who are Frozen benefit from Shatter, and have a greater chance of being struck a critical strike. Your critical strike chance against frozen enemies is:

(Critical Strike chance * 1.5) + 50%

The main way of gaining Shatter in PvE is through Winters Chill via Flurry and Fingers Of Frost, with most rotational decisions involving maximising the number and effectiveness of both these abilities. During this guide I will refer to you causing a spell to gain the Shatter effect as ‘shattering’ that spell.

4.2 Winter's Chill and Procs

The frost mage rotation revolves around maximising the impact of your two procs, Brain Freeze and Fingers Of Frost, while maximising the number of these procs through casting Frostbolt and FrozenOrb.

Because a target is either frozen or not frozen, there is minimal benefit to casting a Fingers Of Frost IceLance into a Winters Chill (only Wintertide). This situation should be avoided if possible. This means that should you find yourself with both Fingers Of Frost and Flurry charges, you want to get rid of your Fingers Of Frost procs before casting Frostbolt -> Flurry.

However sometimes you will find a Frostbolt gives you both procs, or a FrozenOrb gives you Fingers Of Frost while you already have Brain Freeze. In the event that you are casting a Frostbolt with both Fingers Of Frost and Brain Freeze, you should cast Flurry at the end and simply waste the Fingers Of Frost proc. This is because Brain Freeze & Flurry provide SIGNIFICANTLY more damage than Fingers Of Frost, and you don’t want to risk gaining another Brain Freeze and wasting one of them.

While the majority of our Winters Chill will be consumed using IceLance, we want to make sure our hard hitting spells such as Glacial Spike and Ray of Frost benefit from Winters Chill where possible.

4.3 Rotation Overview

Frost mage filler follows this cycle:

  1. Cast Frostbolt as a filler.
  2. Cast Flurry if available after Frostbolt and cast two spells (usually IceLance) into Winters Chill.
  3. Spend any Fingers Of Frost procs.
  4. Repeat the sequence, using any additional abilities such as and Shifting Power on cooldown.

Always try to cast Frostbolt before Flurry, as due to the travel time on Flurry it will hit first allowing the Frostbolt to benefit from Winters Chill.

After Flurry, you should consume Winters Chill stacks using your hardest hitting abilities. This is usually IceLance, but can be Glacial Spike or Ray of Frost if they are available. AOE spells such as Comet Storm and FrozenOrb benefit from Winters Chill but do not consume stacks.

We should be trying to cast Glacial Spike into Winters Chill where possible by timing our Flurry casts. It doesn't matter if Flurry is cast before or after Glacial Spike or if Glacial Spike consumes the first or second Winters Chill. It's important to understand this conceptually rather than learning set scenarios. However here are a few examples to show possible ways that you can shatter Glacial Spike:

It's important to be aware what spells and combos give you what number of Icicles, so you can cast as many Glacial Spike into Winters Chill as possible without wasting Icicles. Remember to sneak in Comet Storm where possible.

IceLance travels faster than Glacial Spike. If you have Fingers Of Frost and cast Glacial Spike as the second spell into Winters Chill, do not IceLance immediately as it will 'steal' the Winters Chill charge.

4.4 Priority

  1. Cast Icy Veins
  2. Cast Flurry if
  3. Cast Comet Storm if the target is affected by Winters Chill
  4. Cast Ray of Frost with one stack of Winters Chill
  5. Cast Glacial Spike if the target is affected by Winters Chill, or if you have a Flurry available
  6. Cast FrozenOrb if Ray of Frost is on cooldown
  7. Cast Shifting Power if Icy Veins, FrozenOrb, Comet Storm and Ray of Frost are on cooldown.
  8. Cast Glacial Spike at 5 Icicles
  9. Cast IceLance with Fingers Of Frost or the target is affected by Winters Chill
  10. Cast Blizzard at 3+ targets
  11. Cast Frostbolt

You should try and hold Flurry until you're at 3 Icicles where possible. This allows us to cast Frostbolt -> Flurry -> Glacial Spike -> IceLance shattering every spell. This will not always be possible as you still want to prevent overcapping spend Brain Freeze.

We cast Ray of Frost into Winters Chill after consuming 1 stack already, as Winters Chill will time out during Ray of Frost cast.

2 Target Cleave

On 2 targets, if we have 2 Flurry casts available we can use them both on the same Glacial Spike.

  1. Cast Flurry on target one
  2. Cast IceLance on target one
  3. Cast Glacial Spike on target two
  4. Cast Flurry on target two

4.5 Opener

The opener can be broken into 2 deterministic sections.

  1. Cast Mirror Image and Frostbolt prepull
  2. Cast Flurry immediately after Frostbolt
  3. Cast Icy Veins
  4. Cast Comet Storm (benefits from Winters Chill)
  5. Cast IceLance (benefits from Winters Chill)
  6. Cast Ray of Frost (benefits from Winters Chill)

At this point, you will be between 3 and 5 Icicles depending on Splintering Cold procs. If you are not at 5 Icicles you should consume Fingers Of Frost procs until you reach 5 Icicles.

Once you are at 5 Icicles:

  1. Cast Glacial Spike
  2. Cast Flurry immediately after Glacial Spike
  3. Cast FrozenOrb
  4. Cast Shifting Power
Frost Opener

5. AOE Rotation

5.1 AOE Overview

In general very little changes on AOE for Frost. This is because a large part of your AOE damage comes from spells that you already cast on single target. The main additions are shattering AOE spells and maintaining Blizzard.

5.2 AOE Priority

During AOE, you can shatter a spell following a freeze spell that is on the global cooldown such as Ice Nova, if you have 50% or more haste. Freeze can be used any time to shatter as it's off the GCD.

  1. Cast Icy Veins
  2. Cast Cone Of Cold if your previous spell was Comet Storm
  3. Cast FrozenOrb
  4. Cast Blizzard
  5. Cast Comet Storm
  6. Cast Cone Of Cold with 15 stacks of Snowstorm.
  7. Cast Shifting Power
  8. Cast Glacial Spike
  9. Cast Flurry
  10. Cast IceLance with Fingers Of Frost
  11. Cast Ice Nova
  12. Cast Arcane Explosion
  13. Cast Frostbolt

6. Stats & Gearing

6.1 Stats

Frost stats weights are a little closer than some other specs, and due to the large Intellect stat budget on items, item level will usually be an upgrade. Stat weights vary depending on your current gear and talents. To produce an accurate stat priority or to accurately compare items you must sim yourself.

  • Critical Strike increases the critical strike rate of our abilities and therefore the effectiveness of Shatter.
  • Haste reduces the cast time of our spells, our global cooldown, and the cooldown and duration of Blizzard.
  • Versatility provides a flat damage increase and damage taken reduction.
  • Mastery - Icicles cause our Frostbolt and Flurry to store an icicle. We can store up to 5 icicles at once and they are consumed to deal damage when we cast IceLance or Glacial Spike. Gaining an icicle at 5 stacks automatically causes the oldest icicle to deal it's damage.

Generally prioritise stats like so:

  1. Intellect
  2. Mastery
  3. Critical Strike
  4. Haste
  5. Versatility

Shatter increases our Critical Strike chance against frozen targets:

(Critical Strike chance * 1.5) + 50%

This means that at 33.34% Critical Strike will see a significant drop in value, as our spells now have 100% chance to critically strike when they are affected by Shatter. This is referred to as the ‘shatter cap’. The shatter cap is simply a point at which critical strike value plateaus. There is no magical DPS increase at 33.34% critical strike.

Despite providing multiplicative Critical Strike, Shatter on it's own does not increase the value of Critical Strike due to the additive Critical Strike that is also provided.

6.2 Trinkets

Because active trinkets share a cooldown, we generally want to pick up one active trinket and one passive trinket. For up to date trinket data please refer to the sims page of the site.

Recommended trinkets for Raiding:

Recommended trinkets for Mythic+:

6.3 Crafting & Embellishments

  • Shadowflame-Tempered Armor Patch is currently the most powerful embellishment. I recommend 2 of these. The best slots to craft in are Cloak, Bracers, Belt, and Feet.
  • Primal Molten Spellblade is the highest impact slot and can be crafted later if you do not have access to high item level pieces from Mythic+ or Raid. This is only recommended if you have excess crafts, as this season contains a lot of powerful weapons in both dungeons and the raid. Crafting a weapon will not be permanent.
  • Afterwards just craft in your weakest slot. You can find this out using Raidbots droptimizer.

8. Racials

8.1 Horde

  • Tauren - Brawn makes Tauren the best Horde race for Frost. It does the same DPS as Dwarf but has a worse utility racial.
  • Goblin - Rocket Jump is one of the few useful utility racials while Time is Money keeps the race somewhat competitive for DPS.

8.2 Alliance

9. Macros

Macro all cooldowns, racials, and items into one key.

#showtooltip
/cast Icy Veins
/cast Blood Fury
/cast Berserking
/use 11
/use 12
/use 13
/use 14
/use 2

The macro below can be used to automatically cancel Ice Block if you try to cast a spell while blocked; and automatically targets something if you try to cast a spell with no target. [nochanneling] will also allow you to spam the key without cancelling Shifting Power:

#showtooltip
/cancelaura Ice Block
/cast [nochanneling] Frostbolt
/targetenemy [noexists][dead]

Automatically cast ground targeted abilities wherever your mouse cursor is, saving you a click. Example with Blizzard, works for all other ground targeted spells:

#showtooltip
/cast [@cursor] Blizzard

Utilize a single keybind for both pet freeze and Icy Veins:

#showtooltip 
    /cast [nopet] Icy Veins; [@cursor] Freeze

Can be used to cancel Ice Block and immediately Blink. Useful when Ice Blocked in a void zone as you'll Blink out and take no damage. Also works with Shimmer:

#showtooltip
/cancelaura Ice Block
/cast Blink

Counterspell. Prioritizes Mouseover > Focus > Target:

#showtooltip Counterspell
/cast [@mouseover,harm][@focus,harm][harm] Counterspell

Spellsteal. Prioritizes Mouseover > Focus > Target:

#showtooltip Spellsteal
/cast [@mouseover,harm][@focus,harm][harm] Spellsteal

Mouseover Remove Curse:

#showtooltip Remove Curse
/cast [@mouseover]Remove Curse

10. Advanced

10.1 Ice Floes Usage

Ice Floes makes our next cast castable while moving. This effect stacks. This means we can press Ice Floes twice without casting a spell, and have our next 2 spells be castable while moving.

Ice Floes can also be cast while casting, in case you decide you need to move while in the middle of a cast. However, this effect has a small grace window. If Ice Floes is activated within the last 0.5 seconds of a cast, it will NOT consume a stack of the buff.

This means that we can abuse Ice Floes to gain multiple consecutive casts while casting without consuming any stacks of the buff, as long as we refresh the buff in the last 0.5 seconds of the cast.

For example:

  1. You activate Ice Floes.
  2. You cast a Frostbolt while moving, with a single stack of Ice Floes, and with 0.5 seconds left on the cast you activate Ice Floes again.
  3. You still have 2 stacks of Ice Floes.
  4. Optionally repeat step 2 again.

This means you can cast 3 spells while moving with 2 charges, or 5 spells while moving with 3 charges.

10.2 Cancelling Alter Time

Alter Time snapshots our current location and health. The spell can then be reactivated within 10 seconds to return us to said location and health. However if the buff expires we will be returned regardless, which sometimes we may not want to do.

If we cancel the Alter Time buff, it will not automatically be activated at the end of the duration, allowing us to stay where we are.

/cancelaura Alter Time

10.3 Glacial Spike and Winter's Chill

We should be trying to cast Glacial Spike into Winters Chill where possible by timing our Flurry casts. It doesn't matter if Flurry is cast before or after Glacial Spike or if Glacial Spike consumes the first or second Winters Chill. It's important to understand this conceptually rather than learning set scenarios. However here are a few examples to show possible ways that you can shatter Glacial Spike:

It's important to be aware what spells and combos give you what number of Icicles, so you can cast as many Glacial Spike into Winters Chill as possible without wasting Icicles. Remember to sneak in Comet Storm where possible.

IceLance travels faster than Glacial Spike. If you have Fingers Of Frost and cast Glacial Spike as the second spell into Winters Chill, do not IceLance immediately as it will 'steal' the Winters Chill charge.

11. FAQ

Q:

Should I use Ice Lance at 5 icicles even without a proc?

A:

No, in fact whenever you are playing without Glacial Spike talented, Icicles should not factor into a single one of your decisions. At 5 Icicles gaining a new Icicle will simply launch the oldest one. Meaning that they should be functionally ignored.

Q:

How do I sim Mythic+?

A:

There is no single sim that will represent a Mythic+ dungeon. Looking at the results of multiple Patchwerk sims with different numbers of targets and various settings can help you understand what is good in different situations. Fight styles other than Patchwerk and short duration sims can be misleading and are not recommended.

Q:

What stat percentages should I aim for?

A:

Nothing, you don't aim for specific percentages of stats. There are very few stat breakpoints in the game that are of utmost importance, and any that are will be reflected in sims. You equip the gear that gives you the most DPS with almost no thought on what stat percentages that leaves you at.

Q:

Should I use pawn?

A:

No, it's an outdated addon, based on an outdated way of thinking about the game. It relies too heavily on stat weights being an accurate method of comparing gear, which they aren't. Just use top gear and never think about stat weights ever.

Q:

How do I sim <Mage Thing>?

Q:

What should I set my Spell Queue Window to?

A:

If you don't know why you're changing it leave it at the default (400).

Q:

Should I use Arcane Momentum?

A:

Generally I would advise against it as it's more error prone and currently has multiple different bugs.

Q:

My sim says this thing gives X stat, but in game I get Y?

A:

Raidbots takes it's tooltips from Wowhead. They may not necessarily lineup with the values being used by the sim. Always check the HTML report.