(Thanks to Wizeowel for setting this up initially)
(Thanks to Lhivera for provideing most of the math behind the numbers)
Use of cooldowns
Gear (stat weighting)
Bugs, features and other issues
The bulk of this information was pulled from the Raiding as Frost thread which contained a lot of obsolete information after the 3.08 and 3.12 changes. Patch 3.3 also brought in some significant changes to our Water Elemental (WE) requiring a re-write of the 3.2 thread. Going from 3.3 to 3.3.3 increased our DPS a little bit more as well.
Right off the bat is has to be said that Frost Mage DPS in a raiding environment is pretty poor. Every class, including hybrids, can spec for more dps than deep frost (source). If you want pure DPS as a Mage, Arcane (57/3/11) has been on top for a while. But at least you wonâ€™t get instantly kicked out of 10-mans anymore just for summoning a water elemental. As of the time of this posting the numbers aren't out out yet for 3.3.3 gear, but using best in slot (BiS) 3.2 gear with the patch 3.3.3 mechanics puts Deep Frost (18/0/53) ~15.8% behind the top Mage build and ~22.3% behind the top dps class (51/18/2 Rogue).
So why do some of us still raid as frost mages? Thatâ€™s a difficult to answer question â€“ at least here at EJ. For some of us it isnâ€™t about the absolute min/max of the class, it often has more to do with other intangible benefits or personal interests. So, within that context, this is a place to discuss the min/max within the Frost build itself.
So with that out of the way â€“ how do we work with what we have?
18/0/53 - top â€œdeep frostâ€ DPS spec.
Frost has a set of 41 core dps talents which complement each other, but eventually you are left with a few non-DPS options in both the Frost Tree and a secondary tree. The requirements to be considered a deep frost raid build are:
â€¢ 5/5 Improved Frostbolt
â€¢ 3/3 Ice Shards
â€¢ 3/3 Precision (you may be able to scrape a point off if you end up significantly over the hit cap â€“ but that is due to sub-optimal gearing)
â€¢ 3/3 Piercing Ice
â€¢ 1/1 Icy Veins
â€¢ 3/3 Frost Channeling
â€¢ 3/3 Shatter
â€¢ 1/1 Cold Snap
â€¢ 3/3 Winterâ€™s Chill
â€¢ 5/5 Artic Winds
â€¢ 2/2 Empowered Frostbolt
â€¢ 2/2 Fingers of Frost
â€¢ 1/1 Summon Water Elemental
â€¢ 5/5 Chilled to the Bone
â€¢ 1/1 Deep Freeze
Supplemental Frost Spells:
In addition to the 41 core DPS talents you have to choose at least 10 more (51 total points) to get through Deep Freeze. At least 3 of these points have to spend in the first 5 tiers. Some mix of the following is generally considered the best option.
â€¢ 3/3 Icy Floes is only a dps talent in that it reduces the cool down of icy veins. Iâ€™d consider these throw away points, but there just arenâ€™t any better options.
â€¢ 2/2 Arctic Reach for added range
â€¢ 1/1 Ice Barrier is for survival (although it is a DPS/DPM loss to keep it up consistently)
â€¢ 1/3 Improved Blizzard provides some snare on your AOE attack for trash control. 1 point in the talent allows Fingers of Frost (FoF) to proc off your AOEâ€™s, increasing your AOE DPS nicely. But taking more than 1 point here only increases the slow effect.
â€¢ 2/2 Cold as Ice was quite useful pre-3.3 because it reduced the cool down of your WE, but with the new glyph it would only be used to reduce the cool down of your cold snap. Even with 2 points its unlikely that you would be able to cast cold snap twice in an encounter to get the use out of the talent, but some dps may be better than nothing. Still these would be the 1st points I'd drop to get some more "flavor" talents if you want.
â€¢ 3/3 Brain Freeze is a fairly mediocre talent by itself. It provides instant, mana-free FrostFireBolts or Fireballs (always use the FFB). Once you get 2pc T10 though, it's a nice dps talent due to the set bonus. If there were any better options we could consider dropping the talent, but there arenâ€™t any better options.
Other Frost spells considered useful but not taken:
â€¢ x/3 Permafrost is generally thought of as a â€œflavorâ€ spell. It is useful on trash and PvP, but does not impact boss fights or increase DPS. The only reason for a raiding frost mage to take any points here is for specific fights where the mage is responsible to kite a mob (although they have to unglyph their frostbolt to do so), or encounters where the reduced healing may be important.
â€¢ 1/3 Enduring Winterfor replenishment (The old issue with replenishment munching has been fixed, but with the new glyph thereâ€™s no reason to take more than 1 point here. Even with 1/3 you will be able to keep replenishment up full time.) Personally - I droped a point from cold as ice above, to get this.
The non-used Frost Spells
â€¢ 0/3 Frostbite - it used to be required to take 1 point in the talent to allow Fingers of Frost (FoF) to proc off your Improved Blizzard, but it's not required anymore. There are a few encounters where this could be useful, but itâ€™s generally considered bad manners to unexpectedly root things in a raid. Rooted mobs will attack the player with the highest threat in their range - it seems like more often than not this happens to be some random healer. It's great for PvPish builds, just not universally useful. Use it at your own risk.
â€¢ 0/2 Frost Warding â€“ we donâ€™t use Frost/Ice Armor for PvE so no sense improving them. Even in the few encounters where we may cast Frost/Fire Ward (when sitting behind the ice block on Sapphiron and you donâ€™t have anything else to do), we really donâ€™t get any use out of the mana this talent would return.
â€¢ 0/3 Improved Cone of Cold is a PvP talent. You will rarely find yourself in range to use this spell when raiding. It is also less DPS than frostbolt spam even when fully talented.
â€¢ 0/3 Frozen Core is a pretty useless talent even for PvP. You shouldnâ€™t be taking significant damage when raiding. Even with 3/3 points here you will still get 1 shotted by any boss and most trash.
â€¢ 0/2 Shattered Barrier â€“ PvP again. This one can cause some unexpected rooted mobs again (see frostbite above), and that's not generally a good thing. Consider that you pull agro on some trash. Even with your barrier up you will likely get 1 shotted â€“ shattering your barrier. So if you were standing with other ranged/healers even if they are below the tanks threat, they will get attacked if they are in range of the mob you just rooted. You are better to take 1 death than 2.
For a sub-spec, anything that includes 3/3 Torment the Weak (TTW) and 1/1 Focus Magic will give you the biggest DPS gain â€“ nothing in the first 4 or 5 levels of the fire tree compares and weâ€™ve exhausted all the useful DPS talents in the Frost tree. With the changes made in 3.08, you can generally count on the boss to be permanently slowed by the tank, using things like Thunder Clap or Infected Wounds. So even though Frost Mages cannot slow the boss themselves (although Arcane mageâ€™s â€œslowâ€ spell does work â€“ they just never cast it in PvE), TTW is invaluable for Frost Mages and will generally be kept up all the time by the main or OT (Source).
â€¢ 5/5 ??? Nothing on the first tier of Arcane is useful for Frost mages, but you have to put 5 points here somewhere, pick anything.
â€¢ 3/5 to 5/5 Arcane Concentration provides a lot of additional mana efficiency â€“ but that is generally only needed on extended trash pulls with lots of AoE. If you donâ€™t take Magic Absorbtion below then youâ€™ll likely put 5 points here.
â€¢ 2/2 Magic Absorption is a great survival talent and at the moment I'd say you should prefer 2 points in this to 5/5 Arcane Concentration because the extra mana just isnâ€™t useful, but that may depend your own gearing as much as anything. An extra 80 resist all equates to about a 10% overall damage reduction.
â€¢ 1/1 Focus Magic is a nice dps increase for yourself and could be even better to other classes (especially Fire/FrostFire Mages). Itâ€™s also generally expected that all Mages (except FrostFire) will spec for this talent to help out Raid utility for someone else.
â€¢ 3/3 Student of the Mind â€“ now that additional Sprit = Crit, this is actually a DPS talent, but it's not very much.
â€¢ 0/3 Spell Impact may look useful, but it's incredibly poor for damage, per point it's worth maybe 3-5 dps (same as Student of the Mind). But it doesn't pump up your Frostbolts of FrostFireBolts, so points here are completely wasted on everything we should be casting.
â€¢ 0/2 Magic Attunement grants, on Amplify Magic friendly fights at least, an extra +127 healing for the raid. But this is generally better to be provided by Arcane mages who take the talent for extended range anyway. Still if you want to take this over SotM for some specific encounters, then go ahead.
â€¢ 3/3 Torment the Weak (TTW), finally a great spell. This is a solid 12% boost to our main nuke, and it even applies to any frostfireballs we may be casting from Brain Freeze too. This is the whole reason to drop 18+ points into the Arcane tree.
â€¢ 0/2 Improved Counterspell is great for PvP and even useful in niche encounters like the faction champions in ToC. Raiding Frost Mages generally donâ€™t take it, or get any use out of it, but you could move 2 down to here if you really wanted to.
You effectively end up 1 talent point short to get everything want in your build and still build in a little bit of the flavor talents. Maxing Ice Floes, and Cold as Ice do reduce cool downs on some dps talents, but the dps gains are very small and only come into play if the fight length hits some specific windows (more than 6 minutes). You could pull the point out of Artic Reach, Imp Blizzard, Ice Barrier or Enduring Winter depending on what you really, but the dps gained is want to do with your build and whether your party/raid needs you to provide replenishment or not. Many people play frost mages because they enjoy more of the snares and roots that Frost Mages provide. Personally I, took the point out of Cold as Ice. If you want to pull all the points out of Ice Floes and Cold and Ice to pick up some points on something like permafrost, more imp blizzard, shattered barrier, or frostbite you wonâ€™t really notice any dps change by sliding a few points around in the frost tree.
Glyph of Frostbolt is your first choice. Yes you lose your snare so you maybe have some adjustments to make in your grinding and pvp behavior (i.e. begin with a FrostFire bolt when soloing). Keep in mind that this does effectively kill your ability to be a designated kiter on raids. I keep a few of these in my backpack in case I need to cancel it mid-raid and apply it again later.
Glyph of Molten Armor is your second choice. When raid buffed you are unlikely to be wanting for mana, and even if you're forced to use Mage Armor for the added spell resistance in certain situations, there won't be any additional benefit in glyphing it.
Glyph of Eternal Water is your third choice for maximum DPS. Yes the loss of a ranged AOE root can hurt, but a permanent WE can do more than 1000dps now that they scale with their masters stats.
Glyph of Ice Lance may be valuable as well. But the analysis has shown that even with the glyph, casting an Ice Lance is still a DPS loss when compared to pure Frostbolt spam. (Source) But in cases where you may cancel your Glyph of Frostbolt to do some dedicated kiting (Blood Beasts on Saurafang, Zombies on Valantria) then this would be your next best option.
Just for the sake of completeness -
Glyph of Fireball and Glyph of FrostFireBolt may look useful to boost your damage on Brain Freeze proc's, but they are both worth less damage than anything above.
I wouldnâ€™t insult you by calling it a â€œrotationâ€. Frost Mages just spam Frostbolts without much regard to anything else. Deep Freeze is the main exception â€“ cast deep freeze every time its up. The only other exception is Brain Freeze FrostFireBolts - they are very minor gain or loss early in your life as a level 80, but once you get 2pc T10, they are totally worth it again - cast these every time they're up too. The 2pc T10 set bonus is just plain sexy. "Your Hot Streak, Missile Barrage, and Brain Freeze talents also grant you 12% haste for 5 sec when the effect of the talent is consumed."
On trash, Blizzard will result in higher overall dps than pure Frostbolt spam on as few as 3 targets while spreading threat more evenly. Due to the interaction between FoF and Imp Blizzard you'll see a very high number of crits with 1 point in Imp Blizzard. Blizzard is also the quickest way to apply 5 stacks of Winter's Chill, and of course it applies to every target hit.
Use of cooldowns
The most important part is to use your cool downs in coordination with Blood Lust/Heroism. Many guilds will use Blood Lust near the opening of a fight in order to allow all the DPS to time their cool downs around it easily. If you know that your guild will be using Blood Lust at some later in the fight, be sure to use your cold snap to synchronize your cool downs later in the fight.
Summon Water Elemental starts a global cooldown, and the pet itself can gain stats dynamically. This means that you'll want to summon it and buff it before the pull and then make it attack your target immediately (see macro below).
The First thing to do after the pull is to get a stack of 5 Winter's Chill on the boss; I'm personally using Blizzard for this and cutting it short after 5 hits. Then follow with your Icy Veins/Consumable/Trinket macro. Mirror Images are best to stack with a clicky spellpower trinket since that is the only stat they scale with. You may want to cast them just before the pull to save the Global Cooldown (GCD) though. The dps they gave you is pretty minor - they are used as more of a way to normalize your threat early in the encounter where a miss by the tank may allow you to pull threat. If you have a second clicky trinket use it immediately after the first trinket is done.
I generally cold snap immediately after using my macro (havenâ€™t gotten it to work as the last item in my macro for some reason) so that I can cast icy veins again soon.
Of course, bosses with phases, portals and so on might need a different approach. Make sure before a boss pull that you understand what length timers each boss ability is on, then you can plan your cooldowns around these.
Gear and stat weighting
In T6/Sunwell gear, using an 18-0-53 spec, Rawr showed the following stat values on a raid buffed 5 minute fight (3.08 numbers).
1 hit rating = 1.11 dps (until capped*)
1 spell power = 0.99 dps
1 haste rating = 0.64 dps
1 crit rating = 0.36 dps
1 intellect = 0.11 dps
*note that spirit was not a DPS stat until 3.1
For 3.1.3 gear and mechanics the best DPS deep frost build with 1/3 Enduring Winter is 20/0/51
When equipped with the best Naxx-25 gear (T7.5, including hardmodes), the best DPS those values changed to.
1 hit rating = 1.68 dps (until capped*)
1 spell power = 1.30 dps
1 haste rating = 1.18 dps
1 crit rating = 0.66 dps
1 spirit = 0.40 dps
1 intellect = 0.18 dps
When equipped with the best Ulduar-25 (T8.5, including hardmodes)
1 hit rating = 2.25dps (until capped*)
1 spell power = 1.32 dps
1 haste rating = 1.32 dps
1 crit rating = 0.72 dps
1 spirit = 0.48 dps
1 intellect = 0.22 dps
For 3.3 with BiS ToGC (T9.5) gear (not all ICC gear is known as of the time this is posted)
1 hit rating = 3.19dps (until capped*)
1 spell power = 1.73 dps
1 haste rating = 1.61 dps
1 crit rating = 0.80 dps
1 spirit = 0.78 dps (slightly inflated because of the T9 bonus to molten armor)
1 intellect = 0.27 dps
* - Presuming you take elemental precision and there are shadow priests / boomkins in the raid, you'll need 11% hit to cap (289 rating), or 10% (263 rating) if you are a draenei or are partied with one.
For gear stats it's obvious for maximizing dps that you should priorities hit and spellpower over all other stats. Haste becomes equal in valuable to spell power once you have more than 3800 spell power (not currently possible except with multiple â€œon procâ€ effects). Crit continues to be about Â½ as valuable as haste/spell power. Overall you are still best off taking gear without spirit in favor or more spellpower/hit/haste/crit as it is of little value for Frost Mages.
For gems however the situation is more complex since the item budget favors mixed gem types. Overall, Runed red gems (23 spell power) are slightly more valuable then Reckless orange gems (10 haste, 12 spell power), but it's very close and may be dependant on your exact gearing. If you have very low hit rating, then use Veiled orange gems (spell power and hit).
RAWR is your best option to make sure you you're as optimized as possible. But in general - for Red or Yellow sockets - you should always gem for the for the bonus. The value of Runed, pure spellpower (red) vs Reckless, spell power + haste (orange) makes them both pretty much equal. If you can get the bonus by using one of these - go for it. Even somthing like +3 int will probably be worth it. For a blue socket though you need to get a bonus of at least +7 spellpower, +7 haste or +5 hit rating (that doesn't put you over the cap) to make it worthwhile - otherwise just socket a runed/reckless gem instead. You will need 2 blue gems somewhere to meet your meta gem requirements - use two purified (purple) gems in slots with the best socket bonus.
For your meta gem, the Chaotic Skyflare Diamond, is the best option. Nothing really comes close. In fact the 2nd best option is the old Skyfire Diamond from level 70 days.
The set bonus from 4T6 was very good since it's an (additive) 5% dps boost for both Frostbolt and Fireball. Rawr estimates this bonus as around 170 dps. The best items to use are of course the 3 Sunwell T6 pieces, as they offer the least loss compared to T7 level gear. For the 4th piece, you can choose it depending on your hit rating and of course which items you pick up in Naxx. I'd suggest using the Rawr Optimiser to see which combination works out best for you. As far as I can see in Rawr, best-in-slot Naxx-25 gear is only ~100 dps improvement on using 4T6, until you get into the â€œhard modeâ€ content. So it looks advantageous to save your dkp for The Turning Tide rather than new boots.
Both the 2pc T7/7.5 and 4pc T7/7.5 bonuses are useful. 3 of the 5 T7/7.5 pieces are well itemized for Frost Mages. Neither the Head nor Cheast piece are particularly good in their own right, but the 4pc bonus is more important than the small upgrade's available by choosing a better itemized piece of gear. Given the option, the Chest, Hands, Legs and Shoulders are the 4 best pieces to get allowing you to choose from amoung the multiple head pieces that are better than the tier 7/7.5 head.
For Tier 8/8.5, the 2pc bonus is useful, but there is no DPS increase for the 4pc T8/8.5. As you gear up in Ulduar, you will likely find yourself with 2pc T7.5 and 2pc T8/8.5 for some time. The tier 8.5 hands are very well itemized for frost mages. Combine these with the chest to get the 2pc bonus.
For Tier 9/9.25/9.5 both the 2pc and 4pc bonus are useful.
For Tier 10/10.25/10.5 both the 2pc and 4pc bonus are useful. Once you aquire 2p T10, Brain Freeze becomes a signifigant dps talent again (about 200-300 dps total).
Frost spec isn't different from any other dps caster at the moment. Here are the items you'll want to take to raids.
(187 spellpower if you are a mixologist);
, or all provide the biggest DPS buff. If you are more than 40 hit rating under cap however, use
can be worth 25-50dps if stacked with Heroism/Bloodlust and Icy Veins, but the utility of health and mana potions can't be overlooked either.
Tailoring is a clear win for Mages and is generally useful outside of its profession specific bonus. Beyond that JC, Alchemy, Enchanting, Inscription and Alchemy all have very similar bonuses and are generally useful professions for mages. Engineering has slightly less value than the professions above and conflicts with the Tailoring cloak enchant. There is no longer any significant DPS reason to take Blacksmithing or Leather Working over other more mage friendly professions.
* Tailoring: +51 spell power equivalent (73.75 spellpower, -23 haste. Assumes 1/4 uptime for lightweave proc, 295 spellpower for 15s out of 60s)
* Jewelcrafting: +48 spellpower (3x 39sp instead of 3x 23sp)
* Alchemy: +47 spellpower (172sp flask w/ mixology vs 125 baseline)
* Blacksmithing: +46 spellpower (2x 23sp epic gems in extra sockets)
* Enchanting: +46 spellpower (23sp x 2 rings)
* Inscription: +46 spellpower (70sp vs 24sp on epic Sons inscription)
* Leatherworking: +46 spellpower (76sp fur lining - 30sp enchant)
* Engineering: +44 spell power equivalent (+45 haste, -1 spellpower [+27sp -23haste on cloak, -28sp +68haste on gloves], also gets a burst of speed basically once per boss fight when using Icewalker instead of runspeed, which could come in minor handy for raiding)
* Skinning: +20 spell power equivalent (+40 crit)
* Mining: +60 stamina (no direct effect on DPS)
* Herbalism: +3600 healing over 5 seconds (no effect on DPS
I generally have one macro to synchronize my trinkets, mirror images and Icy Veins â€“ use this in combination with Blood Lust â€“ just remember to cast your WE first.
/use potion of speed (optional)
/cast icy veins
/cast mirror image
Iâ€™ve also seen ones like this. Standard frostbolt macro. /petattack makes it so that your frost elemental follows your target.
/cast Icy Veins
Aggro wipe. Hit once to go invisible. Hit again to get back to the fight after aggro has been wiped.
Basically the Warlock forums noted that you gain a dps increase if you macro force your Imp to cast it's Fireball. Lhiv confirmed that this also works with the Water Elemental.
Originally Posted by Lhivera
Trial 1, no /use Waterbolt:
59 casts in 3 minutes, 13 seconds (3.27 seconds per cast)
Trial 2, /use Waterbolt in Frostbolt macro, spammed:
65 casts in 2 minutes, 47 seconds (2.57 seconds per cast)
Water Elemental DPS increase: 27.2%
The DPS gained seems to be sporadic, but it does seem to universally make your WE cast more waterbolts for some reason. The best method is to set up a macro on your Frostbolt
Bugs, features and other issues
You can see Roywyn's thread for all these issues, here are the ones which might currently apply to a frost mage.
Fingers of Frost
Fingers of Frost and Frostbite will always proc simultaneously if specâ€™d for both. This is intentional by design. The idea of the talent to make Frostbite useful in raids and some other situation where mobs/players do not stay frozen.
While lacking overall DPS, Raiding as Frost is possible again, if only in niche encounters.
Frost would be the superior choice in:
- Encounters in which using Ice Barrier is useful enough to reduce DPS by spending GCD's on it.
- Encounters that require a large amount of AOE.
- Encounters in which a 35% AOE snare is useful.
- Encounters that need a dedicated kiter (so long as the frost mage removes the glyph of frostbolt)
- Encounters in which active mana regeneration effects don't work.
- Encounters in which having 2 ice blocks in short succession is useful.
- Multi-Boxers who need the simplified shot rotation
Arcane or Fire would be the superior choice in:
- Any encounter that contains movement.
- Any encounter that requires maximum DPS
- Any encounter that kills pets.
- Any encounter in which DPS near the end of the fight is more important than DPS in the rest of the fight.
- Any encounter in which passive pushback protection is useful.
Frost does indeed have Replenishment and marginally more survivability. But it's more than 10% lower than Arcane or Fire in a short Patchwerk-style encounter so for the majority of encounters, it remains too low for most people to consider it a viable choice.
Disclaimer: whenever I have mentioned 'dps' increases I'm presuming a properly raid buffed 5 minute boss fight with little or no AoE nor movement. Of course, real raiding isn't all Brutallus and Patchwerk, so your mileage may vary. Use a simulator such as Rawr.mage to get estimates for your particular situation. Or test on a target dummy
Not all the information is available for 3.3 gear or encounters as of the time of this post. Specifically Iâ€™d still like to include numbers for BiS T10 gear.
Please feel free to make comments, suggestions or corrections.