Mages get two signature abilities for specializing in the frost tree.
Summon Water Elemental: Summon a Water Elemental to fight for the caster.
Frost Specialization : Increases the damage of your Frost spells by 25%.
One of the big changes in Cata is that pet scaling is suppose to be fixed, meaning that pets scale as equally as possible with buffs and donâ€™t double dip. For the most part this is implemented. Current scaling on the water elemental in the beta has been reported as follows.
- Health and Mana: 50%
- Armor: 0%
- Spell Power: 40% but this may be academic. Waterbolt may get 1/3 of the mageâ€™s spell power and the spell power of the elemental itself is ignored.
- Hit, Crit, Haste: 100%
- Mastery: 0% but Ghostcrawler is indicated that mastery will â€œscaleâ€ as pure damage for trees where sharing the actual mastery would be complicated / illogical.
- Cit damage: 200%.
Improved Freeze : Gives your Water Elemental's Freeze spell a 100% chance to grant 2 charges of Fingers of Frost.
The frost mastery is termed Frostburn.
Frostburn : All your spells deal 20% increased damage against Frozen targets. Each point of Mastery increases damage by an additional 2.5%.
It should be noted that Frostburn has been changed from previous beta builds. It is no longer a debuff applied by frostbolt. It is a straight-up damage multiplier to frozen targets. As expected In this case, targets are considered frozen for the standard list of affected spells when Fingers of Frost is active.
Mages get three new spells at levels 81, 83, and 85. Frost is in the enviable position that it is able to take full advantage of all three of the new spells (when the appropriate talent points are chosen.)
Flame Orb [Level 81] : Launches a Flame Orb forward from the Mage's position, dealing 228 Fire damage every second to the closest enemy target for 15 secs.
A Tier 6 talent turns Flame Orb into Frostfire Orb. This had a number of repercussions. One, Frostfire Orb (FFO) benefits from the Frost Specialization, so damage increases by 25%. Two, the orb attack chills and the snare is very strong. Three, this chill can proc Fingers of Frost and Brain Freeze. Four, the cooldown on FFO is reset by the Cold Snap talent. All in all, FFO is a useful spell with good synergy with other frost talents. It becomes a "regular" part of the raiding rotation (see below).
Ring of Frost [Level 83] : Summons a Ring of Frost, taking 3 sec to coalesce. Enemies entering the fully-formed ring will become frozen for 10 sec. Lasts 12 sec. 10 yd radius.
This spell has changed repeatedly during the course of the beta but has ended up in as a pretty unique and effective utility spell. The targets frozen by the ring are indeed considered frozen for talents such as Shatter and Deep Freeze and the freeze effect breaks on damage much like all such effects. The ring will reapply the freeze if the target crosses the ring a second time, but the pulse between freezes is slow enough that this shouldn't be considered overpowered. The spell has obvious uses in PvP and while soloing. PvE uses are probably less frequent but the spell has the potential to be very effective in the right situations in 5-man and raiding environments as well.
Time Warp [Level 85] : Warp the flow of time, increasing melee, ranged, and spell casting speed by 30% for all party and raid members. Lasts 40 sec. Allies receiving this effect will become unstuck in time, and be unable to benefit from Bloodlust, Heroism, or Time Warp again for 10 min.
Yes, mages get heroism. There has been a lot of whining on the forums on both sides about Time Warp. Other classes thing isn't fair that mages get it. Mages complain that the spell is just a repeat of what shamans can do (and special hunter pets) and that we were robbed of a new, unique level 85 ability. Both of these arguments are rather weak.
The fact remains that 10-man raiding, if it doesn't eclipse 25-man raiding in popularity, will still be much more common and much more important in Cataclysm. It is not reasonable to build 10-man raids and always have a shaman present. With 10-man content tuned to be as challenging as 25-man content, it isn't acceptable to have groups without access to heroism. Mages won the lottery of which other class gets to bring heroism to the party.
It should be noted that having heroism also will affect arena teams (RMP gets heroism), 5-man dungeons (good for those achievements that require burst), and soloing. That last area should not be discounted--having heroism available should allow a mage to solo some pulls while questing that would otherwise require the help of a group.
Frost talents (as with all trees in Cata) have changed dramatically. The talent calculator can be found at wowhead or mmo-champion. Each talent will not be linked and discussed in detail, but notable changes and new talents are as follows.
Fingers of Frost : FoF now procs with a single charge but the proc rate has been increased to 20%. This is almost universally seen as an improvement. It makes the rotation feel more like real shatter combos, removes many instances of double instants in a rotation which felt awkward and procs happen quite frequently. The last point is important in that one of the complaints about frost in LK was that you could go forever without a proc.
Frostfire Orb : With one point, this talent changes the new Flame Orb spell and turns it into a Frostfire Orb. This allows the Frost Specialization of +25% damage to take effect. This is a big enough boost to make it a required talent and to make Frostfire Orb part of the â€œrotationâ€, being cast whenever the 1 min cooldown is up. The second point adds a chill effect to FFO and this chill effect can proc both Fingers of Frost and Brain Freeze. This can represent a significant (4%+) increase in damage assuming one can react to all the FoF/BF charges. Both points in this talent are now therefore required of any serious raiding build.
Brain Freeze : The notable change here is that instant cast FFBs under Brain Freeze now benefit from Fingers of Frost.
Piercing Chill : This is a new talent that has an interesting cleave-like mechanic associated with it. The basic effect is that frostbolt crits spread the chill effect to two nearby targets. But what seems a soloing / pvp utility talent has raiding implications because these chill effects can proc Brain Freeze and/or Fingers of Frost. So in â€œcleaveâ€ situations where there a few adds near the primary target, damage on the primary target is increased due to the increased number of procs. This is a unique and interesting form of cleave damage; damage goes up but only on the primary target--the adds are there to boost damage but are not themselves damaged.
Enduring Winter : This talent now combines the effects of two live talents. It provides a 10% reduction in mana costs to all spells and it adds a replenishment effect to frostbolt. This is a frost mages raid utility talent combined with a selfish benefit. It should be noted that the first point provides the full replenishment effect--the other two points are the selfish bonus only. If the additional mana reduction is not needed or the overall build picks up efficiency talents from the other trees, then Enduring Winter is probably a 1-point talent. There was discussion of frost mages getting 5% crit debuff raid utility but Ghostcrawler has recently indicated that such possible changes are currently not planned.
Raiding Talent Builds
An issue (or an advantage, depending on your point of view) frost currently has with raiding talent builds is that there seem to be very few logical choices for the discretionary points that all specs are suppose to have in Cata. The starting point for almost all builds is represented by the following partial spec.
23-point Base Spec
We are two points shy of getting to the next tier. One could make some arguments for other talents, but two points in Piercing Chill seems like the most obvious choice. This gives frost mages extra damage on boss fights with adds close to the boss. Once the next tier is unlocked, two points into Frostfire Orb. There are now three points to choose and these are about the only free points in a frost build. Logical choices would be Permafrost (for pet healing and the healing debuff), Enduring Winter (for more mana efficiency and Replenishment uptime), and perhaps Reactive Barrier (for survivability and to help out healer mana). After those three points, the remaining talents fall into place:
Complete Frost Raiding Spec
Ignite is simply too much of a damage improvement to pass up so that locks in most of the remaining points. The build as listed above probably runs with mage armor. If molten armor is to be used, then some of those three points in frost must be put in Enduring Winter and perhaps a point or two moved from Netherwind Presence to Clearcasting. Simulations are showing mana to be really tight without mage armor. So yes, 6-8 points in mana regen / efficiency talents may be required with molten armor.
The choices of glyphs is affected by the choice to run with molten armor or mage armor. When running with molten armor, the associated glyph is quite powerful until the 33% soft crit cap is reached. Obviously when running mage armor, a different glyph should be chosen. The following two glyphs are far more effective than any of the other choices and should be used in every possible case.
Glyph of Deep Freeze : Your Deep Freeze deals 20% additional damage.
Glyph of Frostfire : Increases the damage done by your Frostfire Bolt by 15% and your Frostfire Bolt now deals 3% additional damage over 12 sec, stacking up to 3 times, but no longer reduces the victim's movement speed..
If one is running molten armor, then the appropriate last glyph choice is:
Glyph of Molten Armor : Your Molten Armor grants an additional 2% spell critical strike chance.
Otherwise the correct last choice is:
Glyph of Frostbolt : Increases the critical strike chance of your Frostbolt spell by 5%.
The only other glyph under consideration is the Glyph of Ice Lance:
Glyph of Ice Lance : Increases the damage of your Ice Lance spell by 5%.
but current simulation results show Glyph of Frostbolt to be a larger DPS increase.
Tier 11 Set Bonuses
The initial set bonuses for Tier 11 have been released. From past experience, Blizzard rarely changes these during the beta process unless there is an obvious and egregious problem with them. The set bonuses for all classes seem to fit the "effective but not inspired" mold, which is what one might expect for the initial tier.
- 2P Bonus : Increases the critical strike chance of Arcane Missiles, Ice Lance, and Pyroblast by 5%. / Instant
- 4P Bonus : Reduces the cast time of Arcane Blast, Fireball, Frostfire Bolt, and Frostbolt by 10%. / Instant
Similarly haste levels are unlikely to be high enough that the 10% reduction in cast time pushes Frostbolt down to GCD levels--though this could be more problematic with Early Frost.
Perhaps the biggest news for frost in Cata is that there is an actual rotation to use in raiding and that there are enough levers to adjust that it is to be expected that frost damage should be raid-worthy without being overpowered in pvp. This is a huge change for frost. The current theorycrafted rotation can be expressed as a priority list. You are monitoring various procs and cooldowns and make your decisions based on the following rules.
- Frostfire Orb, if cooldown is up.
- Deep Freeze, if cooldown is up and Fingers of Frost is active.
- Frostfire Bolt, if Brain Freeze is active and Fingers of Frost is active.
- Ice Lance if Finger of Frost is active.
- Freeze, if cooldown is up, Deep Freeze cooldown is up, and Finger of Frost is not active.
External Links of Interest
EJ Cataclysm Mage Resource Thread