3.1 and the Replenishing Frost Mage

Straight from the Blizzard’s mouth:

  • Improved Water Elemental – this talent has been removed and replaced with a new talent that grants Replenishment (similar to Shadow priests).
  • We are also working on a way to give frost mages Ice Lance “Shatter combos” in PvE.
  • We are also working on more survivability for Fire spec in PvP.
  • We are also working on making Spirit a more useful and interesting stat for all mages.

I totally called the Water Elemental Replenishment.  But overall, is it as great as it looks?  Please keep in mind that this rant is not at all comprehensive, and is subject to change.

After the break: replenishment, shatter, mana regeneration

Water Elemental…this a good thing, right?

I’ve always been an advocate of Frost Mage utility, and it only makes sense that replenishment as a mechanic should be spread out between more classes in specific trees.  We’ve seen this already in Warlocks, whose destruction Tree seems to be more Frost-like each passing day.

However, the Improved Water Elemental Talent being removed entirely greatly affects the usefulness of the replenishment buff itself.  Shadow Priests, Retribution Paladins, and Survival Hunters are all capable of keeping their replenishment up for prolonged periods of time, and are capable of keeping them up for as much as 100% of the time.

Water Elementals, on the other hand, have a limited duration, and are already vulnerable to AoE damage.  Reducing the uptime via removal of the duration part of the IWE talent not only makes little sense from a replenishment perspective, but also nerfs the Frost Mage’s damage by a considerable amount as well.

This is only expected, since utility and damage potential are a tradeoff in class design.  But, if the uptime is as bad as it is, only time will tell whether or not the limited replenishment uptime is worth the DPS decrease.

Or maybe I’m just wrong about the whole thing.  Maybe they didn’t intend on nerfing the uptime.  It doesn’t exactly make sense really, since 1 minute duration/2 minute cooldown just fits so well as far cooldowns are concerned.

A Shattered Follow-Up

As far as I’m concerned, making shatter combos PvE viable is the best way to improve Frost DPS.  It will be very difficult to find that balance between making Ice Lance better in PvE without making it ridiculously broken in PvP.  For PvP balance reasons, it can’t come in the form of a baseline increase in Ice Lance damage.

Simply put, it comes back to changing the mechanics of Fingers of Frost.  In its current iteration, proccing a crit chance increase to the next two frost spells merely encourages dual frostbolts without the Ice Lance at higher spellpower levels, since poor damage scaling rendered Ice lance as a waste of a global cooldown.

The solution can be as simple as removing the next Ice Lance from the global cooldown when Finger of Frost procs.  It might not result in the desired DPS increase, but it’s a start.

All in all, the fact that blizzard wants “shatter procs” to be the playstyle of a raiding Frost mage is a huge boon in my book.  There’s so much talk from mages that want to improve Frost PvE by altering its playstyle radically.  If I wanted to constantly apply and reapply debuffs, then  I would have specced arcane, thank you very much.

Props to Blizzard for identifying the Frost Mage niche, and attempting to improve what they do best.

Fire?  What Fire?

Fire survivability in PvP?  In my Frost mage blog?  It’s not as likely as you think.  Buff PvP = Nerf PvE.  Don’t believe me?  Take a look at frost mages, but don’t get me started on arcane!  Next!

That’s the Spirit

Critical QQ is a really great blog that brings up many issues regarding the state of the Mage class.  Rip, I love your blog, and your posts on spirit have definitely raised an eyebrow on this side of the computer screen.  Quite handily enough, his butter and marmalade methods seem to have come to fruition in the form of changes to Pyromaniac and Evocation, respectively.

But for frost mages, mana regeneration not a problem.  If anything, too MUCH regeneration is actually a problem.  Earlier tonight, I did 25-man Patchwerk with my guild, and at the end of the fight, I was still at 85% mana, and that was after two Heroisms and 3 Icy veins.  I was popping mana gems just for the T7 bonus, rather than getting mana back, and timing its cooldown accordingly.

If anything, Spirit can kill two birds with one stone in the frost tree by addressing mana expenditure AND increasing DPS.  How?  Haste.  In the same way Intellect converts into spell power, introduce or modify a deep frost talent that increases haste by a percentage of your spirit.

A likely candidate?  How about Arctic Winds?  It fits the name of the talent, and has a large number of ranks.  Perhaps something along the lines of increasing haste by 8/16/24/32/40% of your spirit is a very good (if not OP) buff to frost mage DPS while making spirit a useful stat to stack, since haste helps the cryomancer burn through his mana faster.

Looking to the Future

Despite the vagueness in the devellopment team’s plans for Frost Mages (and mages in general)

In 3.1, Frost Mages will become more comparable to Shadow Priests in DPS since they are both cloth-wearing casters that provide the replenishment buff, an adequate source of DPS, and will utilize Spirit gear to increase their DPS.

The means of providing said assets are different, but the numbers are measurable and are adjustable to the needs of the class devellopers and the people who play those classes.  The onus will be on those devellopers to be sure that these numbers will balance by the time Ulduar comes out.

I for one welcome our Mind Flaying overlords.

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11 thoughts on “3.1 and the Replenishing Frost Mage

  1. I think the new Replenishment talent isn’t going to be tied to the WE. The blue post doesn’t say it’s tied to the WE, although you might infer that since it’s replacing Imp WE. They’re not going to give Mages a watered-down version of a critical buff that other classes have.

  2. I agree with Austin’s read – I think the replenishment will no longer be tied to the elemental being alive. Hopefully we’ll get a good mana sink or several if they’re going to give a spec that can’t spend mana fast enough yet more mana.

    As to the elemental’s uptime, it’s possible that they WANT to reduce the elemental’s contribution to Frost DPS in order to pave the way for improving the DPS elsewhere (i.e. shatter combos). I’m not sure it’ll end up being a good trade (if nothing else, 1 minute elemental duration is excellent for soloing elites and instances), but it would make sense in the big picture.

  3. Fish: Don’t count on it. Blizzard snare was just ridiculous pre-nerf. But now, for some reason, the maximum snare is worse than it was before the 51-point talents were introduced.

    I suppose that’s to balance out the fact that blizzard became critable. It’s balanced within reason, so I’ve made my peace with it. All you AoE grinders out there will have to try a little harder to show your skills =)

  4. Pingback: The Mana Battery gone flat. « Pugnacious Priest’s Warcraft Blog

  5. the replenishment is NOT caused by WE replenishment procs everytime frostbolt hits the target so in most cases the replenishment should be up 100% of the time in a boss fight seeing as it lasts 15 seconds and there is no reason why any frost mage should not hit the boss with another frost bolt in that time frame. exept of course unclean in naxx were you need to dance but even then you can use your rank 1 FB which is about a 1sec cast to keep the replenishment up while being able to keep dancing without getting hit.

  6. Yep. We know that now, but we didn’t know what would trigger replenishment at the time this post was made. I’m excited that it’s as simple as frostbolt, though.

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