Ice Lance, Revisited
So much for waiting to post tomorrow on this, I’m really excited about what has transpired on the PTR.
In short, this has been proposed as the solution to Shatter Comboing for PvE DPS.
Glyph of Ice Lance — Your Ice Lance now causes 4 times damage against frozen targets higher level than you instead of triple damage. (Old: Increases the range of your Ice Lance by 5 yards)
Hellooooo, nurse! That’s a very cool damage buff. How cool is it? Let’s take a look!
After the break: numbers, numbers, and more numbers!
The All-Purpose Ice Lance Damage Formula
I scoured the internet for the calculations for Ice Lance. With the help of WoWWiki, Zupa’s “actual damage” formula, and WoWHead, I’ve come up with the final damage formula for Ice Lance.
Final Damage = [Base Damage + (Spell Coefficient x Spell Damage Bonus)] x Talent Bonus x Crital Strike Bonus x Critical Strike Damage Bonus x Ice Lance Critical Strike Bonus
Still with me? Good. For the good of all that is holy, let’s break down each of the variables in the above equation.
The damage done by Ice Lance, according to the tooltip. Assuming that you are naked and without talents (0/0/0), you should be expecting to be doing this amount of damage per Ice Lance. Since it has a damage range, I will be using the average value, which is 242.5 damage at Rank 3.
Each individual spell has a set percentage value that modifies your spell damage from items, as shown in the equation above. Ice lance has a spell coefficient of 14.29%.
Spell Damage Bonus
This is the Spell Damage you receive from items or effects, such as raid buffs and currently equipped weapons, armor and jewelry. For demonstrative purposes, I have arbitrarily selected 1500 as the Spell Damage bonus for this calculation, which is a reasonable number for endgame raiding.
This is the increase in damage caused by talents. For a raiding Frost build, this includes fully ranked Piercing Ice and Arctic Winds, which have 6% and 5% damage bonuses, respectively. These bonuses are additive, meaning that the total talent bonus is 1.06 x 1.05 = 1.113
EDIT: *smacks head* I left out the arcane talent Spell Impact, which adds a 1.06 multplier bonus. Serves me right for having frosty tunnel vision. That brings the talent multiplier to 1.17978. Thanks, Tuna!
Critical Strike Percent
When a spell hits with a critical strike, the damage is multiplied by a certain amount. Normally, this is 150%, or 1.5. With Ice Shards, however, this critical strike percent bonus is 200% instead.
Critical Strike Damage Bonus
This multiplier is applied after the critical strike percentage bonus, and comes from two primary sources: Chaotic Skyflare Diamond, and the 4/5 tier 7 bonus. The CSD crit bonus is 3%, while the tier bonus is 5%. They stack together, providing a total of 8% if you have both of them in effect.
Ice Lance Critical Strike Bonus
Unglyphed, Ice Lance’s critical strike bonus is 300%, or 3, while the glyphed version is 400%, or 4.
I can has Ice Lance Mathz?
Let’s begin the comparison, step by step. First, we calculate the actual talented damage before ciritcal strike multipliers are applied.
Damage = [242.5 + (0.1428 x 1500)] x 1.17978 = 538.8
At 1500 spellpower, the actual damage is already twice as much as the base damage. Gotta love it.
Next, let’s apply the critical percent bonus. Remember that the bonus is 200%, or x2, thanks to ice Shards.
Critical Strike Bonus = 538.8 x 2 = 1077.6
The next step is to apply the critical damage bonus from CSD and the 4-piece tier 7 bonus. Since this critical bonus damage varies from different individuals based on their gear, I’ll include each possible scenario.
CSD Bonus = 1077.6 x 1.03 = 1109.9
T7 Bonus = 1077.6 x 1.05 = 1131.4
CSD and T7 Bonus = 1077.6x 1.08 = 1163.8
As you can see, only a few percentage points of crit bonus damage can really make a difference in the damage. Therefore, it is very important for your mage to have both bonuses in armor for maximum DPS. Of course, you wouldn’t want to skimp on a significant SP upgrade just to keep your bonus, since spellpower is the largest contributor of damage in the formula and thus DPS. CSD is a must, however.
Finally, let’s add the Ice Lance crit multiplier bonus, and the real difference can be seen.
No CSD or T7, Unglyphed = 1077.6 x 3 = 3232.8
Glyphed = 1077.6 x 4 = 4310.4
CSD, Unglyphed = 1109.9 x 3 = 3329.7
Glyphed = 1109.9 x 4 = 4439.6
T7, Unglyphed = 1131.4 x 3 = 3394.2
Glyphed = 1131.4 x 4 = 4525.6
CSD + T7, Unglyphed = 1163.8 x 3 = 3491.4
Glyphed = 1163.8 x 4 = 4655.2
Percentage-wise, the glyph will increase the damage of your critical Ice Lance spells by a factor of 66%, which makes sense, since 4 divided by 3 is 0.66, repeating of course.
What Does This Mean for Frost PvE?
This means a lot. Firstly, compared to the unglyphed version, A critical hit Ice Lance does about 1k more damage at 1500 spellpower when glyphed, and is only about 1.1k less damage than a critical hit Frostbolt (~4.6k Ice Lance versus ~5.7k Frostbolt).
Under previous circumstances, despite its damage being less than Frostbolt, Ice Lance was still worth using in shatter combos due to its instant cast time contributing to DPS, but only at certain gear levels. At a certain threshold, Frostbolt would do more dps simply because the scaling of Ice Lance made it a waste of a global cooldown.
But with the new glyph, this threshold should be a lot higher, and may not see effects until the end of the expansion, if at all. For Entry-level Ulduar purposes, assuming an unbuffed spell damage of about 2k, damage for Ice Lance and Frostbolt crits will be 5383 and 7271, respectively, which is nothing to sneeze at. When you fight Voltron for the first time, you will likely still want to do shatter combos.
But which glyph slot will be dropped? Glyph of Frostbolt will likely stay, since its damage contribution is apparently significant. I am led to believe that the uptime provided by Glyph of Water Elemental is more significant than the 3% bonus to Molten Armor, so it is likely to stay. However, with the reliance of Ice Lance on critical strike chance, keeping Glyph of Molten Armor seems to make sense from a synergy standpoint, but doesn’t seem to be enough to overcome the damage provided by Squirtle (praise elune!).
Is this glyph here to stay? I have a good feeling that it will, since the most interesting thing about the proposed Ice Lance glyph is the phrase, “targets higher level than you.” This means that while this is a tremendous (and needed) buff for PvE, its status in PvP is completely unchanged. However, if you are farming low-level mobs, Ice Lance will not be affected. Not that you care, you ARE farming with Blizzard, right? Thought so.
See you on the other side of the internether!