3.3.3, Frost Magery, and You

Here’s the summary of the Frost-centric changes proposed for the upcoming patch:

  • Frostbolt: Spell power scaling on this spell has been increased by approximately 5%.
  • Brain Freeze: This talent now allows your next Fireball or Frostfire Bolt to be instant and cost no mana. There is a small internal cooldown to keep the Frostfire Bolt from immediately triggering Brain Freeze again.

There’s no argument that these two changes are welcome buffs for frost mages.  In theorycraft, Frost has been quite a ways behind Arcane and Fire in potential DPS, and even after the recent round of Frost buffs that include a permanent Water Elemental and an added damage component to Deep Freeze, Frost was still trailing by enough of a margin that DPS-optimizers have steered clear from their blue spells.

Do note, however, these are proposed changes on the PTR, and may not make it live in their current iteration.  There are several questions that need to be addressed before the devs make their final decision on setting these changes into stone.

1.  Will increasing Frostbolt damage make them overpowered in PvP?

There is an ongoing debate in the WoW community in regards to the effects of PvE and PvP mechanics in relation to each other, and whether or not said mechanics should be separated.  The development team has stated that for the time being, these mechanics will not be separated, and that class changes are and will be balanced around both settings.

With the increase in Frostbolt damage, there are murmurs that Frost Mages in PvP will be even more deadly than they presumably are.  With the ability to use shatter combos and the unrivaled control and ability to kite melee classes, some feel that increasing frostbolt damage will tip the scales even further in the PvP’ing cryomancer’s favour.

The counter-argument here is that the key strength in Frost Mage PvP is the control itself, and not the damage component.  Buffing Frostbolt, while increasing the mage’s damage output, will not fundamentally change his strategy in an arena or battleground setting.

Similarly, with the changes to resilience effective lowering the potential for burst damage, the increased frostbolt damage will be moderated by the new effects of resilience.  Perhaps it was this change to resilience that allowed the door to open for Frost to do more damage in a PvE setting while remaining balanced in PvP.

In my extremely limited PvP experience, I’ve had a reasonably much easier time kiting as frost, but still have troubles trying to find windows to unload my spells in the same way an arcane PvP mage would.

2.  Ditto question 1, but with Frostfire Bolt/Brain Freeze.

Of the two changes, the Brain Freeze buff is the one that I believe has a less of a chance to make it to the live realms.  As stated above, balancing abilities around PvP is important, and that Frost Mages are arguably stronger in their control than in their ability to do damage.  By adding Frostfire Bolt to the Brain Freeze proc, PvP mages are capable of increasing their control in kiting situations.

With a chill component inherent in the spell, adding Frostfire Bolt to Brain Freeze opens up more effects.  FFB can activate Fingers of Frost, Frostbite, Winter’s Chill, and Brain Freeze itself.  Thankfully, the devs understand that instant Frostfire Bolts proccing off of each other are an overpowered thing in PvP, so they added a necessary internal cooldown.

However, the ability to proc Frostbite and Fingers of Frost not only increase the PvP’ing mage’s ability to kite, but also to burst.  Adding FFB to Brain Freeze is a definite hands-down buff to Frost Mages in PvP with regards to their already-strong kiting abilities.  However, I believe that it’s not as big a buff as it seems.

Not so long ago, Brain Freeze used to proc off of any chilling effect, making free, instant-cast Fireballs proccing from Frost Armor quite potent against melee classes.  But it has since been nerfed so that it requires a damaging spell with a chilling effect to activate.

Now only Cone of Cold has the ability to proc a Brain Freeze, and with the combination of its cooldown and the reasonably low 15% proc rate of Brain Freeze, I cannot see this change to be game-changing.  The extent of the OP-ness of a PvP’ing frost mage will depend largely on the random number generator.

Balancing Buffs Around Other Buffs

If the Brain Freeze Change does not make it to the live servers, the damage buff to Frostbolt may not be a buff at all in the long run.  In higher gear-levels, particularly with the tier-10 bonus, the inclusion of Brain Freeze has only begun to become a dps gain for PvE Frost Mages.  Prior to 2t10, the use of an instant-cast Fireball did not provide a DPS gain.

Should Frostbolt be buffed again, the relative DPS loss of using Fireball during a Brain Freeze proc will be even greater than before.  As Lhivera pointed out in the forums, “If Frostbolt damage is increased, Brain Freeze must be buffed if it is to remain part of a Frost PvE rotation…[otherwise] Brain Freeze would no longer have a place in PvE DPS except for occasional mobile damage.”

While my opinion is that the PvP implications are not as severe as the naysayers in the forums are led to believe, I feel it is necessary for Frost PvE to remain viable at the very least in high-end raiding situations.  These two buffs will help ensure that the 10-man icecrown guild will not have to cringe when they have no choice but to bring a Frost Mage in lieu of other unavailable classes just because of the raid buffs they provide in the form of 3% spell crit and replenishment.

Having started Festergut with my 10-man guild, the extra damage increase will go a long way in contributing to beating his enrage timer, while at the same time keeping my survivability high and making it easier for our healing team to do their job in keeping the raid and the tanks alive.

In short, I welcome these needed changes, and hope that the data in the PTR show that the PvP implications will be minimized or nonexistent.

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4 thoughts on “3.3.3, Frost Magery, and You

  1. Ooohhh I need to read up on this. As a frost pvp’r (new but getting there) this makes very interesting reading.

    And yes I too hope that these make it to the live realms ;)

  2. Personally I find frost mage PVP awful. None of the spells do a shit of damage. The survivability is useless because it’s removed. Other people carry their defense around with them,

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