4.0 Frost Mage Pre-Cataclysm Raiding Guide

(Even though I’m not playing WoW at the moment, I still have enough experience from the Beta to be able to write this at all.  I know I said I’d stop blogging until Cataclysm, but I don’t want to leave you guys in the dust.  I’m also greedy for hits, so yeah.)

Talent Build

There is quite a bit of room for wiggle when going down the Frost tree, namely 2 points before entering the 3rd tier, 2 points before entering the 6th tier, and a whopping 5 points before hitting Deep Freeze.  This will change with the new expansion, but this guide is solely for pre-Cataclysm raiding.  Talents with x/2 or x/3 mean that they are optional, and you can put any number of your filler points in them.

Frost Tree

Early Frost x/2
The reason why this talent is optional is that a) it doesn’t happen often enough to be a noticeable DPS boost and b) at high levels of haste, the 0.7s cast-time reduction will lower the cast below the global cooldown during icy veins/heroism.

Piercing Ice 3/3
More crit is self-explanatory.  Synergous with Shatter.

Shatter 2/2
Fingers of Frost makes this talent a significant booster of your crit rating.  However, do take note that at 33.3 percent (repeating, of course) crit rating, shatter will bring it over 100 percent, making any excess points in crit less useful.  This applies to Ice Lance and Deep Freeze mostly, since Frostbolt and Brain Freeze’d Frostfire Bolts are usually cast when Fingers of Frost is not active.

Ice Floes 3/3
Cooldown-reducing talent that theoretically allows you to cast Icy Veins more often in longer fights.  DPS gain.

Improved Cone of Cold x/2
It has limited utility on fights where add management is necessary (i.e., Dreamwalker).  Awesome when soloing and AoE grinding.

Piercing Chill x/2
Utility is limited to fights where multiple targets are tanked at once (Anub’arak, Lady Deathwhisper), but is customizable to suit either 2 targets or 3 targets (main + 2adds)

Permafrost 2+x/3
I list this as 2+x, since you need 2 points to get to the next tier of talents, and so far, Permafrost provides the best utility of the talents shown so far.  Healing your Water Elemental is crucial for it to survive, since it provides a significant amount of DPS on its own, as well as giving you Improved Freeze, which allows for better Fingers of Frost uptime.  I suggest going 3/3, but you don’t necessarily have to.  The Mortal Strike debuff is also useful as well.

Ice Shards x/2
Limited to AoE fights where add control is necessary (Freya, Supressors on Dreamwalker).  Godly awesome for AoE grinding.  The Ice Lance range is somewhat useless and tacked-on, since the primary spell that activates a FoF’d Ice Lance is limited to 35 yards anyway.  There are better options.

Icy Veins 1/1
Mandatory for obvious reasons.  Thank god Arcane doesn’t have this spell anymore.  No offense, arcanists, but this is OUR spell.  Hands off.

Fingers of Frost 3/3
This talent is the backbone of our entire spec, and pretty much enables us to do the damage that we want.  It synergizes with our mastery, which now increases damage against frozen targets instead of that Frostbolt buff nonsense.  The main change here is that it grants only 1 charge per proc instead of 2, allowing you to do Shatter combos without accidentally granting a new stack of charges on the first Frostbolt cast.  Synergizes with pretty much everything else.  It also lets you access Improved Freeze.

Improved Freeze 3/3
Allows you to get FoF charges on demand when you need it at JUST the right time. Deep Freeze just came off of cooldown?  Fire off a Freeze, and cast it right away.  On the run for a particular amount of time?  Fire off a Freeze while moving, and spam Ice Lance while you run to your desired spot.  It has many uses, and you will come to love this spell.

Enduring winter 1+x/3
2 talent points allow you to keep 100% replenishment uptime, but the third point is alright for having cheaper spells.  Might be worth considering at 80 if you don’t want to spend points in Master of Elements or Arcane Concentration.

Cold Snap 1/1
Gives you an extra Deep Freeze/Ice Block/Icy Veins/Ice Barrier all at once.  You’d be unwise not to take this.

Brain Freeze 3/3
Free, insta-cast Frostfire Bolts are not only good for mana management, but also DPS as well as mobility.  This was the other cornerstone of the Frost build back in Wrath, and will still remain the same now.

Ice Barrier 1/1
Required, since it is a pre-requisite for Deep freeze.  It also enables you to choose between some neat Ice Barrier-centric talents.

Shattered Barrier x/2
AMAZING for soloing, but not useful at all in boss fights.  You shouldn’t have aggro on mobs anyway, so there really is no point in trying to use it.  However, since you have a bit of wiggle room in the new expansion, it’s always nice to have while levelling.

Reactive Barrier x/2
It doesn’t provide any DPS boost, but the utility of survivability talents such as this are always great in raid environments.  It doesn’t feel like it procs as often as it should, since it only happens at 50%, but the way healing is designed nowadays, it seems like it is worth looking at.

Frostfire Orb x/2
At level 85, this will become mandatory.  But in pre-expansion 4.0, it is only useful for the Frostfire Bolt snare.  This is because we don’t get Frostfire Orb until level 81 anyway.  Completely useless if you’re glyphed for Frostfire bolt, which removes the snare entirely.

Deep Freeze 1/1
Do not take this talent if you don’t like seeing 40k+ crits on ICC raid bosses.  Do not take this talent if you don’t like to purposely pull the boss from the tank 5 seconds into the fight by casting Freeze->Deep Freeze, thereby getting you kicked from your pug and possibly guild.  Do not take this talent if you don’t like having ridiculous amounts of control over PvP targets or in solo.  I swear, this talent just sucks monkey balls.

Off-Tree talents

You only get 5 extra points at level 80 to spend outside of the Frost tree, and I will tell you now that the only DPS-boosting talent available to you at the Wrath cap is Netherwind Presence, so put max points in that.  Take 2/2 Master of Elements if you wish for mana efficiency, since you’re critting a helluva lot.  2/3 Burning soul if you want some form of spell pushback protection, but from what I recall, there aren’t a lot of fights that have spell pushback mechanics.  I would probably put these extra 2 points back into the Frost tree.

Overall, you’ll be fine with a 3/0/33 build or a 3/2/31 build.  If you want to squeeze every last ounce of DPS on ANY fight, put your optional points in Early Frost and Piercing Chill.  If you want excellent control on fights with adds, put your optional points in Ice Shards and Improved Cone of Cold.  If you want excellent survivability, put points in Reactive and Shattered Barrier.  If you want mana efficiency, put points in Enduring Winter and Master of Elements.

Spell Priority List

When Stationary:
1.  Deep Freeze when Fingers of Frost is active
2.  Frostfire Bolt when Brain Freeze and Fingers of Frost are active.
3.  Ice Lance when Finger of Frost is active.
4.  Freeze when Deep Freeze is not on cooldown and Finger of Frost is not active.
5.  Frostbolt.

When Moving, replace #5 with ice Lance.  Notice that the priority remains generally the same, except that you have plenty of opportunities to have FoF uptime using Water Elemental’s Freeze.  Don’t forget to put up Ice Barrier as well while on the move if you’re out of range of the boss.

Using Freeze Effectively

Frost is unique as it is perhaps the only DPS spec (other than maybe beastmaster hunter) that relies on using pet abilities to further enable their spell rotation.  In order to make Freeze an effective part of your arsenal, you should minimize the use of mouseclicks to cast Freeze.  You can do this by changing your key definitions so that a single key is used to cast the spell instead of a ctrl+key combination.  My preferred method, however, is to create a macro shown below:

/use Freeze

This way, you can put the macro on your hotbar and move it around as you see fit.  Minimizing the amount of mouse clicking means you can pre-position your cursor at the feet of the boss, so you can immediately left-click to get the spell off.  Take note that Freeze has to hit an enemy NPC for Improved Freeze to take effect.  If you whiff completely, you will miss out on free Fingers of Frost charges.

Glyphs

Thanks to Frost Specialization, you no longer need to glyph for a permanent water elemental.  And thanks to Frost mastery, Ice Lance is once again useful.  Your new glyph setup should look like this:

1.  Glyph of Frostbolt – Increases Frostbolt crit chance
2. Glyph of Ice Lance – Increases Ice Lance damage
3a. Glyph of Molten Armor – Increases overall crit chance
3b. Glyph of Frostfire – replaces Molten Armor if you have greater than 33% crit, as excess crit rating make Ice Lance less effective.

Stats, ratings, etc.

I wouldn’t worry too much about what to stack, since I’m not exactly sure about what gear has what stats now.  Just take note of your crit rating, as it is affected by shatter.  Also, take note that the removal of the Precision talent, you will need to stack more Hit in order to be capped for the rest of the expansion.

(That’s pretty much it with the guide, it didn’t take too long to write, so I really don’t mind writing it despite not blogging anymore until Cata.  The release date is in December, so I will see you then!)

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35 thoughts on “4.0 Frost Mage Pre-Cataclysm Raiding Guide

    • I don’t know, and frankly, I don’t care. If you cared enough about the spec, then you wouldn’t be so ashamed of yourself for being Frost because of the damage you do. Just do it. If you’re not seeing the numbers initially, get better. It’s all about the player, not the limitations plced upon him because of the class/spec choice.

    • Well, I haven’t raided with it yet, but on the Heroic dummy in Org last night I was pulling 6.7kdps, over a 9 minute period. Yes, I have a 5.7k gear score, but I’m not heroic raid geared either.

      Admittedly, this was with everyone else having debuffed it, so it was at least the equivalent of a 10man raid. I did this while just fooling around and trying to figure this out on my own without reading Kriz’s advice. I think that, at least for right now, it’s a valid spec. Whether it will be @ 85 is yet to be seen.

    • after testing, apparently, we’re so valid that we might be getting nerfed. Though I can only imagine it would be happening to Fire and Arcane mages mostly. Frost feels on par with what the other specs were experiencing BEFORE the patch, so I hope it stays that way at least.

    • I saw that. I was very sad to see that, too. I was very happy with the DPS I was putting out as I ran instance after instance yesterday. I need to learn how to properly DPS as frost as well. I know I’m not managing my cooldowns properly, as well as not getting the freezes in from my pet.

      I just hope that we remain viable for the future.

    • I can say that I did not notice a severe loss in DPS. I was still easily pulling 7k without blowing any cooldowns. I do believe that the proc rate for Fingers of Frost may have been reduced, however, as it did not feel like it was going off as often. On the other hand, I was also saving it for FFB procs more regularly, so it could simply have been a “feel” issue. Hopefully we’ll have more details soon as to what was done.

    • The FoF proc rate was actually doubled from before, but only stacks charges one at a time. With Squirtle’s Freeze used every 30 or so seconds, your FoF rate should be considerably high.

  1. Hi, nice guide !

    I was wondering something about the spell priority list.
    Because most of proc spells are instant (deep freeze, ffb, ice lance), when I get procs, should I :
    - cast a frostbolt immediately followed by an instant spell
    - or just use only instant spells until I’ve got no procs left and start casting frostbolt again ?

    Thanks for your answer and again, for the guide =)

    • Based on my playing with it yesterday, using your instacasts (Deep Freeze, ice lance, ffb in that order, it seems) seems to result in best dps.

  2. Thanks for stopping by. You were missed.

    Here I was thinking that Frostfire orb was a variation of Flame orb, which I thought was trainable at level 35. I might need to tweak my build a little. :P

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  5. Aweful, Stop putting points in crit. Any pugged person in a guild is way over crit cap, especially in a raid environment. 33.3% x Shatter 2/2 = 100 crit, why go over that..??

    • I did mention the 33% crit cap, though. I also mentioned that one can go back under the cap by replacing Glyph of Molten Armor with Glyph of Frostfire. It’s a much better DPS gain than taking points out of crit talents and keeping the glyph, because there’s not a lot of other worthwhile DPS talents that we haven’t already picked up. Please read more thoroughly before making hasty criticisms.

  6. Holy crap. FoF and BF were proc’ing for me tons last night.

    I’m just over 33% Crit, slightly over hit cap, 736 haste. But I had those two talents popping up at me regularly.

    AND HOLY CRAP 13K ICE LANCE CRITS!

    Useful again – absolutely.

    Although I probably haven’t optimized my DPS, as my button mashing probably doesn’t match up with the priority list so well. :P

    Anwyay, Frost has gotten really fun!

    • I know! it was a little difficult getting to the 17% hit cap, but I’m glad I didn’t have to go back and use any old hit trinkets.

    • @ Jason

      I reforged my Mauradin’s Spyglass to bring down my Crit (as I was well above the soft-cap of 33%.

      I feel kinda bad for Arcane mages that have to go from 289 hit rating to 446. :P

    • @Jason

      My other spec WAS fire. I haven’t done my second spec yet. Seeing as that Frost and Arcane seem to enjoy the benefits of similar stats (ie: Haste>Crit), you should be okay without having to switch too much gear.

  7. I have been playing my frost mage now for over 4 years and have always played with a frost spec. I love frost! I am so happy that at last it will be a viable raiding spec (please dont nerf us).
    Can I hold my head up high now? I actually got dissed in VOA the other day for being a frost mage.

  8. RE: Valid Raiding Spec?

    A) Most fun and congruent – Yes
    B) Best Mage DPS – Maybe Not (but time might tell). Now frost spec is legitimate. Prior to 4.0 it was like hunter’s BM spec… nobody would take you seriously.

    • Arcane is still noticeably better, but for sure, Frost is not a “dead” spec anymore. And that’s all I can ask for, honestly.

    • I’ve been playing only frost since I was but a wee young mage, and I love it. I’ve always played it in raids, never been given a hard time – except once. When I wiped the floor with him (arcane mage thinking he knew all) as a frost mage I apologized profusely for “not knowing my ass from my elbow”. He apologized and asked me how to do it and he didn’t realize frost was viable. The changes since 3.3.3 and just before changed frost forever – these recent additions are just icing on the cake. Play what you like, it’s a game. Frost is a great, great spec to play – so fun.

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  10. I was wondering what you all thought about the rotation posted above? I’m unsure of casting ice lance when fingers of frost is up as you can only get maybe one or two off before fingers of frost debuffs. Dps wise is it not better to keep casting frost bolt? You can get off more of those. I really should get back to the dummy I suppose. I do love casting ice lance with finger of frost when i am on the run.
    I went to ICC the other night and my dps was at it’s highest ever with my frost spec. Yay!
    I will get back to the dummy and post my findings.
    Tracey

    • Frostbolt doesn’t get any improvement from FoF . The only spells that do are Ice Lance, Frostbolt, and Deep Freeze.

  11. Wut? “Frostbolt doesn’t get any improvement from FoF . The only spells that do are Ice Lance, Frostbolt, and Deep Freeze.”

    Anyways, nice post, I saw you running about just for a second last week I think. Don’t stay gone forever. :)

    Frost is still my prefered spec. I haven’t really been using the Freeze from Squirtle as much as I should I suppose, I’ll have to check into that more and Macro it. That’s for the tip.

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    • Don’t get too ahead of yourself. Our Frostbolt was pretty weak as a primary nuke, so they buffed it through our specialization. Our Fingers of Frost got a bit of a boost as well, which is nice. The nerf to Deep Freeze looks rough at first glance, but considering how infrequently we use it, the other buffs more than offset the nerf. Our DPS should look a bit better, or at least more normalized.

  13. Krizz, so you think I should go back to Ftost as main? Fire only seem to give me 10 – 11K DPS overall sofar with about 26.5% crit self buffed. I used to be so much comfortable with Frost!!!

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