So What’s the Deal With Frost?

Today’s post was supposed to be one about my recent foray into the arcane spec, and why I was able to pump out almost a thousand more dps than my frost spec in similar gear.  The short end of it is that both Frost and Arcane have gotten opposite treatment as of late.  One is on the rise, and the other one is somewhat of a sitting duck.  There are a few reasons why, but I will call it the bread and butter dilemma.

After the break: problems, proposals, promises

The fall of Frostbolt

Let’s face it.  The only reason why you play frost at all in a PvE scenario is because of the joys of casting frostbolt over and over and over again.  And by Elune, that’s completely fine by me.  But there were a few things that have caused our blue blasts to fall out of favor with the mage community in the PvE setting.

#1: removal of ghost hit

Ghost hit, to those who are unfamiliar, is an old effect where investing points into the talent formerly known as elemental precision resulted in a 6% increased chance to hit instead of the normal 3.  This affected only frostbolt, and due to some unknown circumstances, was never addressed throughout the duration of the burning crusade.

For most raiding cryomancers, this resulted in a lower hit rating requirement, and for the beginning parts of raid progression, frost was hanging with the big boys in DPS due to itemization freedom, allowing it to gem and enchant for more spellpower and/or crit, instead of looking to get that extra 3%.  With the removal of ghost hit, frost is given very little room to wiggle around with.  And that leads directly to…

#2: itemization issues

Arcane loves intellect and spirit because its passive regen allows it to cast more spells and burn more mana.  Fire and Frostfire love critical strike rating because hot streak procs allow it to cast more spells and burn more mana.  Frost loves…spellpower?  Is that really right?  There’s definitely something wonky with the way itemization works out for the ice flingers.  The mechanics of its spells and talents do not strongly favor any particular talent, and do not scale well with any particular stat.  This results in reduced efficiency of gear, and an overall drop in DPS as the mage makes his progress through the tiered gear content.

#3: no mana dump

Despite being well-known as the best DPM spec, mana has become a non-issue in Wrath.  Classes are free to use their cooldowns on mana-consuming spells to increase their DPS and not have to worry about going OOM.  Arcane has arcane blast and a variety of instant-cast spells.  Fire has instant-cast pyroblast and living bomb.  Frostbolt’s best instant spell is Ice Lance, and at a specific gear level, ceases to contribute to DPS when inserted into a FoF rotation.

Frostbolts take 2.5 seconds to cast.  A fight lasts for no longer than 2 minutes for most heroic bosses (the only one I can think of is the last boss on Azjol Nerub), and while they last a bit longer in raids, frost mages always end up with a lot of mana left in the tank at the end of a fight.  That’s mana that could have been spent to increase DPS.

#4: pet problems

Okay, this isn’t really related to frostbolt, but the water elemental is riduculously wonky in this expansion.  It takes too much damage in some fights, but is unexplainably immune in others.  Why is it that I can have him out during Loken, and take no damage from the aura and lightning nova, but it is impossible to keep him alive during Faelina’s molten rain?  Automatic frost immunity is nice and all, but there is a ridiculous amount of inconsistency pertaining to pet survivability in PvE encounters.

#5: raid utility

A frost mage brings nothing to the table that other classes and specs can bring without being inferior to them in DPS or utility.  Winter’s chill is nice, but Frostfire mages have scorch, and they are miles ahead on the charts.  Mana regen is nice, but ret pallies, shadow priests, and survival hunters have a superior replenishment mechanic, and are capable of doing comparable, if not better DPS while keeping their mana up.

Make Frost Fun Again!

I’m sure that by now, many of you have looked down at this post as nothing but QQ, but as a die-hard frost mage, I simply do not enjoy being passed up on PuG spots for better classes (an issue I would like to address in a different article).  I don’t care about being on the top spots, but I do care about being there at all.  Here are my proposed solutions to each of the problems listed above.

#1: make frostbolt binary again

A binary spell is a spell that can only have two outcomes: full resist, or hit.  Partial resists reduce damage from a spell by a significant amount.  Since frostbolt had this quality prior to recent content, it would make sense to have this re-applied.  It doesn’t buff the damage in any significant way, but rather gives them back damage that they would otherwise lose due to resists.  Every little bit helps.  Ghost hit wasn’t intended, yet binary was.  Getting it back would be fair.

#2 make haste matter

Other than spellpower, the closest stat that benefits frost mages is haste.  While Critical Strike rating theoretically brings more DPS, frost mages have no problems getting their crits in thanks to fingers of frost and winter’s chill.  Flavor-wise, frost has another secondary sub-theme in haste, thanks to icy veins as well as icy talons in the death knight frost tree.  This could be fleshed out more.

For example, introduce a talent that increases haste rating by X percent for Y seconds whenever Z happens.  Z could be critical hit, partial resist, chance on miss, or if water elemental is out.

#3: Give blizzard a missile barrage effect

There’s no mana dump in the frost arsenal better than blizzard.  If given a cast reduction proc, it can do some serious damage to both single and multiple targets.  Mages are supposed to be kings of AoE anyways, this will certainly solidify its place while at the same time do considerable damage to a particular boss.  Imagine proccing this during Maexxna when the spiders come out?  Beautiful stuff.

#4: more pet resistance

I’m already at a thousand words, so this should explain itself.  Creative implementation could include, but not limit itself to, inheritance of the mage’s current armor.  Thus, inheriting mage armor can help with some sort of mitigation to aoe damage.

#5: give winter’s chill the old improved scorch effect

This makes sense from a dps standpoint as well as raid composition.  If you want to improve frostbolt’s damage, you could make winter’s chill increase frost vulnerability.  Since there are a lot of death knights in raids nowadays, it would be pretty neat to see them benefitting from the a frost mage’s presence.  This gives frost a compositional edge over frostfire, but on a situational basis.

With regards to mana regeneration, it wouldn’t hurt to just flat-out replace the elemental with the replenishment effect.  Had the old regen effect been increased, it would be too powerful because it stacked with replenishment.  Just by giving squirtle replenishment altogether, you don’t have to worry about any stacking.


Damn.  1200 words already?  I’ll make this quick by closing with a promise that this temporary switch to arcane is only temporary.  I originally tried it out simply because I was curious.  And now that I realize how different a playstyle it is than frost, I simply love it, but not as much as frost.  Before, I used to think that the concept of dual-specs didn’t really apply to mages in general, but the new arcane has opened up my eyes to that opportunity.

I love frost too much to give it up due to dps issues, but there is still some work to be done before we can be taken seriously, and not just be a “fun spec.”


7 thoughts on “So What’s the Deal With Frost?

  1. One thing that I wonder about is what effect the locale has on Frost spec.

    Remember Ahune and how seriously impossible it was to run that boss with a frost spec?

    I always wondered what that portended for the expansion since it would be the land of ice and snow, and one could likely expect frost giants and the lot to be resistant if not downright immune to frost attacks.

    TBH I always figured that was why Frostfire was invented in the first place – to give frost mages a little dignity once Blizz painted them into a corner like that.

    I haven’t had my mage in NR enough to really gather serious data on this so far, but a good WWS or Recount report showing how Frostbolt fared against icy foes might prove to be interesting.

  2. Bah! I was just about to comment on your former post that we might have another round of the war incoming since I’m seriously considering going back to arcane. Probably I’ll give it a shot later this week. And then you switch! There goes the three-perspectives-idea.

  3. @Grimm: I suppose that’s why they removed the binary effect. Instead of flat-out fully resisting the frostbolt, they wanted to cut us some slack and simply have partial resists. But the damage I’ve been dishing out while levelling seems to be fairly consistent, so there isn’t as many ice-hardy mobs out there as the northrend theme leads on.

    @Larisa: Feel free to take the arcane reins. I’m just having a little fun over here. The honeymoon will be over soon, though.

  4. Hmmmm then I wonder what it is that I’m doing so wrong that our frost mage consistantly out DPS’ me (frostfire) in our raid. If someone’s gonna pull aggro from the tank, it’s gonna be that little frost mage. Certainly not me.

    I was honestly thinking maybe I had made the wrong choice with the frostfire talent config and should of stuck with frost.

  5. @Des: The thing about frostfire is that it is very crit dependent. Given the same stats, Frostfire stays somewhat average, if not slightly higher than the other specs. But at higher crit ratings (approximately 25-30% before talents), Frostfire starts to really take off with the DPS. So I’m guessing that your gear might not be suited for FFB yet.

  6. I respec to arcane and its fun.

    Hopefully they will make some changes to frost to put it somewhat on par with the dps that arcane is doing right now. Frost is def my favorite spec.

  7. I know frost as a mage spec was almost “too easy” to level, I’d argue that in comparison to other classes, but why does blizz just seem to be smacking around frost with the nerf bat? I ❤ AoE grinding, why do they keep screwing with improved blizzard? And I agree, where is the frost mana dump? I want a frosty death button damnit!

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