3.3 Proposed Frost Changes!

Build 10571 has proposed the following changes to Frost Mages for patch 3.3:

Frozen Core now also causes your Ice Lance criticals to reduce the cast time of your next Frostbolt or Frostfire Bolt by 0.4/0.7/1 sec.

Glyph of Eternal Water – Your Summon Water Elemental now lasts indefinitely, but your Water Elemental can no longer cast Freeze.

Seemed like a silly time for me to QQ last week, these appear at first glance to be attempts at improving PvE DPS performance.

My Water is Eternal

Not included in this build was the previous change to pets, giving them 90% AoE damage reduction.  Combined with this proposed glyph, which I assume will replace Glyph of Water Elemental, Squirtle seeks to stick around much longer.  With proper talents and glyphs, Elementals only lasted for 1 minute with a 2 minute cooldown on the cast, for an uptime of 50%.  With this glyph, we get 100% uptime.

Amazing.  As it stands, Summon Water Elemental contributes towards about 10% of DPS throughout a single boss encounter.  With the glyph, this number will go up a significant amount, and PTR testing should determine how much this contribution will increase.

That being said, the downside of the glyph is the inability for Squirtle to cast Freeze, its ranged AoE spell.  This precaution was included as a way to make the glyph unappealing to PvP.  This is a brilliant idea, as the major strength of Water Elementals in PvP is the ranged Frost Nova that it has, providing the mage with the ability to threaten a shatter combo by simply casting a frostbolt.

The only questions I have about this change is how soon Squirtle will run out of mana, and if it’s long enough to at least last for the 3 minutes necessary to resummon (normally 2 minutes, but the glyph change appears to remove the cooldown reduction).  Initial observations on the live realms suggest that by the time Squirtle’s duration is up, it only has a thousand or so mana left.  Either the waterbolt cost needs to be adjusted to address this, or the elemental’s maximum mana needs to scale a bit more with the mage’s maximum mana.  Both are feasable, but the dev team is already trying to work out pet scaling as a whole, so the latter might be more likely to come true.

Secondly, while I do embrace the prospect of a permanent pet, I certainly wonder about the inevitable comparisons to warlocks.  While it is one thing to have a reputation of “warlock wannabe,” I’ll very much have that if it means I won’t have a reputation of “terrible dps.”

Shattered Core

The other improvement is a proposed change to the talent Frozen Core.  For three talent points, Ice Lance criticals can lower your Frostbolt casting time by a whole second.  Is this the shatter-style rotation that Blizzard had in mind for frost PvE?  From the looks of it, the best time to fish out a Lance crit is when Fingers of Frost procs.

The main issue I see with this is the implications the change has on talent builds.  As it stands, there are only 3 flexible points in TTW Frost builds, each normally put in Improved Blizzard for AoE Fingers of Frost procs, Ice Barrier for survivability, and somewhere in Arcane for utility purposes.  With the changes to Frozen Core, it will likely be a must-have talent, reducing the wiggle room to zero.  Expect the new spec to look something like this:


Not a lot of flexibility here.  The spare talent in the second tier of the arcane tree is put into spell impact, since Ice Lance is now part of the Frost mage rotation.  In the frost tree, we lose the survivability and a little bit of oomph on AoE pulls in order to afford Frozen Core.  Alternatively, I’m sure you can take out talents here and there, such as Enduring Winter if the raid doesn’t need replenishment, and potentially cold as ice if the water elemental can last longer than 2 minutes, but it still does not solve the problem of talent bloat.

This is a bad thing, since we will continue to lose out on tier bonuses that affect Brain Freeze, namely the 4pc T8 and T9 bonuses.  However, from the looks of it, the molten armor bonus from 2pc T9 will probably be more appealing, since it increases the chance for Ice Lance to crit, so expect frost mages to favour a 2pc T9/2pc T10 gear setup.

Talent bloat aside, this improvement sounds ridiculously sexy.  Ignoring outside haste effects, Frostbolts look to cast as fast as 1.3 seconds after an Ice Lance crit.  At around 500 haste, the base casting time of Frostbolt goes down to about 2.0 seconds, making the “Fastbolt” cast come close to 1 second, the minimum time of a global cooldown.  With so much reduction in cast time, we as frost mages will probably start looking at a soft haste cap in the same manner as balance druids when they proc Nature’s grace.

While utterly pointless, I just want to mention that under the stacked effects of Icy Veins and Heroism, a Fastbolt can cast as quickly as less than half a second.

Suddenly Busy

A week ago, I posted a sorry little piece regarding my frustrations towards the state of frost magery in high end raids, and the dev team’s design philosophy towards frost mages in general.  The conensus problems with frost in PvE were generally along the lines of overall DPS performance and blandness of the frostbolt spam that made up a cryomancer’s rotation.  These two proposed changes to the frost mage’s arsenal aim to address both these problems.

Now, it is up to aspiring frost mages to let their voices be heard once again.  Blizzard is trying to throw us a life preserver, a nice frosty life preserver.  I urge you all to go on the PTR and test these changes out, both in PvE as well as PvP.  Whether or not these changes will be good enough for Frost to return to respectability will be in the hands of the testers themselves.  I for one am now intrigued by the goings-on in the PTR, and will be trying out these changes for sure.

My guess is that the DPS gain will be considerable, but still not on par with Fire and Arcane.  That’s okay.  As long as we’re respectable as a DPS producers, our utility through Winter’s Chill and Replenishment make us a credit to the raid.

While these proposed changes are not set in stone, something tells me that there’s a good chance that they will go live in some form.  Thank you blizzard.  Thank you so much.  I certainly look forward to these changes, and despite the problems that still persist with this spec, I will continue to love the frost tree with the passion of a thousand shatter combos.

  • Improved Scorch: The debuff from this talent no longer stacks, and instead can apply the full effect from a single cast of Scorch.
  • Frozen Core now also causes your Ice Lance criticals to reduce the cast time of your next Frostbolt or Frostfire Bolt by 0.4/0.7/1 sec.
  • Glyph of Improved Scorch is now named Glyph of Scorch and Increases the damage of your Scorch spell by 20%.
  • Glyph of Eternal Water – Your Summon Water Elemental now lasts indefinitely, but your Water Elemental can no longer cast Fre
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    16 thoughts on “3.3 Proposed Frost Changes!

    1. I find it striking how Frost will now have the two most punitive glyph drawbacks in the game (or even all three slots if you consider that the ice lance glyph only works on higher level foes). No frostbolt snare, no water elemental freeze (so now it’s basically a warlock imp without the stamina buff?), and no increased ice lance multiplier for anyone who mistakenly thought that survivability and control made it a good solo spec. But it’s a small price to pay for being able to deal subpar DPS in raids!

    2. Okay, don’t tell Ais I’m theorycrafting frost, but here are my thoughts on how to get more flexibility in the frost tree:
      1) dropping the 2 points in Cold Snap — you don’t need to reduce the WE CD if it’s permament. And even assuming we need to refresh it because of mana concerns, the default CD is probably fine for that, though time will tell. Losing 1.6 minutes on CS might hurt getting more Icy Veins in on extremely long fights, but we’d have to see.
      2) Enduring Winter — 1/3 is enough to keep replenishment active for a party, and you don’t need the extra duration of the water elemental from the talent if you’re rocking the Eternal Glyph.
      3) And here’s the crazy part — dropping 2 points in, um, Improved Frostbolt. Frost mages sporting T9/T8 are going to rocking some serious haste, and with the Frozen Core changes shaving more time off, why spend 2 points to shave off .2 seconds on a spell that very well may start bumping against haste cap? Especially if you consider the T10 set bonuses — frost mages could very well be looking at back-to-back GCDs, which, frankly, sucks.

      I’m not convinced it’s enough to bring frost up to competitive standards, but it certainly helps to stop punishing those mages who don’t raid as min/maxers.

      And hello!

    3. These changes really sound awesome to me and will definitely be getting me back into gearing up my frost mage to see if I can compete in the raiding game again. I have always been a real fan of frost and its been kind of a bummer to not really be competitive in the end game

    4. Good points Mateneira. I hadn’t considered imp. bolt or how enduring will be effected. Dropping all those points is a cool idea but doesn’t gain anything. Two have to stay on the first tier. We’ll need two of the others in frost optionals to reach CttB…and we’re back to live with a few leftover points to put in Floes, frostbite, imp. bliz, barrier, brain freeze, concentration, absorption.

      On the OPs proposed build, impact is terrible now and it’ll be terrible after. 2% buff on a low damage, occasionally cast spell? I’d do 2 absorption 4 concentration (personal preference), and 1 frostbite, 1 imp. blizz, ice barrier. We can only do two things well, barrier and make blizzard really hurt. I’ve got floes 2/3 on live. None of the talents’ ranks sync with anything else.

      Rant incoming

      I think these proposed changes suck. Even if I thought they’d bring us within ten percent of other specs (I don’t) I don’t like what they show about the designers’ thinking.

      Let’s unpack it a bit. The major glyphs now are FB, molten, WE.

      The only stat other than SP we scale with is haste so we stack haste and with an icy + hero, trinket proc, or haste pot we’re pressing close to or pegged at the GCD on bolt.

      The WE is up for a large percentage of boss time. 8-10% of DPS. Pet stat changes should help with the evil summon->dead to AOE instapetdeath.

      So on PTR we get: spend three talent points (and maybe a major glyph for lance; that’d drop molten) to cast lance to try to catch shatters at the end of occasional FoF procs to haste a nuke which may already be softcapped. Fan-tastic.

      The pet is better, to be sure. Assuming no oom time it looks like +10% range. A lot less on short fights. (+10% is WE, coldsnap WE, cooldown WE on a six minute fight)

      What drives me nuts is Blizzard’s stubbornness on frost. Us frost raiders have come up with zillions of clever ways (full time elemental was my least favorite of them; it meant a nerf to go with it, and yup, we’re getting exactly that) to buff us without breaking PvP (the lance change looks like a PvP buff to me, not a raid one) but they refuse to budge and keep pounding on the same dead end. We got it, you want us to cast ice lance and do shatter combos. You can’t directly buff it without wrecking PvP. You can’t let us freeze bosses. This is the second kludgy buff on top of the kludgy “target as frozen”. Give up already and start over. It. Was. A. Bad. Idea.

      Frosty power!

    5. Pingback: PTR Patch 3.3 – Permanent Water Elemental – Featured | Spicytuna

    6. The new changes won’t make us even with the Fire and Arcane Mages, but it will close the gap between our DPS.

      Not nearly there yet, but it is a step in the right direction.

    7. No way the frozen core buff goes live like that.
      It is meant as a pve buff but in the end its a strict pvp buff.
      And since frostmages are in a good place right now pvp wise I doubt they will keep that change.
      And in pve it will most likely result in a dps drop if you use icelance, especially with the haste you will have on gear at icecrown gear level.
      My hope is that they will change it to something that actually buffs pve dps… But something fun and active. With the water elemental glyph its another cd left unused and its just plan fb spam like in MC in vanilla. So plz make frozen core do something nice with icelance and while you are at it, fix brain freeze so it isn´t a dps loss plz. Then we have to actually cast 3 spells : )

      Frost gearing will be a lot like Arcane right now: haste haste haste.
      More haste = more casts = more FoF procs = more crits.

    8. “Frost gearing will be a lot like Arcane right now: haste haste haste.”

      Frost gearing on live is already all haste. Even more so than Arc IMO.

      I think this is actually intended as a PvP buff with a PvE buff cooked in. It’ll work on former–and may be overpowered–but ain’t yuck on the latter.

      With change it’s lance on ghost FoF (100% crit chance or close to) to get haste to bolt which may well be at or pushing GCD anyway. It’s a DPS boost and nice to have but it’s not a solution, even ignoring the ugliness of ghost FoF (hugely sensitive to latency and probably not an intended mechanic) to make it all work.

      Fishing for procs will be a huge DPS loss, and using lance on last (not ghost) FoF will also be a loss. It’s a kludge on a kludge on a kludge.

      • Sorry Venrir. Repeated a lot of what you’d said. Super frustrated is all. There are so many ways to fix frost and this one is flat out dumb. [shakes fist]

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