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.”
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.
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.