Be the Exception, Not the Rule

Sometimes, you just have to shut your ears to what people tell you about what you can and can’t do.  You have to rely on your own experiences and make judgments based on your own feelings toward particular things.  Within the context of this blog, it’s hard to write about being a frost mage without thinking of the labels that are constantly thrown at it, thus having a terrible (and as of 3.3.3, unwarranted) reputation as a poor performer.

As such, I try, and keep trying, to perform beyond the expectations of these labels, to prove people wrong, and to solidify my own beliefs that what I do is based on my own choosing, and that following my hunches and feelings are indeed a justifiable outlook in both the game as well as life.

Unfortunately, Frost Magery was given yet another blow to their reputation with the release of an article on regarding ICC DPS analysis across the DPS specs.  I really don’t know what to think of the data provided in that article, but to lessen the blow of what the results actually were, I’ll simplify the numbers by saying that, for the encounters of Festergut and Rotface 25-man normal modes, Frost Mages were in last place in performance, both regarding average performance as well as median top performance.

Apparently, I don’t give a crap.

There are disclaimers in that post that must be taken with heavier consideration than the numbers themselves.

1.  “This number does not in any way represent the damage that you can do, or your class can do.”

Simply put, the DPS output by these individuals playing Frost is nowhere near the theoretical DPS output for T9 BiS frost mages.  How someone could get 4.5k on Rotface by doing anything OTHER than casting frostbolt, and STILL call it a “top parse” just boggles my mind, especially considering that the average parse is higher than the median (6k versus 4.5k).

2.  “Since this data comes from World of Logs, it is not necessarily representative of all raiders.”

Quick fact.  I have yet to hear news about a fix to a particular issue involving WoL (or any other site relying on datamining combat logs) being unable to record data from the water elemental pet.  For all intents and purposes, every single parse can be anywhere from 700-1000 DPS off from its actual value.  Regardless, adding 1k to the averages still put Frost at the back of the pack, but they will not look as bad as they do in that article.

3.  “Frost mages and subtlety rogues were severely under-represented in the data, to the extent that the results for these specs are unreliable.”

Then why even bother putting their data in there at all?  There is something terribly wrong with trying to compare data from a hideously small sample size to other data sets with acceptable sample sizes.  Even more wrong is to alleviate small sample sizes by adding parses under the effects of the 5% buff and comparing THAT set of data to those affected by the 10% buff.

No.  Not a fair assessment at all.  Even Jackie is disappoint.

4.  “This data encompasses all gear levels, all skill levels.”

Unfortunately, gear and skill distribution across different specs within the same class is not even.  All the better players flock to the theoretically better specs, leaving the ‘terribads’ to the ‘terribad’ specs.  This also means that the better gear goes to the better players, since more successful guilds tend to recruit the more skilled Arcane Mages in favor of the supposedly less skilled Frost Mages, and as such, the Arcanes are exposed to better gear, while Frost Mages have to settle for Frost Emblem gear and T9.

I’d like to see another data set comparing gearscores across all the different specs and classes.  I am very sure that you will see another discrepancy in the data that will account for such differences in DPS as well.

Leading By Example

I cannot simply post my own numbers and use them as evidence supporting the viability of Frost Mages in raids.  Hell, I’m not even bothering to try and beat a dead horse subject such as this.  All I can do is perform, and pray that the raid leader does not kick me because I’m falling behind other players.  And so far, I can safely say that I have yet to be tossed out of a raid for my spec.  In return, I have pulled my weight at the very least.

Also, posting numbers like this is very good for my ego as well, having been bruised by this particular article.

That’s right.  10k on Festergut, well above and beyond the 7.5 median “best” parse on Festergut in that article.  And yes, I rounded to the nearest 100, just as the article did.

All I’m saying is that it requires a bit of effort to look into the information beyond data given, especially if it’s data that seems clear-cut for making decisions such as whether or not to include a particular player based on their spec of choice.  While it’s difficult for a person to let go of such biases, it’s just as difficult to be the one responsible for changing their viewpoint on it.  But when it does…

…you feel validated as an exceptional person.  Fuck the rules, re-write them yourself with your own skill and willpower.

47 thoughts on “Be the Exception, Not the Rule

  1. I will clarify right now that the parse that I showed was under the 15% buff. Re-adjusting it to 10% will bring it down to 9.5k, which is still respectable in its own right.

  2. I always figured data like the stuff in that article would be rather skewed because most skilled raiders are probably rocking the FotM spec, leaving unpopular specs behind not because of the spec but because of the player.

    When I see charts like that which show something like, say, BM massively trailing SV, I can pretty much disregard it immediately, because Elitist Jerks has said for some time now and continues to say that BM and SV max DPS are within a few percentage points of each other. Unfortunately you’re not going to get results like that because at the moment not many skilled players are raiding as BM. If we could quantify that I’m sure the results would be much different– for Frost as well.

    Also, Kriz, you rock for getting that whisper.

    • One whisper is hardly enough! With my two hands, I must aim to change the world!

      …of warcraft!

    • Well as someone who plays a destro lock- I feel for you a lil bit- I think what people downplay far too much is what is “needed” over theoretical dps gains- usually the most named aspect is skill but in this circumstance I say class and fight intimacy. For instance my guild bites at the professor fight- we just can’t handle timing burst dps well. So despite affliction being the supposed “best” for the vast majority of dps races- none of it matters if I don’t find some way to exploit my class/spec so that the boss dies. When people only raid as the “best” specs all the time then regardless of whether or not the “lesser” specs are viable or not they are going to get more “intimate” with the knowledge of how to make the “better” specs work then the others. I remember when I dual specced my hunter mm/sv and when I switched from doing MM (majority of physical autoshot damage) to SV (majority of spell damage more suited for continually changing targets) how the MM hunters gawked at my 6k in SV versus the previous 4k in MM for Saurfang because they simply didn’t understand the strengths and weakness of the different specs.

  3. Yeah, that article was not… I don’t know. Our guild talked about it a little bit after the fact, and generally it bugged me. Balance druids (my current class and spec of choice) were also shown as being woefully behind the curve, which I can say confidently is definitely not the case in my guild. I’m usually around middle of the pack, on some fights I pull ahead and can be second or even first, and our guild has some seriously top-notch DPS so it isn’t a case of “look at moonkin is better than fail players.”

    I think it’s awesome that you play the spec you want to, because you like it and are good at it. Keep on representing and let the naysayers stuff it!

    • I personally think that the article severely downplays the source of the data. WoL tracks, for the most part, the top percentile raiding guilds, leaving behind data from the rest of the other guilds who are also doing endgame content.

      I would tend to trust the dev team when they say that they have a more accurate source of data represented through the entire spectrum of raiding. Analysis based on that type of data would be more complete and justified.

  4. Pike beat me to it, but as a BM hunter who constantly battles the same prejudices and scorn as Frost mages, good job. It’s always extremely gratifying and awesome to be recognized by strangers for completely blowing their preconceived low expectations out of the water!

    • Hell, even I get surprised when I see a fellow BM or frost mage doing respectable damage. While it’s less likely for me to run into another frost mage, I do enjoy running with a hunter who can mop it up with an angry devilsaur.

  5. I think it’s awesome that you raid as Frost. My raid leader will never take a frost mage on a run, and if they tried to sneak in he’ll demand a respec or kick.

    I realize the data in the article can be questioned, but I was surprised to see fire mages in there; for sure I thought everyone who played a mage was a herd following Arcane. I’m all for variety and leveling the specs, it allows for people to play a spec based on personal preferance rather than Fotm or guild/raiding required spec.

    • Fire has been considerably buffed in the recent minor patch, due to inclusion of Pyroblast to the list of spells affected by torment the weak. With another tier of gear including a large number of pieces that have loads of crit and hit, Fire is closer to Arcane than ever, and has a wider margin for error as well as a lessened dependency on Evocate and mana gems.

  6. I do Saurfang as Frost because Deep Freeze makes the adds relatively easy. Even with DF not doing any damage, I was rocking about 5.5k on that fight (which was still better than most of the other DPS in the raid.) So, I can’t pull of 9k (I barely do as Arcane) because I’m terribad. But apparently I’m not the worst terribad. 🙂

    • Deep Freeze is a godsend of damage when used on Saurfang. I’ve noticed that simply using Frostfire Bolt (procced or unprocced) on your primary blood beast target is good enough to get the initial slow to kite with. If you put talent points in Frostbite, you can get some lucky snares, making the kiting much more trivial!

  7. Granted my mage isn’t 80 yet, just hit 70 last night, But your blog has helped me a bunch, been leveling and etc as frost, I have tried arcane and fire… Even using semi-raid specs and rotations… It just seems frost is by far better, Its just up to the player, I have seen maybe frost mages that refuse to jump on the band wagon and change specs from patch to patch. You rock, keep up the great work and showing the other mages who’s boss. XD


    • I’m not necessarily beating ALL arcane mages outright. I’ll beat the inexperienced and lesser-geared arcane mages, but I’ll definitely lose to a well-practiced arcane mage in comparable gear. But just because another ‘better’ mage is doing my job better than I am, doesn’t mean that I’m dragging the group down. I’m still doing acceptable DPS for my group. I’ve never run into performance issues that would otherwise get me kicked out of a PuG.

    • Good fight is good. I like Frost, and I’ll defend my actions. Doesn’t mean I’m going to pick a fight against people for the sake of doing so. If someone wants to spec Arcane because that’s their choice, then so be it.

  8. Why don’t you start an “underspecced” guild? DPS must play on the “worst” talent (frost, balance, subtlety, arms, elemental, BM, destro). You could prove the world that it’s not the spec, it’s the skill that matters!

    • Starting my own guild? I don’t think so. I have limited organizational abilities. But that doesn’t mean I need to start a guild for ‘terrible specs,’ or be in one, to make my case. I have a blog as an outlet; that and my performance in raids should be enough to get by with making my point.

  9. Especially, since you are playing in the US, and many commenters told they’d join Undergeared if they could. There are lot of players want to prove skill > gear.

    Of course you could dig up some data which is the most underrepresented tank (bear I guess) and healer (shaman I guess) and recruit such.

    • Sounds like a job more suitable for a person such as yourself. I certainly give you credit for being able to do some unconventional things, like raiding in blues and whatnot. Keep it up, gev.

  10. Thanks for representing!

    I’m also suspicious on the world of logs article. Im wondering many things and have a lot of questions about things which may decrease frost average dps:

    How many of those frost mages are arcane who specced for a specific fight, like DarthRegis? Although he did a good job, I think there may be a good amount of others that don’t understand the spec (we had an arcane mage who switched to frost for Saurfang and was pulling only about 3.5k dps).

    How many of those mages are there to just try it out? One reason I think frost is so looked down upon is because the people who don’t take time to learn the little tricks and get the right set of addons are the ones who spread misleading and low information. While it’s far from me to tell you what to right, i think you should write an article on the little tricks of frost ie ghost charge, double IV heroism, or when to save brain freeze procs for movement.

    I don’t know why, but i just think many of those frost mages weren’t really comfortable with the class yet.

    • That is also a very good point. There is a good possibility that, even with the very small number of frost mage parses availabile, some of those are going to come from offspec mages. However, you cannot assume that the same isn’t true for the other specs as well. There are going to be parses in Arcane and Fire where the user is inexperienced.

  11. Interesting stuff. My preferred hunter spec is BM (although Kestrel is SV currently because he does occasionally raid, and for him there is considerably better DPS/DMG as SV than BM). If I were to raid as a Druid, I’d pick Boomkin (originally typoed as “Boomking” :P), and if I ever roll another mage, you can bet it will be as Frost.

    Quick: What’s the least popular Shammy spec? Yep, my 66 Shaman is 100% Enhanced, and proud of it.

    And for what it’s worth, my ICC-25-raiding Priest leveled from 10-80 as HOLY.

  12. You should start uploading your parses to World of Logs. It sounds like you could singlehandedly improve the perception of your spec. 🙂

    • World of Logs still has a problem with incorporating the permanent water elemental into the mage’s performance, so my log will be underrepresented anyway. sucks.

  13. I am considering rolling up a frost DPS spec for this friday’s HM ICC just to see how it performs. The extra survivability will certainly be welcome, but I have wondered how it will perform for some time now. Results to come.. maybe?

    • If you can survive during parts that the arcane mage can’t, then it’s definitely worth using. Hardmodes have a stringent DPS requirement, so as long as you can pull your weight as Frost, then all the more power to you. Frost is great for learning fights because it gives you the survivability to last longer in fights that would otherwise kill a still-learning arcane or fire mage. Once you get the tricks down to staying alive, it’s probably best if you stick to whatever spec you perform the best with, or are most comfortable with.

  14. I rarely get the chance to raid, but I’d like to let you know that your posts have inspired me to run 5-mans in frost spec. I enjoy the playstyles of arcane and frost about equally and usually use frost for solo questing, but I always used to switch to arcane for any group work. No more! Thanks to your inspiring posts, I proudly bring out that Squirtle when I pug, and nobody’s complained so far.

    • 5-mans are trivial. You can DPS as any spec you want, and nobody will really care. I’ve seen some pretty bad talent distributions in my experience, ranging from 71 points in Fire, all the way to a ridiculous 35/36 split in frost and fire, but the mage’s rotation did NOT include frostfire bolt AT ALL. As facepalm-worthy as it may be, that particular person can still be carried by other more capable DPS.

  15. I for one have to commend you, Krizzly on the Frost spec. Your writeup on the 3.3 Frost Spec was the main reason why I chose it. While my other spec is still Arcane (thanks to Tachyon and his Arcane Guide), I actually prefer my Frost spec, and am only marginally higher in DPS on my Arcane spec. (Maybe I need to work on my Arcane side? I dunno.)

    What I have found is that I am flip-flopping between the two specs depending on the fight at hand. If I know I’ll be moving around more, or that I need the extra barrier, I run Frost. If I’m going to be able to be more stationary, I go Arcane. (I find that if I need to move around and I’m running Arcane, I tend to mess myself up by trying to squeeze in that last Arcane Blast/Missile Barrage before moving, while in Frost I just move, since I’m not worrying about stacking anything on my target.)

    So, when running ICC10, I’m usually Frost all the way up to the Gunship, as I’m AoE-ing in Frost, and expecting to move around a lot in Marrowgar and Deathwhisper. And that leads to a decent, while not necessarily top, DPS figure, with a lot of survivability. For fights past that, I tend to run Arcane on the bosses and Frost on the trash, but I play around with it, depending on how I feel. But no raid leader has ever complained about my performance no matter what spec I’m in – to hear that there are raid leaders who try to dictate what their players play seems foreign to me.

    Thanks again for prompting my interest in Frost!

    My 2 yen,


    • Frost can still cut it in Plagueworks too! I just beat up putricide for the first time last night, meaning that I can confidently put out a plaguewing guide for raiding frost mages.

  16. I love surprising people as a frost mage. I doubt my mage will make it to 80 and get geared in time to go to ICC but I’m already pulling 1.3k DPS at level 71 in Nexus. If a frost mage can pull that off (with only two heirlooms) then what’s everyone else’s excuse?

    Yeah, I have an arcane offspec but I only use it when I run into mobs immune to frost. Stupid elementals :p

    • Once you get frostfire bolt, that becomes a non-issue. Get your butt to 75 already! 😀

    • Here is something I just observed first hand but haven’t seen written down anywhere about frost mages leveling up. We own the damage meter. I just got my frost mage to 80 and used the LFG tool extensively, so I had a chance to see how it stacks up against many different specs and playstyles. By spamming Blizzard, I usually did 30-40% of total group damage! Second place was almost always the tank (people might not realize this if they haven’t run recount while leveling up). I conclude that for these dungeons AoE is king and Blizzard is the best of all. Once I got to Northrend, the margins slimmed up, but frost was still quite competitive and would win out as long as there was enough aoe to be done. For those who think aoe is a cheap way to top the meter I would point out that having high single-target dps is really only valuable if the bosses are hard. But in today’s game, the only hard bosses are raid bosses, so that doesn’t apply to leveling.

    • The synergy between Fingers of Frost, Shatter, Ice Shards, and Improved Blizzard makes the dungeoning Frost Mage a very potent AoE character, at levels as low as 46, when the mage gets 2/2 Fingers of Frost. Just watch it in action in the ZF stairs event. If you have a twinked-out pally pulling the entire group at once, expect to see your DPS skyrocket above the other AoE-capable classes.

  17. Screw the rules, I’ve got Frostbolts!
    Yours is the Ice Lance that will pierce the heavens!

    Pop culture references aside, I’m glad to see that potential and skill can still overcome pre-concieved notions and issues with being a PvP spec.

    Another thing that affected the logs on was the fact that there just aren’t that many Frost mages, which also throws off the charts.

  18. Pingback: Misleading Mages > Theorycrafting Huntards « Armaggedon's coming!

  19. As someone who’s been raiding Frost with all the “what the hell are you doing??” since Naxx, I really need to thank you for the work you’ve done to better the spec and people’s perception of it. I was really happy to see this particular article of yours linked on Thanks again, and keep rocking those frostly bolts!

  20. My name is Nananea and I’m a raiding frost mage on Windrunner. I saw this from and I have to say when I saw that post about frost being unrepresented I felt I needed to up my game even further.

    Typically I am top overall in ICC 10 and 25 (thanks to Blizzard AoE) and most fights I am in the top 5 current, even snatching #1 on some fights.

    Just last night I pulled #1 on Saurfang @ 9k (10 man) and was not using Glyph of Frostbolt.

    People don’t realize how much frost was buffed until they see an exceptional mage pull it off, but when they do it’s always awe in their responses to it.

    Also, if you can get your hands on a Nibelung for AoE it’s GG, having 8+ Val’kyr doing like 1300 DPS each is hacks!

    Keep it frosty!

  21. As has already been mentioned, a frost specced mage is a seriously sought after dungeon group member for their AOE capabilities. If the tank pulls 4 or more at a time – the frost mage should be topping the DPS charts with their supplemented blizzards. The single target DPS potential is lower than fire and arcane, but for all the instances where pulling too much trash is more threatening than the bosses, the frost mage is rather more useful – not to mention more survivable.

    Frost may have a reputation for under performing in endgame PvE content, but it also has a reputation for being the superior PvP spec.

  22. I’m a frostbolt mage and I approve of this post. I tend to top the DPS charts in my raids, or if not I’m in the top 3 (in 10 man, and a far ways above DPS #4 and #5) or 6 (in 25 man). In fact, in one raid the only person who out damaged me was a -demonology- warlock! I also regularly get comments on how good I am, and I even inspired someone to drop their arcane spec despite her fellow raiders pressuring her to go arcane.

  23. Great post! I have a cookie cutter Pali so when it came to the mage, well, I just love frost and screw the rules. 🙂

    On the bosses I am in top 3 (if not top) and get get the same figures as Bashertin (9-10K on a boss). GS is 5860 so still some space to improve into. Overall the mage is sitting at 10k DPS in ICC10 and 14K DPS in ICC25 – mostly PUG runs and with the buff.

    Watching the damage on Frostbolt and Brain Freeze the crits top out at roughly 20k and 48k respectively. Now if we could just get that all the time…

    Then there is the bliss of watching Blizzard creep up to 4k on each smack and with my beautiful Nibelungs…bring on those ambushes!!

    I have had a few whispers from Arcane mages too – they start at beginning of raid “lol, you frost. ” followed later by a “wtf?!”.

    Now what would a frost version of “P4wnage” be?

    • Following on….

      I did over 11k on Festergut this week (no 2 overall). A Warrior was pounding in at no 1 at 11.2k (I was 11.1k)!!

      A fellow arcane was pumping at 8k (5700 GS compared to my 5800 GS).

      I have screenies as well 🙂

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