Early Frost: Dungeon Drollery

In Memorandum

This is a quick shout out and farewell to my soon-to-be former guild on winterhoof, Exiled Legion.  Due to circumstances in this server combined with the slump of summer recruiting, the highest ranked members have decided to pack it up and transfer to another server.  For the time being, I have decided to not go with them, and to go even further, have backed off from raiding for the time being so that I can focus a bit more on Cataclysm, while maintaining a good balance with my real life priorities as well.  I wish them the best of luck, and hope their server transfer goes well at the end of the month.

If I do decide to get back into raiding, I hope my next guild will be as accepting of my preference of the frost spec as my current one.  If it comes down to server transfering, I might even consider going to an RP realm instead of joining up with the rest of my old guild.  A fresh start with new opportunities.  However, I don’t expect to see this sort of thing to happen until the new expansion.  That said, let’s continue on to the beta coverage, shall we?

Back to Beta

In recent patches, the dungeonfinder has been finally been implemented.  For the sake of widening the pool of available spelunkers to run with, it would seem that I am currently able to group up with people on both the European and Korean servers.  I imagine that the same would hold true for other overseas servers (except possibly China, since they were late enough in getting Wrath, let alone the Cataclysm Beta), but I suspect that for communication reasons, we won’t be seeing this sort of implementation in the live servers anytime soon.  That said, I’ve spent the bulk of my recent beta experience in dungeons, both at the 80+ level as well as the lowbie level.  Despite some rather annoying bugs (being unable to make a table inside cataclysm dungeons being one of them), my dungeon experience has been very positive as a whole.

Lowbie Instances

I hit up a serpentshrine wailing caverns run as my first run on the worgen mage, who had recently added to his collection another two pieces of heirloom gear, bringing the total to seven (head, shoulders, chest, back, weapon, two trinkets) and a total experience bonus of 40%.  The new experience bonus is nothing short of insane.  From level 19, one single dungeon run brought my character to 20 and a bit into 21 WITHOUT the aid of rested experience.  Dungeons will be a very attractive (if not already so) leveling option for those who can queue quickly (tanks and healers).

Not only does heirloom gear make the leveling process much faster, but it also makes the creature killing process ridiculously quick as well.  In this particular run, everyone had at the minimum the headgear and cape provided for free from an NPC in stormwind.  When I say that things died fast, they died fast.  Bosses went down as fast as one would expect from normal mobs, and normal mobs went down so quickly, I had no time to squeeze in Arcane Missiles; a frostbolt or two and a fire blast tacked on to the end was enough to kill it with the help of others.  In theory, if it weren’t for things dying so quickly, I can imagine how the new abilities would result in a reasonably engaging spell rotation for mages at lower level dungeons.  Frostbolt as filler, with arcane missiles whenever it procs, and Fire Blast to finish off the mob.  However, given the speed in which these mobs die, arcane missiles launch too slowly to be of any use, except maybe on bosses.

One thing I was very excited about, however, was the utility of RandomPetName.  Having previously been unable to use the Water Elemental in these dungeons, going through these dungeons are a lot more fun, and provide ample opportunities to take advantage of Freeze.  In lowbie dungeons, where mobs often flee, Freeze helps keep them in place without worrying about fleeing to other mobs and aggroing more than desired.  Except for perhaps cunning pets, RandomPetName feels like a unique pet compared to the others at this level, as he serves more than being a DoT element in the party.  At the low twenties, you will be able to spec into Permafrost, which will allow you to heal your pet, allowing him to be a situational offtank against normal adds, or even weak melee-class elites such as the cloaked adds during the Van Cleef encounter (which, by the way, has gone through a very awesome stylistic change to match the new expansion).

Overall, the early access to the dynamism of the Water Elemental adds a very enjoyable element to the dungeon crawling experience.

Cataclysm Dungeons

When it comes to new dungeons, it is pointless to comment on difficulty, since they are constantly tuned with each patch.  One day will see a wipefest on the first boss, while another will see a complete faceroll session.  Regardless, it would seem that the core mechanics and abilities of the mobs remain, which are open for opinion.  TotT, so far, is already my favourite dungeon of the two that is available to my character so far (stonecore has a high ilvl requirement which I will comment on later).  I am not going to spoil the mechanics of the fights either, but I

The playstyle of Frost Mages at the 80+ level is, in short:

this, pretty much.  I am having WAY too much fun with the new rotation.

Due to the nature of talents and whatnot, here’s what the spell priority generally looks like.

1) Water Elemental Freeze if Fingers of Frost is not up.
2) Deep Freeze if Fingers of Frost is up.
3) Frostfire Bolt if Brain Freeze is up.
4) Ice Lance if Fingers of Frost is up.
5) Frostbolt until you proc Brain Freeze or Fingers of Frost

This proposed spell rotation is very engaging, as it involves pet management, mid-length (longer than 9 seconds, shorter than a minute) cooldown management, and TWO different procs that happen to proc fairly often.  If Frost was the poster child of boring spell rotations all the way up to Wrath, it will no longer be the case.  Not only will you be fairly mobile with two instant-cast spells, but you also have a pet spell that can be cast independent from your global cooldown.  Say goodbye to waiting forever for FoF to proc so you can cast Deep Freeze, as you can force a FoF with Pet Freeze.  Not that you would have to anyway, the proc rate has doubled at the cost of providing one charge per proc instead of two (the maximum amount of charges remains at two, which is also a good thing).

The boss fights so far have been a mix of straightforward tank and spanks with stuff you shouldn’t stand in, and giant clusterfucks that I have yet to master due to the limited time spent in these encounters.  There is one fight where a viable strategy is to kite a mob away from the tank to remove a debuff aura from him.  With the ridiculously large number of slows and snares at my disposal, this fight is easily my favourite so far.

Frost is the New Frost

From the looks of it, it would seem that the playstyle shift is here to stay.  If anything were to change from here on out, it would be to fix unwanted bugs and exploits without fundamentally altering the proposed playstyle.  One issue in particular that is being discussed in the beta forums is the issue of ghost charges providing a noticeable DPS advantage to those with ideal internet providers.  This issue is probably going to be fixed, but those discussing possible changes agree that the solution to exploitation of ghost charges should not alter the current rotation.  If this issue is resolved by the time cataclysm comes out, I cannot be anything less than HOTDAMN excited about Frost in the new expansion.  Let’s just hope the damage is there as well.

6 thoughts on “Early Frost: Dungeon Drollery

  1. Hey Krizzly, nice post!😀 My mage is only level 67 at the moment but I already love Frost’s play-style!

    I wanted to ask you about the viability (or even straight out possibility) of specs/rotations centered around Frostfire Bolt, my favourite spell in game.

    Thanks in advance,

    Zerras

    • The Frostburn mastery prieviewed in the class previews looked to heavily favour frostfire bolt as the filler spell in the rotation that I pointed out above. At high levels of mastery, the bonus damage provided by the debuff would favour FFB over frostbolt by more than 10% with regards to DPS differential.

      However, the devs changed the Frostburn mastery to simply increase damage done against frozen targets, instead of buffing non-frostbolt spells. Thus, the shift of power is back in Frostbolt, as it always should have been.

      Unfortunately, due to the nature of 41-point talent builds, it seems rather impossible for elementalist specs to exist, since you are forced to put 31 points into a primary tree before putting points into a secondary one.

      That isn’t to say that you aren’t free to use FFB as the filler spell for either Fire or Frost specs, just expect the dps to be noticeably lower. If you want to use FFB at all, I would go with the frost spec. Due to the nature of the talents, you can put your optional points in this one frost talent (frostfire orb) that increases the snare effect of your FFB. Hope that info helps!

  2. Sounds like Frost has quite some things to pay attention to if you want to maximize damage. That makes me wonder how it adds up to other mage builds, or even other classes from what you’ve noticed thus far?

    I think the last time Frost did anything damage wise was naxxramas at 60 when you weren’t ignite stacking?

    • From what I’ve seen on paper, Arcane seems to be the same old spec that’s been around during wrath. This may be both a good thing and a bad thing, since it’s been the top performing spec, but is also quite boring now compared to what Frost has in store, rotation-wise.

      Fire seems to be the most changed tree out of the three, with a bunch of extreme functional changes that are supposed to help with improving its performance in battleground PvP. The representative culprit of this would be Scorch, as it can be cast while moving under certain conditions (via glyph or talent, I forget).

      Frost seems to be the middle of the two, as it already had a clear idea of what it wanted to do both in PvE and PvP (shatter combos). There were numerous changes, but they all were predictable and kept to the existing flavour of the tree.

  3. If you’re not going to be into raiding and just looking for a place to hang you always have a home at Crits and Giggles. Our casual social style caters to both those doing raids for fun and those who are just leveling another alt. And we love frost mages…I think we have at least 4. 😛 Just an offer, it’s pretty low key, but would still give some benefits to having a guild.

    Also, since I have a frosty mage gnome myself, I appreciate your coverage in the beta on frost mages. So a BIG THANK YOU!

    • We’ll see. I don’t log on for noticeably long periods nowadays, but the offer is very much appreciated.

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