Today, I’m going to talk about some of my problems with frost mages in the 5.2 MOP patch.
With the Invocation talent change, my frost mage was still running OOM before the Invoker’s Energy buff faded, and so I was having to use evocation early (thus losing out on the benefit of the change they made to increase Invoker’s Energy buff duration).
Lets look at some of the changes:
“Water Elemental Freeze no longer does damage and only provides Fingers of Frost on a successful freeze.”
This means that water elemental’s freeze no longer generates Finger of Frost procs on PvE raid bosses. This results in a net loss of 4 to 8 Finger of Frost procs every 2 minutes (and a loss of 12 to 24 procs over a 6 minute fight). If you hit two targets, you got 2 procs, and 1 proc if you hit one target.
“Fingers of Frost now has a 15% (was 12%) chance to activate from Frostbolt, Frostfire Bolt and Frozen Orb, a 5% (was 4%) chance to activate from Blizzard, and a 10% (was 9%) chance to activate from Scorch.”
Since scorch was removed entirely from the frost spec, this actually causes a bigger problem – because we lose a second ability that generated FOF procs for frost mages (and importantly, we lost our only ability that really allowed us to generate potential FOF procs while moving). The 3% proc chance increase to our primary spells will likely still result in a DPS loss overall, since a 3% chance to proc on each of our spells isn’t comparable to a guaranteed 12 to 24 procs across a 6 minute fight plus the procs we potentially got from using scorch during periods of heavy movement in fights.
Thus, if scorch is going to be something frost doesn’t have access to, and our pet can’t give us on-demand FOF procs, then we need the FOF proc rate for our spells overall to be re-evaluated. Otherwise, frost mages really need to be given an alternative ability to generate FOF procs, especially one that could be used while moving. Alternatively, Fire Blast should take on that 10% proc rate that scorch previously had, since Fire Blast will be the on-demand instant that we may want to use while moving more often now, since the cooldown is short and most movement happens in small chunks (I have to move three or four times before Ice Floes comes back off coolodown. Given FOF procs are less frequent and less predictable, we’re less likely to be able to use ice lance as a movement DPS mechanic, since Ice lance hits like a wet noodle without FOF procs). Adding fire blast back in as a viable part of the movement rotation will absolutely require it to generate FOF procs, and would help compensate for losing Freeze and scorch from frost mage’s PvE rotation. At this point, it looks like the frost mage rotation may actually be the absolute most frustrating rotation due to lack of anything we can do with all the heavy movement fights. Frost went from my most fun spec to the most frustrating spec just with the loss of scorch from my movement rotation. While I didn’t use scorch for every fight, there were plenty of fights where it felt like I at least had options of things I could cast if I wanted to. Having my frost pet do the bulk of my movement damage is too passive and doesn’t allow me to feel like I’m in control of the DPS I’m doing while moving. Even if scorch didn’t generate a high % of my total damage done in a fight, it still made me feel like I was in control of my own DPS.
“Frostbolt now deals 24% more damage, but the debuff no longer increases subsequent Frostbolt damage.”
This was a really nice quality of life change overall, so that our damage will overall increase on fights with frequent target switches. Still, however, frost as a raid spec in 5.1 has been under-performing in raids compared to all the other raid specs, based on logs coming from the raids right now. Given that the loss of scorch and freeze will potentially overall impact Frost PvE negatively, frost’s overall DPS needs to be evaluated and watched much more closely (not that anyone is bothering to even play it to test on the PTR due to under-performing in the first place). This is especially important given that frost now has no real movement DPS mechanic at all, and ALL fights require heavy amounts of unpredictable movement in normal or Hard Mode difficulty.
If fights required zero movement, frost PvE would be fine in 5.2. However, the encounter designers don’t give us the luxury of Patchwerk fights anymore (and haven’t since, well, Patchwerk). Overall, I feel as though frost mage design is being done without encounter mechanics taken into consideration, and that frost in particular is being punished with changes targeted at Fire and Arcane specs. The three times I used blink in Hard Mode encounters on Thursday night, I blinked into bad stuff and instantly died. Blink isn’t a movement DPS mechanic, and frost mages don’t have any on-demand movement spells that do any real damage (Ice lance unbuffed hits for 8,000 damage).
The loss of two abilities, which increased our movement damage potential, has the potential to really hurt Frost PvE in 5.2. Since the goal of any playstyle is to “always be casting”, the fact that encounter mechanics in 5.2 prevent frost mage PvE from being able to “always be casting” is problematic. There aren’t encounters that allow for a “move, stop, cast” playstyle outside of 5-mans and some LFR encounters. Raiders have really had two choices in PvE raiding since Cataclysm: either “Move while casting, stop while casting, cast while standing still for a few seconds, and then move while casting again a few seconds later,” or just don’t bother going to raids at all. Looking at mage representation in raids this expansion, it really looks like not going at all is turning into the more attractive solution to a lack of movement DPS. Designing classes for Vanilla raid mechanics in MOP does a disservice to the raiding community. Either frost needs to have significant buffs to our stand-still rotation, so that we can compensate for our lower DPS up-time compared to everyone else, or frost mages need a better option for movement fights. Having poor mobility DPS is very much like having your hands tied behind your back and trying to play by mashing your face on the keyboard – it can be potentially effective, but it sure as heck isn’t fun. Given that the movement DPS of arcane & fire are also under attack by Blizzard (while at the same time, they hand out new fun movement mechanics to most of the other ranged DPS), it doesn’t make being a mage at all very comforting right now.