Now that my main has been a frost mage all of Mists of Pandaria, I thought I would take a look at the current set of changes for my primary raiding spec. The three resto druids already in my guild will have all our healing needs covered. So, what’s in store for frost mages for PVE? Lots of changes!
Frost Mage Ability removal: Some abilities/effects will only be available to certain specializations, so reducing off-role abilities was the primary place that mages had abilities outright cut. Some of this was meant to differentiate the AOE toolsets of the three specs, as well as other changes to remove redundancy of shared abilities.
- Fire specialization only (no longer available to frost): dragon’s breath, flamestrike, molten armor, fire blast, and Living Bomb (no longer a frost talent).
- Arcane only (no longer available to frost): Evocation, Arcane Explosion, mage armor, presence of mind (no longer a talent), and Nether Tempest (no longer a frost talent).
- Removed from all specs: Mana gem, temporal shield talent, Invocation talent, Incanter’s Ward talent.
Frost major talent changes: Two abilities (Alter Time and Mirror Images) were converted to talents. Overall, there were major talent changes. You can see the current talent tree form mages on WOWhead. Some of the talents now vary by specialization, so my focus below is on frost options only.
- New talent: Evanesce (level 15) – survivability talent that provides invulnerability from damage for 3 seconds. (replaces presence of mind talent). If you take this ability, you no longer have ice block.
- Alter time (level 30) – Now a utility talent only (Replaces temporal shield talent).
- Frost Bomb (level 75) – Frost mages no longer have access to living bomb or nether tempest. Frost bomb has undergone some changes. It no longer interacts with Frost Fire Bolt. It now (instead) does AOE damage when ice lance crits. The level 75 talents for frost are all AOE/cleaving abilities now.
- Unstable Magic (level 75) – causes our single-target frostbolts to explode and do AOE damage, 25% of the time.
- Ice Nova (level 75) – If you take this ability, you no longer have frost nova. Instead, this ability allows you to freeze and damage enemies in an 8 yard sphere around your target (instead of you).
- Mirror Images (level 90) – Mirror images is now a talent, that is more awesome than the current version, and scales better with gear (replaces Invocation).
- Inchanter’s Flow (level 90) – A damage increasing buff that ramps up and down over 10 second intervals. My comments: This talent is likely to undergo revisions across beta. This seems like the ramp up and down might be too quick to get spells off at the perfect timing, since you would gain 1 stack per second for 5 seconds, and then lose 1 stack per second for 5 seconds.
- Rune of power is still a talent, but no longer interacts with mana regen, and has a longer duration (3 minutes).
- Thermal Void (level 100): Ice Lance extends Icy Veins by 2 seconds. Now that icy veins gives us multi-strike (a chance to get bonus damage), I’m not sure this is going to be a very good talent in practice.
- Prismatic Crystal (level 100): Cast spells at the crystal and it does damage to things nearby (1 minute cooldown). If your targets are stationary for long enough, this could be okay. However, I don’t see the ability to have the crystal follow your tank around, so the usefulness of this talent depends on frequency of tank movement.
- Comet Storm (level 100): A 30 second cooldown. Icy Comets split their damage between nearby targets within 4 yards.
Frost gearing changes:
- A primary goal was to reduce the problem of soft-capping on secondary stats. This means they are making it more difficult to haste and crit soft-cap, and are making Multistrike a more interesting new stat.
- Multistrike: The simplified version is that this stat gives you a chance to do bonus damage to the primary target. Increasing the stat increases the chance to do bonus damage. Read Lhivera’s post on Multistrike for more specific details.
- Intellect no longer increases crit chance. Shatter was changed to impact the crit soft-cap (now multiplies crit strike chance by 1.5 instead of 2). My comments: The shatter change could interact strangely with the frost bomb redesign, with frost bomb only doing damage on Ice Lance crits.
- Frost armor now gives increased Multistrike chance instead of increased haste.
- Icy Veins now gives multistrike chance instead of increased haste.
Other Spell changes and overall notes on frost rotation:
- Brain Freeze procs no longer make frostfire bolt instant-cast, but the goal is still to have Brain Freeze increase FFB’s damage enough that you will want to cast it. The new brain freeze procs can stack to 2, and come from frostbolt casts (where multi-strike procs from frostbolt increase the BF proc rate).
- Perks for leveling from 90 to 100: Reduce frost bolt’s cast time by .5 seconds, once every 15 seconds. One extra ice lance stack (now up to 3). Teleport back 10 yards after casting frost nova. Improved Icy Veins benefits. Blizzard ticks reduce cooldown on frozen orb. Passive increased damage for frostbolt, frostfire bolt, and Ice Lance.
- Water elemental pet gets Water Jet ability (helps you generate FOF procs) as a leveling perk. This is primarily designed for PVE where pet freeze doesn’t really work in most situations. If it shares a cooldown with pet’s freeze ability, water jet won’t really get used in PVP.
- The primary single-target rotation appears to rely on Frostbolt, Ice Lance on FOF procs (that come from casting frost bolt), and hard-casting FFB with Brain Freeze procs (with the full cast time). We still have Frozen orb and icy veins as our primary DPS cooldowns (plus a level 90 talent that could either be active or passive). So, our single-target rotation won’t feel that much different, except that we lost a lot of mobility.
- Frost will not multi-DOT for AOE, since we won’t have DOTs in a frost spec at all. I’m really not sure what they want frost’s AOE rotation to look like at this point. It will depend some upon whether or not the channeled Blizzard AOE is really viable. Which talents we choose will also primarily impact our AOE rotation more than our single-target rotation (both the level 75 and 100 talents include cleave/AOE talent options). We will have to do a lot of math during beta to figure out what to do with regards to AOE.