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Frost Mage 5.4 PVE perspectives

With the chance to do some PTR testing for the most recent frost mage build, I wanted to highlight some of the changes. Since I don’t PVP, I will really focus on PVE aspects of the frost mage 5.4 changes. Since this is still on the test realm, it is likely that some aspects will change before the patch goes live.

New Mastery: Icicles

The biggest upcoming change is the removal of the original frost mastery (increased frost damage to frozen targets), and replacement with a new mastery (a portion of the damage from frostbolt and frostfire bolt is stored as icicles that will launch at the target when you hit ice lance. If you have 5 stored up, extra icicles will auto-fire at the target).

WoWScrnShot_072813_123542 Why a new mastery? The original mastery tended to be great in PVP, where your crowd control abilities allow for freezing your targets and unloading burst damage on your target. However, since bosses can’t be frozen, this proved to be problematic where mastery is not currently a great PVE stat. Since frost mages have easy-to-attain soft caps on both critical strike and haste from gear, this left PVP mages too powerful in high levels of gear, and PVE mages not powerful enough.

How do you increase the PVE value while decreasing the PVP value of the mastery? The only way to do it was to change the mastery.

 

What is Icicles? Lhivera has a nice two part series on both the original implementation of icicles and the updated version that addressed many of our original concerns.

Briefly, the current version of icicles does this:

  • Our pet gets a flat damage increase from mastery as a stat, and does not generate icicles. This is because the pet could generate a lot of low damage icicles that made icicles feel awkward.
  • So, only two spells generate icicles: Frostbolt and Frostfire Bolt. With PVE mages spending a lot of time hard-casting frostbolts, this won’t be problematic for PVE purposes. We will generate fairly frequent icicles and always benefit from the pet buff portion. This means that if Blizzard balances the numbers out correctly, mastery could increase in value for PVE frost mages in the next patch.
  • The icicles will auto-fire if you have a 5-stack. This means that under most circumstances, you should not be casting Ice Lance to launch icicles unless you have a FOF proc that increases the damage done by Ice Lance. The icicles will last in your storage “bucket” for up to 30 seconds before they will fall off unused. This should reduce the amount of wasted icicles in PVE compared to the original version.
  • Glyph of Ice Lance is being replaced with a new glyph that allows for icicle damage to also be split to a second target, increasing the value of mastery on cleave fights compared to the original version. This makes icicles valuable on cleave fights (though it is still important to note that none of our AOE spells generate icicles).
  • The changes to our mastery created a problem where we now had multiple ramp-up times, due to the combination of charging up both icicles and the frostbolt debuff. To address this, the frostbolt debuff was removed. Now, the debuff that reduces the target’s movement speed will stack, but it doesn’t impact the damage of our spells. The baseline damage of spells were adjusted as needed. This will ultimately help in target-swap fights where frost mages had the problem of having high ramp-up time.

In the end, icicles doesn’t really impact the PVE rotation in its current form. It isn’t really something you should have to worry too much about managing outside of situations where you may want to choose to delay Ice Lance casts to make the timing work with the rest of your rotation and allow for the ~3 seconds it takes for all 5 of the icicles to launch. If the number balancing is done well, this can also make mastery a valuable stat for PVE frost mages.

The bigger concerns now about icicles is how it impacts PVP play styles, where they are unlikely to want to hard-cast frostbolts to generate icicles.

Cosmetic Changes for Frost Mages

WoW_frost_mage

There are currently three major cosmetic changes for frost mages in the next patch (two of which you can see in the picture above).

  • First, the icicles mastery has a graphic. The 5 stored icicles show above your head, and fire off from above your head when launched or auto-firing.
  • Second, we got a new glyph that changes the water elemental pet into a new “unbound water elemental.” This is the first time we have been able to adjust the look of the water elemental pet.
  • Third, you can control how big your pet is. The glyph of water elemental no longer increases the size of your pet. Instead, you can choose between three pet sizes. The regular unglyphed size, the glyph that makes your pet smaller, or the glyph that makes your pet bigger. I find this set of changes to be really important to me, since my water elemental pet feels too big even though PVE encounters force me to take the water elemental pet glyph so my pet can cast while moving.

Overall, with the current PTR build, the frost mage feels pretty fun to play. There are still definitely problems that need to be addressed (especially related to how the mastery change impacts PVP viability). However, the developers responsiveness to fixing some of the original icicles problems makes frost a pretty fun PVE option in the next raid tier.

Posted in Mage, Patch 5.4, Written By Lissanna

Malon’s MOP Mage Tips 5.2

Today’s guest post is by Malon of <Nightshift> on Wildhammer-EU. He has been a raiding Mage since WoW’s European launch.

Hi Everyone,

I’ve had some requests on Twitter (where I post as @ArcaneTactics) to collate my #MageTips series into a single document. These are various helpful hints and tricks for PvE Mages; things that will help eke out a bit more damage, utility or survivability on the various encounters WoW has to throw at its most squishy class.

Some of these tips – especially the 5.0 ones – may now be out of date, but (flagrant self-promotion) I post new ones every week. If anyone has any questions or comments, I’d welcome them. Thanks again to Liss for hosting this post – and for recently combining Restokin’s Druid news with useful Mage advice. If you have more Mage Tips, feel free to post them as comments in this thread, or tweet them to @arcanetactics!

Stay frosty (or otherwise…),

Malon.

Mogu’shan Vaults

  • Blazing Speed is a good way to quickly paint a lot of tiles in the heroic Stone Guard encounter
  • Using RoP+glyphed Evocation in Gara’jal’s spirit realm will constantly renew the Spiritual Innervation buff.
  • Nether Tempest is the most efficient way to kill Gara’jal’s adds. Apply it to each one; it’s faster than directly damaging them.
  • You can Blink out of Subetai the Swift’s Pinning Arrow on the Spirit Kings encounter.
  • Ticks/explosions from NT and LB DO NOT proc the negative effects of the shields on Heroic Spirit Kings.
  • Spamming Scorch during phase 2 Elegon, increases your chances of a HU proc. Pyro! is absolutely necessary to down the Energy Charges.
  • Place Rune of Power nine-tenths inside Elegon’s ring; you’ll benefit from it while standing on the edge & jumping to clear stacks.
  • The Glyph of Blink causes the spell to bug out on Elegon’s platform; remove it for that fight.
  • Touch a Spark and quickly Blink to avoid damage on H Will of the Emperor.

Heart of Fear

  • A FAST Blink will sometimes let you avoid the damage from Tay’ak’s Unseen Strike (there is a short stun before the damage).
  • It’s possible to spread CB from Garalon’s body to his up to 2 legs, but only from a leg to his body – never another leg.
  • Glyphed Ice Lance will cleave from Garalon’s body to his legs, but not vice versa.
  • You can Blink out of Amber Prisons in the Wind Lord Mel’jarak encounter.
  • Mel’jarak’s Blademasters will put a debuff on players before charging them; this can be Ice Blocked off, cancelling the charge.
  • Ice Block will remove Amber-Shaper Un’sok’s Parasitic Growth ability – a great help in Phase 3.

Terrace of Endless Spring

  • Alter Time will reset your Dread Shadows stacks on Tsulong to 1, no matter how many you had when you cast it.
  • ArcEx can be used to keep Arcane Charge stacks during Lei Shi’s Get Away! ability.
  • Greater Invis and Alter Time appear (unconfirmed) to remove stacks of Scary Fog on H.Lei Shi. Try not to be assigned to this role.
  • Ice Block can be used to negate Breath of Fear, giving more uptime on the Sha of Fear’s adds. Double the fun with Cold Snap!
  • Greater Invisibility is a viable alternative on Sha of Fear; it will be up for every Death Blossom, allowing you more DPS time.
  • The Sha of Fear is big enough that AEx will refresh your AC stack from a fair distance. Use it before Cackle to retain your stack!

Throne of Thunder

  • Blazing Speed is my Recommended Talent for Jin’Rokh the Breaker; combine with Blink for speedy recovery from orb kiting.
  •  Build a big Combustion on Tortos; it can be spread to mini turtles as they spawn.
  •  Useful! #MageTips RT @jnsplace Use Ice Floes on Tortos during turtle or rock dodging phases.
  •  Slightly less useful. #MageTips RT @IRONF0RGED Don’t die.
  •  Blazing Speed + Cinder on Megaera = super-fast Icy Ground melting.

General

  •  RoF is great to temporarily halt (then gather for AE) one stream of Ancestors during An Urgent Plea
  •  Haste increases ALL your regen, not just passive; It affects mana gained from Evocation and Gems, too.
  •  Temporal Shield with Cauterise is an amazingly sexy combination with massive self-healing potential.
  •  Make a macro for /cast Mage Bomb. It will change depending on the Bomb you pick.
  •  Damage from Blizzard and Flamestrike do not break Frost Nova.
  •  With reasonable latency and glyphed DF, you can get an IL+DF combo off with just one FoF charge. Lance MUST come first!
  •  A macro combining Temporal Shield (off the GCD) and Incanter’s Ward is very useful!
  •  The first ‘tick’ of Frozen Orb will always grant a FoF charge.
  •  Alter Time will only interrupt spell casting if you’ve moved since casting it. If you stand in the same place, it won’t.
  • This post on EJ is an excellent chart that tells you exactly when your next haste breakpoint is approaching.
  • The Glyph of Rapid Teleportation will also work on portals cast by other Mages and NPCs (like the one on Shan’ze Dao)
  • Glyph of Icy Veins contains a hidden +20% chance to proc Fingers of Frost, to make up for the reduced tick speed of Bomb spells.
  • ‘Fight fire with fire’ does not apply to A’lar.
  • Use “/cast [@target] Frostbolt” to stop yourself auto-casting at your pet.
  • Your Bomb spells will explode when your target dies, not just when they expire.
  • Arcane Explosion makes the Pest Problems daily, for the Tillers, ridiculously fast (5.2 update: also applies to The Creeping Carpet of Ihgaluk).
  • Contrary to opinion, Arcane AoE IS viable (on high-health targets). Bomb, Flamestrike and clear stacks with ABG, rather than keeping them.
  • Ancient Teleport: Dalaran (from Koegler’s shelves if Book Burner doesn’t hit books) is a great way to get to the Greench…or troll raid mates.
  • If you can hit something with it, Arcane Explosion is a useful way to keep AC stacks up while moving.
  • Frost is a good offspec for haste-stacking Arcane Mages, as they both benefit from the stat (unlike Fire or mastery-Arcane).
  • Generally, Frost’s AoE and burst makes it superior to other specs for Challenge Modes.
  • Glyph of Armours increases each armour’s defensive benefit by 10 percentage POINTS, not 10% of the original number.
  • Frost Bomb calculates its damage based on when it explodes, not when you cast it. Make sure your cooldowns are up.
  • NT and LB can be ‘clipped’ – refresh them just before they expire and you’ll still get the last tick/explosion.
Posted in Mage, Mists of Pandaria, Patch 5.0, patch 5.1, Voices From The Community

The 5.2 Mage PVE raiding survey

Now that 5.2 is here, there is a lot of angst and worry happening in the mage forum. For me to be able to go to the community managers with mage problems, I need data. I’ve done this type of thing before when I was raiding on a druid, but now that I’m raiding as a frost mage, I have a great deal invested in mages being viable now.

To be able to take data to the community managers & developers, I need actual World of Log data from your raids. So, I’m collecting log data and general feedback from the community. I think that collecting context for the logs is actually more important than just the log rankings alone. The original post is available on the US forums here. You can post responses directly on the forum posts or leave a comment on the blog (which is especially helpful for EU readers). There is also someone who cross-posted on the EU forums, so EU players can post there.

Specifically, it would be helpful if you filled out the answers to the following questions and posted it here:

Part 1: Show me the Mage numbers:
1) What is your current 5.2 specialization?
2) What type of content have you run in 5.2 (5-mans, solo, LFR, 10-normal, 25-normal, etc)?
3) Link(s) to 5.2 raid logs on your mage (even LFR logs are useful):
4) Did you change specializations for 5.2? If you changed specs for 5.2, what spec were you before?
5) Is your ilevel generally around the same range as your other raid members from the logs you posted? If not, are you over-geared or under-geared compared to the other members of your raid?

Part 2: How are you feeling about your mage?

6) What is your average ilevel?
7) What quality of life problems are you seeing with your current specialization?
8) If you changed specializations, why did you change?
9) Overall, how do you feel about your current spec’s movement damage?
10) Overall, how do you feel about your current spec’s stand-still damage?
11) Overall, how do you feel about your current spec’s utility in raids?
12) If you could change one thing to improve your current spec, what would it be?

Posted in 5.2, Mage, Mists of Pandaria, Written By Lissanna

The plight of a stationary spec in movement-heavy encounters

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.

Posted in 5.2, Mage, Written By Lissanna

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