Blizzard recently released their early version of the talent calculator for 5.0, as well as projected spell trees for each class and spec. Their intended purpose is to get feedback and make changes accordingly. Since I'm like, the only Frost Mage on Earth, I felt the need to make a feedback post on Frost myself, after looking at the new changes.
I've included a transcript of the post below. However, you can follow the thread here: http://us.battle.net/wow/en/forum/topic/3595575292
Looking at the talent trees for Mage, I can see the clear idea behind the Fire and Arcane specs, which look similar to how they are right now:
- Fire has to manage their DoTs. They are clearly rewarded for keeping track of their DoTs, as it allows them to do unparalleled AoE damage, and their main DPS cooldown is also a DoT spell that scales in effectiveness based on whether they're playing the class 'correctly' or not (although having Ignite replace Mastery and as a completely static passive ability may trivialize this a bit).
- Arcane has to manage their mana and their Arcane Blast stacks. All Arcane spells deal increased damage based on AB stacks, but the stacks also fall off after a while, so Arcane Blast needs to be refreshed - not spammed - to keep mana high and damage up. Their DPS cooldown plays to this by increasing the damage of spells while increasing the mana cost. It, too, rewards the Arcane Mage for playing the class by its intended design (although I can Arcane Missiles circumventing intelligent use of AP in its current state).
As someone who actually raids in Frost, I've always thought that the philosophy behind Frost was proc management - Fingers of Frost and Brain Freeze can proc quickly and instantly. The number of charges for FoF and BF that a Mage can hold is finite. Also, what a Frost Mage does when they have 1FoF, 2FoF, FoF+BF, whether or not Deep Freeze is off cooldown, etc. is drastically different. Thus, the spec is rewarded for making intelligent decisions on how, where, and when to spend the procs in the QUICKEST amount of time possible - any time we gain a FoF/BF charge when we have the maximum amount is a DPS loss.
Looking at the new spec abilities and talent trees, it appears that I was either wrong about this being the intended design for Frost. DPS between specs are supposed to be more balanced with the new talent trees since they don't get increased survivability/CC options, right? Well, what exactly IS the Frost Mage's design philosophy? I can't figure it out.
Here's what we've got for unique spells:
1. Frostbolt: This doesn't even look attractive. It does less damage than Fireball, has the same base cast time, and costs more mana. Fireball can at least proc Ignite. Arcane Blast increases the damage of every Arcane spell, making its relevance pretty obvious. How is the movement slow for Frostbolt supposed to be equal to these?
2. Summon Water Elemental: This is the big wildcard in the spec. Maybe the Water Elemental is completely revamped, with a variety of cool new options that will make everything clear. ...If not, though, then the only thing it brings to the table is an additional way to freeze an opponent (and not even give us free FoF charges, which is currently the most important aspect of the Water Elemental).
3. Brain Freeze: Whee, an instant cast spell sometimes.
4. Icy Veins: Unlike Fire and Arcane's DPS cooldowns, which reward the class for playing smart, Icy Veins is...haste. Oh, and pushback negation...when we can already reduce it by 70% with a passive. This has always been boring, and I was really hoping that 5.0 would see Icy Veins become a cooldown which increased the rate of FoF/BF procs. Now, that seems less likely than ever.
5. Frost Orb: A GCD for additional damage, with a movement slow. Arcane Orb is obviously better since it benefits from AB, and Flame Orb at least explodes. What gives?
6. Mastery (Frostburn): Since this only increases the damage against Frozen targets, I don't see this being relevant in PvE at all unless Fingers of Frost exists in some form unseen in the spell tree.
The only explanations (except one) that I can see for the state of Frost spec also have flaws:
1. Water Ele has crazy, ballin' abilities we've never seen before
- Yeah, this could potentially be the thing that explains it all. We'll see.
2. Water Ele doesn't have anything new, and its additional damage keeps Frost competitive
2.1 Chilled (slowed) targets are counted as 'Frozen', and thus effected by Frostburn
- Both of these would still leave the spec in a boring state. If Frost is really competitive in this way, who would play Fire and Arcane? You could deal comparable damage with "1 1 1 1 Brain Freeze 1 1 1 1 Frost Orb 1 1 1 1 Icy Veins".
3. Frost Mages are expected to freeze bosses/adds in raids
- If raid bosses be snared with these kinds of spells, it will either be knocked off too quickly by incoming damage from other sources, or hold the boss in place for long amounts of time, causing potential problems with tank positioning (I could imagine a variety of potential wipes due to this).
Even if this were the case, Frost apparently only has one ability that freezes targets in place - Frost Nova. Pet Freeze may exist, that's true. This means that for optimal DPS, we'd have to rely on Ice Warding the tank for AoE and Frostjaw for single target. I don't think this could be right, though, since the talents are supposed to be for flavor and utility, without there being any "must-have" talents for a spec.
I apologize if I come off sounding overly negative - I'm just disappointed to see that Frost Mage might wind up being worse than before, become boring, or both. I really wanted to speak up and find out what's going on...and, if these things really were overlooked, I wanted to bring them to light. I mean, there's only like two Frost Mages in WoW, right? So if I don't, what are the odds that the other Frostie was ever going to speak up?