Thursday, November 24, 2011

Mists of Pandaria feedback post.

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:


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).

...So, Frost.

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?

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Frostylosophy - Every last consideration I make when DPS'ing in Frost.

Me and Corv are planning a new add-on. Now that he's done with IceCap - an add-on which helps Frosties determine their crit-cap at any time - we are thinking about a new add-on for Frost Mages, which we hope to make into the CombustionHelper or MageManaBar equivalent for Frost.

We've got plenty of ideas scribbled out; but, more importantly, Corv asked me to type out...well, essentially every last thought I have about how to maximize damage in Frost PvE. I doubt that every piece of info I wrote will be relevant to the add-on (the AoE stuff in particular, I'm not really sure if an add-on is necessary for), but it's definitely got us narrowing down what information is most important to track.. If you're a Mage, read it, weigh in, and tell all your Mage friends to weigh in, too!

A: Single Target

Your Single-Target Spells: Frostbolt, Ice Lance, Deep Freeze, Frostfire Bolt, Frostfire Orb (Flame Orb), Freeze (Pet Ability)


1, Frostfire Orb on CD

1.1. Initiate Pet Attack manually, and remember to do so every time your previous target dies.

2. Deep Freeze on CD

3. Frostfire Bolt (see conditions for more info)

4. Ice Lance (see conditions for more info)

5. Freeze (see conditions for more info)

6. Frostbolt; at least once every 15 seconds, when Early Frost procs.

Single Target Conditions & Wisdom:

1. Use Frostbolt if:

- You have no charges of Fingers of Frost or Brain Freeze, and Freeze is on cooldown.
- Early Frost is up and you do not have Brain Freeze + Fingers of Frost.
- Early Frost is up, Frostfire Orb is active, and you have no charges of anything.

- Wisdom: Glyph for Frostbolt. You'll be casting it a lot, and you should do as much damage as possible with it.
- Wisdom: Use up your Early Frost proc as soon as possible; at normal levels of Haste for a Frost Mage, it will reduce the cast time by roughly 1/3, meaning one additional Frostbolt per minute.

2. Use Freeze (Pet Ability) if:

- You have no Fingers of Frost Procs
- Frostfire Orb is not active
- Or, during the GCD of Frostfire Orb.
- Pet Freeze can be cast during a long cast, or during a GCD; thus, you should always do so. It's best when used during a proc-based GCD (Ice Lance, Deep Freeze, Frostfire Bolt) which has no chance of proccing Fingers of Frost.

- Wisdom: If you don't trust yourself to manage procs properly, You can use Pet Freeze as a cooldown by using it just before Deep Freeze comes off of cooldown.

Freeze CD: 25 Seconds.

- "Why is Freeze so far down in the rotation?" Yes, a lot of rotations put this near the top; however, Deep Freeze, FFB, and Ice Lance are only cast under the assumption that you have at least Fingers of Frost charge, except in special circumstances. Thus, if you have any FoF charges, Freeze goes to the bottom of the priority queue. If you have no FoF charges, Pet Freeze jumps up to the top, just behind Pet attack. Thus, your boss fights will usually begin with FFOrb, and you'll start Pet Attack and cast Pet Freeze before FFO's GCD is up. If you are switching targets mid fight and Freeze is coming off cooldown, it jumps just ahead of Pet Attack.

3. Use Ice Lance if:

- YOU DO NOT HAVE BRAIN FREEZE. <--- This applies to all conditions.
- You have two (2) Fingers of Frost charges.
- You have any number of Fingers of Frost Charges, and Freeze is about to come off cooldown.
- You have one (1) Fingers of Frost charge, Deep Freeze is on CD, and...
- You need to move.
- The fight is about to end
- You have two Frostfire Orbs out, and don't trust yourself to react to gaining the second charge quickly enough.
- Your Deep Freeze stunned the target.

- Wisdom: Don't Glyph for Ice Lance unless you didn't spec for Ignite.
- Bonus Wisdom: Spec for Ignite.
- Wisdom: If you need to move and Deep Freeze is on CD, try to only move when you have a Fingers of Frost proc. If you absolutely have to move without it...cast Fire Blast first.
- Wisdom: ...Try really hard not to let the last two conditions for casting Ice Lance occur.

4. Use Frostfire Bolt if:

- YOU HAVE BRAIN FREEZE. <--- This applies to all conditions.
- You have two (2) Fingers of Frost charges.
- You have one (1) Fingers of Frost charge, and Deep Freeze is not about to come off CD.
- You have no (0) Fingers of Frost charges, and have held Brain Freeze through several casts.
- You have to move.

- Wisdom: Glyph for Frostfire Bolt. Not only does it increase the damage by a ton, but it removes the Chill effect, preventing it from proccing Fingers of Frost just before a Pet Freeze.
- Wisdom: "Several casts" is awfully subjective, and you should try and get a feel for how long you can hold onto a charge of Brain Freeze before proccing another. I personally like to wait until there's been roughly a 50% chance to proc before throwing FFB without FoF. You have a 49% chance to proc BF after four casts. With 4t12, you have a 51% chance to proc after two casts. The most important thing is not to waste a Brain Freeze proc; it's free damage, instant-cast, and can still proc Ignite.
- Wisdom: If you need to move, try only to move when you have a Brain Freeze proc. When moving, of course, Deep Freeze takes precedence over BF+FoF. If you absolutely have to move without any procs...again, use Fire Blast.

5. Use Deep Freeze if:

- It is off cooldown, immediately, as quick as possible.

- Wisdom: If Deep Freeze is about to come off cooldown, you may wish to save one (1) charge of Fingers of Frost. This sounds cut and dry, but becomes more complicated when Deep Freeze is about to come off cooldown with BF+FoF. Get a feel for how often your Fingers of Frost will proc, so that you can find a comfortable 'waiting time' for holding your procs. For example, I personally choose five seconds before CD. At this time, no matter what, I will not use a Brain Freeze proc with only one charge of Fingers of Frost. The only exceptions are:
- Pet Freeze will come off cooldown during/within a few seconds of your personal time frame.
- Frostfire Orb will come off cooldown during/within a few seconds of your personal time frame.

6. Use Frostfire Orb if:

- It is off cooldown, with some considerations:
- Do not use it on an add that's about to die; try throwing it at something that's going to live long.
- Do not use it on a target that's moving or likely to move in the next 15-20 seconds.
- Be sure there are no obstructions in the path you're planning to throw it in.

- Wisdom: ...Naturally, you should talent to make this the Frostfire Orb. I figure that's a given, but hey! If you are wondering why, it's because Flame Orb can't proc Fingers of Frost/Brain Freeze.
- Wisdom: If you have trouble keeping up with your procs, it can be useful to get rid of your FoF/BF procs before using Frostfire Orb. In any case, I personally never throw FFO with two (2) charges of Fingers of Frost, or if I have a Brain Freeze proc, as it's entirely possible to proc a charge before the GCD is finished.
- Wisdom: As noted above, do not try using Pet Freeze during Frostfire Orb. You may risk it if you can get rid of all your procs and do not have Early Frost ready; however, there's always a fair risk of having a wasted FoF proc, so be careful.

B. AoE Spells: Blizzard, Cone of Cold, Freeze (Pet Ability), Flamestike

I. Cone of Cold rotation (6-8 adds):

1. Frostfire Orb on CD

1.1. Initiate Pet Attack manually, and remember to do so every time your previous target dies.

1.2. (Cone of Cold)

2. Deep Freeze on CD

2.1 (Cone of Cold)

3. Frostfire Bolt

3.1. (Cone of Cold)

4. Ice Lance

4.1 (Cone of Cold)

5. Freeze

6. Frostbolt; at least once every 15 seconds, when Early Frost procs.

Conditions & Wisdom:

1. General:

Yes, this is the single-target rotation with Cone of Cold built in. Since Cone of Cold is an eight-second cooldown, you can't spam it, and if you don't have over eight (8) adds, I wouldn't reccomend using Blizzard. Thus, the ideal is to use Cone of Cold at certain points in your single-target rotation while focusing the most resilient add. You probably won't use Cone of Cold more than twice until there are too few adds to bother keeping it in your rotation. At that point, remove it from the rotation and ignore all conditions listed below in favor of the conditions and wisdom of the single-target rotation.

2. When to use Cone of Cold?

The reality of the situation is, all of your non-Frostbolt spells are probably going to do more damage than Cone of Cold. Thus, your single-target abilities take precedence. Thus:

- If you have Deep Freeze ready, use Deep Freeze before Cone of Cold; Cone of Cold is placed at 2.1 in the above rotation.
- If you have BF+FoF, use Frostfire Bolt before Cone of Cold; Cone of Cold is placed at 3.1 in the above rotation.
- If you have any Fingers of Frost charges (but without Brain Freeze), use Ice Lance before Cone of Cold; Cone of Cold is placed at 4.1 in the above rotation.
- Finally, assuming Pet Freeze is on cooldown and you have no procs at all, Cone of Cole is placed at 1.2 in the above rotation.

3. What about Freeze?

- Remember that Cone of Cold has a chill effect and can proc Fingers of Frost/Brain Freeze. So, if you have no procs available, cast Cone of Cold, get rid of any procs generated by Cone of Cold, then cast Freeze during one of your GCDs.

II. Blizzard Rotation (9+ Adds, short-to-moderate length pull)

1. Blizzard

1.1 Freeze, during Blizzard

1.2 Pet Attack (see conditions for more info)

2.x. Deep Freeze/Frostfire Bolt/Ice Lance (see conditions for more info)

Conditions & Wisdom:

1. "Freeze doesn't do much damage..."

There's two big reasons you want to use Freeze:

- If you are trying to AoE adds with no aggro table, you are going to need to root them in place; hence, Freeze is absolutely important.
- Even if you aren't fighting adds with no aggro table, your Mastery - Frostburn - will increase the damage done against Frozen Targets, and the talent "Shatter" multiplies your Critical Strike chance against Frozen targets. Thus, Freeze gives your Blizzard bonus damage and a huge bonus to Crit chance.

2. Controlling your pet

This might be a result of my being horrible at moving my pet; however, I find that it's incredibly difficult at times to be able to use Freeze in AoE situations if my Pet is going nuts on something. Thus, I tend to place my Pet on passive just before an AoE Rotation, allowing him to move closer to me. Once I cast Freeze, I can resume attacking something. If there's a main enemy that won't die to the AoE (i.e Ragnaros phase 2), have the pet attack that enemy. Otherwise, be ready to switch targets a lot.

3. I got SO much procs right now!

Naturally, using Pet Freeze will get you max Fingers of Frost charges. Your Blizzard, too, has a chance to proc Fingers of Frost AND Brain Freeze. When your Blizzard is almost done channeling, Feel Free to fire some of your procs off if there's a main enemy to focus. If there is no extra-special add, don't worry about throwing off your procs until some of the adds start dying, and you need to switch to the Cone of Cold rotation.

III. Flamestrike Rotation (9+ Adds, no main enemy, long pulls)

1. Flamestrike

2. Blizzard

2.1 Freeze, during Blizzard

1.2 Pet Attack

Conditions & Wisdom:

1. General

This rotation theoretically does more AoE damage than if you were to simply cast Blizzard; however, the damage increase is very, very small, and it requires a pretty specific set of conditions to be optimal:

- There's no main enemy that would necessitate dumping your procs, as Flamestrike requires constant, immediate refreshing for this rotation to be superior.
- The pull is extremely long, with no kiting or possibility for the adds to be moved at all, since this rotation has a bit of a ramp-up and is completely ruined if the adds have to be moved.

Yes, I suppose if these conditions could be met, this rotation would be the highest-damage AoE rotation that Frost could do. ...However, I don't think I've ever found a pull like this yet.

C. Cooldowns:

Your Cooldowns as Frost (profession Cooldowns excluded):

- Icy Veins (Haste, pushback)

- Mirror Image (Pure DPS)

- Cold Snap (Resets CD of Deep Freeze, Frostfire Orb, Icy Veins, Water Elemental, Ice Block)

1. Conditions & Wisdom: Icy Veins

There honestly isn't much to know about Icy Veins. It grants haste, reduces all pushback from oncoming attacks, and its cooldown can be reset by Cold Snap. The cooldown is 2:24...if you'd rather think of it that way than 2.4 Minutes...Naturally, you want to use it on cooldown, barring spots where you know you'll have to AoE (it's true that your AoE spells cast faster...but, the damage increase is not going to be as great). Since Cold Snap can reset the cooldown, you'll want to reset it after it was used recently.

2. Conditions & Wisdom: Mirror Image

There kind of aren't any special conditions. Use it on cooldown, make sure you're close enough to hit some stuff. The only thing I might advise is, if you are running low on mana, you might use some mana cooldowns first, as their max mana upon summoning is based on the remaining percentage of mana you have left. The chance of them OOM'ing in Frost is relatively low compared to, say, Arcane; but, don't risk wasting a cooldown.

3. Conditions & Wisdom: Cold Snap

The cooldown is 6:24, so the chances that you'll use it twice are pretty slim on anything but raid bosses. However, you do want to use it at the beginning of the fight. The exact sequence I use at the beginning of a fight is:

- Frostbolt (x2? x3?)
- Freeze
- Deep Freeze
- Frostfire Orb
- Icy Veins
- Cold Snap
- Deep Freeze
- Frostfire Orb

I may begin with more than one Frostbolt if I'm feeling unlucky, as this sequence nets extremely high burst damage and generates a ton of threat. After this is done, use your single target rotation as normal until Icy Veins runs out; then, cast Mirror Image and use Icy Veins again.

If Cold Snap comes off cooldown before the end of the fight, make sure that none of your affected spells are about to come off cooldown. If they have all been used recently or still have over half their cooldown left, that would be a good time to use Cold Snap midfight.

IV: Miscellaneous

1. Crit Debuff - Critical Mass, Shadow and Flame

These are raid debuffs caused by Fire Mages and Warlocks respectively. They increase a target's chance to be critically hit by 5%, and is vital to your single target rotation spells having a 100% chance to crit. Do your best to ensure that you're paired up with the Fire Mage/Warlock in your raid group, as it can have a pretty large effect on your DPS.

2. Fire Blast in Frost?

If you have to move with no procs of Fingers of Frost or Brain Freeze, can't use Frostfire Orb, Pet Freeze is on cooldown, and you don't need to refresh Ice Barrier, Mage Ward, or Mirror Image, Water Elemental, you don't need to remove any curses, CC/Spellsteal/Interrupt anything, aren't being counted on at that exact moment to cast Time Warp, you don't need to refresh a recently B-Rezzed raid member's Arcane Brilliance or aid anyone with Slow Fall, you don't need to cast Blink, Ice Block or Invisibility to avoid certain death, and there aren't a few adds within close range for you to try and scrape up some procs with Cone of Cold...when you truly have nothing else of value to do with a GCD...

...I would recommend casting Fire Blast over Ice Lance with no Fingers of Frost procs. It does about the same damage as Ice Lance, and can proc Ignite. If you have already cast Fire Blast on the move, still need to move out of danger and still don't need to do ANY of the above-mentioned actions, THEN cast Ice Lance with no Fingers of Frost procs.