Sunday, August 26, 2012

Remembering the Old Frost.

On Tuesday, Frost will no longer be the same. With the release of 5.0.4, every spec will be changing. Some will be getting minimal changes, while others will be completely revamped; Frost Mage is one such spec.

Part of me is sad because of the feeling of pride I got from playing Frost Mage in the current expansion; it was nice to know I could hold my own while playing a spec that was simply not made to be effective in PvE. More importantly, though, I'm sad because I think that Frost PvE right now is more fun than anything else. The coming changes might make the spec more accessible and more viable for the majority of the player-base; but, as subjective as it is to say, I think it will also be much more boring.

Thus, I'm writing this post. Partially in remembrance of how PvE Frost was in Cataclysm, and partially to discuss what's exciting about the new PvE Frost - after all, not every change is bad. Hell, maybe I'll be happily proven wrong, and find that the new Frost is more fun than the old Frost; I doubt it, though.

Here we go.

Frost Mage was the reason I started playing WoW. When my brother was desperately naming off every class and what they do in PvP (the original reason I started playing WoW...hah), Frost Mage sounded right up my alley. While my times being a jackass in Arenas and Battlegrounds ultimately paled in comparison to the times I spent in dungeons and raids, I still had a lot of fun doing both. More specifically, Frost made PvE pretty fun, for a change. I enjoyed how the complexity didn't come in the form of having twenty-seven buttons, but instead from the myriad amounts of choices I had to make with just a few buttons. DPS'ing in some "complex" specs just feels like operating all the individual cogs and wheels of a Rube Goldberg machine; Frost, on the other hand, always felt clear and simple in its design, while still taking time and effort to master.

Old Frost, I will miss Deep Freeze being a damaging spell, because I simply don't think Frost will be complex enough without multiple ways of using Fingers of Frost procs. Likewise, I'm gonna miss Frostfire Bolt taking a charge of Fingers of Frost (if available), for the same reason. I miss having Ignite as Frost, since it gave Frostfire Bolt some interesting mechanics in both single-target and AoE situations (if you specced for Impact). Most of all, I miss having reasons to NOT spend your Fingers of Frost/Brain Freeze procs right away, because I think it was the biggest contributing factor to Frost's sophistication.

Now, it's going to be very cut-and-dry: Single-Target? Your priority is Frostfire Bolt, then Ice Lance. AoE/Cleave? Your priority is Ice Lance, then Frostfire Bolt. Any reason to hold onto procs? I guess, burst damage, and that's about it. Even then, recharging the procs quickly is going to be easy (it always was, but even easier now), what with a DoT proccing our Brain Freeze for us, and Frozen Orb being an additional way to get an instant proc. This is one way, in my opinion, that we have been unequivocally dumbed down.

Old Frost, I will not miss your terrible AoE. Blizzard on frozen targets? Cone of Cold randomly once or twice in the middle of our single-target rotation? Spreading Ignite with Impact? (well, I liked that last one, but it's gone) That was never AoE, ever. Too weak, too sparse. Good riddance to the old.

Now, on top of Blizzard and a much, much stronger Cone of Cold, we'll have a cleaving Ice Lance (which we can glyph to cleave even more), cleaving DoTs (or Frost Bomb), a new AoE orb (Frozen Orb), and potentially, a cleaving EVERYTHING with glyphed Icy Veins. My only question now is why glyphed Icy Veins isn't the normal spell, because it's way more interesting and fun. Frost can hit multiple targets, now. Rejoice.

Old Frost, I will not miss the old Frostbolt. Sorry, but the new Frostbolt is just better. Early Frost was a lame incentive to cast Frostbolt, but ramping damage to Frostbolt, Ice Lance, AND my Water Ele is an excellent incentive. And of course, Fingers of Frost, but that isn't new. ...I suppose I'll miss Brain Freeze procs with Frostbolt; but, unlike the FoF changes, I can live with this one.

Old Frost, I'm ambivalent about the new Glyph changes. I can't decide if I would take your mandatory Primes, inane Majors, and mandatory (wtf?!) Minors over the new Frost's "only-useful-for-DPS-if-you're-in-an-AoE-situation" Majors, and "not-mandatory-but-huge-quality-of-life-improvement-and-therefore-mandatory-enough" Minor glyphs.

I really don't see how Mages of any kind are going to roll without Glyph of Momentum and Glyph of Loose Mana once they grow accustomed to them. The Major Glyphs that increase damage all hinge on whether or not we're in AoE/Cleave situations or not. ...Well, there's Water Elemental...and I guess Glyphed Fire Blast if you're using Frost Bomb. But, really? Those are boring, minimal DPS increases for single-target. The Glyph choice becomes much more complex if you DO have an AoE situation on your hands, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't find the lack of single-target DPS increase Glyphs to be really lame.

Old Frost, I think I will simultaneously miss and not-miss the old Talent Tree. For as many mandatory talents that existed, there was a lot of wiggle room with Frost to put talent points where you wanted. I think Frost PvE was one of the better examples of the old Talent Trees giving players choice (where most, honestly, did not).

The New Talent Trees will be more condensed, and while I some of them are very useful, I don't find most of the choices to be very interesting. "Hmmm. I could silence a guy...Freeze a lot of guys like THIS...or Freeze a lot of guys like THAT." I also honestly feel like some choices are still no-brainers...I know every Mage is lusting for Cauterize, but seriously? I'll take Greater Invisibility ANY day for the damage mitigation. Who would ever pick Cold Snap, by the way? Thus, while the old talent trees may have been chock full of no-brainers, Old Frost at least had a lot of fun decisions...surprisingly more than they will now, if you ask me.

Old Frost, I will miss gearing optimally to get the maximum amount of DPS from you. ...Or, will I? To be honest, I don't know what gearing for New Frost is going to be like. Crit is devalued (you'll need about 7% more crit to get crit-capped now, if I remember correctly), and we now need Haste (thanks to Nether Attunement, Mage Bombs, and Early Frost not capping us randomly) and Mastery (better sustained damage and AoE damage) than ever before. I always felt like Old Frost, after getting crit-capped, could play any way they liked (although I preferred Mastery-heavy builds).

It seems like Haste is about to become the crowned king, but who knows? It's still not too farfetched to become Crit-Capped. Maybe there'll be multiple ways of playing the New Frost, now. Maybe we'll have some that stack crit and get wacky damage off their Ice Lances and Frostfire Bolts. Maybe we'll have ones that stack Haste and get mad DoT damage. Maybe we'll have Mastery Frosties that just sit on their ass and let the Water Elemental do everything. I guess we'll find out!

And so. Here's to you, Old Frost. Old Frost wasn't perfect. Old Frost did terrible damage. Old Frost had mandatory glyphs, and a mandatory stat cap.Old Frost AoE/Cleave was a joke. In fact, writing this post helped me realize how much I had to look forward to in New Frost, even if I'm still losing my favorite part of the spec.

...But, Old Frost was still a lot of fun to play. Out with the old, in with the new, I suppose. This is my eulogy to the Old Frost, the reason I started playing World of Warcraft.