Monday, August 29, 2011

Frosty Specs, current to 4.2

Fire and Arcane have it relatively easy when it comes to creating their spec; Fire has, more-or-less, a "right way" to spec, and Arcane has only one variation, depending on whether or not you want to do AoE or run around like a jackass.

Frost, on the other hand, can be run a few different ways. You can spec to use Ignite for Frostfire Bolts, or not. You can choose to run Molten Armor for additional Crit chance, or Mage/Frost Armor for mana conservation. You can spec to deal with large mobs that need to be dealt with using Blizzard, or you can spec to increase your chance to proc Fingers of Frost against small trash mobs where Blizzard would be a waste.

Below are some variations for Frost PvE. Naturally, there are even slighter tweaks that can be made, depending on the situation; I'll discuss that as necessary.

Before we go on, something worth noting on the WoWHead Talent Calculator is that the tooltip for Ice Shards does not update when Permafrost is taken. Permafrost increases the slowing effect on Blizzard (along with all other spells with Chill effects), adding 4%/3%/3% per level. For example, if two points are taken in Ice Shards, and one point is taken in Permafrost, Blizzard will have a 44% movement slow. Though not reflected in the WoWHead Talent Calculator, it can be seen in game once the spec is finalized.

A. With Ignite:

These variations assume that you'll be putting the minimum amount of points in the Frost tree (31), allowing for eight (8) points in Fire to spec for Ignite and putting all remaining points in the Arcane Tree's Netherwind Presence. There's also a tacit assumption that you'll use Glyph of Frostfire.

The big deal about this spec is that your Frostfire Bolt becomes a _huge_ part of your damage. Without Ignite and Glyph of Frostfire, your Frostfire Bolt hits for roughly the same amount of damage as your Ice Lance, making it more like a Clearcast Ice Lance. When we add in the Glyph and Ignite, there's no comparison whatsoever. Comparing average Crit damages from a recent Raid log, my Ice Lance generally crits for 31K. The impact damage of FFB is anywhere from 4-10K higher than that, depending on the fight. Add in the two ticks of Ignite, which range from 7.2-8.2K on my log, and you have a huge damage difference over Ice Lance. Did I mention that Brain Freeze FFBs cost 0 Mana?

Here are a few variations on Ignite specs for Frost. The important talents to take note of in the variations are Piercing Chill, Permafrost, Ice Shards, and Enduring Winter.

1. AoE-Friendly

For what it's worth, this is the spec I run by default.

Permafrost and Ice Shards are maxed out for AoE purposes. One point in Enduring Winter for raid buff, and to ease the pain of Blizzard's mana cost. No points in Piercing Chill.

The main point of this spec is that your Blizzard now has a 50% slow. This makes it very effective on large AoE groups, who will no longer quickly run out of your Blizzard spell. This is also absolutely imperative if you're going to deal with large, moving AoE mobs that are untanked or have no threat table (Spiderlings during Shannox, Lava Parasites during Magmaw, Blood of the Old God during Cho'Gall). Keep in mind that your Blizzard will be just as effective on mobs handled by a tank without Permafrost and Ice Shards (unless you aggro them!). One point in Enduring Winter ensures that your party has the Replenishment Raid buff, but also, any bit of reduction on the mana cost of Blizzard is welcome.

The only possible variation of this spec would be to put the point from Enduring Winter into Piercing Chill; however, Piercing Chill is more important for fights where there will be no use for Blizzard, making it a bit pointless, if you ask me. Unless you find yourself in the terribly specific situation where you are alternating between attacking small and large mobs (Heroic Halfus, I guess? Kind of?), stick to your one point in Enduring Winter.

2. WTF Is Blizzard

Piercing Chill and Enduring Winter are maxed out, for best efficiency in Frostbolt spam. One point is taken in Permafrost for the 'Healing Received' Raid Debuff. No points are taken in Ice Shards.

This spec is good for small trash mobs, or encounters with multiple enemies which may come close together (Shannox, Rhyolith, Al'Akir, Halfus). Since Piercing Chill has a chance to Chill nearby targets, your chance to proc Fingers of Frost and Brain Freeze goes up, ultimately leading to slightly higher single-target DPS. Remember that if you're fighting an encounter with no adds, you won't get any benefit from this spec.

The variation of this spec is to remove points from Enduring Winter and put them into Icy Shards. However, just like the variation on AoE-Friendly variation where we spread the talent points out, it's too situation-specific to be really effective in most encounters.

Glyphs for Ignite specs:

Your Prime Glyphs have little variation.

First off, I recommend against glyphing for Molten Armor. You don't exactly have the leeway in Ignite specs to be running Molten Armor; you'll run out of mana too fast unless you're doing a short fight, and wasting globals to switch back and forth between armors can result in a huge DPS loss, aside from obvious burn phases. Also, unlike Arcane Mages, using Evocation for the purposes of gaining mana back mid-fight is a big DPS loss. You should try to reach the crit cap without Molten Armor, which can be really easy or extremely frustrating depending on your Raid composition.

Thus, your Prime Glyphs are pretty cut-and-dry:

- Frostfire
- Deep Freeze
- Frostbolt

Frostfire and Deep Freeze hopefully don't need explanations. You're going to be casting Frostbolt a hell of a lot more than Ice Lance, so do what you can to increase its damage - Glyph for Frostbolt.

For Major Glyphs, you're gonna want Ice Barrier for survivability. Evocation is taken for emergency survivability, too. Your last glyph could be a few things:

- Blink gets you around the arena faster, and is good for encounters where you may have to move large distances to hit your targets.
- Frost Armor will basically give you a variation on Mage Armor that works for Physical Damage. The only fight that it's been useful on for this tier so far is Shannox, though I haven't gotten to Heroic modes yet.
- Polymorph is useful when clearing trash, because it...well, because it does what the glyph says it does.

Finally, for Minor Glyphs, the important ones are Slow Fall (saves you money and heartache) and Arcane Brilliance (Will need to be recast in the case of a Battle Res). Mirror Image, which gives Fire and Arcane a minor DPS increase, is useless for Frost. So, pick whatever you like for your last glyph! I personally like Glyph of Armors, because screw having your Armor on a separate timer from Arcane Brilliance.

B. Without Ignite:

If you have a deep, seething hatred for speccing for should play Arcane. Still, if you insist on playing Frost this way, here are some honorable mentions:

1. Versatile

This is the best way I can think of to run a non-Ignite spec. Piercing Chill, Permafrost, Ice Shards, and Enduring Winter are maxed out in the Frost tree, as is Netherwind Presence in the Arcane Tree. No points are taken in Master of Elements in the Fire tree. This spec assumes the user will be running Mage Armor or Frost Armor.

Keep in mind that your damage is going to be lower this way than Ignite specs, and your rotation will phase out Frostfire Bolt entirely; it simply isn't going to do as much damage as Ice Lance, which is favored when Glyphing in the spec since you can use it far more often. What it will get you, however, is versatility in dealing with AoE and small trash mobs, due to having all four of the normally-optional Frost Talents maxed out.

Glyphs for "Versatile" spec:

Take Frostbolt and Deep Freeze for Prime Glyphs, as usual. You won't be running Molten Armor or using Frostfire Bolt, so those glyphs are out. Thus, your last glyph by default is Ice Lance.

Major and Minor glyphs follow the same rules as Ignite specs: Ice Barrier and Evocation for Major, Slow Fall and Arcane Brilliance for Minor. Your third Major could be Blink, Frost Armor, or Polymorph, depending on what you're doing. Go nuts with your last Minor Glyph slot.

2. Mana Conservation, a.k.a GIMME Dem Crits

This is an extremely burst-heavy spec for single-target DPS which relies on the encounter being very short. It's specifically tailored for Mages who are not close to the crit cap, as the DPS in the beginning of the fight will be much higher than other Frost PvE specs when well below the Crit cap. It's implied that you will be running Molten Armor, with Glyph of Molten Armor for an additional 2% crit on all your attacks. It's also assumed that you will get every possible ability to conserve your mana, because you couldn't piss it out much faster with this spec.

Only one point is taken in Permafrost for the Raid Debuff, and no points are taken in Ice Shards. Every talent which reduces mana costs is maxed out (Enduring Winter, Master of Elements, Arcane Concentration). giving the Mage as much breathing room as possible to last the encounting before running out of Mana.

Keep in mind that, while this spec can seem extremely powerful, its usefulness wanes as you move closer to the crit cap. When you do, you can start running Mage Armor/Frost Armor instead of Molten Armor, and thus you'll have a wasted glyph and at least four talent points spent on mana conservation that could be allocated elsewhere. ...Like, on Ignite.

Glyphs for "GDC":

Your Prime Glyphs are Molten Armor, Ice Lance, and Deep Freeze. Since the majority of your damage in this spec comes from Fingers of Frost crits and the burst at the beginning of the encounter, you want to make sure you get the most possible mileage out of Ice Lance and Deep Freeze. Molten Armor is glyphed for reasons I already went over. You won't need to take Glyph of Frostbolt, on the count of Molten Armor raising the Critical Strike Chance of Frostbolt by 5% already, along with all your other spells.

As is typical, you'll take Ice Barrier and Evocation for Major Glyphs. Your last slot is a wild card, but you're only choosing between Blink and Polymorph now, since you won't need to be running any armor but Molten Armor.

For Minor Glyphs, the usual applies: Slow Fall, Arcane Brilliance, whatever-you-want for a third.


Any questions, comments, or concerns, yell at me!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Intro Post

I'm not the best PvE Frost Mage.

I don't claim to know everything, and I'm hardly the ultimate authority on how best to go about playing Frost in raids.

That being said, I'm definitely not the worst PvE Frost Mage. I'm not without experience in my class nor competitive gaming in general.

I'll be talking about my experiences and thoughts playing a Frost Mage in a competitive raiding guild, as well as my general strategies. Some of this stuff can be found in other places already, but I want to have a consolidated, organized resource for all things Frosty. More importantly, if I can generate meaningful discussion, attract even better players to read my blog, improve my own game in the process of helping others, and help educate people against the misconception that Frost Mage is for PvP only, then this blog will be a success in my eyes.

I'm Jamie. I've been playing WoW for about a year, and I've been raiding since Tier 11. I've come a long way since then, and it's only getting better. I have a background in competitive 2D Fighting games, which I hope will be the groundwork for my own unique perspective to WoWCraft raiding. When shit gets topsy turvy in a raid, you Ice Block. When there's trouble with your strats, gearing/talent/glyph Ice Blog.