OK guys and gals, today I'm going to be talking about Frost Mages and PvE. I'm currently levelling as Frost and doing rather well (thanks for asking) - very nearly 85 but unfortunately all those piffling interrurptions like having a job, missus, kids etc keep me only playing about 2-3 hours a night. On top of that I'm not a power leveller player, at 84 I'm only just exploring Uldum and I like it that way. Cata has only just come out and I'm in no hurry.
Anyway, although I toddle about in my own little way, exploring ruins, researching ancient artifacts and beating pygmies with mallets, I do read up ready for when I hit the heroic dungeons. Hell, what kind of a mage would I be if I didn't surround myself with dusty books and candlelight looking at ways for greater and great power. So this is my first treatise on Frost Mages in PvE so far; many thanks to Zeldyrr at Elitist Jerks and to Kuni on MMO-Champion for his excellent Frost post.
I still advocate that in Cataclysm you are far less restricted about 'must have' talents and I really really do think you should 'go with what feels right'. That said, below is roughly what I work with and approximately about the same as most HC or Raiding Frost Mages are going for.
OK a couple of notes on this; firstly I haven't gone for Early Frost. I can definitely see the advantage to it but for me personally the 15sec limitation is a killer, I would rather save the points for Netherwind Presence, Master of Elements and Burning Soul in the Arcane & Fire trees. I've also taken Permafrost - some people might like to swap up two points of that for two points in Ignite in the Fire tree, especially if you're a Frostfire kind of person because it will had a nice effect on your Frostfire Bolt and Frostfire Orb. Personally I like keeping Mr. Sploshy alive and limiting healing on trash mobs although I might change this for sake of DPS and I'd definitely change this for Frostfire mage chicanery.
(Click on Read More for more)
Now, Enduring Winter; I have seen some Frost mages only take 1 point in this and instead advocate the use of Mage Armour to maintain mana. I'm not overly sure why, I have so far never gone OOM in a fight and I put that down to Enduring Winter (all spells cost 10% less mana) and Master of Elements (Spell criticals refund 30% of base mana cost) plus I get to use Molten Armour for Crit. On top of that, you help out your raid buddies and who doesn't want to be a helpful mage? Being useful and helping healers recover mana (even if it's not a loads and loads) seems a lot better to me. Again if you're a Frostfire you may rethink this as you'll unlikely to be using as many frostbolts therefore you'll not be 'raid buffing'.
With glyphs, well Deep Freeze is pretty much a must and as I spam Frostbolt then the Frostbolt glyph seems logical. Finally I go for Molten Armour because I don't have mana issues and use molten armour a lot more. Again you need to weigh up what's right for you though.
If I was going to go Frostfire, I'd prob opt for the following:
You can discuss the merits of opting for 3/3 in Ignite over 3/3 in Netherwind Presence; I honestly don't know the numbers. I'll admit right now, it also pains me to take points out of Enduring Winter - I can see the appeal of Frostfire but I just don't think it's for me.
Although I've used Ice Shards whilst levelling, so far in my experiencing in Dungeons it's been of limited use. The increase in Ice Lance range is nice but really you need to get closer for Frostbolt and Deep Freeze anyway, I have used Blizzard about twice in Dungeon runs (not including Dredgers) and in those few occasions the speed debuff on trash was virtually next to worthless. Just my experience but personally I do view this as more a PvP talent.
Yes I already covered stat priorities before, but for ease of reference here they are again.
Hit (hit cap at level 85 is 1742)
Haste As frost is all about the procs and, thanks to Enduring Winter, probably has the least to worry about mana wise then it's all about getting as many spells off as fast as possible so stack up on the haste. This is particularly important when looking to get as many spells off as possible against frozen targets.
Crit - Celebrin at EJ advocates stacking crit so that you reach about 33 or 34% crit when buffed before switching over to haste - this is because the Shatter talent crit cap is 33.34%
(33.34 x 3 = 100.02% chance of a crit hit against frozen targets)
Again, having a rough base level of your 'lesser stats' is probably not a bad idea. Think of it as a soft cap or something.
The Question of Hit: Now I have seen some people claim that Int is better than Hit. The question is open and there is some disagreement on EJ (and some hissy fitting over it in other forums). OK here's the score in terms of pure numbers, Int is better than Hit, I have seen the math and most of it goes over my head but there appeared to be a lot of nodding of heads and sagely sounds of approval from the scholars here in the Study at Runzwithfire. If you feel you want to, go ahead and stack Int over Hit.
But in my guild, and most guilds I know, they will not touch you unless you are at least at 12-15% Hit at the very least and most expect you to get hit capped (or soft hit capped) ASAP.
This is because people, quite rightly so, question your reliability if you only hit your target 83% of the time. I advocate getting hit capped, most mages and bloggers I know advocate getting hit capped, because the last thing I want to worry about is whether my hardest hitting spells like Deep Freeze or Counterspell is actually going to land or not. The math may well be correct but frankly when you're dealing with percentages, you're dealing with chances and worrying about whether my spells hit is just too big a chance for me and it's too big a chance for most raiding guilds. Hissy fit about your maths all you like but that's the truth of the matter.
Kuni sums it up best in the following:
"On the hit cap being of lesser value than int, please realize that it takes 102 hit rating for 1% hit, also read as 1% more damage. Considering frost specifically has multiple spells that gain over 200% spell power to their damage, it takes somewhere in the 90 int range for a 1% damage increase from int. Therefore at the most basic level, int is better than hit. Having said that, hit cap is still important. No one is making the argument that it isn't important. It's even more important when you realize that you might miss counterspelling a boss. From a raw DPS standpoint, int is better point for point, but hit cap is very important."
Frostfire Orb (if CD is up)
Deep Freeze (if CD is up and DF is available from frozen target or Fingers of Frost)
Frostfire Bolt (If Brain Freeze procs - wherever possible combine with a Fingers of Frost proc)
Ice Lance (If Fingers of Frost is active)
Water Elemental's Freeze (provided CD is up, Deep Freeze is off CD and no Fingers of Frost is active - remember Improved Freeze grants 2 FoF procs so don't waste em)
Now all this sounds very complicated but in reality it is just a case of paying attention to your procs and cooldowns. In effect you are just spamming frostbolt until something either comes off CD or procs. Do try and save the Frostfirebolt for as long as possible so you can get a FoF proc as well, it does make a massive damage difference.
TOP TIP: At the start of your fight blast off your Frostfire Orb, Icy Veins and Deep Freeze; Cold Snap; Frostfire Orb, Deep Freeze and your nuke button (Mirror Image, Icy Veins, Trinkets etc). Gives a very nice bit of burst damage at the start, just make sure your tank can handle the aggro and watch out it there are adds, the Frostfire Orbs might well attract their attention to you.
If you're really advanced you can:
That said, I don't use AoE much in the Cata dungeons so it's not really a problem.
Ring of Frost
I admit, I don't yet know how to use Ring of Frost properly, hell I didn't even learn it until I was level 84. BAD RUNZ, VERY BAD RUNZ. Ring of Frost is an awesome spell in the right circumstance. It has execllent crowd control abilities for five man dungeons and can allow you to spam off a nice Frostbolt and Ice Lance shatter combo. Also, try and get the mob on the far side of the ring, not in the middle of it, that why it has to cross the 'perimeter' of the ring twice causing double shatter shenanigans.
This isn't hard numbers, many may contest the advantages of Mastery over Haste or Ignite over Enduring Winter - I have read so many conflicting opions. But this works for me and a lot of other mages, it's easy and it suits my play style. I encourage you to experiment and find what works for you; really that kind of was the point of revamping the talents and all in Cataclysm. As long as you're following roatation, getting the crits where it counts and remaining adaptable to the situation well then you're doing fine in my book XD