An in-depth guide to the nuances of leveling up as a frost mage. Note that this is NOT an AoE build. This is a standardized leveling build, designed to take down monsters swiftly and safely.
If you wish see how Frost AoE can provide excellent, leveling, might I highly recommend this guide over at “Frost is the New Black”?
As a brand new mage, your offensive spell options are limited to Fireball. This will be your only method of attack until level 4, when you get frostbolt. You don’t even get Frost Nova until level 10, so try not to do anything stupid (yet).
Anyways, level 1. Buff yourself with Arcane Intellect and Frost Armor, and head out into the big brave world filled with murlocs and trolls.
Your battle strategy is very simple, at first. Stand 35 yards away, and cast Fireball. Three fireballs should be roughly enough to kill or almost kill your target. If it’s not dead, typically for these first few levels you can simply use your pitiful auto-attack to finish them off in a hit or two.
If you want to be a little more professional and practice kiting, after the mob has hit you once, immediately turn and run away from it. Frost Armor provides a 30% snare and lasts 5 seconds. This gives you enough time to get a little ways away, and then whirl around and get off another fireball.
Level 4 grants you frostbolt, which changes up your attack strategy. Cast from the maximum range of frostbolt now (30 yards), starting with frostbolt for the snare, and finish off with fireball.
Level 6 gains you a new fireball, and fireblast. Learn this early: treat fireblast as an emergency spell. It is far too expensive to cast with any sort of regularity and should be treated as such. If you need to finish a mob fast, or if something gets into your face and you need to take it down fast; that is where this spell shines.
You can change your rotation at level 8 to include arcane missiles, if you wish. Frostbolt, then fireball, then arcane missiles. AM is a fairly expensive spell, but it does deal a lot of damage very quickly for the level. However, don’t use it against ranged or spell casting mobs, only on mobs haplessly attempting to run towards you.
At level 10, you can safely abandon the other nukes, and stick with frostbolt full time. You get your first talent point and Frost Nova now, and have no need of such frivolities.
BIG AWESOME HUGE DISCLAIMER
This is not the only way to level. This is not the only way to spend your talent points. This is my idea of the ideal, single target leveling spec. If you want to go the AoE route… go for it. Want to swap over to Frostfire at 75… go for it. Want to do this, that, or the other thing; go for it. There is nothing stopping you.
I highly encourage you to toy around with things however you see fit, your gold pool allowing.
Try not to treat this guide as gospel. Instead, try to treat it as a starting point or suggestions, designed to get you to think about the class and what works with what. The whys and hows of being a mage.
I highly doubt any of you will need this guide all the way to 80. I’m sure by the time you hit Outlands, maybe part way through, you will have figured out how to play a mage with some competence.
For now, your spell sequence is very simple. Cast frostbolt until right before the mob reaches you, Frost Nova it in place, whirl and run, then cast more frostbolts. If you engage multiple mobs, make sure Frost Nova catches them all. If you have a resist, take that mob down. Let it hit you once to get the snare on so you can get safely away. Frostbolt ‘em down, and use Fireblast liberally in this type of situation.
Level 10-14 – Improved Frostbolt.
Frostbolt will be your primary nuke for a very, very long time. Reducing it’s cast time will allow you to get more of them off, thus allowing for more dead things at your feet. At level 14, this will give frostbolt a 1.7 second cast time; level 20, a 2.1 second cast time; and finally, at level 26, a 2.5 second cast time. Frostbolt will have that cast time for the rest of the game.
Level 15-17 – Permafrost.
Improves all of your snares by 10%. Monsters will now take 10% more time trying to get to you, and so you now get 10% more time with which to cast stuff.
Level 18, 19 – Frostbite.
An excellent, if somewhat unreliable, tool. Due to it’s nature as a random proc, it is governed by Murphy’s Law, in that it will only proc when you don’t need it, and never proc when you do.
Level 20 – Icy Veins.
This will soon become your best friend, right next to frost nova. This allows you to kill casters and ranged mobs without losing casting time, and melee mobs that resisted your frost nova in the same way. Basically, it allows you to rapidly burn something down that you would otherwise have trouble with.
Level 21 – Frostbite.
Finish off frostbite.
Level 22-24 – Ice Shards.
You are about to experience the true power of frost. Fasten your seatbelts.
Level 25-27 – Shatter.
Finally. The true power of the frost tree, now available for use. With this, you are going to want to adjust your strategy slightly.
Rather than using frost nova as a purely defensive spell, start using it in an offensive role. Having your opponent “frozen” practically guarantees that your next frostbolt is going to be a critical strike. And that frostbolt is going to hit bloody hard, too, thanks to Ice Shards.
Instead of waiting for the mob to come to you before using frost nova, try hitting it with frost nova early on in the fight to get a massive crit off. Feel free to use fireblast/cone of cold as soon as frostbolt finishes it’s cast time to get off two crits. It’s expensive, yes, but there is a lot of damage to be had.
Obviously, don’t start the fight with frost nova, frosbolt should still be the first spell you cast. Just use it earlier, is all.
If you get a frostbite proc, there is no need to interrupt whatever you are currently doing to take advantage of it. If you are in the middle of casting frostbolt, just add a fireblast to the tail end of it. If the mob is too far away, that is fine, you still get a large crit. If you get a proc while running away from something, keep running. A total root is better than a percentile snare.
You should now have Cone of Cold in your arsenal. Note that it requires you to be very close to the target, is quite expensive, but it comes with a very powerful snare. If frost nova is resisted, cone of cold is an excellent follow up, allowing you to at least land a 60% snare.
And, of course, using frost nova to pin a bunch of mobs in place and then blasting them all is a perfectly valid use for this spell. Enjoy the big numbers. You’ve earned them.
Level 28, 29 – Arctic Reach.
More range on frostbolt means you can start the fight from 36 yards away rather than 30. More room, more kiting, larger margin of error.
Level 30 – Cold Snap.
The ultimate “if something goes wrong, use me” button. You have Ice Block in your spellbook now, and with that, you now have a whole bunch of things cold snap benefits from. Frost nova, if something goes awry, an extra icy veins; hell, dual cone of colds if you want. Or better yet, frost nova + cone of cold, then immediately frost nova + cone of cold again.
Level 31-33 – Ice Floes.
5 seconds hacked off frost nova and 2 seconds off cone of cold are the important things for us while leveling. Frost Nova is a major keystone until much later in the game, when frostbolt and various proc rates are powerful enough to destroy things before frost nova is even needed.
Level 34-36 – Frost Channeling.
Level 37 – Piercing Ice.
A very small increase in damage now, percentile increases become more and more powerful the higher level you get, and the better gear you get.
Level 38, 39 – Cold as Ice.
We’ll be wanting this for the next talent down the line, and it will be invaluable once you get your water elemental into the game.
Level 40 – Ice Barrier.
Finally, a replacement to Mana Shield. And terribly useful for leveling, thanks to…
Level 41, 42 – Shattered Barrier.
An extra frost nova that you can sort of control. Ice Barrier is already very useful for avoiding pushback (and death), but with this, you can use Ice Barrier offensively. While taking damage intentionally is usually stupid, having an essentially free frost nova that doesn’t break crowd control can be ridiculously advantageous.
For example, if you pull three mobs, you can polymorph one, kite one as normal, and totally ignore the third until Ice Barrier falls. Once it does, now the third one is rooted, and you didn’t have to use frost nova.
Level 43, 44 – Piercing Ice.
Level 45, 46 – Fingers of Frost.
While this does stack with Frostbite, it is nonetheless a very powerful leveling tool. With this, it is no longer necessary for you to actually use a Shatter combo; merely continue casting frostbolt as usual. By the same token, this does not render Frostbite obsolete. Frostbite roots the target, FoF does not.
Level 47, 48 – Empowered Frostbolt.
Hopefully, by now, you’re starting to get some spellpower on your gear and can actually take advantage of this talent.
Level 49 – Elemental Precision.
A little hit, a little mana reduction. Some day, the water elemental is going to share whatever your spell hit is, which includes what you get via this talent. Speaking of water elemental…
Level 50 – Water Elemental.
Finally, your special little guy takes the stage. Extra damage for you, a couple extra frost novas (that you can target at range) and it can even tank things for a while. It takes less damage from attacks than you do, somehow; I’ve used mine to tank Timmy the Cruel in Stratholme repeatedly without issue. Of course, you can also play aggro ping pong with it, too.
Avoid rooting anything right next to the elemental. If you do go the ping pong route, get as far away from your elemental as possible to gain maximum travel time for the mob in question. Don’t skimp on elemental summons. Use it often, the frost tree is designed around being a pet class for a reason.
Use your elementals root as often as you can. You can use it at least twice per summon, be sure you do so.
Level 51-53 – Brain Freeze.
Brain Freeze does more for your damage and mana pool than Imp. WE does, at least on the shorter style fights you’ll be facing while leveling. Don’t worry too much, you’ll be getting Imp. WE soon, it’s just Brain Freeze provides better immediate returns for talent points spent.
Make sure that you never use a Brain Freeze proc at the same time as a Fingers of Frost proc. Fireball may gain from the increased chance to crit, but you don’t gain any of the other damage modifying talents in the tree.
Level 54 – Improved Water Elemental.
See? Only one point though, and it’s more for the extra five seconds (two more attacks) than anything else. We’ll be back…
Level 55-59 – Chilled to the Bone.
More damage on our primary nuke, and another 10% tacked on to all the snares we already have. Really a no brainer. We hit god mode about twenty levels ago, this is just icing. Get it? Icing? HAHAHA.
Level 60 – Deep Freeze.
Ridiculous. Really. You have freezes and snares from just about every single button on your keyboard. You’d probably root someone if you emoted /spit at them. And now you get a 5 second stun, that considers the target frozen for the whole duration.
Highly recommended to use icy veins in conjunction with this. With ordinary, unhasted cast times, you can get off two frostbolts (or frostbolt and two instants) in the duration of this spell, rather than just one (or frostbolt and one instant).
Once you get ice lance at 66, a frostbolt and two ice lances is typically the best use of Deep Freeze. Generally, those all crit, resulting in a massive amount of damage for relatively little mana cost.
Level 61, 62 – Arcane Subtlety.
The aim is to, at some point, get Arcane Concentration.
Level 63-65 – Arcane Focus.
Arcane Concentration, here we come!
Level 66-70 – Arcane Concentration.
Frost already spends so little mana, adding in yet another mana conservation talent may seem pointless. Truth be told, stopping to drink does nothing but slow you down, and should be avoided like the plague it is. To that end, taking this cuts down on your down time. The hope is that through avid use of Evocation and the WE that drinking can be cut out completely.
Level 71, 72 – Improved Water Elemental.
Finish it up, and enjoy your ridiculous mana conservation.
Level 73, 74 – Elemental Precision.
Level 75-79 – Arctic Winds.
Percentile damage increases are more powerful now that you are at a higher level. The increased chance for your opponent to miss was largely unneeded earlier, due to the might of our own awesome. The percentile increase itself was too small to warrant talent point expenditure sooner, as there were better leveling talents elsewhere.
And with that, congratulations, you’re almost level 80. Get that last ding, and respec to whatever it is you end up doing. Raiding, PvP, whatever. Good luck, have fun, kick ass, don’t die.
Astute readers may have noticed the use of “we”, “us” and “our” in this post every now and then. Don’t worry, it’s not a copy of what BRK does. This spec covered here is the one I will be using for LK leveling, hence the plural.
Baby mage – Hollywood Costumes and Party
Bug Numbers -Discovery education, classroom resources clip art
Frozen brain guy – Derek, from Abnormal Brain