18/0/53 is the best spec for frost mages. There is some variation, though with a spec that requires a minimum of 50 points in one tree and 18 points in another, there isn’t a lot of wiggle room.
Most mages in earlier gear levels will put three points into Brain Freeze for the extra damage that provides for them. Some invest in Ice Barrier, some in Blizzard talents… generally, whatever you wish to have.
BF – Brain Freeze, a talented proc that gives you a free fireball.
FoF – Fingers of Frost, a talented proc that allows to to treat any target as frozen.
FrB – Frostbolt. FB typically stands for Fireball, so I’m using FrB (pronounced “furbie”) until someone tells me what it’s supposed to be.
IL – Ice Lance.
IV – Icy Veins.
WE – Water Elemental, your little personal squirtle.
Frost is the only caster spec left in the game that does not have a proper spell rotation or a spell priority list. The entire spec revolves solely around spamming frostbolt and managing long term cooldowns.
Efforts have been made to shake things up and get the frost tree using other specs… I mean spells, though none of them have been successful.
Brain Freeze does not provide the frost mage with much use. It provides a little boost to damage in earlier gear levels, but once you are geared out in Naxx or higher (iLevel 200 in all slots, minimum), using a BF proc is actually a DPS decrease.
Simply put, FB doesn’t scale with the vast majority of the talents you have, and so is useless.
If you are in a situation where you can spam frostbolt safely without having to move, BF procs are best left ignored. It can provide extra damage for you if you have to move or are otherwise unable to cast.
Then there’s Glyph of Ice Lance, which does basically the same thing. While good for new mages, it quickly falls behind and then becomes a net DPS loss at higher gear levels.
A quick explanation. It is possible to have three spells benefit from a FoF proc. The first one as normal, and then you shatter combo on the second one. Thus, three spells working under the assumption the target is frozen.
This “third” charge is called a “ghost charge”. Using Ice Lance on this third charge, if you have the Glyph, is a slight DPS boost. And even then, only when you are at the lower gear levels. In, say, Ulduar quality gear, it’s just not worth the GCD to cast.
Of course, if you screw it up, it’s a very major DPS loss.
Using Ice Lance on FoF procs is, similarly to BF procs, useful for continuing DPS during movement sections.
It is also wise to start every boss fight by quickly Blizzarding the boss to immediately stack Winter’s Chill to 5. No class/spec can keep the debuff up easier than a frost mage, but no class is slower than building the debuff than a frost mage.
Unless, of course, the frost mage uses Blizzard.
Cast Blizzard, then immediately halt it after five hits. You can afford the mana cost, no other mage spec spends as little as a frost mage.
Blizzard is, once again, the king of AoE. But this time, we have all these fancy talents to back it up. Spamming Blizzard is the best way to deal damage to AoE trash. Stack trinkets and IV with Blizzard for the best results.
Note: Blizzard will not proc FoF against root-immune mobs unless you have at least one point in Frostbite. Yes, this is STILL broken.
If trash is dying too fast for you to get off a casted spell with a flight time, look into using those BF procs, FoF procs on IL, or popping Fireblast on the tail end of a mob’s hitpoints.
The only real thing you need to manage is your WE. If possible, do not summon him during a phase of the fight that has a large amount of AoE damage rolling around, or right before a big raid-wide swath of damage, that could potentially kill it outright. WEs do have AoE protection, so this isn’t as big an issue as it has been in the past.
If your raid has a shaman, make ABSOLUTELY SURE your elemental is out in time to benefit from Bloodlust/Heroism.
Other than that, you want to use all of your cooldowns as fast as you can. You do not have a talent like Molten Fury, you can afford to front-load all of your cooldowns without hesitation.
Frost does not have mana issues of any kind. You don’t need to manage it.
Glyph of Frostbolt, Molten Armor, and Water Elemental are your best options. Glyph of Ice Lance can net you some damage, if you are using the ghost charge on FoF or are sporting entry level Naxx stuff.
Frost mages may gain little from both spirit and crit rating, but Molten Armor is still superior to Mage Armor.
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