Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Experimentations with Frost spec. (A spec I like! yey!)

After reading a number of mage blog’s, (Critical QQ and Frost is the new Black, amongst others.) I decided to give frost spec a play. I have not touched frost since about level 65, apart from a brief clueless foray into it, with no real clue for combat tactics.

I went for a heavy frost spec, with enough talents into arcane to attain clearcasting. The basis of the spec was that I have the water elemental pet for extra dps and to assist in shatter combos, icy veins for burst DPS, and all the bonus damage I could squeeze out of the spec.

To start off, I went to Quel’danas and started nailing demons at the portal. Not bad. I went round to the blood elf village, and died over, and over, and over again. I hated the spec. After a day of determined practice, it clicked. My tactics were fundamentally flawed, and a few changes helped up my survivability and dps.

1) I had the wrong rank of frost shield… (Rank 1… twit!) a quick change on my hot-bar and bam, 1k damage shield available at all times.
2) Learning to use the shatter combos. (below)
3) Macros! (below)
4) Using the Water Elemental (went from hate to love of this chap. I call him Terrence.)

Shatter combos:

Whenever the target has a frost root on it, fire a frost bolt and just as the cast bar is finishing – tap ice lance – both will hit simultaneously thanks to the way that the maths engine works – this means both get the 50% shatter crit combo (as well as the ice lance doing triple damage against a frozen target) – typically this his harder than my empowered pyroblast did as arcane/fire. 3-4k frostbolt and 2-3k ice lance (average 5k damage) the water elemental is the perfect tool to setup shatter combos (explained below.)


I picked up a few macros that I set up when going this spec: (apologies for the lack of links but they are easily googleable.)

Firstly, I got the ice-block macro (tap once to block, again to unblock – saves mousing around the screen)
Secondly I got the polymorph focus macro (yey, no more chasing targets, thanks to X-pearl I always have my target on screen, and hitting 7 sheeps the target again -shift 7 will re-target the focus and sheep the new target. This means I can DPS the Skull and have a quick re-sheep available)
Thirdly a pet summons macro that I found – Casts Icy Veins, uses your trinket and then summons your water elemental. this brings out the elemental and gives you your biggest dps boost through trinkets and icy veins, and opens up quick easy shatter combos (under water elemental below.) – a fantastic macro. Saves clicking a lot of buttons.

Water Elemental:

I always summon Terrence with the use of the icy veins macro mentioned above – due to the order of triggering your specials (icy veins, trinkets THEN pet) your pet gets a nice boost to its cast speed and damage output, as well as yourself.

As a basic tool – the water elemental gives a nice boost to your DPS (for me, a 700 damage frost bolt every 2 seconds.).

But, this fella can help do so much more!

Try this: Cast frost bolt at your target – about 1 second before landing shift-5 and drop a frost nova over the target and tap 5 – you freeze the target just before launching the frost bolt-ice lance shatter combo. In a raid or an instance, this is normally the only way you will get a shatter combo. This is the cream of your DPS. My frost bolts (+800 frost spell damage) I crit with frostbolts about a quarter of the time (without the winters chill debuff) and do 2-3k crits, and about 1500 normal damage per frostbolt. In a raid, this is not high DPS.

As a summary of frost:

The shields are fantastic for survivability.
The shatter combo produces some fantastic DPS (it is unpredictable – but you can rely on getting two shatter combos off using your pets ranged frost nova every 3 minutes – this already is higher than pom-pyro – albheit a lot of mobs + bosses are immune, so you don’t get this dps boost)
The pet provides a nice boost to DPS, is straight damage and the reliable shatter combos allow for good dps bursts in most circumstances.
It is a fairly mana efficient spec. Spells are cheap and do good DPM (Damage per Mana)
The spec also produces a reasonable amount of agro. It is higher than arcane – but significantly lower than fire (plus, two ice blocks means you can risk being higher on the damage meters, as long as you are quick to ice block if you pull agro before it leaves the tanks melee range, and likely chases after any healer foolish enough to try to help you out.)

Remember the rule: If the tank dies, it’s the healers fault. If the healer dies, it’s the tanks fault. If the DPS dies, its their own damned fault.)

I am arcane/PomPyro specced again (47/11/3). I enjoy the higher constant DPS, the better mana efficiency and lower agro – but I actually miss frost spec!

My sole reason for going back to arcane was consistent raid DPS. Frost when used correctly was producing higher dps (790 instead of 750 on runs as a rough guide) but against bosses when you NEED high DPS – I was just not doing the same constant damage. At my peak I have icy veins flowing, and an elemental throwing out frost bolts. This produces at best 1.5k/sec from me and 350/sec from my elemental, for 15sec (on me) and 45sec (elemental) – and again with a cold-snap. With Arcane/PomPyro – I am able to whack out 700/1400 DPS regardless, and then throwing out PomPyros (4-7k + 40% dot + pyro dot.) which then start 15 seconds of empowered casting – 900/1750 dps from the arcane missiles. Note: this comparison does not include fire blast which is more powerful in my arcane spec due to Ignite and bonus spell damage + crit damage from the arcane tree.

When WOTLK comes out: I’m leveling frost baby! Definitely more fun and higher DPS for most fights. The survivability is kinda nice too. The only thing that might put me off this is that I hear they are boosting the effectiveness of Arcane… and Northrend is likely to have a lot of frost-resistant mobs. *shudder*

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