Frost Mage DPS Rotation, Cooldowns, and Abilities (WoD 6.2)

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General Information

On this page, we list your Frost Mage core abilities and how they should be used together (rotation) in World of Warcraft WoD 6.2. We also explain when to use your various cooldowns. Then, we go deeper and present all the subtleties that you will need to know if you want to excel at playing a Frost Mage.

The other pages of our Frost Mage guide can be accessed from the table of contents on the right.

About Our Reviewer

This guide has been reviewed and approved by Kuni, one of the best Frost Mages in the world, who raids in Midnight Sanctuary.

1. Single Target Rotation↑top

The rotation of a Frost Mage consists in the following priority list.

  1. Cast Frozen Orb Icon Frozen Orb on cooldown (unless you want to save it for an upcoming AoE phase).
  2. Cast Freeze Icon Freeze from your Water Elemental (never use it while Frozen Orb Icon Frozen Orb is active, though).
    • Bosses are immune to Freeze, so only cast it if there are adds you can root. Doing so will give you 1 charge of Fingers of Frost Icon Fingers of Frost (2 if it hits more than 1 enemy).
  3. Cast Ice Nova Icon Ice Nova if you have have 2 charges or the boss is about to die.
  4. Cast Ice Lance Icon Ice Lance to consume your charges of Fingers of Frost Icon Fingers of Frost.
  5. Cast Frostfire Bolt Icon Frostfire Bolt when Brain Freeze Icon Brain Freeze procs (you can have up to 2 charges). Frostfire Bolt can give you a charge of Fingers of Frost, so avoid casting it if you already have 2 charges.
  6. Cast Water Jet Icon Water Jet from your Water Elemental.
  7. Cast Ice Nova Icon Ice Nova at 1 charge, if you need burst damage.
  8. Cast Frostbolt Icon Frostbolt as a filler spell.

Water Jet Icon Water Jet and Freeze Icon Freeze share a cooldown. In a raiding environment, you should always give priority to Water Jet, unless you need the root effect or you can get a good Shatter Icon Shatter off on a number of adds before using Ice Nova Icon Ice Nova on them (if talented).

See our Opening Sequence for instructions on what to cast when the fight starts.

Tier 18 set bonuses change your rotation, so please refer to our section about Tier 18 bonuses for more information.

1.1. Tier 5 Talent

Unstable Magic Icon Unstable Magic is entirely passive, so there is nothing to adjust.

If you use Frost Bomb Icon Frost Bomb, then you want to apply it only when you know that, in the next 12 seconds, you will be able to cast at least 2 Ice Lance Icon Ice Lances buffed with Fingers of Frost Icon Fingers of Frost. For this reason, you should cast Frost Bomb as your #2 priority (just below that of Frozen Orb), when one of the following is true:

You should also refrain from spending charges of Fingers of Frost Icon Fingers of Frost while Frost Bomb Icon Frost Bomb is not applied. Only do so if you have only 1 charge and it is about to expire.

1.2. Tier 6 Talent

If you use Rune of Power Icon Rune of Power, put it down and stay within 8 yards of it. If you need to move, you can place a new rune at your destination before moving/blinking there.

If you use Incanter's Flow Icon Incanter's Flow, there is nothing special to do.

If you use Mirror Image Icon Mirror Image, then cast it on cooldown and try to have it up during Icy Veins Icon Icy Veins.

1.2.1. Tier 7 Talents

Comet Storm Icon Comet Storm should simply be cast on cooldown, preferably while the boss is not moving. Its priority is just below that of Frozen Orb Icon Frozen Orb.

Prismatic Crystal Icon Prismatic Crystal has some implications. First, it should be placed as close to the center of the target's hitbox as possible. This way, Glyph of Splitting Ice Icon Glyph of Splitting Ice will cleave off of the Crystal (which you must be targeting for the whole time it is up). Second, Frozen Orb Icon Frozen Orb should be cast right before Prismatic Crystal, because the loss of one tick of Frozen Orb damage on the Crystal is inconsequential compared to being able to spam Ice Lance Icon Ice Lance into it for most of its duration. Third, Frost Bomb Icon Frost Bomb should be placed on the boss before activating the Crystal (Ice Lance on the Crystal will trigger it, thanks to Glyph of Splitting Ice). Spending a Global Cooldown to cast Frost Bomb either on the boss or the Crystal after the Crystal's activation results in a DPS loss. If you have Ice Nova Icon Ice Nova talented, then make sure to have 2 charges available when you cast Prismatic Crystal, so that you can cast Ice Nova twice on the crystal.

If you are not using Glyph of Water Elemental Icon Glyph of Water Elemental, you need to make sure that your Water Elemental attacks your Prismatic Crystal Icon Prismatic Crystal.

Thermal Void Icon Thermal Void has an important interaction with Mirror Image Icon Mirror Image, if you chose it as your Tier 6 talent, because Icy Veins Icon Icy Veins affects the damage of your images. So, you want to keep Icy Veins up for the whole duration of your Mirror Images and you should try to achieve that simply by consuming your charges of Fingers of Frost Icon Fingers of Frost, as it is a DPS loss to extend Icy Veins by casting unbuffed Ice Lances.

Thermal Void Icon Thermal Void's implications also pose the problem of delaying Mirror Image Icon Mirror Image so that it can be cast with Icy Veins Icon Icy Veins, because Mirror Image is on a shorter cooldown than Icy Veins. The answer to that problem depends on the duration of the fight. If you delay Mirror Image for Icy Veins and end up casting Mirror Image just as many times as if you had cast it on cooldown, then it is more efficient to delay it and synchronise it with Icy Veins. Otherwise, you need to cast it on cooldown. For example, on a fight that lasts exactly 4 minutes, you are better off delaying Mirror Image for your second cast of Icy Veins, rather than casting Mirror Image again around the 2:00 mark and then Icy Veins around the 3:00 mark.

1.2.2. Other Talents

We discuss how other choices of talents affect your play style further down the page.

1.3. Cooldown Usage

Icy Veins Icon Icy Veins is your main DPS cooldown. It should be used whenever possible and in conjunction with on-use trinkets and potions.

Mirror Image Icon Mirror Image, if chosen as your Tier 6 talent, should be used on cooldown. If you have chosen Thermal Void Icon Thermal Void as your Tier 7 talent, then things are different. See above for more explanations.

2. Multiple Target Rotation↑top

If the enemies are spread out, then there is little else you do, besides picking one enemy and focusing on it.

Between 2 and 4 enemies that are stacked together, continue performing your single-target rotation on one of them, all the while using Cone of Cold Icon Cone of Cold (if glyphed) on cooldown.

For 5 or more enemies that are stacked together, use Cone of Cold Icon Cone of Cold (glyphed, preferably) on cooldown and channel Blizzard Icon Blizzard while waiting for Cone of Cold to come off cooldown. With 5 enemies, Blizzard generates more charges of Fingers of Frost Icon Fingers of Frost than Frostbolt Icon Frostbolt does, so be ready to activate Frost Bomb Icon Frost Bomb (if talented) on one of the enemies when you reach 2 charges, before spending them with Ice Lance Icon Ice Lance for a massive damage burst. Your Frost Bomb Icon Frost Bomb + Frozen Orb Icon Frozen Orb combo works in the same way it does for single-target damage. If you use Ice Nova Icon Ice Nova instead of Frost Bomb, simply cast it on cooldown or let it recharge to cast it twice in a row, if you need burst damage.

3. Water Elemental↑top

Use Glyph of Water Elemental Icon Glyph of Water Elemental if you want to avoid giving orders to your Elemental during an encounter.

4. Optional Read: Mastering Your Frost Mage↑top

While the rotations we gave in the previous sections will yield very good results, there are many things you should be aware of, in order to play your Frost Mage to its full potential. In particular, you need to understand precisely how Fingers of Frost Icon Fingers of Frost and Brain Freeze Icon Brain Freeze work.

4.1. Fingers of Frost and Frost Bomb

Fingers of Frost Icon Fingers of Frost is a self-buff that has a chance to proc from most of your offensive spells, excluding Ice Lance Icon Ice Lance. It can stack twice. Your Water Elemental also has an ability, Freeze Icon Freeze, that grants you 1 charge of Fingers of Frost Icon Fingers of Frost (2 if it hits more than 1 enemy), but it only works on targets that are not immune to rooting effects (it does not work on raid bosses, for example).

If you have at least 1 charge of Fingers of Frost Icon Fingers of Frost, then your Ice Lance Icon Ice Lance deals increased damage to your target. First of all, Fingers of Frost causes Ice Lance to behave as if it were targeting a frozen target, so its damage is doubled. Second, Fingers of Frost doubles the damage of Ice Lance. Third, thanks to Shatter Icon Shatter, one of your passives, your chance to critically strike frozen target is greatly increased. So, when you cast Ice Lance under the effect of Fingers of Frost, you can deal between 4 (if you do not crit) and 8 times (if you crit) the normal damage of Ice Lance.

Ice Lance Icon Ice Lance and Deep Freeze Icon Deep Freeze are the only spells that can consume charges of Fingers of Frost Icon Fingers of Frost, so you have an absolute control over the way you spend the charges. You just need to make sure that you do not remain with 2 charges for too long, as any additional charge that is generated while you are at 2 charges is wasted.

Frost Bomb Icon Frost Bomb is a Tier 5 talent that has a very important synergy with Fingers of Frost Icon Fingers of Frost. By itself, Frost Bomb deals no damage. It only deals damage when you cast Ice Lance Icon Ice Lance under the effect of Fingers of Frost. To use Frost Bomb in the most efficient way possible, you should not keep it up all the time, because if you cast Frost Bomb and get no charge of Fingers of Frost in the 12 seconds that follow, then it means that you cast Frost Bomb for nothing and you lost DPS. So, you always want to wait until you have 2 charges of Fingers of Frost, before casting Frost Bomb. This way, you are guaranteed to be able to cast at least 2 Ice Lance while Frost Bomb is up.

Frost Bomb also deals damage when you cast Ice Lance on a frozen target, but in a raid or dungeon environment, frozen effects are usually cancelled right away by attacks from party/raid members.

It is important to note that Frozen Orb Icon Frozen Orb rapidly generates charges of Fingers of Frost Icon Fingers of Frost when cast, especially if you use it with a lot of enemies around (and it gives 1 guaranteed charge for the first enemy it hits). This means that you should cast Frozen Orb when you have no charge of Fingers of Frost, and only after refreshing/applying Frost Bomb Icon Frost Bomb. Once Frozen Orb is cast, you should be ready to spam Ice Lance Icon Ice Lance to consume all the charges of Fingers of Frost that you are going to receive.

4.2. Brain Freeze

Brain Freeze Icon Brain Freeze is a self-buff that has a chance to proc off the damage that Frostbolt Icon Frostbolt does. It can have 2 charges, so wasting procs should be a rare occurrence. To ensure that it does not happen, try waiting until you have consumed a proc of Brain Freeze with Frostfire Bolt Icon Frostfire Bolt, before casting Frostbolt again.

Also, Brain Freeze causes your Frostfire Bolt to behave as if your target is frozen, meaning that it benefits from the increased chance to critically strike provided by Shatter Icon Shatter.

Casting Frostfire Bolt Icon Frostfire Bolt has a chance to trigger a charge of Fingers of Frost Icon Fingers of Frost, so you need to avoid consuming charges of Brain Freeze Icon Brain Freeze when you are at 2 charges of Fingers of Frost already.

4.3. Water Jet

Water Jet Icon Water Jet is an ability your Water Elemental gains while you are leveling from Level 90 to 100. It is a 4-second channel that deals damage to your target. While the spell is being channeled, a debuff is applied on your target and causes you to generate a charge of Fingers of Frost Icon Fingers of Frost when you hit the target with Frostbolt Icon Frostbolt.

To make the most of the 4-second duration of the debuff, you need to cast Frostbolt Icon Frostbolt twice before casting Ice Lance Icon Ice Lance immediately after the second Frostbolt, while the debuff is active. The reason why you should not wait before casting Ice Lance is because each Frostbolt has 2 chances to generate a charge of Fingers of Frost Icon Fingers of Frost: the 100% chance from Water Jet and the usual 15% chance it always has. So, you can generate up to 4 charges of Fingers of Frost Icon Fingers of Frost with 2 Frostbolts during Water Jet, in which case one of them will be wasted, but if you generate 3, then casting Ice Lance immediately after the second Frostbolt allows you to consume a charge of Fingers of Frost, making enough room for the charge(s) from the second Frostbolt.

During Water Jet, the order Frostbolt Icon Frostbolt, Ice Lance Icon Ice Lance, Frostbolt Icon Frostbolt works as well, but it does nothing better than the first order we gave and it runs the risk that the Water Jet debuff will have expired by the time the second Frostbolt hits the target.

Finally, it is important to note that the Water Jet debuff is applied on the target 1 second (reduced by Haste) after the Water Elemental starts channeling Water Jet Icon Water Jet. You need to pay attention to that, so that your first Frostbolt Icon Frostbolt does not hit the target before the debuff is applied.

4.4. Opening Sequence

We advise you to use the following opening sequence (or opener).

The reason why you want to cast Frost Bomb before Icy Veins is that you do not want to waste 1.5 seconds of Icy Veins casting a spell that does not do any damage on its own. Frozen Orb and Ice Nova do benefit from Icy Veins' Multistrike buff, which is why they should be cast during Icy Veins.

4.5. Kiting

A great strength of Frost Mages is their almost unrivaled ability to kite a target (or a group thereof) around. Frost Mages have a whole arsenal of abilities to slow and freeze their targets:

When kiting, you should try to move in a circular manner. To achieve that, you should always be moving sideways (left or right) and use the camera control (by default, the mouse right button) to try and rotate around a fixed point. The idea is that it enables you to target the adds you are kiting and it makes it easier to group the adds together.

To get initial aggro on the adds, cast Ice Lance Icon Ice Lance on them once or twice, that should be enough if no one else attacks them. While you are kiting them, the spells you will use should suffice to maintain aggro.

In theory, using only spells with freezing effects (Frost Nova, Deep Freeze, and Ring of Frost), in combination with Blink Icon Blink to move away from the adds when they get too close, should be enough. If you are having trouble kiting the adds using only spells with freezing effects, you can always throw in a Cone of Cold to slow them down.

4.6. Other Talent Cooldowns and Abilities

4.6.1. Tier 1 Talents

Blazing Speed Icon Blazing Speed and Ice Floes Icon Ice Floes are your Tier 1 talents of choice. So, you should practice using them and master their usage, in order to minimise your movement and optimise your DPS.

Frostbolt Icon Frostbolt, Frost Bomb Icon Frost Bomb, and Blizzard Icon Blizzard are your only spells with a cast time, so keep Blazing Speed Icon Blazing Speed for situations where you need to stand still casting these spells before moving out of danger in a flash. Consider it as an extra Blink Icon Blink: use it to get out of a situation that would otherwise kill you or if your target goes out of range.

If you choose Ice Floes Icon Ice Floes (encounters with short sequences of movement), then, whenever you have to move, you should use it with Frostbolt Icon Frostbolt or Blizzard Icon Blizzard (if fighting a lot of enemies).

4.6.2. Tier 3 Talents

Cold Snap Icon Cold Snap can provide a small DPS boost, if you use it to reset the cooldown of Cone of Cold Icon Cone of Cold. This will provide you with a small burst of AoE damage.

4.7. Tome of Shifting Words

Tome of Shifting Words Icon Tome of Shifting Words, your class trinket from Archimonde, causes Frostbolt Icon Frostbolt to empower your next Ice Lance Icon Ice Lance (+94% with the Normal trinket, all the way to +131% with the Mythic Warforged version).

The implication of this trinket is simple. With it, you need to cast Frostbolt Icon Frostbolt before every cast of Ice Lance Icon Ice Lance.

4.8. Tier 18 Bonuses

The T18 2-piece bonus causes Water Jet Icon Water Jet to generate a charge of Brain Freeze Icon Brain Freeze and causes Brain Freeze to increase the damage of Frostfire Bolt Icon Frostfire Bolt by an additional 20%. This does not really change the rotation, but not wasting charges of Brain Freeze is more important than ever before.

The T18 4-piece bonus increases the duration of Water Jet Icon Water Jet by 10 seconds and allows you to have up to 4 charges of Fingers of Frost Icon Fingers of Frost. This set bonus drastically changes the way you use your abilities while Water Jet is channeling. When Water Jet is channeling, use the following rotation (and we mean rotation, not priority):

  1. Frostbolt Icon Frostbolt;
  2. Ice Lance Icon Ice Lance;
  3. Frostfire Bolt Icon Frostfire Bolt, if 2 charges of Brain Freeze Icon Brain Freeze;
  4. Repeat.

If Water Jet Icon Water Jet is active while Prismatic Crystal Icon Prismatic Crystal comes off cooldown, you need to start alternating Frostbolt Icon Frostbolt on the boss and Ice Lance Icon Ice Lance on the Crystal, until Water Jet dies.

Another implication of this set bonus is that Freeze Icon Freeze is made completely useless, because it always generates fewer charges of Fingers of Frost Icon Fingers of Frost, compared to Water Jet Icon Water Jet. This is further amplified by the fact that Freeze does not give more than 2 charges, even when used on 3 or more targets.

4.9. Tier 17 Bonuses

The 2-piece bonus causes Frostbolt Icon Frostbolt to have priority over Fingers of Frost Icon Fingers of Frost + Ice Lance Icon Ice Lance (but not Brain Freeze Icon Brain Freeze + Frostfire Bolt Icon Frostfire Bolt) for the 10 seconds after Frozen Orb Icon Frozen Orb has expired.

The 4-piece bonus simply means that you will receive more charges of Fingers of Frost Icon Fingers of Frost during Frozen Orb Icon Frozen Orb, but does not require you to adapt your rotation.

5. Changelog↑top

  • 21 Jul. 2015: Updated Tier 18 4-piece bonus explanations.
  • 22 Jun. 2015: Patch 6.2 update.
    • Rewrote the single-target priority for Ice Nova.
    • Added sections for Tome of Shifting Words and Tier 18 set bonuses.
  • 11 Mar. 2015: Since Patch 6.1 and the nerf to Frost Mage's Mirror Image, hardcasting Ice Lance to extend Icy Veins no longer results in a DPS gain, so the portion of the guide that advised this has been updated.
  • 24 Feb. 2015: Added usage advice for Comet Storm, now the advised Tier 7 talent for single-target.
  • 16 Nov. 2014: Updated rotation for Level 100 talents. Added Tier 17 bonuses. Added a Water Jet section.