Frost Mage DPS Rotation, Cooldowns, and Abilities (MoP 5.4)

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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 MoP 5.4. 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 Reviewers

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. Apply and refresh Living Bomb Icon Living Bomb.
    • When you have a large damage-increasing proc (trinkets, weapon enchants, etc.), refresh it right away, otherwise refresh it after it explodes.
  2. Cast Frozen Orb Icon Frozen Orb on cooldown (unless you want to save it for an upcoming AoE phase).
  3. Cast Freeze Icon Freeze from your Water Elemental.
    • 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).
  4. Cast Frostfire Bolt Icon Frostfire Bolt as soon as Brain Freeze Icon Brain Freeze procs.
  5. Cast Ice Lance Icon Ice Lance when you have 1 or 2 charges of Fingers of Frost Icon Fingers of Frost.
  6. Cast Frostbolt Icon Frostbolt as a filler spell.

Important note: there is no need to use Ice Lance when you reach 5 Icicles (from your Mastery: Icicles Icon Mastery: Icicles). When you have 5 Icicles, gaining a new Icicle will simply cause one of the stored Icicles to trigger and deal its damage, making room for the new Icicle.

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

1.1. Tier 6 Talent

Invocation Icon Invocation is your best Tier 6 talent and is very straightforward to use. Cast it before the pull to get Invoker's Energy Icon Invoker's Energy up and recast it every time it expires.

Make sure that if you have to refresh your Bomb (Tier 5 talent), you do it before recasting Evocation Icon Evocation.

If you chose Incanter's Ward Icon Incanter's Ward as your Tier 6 talent, then only use it passively, which should free up a keybind.

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

1.2. 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.

Alter Time Icon Alter Time returns you to your current location, health, mana, buffs, and debuffs when you cast it a second time or after 6 seconds. We advise you to always use it in conjunction with Icy Veins Icon Icy Veins, so as to increase the duration of the effect to 26 seconds. There is no need to cast Alter Time immediately after casting Icy Veins. The idea is to wait for trinket procs and cast Alter Time when they occur, or to cast Alter Time when Icy Veins has 6 seconds remaining, if trinkets procs do not occur. Also, it is helpful, but not required, to have 2 charges of Fingers of Frost Icon Fingers of Frost and a proc of Brain Freeze Icon Brain Freeze before using Alter Time. Alternatively, you can use it to bypass encounter mechanics, for example before receiving a large amount of damage or a dangerous debuff.

Mirror Image Icon Mirror Image provides you with a small DPS boost and should therefore be used on cooldown.

2. Multiple Target Rotation↑top

For 2 and 3 targets that are spread out, use Living Bomb Icon Living Bomb. For 6 or more targets that are stacked together, use Frost Bomb Icon Frost Bomb. For every other situation, use Nether Tempest Icon Nether Tempest.

If the enemies are spread out, then you need to keep performing your single-target rotation on one of the enemies, all the while keeping Nether Tempest Icon Nether Tempest or Living Bomb Icon Living Bomb (depending on the number of enemies) applied on as many enemies as possible. When casting Freeze Icon Freeze, try to target 2 enemies if possible, this will grant you two charges of Fingers of Frost Icon Fingers of Frost.

Between 2 and 4 enemies that are stacked together, continue performing your single-target rotation, all the while using glyphed Cone of Cold Icon Cone of Cold on cooldown, and keeping Nether Tempest Icon Nether Tempest up as many targets as possible. Glyph of Splitting Ice Icon Glyph of Splitting Ice will cause Ice Lance Icon Ice Lance to strike an additional target for 50% of the damage.

For 5 or more enemies that are stacked together, cast Frost Bomb Icon Frost Bomb on cooldown and use a combination of Frozen Orb Icon Frozen Orb and glyphed Cone of Cold Icon Cone of Cold. Use Blizzard Icon Blizzard when waiting for Frost Bomb to come off cooldown.

2.1. Tips

You can also pre-cast Flamestrike Icon Flamestrike at the location where adds will appear.

For a nice burst combo against a group of enemies, cast Frost Bomb Icon Frost Bomb, followed by Flamestrike Icon Flamestrike (timing it to finish casting just as Frost Bomb Icon Frost Bomb is about to explode). Before you finish your cast of Flamestrike Icon Flamestrike, use Freeze Icon Freeze (you can order your pet to cast it even when you are casting something else). Freeze will boost the damage of your Frost Bomb Icon Frost Bomb, thanks to Shatter Icon Shatter. Then cast glyphed Cone of Cold Icon Cone of Cold right after Flamestrike Icon Flamestrike.

When you use Frost Bomb Icon Frost Bomb on a group of enemies, you can use Frost Nova Icon Frost Nova to boost the damage of Frost Bomb when Freeze Icon Freeze is on cooldown.

3. Armors↑top

Your only viable choice of armor is Frost Armor Icon Frost Armor.

4. 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.

5. 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.

5.1. Fingers of Frost

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 will grant 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 will not work on raid bosses, for example).

If you have at least 1 charge (stack) of Fingers of Frost Icon Fingers of Frost, then your Ice Lance Icon Ice Lance spell will damage your target as if it were frozen, meaning that its damage will be multiplied by 4 (not counting the +25% increased damage it also receives from Fingers of Frost). Also, thanks to Shatter Icon Shatter, the critical chance of Ice Lance against frozen targets is greatly increased.

Since Ice Lance Icon Ice Lance is the only spell you will use that can consume your charges of Fingers of Frost Icon Fingers of Frost, you do not have many constraints regarding when you should be using Ice Lance. You just need to make sure that your charges do not go to waste.

It is important to note that Frozen Orb Icon Frozen Orb will rapidly generate 2 charges of Fingers of Frost Icon Fingers of Frost, especially if you use it with a lot of enemies around. This means that you should cast Frozen Orb when you have no charge of Fingers of Frost. After casting Frozen Orb, 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.

5.2. Brain Freeze

Brain Freeze Icon Brain Freeze is a self-buff that has a chance to proc off the ticks/damage of your Tier 5 talents (Nether Tempest Icon Nether Tempest and Frost Bomb Icon Frost Bomb, normally). Note that Frost Bomb will give you a proc of Brain Freeze every time it deals damage. Brain Freeze grants you an instant-cast, mana-free Frostfire Bolt Icon Frostfire Bolt that will act as if it were cast on a frozen target (greatly increasing its chance to be a critical strike, thanks to Shatter Icon Shatter).

Try to use your procs of Brain Freeze rapidly, so that they are not overridden by a new one.

5.3. Opening Sequence

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

5.4. 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.

5.5. Talent Cooldowns and Abilities

5.5.1. 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 and Frost Bomb Icon Frost Bomb 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.

If you choose Presence of Mind Icon Presence of Mind (encounters without movement), it should be made into a macro that will serve as your primary way of casting Frostbolt Icon Frostbolt (see our Presence of Mind Macro). Note that Frostbolt already has a low cast time, so the DPS gain is very small.

6. Changelog↑top

  • 17 Jul. 2014: Recent theorycrafting suggests that Frostfire Bolt should be used as soon as Brain Freeze is up, regardless of the number of Fingers of Frosts charges. Thanks to Berlinia for picking it up.
  • 03 Mar. 2014: On Akraen's suggestion, more accurate explanations have been added to the rotation and cooldown sections.
  • 30 Sep. 2013: Kuni's review: added a mention that Frozen Orb Icon Frozen Orb can be saved for AoE damage, if necessary, and fixed a few inconsistencies between talents advised on the talent page and talents presented on this page.
  • 13 Sep. 2013: Forgot to remove mentions of the Frostbolt Icon Frostbolt buff that disappeared with 5.4.
  • 10 Sep. 2013: Mastery: Icicles Icon Mastery: Icicles is your new Mastery, but it does not impact your rotation, as you can never waste a stored Icicle. Indeed, when you have 5 Icicles stored, gaining a new Icicle will cause one of the stored Icicles to trigger and deal its damage, making room for the new Icicle.
  • 14 Aug. 2013: Improved multiple-target rotation section.
  • 01 Jul. 2013: Added Evocation Icon Evocation to opening sequence.
  • 07 Jun. 2013: Updated multiple-target section after 2 weeks of Patch 5.3 raiding.
  • 25 May 2013: Living Bomb Icon Living Bomb is now the best option for single-target situations. Multiple-target rotation still needs to be updated, but another lockout of testing is needed.
  • 20 May 2013: Patch 5.3 update: nothing changed (may need to review AoE rotation after a few days of raiding).
  • 17 Apr. 2013: Update after Blatty's review of the guide.
    • Improved AoE rotation.
    • Added opening sequence.
    • Emphasised the importance of Blazing Speed Icon Blazing Speed over the other two Tier 1 talents in the talents cooldown section.
  • 09 Mar. 2013: Added a mention of the fact that Freeze Icon Freeze no longer grants charges of Fingers of Frost Icon Fingers of Frost when cast on targets that are immune to rooting effects.
  • 07 Mar. 2013: Patch 5.2 update.
    • Updated multiple-target rotation to reflect the fact that Glyph of Inferno Blast Icon Glyph of Inferno Blast (formerly Glyph of Fire Blast) now spread DoTs to an additional nearby target.
    • Updated value of Invocation Icon Invocation's buff: was 25%, is 15% now.