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Frost Mage PvP Guide (Legion 7.1)

Last updated on Nov 30, 2016 at 10:02 by Mysticall 9 comments

Table of Contents


This guide will walk you through everything you need to know to play a Frost Mage in a PvP environment. The guide will cover everything from talent choices, artifacts, gameplay and rotation, and useful racial bonuses. It is most applicable to Arena content, but most talents and racial bonuses will work in Rated Battlegrounds and skirmishes.

About The Author

This guide has been written by Mysticall, a seasoned PvP player who has repeatedly achieved Arena Master and 2300 rating. You can watch his stream on Twitch, and you can also check out his YouTube channel.

1. Spec Overview / Place in the Current Meta

Frost Mages are notorious for always being one of the best PvP specs. Mages not only excel at getting crowd control on enemies and having great mobility, but they also have great burst damage. With short burst cooldowns and strong crowd control, Frost Mages are capable of controlling entire teams. One Polymorph Icon Polymorph can turn an entire game around.

2. Gear

With regards to gear, the biggest change in Legion is that there is no more PvP gear. Your strength in PvP will be determined based on the average item level of your gear (as displayed on your character sheet). For example, the base item level at level 110 is 800, so your stats in PvP will be adjusted accordingly. For every 10 item levels you gain, your stats are increased by 1%.

The implication is that it does not matter where your gear comes from, and all that matters is its item level. Gear from quests or PvE content is just as good as gear you get as a reward from PvP (which, in fact, will be very similar to PvE gear; there are no more PvP stats on gear).

Practically, you will simply look to collect gear with the highest item levels possible, and the stat distribution on the gear will not matter.

3. Artifact Traits

Below, we will explain what the recommended order for artifact traits is, if you wish to maximise your PvP potential. It is quite possible that your artifact path (at the time of reading this guide) differs from our suggestions. If this is the case, do not worry, and use the information below to help you understand your traits and guide your future choices.

If you have suddenly decided that you want to turn to PvP, the best thing to do in your artifact progression is continue to your closest Golden trait, and then follow the recommendations below. Picking up the most useful traits ( Icon Chilled to the Core,  Icon Icy Caress,  Icon Jouster, or  Icon Chain Reaction) along the way is a great way to boost your potential.

3.1. First Golden Trait

The first Golden trait you want to reach is  Icon Black Ice.

  1. Take  Icon Ebonbolt.
  2. Take  Icon Shattering Bolts.
  3. Take  Icon Let It Go. This will help with your sustained damage when getting Fingers of Frost Icon Fingers of Frost buff.
  4. Take  Icon Ice Nine. This will help you get to your 5 Icicles quickly, which results in being able to use offensive cooldowns faster.
  5. Take  Icon Shield of Alodi. This will help with survivability; Ice Barrier Icon Ice Barrier is a great defensive ability to use when being focused by enemy teams.
  6. Take  Icon Black Ice. This greatly increases Frost Mage burst. If you are using offensive cooldowns with empowered crystals, you can put a lot of pressure on the enemy team.

3.2. Second Golden Trait

The second Golden trait to go for is  Icon Chilled to the Core.

  1. Take  Icon Frozen Veins.
  2. Take  Icon Icy Caress. This trait is important because Frostbolt Icon Frostbolt is a core ability for Frost Mages. This will help greatly with both sustained and burst damage.
  3. Take  Icon Clarity of Thought. Getting extra chances to proc Brain Freeze Icon Brain Freeze helps with sustained damage.
  4. Take  Icon Ice Age.
  5. Take  Icon Chilled to the Core. This is a very important trait to take. This helps both building up your burst damage and dealing burst damage. If you take Ice Form Icon Ice Form (which replaces Icy Veins Icon Icy Veins), then using Ice Form will trigger this trait.

3.3. Remaining Traits

After this, you should head for your last Golden trait,  Icon It's Cold Outside, picking up any remaining traits after that.  Icon Icy Hand and  Icon The Storm Rages are the least useful for PvP and should be picked last. There is no particular order that we recommend here.

4. Relics

Relics are disabled in PvP, so they are not a concern to you.

5. Talent Choices

Regular talents work in both PvP and PvE content (although they may sometimes work differently in the two environments, which is indicated by their tooltips). In other words, they are always active.

On the other hand, Honor talents are inactive outside of a PvP environment.

5.1. Regular Talents

5.1.1. Tier 1 (Level 15) Talents

Bone Chilling Icon Bone Chilling is the best choice in this tier. This will help with overall damage done, as most abilities will chill the target and this will result in increased stacks of Bone Chilling.

5.1.2. Tier 2 (Level 30) Talents

Shimmer Icon Shimmer is the best choice in this tier. This is a very strong when trying to get crowd control on the enemy team. If an enemy is trying to get out of line of sight of your Polymorph Icon Polymorph, for example, you can Blink Icon Blink while casting it and avoid losing line of sight.

5.1.3. Tier 3 (Level 45) Talents

Incanter's Flow Icon Incanter's Flow is the best choice in the tier. It provides great damage (especially when you are at 5 stacks). Be sure to track and time how many stacks your Incanter's Flow buff has before using your offensive cooldowns.

5.1.4. Tier 4 (Level 60) Talents

Ice Nova Icon Ice Nova is the best choice in this tier. This talent provides more damage when using offensive cooldowns and works well with the Deep Shatter Icon Deep Shatter talent. Not only that, but defensively, it roots the enemies in place, which is very effective against melee who are targeting you.

5.1.5. Tier 5 (Level 75) Talents

When playing against a Restoration Druid, Ring of Frost Icon Ring of Frost is the best choice in this tier. Druids are difficult to get crowd control on as a Frost Mage, and Ring of Frost helps with this. Assistance from a teammate (such as a Rogue stunning the Druid) will make it easier.

When not playing against a Restoration Druid, Ice Floes Icon Ice Floes is the best choice in this tier. This talent will help you chase enemies down while casting offensive spells, by allowing you to cast while moving. It also helps with getting crowd control off when your enemies are trying to get away.

5.1.6. Tier 6 (Level 90) Talents

Unstable Magic Icon Unstable Magic is the best choice in this tier. Although there is a chance for this talent to make your Frostbolt Icon Frostbolts break your Polymorph Icon Polymorph, you can still get a kill even if the enemy healer is not in crowd control.

5.1.7. Tier 7 (Level 100) Talents

Glacial Spike Icon Glacial Spike is the best choice in this tier. This talent provides a huge amount of damage. Glacial Spike can quickly end a game, however, it does have a long cast time, so coordination with your team is crucial.

5.2. Honor Talents

5.2.1. Tier 1 Talents

Relentless Icon Relentless is the best choice in this tier. Frost Mages can be the focus target of some teams, and this will help with getting out of stuns and getting away from the enemies.

5.2.2. Tier 2 Talents

Mind Quickness Icon Mind Quickness is the best choice in this tier. It helps cast Polymorph Icon Polymorphs, Frostbolt Icon Frostbolts, Glacial Spike Icon Glacial Spikes, and so on faster and therefore more reliably.

5.2.3. Tier 3 Talents

Burning Determination Icon Burning Determination is the best choice in this tier. This talent will help with getting crowd control off if you get interrupted during a Frost spell cast. Likewise, if your crowd control is interrupted, you can benefit from the talent by using offensive cooldowns without fear of being interrupted.

5.2.4. Tier 4 Talents

Temporal Shield Icon Temporal Shield the best choice in this tier. If you are being focused, this talent greatly increases your survivability. If it is dispelled, it will still heal you for however much you were attacked for while the shield was active.

5.2.5. Tier 5 Talents

Deep Shatter Icon Deep Shatter is the best choice in this tier. This talent helps with consistent damage and burst damage. Using Frostbolt Icon Frostbolt with a Flurry Icon Flurry or a Frost Nova Icon Frost Nova from your pet are examples of how you can use this talent effectively.

5.2.6. Tier 6 Talents

Ice Form Icon Ice Form is the best choice in this tier. This talent will greatly increase your damage output for a short time. This works well with the artifact trait  Icon Chilled to the Core.

6. Racial Bonuses

Racial bonuses can provide interesting PvP benefits. Here are the best races to choose for each faction.

6.1. Horde

The abilities gained from the Orc Race (Berserking Icon Berserking and Hardiness Icon Hardiness) both greatly benefit a Frost Mage. Berserking will help when using offensive cooldowns to get more damage output; Hardiness is great when paired with Relentless Icon Relentless to break out of stuns faster.

6.2. Alliance

The Human racial bonus (Every Man for Himself Icon Every Man for Himself) is a great way to get out of stuns.

7. Playstyle

The Frost Mage has two important roles in a 3v3 environment.

  • The first role that Frost Mages have is crowd control. They not only have strong kiting tools for getting away from enemies, but they have strong tools to also cast and get crowd control on enemy players. Polymorph Icon Polymorph, the major Frost Mage crowd control, can be used offensively (when trying to get a kill) or defensively (when trying to keep a teammate alive).
  • The second role a Frost Mage has is having strong burst cooldowns. With relatively short major cooldowns, Frost Mages can apply a lot of pressure on a team in a short amount of time.

7.1. Before Gates Open

Be prepared to be the focus of many teams. This can be frustrating and make people shy away from Frost. That said, Frost Mages have a lot of utility to get away from enemy teams, so make sure to use this to your advantage.

7.2. Crowd Control

This is where the Frost Mage has always shined in PvP. There is no other class/spec that can crowd control a team as well as a Frost Mage can, not to mention the large amount of utility at their disposal.

Do not hesitate to make use of Ice Floes Icon Ice Floes to be able to cast your Polymorph Icon Polymorph while moving, in order to be able to stay in line of sight of your target. If they manage to get behind a pillar, you can Blink Icon Blink to their location and still get your Polymorph off.

7.3. Offensive Rotation

Before we talk about rotation, it is relevant to quickly go over how Icicles work, since this is integral to the Frost Mage offensive playstyle.

The Frost Mage Mastery (Mastery: Icicles Icon Mastery: Icicles) causes each Frostbolt Icon Frostbolt you cast to generate an Icicle, which is effectively a buff on you. Each Icicle "stores up" a part of the damage of the Frostbolt that created it, and you can have up to 5 Icicles at any given time.

When you use Glacial Spike Icon Glacial Spike (or Ice Lance Icon Ice Lance if you do not take Glacial Spike, but we do not advise this), all the stores up Icicles will be fired at the target, resulting in a burst of damage.

The more damaging the Frostbolt Icon Frostbolts that generated the Icicles were, the more damage the resulting Icicles will deal. This means that to guarantee the strongest Icicles, you want to take advantage of the Deep Shatter Icon Deep Shatter talent, which increases Frostbolt damage on frozen targets.

7.3.1. The Opener

The opener refers to your team's opening crowd control chain and damage done as soon as you get out of the gates. The main goal in the opener is to force your enemies to use their cooldowns. If the enemy healer uses their trinket in the opener, they are in trouble. With the amount of crowd control and damage that Mages have, you can force cooldowns (trinkets and defensives) without having to use any cooldowns.

  1. Start the arena by using Invisibility Icon Invisibility.
  2. Cast Polymorph Icon Polymorph on the enemy healer (if you are focusing the enemy healer, Polymorph a DPS that can heal/peel for the healer).
  3. Build up Icicles by casting Frostbolt Icon Frostbolt at frozen targets.
  4. When you have 5 Icicles built up, use your burst rotation (see below).

7.3.2. Burst Damage

When you have the enemy healer in crowd control and you are trying to kill an enemy, you should use your burst damage.

To guarantee the most damaging Glacial Spike Icon Glacial Spike, you want to make sure that the Icicles you have stored up were created by Frostbolt Icon Frostbolts against frozen targets.

Glacial Spike Icon Glacial Spike has a long cast time, so if you are being interrupted on it often, try to use more coordination. Polymorph Icon Polymorph an enemy that has interrupts and stun your kill target. This will almost guarantee a successful cast.

7.3.3. Sustained damage

Sustained damage is damage you do when your burst cooldowns are not available.

7.4. Defensive Techniques

Ice Block Icon Ice Block is your main defensive ability. If you have run out of Blink Icon Blinks and have no other ways to kite or survive, use this spell. This will protect you from all damage.

A Mage's crowd control is effectively a defensive technique for them. If the enemy team is using their offensive cooldowns, you can kite them by using Cone of Cold Icon Cone of Cold or by casting Polymorph Icon Polymorph and Blink Icon Blinking away. Moreover, you can use Frost Nova Icon Frost Nova to root the target, which is very effective when playing against melee.

Ice Barrier Icon Ice Barrier is best used when the enemy team is focusing you down. If you use it preemptively, it runs the risk of being dispelled by an enemy (such as an Enhancement Shaman), or of being the target of Spellsteal Icon Spellsteal.

Temporal Shield Icon Temporal Shield is one of the best defensive cooldowns Mages have. Use this when you are being focused and when at high health; the reason for using it at high health is that a great part of this spell is the 6-second HoT it applies to you to heal back the damage you have sustained — if you are at low health, you will probably die before you are able to benefit from the HoT. One of the skills to this ability is knowing when to cancel it (since canceling it triggers the HoT). If you are at half-health and use Temporal Shield, there is a good chance you will die with it still active; cancel it instead, so you can get healed for a large amount and not die with it still active.

8. ChangeLog

  • 30 Nov. 2016: Guide added.
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