Frost Single-Target Mage Leveling Guide From 1 to 70 for TBC Classic
This guide will introduce you to the arts of Single-Target Frost Mage leveling in The Burning Crusade. Frost Single-Target, often also called Frost ST, offers the best combination of burst damage, survivability, Mana efficiency, and control the Mage class has to offer and therefore is considered the fastest and safest and the meta single-target leveling spec. If you want to try something else than the meta or simply explore the Mage class further, you may try out our Arcane Mage Leveling Guide, the Frost Mage AoE Leveling Guide, or the Fire Mage Leveling Guide instead.
Single-Target Frost Mage Level-by-Level Rotation, Talents and Trainer Skills
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Talent Tree for Leveling as Single-Target Frost Mage
From level 10 on you get one talent point per level, which you can use to build your talent tree. The talent menu can be accessed via the keybind N in game.
Your talents should look like the trees below. However, for the Frost tree you can swap some points around based on personal preference. The suggested order is optimized for mana efficiency and damage.
- Levels 10 to 14 — 5 points in Improved Frostbolt
- Levels 15 to 17 — 3 points in Elemental Precision
- Levels 18 & 19 — 2 points in Frostbite
Elemental Precision is important to hit enemies that are on the same level as you or higher. Sometimes Frostbite will freeze enemies in place for 5 seconds, allowing you to cast more Frostbolts on them before they reach you. As a result of all three talents you will get hit less frequently, reduce the chance of you dying, and your downtime from eating. The freezing effect of Frostbite will also work greatly together with Shatter later on.
- Level 20 — 1 point in Icy Veins
- Level 21 — 1 point in Frostbite
- Levels 22 & 23 — 2 points in Improved Frost Nova
- Level 24 — 1 point in Piercing Ice
- Levels 25-29 — 5 points in Shatter
At Level 20, you will learn your first cooldown ability: Icy Veins. It allows you to cast 20% faster for 20 seconds and has a 2-minute cooldown. The best part of Icy Veins (IV) is that you have no spell pushback during these 20 seconds.
The two talent points in Improved Frost Nova gives you an extra layer of security in hairy situations with a shorter cooldown on the ability. It can be used as an offensive ability later on together with Shatter, which will increase your chance to critically hit with Frost spells against frozen targets by 50%! Piercing Ice gives you a raw damage increase for your Frost spells, which is always good.
- Levels 30 to 34 — 5 points in Ice Shards
- Levels 35 & 36 — 2 points in Piercing Ice
- Levels 37 & 38 — 2 points in Frost Channeling
- Level 39 — 1 point in Cold Snap
Ice Shards is what makes Frostbite, Frost Nova, and Shatter juicy! After these 5 talent points, each Frost spell against a frozen target has a 50% higher chance of dealing double damage. If an enemy is close enough, you can now also "Shatter Combo" by casting Frostbolt and Fire Blast immediately after. Both spells will benefit from the increased Critical Strike chance! The remaining two points in Piercing Ice benefit you again by increasing damage and two points in Frost Channeling make your Frost spells cost 10% less Mana and reduce your threat on enemy targets in groups. Cold Snap is one of your emergency buttons. It resets the cooldown of all Frost abilities. It can be used offensively to obtain a second Icy Veins or defensively to restore your Ice Barrier and Frost Nova cooldowns.
- Level 40 — 1 point in Ice Barrier
- Levels 41 to 45 — 5 points in Arctic Winds
- Levels 46 to 49 — 4 points in Empowered Frostbolt
Ice Barrier is your second shield spell. If you have shields up while getting hit by an enemy, you will not get dazed and you will not suffer from spell pushback. In any dangerous situation, this very useful spell can save your life! The five points in Arctic Winds will increase your damage and reduce the chance you get hit by physical attacks, which are both very good effects. Empowered Frostbolt not only makes your Frostbolts hit harder and crit more often, it also unlocks access to a very powerful talent at Level 50.
- Level 50 — 1 point in Summon Water Elemental
- Level 51 — 1 point in Empowered Frostbolt
- Level 52 — 1 point in Frost Channeling
- Levels 53 & 54 — 2 points in Arcane Subtlety
- Levels 55 to 57 — 3 points in Arcane Focus
- Levels 58 & 59 — 2 points in Arcane Concentration
The Summon Water Elemental ability will summon a Water Elemental that fights for you for 45 seconds and has an immensely-useful ability called Freeze, which is basically a ranged Frost Nova that you can place anywhere around you. On top of that, this pet also deals decent damage and can be used twice in a row with Cold Snap. From now on, you will be killing enemies so fast that your biggest problem will be restoring enough Mana. You can more-easily control your water Elemental with the following macro:
- /cast Frostbolt
- /cast Freeze
Arcane Subtlety is another new talent you will get between Levels 50 and 60. It reduces your threat with Arcane spells by 40%, which makes your Arcane Explosion in dungeon groups a lot safer to use. With the talent points in Arcane Focus, you reach the Hit Cap against enemies two levels above your level, which is also useful for Arcane Explosioning in Dungeons as mobs there are often one or two levels above your own. Those two talents are also the means to reach the incredibly-important talent of Arcane Concentration, often referred to as clearcasting. This talent gives a chance per cast to make the next damaging spell cast within 10 seconds cost no Mana. This translates into less Mana consumption overall and less downtime spent drinking, resulting in increased leveling speed.
- Levels 60 to 62 — 3 points in Arcane Concentration
- Levels 63 & 64 — 2 points in Arctic Reach
- Levels 65 to 69 — 5 points in Winter's Chill
- Level 70 — 1 point in Ice Floes
After spending your last points into Arcane Concentration, Arctic Reach increases your range with Frost spells. This increased range helps with spells like Frost Nova or Cone of Cold. It also gives you slightly more free time to cast if you pull a mob from maximum range with Frostbolt because the projectile flies for longer. However, this advantage is minor since the projectile is so fast. Another small damage increase is the talent Winter's Chill, which adds an increased crit chance to enemies hit by your Frost spells. Each Frost spell increases the chance of the target to be critically hit by 2%, up to a total of 10%. While this sounds good, in reality your enemies will often not last long enough to make use of the full effect of this talent. The longer an enemy lives, the better this talent is. The last talent point you are going to spend is one point in Ice Floes, which reduces the cooldown of your Cone of Cold, Cold Snap, Ice Barrier, and Ice Block abilities by 10%. As most of these spells are defensive, we get Ice Floes at the end.
Rotation for leveling up as a Single-Target Frost Mage
- Cast Arcane Intellect and Frost Armor if you are missing their buffs.
- Cast Arcane Intellect and Frost Armor if you are missing their buffs. Use Mana Shield in any situation where you could die.
- Cast Arcane Intellect and Ice Armor if you are missing their buffs. Use Mana Shield in any situation where you could die.
- Cast Arcane Intellect and Mage Armor if you are missing their buffs. Use Mana Shield in any situation where you could die.
- Cast Arcane Intellect and Mage Armor if you are missing their buffs. Use Ice Barrier and Mana Shield in any situation where you could die.
- Cast Arcane Intellect and Molten Armor if you are missing their buffs. Use Ice Barrier and Mana Shield in any situation where you could die.
- Cast Fireball as your main attack.
- Cast Frostbolt as your main attack.
- Cast Fireball as your main attack.
- Cast Frostbolt as your main attack. We will be skipping Fireball ranks to save gold, as their damage contribution to your rotation is not worth the investment on a first character.
Shield skills, such as Mana Shield, can be kept up during battle in order to minimize the cast time lost to enemy attacks, thus allowing you to finish them faster. However, Mana Shield also takes Mana from you so you might have to spend more time drinking after using it. Generally it is recommended to use them only as an emergency tool for survival or if you notice that you spend more time regenerating health than regenerating Mana.
Utility skills, such as Frost Nova, should be used to keep enemies away from you or to freeze and finish them off.
You can make your own food and water with Conjure Food and Conjure Water. These spells should definitely be learned, as water and food from vendors will cost you far more gold than these spells do. Sometimes other players even want to buy conjured water and you can gain a little extra gold. Conjured items disappear after 15 minutes of being logged out.
Summary of Trainer Skills for Single-Target Frost Mage
- At Level 1, buy Arcane Intellect as soon as you can afford it. It provides a significant boost to your Intellect which lasts for 30 minutes.
- At Level 4, buy Conjure Water and Frostbolt. Conjure Water creates free water you can use while leveling and to sell to others. Frostbolt deals strong single-target damage and slows the target by 40%.
- At Level 6, buy Conjure Food. Conjure Food creates free food, you can use while leveling and sell to others.
- Also buy Fireball at Level 6, as it does more damage than a Frostbolt without talents.
- At Level 8, buy Polymorph and Frostbolt. Polymorph Rank 1 allows you to take one humanoid or beast enemy out of combat for 20 seconds, which is very useful for looting quest items guarded by a single enemy or when dealing with several enemies. Only one enemy at a time can be Polymorphed and, in TBC, crowd control effects can break at any time with an increasingly-higher chance to break toward the end of the effect.
- At Level 10, learn Conjure Water, Frost Armor, and Frost Nova. Frost Nova freezes nearby enemies for 8 seconds, allowing you to regain distance on them and to gain a damage bonus through Shatter when re-engaging. In these low levels, the damage component of Frost Nova can also be used to finish one enemy off and freeze another enemy to engage them with Frostbolt if you are fighting multiple enemies.
- At Level 12, buy Conjure Food and Slow Fall. Slow Fall slows your falling speed at the cost of a Light Feather. This comes in handy to avoid fall damage and enable shortcuts that would otherwise lead to death.
- At Level 14, buy Arcane Explosion, Arcane Intellect and Frostbolt. Arcane Explosion is your main AoE spell with the single-target spec. It is an instant-cast ability and can also be used to finish off low-health enemies, but it has high Mana cost. When you learn Icy Veins, which reduces your global cooldown while active from its normal 1.5 seconds, you will be able to deal damage faster with Arcane Explosion even faster.
- At Level 18, buy Remove Lesser Curse. Remove Lesser Curse is a bit niche for leveling since you will only rarely get cursed. However, the ability of this spell to remove curses from yourself or friends is very valuable later on in the game and you will definitely use it.
- At Level 20, buy Blink, Frost Armor, Conjure Water, Evocation, Mana Shield, Polymorph and Frostbolt.
- In Stormwind, Ironforge, Exodar (Alliance) and Orgrimmar, Undercity, Silvermoon (Horde) you can now buy the teleport spells for each city.
- Each Teleport spell requires you to use one Rune of Teleportation, which can be bought at any reagent vendor. You can find reagent vendors by clicking the magnifier button on the mini map and they will be automatically displayed there when you are close to one. The Teleport spells can save a lot of travel time and makes learning new spells from your Mage trainers very convenient. Evocation is another great spell you will never want to miss. It restores 60% of your total Mana within 8 seconds. Use this ability as often as you can, as this will also increase your leveling speed by not having to drink. Blink is a utility spell that allows you to travel 20 yards instantly. It removes rooting effects and most stuns from you; you can use it together with Frost Nova to get away from enemies and you can use it as a tactical spell in dungeons to move out of aoe effects or to reposition yourself instead of walking to a new position for several seconds. Other applications of Blink are to skip enemies and to prevent death from falling — when falling down from somewhere, Blink can be used shortly before hitting the ground to avoid fall damage. Mana Shield will avoid cast time pushback and will absorb damage in dangerous situations. However, it costs Mana, so it is advised to be used only when needed as you will have to regenerate that Mana again.
- At Level 22, buy Arcane Explosion and Conjure Food
- At Level 24, buy Counterspell. Counterspell instantly interrupts enemy casts and prevents spells of the interrupted school from being cast for 10 seconds. This ability has a 30-second cooldown and finds a variety of applications in PvP and PvE.
- At Level 26, buy Frostbolt and Cone of Cold. Cone of Cold slows enemies in front of you with a frontal cone. In conjunction with the Shatter talent and a Frost Nova, it can deal severe damage to groups of enemies or finish them off. It can also be used defensively to flee from a dangerous situation, since it is instant-cast and slows enemies for 8 seconds. If you use it as a defensive ability, always use rank 1 to save mana.
- At Level 28, buy Arcane Intellect, Mana Shield, and Conjure Mana Agate. Conjure Mana Agate is the first out of five spells that create Mana Gems, which can be used in and out of combat to instantly restore Mana. These gems do not share a cooldown with Mana Potions, have a 2-minute cooldown, and are consumed on use. Except for the last rank of this spell, these gems cost more Mana to make than they restore, so only use the first four ranks if really needed. As any conjured item, these are destroyed when logging out for more than 15 minutes.
- At Level 30, buy Ice Armor, Ice Block, Arcane Explosion, Conjure Water, and Teleport: Darnassus (Alliance) or Teleport: Thunder Bluff (Horde) at the respective city's portal trainers. You now stop using Frost Armor and use the slightly-better Ice Armor instead. Ice Block is very useful if you get into hairy situations and can be used to remove debuffs on you, avoid any kind of damage, and to buy time when you are waiting for another cooldown or a healing spell to land on you in group content. This spell is very versatile and it is recommended to get a feeling of when to use it. Now that you have Shatter maxed out, it makes sense to learn Fire Blast Ranks 1-4 to "Shatter Combo" enemies. Shatter Combo means that the rotation against frozen targets changes to Frostbolt, followed by a Fire Blast, as both spells will benefit from the increased Critical Strike chance of Shatter. This "trick" will be used later-on with Ice Lance as well and is also useful for quickly finishing weakened enemies.
- At Level 32, buy Conjure Food and Frostbolt.
- At Level 34, buy Mage Armor and Cone of Cold. With Mage Armor, 30% of your Mana regeneration continues while casting. This may not sound like much, but it makes a significant difference for leveling speed. Further, it gives a small amount of magic resistance. At this point you should not get hit by too many physical attacks any more, so Mage Armor is preferred over Ice Armor.
- At Level 35 Portal: Theramore and Teleport: Theramore is available to learn for Alliance players in Theramore while Horde players can learn Portal: Stonard/ Teleport: Stonard in Stonard. The Stonard portal is useful later on to get to Karazhan fast.
- At Level 36, buy Mana Shield.
- At Level 38, buy Arcane Explosion, Conjure Mana Jade, Frostbolt, and Fire Blast.
- At Level 40, buy Conjure Water and Polymorph. At Level 40, you can also start to buy the portal spells for each major city, except for Darnassus and Thunder Bluff which become trainable at level 50. Portals use a Rune of Portals from a reagent vendor and can be used by anyone in your group.
- At Level 42, buy Arcane Intellect, Conjure Food, and Cone of Cold.
- At Level 44, buy Frostbolt and Mana Shield.
- At Level 46, buy Arcane Explosion, Ice Barrier, and Fire Blast.
- At Level 48, buy Conjure Mana Citrine.
- At Level 50, buy Conjure Water, Frostbolt, Cone of Cold, and Portal: Darnassus (Alliance) or Portal: Thunder Bluff (Horde) at each respective city's portal trainers.
- At Level 52, buy Conjure Food, Mana Shield, and Ice Barrier.
- At Level 54, buy Arcane Explosion and Fire Blast.
- At Level 56, buy Arcane Intellect, Arcane Brilliance, and Frostbolt. Arcane Brilliance buffs your whole group with Arcane Intellect and requires one charge of Arcane Powder from reagent vendors per cast.
- At Level 58, buy Conjure Mana Ruby, Cone of Cold, and Ice Barrier.
- At Level 60, buy Conjure Food, Conjure Water, Frostbolt, Blizzard, Polymorph, Mana Shield, and Teleport: Shattrath in the middle of Shattrath (Alliance and Horde). In Outland you can buy better Filtered Draenic Water at Level 60 and Purified Draenic Water at Level 65, which are both better than the conjured Level 60 water. The Level 65 food Clefthoof Ribs is also better than the conjured Level 60 food.
- At Level 61, buy Fire Blast.
- At Level 62, buy Molten Armor and Arcane Explosion. From now on Molten Armor is the suggested Armor type since it adds 3% crit chance and damages mobs when they hit you. It also decreases the chance to be critically hit with Physical attacks.
- At Level 63, buy Frostbolt.
- At Level 64, buy Ice Barrier.
- At Level 65, buy Conjure Water, Cone of Cold and Portal: Shattrath in the middle of Shattrath (Alliance and Horde).
- At Level 66, buy Ice Lance. This is your new Shatter Combo spell to use in conjunction with Frostbolt and has a range that is 10 yards longer than Fire Blast.
- At Level 68, buy Invisibility, Mana Shield, and Conjure Mana Emerald. Invisibility is a new spell that takes 5 seconds to make you invisible. During that time, you fade, which is useful in dungeon groups, as it reduces your threat against all targets by 20% per second until you finally become invisible and drop combat. This spell can also be used to sneak by enemies and reach a quest spot earlier, or to flee and avoid death. The new Mana Emerald contains 3 charges and restores more Mana than it takes to conjure, so you can both use it like the old gems and also use it in between too for a net Mana regeneration.
- At Level 69, buy Frostbolt.
- At Level 70, buy Ice Barrier, Arcane Intellect, and Arcane Explosion, and Spellsteal. Arcane Brilliance, Conjure Food, and Conjure Water are learned from the books Tome of Arcane Brilliance 2, Tome of Conjure Food VIII and Tome of Conjure Water IX, which are all Level 70 dungeon drops. Learning Rank 9 of Conjure Water and Rank 8 of Conjure Food is most important, because these two spells unlock Ritual of Refreshment at your trainer. Ritual of Refreshment uses two Arcane Powders per cast and summons a table which gives everyone who uses it up to 80 Conjured Mana Biscuits. Spellsteal steals one beneficial magic effect from your target, which you can benefit from for a maximum of two minutes. There are a few, but not too many good spells you can steal. However, this ability is required to defeat High King Maulgar in the Gruul's Lair raid.
Additional Frost Mage Information After Reaching Level 70
After you reached level 70, there is still a lot to learn. Our Frost Mage PvE Guide covers the most relevant and up-to-date information about your Frost Mage spells, talents, rotation, gear, and many more.
- 02 Jun. 2021: Added link to Level 70 class guide for this spec.
- 28 May 2021: Fixed typos and spell ranks.
- 26 May 2021: Fixed a bug that always made teleport spells appear.
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