Frost Mage Frequently Asked Questions — Battle for Azeroth (BfA) 8.1
On this page, we go over several of the most frequently asked questions regarding Frost Mage in World of Warcraft — Battle for Azeroth Battle for Azeroth (BfA) 8.1. This will be updated as more common repeated questions surface over the course of the expansion.
1. Glacial Spike's Brain Freeze Usage
The rule for Glacial Spike's Brain Freeze usage is you hold the proc when you are at 4-5 Icicles. The question related to this seen the most is "Brain Freeze procced, I am casting the next Frostbolt, and I am at X Icicles. Do I use it?" The easiest answer is consider how many Icicles you are going to be at when you fire Flurry, rather than how many you are at while casting Frostbolt.
If you are at 2 Icicles, just procced Brain Freeze, and are casting the Frostbolt that will generate Icicle #3; you will be at 3 Icicles when you would be pressing Flurry, so do so. In the same vein — you are at 3, Brain Freeze procced there, currently casting Frostbolt for 4th; you will be at 4 Icicles when you actually fire Flurry in that situation, so you do not use it, instead holding it for Glacial Spike.
2. "How do you Shatter Glacial Spike?" and Other Winter's Chill Questions
Frost is unique among casters. Every other caster in the game calculates if their spell is going to Critically Strike the moment it leaves your hands. Due to Winter's Chill wanting you to cast an Ice Lance directly afterwards, but being unable to be applied to the target at long distance before the Global Cooldown is up, Blizzard changed when Frost's spells check their Critical roll to the moment of impact.
This moment of spell checking allows for the slower traveling Glacial Spike, Ebonbolt, and Frostbolt to be launched first, but impact after the first bolt of the extremely fast Flurry, assuming it is cast directly afterwards. It is this cast time spell → Flurry → Ice Lance combo that is the heart of Frost, and it is this combo you must master to be competent in the spec, regardless of talents chosen.
In addition, Ice Lance also has a fairly fast travel speed, and should always follow up any Flurry cast with Brain Freeze. Winter's Chill will consider the target frozen — Ice Lance will Shatter and gain the triple damage benefit, just as if it were cast under Fingers of Frost. And again, since Frost's spells calculate their Critical status on the moment of impact, you should cast it immediately afterwards rather than wait for Winter's Chill to apply to the target. The travel time involved will make sure your Ice Lance always benefits from frozen status. Waiting will make you miss the window.
3. Cancelling Frostbolt on Brain Freeze Generation
Simply: do not.
While it is technically a gain to cancel a Frostbolt cast if you can hit it in the first 750 milliseconds of the cast once you get Brain Freeze at 5 Icicles, the actual gain from it is so minor as to be almost unnoticeable. We cannot foresee any real situation in which this is an optimization even top end players attempt to do.
All effort at attempting to min-max this small of a gain should instead be spent on optimizing your normal gameplay, as you will see larger gains out of that, be it through minimizing movement or getting more comfortable with the flow of a fight, allowing you to plan things out like how to AoE more effectively, or simply minimizing your downtime.
4. Is there a Haste cap for Frost Mage?
Technically, there are a few soft caps, yes. They are not obtainable caps, and should not be worried about. Regardless, they are here for the sake of information.
The GCD cap, in which the GCD for all spells cannot be lowered any further, is at +100% Haste. This is what people are usually referring to in regards to any form of Haste cap. Due to the spec having Icy Veins, this has historically been something Frost Mages have bumped up against. In Legion, the GCD cap was moved from +50% to +100%, negating almost all normal scenarios in which it is a consideration, and thus is not a thing to worry about as of now.
Any other caps that are mentioned are soft caps, such as the number of spells you could fit into a single Rune of Power or trinket effect, boss vulnerability timer, or the amount of Haste required to bring a cast time spell down to GCD cap. Most of these should not be worried about in standard play.
5. Is there a Critical Strike cap for Frost Mage? How much do I need?
There is a Shatter cap, at 33.34%. This is the point that all spells considered frozen will crit. Beyond that, there is the absolute cap of 100%.
As to how much is needed, that will depend on your gear and how you sim. While stat weights are not a great idea for soft caps like Shatter, due to how they're calculated, the gear comparisons will always ring true. You should always simulate your gear options, no matter what. Simulating will be how anyone, including top end theorycrafters, raiders, and people in the Altered Time Discord Questions channel, will provide help to you.
6. Which Race is the Best for Frost Mage?
Technically, Dwarf for single target. Vold Elf would be the better option for both single target and AoE, although Lightforged will win raw AoE simply due to their massive AoE burst racial. That said, the actual difference from best race to worst race is less than 1%, so the most realistic answer is "whichever your transmog looks best on". Details can be found on the simulations page.
7. How good is Frost Mage in Battle for Azeroth (Patch 8.1)?
Upper mid-pack, with the right traits. It is solidly a fair bit behind Arcane, but edges Fire out in Patchwerk simulations. For more information, check the spec viability section on the introduction page.
- 21 Dec. 2018: Added questions about stat caps, viability, and races.
- 10 Dec. 2018: This page has been reviewed for Patch 8.1 and no changes are necessary.
- 01 Sep. 2018: Added Frostbolt cancelling information.
- 20 Aug. 2018: Added FAQ page for Frost Mage.
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