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Frost Mage DPS Rotation, Cooldowns, and Abilities (Legion 7.3)

Last updated on Aug 28, 2017 at 16:31 by Furty 247 comments

Table of Contents

General Information

On this page, we list your Frost Mage core abilities and how they should be used together (rotation) in World of Warcraft Legion 7.3. 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 Author and Reviewer

This guide has been written by Furty, who has an illustrious history in the World of Warcraft raiding scene and race for World First. He has been a member of guilds such as Serenity, Midwinter, and many more, and is currently raiding in Future. He plays most classes at the highest level. You can follow him on Twitter and watch him play on Twitch.

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

1. Ability Priority List

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

  • Cooldowns
  • Lonely Winter
  • Glacial Spike
  • Rune of Power
  • Mirror Image
  • Ray of Frost
  • Ice Nova
  • Tier 20 2-Piece Bonus
  • AoE
  1. Cast Ice Lance Icon Ice Lance if Winter's Chill is applied and/or you have just cast Flurry Icon Flurry.
  2. Cast Rune of Power Icon Rune of Power if Icy Veins Icon Icy Veins is off cooldown, you have reached or are about to reach 2 charges of Rune of Power Icon Rune of Power, or the boss will die before Icy Veins Icon Icy Veins will come of off cooldown.
  3. Cast Mirror Image Icon Mirror Image when available.
  4. Cast Ice Nova Icon Ice Nova after your Ice Lance Icon Ice Lance cast when Winter's Chill is applied to the target.
  5. Cast Rune of Power Icon Rune of Power if talented, before periods where you will deal high burst damage.
  6. Cast Flurry Icon Flurry when you have Brain Freeze Icon Brain Freeze available. Special cases are:
  7. Cast Frost Bomb Icon Frost Bomb if talented, it is not applied to a target already, and you will trigger it with a minimum of 1 Fingers of Frost Icon Fingers of Frost.
  8. Cast Ice Lance Icon Ice Lance if you are at 3 charges of Fingers of Frost Icon Fingers of Frost. If Icy Veins Icon Icy Veins will be up within 10 seconds or less, you should save 2+ charges for its activation instead.
  9. Cast Ice Nova Icon Ice Nova.
  10. Cast Ice Lance Icon Ice Lance as a filler if you have Fingers of Frost Icon Fingers of Frost.
  11. Cast Frostbolt Icon Frostbolt as a filler spell.

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

1.1. Without Lonely Winter

When playing without Lonely Winter Icon Lonely Winter, you must make use of your Water Elemental and its abilities to boost your flow of Fingers of Frost Icon Fingers of Frost procs. Water Jet Icon Water Jet and Freeze Icon Freeze share a cooldown. Freeze Icon Freeze should be used when at least two rootable adds are present and you want to instantly generate Fingers of Frost Icon Fingers of Frost. Water Jet Icon Water Jet should be used when no rootable targets are present. If you play with your Water Elemental on assist you might experience some levels of frustration with these abilities, as the ability range is significantly shorter than the attack range of the Water Elemental. This can be mitigated by micro managing your Water Elemental with pet macros.

2. Important Notes

2.1. AoE

Dealing AoE damage is very straightforward as a Frost Mage. If you are talented into Glacial Spike Icon Glacial Spike, you should cast Blizzard Icon Blizzard on cooldown when 3+ targets are available. If you are talented into Thermal Void Icon Thermal Void, you should instead cast Blizzard Icon Blizzard on cooldown when 2+ targets are present.

You should cast Blizzard on 2+ targets, regardless of talent selection, whenever your Freezing Rain Icon Freezing Rain is active.

Cone of Cold Icon Cone of Cold should only be used for a DPS gain when 18+ targets are available, though it can be useful as a tool for kiting or an instant cast to fill movement on AoE. Do note than even an unempowered Ice Lance Icon Ice Lance is more worthwhile for movement on a single target, so it should only be used in this fashion if several targets are present.

2.2. Frost Bomb

Frost Bomb Icon Frost Bomb is a rather unique ability. This ability is especially effective in dungeons, encounters with waves of adds, or encounters that require burst AoE.

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 with very high priority 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.

2.3. Tier 3 Talents

2.3.1. Rune of Power

Rune of Power Icon Rune of Power is very strong in the right situations, but it does alter the play style in some notable ways. While the ways to fully take advantage of this ability are many and varied, some of the best ways to use this ability are when combined with any of the following.

The ideal way to play around Rune of Power Icon Rune of Power is to save charges of Fingers of Frost Icon Fingers of Frost when any of the above are true, then place the Rune of Power Icon Rune of Power and dump all your charges of Fingers of Frost Icon Fingers of Frost. Use any of the above abilities to regenerate charges of Fingers of Frost Icon Fingers of Frost and spend them while the Rune of Power Icon Rune of Power is active. If you are talented into any abilities that deal a burst of damage, such as Glacial Spike Icon Glacial Spike or Ice Nova Icon Ice Nova, you should also try and line them up with a Rune of Power Icon Rune of Power where possible. Using this ability to maximum efficiency revolves around concentrating as much burst as possible within the large damage buff the rune provides.

2.3.2. Mirror Image

Whenever possible, it is best to synchronize the usage of Icy Veins Icon Icy Veins and Mirror Image Icon Mirror Image. If you delay Mirror Image Icon Mirror Image for Icy Veins Icon Icy Veins and end up casting Mirror Image Icon 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 Icon Icy Veins. If this is not the case, or Mirror Image Icon Mirror Image will help you meet a damage check, it is best used on cooldown. For example, on a fight that lasts exactly 4 minutes, you are better off delaying Mirror Image Icon Mirror Image for your second cast of Icy Veins Icon Icy Veins, rather than casting Mirror Image Icon Mirror Image again around the 2:00 mark and then Icy Veins Icon Icy Veins around the 3:00 mark. The window for this cooldown overlap is quite tight, as Mirror Image Icon Mirror Image lasts 40 seconds. Therefore, you only have a 20-second window available before you would have been able to get an extra Mirror Image Icon Mirror Image cast off, which is best if they will last for at least 10 seconds. There are cases when Mirror Image Icon Mirror Image will need to be slightly delayed, for example, if the boss has an immunity phase. If this happens, you should always delay Mirror Image Icon Mirror Image for the next Icy Veins Icon Icy Veins.

If you are not acutely aware of the duration and timings of any given encounter, always cast Mirror Image Icon Mirror Image on cooldown.

2.3.3. Incanter's Flow

The stacks of this talent should be ignored unless you are very confident in your ability to correctly optimize according to the current period within the Incanter's Flow Icon Incanter's Flow cycle. It is recommended you focus on executing the rest of your specialization correctly since fixating on the Incanter's stacks generally leads to a DPS loss unless executed perfectly.

2.4. Water Jet

Water Jet Icon Water Jet is an ability your Water Elemental gains. It is a 4-second channel that deals damage to your target. While the spell is being channelled, 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, and 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.

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.

2.5. Glacial Spike and Ghost Icicles

Ghost Icicles occur when your target dies while a Frostbolt Icon Frostbolt is in flight. The Icicles counter, which enables use of Glacial Spike Icon Glacial Spike, increments on-cast, while the damage value of each Icicle is not calculated until impact. This can also occur in situations with "chance to miss" mechanics, such as the Concealing Murk Icon Concealing Murk present on Mistress Sassz'ine. The bottom line is that while the counter increments upwards, you do not actually get an Icicle, forcing you to fire a sixth Frostbolt Icon Frostbolt to overflow your Icicles.

3. Core Concepts

Frost Mage is an extremely straightforward specialization, however, it offers enough choice and flexibility that understanding the fundamental concepts of the spec is paramount to success. There are 2 major concepts that form the central core of optimizing for success:

  1. overlapping priority cooldowns and Fingers of Frost Icon Fingers of Frost generators;
  2. movement management.

Managing movement is a fundamental skill shared by all the caster classes in World of Warcraft, and the Mage class lends itself beautifully to dealing with high movement. Learning to fully maximize efficiency with respect to movement is extremely important for all the Mage specializations.

3.1. Cooldown Overlap and Maximizing Cleave

Frost Mage has a variety of talents and abilities that work together in synergy, and therefore they are best combined for an explosive result. In order to achieve the best possible damage output, it is essentially you line up these cooldowns and abilities. For example, if you are playing with Thermal Void Icon Thermal Void, you will want to ensure that Frozen Orb Icon Frozen Orb and Water Jet Icon Water Jet will be available when you use Icy Veins Icon Icy Veins, as this will provide a significant extension to Icy Veins Icon Icy Veins via the sheer amount of Fingers of Frost Icon Fingers of Frost you will be casting. If you are playing Splitting Ice Icon Splitting Ice and Frost Bomb Icon Frost Bomb on an encounter heavily populated by adds, you will want to ensure Frozen Orb Icon Frozen Orb andWater Jet Icon Water Jet are ready for your Frost Bomb Icon Frost Bomb, so you can instantly be pumping out burst AoE damage and cleaving Ice Lance Icon Ice Lances.

Ultimately, Frost Mage is primarily about abusing your Fingers of Frost Icon Fingers of Frost casts in a way that is suitable to the situation. There are an enormous amount of possibilities, synergies, and overlaps that will provide an advantageous result. It is important, therefore, that you as a player think carefully about how you can use your spells in a way that makes sense. Try to avoid using your major abilities haphazardly or without thinking, as this will invariably result in you losing a lot of damage. When your Icy Veins Icon Icy Veins is about to come off cooldown, for example, start thinking about the ways you are going to get as many damaging spells off as possible while it is active. Check your boss timers to see how you can line it up for a phase with increased damage dealt or AoE. A lot of this might seem like common sense, but you would be surprised how uncommon that is!

3.2. Movement Management

While it is difficult to describe the best ways to position and move during a dungeon or raid encounter, it is essential to your success as a Frost Mage. Ice Floes Icon Ice Floes charges set an important balance; it is important to refrain from overusing these and leaving yourself with nothing when it actually matters, but you also want to avoid letting Ice Floes Icon Ice Floes sit at 3 charges when you are moving. Try and use Blink Icon Blink for "urgent" movement — when you need to travel from one place to another as quickly as possible. Ice Floes Icon Ice Floes should be used when you are capped on charges, or when you know you will finish an entire Frostbolt Icon Frostbolt cast while moving. Ice Barrier Icon Ice Barrier is a good choice when you only need to take a few steps, as it only costs a single GCD. For phases with predictable high movement, you should treat Ice Floes Icon Ice Floes as a DPS cooldown and plan your charge usage accordingly. If you are playing with Shimmer Icon Shimmer talented, you using this as a pseudo Ice Floes Icon Ice Floes as it does not interrupt your cast when used. Frost is an especially powerful specialization with respect to movement as you have a variety of spells that are instant cast. You can save charges of Fingers of Frost Icon Fingers of Frost for predictable movement and use these globals to cover the entire distance travelled. Finally, always try to position yourself in a location central to fight movement. For example, if the boss is being moved in a circle, try to stay on the inside of the kite path to ensure minimal movement.

3.3. Opening Sequence

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

  1. Use Potion of Prolonged Power Icon Potion of Prolonged Power
  2. Pre-cast Mirror Image Icon Mirror Image if talented.
  3. Pre-cast  Icon Ebonbolt at 3 seconds on the countdown
  4. Cast Rune of Power Icon Rune of Power if talented.
  5. Activate Icy Veins Icon Icy Veins.
  6. Cast Flurry Icon Flurry.
  7. Cast Ice Lance Icon Ice Lance.
  8. Cast Frozen Orb Icon Frozen Orb.
  9. Apply Frost Bomb Icon Frost Bomb, if talented.
  10. Dump Fingers of Frost Icon Fingers of Frost charges.
  11. Place your Rune of Power Icon Rune of Power when the first expires, if talented.
  12. Use Frostbolt Icon Frostbolt as a filler and cast Glacial Spike Icon Glacial Spike whenever available.
  13. Re-apply Frost Bomb Icon Frost Bomb if necessary.
  14. Dump Fingers of Frost Icon Fingers of Frost charges.
  15. Spend Brain Freeze Icon Brain Freeze whenever available.
  16. Spend Fingers of Frost Icon Fingers of Frost.
  17. Follow normal priority.

4. ChangeLog

+ show all entries - show only 10 entries
  • 28 Aug. 2017: Added a "Glacial Spike and Ghost Icicles" section. Improved AoE section.
  • 20 Aug. 2017: Expanded "Without Lonely Winter" section.
  • 19 Aug. 2017: Added rotational checkbox for Lonely Winter (removing mentions of Water Elemental abilities when checked).
  • 06 Jul. 2017: Updated the Ability Priority List (re-ordered some lines to more accurately represent current talent build, added new checkboxes for talents, and some new information added).
  • 12 Jun. 2017: No changes needed for Patch 7.2.5. A section about T20 set bonuses and how they influence the rotation will be added at a later time.
  • 27 Mar. 2017: No changes needed for Patch 7.2.
  • 13 Feb. 2017: Updated the opener.
  • 11 Jan. 2017: Removed some leftover mentions of abilities that were reworked.
  • 09 Jan. 2017: Updated for Patch 7.1.5.
  • 26 Oct. 2016: Updated for 7.1!
  • 05 Sep. 2016: Simplified rotation by adding checkboxes to hide or reveal specific lines (cooldown, talents, AoE, etc.).
  • 29 Aug. 2016: Updated for Legion's launch.
  • 18 Jul. 2016: Updated for the Legion pre-patch.
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