Frost Mage DPS Rotation, Cooldowns, and Abilities — Battle for Azeroth (BfA) 8.2

Last updated on Jul 08, 2019 at 20:24 by Kuni 122 comments
General Information

On this page, you will learn how to optimize the rotation of your Frost Mage in both single-target and multiple-target situations. We also have advanced sections about cooldowns, procs, etc. in order to minmax your DPS. All our content is updated for World of Warcraft — Battle for Azeroth (BfA) 8.2.

1. Single Target Ability Priority List for Frost Mage

1.1. The Basics

At its most basic, the premise of Frost Mage is to spam Frostbolt Icon Frostbolt until you get a proc. Fingers of Frost Icon Fingers of Frost should be utilized immediately by casting Ice Lance Icon Ice Lance. Brain Freeze Icon Brain Freeze wants you to use a cast time spell, like Frostbolt or Glacial Spike Icon Glacial Spike, going into Flurry Icon Flurry and then Ice Lance.

This cast time spell > Flurry Icon Flurry > Ice Lance Icon Ice Lance combo is the heart of the spec, and if you have that committed to memory, then the rest is fairly simple. Anything beyond it is simply cooldown management. The priority lists below will showcase where exactly they are to be used optimally, but as long as they are being used at all, your damage should not suffer too severely.

At the current gear level, there is the potential to drop Ice Lance Icon Ice Lance out of use entirely. For information on this build, please click here or scroll down.

There is also a different build that focuses on Packed Ice Icon Packed Ice, and pumping out as much damage as possible into the 14-second window it provides. Information on this "Frozen Orb build" can be found here, or by scrolling down.

1.2. The Rotation

This is a priority system, not a rotation. This means things higher up have priority over things lower on the list, rather than cast them in this order. You would go down the list until you hit the first thing that is true, cast that spell, then go back to the top and start again. This of course assumes raw single target with no mechanics. Please do not go throwing Icy Veins Icon Icy Veins into an immunity phase.

Use the switches below to tailor the rotation to the talents you are using or situations you expect to be facing, and it will populate the rotation priority list appropriately:

  1. Cast Ice Lance Icon Ice Lance after every Flurry Icon Flurry cast.
  2. Cast Condensed Life-Force Icon Condensed Life-Force, if equipped.
  3. Cast Icy Veins Icon Icy Veins.
  4. Flurry Icon Flurry if you have Brain Freeze Icon Brain Freeze and you have just cast either Ebonbolt Icon Ebonbolt or Frostbolt Icon Frostbolt.
  5. Cast any other Azerite Essence that is currently equipped.
  6. Cast Frozen Orb Icon Frozen Orb.
  7. Cast Ice Lance Icon Ice Lance if you have Fingers of Frost Icon Fingers of Frost.
  8. Cast Frostbolt Icon Frostbolt.

1.3. With Glacial Spike Talented

You never want to cast Glacial Spike Icon Glacial Spike without it either hitting 2 targets, or being Shatter Icon Shattered using Brain Freeze Icon Brain Freeze. In addition, Glacial Spike builds still cast Ebonbolt Icon Ebonbolt on cooldown, but choose to keep or spend the Brain Freeze Icon Brain Freeze depending on how many Icicles they currently have. 0-3 choose to Shatter the Ebonbolt, and 4-5 hold onto it for Glacial Spike.

  1. Cast Ice Lance Icon Ice Lance after every Flurry Icon Flurry cast.
  2. Cast Icy Veins Icon Icy Veins.
  3. Cast Flurry Icon Flurry if you have Brain Freeze Icon Brain Freeze and
  4. Cast Frozen Orb Icon Frozen Orb.
  5. Cast Ice Lance Icon Ice Lance if you have Fingers of Frost Icon Fingers of Frost.
  6. Cast Glacial Spike Icon Glacial Spike only if you have Brain Freeze Icon Brain Freeze or it will cleave a second target.
  7. Cast Frostbolt Icon Frostbolt.

Note that there is an edge case of being at 3 Icicles, casting the fourth Frostbolt Icon Frostbolt, and having a Brain Freeze Icon Brain Freeze active. In this situation you would cast the Frostbolt for your 4th Icicle and then hold onto the Brain Freeze for the Glacial Spike Icon Glacial Spike.

2. Multiple Target Priority for Frost Mage

The AoE priority system should kick in when you are fighting 5 or more mobs, dropping to the above rotations once you fall below.

Special consideration should be used for Freeze Icon Freeze. This will let you get a free Shatter Icon Shatter on a group of mobs. Try and pair it with Comet Storm Icon Comet Storm, right as it impacts. It will not work on all the comets, but it should Shatter most. If possible, try and follow that Freeze with Cone of Cold Icon Cone of Cold to get the most out of the frozen window.

Use the switches below to tailor the rotation to the talents you are using or situations you expect to be facing, and it will populate the rotation priority list appropriately:

  1. Cast Ice Lance Icon Ice Lance after every Flurry Icon Flurry cast.
  2. Cast Condensed Life-Force Icon Condensed Life-Force, if equipped.
  3. Icy Veins Icon Icy Veins
  4. Cast any other Azerite Essence you have equipped.
  5. Cast Frozen Orb Icon Frozen Orb
  6. Cast Blizzard Icon Blizzard
  7. Cast Cone of Cold Icon Cone of Cold
  8. Cast Flurry Icon Flurry using the above single-target list conditionals, based on if you have Glacial Spike Icon Glacial Spike or not.
  9. Cast Ice Lance Icon Ice Lance with Fingers of Frost Icon Fingers of Frost.
  10. Cast Frostbolt Icon Frostbolt.

3. Core Concepts for Frost Mage

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 4 major concepts that form the central core of optimizing for success:

  1. always be casting;
  2. movement management;
  3. proc management;
  4. maximizing cleave.

3.1. 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.

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 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 Barrier Icon Ice Barrier is a good choice when you only need to take a few steps, as it only costs a single global cooldown. For phases with predictable high movement, you should treat Ice Floes as a DPS cooldown and plan your charge usage accordingly. If you are playing with Shimmer Icon Shimmer talented, you should be using this as a pseudo 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.

3.2. Proc Management

Proc management differs slightly depending on if you are talented into Glacial Spike Icon Glacial Spike or not. Non-Glacial Spike variants wish to, ideally, use Fingers of Frost Icon Fingers of Frost and Brain Freeze Icon Brain Freeze as they come: Fingers of Frost, through straight Ice Lance Icon Ice Lance casts, and Brain Freeze, through the primary cast time spell > Flurry Icon Flurry > Ice Lance combo. Now, there are situations in which you have mentally committed yourself to going into your Frostbolt Icon Frostbolt > Flurry > Ice Lance, but you proc Fingers of Frost on that Frostbolt. Almost no human can react that quickly, and the optimal play is to simply continue with what spells you had queued, and lose the Fingers of Frost proc. It is unfortunate, but that is the optimal breakdown in that situation.

In Glacial Spike Icon Glacial Spike talent sets, the play is slightly different, although it uses most of the same logic as above, if you're at 0-3 Icicles. Brain Freeze Icon Brain Freeze is saved for Glacial Spike casts, if you're currently at 4-5 Icicles.This is considered at the time of actually casting that Flurry Icon Flurry, not the preceding Frostbolt Icon Frostbolt. If you have 3 Icicles, have Brain Freeze, and are casting Frostbolt: your Frostbolt will provide you Icicle #4 and your Flurry should be held. Likewise, in the same situation except with 2 Icicles, your Frostbolt provides Icicle #3, and Flurry should be used to Shatter Icon Shatter that Frostbolt. If you are exceedingly lucky, and proc multiple Brain Freezes back to back, you simply consider them each individually, and cast them in the cast time spell > Flurry > Ice Lance combo.

For further information on how and why the cast time spell > Flurry > Ice Lance combo works, see this section on the FAQ page.

There is never a situation in which you will fire two Flurry Icon Flurrys back to back. Likewise, there is never a situation in which you go Frostbolt Icon Frostbolt > Flurry > Ice Lance Icon Ice Lance > Flurry > Ice Lance. You always have a cast time spell — Frostbolt, Ebonbolt Icon Ebonbolt, or Glacial Spike Icon Glacial Spike — preceding Flurry, regardless of talent setup.

3.3. Maximizing Cleave

Ultimately, Frost Mage is primarily about abusing your 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 Frozen Orb Icon Frozen Orb is about to come off cooldown, for example, start thinking about the ways you are going to cleave with it. 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!

3.4. Opening Sequence for Frost Mage

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

  1. Use Potion of Unbridled Fury Icon Potion of Unbridled Fury.
  2. Cast Condensed Life-Force Icon Condensed Life-Force, if equipped.
  3. Pre-cast Mirror Image Icon Mirror Image, if talented.
  4. Pre-cast Frostbolt Icon Frostbolt at 2 seconds on the countdown.
  5. Activate Icy Veins Icon Icy Veins.
  6. Cast any other Azerite Essence equipped.
  7. Cast Frozen Orb Icon Frozen Orb.
  8. Place your Rune of Power Icon Rune of Power, if talented.
  9. Dump Fingers of Frost Icon Fingers of Frost charges.
  10. Use large damage cooldown spells, such as Comet Storm Icon Comet Storm.
  11. Follow your normal priority.

3.5. Tier 3 Talents

3.5.1. 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:

Functionally, if you just threw Frozen Orb Icon Frozen Orb, you should be casting Rune of Power Icon Rune of Power next. The extra charges should be spent either on large cooldowns like Comet Storm Icon Comet Storm and Ray of Frost Icon Ray of Frost if you're not specced for Glacial Spike Icon Glacial Spike, and Glacial Spike if you are.

3.5.2. 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 for Icy Veins and end up casting Mirror Image just as many times as if you had cast it on cooldown, then it is more efficient to delay it and synchronize it with Icy Veins. If this is not the case, or 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 for your second cast of Icy Veins rather than casting Mirror Image again around the 2:00 mark and then Icy Veins around the 3:00 mark. The window for this cooldown overlap is quite tight, as 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 cast off. There are cases when 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 for the next 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.

3.5.3. Incanter's Flow

The stacks of this talent should be ignored. Any attempts to optimize for it using a simulation have been met with indifference or loss. It is simply not worth doing.

4. No Ice Lance Rotation

4.1. Introduction and Explanation

With certain gearsets, Ice Lance Icon Ice Lance falls out of use. Primarily, this requires the player to have no Ice Lance-specific Azerite traits, and 3 Flash Freeze Icon Flash Freeze equipped. Other traits, such as Tunnel of Ice Icon Tunnel of Ice, are also greatly encouraged for this build. However, these traits may not be enough on their own, as this build has an extreme influence on the strength of Mastery as a stat. Some players may have the required traits, and still find this to be a DPS loss due to not having enough Mastery. Others may find the opposite, in that they have too much Mastery to the point that it out-weighs the lack of Azerite traits.

Talents for this option can be found at the talent page.

As should be expected, this build only works on raw single target. In cleave scenarios, Ice Lance Icon Ice Lance is ridiculously valuable for the extra 80% damage to a second target through Splitting Ice Icon Splitting Ice.

A custom APL for this build can be found on the simulation page, so you may test if it works with your own gear.

4.2. Rotation

As with the normal Frost rotations above, this is a priority system. Higher ranked things are simply higher in priority, and not cast in that order.

  1. Use on-use stat trinkets after a Glacial Spike Icon Glacial Spike has been cast, but before it impacts, to maximize the potential amount of Glacial Spikes cast under the trinket's effect.
  2. Cast Flurry Icon Flurry if you have Brain Freeze Icon Brain Freeze and you have just cast either Glacial Spike Icon Glacial Spike, or Ebonbolt Icon Ebonbolt, if you already have a Brain Freeze proc active.
  3. Cast Condensed Life-Force Icon Condensed Life-Force, if equipped.
  4. Cast Icy Veins Icon Icy Veins if you are ready to cast Glacial Spike Icon Glacial Spike and have either Brain Freeze Icon Brain Freeze ready, or your last spell cast was Ebonbolt Icon Ebonbolt.
  5. Use your potion of choice, immediately after Icy Veins Icon Icy Veins.
  6. Use any other Azerite Essence equipped.
  7. Cast Frozen Orb Icon Frozen Orb, if off cooldown.
  8. Cast Glacial Spike Icon Glacial Spike, if you have Brain Freeze Icon Brain Freeze, or you just cast Ebonbolt Icon Ebonbolt, which will grant you a Brain Freeze for use with Glacial Spike.
  9. Cast Ebonbolt Icon Ebonbolt if you are at 5 Icicles, but do not have Brain Freeze Icon Brain Freeze.
  10. Cast Frostbolt Icon Frostbolt.

You will notice that there are no casts of Ice Lance Icon Ice Lance, even after a Flurry Icon Flurry. This is because everything in this build is set to prop up the other spells as much as possible, with as few benefits to Ice Lance as possible.

As this is a fairly unorthodox build, it should be patched out by Blizzard sooner or later. Until then, it is a viable, even optimal, build to use on raw single-target fights.

5. Frozen Orb Build Rotation

5.1. Introduction and Explanation

With a very specific Azerite setup, there is a gameplay option that opens up, which is somewhat different than the traditional Frost style. This requires 3 Packed Ice Icon Packed Ice, and prefers 1 Flash Freeze Icon Flash Freeze for the Fingers of Frost Icon Fingers of Frost chance, and at least 1 Whiteout Icon Whiteout for the Frozen Orb Icon Frozen Orb cooldown reduction. The last trait should be another Whiteout or something like Treacherous Covenant Icon Treacherous Covenant that provides a boost that benefits Ice Lance Icon Ice Lance's large spell power coefficient.

Due to this playstyle's reliance on Ice Lance Icon Ice Lance, Mastery's value drops significantly, although it is not useless. Minimizing Mastery on your gear is very helpful, and properly itemized sets can match or even beat traditional Frost DPS even on single target fights.

Talents for this option can be found on our talent page.

Information on how to simulate this playstyle may be found on our simulation page.

5.2. Rotation

The rotation can be simplified to "stack as much into Packed Ice Icon Packed Ice as possible". It also breaks a number of normal Frost's rules, such as ignoring preceding Flurry Icon Flurry with a cast time spell, but only during Packed Ice Icon Packed Ice. Ray of Frost Icon Ray of Frost is used mostly to fuel Fingers of Frost Icon Fingers of Frost procs, not so much for the damage the spell itself does, which is why it is interrupted as soon as you cap out at 2 procs, even if it is not finished casting.

  1. Cast Ice Lance Icon Ice Lance after every Flurry Icon Flurry cast.
  2. Cast Condensed Life-Force Icon Condensed Life-Force, if equipped.
  3. Cast Icy Veins Icon Icy Veins if Frozen Orb Icon Frozen Orb is either available or will be up in the next 4 seconds.
  4. Cast Rune of Power Icon Rune of Power directly after your Frozen Orb Icon Frozen Orb.
  5. Cast any other Azerite Essence you have equipped.
  6. Cast Frozen Orb Icon Frozen Orb on cooldown.
  7. Cast Ice Lance Icon Ice Lance when you have Fingers of Frost Icon Fingers of Frost, but try and save a single proc if Frozen Orb Icon Frozen Orb is coming up in the next 4 seconds, thereby allowing an extra cast inside Packed Ice Icon Packed Ice.
  8. Cast Blizzard Icon Blizzard if it is currently instant cast, due to being talented into Freezing Rain Icon Freezing Rain.
  9. Cast Flurry Icon Flurry if Brain Freeze Icon Brain Freeze is up, and:
    1. if Packed Ice Icon Packed Ice is not on the target, after a Frostbolt Icon Frostbolt, like the standard rotation, or;
    2. if Packed Ice Icon Packed Ice is on the target, immediately.
  10. Cast Ray of Frost Icon Ray of Frost, if talented, when Packed Ice Icon Packed Ice is on the target, and interrupt it as soon as you hit two Fingers of Frost Icon Fingers of Frost.
  11. Cast Blizzard Icon Blizzard on cooldown, even on a single target.
  12. Cast Frostbolt Icon Frostbolt.

Due to stacking as much into Packed Ice Icon Packed Ice as possible, this build is optimal on sustained cleave fights such as Restless Cabal, although it performs just as well as most other versions of Frost on single target. It is an interesting gameplay alternative for those with the gear to pull it off.

6. Changelog

  • 08 Jul. 2019: Added Essence rotation locations.
  • 24 Jun. 2019: This page has been reviewed for the release of Patch 8.2 and no changes are necessary.
  • 12 May 2019: Added Frozen Orb build information.
  • 14 Apr. 2019: This page has been reviewed and no changes are necessary for the release of the Crucible of Storms raid.
  • 10 Mar. 2019: Added no Ice Lance rotation information.
  • 22 Jan. 2019: Added a link for more information regarding Winter's Chill/Glacial Spike details.
  • 10 Dec. 2018: Removed mentions of Winter's Reach. Updated for 8.1.
  • 16 Oct. 2018: Updated Rune of Power, Glacial Spike's Ebonbolt logic.
  • 18 Sep. 2018: Updated with talent selection tick boxes.
  • 13 Aug. 2018: Updated for Battle for Azeroth launch.
  • 20 Jul. 2018: Clarified an edge case with Brain Freeze/Glacial Spike interaction.
  • 19 Jul. 2018: Added a description to the core of the spec.
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