Frost Mage DPS Rotation, Cooldowns, and Abilities in Battle for Azeroth (BfA) 8.0.1

Last updated on Oct 16, 2018 at 10:05 by Kuni 99 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 Battle for Azeroth 8.0.1. 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

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

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.

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 Icy Veins Icon Icy Veins.
  3. Flurry Icon Flurry if you have Brain Freeze Icon Brain Freeze and you have just cast either Ebonbolt Icon Ebonbolt or Frostbolt Icon Frostbolt.
  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 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. Icy Veins Icon Icy Veins
  3. Cast Frozen Orb Icon Frozen Orb
  4. Cast Blizzard Icon Blizzard
  5. Cast Cone of Cold Icon Cone of Cold
  6. Cast Flurry Icon Flurry using the above single-target list conditionals, based on if you have Glacial Spike Icon Glacial Spike or not.
  7. Cast Ice Lance Icon Ice Lance with Fingers of Frost Icon Fingers of Frost.
  8. 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 2 major concepts that form the central core of optimizing for success:

  1. always be casting;
  2. movement management;
  3. proc 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.

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.

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.

3.1. 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 essential you line up these cooldowns and abilities. For example, if you are playing with Glacial Spike Icon Glacial Spike, you will want to ensure that Ebonbolt Icon Ebonbolt will be available in case you do not have a Brain Freeze Icon Brain Freeze when you hit 5 Icicles.

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!

3.2. 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 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.

3.3. Opening Sequence for Frost Mage

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

  1. Use Potion of Rising Death Icon Potion of Rising Death.
  2. Pre-cast Mirror Image Icon Mirror Image, if talented.
  3. Pre-cast Frostbolt Icon Frostbolt at 2 seconds on the countdown.
  4. Activate Icy Veins Icon Icy Veins.
  5. Cast Frozen Orb Icon Frozen Orb.
  6. Place your Rune of Power Icon Rune of Power, if talented.
  7. Dump Fingers of Frost Icon Fingers of Frost charges.
  8. Use large damage cooldown spells, such as Comet Storm Icon Comet Storm.
  9. Follow your normal priority.

3.4. Tier 3 Talents

3.4.1. 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.

3.4.2. 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.

3.4.3. 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. Changelog

  • 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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