Frost Mage DPS Rotation, Cooldowns, and Abilities — Dragonflight 10.2
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 — Dragonflight 10.2.
If you were looking for WotLK Classic content, please refer to our WotLK Classic Frost Mage rotation.
Single Target Ability Priority List for Frost Mage
At its most basic, the premise of Frost Mage is to spam Frostbolt until you gain a proc. Fingers of Frost allows you to cast Ice Lance and gain the benefits of the frozen state. Brain Freeze resets the cooldown of Flurry and Flurry wants you to use a cast time spell, like Frostbolt, going into the Flurry, and then follow up with 2 Ice Lances to consume the 2 remaining Winter's Chill charges.
This Frostbolt > Flurry > Ice Lance > Ice Lance combo is the heart of the spec, and if you have that committed to memory, then the rest is simple. Anything beyond it is simply cooldown and movement 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.
Adding talents to the mix, you gain a few cooldowns and the requirement to keep track of your Mastery: Icicles. All of the spells added by talents still want to take advantage of the idea of the combo above but are used slightly differently each. Comet Storm should follow a Flurry so that it lands as Winter's Chill is still on the target, allowing all comets to Shatter. Likewise, Ray of Frost wants to be cast into the final charge of Winter's Chill to benefit the entire channel. Glacial Spike wants to Shatter as many casts as possible, either replacing the Frostbolt that precedes the Flurry in the combo or one of the spells that would take the place of the following Ice Lances.
On single target, Shifting Power should simply be used whenever all of your talented cooldowns are on cooldown, and you have no procs to go.
PvP plays slightly differently, favoring burst windows rather than the sustained DPS of PvE. More information about PvP can be found in our PvP guide found here:
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 true thing, 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 into an immunity phase.
|Active Talents||Passive Talents|
|Shifting Power||Temporal Warp|
|Comet Storm||Ice Caller|
|Glacial Spike||Coldest Snap|
|Ray of Frost|
- Cast Icy Veins.
- Cast Frozen Orb.
- Cast Ice Lance whenever there are charges of Winter's Chill on the target that is not otherwise prioritized.
- Cast Ice Lance if you have Fingers of Frost.
- Cast Frostbolt.
This boils down to Shatter your big cooldowns like Ray of Frost and Comet Storm, and play around your Mastery: Icicles and Flurry to land Glacial Spike inside Winter's Chill. This means that you can have situations where you are at 3 Icicles, throwing Flurry > Ice Lance > Glacial Spike. Likewise Glacial Spike > Flurry > Ice Lance > Ice Lance is valid, as is Frostbolt > Flurry > Glacial Spike > Ice Lance. Just do what you can to hit 5 Icicles, and fire Glacial Spike into Winter's Chill.
Notes on Two Target with T31
With the addition of Mage Frost 10.2 Class Set 2pc, we end up in a strange situation on two unfreezable targets where the most benefit you can get is by casting Flurry at one target, swapping targets to hit Glacial Spike into the second charge of Flurry, so both land in a "frozen" target and explode, dealing damage to each other. On freezable targets you can just abuse Ice Nova and Frost Nova to force both targets to be frozen, so this situation is going to be specifically 2 target unfreezable mobs, which is a somewhat rare encounter.
Should this situation arise, save all your Flurry charges for the Glacial Spike double target.
It should be noted that this only really works on 2 target scenarios, because multiple grouped mobs means that it is unlikely you will manage to cleave both targets with Winter's Chill active. So, while this scenario is fairly rare, it should be kept in mind, as it is a relatively high DPS gain to do it.
Multiple Target Priority for Frost Mage
The AoE priority system should kick in when you are fighting 3 or more mobs, dropping to the above rotations once you fall below.
For the most part, if you have Ice Caller talented, your AoE consists of Frozen Orb and Blizzard to lower the cooldown. That is the primary driver. Everything else is just cooldown management, such as Ice Nova, and Shifting Power.
If you do not have Ice Caller talented, do not AoE until 7 targets. Also, consider speccing Ice Caller next time you do that fight.
The very rare time where a raid will want Coldest Snap, you should simply cast Cone of Cold after a Comet Storm, and then recasting Frozen Orb and Comet Storm right afterward.
- Icy Veins
- Cast Frozen Orb
- Cast Blizzard
- Cast Flurry if available.
- Cast Ice Lance if you have Fingers of Frost available.
- Cast Arcane Explosion if there are 7 or more targets, and you are above 30% Mana.
- Cast Frostbolt.
For a Mythic+ specific look at how to effectively AoE with a proper AoE build, see the M+ page:
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. 4 major concepts form the central core of optimizing for success:
- always be casting;
- movement management;
- proc management;
- maximizing cleave.
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 concerning 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 charges set an important balance; it is important to refrain from overusing these and leaving yourself with nothing when it matters, but you also want to avoid letting Ice Floes sit at 3 charges when you are moving. Try and use Blink for urgent movement — when you need to travel from one place to another as quickly as possible. 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 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 concerning movement, as you have a variety of spells that are instant cast. You can save charges of 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.
Alter Time is likewise useful in terms of movement. Casting it just after getting a raid mechanic you have to deal with by moving out of the raid will make your return instantaneous. In terms of DPS throughput, using Alter Time as a movement ability is always better than a heal unless your healers are overwhelmed, and you will likely die without it.
Use Fingers of Frost and Brain Freeze as they come: Fingers of Frost, through straight Ice Lance casts, and Brain Freeze, through the primary Frostbolt > Flurry > Ice Lance > Ice Lance combo. Now, there are situations in which you have mentally committed yourself to going into your Frostbolt > Flurry > Ice Lance > Ice Lance, but you proc Fingers of Frost on that Frostbolt. That is unfortunate, but the Flurry is worth more overall. There is a small upside in most builds, though. Wintertide increases the damage of the Ice Lance cast into a "double frozen" scenario like this by 20%. While it is not optimal, it lessens the impact.
For further information on how and why the Frostbolt > Flurry > Ice Lance > Ice Lance combo works, see this section on the FAQ page.
When talented into Glacial Spike, Flurry timing becomes a bit of a game to see if you can land Glacial Spike somewhere within the combo. If, for instance, you finished casting some Ice Lances and are at 4 Icicles, you should instead just Flurry into Glacial Spike, skipping the initial spell in the combo.
Additionally, Comet Storm and Ray of Frost should both be held for Flurry. In the case of Comet Storm, you want to make sure you have enough time for the comets to finish falling within the Winter's Chill window. You could space this out by Flurry, Ice Lance, Comet Storm, Frostbolt, then Ice Lance. The Frostbolt should give you the extra time that you otherwise would not have, and the second Ice Lance will impact before Frostbolt unless you are extremely close to the target.
Ray of Frost, on the other hand, wants to be cast into the second charge of Winter's Chill at most relevant gear levels so as to not waste there being two charges on the target.
Some timing notes:
- 27% Haste lets you Flurry into Comet Storm or Ice Lance into Ray of Frost
- 48% Haste lets you Flurry into Glacial Spike into Ray of Frost
- 52% Haste lets you Flurry into Ice Lance into Comet Storm into Ray of Frost
- 173% Haste lets you Flurry into Comet Storm into Glacial Spike into Ray of Frost
These values are slightly off due to the nature of travel time of Flurry against debuff duration, so this is an absolute worst-case scenario for each. In practice, the values should be slightly lower, so consider these points that you will absolutely make the timer.
Obviously, the last one is a bit of an absurdity, but there are commonly mechanics that grant a Haste buff you could stack with your own buffs.
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 is about to come off cooldown, for example, start thinking about the ways you are going to cleave with it or if the boss is going to be moved. 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!
Opening Sequence for Frost Mage
We advise you to use the following opening sequence (or opener).
- Pre-cast Frostbolt at 2 seconds on the countdown.
- Cast Flurry to start the cooldown and to Shatter the prior Frostbolt.
- Frostbolt should land, and the boss encounter should have begun at this point.
- Activate Icy Veins and Time Warp if popping on pull.
- Cast Comet Storm.
- Cast Ice Lance to consume the first stack of Winter's Chill.
- Cast Ray of Frost.
- Cast Ice Lance to use one of your two Fingers of Frost from Ray of Frost.
- Cast Flurry.
- Cast Glacial Spike.
- Cast Frozen Orb.
- Cast Ice Lance to consume the second Fingers of Frost from Ray of Frost before Frozen Orb impacts and grants the first proc from it.
- Follow your normal priority.
There is the argument to do this in the reverse order, with Frozen Orb first, and then Ray of Frost after Orb expires. They are both functionally identical in long-term DPS. However, Ray of Frost first has the benefit of front-loading your burst, which is usually more beneficial in practical encounters.
- 12 Nov. 2023: Removed an outdated paragraph in section 3.2 and replaced it with a more in-depth dive on proc usage since the 10.1.5 changes.
- 06 Nov. 2023: Added information about T31's impact on our 2 target DPS.
- 04 Sep. 2023: Reviewed for Patch 10.1.7
- 11 Aug. 2023: Shifting Power should be used in Icy Veins, once RoF/CmS/FO are on cooldown.
- 01 Aug. 2023: Added missing rotational piece for casting Glacial Spike during Icy Veins without Flurry proc.
- 10 Jul. 2023: Updated for Patch 10.1.5's rotational changes. Potentially further changes as theorycraft evolves over the next couple of months.
- 01 May 2023: Added toggles for the AoE rotation set. Less Lance is down to 1.7% lead.
- 20 Mar. 2023: Added notes about the Less Ice Lance rotation set.
- 24 Jan. 2023: Reviewed for Patch 10.0.5.
- 11 Dec. 2022: Updated Blizzard target values with/without Ice Caller.
- 28 Nov. 2022: Updated for Dragonflight launch.
- 24 Oct. 2022: Updated for Dragonflight pre-patch.
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